E.P. Review: Los and the Deadlines- PART ONE: BANK

E.P. REVIEW:

 

 

 

Los and the Deadlines

 

 

 

 

PART ONE: BANK

 

 

9.8/10.0

 

The E.P. PART ONE: BANK is available from

https://soundcloud.com/losandthedeadlines/sets/caffeine-ep/s-0QgfD

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A much-needed kick to combat the meteorological awfulness of winter; the London-based Los’ boys return with a heady brew.  The E.P.’s title suggests potential follow-ups.  On the evidence of ‘PART ONE…’: I damn well hope so.

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THIS weekend is unusually busy for me, it seems….

as January seems to be the month that most new musicians are unleashing fresh attacks.  Over the last week or so, I have been featuring solo artists and wondering what sort of sounds are being presented over the first few days of 2014.  I guess it isn’t surprising that there should be so much preparation and fervency so early on, as the first months of the year are the pivotal moments to release new music.  We have said goodbye to 2013 and are preparing ourselves for what this year holds.  I guess last year- in terms of new music- was synonymous with the band market.  There seemed to be a raft of fresh-faced groups rising through the ranks, all of whom were presenting their own tones and ideals.  In my previous blog posts, I have perhaps been a little critical or dismissive of the band market; it seems that a lack of originality or drive is being put out.  In 2013 I witnessed too many band whom were determined to be the ‘next Arctic Monkeys’- unaware that we already have Arctic Monkeys- and they are far better than any band trying to mimic them.  It is admirable that certain bands enforce your creativity and inspire you, yet when preparing your own sounds, it is vital that enough individuality and difference is injected, so that the resultant music is original.  I feel that this year will see a revival in that sense, and welcome in groups that have a bit of flair and substance to them.  If you look at the mainstream, we have terrific bands whom are showing how it should done.  The likes of Arcade Fire, The National, Daft Punk and Queens of the Stone Age are just a few examples, yet between them offer a whole host of differing sounds, sights and sensations.  Too often I have encountered groups that feel that the only way for success is to live vicariously through other groups.  In a sense it could see short-term benefits, yet in the long-term they will be swiftly forgotten about.  Bands have the relief of having several member to not only shoulder some of the day-to-day burdens, yet provide creative input.  The solo act has to take everything on board themselves, and ensure that everything is in place and running smoothly- with little help from anyone else.  For that reason, it is essential that band music is as good as possible, as there are few excuses they can offer if it is no.  I have featured the likes of Crystal Seagulls recently; a London-based band whom have been making intrepid moves, and seem a sure-fire hit for the coming year.  One of the biggest focuses for me, when reviewing music, is the location of the associated act.  Most of my musings from 2013 featured bands from northern England, as well as Scotland.  I reviewed several groups from Europe and the U.S., yet when looking at the U.K., the majority of my focus has been primed to the northern climbs of the country.  I have often felt that there has been a glaring lack of new bands and artists emanating from London.  It is, after all, our capital, so stands to reason that there should at least be a fairly hefty chunk of new acts from here.  Bands from areas outside of the capital perhaps have more room to move.  There is a comparative lack of overcrowding, and perhaps this freedom does not stifle creativity.  It seems that whatever the reason is, there should be investigation, as I am sure that there are multitudes of new musicians (in London), all willing to make their mark.  I shall leave that point for now, and conclude with one final one: the lack of great rock bands.  From my reconnaissance of new music, I have been spectacle to some terrific acts- each of whom offer something unique.  The north of England has given soul, swing, pop and blues; the south coast has given up sunshine pop and metal, and within Europe and the U.S. I have heard disco, electro-pop and psychedelic.  Rock is perhaps the most populated of genres (in terms of the mainstream), yet I have heard few new acts that have made an impression in this sense.  Rock and hard rock are sides of music that intrinsically offer excitement, brutality as well as sex appeal.  Whereas lesser-known genres can provide intrigue, intelligence and something new, it is essential that the rock flame is kept alight.  As I mentioned, bands like Crystal Seagulls have been making great strides in this area, as well as Scottish band Universal Thee.  Elsewhere in the U.K., I have struggled hard to locate any similar acts at all.  Curioser and curioser!  Things in 2014 will see a shift away from this (deficit), as I am seeing a lot of new acts coming through- whom can offer solid rock templates.  The past year has seen too many vague and insipid pop acts; too many acoustic nobodies, as well as rambling noise and blurriness.  Focus is needed, and I feel that it is not only possible that we will see an overhaul of the current order, but a necessary remedy for the current malaise.

Arriving shotgun on the crest of the wave are the pioneering folk, Los and the Deadlines.  I have featured these brave boys once before, when summating their single Watch It Fall (https://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/los-and-the-deadlines-watch-it-fall-track-review/)  This was my first exposure to the band, and I was left reeling slightly.  At the time of the review, I was a little suffocated and fatigued by workload, and felt that a lot of the acts I have reviewed before them lacked the necessary bite to stay in my memory.  When I had completed listening to Watch It Fall, I was left smiling, as it seemed that the chaps had confidence, boldness and a clear vision of where they want to be.  On their Facebook page, the group have defined themselves, thus: “With a gut-wrenching and heart pounding sound that has been called post-grunge and prog, Los and the Deadlines have become an indisputable rock band. Tongue-in-cheek observational lyrics, thrashing riffs, thumping rhythms and a healthy amount of reverb give you the Deadlines sound.  Their wittiness, chants and intense energy give Los and the Deadlines a very unique style that has had them compared to the likes of The Pixies, Queens of the Stone Age, Deftones and Tom Waits”.  I can testify to everything written here, as thrash and thump are perfectly acceptable terms to describe Los and the Deadlines; they can cherry-pick words that stick in your brain, and there is energy and pomp in everything they do.  So far the band have a little under 1,500 fans on Facebook, and I am sure they will be in five figures come the end of this year.  Before I closely look at their music and trajectory, I shall introduce the guys to you.  Although the four-piece band are rooted in London, the members all emanate from separate quarters of the globe.  Our participants, are as defined:

Alex LoSardo- Vocals and Guitar
Niels Bakx – Guitar
Agostino Collura – Bass
Alberto Voglino – Drums

As you can detect from the names, there is international flair and curiosity to be found.  If one were to investigate the official site for the band, you can see that our quartet are a bearded brand of brothers, all looking like bona fide rock god.  First impressions makes you think about the likes of The Mars Volta and Foo Fighters.  From looks alone, you would imagine their sound to be heavy and hard, but with Latin and, perhaps Hispanic, oeuvres.  The boys are approachable and humble as well, and have down-to-earth and likeable personalities.  They are a band that are readymade for the mainstream, and are a refreshing break from the baby-faced bland bands that we are subjected to.  In terms of the influences the lads have, are Queens of the Stone Age and The Mars Volta.  These are two of my favourite bands- especially the former- and there is a slight tinge of U.S. stoner and psychedelic rock to be heard within their tapestries.  Foo Fighters, Tool and Rage Against The Machine are also counted as influences, as well as legends such as Tom Waits.  From surveying that list you may imagine that the sounds of Los’ would only appeal and speak to fans of those acts- for those whom prefer their music raw and primal.  Like Q.O.T.S.A. and Foo Fighters the quartet have a great ear for melody, a knack for portraying and unfurling rock gems, as well as an amiable and fun-loving outer shell.  There is no harsh crust to be found with our boys: they are a band that admire their fans and are keen to welcome all.  At the moment they are building a steady fan base on Twitter, and are bringing their music as far and wide as possible.  Although the majority of their gigs- past and future- are centred in London, there is a need and desire from farer reaches, to hear the band’s unique brand of wonder.  It is no coincidence that I have latched onto the band so strongly, as they have a sound that is familiar, yet striking and different enough to take your mind in several directions.  They have the guts and dynamism of the Mars Volta chaps; they have the stoner-rock hardness and punch of Queens’- as well as a rambunctious and brutal edge.  The latest E.P. from the four-piece is the peak of the last few months of hard work and effort the guys have put in.  It codifies, numerates and indemnifies their ambitions, directions and mandates, and is a huge and stunning statement.  It seems that the actual recording itself was completed very quickly; the band keen to make the record as fresh and urgent as possible.  There are no endless remixes and re-recording; the boys knew what they wanted their songs to sound like, and captured them hard and true.  You can hear this come through across the five tracks, and it is an E.P. that is edge-of-the-seat yet assured and filled with nuance and musicianship.  Before I get down to the business of the songs themselves, I will finish with a point about image and marketing.  One of the greatest things about the band, is that they have an impressive online portfolio.  Too many musicians tend to negate the importance of having an official website- feeling that social media outlets alone are enough.  In this age, where competition is fierce and multitudinous, it is crucial to ensure that as many people as possible can be made aware of your music.  Los and the Deadlines have a thorough and compressive spread across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube; yet have a stunning official website.  All the tour dates, reviews and biographical information is there, as well as video and photos of the boys in action- and in the studio.  If you look at the cover to the E.P. PART ONE: BANK, is the cover image that strikes you hardest.  In addition to the stylish lettering and background, the focal image is a skeletal figure, bedecked in a suit carrying a briefcase.  It appears to be a banker, yet one whom has been ravaged as is deathlike.  Whether it is a metaphor for the banking industry; the economic situation or the nature of professionals and their efficacy and ethics, it is not sure.  In the same way as bands such as Q.O.T.S.A. and The Mars Volta present stunning album covers with gothic and twisted imagery, Los and the Deadlines do likewise.  The E.P. cover seems like a mix between modern-day Pixies-cum-modern-day-Queens of the Stone Age.  Before you even hit ‘play’ there is fascination rustled up.  I am hoping that the title of the E.P.- PART ONE: BANK- suggest that we may be in for a trilogy of E.P.s perhaps with different themes or the continuation of a storyline.  Whatever the boys have in mind will be exciting to see, as they have a fresh momentum, and it seems that they have plenty of inspiration and determination to record new releases very soon.  I shall get to the songs, as they are the most important factor, but one thing is clear: the band have a clear objective of where they want to be, and how big they deserve to be in 2014.

From The Park Studios, Wembley via your brain comes the latest cut from Los and the Deadlines, PART ONE: BANK.  Having witnesses several of their previous steps, I was assured that I would love the new E.P.  I was not disappointed.  The track Familiar Faces kicks off the latest E.P.  Whereas their previous E.P. Metro Talk kicked you hard from the first seconds, here there is some laying-in and build-up.  Spiralling from an intro. that is trippy and hypnotic, we hear twangy and watery guitar splashes.  It is the sound of Doctor Who theme meets wild west soundtrack, as guitar layers subtly play off of one another.  After the brief sonic overview, our singer steps to the mic. slowly annotating: “I decided/To watch the news today“.  LoSardo’s voice takes its time to make sure the words are felt; he has a slight twang of Caleb Followill as well.  From what our frontman has seen, he is not liking the news.  Negativity and familiarity scenes are being witnessed, and each thought and line is trickled and slowly flows.  Before long, a spiralling and twirling guitar line starts to build, as you can sense explosion is imminent.  At the 1:17 mark we get the first glimpses of this potential as a percussive beat signals a mood shift.  As our hero watches the T.V. with “a million faces” the gravitational pull starts to suck you in.  All the band members unite and whip up a storm of emotion and tension.  LoSardo keeps his voice restrained and on-point as he surveys the scenes and carnage.   With “smiles glowing bright“, the teeth come out as a punchy and snarly guitar riff is unleashed.  As the chorus comes into view, there is perhaps a hint of Foo Fighters to be detected in the undertones.  The same grit and slam that Grohl’s crew pull out the back on every track is seen here, as the band rumble and pummel around a striking vocal line.  There is a quiet-loud dynamic demonstrated throughout.  After the rush of the chorus, the pace and electricity is dimmed down and a more sedate interval is presented.  Our hero “decided to read the paper” (perhaps to  take his mind off of the T.V.) backed with a chugging and bait-and-switch guitar lash.  When the chorus comes back around, its “smiles glowing brightly“, a nifty grunge fragment is heard, reminiscent of Soundgarden’s masterpiece Superunknown.  There is subtlety as well as force behind the band’s projection; rumbling and kicking percussion and guitar arrives; it dies down, before coming back up again- creating a sonic rollercoaster.  Our hero’s voice has a gravelly growl to it which adds gravitas to lyrics that concern lying media outlets, and the purposefulness of their propaganda.  Guitar rolls and percussive slams have an air of Foo Fighters, modern-day Queens’ as well as R.A.T.M, yet at its heart it is very much the blood and D.N.A. of Los and the Deadlines.  As the track comes to its conclusion, percussion teases and tees guitars; guitars grumble and rumble as the chorus is reintroduced for its final curtain call.  The outro to Familiar Faces is one of the best I’ve heard in years, and is the perfect conclusion to an exhausting, exhilarating and potent opener.  How Will You Pose suggests that we may be allowed room for breath, as its intro begins life as a twinkling and funky parable.  There is a bit of disco-metal and a definite flamboyance to the intro., as the catchy and intoxicating spirals implore you to shake you head and tap you feet.  As our hero ponders: “How do you pose for pictures“, your mind is very much seduced and mesmerised by the fleet-footed rush of the music- both psychotropic and cheeky.  Befittingly, the lyrics also contain sly grins.  Where as the opener concern the media and the depression of the news, here we are investigating social media; photos and ‘friendships’.  LoSardo delivers a few words; pauses; delivers a few more and repeats: effectively ensuring that the words are heard, felt and delivered with the maximum acuity.  The subject of social media and all its inequities and vagrancy has been covered a few times in song, yet none as effectively and memorably as here.  The track as epic and anthemia pretentions, yet is covering a theme that breaks from the realms of anger, paranoia and dislocated love- instead infusing humour and vivacity into a topic we all can relate to.  The song is not an empty and soulless thrash; the band weave subtle guitar lines; time shifts and detours, ensuring that the fascination and energy levels are at a premium.  Bass and drum work are especially impressive.  The bass is taut and metronomic at times; striking and foreboding the next, whist the drumming is constantly mobile and captivating.  The combination of swampy and creepy guitar smashes tied with arpeggio intervals is particularly pleasing, and is one of the ace cards that the band so often play.  The chorus is again memorable and effective, and will lodge firmly in your head.  In a period where social media mendacity, and- for God’s sake- ‘selfies’ are in vogue, it is a timely track, and one that perfectly denounces its purposelessness.  With an immediacy and a bracing beginning, This Is My Place is the antepenultimate track.  There is little build-up, as our frontman gets to work right off the bat.  Telling stories about tracking down bars to get “my first beer“, themes shift to topics of a more personal nature.  The band are not your run-of-the-mill folk where every song is about love and relationships.  Stories and tangible imagery is offered in every track, and one imagines LoSardo cruising the streets and swaggering from bar to bar, perhaps with a cigarette lodged behind one of his ears.  Again the vocal projection is key, with words carefully enunciated, ensuring that they do not get buried beneath the rush of the composition.  As we hear of lonely street corners, and fakery, I am reminded slightly of Steely Dan.  There is almost jazz-like noodling and curious little avenues of sound explored, as the consciousness of Becker and Fagen circa-Pretzel Logic can be found.  A compliable ear for poetry and descriptiveness is detectable as well, whilst the combined elements from each in the band entwine spectacularly.  Again there are interchangeable shifts, and quieter moments and headier pulses sit alongside one another.  Our hero has found his ‘local’, where he says he can “spend my days“.  In a bar where the guys make no sense and the girls have nothing to say, the clientele seem to be wasters; yet the benefits of “free drinks” seems to cancel out the negatives.  Again, the band are keen to tell a story and display their humorous side.  You imagine yourself in this bar- whether it is in London or elsewhere- and get a real sense of the scenes, sights and smells that our frontman is ‘enjoying’.  There seems to be a sense of Americana and a real U.S. twang, not only to the vocals, but also to the overall sound.  You cannot detect any clear influence (it is very much Los’ at work), but there is a Country-cum-Blues flavour to the track.  Everything here is more relaxed and hazy- appropriate given the song’s themes.  LoSardo’s vocals are powerful throughout, and he has quite a powerful set of pipes on him.  The rest of the band also contributes vocals to create a great sing-along merriment- the boys are getting their drink on and safely ensconced within their local watering hole.  Again Q.O.T.S.A. guitar majesty nestles alongside some Steely-esque moments.  It is another track which keeps the pace and lightning striking hard, and yet another huge song.  Our fourth example is Caffeine, and (perhaps fittingly) begins with a striking drum beat.  The percussive smash sets up another twirling and intriguing guitar passage,   The vocal energy is more breathless and rapid-fire as the syncopated spit dispenses words at a hurricane force rate.  The listener is sucked in and barely has time to comprehend or take in what is being said; as though our frontman has just finished his 100th espresso.  I noticed some flecks of Grohl in the vocals- as well as the drumming- and our frontman has similar roar and passion.  As he sings “How I want you/How I need you” with reckless abandon, it is a paen and love note to an intoxicating muse.  Whether there is subtext concerning a relationship or sweetheart I am not sure, yet it is clear that the drug of choice may not necessarily concern love.  The song provides a nice change of pace from the previous three, and the headiness and rapidity is an unexpected treat.  The band sound like they are having the time their lives and the simpatico and tightness of all four is impressive indeed.  It is sure to be a live staple, and a track that has ‘single’ written all over it.  After a sojourn of contemplating and relaxation, a furious and brutal guitar squall comes to the fore; backed by mighty percussion and bass.  This blends and flows into the chorus, which stands out as one of the catchiest of the E.P.  Kudos goes to Alberto Voglino, whose arms must have been hanging off by the end of the track.  He is a veritable percussive octopus; able to sustain a psychotic drumroll and not lose any pace or momentum.  The percussion is tremendous and has a little of No One Knows, mixed with some Mars Volta magic.  It is a facet that brings the track to a conclusion, and leaves the hungry listener, salivating, sweating and watery-eyed.  The swansong is Standing In The Bank, and perhaps the biggest indication as to the E.P. title’s meaning and derivation.  Our protagonist has a few coins and notes as he stands in the bank; the lines are again carefully delivered, yet fast and filled with potency.  There are hallmarks of Mars Volta and something more progressive at work.  Guitar shades are at once striking and punctuating, and the next transform into something noodling and cascading.  There is definitely some overt anger and anxiety at work, as tales of extortion and twisted scenes give the impression of a young man- and young band- angry with the state of things.  The guitars are almost struck sarcastically (such as Jonny Greenwood did during Radiohead’s Creep); our hero bitterly volleying his lyrics.  One suspects that there was a smile on LoSardo’s face as he spins lines about waiting three minutes to be seen, a bank employee asking “How do you do?  What can we do?  How much you got?“.  It is clear that disaffection and regret enforce a lot of the lyrics.  Our frontman only has “five bucks“, yet has to fill in forms and wait to be seen; seemingly waiting to be screwed over and disappointed.  It is another song which takes unusual and unheard-of subjects, and gives them a humorous and fascinating interpretation.  As the song’s title is bellowed and yelled, one gets the sense that our boys have heard and seen too much, and reached the end of their tethers.  The song fades down, and the themes and images presented during Standing In The Bank, may hint at what- a possible- E.P. number 2 holds.  As the final song reaches its end, you are left to wonder and ponder what has been heard.  We have heard everything from the functionalities of social media; the addictiveness of caffeine as well as the financial sector and dingy, but homely, bars.  The band cover a wide spectrum and a lot of ground but rarely speak of love or break-up.  Whether this indicates happy hearts or an intelligent break away from well-worn subjects is unclear, but I am impressed hugely by what I have heard.  The originality of the songs’ themes is only bettered by the forcefulness and effectiveness of the band themselves.  The playing is exemplary and mesmeric throughout, and the pace never lets up.  The percussion, drums and bass change shape and nature constantly, which keeps you on your toes and pulls your brain in several directions.  The vocals are strong and considered and the delivery throughout is clear and concise; containing both primal energy and coolly-detached affectation.  The boys are tight and taut throughout and although there are five tracks and a running time of over 20 minutes, there is never a sense of overfeeding or bloating.  By the end you are keen for more, and I for one are already champing at the bit for more music from our bold quartet.

Well, then.  Sorry the review has been so long and elongated, but Los and the Deadlines are a band that have inspired me to write at length.  This year is going to be one of the toughest ever for new acts, and it is no exaggeration that our London boys will be amongst the most celebrated come the end of the year.  They have wisely released the E.P. early on, keen to make a big impression as soon as they can.  From here they will have the impetus and momentum to take these new songs on the road- around the U.K. as well as London.  I am hoping that foreign nations will call, and their sound has a universal appeal that can see them as firm favourites across the U.S., Australia, northern Europe as well as Asia.  It is evident that the guys will be in demand this year.  The guys have gigs already booked for several dates this year, and they will be a firm fixture across London.  The songs within PART ONE: BANK show a restless and ambitious band at their peak.  The kinship and interplay between the boys is brilliant, and there are no cracks or gaps to be heard.  They blend their individual parts effortlessly and are a tight and powerful group.  The solo acts of this year will have their hands full, but will have to work hard to make impacts on the scene.  When it comes to bands and groups, there is a different struggle that faces them.  In terms of creative input, there is perhaps less of a struggle, but when it comes to originality and competition, each new act should be wary.  With the augmentation and swelling of the band market, there are a huge number of participants all trying to grab a commercial foothold.  Several are genuinely worthy and merit-worthy; yet so many seem to be insipid and unfocused.  The reason that so many are buried and cremated at an embryonic stage, is that the sounds they proffer are well-trodden and overused.  I have an inner radar for predicting a band’s lifespan and future prosperity.  Given everything I know about the Los and the Deadlines chaps, the future will be rosy.  At present, they are keen to see how the E.P. does and get it heard as far and wide as they can.  I am sure that an album will be in the back of the group’s minds, and they will have their eyes trained with a wide focus.  It is paramount that we celebrate and promote the genuinely brilliant (and separate them from the chaff).  Alex, Niels, Agostino and Alberto should be proud of what they achieve and have no fear about the future.  Their sound is the kind that could feature on BBC Radio 6, XFM and Absolute Radio– the mostly respectable stations for great new music.  New music is inexpensive and widely-available, so if you do not do anything else in the coming week, I would implore you to seek out the E.P.  If you are a fan of the type of music Los’ plays it will appeal; but those whom are not usually affiliated with such, will also find much to recommend.  As I stated, the boys have a friendly and sunshine exterior, and are gentlemen of rock.  Their rich influences can be heard and they deftly weave classic majesty, fresh urgency- and top it off with a liberal dollop of smile, panache and ubiquity.  They may have come from different nations, and may be based out of London; but the band should get used to a busy itinerary with a gilded and multifarious travelogue.  Their stock will rise, and fans from around the world will become inoculated to the sparks and slams that the chaps portray.  There will be uncertainty in the coming year- in terms of what is going to be favoured- yet one thing is clear about the future-success of the quartet:

 

IT is money in the bank.

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Follow Los and the Deadlines:

Official:

http://www.losandthedeadlines.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/LosDeadlines

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/losandthedeadlines

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/losandthedeadlines

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/LosAndTheDeadlines

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