There's a trick to making a drum and guitar duo sound full enough. Chapel Hill's power-pop act Blag'ard makes great strides in this direction. The group (Joe Taylor of Capsize 7 on lead vocals and guitar, and Adam Brinson on backup vocals and drums) launches its new album, Fresh Candy with the driving, punchy "Candy Town." The song is an ironic ode to fashion and pop culture with post-punk insouciance and no regard for starchy political correctness: "Like a fat kid with a tub of ice cream I'm delighted. I don't fight it," Taylor sings.
The melody is often carried by Taylor's vocal, which is equal parts muscular and churlish. "Rusted Chrome" marries the clang of cymbal and snare with the industrial churn of guitar. "Pony Boy" is a more obvious nod to the band's '90s-rock influences - reigned in Chili Peppers, stripped-down Collective Soul, less-funky Lenny Kravitz. The song is under three minutes long, but it's split into movements with the "We're all trying, we're all dying" chorus backed by a wall of guitar.
Songs morph one into the next, giving Fresh Candy a slightly schizophrenic feel. This is lessened by the fact that there's a sort of gloom-giving-way-to-hope theme that runs throughout, and a consistence of sound that sometimes borders on sameness. "Down South" is a darker turn for the band with its hyper-paced percussion the hero of the track.
Melodic "Candles" moves at a slightly different speed than the rest of the album, but it's a stand out. It's nostalgic and a little angry (there's a sneer in most of Blag'ard's tracks), but also a crude prettiness. "Scapes" is also built on uplifting melody, it's lilting guitar part as rhythmic as the percussion. There's a strident, almost anthemic feel to the song as it skips its way to the cuff and howl of the bridge. Those two moods of the song - scrappy charm and capricious angst - are really the two forces propelling Fresh Candy.
And the conclusion, the snarling, punk-edged "Tea is for Cookie," is as humorous as it is fierce. "Which one of you guys is the tough one?" Taylor demands. "Sugar, cream, lemon and a friend of mind." And though (like sugar),Fresh Candy is best consumed in small bites rather than all at once, it's an easily-digestible album loaded with sweet moments.
Straightforward alternative rock that's loaded with hooks and gritty riffs, though this is just a duo, with only guitars, drums and vocals, they create a very fluent sound, often nodding towards '90s modern rock outfits. The songs all carry a melodic sense, sometimes punk spirited, other times power-pop driven, but never losing steam or intrigue all the way through.
-- Tom Haugen
NEW MUSIC: BLAG'ARD'S LATEST RELEASE, "FRESH CANDY"!Click for Link November 16, 2012 · by Ouch Magazine · In Music
Blagard has been delivered to stores nationwide, and it's ready to be enjoyed! This album is a throwback to rock in its truest form, when soundboards weren't used to create synthetic instrumentation and beat-driven pop music wasn't described as 'rock'. Using only a drum kit and a guitar, Blag'ard has created a timeless sound through a collection of both deeply personal and lightheartedly humorous songs."Getting a 'thumbs up' from KCRW is f**ckin' great," says Joe Taylor, Blag'ard's guitarist and lead singer. "We've worked really hard on this album and to see it making its way onto the radio is fantastic."
Taste "Fresh Candy" today, and add it to your radio playlist!
Despite the "eye candy" on the front and back covers of the CD (naked-girl-holding-a-guitar-that-she-probably-doesn't-know-how-to-play look), the duo of Joe Taylor on guitar/vocals, and Adam Brinson on drums/vocals, have the cool vibe of Jane's Addiction, if Jane's had not gotten humungous egos after their second album, and done mostly mediocre albums after that.
Blag'ard actually down-size Jane's Addiction huge sound, but not their mojo. "Candy Town,' "Pony Boy," or "Tea is for Cookie," are somewhat off-the-wall-rockers with generous bits of twisted humor for good measure. Fresh Candy has depth and flavor (no pun intended), and they add a few bells and whistles here and there, not only to keep your attention, but to add originality. Fresh Candy is an album that doesn't slip into tribute territory; this band is the real thing. Blag'ard are able to get to that wildness of rock 'n' roll, and marry it to discipline and tradition, making it sound effortless, awe-inspiring, and tight as nails.
To paraphrase an old Saturday Night Live character, "Hey - remember the Nineties?"
The Nineties were an unusual decade; pop and rock once again started to come awfully close to being the same thing for the first time in years and a gritty, grimy independent release which had been made on a nothing budget had a chance to be the badge of honor that fans wore wore because they found it before "the next big thing" broke through and conquered the world. It was a pretty cool time - and it has come back to life on Fresh Candy, the new album by Blag'ard.
From top to bottom and back to front, Fresh Candy smacks of work made modestly in the Nineties; the artwork on the front and back covers is cheesy and misogynist, the song-titles listed are pretty formulaic and the color scheme is eye-catching only because it is incredibly garish. It's not pretty - but as soon as the record starts to play, listeners will begin to remember how good some of those modestly made albums could be. Right from the beginning of "Candy Town," the embryonic days of bands who would eventually become royalty like Local H and Kings Of Leon growl miserably and muffled out of Joe Taylor's guitar, Adam Brinson's drums and the vocals supplied by both. It's hard to not want to fall right back into that old mindset right there, but the band keeps it up and going into "Rusted Chrome" (forget how bad the title is, Taylor's vocal melody and lines like "If you could shout into the night/ and it would carry on forever/ like a star's ancient light/ then maybe I would care" are worth the price of admission) just to prove that the band isn't likely to let this idea go.
From right there, with little to no effort on their part at all, Blag'ard will have listeners eating out of their hands - but they're only getting warmed up.
From there, songs like "Pony Boy," "Down South," "Integrity" and "Scape" keep the alt-rock energy flowing forth straight and true and the band really concentrates on presenting their finest performances. They do a pretty good job at it; the absence of a production value means the band has nowhere to hide so they're careful not to overreach or produce anything they couldn't pull off onstage with just one guitar, one drum kit and two voices. That the band seems to know their limitations on this record is refreshing, and listeners will find themselves starting to appreciate the fact that the band seems content to reside in their box, for now.
DJ Jack Rabid, the man respponsible for bringing you the national music magazine The Big Takeover> has seen fit to play some Blag'ard on his radio program "BreakThru Radio". He selected the song "Nice to Pedro" for his show on Monday, Dec 17th. F'n hell yes.
Dan Herman, is a freeform radio podcast pioneer (ten years + broadcasting) currently based in Philly. Radio Crystal Blue is: (from the website www.radiocrystalblue.net) "This program is the collection of sounds that are generated by top indie and touring artists that are not major-label.just everyone else." Novus Ordo is a program where Dan chooses one song from eight selected new releases - he plays the song and reads a bio of the band. Blag'ard is delighted to be selected. For an MP3 of the program click here.
"Lopsided World of L" is a cool radio show hosted from Berlin by veteran DJ Jonathan L (has formerly interviewed the likes of Nirvana and the Ramones, etc. etc. etc.). The show is international being aired in Sweden and Phoenix, AZ, on FM stations and on the web in LA (www.Indie1031.com) and Berlin (King FM). The show airs Saturday 11/10 and the Blag'ard song "Candles" from the new record "Fresh Candy" is going to be played right at the end of the set. It's an honor.
Gorgeous Media is going to be spearheading the publicity for "Fresh Candy", thusly Joe from Blag'ard can put his stack of duct-taped recycled bubble-packs into the garbage at long last. Gorgeous Media is owned and run by Versa Manos. Versa helped the likes of The Police and The Clash in their early days and more recently has handled PR for reggae legends The Wailers, and indie rockers Veruca Salt.
Joe Taylor is proving there's life beyond his underrated Capsize 7. Fresh is his newer Chapel Hill, NC duo's third album besides an EP, and the singer/guitarist-with drummer Adam Brinson, who sings oft-kilter harmonies- is on it, still. Fans scrutinizing North Carolina post-punk since the diaper days of Polvo, Seam, Archers Of Loaf, and later Superchunk circa Indoor Living will appreciate Taylor's scratchy Wire Pink Flag to Mission of Burma guitar thrusts (as will Lou Barlow lovers), which he sometimes lets stray into dissonance. Plus the kinetic-waltz "Pony Boy" hints of Buzzcocks' helter-skelter "Sixteen" and "Moving Away From the Pulsebeat." (There's a funny Joe Walsh reference, too.) Finally, they are urged on by prickly production from Brian Paulson (of hot '80s Big T favorite Man Sized Action, before recording Slint, Polvo, Wilco, Barlow's Dinosaur Jr. etc.). Fresh candy indeed. (pigzenspace.com)
North Carolina's Blag'ard offer alternative rock of the strictly "no frills" variety. Just one listen to their songs and you get the picture of a couple of working men taking their frustrations out a beat-up set of guitars and drums. That's probably not an exciting prospect in itself but the duo of Joe Taylor and cohort Adam Brinson make the best of what they've got with their hook-heavy rock sound.
As 'Candy Town' starts the album, one can be forgiven that Blag'ard have slowed to a bluesy rock crawl but the cunning twosome soon turn it into their familiar and highly serviceable mix of raw riffage and crafty hooks. If 'Pony Boy' seems a little too sombre and lo-fi, there's much pleasure to be had from the de-tuned guitars of 'Down South' and 'Tea Is For Cookie' or the infectious tension of 'Integrity', whose title alone could be a description of their approach.
For once, Adam and Joe sound a little jaded on parts of this record but to a certain extent musical development is not too applicable to this kind of music. In addition, whilst 'Fresh Candy' never tries to break out from the solid formula, in a parallel universe it's feasible they could be just as famous as The Black Keys.
Blag'ard Official Site
Link to Stream of Album
Pavement, The Mitchells