(Charity!) Album Review/Essay: Three Minute Heroes – #HearMeOut

By on Tuesday, 25th April 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Three Minute Heroes album coverSome argue that there have always been reasons for despair. That times like these are no different than other very difficult days that have come before, so we should just shut up and get on with it. In the face of all this doom and gloom, we need to hold on to the hope that the future leaders of tomorrow will have the open minds and kind hearts to turn things around and do what’s best for this world for the times ahead. In the current society largely unconcerned what happens to its young people, it’s no wonder why they are increasingly feeling marginalised and as if they don’t have a voice. In Britain, this all is coupled with the long-standing tradition of ‘stiff upper lip’, making for an environment of anxiety and emotions, all bottled up and kept behind bedroom doors.

We already know where that can lead to. Tom Chaplin’s debut solo album ‘The Wave’ chronicles how his life spiralled out of control while he tried to keep those emotions contained through drink and drugs. Thankfully, he found strength within himself to find help before it was too late. There’s a reason, too, why North West charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) was created: to reduce the shockingly high suicide rate among young British men who feel they can’t speak up about their pain because of the stigma of mental illness. On this side of the Atlantic, To Write Love on Her Arms was set up to similarly provide support young people with addiction and depression and connect them with the resources they need.

As a former contributor to their publication CALMzine and having struggled with depression myself, I have great empathy for those who are suffering in silence, who feel like no one cares or will want to listen. Further, it pains me greatly that our children, who should be enjoying the most carefree time of their lives, are filled with anxiety and depression. So how do we build an environment where our youth feel safe to express how they are feeling and can do so without feeling vulnerable?

A special place in East Yorkshire have done just that and one better, have also amazingly worked music into the equation. Going strong for over 2 decades, The Warren Youth Project in Hull is empowering young people aged 14 to 25 by supporting them be able to take control of their own lives. The independent, not-for-profit label Warren Records associated with the Project recently released the Three Minute Heroes album ‘#HearMeOut’, borne out of the Project’s partnership with schools in East Yorkshire, is hopefully the first in a long line to come. The album was part funded by The Joe Strummer Foundation and the Headstart Hull Partnership Programme led by Hull City Council.

During Three Minute Heroes’ workshops in this region of England, students were guided and encouraged by mentors to share their feelings through creative, stream-of-consciousness writing exercises. Their words offer an honest, unfiltered peek into the minds and the thoughts that are troubling our youth, and they were turned into lyrics by local bands and singer/songwriters and incorporated into songs. What better way to encourage young people by showing first-hand how creativity through the sharing of emotions can lead to art that can reach and continue to inspire others?

Three Minute Heroes at Withernsea High School with mentor Redeye Feenix
Rapper and mentor Redeye Feenix with students at Withernsea High School
(photo provided courtesy of Three Minute Heroes)

Musically, the LP offers the listener a wide variety of genres. On standout ‘Home’, alt-folk group The Mighty and the Moon tackle physical abuse and foster care, taking on the poignant subject matter with a thoughtful and deft hand. A folky vibe mixes with soul on ‘Paint a New Picture’ by Ruth Scott featuring Kristian Eastwood, conveying the sadness of a child growing up without his mother. Hillbilly Troupe’s ‘Dead Langer’ touches on the plight of the homeless, its catchy Americana rhythm not only propelling the track forward but also making the track memorable. False Advertising’s ‘It’s Been a While’ sums up the youth’s feelings of disconnectedness from society, their fuzz-filled rock the sonic equivalent of banging one’s head on a table in frustration.

The further you go into the album, the more you come to emphathise with what our youth are struggling with in their own heads. The drawn out lyrics in Crooked Weather’s ‘Skeletons’ demonstrate the fight to silence your anxiety with what you intellectually know is the reality. Despite the resoluteness of the lyrics in The Dyr Sister’s ‘See, Hear, Speak’, the words come across as if they are said as mantras, not fully believed by their writer or fully realised. Yet. The handclaps on ‘I Want to Be Human’ by The Quicksilver Kings serve to punctuate the repeated moments that children feel when the adults in their lives aren’t taking them seriously. And there’s so much more on the ‘#HearMeOut’ album to discover.

Young people today face so many obstacles and people telling them “no”, so it’s not surprising they feel unsupported and alone. The ‘#HearMeOut’ album is hopefully just the starting point for the Three Minute Heroes initiative. In raising awareness of mental health among youth and their providing a safe place for young people to voice what’s on their mind, it’s a natural extension of what The Warren Youth Project and Warren Records stand for. Let Three Minute Heroes serve as a fine example not just for in Britain, but for the world what can be achieved in supporting our children and with real, positive results.

8/10

Three Minute Heroes’ ‘#HearMeOut’ album is now available to stream for free on Bandcamp and below. However, we here at TGTF encourage everyone to buy the limited CD at the minimum donation of £10 or more if you can spare it. All proceeds will go towards bringing the #HearMeOut campaign to more young people. You can also directly donate to Three Minute Heroes and The Warren Youth Project through here.

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