Hampshire, UK trio, Blaenavon, have finally announced the details of their much-anticipated, formal introduction to the world: their debut album. The record is titled That’s Your Lot and it’s out on April 7th via Transgressive Records in the UK and via Canvasback in the US. The record was produced by none other than Jim Abbiss, who’s known for his work with Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Peace, The Kooks, and more.
Now in case that wasn’t enough exciting news for you, the band also released a new single and music video (directed by Francesca Consarino) from the album called “Orthodox Man”, which features footage from their recent trip to New York where they played their first pair of US shows. “Orthodox Man” brilliantly shows off what the band do best, which is distinct, intelligent, and uplifting indie rock fronted by easily one of the most talented vocalists around at the minute, backed by one of the tightest rhythm sections that I can think of.
The new track’s first verse puts lead singer, Ben Gregory’s unique and emotional vocal tone at center stage before the pre-chorus “ooh ah ah ooh ah’s” wrap the listener in a sweet and tender hug. The lyric “Baby just call I’ll be here waiting late” on top of the textbook indie guitar riff could easily cause eye-rolling among some music journalists, but the next line shuts up all the critics with Gregory’s brilliant and infectious repetition of “waiting waiting waiting.” It’s also worth mentioning that this track is probably my favorite contribution from bassist Frank Wright, whose bass adds a really nice texture to the track and gives it a much a fuller sound.
Besides the fact that this a debut album from a great new band, what’s really exciting about this album is that a majority of the tracklist is stuff that fans haven’t heard yet. Many bands have no problem filling the majority of their debut record with singles and EP tracks that have already been released, which is fine, but it makes it more exciting for the fans to have a full album of newer material. Also, this tactic usually allows an album to be more of a cohesive, thematic body of work rather an incoherent collection of songs that were violently stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster.
Gregory, told DIY Magazine, “You can offer people a slight insight into what you do through your EPs and your live show, but your debut album is such a bold statement, and because it’s been so long for us, it’s massively significant.” The band also released a statement in their email newsletter that read, “We know we’ve made you wait. But while you’ve been waiting, we’ve been working away. Quietly. Frantically. Pouring everything we know into this to make it all worth it. 5 years of our lives into 59 minutes of yours.”
Apparently the band completed the writing sessions for their debut album with over a hundred songs to choose from and when asked about how the songs were chosen, Gregory told DIY, “Every song has a characteristic that I feel sincerely dedicated to, and the album’s a really nice journey that you swim through.” He also told Clash Magazine, that the album explores themes of “youth, capriciousness, duality, duplicity, love, bitterness, fate. Songs from the human core: some malleable, long considered – others pure, direct, cruelly honest. An album to bathe in and appreciate the inevitable end.”
The tracklisting contains the recently released tracks “Let’s Pray” and “My Bark Is Your Bite”, as well as two old favorites and drummer, Harris McMillan’s finest performances “I Will Be The World” and “Prague ’99” (the latter of which was going to be given this title initially, but then was simply released as “Prague”, so it may or may not be a different version). There was also a surprise addition to the album, which is a track called “Swans” that Gregory wrote when he was just 15. Though never officially released, I found a seven minute long demo version of it online and I’ve been listening to it for several months now, still in awe of the vocal delivery and the sheer amount of honesty and emotion evoked from its lyrics.
According to a press release, the band really improved and matured under the guidance of veteran producer, Jim Abbiss. Wright said “he’ll interject and make us enthusiastic about what we’re recording, or make the tiniest suggestion, or if one of us has a concept, he’ll know how to realise it.” Gregory added, “He’s the best guy ever to record vocals with. Before recording with Jim I just tried to sing as well and in tune as I could without being over the top. But we spoke about what the songs were about, and he encouraged me and suggested how I should bring that character into every word that I’m singing. We’d go through all the takes so carefully. It’s a really long process and it worked so well.”
That’s Your Lot (out April 7th) tracklist and artwork:
1. Take Care
2. Let’s Pray
3. Orthodox Man
4. My Bark Is Your Bite
5. Lonely Side
6. Let Me See What Happens Next
7. Alice Come Home
8. Ode to Joe
9. I Will Be the World
10. Prague ‘99
12. That’s Your Lot
I’m also psyched because the band are also due to play lots of shows throughout the UK and Europe. (I’ll finally get to see them for the first time while studying abroad in London since their only US shows were in New York!) They will support Sundara Karma, Two Door Cinema Club, and embark on their own headline tour (with support from The Night Cafe) as well. Click here to check out all their live dates, which range from February to April.