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Brand New Zeros New LP

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Brand New Zeros BACK TO ZEROS. Fretsore Records

Recalling the amped-up highs of 70s-era The Who, to the grunge grittiness of Pearl Jam in their prime; the London band return with a new track that also heralds the release of a new album: BACK TO ZERO (out now, via Fretsore Records).

From its swampy beginnings to its loping arrangements and sky high chorus, frontman Ronan MacManus summons primal vocals to command a torrent vintage rock ‘n’ roll sounds let-loose by the Zeros’ incendiary guitarist Luke Dolan. Notable for the fine sticks-work to be heard courtesy of Carlton Hunt, ‘This Love’ was born out of a studio jam with the late drummer; a session that would also turn out to be one of his last. With this recording and indeed the entirety of their upcoming album standing as a remarkable tribute to his memory, Ronan MacManus reminiscences:

“The version you hear is exactly how the song happened live, it came out in one go, fully formed and we built the rest of the track around that original recording. It is a track very close to our hearts due to Carlton’s passing and is a teaser of what might have been in the next phase of the band we were just beginning that was so tragically stopped in its tracks.”

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Review

It makes a change to listen to some simple and honest rock especially when it’s as well written as this. BACK TO ZEROS arrives with strong melodies to keep the mind attentive with powerful and skilled performances. But there’s even more…The record’s production conveys a live performance sound and feel which I find compelling. Opener ‘Love You If You Let Me’ is a prime example of this winning formula while ‘Money Goes To Money’ adds a powerful, funky  rhythm as the serious and topical theme is communicated via a gravelly vocal that reminds me of Joe Cocker. It’s a stormer complete with some of the most exciting guitar riffs I’ve heard in 2021, and with a melody an choruses that should be all over rock radio.

‘Can’t Do It’ explodes with a jagged bassline, angry vocal, riotous choruses and a melody that really couldn’t be much stronger. ‘Free As A Bird’ provides beautiful sonic respite (and welcome diversity) with a gently flowing tune with a matching expressive and emotional vocal. It’s a special song and one of the most moving I’ve heard this year. There’s a touch of Americana in the sound and some telling guitar riffs that climb mighty high. Superb. ‘Angels With Guns’  follows the thoughtful mood but travels up tempo as the band protests against the dreadful mass killings in the USA at schools. ‘This Love’  opens with a rush of guitars and drums as the song races along in heavy rock style before the drum moments begin to dominate in no uncertain way, accompanies by a screaming MacManus vocal. ‘Song For Richenda’ is a romantic, slow and emotional interlude with the most expressive vocal on the record.

‘Human Kindness’ reverts to keyboard to convey another moving beauty of a song. Lyrically, it wins hands-down: “Can you hear the words that you are saying?/What’s going on is something strange/When people stop hoping and start praying/That’s when you know it’s time to change… Do you know you’re taking the food out of their mouths?/Do you keep you’re taking the heat out of their house?/Is compassion just a fashion that’s fading out/Cos I’ll tell you what I’ve found/It’s not the dollar or the pound/What makes the world go round is human kindness/What makes the world go round is human kindness.” Here’s a band that cares with a musical, melodic way of showing it. Brilliant.

The record is concluded with another emotional, contemplative rollercoaster with stripped-down instrumental backdrop and vocal that is moving and convincing. This is my first experience of Brand New Zeros but on the strength of this record it won’t be my last. It’s one of the most essential rock records of the year by a Brit band who could well make it well beyond these shores. A brilliant and diverse rock effort.

4.5/5

BACK TO ZERO - ALBUM TRACK LISTING
1 Love You If You Let Me
2 Money Goes To Money
3 Can’t Do It
4 Free As A Bird
5 Angels With Guns
6 Song for Richenda
7 This Love
8 Human Kindness
9 Cigarette
10 The Right Ones
11 I Carry Your Heart In Mine

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Back-Zero-Brand-New-Zeros/dp/B096MVYBXG/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=brand+new+zeros+back+to+zero&qid=1626858181&s=music&sr=1-1

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Biography

Brand New Zeros is singer-songwriter Ronan MacManus and lead guitarist Luke Dolan. Cutting their teeth (and hair) at rehearsals in Dolan’s barbershop in Watford, the pairing quickly struck-up a potent creative relationship and began writing music together. Realising their potential, events escalated rapidly from there and before too long Brand New Zero’s had grown into a fully fledged band project with label signings and tour opportunities soon landing at their feet. Releasing their s/t debut album in 2015, the Zeros also landed a breakthrough tour with Ronan’s big brother Declan MacManus, perhaps better known as Elvis Costello.

Signing to Fretsore Records in 2019, after a succession of warmly received singles, the band are finally ready to release their long-awaited follow-up album: BACK TO ZERO.

Laying out a smorgasbord of influences in songs that take-in the sounds of classic rock, grunge, folk, new-wave, Americana and much more; listeners of BACK TO ZERO will be disarmed by heart-on-sleeve tenderness akin to Paul Weller one moment, charmed by Squeeze-style curiosities the next, and exhilarated by Who-esque rock rampages, all in one session.

Led by MacManus’ versatile vocal, BACK TO ZERO finds a band unafraid to speak their mind and speak it loud. Hard-hitting songs about the staggering wealth divide (‘Money Goes To Money’) and commentaries on the alarming escalation in mass-shootings in schools (‘Angels With Guns’), sit alongside more introspective songs about facing your demons in the face of temptation (‘Cigarette’) and the substance of ‘Human Kindness’; the latter being a topic we have perhaps all dwelled on over the past year. As MacManus says of the song:

“I wrote ‘Human Kindness’ some time ago from personal experiences, but the current global situation has elevated how the song resonates with me, adding a new dimension of relevance. We had recorded this with the full band for our upcoming album and thought now would be the right time to send it out into the world. As my wife is a nurse, I think we have all seen how the human experience is at its best when we work together, thus inspiring the message of the song.”

An emotive piano-ballad and a centre-piece of the new album, ‘Human Kindness’ found a whole new audience during the pandemic when it was featured on Artists4NHS. A fundraising initiative founded by MacManus, Artists4NHS was launched with the assistance of Elvis Costello, who performed at an organised live-stream performance in its honour, alongside global stars such as Joss Stone and Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers.

A sophomore effort that is so much more than a back-to-basics; taking their cues from the classic to forge something fresh, Brand New Zeros deliver an album of extraordinary range, accomplished performance and emotional heart for the ages.

Available digitally and on limited edition vinyl.

https://brandnewzeros.bandcamp.com/album/back-to-zero
https://www.facebook.com/brandnewzeros/
https://www.fretsorerecords.com/brand-new-zeros/
https://www.last.fm/music/Brand+New+Zeros/Brand+New+Zeros


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