A keen sense of humour; and a keen eye towards the art of tune invention (of the highest pedigree), combine stock in your brain; courtesy of a band, ‘knee deep in pudding’.
Availability: ‘Lost’ is available via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxmJ_itF8PA
First moves are always some of the most nervous and fascinating, when it comes to music…
Well, I say fascinating; it doesn’t always ‘good fascinating’. A lot of debut albums or first songs from any given artist, tend to stray close to a safe a prefabricated model or mould, where they can thrash and stretch, but not look too longingly at a dark moon or bright sun. There is the odd glimmer, or moment of intricate complexity; more inscrutable and baffling as Beals conjecture, and just about as influential as well. There have been a lot of riffs; a fair deal of wordy posturing; and a whole lotta verificationism. In the rubble and backrooms you get some survivors and stayers. There does seem to be a lot of more or less of the same, and whether one has legs to run in the future, depends primarily on the initial moves made. I have been lucky, and have born receipt of many exciting and captivating songs, from many wonderful new acts. There has been some derision and beige amongst the swell, but by and large I have been deeply impressed. This seems to be a reflective malaise of a larger fallibilism in the industry. It is assumed by a vast majority that the acts that are heralded and held aloft by the music press, and mixed within citrus zeal of commercial press, that will produce the greatest music. It is a false equivalence, as to my mind, the best new music is- and probably will always be- largely undiscovered; contained to back rooms and small clubs of the north. Take a trip down the streets of Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and an interconnecting train line of bands, and you will be straining your ears to doorways, emanating smoky siren calls, brutal The Doors-esque ’70s majesty and rollicking Yorkshire punch and spit. In a lot of instances you have only to travel a few miles from one act, to hear a completely new landscape and palette. Whether there is a lack of awareness within the record labels and such, as to the existence of such happenings, is a mystery. I would say at the least, there is a willingness not to travel too far behind the bright lights of Camden and the surrounding 10 miles. In terms of column inches, there have been few groups or artists revered in fond tones, that have hailed that far north of the Midlands. A lot of American and European interest has been proffered recently, but there are still huge patches of untapped coal pits of gold, that have yet to have their recesses investigated. I mention it, not as a gripe or a general moan, but more of a need for a recession; a change in attitude and energy. Social media and music sites have given every new act an outlet on which to get their music heard, and if you look hard enough and are willing to open your ears for long enough, treasures are uncovered and new infatuations are liberated.
Today, however, there is going to be more love poetry dedicated to the north, as the combustible 4-piece Transition, Baby! are based in Audenshaw. The band have a growing and impressive following on Twitter and Facebook, and are burgeoning into a serious band to watch for 2013-2014. Regardless of your defaulted musical orientation, the boys project a lovable and rarely-matched humour. They claim that one of their key influences is Steve Coogan. Jeremy Irons is also an important figure for them, and I could never imagine these two actors being in the same production or room, let alone the biography of an upcoming band. The bands, shall we say… secondary causation (?), is a intercontinental gut rubmler of McDonald’s and Eva Green. I am hugely enamoured of Eva, and have occasionally been partially to a bit of corporate fast food, but never had these ideals or appetites in my mind simultaneously. Bobby Davro is a comic muse for the band, and a mere cursory reading of the band’s Facebook page, puts in my mind, strange cabaret and night clubs, where Davro chatters on, Coogan gets drunk, as Irons looks around crestfallen. McDonald’s remains lie strewn under chairs, and a local approximation of Eva Green serves behind the dimly lit bar. The band themselves loves people to see them, and have a bit of a sing-song, and dance; so it perhaps unsurprising or without irony that these seemingly disparate icons co-mingle within a communal space. The band are, as it happens, James Cotterill, Joe Dobes, Dan Arrowsmith and Andy Forshaw; four likely lads and blood brothers of a brilliant sound, that is going to cause some tremors and tectonic realignment, closer to the capital. The lads have been pioneering and playing for a few years now, and amounting an impressive collecting of sharp and memorable songs. As to elicit- I hope- a deeper retrospective appreciation of the band, I had my eyes focused upon ‘Lost’, which was the band’s first song, and written by Cotterill.
Starting out with a tumbling but taut guitar line, there is an instant sense of authentic Manchester; one can hear slight strains of the classic bands as well as the more recent ’90s wonders. In spite of everything, there is a great deal of originality, and was not drawn to an existing band or forced to compare the intro to an existing song. Maybe my ears are a bit off today but maybe there were little sparks of R.E.M. as the drums joined the beat and added heartbeats to the guitar. It is a harder, more youthful sonic approximation than the Georgia legends, but the sound builds and kicks slightly, as the vocal arrives. The tone has a lot of urgency and power to it, at times causing some indecipherable quality; not through lack of technique, but as an emotional punch as our hero is “Lost inside this lonely town“. Between the repetition of the aforemention line, there is a hint of Alex Turner-esque enunciation, but the vocal as a whole seems less weighted down by the world, able to have a fresh ’60s sound to it. It is admirable that the band keep the mood lighter, given some of the subject matter and there is no needless distortion or heavy guitar work; they are able to weave a pleasing and intelligent sound together that supplements and supports the vocals. Between the chorus and verse, are little constellations of guitar, bass and drum, that draws in sounds of the U.S. as well as little nods to ‘Good Times Bad Times’ in the tail end. Or maybe it is early The White Stripes; whatever comes to mind, it is a seamless link to the next verse, as again there is a strong and youthful vocal, with a vigour and weight behind it; not hamstrung, simply affected. I suspect that there is a little revocation of happiness; of soul or purpose as words such as “It is with my every day”are sung. The ensuing vocal play has a little of Turner and associated artists, but again sound fresh and incomparable to a large degree, which is pleasing. The sonic snatches are at once scratchy and fierce- complete with pummeling drums- and the next soft and still. By the 2:20 mark, the mood goes down and the atmosphere builds up and up, as the vocal comes back in. All the while the message remains true to the idea of being unsure or dislocated, but it is never a message that is hard-hitting or divisive; there is a warmth and comfort in the voice as well as the music. It is a hard truth or a unwanted realisation, but it is never weighing our protagnoist down too much, capable as he is, of creating a lively and electric mood, with the assistance of his trio of cohorts.
As I said about new bands: you just have to know where to find them. I have been focused on the north for a while and seems to be where the reservoir flows at the moment. Transition, Baby! are a band with a bright future and will improve and galvanize year by year, as confidence grows. They have recorded a set of brilliant tracks over the last 7 months which has illustrated their growth and powerful evolution. I will hopefully review one of those tracks another day, but wanted to see and hear how it all began for the band, and how much potential was there from the first notes. A lot, as it happens. There is a rare confidence and playfulness, and ‘Lost’ is a song with a focused and unchanging message that is simple and effective. The words and music will stay with you, and the entire band are tight and impressive throughout. The result is quite wonderful, and puts no doubt in my mind, that next year may see them playing large festivals and headlining, in fact. They are worth getting excited about, because, if we’re honest with ourselves…
… there are few new bands that can achieve so much so early on.