Songs From the Lineup is a review series that unpacks the musical lineup of the Life Is Beautiful festival through individual songs by the featured artists. Look for weekly installments at DTLV.com, right up through the festival in September. Check out previous Songs from the Lineup here.
Band of Skulls released their fourth studio album, By Default, on May 25, but I can’t let go of the past.
Drummer Matt Hayward, guitarist and vocalist Russell Marsden and bassist and vocalist Emma Richardson spent more than a year writing songs with stripped-down instruments and no microphones in a church they rented in their hometown of Southampton, England. Gil Norton, producer for The Pixies and The Foo Fighters, gave them a more expansive sound that still holds onto Band Of Skulls’ signature catchy riffs and hooks. Some elements from church demos made it onto the album like on “Erounds,” but you’ll hear a disco funk sound on “So Good,” an Iggy Pop vibe on “Back of Beyond” and hip-hop inspiration on “In Love By Default.”
But even with the variety of influences on By Default, my favorite Band of Skulls is still the blues-heavy rock ‘n’ roll band they are on their first three albums. For that reason, I can’t help but cling onto Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, their debut record from 2009.
I was instantly captured by opening track “Light of the Morning.” The short, 2:44-minute song is essentially a hook repeated three times with loud drums. (If you want to extend the song a little longer, listen to the album in order and it seamlessly slides into “Death by Diamonds and Pearls.”) Maybe it’s my undying love for Led Zeppelin whose influence is apparent in this track, but the best part is the noisy, excessive percussion that sounds like a rogue ape’s sitting on the drum throne. Every time I listen to it I want to find the nearest stick-ish thing and start banging on shit.
There’s a good chance Band of Skulls will play “Light of the Morning” at Life is Beautiful because it’s a crowd pleaser, but maybe they’ve moved on and that’s fine. They have plenty of other songs that are just as catchy and probably more fun to dance to.
If you haven’t heard By Default yet, stream it, buy it, share it. I’m down with the new, but the old can stay, too, especially since it’s so damn good.