The Music still rising toward expectations
March 02, 2005 - By ALAN SCULLEY
For the Call
Like many new English bands, the Music have been heralded in the hype-inclined British music press as the latest group destined to transform the music scene.
Unfortunately, the group's 2002 self-titled, major-label debut failed to deliver on the expectations that had grown from the earlier release of two acclaimed independent label EPs.
While there were glimmers of potential, "The Music" CD was not the fully formed debut some had expected, and the band suffered a fair share of disappointing re-views as a result.
"On the first record, we were all 17 or 18 and we were at the point where it was all just about having fun and getting a vibe going and just trying to make people feel good," singer Robert Harvey said, trying to put the first CD into perspective. "And we got a lot of criticism for that, which we kind of sat there scratching our heads at, going, why, we've done nothing wrong. We're four kids trying to express ourselves."
The lackluster reviews seem to have done nothing but motivate Harvey and his bandmates — guitarist Adam Nutter, bassist Stuart Coleman and drummer Phil Jordan — who formed the group in 1999 in the northern England town of Kippax, Leeds.
"I think we all thought we can write songs, and I think on the second record we kind of went: 'Let's prove it to people that we can write songs,'" Harvey said. "I think we did."
In talking with Harvey, who phoned in from New York just before the start of the band's current U.S. tour, it's clear that mu-sical improvement hasn't been the only thing on his mind.
While he seems decidedly humble and motivated, not by fame or money, but by the simple opportunity to express himself through music, Harvey also showed he has no shortage of ambition. He clearly be-lieves greatness is within the band's grasp.
"That's something I actually do a lot of thinking about as a frontman," Harvey said. "I've got to understand who I am and what I do and how I'm going to approach the next few years of my life and what size do I want this to get to. If it does, I understand I'm not in control of that, but if it does grow to be something massive, am I capable of putting up with it and being able to deal with it? And I've spent a lot of time changing my lifestyle. I've stopped smoking and I don't do any drugs anymore and I've stopped drinking because I want to be the best that I can possibly be. I want to be able to play to thousands of people, and when I watch things like, when I was watching U2, I want to be able to do those things. I want to be able to inspire that many people. I honestly believe we have a chemistry and a sound that could with pat-ience and with time grow — music that could (inspire)."
The next step on the growth chart for the Music is its recently released second CD, "Welcome to the North." The album easily eclipses the group's self-titled debut and hints that the Music might indeed have the talent to achieve big things.
The CD finds the Music sharpening the mix of rock and dance styles ranging from funk to techno that makes them one of the few bands that both rocks and grooves.
"Bleed From Within," "One Way In, No Way Out" and the title song are rockers that swirl around dynamic and cinematic melodies and highly danceable beats.
Songs like "Guide" and "Freedom Fight-ers" aren't quite as epic in nature, but rock forcefully behind taut and catchy guitars and Harvey's soaring vocals. The album's lone ballad, the dreamy "Fight the Feel-ing," is as expansive as many of the rockers, but its quieter feel provides a welcome respite midway through the album.
Harvey credits much of the growth in the band's songwriting to the producer of "Wel-come to the North," Brendan O'Brien.
With credits that include Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden and Bruce Springsteen's two most recent CDs, "The Rising" and the soon-to-be-released "Devils & Dust," O'Brien clearly is one of rock's premier producers.
"He questioned us more than anything," Harvey said. "We had these (song) ideas that weren't massively different than what went on the record, but they'd maybe like be a minute longer. (He'd say), 'Is there really any need for this bit here?'... A lot of it was just pushing us because we are kind of lazy at times when it comes to structure.
"He really did push us really and make us think about every single second of the song," Harvey recalled.
The Music play today — March 3 — at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show cost $12.