The Futureheads

With the first hit of the drum, pluck of the bass and strum of the guitar, for a split second, I hear the opening of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” (gotta throw in an obligatory reference to today’s once-in-a-century date). All you rockers, don’t get your hopes up. The stadium rock doesn’t continue, at least not in an AC/DC sense. However, the herky-jerky pogo beats, the Hyde brothers’ thick, northern British accents, and their soaring harmonies kick in full force. The Futureheads are often compared to XTC, with good reason (and not in a bad way: they sound neither nostalgic nor derivative), and the similarities continue on their second record, News And Tributes, out next week. “Worry About It Later” sounds as if it was pulled from the English Settlement sessions, mixed with a little pop-opera. Don’t expect anything near a slump for these blokes as their powerful/playful style, which has earned them opening spots (on stadium shows!) for Oasis and The Pixies, has only matured and had this come out some forty years earlier I can imagine The Futureheads playing with the likes of Townsend and company. Here we are, back to the future and you’ll find them out on the road in North America, starting next week, with French Kicks for the first leg and Tapes ‘N Tapes for the next.

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The Duke Spirit

We’ve been on something of a pop kick the last few days, so I thought it’s about time to bring the ear-ringing rock. Speaking of tinnitus, my ears have been going at it 24/7 for like the last month. Too much loud music obviously. There’s been a lot of talk about the link between iPods and hearing loss (duh), but I listen to my iPod in the car primarily. Still, I listen way too loud. It’s like hot sauce or chocolate. Can’t get enough. More, more, more. Gotta have it loud. The Duke Spirit certainly won’t be helping the situation anytime soon. These Brits bring it! They’re loud even at a volume level of two. And when Leila sings “I need those eyes and I need those bones” on Flood-produced “Win Your Love,” well, love hasn’t rung in my ears like this since PJ Harvey told me to look at her child-bearing hips and ruby red ruby lips.

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Tom Vek

In one of our 2004 Year-End Lists we each named the artists we wished would make MP3s available so we could rave about them on 3hive. Well, dreams do come true, people, as I can finally cross one Tom Vek off that list — just in time for his debut album to drop Stateside. The unassuming Londoner records deliciously tense, warm, and infectious songs from his parents’ garage. Feel free to listen in your garage, or wherever else you see fit.

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Foreign Born

Somewhat of a misnomer, Foreign Born are from right up the way in Los Angeles, although they do have a certain anglophilic atmosphere about them. Turn the clock back twenty years and I wouldn’t be surprised to find them palling around with Echo and the Bunnymen.

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The Futureheads

Full disclosure: The first record I bought was an XTC 7-inch of “Helicopter,” with the B-side “Ten Feet Tall.” That’s back in the day when radio was really, really cool. I heard “Helicopter” on Mighty Six Ninety, an early AM alternative station out of San Diego. Bought the record the next day at Music Market, and played it over and over again on my parent’s hi-fi that was as big as a coffin. There should be no wonder then as to why I’ve taken a fancy to The Futureheads…

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The Natural History

The Tepper brothers are the driving force behind The Natural History. With their comrades, they push out a pop-rock (or should that be rock-pop?) that entices and enthralls, like so many things from Brooklyn. The second album is still in process; these tracks from their debut should help shorten the wait.

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