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Lithe, lovelorn Lancastrians The Heartbreaks are back (not that they ever went away – The Heartbreaks are surely one of 2013’s hardest-working bands), with the first single from their forthcoming sophomore album. ‘¡No Pasarán!’ not only has a Spanish title (which translates as “they shall not pass”), it lovingly mimics the gimmicks of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtracks: castanets, muted trumpet, and even his trademark stabs of percussive bass vocal. Although the phrase “¡No Pasarán!” has a history of political connotations, particularly from its use in the Spanish Civil War, as far as can be discerned, this is still a love song, perhaps with a struggle at its heart. Despite the genre stylings, it still has the essential Heartbreaks songwriting chops, and the earnest vocal couldn’t be mistaken for anyone but Matthew Whitehouse.
The new album doesn’t have a release date, or a title, but there are glimmerings that the band might be gearing up to unveil it – there’s a couple of free shows in London and Manchester coming up next month. Unfortunately they’re both sold out, but no doubt a number of new songs will be showcased there. The PR twaddle frames their new material as a “riposte to the all-conquering Age of Beige the UK currently finds itself in” – quite how a country with such a vibrant music and arts scene (of which The Heartbreaks are a notable, but still small part) can be accused of being beige is quite unfathomable. Perhaps they should get out more. But that over-excitable press release aside, this release moves The Heartbreaks’ story on nicely, and bodes well for the forthcoming album.
You can download the Heartbreaks’ ‘¡No Pasarán!’ for free by signing up for their mailing list in the widget below. You can also stream the song below as well. We’ll keep you posted on the band’s second album release date as soon as it becomes available.
London-based Bear’s Den have had a very busy 2013, and they appear set to finish the year on a strong note. After selling out a UK tour in February, they spent the summer playing festivals, then released their highly acclaimed EP ‘Agape’. On the strength of that effort, they joined Mumford and Sons for the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover tour before supporting Daughter’s early autumn American tour. Now nearing the end of a string of Australian dates, Bear’s Den will release their new EP ‘Without/Within’ next Monday (the 28th of October).
The EP’s first single, ‘Sahara’, is a continuously expansive 6-minute track in which Bear’s Den display a talent for setting a mood before delving into the song’s deeper emotional content. The first 2 and a half minutes of the song are effectively a slow intro, with instruments and voices being added one by one, gradually building dynamic and emotional tension. The lyrics are poignant and incredibly effective in this musical context, especially when Andrew Davie sings, “As the sun beats down hard upon your skin / Yeah, you can feel her now in all that you can go without, within / A flower grows even though nobody asked it to / A bluebird sings and won’t let herself go out of tune”.
Vocal harmonies are added for the first chorus, “All my life, I wasn’t honest enough, and I thought I would never get over you”. Then the pulsing rhythm section kicks in, along with a driving guitar melody, as the tone of the lyrics changes in the second verse from pensive regret to hard-won triumph. That uplifted, anthemic feeling carries through to the end of the song, where the brief coda steals a backward glance at the contemplative introduction.
Davie’s voice is smooth and even throughout the song, never allowing his own singing to take precedence over the lyrics, which are clearly the impetus for the song as a whole. The vocal harmonies provided by band members Joey Haynes (who recently answered editor Mary’s Quickfire Questions here) and Kevin Jones are similarly effective, adding depth to the sound where the lyrics demand it. This emotional sensitivity, along with strong vocal and instrumental melodies, appeals simultaneously to the ear and to the heart. And while the song’s title might slip your mind (there is a lyrical reference in the first verse), its emotional lyrics and expansive sound will certainly stay with you.
‘Without/Within’ is due for release on the 28th of October on Communion Records. Its first single, ‘Sahara’, can be streamed below, along with ‘Writing on the Wall’, which is being included as a free download with all pre-orders of the EP.
It’s almost 3 years since I fell head over arse over heels in love with Brother and Bones’ music. Stumbling aimlessly into a basement in Brighton for the Great Escape 2011, I expected to be subjected to a typically synthed up pile of indie bullshit and was surrounded by nodding A&Rs as we all yearned to discover that next big thing. In this basement though, it was a hotbed of primal energy. Because that is what Brother and Bones are about; immensely powerful rock and blues riffs that have you jumping up and down on the spot like a maniac.
Three years on and there seems to be a shift in the bands tact – towards a new emphasis on lead singer Richard Thomas’ voice. The Cornish five piece haven’t completely ditched the rolling raucous bass lines, but there is a subtle shift towards showcasing the tremendous vocal range of the pint-sized Jack Sparrow lookalike Thomas. New single ‘To Be Alive’ is testament to this understated change of direction. The video is a sepia showcase of a band who obviously are an extremely tight unit, spending every waking minute on the road joshing about. There are even a few shots from their live shows, which I can pray testament to by saying they are best experience live. With double drummers the sound they make is absolutely massive and in Richard Thomas they have a humble and amicable frontman.
The final 30 seconds of To Be Alive are testament to the beautiful soulful rock and roll that Brother and Bones have been producing for the last three years. I can only hope that their new EP will be when the rest of the world realises what a gem in the British music scene that Brother and Bones are.
The ‘To Be Alive’ EP by Brother and Bones will be out on the 4th of November on Last Step Records. Watch the promo video for the title track below.
Jake Bugg’s first album, ‘Jake Bugg’ (reviewed by me here) was hailed as a fresh take on folk-rock; its combination of tenacity and musical sensitivity took listeners by surprise, especially from someone so young. With ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, Bugg upends his punk-folk image with a foray into heavy guitar rock, using brash electric guitar effects and a bolder, harsher singing tone to make a direct statement of musical intent.
In the introduction to the stark black and white video accompanying the song, Bugg talks about trying to avoid gritty subjects in writing his second album, but in the end, he says he was unable to escape those tough influences and experiences. Thematically, the song deals with what Bugg calls “smaller subjects”, witnessing the mugging of a friend and being left by a lover. Musically, ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ is as about as straightforward as they come, electric guitar banging out power chords over pounding drums as Bugg snarls through his fast-paced verses. But the lyrics in the chorus provide an interesting twist. The opening line, “What doesn’t kill you…” never completes the idea with the expected “…makes you stronger.” Instead it crashes right into the next thought, “sometimes you feel you’re up against the world”, then, “this life, it seems, can bring you to your knees”, and, “you try, you bleed, then finally you breathe”. The song ends abruptly on this final lyric, as Bugg’s intention becomes fruition.
The video for ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ features Bugg and his sullen punk demeanor in stereotypical rock fashion: black leather jacket, nothing in the shot with him but his guitar and amplifier. While the forceful, hard-edged electric sound comes as a welcome surprise, Bugg’s singing voice isn’t quite as well suited to heavy rock as it is to his previous alt-folk tunes. His nasal tone, which blended with the warmth of his acoustic sound, comes across as a bit whiny as he competes with the volume of the guitar and drums. But Bugg’s music has never been about purely pretty singing, and his tone here goes right along with the less-than-subtle shift in his style. I might personally prefer his folkier debut album, but this change in direction will keep interest piqued among erstwhile fans in the UK and American fans who are still discovering Jake Bugg.
Jake Bugg’s second album ‘Shangri-La’ will be released on 18 November on Jake Bugg Records / Virgin. First single ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ is available now; the accompanying video can be viewed below. Bugg heads out on an UK tour in mid-October but sorry folks, it’s entirely sold out now, including three huge London Brixton Academy shows.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 23rd September 2013 at 12:00 pm
One of my fave bands ever from New Jersey, The Static Jacks, are gearing up for the release of their second album, ‘In Blue’, which drops on the 30th of September stateside on Old Friends Records. In mid-summer, the band revealed ‘I’ll Come Back’, which we featured as a previous Video of the Moment here. ‘I’ll Come Back’ is a real earworm if there every was one. If I’m entirely honest, that song was so great, I didn’t think there was any way they could top it. I was wrong.
Just a couple days ago when I was on holiday, they revealed another song off ‘In Blue’, called ‘Wallflowers’. A while ago, the band asked their fans on Facebook for a bunch of ’80s specific games and toys for a project they were working on. In the promo video embedded below, you can see why they needed them. It’s an adorable homage to the ’80s cult film Weird Science, but with a twist. I don’t want to tell you more, b/c it’ll ruin it for you.
The more I’ve listened to the song, the more it reminds me of earlier We Are Scientists, and these days, based on ‘Something About You’ and ‘Return the Favor’, I’d say they sound more like We Are Scientists than We Are Scientists sound like We Are Scientists. (Try saying that three times fast.) It also simultaneously sounds like the kind of mega guitar rock with huge riffs that I would listen to in the ’90s by Everclear and Weezer. (God, just saying that out loud makes me feel old…) The guitar riffs and melody of this song will not, I repeat, WILL NOT leave you. Resistance is futile.
And speaking of bands changing sound, the Static Jacks have definitely evolved since their 2011 debut. ‘If You’re Young’ was very much an in your face affair, with singer Ian Devaney’s punky, shouty vocal style perfect for ‘Defend Rosie’ and ‘Into the Sun’ (my personal favourite from the album) and his trademark thumpy, boot stomping on ‘My Parents Lied’ when played live. ‘Wallflowers’ is still sounds huge rock-wise, but it seems like the Static Jacks have refined their aesthetic, and the result is a more mainstream, radio-friendly sound that even us indie snobs will love. I’ll go into more detail in the album review for ‘In Blue’ that I’m planning to do in the coming days, but for now, all you need to know is that ‘Wallflowers’ is a song you definitely want in your music collection now, because it’s going to make the rounds very soon.
The Static Jacks’ second album ‘In Blue’ will be released next Monday the 30th of September in America on Old Friends Records.
A slimmed down Young Rebel Set, reduced a smidge from their previously unwieldy seven to a more manageable five members, rejoins us with their sophomore effort ‘Crocodile’ later this month. For now, we have the first single, ‘The Lash of the Whip’, a rollicking single from the North Eastern lads.
Opening with a bit of a punk feel, the infectious and melodic keyboard slides into a tune both compelling and horrifying. With the sense of someone fighting the urge to repeat a violent or abusive past that can’t quite avoid being replicated, “and every time I beat you down / I know that you’ll come back somehow / that helplessness you cannot live without”, the song roars through its radio-friendly 3 minutes. Rough vocals that retain their distinct Northerness add to the visceral tone. Quick tempoed and driving, even the acoustic version (watch it at the end of this post) retains its sense of urgency.
Traveling between jaunty drum beats, sweet harmony and sombre, disturbing wordsmithing, ‘The Lash of the Whip’ haunts you well after the last note pulls away. Before the album drops on 30 September, catch them at a few dates listed here.
Young Rebel Set’s forthcoming single ‘The Lash of the Whip’ will be out on the 30th of September on Ignition Records. The second album from the Stockton-on-Tees band ‘Crocodile’ will be released on the same day. Grab a free track from the LP, ‘Another Time, Another Place’, from this previous mp3 of the day post in exchange for your email address.