HTJ are a band that I’ve kept close tabs on since their first demo through to this, their debut album. The band’s last release ‘If You Take Anything’ was a mini-album which showcased just how diverse this band can be and it left me itching to hear what they could pull off on a full length – to say I was merely fulfilled would be a massive understatement.
The 5-piece from West London formed on the premise of not being restrained by genres and scenes in their writing style and it’s certainly something that’s more than paid off as ‘600 Miles From…’ is an album which nods in one direction then launches off in another, failing to sit still for more than a minute but without ever sounding forced or even slightly disjointed; a definite sign of a solid release if ever there was one.
The thirteen track album kicks off with the powerful ‘Roadside’ with Brian’s commanding and authorative vocals juxtaposed against a punishing snare drum before the guitars come blazing in with a stonking dirty rock riff. The track is short and sharp but gives you an idea of what’s to come; aggression, melody and generally an intelligently written collection of songs which showcases some brilliant musicianship. As I suggested in the first paragraph, HTJ are band to which diversity is no stranger; the band switch from their harder influences in tracks like ‘Statues’ and ‘Every Passing Minute’ with their soaring guitar lines and balls out vocal efforts to chirpy guitar pop in ‘Monument’ and ‘If My Best…’, a pair of songs which contain more melodies than you can shake a stick at.
Although there are no dud efforts on here at all, (which is an achievement for an album that’s just under an hour in length in itself) there are a couple of real gems I haven’t yet mentioned: ‘Making Movies’ is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year without question; I dare you not to become addicted to it for if the guitars weaving in and out of each other beautifully don’t get you itching the chorus is will certainly have you hooked as it’s pretty much to die for. The album’s epic closer ‘As Though Nothing Happened’ is what the band have been ending their live set with for a while and leaving crowds picking their jaws from off the floor, as it is simply a modern rock behemoth in waiting; it just sounds so massive you can’t help but feel dwarfed by it.
HTJ demonstrate a more low key side in the middle of the album which again shows not only how diverse the band can be but how well they can execute it too. It’s hard to believe it’s still the same voice that virtually tears your ears apart on one track and is barely more than whispering on the next. There also seems to be a slight concept built into the album perhaps based upon a horror B-Movie if you take a quick glance at the artwork, lyrics and samples on some songs; it’s a nice touch and just shows a lot of thought has gone into making every element of the album.
I won’t beat about the bush anymore; buy this fucking album. It’s essential. It’s vital. It’s a definite contender for album of the year.
In At The Deep End Records