Track Review: FORTE- Goosebumps











Goosebumps will be available from 12th February.  Teasers from the track can be heard here:

RELEASE DATE: February 12th, 2016

GENRES: Rock; Alternative; Indie


London, U.K.


THE last couple of days has seen me assessing…

two London bands just starting out at the moment.  It is great witnessing a fledgling act making their initial steps into the world of music.  Whereas Duke of Wolves- yesterday’s review subject- had their single out in the ether; my featured act are providing teasers at the moment.  Next month the world will get a chance to hear their debut single in full.  It has been garnering radio play and some serious praise from the media in the meantime.  Before I get to that- and come to the subject of FORTE- it is worth mentioning a few subjects: The importance of radio play early on; the male bands emerging onto the scene- finishing off with a bit about the importance of the debut single.  A lot of musicians will be starting their careers in 2016 and going in with high hopes.  Perhaps they will have their social media pages set up and ready: Facebook and Twitter primed waiting for people to discover them.  I find a lot of acts do not really push themselves too hard when they first arrive in music.  There is an assumption that so long as you are visible online; that will get people listening and sharing your work.  What I have found first-hand- when it comes to some of my reviews- is that people do not share things they should be- this includes a lot of the musicians themselves.  Social media is useful to a certain degree I am finding.  So long as you support/follow some genuinely nice people- those that will spread the word and promote your work- then you are going to struggle to find necessary backing.  So many people follow a band/act- maybe commenting on a song and loving it- without spreading it out to their followers.  It is one of the downsides of social media: People are not as sociable as they should be.  Being such a massive, compartmentalised and random system, it is incredibly difficult relying it on at all- the musicians themselves have to take charge and create their own chances.  When you come onto the scene, it is vital getting radio stations involved and playing your stuff.  There are a lot of available stations out there- from national to local stations- that you can hit-up and email.  Whilst stations do get tonnes of requests for airplay, it is always worth putting your music out there and seeing what they say.  I have seen so many acts get new fans- get gig bookings and progress heavily- simply from the result of radio exposure.  Social media will only help you so much- when people can be bothered to do their part- so you need to reach out to the media.  FORTE are a band that have enjoyed some pretty notable radio attention so far- this week their debut single would have been played across eight B.B.C. stations throughout London and the south.  The boys have not been resting or sitting back in their early days: Digging deep and putting their music out there, they are a band that understands the importance of radio patronage.  When it comes to my featured band, FORTE are a five-piece with a little bit of mystery to them.   Their social media pages are a little bare at the moment- more photos and information will arrive in time- but what we have at the moment is a group with some dedicated and excited fans.  The London quintet are known as A.S., D.C.; H.P., R.B. and J.J.  Cool-as-crap purveyors of heavy sounds, it is not shocking the boys are getting some speculation and awed feedback.  When I was looking at Duke of Wolves yesterday- a similarly heavy band that could sit alongside FORTE- I was staggered by the confidence and quality of their debut cut.

Not many bands come in so strong and authoritative: What we have from FORTE is a similarly ambitious and assured effort.  Whilst teaser clips have been offered to the social media world- radio stations are the only others that have heard the full single- I get the chance to hear Goosebumps in its entirety.  When it is released in a few weeks, the world will get the opportunity to hear one of London’s freshest and most electrifying bands.  What I find baffling about a lot of bands is how weak they enter the scene.  Having reviewed quite a few new bands- who are not culpable of the point I am making- too many groups produce a limp and under-produced debut effort.  Even in the mainstream you get so many artists limping hobbling into music: If you are not prepared to go in hard and meaningful, what is the point?  Maybe there are nerves and uncertainties that early- not sure what the public wants and what your true sound is- but musicians should be doing more.  I think there is too much urgency and pressure put on artists these days.  Having so many different musicians out there; so many artists rush releases so they can be among the pack- fearing they will be ignored if they take too much time recording music.  FORTE are boys that have taken time to craft their debut track: You can tell how much effort and practice has been put in.  The results speak for themselves and the London band have a big future ahead of them.  There are a lot of male bands emerging at this moment- as has always been the case- and many of them are producing the same kind of sounds.  Tending to favour the heavier side of music- Alternative, Rock and Indie sounds- there are many male groups playing along the same party lines.  Whilst the best male-produced band music of last year- in terms of the mainstream at least- tending to push the boundaries of Rock- the likes of Tame Impala and Young Father showed that- there is still a huge demand for straight-out Rock and Alternative sounds.  Whilst FORTE (on paper at least) might seem like your workaday Rock band, they are so much more than that: The lads have exceptional musicianship and tease in other genres to create something quite special.  I mentioned the likes of Tame Impala- who usitlise electronic sounds and Dance music into a hypnotic blend- that is a direction I can see FORTE heading into.  There seems to be a shift-when it comes to Rock bands- to bring in other avenues and sounds (to make their music more diverse and dance-able).  Whilst Goosebumps is a direct and gutsy song, it shows a band with plenty of nuance, layers and ideas.  I would be fascinated to see where future songs take them- whether they open their sound up and bring new elements in- but I know the London clan will be a name to watch.  With so many bands coming into music, the new players have to distinguish themselves and make impressions.  Too often artists coming in and sound lifeless and unoriginal: Sounding watered-down idea-less, they are always going to have a short shelf life.  FORTE are getting adulation and predictions that could see them being big festival names of the future.  As London is housing so many sensational new bands, do not be shocked to see our FORTE boys playing Reading and Leeds in the coming years: They have a sound and confidence that is ready-made for the big stages.

When it comes to FORTE, it is hard to compare Goosebumps with anything else they have done- being their first stamp on the world of music.  What I discovered from the band is how original and different they sound.  Upon hearing their single, it was tough to bring other names to mind.  Perhaps those with sharper ears will be able to hear elements of other acts- if they were really digging that deep- but upon initial investigations, who does FORTE sound like?  If I were to put money on it, I would say the London group has gone out of their way not to sound like anyone else at all.  Too many bands- that are inspired by other artists- make their music sound like their heroes’: What you get are songs that are easily comparable and too unoriginal.  It is great having influences and idols- every musician in the world does- but you cannot just make your music sound just like theirs.  Well, you can, but the trouble is your careers will be short-lived: Why listen to a band that is a second-rate version of one that is already out there?  The trick is to incorporate little shades and sprinklings of other artists- either in terms of the music or vocals- and ensure the abiding impression is one of originality and freshness.  FORTE have a sound that is both universal and unique.   On the one hand, Goosebumps is a song that could easily inspire singalongs and unified crowds- it has a familiar feeling to it- yet I cannot find another act/band they sound like.  Perhaps a shrewd and wise move by the boys- who want to remain distinct but not too alien- they have produced music that is tailored for the radio stations of the U.K.  It is perhaps no fluke the boys have already enjoyed that impression radio attention: It seems they have cracked a tough nut early on in their careers.  Whilst a lot of bands I review- cannot name any names you’ll understand- produce a so-so debut; here the FORTE clan has come in impressively strong.  The question is how they develop and capitalise on their debut strength.  I think the guys will look to put an E.P. out some time this year- they may have other ideas- that will be a three/four-track release.  Obviously Goosebumps will be high up the track listing; the lads will probably keep their sound tight and focused.  With such a defined and exceptional sound already crafted, perhaps they do not need to stretch and widen it too much: Perhaps they will become a bit more experimental and genre-hopping a little way down the line.  It will be exciting to see what this year brings for FORTE: Whether they have any tour dates planned or are going to be heading back into the studio.  If you are a fan of the best Rock music has to offer-newcomers such as Royal Blood; older acts like Foo Fighters- there are some comparable shades within FORTE.  What the quintet does is to use Rock’s templates as a starting point: Their music has plenty of emotion and dimensions; subtlety and softness among the hardness- diversity and directness in equal measures.  Those that like their music nuanced, soulful and kinetic will definitely have to check FORTE out.

Making sure Goosebumps registers instant promise, the early drumbeats get the listener stood to attention and hooked.  A big and tribal percussion slam- that compels people to clap hands and get their voices ringing- the boys go in hard and confidently.  As that drum beat slams and drives away it is met with a grizzled and bristling electric guitar sound: One that is shimmering shivering; emotive and reflective in equal measures.  Letting the introduction work and extend, you become invested in the moves, motifs and colours it projects.  An evocative and dramatic opening salvo, FORTE has ensured that the listener is brought into the song and imagines what is to come.  Too many bands and artists either jump straight in with vocals- worried people will get bored if they do not- or produce an introduction that is wandering and unfocused.  FORTE provide so much story and possibility with their earliest notes that you wonder what shape the vocal will take- and what the initial words will speak of.  “Pick a star and rearrange the sky” are the first words and ones that make you wonder and speculate.  Oblique and non-specific, there are so many possibilities when you consider that line.  Delivered with passion and gusto, the listener instantly takes their minds to the skies and what is being attested.  Perhaps a romantic proclamation or a shout-out to the dreamers- you can do anything you want if you aim high- I was compelled to dig deep and see what was behind those words.  Part-poetic and part-direct, one star shines bright in the eye of the heroine.  Whether the band’s subject (early on here) are looking at a sweetheart, female or male subject I am not sure- the fact our hero has goosebumps suggests a lover is being attested.  Delivering the words with a soulful heart and plenty of compassion, I was fascinated and interested early on.  After that stunning introduction and intriguing words, it is impossible not to let your mind imagine and suck yourself into the song.  Throughout Goosebumps, there are grand proclamations and heady praise.  Our boy’s girl (having seen the video is an intoxicating and captivating muse) is able to part the clouds with the slightest sigh/breath.  Someone who has clearly captured his heart and seduced his mind; the emotions, passion and lust drips from every note.  Keeping the composition light and restrained at this stage- the band create a suitably atmospheric and powerful canvas for our hero- it allows that voice to reign and rule in the foreground.  Whist the girl runs her hands down the spine (of our lead) you get a tender and touching scene unfolding.  At every stage that voice is in awe and completely star-struck: Imbued with intensity and trembling knees, it is one of the most direct and impressive vocals I have heard from a young band this year.  Perhaps these ideas and proclamations are dreams and intentions- the lyrics suggest our man is fantasising to an extent- and the girl in question may be a soon-to-be lover.  Maybe she is with another man at the moment- or is somewhere overseas- but you can sense that need and desire that comes out.  We have all been in the situation when we have lusted for someone we cannot have- or belong to someone else- and let our minds wander into fantasy territory.  From the lyrics/vocals laid-out I get the sense there is some history and back-story to the song.  Perhaps our lead has already been with the girl or they have been involved: That need to rekindle a flame and become more involved.  That is the beauty of the early lyrics: You have a two-sided interpretation that will get listeners guessing and interpreting.  As the chorus blazes into view the band augment the composition and let the volume rise. The lead vocal rises to an impassioned and burning roar: Raising to the heavens it is an immensely electric and committed performance that gives the words such authority and meaning.  The band combines to provide a staggering backdrop of sounds and colours that gets inside the mind and provokes a huge reaction.  Our hero is at the height of his desires as hero asks whether he “was good” and doing it right.  The chorus shines more light and truth to Goosebumps: It seems like our duo are in the throes of passion and wrapped inside one another’s arms.  Maybe our man is in the midst of dream conspiring although the direct and to-the-point vocal suggests he has got the girl he desired.  Whether a current love- or a past romance that has inspired this song- it is clear his lover means/meant a huge deal.  It has been a long time since I witnessed a vocal with such a flair and power to it: As the chorus unfolds the intensity becomes almost head-exploding as our hero becomes overwhelmed by the power of the romance.

His sweetheart makes him feel better “on the inside” and has brought a lot of safety and light to his life.  Perhaps lonely and lost before meeting her; it is clear this bond has enriched his life and has seduced his soul.  Before the next verse comes into view, the composition is allowed to step into the spotlight.  The guitars remain rapturous and inflamed whilst the bass guides the song forward- the percussion tight and sharp in its attack and motivation.  Conversations and past events are replayed as the lead comes back to the microphone.  Feeling tongue-tied and confused, it seems like there has been some break-down of communications.  Although, upon deeper investigation- and our man still receiving goosebumps- it may not have been fraught or pained at all.   Maybe our hero has said something nonsensical or regretful: Maybe he is trying to convey something hard; it seems like his girl gets him and knows exactly what he means.  That connection and understanding runs deep: A bond that seems a perfect fit and natural, it is one of the few love songs I have heard recently with an overtly positive message to it.  In a world that is suffocated by uncertainties, horrors and violence; perhaps it is no surprise Goosebumps has been received with such warmth.  A lot of tracks are too negative and sorrowful: Here we get a track that brims with admiration and purity; it is a love song that pays tribute to an extraordinary soul.  As our hero lets his voice strike and emote- recalling just how much his girl means- the band throw in little sparks and beats that give the song a constant intrigue and energy.  Whether it is a spiky little riff or a drum fill- or the bass pushing the song forward- your mind is pulled in two different directions.  The impressive composition has its own life and appeal: It combines seamlessly with the foreground and pushes the vocals to fever-pitch.  When our boy is at his lowest ebb and down in the dumps; it is his girl that can raise the spirits and get him back to normal.  At every stage you cast yourself in his mind and watch the scenes unfold.  It is probably not a shock Goosebumps has received positive feedback: The song’s subjects have a relatable edge that many can understand and appreciate.  With a hard and urgent core, the song has accessibility and mainstream appeal.  Whilst it (I hope) will not be picked up by the bland Pop stations of the capital; it has plenty of potential to be spun across the most impressive airwaves of the capital.  Endlessly emotive, passionate and dramatic; you cannot ignore the intensity and purity that comes out.  As the chorus comes swinging back into the foreground- and its words gain new meaning and relevance- that combination of vocal and composition sounds ever more vital and impressive.  As the song reaches the final minute, we get echoed vocals and something quite spacey.  In the midst of a full-blown trance, our hero is in a fever of passion and desire.  My early interpretations looked at dreams and bygone bonds: It seems like this relationship is very much alive and burning bright- an intensity and firework display that is unlikely to stop any time soon.  So many modern love songs are negative and anxious- looking at break-up and deceitfulness- so it is refreshing to hear a song on the flip-side.  A positive and outright tribute to a pure love; you have a musical moment that subverts music’s worst instincts.  Given how sad music-lovers have been recently- following the deaths of two of its biggest names- we are embracing music that makes us feel better and reflect too.  Goosebumps has that positivity and urgency that cannot be ignored without it distancing listeners in the process.  It is a song that wants people to get involved and feel something inside- catchy and compelling enough to get people singing aloud.  In the final moments my mind started to look at the composition and how it works.  The percussion has a static charm to it- a heartbeat that gives the song blood-flow and punctuation- whilst the guitars seem faster and more vibrant.  Not only do they work together perfectly; the guitars are the bloodstream and shiver our man feels- as though the band is employing instruments as senses/metaphors for emotions and feelings.  The bass is fluid and commanding throughout: Perhaps representing a solid and unflinching soul; it also unites the instruments and pushes the vocal on.  The final seconds give that chorus another chance to say its piece- sounding even more relevant and captivating here- as our lead lets that voice get lost in the moment.  With some rapturous strings and punchy beats bringing the song to its close, FORTE wrap up a hugely impressive and compelling track.

Filled with nuance, phenomenal production values and emotion: Goosebumps is a track that is already warranted acclaim, radio-play and positivity.  Given its pure and positive messages, I am not surprised so many listeners have related to the song.  With the band being referred-to by initials, it is hard to get insight into the quintet- there is a bit of mystery to the lads.  What I can say is what a tight and impressive band they are.  It sounds like they have been playing together for years- that confident and assuredness sounds like a band with a rich history- and they will be playing for many years to come.  At every stage FORTE are completely connected and exhilarating.  That lead vocal is endlessly commanding and strong throughout.  Not sounding like anyone I have heard- there are a few shades of others but nothing too obvious- it is such a passionate and soulful weapon.  Bringing the words to life and giving them such gravitas: Here you have a singer that could make the phone book sound interesting.  Dealing with words that have a huge personal relevance; they are delivered with such heart and affection.  The guitar work from the band gives the song its injection of lust and shiver.  I said a bit earlier how the guitars sound like racing pulse and bloodstream: It seems like the band are using the guitars to summon up those racing heartbeats and spinning heads.  With the lead being caught in the blizzard of a huge love; the guitars are hugely important backing the words and making sure the vocal is given the support it needs.  On that note, the bass drives the song forward and promotes the voice too.  Keeping all the threads together and showing discipline- you are guaranteed Goosebumps stands up to repeated listens and closer investigation.  That drum does not idly stand in the back making little impression: A tangible and evident heartbeat; you have a performance that gives the track a huge hit and sense of drama.  Altogether the band unites supremely across a song that is an impressive and nuanced gem.  It has gained attention from radio- and will gain a lot more play in time- and is a song you need to get.  Although not officially released for a few more weeks: Ensure you check out the teasers on the band’s official Facebook page.  Blending Rock and Indie cores with something more mainstream and Pop- without compromising the intensity and integrity of the track- you have a song that will appeal to the die-hard Rock aficionados- that like their sounds hard-hitting and gritty- and bring in lovers of something more passionate, restrained and tender.  Filled with depth, desire and praise; few listeners are immune to the charm and treasure of Goosebumps.  Phantasmagorical it is not: Here is a number that recounts an intense and wonderful love.  If you want to find something that will get you singing- and stick in the memory for a long time- and moved; you need to check out the debut from one of London’s finest new acts.

It is hard to say how far a band will go off the strength of a debut single.  Given the rewards and praise the boys have already gained- that radio play and great attention over social media- the lads have a great momentum in their corner already.  Having spoken with the band’s guitarist Jesse James (J.J.); there is excitement and fond desires among the band- they want to succeed and go onto bigger things.  The boys have already secured B.B.C. Introducing London and B.B.C. Introducing Three Counties (for spot plays)- a great start for a band who have only been around for a few weeks!  Goosebumps is a solid and confident statement from a band that wants to remain in music for many years to come.  Those ambitions and dreams do not seem too far-fetched as they have a sound that is very much their own.  Not keen to be compared to any other act out there, the guys have drawn from their personal experiences and lives to create a song that has got many people very excited.  Having has a very busy start to their career; I am not sure what direction the next year will take.  Obviously the boys will be touring, although I am not sure whereabouts they will be playing- keep your eyes on their social media pages.  With regards new music, I am sure an E.P. will be in their minds: Again, it is up to them when that is going to be released.  For now the band are focusing on Goosebumps and seeing how the public react to that.  One of the golden rules- and cardinal sins on the flip-side- is the issue of getting radio play: So many bands and musicians do not contact radio stations early in their careers.  In the opening I looked at the mixed benefits of social media- how it is not always as helpful as it should be- and how too many acts are hoping it will do all the work for them.  Given the pacificity of many social media users- how few will actually share music and support acts- it is vital to take action and control your own career.  Radio stations will get loads of requests by the week: They will always make time and space for the acts truly worthy of radio play.  If you send a tweet or contact stations directly, you give yourself a much better chance of getting exposure and attention.  FORTE have been played on B.B.C. London and across the Home Counties: Here is a young act that has already resonated with a lot of people.  On 11th February the boys will launch their single- supported by Foam and special guests- in north London.  I can see Goosebumps making it onto the playlists of London’s credible mainstream stations- Absolute Radio and ‘6 Music- and avoiding the lesser/rubbish ones- the likes of Heart Radio, Capital F.M. and Kiss F.M.  As there are so many male bands coming through- many playing in the Rock mould- only the brightest and most original will succeed.  So many bands are either desperately slight or unoriginal- being too similar to someone else out there- or go in rather insincerely on their debut song.  FORTE have ensured their first move remains in the memory and sets them up for a prosperous and long career.  It is dangerous making predictions early but is it is clear this London five-piece will be on the scene for years to come.  London is a busy music centre and is welcoming all manner of musicians into the world.  Bands are always going to a popular and in-demand commodity; for that reason, those coming in need to make their early music really count.  FORTE have managed to keep their core hard and heavy- whilst ensuring there is plenty of depth and emotion when it really counts.  Not your workaday Rock band, the lads dig deeper and come up with something much more rewarding and layered.  It is just left to me to congratulate the boys and let’s hope 2016 will be a diamond year for them- I have no doubt it will be very special indeed.  Goosebumps is an apt title for a song that has registered a lot of praise among the legions of social media followers (for the band).  Take time to discover a band (and song) that is worth…


A lot of love and attention.


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