Tucked up in the North East, the little nugget of cultural force known as Newcastle holds some of the best new musical talent that the UK has to offer. Famed for being the starting points of many renowned artists, including the likes of Brian Johnson and Mark Knopfler, the city’s scene has recently reached national success with the Geordie Bruce Springsteen, Sam Fender. He may be from North Shields, but we’ll happily claim him as our native son. In Fender’s wake, there are a slew of bands ready to take on the music industry and no other act is quite primed for that than the alt-rock quartet, Pave The Jungle.
Formed in 2019 by lead vocalist and guitarist Rachael Whittle, Pave The Jungle have already made quite the impression with early releases, such as the anthemic Jelly and the gut-punching Cookie Cutter. Their overall gig number may be in its infancy, but they have stunned audiences with their aggressive and convicted performances, particularly this attendee at Little Buildings in Newcastle towards the end of February this year. Drawing inspiration from the alt-rock gods’ Queens Of The Stone Age and The Smashing Pumpkins, as well as indie darlings like Foals and The Joy Formidable, Pave The Jungle are a breath of fresh air. A lot of this can be attributed to singer Whittle’s extremely unique vocal delivery; the low drone of impending doom gives the band definition and is further amplified by the onslaught of distortion, fuzz and rhythmic pounding.
This brings us to Pave The Jungle’s most recent release Ants, a track that continues to build upon their already established scorched and blistered sound. What first hits hardest is the stark contrast between the opening, buzzing chords. The second is so jarring that it immediately begs for your attention, while simultaneously snapping you into place; like a rollercoaster returning to a straight track after a swift and brutal corner. Despite the frankly violent chord changes, there is a deceptively pretty and sparse melody playing in the background, which is held together by concrete drums. Once the rumbling vocals ascend from beneath the mix, the song takes on a sparse feel and maintains a danceable quality. From there, it’s a no holds barred assault on the ears; an overwhelming experience of rigid guitar melodies, drums of rolling thunder, grounded bass and lyrics of targeted aggression such as, “Now you’re just an ant; like everyone else”. The middle eight section (approximately the two-minute mark) is a standout; urging you to headbang to distorted words and almost horror-rock instrumentation, before facing a final bout with the chorus.
Chaotic and unforgiving, Ants showcases the best of Pave The Jungle. It is alt-rock all right, but its originality shines through. Certainly not a paint by numbers composition; it has everything you could need to feel at home – comfort in naivety inside.
Listen to Ants here: