Listen: London Blackmarket

Just as guitar bands appear rather to have melted a bit into the background, along comes London Blackmarket, a young UK outfit to look out for in 2010. Their second single, “The Hardest Stone To Throw”, is out December 7 on Fiction Records, home to the likes of Snow Patrol, The Cure, Elbow and Kate Nash. It was recorded by Liam Watson, probably best known from his co-production with Jack White on the White Stripes’ Elephant. So far the credentials sound promising but what of the band itself?

The London four-piece has been together for around 18 months and comprises Nicholas Long (singer and main songwriter), David Holland (bass), Nicholas Gibbs (guitar) and Brad Verlander (drums). They deliver good, fast old school rock and roll that defies the whims of fashion. The band’s image with their curious Dickensian logo and down at heel modern street fashion is interesting blend of old and new. They could almost be the love children of the Artful Dodger, reinvented in hoodies. The whole deal is refreshingly clear of styling and underlines an honesty about the band and its ambitions.

“The Hardest Stone To Throw” opens with an urgent riff, giving way to a nicely accented, percussive verse and chorus. There’s a bit of early Kasabian about the song and its delivery. The single also features “Lina’s Store” which shows a different aspect to the band. It has echoes of Kings of Leon from the Aha Shake Heartbreak vintage in both Nick Long’s raspy vocal and especially the song construction. The single’s bonus track, the frenzied “Last Chance Dance”, recalls early Bloc Party and a touch of Arctic Monkeys but is over a bit too soon, dissolving after two and a half minutes into a Police-style instrumental take-out.

Long though has a true rock vocal, gruff with a hoarse edge and hint of sneer and swagger. The instrumental backing is energetic and committed throughout. So all in all, this is an impressive offering. All three songs have tunes imprinted in them with enough hooks to fix themselves in your mind. This is the acid test as lyrically the songs are personal and so not that easy to fathom, painting broad pictures rather than detailed portraits. “A capsized boat/the cure from a friend/Full of inhibition/as you reach your end.” Time will tell whether London Blackmarket have the wherewithal to reinvent the guitar band and establish themselves as the young pretenders to the thrones of Oasis and the Arctics. But don’t be surprised if they are a big hit at this summer’s UK festivals.

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