We recently met up with Derek, founder of the Neon Gold music blog and label, at the recent Great Escape festival. Having just watched a band that he’s fully supported, St Lucia, we put it to him that there is a new genre and we are calling it “Neon Gold pop“. This is because there’s a recognizable style of synth-based music that he is often first to. It’s always scaled up, with lots of pop hooks, middle eights, a stack of energy and a light convivial touch, often fronted by a charismatic singer, although not exclusively, but the artists and songs always blend the alternative with a mass appeal. Consider the likes of Marina & The Diamonds, or Passion Pit, or The Naked & Famous, for the most prominent artists that have appeared from their pages. With today’s recommendation we have yet another synth-based pop group, making music that will bridge the left-field with the mainstream, so who do you think this new band turned to in order to debut their first song? Derek, naturally.
Churches are the Scottish trio, Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry, who seem to be made up like something of a super-group from members of other Scottish bands. We got in touch with Churches this week and they confirmed they were in a variety of bands, including Aereogramme, Unwinding Hours (both involve Cook), Blue Sky Archives (Mayberry) and The Twilight Sad (Doherty). You would imagine this might hint at their sound and also that this new group are something of a side-project, but both assumptions are apparently incorrect. When we put these suggestions to Doherty his response was, “definitely not!”. This is a project they plan to stick with and their initial traction seems to be going well on some of the more prominent blogs, as well appearing on NME.com’s Radar section and BBC Radio via their Introducing shows. All this has come in the last few weeks following their debut song, Lies, which carries with it about as much weight and impact as finding a giant meteor with a dinosaur stamped into it.
Doherty and Cook actually formed the band last October with Mayberry joining up with them about a month or so later. That said, they’ve deliberately had no public presence until just under three weeks ago, when a certain Neon Gold stepped up. The compound pop that the group create may at first seem like another keyboard-led electro pop tune with a female singer, but there’s a refined quality that raises your pulse with this trio. We barely ever give coverage to a band after just one tune, except for those whose opening songs cause a proper collision. Thankfully, Lies is precisely the kind of forceful tune that arrives at full speed, demanding some Recommender attention, plus Doherty informed us that the next available song should arrive in July, as they prepare some live shows, but we ain’t going to wait until then, as this is too good. There’s a witty comment on Neon Gold’s coverage, stating “Fix up! Look Sharp!“, bringing Dizzee Rascal‘s tune to mind, presumably for the opening bang-crash beat style. It’s a hilarious quip, but of a kind that almost ruins the tune for every future listen. It’s perhaps testament to the song that it can survive such a dent. It feels like a proper lead single, all nitro-fuelled and pounding, making it an electronic pop song that shares an attitude with the genre of rock, with Mayberry’s vocals giving it a kind of timelessness.
Perhaps it’s their background in all those other bands, but they’ve absolutely nailed how to pace a song, with power and acceleration, before a middle eight breakdown and a sprint finish. Like all great pop it has an instant appeal and the ability to wake you up. Early work as good as this is a positive sign that this trio make up a lethal combination. Taking lessons learned from any previous bands, plus the essential experiences and music industry connections that they would have no doubt developed, will stand them in a strong position. It will allow their wonderful music to be developed and marketed in precisely the right steps, so it’s no wonder they headed straight for the right blog in Neon Gold. All too often we see new bands emerge with no real plan and zero understanding of how important traction is, or how to obtain it, but something tells us that this group are armed with exactly what’s required to make a success of it. Add that experience to the ability to write awesome, exciting ‘Neon Gold pop’ music and you get a concoction that in time will surely have us all worshipping at their alter. (MB)
CHURCHES – LIES