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SXSW 2016 | 2015
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Header photo by Niall Lea
For more of John’s coverage of Liverpool Sound City 2015, read his day 1 and day 2 round-ups.
As people finally got used to the bizarre layout of the new look of this year’s Liverpool Sound City, the third day had crept up. Brains were frazzled from the night before by the orgy for the senses served up by The Flaming Lips. Revellers who had crept into the city centre to keep the party going after the Lips now had hangovers galore from day 2’s festivities, so the bars were still looking bereft of people on Sunday.
As for the bars, I’ve never seen a festival better prepared. The area was about as long as the similar installations at Reading and Leeds Festivals staffed by just as many luminous vest clad volunteers. Problem was, with just a fraction of the expected clientele walking through, the facilities looked hilariously empty for most of the day. Additionally, planning that saw pints pre-poured for quick service, meant that during the dearth of customers, pints were sitting poured in the baking midday sun. Definitely a decision to review, methinks. Nobody wants a warm pint of Strongbow on the third day of festival if they’re paying through the nose for it.
Aside from logistical issues and the numerous punters moaning and groaning about the health of their legs after an hour long trudge back to their hotel in the city centre, the festival site was a hub of activity on the final day, with the corporate sponsorship’s Red Bull-mobile blasting out crap drum ‘n’ bass remixes of classic tracks as you entered the festival It was a reminder that although until quite recently, the festival had a DIY feeling, everyone has to sell their souls in the end to the corporate monsters. Still, you could be at Creamfields, and count your lucky stars you’re not there.
Because at Creamfields, you certainly wouldn’t be treated to the psychedelic grooves of Moon King, who graced the abandoned warehouse of The Baltic Stage around mid-afternoon as the shroud of grey cloud disappeared from over the site. The Canadian duo of Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde exuded energy and all male eyes were transfixed to the baseball cap-cladded shredder providing the trademark ‘buzz-saw’ guitars, as Benjamin did his best Justin Hayward-Young impression, with about 50% of the balls and swagger of the former. (7/10)
Houdini Dax came highly recommended to me, and with a packed out Cavern Stage to greet me as I arrived, it was obvious I wasn’t alone in hearing of the charms of the Welsh three-piece. From start to finish, the boys exuded an infectious energy to the relatively lethargic crowd, and with a few charming smiles and sing-alongs, they laced the kind of hooks you’ll be humming for days, going down as stern favourites for day 3. Their set closed with ‘Get Your Goo On’: in title it sounds utterly ridiculous, but the song brought a lively 30 minutes to a close with a bit of swagger, some Beach Boys-style call and repeat and at least a 100 new likes on Facebook post set! (9/10)
From melt in your mouth harmonies to a complete disaster was sadly what awaited me with Clarence Clarity. The highly-rated Londoners would probably go down great at a smoky acid-house/post-dub night in Brixton. But, after the splendid chords of Houdini Dax, the semi-glitter pop mash-ups they served in the warehouse ended up sounding like an utter sonic catastrophe. The reverb screamed around the enclosed space and within minutes those without earplugs were vacating the area for something less audibly offensive.
They’ve done their best to sound like a 21st century turn on Outkast, but in doing, so it’s just ended up as a bit of a mess,with Eastern influences mashed crudely into your run-of-the-mill British drum ‘n’ bass. Perhaps this sound would work in a different setting and at another time – but as a prelude to Gaz Coombes, Peace and Belle and Sebastian at about 6 o’clock with the sun still shining, they simply jarred and sounded like a mess. (4/10)
Calming things down on The Atlantic Stage were the gentle tones of Bill Ryder-Jones who cut a lonely figure in the middle of the vast stage. He has all the hallmarks of any 18 year-old music fans crush, with sweeping good looks and swishy hair, plus a moody expression cut upon his face permanently. Sadly, Bill was nothing special at Liverpool Sound City, pumping out a couple of mediocre covers, some staggeringly uninventive, along with three chord originals and all at a pace that sent me daydreaming into thoughts about what delectable burger van food I could chomp on and whether the Premiership season had finished yet. With time I’m sure he’ll find his sound, as his songwriting seemed to hold up, but for now he just felt very vanilla on a day which could have done with some rum and raisin. (5/10)
Now while I was trying to escape Clarence Clarity’s sonic bombardment, I bumped into a young German girl who asked me for tips on who would blow her mind (aside from the obvious), to which I replied the next act on the Cargo Stage, “Findlay is nothing short of phenomenal every time I see her”.
Of course, by doing this, I inevitably delivered the kiss of death to her set.
For an act that normally struts about the stage with an incredible swagger and presence, I was shocked when she delivered a terribly staccato performance, bereft of showmanship and craft. Instead, it just felt like another day at the office. The fierce Debbie Harry-lite figure of Findlay had been neutered and stayed locked behind a set of oversize sunglasses. Whether it was a poorly-thought-out change of tact, to go from ferocious female aggressor to a sultry parlour singer grated on me. Because for the main part, barring from a rousing rendition of ‘On and Off’, she delivered a pedestrian performance stripped of the trademark character I’d promised to my new friend from Central Europe. In fact, it was so disappointing out the corner of my eye I saw the very Fraulein make for the exit after three songs. (6/10) Probably to get a good space for the next band on The Atlantic Stage…
Kings of the indie singalong The Cribs looked every bit the seasoned pros they are compared to some of the green-behind-the-ears acts gracing every one of the stages over the weekend. They easily drew the biggest crowd of the day so far, being probably one of the most recognisable names on the bill, and it’s probably to no surprise as well. Quite easily the three-piece could have turned up, delivered the hits and been on their way with a big smile on their faces – cash in pocket – job done. But instead they threw every bit of themselves into it, to the delight of the Liverpudlian crowd. The three-piece choral harmonies were great and really lifted the entire set, whilst the new poppier material lifted what could have been a bog-standard Cribs set to something far more. (7/10)
In fact, it was the perfect preface to former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, the penultimate act on The Atlantic Stage. As expected, there were no frills and bells like the night before. No gimmicky matching jackets like Everything Everything and The Vaccines, despite Coombes definitely putting a bid in for Best Dressed Man at the festival with his attire. Instead, one of Britpop’s finest men on stage, guitar in hand, was trying his hand at going solo to good results.
Now, while his second solo album ‘Matador’ may have only debuted at number 18 in the Official UK Albums chart, in circles like Liverpool Sound City he was always going to get far more respect and credence than at another festival. Effortlessly cool and with the gently soaring masterpiece that is ‘Detroit’ in Coombes’ arsenal, he commanded the slowly fading light surrounding The Atlantic Stage. Although there were rumblings of ‘is he going to play ‘Alright’?’, in the crowd after a few of his originals, everyone seemed to settle down to enjoy a true legend of his era going out on his own. (8/10)
From one legend, to another. Belle and Sebastian carry with them the baggage of being cult stars. In fact, it’s difficult to find somebody these days that enjoys alternative music who DOESN’T name an experience watching Stuart Murdoch and co. as one of the crowning moments in their musical history. I waited with trepidation, as I’ve never GOT Belle and Sebastian; they’ve just never managed to excite me in the way I want music to. It’s all just felt like wallpaper–jazzy elevator music to me.
The group of Glaswegians manage to captivate the crowd, myself included, with their phenomenally deep songwriting. ‘Nobody’s Empire’ is a personal highlight, as Murdoch’s intensity is poured into every single lyric, as if he was living the experience right there in front of the crowd. It wasn’t the spectacular of colour The Flaming Lips served up, or the singalong, lad-rock frenzy of The Vaccines. But in their own way, Belle and Sebastian delivered one of the most soulful, warm and encapsulating sets of the weekend. (8/10)
So what did I learn this weekend? Delving into the unknown on highly-tipped acts like The Serpent Power and Clarence Clarity can sometimes be a dangerous endeavour, which can lead to your willy being commented upon on social media alongside pictures of genitals being sent to you. But bands like Houdini Dax, The People and the Poet and Hollysiz can come from left-field sources and end up being the highlights of the festival. That’s the joy of events like Liverpool Sound City and The Great Escape: while you can walk in on some absolute duds, it’s unlikely you’ll have a weekend of it with the sheer glut of musical talent on show. Just work on the stage layout guys, or The People and the Poet won’t be back…
Ten years ago, staring at MTV Rocks on the television with my Dad, the lyrics “she don’t use butter, she don’t use cheese, she don’t use jelly or any of these” set me on a path. A path which started with me purchasing the rest of The Flaming Lips‘ back catalogue in one bulk purchase, and ended at Liverpool Sound City on The Atlantic Stage, with a sensory overload courtesy of Wayne Coyne and co. A fantastic booking for the festival.
But before then, I of course had to get to the festival, which as I learnt on the Thursday, is no mean feat – seeing as it is a good 30 minute walk from the main Liverpool city centre. My solution? A rented bike, a tactic that when I whizzed past the thousands of revellers waiting for taxis (for an hour and a half in some cases) and stumbling drunkenly back to the City Centre made me incredibly smug, and the revellers entirely mugged off.
Once I’d locked up outside of the new festival site, which looks certain to be the festival’s home for the foreseeable future, I ventured to The Atlantic Stage for a set that would begin a week of social media awkwardness. Almost supergroup The Serpent Power were gracing the stage, made up of Ian Skelly (The Coral) and Paul Molloy (The Zutons) and a few other less well-knowns…
The result, an utterly forgettable set full of wallpaper music:- the kind of self-indulgent psychedelia with noodling solos galore that you’d expect from a super group, but perhaps not one with the song-writing credentials The Serpent Power brought with them. With droves of punters at The Atlantic Stage deciding to make haste somewhere else, it was obvious their brand of new indie was really striking accord with the flower crown in their hair bunch and not much else.
So when I tweeted the following:
I didn’t really expect to wake up the next day with The Serpent Power feeling I had struck a nerve:
Now while they may have got it spot on about my run-of-the-mill willy, the set was still sub-par. The ‘banter’ was probably the highlight, so maybe social-media comedy is the way to go? But as the cliché goes, don’t give up your day jobs. (5/10)
From the largest stage, to the smallest: Service Bells were next up on The Record Store stage, which effectively was just a small tent with speakers and the ability to sell records. The intimate surroundings lent to Service Bells’ set superbly, as their Queens of the Stone Age-influenced rock bounced and reverberated within the tight confines. Over waves of feedback, Fraser Harvey’s cutting vocals hit the back of the tent, their visceral drum and guitar assault working to draw a packed out crowd into the tight confines. Although their set was brief, they teased perfectly to their later performance on The Kraken Stage, by giving just a taste of the aggression of their music. (7/10)
From blood and guts rock ‘n’ roll, it was on to alternative new wave electronica with Dutch Uncles on The Atlantic Stage. It’s a bit of a departure but a welcome one, as the four-piece pull out all the stops to make it a feast for the senses. Despite the rather overcast and glum setting in Liverpool, Dutch Uncles serve up an almost samba beat, with hips shaking and a calypso rhythm uniting the audience in their booty shaking. Duncan Wallis juts and throws his way around the stage as Andy Proudfoot, Robin Richards and Peter Broadhead provide a glittering calypso boogie. Their colourful backdrop and the verve and enthusiasm imbued in their performance meant gave a summery outlook for what was a rather gloomy setting, as they transported us to a beach, ‘Club Tropicana’ style.
Striking an uncanny resemblance to Game Of Thrones character plump, yet loveable buffoon Samwell Tarly, lead singer of the next band Leon Stanford captured the entire crowd with his wit and lack of comprehension for how close all the stages were. In honesty, the Tarly lookalike had a point seeing as what could be made of his beautiful Gaslight Anthem-esque vocals was mostly drowned out by the thumping bass emerging from The Cargo Stage behind him.
Despite these facts, The People and the Poet cut through the walls of sonic obscurity as well as they could and played a brilliant set. The storytelling was encapsulating and Stanford’s cutting wit meant your attention was affixed to the Welsh four-piece. My only confusion was how Welsh they sounded speaking, and how un-Welsh they sounded making music. In fact, it felt more like a band from the Midwest of America, which did have me scratching my head. Despite the tonal confusions, The People and the Poet stood out on the Saturday as arguably the stand out band with their brilliant turns of phrase and superb delivery, even in the face of adversity… (8/10)
The joyful summer party atmosphere of Dutch Uncles was supplanted at The Baltic Stage, giant empty warehouse, by the feeling of a proper old-school punk show, courtesy of aged-retainers The Membranes. Old-school punk has a certain, er, look. The Membranes, quite simply ARE that look: shirts off, muscles rippling, dodgy haircuts that they probably couldn’t pull off 30 years ago and are no closer to doing so now and a menacing look upon the frontman’s face. They were every bit the grizzled bunch of punkers that the tagline ‘still inspired by punk rock but believe music has no boundaries’ conjures up.
It’s not exactly note perfect, and ‘gritty’ is probably the best word to describe it as, with most of the audience affixed to the wrinkled prune John Robb marauding menacingly around the front echelons of the stage. For most of the set, regrettably for the aged-retainers, their post-punk growls and riffs just didn’t strike an accord, until their final hurrah when the band rallied for a rousing call and return effort. Stellar work for guys who look like they may need a defibrillator post-set. (7/10)
After a brief top-up at one of the beer tents, which looked drastically overstaffed and dramatically overegged for the actual level of trade they would be receiving throughout the weekend, I made my way to the end of the pier at The Atlantic Stage for a moment I’d waited more than a decade for. As the light of the sun disappeared and the artificial light began to illuminate the small strip of tarmac the crowd were kettled into, the stage was draped with various plastic tubes for the light-fantastic The Flaming Lips were about to set up. In true Wayne Coyne style, he helped with the soundcheck resplendent in his green latex froggy suit, with the rest of the band dressed equally as colourfully and dotted around the stage, intertwined in the maze of dangling tubes.
Coyne and co. began with a ballad in the form of ‘The Abandoned Hospital Ship’, a jangling soaring journey through the psyche of this era-defining trio. That’s all before The Flaming Lips really begin their orgy for the senses, with cannons full of ticker tape and a ‘Fight Test’ singalong, as giant blow up aliens join Coyne on stage. As Coyne takes us through a quick tour of the bands most successful singles, he stops the audience midway through a slowed down singalong of ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1’. “I don’t know whether you KNOW how important the HYAH HYAH bit of Yoshimi is, but Coyne bellows, “it’s a marker as to the level of crazy the audience is”. Most of the crowd loomed around baffled, but as it came to the HYAH HYAH portion of the song, we got a proper shout from the audience.
The set never really peaked to a mass singalong, simply for the fact that most of the audience didn’t know a lot of the songs. But the encore of ‘Do You Realize?’ was a soaring chorus across Liverpool Sound City with everyone getting caught up in the lights and excitement of The Flaming Lips.
Despite this, disappointingly due to the niche market The Flaming Lips occupy the crowd never really fully got on board with the set on a musical level. As far as a feast for the eyes, they delivered a 10/10 performance, but musically there was a lack of connection as a band who have disappointed with its last three records struggled to hold the interest of the crowd. (7/10)
Part 1 of John’s coverage of Friday at Liverpool Sound City 2015 is this way.
Sticking with the theme with big chugging riffs in a warehouse, loud enough to make the meek and wimpy head for exits – not a daisy chain headpiece in sight – Yak were the next band on The Baltic Stage as the day became more and more Baltic in temperature and people gathered in the confines of the warehouse to escape the near arctic winds coming in off the river Mersey. Their bluesy Band of Skulls-esque riffage was enough to get everyone grooving at the front of the stage, despite the acoustics of the warehouse playing havoc with Oliver Burslem’s vocals. (6/10)
It was the turn of one of the big hitters next, or was it?
WHERE’S YOUR BAND, DEBBIE? As four Parisian musicians stepped onstage, the look of collective bafflement spread across the venue. Where were Slaves? A quick search on #SoundCity15 led me to the conclusion that they’d pulled out to another collective look of bemusement and a united sigh of disapproval. Oh well, on the bright side it meant I didn’t miss the triumphant return of the bespectacled groovesters of Spector, who were next up on the Atlantic Stage.
Now these guys were met by *yet another* collective look of bemusement. That’s not Frederick Macpherson, they’ve changed frontman! NO, he’s just gone hipster 2.0 and grown his hair down to his neck. Still, despite a wee change of hair-do could Spector build the anticipation to their new record? The answer, a resounding and still endearingly dapper YES. With all the charms and singalongability Spector brought on their delightful debut, the five-piece Hits like ‘Chevy Thunder’ had the now sizeable crowd standing on the precipice of the Mersey jumping up and down without due concern. While new track ‘Bad Boyfriend’ is the kind of heart-meltingly warm live track Spector are going to make their own over the next year of touring and promoting. Macpherson still has glorious presence on stage and while his band seem to keep the personality to a minimum by staring blankly into the Liverpool sky, Macpherson manages to carry the energy of the entire group and make a stunning show. (8/10)
Starring as the penultimate act on a strong bill were Everything Everything who get extra points in my boom as their guitarist Alex Robertshaw is from sunny Guernsey. They admit it’s been 18 months since they’ve graced a festival stage, but you’d struggle to believe it as they’re tighter than a cat’s bumhole – in musical terms that is. In the space of around six years they’ve gone from a band with a quirky new sound, to indie pop behemoths with a serious reputation amongst the industry. Jonathan Higgs voice remains one of the most unflappable and tonally malleable in the industry. Every note is perfect, and when you have to hit the kind of ranges Higgs is, that’s no mean feat. The tunes are still as inventive and quirky as the first time ‘MY KZ UR BF’ became an immediate hit and catapulted them into the mainstream consciousness.
The band as a unit looked impeccable in their faux-jester robes – the point of which I’m yet to put my finger upon. The set is a hit after hit affair, with a fair bit of audience reaction to each of the more well-known tracks like ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Cough Cough’. The latter proving a huge success as it built to its noodling crescendo. One thing is for sure, this set was one which loosened the hips of half the audience, with 90% shaking and shimmying in the small space they had on the docklands. (8/10)
Once the sun had set around 10 o’ clock and Everything Everything had departed the anticipation started to build for the night’s headline act. When I asked around, ‘what were most people looking forward to on the Friday’ barring the rather null answer of Slaves there was only one other constant: The Vaccines. My first thought was, with two albums each clocking in around half an hour and a third one imminent; they’d struggle to fill one and half hours. The second one was what a frontman Justin Hayward-Young is becoming – he’s got just the right amount of arrogance to pull off the look he’s going for.
Rockstar credibility is in toe as he petulantly throws his mike stand around the stage for the roadies to pick up after almost every song, and the pride to know from minute one to the time they make their bow (no encore) that he’s got the crowd eating from the palm of his hands. It’s a set chocked to the nines with hits, which every one of the crowd can sing along to, not matter the demographic. The new stuff goes down well, but it’s the tracks from ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’, especially ‘Norgaard, which go down the best. A splendid end, to a full-on day! And the music only started at 5. (9/10)
Liverpool Sound City is in its seventh year and for the first time has moved from its spiritual home within the centre of the city. Before, the music was irretrievably mixed up in a maze of streets within the heart of Liverpool; the festival turned the already vibrant area into a thronging haven of musical activity, with bands popping up in warehouses and on the street in a metropolitan mezze of musical delicacies to amuse any palate. This year still served up a veritable banquet to satisfy any taste buds, but this time festival-goers needed to travel 20 minutes outside of the centre of Liverpool for the event.
Bizarrely, this report from Liverpool Sound City 2015 comes from the Docklands this year. The setting is quaint, if you manage to block out the industrial sprawl you’ve walked past to get there. One of the unique selling points of Sound City in its earlier guise was its central location. So the decision to plonk it way down the road has left many, including this writer, scratching their heads and with sore feet from walking to the secluded site.
Luckily, I found a solution: Liverpool’s version of the ‘Boris Bike’ to get me from the centre of the city where 99% of the hotels are to the festivals site. Again, the site is a departure from the dotting of venues around the city, as now in a more conventional festival manner, each stage is within a set perimeter.
My first impression of the actual layout of the site was one of confusion, but in such tight confines, after 15 minutes of ambling around with a dazed look on my face I managed to get my bearings on where everything was. The most striking feature was, understandably, the giant disused warehouse that was being used as The Baltic Stage. The first band up in the vast venue were Barberos, a three-piece from Merseyside, but not exactly one straight out of the textbook.
Yes, all dressed head to toe in sparkly silver morph suits, Barberos feel like they’ve been transplanted out of the realms of science fiction and onto a stage where their primary aim is to creep the shit out of you. From almost start to finish, their tribal roars and wave of drums echoed furiously around the disused warehouse, while the screech of their synths worked to either drive people from the venue or numb them into a stupor. Their sonic assault on almost every one of my senses proved too much and after three songs I felt my eardrums literally splitting in two and decided instead to go and sample less screechy and space age music. Perhaps they’re just scores ahead of their time? To quote Marty McFly, “your kids are gonna love it’. (5/10)
At the end of Stanley Docks, where the festival now calls its home, was The Atlantic Stage, which was acting as the Main Stage. Scottish band Neon Waltz, who’ve recently been snapped up by Noel Gallagher’s management, were first on and whilst they drew a good crowd for the first band of the day, their performance was all a bit glib and dry. It felt like for the 30 minutes they were building to something which might be a little more exciting, like the second time you sleep with someone, but in the end you just realise the exciting bit is never going to come, despite how much promise is shown at first. Plus the lead singer, whose mum then tried to banter me off on Twitter, *does* look about 2, despite being 18 or 24. I’m not sure really. (6/10)
Despite a classic seafront breeze chilling everyone on the docklands to the bone, a rather large crowd had amassed at The North Stage for Francopop artist HollySiz, not least because her outfit left little to the imagination. Immediately, HollySiz had the crowd fixated on her, throwing herself around the stage like a ragdoll. Opening with the inflammatory ‘Tricky Game’, she already conjured up images of your early ‘80s Europop with strong synths and a staccato pace.
It wasn’t exactly Kraftwerk but HollySiz had an air of authority that she demanded from square one on The North Stage. The closest mainstream comparison of the last few years I can give to her was Gossip, although I’d argue HollySiz had an air of the rock and rolls about them. She had the presence of Beth Ditto though, but without the hairy armpits. She finished the set by leaping into the crowd and taking a leaf out of the Slipknot / Frank Turner books by getting everyone to sit on the floor and leap up. Now, anyone who can do it as successfully as she did before the sun goes down at around 6 in the evening on a chilly Liverpudlian day has definitely made an impression. (9/10)
Briefly, I stumbled into The Cavern Stage, to catch a glimpse of old-fashioned Derry four-piece The Clameens. It was light-hearted spiky pop guitar riff driven music, with influences like Arctic Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club and The Undertones shining prominently through. Songs like ‘She’s Got My Heart’ and ‘Follow’ had the crowd swaying and jumping up and down, whilst their happy-go-lucky demeanour meant the audience all had a well needed dose of summery smile injected into them before they faced the gloomy Liverpool skyscape on the way out of the tent. (7/10)
Bad Meds were next on my port of call (get it, I’m at the docklands and I just said ‘port’) in the setting of the Baltic Stage. Within the confines of the giant disused warehouse, their reverb laden rock sounds utterly enormous and the sheer simplicity of their songwriting works to make the unconverted thoroughly converted. I mean, what’s not to like about songs where you remember how you died in 1995, or that one about how you left a cult?
The highlight though is undoubtedly ‘It’s Grim Up North’, their take on the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu song. The concept: a list of lots of cities in the North and how grim they are. It’s just about that offensive that you can probably say its genius, and it’s not half true too: I mean, have you been to Crewe? It’s grim. 10/10 for originality. Probably less for friend-making in the region though… (8/10)
Stay tuned for the second half of John’s day 1 report from Liverpool Sound City tomorrow.
When I listen to Young Guns, I expect pompous, bloated choruses that set the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. Ridiculous inflated drops which chug with the kind of thud of a jet engine on a Boeing 747, perhaps with some strings littered in the background for extra gravitas. Their upcoming single ‘Daylight’ disappointingly delivered on only one of these expectations, this being that there were a few strings thrown onto it for good measure.
Young Guns, when they arrived on the scene, were hailed as a traditional alternative rock outlet. The kind you’d find every 3 months on a cycle on the front page of Kerrang!, looking moody and telling their interviewer, “this album almost tore me apart”.
‘Daylight’ is the work of a band trying to evolve and become something new, but sadly stumbling at the first hurdle. The opening sounds like a mix of Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’, and the rest has a painstaking late ‘90s boyband feel to it. Now, okay, pop punk and alt rock has always walked a fine line between what’s alternative and cool and what’s mainstream and boyband-y, Blink 182 being the obvious example. On ‘Daylight’, Young Guns tiptoe on the line and are sadly blown off by a gust of wind, which says it’s just a little too far into the realms of synth to sound rocky at all.
The chorus sees Gustav Wood going a little too ‘Twilight’ for me and while he may be appealing to an audience which loves whiny frontmen, it just doesn’t suit Wood and co. The riffs aren’t beefy, the drops are nonexistent and although their first two records weren’t exactly raw, this single has too much production sheen on it for me.
‘Daylight’ is taken from the new Young Guns album ‘Ones And Zeros’, to be released the 8th of June on Virgin EMI. Past posts on the band on TGTF are here.
When you started your first job, did your parents tell you if you just did the simple things right and well, then you’d probably do alright? Or maybe it was when you started playing football? You were probably told if you can learn to do the basics properly and repeat it, you’d end up doing pretty well for yourself.
I’m pretty sure, despite the Ben Drew-esque back stories I’m intrinsically drawn to when I think of Slaves – you really can’t help it when you see the Nike trainers and surprisingly shiny jackets – that Slaves must have received some pretty good parental advice before embarking on a musical career.
I can almost hear it now as lil’ Laurie Vincent walked out of the door, ready to face the big wide world. “keep it simple, lad!”, his West Ham-supporting Dad will have shouted, before adding “stick to repetition!” as Vincent went round the corner.
Three singles into the band’s fledgling career, and the advice is serving the twosome rather well. ‘Cheer Up London’ is another devilish slab of cheekiness from the lads who are likely to redefine the meaning of ‘cheeky chappies’. The delightfully simple, almost mundane suggestion to “put another 0 on your paycheque / are you done digging your grave yet?” will strike accord with any creative type watching the city slickers on London boost their pension pot. I mean they put it perfectly: “how could it be so bad when you’re already dead?”
In 2 and half minutes and probably using below 50 words altogether, Slaves take a cuttingly cynical eye on the socio-economic norms of the UK in a way not done since Gallows’ ‘Grey Britain’. It’s enough to strike an accord with any young creative type silently judging the banking middle classes who Slaves say “are dead already”.
Now, they’re not going to make any friends in ‘the city’ – I don’t think it was their aim to, in fairness – but sticking to the formula that has seen them noticed over the last few months seems a good move, with ‘Cheer Up London’ is another fantastic example of Slaves are becoming known for. Incisive, relatable and catchy punk.
‘Cheer Up London’ is available instantly by preordering Slaves’ debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’, released on the same day as the 7″ single on Virgin EMI. For other coverage of Slaves on TGTF, head this way.
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