The Home Guard | A Head of Steam

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Great Britain / UK

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Pop: Britpop Rock: Classic Rock Moods: Featuring Guitar
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A Head of Steam

by The Home Guard

Britpop meets progressive rock via new wave in this darkly upbeat debut album.
Genre: Pop: Britpop
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. The Orator
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4:06 $0.99
2. Friend or Foe?
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2:16 $0.99
3. The City That Never Wakes
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3:44 $0.99
4. Poor Man's England
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4:09 $0.99
5. Josephine
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3:51 $0.99
6. Champagne Socialist
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2:25 $0.99
7. Rendezvous
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3:54 $0.99
8. Walking Against the Wind
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3:05 $0.99
9. Everyman
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3:10 $0.99
10. I'm the World's Best-kept Secret
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6:57 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
If you've heard only one song from A Head of Steam, the chances are it's Champagne Socialist. It was this bass-driven rocker that received national BBC radio airplay and was featured on the coverdisc of a UK music magazine, starting it all for The Home Guard. In time, The City That Never Wakes was also picked up by the BBC, while renowned British broadcaster Alex Zane showcased Walking Against the Wind on his programme.

That three different tracks on an independent band's debut release should receive such mainstream attention is almost unheard of in this day and age. But having achieved this feat, The Home Guard put the relative success of A Head of Steam down to the careful arrangements of the songs: for the most part they are short, catchy and to the point, never dwell too long on a particular section, and introduce new ideas as frequently as possible.

Musically, A Head of Steam has drawn many comparisons with Sparks (especially Kimono My House), George Harrison and The Kinks. It seems that a disproportionately large number of Home Guard fans are also devotees of Queen, who - along with Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Jethro Tull, Blur, Van Der Graaf Generator and Madness - were major influences too.

This list does much to help explain the underlying trademark quirkiness of A Head of Steam, plus that intangible 'something' in the overall feel that seems to catch the listener's attention. In the words of musician, blogger and part-time reviewer Varialus: "You could have just as much luck looking for a needle in a haystack than to find a better-produced album out there on the market."


Reviews


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Ian Fleming

Self-Produced and Self-Sufficient
Wow. I\'m not much of a listener for indie bands, but this band caught my attention. After hearing the first verse of \"Champagne Socialist\" for the first time on their myspace (www.myspace.com/thehomeguardinfo), they had me curious. I delved deeper into this mysterious British \"pop\" duo (as they refer to themselves... though I\'d call them \"fast soft rock\" - wouldn\'t that just make \"rock\"?) and found that their album as a whole was pretty good.

Of course not every band is perfect, so they do have some songs that I COULDN\'T care less about. Namely \"Friend or Foe\" (funny thing is, the band claims that 50% of people like it and the other 50% hate it... weird) and \"Everyman.\" But aside from those 2 tracks, the other 8 are either decent or good. My personal favorite, \"The Orator,\" starts with a quirky intro that may turn the average listener off right away, and this is not a good start to a cd... but if you keep listening past the intro you\'ll begin to appreciate how good of a song this really is. A very good rock song indeed, and I especially dig the piano foundation laid throughout the song. Their first single, \"Champagne Socialist,\" is a simple song strung around a good bassline and drum beat. Another one of my favorites. Three other notable songs are \"I\'m the world\'s best kept secret,\" \"The city that never wakes,\" and \"Rendezvous.\"

For an indie band\'s first album, me really liking 5 out of the 10 songs is pretty good. I definitely recommend a listen of their songs on their myspace at the very least, and I recommend the album if you like what you hear.

Chris does a very good job of producing this album. This band has no need for a \"professional producer.\" They are self-sufficient.

That\'s all there is to it.

Ian

Mike Walls

Head of the Class
This album is a classic of massive proportions. And a must for any listener of music. That will be pleasing to a wide ranging audience of any age. This is a 10 track masterpiece that would add pure brilliance to any music collection. Considering that this pair of great lads are currently not attached to any label. It only adds weigh to their high credibility. 2 tracks worth a great mention are Friend Or Foe and Everyman. But all 10 are purely magical and a must have for all music fans.

Ian Fleming

A unique spin indie rock
THE HOME GUARD
A Head of Steam

8.2 / 10.0 (For uniqueness and excellent production)

You never quite know what you are going to get with an independent album. Fortunately for me, The Home Guard chose to stream their entire album for free off of their website. I liked what I heard. It was unique in its own right, and this is especially the case for my ears because this style of music is definitely outside my norm. After listening to The Home Guard’s debut album a couple of times, I decided to invest in the downloads so I could further my listening pleasure on my car stereo.

Dan’s vocals are fitting for this style of music. He’s a natural. Never do the vocals seem out of place or off-key.

Chris’s producing is so thorough that you could have just as much luck looking for a needle in a haystack than to find a better-produced album out there on the market. And I mean this with sincerity. The average mainstream producer probably doesn’t give a care in the world about the depth of quality in their artists music… as long as these “producers” get paid to do their half-baked job, they’re plenty happy. Not so with The Home Guard. It is evident that Chris took his time to produce this record… and rightly so, being that it is partly his music, after all.

Since this album is so far outside my normal scope of music, I literally have nothing to base this album off of subjectively – so I will try my best to review it objectively.

1. The Orator – A piano-driven rock song with a steady beat. From the very first 22 seconds of this song, you’ll already know that the producer knows his stuff and is bound to have brought you a finely crafted record. Musically, the beginning may seem a bit on the quirky side, but the rest of the song shows otherwise. My favorite parts of this song are the pre-choruses. This song was one of my original favorites.

Note: Subtlety is not a key feature in this song! (*hint hint* – watch the volume at the start! I’ve jumped many times whenever I’ve just put this CD in my car stereo…)

2. Friend or Foe? – Segueing from track 1, this song instantly brings more energy (and sax). My favorite part is the rolling drums (reminiscent of battle drums) during the bridge. An effective 2-minute song.

3. The City that Never Wakes – Here it comes… the good stuff. Peeling away from the brighter tone of the first two tracks, this song leans towards a more moody and heart-felt atmosphere. The verses are comprised mainly of just vocals, acoustic guitar, and piano. Very minimalistic. The choruses are brought in by a thumping bass guitar, paving the way to the contrasting nature of the rougher choruses.

4. Poor Man’s England – If sax were a species of bird, then the first 6 seconds of this song would be its song… I say that in jest. I’m just not a fan of saxophones.

A solid bass-driven rocker, this song shines during the verses. I’m not big on the rest of the song, though.

5. Josephine – Starts bright and breezy, but pays off during the first bridge (1:10) as it turns into one of the finer rock moments on the album, complete with guitar solo and an excellent rhythm section.

6. Champagne Socialist – I adore basslines. I really do. This bassline also happens to be coupled with an efficient drumbeat, making this song one of the strongest on the album. This song also gets straight to the point, reaching its second chorus before even one minute has passed. Another effective short song.

7. Rendezvous – The coolest song on the album. If you listen carefully, you can hear an organ playing some eerie notes in the left-channel. The lead synth also plays a nice riff. Dan’s vocals are at his best on this album when he duets with himself during the line: “Follow me and rid the world of something venomous.”

The final bridge plays as an effective calm in an otherwise busy song.

For some reason, the lyrics remind me of the story of Paul Revere: “And so I’ll see you at the rendezvous. We’ll come through at the rendezvous tonight.” AND “I can feel the sway they hold on land and sea.” Despite the fact that Dan is a history buff, I doubt that this was his intended meaning.

8. Walking Against the Wind – Another piano-driven track, this song plays softly for the most part. The heavier choruses complement the verses without being adverse. As an added bonus, the first chorus seamlessly strings right into a sort of double-chorus at 1:11. Not my favorite track, but very well arranged.

9. Everyman – The greatest quality in this song is its ever-changing nature. One moment it will be playing one line, then the very next there will be a twist. Another brilliant moment is during the bridge when the guitar and sax intertwine in a call-and-response section.

10. I’m the World’s Best-Kept Secret – This is a nice song to relax to. The first verse is extremely laid back. The guitars don’t stay hidden for too long, however, as they make their appearances during the choruses and bridges.

As I mentioned before, I adore basslines. The second, second-and-a-half, and third verses of this song are no exception.

The bridge section at 3:45 dives into an eerie atmosphere that acts as a mirror to the narrator’s soul. Nicely done.