Get ready to emerge. Emerge when you’re ready. That’s a good lesson for any new bands that are setting out. Like most other music blogs out there on the highways, we operate in the world of emerging music, doing our best to shine our acutely focused spotlight onto new artists that have music to dish out. Sometimes providing coverage for those who only have one song can actually be a little problematic. We tend to try and avoid selecting bands with only one track, as it’s better to give clearer recommendations of those bands that can provide the context that comes from hearing more than one tune. More importantly though, bands can lose that all important traction, (something we’ve documented at length before for bands that really want to set out on a career), if they start earning coverage for one song, but cannot quickly follow it up with new music soon afterwards. Sadly, particularly in the Internet age, attention spans are short and people move on very quickly, so if you can’t capitalise on the hype that your first song brings, then you virtually have to start again with your second tune. Today’s recommendation seem a good example of exactly this issue.
Evil Alien are a duo from Birmingham, or what they call “the UK’s ‘Second City‘”, although we’re not sure if they’re calling it that out of pride, or to avoid stating that they are indeed “from Birmingham“. Looking back to last summer, their tune, Higher Than The Sun, got played on Zane Lowe’s Radio One show. Zane was particularly early to this pair, giving them one of the strongest spotlights available for new music that exists in the UK, as he exposed them to his millions of listeners. The song is an absolute masterpiece, tempting everyone that heard it to pay attention. This special traction opportunity had found a song that was indeed worthy. Glenn Smyth’s vocals styled with slurring attitude, akin to Kasabian‘s Tom Meighan, kick things off over a set of dramatic strings, before a layer of female vocals apply a clean filter to the otherwise murky waters. This is a sonically uplifting piece of work that soars at it’s chorus. It has hit written all over it, as the vocals combine, handing out lines such as “I’ll take you higher than you’ve ever been, and I’m the one to set you free” in a burst of emotive songcraft.
The problem is, that was the summer of 2011. Since then it seems that the duo have been holed up in the studio completing other tunes. It’s taken until mid-April 2012 before they’ve reached out with anything new, so only now are they able to deliver their full debut single, which is set for a release on May 14th. That’s way too long to capitalise on their useful Radio One coverage from last summer. Surely it would have been better to get it all ready, then start with an appearance on Radio One? Sometimes we guess they have no choice. They don’t control what Zane Lowe selects, but there’s the feeling that this was an opportunity missed. So what of the next opportunity? Well, thankfully we can confirm that the double A-sided single will re-ignite some interest. Out Of Love reflects the dark claustrophobic experience found in urban life. It fills up in layers until you’re not so much as swimming in it’s many sounds, but drowning in them. It starts with a piano rumble that echoes as if Death himself was playing it. Smyth sings of running out of hope, wanting to be free and “holding the rope“, in a sequence that builds up in layers of synths and drums until it’s towering over you by it’s close.
Life In A Fishbowl grinds away more industrially, rumbling in a style that once again shows them not so much as designers of melodies and hooks, but more as engineers of atmosphere and pressure. At it’s centre it has a wonderful sampled mantra that flips and folds in the background, much like the way Karl Hyde used to do so successfully in the early days of Underworld. Overall it has the sound of a train crash in slow motion, as steamed beats pump behind a weighty synth pulse, before it collapses into the twist of metal scrapes and burning black smoke. It’s Nine Inch Nails for 2012 and not for the faint hearted. Whether this darkness is balanced with lighter touches on their eventual album can only be heard in due course, but thankfully Higher Than The Sun shows us this might be the case. If a Zane Lowe endorsement is anything to go by, then we have to agree that it’s perhaps their lighter uplifting elements that provide most like-ability, but at least they show us that they’re capable of a broader range with this new darker single. A whole album of misery and wallowing in an urban darkness would be tough to stomach, so if they’re not careful they may find that whilst they’re singing of ending it all, the listeners will literally do this, by simply hitting the ‘stop’ button on their iPods.
We’re pretty sure that this duo will always be dripping in darkness, but it’s when they lift us out of it that they’re at their most messianic. This new single sets things up nicely for the re-launched campaign. The truth is, traction is indeed vital – all important you could argue – so leaving lengthy gaps between tunes can potentially waste an opportunity, but with Evil Alien we can twist the story to show off a more positive plan. Perhaps consider the enormous burst of traction that Zane gave them all those months ago as a simple teaser, an early first glimpse of the magic to come. All these months later, we finally see their proper debut single arrive and so all traction starts from now. Their first songs weren’t so much a false start, more of a sneak preview of the awesomeness to come, because thankfully these new tunes are pretty special, so any loss of grip can now be quickly re-applied from here. It’s from this moment onwards that we can judge them, and with this debut single they’ve found their new momentum. (MB)
EVIL ALIEN – HIGHER THAN THE SUN
EVIL ALIEN – OUT OF LOVE
EVIL ALIEN – LIFE IN A FISHBOWL