The most common mistake made in music by a band or artist is letting go of that independent pride once they sign with a label. Forgotten is the fact that it was that recognizable independent spirit that drove the eyes of label reps and fans to the artist/band in the first place. Often once a contract is signed, some become whatever that label expects of them, or sadly, they become some other type of artist.
This rarely happens in Indie music as it is that leader, rebel, driven persona that we pride ourselves in, so much so, that we keep it with us always as a piece of the music.
One such band that has stayed true to themselves is Kings & Castles – a four-man Indie Rock band hailing from the UK. The line-up consists of: Ross (vocals/guitar), Aiden (lead guitar), Matt (percussions), and Louis on Bass.
Being based in Hampshire, England, the guys recorded their first single "Love is the Word" at Old Blacksmiths Recording Studio in Portsmouth. This production lead to the release of their second single "Nowhere Left to Hide."
With an ever-growing fan base, recognition from BBC Introducing, and selling out their first summer show at Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, Kings & Castles were picked up by an A&R manager at Tonotopic Records.
After signing a record deal, Kings & Castles released their most recent EP entitled “Numbers.”
This is a review of “Numbers,” a five-track collection of songs that ebb along with life’s most interesting facets: Love, Understanding, and Friday Nights!
And while Aiden Redshawn is the newest member of the band, on “Numbers” it is Potter who you will hear on lead guitar.
Let’s storm the castle and see what musical treasures the Kings have, shall we?
We first stumble across the opening track “Friday Nights.” Those electrifying guitars and sizzling percussions greet us with eyes wide open. “Friday Nights” nostalgically reminds anyone listening to the track about those days when the only thing on your mind from Sunday onward was what you will do once Friday arrives finally – the music scene, the plans with friends, the late nights. The lyrics sing “Friday Nights don’t last long, singing out to your favorite song, shout it out / sing it loud, these are the moments that life’s about.” The anthemic hook lends itself as a cheerleader to the entire track. The numerical telling of the week’s events leading up to Friday was a clever writing approach of Kings & Castles as it mentally draws a picture of that angst involved in waiting for Friday Night! Opening the EP with this track is so fitting – the over the top, sing and yell, vibe of the track just takes you to Friday. The longing way that Ross concludes the track sparks the true “aw, why did it go away so fast” feeling of Friday’s escape into Saturday. What would life be like without Friday Nights?
The second track “Love Is the Word” became an instant hit for the band and was picked up by the BBC Introducing, and we see why – a wakeup call introduction that is wonderfully combined with the vocal manipulation that Ross accomplishes on this track all blended with the lyrical message of how love truly is the word that connects every emotion in life. Ross sings “if today is the last day that I see you, I want to say that I love you.” The song refers to love and lost and how saying “I love you” makes all the difference in being loved and KNOWING that you ARE loved. The guitar solo accompanied by sonorous percussions at the two minutes nine second mark easily becomes the heartbeat and blood of this Modern Rock love song.
With conversational lyrics like: I saw you looking over, I saw you staring at me like we should be / can’t waist another moment, my time should be spent with you, like we used to / wish you were mine / that girl, tattoos and looking cool, that girl, she’s the one for me / that girl, smiling with those red lips, she’s the one for me, “That Girl” will quickly jump from adult contemporary to Top-40 and onto Alternative radio with its memorable storyline and perfect hook. Moreover, those bright sustained guitars are so sexy and strong, and this is only accentuated with the frenetic lead that echoes into a muted guitar ensemble at the two minutes and forty-one second mark. The track scales back and then rebuilds itself with layers of instrumentation on to the outro. To be that girl would be a dream of many females.
“Nowhere Left to Hide” is the fourth track on “Numbers” and it has that quiet passion that makes us fall in love with Alternative Rock ballads – it is heard in the longing lead guitar and kissing cymbals that are up front and personally in your face (and ears). Like Matchbox Twenty’s’ methodology in music, Kings & Castles was able to incorporate a message involving the serious emotion of being overwhelmed with easy melodies, laid back leads, and a catchy hook. The command to the beat is amazingly soft but powerful. The track’s outro is nothing short of genius in that it stokes your mind and leaves you quietly.
The EP closes with “Keep on Running from You” a track that includes emotions, emotions, emotions. I love the way this track starts so gently and organically, and then ends in high voltage like a montage of memories. You can hear Ross’ breaths and longing in his vocal execution – an honest and organic technique that shows up rarely in music nowadays. This is a welcoming sound and reveals the heart of the band. Adding to the emotional prowess of the track is the practical narrative of boy meets girl, memories made, and love being misplaced. This is the song that will close out the arenas for the band with fans placing their hands in the air, standing on their feet, and cheering.
In keeping with that lead and never follow mantra, it is obvious that Kings & Castles have the right technique and approach when it comes to Alternative Rock. Much like the Alternative Rock bands we grew to love: Dishwalla, U2, and Foo Fighters (to name several), Kings & Castles make sure to feature not only the message but also the music; and, they never compromise or sacrifice their originality for fame, and that dominance resonates through their writing and you can hear it in their music – they are Kings.
And, what I have noticed in listening to the entire collection of “Numbers” more than once is that Kings & Castles are skilled in making the MUSIC have emotions – the music talks, whispers, and holler; the guitars can cry and become the second vocalist; the drums can kick and tip-toe; and the synths can smack, but also console. The music is a part of the foreground versus it just being a part of the backdrop and it is splendid.
So, it is no mystery that the guys of Kings & Castles can jam! From the tiniest synth, to the loudest riff, to the drumline, to the percussions, and every instrument in between – each bandmember is musically equipped for every turn, twist, mutation, odd pure lyric, scale-back, build-up, and/or texture. Seriously, every dot is connected instrumentally and there is nothing left for chance. And THAT is what makes the MUSIC rebellious and real. And interlocking with that music are the vocals.
Ross’ vocal range, style, and execution is a key element in the success of the band. His is the voice you hear on the entire EP seducing, alerting, and explaining the band’s inner most thoughts. It’s professionally called a “Light Lyric Tenor” and it was no NICE to hear this range in Rock again. This type of voice is not overproduced and that is what I love about it.
Ross’ voice is polished and solid and stands true to being himself. His passionate realness and rawness salutes the music and lyrics that deal with real-life things that people connect with. He is pouring out his soul into the music and the songs crafted for Kings and Castles are strong enough to allow it and follow suit. It is what will keep the band’s music enlightened for years to come.
It is that heart, soul, honesty, and reality that easily sets Kings & Castles notches above their competitors.
“Numbers” is set to achieve heavy rotation in 2018 and beyond. Kings & Castles have plenty to say and breathtaking ways in letting the listening audience hear what they have to say – believe me, our ears will stay engaged with this band.
To keep up with the Kings, go to www.kingsandcastlesmusic.com and make sure to check out all their social platforms and events.