Leatherface

The Stormy Petrel

Written by: PP on 06/04/2010 20:53:56

Leatherface have been playing music for over 20 years now, having released at least a couple of underground cult classics during the years which heavily influenced Hot Water Music and Dillinger Four among other now-legendary bands. They're from Sunderland, UK, despite sounding like any Middle America punk band with those characteristically warm and raspy vocals, which goes a long way explaining why Leatherface have never risen above the underground cult status. Some may remember 1991's fantastic "Mush" - proclaimed to be one of the best punk rock albums ever recorded in many corners of the web - but in the last 6 years the band has been awfully quiet. In fact, "The Stormy Petrel" is their first new album since 2004, and although it's my first Leatherface full length, it tells the story of a band who has a back catalogue full of great releases.

Having sampled some older releases by the band, Frankie Stubbs in 2010 sounds a lot more tired and smoky than the fierce, grungy Frankie Stubbs back on their 1991 release. So at first, you may feel like I did: he can't quite put enough strength into his voice to lift his vocals above bland. But the more you listen to his nostalgically tuned voice, the more you start loving tracks like "God Is Dead", the very Hot Water Music-sounding "Nutcase", or the fantastic "Broken" which recalls the guitar tone from the original grunge bands while injecting melodic punk rock into the song. You may also notice how similar the melody dynamics are to Crime In Stereo's latest release "I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone", or anything really by Samiam and other seminal bands that sound more or less like Hot Water Music. The songs have that quiet, medium tempo feel which sounds explosive without need for tempo switches, screaming or any stuff like that. Just soulful, passionate vocals on top of well thought out, purposefully faded melody lines.

There aren't many weaknesses to "The Stormy Petrel", but if I were to name a couple, I'd have to go for the slightly weaker last third of the album in comparison to the occasionally magnificent tracks before it, and that Stubbs' voice in fact does sound a little old and tired on the record. That's not to say I'm questioning the passion behind the music, because I'm definitely not, and some may even prefer his more smooth style as opposed to his bark from the past. It's just a minor stumbling point for people who'd like to hear a little more direct approach on the vocals. Nothing to worry about though, because overall "The Stormy Petrel" should be essential listening for any fans of the bands listed in this review.

7

Download: Nutcase, Broken, God Is Dead, Hope
For the fans of: Crime In Stereo, Hot Water Music, Bear Vs Shark, Samiam
Listen: Myspace

Release date 23.02.2010
Big Ugly Fish Recordings / No Idea Records

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