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by Dan Grunebaum

The Music

All grown up at 20, the quartet from Leeds return to support their sophomore disc, Welcome to the North

Singer Robert Harvey (left) and co.

Humbly named The Music, they are no longer the bright young things they were in their first tour of Japan a few years ago. At an average age of 18 at the time, the quartet are now at least legal.

With only the delightfully titled You Might As Well Try To Fuck Me EP to their name, The Music were invited on their first visit to Japan mostly based on the buzz generated by their UK live shows. Their tours had been selling out with increasing speed, and the band had already been invited to open for the likes of New Order, the Charlatans, and, yes, the similarly attitudinally oversized Oasis.

That was 2002 and this is 2005. The Music return to Japan as one of the leading English lights of the movement of bands dubbed the New Rock Revolutionaries. They've played big Japanese festivals like Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic, in the process creating a fervent following here based on the proven power of their concerts.

Live, The Music are all wild, psychedelic abandon and monster guitar solos searching for an escape from the drudgery of middle-class life, an escape they seem to have found in spades.

At the time of their first tour, singer Robert Harvey described the group's brilliant single, "Take The Long Road And Walk It." "That song's just about what I've had to do to get where I am today," the singer said without a trace of irony. "When I was 13, I sat back and realized I didn't want to be a part of normal life. There's this thing we call The Wall, and it's a circle. Inside the circle is life and outside is freedom. Fortunately, us four have been able to see over The Wall. Most people aren't so lucky."

Where the Strokes, their peers across the pond, looked to Lou Reed and Television, The Music demonstrated a debt to Led Zeppelin and early British Invasion heavy metal. Harvey howled as if he would change the world, while Nutter played with a passion untainted by the experience of failure.

Following the band's monster self-titled debut, which included much of the material on the first EP, The Music return on the back of a strong showing in the form of Welcome to the North released in September on Virgin. The album was recorded in Atlanta under the direction of producer Brendan O'Brian, whose credits include Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden.

Harvey continues to highlight the Robert Plant comparisons, working his vocal chords to the maximum on songs like "Guide," while unabashedly massive guitar solos provide The Musical bombast. If anything, the band sounds even heavier than on their first album.

This is a band that really must be experienced live to be fully understood. Harvey's one of the more remarkable singers of the moment, staring into the distance with fixed gaze that tells us he believes and is determined to make believers out of the rest of us.

"The Music have always been about the incredible high we get from audiences and the new album is about retaining your spiritual strength in what can be a bad world," he says. "It's about optimism, opening your mind and fighting the cynicism."

Zepp Tokyo, Jan 11-13. See listings for details.

credit: Smash


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