Posts Tagged ‘anthemic’

Fierce Panda Records – 2nd July 2021 

Blackpool’s Jekyll – like so many up-and-coming bands – have seen their momentum, largely driven by hard-gigging to build a grassroots fanbase, hit a brick wall since last March, but their first release of 2021 looks set to launch them on a huge leap forward, not least of all because it comes with the backing of cult indie label Fierce Panda.

On first listen, it seems like a palatable mid-pace indie-rock anthem, but even before the fade, it becomes apparent that there’s more to it than that.

The story goes that ‘Tear Ourselves in Two’ was initially conceived to counter-balance one of Jekyll’s earlier tracks ‘Mania’ (which comes on like the criminally underrated and much-missed The Cooper Temple Clause) and it’s hard to resist the urge to make some reference to them as a band with two sides to their musical personality, but that would be obvious and rather lame. Oops, I did it again.

As ‘The Wounds We’ve Ignored’ demonstrated, Jekyll don’t only dig Muse, but dig deep emotionally and touch some pretty uncomfortable spots, and this is no exception. The lyrically dark ‘Tear Ourselves In Two’ has hints of many other songs, all stitched seamlessly together to conjure a simultaneous sense of familiarity and familiarity and freshness – as you struggle and strive to dredge the depths of your memory to decipher what it is it reminds you of, you come to realise that ultimately it doesn’t matter. Then again, on maybe the third or fourth listen – and it’s that much of an earworm, it hits that it’s a bit Pulp meets Mansun meets The Cinematics – and that their knack for bold, string-swept audiography is immensely powerful.

‘Tear Ourselves In Two’ is, quite simply, a corking tune and one that just gets better with every play.

26th March 2021

James Wells

‘Quiet down – you’re just a voice inside my head,’ sings Tom Farrelly, presenting the crossover between the internal / external monologue that we play out to ourselves. Even when sanity threatens to slip and we find ourselves talking to ourselves, we pull ourselves back with a good talking to. Strangely, there is no contradiction here.

Is ‘I A Fire’ as deep and meaningful as it is anthemic, or is it simply a fortunate lyrical stab that hits a certain level of resonance in verses that exist as much as anything to fill the space and provide a bridge from one chorus to the next? Benefit of the doubt says that this is a genuinely soul-searching moment of introspection that’s found its way into one of the biggest, most stadium-friendly tunes I’ve heard from any act, let alone a new one on the scene, in a long time.

Comparisons to the likes of The Killers and U2 are entirely warranted, but ‘I A Fire’ equally calls to mind the early noughties, and the emergence of Coldplay and Keane, before they came to represent the face of drab musical conservatism and instead marled the arrival of a new breed of acts who placed great emphasis on songwriting and the conveyance of emotion. More than anything though, something about this – and not the title – suggests that ‘I A Fire’ could – and should – be Third Lung’s ‘Sex on Fire’, their breakthrough moment. It ought to be.

Third Lung Artwork

19th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

After a few months out, Richard Fox (lead guitar, bass guitar, keys, producer) and Gavin Connolly (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano), aka Arcade Fortress return with the first taster for a new album in the form of ‘Sabotage’ – their first new material since the album Create More than You Destroy last September.

The first point of note is that this most definitely isn’t a cover of the Beastie Boys’ hit. This is a good thing, because you shouldn’t mess with perfection, and should always instead strive to create your own.

‘Sabotage’ is all about self-sabotage and self-doubt: the first verse is littered with images of war and combat, from naval battles to machine gun fire, before bringing things in closer to home, presenting an inner turmoil that melds domestic abuse with a n altogether more Fight Club themed feel, where all the torment and self-loathing coalesces into a harsh-inward facing nihilism and self-loathing:

‘In an abusive relationship with myself / It’s surprisingly hard to remove / This knife from my back / Stuck in my spine because of / My own frenzied attack’, sings Gavin over a sonic backdrop that builds nicely from a sparse picked guitar jangle to a fully-realised anthemic beast of a tune.

There’s nothing particularly fancy about it: it’s not innovative or unusual, but it’s a big tune with a big feel. There is simply no substitute for a killer chorus and a strong hook, and that’s precisely what Arcade Fortress bring here.

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Sabotage artwork

Christopher Nosnibor

Daily, I read about how the current situation is affecting bands, and, indeed, every aspect of the music industry. That said, it’s always the grass roots and lower echelons who are hardest hit, as is the case in any kind of crisis. Major-league artists will always be ok as gong as there are radio stations to play their stuff and produce a steady flow of royalties, and their millions of fans continue to stream their songs endlessly online. Beyoncé, Bono, and Ed Sheeran aren’t going to starve under lockdown.

But bands who rely on gigs in pubs alongside other bands who rely on gigs in pubs to find a fanbase and maybe flog enough merchandise to cover their fuel between said gigs have nothing to fall back on.

Sleep Kicks’ story is by no means unique, but they way they tell it as they present their new single really brings it home:

The whole live music scene shut down less than two weeks after our debut single came out. Instead of doing gigs and rehearsals, we just kept going, working on our own with a handful of songs we had recorded. Mixing, videos, artwork – the lot. We suddenly realised that one of the songs happened to describe this weird situation, and the feeling we somehow knew we would have once this whole thing was over. In short, the soundtrack to coming out of urban lockdown. It turned out an epic ode to the city, and at least it helped ourselves keeping the spirits up during the bleak times!

With ‘Recovery’, the Norwegian quartet paint scenes of an empty world springing back to life, and the difficulties of the prospect of readjustment.

A rolling rhythm and chiming guitar pave the way for a strolling bass motif and they coalesce into a spacious, reflective soundscape that sits between A-Ha, Editors, and mid-80s U2 and Simple Minds. Things kick up a notch and even nod toward anthemic around the mid-point of this six-and-a-half minute epic, before blossoming fully for a mesmerising final minute, where it soars on every level as they cast their eye to a brighter future: not the chalk-drawn rainbow on the pavement featured on the cover art, but a life of fulfilment, a re-emergence from the stasis of the now to actually living, rather than merely existing.

For a ‘little’ band, they have a big, ambitious sound that’s also got big audience potential. Here’s hoping they fulfil it.

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28th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a question many of us ask at some time or another – usually in the face of some existential crisis, or moment of isolated reflection. Because really, what’s the point? We’re only born to die, with a short period punctuated by pain and occasional glimmers of joy in a desert of drudge that consists largely of working (if you’re ‘lucky’) and sleeping (again, if you’re ‘lucky’). We’re but specks in an infinite universe and about as useful as cockroaches, only more damaging to the environment.

With this single, Airport Impressions get ponderous against a spacious sonic backdrop, where an understated bass leads the verses, which break into an immense swell of a chorus that’s unquestionably anthemic, even arena-scale, but without pomp or pretence. ‘Why Are We Here?’ has clear commercial appeal but without in any way being dumbed-down or numbingly bland. And that’s surely a winning formula, and at least answers the question of why Airport Impressions are here.

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