"Standing In The Shadows" by Green HandsReview
Quite a few years ago now, one of the bands I'd have been raving about in "Hot Music Live" had I actually been writing for them at that time, was the extremely impressive Rewards & Revenge: a very young band from Leamington who actually released a few excellent tracks before life pulled them in different directions.
Now, massively to my pleasure, two alumni of that band are working together within Green Hands, having reconvened back in our area. Since they've just released a new single "Standing In The Shadows" on Breakfast Records, what a great opportunity to tell you about them.
As it happens, I was as knocked out by hearing the new record as I was when I first heard them as teenagers. It's tempting (actually it's probably obligatory as a reviewer) to look for signs of continuity, which in this case means delving a bit deeper as this is no punk song & Rewards & Revenge were definitely that way inclined. However if one peers beyond the obvious differences, it reminds me of how, as the original punk scene was dragged down into a cul de sac of Mohicans & sub-Sham 69 chants, bands explored, as Green Hands do here, the use of brass, but with the dynamism of punk: for example The Jam, The Teardrop Explodes, Dexy's Midnight Runners etc and you can hear echoes of this on the thrilling brass of "Standing In The Shadows". That the lyrics include mention of "a teardrop ready to explode" may be more than a coincidence….
All credit to Dave Huntriss for the brass arrangements (added remotely during lockdown) and Dom Mitchison who recorded it at Humm in Bristol, ensuring the interesting mix of sounds reaches our ears in the most effective & authentic way.
In fact Jack Telford, who is the songwriter & the founder of the band, tells me that the story has a history dating back some thirty years. It was inspired by a demo his Dad put together (and apparently pretty much influenced by The The) at that time (in Slough) and Jack was sufficiently inspired by it to ask permission to use the chord progression as a basis for this song, at the same time acknowledging the role his father had originally played by encouraging him as a musician from an early age.
Joined in the band by his former Rewards & Revenge bandmate Jake Greenway, Jake's Fizzy Blood bandmate Ciaran Scanlon, James Knight and Patch Murphy, what you get is a fascinating amalgam of styles: so much so that it transcends any single one & becomes its own entity.
Once I'm past hearing the post-punk sound I mentioned above, I certainly detect a very 1960s mod thing going on in there, yet as Jack cites as inspiration bands like Big Star or Teenage Fanclub, it has that power pop vibe too (I suppose those two genres are on the same continuum of course).
But that's picking it apart (my job reviewing I guess): it's much better to stand back & simply enjoy the song as a complete artefact. It's glorious. It's a compelling groove, sung (and the vocal is mixed pretty high which is to their credit) in a most confident manner. I picture in my head when listening to it, crowds taking to the floor at some Northern Soul All-Nighter (there's another genre touchstone for your consideration). Jake, as a young teenager was regarded by many as the best drummer emerging: a powerhouse of a youngster: now he's fulfilling that promise by demonstrating how, in addition to his power & precision, he can truly swing, and you cannot say that of every drummer.
Jack too has shown how his early promise has matured: the vocals have the confidence I alluded to, not least because though prominent , are not belted out: there is a cool sophistication to his delivery and as a songwriter he's moved on from describing what he sees, the material world & concrete visions to something much more abstract & poetic.
This is one of the finest songs I've come to relatively "cold" (I'm kicking myself for having missed their earlier releases and am desperately acquainting myself with the back catalogue) and I'm pretty awestruck. They have had several singles, an album (‘Nebo's Dream') and (quite understandably) been playing shows on a national basis, working with bands and artists like Happyness, Penelope Isles and Willie J Healey.
My apologies for joining the Green Hands party a bit later than I should have liked, but hopefully it's a case of better late than never.
"Standing In The Shadows" is available through the usual outlets & I've added it to the current "Hot Music Live Presents" Spotify playlist for your enjoyment (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3oCggbP6HwfZDqaI2vNUtn?si=629e826e53f64eec)