You know what? I’m in Adult Pop mode this week. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you’re an adult. I’ve been listening to Scars on 45, the group out of Bradford, England, for several months now, and with the release of their debut LP (self titled) last Tuesday, I can’t help but think they’re on the verge of blowing up.
If you like The Fray, quit reading right now and buy this album. If you don’t like The Fray at all, or are just kinda ambivalent… then keep reading? I guess it would be nice if someone read this.
To say the lads and lass of Scars on 45 remind me of the Denver quartet known for mix station mainstays “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and “How to Save a Life” isn’t much of a stretch. In fact, it’s a necessary evil that I need to get out of the way early. For one thing, they’ve both been featured on Grey’s Anatomy. The lead single from the Grey’s Vol. 4 Soundtrack that will have moms across America swooning is “Heart on Fire,” batting third on the Scars LP and packing a mature piano-pop sound. Also English accents. Swoon!
None of that is meant to be condescending, because I really like Scars’ sound. It helps that they have a lady vocalist, Aimee Driver, who provides beautiful harmonies and takes the lead on some verses and the occasional entire song (“Change My Needs”). The balance between her and lead singer Danny Bemrose makes for some great natural romantic undertones to songs that are, largely, about romance.
Most of the tracks on the album have a similar mix: piano, acoustic guitar, and a chorus of harmonizing vocals; mellow electric riffs; bass lines that complement everything else. Scars aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve – read: Oasis, Augustana, etc… but they’re not knock-offs either, and the fact that they’re able to match up sonically to such accomplished acts is an impressive feat for a band so fresh on the popular music scene.
Bemrose didn’t even consider a career in music until a foot injury cut his professional soccer career short some twelve years ago, at which point he met up with another former player in Stuart Nichols. Bemrose and Nichols began learning guitar and bass, respectively, lighting the fuse to what would eventually become Scars on 45. Keyboardist David Nowakowski and drummer Chris Durling were added and material soon started coming together. Their first gig as a band came in 2007, the same year they added Aimee Driver, who had never sung for an audience before then.
For a time the band was confined to mostly smaller gigs in England, but as of late things have really begun to pick up steam: a label signing; features on Grey’s Anatomy, CSI: New York, One Tree Hill, and other shows; a musical guest appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno; and an iTunes single of the week (“Burn the House Down”). Scars on 45 are a band that’s easy to root for, so it’s great to see all their hard work paying off.
There aren’t a lot of risks taken on this album, but there doesn’t need to be. At least not right now. It’s beautiful of it’s own merit, and there’s no reason not to believe they’re heading for stardom soon. The emotion of the music is effortless, genuine and instantly stirring. Scars are able to separate themselves from The Fray with their ability to spread catchy songs across the entire album and not just concentrate the hooks in a couple singles. Also with the great accents and far more pleasing vocals. That said, “Heart on Fire” and “Beauty’s Running Wild” are the strongest tracks on the album. Here’s the video for the first:
So maybe this musical style isn’t in your wheelhouse, or maybe it’s right up your alley… ladies. Regardless, definitely give Scars on 45 a chance, because they’re a great band with the natural talent to justify their early success and the work ethic to keep it going.
(3) “Heart on Fire”
(5) “Change My Needs”
(7) “Give Me Something”
(8) “Beauty’s Running Wild”
(12) “Tomorrow Won’t Die too Soon” (Bonus Track)