Liam chats with Anglo-French indie-rockers Band Of Brothers.
E.P. Review by Jack Gunner
While the first association for some of the term, "Band of Brothers", will be the grimy khaki of the Emmy winning, Spielberg helmed World War II mini-series of 2001, Shakespeare nerds will know it from its original context – the ending of the renowned St Crispin’s Day Speech from the Bards Henry V, as the warrior king with the dismal bowl-cut rallies his soldiers for one final push at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
Opener Blades of Glory is a 90’s-Britpoppy – there’s notes of Albarn to the vocals - anthemic number with a bouncy intro that’s part Holloways, part Levellers which leads into a more subdued verse and a power-house, feel-good, chorus that kicks the EP off in great style.
Bluesy Steeve takes the journey in indie time-travel back a little further, hinged on a subtle, constant bass line interspersed with some Hendrix style guitar riffs and moments of a Clash-esque sound in the chorus, it’s a real indie-disco song, that will undoubtedly form a cornerstone of the boy’s live shows.
September Sun is a very short-and-sweet acoustic number which provides a head-turning change in tone from the other tracks, but that is rarely a bad thing. The lyrics, somewhat sentimental and poetic, might come across as borderline schmaltzy to some, but the simplicity and the repetition of lines such as, ‘long are the winter nights’ manage to hit the right notes, reminiscent even of some of the Frost poems about nature. That’s the last literary reference in this review of a rock album. I swear.
What’s the Game? brings the listener back to speed with an ever-so-slightly Libertines-esque, punk-lite track that, unlike the others on the disc runs on for a bit, allowing the musicianship to breathe a bit – the drums are at their best here, starting with a simple rhythmic build-up before exploding in pop-punk flurries, while Lawrence, (vocals), unveils his inner Billie Joe Armstrong on the rousing, emotive chorus.
Young Wings closes off the disc with a folk-y, summer-y guitar backdrop that shows off another side to the bands tempo – it’s the kind of song that would feel right at home at a summer festival played to an evening daisy chain crowd, and it’s a decent listen and adequate disc-closer even here in rainy Yorkshire, though let down ever so slightly by a bland chorus.
Band of Brothers, like the comrades of their namesake, are old-school in their sound and their vibe, sounding less like a band of the current nerd-rock-fused-with-dance scene that dominates modern indie, and more like a fun, drink-and-dance-along pop-rock act, which carves them out a great space in the market. With a decent range for a five-track that shows talented craftsmanship, good energy and the potential for expansion, both sides of the Channel could do with standing up and taking note of them.
(8.5/10) Jack Gunner
Blunderbuss- noun. An archaic flintlock firearm, most commonly used by gangsters in the near future to execute illegal time travellers. Because in the future, we’re weird.
The other day, I became a proud owner of a shiny new E.P from Stafford based quintet ‘Blunderbuster’. First of all, I shall endeavour to enlighten you about them. Because I’m nice like that.
We’ll look at the members to begin with, because it’s best to know who I’m talking about, when I mention them by name later on, sparing you all the shame of your own ignorance. On the back of their professional looking E.P cover, it shows them leaning up against the wall of a brick building, neatly arranged from left to right for your ease, (also pictured below). Starting at the left, we have Hywel Evans, fiddle-master, followed by Loz Shaw who deals with shouts, mandolin, and bass, with Ben Burns, vocalist, electric guitarist and banjo player next in line. Fourth figure along is Sam Johnson, drummer, cajonist and fellow shouter to Mr. Shaw, and finally on our line-up we cannot forget the other vocalist and acoustic guitarist, Jules Davies. So there we are, a rogue’s gallery of a sort.
The band came together (stop laughing), with a much larger collection of musicians, but as typically happens, life has a way of buggering with things whether you want it to or not, knocking out an accordion and tin whistle and changing a couple of members. This sudden absence of folk-instrument based players is one of the main reasons for their much punkier and heavier sound, which, for your interest, is classified by the band as Celtic Punk, though still retains a number of folk elements.
You now know enough to be considered a novice Blunderbuster enthusiast, which means you can engage in small talk with the more hardcore fans at their gigs and not feel like a complete tit. Congratulations.
Now, we can move onto the E.P, which is great, because I’ve been wanting to talk about it since I put the amusing cultural reference at the top of the article.
I’ll begin by saying how much I enjoyed this E.P. It’s rare that I hear music that makes me want to dance at nine in the morning when I wrote this, however, this band, and their delightful E.P did. I didn’t actually dance, because I actually have some dignity (usually runs out around lunchtime though).
It opens the proceedings with ‘Dani’s House Party’, which introduces itself through the medium of acoustic guitar, building up to add the electric, and the fiddle before bursting into what my head is adamant is called ‘piratey jig music’. It’s a fast paced start up to the whole CD, that I suspect would inspire people to shout along to the words, wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care (they should care, however, because they look like fools), and get obnoxiously drunk (which works as the perfect excuse for not caring about how much of a fool you look, waving your hands around above your head).
'Dani's House Party' is followed by the much softer acoustic and fiddle intro to 'Old Macquarie', joined with equally soft vocals before kicking off into a punkier, faster version of itself. Listeners may be tempted to compare this to something by the Dropkick Murphy's, but I wouldn't, because that would be lazy. Wait a minute… Anyway, you'll probably enjoy this as much as I did for it's masterful fiddle-work and melancholy, yet inspiring sound.
Third song on the E.P, ‘Picked up and Fucked up’, starts acoustic, but rapidly descends into a wonderful upbeat ‘jump-around’ track about women and being really drunk (not exactly a very in-depth lyrical break-down, but I am on a word limit here), with powerful foot-stomping drums and sing-along ‘woah’s for the simple folk who can’t be bothered, or are incapable of remembering the words.
'Kick Arse' or it's full title, according to their Facebook page, 'I Play in a Kick Arse Celtic Punk Rock Band' is a brilliant example of Hywel's fiddling skills, accompanied by shout-along lyrics. Listeners may want to learn how to jig, and down a lot of alcohol at the same time to fully appreciate the experience. I know how to do the second, and I'm sure many of you, dear readers do too. Regrettably, I'm sure there are many out there who can already do both, so we've got a lot of catching up to do.
Finally, and with much sorrow, (which can easily be remedied by simply playing the entire E.P on repeat) we come to the last song ‘The Crucible’. I’m sure it has a specific name, but it starts with military-style drums, and a simple electric guitar melody. It’s a much slower song to start than most of the others, but that’s not a down-side- far from it in fact. Once the vocals get going, it picks up the pace, moving from a gentler opening gambit into a faster rhythm, interspersed with slower parts, and much to my delighted surprise, fiddle-lead breakdowns.
I’m normally a little sceptical of folk-based music, but Blunderbuster has conveyed to me that it does have many admirable qualities, and can be blended masterfully with modern styles. It’s a rare thing these days to find something that opens up musical vistas, but I honestly reckon that people who feel the same was as I did about folk and variants thereof, will be thoroughly inspired to give it a go, thanks to Blunderbuster. Check them out, for shows and such on Facebook.com/Blunderbuster
I suppose that’s all from me this time around blessed readers, but before I go: if you want us to keep reviewing awesome underground bands, (which you do), we’d ask you to show your support by liking our Facebook Page. I promise it’s worth it. Peace out.
Reverend Mickey Kink.