Honey is available at:
5th June, 2015
The E.P. Stand Your Ground is available at:
Stand Your Ground– 9.2
The Rains– 9.0
Time and Again– 9.3
Cease and Resist– 9.2
Stand Your Ground; Time and Again; Honey
Time and Again
12th December, 2014
ANOTHER day welcomes another band…
to my attention. From Americana and Blues sounds, today something new is afoot: a band that has crafted their own stamp on the Alternative/Rock scene. A lot of modern acts- that play in these genres- tend to tie too closely to other acts: lack originality and come across as a bit stale and forced- there are exceptions to the rules. In today’s scene- and with the amount of new acts coming through- the competition is pretty tough; there are few excuses for playing it safe- if you do not distinguish yourself, you will find yourself buried. The biggest variations (in music) come when you look to other genres- electronic music is perhaps ahead of the field. When you mix genres and sounds; take leaps and be innovative- that is when you come up with the best music. To my mind, the Alternative scene is becoming a little predictable: so many new artists lack that killer hook; their songs seem rather predictable and unmotivated- the whole sound comes off as insipid. This is a generalisation, yet there are some bands that buck the trend. For a start, the lyrics need to be unique: stay away from overused fell-in-love-had-heart-broken-what-will-I-do mandates; take time to craft words that have a distinct bent. Once that has been cracked, the music needs to stand apart. Too many acts present rather mundane and tired compositions; there are few surprises and distinguished moments- it leaves the listener somewhat disappointed. The vocals are vital, too: make sure they are filled with passions and urgency; do not sound too like anyone else- grab you from the first moment. Scout Killers are new out of the block: the band are taking their first steps; having released latest record (last year)- the band have already released an E.P.- the signs look good- fans and reviewers are pricking their ears; the five-piece stand apart from their peers; their heavy-cum-universal sound is proving very popular- and no surprise. Before I continue on, let me introduce Scout Killers:
“Scout Killers are a five piece alternative/rock/indie band that formed in late 2009 in the Bath and Bristol area. The band currently consists of Scott Cox (lead vocalist), Julien “Zombie Beast Man” Morrez (guitarist and backing vocalist), Beau Stevens (guitarist), Josh Ellis (bassist), and Chris Phillips (drummer).
The band draws its influence from such artists as Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age, Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s clear to see from their powerful live sets that they hold viscerally expressive vocals, atmospheric and foreboding guitar swells and shadowy rhythmic undertones high on their priorities when it comes to songwriting.
After a successful tour following the release of their EP “We Cage the Storm”, and a well-received music video for the single version of “The Waves”, it was time for the band to head to the recording studio. One bloody, sweaty, tear-filled year later, Scout Killers re-emerged.
Now, with their debut album released, and the music video for the album’s flagship song “No Reason” having been met with such a positive and welcoming reception from fans and critics alike, it’s no wonder that Scout Killers are being described as having a “very promising horizon ahead of them.”
Their new E.P./album (technically the former) Stand Your Ground is gaining positive feedback: their renewed confidence and fresh sounds are enlivening and festival-ready. Although their influences are somewhat overused- Queens of the Stone Age and Rage Against the Machine are obvious influences- the band do not rip them off; they channel their essence- tie them around their own voice and flair- and come up with something striking. One of the best things about the band is their location: based out of Bath, the boys are putting the city on the map. So many bands emanate from London/the north, so it is great to see a Somerset band come to the fore. I hearing what different parts of the U.K. are offering: you can get a real sense of an area, based on the music that comes through. A lot of London-based bands tend to be heavy and hard; further north there is more melody and range; Scottish bands are among the most innovative and unique. Too many new acts are scared of stamping their own footprint: they hear the mainstream bands do well and decide (the easiest course of action) is to take their sound; lazily repackage it and pass it as their own. Scout Killers have their own range of idols- and instill a little of each into their boiling pot- yet are determined to present their own voice; not come across as uninspired. Because of that, the band has built a solid fan-based. Critics and fans have been flocking to see the boys; reviews have been positive and laudatory: their new track is already gathering some pretty impressive praise.
To see how far the band has come, one must look back- investigate their previous output. Back in 2013 (in July) the band unveiled their debut album. Self-titled, the L.P. was rife with early promise: from the distorted/T.V./radio tuning introduction of Red Sky; the band went in hard- and stamped a unique take on things. Subverting expectations- and building up a lot of intrigue- it was a perfect opener. Tracks such as Too Close bristled with stadium-sized riffs- the sort Foo Fighters are masters of- and Long Way Round possesses heart and genuine emotion- a track that mixes tenderness with prowess; power and sensitivity. By the time we reach the closer (Push) the sense of innovation does not abate: the swansong is a perfect finale (to a tremendous L.P.). To my mind, the band has improved in the last couple of years. Their debut album was replete with sonic innovation and genuine talent. Perhaps a little indebted at times- certain verses/compositions reminded me of Californication-era Red Hot Chili Peppers; sometimes elements of Rage Against the Machine were too evident. From the debut days, the band has expanded their palette; brought in more diversity and range- in addition to crafting a more original and strong voice. The performances are stronger and tighter; the compositions more fascinating and multifarious; the songs more nuanced and memorable. Although there were exceptional songs from the off- the likes of Red Sky cannot be denied- the band are now more focused and confident. The songwriting is more rounded and assured; the lyrics more fascinating/varied- a stronger outfit altogether.
With so much quality throughout Stand Your Ground, Honey is perhaps the most ‘traditional’ Scout Killers track- that would remind you of their early work. Uniting their sapling sounds with more up-to-date influence/inspiration, the boys start with a huge kick. Earthy and sensual; pounding and primal, the sparse beats (that welcome the song in) are an early declaration- the potency and passion is stunning. Controlled and emotive, the band manages to whip-up infant fascination- with as few notes as possible. Yearning (guitar) strings melt with syncopated beats; reminding me of In Rainbows-era Radiohead- sensational cuts like Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and All I Need– the song remains controlled and firm whilst showcasing a real ear for emotional build. Perhaps the Radiohead comparisons are apt- little flecks and moments put me in mind of their finest moments- yet it is the band themselves that shout loudest- a very distinct product of Scout Killers. Swooning and floating; toe-tipping and serene, it is impossible (not to) get caught up in the introduction- it is one of the most perfectly-formed I have heard this year. After the majestic opening, the song starts to crank up; the vocal comes in- initial words look bedroom scenes (lights on; blinds should be closed- questions about fatherly love). Within a few lines- where our hero looks at an ingénue and distinct central figure- the song begins its mystique. In my mind, I was looking at a lonesome teen (female); someone who maybe is shallow and free from respect- maybe pushed away by her friends. The music video (on YouTube) sees a gorgeous young ballerina apply lip-stick; with a vacant stare, she is the embodiment of the song. Caught up in the rip-tide, the listener is powerless to escape- picture the scenes and imagery. With its accompanying video- that reminds me of Wild Beasts’ Albatross; shows the young star pirouette and dance alone; dazzle in the light- it perfectly soundtracks the song- helps to get behind the song’s meaning. The band keeps things level and focused; the composition trips and delicately plucks- the vocal is whispery and romantic; filled with passion and potency. Whoever the subject is- whether a former sweetheart or friend- you look at the song in two minds- caught between sympathy and a sense of condemnation. Our hero advises warning and caution- “look at only your mistakes”- and there seems piecemeal empathy. Whilst the verse progresses, things become clearer- the verse looks at a romantic partner; someone who has come crawling back (to our lead)- and light is shed. Many songs look at similar themes- a former love comes back for more; causes much heartache and worry- yet Scout Killers find a new spin; do not make the song too heavy and accusatory- there is an underlying sense of forgiveness and tolerance. Couple a griping and swooning vocal; a rich and engaging composition, and there is scant vitriol- making the song more three-dimensional and loveable. By the chorus, the composition becomes harder and granite- Grunge shades of Ten-era Pearl Jam- as our lead lets his voice soar. The band does not stray too far from a tried-and-tested presentation- in terms of the compositional elements and structure- but this works in their favour. They do not wander or needlessly divert; instead keep the song focused and tight- instead adding ounces of beauty and grace. A perfect soundtrack- for either your summertime festival throngs or late-night moonlight drives- the song soothes the sense and spikes the brain- the track is both gentile and forceful. By the midway point, the composition starts to change a little: the percussion becomes more prominent; the vocal more determined and soulful. Our hero looks at his girl; the ambitions and dreams she had; what she wanted to be- the sense she has wasted time and clung on to a life raft too long. By the second introduction of the chorus, the scene becomes heavier still- the composition gets fiercer and the sense of anger more evident. Mixing traditional Alternative shades with bespoke Scout Killers qualities- their ear for compositional dynamics and emotional deployment. Essentially, the band knows when to hit it hard; how to get the biggest reactions from the music- how to build a song up. Before the track is through, the band let the composition into the spotlight. The guitars start to chug and sway- like a huge wave crashing the rock- those Grunge/Alternative shades become more persistent (and replace earlier calm and tenderness). Combining with the chorus, the guys rise ever higher- the vocal is at its most tortured here. Straining and roaring, our lead reaches for the heavens (or perhaps Hell I guess) as the song comes to its conclusion- and leaves the listener with questions. Wondering whether issues were resolved- whether our hero will repeat patterns of the past; his girl will figure out what to do- there is that sense of mystery. Whilst not their finest track, Honey is a perfect example of their modern work: it shows how far they have come; what confidence and quality they have at their disposal- a band that deserves a huge following.
Each member (of the band) turns in an exceptional performance. Since 2009- when the band recruited its ranks from the Bristol and Bath area- the guys have become stronger and more confident. Their Cage the Storm E.P. – forgot to mention it early; essentially a natural playmate of their debut album- was a terrific effort; their current work is their strongest. Scott Cox’s lead vocal is very much his own: there are shades of Eddie Veder and such- yet nothing too obvious or scene-stealing. His voice has developed and matured- since the earliest days- and his sense of passion and urgency is at its peak. Capable of ranging from an impassioned coo- in the early stages/verses- to a blood-curdling assault—the latter moments- it is a stunning performance. Cox very much takes you inside the song; grips the imagination and senses- his aching tones come across as completely genuine and true. Julien Morez (“Zombie Beast Man”- must be a family name) and Beau Stevens unite their guitars. Covering a huge amount of ground- from gentle and plaintive lows to enraptured highs- they showcase a huge amount of talent and skill. Very much unique players, the duo conspire with a sense of unity and intuition- neither player steps on the other; they fuse their guitars to create a fantastic thing. Josh Ellis’ bass guides the song forward; it is the heartbeat of Honey that guides the song forward. With his unique voice- he fills the song’s spaces superbly; creates a distinct sense of identity and rhythm- his bass fits wonderfully with the band. Seamlessly fitting in the fold, the bass work supports the percussion; emphasises the mood of the song- elevates the composition hugely. The percussion work (from Chris Phillips) is exceptional throughout. In the early stages, he elicits punchy beats: acts as an accelerated heartbeat; maybe a strike of anxiety- he manages to create a sense of atmosphere and (building tension) with a single beat. As the song develops, his drum becomes faster and more empassioned- towards the end it is a firestorm of passion. Never pushed to the back- his beats, at times, are right at the forefront- he perfectly supports the band; keeps things tight and controlled- whilst proving what an essential player he is. The entire band are tight and in-step throughout; the track is a natural evolution from the band- they show just what a tantilising prospect they are. Combining mainstream qualities with underground grit, Honey is a song at home on the airwaves (Absolute Radio and XFM) as it is at small (and sweaty) clubs. It has sweeping emotion and a desire to be loved; a sense of rebellion and plenty of anger- all the things you want from a song.
Having listened (to the entirety) of Stand Your Ground, you can hear that confidence and passion: the band is not in it for the short-term; they have a desire to become festival mainstays- they have the potential to be just that. Each (of the five tracks) bristles with energy and emotion; the performances are universally exceptional- the title track is the perfect kick-off. Starting with moodiness and build-up, there are strings and echoes; ghostly vibrations and electronic buzz- a real mixture of moods. Perfectly blended, the song punches and kicks; that neon fuzz is joined with sparking guitar- the combination elevates the song hugely. Anthemic and defiant, the boys are standing their ground: our hero stands with his subject; fighting against the tide they are overcoming the odds- and not backing down. With its swaggering and bolstering composition- that marries delicious riffs with powerful percussion- the song gets under the skin. Completed with a lustful vocal; a huge amount of passion and it is the perfect lead-off. The Rains begins more urgently- than its predecessor- and chugs into life; building steam it is a compelling number. The vocal contains its patented blend of urgency and emotion: the composition itself is at its fervent peak- threatening to explode under the weight of things. Teasing and testing; scenic and simple, the track is another gem- one that compels the listener to picture the scenes; immerse themselves in the music. Time and Again is one of the most curious tracks: its introduction is lighter and more summer-like; there is a calm and serene breeze to it. Almost an acoustic-led number, the track shows the band more restrained and reflective. With a vocal that mixes breathiness and seductiveness, the band is in introspective mode. Perhaps with a little edge of Pearl Jam (and their calmer, yet more emotive moments) the track never explodes or betrays its roots. Wonderfully performed and gripping, those vivid lyrics come to the forefront: rain battering down; the need to protect (his sweetheart/friend); the building tensions. Acting as a safeguard, our hero pours his heart out; the song acts as a declaration- the band are more than up to the task. Tight and seamless, the entire song shows the lads at their most intuitive- one of the best tracks from Stand Your Ground. Cease and Resist has a spooky and hard-hitting beginning; ethereal build and squalling riffs marry together- it is the hardest track on the record. Primal and brutal, the song clatters and claws; feeds and lusts- the band spring into life. A perfect swansong, the song is impossible to ignore. With a vocal that remains calmed- well, it does not scream- the song is one of the stand-outs. The composition is one of the most dizzying: twirling strings and jumping riffs spar with tight and menacing bass; the percussion snaps and strikes- a fitting end to Stand Your Ground. With its ferocious lust- still ringing in the ears- it is a memorable song- one that shows what a range the band has.
It is this range that defines Scout Killers: they do not stick with one tired sound; they vary their ambitions and projections- without sacrificing their own identity. Sure, there are elements of Rage’ and Queens’- some little sniffs of Linkin Park in the finale- but the south-west boys are their own boss: a group that have their own tales and ideas; keen to break away from the pack. I know how hard they have worked; how hard they tour- they are keen to get their sounds heard by a large audience. Their social media numbers are rising; their name is starting to gather huge pace- Stand Your Ground is their statement to the world. Honey is the perfect introduction to the band: it fuses their hard and passionate edges; some softer and more melodic centres- words that burrow into the mind and speak to the listener. One of the most tight and well-rehearsed bands I have heard, their music sounds seamless and perfectionist- yet they have a great loose vibe to things. It is only left for me to implore the band to come down our way (London). As part of their tour, the band play Newcastle, Birmingham and Oxford- let’s hope they have a London date very soon. There would be venues willing to house them; some right on my doorstep, so it would be great to see them- I can imagine they are a fantastic live proposition. In a week where I have seen one of my favourite acts (Bi:Lingual) call time, I am keen to help bands survive- too many terrific artists have had to break-up; overcome by the lack of public support. Scout Killers should have no such fears. Their fan-base is pretty loyal and dedicated; they are gaining new ground (by the day) – hopefully they will recruit new followers very soon. In an age of sound-alike and uninspired bands, it is great to see Scout Killers succeed- I cannot wait to see where they go from here. I suggest you snap up Stand Your Ground– you can get it on their BandCamp page- and investigate Honey (and its terrific, balletic-themed video). The lads are on a rampant charge; they have talent in their arsenal- a group to keep your eyes on. If you are looking for a new muse; a band that ticks all the boxes; differs from (the tiring norm) then look no further…
I know just the guys!
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