Posts Tagged ‘Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas’

31st December 2020

London-based alt-rock quartet Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas have certainly been keeping busy, and ‘Soho’, released on new years’ eve, is their twelfth – and understandably final – single release of 2020.

There have seen various debates as to the sagacity of releasing a single a month over an album with attendant singles, not least of all around the logistics of promotion (with many suggesting it’s easier to promote an ‘event’ like an album release and building up said release and marketing it with singles rather than the singles being the event in themselves, but 2020 has undoubtedly seen a shift in how music is consumed.

Attentions spans are different and while everyone needs something to look forward, the future always seems to be a distant horizon: in this context, a monthly delivery and a more frequent level of engagement feels ‘right’ somehow, fostering a much-needed sense of community and sustained contact.

With Wood and co inviting comparisons from across a broad range of touchstones spanning The Gaslight Anthem and Arctic Monkeys to Elvis Costello & The Attractions and The Associates, ‘Soho’ is a quintessential indie tune with jangling guitars pinned to a tight rhythm section. It’s not just a Smiths meets Wedding Present throwback stylistically, but a song that captures the essence of classic indie rock tunes of yesteryear, merging boy-meets-girl with kitchen sink drama while throwing in appreciative references to Marianne Faithful. It does very much call to mind the time when Morrissey was someone who wrote relatable songs, before he became quite explicitly an embarrassing racist bellend who rendered is entire back-catalogue unlistenable. More than we hate it when our friends become successful, we hate it when our heroes reveal themselves to be vile, obnoxious pricks.

Ben shows no such indications, thankfully, and ‘Soho’ is an accessible, melodic slice of clean indie pop. It’s accompanied by a video that sees Ben wandering the streets of London, and seeing them bereft of people is strange, unreal almost. There is traffic, busses and bicycles, but benches are empty and the Eye is static.

This, of course, is the world in which we find ourselves, and in counterpointing a song which very much centres around the ordinary, the everyday, with the extraordinary times of the now, Ben Wood presents a striking statement that’s very much a summary of 2020.

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Ben Wood _ The Bad Ideas - Soho Cover

30th September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas return to follow up on August’s ‘Black’ with ‘You’re The Crash I Needed’, and of this release Ben says, “We wanted the lyrics to reflect an awakening, a coming-to after a period of being insular and unaware of one’s own actions but for that to be entirely forced upon you by someone else. Musically ‘You’re The Crash I Needed’ was composed to mirror that sensation of when you fall asleep in front of the TV and then it seems explosively loud and totally overwhelms the senses when you wake up.”

That jolt… to nab the line penned by Editors, it kicks like a sleep twitch. We’re all guilty of sleepwalking through life at some point or another, oblivious of ourselves and the potential repercussions of our actions, and such somnambulance has become the characteristic behaviour in 2020 as we drift from one day to the next. The kick will happen, and no doubt the jolt will provide a real shock to many.

‘You’re The Crash I Needed’ is an indie-goth gut-punch of a song, with hell-for-leather drumming and interweaving guitars reminiscent of Rosetta Stone and early Mission and it’s got a vibrant energy and a kind of sweeping openness that’s simply not commonplace in contemporary music. Then again, nor is that kind of chorused guitar sound.

Balancing breeziness and shade, this is a tight and tense rack and a clear single choice, and while it’s retro it’s anything but cheesy. I for one am excited.

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Single artwork

28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The idea of a single a month isn’t new: The Wedding Present did it back in 1992, and in doing so broke records (pun not intended) for the most chart singles in a year by any artist, erasing Elvis Presley from history in the process. Ok, not quite, but you get the idea.

That was back in the days of record labels and physical releases, meaning the logistics of a similar exercise now are far easier, although the chances of charting are considerably smaller. I’ve seen a number of artist release a single song a day / single or album a month / etc in recent years, and 2020 is the year that Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas decided to put out a single a month.

And so here we are with ‘Black’, the August instalment and eighth offering from an act pitched as being for fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Tom Walker, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, and Queens of the Stone Age – which is a pretty eclectic mix to say the least.

‘Black’ is a song about introspection and self-reflection, and it’s pretty punchy: clocking in at well under three minutes, there’s something unashamedly old-school punk about it. Fast, furious, and built around an unpretentious four-chord thrashabout played with passion and urgency, it’s got a sharp hook and all the energy, not to mention a broad appeal.