Under The Influence

UNDER THE INFLUENCE
“Kings & Cretins”

[Self-released]

Think “political”, “anthem” and “underground”, Under The Influence are that with an additional fighting spirit and a sound completely relevant to 2012.

Taking influence from the mighty Enter Shikari and The King Blues with efforts from producer Romesh Dodangoda (Lostprophets, Funeral For A Friend) this seven track mini album is an utter underdog that’s ready to impress.

A raw street-style atmosphere from five fresh faces that are evidently not short of talent, 4th track ‘S.O.P.A’ unleashes a unique blend of a strong rhythm coupled with delicate piano keys for the outro. The recognisable teen-angst and rebellion gives ‘Kings & Cretins’ an edge. Under The Influence’s sound is big and they are fully charged with enough power to make anyone stop and not only hear, but listen and take note of exactly what they’re proposing.

Experimental, metal-meets-rap, gang vocals and electronic samples with synths gives the five piece a confident streak. ‘Vs The World’ is exciting and full of guts. Title track ‘Kings & Cretins’ is stomping and crashes through the underground ready to take over what and who may be above them.

Closing the door with final track ‘Someone For A Day (No One For A Life Time)’ takes elements of Architects and Bring Me The Horizon in the bridge, where melody that screams pain and a feeling of desperate loss through slowed down instrumentation. The end result? A seemingly underrated band with huge amounts of potential.

It’s impressive. An album to be expected from experimental veterans rather than a new bunch who’ve hardly even got a place on the map. If there is any justice they’re going to get a seal of approval sooner rather than later.

Words: Jenny Chu

Hildamay, Album Launch Show – The Garage, London

HILDAMAY
w/ Landscapes, Tu Amore, Black Shapes, Insurgents

The Garage, Islington
22nd October 2012

Hildamay have had a hell of a year already, the quintet from Kent had a busy summer wowing the likes of BBC Radio 1, Reading and Leeds festival as well as preparing the release of their debut album ‘Miles Away’. Now they’re back on the road ahead of that release and everyone here tonight is in for a real treat, plugging an exclusive-listening of the new tracks.

Insurgents picked the shortest straw and are up first. The trio from Watford perform like they have everything relying on it. It’s not until they bring out an additional two drums into the centre of the crowd to form a drum battle which see’s frontman Ant Giannaccini and bassist Bentley Levy bash away to a beat that their show becomes is three dimensional.

‘It’s like a twelve year old school disco,’ frontman Gareth Evans of Black Shapes tells the half empty venue. The result? Gareth resorts to joining the intimate crowd, performing majority of the set off the stage. On the plus side, the fans that are present have more space to hard-core dance and the opportunity to share the frontman’s microphone for numerous choruses. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t looking forward to the release of their new EP ‘In The Mourning Light‘ out later this month.

Tu Amore have a soulful, indie sort of sound to them stirring in drumbeats that bring the show alive. The four members from Peterborough seem to have established a sound that sets them apart with energy of a much heavier band. Up next is Landscapes who have the challenge of getting some kind of crowd engagement. ‘I can’t even see you!’ Complains vocalist Shaun. What welcomes them though are a small group of hard-core kids and the band seem far from impressed. The quartet from Somerset no doubt have the songs to put other British rising rock bands on the edge of their seat. Whether they stick to half-hearted shows such as tonight’s is another story.

Just after 10pm and the half empty venue turns into a tightly squeezed room eager for the headliners. Hildamay strike up ‘We Loved, We Lost’ and ‘This House Became Our Home’ plunging down a route of heavy rock, but what these clever lads have managed to do is put meaning into a genre that is known to be full of mosh-pit mayhem melodies. Their tunes are extremely rough round the edges but you can tell they’re genuinely heart-felt.

The band are truely passionate which shows in tonight’s performance, pushing through songs that are bounded together by fist pumping beats and gritty guitar riffs. Usually it’s the frontman that captures the attention but Hildamay are a band that have so much going for them as a whole. Recent single ‘Changing The Key’ even managed to turn the heads of those at Radio 1’s Rock Show gaining Track Of The Week status. Tonight’s live performance of that track certainly showed it was worthy of that title and what Hildamay are made of as a whole.

Words: Jenny Chu

The Story So Far

The Story So Far
‘Under Soil And Dirt’

[Pure Noise]

The California bred outfit The Story So Far, play homage to their pure punk rock roots with their debut full length release of ‘Under Soil And Dirt’.

The Story So Far really does remind of the early Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals era. Taking the raw sound of a band straight out of high school and rehearsing in their parents garage, ‘Under Soil And Dirt’ is the epitome of the American punk vibe. While attacking the genre with nail biting, teeth grinding and frankly pretty awesome guitars. There’s a ferocious thirst for destruction and an intense affection in songs ‘Roam’ and ‘Four Years’.

What does come up fighting fit is ‘High Regard’ which advocates a soaring melody that is without a doubt catchy. The quintet must have vision playing this live in front of a herd of troubled hardcore kids’ fist pumping along. ‘Daughters’ will ensure everyone gives this underrated band a head turning reaction. It could be said that many bands in their genre are dumping various random break downs and heartless arrangements, but with the Story So Far it is crystal clear they put in some serious thought as to who they are.

‘Mt. Diablo’ is super eager to break the punk mold, it certainly does depict a poppier aura with contagious hooks and guitar picking that come straight out of summer, showing the underground scene how it’s done. Frontman Parker Cannon projects a primitive tone with a rebel edge that suggests the likes of ‘Rally Cap’ could play the role of a theme tune in a riot.

The 10 tracks on the album takes anyone listening, to the youthful days spent on the beach, using music to express and reveal all their youthful rollercoaster emotions. It’s not brain surgery to write lyrics that capture those early days but Parker and co are not just a bunch of guys in a band, they’re a talented force to be reckoned with.

The Story So Far’s release definitely fascinates and it’s certainly intriguing to see what they will come up with next. They have the potential to be a favourite on the pop-punk/rock menu rivaling even the big dogs in the game.

Words: Jenny Chu

Anberlin

Anberlin
‘Vital’

[Universal Republic]

To call this a masterpiece does not even justify Anberlin’s sixth studio album ‘Vital’.

It seems there is in fact much more to Anberlin than head-banging, mosh pit worthy breakdowns and rowdy screams based around the lyrics of heartbreak and growing up. The band make a stand for this with songs ‘Other Side’ and ‘Someone Anyone’. ‘Vital’ is more mature. It’s sophisticated. It channels their music into a different dimension. With frequent Innerpartysystem meet Nine Inch Nails synth effects pursuing ‘Vital’ down a path of more modern musical styles.

Vocalist Stephen Christian describes it as ‘youthful, energetic energy’ saying its their most aggressive record yet, which is agreeable when listening to the eleven track album. The piercing first song can safely represent ‘Vital’ as a journey of nostalgia and tension. Continuing this adventure with ‘Little Tyrants’, Stephen takes the opportunity to define his dynamic tone, from the fiercely monstrous aggression in the chorus straight through to the melodic, more delicate verses. Yet its not just vocal power, let’s not forget the overall great effort from the band who indulge in supreme guitar riffs and paramount beats in the flawless bridge.

The album is far from a bore, rattling the airwaves with ‘Intensions’. The exploding arrangement involves a crunchy guitar intro darting into an apocalyptic synth melody. Lyrics: ‘I want a love that I don’t deserve/I want the gold that I didn’t earn/I want a fire that will never burn’ are fundamentally catchy. What makes ‘Vital’ really glisten and flourish is their seventh track ‘Desires’. The veteran musicians craft this by exploring the unknown, experimenting with challenging rhythms and shaping a melody nothing less than extraordinary.

Only Anberlin could come up with this recipe. The essence of experts coming together to create something refreshing can be heard in ‘Type Three’. Unlike the rest of ‘Vital’ it’s almost a ballad, the instrumentation laying the foundations to a melody that tells a story. It’s evident they pushed the boundaries and every song emphasises their treasure like talent.

Anberlin maximise their music ability and as the album artwork suggests it does blow everything out of the water. Possibly saving the best until last is ‘God, Drugs & Sex’ captures the epic sound of Amberlin as a whole. This track also features guest vocals but this time from US singer songwriter Christine DuPree, who has previously appeared on the New Found Glory- ‘Coming Home’ album.

‘Vital’ is an essential album and will hopefully inspire change and further creativity in alternative music.

Words: Jenny Chu

I Call Fives

I Call Fives
‘I Call Fives’

[Pure Noise]

If you feel as if your life is lacking some fun pop punk turn your heads to I Call Fives. The quintet from New Jersey left their distinctive sound tickling everyone’s taste buds with their debut album ‘First Things First’ back in 2008. Two years later came the release of ‘Bad Advice’ and now they’ve unveiled their self-title album.

‘Late Nights’ is a confident start to the eleven track album. From the bold, crunching riffs to drums that are full of power providing a true dose of pop punk. Frontman Jeff Todd’s tremendously lively vocals are fitting for such genre. The energy is undeniably contagious and should find its home to all pop punk fans record radar.

Setting I Call Fives apart from other bands in the genre is how they have managed to maintain a certain power throughout their band, despite a change in singer. Jeff has so far made a splendid first impression with this release. ‘Obvious’ seems like the perfect sing along with chorus lyrics ‘When it all comes down to the facts/you can’t admit when you’re wrong’.

From first listen ‘Back Up Plan’ is at the heart of I Call Fives style, bringing attention to a greatly memorable melody. Fourth track ‘The Fall Guy’ stays true to their pop punk roots, avoiding a mature style that the likes of All Time Low and Hit The Lights have recently adopted, yet what still exists with I Call Fives is a genuinely raw sound that the five guys have mastered throughout this record. There doesn’t seem to be any intension of pleasing the mainstream radio stations or setting their sights on playing big production shows at arenas across the globe, it still feels sincere.

‘Stuck In ‘03’ and ‘Enemy’ are a tornado of energy which never gets boring. The lyrics remain stubborn, youthful and fun with lyrically the best chorus emotive pop punk has to show:
‘Sometimes you just can’t wait
, I’m more than happy to not fit in (with your friends), 
I hope you don’t make it home
, Someday that you’ll face it, 
Cause the world doesn’t spin for you’.

If there’s anyone still waiting to be won over, ‘Two Sides Of Every Story’ can guarantee to do the job. With an irresistible intro, layered vocals and an effortless tougher edge, I Call Fives are carrying the flame for a genre they are taking lead of. Closing songs ‘Regrets and Setbacks’ and ‘Sleep Well’ have the potential to stay stuck in many an existing fan’s head, they’ve also got the potential for them to spread their wings and gain interest from a wider audience.

Words: Jenny Chu

Don Broco live at Electric Ballroom, London

Don Broco
Electric Ballroom, London
11th October 2012

‘This has been the one date on the tour we’ve been most looking forward to,’ frontman Rob Damiani cheekily tells the sold out venue. Anyone would think this was their show and everyone was here to see them. But in actual fact they’re just on a support slot to their good friends Lower Than Atlantis.

Not even half way through opening song ‘Priorities’ and Rob takes the lead to begin their distinguishable routine of ‘The Walk’, which see’s three of the members walk in unison on the spot. There’s something convivial about their practiced dance routines. And before you know it the majority of the 1100 people here tonight seem to be in a festival mood, singing back every lyric on their pals’ shoulders. It’s a scene to remember.

Future single ‘Hold On’ is well received and if the boys ever had doubts previously, tonight they have certainly got their foot in the door and one day managing pop-punk-world-domination wouldn’t shock us.

Of course though, it wouldn’t be a Don Broco performance without ‘Thug Workout’. Almost four years since its release the much heavier track calls the shots, enticing fans to get to the centre of the floor and simply, work out.

One thing Don Broco definitely are not short is being strangely entertaining. Playing ‘Whole Truth’ off their recently released first full length album, the performance is built around an abundance of sheer fun and a solid good hook which everyone takes a massive liking too. They excel at delivering an unpredictable energy that nobody would expect from a pop rock band, truly deserving a pat on the back.

Red faced, sweaty palms and a dose of adrenaline does not make the four-piece relinquish just yet as they go out with a bang with ‘Actors’. Sure, sometimes they may behave and look like a boy band but they’re making a name for themselves the right way with their fans ranging from young teens to those experiencing adult life; Don Broco have the ability to engage with every single one of the audience.

Expect to see much, much more of Don Broco.

Words: Jenny Chu