Have a listen to 'Don't Waste My Time'
The Blend – All Departures
Release Date: 26th August 2016
Young British upstarts The Blend bring back some classic British rock sensibilities as well as claiming to be “like The Who”. That’s a pretty tall order there boys, as The Who are nothing short of legendary for a number of reasons. The biggest one of which was revolutionising Rock and Roll in the 60’s. From the get-go, it’s hard to get along with The Blend when they are throwing around statements like they are “the best band in the world” – sure, numerous bands have slung that term around, but they have pretty substantial careers behind them to back that statement up. Nonetheless, we’ll let the songs speak for the band, not their Facebook status’s or Press statements.
It feels that The Blend is claiming to be the greatest band in the UK right now, yet doing nothing original whatsoever. ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ follows a pretty predictable path if you’re familiar with 60’s/70’s hard rock, but it’s worth noting that the level of musicianship is okay. That being said, the drummer is overplaying and the mix on the drums is too loud.
There has to be something said for someone trying to emulate other great drummers, such as Keith Moon – that’s fine, but don’t do it at expense of the song. Instead of focusing on making your own parts the most bombastic part of the song, concentrate on working as a cohesive unit. Fortunately, the drums are a little more interesting to listen to on ‘Cameron’s Motors’ – but on the flip side, the scratch rhythm guitar gets borderline unbearable to listen to after the second chorus.
‘City Sirens’ follows the same musical direction as the previous two songs. The band remains unoriginal yet again as they chop and change between unmemorable segments in the song. The game-changer comes in the form of ‘Mr & Mrs Womble’, the intro has some interesting things going on between all the instruments – finally. The bass melodies combined with the drum rolls, or the vocals taking the forefront of the song at the start of the verse. This is possibly the best the vocalist sound on the entire record, which isn’t saying a great deal.
Title-track, ‘All Departures’, is the stand out track for me, possibly because there are no vocals at all, or because it’s just one big jam for almost four minutes. Things then get forgettable again on ‘Stars and Stripes’ up until the point the harmonised vocals come in. Album closer ‘Dim Bright Blue’ features some nice acoustic guitar work and is, fortunately, the best tone the guitars have had so far on the record.
I feel like there is some great potential for this band. But they need their own identity, not being a shallow imitation of The Who. Lose the unnecessary amount of Mod targets in your logo’s. Stop comparing yourself to musicians like Keith Moon, John Entwistle or Pete Townshend when you can’t hold a torch to these guys. It’s great to acknowledge your influences, but I think the band need to deepen that pool of influences and stretch out of their comfort zone.
This isn’t to discredit The Blend’s musicianship, they are good musicians clearly. But they are wholly unoriginal. There are even 3 other bands with the same name as them, one of them originating from early 1970. And with statements on their Facebook page like “WE ARE THE BEST BAND IN THE WORLD!” or “This video wipes the floor with all the talentless acoustic lovey dovey sh*t that’s constantly on our radios and makes us want to throw up.” you make it very hard to not be overly critical. I just don’t think their attitude or claims are justified as to their current level of success.
‘All Departures’ is a style of rock that has been absent from the mainstream for a while, I think, plus the band clearly have some things to say as evidenced in the video for ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ where they offer a satirical take on some of the problems with today’s society, such as brand influence and the power of technology. But none of this means anything if the songs aren’t great, and these songs aren’t. I think widening the pool of influences in this band would only do them a world of favours moving forward, but who am I to judge? The band seem to be doing quite well so far and stirring up a little controversy will only serve them more views and interaction on social media. But will it make people turn up to their live shows and sell their albums? Time will tell.
For fans of Brit rock, not necessarily The Who
For more of The Blend