Home MusicEP Reviews “Better Days Ahead”: Embarking on a Sonic Rock Journey with Minimum Champion’s New EP

“Better Days Ahead”: Embarking on a Sonic Rock Journey with Minimum Champion’s New EP

by Jonathan Currinn
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Longtime hardcore drummer Nicholas Lopardo has emerged from behind the drumkit to showcase his singer-songwriter prowess with the sophomore EP “Better Days Ahead”, released under his solo project Minimum Champion. He previously released his debut EP in 2022, titled “The Follower”. This brings the spotlight on him and allows him to make an impact as Minimum Champion. This acts as the follow-up to his single “Before It Gets Better”, which is one of four tracks that appear on this EP.

For over a decade, Lopardo was a fixture in various Long Island hardcore bands, yet little did his peers and audience know about the hidden singer-songwriter waiting to make an appearance. With “Better Days Ahead”, Lopardo seamlessly blends the hard-charging punk elements of his past with catchy pop hooks, acoustic folk nuances, and impressive guitar solos, creating a unique and compelling musical fusion.

The sophomore EP from Minimum Champion kickstarts with “I’ll See You Down The Road” which invites the listener into a rhythmic guitar flow that welcomes us in from the get-go. This enlightens us into what to expect from these four tracks and as soon as he starts to sing he enthuses positivity with his lyrics as he delves into the theme of the entire EP—it’s why it’s called “Better Days Ahead”.

Filled with passion and integrity, Lopardo sings from the heart as the backing track progresses into a folk-rock anthem, spreading hope to his listeners. “Before It Gets Better” follows next which sees Minimum Champion unlock his hardcore rock energy as guitars and drums explode with sound, emboldening his folk-rock vocals, taking us back with a ’00s rock nostalgic vibe.

Track number three is “I’m Sorry I Dragged You Down”, which delves even deeper into his hardcore rock sound but brings an addictive rhythm similar to the first track. Lopardo showcases his vocal abilities the most on this track as the drums and the guitars fuel his voice and the emotion behind the words, It later builds into an epic guitar solo that is beyond impressive. Effortlessly relatable, this is easily our favourite from the EP.

Ending the “Better Days Ahead” EP with “Summer, 2003”, Minimum Champion brings back the positivity after taking us through his journey, building around a guitar-heavy backing beat as he reflects on the past with the lyrics. Another guitar instrumental solo segment starts in the middle of this track right up until the end, showcasing his impressive skills, finishing on a truly forgettable solo number as he goes all out for this track.

“My musical journey began at the age of 10,” Lopardo explains. “But I was primarily focused on percussion. That all changed at 19, when a relative gifted me an old guitar. I fumbled around on it and taught myself enough to write simple acoustic pieces. Really, it was just a way for me to build confidence in my musical abilities overall. But here I am with finished songs and a backing band where I’m singing and writing the lyrics for the first time. This is the most personal side of me that I’ve ever shown.”

“Better Days Ahead” arrives as a breath of fresh air in a time marked by tension and strife. Lopardo’s astute observations of his surroundings, external relationship dynamics, and personal experiences infuse the EP with a raw, authentic quality. The tracks on the EP showcase Lopardo’s ability to deliver emotionally charged lyrics over a backdrop of acoustic strums and rocking beats whilst also being conscious of himself, his past, and a belief that brighter days truly are ahead.

This EP not only marks a significant shift for Nicholas Lopardo but also provides listeners with an intimate glimpse into his personal journey and reflections. As Minimum Champion, Lopardo’s sophomore EP is a testament to his evolution as an artist and a promising signal of the musical chapters yet to unfold.

“Better Days Ahead”, by Minimum Champion, is available to download and stream, right now, across all platforms, via Westfall Recordings.

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