Jake Bugg ⎜Jake Bugg ⎜Mercury ⎜US Release Date: April 9, 2013 / UK: October 15, 2012
Producers: Iain Archer; Mike Crossey; Matt Prime; Jason Hart; Crispin Hunt
Jake Bugg released his U.S. self-titled debut album on April 9, 2013 (via Mercury). Bugg is a very different artist from the most popular British imports in similar age – yes I’m referring to the ubiquitous One Direction (even the slightly older The Wanted).
An alternative singer/songwriter, everything about the 19-year Brit seems to eschew the pop that his colleagues embrace. Bugg ultimately hearkens back to earlier rock and roll of the 1960s, incorporating more garage- and folk-driven sounds. There is something more organic and natural about Bugg’s approach, which is reflected on his solid debut. And honestly, what wrong with stripping things down? Acoustic guitars can rock too!
Jake Bugg itself bowed in Britain back in Fall 2012. The album recently bowed on the US Charts at no. 75. Modest numbers, Bugg is still a relatively unknown in the U.S. Sales aside, there are some solid moments on Jake Bugg including the addictive “Two Fingers“, with arguably the album’s catchiest chorus: “So I kiss goodbye to every little ounce of pain / Light a cigarette and wish the world away / I got out, I got out, I’m alive and I’m here to stay…” Throw in overall exceptional, honest songwriting (“I drink to remember, I smoke to forget” or “Skin up a fat one, hide from the feds…”), and “Two Fingers” is an instant hit. Opener “Lightening Bolt“, another gem, was a former iTunes single of the week. A brief cut, “Lightning Bolt” is a perfect, uptempo introduction to Mr. Bugg.
On “Seen It All” he paints a chilling story (“…I could see the mounting tension / the atmosphere of violence / and then they took a guy outside / and someone stabbed him with a knife”) later revealing “I swear to God I’ve seen it all / nothing shocks me anymore / after tonight I’ve seen the light/ But not the kind I would’ve liked…” (Check out the video clip). On “Broken“, Bugg delivers a truly heartfelt, beautiful ballad that is easily one of the valedictory moments. Lyrically stunning, Bugg has a maturity that exceeds his age: “Run to the lobby where I saw you try / don’t give a damn for your reasons why we’re so / Down in the valley where the church bells cry / I’ll lead them over to your eyes / I am one, I am one… ” He speeds things up on the roots-driven folk-rock cut “Trouble Town”.
Perhaps Bugg won’t be a star in the US given the current commercial climate. Regardless, Jake Bugg is a refresher; he hearkens back to the past, making his fans remember what truly made rock and roll music so spirited and popular back in the day. Jake Bugg is a welcome addition to any music collection, particularly the traditional rock and indie-rock/folk-rock/garage-rock fan.
Favorites: “Lightning Bolt”; “Two Fingers”; “Seen It All”; “Broken”; “Trouble Town”