Give Me More
Give Me More is available at:
Indie; Electronica; Experimental; Psychedelia; Synth.-Pop
STAGGERED if I can recall the last time I examined a band…
from the good ol’ U.S.-of-A. Not only do I get to look at an awesome new act- who I shall come to soon- but take my thoughts to one of my favourite music avenues: Brooklyn. Here is a region of the world many of us (in the U.K.) would not usually consider. Perhaps your mind does not instantly spring there: we always think about New York as a whole; rather than divide it into boroughs. In previous posts- criticizing our lack of adventurousness and short-sightedness when it comes to music- I have extolled the virtues of Brooklyn. If you think about the likes of Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors; LCD Soundsystem and Sleigh Bells: each of us would have had some exposure to these bands. Whether through various degrees of separation: most of us are aware of Brooklyn’s output and potential. What I love about the music here is its unpredictability and freshness. The bands I have reviewed from Brooklyn- Falling Birds among them- impressed me with their hard-hitting songs and tight performances: the originality of their songs and stunning energy. There are a lot of great Brooklyn Rock bands but much more than meets the eye. Whilst mainstream artists like Sufjan Stevens put Brooklyn on the map: Stranger Cat, Black Marble and Norwegian Arms are making big impressions.
Many of us would consider Brooklyn to be all about danger, violence and something rather unsettling. Unless you have been to a city- or borough in this case- you cannot judge it. People do that with London: assume every area is the same; all the people are rude and obnoxious; turn their noses up without knowing what they are talking about. A certain ignorance is levied towards Brooklyn: many have not even been there; how can we possibly know what it is like? I happen to know- from those who live there- how inspiring and cosmopolitan it is. Sure: there are some rough spots; just like everywhere else in the world. If you walk the streets and hit the cafes; absorb the cultures and feel the place run through your veins- it is hardly surprising Brooklyn has such a solid and stealthy reputation. Aside from the Indie and Alternative bands: there is a wave of stunning Electronic-inspired artists that are putting texture, colour and darkness into music. If you want sounds that have drama and emotion; mix genres and experiment: you will find much to enjoy within the motifs of SKYES. At the moment, the trio is still building their social media numbers. They have a loyal following around New York and are starting to get their music noticed in Britain. Here is a group that is going to be gaining a lot more attention very soon. The way they mix genres and experiments: their inimitable blend of Indie-Synth, Pop and Psychedelia go into songs that gets into your mind- filled with brooding emotion and gorgeous scenes; the vanguard of New York’s Electronica charge. Little is known about SKYES beyond their music. Their social media pages have plenty of photos and links: they provide scant details about the individual members; who compels their music. In a way, this is good, as too much exposure and revelation might dampen their music. What you are left with is the music alone: bare-naked and raw; it tells the stories and paints plenty of pictures. Quarks is their new E.P. and will be released on Friday. I urge you to go get it as it contains wall-to-wall quality. I am a recent follower of the three-piece but find myself irrevocably hooked. There are few bands that have the same quality and style: go deep into your bones and elicit something rather wonderful. Too much of today’s music is defined by laziness and chart-seeking submission. Artists see what is being touted by the press: they feel the best way to succeed is to rip that off. I can understand the appeal of getting under the critical microscope. If it comes at the expense of difference and distinction, then what is the point? The most successful and impressive artists are those that do things their own way: trust their instincts and go much deeper.
I am surprised SKYES have not amassed more followers and attention. They are being heralded in their native U.S.: Few of us in the U.K. are that familiar with them; let’s hope that changes in time. With Quarks imminent: it seems like the Brooklyn trio is on a meteoric rise. Give Me More has been reviewed with fevered admiration and astonishing passion. From London-based magazines to the big players of journalism: everyone is keen to pay tribute to one of the most exciting and stunning acts in the world. I have very little time for the so-called ‘Best of the Year’ lists we see published. Those acts- apparently, the best we have- always seem to be aimed at the radio-friendly sectors: that corner of music reserved for people who want something safe and palatable. I am not an iconoclast but am someone who wants more from music: not just something that seems pleasant on the surface but promises little return. SKYES are one of those acts you just know will grow bigger and bigger. They have a busy next few weeks ahead: it will be good to see the guys get the acclaim they deserve; make their way to the attention of new fans; get their latest single reviewed. What the Brooklyn threesome provide is some of the most cerebral and emotive songs around. Quasi-philosophical revelations and stand-in-the-brain-for-eternity imagery are matched by intense and involving compositions. This is not just the diary entries and confessions of a Brooklyn band: this is music that will speak and resonate with everyone.
Give Me More is Quarks’ lead-off single and a fine representation of what they are about. Their 2016 output keeps defined sound solid: if anything, there is more quality and surprise in their new E.P. (as opposed to their debut). The group’s debut E.P. saw them burst onto the scene with a huge confidence. The eponymous record was a four-track collection that mixed Pop and Indie; Electronic flavours with experimental synthesiser music. Tracks like Burden and A Girl Named Jake were applauded by fans and highlighted as standouts. If anything, there is a leaning towards Pop (in these songs). The newer work- throughout Quarks– is less reliant on Pop/Indie avenues and goes in harder and faster. SKYES had plenty of raw emotion and experimentation: Quarks takes that to new plains and sees the guys produce their most assured and astonishing work. Tracks Dry and Lullaby see the vocals augmented and more in focus- this is the most compelling vocal work Knightly has performed. The boys ensure the beats are harder and sharper; the electronics more colourful and playful. Keeping some Pop semblance- fans of the previous E.P. will be pleased- there is more candour and pizazz; embers of ‘80s Synth.-Pop and solid lyrics throughout. SKYES did not need to improve or change their music too much. Their debut E.P. was packed with memorable tunes and distinct individuality. What they have done here is simply build on that and keep the momentum going. The songwriting has sharpened and the group seems at their more confident and bold. Touring and critical approval have provided the kick to keep going and push themselves. Quarks is going to get a rapturous reception and provide the Brooklyn band with new opportunities and exposure. I can see the E.P. being featured on stations over here. We do not have many artists that play the same sort of music: it will be great to hear the guys come over here and perform the tracks live.
Realising Give Me More has collected its fair share of impassioned reviews: it was quite a daunting task being faced with the song. What could I say that stood apart? Would the song disappoint perhaps? The first question is answers like this: you just need to hear the track and the words flow; getting my feelings and thoughts onto the page is the most vital thing. In regards to the second quandary: you kidding me?! The Brooklyn three-piece seems incapable of dropping anything less than red-hot music. Things begin with the sound of a percussive heartbeat: something very tangible and direct. In the first seconds, you think about the human heart and emotions swirling around the body. Thinking of the song’s title- that need for something more- and you picture our heroine standing alone; looking out to the world with fear and uncertainty. That tense heartbeat is counterbalanced by a romantic and lush piano line that sweeps in with grace and beauty. The two mingle in a rhapsody of passion and energy: you are hooked-in and already seduced by the stately keys and 120 B.P.M. heartbeat. A very human and earthly beginning: SKYES show amazing control, discipline and restraint early on. That swelling heartbeat becomes more defined and exposed: growing louder and harder; there is a palpable tension that encroaches upon the piano; a strain of emotion that threatens to lead to an explosion. Among absent breaths and heartbeats: in the city streets our heroine is looking for answers and undergoing a transformative and unpredictable time.
Unable to hide- and searching for something she cannot have- there is a mixture of beauty and suffocation to be found. The vocal is one of the most spine-tingling the group have come up with. Combing their voices together creates something harmonious and empathic. It is like a lovers’ call: the duo trying to find clarity and yearn for something intangible and distant. I am not sure whether love influenced the song- perhaps a relationship that was particularly relevant. Interpretations will be split between romance- the need to rekindle something extinguished; get more from the sweetheart- and a general malaise and directionlessness. As you conspire and interpret: SKYES ensure your mind and body are being fed and enraptured. As the chorus comes into view- a bracing and rushing announcement of the title- a carnivorous guitar line cuts through the mood. Like an animal pouncing in the night: it comes from nowhere and is a direct hit to the senses. Whilst the piano and percussion acted like metronome and soulfulness: the guitar is a blood-rush and anxiety attack- the most vitriolic and real utterance. Fear comes into play and you cannot help but lean forward- get inside the speaker and give the heroine a supportive hug. A perfect world in-hand- “It was just as we planned”- there is something conspiratorial and oblique in those worlds. Maybe two lovers had high hopes for the future: they saw the years ahead and assumed happiness would reign. Unfortunately, they have reached an impasse: unable to move from intractable realisation. There is almost a drug-like craze in our heroine’s voice. SKYES do not deploy their words with anything other than the utmost care and diligence. The phrasing is expertly judged: words are delivered calmly; ensuring the listener has the chance to absorb every last syllable. There is never any ululation and histrionics: the vocals are controlled and disciplined; allowing emotion to rise to the surface.
When it comes to the composition: it is such a wonderfully rich and multi-layered thing. That heartbeat remains constant and undiminished; piano continues to thud and strike (slightly muted) in the background- electronics swirl and dark anthemics. We might never know EXACTLY what the lyrics refer to. As Knightly explained- in an interview with The Line of Best Fit– the song’s heroine (her perhaps) could not hide. Whether running from love’s woes or a rut: there is that need to find something better and pure. With every ticking second, hopes of salvation seem a little hopeless. Give Me More’s chorus is as emphatic and determined as you will hear. The heroine lets her voice strike with impunity and desire: that hunger to obtain something missing from her life. As the chorus is repeated and reinforced: the band distort the vocals (creating a demonic and hostage-taker-muffling-their-voice-on-the-phone sound) and take the song up another notch. With every passing phase; the band introduce something new and build the song up- never keeping it still, static and predictable. One-third of your brain is enamaoured by the gorgeous and beautiful vocals; another by the haunted and desperate lyrics; the final by the striking and stirring composition. The final moments of Give Me More see accelerate beats and electronics keep the urgency and blood-rush going. The heroine seems at her most nervy and angst-ridden towards the end: still looking for something; not giving up hope. That is the thing about Give Me More: there is desperation but a light at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s hope Knightly found what she was looking for: I am in no two minds the song reflects a part of her; such is the conviction of the performance. The entire trio is compelling, united and tight throughout. The instrumentation is extraordinary and filled with so much detail and story: you could isolate it and still come away with the same hit and reaction. Throw in a sublime and immersive vocal and you have the finest song the Brooklyn group has created. A wonderful, rich and professional production means every contour and aspect is not only mixed perfectly together- they shine and burnish without distortion, obstacle or distillation. Being particularity affected by the song- someone who digs a hole looking for a way out- Give Me More left its mark and caused me to think hard. I am one of those people who always pines for something more fulfilling and better: trying to escape a certain depression and confinement. Many others will get the same shivers from Give Me More: ubiquity and universality can be found in a song that seems very personal and revelatory.
On Friday: Quarks is released and will expand upon the promise of Give Me More. The song’s title is an ironic thing: many people will want more after hearing it; keen to get more from the Brooklyn trio. Dallin Knightly is one of most arresting singers I have witnessed in a long while. Her lyrics are self-confessional and soul-baring. Whilst there may be some distancing- the song’s subject might be a composite of people- there is definitely some first-hand experience and fears in there. The heroine is hiding and digging a hole: trying to find treasure and light at the bottom of (a black) pit. Inside the haunting anxieties and uncertainty shines a very penetrating hopefulness. SKYES are not a group that wants to bum-out the listener and wallow in a depressive crapulence. They are fighting and yearning for a better future: always hoping to make their way to better things; cast-off the oppression of doubt and emptiness. Whether Knightly finds what she is looking for- an honest love, success or happiness- you are always rooting for her. Most singers- when making similar music- seem reluctant to lay their hearts on the line: they hide behind metaphors and similes; clichés and stereotypes mix in a rather stodgy mix. SKYES suffer no such eventuality: their lyrics are among the finest and sharpest you will hear this year. Many reviewers have said how their hairs stand on end- when hearing Give Me More– and that is no over-exaggeration. SKYES tackle Milkboy in Philadelphia (on May 14th); Pianos N.Y.C. on June 9th– they will travel to Bonner Springs at the end of July. It is safe to say there are plenty of venues waiting for them here in the U.K. London would keep them busy for months alone. Having just seen The Vim Dicta (of L.A.) come to Britain: I know for what I speak of. Those guys- another fantastic trio- assumed they’d be here for a few days- barely worth getting your toothbrush out of the suitcase. What they have found is an inexhaustible lust for their music: an unslakeable thirst that they seem incapable of quenching. People have been turned onto their unique brand of music (they call ‘Psychogroove’) and wonderful stage presence.
SKYES could find themselves in a similar predicament. Not only will we adore them here in the U.K.: it seems like the three-piece could find popularity around Europe; across Australia and Asia. I am sure financial realities are going to limit the horizons. They need to build a local fanbase up- although they have done this already- and will want to focus on America. Among the 50 states at their disposal: they still have quite a few to tick off the list. There are a lot of enterprising acts that play Electronic-cum-Psychedelic music: none that does things the same way as SKYES. The guys blend science and emotion together. In interviews- when asked what defined their sound- they explained how they wanted to evoke the sound of a quark- is that was even humanly possible. Odd drum machines and synthesisers were thrown together in an orgy of experimentation and alchemy. Trying to get that epiphany laid down on tape: the trio spent a lot of time ensuring what you hear was the finest they could create. This integrity and work ethic blends with lyrics that compel you to look inside yourself and question your own happiness. I do not mean it in a suppressive way: Give Me More is a stark and haunted sermon from a young woman that is unsure of herself; desperately trying to find something (she might never discover). When you have music that offers that much; that digs so deep and true- how can you refute its beauty? It has been a pleasure being back in Brooklyn: connecting with a brand-new trio- to my ears- that have a golden future ahead. Quarks will be their second E.P. and their most authoritative work so far. The three-piece is at their most astonishing and nuanced, now: they have built from their earliest work and added an extra spark, imagination, and direction. The group ensures their lyrics have a certain simplicity: are not too artful; can be understood by every listener. I am not sure whether the trio is going to be considering a full-length record in years to come. They seem like humans that just live for music: could not imagine any other lifestyle. I am excited to see where SKYES can go: they are only just beginning their attack. Make sure you check-out Give Me More: snap Quarks up on Friday; follow the Brooklyn trio with much interest. It has been a pleasure getting out of England- in musical terms, anyway- and going back to the U.S. Every time I review an artist (from America) it provides me with something life-affirming and wonderful. When I can afford to get to Brooklyn- might take a while- I shall be spending the time discovering as many local acts as I can. If you are unfamiliar with Brooklyn- or just wrinkle your face up at the mere mention- then there is more to the borough than Brooklyn Nine-Nine (although it is a freaking-awesome sit-com). SKYES are not the limit: they are the forerunners of a wonderful, diverse music scene. Get your minds out of the mainstream; away from the stolid radio output- to a group that will change your thoughts about music. Give Me More is a song you…
WILL struggle to forget.