People know The Recommender as a ‘Brighton blog‘, associating us with the city in which we live. Although the first time anyone came across our blog was online, our brand is now known in our local city due to us taking The Recommender into the real world, via us hosting gigs, writing for local culture magazines, networking in this city’s vibrant music circles, and even appearing on local radio shows. However, our first home is found on the Internet. It’s not that we want to disassociate with Brighton – those that know this city will tell you that it is one of the finest cultural centres in the UK – but online our voice and our recommendations are not tied to anything geographically specific. Furthermore, with bands using their Internet spaces to begin building their fanbase, the idea of them associating with a particular city is also dissolved. These days, at least initially, we all start out by existing in the public domain by being online first.
Late last year we received an email with just a name of a band and an mp3. No biography, no press release, no images, no description, in fact no words at all, just the song. We liked the song enough to make a note and park it for further investigation. The band duly entered our notorious ‘Recommender Queue’ – a kind of limbo that all bands sit in when we initially discover them as they await further investigation should we ever find the time. IYES were the band, Lighthouse was their song. Only once we returned to investigate them did we then discover they also called Brighton home.
IYES are the duo Josh Christopher and Melisa Soyaslanova, and as they sat there under our geographical noses, still only at the demo stage, they actually managed to gather a significant amount of national media buzz. If you hunt around you will locate articles mentioning them on numerous blogs, including blog bros, YVYYL, Breaking More Waves, YVYNYL, Crack In The Road and The Line Of Best Fit. All are influential, but further coverage has reached the mainstream, with mentions in The Sunday Times and plays on national radio stations too. All this after just two demos.
Was this interest worthwhile? Well, Lighthouse is an exceptional song and earned them comparisons to The XX. Although these associations are most likely useful, we personally don’t particularly get excited by anyone paired with those purveyors of bleak misery. Although we enjoyed The XX’s debut material, the initial hype surrounding them was unbearable at times, as people could never look out of touch saying “I really like The XX“. We’d consider that for a moment, “do you really though?” we’d respond, “do you spend hours of your day wallowing in their miserable minimalism do you?“. It was suspiciously far too easy to follow The XX trend, which tarnished it for us. They were good, but surely too niche for all that mainstream adoration. In fairness, The XX went on to fill large venues and sell stacks of their debut album, but we’re not sure where those fans went to for their second album, disappearing just as suspiciously. Fortunately IYES are much more than The XX.
Lighthouse begins with echoing guitar notes, seemingly played in a vast empty, wide-open space, before Soyaslanova’s seductive vocals arrive. So far, so much The XX. Christopher’s vocals quietly join her words in tandem, further securing The XX’s likeness, but as the song unfolds the similarities begin to evaporate. What frustrated about the The XX was just how relentlessly one-paced and desperately bleak their music can be. It didn’t just have one gear, that gear was neutral. IYES however find momentum. The rhythm in their debut song helps, but it shifts entirely at the one minute mark, bursting into life with a wonderful repeat of the song’s opening mantra. This isn’t bleak, this is warm and rounded. This is a song about love, sung between the boy and the girl, in a tale that storms your heart. By it’s final minute it is crashing ashore in an epic collision of layers. The XX coudln’t be this uplifting if they played to you in an elevator.
Their second demo, Glow, arrived last month and it’s another twisting tale of love, as they shout “you make me glow” in a rousing pop song of pure class. It proves they know how to seamlessly weave a song, winding up crescendo after crescendo, but interspersing it with breaks to bring the listener satisfyingly back up for air. With songs this good it’s no surprise the Internet is working itself into a frenzy; our geographical location meant the speed of our neighbours would never compete. The buzz is genuine though, not only because they might just turn out to be what we all secretly hoped The XX could have been, but because they’re great without comparisons. In this instance, should they go onto the success that their songs certainly promise, what was born online will also be proudly claimed by Brighton as their own. Listen, enjoy, then do us a favour and please go and tell your neighbours. (MB)
IYES – LIGHTHOUSE
IYES – GLOW