During the 1980’s, one of the most compelling original bands on the Newcastle music scene was The Longknives. Their sound was a swirl of jangly guitars and sweet harmonies that reminded you of a mix of REM and The Church. There was no-one like them on the local scene. In 1990, they released One Word, a four-track cassette that captured the alt-commercial hybrid before the band evolved into The Deep. Now, in 2018, key members have evolved yet again into The Autumn Hearts and released this debut self-titled EP.
Formed in 2016, The Autumn Hearts is primarily a vehicle for the songs of its two principal writers Ed Peters (bass, guitar, vocals) and Dave Robson (guitar, vocals). The sound is slick, aided by modern technology and the talents of Robbie Long at his Funky Lizard studio.
In their own words, the songs are “characterised by the sound of chiming Rickenbacker guitars”. In addition to the REM/Church point of reference, there are streaks of Died Pretty in this 21st-century incarnation of the Robson/Peters combination. And it’s good.
From the opener ‘Things Happen For A Reason’, where the psychedelic choruses and the riff mesmerise, the magic of the layers becomes clear, with the touch of Ronald Jackman (guitar, vocal) and the driving force of Ross Peters (drums, vocals) adding textures that give the songs their depth.
‘I’ll Be Gone’ is more melancholy, with broody harmonies that waft with a gentle sadness around the guitar interplay, reflecting the lyrical search for something of meaning. ‘Is This The Life’ surprises with some deft chord changes while the slower and exceptional ‘What Will Make You Change Your Mind’ blends some nice lyric and guitar lines with soft, angelic background vocals providing an air of hope. The way each song’s subject matter/theme is reinforced through subtle musical nuances throughout is one of the strengths of this record.
And the songs are strong for a reason. “The songs have been road tested over a long period of time”, said Robson. “It’s something we love doing and these are a labour of love”.
‘Parachute’ is short and sweet, with a pop flavour that makes you want to hear more. ‘Head In The Clouds’, with its (once again) suitably lofty sound rounds out the EP proper . . . but . . .there’s a hidden gem – a delightfully psychedelic, swirling vocal-focused reprise of ‘What Will Make Your Mind’ that melts around your ears.
While the songs are accessible, their depth of arrangement demands repeated listens, discovering more each time. There are dark corners of self-effacement and delicious strings of pop melody, all entwined with those irresistibly jangly guitars and lush harmonies. Grab a copy, get some of your favourite relaxant, sit back and immerse yourself in the Autumn Hearts.
You can get the album via the Autumn Hearts Facebook page and it will soon be available on iTunes.
And catch them live for two special shows:
Stag And Hunter Hotel, Mayfield Friday, August 24
Grand Junction Hotel, Maitland Saturday, September 1