The Bedroom Hour
Hinterland is available from 14th July via:
Sea Without Water– 9.6
Heart Will Haunt– 9.6
Ghost of a Smile– 9.6
I See Suns– 9.5
A Map Made from My Bones– 9.5
STAND OUT TRACK:
Sea Without Water, Heart Will Haunt, Ghost of a Smile, Ww/Me, Hinterland
Rock, Alternative, Indie
Previews of the album’s tracks can be accessed via:
The album will be launched on 12th July at 10pm:
Night and Day Cafe, 26 Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 IJN
(The band will be available for drinks and a chat from 8pm)
The Bedroom Hour have campaigned hard (to get their album made). With the backing of fans- plus a host of fresh creative inspiration- the Uxbridge five-piece present the stunning Hinterland: an album that marks them out as one of the most promising and essential bands in all of new music
‘FAMILIARITY’ is a word that has several different meanings…
In life, it can breed contempt; in relationships it can create comfort- in music, it has double-meaning. The word can be applied to a lot of modern-day musicians: those that play music that is essentially the same as anything else out there. As an axiom to explain a sense of disenchantment (among music-lovers) it can cause mass shoulder shrugging- the amount of carbon copies and aimless nobodies. The word can also have another- and much more positive- meaning: bands and acts that keep putting out music and staying in your consciousness. A synonym for prolificacy- that which is conducive to high creativity- familiarity can be a very good thing- if a musician sticks around then they must be doing something right? To a large extent this is true, yet there are plenty of acts that obtain longevity due to unsavoury market forces and a meaningless sense of popularity. New musicians- who stick around and keep releasing material- do so because the public embrace what they are offering: my featured act are one of the most inspired and hard-working bands on the current scene. Here is a band that I have reviewed before- in fact a few times- and always come away from the experience with something new. On my last outing, I assessed their track, No Keys. That particular song was made available to anyone that donated to their Pledge Music campaign: the boys have been raising funds to put Hinterland together- due to the massive support that has come in, they hit their target figure. Not merely a B-side or studio ‘outtake’, the track was filled with stunning emotion, incredible moments and plenty of (stirring) anthemic vocals- hallmarks I have come to expect from the band. Before I investigate them in more detail, let me introduce the five-piece to you:
Stuart Drummond– Lead Vocals
Rob Payne– Guitars and Backing Vocals
Mark Dudley– Keyboard
Andy Copper– Bass
Lewis Cosham– Drums
“Described by BBC Introducing’s Gary Crowley as ‘epic, big sounding, widescreen pop-rock’, the bedroom hour are a unique blend of psychedelic soaring guitars, ethereal synths, haunting melodies and original emotive lyrics.”
The Uxbridge quintet have had a jam-packed and busy last year: their music gradient has increased and their output and trajectory has climbed high- bringing us to the here and now. I know how much it means to The Bedroom Hour: they have worked tireless making sure the L.P. is as strong and memorable as possible. With interests such as “Writing, Recording, Mixing, Festivals, Live Music, Unsigned bands, Rock’n’Roll, a few glasses of rum!”, our heroes have intentions to take the album on the road: play to as many new crowds as they can; across new towns and locations. In addition to launching the album in Manchester (at Night and Day Cafe on July 12th), the boys will be travelling across the U.K.- playing new tracks and their older material. When we think of new music- and try to select the best that it has on display- it can be a tricky task: finding bands (and artists) that not only will be around for years to come- but have an exquisite sound- gets more difficult by the year. Too many short-term artists come (and subsequently disappear): our endeavouring five-piece are already making heady strides towards the realm of the mainstream: their sounds are ready-made for festivals and the airwaves; their output is uniformly excellent- here is a group you can hang your hat on and guarantee will not let you down. Being familiar with their past cuts, I am confident in saying that their current material is the strongest they have ever produced: the band are enjoying the business of music-making more than ever- inspired and propelled by the support from their fans, the sense of confidence and freedom runs rife throughout Hinterland.
Having assessed the guys on three separate outings, I can see a clear development (from their early days). Back in 2013, I reviewed Submarine and Slow Motion Cinema. Being some of the group’s earliest material, there was a definite sense of eagerness and ambition that shone through- right from the very first moments. Both tracks presented different sides: the former looked at issues such as sinking, hopeless; redemptive longing and staying afloat- the song mutated and shifted design as it progressed. Possessed of vivid and deep lyrics, the song gets into your head and make you think. Incorporating influences of Kid A-era Radiohead and Elbow, the track had its fair share of pride, glory, atmosphere and intrigue- the guys took a lot of care to craft the song. Mixing metaphors of water and sinking; being aloof and trapped- the sense of dread and need to escape was evident. The latter looked at the loss of love: the hero implores and campaigns to his love “What would I do without you?” Slow-motion images and scenes are played back: heartache and longing are examined, backed by an emotive compositional coda. Both tracks look at darker and more subjugating issues- there is plenty of redemption and hope, yet the themes explore anxious and unctuous avenues. No Keys developed the band’s sound: looking at existential issues and the loss of someone dear, the song deals with eulogy, questioning and letting go- similar themes are explored (with regards their past) yet the overall sound is more confident and full. Over the course of a year, The Bedroom Hour not only grew in stature and potency, yet employed new influences and direction. Whilst their early singles saw the embers of Doves, Joy Division and Elbow shine through; on No Keys, the boys seem more comfortable in their own skin: they introduce touches of their idols, yet come across as more empowered, unique and original. Hinterland takes this paradigm a step further: the album harks back to their early days whilst offering the listener new sounds and subjects- they introduce more positivity and upbeat ideals (broadening their sonic palette into the mix). The L.P. shows another leap of confidence: the five-piece sound more assured and meaningful than ever; their songs are bolder and fuller- they have searched their creative minds and struck gold. Whereas the quality was always there- from their first track- The Bedroom Hour bring more variation and diversity into their music: the compositions seem more layered and nuanced; the lyrics more striking and multifarious- the vocals stronger and more determined. For those that are familiar with the band: you will see and hear a definite progression and sense of confidence; for those new and fledgling: the sound of a band at the peak of their powers shines through.
It is true that The Bedroom Hour have mastered their own particular sound and make-up: there are touches and suggestions of other musicians that appear in their music. Doves and Elbow’s Indie/Alternative-Rock sounds can be heard in some of Hinterland‘s tracks. When the bands (Elbow and Doves) are at their most emphatic and awe-struck, that is when the greatest effect is created. The Bedroom Hour incorporate elements of Cast of Thousands/Leaders of the Free World-era Elbow with Doves- their The Last Broadcast work sprigs to mind. Our five-piece have some melancholy and heavy-hearted thoughts, yet are able to present them in an uplifting and enchanting way. The quintet is able to summon up a world of sounds and layers to ensure that their songs never drag you down; instead lift you up and inspire sing along moments. Drummond manages to instill a little of Jimi Goodwin’s (lead singer of Doves) plaintive and impressive croon: that same strength and quality comes through in The Bedroom Hour’s music. When Payne backs up vocals, you can detect the anthemic and euphoric parabond crystallised. Pink Floyd and Joy Division also rank as influences (of the band). In the same was Pink Floyd were synonymous with their atmospheric and staggering soundscapes, The Bedroom Hour are adept at weaving elements and musical strands together- to create a full-bodied and hypnotic sound. Employing electronics, keys, strings, synths. and samples; the quintet marry ’70s Psychedelia and Prog.-Rock with modern-day experimentation: not only marking them out from their contemporaries, but keeping their songs mobile, interchangeable and fresh. If you are a fan of Ian Curtis’s demanding and urgent voice, you will enjoy Hinterland: there are suggestions of the late great across the eleven tracks- proceedings are never too heavy; Drummond has similar chocolate and velvet rich tones. There are not too many other influences I can point to; the band have a great modern sound- they are a fan of fellow acts Crystal Seagulls and The Darlingtons. Like these acts, The Bedroom Hour are able to inspire and delight crowds into a dance-crazy frenzy- capable of making them reflect on life and love. Our five-piece only sparingly incorporate obvious influences into their music: the abiding sensation is of a band that are vibrant and authoritative- possessed of a unique and special voice. For anyone that likes their music alive and energised; romantic and intelligent; uplifting and varied: you need to check out The Bedroom Hour.
Ocean perfectly opens up Hinterland: starting with far-off and building electronics, the atmosphere echoes and beckons- sensing that a distant ship is moored at sea, the combinations of ’80s synths and moody and evocative sonics instantly intrigue. The listener strains their ear and searches for our frontman: the wash and soothing audio mantra compels and spikes the imagination- before long, a distant coo presents itself. The vocal is background and aching: an elongated and pained cry calls out from the ocean- whether an S.O.S. or a Siren’s song; you can sense some a mixture of beauty and pain. Backed by a swirling and scenic composition, you become enveloped and immersed in Ocean– its call-across-the-waters mandate is a gorgeous and eerie opening gambit and unexpected treat. Most bands would open an album heavy and urgent: include as much force and directness as they can- thinking that the listener may wander off if they do not do so. The Bedroom Hour have an authority and conviction that makes Ocean such an appropriate opener: displaying their talent for composition- both musical and emotional- the combination of throbbing electronics (and sprinkling, rushing elements) act as perfect metaphors for the oceanic view. Some of Kid A Radiohead can seen in the track: that same ethereal and ghost-in-the-machine vocal that Yorke cemented shows some influence here. It is a tender and emotive number that leaves instant impressions: by combining ’80s, ’90s and modern-day influences- with their own individual voice- the band ensure that the mood is set right from the off. Whereas Ocean dealt with the expanse of water; the lure and loneliness of the sea, Hinterland’s sophomore track looks as Sea Without Water. Following a brief magisterial rise, the track suddenly bursts into life- a juxtaposition to the opening, here the mood bursts, explodes and delights. A cheeky electronic kick gives the song a swagger and sense of purpose; the persistent and determined percussion gives it a strong backbone- bass and guitar provide a pulsating and measured heartbeat. Our frontman approaches the microphone- with a slight burden afoot. Allowing his voice to lengthen and emote, early words promise fractious emotion (“I have cried myself dry“)- all is not well with our hero. Stating it is no wonder he is dying inside, the strains and realities of life are taking their toll- whether assessing a falling relationship (or other strains), you can sense the conviction of emotions. The rudderless lead seems aghast and motionless; stating “I’m sailing with no tide“, the semi-operatic delivery that comes through is rife with pained emotion- blind in the sea, he is desirous of direction and support. With an effective and forceful composition- the electronics sway and rise like waves; the band inject passion and drive a-plenty- you get sucked into a tableau of disconnection and introspection. After an exhaustive outpouring, the boys combines to provide ballast: an impassioned and catchy (strange but true) parable breaks the tension- backing vocals are spectral and beautiful. Boasting a huge and animalistic vocal performance, our frontman roars and lets his lungs belt: not only making the track that much more emotional, but stirring the soul at the same time. The swirling and dark-toned guitar line that opens Nocturnal puts me in mind of early-Joy Division: twanging and arpeggio strings melt and conspire- before springing into life and flying into the atmosphere. The way the composition flourishes and grows- with upbeat and elliptical heartbeat- builds up the fascination. When our hero steps up, we are looking at a central figure: explaining that it doesn’t matter what has happened; it cannot be changed. Singing of jealousy and fragmented love; our frontman sleeps through the day and is saddened: unable to picture his love with anyone else, it is tearing him up inside. An impressive and atmospheric rush backs up the urgent and emotive vocal- there are stadium-sized anthemics at work here. Gorgeous and flowing guitar notes twiddle and race: seamlessly representing our frontman’s pulsating thoughts, they whip up a sense of daze and delirium. Whoever is on our hero’s mind, it is causing heartache and strain- pulverising and punchy percussion emphasises this towards the song’s end. It is perhaps the intent and sleep-deprived chorus that stays in the mind (longest): delivered with a sense of regret, you can picture our frontman awake at night- wondering what could have been, and where things went wrong. A ticking and thudding heartbeat opens Heart Will Haunt. Less emphatic- in the early stages- than previous numbers, it allows the mood to settle and relax. When the words are delivered, they are done so with consideration: the lines are projected with weight and (slowed) pace- ensuring that the meanings and sentiments get inside your thoughts. The heroine is letting silence take over her: our man seems fed up and at breaking-point. The vocal is once again operatic and stirring: he is thinking of the girl, but it seems that no good can come from it. Having put a hex on our hero, his sweetheart “still haunts me“: her green-eyed beauty lingers in his brain. The band keep the composition potent but understated- during the verses- the vocal is given a chance to shine through and pervade- during the chorus extra weight is lended but it does not encroach on the foreground. Heart Will Haunt never lets its sights slip: the sensations and memories that flood back are doing their damage and leaving him hollow. The entire performance here is tight and considerate: each musical element adds to the beauty and potency of the track- there is no needless energy or noise; everything is detailed and perfectly deployed. Grumbling and rumbling bass gives Broken a shadowy and crepuscular beginning: punctuated by wailing string, a galloping (but light) percussive beat builds up the sense of danger and bloodlust. The affected frontman is being taunted and affected by words; feeling the strain he wonders when his brittle bones will “crumble beneath me“: it seems that too much hostility and anger has been shot his way; he cannot take any more. Proceedings are kept compulsive by the band combination: the vocal is not heavy or foreboding- it is passionate and strong- tantalising and picturesque guitars summon up a myriad of images; the bass ensures that they reflect our hero’s deepest feelings. The chorus allows the frontman to strike and rebel: belting the words emphatically, the wolf has been scarred and is fighting for his life. Embers of Bruce Springsteen and Guy Garvey come through when the emotions become too much: whilst repeating “I’m broken“, the most powerful moments are elicited. By the time the song comes to its end, you wonder how our frontman will fare- it seems that he is trying to keep going but is fighting the war alone. Sapphires picks things right back up: the composition is temporized and measured; the vocal calmed- in the opening exchanges- and words more redemptive. Our frontman knows that sub-zero temperatures could never freeze the air his sweetheart gives: the breath she provides can withstand the steeliest of weathers. Images of single sapphires, romantic dance and longing are all painted: whoever his desired love is, it has caused enraptured, spellbound paen- with another powerful vocal, it appears that the anxieties (that lingered in previous numbers) are starting to wane. A rousing and stately composition adds flames to the fire: as our hero is lost in his thoughts, the band ensure that the track’s tender images are given incredible resonance and consideration. Capable of inspiring hundred of gig-goers (to get their hands swaying in the air), the sheer conviction of the vocal makes the song a charming and romantic air: not only acting as a welcome emotional respite, but showcasing another side to the band. Wasting no time for lay-in, a powerful and grand piano roll introduces Ghost of a Smile. A god is being offered (that our hero) will never see: self-doubt and introspective topics are being investigated. Not knowing who he is, our frontman can see so much resentment “inside my own reflection“: it appears that some examination and answers are required. As the powerful and passionate vocal looks inwards, the composition pushes outwards- perhaps the most accomplished one to this point. Jazzy and catchy strings play the one moment; insatiable keys the next: the range of sounds and moods is incredible. While biblical inspiration is being offered forth, it seems that the answers- to the problems at hand- reside inside of our hero: too many demons linger for them to be eradicated by false messages. The band manage to stir up so many layers in the song: the composition is ever-evolving and fascinating; the vocal mutates and shifts- the lyrics are simple yet highly evocative. Possessing the same kind of flair, musicianship and quality (the best bands of today offer), Ghost of a Smile is a mid-album gem that leaves you excited for what is to come. Ww/Me comes as a big surprise: a choral and gospel-style intro. mixes celestial beauty with shimmering light- if you thought the title was intriguing, the first few moments (of the song) are even more so. Leaving the Evangelic dust behind, a stirring guitar and drum duel turns the song into something more driven and lustful: scoring a song that speaks of doubts and poor horizons, it is a tantilising beast. The vocals are suitably inflamed as all of the doubts- the stresses and the negative outlooks- are “world war me“: a state of mind that will see casualties for sure. Previous songs have kept firm with a particular path, projection and pace: here there are multiple parts and changes of scenery. Following from the firm-headed and straight-ahead mentality- that was seen in the composition- the atmosphere changes: guitars wail and rattle; the percussion clatters and pervade recklessly; the bass snakes and strikes- before the chorus comes back into view. If you are going to represent internal angst and warfare in a composition, then you should hear The Bedroom Hour’s interpretation: at 2:24 the guitars howl and scream in the darkness; they ramp up and expand with menace and ghostly cries- the percussion never stops cantering and pummeling. Unleashing a firestorm of sonic lust, our frontman- Drummond and Payne combine on vocals- states that it is “do or die“: caught in a quagmire of regrets and doubts, he needs to take action- the mobility and rush of the composition gives the impression of our hero running towards a new life; desperate to get away from the existing one. A breezy and Pink Floyd-esque mandate opens I See Suns. Apocalyptic imagery and suns that blind “set fire to skies“: the vocal is matter-of-fact yet powerful; never overwhelming, our hero remains relaxed and firm to begin. Backed by a driving and gut-punch band performance, the song never loses fascination- each member combines wonderfully to whip up a sea of emotional sound. Our frontman sees mankind slipping through the smoke of every fire made: standing atop a mountain, the message carries weight- there is no smoke without fire too. Intriguing and oblique, it appears that a general state of affairs is being examined. Spurred on by twanging and funky bass; buzzing and hornet storm electronics (topped off with belting vocals), the song gets inside of your mind- wondering just what has inspired this missive. As you get wrapped up in the atmosphere and huge rush of the song, you hope that it will not end- before you know, we are in the final moments and left to soak in the rally cry that has gone before. Whereas I See Suns sported perhaps the album’s most diverse composition, the title track tries to top it. Starting faded down- with our frontman’s voice distant- the volume builds and builds. Swelling electronics and clattering percussion beautifully combine to score a tale with a foreboding message: we all take from the sea, and one day we shall return here. Whether referring to the state of the climate/world- or something less potent- you cannot deny the sense of purpose and meaning: in-between these events, we all need someone to love. Being the shortest track on the album (it clocks in at 1:18), everything is dealt with quickly and succinctly; the core belief is thus: every person longs and needs love. It is impressive just how effective the sprite track is: building up so much emotion and grandeur, it hits you instantly and leaves you wanting more- as has become synonymous with the songs on the album. Keen to quell your thirst, A Map Made from My Bones ends Hinterland. Once more, we are treated to a hymnal and ethereal intro. Less emphatic and stated as on Ww/Me; nether-the-less it perfectly opens the song. After a modicum of refrain, the song bursts and bursts: a pulsating and awe-struck sonic rises; the energy flourishes suddenly- our frontman has some choice words. His love breaks easily it seems: fragile and frail, she seems to shatter at the slightest provocation- dumbstruck and alone, she is in a place she does not know. With a typically defiant and urgent vocal, the song’s suggestions inspire vivid thoughts. Whether referencing an ex-love (or a friend), our frontman advises “Don’t be so afraid“: compelling her to keep going, he will provide a map from his bones. Earlier numbers have looked at loneliness and recrimination, yet it seems that the album will end with something redemptive: the crystal-boned heroine looked like she will smash into pieces; our frontman offers some form of helping hand- his words are hot-bloodied and filled with emotion. A fitting swan song, A Map Made from My Bones provides axiomatic ‘Bedroom Hour components: an emphatic and dizzying composition; a huge and powerful vocal- combined with compelling lyrics )that the listener can empathise with).
‘Hinterland’ roughly translates to ‘an area lying beyond what is visible or known’; the lands and recesses away from the coast that few will ever witness. It is a fitting title for an album filled with treasure and far-off islands. From the opening numbers- that spoke of oceans and open waters- through to the title track’s climatic messages; waters, islands and distance feature heavily. This is not just employed literally: emotional seas and depths are explored; those thoughts and feelings that are buried dark are investigated and highlighted. Hinterland is an album with a huge amount of depth, fascination and nuance: the songs are immediate and urgent; revealing new layers upon each new listen. The perfect tracklist means that the emotions and weight is well-balanced: the quality never drops and heavier moments are not packed together too tightly. This all leads to an L.P. that seems to get better as it goes on: a lot of albums lose edge towards the end (Hinterland contains some of the best material here)- it leaves you wanting more when the final songs finishes up. Before I conclude, it is worth mention the band themselves. Drummond shows himself to be one of the most impressive and powerful vocalists there is: his huge and captivating voice makes each song sound essential and filled with conviction. Whilst there are hints of Guy Garvey and others, you cannot deny Drummond has a unique set of pipes: he can run a range of emotions and colours; go from soft to overawed- few modern-day singers have such a compelling voice. Hinterland would be weaker in lesser hands: it is the conviction and sense of purpose Drummond puts forth that means you re-visit songs again and again- keen to witness the man put his heart on his sleeve. Payne’s vocals add huge weight and support: it is rare to find one great singer in a band, let alone two- they remind me of Wild Beasts in that sense. When Drummond and Payne combine, some of the album’s most electrifying moments are elicited: the guitar playing is phenomenal and stunning throughout- Payne is able to say so much with few notes. Seamlessly limitless, he ensures that each of the eleven tracks (on the album) are stamped with his authoritative guitar notes: bringing a sense of vitality and emotion to every track. Cooper’s bass and Cosham’s percussion are mighty twin pillars. The bass keeps everything in check and controlled: ensuring that the songs move forward- but do not wander off- the performances are wonderfully assured and confident. Cosham’s ecstatic and potent drum work keeps the band’s back strong and firm, and the duo act as guardians: they make sure order is kept and everything is disciplined- in addition to adding incredible passion and emotion throughout the album. With Dudley’s keys and synths. providing excitement, headrush and strength (plus some wonderful hints of Joy Division), the entire band are tight and impressive throughout. There are no weak or lesser tracks to be discovered: each song provides something remarkable and memorable. Few musicians could create something so confident and essential (so early in their careers): The Bedroom Hour instill an immense amount of impact into each of Hinterland‘s eleven gems.
Having concluded three previous reviews of The Bedroom Hour, I always come to the same decision: here is a band that has a huge future ahead; that know who they- the inspiring and compelling music should be listened to and enjoyed by everyone. Today is no exception: Hinterland is testament to a group that have no intention of retreating into the shadows- the band’s trajectory will see them go from strength to strength. Their previous singles (and work) impressed me hugely: the depth of sound and stunning sensations presented not only stay inside your brain, but connect with something deep down. The guys have worked tirelessly to ensure that their current L.P. is a fitting representation of their true potential- on that front, they should have no fear. Contained of no lesser tracks and moments, the album is a huge triumph from five men that are among the most impressive musicians in the U.K. The band realm is a hugely competitive and busy network; the likelihood of huge market share is slim at best- many acts fail to overcome the hurdles and limitations put in place. One of the biggest issues- when bands fail to make an impression- is the sounds on offer: few take the chance to differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd. The fact that bands such as Crystal Seagulls are on the rise is that their music is inclusive and universal: they want everyone to listen and be enraptured by their songs. The Bedroom Hour have ensured that their future will be prosperous and assured: their music is intelligent and varied; their songs are packed with insight and fascination- you come away from listening with an inspired mind. It is clear that more music will be coming from the group (in years to come), so it is important that as many people as possible connect with them- few contemporaries have such a drive and sense of urgency and passion. I know that the guys will not rest on their laurels or take it too easy (just yet): they have gigs and promotion to complete; plenty of faces and ears to seduce- they will want to take their music as far and wide as they can. It doesn’t really matter what your taste in music is: if you prefer things to be heavier or softer- if you want to find something that ticks all of the boxes, you need to investigate the band. With every step and move, they are building on what has come before: ensuing albums and E.P.s are likely to show fresh inspiration and showcase new tales and developments. For now, the Uxbridge band of brothers have unveiled something that is likely to soundtrack many people’s summers: Hinterland is an album that should be blared from car stereos (as you cruise through town); accompany get-togethers and parties; seduce quiet moments- where you need to think things through. If you have not gone onto iTunes to pre-order your copy…
DO so now.
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