With all the hype surrounding Arctic Monkeys, Editors, and even Hard-Fi, it’s become apparent that the UK is swimming in musical talent while suffering from a paucity of A&R scouts. In a story that parallels the tale of Arctic Monkeys, Hard-Fi first released Stars of CCTV in a limited pressing of 500 in October 2004. It wasn’t till June of the following year that a genuine label gave the album a proper release, and it’s only recently hit stores in the US. Nevertheless, Hard-Fi are the closest thing to the only band that matter from the across the pond. The Clash reference is intentional. The foursome’s fondness for reggae dub production and politically charged lyrics has garnered comparisons to the 2-Tone ska-loving Specials, and there is indeed a “Ghost Town” feel to a number of tracks here. But Hard-Fi’s real lineage leads straight back to the post-punk Black Market Clash. Singer Richard Archer actually sounds like Mick Jones more often than he does Joe Strummer; still, he has a great guttersnipe delivery, and he’s not afraid to use it, whether he’s lamenting his financial situation against Kai Stephens’s deep, driving Simonon-style bass line and Ross Philips’s serrated staccato guitars in “Cash Machine” or putting himself in the shoes of a soldier headed to Iraq amid the brisk combat-rock clamor of “Middle Eastern Holiday.” He shyly eyes a lucky club girl as the band funk things up for him in “Gotta Reason” and even croons to spare piano accompaniment in the melancholy “Move On Now” before heading back to rock the casbah in the self-explanatory “Living for the Weekend.” It’s timely reminder that once upon a time punk wasn’t afraid to co-opt instead just being co-opted.
Hard-Fi + Aberdeen City | April 2 | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | 617.228.6000
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