Alternative music reviews

November 14, 2005

Old Britannia by Hey Negrita

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Following up first single ‘Devil In My Shoes’, this is another impressive offering from the London based countrified band. Before delving into the music, special note about the CD disc, designed to look like an old vinyl record (even underneath is coated black) and a good indicator of how traditional the songs will sound. The general rule of thumb I use when listening to distinctively Country music is: how authentic is the music in context of the downbeat lyrics. In this instance, I’m left convinced that Hey Negrita’s main-man Felix means what he sings – ‘Old Britannia’ tackling adolescent struggles of drug addiction. The band has even teamed up with drug and alcohol charity RAPt to play Wandsworth Prison – at the very least; Hey Negrita will play to a captive audience. The deep resonance in vocals and discordant atmosphere generated in the lush arrangements and melancholy guitar picking sounds authentic enough.

The second slice of Americana ‘Come On Jane’ is even more sombre and desolate – which is a good thing. This is a cross between Frank Black and Johnny Cash jamming on a David Lynch soundtrack. Whatever that description means (don’t ask me, the song created this imagery in my head) ‘Come On Jane’ is built totally on atmosphere, as the actual song doesn’t really need a strong melody to work, it’s just one of those songs. Let’s conclude with ‘Down The River’ which mixes up Neil Young catharsis (although not a cover of ‘Down By The River’) with a gently strummed acoustic guitar. As a whole, Hey Negrita are all about the texture and mood created in their low-key music, very considered and dark – the only type of Country music I like in fact.

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Review by Nick Collings

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