Friday, 11 January 2013

2013: The Year of Peace

It's been a long time coming. At times it looked like it would never arrive. It seemed like it didn't matter how much it was desired, by how ever many people, we were all going to simply put up with it. However, the time seems to have come. At last, 2013 seems like the year we finally get Peace.
Forming in late 2011, one EP, two singles and many self-curated club nights later Peace are on course to be Birmingham's most substantial musical offering since the New Romantic days of Duran Duran and the Paranoid nights of Black Sabbath. Psychedelic guitar lines, catchy pop choruses and not sounding dissimilar to pop-mentors 'Mystery Jets' have helped this band remain both cool and, increasingly, critically successful. Bands have often found it hard to tread the thin line between being seen as 'selling out' and actually being able to afford lunch, but, so far, Peace have been managing to walk down this line with little confrontation.
It's hard being a 'cool' band these days. With the increased relevance of social media in entertainment, Twitter, Tumblr, the NME and, the ultimate authority on music these days, Fearne Cotton, are all ready to build you up and then, not so much knock you down but just become disinterested, leaving you like one of those uninhabited Spanish villas that seemed a great idea five years ago but no one wants to live in any more. Mediterranean metaphors aside, it's hard on your own; you need a 'scene'.
Enter 'B-Town'. Not, in fact, Birmingham's answer to, 'O-Town', MTV's less successful answer to N-SYNC, but the burgeoning music scene in Birmingham. Unfairly maligned for the past few years, B-Town is hoping to shake off the social shackles of Birmingham being often famous for little more than the Spaghetti Junction, Chris Tarrant and an accent that can make some locals sound more unfortunate than something very unfortunate, and help transform the West Midlands into a cultural metropolis. Sort of.
Peace, who claim their music 'makes you want to shake and makes you want to cry' (presumably both in good ways), are leading an army of Brummie bands all set to receive increased exposure in the coming months. From bands like Swim Deep and Jaws to other bands that don't necessarily harbour watery references, a 'scene' allows multiple bands to be put under the spotlight at one time, relaxing the strain on individual bands, ultimately allowing extra time for bands to develop, consolidate and release music in their own time, without the fear of suddenly becoming irrelevant or, something that is often more frequently fatal to a band, being hyped so hard that a band implodes through a hugely successful single and being cast off as a 'one hit wonder' or producing what is, by the label's inflated predictions, an under selling album.
It is vital to give bands time and space to grow and develop. It is important to remember that bands may not get it right first time; casing point being Blur, who's first album, clearly a rushed attempt at cashing in on current baggy musical trends, was hardly a classic and probably would result in them not be offered a second album these days (and where would we be without Parklife and celebrity cheese?). Music 'scenes' have been crucial in the development of British music. From Madchester to Brit Pop, once Camden now Digbeth, scenes encourage music companies to pay attention to a concentrated selection of bands, either by genre or geography, and with a bit of luck, may well just start to shift the plethora of wholly dispensable pop music roughly served up and force fed to the general public.
So Peace, after signing with Columbia early this year and subsequently making their label place a huge 'WHAT THE FCK BIRMINGHAM' poster in Birmingham, are due to release new single, 'Wraith', officially in January, with the video currently circulating on YouTube. And it's good, very good. With Peace set to do the rounds opening the NME Awards Tour, there's a big chance we could all be seeing a lot more of them in the coming months. Ultimately it's Fearne Cotton's decision how 'cool' they may well turn out to be, but here's hoping that they manage to hold on to their own future and help 'B-Town' help Birmingham produce the pop stars it deserves.
I wish you a very happy and, well, Peaceful New Year.

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