Time Out of Mind: My Entry

Time Out of Mind:

My Entry

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Following on from…

 http://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/the-problem-an-invisible-illness-a-way-through-time-out-of-mind/

….I shall get the ball rolling…

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Okay peeps.  If you have read my previous blog post- proposing an Ice Bucket Challenge-esque endeavor- then you may be thinking: what am I going to do?!  Well, in the spirit of getting things going, I am posting my ‘thing’- my Time Out of Mind entry- it took a staggering 14:31 to complete.  Disclaimer: I am counting the time publishing this blog as a business expense- no technicalities here!  The song itself took under 15 minutes to think of/type/complete- here are some more details.

Before I go on, I have donated a tenner to Mind- put a little message in and mentioned what I am doing.  This song was written between 10:00-10:14 at a coffee shop in Guildford (all glamour me- you can keep Paris!).  Surrounded by screaming kids and babies (my least favourite sensation on earth), it perhaps inspired a lot of the process (in a good way too).  The track is influenced by the likes of Royal Blood- their fusions of Hip-Hop and classic Rock.  The song has that feel and draws in the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin (and Royal Blood themselves).  Most of the song is an assault of guitar/bass/drum riffs and signatures; with some exceptions…

The Classical Break will consist of two violins; cello; oboe and viola- it will be romantic and quite sweeping.  Containing some passion and tenderness it has some irony to it.  The verse that starts “Breathe out and suck it all up” is presented as an Electro-Swing passage.  Backed with skiffling and dancing electronics; some ‘20s and ‘30s sounds- it is a distinct and unique passage- the vocal will have that classic and almost ‘elegant’ sound.  The second Musical Break will see all the instruments come together in a flurry of fury and trippy diversions.  It is the most electrifying and swaggering part of the song.  By the end, the instruments die one by one to be left with guitar, bass and drum- each in turn dies to be left with a vocal snatch.  At the very end, there is a nod to Queens of the Stone Age- and their song Feelgood Hit of the Summer.  Whereas they listed a cocktail of drugs; I list one of illnesses and ailments.

I hope it makes sense and tracks to a point, but it took less than 15 minutes- go easy on me (and that is part of the challenge!).  I am very proud of it at least, and it will be the first song I record- the lead-off track from the album Marriage: The Beautiful Revenge (hopefully will drop in the next couple of years).  This endeavor has compelled me to get a band and lay this track down- I am excited by it, and by setting myself a limit, I have ended my writer’s block- it does work.  In order to get over and conquer stage fright, it has been good to focus on music- take a step for a great charity that means a lot to me.  Whether you connect with what they do in an edifying sense; or just want to do something different and fun (to help a lot of people)- hope come up with something yourselves!

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Black Majesty Blues (Citizen Arrest)  (8:27)

Intro.

Hard to be a gentleman when manners are bleeding

Throw away the atom bomb

And use your mouth instead

It you’re “sure-as-hell not listening”

You better know that I’m still speaking

Don’t let my bad mood let you down

_______________

I got the kind of face only a mother could love

And luckily she was yours

In the night we confused science and religion

With the ceiling and the floor

_______________

Hold open the door just to slam it in my face

Make an unwise statement on behalf of the human race

You don’t have to scream to make your voice heard

Take care of your health and don’t give a shit about anyone else

These Black Majesty Blues, yeah

Going to get to you

Going to get to you…soon

 ____________________

Stripped bare like an animal in the wilderness

I write my most romantic for the right to impress

You say that you’re in love, girl

But you kiss me with barbed wire

And don’t stick around to hear me weep

If they call that politeness then don’t hang around

I got the kind of body research science would love

And they’re researching a stone-cold gentleman

If my bones don’t make it right down to hell

My soul sure as hell will be heaven-sent

 _______________

Hold open the door just to slam it in my face

Make an unwise statement on behalf of the human race

You don’t have to scream to make your voice heard

Take care of your health and don’t give a shit about anyone else

These Black Majesty Blues, yeah

Going to get to you

Going to get to you…soon

_______________________

Vocal and Instrumental Break

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Breathe out and suck it all up

Let go and don’t take it in

Push away and don’t pull your weight

Loose tongue to communicate

Stand up but don’t walk away

Drop the ball and never pick it up

I’m blind but I hear you’ve seen it all

Alone in crowds and pushed away

_______________________________

I walk through the city and the masses walk by

Technology more important than the look in my eye

When a poor men begs here you walk away and laugh

A drunken generation with a hurricane for a heart

You say I’ve got a face perfect for radio?

A radioactive missile to blow you away

Your songs buy you diamonds; mine earn me respect

Well I cried when I wrote this line

What the hell did you expect?!

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Classic Break

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You think you’re Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa in one

Stuck inside your vanity suckling on smoking guns

She was just Hey Nineteen

You know what I mean?

Would you rather be the fool in a love story?

Or a hero in the war?

I’d talk to God but he stopped believing in me

I’m no bigger than my sin so what’s a boy to do?

Sing a ring of roses and a pocket full of poses

You got nothing on me, that much is true

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Hold open the door just to slam it in my face

Make an unwise statement on behalf of the human race

You don’t have to scream to make your voice heard

Take care of your health and don’t give a shit about anyone else

These Black Majesty Blues, huh

Going to get to you

Going to get to you…soon (real soon, sugar)

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Musical Break 2

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How you feeling now?!

Pink eye, diabetes, hemorrhoids, syphilis, peptic ulcers, genocide

Pink eye, diabetes, hemorrhoids, syphilis, peptic ulcers, genocide

Oh…

Pink eye, diabetes, hemorrhoids, syphilis, peptic ulcers, genocide

S-s-s-s-syphilis.

Pink eye, diabetes, hemorrhoids, syphilis, peptic ulcers, genocide

Pink eye, diabetes, hemorrhoids, syphilis, peptic ulcers, genocide

Repeat to fade.

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Whether it’s a song, a walk; a poem- maybe a short film or video message, the idea is to get involved and keep the word going.  Donating is the most important thing, so as long as that is done as well- hopefully we can raise a lot.  If you are in a similar boat to me, the process can be cathartic and releasing- I have had a much better day today (than I have for a long time) x

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11:35

To: saml889@hotmail.com

Dear Sam 

Thank you for deciding to support Mind with your kind gift of £10.

Mental health problems can affect anyone – rich or poor, young or old, shattering the lives of those affected and the lives of people close to them. 

Your contribution will help us continue to offer vital services for those experiencing mental health problems as well as to their friends and family.

On behalf of all those whose lives your gift will help, thank you so much.

Thanks again for your support.

Mind

———————————————————–
Email: contact@mind.org.uk
Tel: 020 8519 2122
Web: http://www.mind.org.uk/
Address: Mind
15-19 Broadway, London
E15 4BQ

 

The Problem: An Invisible Illness; A Way Through: Time Out of Mind

The Problem:

 An Invisible Illness:

 

A Way Through:

Time Out of Mind.

 

I am not going to depress everyone too much- although I will be mentioning the ‘d-word’.  Over the last few days, human beings (and them being themselves) has made me put things into focus; consider life and people in general.  I have been thinking about manners and etiquette- gentlemanly behaviour and plain decency.  When I look around, I see very little hope for redemption- too many humans selfishly look at their own lives.  Just today, a rather embarrassing incident occurred- for a man; not me- where someone had an ‘accident’- I shall not fill in all the needless details.  Suffice it to say, a couple of men nearby snickered and made ‘jokes’.  Aside from the fact the person concerned had an unfortunate occurrence; the reaction (by the men) was wholly inappropriate and unnecessary.  Appalled by the lack of sympathy and humanity, I have been left feeling somewhat ashamed.  Over the course of today, I have gone about business in the usual manner- done my thing and been out.  Throughout my day, I have seen unacceptable lack of humanity and cohabitation- people being insular and rather detached.  I am not using this blog as a rant and platform for my own ideals- I am just quite shocked by how selfish people are.  I am not suggesting everyone needs to hold doors open all the time; give money to Big Issue sellers- it can be seen as overkill.  Maybe it is just where I am living (that has enforced this perception), but I am left astounded by how selfish and self-absorbed people can be.  I love being called ‘a gentleman’- the reception I receive when doing something as simple as letting someone get off a bus (before me)- it is these minor actions that makes me smile.  As much as those sort of interactions fulfil me, they also leave me angry and cold- too many humans negate the importance of looking out for others.  Friday was a particularly bad day for me- I shall touch on it more below- but I visited London.  The capital was pretty grey and dull (on that day), yet it was then I decided I would never live there- for years I have always yearned to be part of the London scene.  It is great going to London for the odd trip- the reality of living there is just too insane.  London is the epitome of closed-off and poor manners.  A wonderful and diverse city, it is one of my favourite places on earth- yet there is no human connection and interaction.  When walking down Oxford Street, I see thousands of people- maybe a tiny percentage of them will make eye contact or look up from the pavement.  Aside from the hordes of people who walk with their eyes glued to their phones- and expect people like me to get out of their way- people pass you by without acknowledging you.  On the tube, I saw an elderly couple struggle with a suitcase (trying to get it up the stairs at Leicester Square).  By the time I got there, they were at the top- suffice it to say, nobody bothered to help them or offer any assistance.  Too often, I walk past and see others struggle- maybe I am old-fashioned and expect too much.  The point of manners and etiquette is not my main point- it is a slight diversion from my main issue- but it does neatly lead into what I want to bring up.  Following on from the death of Robin Williams- which is still causing shock waves and heartache- I thought I would add my two cents to the agenda.

I am not the most elegant or intelligent person who will write about this subject, yet I want to share a very common human experience.  My blog has been provoked and inspired by people telling me to ‘get over it’; thinking my low mood is moodiness and pouting- if my limbs aren’t hanging off, then how can I be ill?  Statistically, I am not the most depressed person on earth- yet people always remind me how ‘there are people worse off than you’.  Aside from being the most catastrophically moronic and insulting thing you can say, I know that- it is an irrelevant detail that does not help matters.  Too many people are still too ignorant when it comes to depression.  Being someone who has been living with clinical depression for the past fourteen years, my day-to-day life is a tiring.  I have not felt truly awake for since I was 16; I have not been ‘happy’ since I was a child.  It is always awkward to tell folks I am not happy- not even close.  I am not going into graphic details- I have an actual point to make- yet want to fill in some blanks.  The worst part of depression is not the fatigue and constant fear- it is the loneliness.  Social media sites do not really help; a lot of the people I know on Facebook and Twitter I have never met- and probably never will.  To be honest, I can’t really say I have a ‘real’ friend at all- someone I see regularly.  I have a lot of colleagues and former colleagues; friends of friends, but to be truthful, it does not equate to friendship.  This reality is hard to swallow; the jealousy that comes with this is quite heartbreaking- seeing happy couples and happy people makes me feel incredibly hollow and sad.  The human connection- or lack thereof- is quite crippling.  Most people take love, sex and passion for granted- if you’re getting it, then why would you think about it?  Being someone whom developed depression quite severely (from a school age), my experiences have been limited- actually non-existence.  Rather than spell things out, a ticket to a monastery would not be out of the question- I am a newborn baby of sexual experiences.  I have not had a good night’s sleep for months; I am scared all the time; the physical symptoms of the illness are horrifying- that can range from migraines to barely being able to walk.  Throw in hallucinations and suicidality, and this is the reality of my life- yet people still say I should count my blessings and don’t seem that bad.  Surface appearances and book covers are depictive things- that you should never judge. I know I will go down in a lot of people’s estimations, yet I am not a closeted and home-bound bespectacled oddity- someone who probably defines what I am saying.  People’s preconceptions and judgments are almost as upsetting as the loneliness (of depression).  Robin Williams’ death was a wake-up call to the naïve and narrow-minded- it should not take a treasure like Williams for people to think.

Diseases and illnesses like cancer are understandably big concerns- charities that help to eradicate cancer are promoted and highlighted with regularity and huge importance.  Mental illness is a stigma and taboo that is still struggling underneath the rug- something that will never be truly recognised or understood.  Maybe people are scared by depression (and other mental illnesses) but a lot of it stems down to this- depression won’t kill you and you can cheer up, after all.  You know what?  Depression has almost killed my half a dozen times; it is not something that will ever go from my life.  When you wake up every day not sure if you will live to see the end of it, it is not something that should be ignored or diminished.  Social situations can lead to embarrassment.  Being a tall and not-too-bad-looking chap, I get smiles and furtive glances tossed my way- songwriters are sexy, after all!  The trouble is, I am almost physically incapable of reciprocating.  As attracted and touched I am by flirtatious attention, I have almost flat effect a masked appearance that is more commonly associated with Parkinson’s.  Maybe I have Parkinson’s- I fucking hope not- but I can come across as brooding and rude- when all I want to do is smile and be a human being.  That is what depression does to the individual- it isolates you from others and turns you numb.  Because of my fastidious work ethic and alpha male attitude, I am often (jokingly) called a ‘machine’- there is an upsetting truth to that.  Normal people can cry- it is a healthy thing to do.  I have not cried in seventeen years.  Everyone feels pain to an extent; physical hurt that slows you down- I do not really ever encounter that.  I am not going to list my patheticness and list of symptoms- there is dozens- but it is all leading to a point- awareness.

As much as I rallied against the pointlessness of the dreaded Ice Bucket Challenge, I recognised my indifference and anger- so long as money is raised, then what is the harm?  The trouble is, when the fad and fundraising wave has passed, people forget about things- how many people have donated to A.L.S. since then?  If you are going to get angry with people who critisise pointless challenges and stunts, then you need to back it up- keep the awareness going for longer than a few weeks.  It is impossible to make people aware of every charity every day- too few get caught up in fads and only donate when Internet crazes and social media dominoes start rolling.  Seeing others suffer makes me want to get up and do something about it- the world is becoming more unsure and scary by the day.  Having got the ball rolling on a music fundraiser- that so many people have said ‘yes’ to- I need to get some money together.  It will cost upwards of five grand for one day/night’s worth of music- in addition to getting everything organised.  It is proving Herculean, yet I feel I must take up my own challenge- the fact that so many musicians will be playing (for so many charities) is compelling and motivating.  None of us choose our births; none of us choose what illnesses we are afflicted by- at some stage of life everyone will suffer some unpleasant illness.  Coming from a family line with a predisposition to cancer, I am quite nervous about my future- it seems unfair I am 31 and have to shoulder too much.  Things- in that respect- will not change at all- that is the way society and people are.  What I wanted to get across was the ignorance and blindness that afflicts so many.  The people who will read this- one or two- and my most loyal social media clan understand everything I am getting across- too many prefer to ignore issues and brush people aside.  There are people worse off than me- which in itself is upsetting- yet there are far too many that are better off (than me)- that take their lot for granted.  I will wrap things up with a couple of points…

If you are in a similar boat to me, then I share your pain and you have my sympathies.  Music has been a therapeutic and redemptive source of nourishment.  One of my greatest pains is stage fright and nerves.  I know how well I can sing- people won’t believe me but you better take my word for it- yet the voice/voices are stuck in my mind- when presented with a microphone, I dry and succumb to huge anxiety.  Few will appreciate how painful that is- for someone who writes and wants to record an album, I am genuinely terrified I will not make it happen.  Listening to music is one of the most affirming and uplifting parts of my life- an ergonomic and inanimate force that is as human and real as anything in the world.  If you have that emptiness and hardship; if you think about ending things and getting that low- turn to music in the first case.  It is not an S.R.I. or lifeline, yet it provides a huge escape and sense of relief.  Above all, let people know how you feel.  I am not talking about family and friends- they are not always as understanding as you would imagine- but a wider audience.  Too many people are too scared to voice things like depression- that should change.  Social media is synonymous with compartmentalization and selfishness to an extent- if people are unwilling to share great music, then what hope to people like me have?  The thing is, it only takes a small step to make big changes- get people raising money for a remarkable cause.  I am trying to think of a way for people to get involved with mental health charities- a singular action that will unite people.  Like an Ice Bucket Challenge but something a little more connective and long-lasting.  I will keep you abreast next week, but I wanted people to change their attitudes- depression and mental illness is as serious as any cancer or disease; every minute you are reading this, depression will claim another life.

I hope I have not depressed too many people.  It is true my sex life is a blank card; my daily existence is a struggle against my own instincts.  I fear my lifespan will not be that long, as I may never achieve what I want in life- a music career; marriage and a chance at happiness.  In spite of all of this, it is other people who keep me alive and sane- the need to help them and connect.  I circle back to my original point; the issue of manners and looking up.  Too many eyes are cast to the ground; too few let the elderly struggle with shopping- too many ignore minor needs (and chances to be a better person).  If you have a love life and happiness, you should be compelled to help others; if you do not, then there is a necessity to do so- nobody has an excuse to overlook those in need.  Perhaps this blog is a chance to vent and let things out- the last few days have been very hard and unforgiving for me.  I want to encourage anyone reading to do some small things; make tiny changes and become more conscious of others.  If departed and recent pioneers such as Stephen Sutton have taught us anything, it is that helping others can bring everyone together.  I know a few social media friends that go through depression; one or two date depressed people- asking me how to deal with it or telling me how hard it can be.  It is not something that is easy to answer and explain- if you do not go through it, it seems impossible to put things into words.   The point is, it can be scary to live with- if you on the outside looking in, the experience can be terrifying.

My heart goes out to anyone that struggles more than I do; my anger goes to those who do not give a crap- people like that do not deserve to be more fulfilled and happier than me.  Things need to change and get better.  I am not suggesting everyone needs to do anything physical- attitudes and perceptions need an overhaul.  If you do nothing else, then hold a door open for a woman; give your seat up on a train- ask someone how they are doing (and do not ignore the answer).  As I figure out a way to get more people talking, I want to offer a genuine hand to people.   I email and converse online with a lot of my social media peers- I shall never see most of them as long as I live.  If that is the case, then get in touch- if you need to talk; get ignored- let me (and everyone else) know.  Keeping things private augment the loneliness and sorrow- social media takes away the human connection and forces insularity and selfish behavior.  If this trend changes then so can people in general- only then can so-called ‘invisible’ illnesses be recognised and given their rightful attention.  Until things start to turn-about; narrowness starts to expand, remember the sane words of Radiohead (and the song Optimistic): “You can try the best you can/If you try the best you can…the best you can is good enough.”

To that end…

Words and sentiments can only go a certain distance.  Actions are the most important thing- when it comes to making a change.  I know I have developed into a bit of a charity bore- I hope it has not become too tiresome.  In addition to raising the money to stage the music fundraiser- it may take longer than expected- and doing my half-marathon events, it occurred to me: there is an easier and faster way of involving everyone to a common cause.  The Ice Bucket Challenge may have had its detractors and cynics, yet it seems to have captured the imagination- raised a lot of money in the process.  The problem with this proposition may be at the grass roots- getting the message and idea spread beyond my circles and spheres of influence.  In the same way the I.B.C. was shared and involved thousands of people; I would like to jettison a similar idea- raising awareness for Mind.  Called Time out of Mind- I hope Steely Dan do not sue for copyright infringement- it would work in much the same way.  Whereas the A.L.S. awareness was about getting soaked, I thought something more personal and meaningful is in order- hence the title.  There is no need to run the idea past the charity- of course they will be informed- but I do not want the momentum to die and fizzle- within a few days.  I can get things kicked off, but the concept is to take 15 minutes out of the day for Mind-  do something different; a new thing that has never been done.  It can either be writing a new song; telling someone how you feel about them; a personal challenge or stunt- it must not take longer than 15 minutes.  Whether a video is being posted- with a song, message or film piece- it can encourage artistic creativity.  It can be a photo or writing; a personal challenge- crossing something off of your Bucket List- or something you have always wanted to do.  Whatever the individual does, three things must occur: it must follow guidelines (no rudeness or anything inappropriate); you must nominate three other people to follow suit (who in turn must comply; then pass it along…) and most importantly: YOU MUST DONATE.  This final point is the most important; even if it is a one pound donation- there is no way you can shirk this hurdle.  There will be a text number for Mind- one where you can donate three pounds; one five- a link to the website- where you can donate a one-off payment; or set a monthly debit up.   Anything can be involved- with the challenge- from sharing a song through to coming up with a film idea- there are no limits.  The point is not only to raise awareness for a charity- and keep it in the mind- but to challenge and push the donator- not just get wet and leave it at that.  I do not intend for it to be a gimmicky and fad-driven craze- it is a way to get the masses involved and donating; do something creative and put some thought and time into an idea.  I am aware that the idea may not even start; if it does, it may only attract a few people- I want to make it bigger than that; get through the barriers of social media!

I hope it makes sense and makes good common sense- if it does, then get back to me.  I only have a smattering of friends across the social media channels, so I am going to need a helping hand- get the idea pushed as far and wide as possible.  Not looking to steal any A.L.S. thunder- or market myself as a Stephen Sutton figure- I could never be that tremendous a human; just feel it is a cool and involving way to highlight a silent disease- ensure that some funds and recognition goes to some very vulnerable and hard-off people.  If it does happen, then I hope it could be big.  I am not keen in recruiting a few people- I want to get across to thousands (possibly more).  Because the act- the thing that each person will do- is not the same, then there is potential to circulate the idea (for many months)- have people come back to it months down the line.  Perhaps not.  All I do know is there are thousands like me- many worse off- that go through a daily struggle; tired of having to wear scars- to let people know what is happening inside.  Nearly all of us have, or will, be affected by mental illness at some stage in our life- if you fall victim to cancer or any illness, you will be depressed.  In the order cognoscenti; the bigger picture- mental illness is the fastest-growing and most common affliction on the planet.  Money will not cure the problem fast; it will not necessarily cure a single person’s depression (or other mental illness)- it will help and make a difference.  Whereas cancer research is the most important step (to help beat cancer); mental illness relies on other avenues- shelters, housing, councilors and many other things.  Both causes are equally worthy- television and the media tends to overlook the mentally ill.  It doesn’t have to- people don’t have to.  I want to know what you think; whether anyone will come join in- essentially whether they can help make the idea a huge thing.  Pie-in-the-sky or whatever, I will not give up on it (and myself).  I only need to know this…

WHO’S with me?

E.P. Review: The Indos- 50 Shades of Blue

E.P. REVIEW:

The Indos

 

50 Shades of Blue

9.4/10.0

50 Shades of Blue is available from 3rd November, 2014

TRACK LISTING:

3 Sticks of Dynamite- 9.4/10.0

Falling In and Out of Space- 9.4

Lovin’ You Was Easy- 9.4

She Drives My Gun Insane- 9.5

STANDOUT CUT:

She Drives My Gun Insane

GENRES:

Alternative, Indie-Rock

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Scotland is producing some of new music’s finest acts.  The Indos are a band that do things differently; their music is that which lodges in the mind- and will not shift.  With upbeat melodies and everyman themes, 50 Shades of Blue has plenty of reflective heart- yet the abiding sense is of fun and hypnotic jams

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I was going to steer away from my diatribes regarding bands and band music…

But then a certain act has drawn me back in.  I shall introduce them soon, yet have been compelled to dive back into modern music’s band market- investigate the hot and the not-so-hot of the moment.  Royal Blood (technically a duo rather than a band) have been leading a charge; a few newcomer Indie groups have been sneaking in- mainly it is the solo artists that have been making the biggest impressions.  I am not sure why it is- I have postulated many times- the solo acts tend to do better than bands; strike the hardest and provide the biggest range- and resonate longest in the memory.  This is true of the mainstream, particularly- if you survey the last few months, think of all the lone stars that have amazed.  Aside from one or two interesting-ish groups, there has been a huge discrepancy and unbalance- I am not sure why this is.  One settling and soothing thought comes when you look towards new music- there are no shortage of tremendous bands and fervent acts.  From all-girl Electro acts through to bearded Grunge warriors, there is not exactly a quality shortage- you can find exactly what you are looking for.  One of the fastest-growing genres is Indie-Rock- possibly the two most prevalent and synonymous words you can find in new music.  I am not sure what the overall percentage is- probably 50-60%- but a lot of new acts play in this particular field- the genre is one of the most elastic and least rigid in all of music.  The Indos have arrived at a particularly busy time.  In 2014, the world has been treated (or forced to witness) a huge raft of new Indie (and Indie-Rock) bands- all shapes and sizes have come through.  One of the most unsettling and disappointing things about the ascendency and proliferation (of Indie-Rock bands) is the lack of precise quality- most of the new breed are hardly world-beating.  There are a few reasons why my theory carries some weight: the sounds stick too rigidly to other bands (usually Arctic Monkeys) and lack personality; the range- across albums and E.P.s- is brief; other points comes to mind.  When I have investigated recent Indie-Rock bands, I am always left a little ambivalent- I would love one band to stick their hands down my trousers and give it a good rummage.  The likes of Royal Blood may be a tad derivative- too many Zeppelin/Queens of the Stones Age-esque riffs and moments- and a little overrated- you cannot deny how immediate, pummeling and gripping they are.  Too many fresh Indie bands are negating the importance of gravity and force- tending to come off as too weedy, sanitary and banal.  Before I continue on my point, let me introduce my featured act:

Born and bred in North Edinburgh, The Indos are an alternative rock band who take influence from the mod, pop and heavier rock that emerged from British rock bands of the 1960’s.  Mixing a blend of heavy guitar driven tracks with more melodic songs the Indos have created a unique sound.  The current line up came together in late 2013 and have gone on to cement a reputation as a quality band on the Edinburgh live music circuit in 2014.”

Greg Atkinson – Drums/Jamie Gilchrist – Guitar/Backing Vocals Treadfast Johnson – Bass Guitar/Michael Knowles – Guitar/Lead Vocals/Dando Myrillas – Guitar

I am not saying every Indie-Rock band needs to start copying Royal Blood- it would make a change from all of them parodying Arctic Monkeys- but they could learn some lessons.  Currently in the grip of a White Stripes, Supergrass and Muse listening frenzy, I have been hooked and addicted by one thing- that element of fun and electricity.  Whilst Jack White may not strike you as the most jovial and clownish leader in music- albums like Elephant are masterpieces of substance, style and sheer wonder.  Supergrass’ early career dynasty is rife with hypnotic and fun-time brilliance- similarly, Muse have summoned up their fair share of divine smashes.  Too many sapling Indie-Rock bands are overly concerned with being inventive and emotional- the latter only comes off if you have genuine talent; the latter is a risky avenue to walk too heavily.  I am all for balance and emotional levity in music, but I fear the spark, sex and swagger is fast fading- there are acts that are making sure the light does not extinguish for good.  The Indos are one of the bands that are keeping the sweat and tongue-poking adventurousness where it should be- firmly in the cheek(s).  Their debut offering has been stunning and seducing critics- over a month before its official release.  A band that gives few tells and insights- their social media output is still growing and developing- they are letting their music speak.  Having been conversing with their manager- a good friend of mine- I know what a wave the boys are creating- the good word is being proffered far and wide.  It is not hard to see why the lads are salivating slacked jaws- their slices of primal and gritty Rock marries seamlessly with their own brand of introverted and nuanced emotion.  Our heroes are not merely contended to lazily knock-off the in vogue acts- replicate some third-rate Arctic chill; they are a bona fide band of unique insight.  They may be starting out into the big bad music world, yet their early profferings indicate serious intent- that could well parlay into long-term glory.  Their ingeniously-titled debut E.P. contains over four dozen shades of blue- a colour that is deeply suited to the Scottish clan.  Not only can they pull off inner emotion and sensitive reflection; they can lace smut and sexual longing into wonderfully choreographed and realised jams- that mutate into Blues-Rock shades.  Although their quartet of songs has been enflaming and exciting reviewers and fans alike; they are a bit of an unknown quantity further south.  When new bands come along, it can be a tremendous task (making sure they get due recognition)- promotion, publicity and the like can be an exhausting endeavor.  While social media can help a lot- and local word-of-mouth is a useful tool- it is down to listeners and new fans to help get the word out.  I hope The Indos see their stock rise and explode- they are one of few new bands that are instilling and reintroducing the almost-forgotten flair of Rock.  Time will tell just how far the fellas will go- I am sure they will be festival headliners before you can blink.  There are not many musicians that come out of the blocks with as much fire, passion and distinction- ensure you become acquainted with a band that have no intention of remaining local and clandestine.

The Indos boys are starting out in the music world- taking those first steps into the arena.  For that reason, it is hard to see how they have developed- look at their past work.  On YouTube, you can hear some rough demos and snippets- indications of evolution and progression.  If you have been fortunate enough to track the lads since their inception; witness them as they take their songs on the road- it is hard to see just how much they have improved.  From reading live reviews; fan comments and the like, it is evident The Indos have made some strides- grown in confidence and passion.  The songs- on 50 Shades of Blue- highlight just how intuitive and natural the boys are- their recorded cuts have a great live sound without coming off as bare and unprofessional.  It will be fascinating to see how the band grow and mutate- if they will launch an album; retreat maybe and hone their live sound.  From what I hear, they are a pretty reputable name on the road- deftly able to seduce and entrance all sorts of crowds.  What I would expect is for more music to be on their mind; they will be planning future singles- maybe an E.P. for some time next year.  Over the course of a quartet of songs, Edinburgh’s Indos are sure to get tongues wagging.  Even though their E.P. is not unveiled under November, I know there is a lot of demand- the early buzz has been positive and universally positive.  Personally, it would be great to see the band develop a full L.P.- expand their sound as much as they can.  At the moment, it is best to keep grounded and realistic- concentrate on the band’s current work.  Unlike a lot of their peers, our boys do not suffer from lack of invention and quality- they have enough potential to suggest some very endeavoring future movements.  It is clear 2015 will provide multitudinous possibilities and chances; the lads will be getting gig requests and some great demands- I am sure the group will be coming out of Scotland and taking their sound on the road.  One of the most frequent things I hear is from various acts and artists- claiming their fan base do not extend to the southerly regions (and cities like London).  This conundrum and aliment may be because (the acts in question) do not have a varied and popular sound; perhaps they are not putting themselves out there- London and the like are waiting to witness special and striking music.  I feel The Indos will not have to wait too long until they are called down here- the crowds of London are likely to eat up The Indos’ brand of stirring music.

The Indos themselves are pretty coy- when it comes to listing their influences.  Every band and act is compelled by others- some obviously so; other less.  The Scottish five-piece are pretty hard to tie with any others- nothing glaring presents itself.  There are embers of other acts here and there; shades of the odd familiar sound- by-and-large the boys keep things fresh and original.  What you find with the band is their need to distinguish themselves- come across as their own men.  Plenty of energy and innovation comes out in their music; muscle and energy is all evident.  Rather than lob other bands and artists their way; try and find out which acts make them tick- it is best to look at the components that go into their music.  The rampant and youthful sense of swagger has hallmarks of the current Indie-Rock explosion, in addition to hallmarks of the Britpop uprising- the bands and masters from that time have made an impact.  The Indos draw in elements and sounds of their local streets; the local bands to them- combining those sounds with some classic elements.  Energy and passion are as evident as nuance and consideration- the quintet have a keen ear and eye for balance and pace.  Their music does not stick rigidly to a particular sound or direction; it does not cling to predefined models and expectations- there is elasticity, surprise and huge mobility.  What The Indos’ E.P. offers forth is a brilliant mix of contemporary, classic and personal- few modern acts take the effort to blend these considerations.  The darlings and champions of the current scene lean too heavily on obvious avenues; narrow their ambitions and come across as too obvious and predictable- The Indos are not going to settle for any of that.  If you are looking around for similar acts and artists- that could have inspired the boys- then it is best to listen to the bands of Edinburgh- the young and established attists that dominate the hearts of the city.  While most contemporaries are inspired by the Artic Monkeys and Oasis’ of the world; our five-piece are less predictable and stifle- there is a concerted effort to stick in the imagination and present music that is hard to compare (with anything else).

3 Sticks of Dynamite begins less with a triple bang- but a slinking and sensual Blues lick.  A lascivious and too-cool-for-school swagger greets the track.  The riff is infectious and finger-clicking; bubbling and sizzling- remaining Blues-infused and ice-cool.  Joining the fray is percussion which crackles and snaps- the twin pillars give the opening moments a huge weight and glorious architecture.   In fact, the entire band combine wonderfully in the introduction- you can hear each player and element come together to create something rousing and uplifting.  When our hero walks to the microphone, his voice is firm and determined.  It would only take three sticks of dynamite to wish his life away- blow apart everything he is.  The lines and thoughts are not delivered with overt sadness and anger- there is a relaxed and matter-of-fact sound to the vocals.  Having lived a hellaciously busy and fun two decades- playing “broken records” and playing in a band- our man is going to end it all with a bang.  The song grips you from the off.  Not only can you detect a very clear accent come through- few Scottish bands actually sound Scottish; they tend to turn to England or the U.S. for vocal inspiration.  The other striking point is the words themselves- what they mean and what has inspired them.  It is clear our hero has worked hard and seen a lot- struggled and battled in the music world to make things happen.  There has been strain and repetition; some hardships and pains- you know just how much it all means (to him).  The dynamite fuses are lit- but burning low- and (old records are sounding the same)- there is some fatigue and dissatisfaction lurking in the midst.  Perhaps the past has seen our hero (and his band) not get their recognition- perhaps they have felt isolated and balkanised.  There is a determination to make things right; claim glory and change things up- get the just rewards (that he has been working hard to obtain).  The band combines seamlessly to summon up quite a mood; the festival of sound is entrancing.  Our hero is playing and not complaining- he needs to make some plans.  Life is going well; not quite as good as it could be- that essential bang is needed.  The frontman is putting an end to games and shenanigans; the dynamite is lined up and the potential is all there- this song is the declaration of what is to come.  As the song comes to its end, you start to sing along and become caught up- the chorus especially is addictive and highly memorable.  Although the track is a relatively short and concise one, it manages to pack in a lot of punch- without throwing too much into the composition.  The words and refrains are those everyone- in the music world- can relate to- that needs and desire to change things and follow dreams.  Following on from this empathic track is Falling In and Out of Space.  Twanging and low-down bass notes get the song underway- there is a slight Grunge sound to the initial notes (sounding a bit like Nirvana’s Stay Away).  From the opening track’s buoyant and compelling highs, here we have something more inward and dangerous- a sound that keeps the mind primed and ready.  Crackling percussion, spinning guitars; dizzying embers all combine (soon enough)- another stonewall gem is forthcoming.  Few bands manage to make their introductions stirring and memorable- The Indos have crafted a pretty awesome one here.  The boys tangle and merge to come up with something both melodic and hard-hitting- a line that gets inside your head and tantalises the senses.  Driving and pushing, our hero comes to the fore- alarm bells are ringing around his head.  Our man does not want to go to work; look at anyone’s face (you and me both)- that sense of fatigue and dissatisfaction are back.  From the opening salvo’s tales of ambition and musical imbalance; here we see that subject broach once more- the boredom of the humdrum; the need to do something more meaningful and passionate.  Like its predecessor, the track is sprite and catchy; it bubbles and dances- a sense of fun always shines.  When vocals are layered and combined, the atmosphere rises and swells- our hero is not coming to work; instead he is packing his bags- heading for a new land and place.  Running from the world, he is falling (in and out of space).  A song to move your feet, inspire the tongue- get the fists lifted- it is a compelling and seductive jam.  Sick of the same old routines and day-to-day, that unrest and annoyance is clear- who wants to be stuck in that rut?  Motivated and inspired by bigger ambitions, our hero is escaping his job; fleeing and hitting the road- you can hear that relief in the vocal performance.  The entire band are magnificent and magnanimous throughout- the playing is exemplary; the support just right.  No player wanders or hits too hard; there is a real sense of balance and unity- the composition is a busy and catchy diamond.  Cutting and slicing; upbeat and introspective, there are contradictions and mixed emotions- a full-bodied track that catches you off guard.  Not expecting such consistency and quality- from a new band- Falling In and Out of Space is one of the most true and relevant songs (the band has penned)- a track that resonates with almost all of us.  Past the half-way marker, Lovin’ You Was Easy promises something less work-focused- taking us into avenues of relations and love.  A typically impressive introduction kicks things off- that marries The Kinks’ You Really Got Me with embers of The Libertines.  Both light and sexualised, the guitar work is particularly impressive- when mixed with leading and driving bass, it is a stunning and exciting sound.  Displaying some sounds of ‘60s Pop, The Indos take their minds back to a better time (for music)- a song that is sure to draw in fans of this generation.  Our frontman recollects past times: when making plans and kissing (his girl); it seems that those times are still on his mind- the good times it seems.  In his dreams, our man adored his sweetheart- things have now changed.  The walls have caved in; the situation has changed- our man is imploring his girl to go; to get out of his thoughts.  Although it was easy loving his girlfriend- you can imagine why- there has been a fall-out and seismic shift- whether a rift has separated them (or boredom has set in)- you cannot relive the past.  Once more, the Scottish quintet keep the atmosphere tight and upbeat- the vocal performance is engaging and stunning- the composition mixes shades of ‘60s Pop, ‘00s Indie and modern-day Alternative sounds.  The band themselves sound like no one but themselves- you would be hard-pushed to think of other groups (when listening to the song).  Dragged under by the waves of pressure, our hero is fighting the tide- trying to get some freedom and emancipation- for good reason.  His girl made his laugh and happy- and turned-on it seems- but never provoked and spiked his mind.  Perhaps a rudimentary and one-dimensional love, our man needs something deeper and more complete- maybe music can provide the necessary heal.  A short and staggering burst, the band grows with confidence and meaning-as each track unfolds.  Once more, the bass leads from the front- She Drives My Gun Insane has a clambering and sweaty early promise- something tongue-licking and charged comes out.  Although the mood is quite levelled and composed- you know something dirtier and sexual is pressing (underneath).  With a ‘60s head, the song has all the charm and captivation of the Power-Pop revolution.  Our hero lets his voice calm and soothe- recalling his girl and her healing spirit.  Our frontman is on his knees; buckled and hooked by his seductive lover- someone who is causing him all sorts of pleasures.  With a chorus that is as gripping and memorable as any, the song is a lofty and heady brew- one of the most positive and uplifting tracks (the band has produced).  Gone are the regrets and anxieties of modern life- here is something more contrite and impassioned.  The vocal is particularly stunning to hear- instilled with ample passion and pure conviction.  The composition is urgent and pressing- the band is at their peak here.  Hooked and gripped by the mellifluousness and calm of the song- you cannot help but picture the heroine.  An alluring and Siren figure, she has caused quite a ripple- our hero seems to be lost in the thought of her.  A song that is sure to be a sing-along festival favourite- it is the perfect way to end the E.P.  Not only does the track capture the imagination- it leaves you wanting more.  The band manage to leave mouths wet and waiting- there will be huge demand for new music.  Across four brilliant tracks, you get a great assessment of a very unique and impressive band- boys that have a big future ahead.  Having mined a sound and vein of music- that few other acts have stumbled upon)- I cannot wait to hear more from there.  50 Shades of Blue is certainly one of the most immediate and fully-rounded E.P.s I have heard all year- a scintillating and staggering debut.

Across the four tracks of 50 Shades’, the boys of The Indos manage to pack in a hell of a lot of effort and memorability.  I mentioned how original the guys sound; how few other acts come to mind- there is a true and endless sense that they are indebted to nobody.  Of course, there are some tiny shimmers of other groups (in some moments) but it is the distinct and unique voice that (makes the E.P.) such a winner.  No two songs (on the E.P.) cover the same ground- not in an obvious way- so the listener is always treated to something new- the band manage to retain their core and key sound without compromising anything.  Whereas a lot of Indie and Rock bands possess limited flexibility and surprise, The Indos are relentlessly fresh and innovative.  Buoyancy, fun and energy goes into the E.P.  Each of the songs manages to get you up to your feet; there is danceable and merriment to be found- enough introspection and emotion nestles beneath the notes.  Before I recommend and congratulate the players (involved), it is worth summarizing 50 Shades of Blue.  It is an E.P. not quite as saucy as its title suggests; not as dark and depressed- there are ample shades of red, yellow and…well, every other colour you can think of.  Being a Scottish band, there is grit and fight to be heard; brave attacks and natural spirit- an incredible musicianship that never relents.  The songs have the potential to translate into the festival circuit; enflame and rouse legions of fans- there is a catchiness and addictiveness that never lets go.  Greg Atkinson leads a percussive assault that adds vibrancy and hard emotion.  Tuneful and composed the one moment; determined and swaggering the next- he adds an elementary and firm backbone.  Never allowing his performances to become too intense or needlessly reckless, the drumming is sturdy, impassioned and playful- matching whatever is being projected in the foreground.  When songs are fun and charming, Atkinson is up to the task- when more inward and angered, he is capable of summoning up the mood.  A lot of drummers- in other bands- tend to get pushed into the back; left to keep time and do their thing- never really allowed to shine and come up front.  The Indos have a democracy that means Atkinson is on a level par; he is given an equal vote and allowed to flourish.  Because of this, there is an effortless and breeziness- that results in some consistently stunning and powerful performances.  Jamie Gilchrist provides backing vocals and guitars- blending in perfectly and inputting an enormous amount of weight and authority.  His guitar work has all the sensibilities and trademarks the modern music listener demands: power and pace; surprise and unpredictability; unique ideas and ideals; passion and flair aplenty.  Hypnotic and gripping when required, the strings bleed and echo- when the emotions are more settled, it is tender and softer.  The entire band are tight and impressive throughout; Gilchrist is one of the most natural-sounding and assured guitarists on the scene- his inimitable vocals blend perfectly with the hero.  Treadfast Johnson is the bass king and guider- the one responsible for leading the songs and keeping everything focused and controlled.  Lyrical and melodic; fervent and spiraling- Johnson has his own personality and way of doing things.  A great percentage of bands are not noted for their bass work- it seems to be a minor facet that is overlooked.  If you look at all the great and most varied bass players- everyone from Kim Deal to Paul McCartney- they are synonymous with their personal approach and styles.  The Indos are lucky enough to have a player that does not put in the bare-minimum- he puts in a solid shift.  Possessing a lot of different shades, layers and approaches, Johnson is the consistent and reliable heartbeat of the band.  Dando Myrillas adds to the guitar army- leveeing in his strings and ensuring the force and majesty never drops.  A captivating and intuitive performer, Myrillas is responsible for a lot of the E.P.’s most uplifting and memorable moments.  50 Shades’ contains a great amount of spoil and tussle; the energy and swing never lets (its grip go)- the stunning and authoritative guitar work is synonymous and radiant.  Adept at conjoining with his cohorts, or else going out alone, the guitar work is endlessly nuanced and fascinating- retaining a unique voice and original intent.  Too many Indie and Pop/Rock bands throw guitars in the mix to make noise and commotion- there is little consideration toward rhythm, style and diversification.  The Indos’ sound is one built around movement and addictiveness; potency and pride- they are a band that have few equals.  Michael Knowles is the voice behind the songs- the man that gives life to the lyrics.  Playing guitar- as well as singing- the hero has a very particular voice- you can hear the native accent come out.  Not willing to Americanize the tones; mimic any other singer- Knowles retains his natural voice; making the sounds and sensations that extra bit special.  Filled with energy and passion; hard intent and sexuality- with every other emotion nestled in- he is one of the most mobile and wide-ranging singers about.  Never succumbing to overt wailing or whining, every note and vocal is assured and controlled.  Not a preening and copycat singer, Knowles puts his all into the performances- a leader that is led by his own instincts and ideas.  The lyrics (throughout the E.P.) do not keep their mind in one particular area- there is plenty for everyone.  Most bands- who play in the same genre- over-personalise things and tend to put too much of themselves into tracks- that revolves around broken love and fractious break-ups.  The Indos have a greater depth which means songs go to the streets; they go behind closed doors- there is story and filmic quality in their rhymes and couplets.  The abiding take-away (from the E.P. and band in general) is fun and catchiness- anthemic luster and glorious tunes.  The E.P. is going to be one that will see the boys in greater demand- there are plenty south of Scotland that would be clambering to hear The Indos.

I have probably expended and exhausted every adjective (to describe The Indos).  In the music scene, the avid- and short-sighted- listener is always looking for something new and fresh- damned by any samey and predictable act.  Music is about as gender-blind as any industry out there.  I am finding myself more impressed by female solo acts more than any (style and form of music/genre).  It is the invention, individuality and personality that compel me- that vocal balance of sweet and powerful.  Male bands are more widespread and common (than female ones) and as such, are in my thoughts- I find that too many bands are stale and lack necessary invention.  As I type, I am listening to Royal Blood’s south coast blend of primal riffs- there is something troubling about their rise to prominence.  Although I was one of the first reviewers to feature them, I think they have room for improvement.  From the opening riff of the lead-off track, there is a sense of disappointment.  Whereas some bands have a unique and distinct voice, Royal Blood seem too much a conglomeration of other acts.  The voice and riffs of Jack White come out; the anger and staccato beats/guitars of Rage Against the Machine are evident.  Throw in some Beastie Boys attitude, Artic Monkeys swagger; Queens of the Stone Age sensations- with a dash of Led Zeppelin into the mix- and that is Royal Blood.  It is impressive that they instill the memories of some of music’s greatest ever artists, but you have to wonder: how hard is it to do; where is the originality?  When their second album arrives, the public- and reviewers like me- will want to hear something that is THEIRS- sounds that break away from copycatting and mimicry.  Regardless, there is a desperate need for originality and difference- acts that possess huge quality, yet do so in their own inimitable style.  The mainstream throws up few worthy examples- new music is where the quality is being found.  The Indos are one of a small group of acts that manage to pack an immense amount of wallop (into their songs) and never really lose focus and momentum.  Their 50 Shades of Blue may be the first step (of many), but it is clear the boys are not in it for the short haul- you know that they want to be owning festival stages very soon.  Without succumbing to histrionics and over-exaggeration, I am confident the quintet has a great future ahead of them.  The debut cut is the most important (for any musician)- the early chance to see just how good they are.  Whereas a sizeable chunk of new music is dominated by vague and homogenized Indie artists, there are bands that want to be different- keep shades of the genre without coming across as just like everyone else.  Slippery, sensual, sexy and salacious; hard, hormonal, hectic and huge- the guys manage to put you in the mood.  Their sounds are not merely point-and-shoot toss-offs- they have a flair and sense of intelligence few of their peers possess.  Nuance and credibility comes through in every moment; there is ample melody and layering- enough solid musicianship to please the snootiest of fans.  What the band’s E.P. provides is a glimpse into a hungry and eager clan- what is currently going through their mind.  It will be great to see where they go from here; whether 2015 will see another E.P. developed- or an album.  What I do know is the five-piece will be embarking on touring and gigs- getting their sounds out to the masses.  Based rather far north of London, I hope the lads get themselves down here- their music will find masses of loyal ears down my way.  Employing some of the magic (of music’s finest acts), I have been left deeply impressed (by The Indos).  If the group comes play London I will be sure to come and see them- reviews suggest they are a formidable live proposition.  I will end the review with a final point- something that will always bother me.  With the mainstream producing mixed results and fly-by-night heroes, eyes are naturally cast towards the new- and underground—generation of musicians.  From the fire and fuel of expectation come some rather limp and lukewarm embers- artists that lack necessary attack, memorability and talent.  The flipside to this issue is the ability to locate the truly great acts- sift through masses of acts and discover the best out there.  Perhaps these quandaries will never been eradicated and resolved; there will always be discrepancy and problems- so long as bold and distinct acts come through, we need not worry (too much at least).  When 50 Shades of Blue drops- in November- ensure you investigate it in full; follow the band now- on Twitter and Facebook- and immerse yourself in their striking brand of sounds.  They may be taking their first small steps into the wide music world, but they will be making big strides too- expect to hear a lot more from the Edinburgh brotherhood.  Across a quartet of tight and stunning tracks, the band has laid down a marker- a challenge to their contemporaries and colleagues.  With originality and distinction fading from music, it is pleasing to see a band that owes little debt to others.  As was said- about Royal Blood’s debut- that debt can be written off when there is plenty of fun (to be found).  The Indos manage to keep the fun and frivolity afloat; they tussle and hustle with determination- catch you off your guard on several occasions.  If you want an anecdote to the endless parade of faceless acts; those new artists that provide little tantalisaton- check out The Indos.  Their best days may be in the future, yet all the evidence and potential is here.  Their train has left the station with furious speed and steam-spewing pace.  Make sure you do the smart thing and…

JUMP on board.

About the Author:

http://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/about/

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Follow The Indos:

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TheIndos

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/the_indos

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/the-indos

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The Indos’ videos available at:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUI5nTaecJ3NsEXtJyvD-eg

Album Review: Blackburn Hall- Self Titled

ALBUM REVIEW:

 

Blackburn Hall

 

Self Tilled

9.4/10.0

Self Titled is available via:

http://blackburnhall.bandcamp.com/

TRACK LISTING:

49- 9.4/10.0

Ghosts In The Walls- 9.2

Steel & Wire- 9.3

Echoes Beat Louder Than Drums- 9.3

Black’s Forest- 9.4

North American- 9.3

Stop Singing- 9.4

Common Man- 9.5

Highways- 9.4

The Attic- 9.4

Walk Into The Sun- 9.4

STANDOUT CUT:

Common Man

DOWNLOAD:

49, Black’s Forest, Stop Singing, Common Man, The Attic

Recorded at The Gas Station by Dale Morningstar
Additional Recording by Mitch Bowden and Graham Walsh
Mixed by Graham Walsh
Mastered by Andy Magoffin at The House Of Miracles

Pete Hall – Vocals, Guitars, Lap Steel, Keys, Banjo
Adam Melnick – Bass, Keys
Dan Empringham – Drums
Alex McMaster – Cello
Graham Walsh – Keys, Soundscapes
Julie Fader – Vocals
Terra Lightfoot – Vocals

RELEASED:

30 September 2014

GENRES:

Pop, Indie-Rock

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The Canadian trio have amazed critics and blown away listeners.  Drawing in different musicians and sounds, the band have produced a stunning Self Titled effort.  If you are not familiar with Ontario’s Blackburn Hall, be sure to pay a visit- and keep coming back for more

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IT is not going to be long until…

I give up reviewing and put it to bed.  It is not to say my featured artist is not fantastic- they very much are- it is the fact its interest and fascination has decreased.  It may seem like an odd thing to announce, but in the next month I will be closing the blog down- reviewing only from 2015; maybe doing the odd review here and then.  It is not down to the fact that the quality of music is decreasing- there are some less-than-impressive moments but it is the same as it ever was- the fact is that bigger things await.  Having recently announced a forthcoming charity fundraiser- I am starting to focus my attention outwards.  Not too much good can be achieved from certain endeavours; the only way you can do well is to think of others- less fortunate and make a stand.  Too few current acts look towards others and help the general community- there is a consensus towards inner ambition and personal campaigns.  My general point is that life is throwing things in front of my.  My home life can only be described as horrendous- stuck in an atmosphere I detest and drains every ounce of me.  Lack of finance and extreme fatigue is sapping the life from me- music and escapism is my only form of comfort and positivity.  Aside from my better and bigger plans; the movements away from day-to-day predictability- great new acts are still surprising me.  In spite of the fact some recent review subjects have not shared my work- something that makes walking away so much easier- the sounds and variations are deeply impressive.  One of the biggest woes- when looking at new music- is the homogenization and lack of originality.  With every new band or act, you can always predict what is coming; you are never blown away and the mind is rarely nurtured- when a great act does come along, it always makes the week more bearable.  Over the last few months, few artists have genuinely resonated in the imagination- the pressure really does seem to be on.  In the modern scene, you need to offer a lot more (than what you think); step aside from derivative tendencies and come up with something unique and fresh- so few musicians come across as different and striking.  For every wonderful and genuinely great act, there is a hopelessly tedious and banal band; a stunningly awful Pop artist- it is not the way to inspire the new generation of musicians.  Stepping away from the negatives of reality, there are some acts that get the point- know how important it is to stand out from the crowd; not just plod out the same woeful standards.  Luckily, my featured act has something about them; combinations and sounds that have entertained and compelled my mind.

Blackburn Hall is a Canadian collective that are a little sparse (at the moment).  In terms of social media output, it is a little lacking- In need of some proper biography and back story; a bit more flesh and body to their Internet spread.  It is hard to dig up too much information about the band; where they are heading- how they have come into existence.  Hopefully this will be rectified as soon as possible, because the Ontario band is one of the most distinct out there.  I have received hordes of review requests from Ontario musicians- no idea why the hell the rest of Canada is so quiet and dull; it seems this part of the country are awake and genuinely ambitious.  Blackburn Hall does not need to stress too much about their visibility and brevity- the reviews coming in (for their debut L.P.) have been hugely positive and impressive.  Peter Hall’s new crew has turned in an album filled with crunchy and hard riffs; compelling moments and diversions- consistency that is not to be overlooked.  Too many modern acts negate every necessary consideration- they do not produce solid albums; their sounds are not varied; they seem to lazily string together riffs and ideas.  Blackburn Hall has shown just how flawed pragmatism is- there is so much gold to be found in idealism and rebellion.  Their Self Titled (missing as it is a hyphen) cut is rife with packed and busy tunes; orchestral sways and grand moments- plenty of mesmeric riffs and dizzying choruses.  Canada is one of the most fervent and stunning musical nations of earth- producing some of the most brilliant and joyous bands of the moment.  It would be nice for acts outside of Ontario to get their arses in gear, but geographical stubbornness is outweighed by overall quality.  One of my biggest regrets- about my current predicament and tiredness- is the sacrifices I have to make.  As a musician and writer, I am limiting my ideas and output; having to put plans of the backburner.  As a campaigner and organiser, I find my time lacking and precious- real life tends to get in the way of everything.  It is great being a functional member of the workforce; having a regular job and earning money- reviewing has never earned me a penny.  The thing is, the daily commute is taking so much energy away from me- my great ideas and plans are being marginalised and reduced.  I guess that is the price you have to pay; there is never a good moment to get the best of both worlds- music is the outlet and sanctuary that everyone clings onto.  When new music is unsurprising and mediocre, the listener needs to look elsewhere- rely on the dependable charms of the best of music’s history vault.  When sapling acts get the blood rushing, then something great can happen- all those off-putting others seem less relevant and grating.  Blackburn Hall has taken the time to craft music that provides nuance and quality.  They are not the product of a marketing campaign and copycat instincts- the ensemble are among the most talented musicians about.  The former A Northern Soul pioneer has amassed a sturdy and scintillating conglomeration; a clutch of musicians that provide classical minimalism; Rock glory and multilayered variegation- sounds that you can never see coming or predict.  It will be great to imagine Blackburn Hall arriving in the U.K.; introducing their particular brand of song to our waiting ears- we have few comparable acts over here.  In a heaving sea of generic riffs and posing band pretenders, it is nice to hear a shake-up; unconventional wisdom that has maturity, youth and passion- embers and realities that far supersedes the watered-down soup of the majority of contemporaries.  I shall not rant and moan on, suffice it say, it is refreshing to hear an act that does not take the easy way out- there is craft and intelligence to their music; a mixture of simplicity and complexity.

When looking into previous work, it is hard to draw up too much backstory.  Blackburn Hall is a relatively new and fresh endeavour.  Hot off of the blocks, their current album is their most completed and fully-fledged work- the real chance for the public to witness an incredible and stunning band.  The tracks on offer- within the L.P. – are rife with difference and diversity.  It is hard to really pigeon-hole and label the music- putting it into genes- the best way we can look at Blackburn Hall is through the complete picture- the sort of sounds and songs that are being offered up.  Many reviewers and critics have pointed out how varied and different the work is; how many different strands and avenues are crammed together- without it sounding forced or scattershot.  What Blackburn Hall do is to convincingly master every genre they play- the experimentation and authority is hard to ignore.  When listening to their album, I was taken aback by how mesmerising it was.  With each new song comes new ground and fascination- it bodes well for the future.  It will be hard to see where the band will go from here- whether they produce another album; an E.P. or single- what they will choose to do.  I would love to hear another come forth; see if the guys stick with their varied sound- or hone it slightly.  What you can guarantee is that (whatever comes) it will be packed with huge quality and surprise.  Few bands have an overall sound that takes in so many different possibilities; that which can entertain and seduce a wide range of listeners- make everything sound completely natural and complete.  Blackburn Hall has plenty of ammunition and longevity appeal- they will be on the scene for a fair few years.  Most bands and acts start out quite timidity; lack bravery and instant charm- choosing to put out a single or E.P. to get things going.  If you do decide to pull together an L.P., you have dangers present- is it going to appeal to listeners that are encountering you for the first time?  Not only does it have to hold the attention- which is remarkably short today- but result in repeated demands and fevered praise.  Being a (music) market filled with disposability and short-term lust, it is harder than ever to make your mark.  Blackburn Hall has enough confidence to go in all guns blazing- put out an album that is going to leave everyone (that hears it) satisfied and won over.

When it comes to like-minded acts- one could compare with Blackburn Hall- there are few to choose from.  The band has such a distinct style, yet has been influenced by a few select bands and acts.  Death Cab for Cutie is an act that has had a bearing on the Canadian act.   If you look at an album like The Photo Album- the band’s 2001 work- it shows a lot of inspiration and drive.  The infectiousness of the music is only matched by the catchiness and sheer energy- the amazing range of moods and stories is enough to win over the steeliest of hearts.  Stream-of-consciousness vocals mix with confessional verses and aching performances- the vocals are heart-aching and uplifting throughout.  The melancholic piano and guitar moments are some of the most emotive and tender (of the time)- you can hear some of this come through in Blackburn Hall’s album.  The observational lyrics and cutting riffs add electricity and vibrancy to surroundings- something the Canadian collective have taken into their work.  Upward trajectories and optimism lurks alongside some downward arches and draining emotions- the mixture and balance is pretty perfect.  The Photo Album contained perfectly crafted songs and wonderful moments- it inspired new legions of fans and compelled contemporary acts to follow suit.  Daydreaming music was a soundtrack to pocket-size epics; slice-of-life dramas that hooked you and amazed the mind- the brains and emotions on display were of the highest caliber.  Listening to the album and you get a glimpse into a remarkable act- one that understands the importance of quality and keeping things fascinating.  Blackburn Hall have taken this to their chest and presented their own version of events- distilled all of their multiple charms and possibilities into a stunningly cohesive and nuanced record.  The Weakerthans are an act that many would not have heard of.  The Canadian Indie-Rock band may be well known in their native country- perhaps few of us here are aware of their work.   Left and Leaving remains one of their essential masterpieces; one of the greatest Canadian albums of all time.  From the striking and perfect album cover, what you get within is a political message in one- a statement that has its heart within political considerations; the brain and body with more melodic and traditional elements.  The staggering wordplay throughout caught many listeners agog- the literacy and intelligence throughout is of the highest order.  With stunning production values and atmospheric grandeur, the album is as true and distinct as any- a guiding light into another way of life; a way to live without having to apologise.  The truisms and insights have compelled a lot of current acts; including Blackburn Hall- there are similar and familiar edges within Self TitledAttack in Black is an act that has made a mark on Blackburn Hall.  A fellow Ontario Rock act that take in influences like Neil Young and The Ramones to create Folk-Punk gems.  Although Attack in Black pack in fewer instruments and sounds (than Blackburn Hall) the quality and wonder.  Attack’ has shown themselves as a tight and militaristic unit that has amazed critics and followers.  Albums like Marriage remain balanced and deep- merging ballads and soft numbers with upbeat stadium-sized themes and epics.  The band remains original and truly distinct.  Limiting themselves to traditional components- bass, guitars and drums- they manage to supersede expectation and hone songs that are sharp and stand-out- they have teeth as well as passion.  The final acts I want to bring in are Julie Fader, Huron and Terra Lightfoot.  On Facebook and social media, Blackburn Hall has called these acts influences- looked to them when creating their album.  Fader is a Canadian songstress that is a celebrated and adored artist.  Her album Outside In featured none other than Peter Hall- our hero and front man.  The gorgeous Canadian crafted an album of exquisite music; songs that touched the heart and enflamed the mind.  Whilst relatively quiet for the last few years, her 2009 L.P. remains a huge accomplishment- an L.P. that has compelled a lot of her country mates and musicians.  Although Blackburn Hall are a core trio, the musicians and sounds they bring in gives the impression of something larger and grander- they whip up huge atmosphere and epicness.  Huron and Terra Lightfoot represent two very different sides of the music world.  When thinking of Lightfoot, it is hard to overlook her beautiful talent and amazing appeal.  Not only a wonderful musician, she remains hugely influential and gripping.  These acts have all have an impact on Blackburn Hall- enforced their sound and inspired their direction.  Our intrepid trio has managed to push away from convention and write music that is very much their own- you are loathed to compare them with anyone else.  It is best to judge the boys on their own endeavours and what they have come up with- an album filled with treasure and stun.  In a placid and plastic music scene, it is great to hear an act that has their own voice and direction- they are not second-par and copycat pretenders.  Not only is Self Titled a brave and bold statement, it is a record that keeps on giving and offering- not easing from your brain for a very long time.  For any bands that are uninspired and stuck in a rut- they could do with taking a leaf from Blackburn Hall’s book and providing something unique.  Plenty of passion and Rock spars with tenderness and catchy riffs- a boiling pot of magic and variegated pleasures.  The band are shaping up to be one of my best discoveries from 2014.

49 begins hard and intently.  A catchy and passionate riff welcomes events in- the Rock feel is cemented straight away.  After an infectious coda, our hero steps up to the microphone.  As the story unfolds and images are laid in, that constant energy and impassioned mood keeps strong- little flecks and electricity jolts add and augment the layered sound.  Our hero keeps his voice levelled and firm- never allowing it to burst and explode at all.  Shotguns, stark characters and vivid landscapes are all laid in; the atmosphere builds and the scenic drive grows in expectation and meaning.  A central character is described and followed- someone who was never seen again.  With infectious and repeated codas, the track has that festival feel- the sort of song that could be chanted from the fields.  One of the biggest and most rounded compositions; it is a stunning way to kick the album off.  Our hero asks dera mothers to “hold on”- his voice straining and romanticised.  Without warning, the track builds and becomes jagged; stuttered and fragmented riffs blend with a fuzzed-out guitar sound; our man lets his voice pervade and campaign- imploring hearts to keep alive.  It is strange how quickly the song completes its assessments- it has such a relentless pace and quality, it seems to end before (the listener is ready).  Ghosts In The Wall begins with demented, contorted and snarling electronics; sounds that mesh and mingle- a car crash inside a nuclear holocaust.  With flavours of Muse and Queens of the Stone Age, it is another triumphant start that has the listener hooked in- quite a startling and stunning introduction.  Primal and galloping, the track shows its teeth- before opening up into something lighter and catchy.  The boys keep things tight and focused in the early stages; never allowing themselves to wander or lose attention.  The song’s subject is haunting and fearful; at night the secrets are lodged in the walls- spectral visions and weird scenes fill the mind.  Melodious and warm, there is a sense of comfort to the song.  As our frontman looks at small victories and tired ghosts, it is another vivid and original track- one where the words are almost as encapsulating as the music.  The band unite splendidly throughout; enver missing a step or beat, they summon a hugely impressive composition- one that has as much heart and pride as it does lust and barbed wire.  Echoed and wailing strings parabond with hard-hitting percussion and driving bass- the song never lets its grip go.  Switching between memorable and light-hearted verses and tight and edgy rhythms, the song has a terrific dynamic- one that is emotional and urgent.  Nobody can deny the charms and qualities of the song; it is an addictive song that is quotable and alive- energy and momentum lodge inside your brain.  As it comes to an end, you have heard two different sides to the band.  Hard to compare with any other acts, Steel & Wire is another new step- a song that starts off impressively.  Rambunctious and delirious, the swirl of electronics, percussions and keys is a terrific blend.  A soft and swaying song, our hero is at his most tender and passionate here.  The vocal performance is filled with life and intention- his words look at fevered babies and fires burning.  Trust and unity are subjects that are explored; darkness and lighter moments are investigated- it is a song that gets you thinking and imagining.  Chorused vocals and choral affects add beauty and serenity to the number; the steel and wire (of the lead figure) eyes is as sharp and striking as the song itself.  Possessing a distinct kick and constant movement, a huge and emphatic 1-2-3 is completed- few bands go in so hard and meaningful.  With a title like Echoes Beat Louder Than Drums, you might be expecting something epic and huge.  The opening moments have a calm and sense of demure.  Romantic and lush guitar edges blend with serene and smooth vocals- the cavalry is building and eyes are dead-set.  One of the album’s shorter numbers- it is still nearly three-and-a-half minutes- it is no slouch at all.  Whilst not as bombastic and memorable as the likes of 49, it is another track that showcases Blackburn Hall’s myriad sides and talents.  It is perhaps the vocal turn that impresses the most.  The band is certainly up to the task at hand- making sure the composition is as vital as possible.  Shivering and shimmering strings are set with wave-crash percussion work; the bass bounces and tumbles- the track certainly never relents when it comes to passion.  Behind windows, the echoes are speaking loudly- you can picture loneliness and frayed emotions; doubts and regrets.  The band never allows their lyrics to be dumbed-down and too direct.  There are oblique suggestions and open interpretations aplenty- on each number the listener can decide their own conclusions and meanings.  Black’s Forest starts with some echoed and ethereal build; aching and natural world strings that get to the heart- a perfect and still way to bring the song to life.  With Country and Indie tones, our hero’s voice is reflective- he looks back at his childhood and the forest.  Memories are recalled and brighter days brought in; the song’s subject is being looked at and investigated- ashes and dirt meet with mother and earth.  Looking at childhood pictures, the earliest recollections- you picture the story unfolding.  Farmhouses and infantile beginnings mix with current-day anxieties and concerns- it seems our hero has some burden on his shoulder.  Just as I was settling into some relaxed and nourishing waters of calm, North American takes your mind elsewhere- the opening notes are a cacophony of metal and mental.  Rampant and spiraling strings are backed up with punchy and determined drum beats- the bass guides the lads forward.  One of the most addictive and stand-out introductions, the song is a classic Indie-Rock example.  Few other bands capture you so quickly; there is intrigue and fascination from the opening moments.  Between the hard-hitting notes and smashes, there is plenty of calm and measure- the song has a great quiet-loud feel to it.  Like Pixies and Nirvana, Blackburn Hall are deftly able to go from tied-down and reflective to explosive and sky-scarping.  Jubilant and wordless vocals get inside your head; the ever-changing composition is one of the most impressive things here.  Buzzing and psychedelic rapture unites with smashing percussion- the band is hard to predict and anticipate.  With a drive-time feel and upbeat nature, it is a song that is perfect for warmer evenings and long drives- the kind of song you can become immersed in.  Stop Singing has some tip-toe and nervy beginnings; our hero looks at a heroine- the men she has been seen with and involved with.  Our man implores (his girl) to stop singing out loud; get a grip and focus.  Maybe the words hide different meanings; it is a song that contains multiple layers and possibilities- you are gripped by the grace and catchiness of proceedings.  Looking at song structure- and applying it to relations and life in general- it is a clever and original composition that could apply to contemporary bands or certain people.  The chorus is one of the most infectious and stunning on the album; a coda that cannot be helped but sung-along and chanted- again, it will translate well with regards festival crowds.  Common Man has anything but a common sound.  Although it has Indie flavours, it is a song that is hard to compare with any others- it is very much the work of Blackburn Hall.  An epic and grandstanding song, it is imbued with energy and utter conviction.  The decibel level raises as the band come together with force- trophy wives and good times are explored.  Looking at common people and real lives, you get the sense (the band is) rebelling against certain people- those that are not in touch with the everyday struggle.  With bills to pay, the common man is in the spotlight- the plight and life that is faced.  The emphasis on good times keep coming back; the servants are on their knees and the oppressed are kept down- it is a song with a social conscious as well as a feel for atmosphere and memorability.  A track that could well define their live sets, it is intended to get crowds singing and enflamed.  A busy and packed composition, there are no loose edges or missteps- you get that symphonic and orchestral feel to things.  Like Muse and their ilk, Blackburn Hall is able to crank up the drama without stepping into the realms of implausibility.  Highways is another soft and tender start.  Grace and passion unify emotion and intent- it is a gorgeous introduction.  Our hero looks at steady flows and engines turning- promises are also put under the microscope.  Our man never lets his voice do anything other than captivate and intrigue.  A philosophical and deep-thinking number, Hall is joined on vocals- ethereal contributions add to the majesty and sense of beauty.  The two voices- between Hall and his female cohort- blend perfectly; it is like a lover’s call.  Indefatigable lust and passion comes out; you cannot escape the purity and intent of the song; it is a wonderful example of Blackburn Hall’s calling card- that diversity and unpredictability.  The Attic gets things back on a springier footing; tumbling and hopping into view.  Our hero found a notebook in the attic; songs are contained- numbers that were never recorded.  Like a diary, our man looks back at his earlier work- Hall does not care for blue skies; preferring rain clouds instead.  Upbeat rather than melancholy, there is truth and honesty here- the best and most brilliant songs contain heartache.  Every love song has an element of negativity and doubt; each musician has had to face inner demons- that does not mean songs have to be morbid.  Here there is a celebratory and joyous mood; the band is at their most elliptical and joyous.  Combining their instruments, the trio ensures the song keeps packing in punches and surprises; the attention to detail is phenomenal.  Having begun Self Titled with a bang and sense of drama, our finale sees us Walk Into The Sun.  A bookend of sorts, we get events under way straight away- go in with the same force and grit as 49.  Here, the vocal is in straight away; the band do not spare time with an introduction.  The song has a familiar sound and presentation- sounding very much the work of the band- yet manages to distinguish itself from the herd.  Packed with plenty of emotion, detail and urgency, it is another incredible number- one that closes the album with a determination.  Not content to simply leave the listener satisfied and assured, the band manage to leave you wanting more- maybe squeeze is another track or two.  After witnessing having digested so many different and wonderful tracks, it is hard to pick a favourite- so many are close in terms of quality and consistence- and it is clear there are no weak or filler tracks.  I was left amazed at the professionalism, songwriting quality and amazing performances- after you have finished the album, you revisit particular moments and tracks.  An album that is sure to grace many people’s stereos and thoughts, Self Titled is one of the most assured and stunning debut albums by any new act.  It is clear the Canadians will make their name known much farther abroad- they have a sound that would be welcomes and adored in Europe and Australia.  I hope the trio make a date to come to the U.K.- it will be great to hear them in the live environment and see just how brilliant they are up close.

Across 11 multifarious numbers, the members of Blackburn Hall have created something stately, memorable and very distinct- an album that is very much true to their own inimitable talents and creations.  The Canadian band remind me of an outfit like Massive Attack or The Cinematic Orchestra.  There are core members and a tightly focus group at work- they allow other sounds and musicians add to their wonder and music.  Too many acts seem far too rigid when it comes to their creations; seemingly intent on allowing no external force have an effect.  If you can effectively wield guitar, bass and drums; make the best noise possible with them- good luck to you.  The trouble is, so few modern acts manage to achieve anything spectacular.  Modern artists like Royal Blood- having been nominated for a Mercury- have been gaining mixed review and some close scrutiny.  Although Blackburn Hall do not throw too many other instruments into their mix, the sounds and effects are stunning- there is enough depth and talent to suggest huge things.  Past bands like The Libertines and Supergrass could be heard (in certain moments); that youthfulness and abandon; at other times things are more restrained and focused- their album packs in so much difference and interest- few can ignore its potential and urgency.   Before I comment on the players, it is worth overviewing Self Titled.  I have highlighted at the additional musicians and collective feel of the band- there are not a huge amount of other players; the sound just feels orchestral and vast.  At the most intimate avenues, the band are able to summon up something quite grand and swaying.  The essential focus is on the three men themselves- the boys that make up the band.  Their efforts, contributions and personalities ooze out of every pore; mesmerise the senses and captivate the mind- they should have a big future ahead of them.  When new bands put out an album; go into the market with something full and complete- the results can often by underwhelming.  One of the biggest issues- when stamping an album- is filler tracks and the weaker moments.  Aside from some originality being lost- during L.P.s- there is that quality problem.  I can appreciate the necessity of making your voice heard- if that voice is not interesting or consistent, then it can damage a career irrevocably.  As I type I am listening to Supergrass’ sophomore album, In It for the Money.  Not only is it one of the most spectacular albums of any time period, it staggers me with its consistency and quality.  So much energy and pizazz crackles through; tenderness and romance is allowed- the songs are infectious and utterly delirious.  Few bands have managed to meet the benchmark of that phenomenal album- present something that has so many different colours, ideas and qualities.  In a way, the Blackburn Hall record seems to be a challenger- there are certainly some serious credentials at work.  Our hero and frontman has a distinct voice that laces each track with shades, contours and nuance.  Not just another boring and faceless singer, Hall is capable of injecting momentum, emotion and force into anything he sings- a captivating guider that gives the songs essence and vitality.  His guitar work moves in directions; it snakes and weaves; contorts and cries out- matching the diversification and possibilities thrown in.  There is never a lack of energy and meaning (by Hall)- throughout, he summons up passion and soul.  Few frontmen (and women) are as talented and original- often you get the impression they are not putting their all into music.  Hall is an artist that understands the importance of conviction and promise; the need to get inside the listeners’ heads- ingrain yourself into the consciousness.   Adam Melnick is the bass man with a huge personality and sense of self- his movements and contributions are stunning throughout.  Melody, rhythm and emotion is uttered forth- he is a musician that does not follow any other example.  When the bass work is strong and unique, it makes the songs all the stronger and more fascinating- that is certainly the case here.  Not allowing himself to slip into a comfort zone, the innovativeness and restlessness is hard to overlook- with each song comes a huge amount of effort and urgency.  Acting as a backbone and heartbeat, Melnick ensures the listener is aware of his presence- he never retreats to the background.  Splendidly combining with his brotherly duo, he whips up quite a sstorm- ranging from taut and tight muscle work to melodic and composed tenderness.  Dan Empringham allows his sticks to conjure up a festival of sound- pummel and determination spar with coolness and stunning rhythms.  Not overtly overpowering and forceful, the percussionist keeps time and composure; keeps the band in check- whilst making sure each song has a hell of a lot of vibrancy and determination.  Overall, the band combine effortless and naturally- the tight performances are what make the album such a treat.  As though they have been playing for decades, they are relaxed in each other’s company.  What you get from Self Titled is an exploration into their minds and thoughts; the personal insights and stories are there- plenty of mystery and mystique lingers.  Making sure no song comes across as minor and underdeveloped, the trio has clearly spent a long time perfecting their music.  The production values are exceptional throughout; crisp and clean- not too polished and needlessly gleaming.  An album that is sure to inspire a lot of new bands- not just in Canada- I hope the boys bring the 11 tracks over here- come and show London a real good time.  I could use them in my fundraiser- although the distance is going to be an issue; regardless, they are one of the most intent and memorable acts I have surveyed (for a long time).  Let us hope there is more music on the horizon- more chances to hear the trio do what they do best.

Music can be pretty capricious and unpredictable as a whole.  There are weeks and months where you get influxes of great music and different sounds- others it can be slim pickings indeed.  New music is much more vast and unfettered- there are no limits are restraints put in place.  For that reason, it can be incredibly difficult searching out the best and most fertile- getting past that inevitable wave of boring and below-par rubbish.  At the moment, there are few websites that limit the choices; tailor their site to reflect an individual’s tastes and discretions- maybe it is an impossible feat.  I have harked on about this a few times: wondering why there isn’t a music website like this.  Surely something can be put in place that unites ALL new music- something more interactive, descriptive and user-friendly than SoundCloud.  Sites like this are perfect if you know what you are looking for; if you want to uncover new wonder, they are not helpful or instructive at all.  I yearn for the day something arrives that dispels my stresses and woes- a website that has every new song and act on it.  From there, you could search by genre, style- a ‘sounds like’ section- and anything in-between.  That way, all listeners and music fans could go here and make it easier to proffer and celebrate the best out there- dispense with those that are pretenders and fakers.  One of the major problems with new music is that so much is buried deep and tucked away- a lot more is shoved in your face and gets in the way.  Regulations, order and organisation needs to be brought in- I fear a lot of wonderful acts are being lost amidst the clan of doubtful and meagre.  I shouldn’t focus too heavily on this particular point, because it may be an unsolvable conundrum- a situation that is irreversible and indelible.  What it all boils down to is whether acts like Blackburn Hall are getting their just rewards.  Assessing so many Canadian acts- mostly from Ontario- I can tell there is a huge amount of quality here; it is a region that is fostering some of music’s most exciting talent.  How many people know about this bedside me (and some native dwellers)?  It is not a known fact.  We all are aware of the likes of L.A. and New York; London and Manchester are obvious hotspots, too- how many of you are aware of the growing and vibrant Canadian music scene?  That may be another issue with the social media age- commentators, users and patrons rarely promote acts and nations beyond their own- they tend to keep their focus fairly local.  The media do not help too much- keen to keep their minds and pens trained on their own country.  There are a few blogs and sites that push beyond boundaries and go that extra mile- their combined influence is not enough to make a dent on the public consciousness.  How long can you yell in the dark before the lights are turned on?  Having waded through a sea of indeterminate music quality; sacrificed intellectual integrity (in order not to offend some acts)- I have been dreading reviewing lately.  Having decided to call it quits (pretty soon), I am glad there are some acts that genuinely do not disappoint.  Blackburn Hall have created a Self Titled album that may be a little short on grammatical correctness- it overcompensates with its musical innovativeness and wonderment.  The band is not really a band; they are a collective- a shared brotherhood and wonderful group of musicians.  The songs and sensations throughout the L.P. reflect a multitude of different genres, emotions and thoughts- they do not merely hone themselves and phone it in.  When guitar riffs come and play, they do so to maximum effect- not to plug holes and fill the air with noise.  When more romantic and symphonic segments are unfurled, they do so with mixes of grandeur and scintillation- never going on for longer than is needed.  There is that banquet of sounds and segments; something for every listener- an album that is packed to the seams with probability, motivation, style and substance.  The intriguing song titles only tell half of the story- dive inside the music and let it work its magic.  The variations and depth is there to entice, hook and seduce as many as possible- this is not niche music restricted to certain factions.  I shall leave you with another take on the issues of new music (and quality control) and getting the word out there.  One of my biggest regrets and angers is that I do not have more leverage and power- my influence is restricted to the walls and confines of my social media followers.  When reviews go out into the ether, they are often not shared and spread- if they are, few others take the trouble to get the word further.  That is one of the issues of our age- sites like Facebook and Twitter promote laziness and selfishness.  I have seen too many great musicians and bands stifled and defeated by the general public- the lack of benevolence and community is glaring.  They may not be solely responsible for the issues and problems within music- the people that use these sites are certainly not helping things.  There should be a way music like Blackburn Hall’s get appropriate love and following- I guess life is not as fair and just as it should be.  It may be the case there is no solution other than to keep trying- promoting as much as possible and hope that things starts to happen.  A lot of people in the U.K. are unaware of the massive bands and acts that dwell elsewhere- nations like Canada are proving particularly prosperous and scene-stealing.  If you do one thing this year, make sure you get off your bottoms and look further afield- take a risk and explore new lands and possibilities.  The best moments and situations arise when you step outside of your comfort zone- explore and take a leap.  When it comes to music, so many of us are sticking with the tried-and-tested- not willing to taste new cuisines and unexpected flavours.  Being a reviewer and songwriter, I actively seek out difference and geographical diversity- look for as much originality and newness as I can handle.  I do not expect everyone to be like me, but the point is you can unveil something wonderful- if you are willing to push yourself.  Of course Canada possess as many dodgy and unwieldy acts as we do here- the thing is, artists like Blackburn Hall show just what is out there.  With such a rife conviction, a sense of authority- something unique and engaging- they will find their demand go up and up.  If you have not dug their latest creation- make sure that you do.  Whether you like your music loud and impassioned; introspective and tender- classical and developed- then you will find what you are looking for.  I will be spinning Self Tiled- or S/T- one more time- investigating and picking apart its layers and elements.  I hope Blackburn Hall spread themselves a little further; get some more social media coverage sorted; make their name and voices heard loud- they should be developing and expanding as they make more music.  When they get a fully-fledged Twitter, YouTube, BandCamp, ReverbNation and Facebook assault sorted out- with some serious biography and photos- then they will get more listeners and fans into their camp.  They may have established a name in their native North America, yet Europe is a market that is a little underdeveloped and slight- it is territory they could conquer and own.  I shall do my best to get the word out, as a band like this are deserving of wider acclaim and appreciation.  Their new album has made me more relaxed and calmed; put woes and stressed on the back burner- it has made me less cynical and more appreciative…

THAT is what music can do.

About the Author:

http://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/about/

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Follow Blackburn Hall:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blackburn-Hall/34134315167

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Blackburn Hall’s music available at:

https://soundcloud.com/blackburn-hall

Where Words Fail…: Getting the Bands (Duos and Solo Acts) Together

Where Words Fail…

 

Getting the Bands (Duos and Solo Acts) Together.

I’m not sure if this will be a pie-in-the-sky thing; whether I should like a demented bride planning her wedding- an idea occurred that I could not get over.  To distract my mind from the horrible stress and anger of my home life; the rising tide of financial uncertainty (this month)- a wealth of other oddities and annoyances- something occurred to me.  I am always being asked (by acts I have reviewed and keep in touch with) to come see them.  From the Scottish warriors Universal Thee, London lovelies like Lisa Marini and Los and the Deadlines; Lincoln folk The Moth Lantern- Yorkshire wonders such as ISSIMO.  I have a huge love and respect for all of them (and the acts yet to invite me up for a beer) and one thing always holds me back- exorbitant train fares.  Having roughly bugger-all to survive on (for the rest of the month), I am finding I am home-bound and limited- unable to come up and say ‘hi’ to my music darlings.  As I type this, another journalist has been beheaded- religion kills again, it seems.  The sheer evil and scariness of life continues to fart in the Devil’s face; the lice and rats of human society are being given air time- shown in newspaper headlines and seeing themselves as martyrs and heroes.  As cowardly and pathetic as they are, you cannot how unpleasant and awful the outside world is- the world is a horrible and nasty place.  I am not saying it as a fatalist or to throw in the towel- there seems to be meagre glimmers of light among hailstorms of fire.  Two of the constants- that have kept me ticking and busy- are music and charity.  The former has seen me consecrate and solidify my music writing; start to- finally- recruit a band; get things going.  I am taking on managing a new band- local to me- and looking into managing a second- keeping myself nice and busy.  In addition, I am still reviewing and keeping my hand in- you can imagine how wonderfully rich my social life is at the moment (he says, ironically).  Charity is something I have not often- in the past- spent a lot of time (and money) on- mainly because the ‘charity muggers’ where I live are the most irritating humans on the planet.  Following family tragedies and a need to take (some form of) action, I have been involving myself in half-marathons- planning on completing one every three months (for a new charity).  This sort of brings me to my main point…

There are a good 30 or 40 acts (I have reviewed) I would love to meet; see in the flesh and share a drink (with)- I have been getting requests through thick and fast.  Whilst it is not economical or realistic to get all of me to all of them- it may be doable to get them all to me.  I am pretty determined- nay, psychotically determined- to pull together a charity fundraiser/event.  I have a list of my review subjects in front of me- there are 36 different examples listed.  I wanted to get all of them together (several will be reading this right now) and put them under the same roof.  I am looking at February next year- the night(s) of the 14th (and possibly 15th- depending on feedback and recruitment).  The event will take place in London, and aim to get all the tremendous bands, duos and solo acts to the capital- for one night (or two) of charitable debauchery; music festivities and a Valentine’s Day massacre of sound.  From Yorkshire stunners like Jen Armstrong, Allusondrugs and ISSIMO; Scots Universal Thee, London/Surrey-ites Los and the Deadlines, Lisa Marini, Nina Schofield and Chess- I want to do this.  Let me explain a bit further…

The Name:

Where Words Fail…

Dates:

I had originally intended to have this set for Christmas time- or around the 23rd December.  It is still a possibility, but what with raising funds and booking the venue- it seems like a bit of stretch.  February seems to give me enough time to get those things sorted; send out the invites and plan the gig.  The aim of having it on Feb. 14th was to do something useful on Valentine’s Day- give love to people that are not used to it; bring lovers, sweethearts and new faces together for one big blind date.  I am sure my venue may be booked then (see below), but a boy can try, right?  If there is enough demand- and lots of people want to get involved- it may have to extend into a following night.

The Aim Behind the Gig:

The show(s) will be a chance for a lot of acts- who until now do not know one another; or only connect on social media- to play together.  A lot of acts will be unsigned and seeking representation.  The aim is not for a record label boss to come scout, but the possibility is all there- hopefully word-of-mouth can get can them in.  The main point is to raise funds for charity.  Each act would nominate their chosen charity- play on behalf of them- it can be local, national or international- there will be no profit to be had.  When the ticket sales are accrued and calculated, the total (that does not go to the venue) will be divided among the artists- they then would take that back to their nominated cause.  Having been appalled by events in other countries; the growing tensions of the world stage- a lot of concerns and issues are being neglected on our doorstep.  Working in a job where I get to read of some pretty serious cases- I work in adult social care- it is disheartening and painful to read of such woe and horror.  This is no cynical spur-of-the-moment thing; not a plan I will abandon- something that should happen and would do a lot of good.

The Venue:

At the moment, there is only one that stands in my mind: Under the Bridge.  The Chelsea-based music venue is situated under Stamford Bridge (hence the name)- it is one of the most reputable and wonderful venues in London.  Take a look at the website- http://underthebridge.co.uk/- and you can see how glorious it is.  Situated near Fulham and Broadway Tube- with easy public transport accessibility- it is in one of the most prosperous and nice parts of the capital.  The venue is renowned for its beauty, cleanliness; quality and atmosphere- there are few others that match it.  I understand there are bigger venues, yet U.T.B. holds 550 people- standing room only.  The state-of-the-art sound and lighting seems perfect; the décor and setting is immaculate- just the sort of place to host a musical repas du soir.  Acting as an impresario and organiser, I want to get all of my wonderful musical pals together- put them in this venue; let the capital see what they are capable of.  Under the Bridge seems just the place to host this.  Whether the cost of staging the event will be too exorbitant (I am not sure) – but I am going to enquire and get some quotes.

The Financing:

Unfortunately this is not the sort of endeavour that can be funded via a Kickstarter campaign- as it is a charity event.  I appreciate that it is going to cost a bit for the acts to get down- train fare; accommodation and the like- yet I will plan to make some allowances and try and organise something.  The idea is to pay the venue based on ticket sales- a certain percentage of the door will go to them.  I am hoping- provided we can get full capacity crowds on the night(s)- there will be plenty of money left over- ticket prices will run at about 15.00 GBP for the night.  As it is a 550 capacity venue, it seems likely there will be a healthy profit- meaning each act will have a fair amount for their charity.  It is hoped I can parlay this into a second night- meaning more money can be raised.  I am going to get quotes and ideas- from the venue- but hoping that bugaboo money does not stand in my way (as it is at the moment).

In the Lead-Up:

There is a long way to go, so it seems like a lot of things need to happen.  Near the bottom, I have listed acts I hope can make it; others can add their name and let me know.  It is important I get rough estimates of numbers- so I can go forward.  Towards the end of the year I hope to raise some finances- through other sources- make some plans and get everything sorted.

On the Night (and Before):

It is going to be important- assuming this thing happens- to get all the acts together prior- rather than shove them all on stage and expect it all to click.  There will need to be planning meetings, itinerary and rehearsals.  This first stage- the timetable- does not need all the acts to be together- I can do this via email and social media.  When it comes to run-throughs, this will need all of the acts- so they are attuned and confident on the night.  I will put together a rudimentary running order prior to the get-together, but it vital everything gels and runs smoothly- it will not be an arduous or elongated practice/rehearsal.  I am aiming for it to take a day to do; the acts get a chance to meet for the first time- and see each other perform.

What I Need From Each Act:

As (I hope) there will be a lot of ‘yes’ votes- it is unlikely each act will have a chance to play too many tracks.  The way I see it- depending on how many are in, each artist will play a 20-25 minutes set.  One of their songs will be an older/established number- the other will be a new song or cover.  I am hoping each act can bring a new song to the evening- give it its first airing.  That not only gives the audience something fresh, it is a chance for the acts in question to premiere their latest offering.  If there is a huge demand- and a second night is feasible, then it is likely a third song can be added- split things so half the acts play the first night; the second (half) the next night.  What I require in the short-term is some feedback and ideas- whether this is something anyone would be interested in doing.  I will have hugs, kisses, beer and pressies waiting for any acts that are in- ensure that it is a night(s) not to forget.  Being an Arsenal fan, I am skeptical heading Under the Bridge, yet it is a magical venue- there is no doubt people will get in.  The venue does not have a huge waiting list, so I am hoping my intended dates are free- they are fungible at this point.

Intended Acts:

Forgive me if I have missed out any acts- literally anyone else interested is going to be included.  I know so many U.S. and Canadian acts I want- I have excluded them assuming they will not be able to make it.  If there are any international acts- reading this- that can make it and get to London- hell, yeah!  Here is a rough list of peeps that I hope will throw their support my way:

ISSIMO

Allusondrugs

Gypsyfingers

Bianca Bazin

The Moth Lantern

Broken3ways

Chess

Boom Tales

Eloise Lovell Anderson

Marisa Rodriguez

Jingo

El Born

Jen Armstrong

Emily Kay

Alison Levi

The Bedroom Hour

Los and the Deadlines

The Verideals

Dana McKeon

Kobadelta

Sarah Collins

Calgaris

Lightknife

Ivy and Gold

Braver Than Fiction

Emma Nadine Stevens

The State of Georgia

Universal Thee

Lisa Marini

Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals

Nina Schofield

Crystal Seagulls

Lydia Baylis

Little Violet

Chenai Zinyuku

Second Hand Poet

CryBabyCry

Play Record Erase

RKZUK

Steve Heron

Annie Drury

Sire

Rosie Bones (and band)

Shiftin’ Shade- with Adam Hume

Gorilla Punch Radio

Bi:Lingual

Little Sparrow

The Indigos

International:

Moons of Jupiter

The Updraft Imperative

Vanessa Soto

The Open Feel

Black Lady Soul

Quinn Archer

Ellene Masri

Little Dove

Surprises and Possibilities:

I know it is going to be a feat getting this all sorted; making sure everything is realistic and workable.  If it CAN happen, I am hoping to throw some surprise guests in there- if social media can spread it far enough, who knows who (the event) will attract?  I am not suggesting Paul McCartney will pop by to end the night with a rousing rendition of Hey Jude- it is not unreasonable to get a few fairly well-known acts to come by.  On my wish list, people like Gaz Coombes, Jessie Ware, Anna Calvi, Ben Howard, Plan B and Kate Tempest lurk; a boy can aim at least?  It is not out of the question- to rope in some big draws.  That will be a tertiary concern, but would certainly add some spice and surprise to a (hopefully wonderful) night.  Another surprise.  IF it can be put together I will put my procrastinated ideals to one side and perform- either solo or part of a band- yup!  To punctuate the music; hopefully something interactive can play- Under the Bridge is known for its interactivity and facilities.  Either a pre-recorded piece/comedy or snippets can play between acts.  This gives chance for my actor friends; me and others to formulate something cool- add another layer to proceedings.  I hope some of my actor, model and director friends can pitch in; do and provide something- make the event a fully-rounded and unforgettable thing.

So…

I have probably left something fundamental out; negated a key chunk and element- I hope not, at least!  I am pretty ambitious and can usually pull things together- I really do hope this is one of them.  The mystique, magic and mayhem come from the musicians- you guys listening and reading.  Initially I am keen to hear thoughts- whether this is something that appeals- and what the general consensus is.  Granted people reply, I will post updated and statuses to Facebook and Twitter- earmarking the next months and outlining the future steps.  Thanks for reading, get thinking and let me know.  If there is a weight of popularity and approval, I can get things moving.

Track Review: Princess Nyah- Champion

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Princess Nyah

 

Champion

 

8.8/10.0

 

 

Champion is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/princessnyah/champion

GENRES:

Dance/Hip-Hop

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In a music scene with few original players and intentions, Princess Nyah is a bold and stunning artist.  Mixing confident and evocative shades of Destiny’s Child with Foxy Brown and FKA twigs- she is an artist that demands respect.  Champion is a stunning cut that hints at a very bright future indeed.

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MUSIC seems not to get any fairer or easier to…

Deal with.  Just as I type, I am haunted by the weight music (puts on shoulders); how dreams can be crushed and unrealized- how the finest and brightest musical talents struggle to meet their expectations and ambitions.  It is always sad and upsetting when superbly bright and eager musicians decide to call things quits- lambasted by expectation and reality, they hang up their microphone (for good).  I can understand the reason behind these trends: why some musicians feel they cannot keep pushing and striving.  With so many humans being crammed into the world; so many new acts emerging (by the week)- there is precious little room for maneuver.  I love music and all the possibilities it provides- I feel not enough is done to encourage those that deserve kudos and true success.  Give these facts; one wonders how the successful succeed- what makes them stand apart (from the masses of young hopefuls).  Perhaps it is down to some luck and soft positional bargaining- maybe the public are kinder to some musicians.  Whatever the reason behind this phenomenon, I know this much- it isn’t fair.  Not even close.  It is worrying that so many acts are buried and overwhelmed.  I suppose there is nothing much that can be done; when the numbers keep rising- as they do- what is one to do (in order to ensure equality and fair community)?  One of the great things (about music) is the acts that come through and evolve- keep going between releases and see their stock rise.  In addition to having a distinct and popular sound (the successful elite) has a never-say-die attitude- the spirit to keep going through the tough times.  So many great bands are starting to emanate (from new music’s circles)- the solo act always has a tougher time of things.  There are no band members to help shoulder the workload- I know I have covered this subject a number of times- and no way around the realities of the task at hand.  I am filled with admiration for the lone star- those that go out into the music world by themselves.  It takes a hell of a lot of fortitude and guts (to even take the first steps); a bag-load of nerves and determination- a thick skin and a fungible calendar.  My featured artist is one of a few that has managed to keep growing in stature- having faced some (slow early days), she is among one of the most promising Hip-Hop/Dance artists in the U.K.  I have another point to raise, but for now, shall introduce Princess Nyah:

Talented. Ambitious. Driven. These are just some of the words that spring to 
mind when seeking to describe UK musicʼs brightest new star, Princess Nyah.
Whether sheʼs laying down the vocals on a club anthem, rapping over a Hip
Hop beat, being the boss of her own clothing label or cutting deals with
industry execs, Princess Nyah is an artist and a businesswoman who is
destined for big things. After the phenomenal success of her smash hit,
Frontline Nyah is ready to take on the world with her new single ʻCrazyʼ, her
new EP Destroy & Rebuild, and an even greater determination to make her
music dreams a reality.  Nyahʼs desire to perform manifested itself at an early age. After winning a
local dance competition when she was just six years old, Nyahʼs mother
recognised her daughterʼs natural talent and encouraged her to develop it. ʻI
think thatʼs the first time my Mum noticed that I was really into music. After I
won the dance competition, I started going to classes at Sylvia Young Theatre
School on the weekend. At school, I starred in every cabaret there was.ʼ
As Nyah grew older, her passion for music developed alongside her other
great love in life: fashion. ʻIn school, I did art and textiles, because I wanted to
be a fashion designer.ʼ But, eager to pursue a career path that would enable
her to provide financial support her single mother, Nyah put aside her creative
ambitions at college and chose to study media. ʻI wanted to do performing
arts, but my mum didnʼt think Iʼd be able to get a job. So I half-heartedly
started a media course.ʼ But Princess Nyah is not a woman who does ʻhalfhearted
ʼ very well. With characteristic boldness, she soon made the decision
to drop out of college and started working full-time.
Ironically, it was at this point that her creative streak re-emerged and she
began to embrace music once again. With the help of UK producer Def1,
Nyah ventured down the path of songwriting for the first time. ʻDef1 was
rapping and making Hip Hop music and he helped me to get started.ʼ At the
same time, Nyah also rediscovered her natural gift for performing and became
Def1ʼs on-stage hype girl.  Like any true music-lover, Nyahʼs passion was never limited to just one genre.
A life-long fan of Hip Hop, Nyah soon developed a real love for dance and
house music and began taking regular summer holidays to the Mediterranean
party islands. ʻI went to Ayia Napa one year with one of my best friends and I
heard ʻTell Me What It Isʼ by DJ NG ft. Baby Katy (now known to the world as
Katy B). As soon as we got off the plane, we just threw our stuff down and
went to straight to a club and we could just hear this bassline. It was the first
time I heard the song and I fell in love.ʼ  Nyah returned to the UK determined to start making the kind of hypnotic club music that she had danced to in Ayia Napa. ʻWhen I came back, I knew I
wanted to try something different. I was driving home from work one day and I
just started singing this hook in my car. So I called Def1 straight away and
said ʻIʼve got any idea.ʼ   That idea was Frontline, a track that would become one of the biggest club
hits of 2009. A relative novice to the ins and outs of the music industry, Nyah
drew upon her innate business intuition to ensure that the track was played by
the right DJs, in the right clubs, and on the right radio stations. ʻInitially, I burnt
just five CDs. There was a big rave coming up where I knew Marcus Nasty
from Rinse FM would be playing, so I went down there with my CDs and gave
him one. It just had ʻPrincessʼ written on there with my telephone number. The
next day he rang and told me he loved it. Thanks to Marcus, a lot of people
started calling me for the track. He basically pioneered the record through
hammering it in the clubs and on Rinse FM. I ended up recording over 100
specials for DJs on stations across the UK, and it went on the 1Xtra playlist.ʼ
Buoyant from the success of Frontline, Princess Nyah wasted no time in
throwing herself into her music, and released her self-funded debut E.P. Diary
Of A Princess, which included the follow up club smash Hooligans, with
Ghettz and Griminal on the remix, and Butterflies.
Besides working with notable MCs such as Wretch 32 and Wiley, Nyah
worked with one of the UKʼs most prolific producers, Donaeo to help incite the
clubs once again with the remix of Party Hard, another UK club anthem.
Fast forward just a year and Nyah has not only recorded an explosive official
remix of Major Lazerʼs party anthem Pon De Floor but is also adding the final
touches to her first album, the aptly titled Patience and Persistence. Diverse,
vibrant and bursting with energy, the album showcases the best of Princess
Nyahʼs music, as well as herself. ʻI grew up on Hip Hop so thatʼs been a really
strong influence, due to my Jamaican heritage there are lots of dancehall
influences on there, too.ʼ   As well as working with long-time collaborators Ill Blu, Princess Nyah has
teamed up with legendary UK producer DJ Wonder, True Tiger & Terror
Danjah to create an album that ultimately ʻ…reflects my love of house and
dance. I wouldnʼt describe it as dance music per se, itʼs a more a reflection of
my influences, the English club experience, which varies depending on where
you come from.ʼ  At the same time, Nyah has continued to develop her clothing store Binghiʼs
Boutique, as well as launching her label RoyleTease Records, , and
mentoring young women interested in entering the music industry. Itʼs a
lifestyle that many would find exhausting, but Princess Nyah sees it all as part
of the bigger picture. ʻI think that itʼs really important, not just as a female but
as an artist, to understand what it is youʼre doing and your main objective.
You need to be in control of your own direction and destiny, it is very easy to
get lost. I know where Iʼm going, I know where Iʼm headed. Patience and
Persistence are the keys to success.ʼ

Like contemporaries RKZ, Princess Nyah has an entrepreneurial spirit- that restlessness that means she insinuates herself in multiple realms of life; takes the effort to benefit (as many as she can).  She knows how much patience can pay off- what it takes to achieve your goals and ambitions.  Having started from humble backgrounds, the young heroine has come on leaps and bounds- growing and evolving with every new release (and year).  Complete and armed with music that is original and distinct- Princess Nyah is going to be a serious name to watch.  Stations and venues around the capital have attuned themselves to her dizzying arrays and multitude sounds- the sort of music that does not come around that often.  As much as the God Particle could wipe out the universe- according to Professor Stephen Hawking- apathy and ill-education can destroy the music universe.  Too many terrific acts are being marginalised and sublimated- pushed into the mire in order to foster space for undeserving acts.  The anger and depression evoked- from this queasy and proclivious paradigm- is not a detriment to deserving and superb musicians- it is always wonderful to see them succeed.  In a way, any resentment and disgust is transformed into an osmosis of positivity and support- the mind and heart roots for the indefatigable and thirsty hopefuls.  Princess Nyah has gained some huge momentum and fandom- her numbers rise; the amount of (positive feedback) she has garnered- it is the catalyst that sees her galvanise and augment her presence.  A businesswoman; a campaigner and role model- Princess Nyah understands the vitality and importance of control and dreams.  Being a new convert to her music and ideals, I have been back-peddling and catching-up- sifting through her bounteous treasure chest and discovering a wealth of wonder and range.  Champion is a necessary and expected step forward- one of her most assured and stunning cuts, it showcases how naturally the young heroine can up her game and surprise the audience.  With her vast love (of multitudes of different genres) she incorporates these multifarious threads into her latest testament- a stone-cold gospel that is primed to get the summer-fatigued feet rejuvenated and ready.  Too few musicians go out of the way to give the public something different and genuinely fresh- supersedes expectations and traditions to subvert critical predictions.  In a country where the genres of Dance, Hip-Hop and Rap are among the most thriving and startling arenas for creative brilliance- this is where more eyes should be trained and strained (towards).  It is good to distance yourself from the vast swathes of guitar-led music- those bands and acts that tend to tamper with the same three chords.  Embrace the beat and the sound of the concrete jam; twist your head around something elliptical and upbeat- dangerous and low-down.  The equation and maths is quite simple, see: discard electronic twangs; throw in some head-spinning sounds; divide and conquer- multiply the fun and fever- to create a total that cannot be refuted (or improved upon).  Princess Nyah has many years ahead of her- and is not quite at the top of her game- but shows incredible promise and strengths.  Accountable and second-par to nobody, her distinct motifs are rife with original intent, personal input and nuance.   It is hardly a shock (that) Champion has been gathering such impassioned praise and paen- a slice of life that is as affirmative as it is sexy; hard and raw as it is smooth- a stunningly cocktail concoction of sound.  I am wholly confident the young star will be making some serious impressions through the next year.

BigBoys

It is worth looking back to some of Princess Nyah’s earliest works.  London to Ibiza is a rousing and spirited club beat.  Befitting of its name and itinerary, the song does not go to sleep- neither does out heroine.  Constantly moving and upbeat, our star does not settle and rest.  Driving a Bentley and living the life, there is a sense of wealth and glamour- bling and jewels gleam in every note.  With hard edges and a primal tongue, the song swirls to the sounds of ‘90s clubland- there is a great nod to the better days of Dance.  That is not to say London to Ibiza is pale by comparison- it has plenty of modern grit and braggadocio stride.  Our heroine treads the line between boastful and restrained; human and celebrity- the images of evocative sounds melt wonderfully together.  Perhaps suffering from some weak production values, some of the song sounds rushed and too packed- a little too busy to truly capture.  What you do get is a great glimpse into the songbook of the young heroine- the unique sound (that defines her later work).  Crazy showcased itself as a more subtle and modern number.  Slinking and nuanced, the song sees Princess Nyah being driven crazy- by her insatiable and addictive lover.  The beats crackle and bubble; slam and sizzle- they are not as hard and pummeling as in her embryonic moments.  The sound here is of the modern club floors; the sweat and Pop sounds that compel 2014 revelers- it has its heart set in the grime and heat of the late-night avenues.  A bit of a step forward- a leap in the right direction- it is an early sign of Princess Nyah’s sexual prowess and scintillating lust.  Butterflies possessed and showed its romantic side.  Big beats do arrive and patter—they are not as full-on and swelling as expected.  Instead, what you get is something with some R ‘n’ B edges and soothe- temptation and sensuality.  The sounds rolls and trickle; flow with energy and soul.  Sounding quite familiar to (some of London to Ibiza’s layers) our heroine ensures her identity is kept intact- but that quality and ambition grows.  Our heroine’s heart has been sent a-flutter- there is some tease and coquettishness afoot.  Big Boys starts urgently and determined.  Not a hardcore and relentless beat, here there is more melody and punctuated intention.  Before you know it, the mood expands and grows; the intentions get bigger and harder- it is a banging swathe that has serious ambitions.  The vocal is addictive and urgent; impassioned and bold throughout.  The production values are more assured and polished- allowing the song to shine and flourish.  The crispness and clarity means the beats and vocals are up front and clear.  The entire performance is a push forward and development- Princess Nyah comes across as intent and meaningful as possible; nobody can stop her.  Sticky is as evocative and striking as its name; that big club flair and sound reigns- the hard beat and swagger punches forth.  Our heroine is bonded together by love and romance; things are getting real and sticky- there is that mixture of hardship and adulthood.  Maturity and fear mingles with possibility and love; that whirling combinations of emotions.  Princess Nyah does not let things get to her; she remains levelled and in control- determined to get through and make sure things work out.  The lyrical shift- away from sexuality and youthful naivety- has blossomed into something more rounded and deep- a song that has some grown-up centres and a shift in perspectives.  As great as Princess Nyah’s rambunctious and sweaty side is, here we hear something more earnest and real.  Heartbeat is a more recent track; something that has led to Champion’s fighting spirit.  Her best track-to this point- that quality jump continues; the directness and fascination is at its peak.  Fast and rapped vocals mix scattershot speed with dizzying beats and full-bodied electronics.  Bills are piling up; tabloid newspapers come to the fore- our anonymous heroine is seeing her face put out into the world.  Her growing name and stature are being investigated; when she walks the street people stare and recognise her- celebrity culture is investigated.  A more interesting cut than on previous numbers, our heroine provides her most impressive set of lyrics- a scenic and episodic tale that is evocative and detailed.  The emphasis on words and vocals takes control over force and beats- the production values are as crisp and polished than ever before.  The entire track has a gleam and shine; a combinative rawness and street-level dirt- grime and smoke fuses with sweetness and heartache.  The myriad themes and diversions are more melodic and layered; our heroine’s heart keeps beating on- she is going through trials and the results of popularity and acclaim.  From the dizzying and assault of Heartbeat, arrives Champion- a track that returns to earlier agendas.  That raw and hardness has returned- our heroine has her mind set on hip-flexing considerations.  Distorted vocals and sexualised intent comes in; a confident and ego-boosted boy is looked at- the street vibes and edges are sharp and stinging.  The developments are clear to see.  Although strong and assured on her debut seconds; Princess Nyah has evolved and strengthened her sound- become more rounded and confident.  Our heroine’s vocals have become more unique and personal; the star has grown in ability and direction- she is very much her own woman and artist.  From early tracks of love and urgent passion, themes of celebrity and spotlight have been traded with sweetness and romance.  Champion marries early shades and subjects with that new and inspired sense of freedom- some of the strongest lyrics and most unexpected sonic shifts (are to be witnessed here).  This means that future movements and songs are likely to be as assured and stunning- mixing in new aspects and tones.  Having cemented and perfected her streetwise persona; Princess Nyah has plenty of attitude and directness; ample barrage of sensuality and tenderness- such a huge range of possibilities and potentials.  That core and galvanized central identity (is what sticks in the mind).  With every song comes another layer of confidence and surprise; something new and unexpected- plenty for the public to enjoy and appreciate.  With such a strong and authoritative set of songs (to her name), we are likely to see a lot more Princess Nyah material- who knows what will come out way!

When comparing Princess Nyah with other acts, it is pretty hard (to draw others to mind).  Her fusions of Dance, Hip-Hop and Pop have few comparables- the young star does not try to be anyone else.  In terms of her darker tones and mixture of Dance and Hip-Hop elements (recent eye-catcher) FKA twigs can be levied in.  The Mercury Prize-nominated solo artist can be heard in other artists- including Princess Nyah.  Both shares a high priestess personality that brings so much force and conviction to their music- few can ignore their urgency and prowess.  Ethereal sensuality and sheer authority (that both artists possess) mingles with unconventional and drug-like mixes- strange sounds mingle with hard and pummeling moments; softer and layered beats- a cornucopia of sound.  Sometimes fragile; always singular- FKA twigs’ debut is seen as one of the finest creations of this year.  Princess Nyah has her own blend and brand of this consideration- a unique and insatiable cocktail that enriches the ears and takes the breath.  Princess Nyah’s urban beats and street flavours are a hypnotic proposition that seamlessly fuse with sweeter and more melodic Pop strands- an artist that has the innovation, intrigue and potential of FKA twigs.  If the potential Mercury Prize-winning artist has shown anything, it is that expanding the palette; subverting expectations; going beyond what is normal- that is what the audience is looking for.  Two other acts that have made a mark on Princess Nyah are Estelle and Neneh Cherry.  The former is a London superstar that has been influencing waves of Soul, Hip-Hop and Urban artists.  If we look at Estelle’s 2012 album All of Me- it remains one of her strongest and more assured efforts.  Critics noted how the feel-good factor (of the songs) was balanced with powerful mandates and lush love songs- gruff and edgy moments nestled in the mix.  Princess Nyah instills all of her work with contrasting emotions and strong statements; catchy melodies and effervescent grooves.  Our heroine presents smart, evolving and head-smart jams that have plenty of tongue and bite.  What All of Me contained was music with transatlantic appeal; sounds that could appeal to the U.S. (as much as the U.K.)- songs with plenty of potential to win over legions of different listeners and fans- Princess Nyah has that same talent.  Songs like Champion have an American voice; they are not just confined to London clubs and our shores- there is a distinct possibility Princess Nyah could well be a future fixture in the U.S.  Neneh Cherry is an idol (of our heroine’s).  Cherry’s latest album- Blank Project- was lauded for its stark sound and big ideas- bracing and emotionally vulnerable (at every turn); confessional and honest.  The scuzziness and fuzziness- Cherry throws in- is met with startling results; her Beat-style poetry and unconventional melodies are rare indeed- the high assault of rhythms and percussions does most of the talking.  Demons, confrontations and lovelorn confessions have seen Cherry gain new respect and pan- her inimitable soft vocals have broken many new hearts.  Princess Nyah mixes koans and ruminations with rebellious treaties and sharp proclamations.  Princess Nyah shares Cherry’s usage of baleful and agitated words with angst-ridden beats and electronic whirlpools- to elicit the sound of rousing and immerse sounds.  Both put anxiety themes and broken dreams near the front; the songs that look at ill-suited boys and losers- the mixture of subjects and layers is incredible.  Neneh Cherry’s riveting and spellbinding music has had an effect on our young heroine- she has managed to distill (Cherry’s) magic and mystique into her own original and enlivening songs.  The final comparable act- I will draw alongside Princess Nyah- is Foxy Brown.  The New York Rap star may not be the first name one would think of (when listening to our star), yet she has had an impact- the two have some similar shades.  Whilst Foxy Brown has not released material for many years- and has received mixed reviews throughout her career- her album Ill Na Na (released in 1996) remains her high-point.  The sexy and assured deliveries (throughout the album) were granted a distinct edge- thanks to some incredible production values.  The charisma Foxy Brown gave the album; her sleek and contemporary stylings captivated many critics- impressed by her sheer vitality and alluring attraction.  Princess Nyah has more quality in her locker; she instills Foxy Brown’s sprinklings of sass, sexiness and scintillation- whilst injecting the mixture with her own British voice and identity.  There are few artists that come to mind- when listening to Princess Nyah- so it makes it hard to bring names to the party.  If you are a fan of any of the above, you will find some familiar and similar sounds;  recognisable and classic edges- look beyond.  Whilst our heroine has her best days ahead (and still has not really hit her peak) her growing reputation and confidence will see her go far- she is getting stronger with every new release.  In a music industry that is overcrowded and tightly packed, there are few that stand out; try to distinguish themselves apart- Princess Nyah has signs of huge potential.  Able to engage with listeners; throw together multiple genres and avenues- wrap it around her stunning voice- and you get something quite special.  It is a sound that is likely to expand and galvanise over the years- on her current evidence, she is likely to inspire a host of up-and-coming female singers and artists.

Hard, distorted and low-down vocals open up Champion.  Lasting only a few seconds, they give way to some brief and brutal beats- it tees the song up and welcomes in the mood.  Sounding a little like Rockafella Skank, the vocal-beat combination is an urgent and pressing sensation- making sure the audience is suitably knocked back.  Scratched electronics and a female vocal- stuttered and jumping- mixes with the foreground to provide some lightness and sense of relief.  It is an introduction that differs from most Dance/Hip-Hop tracks- there is a definite sense of primacy and mixed emotion; that unexpectedness means the song is an instant catch- before Princess Nyah has stepped up, you are hooked in.  Presenting a vocal that has a Reggae vibe and laid-back chill, our heroine can see the fear “in his eyes”- speaking to an unnamed hero, the words are presented with a sense of detachment and aloofness; there seems to be no sense of accusation, sympathy or support.  Our heroine lets her voice slink, seduce and conspire- she lays in her story and builds up the sense of intrigue and promise.  Juicy hips and lips are wound in; swaggering electronics (and beats) slither forth- Princess Nyah is never seen when she perspires.  Backed by that infectious composition, our heroine sounds confident and wholly in control- her soulful and impassioned delivery lets her words hit the mark.  Aiming at her subject- and the audience in general- her name is (already inside him); she wants her name chanted and screamed- there is a mixture of sexualised allure and musical ambition.  Nobody is immune from the swaggering and tempting rhythms; the sensuality and beauty of the heroine- that dangerous and indelible concoction is a hard potion to refute.  Champion lays out its stall quite early; getting down to business and riding the crest of a wave.  Her mandate is being sent out- she asks why (he) couldn’t hear her coming.  Such is the potency and projection of her music; the boldness and strength of her personality- it is hard to ignore the heroine.  Princess Nyah mingles simplicity alongside complexity- the words have a straightforward and direct approach; the music is more layered and intricate.  The beats and electronics may seem one-dimensional and forcedful, yet have layered and nuanced qualities- you can hear a lot of work has been expended to ensure they hit with as much resonance as is possible.  The listener pictures scenes and images- that endless mix of sweat-inducing sexuality and music directness tangle with one another.  Laying down her factory of majestic sounds, Nyah has a sense of cockiness and stunning self-assuredness.  Her music, beauty and name are those that cannot be overlooked or forgotten- speaking to her boy, the huge trip and stagger is that which aims for the bones and soul.  Presenting the same sort of feminine strength and confidence the likes of Beyoncé would be proud of, our heroine is the champion- she always wins the fight, whether it is in the studio or in love.  As one half of your brain is mesmerised by the tribal beats; the Dance-cum-Hip-Hop electronics; the other half is grabbed by the stylish and even-flow of the delivery- the striking images and confident proclamations.  As the song progresses, there seems to be a battle forming- a showdown and personal game of cat-and-mouse.  Nyah (can hear her subject’s) heart beat; that rushed flow of blood- as the scenes take us to the club floor.  Trying to take on and better our heroine, one false move and that will be that- she is ready to strike.  The double-meaning nature of the song always keeps it compelling and open.  One part of you imagines a seduction and chase; the heroine on top and getting her man- owning the night and calling the shots.  The passion, sweat and allure (of the vocals) puts those thoughts in your brain.  The hardcore and effusive sounds being laid down engage your brain towards themes of music-making; the fact no one will match the potency and quality of Princess Nyah- pretenders and fools step up; only to be swiftly dispatched.  The vocal delivery is one of the most stunning facets of the song.  That delivery- mixing Reggae temperament and coolness with Urban-inspired bruise and force- is a gleaming and shining jewel; a distinct and confident sound that adds meaning and urgency to all of the lyrics.  Few other artists have quite that same style and sound; that ease to cross and splice genres- whilst retaining a very focused and stunning central sound.  Backing vocals- by our heroine- look at “reservoir dogs” and those without love; Nyah has no time for the fakers, posers and players- she has her mind set and knows exactly what she wants.  The champion of the music scene; the fighting spoils of romance; whatever she damn well pleases- try and stop her if you can!  Mixing in sounds of classic-day Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child with modern-day Hip-Hop beats- that blend is sure to draw in a host of new fans.  Having a lot of respect for the best Destiny’s Child had to offer- that confidence, quality and unending sense of pride and focus.  The band did not just focus on aimless Pop and self-absorbed subjects- they spoke to a generation of women and listeners; provided solace, inspiration and motivation.  Although Princes Nyah has a more inward and personal drive (on this track), she has an equally potent voice- Champion is a statement that is intended to inspire as well as catch the imagination.  Among the braggadocio and lustful swagger, there is plenty of thought-provoking lines- images and words listeners can vicariously take on.  The central message and theme is “say my name”- our heroine wants it chanted by the masses; screamed and cried out (as a lover would).  Perhaps my interpretation- about the boudoir and lust may be off the mark- but it is hard to overlook that libidinous and sexualised punch- the stunningly pressing beats do little to quell these thoughts and interpretations.    Towards the closing moments, those initial stuttered vocals blend with staccato beats and punctuated slams- the lead vocal subsides and that central mandate interjects (with new meaning and unending confidence).  When the final moments start to die down, the listener is overawed by the weight of determination and drive- the pace and consistency never drops at all.  Marrying the luster and quality of the Estelles, Beyoncés and Neneh Cherrys of the world- our heroine proves herself to be one of the most vital and engaging voices on the music scene.  Champion shows just what a future she has: it is her strongest cut and could lead to some wonderful possibilities.  Growing with every new release, I would love to hear more Champion-esque jams; those songs that are rife with self-direction and confident.  Nyah has also showed she has a tender side; can master social commentary and wit- her palette is vibrant, diverse and endless.  This means 2015 could well see (this sense of range) parlay into an L.P.- a dizzying cut that could match the like of LP1 (from FKA twigs); bag a Mercury nomination, no less.

Having assessed a fair share of Urban/Hip-Hop artists; Rap stars and Dance idols- they always provide something different and unique.  Indie bands have evolved from Monkeys; devolved into flunkies of the Arctic warriors- the original intentions and unique riffs seem to be left at the door; everybody wants to be Alex Turner.  That is fine if you are Alex Turner; if you aren’t then it sounds desperate and devoid (of uniqueness).  Practically every new Rock or Indie band has too much the whiff of copycat- the boys and girls do not offer anything new or truly distinct.  When you go underground and dig deeper, you can find something wonderfully different and bold.  After reviewing the likes of RKZ, Kate Tempest (a Mercury nominee); The Emsee and the like- for every new experience comes something stunning and compelling.  The greatest potential (for music) lies in Hip-Hop, Rap and Dance endeavours- the artist here seem to be more pioneering and impressive.  Not relying on guitar riffs and woe-is-me tales, they are free to expand their mind and do things differently.  Princess Nyah- having been inspired by some wonderful musicians- caught onto this from a young age.  Her earliest cuts pushed away from convention and expectation- the flavours and sounds caught critics and listeners by surprise.  Having amassed a wealth of social media followers; it is clear her music is making impressions- not hard to see why.  Champion has elements of some of her past work- the stories of personal drive and ambition; the feminine confidence; the ability to own anything she wants.  Inspired by her idols and musical heroines, Nyah has ensured she throws her hat into the ring- marking her out as an empowered and inspirational figure.  Although the strongest songs detach themselves from arenas of the personal and bold- Princess Nyah manages to make (these ideals) sound gripping and original.  Her latest slice is an authoritative and stunning blend of sounds, lyrics and vocals- a song that is as complex as it is simplistic.  Making sure her words can be understood, quoted and chanted- that directness and confidence are easily extrapolated and absorbed.  The music is a more complex and layered beast; the sounds mix vibrant and hardcore with melodic and sweet-natured- ensuring the track stands up to repeated listens.  From the very first moments, you are hooked-in and compelled- few listeners will be immune to the charms and mesmeric grip of Champion.  It is Princess Nyah’s voice that shouts the loudest.  Able to blend concoctions of island vibes; Reggae seduction with Pop-inspired sweetness- it can then transform into an explosion of Urban grit and Hip-Hop trip.  Few singers tend to mutate and stretch their voice; bring in and unite multiple genres- meaning their songs can sound too flat and predictable.  Nyah manages to whip up a frenzy of emotion and styles- a singer that understands the importance of range and projection.  I was seduced by the calmed and laid-back moments; struck by the bold and stabbed drives- the vocals twist and turns like a suburban viper.  All of Champion’s winning fight is achieved by some exceptional production values.  Too many Dance songs tend to be too cluttered and busy; notes and vocals get buried under one another- meaning clarity and decipherability is seriously lacking.  Here, there is none of that occurring- all of the notes and utterances are crisp and polished.  The shining and gleaming production allows Princess Nyah free reign- her effective words are sharp; the vocals clear and direct- nothing gets lost or passed-by.  If you are a fan of Hip-Hop and Dance, you will find a lot to recommend (within Champion) – it is a song that melts the ‘90s legends with modern-day examples.  Pop fans will appreciate the softer and more melodic elements; there are Reggae-flavoured vocal vibes happening- some elements of ‘90s Trip-Hop too.  Rock and Indie acolytes will appreciate the hard and hitting beats; the confident and emphatic deliveries- same goes for lovers of Punk, Grunge and Alternative.  Able to unite and temp followers of multiple genres, it means Princess Nyah will gain some new followers for sure- if she keeps this pace up, awards and acclaim will coming to her.  Perfect for sunny days when you are driving down an open highway; the late-night dancefloors and clubs- Champion is the queen (and king) of every location it dares to adorn.

Around and inside of the masses of same-sounding bands; the heaps of disappointing and generic solo acts- few linger within the gaps.  Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to discover some terrific distinct acts- artists that have something different to their sound.  Too many musicians come into music with little regard for distinguishing themselves; overall projections that do not stick in the memory- those that aim high are the ones that should be preserved.  I have seen too many great artists- in music and film- that have abandoned their dreams- found the pressure of expectations too much to bear.  Every heartbreaking story (like this) makes me sad and angry- it is unfair that so many terrific humans are forced to relinquish their focus and highest thought.  Being ‘normal’ and ‘human’ is very boring and irritating- what’s the point of being like everyone else?  Working routine and average jobs; workaday thoughts and hopes- it is a horrible waste of existence I have no intention of becoming embroiled in.   I fear these people- that have to give up on their dreams- may slip into beige trousers; breed and brood- becoming that must horrible and predictable sort of human.  In so much as I try to reassess their mindset- assuage my own guilt and annoyance- I am keen on promoting the most fervent and dedicated musicians.  Prince Nyah has some growing and developing to do- she shows signs that she will be a huge future star.  The way she has grown and developed- between releases- hints at mesmerising and exciting future trajectory-2015 Is sure to see the young talent do big business.  Champion is a big statement from one of the nation’s boldest and most impressive Dance/Hip-Hop artists.  Her vocals and deliveries are fresh and alive; the lyrics and scenes stunning and evocative- her passion and urgency are endlessly gripping.  In the current climate, it is vital- as much as any time- to ensure we give breathing space to the different and promising- eliminate those that aimlessly wander and soullessly chatter.  Princess Nyah is likely to be a festival stalwart of the future; set her sights abroad- rock the likes of the U.S. and Canada.  Having her mind set in multiple arenas; charitable endeavours and business realms- it is clear there are few as ambitious and hard-working as her.  Champion points at a tantalising next few months- maybe an E.P. or album will be on the horizon?  Give her previous output- her E.P.s and singles- it will not be too long until something full and authoritative is dropped- another insight into the mind of the young heroine.  Before I sign off another review, it is worth looking at the solo market- the hardest of all the music arenas.  I get how difficult it is to succeed and grow- most (solo acts) have such big aims, it can be hard to realise them.  It sucks that a lot of terrific artists have to bow out- accept that they may never get to where they want to go.  Music is an impossibly hard industry to crack- like most in the entertainment industry.  Being on your own means having to assimilate huge responsibility and burden- having nobody to help lighten the load.  It is worth sticking around; making plans and taking things as they come- the rewards can be phenomenal.  If I have learnt anything, it is that there are too many fakes and posers (in music); few that offer substance and inspiration- the small percentage that do are deserve to go a long way.  Princess Nyah has an edge over her contemporaries and genre peers- her original blends and concoctions are a refreshing sea change (to the usual miasma and greyness).  Hip-Hop and Dance are styles of music coming back in vogue- starting to see some wonderfully inventive examples come to the fore.  The way (the very finest) mix beats, sounds and emotions is tremendous; that passion and flair can result in big bangs- seismic shifts that stick in the mind and resonate in the heart.  Prince Nyah is the case study of a young woman who has realised her dreams and goals- raised from hard beginnings to achieve something spectacular.  Not some pissing nauseating X-Factor sob story; a whiney cretin wailing about some relative popping their clogs- she is a real artist doing things honestly with no motives of fame and crass fortunes.  That reality and honesty is reflected in her music; the way she evolves and develops her craft- a striking voice that is always growing and developing.  Champion is a stunning slice that should see more fans and ears come in; a tight and memorable number that puts you in a better frame of mind- the public will want to hear more (from her).  Whether this (forthcoming) success translates into an L.P., E.P. or additional single, I am not sure- it is clear 2015 will see a lot of movement and mobility (from Princess Nyah).  With this year starting to fade and die out, we all are looking towards the future- what sort of music will be celebrated and promoted.  If Princess Nyah continues on her assault course, it is likely she will be a big fixture throughout 2015.  If her colleagues and fellow musicians decide to follow this example; aim high and provide (the eager public) with something different and unique, then the overall music landscape will improve and flourish.  Let us hope this sensation and evolution does happen.  Because if it does…

THAT is likely to be a great year indeed.

About the Author:

http://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/about/

 

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Follow Princess Nyah:

 

Official:

http://www.princessnyah.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/princessnyahofficial

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/princessnyah

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/princessnyah

Last F.M.:

http://www.last.fm/music/Princess+Nyah

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For gig dates visit:

http://www.reverbnation.com/page_object/page_object_bio/artist_1038678

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Princess Nyah’s music available at:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/princess-nyah/id411620181

Princess Nyah - Do What I Want

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Princess Nyah videos can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKBfEjtsFFBMlM8VlNEyMjQ

E.P. Review: Bear VS. Rhino- Vulture Song

E.P. REVIEW:

Bear VS. Rhino

 

Vulture Song 

9.0/10.0

 

Vulture Song is available via:

http://bearvsrhino.bandcamp.com/

TRACK LISTING:

Beck up, Back up- 8.8/10.0

Milli80seconds:publicist- 9.2

A letter to my brother and sister, fuck him, he doesn’t know what paracetmol is- 9.2

If it looks dead and it smells dead, it’s probably fucking dead- 9.1

Daisychain- 9.0

STANDOUT CUT:

Milli80seconds:publicist

DOWNLOAD:

Milli80seconds:publicist; A letter to my brother and sister, fuck him, he doesn’t know what paracetmol is; If it looks dead and it smells dead, it’s probably fucking dead

RELEASED:

13 July, 2014 

VULTURE SONG WAS WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY:

 Bear VS. Rhino 

BEAR VS. RHINO ARE:

 Carlo

Bass + Vox

Dan

Drums

Markus

Guitar + Vox 

MIXED AND MASTERED BY:

 Daniel Mills

ARTWORK BY:

 NJX

GENRES:

Alternative, Hardcore

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Ensuring London’s music remains some of the U.K.’s finest, Bear VS. Rhino provide a scintillating and memorable E.P.  Vulture Song is an attacking bird of prey- it picks at the bones and hovers with menacing intent.  For those bridling at the thought of ‘just another Hardcore/Alternative band’, have faith- these boys provide plenty of wit, heart and composure.  Capable of exciting future festival stages, they are a band who do not linger in the shadows; they rule in the spotlight

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 HAVING experienced a technological comeback worthy of Lazarus…

I am unexpectedly back reviewing- much sooner than I would have predicted.  This eventuality has trained my mind to the issue of benevolence and kindness.  In the coming weeks I am working with a stunning singer: an artist putting a band together that is a serious name to watch.  Having approached said singer- I will not reveal her name as to jinx any future movements- complimenting her voice and artistry, she approached me with an intriguing possibility: the chance to manage her career and help her with her first steps.  It is always great to see eager young musicians come through; inspired and rallied by support and patronage- reaching out and embracing.  Embarking on new possibilities and excitement, I am looking forward to getting stuck in- putting together plans and ideas for a wonderful new talent.  This may all sound ineloquent and off-topic, but it brings me around to music itself.  The artists that reach out and unite with fans- and potential supporters- are those that will merit the greatest acclaim and long-term respect.  In my capacity as reviewer- at the moment guerilla, part-time reviewer- it is terrific hearing bands and artists come to me- take the chance to write and promote their music.  Not sensing an easy chance for acclaim and ego-boosts, the musicians are keen for their music to be given an in-depth analysis and study.  For me, it provides opportunity to delve into new music and sensational sounds; discover acts that I would otherwise not hear of- help passionate and striking youngsters get their sounds heard by a wider audience.  This passion and reciprocity has inspired the music on show- the very best and most fervent are those that genuinely want to bring in the audience; take the trouble to get ears and eyes focused.  My featured act is throwing their hats into a pretty busy and colourful ring- one populated by a huge amount of competitors and performers.  Bear VS. Rhino promise all the battles, conflict and energy (their moniker suggests).  Critics have been setting their sights on their terrific endeavours; seeking out as much (of their) music as possible- the feedback and praise has been sensational.  Being a fairly new and sapling act, they are not getting too comfortable and assured- their latest E.P. suggests a band that are vital and endlessly passionate- the inventiveness and energy (they whip up) is as urgent and raw as any out there.  Before I introduce the band, it is worth looking back at the band market; looking at the variation and contrasts that are on offer- what the hungry and open-minded listener has to choose from.  Being in a unique position- where I have the chance to help promote and proffer a wonderful new act- I am looking out at the competition; the other newbies making their voices heard.  There are few genres unaccounted for: whatever your tastes, loves and proclivities- there is a musician out there for you.  Variations of shades of themes are recontoured and revised; the core sound tweaked and fiddled with- how much originality and surprise are we being given?  It is an interesting point that has no easy answer- the word ‘original’ is a fungible and ill-defined term.  To be truly original- and retain unimpeachable quality- is next-to-impossible- that does not mean you cannot be distinct and unique.  The bands and acts that stay with me the longest; resonate in the imagination- they are the ones that do not lazily cling onto predictable expectations.  Bear VS. Rhino are a vital group of lads that hit the jugular and provide immense force and style- music that strikes the heart and head.  Before I continue, let me introduced our featured act:

Hello we’re Bear VS Rhino. We’re an alternative hardcore rock band from London, a noisy 3 piece, with Markus and Carlo up front on bass, guitar and vocals, and Daniel behind on drums. We’ve being going for about 18 months, cultivating our own sound, an interesting blend of sound which we love, for fans of Rueben, Deftones, Biffy Clyro, Code Orange Kids, mayors of Miyazaki and the Melvins. But how did all this come to be, I hear you ask.  Bear VS Rhino started after Markus decided he’d had enough of being a solo folk artist. Markus met Nico, Markus and Nico clicked, Nico introduced Carlo, who is awesome, if not a Japanese bass playing lesbian. Nico decided London sucked and moved away to become a farmer. Before Nico left, Bear VS Rhino recorded their first EP, Fake, Fake, Fake, and the single Goddamn Motherfucking Panda Bear and perform their first and last show with Nico at Nambucca on Holloway Road which is now gone.  Bear VS Rhino needed a drummer, so we borrowed Ed for Johnny can’t dance (RIP) and Dom from Boston Departure Lounge ( now back up and running) before Daniel joined and played the Miller in London bridge, the first gig in this current line-up of Bear VS Rhino and now we reside in a shipping container in Aldgate East where we rehearse, write and sweat, mainly sweat. The band are taking their noisy brand of alternative rock metal ruckus around London, playing everywhere from The Finsbury to the 12 bar to the New Cross Inn to O2 Academy, playing their cotton socks off and becoming the best gosh darn band they can. All of which has lead to this, Vulture song, the next EP to be released by Bear VS Rhino. We hope you dig you lucky motherfuckers.”

Not too many acts are presenting Hardcore and Alternative hardness- going out on a limb and trying to take the breath away.  It is a hard mixture to cement; not obviously the most melodic blend of sounds, many can be put off from the start- that is not to say every act (who play this type of music) are divisive.  Bear VS. Rhino may have bonkers and pretty silly song titles, but it is part of their charm and humour- if you want traditional and normal, then you may have to go elsewhere.  They are pretty down-to-earth and likeable- a group that want to connect with as many people as they can.  In an industry where there is too much safety and expected movements, it is nice to hear a band break away from the mould- offer music that is distinctly theirs; hard to compare with anyone else.  Their E.P. Vulture Song is one of the most scintillating and electrifying of the moment; it has resonated hard with reviewers and fans- all entranced by the strange beauty and vitriolic potency.  The next few months will see us end 2014: looks ahead to the next year and what it has in store.  It is hard to predict the bands and acts that will be embraced- there seems to be so much diversity and inconsistency (I am stumped really).  In my opinion, the best music of 2015 will be that which breaks away from the mainstream mediocrity- showcases inventiveness and personality of the highest distinction.  Bear VS. Rhino certainly have their own voice; songs that will stick in the memory- projections that are hard to ignore and shake off.  They are gathering great pace and praise at the moment; their E.P. is garnering some tremendous respect and feedback- it is not hard to see why.  Even if you are not a fan of the Hardcore genre, you will find much to recommend- the boys provide ample passion melody and depth.  Given all of this- and my conversations with the band- I was eager to investigate Vulture Song- see just what the intrepid.  The results are certainly impressive; the songs sit inside your brain and cling on- they are a young act that has serious intentions indeed.

It is worth looking back at Bear VS. Rhino’s early movements.  Their E.P. Fake Fake Fake dropped in May 2013- the first chance for the public to witness the band’s studio cuts.  More restrained and less ambitious than current works, they marked impressive beginning.  Useless possesses soft beginnings; it is quite funky and seductive.  The vocal performance is louche and sexualized- mixing in some Jim Morrison mixed with Ian Drury.  As the composition builds and builds (bit by bit), the track gains momentum and energy- the percussion is heavy and rumbling.   Electric scream comes in (and starts to become more demented).  The song is a bit of a tease in that it never explodes or catches fire- the lines and elements are all kept in check.  The track remains a concrete and gripping number that showcases a unique and distinct band.  Linseed Oil is a smooth and gentle thing.  Distinct accents and evocative lyrics stand the track to attention.  With the bass coming in to steal some of the honours, the song has humour and cutting-edge remarks.  Matching slurred and masculine vocals into their palette, the boys present another take on their distinct artistry.  GDMF Panda Bear came along in August 2013- it saw the boys notch up the volume and crank up the offensive.  Whereas their debut E.P. seems a little safe; not willing to let the lungs reach out and rapture- here there was development for sure.  Harder and more biting; the necessary edge and grit is all present.  Compositional tones are more Punk-edged and ecstatic; the London trio started to make a real mark.  I would say their current offerings are their strongest yet.  While their early material has promise and potential, their full Hardcore potential was not realised- on a few numbers they sounded too limited and honed-in.  Although Vulture Song has some berserk and peculiar moments, it is honed and focused- the lads have ensured every song remains tight and sensible.  Whereas a lot of Hardcore bands are as predictable and ambitious as crap, Bear VS. Rhino inject something unique into the genre- it is much-needed given the slew of banal and pointless examples.  Not all of their moments are feral and carnivorous- in fact they present more passion and composure (into the E.P.) than anything else.  The band has not compromised any of their ethics and reputations- they have simply improved their music and developed with necessary (and pleasing) aplomb.  Given their rate of growth and mutation, it is clear they will be making some serious moves in the future.  Vulture Song is a hugely impressive work- yet I feel Bear VS. Rhino have not hit their peak yet.  Among the stunning mandates are some rough edges and loose moments- things that can be tightened and improved on their next release.  Saying that, they do not need be to tell them how good they are- the wave of adulation that has come in (for Vulture Song) has been staggering.  There is plenty in their armoury to set them aside from their peers- ensure that few listeners will ignore their freshest movements.  With elements and hints of their heroes- including Biffy Clyro- the London boys are on a charge- determined to nestle with the finest musicians of 2015.  It is clear the trio have a very distinct way of working; a sound and sense of direction that incorporates a number of different bands- very much based around their ideals and styles.  It will be great to see what Bear VS. Rhino have to offer in the coming year- whether they keep improving the quality; stick with the sounds of Vulture Song; ramp up the volume and intensity even further.  Who knows, hey?  It is great to hear them sound more alive and vital (than their tender days); the confidence has increased and multiplied- the performances are tighter and more fascinating; layered and nuanced.

When it comes to finding like-minded acts- that have inspired Bear VS. Rhino- there are a few that come to mind.  Rueben are a band that has compelled the London trio.  In Nothing We Trust (is the best album comparison). The band has not garnered a lot of critical praise and reviews- their early work was largely overlooked by larger publications.  Their 2007 work was seen as a damning rebuke- a glorious swansong.  The music- on the album- broke new ground for the band; they ensure song structure and proficiency is as high as possible- considerations that were missed from their early work.  Whilst sapling work stuck with rigid formats and simplistic arrangements, it was on In Nothing We Trust the band started to experiment and expand- lengthening tracks and becoming more musically ambitious.  The trademark aggressive remained intact and firm; the band augmented the force and rabble with some excellent and captivating vocal harmonies- offering something softer and more melodic.  Anger and loss sat with themes of sadness and dislocation- quite new ground for Rueben.  Bear VS. Rhino instill these contradictions and qualities into their music- they have managed to ensure Vulture Song is rife with emotional balance and surprises; plenty of structure and surprise- that sense of engagement and drama.  In Nothing We Trust saw lyrically maturity come into effect: the band sounded more responsible and grown up; aware of the need to step up their game- whilst keeping their solid and pulverising foundations complete.  Moving on from their Hardcore one-dimensional releases of old, the U.K. kings provided something more experimental and refreshing- it was an album critics could not really overlook.  Each band member came into their own- the percussion and bass really stood out.  Fuzzy and compelling bass notes were only matched by primal and ecstatic drumming- the band never sounded tighter or more determined.  Like the lads of Rueben, our boys have some similar qualities.  The lyrics (from both bands) ae tongue-in-cheek and humorous; dealing with drunken nights and youthful endeavours.  The words hit the mark and do not deviate; they are to-the-point and direct- lodging in your mind.  Backed by vocal screams- that are enlivening and hugely atmospheric- full-bodied during attacking moments; quiet and reserved during more emotional codas.  Deftones are a band that has propelled Bear VS. Rhino- and with good reason.  The first Deftones album I will introduce- as a comparable piece- is Around the Fur.  That album was lauded for its incredible drive and hardened assaults.  Rawer and more demented (than their debut), the album saw insatiable drum work marry with metallic guitars.  It was a sophomore album that suggested the band has phenomenal potential- even if they lacked necessary hooks and a fully-fledged sound.  The music and lyrics- from that album- looked and inner depression and personal doubts.  Quite heavy and hard themes were explored; the performances were raw and upfront- that redemptive spirit always managed to break through.  Following on from their triumphant effort, The Deftones developed and galvanised- their self-titled album marks one of their career high-points.  The 2003 album saw the boys become more experimental and abstract.  The lyrics were particularly abstract and unusual; the musicianship of the highest order- few were expecting such a stunning album.  The heaviness was all back and (stronger than ever)- Metal was flagging in this period; the band ensured their new material was original and groundbreaking.  Their self-titled cut opened with huge strikes and a determined sense of purpose- that endless grip and heaviness was hard to ignore.  Over the course of tracks the album built in more depth and diversity- coming across as more fully-rounded (than earlier cuts).  The American Alt.-Rock outfit is still around and inspiring young bands- it is their sheer passion and unparalleled destruction that excited and invigorates new musicians.  Bear VS. Rhino have been captured by this; their music ties in those mixtures of quiet and loud; the music they pen has that same stylistic flair and sound- you can definitely hear embers of the U.S. legends.  Biffy Clyro are a band that have intrigued and inspired Bear VS. Rhino.  If comparing a couple (of Biffy’s albums) to our boys, Only Revolutions is the first (that comes to mind).  That album signaled a high-point for the Scottish band- one of their late-career gems.  Commercial accessibility mingled with earnestness and huge anthemics- the band upped their game and drew in a lot of new fans.  Primed for radio- but possessed of seriousness- the band turned in a massive and bold L.P.  Sinister Biffy’ threw orchestral grandeur with hard screams and unabated noise- there was not a huge amount of cohesiveness.  Tracks did not always join together well; there was plenty of sloppiness- it did not seem to put off critics and fans.  The wide net was cast to appeal to populist demands; the band mixed ebb-and-flow with balls-to-the-wall bombast- a lot of reviewers praised the album as an all-out classic.  The short and concise songs looked at progressive elements and developments- the boys threw in catchy hooks and plenty of memorable tunes.  Ear-pleasing choruses, juddering guitars and scintillating guitars sat with sharp dynamics and plenty of risk- resulting in an album that remains their finest.  Opposites was released last year- the last Biffy Clyro album- and was seen as a natural development from Only Revolutions.  Serenity and huge intentions sat with one another; jagged edges and beautiful luster- the album shifted styles and sensations (as it progressed).  Expansive and mood-twisting it remains a hugely impressive work- something that has pushed Bear VS. Rhino.  Our boys have a concision and tightness; they match moods and themes- shifting between primal rushes to more composed introspections.  Opposites saw Metal-infused arrangements take in elements of ‘70s masters; dichotomous moments mixed with anthemic staggers- the boys sparred complex hooks with intricate melodies.  Our London trio have that sense of adventurousness and ambitions; they take in the finest elements of Biffy- expanding it in another direction; something more byzantine, hard and unique.  Code Orange Kids have made a mark on the Bear’ boys.  The U.S. Metalcore newbies made huge strides with their debut album- Love Is Love/Return to Dust.  The thunderous Hardcore insanity of the album had little chance for softness and light- yet some of its final moments resonated in the mind.  Calm/Breathe was a relaxed and soothing diamond that marked a great relief and necessity- it was the rest bite and light after primal darkness.  Tar-thick rebellious guitars screamed macho ambitions- on their latest album the American kids are trying to sound all grown up.  Colourful shades and variegated diversions come out (through I Am King); there was a sense of difference and ambition.  In a scene and genre that is ruled by convention and predictability, Code Orange (as they were renamed) went beyond the envelope- did something different and introduced new sounds and maneuvers.  Bear VS. Rhino instill the same sort of cave-dwelling tribal bursts; the neophyte raggedness and lust- unbearable tension and pressure.  At the end of their E.P., you get the same reaction (you do when listening to Agent Orange)- the breath has been clean taken away.  Mayors of Miyazaki and The Melvins are acts that have had an impression on Bear VS. Rhino.  The former’s vital blends of Math-Rock and Hardcore and melodic.  The male-female vocals and combinations have airs of Blood Red Shoes- indeed the London three-piece have remarkable similarities with Bear’.  Openness and honesty rules the sounds (of Mayors’); they ensure every guitar line shimmers and captivates- those incredible vocal performances stick in the imagination.  The Melvins’ have had a long and illustrious career- their vital sounds have helped to mold the London trio.  The bizarre and wonderful song titles (from The Melvins)- Sesame Street Meat and Exact Paperbacks- were only topped by the exhilarating and scintillating music.  Herky-jerky flails and epic fun (go into The Melvins’ best moments)- the band are synonymous with head-pounding and bone-shifting smashes.  Our Bear VS. Rhino trio have that same flair- for odd riffs and wonderful energy- and offer their own take.  It is the wonderfully odd/stupid song titles- The Melvins have made an art form out of- that our London boys share- they seem constitutionally incapable of offering a title with personal pronouns and subtlety.  Perhaps that stands the band aside; means they are more intriguing and interesting- it certainly does not make them boring.  All of these bands have played their part; molded the lads- you will find a little of each (with Vulture Song).  For the best results; the most complete and reliable overview- take other acts from your mind; assess the band on their own merits and personalities.  In spite of my reflexive pronoun usage- tut, tut- influence and inspiration is important- too many critics focus heavily on it.  Our trio is one of the most innovative and original around- meaning they cannot easily be compared with other artists.

Beck up, Back Up kicks off Vulture Song.  A combination of swaggering riff and punchy percussive beat swing the song in; it has a cool and leather-clad introduction.  Propelled by a louche and bristling start, the issues of vegetarianism and murder are brought in- the vocal presses and scrambles among the notes.  When the chorus comes into effect- first time- there is a “line in the sand”- our hero seems at his angriest and most fueled.  While quite a few of the choruses words lack complete decipherability and clarity- making it hard to extrapolate and understand lyrics- the chorus has more intelligibility.  Emphasis is on the mood and vocals; the combinations between the band members- that crunching and beast-like build-up.  This song- and these words- are “all about you”- a subject that is under close scrutiny; being given a good going-over.  There is a looseness and sense of rambunctiousness that puts me in mind of The Libertines- the same sort of sound and delivery that appeared on Up the Bracket.  In the same way Pete Doherty perfected that mix of drawl and sharpness, our hero lets his voice weave and stagger- idiosyncrasies and tics are added in to give the performance a sense of flair and individuality.  The contrast you get- between the chorus and verse- is quite stark.  The chorus is a darker rumble; a beastly growl that mixes concrete with chanted vocals- emphasizing the sense of danger and judgment.  The percussion and guitars spar and duel; caught in a mesh of heated emotions- they tangle and fight for glory.  Temporised and restrained- after a few seconds- the composition changes pace once more.  Bored thoughts, elongated vocals and “bubblegum” are levelled in and repeated- you can hear our frontman is building up for another assault.  Letting the vocal reach fever-pitch it screams and stretches- eliciting the most wracked moments so far.  The final moments of the song are a concoction of stumbling and rifled beats; driving and determined bass- backed with strong-armed guitar.  With a final throw of the dice, the band calm things down- ensures the closing notes are softer and calmed.  Wrapping things up elegantly and beautifully, Bear VS. Rhino ensure they kick off the E.P. with a triumphant cut.  Milli80seconds:publicist is one of the E.P.’s most bizarre and odd song titles- among several.  Not expecting what is to come, it is the bass which plucks and pushes from the front.  Mood and slow build lead the song into the spotlight.  You imagine scenes of Westerns or maybe a tense Indie flick- with the hero loading his gun and walking into the sun.  Rather than go for ballistic and instant strike, the band emphasise melody and emotion- allowing you to picture scenes and possibilities.  Sounding like a cross between Radiohead (Amnesiac-period) and Leonard Cohen, the boys start the offensive.  When our hero steps to the microphone, his voice is mixes between a controlled and low-down groan- before exploding into a feral and insane bellow.  Again, clarity is an issue for the track- it is hard to pick up a lot of the words and sentences.  As with the opening number, there is more attention to the sound and pace- that mixture of threads and detours.  The vocals swing between polarized emotions and band unity- backing vocals are introduced to add weight and tension.  Hard truths are investigated; our hero seems like he has a burden (on his mind)- paranoia and unease linger in the song.  Casting his eye to a particular subject, it seems (they) are on the brink and edge.  With vocals looking at “righteousness”; tripping and shouting; straight and loose- our man ensures his tones keep things fascinating and unpredictable.  Whilst the song’s subject falls to their knees blinded, the band increase the pace and volume.  The compositional elements are not as attacking and bellicose (as one would imagine); meaning you are given greater opportunity to decipher the lyrics; appreciate the core performance and hear the band in a new light- the track has a Punk-inspired sound.  Scratchy and frantic guitar strings give way to bouncing and taut bass- that blend of rushing and funk-laden is a heady brew.  Stepping into more restrained territory, our hero lets his voice skip and dance- it jumps and hops with energy and soul.  With (the song’s subject) “obscuring the view”, the delivery and pace puts me in mind of Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads)- you expect to hear David Byrne pop up any minute.  Towards the final seconds, the boys do not let the mood and intrigue slip- that sense of grip and fascination remains until the very end.  After Vulture Song’s finest cut, the lads need to keep the grip tight- A letter to my brother and sister, fuck him, he doesn’t know what paracetmol is possesses one of the most unwieldy and long titles ever.  Capturing you with its oddities and byzantine edges, it sounds almost like a lyric- the remnants of a verse or chorus.  Preparing your mind for something equally strange, the band go in fighting- the tense and focused guitar introduction stands you to attention.  Not hard and violent, it has a superb riff; a danceable and catchy sound.  The wolves are after (the little girl); circling her and coming close- the world is a big and scary place.  Getting things off to the races, the pace and drive is infectious- the boys unite instantly.  Tight and focused, the compositional coda is a throws in so many colours and twists- going from straight and direct; it weaves and snakes its pace without warning.  Catchy, uptight and graceful, the guitar notes get inside your head; the bass burrows in and keeps things level- the percussion splatters, smatters and punches forth.  The vocal performance has that inimitable quality- that drunken swagger the masculine growls; that sense of authority.  Coming off like an Ian Drury-cum-Tom Waits performance, the berserk and repeated mingle.  With walls closing in and coming into the fray, our hero lets his voice rap and spit; his repeated codas hit the mark- that infectious blend of Punk, Rap and Hardcore flourishes and explodes.  Without any warning shots, the vocal scratches and yelps; feasts and leaps- the shift is quite a dramatic one.  The band is up to the task as the overall sound tightens and becomes more dangerous.  Angular guitars mutate into assault weapons; the percussion is more defined and rampant; the bass sharpens its teeth marvelously.  Elements of groups like Sonic Youth appear briefly; the machine wreckage and breakdown is a sound that lingers and grows- ensuring the song builds in stature and meaning.  Keeping the listener, the boys ensure they do not miss a beat or step- notching up the offensive with borderline-arrogance.  The song’s subject is being given a talking-to; eviscerated and smacked-down- our hero’s voice is as urgent and insistent (than it has ever been).  Completing a glorious one-two, the Bear’ lads take the E.P. past the half-way mark- and leave the listener salivated and hooked.  If you thought the previous song has an odd title, then If it looks dead and it smells dead, it’s probably fucking dead is not far behind.  Making you smile- before a single note is laid-in- we have a short and violent burst.  The most overt Hardcore song on the set, it treads into Thrash-Metal territory- the vocal is as growled, graveled and animalistic as any I have heard.  Matching the seriousness and disturbed possibilities (of the title), you would not expect a Jazz-Rock swooner- the boys are in no mood for a vanilla latte (with soya milk and a dash of cinnamon).  The vocal attacks are not a consistent and merciless ting- they are uttered in short bursts; compositional punctuation then comes through.  Decipherability- once more- is a bit of an issue; hardly shocking given the sheer force and satanic rituals of the vocal.  I’m guessing scenes of hand-holding and carpet shopping are not being presented- you imagine something more morbid and interesting is afoot.  When the composition does take charge it sets up our frontman- who allows his voice to return to the land of the living; lighten slightly and regress to its previous state.  Presenting as much diversity, shift and change- as in any number- the band keep you on the edge of your seat- they pack a hell of a lot of rollercoaster into the ride.  Grotesque and macabre visions lead into wretched and rapturous vocals- perhaps not the song I would choose to have at my wedding.  Whilst a lot of Hardcore bands offer nothing but demented and blood-curdling screams, Bear VS. Rhino go deeper- making sure they provide melody, contrast and lyrical intrigue.  Not contented to slash your throat with a razor blade, the boys provide ample musicianship and depth- ensuring the song appeals to multiple listeners.  Perfect for stress-ridden times, the track is the perfect thing to thrash to- the mosh pit anthem that gets you moving and motivated.  Containing a strangely catchy and appealing chorus, the song almost makes you sing-along- how many Hardcore songs/bands do that so easily?  The sound of the rhino, bear and vulture feasting on one another, it is a trippy, intoxicating and drugged smoke that seeps into your brain- a lightning storm of biblical proportions.  Giving me plenty of inspiration for my own music, the trio has crafted a concise and memorable slam- a song that lasts a little over two minutes.  Taking Vulture Song to its conclusion- Daisychain has more positive and upbeat potential.  The grumbling and swaggering opening notes take your mind out of fields and arable scenes- we are back in the avenues of the violent and direct.  Lo-fi and raw, the song has plenty of menace and meat.  The percussion is particularly impressive- avalanching and rollicking with determination and grit.  Weaving and spiraling guitars blend with pulsing and rhythmic bass- the combination gives flair and potency to proceedings.  Our hero wants vengeance and blood- his voice is sharp and out for justice.  Propelled by his comrades, he is casting accusation and vitriol at a particular heroine- a “bitch” that seems to have caused a lot of strife and pain.  Whilst not as fascinating and developed as previous numbers, Daisychain acts as a marvelous and appropriate swansong- a track that leaves you wanting more.  Containing one of the most authoritative and urgent deliveries; our hero is at his most pissed-off and annoyed- in no mood to talk things through.  The final seconds (of the song) are as insistent and hypnotic as the first- meaning you are left intrigued and hooked.  The entire E.P. packs so much in; covers a lot of ground- surprises and inspires.  While some moments lack necessary intelligibility and focus, they are minor detractions- the abiding sensations is one of pleasant surprise.  That is not a bad thing: the boys have managed to supersede and subvert expectation- craft an E.P. that delivers at every turn; will appeal to masses of different music lovers.

It is great bands like Bear VS. Rhino exist.  Having progressed since their debut days, the trio has laid down a huge statement of intent- an E.P. that offers so much wealth and diversity.  If you read the term ‘Hardcore’- you may balk and assume the music will be awful.  It is true- a lot of the genre’s players- are sheer awfulness; the type that can make the ears bleed- that is not the case with our heroes.  Perhaps not quite at their very peak, Vulture Song is a packed, promising and passionate quintet of songs- nothing outstays its welcome; there are myriad incredible moments.  If you are captured by the imagination and the originality of the song titles- or are somewhat amused by their length and oddity- that may define your listening experience- the boys present wit, humour, directness and hard-hitting honesty.  There is profanity and accusation; enough aim and missile hit- nestling within genuine emotion and some reflectiveness.  I am not sure what the next year (will hold for the boys): whether they choose to release an E.P.; maybe put out a full-length album- may just present a couple of singles instead.  Their confidence and sense of togetherness has never been stronger- they are as assured and tight as they have ever been.  This passion and urgency means all of their tracks- on Vulture Song- will appear to multitudes of listeners- the tracks do not simply linger and shuffle awkwardly.  Classic albums- that have been celebrated as masterpieces- have never really hit me.  Having been listening (again) to Oasis’ album Definitely Maybe- I am finding myself bemused by its ‘legendary’ status.  Critics and fans have salivated over the L.P. (for twenty years now)- proclaiming it one of music’s finest albums.  Whilst I would be foolish to overlook the genius and staggering anthemic lift of Live Forever- none (of the album’s tracks) come close.  Laziness, boredom, uninspired lyrics are matched with samey compositions and whining vocals.  Plagiarism is another issue with Definitely Maybe- T-Rex are suitably ripped-off during Cigarettes and Alcohol- Noel Gallagher didn’t even bother to disguise his theft of Get It On (Bang a Gong).  In addition, The Beatles are stolen from- Noel Gallagher imagining himself as a reincarnated John Lennon figure- there is little original talent or ideas.  Critics are too eager to overblow and overhype mediocre and undeserving albums; hold aloft some truly terrible records- too many great bands and artists get overlooked.  Music in 2014 still suffers plagiaristic intentions and overinflated egos- too few musicians have a genuine uniqueness; few still have any sense of modesty and focus.  I am not suggesting we are in a desperate state- it is the fact music has suffered a dip in quality.  Beleaguered new acts are falling by the wayside; established artists are finding it hard to remain consistent- discovering something different and promising can be a very hard task.  Bear VS. Rhino have entered a genre that is defined by its limitations and weaknesses- adding something exciting and superb (to Hardcore’s annals).  The bearded infantry is one of the most vibrant and focused acts around.  The vocal work throughout Vulture Song is inspired and varied.  Our hero’s voice can go from a settled and contented croon to a full-bloodied scream- the sound of a fox roaming and screeching in the night’s cold climate.  Virile and staggering; composed and romantic- few other singers have such an immense amount of ammunition.  It is not just the range (of the vocal) that impresses- the way the voice mutates and shifts can be instantaneous and unpredictable.  Possessed of its own particular sound- few singers can claim to be original and incomparable- the listener is not reminded of other vocalists- giving them the chance to appreciate an incredible and honest talent.  The guitar work is consistently engaging and scintillating- at its most raptured it is an unabated weapon of destruction.  Nuanced and melodic (the one moment); riff-heavy and juddering the next- it then climbs and evolves into a blood-baying monster.  Most bands do not let their bass work shine and stand out- in fact, few acts are notable for their bass innovation and experimentation.  In Bear VS. Rhino, they have a superbly confident and invigorating player- someone with his own personality and way of working.  Capable of stealing focus, the bass strings have plenty of melody and passion, rhythm and fluidity- able to punch and swagger with fighting spoil.  Combining a range of sensations and personality traits, the bass acts as a strong pair of lungs- something about to shout support and make is voice known.  Not capable of fading into the background it drives the songs; keeps the heartbeat strong and alive- ensures there is plenty of contours and layers.  Percussion work manages to summon up a hell of a riot.  When more calmed and fastidious, the drum is able to intrigue and grip; when rising and building it is teasing and promising- when it explodes and erupts, few are immune from its stunning graces.  Primal and fierce; defined and structured- Bear’s percussion king is one of the most adept and mobile artists around; a stick smasher with a big future.  When the band unite and combine, they are at their strongest- the passion and understanding they share ensures all of their songs resonate and effect.  Constantly tight performances elevate the witty, angered and detailed songs- ensure those oblique song titles are not in-jokes, juvenile thoughts and angst-laden half-thoughts.  Each track is sharp and direct; never lingering and bloated- the music is sharp and chiseled.  The production values combine polish with raw meat- the songs sound live and first-hand whilst being clearly audible and defined.  No notes and vocals are buried deep or overly-gleaming- the mixture is perfect.  The boys have no intention of slowing or restricting themselves- they will be making music for many years to come.  With music capable of being festival favourites- not niche Metal festivals- the lads could be mixing it up with some modern-day legends (before too long).  Building and honing their sound- with each new release- they are on an upward trajectory- a projectile that is going to see them go from strength-to-strength.

The next few weeks will see me embark upon managerial preparations; plotting and planning; music video imagining- a whole host of different musical possibilities.  Reviewing bands and acts less frequently than normal- about one new artist a week- it has been good to step back a bit- my daily life is not so busy and rushed; I am able to step back and fully appreciate music.  One of the great things about new music- and my reviewing life- is the sheer range of sounds around.  Different acts have different personalities; no two are exactly the same- there is always something a little unique and individual.  Bear VS. Rhino have the band make-up and E.P. designs of the likes of Them Crooked Vultures and Queens of the Stone Age- in addition to some Grunge legends of the ‘80s and ‘90s.  In a way the boys share similar D.N.A.- they have the same gutsy and rampant primacy and overt passion.  Whereas the likes of Homme and Cobain have their own distinct styles- they share hypnotic personalities and potent songwriting.  Our heroes are making impressive strides; attempting to put their stamp on the music world. Perhaps their song titles are a bit long-winded and byzantine- that may put off some listeners.  It is clear their projections and force could knock the enamel from teeth- there is ample melody and restraint to be found.  It is never a great idea to judge any act on surface values and appearances- you have to investigate the music and draw conclusions from that.  Vulture Song is testament to the vibrant ambition and determination of our young stars- the ammunition and potential they have at their disposal. With a tongue and vocabulary- your mother might not approve of- the rambunctious and ragged London boys have a swaggering sense of pride and longing.  You can hear they want to achieve big things; their music speaks volumes- their sounds are direct and utterly gripping.  In a city that is growing in reputation; providing as much diversity and fascination as (any other location); it is not shocking to see another tremendous band come through- I am sure we will hear a lot more from the Bear VS. Rhino boys.  If we did pit these two terrifying and unsociable beats into battle, I am not sure which one would win- probably the Rhino by a shade- but there would be bloodshed and horror.  The noise, pandemonium and carnage would be eye-watering and memorable- that is the kind of festival and riot the London trio offer up.  Vulture Song has oblique and striking titles; plenty of oomph, panache and ruckus- a selection of songs that lodge inside your brain (and settle in for a long residency).  The music world needs more noise, pummel and fight- although not too much- so it is great to hear from the Bear’ lads.  Whatever the future holds for them, they are sure to tackle it with an unabashed and hardcore bite- I am sure the lads will be festival favourites in years to come.  Their rousing and primeval myriad concoctions are the sort to dispel fatigue and dishevelment- they can blow the cobwebs from a cloudy and confused mind.  The sheer infectiousness and memorability (of the music) is what lingers and compels- they are the sort of tracks that cannot be digested after a single listen.  This instance sense of nuance will stand the group in good stead- future cuts are likely to be just as addictive and layered.  I will leave with a thought about bands in general- what makes them tick; who we should be supporting.  I am sick and tired of hearing swathes of bands that seem naturally born to score teen dramas- the weepy and saccharine acoustic guitar-wielders that put the ‘I’ in ‘I’m tempted to commit suicide’- that kind of wainscot-rotting crap we can all do without.  I guess every musical animal has a place on the ark- bizarre and un-temporised market forces will always give certain acts a place and relevance.  I am a man and fan of heavier music; that which reaches down the trousers and has a good rummage- there are limits that must be put in place.  If the band- that offers this type of music- is vague and aimless- they can jog on.  Similarly, we do not need hordes of these groups coming through- at times we need some control, quiet and difference.  Bear VS. Rhino look to be making- their best moves- at just about the right times- laying down their philosophies at a juncture where there is a dip in overall quality.  New music is bubbling away nicely; throwing up plenty of distinction and range- the mainstream has let the hairline recede and the waistline expand.  For that reason, many ears and eyes are casting their attentions to newborn flavours- seeking out the best new music is popping out.  If you like your sounds and stylings a little bit on the rampant side, then check out Bear VS. Rhino.  If you like music that provides compendiums of lust, grace, emotion, humour and quality- attune yourself to the wealth of the London lads.  As much as anything, the trio provides a necessary escape through the Looking Glass- a way down a rabbit hole of unending fascination and multifarious trips.  You might find it- their music- a little bit off the realms of normality; a little disjointed and angered- you cannot deny the sheet vitality and purposefulness coming through.  Vulture Song is a brave and bold missive from one of London’s most compelling new bands.  In a landscape where the likes of Allusondrugs are making some great strides- their motifs of Nirvana-cum-Pearl Jam are exhilarating- it seems Bear VS. Rhino have definite leverage- they could well scoop the rusty crowns of Biffy Clyro.  With so many formerly- reputable bands starting to wane and fatigue, we need some new kings and queens- fresh blood to come along and kick the dust away.  A lot of Vulture Song was recorded in a basement- of a local wine and spirits gaff- and has that natural and sparse quality.  Back to basics; to the bone- the boys have that youthful rebellion comes out.  This passionate and unusual paradigm resulted in the lads recording vocals in a shipping container (in Aldgate, no less)!  This freewheelin’ and D.I.Y. musical approach has created a golden nugget- an E.P. that is clear to send intent shockwaves through music.  As I type, I am vibrating, singing (along in unison to) and swaggering to Supergrass- Going Out to be precise- completely intoxicated by its merriment, anthemic joys and sheer beauty- songs (and bands like this) come along seldom.  Bear VS. Bear may have transposed and reinterpreted Supergrass’ sense of bonhomie and vitality- the levels of intention and force are comparable- that unending electioneering and sense of campaign.  Give our London boys a trial; extend your thoughts and considerations to them- allow their brand of brilliance do its job.  When it all comes down to it…

 

BEING boring is a fucking awful fate.

 

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