White Belt Yellow Tag
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White Belt Yellow Tag


Band Alternative Rock


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"Rory Carroll is in love with one of 2010's breakthrough acts White Belt Yellow Tag..."

White Belt Yellow Tag, Album Reviews | Released 22 March 10 on Distiller | By Rory Carroll

White Belt Yellow Tag

“It’s here! It’s finally here!” was the very audible cry from Artrocker’s normally sedate office on one cold February evening. We say ‘finally’ because White Belt Yellow Tag, like the gigantic musical teases they are, has been drip-feeding us singles for the past year without the faintest sniff of an album. Each one has been pure musical dynamite that has left us longing for more, but nothing ever came. Until now.
When the meteoric rise of fellow noise merchants, The Big Pink, is taken into account, it’s a wonder WBYT has not been forced to fire out an album sooner. There are shades on Methods that rival and, on many occasions, surpass anything produced by the aforementioned London duo – which is no mean feat, we’re sure you’ll agree.
But WBYT also has diversity on their side - a tremendous boon in the modern musical age. For all of the wall of sound influences evident on tracks like ‘We All Have Sound’ and the brilliant ‘Remains’, there are more subtle and intricate shades demonstrated on ‘Where Echoes Land…’ that leave this bold LP feeling perfectly balanced and endlessly listenable.
Methods is a masterful debut and we’re prepared to stick our necks out and say WBYT will be one of the great breakthrough acts of 2010 – and they deserve to be. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re bloody ecstatic this has finally been released. - ARTROCKER

"White Belt Yellow Tag 'Methods'"

All bands exhibit their musical influences, which are unavoidable. You absorb your surroundings and put that into your art. Nobody would (or, should rather) fault a band for sounding like their favorite artists. Being completely original is next to impossible these days (but not totally) as the focus on substance seems to have shifted to technology; and what an artist can do to the sound in order to give themselves an authentic stamp. That can work, if the raw talent, the raw drive, is there. Unfortunately more and more bands seem to be relying on the sounds of their influences combined with new technologies and the results can turn out soulless. If the soulless junk tops the charts however, or sells a hot new car, well, the record labels have no problem promoting and marketing junk. It is a business after all. One of the worst things of late has been the overuse of the word "vintage" with regard to rock bands. I mean; are we talking about wine or music?

Every now and then however, amongst the stack of demos, EPs, and LPs, an album will shine through in a way that reminds you of the reasons why you got into music in the first place. For me, there are plenty of reasons, but one of them is the connection I feel to the music; the lyrics, the melody, the way the sounds makes me feel, as if the artist is singing and playing what's in my brain (or, what needs to be playing through my brain at the moment). White Belt Yellow Tag's Methods is one of those records. This band does not sound like they are making music for the licensing or for MTV. They sound like they make music because they have no other choice, and that's a band I want to know.

White Belt Yellow Tag sound like the bands of my youth (early U2 comes to mind first and foremost, when they were truly great). Their music is emotive and driving. The choruses soar, with either pain or pleasure. "Remains" soars like Unforgettable Fire, that piercing guitar, the notes floating like an early morning drive after the best party. This music is hopeful, and I think we could all use a bit of that today. They are not afraid to unleash their anguish, seemingly singing either to themselves, or a friend who's lost their way on "You're Not Invincible." This record feels personal, not like something banged out with a Red Bull commercial in mind, getting lost in the limitless, talentless world of Autotune (killing rock-n-roll today, in my opinion, while it has its place and time). They craft wonderful collective melodies on "We All Have Sound"; their voices escalating as the drums pound, stirring all sorts of emotions and memories. This band knows how to go there. As some of my friends say; "they ain't scared." This may sound silly, but imagine if The Breakfast Club was written and filmed today. Well; this would be the soundtrack (apologies to all non-Breakfast Club devotees).

The sound is also surprisingly good. That's another drawback to a lot of this current pop fodder; it lacks all dynamics. Engineers seem to think they have to mix down to mp3 players, just like everybody thought they were making great sounding pop records in the 80's mixing down on Yamaha NS-10ms (but everyone's not Phil Ramone). You can make a killer sounding album, and worry about all that crap later! White Belt Yellow Tag have done so here, and if that's by accident that perfectly fine too. Methods is a dynamic record, even at low listening levels. The voices are detailed, the tonalities captured wonderfully. The guitar and drums have power and presence, making this an excellent album for the reference system as well, or, at least it's sounding great in my room right now. You can Google the band, or check out their MySpace page (yes, it still exists, for music anyway). Check these guys out. These Brits just bring honest pop music to the table. If that's your cup of tea, have a listen! - Postive Feedback


May 2010 - 'Methods' album released in the UK

Mar 2010 - 'Always & Echoes' single released in the UK

Extensive Radioplay on Radio 1, BBC 6Music, XFM and NME Radio

Oct 2009 - 'Remains' single released in the UK

Extensive Radioplay on Radio 1, BBC 6Music, XFM and NME Radio

June 2009 - 'Tell Your Friends' EP released in the UK

Extensive Radioplay on Radio 1, BBC 6Music, XFM and NME Radio

Mar 2009 - 'You're Not Invincible' EP released in the UK

Extensive Radioplay on Radio 1, BBC 6Music, XFM and NME Radio

All releases to date on Distiller Records




Sometimes things take a little time to come together. Then when they finally do, they suddenly propel themselves forwards at light-speed, such is their perfectly locked chemistry. So it is with Justin Lockey and Craig Pilbin.

The pair you see, waited until between them they’d already garnered critic-slaying-acclaim and a mastery of studio wizardry in past incarnations before they finally fell together and decided to make music as a pair – as White Belt Yellow Tag.

And once they did, they recorded ‘Methods’, their debut album in three weeks - no producer, initially no record label, no pluggers or pushers.

“We just didn’t need more than two sets of hands,” laughs Justin. “We just went in and did it ourselves. Most bands want to do the least amount of work as possible. We’re kind of the opposite. We’re massive workaholics and knew exactly what we wanted so the whole process came together really easily.”

Justin, you may be familiar with. From 2002-2007 he plied his trade in yourcodenameis:milo – who lapped up critical acclaim and fervent fandom with their raucous rock racket.

When they wound down, he found himself holed up in Newcastle’s Polestar Studio, where he gained a name as the ‘demo producer du jour’ working on artists such as White Lies, Late Of The Pier and Beth Jeans Houghton. And it was in the studio he came across fellow Yorkshireman Pilbin, at the time just finding his feet as a budding writer and producer.

Craig had some songs. Justin had ideas but most importantly there was an enormous musical click and the pair quickly found they had something pretty special. The song-writing started almost immediately.

“We went down to this studio in Doncaster, a tiny little place,” Justin explains. Nobody knows it’s there. Great room, great sound, great old gear. We instinctively felt there was something musically great going on between us so we went in without much of a plan but with total confidence and conviction.”

Things began to move quickly especially when a certain Zane Lowe, without a radio plugger to bug for official tunes, ripped the demos himself from MySpace to play to the nation on Radio One with no knowledge of either Justin or Craig’s backgrounds.

“That was massively surprising,” Justin admits. “Real validation that what we were doing was right as nobody knew who was attached to the record, where we were doing it, it was all totally anonymous so it was kind of judged without prejudice.”

It was their self-belief and confidence in what they were doing which drove them throughout the hectic 3-week recording sessions. But despite being finished in well under a month they insist there’s absolutely nothing DIY-shoddy about their music. This is unashamedly big, anthemic, booming pop. Moments such as ‘Tell Your Friends (It All Worked Out)’ and ‘News’ are the kind of songs that rescue the phrase ‘arena-sized’ and give it a good shaking.

“Big choruses!” he exclaims. “And I quite like it when people say it’s poppy. I never got away with doing massive poppy records before. A load of bands will tell you they like this band and that band, I could try and name 100 bands you’ve never heard of as reference points. But it’s just big sounding songs – a lot of people shy away from it these days.”

Big indeed – and in no small part due to Craig’s soaring vocals which have already earned comparisons to Mark Hollis from Talk Talk and Ian McCulloch. The recent addition of Tom Bellamy (a multi-instrumentalist formerly of The Cooper Temple Clause) as a full-time member on drums has furthered the bands expansive sound.

Yet the album (mixed by Chris Potter) is rich in depth – part Doves, part Jesus & Mary Chain, part Seamonsters period Wedding Present – with songs such as ‘Remains’ proving the band are equally adept at creating something with a rough, klanging edge.

However it’s the variation - from widescreen moments like the soaring ‘You’re Not Invincible’, the Heaven Up Here period Bunnymen feel of ‘Same Clothes Same Life’ and the introspective ‘Where Echoes Land’ -which really defines what White Belt Yellow Tag are all about. Not just black & white, ‘Methods’ brims with colour, innovation and a far –reaching musical adventurousness. Grand and cinematic it maybe, but between the cracks there is much more.

“The thing is, we’re both good at what we do alone,” Justin concludes. “But when we come together it’s far better. Making this record, it was quite easy – which was such a good sign. We weren’t even in the studio long enough to be contrived about anything. It’s honest – there’s only two of us, the influences haven’t been diluted from more people. It’s two guys who like massive sounding music.”