Courtesy of MySpace
The Heavy MySpace
We live in a strange time. Whereas a performer once had to have actual talent in order to make a great album, the advent of Pro Tools and other computer programs of that nature have allowed even the worst of bands to sound surprisingly decent. Upon hearing what they perceive as a great new band, music fans must question whether it is the band’s skills or the technology that define the sound. Oftentimes, you can never aptly discern a band’s skills until you see the band live. Even then, however, it’s sometimes hard to know for sure.
Among the throngs of up-and-coming bands with songs and production as sterile and clean as a hospital room, The Heavy is a welcome shot in the arm.
Hailing from the small hamlet of Noid, England (a make-believe location as far as I know), The Heavy attack their listeners with a unique combination of soul, funk, rock, reggae and punk (sometimes within the same song). Founded by Kelvin Swaby (vocals) and Daniel “Dan T.” Taylor (guitar), their 2009 album The House That Dirt Built offers a raw and rollicking journey through the band’s unique sound. Sharp guitar riffs and Stax-era horns propel the dynamic single “How You Like Me Now.” With a voice drenched in rock-star confidence, Swaby coos “I’ve been a bad, bad man” with a lilt that suggests we should have no reason to think otherwise.
“Cause For Alarm,” meanwhile, has the band stripping down and strutting around their reggae skills with Swaby adopting the necessary cadences and reverb. “Oh No! Not You Again” screams with the urgency and fervor of a traditional blues song filtered through a punk mentality. Likewise, the soulful “That Kind of Man” and funky “Coleen” sounds like something straight out of a cool 1970s blaxploitation film.
Banishing polish in favor of grit, The Heavy more than proves their namesake. If such an unconventional band can teach us anything, it is this: if you want to make great music, you got to get a bit dirty sometimes.
—By Entertainment Editor Mark Rozeman
Courtesy of Traffic Records and Loophole Entertainment
When it comes to electronic indie pop, I tend to want to keep my distance. In my experience, electronic music — with its spacey, repetitive sounds played out over an interminable length — seems to be the last refuge of the drugged-out hippie seeking a modern-day alternative to the Grateful Dead.
Call me a traditionalist, but I like my meat-and-potatoes music. When I listen to rock, I picture a group of passionate young rebels strutting around on stage, pounding their instruments into submission and howling out their (often incomprehensible) lyrics like they are commencing a political rally. When I listen to electronic, I picture two black-clad men pressing buttons while hordes of strung-out, pale youths all bob their heads in synchronization; all the while, a group of Pitchfork Media critics sit at the sidelines and stroke their goatees in contemplation. Guess which band I wish I was in?
As such, it’s always refreshing when I hear an electronic band that doesn’t sound as though they’re trying to subliminally convince me to kill myself. My current exception is the Austin-based band SPEAK. Formed from the remains of Troupe Gammage’s previous project Jupiter 4-, SPEAK consists of Gammage, guitarist Nick Hurt, drummer Jake Stewart and bassist Joey Delahoussaye. Boasting a range of influence from Led Zeppelin to the B-52s, the band delivers a hearty mix of playful electronica and Beach Boy-inspired harmony pop.
Currently available on iTunes, their debut EP Hear Here is a wonderful introduction to their sound and style. “Stand by Us” is a pitch-perfect summer hit waiting to happen. “Louder,” meanwhile, begins with a U2-inspired riff and only gets weirder from there — in a good way. The EP concludes with the up-tempo “I’d Rather Lie,” a song that somehow manages to be both exuberant and haunting at the same time.
Having recently been awarded the 2010 Best New Band Award from the Austin Music Awards, the band’s future certainly looks promising. My suggestion: check out their MySpace, download their EP and say you knew them when.
— By Staff Writer