Jake Bugg – On My One Review

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That once fabled ‘Dylan 2.0’ from 2012 has changed much since his debut. His second album left some to prophesise that he may be a one hit wonder, retreating back into the decade of his Britpop aesthetic. Shangri La wasn’t that bad, but it certainly wasn’t more than that either and his third studio album needs to find a new found maturity musically, on top of a greater substance and definitive style in general. On My One needs to be more diverse and dynamic for Bugg to prove his doubters wrong.

There is a sense of comfortable familiarity with the title track ‘One My One’. He still has the acoustic guitar in hand, but there is a far greater substance to what is an earthy and solemn sound. The complete isolation the guitar is shrouded in, gives off an air of darkness and mystery and the lyrics are more contemplative if not a little predictable for an artist on a third album; singing about touring, selling records and god. The promise of this track lies in the thoughtful and complementary production from Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Extracting such qualities from a simple acoustic track is easy however, so the jury is still out on this one. ‘Gimme the Love’ has a 90’s Acid House-style drum sample with an escalated, rumbling bass line. The sharp riffs simply fall from this simple, but infectious arrangement. Jake’s sort of half sung rap actually suits his vocal style rather well and the song on the whole functions as an energetic piece of pop; not a hugely creative affair, but one that carries out its function brilliantly. It is a sign of Bugg trying new things with a degree of success. ‘Love Hope and Misery’ points to another musical direction from his previous first two singles. Despite the pedestrian overtures of the opening chords of the track, it soon flourishes into a wider sound of strings and Jake’s wiry, almost Frankie Valli style vocals. It is a smooth and swooning rock ballad and Jake delivers it well and shows a greater musical awareness here. It is not going to be song of the year, but it shows he’s back, developing his style in a more positive direction.

‘Bitter Salt’, is an intermingling of the two styles of his previous singles. The track opens with a simple yet punchy set of chords, backing Bugg’s coarse vocals, driven by lyrics hinting at the more terse tones explored in On My One. The verses then build instrumentally to fabricate the chorus – an unusual fusion of pithy lyricism with an anthem-like structure, sculpted by hearty electric guitars and percussion. This festival -fit arrangement is more comparable to the up-beat ventures of Gimme the Love. The concluding hook of the track is what sets it aside as one of Bugg’s more convoluted numbers. It heightens the song immensely – if festival-goers weren’t already fist-pumping to the chorus, they will be when this electrifying riff detonates. This track may not be an absolute sensation, yet it enhances the speculation around his experimentation. ‘Never Wanna Dance’ is an easy listening and smooth affair with all the musical arrangements of a contemporary soul album with the rolling organs and airy acoustic tones. Tracks like ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’ is a preaching track of political discourse in the style of a Beastie Boys rap. The rough edged riffs work well as a backdrop. Meanwhile ‘Put Out The Fire’ is in the more familiar country style albeit a 1960’s variant of it. All in all, it resprents a mixed bag of styles and genres tried out by Bugg that are only loosely connected as a body of music. He doesn’t always get it right, but it is an album that perhaps Jake Bugg needed to explore and test a new direction. This album has pretty much seen Bugg publishing his findings as opposed to acting on them, but nevertheless he’s recovered his potential with this album.

Jake Bugg – On My One = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle & Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Jake Bugg – Bitter Salt

Jake Bugg is full of surprises. First, we get a taste of a soulful, bluesy direction with the sombre sounds of On My One and Love, Hope and Misery – an indication that the Nottingham-born singer-songwriter is sticking to his dark and vintage roots. As well as this, we get the fast-paced Gimme the Love; a track with an electronic undercurrent completely contrasting from any of Bugg’s other material. His latest endeavour, Bitter Salt, is an intermingling of the two styles. The track opens with a simple yet punchy set of chords, backing Bugg’s coarse vocals, driven by lyrics hinting at the more terse tones explored in On My One. The verses then build instrumentally to fabricate the chorus – an unusual fusion of pithy lyricism with an anthem-like structure, sculpted by hearty electric guitars and percussion. This festival -fit arrangement is more comparable to the up-beat ventures of Gimme the Love. The concluding hook of the track is what sets it aside as one of Bugg’s more convoluted numbers. It heightens the song immensely – if festival-goers weren’t already fist-pumping to the chorus, they will be when this electrifying riff detonates. This track may not be an absolute sensation, yet it certainly enhances the intrigue surrounding Jake Bugg’s experimental third studio album.

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Jake Bugg – Love, Hope and Misery

With his June 17th album On My One on it’s way, Clifton’s golden boy Jake Bugg has released a third single from what will be his third studio album and it points to another musical direction from his previous first two singles. Despite the pedestrian overtures of the opening chords of the track, it soon flourishes into a wider sound of strings and Jake’s wiry, almost Frankie Valli style vocals. It is a smooth and swooning rock ballad and Jake delivers it well and shows a greater musical awareness here. It is not going to be song of the year, but it shows he’s back, developing his style in a more positive direction.

Owen Riddle

Jake Bugg – Shangri La Review

Jake Bugg has had a pretty rapid rise to fame and fortune in just about two years. From rolling up with just a guitar at the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury; to his number one album and his quick-fire second outing with the famed producer Rick Rubin in California. It’s certainly a world away from Clifton in Nottingham. You wonder whether such instant scrutiny and pressure might be at a detriment to his music and creativity. A second album is always a pressurised situation as it is. Jake might have got a bit of a jump-start with getting the follow up album out there rapidly. It minimises the pressure to some degree, while keeping up the intrigue whipped up by his debut. In that sense it is a pretty smart move. But has it paid off?

 ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ is the first single to come off Shangri La which is named after the recording studios he used with Rick Rubin in Malibu. It struck many people after the rehash of ‘Broken’ a few months ago that perhaps he was under going a corporate brainwash but it would just seem that he and Rick were going for the solemn and emotive feel. This isn’t the case with ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ The energy and raw feel of his debut is still there but the riff it’s channelled through has more parts to it and so it enhances the rapid and fast paced delivery. The folk tinge has gone with this song as well. It’s a no nonsense rock song which would sound pretty familiar if it were not for his vocal of course. It runs across and above the music easily and cuts through it like a hot knife through butter. The hooks are laid out for Jake and the chord progression is made to grab you by your ears in the typical sense. Though it isn’t hugely innovative or new it will have people dancing in the scenester and indie discos without fail and it might do enough to get him a decent chart showing. ‘Slumville Sunrise’ is the next single off the album and maintains the more fuzzy, gritty and less clear sound with the deep churning bass lines and the unrelenting rhythm sections that’s layered with a lead riff that just about peers out over the layers of sound. This comes to the fore after the chorus with a typical rip-roaring guitar solo. There is a much more American sound with this track that comes from the general instrumentals and musical structure that would ensure it wouldn’t sound out of place in a Nashville sports bar. On top of that it seems Jake manipulates his vocals to put on a slight American twang on his vocal too. He pulls it off nonetheless but compared to ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ it doesn’t have instantaneous confidence about it.

‘A Song About Love’ is much more considered and mellow in tone. His emotion comes across a lot more here and are easily channelled through what is a standard acoustic ballad. It is hard to grind a tune or melody out of this song though and you fell more could have been done with it to enhance the tone while making it interesting. ‘Kitchen Table’ has a odd staccato feel about it with the subtle organs and feathered percussion making it a cool and slick instrumental performance. At first it would seem Jake’s vocals don’t intertwine with the song and are too isolated and loud compared to the music. However, there are moments where it works well and the instrumentals help Jake roll off the lyrics more fluidly. Songs such as ‘Me and You’ are testament to his improved and more matured vocal performances and tracks like ‘Simple Pleasures’ and ‘All Your Reasons see his style interpreted differently by more steadier, guitar laden tunes with more focus on melody and the build up of sounds. But on the whole; you can’t help but feel it hasn’t fully delivered on the promise and if working with Rick Rubin has done anything then it has made him sound more generic and has made him blend in with a whole hosts of acts musically. His vocal being his saving grace. It is still a solid effort from Jake and there are some signs of progression from his debut, but on the whole his debut is better and he must not become complacent. Another album of this style will do him more harm than good.

Jake Bugg – Shangri La = 7.5/10

Images from http://en.wikipedia.org / http://ainhoaaristizabal.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/httpwp-mep2sum5-2gs/