Defeat the Band
Love and How It Got That Way
Love and How It Got That Way is available at:
AS every day passes I am not exactly becoming…
prouder to be a British music fan. Last night saw the televisation of the annual Brit Awards. While the ‘Oscars’ and similar award ceremonies have been derided because of the lack of diversity- the nominees are predominantly white- the same is true of the Brits. I am not saying we need to fill quotas or employ reverse-racism: Making sure there are black names on the list, regardless of talent. There are plenty of talented black artists in British music: The award categories are too few and broad; they do not reflect the wider music community. The Brit Awards tend to have that reputation as being white, middle-class and boring. The ‘winners’ from the night include James Bay, Adele (who picked up four awards) and other musicians who did not exactly set the music world alight. Adele’s album 25 was a massive disappointment and undeserved award winner. That album did not depart from her previous efforts: It packed little punch and range; relying on the same big ballads and tear-inducing tracks. If this is the ‘best’ album from the past year you have to wonder what is happening with music. Of course, 25 was not actually the best from 2015. There are dozens of other more deserving albums: the Brit Awards has a very ‘type’ of audience and has to configure to mainstream expectations and chart figures. Last night showed how out-of-touch the Brit Awards is with actual music. The fact Coldplay won the award from Best British Group- how many people would say they are the best we have to offer?!- speaks volumes about the uncool and tragic nature of the awards. They do not represent people with an actual passion for quality music. With no edge and terrible dated ‘humour’- Ant McPartlin wearing a dress was the nadir and death knell of their attempt at humour- you had a ceremony that dripped with embarrassment and stupidity. The worst and most chart-friendly musicians played and were nominated: what a terrible time and showcase for British music. If you want to discover proper music and what it offers: you need to stray award from the idiotic award shows and look deeper. Maybe there will be a day when national award shows are more diverse and quality-controlled- I am not holding my breath to be honest- but forget about them. For me- when trying to unearth great music- I do not rely on such nonsense. Luckily my featured band has erased the sour taste of the Brit Awards. Before I get to them, I wanted to have a look at the music coming out of Arizona- where Defeat the Band are based. It may seem like an odd diversion to many: I do not get to go to U.S. areas away from L.A. and New York that often! From Gospel Claws through Jimmy Eat World; along to Dear and the Headlights and The Format: there have been so great artists emanate from The Grand Canyon State. Given its proximity to California; perhaps it is not surprising Arizona houses so many great musicians. Over the past few years, the state has showcased some great talent. Future Loves Past (from Tempe) mix ‘70s Pop and Psychedelia; What Laura Says (from Phoenix) boast a wonderfully sunny ‘60s Pop sound; Gospel Claws (the best from Mesa) are one of the best Arizona has to offer. A lot of us do not look beyond L.A., New York and obvious U.S. areas: Arizona has plenty of wonderful bands showing what they are made of. What Arizona does well is stamp some terrific, original Rock bands out. Defeat the Band is starting to make waves and recently unleashed their album, Something Unheard Of. Before continuing my investigation- and raising a new point- let me introduce the Tuscon-based band:
Anthony Winkley– Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Michael Story– Bass, Backing Vocals
James Ringstrom– Drums
“Defeat the band is a Pop/Punk/Showtune band based of Tucson, AZ. Founded in early 2013 as an acoustic solo project by frontman Anthony Winkley, it has since grown to a three piece with hopes to add more. The lineup started to build and change as the band started to form in early 2014, eventually settling on James Ringstrom as the percussive backbone of the outfit. Although Anthony is the composer for most of the songs, James brings the aggressive punch necessary to deliver the experience of a DEFEAT song. The latest addition of Michael Story is exactly the boost the band needed. The new record “Something Unheard Of” released December 18th, 2015 an album meant to set the tone for a springtime US tour in April 2016. Please Download the new record atwww.soundcloud.com/defeattheband and if you enjoy the record and want to help us come play near you the donate at www.gofundme.com/defeattheband”.
The boys are doing things honestly and working hard to get their sounds heard and supported. While the guys wear some of their influences on their sleeves: they are not a band that wants to be the same as everyone else. They kick harder than most groups I have come across; stay in the memory and are consistently impressive and innovating. Among a scene of rather indistinct bands: it is nice to discover a group that balks against the trend and does things their own way. Our Tuscon guys are not in music for the money- although they would like to have a bit! – but get their music heard by a wider audience. Their new album is gathering praise and review but not as much as it should. That brings to mind how hard musicians need to campaign to get their voices heard. It is true there are an awful lot of musicians coming through by the week. It is a huge challenge keeping control and sifting through the silt- to get to the real gold. I think the busier music gets; the harder it will be to champion the most deserving musicians. Social media is only effective to an extent- and needs a lot of work- so I am not sure what the answer is. Defeat the Band has gained reputation and respect in Arizona- and wider afield for sure- but are almost unknown in the U.K. I hope the boys come play here as there is a market and a real demand for bands (and musicians) with realness and grit to them. Tired of the mainstream Pop crap- and the vanilla sounds that plague award shows- we need to foster artists like Defeat the Band. Something Unheard Of is an impressive nine-track release that proves what a force the band is. I will follow them (as much as I can) as there are few bands that are as hard-hitting and ambitious as them. I hope their passion and drive pays off very soon.
The band has not been around too long but have already released quite a bit of material. A couple of months ago; the boys unveiled Sorry for the Weight: a five-track E.P. that laid out their intentions and sound. American Grief has Country tones and a reflectiveness to begin. Aching vocals and plaintive strumming looks at our man in the wilderness and looking at who he is. A song that looks inwards for answers- someone that has been blinded by city lights- you sense a soul that needs direction. Blood Habit has a similarly acoustic-driven sound and showcases the tenderness and sensitivity they are capable of. The E.P. is a live-sounding and raw insight into the band’s pastoral and acoustic side. It does not have the same directness and attack of Something Unheard Of. What you get- and a nice comparison to their album- is how diverse and able the boys are. Capable of seducing no matter how they sound- whether calmer or going for the jugular- their songs are just as effective when stripped down- compelling when meaty and menacing. Drawing from U.S. Rock bands- it is hard to overlook the effect Foo Fighters have had- they bring in other artists like The Front Bottoms, Pup and The Rifle. The band was originally conceived as a solo endeavor (back in 2013) but expanded soon after. Experimenting with line-up and sound: the boys seem settled now and are an effective and tight-knit trio. Given the changeable nature of the band- and how they have evolved- you would expect the music to have some weakness and uncertainty. There is no such fate with regards Defeat the Band. Whilst front-man Anthony Winkley puts his stamp on the music; the trio is a democracy where every player has their role and place. This balance and brotherhood result in music that has seen the group grow in popularity and regard. The guys will embark on a U.S. tour in a short time and take their latest album far and wide. Given the fans they have accrued already- their social media numbers continue to widen and climb- it is clear the music is resonating and hitting the mark. The trio employs mainstream and radio sounds together with individual touches- their native accents and intuition overrides everything- to bring us something deep, direct and nuanced music. I cannot wait to see how the band progress when it comes to this/next year. They have momentum but are still looking for that defining moment and a wider audience. I know the guys are seeking money, fans and tour dates: they are determined to be big names and have lofty ambitions. If they continue on their path- and bring more of the same- they are not going to be secrets for too much longer.
I chose to focus on Love and How It Got That Way– I do not do a lot of album reviews- because it is the most instant and memorable (in my view) track from the album. From the opening moments; you hear that passion and intention come out. The drum trickles, rolls and patters; the guitars elicit punctuation of aching, sensual strings. An upbeat and rousing introduction that gets the listener standing to attention. You will not be able to avoid nodding your head- or moving your feet- hearing that effusive and racing introduction. After the band have set out their stall; our hero comes to the microphone with concerns. Whether he is in a relationship- or looking back at one that has ended- there seems to be some issues and questions. The girl in question- the heroine that is being attested- thinks things are ridiculous; there is something teenage and juvenile in places. Digging into the lyrics and their meaning; the listener will have their own interpretation and what the song means to them. Maybe the love was/is not so pure. The song’s subject is leaving our hero restless and up and night: the memories of their bond is causing some turmoil or consideration. There is a spikiness and directness to the heroine which have caused their scars. When our boys lies awake at night; he starts to bring those memories back and replay the times again and again.
While some of the lyrics get buried in the mix- the instrumentation drowns some of them down- you get hooked into the song’s rousing energy and catchy backdrop. The guitars, drum and bass kick and skip; change course and remain constantly engaging. Never descending into Pop territory: you have a song that brings in some Punk and Rock together with Indie and Alternative strands. That quiet-loud switch the band have cemented appears throughout the song. Whilst the majority of the song is quite controlled and calmed: at various intervals, the vocal reaches an intense point and breaks through the mist. When a new number arrives; I try and see what motivates the lyrics and pick it apart. Looking at Love and How It Got That Way and you sense a band that have been messed around in love and are assessing something quite shallow and basic. The heroine is someone who satisfies (our hero) sexually: there is nothing deeper or more profound. The girl has defiled the bed- the imagery the band employ direct and colourful language to drive the point home. Perhaps the two lovers have different objectives and perspectives. Maybe there was miscommunication or different ideals. Our man is showing some scars but also maturity. Perhaps he did not want something long-lasting or permanent but seems a little annoyed. Whilst one part of my mind looks at the relationship and scenes- the hot and heavy nights and lack of conversation- I am also invested in the composition that keeps driving and impressing. It has addictiveness and memorability that ensures it gets inside the brain. The percussion drives whilst the bass and guitar chug, slam and change courses- ensuing the song remains unpredictable and nimble. Our hero picks apart the wreckage- maybe the two are together but you’d hope not- and assessed the changing nature of modern love. In past years- something old and vintage- love was more pure and meaningful. It seems like there is disposability and sexualisation that is replacing emotions and longevity. Making sure the vocals are arresting and potent; the band unites to chorus “hey” and “ho”. That boisterousness and rabble injects some ladishness and swagger. Maybe the two were on the same plain to begin with. In so much as the ‘relationship’ had its shallowness; there must have been some more fulfilling times. Our man pines over his girl and what they had in the past. Whether it is just about sex- and getting that spark back and alive- the damage has been done. “Until my voice is rotted through” our hero will pine and yearn. It is a descriptive and vivid emphasis of this loss and lust. Strangely, you begin to sympathise and wish the two would rekindle. Maybe the girl has moved on or the relationship met an untimely and sticky (maybe not the right word) end. By the closing notes, all has been said and you feel compelled to replay the song- hear those addictive and stunning jams one more time.
With another Brit Awards ringing in my ears (like a screaming child on a plane) I am looking for a musical cold shower. Something that can wash away the stench of blandness and horridness. Luckily, Defeat the Band have provided a much-needed dose of perspective and reality. You will not see these guys pandering to the needs of the charts and mainstream radio bosses- dreary Pop with no insight, originality or guts. In fact- if they were to attend an award ceremony- you’d like to think they would smash a few tables up and causes some chaos. I shall leave award shows alone- I could go on for days, to be fair- but my larger point is this: the best and most worthy musicians are not represented by award shows and the nominees. Love and How It Got That Way is a snippet inside Defeat the Band’s latest album. I know how hard the boys have worked and toiled to get the record ‘just so’. The U.S. is putting a lot of great bands our way and we should all be a lot more attentive. Far too many focuses on British music and are stubborn when it comes to trying new cuisines.
Whilst U.S. politics has bat-sh**-crazy lunatics like Donald Trump rising- and moronic voters in Nevada brainwashed by his insanity- at least the music has sanity and truth to it. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could get rid of the politicians- people elected to speak for us- and let music/musicians lead the way? It would be a more popular democracy and promote peace and unity over… whatever our leaders proffer. Anyway; let’s all do our best to look beyond predictable and safe options and celebrate music from other parts of the globe. Before I finish things off, I wanted to come back to Arizona musicians and the impact they are making. Go to the Internet and check out musicians like Celebration Guns, Factories and The Holy Coast- a trio of acts playing out of Phoenix. Away from the state capital, you have a variety of agile young artists staking their claim in music. Between Tuscon, Tempe and Arizona you have a veritable army of musicians that could happily conquer the scene- were they given enough exposure and attention. I feel the media- and radio stations to a large extent- do not take risks and take their minds away from the larger cities/states. I am not sure whether things are different in America- and national radio brands are more adventurous- but it shouldn’t be down to local radio/media to help champion the best a state how to offer. New York and California get their dues and are put right into the forefront.
What of the solo artist from Boise or the invigorating five-piece from Tallahassee? We might never heard of them- unless we are in the right place at the right time- and lose a wonderful opportunity. Maybe it is just an issue of numbers and size. With music growing larger and more corpulent by the day: how hard is it for a modern-day artist to get their music heard? Arizona is a wonderfully rich musical centre but there is so much competition at local level. As good as Defeat the Band is; they have had to work relentlessly to get their music beyond state boundaries and to a wider audience. I guess the best music has to offer will always win out- even if their struggle is fraught and long. I have been enjoying what Defeat the Band has to offer. Their entire album- Something Unheard Of– showcases a consistency and solidity that few other acts possess. Every song has that unity and tight performances coming out. The boys have been hitting the road and honing their skills: taking that experience to the studio and delivering some terrific tracks. At one moment they roar and deliver feral vocals- Don’t Feed the Bears is particularly direct- whereas songs like Ultra Blue showcase depth and musical innovation- the composition is particularly impressive here. Among the passion and fervent vocals lingers heart and tenderness. The band switch between anger and control without a moment’s notice. They are a collective that puts you in mind of the best stadium Rock band playing. They have a little bit of Foo Fighters- at their most credible and compelling- without sacrificing their integrity and unique sound. There is something pleasingly comforting about the Arizona group. They put your mind in a better place and write music that gets in the head and makes the listener warm. It might sound like faint praise but too many bands do not leave lasting impressions. Go and support Defeat the Band as soon as possible: a band who want to bring the listener in and ensure their music creates smiles and fascination. It is hard to not love the guys and become immersed in their direct and to-the-point tracks. Nuanced and deep; compelling and hard-hitting: genuinely one of the most impressive bands I have encountered this year. Don’t take my word for it…
DECIDE for yourself.
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