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By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 30th July 2014 at 12:00 pm
Words by Jess Mason
Let’s play a game, shall we? Let’s play how many bands you can count whose name starts with the word ‘we’. We Are the In Crowd, We Are the Ocean, We Are Scientists, the list goes on. Now, you may not have heard of them yet, but I reckon there’s one more band that are about to get themselves on this memorable list for all good reasons.
We the Living are a five-piece alt rock band who threw themselves onto the new music scene with their debut gig in Sheffield’s Royal Standard a few Saturdays back. I know when you hear the word debut, you tend to expect a bunch of stubbly dudes wailing along to covers of Green Day and having about as much stage presence as a bunch of bananas. But this time, it was definitely not the case.
Straight out onto the stage, We the Living’s frontman Nick Phillips – looking like Russell from Disney’s Up grew up and stole Don Broco’s stylist – stares into the crowd and yells ‘We are We The Living, and our songs don’t have titles’. Boom, and straight into song number one.
What they lack in ability to name songs, they certainly make up in talent. These boys packed so much energy into the performance, they genuinely made ‘that pub between the 24-hour gym and the rental car place’ seem like a much, much bigger venue.
Now we all know that your first time isn’t perfect, but We the Living damn well know how to carry on playing in times of crisis. Not even stopping when guitarist Tom Gammon’s amp cut out, or when Tom’s D string snapped mid-riff (all in one song, poor guy), and they even managed to get through a song while kicking the bass drum back into place as it was shimmying off the stage and into the poor guy’s face in the front row.
This band is fun, they’re new and they’re definitely a band to watch if you’re into the likes of Mallory Knox, Lower Than Atlantis and that fast-paced smooth vocal area of alt rock.
Get these boys to Rock City. But before then, you can find out for yourself what the fuss is all about: catch We the Living at The Frog in Worksop, Nottinghamshire on the 13th of September.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 28th July 2014 at 12:00 pm
July may almost be over, but we’ve still got several more weeks of (hopefully) sun-filled days and carefree star-filled nights before autumn makes her appearance. Perhaps it is the good feeling I have within me that even though we’ve passed quite a few summer festivals already, there are plenty more wonderful events to come and tease all of our senses, so the timing of the appearance of this act couldn’t be beat. Not to mention I’m sure this smooth jam will be a welcome soundtrack to, er, plenty of late night liaisons…
The duo in question that I am introducing to you today is called Honne. Like many words in Chinese that frustrate me because I can’t quite translate into an English equivalent and do the original phrase justice, the word “honne” in Japanese very loosely means “your true feelings and desires”. Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher, who have been mates ever since they met on the first day of university, were inspired to come up with their new act’s name on a trip to ol’ Nippon.
The press sheet explains the term is meant as “describing the contrast between what one thinks, and what they project to others” and “a perfect fit for [their] songs which frequently address private passions, and their playing out in public”. I find this description interesting, because there seems to be no question whatsoever what this Somerset and Wiltshire via Bow act’s first song to the world is about. Or what it’s meant to encourage.
Their first foray into the public realm has been anything but tentative, with NME premiering their debut single ‘Warm on a Cold Night’ last week and the magazine praising its “lusty, late night, urbanite feel”. It begins as if in a dream, as if literally emceed by a late night American soul DJ, that is. Clutterbuck’s echoey, r&b infused vocals – with a blue-eyed soul to rival those of Dave Bayley’s in Glass Animals’ debut LP ‘Zaba’ – slink around every turn of this soulful yet electronic beat-driven masterpiece. The lyrics will bring to mind loads of other soul classics in which a man is touchingly showing his appreciation for his woman: “And I can’t help but wonder / how we ended up alright / and I love you like no other / ‘cause this has never felt so right”.
But the difference in how this single will be received is its embracing of more forward-thinking production ala Frank Ocean and 2013 Mercury Prize winner James Blake, while the vocal delivery and overall feel are kept firmly rooted in classics of yesteryear. With a memorable chorus that is likely to get your head bopping and toes tapping, Honne are definitely an act to watch in the coming months.
‘Warm on a Cold Night’, the first single from Honne, will be released on the 1st of September on Super Recordings.
Despite the knockback of the band’s debut album ‘The Day’s War’ being pushed to a release date of the 1st of September when it was scheduled to hit the ears of the public 3 months earlier, Lonely the Brave are still riding on a high.
They’ve already – in their relative infancy – torn Donnington Park a new one at Download 2013 and they’ve announced their intentions to repeat said ripping of a new one at this year’s heavy metal bash. Pile on top of that their worthy addition to the Radio 1 playlist and spots on Music Journalist of the Year Zane Lowe’s programme and in the space of about a year, Lonely the Brave have built quite a fan club of the back of their rabble rousing take on alternative rock/pop.
New single ‘Victory Line’ is as fine a slab of air grabbing melodic rock – set to boot with a huge riff and a perfect example of what in a short space of time the Cambridge four-piece have set their stall on. No frills, no bollocks, rock.
The band consist of David Jakes at the helm, Gavin Edgeley providing the engine room on the drums, Mark Trotter riffing away and Andrew Bushen setting the pace on the bass and as an outfit, they’re tighter than a pair of Parisian hipsters jeans. Probably because they’ve been together for around 5 years now, taking their time, gigging around and building a substantial underground following before surfacing, submarine style, into the public consciousness armed with hooks aplenty and capturing the public’s imagination and emotions with their heartfelt stirring tunes.
Now they’re in the public’s consciousness, the expectation is now for them to stay there. In their youth (as a band), they seem to know that sticking to the roots which have gotten them noticed and honing their stadium ‘grab that air’ rock sound is key to building a fan base which is already developing. A brand spanking new deal with Columbia Records is testament that talent has been spotted by the big boys and with big tunes like ‘Victory Line’ in their arsenal, it’s obvious ‘The Day’s War’ will be the start of something very exciting. Watch this space.
Monterey have so much going for them: they’ve got a resoundingly fresh Americana sound, which typifies the kind of classic/punk rock sound they’re aiming for. The four-piece comprised of Michael O’Reilly on guitar and lead vocals, Carter Henry on guitar, Chris Beninato on bass and Matt Debenedetti (just how New Jersey is he? [They're from New Brunswick, mostly famous for Rutgers University - Ed.]) on drums, are under the radar enough at the moment that their new EP ‘The King’s Head’ will, despite its stadium rock sound, be seen as hip and underground. The music is full of soul with toe-tappingly catchy guitars and a rockabilly brashness that’ll have you captivated. Oh, and they have the same nice name as a cheese that goes deliciously with fajitas and other Mexican food. Which is nice for everyone.
On ‘Brainfreeze’, the opening track of their EP (which you can get for free from the Soundcloud widget below), the guitars of Carter Henry and Michael O’Reilly have a hint of U2’s The Edge, whilst the rest of the record has me reaching for the inevitable Gaslight Anthem, We Are The Ocean and Deaf Havana comparisons. The tub-thumping, hand on your heart type lyrics with the building guitars has all the hallmarks of the three aforementioned bands.
O’Reilly’s voice needs working on in parts. The rawness of the EP is one of its big plus points: there are times when the rawness goes past the medium rare stage, towards the uncooked and unseasoned vocals of ‘Mr. Rockaway’, the EP’s intense closing track. Despite this shortcoming, in parts the EP is incredibly good, nostalgia-inducing fun, It’s reminiscent of a musical era where The Boss and co. were king.
They need some refining around the edges, but for now, Monterey’s rough slice of spicy American rockabilly stylings will do for now.
Waylayers are like a cool ice bath in the searing heat of Austin, Texas. This London based synth-pop four-piece feel incredibly fresh, as they engulf you in their delightfully chipper electronica beats. Dripping with a subtle sense of euphoria their new track ‘Medicine’ has the kind of hook deserving of top chart billing – especially seeing as everyone is getting a bit bored of being told how bloody happy Pharrell is.
We get it, Pharrell – it’s the absolute tits being you – now fuck off, will you?
In a completely positive fashion, frontman Harry Lee’s vocals remind me of Chris Martin of Coldplay*, inoffensive and unobtrusive whilst wholly compelling in the same chords. The chorus of ‘Medicine’ feels extremely ‘80s and works as an atmosphere builder perfectly. The final 20 seconds of the single seems like it’s dragged directly from the end of a Rick Astley song.
Nostalgia aside, you can immediately imagine this pulsing from speakers as you wade through a sea of dry ice. In tandem with their earlier EP, Waylayers are certainly an interesting prospect for your perusal at SXSW. They’re the kind of cute British boys, ala Two Door Cinema Club (also three band members) who you can imagine the American population will adore.
With that in mind, Saturday the 15th of March at 9 in the evening at Icenhauer’s is a showcase sure to have the industry crawling with their grubby mitts all over this three-piece.
*I really like old Coldplay and I REALLY dislike new Coldplay.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 12:00 pm
Here in America, we don’t have the BBC. If you switch on your radio here in Washington, most of what you are going to get on the corporate-owned radio stations are same old top 40 mainstream hits every hour. Thanks to the internet, music fans young and old have the opportunity to learn about bands far beyond just what mainstream radio is telling us what we should like, and I think that’s amazing. It’s very important to me that TGTF brings attention to great new music and bands to people of all ages, but probably the most important to educate about good music are the kids. They are the key to music’s enduring future. Without them, we’re destined to a future of major label manufactured Mileys and One Directions, with indie music unsupported and underfunded, dwindling away. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I come from a very large family (you should see the size of our Thanksgiving get togethers), and one of our most avid readers is my cousin’s daughter. She’s a junior in high school here in the DC area, and because she’s been very interested in what we do at TGTF, I’ve been bringing her to shows with me, and she’s been so eager to learn about new music. I was thinking about her when I started thinking about how I was going to write this Bands to Watch, as the kids in the band in question are around Kara’s age. They might be young, but the more important thing is that they’ve got heart. And from what I’ve heard from them, they’re pretty damn talented too.
The Busker’s Sons are a young rock group from Macclesfield, the town generally most famous as being the birthplace of Ian Curtis and Peter Crouch, though our John thinks of it more recently as the place that birthed the Virginmarys. I used the word “young”, as they’re all in college now, and they only just formed last summer, having met each other in high school, though three of them – singer Alex Briscoe, guitarist Harry Gold and drummer Micah Whadcock – had played in another band before this one.
I hope this doesn’t result in a tidal wave of Tweets in my direction – but it probably will, now that I’ve opened my big mouth – but I found the five-man strong group on Twitter and did some investigating, which led me to their Soundcloud. (Note to new bands: if you aren’t already on Soundcloud and you aren’t using it to your advantage, you’ve lost the plot.) Earlier this year, the band self-released an album, ‘Northern Ignorance’; if I had no idea how old these guys were or where they were from, I’d assume they were 1) older and 2) already signed. Why do I say this? I’ve seen some pretty bad opening bands in my time as a music editor, bands that can’t figure out how to write a proper melody and/or write lyrics that mean something and aren’t just words thrown together without much thought; I’m stood there in front of the stage, wishing I was somewhere else. But somehow The Busker’s Sons have already figured this all out – and winningly – well before they’re even legally allowed to drink. I’m imagining this is same kind of epiphany Martin had discovering The Orielles.
It can be hard to find videos of a new band. When I went looking on YouTube for one of the Busker’s Sons, I found this surprising gem filmed in what I’m sure is some bandmate’s bedroom. Very rarely can us music writers see the evolution of a song from an earlier stage to the recorded version, but you can with ‘Disguise’ by watching the video below, followed by streaming to the album version from the band’s Soundcloud. The track appears on the album but was an earlier song released previously on an EP. It’s good. It’s really good. It got stuck in my head after the second listen.
The ‘Northern Ignorance’ album showcases a variety of styles, which signals to me the band haven’t settled on exactly what direction the Busker’s Sons plan to go in. ‘Bury Your Head in the Sand’ displays a harder edge, with Briscoe channeling Alex Turner and Ian Brown, and the stomping rhythm of ‘Mose’ further proves they could be a rock band versus a pop one. The sweet melody of ‘Over My Shoulder’ will make you think early Beatles, while the guitars of ‘Magazines’, another album standout, morph from the those of early frantic Two Door Cinema Club or Hot Club de Paris into those of the Libertines, then back again. The LP also features two covers, the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ and Editors‘ ‘Munich’, both of which benefit from Briscoe’s higher register, with the former sounding more comfortably bluesy than the Fabs’ original, if that’s possible.
‘Northern Ignorance’? Hardly. While the band cite their local heroes Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Joy Division as major influences, they don’t sound like they’re copying any of them. If they can keep on writing gems like these, The Busker’s Sons have a good chance of making a name for themselves and maybe one day, we’ll be writing about them, just like those other legendary bands from Manchester.
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