Monday, 7 October 2013

J.B. Newman & The Black Letter Band - Shadow of a Dream EP

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Think back a couple of months (or alternatively click this link) to 'Black Lullaby' (which, rather brilliantly, has just been picked up for use on the soundtrack to the film 'The Hooligan Factory'), the recent single from J.B Newman & The Black Letter Band. The track title alone is a pointer to their sound, and we also remarked on the Richard Hawley-esque vocals and the not-so-summery skeleton artwork. Really the song was more suited to Halloween than the middle of summer. So it makes sense that the London collective are planning a release for the spooky end of this month. Now, we don't feature novelty records such as Christmas songs or Halloween songs and so on, but in a huge stroke of common sense, the band have chosen to stick to their regular tunes and not engineer them to any festivities. They are rather fitting anyway of course.

That Hawley-like croon is still here, the music is a prowling mixture of blues, rock n' roll, jazz and even lounge music. The most obvious word that springs to mind is "atmosphere", something this band must have in their veins instead of blood. 'Shadow Of A Dream' is all cinematic, subtle instrumentation that's plucked from a vintage jazz club for those with a taste for the darker side of life. It takes a certain individuality to infuse this music with lyrics like "I dreamed I kissed a tiger, his face was all glass". As the song builds and the brass steps up a gear, those vocal chords are stretched a little more, allowing some extra passion to come forth. It ends like Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison finding themselves in the wrong building but deciding to play along with the band regardless. The intro to 'Blood In My Shoes' (yes, in, not on) is a surprise due to it being more uptempo, with the horns doing battle with some surf guitar and a great dose of twang. It's as though Link Wray has joined the party, and is perhaps the pick of the bunch. Considering the band describe themselves as "noir", finishing with a track called 'Colours' may seem odd. Musically? We're still talking sax that you wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley, even bigger guitar twangs and carefully considered and wonderfully fitting lyrics. Leave the cheesy music at home this Haloween and step out for a night on the underground with J.B Newman & The Black Letter Band instead. It'll be way more interesting.

J.B Newman & The Black Letter Band's website

Stream or buy the EP

Catch them live:

The first night of what will hopefully become a regular event celebrating this scene:
Thurs, Oct 31, The Finsbury Pub, London
J.B Newman & The Black Letter Band, Snack Family and Georges Kaplan

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