The Vaccines

Crowded out by dynamic drum looping auto-tunes vocals, and the hype of pop subculture, guitar music has faded into the background, and drifted out of the mainstream limelight. As of last Monday, the Vaccines have shaped up to bring guitar music back to today’s youth.

Guitar music has turned into something of a myth to today’s youth. They hear stories of famous rock stars revolutionising the way music was plucked out to the public, the way rebellion and anarchy was something of a social norm, and they start to grasp the concept of what sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll actually is. Sadly, it seems that the sound of the amplifier buzz has been dismissed from young minds, to make way for auto-tuned, pampered up teen-dream vocals. Teenagers today are more interested in highlights, hairspray, and Bieber, rather than blood, sweat, and vomit.

Justin Young, and The Vaccines were part of the very select few that took the legend of guitar playing, womanising, anarchist punk rockers idea very much to heart. To them, it was always much more than an afterthought. Combining the pop-indie structure of The Futureheads, and the raw guitar sound of The Sex Pistols, the London-based foursome released their first single ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’, on the 22nd of November last year. Debuting in the UK charts at 157, initial reactions from the mainstream public were sceptical of what The Vaccines could offer popular music. To the band themselves, this didn’t matter. They simply didn’t care. After all, they did exactly what they wanted to do. Despite the low placement in the chart, miles away from the golden top forty zone, at least it meant someone was listening to them. To an independent audience, it was a similar interpretation. It was noisy, unshaped, dirty music. And they loved it. Upon hearing The Vaccines first effort, the minorities came flooding in.

‘Wreckin’ Bar’ brought the mindless guitar smashing violence that the indie few of the British public craved. For once, people didn’t need  hearing aid or to take out a mortgage for noise-cancelling headphones in order to pick up each panned texture and harmonised note in a song. All they had to do was press play, sit back, and just listen to it. The cockney-like scream and baritone of Justin Young’s vocals mimicked the rebellion and attitude of a young Hugh Cornwall, of The Stranglers. It’s not quite punk rock, but it’s punk enough.

In the awakening and aftermath of their first singles success, it wasn’t too long before people got talking about The Vaccines. In the same indie style, the band put out their second single to the public, as rumours and hype of a debut album were passing from ear to ear over the country. On the 11th of January 2011, ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ hit the record shops, and more mainstream ears pricked up to the prospect of a band people actually wanted to hear more of, rather than less. Veering more to pop-rock end of the spectrum, ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ brought up the teenage issue of sexual promiscuity and separation, entwined with the “I don’t care” attitude of punk rock. Young bellows in the opening verse “I can barely look at you, don’t tell me who you lost it to”, mirroring the way complexity of teenage relationships, and the physical side behind the emotional side of youth and romance. Over this, the simple four-chord pop song structure, filled with deep, buzzing bass guitar, and a echoed punchy snare drum. It’s music for the youth, and that’s why it’s adored by the youth. The Vaccines have offered a cure for the dreary, repetitive garbage that young ears are exposed to.

After weeks of hype, tension, and praise, The Vaccines released their debut record ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ last Monday. Evidently, it’s a tricky business. Too many times have bands impressed in the mainstream and indie charts, and too many times have they failed to make an imprint on the mould of modern music, and an overall impact on the target audience. Now, can we finally say that a typically indie band have made it on the big scene without stumping or sub coming to the over-produced pop culture? After being together for less than a year, the impression that The Vaccines have left on the public is shaping up to similar what The Libertines and The Arctic Monkeys did years before. Thankfully, this same impression bleeds and oozes from their debut album.

“I don’t really know how to sing, I just like making a noise. Turns out, people like that too. It just sounds good.” – Justin Young

With their moody, carefree persona and appearance, their public image reflects the way their album is produced. Producer Dan Gretch manages to bring out the raw stringy sound of the guitar and bass within the album, as well as equalising the finishing the clarity of Justin Young’s voice inch perfectly. On tracks like ‘Blow it Up’ the deep throbbing , vascular bass line compliments their tinny and blistering chord line over Young’s rhythmic guitar line, while his sharp lyrics roll effortlessly off is tongue. Keeping with Young’s vocals, Freddie Cowan, younger brother of Tom Cowan of The Horrors, harmonises Young’s vocals beautifully with his trill, and smooth lead guitar work. The songs simplistic brilliance is emphasised by the punk-style unison screaming of the songs title “Blow it up! Blow it up! Blow it up!”.

The Vaccines moody frame is pressed against their short and simplistic song writing, and pulls at the ears of their listeners. They make people want to listen to them, but without shoving it their faces. ‘If You Wanna’ justifies this point. Taking a route edging towards a more dreary, and sombre side, ‘If You Wanna’ takes focus on the loneliness of breaking up with someone, much like on ‘Post Break-Up Sex’. However, they continue to act carefree, even within songs based around such emotional and sensitive subjects. The lyrics of “If you wanna come back it’s alright, it’s alright”, which opposes the assumption of desperation in such a scenario. The Vaccines bring something different to modern day music. A simplistic, raw attitude that shines off of the shoulders of such bands like The Strokes, and more modern, rough grunge bands such as Yuck, and The Drums.

Breaking into more poppy waters, The Vaccines, as a group of young gentlemen, take a strong interest in the opposite gender, much like their teenage indie fan base would do. Last week, iTunes released ‘Norgaard’ as free single of the week, which essentially promoted the band to a larger, mainstream audience. ‘Norgaard’ isn’t dissimilar to the past indie pop workings of Oasis.

A cheeky male overtone is created by Young’s lyrics, singing “You’re a Godsend, do you want a boyfriend?”, which highlight the poppy complexion and element The Vaccines bring into their music. The fast pace clatter of the drum kit is something that can be replicated by every budding and enthusiastic drummer in their garage with just a bass drum, hi hat, and poor skinned snare drum. Young’s vocals stay constantly moody, yet constantly brilliant throughout the record. His phrasing of lyrics, and his tralining melody switches that he swans off with from his words add to the raw talent of The Vaccines as a band. Each member brings a simplistic tether to the band as a whole. Take one of them away, and the bands dynamics drop a octave or so. They’re a four piece, and a four piece they should stay.

It’s been less than a year since the coming together of The Vaccines, and if you step back and look at whet they’ve done, it’s almost unbelievable. They’ve revolutionised a meeting point between the known mainstream culture within out musical society, and independent minorities with their vibrantly colour hair, trimmed chino’s, and move boat shoes. Their debut album, “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” sings and bashes out raw, filthy, bass and guitar ridden pop songs, branching off of the rock tree. It’s taken a while for people to finally point their ear drums in a new and different direction, but it’s happened. You might say that the minorities have finally got one over on the Gaga obsessed mainstream crowds. Overall, the short and rocky album is something of a sensation. I think it’s safe to say, that for the first time since The Libertines, guitar music is cool again.

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I’m now a published writer!

Well, I’ve not been doing this blog, and I know it’s been a while since I really picked anything up on it, which was due to exams and revision, but the impossible has happened. If you look at my latest entry, then you’ll know that I was asked personally by an old work experience colleague of mine, that I was asked to act as a member of press to review the launching of a new record label. Having written my review, I sent it Oli Brand, my contact, and he has got it published on the Newsletter at the college.

Better still, I’ve contacted more people. I’ve written to Thekla, a small music venue in Bristol who have seen the likes of Blood Red Shoes, Yeasayer, Chapel Club, Metronomy and many other amazing acts take to their small stage. I’ve also contacted BBC Wiltshire, and the Wiltshire Music centre, to see if they can do anything for me, as a writer, and for the college, as well as Noiz Noiz Noiz themselves. Anyway, my breakthrough came from The Ocelot, a small music based magazine targeting the South West. They’ve told me that the review is going on their website, and a segment may be going in their magazine.

Well, I’ll get writing again, and see what come of my work 🙂

 

Cheers guys.

 

Next week: The Vaccines review (which I did ages ago but never got ’round to uploading it). And an interview with Noiz Noiz Noiz DJ Soliloquy on the launching of Noiz Noiz Noiz and Electronic Education.

Hi Followers. I was asked to do a review of the launching of a new record label acting as press. Hope you like it guys.

Electronic Education. An imparting of wisdom that youths can finally relate to.

Much, much more than just ‘Noiz Noiz Noiz’, the ingenious adolescents of Wiltshire college spark a new ember in modern day underground dance music, and accomplishing far more than just singeing the sides on the pages of musical influence.

very building is constructed in the same way as the previous one. Blue prints are checked and fondled by executive fingers; e-mailed and faxed between each building company following quote after quote and hideous, numerical quote. It’s all money this, and money that. Only once the foundation holes are dug can the cement be poured in to set. The entire integrity of the structure independently relies on the foundation to be able to stand tall, and tower into the skies. If you step back and take a look at the modern music  scene today, you’ll see the exact same thing. Firmly footed on the ground are the top dogs of music, releasing and selling millions of albums by the day. And sitting below them, in the dark caves of the underground scene, we have the very foundations of music. Earning next to nothing, but doing a much, much more important job.

Minutes before the launch of new underground student label Noiz Noiz Noiz’s album release, ‘Electronic Education’, the student cliental organising the event kept a quite and calm coolness whilst set up continued. Organiser Oli Brand launched himself amongst the students during the set up, making sure that each processing, equalizing and plugged-in component was placed perfectly into each speaker, sound system, and iMac. At first glance, the stage along with the equipment the student DJ’s had access to came off as modest. With a make shift platform, supporting two iMac computers with ableton music producing software, sub-speakers amongst other speakers, and of course, the typical sequences and samplers that turn a simple album launch into a musical DJ and dance symphony. Yes, very modest at the first eye flicker, but it’s not the set-up that makes a set. Each DJ had their own magic hat filled with various musical tricks to wow the audience, and that’s what was important. As for visuals, the diamond screen and projector set-up resembled that of the Gorrilaz. Each kaleidoscope trip-art sample played in the set-up may have reflected the anxious atmosphere amongst those involved. For me, it raised the tension up an octave, and made me ponder as to what lay install.

At approximately quarter past twelve in the afternoon, the butterflies in each students stomach fluttered their last delicate, reciprocating motion, and the lights dimmed to a dreary, club like atmosphere. With the silence of the crowd, and the vibrant shine of the multi-coloured lights, the small, boxy student hall transformed into a dirty, gritty, London-esque underground night club. The electronic wolf in nervy sheep’s clothing was about to be unleashed. For the first set, Koaman, one of the many students who produced their own music for Noiz Noiz Noiz and ‘Electronic Education’. And with him, he brought on bass pumped dance/club carcass, and let the minority crowd pick at it. Koaman’s opening set was a Venn-diagram of Wiley style sub-bass combined with the compressed, punchy beats of Deadmau5 that majestically met in the middle to give Koaman’s opening set, and taste of was to come. Even more so, Koamans fusions and watery textures, on tracks like ‘Pinch’ injected an external dance wave to the audience.

Each set was stretched onto the next set, in a fluent, and continuous motion. DocMartin tiptoed up to the wooden and electronic sound garden, as the launch pressed on through the afternoon. DocMartin presented an element of diversity to what Noiz Noiz Noiz give to the underground scene as an independent record label. Branching off from Koaman’s ventricle exploding dubstep and dance thunderbolt, DocMartin gave a more minimalistic approach, with James Blake and Jamie Woon style darkened beats and sub-bass, creeping inside the ear canal of each head-bobbing member of the audience. The shap and syncopated beats, stirred in with the echoed clap-style snares of Jamie XX buldged and mixed into a more drum and bass style, taking strong influence from Orbital and The Prodigy. In the true nature of Dj-ing, DocMartin’s cutouts and fades circled the acoustics of the venue, mirroring the professionalism of well known DJ’s. The tides of talent were shifting. These ordinary students from the South West of England were starting to look like the real business.

As it would happen, the turning point of the launch came with the presence of Bates, another of the music tech students of Wiltshire College, Chippenham. With his soft fading in of his dancey, chilled out beats eased a calmer atmosphere that fills the echoey hall. However, the tense build up is smashed by the grooved up dance style remix and A cappella samplings of the late Michael Jackson, over a passion pit style harmonised synth line, the big beat friction snapped from Bates’ set, and the limbs of the audience really started to rotate. More and more realism seeped through the speakers, and dripped onto the atmosphere, creating a large sense of zeitgeist in to crowd. New elements were being created from the power of the speakers, and we weren’t in a regional college anymore. We were in a dance euphoria. The launch was growing from the tiniest flicker from your average nighty-nine pence corner shop lighter, to burning friction of a nuclear explosion. Without any delay, each video sequence became more and more intimate with the growing crowd, as did the dazzling lighting, and the sexual tension behind the thumping beats behind Bates’ set.

It was incredible. Up to now, the nerves displayed by the students before performing had all been left behind as shadows, sewn back to the walls from all angles. They ceased to be the pupils of music technology, and decided to electronically educate the remainder of their fellow students. The launch hadn’t even reached it’s illustrious summate yet. While the tension solemnly sizzled within the blood of the audience, Tom Parker, AKA Soliloquy, took to the creaky stage. With effortless precision, Soliloquy faded in his track, boosting in a heavy electro synth loop. Taking maximum influence from Daft Punk, the robotic-style vocal samples and loops counted into the track, before dreary off with a sharp, throaty bass-line. By now, the stale rooted feet of the earlier, had transformed into rampant skats, dynamic dances, and even a few merry jibs made themselves apparent on the modest dance floor. Cutting off from his own work, Soliloquy broke into his own remix of Fat Boy Slim’s ‘Bird of Prey’ in  a bravely big beat effort, again, sending the crowd into rapture, taking influence from the likes of Groove Armada.. As the launch continued, Soliloquy’s set seemed to be a turning point, and left the night to tangent and run into more crevasses of sound.

iMax then picked up the glistening sound icicles that were left un melted following Soliloquy’s Daft Punk-esque set. The variety notch had been turned up a level, giving a taste of Pendulum influenced Drum and Bass. Added with the typical dubstep wobble in a

very Sub-Focus way, iMax gave the audience yet more blisters and calluses on their poor, wrecked feet. With the iris widening scatter of the strobe lighting, and the tranquil swirls of the visuals, the crowd nodded and bounced from wall to wall as iMax cranked up the sub-bass in a garage take on such artists as The Prodigy and Chase and Status, as well as taking pop influence from the later work of Bloc Party.

As iMax pressed took a more house-style, relaxed style at the end of his high tempo set, Uman, another simple student DJ, just like each member on the set list for Noiz Noiz Noiz’s launch of ‘Electronic Education,’ trekked the set down to the corners of dance and back again. More cosmic distortion and static greeted the crowd from the stage, as ear attacking noise infections sprouted from the speakers in a bass filled, dance influenced set. The crowd were mesmerised, I was mesmerised, and even the brains behind the night were becoming mesmerised.

From all the DJ’s, the penultimate set was that of Jade, going by her own name, who seemed to be for more nervous than each of the DJ’s who had taken the blow of the bass before her on stage. As she stepped up to the dual iMac set up, the knot in her stomach tightened, and she took a deep breath, before hitting play, and getting in the correct mind frame. Listening to her set, she sounded gave the rare combination of architectural and artistic texture to her music. Taking simplistic and minimalist influence from artists like Salem, Joy Orbson and Mount Kimbie, sketching a picture of deep, attacking sub bass, compressed, clappy beats and dissonant harmonies to her tracks. As her set pressed on, her bass-lines became more and more attacking to ear, resembling the work of These New Puritans. Jade’s unique and versatile musical ability had been made very apparent to the crowd. In hindsight, she had no need to be nervous. And the crowd mirrored Jades’ use of clappy snare drums, with claps and applause of their own. Her set came to and end with hard hitting sub-bass drops, in a Big Pink meets dubstep take, with a very dark imperative “surrender” placed in as a vocal sample. And surrender, is just what the crowd did.

To close what was an incredible album launch for Noiz Noiz Noiz and ‘Electronic Education’, No Vej dragged himself onto the stage, and penetrated deep into back of the audiences ears. In a more classical and Yolanda Be Cool style, No Vej dropped a high tempo nineteen forties vocal loop with a jazzy feel, over a dance beat to get fingers clicking, and feet moving. The tight nature of the set continued, the track descended into the high octane, adrenaline addicted chasm of dubstep once more. This was greeted with excellent reception from the audience, as the stage was drenched in green light, and a single laser from a member of the audience. An even greater crows reaction was created by the dropping and remix of famous Hip-Hop track ‘Jump’, congregating with a dub-house texture. Conventional to dubstep, the bass-drum build up increased tension before ‘Jump’ crossed over and mixed with Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, setting of a klaxon of irony towards the album name of ‘Electronic Education’. As the set, and the launch came to and end, the visual turned in to a gloomy, Blair Witch Project meets Crystal Castles horror show of two girls in a woodland. A video, created by house architect Jade, who DJ’d previously before No Vej. Accordingly, No Vej blasted out his very own electronic lesson in his closing set, to end the launch in the finest and more vibrant way possible.

What had happened, in the quick-fire space of an hour, is that music had unleashed it’s self from a small college hall, into the mind set of around fifty different people. The fifty dedicated music fans who attended the Noiz Noiz Noiz ‘Electronic Education’ album launch. The bass filled antics had changed something in the small South West town of Chippenham. To the majority, it was an average day. To the minorities, it was something else. Simply, the foundations had been concreted and soundly smashed out various sounds bellow the earths crust, and yet barely vibrated the mainstream surface. The popular label of Ministry of sound remains flowing in money above the ground, while Noiz Noiz Noiz, a new dynasty of sound, rumbled beneath the ground. The risk of a electronic earthquake, is imminent.

Tom Jewitt