Whatever the style of music, it’s ultimately The Song that counts... verse, chorus, hook, all bound together by instrumentation that lifts the spirits and fires the senses. Straightforward enough - but in reality it’s an aspect that’s often (inexplicably) overlooked, taking a lowly spot on the check-list for aspiring stars. Not so with Jettblack...
Formed in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in 2007, and drawing inspiration from an era when rock bands had ‘entertaining an audience’ high on their list of things to do, Jettblack aren’t afraid to get to the point... to unleash The Hook.
From first single/video, ‘Get Your Hands Dirty’ (2010), through to ‘Raining Rock’, lead-off single/video from the second album of the same title, set for release in early June, this four-strong outfit have continued to hone and polish their skills when it comes to delivering material set to linger in the mind.
As a result, none of Jettblack’s songs are conceived to stand in the corner, away from the spotlight; these are BIG, finely-crafted compositions with a built-in swagger, fuelled by the belief that life is short and best enjoyed right now.
At its escapist best, rock has always been about taking a stance on the larger side of life, of looking and sounding a million dollars (roughly £631,000 pounds in her majesty’s pounds & pence), and adding something special to the soundtrack to peoples’ lives; and come Friday night, when the bright lights beckon and there are streets, maybe whole towns, to be painted red, it says much for the quality of Jettblack, both as song-writers and party-starters, that their music can happily exist in the most celebrated of company.
Certainly, the band’s debut outing, ‘Get Your Hands Dirty’, released on the Spinefarm label in spring 2010, is ideal for kick-startin’ a night / weekend on the town, and it’s clear that the likes of ‘Slip It On’ (also part of a five-track EP), ‘When It Comes To Lovin’’ and single/ video ‘Two Hot Girls’ have been much employed for this noble purpose; however, other first album tracks such as ‘Not Even Love’ (a classic ballad of the kind rarely tackled anymore) and the epic seven-minute-plus ‘Innocence Is Mine’ point to a band who, as much as wishing to succeed on a purely primal level, are also deadly serious about the song-writing art, seeking to connect with the emotions and generally raise the bar for their chosen craft.
And with Album Number Two, the 13-track call-to-arms that is ‘Raining Rock’, it is this aspect of their repertoire that Jettblack have chosen to highlight and explore. Of course, no JB record would be properly complete without its more hedonistic side, and there are tracks here that push that side to great and telling effect, the likes of ‘Temptation’, ‘Less Torque, More Thrust’ & ‘Inbetween Lovers’ - tracks best enjoyed at volume with something cold and intoxicating close to hand.
However, from the atmospheric intro piece onwards, it’s clear that, with ‘Raining Rock’, Jettblack have shifted their melodic hard rockin’ style up through the gears, hitting a whole new levels of expertise and power; this time around, the commercial songs are that much more commercial (‘Prison Of Love’, the probable second single, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Never Gonna Give It Up’, etc.), and the no-holds-barred outings (‘System’, ‘Side Of The Road’ and the title track) that much more likely to crack the plaster.
And it’s not just the band who have added an extra dose of tiger to their tank, with producer / engineer Dan Weller - one-time guitarist with ‘Djent’ godfathers SikTh, and the man behind the desk for the band’s first album - showing just how deft a touch he’s developed over the past couple of years, with his list of credits now embracing the likes of Young Guns, Enter Shikari and Rise To Remain.
Simply, ‘Raining Rock’ is a big-sounding record - featuring special guest spots from Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and original Accept vocalist / frontman Udo Dirkschneider, and mixed by Lester Woodward (again, reprising his role from Album One), with the weight and detail of the production giving the material a genuine stature.
"It’s a good sign, I think, when you argue for days over which songs should be the B-sides, and this highlighted our positive frame of mind and the fluidity of the song-writing this time round," says bassist Tom Wright.
"The recording process was an amazing experience as well; working at Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice’s house really set the tone for the record, and the result feels like bigger, better, stronger songs."
Full-on, boldly constructed and walking a fine and timeless line between the contemporary and the classic, ‘Raining Rock’ is an album that makes absolutely no concession to the half-hearted or, well, the half-anything, really.
No. This is glorious rock music - unashamedly loud ‘n’ proud, and delivered with power, passion and the secure knowledge that biggest can very often be best.