Album Review: The Sails - BANG!
Funny how you find new music isn't it...
Sometimes you just hear something and the lyrics resonate or the melody sticks in your mind. The Sails fit into both those categories, but that isn't how I found them. Oh no, the first time I heard the vocal talents of The Sails Michael Gagliano he was kitted out as John Lennon starring in the award-winning musical Let it Be at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham.
Now I've always been fond of Lennon and his music, so anyone that can carry off a believable portrayal is already held high up in my estimations. I don't want to go on too much about this because that would be detracting from the fact that Gagliano is an accomplished singer/songwriter in his own right, and we're here to talk about his band The Sails and the new release BANG! , but it warrants a mention in my book, plus the fact that he has played all over the world as Lennon.
I think it would be fair to say that Gagliano has studied the tragic Beatles front man extensively, both growing up as a fan and to perfect his performance. Does his passion for the Beatles come across in his own music? Read on...
BANG! Best of 2006 to 2020
It is what it says on the label - A compilation of The Sails' "Top 15 Songs" from 2006 to 2020. Nope, The Sails aren't a new band, in fact these tracks are taken from six previous albums. Why hadn't I discovered them before? Who knows, with so much music out there it can be hard to get that break, I mean look at the Beatles...ahem.
To be fair, having said that, The Sails have already reached #1 on Reverbnation for "pop' across the UK (#10 globally) Mojo called them the "UK's best power pop act", Q labeled them as "Magical", Kerrang say they're "Something Special" and The Sunday Times add that they're "Extremely Satisfying" which is very 'Timesy', but I get what they mean. The music, although all original, is without doubt influenced heavily by the sixties, bringing with it a kind of comfortable familiarity. I mean that in a good way, in that it could fit nicely on your radio schedule today and easily please listeners of yesteryear. OK, lets carry on until I come up with something more quote worthy.
So this album then, is a bit of a history lesson before they launch some brand spanking new music this year. Let's have a delve...
The first number is the title track 'BANG! which is gloriously retro. The opening bars remind me of The Monkees 'She Hangs Out', as do some of the vocals for that matter (Hoping I don't offend there. The Monkees were created to rival the Beatles, though I'm pretty sure Lennon and Nesmith were friends) As the track progresses however I could kind of imagine Buddy Holly having sang it too, not to mention the harmonies giving a nod to The Everley Brothers. At 2.38, short perfect pop it may be, but definitely long enough to guarantee you'll have the lyrics 'Bang, Band, Bang goes the sound of my heart' stuck in your head until the end of time.
Second track on the album is The Slow Down. Again a track that reminds me of a combination of others. The beauty of music itself is that the writer gives it meaning, we then hear it and the way we process it and label it can be totally different from the writers intention because our brain puts our own memories to it. As is the case with this one. We start with electric guitars, a vocal comes in which is very Beatleesque progressing into Oasis. I'm sure there's the sounds of a sitar a la George Harrison. The chorus though reminds me somehow of Roy Orbison's Dream Baby, as does the guitar riff. What a brilliant fusion of artists and tracks. I'm probably not doing the track the justice it deserves, but to me, I'm back in my Dad's car as a kid listening to music.
The Man Who Broke In Half wouldn't be out of place as a Bond Theme, in fact it sounds more like a Bond theme than a Bond theme does nowadays. It has all the elements, Moody yet , this dramatic, this track has some of my favourite lyrics on the album.
In My Head This one has a kind of Bee Gees Words feel and melody but with electric guitars and a big 70's glam rock chorus, ending with a 90's Brit pop vibe . Another strong catchy number.
Peter Shilton. How do you weave football references into a track and turn it into a love song? This is how it's done. I have the claim to fame of being blocked by Shilton on Twitter, however, I won't let it deter from the fact that is fantastic track with a great melody. This one very much has a 90's Brit Pop feel, think The La's There She Goes. Another ear worm
Lovebonds is another track with a real Brit Pop vibe. The vocals kind of sound like some lost Beatles recording thats been unearthed, almost acoustic and raw against an electric guitar. Not my favourite track of the album at first, but definltely still a grower.
The Losers - A short Orchestral intro leads into a track that sounds of a whole lot of groups. a mega jam between The Jam, The Who, even Manfred Man and Supergrass, The Sails, like the latter mentioned, do their own thing, similarly I feel their music will remain just as timeless.
Best Day - A truly beautiful sixties inspired track that makes me want a run through a corn field holding hands with a fella as we gaze starry eyed at each other in a Davy Jones dream type sequence on the Monkees. You get the gist. Yeah I can dream. I could also listen to this track over and over. Don't judge me until you've heard it.
Sitting In The Corners - Another grower. Gagliano sounds like so many different vocalists throughout this album. In this one for example it starts sounding much like a Gerry and the Pacemakers track on the verses. As we progress to the chorus however I get a sense of Wings Silly Love Songs.
Chocolate - Starts with that 80's/90's Voice synth effect. Think a-ha's Where I Can Not Hide. I'm sure there are other examples, however the track sticks with the sixties meets Brit Pop sound, though not dissimilar to something you'd hear from The Searchers. Catchy
She Is All That Matters - This one is almost two songs in one. It starts like a bit of twinkly Christmas number, think an upbeat Carpenters. I can hear Lennon and McCartney in the vocals, but then also the style of The Turtles. To top it all off it we have the switch in tempo, finishing a bit like Karma Police from Radiohead. Beautiful track with another catchy chorus non the less.
I'm Only Bleeding - George Harrisons inspiration perhaps comes though on this one. The sound of a Sitar leads into a sixties Indi psychedelic production and a rockier heavier version of The Monkee's - You Told Me, although uncannily also like a speeded up version of Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles. Possibly the same chords in the same order. Catchy.
Liar- Fast paced Brit pop track possibly influenced by The Jam but with that signature The Sails sound.
Yesterday & Today Pt.1 -The Vocal harmonies here are a melting pot of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Byrds. At 1.52 it's the shortest track on the album but really is something quite beautiful. Stick it on repeat.
Beautiful Day - The final track of the album. A gorgeous love song in a style that reminds me very much of Lennons solo work. Whats not to love.
Saying a track reminds you of whatever track from the past isn't a bad thing in the case of this album. We are after all talking about some of the greatest tracks in the history of pop and rock n' roll. Gaglianos lyrics are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. Anything dark or serious feels so much better when accompanied by a layered vocal. Whatever formula they used in the 60's, he's nailed it and sprinkled it with a modern day freshness. It may be old, but it all never gets old.
The Beatles continue to inspire musicians decades later. Had they continued to make music could it have sounded like this? More than likely, we'll never know, but The Sails fill a Fab Four and beyond size hole the world is most definitely in need of right now. The Beatles took rock and roll out of the fifties and re-invented it as rock music in the sixties. The Sails have re-invented it for today.
I often wonder, as in this case, if artists that perhaps earn a living covering other artists songs get fed up of not being recognised for their own talent? I've a feeling Gagliano need not worry about this in 2021. Having heard some of whats coming up from The Sails this year I think he has a lot to be excited about.
Stick this on repeat and thank me later!
The album is due out March 5. Make sure you download or grab your copy of BANG! so you can smugly tell your mates (When you can see them obvs) that you've been listening to The Sails for years, in some ways you have - they just bring all the best bits together.