Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals
Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals
Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals is available is available from:
Am I The Only One– 9.5/10.0
STAND OUT CUT:
23rd June, 2014
The Animal Farm
Rockabilly, Rock, Blues-Rock, Country
The Yorkshire quintet impressed many with their Vices and Virtues E.P. Since 2012 they have grown in confidence and ambition: their self-titled E.P. sees Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals unleash a hell of a collection- Rockabilly/Blues-Rock rush, Country-tinged ache and emphatic energy compel your body to move; you are powerless to resist
IT is always nice to come across music that puts you in…
a better mood. It is a rarity as far as I can see: a great deal of sounds are so personal that it is hard to draw in all listeners- difficult to connect truly with what is being sung. So many musicians have overlooked the importance of infusing a sense of joy and upbeat into their music, that- when an act that does do this comes along- it is quite an unusual surprise. It speaks of a larger quagmire on the music scene: the lack of exploration and adventurousness. By this, I mean when relating to genres: plundering and revitalising overlooked forms of music; mixing together various strands of sounds to uplift the listener- not just present something meaningful to the author. Recent subjects like The Updraft Imperative have struck upon this necessity: their songs have deep relevance (to them), yet go further- ensuring the overall projection is possessed of fun and a sense of energetic abandon. This review may mark a bit of an anniversary- and brief farewell- for me: it has been (practically) two years since I started doing this- publishing to my blog- and have assessed a great deal of different acts- none that are like Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals. It may be a while before I review another Yorkshire-based act- they make up a great percentage of my overall work- so it is good to feature the group (before leaving the county behind for a while). Before I mention- and go into more depth- the band, they have drawn me to a particularly interesting subject: Rockabilly music. This particular genre was popularised back in the ’50s: formed in the U.S., it was the front-runner (and father) of Rock and Roll- mixing together American Folk, Country and Bluegrass together. Defined by strong vocals, incredible rhythms and tape echo, it was hugely popular: acts like Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Jerry Lee Lewis were among some of the most notable and legendary examples of the breed. Having suffered a decline during the 1960s- many thought the overuse of vocal harmonies had diluted the form- it did encounter a revival during the ’70s and ’80s- acts like the Stray Cats put it right back at the forefront. Sophie Sweet’ are this decade’s proponents of the genre- few other acts work in this arena, so it is high-time people started to embrace it once more. Living in a time where bygone forms of music are being re-appropriated, it is great to see an act come along that genuinely want to see the genre revived- and are not just a tribute act or cover band. I need to raise another point, but before I do, let me introduce the band to you:
Sophie Lea– Vocals
Daniel Ayton– Lead Guitar
Robert Hamari– Rhythm Guitar
Ste Hamari– Bass
Jake Parsons– Drums
“Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals fuse country, blues and rockabilly to reach parts of your body that you can’t reach just by pushing a button on a computer. Their heart beatin’, foot stompin’ music lifts the spirit and stirs the soul. Rob, Ste and Dan grew up together in Middlesbrough. Moving to Leeds to study they started hanging out on the local rock’n’roll scene of musicians exploring traditional American music styles. Passionate about Johnny Burnette, Johnny Cash and Muddy Waters and finding inspiration in modern artists like The Black keys and White Stripes, the boys met a soul mate in drummer Jake. They named their fledgling outfit The November Criminals when they realised they all share birthdays in November and focused on writing songs about the devil and life’s temptations. The slender frame of a girl singing in a pub lock out was at odds with her huge, passionate, old school vocal delivery. That Sophie Sweet shares her name with a Hungarian porn star was a gift from heaven…. Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals were born. Within 6 months the band hit the local gigging circuit with their first show playing to a packed out crowd at the Cockpit supporting the Fossil Collective. Their first EP ‘Vices & Virtues’ was released in late 2012 and from there the band has gone on to entertain crowds in Manchester, Sheffield, Harrogate and London including Ardbog day in the shadow of London’s iconic Tower Bridge, Airedo Festival and the multi venue festival Live at Leeds. Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals are set to release their self-titled second EP titled on The Animal Farm on 23rd of June 2014. It’s a foot stompin’, heart beatin’ ho-down that’s got enough twang and spring reverb to make you dance and shout.”
There is a great back story to the band: their formation and similarities have enforced their incredible live performances and the kinship the five share. Yorkshire is producing some of the most diverse musicians in all of the world right now. When reviewing Electro.-Swing acts like Little Violet and Cissie Redgwick, I was surprised at how few fellow artists there were: their incredible and effusive gems were phenomenal and packed with life and historic Swing elements- I wondered why few others were recording this type of music. The arrival of Shiftin’ Shade (another Yorkshire Electro.-Swing act) has provided another take on the genre, but it is shocking how niche and miniscule the market is. When listening to Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals, I came to the same conclusion: we should be hearing a lot more artists making this kind of music. Perhaps they (and the Electro.-Swing acts) are ahead of their time- in an ironic way- and a lot bolder than their contemporaries- this is true, but you would think that acts elsewhere would make an attempt to join them in their quest. It is vital that acts such as S.S.A.H.N.C. are not only studied and embraced: fellow artists and newcomers should take inspiration from them and make sure the flame does not die. The quintet are impressive revivalists of a wonderful- and sadly lost- genre of music that has been gone for too long- if they can make their name big (in future years) it will lead to a much-needed shake-up of the music scene. I feel a lot of modern acts are scared of treading uncharted (and unsure) waters: playing it ‘safe’ is the best way to ensure critical eyes- and public money- goes their way.
The band is a relatively new force- making it difficult to compare their new work (with older). Having established their reputation through original material- as well as cover versions- I will look at the latter: their interpretations of other musicians’ work. If you listen to Down in Mexico (originally recorded by the Coasters- from the soundtrack to Deathproof), you can hear some individual and original intent from the off- the band manage to transform the track and do wonders with it. The performance is confident and consistent; the vocal is strong and impassioned throughout- it updates the song and gives it a charming and unexpected take. When covering songs, Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals always provide brilliant interpretation- they keep the original spirit intact but inject plenty of new wonder. Go Billy Go was a track that saw them increase their confidence and provide something genuinely unexpected: when listening to it, I was loathed to compare it with any other song. Forming part of their Vices and Virtues E.P. (their debut), it marked a leap forward for them. Released in 2012, it saw the five-piece offer new material and original cuts: tracks like Debts to Pay and Dirty Bastards have plenty of grit and rawness within them; the scenes and sights are vivid and alive- the songwriting brings in unexpected subjects and vibrancy. Having been playing a while before the E.P.’s release, you can see a definite progression and increase in confidence: their studio work displays bigger and more assured performances; their sense of passion and intent is augmented and cemented- it is uncommon to hear such authority and directness on a debut E.P. The band performances and sense of unity is evident from the opening notes: a lot of acts begin life nervously and unassured- Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals have an air of professionalism that is great to witness. Their self-titled E.P. sees that confidence and sense of diversity expand and mutate. The performances- to my ear at least- sound even more invigorated and assured: the interim period has seen transition and growth for the group; this is presented clearly in the new trio of tracks. Subjects look at the same sort of issues: disingenuous and disreputable sorts; bargains with darker spirits; personal insight with introspection; scenes of the U.S. of old- Country-tinged codas and classic Blues sounds run through the E.P. The overall sound is fuller and more impassioned: the band are tighter and more instep and the compositions are richer and possessed of even more nuance, inspiration and emotion. Whether the last couple of years has seen the quintet investigate new genres I am not sure- it appears modern acts such as The Black Keys have become more relevant and important. Their debut had plenty of hardness and potency: here they notch up the offensive and wrap their songs with even more electricity and urgent rush. It is only natural a band should get better from release to release: not only have Sophie Sweet’ achieved this, but they have kept their unique identity true and succinct- expanded their palette and made (their previous brilliance) that much more emphatic. It will be great to see what the future holds- whether a single, E.P. or album will follow- whatever it is, it is likely to see the five-piece step up their game and burgeon even more.
Not too many familiar acts come to mind (when considering Sophie Sweet and her November Criminals). I guess one could reference the great pioneers and kings of Rockabilly: Elvis, Carl Perkins, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis etc. The band have essences and layers of the classic ’50s sound: the same rousing energy and fun-time majesty (these artists summoned up) can be found in the quintet’s music. What the band do is to use this- genuine Rockabilly flair- and build upon it: their sound is updated and has plenty of modern edge and urgency. The band themselves claim Jack White and The Black Keys as idols- some of these U.S. giants can be detected in the music of Sophie Sweet’. Electrifying Blues guitars and current Blues-Rock shouts its name in the E.P.’s trio of tracks: anyone that loves U.S. Blues-Rock will find much to enjoy. The band’s early work has seen them mix cool-edge Country and Rockabilly together with classic Blues- a potent blend that you do not hear a lot of at the moment. In addition to some modern influence, the band look back at the past: in their cannon of inspiration names such as Johnny Cash and Muddy Walters are included. You can embers of this duo come through: that same twang and constant energy; the legendary spirit of foot-stomping Country and Blues works marvellously together. The common denominator- when looking at Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals’ music- is fun and dance: artists renowned for their energy and sense of invigoration will come to mind. The band to me stand alone- from those I have already referenced- you can hear some touches of other musicians, yet the five-piece are no second-fiddle: vibrant originality and unique intent mandates their music. It is not other musicians- you should think of- but genres themselves. Most bands stick to one particular style of music: Sophie Sweet’ have a keen ears for multiple styles and sounds- that comes through in all of their songs. Early numbers have incorporated Country and classic Blues: Go Billy Go was a symphony of good-time Country- instilled with a clear passion and knowledge of the genre. The E.P. draws in current U.S. Blues-Rock elements- The Black Keys etc.- and melts it together with classic Rockabilly and ’30s and ’40s Blues. If you have one eye on the past; one on the future, this is the band for you: they keep everything fresh and urgent but have a fond affection for older sounds. Sophie’s voice is a unique instrument that has few comparisons: I guess you could look at modern icons such as Florence Welch and Hannah Reid (of London Grammar). That same power and force can be extrapolated; an innate beauty and sense of passion comes through- to my mind, it is more adaptable and mobile than the aforementioned.
For all of the band’s reputation for foot-tapping force, it is soft and gentle guitar that opens up Am I The Only One. With a passionate and tender deployment, a beautiful and reflective introduction is unveiled- plaintive yet strong, it has embers of Country and modern Pop; the wistfulness and seductiveness prime your sense. When our heroine approaches the microphone, her voice is emotive and gorgeous: “I hear whispers floating on a breeze” are the first words- setting the mood and tempting the listener in. The whispers are bringing bad tidings; caused Sweet to drop to her knees- whether a relationship is reaching its end or the future is being forecast, you can sense the caution and nerves in her voice. It seems that faithfulness and infidelity are being examined and turned over, alas: her man is causing her to second-guess and question- with anxiety and doubts in her mind, our heroine asks whether “I’m the only one you love“- a growl is elicited in the vocal that emphasises the urgency and necessity of her outpouring. After the calmed and restrained opening moments, the composition and vocal burst: Sweet’s voice expands and powers; the percussion slams and smashes with violent punctuation. Our heroine needs to know that she is the only woman (in her boy’s life): backed by some primal and frantic drumming (mixing Lazaretto-era Jack White and early day Led Zeppelin, it has a definite kick to it) the emphasis is on atmosphere and conviction- Sweet ensures that the listener is stood to attention; listen to what is being sung. When the line “Am I the only one you love?” is repeated- between a powerful concoction of heavy drums and wailing guitar- our heroine’s voice has a rich and deep soulfulness. Embers of the Soul greats come to mind: modern-day singers such as Paloma Faith, Gabriella Cilmi and Alison Mosshart alternative sneak through- Sweet’s tones are rife with passion and empowerment. The song keeps you fascinated- not only by the vocal- because of the evolving composition: from the initial build-up; through to the explosion point, we now arrive at more serene waters: compassionate strings (either electric or classic) add some light and beauty back into the mix- following the breathless coda that has proceeded it, the break offers a chance for reflection and consideration. Sweet has probably seen her man tip-toe down the path of unfaithfulness before: when she comes back into the spotlight; she categorically states she is not the kind of girl that puts up with cheating- her vocal is reticence but possessed of plenty of bite and determined implication. Our heroine has been around before; knowing what the realities of love hold it seems- there are wars to be witnessed; battles to fight. In spite of the potential fall-out, Sweet does not “feel like retreating“- she is a strong woman who fights and stands for what she believes in. Perhaps a game of chess is being played; something more psychological: unless her man gives her a reason to walk she is not going to- you feel as though secrets are being kept inside. Before you get caught up in Sweet’s rich tones, the rampant vocal line returns: begging the same question; it now carries more weight and relevance- you get captured by the song’s force and passion. Backed by squalling and animalistic guitars; that scattershot percussion- bass that adds plenty of vibrancy and emphasis- a real sense of do-or-die is presented: the relationship will only survive if cards are laid on the table; the full truth is revealed and deceit is uncovered and punished. Preparing your mind for another Soul-infused whisper, your expectations are subverted: Sweet unleashes a- semi-sarcastic and caustic- “ha!”: a sense of I-couldn’t-trust-him-as-far-as-I-could-throw-him realisation is apparent- the band unleashes an electrified Blues stomp; it punches and kicks; swaggers and bays for blood. Sweet is in no mood to be messed around and taken for a fool: proclaiming that she is “going to ask you once again“, she needs to know if his heart is true- her voice becomes more intensified and strengthened- when backed by the scintillating sonics. The question keeps coming back around; the final moments are dedicated to our heroine posing that all-important subject: “Who do you love?” By the time the song comes to an end, you wonder whether she found the answer she was looking for. Clearly her man is being evasive and deflecting; in spite of the fact that she will not give up easily, it may be the case she already knows the answer- one that will lead to the cessation of their relationship. With the previous number containing aspects of modern-day Blues-Rock- the guitars riff and line reminded me of In Time from The Black Keys’ Turn Blue– the following song turns my mind elsewhere. Brave starts life with a spirited and rousing intro.- if you imagine Smells Like Teen Spirit slowed down and elongated- that grabs you instantly: you sense that the band have another thrill-ride ahead. Mixing Rockabilly undertones with a flavour of modern-day Country and U.S. Pop, the track’s first striking point concerns the composition: the guitar work is muscular and taut; spoiling for a fight, it is on-the-move- the percussion backs it up with an alpha male walk that ensures the sound is tuneful yet pugnacious. Sweet arrives to fill in some blanks: immersed in the cold weather, she is walking from a love that she could not save- telling herself that “I must be brave.” You can sense some underlying emotions in the vocal performance; the projection is filled with confidence and stoicism: she has suffered a loss but is not going to let it get her down too much. Our heroine does not need any sympathy: tomorrow is a new day and there will be other men around. After the accusations and tensions of the opening number, we find Sweet in more philosophical and go-with-the-flow mood: that unending sense of defiance- she showed previously- makes you believe every word- people call her brave, but she is just making the best of a bad situation. Again, that smooth and seductive Soul styling comes through in her voice: Sweet has powerful Rock and Blues majors; those smoky and enfevered undertones give her voice that additional beauty and sense of authority. Whilst others call our heroine insane, she does not feel like that: maybe friends feel she has given up a relationship too readily; not allowed enough grace or contemplation. In spite of their reluctance and doubts, she seems convinced and assured: here is a resilient soul that would not let love needlessly extinguish. Propelled by a kick-ass and fist-pumping (in a slightly muted sense), that Rock/Country spice rings through: the riffs that back Sweet could easily fit within a Grunge/Indie-Rock band’s album- such is the catchiness and memorable nature of it. Sweet has pain at heart- everyone would- yet tomorrow brings renewed possibilities: she has gone through her share of pain and knows how to handle it. The song raises interesting points: the heroine will travel the oceans for new love, yet has matured from her early days; heartbreak is taken in her stride and her mind is strangely at ease with everything. Most songs- that deal with failed love- tend to crumble under the weight of their own sorrow and tears: our heroine is buoyant and upbeat throughout; not only providing a track to inspire heartbroken listeners, but offer insight into her personality and heart- it can be broken but will never die. Following Am I The Only One’s incredible mixture of sounds, Brave again experiments with tremendous results: touches of ’50s Rockabilly are evident in the guitar lines; the vocal has a Jazz-cum-Soul power; lyrics have a contemporary edge- melted together and you get a track that is filled with fascinating details and sounds. It is during the chorus where Sweet displays her full power: the prowess and passion that radiates from her voice is amazing; every word drips with conviction and emotion- the mark of every great singer. As with the album’s opening track, Brave is built around few lines- not literally but there are not a huge amount- instead repeating couplets and thoughts: this not only makes it simple and effective but you find yourself singing along (by the middle stage). Many acts cram as many words into a song as possible (making it cluttered and hard to remember): our quintet manage to summon up myriads of emotions with fewer words than most. Backed by a fiery and frantic guitar arpeggio, Sweet is inspired in the final moments: making one last motion, she admits that she could not save her relationship- you feel as though it was for the best and not something that can be recovered. Completing the enlivening trio on Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals is Jezebel. Perhaps sporting the most immediate introduction, the band rustle up infernos, hell-fire intent and plenty of hailstorm- you could almost see the likes of AC/DC coming up with something similar. Invigorated by its energy- and surprised the band have yet again circumvented expectations- your hairs go on end: the sharp and feline guitar notes that intertwine (with the main riff) is an incredible touch- not only does it ramp up the tension, but it contains a slinky sexiness. When our heroine does come into the fold, she begins by offering warning: imploring Johnny- the song’s hero- to not go outside; the Devil hides- “she’s in disguise.” Early impressions create colourful scenes: the hapless focal point is unwittingly walking into the clutches of a demonic temptress: someone whom can chew up- and spit out- men with the faintest of come-hither looks. Wanting to turn away and relinquish her grip, Johnny is possessed by “those devil eyes“: he holds feelings he hates and is struggling to fight logic and rationale. It is said that our anti-heroine is an “angel“: it would appear that way because of her twisting tongue- she lies alas and is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The band’s stuttering and staggered composition gives the song a sense of fear and build-up: the mood is tense yet contains a raw and sexual blood- perfectly befitting of such a colourful tale. Sweet acts as an arbiter and voice of reason: looking from above, she sees the she-devil “pout them lips” and “crack that whip“- entrancing men into her Labyrinth of false promise; bodies and souls are being claimed night after night. The song presents scenes of classic movie femme fatales: a smoky and mood-lit bar holds a red-dressed, ruby-lipped goddess at the bar; drink in hand (a vodka perhaps?) she scans the room for her next ‘victim’: teasing her tongue and playing with her hair, the drooling unsuspecting have no chance of survival. Johnny is walking into the web: beckoned ever closer to her unholy lips, our hero needs to stay righteous- renounce temptation and walk away (how many men ever do that without learning a hard lesson!?). Johnny comes across as a dapper and well-dressed gent.: a man of few words, he is handsome enough to charm the likes of our Jezebel. “Temptation is easy“- let it be known- but “so is your death“: if you give into primal urges, you eventually succumb to them. The composition drives and enforces the messages: with a sound of late-’60s Blues-Rock, it is the sort of inspiring paen that the likes of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant could have had a ball with (back in their early days). Our heroine’s voice is alive with meaning and urgency: she knows that our hero will not get out unscathed- her warning signs become more impassioned and hard the more the song progresses. Mixing coos and growls with potent belts, Sweet laces the song with electricity, ferocity and seductiveness- quite a teasing temptress herself. Whilst not referencing herself (as the song’s vixen), you know our heroine has seen her share of dishonest and dangerous women: the kind that employ sexuality as weapon; toy with men and discard them aside- it makes the song relevent and universal; adding a new spin to a familiar scenario. The final words leave the cliffhanger: Johnny will get ever closer until he loses his grip; perhaps he will not escape or maybe Sweet’s song has steered him to safety. It is a fittingly evocative song to end a compelling and fantastic E.P.
Before I look at the songs and pass around my adulation, I want to mention one thing: the incredible production values. Too many times this year I have witnessed poor production: vocals get muffled and lose their intelligibility; things are either under-cooked and too raw or over-cooked and too crisp- here the balance is spot-on. You sense you are listening to the band in the live arena: in some charming and character-filled bar, it is as though they are singing straight from the stage. If it were a live album; words, elements and notes would get lost in the recording process- here there is immense clarity and precision. I did not have to turn the volume way up or strain my ears (playing music off an iPad means I often have to stick my head right to it- in order to hear some songs). Thankfully, I was afforded a pleasant and concise listening experience: it is not too polished or gleaming; all the emotions and raw vocals are allowed to strike and overwhelm; the band are not pushed to the back- the compositions sit equal in the mix and perfectly support our heroine. As impressive as that is, the songs themselves hit even harder. Right from the first notes, you are sucked in and seduced: the songwriting is consistently impressive and thought-provoking. Three different sides of love are looked at: fidelity and monogamy; dealing with the eminence of a failed love; the gorgeous harlots that use and toss men aside- such diversity and range across a trio of numbers. The lyrics never lose quality of edge: they are effective and stirring when talking of passion as they are surveying libidinous women of the night- few acts cram so much in to so few numbers. The decision to include three songs- and no more- works really well: a fourth number may have overcrowded the E.P.- that said, by the end of Jezebel I certainly wanted a lot more. That is the best thing the band has done: they ensure that your thirsts are not entirely quenched by the end of the final track- it means their next release will be snapped up and devoured. Personal pains are mixed with seedy characters; bravery and defiance rub shoulders with the realities of love: the songs not only give an insight into the band but are songs that everyone can relate to. There is no selfishness of subjectiveness: the five-piece have penned three tracks that will resonate with most of us. The compositions are layered and strong throughout: tying together Blues-Rock of 2014 with Rockabilly of the 1950s, they manage to seamlessly master each (disparate) genre. Soul, Blues, Country, Pop and Rock blend into the E.P.- there is so much going on that you need several listens to take it all in. The tracks not only hit and impress early, but compel repeated investigations: cuts such as Jezebel become more vivid the more you play them- quite a feat indeed. Before I wrap this section up, I must mention the band themselves. Ayton and Hamari take lead and rhythm guitar duties on (respectively): they not only carry their own weight and strengths- they combine marvellously and intuitively. Able to go from a sedate and measured calm to a rapturous and blood-curdling scream, the two instill a bucket-load of vibrancy and passion. Not only is it the range of notes that impress, but the range of genres: both play classic Blues as convincingly as modern-day Country- it gives the E.P. that extra professionalism and quality. Ste Hamari matches (his fellow Hamari’s) grandeur with his emphatic bass: it is an instrument not often highlighted (in reviews); here is adds stunning drive and emotion to each track. Joining all the different threads together- and keeping it level- Hamari manages to punch as hard as his guitar-wielding cohorts- he is especially impressive during the intros. With Parsons playing his drums with as much passion as I have ever seen, the entire band are tight and assured. Parsons has the task of adding heartbeat and primal rush to proceedings: he does this wonderfully on the final number; in the first two tracks his percussion offers a supporting shoulder, inquisitorial punch and firm resolution- so much texture and energy comes from his sticks; without them the songs would certainly be weaker. My final gold star goes to the band’s leader, Sophie Sweet. Her November Criminals are phenomenal: she steals your heart and thoughts. Her performances bring such life and emotion to the three songs: I have heard some fantastic singers this year; few have such a convincing and urgent voice- one that demands your attention and is capable of intoxicating completely. Each song is packed with so much to contemplate: emotion and heartache; determination and patience; foreboding and passion- her alluring and empowered pipes makes everything she sings sound effortless and essential. It was difficult picking a standout cut (from the E.P.): with each number, Sweet steps up her game and grows in stature: it will be fascinating to see how she develops as a singer (and what she comes up with next). I do hope we hear more releases from the Leeds quintet: their self-titled E.P. is a fascinating and exciting collection that demonstrates just how strong a unit they are- let us hope that a lot more music comes from them.
This week saw my first exposure to Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals: I have not heard a genuinely great Rockabilly act play for some while- none this century at least. I am sure there are a lot out there- there has to be- so I do hope that we see more come through the ranks: the Leeds quintet are sure to inspire a wave of local and national Rockabilly acts in next to no time. Their self-titled E.P. is crammed with life and fascinating insight. Their lyrics and topics explore tantalising avenues and adventures; the vocal delivery is traditional and authoritative- the music they provide implores you to dance, shout and sing. Many reading this- and looking at the word ‘Rockabilly’- may think the band are the same as the front-runners of the genre (of the 1950s): our quintet fuse modern-day acts like Jack White and The Black Keys- together with the likes of Bill Haley and Muddy Waters- to offer something genuinely new and fresh. They have taken the essence of the music- they are a departure from the likes of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley and updated it: modernised the flair and flavour of Rockabilly, but kept its heart and soul fully in tact. You can tell just how much fun they are having with the source material: each of the trio of songs (on their E.P.) shines with energy and passion- it is impossible not to get caught up in it all. The legacy musicians leave is an important one: it is vital to inspire the next generation and propel future creativity. The way this is done is by two methods: originality and quality. A lot of musicians get the whole ‘quality’ thing cemented- the issue of originality is the sticking point. In future years, music-lovers will be looking back at what 2014 produced: the sounds and best music that was on offer. If you are left with a wash of bands that all sound the same; indeterminate of distinction and quality, what do you do? The artists that stick out from the crowd- whatever genre they perform in- is the most essential thing: Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals have a fresh and invigorating sound that is imbued with quality and universality. Themes of lust, devil’s temptation and life’s proclivities are wrapped up in layers of glorious sound: Blues and Rockabilly elements are fused together; stirred in a modern-day pot of bubbling flavours- the resultant cocktail is flavoursome and intoxicating enough to knock you off your feet. I know the band have performed down in London- in addition to cities such as Manchester- so their talent is being recognised (at this early stage): it is likely that demands will be flowing in. Having such a particular and rare sound, it may take a little longer- than other acts- to get the recognition they duly deserve- it will come in time. If the likes of Little Violet have proven anything, it is that mining a rich vein of gold can lead to prosperity- she is an artist that will be a big name in years to come. It is a tough old task- cracking through the ice to reach the mainstream- so support and assistance needs offering to those that are truly deserving: Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals provide something different and exciting; vintage yet cutting-edge; familiar but truly unexpected- not many other artists offer this same unique blend. As I step aside from Yorkshire- for a few weeks at least- I find myself pondering and speculating: how will music look in the year 2015? Of course there will be some familiar acts pervading and campaigning; exciting new music will be coming through and looking for support- how much radical and distinct music will be coming forth? I still think that the best shots of glory lie within the new music scene: commercial music at the moment is not as stellar and distinguished as what is being created by the army of fresh musicians. The natural order will see them- the newbies- transcend to the mainstream; I feel it needs to happen sooner rather than later: so many people are missing out on some great acts- they get buried in the impersonal realms of the Internet. Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals have made some great strides (so early on): they have a clear and marked ambition that will work in their favour; their music has very few comparables- keep and eye on them in the coming years. They will eventually get some big-name recognition, but for now, they are playing to as many people as possible. Investigate their stunning E.P. and allow yourself to become immersed in something a little bit special. With the sun blaring- and the summer starting to finally arrive- it is the perfect time of year to get outside; turn your stereo up full- with a drink in tow- and let the music do its work. The next few weeks will see me take in everything from London Rock to U.S. Indie- with a mass of other treats in-between- so it is great to (once more) dip my toes into the U.K.’s most promising musical county. I perhaps (should not be surprised) that Yorkshire is such a thriving hotbed for stunning sounds: if you are not familiar with the music here- rectify that immediately! I’ll bid Yorkshire adieu; with one promise…
I’LL be back very soon.
About the Author:
Follow Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals:
Gig dates accessible at:
Sophie Sweet and Her November Criminals videos available via: