Track Review: From Carbon- Darkness



From Carbon







Darkness is featured on the album Wealth.  Listen to the song here:


GENRES: Indie/Alternative-Rock


Manchester, U.K.

Produced by Yves Altana Engineered by Chris Oliver Wriiten and performed by "From Carbon"








Everything is Control

Please Please




Sad Apples


THIS will be the last review (for a little while at least) to focus on Indie/Alternative acts.

Having featured the likes of The 48ks lately- and contemporaries who play similar sounds- I am looking further afield: to international Rock acts; female-lead Pop/Soul; something quite different- hoping to broaden my horizons.  That is not to say the Indie/Alternative moulding is not a pleasant one- far from it in fact- it is just the genres have been under my radar (a lot lately) - so a detox is needed.  Before said detox, it is time for one last piss-up: a hell-for-leather night with blurring, booze and vomit-strewn toilets- well, not quite.  Contrary to popular belief- that perpetrated by the media and lazy ‘music-lovers’- Indie music is synonymous with aimless and brainless tunes- so long as the music is catchy, it doesn’t matter about the words/themes.  That may be oversimplifying, yet the media tends to concentrate more on riffs than lyrics; the basics as opposed to intelligence and nuance- a lot of the Alternative darlings do not deserve their praise and position.  Today’s focus/rant looks at Mancunian Indie music: words that go together like Sarah Harding Lip-Syncing Disaster- her recent ‘performance’ on I.T.V. was like watching Freddie Mercury at Live Aid- or the exact opposite.  The northern city has produced more of the Indie/Alternative greats- maybe Liverpool can be added in- than any other city.  London is coming through and competing, yet Manchester has that historic legacy: from the Factory days through to The Smiths and The Stone Roses; along to Oasis- Doves and The Charlatans can be thrown in there.  The city has produced some of music’s most influential bands: each with their own aesthetic and sound; each one with its own vibe- the city is not exactly letting up.  In the last few years, The 1975 have stated their claims; there are some young up-comers emerging- few can match From Carbon.  (Carbon itself) has a fascinating biography: an incredibly high boiling point, it is an essential element; diamonds emanate (from carbon); carbon is a pattern maker.  The band themselves share chemical similarities; their componency is the same- the boys are among the most previous and important bands breaking through the Manchester scene.  Before I continue my point- and raise a couple of new ones- let me introduce From Carbon.

Scott Jeffreys - Lead Vocals Gray Shaw – Bass Jason "Nut" Coverdale – Drums Adam Smethurst -Lead Guitar Fiona McBurnie – Piano Sarah Hinkley – Violin Chris Oliver - Guitars

Upbeat, Passionate and intelligent indie rock songs with the occasional soaring  ballad & waltz, beautiful melodies and thought provoking lyrics.

The band’s biography is kept simple and to-the-point: that mixture of soaring melodies and intelligent lyrics defines them; their beauty and passion comes through in every line.  What I would say about the band- as a suggestion perhaps- is to make their album music more accessible.  Having released Wealth (last year) it has gained praise and attention- free to purchase online.  It would be great to hear the music on SoundCloud- make it free to listen to their music- thus engaging a wider audience; making it obtainable to a wide audience.  Being a D.I.Y./self-funded band, the desire is to raise funds: have their music raise money; ensure the band can keep producing/playing.  With that said, providing a link to the album- as a free download- would improve their chances.  It may sound counter-intuitive, yet if people get a taster, they may be willing to buy the album- fewer would snap up the album without a song or two for free.  From Carbon have a pretty healthy fan-base; their social media ranks are growing- I can see them gaining fans from across the U.K. and abroad.  With new music mooted, let’s hope the boys get something organised on YouTube/SoundCloud- and tease the masses in.  The official website (for the band) is informative and well-designed: clear and concise, it provides gig dates and up-to-date news.  The boys’ have covered Facebook and Twitter: between the social media sites, the band are keeping fans updated and informed; ensuring their keep in contact- making them aware of future events.  Following Wealth’s release (last year) the band have been laying down new plans/sounds; taking their music on the road- getting ready for their next attack.  Wealth is the sound of a band with purpose: the song titles are economic and tight (most just one-worded); the tracks are nuanced and addictive; the songwriting consistently excellent- the band performances incredible.  The way I came about the band (not sure that is the correct grammar) was through Shay Rowan: a Manchester-based photographer/music-lover and all-round top guy- he expounded the wonders of the band; lead me to From Carbon- bit of pencil/lead/carbon wordplay there, to boot!  Hilarity aside, the Manchester boys deserve their kudos and high praise: their music goes beyond that of the bog-standard Indie-cum-Alternative themes; stronger and more detailed- with much more striking lyrics.

To get a flair/feel for the band- assess who influenced their rise and sound- it may be worth digging into the following: Arcade Fire, Velvet Underground, Oasis, James; R.E.M., INXS, Longpigs, U2 Martha Wainwright; PJ Harvey, The Beatles, Elvis (Pressley), Johnny Cash, Rush; Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen… If you are a fan (of any of these acts) there is a little of each to be found- to be honest, they are the faintest of hints.  From Carbon are very much their own band; a force to be reckoned with- one of the most original bands to come out of Manchester.  If you are a fan of the ‘classic’ Manchester bands- Oasis etc. - you will see some comparable shades.  From Carbon are capable of writing stunning songs about modern-day concerns; tapping into the consciousness of the young and affected- striking a chord with their incredible lyrics.  Throughout Wealth there are nods to their heroes; yet every song bares the hallmarks of From Carbo: there are a few moments where you are put in mind (of any other band).  With that in mind, it creates a pleasing feeling: you do not feel short-changed or cheated; there’s that feeling you are listening to a fresh and innovative group- very much complete with their own voice.

Initially, I was going to review Understand- another track from the album Wealth- yet changed my mind: Darkness is available to listen to online; a better chance for the listener to connect with the band- rather than buy the entire album (to hear the song).  In time, I hope the boys put all of Wealth’s material on SoundCloud- they will get a bigger audience and make it easier to recruit new fans- yet Darkness is online for all to hear.  The introduction begins with a galloping blast: a riff that spirals and snarls; it is razor-sharp and frantic- the song spares no time in getting off the blocks.  Both uplifting and head-rushing; Darkness swirls and strikes.  The guitar see-saws and vibrates- reminding me a little of Achtung Baby-era U2- and the listener is instantly gripped.  Without uttering a world, the track kicks and punches its intentions; before the vocal comes to play there is an awful amount of build-up.  When our man comes to the microphone, the lyrics look at a central subject- “She’s got nothing to lose/nothing to prove…”  You feel a relationship is on the rocks (under strain) and some sort of fall-out is taking place- although you are not clear who the perpetrator is.  With a serious and focused vocal, the words are given maximum emotion- a very dead-ahead delivery that makes sure they are understood and hit the mark.  Allowing his voice to rise and emote, our hero takes the (song’s subjects) to task- stepping away from the first-person clichés, and focusing on an anonymous couple.  Whether the ‘he’ of the song is Jeffreys- or the tale is fictitious; or else based on a friend- the male party is in need of a “slap in the face”.  Seemingly “all over the place”, the song’s focal points are making a mess of things- whether it is relationship-based or they have just screwed up we are not sure.  When the chorus arrives, darkness is seen as a rescue aid- Jeffreys employs the first-person; making me wonder whether he is a bystander or one of the song’s central subjects.  Throughout the early stages there is a sense of ambiguity and intrigue: you are never quite sure the background (behind the song); unclear what is unfolding- yet the way the lyrics are portrayed; it allows some vivid speculation.  The vocal is forceful and determined; filled with passion and urgency, it makes every word jump out- nothing gets muddled or lost under the weight of the composition.  “Free/the 73/wake up to your needs” is uttered: another oblique sentiment that builds more fascination and wondering- what exactly is being referred to?  The composition keeps pressing and plugging; it builds a huge amount of weight and emotion- ramping up the emotion.  The chorus swings back around; the darkness is beckoned in- and another layer unfolded.  When love goes wrong- as the song foretells- the hero (of the song) always plays the victim- seemingly an immature and naïve figure.  There is no sense of sympathy or empathy in our lead’s voice: a guy with no real sense of reality, the song’s core is being given a dressing-down.  Before you become entrenched in the song (some more); investigate the lyrics and dive into the story- the band come back to the fore.  Those attacking strings melt with forceful bass; the percussion strikes and pummels- the knife-edge composition mixes anxious strings and dark-edged beats.  Showcasing the band’s tight and intuitive relationship, it is a stunning segment.   Melting some of U2’s skyscraping early work with some Velvet Underground overtones; the song’s messages and central themes hits home.   With every disaster, the song’s lead is playing the victim; coming off the hurt party- someone who needs things to go his way all the time.  By the time you become invested in the story, the song comes to its end: the final utterance of the chorus sees our lead backed on vocals; that central mantra- “Darkness, rescue me”- comes back into effect- augmented and emphasised in the final stages.  By the time the song comes to its end, you are left wondering how things worked out: if the lead (Jeffreys) was rescued; if the song’s subjects found what they needed- if there was a fair resolution.

Being available on SoundCloud, Darkness is (one of two songs) that the public can hear- an insight into their stunning album.  Uplifting and emphatic; heavy and serious, the song tows the line between emotional grab and stadium-sized riffs/choruses- a fascinating mix that seems ready-made for the crowds.  One of the most agile and fresh bands to come out of Manchester, Darkness is better than most tracks out there- a testament to the band’s songwriting talents; the close and tight performances of the band members.  Jeffreys leads from the front: his vocal is strong and resilient; gripping and emotive- making sure the song’s messages are understood and appreciated.  Someone who has seen his share of disreputable sorts, you hear the convicting and sense of fatigue- the need to get away from crap situations; find some sort of salvation.  Gray Shaw’s bass keeps the song sturdy and focused: making sure nothing gets out of hand; he leads with force- displaying a keen ear for melody and rhythm.  Instilled with a clear sense of personality and purpose, Shaw matches cutting drive with restrained guidance- adding force and emotion when the song calls for it.  Smethurst’s lead guitar- sitting with Oliver’s guitar work- is emphatic and impressive throughout.  Strong-armed and resilient, the guitars cut and shred; attack and sting- making sure the listener is kept on the edge of their seats.  Never too heavy-handed and imposing, the strings add the necessary degree of weight and punch- the perfect complement to Jeffreys vocals.  With Jason “Nut” Coverdale charging from the back- providing a huge amount of drive and passion- and you have quite an incredible band.  Coverdale’s stick work is impressively tense and gripping (from first to last); keeping the song hard and heavy.  Completed with some fine production work- that makes sure no notes or vocals get lost or misheard- Darkness is allowed to breathe and flourish- and be fully appreciated.

Before I make my way out of my ‘comfort zone’- and towards some foreign wonders- I am looking around the current scene; the growing mass of Indie bands- wondering what their future will be.  At the moment (that genre) is the fastest-growing around: it requires more truth (and fewer diversions/musical complications) than other genres- it is more straight-ahead and to-the-point.  Within the genre, there are opportunities for mobility and surprise: those that understand this are those that remain in the memory.  Fatigued by the throng of twenty-something bands aimlessly playing- thinking it is sufficient enough to phone it in- when a terrific act comes along, it is always pleasing.  It does not take a lot to stand aside: some personal and intelligent lyrics; an original and bracing sound; songs that stick in the brain- few acts negate these simple points.  The From Carbon boys have their own drive and personality- although they include a little of other bands, they are very much their own.  Darkness is a track that has not received a lot of air play and blog space- I do not understand why.  One of Wealth’s standout tracks, it is the band at their finest- the distillation and fine process of all their shades and elements; a brilliant fusion of components- getting too much into the carbon analogies (the band need to change their name!).  Before signing off, it is worth pushing the band into your mind: check out the (couple of songs) they have on SoundCloud; make sure you snap up Wealth- ironically, it is very reasonably priced; make certain to make the band one of your ‘new discoveries’.  In the Indie/Alternative arena, there are few bands that really pull it off: tick all the boxes and put you in mind of the legends past- the likes of The Smiths, Oasis, Doves and so forth.  Although the boys have their unique sound- and could not readily be compared to those acts- the comparable bedrocks remain: the knack with an instantaneous chorus/tune; lyrics that mix personal introspection and huge uplift (The Smiths could even do that) and terrific melodies- what else could you possible desire?!  Well, there is more to recommend: From Carbon are planning new songs; readying themselves for future sounds- so brace yourself for what is to come.  In the meantime, investigate Wealth; hope over to SoundCloud; give them a ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’- so you can keep up-to-date with all their happenings.   In a (music world) bestrewn with variable/mediocre/bat-shit lame acts, we should embrace those that circumvent expectations- go out their way to make exceptional music.  From Carbon are an elemental band; starting out and finding their way.  Although they are carbon now, we all know what (carbon turns into) and it is only a matter of time.  My lame/insatiable carbon-based puns aside, get involved in their graft; support a fine young band…

SIMPLE as that.

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