On our travels we often find ourselves deep in conversations with new bands that are asking us how they should go about launching themselves into the limelight. Some of them have been floating around their local scenes for too long, perplexed as to why they’re not getting anywhere, especially as they consider themselves “unbelievably awesome“. The key word, that we’ve mentioned many times before on these blog pages, is ‘traction‘. If you’re in a new band and want to generate some useful hype, particularly if you want to snare the attention of a record label, then you gotta get yourself some of this traction stuff. The problem is there’s no manual or beginners guide that they can turn to. Whilst you’ve had your head down learning your instruments, playing endless hours of inspirational vinyl in your bedroom and focusing on writing a batch of extraordinary songs, you’ve never given any time to consider how you actually make a career out of it. Well, whether they’ve pre-ordained it or not, Torches seem to be taking all the grippy steps on offer.
Once your music is shaped, the first step is to fully immerse yourselves in your local music scene, which this quartet from London seem to have managed rather fittingly, sharing stages with bands such as Crushed Beaks, La Shark and Corpse Lights. Having surrounded themselves with stimulating peers, it’s inevitable that the right connections can start being forged and, knowing what a nosey bunch the music blog community is, it was never going to be long before they reached a blog’s online pages. Following a couple of useful appearances on sites such as Abeano and The Mixtape, they played a couple of handy showcases, such as at Cadiff’s SWN festival and the Binnacle event at The Old Blue Last, both around October, which soon had the likes of The Line Of Best Fit premiering their videos. Beginning your buzz in the Autumn is often a clever move, as these seals of underground approval had them lining up 2012 like a career sniper. Here was a lesson in preparing traction so good it was as if their plan was designed by the Formula One Pirelli team.
So they’ve kicked off the new year with a spotlight full of fuel and in the last few weeks they duly released a split single, or more accurately described as a ‘cover swap’, with the out of focus guitar band and blog charmers, Crushed Beaks. They covered that band’s tune, Close Ups, whilst Crushed Beaks covered the Torches tune, VTOO, in return. It’s a slightly different way of doing things, but by sharing the release they magnify the attention. Torches’ cover is a fantastic effort, particularly clearing the mist from the original’s vocals. It’s cleverly scaled up and by it’s close they stab the heart of the song with excellent guitar blasts. The guitars are one of their finest signature moves, as you can hear with their original work. The wonderfully-named, Towerblock Confetti, has the kind of clear Fender work not heard since Jamie Cook danced his fingers all over the Arctic Monkey’s debut. That’s the limit of any similarities to the Sheffield band, as this group have a more contemporary swagger to their sound, eventually reaching an awesome chorus mantra, as singer, Charlie Drinkwater, challenges you, “Do you know what you are missing?“. It’s a direct call that must marry with the exact thoughts of the privileged crowds that get the chance to watch them at their often-packed London gigs.
Their deliberate design and brilliantly pompous swagger is also paired up with desolation on other tunes. The melancholy they turn to on songs such as Little Ice Age is still atmospheric, but its more like being slowly surrounded by fog rolling in from the sea. This is familiar doom pop that we’ve seen with other bands, particularly from the turn of the 70s and 80s, but this time resulting from the recent economic collapse – this is divided youth pop on the unemployment benefit system. It’s slower and darker, but no less clever and it’s patient pace is written so smartly that by it’s finish you will undeniably be affected. This is music played with a refined texture, although the lacquered veneer is stained black. Their tune, VTOO, has Drinkwater placed front and centre, describing his luck at making it through the red brick estate that he called home, played out like an adverse lament to his childhood. It’s when they’re driving their songs in sharper blasts like this that they seem at their best, full of rich character, a tone that touches the every-man, whilst maintaining their alternative edge. Above all the hype, heat and buzz which has undoubtedly earned them the essential traction that so many bands search out, it’s ultimately their music that will carry them to success. What will frustrate all the failed bands out there is that with Torches we have a clever group of traction magnets that make both the smart moves and the music actually look entirely effortless. (MB)
TORCHES – TOWERBLOCK CONFETTI
TORCHES – CLOSE UPS (CRUSHED BEAKS COVER)