Sky Larkin- Motto- Track Review


Sky Larkin







Track Review













The Leeds four-piece have a wide and building fan-base; and have the sound to ensure a dedicated and long-term glory.








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IT is, reliably once more, that the subject of my attention returns...


to the north, and Leeds. It is hardly surprising, given how much talent I have been reviewing from here. In fact, Yorkshire as a whole, has been producing a hell of a lot of wonderful new music recently. I suppose, given the size of the county, it is unsurprising. It is London, that of course, has the greatest wealth, and concentration of potential stars, yet seem to be falling behind, with regards to proffering future talent. I explained previously, that the reason Yorkshire may be surging ahead, is a lack of distraction. In the busier cities, there is such a bustle and stress, that there is either the temptation to project and produce music that reflects this; or a lot of potential gets subjugated and suppressed, with artists finding it hard to express themselves truly. It is perhaps not a coincidence, that the best and most refreshingly open music I have experienced, has originated from calmer, and less polluted climbs. From the outskirts of L.A., through to Scotland and Brighton, it seems that where there is sea air, floral life, and a general air of relaxation; this is where the biggest musical potential lies. Of course Leeds is quite a busy city; not to the extent of London, but still there is a shoulder-deep concentration of commuters and general populous. There seems to be an opposing theology amongst the citizens here, that differs from that of London. In London, there is a distinct self-obsession; a little lack of sociability, and- due to the sheer number of people- a difficulty in establishing any nature of personal space or long-term relaxation. Leeds does not suffer a similar quagmire. It is busy, but there is a great personalisation and openness amongst the residence; this in turn creates an overall (comparative) good-natured spirit. When there is less hassle, and perhaps less pressure from the media to conform and supersede expectation, it is a lot easier to make music you want to, in your own time, and, importantly, songs that are superior in quality. I'm given to thinking this theory is not hokum, or a faulty algorithm at all. It is scarcely a coincidence that the best music I have heard in the last month, has, by and large, arrived away from the capital; away from the traffic, the hassle, and the sheer chaos. Humans require a balance of human interaction and personal space, in order to evolve at the best rate; the busy city streets are not conducive to this end. Yorkshire offers this balance, and importantly, there is a simultaneous space and friendly network of musicians; each willing to help one another out. This fraternal lack of selfishness and consideration, is the explanation behind the sensation. My hypothesis was given further credence, but a recent discovery.


Sky Larkin, are: Kate, Nile, Nestor, and Sam. They have been purveying their blend of golden music for quite a few years now; and have not put a step wrong or dropped pace since. There is a tight-lipped mystery with regards to biography. On the social media pages, they simply state: TOUR NOT BORE, with regards to explaining where they come from, who they are, and where they are going. They have a clear desire to be seen and heard but as many people as possible, and let their music do as much of the talking, as possible. Their latest single was 'canned' in Seattle (the natural home for Grunge music), and inspired by their native Yorkshire; showcasing a transatlantic appeal, reach and popularity. Their personal website is a mass of striking and endearing photography, key and detailed facts and information, and a wealth of up-to-date blogs, tour dates and tidbits for fans and casual followers, alike. They take the business of music and promotion very seriously; noticing how essential it is to not only produce stunning music, but offer professional and informative websites, in order to intrigue and keep fans dedicated. The band have been recording a fair bit in Seattle, since their formation in 2005. Their debut E.P. featured cover versions; yet songs many bands would usually not be aware of, or touch. They made the switched to the American-named, but U.K. based label Wichita Recordings. One of the band members, Katie, has been performing recently with one of my all-time favourite bands Wild Beasts. I am a huge fan of their lead's (Hayden Thorpe) voice, and the groups intelligence and stunning range of sounds and moves. Given that Bloc Party are on Sky Larkin's label, you get the sense that this band are serious contenders- whether you are aware of them or not. That, in fact, brings me to another point: promotion and awareness. In my unofficial day job of music reviewer, I am responsible for furthering and highlighting specific bands. The issue I have, is that it is harder to find the groups in the first place, compared with any difficulty with regards to reviewing and promotion. For a band as established and stellar as Sky Larkin, I was only really aware of them, as recently as a few weeks ago. I am always at a loss as to why it is so difficult coming across such talented bands. There is too much serendipity and anemic networking, when pertaining to discovering new talent. Social media seems to be a contradiction in terms and a bit of an oxymoron. I do hope that the worrying trend will reverse itself very soon, as I have been blown away (sorry- music cliche, I know), by the Yorkshire trio's sounds and ambition, and sad that I have missed out on so many years and songs- I have been making up for it, this week, however. Their new single, is what we are hear to discuss.


To begin, there is building atmosphere; it is awed and building. A slight feedback is present, but soon there is an introduced electronic strum. It is hard but creeping. It introduces itself, and lays in a darker edge, and then repeats. The pattern repeats again, making bigger footprints, and establishing a distinct mood and curiosity. There is a palpable sense of tension and anxiety, anticipating what is going to arrive; one suspects it will be unexpected. Before long, there is a sound of percussion, linking with a pioneering and striking guitar line. The two work off and blend with each other, seamlessly, creating an electricity and spark, with little fuss or noise. Just before the 0:30 marker, the sound level is notched up, as the tempo and excitement mounts. There is a distinct Grunge/hard rock edge; slipstreams of Foo Fighters, as well as early Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden and Nirvana. It is heavy and masculine, yet has a soft and restrained edge to it, which creates a melody and punch in equal measures. When the vocals are elicited there are tales of "I saw a bird in flight". There is a darker sentiment to the words as "I plucked the feathers off" conjures a swathe of odd and extreme imagery. Perhaps matching the musical tones, the lyrics are at once beautiful and evocative, and the next are harsher and brasher. Being newly-initiated to Katie's unique tones, I was at a loss to find comparable. In an odd, or unintended sense, there is a little bit of Bjork to some of the enunciation and playfulness. There is an equivocal sense of fun and innocence to the projection, yet it is a less divisive and ostracising instrument. She has a pleasing smile; one can sense that there is little moodiness or intensity in her personality; she conveys a very personable and uncontroversial self. The band unveil slight moods of Wild Beasts; I can hear some of their Yorkshire counterparts in some of the more inventive guitar helixs. Backing the vocals, the band do a stellar job of keeping grounded, yet marrying a melodic and catchy riff and lineage, to heavy undertones, which are a mix of Seattle Grunge and Californian stoner desert rock. The percussion is especially noteworthy. At one stage there are edges of Dave Grohl around 1:24- it is a similarly inventive and difficulty fill that he has employed over Them Crooked Vulture numbers such as Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up. It is similarly stellar sticks work, and the drum beats and fills provide an emotional support to what has come before. The entire band campaign diligently, not stealing focus, instead, combining staunchly. They have a similar togetherness and intuition that the likes of QOTSA do. In fact, having just heard QOTSA's latest single (I Appear Missing), there is a comparative sound and swagger to it, too. Katie has a solid and strong voice, that can convey U.S. and U.K. tones and annunciation, never parodying either, but mixing them superbly. Between the words, the momentum is built, and held by the band, who weave sound clouds into the clear sky of the vocals. The vocals themselves change course and nature; from electioneering focus, to playful insouciance: "Emitted from my lips/From my lips.." trips and spins, as the words are born forth. From here, there is another shift in pattern, as a wordless chorus and rally, mingles with purging and exploitative guitar, bass and percussion; offering explosions, wandering lines, and rumbling interplay. It is a facet that is elongated and carried all the way to the end. It has a gravity and snowballing effect that builds and builds, until the band bring the song down, and let it end; exhausted, one would suspect.


Another day, another Yorkshire revelation. It is not the fact that there are so many great bands to be heard within such a specific part of the country; it is the sheer range of styles and sounds. In a lot of senses, London and the bigger cities are comparatively more homogenised and restricted. Where there are rolling hills and diverse towns and landscapes, similarly there is a musical geography that is equally as evocative and stunning. Sky Larkin have been playing to thousands of fans for many years, and have recorded a lot of material. There seems to be no signs of slowing in terms of energy or quality. A new album is due later this year, and Motto provides a tantalising slice of what could be featured on the record. It is the band's love of the very best U.S. and U.K. acts- which they manage to allude to, and fashion into their own uniform style- as well as being part of a burgeoning stable of ambitious colleagues, that has driven an ambition and quality that few other bands are currently plotting. It is difficult to say what form or nature the forthcomign album will take: whether there will be similar slices of similar sounds, or a widening palette; it is part and parcel of the band's appeal and history, that will cause salivation. Based on previous outings, there will be variation and a reliable quality and drive, that I hope will entice new fans and followers to their cause. If you're looking for a group, who are capable of transcending U.S./U.K. musical barriers, whilst offering up songs that will be impervious to near-sighted comparisons, then you will not have to look too far. It seems 2013...


BELONGS to the north; and is in safe hands.









Last FM:




Tour Dates:



2nd London - The Scala w/ Dutch Uncles
4th Live at Leeds festival
21st York - Fibbers w/ Dutch Uncles
22nd Cambridge - Portland Arms w/ Dutch Uncles
23rd Bristol - The Fleece w/ Dutch Uncles
24th Southampton - The Joiners w/ Dutch Uncles
25th Norwich - Water Front w/ Dutch Uncles
26th Leicester - Handmade Festival
30th Birmingham - Hare & Hounds w/ Marnie Stern
31st Sheffield - Queens Social Club w/ Marnie Stern


1st Manchester - Ruby Lounge w/ Marnie Stern
2nd Glasgow - Broadcast w/ Marnie Stern
3rd Leeds - Brudenell Social Club w/ Marnie Stern
4th Bristol - Louisiana w/ Marnie Stern
5th London - The Garage w/ Marnie Stern
8th Long Division Festival, Wakefield


13th 2000trees festival, Cheltenham
20th Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
26-27th Fell Foot Sound festival, The Lake District


3rd Y Not Festival, Derbyshire
16th Beacons Festival, North Yorkshire