Silence Is Violence
Silence Is Violence is available at:
IT might seem like I am covering old ground in…
this review but some points bear repeating. I will say a few words about my featured act soon, but at the moment, it is worth looking at Indie-Rock bands of London and what they sound like; the quality and originality of bands and visibility and exposure on social media. One of the things that annoy me most about search engines is how completely basic and unfit-for-purpose they are. If you want to search for something like ‘best London bands 2016’ and hit that through Google – your options are limited. I tried that and got some old articles; some that wouldn’t load and most were out-of-date. There are no music sites that collect important polls and articles together that will help music fans and journalists. It might sound like a minor concern but it is a big problem. I am sure writers have collated lists of greatest bands – where does one find them?! What do you type in Google to get the information you need?! It is appalling it is so hard finding relevant information and getting what you need. The only other explanation – why I can’t find many band lists – is the lack of pages dedicated to this side of things. Given the amount of new bands emerging; why are there not more articles available? Search engines are flawed and frustrating but there seems to be a slowing of exposure and proliferation. People like me want to discover hot bands emerging and it would be good to find some sites and lists that make that easier. Of course, I could write one myself but there are thousands of journalists out there. If I want to collate a list of promising London bands then where do I go? I am not sure whether there is apathy and fewer journalists interested in this side of things but it is jeopardising the future of the music scene. It is challenging discovering great acts if you are based out of the city – even then it can be tough – so it is great finding lists and pieces that throw some great name our way. Unless, like me, you’re in the position where you get sent reviews and music – the task of unearthing promising musicians is a rather fraught one. It brings me, rather stumbling, to my point about London bands. Despite there being more focus on solo artists and other genres – there is a general decline in numbers and standard of Rock bands – that side of the market is still highly valuable and sought after. Indie-Rock is one of the most populous genres and one that shows huge diversification and variation.
London is always going to be a spiritual home for new bands of the moment. It has that lure and community that attracts hungry artists. Indie-Rock is seeing a lot of interesting examples bloom and present their stuff. As much as I bemoaned the lack of end-of-year polls and collation of ‘ones to watch’ – there is plenty of quality and sustainability in the band market. In terms of London; I am finding bands – even those who call themselves ‘Indie-Rock’ – incorporate other elements and genres into the music. In order for music – and the band market – to thrive and continue; we need to start organising things and bringing the very best together more clearly. This week has seen U.S. political hysteria and the death of a musical legend – making people reflect and yearn for something safe and better. Music has that innate ability to transcend time and situations and provide warmth and reassurance. I am not sure what we will do with regards the (lack of) visibility for great acts – whether there should be a bespoke site set up to expose great music or something else. I have tossed the idea about – setting a site like this up – but it might take a while to get going. Whether journalists do more to get the best bands to our ears is also to be seen, but for now, those like I.V are definitely worth time and affection. I am new to the band so have been looking into the origins and thinking where they came from. All that is listed across Facebook, in terms of biography are the names – Victoria San, Oliver Finch; Matt Nicholls, Polly Shields and Austin Danson – and the band’s mission statement: “Some kind of high-powered mutant, never even considered for mass production“. It is an intriguing, if brief, summation of the guys and what they do. I have looked at new artists and how much they disseminate across social media. In order to get people in and journalists/fans latching onto the music – it is vital there is quite a bit of information and detail. I know new music is a vast and populous arena: it can be impossible sifting through the wave of participants, regardless of how much information they provide. Those that make the biggest initial steps are those that reveal a bit about themselves and give the audience something to see. I.V will have a definite future but I would like to know more about the members and where they came from; a few more band snaps and more media – some interviews and videos they have recorded/conducted. It is not a point I will bring up too vividly but it is harder now to succeed than ever. Those acts that have a clear talent and originality – like I.V – deserve more respect and longevity than those who merely turn up and put in the minimum. I am not sure whether the band has photo-shoots organized and will be putting longer biography out but there are many that would like to hear more about them and what they do – who influences them and what makes them tick. Perhaps this secretive, modest unveiling is to keep enigma firm and ensure the music reveals the most. That is commendable but one feels next year will be a busier, fuller one for them. Having made some impressive steps thus far; they are a bold and electric act that certainly make an impression.
Before getting into specifics about I.V and their music; it is worth talking about – and putting the band in this context – the benefits and importance music holds to us. I am writing this in the wake of Leonard Cohen’s death, and while not directly connected with I.V and their music – he raises a bigger point that needs to be addressed. A lot of the sadness and tragedy that has originated this year has concerned the – unfair and untimely – deaths of our greatest musicians. From David Bowie and Cohen through to Lemmy – it has been a rather cruel and unsubtle year from The Grim Reaper. No conspiracy, greater plan or heavenly scheme – just an unfortunate and sad year for us all. While 2016 (luckily) makes its final fits and fades into a new calendar year – there is that hopefulness for a better time in addition to reflection on the past few months. Given the passing of such legends: music has shown just how important and universal it is. Whether you have respect and fondness for the music of Leonard Cohen and David Bowie – you cannot argue at the fact they were hugely influential. That unequivocal relevance is never going to end. In response to such sad news and poor fortune; people like me are looking at musicians coming through to fill the gaps. Whatever your preferences with regards new music; there is plenty out there for everyone and some very promising acts. As we all step into winter’s icy depths: the mind and body crave something nourishing and fiery; colourful, interesting and different. Luckily, when it comes to I.V, you get that in spades. A terrific young band that is entering music at a very competitive time. I feel sorry for musicians coming in now and the realities of what is in front of them. They are stepping into an industry where perspiration outweighs perseverance. It is admirable (so many artists) go in hot and have that determination and single-minded passion. Those that overcome the perils and realities of music ensure their music is as sharp, defined and bold as it can be straight away. There is little modesty and time for tenderness for I.V. The guys make sure they get into the head and create nuance and memories. Let’s hope the band keeps strong and determined – they could make a real impact in London and rank as one of the most promising acts around the capital. Tracks such as Silence Is Violence show they differ from the norm. and have their unique brand of song – one that has not often been heard.
I.V are fairly new out the traps but have already shown they are an inventive and hungry band. If you look at their SoundCloud account – you will see some demo. songs and covers. Listening to contrasting offerings like Imagine (their John Lennon cover) and What It Takes to Be Yours (a demo.) and you can hear their range and variation. The former is quite dreamy and hazy: the vocal swoons in the background and it is an entranced version of the classic song. The latter is more pressing but still has some restraint. If you forward a few months and new song Entropy is a lot harder and sturdier. Employing more Punk shades and a harder noise – lo-fi and pretty raw. That shows how much I.V have progressed and altered over the space of a year. Entropy has similar shades to Silence Is Violence and the two songs are a nice companion piece. They would go well on an E.P. and one feels a three/four-track release would be imminent. I would like to see those two tracks side-by-side and forming the basis of an I.V E.P. Entropy is a song you should check out as it chugs, burns and snarls through the gears. Silence Is Violence is a track I was compelled to investigate as it is their finest song and shows where they are now – that sound and flair you can hear bursting through. I imagine the band will keep this sound and mix firm for future releases. They have changed a little from their earliest cuts and feel they have actually cemented their sound now.
Silence Is Violence opens with churning, propulsive strings that have edginess and attitude to them. I get embers of Doolittle-era Pixies in the way they burst through. In fact, there is a little bit of Where Is My Mind? (Surfer Rosa) in its blend of delicacy and power. Again, mixing Punk and Alternative embers together: it is an immediate and impassioned start that finds the heroine contemplating a relationship issue. Her man is by her and saying the words ‘I love you’. She is happy to hear it, but one feels, there is insincerity and hostility inside those sentiments. The sweetheart is cruel and spitting these words like an insult and taunt. Maybe they are side-by-side in bed together and going through the motions. The guy is saying those words but his heart is not in it – maybe being sarcastic or childish in the way he delivers it. The heroine has to deal with this and is seeing her life changed and perceptions of love altered. The silence and awkwardness that unfolds are causing pain and distress for her. Buried under a wave of twisted notes and energy; the vocal does get a little drowned but it underlines the desperation and despair that is being felt. You get the sense of a young woman battling to keep a relationship together and trying to get her man on the level. It may have started well but the two have drifted apart and want different things. One wonders why the man is in the bond and what he is getting from it. Maybe a controller and playing games: someone toying with the heroine and messing her about. When it gets to the chorus, there is a certain lightness and relief among the harsh words. The song’s title is chanted like a mantra but the vocal has an accessibility and sense of sweetness that keeps things from being too jagged and sour. The listener is lured by the tight band performance and incredible performances. I.V are tight but have a looseness to them – like you are hearing the song live. It is beautifully mixed but could afford to put the vocal higher/clearer in the mix. Having heard the band’s cover of Imagine and some of the older songs in the repertoire – they bring these together for Silence Is Violence. The softness and somnambulism of Imagine with spikier edges of their current material is seamless blended to create something full, layered and nuanced. Despite the song being heavy and hard: you will come back to it and discover new ideas and pleasures every time.
As the song progresses, my view changed and there is another side to the tale. Whereas I was thinking the man was at fault – it seems like it is not that clear-cut. The next verse finds the heroine being cruel and prodding the guy. Her words are barbed and her heart cold to the touch. She, for whatever reason, is being a little unkind and urging her man to scream and let his emotions out. In a sense, the song is an assessment of a relationship where pacificism and introspection is leading to muted feelings and an unfair balance. If the heroine is being a bit too callous and severe at times; the man is holding things back and not letting his unhappiness known. Maybe he is too afraid to let it out or part of the cat-and-mouse game that is unfolding. The silence that they share is the most destructive element. Maybe the outpouring and anger – from the heroine – is a reaction to the inattentiveness and silence of her man. Perhaps he is not being communicative and causing her to be alone in the relationship. It is hard to say but things have reached a boiling point. They go to sleep and lay awake not speaking – perhaps she is trying to talk – and there is that desire for something from the man. Even if he screams or shouts, that is okay – at least he will be contributing and letting his feelings be heard. It is a fascinating take on a relationship dynamic and not one you hear too often. I find a lot of accusatory songs that point the finger at the man without any real reason. Here, it seems like the gender roles are reversed and there is some blame on the girl. At the very least, the two are as culpable as one another. In order to assuage her guilt and hard skin: our heroine is trying to reason with the man and find out what is going on.
The band utilise their instruments as emotions and physical progressions. The guitars cut and jab like punches and verbal outbursts whereas bass and drums are pulsating, attacking and unsettled. When everything comes together you have a visceral explosion and representation of the relationship. I was impressed by the guitars and the amount of different sounds and notes thrown together. It is disciplined but ragged; stylish and simple – you get all these contradictions in a wonderful performance. The entire band are terrific and keep the song alive and flaming until its final moments. With the heroine pouring her heart out and unsure of what the future holds; her musical comrades provide impressive support and bring light and life to the words. Such is the connection between them you start to picture the song unfolding and what is actually being revealed. By the closing moments, one feels there is no real way back and the lovers have come too far. Silence Is Violence is a sub-three-minute gem that has some ‘70s Punk strands and shades of Pixies; some modern incorporations and unique chemistry. The chorus is especially pleasing and one that you will be singing along to soon enough. I was looking for clarity and truth by the end and was curious how the duo worked out. It seems like, whatever the outcome of that relationship, there are some lessons learned and both will not make the same mistake again. If silence is a destructive and ruinous thing to possess then overtness is a cleanser. Usually, when it comes to love songs, it is the arguments and fights that are assessed and cause the wounds. Here, if the heroine is being direct and fierce at times, the guy has his own brand of cruelty. I am always looking to point the blame finger at the man but perhaps it is more one-sided and simple. That is one of the great things about the song. It is a complicated insight into a relationship and one everyone will interpret their own way. Whether you are hooked by the swaggering, emotive compositional performance or the heartfelt, soulful vocal then you will come back to hear the song time again. It will strike you first time but keeps giving you something else each time you visit it. That is a hard trick when it comes to Alternative-Rock: nuance and repeatability is not always something that can be achieved. A stunning song from a band that are finding their way but have made an impressive step in Silence Is Violence.
I am excited to see where I.V can head and what the next year holds for them. I say that about all artists that arrive to me, but to be fair, that is the point of this blog. I am not here to review everyone that comes to my attention and mark certain artists for success – everyone I hear has that potential to go a long way and do great work. Despite narrow biography and some mystique; the guys have personality, strength and quality music in front of them. Whether that is enough for journalists and fans is hard to say – at the moment, they are building their foundations and testing the water. Silence Is Violence, if that is to define their sound, shows there is potential for the London band. The song might not hit you first time around but will register its layers and pleasures the more you get into it. That is not only the mark of a great band but fantastic music – unveiling its true beauty and complexities across time and loyalty. Before I predict the future and next year of I.V, it is worth tapping back into the initial vein – looking at London, Indie-Rock and getting your name out there. Over the past few years, I have been noting a change of scent in the musical wind. There was a time when the band market was the most sought-after and prolific in the world. Perhaps vibing and inspired by the remnants of the 1990s legends and ‘00s follow-ons – solo artists barely got a shout and were less notable by comparison. That is not the case over the past few years: there has been a shift towards solo artists and fewer ears trained the way of groups. I feel the reason behind this is the dependence on, and the decline of, traditional Rock and Indie blends. Maybe it is harder to inject anything fresh into the genres – I am seeing fewer standout bands at the moment. Because of this, it is scary coming into music if you are a band. The media has not helped with regards this trepidation. Keen to proffer any half-assed band that sounds vaguely interesting: too much focus on the weaker end of music is taking its toll. Whilst I have more appreciation and fascination for solo acts: my mind and heart is always going to be drawn to bands of the U.K.
London was not always the natural epicenter of great music. Around the time (of the) wave of fantastic bands was an attention towards other parts of Britain – Liverpool and Manchester still resonating hard. It is only the past, maybe three or four years, that has seen a dominance for London. If you are looking for a fantastic band that could be a mainstream proposition in years to come – it is only natural you set your sights to London. As the city becomes fuller and more diverse; in turn, there is a more eclectic scene and greater choice. I have cast some black-hewn seeds regarding Indie-Rock and its validity. While it is not as favoured and popular as once was: it is become more variegated, expansive and mobile. Artists – who play in this genre – are fusing other sounds together and making (Indie-Rock) less homogenised. I.V are proving this – whether they would traditionally refer to themselves as ‘Indie-Rock’. I feel bands are not quite as surprising and fresh as you would hope – it is down to the established artists to really show how it is done. Maybe that is an over-simplification but there are still a crop of young bands that have the possibility and promise at heart. I.V are little-known right now but, if they keep grinding and producing like they, can carve out some real estate about the capital. London is that inscrutable majesty that has a vast bosom and accommodating scene – conversely crowded, capricious and cold when it feels. Because of that, many young musicians are being put off and finding a home in other places – high rent prices and closing venues hardly helps the plight. It is not a dilemma or pandemic: London is still, in spite of its problems and limitations, the natural place for any musician who wants to succeed. You only have to do a cursory scan of London acts of 2016 and you will find so many different and varied examples. I opened by complaining about the lack of polls and end-of-year polls. Once was the time you’d have complete and regular lists about the London bands of the moment – that is becoming rare for those who want to keep informed. Because of this, I fear so many young acts – unfairly it seems – will struggle to get the respect and fan-baser they deserve. I might come across quite doom-laden but am merely being pragmatic and realistic. Against these potential black ice patches is a lot of warm sunshine and light. Even if Indie-Rock is slowing and not as popular as once was – the finest of the genre are showing we should not give up hope.
Silence Is Violence is one of a couple of new tracks from the London collective – a statement from a fine band that has ambitions to play bigger stages. I know they will be performing around the capital and cleaning up on the toilet circuit – the smaller clubs and venues; getting their music to the people. From there, and into 2017, one has to look farther afield and see where the band can head. I am finding a lot of bands finding opportunities and finding a living doing regular gigs around London alone. I feel I.V will want to remain in London but get themselves out to the wider public. I can imagine them in the U.S. and Europe – their music will translate well there and find plenty of support. I hope I.V put a bit of themselves on social media and ensure they have the best chance of survival and success. My favourite review subjects are those that have a full biography, a good selection of images and plenty of links – not just to social media but music-sharing sites. It is not a coincidence those that have the best music will also have the most impressive social media pages. I.V have an impressive amount of fans but can reach a lot more out there. In spite of bands not being as precious as once was: more of them are coming into music by the year. It is left to conclude things with a bit about I.V and what they can do in 2017. I know they have had a busy year but it seems like the one ahead will be busier and more packed. I have not heard word whether an E.P. or album is planned but I’d like to think so. They have momentum and are producing some terrific work – connecting with people and striking a chord to many. There is such chemistry and solidity in the band; they are one of those acts you know will be sticking together for years. It appears they have some thinking to do and just where they want to head. If they keep producing songs as strong as SilenceIs Violence then there will be demands from many parts of the country. I hear lesser bands being celebrated and promoted – it cannot be too long until the I.V chaps are enjoying some mainstream radio nods. They can get their social media stock fleshed and fuller; think about an E.P. and ally themselves with local radio and more press outlets – getting their music as far as possible. They are doing a lot of that already and you feel 2017 will be the year they start to really making a killing. This year has been such a tragic and dark one in many respects: we need music and new musicians to come out strong and bring positivity and love to the people. If Silence Is Violence does not seem like a balm then think of it as a necessary jolt and rush that we all need. The cobwebs are forming, the darkness drawing in and moods starting to turn a little sour. I.V ensure smiles are on faces at the very least – even if it is quite ironic at times. A band that knows how to get into the head and register something quite fantastic. It cannot be too long until they start making their way to major labels and radio stations. Let’s hope the band get a Twitter account too as they might be denying themselves a lot of fans and chances. In this age you need to be as widespread as possible – getting onto YouTube too. Those are things they will consider but the music is out there and making its presence known. They are a band that are starting strong and already capturing the critical imagination. Because of that, make sure you…
FIND them before they hit the big leagues.