A few days agao, I featured a YouTube gem by a band called Scars on 45, a quintet from Leeds, England. We’re all well aware of what it means to be a rock band from England, and while they aren’t the Beatles or Coldplay or even Keane, Scars on 45 have set the tone for a lengthy, catchy career with their self titled debut.
One of the weirdest and most unique things about music is that you can’t hear accents. You can’t tell where a band is based on their singer’s accent and I think that’s awesomely unique and cool. Adele shocked me when I first heard an interview and John Lennon on albums is different than John Lennon in interviews. One of the coolest things about Scars on 45, however, is that you can hear that they’re British. It’s unique and it makes them stand out.
This album is chocked full of great alternative rock songs, ones that remind you instantly of bands like Keane and Green River Ordinance, with a few exceptions. First, the band has co-ed vocals, which instantly improves harmonies and allows the band a little more depth and perspective than single gender bands. It’s piano and harmony driven and it’s a wonderfully complete and cohesive album, giving the band a sound that is clearly defined but not over done.
“Warning Song” is the first track and it’s a great example of what the band is trying to do. It begins with the computer generated beat and then plays right over it with acoustic guitars and vocals, showing that that part may be in the background, but isn’t what they’re really about. “Heart on Fire” is a song written as a conversation between 2 lovers and it’s beautifully done with alternating male and female vocals and lyrics that easily hit home. “When you’re standing on your own, and you feel you’ve got nobody around you,/ Yeah, you know I’ll be the one who helps you from your knees./ My heart’s on fire.”
“Give Me Something” is a great alt-rock song that’s begging for something to make the singer believe in the love that seems to have been lost. It’s a personal song and one that’s well done, from beginning to end. “Beauty’s Running Wild” is a love song, if a little untraditional. It’s beautifully piano-driven, giving it a sense of gravity that few other instruments are capable of. “I know you think those pretty eyes are nothing much to see,/ but beauty’s running wild on your face.” Lyrically, this album stands out in its simplicity and directness. It’s not about metaphors and clever turns of phrase; it’s about clear and well written lyrics.
Perhaps the best track on the album, and undoubtedly one of our song of the year candidates, is “Change My Needs”. Completely led by female vocals and minimalist acoustic guitar and piano, the haunting vocals and clever lyrics are exceptional. “I never meant to say you were the thorn in either side”, “They say a legal kiss is not as good as a stolen one”, and “If a look could kill, you’d need a license for your face” are among the lyrics that makes this song a delightful surprise in the middle of a great album.
Scars on 45 are another band that take the lineage of British rock seriously. They’ve accepted that pressure and thrived, creating an album that, from start to finish, pleases rock fans, lyric fans, and mellower songwriters at the same time. Take the time to give Scars on 45 a chance and you won’t be sorry.