The 350th: Foreplay is for Cowards- A Celebration of New Music

The 350th:

Espresso Shot

Foreplay is for Cowards-

 

A Celebration of New Music

 

 

 

AS I ‘celebrate’- well, wonder how the hell I did it- the 350th blog post, I decided to do something different…

and put together a playlist- that which celebrates the best of new music.  Having reviewed a lot of acts- from around the world; all different ages- it was great digging through SoundCloud- seeing which songs would fit in (hopefully my arranging/producing skills are passable).  It is not just celebrating new music; there is a charity component: users/listeners are encouraged to visit a JustGiving page- I have set up- and donate (to The British Red Cross).  In as much (as they do) terrific work- often in extreme and dangerous circumstances- they are desperately under-funded- and need support now.

Across the 21-track collection, there is a great mix of sounds: from the new Pop sound of Jen Armstrong to the upbeat Blues of Jonnythefirth- with lots of diversity in-between- there is something for everyone!  Take a listen to the playlist and enjoy!  I have called it Foreplay is for Cowards because (and not that I believe that statement) it a) sounds like a cool album title (my first two- if I get a band- would be Marriage: A Beautiful Revenge and American Genius) and b) it begged a simple- yet effective- ‘album cover’- something I whipped up for the project.  Not sure if I will make it to 500 blog posts- which is why this event may not be as arbitrary as it seems- and I want to highlight some of my favourite/hardest-working musicians- there are many more (I want to include).  Maybe on the 400th we will do it again; do something special- maybe get everyone together at a gig.

For now; enjoy the music and remember to donate- all the links and information is below.  Once you have done that, check out the acts included- these guys have tonnes of quality songs.  Thanks for reading and supporting the blog: here’s to the next 350 (you may be bored stiff of my by then)!

Peace X

Playlist link: https://soundcloud.com/samliddicott/sets/foreplay-is-for-cowards

JustGiving link: https://www.justgiving.com/Sam-Liddicott8/

E.P. Review: Los and the Deadlines- Perfect Holiday

E.P. REVIEW:

 

Los and the Deadlines

 

Perfect Holiday

 

9.5/10.0

 

Perfect Holiday is available at:

https://losandthedeadlines.bandcamp.com/

RELEASED:
13th July, 2015

GENRES:
Alternative, Rock, Grunge

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

U.K.

TRACK LISTING:

Feel at Ease9.6

It Could Be So Much Better9.5

The Youth’s Opinion9.6

Batshit Crazy9.5

Lust to Shop for Nothing9.5

DOWNLOAD:

Feel at Ease, The Youth’s Opinion, Lust to Shop for Nothing

STANDOUT TRACK:

The Youth’s Opinion

 

Lyrics by Alex Losardo

Music by Los and the Deadlines

Band:


Alex LoSardo –
lead vocals, guitar

Niels Bakx – guitar and backing vocals

Rotem Haguel – bass and backing vocals

Alberto Voglino – drums and backing vocals

Recorded and Mixed by Tobin Jones at The Park Studios

Produced by Tobin Jones and Los and the Deadlines

Mastered by Phil Joannides

Artwork by Alberto Voglino

WHEN you get to a certain point with an act…

you have to cut to the chase.  There is no need for a lot of background; a big build-up: Los and the Deadlines (have been on these pages) a number of times; almost like old friends- most of you will be aware of them.  Before I get down to business- via some biography and background information-  I will raise one point: longevity and modern-day bands.  Some of my favourite ‘underground’ bands- Crystal Seagulls, The Bedroom Hour etc. – have called time- bands in the mainstream have split up: it seems great music does not guarantee a long-term future.  In the case of the aforementioned bands, the issue lies deeper: aspects around management and relations; personal fulfillment and finance.  It is such a shame this has to happen: great acts (who make great music) forced to quit, in spite of their glorious sounds.  With so many new acts coming through; so much competition (for festival/gig spots), people are being forced out- only a select few go the distance.  I am all for bands/acts coming through; great musicians coming to attention: the more musicians we produce, the less likely we are to see consistency.  There is this trend towards brevity and short burst: bands come and succeed; they are then overcome by pressure/external factors; a new band comes along (and repeats the process).  Seldom do we see- in the realm of new music- acts that last a long time- several years; produce many albums and E.P.s.  Maybe I am over-simplifying, yet my point is valid: life expectancy is fairly short-lived; not too many people acts have a long career- it is quite upsetting to see.   Before I finish my point- with regards Los and the Deadlines- let me introduce them to you (using their own words):

“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 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.”

Here is a group that will overcome the odds: forge a long career and make a great show of things.  With their latest E.P. out- which I will review later- the band are growing in confidence: their music is getting stronger and they show no signs of slowing.  The relationships in the band are solid and brotherly; the boys have a clear respect for one another- this comes through in their music.  With regards other factors- finance and competition- the Los’ lads seem to be overcoming it: they are one (of few bands) who seem unlikely to split: I can see them playing on for many years; becoming headline regulars.  It is hard to pin-point the one reason behind this; why they seem so solid- the music itself is a key factor.  In a scene of over-familiarity and sameness, Los and the Deadlines do things differently: the band mix ‘90s Grunge with modern Rock; their lyrics mix modern life with politics; their anthems are unique and original- few other acts can be tied to them.  It is not just their originality that defines them: the sheer confidence they project is hard to refute; it makes every note so vital and urgent.  The combination of forces- the great relations and terrific music- marks the band out for greatness- expect to hear a lot more from them.  Perfect Holiday is their latest offering: to my mind, the finest work they have produced to date.

Barreling out the gates (like a horny rodeo bull), Feel at Ease is a demented and feral thing- a snarling track that wants to eat you alive- well, in the initial moments at least.  The song’s intro. mixes distortion with tease; jumping bass with rolling-rock percussion- a typically dizzying/head-f*** opening from Los and the Deadlines.  Taking your brain one way; your body the other; that bass twang lodges inside your brain- before our front-man steps up to the mic.  Having reviewed this track previously- back in April of this year- I knew what to expect: over the last three months, the song has revealed new beauty.  Looking at the central figure- someone who has a ‘big plan’ to make money and get on his feet- that mixture of despondency and hope is infectious.  We all can relate to that loser-in-the-face-of-the-odds struggle: someone who is desperate for a bit of money; convinces himself safety is just around the corner- a lyrical subject not too many bands touch upon it.  Tired (our hero is) of trying to achieve the dream, he is walking the streets- looking for a way out of his struggles.  Looking for a “quick fix”, our man is trying everything he can: that need to feel at ease is paramount.  Entrancing as the lyrics/vocals are- and the distinct Spoken Word-style LoSardo delivers them- the band joins the fray- delivering an impassioned and quirky composition.  The guitars chug and jive; the percussion hisses and teases- the bass twangs and strikes.  As our hero speculates and worries- paranoia grows; his ‘contact’/way out seems to have a dead phone; it seems like he has been screwed-over- the vocal gets anxious and sweaty (our hero needs a Plan-B).  Just as another parable is delivered, the band changes direction: the music becomes focused and hard, Grunge-like (Nirvana’s early work comes to mind) and pressing- although never too heavy or forceful.  The band’s twirls and spirals; solos and arpeggios add emotion and drama to proceedings- the song seems like a film score or tangible thing (their instruments represent heartbeats and anxiety; the emotions of the hero).  Additive and sing-along, Feel at Ease boasts a memorable chorus: the entire track whizzes by (actually it is 3:29 long) but you are left wanting more- entranced by its magic and mystique.

   It Could Be So Much Better begins with a punchy beat: soon joined by a leather jacket-clad guitar (sounding a bit like glory days AC/DC), it is a fantastic opening.  Controlled and confident; teasing and underplayed- the band tempt you in from the opening seconds.  As the title suggests, our hero wants things to be better: the song looks at the malaise of modern life; the boredom of the situation- that need for something else.  Our front-man is caught in a daze (On T.V., nothing ever changes. It’s getting boring/Open up my cupboard to look just for the right booze”); junk food and cigarettes are on his mind- almost as a way to medicate the realities of life.  The chorus is spoon-fed and teased; highlighting the importance of the words- and getting the listener invested in the song.  By the time the second verse appears, our man looks out at the world: the way humans can become better; the wat we can “start evolving.”  Typical of the band, the music speaks as loud as the lyrics: the composition fuses Grunge and Alternative; dark grumbles and static beats- to create something moody and angry; grumbling and concrete- underlining and emphasising the band’s messages.  Looking into modern life and the workplace, our front-man is bored: his boss is disgruntled; our man wants better from life- “Pretty sure I won’t be here tomorrow.”  Past the half-way mark, the band unleashes a twirling coda: guitar notes crackle and spark; the percussion spits and strikes; the bass guides and lunges- an epic soundscape begins to unfold.  Expanding and elongating- throwing in some new sounds and diversions- the band goes full frenzy: ramping things up and rushing for the heavens- before the chorus comes back to play.  With his voice more urgent and bold, our hero is wracked and determined- a man who knows things need to be improved.  A likely future-single- and a song that ha myriad music video options- would kill to direct the hell out of that puppy- it is a terrific sophomore number.  Once more touching on the everyday, the boys highlight a common issue: that need to break from the mundane; the frustration of the workplace- the desire to do something meaningful in life.  Completing a tremendous 1-2, Los and the Deadlines have rarely sounded more assured- It Could Be So Much Better is one of their finest (and most assured) number so far.

   The Youth’s Opinion is next off the blocks: it wastes no time in making its voice heard.  Feet-tapping and s***-kicking, it is an introduction that stumbles drunkenly.  The album works like a concept work: a central character that progresses (as the album does).  The opening number looked at desperation and scraping- relaying on half-arsed leads and dodgy deals.  The following track sees him in a mundane job; determined not to stick it out- looking to change the world.  By this stage, we see some development: this song is a musical job interview; that series (of inane questions and job requirements) – almost like our man is trying his luck again.  Whether speaking in the first-person- or documenting the events of a fictional character- it is another addictive and unique number.  The lyrics stand out here; the real-life/common quandaries are laid bare- again, we can all relate to what is being sung.  From the banalities/purposelessness of job interviews (Please provide at least two references/We’ll decide if they’re strong enough relationships”) there is a mix of world-weariness and sarcasm- that juvenile spit that shows distain (for such noxious logarithms and mathematics).  The chorus is a mixture of desperation-cum-submission; our man looks at the requirements of the job market (“I’ll do anything, anywhere, any given time/I’ll never ask what is fair, I will never whine”); backed as it is by cooing vocals- giving it a great mix of Pop and Rock; adding some light amidst the anxiety.  Complete with terrific vocals (including backing vocals) our hero mixes speaking and singing (excellent delivery when speaking; emotion and passion when singing) adding weight and emotion to the song- and emphasising Los and the Deadlines’ hallmarks.  The song itself could have a few meanings: in addition to the workplace it could look at the music industry itself (that desire to tick boxes in order to survive) or a relationship dilemma (“Take me now, take me here, promise not to leave/I need a chance, give me a chance, PLEASE”).  Building up the mystery, adding in some great delivery- a mixture of David Byrne and Bloc Party- the song whizzes and dances; trading vocals (inside one another)- you are captivated by its layers and details as they unfold.  The song’s title seems most prescient: that need to fit into what youth want; to fit into the 18-30 market- whether their opinions are inane and stupid (as they tend to be) or not.  Punctuating the song- and coming in around the half-way point again- the band provide some breathing room: a well-structured and strong compositional moment arrives; a wonderful bridge that provides a real sense of progress and development.  The final verse is fast-paced and angry- lines are separated by little bursts of guitar and punctuation- as our man ups the (sarcasm) ante (“Congratulations, we are willing to offer this permanent position with 20 days holiday per fiscal year, this will involve unsocial hours and you’ll need to provide a track-record of meeting targets, good writing skills, excellent face-to-face communication, savvy with social networking and really do value the youth’s opinions..”).  When these words are delivered it has me wondering: are the band speaking about the music industry itself; showing their dissatisfaction with ‘market goals’- making music that will satisfy social media needs/a sector that want things a particular way?  Roaring and rollicking, The Youth’s Opinion is a brilliant midpoint track- and shows how strong the band are (turning in one of their most compelling and tight performances).

The penultimate number is Batshit Crazy: a song, presumingly not about fine love or tender romance.  Starting with- an intro. that, strangely, mixes Reggae and Funk into the mix- the band do not go crazy in the initial phase- making sure the song begins with passion and kick; rather than fury and vengeance.  Echoing and spacey (the early guitar utterance’s vibrate and wail) the boys change direction again- never staying with a basic/predictable sound; making sure their songs sound different and distinct.  Looking at a disreputable scene- delivering his sermon with that blend of judgment and revulsion- our hero has seen some things- strip clubs and poles; a 16-year-old selling herself; his stomach turns as things unfold.  You can picture the lyrics; see what is going on- sympathise with our hero’s plight.  In an insane world, these types of occurrences are quite common.  If we go down two avenues- the concept album developing for one; a new social issue the other- it is a fascinating song.  Maybe our lead/character has reached a breaking-point: dissatisfied with the world, he needs to blow off steam- the way he is doing it has caused disgust and regret; maybe a necessary wakeup call.  In terms of a message/theme, the band looks at the seedy and dark underbelly: the dank corners of society that need to be eradicated and purified.  Alarmed by the city (“Her smoke is done, she rolls another/A man from the corner shouts he loves her!”) our hero is in disarray- the vocal is particular emotionally-fueled and tense.  Without change or innocent, the chorus seems pretty apt- and a good a way as any (to describe what is happening).  Marrying frenetic strings (with something taut and punchy) the band are on Red Alert- the composition is one of the most frantic on the E.P.

Taking Perfect Holiday to land, Lust to Shop for Nothing is a sensational closer: a track that makes its impressions instantaneously.  Melting howling and snarling strings with combustible drumming, the introduction is alive and flailing: one of the strongest opening statements on the record.  Consistently nervy and stressed, the vocal is gripping and tense: if we follow the story along, our man has reached a breaking-point.  The song looks at consumerism and wastage: blowing money on things we don’t need; dislocated from reality, we/the subject blows money on pointless objects- leaving little left for rent and necessities.  The dissatisfaction is almost palpable in the early phases- “Baby I’m broke, got nothing left/Had a bad month, just paid the rent/Here’s my credit card just spend a little less”- as our hero rallies against the insanity.  Essentially, we spend too much time behind the screen: shopping and frittering away the time; forgetting the importance of human touch and reality check- using money prudently and wisely.  Shades of Queens of the Stone Age come out in the song- the composition has elements of their Rated R-era work- with our front-man sounding a little (Josh) Homme-esque at times- whether the band are influenced by Q.O.T.S.A., I am not too sure.  Whereas previous numbers have expanded and evolved, Lust’ is more focused and linear- in order to get its message across effectively.  A cry to the masses, the band is completely in step: the composition is emphatic and filled with detail; the vocals combine and multiply- the energy and emotion involved is electrifying.  As you’d expect from the lads, the midpoint gives way to musical adventure: having delivering some truths, the band unveil a stunning statement.  Brash and pugnacious; syncopated and considered, the boys are in top form: at this point they unleash their tightest and most intriguing moment.  It is hard to ignore that sense of judgment and dissatisfaction: the ideal that online shopping and the Internet is replacing real life/human interaction- we are becoming slaves to the machine.  When the next verse starts to kick into life- “I had such a good time, what did you do?/Thank you so much, you’re too kind/I was at home looking for deals online/Let’s stay in tonight, see what we can find”- that combination of sarcasm and dissatisfaction comes into the spotlight.  Our man is caught in a relationship that offers boredom and the indoors; no romance or reality- just needless surfing and shopping.  Whilst the protagonist wastes time (shopping for nothing), our man has reached his limit- maybe he feels guilty he is not too dissimilar.  The closing notes give the E.P. a fitting send-off: the guitars ramp up and attack; the drum rolls and pummels; the bass leers and contorts- perfectly wrapping-up a terrific track.

The entire band should be applauded and commended: they have really put in a lot of effort; come up with their strongest record to date.  Whereas Part One: Bank looked at financial issues and caffeine; consumer life and woes, here they tackle new themes: finance and consumerism are still in place; the job market and online issues are brought to the fore.  Whereas Part One’ looked at inane Facebook posts/’selfies; Perfect Holiday focuses on online shopping- the band are always brilliant at tapping into modern concerns/habits.  Throughout the five tracks, the boys look into woes of society- the stresses of pointless jobs; the way we throw away dreams and life- and funnel it into terrific anthems.  Forgoing love and break-up stresses, the band are original and more vital- why waste time saying the (same as anyone else) where there are important themes to be explored?  The performances are uniformly exceptional- the entire group is in perfect sync.  Alex LoSardo marks himself out as one of Rock’s most distinct singers: someone who pairs Spoken Word commentary with emotive vocals.  Most bands- who play similar music- sing everything in full voice: it is one-dimensional and predictable.  As Los and the Deadline’s lead, LoSardo does things differently- not content to let the lyrics do all the talking.  His lyrics filled with stunning commentary and witty moments; brilliant cut and oblique avenues- one of the most accomplished set of lyrics the band have crafted.  Most songwriters stick to tried waters- love and heartache; nothing too unique- yet LoSardo has a very special type of talent: he is someone who wants to make changes in the world; a person that wants to speak for his generation- and not just speak for himself.  Niels Bakx shreds it with passion- combing effortless with the front-man- and showcases his full range of emotions.  A spectacular guitarist- and one who has played with many other acts- mixes the theatrics of Matt Bellamy, the Rock grit of Page and Hendrix; the Grunge and Kurt Cobain and Kim Thayil- a multifarious and diverse guitar talent.  Adding so much passion and importance to proceedings, Bakx almost steals the show: his guitar work is exemplary and inspirational from start to finish.  Rotem Haguel- the band’s new recruit- provides bass and backing vocal.  The former is consistently guiding and authoritative: keeping each track controlled and focused; guiding the band through every moment- making sure it all ties together.  When combining his voice (with LoSardo) you get a great blend of tones: something that adds great weight to the songs (he sings on).  A fantastic addition, Haguel demonstrates himself to be a phenomenal player: one of the most expressive and instinctive bass talents in modern Rock.  Completing the line-up is Alberto Voglino: the band’s backbone and percussion king.  At once primal and animal-like; the next teasing and restrained, Voglino combines drumming gods- Grohl and Peart; Ulrich and Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age)- into his special blend- one of the biggest names to watch.  Together, the band is tight and mesmeric; nobody misses a beat- the entire effect is fantastic.  Backed by terrific production values, Perfect Holiday is a tremendous achievement: an E.P. that brims with TUNES and insight; modern relevance and riffs; fist-pump and demure- what more could you possibly want?


Perfect Holiday is Los and the Deadline’s most impassioned work: the band have come on leaps and bounds; created their mist solid work- the most vital statement of their music.  From the earliest notes, the listener has little time to rest: every hook, riff and vocal gets under the skin; the lyrics are quotable and stunning; the band performances consistently tight and inspired- the overall effect quite spellbinding.  Usually when a band unveils an E.P.- especially when there are four or five songs on it- there is a weak link: that one track that is not quite as special as the rest- the supermodel who breaks winds when nobody is looking.  When Los’ produced Part One: Bank (in January of 2014) that E.P. was great: I did feel that the opening two numbers could have been a little stronger; perfect a tad more urgent- to make sure you are gripped from the go.  Perfect Holiday suffers no such slight: Feel at Ease is a gripping and nuanced opener that reveals something new (with each listen).  The London-based clan has undergone a slight band change (a new-ish member in the fold); their lyrical focus has shifted a bit- whilst still retaining their cores of social commentary, relations and personal investigation- whilst their musicianship is stronger than ever- their current E.P. shows no weakness or surrender.  Even as you look at the E.P.’s cover- a dilapidated (and possibly bomb-destroyed) building- there is sarcasm, irony and juxtaposition: the boys have a keen sense of humour; political edges to their music- that destructiveness and anger; beauty and restraint.  Although their ‘Shows’ page- on their official band website- is blank, keep your eyes peeled: the boys will surely be taking to the road; playing around London for sure- promoting the E.P. with a vengeance.  If you can catch them live- and it is something I am yet to do- then I would recommend it: the band’s live reputation is legendary; the boys put on a hell of a show.  With Perfect Holiday fresh in the minds, it will be interesting to see what happens next- whether the band are going to rest or pound the tarmac instantly.  The lads deserve a rest: their E.P. is the summation of endless hard work and effort; fettling and perfecting- making sure it is the very best it can be.  Brimming with quality songs and memorable moments, the future looks very positive- and will be great to see what comes next.  Of course there will be (a lot more) music afoot: I am curious whether the boys will decide to record an L.P. – record a 10 or 11-track album and expand upon their sound.  It is great to see Los and the Deadlines again; I am always cheered when they release new material- their current effort is the perfect soundtrack to the summer.  Complete with epic riffs and stunning moments; cutting lyrics and anthemic performances, here’s a band that will go the distance- their music can be appreciated by all.  If you are looking for a new band- one that will keep coming back/last the distance- and a unique sound, then get on board with Los’- ignore them at your peril.  In (a music industry) where there are predictable evils- the rise and success of mediocre and horrendous Pop acts- and unpredictable moments- great bands splitting- Los and the Deadlines are calm waters- dip your toes in.  Sit back, relax and breathe: and let their music…

BLOW you away.

 

________________________________________________________________________________

Follow Los and the Deadlines:

Official:

 http://www.losandthedeadlines.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/losandthedeadlines

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/losdeadlines

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/losdeadlines/

 _____________________________________________________________________

Music:

 _________________________________________________________________________

 Video:

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

 

__________________________________________________________________________

Gigs:

http://www.losandthedeadlines.com/?page_id=577

 

______________________________________________________________________________

Track Review: Victory Kicks- Died a Patriot

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Victory Kicks

  

Died a Patriot

 

9.4/10.0

 

The album High Wires is available at:

https://victorykicks.bandcamp.com/album/high-wires-lp

TRACK LISTING:

Writers’ Strike- 9.2

No Great Shakes- 9.3

Concept Car 9.3

Died a Patriot9.4

High Wires- 9.4

Ended with Theft- 9.3

Spring Bulletin- 9.2

The North Fall- 9.4

Lancaster Gate 9.3

Wherever She Writes- 9.3

DOWNLOAD:

Died a Patriot, High Wires, The North Fall

STANDOUT TRACK:

Died a Patriot

RELEASED:
20th July, 2015

GENRES:
Alternative, Rock

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

U.K.

All songs written by John Sibley.
Recorded and Produced by John Sibley. London 2015

Unmanned Aerial Vinyl 2015. UAV-VKLP002

 

IT is always good revisiting an act…

that I have previously assessed- to see how they are progressing.  Music- or in this age at least- is defined by short-term lust: acts tend to come and go; there is a lot of transitory appeal; artists dissipate before you know it- before a new one comes along.  If you can remain and pervade- stick in the imagination and keep producing work- you are onto something.  It may be an over-simplification, but most new artists tend to not last too long- only a selected few last the distance.  I guess it is the nature of the beast: with the competition out there- and the amount of money needed to record music- it is inevitable in a sense.  That seems to be the impression I get (when looking at the new acts of the mainstream) yet new-new music- acts of the underground; away from the mainstream- do things a little differently- there is less pressure to succeed here.  Those starting out are building up their name; just beginning their careers: as a result, they are determined to produce music and keep stamping out songs- without the same huge pressures you get in the mainstream.  I have said it in previous pots- with regards pressures musicians face- some do fail; some acts and bands suffer dislocation and collapse- it is a sad reality of music.  However, there are a lot of great artists coming out: acts that are producing a lot of music; look ahead to the future- determined to stick around.  This brings me to Victory Kicks- the brainchild of John Silbley- whom I have reviewed before (their debut E.P. Emergency Noise was released in June of last year).  Since Emergency Noise, the band has released The Young Flood: their follow-up E.P. that was received with plaudits and praise.  Before I continue, let me give you some insight (into the four-piece) in their own words:

“Victory Kicks started life in early 2013 as a home recording project for songwriter and guitarist John Sibley. After writing a large number of songs and realizing that waiting around for a record deal would mean that most would inevitably be forgotten, John decided to start piecing a recording studio together at home. Old songs were finished off and new songs were written and often recorded the same day with John handling vocals, guitar, bass and drums as well as production duties and working out how to do the latter as he went. Early EP’s and singles containing short, lo-fi pop songs were recorded and shared amongst friends and family.
Victory Kicks then went from solo project to band with the addition of friends from other London based acts and established its own record label with the release of its first official EP, Rockets for Ghosts in July 2013. Comprising seven home recorded tracks of short, catchy indie rock, Rockets for Ghosts was a success for the band garnering favourable reviews and receiving airplay for the first time on stations in both the UK and the US. Ghosts was followed by the release of three singles, including the song Radio Saves which saw the band make its debut appearance on BBC radio playlists.

Taking the decision to record music at home would allow the band the flexibility to record new songs as and when they were written and since the release of its debut EP in 2013 Victory Kicks has built something of a reputation for prolificacy – 2014 has already seen a full length album called The Decibel Age as well as a seven track EP called Emergency Noise. A third record called The Young Flood will be released on November 17th. Today, Victory Kicks is a four piece band consisting of old friends making home recorded music whenever possible.”

Victory Kicks intrigue me for two reasons: they have a lo-fi, ‘90s-influenced sound; they have a low key presence among social media channels.  There are few bands that tend to portray a ‘lo-fi’ sound: music that is neither heavy and urgent or more gentle and sedate.  Victory Kicks have plenty of presence and force: they tend to concern themselves with mixing beauty and nuance; passion and thought-provoking sounds- without coming across too strongly.  The boys still retain their key ideals: recording music that sounds home-made made and honest; sparse and raw- free from the peripheries and baubles of modern studios.  Every track sounds intimate and homely: the quartet is one of the few bands that have an honest and vintage recording sound- giving inspiration and guidance to bedroom kings and queens.  Whereas at the beginning- Sibley was recording all the parts/components in his bedroom- he has the support of the band; yet Victory Kicks has lost none of its hallmarks and trademarks- that distinct sound is very much in place.  That mixture of ‘90s-cum-modern-day influence does wonders: sprinkling mid-‘90s Grandaddy with early-career Guided by Voices is an intriguing blend.  I hope the resulting months see the band expanding their social media pages: maybe stamping an official website; getting involved more on YouTube: exploiting and utilising what is on offer; given the fans a glimpse into their lives.  The band has produced plenty of music, yet remains borderline-anonymous: their Facebook page shows few photos (of Silbley and gang); no tour dates or gig information- just the music itself.  It is always important to focus on the music, yet I would like to know more about V.K.: where they will be playing next; a little bit more of the ‘personal’.


When you look at influences/other acts- that you can compare and tie to Victory Kicks- there are a few possibilities.  The shimmering and wistful sound of Grandaddy- and particularly albums like Sumday– has influenced Sibley: High Wires has that Grandaddy-esque pairing of rural calm and sympathy for lost souls (plus touching on modern themes like technology and its effect on society).  Grandaddy’s finest moment was The Sophtware Slump focused on technology and machinery: the detrimental effect on society; requiems that were sympathetic and cautionary- songs that saw humans being alienated and replaced (by technology).  Sibley has a similar voice and style: touching on modern concerns and social issues with a mixture of intelligence and passion; rich melodies and aching vocals.  When Wilco released Summerteeth (in 1999) it was lauded for its beauty and sparsity- that bellied the studio craftsmanship that helped spawn it.  Both lush and sweeping, intimate and lo-fi, the album was a commercial hit.  The pastoral themes and focused song-craft resonated throughout; the album is a symphony of beauty and alienation.  British Sea Power- a Brighton-based act formed in 2000- hit their stride around Open Season and Do You Like Rock Music?  The music is rough-hewn and honest; organic and vintage- music designed for the people (rather than a particular individual).  Victory Kicks have managed to borrow influences from the above acts, yet they are their band.

Died a Patriot begins with a charming and gripping rush: the introduction mixes chugging guitars and driving force; punchy percussion- marrying the ‘90s grace of Grandaddy and R.E.M. with Victory Kicks’ patented blends (that has been evident in their past work).  Not too forceful and overwrought, instead the listener is teased in; seduced and hooked- fascinated as to what (is to) come.  Initial lyrics look at new beliefs and clarity; one-track minds and mortality- our hero’s voice is packed with emotion and urgency.  There is some obliqueness and mystery to begin: it is not instantly clear what Sibley (is referring to).  You sense some political and personal strife; a mind that is clouded and confused- in need of, in his own words, “a new belief.”  The vocals have a breathy and light quality; Sibley aches and yearns- but never seems overwrought.  Mortality and death are looked at- never in a mordent or depressing way- with the hero wanting to “die a patriot”- “sometime/somewhere.”   One of the track’s great strength is its simplicity and format: it is largely an instrumental track to start.  From the introduction- to the closing moments- that propelling and gripping (instrumental coda) seems to ruminate hard- and win most focus.  Both breezy and light; jagged and sharp- it is a score that is addictive and memorable.  Sibley keeps his lyrics focused and sparse- the entire track contains fewer lines and lyrics than a lot of their previous tracks.  Themes of dislocation and questioning come around; mortality and meaning feature large- our hero looks for meaning and resolution.  Towards the half-way mark, there is this sense of loss: our hero needs a new belief; something meaningful and new- seemingly disaffected and adrift.  Caught between “high and low” you start to show sympathy (for our front-man); hope that he finds resolve and safety- his mind is confused and shadowed.  Either a personal plea- or a reflection of modern society- there is that search for meaning.  Sibley spends his days seeking stable ground: as life is, things need to improve.  Mixing in shades of Wilco and British Sea Power, Died a Patriot pairs reflective and pastoral sounds with sweeping emotions- grabbing the listener and demanding them to take notice.  The band takes great trouble when it comes to the composition and componence: the entire song sounds well-rehearsed and considered; expertly crafted.  Being Victory Kicks, that perfectionism comes with loose and live: the band make everything sound natural and live-sounding.  Part of your mind focused on the lyrics themselves: wondering about their true meaning; pining for the front-man’s plight.  The other part (of your mind) looks at the composition: that endlessly fascinating mix of bonhomie and stir; emotion and uplift.  Keeping his card close to his chest, Sibley’s words take on several meanings: on a personal level there is dislocation and loss; on a wider scale there is political and social unrest- something we can all relate to.  Died a Patriot is a typically assured slice of Victory Kicks authority: a song that perfectly sums High Wires up.  The stand-out from their album, it is a perfect introduction to the band- and what potential they have.

High Wires is as striking and memorable as its album art: an album that does not shout and scream; it does not just fade and fizzle- instead it slow-burns and compels; demands some repeated investigation (and hooks you with its minimalism and lo-fi charm).  Most of the ten tracks are short and tight; no song runs on and outstays its welcome: the entire album is defined by its economy and brevity- by the end you are left wanting more (the guys tease that out of you).  A lot of modern acts trend to put out too much; produce lengthy tracks (and long albums) – by the end you are somewhat bored and annoyed.  Victory Kicks are an intuitive and intelligent act: they know how to put out their message without needless showiness and loquaciousness- High Wires is a focuses and memorable album.  Sibley has developed and improved as a songwriter: the hooks and melodies are stronger (and more memorable); his lyrics are more compelling and gripping- the songs more diverse and multifarious.  The band’s core sound is in place, yet Sibley has managed to both sound more original- fewer nods to his heroes and influences- and bold: his vocals seem more confident and passionate; the production values are stronger and sharper- whilst coming across as live-sounding and bare.  I was a big fan of Emergency Noise- and saw The Young Flood as a noble effort- yet find High Wires (to be the band’s) finest work.  Emergency Noise seemed a little long- it was a seven-track E.P. – and has the odd filler; The Young Flood improved on this- as of now, the group has truly hit their stride.  It is not just the songs that have struck me, but the sound itself: how many other acts have that home-recorded sound and majesty, whilst producing songs that are festival-ready and anthemic?  Excelsior to Sibley, who has managed to craft quite a special album: one that hits you upon a cursory spin; reveals magic and layers upon further investigation- and keeps on providing little insights.  I love a lot of the current crops- Everything Everything’s latest L.P. is filled with technoclour passion and rushing sonics; lyrics that are more downbeat and introspective- yet it is great to promote the underground: great artists that are working hard and pressing on.  It is only a matter of time before Victory Kicks are infiltrating the festival scene: playing alongside some of the best acts of the moment.  The fact that they not only keep getting better yet show no signs of slowing is encouraging- I predict the band will be making music for many years to come.  Sibley and co. has a natural and unique voice that is hard to fault: music designed for the masses without pretention or fakery.  High Wires’ strongest moments- Died a Patriot and the title track- occurs in the middle of the L.P.; Writers’ Strike is a perfect opener- Whenever She Writes a graceful and memorable swansong.  With no filler or weak moment, what you have is a consistent and studied effort- each track has a very Victory Kicks feel; nothing is forced or disingenuous.  Originality and consistency are what makes the band: although each song sounds fairly similar (in the sense there is no great sonic or lyrical leap) that works in their favour- you never feel the band is betraying itself or trying to please too hard.  Sibley is a natural songwriter with a keen ear (and sharp pen) which comes across throughout the album.  What comes next is anyone’s guess: maybe there will be some tour dates or bookings; perhaps an E.P. or follow-up album?  Being a lo-fi, low key band, we will find out in time; for now, just enjoy their latest offering: an album that is rife with standout moments and stunning songs.  In a music industry that is not overflowing with tremendous acts (and albums), the likes of Victory Kicks..

DESERVE a huge amount of support.

 

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Follow Victory Kicks:

 

Official:

http://victorykicks.bandcamp.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/VictoryKicks?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/victory_kicks

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/victorykicks

Interview: Elena Ramona

Interview:

 

Elena Ramona

 

I have been looking forward to catching up with Elena Ramona: an artist making moves; putting new sounds together.  This week, I will be focusing on music talent; writing my own stuff too: many of my music contacts/friends are doing great things- which is always a pleasure to see.  After releasing Happy Song (online), Elena Ramona is not stopping there.  I was keen to see what she has in store; what she thinks of the (modern music) industry- and when we can expect some new music.

 

Hi Elena. You have had an interesting 2015: what have been your best moments?

There have been so many great moments this year, but the moment I will treasure forever happened earlier this summer.  I had an acoustic set in a local pub and unfortunately on the day my guitarist couldn’t make the event; I had to get some backing tracks together and make sure the show went on a planned.  All my friends turned up and cheered me on I felt so grateful, it showed me that not everything works out, but with great support and some hope it all can still work.  I love this journey I am on and times like that just make it all the more worth it.

Over the past few years you have played some great gigs; developed as an artist. Has it been tough making waves/progress in the music industry?

In a musical town and world it will always be tough; I have learnt through my experiences to stay focused on my own work.

In addition to music, you work in retail. Do you feel modern musicians need to work part time just to be able (to afford to make) music?

It is good to have a stable income.  Having a part-time job in retail has helped me hugely better my social skills and I enjoy it (as I meet all walks of life during the day on the shop floor).

You have recently released Happy Song. Does this mean a new E.P. is on the horizon?

I believe a new E.P. is on the horizon yes- after my fourth single and fourth music video- which is yet to be released.

In terms of opportunities- venues and labels- are cities such as London vital? Can you ever see yourself moving there?

For now I am very happy in Guildford: it is very central and only a train ride from the capital.  Having an Internet presence means I can reach anyone anywhere with the click of a button- I don’t know what the future holds if I got a dream job in songwriting I would move closer to its location.

Growing up, who were your main music idols/influences?

My main musical influences growing up where the Beatles and Elkie Brooks.  My main idols where Pink Floyd and The Spice Girls.

Your songwriting is pretty varied and diverse. What sort of themes and topics inspire you the most?

I am inspired by life experiences, and I aim to write songs that people can relate to.

As a young woman, do you find the music industry favours male acts? Have you faced any barriers/discrimination because of your gender?

Absolutely not: there is enough room for both men and women to do what they love in the music industry.

There are a lot of musicians coming through- many quite scared of what’s to come. What advice would you offer to them?

Keep doing what you do write about what is in your heart and do not take constructive criticism badly.  Grow as a musician and person, (lastly) enjoy the journey.

Of all the new music coming through, who/what would you recommend?

Lucas is a London-based artist, he has a great stage presence and an amazing soulful voice check out his latest track Far Away.  https://soundcloud.com/soulshaker/soulshaker-ft-lucas-far-away-radio-edit-mp3cutnet

Finally- and because I like to offer interviewees a song- choose a track of your choice…

Big Girls Cry -Sia

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Follow Elena Ramona:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elena-Ramona/323928237668916?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/elenaramona90

Interview/Review: Van Wild

Feature:

 

Van Wild

 

AS I look around for music inspiration- having a slight spell of writer’s block- I have been struck my Van Wild (A.K.A. Yasmine Van Wilt).  The Tennessee-based star is a brilliant actress; an accomplished and stunning writer- in addition to being a wonderful new musician.  With jaw-dropping looks; an incredibly sweet and compassionate disputation- coupled with an incredibly inspiring songwriting talent- I was keen to find out more: see what makes her tick; how her music develops- and what her highlights (from 2015) have been.  With a short review of Hush- at the bottom of the interview- it has been terrific discovering a great artist: someone I hope comes to play the U.K.; brings her magic to our shores.

Hi Yasmine.  Your music is a hybrid of Southern Blues and Modern-Day Pop (contemporary yet instilled with some vintage sounds).  Which artists/acts inspired you (growing up)?

I’m very inspired by artists who emerged during the Civil Rights Movement and by those who came after who heightened, elevated our collective social consciousness; Richie Havens, Loretta Lynn and Pete Seeger are a few of my favourite artists.  Pete Seeger’s unflagging commitment to social justice inspires me tremendously; the stories of real people who are working to illuminate our humanity inspire me. This all has to be rooted in the real, I think. Does “art” matter if it doesn’t interrogate & engage the “better angels of our nature”?

Your social media numbers are swelling; your music is capturing the imagination.  What have been your highlights from this year?

Thanks for your kind words Sam! I’m honoured to chat with you. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some hugely talented people. Recording at 1092 with Matt Gordon, Daru Jones & Dominic Davis of Third Man Records & Jack White & Kurt Ozan of Jana Kramer has certainly been a highlight. Cherry Tree is in the running for Unsigned Only ISC in the Top 40 category, so that’s exciting. I’m also working on a song with The Bellamy Brothers–for whom I have huge admiration.  I work with people whom I admire & who are, truly, geniuses. Many of them are also long-time friends: Van Wild featured artist actor/singer/dancer David Singletary, director/actor/writer Raquel Almazan & designer Jeffrey Michael.

Your track Cherry Tree has done fantastically- some prestigious radio play and chart position- and struck the imagination.  What do you attribute that to?

Thanks so much Sam. I’m just delighted that people, so far, seem to like the song.

In the U.S., the new music scene seems to be glowing- and more diverse than in the U.K.  Are there any particular acts (and new musicians) coming through, you would recommend?

Daru Jones is in a group called The Rough Pack that is extraordinary. Dominic & his wife Rachel have a folk-roots band that’s very good. I’m presently collaborating with The Falling Birds, Jesse & Noah, Ahren B, Country Boy, Erisa Rei.

What does the rest of the year hold for you: in terms of new music and touring?

It should be a busy year; I’m releasing new singles to radio, recording the next album & hopefully touring. We shall see!

In addition to music, you are an actress and author.  You have a PhD in creative writing; you have written for the stage and film.  Where do you get the energy from (to do so)?

Haha! I think being creative, exercising discipline begets energy. It’s also important to be organised. I struggle with this, but the more “in order” I keep all of my deadlines & objectives, the more I produce.  I don’t know if you find this in your work, but the more interrelated the projects, the easier I find that it is to drive them forward. I’m primarily driven by fear, and am obsessively self-critical. I fear wasting the belief of my friends & family; I have no idea whether or not this is achievable, but I believe that artists will be pivotal in the next social movement. I would like to play a small part in doing this in whatever way I can. I’m always asking myself: “Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right thing? Am I raising my voice in the right way?”

On that note, you are showing what you can achieve- as a musician and writer- and are inspiring many people.  What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

This is very kind of you sweet pea! I’m not sure that I’m inspiring anyone; I would suggest that every artist adopt a business model that allows for realistic growth & success. I follow what could be considered the tech start-up model. Building a brand, understanding that brand and being conscientious about content-delivery is very important for emerging artists. We need to be entrepreneurs in order to succeed–this requires actually learning a bit about business and the industry itself. Artists really need to understand how this works…

You also write music (under your alter egos) looking at social and environmental issues.  What has been your reaction to recent events in the U.S. – especially the shootings in Charleston?

I’m utterly devastated by the shootings in Charleston. My thoughts and best wishes are with the community & with the family members of slain. That the victims were slain in their place of refuge is so upsetting. Americans should be uncomfortable right now; I’m extremely concerned about the mediatised rhetoric that has emerged from this: this was a heinous hate crime. This was an act of terror. I don’t want to launch into a tirade, but suffice it to say “we have a problem”. Not only do we need to work harder to eradicate racism, we need to work harder to control gun violence. There are disgusting sociopaths in every country; however, not every country makes it so easy for these people to get guns. I hope, to the very core of me, that my generation can tackle these issues. We need to turn this around NOW. “We Are Young” is my attempt to challenge the rhetoric of hate. We need a New Civil Rights Movement; my generation nerds to raise its damned voice and push for greater social consciousness! We need to use our dollars, our voting power & our artistic work to eradicate racism. We all need to be part of the solution!

I love your voice and music- especially the track Hush– and it always takes you somewhere special.  What themes and subjects influence your songwriting?

Thank you Sam! I think I’m motivated as much by the desire to share uplifting moments as I am to challenge social issues. My music is always part of a soundtrack for my writing–so the songs relate specifically to these narratives. “Hush” is from Unplugged, my one woman folk musical. It’s a song that reminds the character of her childhood on the Gulf of Mexico, before the spill.

You have recently visited the U.K.  What was that like?  Any plans on returning soon?

I spent much of the last 9 years, all of my adult years, in the UK before relocating to the U.S. I made some to the most marvellous friends imaginable whilst there; London is a city with a deep reverence for “culture”. I was very influenced by the freedom I experienced by my experiences studying and living in your marvellous county!

If you were banished to a desert island, which five albums would you take with you?

Oh man! Tough one. Can I cheat and pick compilations?!!! Neil Young (best of), Richie Havens (best of), Deja Vu CSNY, Blunderbuss & Blue.

Finally- and something I do with all my interviewees- is play a song for them (I will publish here).  If you name a song, I shall play it…

Oh fun! Any song? Or one of mine? If it’s any song let’s listen to “Shimmer in Pale” by The Falling Birds. They’re my buddies & I think you’ll like them!

 

Hush (from Cherry Tree) is one of Van Wild’s finest tracks- and a brilliant showcase of her talents.  Building from evocative threads- the introduction weaves in soothing percussion; delicate and tender piano- Hush gently beckons (the listener in).  “They went fishing for stars/In the great ocean above” are some of the song’s most memorable images- and arrives right from the start.  Yasmine’s voice is instilled with such beauty and passion: every word and thought is spine-tingling and touching; pressing and urgent- making sure the messages hit their mark.  As the chorus expands, the composition swells and swoons.  The song has an intimate and child-like quality to it: images of lullabies and monsters; keeping away horror and heartache- there is a sense of maternal courage and strength.  Our heroine’s voice is calming and soothing; tremulous and gorgeous- you are caught into the song; seduced by its beauty and delicacy.  The entire track comes together incredibly well: the composition is focused and nuanced; powerful when it needs to be; minimal and sparse (when required).  Having listened to the track (several times) I was mesmerized by the innocence and honesty: few tracks explore such subjects; portray themselves in the same way- and make you feel the same way.  Yasmine’s stunning voice- and beautiful lyrics- make Hush such a potent number- one that will stick in the imagination (for a long time to come).

 

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Follow Van Wild:

Official:

http://www.musicbyvanwild.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/YasmineVanWilt

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yasmine-Van-Wilt/191494827570661

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV-AFvwN55blz_u1w26d_-A