One Night Only
One Night Only is available at:
7th April, 2017
IT is a rarity, for me at least, reviewing…
two British bands in a row. In the coming weeks, I want to give more focus to the (solo) girls and broaden my horizons to other areas of the globe. Whilst I am close to home, I may as well have a look at a band who are duelling in the world of Rock. It gives me a chance to look at the genre and how important it is this year; artists from Cambridgeshire (and areas outside of London); those bands hard-working and passionate; experienced bands who hark back to a better time for Rock – yet able to project a youthfulness and modern relevance. There is certainly enough to get one’s teeth into when it comes to The Brink. I am usually a bit ho-hum when artists/bands have ‘The’ at the start of their name – it can get a bit formulaic and tiresome. In fact, that actually gets me thinking about a subject few artists take care to consider: a distinct name and making sure you stand out. In a heavy and packed industry, you’d think every new artist would take care to consider these: making sure their name is original and search-able; having the energy and dedication to actually reveal a bit about yourself and ensuring visual/basics are covered. It might seem quite obvious but you have to come into music armed with more than music and dedication. Music is as much about visuals and words as it is the actual music. The number of times I have heard an artist come in with a Google-proof name – where it takes forever to find or is infuriatingly common – or something plain weird, you would not believe. It is frustrating for me because you are left a bit cold with an odd or overly-common name. If you stick ‘The’ at the start of your band then you need to follow it up with something interesting.
The Brink guys have that standout name that provokes contradictions of apocalypse, despair and a, strangely, sense of desire and hope. Not only will they be easy enough to find on a search engine – a few modifications and common sense when it comes to phrasing – but they have enough information to lure in journalists and fans alike. Having received a review request from their management, I am provided a biography and links that allow me insight into the band. Again, I hear too many artists who provide no information and want to keep themselves hidden – the music, they claim, is all that is needed. That makes sense a degree but if you want people to book you, recognise you and be involved then you need to give something away. It is like dating: you sit their silent on a night and say nothing, you’re unlikely to get laid (unless you are THAT good-looking!). I see musicians as potential dates so I need enough of their history and personality before I develop any sort of attachment. Bringing it back to The Brink and we have a band who are hard-working and keen for listeners to gain insight into that they’re about and what drives them. It is no coincidence they are proving ever-more-popular and getting tour demands. By informing listeners and opening up, that gives them confidence and something to investigate. It might seem like a small point but I am turning artists away that have very few photos and little information. It is not worth my time and effort slaving away looking for scraps of information – doing their work for them. Something as simple as collating all your social media links and websites into one place saves a lot of time – I don’t want to slog on search engines trying to find all that. Artists that take things seriously will always stand the test of time and reach a wider audience. I digress, mind…
I’ll take a brief look at Cambridge/Cambridgeshire as that is where the band (and Sheffield) are based/started at the very least. They have played around the country but have, I guess, those humble beginnings. Compared to other areas, Cambridgeshire has spawned a few great acts. I am always intrigued going to smaller, less densely-populated counties and the type of acts that play here. The Broken Family Band and Katrina and the Waves are from Cambridge and join the likes of Fred’s Singers as the county’s most-famous alumni. In terms of new artists, I am not sure who is making waves and worth watching. I am looking at search engines and not seeing many articles about Cambridgeshire musicians. It is always hard knowing whether there is an active scene but I am aware of Cambridgeshire and some of the artists making a break. There is a pretty healthy scene so would be good to see local media do a bit more. Cambridge, especially, is a large area and has local radio/newspapers in addition to the University of Cambridge – they are pretty eager and prolific when it comes to scouting out the best art and music. Having studied in Cambridge, I know there are some great bars and theatres there. Of course, there is Cambridge Corn Exchange: a theatre that plays host to great comedy and music. The likes of David Bowie and Oasis have played there: the new generation are encouraged and it is proving a popular tour date for many mainstream acts. Slightly less glamorous are spots like Huntingdon’s Axe & Compass. Portland Arms is a popular Cambridge hang-out and has a stellar reputation and performance space. The Alma is another great bar that promulgates awesome bands and local artists. Aside from that, it is hard seeing what kind of venues there are. I would suggest there is more going on in Cambridge (than towns around it) but it is worth a visit up there. Certainly, a night at one of Cambridge’s music-hosting pubs will stick in the memory. It is a wonderful city that has history and modernity nestling alongside one another; a student population that fits neatly with a cosmopolitan vibe and sense of traditional Englishness. The Brink are a great act that has that Cambridgeshire base but setting their horizons further afield.
I’ll come on to look at hard-working acts and rewards to those who put the fort in – at the moment, a look at Rock. Last year, it seemed other genes were stealing top honours from critics. If you think of the critics’ choice albums of 2016 then it is heavy with Urban, R&B and Soul. There were a few good Rock albums but not mighty enough to really trouble critics – Radiohead produced A Moon Shaped Pool but it was less-Rock and more Acoustic/Electronic. This year, the tables are turning and it seems like we are in for a real treat. Royal Blood have teased Lights Out: the first track from their forthcoming album, How Did We Get So Dark? They claim the album will be tighter, tougher and tauter. It will be angrier and expand upon the promise of their eponymous debut. Not only will their June-scheduled album shake it with the big guns of 2017 but will not be alone. Jack White released a recent instrumental track, Battle Cry. One assumes he is planning a follow-up to 2014’s Lazaretto. Like Royal Blood; there has been that three-year wait for new material. White is one of music’s legends and, through his decades-long career, has created some of the finest Rock music of this generation. Throw Queens of the Stone Age into the Rock Holy Trinity – another band who have left a chasm between albums – and there is enough to suggest this year will be synonymous with epic Rock. Maybe Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. will get Album of 2017 awards – Laura Marling’s Semper Femina not far behind – but I would like to think a fair few Rock albums will be in critics top-ten lists. Last year, I was worried Rock was fading and the tide was turning – all the heroes and heroines trying new genres. It seems they were merely dormant – that is a very good thing. I love the new wave of Rock/Alternative bands coming through at the moment. Last year was a phenomenal year for music and saw its very best address society and document the inequality and corruption they saw around them. That will, sadly, be another hot topic this year but Rock’s elite and new-born will add their voice to those subjects.
The Brink are a band who are a little different from Jack White and Royal Blood. The Cambridgeshire chaps are a little more melodic and take embers of Classic Rock and 1980s/1990s giants and give it a modern gloss. They have Hardcore touches but ably unify hard-rocking jams with subtle sensibilities and nuance. It is important, in a genre like Rock, you keep the listener coming back. Too many bands are obsessed with aimless riffs and force – it means there is little long-term investment and real interest. Not only will Rock play a big role this year but we need to recognise there is complexity in Rock. It is not all Royal Blood-like. You have sub-genres and mixed genres. If you fancy something akin to 1980s Hair Metal mixed with Hardcore then you are sorted. There is riff-heavy Alternative and Pavement-like U.S.-‘90s sounds. It is a genre as varied and adaptable as any out there. When people claim Rock is dead – that age-old debate – they tend to view certain bands – usually Led Zeppelin-like epics and muscle-flexing, tough Rock music. True, there are few newcomers that can match the legends but, as we see with Queens’, Royal’ and White, there is no danger of any quiet or modesty this year. It is those new Rock acts emerging – who lace different decades and bands together – that are adding colour and originality to the debate. The Brink, when one takes a glance at them, suggest Thrash-Rock and Metal overload. In actuality, they are a lot more cultured and ‘calm’ than that. With that being said, they are not exactly Trappist monks: their beats-riffs-vocals combinations have enthralled audiences and create a cocktail so potent and interesting you’d struggle to name it – a Sex on the Beach-cum-Use Your Imagination might suffice? I am making them out to be prurient and hedonistic which is unfair – the guys remind me of a cross between older acts Thin Lizzy and Def Leppard and Queens of the Stone Age. They have the, in their words, balls-to-the-wall attitude and swagger but have a real songwriting craft and ear for hooks.
I like how The Brink have that older style of sound and songwriting – evocative and layered rather than overly-simplistic and raw – but are adapted and attuned to the demands of the modern market. Tom Quick’s vocals, Lexi Laine’s guitar; Izzy Trixx’s rhythm guitar and Gary Connor’s bass joins with Davide ‘DRAKE’ Bocci’s skins and creates like and energy – blending twentieth and twenty-first-century ideas. There are vocal harmonies and soothe alongside driving anthems and immense performances. Given the bond in the band and the rare and popular sound they are brewing; it is not a shock they are in demand. The guys have played London, Manchester and Newcastle so are not exactly slouches. Not only have they played large cities and great venues but are showing no signs of slowing. I know most musicians are pretty hard-working but there are some that exceed expectations. The Brink are seen as – maybe their words of local chatter – one of the hardest-working bands in the U.K. They have a couple of E.P.s under their belt and thrive from the energy and electricity of the live setting. At the start of a career, you have to gain initiation through the ‘toilet circuit’ – the pubs, clubs and smaller venues that seem like a rite-of-passage. This often takes the form of provisional towns and gives new artists a chance to hone their craft and experience the spectrum of live venues around the country. The Brink have this on their curriculum but have superseded a lifetime on the smaller circuit by confirmed some rather stealthy and established venues. Sure, they mix the modest and large to ensure they keep their game strong and witness crowds of all sizes. Songs like One Night Only would suit an arena crowd or a several-thousands-seater capacity. In a way, there is mobility and flexibility in the song so it can be transmogrified for a pub audience – maybe playing host to a much more intimate audience. I am sure the boys would prefer the big crowds but much prefer playing – full stop. They are always looking for their next gig and ensuring they bring their music to as many people around Britain as possible.
The legendary Nick Tauber has produced for The Brink: he has worked with Marillion, Thin Lizzy and Def Leppard. It is no surprise The Brink incorporate some of their sounds but have their own influences and ideas. It is great having a producer with that experience and background. So many new bands go for ultra-modern hotshots whose experience and record collection lacks depth and age. Because of that, everything is sleek, overly-familiar and aimed with one eye at Spotify figures. Tauber brings a sophisticated and evocative sensibility to the boys’ urgent and hypnotic songs. It is a perfect marriage and one, I hope, will continue. Because of that, it is understandable the band want to play as much as they can and get their music as travelled as possible. It is interesting trying to define what hard-working is and who the most productive artist is out there. Many claim The Brink are the hardest-working band around but how subjective is that? Certainly, the guys are not the sort who take time off and look forward to rests. A lot of artists, because of demand and the benefits of gigs – sometimes the only revenue they will extoll – can be found traversing the country month-in-month-out. I feel The Brink are a band who do things because they are passionate. Of course, the revenue they gain allows them to continue making music and try more ambitious things but they have that natural love of the stage. The crowds are responding and the name they are building for themselves is impressive indeed. I have mentioned, in various posts in fact, how important it is getting your webpage(s) sorted and keep the social media followers updated – that comes with an accompanying side order of touring and promotion. It is tough is music: it is a twenty-four-hour career that requires completely dedication and vigilance. One of the most impressive things about musicians is how loyal and passionate they are. I guess every artist slogs and has to campaign tirelessly but there are bands like The Brink who seem indefatigable and extra-strength. This has been proven over the last few months and I know there are dates afoot – the boys will want to get out to new places and see how their music goes down.
The Brink have been around a little bit now and have cemented their reputation as one of the most exciting bands around. Previous songs like Save Goodbye, Little Janie and Never Again show they are capable of producing emphatic, powerful songs that have catchiness and memorability. Save Goodbye boasts a huge vocal and Bon Jovi-esque anthem that gets you singing along and makes the body move. The band is tight and compelling throughout and show why they have been celebrated in the live arena. I know the guys will be producing many more songs in the future but have shown, over the space of a few tracks, they are getting better and stronger. It is the lyrics which seem to surprise me most. A lot of Rock bands write about love in very obvious terms and throw so many stereotypes and clichés into their lyrics. You are not often hooked by the words but have to rely on the composition and vocals. The Brink look at a range of subjects but paint vivid stories and weave fascinating words together. Couple that with incredible performances from each player and you have songs that contain depth, passion and plenty of intelligence. The power and sheer energy of each song ensure they are given great reception when performed live. I cannot wait to see where they go and what the next couple of years hold. Maybe they will push into new directions and add new dimensions to their music. Whatever they choose, they are sure to climb up the ranks and gain huge popularity.
One Night Only is the band’s most-recent song and one that starts off with a huge band. More urgent and swaggering than anything I have heard from the group; the song kicks off with that fingers-up riff and confidence that will get the listener invested immediately. The introduction has that classic Rock sound and harks back to the giants of the genre. Before a word is sung, you are nodding your head and surrendering to the sheer might and venom of the riffs. The band are focused and electric right from the off and ensure their new single is not easily forgotten. It seems the nature of the one-night stand is investigated. Our hero is looking at the girl and it seems they might be on different pages. Owing to some loss of clarity in the first verse – some of the words not as decipherable as possible – one catches a few snatches but, to me, it seems like there is that commitment of a single night – perhaps there are separate intentions. The hero is not looking for something serious and has that laddish persona and attitude. In a modern scene, where Rock bands are becoming cleaner and gentrified, it is good hearing a slice of music that has that cockiness. It minds me of Guns N’ Roses and the kind of song Axl Rose would belt out. There are those who might say there is a lack of respect in the song: the boy wants a quick thrill and not looking for romance but that is missing the point. The band, on previous songs, have shown heart and soul and are one of the more thoughtful and intelligent groups around. Here, they are having fun and letting loose. Maybe the girl is of the same mind but there seem to be some crossed wires. The hero is not having anything and is definitely clear where he stands. Supporting this mandate is a fiery and intense piece of riffing that carries on from where the introduction left off and contains ample sparkle, fizz and guts. The percussion is intense and authoritative but possesses ample rhythm and control. The same can be said of the bass which holds everything together whilst whipping up some serious kick and panache.
Before the next verse comes in, you are looking at the influences of The Brink and who they are inspired by. When hearing that vocal; one cannot help hear embers of Bon Jovi, Axl Rose and Robert Plant in Tom Quick’s vocals – perhaps a little bit of Joe Elliot as well. As much as I admire the percussion and bass, it is Lexi Lane’s guitar that, in me, creates the biggest reaction. It has everything going for it: riffled intensity and passion together with coolness and funkiness; it has a lot of details and sweat running down its back – a commanding and hypnotic performance from one of the best young guitarists working today. That is just as well because, when the hero is back at the microphone, it seems events have moved to the bedroom. Well, I say that, but there is a definite immanency. She has a tattoo on her back that shows she is ready – not sure what of but she is not as angelic and sweet as one might imagine – and is appears the pugilists are well-matched and prepared. Tough and polished production values (from Tauber) ensure One Night Only maintains its mix of 1980s Rock and modern-day Alternative – ensuring it builds a bridge between those who like their music with big-haired frontmen and others who go for skinny jeans-wearing cock-rockers. There is certainly a sense of genital exaggeration in the song. Our man is not shy of confidence but is not leading the girl astray. In other tracks, the band have looked more tenderly at love and showed tenderness. Here, they are looking at something less profound and more everyday. Up and down the land, there are these single-night détentes that are nothing more than satisfaction and release. Maybe the hero has some feelings for the heroine but he is a man of a single cause: he wants that conquest and is grasped by the heat and intoxication of the situation. Previously, the lion hunting down his prey; by the second verse, they are closing together and entwined in the dance.
The chorus comes back in and allows the band to chime in with vocals and add a little bit more pressure. It is a chorus that has that repeatability and catchiness. It definitely nods the head and has that fists-aloft quality stadium-goers demand. Perhaps One Night Only will get an airing at a big arena as it deserves that kind of acclaim and capacity. The bridge comes in and the lights are turned down. Perhaps this is the representation of the ‘event’ itself – the duo getting down to things and making sure the blinds are shut. Perhaps it signifies the lights coming down and the night drawing in. Whatever its meaning, there is a physicality and sense of tease. The band bring the instruments down a bit and show some softness; things start to build and there is that underlying expression of sexuality and fun. I guess ‘fun’ is really what defines the song. There is never any malice nor the grating compaction of the night club. You do not have a man trying to pick the girl up at a sweaty club surrounded by spilt lager and a pounding bassline. Not that the flirtation is that suave but there is not the same seediness and Neanderthal feeling you get from a lot of modern songs. Sure, the one-night stand is still part of the culture and it is fine representing it. I feel a lot of Dance and Rock music deals with the subject without any sophistication or humanity. The Brink are honest and open but never cheap and puerile: always imbuing their music with maturity and a playfulness. The band is privy to this and gives the composition a cheeky wink and butt-load of bounce. If the song were a physical thing it would probably be Gene Simmons unravelling his runway-length tongue. It has that cheeky edge but there is a definitely a sense of ‘stature’ about the song. The hero and heroine circle one another but, perhaps, there is a different goal from each. Perhaps she wants something longer-lasting but our man knows what he wants. Kudos to the entire band for an exceptional song/performance – big marks to Laine and some truly exceptional shredding/arpeggio work towards the end – and incredible chemistry. One Night Only is a song that has its heart in the era of the Classic Rock gods – when hair was long and things were a lot simpler. The Brink injects modernity and urgency to their music but has a faithful love for bands like Thin Lizzy and Def Leppard. One Night Only is an incredible track that is strong enough to lure those not usually tempted by 1980s-esque Rock. It is a big statement that the Rock world needs right now.
I will wrap up by looking back at hard-working acts and getting the essentials right; a little more on Rock and its importance this year – a detour back to the sounds relevant in 2017; mixing that will something classic and older. The chaps of The Brink provide fist-pumping anthems and are a cross of the 1980s/1990s stadium legends and the most compelled Rock acts of today. They have conquered Cambridgeshire but traversed to Newcastle, Manchester and beyond. I would love to see the band perform more gigs down London-way and get themselves to the coast. They have the ability to hook and compel any crowd, anywhere. Not only have they rigorously toured the last few months but are providing new material. Two E.P.s under their belt – their reputation growing with it – it is very much their time to reign. Producer Nick Tauber, having those big names under his belt, is taking the band and ensuring their fine music is given that little bit of pixie dust. His skill and experience are bringing their music to new fans and generations. That is what I love about the band: they are modern and contemporary but have a love for older music and a certain sense of dignity. That is not to say their music lacks any pummel or primal urge – there are few who can produce hooks and anthems like them. I am not sure how the rest of 2017 is looking for them but, if One Night Only is any indication, they will be unveiling more very soon. There is a restless energy and endless determination in the band which leads to prolific touring and solid, tight recordings. They have that love for the road but want to inspire and resonate on social media. It is important getting their music out there and recruiting new fans. I perceive the group creating another E.P. very soon or thinking about an album. I guess, if you want to ascend to the next stage of your career – closer to the mainstream – an album most arrive at some point. Perhaps that is just around the corner or maybe they are keen to get a few E.P.s under their tool belt.
PHOTO CREDIT: @imo.hardy
What is known is they are gaining a reputation as one of the, if not the hardest-working band in the country. Certainly, they are not a group who will stay put in Cambridgeshire for long. I have hinted at some of the artists and venues one can find in places like Cambridge. It is a part of the nation that does not get a lot of attention but should not be overlooked. Like any smaller counties/part of the world; it has its share of musicians and plenty of promise. Having lived in Cambridge for a couple of years I know there is always somewhere to go and live music just around the corner. Terrific pubs and small venues are keen to house new artists but, perhaps, it is not going to be as productive and quality-assured as areas like London and Manchester. For that reason, one wonders whether The Brink will relocate in order to gain more opportunities and larger audiences. In terms of venues and crowds; somewhere like London might be more appropriate for them. Not only are there a lot more spots to perform but a broader audience. The Brink’s music is getting nationwide acclaim but that London base would allow them to take it a step further. They’re a band who would love to do some international dates – if they haven’t already – and there are so many countries that would cherish and celebrate their music. Their youthful energy and collective experience go into music that is cross-generational and cross-pollinating. I admire their touring ethos and how keen they are to get out there. Many artists are excited to tour but it can be quite draining. I see many doing year-long tours and having to travel all over the place. While it is good to see new audiences and gain that experience – how detrimental is it regarding long-term goals and energy levels? Maybe bands have it easier and share the workload and responsibilities – solo artists, for example, have to tackle everything on their own.
I want to finish off looking at Rock and mixing experience and modernity. The genre itself, as I explained, is much more complicated than you might imagine. One might imagine Rock is quite basic and has very little room for nuance and motility. In fact, the genre is one of the most malleable and variegated around. Acts do not stringently have to stick to an adhered-upon code of conduct and codified set of rules – they are free to splice other sounds in and mix decades together. I mentioned bands like Queens of the Stone Age and new potential from Royal Blood and Jack White. Between them, they cover a lot of ground by specialising in more direct, riff-heavy Rock – from Desert-crawl and Detroit Blues to Post-Hardcore slither. At another section of the spectrum, a band might want to bring Electronic music into Rock and give it a zesty twist. Whatever you fancy, Rock is a platform that allows immigration and revisions. The Brink have a modern mind but have a soul and heart that belongs in the twentieth-century. Armed with a producer who has worked with Marillion and Thin Lizzy; it is not a complete shock hearing their influence come into their music. It is hard defining (The Brink’s) music only to say it is unlike anything out there at the moment. I hear a lot of artists who laud certain others and replicate their music to the letter. It can all-too-tempting doing this but will not wash in the long-term – you are likely to have limited success and sustainability. I am not suggesting a complete reinvention of the wheel but music is huge and packed with all manner of sounds and ideas. It is not that hard being original and creating something popular and respectable. The Brink have shades and strands of past acts but are very determined to craft their own sound and not follow anyone else.
Rock is going to be more important this year than any previous. In 2016, we saw a real raft of (mainly U.S.) R&B/Soul albums; some terrific Hip-Hop and Rap records that evaluated the state of society and defined it with intelligence, anger and passion. Propelled and motivated by upset and disgust – at governments and events around the world – this has not abated in 2017. We are still in the mud and trying to make sense of our leaders who make questionable decisions. Artists like Kendrick Lamar have already released year-defining records but I feel Rock will play a much more important role than it did this year. The big bands are lining up their material and preparing to give this year a real kick up the backside. It is great to see as last year was a little bit quiet on that front. Because of that, bands like The Brink will be in demand and mixing it with some of British Rock’s best newcomers. The group are not as politically-minded as some but, when it comes to their lyrics, they stray from the cliché and overdone. The same can be said of their compositions: always filled with detail, fantastic little touches and plenty of memorability. I shall end this here but am pleased The Brink continue to strengthen and play. There is no stopping the guys and who would want to?! They are one of the most productive and dedicated bands around and will see that passion rewarded. Their fan numbers are growing and there is a good mood in camp. It is unpredictable when you fancy a new band. There are no guarantees, even if they are mega-talented, they will last for years. Fortunately, with The Brink, they are likely to continue for a long time and have such a real and strong connection. One Night Only is a brilliant new song that brings all their talent and sides into a huge smash. Many will wonder if more songs will follow but that is known only to the band. They are launching their Rock missile into music in a year…
WHEN things really start to hot up.
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