Singing Logos is available from:
The album Orixé is available from:
The ironically-named group may be seasonably optimistic; yet the Dorset-based treasures are fearless indeed. After a triumphant and sparkling E.P., comes a track (and album) one cannot help but crave.
A mere two-and-a-bit weeks into the fresh calendar year, and something wonderful...
is emerging from music's chrysalis. Before I once again dissect the new music/band market, I have been trying to shift anxieties from my mind. The past few days has presented turbulence, emotional olive branches; as well clearly presenting the proximate causes of each. A sense of emptiness and personal loneliness has been reeking havoc with my sleep patterns and emotions, and my mind cannot help but wonder and speculate about one particular woman. Musical ambitions and a renewed desire to 'follow my dreams' has caused me to reassess, reappropriate and renew some subjugate feelings. I have found myself becoming simultaneously aloof and hardened; as well as vulnerable, focused and trepidation-filled. Amongst my aims for this year, was to find someone to fall in love with; to have someone whom can make me fill secure- as well as provide a safe and happy long-term future. In my ambassadorial role as 'ambitious music-maker', I have mandated that this year will see my words and voice put on record- which is long overdue. I have consecrated and moulded the plans and codification of a five-track E.P.; a music-themed (and massive) bar/café (ideally to be situated in central London), as well as a multi-layered and interactive music website. I have given a lot to a lot of people over the past few months, and find that the rate of reciprocity is dismally low. When thinking of others and fixating on trying to remedy other people's troubles, I have negated and alienated my own needs- which has caused my heavy heart to put on weight. Everybody makes resolutions to improve their lives (on the dawn of a new year), yet few stick with it. My ideals and ambitions are not based around a pointless new year ritual, yet form the basis of an essential desire for change. The past year has been synonymous with wasted chances and personal frustration. I have grown tired of shadow-dwelling and pining, and feel it mandatory that action is taken. With regards to romance and the fulfilment of desires, I am bidding time and stepping smartly; yet when it comes to slaking my musical lusts, I have decided to be more direct and bold. I am woefully under-financed, yet feel that I need to make music, regardless. Plans are being made to recruit a band, and I am drawing together sketches and blueprints for the music café. The reason that music-making is on the precipices of my soul is due to the quality of new music. As recently as a few weeks ago I was bemoaning the lack of brilliant new music; yet just now my cynicism is starting to dissipate. I am finding that there is still too much high-density stupidity amongst many bands and acts. Far too many musicians are ripping off established acts, and lacking any direction; too few seem to be lacking the necessary ambition to inflame the senses. It is merit-worthy, mind, that there are a brave band of siblings that seem to want to change the established order. The likes of Los & The Deadlines are purveying hard-hitting and addictive rock sounds; soloists such as Chess and Harts are reinvigorating the tired embers of over worn predictability, and several others are pushing through. I am not sure that there will be an instantaneous overhaul of new music, yet it appears that more genuinely worthy acts are presenting their sounds. Part of my reticence is reserved towards the shores of originality. I have become so pissed off with bands and solo artists whom take it upon themselves to mimic someone else. If you are going to walk into the music arena, at least have some unique weaponry in your arsenal.
Over the past few decades there have been some stunning innovations and movements in music. From the '60s psychedelic pop movements, through to '70s disco, music has evolved and delighted. The '90s was especially prosperous, as it saw the birth of Britpop; fascinating and memorable dance music, as well as a uniformly impressive music palette. When considering historical elements, there is a veritable smorgasbord of colours of flavours the new musician could incorporate. If you consider music- as well as the human voice- as a colour chart, then you can visualise what is truly possible. Every genre, band and sound denotes a different shade. When you mix a few together you come up with something different; stretching this point to its logical limits means that there are near-infinite directions one can take. A sprinkling of early-'80s pop, blended together with some mid-'90s rock can produce an eye-opening colour; a liberal dollop of '70s soul, comingling with some present-day electro-swing leads to something ubiquitous in its appeal and energy. The point behind my schematic, is that there is a world of possibility and potentiality to be discovered. The bands are solo artists I have recently reviewed have embodied this elementary fact, and are- as a consequence- stamping out some incredible sounds. Over the past few hours I have been listening to artists such as Tom Waits and Kate Bush, and staggered by how durable and mobile these talents are. By keeping your identity, but incorporating different scenes and movement into the music, means that fascination and popularity will provide dividends. I hope I am not being too tumescent in my declarations, as I do firmly believe that a renaissance is possible. In terms of my personal aims, I have found that the best results are obtained when you delve into the annals of music, and are sagacious with regards to integration. I have mentioned/bored before with regards to a song I am writing, called Vanity Mirror. Over its 482 seconds, I have crammed in some soul touches; '60s pop minutes; diverse and multifarious orchestral swathes; swaggering rock punches, as well as Dylan-esque lyric aims. Hopefully 2014 will witness a semblance of quality about-face as our best and brightest start making their moves. As a humble music-lover I hope the likes of One Direction and Justin Bieber die an unnatural death; the multitudinous acoustic bores slip away, and a faction of bold innovators ascend to the throne. I may be a dreamer...but I'm not the only one. There may not be the same sort of wanderlust as we saw during the '90s, but there may be something mighty close. The past few weeks has provided ample excitement, and I feel that January is a month that will keep on giving...
Amidst the foundations of new music's striking architecture, is a band that will be leading the charging pack. Before I disseminate biographical information about our subjects, one issue needs addressing. Dynastically-speaking, the spiritual home of music's regency is located north of London- quite a way north. There are some terrific acts based in London (Crystal Seagulls, Los & The Deadlines for instance), yet the rolling landscapes of Yorkshire house the most forward-thinking and varied talent. Over the months I have been reviewing, there have been few acts that have emanated south of London. Saturday Sun hail from the coastal locale of Swanage. As well as hosting an episode of The Inbetweeners, as well as- horrifyingly- a James Blunt video, it is a town that boasts panoramic views, beautiful historical buildings- but little in the way of musical output. The sea air of the Jurassic Coast has clearly inspired an intrepid quartet. The band have been around for a while, yet are a new name to my brain. I was introduced to their majesties- once again- by The Guardian. I should probably pay Paul Lester a finder's fee, as he seems to have his ear firmly to the ground, with regards to sniffing out terrific music. The Dorset four-set formed back in 2010, off of the back of a impromptu jam session by two of its founding members; and they have grown and developed from here. Alex Hedley, Billy Merrick, Allan Varnfield and Tobias Fitton have been hailed as serious names to watch, in no small part because of their E.P., Seagull. The release introduced Saturday Sun's music to a large sect of new fans, and showcased some beautiful and wondrous music. Reception from Seagull was immediate, and along its itinerate rise, tracks were played in the U.S.; tracks sound-tracked T.V. shows- and the group earned a supporting slot alongside Sigur Ros. The four-track release won high praise from the likes of Q and Daytrotter, alternatively emphasising the group's "luscious melodies" as well as the way the boys "orchestrate and bend those minutes" through introspection as well as "inner turmoil". The Swanage men mix psychedelic rock and '70s Pink Floyd moments, as well as Americana, stripped-back acoustic breeze- in addition to Grunge and heavy elements. It is no surprise that the group's musical diversity has received huge praise from critics. Their Solidago swoons and haunting sounds can at once overwhelm and palpitate; the way that they can- with augmentative lustre- lift songs to breaking point is admirable; the group portray arable desolate, scenic romanticism and sonic bliss- sometimes within the space of a single song. In addition to the wondrous audio considerations, the band have another ace up their sleeve- frontman Alex Hedley. The bandleader has garnered admiring coos from reviewers and fans, each of whom highlight his emotive and powerful voice; imbued with measures of Grace-era Jeff Buckley and The Bends-era Thom Yorke. There is a comparable stillness and beauty to Hedley's vocal; he has the same sort of stratospheric belt as the aforementioned idols, and can go from a whisper to a lascivious scream within the space of a semi-quaver. Here is not a band reliant on, or indebted to, one particular human. It is the composite strengths of the four members that make Saturday Sun such a potent and remarkable force. When it comes to nomenclature, Saturday Sun has an interesting progeny and derivation. The final track from Nick Drake's second-best album was perhaps the inspiration from the band's name. Five Leaves Left was Drake's debut, and showcased a young man of breath-taking genius. sensitive and evocative sadness nestled within the orchestral lustre of Way to Blue and River Man. As the album reaches its swansong, we hear the young Drake speaks, thus: "Saturday sun came early one morning/In a sky so clear and blue/Saturday sun came without warning/So no-one knew what to do". These sentiments perhaps can best be applied to the way the band have arrived in an open market, and left jaws dropping. It is not surprising that the Buckley and Yorke comparisons have been made, as the band were growing up with albums such as The Bends and Grace were embryonic. The spectral emotions and sadder inflections could possible inspire another Saturday Sun lyric ("And Saturday's sun has turned to Sunday's rain), yet the boys are more than the sum of their influences. There is not uniform depression or desolation in their music; instead beauty, nuance and joy; there are guitar effects, trippy moments and alacrity on offer. The next month see the band play everywhere from Devon, Cambridgeshire and London; yet I feel that the quartet will be in demand internationally, as their latest album takes full effect. Orixé is the result of months of hard work and focus from the Dorset boys. Its name means 'origin', but as the band's frontman confesses, it is also the result of mashing several Gaelic words together. The L.P. itself contains 13 tracks (some of which appeared on Seagull), and is a fully-fledged wonder of an album. It is a window into the psyche of a band whom have a lot more to offer, yet are fully committed to the present day. The effort and work rate put into the album shows, with each song bristling and bursting with evocation, emotion and potent seduction. The album's cover is a black-and-white depiction of a woodland tableaux; it catches the eye and sparks the imagination. The music contained within similarly inspires and mesmerises, as the quartet shape shift, contort, implore- and make hairs stand up on end. One may highlight the fact that there is not a great deal of happiness or overt optimism within the baker's dozen of tracks, yet consider this: how many of the greatest albums do? influential records such as Five Leaves Left, The Bends, Grace and such were awash with codas of self-doubt, sensitive longing and dislocation. These records connected with- and still do- with millions and are considered masterpieces. If you are looking for an album which will ready your soul for summer, then you may look elsewhere. What Orixé epitomises is a body of work that can not only inspire many up-and-coming musicians, but put a smile on your face- in spite of the nature of the music and subject matter. I did not want to review the entire album, in fear of producing brevity to the individual tracks, so felt it prudent to focus on a single song. Each of the album's tracks say something different and has its own essence and mood, so it was a huge task when selecting the ideal track to review. I will go into more depth later with regard to other tracks on Orixé, but for now, my thoughts are with Singing Logos.
The title of the album refers to the unshakable craving for food (usually sweet foods), and each of the tracks off of the L.P. leave you wanting more. From the opening seconds of Singing Logos, the curiosity and fascination dial is cranked up to 11. The band unveil a crepuscular and moody audio storm initially, unleashing a window scene; before a soothing arpeggio supersedes. The guitar tone has romance and swoon. The sound has a touch of blues and bluegrass; a little U.S. Midwestern rock- it is drenched in the heat of a sunny desert. You picture yourself driving down a lonely highway, the slight wind keeping the temperature bearable. As you pilot your passenger-less Mustang, you let your mind wander- as you head towards the lights of the distant city. The listener is relaxed and has their mind taken somewhere wonderful. Whether you are thinking about the gorgeous girl at home (beckoning you forth), or a relaxing stream and shady tree, you are at once calm and invigorated. The intro. seduces and kisses; it touches and caresses: the romance and vividness that is presented, encapsulates your attention, fully. There is grandeur and mesmeric allure to proceedings. It is the sort of introductory coda that could score an indie film. The title of the song may create a whirlwind of stunning and strange imagery, and the hypnotic guitar light adds black and white (and soul) to the scene. Before any human being has stepped into frame, you can picture and see a clear image, and a sense of event and atmosphere is built. The sound and sensation of the introduction puts me in mind of Radiohead, circa. Amnesiac. There is a little bit of Knives Out to be heard (albeit with an introversion). The vocal does not come in until the 1:05, yet when it does, it is arresting and immediate. Our frontman's voice is sweet and tender, and puts the hairs on end. The Yorke and Buckley comparisons may come to mind. There is a similar falsetto beauty and impassioned strike to Hedley's coo, as well as a sprinkling of Bon Iver and Patrick Watson. It is the individuality and personality of our hero that shines through strongest. The vocal performance is the most prominent focus early on. Emphasis is put towards emotion and less towards pronunciation. My only minor criticism is that the lyrics are not overly clear; with there being no lyric sheets available, it is a little hard to transcribe a lot of being what is sung. My reticence and criticism is a minor point, as the glory and beauty of the track is the sound and sensation- rather than the story being told. As I mentioned, the track instantly puts images and landscapes into your brain. There is a continuing sense of motion and fascination, as Hedley's gorgeous voice seductively teases. The band are no slouches or second-best stander-bys. The guitar and drum, when combined with bass keep the Amnesiac/Kid A feelings firmly alive. It is no bad thing, as this type of combination and incorporation has not effectively been attempted or proffered since the early '00s- when those albums were released. As our hero continues to plot and implore, he speaks to a central figure: "You feel alive". Whether the song has its roots in a romantic relationship, or something less autobiographical is unsure, yet there is definite passion and intensity to be witnessed. As it is said to "move together", I feel that the memory of a sweetheart is strong in the mind of our hero. In my mind- as a listener- I would imagine a lone traveller on the road, dreaming wistfully of his lover at home- fantasising about a noble cause. Past the 4:00 mark, the pace and tone gets harder and faster. There is a definite rock theme to the song, and the shift at this point adds to the emotion and fascination already laid in. The boys kick up a gear and really hit their stride. As impressive and striking as Hedley is, the sounds unfurled by his comrades is just as important and wonderful. The guitar is constantly moving and inventive, and the drum work is restrained by keeps the heartbeat strong and alive. Bass is taut and tight, and the infusion of these components adds layers and force. The band extend a musical break past 4:00, allowing the listener to fantasise and dream. Whereas most bands would wander aimlessly and fill the void, Saturday Sun remain compelling and mobile, and weave deft sparks and flavours into the mix. The final stretch is dedicated to a tender comedown. The band seamlessly shift from a rock-infused rush into a tender and calm finish. In a sense the storm has been witnessed, and the rain and wind have now stopped- as the sun bursts through. It is a beautiful and considerate way to end the song, and the perfect outro. one could imagine. I was left stunned and impressed by the track, as it is as unique and stunning as any song I have heard for a while. There is enough of the majesty of early-'00s Radiohead to draw in their fans. It is only a small component of the overall song, as the band very much have their own identity and way of working. The vocal performance is a memorable and stellar force, which shifts between soft and elongated coos to a rousing and emotive belt. Hedley is a strong and imperious vocal who can buckle knees and cause shivers- definitely a name to watch. Merrick, Varnfield and Fitton are incredible musicians. There is never too much mood or atmosphere; they consider the voice and lyrics, and perfectly accompany and augment them. The guitar, bass and drums twist and pervade- and lift and strike when needed. From that incredible and scene-setting intro. you are captured and bowled over. It is such an engaging and fascinating element, and the boys never let up from there. You always have one ear on what is being sung, and one on what is being played. The sonic layers and threads create images and emotions, and leave you quite overwhelmed.
I cannot think of any strong criticism when thinking about Saturday Sun, and Singing Logos. A lyrics sheet would have been nice, as it is sometimes difficult to hear what is being sung. I apologise to the band if I have misquoted any lyrics, as decipherability is a small issue. Seeing as you have such a compelling voice and incredible band at work, being able to analyse and dissect the lyrics is a paramount importance. Other tracks on the L.P. do not suffer in the same way, but as I mentioned, Singing Logos is a bold and incredible song, that seduces and wins you over with its atmosphere and fascination. The merit of a terrific band is the way they can inspire imagery when you listen to their music, as well as compel you to write and pen your own music. Having surveyed their album, I have written my own lyrics, planned songs and made changes to my own work. I yearn and aim to be half as mesmerising a vocalist as Hedley and feel that he is a singer with a huge future. He has enough of Yorke, Buckley and the like, yet is distinct and unique that the comparison will not be overly-obvious. His range is huge, and you feel that there is even more that he can offer as a singer. The band's music and compositional skills are a key component and they have a real ear and mind for setting mood and taking the listener somewhere special. I rambled with misty-eyes earlier about what came to mind when listening to Singing Logos. You sort of drift off, get lost in your own head; allowing your mind to summon up vivid movie scenes and romantic diversions. The Orixé experience is a heady and endlessly fascinating one. Songs like Life In The Garden has a jaunty and spirited kick to it, with a flair of early-career Oasis. Whale Song is mood, sound and emotion is huge measures. The band shift through various stages and take you on an incredible thrill-ride. Seagull is tender and romantic and sees our hero's voice in robust and impassioned mood. Blinded By The Truth and In Your Head have anthemia appeal and wonder, whereas Seeds To The Sun may be the best song on the L.P. Even though there are 13 tracks on the album, there is no filler. The band know how good they are, and there is never any stagnation and ponderous drag. Each song has its own identity and intention, and this adds a great weight of quality to proceedings. Usually new bands present 10 or 11 songs that roughly sound the same- and have scant variation. Saturday Sun have unveiled an album filled with diversity, nuance, wonder and ambition and this is to be applauded. They are a relatively new name to my mind, and I am disappointed I have not heard of them sooner. I going to make amends, and enjoy their album as much as possible. I would recommend that as many people as possible listen to, as few bands will come along that will stick in your mind as hard as our Dorset men. Each of our foursome are incredible and multi-talented, and the song writing is uniformly compelling, intelligent and filled with emotion and quality. The star of the show is Hedley's voice. It is something that is constantly engaging and stunning, and it brings the songs to life, as his vocals inject mood, romance and life to the tracks. People whim fear that we are witnessing an insular, depressing and morbid band bringing winter chill to the fore, should reassess. The songs are not the cheeriest you will hear, but have a noble and positive heart and mind. Like the truly great bands, there is an optimism in everything they do, yet the way Saturday Sun lay out their emotions is tender and sensitively. There is enough spirit, rock and pace to draw in fans of harder and more energetic music, and plenty of calm and tenderness to engage everyone else. The rest of the year is up for grabs, as far as the band are concerned. The album will see a lot of new fans engage in social media connection, and the feedback and reviews of Orixé have been unanimously positive and effusive. I am sure that there is going to be a lot of demand put out, with regards to touring. I hope that radio stations get on board with Saturday Sun and Orixé, and bring their music to a wider audience. Too many bands have little to say, and do so in the most unappetising way. Saturday Sun are a quartet whom have the potential to be around for years to come, and I cannot wait to see where they go next. I am sure that there will be many more albums afoot, and implore people to jump on their good ship. This year may not be as revolutionary and monumental as the mid part of the '90s, yet I feel that thanks to bands like Saturday Sun, a huge quality rejuvenation will be witnessed. I have become tired and bored of bland and vague bands and acts, and pine for nascent change. Saturday Sun are celebrated and beloved in Dorset and London, and I am sure will be in-demand across the U.S., Europe and Australia. If you don't believe me:
BUY the album, and see for yourself.
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