Monday, 28 November 2016

Album Review: Keep Bleeding by The Doublecross (by Emma Prew)

It’s not often that I stumble across something completely new to me, really like it and then think ‘I must review this!’ – that’s usually Colin’s job – but that was exactly what happened with Keep Bleeding by The Doublecross. The album was described as being ‘for fans of Bruce Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem’ which sounded like me, so I looked the band up on Bandcamp to have a listen. It turns out that The Doublecross isn’t a band exactly, it is a solo project from Welsh singer-songwriter Jon Greenwood, but either way it is rather good.

The first song on Keep Bleeding is called One More Time and begins with loud, fast guitars – definitely a good way to kick off an album. Jon Greenwood’s vocals have a slightly rough tone but not in an over-the-top kind of way. I was instantly hit by a a sense of ‘yeah, this is that kind of Americana-tinged alternative rock kind of music that I like’ and was more than happy to hear some more. Switching things up a bit already, the second song, My Only Friends Are Chemicals, starts with vocals ahead of any instruments. Palm-muted guitar soon joins the mix but the lyrics remain at the forefront. The lyrics are clearly pretty negative (‘Some conversation would kill the pain, But friends like these got nothing to say.’) but the music and the vocal style doesn’t make the song seem so. A great song. Fireworks and Butterflies is slightly slower paced track than the previous two but the guitars remain loud with that lovely slightly distorted sound. This is another prime example of a song with pessimistic lyrics that somehow manages to sound happy and uplifting – ‘I will let you down, And watch you hit the ground.’

By the fourth song, The Stars That Never Shine, I realise that the ‘sad song that sounds happy’ theme is one that epitomises The Doublecross. It’s also something that Jon does very well. Some of the lyrics are rather catchy as well – ‘Well it’s been a lonely ride, But now we do just fine, We keep bleeding through the night, We’re the stars that never shine.’  She Might Be The One begins with more of a simplified sound – muted guitar and clear vocals, but no drums. The moderate tempo of the introduction got me well invested into the lyrics and I was already well sold when the full band sound comes in after a minute and a half. There is also a neat little guitar solo towards the end of the song – a bit different to the previous song on the album. The sixth song on Keep Bleeding is called Bad Dreams and it’s one of my songs I chose to have on the CPRW November Playlist. I’ve listen to the album quite a lot over the last few weeks but this is the song that stood out to me the most. It’s upbeat, melodic and has some great lyrics. If you listen to only one song from this album, listen to Bad Dreams.

The Wire is the title of the next track on the album. A single snappy guitar riff is played throughout the majority of the song and it really gets your head nodding, with a second guitar playing more of a melody at certain points. It’s a powerful song both musically and lyrically – ‘She deserves to be alive for so much longer.’. The next song, Shattered Health, is a catchy one with roaring guitars and pounding drums. The chorus in particular is brilliant, ‘Doing the best I can, To forget about the days when, I was a better man, And you were never there for me.’ The Doublecross sound reminds me a lot of Broadcaster, another band who I recently fell in love with after seeing them at Fest 15. This ‘sound’, whatever you want to call it, is just perfect to me. Following on from Shattered Health is Hurt People Hurt People. Firstly I really like the play on words in the title (and lyrics), even if it is clearly going to be a fairly bleak track. The guitars and vocals are intense on the first verse but when the chorus kicks in there is a nice overlaid melodic guitar riff. This melody works well with the overall sense of emotion in the song and is extended towards the end of the song.

Drawing towards the end of the album, track number ten is called 020814 (which I imagine is a date). The song begins immediately with vocals and, I could be wrong, but I feel like there’s more venom and bitterness in Jon’s voice for this song. The chorus is another catchy one and will certainly get your head nodding, despite the melancholic theme of death. ‘Well you look so good when you’re dressed up for my funeral, It was such a perfect day, Remember when you were dancing on my grave.’  Forever Pretending To Sleep is the penultimate song of Keep Bleeding. You’d think that after ten songs that The Doublecross sound would be set in stone but this song has jangly guitars rather than the more distorted sound of previous tracks. The guitars aren’t quite acoustic but they certainly sounds fresh as the album draws to a close. A guitar solo ends Forever Pretending to sleep and fades out into the last song on the album, The Lake. This is probably the slowest song of Keep Bleeding and rightly so as the closing track. It’s also the most stripped back song with a simple guitar melody that doesn’t detract from the vocals. The whole album contains some quite personal lyrics but they are most apparent in The Lake. ‘I’m learning how to feel alive, I’m learning how to smile. Can I teach you how to cry? She loves me more than I love myself…’

I’m sure some readers of the blog have already heard of The Doublecross but if you haven’t then I highly recommend you go and check them out. Keep Bleeding is definitely one of my favourite album discoveries of the year, maybe it’ll be one of yours too.

You can find The Doublecross on Facebook here and Bandcamp here.