‘Truth Or Tone’
Magic and mystical sounds; mix with hard and heavy; result in a cosmic blast of song.
Availability: ‘Truth Or Tone’ is available via http://soundcloud.com/thegullwings/truth-or-tone
Once again, we are in some familiar territory…
Well, in more than one way. The music is alive, electric and fascinating. More pertinently, the music that is being bequeathed, is from the north once more. Later this week, I hope to be looking at sounds from all over the U.K., as well as further abroad. But for the next two days, I am focusing again on music from the great north. I have always been surprised what is hiding away, and nestling in the delightful scented back streets of the social network sites. The mainstream is like a city- not a great one, like London, Barcelona or York. I’m thinking of something crapper. I’d say the closest geographical comparable is a tectonic realignment of modern-day Los Angeles, with a rejoined attachment of African and Asian wonders. In the main streets and boulevards there are the predictable yawns of name brand stores. The corporate, faceless mega-stores that can simultaneously gauge you and entice you without conscientiousness. This constitutes the central core of modern music; the bland and toothless alike. Current ministers of mediocre include Bruno Mars and Coldplay. When you take a trip further downtown, there is the seedy and dangerous back doors of tattoo parlours, dive bars and shops with bullet proof windows. The likes of Katy Perry, One Direction, Justin Bieber, etc. are the proprietors and wasted patrons. They are all too common and replicated; but hopefully one imagines they will die a death when a nationalised common sense prevails. Of course there are more charming and historic sites and attractions. The Rolling Stones,The Stone Roses and Paul McCartney are the big tourist spots. They are solid, but subject to imminent entropy. They have played their collective parts wonderfully, but are looking tired, and offer no new delights. Then there is a final sub-sector; way beyond the neon strips and bustling unpredictability, there is a safer and more intriguing back alley allure. Perhaps not seen in the U.S. or most of Europe, these side streets and towns proffer a nascent and head-swimming array of spices, flavours, trinkets and tasty liquids. You have to look harder, and unfortunately, you have to rely on serendipity and an interchangeable sense of direction to happen upon such splendours. It is, however a more rewarding and spellbinding discovery, when you do happen upon these treats. These are, the new musicians; the new bands and talent. They are curious to win your hearts and earn your currency, yet are detached from and unconcerned with mass commercialism and a preconceived notion of what is trendy or popular. They market their own stalls and provide a cathartic and healing glow, that you just don’t get in the mean and twisted streets…
Which, perhaps with semi-poetic license, leads me to the charming and variegated scents of The Gullwings. They may be seen in The Lanes of Brighton. You get some rather colourful and sweet-smelling doorways down there, but social media has done a lot of the work for me; so I shall do a good job at summation and paraphrasing what the band are, and who they aim to be. On Facebook, they are Oliver Podmore (vox and guitar); James Lennon (lead guitar); Thomas Castle (bass), and Jake Perry (drum). They hail from the Stockport area, and Podmore, it is claimed, possesses pipes which defy any stereotyped or cliched views on a northern voice. There is no Ashcroft/Gallagher/Brown homosapien swagger and controversy. It was The Manc Review whom were blown away by their “poetic lyrics” and “razorsharp riffs”. There is much acclaim being spread due to the band’s raw, enthralling, and blues gravity. They are fairly new boys on the scene, but have spent their days campaigning and accruing supporters and fans to their growing legions. They have a small clutch of tracks at the moment, and are cementing their intent; providing a codified chest of black magic and white lightening. Already they have been played on BBC radio, and enjoyed praise from various media outlets; each of them aghast at the band’s ability to switch and interplay emotions paradigmatically; conjuring a cool and seductive mix of edge and esteem; undiluted or spoiled by market plans, prefabricated designs, or future stocks in The X-Factor/talent show market. Their music has crawled, and walked, and has decided to skip the whole ‘talking’ bit, and get right down to screaming…
Okay, then, eager tourists: let me introduce you to the designated thaumaturgy of ‘Truth Or Tone’. The lads have pitched stall in a rather underused and valuable property patch. The combination of stunning and memorable vocals and a terrific and epic sound, sets them apart from the local competition and legends alike. The sound is not one you’d expect from such a young band. The order of the day is usually pastiche and mimicry, or trying to become a second-rate version of who they think they should be. It take only a few seconds of the track to know that the results are going to be unexpected. There is some scene-setting and dark bass twangs; reminding me of something Nirvana or Pixies might produce. The latter may be more fitting, as it sounds like it is something from their ‘Surfer Rosa’/’Doolittle’ presidency. The little electrical sparks of electric guitar, that proffer and smile in the back of frame have curious blends too. Part ‘Lullabies to Paralyze’ Queens of the Stone Age; bits of ‘Think Tank’ Blur-cum ‘L.A. Woman’ The Doors. It is that rare and refreshing mix of modern north, ’60s, ’80s, ’00s America, and early ’00s Britain that brings beautiful life to the intro. From the lines that weave a bit like ‘Jets’ and ‘Debaser’/’La La Love You’; the stenographic mind creep takes you far far away. I have a tendency to introduce parable and dream sequences when reviewing, but one cannot help but be taken to somewhere more filmic, and fat-fetched. For me, at least, there is the sound of a stunning film like ‘Fight Club’. There is all of that dark street mood, and brooding violence and dissatisfaction with modern-day life. It is rainy and dark to be sure; whether the band consciously want to instill some sort of unnerve into the atmosphere to lull you into a sense of false security, or not, is a mystery. There is a little bit of a ‘Humbug’-era Arctic Monkeys, when the electric guitar suits and boots up and goes into the day. The light is up and ‘Narrator/Jack’ is off to a soulless job; but instilled with confidence and menace of forethought. The music is Fonzie in a freezer of Dave Grohl merchandise cool; and implores your senses to prick and sizzle. We are at the door; along the corridor, into the office, where rows of desks and rows of trapped sardines, look on blankly. It is still wet outside, and there is a neon buzz above. Sitting down at his desk, our protagonist ignores the myriad of paperwork and ‘to-dos’; instead smiling, as he opens his briefcase. When the pace changes, drops and curves before the 1:00, the sound turns to a sort of debut album The White Stripes, with shades of Iggy and The Stooges. It is a little blues-via Detroit rock- infused; with some punk trills and spike in its heels. Anyway-briefly- back to the Fincher fantasy scenes. The briefcase is opened, and besides an obligatory and inconsequential gun, there are bloodied papers. Work papers, or something. More intriguingly, is a key that sits in the corner. Our hero picks it up, and walks away from his desk, in time to the music, as his boss holds his hands up exasperated. No one else looks around; no one else cares. As the vocal starts to slip in; I am reminded of several sounds. There is a bit of the calmer, less garbled edges of Alex Turner; but there are also a lot of individuality and personality as it is said: “I need to stand out”. A commentator on SoundCloud commented that this track could be destined for a Tarrantino film; but to my mind my modern-day ‘Fight Club’ scenarios seem more trite. I’ll get back to the Hollywood tableaux shortly, but the vocals have compelled an investigative spark in me. Like I stated during me review of The Ruckus, there is perhaps, a little too much of Alex Turner in the vocals, and The Arctic Monkeys in the music. This is no bad thing; it just means that sharp-eared pedants such as me, will jump on it. It is only really a fleeting vocal nod to Turner, as Podmore has less of the ravaged drawl, instead possessing a pleasing abstemiousness, that means as well as being less jarring at times, it also makes him a lot more decipherable. You can actually understand what is being sung. When contradictory lyrics such as “..I’m always surrounded/Yeah, I’m always alone”, there is an unequivocal sense of confusion and emotional turmoil. The track has a tension and need to be emancipated. Through the employment of brooding and hard guitars, as well as an assured and frank vocal turn, there is a sense of electricity and passion being displayed. The whole band put in a tight and professional shift, and show as much endeavouring surge and sound-craft as the front-man does. It is a song which never outstays its welcome; only leaving you wanting more- no meekness, only intention. Oh, and back to the film set; and our hero has reached a red door in a corridor under the offices. He turns it, licks his lips and opens it. We do not see anything but a shallow, feint light emanate, as the music ends. The conclusion will have to wait for a sequel…
Let me get any sort of constructive words out of the way. There was a lot of reference and evocation of Arctic Monkeys throughout. Perhaps at times straying into the ‘Humbug/Suck It And See’ spectrum, too closely. There are tints of Turner in the vocals, and the band also have that sound. Not that it is ever a bad thing; it’s just with the likes of The Ruckus doing it as well; one wonders whether we need a 2nd or 3rd mutation of the band. That said there are only the odd tones here and there, and the band manage to break from the lyrics book of Turner, with tales of matters closer to home, and themes of alienation and personal questioning. The intro is the most fascinating part of the song, and the band show that they know how to begin a song, better than anyone out there at the moment. I suspect that the future is going to incredibly prosperous and bright, as the combination of stunning vocals, and an incredibly moving and shifting musical backdrop. Listen to this stunning song, and check out their other tunes, as well. Because very soon, it is going to be likely that this 4-piece, will be
… making huge waves for years to come.
May 28th Gullivers MANCHESTER
June 22nd Headlander Festival STOCKPORT