By Kane Power (@ElHeavio)
So often, trendy bands are overrated. Playing a style just far enough from mainstream to be considered cool or edgy provides an easy leap for a large amount of people to make, and so often, what could have been a good band if left to play shitty basement venues for another year becomes something utterly boring; tailor made for Buzzfeed ‘best-of’ playlists. How often do we hear the ‘next big thing’ release an album of over-produced A&R guidelines and have it rammed down our throats until the money has been recouped, only for the ‘not cool anymore’ band to be tossed aside like last night’s sticky Jager bomb glass?
And so, from a swell of live show hype emerge an exciting ‘next big thing’ band going by the name Blacklisters. Northern? Yes. Trendy? Kind of. Overrated? Not Blacklisters. Oh no. These guys are outrageously good. Proper good. Blacklisters are the real. Fucking. Deal. Make no mistake.
New album ‘Adult’ has a grit and honestly that’s largely lacking in modern music. It’s genuinely, undoubtedly aggressive, totally void of pretentiousness or even consideration of pretense. It’s like a really good punk record on half speed (it literally sounds like that at times), sneering and arrogant, real and confrontational; like walking through a mouthy housing estate. Blacklisters portray danger; nothing of what they do feels safe.
The mood and feel of this record are created through tone and movement that supersedes the riffs or drumming or yelling. There’s an overwhelming atmosphere of working class dissatisfaction, of upset and disappointment. At what exactly I’m not entirely sure, maybe everything, maybe nothing, but the point is that it doesn’t matter. Blacklisters make themselves very clear through their use of emotion alone, they have a knack of finding a way through an idea wihile avoiding the pitfalls of cliché; everything they do feels totally inspired.
Stand-out track “The Sadness Of Axl Rose” has a noticeable Nirvana influence, a wildness and unrestrained, open vulnerability. There’s a heavy grunge influence overall, from the raw production style and sound to the slightly ironic riffs, played with a sarcastic menace and exploding into extended, rhythmic violence. I can almost hear the post-show stage destruction.
Other highlights include ‘Power Ballad’, a pulsing, growling, infectious noise, ‘I Knock Myself Out’, a frantic, heavy slice of hardcore and ‘Priss’, a song so vitriolic that even this jaded critic was forced to admit that this ‘next big thing’ may actually be just that. Blacklisters are one of the best bands I’ve heard in years. Maybe the best of the lot.
There’s a growing movement of really good bands coming out of Leeds and at the centre of it seems to be Suburban Home Studios, where ‘Adult’ was recorded; keeping grim company with the likes of Hookworms, Eagulls, Hawk Eyes, Pulled Apart By Horses, Drenge and That Fucking Tank. Leeds seems like the place to be, but if art reflects life, what is life like in Leeds at the moment?