The single, Living Hell is available from:
They met by happenstance; came together over a shared sense of humour and musical tastes- and formed a beautiful relationship. With their music being described as sounding like “The Blacks Keys on crack“, no knuckle-draggers are these: they are fully evolved men, intent on taking your breath away.
I am always amused and surprised when I come across…
new musicians and acts. The nature in which certain bands are duos are formed can be as a result of a long search; a rigorous set of auditions and ‘interviews’- or it can happen instantaneously. From my own perspective (as a man in need of a band), I feel the process- for me- will involve a lot of the former; some weeding out and experimentation; a well-worded band notification advert- to find four people whom are a ‘perfect’ fit. When it comes to finding players and like-minded souls, to help put your music together, it can work like dating to an extent: bear with me here. Certain types take a more mechanical approach to recruitment and seduction; a business-like approach is taken with regards to selecting musical cohorts; often concentration and formalisation is attained after many years of performing and rotation (of band members). One of the reasons I have always wanted to put together a band, is not just to have my music scored and realised; but form friendships and new bonds. Fellow musicians not only allow you to fulfil your ambitions and make sweet music, but kinship and solid relations can be formed. Many of the duos and bands I have surveyed over the months have stuck in my mind, because you can really hear the closeness and understanding between the members. If there is a sense of telekinesis and innate intuition between band (or duo) members, then the music has a sense of authority and freedom- and the quality is a lot higher. Sometimes it can be necessary to take time and audition stoically, in order to find the best band members. If the bonds between the players is not solid and honest, then the act can implode and dissolve. My featured subjects seem to have that instantaneous affection; a musical sympatico that has caused reviewers and critics to mark them out as big names for the future. So many new bands negate the importance of friendships and personality clashes; often acts can be doomed from the start because of differences between the members. Of course, if you have been playing music with the same people for years, then a certain sense of fatigue and weariness can creep in- and take its toll at some point. If we apply the relationship paradigm to music, then there is a simple and universal truth: there is no such thing as a perfect relationship/marriage. At some stage during a musical career there are going to be roadblocks and hardships; times where heads may clash and tempers flare- it is how you overcome this that can make-or-break the act. Naturally, psychics are frauds, and no-one can predict the future, but I can always tell (from the off) when a new act have a solid bond; I can detect a natural sympatico and understanding that will lead to longevity and a golden future. It may seem like a minor point (I am making), but it is a vital issue that has not been explored that much. If you look back at all of the acts whom have broken up; those that suffered a premature entropy and decline (because of frictions within the ranks), it can prove quite unsettling reading. You wonder just how far the likes of The Libertines could have gone, were it not for the various fights, drug battles and Pete Doherty-led woes. The boys are playing a gig very shortly, but it is nothing more than a cash-in and last hurray: the days of The Libertines are long gone. Similarly, bands like Queens of the Stone Age have seen members come and go; a revolving door policy seems to be in place- yet that band seems as galvanised and assured as ever. I just get the impression that the world has missed out on so much incredible music, because of strains within the group. Maybe I am romanticising music and neglecting the golden rule of marriage: 50% of them end in divorce (or thereabout). Regardless, when there is an instantaneous lustre and affection between the musicians, you know (or hope at least), that their careers will be relatively carefree and smooth sailing. My Yorkshire-based duo are a perfect case study of that kind of explosion; a chemical bond that leads me to belive that they could be playing gigs and making music for many years to come. Before I get to them, I have been thinking about ‘heavy’ sounds- or the lack thereof. When I come to witness a new band whom labels themselves as ‘Rock’ or ‘Metal’, naturally, I expect sounds that verge on the satanic- restrained to an extend, but imbued with enough force to get take you off your feet. Over the last couple of years, I have not come across too many examples that fulfil this criteria. It is definitional dishonest to play muted and pared-down sounds (if you truly see yourself as a Rock band), and it is a disappointing aspect of music: the grit and barbed wire kick is lacking. There are- as you know- quite a few new acts whom have steel toe caps; those whom know how to use them- and are authentic masters of the genre. When reviewing artists such as Los & The Deadlines, Royal Blood, God Damn and Crystal Seagulls, I can tell from the start that they had a clear knowledge and understanding of (the harder side) what I am saying. The rise and profitability of acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Q.O.T.S.A. and their ilk, have shown that there is a definite need and desire for something more primal and raw: music that gets inside of your brain and rattles it around. When exploring the avenues and back alleys of new music, my search is often fruitless; often I come away disappointed and annoyed; wondering why there are so few artists whom prefer their sounds heavier and more pulsating. Certain music sites and publications provide enough examples of acts whom turn the volume all the way to 11, yet too few are making their way past the realms of niche and specialised corners- and to the fore. Royal Blood are an example of an act whom are making their way into the mainstream; a duo whom seem capable of bringing their brand of whiskey-soaked swagger to millions of ears. It is perhaps true that the mainstream will always favour sounds that are more ‘melodic’ and elliptical sounds; those which aim to soothe or seduce.
Before I give you some insight into our duo, I should let you know that Knuckle consist:
Jonny The Gurth – Lead Guitar/Lead Vox Ben Ballwanks – Lead Drums
Perhaps not the most charming or BBC Radio 2-friendly monikers, but it does display the humour (perhaps laddish) that comes through. Our duo are by no means your bottom-rung lowest common denominator music purveyors, as their music is filled with wit, emotion, passion and charm- they are a bona fide awesome twosome. It is not only the incredible music that strikes you, but the camaraderie and brotherly spirit that shines through (between Jonny and Ben); there is a wonderful sense of natural compatibility, that gives their music richness, conviction and plenty of spark. Before I explore specifics, I shall allow the boys themselves to summarise:
After meeting at a Halloween 2013 gig, while Ben Wallbanks (Kava Kava, Your New Antique, Steve Albino and the Lovesocks) was wearing a potato sack on his head and tights on his legs and Jonny Firth (Crybabycry, Jonnythefirth) was dressed as Jonny Firth, Knuckle were formed. Their first jamming session resulted in them writing 12 songs, a couple of practices later and they were already gigging. The two piece, with a combined age of 58 (it keeps growing), are younger than lots of bands because they normally have more members. The filthy garage blues music they make has recently been described as “The Black Keys on crack”. Knuckle are gaining a reputation for explosive live sets and the artistic freedom of their compositions. A fondness for playing as loud as possible, their creativity, flair and heavy blues style has seen them play support slots which have been far better received than the headline act. Career highlights so far have included sets at The Wharf Chambers, Milo and The Cockpit in Leeds, The Hop in Wakefield as well as London shows at The Old Blue Last (Shoreditch) and Birthdays (Dalston). Reviewers have praised the lightning fast and intricate style of drummer Ben Wallbanks and singer/guitarist Jonny Firth’s emotive blues lyrics and engaging vocal range as well as his energizing fuzzy guitar riffs. Happy Days Music Blog named Knuckle as one of their “40 Bands To Keep An Eye On” alongside the likes of Catfish & The Bottlemen, Royal Blood and Post War Glamour Girls. Happy Days are clearly not alone in their view as Knuckle will be given the rare honour of playing two sets at this year’s Live @ Leeds Festival and will also be playing at Long Division Festival. Recorded at Greenmount Recording Studios in Leeds, ‘Living Hell’ is their first self released single available as a “pay what you want” download from their Bandcamp page. Second single “Ejector Seat” will follow in the next few months before their debut E.P. which is set to be released in September on the revered Wakefield label Philiophobia Music, who are also responsible for releases from other fantastic bands including The Spills, Imp and Runaround Kids.“
In regards to this review, I am ‘cheating’ a little bit. I have known Jonny the Firth (or Jonny the Gurth as he eloquently rebrand himself; a god of extraordinary penile dimensions); accustomed and in tune with the wonders that he offers up. Back in March of last year, I reviewed Jonnythefirth album Broken Bones. The 13-track release was something that appeared out of left-field; an L.P. that I was not expecting and one that stood apart from everything that was available at the time. When I delved into the tracks themselves, I was compelled to write:
“The guitars are diverse and intriguing. At their most primal and urgent, they are electrifying and awe-inspiring; whilst when toned down they are equally impressive, yet enunciate a more sincere and sensitive side to proceedings. I was impressed from start to finish, and was impressed by the lyrical depth and wit, and were never heavy-handed or immature. There is a real heart and bite to the range of topics and sentiments illustrated. The vocals were constantly intriguing, imbued with an authentic blues timbre throughout, swaying between pugnacious roustabout and tender-hearted Romeo. It is the overall concoction of all these ingredients that makes the album such compelling listening. There are few blues punk bands, no least based in the U.K. at the moment. Amongst the swarm of pop, soul, and 3rd rate rock, it is refreshing and inspiring to hear such a confident and diverse artist who at once can make music sound so fresh, and at the same time so familiar, never succumbing to predictability or pastiche.”
Each of the tracks took your breath away; put you in mind of classic acts, but also struck you with their originality and vibrancy. Jonny’s guitar playing and compositional talents were evident and prescient, but our hero also displayed a knowledgeable affection for the Blues of the ’30s and ’40s, as well as the U.S. Blues offered up by the likes of The White Stripes. His voice came across as fresh and striking; not indebted to another, yet composed of grit, gin-soaked drawl and effusive and light-hearted shades that lead me to believe that he was one of the best new talents on the block. When I was summing up, I scribbled:
“If you have not heard of jonnythefirth, then you really need to. I am a big fan of blues and punk, as well as modern oral historians of the genres, such as The White Stripes. There are a lot of similarities to be heard within ‘Broken Bones’. The guitars are diverse and intriguing. At their most primal and urgent, they are electrifying and awe-inspiring; whilst when toned down they are equally impressive, yet enunciate a more sincere and sensitive side to proceedings. I was impressed from start to finish, and was impressed by the lyrical depth and wit, and were never heavy-handed or immature. There is a real heart and bite to the range of topics and sentiments illustrated. The vocals were constantly intriguing, imbued with an authentic blues timbre throughout, swaying between pugnacious roustabout and tender-hearted Romeo.”
The Jonnythefirth shores may have been (temporarily) abandoned or on hiatus, but I hope that Jonny does reignite the old act; puts another L.P. out there, as I adored the previous one. Just as I was about to weep on my laptop, I was buoyed and reinvigorated when I heard our hero was making music. As well as working on other side-projects, Jonny has been dedicating his time and attentions to Knuckle, a Yorkshire-based duo whom have been setting tongues wagging. If you look at the reviews below, you can tell just how important and impressive their music is:
“a blast of scorched earth rock with a hint of blues and surf guitar thrown into the mix. Singer Jonny Firth has a suitably gravelly voice whilst drummer Ben underpins the songs with some impressively tight, technical drumming.”
Leeds Music Scene
“A couple of months after forming most bands wouldn’t be ready to gig and they certainly wouldn’t have a well crafted ten song repertoire to perform. They may be in the early stages and only seven gigs in but they are almost psychically tight and sounding great. They have a real flair for song writing and each track is a lesson in structuring. The set was full of interesting and clever twists and turns combined with engrossing builds and breakdowns, especially during ‘Idiot Bastard’. There was a joyous feeling of surprise and appreciation every time they steered away from the obvious direction everyone half expected a song to go in“.
“The track opens with this filthy riff, these chainsaw guitars barely concealing something the Arctic Monkeys might have used. It has this sort of laid back feel, despite the blistering drums that occasionally take the track near to oblivion. Despite that, it has the sort of blues tune that is impossible not to like. Sounds on this evidence that Knuckle are a filthy as they are fantastic. Or is that the other way around.”
“Their sound has been described as ‘filthy garage blues’, drawing comparisons to US duo The Black Keys. Although they haven’t been together long, the band have already played sets at major venues across Yorkshire including The Cockpit Leeds and The Hop in Wakefield. A fondness for playing as loud as possible, their creativity, flair and heavy blues style has seen them play support slots which have been far better received than the headline act. And you can appreciate why! This is a band which epitomize rock and roll with tracks packed full of grungy rock riffs and attitude. We love it!”
“‘Living Hell’ is a slice of dirty, raunchy, bluesy rock pie. There’s nothing revolutionary here but just as that old guy down the local in the leather jacket always manages to pull, this music will always make people want to rock out. The Black Keys is the obvious to comparison to make but with a British twist in the shape of the Who or Led Zep. Immensely noisy stuff for a two piece and so dirty you’d need a hot girl in a pair of Daisy Dukes to sponge it down but she’d be pregnant before the job was even half done. If you followed any of that you’re a better man than I am but the bottom line is that this rocks and you should get it in your life.”
Listen With Monger
This brand-new duo have high ambitions for the future, and have some illustrious and key dates coming up. As well as playing around Leeds, Yorkshire and the north, I am sure that their minds and instruments will be journeying south; coming to London and us soft southern wimps. Even though the keys are in the initial stages of their career, I know how high their hopes are; how far they want to go, and this comes through in their music (which I shall get to soon). The fact that the duo managed to write twelve songs in four hours means that not only do they have a natural bond and shared musicianship, but also a passion and drive for what they are doing. There is a clear sense of down-to-Earth appeal; our heroes are two of the boys and are soaking up and drinking in (literally in a lot of cases) all the wonders and experiences that music has to offer. At the moment, the duo have close to 500 fans on Facebook; a little under 400 followers on Twitter– and a whole lot more in the live arena. I am sure that with a bit of time, the fan numbers will swell and burgeon, and it is only a matter of time before national publications are going to arrive at Knuckle’s door. If you are unfamiliar with Knuckle, I would advice seeking them out on social media. Of course, there are going to be tales of boys-being-boys; unpalatable pre-gig rituals and middle finger philosophy; but there is plenty of humour, fun and effusive elements to enjoy and smile to. It is always exciting to witness an act in their infancy; making their first (chess) move, and putting it in the ether. Living Hell is the duo’s lead single, and a song that has been doing the rounds across social media. Many are latching onto its wonder and raw energy, and sharing it amongst friends and followers. Knowing quite a bit about Jonny the Firth already, I had a certain degree of education and expectation going in, so primed myself for an inaugural listen.
A certain sense of eeriness and mystique open Living Hell. Perhaps befitting of the song’s title, initial moments mix creepy and tip-toeing sonics. Whether achieved using electric guitar or electronics themselves, I am not certain, but it is an unexpected and memorable opening. A slight pause and respite builds up suspense and tension, before a chug of guitar enters the fray. There is an electrifying sense of build-up and momentum; something is growing and plotting its course- waiting to strike. The guitar coda that follows is a weaving and snaking sound; one imbued with power and fuzz; funky undertones and an authentic sound of Punk and Rock gods of old. Wallbanks is quick to levy and bolster his partner-in-crime; augmenting the intro. with a punchy and powerful percussive rattle. The precision and force that comes into view not only stands you to attention, but builds upon the song’s (already) potent flair. When the two combine- the guitar and drums unite- the overall effect is one that invigorating. The beast has woken and is starting his surveyance of the town- ready to hunt. The way that the guitar and drums parabond and spar off of one another reminds me of mid-career White Stripes; there is a funkiness and kick to the sound that has tones of Physical Graffiti Led Zeppelin; a bit of Rage Against The Machine, perhaps, but unless my brain and honing devices are faulty, I cannot think of any comparisons- it is a coda and sensation that sounds very much fresh, alive and unique. After the intro., which provides sex appeal, spunk, funk, spit, sting and punch; the vocal arrives, with our hero stepping up to the mic. With some distortion and maybe a fleck of Alex Turner’s insouciant drawl, it is said: “I am forever with you“. The words are delineated and offered with a relaxing calm; there is a matter-of-fact delivery to the line, yet the vocal is hard and prescient. Less bait-and-switch but command and conquer, the duo combine marvellously. After the first line is laid in, Wallbanks provides a crackling of percussion; riffling a quick punctuation that bolsters the lyrics and leaves you anticipating what is to come. When our hero announces “I love that things that you do” his voice rises and writhes on the final word; the initial lines are repeated (with a more breathless pace); the emotion and tension coming through to the surface. Our hero lets it know that he’s always alone; at home with his “cheap telephone“, it seems that there is a lustful intention; our man is sitting and letting his mind wander- sending out a message to the anonymous heroine. In terms of vocal and instrumental by-play, there are some sensations and recollections of Humbug-era Arctic Monkeys; some touches of their A.M. work, too. Whereas the Monkeys’ tracks such as R U Mine? and Crying Lightning had some Josh Homme inferences, Living Hell is no Homme-nym; there are distinct Jonnythefirth hallmarks- the same grit and swagger that was synonymous in Broken Bones. Wallbanks adds huge power and intrigue with some subtle touch. As we approach the 1:00 mark, there is a decisive sense of a storm brewing. Our hero’s voice becomes more barbed and angered; the guitar and percussion mutates into an imperious and rebellious form. As (once more) the previous lines are re-invoked- once more our hero’s voice rising on the last word- the song elicits an explosion. Guitar notes are dirtier and fuzzier; the percussion rumbles and pulverizes- and the song’e evocativeness and vivacity is emphasised. At this point in the story, you get the impression that a riot has just occurred; our hero repeating a determined and purposeful mantra- his voice determined and impassioned. Just as you are predicting a full-out showdown, the mood is brought back down; the pace and sound of the opening 1:00 comes back in, and another twist in the snake’s tale. With your expectations superseded and subverted, you are fully on-board; curious as to where the boys are going. The guitar- this time around- becomes more lascivious; human of form it becomes more sexualized and low-down. When it wails and hums, you get the impression that our hero is deploying it as a metaphor; a way of putting certain images in your mind- without a word being sung. The drum work is sterling and levelled; it is punchy and testy; swaggering and intent. Lyrics returns us to the previous evocations; our hero re-emphasises solitude and cheap telephones; it seems that this time around a few more surprises will be thrown into the mixer. With a raucous scream elicited after “cheap telephone”, the chorus comes back into the fray. Our hero is in a living hell; his mind twisted and contorted- some of the decipherability and audiblity of the chorus’ lyrics is lost; the vocal is mixed lower than you’d imagine, making it hard for the words to be transcribed and understood. Minor qualms aside, the chorus has a swaying and chant-able weight that sees our duo combines emphatically. Jonny’s guitar groans and kicks; Ben’s drum flails and slams; before long a new parable is unveiled. A rhythmic and militaristic march is heralded; changing the song’s pace and (once more) catching you by surprise. There is the sensation of our hero marching into town; rain pouring down (and bottle of Jack Daniels in hand) he is kicking beer cans and rubbish out of his way. There is a pugnacious and altitudinal majesty to the segment; it is robotic yet animalistic; crepuscular and fierce. When our hero interjects, his voice is softer and more soothed; advising (his sweetheart) to “Come on/Calm down“, the protestation is interjected by rifled percussion and vibrating guitar- the drumming is particularly impressive, with Wallbanks on the brink of explosion. The final minute sees our duo notch the intrigue-o-meter all the way to 11; the pace changes from a syncopated kick to a more rampant drive. Our hero’s voice seems wracked and filled with implore; its conviction and Blues sound hits the mark fully; the percussion and guitars beautifully back this up. The repetition of “Come on” sees our hero in feral mode; possessed by a carnivorous demon, it sounds like love and life are ripping his appendix out- through his scrotum. The pained cry and blood-curdling screams have a conviction behind them that you cannot shake off; you can practically hear the sweat fly across the studio floor! After a short spell of enraptured fever, the song changes once more; the twiddling and vibrating guitar-and-drum parable arrives once more- taking the song down to land. Once Living Hell reaches its climatic end, you are left to asses what has come before. It is a hugely impressive and catchy song; one that is anthemic and memorable in the extreme. In terms of negatives you are hard-pressed to think of any. The only quibble I have, is with regard’s to the chorus’ opening words. The instrumentation gets in the way a bit and overcrowded the vocals, meaning it is a little difficult to understand what is being sung. The rest of the song has a clarity and concision that is near-faultless (so I apologise to the boys if I have misquoted any lyrics). In essence, there are a multitude of positives I can offer. The production (mostly) is wonderful and fits the sound perfectly. It is not too over-done or polished and allows the raw and stripped-down sound to come to life; to become fully realised. The economy of language is another high point; the song is built around just a few lines, yet the way they are deployed and delivered is highly effective. Our hero’s voice is at once wracked and tormented; the next Blues-tinged and sexy; the following calmed and restful- it develops and changes seamlessly. All guitar notes and lines are emotive and impressive; the riffs are catchy and argumentative, and perfectly score the song’s lyrics. Wallbanks’ percussive input is solid and hugely powerful; it goes from softer and measured moments through to heady and rampant heights- you get the sense that he is going to be a hugely effective component in the Knuckles machine. The track’s mobility and changes of pace are a huge highlight, and you never knew what was coming next- keeping you on the edge of your seat. It is the overall sound and sensation of Living Hell that is the most striking facet- the song is an emphatic opening statement. It is not too hard and foreboding yet is instilled with as much grime and sweat as you would expect; there is power and guts throughout, and the song’s themes can be easily understood and extrapolated. Given that the duo are newbies and brand-new names on the scenes, it is stunning at how confident and assured their first single is. Many have paid testament to the fact that the duo have a huge amount of impressive tracks to their name (some stronger than Living Hell); something that hints at a prosperous and glorious future. There aren’t a huge amount of duos on the scene (and fewer male ones), so there is certainly going to be a large market for Knuckle. With songs like Living Hell to their name, they are likely to rise to the same prominence as that of Royal Blood- probably in a matter of months.
If there is going to be a reappropriation of the current order; a shake-up of the established guard, then two things need to occur. First of all, personal relations need to be stronger; new acts need to ensure that any dirty laundry or issues are aired and resolved as soon as possible. I have seen many artists whom had such potential and possibility, yet frizzled out because of fractious spats and quarrels between its members. A sense of alacrity, quality and potency is obtained when issues and personality problems do not get in the way, so it is axiomatic to say that quandaries and differences should be ressolved- at the earliest of opportunities. The second thing that needs to happen, is that the public need to be more open-minded. There still seems to be a sense of stigma and discrimination afoot in the wider realm. When you bring a new act to people’s attention and mention that their sound is heavier or more primal, then noses are turned up. A lot of the music-buying public are too rigid with their tastes; not willing to accept great sounds- fearing that their head may explode if they listen to it. Just because an act prefers their sounds to be a bit more forceful, does not mean that they are Thrash Metal or the spawn of Satan. Past wonders such as The White Stripes and Led Zeppelin has an artistry and projection that mixed Blues and Rock together with Punk and a little filth: topped off with a smidge of beauty. Modern paramors such as The Black Keys, Royal Blood and Queens’ continue this trend, whilst lobbing in some sweat and anthemic; plenty of nuance and smoothness can be heard- and of course, plenty of memorable riffs and sing along mandates. I am not suggesting that everyone throws away their record collection and starts from scratch; starts embracing new genres of music- and forgets about everything else. The point is, that acts such as Knuckle are deserving of wide exposure and acclaim. Our duo have a working-class outer and a certain sense of blokeishness to their personalities. Being aware of Jonny Firth and his previous incarnation, I knew about the man behind the music. He is a witty and friendly guy; there is some bite and beer-soaked stumble; Yorkshire runs through his blood and he is as genuine and authentic a man as you will meet. When reviewing his Broken Bones album, although there were scenes and sights of U.S. Blues (White Stripes-cum-The Black Keys), and coal mining, there was plenty of home-grown influence and northern wit. His album (and music) is class-straddling and borderless; it appeals to all and is not just aimed at niches and clandestine sects. Similarly, Knuckle has a universality and everyman appeal that should see them being regarded be a wider audience. Sure, there is going to be some profanity; a modicum of sweat and spit; some Surf explosion and Primal Scream Therapy in various places, but you know what: how can that be a bad thing? In every relationships you need urgency; the heady rush and sense of combustible passion, otherwise you become boring and middle-aged. Too many new acts have a sense of twee suits and elbow patches; a restricted sound and a hesitancy that can be seen as a little vanilla and temporized. Knuckle are going to be offering up some tenderness and calm; some layered Blues sounds and plenty of diversions and colours, but also some head-on collision too. Many people whom have seen them live can pay tribute to the fact that they are serious names to watch. Their range of material is impressive and the boys are instilled with multifarious charm; sonic diversity and plentiful of ammunition. In the case of Royal Blood, we know that there is a desire and need for acts of their kind; Knuckle could well be making their way into the mainstream before too long. I am sure that our duo will be thinking of a future L.P. or E.P. and making plans as we speak. I am not overly familiar with Wallbanks (up until now), but knowing Jonny, I am aware at how hard-working and prolific he is. Knowing him, it may be a matter of weeks before something album-shaped is offered up, but I will not be making any firm declarations just yet. For now, the lads are enjoying taking their act on the road and playing to as many faces as possible. They have just come from Live at Leeds; a festival that showcased some of the nation’s best acts. With the likes of Royal Blood, Indiana, Love Zombies and Jaws featured, the city is seeing a lot of great artists play. Knuckle have not been around for too long, yet are already making big marks. I have gone into detail before (dozens of times) about what Yorkshire and the north is offering music, and the sheer range and wonder of the acts offered up is scintillating. Our heroes are amongst the very best out there at the moment, and it is no hyperbole to say that they could be one of the country’s most promising new talents. I adore the likes of Arctic Monkeys, and feel that there are some comparisons with the Sheffield band. As well as some Monkeys elements, there are heavy edges of the punk masters of the ’70s; classic acts such as Led Zeppelin and The Who- as well as plenty of modern-day relevance. It is clear that there is a lot of affection between Ben and Jonny; the two had an instant connection that comes through in their music. Living Hell is the distillation and manifestation of that friendship and musical bond- one that will ensure many years of prosperity. When you hear an act that have such a connection of tightness to them, you always feel that they will go the distance; grow in strength and make multiple albums and songs. The sense of rambuctiousness and grit is evident within Living Hell; there is sweat, lust and anger to be heard- but also plenty of nuance. Jonny has a gravelled and emotive voice that makes everything sound convincing and urgent; a range that goes from a soft and more laid back feel; right through to a scorched earth, balls-to-the-walls rampage. Wallbanks is a tight and proficient sticks man, but one whom possess a huge power and sense of majesty. At times it is as if Dave Grohl and Neil Peart sparring with an octopus; testicles and wood flying everywhere! I was staggered by the amount of music, sound and energy that was summoned up by two people. It is always impressive when a duo can conjure up the equivalent potency and force of a fully fledged band; concentrate the gravity of a four or five-piece and do it with a greater efficiency. Knuckle are spoiling for a fight, but not one that will result in blood and tooth loss. They are fighting to make their name heard and gain their rightful place in the upper echelons of music. Recent gigs around Yorkshire are whipping up fervent praise and paen, and it quite clear that it will not take too much time for the duo’s full force to take effect. They may in the embryonic stages and putting baby steps together, but the initial signs are incredibly encouraging. If you prefer your music softer or more Pop-infused, then I would advise some daring; break out of your mould and embrace something fresh and bold. Too few take the trouble to listen to music that falls outside of their comfort zone; fearful that it will lead them to the dark side. Have no fear, as Knuckle are here to not only embrace and electioneer, but make sure their music burrow into your senses and overwhelms. For that reason- as well as every other reason I have laid out- I would advise this:
GIVE them a thorough hearing.
Bull & Fairhouse
Long Division Festival