Headsticks: Feathers And Flame – album review
Headsticks new album ‘Feather And Flame’ makes the perfect call to arms. Rebecca Sowray reviews for Louder Than War and finds their musical call for change undiluted.
So, Headsticks, a second album eh? A challenge for any band; how to build on the direction you’ve got direction; that identity. I saw this band first in a support slot. At a gig that I nearly didn’t go to. Grinned through the first song and through the rest of the set till my face ached. They have an irresistible energy live that translated perfectly into a first album – ‘Muster’. (LTW review here: Muster)
So a second album; ‘Feather and Flame’, eleven tracks of stepping away; an invititation to your own path; to dance, shout and cry for change and to grow new roots.
Headsticks are folk-punk or maybe punk-folk, perhaps rock-folk-punk; a face you know in the street and had forgotten, maybe, how much you missed those stories. And most of these songs tell stories; march on folk tradition with a revolutionary energy. Taking them away from the running order, the album turns, for me, on ‘Old Folk Songs’. A narrative yarn that pulls you in; binds. Trademark Headsticks stuff, lots of space between guitar sounds, bass as a moving, reactive structure, not a single thing overdone.
‘Old Folk Songs’ offers an off-kilter heroine, verses written in rhyme that turn convention on its head, draws you into a scene, as invited, where a band plays, an old folk song. There’s a redrawn ‘Go Move Shift’ that stands in the middle of the political battle lines, in the fight for public spaces; what we own and how we share. It is heavy with angst and stands the longest possible way from hand wringing; a call to action. They dip lyrics in double meaning and turn the sound on its head for ‘Cold Grey English Skies’. Now over in folk-rock territory. Here’s a track that leans on what the band has built, gently self-referencing, working on their own history. Not a cry now, but a howl of despair. Bass dominates, melody throws sharp highlights, percussion becomes a front line (in both senses), lyrics and vocals are pure incitement.
There’s nothing wasted in the whole album, no corners cut. It’s a keeper; a battery for hope under cold grey English skies. Get out and see these guys, buy the album, stand against the tide of cynicism and despair.