Blood And Sand
05 May 2014
by Alex Andrews
Here’s a controversial opinion: punk rock did not reach its pinnacle in New York, London or Washington DC, but in the north of England at some point in the 90s. I’m talking about bands like Broccoli, Chopper, Hooton 3 Car and most notably, Leatherface, the latter who blended the harshly-accented dialect of their native Sunderland, with rich melodies and the kind of burly, bar stool poetry that Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan has based his whole career upon.
Although the likes Milloy and Dugong kept the flame burning in more recent years, the UK has suffered from a shortage of gutsy, melodic punk bands as American influences have taken precedence. If you haven’t already figured where this is going, Bear Trade are the latest in a long lineage that prides itself on marrying the melodies of hardcore’s renaissance period (think: Hüsker Dü, The Replacements) with a quintessential, inescapable Britishness.
From the outset, Bear Trade nail their colours firmly to their mast. The video for ‘Son of the Manse’ joins the four-piece at a kitchen table, deadpanning to the camera and ploughing through an ungodly amount of booze. On first impression, it’s hard to get too excited about the band’s meat-and-potatoes punk rock, but beneath the skin of Blood And Sand, there’s a battered, beating heart and a vibrant Northern soul.
Less nuanced than Leatherface, the bulk of Blood And Sand gallops along breathlessly, with melodies that rattle around your head for hours after hearing them. Barely three minutes in and ‘If Stoic Was Normal’ feels like Bear Trade are already on a victory lap, only to follow with a pair of songs that are just as strong.
Blood And Sand is not only catchier and rowdier than the majority of what passes for punk rock in 2014, it feels a lot more honest. Even for someone who gets a nose bleed any further north of the Watford Gap, the banks of the Tyne reverberate so strongly through Blood And Sand, it’s enough to make you want to knock back a pint of gravy.
Sounds Like: Leatherface, Iron Chic, Down And Outs
Standout Tracks: If Stoic Was Normal, Dolly Mixtures, Anathema