The Heavy Jets: Common Mantra – Review

by Karl Hodge

Newcastle’s The Heavy Jets deliver a new EP that’s dense with top tunage.

You have to be a certain age or of a distinctly muso inclination to remember The Animals. A muscular beat blues combo from England’s far industrial North, they were easily the UK’s fifth best band in the 60s (full disclosure 1. The Beatles, 2. Rolling Stones, 3. The Who, 4. The Kinks).

If The Animals were forming today, they might sound a bit like fellow Newcastle natives, The Heavy Jets.

The Heavy Jets.

The Heavy Jets. That bus should have come ten minutes ago.

In their third year, the Jets already have one EP behind them and a couple of Battle of the Bands competition wins in their back pocket. With their latest release, they’re getting ready to graduate.

Released on June 6th, the new EP’s called Common Mantra.  The title tune closes the disc so we’ll start with that and work “arse backwards” – as only twats say.

Channelling influences like BRMB and Band of Skulls, the opening chug-a-long riff recalls AC/DC. Mostly in a good way. The vocals, thankfully stay far from metal falsetto histrionics; frontman Rhys Breen sounds like he’s been gargling with nuts and bolts.

Breen proves on third track I’ve Been Away that he can also do melodic – his rich tenor a contrast to all those whiny crying boys with pork pie hats clogging up the indie charts. There’s some chimey, interwoven arpeggio stuff here too. It’s not as convincing as Common Mantra’s chunky fuzz, exposing some of the rough edges that make the Jet’s heavier tunes more endearing.

Thankfully, Don’t Tell Me Why is another confident early 70s stomper with throat shredding vox and a solo at the back end that is pure Purple. Come to think of it, the key thing missing from this whole set of songs (apart from better production) is a bit of Hammond organ. These lads could really do with finding their own Jon Lord. They can’t have the old one, ‘cos he died two years ago.

The Heavy Jets leave the best until first. The EP opens with Drop, a tune that could have been recorded anytime between 1968 and yesterday. With a primal howl of feedback that gives way to a drum tsunami, this is a chunky, chopped up blues machine. The bridge sounds like The Byrds using Jimi Hendrix’s back-line. It’s all gone before you ever noticed it was there and gets hookier with every play.

It’s all solid, blokey and bluesy fun.

The Heavy Jets are quite probably blistering live and have good times ahead of them – especially if they can find more tunes like “Drop”. At their best they sing the blues like men possessed with Robert Johnson’s stolen soul. Or, at the very least, Eric Burdon’s.

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