Home is available at:
RELEASED: July 2016
Ben Sansom _______________________
FOR this particular outing, I not only get to look at the kind of Alternative-Rock…
bands coming through - I will be able to assess the validity and strength of new bands in addition to those who expend texture and consideration; a look at artists emanating outside of London. I have been concentrating on a lot of solo artists and neglecting the bands out there. That is folly because, as my featured artists prove, there is a great deal of terrific ones out there. The reason I have been focusing on the solo star is because of a need/desire to help those starting out – those that have few other bodies helping their music and tackling everything alone. It is scary and hard entering music and having to foot all the responsibility and labour without any intervention. As fun as it’s been to look at solo acts and the best out there: one has that desire to come back to bands and see what is happening at that end of the market. One of the reasons I was a little shy towards bands is (the fact) I was hearing a lot of uninspired and samey artists. I feel there are not that many bands in the mainstream that are leading the way and inspiring those coming through. If you really think about it carefully: how many new bands can you name that are on your mind? When I think of mainstream acts: I am either attracted to solo artists or those bands that are established and been playing for years. There must be some great new bands but they are either not standing out sufficiently or being buried and overlooked. One suspects there is a mixture of the two and that is quite troubling. The band market used to rule music and provided so much inspiration and wonder. Over the past few years, there has been a definite shift away from groups and to other areas of music. I have bemoaned the absence of Royal Blood – a duo I keep bringing into reviews – but maybe that is a good thing. They were, when their eponymous debut was released, tipped as one of those bands to watch – one that would crack the mainstream and command huge crowds. Whilst they have raced off the blocks, they failed to capitalise on that momentum and early energy – where are they at the moment?! If you were excited by their inventive and urgent album: you will have to wait until next year for a follow-up it seems. That is a big gap between albums and something a lot of bands are doing. I know touring demands take groups away from the studio but, in a busy and competitive scene, you cannot take too long between albums. Solo artists are, perhaps, a little less constrained and in-demand – given the time to record albums more freely and with a shorter gap between. Moving into Alternative-Rock and it is one of the busiest and most exciting areas of music. In terms of the outright quality and table-topping places: there are not many Alternative-Rock bands there.
Once was the time the end-of-year lists would be stuffed with hard-rocking bands and some sensational albums. This year, the likes of David Bowie and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are on that list – Leonard Cohen too. The seas and tides are shifting but that is not to say there is imminent danger of collapse. It is true the band market is still producing great acts but one has to wonder this: what is the reason behind the (comparative) decline and quality drop? Maybe it is just the way music is progressing or something else – I’d like to think the media is being remiss when promoting bands. I feel it is more difficult for bands (coming in) to get their voices heard and make an impression. That is a shame, because, as Emnibis show, they are worthy of detailed reviews and fond acclaim. I will continue my point, but for now, let me introduce the boys to you:
“Emnibis’ journey has been one filled with trials and tribulations, leading them to be the four-piece alt-rock/pop-punk band they are today. Hailing from the darker depths of Surrey, Casey Newman, Sam Cowlam together with newest members Elliott Davis and Matt Clark have just released their most exciting single yet. All ages between 19 and 22 they may seem fresh on the scene, but this band have beenbest friends and gigging together for years. Formed in 2012, Emnibis have been a solid cog in the pop-punk machine in Surrey for almost four years, with the founding members of the band playing together for almost eight. The four-piece have a list of influences anyone would expect to find from a pop-punk band, from Blink-182 to Alkaline Trio, Lower Than Atlantis to All Time Low. Their sound reflects this, but as with so many bands in the genre Emnibis have something ear-catching and slightly unexpected to bring to the table, to set them apart from those in the scene. Bassist Sam Cowlam said of their sound: “I like to think that, even though we are pop-punk in our style, we bring something slightly different to the table with a sound similar to that of current UK rock bands with heavier guitars.”. Their process begins with lead singer Casey Newman, who writes the lyrics, then is put out to the rest of the band for creative criticism and hard graft to make the finished piece. Emnibis’ three releases have been met with high praise, the first being their five song eponymous EP released in March 2014. The first song ‘Trapped’ is striking and fast, with crunchy verses and a chorus that begs to be belted at full volume, and penultimate track ‘Nightmare’ has a true 90s pop-punk feel.
Single ‘Origami Heart’ released in February of 2015 boasts a more mature sound with solid vocals and remarkable production, and most recent track ‘Breakthrough’ is lyrically impressive. The band shared a stage at Guilfest 2014 with the likes of Gnarwolves, Gallows and The Blackout. Their first major festival, they were second up on the Sunday on The Big Cheese Cave stage. Their live show is explosive, ramping up the energy that is so evident on record. While previously searching for a new drummer, the band spent some time working on their acoustic sessions. Their alt-rock style lends itself unexpectedly to the fragility of playing without amplification, and intensifies the vocals on a more intimate and personal level. In 2016, Emnibis approached Ben Sansom of Lower Than Atlantis, one of the band’s key influences, to produce their new single. This opportunity has come at a time when the band are just beginning to make a name for themselves within the scene, and have a real sense of moving on towards bigger and better things. With two singles and an EP under their belt, the band are going into studio time with some experience and a big name behind them; all feedback coming from recent sessions being positive it seems as though the only way is up from here”.
The brave gang does not do things by halves it seems. Too many bands are rather effeminate and slight when playing in the Alternative-Rock arena. I hear and see so many groups coming through – one assumes will be tough and memorable – but fade with a whimper. Emnibis are not your average muscle-flexing group that throw everything at the wall and overwhelm you with force and brutality. There us a lot of nuance, depth and intelligence to their compositions. That gets me thinking about bands and the way sounds are mutating. There seems to be a shift towards Electronic acts and a push against pure guitar music. You do get some great guitar bands but I am finding there are more electric bands – those playing Synth.-Pop and that sort of thing. Again, it is hard to state what the reason behind it is but perhaps that is a reaction to new demands and tastes. So many artists – those that play heavy – do not linger in the mind and cause necessary repeatability. Maybe employ more synths. and electronics creates longevity and appeals to the senses. Emnibis blend the intelligence and colour of Electronica and the tradition of Alternative-Rock. The guys are inspired by U.S. Punk bands like Blink-182 and Sum 41 – they have recruited Lower Than Atlantis’ Ben Sansom to produce their latest single – but have that British sensibility and flair. I do admire bands that keep that flame alive and understand the need for something youthful, engaging and spirited. They are just starting out but one feels they have the motivation and talent to go a long way. If Home is anything to go by – an obvious and over-used title but one they get away with – then there is plenty more music left in them.
Emnibis are based in Surrey but enjoy that proximity to London. They have a huge music scene not too far away but do not have the face the daily rush and crowds of the capital. I hope, in time, they make a move to London so they can fully involve themselves in the city. Many bands are setting home up in London and it seems to be a natural move for those acts that want to dedicate themselves to music full-time. I know the Emnibis boys are happy where they are but you feel demand and gigs will see them go to London a lot more. There is validity and benefits to be found staying outside the city. For a start, you get to see a different type of audience and lay down your market further south. Emnibis are not too far from the South Coast and have that near their doorstep. In time, I get the impression they will make their way further north – giving them easy access to bigger cities and wider audiences. For now, and until they decide upon that, it is good watching them grow and seeing just where they can go. Home is a confident and intriguing song that certainly gets into the mind and registers instantly. Not your predictable knuckle-dragging, sex-obsessed Punk/Alternative song – far more wisdom and maturity can be found here. I have posed the question about the London music scene: is it shrinking or in peril; is there going to be a resurgence? With some very notable venues closing, it is putting pressure on those artists that need to get their music heard. Once upon a time, these venues were the stomping ground of the new artist. The ‘toilet circuit’ is quite tough and non-luxurious but is honest and decent – how the big bands got started and what they had to go through. Remove that, and you risk removing the fabrics and spine of the music industry. Perhaps there is a thriving music scene where Emnibis is, but, living there myself; know the opportunities are greater in the cities. If London is starting to struggle, then it may be the job of Manchester and northern realms to lure bands in. It is something I will go into more detail in with future reviews – just something that struck my mind.
When coming to Emnibis and their latest song: one must look back and see where the band has come from. If you listen to some of their earliest work – Trapped and Fairytale – you get a sense of a band that was still finding their feet. Instant and memorable for sure: they are both lo-fi tracks that have the feel of a group experimenting and employing their heroes. Trapped has a combination of early Green Day and Blink-182 – you can definitely place it in that area of music. The more time progressed; the more original and confident the boys became. That said; their music also became more adventurous and nuanced. Less reliant on straight-ahead jams and pure energy: Home is their most developed and fully-realised song so far. On their eponymous, five-track E.P. – where those two early songs appear – you got a lot of adventure and passion shining through. It was a solid and ambitious E.P. and showed plenty of promise and strength. Despite some weaker moments cropping up: a far stronger and more fascinating offering tan most of the records of the time. I hear a lot of new bands but Emnibis definitely resonate harder. Turn the clock forward and one can find little E.P.-era strands in Home but new light and colours coming in. Their new single (whether it will form part of an E.P.) recalls their earliest work but adds more to it and is their strongest song yet. What makes it different is a combination of confidence, production sounds and lyrical themes. The band have pushed their musical and lyrical palette: they are showing more wisdom, maturity and intelligence; adapting to the times and ensuring their words are not easily forgotten. Brining Sansom in to produce not only fleshes their music out but gives it more atmosphere and edge. Less D.I.Y. and lo-fi than their E.P.: a more professional sound emerges but it is never too polished. What you get is shine and epic-ness with plenty of dirt and honest sweat. That is quite a hard combination to pull off but one the band (and Sansom) does with aplomb. It is, perhaps, the increased touring that has gone into their song. Having travelled around the country and performed alongside other bands – you get a little of that in Home. The guys are getting feedback from crowds and ideas of what people are looking for. This sonic maturation and confidence leap is going to be exciting to see into 2017. I know the band will have more music in them and I cannot wait to hear it.
It is exciting hearing Home – albeit, a bit later than most reviewers. One gets a beautiful blend of scuzziness and elegance in the opening seconds. Tender and finger-picked electronic notes dart and race across the speaker – so fine and delicate you are chasing to catch them. After that, a drum parable enters and gives some kick and dance to the introduction – taking it up a gear and giving Home some drive and passion. After that, everything tightened and starts to explode. The guitars get more intense and fuzzy; the percussion more brutal and solid – the song transforms and really gets underway. A lot of bands would go in full-steam and exhaust themselves by the time the vocal arrives. Emnibis play it cool and tease the listener in; keeping everything dainty and pure before unleashing the big guns. Even in the introduction, things are never too heavy and intense. I was particular impressed by the percussion which gives so much direction and weight to the song early on. Flat-pack and hollow at once; bolder and expansive the next – a fantastic sound that sticks in the mind.
When our hero arrives on the microphone, so much has already been laid down. You get a sense of what the song is about and what the lyrics are going to contain. It seems like there is some domestic recriminations and imbalance in a relationship. The sweethearts are arguing or trying to settle their tempers. The heroine suggests (they) forget the times they fought and argued – maybe that is all in the past. Straight away, I was looking at two people at home and going through some tough times. Maybe they have been arguing and fighting before but get to that point. The need to settle and calm things is evident. The die is cast and the wheel is turning: fates are sealed and there is some mystique in the song. One gets impressions of a relationship quandary but also thinks more widely. That chorus line asks (if the hero can be) taken home and find some comfort. Maybe assessing the state of the world or the desire to escape bad vibes and hatred – there is that need to find some safety. It is good to hear the vocal high in the mix and clear. A lot of bands, who play similar sounds, bury the voice and it can be heard deciphering it. The fact you can clearly hear the lyrics make the song stand out and truly connect. There is a lot of stress in the air and one feels a relationship is being talked about. I looked at the wider world – there is a little nod to the uncertainties of life – but you feel a bond is going through some strains.
After the seeming security and agreements of the earliest lyrics: it seems like there is more fraught air and some splits occurring. One gets hooked by the band’s performance which retains a certain homemade sound to it. Bringing in a producer like Sansom could have run the risk of an overly-dramatic and inflated sound. What you get is something that comes across live and raw but has a definite professionalism to it. The sound is never too full which means you get room to move between the notes and arrive at your own conclusions. It ain’t “what it used to be” it is said: the lovers are on different pages and going through something quite Spartan and breakable. The hero is trying to create conviviality and happiness – perhaps it is falling on deaf ears. Recalling a mix of Blink-182 and Sum 41: there are definite U.S. influences and one could transport their mind to ‘90s-‘00s L.A.; that evocative and memorable time for music. Emnibis keep things mature and level-headed in the face of some struggles and oppression. Maybe the girl is playing games or being too demanding; not being straight and spinning webs. Whatever the truth, the hero is trying to make amends and correct it. In spite of the turmoil and turbulence that is around him; you get the impression he has a plan and idea.
There is never too much anger and sadness in the performance. Perhaps this decline is inevitable and has been in the making for a long time now. Home is that place one can feel rooted and comfortable in – not having to face the heartache and uncertainties of the outside world. Following the mature and developed singles Breakthrough and Origami Heart – the band making bigger statements – Home is a continuation of that and another stunning track. The guitars chug and percussion rumbles; the bass guides and drives the song forward. When it comes down to it: the song is about a relationship split and something that has been assessed a lot. Emnibis do not employ clichés and predictable lyrics to the song. Instead, you get a wise and intelligent assessment of a bond that has seen better days. The hero is trying all he can to remedy the situation but feels like there is too much tension and trouble to make it worthwhile. By the closing stages, that is repeated and enforced. The band steps up their composition in the latter phases and really charge forward. Percussion sounds rumble and get really intense; the riffs pound and pummel whilst the bass is at its ecstatic and menacing best. Home gets more spiked and urgent and the entire aesthetic changes. From its bare and nimble beginnings: it opens into a bit of a monster and a jam that is sure to get the crowds jumping. It is quite rare finding a song that can shift tones and shape whilst retaining its core and discipline. The boys are masterful when it comes to this sort of thing but on Home – maybe due to Sansom’s guidance – it is at its most compelling and defined. A fantastic and meaty song that not only sees Emnibis at their finest but will bring them to new audiences. I have heard a few Emnibis songs but they have not sounded as ready and complete as they do here. Transitioning to the big-time and excited about the future – all of that comes out in the latest single. Home will bounce around the brain and ensure plenty of singalong and chorusing. Not much more you can ask from a young band that have the guts, strength and talent to take their music as far as they possibly can.
There should be no fear when it comes to Emnibis and their future. It is only natural for any new act to worry a bit and wonder how far they can go. Perhaps my opening was a bit scaremongering: casting doubts and unearthing the harsh realities of the modern climate. That is not meant to put off musicians and scare them but applaud those who are able to overcome this and succeed. I know Emnibis have a loyal local following but will want to expand their horizons and take their music further afield. I know areas like Camden are going to play host to the boys and seems like an ideal spot for them. More and more, London will become a natural home and it is almost inevitable the band will remain here in years to come. For a start, there is not a big enough scene in Surrey and I much prefer the people of London – much more likely to help the band succeed than anyone down here. On that point, artists that play away from the cities – unless they are well-established – always struggle to truly remain. With the demands and weight of competition right now: it is becoming harder to make a crust in the towns and villages. Emnibis will have options and are coming into music at the right time. I have optioned the fact bands are mutating and sounds are transforming. The likes of Royal Blood seem few and there is a shying away from those granite bands that go for the bones. More and more, the consumer is demanding something more enduring, nuanced and original. Emnibis have elements of U.S. Punk/Alternative brothers but keep their voices and themes British – not succumbing to the necessity to Americanise everything. How many British bands do you hear that instantly have to become American in a non-ironic way? It is rather sad but that is not the case with Emnibis. That said, they have a lovely core of American sounds which will mean they have a future over there. I can see the guys enjoying some success in the U.S. and getting a few gigs over there. I am not sure what their tour diary is looking like but next year will be rather exciting. They have already been busy this year and visited London, Brighton and Surrey. The boys are getting about and making sure their music is heard far and wide. I have a lot of respect for their work ethic and the way they are launching into music. I mentioned the band are ‘new’ but have been formed for four years now. In that time, they have released quite a bit of work and laying the foundations. You just now the guys are going to keep growing and are impressing the live crowds.
It is rather worrying the guys have achieved so much at such a young age – perhaps an odd thing to say. They are all in their late-teens/early-twenties and have already been gigging and recording for years. Let’s hope their connection and passion remains firm because they have a distinct opportunity ahead of them. True, there are a lot of other similar-minded bands that are performing similar sounds – that is always going to be the way of things. What Emnibis do – that their peers do not – is put an unexpected range of influences together. Now that Lower Than Atlantis’ key member is in the producing fold: that is a big coup and shows an enormous amount of faith in their music. The boys themselves admit the market is rather crowded and bustling. The way they distinguish themselves aside is combining the U.S. Punk strands and Alternative-Rock together with a hardcore British punch. They are not as simplistic as a lot of their contemporaries and ensure their personalities radiate through. Hailing from the darker depths of Surrey – as they attest themselves – one assumes they will be looking for a new base in the coming months. Given the support they have in cities like Brighton and London: the lure and bright lights will come calling.
I shall wrap things up by recommending you listen to Home and discover a band that have a lot more to say. I am curious to see how their 2017 shapes up and whether they will be releasing new material. It seems like they are primed to reveal an album or E.P. – what form that takes will be interesting. I am not sure whether that is already in the works or something that will arrive at a later date. Home sounds like a natural opening number and one that defines where they are right now. The band have matured and developed over the years and really come a long way. In their earliest moments – around 2012 maybe – there was plenty of spirit and talent – the sound of a band not playing by traditional rules. Since then, they have accrued live experience and really honed their craft. It is that experience that has raised their music and given them the confidence to keep pushing and recording. Coming back to my doom-laden prophesies – about the declining music scene in London – one understands fully the necessity of small venues. Without them, we would not have bands like Emnibis: the future of music and the type of band we will be hearing years down the line. I would love to see the boys live and will make sure I catch them sometime soon. Let’s hope they have big ambitions for 2017 and keep the pressure on. Home is an assured and fantastic cut from the lads and another bold step forward. I am waffling – you should be used to that by now – but Emnibis make me excited about the band market. I can’t remember the last time I properly reviewed a band – my attention has been focused on solo artists – so it is great coming back to this area. I have been fearful about Alternative-Rock and its validity and potential. Over the past few years, there has been a slight downshift – too many bands copycatting and too formulaic. Emnibis recognise this and ensured they do not fall into that pit. They provide familiar sounds – U.S. and U.K. Rock blends – but heighten that with British sensibilities and their infectious personalities. See what all the fuss is about and let Home get into the bloodstream. Even though the band has been around a bit; one knows their best days are still ahead of them. Here’s to the band and we all hope they have…
MANY successful years ahead of them.
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