The Voice: A Beautiful (and Underrated) Thing

The Voice:

 

A Beautiful (and Underrated) Thing

 

MUSIC is always on my mind…

something that is never going to relinquish its grip- this year has not provided (the strongest and most enduring sounds).  I have stepped away from reviewing for a number of reasons-tiredness is one of them.  Few new acts have caught my imagination; compelled me to listen hard- weariness and boredom have taken the place of surprise and fascination.  In addition to having a severe lack of free time, I am finding something worrying (happening in music): it is starting to decline.  A lot of times (when reviewing) I found my integrity hiding away- uneasy being critical to musicians (I felt deserved it).  Few bands and acts lingered in the memory and it has been fairly easy walking away- I hope 2015 provides to be more eventful, fruitful and imaginative.

One of the best things about music is the vocal- the voice(s) being the creations.  Talent and reality shows emphasise the voice- in a bad way.  The sorry and miserable excuse for singers (and humans) that litter these shows have distilled and clouded the potential of the voice- that magic essence that can elevate music (to rarefied and dizzy heights).  Most of my favourite new music (and most cherished classic music) is synonymous with terrific vocals- it doesn’t have to be showy and huge.  A great singer can turn a mediocre song into something special- just with the simplest of utterances.  Too many people get confused- thinking range and histrionics are the most important factors (when it comes to finding a tremendous voice).  Discount the likes of Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson (too singers with vast ranges) and you can find a lot of good- artists that can hook you and compel the senses.  Whether you prefer the graveled and animalistic tones of Tom Waits; the soulful hypnotism of Otis Redding- you don’t need a monumental (vocal range) to seduce and entrance.  Too many new musicians overlook the Importance of the vocal performance- the ability and necessity of getting into (the listener’s) consciousness.  Over the last year or two, singers like Sam Smith and Paolo Nutini have made their mark- buckled the knees with their inimitable and distinctive vocal prowess.

I am not saying that the voice is the most important thing- it just seems to be lacking (as-of-late).  Too many acts are concerned with cramming in noise and music- focusing on the sound alone.  Duos like Royal Blood have been lauded for their hard blends; 2014’s best and most profitable have been notable in their own way- how many unique voices have resonated in the mind?  I have a huge amount of respect for the likes of FKA twigs, Kate Tempest (and other Mercury-nominated wonders), but I have craved something singular- a vocal sound that is hard to shake off.  Maybe once (or twice) a year do we hear of such a thing- reality shows are proffering false idols and raising expectations.

Perhaps I will get back to reviewing music- when I am feeling a bit better- but something spectacular needs to happen- the quality has to increase; the vocal warriors have to make their moves.  It is not just enough to have a remarkable voice- you need the songs and lyrics to back them up.  One could criticise artists like Sam Smith for being too thin and effete- not being gritty and real enough.  Whilst few can ignore his immense vocal chops; his stories and themes do not delve that deep- he has the potential to get better, though.  Acts that concentrate away from the voice- like Royal Blood- are too limited- one wonders how long public fascination will last.  Perhaps I am over-simplifying, but the public yearns for that next great voice- someone who can buckle the knees; and has the songwriting quality in there too.  Into next year, I hope to work closely with a terrific young singer (and her band); someone who has an incredible songwriting talent- an exciting prospect to witness.

Whilst I plan my musical ideas and endeavours, I have been focusing my attentions to another realm: animation and comedy.  Although music is my main goal; the thing I will focus on the most- comedy and animation has been obsessing my mind.  In the U.K. we do not really have an animation industry- aside from the odd commercial or children’s show.  When it comes to comedy, we are somewhat limited- in more ways than.  Aside from the odd hal-decent comedy, we are not exactly consistent- most of the finest comedies are American-born.  Whether we lack the talent, the money or imagination, it is the U.S. that has always led the way- stamped out the finest animated shows of all-time.  From the classic days of Looney Tunes and Disney; the terrific shows like The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy- they are showing how it should be done.  I have always hated the influx of animated films- there seems to be a new one every week.  Once Toy Story passed, I got bored of the medium- with every coming week comes a new animated film featuring talking animals or some flimsy plotline.  It is comedies such as The Simpsons that grip my hardest- fascinate my mind and excites me hugely.  I have always been obsessed with the voice; what you can do with it- how far you can stretch it.  Fantastic actors like Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer provide dozens of voices (between them)- amaze you with their talent and versatility.  Look at legends such as Mel Blanc and June Foray- two of the greatest voice actors who have ever lived.  When it comes to extraordinary ability, few can top Frank Welker- an actor few would have heard of.  He is the most bankable actor of all-time- no other actor has pulled in the bucks he has; nobody else has his pulling power.  From the throat-shredding vocals of Dr. Claw (from Inspector Gadget) to Slimer (from Ghostbusters) he can do it all- his range of animal voices/noises is mind-boggling.  Nobody alive has his ability and talent- he is one of the reasons I want to get into the craft.  Mel Blanc is probably the name we all think of (when it comes to voice acting), but modern artists like Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson himself) are wonders of the craft- defying belief with their abilities and vocal turns.  In Britain, we are not over-stocked with vocal legends- nobody actually comes to mind.  Impressionists like Jon Culshaw and Alistair McGowan are undeniably skilled, yet none match the heights (of the U.S.) legends- we just don’t have the same talent.  One of the biggest problems is the entertainment industry itself- we do not have the same opportunities America offers.

The voice is a wonderful thing, and should not be confined to music- there are vast possibilities out there.  Every time I watch an episode of The Simpsons or South Park, I wonder the same thing: why are we not producing similar gens?  In the past (the U.K. has dabbled) with animated comedy- one or two average shows have emerged.  Thinking about it, we have not really come up with anything memorable or long-lasting- we are much better (when it comes to longevity and prolificy) when it comes to live-action comedy.  There are quite a few animation studios (in this country) but they tend to specialise in adverts, children’s shows and promotion pieces.  One of my secret ambitions is to be a voice actor- combine it with music if I can.  There are so many accents, voices and sounds in my head- anywehere up to a couple of thousand- they need somewhere to go- I risk being one of those crazy people that talks to themselves.  Rather than being put into a home, it would be great to get the voice out- have somewhere for them to go.  I have conceptualised and synopsised an animated comedy- that I hope to parlay into a fully-fledged series.  I have mentioned it in previous blog posts, but I have some trepidation- will it ever get made?  Even of the ordained (to get a commission), are there studios that can accommodate my demands- anyone out there that can do the words justice?  I know this country has some great voiceover talents- they are being reduced to hocking lousy goods and voicing idiotic cartoon characters.  We have some great comedy writers- a paucity compared to the U.S.- that would love the chance to branch into animation.  Animation is so much better and more freeing than live-action- it allows the imagination to run wild; realise your most ambitious ideas without spending millions doing so.

Voice acting is not something (most of you) will think about- not in the same depth as me.  We all watch great animated comedies like The Simpsons- given half a chance; we’d all love to appear in an episode!  In tandem with a music career, I would kill to do voice acting- release all of the odd characters and accents floating about my brain.  I have written an animated comedy, but fear no channel or studio would pick it up- maybe America is the only option?  Of course Kickstarter is out there- that afford the chance to get finances raised- so that a home-made endeavor is possible- you still need to make the animation and find someone to help.  I think America has the opportunities and facilities- moving there may be an answer.  I do not need much of an excuse to flee to somewhere like Burbank or Los Angeles- given the chance I would prefer to stick around London (and the U.K.).  In so much as great voices are important in music- they are just as needed in the entertainment industry.

Perhaps I will get back to music reviewing- when I am less anhedonic and tired.  If the quality goes up; if the desire is there- perhaps I will produce the odd review.  I just feel that a spark is lacking; a lot of new music is too safe and aimless- that the best we have had is the best we will ever get.  Too many bands and artists pack in noise and music; they negate the importance of terrific vocals- the voice is a beautiful thing to behold.  In a society that values looks and aesthetics (over personality)- the voice is an instrument that needs to stay tuned and loud.  My favourite current musicians and musical peeps possess tremendous voices- it is the reason I adore their music so.  It may be my particular tastes and bias- I just think the voice is a wonderful thing.  So much more fascinating and interesting than anything else, it makes music (and comedy) better and more fulfilling.  Whilst I (perhaps fruitlessly) hunt for U.K. animation studios; write music and imagine ideas- let me know if you hear of any truly captivating voice.  Reviewing may be what my blog represents (and is designed for) but the voice is my true passion- the reason I want to throw off the shackles of the ordinary; do something truly remarkable.  Whether my ambitions and dreams are a reality, I am not sure- I will keep pressing and searching.  If you have any idea and thoughts, let me know.  When it comes to wanting to find a great voice; unearth something truly extraordinary…

THAT is something we all have in common

Making Changes: Not Just For New Year

Making Changes: Not Just For New Year

 

I have been neglecting music reviewing some-what; for a number of different reasons: the energy and commitment (it demands) is one of the most pressing.  Working irregular and demanding hours, I am finding it (reviewing) a strain and tiring prospect- it is why I have put it firmly on the back burner.  In a way it is a shame, as music reviewing has been a part of my life for several years- it is the reason this blog exists.

This last week has been a rather trying and bizzare one- a silver lining has developed.  I find myself putting (myself first) and sacrificing my own happiness- too concerned with what other people are feeling.  Very recently, a rather upsetting and heartbreaking event has occurred- something that has caused me sleeplessness and upset.  Having hurt a valuable friend and caused some upset (for them), I have decided to change my ways.  I am too keen to get involved with people; ask if they are okay- pay compliments.  Not dragging the details into the light, an harmless and good-natured gesture (on my part) has back-fired- and will continue to do so.  In the wake of it, I have probably lost a valuable and close friend- possibly forever.  Not just that, but have hurt them hugely- this angers me enormously.

In addition to having upset and hurt a wonderful person, I am fearful that I will never hear (from them again)- it has caused me to reassess me way of thinking; the way I prioritise myself.  I am always too keen to be seen as ‘the good guy’; the person that goes out of their way- do something kind or thoughtful.  When it backfires- and innocent people get hurt- it gets to me (more than they will ever know); and I am tired of being a burden- things need to change.

Being close to my 300th (blog post), I am keen to get back on track: reorganise my mind and start putting dreams first.  For too many years I have neglected recording; put a relationship in the shadows- made sure most of my money went to other people.  It is not the case I am going to completely change- become a harsh and selfish human.  The fact is, I am getting too upset and affected (when things go bad).  Thoughtfulness and consideration will always be high on the agenda- I just need to limit my ‘kindness’; stay out of other people’s lives.  Be like everyone else, essentially.

New Year is the time for resolutions; it is stupid to dedicate an arbitrary (time of the year) to resolutions you will not keep.  When things go bad; when life starts to crumble- THAT is action needs to be taken; things need to change….

I have decided to make sure I record some music- before this time next year- and find a relationship- think about personal fulfillment and happiness.  It is important to keep friends; be faithful to your better nature- it is even more important to not lose focus of your own well-being.  When it comes to recent events, I doubt they will resolve themselves- I think too much damage has been done (and that cause me more pain than anything else).  Baffled, angry and deeply upset, I have to make changes and start putting myself first- take myself out of other people’s lives.  In addition to recording music, I hope to write a comedy (pilot); find love; move closer to London- as well as dozens of others things.

Not so much a Bucket List: it is a list of things I (should have done years ago) and have neglected- at the top of the list is ‘Be Happy’- how many of us aim for that (and fail)?  I should be back to reviewing music- in limited capacity- next year; making plans to get a band together- becoming a different person.  Too many of us make bad decisions and make mistakes- and do nothing about it.  Having chatted with a  treasured and loyal friend, she has opened my eyes- urged me to start thinking about me; putting myself first.  She is right, and I am glad she (said it)- it is something we all need to do.

I am not suggesting we all need to abandon our finer nature, but you definitely need to balance priorities- stop being so involved with (making other people happy); getting involved in other people’s lives- and making things (for yourself) worse.  As horrible as I feel- for having made someone I care about hate me- it has made me realise what I need to do: make myself happier.  Only then will I be able to live a better and more fulfilled life.  I have charity ambitions; music plans and things to sort out- distraction from recent embarrassments.  If you are in a similar position (and feel too burdened) it is okay to let things go- and think about yourself.  When it is all said and done…

THAT’s not a bad thing at all.

Time Out of Mind: My Second Entry

The Equality State

 

Pilot episode

(29 minutes):

“Wyoming, London

(Why I’m In London)

Notes and ideas:

Because there have been so few- good or successful- U.K. animated comedies, it is high time there was an attempt.  At the moment, there are few comedies- from Britain- I watch- there is a bit of a dip at present.  I want to write something with a U.S. sensibility; inspired by the likes of The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park, it will a very modern look to it- the same style of animation as The Simpsons (without the yellow people), and feature a great and varied cast.  I have an idea for the main cast- two boys, two girls- and hopefully they will be in.  The pilot will hopefully wet appetites for a full series.  With cliffhangers and plot twists, the idea is to leave people wanting more- both A-story arcs have huge longevity and potential for growth.  The series will see the girls with the power- transposing gender roles and making them the dominant duo.  Parodying and (with) affection referencing Breaking Bad, the girls go all across London- and the U.K.- and get in all sort of adventures and scrapes.  The boys go all across the world and bond; experiencing and achieving huge things.  The reality of home life and reality never is far from the door; each couple comes together and keeps their other lives separate.

In time, I hope to employ celebrity voices for episodes, but want to make sure the pilot gets made and received.  If there is not an animation company in the U.K., it may be a case of going to the U.S. – or raising a Kickstarter campaign and getting it made privately.

Desired Soundtrack:

Figure It Out- Royal Blood

The National Anthem- Radiohead

Metal & Dust- London Grammar

Synopsis:

The pilot focuses on two different couples in their 20s, who come together; during Hallowe’en of 2014.  Their coming together will have a huge effect on each other; that will change their lives and cause huge waves.

Alice Yorke is a Jehovah’s Witness; she is down on her luck and a mother-to-be.  She has just learned she is pregnant and tries to balance her daily life, coping with it.  She goes door-to-door in east London; trying to spread ‘the good word’.  The local citizens are not so accepting, and as she meets some weird and wonderful people, she starts to doubt herself.  As the sun rises over east London, Alice and her ‘colleagues’ try to change people’s minds; before a huge song-and-dance number- mixing Thriller and Billie Jean together with classic musical elements- breaks out: D.E.N.I.A.L.  As a hard morning drags on, Alice returns to her Canary Wharf apartment she shares with her boyfriend.

The boyfriend in question is a one Stefan Buckley.  He has recently been fired as a teacher, and spends his days obsessed with Radiohead; smoking, drinking and preparing for an upcoming court case: a harassment charge made by Thom Yorke.  The two sit down and discuss the future possibility of becoming parents; both knowing that they do not have the money or security- or stability- to be able to handle it.  They weight up their lives, and recollect how and why Stefan got fired: both aware that they need to change their lives.

Over in Camden, P.C. Natalie Mercury is on the beat- and on a crime scene.  She is a controversial and ‘bent’ police officer, and has been in trouble constantly.  From drag racing The Red Cross; wrongful arrests, parking in disabled spaces and tampering with murder scenes, her boss is fuming.  Natalie arrests some ‘freedom-hating terrorists'; lays down the law and not strictly playing by the rules- not realising they are Hasidic Jews.  When they complain, she tells them to ‘tell someone who cares'; as there is a smash cut to her Chief Inspector’s office; as a stack of complaints and written warnings are piled on the desk.  She is given one last chance, and told she is on very thin ice.  In her spare time, she models for Crimson Electric: a London model agency that is filled with the most disreputable opportunists and odd assignments you could imagine.

In a local hospital, her high-flying and dashing boyfriend Dan Bush is experiencing a typical day.  In the clinic he is dealing with some strange and depraved patients, whilst dealing with the advances of a gorgeous co-worker; as well as fending off a tyrannical boss- who is rather violent and angry.  In his spare time, he manages a successful band (Famous Atheists)- as well as looking after his sick and cantankerous parents (two 80 year olds).  After a rough month, he catches a quick break at his flat; located opposite a kebab shop in Camden- Madonna’s Kebabs (run by Madonna herself; although she tells everyone she is a look-alike).  He meets Natalie there, as the two discuss a recent event: Dan proposing the previous night.  With Natalie’s job at risk and pressures in Dan’s life; Dan starts to feel the strain; as Natalie makes lavish- and very unusual plans!  As they prepare for the evening’s Hallowe’en party, the day ticks on…

Alice deals with the effects of morning sickness; choosing inconvenient and embarrassing places to fall ill.  The day continues, and the four prepare for the evening.  As the guests arrive in various costumes, Alice’s niece is round as they have to babysit her.  She is a very ‘mature’ and strange 4-year-old and causes all ends of issues; not helped by Stefan teaching her how to smoke.  The party swings on, as each of the couples confide in each other; and their various doubts.

As the morning arrives, the four go separate ways.  Alice is left to clear up the mess and carnage of the night before; before having to go onto the streets, in a desperate attempt to bring the word of Jehovah to Elephant and Castle and Hackney.  Dan has a nightmare morning as his colleague makes a pass, and his fellow doctors tease him about settling down.  Natalie is fired for letting a drunk meth-head drive her home after the party- in a police car.  Natalie has her badge, car and clothes stolen, and is now out of a job, being pursued by angry criminals, with the Met. Police angrily demanding the return of the stolen assets.  Stefan spends his morning trying to invent the perfect hangover cure; looking for a new job, as well as being embroiled in a battle with a neighbour- with disastrous consequences.

The two boys meet up at a local bar- Homme’s; they discuss their situations and both feel trapped.  They are making plans for the future when Stefan gets a phone call with terrible news- he may only have 8 months to live.  The two girls meet at an Australian bar in Soho.  With Natalie fired and Alice dislocated and lost, they both feel a change is needed.  After both drinking a well-known cocktail; Natalie still has drugs- taken from a local gang.  After dropping them in the cocktail; she accidentally takes a sip.  The effects start to take a hold; leaving her sedate and ecstatic- a bizzare and brilliant animated sequence takes place (mixing Fantasia, stop motion, The Beatles and live action).  As the girls make their way home on the tube, they see the depression of London life; the inequality as well as the beauty and fascination.  As Alice finishes her day, arriving at the door of a chavy couple, Natalie calls.  Suddenly a master plan is struck, and the girls strike upon a way out of their problems.

Stefan and Dan have a heart-to-heart and asses the news.  Stefan decides that he has been a disappointment to Alice, and decides to make a list; a sort of Bucket List, where he will do as much as possible- as well as achieve as many goals as possible.  The girls realise that Natalie has stumbled upon an addictive and potent invention.  The two set up premises in the empty basement of the kebab shop (opposite Natalie and Dan’s flat), and come up with a name: The Equality State.  They recruit a group of followers who are all socially different.  It refers to the effect the cocktail has where everyone- rich or poor- is levelled and equaled: everyone feels the same.  It also refers to Wyoming, a U.S. state which is mountainous and sparsely-populated- the first state of America to give women the vote.  It seems like a metaphor for their business, and how they customers will blend into London life.

As the police close in on Natalie and Dan’s flat and the walls close in, Natalie still uses her pull and power as a police officer to round up customers and make money and connections.  Stefan and Dan begin a list of 30 ‘to-dos’ or tasks; starting with number 1- with the help of Dan’s band, Famous Atheists.  The two forget about work and life.  Dan does not mention that his colleague made a pass, as well as his doubts about the wedding; Stefan does not let Alice know about his illness.  Meanwhile neither girls mention their business venture, as well as Natalie’s firing, and Alice’s doubts about motherhood.

In the closing scenes, Alice and Stefan talk about the future, and possible abortion.  Outside an inappropriately-named abortion clinic, as the rain lashes; the two realises that they want to stay together and need a future to hold onto.  Knowing that each of their lives will be very different and turbulent, they continue as they are: making sure neither knows of each other’s fate.  Natalie and Dan spend the night together; neither revealing truths, but promising to stick together.  When the following night comes around, Natalie and Alice are in the basement, surrounded by acolytes.  In a homage to Fight Club, Alice gives a speech; the mantra of the club and society:

The vile men that take the head of the world,

Break the mind and kill our kind

The women who break the mould will never ask

For an even mind

In spite of light the sun goes down

The world’s true nature is revealed

The poor are blinder, the rich control

The average are crushed under foot

The right to vote, the equality state

Every human on a level plain

In the openness of the midnight hour

We are all the same

Whilst mere mortals tell us they see some

And only remember a few

We feel everything

When eyes of the fools are closed and their idle dreams dance

We will rule- and they will hear us call

As the conclusion plays out, the girls find that they are being pursued.  Alice has her colleagues, as well as some of her ‘faithful’ chasing her; angry at her betrayal and revaluation; as Natalie finds that her flat is taken over by the police; keen to find her, as some disgruntled criminals also close in.  Stefan has a court case; illness and fatherhood to think about, as Dan’s colleague announces her intentions- leaving each pair with much to ponder.  The screen splits as each of the couples go separate ways.  Stefan and Dan head to the U.S. to fulfill the next ‘task’- both trying to escape from life; unaware what ramifications could be in store.  They are involved in an epic fight and car chase; escaping with cuts, the duo pledge friendship and the promise of making things better.  Natalie and Alice have a huge queue of customers, as word spreads.  As the siren’s flash across the street and the flat is turned over, the girls both join hands and smile; realising that London will be changed, and that their lives will never be the same again.  Mirroring the first scene- in tribute of Memento- Stefan pulls his car outside a local tattoo parlour (just before heading to America).  There is mystery to why he is there; what is going to happen- setting up another cliffhanger, there is narration (from Stefan), as he delivers the line: “Now… where were we?” as there is an instant cut to the closing credits.

Time Out of Mind- Press Release

Time Out of Mind

 

Over the coming weeks and months, I want to raise awareness, money and attention for Mind- a charity that helps those affected by mental illness.  Being someone who is afflicted (by the illness), I am keen to raise focus and prominence- ensure depression and mental illness is not stigmatised and margalised.  Most of the people I know, know someone (who suffers mental illness)- a majority of the public do, too.  My proposal looks at changing attitudes and getting people involved- much in the same way the Ice Bucket Challenge (did for A.L.S.).  Unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge, there is a creative edge and proposal- the individual is encouraged to think of something unique and special- so no two people offer the same thing.  All I ask is (for each participant/nominee) to spend 15 minutes of out their day- and post it on social media.  It can be a video message or a poem; a recorded song or photo  (a good deed for someone; a walk in the park for instance)- I wrote a song from scratch!  Having launched the idea, I have had people contribute and get ‘the ball rolling’.  Below are videos from three of my Facebook friends- Diane Sherwood, Jen Armstong and Georgia Jakubiak:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=960946843930864&set=vb.100000466725465&type=2&theater

http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=1040669&rf=115256

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154611985545207&set=vb.561780206&type=2&theater

This is what I am looking for: something fresh and fun; something personal and creative- all it takes is 15 minutes (or less).  Once this ‘entry’ has been posted, the person must nominate three people; they in turn have 48 hours to respond/complete the challenge- they in turn nominate three others etc.   I hope to take the idea globally (and turn it viral)- get it talked about and promoted.  The most important thing is to donate to Mind- everyone must ensure they do this.  This can be done in a number of ways:

Just Giving:

https://www.justgiving.com/Sam-Liddicott3

By text

There are two ways to donate to Mind via text

  • Text SUPPORT to 70660 to give £3
  • Text GIVE to 82772 to give £5

By post

For one off gifts, please send a cheque, rather than cash, payable to Mind Fundraising, 15-19 Broadway, Stratford, London, E15 4BQ. Please download and complete the Mind donation form to send in with your donation.

If you’d like to set up a regular gift by post, please download and complete the direct debit form (PDF format) and post it to us.

By phone

Call us on 0300 999 1946 and make a donation with your debit or credit card. Calls charged at your normal rate. Mobile and other providers’ charges may vary.

 

Time Out of Mind is a fun and creative way to raise awareness for Mind and the issues of mental illness- something that can be done by everyone.  It only takes 15 minutes- and you!  Let us all work together and do everything we can- so many suffer the effects of mental illness; many do so alone.  I myself often feel lost, lonely and disconnected- in need of a helping hand and friendly voice.  With community togetherness; a common goal and focus- we can make a difference.  Thank you.

For further details please see The Problem: An Invisible Illness; A Way Through: Time Out of Mind:

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

Time Out of Mind: My Entry

Time Out of Mind:

My Entry

_________________________________________

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…

______________________________________

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

________________________

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?!

 _______________________________

Classic Break

 __________________________________

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

 ________________________________

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)

 _____________________________________

Musical Break 2

 ____________________________________

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.

_____________________________

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

 ____________________________________________________

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

_________________________________________________________________________

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

 _________________________________________________________________________

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.

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The Indos’ videos available at:

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