While Birmingham has long cherished its crown as king of the Midlands and birthplace of heavy metal (cheers Ozzy!), a new county is unashamedly dominating the up-and-coming alternative music scene: world, meet Hertfordshire. While Birmingham is angry and hairy, Hertfordshire has been toning, plucking and waxing itself to perfection-in recent years creating such shiny and infeasibly pretty entities as My Passion and their pals. Yet away from the blinding light of Kerrang! Endorsements and sharp tailoring, the unsigned masses of Hertfordshire, are producing music as impressive as any signed band I’ve heard in recent years.
Recently, I’ve been having a feverish and torrid love affair with young five-piece from Welwyn Garden City (well, haven’t we all?). Thousand Autumns, like many of their contemporaries, are a young and irritatingly attractive rock band with v-necks and trendy shoes a-plenty. Yet, when discounting their trendy clothing and inoffensive tattoos, their sound sets them apart. Imagine Funeral for a Friend had a drunken sexual encounter with The Blackout; Thousand Autumns could easily be regarded as their bastard offspring. While the order of the day in today’s popular rock scene is a pretty predictable ‘sing a bit, shout a bit, chanty chorus, sing a bit, shout a bit…’, thankfully these guys keep their sound fresh and clean by not wearing their influences on their sleeve. While everyone loves a whiny faux-American singer these days, I find myself ready and willing to embrace vocalist Josh Fox for not bowing to this tasteless trend. In every live performance and every recording, you’d be hard pressed to find a point where the result could be deemed whiny.
Although the band are mere infants – having formed as recently as 2010, their Debut EP is definitely an essential addition to any music fan’s collection. While they’ve kindly offered it as a free download on their website, it is also available in a physical CD format, which I urge you to purchase as soon as possible. ‘City of Sun’ is an incredibly neat and polished creation consisting of four brilliantly written and infectiously catchy songs, including their new and increasingly popular single ‘I Chose Not To Remember’. Opening with a riff as catchy as swine flu, it evolves into an energetic and punchy creation with a great structure and compelling melody. Featuring surprisingly good lyrics and a great vocal showcase from Fox, the whole affair is incredibly well produced. No wonder its quickly becoming a staple on channels such as Lava and the like.
‘Sent to Erase’ proves to be a far heavier track than expected – while the instrumental score could easily have been lifted from a Bullet for My Valentine album, once again their identity is firmly stamped on their work through layered and brief gang vocals (which I strongly hope they feature more in later works) and catchy, slightly softer, yet memorable choruses.‘Terrified’ is a real showcase of the musical capabilities of the non-vocal members of Thousand Autumns, particularly Alex Williams’ lead guitar work. This seems to be the heaviest offering on the ‘City of Sun’ EP, and there really are growls aplenty, and a nifty little breakdown which one can never complain about. Yet, as much as it pains me to say so, their lyric-writing skills leave more than a little to be desired, especially in the earlier verses. They’re not so awful that they detract from the enjoyment of the song, but they are dodgy enough for a listener to raise their eyebrows; ‘…tears of children come at night. You procreated, you’re a selfish human being…’ was a line I found particularly cringey, however nicely it was sung. Sorry lads.
‘In the City of Sun’ is the powerful title-track, which wastes no time in getting started and grabbing the listener. Thankfully, lyrical control is regained, as is their impressive structural control. While being the longest track on the EP, it thankfully doesn’t descend into self-indulgence, as is often the case. The employment of tasteful gang vocals and some thigh-quivering guitar work cements ‘In The City Of Sun’ as a particular highlight and a track that was made for performance- if you haven’t found yourself with an air guitar, or a hairbrush microphone, then you my friend, need a wakeup call.
Unlike many other groups in similar genres, Thousand Autumns don’t sound like some backing musicians and a disconnected vocalist; they are very much a band, functioning as a single entity. Their dedication and ambition feels almost tangible, and their music screams potential. Thousand Autumns were made for greatness – and, as much as I hate to admit it, the future’s bright, the future’s Southern. *groan*
4 out of 5 high fives!