However, what about Newport? TJ’s was often cited as one of the best live venues to ever exist in the UK, they’ve given us Diverse Vinyl, the UK’s largest source of new vinyl records, they’ve given us FEEDER, there’s a whole lot of gas left in SKINDRED’s helicopter, and, we can’t be forgetting those comedic rap terrorists GOLDIE LOOKIN’ CHAIN. It’s 2023 now; your mother could very well have that penis. Newport has been overlooked let’s be fair, and today’s band are hoping to grab some attention for Wales’ third largest city. Let me introduce you to CRISIS TALKS.
The three-piece, consisting of vocalist David Lloyd Chapman, guitarist and peddle wizard Mark William Squire, and drummer James Clement are preparing to release their debut album; “Heavy The Heart”, on June 15th. David got in touch with me recently asking me to attend a launch show, at the Little Taphouse; Newport, but I was sadly double booked. The least I could do however, would be to agree to give the album a listen and a little write up. The question is, will I be having crisis talks with myself after listening to this album? Let’s find out...
We open up with the track “Dancer”, but truth be told I’m not moving a muscle. OK that’s a little harsh. We’ve got a solid dose of classic, riff-rich hard rock, with some rather funk-laden bass and assertive percussion, leading this admittedly rhythmic track. Vocally here David is interesting as, he finds himself somewhere between Daron Malakian and Benjamin Kowalewicz tonally in places. It’s got a mellow transitional section which keeps things interesting, and ultimately, it’s a decent start.
Follow up track “Dark Cold War” houses a far grittier, angst-riddled feel, with groove aplenty in the bluesy, hard rock instrumentation and off-kilter, semi-prog inspired delivery. Slicker in production too, despite the slightly stop-start approach vocally, and again we have another similarly placed mellow filler section dividing the track. That intro though, minimal but very effective; catchy simplicity.
Sticking to the meatier offerings, we’ve got “Submission”, and we have some light and subtle 90’s grunge aesthetics at play, amidst a back-drop of almost tribal percussion, and some of the albums cleanest, melodic vocal displays. As it progresses, we again find them groove-rich in presentation, so credit to the trio for their consistency. “Undone” has a more vibrant, almost indie-inspired alt.rock vibe to it, and here, especially vocally, it reminds in parts of PLACEBO. This is certainly an album highlight. David, on purpose or not here, has this nasally twang that pays homage to Brian Molko in the sincerest way, it’s actually more entertaining than Placebo’s newest album. It wouldn’t sound out of place on “Sleeping With Ghosts” frankly.
Speaking of spooks, “Ghosts” champions a far softer, acoustic approach from the three-piece initially, but does descend into flutters of more metallic fret-work, while “Monsters” takes that acoustic influence and channels the likes of JEFF BUCKLEY, which is praise indeed. Not as tortured poetically, not as vulnerable vocally, David isn’t quite that open book, but this is damn close. Finally, then we finish up on “Soundcheck”, and we’ve got ourselves a lovely, sombre guitar ballad, with emotive instrumentation and a legitimately moving guitar solo.
When I walked into this album, I didn’t know what to expect. Without wanting to shit on my own doorstep, a lot of the more “local” artists that have come my way haven’t left me truly inspired. Take my recent PENNY RICH review for RIFF YARD MEDIA for example. But, while this album isn’t perfect per se, there’s plenty of character and style here to ensure these succeed live, there’s already that certain raw quality to these tracks, and they are bound to translate well in a live setting.
The song-writing capability and conception is there artistically, I just think they need the chance to get out there more, and truly hone their sound, as there is a lot of potential in this trio. The only crisis talks need to be about growth, commitment and dedication, as these three could do well for themselves among the current wave of UK festival regulars. “Heavy The Heart” is an emotional, back to basics rock record with some good ideas and, the only fresher thing coming out of Newport right now, is the heroin.