Tell Me (They)
The Little Things, Bigger Picture band create epic sounds, with more than small wonder.
Tell Me (They) is available at:
Little Things, Bigger Picture, is available at:
LOCAL talent is always something particularly relevant…
to upcoming musicians, and home fans alike. From my perspective, it is always interesting to hear what sounds are being favoured, and- as a songwriter- what potential competition and supporters there are. I have focused my attention on a fair few acts and artists from the A.C.M. in Guildford, a town from where Nylon Sky hail. Historically Guildford has had a few notable bands make their mark, but not too many though. The Jam were formed just up the road, but The Stranglers aside, there has been previous little proffered from this old town. Plenty of history still exists within the town, and I have been baffled why this part of Surrey has not spawned more talent than it has. Surrey in general, in terms of producing the all-time great acts is a bit like a British Eurovision entry: never even close to the top 10, and producing acts of rather variable quality. Given the proximity to London, Surrey should do more, but is hoped with the likes of the A.C.M., there will be a lot of strong representation in years to come. It is probably that very music school (The Academy of Contemporary Music) that will foster our most likely local stars. I have displayed some ambivalence in the past towards music schools and academies due to the nature of the graduates. Historically, well, none of the all-time great voices have gone through this route, and in terms of the very best bands, they have always done things differently. It is very much a modern thing, and although there are some truly dreadful examples being brought forth (that accounts for a pretty high percentage), there are some genuine talents to be found, several of whom I have the pleasure of reviewing their work. For bands, I feel that the local scenes- pubs, venues etc.- will play a bigger role, and if there is going to be a modern-day The Jam equivalency, then they are likely to be cultivated and reared on the local circuit. In terms of the sounds of the bands I am aware of from Guildford, they tend to stray towards the heavier end of the spectrum. There is a lot of heavier Grunge-type sounds, as well as Metal and Punk. Never entirely sure why this is, as the solo talent sure as hell tend to be as far from that as possible. Bands of a certain age- late teens/early-mid 20s- were listening to the old masters such as Nirvana and Grunge in the early-’90s, and strangely detoured slightly towards the mid-’90s to incorporate Britpop and indie sounds. It is this collective memory and D.N.A. that enforces a lot of the band motifs: heavier and darker middles, with less menacing, and more melodic edges. It is an understandable phenomenon: every artist has influences and idols, and most will incorporate them into their own music. Trouble is, I have heard a lot of bands from the north- Manchester, Liverpool etc- that have been so close to an existing (or defunct) band, that it has sounded like a third-rate tribute band.
Through stellar fanbase, and a reputable and solid name on the live scene of Surrey and beyond, the four-piece: Tony, Tom, Stuart and Nai-ik, have a large and dedicated online following, and have surmounted a greater and more exhaustive fanbase than a lot of better-known acts. I am going to have to clutch at straws again, when it comes to band biography, as I know very little of them. In the same as my subject yesterday, Story Books, have little online biography, Nylon Sky have even less. I know they have been playing for a long time now, and have a legendary name and repute amongst the A.C.M. crowd and independents alike. Again the music has to do all of the talking, but would be nice to know more about the band: what their influences are, a few sentences on the members, as well as a few reviews here and there. In the very modern age of Facebook, Twitter and the like, the boys will gain new fans and catch the eyes of festival organises and venue managers with a few additions: promotional videos, a more in-depth official site, as well as some quotes/quips, etc. I can provide no further information, so will get down to the business of the music itself.
Their album Little Things, Bigger Picture (impressive title aside) boasts some striking artwork, in addition to 13 tracks; all with intriguing and curious titles. Track 4, Tell Me (They) wastes precious little time, in making an impression and cementing its desires. The opening strings have early-mid ’90s flavours: In Utero Nirvana/Superunknown Soundgarden, as well as something more soulful and sensuous (one could, at one point, picture Chris Isaak’s voice following the initial stages of the intro.). Following a brief percussive interjection, the vocals open the song up. The voice has some U.S. evocations, yet is not whiskey-soaked and tormented, nor lightweight and wandering: there are evocations of Anthony Kiedis, curiously. Following that parable, there are hints of Californian breeziness that The Red Hot Chilli Peppers have hallmarked. The initial strings and percussion have that same laconic but intentional authority. The lyrics, however- with a little Blood Sugar Sex Magik- have a painful past and present: “I’ve been born/I’ve been wasted”. Unlike the ageing U.S. band, Nylon Sky have a youthful energy and vigour that is tireless and infectious. The sound builds upon the quiet-loud dynamic: the initial four dozen or so seconds are calmed, and building, before an explosion is presented. There is passion and strength in our protagonists voice as he implores: “And they tell me not to worry”, is delivered with tremulous anxiety, as well as defiance. The drums slam like a storm, and guitar and bass whip up an electrical wind. Vocals are held, stuttered and elongated to create maximum emotional effect- there is an impressive power and capacity to the vocals during the chorus. The overall themes and lyrical subjects, mixed with the adventurous and engaging musical breaks, pulls any minds away from Californian wells. There is a uniquely sharp and focused sound; the band are tight and supported by some brilliant production values. A lot of tracks seem to have their structure and signatures established, by rarely wander. The vocal lines are predictably symmetrical, as are the instrumentations and verse-chorus-verse formation. Nylon Sky keep a restless energy and unpredictability at the forefront: vocals change presentation and lines; tics, raps and syncopation is blended in, for instance. From 1:42 there is a more light-hearted change. The words are rapped and trip along; there are ‘whoop whoops!’; subjects such as death and proclivity are given a blase and humorous disregard. After the chorus explodes once more, another twist comes into view. Unleashed is a wave of guitar arpeggios and excitement; wordless but ecstatic. It is hard to compare the sound and passage to anything else. There is the ’60s and ’70s spirit; Van Halen edges, and Hard Rock/Psychedelic underpinnings. It rides a crest and bides its time for a little while, before the vocal returns to the fold. In a battle to win the mood, and stay alive to the end, the words “Worry is all I do” is proffered: delivered intensely and with full-bloodied passion. Another side to the story has been told, and a further snaking turn has unfolded. When the track ends, it takes a little while to absorb the different sounds and sensations, and unearth what the track wants to say.
There is personal doubt and clear anxiety: not only about life, but about love and issues. Most bands put the vocal and lyrics far down in the mix, and it is often indecipherable and unintelligible. The vocals are clear so that you can hear what is being sung. The guitar, bass and percussion does not impose and drown the voice out; similarly out front-man does not drawl or slur: everything is enunciated finely so you get the best of all worlds. On that note, the band themselves are tight, focused and professional and it is clear that they have been working on their sound for a while, and, coupled with smooth and focused production, results in a great track. Having delved into the other tracks from the album, there is a lot of that same quality and ambition. The tracks do not follow the exact same path; there is movement, surprises and an overall feeling of brilliance and originality. Nylon Sky have splashes of other influences, from ’90s West Coast U.S., through to Home Counties Indie/Rock. They will be doing a great service to new music as well as Surrey; putting the county firmly back on the map, whilst making great waves much farther afield. In the current climate, there are few new bands whom can provide original and fresh sounds, whilst displaying a conviction for softer, more sensitive edges, as well as hard and dominant highs. In a scene, where the vast majority of exciting and superlative new music derives from north and Scotland, it is a relief to hear of a southern band, whom are capable of toppling them all. Seek out their album and Tell Me (They)…
BIG things are shortly ahead.