It’s quite hard for us to get our heads around the fact that there are still people out there that don’t quite ‘get’ online social networks. We pour scorn upon these poor people. Well, OK, we’re not that snobbish and wicked, but online social media is something we are very proud to endorse. We can hold up lesson after lesson and example after example of how social networks can make your life better. Don’t believe us? We’d suggest that you’re not doing it right. Whether it’s Gchats, or G+ Hang Outs, or Facebook, and particularly on Twitter, we directly engage with our audience on a daily basis and it produces a multitude of satisfying results. Recently we found ourselves online having a good example of such an encounter.
There we were minding our own little social world, when a chat box popped up on Facebook. “great great great great great website, x“, it said. “Moi?“, we replied, and a conversation with Joel Amey, the singer in Mafia Lights, duly followed. It turns out we’ve covered a few artists on this blog that they also like. He explained that Mafia Lights are a part of a small collection of bands that are emerging from Guildford in Surrey, including Amusement and Disclosure, the latter of which helped them record by getting them into their home studio. Joel passed us some links to his music and we immediately liked what we heard. With all the PR email campaigns, the constant stream of links and a variety of bulging inboxes, it seems that in reality it really is good to talk, or at the very least, chat.
Mafia Lights are a trio, with Joel the singer, and James Balmont on bass, guitars and keys, with Cameron Knight on lead guitars and beats. The band have received some coverage on blogs and Joel briefly mentioned that they’d received a “tiny mention” on NME. Turns out they were listed by NME as one of their best new bands of 2011. Understatements like that go a long way to helping us like them. It’s still early days, but they’ve already got Teeth Records on board, after Max from the label watched them play a showcase gig at Manchester’s In The City festival.
Hampton was a track that began a turning point for the band. Previous incarnations found them working a different sound, with a more traditional rock edge, but upon return from a Los Angeles trip Joel started writing the week he got home and the results have driven them in the direction in which we now find them. The new songs reveal a more experimental approach, working with atmospherics and unusual sounds that riff around the tunes like a helter skelter. It’s a trick that’s repeated on Spiriting, which is more immediate, but once again finds echoing vocal refrains that mimic the voices in your head. Each tune is an example of how to start light, but add more and more weight as the song grows.
The evolution is continued with their latest work, which brings us to perhaps the finest song to date. West starts out as something ethereal, more akin to a Grimes tune, that doesn’t seem that accessible at first, but as the bulk of the tune emerges you realise it’s arms are wide open and as it reaches the resulting vocal refrain it feels like a warm embrace. It’s utterly arresting. What we have here is a brutally honest tale, as he Joel sings “I smoke more than I eat, I dance more than I sleep, I collide with everyone“. It seems like a man spiralling, but who’s redemption can be found in his honesty. Each instrument arrives in waves with some guitars hovering above the tune as if they’d been sprayed into the air like a mist.
Those readers from our home city of Brighton can see them playing a show at The Green Door Store on October 29th, in support of Amusement and Regal Safari. Elsewhere, you can catch them in Manchester, supporting Fixers on November 24th as part of the 20th birthday celebrations for the Night And Day Cafe. Should you not be fortunate enough to live in either of these cities, do not worry, as with all new bands there’s one place you can always catch them – online. Today’s recommendation is a lesson in taking part in online social networks and all the genuine connections and bright discoveries that it can reveal. Ultimately it serves a deep-rooted need in all human beings, to feel part of something bigger than their immediate environment. Mafia Lights got onto these blog pages simply by striking up a conversation. It was as real and as human as if they were stood next to us. Perhaps that’s the way forward for other bands? To paraphrase The Four Tops, just reach out, we’ll be there. (MB)
MAFIA LIGHTS – WEST
MAFIA LIGHTS – SPIRITING