After releasing their debut single “Ignorance“, YONAKA immediately entrenched themselves as one of the UK’s most exciting new rock bands. Like Wolf Alice, INHEAVEN, and Black Honey before them, the quartet of Theresa Jarvis (vocals), George Edwards (guitar), Alex Crosby (bass/keys), and Robert Mason (drums) were reviving the lost of art of edgy, seismic indie alternative-rock. Following the release of their second single, “Drongo”, Atlantic Records UK quickly signed them, and they released the Brighton-born outfit’s debut EP, Heavy. The record was everything that defined the band – a socially-charged explosion that was among the year’s best extended players. As a follow-up, the foursome amp up the intensity, anxiety, and urgency with their sophomore EP, Teach Me To Fight.
Teach Me To Fight is a gigantic, anthemic rock record and the TnT of today’s alternative rock scene. Nothing is held back. Instead, YONAKA wage war on our auditory senses with fiery and raging guitar riffs and propulsive rhythms. Jarvis, meanwhile, takes on the establishment and the status quo with powerful lines that are like haymakers. No one is immune to her lyrical weaponry, which when coupled with their booming vocals makes her a front woman in the mould of Karen O.
The EP commences with the supercharged “Fired Up”. Raucous and electrifying, the tune is a mega-anthem. The riffs are big and boisterous, and the rhythms and production boom hard. Jarvis’ vocals, meanwhile, are desperate and urgent, as she challenges allto defend their beliefs and freedoms. She hollers:
“Hand on my heart, I’m down on my knees,
I’m asking you nicely.
I’ll take the blame, I’ll take a bullet,
Will take one for me?”
Despite the hesitant, sizzling start, “Waves” evolves into one mind-blowing and roaring spectacle. Edwards leads the way with his chiming, dissonant guitar. Crosby and Mason are at first the methodical guides, but they then later deliver cathartic, rhythmic bombs. The trio set the tone for Jarvis’ assertive vocals, which scream in the face of anyone who attempts to subdue her or comes at her with a gun. This is a song for the struggle, for those who which to never succumb to the manipulative and abusive power of a partner or a government.
The title track is another ferocious rocker. The duel between Edwards and Crosby that opens the track sets the tone for this anthemic, dark track. The raging power is reminiscent of The Joy Formidable, and Jarvis similarly wails like Rhiannon Bryan, where her voice explodes over the wall of noise. Like the previous tracks, she’s not willing to keep her opinions nor her feelings to herself.
“Let’s make this public,
Let’s take this outside.
Put down your small talk
And teach me to fight.
Let’s make this personal,
Stop wasting my time.
Get out of my way,
I’m sick of being polite.”
On the EP’s finale, “Wish You Were Somebody”, YONAKA get a little darker, a bit heavier, and more personal. As Edwards’ lightning guitar strikes through the dense rhythms, Jarvis reflects back on a relationship and in her own way pities the man who left her for other riches and “greener pastures”. She, however, isn’t grieving, but instead she’s making him remember all his mistakes.
“You could kiss my ass goodbye.
I’m now with some other guy.
No matter what I do, don’t try
You wish you were somebody.”
YONAKA, though, are more than just somebody. They are on the fast-track to being one of the UK’s great young rock bands, and, as we’ve said time and time before, to be the voice of a new generation. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the world finds out, and when they do expect them to lead the way in reviving the bygone days when rock bands sold out the Wembley Stadiums of the world. Their potential is limitless, and TEACH ME TO FIGHT is just further evidence of their rising greatness.
Featured photo Ryan Saradjola.
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