PHOTO CREDIT: Aimee Catt
Look What You’ve Started
16th September, 2016
Blues-Rock; Alternative; Rock ‘n’ Roll
The E.P. Look What You’ve Started is available at:
A&E – 9.5
State of Mind – 9.4
The Fear – 9.5
Soulmates to Cellmates – 9.5
End of the Road – 9.4
Greatest Mistake – 9.4
A&E; The Fear; Soulmates to Cellmates
Soulmates to Cellmates
THERE is a lot to recommend about my featured band…
who are looking to the future – having been playing for many years; there is no sign they are ready to call time. Before I come to them, it is worth looking at bands from Sheffield (and Yorkshire; they hail from here) and the Indie-Rock genre; looking at groups who manage to survive and succeed when changing their membership. At the start of last month, it was Yorkshire Day: a chance to celebrate everything about the county. Whether you consider it God’s County or a part of the world rather gentle and scenic: you cannot deny how many great bands have come out of Yorkshire. I have mooted this point before (many times) but we have misconceptions about Yorkshire. Often looking at the likes of Alan Bennett as the archetypal symbol of the county: images of cardigans, soothing narratives and a nice cup of tea always come to the fore. You can apply the same stereotypes to any county and would be overlooking the reality. Yorkshire is a huge county with many distinct areas and people: those who live in Leeds are distinct from those in Harrogate; Sheffield is separate from York. The same distinctions should be made with regards music – such a varied and busy area for wonderful talent. If you put a cursory search through Google – ‘the best Yorkshire bands of 2016 – the results would be a little scarse and limited – why are there not polls and articles dedicated to this type of things? Apply the same question and replace ‘Yorkshire’ with ‘London’ or ‘Los Angeles’ and you’d have ample reading material – so why does Yorkshire get overlooked?
It is an interesting question that has never been adequately answered. The big cities – in terms of legacy and media glare – get the kudos and attention whilst Yorkshire has to bubble beneath the surface. ‘Older’ bands Sister of Mercy, Soft Cell and Embrace come from Yorkshire: The Long Blondes, Pulp and Cribs represent different parts of Yorkshire – Sheffield (Pulp and The Long Blondes) and Wakefield. Arctic Monkeys are perhaps the most synonymous and famous Yorkshire band at the moment but there are plenty of terrific unsigned and away-from-the-mainstream artists that deserve credit. There will be local journalists (in Yorkshire) that are going to gigs and discovering fantastic bands. I feel there needs to be more exposure and blogs dedicated to the best and brightest artists in Yorkshire. I have been trying to find comprehensive lists that point me in the direction of some wonderful Yorkshire musicians – you have to go by instinct and haphazard fortune. Billie Marten is a 17-year-old prodigy whose voice capture the heart and is one of the most beautiful you will hear – showing Yorkshire is more than bands, Rock and a certain image. It is impossible to unearth every great Yorkshire musician but cracking the surface is needed – ensuring we do not miss out on some terrific music.
FloodHounds are a band I have reviewed before and find their music to be among the most interesting and energetic. Before I raise some new points, looking at the band’s previous work, I will introduce them to you:
Jack Flynn – Guitar/Vocals
Rhys Owen – Bass/Vocals
Lauren Greaves – Drums
“FloodHounds are a fast-paced 3-piece British indie-rock band from Sheffield – Layered in Blues.
FloodHounds’ “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.
They join an exciting Tramlines Saturday 2015 line up, headed by Fat White Family.
BARE BONES, the title track of the band’s second EP currently streaming on Soundcloud; has attracted Radio play from BBC INTRODUCING Sheffield, Sheffield Live and a host of other local/online radio shows around Europe and America.
A video of the band recording of “Bare Bones” at Sheffield’s iconic 2FlyStudios is atyoutu.be/24xT906F1kU.
Following storming local gigs at the Rocking Chair and Plug Sheffield (supporting October Drift) and strong positive reviews in the local music press, FloodHounds are now playing further afield. Some 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, songwriter of the band – and bass player Rhys Owens, were joined by drummer Lauren Greaves”.
There is an honesty and reality to the band that is missing from a lot of their contemporaries. So many bands are about image and ego; trying to be as exposed as possible in an attempt to side-step the issue their music is not that strong or original. There are enough artists that do not distinguish themselves enough and are all talk and no action. FloodHounds get on with music and are as raw and open as you’d imagine. They are three normal (are extremely talented) musicians that do not need to create waves of hyperbole and self-hype to get people talking. Few bands are capable of surprising and existing after several years – the demands and hardships of the industry scare many off – and have evolved since their formation. Lauren Greaves (drums) joined the band in late-2014 and has added new relevance and inspiration to FloodHounds.
Groups that bring in new members or shift their members often face losing solidity, consistency and quality. I have seen many artists slim-down or replace members and their music has suffered as a result. It can be challenging and risky introducing new musicians and changing dynamics, but in the case of FloodHounds, it has enhanced and benefited their music. Since late-2014, FloodHounds have been building their fan-base and ensuring they keep putting out great material. Critics and radio stations have highlighted their Indie-Rock, guitar-heavy sounds that are a nice blend of familiar and fresh. They are inspired by everyone from The White Stripes and The Rolling Stones: unifying Blues and Rock from ‘90s U.S. and ‘60s U.K. By mixing America and Britain; splicing genres and styles together: their music has that depth, variation and quality. Even though they have hints of others, you get plenty of unique perspective and originality from the Sheffield band. It seems like there is a little bit of a gap left since the ‘brief hiatus’ of Royal Blood. I know I have used the Brighton two-piece as an example before – they are recording new material but been off the scene a little while now.
PHOTO CREDIT: BACKSTAGE:UK
It is always risky coming in strong and creating a solid and impressive debut album: leaving too big a gap after that risk the energy and fascination waning; many will go looking for other bands. Little snippets the duo have released (since their debut) suggest their sophomore L.P. is going to be titan, mighty and meaty. In the meantime – assuming they put something out in the next year – I have been looking for bands to fill that void. FloodHounds have a little bit of Royal Blood to them but are more varied and everyman in a sense – Royal Blood a little grittier, harder and straight-out-Rock. As I listen to the radio of a day – 6 Music is my drug of choice – you hear a few promising bands but not many that are straight-ahead Rock. Too many synths. and introspection; gloominess and a lack of directness. It is frustrating hearing artists like this – you need some but it seems like radio playlists are packed full of them. One yearns for something driving, spikier, and let’s face it, more interesting. Royal Blood are just one example of what we need more of in music: musicians that know how to bring something biting and body-moving to music but keep it personal, disciplined and universal. FloodHounds are masterful when it comes to crafting loveable anthems and music that gets straight into the head – free from tinsel and distractions of many of today’s artists. A good old-fashioned band who know how to rock and keep it simple but compelling. Look What You’ve Started follows from their previous work and adds new themes and urgency. It seems, like all great and eager bands, they are at their peak and suggest even better are just around the corner. The E.P. is picking up plenty of appreciation and love. The six-track E.P. is impressive with its emotional balance and standout cuts – the video to Soulmates to Cellmates is gathering particularly strong acclaim.
The trio has released two E.P.s previously and is a band who always capture the spirit and energy of live performances in their collections. Cuts like Motivation and The Fall from their eponymous debut rattled with urgency and a wonderful band performance. Always tough, spirited and electric: a wonderful duo of songs that defined the E.P. and brimmed over with life and evocativeness. Moving Pictures had that swagger and confident vocal. The hero was wearing out his mind (“Trying to keep up with you”) and it had that spirit and defiance of the Britpop era. Acts like Oasis came to mind and one was transported right back to the heydey of their rivalry with Blur – maybe shades of Arctic Monkeys creeping in. Bare Bones (E.P.) followed a couple of years after their debut and contained more variation and threads. It is hard to pin down but you can sense a little more confidence and assuredness in the music. The compositions are more nuanced and the production a little more polished – really bringing the best from the music. In both E.P.s, the gang display clear influences yet very much have their own voice and sound. The three-track E.P.s were tight and memorable and every song compelled you to come back and reinvestigate. If you look at Look What You’ve Started and it is a six-track E.P. that displays yet more confidence from the band. Having toured a lot and picked up new skill (and inspiration) on the road: FloodHounds bring all this into the new work and expand their sound once more. You get little tastes of Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and The White Stripes but they are less obvious and the band is embracing their own voices more. Keeping the Blues-Rock template strong and carrying on from where their previous E.P.s left off – their most solid, variegated and complete work to date. You immerse yourself in the music and notice a distinct skin and personality in each song. Unlike Bare Bones and FloodHounds, one senses more distinction between the tracks and the trio seem a lot closer and more adventurous with the compositions and lyrics. Perhaps the confidence and faith in the ranks are high but FloodHounds are at their peak right now and seem unstoppable.
A&E begins with twang and a definite defiance. Cool-edged and rebellious; it hoves into view. All the people “look so small” when you are down and out says our hero. Perhaps directing to a friend or someone in need of comfort – the song seems to deal with someone who is struggling with some hard times. The hero offers that comfort and support if needed and you wonder what is behind the song and its lyrics. The guitars chug and race whilst bass and percussion keep everything tight and authoritative. Always bonded and together in every song they release: here, there is even more solidity and FloodHounds are at the top of their game. Despite the excellent production values, there is still a sense of loose and raw live-sounding elements creeping in which means it will appeal to a wider sector. Many bands over-produce and polish their music which takes its edge off and sounds rather fake. FloodHounds attempt to reproduce their live sound and that energy. Throughout the song, the lyrics are clear and you start to piece the storyline as it unfolds. I got the impression of a colleague or friend that was going through some tough times and that suits the song’s title. Maybe things are at a low but it seems like there is a way out. When Flynn sings about there being a better place to be – a question that is posed by the subject – you feel it is a cry for help and a way out of a bad town/situation. Throughout the song, you are hooked and scintillated by the unfolding drama and the combined strength of the band. It is an excellent and fiery opener that does not come in too hard but shows what a unit FloodHounds are.
State of Mind begins calmer and boasts woozy Blues strings before ramping things up and coming out of the block. The hero sees his friends working 9-5 and cashing cheques; maybe caught in a mundane and predictable way of life. He poses questions like “Why do we try?” and seems to be aghast at the sameness and routine nature of life. Perhaps balking against anything that boring and workaday: one hears the dissatisfaction and annoyance in the vocal; bereft and fatigued by what is unfolding. Wondering if you’re “going to make it in this world alive” it is a cautionary tale and warning to the generations. You speculate whether the lead has seen too many of his friends go through the motions and not learnt from those lessons. State of Mind is a song for everyone and people that might be stuck in a rut and unwilling to get themselves out of a hole. Few can deny the emotion and conviction that goes into the song and the way the band support the hero. The composition remains funky and kicking but able to kick and spit when needs be. The malaise and miasma is a state of mind and a funk that can be remedied. Our hero knows things can change and you can escape the pressure. One of the more inspirational and defiant songs the band have created: it is surely going to be a live favourite and get the crowds singing along. Maybe there are elements of debut-album Oasis but the influences are less obvious than the band’s debut E.P. What we find (compared to albums like Definitely Maybe) is the sense that things will be okay and we will get through things. Completing a rousing and glistening 1-2: a perfect way to get Look What You’ve Started into the mind.
The Fear arrives and does so with a bit of menace and attack. The bass hops and skips whilst the guitar is definitely laden with trunks of funk. Sassy and hip-shaking; the song instantly gets inside the head and distinguishes itself from anything FloodHounds have done. Images of stepping out of the light and staying in sight lead you to believe some rather tense and anxious experiences are being assessed. Whether turning the lens on himself or addressing a friend: there is that motivation to escape fear and run away from something that is torturous and weighing. “I don’t want to watch it bury you” defines this sense of urgency and the fact someone might be in peril. It is hard not to be intoxicated by the constantly swing and addictiveness of the composition that will get crowds jumping and dancing along. The Fear balances serious and heartfelt messages with a fun and frivolous composition that makes it one of the E.P.’s standout numbers. It is another song that will resonate well live and is hard to compare it with any other band. You maybe hear a little essence of other acts but FloodHounds are starting to emerge as their own group and separate themselves from their influences. More confident and assured with their music and talent: terrific to hear them embrace their own voices fully. Like A&E; one wonders if a sweetheart is being assessed. Maybe a girl has a point of view that threatens to swallow her and the hero is reluctant to watch it all go down. You do not want to see it happen and you speculate what the origins of the song are. Maybe it is just self-destruction or someone with an ego; a person who is blind to their faults and not listening to advice.
Soulmates to Cellmates intrigues with the title alone and that is before experiencing the stunning introduction. It is another typically catchy and funky parable that shows the band getting out of the pure Rock ‘n’ Roll and adding more Soul and Funk into their music. Able to stay strong and gritty but imbued with sway and merriment; it ensures the song begins hot and captures the imagination. Stepping to the microphone and asking “What have we become?” the hero is unable to relate (to the subject’s) smoke and mirror games. It might be a relationship that is breaking down and cracks starting to form. The song’s title leads you to believe the duo is caught in a small space but instead of being lovers they are prisoners that are trying not to kill one another. You sense that claustrophobia and sense the walls are coming in. It appears the girl is at fault and is lying and deceiving the hero. Keeping her feelings guarded and not willing to be straight – the end of the road for the pair it seems. The girl is trying to remonstrate and beg for some sort of forgiveness. Asking for another chance and time so she can explain things: our man is not letting her off the hook that easy. Time heals everything, it has been said before, but not when the heroine is around. The track has just had a video made and it perfectly explains and illustrates the tensions, emotions and imbalance in the relationship – typically humour from the band being shown throughout. Calming things down and casting himself in the guise of his other half, there is that desire for things to return to normal and wait for understanding to come in. It is not clear what has caused this split but the girl seems to be reluctant to walk away – perhaps to the dismay of the hero. Soulmates to Cellmates is a song you will come back to as it has that charm and shows the band at their very finest.
End of the Road starts with plenty of grumble, gravel and verve. It is yet another song that starts with force and catchiness and spares no time in laying the table and showing manners – right into the action and getting down to things right away. The band have really stepped it up when crafting their music and ensuring every note gets into the head and evokes reaction. Look What You’ve Started is altogether tighter and more muscular than their earlier work. End of the Road find the hero clinging to the breeze and in the midst of a storm. Maybe it is another relationship drama and tension but one that is not bogged down with lyrical cliché or snarling strings. FloodHounds ensure even the heaviest emotions have a little bit of lightness and accessibility as not to put the listener off. The dust and smoke and settling and our lead is keeping his eyes closed. “There is no easy way out” and it seems like whatever is ascribed – a girl that is baying for blood – will take no more from her man. Metaphors are laid out and vivid images presented: the hero is being left by the side of the road and fed up with being exploited and taken for a fool. Not as predictable and obvious as you’d imagine: FloodHounds address a common subject without loading it with bland lyrics and hyperbole. It is a great balance of regret and defiance as the hero tries to make sense of everything. Once again – and common words for this review – you do get hooked by the music and the trio come together splendidly. Taut and leading basslines propel the tight and smacking percussion that, in turn, aids the funk-ridden and sexy guitar. By the song’s end, the hero has expended a lot of emotion and one feels the relationship is doomed and beyond repair.
Completing the E.P. is Greatest Mistake, and one feels, another song that trades in some rather harsh and regretful emotions. Unlike its E.P. counterparts; here we get a more restrained and contemplative introduction that brings some genuine heart and sensitivity into the mix. A lot of bands structure E.P.s this way and end things with an emotional and touching number. In the first few seconds, it is a song that has elements of ‘60s Blues and a rather sensual start. The strings are cool and slight; they evoke all kinds of images and possibilities. Another departure from the band’s previous work it effortlessly fuses Blues, Jazz and Soul in a teasing and shivering coda. The lead does not know if he should reach out further – the girl has her will and he has his – and you feel love is under the microscope again. Feeling blue at times and only relying on his own thoughts and truths: maybe it is the continuation and reflection on a love story that has had quite a bitter end.
One feels the entire E.P. could be seen as a concept and each song represents a different stage in the relationship. From the supportive and hopeful arms of A&E via the contrasts and mood swings of Soulmates to Cellmates – we now arrive at the aftermath and the hero looking back on things. “Over and over I replay the steps” and it is a sentiment that seems to define the song. Maybe both parties have made mistakes and the black box is being pulled apart and studied. All the while, the composition is light and breezy but replete with a Blues soul and a sense of romance. Percussion adds a heartbeat and certain tension whilst the bass adds fluidity to the song – ensuing myriad emotions and layers come to the precipice. Here, we see some self-examination and doubts from the hero as he states that the greatest mistake is making no mistakes at all. Wanting to change things and turn back the clock: maybe it is not as one-sided as one assumes. FloodHounds show they have depth and are capable of presenting something quite emotive and revealing without crowding it with noise and anger. Greatest Mistake brings things to a close and ensures Look What You’ve Started ticks every box the listener has in their survey. Jack Flynn, Rhys Owen and Lauren Greaves are one of the most solid and talented group of musicians around and have developed and grown from their earliest days. They sound much more like themselves and ensure FloodHounds are not easily compared with other bands. Their latest E.P. shines with memorable moments and highlights how much more is still in them – I would not be surprised to see another E.P. from them next year. One feels an L.P. could come and they have so much life and energy in the camp. A tremendous effort from a band that are going to be mainstream artists in very little time.
The guys are excited about the coming months and one can hardly blame them. Look What You’ve Started is being championed by the media and fans: that will give them impetus and motivation to keep recording and carry on in music for (let’s hope) many years to come. They’ll be playing a string of dates – check out their social media pages for more details – but take their music to Spice of Life (Soho) on 29th October for the Animal Farm. It will be great to see the guys in the flesh and the capital seems like a perfect place for them to play – lots of new fans and stations that will lap their new E.P. up and spread the word. Mixing their usual heartfelt emotion with humour, candour and passion: a triumph from a band that keep on surpassing and evolving what they do. The trio are a properly solid and galvanised unit whose natural talent and chemistry goes into everything they produce. It will be interesting seeing where they go now and what their next moves consist. Of course, touring will be in their mind but surely new music is in the back of their minds. It will be good seeing what materailising but there is good spirit in the camp and a lot of energy among FloodHounds. I started by looking at Yorkshire music and what a history the county has – how undervalued it is compared with other parts of the world. It is fairly harsh the county is not as exposed and focused-upon as it should but that has not deterred musicians (there) making a big noise and creating some of the finest music on the underground. FloodHounds are one of Sheffield’s finest but have no intention in remain localised and sitting still. Look What You’ve Started is their most impressive, full and strongest work to date and you get the feeling they have many more releases ahead. Ensure you check their E.P. out and catch them live if you can. They are another terrific young band that have been playing for years but have many more to come. With many of their peers struggling to remain and survive; it is imperative we do our utmost to encourage…
PHOTO CREDIT: BACKSTAGE:UK
ARTISTS like FloodHounds.