High Hazels plus the Seamonsters & Jack Chapman
“If you’re a fan of The Smiths and The Coral at their most melodic, then this may be right up your street” – The Guardian
“We’ve landed on some things that are sounding delicious, and we can’t wait to get in the studio and stick them down on record,” tells High Hazels’ vocalist and guitarist, James.
Fiercely independent, this is a band who move, only when the time is right as drummer Anthony explains; “We actually really enjoy being experimental – there’s all these expectations of what we should sound like but that’s the best thing about music, you can take it where you want and it’s not always about doing the same thing, sounding the same or what’s expected of you.”
Since the Handsworth band’s sold out show at The Leadmill in December, High Hazels have treated listeners to their Weaker Sun EP which saw the release of singles ‘Joined at The Lip’ and ‘Sequin Eyes.’ The latter received radio support from BBC 6music’s Steve Lamacq and held the top spot on Amazing Radio’s chart as the station’s longest running Number 1 of 2017 (13 weeks) which lead to the band being invited to host their own takeover show.
Breaking out from the bricks and mortar of their Kelham Island rehearsal space, two packed-out shows at this year’s Tramlines saw the band debut some eagerly-anticipated brand-new music and an all-new line-up; after original bassist Paul was offered an opportunity of a lifetime to study art in London, fellow musician, friend and “super-sharp gag man” – also named Paul – joined James, Anthony and lead guitarist Scott on stage for the very first time.
A stripped-back acoustic show headlining Spinning Discs’ 10th Record Store Day celebrations and an intimate appearance for Sofar Sounds only further hinted at what the band have nestled in their rolled-up sleeves; from performing an enchanting cover of 1970s folk singer Jim Croce’s ‘I Got A Name’, to spinning the sounds of their influences and heroes Nick Cave, The Walkmen, Tim Buckley and The Velvet Underground, when bringing their Studio Electrophonique DJ residency to drinkers frequenting Sheffield’s watering holes.
High Hazels have always had a way of reeling you in, breaking you down and building you back up again. Joining the ranks of young men navigating raw northern landscapes, the Sheffield four-piece has a melancholy prowess that articulates heartache with ease. Enhanced through a passion for vintage gear and penchant for priceless guitars (never mind affording the bus ride home), in the grand tradition of enigmatic guitar fetisheurs Marr, Reilly and Ryder-Jones, Scott’s medicine of minor chords, sound out the depths of the loneliest heart with waves of tender reverb. James’ vocals are doused with a lyrical honesty and yearning that carries along with it, a maturity beyond their years, channelling the strident tone of the Greenwich Village folkie and plaintive notes of the jukebox balladeer.
“After taking time to learn and hone our craft, we’re now making the music we’ve always been capable of making,” tells Anthony. If there’s one thing High Hazels represent, it’s quality. Just like a well-thumbed novel, something you return to again and again, High Hazels are ready to make their move and create music to stand the test of time, long after we’ve all gone. “The idea of creating something you can sink into and be separate from what’s going on around you – even if it’s only for a short time; that’s what we were after,” tells James.