|The Smoking Hearts - 'Pride Of Nowhere' (George Street Records)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Monday, 08 March 2010 06:55|
In an industry (or world maybe), where so called "art" imitates pathetic, worthless life and keeping up with the Joneses has been replaced by keeping up with the crass Coleses, the bland continue to lead the bland to their intellectual graves. Fashion replaced passion long ago, manufactured rebellion reigns chaos over suburban svengalis in their over-priced mortgaged homes who decide which music shall be bought by you through their twee pseudo-anarchic protest groups on social networking websites....all owned by massive corporations, of course.
The need for musical mavericks, auteurs who appear off-kilter to the moron majority, couldn't be greater at this point in history. With the additional fees added to concert tickets being more than what a ticket used to cost and the purchasing of an album seemingly being consigned to time capsules for the majority, a spark is needed now more than ever. A spark that will turn ivory towers into flaming crypts and faceless automatons into unidentifiable corpses. Bands that can catch lightning in a bottle, that haemorrhage energy and attitude, that stick two fingers up to the rules and rulers....and that's where I get to The Smoking Hearts....
'Pride Of Nowhere', their incendiary debut album, clocks in at just over twenty nine minutes long. Thirteen songs that explode out of the speakers and hit you in the face like the flash paper of a letter bomb, all over in the time it would have taken you to watch an episode of your favourite soap opera....if you were one of them, right? But, because you're reading this review of a band dripping in independent spirit on an independent website then I'm guessing that you're not. You'll go a long way.
Seemingly appearing out of nowhere (no pun intended) in the run up to this album's release - when in reality the band have a couple of excellent EP's in their back catalogue - the press have been quick to pin the Gallows tail on this pity-party donkey; they all love a label, right? While you would be hard pressed to argue against such a comparison levelled at the band resulting in additional interest - some people in the music industry are only interested in making money, apparently - it actually does a disservice as this is a band seemingly wise beyond their musical years. Themselves naming Motorhead as an important ingredient in their sound, it is actually the punk 'n' roll pocket of bands that have taken that legendary band's sound as gospel and distorted it (sonically as well as literally) into the dirty garage rock fusion of punk and metal that should welcome The Smoking Hearts into their fold. Think the much-missed Gluecifer, Zeke, The Supersuckers, all by way of The Bronx. The intensity and camaraderie of Cancer Bats is also worthy of a mention and, yes, I can see no reason why fans of Gallows shouldn't welcome this band like long-lost relatives. Not bandwagon jumpers, not copycats, plagiarists or soundalikes - kindred spirits. I'd even throw a bone in the direction of the first Towers Of London album if that band hadn't disappeared in such an embarrassing Britpop fashion, with that last word taking precedence.
The album, like the live show, starts with an air raid siren and the thirteen song blitz that follows - quickly - is snotty, gutter-dirty, blackly comedic and, most importantly of all, inspired. There are gang vocals to shout along to, massive riffs to throw horns at, songs that last barely two minutes yet seem to have absorbed every cool quality that makes this music that we love so alive, so vibrant, so fucking essential. Tracks like 'George Street Wrestling' and 'Thundersludge' have dirty, rusty hooks that are sure to infect, 'Give 'Em The Suit' also. But 'Pride Of Nowhere' isn't really an album from which individual songs can be plucked for discussion easily - this is a record that flows from start to finish in impressive, liberating fashion. A true album not simply a collection of songs. Revelatory? In the sense that you now have an essential new band to discover, yes.
The Smoking Hearts will not feature on the cover of the nation's music press with headlines bleating about their "difficult" upbringing. They will not post regular tweets denying who they are sleeping with. They will not leave huge tours in order to plan their weddings. They will leave those fascinating tales to the million selling musically mundane bores who sell copies of magazines that have already sold their souls. Instead The Smoking Hearts will tour the arse off this devastating debut that is, seriously, gonna be one of the best albums of this year. I dare you to see this band live or listen to 'Pride Of Nowhere' and keep still. Whether it be your feet, your head, your heart skipping a beat or the hairs on the back of your neck sticking up, if this band don't get a reaction out of you then you have no soul. Kill yourself.