'Same Without You'
It's that combination of voice, music, and subsequent augmentation that sends the song over the edge.
Availability: 'Same Without You' is available via http://soundcloud.com/jingomusic/same-without-you
It's not a valedictory speech; more of a pre-sabbatical review ...
as I search around for new and exciting songs, and deal with things close to home. I hope to be singing the praises of a new song, and or band, by Tuesday, but for now, I am excited to be inspecting a band, I have been fascinated by, since getting a hold on their track IQ84. That has been bouncing around my brain for a while, and my faith has been cemented and has not been inculpated, since. I will return to the band in a little while. For now it is worth returning my focus to the matter of bands and their relative quality and ambition. There is something oddly ''The Hound of the Baskervilles'-like, with regards to the music business. It appears that every time the innocent citizens are rested and relaxed in their world; contextually the good-natured music lover is contented with the band scene, something arrives that terrorises and strikes fear; whether that is a metaphysical beast of market force or an enforced burden of commercialisation; or it is a certain band(s), that arrive, and leave their stench all over the place. I have been tasked with reviewing a fair few bands over the past month. I am always impressed by the depth and conviction of the music. It is clear that the respective members all take very seriously what they are doing; as well as have an intimate knowledge and respect for the business; thus they are capable of enforcing their own style, as well as integrating colours to the palette that the public will find pleasing. It is that last point that grind my gears, somewhat. It is wise, I suppose to fit some way of 'fitting in' with the current scene; although that often comes at the expense of individuality and original thought. Bands- and indeed many solo artists- seem hell-bent on creating a recapitulating of an existing or defunct band, that they come off as a second-rate tribute. I have heard several groups lately whom have put forth some impressive and conquering songs; riff-heavy, sharp and powerful, with all the right intrigue and swing to it. There is one big problem: it has already, largely, been. The second I have heard some songs, I have been able to detect other bands so clearly, it is as though I am listening to a 'lost track' of theirs. Some groups or acts manage to stray from the path of mimicry, but suffer from an equally inexplicable faux pas: predictability. I know where the lyrics are heading; where the music is going to take us, and ultimately, where I have heard it before. It is reserved for a select few that I proffer the following adjective: barn-storming. Colloquial, yes, but prescient. They have included HighFields, The Open Feel, as well as Dead Sea Navigators: two bands I was amazed by; in no short part due to their bold and exciting sound, not concerned with sounding like anyone else; instead dominating an under-valued patch of land, where few have broken ground. That's not to say I haven't been hugely gripped by every band I've reviewed- I have, and feel no need to exaggerate or give false praise; it is just my brain looks for and loves new and different.
I reviewed Jingo a little while ago, and was genuinely impressed and in awe of their original sound. I would never cheapen the mood by saying their music was jingoistic (although I may have in the review, thinking about it), but there was a strong sense that in a non-political sense, they were pervading a strong national identity and passion, as well as a disregard for any bland or uninspiring compatriots. It is the combination of playful publicity photos (part Presidents of the United States of America; part Pixies), that gives them a very credible air of relatability. Like Fleetwood Mac it is the combination of U.K. and U.S. band members and close kinship, that makes the group memorable and solid. Katie Buckett is the sole American, and in charge of keys, vocals and guitar and is married to Jack, whom is also on vocals and guitar. In no ways a Mick Fleetwood, is Joseph Reeves. The band are fairly newly-formed (they are 4 months old), and at the moment, are building a steady fan-base. They are quite self-deprecating in relation to their appeal, and are fun and good-humoured. It is rare to see a band display these qualities, as most get caught up in being all serious/nervous; afraid that if you smile or do not compare yourself to the greatest artists of all time, then people will not bother listening to your music. It is clear that the fledgling group are going to big and unexpected places; they sure are making big waves with only a couple of songs and have a keen observation and realisation of how they can fit in and show other groups how to go about things. As I settled down to listen to 'Same Without You', I was expecting a cinematic treat...
There is a familiar, solid opening in the song. The piano is dark and a little heavy; there are hints of Beethoven and a lot of the romantic composers. There is a bit of 'Moonlight Sonata' in the tones, and at once evocations of a romantic night and starry skies. In a contemporary sense, maybe it a sound that the likes of Elton John sometimes employ, as well as a truncated and slowed-down sound of the likes of U Say USA. The vocal that elicits emotion, is suitably classic and heart-warming. There are tones of blues legends such as Billie Holiday in Katie's voice. It is a little Madeleine Peyroux; a touch of Joan Wasser, too. It is style of vocals and sound that is much unheard of today, mostly reserved for U.S. solo artists. Although as Katie is American it is perhaps unsurprising. Peyroux is from Georgia; Wasser from Connecticut. Both are along the eastern coasts, and perhaps is a style of vocal that has been picked up or influenced by the villages and jazz and coffee clubs of New York. Anyway, the point is that it is a stunning and calming voice. One that hinges the black blues women, with that of modern-day jazz and soul. The lyrics have scenes and scores of the '50s and '60s; all smoky siren and street-lit avenues: "What if I called your bluff..." and "Please don't lie to me", are early cuts, and paint the picture of a woman who has either been wronged and is seeking validation, or is in search of honest. Before you have a chance to let your thought wander to the alleys of a U.S. city, where there is black and white sensuality and a variegated tension, there is a sonic kick that takes decisions out of your hands, and controls your hands and thoughts. The piano skips and bounces, as an echoed reverb lingers and vibrates, as the percussion waits, watches and kicks when needed. The tricolour of audio innovation has a baroque/pop sensibility. In the same way Rufus Wainwright is able to expertly tie in blues, jazz, pop and classical influences, and create an intriguing symphonic punch, Jingo do the same, albeit it more brooding. The passage continues for a fair few seconds, creating its own gravity and momentum, and takes its time to capture you. There is no need to fill every second with lyrics; the band know that it is just as important to project beautiful music in order to create a stunning effect. When it subsides, it is told that our heroine "never made you feel sad". The voice becomes harder and stronger, showing all of its lungs as a crescendo is unleashed. Katie possesses a similar belt and force as Adele; you can practically sense the hordes of record label bosses running towards the band, with a wardrobe, hair scissors and cosmetics in hands, perhaps thinking they have a U.S. Adele on their hands. Unlike our countrywoman, Jingo's feminine tones posses a subtlety and consequential soul that has been sadly lacking from a lot of Adele's recent numbers. In spite of all the pertinent and heartfelt words; imploring questions and contorted emoticons, whether it is a good or a bad thing, our heroine is "the same without you". Past the 1:30 mark, there is a clattering and dance of guitars, percussion, with bits of Muse in there (before they started phoning it in). It is at once foreboding and heavy, but also melodic and planted firmly on Earth. It is another shape-shift and takes your consciousness to another place, once more. Lesser acts may plump for a steady and rigid composition that conveys the emotion through a linear mood and doctrine, that seems a little too anxious to change course or be adventurous. It is the pioneering and playfulness that the band readily posses, that also does wonders where their music is concerned. It is that transferable quality that adds emphasis and credence to an already gripping song. The track mutates into a skiffling and shuffling jazz/swing little number- but the vocal is still powerful and impassioned- as the piano punctuates sternly; around it, a motivating and searching juggernaut is unleashed. As our heroine says that "I am trying to stay true", the accompanying composition, tied in to the audio of the previous 10 seconds or so, reminded me of the adventurous and bending philosophy of Bjork. The Icelandic princess is constantly capable of dragging you to dark and magical woods, where fairies and monsters cohabit with little qualm. She also- sometimes with David Arnold- creates sweeping and emphatic sound-scapes that are bristling with introverted passion and Brothers Grimm scares. In a similar and prudent way, Katie's voice has a touches of 'Debut' and 'Vespertine' Bjork; youthful and sweet, yet capable of ripping your head clean off if you push her too far. It is quite electrifying. As the chorus ends again, there is an echoed vocal; as though we have reached the rooftop and through a bullhorn, our heroine is shouting her message, not just to her disgraced beau; but to anyone else who is within an ear's reach. He is not within sight, and with amplification a second thought, the operatic and full-bodied passion is back. The voice crackles, rips and tears asunder as there is a trickling and flailing guitar weave, that to my ear had some traces of Jack White. Think solo album, mixed with the majesty unveiled during his 'Get Behind Me Satan'/'Icky Thump' regency. I smelt a flavour of Steely Dan in there as well circa-'Can't Buy a Thrill'. It is a most unexpected sonic diversion, and again adds a layer of U.S. influence to the melting pot. Bits of Santana, Slash and Clapton are heard in the D.N.A. as the sound of piano comes in. Instead of being romantic a hand is run across the keys with verve, as a ghostly and unstoppable snowball hurtles towards the village. Holmes and Watson can stop looking for a strange beast, as it seems that the hurtling ball of impending doom is going to cause instant catastrophe. The guitar gives out cries and anguished yelps, as the drum beats with vermilion fury, never out of control, but keeping a very sharp and mythologised spine. Katie comes in to restore some semblance, as she lets it be known that she is the same without her man (not Jack, obviously). The chaos abates, and a lilting and romantic piano ends the track, and brings sunshine to the stormy and harsh night, previous.
No bones remain in the ravaged and picked carcass of emotion and mood, and no bones about the fact that it is one of the most impressive new songs I have heard in a long while. There are some hints and patterns of other artists in bits of the song, but it is the fresh originality of all of the elements that gives the song a credible and fantastic edge. No one player is the star of the show. Katie demonstrates a huge vocal range and prowess; capable of switching from a mannered restraint, through to an emotional and powerful belt. There is no needless posturing or ululation: she is filled with genuine passion and conviction. Jack demonstrates an ability to be able to create a calm mood, that keeps the song level one moment, and at the next he can infuse a sense of electricity and danger into the mix; able to whip up a storm with his guitar. Joseph shows some real power and panache when armed with sticks. He can bolster and avalanche, as well as keep a steady and dedicated beat. This, couple with intelligent and memorable lyrics, brews together beautifully and provides an intoxicating and over-powering kick.
I have been impressed by the band since I heard '1Q84', and was compelled to keep an eye and an ear out for the group. Although they are young, and still looking for fans, followers and ears, it will be a matter of when, not if, based on the evidence. They are incredible songwriters, who are forging a path to uncharted and still waters, where few other bands or acts are daring to sail. In a scene and set where there is an undeniable sense of 'playing it safe' and keep to a rather muted and unambiguous sound, it is quite frankly about time that a group comes along, and has a sound of a classic era- '60s and '70s U.S. and U.K.- and shines the rough edges, whilst injecting a lot of modern gleam and fashion. Regardless of your musical political tastes; whether it be to the left, and quite conservative, or more right-wing: intense and rebellious, or somewhere in the middle-ground, then there is no need to fear, as it is an ubiquitous and universal sound that can unite any balkanised clans. And for any undecided voters or fence-sitters, unsure of what sort of music should be lodged within their brain for 2013. It is definitely fair to say Jingo should be near the top- if not at the top of- your list. They may be in their infancy; absorbing sounds, sights and smells. But as undervalued or under-subscribed as they may be at this moment in time; they...
... will be familiar to a lot more ears, very soon.