Wednesday 30th August 2017
1. Miss Haversham
2. Auld Reekie Blues
3. Bang Seray
5. Too Tough To Die
7. Monkey See
8. Black Cat
9. Who Am I
10. Time Machine
11. Juliet Knows
12. Black Flowers
Reverend & The Makers are a band that instantly take me back to my days as a student. If I was to honestly sum up University life, it wouldn’t be anything predictable like too much drinking and partying; in fact it would quite simply be indie music. Placing a soundtrack to those days you would find me listening to the likes of Hard-Fi, The Pigeon Detectives, Razorlight, Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes to name a few. Here I find myself all these years later and Reverend & The Makers are due to release their sixth studio album on the 22nd September, which is a great feat for any band, especially after frontman John McClure announced back in 2008 that he was done with the industry and quitting music.
Previous studio album “Mirrors” saw the band decamping to Jamaica, so this time the band decided to continue with their travelling theme and recorded their latest release “The Death Of A King” whilst in Thailand. The video to their lead single “Too Tough To Die” is an extract from a film that was shot whilst out in Thailand, and follows the band as they arrive in a remote fishing village to record and film, however things take an unexpected twist when on the day of arrival the controversial king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, dies.
John says that: “We loved the recording abroad thing after the last album. Gives the albums a flavour of their own and so we thought we’d give Thailand a try, take the family and all that. I’ve been there before and Pete and Carl raved about Bang Saray so we took all the gang out there. Loads of us. It had finally got back to that big collective I’d always wanted to create. Having long since given up the notion of being number One, we resolved to just make tunes we liked. Ryan’s mrs played bass for a tune, the wives and kids sang backing vocals. Being so far away from home and my family (Laura couldn’t come as she was pregnant) meant I was starting to go a bit mental by the end. I kinda feel like some of that comes thru in the tunes a bit too. I’m kind of off trying to recreate ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’. I’m 35, I have a new set of concerns. I see the world in a different way now so I’m trying to be true to who I am today.”
Listening to opening track “Miss Haversham” I can’t help thinking that it doesn’t sound anything like the band that I remember from back in the days, when I would constantly listen to “Open Your Window” and “He Said He Loved Me” back-to-back on repeat. However, John is a man of vision and is set on staying true to himself by creating music that he likes; plus, jumping back in to a band that I haven’t listened to since their early material, it was quite naive of me not to think about how much a band would have developed their sound over this period of time.
Sticking with it, I take a shine to “Auld Reekie Blues” where vocals are shared with fellow band member Ed Cosens, which has a great soulful vibe to it and uplifting hooks. Opening to the sound of bongos and followed by a drawing of the violin “Bang Seray” is an enlightening track that has clearly been inspired by the culture experienced whilst in Thailand, and is a subtle respite from the intricate arrangement the rest of the album goes through. “Too Tough To Die” is still the one I enjoy the most, and is the stand-out track; which probably has something to do with the heavy bass guitar work that I find myself most comfortable with, and is reminiscent of early Reverend & The Makers.
It doesn’t take much time to work through the album as 10 of the tracks are less than 3-minutes in duration, with “Carlene” being a minute long piano ballad. With each track taking a different turn from the next and transitioning between arrangements, there are no two tracks that sound the same. “Monkey See, Monkey Do” has Liam Gallagher written all over it, where as “Black Cat” sounds as though it’s come straight out of a musical with its brass band in tow. Final track “Black Flowers” has the most beautiful opening, and for a moment I’m reminded of elements from “Daydreamin” by Lupe Fiasco, until Laura McClure comes in with her evocative vocals; it’s a 9-minute track of complete variation.
With all 5 previous album releases entering the UK Top 20 Albums chart, I have no doubt that the eclectic “Death Of A King” will reach successful heights of its own, whilst renewing the original spirit of the band, and continuing to gain momentum with each single released.