Sounds awash with musical sophistication and a blend of incisive song writing, and rock swagger- mean the Arizona four-piece will linger long in the memory.
Sweet Time is available at:
The album Listener (Deluxe Edition) is available at:
SOUNDS and sensations from the U.S.A. are subject to a rigorous…
inspection at border control and customs. For the serious music lover, as well as the casual observer, we in the U.K. need a varied diet, in order to grow and tempt the palette. The majority of sounds and acts that we are subjected to, tend to be British- with a few exceptions here and there. Whether it is northern rock and indie; Yorkshire swing and electro pop, or London-based urban grit, most of the focus still errs in favour of home-grown talent. It is understandable that it is near-impossible to keep an eye on all of the new bands and acts springing up throughout the world; yet emphasis should be placed on quality; and by broadening one’s horizons, a great quality can be found. It is quite obvious that the U.K. has its share of potential future-stars. The ambition and intention is all there and in place, but for every act that promises some fascination and closer scrutiny, there are a mass and horde of similar bands and solo artists, whom have very limited appeal and stock. A big problem that our musicians have, is that ambition and potency are passed over, in favour of force or diversity. Too many rambunctious and fervent indie acts are present on the scene: we can do with quite a few less in all honest. A lot of acoustic solo acts are around, and there seems to be an influx of rock/indie bands that tend to sound like one another. Once you form a band and put out an E.P. or album, or whatever you make as your first move; importantly, you have to do your research. Being in the position I am in, I am able to draw a Venn Diagram of ‘likeable acts’ and ‘challenging acts’, and tell you which (of the seldom few) names forms the intersect. I can also tell you which of the new acts, sound like another act. I tend to find that after a little while, an indie/rock act from Manchester says more-or-less the same as an indie/rock band from Wales. The songs may have slightly different themes, yet the abiding sound and tones tend to be too close for comfort. It is those groups whom are willing to be different, and toy with genres; mix sounds and influences; as well as push the creative envelope, whom gain the most impassioned regard. Over the last few months there have been a fair few acts that have understood this. From some ’50s doo-wop and swing sounds of Yorkshire, through to stoner rock-cum-psychedelic movements from Scotland, it has been a pleasure when discovering unexpected joys. The U.K.- as impoverished and struggling as we are- can still pull out all of the stops and inspire the young musician. We have the proud history and past glories to draw from; inject them into some modern-day motions, and elicit a fascinating and heady brew. The overall and worrying issue that I can see, if that there are few international and foreign influences to be heard in this country. Occasionally publications like The Guardian will point to a new European or Australian act; I may happen upon a group from Canada; and be compelled to read more about them; but by-and-large there is little consideration given to acts outside of the U.K. It seems quite insane when you think about the predicament we are in. With Twitter and Facebook giving so many people, the chance to connect with so many other people; it seems so easy to do it there. Yet when it comes to music: connecting the fan to different bands; reviewers to international flavours, and such; here we have the big problem. It is axiomatic that there are some phenomenal treats to be found throughout Europe, Australia, and beyond, yet how will we ever hear about it? One day I will figure out a way to galvanise the social media strands, and evaporate the balkanisation that exists; creating a source where bands from all countries can find a willing audience. It seems simple! On the website, we have a big map of the world. If you want to find a band from a particular country or city you would click (the city or country) on the map. From there you can funnel the results by genre, and find a list of the bands and acts present here. Or, if you want to do the reverse, and search by genre or acts that are influences by X, Y and Z; you would be able to find out that way; having various sections of the map highlighted accordingly (so you could then narrow down the results yourself). It seems like such a time-saver and would not only make people like me a lot less anxious and perturbed; but would assist the songwriter- like me- find band members and influential contemporaries. I sigh and rant of course; yet my point seems to be relevant and of-the-moment. If I hadn’t come across The Technicolors via Twitter- quite surreptitiously mind you- it is debatable whether I would have come across them so soon- a fact that annoys me greatly. Anyway, circling back to my mind thesis: we (in the U.K. and beyond) and missing out on a lot of talent, from a fertile and prosperous musical landscape…
To my mind, it is the U.S. which holds the most weight, in terms of the best non-U.K. music. From the Midwestern territories, through to L.A. and Seattle, along to New York and New Jersey; it is a nation that promises even more than our very own. Over the last 60 years or so, the U.S. has produced some of the greatest music ever. The best lyricists, most daring acts and most impressive current bands all emanate from America. With the proliferation of social media, there is no real excuse for ignoring U.S. acts and bringing them to the ears of us here in the U.K. As much as there is a homogenised scene and stifled ambition at our shores, the Americans seem to have a lot more clout and mobility about them. The Technicolors are a four-piece whom have struck upon a rare combination. For all the acts out there that have rock swagger; and all those whom have a sharp ear for classic song writing; there are few that marry the two, to proffer a stronger whole. Brennan, Michael, Nico and Kevin hail from Phoenix, Arizona: something that may confound many in this country, and bridle them somewhat. Territories like Nashville are only apparent to many, due to the music scene, and many here will not even know where Arizona lies; and what significance the state has. Apart from the likes of Authority Zero and Dead Hot Workshop, the state has had its fair share of musical representation. Towns and cities such as Tuscon have given us a lot of punk and indie music, from The Bled right through to The Deadbolts. Phoenix, however, is a positive mecca for musical innovation and potential. From the ’80s hard-core punk scene and the likes of Meat Puppets, through to more modern-day bands like Jimmy Eat world, Phoenix has seen a great many bands rise from the city’s embers, and inflame the music world. The hard-core punk scene, as well as metal have been prevalent and well-covered: a wide range of genres are represented and given fair assessment; and given Phoenix’s proximity to California and the Western Coast; it is not surprising. A lot of Hispanic influences are experimented with (as New Mexico is a neighbour), and bars and joints from Albuquerque to Santa Fe are inspiring Phoenix bands. The Technicolors have an appreciation for the local scenes, and have kept some punk and rock cores; blending that with sharp and intelligent song writing. Inspired by the likes of George Harrison and Roy Orbison, the band have an appreciation for British influences such as Led Zeppelin too; meaning that they will have a natural second home over here. The band’s 22-year-old front-man Brennan Smiley produced the band’s album Listener: a concise and authoritative record that shows the bands strengths and ambitions. Throughout 2011, the boys spent a lot of time playing in Arizona: enthralling the native crowds, and honing their sound. Bringing their big songs and big sounds to tiny bars, their reputation grew; many were enthralled by the sheer volume and passion of the band, which soon saw them in demand in California. The young band divide their time between touring and recording: dedicating little time to taking breath; devoted as they are to the art and business of music. They are aware that you need a relentless work ethic and a tireless energy in order to succeed, and this has contributed towards the respect and adulation many hold for the band. A wide range of influences go into their song writing: defined by quotable and insightful lyrics and brilliant swagger and beautiful melodies. Bruce Springsteen, Thin Lizzy and Tom Petty are key idols for the guys, and a sense of anthemic punch and stomp can be drawn between these legends and The Technicolors. More modern idols such as Oasis are important for the quartet, but a majority of their heroes played in the ’60s and ’70s, and were defined by their brilliant song writing. The band’s debut album has been described as: “The result is a mature collection of effervescent rock songs that echo late night summer drives as a young vagabond who doesn’t focus on the destination rather choosing to enjoy the journey at hand”. The track- and single- Sweet Time has been garnering a lot of praise and consideration; being seen as a typical slice of quality from the band, whom seem incapable of putting a foot wrong. The song goes to highlight the band’s mandates and ambitions: deftly weaving together tiny hints of influences; but very notably bringing their unique and original brand of music- fresh from Phoenix, to you.
Sweet Time begins with a rush and swagger, that proves its intentions straight from the off. With a scintillating and sexy riff, which has some classic blues edges, as well as some early-career Oasis, it is an intro. that is hard and passionate, and will get you standing to attention. When the percussion joins in on the act, it begins composed and measured; adding some weight, yet not encroaching too much or seeming too intense- it is a blend that shows shades of Led Zeppelin, circa Led Zeppelin IV. In just over 20 seconds, a lot of ground- both musical and emotional- has been covered; and a solid base has been formed. When our front-man makes his presence know, his voice is authoritative, yet relaxed: it is has a cool, laconic edge; an original and striking voice that has the delicate wisps of Liam Gallagher and Gaz Coombes, yet does not remind you too much of either. Initial thoughts show some doubts and implore: “Last night I just about took your hand/I wish I would”. Certain words are elongated; others given special consideration; bringing the words alive and adding emotion and relevance to certain sentiments (the word “brilliance” in the 3rd line is a particular example). If you beat and swing of the song portrays a band with some classic roots- where bands would not perhaps have the strongest grip on lyrics- the simplicity and intrigue that The Technicolors summon up, show a band whom can give the best of both worlds. For all my talk of the song having some classic and bygone roots, Sweet Time is a track that seems very much of-the-moment: fresh and electric, with themes that are as relevant today as they have ever been. From the initial bursts and rush that the group whip up, they take the pace down, allowing our front-man to show his softer side. With a delicate and quivering falsetto, it is said: “It’s alright if you don’t quite believe me/But only if you come a little closer to me”; the words are delivered with conviction and dignified restraint. In the way that kicking swagger-cum-sensitive edge blend seamlessly; gives the track a ready-made mobility, that could see it scoring a tense, taut T.V. drama, or a U.S. comedy-drama. The pervasive sense of bidding time (“I’m right here waiting to breathe”), and waiting for the girl to make her moves and mind up; are augmented by dirty and licking riffs, tight and solid bass, and clattering, punchy drum work. Our front-man’s voice is not limited to the potent single thread of sheer power: it has an impressive high; notes are bent and sparked, and the sense of movement is unerring. It is unsure who the object of the song’s affections is, yet she is causing quite a stir in our hero’s heart and mind (“So take me if you please/Yeah I think you should“). It is clear that there is a little hesitation in the heroine’s mind, regarding commitment and making a move. Our hero is standing firm and waiting for her: the song’s title seems to be delivered with a carefree abandon (although whether sarcasm is intended, I apologise). The hallmarks of a great band, and a great song, is the ability to mix mystery with directness; marrying hypnotic sounds with delicate and softer touches. The Technicolors have a knack for blending these facets together effortlessly; the abiding sound is alluring as well as to-the-bone. If the nature of the vocal confidence, as well as certain elements draw your mind to the shores of Oasis; then it is the barbed riffs that will take your mind away from the Manchester boys. Whereas Oasis had a habit of ‘borrowing’ heavily from past master such as T-Rex (with regards to riffs), our Phoenix boys have a far stronger originality. The guitar sounds are rooted in the U.S., and have a combination of ’70s style and modern-day bliss: the result is unexpected as well as exciting. It is always a difficult and precise job, when it comes to lyrics. Too many bands use too many words; fewer use too little. The Technicolors do not employ too many different thoughts, instead repeating lines like “If you hold your breath” and “come a little closer to me”: making these sentiments stick in your head, and project vivid scenes as well. Sweet Time‘s strengths lie in its structure. The initial moments of the song are bustling and stuffed with energy. The song gradually defragments and becomes softer, so by the closing stages the track has more of an indie flair. In the same way that Elbow’s One Day Like This ends with its infectious coda (“Throw those curtains wide/One day like this a year would see my right“); Sweet Time has a similar epic and stirring finale, anchoring the notions: “If you hold your breath/Then maybe you’d see I’m right here waiting to breathe”. The delivery is given a considered approach; the boys still keep the mood invigorated, but a touch of romantic longing and heart-tug are to be heard. Our hero has a voice that aches and implores; strikes and hugs, and that combination of soft and strong gives the song an extra layer of effectiveness. By the closing stages, the tale has been told, and one wonders whether the situations are resolved. The anonymous girl is being spoken to, yet one wonders whether the words made their mark; did things work out in the end, or are there lingering questions marks? Such is the strength of the track, that it leaves you wondering; but you are satisfied with either explanation, as the charm and smile of the track wins you over.
Many will reach for Oasis comparisons, declaring the song has a ’90s feel; yet there are bits of Wolfmother in the vocals too. It has been a comparison that many fans and reviewers have made, yet it is not an overwhelming issue; it is not something that you will keep jumping to. One of my pet peeves is a lack of originality: bands and acts that tend to just want to copy someone else out there. The Arizona quartet have a long and varied list of idols; and in the same way that some of Led Zeppelin’s 1970/’71 work can be heard in places (predominantly in the intro.), likewise it is not too heavy-handed or pertinent. The group have a fond and dedicated passion for music; combining swagger with intelligence and consideration; so it is only natural that some familiar shades will be detectable. Above all, the sounds and spirit of Sweet Time, have a unique and valuable sound, that shouldn’t be cheapened by too-obvious comparisons. The Listener album expands upon the bands mandates; stretching their sound and adding all sorts of different colours and moods into the pot. The guys have a huge following across social media- a regard that is not purely U.S.-born. Many other nations and sectors are latching onto their appeal, and becoming assimilated with their sharp and memorable songs. The swaying and potent riffs and compositions will appeal to the modern-day indie/rock fan, as well as champions of ’70s and ’90s greats. Intelligent and sophisticated lines will strike a chord with those whom favour cerebral edges to their music. When you join the two- perhaps polemic- strands, then (as well as it being a rarity), a whole wave of fans are won: both young and older. I naturally assume that the future for the band will see another album(s); as well as a lot of touring. The boys have a sound that will seem second-nature to the U.K., and I hope that they play a lot more over here. It is the likes of Australia, South America and Europe that will also clasp the band’s motifs to hear. The sounds will be familiar to the inhabitants here, and The Technicolors will have a ready-made audience waiting- providing that the media can spread the word effectively, and help give the boys their dues. It seems that a majority of the U.K.’s new bands are favouring heavier sounds: forgetting about aspects other than potent projection and rock stomp. In that sense, there is a bit of a stagnation happening; one that is crying out for some international assistance. The U.S. is probable the largest music market, and is possibly the fastest-growing market too. It would be great to see The Technicolors ply their trade in the U.K., and bring their blends here. With so much emphasised put on young bands and acts here, some U.S. talent would ease the burden for our fledgling artists. The four-piece are going to be around for some time, and it is probably wise…
TO grab tight, and let their music take a hold.