When I arrive at the Lexington, I find the four band members of Laurel Canyons being given instruction. Stand there, arms folded, yes smiling, look mean and moody. It's paparazzi time. The magazine snappers are on site.

The band are from Sheffield which was home about four hours ago. They’ve made the M1 journey from Yorkshire to London as they are supporting the High Hazels for one night only at the Lexington in London. Just in case you're wondering, once the gig has finished around 11 p.m. they will pack up and drive back home.

This is the reality of a band on the road making its tentative steps on the gig circuit.

They’ve just finished a short UK tour with their Northern compatriots the Crookes, which is a Christmas present come early. From Oxford, to Norwich, onto Manchester near to home in Leeds, they’ve had exposure across the country. Social media is chattering, and it says it likes Laurel Canyons. “Yeah, we're really pleased people seem to like us,” says lead singer Jake Cope. These guys don’t do excited. “We took our time putting the EP together ('Now We're Re-Building'). We like the tracks, and it’s great to get good feedback from so many people.”

“How would you describe you sound, as I’ve seen varying descriptions?” I ask in general. Paul Burdett (guitar) and France Lahmar (bass) pick up the question. “Because the EP has diverse tracks, from instrumental to ballads, we are hard to pin down at the moment.” Everyone nods as an agreed consensus. “We are quite happy for others to supply titles. As long as people who come along like our songs, we are good with that.” More nodding.

Be it blogs, social media, music press, those who have seen the band on tour and decided to offer an opinion, only positive comments have been communicated.

I ask what’s next for the new year. Gigs? An album? “Maybe, yes, to all of this options,” says drummer Arv Teeroovengadum. "We want to close off the gigs this year, sit down and decide what’s next. Plan it!” Bloody hell! Sensible as well.

They have an old style polaroid camera close at hand. They tell me at each gig they shoot polaroid photos, then attach them to each EP cover. Making it a one off souvenir for purchases of the EP which have required a re-pressing to match demand. Some are selfie shots, some of the venue or gig. It’s a nice idea, and works well especially when personally signed with a “from and to” scribble by the band.

They tell me the set tonight will consist of tracks from the EP, and a final song I may find interesting. Plot setting, as well...

They open with the aptly named first track from the EP , which is titled 'Introduction'. It’s an instrumental, rich with a middle rock section, duelling guitars and pounding percussion, and is gentle in parts, a rock anthem in others.

Is indie rock the genre for 'Cry Hard, Cry Fast'? Booming cymbals and a driving drum opening come through the Lexington floorboards, the band and audience sharing both the vibration and the intensity. Jake Cope’s vocals, explaining that he he learned to cry hard, cry fast, are quickly swallowed up by guitars riffs which are long and loud. Good stuff.

As I get my head and body ready for another Radiohead type onslaught, Cope begins with a simple one, two chord change. He then kicks into a wonderfully pitched falsetto, and stays there.

This is 'Owe Nothing', a new single taken from the EP. Here we have a very angry song about trust and rejection told, played and executed with restraint - “I told you all my weaknesses/I’m sure it made you feel strong.” Burdett and Lahmer on rhythm and bass guitars keep the tempo just right, anger cap screwed down tightly but it resonates with rage - "I owe you nothing/Don’t be fooled into thinking this about love."

They are thirty seconds into the next song, 'Love in the Wine'. I take a snapshot of the audience, bar staff, security guys. No one is moving, no one is speaking. The only secondary noise is a slight hum from the London traffic.

Cope has gone acapella and muted everyone within earshot. He told me earlier during our interview he sometimes struggles with delivering this song as it personal, very personal.

His parents had split. His Dad had a new wife. His Mum was struggling with the break-up, and started drinking heavily. What did he do? He got up and left.

Light drum stick percussion adds to, not hinders a song of raw intensity and personal exposure.

It’s one of those moments when applause seems akin to an intrusion into someone's grief. The lyrics, composition, vocal delivery, arrangement, all make this an outstanding track.

I’ve given up trying to second guess what Laurel Canyons will come up with next, Which is soon confirmed as a good idea. They step off the stage, leave their instruments to begin 'Led Me Astray' which isn’t on the EP and has four piece harmonies, is acapella with choral overtones. If the Westminster choir would have walked in, it wouldn’t have surprised me.

These guys are different. Put them in a musical genre at your peril. 'Owe Nothing' and 'Love in the Wine' are outstanding tracks which show the potential of Laurel Canyons.

Next year, I’m sure we will hear a great deal more from this musically diverse Sheffield quartet.


Photos by Alexia Arrizabalaga
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