It’s always something that puts a smile on my face, when an individual has taken the time to review my bands album. You’d be surprised how few actually bother to listen to it first!
Anyways. this from Manchester recently.
Hightown Pirates ‘Dry & High’
It is that time of year when the saner amongst us take sanctuary from the manufactured seasonal bonhomie and turn our attentions to making lists of the year’s best music releases.
One album that has gone under far too many musical radars will be Hightown Pirates debut album ‘Dry and High’
In a year that has seen strong releases from The National, LCD Soundsystem, War on Drugs and releases from both The Brothers Gallagher, ‘Dry and High’ faces some stiff opposition for your attentions.
But demand it does. And it resolutely deserves a wider audience listen to its multi-layered offerings.
It would nigh on impossible to review this album without mention of both Pirate-in-Chief – Simon Mason – and his crew of musician’s backstory. Addiction. Rehab. Despair. Recovery. And redemption.
All concerned have overcome varying dependencies and are in the constant state of recovery. This album is testimony to all their personal struggles and subsequent vanquishing of alcoholic and narcotic demons….
This segues neatly with the next question. How and why. When you’ve willed yourself to draw your last breath then I’m of the opinion that you should be entitled to do what the fuck you like. If this means writing and recording your debut album at the point in your life when you are knock knocking on 50’s door, no pun intended, crack on.
Mason and his collective have life-experience that would make your average Joe on the street grateful for having suffered no more than a nagging hangover. This and record collections brim full of influences have resulted in an expectation defying album.
The resultant album could easily have been the musical equivalent of those cloying ‘inspirational’ meme’s that flood social media with their delusional optimism. A high-wire is indeed walked but mercifully, none of the new dawn new day vibe feels at all cliched. When Mason sings of ‘the day I nearly died ten years ago’ on ‘Chasing Rainbows’ this is resolutely not a lazy metaphor. Neither does the album preach that we should all be embarking on those infamous Twelve Steps.
Musically, the album starts with a gentle acoustic strum before melding with a wistful snatch of flute. We are then lead down the roads and grubby alleyways that Mason & co have trodden. A world weariness iced with the sheer fucking joy of having a second chance makes for ten uplifting and joyous tracks. Stabs of electric guitar collide with buoyant brass on ‘Chasing Rainbows.’ A clarion call to a second chance at life of a track.
Hooks, infectious choruses, parps of brass and strings make for an exhilarating and rewarding listen. I have been in possession of this album for some six months and am still playing it on a regular basis.
Think of ‘The Gift’ by The Jam if it had gone off the rails and lived in a squat and had to duck and dive for a living and you are arriving at ‘Dry and High’ Kindred Spirits that have trodden a different path but at heart will always be Soul Brothers.
A look into the abyss of despair, and Mason & Co thought fuck that and have produced an album that has no right to be either as good or uplifting as it is.
A rock’n’roll recovery album that is never anything other than a musical melting pot to visit over and over.
I’ll raise a glass to that.
And the great thing about that?
Mason won’t give a fuck what’s in it as he’s more than happy living his dream and resolutely happy in his ‘Dry and High’ state of mind.