Going Under is available via:
Rock; Indie; Alternative
17th January 2016
The E.P. Something to Shout About is available at:
ONCE more, and without resorting to a mock Scottish accent, I…
am looking at a much-rated Glasgow band. I will come to the band themselves anon but it is prudent to reflect on the great music that has emanated from Glasgow; the difficulty of creating Indie/Alternative songs with originality; a bit about expansion with regards music tastes and areas that are burgeoning. As I am back into Glasgow; it is prudent reflecting on all the fantastic music that has come from the Scottish city. I guess, when we look at Scottish music, we often think of Glasgow and Edinburgh: forget that there are a lot of other wonderful towns/cities with terrific musicians. It is not down to laziness that we herald Glasgow and its music – just taking a gaze back to history makes you realise how many of the best British bands of the last few decades came from here. Franz Ferdinand – if they are still making music? – call Glasgow home and perhaps are one of the best examples of a great Post-punk/Indie band with an arty, slightly pretentious twist. There is something both common and elitist about the group. One of those ‘00s bands that swept you away with anthemic songs but got you thinking – a lot deeper and more compelling than most of their peers. Orange Juice, a bit older but same sort of aesthetic, are another terrific Glasgow band. Many, particularly of my generation, pass them by but you cannot underestimate how vital and influential albums like You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever (their debut) were. Leader Edwyn Collins remains one of the most consistent, unique and intelligent songwriters of his generation. Primal Scream, one of the titans of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Their sophomore album, Screamadelica is a classic creation that has influenced so many bands and remains one of the greatest albums from any period. You can add Deacon Blue to the list of great Glasgow bands. Not quite as bracing and experimental as other Glaswegian groups: they had a knack for crafting accessible Pop with huge choruses and heart – songs Real Gone Kid and Chocolate Girl are familiar to all. Other Glasgow legends like Simple Minds, Marmalade and Belle and Sebastian are definite stalwarts – among the finest bands from the past twenty years.
It is not just established bands that have made Glasgow such a wonderful city for music. The Yawns, been playing for years but still relevant, are a group that created bedroom-made, D.I.Y. albums and showed you did not need industry cash to make music happen. 1990s are led by John McKeown, have plenty of hooks, wit and native narrative at their disposal – a group that are distinctly Glaswegian yet have a universality and everyman quality to them. Like the aforementioned, and not brand-new-new, The Delgados were/are an intellectual band with a bookish edge. A band who put huge imagination and intellect into their music – they went on to establish their own record label. The Deathcats put Glasgow in the consciousness with their head-spinning, electric saw riffs and reverb-heavy gems. Instant, urgent and laced with plenty of attitude: another band that shows the variation and multiple sides to Glasgow. Perhaps the likes of Happy Meals and Catholic Action are more relevant. The former fuse minimalistic Disco vibes with French vocals of Suzzane Rodden – alluring and sexy but instilled with groove, dance and beauty. Catholic Action, aside from their awesome name, are masters of the hook: capable of dragging the listener in and seducing them without breaking into a sweat. That is just the tip of things really. Neon Waltz are an upcoming six-piece who have ties to Glasgow but have toured throughout Scotland. Honeyblood, Paws, and Strange are a Glasgow trio worth money, time and focus – all capable of being mainstream propositions for years to come.
The Trend fit into Glasgow pretty easily and have a distinctly local, read: anthemic, sound to them. I have listed quite a few bands: one wonders how many of them featured in the band members’ thoughts as youngsters. We often see a band/artist and what genres they play in and think we have them pegged. If they are an all-male Indie band they are all going to sound the same, for instance. It is narrow-minded to think every group will be predictable and lack necessary originality. I agree, there are so many groups that replicate one another or come across uninspired and predictable – sticking too closely to their idols or incapable of crafting songs with hooks, kick or any electricity. The Trend have a lot of similar bands playing near them so have had to work hard to forge their own path and stand out from the crowd. The boys have ample energy and passion which means their songs have anthem status and come swinging with instant hooks and sizzling guitar work. Our Glasgow band call for other bands to do something useful and meaningful with their platform: get up and say something new and purposeful. The boys can knock simple songs together but go deep when the mood calls for it – not your average one-dimensional band. Whether you are a fan of Indie, Alternative and Rock in general: you will be impressed and affected by the band’s musicianship and compelling connection. The music comes across as fresh and enlivening but has enough emotion and vulnerability at times – even the most crowd-pleasing and anthemic numbers do not merely reproduce what has gone before. It would be naïve to suggest the band have redesigned the wheel and are completely unexpected. Part of their appeal and popularity hinges on some familiar edges and embers of other bands. Comparisons have been made (among others) to Oasis at times. The same way the Manchester band could get crowds together and singing loud: The Trends are a group that pen universal songs that demand you get together and sing along. Memorability and catchiness are important commodities but can be cheapened by copy-catting your idols. The Trend take a sprinkling of some heavyweight artists but ensure their most prominent trait is a new and original sound – something that is distinctly theirs. In genres that have been accused or stagnation and homogenisation: it is pleasing finding a band that understand the need for originality and respond accordingly.
I will get to the Glasgow band’s work in a minute but wanted to look suggest people get out of preconceived comfort zones. I feel most of us, I am culpable, get used to certain artists and cities; do not stray beyond those walls and get into our own little rut. It is definitely worth getting behind home-based artists and supporting the local music community. Naturally, London gets a lot of exposure and is, as I see things, the British epicenter for music – the finest acts and biggest hitters reside here. Manchester and Liverpool get attention (not as much as they deserve) but our adventurousness and energy levels stop there – we often do not spend too much time digging any deeper. It is impossible to cover every town and city in Britain let alone the world – we have to be rational and sensible about this. I just mean there are some very obvious areas that are being ignored by large sections. I would argue Edinburgh should be on the list; Oxford and Bristol are productive and interesting; Glasgow certainly should be there. Often, our tastes and recommendations come from radio: following the tips and teasers they put our way. It might be like pulling Excalibur from a stone: one day we’ll get a website together that compartmentalises music by town/county but encourages users to spend time and find some genuinely unexpected music – from parts of the country/world we had not thought about before. Until that time comes (if ever it does) it is worth being a bit bolder and accepting the likes of The Trend are worth your time – imploring you to seek out more of Glasgow’s musicians.
Something to Shout About is their new E.P., and you get a full impression of where they came from, it is worth looking back at their earlier stuff. The E.P., as I will look at in more detail later, has great hooks and plenty of arena-primed songs designed for maximum impact and getting the crowds roused and lifted. Going Under has bristling, stabbing riffs and a swaggering mood. Reminding you of Artic Monkeys to an extent: something modern and Alternative-based; bringing together influenced from the north and Scotland – whilst keeping a distinct character and sense of self. You can hear those sorts of mixes in songs like Act of God. A warping, spacey opening leads to a racing arpeggio. The song tumbles and spoils out the gate and unleashes something fiery and determined. The kind of people that don’t know they’re born, as the lead attests, there is trouble brewing and something happening. The band ensures the song is provided maximum energy and electricity with a tight and commanding performance. Departing from your average Indie/Alternative fare: the lyrics go deep and you wonder what influenced them. Our hero looks at cynicism and problems around and wonders how things got that way. Whether directed to a government or ruling class; an individual that is blind to what is going on around them – a track that hits on multiple plains and gets you fascinated and addicted.
Falling Apart, recorded about 3 years ago, has that gritty and gravel slam to it. A fast-paced, Punk-influenced song: it was cut around the time of Act of God but does not stick too closely to it. Proving they have variation and different sides to their game: The Trend creates something fiercer that aims to hit the gut. Perhaps attesting domestic drama and a relationship falling apart: a song that swings and throws around but is controlled and nuanced. Every song The Trend plays is defined by their chemistry and incredible bond. The vocals are gutsy and intense – some of the lyrics get lost under the composition – but you get carried away by the sheer energy and catchiness of the song. Falling Apart is a song designed and aimed, once more, at festival crowds and for live audiences. It is hard to ignore them as a band because each track carries so such conviction, weight, and invigoration. Here, they have bits of Oasis to their sound but never come across too similar to them – merely employing them as an influence. Other songs like Free and Beauty Queen, recorded during the same time period, once more push their boundaries whilst retaining that core sound. Elements of ‘60s Power-Pop and Punk; Alternative and Indie: you get so many different shades and sides to the band. What stands out then, as it does now, is how different they are and gripping. I have mentioned that word but it seems very apt. So many modern bands are slight and weak when it comes to sound. The Trend burst from the speakers and grip you by the collar – bringing you into their world and taking you off their feet. Songs move the bones and get the voice singing proud. Having started so strongly, it would be foolish to suggest the band step it up and improve their game. Tactically, the guys have created (with Going Under) have improved on their foundations and sound at their very peak. In terms of sound, there has not been a huge leap nor did there need to be. What you notice is the production is slightly crisper and cleaner whilst the performances are sharper and more engaging. Perhaps extensive touring or new inspiration but the boys are intoxicating and expert; sounding like a group that has been gigging for decades now. Going Under is the centerpiece to their E.P. – and why I wanted to focus on it – as it assesses where they are now and what they are about. I wonder, given the material was recorded a little while ago now; if there will be anything new by the end of the year. You can hear the passion and energy in the ranks and just know they will keep building, crafting and producing exceptional songs.
I want to concentrate on Going Under as it seems like the truest and concentrated example of the E.P.’s themes, sounds, and shades. It has been released as a single, and has a video, so the boys have a lot of faith in the song. That faith is not blind and it is a song that signifies its dominance without much hesitation or foreplay. The bass and percussion unite once more and show what natural partners they are. Few bands lead like this and certainly never put the bass out front in their music – it is often left to work in the background and rarely gets the exposure it deserves. A tense and nervy start: The Trend keep it light but there is a definite element of danger and caution in the opening moments. Teasing, testing percussion gives anxiety and nerviness to the song; the bass adds to that environment and, without overloading the song and being too heavy, you feel the emotion build. Before long, the riffs break out and The Trend crack out their scintillating jams. It is hard to describe and define the riff but it has that definite classic quality and recalls the likes of Artic Monkeys and Paul Weller. Vibing from the spirit and essence of those stalwarts: The Trend create something instant and captivating. Before a single word has been sung: the music has said so much and the feet are moving; the brain is ready and the body is already invested in the music. Just after the percussion crackles and smacks again: you are primed for the first vocal offerings and just what direction the song will take. Our man is heading into the night (away from the light) and slipping away. You wonder what is being sung about as the lyrics have quite an oblique quality early on. Perhaps emotions have got the better or a romance has fallen away – maybe just a general feeling of losing control and not being who he thought he was. Ensuring the voice has plenty of meaning and conviction: it never runs away but remains focused and direct; ensuring each word can be heard and understood. Early songs from the band have suffered a little from clarity but here it is very clear and concise: the production values mean every note is understandable and not lost in the mix.
With any great band/song, there is that mystique and indirect charm to the song. You are left to come to your own conclusions early and draw your own impressions. The band joins their voices in the chorus and you are curious (once more) just what the song is looking at. Of course, there is a lot of fear and uncertainty from our hero – not sure if he is going to be okay and what the future holds. I was imagining a general malaise and struggle against the pressures of life. Not necessarily defined by creative or romantic abnormalities: it is a song that brings home the obstacles and realities of the modern-day existence. He is feeling the pinch and needs some relief and space; get away from the hurly-burly and find some comfort and quiet. I may be off the mark but that is what Going Under does: registers different interpretations in the listener and has a broad lyrical basis. At the point “of no return” and aware of his situation: the fascination builds and you cannot help empathise with the lead. Despite the vocal never being sad or affected – you just know that need for answers and salvation is burning. Before you get too invested; the band step in with that opening riff and give the song a break and chance for the band to come together. Whereas other tracks on Something to Shout About (title track for instance) are specific and make their intentions very clear: Going Under is always an enigma and casts its net pretty wide.
The hero is moving on and looking at thought racing away; at the back of the mind and niggling him. Nobody is “safe anymore” and you feel the song is looking at general society and a building danger. With the way things are going – the general state of affairs – few of us are truly safe and secure in our lives. Perhaps Going Under reflects that dread; the lead is staying in the hole and is struggling to come out. Despite the negativity and repressed lyrics and sense of dread: the song is never bogged down or a hard listen. The sheer spirit and resilience of the band keep it light, defiant and engaging throughout. Like classic Punk and Rock bands: they are in a crap situation but are damned if it going to define them. The Trend’s determined spirit and combustible performance puts the song in your head and compels you to sing along – or move your feet at the very least! Working around the central riff and all its alcohol-fueled, swaggering assuredness – the band lace in some lovely touches and riffs. With the percussion and bass continue to drive the song and give it an accelerated heartbeat: guitars allow some colour, vibrancy, and sexiness to strut through. Towards the end, the song has an optimism and sense of hope to it. The hero is finding his way home and seems to be in a better place. Perhaps disconnected from home and somewhere he is unsafe: that desire and endless spirit is in the mind and you are with him all the way. Going Under has a simplicity to it which will make it easy for fans to sing along and makes it accessible and direct. The words, despite their oblique touches, get you thinking and everyone will have their different views. The Trend are a band who always bring exceptional compositions to the fore and here is no exception. So many details come out and the central riffs are exceptional. If you want to be cheered and find a song that will put the smile on your face: Going Under does that and introduces one of Glasgow’s finest young bands in the process.
It has been good discovering another great Glasgow band. I am sure the city has plenty of incredible solo artists but it seems like the bands rule the roost. Few cities are synonymous when it comes to band concentration. That is not to say Glasgow is narrow and limited: if you look closely; there are plenty of solo musicians (duos etc.) that are making their presence known. It just seems Glasgow are well-stocked for bands and there is a lot of variability and choice. If you prefer your music band-made then you need to spend more time investigating what the city has to offer. The Trend are certainly one of the most exciting and hard-working; grabbing the attention of critics and fans – signaling themselves as potential mainstream stars of the future. It will be interesting seeing how they develop and what their plans are for the coming years. I have looked, at the top of the review, at the great artists that have come out of Glasgow. It is easy to be fixated with the likes of London (and what it has given us) but Glasgow’s legends cannot be understated. I am not sure what it is that differentiates Glasgow from the rest of the U.K. Perhaps a sense of community or a different way of life: greater performance opportunities for its musicians or a feeling of freedom and support. Whatever it is; many new artists are adding to a very solid and impressive foundation. Indie and Alternative are words thrown around a lot when describing a fresh band. I mentioned how those genres gained a reputation for rigidity and a sense of weariness – musicians perhaps not as original and impressive as they should be. There is some truth in that, but we shouldn’t assume every new Indie/Alternative band suffers that fate. It is a hard style to truly redesign and shine in - one of the most popular and defined by a particular sound and lyrical style. Luckily, The Trend manage to make something (potentially forgettable) stand in the mind and brim with personality and addictiveness. Critics and fans have pointed out what a proposition they are live: their studio prowess can be found throughout their E.P., Something to Shout About.
Something to Shout About has gained some great reviews and clearly strikes a public chord. The title track is a spiraling mesh of riffs and strings; it howls and burst with intention and spares no time in making an impact. It “don’t flow through our veins no more” and you know the band are talking about their contemporaries - bands that are not saying anything new and making an effort. They are afraid to say what’s on their mind and are playing things safe. Carried under the wave of anger and passion: the band is at their most together and meaningful. They are looking for something to shout about and a band they can rely on. Drug-free and lacking Rock spirit: there is tepidness and fear among groups; nobody is going out their way to create something special and brave – not saying what is on their mind. The Trend attack with venom and show, ironically in the song, they are something to shout about. The composition is detailed and emotive. Bass shines and provides melody, grumble, and emotion; the riffs sparkle and bristle; psychedelic and explosive. Percussion notes pummel and make sure the song beats hard. Not your predictable or average track: it dies down and comes back up; there are diversions and asides; change of course and subversions of expectations. A classic call-for-action and rallying cry from the group. By the final notes, you are left with a smile but also compelled to think. Complete with wordless chants and a classic feel-good vibe: a perfect insight into the band’s mindset and artistry. Take Me Away is bellicose and avalanche right from the off. That percussion comes through and gets straight into the brain. Building with the guitar and bass: Take Me Away has a sense of smile and sunshine early on. Bright-hued and vibrant; little elements of ‘60s Pop, The Libertines, and other bands – whilst keeping The Trend’s definite sound solid and sharp. “I’ll never understand a word that you say” leads you to believe there is another look at society or other bands. Our lead wants to be taken where the skies are clear and wants to get away. If it is looking at a relationship or romance, then you can hear the boredom and dissatisfaction. The same conversations and routines unfolding; that desire to go somewhere better and different – escape the dull days and not return. It is an intriguing song that reigns clear and gets into the heart. The band, once more, shows their malleability and is less foreboding and intense than the title track. “Don’t want to see it anymore” declares our man: you speculate what is being referenced but just know he is not going to stick around.
Tonight begins, as one might hope, with an intriguing compositional build. The percussion spatters and patters, while a growing, groaning riff starts to stomp and make its impressions felt. An odd combination that works well for the song. In terms of sounds, you get the sense of early-career Oasis and their anthemic tracks. Guitars and vocals have an element of the Manchester band but the lyrics very much play into The Trend’s camp. Unlike other tracks, there is a sense of romance and hope and you get affected by the purity and desire in the performance. The soul is being nourished and the blood is rushing: the hero is embracing Rock and music; feeling alright and pushing on. Others say he is out of his depth and battling the waves – curious to find out why that is – but that sense of defiance and rebellion comes out. Music is the focal muse and perhaps the salvation against a backdrop of uncertainty and struggle. His life is falling apart but he has music and surrendering to Rock and all its beauty. It is a subject matter that has been covered but not quite the same way as here. A perfect way to complete Something to Shout About. It is a song that will definitely resonate with audiences and you can see people chanting it and joining together in celebration. Tonight is not a dead-ahead and one-dimensional song. Going through stages and having a sense of evolution running through it: you are kept on your toes and always surprised; the band is masterful when it comes to throwing curveballs. Something to Shout About lives up to the title track’s desires and necessities. That song looks at bands who say nothing new and do not get the mind engaged – too timid and cautious when it comes to subject matter. By addressing that subject head-on, the Glasgow band show they are not like them. Never sticking with romance themes and everyday tropes: the E.P. covers more important subjects and hits you much deeper. The title track makes you think and makes a point. It could be arrogant to write a song like that and would be a disaster if The Trend do not live up to their lyrics and differ from their peers – luckily they do and make their point know. The entire E.P. is packed with gems and potential future anthems. I know the songs have been played live and imagine the crowds are lapping them up. One of those bands that tie together some familiar bands – Oasis for one – but never copies them; merely lace in some of their magic; they are one of the freshest and most distinct groups of the moment. Exceptional musicianship and comradery break through and every song has its own voice and will stick in the head for a long time. I know the boys have been touring hard and getting out there. Those dates, with a terrific E.P. under their belt, is just…
THE start of many great gigs.
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