We simply cannot consider what Foals, or Bloc Party, or The Libertines would have sounded like if they weren’t from the UK. It’s just impossible to imagine isn’t it? Totally impossible. There’s something especially British about them. You can say the same thing for lots of bands through history. The Smiths simply couldn’t come from San Francisco could they? What about The Specials, or Metronomy, or Roni Size, or Radiohead? No chance, they’re all very, very British. However, they also sound very different from each other, so you can’t tie a theme together. It seems that there’s no British theme. It’s most likely a reflection of the variety of cultures and differing cities and landscapes found upon our small island. If nothing else, we’re a diverse bunch.
So we turn our attention to today’s recommendation and once again we hear a sound that could only have been created within our borders. Coastal Cities are a relatively new five-piece who plan to release their debut EP, Think Tank, on December 5th. They come from High Wycombe and we can only assume that the moniker they’ve selected perhaps reflects the dreamers they appear to be, as their home is very much a town, not a city, that’s landlocked and in no way coastal. Perhaps it’s that ‘High Wycombe’ simply isn’t a suitable band name; it’s certainly not quite as catchy is it? Either way, the teenage group – they’re all said to be under 20 years old – deliver some rather brilliant and enticing music that will see their appeal stretch out far beyond their town’s borders and who knows in this online world, perhaps beyond the UK’s edges too.
The likes of the influential Neon Gold music blog, the New york band, The Drums, and even some French music commentators, such as Les Inrockuptibles and Le Figaro picked up on them before any UK blogs, eventually resulting in them playing a gig in Paris before they’d even performed in their own capital. It seems the foreign obsession with UK-produced music is sometimes paying more attention than those of us who call Britain home! We’ve been informed that they found their local scene’s cliques uninviting, which only served their desire to escape the suffocation that an unacceptable community can create – is their anything worse than an uncomfortable home life? As we see on this debut EP this is a band that have now found the air their creativity needed in order to breathe.
Comparisons to early Foals will inevitably bounce around, as they deliver the same post-punk-inspired ingredients, with not only the spiked guitars, but Declan Curran’s vocals, sung with his English accent intact, that undoubtedly refelect Yannis‘ yelps. Opening track on the EP and the first to get them the early online coverage, Think Tank, begins with Sean Semmons’ guitars dancing up the neck. Notes are played independently of each other, as rapid bass rolls and light, sprinting beats are introduced at a relentless pace, only to pause mid-song for what feels like a breather, before racing to the finish line. It’s as light-footed as a centipede walking up the fret board, but youthful and bright. The only negative is that all the light they’ve successfully stored up seems to be somewhat dulled by it’s lack of originality. This is very Foals. The genre of math rock was a hit a few years ago, but now it’s lost it’s ingenuity, hence the gear shift on the last Foals album. However, when it’s this good, it’s still impressive and they may yet learn to evolve it like Two Door Cinema Club did so successfully in more recent times.
The lyrics are also a bit of a square wheel – we’ve no still idea what a ‘think tank’ is – but the stories of love give a heart to this otherwise spiked music. No Rooms For Heroes sings, “It’s your heart that makes me feel, it’s your heart that makes me real“, which feels a little teenage, but on other tunes you get healthier signs. Night School isn’t just utterly brilliant, with what sounds like a million notes all folding in upon themselves in an impossibly great set of riffs, but we get Declan repeating the line “We can learn to handle each other“, which could just as much be speaking to the listener, as their journey is ultimately an enjoyable one by the EP’s end. Two instrumental tunes Transgression, which continues the signature math rock breathlessness, in the same way Not Squares burst with pogo-ing energy is a delight, whilst Infinite Mind shows a mature beauty that can only be found when you take your time.
The world evolves at an ever increasing pace and it’s virtually impossible to keep up, so we can’t suggest that math rock is still particularly current, neither has it been so long since it’s hey day to consider re-visiting it. However, when you remove the judgemental goggles of time and relevance what we actually have here is a set of young creative artists that have produced an EP of such skillful design that it simply cannot be ignored. The new demos are just as breezy too, with Relief proving a particularly tall spire, so the career they’re building seems set on solid foundations and it’s not your starting point, but the path you set out on that will ultimately decide your destination. Nobody else but us Brits can make this style of music and this band are a particular highlight among the many pretenders. In a global community, where the traditional industries have all but left Britain in search of cheaper foreign labour, it’s good to see that the UK is still the manufacturing capital of the world when it comes to this style of indie. (MB)
COASTAL CITIES – NIGHT SCHOOL
COASTAL CITIES – INFINITE MIND