Book of Shame came about after a chance meeting in a violin repair shop. The client, Pete Boyd Maclean (Award-winning video director and co-creator of New Orders ‘Blue Monday’ amongst others) and violin restorer, Gary Bridgewood (Multi-Instrumentalist who has toured the world with acts like The Real Tuesday Weld, Michelle Stodart (Magic Numbers) and the Paul Weller backed Troubadour Rose), soon found themselves in “a collaboration that has resulted in an album, a band, a lifestyle and poverty for two men who should know better.” That self-titled album, recorded at the Gun Factory and produced by Rico Conning (The Lines, Wire Depeche Mode, William Orbit), will be released during 2019. Guests on the album include, Fergus Gerrand (Duran Duran, Sting, Katie Melua), Claire Nicholson (Kula Shaker, The Alabama 3), and BJ Cole (Brian Eno, KD Lang, Sting).
I recently caught up with a handful of songs by Book of Shame, and my first impression is: This band is very hard to fit into any box…and I’m talking about a very big box indeed. Rock, Pop, Indie, Punk and Americana, makes no difference to these guys.
They dig in, and let it all hang out, with a grit and swagger that’s been missing from modern recordings for an almost indeterminable period of time. Well, ever since Laptops and Ableton Live have been ruling the musical roost. No fear, Book of Shame have come to fix things, or at least point everyone in the right direction.
Book of Shame wow us with a combination of observational genius wit and overwhelming musical prowess on “Damned”. A track that finds the band at their most profoundly poignant, poetic and incomparably beautiful, in one of their indisputable raw and visceral Americana masterpieces.
They manage to do something that even the best can’t do, as hard as they try: they condense the passion of their youth and the wisdom of their age into 3 minutes and forty six seconds of words and music that bleed authenticity. Now ask the laptop generation if they can do the same with a mouse and an audio digital interface.
It’s hard not to just rave with all capital letters about this track, but to be honest, I’m from another generation. The one that played music, instead of sampling it. “Damned” has so many emotional and musical layers that reveal themselves after repeated listening, that it would drive any less than competent songwriter to despair.
Book of Shame can turn a tune that will either tug at you heart or at least make you think, not once, but twice. “Damned” is reflective and biting at the same time. It will uplift and inspire you to stand tall in the face of adversity.
This is not a track that grabs the listener with a catchy melody and hooks, but opens its bountiful treasures to those who are willing to take the time to pay attention to what Book of Shame are saying, and just as importantly, how they are saying it.
The vocals, instruments, and lyrics are all artfully produced, as the song paints a compelling, organic and atmospheric mural of squealing guitars and soaring vocals, embellished with a gospel choral flavor. The musical arrangement adds a wonderful spice to this narrative.
It takes a rare talent to pull this all together – and here with Book of Shame, we have a bunch of them. “Damned” is the kind of unpretentious, affecting and simply unforgettable music that makes the world a far better place to live in. Now unplug that laptop son, and turn up the bloody stereo!
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