The romantically-explosive five-piece bring their blend of classic English majesty and current-day U.S. rock forth. Prepare to jump right aboard.
You is available at:
Their latest album, Slings & Arrows, is available at:
TAKING gambles in the music industry can take many different forms…
with consideration to bands, and newer acts. From the off, eyes and ears are focused to your sound, look and projection- a lot of time critics are waiting to pick acts apart. I have long harped on about originality- or lack thereof within the market- and it is harder now, more than ever, to set yourself apart. International acts seem to have an easier time of it, when it comes to original sounds and making an impact. Recently, I have been summarising the potency of new bands from the likes of Sweden, Canada and EIRE. It is always refreshing and exciting hearing great acts from other nations. With the media being overly-concerned with the home-grown act; as soon as a foreign sound gets through, it is always fascinating. European acts and talent from the likes of Sweden are producing intelligent and punchy music; mainly indie and disco/dance-flavoured vibes. Across Canada and the U.S. there is a bit more of a variation: from rock and indie clout; through summery, simmering pop; and all the way through to folk. As great as it is to hear some international groups, one suspects that more need to come through. Not to topple our acts, but to provide influence, support and alliance: creating a more vibrant and diverse market. In the U.K. there are no barriers with regards to making music. If you are based in the bedroom; gigging in the garage; or if you are a fully-fledged studio act, there is an outlet and audience waiting. Problems occur along the way, invariably. Due to the sheer mass of talent coming through, weaker bands and acts tend to die out or get buried. Some never really hit their stride, and spent a career in a creative quagmire: always fighting against the tide. For all of the fly by night groups; all of the second-rate acts, there are some incredible and exciting talent lining up- imperiously waiting for patronage and due respect. There are some key considerations and formulas that are present, when summating a great band’s appeal. Lack of constrictions, both in terms of geography and creative movement is one aspect; so too is the particular band’s influences. For all the horrors and errors that you see with regards to incorporating influence: leaning too heavily towards another band, and sounding too similar; if you add just the right touches to the mix, then the results can be quite something. To my mind, if you have all other considerations sewn up, and there is just one consideration left; you often leave one question out there: if I am going to mix and incorporate a few different sounds; then what should they be? It is always wise to include some influences of Australia, as well as Europe: in terms of the great sounds of the ’70s- and yes-’80s; bolstering that to some modern-day shades. The best mix is, and always will be; combining U.K. and U.S. Currently the U.S. have the best acts and bands around (The National, Queens of the Stone Age etc.); yet historically it has been the U.K. which has turned out the greatest music. The U.S.A. are showcasing stoner rock and psychedelic sounds; sharp and fascinating lyricism in terms of the words and sound; as well as terrific movements from new and established bands. I have my eyes firmly focused on the shores of Q.O.T.S.A, The National, and Laura Marling (honorary American-elect); as well as the new breed such as The Technicolors and The Open Feel. The nation is producing a wave of exhilarating, inspiring and awesome music. There is also a huge bank and reserve of phenomenal music, that is distinctly unique: it belongs to us. As far back as the ’60s where the likes of The Beatles ruled; through to the explosive range and peerless-ness of the ’90s; through to the modern-day clan, our nation has produced the greatest music there has ever been. This is especially true when considering the band market, and there have been few challengers from the U.S., by comparison. So it seems that if you are a band whom have your sound worked out; you have your kinship cemented and are confident in your skins; then the final consideration seems axiomatic: mix together older U.K. and new U.S.- in order to put that cherry on the icing.
There a few bands out there named The Chase. One hail from Arkansas; and another is from France- although they may not be, as I don’t speak French (joke, by the way). Blighty’s example are far better than their namesakes; employing a sound which has been making waves and winning plaudits since 2004. Like a lot of great bands, the line-up changed a bit; until the final, current formation was cemented in 2010. The guys consist of guitarist and vocalist Michael Turvey; rhythm guitarist Harry Street; bass player Luke Jerome; Ralph Humby’s percussion, and saxophone, backing vocals and keys from Ben Riley. It is a galvanised and solid band of brothers, that are not lead by dictatorship or an imposing centre. Unlike U.S. giants such as Queens of the Stone Age, the intrigue and dominance does not come solely from the front-man; and neither do most of the creative decisions. The Chase have a greater collaborative spirit, and have shown themselves to be very business-like and wise, with regards to their output and designs. As well as am impressive official website, which is easy to navigate and very informative, they have a full and dedicated online coverage, that makes it easy to track the guys down. Together with this eye for detail, they have a terrific ear for blending sounds and influence. Our boys have a love of the current- and fairly recently defunct- bands such as The White Stripes and Kings of Leon, but also have a passion for the classic English acts such as Small Faces, The Who and The Jam. As you can probably tell (from the aforementioned) the guys have a penchant for the more electrifying and harder end of the spectrum: they favour more masculine and dominant sounds; choosing heady rush and rock spirit, in order to create their signature sound. With a large online following, and a great live reputation, it is safe to say that they are definitely on the right course. They understand how overcrowded and jam-packed the current scene is- and just how many musicians have no place being where they are. Tying in their level-headed business aesthete: getting out onto social media, and drawing in worldwide support; the band also took their sound as far and wide as they could on the road: exciting and winning over clans of fans from all around the country- as well as the globe. Combined with a core sound which is at once steeped in history, and fresh and essential; they are fully-deserving of their status and situation. Their debut album ‘Ever, Never or Now?’ was released back in October of 2010, and saw them met with acclaim and high regard: critics and media were fast to promote the merits of the endeavouring five-piece. Their follow-up L.P. Slings & Arrows, was launched at a home-coming gig in Southend and met with huge local pride. Reviews in the media, as well as on iTunes has been rapturous, with listeners impressed with the urgency and authority that lies within; songs that marry the polemics and D.N.A. of U.S. and U.K. young and old; tying it together around lyrics that speak to everyone. The boys are sharply-dressed and cool, and look very much the part: no awkward band portraits or nervy imagery, just confidence and conviction. This comes through in their tracks, and it gives the impression that the quintet have been doing this for decades- rather than a few short years. Plans for the future vary, but resting and relaxing do not count amongst them. A third album is on its way, and promises treasures aplenty; touring and live dates are also on the calendar, and the quest to recruit as many fans and followers will carry on unabated. Their summer schedule contains some illustrious and sought-after gigs, and the lads are preparing by playing some more low-key venues at the moment- combining their new tracks with classics from Small Faces. The weight and potency that was produced by their Slings & Arrows album is still very much present; with the single You, causing quite an excited stir. On YouTube, the video for the song has amassed over 10,000 views, with 171 ‘Likes’ (and no ‘Dislikes’-quite a mean feat!). For a website that contains so many contemptuous and sex-starved morons, spilling hate and bile in the ‘Comments’ section to every video; The Chase have received nothing but glowing praise and support. Having steered clear of the pitfalls and cockroach traps of YouTube, our five lads should be proud (of many things). They have managed to rise above the parapet of critical disregard and naivety; circumvented the will of the most jealous of new bands, and managed to strike out on their own; calibrating their sound and potency by the month. Where so many bands have failed: going in too hard with little sense of direction or long-term future; a poor and bare-boned business plan; a derivative and cliché sound; the five-piece from the south of England have; well… done rather bloody well. As anticipation rises for the third L.P.; it is You’s hallmarks, swathes and subtleties that I have been investigating…
The opening salvos and moves that You pervades, is awash with youthful energy and potential. Anyone wanting to hint at initial influence may have their minds taken to the camp of The Stereophonics as well as Arctic Monkeys- but will have a hard time making any solid comparisons with regards to a song or album companion- such is the immediacy and sound of the intro. A few brief drum beats join with a striking and blazing riff: one that sways and hits, but is not too heavy-handed or distorted- instead refreshing and intriguing. When our front-man’s voice arrives; it is a slightly easier job when hinting at possible comparable/similarities. As much as I have been on a quest to tirade against any obvious mimicking; our hero, however has some very distinct personal shades. Sounds of Liam Gallagher and Alex Turner can be heard; joining a Manchester and Sheffield divide together, to present a vocal that has mid-90s Britpop-cum-modern-day indie/alt. If your senses and intuition pulls you towards thoughts of a Definitely Maybe/Suck It and See hybrid, the vocal mood and lyrics will drag them clean away. Whereas the aforementioned may mix cutting cynicism and tales-of-the-modern-street with ’60s-esque pop thesis; our boys have something modern and more relevant; and something that is both upbeat and impassioned. Our hero speaks of tales from the heart: “I miss your face” and “you’re always on my mind”. There is a sincerity and earnestness to the sentiment, which when tied to the uplifting and spirited backing, augments the song and unveils a smiling and energised stride. The unnamed paramour that is alluded to, is causing our hero to ask why a pretence is kept up; why the two are apart and fooling themselves- our hero “see no sense” as to the logic of it. There is no spite; no diatribe against love and no sense of bitterness (that a vast modern core would project): there is an honesty and tenderness that is at its core, that is hard to ignore. The sense of longing and belonging is emphasised in the chorus, which is the embodiment of a good-time vibe; a heady rush of a summer-ready anthem. Our front-man goes to sleep thinking of the anonymous heroine- someone whom is causing more of a stir as the song progresses. The band performance is tight and emotive throughout, with the bass and guitar providing a controlled and elastic centre; whereas the percussion counterpoints and ballasts with some persistent punch and energy. In a way the group have more in common with the British groups of the ’60s, displaying the same infectious spirit and heart as the likes of The Beatles- with enough Small Faces in there too. Thoughts and revelations are kept on the positive and romantic side, as our hero sings: “I just need to see you smiling”; the themes and verdancy of the song shares more with the ‘Madchester’ and London bands of the early/mid-’90s (crosses between The Bluetones’ Expecting to Fly and The Charlatans’ The Only One I Know come through). It is the ear for melody and catchiness (not in a bad way; a very genuine one), that The Chase get their messages across. When the chorus comes back around, it seems as if the guys are constitutionally incapable of being down; of portraying anything negative. Our hero is caught up in the sunshine of the mood, proclaiming (to his unknown beau): “You’re the only dream I have”. The way in which the composition- with its classic ’60s sound-cum-modern-day U.S.-via ’90s Britpop- displays an unbeatable energy and enthusiasm, the vocal does not come off as too doe-eyed or sweet-natured. The vocal display is authoritative and convincing, but has enough northern England edge to the tones to make it both romantic and harder-edged: giving the song a much more relatable sound. With some impassioned and empowered guitar work showing its hand towards the closing moments; the momentum and wave of energy gets a new lease of life, to keep you hooked to the end.
I have been delving deep into the music archives lately; expanding my palette, and reintroducing my brain to some rather incredible sounds. Lately the cut-and-paste plunderphonics of Australia’s The Avalanches have stuck in my head. Their debut (and only album to date) Since I Left You is in need of a long-overdue follow-up, as the tracks and innovative spirit that lies within are in dire need today. Aside from the title track and Frontier Psychiatrist, there are a wealth of variegated and fascinating cuts, that to my mind, have yet to be topped- in terms of their effect and potency. Full of summery son, hip hop twists and sound collages, it is a testament to a hungry young group, whom seem to encapsulate the spirit of the time- late ’99-’00. I mention it because the amount of hard work, dedication and attention to detail that must have gone into that L.P. are apparent in every note. Even the early-mid ’90s pop and indie pioneers loaded their anthems and albums with such due care, that it is hardly a shock that they were so adored and emulated. Over the last years- not that music is being ‘phoned-in’- but there is less attention and consideration given to the intricacies, nuances and aftertastes of music: what can be achieved- at that moment and retrospectively- if that extra ounce of effort is put in. Pushing the envelope is not enough. You have to stuff it with fireworks and shove it in a bonfire, just to get- a somewhat fickle and homogenised- media to pay attention and keep you in mind. The Chase’s trump card comes in the form of simplicity. Where as lesser bands and lesser minds may see simplifying music as a regression; it is the pure-hearted honesty and openness of You, which is near-ineffable. Attempts are made to recapitulate the glories of ’60s/’70s U.K. and modern-day U.S., yet few successfully do. In the band market there is still an over-reliance on sound, force and power in every track: little thought is given to subtlety. It is the hook-laden joy of the track, as well as the earnest openness and romantic heart which gives the song its stripes. The band are tight and focused throughout, adding layers of richness to the track, and not spooning in various components too liberally: everything is given due consideration for atmosphere. The southern boys are very much a band of men, yet many would say You is the type of number a boy band would normally attempt. If the central heart and blood flow suggests similarities it is the projection and quality of the track that steers you away from such sloppy comparisons. There are no saccharine touches, no cloying lyrics; and a complete lack of naivety: it is simply a great and memorable number. For too long there have been too few bands from the south of England, whom have caught my ear. Many of the current best reside in the north as well as Yorkshire (and Scotland) yet London and the south tends to be under-represented. It is refreshing that The Chase are making waves to putting the southern counties back on the U.K. music map; with their unique brand of song. With a new L.P. on the horizon, it will be interesting to see which direction the 5-piece take. Whether they will stick with their tried-and-tested sound; or expand to incorporate heavier underpinnings and a certain swagger, is to be seen. They should have no fear, as the Slings & Arrows set show that the life they have in them, is fertile and in need of progeny. The remainder of the year will see the boys tour and bring their current songs to audiences far and wide- as well as ready themselves for their next record. For the moment take a listen to You, and all it offers, as the band’s trajectory will be an exciting and busy one:
AND much-deserved too.