Thursday night last week was yet another unbelievable night at The Horn (St Albans), with live sets from Yonaka and J.W. Paris, two of my favourite bands. I’ve been a huge fan of J.W. Paris since I caught them live last year with The Amazons, and they truly are blinding. The band are a three piece, with lead guitarist Dan and bassist Aaron both taking up lead vocals, backed up by Josh on drums. They’re a raw force of blues infused rock on stage, with grunge and indie elements to their sound, and live they really are one of my favourite bands. The band recently released single Berlin, and played live it’s undeniably good. Set list wise, the band played an unreal set of tracks, including Rapture, Lucille, That’s Why and You’re So Dangerous. Aaron’s bass in Lucille has this crazily gripping quality to it, with a really catchy riff played throughout. Both Dan and Aaron take up vocals, taking it in turns to do lead/ backup on different tracks. Both of their voices have really raw gritty gravely undertones to them, and this hooked the audience from the off. For me, the best track they did was closing track Wanted More, which is an immensely blinding piece of music. It’s got this gripping, mesmerising feel to it, especially through the tortured line ‘I’m sorry I met you, you wanted more. I’m sorry I kept you, I wanted more…’ sung by Aaron. There’s times in the track too when Aaron and Dan both scream the lyrics into the mic at the same time, spitting those lines out, which is blinding. The track builds up and up before crashing down in this dark, hypnotically sensual burst of guitar rock. The drumming from Josh is meticulously skilled too, similar to Ben from Calva Louise, with enough aggression to build up an intense rock sound, but enough meticulous delicacy at the same time to keep that disciplined sense of refinement which is so unique to J.W. Paris. Wanted More features Dan talking into the mic too, in a really dark soft way. The rolling drums and bass line in the background build it up even more. It’s lyrically dark and brooding too- especially through lines such as ‘well we were made for each other, now we’ve fallen apart.’ Featured on my Bands to Watch in 2017 list, I could honestly go on about this band for hours; they’re an immensely unique and exciting burst of raw rock grit, and they just hit you in a special way. You can keep up to date with J.W. Paris via Facebook, and make sure to keep on track of their live dates too.
And then for Yonaka. I last saw the band in March with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Strange Bones, and have been hooked ever since. There’s something really special and unique and exciting about the band, and they seem to be doing everything right musically speaking. So a little bit about the band- the four piece formed at uni in Brighton, and are made up of Theresa, George, Alex and Robert. Me and my mates got to talk to lead vocalist Theresa after the gig, and she was so lovely and genuinely humbled, which just added to the whole gig atmosphere. The thing about Yonaka which makes them so fucking good is the real sense of discipline and control to their music- every lyric and riff has been written to perfection, and the beat you get with their music is incredible. There’s also an undeniable chemistry they all have when the play live, especially between Theresa and George, whereby his guitar matches her carefully tuned vocals perfectly. It’s so easy to dance and mosh to their tracks, and that’s exactly what my mates and I did throughout their set, especially to Ignorance. The band played a variety of unreal tracks, with their ten-track long set including Gods and Lovers, Drongo, Run, Bubblegum, and personal favourite of mine Pride. Theresa’s voice is outstanding as well; she has the ability to sing a whole range of notes, and the power her voice has is unbelievable. As a front woman too her dancing and energy is infectious, made all the more better by the undeniably strong vocal range she possesses. Her flare and style too was on point, and the whole image/ branding behind Yonaka really has been worked to perfection. What I like about Yonaka is the contrast. Her voice is clear and bold, rather than heavy or gritty, yet is paired with this loud brain-explosive guitar. George and Alex play the guitar in a really raucous intense way, which gives the band a more deep and immense sound. The contrast between this aggressive heavy guitar (and the boldness of the drumming) and Theresa’s powerfully abrasive vocal is what makes their sound so immensely heavy and powerful. To see their set in such a small venue too was thrilling, as the dark crowded atmosphere just added to the bold aura the band had on stage. The band group heavy alt rock sounds with post-punk indie elements to give them a wildly explosive rock’n’roll bite, and this is unreal on stage. Last time I saw the band I didn’t take as much notice as I should have done, maybe because they were playing with two hardcore punk bands, but Thursday’s gig is proof that one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK rock scene are Yonaka, one million percent. The band still have a large number of gigs coming up, alongside a series of festival appearances, including sets at Truck and Reading & Leeds; and I honestly can’t recommend seeing the band live highly enough.
Gig rating: ★★★★★
Photo credit: Alex Cabré