A bit of a Frankenstein’s Monster UK imports The Heavy bring with them a curious mix of Gothic-gospel, funk, soul and grungy guitars that work in perfect unison on their latest release The Glorious Dead via Counter Records/Ninja Tune. More than just flash guitar and clever one-liners The Heavy bring top-notch musicianship and storytelling soul that would have fit in perfectly at STAX.
“Can’t Play Dead” opens the album with horror movie intros and an ominous build-up that culminates in a rythem-heavy beat demanding the listener’s attention. Lead singer Kevin Swany wails with surprising gusto but manages also to softly ease the song along when appropriate, a well-chosen song to open the album it provides a road-map for the remainder of the album; a little bit of funk, a lot of guitar, killer drums and organ and brass that will blow your hair back.
The Heavy’s “What Makes a Good Man”
Heading straight into “Curse Me Good” the tone is light with an uptempo sound, the lyrics provide a surprising contrast, “don’t you smile at my face/spit on my back/do you kiss your mother with a mouth like that?/love it/leave it/it’s all good for me “. Despite the dark undertones the band manages to turn this into something of a sing-a-long-song that will leave the listener wanting more, immediately.
“What Makes a Good Man” is the most commercial or mainstream song on the album, and it is phenomenal, no small wonder Miller Lite picked it up for a national campaign. Starting with simple drums and grungy guitar licks it quickly becomes a sexy drawl, Swany’s swagger jumps out from the speakers and the gospel choir back-up adds an element of fullness that simply puts this song over-the-top. The beauty of the song is its simplicity, but it doesn’t seem simple with the many layers and breaks it evolves over three minutes and 45 seconds into a foot-stomping good time. (It is here that that Chris Ellul’s drumming can be most easily appreciated, but his solid sound drives this entire album, be sure to listen closely as he does some amazing work.)
The album captures the best parts of funk, soul, and rock n’ roll in a neat package and delivers with a punch; and as good as the album is the live show is even better. Opening for Lucero in a Miller Lite sponsored tour of Ohio, The Heavy won over many a new fan with their live show; Swany interacts and cajoles the crowd as a master showman and the band (complete with brass section) is up on stage having the time of their lives, a show not to miss if they come to a town near you.
Available in the usual digital formats The Heavy has also made their material available on vinyl and should definitely be at the top of your list to look into.
by Meredith Underhill
OurVinyl | Senior Writer