Been Lovin’ You
Been Lovin’ You is available at:
5th February, 2016
Soul; Rock; Pop
Los Angeles, U.S.A.
AS I get to feature another Los Angeles-based artist…
it is worth talking more about the city (and its musical culture); fusings of Rock and Soul- a little bit about the Pop mainstream and unsigned acts. Wandering back into L.A.; it gives me an opportunity to meet one of the most exciting acts emerging from the city. Nicky Davey produce ‘noise alchemy’ and are mingle beauty and soulfulness with something edgier and Rock-inspired. Although Nicky Davey are touted as a duo- they do have Bert Gay on bass- their sound suggests something band-made and much larger. I shall get to them soon: for now, it is worth looking at the best bands coming from the city. In a historic sense, the likes of Guns N’ Roses, The Doors and Rage Against the Machine have called L.A. home. Throw in Hole, Weezer; The Byrds and Bad Religion: you have an epicenter of musical creativity that has spawned some of the greatest acts of all time. In terms of Rock acts alone- and artists who play within various sub-genres of Rock- and you have a plenty of options there. I guess Los Angeles is always going to be associated with a certain sexiness and hardness. The tough and granite sounds of Rage’ and Hole; the riffs and histrionics of Guns N’ Roses: many will have clear impressions of L.A. music based on its legends and past masters. The scene has changed today and is a lot more surprising and varied. Lord Huron’s sweet-leaf jams (and songs about marijuana parties) have enthralled critics and the local crowds. In the Valley Below (who hail from Echo Park) pen Indie lullabies and are the epitome of the uber-cool and happening. The Peach Kings are another duo (like In the Valley Below) who teases ‘70s Rock sounds alongside smoky lead vocals. If you want something a bit more underground: The Koreatown Oddity spits his raps and rhymes behind (a creepy-looking) wolf mask. Los Angeles Police Department thrilled audiences with their self-titled 2014 E.P.: their melody-driven music has seen them grow in reputation and stature. Chela is perhaps the most relevant example- when looking for like-minded acts of Nick Davey- and has crafted stunning Pop sounds without compromising her ideals. Hailing from Australia- ensconcing herself in West Hollywood- here is an artist who blends universal sentiments with ‘80s synthesisers to create music that gets the feet moving. Los Angeles- and California in a wider sense- are producing some of the most varied and consistent musicians in the world. Having never visited L.A.- it is something I must rectify in future years- I am not sure what motivates such a drive and sense of quality. In London, there are some terrific venues a musician can cut their teeth in. Certain areas of the capital have wonderful enclaves where musicians support one another. There is that sense of kinship and togetherness that propels creative spurts and inventive writing. Perhaps that can be said of Los Angeles. We all assume the city to be over-crowded, bustling and stressful- hardly conducive to great leaps of musical productivity- but perhaps that is a false impression. Like every major city; Los Angeles is going to have its limitations and repression. There are a lot of musicians that rebel against the worst traits of the mainstream- the over-produced and committee-written songs; the boring and predictable sounds; musicians that want fame over respect- to present something much more credible and laudable. Before raising new points; it is worth me introducing Nicky Davey to you:
Nick Green – Vocals
Dave Rosser – Guitar, Vocals
Bert Gay – Bass, Vocals
“The LA rock and soul duo Nicky Davey just dropped a video for their single “Been Lovin’ You”. Nick Green and Dave Rosser officially formed the project in 2011. They started out just making records together under various aliases until they carved a sound they could truly call their own.
Their approach to songwriting has always had a strong emphasis on beauty, combined with infectious hooks. Their music features lush vocal arrangements, infused with the melodic honey of the talk box over organic beats. Constantly striving to reinvent the modern pop song, they were given the opportunity to work closely with Odd Future affiliates, The Internet. Lead Singer Nick Green‘s vocal production on The Internet’s Ego Death helped earn it a Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Directed by Rich Yodsukar and filmed in the streets of downtown Los Angeles, the music video captures in a light-hearted way the reality of being musicians in L.A “We live and breathe our music and are willing to do anything for it, even walk all the way down to Hollywood Boulevard. to play outside in front of people, that’s just the spirit we have”. “Been Lovin’ You” is the last track on the NOW compilation album that went in stores everywhere on February 5.
Nicky Davey is the only artist unsigned to a major label to be featured on NOW 57. The duo is working on new material and will release a new EP in spring 2016”.
I am glad Nicky Davey have made it onto a major release (Now That’s What I Call Music! 57) but perhaps not something I would lead with. It is a great achievement but they sit alongside some rather questionable artists. In the past, the Now’ series has been synonymous with the best of music- until the 1990s at least- but now is a collection of the media-approved Pop artists a lot of people dislike. While you get a few credible songs in the mix- Alessia Cara is among them- the majority is filler and bland Pop- Coldplay; Justin Bieber etc. A notable achievement for the L.A. group but it does them a disservice, I feel. Nicky Davey expertly blend their Soul/Funk influences- Stevie Wonder; Jamiroquai- with lush vocals and stunning hooks. You get impressions of downtown L.A. and vintage shades of the 1970s- hardly what you’d associate with a modern Pop act. To be fair, Nicky Davey have more in common with their idols than they do their peers. Able to transcend borders- and chart positions too- they are a hot proposition. It is amazing the duo is unsigned at the moment: let’s hope that is something they cannot claim in a few months. I guess that is one good thing to come from the compilation inclusion: it will open record labels’ eyes and start a bidding war before too long. If that doesn’t; Been Lovin’ You certainly will. A confident and exciting slice that roots itself in the brain and pleases the senses: a wonderfully rich and catchy song from a seriously promising act. Maybe not strong enough to sway my opinions on the mainstream- it will take a lot more than that- it does raise some interesting points. A lot of us are too concerned with the mainstream and those artists climbing the charts- when it comes to the so-called ‘best’ music has to offer. I think that notion is rather dated and misleading. While Nicky Davey are certainly worthy of long-term success; they have an edge and nuance most of their contemporaries lack. They nestle alongside Coldplay (on the Now’ compilation) but are far stronger than the British act. What separates Nicky Davey from the crowd- aside from their unsigned status- is the genres they combine and the lyrics they put out. The songbooks look at universal themes- love and longing; loss and heartbreak- but ensure their songs are a lot deeper and more original than their subjects. I hope Nicky Davey capitalise on their momentum and nods and keep the flame burning. I know there is a spring release (for a new E.P.) and the boys will look to tour and take their music out there. Whether they are stopping by the U.K. – I know how many fans they have over here! – is probably down to them. Been Lovin’ You is just a fraction of what they are capable of. A teasing and salacious slice of Blues-cum-Soul-via-Rock: one of the most arresting and compelling songs from one of Los Angeles’ best.
Whilst the video for Been Lovin’ You was released very recently: the song has been on the Internet for a few months now. Last year; Nicky Davey released their self-titled E.P. The five-track collection demonstrates plenty of variation, personality and strength. While Been Lovin’ You is the strongest of the set- a natural lead-off track and single- that is not to say the remainder of the E.P. suffers.
Dreamgirl has that delirious and stunning lead vocal swooning and pervading. Velvety and soul-nourishing: you get embers of Michael Jackson and Prince come through in the notes. Haunting, romantic and luscious: a song that makes the hairs stand on end and shivers arrive. Multi-layered vocals and sparse electronics combine to create something rapturous and hugely sensual. The vocal quality reminds me of Boyz II Men and the best work they produced.
Rainbows relies less on the choir-like vocals and has a more focused central performance. “She had bullets in chamber”; in a “pistol full of danger” are evocative words that look at love’s harder times. Locking and loading; guns and danger are used as metaphors to ascribe a relationship that has its perils and pitfalls. Edgier guitar and driving beats bring Prince comparisons to the fore. You get a delicious blend of Funk and Rock around a rich and soulful performance. A huge and impressive lead vocal pushes the song and ensures every word gets inside the mind.
Hollywood is a driving and sassy number that is fast, furious and divine. With embers of D’Angelo underpinning that ecstatic drama: here is a song that is instantly catchy and filled with promise. Vocal layers and insatiable guitar seduce one another and create something hugely atmospheric. You get recollections of Prince and Michael Jackson inside modern and polished production.
Gonna Love Ya is perhaps the most mainstream/Pop-influenced track on the E.P. – maybe the weakest track of the set. That said, there is plenty to suggest it is more than the sum of its parts. Dig deep, and you find a song that has more maturity and edge than most of today’s Pop. Cosmic electronics and a constant energy ensure the track is never boring or passes you by. Once more, you get committed and chocolate-smooth vocals that vary between scatting and elongated. Dynamic, nimble and changing pace at will: the song keeps busy and restless until the final moments.
Nicky Davey released their E.P. with plenty of conviction and quality. The attention to detail and workmanship that went into its creation is hugely impressive. Whether there were a lot of writers and producers brought in- or the boys themselves had more control- it is hard to say. What you get from the quintet of tracks is impressions of 1970s Soul/Pop greats with some very modern and relevant sounds. It means (the E.P.) is not primed and directed at the Pop charts. There is enough maturity, quality and depth to distinguish away from the bland and over-hyped releases we have seen the last year. Nicky Davey is an act that has plenty more to say: it will be interesting to see how they develop and what their next move is. Given the reaction to Nicky Davey- and how critics have celebrated it- I would not be surprised to see their forthcoming E.P. get the same attention. The real test will be whether they keep their qualities and personality shining in the new E.P. A lot of artists would be tempted to sell-out and succumb to the lure of chart positions and dumbing things down. I am confident the L.A. boys will keep their sound intact and strong: not ones to let their fans down and change things now. Whatever they come up with will be hugely exciting and promising, I am sure.
Been Lovin’ You is the most-played and shared track Nicky Davey has written. The standout and gem from their E.P. – the most urgent and nuanced song from them- has hit people hard and left its marks. Tribal sounds and curiosities open the track. You get electronic click and jungle calls mixing inside acoustic strings: a build-up that gets more heated and colourful as we progress. From the edgy and dark recesses of the start; the track opens up and you get something light, breezy and dancing- the acoustic string section reminds me of The Doobie Brothers’ Long Train Running. After the head-spinning and exciting opening; that smooth and honey voice arrives to give context and explanation. The vocal rides the acoustic guitar and is enraptured. Our lead is clearly in the throes of love and has a particular girl in mind. When seeing her face- or the first time he saw her- you get a sense of an angelic and heart-aching beauty. With his blood hot and heart racing; there is that desire to get the girl and gain her heart. Maybe the two are not together at the moment- there is a seduction call and ritual unfolding- and our hero keeps his emotions at bay. Working hard to get her- through patience and romance- you start to picture the scenes and the parties involved. In a way, Been Lovin’ You is more classic than it is modern. Hints of Michael Jackson and Prince- two names that crop up when describing the band’s songs- influence the vocal and direction. Soul and Pop spar with modern beats to create something instantaneous and classic. On the one hand, the production and composition have a modernity and radio-friendly vibe that will appeal to many Pop fans and mainstream stations. On the other hand- and perhaps more pleasingly- is the 1970s/’80s vibe that will draw in older listeners and those with a genuine love for great music. It is impossible to ignore the beauty and sweetness in the voice: the acoustic guitar keeps swinging whilst the beats continue to crackle and impress. Our hero asks for (the girl’s) number and is biding his time. Ready to explode- he will school her “like a teacher”- and wants a relationship with depth and potential. Promising to stay true and loyal- unlike the braggadocio and arrogance of some men- there is some honesty and maturity to the lyrics. The sweat keeps dripping and there is a palpable lust and longing that burns brightly. You feel our hero is about to explode and desperately wants the girl. Other guys might rush in and come on too strong. In order to succeed and separate himself from the clowns; there needs to be some control and discipline. Upon first listen, Been Lovin’ You is all about that vocal and how aching it is. There is never melisma and ululation to be found: the notes and delivery are controlled and in keeping with the lyrical tones of the song. After future investigation; you discover layers and new joys- the composition and production after the second listen; the lyrics on the third, etc. When first hearing the song- I have since gone to study the song in a lot more depth- it is impossible to ignore that arresting vocal and the evocative lyrics. There is so much spark and shiver that emanates from that voice: the lyrics suggest a young man who has found a rare girl that might be with another guy. There is some ambiguity in the song that allows the listener to interpret their own version of events. Maybe the heroine is with someone else- and our hero wants to steal her away- or perhaps the two have just come together and are taking things slowly. In my mind, the two are single but not wanting to rush into things. Our man has loved her (whoever she may be) for a while and wants to claim his queen. Backing the vocal- with layers of voice and delicious compositional touches- and you get a rich, deep and uplifting song that gets into the soul. Guitars, xylophone-like sounds tie together; the beats remain sparse but effective throughout.
For those who adore the Soul legends and Pop masters of old will find much to recommend and love within Been Lovin’ You. There is a sense of authority, genuine knowledge and command that makes the song sound so pure and natural. Nicky Davey has grown up listening to the likes of Prince and Michael Jackson and done them justice here. Plenty of originality and personality comes out in the song that deserves a lot of respect and radio play. Too much chart/mainstream music is over-produced, hollow and vacuous. Too many ‘stars’ have armies of writers working for them: the music lacks identity and any focus whatsoever. Worse than that; you have a scene that lacks imagination, intelligence and cross-border appeal. Nicky Davey has ensured they do not fall into the traps laid by some of music’s least and slight. Been Lovin’ You has gained a lot of focus and admiration (rightfully so) and shows just what the boys are capable of. It means their forthcoming E.P. will be met with huge anticipation. I cannot wait to see what they come up with.
It will be exciting to see what Nicky Davey produce when spring arrives. Been Lovin’ You is a strong statement from an act that have grown and developed since their inception. Formed in 2011; the hungry L.A. act have distinguished themselves from the mainstream. One of the most credible and exciting propositions coming from music: make sure you check out what these guys are providing. Nicky Davey are looking to reinvent and push Pop/Soul forward. In a scene that is still defined by its shallowness and lack of quality- predictable tracks and uninspiring artists- Nicky Davey are on a noble surge. What you get from the duo (or trio, if you will) is passion and hunger without limits. It is clear music means everything to the group. That passion and determination comes through in the music and videos they produce. It is not about money and column inches with the guys: they record music to influence others and show their spirit and heart. I have grown a bit tired of the mainstream and Pop world in general. Aside from the odd gem you can find; still there are too many one-dimensional and effete artists that all say/sound the same. What is the point of coming into music is you are not going to put the effort in?! Maybe there is a degree of lacking talent- said Pop artist just doesn’t have the ability to be different- but there is a worrying trend happening. Award ceremonies are still highlighting some of the worst and most unspectacular acts music has to provide. The truly worth/credible artists are those whose musical ability outstrips viewing figures and chart positions. Nicky Davey haven’t been prostituting their music and hogging red carpets in a (shallow and deplorable) bid for stardom. They have been grafting and honing to ensure their music reaches as many people as possible. I love the little touches of Soul legends- Stevie Wonder is a big name you recall- and the ghost of Michael Jackson. The stunning and rousing vocals beautifully nestle with more modern acts such as Justin Timberlake and Macy Gray. It seems like the boys are at home in L.A. and feel very comfortable amongst the people. A huge and supportive crowd follows them and is keen to share and support their music. It would be great to see the guys come to London and play across the U.K. There are certain musicians that have wide-ranging appeal and will be in demand across the world. I can see Nicky Davey playing across Australia, Europe and Asia. Whether they want to concentrate more on U.S. gigs- and their hometown crowds- I am not too sure. A new E.P. is mooted and will be snapped up by those who prefer their artists to be obsessed with quality and not fame. Nicky Davey understand the realities of the city and the struggle musicians have to go through. Poking fun at the struggles and pitfalls of the game- the video for Been Lovin’ You spoofs it brilliantly- there is happy-go-lucky charm and smile with everything they do. Too many artists are dour and determined to be as downbeat as they can be. There is no such danger when it comes to Nicky Davey. The music world is a lottery that does not seem to have any real sense of justness and balance to it. I have witnessed too many great artists fall early; so many undeserving artists succeed and prosper.
That capriciousness and unpredictability is worrying for new musicians coming onto the scene. The first few years are always a real test of durability and strength. Having been playing for a few years now; Nicky Davey have already jumped the first hurdles with impressive aplomb. Before wrapping up, I will circle back to the finest L.A. musicians coming through and the importance of blending Soul and Pop. L.A. had a huge year in music throughout 2015. This year looks to be even more exciting and prosperous. Perhaps the finest and most productive city for music: Los Angeles keeps on giving so much wonder and originality. Death Valley Girls– Echo Park neighbours of In the Valley Below- fuse Psychobilly and Punk with songs that look at the darker side of life (the occult, for one). Justin Jay is a master of euphoric and sky-scraping hits: marimba-like synths. go into songs that compel audiences to chant and come together in an orgy of excitement and delirium. Swarvy puts old-skool beats and electronics together with Jazz fusions and Rap samples. Flecks of Thom Yorke emerge in Toy Light: a daring proposition that adds originality and personality to Electronic music. I mention other acts- and L.A. peers of Nicky Davey- to show what diversity and excellence is coming forward. The charts are not really indicative of what real music is all about. Acts like Nicky Davey are creating disambiguation and given listeners something deep, meaningful and without cynicism. There are so many artists that are fake and really lack any quality whatsoever. Some of the musicians being celebrated/awarded at the moment- from Coldplay and Adele to Ed Sheeran- really do not give music a great name. A trio of artists who have been derided and criticised- Adele and Coldplay’s latest albums lacked inspiration, overall quality and consistency- yet seem to scoop up awards, regardless. Unsigned and putting out exceptional music: Nicky Davey deserve more acclaim and following than the likes of Ed Sheeran and Coldplay. Putting Soul and Pop into a dizzying blender has seen their fan-base climb and their reputation grow in leaps and bounds. This year will be exciting for the guys and let’s hope they keep their momentum going. Been Lovin’ You is a song that makes you smile and implores listeners to get involved. Respect to a musical force that is going to be…
AMONG this year’s most exciting acts.
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