"Howlin'" by Bright BlackReview
Today has for some momentous reason been a bumper day for brand new, exciting & thought provoking material to be released in Coventry & Warwickshire, The debut single from Bright Black, called ‘Howlin'" is my sixth review of the day & yes I'm pretty sure that's a record. It certainly says a great deal for the quality of original local music at the moment & its diversity since none sounds remotely like another….
A point of reference for readers unfamiliar with this new band may be to cast your minds back to the respected but sadly no more Never Apart, whose track "Sick Of It" appears on. ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Seven'. The connection is vocalist Alice Clarke who has teamed up with Jason Battershill (guitar & vocals), Alex Parsons (drums) and Adam Witt on bass in this fresh venture.
Obviously her recognisable & very powerful voice is common to each band and when you have one like that, it allows your colleagues to go full out knowing that listeners will still hear the words over the top of whatever you are doing: as happens here. I really like how comfortable & confident her vocals are, with no sense that she feels any need to strain to be heard.
If the sound of "Howlin'" (produced and mixed by Jay Shredder and mastered by Rasmus Bom Andersen) is totally uncompromising, then the very title & theme draw your attention to just what Bright Black are capable of & hurl down a considerable gauntlet: just what a debut single should do if the band are planning to walk the walk.
In fact the production is worth focusing on, given the commitment of each player: you can hear the sum of the parts but also applaud the individual playing which is all discernible through the roar.
A song of considerable defiance towards some unnamed antagonist, another aspect I like about it is that the song sounds fresh, despite sitting very clearly within a classic hard rock tradition. All genres tend to become worn out through familiarity & it although most can be refreshed every generation or so, it takes effort & ingenuity to go back to the well & draw water of a refreshed quality. The tiredness of retreads so prevalent in all forms of popular music is not present here.
Bright Black, unlike a lot of bands (especially new ones), do not (as far as I can see) cite particular influences, for which I applaud them: it's also brave given the need of audiences for reference points to get started. That said, listening to the song, I'd suspect strong likings for American artists among the bands as the feel is rather more transatlantic than British.
I'm always a sucker for a strong guitar solo & riffs and definitely prefer being able to hear what's being played: which is what you get here. The rhythm section needs to be on form to offer an adequate foundation to the voice & guitar: it is all that, and I liked the (to me) unusual drum patterns (I'm sure those versed in the art could explain them to me, but as a non-drummer & the reviewer here, I think I'm entitled to express my personal feelings.
As I said, it's a fine start to their career. As it's the only track I've heard by them, I have no idea how representative it may be (they surely opened with one of the strongest cards) but I have a feeling that they are probably very impressive live…. Be nice to test that out: the band seem to be arranging various opportunities for that which you can find on their page linked to this article.