Darkness is featured on the album Wealth. Listen to the song here:
Produced by Yves Altana
Engineered by Chris Oliver
Wriiten and performed by “From Carbon”
WEALTH TRACK LISTING:
Everything is Control
THIS will be the last review (for a little while at least) to focus on Indie/Alternative acts.
Having featured the likes of The 48ks lately- and contemporaries who play similar sounds- I am looking further afield: to international Rock acts; female-lead Pop/Soul; something quite different- hoping to broaden my horizons. That is not to say the Indie/Alternative moulding is not a pleasant one- far from it in fact- it is just the genres have been under my radar (a lot lately) – so a detox is needed. Before said detox, it is time for one last piss-up: a hell-for-leather night with blurring, booze and vomit-strewn toilets- well, not quite. Contrary to popular belief- that perpetrated by the media and lazy ‘music-lovers’- Indie music is synonymous with aimless and brainless tunes- so long as the music is catchy, it doesn’t matter about the words/themes. That may be oversimplifying, yet the media tends to concentrate more on riffs than lyrics; the basics as opposed to intelligence and nuance- a lot of the Alternative darlings do not deserve their praise and position. Today’s focus/rant looks at Mancunian Indie music: words that go together like Sarah Harding Lip-Syncing Disaster- her recent ‘performance’ on I.T.V. was like watching Freddie Mercury at Live Aid- or the exact opposite. The northern city has produced more of the Indie/Alternative greats- maybe Liverpool can be added in- than any other city. London is coming through and competing, yet Manchester has that historic legacy: from the Factory days through to The Smiths and The Stone Roses; along to Oasis- Doves and The Charlatans can be thrown in there. The city has produced some of music’s most influential bands: each with their own aesthetic and sound; each one with its own vibe- the city is not exactly letting up. In the last few years, The 1975 have stated their claims; there are some young up-comers emerging- few can match From Carbon. (Carbon itself) has a fascinating biography: an incredibly high boiling point, it is an essential element; diamonds emanate (from carbon); carbon is a pattern maker. The band themselves share chemical similarities; their componency is the same- the boys are among the most previous and important bands breaking through the Manchester scene. Before I continue my point- and raise a couple of new ones- let me introduce From Carbon.
Scott Jeffreys – Lead Vocals
Gray Shaw – Bass
Jason “Nut” Coverdale – Drums
Adam Smethurst -Lead Guitar
Fiona McBurnie – Piano
Sarah Hinkley – Violin
Chris Oliver – Guitars
“Upbeat, Passionate and intelligent indie rock songs with the occasional soaring
ballad & waltz, beautiful melodies and thought provoking lyrics.”
The band’s biography is kept simple and to-the-point: that mixture of soaring melodies and intelligent lyrics defines them; their beauty and passion comes through in every line. What I would say about the band- as a suggestion perhaps- is to make their album music more accessible. Having released Wealth (last year) it has gained praise and attention- free to purchase online. It would be great to hear the music on SoundCloud- make it free to listen to their music- thus engaging a wider audience; making it obtainable to a wide audience. Being a D.I.Y./self-funded band, the desire is to raise funds: have their music raise money; ensure the band can keep producing/playing. With that said, providing a link to the album- as a free download- would improve their chances. It may sound counter-intuitive, yet if people get a taster, they may be willing to buy the album- fewer would snap up the album without a song or two for free. From Carbon have a pretty healthy fan-base; their social media ranks are growing- I can see them gaining fans from across the U.K. and abroad. With new music mooted, let’s hope the boys get something organised on YouTube/SoundCloud- and tease the masses in. The official website (for the band) is informative and well-designed: clear and concise, it provides gig dates and up-to-date news. The boys’ have covered Facebook and Twitter: between the social media sites, the band are keeping fans updated and informed; ensuring their keep in contact- making them aware of future events. Following Wealth’s release (last year) the band have been laying down new plans/sounds; taking their music on the road- getting ready for their next attack. Wealth is the sound of a band with purpose: the song titles are economic and tight (most just one-worded); the tracks are nuanced and addictive; the songwriting consistently excellent- the band performances incredible. The way I came about the band (not sure that is the correct grammar) was through Shay Rowan: a Manchester-based photographer/music-lover and all-round top guy- he expounded the wonders of the band; lead me to From Carbon- bit of pencil/lead/carbon wordplay there, to boot! Hilarity aside, the Manchester boys deserve their kudos and high praise: their music goes beyond that of the bog-standard Indie-cum-Alternative themes; stronger and more detailed- with much more striking lyrics.
To get a flair/feel for the band- assess who influenced their rise and sound- it may be worth digging into the following: Arcade Fire, Velvet Underground, Oasis, James; R.E.M., INXS, Longpigs, U2
Martha Wainwright; PJ Harvey, The Beatles, Elvis (Pressley), Johnny Cash, Rush; Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen… If you are a fan (of any of these acts) there is a little of each to be found- to be honest, they are the faintest of hints. From Carbon are very much their own band; a force to be reckoned with- one of the most original bands to come out of Manchester. If you are a fan of the ‘classic’ Manchester bands- Oasis etc. – you will see some comparable shades. From Carbon are capable of writing stunning songs about modern-day concerns; tapping into the consciousness of the young and affected- striking a chord with their incredible lyrics. Throughout Wealth there are nods to their heroes; yet every song bares the hallmarks of From Carbo: there are a few moments where you are put in mind (of any other band). With that in mind, it creates a pleasing feeling: you do not feel short-changed or cheated; there’s that feeling you are listening to a fresh and innovative group- very much complete with their own voice.
Initially, I was going to review Understand– another track from the album Wealth– yet changed my mind: Darkness is available to listen to online; a better chance for the listener to connect with the band- rather than buy the entire album (to hear the song). In time, I hope the boys put all of Wealth’s material on SoundCloud- they will get a bigger audience and make it easier to recruit new fans- yet Darkness is online for all to hear. The introduction begins with a galloping blast: a riff that spirals and snarls; it is razor-sharp and frantic- the song spares no time in getting off the blocks. Both uplifting and head-rushing; Darkness swirls and strikes. The guitar see-saws and vibrates- reminding me a little of Achtung Baby-era U2- and the listener is instantly gripped. Without uttering a world, the track kicks and punches its intentions; before the vocal comes to play there is an awful amount of build-up. When our man comes to the microphone, the lyrics look at a central subject- “She’s got nothing to lose/nothing to prove…” You feel a relationship is on the rocks (under strain) and some sort of fall-out is taking place- although you are not clear who the perpetrator is. With a serious and focused vocal, the words are given maximum emotion- a very dead-ahead delivery that makes sure they are understood and hit the mark. Allowing his voice to rise and emote, our hero takes the (song’s subjects) to task- stepping away from the first-person clichés, and focusing on an anonymous couple. Whether the ‘he’ of the song is Jeffreys- or the tale is fictitious; or else based on a friend- the male party is in need of a “slap in the face”. Seemingly “all over the place”, the song’s focal points are making a mess of things- whether it is relationship-based or they have just screwed up we are not sure. When the chorus arrives, darkness is seen as a rescue aid- Jeffreys employs the first-person; making me wonder whether he is a bystander or one of the song’s central subjects. Throughout the early stages there is a sense of ambiguity and intrigue: you are never quite sure the background (behind the song); unclear what is unfolding- yet the way the lyrics are portrayed; it allows some vivid speculation. The vocal is forceful and determined; filled with passion and urgency, it makes every word jump out- nothing gets muddled or lost under the weight of the composition. “Free/the 73/wake up to your needs” is uttered: another oblique sentiment that builds more fascination and wondering- what exactly is being referred to? The composition keeps pressing and plugging; it builds a huge amount of weight and emotion- ramping up the emotion. The chorus swings back around; the darkness is beckoned in- and another layer unfolded. When love goes wrong- as the song foretells- the hero (of the song) always plays the victim- seemingly an immature and naïve figure. There is no sense of sympathy or empathy in our lead’s voice: a guy with no real sense of reality, the song’s core is being given a dressing-down. Before you become entrenched in the song (some more); investigate the lyrics and dive into the story- the band come back to the fore. Those attacking strings melt with forceful bass; the percussion strikes and pummels- the knife-edge composition mixes anxious strings and dark-edged beats. Showcasing the band’s tight and intuitive relationship, it is a stunning segment. Melting some of U2’s skyscraping early work with some Velvet Underground overtones; the song’s messages and central themes hits home. With every disaster, the song’s lead is playing the victim; coming off the hurt party- someone who needs things to go his way all the time. By the time you become invested in the story, the song comes to its end: the final utterance of the chorus sees our lead backed on vocals; that central mantra- “Darkness, rescue me”- comes back into effect- augmented and emphasised in the final stages. By the time the song comes to its end, you are left wondering how things worked out: if the lead (Jeffreys) was rescued; if the song’s subjects found what they needed- if there was a fair resolution.
Being available on SoundCloud, Darkness is (one of two songs) that the public can hear- an insight into their stunning album. Uplifting and emphatic; heavy and serious, the song tows the line between emotional grab and stadium-sized riffs/choruses- a fascinating mix that seems ready-made for the crowds. One of the most agile and fresh bands to come out of Manchester, Darkness is better than most tracks out there- a testament to the band’s songwriting talents; the close and tight performances of the band members. Jeffreys leads from the front: his vocal is strong and resilient; gripping and emotive- making sure the song’s messages are understood and appreciated. Someone who has seen his share of disreputable sorts, you hear the convicting and sense of fatigue- the need to get away from crap situations; find some sort of salvation. Gray Shaw’s bass keeps the song sturdy and focused: making sure nothing gets out of hand; he leads with force- displaying a keen ear for melody and rhythm. Instilled with a clear sense of personality and purpose, Shaw matches cutting drive with restrained guidance- adding force and emotion when the song calls for it. Smethurst’s lead guitar- sitting with Oliver’s guitar work- is emphatic and impressive throughout. Strong-armed and resilient, the guitars cut and shred; attack and sting- making sure the listener is kept on the edge of their seats. Never too heavy-handed and imposing, the strings add the necessary degree of weight and punch- the perfect complement to Jeffreys vocals. With Jason “Nut” Coverdale charging from the back- providing a huge amount of drive and passion- and you have quite an incredible band. Coverdale’s stick work is impressively tense and gripping (from first to last); keeping the song hard and heavy. Completed with some fine production work- that makes sure no notes or vocals get lost or misheard- Darkness is allowed to breathe and flourish- and be fully appreciated.
Before I make my way out of my ‘comfort zone’- and towards some foreign wonders- I am looking around the current scene; the growing mass of Indie bands- wondering what their future will be. At the moment (that genre) is the fastest-growing around: it requires more truth (and fewer diversions/musical complications) than other genres- it is more straight-ahead and to-the-point. Within the genre, there are opportunities for mobility and surprise: those that understand this are those that remain in the memory. Fatigued by the throng of twenty-something bands aimlessly playing- thinking it is sufficient enough to phone it in- when a terrific act comes along, it is always pleasing. It does not take a lot to stand aside: some personal and intelligent lyrics; an original and bracing sound; songs that stick in the brain- few acts negate these simple points. The From Carbon boys have their own drive and personality- although they include a little of other bands, they are very much their own. Darkness is a track that has not received a lot of air play and blog space- I do not understand why. One of Wealth’s standout tracks, it is the band at their finest- the distillation and fine process of all their shades and elements; a brilliant fusion of components- getting too much into the carbon analogies (the band need to change their name!). Before signing off, it is worth pushing the band into your mind: check out the (couple of songs) they have on SoundCloud; make sure you snap up Wealth– ironically, it is very reasonably priced; make certain to make the band one of your ‘new discoveries’. In the Indie/Alternative arena, there are few bands that really pull it off: tick all the boxes and put you in mind of the legends past- the likes of The Smiths, Oasis, Doves and so forth. Although the boys have their unique sound- and could not readily be compared to those acts- the comparable bedrocks remain: the knack with an instantaneous chorus/tune; lyrics that mix personal introspection and huge uplift (The Smiths could even do that) and terrific melodies- what else could you possible desire?! Well, there is more to recommend: From Carbon are planning new songs; readying themselves for future sounds- so brace yourself for what is to come. In the meantime, investigate Wealth; hope over to SoundCloud; give them a ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’- so you can keep up-to-date with all their happenings. In a (music world) bestrewn with variable/mediocre/bat-shit lame acts, we should embrace those that circumvent expectations- go out their way to make exceptional music. From Carbon are an elemental band; starting out and finding their way. Although they are carbon now, we all know what (carbon turns into) and it is only a matter of time. My lame/insatiable carbon-based puns aside, get involved in their graft; support a fine young band…
SIMPLE as that.
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