The track, Stuff, is available via:
1st July, 2018
ON this outing…
I am looking at a band that has got my mind thinking about things I have not investigated for a while. I will cover Manchester and the North in a minute; a little but about bands in general and how their sounds have evolved; female-led groups and how a greater diversity in the ranks adds something extra to music – a look at where WILDFIRES will head and what their future holds. I wanted to start off by looking at songs that relieve tensions and get the head swimming. I get to listen to a lot of sounds and you get a different sensation from each of them. Music has that ability to get under the skin and help you when you need it; it can ease tensions or raise the spirits. It is strange how deep music can go and what emotions it can summon. I listen to WILDFIRES’ latest cut, Stuff, and it filters into the blood and takes my mind somewhere else. I am looking, at the moment, for something that can offer a sense of direction and calm my soul. Things are a little tense and busy right now – with moving to Manchester and juggling work and personal life – and music is a way of trying to make sense of everything and provide stimulus. I have arrived at the feet of WILDFIRES and there is plenty in their music that offers guidance and calm. That said, listen to the vocal and its raw edges and there is excitement and exhilaration. I am one of those people who listen to music to feel better and nourish the mind. I can listen to songs in a casual way but I feel, for the most part, music is only meaningful if it can do something and provoke some emotion. WILDFIRES do that and, right now, they are playing quite an important part in my life. It is compelling how deep music can go and the joys it brings.
I will move onto another subject that I am keen to investigate but, looking at the Manchester-based band and there is something in their ranks that fascinates me. I am hearing a load of bands and solo artists emerge and play and every one of them does something unique. As someone who does not write music; it is wonderful listening to such quality come through right now. I used to write songs but have no musical ability myself. I always stand aghast with shock listening to the new breed and the sort of talent they possess. It is harder now, as opposed times past, to stand out and create something promising and purposeful. There are endless options and sounds – it is easy enough to fall into a familiar trap and mimic something on the market. WILDFIRES have their own flair and brew and are full of virtues and strengths. I mentioned how I seek out something from music to raise the energy and help me get through hard times. I am not sure how it happens but bands like WILDFIRES have that innate ability to make things better and, at other times, get the body moving and the heart pumping. Music, at its elemental best, has that power to speak profoundly or, at the very least, provide a beautiful distraction. I am searching harder now, more than ever, for music that provides real depth and meaning. There are so many artists out there who seem to follow the pack and are a little derivative. I understand how tricky it is providing original content but there are too many people out there, bands especially, unable to provide their own flavour. That is never the case with WILDFIRES. They wear a couple of influences on their sleeves but never show it too visibly. You only need to listen to a few notes from the guys to bond with the music and realise it emanates from somewhere new and fantastic. Stuff is a fantastic single that hints at future glory and shows what the band are made of.
I’ll come back to bands in a minute but I wanted to look at the North. I have talked about it a lot before and how there is a definite split between the South and North. In terms of exposure; you never really see as much fascination levied at the North as you will down here. I have been following music since I was a child and I have seen the changing face of the industry and the splits forming. The North has always been at the top and forefront of the business. I have name-checked the likes of Oasis and Pulp before – so shall not go down that path again – but it is amazing to look at a time when there were relatable, working-class bands who could speak about life’s realities and how things were for the average person. You do not have that too much and I feel a lot of that has to do with the dominance of the South. There are artists working away who have that common and accessible edge that reminds you of the better days. Right now, there is more music available than ever and it is hard to see where it might head. I feel there are so many great northern artists around but we still tend to stare too hard at the capital and music coming from the South. There are journalists in the North who are promoting local talent but the mainstream media still has a long way to go. I am not suggesting we dedicate features to artists in the North but there should be more balance and exposure. With groups like The Orielles coming through and showing what promise there is in the North; can we really avoid artists from areas like Manchester and Yorkshire and keep focusing on the same old stuff? I understand why London gets a lot of love but I know how many great artists there are in the North. Going back to my point about relatable and working-class music and you tend to get a lot more of that up North.
At a time when the nation is splitting apart and we are not sure what the Brexit deal is; it seems we have a long way to go before salvation and repair comes about. I worry we are heading somewhere frightening and those in power – the posh and middle-class – are sending the nation into a hole we might not be able to climb out of. I am looking back at interviews conducted with various figures in the media and they ask whether Brexit and the turmoil we have now is a result of a lack of support in music. By that, I mean there are not enough voices who document the realities of Britain and what it is like for regular people. Not that WILDFIRES produce political commentary or music like Pulp’s but they have a sound and brilliance that shows what is happening up North and how good it is. If we hear more of it – and the media puts it into the fore – then people investigate the wider landscape and what is happening in that part of the U.K. In any case; we need to get out of this headspace that states everything from the South is brilliant and there is not a lot up in the North. Yorkshire, Manchester and Liverpool are full of great artists; throw some love up to Scotland and you have some great musicians coming out of Lancashire. You do not need to look too hard and I feel, if we did that and the media were more ambitious, we would get a more balanced industry and a far stronger one. I shall move on from this point but I wanted to urge those in a position of strength to realise we need to look at the past – and what happened in the 1990s – and encourage a more balanced and level music industry. There are artists out there speaking about politics and social concerns; those who have an honesty and special magic – they have to fight harder than artists closer to the capital or those nearer the mainstream.
I am moving up to Manchester and know how strong the music scene is up there. The locals are very supportive of the artists coming through and there is so much for people to see. With a range of great venues and a community spirit that backs brilliant music and culture; WILDFIRES are in a great place and a perfect spot to see their music get some serious love. I wonder whether they will play down in London a lot – I will mention that later – and get their music up and down the country. I have been following WILDFIRES for a bit and, although they have only released a few singles, I can see how they have come on the new aspects thrown into the mix. Stuff shows them at their most determined and complete. I am excited to see how they will progress and evolve and what comes from them. The very best artists are those who have a closeness and sense of understand but are willing to experiment and venture into new ground. WILDFIRES have that sound that reminds me of Pop-Punk bands of the 1990s (a little bit of Kenickie spring to mind) and that brew of seriousness and fun. You get the fresh and exhilarating vocals and solid band performance. I have seen WILDFIRES launch themselves in the world and grow ever-stronger with every release. I often look at the band market and wonder whether there is going to be any growth and change. Solo artists are stealing a lot of the focus and it seems like their dominance is not going anywhere any time soon. Bands are making a bit of a resurgence but I feel too many of them are either going for generic stadium sounds or there is too much electronic input. There are some great bands like The Orielles, Superorganism and Hookworms but they are in a minority. It is a shame because, with those bands I have mentioned; you get so much depth, beauty and songwriting excellence.
It is hard standing aside and getting into the mind. I feel solo artists have a better time and it is easier for them to be nimble and expansive. Bands are often confined to a certain sound and each member has to be happy with the direction and what is being produced. WILDFIRES have a unity and closeness in their ranks that means every decision and song gets a majority vote and there is not that split. They have all been raised on great music and do not aimlessly and lazily follow what is already out there. The guys take from local sounds and look back at their childhood tastes; they write about what is happening in their lives and create a heady and exciting concoction. I am getting more and more excited about bands and keen to get them to the forefront. I have grown a bit weary of Alternative and Indie bands because a lot of them go for maximum volume and stadium-sized sounds – it often blends into one and lacks necessary intelligence and memory. Pop can have that same effect but there are some bands coming through that splice in various decades, elements and sub-genres. I feel WILDFIRES have that ambition to take their music around the world and inspire the next generation coming through. You can sense they have a desire to play big venues and arenas but they are not going to compromise their individuality and ethics and go all Rock or mainstream. One thing that amazes me about the songwriting is how you recall some epic bands of past but it is fresh and new at the same time. That is a hard balance to perfect and something WILDFIRES do very well. I understand most bands are all-male but, in terms of vocal sound and the overall feel, you are very limited and often yearn for something different and more varied. This is another reason why WILDFIRES get to me and why their music communicates something quite special and wonderful.
The Orielles mix male and female vocals and, though I have mentioned them a lot, there are many other bands that have female vocals at the front. From False Advertising and YONAKA through to Goat Girl (all-female) and Superorganism. The all-male bands are great but there is something special about the female voice that goes a bit further and does a lot more. Pop-Punk is a genre that has never really lost its spark and I feel it is at its strongest when you have a female lead. Look back at the riot grrrl movement and the artists that came around in the period. Although they were more Garage-Punk; you had great bands like Bikini Kill who provided spark and explosion but had Pop edges and plenty of melody. I feel that is the secret to creating unifying and properly special music: a strong female lead and a band that have a balance of granite and Pop. I mentioned how we had a great band movement back in the 1990s that inspired a generation and actually spoke about what was happening in the nation. I feel we need that same sort of revolt and uprising in modern music that can make sense of what is happening and get people together. I am not saying WILDFIRES alone can do that but there are fantastic artists out there who seem a lot more grounded and tangible than those in the mainstream. I shall not labour that point further but it is interesting to ponder. I am attracted to bands that have male and female members because you get different perspectives and a more rounded sound. Let us consider the current bands market and the imbalance between all-male examples and those with female members. You have the option of sweetness and spark you will not get with men alone. In order for music to expand and progress, we need to encourage greater diversity and showcase bands that go beyond the obvious. We are still stuck in this mindset the all-male band that turns up the amp and cranks out the guitar is the popular dollar. Whilst they may fill stadiums and provide a short-term blast; those bands that linger longest and have more about them provide a lot more than riffs and familiar choruses.
It is interesting to note how many all-male bands there are and how the band market is experiencing a slump. I am not suggesting that is the only correlation causing the problem but there is a definite link. Too many bands are playing the same sort of music and not really pushing the envelope in a way the public demands. WILDFIRES have enough fire, magic and mystery to go very far in the industry and provide fresh music that blows away the cobwebs. When looking at the band scene and where the new breed of brilliance will come from; I feel Pop and Punk will overtake Rock and Alternative and start a new movement. I have argued about the North and how we need to concentrate more of our time out there. I hope I have covered enough ground and explored WILDFIRES in great depth – I have every hope they will go on to great things. My point is we all need to look harder at music and get beyond the capital and what is coming from there. It has been a long time since I got excited about band-made music but things have changed the last year or so. With great Punk bands like Cabbage and IDLES flexing their muscles; the mass of brilliant Pop-Punk mixing it up and getting their music out there; I feel we are seeing a bit of a recovery and, in a few years, bands will be back on a par with solo artists. WILDFIRES get me excited and their music stays in the brain. You can sing along with them and get up and move. That is not to suggest they are throwaway and too Pop-minded. The spunk and physicality they bring to the plate is what keeps me invested and hooked. I have talked a lot about the band and where they are from; what they are all about and the brilliance they bring. I better get on to WILDFIRES and their latest single, Stuff.
There is plenty of energy and spinning when you hear the opening notes of WILDFIRES. Guitars weave in and out of one another and you have a definite spring in the step. There is light and sunshine but something more spiked and rousing working alongside. In the first few moments, you have so much to get behind, dive inside and fall for. The notes twinkle and dance. You feel yourself swinging your arms to the side and strutting down the street. There is a definite smile on the face and an openness that invites the listener in and keeps them safe. That might suggest there is not enough punch and grunt to get everyone involved. The strength of the song is to provide something quite breezy and calming but there is plenty of physical oomph and kick to unite those who love Pop and those who prefer something a bit different. The introduction is wonderful and you project all sorts of images and place your mind in a particular place. Nathan, Si and Ste step up the musical intrigue as Poppy-Jo comes to the microphone. The heroine has a breathy and seductive voice that reminds me a bit of Hope Sandoval. There is a bit of Nina Persson (The Cardigans) in there too but you get local accent and something more street-wise. It is a blend of sexy and strong that fuses with sly and winking. By that, I mean the heroine has a very down-to-earth nature but there is cheekiness to be found. She hopes and wishes to be the richest girl in the world and give everything to her other. Maybe it is the first moments of a relationship but it seems, as the title suggests, she only has some stuff and various bits and bobs. It is an interesting and new angle to explore and one I was not expecting. So many artists look at love and relationships in a very staid, cliché and boring way.
WILDFIRES seem much more grounded, earnest and unique when it comes to their approach. It is like you are in the heroine’s bedroom and seeing what is strewn about the place. Maybe there are some older guitars or some vinyl; a few trinkets and souvenirs here and there. One gets some male companionship in the vocal department – acting as a two-hander in a sense – and there is a stock check of all the things the heroine has. She has clothing with holes and tears here and there; footwear with scuffs and nothing seems complete and new. You get a vivid and colourful sense of what is in her flat and what she has to offer. Maybe it is an honest revelation to a lover or a general observation of what she has in her life and how humble the setting is. You get some cigarette-scented huskiness and whiskey-soaked sensuality sits alongside a soulfulness and sensitivity that gets into the heart. The heroine wants to give the world but is offering her kingdom of scuff to the hero. She lives a very normal life and there are few riches to be found. It is interesting interpreting the words and it juxtaposes a lot of Pop music that highlights wealth, a desirable life and something many of us cannot understand. You can get behind Stuff and what is being said. The closest comparison to WILDFIRES, I guess, would be The Sundays. Their 1990 album, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic is seen as one of the finest records of the decade and is a perfect blend of Pop and a strong backbeat. WILDFIRES provide a similar unification of dreamy and spirited vocals and great percussion. They throw in keys and synths alongside guiding, strong bass and their proprietary perfume. It is a heady and extraordinary scent that fascinates the eyes and ears and makes you come back. The catchy chorus is, essentially, that list of incomplete clothes and imperfect threads. By the final notes, you come back to the song and try and get to the bottom of it. The modest heroine is being honest about her possessions and what she has to offer. You are behind her and feel sympathy but that is not the point of the song: it is that juxtaposition of the glamorous and bling-laden songs you get and that ‘idealistic’ love song. It is like two teenagers at school starting a courtship and visiting each other’s rooms – not in a sexual way but a more innocent sense. You get that combination of serious and sensual with the child-like and simplistic. It is a great offering from the Manchester band and proof they are among the very best groups in the North. Ensure you give it a good listening and dive into the beautiful and intriguing song. Stuff is a mouth-watering offering that will provoke questions whether more is coming and where the band is heading.
I will reinvestigate WILDFIRES later in the year perhaps but I think the guys have a busy and active time ahead of them. There is a lot to suggest they have a long future and will be touring around the world. They have local gigs coming up and will be busy this summer getting Stuff out to the people and getting as much love as possible. I am stunned by their latest work and how effortless it gets into the head. I hope the band get a chance to come down to London and play some gigs here. I feel they have international potential and can get a lot of attention through Europe and America. I am excited for them and wonder whether an E.P. might come before the year is out. A lot of new ears will train their way and there is evidence to suggest WILDFIRES will bring about some changes in the music industry. Looking to 2019 and I feel WILDFIRES will head to some festivals and get some bigger gigs. I know they are a great live proposition and one of the best young bands working today. Maybe the secret is to mix Pop, Punk and other genres together and provide a personal aspect. It is hard to decipher what makes a ‘perfect sound’ but I feel you need to balance the upbeat and serious; have some Pop edges and crank up the intensity when the moment calls. There is a fantastic bond in the band and you can hear the closeness in every note. The WILDFIRES guys are a democracy and you can hear how much music means to them and how important this is to them. I know they will last a long time and there is going to be more material arriving. I hope I have covered enough ground and explained and explored WILDFIRES sufficiently. I recommend people get involved with their music and listen to Stuff. The Manchester-based band has a great local following but it cannot be long before the capital’s taste-makers prick up their ears and…
THROW love the way of WILDFIRES.