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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Under A Banner - Close to the Clouds - Album Review

Under A Banner -  Close to the Clouds  - Album Review

Review by Tom Coombs

Under A Banner have been around for about three years and have released their new album ‘Close to the Clouds’ with the help of their fans with a fundraising pledge.  They describe the music they create as powerful, passionate and poetic alternative rock which they certainly do but is more on the Alt-Folk side of rock.  A fine blend of Folk and heavy rock riffs and hooks, the vocals, added strings and some of the guitar work really give that folk feel.

The band consists of Adam Broadhurst (vocals and guitars), Jonathan ‘Jip’ Price (guitars and backing vocals), Simon Hill (bass guitar), Tim Wilson (drums, percussion and backing vocals) and Kat Davis (keyboards), so this is certainly a force of top musicians.  And what they create together is certainly a labour of love.

‘Close to the Clouds’ is the second album for the band and the blend of rock and folk carry on with this thirteen track beauty.  It kicks of nicely with ‘Out Like a Light’ which is a great way to start, with its folk melody but played loud and proud gives this a top sea shanty style that really is full of energy.  This is all slowed down in the second track ‘Impossible Day’ which rolls straight into the lyrics and very distinct voice of Adam Broadhurst.  Singing in his own accent is nice to hear (no American or Irish twang here) and brings me back to listening to some of the legends like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant who did delve in to the folk genre over the years.

The title track ‘Close to the Clouds’ changes it up again, with a electronic chilled start, which makes me think of being on a foggy harbour all alone before the music does start.  The rhythm guitar in this is solid and heavy even though acoustic but then heavier electric distorted guitar comes in with the percussion.  This track really holds onto the Rock and is a bit heavier than the tracks that precede it.  It is certainly an energy filled four minutes of pleasure for your ears, the sound Under A Banner have created is superb.

Now you remember I mentioned Page and Plant earlier, just hear the opening riff in track ‘Numbers’, see told you I was right.  This track is more folk filled to start but rolls between the two genres throughout.  It is a fast track and even though still on the four minute mark you wouldn’t know it.  The vocals and music are all at a high pace and it is a true toe tapping experience to listen to.
Even though Under A Banner are obviously happy with the music genre they are in, they still love to mix it a bit, each song only has similar tones within them but they are all quite different and all have their own feel. From ‘How Martyrs are Made’, through to ‘English Soul’ and ‘Don’t Give A...’ none of them are the same which just shows the real talent that the band has.

There are slower tracks on the album as well as fast folk shanty styles, like ‘City Alone’, and this is nicely followed by a heavy track ‘Bullet Rain’.  Now I do pick a favourite track off any album and this time for me it is ‘I Hate this Place’, it just has a great rhythm and is just a delight to listen to (plus I find myself signing along).

If you like Rock and you like some folk, then you can’t go wrong with this great second album ‘Close to the Clouds’ which is available now on iTunes and Bandcamp.  The music of ‘Under A Banner’ is certainly unique and is great to have so much quality music coming out in the UK now.  I defiantly recommend this album; it is fun, fast, powerful and passionate from beginning to end.

5 Stars – Powerful from the start and by the end you’re the one Close to the Clouds

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