Birmingham; as the accepted second city of England, it would be reasonable to conclude that "Brum" along with its surrounding satellite towns, hasn't exactly stamped its authority on British popular culture in the way the area's inhabitants may have hoped. Their football teams are, well let's be kind here and say "struggling"; their elongated accent is an often cited source of national mirth and mockery, and as for their comedians... well the only reservations I have with Premier Inn are linked to their choice of advertising ace card! Then there’s music of course, and whist in the US of A the Motor City fabricated Motown, techno and more besides, the epicentre of UK car construction was to fire up its production line and roll out... aaagh UB40!
OK that last bit is disingenuous, as are the lazy clichés that precede it. Birmingham is, I’m told - as regrettably I've never visited - a fine place to dwell with much to offer, and musically it has its own unique history with a long and faithful association to heavy rock and the wider midlands region being a hotbed of glam and the breeding ground for the 2-Tone movement. There's no denying however that the past two decades have proved less fruitful - recent signs though seem to indicate that change is afoot. Swim Deep, Troumaca, and most notably Peace, are all flirting increasingly forwardly with fame, and now hot on their heels comes another brand new band hoping for a slice of the big stage action.
'Breathe' is the debut release from fledgling quartet Leopard and it takes its lead stylistically from the latter of the aforementioned trio, constructing a ballsy baggy persona on building blocks of weighty guitar riffs, tight bass and drum co-operation, and a lean and lubricious synth accompaniment. With "oooed" backing vocals complementing frontman Isaac Tombs unaffected but determined delivery, the prevailing sense of intent that's fashioned is one that will resonate with those who recall early post millennium dance-rock purveyors The Rain Band. Raw enough to retain a menacing energy, but polished enough to project professionalism, it's a confident introduction, and one that whets the appetite for what could potentially follow. As first attempts go, we'd say these Leopards got it pretty much spot on.