The B Of The Bang is, in lead singer Wit’s own words: A lo-fi, Electronica-tinged, Anti-Folk cake with a Gothic, Grunge icing. Topped with cherries.
Whatever it is, we like it.
The ‘band’ are a rag-tag bunch of wandering minstrels, the songs are a veritable mix of hooks and melodies that coupled with Wit’s haunting vocals, will plumb the depths of your soul.
What people have to say about The B Of The Bang:
“Reminiscent of Geneva’s finest moments and laced with a gothic, Interpol-style moodiness, this is a gorgeous listen.” - Planet Sound
"Take Nu-folk, a broodingly dark soundscape and a Jim Morrison-style baritone, shove it all in a blender, and you’ll get this. It may be hard to pigeonhole, but it's even harder to shake out of your mind. We like." - Artrocker
"Like a spooky, cabaret-version of Franz Ferdinand in charge of the college music department's instrument store, dramatic, ever twisting and toe-tappingly perverse. Great stuff, in other words…" - Subba Cultcha
“They have a charm of their own, an undercurrent of crafted electronica, a hint of what some called anti-folk, a character…” - Organ Magazine
Stunning debut by former PS demo faves who mix fragile folk with deliciously evil baroque rock & roll.
Held together by singer Wit's doomy baritone, they excel at everything from the simple bounce of Dolores to The Making Of - the sound of Will Oldham's country as sung by Scott Walker.
Gorgeously textured, the likes of the achingly beautiful Light The Fires are just too good to be neglected.
Back in January, I was pretty impressed by the debut single from the B Of the Bang ‘Alfred, Light the Fires.’ I was inspired to write ‘Imagine Broken Records invading the soul of Neil Hannon out of the Divine Comedy and driving the Duke Special out…rather special.’
Well, the band have more than delivered on the promise of that single. It’s astonishing to believe that this is only their debut album (and I’ve just checked the press release to confirm that), because like the forthcoming Broken Records album, this is an astonishingly accomplished record. Debut or not, it is a pretty staggering record that becomes additcive astonishingly quickly.
So many bands claim, almost always wrongly, that ‘Our music is pretty hard to categorise’ on the grounds that it’s preferable to saying ‘We sound like a third-rate Coldplay.’ The B Of the Bang are actually impressively hard to pigeonhole -yet even more impressively, it works together very well. Gorgeous moments that might be folk (or should that be anti-folk?), eastern european influences here and there and epic moments MINUS the bombast.
Look, I’m going to lay my cards on the table here. This is one of the best albums you will hear this year. Please go and buy it when it’s released. If you buy it and don’t agree…well, let’s just say subjective opinions can sometimes be overrated.
[Rock Pulse Music Zine]
It's a rare thing to be able to listen to something deemed as easy listening, and yet feel a bowel voidingly disturbing presence. Radiohead making love to Sigur Rós is the best way to describe the sensation that is listening to this album, but The B Of The Bang sound nothing like either of the above artists.
It's easy enough to pick out of the odd influence, but the overall sound is something very special. Just when you think you have the album sussed 'Dolores' kicks in, a (sort of) straight forward track with amusing and intensionally sloppy lyrics. 'Desire Lines' then throws you off the trail even further. If anyone has ever heard 'Diana' by Comus, imagine that, but replace the terrifying psychedelic sound with a soothing one.
Anyone who can find a single flaw with Beginning. Middle. End. deserves to be taken away by the men in white coats, this album is nothing short of a goddamn triumph.
[Breaking More Waves]
In the same way that Bon Iver is just Justin Vernon, and Blue Roses is Laura Groves, Portsmouth’s Christopher Whitear is The B Of The Bang. Against a backdrop of seaside living, dreary jobs and grotty pub gigs he has gathered together an assortment of musicians to create his debut album Beginning Middle End released on the 8th June through Jelly Maid Music
Describing The B of the Bang as “A lo fi, electronic-tinged, anti-folk cake with a gothic, grunge icing,” Whitear gets near the mark. However beneath the enjoyably gloomy sounds and wealth of instrumentation that sees appearances from banjo, guitar, violin, cello, keyboard, glockenspiel, loops, pianos and more, Beginning Middle End often follows a template based on traditional rock structures. For instance, at least four of the songs on this album, Alaska, Lung, Little Bean and A New Road invoke a dynamic of a quiet start, gradually building to reach a climax; yet due to the variety of instrumentation, each song sounds distinctly different. The reference points are many but can be broadly categorised into bands that have an earnest and serious sound; Editors and Radiohead being two obvious influences. However there are lighter touches with the almost chirpy Delores, the vaudeville jazz folk of Alfred Light The Fires and the acoustic medieval campfire balladry of Desire Lines, where rather disconcertingly the band appear to have left a kettle boiling in the background.
Tying these different styles together is Whitear’s baritone vocal, which has a slight warble towards the end of certain notes and occasional over enunciation in the style of a very English gentleman. His voice is at its best when it doesn‘t try too hard to emulate other deep noted singers which he is obviously a fan of. Take (We Used To Draw) Treasure Maps, one of the newer songs on the album. A misty, mystical, folkish song with military drumming and a beautiful backing vocal from Tallie Kane. Here Whitear is brooding with restraint and sounds all the more powerful for it. The addition of elegiac strings gives the song a meaty resonance despite its subtlety. It is worth buying the album for this track alone. Likewise Alaska, with its ships fog horn synth, ghostly asthmatic atmospherics and simple pounding electronic beat works because of its lack of over complication. Pared down to just one line repeated over and over Whitear sings “It only happens once, you won’t believe it when it does,” in a relaxed and hopeful way.
Ultimately Beginning Middle End is a collection of well crafted songs that are often the sum of their influences. It is when Whitear rises above these influences, through simple subtle song writing and not trying too hard that The B of the Bang really finds beauty amongst the shadows.
The B Of The Bang are difficult to pin down for even a moment. Writing about Beginning. Middle. End, the debut album from the Portsmouth collective, often feels like shooting at a moving target. Every song seems determined to be distinct from every other: indeed, the only constant seems to be vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Christopher Whitear’s rich baritone.
Beginning. Middle. End. is an album in the best spirit of experimentation. It’s nearly impossible to work out how you move so quickly from “Alaska”’s epic guitar melody to the swinging piano and jazz bassline of “Alfred, Light the Fires”, yet it works almost flawlessly.
Without diluting their sound or stumbling into inconsistency, the band dabble in an impressively wide range of styles, from the brooding gothic-orchestral feel of “(We Used To Draw) Treasure Maps” to the twanging folk guitar and mournful harmonica of “Little Bean”, capably blended with some very elegant songwriting.
The result is a record that sounds incredibly polished: grand, sweeping melodies and compellingly dark interludes. Whitear channels the spirits of great frontmen from Nick Cave to Neil Hannon, and does so with considerable class and an incredibly powerful voice. Listening to Beginning. Middle. End. is a rare (if uniquely intense and at times unsettling) pleasure.
The B of the Bang are a collective of human beings (14) that “when gathered together, have the ability to straighten corners”. Hmm, any band that claims to have the ability to turn the bent, straight, has to be listened too!
The website of tThe B of the Bang can be found at thebofthebang.co.uk and has many of the same qualities as the bands’ music; it is neat, well structured, coherent, slightly macabre in its tone, yet strangely uplifting. On the website there is more than one quote that eulogises this band, and in fairness it is probably rightfully so.
After a little intro number, Track Two sets the bar for the rest of the album and “Alaska” is a gem. It is reminiscent of the debut of Arcade Fire. The same driving energy, ambient sound-scapes, simple chord structures and driving 4/4 beat that builds and builds to its own natural crescendo which is all backed up ably by a fine understated vocal.
Track Three “Alfred Light the Fires” takes the album in a slightly different direction, twisting the mood into Cabaret territory. It is almost circus music and wouldn’t be out of place in a Dr Who time travelling episode. It is a fun song, while being strangely eerie.
Track Four “Lung” raises the tempo again with another climactic song. The bands lead vocalist had the ability to sound like Nick Cave at times, and doesn’t sound out of place within the realm of this album, and is excellently supported with nice harmonies and lovely delicate instrumentation; glockenspiels, harmonicas, banjos, double bass and xylophones to name a few.
The way that B of the Bang have the ability build their tracks must be commended and they no doubt have the ability to get a room, no matter how big, dancing and screaming. I am sure their live show, (imagine the 14 people) would be something to behold indeed.
Track Five “The Making of the Little Bean” slows the tempo again, but in a much more restrained and “normal” manner. The Making of the Little Bean uses an organ lead line, which is highly effective, along with what sounds like Caribbean steel drums. It is a lovely song; simple, melodic, yet highly effective. In fairness the whole of “Beginning.Middle.End” is strong and should be listened too by anyone looking for a new band that has originality, melody, energy and emotion at its heart.
Track Nine “Delores” adds a new dimension to the album, with the addition of a female vocal. If I am honest, if there had been more of the female vocal throughout the album, The B of the Bang could have elevated themselves to greatness. Alas, the female vocal is too thin on the ground, but perhaps this is something they will use more of in the future.
Track Eleven “ Treasure Maps” is another gem. It is an alt-folk number, with lovely vocal harmonies and a sumptuous cello line. On listening, one would really believe at points that you are on a ship, tilting towards a pirate treasure. If there is only one song you check out by this band, this should be the one, trust me.
[Call Upon The Author]
Those of you who keep up with events at Call Upon The Author will have already come to the conclusion that we’re big fans of Jelly Maid music artists The B Of The Bang.
So it’s with excitement and just a hint of trepidation (when you’re really into a band, new material is always best approached with caution lest it be a huge disappointment - ask anyone who used to like the Killers and bought their latest effort) that I slip this disc into the CD player.
There are old favourites here, ‘Alfred Light The Fires’ with it’s jaunty jazz beats, the trippy minimalism of ‘Alaska’ and the heart rending beauty of ‘Lung’ are all well known to fans of Wit and his collective of like minded minstrels. The album is punctuated by snippets of music, the titular ‘Beginning’, ‘Middle’ and ‘End’, but we’ll breeze past them and get to the meat of the new tracks, there are some great new tunes, from ‘Dolores’ with it’s almost upbeat feel and some great backing vocals courtesy of the lovely Roberta from Hold Fast, to ‘The Making Of The Making Of’, another minimalist effort that has echoes of a stripped back Divine Comedy. Pick of the new material though is the haunting ‘(We Used To Draw) Treasure Maps’. This song feels, in mood at least, like a companion piece to ‘Lung’, both of them propelled along by Christopher Whitear’s powerful but soothing baritone.
There used to be a charmingly shambolic feel to The B Of The Bang, but on this evidence they’ve got their act together and, that being the case, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
With possibly the greatest start to an album since Bright Eyes - Fevers and Mirrors, the tone is set, although it is a tone that will constantly shift throughout the journey. The eerie, hypnotic 'Beginning' gently caresses you into the album, and provides a nice contrast to the effervescent 'Alaska'.
In spite of the deeply affecting pathos filled lyrics of 'Lung', you can't help but feel strangely uplifted by it. As the song drives towards it's thunderous crescendo, you are filled with a wonderful contrast of emotions. Never before has dark felt so light. It truly captures the oxymoronic beauty to The B of the Bang. An anti-anthem if you will.
'Little Bean' is the musical equivalent to being w*nked-off by a highly attractive, slightly older women. It starts of as the sort of gothic folk song you’d probably hear sung around the fire at Camp Crystal Lake. As things drift along, we are given clues of something lurking underneath with small teasings of feedback. By the time the harmonica comes in, we can feel it coming, something beautiful is about to happen. When it finally comes, the pay off is blissful. I can honestly say, those first few seconds where the electric guitar tears in are one of my favourite few seconds of music. Ever. Even on the 14th, 15th listen, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
'Delores' is a fine example of how The B of the Bang is far more than just creating a dark, sombre atmosphere, they also know their way around a good, catchy pop-tune. One that Rivers Cuomo would be proud of. Yet it never feels contrived or as if they are operating out of thier comfort zone. By the end of the song, you're begging for another chorus and the fact that you don't get one makes it all the better. On a side note, may I also add that this song contains my current favourite B of the Bang lyric 'The Emphasis should be romantic, but no one got the joke but you'
'Treasure Maps' has done something to my brain. It's as if, after the first listen, the song secreted a strange mini organism through my ear canal into my temporal lobe which now proceeds to play it on a constant loop.
'Last Day on Earth' again highlights the contradictory nature of the B of the Bang. A lovelorn lament wrapped up in a toe-tapping country-tinged ditty. If Ryan Adams locked the Cardinals in a dark room full of corpses for a week and then released them to play a barn dance, this might be the song they play.
Quite simply the album is a marvel. A stunning piece of work.
Beautifully schizophrenic, ethereally haunting and darkly uplifting from Beginning, middle to End.