It wasn’t an auspicious start when I heard about this band. Firstly, I said ‘Barry who?’ and then I was told they sounded like Mumford and Sons. I don’t like Mumford and Sons. But you should never listen to the reviewers and critics; listen for yourself. I’m glad I did, because Barricades Rise are a very good band. Sure, they are influenced by Mumford et al, but they aren’t overburdened by their influences. Nothing in music is original, unless you want to make something completely unlistenable (oh, wait, Lou Reed did that with his record company fuck off: Metal Machine Music), but you have to let those influences move through you and create your own voice. Barricades Rise do that.
Barricades Rise are a pair of multi-instrumentalists from the Midlands, John Coates and Michael McEntee. They are primarily acoustic based but, believe me, having seen them live I can testify that they expound more sweat and energy than many electric bands. They have had two full CD releases: 2009’s You and Your Adored and last years All I Have is Here. Coates is the main singer and songwriter and he has a voice that gravels with belied maturity. Although I’m not sure if this is due to the chain smoking (don’t try this at home, kids!) or actual maturity.
They knock great songs out that, though they cover the usual territory of love and betrayal, they add clever twists to. A song like ‘Making Faces From Clouds’ is a great little number about being busy doing nothing and then along comes the one. ‘Nod and Smile’ has a great take on spinning the bottle and showing me yours if I show you mine. There is bitter sweetness in the beautifully tender ‘If You Were Here’ about lost love and ‘Just For Tonight’ where romance hasn’t worked out as was hoped. We’ve all been there.
One of the best songs on All I Have Is Here is actually sung and written by McEntee. ‘Great White North’ is a beautifully formed little vignette based on Jon Krakauer’s book Into The Wild.
My only criticism of the songs on both releases is that there aren’t enough catchy choruses that stay with you. But that’s just a personal preference.
Barricades Rise clearly have talent and the good news is a lot of their music is free for download from their website. Enjoy.