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No one was more pleased than I at the return of Hundred Reasons in 2007, especially as the band seemed to be getting less known somehow and details on a fourth album were sceptical at best. Fortunately they managed to release 'Quick The Word, Sharp The Action' as well as being able to tour a fair bit, perhaps not in the grandeur style of the early days, but intimate/insane small venues catering to their cult following. I recall a gig in Aldershot where the band members simply strolled around before and after the show, drinks in hand, chatting to the fans - most pleasant, down to earth lads you could meet. Its sad for me to say that I can finally understand as to why they are becoming an acquired taste instead of a household brand that they were predicted to become during the early 00's. The brand of music has changed one step too far into unknown territory which has got its positives, but also a fair amount of average, at times uninspiring, sounds. It was also re-released in 2009 due to complications with record label and rights ownership.
Instead of kicking things off with a standard hi hat countdown, grizzly guitar riff or atmospherical dirge, QTWSTA introduces itself with a piano piece. Nothing special but its a good enough track that showcases Larry Hibbit's singing ability - Again, nothing special and a bit nasal, but its still a rip roaring, polished track. Song 2 is what puts a smile on your face - 'No Way Back' the albums first single and probably the most popular track, is as upbeat as HR have ever been, rolling back the years with more lovely harmonized voices and synchronized guitars. "Watch us strive hard honey or there's no way out of here" grinded out by frontman Colin Doran and backed up by Hibbit's "you knoooooooooooooow". Definitely a song to savour and stand out track. You can tell they have changed when 'Sick Little Masquerade' starts with a strange fairy like organ/glockenspiel effect spewed riff. This song conversely, sticks to the bands roots as well, ever wandering guitar and bass, with the all important karaoke chorus with the long notes. The mood is difficult to determine at this stage. Luckily its all smiles as soon as track 4 is underway. Standard chords and song structure aside, its a brilliant song thats simple and works its way into my playlists quite often. 'Boy' makes use of the phaser effect again and draws you in with that superb chorus "You found it out boy, on the way. what's the use boy, in playing games? You found it out boy, and lost your name, what's the use boy, a picture frame of yesterday." In my opinion, this song sums up the album rather well, as if to say that the band members aren't kids anymore and although they didn't technically live up to their billing, they've experienced the top and still do what they love.
'Slipping Away' is a song hanging onto a guitar melody, but has a familiar percussive build up. Effectively its a song without a chorus as it raises itself a couple of times but fails to go anywhere to keep you interested. As for instrumental track 'Pernavas Iela' I haven't the foggiest what they were getting at. Its a slow and steady something or other with a lot of background conversations with a theme that slightly ressembles 'Shatterproof Is Not A Challenge's 'Savanna'. Thankfully its followed by a marvelous track that will always get shouted out as a request during live shows, albeit somewhat jokingly. 'The Shredder' is another one of those songs that HR come up with every now and again that sees the band go mental. With guitars sounding a bit like The Editors, upstrokes galore, vocalist Doran literally loses his mind in a screaming insanity fit of rage. Most of it indecipherable but none the less a song you'd love to jump around to and considering the 'song' it just followed, its a very welcome bit of madness in a much polished track-list. Its almost as if it doesn't belong, but that would severely deprive this album. Ahh back to basics in 'I'll Never Know', where the band sets their instruments to 'blistering' mode, as a resilient Doran accuses you "Good boyfriend, now I try to fake it, you think I'll never know why you try to make me never care at all." the guitars wobble a bit during a breakdown but normal service is resumed with a brief solo, the final single released.
Its not often Hundred Reasons put a foot wrong, let alone make a bad song, however 'She Is Poison' really grates on me. The riff is redundant and unpleasant, the verse being a slight ray of light while the chorus sounds completely alien. Perhaps its a voice effect or just bad harmony with the guitars.. considering who this is, it can't be the latter. Hibbit grabs the microphone once again for 'Opera', again starting with an odd organ type instrument. Its pretty much downbeat throughout apart from a short bit about "Raising a glass". Theres nothing wrong with the singing as such, just that he lacks range, but its best to say he is the guitarist and backing vocalist for a reason. 'Lost For Words' offers a good change of pace with some very nice drum work and top breakdowns instead of a distinct chorus. Larry Hibbit continues to offer up more backing and its obvious that the band miss the edge that ex-guitarist Paul Townsend. Its also not surprising to hear that Hibbit produced the album, hence a greater influence. Never the less, a top song that wouldn't necessarily be out of place on another HR album. 'Out of Time' serves as the final song, one that has always clashed with the track beforehand. They are clearly different but when you are used to the way Hundred Reasons list their songs, you expect either a) an acoustic, quiet number or b) an epic leaving ballad. 'Out Of Time' is neither, its a decent track, just not what was needed in the end.
Despite the glaring changes the band has gone through, they are still more than capable of writing the odd brilliant song and as always, deserving more recognition. Its QTWSTA though that embraces the fact that the band aren't famous anymore, and most certainly won't be again in the foreseeable future, especially with the knowledge that the members all seem to be getting along comfortably with regular day jobs. Regardless, I look forward to any follow up to the album with great anticipation. I'd like to state that I have rated this album in comparison to other HR releases, because compared to many other rock acts today, it definitely deserves another star.
There are a few British bands that seem to just slip under the radar of the musical press and continue to make decent music without the deserved attention. That is most certainly the case for Aldershot based Hundred Reasons, who seem to have been slipping under the radar and making good albums since back in 2001. Now with the release of this, the bands 4th album a few weeks ago they still seem to be keeping up with the same high quality standards they had previously set for themselves. With only one line up change since 2001 it's quite an impressive run for the band and something they continue to highlight within their music.
In fact that one line up change has come since the band released their 3rd album in 2006, with Guitarist and vocalist Pete Townsend leaving the band. His place has been taken by former The Lucky Nine guitarist Ben Doyle and it hasn't really affected the bands overall sound. In fact while the sound the band produce on studio recordings is very impressive it's actually in their live shows that they really excel and it'll be interesting to see how Doyle makes the step into the live arena with the band.
It would seem that the band have taken a rather unusual approach to the latest album however, swapping the traditional recording locations of the UK and America for Latvia. That said the results seem to have come back in a similar vein to the previous albums, mixing a good solid base of old school rock with the current modern trains of influence. There is a slight sprinkling of Emo in there along with a much harder rock edge, seemingly mixed in equal doses with the overriding rock element to create an album that's incredibly easy to listen to and enjoyable.
From the opening bars of the album it gives you a misconstrued feeling of a gentle, peaceful approach but within seconds that impression is shattered as the guitars and drums kick in. The fast pace and upbeat tempo from the beginning are what really make Hundred Reasons one of those bands I really enjoy listening to. The combination of drums, vocals and percussion work really well and create a decent sound that is incredibly easy to listen to. Obviously it is a style that will suit the fans of Rock and heavier indie music but I do feel the musical content offered by Hundred Reasons is suitable for all.
The vocals are still as strong as ever and Colin Doran's vocals still make Hundred Reasons sound unique and instantly recognisable. The guitars really work well with his vocals and his voice in particular works incredibly well with the up tempo sound the band have. In fact it almost sounds like a calming influence in amongst a quite fast paced intense sound and perhaps it is this that gives Hundred reasons a bit of an edge. The vocals unlike a lot of Rock music isn't just the lead singer shouting at the top of his voice. Instead it's a very calculated and well presented sound that works incredibly well.
I wasn't too sure about the album to start with. It seemed to appear from nowhere but within a couple of listens I was convinced that Hundred Reasons were still on top of their game. In particular lead single "No Way Back" and "Opera" really stood out for me on the first couple of listens. I was particularly impressed by "Opera" as it seemed to be the band trying something a little different that still really worked within their sound. It was a little more subdued and didn't rely on their signature fast pace but did really highlight their abilities as musicians.
Likewise I was equally impressed with opening single "No Way Back", which remained true to the bands origins and still sounded very much like the older material. While they have matured and moved on it still helps to remember where you came from and this single certainly did that. There aren't any tracks on the album that I would particularly describe as being weaker than anything else on the album. It flows through quite nicely and like the bands previous releases works really well as an up tempo, decent rock album.
Overall for fans of the band this album is a must buy as tracks like "Break The Glass" are reminiscent of both the older sound and the more mature approach. It's a decent album and unlike a number of bands they don't seem to be running out of ideas and appeal despite this being their fourth studio effort to date. It wouldn't surprise me if Hundred Reasons continued to plug away in the background of the British music scene. I can't seem them abandoning their musical ethic and I think for a band of their style this is most definitely a plus point.
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Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Break The Glass
2 No Way Back
3 Sick Little Masquerade
5 Slipping Away
6 Pernavas Iela
7 The Shredder
8 I'll Never Know
9 She Is Poison
11 Lost For Words
12 Out Of Time