The Yards - The Yards
Only John Squire would take the unorthodox step of recruiting a singer for his band from outside Woolworths busking in York. The singer was Chris Helme who fronted The Seahorses in the late 1990s. The band only lasted for one album. Perhaps this was because Squire was allegedly so difficult to work with. The rumours that John while working alone on his songwriting fell out with himself and had to sleep in the spare room remain unfounded.
After the Seahorses split up Chris went solo, albeit low key, the freedom to express himself without conflicts was liberating. The Yards formed in 2002, who you may have seen supporting Arthur Love last year on his UK tour. However the band are more than likely to attract fans who love 60s psychedelica and have an affinity for bands like Ocean Colour Scene. The band were all involved in the writing of the album making it a real team effort which adds to the live feel throughout.
"Get Off My Back" had Helme's vocals very low in the mix with Chris Ferrel's guitar licks, a vital ingredient to the retro sound. You can hear the sound of a band who have become comfortable revealing their strong influences such as Neil Young. "Only Myself To Blame" has Mr Helme's throaty distinctive vocals after an acoustic style opening. This could quite easily have been a bonus track on the last Proud Mary album. It has that folk and rootsy vibe and touches on elements of Oasis with a very memorable chorus (much much better than Lyla). The lyrics are forceful, honest and brutally truthful, "There's a trail of destruction in my wake" is a line you certainly won't forget in a hurry.
"Superhuman" is more stripped down and is a ballad that isn't afraid to wear it's heart on it's sleeve. It's not that far removed from Starsailor and The Verve in the fact that it exposes a sensitive and calm side to the band and is timeless as a piece of music. The guitars are slow and careful and it's one of the less obvious songs on the album, but a real grower. "California" has nothing to do with Phantom Planet or the O.C. This is much more bluesy and Chris Helme reaches his full potential as he yells with great force over the hard unforgiving music which is the heaviest the Yards play on the album. It's almost a warning to other bands about a faustain pact it's easy to succumb to when chasing the green dollar.
The Yard's debut album is a more natural environment for Chris Helme to be himself, in the company of musicians he's connected with. This is good, honest music from a band who should be worth checking out on their tour in May.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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