Los & The Deadlines
Feel At Ease
Feel At Ease is available at:
17th April, 2015
Rock, Alternative, Desert-Rock
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
Lyrics by: Alex Losardo
Music by: Los and the Deadlines
Recorded and Mixed by: Tobin Jones at The Park Studios
Produced by: Tobin Jones and Los and the Deadlines
Mastered by: Phil Joannides
IT is good to be back on familiar turf…
and focus on a band (I have reviewed a few times now). In 2013 (and last year) I was lucky enough to hear some new Los’ material- get a glimpse into their current mindset. Every time I came away (from reviewing the lads) I was left with the same sensation: how different they are. In terms of composition, the band is truly diverse- its members are sourced from various parts of the globe. In a music scene that promotes homogenisation- how many bands have men AND women; different nationalities and races together?- it is great to have Los & The Deadlines add some diversity- this multicultural approach feeds into their (glistening) music. I have a good point to raise (well, a POINT) at least, but for the moment, let me give you a short introduction (on the band):
Alex LoSardo – lead vocals, guitar
Niels Bakx – guitar and backing vocals
Rotem Haguel – bass and backing vocals
Alberto Voglino – drums and backing vocals
“The seedy underbelly of any major city spawns some of the most depraved and morally reprehensible bastards that even the dregs of civilization look down upon. These cretins walk amongst us, they ask you for money, they serve you drinks, they file your taxes, and in this case; they formed a band. In the their new EP, “Perfect Holiday”, the Deadlines have not only made the depiction of absurdities in modern-day’s western society their craft; they made it their mission. With their tongue-in-cheek lyrics, thrashing riffs and thumping rhythms, Los and the Deadlines are a prophet’s voice in a decaying civilisation. Much like the city that they hail from, the Deadlines are the establishment of anti-establishment. They make sound. They make noise.”
This snapshot into the band makes me smile. It may sound overblown and tongue-in-cheek- when phrases like “prophet’s voice in a decaying civilization” are expounded- yet there is some truth here: the band is a departure from their peers; they are an original and unique force- a group that makes sounds unlike any other. With fellow acts- that I have reviewed- such as Bi:Lingual and Allusondrugs rocking the (new music) scene, there is a scarcity of genuine bands- those that make REAL sounds. Yesterday, I reviewed Goldbirds- a new band who promise much- and was left relieved: another great band to get my teeth into. London is a city coming back to the fore: a capital that has not always been over-stocked with terrific music. Historically- when it comes to my reviews- the north has always provided (the finest acts) – the most diversity and most stunning flavours. Perhaps (still) less homogenised than London, there is a revival occurring: the capital’s finest are starting to make their voices heard. The mainstream has few impressive new bands- the likes of Drenge and Royal Blood (that name again) are few and far between. I love softer sounds: Pop-infused electronics; soulful power; stunning hybrid music- there is not enough to lodge in the imagination. New music provides the best chance (for future prosperity) and bands like Los & The Deadlines are in with a shout: a group with a festival-ready sound; a work ethic that feeds into every note and line (they perform). A lot of acts get scared by the music scene: feel the need to rush material out; release anything fearing they will be ignored (if they are not overly-prolific). Los & The Deadlines are less concerned: they have a style that is going to capture ears; they put time (and effort into their music) to ensure it is as good as possible- a trait that will set them up well for the future. Knowing the band- and Niels Bakxs in particular- the lads are excited about (the coming year): just what is in store for their crew. After their E.P. release- Part One: Bank was unveiled last year- they are preparing another (E.P.): something I am looking forward to. After launching their new website (link is at the bottom of this review) they are priming themselves for new gigs: getting their music to fresh faces; making sure they recruit new followers- and thrilling London as much as they can.
Los & The Deadlines’ new track has elements of their past work: they have kept their core intact; their subject matter has changed. Part One’ was released last year (in January) and looked at a range of subjects: banking; caffeine addiction; vanities and social media posturing among them. Representing the voice of the office drone; the man stuck in the queue- or as the band explained: “…the shriveled homunculus of every Tom, Dick, and Harry standing in the musty queue under those ugly fluorescent lights that fry your nerve endings.” The group tapped into modern malaise: channeled the frustrations of the everyday man; the nerve-shredding misery of life. Not all bluster and force, the band produced melody and range: Reggae strands mingled with Grunge; hypnotic jams and rampant percussion was on display- a quintet of tracks designed to resonate. Impressively cohesive and focused, the band displayed their close bond and tight-knit playing: each member is perfectly in-step and on board; the songs sound well-rehearsed (and a little loose) – a concoction that leaves you coming back for more. London is a beautiful city, yet repressible humans reside: the faceless banker; the vain poseur; the ugly-minded businessman- their debut E.P. lacerated each of them; tore through the disreputable kin- sprinkled around magical sounds and myriad ideas. Always strong songwriters, Feel At Ease is not a huge step forward: they have improved; they have always been hot and hard (out of the gate). Forming the first taste (of their forthcoming E.P.) one presumes we have a Part Two’ approaching- the second part (of a trilogy?), which will explore new themes- faded dreams and creative frustration are at the forefront of Feel At Ease. It will be great to see (what the new E.P. provides) but I suspect there will be new inspiration: the sound will be (as we expect from Los’) with some new stories on offer- fresh faces and new subjects being dissected.
For those looking for ‘sound-alike’ bands- for a start you’ll be struggling- then there are some jumping-off points- the likes of The Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age among them. Like The Mars Volta, Los & The Deadlines inject psychedelic progressions and head-spinning noodling; gripping vocals and unpredictable compositions- that keep the listener guessing and on edge. The Mars Volta- in most of their songs- are quite oblique and byzantine- their lyrics are open to interpretation. Los & The Deadlines are more direct and decipherable- they like to get their message heard and understood from the off. Queens of the Stone Age (one of my all-time favourite bands) give Desert-Rock grit and exceptional force- a band that is impossible to ignore. Like Homme’s crew, Los’ have a terrific ear (for classic Rock sounds) – channeling the Californians (with flavours of Led Zeppelin). The London-based band employ hints of others, whilst maintaining a distinct sound (very much of their own devising) – one of the most original groups on the current scene.
Feel At Ease springs straight into life- many of Los’ hallmarks come to the fore. Building off a twisted and contorted few seconds, the mood starts to temporise. Putting me in mind of early-career Nirvana, a bouncing (and springing) bass line replaces (the scrambled fury) – taking the listener in another direction. Hypnotic and pulsating, you get sucked into the song- the band does not throw heavy vocals straight in; the Spoken Word-style opening is a terrific decision. Dripping with sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek (although perhaps the song’s hero is being genuine) the idea of dream-seeking is explored. The opening lines make me smile and reflect: “I’ve got an idea to make some money on the side. It shouldn’t be too much work/Just an hour or 2 here and there. It’ll give me plenty of down time.” There is that tangible sense of debt and hardship: the song’s focal point is looking for some extra cash; a way to get out of debt- a friend of a friend (of a wheeler dealer-type figure). The vocal delivery is wonderfully evocative: filled with character and urgency, you really root (for the hero) – the band back him with some chugging and marching sonics. Like the intro. – and its shifting skin and style- the band notch up another gear: the vocal changes; the heaviness comes in- that sense of drama and unpredictability (is what makes the band so special). In the early stages, there is a sense of mystery and mystique: what is this “dream” that is being touted? Our hero is trying to live his dream; make a break and get to safety- is he referring to a music dream; the chance to be in the black (or something more sinister?). At its roots, the song (and the band themselves) are looking out at society: the need to get a quick fix; reap finance and success- with the slightest of efforts. In my mind, I think of the work shy and talent show contestants: people who want hand-outs and instant fame (without doing any work). Feel At Ease’s (anti-) hero wants to dig himself out (of the hole he is in) – clear his debt. The band have a devilish way of keeping the momentum going: the song builds and slows; it goes through stages- there is a real episodic and developing storyline. Like a mini film (or drama) playing out, the track never loses its smile. Backed by an incredible tight performance- the percussion sniggers and hisses; the bass twangs and contorts; the guitars steamroll and stutter- our man is back on the microphone. Letting his distinct voice- which made me think of a 1940s film icon like James Stewart- the woe is not over. In addition (to needing some money) life is getting more stressful- things are taking a turn for the worse. His contact is strangely out of reach- “Does he have a new number?”- and the tension is rising: the subject is getting more frantic and bereft. Whether speaking of a business plan- or a music-based pitch- the desperation comes out. Determined to reach (the mystery figure) all sort of ideas are expounded- including getting a part-time job (to be near the man); do anything it takes. Accepting reality, it seems a Plan-B is needed: a shot of sanity no less. I love the duel layers on display: the vocal is quirky and charming; gripping and distinct- you always root for this underdog. The band propel the lyrics with some wonderfully-realised performances: keeping tight and underplayed, the boys make sure there is always tension bubbling. By the 1:35 mark, a crescendo is unleashed: the chorus swings back in; it seems more electrifying and wonderful the second time around. When out lead takes a step back, it not only gives the music a chance to shine- it provides a chance to breathe too. Swaggering guitars fuse with guiding bass; the percussion crackles and robes- it is a wonderful parable. Throwing in some fuzzy (and scintillating) solos, the boys are clearly in their element: the confidence that comes through is hard to dismiss. Perhaps their most assured song, there is a great sense of fun and purpose: the boys clearly had a ball recording the track. Some Jack White-esque histrionics melt alongside some wordless vocals: the chorusing becomes augmented and domineering- before that chant-able chorus swings in. As the final moments are elicited, the boys unite in voice: the song’s title becomes a desperation cry; that need to feel less stressed and anxious- the chance to return to a normal life.
Kudos goes to the entire band- it is very much a group performance. The lyrics are filled with drama, wit and real-life reflection: we all know of someone who (is similar to the song’s hero). Like all Los & The Deadlines songs, there is honesty and modern life snapshots in focus: songs that the listener can connect with in a very real way. Presenting another twisting and stunning composition, Feel At Ease gains merit on many fronts. LaSardo is a terrific singer- and someone who always impresses me- who shows his range here. When the lyrics are spoken (or half-paced) he pronounces and projects with a real feel for the subject- the words are not lazily slung; they are perfectly acted and annunciated. When things get hot and heavy, his voice is sharp and feral- you get a real sense of pain and anxiety (exactly what the band want to happen). As a guitarist, he bonds supremely with his bandmate (Niels Bakx). The duo share vocals- Bakx is on backing vocals- and guitar duties: they have a real understanding of each other; their byplay and linking is superb. Not overthrowing the other, their twin fret work is exhilarating and tight. Bakx has always impressed me (with his guitar work) and here he comes into his own- at times (when he steps into the spotlight) you can hear his progression. In addition to working with other artists- including The Glass Child- he has had chance to increase his scope; grow in confidence and ability. One thing I forget to mention was (that the band) has a new recruit- Rotem Haguel is on board. When Soundgarden changed their rotation (around the time of Badmotorfinger) their new ally (bassist Ben Shepard) instantly gelled. Not only joining with songwriting duties, he slotted effortlessly with the band. Haguel sounds like an old mate and player: someone who was with the band from the embryonic moments. This is a good thing, as it makes Feel At Ease that much stronger- a weaker musician may have slowed and dismissed the track. Providfing some stunning bass work- that has elements of Krist Novoselic, Chris Wolstenholme and Flea- that provides oodles of melody, rhythm, sexuality, tension (and hypnotisation). Voglino almost steals the show with his drumming: at once snake-like and viper-like; the next it becomes raptured and flailing. Never unfocused or wandering, he guides and supports the band- keeping the song on the tracks and looking forward. Powerful and skillful, the percussionist shows what a force he is; one of the key weapons in the band’s arsenal. Overall, the band throws their all into their track- the result is another triumphant song. This bodes VERY well (with regards their new E.P.).
The future is going to be bright (for Los & The Deadlines). On April 29th, the band plays Lock 17 Camden: a change to premiere their new single. After that, there will be the E.P.: what it (will sound like) is anyone’s guess. What I can be sure of is the boys’ plight: the next year will see them grow in stature; accrue more fans; become bigger and better. Filled with confidence, assuredness and direction, the band is on fire: they have a new website; new visuals and promotional shots; fresh gigs on the horizon. With their brother Crystal Seagulls- another band I have reviewed a few times- they are taking London by the testicles: showing how good music can be. Feel At Ease is a tongue-teasing statement from a group in fine form: a group of lads who have a wide array of concerns; never content to stick with the samey subjects of their peers (my-heart-is-broken-poor me; vague and generic love songs). I cannot wait for the new E.P.: it will be a chance to see what Los & The Deadlines have on their mind; what is enforcing their (current sounds) – the new single is a tempting and stunning slice. The band impress in a number of different ways. As ‘people’ (personalities) they embrace their fans: they are everymen who represent the voices of the majority- and have a fun-loving and cheeky joie de vire. As much as anything, the guys know how to distinguish themselves: their music is not formulaic and processed; they have a sense of innovation you cannot fault. It is good to be back (reviewing Los & The Deadlines) as they always deliver- offer something exciting and memorable. As I said, the future will be a bright one: it can only be a matter of time until they are promoted to the big-time leagues- and win a headliner slot at a big festival. After the finger nail-shredding tension (of yesterday’s F.A. Cup semi-final), I was in need of something calmer and secure: whilst the boys do not do calm, they certainly do secure. Not in a boring and timid way: rather, they produce songs that alienate nobody; give you a glimpse into modern Britain- and reflect the voices of the many (and not just the few). Couple this with some terrific sounds and captivating vocals, and you know what they are about: a group that shine in every department. Feel At Ease– and its ironic title- is a teaser for what is ahead: another (I would presume) stunning E.P.; another step forward for Los’- make sure you check the band out. As I venture into the Sunday sun (when the sodding thing comes out) I feel strangely ill at ease: the band has a great way of uncovering (a person’s deep-hidden insecurities). That is the mark of a great act: when you force the listener to change their ways; thinking about their own lives…
THAT is always a good thing.
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