The Black Country, New Road saxophonist/flautist/vocalist talks us through a turbulent but triumphant year for the band
Black Country, New Road started the year with the announcement that original lead singer Isaac Wood would be leaving the band, which came the week before the release of their astounding sophomore album Ants from Up There. While an international run of shows were being suddenly rearranged, the album was met with widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike. Just three months later they were back on tour again with an entirely new setlist, with writing duties spread around the group. The group have had a relentless touring schedule since then, which has included their first US dates as well as a spot at Fuji Rock in Japan, and their latest output is the latest testament to their unparalleled ability to adapt and reinvent themselves.
Lewis says of the time, “This year has been a very strange one. We released an album that we didn’t play live then proceeded to write a whole new set and have had the opportunity to play it all over the world. Big highlights have to be going to Japan to play Fuji Rock festival and also getting to tour the US. What a crazy year.”
Albums of the Year:
Versions Of Modern Performance – Horsegirl
I’d been listening to Horsegirl ever since they put out Sea Life Sandwich Boy and Ballroom Dance Scene in 2020 so I was really excited to hear their debut record. It was really powerful on the first listen but the more I went back to it the more details came into focus. Obviously this can be said for a lot of music but, for me, the sign of really good compositions is when you get past the aesthetic layer of production and you realise how strong the songwriting is. I feel like this album could have been performed, recorded and produced in so many different styles and each would still be just as engaging as the next. They make music far far beyond their years and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. What a cool bunch of guys.
A Light For Attracting Attention – The Smile
Not me starting this ‘The Smile’ review by talking about Radiohead but Radiohead are a band that I’ve never quite got which I can only assume is my fault maybe? Anyway, I LIKE this album a lot. The compositions are extremely intricate and the three of them give some amazing performances, especially Tom Skinner who I think was a great summer signing for Yorke & Greenwood FC. A particular highlight on the album for me is ‘A Hairdryer’. Also noticed when I was on a plane recently that the air stewards referred to the life jackets as having ‘A light for attracting attention’ on them, after this I turned to my friends and said ‘like the smile album’. They all found my input to the dialogue very interesting.
The Ruby Cord – Richard Dawson
This man can do anything and I will lap it up. I didn’t manage to catch any screenings of the music video for his 41 minute album starter ‘The Hermit’ but it made an amazing opening to the record. Apart from that track I loved ‘Museum’ also. The production on the album sounds absolutely amazing and would love for one of our records to sound that good. I haven’t really had enough time with this album yet so I’m not sure if I can say much more than that but it had to go in the writeup!
Song of the Year
‘Mirror’ – Kendrick Lamar
This is an absolute banger and also a great closer to what I thought was a good album. Never fails to get me dancing in the kitchen.
Best Live Show
Kiran Leonard, The Ivy House, Nunhead, 17/11/22
This gig was absolutely elite. Kiran was performing with a string band, including double bass, 2 electric guitars in nashville tuning, an electric guitar in standard tuning and what I believe was a Cittern (could be wrong on that one). The sound they all made together was unbelievably overwhelming and Kiran’s songs are so brilliant. I just stood there with a stupid smile on my face as I let this huge sound wash over me. Amazing music performed by amazing musicians.
Stay tuned for the rest of our series Stay tuned throughout December for end of year reviews from more of our favourite artists!