Seb Byford (guitar/vocals) and Tom Witts (drums) formed Naked Six while still at school to a backdrop of fog and mist on the North Yorkshire moors. The self-proclaimed grunge/schizoid blues band have been on our rock ‘n’ roll radar for a number of years following gigs with the likes of The Virginmarys and The Temperance Movement. Originally a York based band they recently relocated to Manchester, following the release of their debut EP ‘No Compromise’. They then roped in Tom’s cousin Callum to play bass, and now the three piece band are ready to take on the world with their debut album ‘Lost Art Of Conversation’.
They may be a long way from Seattle and a generation after the Grunge movement, but that same feeling of isolation, working class struggle and small town angst is omnipresent in their sound and high energy live performance.
Naked Six specialise in 2 chord/2 minute blasts of high energy angst, delivered with the passion of newbies who have something to prove and yet the confidence of seasoned pros. A top notch production job courtesy of Thomas Mitchener (Gallows/Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes ) only helps to capture their live energy. Urgent beats, buzzsaw guitars and vocals are spat with the aggro nonchalance of young punks who have something to say. And yeah, Naked Six do have something to say, lyrically they touch on highly topical subjects; our reliance on social media and mental health for starters.
The likes of ‘Song Of The City’, ‘Split’ and ‘Sticky Gum’ are their bread and butter. Coming on like The Vines meets The Virginmarys, this is the sound of a Naked Six gig captured on wax for all to experience. Elsewhere, if you had told me ‘Poison Apple’ was a lost Nirvana outtake, I would’ve tipped my hat in agreement. From the erratic spiky guitars to the spooky Cobain/Grohl style vocal harmonies, its quality stuff.
They take things down for a more 90s art rock, tripped-out vibe with ‘The Change’. Offbeat drums and effect-ridden guitars bring to mind the sonic sound of Perry Farrell’s side project Porno For Pyros, as the band take the listener on a trip to another plane.
Bouncy, distorted bass and jagged guitars introduce first single ‘Gimme Something’, a song that confirms the Foo Fighters meets Royal Blood comparisons I have used in the past. A confident and cocksure sound, and one that’s tried and tested.
While Naked Six promote a grungy, garage rock sound, there are hints that this band has the potential to be so much more when they think outside the box (or garage in this case!). The album is bookended by a couple of surprise tracks that confirm this for me. Album opener ‘21st Century Brawl’ is an atmospheric art piece, coming on like Jane’s Addiction in their prime, as Seb reels off descriptive lyrics, almost spoken word, over an alt rock backdrop of groovy bass and guitar harmonics. In complete contrast the introspective album closer ‘Outside Looking In’ showcases what this band is truly capable of. As they have proven in the past with ‘Broken Fairytale’, Seb Byford has a knack for penning heartfelt balladry as much as he does angst driven rock. The sentiment is real, as he delivers his most fragile, yet strongest vocal of the album over understated piano chords and atmospheric saxophone breaks. A winning combination that only helps accentuate the overall emotion of the song.
With lyrics that deal in social commentary, questioning our attachment to our screens, our actions and motives, and music that harks back to a time when the alternative was mainstream, edgy and downright essential, Naked Six seem to be on to a winner. ‘Lost Art Of Conversation’ is a modern rock record that is exciting, authentic and comes at the perfect time.
Times they are a changing, and while this album was of course written pre-lockdown, I can’t help but think the lost art of conversation is something a great deal of us are re-learning right now due to isolation and social media being our only form of communication.
“This is the dawn of a new age…” announces the singer in the title track. I wonder, did Seb Byford know how true those words would ring just a few months later?
Buy ‘Lost Art Of Conversation’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes