TRACK REVIEW: Tiger Mimic - Elephant Skeleton



Tiger Mimic


PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions  

Elephant Skeleton





The track, Elephant Skeleton, is available via:




London, U.K.


14th September, 2018


THE reason I am doing two reviews in one day…


 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

is because it is pissing it down with rain! Actually, that’s not the real reason but it is quite handy having that excuse to stay in! I am hearing some great new acts coming through and I am keen to get on top of everything. This time around, I want to look at a few things pertinent to Tiger Mimic and the music they make. Their name, essentially, comes from a butterfly that disguises itself to be poisonous but actually is not – just so predators leave it alone. It is a cool name and something that actually feeds into their music. I think of them and the way their music has bite and real toughness but, underneath, there is that sweetness and sense of beauty. I want to look at artists who have a real interesting sound and cool blend of styles; music videos and why I am drawn to them; bands you want to know more about and those who boast a cool story; the persistence and effort artists show and why they should be paid attention to more – ending with why Tiger Mimic will go a long way and should hang tight. I actually met the founders of Tiger Mimic, Bram and Jess, a few days back after interviewing them. I will talk about them but, in essence, I almost lost my voice speaking to them! Not that this was entirely down to them – I was interviewing people all day and was a bit sore before I got there. We do not hear about artists’ personalities and what makes them tick. Bram had many great stories and has had a vivid/interesting career path to music. He is a great raconteur and loves his music. Jess is a complete dream – she and Bram are married – and, by her own admission, a crazy cat-lady! She is charming and funny (we both can speak German – forgot to mention that to her) and, between them, make for a formidable team! The two are fairly new to London and, with Ben and George, they have a band together.


  PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

What attracts me to Tiger Mimic is the blend of styles they fuse together. When interviewing them, I asked what sort of sounds/genres they put together. I can usually predict what a band will sound like and the fact they will, in some form, follow the mainstream. I know Bram loves The Beatles and told me about his first taste of Magical Mystery Tour. You get the sense the inventiveness and out-there nature of The Beatles inspires how he writes and performs. Listen to his vocals or guitar work; how he orchestrates music and approaches things. Hailing from New York – a quieter area of the city/state – I get a combination of the ‘quirks’ of the area and the new-found eye-opening from London. Jess, meanwhile, embodies that enigmatic and stunning heroine. I know how she loves Joni Mitchell’s Blue and I feel like she identifies with that record. Mitchell, regarding Blue, said how she was putting everything out there and being completely open. That raw and vulnerable expression comes through in Jess’ voice. Both of the leads had different musical upbringings but they are lured to those artists who do things differently. You listen to a song like Elephant Skeleton and so much is working away. The storytelling is illustrative and colourful; the delivery is original and you get a much bigger hit than you’d think – the band combine their multiple facets and produce a blistering song. Maybe I have laboured on this point but I like to hear artists who do things in a different manner. By that, I mean they are not your predictable fare that you can match with anyone else. Tiger Mimic are as deep and multi-coloured as the butterfly on whom they are named. I can listen to Tiger Mimic and get a real understanding of the artists that inspire the performers; a rare cocktail that gets into the blood and transports you to a strange and magical world.


I will come back to styles and fabrics in a bit but, right now, Tiger Mimic’s video for Elephant Skeleton is out there. I do not often look at a musician/artist and feel like their visual side speaks to me. A music video is part of the promotional cycle and some artists love doing them – others are less concerned and you can tell their heart is not in it! I love music videos and feel they can say so much about a song. A great producer can turn a rubbish song into something good: a fantastic video can bring new life and energy from a song. Tiger Mimic’s latest track is stunning but they manage to heighten it with a great video. Look at the animation and old-skool looks of the video and you are transported to another time. I love how nostalgia seems to fuse with modernity inside everything Tiger Mimic does. I love directors like Michel Gondry and how he brings his own universe/scent to the party. One can look at one of his videos and know it is his work. From directing The White Stripes through New York (The Hardest Button to Button) or bending minds directing Lucas or Björk…you get this insane and brilliant result. My favourite videos are those that take chances and put a smile on your face. I particular love those videos Peter Gabriel put together for his album, So. That album arrived after four eponymous records – who names four albums after themselves?! – and videos for Sledgehammer and Big Time, with their Claymation-style shoots were groundbreaking. Those videos were out in the mid/late-1980s and were well ahead of their time. I also love how someone like Kate Bush and how she approached videos. Not only did Gabriel and Bush collaborate (for Don’t Give Up and Games Without Frontiers) but she threw everything into every video. They are renowned for their brilliance, physicality and storylines.


This might sound like a rambling side-street – the sort Bob Dylan might write about as a metaphor – but it is relevant. Artists, now, have to think about every asset and facet of their work. If they pen a great tune but do not do something good with a video then they have left a flapping hole. You need to be rigid and disciplined when it comes to every angle. People are looking for artists who are the complete package and appeal to every sense. I think the music video is a great opportunity to do something fantastic – I understand finances are limited and it can be hard doing something ambitious. I am a wannabe director and have a few ideas for videos. I always imagine it would be costly to do something majestic but you can create memorable work with very little money. I am not sure how costly the video for Elephant Skeleton was but it is amazing in its own right. I used to be a big gamer and love the retro look of video games from the 1980s and 1990s; playing the Sega Mega Drive and being thrilled – going down that street again; need to flip it in reverse! – by the effect it had on me. I know there is more material in Tiger Mimic and, with London at their feet, I am excited to see what they have in mind. Given the fact the band is fronted by a husband-and-wife team – like The White Stripes but without the uniforms and we’re-really-siblings-lie – they could bring something romantic, explosive or domestic to the plate. From speaking with them, their minds spark with ideas and they have brilliant visual eyes. Many might say videos are not as vital as the music but we really need to start evaluating the importance of them and how they can ingrain a song in the mind. It is not usual you get to have a personal attachment to someone you are reviewing.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

Not that I am living with them or hanging out all the time but it was good to speak with Jess and Bram about their music, background and chill with them. Jess has lived in different countries and seen a lot of the world. She is out there looking for a great job with a label (hire her if you want someone great) and Bram has a background in the wine industry. An oenophile from New York and a Joni Mitchell-like heroine together is a recipe for success! We do not often think about artists and where they came from. How often do we read reviews or chat with artists after gigs?! Do we have the platform where they can talk and get their true story out to the people? The music itself only provides one take and it can be obfuscating, fictional or inscrutable. Jess and Bram have come a long way and, with their band members, are a fresh team. It is great to see where they have come from and where they want to head. I can hear the bustle and accents of New York in their music – not literally; a certain ambition and dynamic you do not get elsewhere – and there is a clear passion. I know they want to get a lot of gigs and, with an E.P. coming next year; it will be a chance for new eyes to be seduced by them. I listen to their music and am instantly grabbed by the way they sound and how everything comes together. You cannot compare the band with anyone else and that all bodes well. I have talked about audio and visual sides to them and will come to look at the personal drive that is evident. There are so many reasons why you need to get behind Tiger Mimic and show them some love. One gets a cannonball of delight, intelligence and passion from their songs. I have no doubt they are going to go very far and will be a big success in very little time.


The guys have teamed with producer Matt Lawrence and, having recorded at London’s Livingston Studios; some great music and results came through. Elephant Skeleton is about a mysterious garden fading and its owners sit and count drops of rain – searching for an answer that will never come. You never get that sort of story with artists, and so, you owe it to dip your toes into the waters of Tiger Mimic and swim with them. Having spoken with Bram and Jess; the guys are hustling and sending emails to people. The modern game involves a lot of communication and very little return. I get tonnes of emails a day and, whilst I cannot around to featuring everyone and feature each act; I make sure I reply to anything personally directed to me and ensure I do not leave people hanging. Modern music is a game of returns and beating the odds. A lot of time, it is about getting lucky and I wonder whether the media needs to change. There are platforms for artists to get their music heard and reviewed but there are so many people going for the same thing. You need to be resilient and determined if you want to make headway in the industry. One mustn’t take things too personally if there are ignored emails but I feel every artist is owed a response from everyone. How often do artists who pine and graft get what they want? Is music about being in the right place or getting lucky? That may sound harsh but it seems the most talented and worthy have to fight harder than those who are commercial or have a label behind them. I am not sure whether Tiger Mimic have a P.R. company behind them but I know there are some out there who would snap them up. Maybe that would get their music to more blogs/sites and they might be able to benefit from a team putting their music out into the world. I am a big fan of BBC Radio 6 Music and feel their music would be popular there.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Luis Guillén

I feel Tiger Mimic have a long way ahead of them but they can get there. Right now, they are preparing for a gig at the Dublin Castle on 26th September (see their social media feeds) and it will be a great opportunity to get their music to a new crowd. I will come to that in the conclusion but here is a band that can mix it with the very best and deserve a lot of oxygen. It is a hard music world to dominate but fortitude and talent will win the day. The reason I feel Tiger Mimic will continue to grow and succeed is because of the unity in their ranks. You have that American duo who have a close connection and the two British (I assume) newcomers. They are almost like Fleetwood Mac (Bram and Jess as Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks?!) but without the fighting, drugs and controversy. Who knows; maybe a Mac-like success will come (without the extra-marital affairs) and they will produce their masterpiece. I think relationships and understanding in bands can make a big difference and the fact Tiger Mimic are a solid unit means they are determined to keep plugging and playing. The guys are getting emails and word out there; they are lining gigs up and it seems like they are excited about what is ahead. This year has been important and has seen them get their name out there. Next year is going to be big and I think we need to respect and give more chances to those artists willing to keep pushing. Given the fact Tiger Mimic have a terrific sound and great stories within the band; I think they will get success very soon and see their efforts rewarded. Certainty, if you get time to hang with them and chat; you get a much better understand about what makes them tick and how their personalities feed into the music.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

The first moments of the song are vital if you want to grab the listener and keep them involved. So many artists are shortening their intros because they want to grip people and feel a lack of vocals will turn people away. Elephant Skeleton has a great video and you get a bit of 8-bit electronics at the very start of the song. From the old-skool and nostalgic electronics; you then get some sexy, slinky and grubby guitars that take you from one decade to another and really shift the mind. You are transformed from that vintage world to somewhere more modern and changed. I imagine myself in some colourful and candid street as the rain seems to trip down. You get a real blast of cool and swagger as the song starts to warm and take shape. You never instantly pine for a vocal and feel something is lacking. The guitar is fascinating and has a nice mix of Blues and Rock. You get caught in the sway and tropical breeze of the guitar and let the song take you away. Ironically, the opening lyrics of Elephant Skeleton talk about icy rain dropping down and something a bit cold coming through. Bram delivers his words with a sense of story and emotion. Rather than tumble the words out and race away; you get that careful projection that matches the composition. Everything is quite laid-back (at first) and seems to carefully entice the listener in. The hero talks about math being laid out and figures being presented. I get this combination of numbers and rain and, knowing the song is about a garden; I am transported to that scene and a figure watching things wither away. The band come together to give the song plenty of strut and adventure. Guitar and bass fuse with the percussion and you seem to get instrumental representation of the weather and view.


The lead duo starts to come together and talk about this garden. Nothing is growing and it seems like the fallow fields will never bloom again. Bram’s opening vocal lead transfers to Jess and she brings a new dynamic in. The pace continues the same as the heroine discusses an inevitability and branches everywhere. Maybe the garden is overgrown and things are falling into a state of disrepair. Both vocalists have their own style and it is great to compare the two. They sound great when in unity but you get different scents when they step aside. Jess has elements of Joni Mitchell but there is a husk and raw quality that emerges. I have heard about some mixed-gender bands but most of them are female-fronted (male members not contributing to the vocals much). You get true partnership with Tiger Mimic and both have a way of taking lyrics and really putting them into the brain. Our heroine impressed and stuns with a breathy, smoky and engaging voice (hard to put into words how both singers make you feel) and it is like you are hearing a classic chanteuse perform from the stage. You are helpless and are swept away but this sensual wave of voices. It is interesting seeing how each of the leads sounds and guides the story. They can stand alone and weave but, at every stage, you are buckled and excited. I think the garden is a metaphor for a relationship or bond that is seeing its roots come apart. Maybe lovers who have neglected one another and hearts that are not as strong as they were. It is the rhythm and kick of the song that comes to me. It is a flowing, hypnotic and wonderful song that stays under the skin. Just as you dive into the verse and picture scenes; the guitar comes back in and there is another Blues lick.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Luis Guillén

It is almost like the guitar parable acts as the rain and weather itself. It is a tender, tongue-teasing and animal-skinned slither that gets into the blood and does something fantastic. The big walls and obstacles in the gardens are as noticeable as an elephant skeleton at the door. You get grandeur and vast images but feel like something more intimate is being assessed. Maybe the relationship quandary is not taken from any band member’s past but you feel like they have experienced a bad past and dealt with these pains. I love how Jess and Bram weave inside one another and their voices expose all the nuances of the song. You walk with them and picture the scenes they are painting. They have no idea why the walls and structures are there but it seems like this garden owner is doomed. Help can come but it will not make a difference. Again, I look at matters of the heart and feel like a relationship has faulted and been overlooked. The heroine speaks of being far away from home and, in every line, you take your mind in a different direction and conspire as to the song’s origins. The melody, wonderful flourishes and busy composition is wonderful. I love how much activity there is in the song and how Elephant Skeleton goes through different phases. You envision this story and chronicle that seems positive to start but becomes heavier by the moment. Oddly, I get touches of French and a classic romance in the composition. A swoon, kiss and merry dance gives the composition great sway and tenderness. The contrasts and clashes of styles makes the Tiger Mimic latest such a gem. As the song closes, you get a final rush and it is brilliantly concluded. A nice, cool and awesome little flick of the tail brings the song to its end and perfectly stops things. After that fascinating start (you get electronic samples for the video; the actual version starts with guitar), there is a different vibe to end the song. Elephant Skeleton is a packed, brilliant and original song from a band that are fully-formed and fantastic. You can hear the connection in the ranks and how natural they all sound around one another. If this is what their material sounds like so early; it is scary how good they can be in a few years from now.


I mentioned how they have a gig coming up at the Dublin Castle and, if you are about on Wednesday (26th); get behind them and ensure you show some support. The venue is legendary and it will be an exciting one for them! I will try and get down there and see them but I know there will be some more gigs coming. When their E.P. drops early next year, they will get some more bookings and see the crowds flocking. I am keen to see how that chemistry unfolds on the stage and how they interact with the audience. What amazes me is the freshness of the music and how I cannot lump it with another band. They have a great creative vision and have put out a terrific music video. Throw into the mix their natural abilities and talents and you have a group that are going to be ones to watch. I have spoken with Jess and Bram and got to learn a lot about them. I know they are excited to get their music to as many people as possible and you know nothing matters as much as music. They seem to live for it and do not want to be overlooked. So many artists seem to be in the industry for success and, whilst that is fine, their music does not really remain and show any original flair. I am looking forward to seeing where they head next year and where their music takes them. I know they can get some gigs in the U.S. and a lot more dates around the U.K. Given the positive reception of Elephant Skeleton and how it stands in the mind; I feel they should look forward to some big success. It will not come easily – and they will have to graft still – but they have all the components ready for longevity.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions  

You can hear the personalities and brilliant of the players in every note and you cannot listen to a Tiger Mimic song and not be affected. There is something about the sound and the unusual subject matter. I have mentioned Bram’s Beatles love and that sort of experimental mind – you feel like he wants songs to trip into strange territories and not follow the same boring rules as everyone else. Jess, to me, resembles a modern-day Joni Mitchell and has a brilliant high-pitched vocal. She can buckle the knees and make the soul swoon. The two of them combine brilliantly and offer brilliant magic. When you hear the quartet step up; their music leaves you a bit breathless and amazed. I have gabbed enough about them and, I hope, assessed Elephant Skeleton properly. As we head towards the closing weeks of the year; Tiger Mimic will take to a big London stage and they will be readying themselves for their E.P. They have made some movements and steps the last few weeks and I know they have big plans for 2019. There are not many bands who leave the same impression as Tiger Mimic and have such intriguing and wonderful leads. Things can only get better and, if they continue to produce music like Elephant Skeleton, then they will be a big proposition for the future. They might have started in different countries and from different backgrounds but now, firmly cemented and determined, the guys of Tiger Mimic are very much…


 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

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