Kick Me Down To Dead Horse - Not From England

Written by Liv Bjorgum | Photos by Lucy Blumenfield

Kick Me Down To Dead Horse, teenage band Not From England’s debut EP, communicates messages from today’s political adolescence. Featuring a garage-rock sound with surf and punk inflections, Kick Me Down To Dead Horse serves as a crash course in twenty-first-century teenagers’ lives, filled with intertwined political and emotional experiences. The EP arrives barely a year after the band originally formed; FIDLAR drummer Max Kuehn produced the EP after recording songs with the vocalists at his home in Highland Park earlier last year. Out June 21st on legendary Orange County indie rock label Burger Records (which bands such as Cherry Glazerr, together PANGEA, and the Garden have all called home), the project stuns with its wisdom and emotion. In Kick Me Down To Dead Horse, Not From England has created the music to play as we barrel towards the future.

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Four teenagers, each only fifteen or sixteen years old, make up Not From England, known for its energetic west coast shows and political lyrics. Band members Leo and Cass, who also play guitar, alternate lead vocals on the EP with bassist DeRon and drummer Beckett. The band’s name, perhaps inspired by one of its vocalists, recalls the “I’m not from England” line in Youth Brigade’s “Sink with California.” The punk band, also formed in Los Angeles, named their 1982 release Someone Got Their Head Kicked In, similar to the title of Not From England’s debut EP.

The EP contains “Stuck Up” and “The System,” both previously released as singles. The band has performed Kick Me Down To Dead Horse’s other four tracks over the past year during their live shows. The four new songs in the EP show the band’s development since their original two singles, and altogether the tracks create a cohesive and profound first project.

Instantly head-bop-inducing, Kick Me Down To Dead Horse begins with “Stuck Up.” The track starts with the line “summer in LA is gorgeous,” setting the scene for the rest of the EP and the world its creators live in. Driven by a thrumming bassline, the song criticizes the often conceited culture of Los Angeles and, sometimes, the scene itself, and how arrogance can prevent progress and push people to act rather than just be.

In “Tax Day,” the band shows a more personal and vulnerable side. The song covers both an interpersonal narrative and an individual reaction to sometimes claustrophobic reality, showcasing the band’s emotional range. The song features Leo’s drawl and instrumentals reminiscent of Surf Curse and the Frights’ first album. A bouncy rhythm imbues “Tax Day” with an upbeat feeling that still leaves space for meaningful lyrics, with the lines “It’s so scary but I understand it/You’re so crazy but I understand it” showing how we try to make sense of turmoil.

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“Ziploc Bag” begins rather eerily with its solitary guitar strumming. The song deceptively transforms references to a Zip-Lock bag into a track about the duality of teenagehood. “Zip-Lock Bag” commands your attention with lines such as “I’m gonna eat all day, sleep until I’m dead/Never gonna get out of here,” where the ‘here’ is up for interpretation.

“Interrupted” symbolizes a release of emotion, containing the chorus “I’m not useless, useless/Get yourself something else.” Filled with reverb, the song tells the tale of autonomy in an environment of pressure. The instruments work particularly well together in the track, almost mimicking a train’s whistle and contributing to the song’s sense of urgency.

The band’s other single, “The System,” calls for more than the criticism of “Stuck Up” while keeping its message of skepticism. The track focuses on dissent and resistance, two key tools for teenagers participating in politics. With “my abolition is under suspicion,” the band experiences a response to their own skepticism or refrain from engaging in a particular system. Later, the drums form the foundation for the bridge of the song and create emphasis on the song’s repetition of “Don’t trust the system/Have a little resistance” as a call to arms.

The at-first-unassuming track “Get a Kick” finishes off Kick Me Down To Dead Horse with a reminder not to relent. The instruments explode with the singer’s scream, highlighting the desperation evoked by the line “I’m trying to survive.” Like a kick in the side, “Get a Kick” instructs listeners to stay aware.

Not From England possesses astounding artistic prowess and maturity, allowing the band to create music by and for the current generation of teenagers. Kick Me Down To Dead Horse introduces a new band sure to challenge and inspire.

Join the band at four live shows in Southern California over the next two weekends! See Not From England on June 21st at Bridgetown DIY in La Puente and on June 22nd at the Wurm Hole in Los Angeles for their EP Release Show with Death Lens and Toro Oro. The following weekend, catch them performing on June 28th at Venice’s Timewarp Records and then wrapping up their shows on the 29th with the Tracks and SNUFF REDUX on the Fox Theater Rooftop in Pomona.

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