It is hard to hear the song beyond the pages of iTunes and The Guardian; luckily the band have a wealth of wonderful novelistic visuals, and stunning sounds.
Knot is available at:
Their E.P., Too Much a Hunter, is available at:
___________________________________________________________________________ KENT is the featured county today; and a new angle is apparent...
I have been subjecting any tired minds that will take note, that the south of England, and the Home Counties, have been a little slack and remiss, when coming to offering up new music stars. London and the south coast have been making tiny little movements: the odd band or act here and there, but by and large, activity has been hottest elsewhere. I suppose, historically-speaking of course, the southern counties have played host to a great deal of wonderful talent: Blur, Radiohead, The Jam etc; there has been no shortage when it comes to offering up and proffering forth curious smells, sounds and sensations. Each of those bands had a very particular identity and talent: ranging from Britpop, through to New Wave. It has been a concern of mine, that there is not enough diversity within groups. If you hear of a four or five-piece band, chance are they met when they were young, or live close to one another. Bands like HighFields are axiomatically atypical when it comes to predictability: multi-nationality, inter-gender and open-armed. In the U.K. especially, there is not a lot of mixing or multicultural blending. Various parts of the U.K., as well as being quite lax when it comes to pulling their weight, have other issues. It is important that have some local flavours in your group: pulling in relevance local noises, as well as looking further afield. Most new bands suffer issues of homogenisation. The band members tend to be of a similar creed, age and locality: there is scant range. I precursor to a new wave of invigorating groups, will be a willingness to in other and unexpected parts, with regards to recruiting members. At the moment, there is too much of a willingness to rest on laurels and be unadventurous. This is something I will allude to more later. Individuality is a more glaring and important concern, initially. I have heard many bands; ranging from northern rock acts, to southern pop acts, that do suffer a tendency to stick closely to other groups. It is a recurring thesis, but one that becomes no less relevant with each passing day. If you are a northern rock or indie band there is a reluctance to stray too far away from Arctic Monkeys and Oasis; if you are southern, then many will gravitate towards our best and brightest bands here. It is a tricky situation for a new band, or a group that has established a reputation, with regards to being achieve a high quality, and remaining original. Scotland are doing a better job of achieving this, than anywhere else in the U.K.; but there are a group of southern acts, that promise something that supersedes any expectations.
Story Books came to my attention via a feature piece in The Guardian. For all the publication's weaknesses when it comes to reviewing new music, they at least are pretty potent when it comes to introducing great new acts. The London/Kent five-piece: consisting Kristofer, Robert, Joseph, Andrew and Jack, have an air of mystery with regarding to band history and biography. They have an impressive on-line representation (including a particular detailed official site), but say little about whom they each are, or where their influces arrive from. Whether this is designed to focus your mind solely on the music- effectively not having any preconceived expectations in your mind- or intended as a talking point, it is hard to say. It would be nice to know more about the guys; not any needless mindless tidbits, but where they came from, and what they want people to take away from the experience. Luckily, the music itself speaks volumes, and compensates largely. The band's E.P., Too Much A Hunter, shows that the boys mean business, and this is enforced by the fact that they are soon to support The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park. The Guardian asks that they be filed next to Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol, which in itself will scare a lot of people. I am not sure why they have been lumped with these bands as their sound is entirely different and more impressive: I suppose that they have a comparable popular appeal. Paul Lester's radar and summations have always been contentious and intoxicated, so I shall do a better job at arriving at noteworthy and accurate conclusions. The group are photographed a lot in black-and-white; they have a downcast projection, but no need to fear: there is not an ounce of any sort of monotonous drag in the music; everything is kept fascinating and integral to their qualitative ambitions.
Knot, is a difficult song to get hold of. It forms part of their E.P., but is featured- from what I can see- on iTunes and The Guardian alone. Simple Kids is the song getting most coverage and plays, but Knot has more intrigue, to me. It is hard to escape the intensity and rush of the song, as there is an immediate electric slam, that takes you be surprised. There is no build-up of suspense or a little acoustic or bass work: it is straight down to business. There is a little of the '60s and '70s in the sound: mid-career The Rolling Stones, mixes a little with The Kinks. It is a refreshing change to see some exceptional, older influences in the mix, rather than pick away and include only more recent reverence. There are just skeletal, basic tones that suggest any similarity- there is a distinct and original sound that pushes through. The intro itself mixes passionate and thumping drums with hard-strung electric guitar. Emphasis is put squarely on the shoulders of excitement and intensity. It is with a great rock spirit and flair, combined with a softer and more melodic guitar line, that creates a fascinating and unique intro. In one part of the scene there is a fight: bustling gangs square off against one another; in a separate scene there is a regarded calm: semblance of order and melodic discipline is unveiled. It is where the two combine that the greatest reaction is elicited. Very few bands would be able to pull off or even attempt this; choosing maybe to separate the two or stick with a single theme, and see it through. At the 0:22 mark, the electric sparks are calmed slightly. The guitar becomes calmer and more studies, whilst the drum still has a hard heartbeat. When the voice comes through, it is restrained and passionate. There is plenty of raw rock spirit lurking beneath, but there is something calmer at the start: "From the start/She'd never be pure enough"; are the first words, and an insight into our authour's mind. Clearly there is a tortured back-story and past, and there is a weight in the vocals to suggest that there is lingering doubt and pain. The band support our protagonist sturdily and professionally. The bass, guitar and drum combination keep the overall tone light enough, whilst injecting some Wild Beasts-esque passion and innovation into proceedings. There is perhaps some relatable notes in the vocal; but the way that it remains essential and swimming draws you in, and- combined with a delicate and powerful composition- pushes the song on and on. Evocations and memories of a past love or paramour, points at some bad decisions "She chose a crooked path"; the words clear and concisely delivered, bolster the emotional edge. Our front-man is imploring that the future of his subject is kept safe, and secure: there is tenderness and thoughtfulness in the midst. With tints of Mumford and Sons- although only in spirit rather than sound- there is a musical rush and surge: guitars stab and flail; the percussion batters, and there is a storming distorted symphony elicited. It is introduced to signal difference between the two: separate lives and paths, as well as intentions, and the internalised anger that has been hiding in our hero's mind and body. When it is sung: "Don't expose her to the emptiness", there is a pause in the vocals; the music fills in and creates an emotive response, before the lyrics return once more. The way that the mood is brought down, calmed- and a sermon is spoken- before being contrasted by a rapture and heady rush, is a selling point that few bands or acts have perfected. I guess- although I am as far from a fan of theirs as you get- there is some definite Mumford influences in the later stages; there is just a familiar sense. Not that it is a bad thing. The sharpness and openness of the lyrics, combined with an earnest vocal turn, are a winning formulae, no matter whose hands they are in.
The band achieve a rare feat of ticking a lot of boxes, with comparatively little being known about them. By achieving the honour of support The Stones, they will be heard by a huge number of new- and potential fans- people. Their sound is very much of the moment. If you factor out any lazy comparisons with Mumford, Coldplay, Keane, and so forth, and judge them with a cleansed palette, the effect is more striking. It is very much a band performance- the vocal does not steal focus. Every member is tight and focused, and expertly supports one another. When the words are suing they are clear and recognisable. So many acts seem content to have their lead mumble and splutter words beneath a fuzzy and under-produced racket, that you can not understand a single thing sung. It is becoming frustratingly acceptable and common and sure as hell needs to stop. Story Books make sure that their mandates and tales are understandable and tangible in equal measure. The themes of love-gone-wrong, dislocation, doubt, and anxiety have been worn well for decades now. If they are kept fresh and personal then there is a huge market. The voice is strong and universal; you cannot fault the geniality of the emotions and conviction, and convincing with your words is half of the battle won. The indie flavours, combined with a heavy and hard intro that suggests '60s legends, blends wonderfully, to create a track that few could turn their noses up to. All you need to know about Story Books is that their E.P. promises inspiration and rewards, and stands up to repeated listens. A string of high-profile festivals and dates is sure to follow, and the guys clearly have a great deal of respect and understanding of one another's roles and skills. This friendship and strong bond shows through in the music, and is a formula that yields surprisingly positive results. Before they head to Hyde Park, and after the dust has settled...
MAKE sure they are still in your mind.