Thursday, April 16, 2009

Band of Skulls

I finally joined the ranks of the technologically advanced and got an iPod (thanks Meg). The next step was to download my CD collection to my new fangled toy. As I started this task, I realized that I wanted some new tunes to listen to. After a couple of days rummaging through iTunes, I happened upon the free Single of the Week from Band of Skulls. Now with that name, I didn't think I could go wrong.

This trio hails from Southampton, London and met while in college. They were initially known as Fleeing New York, but eventually switched to Band of Skulls (which I have to admit was a wise move). One of the things that makes them unique is that they have two lead singers: Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson who play guitar and bass respectively. Matt Hayward plays drums and lends his hand, along with Marsden and Richardson, at songwriting. The key to this band may be the fact that there are three contributing songwriters, and I believe their individuality comes out in their songs. They started working on demos in late 2008, and then one thing led to another...and here they are.

Each band member has quite the interesting past. Richardson is an artist and her paintings were the inspiration for the artwork for the album. She also used to work at butcher shop where she recently held an exhibition. Marsden survived a hell of a car crash that was all caused due to him rocking out to Ace of Spades by Motorhead. Seriously, that's awesome...not the car crash part but the Ace of Spades part. Hayward's father was in a band who opened for the Rolling Stones, and Hayward himself has actually played tennis with John McEnroe. Their entertaining histories may have played a part in helping them produce some very artistic rock.

The only way I can describe Band of Skulls is classic rock with a touch of the White Stripes. The recordings sound raw, like they should only be listened to on vinyl. Their harmonies are beautiful and Richardson's vocals are a nice touch against the band's rock edge. There's enough newness to their classic sound to make it relevant today and not sound totally trendy. Marsden's guitar solos (and let's thank him for including them since music seems to be lacking them) are different enough to stand out from the crowd but not enough to totally lose me or confuse me. I won't say that their entire album sticks with the classic rock template, but it's quite refreshing and a nice change of pace from normal rock that's shoved down our throats.
My favorites on the album definitely lean more toward the heavier, rock fueled tunes. Light of the Morning, Diamond and Pearls, and I Know What I Am, the first three tracks, set the tone with driving guitar and fierce drums that aren't overzealous. Fire starts hard and dirty and shifts nicely into sweetness, which is caressed with Richardson's harmonies. Band of Skulls show their softer side with Honest and Impossible. Cold Fame closes out the album and won me over with its emotion; it reminds me of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals minus the country overtones.

One thing I truly appreciate thus far in the band's very young marketing career is that there is little to no emphasis on how these three look. Sure, there are some super killer shots of them looking very stylish, but you can't tell who's who. There isn't more focus on one person over another or more focus on Richardson just because she's a lady. It allows everyone to focus more on the music and less on some facade played up by the record company to divert our attention from the fact that the musicians have no talent. On the contrary, these three are very talented and they use it to their advantage.

It looks as though Band of Skulls is only making stops in London at the moment. There is a U.S. tour in the works but nothing has been confirmed yet. Hopefully, it will happen soon because if they're as good live as they sound on their CD, they might be unstoppable.

If you missed their free Single of the Week on iTunes, I Know What I Am, then go to their website and listen to the album for free. Then go buy it like I did. What have you got to lose? This trio might actually surprise you. I know they surprised me, and there's nothing I love better than a good surprise.

Check out the video below of Band of Skulls performing I Know What I Am.


Kris said...

Really dig this band atm, i checked them out on itunes on single of the week, super good tunes!

Tom Scott said...

Yeah i can fully agree with that!!
they are playing at cargo tomorrow (cargo free fridays)
always great times to be had!!

The RIpple Effect said...

Nice. I gotta check this one out

Jake Selway said...

i loved their session on shockhound, bangin!