A&E is available at:
3rd April 2016
Indie; Blues-Rock; Alternative
I always like a rarity in music as it gives the listener something…
new and unexpected. There are very few trios in modern music- compared with bands and solo artists- and for that reason, my featured act is fascinating. I shall come to them soon, but for now, I will look at trios- and boy-girl combinations in bands- in addition to Yorkshire-based bands and the changing face of Rock. I love looking at band dynamics and seeing which combination makes the best sounds. The four/five-piece band is always going to interest me: if anything; having more members can be quite unwieldy and excessive. The same could be said for the solo artist: perhaps there is not quite enough- when it comes to players- to truly hold attention- it depends on the talent of the individual. The band commodity is still the most bankable and in-demand in all of music- the duos and trios are starting to make a charge. I find the traditional quartet is not quite as dominant as before. We all look to bands like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles as the ultimate line-ups: where each member was crucial and unreplaceable; without them, the music would not be as electric. Led Zeppelin can be added to that list: the epitome of the golden four-piece: a group that would have been inferior with fewer members; if any player was replaced. Over the last few years; I have encountered some truly special duos: from Folk and Indie two-pieces; across to Electro.-Pop and Soul. Royal Blood has shown just how effective a well-groomed and slick duo can be- with some cracking facial hair into the bargain! The likes of Royal Blood are not only compelling waves of followers- the male two-piece keen to do likewise- and proving what scope music has. Apply that logical in a wider sense and you it seems the trio is the perfect combination. More depth and possibility (than a duo); not as packed and cramped as a fully-stocked band: it is something I want to see more of. If you look at the best trios from music- Nirvana, Cream; Muse, Green Day; Beastie Boys too. As they have shown: if you have some incredible musicians in the line-up; you can have the same effect as a full band. Whilst the aforementioned play the harder, grittier side of music: there are ample supplies of softer, deeper trios. FloodHounds are not just an incredible three-piece- that can Rock as hard as any- but have a great chemistry in the ranks. The boy-girl, three-piece formation is quite a rare one in the current scene.
A power trio with a sturdy reputation: they are a British combination of The White Stripes; throw in a little bit of Band of Skulls and you are half-way there. Before I continue, let me introduce FloodHounds to you:
“FloodHounds are a fast-paced 3-piece British indie-rock band from Sheffield. Their “gloriously guitar-heavy rock,” takes you from British Indie/Rock to raw American Blues and hits you like a British Black Keys, crossed with The Rolling Stones, fed on a diet rich in Band of Skulls, The White Stripes, Blur and Kasabian.
Floodhounds were picked, out of 1,200 unsigned bands who applied, to play at Sheffield’s iconic Leadmill for Tramlines 2015 with rave reviews,see www.exposedmagazine.co.uk/music/tramli…floodhounds
A video of the band recording of “Bare Bones” at Sheffield’s iconic 2FlyStudios is atyoutu.be/24xT906F1kU.
Storming local gigs at the Rocking Chair and Plug Sheffield supporting October Drift, saw FloodHounds playing further afield this year, at Live in Barnsley’s 126-band Festival in June, and 3 successful London gigs in Camden and Shoreditch in April and supporting DJ sets by the likes of Gus from alt-J at 229 The Venue’s Mayday Festival.
The band’s new 3-piece incarnation emerged in late 2014, when founder members Jack Flynn – the vocalist, guitarist and songwriter of the band – and bass player Rhys Owens, were joined by drummer Lauren Greaves”.
There are not many bands that pack quite the same punch and drama- with only three people in their line-up. I think Rock/Blues needs to evolve and take a leap. There is that over-dependence (for bands coming through) to rigidly stick to four or five-piece line-ups; the music is similarly uninspired and predictable- the overall effect is quite disappointing and leaden. Many critics have asked that controversial question: Is Rock dead? If you compare (Rock music) of today with the golden years: you can probably agree with that sentiment. There is not the same quality, consistency and shock: it is hard to really reinvent the wheel and compete with the all-time greats. Whilst Rock is not as monumental and inspiring as once was: there are some great bands keeping the spirit alive and burning.
The artists that break away from the mould- the same, arena-primed sing-along ‘epics’- are always going to impress me most. FloodHounds mix the traditional with forward-thinking. At their heart, they have that love of classic Rock and Blues- they wear influences on their sleeves- but have huge originality and personality. The trio unites U.S. Blues-Rock with something very much them. The stories they tell- and the way they play- could only come from an act that does not want to be compared with anyone else. FloodHounds are one of those bands putting the spark and promise into Rock music. Not only do the guys keep it expansive- Blues and U.S. strands alongside British ‘70s Rock- but they are focused, tight and singular. The music they play lodges itself in the brain and is perfect for the hungry crowds- plenty of memorability and tasty riffs. I know the guys are planning an E.P. at the moment- the track-listing and inclusions are being debated and decided- which will be exciting to see. When that arrives; it will afford people the chance to discover a hungry young band in full flight. A&E is a teasing taste of what we can expect: a stunning track that is slinky, sexy and pummeling; filled with explosive highs and catchiness. The Sheffield-based trio is yet another Yorkshire act that keeps the county fully in focus. I have been looking at London and L.A. musician the last couple of weeks: seeing what those twin pillars can offer modern music. It is nice to be something more ‘real’ and relatable: a city that has been in my sights for a while now. Whether assessing Leeds-based bands- there have been many over the years- or Bradford duos (Issimo): I always love coming to Yorkshire and seeing what is on offer. With every town and city, there is newness and surprise: artists that vary greatly but have that exceptional quality. I know FloodHounds are going to keep growing and getting stronger by the year. They have gone through line-up change and challenges: with each obstacle, they have overcome it and built in confidence. The current material is their best to date. Committed to touring for the next couple of months: plenty of chances to see this wonderful young band in the flesh.
When I was listening to A&E; I had to look back at FloodHounds’ past work to see how far they have come. A lot of bands tend not to improve and change over time: doggedly sticking to their sound and not straying far from the familiar. FloodHounds came out of the blocks fresh and eager several years ago. Their debut, three-track, E.P. showed plenty of promise and quality. Songs such as Moving Pictures and The Fall packed plenty of punch and charm. Moving Pictures was a cool and swagger song that reminded me of early-career Oasis. You got little recollections of Liam Gallagher in our lead’s vocal: the song had that Definitely Maybe-esque sound to it. The Fall was more of a direct and attacking number. A song that drew ‘70s British Rock with U.S. Blues-Rock: a locomotive steamer that certainly got inside the head.
Bare Bones came out last year and showed development and changes. That central FloodHounds dynamic was in place but the trio introduced new elements. The production values were more raw and bare (than the predecessor) which gave the E.P. a grittier sound. FloodHounds moved away from the Oasis-esque, ‘90s Rock and towards something more individual and unique. The songwriting was stronger and the performances tighter. Twisting and Turning– the closer from the E.P.- best represented that growth and change. There are bits of past bands in the song; what you get is more depth and colour in the music; greater industriousness and nuance. With each passing year; FloodHounds grow in stature and become more confident. Their current line-up has been in place since late-2014 and the bond they have now is unbreakable and stunning. A&E draws together their older sounds and themes- a song that is definitely from FloodHounds- but they have taken another step. The trio does not want to come across stagnant: they are mobile and looking for fresh inspiration. I am not sure what influenced the song but the guys are in top form. Whenever their new E.P. is out- it should not be too long- it will be met with huge acclaim and attention. The three-piece has a solid fan-base and that does not surprise me- one of the most impressive and original bands we have right now.
A&E’s video has been on YouTube for six days but already accrued 356 views- at the time of this review going out. Flourishing, trickling strings bond with galloping beats: the guys get out of the traps with plenty of intent and focus. A&E never comes across too strong in the opening phases. The percussion is compellingly tight and powerful yet the guitar-and-bass combination remains restrained and disciplined. That combination- between instant and slow-burning- opens the track with fascination and potential. Soon enough; the trio whips up a catchy, head-bobbing coda that has that blend of familiarity and unexpectedness. You get essences of classic Blues-Rock riffs but through the funnel of FloodHounds. The trio put their own stamp on the genre and infuse their influences with personality: a stunning blend of evocative and brand-new. You get caught in the rollicking, driving force the trio summons. Not only does your feet move and head nod: you start to hum along with the composition and get lost in its charm and grip. When our hero comes to the microphone; those early words are spoken: “All the people look so tall…”. Delivered with consideration and pace: you wonder what the lyrics relate to. Maybe a commentary on anxiety and not fitting in; feeling smothered by the modern world and it changes- you start to speculate and delve inside those words. Before you can become comfortable in your assessments: more pieces of the puzzle of slotted. When you are down- it is sung and declared- other people look taller. A&E is a song that instantly struck a chord with me. When life gets you down- and you struggle with darker times- it is hard to relate to other people and their lives. Maybe our man is struggling against the tide and looking for salvation. Given the song’s title- and the images it provokes- perhaps an event has unfolded; something violent and dangerous. The song goes on to introduce a central figure- someone who is on their way (they say). With an impressive amount of calm in the voice- not too rushed and emotional- that mystery and intrigue builds. Every new revelation pushes the interpretation to the former assumption. If it is a former love or a friend: there is this person that is battling some hard times.
Whatever is thrown their way: they can “take it on the chin” and overcome anything. Our hero will be there for them- and able to meet them halfway- and is offering a semblance of support and comfort. Looking at the hero/heroine- knowing they will always be there- you wonder what has compelled the story and song. Our man does not want to take them for granted: you feel like there is mutual respect and sense of support. Maybe I am misinterpreting but we are looking at something other than love: more geared towards a friendship and important bond. FloodHounds have managed to keep their central sound form but bring in new elements. Previous numbers have leaned heavily on ‘90s Rock bands. On A&E, you get touches from ‘60s and ‘70s groups: a little bit of Hard-Rock with some Power-Pop. Toss in some modern-day examples- the likes of Royal Blood- and there is that blend of raw 2016 and vintage melody- a little classic riffage into the mix. The band sounds at their most compelling and unique, here. Less reliant on idols and tribute: their current offering is their most original to date. Innocence and emotion emerge when our hero and heroine (it is a girl being ascribed) sit by the sea. You picture them say side-by-side as she asks: “Is there a better place to be?”. Maybe both have faced tribulations and challenging times: they have gotten away from the hurly-burly and somewhere more tranquil and peaceful. With so much fraught existence plaguing them: you feel like this nirvana is a red herring. When the waves crash- rising high above them- the heroine will let them wash over her. Whether this is a cleansing ritual- she can take the wave; is indestructible- or something submissive- you are caught between romance and heartache.
Each emerging line sparks contradictions and fascination. The story progresses beautifully and there is a definite sense of movement and change. If the “cold is closing in”: our heroine can take it all in her stride. It feels a relief to know that: here is someone not looking at the end; she is a strong character that is going through something rough. Our hero is there to lend support and always by her side. That bond and link at the song’s heart appeal in many ways. The vocal has a cool calm to it. Jack Flynn is a singer that has a lot of respect for the gods past but never replicates them. Coming into his own as a singer: it is here we get his most impressive performance ever. Changing pace and direction: the words are given full consideration; he is a master when it comes to giving emotion and power to the lyrics. Letting his guitar cut and swing with abandon: when teamed with his band-mates you are helpless to resist the power of the composition. There is such an anthemic sound to A&E. The percussion is constantly forceful and impressive; the bass guides the song and is imbued with rhythm, power and melody. When all three come together, you get a tight and impactful sound: the band has such an intuition and affection; that explodes into life, here. Towards the final stages; Flynn gets the chance to do some solo-ing. Not just a chance to show his chops: it acts as the next step in the story. Adding new dimension and flesh to the song- without a word being sung- you get pictures of waves crashing and storms lashing. An exhilarating and racing solo: it lifts A&E to new heights and keeps the fascination-o-meter right up to 11. Riding that cool-as-Hell riff- with some solid bass and percussion support- you start to nod the head again and get caught in the momentum. Right from the off; the trio ensures your attention is grabbed and you are hooked. Never letting the energy and pace drop: you are invested and alert right until the final note. A&E is a song that could easily have arrived during the classic days of ‘Britpop’. It has that quality and tone to it: a track that looks to positivity and redemption. Unlike a lot of modern acts: FloodHounds have crafted something rather singular and beyond compare.
Rhys Owen and Lauren Greaves ensure A&E gets plenty of pummel and power. Jack Flynn gives a typically understated- but immensely focused- vocal that gives the song such a nuance and weight. Lesser singers would throw too much into the song: emote too much or fill their voice with needless scream and histrionics. Not only do you get control and layers to the vocal: Flynn keeps his accent firm and unchanged. The likes of Alex Turner- another Sheffield lad- made Arctic Monkeys songs synonymous with genuine vocals and homegrown pronunciation. Maybe Turner’s current work is more Americanised and changed: I always love hearing singers that do not kowtow to U.S. audiences. With that Yorkshire accent riding over the mix: it gives A&E gravitas, genuine spirit and rare distinction. As a guitar player: Flynn is able to shred with the best of them. When stepping into the light- his solo towards the end- you get embers of Hendrix and Eddie Hazel (Funkadelic). Rhys Owen is one of the most naturally assured bass players in new music. He manages to tie all the instrumentation and sounds together: acting as the song’s bouncer: keeping the song disciplined and not letting any stray elements get into the fold.
That said; he shows plenty of passion and rhythm, too. His bass lines go from fluid and sexy to firm and edgy; without losing a step along the way. Owen bonds beautifully with his bandmates and drives their performances forward. Lauren Greaves is one of the most inventive and powerful drummers- a natural rival and equal to her male counterparts. Acts like Rews (a London-Belfast duo) have a stunning drummer at their core- the wonderful, Collette Williams. Greaves ensures A&E is a powerhouse smash from its beginning to end. Seemingly multi-limped and octopus-like: her performance remains stunning and avalanche-like throughout. She is not just a one-trick cat that slams with animal abandon. Capable of intricate fills and under-the-radar calm; catchy bounce and infantile energy- a rounded, multi-layered performance that gives the song immense personality and depth. Congratulations to a trio that have unveiled their strongest work (in my humble view) so far. There will be many eyes and ears hungry for an E.P. The guys are taking their time and ensuring they are not rushed- too many bands are hasty and do not consider quality, production and track-listing. A&E is a mouth-watering offering that has already resonated with hundreds- a stunning song from one of Britain’s most essential bands.
FloodHounds have played all around the country the last few months. Not only stopping off at B.B.C. Introducing: they have rocked Manchester and Huddersfield. The trio comes down to London in a couple of weeks- Spice of Life in Soho- and are going to be very busy indeed. Not only will new audiences have a chance to discover sparkling-new material: it gives the band a chance to strength and hone their craft. I guess they don’t really need to: they have been playing for a long time and seem flawless. That said; with each month, they seem to become more electric and assured: touring is clearly galvanising their music and giving them impetus and inspiration. Sheffield is a city that gets overlooked with regards new musicians emerging. Perhaps London will always be at the forefront of media attention: that is not to say we should ignore a growing, developing area. In the past; Sheffield was renowned for its steel production and industrial prowess. Over the decades; it has emerged into one of the most stunning areas of the U.K. Vast redevelopment has seen Sheffield become one of the cultural hubs of Britain. In 1999, the National Centre for Popular Music was opened. Leadmill, the Boardwalk and New Barrack Tavern are hosting the city’s musicians: giving them a platform and chance to thrill the local crowds. With Yorkshire creating a music revolution- THE place for great new music- Sheffield is leading the vanguard. The Long Blondes, Arctic Monkeys and Pulp call Sheffield home: Slow Club and Richard Hawley can be added to that list. So many musicians are relocating and moving to larger cities.
I see so many bands head to London or L.A.; bereft at the lack of chances and platforms. From south coast-born bands to suburb-dwelling solo artists: there is that lure and bright lights-lust of the big cities. I hope FloodHounds do not uproot and stay put in Sheffield. It seems like the Yorkshire gem is growing and providing plenty of exposure for its native musicians. Whatever they have in mind; you cannot deny how direct and stunning their new song is. You might be hard-pressed to name too many legendary three-piece acts: the mind might struggle to name that many current-day ones. I am always keen to break-away from the tried-and-tested four-piece: embrace something fresh and new. Band music will always be the most popular and yearned-for in music. With this demand, comes a lot of risks. Young acts are jumping into the scene with optimism: eager to show their material and stake their claim at the biggest festivals. I feel too many artists rush in and do not put proper thought into their music. What we are finding is a lot of bands that are rather so-so: few that stick in the mind; many melts away and struggle to meet public expectations. FloodHounds are savvy enough to realise the pitfalls that are in front of them. They adapt and keep their music nimble: having that core sound but ensuring their songs are not repetitive and recycled.
With every new venture, you get something genuinely exceptional and unexpected. A&E is a guitar-heavy smash that has already garnered a lot of praise and respect. I know an E.P. is mooted- not sure when at present- and that will be exciting indeed. Whatever form that takes- with regards number of tracks and sounds- it will be an opportunity for the Sheffield trio to get some critical attention. They are one of these bands you know will ‘make it’ one day: ascend through the ranks and become one of this country’s best artists. It is great to see the stunning trio come through with new material. I have seen (the trio) progress and evolve as the years have passed. Their earliest songs were assured and confident: they have become stronger and more solid with each new song. I just know 2017 will be their year. This year, they are going to be unveiling the E.P. and touring: getting more acclaim and building their fan-base. Next year, that will be when they can expand and progress. I can see the big festivals calling and the spotlight shone their way. A&E is a bold and brassy deceleration from a fearless, impossible-not-to-love band. The social media numbers are climbing and the fan numbers are rising exponentially: one of the most consistent and loveable groups we have right now. Take a chance to discover a hot trio that is going to be a fixture for years to come. A&E might have that emergency urgency to it. Trust me on this one: their success and continued popularity is…
CERTAINLY no accident.