Indie Wednesday : A Gang Called Wonder – Siblings of Us

37390815_993850477463211_8742275497146187776_oIndie? Possibly not but their music is so weird, genre-hopping and changeable that I’m not really sure where it fits in so this is as good a place as any. Most of my postings in this category have been real blasts from the past so far but as these splendid people are currently on tour and they remind me at their most intense of things like The March Violets and James Ray’s Gangwar, that’s excuse enough to post them here.

Industrial strength synth exploring rock territory? A pop band armed with keyboards and a bag of amphetamine? A trio who don’t care about fad, fashion or where genres start or end? I suspect that they are all of the above.

Check out music and tour dates at – Siblings of Us

 

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Gargantua –  Siblings of Us (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

37408986_993850480796544_6311018794349232128_nYou turn your back for a few months and bands go and change their whole sound. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic but whilst there is a radical shift from the crazed alt-disco, warped synth-wave, vibe towards a much more rock driven sound, Siblings of Us approach towards music remains the same. For this is rock music in the same way that their previous endeavours were pop…in that it  is anything but the usual approach. If Who Are We Anymore took synth driven dance pop music hostage, bundled it into the backseat of a car and went joyriding around the midnight streets with the lights off swigging a bottle of absinthe, then Gargantua pretty much does the same for rock music.

Thankfully Siblings of Us are one of those bands where you run out of generic labels, all the best bands do, pop-rock, alt-dance, electronic rock, all seem inadequate in the extreme for this is something much more madly and meticulously put together than those safe terms suggest. Pizza Lisa is what 60’s garage rock would have sounded like if the advent of the affordable synthesiser had happened a decade earlier and where as before Fonzy Armour’s high vocal register suggested a member of The Bee Gee’s having the most musical nervous break down in history, now the power of the music means that he gives any number of metal singers a run for their money. They won’t like that, I can tell you.

Chicago Glass Twins blends the staccato and the soaring and wanders between subtle drops and soaring crescendos that would give a lot of cinematic and symphonic rock bands reason to be jealous and Breed and Company is a manic clubland-metal anthem. And long before you get to A Gang Called Wonder’s perfect finish, its spoken word meets industrial pop meets dance intensity meets punk bombast meets….oh, just throw in your own made up generic descriptions…you realise that there is a brilliant by-product of their musical machinations. By creating heavy songs out of everything that is the very antithesis of cliched rock and by-the-book metal, Siblings of Us show it up for its safe and staid ways. There’s going to be a lot of unhappy people in patched denim jackets wandering around, I can tell you.

Scene and Heard – CCXCIII : Vexx Voxx – Siblings of Us (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

29178222_911232665724993_939782670211088384_nSiblings of Us has always been one of those bands which confuses and bemuses in equal measure in music form. In video form they raise even more questions. How did I miss all of their cameo roles in such blockbuster movies? How come a band so draped in dance beats and synth-pop vibes has such poor dancing skills of their own? When did they sprout an extra member…hang on, that sounds a bit rude.

Anyway, the point is that Siblings of Us is not about pandering to the listener, it is about playing by their own rules. Rules which insist that they take industrial strength synth wave, slightly unhinged falsetto vocals, psychotic pop infectiousness, electronic-rock muscle, retro vibes and futuristic musical predictions, throw them against the wall and see what sticks.

And what sticks is brilliant, in a mad sort of way.  Imagine if The Bee Gees had formed a hardcore band using gear stolen from Depeche Mode! Well, now you don’t have to.

Who Are We Anymore – Siblings of Us (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

21271155_820145798167014_1758449077556205288_nWho indeed. Perhaps the sort of people who wilfully mix warped Bee Gees doing hard-disco with Vangelis-esque cinematic electronica? Maybe they are those sort of people who love the synth-pop of the post-punk period and wish to see it given a new lease of life for a whole new generation of ears. Certainly they are people who are happy to title their latest e.p. with a question and then deliberately leave off the question mark. Nothing good can ever come of that I can tell you.

But Synth Wave, New Wave Retro, Future Synth, call it what you will, might have its roots in the experiments of ex-punks bored with blues-based guitar possibilities who rewired broken keyboards and bent them to their will, but it has had a whole life of its own since then. Affordable equipment, digital developments and home studios have meant that the possibilities for such music are endless and far from looking back at the formative years, Siblings of Us find themselves very much at the front of a musical charge into the harsh halogen light of a new musical day.

Neon Lungs bursts with confidence and muscle, it is anthemic and stadium ready, euphoric and brilliantly dynamic and acts as the perfect centre-piece for this mercurial collection. Opening salvo, Iocaine, not only reveals their love of iconic fantasy films but acts as a great calling card for what is to follow and Saints on Break is a sort of electro-pop-soul number…if electro-pop-soul was made by renegade car plant robots, in the far future using a strange blend of hypnotic industrial grooves and otherworldly vocals.

We The British American seems the closest Siblings come to being in the here and now rather than their usual predilections for predicting the sound of the future or reviving the sound of the past, being more grounded…but it’s all relative and it may be a while before they replace the likes of Beyonce as mainstream club floor fare…more’s the pity.

If you think that Electronic Dance Music has found its level, that maybe it has nowhere left to go, Siblings of Us are your next lesson. I guess that there are a number of bands pushing the electro envelope at the moment, but how many of them are able to juggle disco, electro-rock, future dance, cinematic film score, progressive pop, futuristic Broadway bombast and heady stadium-dance…often in the space of one track. Who could do all of that? Who Indeed.

Fear Me/Love Me – Siblings of Us (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

15349670_675236402657955_3127480135992131606_nI always find the term “80’s music” when used as a label a bit of an odd concept. After all how the hell can a decade also be a genre? Sadly that decade, the one that honed my own musical tastes, has become a bit of a by-word for cheesy, Day-Glo dross and throwaway bubble-gum pop, which is a real shame as it was also an era immense creativity and of the birth of whole new genres, the perfect second chapter to follow the punks year zero.

The band obviously have a deep love of the music of that era and whilst their brand of synth-pop sometimes sails a bit close to the most accessible end of the spectrum I have just described, as always, the devil is in the detail. The slick trappings of the more commercial end of New Romanticism as it merged into the new pop, beats at the music’s heart and very often they are content just to revisit that ground. And why not, they do it so well and tracks such as Sylvia’s Voyage and Dreaming With Monsters could easily be lost recordings by any one of those 80’s stalwarts who went on to rule the roust.

On the other hand songs such as For The Better Worth are as fresh a piece of modern club floor-filler as you could wish for and The Miracle of Cult could almost be The Bee Gees remixed by the newest kid on the alternative dance block. Opening salvo 9 Hours 23 Minutes is nothing less than a cutting edge, headlong euphoric rush into the future of dance music.

Siblings Of Us are a classic example of the cyclical nature of music, able to reference the formative years of synth driven tune-making but rather than sit on their retro laurels, they blend it deftly with the sounds of now, matching the familiarity and reassurances of what has gone before with the excitement and creativity of pushing the generic boundaries forward into an bright, interesting and yet unwritten future.

 

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