I’ll Pick You Up
I’ll Pick You Up is available at:
22nd March, 2017
NOT only is it great getting to look at…
a Yorkshire-based band but a unit that has all the basic elements nailed down. It may sound like my standard are not too high but it is, as I will explain, something of a rarity. Before I come to that, I will look at the bands of Leeds, past and present, and why the city is so important; how Yorkshire music is influencing the modern scene and band’s releasing music – how it all comes together and the components involved. I’ll also take on issues of Pop and getting the compositional and thematic blend just right; a little on image and colour. I will start off – and keep it brief to spare the lash of overfamiliarity – with that problem of distinction and promotion. I have said it in previous reviews but still see this coming up. When I interview or review an artist there are a few things that are guaranteed to shrivel the testicles. For one it is using the word ‘journey’ – I am sure there was a time in history, not so long ago, when it wasn’t used by every musician on the block. Today it has turned into a trope and something that makes my skin crawl off the body. The second is those who feel compelled to alienate anyone by having few photos or any visual representation – arguing enigma and modesty are the keys to satisfying and ingratiating oneself to the listener. In an age of over-commercialisation and overconsumption: how can one assume this position with a straight face? The third, and least nagging qualm is to do with general information/disorganisation. You get artists neglecting to list all their music-sharing/social media links on their official page/Facebook. Sometimes, they have their Twitter handle but you have to do a search for all their other links. It is, at best, forgetful and irking; at worst, unprofessional and lazy. In terms of Heir, they have hurdled some potential obstacles. Aside from the fact their name, A) provokes hair/royalty-related puns – Heir apparent/Heir loss etc. – and, B) is a bit tricky narrowing on a search engine – ‘Heir’ would be too vague; ‘Heir band’ will bring up Hair-Metal bands; Heir Leeds might bring up Leeds barbers – they, at least can be located and have an intriguing single-syllable moniker. It is the other parts of the equation that please me.
They are intelligent and concise when talking about their music – they might have called one of their songs a ‘journey’, but I have not felt the need to cyber-slap them just yet. What really resonates is their organisation and professionalism. Their websites are all nice and clean and tidy. They have social media links together and make it easy to discover the full extent of their music/information. In terms of biography, there is a not on there and you get an insight into what makes them tick and where they have come from. Photos are all included and there is that important balance of exposure and concealment – never giving too much away but revealing enough to the potential journalist/listener. Again, many might say (being neglectful) is not a big problem. Flip that argument to the music itself and does the same question provoke a different reaction? To me, if you are bone-idle and ignorant with your music, people are not going to take you seriously. Music is as much about the visuals and promotion as it is the meat-and-bones. From my perspective, I want to learn about an artist and get an idea of who they are. I need their SoundCloud/YouTube links so look for that; a bit about where they are from and the kind of insights that compel reviews and interviews. If this is lacking then my attention-span and interest will wander elsewhere. Music is so completive you cannot afford to be negligent and assuming when trying to promote yourself. Heir have a distinct image and make-up that not only catches my eye but lets me into their camp. You feel included and the boys are all-too-keen to give a window into their creative mindset and recording history. By collating all the information together one gets an impression of a young band who are tooled-up for success.
I will move on to other topics but this, neater than usual, brings me to image and colours. I shall apply this argument to music but I love artists who think about the components and layers of their photos/images etc. With Heir, their previous E.P.s/singles have really interesting cover art. You get something that mixes cartoons and art: a pairing of youthfulness and seriousness. I know music is more important than artwork and images but, if you are offended or bored by, say, a single’s cover how likely are you to investigate further? People keep telling us, I think, we all have short attention-spans so you need to pull the listener in from the off. Heir provide brightness and a vivid colour palette. They ensure they, on social media, mix live photos with various shoots. It is a tried-and-tested formula that has not only seen them attract influential sites and D.J.s but recruit new fans. Their music is original and strong but, were they to be remiss in regards their images and information, I feel fewer people would be so invested. Again, you might say is it very subjective – being so obsessed with the complete package – but there is a correlation between artists who expend effort across the board and turnover. I see so many new acts give a couple of photos and nothing on their Facebook page’s information section. Surprise, surprise, they do not last long and struggle at the bottom of the pecking-order. On the musical Yellow Brick Road, the new musician must walk hand-in-hand with the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion: have the bravery, intelligence and heart (is that the right order?!) to take music seriously. If you are dumb enough to take the audience for mugs then you will fail. If you are not courageous enough to reveal a bit of yourself then, yes, you will fail. Also, if you do not show heart and compassion then people will not reciprocate. Heir take their role in music seriously and are being rewarded with affection and focus.
The guys have just released the E.P., When the Lights Went Out and launched it across BandCamp and social media – released through Jumbo Records and Crash Records, Leeds. It is this tie and affection or their native businesses that get me to my next topic: the music and people of Leeds. The powerful five-piece are comfortable in Yorkshire and feeding off the city’s reputation, spirit and landscape. We all know the classic/contemporary bands that have come from Leeds. Right now, alt-J are the city’s biggest exponents and showing why the Yorkshire hotspot is so lauded – that variation and mix of genres is something Leeds’ musicians share. Kaiser Chiefs, Pulled Apart by Horses and The Wedding Present comes from Leeds – as do Hope & Social. Borrowing some tips from https://www.fredperry.com/subculture/article-leeds-sound; I can see the sort of sounds that are being favoured in Leeds right now. Talk about great images and a captivating mix-up and Fizzy Blood come to mind instantly. Fizzy Blood’s I’m No Good was released at the tail-end of 2015 but, contrasting another one of theirs, Sweat and Sulphur, you have a terrific song(s) that show their range and diverse musical tastes. The band have a modern aesthetic but have not neglected the humble vinyl: a series of split seven-inch singles have been put out and they beautifully breed classic physicality with modern digitalisation whilst retaining plenty of heart and soul. One of the best images I have seen – on https://www.fredperry.com/subculture/article-leeds-sound – is the backstage image of The Velventeens. Not only do they have that ‘60s-sounding name but look the part. Beautiful, moody and youthful: you can stare at them, not in a creepy way, for a while. The mixed-gender, decades-straddling outfit have a great ‘60s core but – through support slots with The Spitfires – have reached big audiences and are making impressive steps. Edgar Duke are a Psych.-Funk-cum-Alternative mash-up that brings classic songwriting (comparisons to The Beatles have been made) and eye-catching song titles (Psychedelic Spaghetti Western stands out!) together.
The last few new bands to keep your peepers sharp for this year are Neon Dolls, Harkin and Dulahli. The former is an Indie-Rock quartet that has a mix of sleaze and please: they have registered with the local crowds and are one of those festival-ready bands. The middle-named band is, actually, the project of Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin. She is the fourth member of Sleater-Kinney and shows how adaptable and hard-working songwriter she is. Keep a watch on Harkin: one of those acts that are starting locally but have national potential. On that score; Dulahli proves, as if you didn’t know, Leeds has more variety than Rock and Indie. It is hard to categorise Dulahli but, as the name might suggest, there is a quirkiness and craziness – fizzes and bursts of Hip-Hop; Electro. Revelations and Post-Dub-Step kisses. The unnamed cocktail (Going Dulahli, maybe?) has caused a ripple of excitement in the press and music community. It seems obvious tackling a song as open for reinterpretation as Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. It such an iconic and picturesque song – even if Simon barely gets into double-figures when it comes to his abandoning-lover-in-a-variety-of-situations mandate. His version is, well, pretty special and something you should go and check out. That is just a flirtatious nod to the veritable Caligula-curated spank-fest that is the Leeds music scene. An organismic compendium of various-sized and shaped beauties are crafting music that is, to me at least, the equal of London’s best. Some of Leeds’ acts I have reviewed – the pink-and-blonde-haired humourous Pop of Jen Armstrong; the epic Rock of Allusondrugs (their frontman bears more than a passing resemblance to Kurt Cobain) – have been some of my reviewing highlights. I have never visited the city – a southern boy wearing a second layer in this kind of weather opens me up to derision, cutting barbs and sneered choruses of “You southern wuss!” I should bear it – and allow my cheeks to be tear-stained a bit – to get a grasp of the weight and magic of the local market.
If one had to list the five cities that define British music you might plump for London, Liverpool; Manchester, Glasgow and, Bristol, maybe? I feel Leeds should be near the summit of anyone’s rundown. I have listed a shakedown of Leeds past and present and those established and primed for mainstream entry fees approval. I want to talk about Heir and how their approach to Pop music is invigorating and inspiring but, before then, urge them to remain in Leeds. For most other places – those boring and dull areas outside the capital – I act as a locum for the immigration bureau or cultural attaché. It takes zero alcohol and few pokes in the eye socket for me to jump onto the London tourist panel. I do my best to steer artists to the city and get them to abandon home and hearth – pack the bags up and take in the sounds, sights and smells (some of which can strip the colour from your pupils with a single whiff) of the wonderful city. Anywhere other than Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool; I would always suggest an artist move to London. Being in Leeds, I feel Heir have the best of all worlds. Not only have their won the heart and dowries of the capital’s biggest movers-and-shakers but have a large and lucrative county at their feet. Not only is Yorkshire’s supernatural, wondrous panorama the stuff of classic literature – its music scene is busy and changes depending where you step. You cannot singularise the Yorkshire music scene on the basis of Leeds alone. It is a plural noun whose cuisine varies from town-and-city-to-village. The steel of Sheffield leaves a different taste to the vibes of Huddersfield, York and Bradford. After nibbling on those mouth-watering areas and you better have some gut-space for the heady dessert-notes of Kingston-upon-Hull and Ripon. In fact – I will steer this back to Heir in a second – but there is a fantastic commingling of antwacky (me dusting off The Big Book of Yorkshire Slang for Southern Numpties again) and gradley: plenty of curious snickets and aboon musicians. One of Yorkshire’s rightest new stars hails from Ripon: the oft-mentioning-on-these-pages beauty and songwriting excellence of Billie Marten (another pound in the ‘shameless name-dropping and obsessive rambling jar’).
I did say I’d detox from Marten but, in this case, she is a perfect figurehead that backs my argument up. She is from Ripon – I think she has moved away from there – but sounds apart from the sort of musicians coming from Sheffield, let’s say. Not only is Yorkshire God’s county (whether you believe in him or not – I don’t – that is) and she is a divine presence in the congregation of Yorkshire’s choir. Heir – told you I’d get back to them! – are quintessentially Leeds: lovers of modern Pop and Rock but with an ear for the older, often-underused sounds. The quintet’s succession to the Leeds throne (I’ll keep the heir-related puns to a minimum!) is starting and they are enthralling crowds in the city. In terms of Leeds venues; you have one of the best-regarded venues in the country, Brudenell Social Club. Bringing together eager newcomers and established acts: nestled in Hyde Park, it has been around over a century and looks set to preserve not only its four walls but the rich music scene of Leeds. I am not sure whether Heir has played there but it is a venue that would give them even more support and attention. On that theme, The Wardrobe (down St. Peter’s Square) has an underground gig space – a bar at the top of the two-tier venue – and is a great ‘warm-up’ spot for musicians – before stepping up to the bigger stages and louder crowds of arenas and festivals. Leeds University Union seems to have Heir written all over it. Down in Hirst’s Yard; one can sup a fine craft ale before grabbing some grub – enjoying a diverse portfolio of musicians for the price of an N.H.S. condom. I feel The Fox and Newt is a great spot the lads could thrive in as it is an old-fashioned boozer but one that is refined and has a certain dignity. They have stunning acts play in the intimate space. It is not the cliché vision of long-bearded middle-aged or pretentious hipsters: one gets a nice mix of ages and nationalities under the pub roof. Oporto, with that brilliant name (sound like a Shakespeare play that never was!), is situated down Call Lane and has a trendy vibe that brings club-nights, tribute acts and nationwide talent together. Big bands like Slow Club, Dutch Uncles and Glass Caves have enjoyed a hospitable evening at Oporto. A Pop band like Heir might feel slightly cowed by a venue like Santiago but they should not fear it. Down Grand Arcade, there are a range of independent shops/bars set alongside this up-and-coming whiskey bar. Frank Turner has popped in for more than a dram and it is another essential stop-off on the Leeds venue tour. I would like to see the Heir fivesome play there as I feel they’d get a really hearty reception. The same can be said of my favourite Leeds musical hang-out: the niftily-named Nation of Shopkeepers. I am sure Napoleon Bonaparte would turn his nose up at the sounds emanating the Cookridge Street joint – take grievance at the name and find his homunculus-self trampled under the weight of Yorkshire gig-goers and grub-seekers. I love the place because, since its 2009 opening, supported the likes of the XX. Two Door Cinema Club and Band of Skulls – Real Estate, James Blake and Spring King have rocked the venue to its foundations. If it is not for the Gallic Saint-Helena exiled kind then it is perfectly suited to those who want to check out the artists primed for great things. Because of that, I feel Heir would do well here – a venue they should invest in. In fact, Heir could do a tour of Leeds’ best venues and showcase why they are one of the city’s finest new prospects.
Just before I get down to Heir’s current and past music, I wanted to talk about how they tackle the Pop song and provide distinction. As I type this, I have heard a classis Folk/Pop track in (Carole King’s) It’s Too Late. Even back in 1971, when it was featured on Tapestry, that song was revered and dissected. It is such a gorgeous and heart-breaking thing – a song that has hope and lightness but gets to you with its sense of loss and regret. Not only do the lyrics touch you but you are, if you have ears, affected by the melodies and composition. The emotive, spine-tingling piano and guitar strings; that overriding sense of orchestration and grandeur; spliced and helically entwined around a pure, naked heart – one that beats unlike anything else. One could campaign, with a pretty strong argument, this song is about as flawless as you can get. If we look at modern Pop music, there are those who prefer the harmless, commercial brand – easy hooks, shallow lyrics and easy gratification – and those who yearn for something more adult, talented and wealthy. Heir put powerful harmonies and hooks with grit and organic songwriting. There is infectiousness and earworm-ready songs but that does not come at the expense of maturity and authority. The lads have, clearly, had a great musical education and, in songs like I’ll Pick You Up, brewed a heady and propriety mixer. There is vibrancy and cheer but a running current of wariness and gracefulness. I hope I get to the nub of the song (below) but see it as a perfect concoction in Pop. An historically survey of the genre sees mixed results and a clear evolution. I find the stench of the charts and tween demands still rules the roost. There is a faction of artists who pay no quarter to easily-digestible and throwaway Pop. Heir knows a certain accessibility and familiarity will see them gain popularity and acclaim but they do not compromise their ethics and own voices. One can take a song like I’ll Pick You Up, and decompose its levels. A savvy and exceptional band who take care to ensure their melodies, hooks and choruses are as striking and nuanced as their titles, middle-eights and vocals – you will not see this much thought and consideration in many of their peers’ songs.
Previous singles Scrapped Paper and Be Somebody gave me an insight into what Heir are all about. The former, one of their most-celebrated songs, begins with a jubilant and funky introduction. The song springs and scratches: that jump and direction gets into the head and summons up something summery and delightful. When the hero comes to the microphone, and the song progresses, our hero claims nothing has changed – the words are written on the page but nothing has altered. The guys know how to pen a cracking melody and open up a box of kaleidoscopic treats in the song. There are high falsetto notes and dreamy swathes; it breezes and presses. Whilst the composition has a sunshine vibe and recalls classic 1960s Pop; the lyrics paint something a little less satisfied. That scrapped piece of paper is being thrown away like a meaningless thing. That relationship they have, as she drinks across the table with friends, seems disposable and meaningless. It is an original and unexpected look at love and affection – no clichés and lazy lines employed. The entire song gets into the mind and is perfect for festival-goers and those who want something escapist but meaningful. It is a more taut and tight song than Scrapped Paper but has that same dynamic. What we have is a song that looks at defiance and success – a man who stands in a forest clearing and is determined to prove people wrong and find his way – tied with an uplifting and spirited composition. The boys show how tight and together they are. Each performer is incredible throughout and brings depth and emotion to the song. It is a great companion to Scrapped Paper and one that could easily fit alongside Be Somebody on an E.P. Both naturally lead to I’ll Pick You Up and it shows, even over three tracks, how far the guys have come and how consistent they are. Throw in the terrific All Comes Down and When the Lights Went Out and you have a series of songs that show where the Leeds band have come from – just how developed and professional they sound already.
I’ll Pick You Up is the latest cracker from the quintet and a song I was keen to jump on. Although, in the South, the sun is reluctant to come out; the guys project a veritable summer smile with their latest song. The song’s heroine is watching the headlights approach and seems to be the proverbial rabbit. There is a feeling of disorientation and being lost. Maybe she is losing her way or, in a literal sense, has fled and looking for sanctuary. Our man is at the microphone and sees all this unfolding. He knows the heroine has had some hard times and is in a bad place. If you take it as metaphor; perhaps the girl is struggling to find happiness and maybe not as spirited as once she was. One of the problems with Heir’s previous tracks was a certain lack of clarity. Maybe it is the production values here or a conscious step from the boys but the lyrics are much easier to understand and the song seems less cluttered – previous songs have seen intelligibility as an issue. Here, everything is clear and punchy: you are never struggling to hear what is said and, as such, you fully appreciate what is happening. Putting myself in the story, we hear about the girl’s ambitions: she wants to see the day flowers crack through the pavement. It is another powerful image that really expresses a sense of loss and need. The girl is ambitious and hopeful but has seen too much pain and disappointment. Even in the earliest stages, I am wondering what the origin of the song is. Perhaps the heroine has experienced a bad break-up and is reluctant to trust another man. Maybe she is battling self-doubts or feeling like the world is against her. It is rare to see a male band change perspectives and assesses the world from a woman’s point of view. Previous tracks have cast blame at reluctant and disloyal lovers but here there is a sense of empathy and guardianship.
The literal and metaphorical are explored in the following verse. Our man will drive the girl where she needs to go if needs be – get away from things and find somewhere safer. He will lift her spirits and, if her body weakens, one feels he will carry her to a peaceful place. It is a charming and vivid set of images that come to mind. What I love about the song is the fact the composition and vocal have that vibrant nature and luminous nature. In a way, I am reminded of Everything Everything. The Leeds band has the same sort of accelerated vocal and original presentation – some faster lines and unique annunciation; punctuation and pauses when needed. The composition has that nimble and colourful quality: the bass and guitars have groove and pace but plenty of command and control. The percussion keeps the back straight and drives the song forward. All of these elements together and one gets a real burst of character and life. You engross yourself in the song and the story unfolding. In terms of production; I get hints of 1970s Funk and 1990s R&B. It is an alluring combination that mixes sexiness and strut with smoothness and caramel notes. You get colour and light; there is a whole range of different emotions and possibilities working together in the song. The hero sees the leaves fall – forming a perfect, golden blanket – and he wants to take the girl somewhere silence is the only sound. Playing the part of the saviour and hero: I got a real sense of a man who, although not romantically involved with the girl, has a great depth of feelings for her. The drums are never compressed which gives them open license to invent and roam. Similarly, the bass jumps and races; it is a superb performance that gives I’ll Pick You Up so much quality. Our hero is taking the girl with him and getting away from the city. The band support his plight with their most impressive and fully-rounded performance so far. It shows how much confidence is in the band and how much this song means to them – an inspired track that finds each of the five members at their peak.
I don’t mean this in a detrimental way but the boys could well see songs like I’ll Pick You Up used in shows like Made in Chelsea. Whilst it would not be suitable for scoring a depressing conversation of love or another first-world argument; it could perfectly suit a sunny and scenic scene of London – as the camera tracks across Chelsea and the blend of expensive and luscious. Maybe that is not something they have their minds on but their latest track suits that kind of situation. It is a track with a great commercial appeal but one that does not conform to the charts and mainstream. I’ll Pick You Up is a lot stronger than anything being produced by the mainstream Pop elite. There is that addictive quality that will have you coming back to the song time and time again. It is an episodic song that goes from the opening scene – the girl hoping for goodness and positivity – whilst the hero comes and promises support. They then see the light and the sun start to shine in the final stages. It comes full-circle and is a fantastically realised and penned song. So much thought has gone into the structure and lyrics. You are invested and find so much to recommend. There is depth and accessibility alongside some fantastic single lines and a chorus that gets into the head and will not lodge. Likewise, the boys are brilliant in terms of the sonic sights they project. Each player complements and supports one another but there are moments when each step into the spotlight. I love the silky and punchy bass; the percussion is constantly energised and funky whilst the guitars switch from jumping and fizzy to scintillatingly sexual. Our hero gives a wonderful vocal performance that shows compassion and pride. He is not trying to make a move or be crude: offering a shoulder to the girl and a way out of her despondency. Put everything into the pot and you have a fantastic song that is likely to be the centrepiece of any forthcoming E.P. from the Leeds band.
PHOTO CREDIT: Portia Hunt
There are a lot of festivals and big events coming up and I am looking forward to seeing how Heir fit into the fold. They will, no doubt, have festival commitments but I’m not sure to what extent. Based in Leeds – I shall get back to my earlier point soon – they have a lot of great venues on their doorstep. I have given a guide as to the best venues around the city. Let’s hope the guys take full advantage of all the wonderful spaces they have available and get that live experience coming in. They do not need my guidance and recommendation as they have already compelled some big stations and decision-makers. In a huge and unpredictable band market; there is no hard-and-fast rule how to succeed and what you need to offer. In Heir’s terms, it is their incredible live performance and instant songs that do the work. I know the band have blown away crowds lately and seem to be getting better with each performance. They revel in the adulation from the audience and vibe from the sparks and excitement of live gigs. I’ll Pick You Up is the third single from the Leeds rhinos and has the band producing alongside Harrison Stanford. Being in an infant state, there are certain limitations and inevitabilities for Heir. They cannot command the biggest stages just yet and must rely on the local circuit for that experience and exposure. Fortunately, they are in a great city and appealing to those who want a fresh and exciting Pop band. It is no surprise they have got into the hearts of so many gig-goers. Heir’s performance already has that professional quality and there is a great connection between the lads. I guess they will be looking to get an E.P. out and building on the tracks they have already released. Each of their releases has been met with positivity so there will be high demand for an E.P. or album. Right now, Heir will want to exploit the festivals and get themselves around the country. Although they are picking up steam and acclaim in Yorkshire; one wonders whether other parts of the U.K. would highlight. It seems London would be a natural ambition for them. In terms of Heir’s music; I can think of quite a few venues that would be interested. It is both exciting and busy for the band. They are new so have to prove themselves but have the enthusiasm and determination to play to as many people as possible. The reception they have received thus far vindicates and compensates the hard graft and impressive work ethic.
PHOTO CREDIT: Portia Hunt
I’ll wrap things up by coming back to some earlier themes: the music and venues of Leeds; Pop’s potential and getting the best out of the genre; artists that expend the effort to ensure their faces, music and information is readily available. Leeds’ reputation for world-class, original music is in no dispute. I feel the media pays insufficient attention to the city and should refocus its priorities. I guess I say this about every area overlooked in favour of London. Yorkshire is such a large and fascinating county and is providing some of Britain’s best new music. I have always had an affection for Leeds and the terrific artists it produces. Once again throwing a nod to https://www.fredperry.com/subculture/article-leeds-sound – or ripping its clothes off with my teeth, driving it through the duvet like a ballistic missile and having a nifty fag whilst I run for a taxi – and there are even more Leeds treasures who are going to be climbing the ladder this year. The Barmines – the city sure knows how to produce well-named bands – have a sentimentality for Britpop that is less wistful and more retro. They have played alongside The Feeling and, in big statements like These Days and Nights, know how to pen a song that burrows into the consciousness and sets up camp. A bliss-violent contrast of Happy Daggers is, in a way, reflected in their music – except the daggers are stabs of Disco funk and jive. They are a slick and danceable band that, like I said earlier, take older themes and give them a modern shine. The Mexanines have already played Kendal Calling, Kazoopa and a variety of impressive gigs. They are a Leeds band that have carved a loyal fanbase and are drawing in new acolytes with every gig. The same can be said of The Dangerhounds: a band I am very familiar with. Having reviewed and spoken with frontman Adam Hume many times; I can attest, without bias, how strong the band is. They have been around since 2015 and their exceptional Big Bad Wolf is not as snarling and oppressive as the name suggest. Pure Pop nuggets and big choruses sit with exceptional electricity and a tightness bands twice their age lack.
Young Amphibians – again – behold the naming chops! – have a big Radiohead love that mix’s a bit of Kanye West. Their track Pablo’s Honey is, essentially Radiohead’s debut with Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo horned into the second syllable. Perhaps the origin is not that obvious but it is a great title for a song: they have replicated this with bangers Please Remove the Plastic and End of Today, Start of Tomorrow. The former can rival The Bends’ (Radiohead’s peerless sophomore album) for its guitar intricacies and intricacies. Leeds groups/artists know how to stand out and have a good ear for pollination, original sounds and eye-catching names. A song like Please Remove the Plastic get you wondering where the plastic is being removed from – all sorts of images and scenarios fill the mind. Depending on your mindset it can range from innocent (peeling the protective plastic of an iPhone) or regretfully dragging the sofa covering from your incontinent nan’s favourite sitting spot. It is easy to fall for a band – or at least be intrigued to stick your head around the smoke-filled, soothing sound-emitting doorway – and take them to heart. That is something a lot of new acts ignore. I hear so many samey and predictable song titles. You would be shocked how unimaginative and mindless some artists are: conversely, there are plenty who have the wisdom to stand from the crowd and show some imagination. Heir are part of this group and ensure every branch of their musical family tree is genealogically sound. There is a lot to think about when you start in music. I have compared the whole process to a business plan because that is, in essence, what music is: it is a business that rewards the most intrepid and entrepreneurial. Getting that mission statement right is key: why you are in music and how you will stand out. Whilst things like profit-and-loss sheets and inventory budgets might sound boring but they are all essential considerations. Bands think images are not important and people are capable of finding the social media links by themselves. If you give the listener too much ‘responsibility’ it not only shows a lack of credibility and promise but a disregard for music and those you are charged with winning over. Like a bank or business partner: potential fans are only going to tolerate so much bulls*** before they look at a more profitable and professional option.
Heir are no mugs and know this going in. Not only have they got a cool, if a slightly Google-unfriendly name, but they have cool single artwork and a real regard for colour, image and texture. This parallels their music which takes Pop’s classic and contemporary highs and melts it into an alcohol-drug-food cocktail that pleases all the senses – I shall finish this illicit and illegal-sounding sentiment soon. Essentially, the Leeds quintet has put huge effort into their music: not just the sounds and getting that right but ensuring they cater to the casual shopper or those who look for real depth and attention to detail. Those who are reluctant to appreciate the need for a full and illustrative social media spread are those lucky to survive long-term. I shall end this by talking about Pop’s contortion and modern malleability – with childhood remembrances – and how Heir are breathing life and colour into the genre. I feel people like me get into music and consecrate our existence to it because of how it can surprise you. If you turn the radio on and hear the same kind of artists doing the same thing; after a while, it can be a depressing thing to hear. When a song/artist arrives that offers something different and unexplained: that is what music is all about. I’ll end this by talking about Heir’s approach to Pop but, as a slight detour, how important originality and revelation is. My introduction to music can, conceivably, be traced back to a childhood birthday. A friend at the time, Jeff – who was born in the same hospital as me on the same day – bought me, as we exchanged gifts, a copy of The Wind in the Willows. It was the first ‘grown-up’ book I received and, with the turn of the page, opened my eyes to characters, fantasy and charm. Years later, I look back at that time and realise, subconsciously perhaps, that spark and realisation was my mind opening to new and daring things – that intense passion for music followed shortly after. Around that time, literature involved again, we had a school day where various teachers (in various cabins around the school/playground) were reading from a different book. Each child could, say, go from a reading of Swallows and Amazons and then, when finished, hop along to a new cabin and hear passages from Winnie the Pooh.
It may seem inconsequential but that, along with that birthday parable, connects the dots that is my music make-up. In the same way I can draw a line through those experiences – to where I am now – I can confidently state that sort of eye-opening experience is becoming rarer. Technology and advancements make it harder and harder to truly nourish and expand a young mind. In music, how easy is it to open a new world to someone who has the entire world at the click of a mouse bar? There is a lot of weight to the argument around technology and social media: is it making us lazier and less connected; perhaps more informed and blessed. Music-wise, artists are feeling this hard: many unable to speak to a new listener and recruit effectively. Heir know it is a Herculean task appealing to those whose attention spans and tastes are limited and capricious. What they do is effortlessly mix older, classic Pop sounds and those favoured by the mainstream. Their colourful artwork and bright personalities is backed by music that puts a smile on the face but makes you think. There is definite depth in their sound: people will listen and take something away from each song. This is personified in I’ll Pick You Up. It has a certain briskness and spirit but, listen closely, and it reveals something unexpected and wise. The boys do not copy everyone else and aim for the charts: what they provide are actual, mature songs that aim for broader minds and true music fans. Maybe it will take time to fully connect with the younger audiences but they are making big strides thus far. When they do manage to do this – a few singles down the line, maybe – they will get bigger gigs and festival appearances around the nation. When that does happen, that is when…
THINGS get really good.
PHOTO CREDIT: Portia Hunt