[Recommended if you like: The Black Keys, Jack White, Arcade Fire]
In 2011, almost out of nowhere, a band called Leagues released a self-titled EP with 3 songs (Leagues was also featured on the January Back of the Rack article/album). From the first listen to the short EP, you instantly wanted to hear more from them as soon as possible. Unfortunately for those immediate fans, it took nearly 2 years before there was a proper release. With the help of a PledgeMusic campaign, Leagues self-released their debut album, You Belong Here. Comprised of singer Thad Cockrell, guitarist Tyler Burkum , and drummer Jeremy Luito, the trio cuts right to the chase with these hard hitting songs.
From the opening drum beat and dirty toned guitar riff, you know “Spotlight” is a great choice for an opening song. With Cockrell’s soaring tenor vocals, the song’s lyrics are easy to follow and beg you to sing along with them. The title track “You Belong Here” continues on with the perfect drum beats, great guitar tone, and fantastic bass work. The chorus belts out in an anthemic shout: “You belong here, we’ve been waiting so long.”
Leagues’ “You Belong Here”
“Haunted,” one of the songs from their prior EP, reaches you quickly from a lyrical standpoint. “You came to me in a summer dream, you came to me in a mystery. All alone on a desert road at night. I saw you in a motel room, I found my way but I do not have a clue. All along, I felt you deep inside.” The emotive lyrics of the opening verse bring the song title to life, and the ringing chorus certainly helps pound the point home: “Everybody has a heart worth breaking, everybody has someone that got away. Everybody has a love they’re looking for.”
The song that will keep you hooked in the second half of the album is most definitely “Magic.” The simple but stellar guitar riff and bass line that runs throughout the song reminds you of something you’d hear from the great song-smith Jack White. The soaring falsetto vocals of Thad Cockrell are what make the song, though. The simple but powerful chorus make the song one that will be sung at every live show.
The album ends with two ballads, “Friendly Fire” being the most poignant of the two. Starting with piano chords and vocals, the song tells a story of love and heartbreak: “I wasn’t fighting with you, I was fighting for you. I was trying to do what I could do. And if it came across wrong, that wasn’t my intention. Sometimes I come across too strong, I think I just failed to mention. And if I ever hurt you, that was never my desire. You’ve been wounded by my friendly fire.” By the end of song, swelling guitars roll in and add a heart-rending emotion to an already sad song.
The album has already seen some recognition from the likes of MTV and Esquire, and for very good reason. This album is filled with one toe-tapping song after another. Here’s to hoping another great independent artists gets some well deserved recognition.
Written by Matthew Moore
OurVinyl | Contributor