|Beautiful artwork by Josh Molteni- The Harts' Insignia. |
Over the past six, seven years there has been a great rise in English Indie, dum dee dum on the guitar, what I would call 'mate' bands, with their tight skinny's and swept hair- Bloc Party, Razorlight, Artic Monkeys, Athlete, Air Traffic, The Kooks, Pidgeon Detectives, The Fratellis- I could go on for ages. Although I love, genuinely love, those bands, recently I haven't really listened to much of that kind of music as I have found it had merged into a big ball of generic jelly, everyone sounding the same, looking the same, making identical music.
However, in the past year my ears have slowly been pulled back. Last summer in Germany I heard and watched Darwin Deez for the first time, dancing around on stage to Fresh Prince of Bel Air/ Enya re-mixes. They sent me into a bopping frenzy with their quirky melodies and definate beat- fun times. Since then I have stumbled upon some great, new, fresh 'alternative' bands such as a local home band 'Solko', 'Gentlemans Pistol,' the enigmatic 'Blk Jks' and my recent love 'Foals.'
I saw Purple Harts play at The Railway, Winchester January 22nd. Though I've been dragged away from my beloved music scene recently by Uni work, I have been close to my speakers, listening to this group A.LOT.
The Fareham based band is made (as they themselves write) up of Lucas Dee (vocals) Lewis Hemming (Strings & Smiles) Aj Lawrence (Strings & Hair) Jonny Lisle (Slappa' da bass- good reference there..) and Matthew Hiscock (Skins) All of them are very very good musicians- they can not only play their instruments (properly, not pretending to like some bands I've seen) but they exploit them individually to then create a great collaboration, a musical treat.
All of their tracks probably could be described by dancing. When I was watching them, although i was sitting down, I had a great urge to get up and dance- a good sign from any musician to make the listener feel that way inclined.
'Put me in the Picture' has certainly been getting me dancing in the mornings and I fear that the repeat button will soon be broken- its easy to fall in love with and although its initally a simple build up and down of notes, its see-saw melodies hook you (seriously hook your earlobes) especially with the concise drumming and scratchy strumming- kudos to the guitarists. I think it might just be my personal admiration of scratchy scratch guitar but then it altogether has an great energy that reminds me of early Police songs and Maximo Park's 'Postcard of a Painting.' It will get you tapping, humming and remembering.
Adaptations is another favourite of mine, its begining making a snake dance of the rythm and notes. I could imagine this track to easily ripple its way through a venue hall, its continous hook mesmerozing your ears, making you sway in the constant beat. Lucas's lyrics have a real poignancy to me in this one and the following rift plucks at my brain as it plucks at the strings. At one point there's a bit of lyrical mania 'make haste, no time to waste..' with Lucas rolling words off the tongue as easy as fitting a puzzle together. Quickly.
In the set that I saw them play, I couldn't help but hear strong similarities to other bands- obviously these guys have a very distinct style with a leading lyricist juggling between light rock, then reggae beats. Yet, naturally as with anyone you hear, you can sometimes connect other bands to them. I felt at times there were elements of Explosions in the Sky, but with lyrics, definate trails of The Police ( I kept thinking Walking on the Moon, or Bring on the Night) but then Paolo Nutini meets The Streets, a pinch of Fratellis vocals, a smudge of The Clash guitar and a tiny hint of Dexy Midnight runners? But hey, thats just me.
I can't stress how good this band was live. I have to say Matthew on the drums has the potential to go crazy, he made me think of how Taylor Hawkins is playing live. Hats off to the bassist also, Jonny, who at one point in the live set created what I thought was a very intricate bit of guitar playing (apologies, I didn't note down which song it was.)
Every member was playing to an amazing quality. The bands music kneads beats into a dub reggae like mood but still keeping it, as I would call, happy-go-lucky Indie. Their performance just clarified what I've been thinking for a while now- there are a lot of talented, young musicians in England that could be doing a better job than of those in the so called 'charts'.