Blackbud - From the Sky
The first thing that struck me upon listening to this CD - and something that will undoubtedly be apparent to many a listener - is just how much Blackbud's lead singer Joe Taylor sounds like Jeff Buckley. Since his death, many a male singer (from Matt Bellamy to, confusingly, Coldplay's Chris Martin) have had their vocal talents compared to the blessed range of Buckley. However, listening to this album made me uncomfortable at times due to the almost identical vocal tones Taylor shares with the late great singer - indeed, now and then, it feels like you're listening to him from beyond the grave. The influence of the singer is felt beyond the frontman's vocals, however, with the band's selection of lovelorn epic guitar numbers feeling like songs Buckley may have laid down post-Grace. The Led Zeppelin influence on his work is also felt, as on Days Passing Away which features guitar work that would be suited to stadiums.
Enough about Buckley, though. Let's talk about Radiohead. One listen to lead single Barefoot Dancing, and you wouldn't be wrong to think that it sounds like a lost song from The Bends. Well, the majority of songs here wouldn't sound out of place on that album, such is the way this band have drawn together a set of songs that build slowly and then erupt with huge swooping choruses that seem intent on changing the world, 1:5:8 springing to mind. The aforementioned single Barefoot Dancing was featured on the soundtrack to last year's flop horror movie The Skeleton Key, and the fact that Hollywood has already taken note is significant. This is music tailor-made for the big screen, both cinematic and engulfing, and so Thom Yorke should be thinking about releasing that new Radiohead album soon so as not to lose his throne to these young pretenders.
You may think a band that draws so heavily upon their obvious influences would be creating redundant and stale music. However, this West Country trio are doing something right. Something magnificent, even. This is a fine debut album, and perhaps one of the best you will hear this year, with highlights aplenty. The crashing and ominous guitars of Heartbeat put Editors to shame while the band prove they can pull off the obligatory slowies, the maudlin strings of Switch giving way to redemptive guitars for a glorious big finish. Goodbye Song is countrified guitar pop for lazy days while Alone is a gorgeous ballad that builds and then falls away in such a manner that you want it to last for longer than its three minute duration. Occasionally, the lyrics are uninspiring tosh ("I need my baby/My baby needs me") and, despite the Spanish guitar licks that seemingly come from nowhere on Forever, there's not much eclecticism between tracks. What you do get, though, are eleven solid and, for the most part, romantic songs that will surely capture the heart of any indie-rock fan. Recommended.