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Black Country; New Road - For the First Time CD (album) cover


Black Country; New Road

Post Rock/Math rock

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siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars While the internet has allowed artists from once unthinkable geographic regions to spawn interesting new music, former musical meccas such as London, England still seem to be going strong with new generations of musicians gathering to catch the next wave of whatever is en vogue. Here is one of England's newest up and coming artists called BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD which formed in 2018 out of the ashes of a band called Nervous Conditions but due to multiple sexual assault allegations against member Connor Browne, the members of Tyler Hyde (bass), Isaac Wood aka The Guest (vocals, guitar), Lewis Evans aka Good With Parents (saxophone), Charlie Wayne (drums) and May Kershaw (drums) left and created BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD and rarely does a band hit the ground running with a sound that stands out from the millions of bands that exist these days.

Just recently released on 5 February 2021, FOR THE FIRST TIME showcases an innovative mix of post-punk, free jazz, math rock and a style of post-rock most often compared to Slint's "Spiderland" but what sets this album truly apart from any other is the addition of klezmer which adds a festive jocularity to the otherwise post-rock processions that implement heavy doses of post-punk guitar dissonance that in tandem with episodic bouts of free jazz can resemble the irreverent skronk of 80s no wave or the detached free-flowing reverie of Maudlin of the Well's more contemplative moments. The addition of Georgia Ellergy on the violin who has played in the pop band Jockstrap as well as the wild Happy Bagel Klezmer Orchestra adds a contrasting heft to FOR THE FIRST TIME unlike any other rock album i've heard outside the more experimental realms of techy progressive rock that is.

After the fittingly named introduction of "Instrumental" which sets the overall mood for the album, the true distinguishing sound of BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD comes from lead singer Isaac Wood whose paranoid fueled lyrics and half-spoken, half-sung singing style that brings David Byrne's similar outbursts in the Talking Heads to mind. Although Wood also has channeled his inner Bryan Ferry as a hopeless romantic trying to navigate a world gone made. For an experimental rock album FOR THE FIRST TIME successfully straddles the world of post-rock which provides the cyclical loops that in the case of "Sunglasses" sprawls on to almost 10 minutes of playing time but fortified with post-rock guitar heft providing the sinewy textures for the klezmer and crafty atmospheres to weave around while Wood provides the perfect counterpoints with his moody oft unstable vocal contributions.

We can thank the UK label Ninja Tune for bringing BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD out of the seas of Bandcamp artists. Although this label that has been around since 1990 and specializes in downtempo and nu jazz releases, they clearly have their ears on the pulse of the modern music market and recognize a winning stylistic approach when they hear it. The beauty of FOR THE FIRST TIME is that it perfectly balances the constituent sum of the parts so deftly as to perfectly align them so that they reflect a completely unique display of music that transcends the influences that have been incorporated. While many have compared this to "Spiderland," in reality this album goes far beyond that album and not being the biggest fan of Slint's so-called magnum opus, i personally find this album to be a much more interesting listening experience as it adds so many more elements and juggles them with a circus performance precision unlike many first timers these days. This is indeed a band that has crafted a winning formula in this third decade of the 21st century and hopefully will continue to do so.

Report this review (#2842151)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2022 | Review Permalink
4 stars For The First Time is a unique and promising debut album from relatively new Prog/Art Rock act Black Country, New Road. The album is what i would describe as if Spiderland by Slint was made by a Prog band in the 70s, BCNR is a crossover between Post Rock and Prog Rock and here it really shows, the Slint influence bleeds all over this album with some King Crimson and even some Van Der Graaf Generator like elements here. Probably my favorite thing about this record is the comic book like writing style it has especially on tracks like Sunglasses and Science Fair, that combined with the super unique sounding vocals of Isaac Wood you get a really interesting album especially with how eclectic it is taking elements of Post Rock, Prog, Punk, Jazz and even Klezmer. Safe to say this album and band will defiy the 2020s
Report this review (#2934562)
Posted Monday, June 19, 2023 | Review Permalink

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