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Little Barrie - Stand Your Ground

Little Barrie, Stand Your Ground

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT’S been a tireless 12 months for Little Barrie. Last February, they were basking in the glory of their debut album, We Are Little Barrie, which saw them touring extensively.

And now they’re back with the sophomore effort Stand Your Ground – despite 12 months of studio hopping, producer switching and drummer changing.

The result makes a mockery of “that difficult second album” syndrome to emerge as an even more confident and fuller sounding collection of tracks that are packed with sharp lyrics, huge broiling riffs and a remarkable tenacity.

Stand Your Ground is the culmination of a year spent immersing themselves in the rock ‘n’ roll abandon of Gene Vincent, The Cramps and The Sonics, which has provided the band with a tauter, leaner and more immediate sound.

But the signature funk and soul of their debut is still retained, only sharper.

And the departure of co-founder and drummer Wayne Fulwood doesn’t seem to have hindered them in any way. Front man Barrie Codogan and bass player Lewis Wharton commandeered the services of Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins and close friend Billy Skinner to provide the tougher, edgier beats that characterize the shifting in emphasis.

The standard is set from the outset with the foot-stomping opener Bailing Out emerging as a self-confessed slice of “Bastardised Bo Diddley” – all scatter-gun drum beats and short, sharp blues riffs.

The kick-ass guitar solo midway through really blows you away, suggesting that the party’s really getting warmed up.

Former single Love You follows along in quick succession – a restless confession of desire that’s chock full of skiffling drums, a popping bass line and a crackling lead guitar. It’s indicative of the more urgent rockabilly blues of the album.

Pin That Badge then teases the listener with a rolling riff and stop-start drums before strutting confidently into a rousing hybrid of blues and funk that will get those feet shuffling and the hips swaying. It’s a confident little performer that really emphasises the breezy abandon with which the album has been assembled – it even flirts with the smooth style of Nate James in places.

Having hooked you in so effortlessly, the rest of the album is similarly rewarding.

Highlights include the ultra-cool, ’70s-laced Green Eyed Fool, arguably the best track on the album. Wharton’s bass serving to fill in where the hammond organs of Lalo Schiffrin or David Holmes are missing; and the hand-clap beats determined to get you shuffling across the dancefloor.

Pretty Pictures is a similarly effective, mid-tempo offering that kicks off with a splendid drum roll, before catapulting you into another old-school rockabilly romp; Just Wanna Play seduces from the outset with its gorgeous guitar intro and hard-hitting lyrics (it’s dedicated to some friends who got burned by a record label), and album closer Pay To Join ensures the fusion of funk and blues brings things to a supremely satisfying close.

And take note, there’s a killer hidden track that doesn’t keep you waiting overly long to discover – the closest thing the album has to a mid-tempo ballad but a delicious encore nonetheless. That it fades away mid-guitar solo is, perhaps, the cleverest touch of all because it leaves you thirsting for more.

If you were impressed by Little Barrie’s debut then Stand Your Ground will sweep you off your feet. It’s an excellent second album made all the more remarkable by the difficulty experienced in making it.

Newcomers are urged to join the party now.

Download recommendations: Pin That Badge, Green Eyed Fool, Just Wanna Play, Pay To Join

Track listing:

  1. Bailing Out
  2. Love You
  3. Pin That Badge
  4. Yeah We Know You
  5. Green Eyed Fool
  6. Pretty Pictures
  7. Cash In
  8. Just Wanna Play
  9. Why Don’t You Do It
  10. Pay To Join
  11. Girls & Shoes