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MY review schedule has changed a bit…
so I am fitting L.A.D ahead of other choices I had in the diary. It is a shrewd move because, listening to their debut single, and it gives me much to talk about. I want to look at the 1980s and artists whose legacy we should carry on; singles that gets you dancing and lift the mood; artists that are making their first moves – a little bit about unsigned artists and those important early days. I knew L.A.D were going to form because I have followed Natalie Gray. The striking red-head is someone who has been on my radar – I have reviewed her music and was struck by its unique sound and compelling energy. Live in Love was the song I got to grips with and, listening to L.A.D’s new track, there are some similarities. L.A.D are an exciting new force; a trio that seems fully-formed and primed for big things. Gray has come from the solo arena and got together with two guys who are on the same page and wavelength. The band’s acronym is a secret but their music is for everyone. In fact; the solo single, Live in Love, was made as L.A.D – except it was named as a Natalie Gray song. It seemed natural the guys would all go into music as an official force and record more music. It all started after a successful set at Pride in the Park and, given the big reception they were afforded, many were excited to see what would come from them, next. I have been following Gray for a while and know she is a special talent. The trio (Natalie, Luke and Jack) is a hard combination to get right and can often be seen as risky. With a duo; there is a harmony and the two need to have a really solid bond and understanding. Bands are a little risky, too, but there are enough members to hide any real problems. It is easy for a trio to have a bit of imbalance – one of the members seen as a third wheel, perhaps.
That sounds harsh but I have seen a few trios that have broken up because it hasn’t quite worked out. One does not really know why certain acts break up but it impresses me when trios do succeed and thrive. I think that will happen for L.A.D because they are great friends and have been jamming for a while. It is a democracy and never subject to any power struggles or disagreements. I swore, yesterday, I would not go back to London to review for a while but, seeing as I am waiting on a few acts to get back to me – I have bumped L.A.D up the list and reviewing them at the moment. In fact; the trio are actually based out of London. Reading is their base and they are quite content and happy being there. I want to discuss areas outside London because, in previous reviews, I have said how anyone within a certain radius of the city is classed as a ‘London band’. That is seen as commercial and, if you say you are from elsewhere, people might not know where that is – maybe unwilling to see a band who are from outside the city. I shall not get back into the North-South divide in music but I feel artists outside of London should not be classed as anything other than who they are – and where they come from. I live just outside London and am not proud of where I come from. It may be ironic me classing myself as London-based but people care less if you are a journalist (I do not travel to meet artists or get featured by anyone else) but musicians are a different story. Reading is a place many might not be familiar with but it does have an active music scene. Whilst I think The Amazons are a bit disappointing: they are from Reading and putting the town on the map. Artists like Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Laura Marling and Slowdive either come from – or have spent a lot of time in – Reading. It is close to London but one does not have to live there to reap the rewards.
I am pleased L.A.D are where they are but I can see them relocating to London shortly. They are close enough, now, but Reading has a few great venues L.A.D could play. The Purple Turtle, Sub89 and Oakford Social Club are a few options for them. Reading is quite varied when it comes to music and venues but there are local options for the trio. I feel the guys are more drawn to London because it has a huge variety of areas – and some like-minded artists they can feed off. I am not sure what the scene is like in Reading, sound-wise, but I cannot imagine there are many quite like L.A.D around there. I know there are great Rock bands coming through but, in terms of 1980s-influenced, Pop…perhaps not so much so. The capital gains of London are clear and that is what is drawing many artists in. L.A.D are a fresh force but they have some gigs lined up. Their single has just been played on Shoreditch Radio – as part of their Shoreditch Unsigned selection. That combination of words is ultra-hip and as London-like as you can get. The trio are not snobbish or elitist but their music does beckon the cool and trendy in. Reading is hospitable and popular but areas like Shoreditch/East London are much more suited to the sounds of L.A.D; the vivaciousness and energy of the trio and where they want to head. Before I move onto the next point; I want to urge the guys to get more of their images out there. I am interviewing the guys very soon and have some press images in my inbox. They have been sent through Google Drive and I am unable to copy them into the blog – there are a few good images among the pack. I shall get it sorted before the interview comes back – get Cannonball PR to resend via DropBox – but it would be nice to have them on the social media sites. The trio have a great friendship and that reflects in the images they have.
It would be great seeing those pictures on Facebook as it would give the public a greater insight into their world – maybe they are holding them back for press at the moment. Pictures/lack of is one of my main gripes when it comes to artists but I feel that is something L.A.D will sort out very soon. Maybe an official website will come, too? I am not sure whether they have one (and I’m not looking hard enough) but, when more songs come, it will follow. Things are starting to hot up for L.A.D so there are a few suggestions. I would not recommend changes if I did not think the artist was unworthy. L.A.D have a clear future so some great shots and more information would be a good start. I would like to know where they come from and how they all formed; how each member came to know one another and details behind their music. Seeing as they are so new; it would be harsh to expect too much but, as I said, that will all follow. I want to look at unsigned artists and the benefits of remaining detached. I mentioned how L.A.D were featured on Shoreditch Radio’s unsigned show but maybe there is some ambiguity there. The broadcast, I guess, is meant to feature artists who are really good but have no record contract. It might be the case (the show) looks to boast and showcase great artists who are so good but have no recording deal. Anyway; I feel the trio should not race to get a record deal because they have a sound and hunger that is all their own. Many feel a record deal is the be-all-and-end-all but, in reality, it isn’t. Labels can direct artists too much and exert strong influence – that means their music is not really theirs and they do not get much of a say. L.A.D have a fairly glossy and big sound so they might be looking for a label to help bring that to the masses.
I hope, if they do get a deal, they are smart with their signature. There are sharks out there and, although L.A.D will want a bit of commercial success, fitting into the charts and the masses is not everything. The guys can forge a career on their own merits and, if they do want to spread their music across the waters, they can do so with a P.R. company. That is down to them but I feel radio shows that feature unsigned acts might steer artists the way of greedy and uncaring record labels. I choose to believe the shows are a way of promoting artists doing things by themselves – those who do not need big money and labels to make their music sound incredible. The early days are the most important for any act so ensuring you create an impact is paramount. One can look at L.A.D and feel there are many out there like them. Look closely and the D.N.A. of L.A.D is very distinct. Their track, Dance Floor, is bold and brash and takes every opportunity it can to get into the head. I follow many artists who are starting out and it can be quite nervous seeing where they head – if they have the passion and stamina to cope with the realities of music. The players in L.A.D are not naïve and they know what is required of them. I have seen a few 1980s-inspired artists come through (Shura among them) and feel there needs to be greater exposure. Most new artists take familiar sounds and create music that does not stray too far from everything else out there. You do get some original acts but quite a few are keen to play it safe and ensure they survive. Who knows how far L.A.D can go but, on the evidence of their first song, they have a glorious sound that rings in the mind.
One of the reasons I know the trio will grow and succeed is the sound they have at their disposal. It is a hard time for everyone right now so we need to embrace songs/styles that elevate the senses and get the mood lifted. The spirit of Madonna, Chaka Khan and Prince comes out in Dance Floor. The 1980s might not seem like an obvious decade for inspiration. If you are looking around for guidance; it seems the likes of the 1990s and 1970s might be more obvious. Many have a negative view of the 1980s and think it will be all cheesy Pop and tinny Dance music. I think we get a false impression of the 1980s because of compilation C.D.s and the music played on stations. If you look closely, the decade gave us the likes of Pixies, The Smiths and Talking Heads – artists that hit their stride and created some of the best music of the time. So many assume it is all naff stuff and forget what quality there was during that time. If one thinks about the amazing Soul, Pop and Dance of the time: can we really say the likes of Madonna are not strong enough to define the decade?! I have written a feature on her – you can dig it out if needs be – but I feel she is someone with enormous influence. An icon who continues to compel new artists coming through – she is as synonymous with the 1980s as anyone else. Forget all the crap Pop that existed at the time and remember we experienced legends like Madonna. Her music translates through the years – even though she is still recording – and I know there are a lot of artists who count her as their focal point. Why I wanted to raise the point is because of the sense of fun and frivolity you get from artists like Madonna. She created serious and wonderfully deep music but it is the colours and captivation that gets to me.
Hear a song like Material Girl and Papa Don’t Preach and, although there are serious issues discussed on both songs, there are big choruses and fantastic vocal performances. Madonna was capable of addressing subjects like feminism, abortion and sex without preaching or making it sound insincere. Sometimes, her music had an air of sadness: other times, it was sparkling and fantastically bright. Her career evolved as she headed into the 1990s and 2000s but it is her 1980s heydey that has inspired so many. I have mentioned Prince and Chaka Khan and, although these are artists L.A.D are influenced by; it is the Madonna link that seems strongest. Put all those names together and you have a rich and vibrant brew that few other acts are displaying. The 1980s should not be reduced to the chart acts of the day and the slight music – there is epic strength and some legends from that time. Because of this; I feel more artists need to dip into the treasure chest of the decade and see what there is on offer. L.A.D have already recorded other songs so I am keen to see what form they take and whether they will have the same make-up and ethos as Dance Floor. Their current jam is something that gets you onto the dancefloor and makes the people move. I stated how times are changing and we are in a pretty bad place right now. Few can deny we are stable and together so, because of this, music has an important role to play. Anyone who wants to get away from all the stress and strain of the average day could do a lot worse than dive into L.A.D. The trio creates sounds that overflow with force, fun and the fantastic. They are not tackling anything more profound than the need to get onto the floor and move your cares away. There are side-issues and nuances one can pick up but, at its core, the song is determined to get everyone together and lose themselves in the music.
That is what happens on Dance Floor and I am so glad the guys have released the song now. It is a bad time so we need that escapism and blast of energy. It takes from the best sides of Madonna and Chaka Khan and fuses Disco undertones with a Pop heart. L.A.D are uncompromising and could have crafted something ready for the mainstream and shallow – an easy song that relies on overproduction and clichés. The Reading trio would never do this so I am excited to see where they go. Before I get to the song itself; it is worth noting how keen they are to update their social media and being new fans in. A lot of artists overlook this importance and do not inform the followers. It can be hard getting on top of everything but it is easy enough to do some semi-regular updates. If you do not tell people what is happening, they will look elsewhere and get a bit bored. L.A.D have been giving us information about their single and the dates they have coming up. There are photos – more will come, as I suggested – and I am looking forward to seeing a possible video for Dance Floor. Whether that arrives before the end of the year, I am not sure, but you can be sure the trio will inform us before too long. The best and most enduring musicians are those who manage to create great music and please the fans. It is not business-like being active on social media: it is the way many communicate so one cannot underestimate its importance. A few blasts of Dance Floor and you are hooked onto L.A.D and keen to follow them whether they go. I suspect their fanbase will expand as the months go by but, right now, they have struck a vein of gold.
Luminous electronics and punchy beats open up Dance Floor. The percussion has that clear debt to the 1980s and is quite compressed and intense. Glittery, starlight electronics twinkle into view and bond with the gruff and austere beats. It is a potent combination and gets the songs off to a flyer. The trio feels no need to rush in with the big rush and vocals – they infuse the song with plenty of intrigue and spirit. One half-expects, a few seconds in, for Madonna to come to the microphone. There is a bit of the taut Funk Prince was synonymous with but, in the early phases, I get scents of True Blue, Like a Virgin and Like a Prayer – the extraordinary trio of albums Madonna crafted in the 1980s. The Like a Virgin suggestion of the introduction fuse and explode into the slam of I Feel for You (Chaka Khan). The trio have a fondness for these songs but never replicate them. From the tender and teasing seconds comes that rush and step-up. Instantly, the listener is jolted and compelled to follow the song wherever it goes. The giddiness and head-fuse of Dance Floor kick in and it is impossible not to feel a physical connection to the sounds. Some cut-and-paste/vibrating vocal echoes weave in the shadows as, in the light, the composition gets hotter and heavier. In fact, if we are weaving in 1980s icons – and a name I forgot to mention earlier – there are flavours of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Bad. I get embers of Bad’s Just Good Friends and Thriller’s Human Nature. It is wonderful hearing suggestions of these artists – the trio never exploits this but make the music their own. Despite the rouse and rush of the song; there are some weighted words at the heart. The heroine is talking to a sweetheart and someone who is talking about her. In fact, I was wondering whether the issues of gossip and deceit were levelled at a boyfriend or a friend – someone who has been spreading rumours and falsehoods.
Our girl is waiting for them to act and seem exhausted by games that are played – the need to be alert and aware all the time. This does not matter when she hits the dancefloor. Perhaps there is that suggestion of short-term romance and complex emotions. The desire to forget all of that and embrace something simpler is infectious. The heroine dispenses with all the chat and fights and embraces the allure and theatre of Dance. “We’re all the same when the lights go down” it is said and one cannot help think, when listening to that line, there is a nod back to the 1980s. I associate modern dancefloors with sweaty clubs and all the infection and drunkenness associated with that. On Dance Floor; things are more innocent, sweet and tolerable. In fact; there is a definite evocation of simpler days when one could go to a club and dance – not crowded by drunken idiots and pummelled by inane and ultra-loud music. The song is never simple and predictable. The beats and electronics pause whilst Gray’s voice goes through different motions. There is growl and intensity one moment: it then transcends to something rapturous and operatic. Syncopated and unexpected; there is a sense of progression and development as the song goes on. The heroine urges (the man) to stick to her and cling to her body – one of the sweatier moments on the song – as they can “go all night”. One definitely senses impending ‘climax’ but the song is not about sex and getting your rocks off. It is definitely about the dance and surrendering to the power of music. Modern Dance/Pop songs seem too concerned with sex and relationships but here they play a minor role to the prowess and potency of music itself. Even if the friends/lovers have things to hide: by the time they get onto the dancefloor, they have so much to give. “It doesn’t matter on the dancefloor (Dance Floor)” is the coda and theme that links everything together.
Our girl does not expect a call or the name (of the guy). She is in the club to get high on the music and not really concerned with anything long-term. Maybe that seems shallow but guys get it into their heads that a girl wants to be with them forever – that arrogance and clinginess put many off. Here, one gets a real sense of independence and pride. The girl is stepping onto the floor and making people move. L.A.D combine superbly throughout and meet the intoxicating and vibrant vocal with incredible music. The electronics stutter and jar; they swell and punch whilst the beats are consistent and blood-rushing. All of this comes together in a song that ingrains itself into the memory. One hears shades of the 1980s legends but plenty of modern-day inputs. L.A.D are not your average act who lazily duplicate what has gone before. Few can resist their charms and powers. Dance Floor is a teasing and alluring bomb from the Reading trio and suggests they have plenty of life in them. Nobody who hears the song will walk away unaffected. I have been a bit sceptical about the power of Pop and whether it has relevance today. A lot of that stems from the rather bland and commercial nature of the music. Here; we get a trio that are determined to inspire and craft their own empire. An extraordinary opening gambit from an act that are going to be in the music business for a very long time to come!
I will finish things soon but wanted to look ahead and see where L.A.D will go. Dance Floor has been given a lot of focus on social media and some great reviews. I know the trio will want to build on that and get their names to the world. At the moment, they are cementing a core in London and surrounding areas. I am already keen for new music from them. That is not a reflection on their debut single but the addictive sound and quality of the music. Dance Floor is what we need right now: something that gets into the brain and compels the body to move. I am sure the guys have dates in London but they will want to get their music to the wider population. I have stated how London grabs so much focus but, when it comes to L.A.D, they will want to go beyond and travel throughout the U.K. Maybe it will take a few more songs before they get international requests but I would not put a mini-tour of Britain out of the question. London is a popular base and somewhere L.A.D will explore in depth. Getting people talking in the capital is as important as anything – it is where the labels and big stations are. When new music does arrive (indication is it will be soon); the radio stations will be looking out and keen to feature the trio. Right now, many might assume it is the Pop-driven stations like Kiss that will be interested in L.A.D. In reality, one need only listen once and realise the song is capable of getting love from the likes of BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music. Making your music as adaptable and wide-reaching as possible is a great way of ensuring popularity and longevity. I think L.A.D will go onto big things and many people will call for an E.P. Not many can deny the extraordinary sounds of Dance Floor; so there will be an eagerness for new material and continuation.
I have mentioned the importance of the 1980s and how few artists are exploring the decade with any real intent. A lot of new music is too serious and intense so I find myself looking around for something that is more fun and uplifting. It is easy to understand why some artists decide to talk about love and its heartache – concentrating on that too much can be depressing and predictable. Not many songs look away from relationships and make songs for the masses. This is why L.A.D should be commended and proffered. They will look at love down the line but there is passion and intensity in Dance Floor. I will end this now but wanted to single L.A.D out and how good they are. Not many have the same chemistry and components as them. A trio with a great friendship and an understanding of where they can head; it is going to be an exciting 2018 for the Reading purveyors. Who knows how far they will go but I feel there are many years ahead for them. Dance Floor is a confident, busy and fizzling banger that has a visceral sense of colour and fun. This is something we need to breed and spread throughout music. L.A.D are not responsible for reinventing and rejuvenating music but they have an important role to play. I would suggest they forget about record deals and not put that at the centre of their world. Maybe they are keen to be independent and I think this would be best, right now, for their music – in time; getting a good and trustworthy label behind them would give their sounds that extra push and support. The weather is gloomy and it is getting darker. Many are talking about Christmas and not really looking back at the incredible summer and hotter days. That is understandable but along come L.A.D who have created a song that bubbles and dances; it struts and seeps into the bones. In an age where there are few groovy and rapturous Pop songs; we all need to be more aware of…
A very special trio.