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Music Review: Blackbud – Blackbud

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Sometimes it has to be said that today’s music business can seem a strange and mysterious place. Within its world there are inevitably some bands that breakout and there are those who, despite having more to offer, remain for whatever weird reason overlooked.

It is often hard to find the factors that lead to one achieving a breakthrough against the other. It’s all about ‘of the moment’ sales, of course, and, I guess, that means the majority buy the majority of music within the former category.

Having said that, never say never or lose heart or faith in the fact that cream rises to the top. With that in mind I would like to point out that one of the best kept secrets of British music at the moment just has to be Blackbud. Despite being in the previously established minority let me present my case.

When I reviewed Blackbud’s first album From The Sky, albeit a while after its release, I opened with the phrase, ‘In true British Parliamentary tradition I must declare an interest’. Okay, since I wrote that the only interests declared by British Parliamentarians have proved to be of the self serving type, but the phrase still stands.

You see, I have a love affair with this young band from Wiltshire that dates back to a gig in Southend’s Riga Bar several years ago. At the risk of repeating what I wrote in my review of From The Sky they radiated that horrible word ‘potential’ in huge bucket loads. Despite being the support band, I left the club thinking about the trio from the West Country, and I have hungrily followed their progress ever since.

So what was it that stood out? Well, in front man, singer and guitarist Joe Taylor they have an extraordinary talent who is blessed with on-stage charisma and style similar to the sadly missed Jeff Buckley. Adam Newton just mesmerized me on his fretless bass, and Sam Nadal was excellent on drums.

This is a band that grew up listening, I mean really listening, to some quality music. The difference is they are now writing it themselves. I waited and watched from the wings convinced that soon I would have to pay a hell of a lot more for a Blackbud ticket and prepared to watch them in a much larger venue than this great little club.

Sure enough, From The Sky delivered what I hoped. The rave reviews flooded in with my favourite being from the UK Guardian newspaper who expertly summed up the situation with, ‘ridiculously talented, it’s our duty to make them famous’.

They went on to win the best unsigned band of Glastonbury 2004. Now they have released their impressive second self-titled album, a record that will surely kick start them along that road to fame. If it doesn’t, I’ll eat that fretless bass.

Without doubt Blackbud, the album, moves the band further down that path towards a wider spread of recognition. The musicianship is solid, the songwriting exceptional, and the performance of each part of the trio extraordinarily good. From The Sky gave us highlights such as “Switch”, “Goodbye Song (Cold Haroudan)”, and “Sitting By The River. This album more than successfully builds on all that has gone before.

This is a band that has the ability to grow, as long as their heart and desire to do so remain. The album opens with one of its strongest tracks “Left Your Arms Empty”. It’s rather simply strummed acoustic opening builds towards Joe’s entrance. Immediately you know that this voice is exceptionally gifted.

Sam and Adam continue with their watertight understanding throughout the album. Joe’s swooping guitar, irrespective of the odd brief break, is never allowed to detract from the essence of the song. “You Can Run” is the single from the album and just might prove to be your first memorable exposure to the band.

“Wandering Song” is a Blackbud anthem and when they play this year's Glastonbury it is sure to make an impact. Produced by Mike Crossley (Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys) this album cements the quality I witnessed literally radiating from three very young lads who had travelled all the way to play a support slot in Southend. Such was the impact that I can’t remember who I had actually gone there to see.

“So It Seems” breezes its way through your mind leading towards the gentle “Golden Girl”. My own particular highlight, “Road To Nowhere” showcases the talent of singer Joe Taylor within a wonderfully atmospheric song. It’s an excellent track, brilliantly sung, superbly played, and expertly produced.

It’s a hard act to follow but they manage it as “Came Down Easy” shifts a gear or two. “Outside Looking In”, “I’ll Be Here”, and “Darkness” add yet more to the Blackbud canvass. They have attracted rave reviews in the past from the likes of MTV2, Uncut, Classic Rock, and, of course, The Guardian newspaper. I am eagerly waiting to see what they make of this album.

In the meantime if you are packing your muddy wellies for this years Glastonbury make sure you are in the Fluffy Rock Café at 9pm on the 25th June or 2pm the following day. There you will see Blackbud, one of the most talented young bands I have seen in a long, long time.

Of course, in days gone by you wouldn’t need me to blog about them as they would have been all over the pirate radio stations. All of which leads me back to where I started. Today’s music business is a strange and mysterious place; people are flicking through Blogcritics wondering who the hell Blackbud are.

Well if you’ve got this far you must be still interested. So, have a look and listen on Blackbud’s MySpace page where you can see video and hear the tracks from both albums. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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About Jeff Perkins