The Bedroom Hour-
London 5-piece have a bi-generation Mancunian adoration in their chest of influences, but produce a sound that is creatively emancipated and singular.
Availability: ‘Submarine’ is available via http://soundcloud.com/thebedroomhour
Reverberations from London, seem to be few and far between…
in music equivalency, for certain. I guess there are a lot of established and well-known acts based in the capital; but so few new acts seem to emerge from there, in comparable terms. As Greater London is the most densely-populated and prosperous county in England, and the financial and administrative hub of the U.K., one would imagine that a comparable wealth of eager new music would be nestling in the various boroughs and postcodes. I guess if you are actually a resident of London, you will hear about quite a slew of acts, but for those of us in the home counties and further afield; we have to rely on music journalism and social media to hear about quite a few of the bands and artists. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. Utilising social media for networking purposes is one of the only thing that is credible about the likes of Twitter and Facebook. It is far better to be able to connect with wonderful new music and discover new and daring songs. From there you can adopt altruism and share the sounds to other people, and build up a wave of fans for the associated talent. In a period where social media is predominantly used as a template for pretension and self obsession; as as a format used to display boilerplate nonsense, and appalling grammar and spelling. Until I find the funds to get my music website concept (which is growing hair in all sorts of exciting places) up and running; it is a frustrating and fruitless quest trying to find a site that does all the things you want from a music website. God forbid you want to form a band or find musicians; lest you be condemned to the murky recesses of Gumtree and generic basic music sites, it is virtually impossible. When trying to launch music video ideas, find collaborators, or get songs or acts reviewed, it is a quagmire of ineffable frustration. I mention it not as an inconsequential rant, but as a relevant issue we have. If you know certain people, get lucky or have your wits about you, how the hell do you ever hear about certain music? It is 2013, and there are a proliferation of aimless and banal websites; pointless and moronic ‘smartphones’ and flawed, problem-riddled and ironically-named ‘social media’ websites. There must be someone, other than me, who has a bit of cash and can put together a multifaceted and all-inclusive music website. It is mind-boggling and makes me all the more angry.
Anyway, I shall get to the matters at hand. There is an auspices of sonic proportions, campaigning with the commitment of a hydraulic tappet. They are a band of brothers, with parabolic talent, who have been working some magic in Hillingdon, West London. It is a lovely avenue of bucolic and historic splendor, a positive Russian Doll of hidden and multitudinous mystery. It is quite rare and refreshing to hear a band like The Bedroom Hour emanate from there. Clapham or Brixton, maybe. I was instantly won over by their history as well as their ambition. The band consist of the magic vocals of the hirsute leader Stu Drummond; bass slapping vox-assisting sergeant Dan Rider; the juicy, compelling licks and vocal tricks of Rob Payne; percussive majesty from Ryan Pincott, and keys master Mark Dudley. Their aim is simple: to put the ‘credible’ back into ‘incredible music’. Seems simultaneously, a tall order and a short mission. The guys bowled me over in about 10 seconds. They need to expand their ambition and focus their sights on a coveted and glistening prize: future Mercury Prize success. It is a vehicle of multi-axle stealth, and one that is picking up some steam. They are photographically well represented, and have a very noir projection. Formed as a conglomeration of two previous bands, the 5 boys fell in love, based on a shared love of similar music, and ambition. They are ardent fans of much-underrated Cheshire boys Doves, as well as monosyllabic near-neighbours Elbow. As well, they are fans of fellow Mancunians Joy Division, they manage to combine elements of their influences into a rather delicious picnic of sound and wonder. They label their sound as a sort of ‘psychadelic syth-cum-guitar, melodic, harmony-based band’. Remove the ‘synths’ part of the description and what might come to mind is a new mutation of The Coral. I love those guys. They never had an easy road. Even when their spellbinding career-benchmark Magic and Medicine was unleashed, a lot of critics were tepid and critical. Most were scared off by their somewhat unorthodox and daring combination of guitar sounds and psychedelic sounds and oblique lyrics. Any album that contains ‘Eskimo Lament’, ‘In The Forest’ and ‘Don’t Think You’re The First’ is pretty bloody special. Check it out, if you haven’t already. I loved ‘Nightfreak and the Sons of Becker’, too. It was a delightful ‘mini album’ with psychotic gems such as ‘I Forgot My Name’, ‘Migraine’ and ‘The Sorrow or the Song’. Critics were pretty lukewarm and unforgiving with that collection. It annoyed me mostly, as they had missed the point. There were a few weaker numbers there, but the way the band combined humorous and interesting lyrical ideas, with strange and wonderful sounds, barks, effects and twangy Liverpudlian weirdness. If there was any sign of that within the walls of The Bedroom Hour, I would likely have to marry them all individually. With their open-for-interpretation band name in my sights, and my finger hovering on their SoundCloud page, I prepared to hit play.
I was going to review ‘X Marks The Spot’ but feel that that will be getting a lot of attention rather soon. ‘Submarine’ starts out, as a gorgeous sigh, I was reminded initially of ‘How To Disappear Completely’. That is, perhaps Radiohead’s most tormented track, and one of the most affecting songs of the last 15 years. I was expected to hear some electronic whale noise, and far-off echo, and the sound of Thom Yorke unleashing his demons all over the studio floor. There is a fraternal nod to the Oxford boys, as well as a serving of Kingdom of Rust-era Doves. The Spanish Steps and emotional recourse of acoustic strum, percussive hard heartbeat, melting to a sobbing and exhausted electric guitar feed, means that the intro is bidirectional and uplifting. From a sense of romance and foreplay, builds a sexual kick, as the whole atmosphere is submerged into a warm ocean, and sinks, submissively. My mind was- perhaps intentionally- taken to an aqua film set; I was alone in a patch of the Mediterranean Sea, in the pre-evening, when the sun is starting to yawn, and all I have for company are some inquisitive blue whitting and spiny dogfish. I am in a dream so can breathe under water; compelled as I am to explore the depths. As I near the bottom, I hear a voice in my ear, as the intro ends. There is a little of Garvey in the edges of the vocal, but is sweeter and more transfixing; maybe Thom Yorke is a fair comparison. Drummond has a rougher hue and a bit more manly emotion, to Yorke’s sensitive femininity. It is quite a whispered and when lines such as “trapped inside my head”, and “my skin’s volcanic/I’m hot to touch” are proffered; the resultant combination of imagery and musical backdrop is quite startling. It is confident and chastened; confessional and honest. When the rejoinder is declared: “when I erupt/It’s always you I blame”, one feels that there is a tormented and vivid back-story. It is a lyrical topic that Joy Division could and have employed; mixing the bleak with the oblique. But instead of a ravaged and haunted voice, the touch of ethereal shine that emanates from the cloud, keeps the mood level, and the waves will not pull you under, simply crash above you. The Doves-cum-Elbow-via Liverpool guitar sound, emphasises and elongates the mood. The guitar floats and swims, with a hint of kick to it; the percussion keeps the beat and remains solid, as the boys create a glorious soft and supportive sound. It has D.N.A. of ‘Kid A’; with the likes of ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ and ‘Treefingers’ nestling in the mix. There is a bit of Caleb Followill in the vocals when it gets a bit pained and raspy. The metaphors of water and submarine, are used to depict an unease and emotional sinking stone. The music at times envelopes and swallows the vocals; there is a very real notion of sinking and hopelessness; the sound and sonics crash indiscriminately, threatening to claim our hero, and bury him asunder. By the 3:00 there is a more redemptive coda and thread weaved, with it implored that you need to keep “your head above the water”. There is a piano and drum sway and an echo in the background. It is an invigorating punch and hug, which is rousing and inspiration; and it will put a smile on your face. The melody that runs through the majority of the song, sways and bobs, dances and twirls, gathering a momentum and glory as events progress. At one point there is a drum rattle; part marching band; part gunfire, that injects urgency and a rush of blood into the strum and drang. The sound continues and evokes a huge amount of mood and emotion; it allows your mind to wander and imagine. My story continues, as I swim and chase the submarine, trying to catch a glimpse of our protagonist and cohorts, trying to discover where they are heading for; whether is a sunny climb, or a darker recess. As the song ends, I head to the surface and go back to shore, wondering what is in store for our band of Londoners.
I was very impressed by the song and band as a whole. Anyone scared by any sort of The Coral-esque psychedelia, have no fear. There is a lot in common with Elbow, Radiohead, and parts Joy Division. The track is stunning and evocative, and the vocals are brief but potent. The vocal is unique and sterling, with only small traces of any influence. The band are solid and stunning, able to infuse a huge amount of depth and spark into the sound. The fact that a majority of the track is musical, it is an impressive achievement that the track is so stunning. The lyrics are heartfelt and raw, with a lovely and stirring reverse around the half way mark. It is a song that shifts and moves; swims and rises, which keeps you on the edge and makes you close your eyes and try to imagine what The Bedroom Hour imagined when writing the song. I have been inspired to listen to their back catalogue and investigate a lot more. They are a 5-piece whom have potential to upend and conquer current Mercury Prize holders Alt-J. They do not need oddity or a huge guitar sound and noise. Instead they manage to create the maximum amount of resonance and evocation from a brilliantly structured and memorable composition, with intelligent depth and a beautiful heart. If you are looking for a new band to capture your imagination and feelings for 2013 and far, far beyond…
check them out, and I deplore you to challenge any of my claims and words.