Headsticks – Kept In The Dark

If packaging decided best of year choices UK quartet Headsticks will have top honour sealed with new album Kept In The Dark. The surround to its music is simply glorious, easily the best art and presentation seen in many a year by these hungry eyes and embracing music just as mouth-watering it all makes for one irresistibly thrilling offering.

Checking out their previous album, Feather and Flame, three years back we suggested that Headsticks had confirmed themselves “as one of Britain’s most irresistible and essential punk ‘n’ roll adventures.” Well, while assuring you that nothing has changed, the band has revealed that previous success was just the beginning of bigger things; bold triumphs now presented by its successor. Parading their folk ‘n’ punk instinctive sound in all its glory, the new release is Headsticks at their boldest and most boisterous but equally with its richer kaleidoscope of styles and flavours it has equally nurtured its most defined character and individual adventure yet for the biggest pleasure.

Emerging late 2012, Stoke on Trent hailing Headsticks had built and earned a potent reputation through a rousing live presence and acclaimed debut album Muster in 2014; success only accelerated by the following Feather and Flame. That growth will only be escalated again by Kept In The Dark; the band’s finest moment to date as their socially and politically charged songs relish another striking spurt in diversity, imagination, and dramatic adventure.

The new release opens its bumper load of songs, with no filler in sight, with When. From its first breath, the punk ferocity and infectious incursion of the track gripped ears with vocalist Andrew Tranter masterfully steering the rousing trespass. Devious hooks and manipulative rhythms do their persuasive deeds with relish within a song which has echoes of bands such as The Vibrators and Angelic Upstarts to it.

The impressive start is immediately matched by I Love You and its ska natured saunter. As mentioned variety in the Headsticks sound is enjoyably no new thing but it is certainly at its most eager, bold, and fluidly unpredictable within Kept In The Dark. With a Ruts-esque lilt to its stroll, the song had little trouble in getting under the skin and luring participation from body and voice before Peace Or War erupts in a roar of punk ‘n’ roll carousing where the forceful but virulent swings of drummer Tom Carter collude hungrily with the brooding tones of Nick Bayes’ bass as the wiry melodic tendrils of guitar from Steven Dunn align with his rapacious riffs.

The following pair of Cynical and Mushrooms reinforce the album’s instant adventure and prowess; the first a seducing of acoustic punk with irritation fuelling its breath and its successor a mischievous ska pop swinging incitement easily leading hips and vocal chords into action. Both easily got under the skin but still are eclipsed by the superb Mr ‘I’m Alright Jack’. Bred on classic fifties rock ‘n roll, the track is a lure of swerving rhythmic hips and melody enriched rockabilly chords around riveting vocal incitement.

Through the rock driven reflection of My Own War, an easily relatable declaration, and It’s a Matter of Time with its equally melancholic intimacy and Americana twang, enjoyment only built while the hard rock flavouring of Smoke and Mirrors proceeded to add further diversity to Kept In The Dark.

Both aspects continued to blossom as classic metal and street poetry respectively shape the temptation and strength of What If They’re Right and Out of Fashion before Family Tree pounced on social and political unfairness and exploitation upon a reggae borne canter and All of the Trees captivated with its acoustic/punk rock dexterity.

The final trio of The Song For Songs Sake, When the Sun Turns Black, and Baboon Shepherd close the album out as masterfully as it began. The first is a contagion of folk rock irresistible to ear and body, the second a compelling apocalyptic rumble of voice and insinuation; each as magnetic as the other leaving the third to sign off the album with its eleven minute dub infused homage to the career and life of South African footballer Sam Shabangu and the aligning times and experiences of Tranter. It is a track which brings grin and reflection amidst nostalgia across a lengthy landscape which never outstays its welcome.

Headsticks continue to be one mightily engrossing and thrilling proposition which, as Kept In The Dark proves, just get better and better.

Kept In The Dark is out now via STP Records; available @ http://www.headsticks.co.uk/shop.html  or http://www.stprecords.co.uk/page2.htm and other online stores.

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Pete RingMaster 05/03/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Headsticks – Feather and Flame

Headsticks_RingMasterReview

Whichever angle you come at Feather and Flame, the new album from UK quartet Headsticks, it is a seriously rousing incitement. Offering eleven diverse and eventful slices bred in the band’s fusion of folk and punk rock, the release gets the body bouncing, thoughts sparking, and the spirit racing. The breeding of serious pleasure is not low on successes triggered either as Feather and Flame not only reinforces the reputation already earned by the band but confirms Headsticks as one of Britain’s most irresistible and essential punk ‘n’ roll adventures.

Formed late 2012 by former members of bands like Tower Struck Down, Jugopunch, and The Clay Faces, the Stoke on Trent hailing Headsticks quickly whipped up potent interest in their sound with a debut three-track E.P in 2013. Their live presence was just as rapid in stirring up of support and fans, the band over time playing shows across the UK as well as numerous festivals whilst sharing stages with a host of well-regarded names in both the folk and punk/alternative genres. The summer of 2014 saw the release of first album Muster, a proposition highly acclaimed by fan and media alike and again backed by the band’s persistent live hunger. Now it is Feather and Flame seriously stirring up ears and attention with its socially and politically charged and challenging songs fuelled by a delicious diversity of sound and dramatic adventure.

The album hits the ground running from its first second, jangling chords and beef rhythms grabbing ears as opener What Do You Want leaps into view. Vocalist Andrew Tranter quickly has the imagination hooked as he lyrically opens up an insight into the lives of the working man and the importance of and habit for things that possibly warrant neither. It is a provocative and swiftly contagious encounter, at times a thumping canter of sound and energy with moments of sweltering funk spice which only adds to its virulent drama.

featherandflame_RingMasterReviewThe thrilling anthemic start gets swiftly matched by the evocatively aired Cold Grey English Skies. Here the rhythms of bassist Nick Bayes and drummer Tom Carter hold a touch more reserve in their framing of a similarly reined urgency shared by Steven Dunn’s guitar, but all easily cast a catchiness which has hips swaying to their movement and the descriptive prowess of Tranter. With a gloriously melodic and addictive chorus, the song has a rich hint of Flogging Molly meets Violent Femmes meets Fatima Mansions to it, further flavouring to seduce ears and appetite before Go Move Shift uncages its own individual virulence. Straight away the song infuses country-esque revelry to its quickly tenacious folk honed rock ‘n’ roll, this time around thoughts picking out Midnight Oil as a hint to the hues working away within another forcibly persuasive track. The flavouring is just another example of the great variety within the album already showing its bold face across the first trio of treats.

The excellent Old Folk Songs has feet and voice soon involved with its punchy mix of folk and punk; a blending of sound around honest appraisal in some ways carrying a scent of Paranoid Visions to it whilst its successor Foxford Town brings a Pogues like lilt to its just as inescapable infectiousness and enthralling drama. Again an array of rock strains collude to create an emotive weave of sound around similarly nurtured syllables and once more Headsticks sculpt a chorus which demands eager participation. Tranter’s harmonica charms bring further colour to the proposal as they do in the traditional folk seeded Mississippi’s Burning where, as you might expect, bodies are induced to bounce and voices inspired to call out along with the band’s rousing croon.

Pay the Price matches it in persuasion and core sound, and subsequently success whilst Tomorrow’s History offers a more rugged affair with its anthemic arousal. The first of the two is an easy coaxing with its successor adding more boisterous attitude and energy to a shared quality of temptation, it bringing a tinge of bands like The Tossers into play before the compelling Every Single Day flirts with fifties rock ‘n’ roll for its power pop/folk punk romp. All three tracks leave the breath short and an appetite for more, greedier; that want more than fed by the outstanding Burn the Sun which follows. Creating a shuffle soaked in sultry seventies funk devilry and seventies new wave devilry, the track swings and flirts like a unique mix of King Trigger and New Model Army.

The album closes with the acoustic tempting and open heart of Falling Out of Love Song, a final folk caress to hungrily embrace before pressing play on Feather and Flame all over again. The album has that addictive quality, one listen leads to another or more almost every time whilst Headsticks is a band for punks, folksters, and rock ‘n’ rollers alike; for anyone who likes being aroused and provoked in equal measure by music that just gets under the skin.

Feather and Flame is out now across most online stores and @ http://www.headsticks.co.uk/shop.html

http://www.headsticks.co.uk   https://www.facebook.com/headsticksmusic   https://twitter.com/HeadsticksMusic

Pete RingMaster 11/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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