Alphablog

A list of influences and inspirations.

By Paul McDonagh on 05/10/14 | Category - Comment

Augustines released their first album, Rise Ye Sunken Ships, in 2012. It's a serious record, an emotionally honest record of tragedy. The songs are dark and compelling. I must have listened to the album a hundred times that year. The heartaches and the shocks got me every time. I hadn't fallen in love with a new band for years.

The first time I saw them live was at Latitude in Suffolk. The band had this instant connection with the audience. This after a day spent in front of bands that seemed unaware that people were watching and had paid good money to do so. Bill's voice hit me like the midnight howl of a wolf. He looked like a man living through the pain written about in the songs.

The next show was at Shepherds Bush and that was on a different level. The band, the crowd and the stars were in alignment as soon as Bill let loose the first primal scream of Philadelphia. Songs as lyrically dark as Headlong into the Abyss and Book of James became celebrations. It was the most captivating gig I had seen in years.

The next morning I booked up to see them at the Birmingham Ballroom. This was a tiny venue, completely different again. The focus was on the slower songs and the interplay between the band. The highlight was an acoustic version of Philadelphia so fragile I didn't know if they were going to make it to the end. Bill's call to “Soak your scars in the ocean sounded like the most poignant line I'd ever heard. I still don't know how they can sing the same song twice in one gig and make me want to hear it again.

They returned in 2014 with a second album and they pulled it off again. I saw them at Koko in Camden back in April. The new songs, Walkabout and The Avenue, stopped me in my tracks. Towards the end, they came off the stage and played the last songs in the middle of the crowd. There was a power and an intimacy not seen before.

 

They have also covered Bruce Springsteen's Tougher than the Rest. This track is from Tunnel of Love, a Springsteen album that came out when I was a kid. It was written by a man reeling from a divorce and I just didn't get it at the time. I was into the early stuff, the songs about getting out of your hometown and seeking the future. The songs of lost love, betrayal and confusion were lost on me. It was only decades later that I began to understand that record. 

 

This is what is different about Augustines. The songs could only have been written by men who have experienced life when it is broken and it can't be fixed. It is music weighed down with heartbreak. Augustines write about what's left when you've tried the bible, the bottle, the needle and loving people. When you truly know in your bones that your days are numbered. That you're living your life against the clock and it's not worth wasting your time on anything that doesn't deepen your experience. That beauty can only be appreciated when you know how fleeting it all is. 

 

 

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