Blitz Kids

Vagrants & Vagabonds

Written by: TL on 01/08/2011 00:24:09

Considering that bands by the names of Lozt Prophetz and Kids In Glass Houses are some of the biggest success stories to ever come out of Welsh rock, I guess there's a pattern to be spotted in the next bunch of hopeful's naming their band something as unfortunate as Blitz Kids. Either that, or they're somehow inspired by a group of people credited with starting New Romanticism, but hearing that the music on the quintet's debut LP "Vagrants & Vagabonds" seems fairly disconnected from said movement, I'm going to guess that the name is simply a result of poor judgment.

If potential listeners can move past that however - and I don't see that they couldn't, considering that bands like Young Guns and My Passion have fans - there's no reason to think that Blitz Kids won't also achieve noteworthy success. My own friendly mockery at least stops at the band's name, as there's no cause to point and laugh at "Vagrants & Vagabonds", which I coincidentally find to have a good deal in common with Young Guns' "All Our Kings Are Dead" and with the recent Lower Than Atlantis album "World Record".

Similarly to those records, "Vagrants & Vagabonds" offers high-powered modern rock, heavy not only with melodies, but also with sounds from the deeper and darker end of the musical scale. The music provides a muscular backdrop for the voice of frontman Joe James, who sounds a bit like a young British Anthony Raneri (Bayside), and who, at least in my humble opinion, runs away with the show for most of the record's duration.

The reason for this however, could possibly be the limited production values the band imposed upon itself, when opting to record the album in a mere 48 hours in London's Red Bull Studios. The result is an organic, minimalistic sound, with James' vocals squarely centred in the front of the expression, and it lends considerable credibility to the band that they've managed to make a record that sounds as well as this does in this way. Personally, I admit that I have too much appreciation for the results men of vision can produce given enough time in a studio to be blown entirely off my feet by this feat, but still, the band doesn't seem much impeded by the circumstances and that is at least mildly admirable...

... Even if it does seem to make itself heard in single "Story", which continually strikes me as being a bit odd rhythmically, yet I guess it also imbues the quite catchy number with extra character. I would probably not have had guest singer Aled Phillips (Kids In Glass Houses) come back in the last chorus if I were in the producer's chair, as he sounds better in the verse he first appears in, but again, this could be a matter of individual taste. As much can also be said about what I personally consider to be its main drawback, namely the drop-off in quality towards the end of the record. After a remarkably strong start with "To The Lions", "Photograph" and "Story" all appearing as winners, it's a bit disappointing to find that the level of quality is somewhat more erratic moving on. "Dear & Departed" and closer "When To Say When" have good moments, but otherwise, I find the remaining songs to be slightly below the band's top level.

They're not flat out bad though, as much is certain, rather they're just symptoms of Blitz Kids having some length yet to go before they can contend with the top crop of young British hot-shot bands. I suspect they may have fared differently if their first effort had been as well-produced a record as the earlier mentioned "All Our Kings Are Dead", but this is mere speculation, and on the flipside, a lot of people might actually give Blitz Kids more admiration for choosing this more challenging and less commercial road. Whatever your disposition though, I think you should agree that they've fared at least pretty well under the circumstances.

Download: Photograph, Story, To The Lions
For The Fans Of: Lower Than Atlantis, Young Guns, Burn The Fleet
Listen: myspace.com/blitzkidsuk

Release Date 11.07.2011
Hassle Records

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