Caught Up in the Wrong Crowd
Caught Up in the Wrong Crowd is available at:
Where the Wind Blows– 9.4
My Town– 9.5
CAN never be too sure whether there is an apostrophe…
in the 48ks- the guys will forgive me for excluding it. Anyway, I’ll get back to that later: for now, I am drawn back to the Indie/Rock hybrids- and the bands that play these genres. Over the last few days- and some reviews coming up- I am stepping away from the genres; looking for something a bit different- expanding the horizons and all that. It is always exciting witnessing an Indie band come through: there is so much potential to be found; what can be done with guitar, bass and drums- and whether the music produced elicits a reaction. It may seem like odd wording, yet it is a difficult situation: so many Rock and Indie bands are stale and predictable; come across as lumpen and uninspired- tend to come off as boring and retracted. You do not have to limit yourself to tried-and-tested themes/sounds; the genres allow movement and invention- something quite exciting and fresh. Maybe the scene needs a shake-up; the bands need to start expanding their themes- go beyond the usual parameters. Within the songs of love and relationships, there are some interesting acts coming through. With the rise of acts like Royal Blood, the newcomers are starting to become bolder: up their game and start showing some nouse. The 48ks are a familiar band to me: I have reviewed them before- I reviewed their album For Every Day a Memory last year- and know what they’re capable of. Returning with a new E.P., the anticipation has grown. The band is no mere upcoming wannabes: they have already caught the ear of some prominent names- including B.B.C. 6 Music’s Huey Morgan- and their new release has already been spotted by Steve Lamacq. It is clear their music is striking the collective ear; good enough to appeal to the taste-makers of the country- and get some really impressive airplay. Before I go on, let’s welcome the band:
Ryan Lightfoot- Vocals
Steve Dale- Rhythm Guitar and Backing Vocals
Simon Kato- Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals
Adam Golightly- Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals
Chris Morris- Drums
“Living in the shadows of noisy neighbours Sheffield, Doncaster has its own Phoenix rising from the ashes of closed mines and Thatcher’s Britain telling stories of their lives and times. Whereas Sheffield has the musical heritage of Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, the Human League, Def Leppard Doncaster’s famous sons are Kevin Keegan and Jeremy Clarkson. No bands. The 48ks aim to change this. Their manifesto is to “provide proper tunes”, “proper songs that mean something to someone, songs you and your mates can sing together and you believe every word” and purge the charts of soulless, lifeless rubbish. With songs in the classic style of Lennon/McCartney Jagger/Richards is there any reason why Lightfoot/Dale of the 48ks can’t join their heroes. They’ve certainly got the tunes. The 48ks formed in late 2009 and after various personnel changes they have grown into their own shoes with relentless gigging and songwriting. Combining their collective influences and adding their own individual ingredients they are intent on bringing the guitar and vocal harmonies back to the forefront of modern music. Their love of their heroes The Beatles, The Kinks, The Stones, The Jam, The La’s, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, The Who, Ocean Colour Scene and Cast is the standard which they aspire to. The 48ks write tunes for the people. If they were not in the band then these are the boys they’d be rooting for. They’ve put the hard work in; they’ve worked for a living so people can relate to what they are saying. They all love a beer, a flutter on the gee gees, a night on the tiles, going the footy and their clobber but music is their passion.”
Hailing from Doncaster- and being residents of Yorkshire- the band stand in good company. Across the county, there is a host of legendary bands- Arctic Monkeys and Pulp as mentioned- and some great newcomers (like Allusondrugs). I think one of the members of One Direction hail from Doncaster- not sure which is which; they all look like pre-pubescent hairdresser apprentices- but no human wants to be tied to One Direction- unless they’re hurtling down to Earth with no chance of survival. It seems like the boys are in a very unique place: not only put their hometown on the map; make sure musicians from the town follow in their footsteps. It is clear the band are aiming high; their songwriting and musicianship is among some of the finest (of the current scene) – their tunes are simple and effective; quotable and festival-scoring- the sort that unites the fans in a throng of sing-along ecstasy. Having impressed me with their album, their new E.P. builds on their core sounds; expands their ambitions and direction- they sound more confident and complete here; the songwriting is stronger and more impressive- a natural step forward (for the band).
Looking at the bands influences- and who has inspired their background and music- the likes of The Rolling Stones and Oasis are in there; as are Ocean Colour Scene and Cast- a lot of northern influence. Throw in The Beatles and La’s and you have some localized- and let’s admit majestic- influencers. The 48ks’ new work has more in common with Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene: there is a ‘90s vibes to proceedings; anthemic guitar work- some urgent and passionate vocals. To be fair (to the band) it is really difficult pointing to any other band: there are touches of old legends; some suggestions of newer acts- when all’s said and done the band are very much their own. It is their compositions that will seem the most familiar: they link the glory of ‘60s Rock- Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones- and infuse some modern-day hardness; to create something quite special. The stunning song-craft and wonderful melodies ensure the music remains in the head; perhaps little flecks of The Beatles and The La’s- in terms of the terrific ear for catchy choruses and brilliant Pop sounds- but The 48ks are keen to stamp out their own sound- which they do with aplomb and attack. Keeping their songs tight and focused there are no wasted moments and wandering ideas- songs do not pad out or trail off; they always remain controlled and level-headed. The band’s L.P. was a stunning statement: a brave and ambitious effort, it showcased their combination of strong songwriting and brilliant hooks; big-time choruses and relatable lyrics. Since last year- to my mind in any case- the band sound ever more assured and confident; they seem to have grown in stature- producing music that is dripping with energy, lust and magic. The band’s intuition and courtship makes the songs so addictive: each member understands their role; the performances are tight and professional- the boys do not sacrifice their ideals and quality at any moment. If you are new to the band, it may be worth dipping into the 1990s annals- investigating the likes of Ocean Colour Scene, Oasis and Cast- and listening to those bands; the legends that inspired the lads- and just what compelled their music ambitions. Before you investigate Caught Up’ clear your mind to an extent: approach it with fresh eyes and just let the music do its work. A natural leap for the band, it shows them channeling their ambitions and inner strength- and producing something quite epic.
Changing starts with an appropriate spring: the composition mutates and develops; beginning with a strummed and ear-catching riff, the beats patter and rumble- ducking and diving; keeping the listener on their toes. The intro.’s riff has Punk and Rock edges- little bits ‘60s ‘Stones; suggestions of ‘90s Britpop- although to be fair, it is very much a (The) 48ks creation. Catchy and insistent; head-nodding and feet-moving, it throws the E.P. into the heavens- and sparks the sky alight. When our hero arrives at the microphone he is reflecting on issues; taking it all in- assessing events in life. Both ambiguous and double-meaning, you wonder what has (inspired his thought-provoking words) – and whether it applies to a relationship breakdown. It is life’s changes that are causing the issues: when he looks in the mirror, the image staring back seems unfamiliar- either older or different somehow. Perhaps a natural (yet quite regrettable) transformation to older skin (the youthful glint is being replaced by something more lived-in) there is that sense of alarm and submission- maybe not wanting to let go. Sentiments/concerns that apply to many, you emphasise with that sense of pain and regret- and find yourself singing along. Caught up in the jumping riff, the entire band step up to the mark- their instruments blend to create an atmosphere that is claustrophobic and open; attacking and at ease- something that takes you in varying directions. Our man talks about (and to an unnamed person/people) “’you should know my name”; and, as the thought develops, “’my game”- perhaps a call-out to the music world; a snarl at a jilted love- maybe a general kick-out. Taking time to reflect on life; looking at events that have unfolded- you are never free of that urgency and haste; things are transforming (and not always for the better)- the song never relents or lets up. The chorus and melody has elements of the ‘60s heroes- your Beatles and Stones- and certainly gets inside the head. The band keep things simple and straight-ahead: the composition remains tight and focused; the song’s quotable lyrics are deployed to memorable effect- the entire ensemble is so well conceived. Backed by a passionate vocal; some uplifting backing vocals- the final stages are compelling. By the time the final chords rally, you find yourself humming along (still); gripped by the song’s energy and luster- it is one hell of an opener.
Following that emphatic opener, Where the Wind Blows begins more serenely- and has some gentle sense of embrace. Acoustic-led and tender, the vocals are light and sensitive. Caught up in the wrong crowd, our lead- backed on vocals by his bandmates- laments and reflects; he is being led astray- and it is not pleasing. Acting almost as a title song- the song does name-check the E.P.’s title- it seems like a home town anthem: maybe the crowds and scenes have grown wary; creating something quite negative- there is that sense of dissatisfaction and loneliness. Keen to throw off the shackles (of this oppressive force) our hero calls out (maybe to a friend or lover) to come with him- take him by the hand and make (their way) into the night. The track (like the E.P.’s opener) boasts an impressively authentic ‘60s vibe: signs of psychedelic ‘Beatles-cum-Ocean Colour Scene fuses with The La’s/The Byrds; the effect is quite staggering. Classic and modern; upbeat and introverted, the song is nuanced and layered- something that is not throwaway; instead it appeals to the brain, body and bones- really hits all the marks. Speaking to (the unnamed subject) they are coming around “at the wrong time”- there is a sense of ambiguity to the lyrics. There is obviously turmoil and doubts; something fractious and nerve-shredding, you are compelled and curious. The subject certainly promises fun and escape- although there is some doubt from our hero- as the memories flow; the night develops- that knowledge that (if they go where the wind blows) it will all be okay. When the song reaches its middle eight- and the rest of the band step into the spotlight- you get some overt hints at the ‘90s power bands- that Oasis-via-Cast combination; some Ocean Colour Scene too. The 48ks manage to transmogrify (any ‘90s influence) around their own template; nothing ever sounds borrowed or second-hand- it is very much them being them. The strings wail and shred; woozy and stinging, the bass comes into to keep it level- guide the music and keep the backbone strong. With some punchy and strong percussion the band crank through the gears- before the vocal comes back in. “You can have it any way you want it” is the mantra that unfolds: something that is both chant-able and oblique- the band always deliver their prophecy with a sly wink; what does the “it” (first) refer to; what does the “want it” reference? Anyway, by the time the song is over, the listener is left to recollect: try to dig to the song’s nub; put the pieces together- knowing that the truth is known to the band alone.
My Town jumps into life: with is bouncing and spiraling riff- that manages to weld some ‘60s Power-Pop with classic Indie strides- it begins with intent and ambition. Insanely catchy (in its simplicity) the band unleashes something insistent and festival-ready. One of the best things about the band is their introductions: they do not wait to get into your head; their songs always come charging out the blocks- and do not relinquish their attack. “I see trouble” are the first words; “stony walls” and “the eyes of the trees”- a glimpse into the band’s town. Whilst the wounds have healed (so it’s told) the scars are raw- the marks have been left. It seems like the boys know the limitations of where they hail: their home town has its issues and limits; there are problems and heartaches- that will not bring them down. In the early exchanges I was not sure whether the lyrics- which paint some vivid brushstrokes- reflected Doncaster with a positive or negative image (if there was a sense of anger or pragmatism). Just like Arctic Monkeys unveil fantastical scenes of modern-day Yorkshire, The 48ks join them: their way with words is effective and striking; fewer poetic flourishes (than Turner’s lyrics) it is direct and powerful. Building off of that central thesis- “’you’ll never bring me down”- it is a kick-against-the-world mandate- something designed to inspire festival crowds. Contorting and dancing; jagged and melodic- the song is a busy and bustling beauty. As our hero walks through the streets- noting some rather disreputable visions along his way- there is that sense of defiance: he will never be overcome and defeated- on his way, nothing is going to bring him down. One of the most instant and effective tracks (on the E.P.) it should be a live favourite- a song that is designed to compel the masses. At the very least, the song leaves a giant smile- just what great music should do.
After some confusion and anger, we need some Reason– the E.P.’s swansong delivers that in spades. Beginning with an intriguing riff- that put me in mind of Green-era R.E.M. (and tracks like Stand) it has U.S. vibes- with a dose of ‘60s U.K. Big and heartfelt; uplifting and Pop-infused, the song looks at relationships and lessons. Whether the bond has broken- or is just on the rocks, stranded- the words “we’ve been here before” suggests lessons not learned. Whether an argument or series of mistakes, our hero casts his eyes around- it seems hearts are very much on sleeves. The song looks at reason-finding; that is the chanted chorus- a direct plea; why stand in line and not fade away? The lyrics retain some classic elements- the sentiments and pleas have been employed before- but that is the idea: the song is designed to be extrapolated and understood; connect with the listener- and be taken to heart. Whilst its origins are rooted in personal realms, the overall projection is very much universal and common- a track that we can all relate to. That optimistic compositional sound- there is always a grin on the strings and percussion- contrasts with the lyrics; the juxtaposition is quite effective- and lifts the song beyond predictable avenues. Our hero has seen all he needs to: the duo (whoever the second party is) stands and looks around; there is fatigue and a lack of new direction- what are they to do? Part of your brain thinks of relationships and love; the other looks beyond that- maybe to relations in Doncaster- that sense of being trapped in a place- or at a friendship. Maybe I am over-reaching but the song makes you think: go beyond obvious interpretation and get the brain working. Before you become too entrenched in deep thinking, the composition comes to roost: blitzing with abandon, the strings rage and conspire; it is a brief parable yet adds some much-needed vitality and punch- the entire band are tight and focused from start to finish. The composition itself changes and develops; never standing on its heels (which seems fitting given the song’s ideals of movement and moving on. As the song comes to a close- and the E.P. itself in fact- you leave wanting more- can we have a fifth track? The answer is ‘no’ and so it should: the band have always been about concision and economy; never giving more than is necessary- it just leaves you wanting more.
The entire band should be congratulated: they play with such passion and verve; each member knows their role- there are never any wasted notes or ineffectual moments. The vocals are captivating throughout; very much the product of originality, they sound at once modern and fresh- yet imbued with a touch of the ‘60s and ‘90s masters. The bass work is tight and focused throughout: keeping the songs in check; leading by example- whilst showing plenty of passion, personality and innovation. Not just there to simply guide the songs, what you get it rhythm and strength; heart and soul- that lifts the songs and adds plenty of colour. The guitars shine and dazzle throughout: at times blissed-out and knackered; others vibrant and stinging- they change course and skin without a blink of an eye. So much contrast and diversity is dolled-out; the players each have their own voice, yet seem brotherly and close-knit- combining with such naturalness and effectiveness. Suggestions of Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and The Beatles comes out (in the guitars) yet these are guiding notes- the faintest of touches are used; the lads are the epitome of originality in their riffs and guitar motifs. The percussion keeps everything levelled and focused; it adds heart and pummel- switching between urgent and fierce; managing to recoil and demure when the mood calls. Together, the band are exceptional and impressive; their performances and uniformly excellent- the product of rehearsal and intuition. Backed by excellent production values- making everything sound natural yet not too bare and lifeless- instead every note and variegated contour is allowed to breathe and colonise; get inside the mind- make sure its presence is felt. The vocal and instrumental levels are just right; nothing steals focus or is muted down- just-so in fact. That leaves the songs themselves: a four-track E.P. that shows the band at their creative best. Not only are the riffs and compositions consistently engaging and catchy, the lyrics vary and inspire- they touch on everyday concerns and real events; yet there is plenty of room for personal pleas and hometown woes. Both frustrated and constricted; optimistic and hopeful- The 48ks cover a wide spectrum. Caught Up in the Wrong Crowd is a fantastic E.P. that suggests great things: if the band can keep up this rate of progress and quality, then international acclaim is shoe-in. If you like your music with balls, brains, and above all, originality, you need to hear this- and hear how it should be done.
Having investigated Caught Up in the Wrong Crowd– heard where the band is at the moment- it is clear The 48ks have a bright future. They are not a band that are tentative and nervy; they have no loose edges and wasted moments- their songwriting is strong and determined; their performances focused and well-rehearsed- their songs both every-day and personal; uplifting and introspective. It is hard to predict the future: see which bands will make it; those that will struggle- early signs are important. If you can come out flying; keep that momentum going- you have a much better chance of sustaining interest. Their debut L.P. was an impressive and consistent effort; their new E.P. sees them in fine voice: at their most inspired and urgent; the songwriting is at its peak; the performances tight and honed. The band have always rebelled against the rank-and-file bands; the acts that are clichéd and tired: The 48ks are proper songwriters, writing- in their own words at least- to the Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards line- penning songs that have the ability to endure and inspire. Caught Up in the Wrong Crowd might be a shot at their contemporaries: the sense The 48ks are alien in a sea of below-par songwriters; maybe caught in a town with little ambition and music heritage- there is plenty of ambiguity and mystery. That is (one of the things) that makes the band ones to watch: their passion and urgency sits alongside mystique and open-for-interpretation words. Among their four-track release, the Doncaster boys run the gamut of emotions; present vivid scenes and wonderful tales- all wrapped within their stunning performances. It is no fluke- the fact B.B.C. 6 Music are championing the band- they are so good: their idols and influences have made their way into the music; they inject aspects of each- whilst retaining their unique core and voice. It is only left for me to come back to my original point: the quality and consistency of Indie/Rock bands. It is true; there are too many average acts: those contented to do the bare-minimum; swaying along with nary an original idea in their head- no direction or real sense of pride. The 48ks are still in their infant days: their initial footsteps are showing them to be one of the most promising new acts in the country- it will be fascinating to see them develop. With new competition spilling in (by the week) the facts remain: it is vital to make an impression; not just relegate yourself to lackluster campaign; make sure you make your intentions know. The 48ks are worth watching closely: Caught Up in the Wrong Crowd not only sees them hit their stride running; the E.P. is a tantalising glimpse into their future. The boys have played some impressive dates/venues thus far: I predict some big festival dates soon; they deserve a chance to be on the big stage- and stake their claim among the best out there. There is no way in music (unfortunately) to get rid of the most lipid acts; celebrate and augment the very finest- in time, the music does its own fighting. The 48ks should be very proud: not only have they crafted a wonderful and nuanced E.P.; they are shaping-up to be one of the best bands to come out of Doncaster… well, ever. They should keep their sights set; aim high and far- it would be good to see them rock London, one day- there will be plenty of options for them done here! I can’t see them staying in Yorkshire too long: their music translates county lines and boundaries; it is universal and yet, strangely unique- not many bands can boast that. When the boys do launch their next album, there will be talk of ‘that difficult second album’. On the evidence here, The 48ks will have…
NO such fears!
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