ALBUM REVIEW: brits & pieces Volume III – Various Artists .

The brits & pieces series of albums are the brainchild of 90’s indie music fan Marc Rossiter. Inspired by compilation albums such as Shine, Marc’s aims are to showcase the abilities of the country’s most talented independent bands and singers; and to give you the opportunity to discover your new favourite artist. Volumes 1 and 2 reached numbers 54 and 52 respectively in the Official Compilation Chart, and as Louder Than War put it ‘The Brits & Pieces CD compilation has helped put a number of unsigned musicians into Great Britain’s living rooms – as well as The UK Charts’. A notable achievement in itself.

Volume III is coming galloping your way soon. As we’re deep into the jump racing season, the Cheltenham Festival has just finished, and the Grand National is just around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the runners and riders on brits and pieces III vying to be your new ‘favourite’.

First out of the stalls are Liverpool’s current ‘house-band’ The Heavy North (they are ubiquitous in the city!). Along with fellow Scousers Mexican Dogs, they are at the forefront of the city’s heavy, blues, rock revival. Darkness In Your Eyes is an excellent introduction to The Heavy North’s oeuvre – loud, bold, classic rock with racing colours of Cream and Deep Purple. Look out for their debut album – Electric Soul Machine, due out soon.

Kenny Stuart – The Heavy North

The Facades are one of two Wigan stabled bands on B&P 3 (the other being The Lilacs with Vicarage Road). The sound of their single That Letter has a hint of another West Lancs band about it –The Lathums. It has a similar vibe to I See Your Ghost – buoyant, up-tempo, ska-tinged, with a banging little guitar solo, topped off with Alannah Webb’s impassioned vocals (Honestly, I don’t know why Sony don’t just move their HQ to King Street, Wigan and be done with it).

James Hargreves is an example of singer/songwriter as storyteller. His song Designated Driver (High As A Kite) is a jangly, epic tale of bailiffs, booze, football, hemorrhoid cream, the search for the birthplace of The Kooks, oh, and your mates getting high.

The Line by British/Indian singer songwriter Maya Lakhani is a rich, dark, vibrant song in the vein of Anna Calvi or Nick Cave. It has an atmospheric, cinematic feel to it and wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to one of those period dramas so keen on using modern music for their brooding backdrop – I’m thinking Peaky Blinders.

The Flixx are a three piece pop-punk band from London. Pony, Trixx and Red have supported Marc Almond and played The Roundhouse. My Life Is A Mess does what it says on the tin. It’s a song about searching for something to cling on to while ‘still wearing yesterdays dress…drinking, pills, self medicating ‘. If you want a touchstone for The Flixx and My Life Is a Mess then listen to the energetic chorus which emulates the exuberance of The Go-Go‘s.

Leeds based 5-piece Apollo Junction are about to embark on their biggest headline show to date when they play Leeds, Stylus on April 23rd. Fans of 80’s and 90’s rock-electronica they are represented here by a track from their All In LP, Porcelain. The drums, guitar and especially the keyboards on this track are reminiscent of The Cure in their poppier moments.

Jamie Williamson – Apollo Junction

Text Back Blues by Jackson Lucitt has a Jake Bugg meets The Everly Brothers feel to it – upbeat tempo, steel string guitars, hand-claps, and Phil and Don harmonies on the chorus. Top notch Folk-indie.

If you prefer the going heavy then Senses from Coventry or Birmingham’s Jay Tennant may take your fancy. We’re Not Wanted by the former has Edge like, delay-laden guitars and anthemic Larry Mullen Jr drums – very early U2. Jay Tennant‘s Spectre has an updated post-punk feel to it – swaggering vocals, hooky basslines and swirling guitars.

Scotland is well represented on B&P 3 with a trio of bands – Blackbirds, The Katuns, and one of my current favourites, The Rah’s – whose contribution is the wonderful, driving, Sweet Talker taken from their critically well received debut album When Does It Become Real?

Jack McLeod – The Rahs

There are a couple of entries from the north-east. Komparrison are a five piece band from Redcar who started life as an acoustic duo. You can hear these foundations in the sparkling harmonies and vocal interplays on show in Bubblegum – a song with diaphanous vocals and twinkling keyboards in the vein of Orla Gartland or Zuzu. From just along the A66 comes Amelia Coburn. If you want to know what it would feel like to promenade through Dublin’s Temple Bar on a pleasant, warm, early-evening accompanied by Neil Hannon and Lily Allen (playing ukuleles), then listen to Dublin Serenade. I imagine it would feel just as joyous as this song sounds.

Completing the field are The Superlatives from Leeds with Sonder; Wolverhampton’s Sam Lambeth & The Four Chords with Nod My Head; and The Juice, from Manchester, with Tell Me Tina. What a field. Something to tickle everyone’s fancy. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Everyone’s a winner.

Brits & pieces III was mastered by legendary sound engineer Nick Brine (Ash, Stone Roses, Oasis), it’s release date is 7th April 2022, and is available to order now from Rough Trade and Wax & Beans. All proceeds from sales of the album will be split equally between the featured artists.

If you’re looking for a tip – get yourself a copy – brits & pieces III is a certain winner.

Ian Dunphy.

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