Representing the often-overlooked music scene of sunny Brighton, YONAKA (not a car-parking chain or an anime character) are a four-piece with a voracious sound. Comprising of Theresa Jarvis (Vocals), George Edwards (Guitar), Alex Crosby (Bass/Keys) and Robert Mason (Drums), the band are quickly building a distinguished discography, made all the more noticeable for their amalgamation of genres and their energetic live performances.
Their latest single, ‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya’, is evidence of their growing reputation as an energetic, passionate band. And before I segue into the tune itself, I’d like to note that although this band and the tune may fall under the category of ‘femme rock’, I’ll be reviewing it like it was any other Dad-ish single I receive. Although things might be gradually improving for such bands, women are still notably underrepresented in alternative music genres, so I think isolating bands with female vocalists their own sub-genre is hardly helping. So, after that preface, apologies if this review isn’t as humour-filled as my usual stuff.
Hence, you shan’t see any comparisons to Paramore, Fickle Friends, Pvris, Bang Bang Romeo or The Joy Formidable here. But what you get with YONAKA is a peculiar mixture of music conventions which are usually confined to their respective sub-genres: A heavy introduction alludes to heavier forms of rock. Theresa’s wide-ranging vocals are usually only found in more mainstream music, refraining from falling into two archetypes of female vocalists, neither offering a softer, restricted voice, nor a gutsy parade of outright screaming. The tone of the song is suitably heavy, so you can certainly get your fill of headbanging in, but it isn’t overtly distorted – please refrain from comparing them to their fellow Brighton musicians and notoriously distorted drum and bass representatives, Royal Blood.
While not aggressive, the song certainly has an attitude, as emphasised by the affirmed delivery of certain lyrics in the verses. The vocal contrast within the chorus is one such example; the first half showcasing an objectively excellent delivery and range, whereas the latter half is almost dismissive and punk-like in comparison, with the song’s title being almost spat out with regret. But thankfully, there’s no aggressive palm-muting of open strings here, as it seems George employs an appropriate presence of his instrument. It’s nice when guitarists don’t fetishize their fuzz pedals.
These conventions of YONAKA are positioning them as a distinct and unique band, and not just for their voice. By combining elements of pop and rock within their work, (as a previous tune, ‘Run’, has been appropriately labelled as ‘dark pop’), their aptitude within a variety of sub-genres ensures that the band offer few comparisons to groups, and this only becomes more apparent with the release of their heaviest tune yet.
‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya’ could have easily bordered on the inoffensive, fading into the unknown through its simplistic structure. However, thanks to a blistering vocal array housed within a coherent, well-produced, and most importantly heavy track, ‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya’ stands out as an example of YONAKA’s proficiency when it comes to breaking down genre boundaries.
If you’d like to do yourself some slight neck damage by seeing these lot live, then equip your best hipster-rock sims-esque outfit, and get over to Citadel 2017 in London Town, Truck Festival in Steventon or Standon Calling. Get on their Facebook and Twitter and see how their menacing riffs and dark-pop tunes grow.