Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Heavy - The Glorious Dead

I am very surprised that I have yet to review either of the Heavy's previous two albums, the great debut, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire or the 2nd, The House That Dirt Built. I can only assume that is because, while they are one of the new breed of soul bands that are tearing up the world (along with Sharon Jones & Black Joe Lewis), they are a bit more diverse and less easily pigeon-holed (though I love those other acts). The Heavy have a strong soul/r'n'b base, but add a bit of hip-hop and other modern edges to the mix, as well.

The opening of this album, "Can't Play Dead", is a good example. This is a hard & heavy, sweaty soul-rocker, but has distinct hip-hop grooves, as well. Not so much that it is obnoxious or overdone, and it is a highly musical song, but there is a flavoring. The band gets more melodic with "Curse Me Good", which, other than a more modern recorded sound, could have been a Motown hit! "What Makes a Good Man" is the latest single and a damn good choice - super catchy chorus with fab female backing vocals and an insistent beat that is sure to get ya movin'!

A little less successful (though not bad) is "The Big Bad Wolf", which is less Motown, more modern monotony, though that is a bit harsher than I mean to be. The string-laden ballad for the record is "Be Mine" followed by more strings on the slowish stomper "Same Ol'", which even has a bit of a Beatles-esque influence to it. A bit of a schizophrenic change of pace comes in the form of "Just My Luck", an up-tempo garage-rocker that randomly breaks down to a slow-paced tune before recharging itself and, a bit bizarrely, adding a Tijuana Brass-styled trumpet!

"The Lonesome Road" is a bit dirge-like and not supremely memorable, but "Don't Say Nothing" picks up the pace again and is a traditionally catchy Heavy number! The group takes a stab at an Otis Redding feel with "Blood Dirt Love Stop" for a deceptively simple ending number.

The packaging is pretty damn stellar - a quality cardboard "gatefold" cover with a hard CD sleeve (with a psychedelic design) and a card stock fold out poster with the lyrics on the back! Pretty phenomenal!

Overall, another fine release from the Heavy - they are a quality act and tons of fun live, as well!