Clark Kent’s Rock and Roll Revue #011 Meet The Greasy Slicks/Goodfellas/One Unique Signal
Sub-edited by Kate Shall
What? Where’s The Greasy Slicks I hear you cry? Where is my Goodfellas review? Relax – scroll down past my analysis of One Unique Signal’s album review…if you’re crazy.
Before we discover some blues rock and acoustic Rock and Roll, I’m up for a bit of drone rock. Capricious is the word you’re looking for.
Oh yeah, it is indeed time. Strap yourselves into this sturdy vehicle of words and make sure your helmets are on tight. The journey into the underground is about to begin. Forget your plastic music world obsessed with sales and sensationalized private lives made public, the world of vanilla and beige is no longer our concern, for it is time to delve deep into the warped sonic mangle that is One Unique Signal.
Aether (released today) is the second album from this super group of outsiders and it begins with the buzz and thrash of track one, 'Luna Attractions'. The music is at once abrasive and considered, since no sooner has the harshness erupted from the speakers than we’re greeted by the flange attack played so well by James Messenger (plays in The Telescopes as well). Sonic Youth lover? Play 'Goo' at least three times a year? Then you’ll love this slab of post punk terrain. In fact, it’s impossible to listen to this well-planned cacophony without bopping your head. CLICK HERE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD SINGLE...NOW :D
And there’s more. Here we are a-swerving through the ruined straits of the twisted shantytown landscape that is 'A Beginning'. The bass is full of doom and the guitars circle above the arrangement like vultures awaiting the death of the vocals, which wail on and on, desperately in need of an audience. Just as you consider their lonesome demise, something happens. Other voices. These accompanying humans begin to add to the tonal horror movie imagery, chanting in a way reminiscent of the pit scene in Nolan’s last Batman flick. There is one criticism of drone rock; that it can lead to an ill-coordinated sludge, that one tune is just like the next. Not here. 'A Beginning' may have been a longer tune once but here there is a keen gardener at work, the group acting as the hive-mind we wish all ensembles to be; One Unique Signal carefully preens the wreckage of sound into a wonderful piece of art. This track is singular and in my opinion well worth the discovery by fans new and old. This composition isn't lazy. No free for all squall here my gypsies.
I remember 'The Underside' from the live show. Fantastic drumming from Daniel Davies and the vox which were sadly lost are audible enough here to make their desired impression. Bandleader Nick Keech likes the vocals submerged, perhaps too much for my liking when they're live. Here the balance is perfect. When his wild solo kicks in at 3:56, 'The Underside' threatens to capsize into an unlistenable noisefest.
This able balancing act was definitely the set piece on my first listen and it is still as fresh sounding as my initial burst into this under-layer of noise rock. I’m not a little proud of myself for inquiring about the name of this track at the gig.
'Amplitude' is funeral-march time, the council estate grey surrounding the church-bound mourners. The wonderful thing about instrumental post punk is that it invites you, much like an impressionist's movie, to layer the sound with pictures and themes: there is no vocalist ‘getting in the way’, and when singing does occur, the notes are atonal bordering on murmuring. There is nothing quite as intrusive or should I say dictating like, for example, 'Raised' from 2009 release Tribe Castle and Nation. If you like your singers of the Sisters of Mercy/Interpol school of thought, go check out that album NOW.
Aether’s track five - 'Seed' should be relabeled Speed. We’re galloping here, the guitars going through a multitude of sweeping FX is inspired, and complements the beats well. The vocals add atmosphere to the, erm, atmosphere. Actually the vocals are a little superfluous, but then without vocals tunes can become a little distanced from those pesky emotions we want reflected or commented upon in music, right? This is another tune I remember from the gig and its swirling distortion is mixed well but it’s ALL about the bass here. Should I survive any imminent nuclear world consuming disaster, should I find myself dodging from town to town in some old jalopy, constantly vigilant for food and petrol, this is the tune I’ll have on the CD player. Man, James Beal’s lolloping bass deserves a special credit on the gloomy looking gatefold sleeve.
'Failure (Stained Light)' carries on the tradition of rolling drums and ponderous thematic construction. Perhaps at this point I would appreciate ideas that benefit from substantial breaks? Otherwise what was once magnificent, miasmic and mountainous might become – gulp – expected, and thus ineffectual? I guess the constraints/conventions of genre might be an algorithm at work here, and I should just be thankful that so far I’m finding the listening and thus the reviewing aspect of my journey fascinating.
'One Three Five' comes across as derivative…in the beginning. Then a slight explosion of that slip-sliding Thurston Moore guitar again…and then…breaks…lots of stop start breaks…
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. And then the music ends.
'A Ribbon Snake' is O.K., but I can’t help but feel that 'One Three Five' was a set up for a much more deserved song. Much like 'Interlude' before 'Hysteria' on Muse’s Absolution, I was expecting greatness akin to Aether’s 'Luna Attractions'. Perhaps this is the album's grower? I might just be raving about this piece in the future and denouncing that I ever found it inconsequential filler.
Thankfully, 'Celebrations and Attractions' is great. It segues nicely from 'A Ribbon Snake', coloured as it is with the same mood, but is full of latent shoegaze shuffling from the rhythm section. My Bloody Valentine, but with clearer, better production. It has all of its ambiguous emotion intact. The dread that the occasional piano brings adds quite a depth to the texture. Music for self-obsessed suicides to drown in – more loss them. Staying alive means hearing how this L.P ends…
Title track time: 'Aether' is the soundtrack to a Celtic sacrifice occurring in some basement in the capital. The beats are tribal. The guitars fixated psychotically upon the one droning chord. The vocals do a lot of the work here. Something about drinking the fire water? Something about the fire in your belly? I love how the clearest words are reserved for the end of this album, because now my mind wants to make sense of all this chaos. I want to find a solution to a puzzle that has been presented to me. Maybe Aether’s growing tempestuous nature is as I said earlier, a receptive device that actively encourages keen minds to project their own subconscious experience upon it? A healthy musical pursuit in these times, where so many people want to be understood, so so very badly. And there are those bands who mistake complete and utter noise for novel communication.
One Unique Signal should be proud of Aether. It is a self-aware collection of both life affirming and death acknowledging music. Each track requiring an intellectual investment whilst remaining sensual enough for more laconic listening sensibilities. My bias might elicit more use of vocals and yet I must handle this offering on its own terms: This is a thought provoking and exciting addition to the subterranean world of instrumental Rock n Noise.
I give Aether 3 out of 4 stars :D
Oh, and here’s a definition of the album title. Perhaps we weren’t going underground at all? Perhaps we were being invited on an adventure to some unknown stratosphere? I’ll ask Nick Keech and the others about this when I interview them…
In Greek mythology, Aether or Aither (Æthere, Ancient Greek: Αἰθήρ, pronounced [ajtʰɛ̌ːr]) is one of the primordial deities, the first-born elementals. Aether is the personification of the upper air.
That’s it folks! Time for the inevitable return back up (or is that down? This could be space! No up or down there Gypsies) through the beige X Factor obsessed world on my continuing mission to discover another intriguing musical pothole. May I find one soon and may you have the time and curiosity to follow me down the rabbit hole of mixed metaphors one more time.
The album is released through Genepool Records/Universal and I'm reliably informed that you can trust the usual online suspects to have it. iTunes is your best bet.
One Unique Signal are:
James Beal - Bass Dan Davis - Drums Byron Jackson - Guitars/Vox Nick Keech - Guitars James Messenger - Guitars
October 16th 2013
The Rhythm Factory
Aldgate East (London)
I recently had the pleasure of walking into a room of people eating Thai food and shouting out, 'Come! Come check out Rock n Roll...for free!' Relax, I haven't finally lost it - it was my job as guest compere to rile potential rock and rollers into finishing their hot meals and head to the back of The Rhythm Factory. What happens back there? Let Them Eat Gak of course! A night usually hosted by the awesome Spoon (I know your real name man! Relax, I'll tell no one...for a fee). So, that band I was hyping are called The Greasy Slicks. Check out their music HERE and then hey, have a read about what their drummer has to say about their wonderful live show.
Points raised: band dynamics, socializing at gigs, and the pros and cons of having a ‘scene’...
Hey dude, I think it would be easiest if just one of us took responsibility for answering your questions, to avoid confusion and conflicting responses, and I've been nominated! Let me know when you wanna get started.
How about now? Let me start off by thanking you for the interview for us here at The Street Gypsies!
Cool man, no worries.
How long have you guys been going for?
Happy to be involved!
We've been a band officially since the start of 2012, but had been jamming the blues together for maybe a couple of months prior to that when we met at college.
Do you guys spend a lot of time together? The stagecraft and the music itself is unbelievably tight.
Thanks dude, we rehearse pretty religiously as it's our aim to ensure our live show is impressive - we try to make certain that the set flows from one tune to the next so it's more of a 'show' or 'performance' than just a band playing some songs. The ensemble figures and stops have almost become a trademark part of our sound. Aside from playing together we're all really good mates and spend a lot of time together hanging out listening to similar music.
Not many fledgling Rock bands appreciate quietude. You guys revel on taking us through a narrative. Thank you!
A good show is all about dynamics.
I wanna ask you about last night's line up. How do you feel about meeting other bands? It seems like there are bands that hang out together afterwards with other bands, and others who just piss off home. What's your angle on this?
I guess it really depends on the gig, though I think everyone has a much better time once they've settled in and got to know everyone a bit. Last night at the Rhythm Factory was a perfect example. Two of the bands had come from outside of the UK (Lithuania and Czech Republic), and from experience of gigging abroad, it's always a pleasure to chat to the 'locals', not only for fun (which the Lithuanians most certainly were!!), but also because there's the possibility of organizing gig swaps which can help build your fan base outside of your hometown. I'll admit that there's the odd gig that you need to scoot away from early due to prior engagements, which is to be understood if you're a band also trying to hold down full time jobs, but we're definitely advocates of sticking around to chat with other bands and punters. I believe an important (and often overlooked) part of 'making it' as a band is about being nice guys.
'Running' by The Greasy Slicks
Penultimate question: Any thoughts on 'scene building'? Do you wish to be affiliated with a part of London, or do you consider yourselves musical nomads?
I guess it's nice to be a part of something (perhaps a 'rock & roll revolution' akin to that of the 60s and 70s) but I wouldn't like to feel like we've been pigeon-holed into a specific scene. We'd prefer to be thought of as doing something a little different, but at the same time don't want our influences to be lost on the average listener. As far as gigging in London is concerned, we don't want to get wrapped up in the circuit playing the same gigs with the same bands, as it doesn't seem to promote progression (and also, we've got some horror stories of nightmare promoters at abysmal venues that we'd rather steer clear of...), but that's not to say we don't love gigging in town and returning to some of our favourite stages. We've had our fair share of gigs around the country, and it's definitely done us some favours, though I think we'd still refer to ourselves as a London band.
Interesting answer, as most bands would jump at the chance to belong to a scene as it's a) easier to promote an event with others having your back and b) scenes come out of a shared worldview, so you don't feel so alone in a music world that continues to value sales and controversy over cultural reflection via music.
Final question: Where can we find you guys play next, and do you have any material being released soon?
Good point man, and I agree with you on a certain level. At the end of the day we write music that we love to play and if people don't like it, it won't change much - we will never cater to what we think people want to hear. Hopefully that will be appealing enough to music lovers around the world!
We're playing at Proud in Camden on the 2nd November and have some non-London dates in the weeks following that. We recently released an 'unofficial' EP in the form of a free download (or free CDs at gigs), and we're currently preparing to release our official debut EP, Into The Night, before the end of the year, check out our website/Facebook/Twitter for up to date details! Additionally, there'll be a couple of visual and audio treats in the coming months, including a cover of a very popular blues number... Stay tuned!
Will do! Keep playing that wild music! You guys have a mad psychic bond that is a beauty to watch!
Thanks so much, John, we really appreciate it!
Nice one! 'Till next time, bye
The Greasy Slicks are:
Jack Kendrew - Guitar/Vocals
Nathan Rasdall - Bass
Rian O'Grady - Drums
Obviously the 2nd of November has passed before this interview was released but hey, November 15th at the Hope and Anchor people? You game? You should be. The Greasy Slicks are fantastic and hey, if you already have plans for 15th November, put December 20th in your diary now. The Enterprise is the London venue and The Greasy Slicks are your musical shamans. YEAH!
Right, time to check out another band that caught my eye that night. It was my pleasure to introduce East London to...
G O O D F E L L A S
Goodfellas played the same night and were unique in that their music isn't heavy but got the crowd dancing anyway. Come eavesdrop on my Facebook conversation thread with Jonny Angel (guitars, vocals) and Jamie Winston (bass, vocals).
Good time music from the heart...
Points raised: English audiences, going acoustic, and what ‘making it’ really means...
Hey there guys! Let me start off by saying that you guys ROCKED Let Them Eat Gak!
Thank you so much! To be frank, all the bands we met in London so far are very good...
How do you find our audiences? Are they more restrained or more into the music? Do they dance as much as they do back home?
From my personal point of view the audiences are similar everywhere we played, but I think outside Czech the people understand what we do better. Not literally just the lyrics, but the music as a whole. English people seem to understand the language of Rock and Roll better.
The Rolling Stones have influenced you guys in a good way. I appreciate the fact that you don't use electric guitars live. Wanna tell me more about that decision?
Yeah, I agree...From my point of view, I really enjoy every time we play in England cause I feel its audience is more on my wave than anywhere else.
We started in the park jammin' with friends on folk melodies like Jack Johnson, G.Love & Special Sauce etc... We wanted to keep it cause this is what our roots are about...
We like the idea of coming anywhere with a song and balls to make a party. It is easy to hang out with an acoustic instrument and spread your love.
Yes. There was no decision of choosing acoustic guitars... the band was always like this so it was very natural...
Besides that, its a big truth that a good song sounds good even played on one acoustic guitar...so why should we complicate it...we like to keep the music true, strong and simple...
Maybe it is a kind of a statement. We would like to show people there is a certain simple way of doing things very naturally and honestly instead of big scenes and crazy production...
Fantastic, although I'm not a fan of Jack Johnson, I'm very happy that he has helped make you guys interview worthy! I appreciate your school of thought regarding guitars. Very effective.
Now tell me more about the idea of 'making it?' Would you be willing to compromise your sound for a bigger audience share for example?
Do you mean live? Or in general?
I'm talking records, live and branding...I'm talking about the world of the commodity encroaching upon the realm of the artistic.
I can imagine having a bigger concert with some guests, but I would never make any compromise in music...what we do...I like it simple, I know it is not perfect, but this is our picture of making music.
To 'make it' means to live a happy life full of music. The possibility of travelling round the world and playing for big crowds... I don't need a big breakthrough in media personally... I believe that it's better to remain true when playing live shows. I believe that compromises would destroy the band's spirit ...
Do you think there are any exceptions to your ethos, or do you think all compromise leads to diluted product?
Any commodity needs a spirit. A story. I believe the acoustic sound is the best start of our story and no compromises are really needed... On the other hand being in a band is always about compromises but it should remain inside the band. And more progress is necessary, so who knows where it will bring us in a few years.
Sometimes you have a young singer with not much to say, but fucking musically gifted. Then I can imagine that it makes sense to make something with his music to be louder, but I generally agree with Jamie. The spirit is the most important thing to keep with you all the time.
Nice. Any future releases planned that you care to mention before we wrap up with one last question?
We have about 30 songs and we will definitely make a new album next year. Very acoustic, very simple with strong melodies. We will sing about life as it is, death, and values, what people still forget about...and girls, what we will never forget about.
Hooray! Keep me informed. Now that last question: Jonny mentioned you're thinking of changing your name? Any ideas you care to share with our readers?
I don't think its wise to share ideas with readers... before we decide.
We definitely have to change the name.
And yeah we will try to keep the word good, cause you know we are good fellas.
I really like the name you have! If you have to change it, make sure it still has the same vibe! Thanks for the interview gentleman! Post a link in this thread that takes people to a performance on Youtube that you're proud of. Cheers!!
Changing the name is a delicate topic in the band... but the most important thing is to keep the vibe for sure.
A brand new video is to be posted soon. We will let you know.
As soon as you send a link I can post your interview. Get on it asap guys. Keep on keeping on! Bye!
Tom Angel - lead vocals Jonny Angel - guitars, vocals Edai - guitars Jamie - bass, vocals Horace Garphunkel - drums, keyboards, guitars, vocals
Let Them Eat Gak is hosted by…
Let Them Eat Gak is on at The Rhythm Factory every Wednesday.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Tongue Like Tank (fantastic guitar work here from Gregory Ser) and the awesome Attitude, who initially feared were going to be too generic for my tastes. They pretty much brought the house down. Sorry for cutting your set short guys, we have licensing laws that we dare not break!
And hey, if you're a fan of last issues St Pierre Snake Invasion, check out my first ever encounter with front man Damien Sayell:
Like that? Good cos dudes, remember way back in 006 I said I was Bristol bound? Well here’s more results of my first festival experience courtesy of BLEEDER magazine. Click the link to BLEEDER to find footage and print of yours truly interviewing bands that have been in this blog recently (St Pierre Snake Invasion and The Hysterical Injury).