‘Muster’ from Headsticks - music to make a difference(September 15, 2014)
After all these years, when I receive an album from an unknown (to me) band, there still remains that sense of eagerness yet always tinged with a certain jaded weariness. Will it grab my attention or will it be the same old same old? Will it be instant attraction or a slow-grower? Recently, I received a copy of Headsticks debut album ‘Muster’, and this time anticipation was rewarded in bucket-loads. Apparently, springing to life in 2012 from the wreckage of previous band incarnations, Headsticks deliver gutsy, hard-driving folk punk with a cutting edge. This is music that assails your ears with the power of a nitro-fuelled, eight-cylinder hemi on full song.
The ingredients are all there – wild drums laying down an intense artillery barrage, bass crashing through like a heavy truck on amphetamine, the thrash of frenetic guitar licks, rapid harmonica cuts and attention-grabbing vocals. This is full-on, scruff of the neck music that will drag you along or hurl you out of the way. Me, I jumped on and went along for the ride. The songs are riddled with catchy hooks and wickedly addictive choruses, acerbic lyrics and a sizeable dose of sarcastic irreverence. There’s acidic social commentary, biting political comment and caustic observational interpretation, no fear of altercation, nothing toned down, no quarter asked for or given.
From the opening scrutiny of ‘Flatline Town’ through the relentless momentum of ‘Wishing’ and muscular rush of ‘Fanatics’ to the more reflective concern of ‘Teenage Widow’ there’s passion, unremitting commitment and challenging questions that demand your attention. Among the seething thunder and cataclysm, the tracks that hit hardest include the intensity of ‘You’re Killing Me America’, the hard hitting truth of ‘Two Sides’, the biting concentration of ‘World Away’ and what must be a regular live anthem, ‘Every Dog Will Have Its Day’.
Headsticks are Andrew Tranter (vocals, harmonica) Stephen Dunn (guitar, backing vocals) Nick Bayes (bass, backing vocals) and Tom Carter (drums) plus on selected tracks on ‘Muster’ are Esther Brennan (backing vocals) and Šárka Skučková (violin) – together they make music to make a difference. You can find Headsticks here: www.headsticks.co.uk
Reviewer: Tim Carroll