The Cycle Starts Again
U.S. 3-piece offer stylish colours, exciting avenues, and late-night wonder.
The Cycle Starts Again is available at:
The album Northern Lights & Southern Skies is available at:
MUSIC from America, tends only to reach the ears of us in the U.K....
occasionally. Well, in terms of new music no less. Music press have a tendency to promote from within, and the likes of Europe, Asia, Australia and North America can feel left out. Of course there is great music in South America and Africa, but such is the bustle and hustle within music, that newer bands are often forced to work themselves to death, simply to get their names heard. I have long asked why there isn't a specialised website that deals with music; pure and simple. The likes of ReverbNation and Spotify have their uses and supporters, but to my mind, nothing on the Internet offers an all-inclusive and comprehensive service. It would be something along the lines of offering all the existing music websites have to offer, but making it much easier to hear about great new (as well as established music) from all around the world: tailored to your needs and desires. One imagines it would be easy, but would require a lot of planning and dedication. Something needs to occur along these lines, as too often I have stumbled upon a band or solo artist by pure serendipity; wondering where the hell they have been all of my life. This is not a phenomenon reserved purely for international acts: too often I have almost missed out on a great new act whom live only a few miles from there I live. For there to be a proper communication between bands/acts and fans, as well as the market as a whole, better and more advanced communication links need to be established. If you look beyond the confines and ensconces of your front door, there is a wealth of treasure to be found- if you look hard enough. I have witnesses some brilliant music from the likes of Sweden, Australia, Norway, as well as Scotland, and always am concerned that too many people are missing out. The task for the new band is how to best gain fans, and build a dedicated base, in order to have long-term appeal. Websites, and the Internet as a whole is the best method in this ultra-modern age; yet too few are being recognised, whilst others slip through the cracks. I mention it because it is in the U.S. that a great deal of excitement is happening. Obviously- as well all know- some of the world's best music has emanated from the good old U.S.A: Dylan, Young, Nirvana, Cohen, R.E.M, etc. Although the U.K. are probably a bit more active and superior in terms of quality, in sheer terms of range and diversity, it is hard to beat the U.S. competitors. Throughout the West Coast; down through California, and travelling further in land into L.A., a myriad of spectral intrigue can be heard. California is producing a lot of sunny and romantic music, as well as strong guitar bands. Into L.A. and Burbank, harder-edged and more indie-flavoured music can be heard. If you traverse right over to the East Coast, then Miami pop, electro and rock music is as good as any out there. Aside from the obvious big cities such as Seattle and New York, there is a swathe and mass of land uncharted and undiscovered in music terms. For those of us in the U.K.; many of whom may not be aware of the musical geography of America, it is the Midwestern region that is proffering some of the most extraordinary music of the moment.
The trio of The Capsules hail from Kansas. The Sunflower State is located almost smack-bang in the centre of America. Its population is largely White American and the entire state has a population of under 3 million. Aside from the band Kansas, not a huge amount of music has heralded from the state. It is true that a great deal of brand new bands, each of whom promise something new and invigorating, hail from the Midwestern states. There is less stress to be found here- away from the big cities. A combination of open space, beautiful landscapes and a sense of freedom can do great things to the creative mind. As wonderful as the music from the larger cities is, there is always a sense of anxiety to the sounds, as well as greater cynicism. Julie, Jason and Kevin are the endeavouring trio, and a growing band of online followers. On their Facebook page, they claim that they "a tendency for sleepless nights". It is the insomnia and somnambulistic states that have enforced and brought about the themes and mandates, for their album Northern Lights & Southern Skies. Their sound has a delicacy and tenderness that is appropriate for a trio whom want to "gain a bit of insight into the experiences of love, loss and longing". The group began life employing guitars and a more 'traditional' sound; but for the new album have used fewer guitars; instead incorporating more electronic influences as well as keyboards, in order to summon up as much emotion and spectral as possible. Jason and Julie began started writing together in high school; and subsequently fell in love and married. With the common bonds and shared musical passion, the duo embraced upon a recording career. They formed the band Shallow, and it was a fan of their, Kevin Trevino, whom fell for their sound, and is now The Capsules' drummer. Over time a wealth of fans flocked to see the group, and this has gained them some heady exposure; amongst the list of artists they have supported, included are The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. Included in the group's list of influences is the likes of Radiohead, Muse and The Cure, as well as U.S. influence such as The Jesus and Mary Chain. Today the group are based out of Texas, and have cemented a sound that is not often heard in the current scene- or certainly not as potently. On their 10-track album, there is a wealth of diverse and fascinating material, and intriguing titles abound (Our Apocalypse and Test Drive the Other Side are especially striking). It is encouraging that the band offer up biography about where they come from, and who they are. The tendency today is for most to share very little: fearing that disseminating too much information, will make themselves seem disposable and low of mystique. It is a hard balance to strike: giving just the right information away, whilst letting the music do the rest of the talking for you.
It is hardly surprising that the band, whom have a keen eye for design, colour and feel that The Cycle Starts Again. It is a song from their previous collection, Long Distance Dedication, and highlights their key components and patterns. Its life begins with plaintive and atmospheric guitar: plucked and punctuated to elicit maximum curiosity. In the early stages of the intro., there is a feeling of Radiohead's Kid A work, and has that same sort of mixture between subtle guitar shades, solid percussion, and electronic evocations, that summon up a lot of energy and emotion. It is perhaps the percussion that breathes most life into the song, early on. Bass and guitar notes are levied to keep the track taut and measured, and keep to a set rhythm. Around them the drum pervades and endeavours; unleashing some hard beats as well as softer patters, that, when combined creates a heady brew. In a way one can draw some comparable with modern-day The National. In the way that they have a keen ear and sense of melody, musical atmosphere and potency, likewise The Capsules evocate a certain wonder. The cyclical pattern of the intro., which seems to expand like a snowball after each cycle, is a pleasing sound that hints at arable flavours of spring, as well as something more forbidding. It is a line and tumble that builds and builds; the tempo and energy truncates and dissipates a smidge, before a sharp-minded percussive beat heralds the re-introduction of the passage. From an introduction that lasts under a minute, a great deal of ground is covered. Radiohead's innovative mid-career moves mingle with The Jesus and Mary Chain undertones, beneath a groundwork of modern-day indie splendour. The introduction has a ready-for-movies quality: it has an adaptability that could see it scoring the opening credits to a romantic epic, or taut psychological thriller. If you are waiting to hear a voice like Matt Berninger, Thom Yorke or Matt Bellamy; then you would be in for a surprise. Not just because the voice is female, but because of the nature of it. The voice is mixed slightly lower in the mix then you would like to, as there is a passionate and seductive quality to it. Julie's voice is at once feather-light and breathy, as it is emotive and intent. Early themes: "As far as I can see/The sun is fading", are announced and projected with a wistfulness and romanticism that suggests a peaceful mind. Shadows are cast over our heroine, and if lines such as: "The paths we're taking/Don't ever have to end" suggest something akin to acceptance and understanding, then the way the lines are delivered prove this theory. There is no heavy-handed musical accompaniment: the strings and percussion keep focused and never wander or intrude; they augment the foreground nicely. At one point the way a couple of lines are strung together and delivered, reminded me of Linger by The Cranberries. In my mind comparisons to Imogen Heap and Leigh Nash can be seen, but such as is the tone and effect of the voice, that is supersedes the latter's lightness and Christian pop/rock tones, and is more appealing that the former as a whole. Every line is delivered with tenderness and a certain stillness; certain words and notes are heard and elongated- going to show the band's eye for detail and projection. Themes and details of romance and obstacles faced are given scrutiny; but, as it is said: "Just like the night/They'll be another day". As the track progresses, the song's title becomes more relevant, as it seems that our heroine has been through some doubts and personal setbacks with regards to love and progressing, yet seems to know that it will not be the last time these issues occur- a sense of acceptance and philosophical edge are enunciated. As the song progresses and comes to its end, the feeling of familiarity, deja vu and acceptance are enforced and built on; each time our protagonist's voice remains calm and tender, with an emotive-cum-matter-of-fact quality. As the words end, Jason and Kevin's arpeggio strings and firm drum keep focused and tight; continuing the solid foundation present since the first notes.
I do hope that the U.K. media, as well as social media, starts looking across the Atlantic Ocean as soon as possible. Too narrow a focus is given towards home-grown music, and their ilk; yet little relevance and attention is paid to talent farther afield. Some of the best new music I have encountered over the last few months has originated in international plains. European and Australia are producing some fantastic guitar-based music, as well as disco and breezy pop. The U.S., however, seem to be ahead of the curve with regards to consistency and diversification. Ever since the '90s, the U.S. have produced some of the strongest talent in the music business, and seems to have continued unabated. The Capsules have been producing music for a while, and have outputted an impressive array of songs, releases and movements, that suggests that their future will be long and promising. It is good to hear them, and I shall have to do some retroactive investigation and listening. Too long have we had to rely on word-of-mouth in order to stumble across some great new music; well it should change from now on. I love a lot of the U.K.'s new talent: depending on where your compass is set, depends on what style of music you can experience. There is a range of sounds, from retro-swing, through to jazz, pop, indie, and electronic music; each artist seemingly intent on being remembered for a long while. There is, however, too much of a quagmire, with regards to originality: too few are different from the rest of the pack, making it especially difficult to wade through the muddy waters, in order to uncover gold. As much as the likes of L.A. and New York are outputting some strong and intent bands and acts; one has to look away from the obvious locales, and see what is on offer further inland. It is when we do this- as well as supplement international talent into our diets- that we will become better educated, more enlightened, and more importantly, experienced a lot of unexpected pleasures. The Capsules will be a band I will be keeping my eye on, as the song writing is strong and impressive. The compositions are intriguing and fascinating, mixing between '90s and early-'00s English influences, as well as electronic-themed motifs. Percussive measures are filled with merit; matching the likes of The National for potency and memorability. Guitar, bass and string sounds are alternately swaying and romantic; the next melodic and endeavouring. It is towards the electronic side of things (with loops and otherworldly aspects) that they are focused for the brand-new album. It is worth investigating and listening to carefully, as- if you neglect the band- you will be missing out sorely. The Capsules are here...
AND ready to impress.