the heavy are bringing their unique blend of retro cool and modern freshness to afropunk fest 2013. #soundcheck

July 24, 2013

Retro can be a double edged sword. What you gain in easily recognizable sound and a sense of instant “classic-ness,” you often lose in originality. The harder you try to pay homage to your heroes and play in the sandbox they built, the more you raise the question “well why listen to this if I can just listen to the thing that inspired it.” Why look at a photocopy of a photograph of the Mona Lisa when you can look at the real deal? (I tend to feel this way about a solid 75% of Daptone releases and The Black Keys before they got all Dangermousey. Also, not to beat a dead horse, but Yeezus anyone?) But when a band gets the chemistry right, it’s a glorious thing. The Heavy is one of the rare bands working now who nails the alchemy of retro chic while still sounding fresh.

A big part of what makes The Heavy work is that they’re not copying a specific “sound” or era. They grind up the full spectrum of music made from the 40s to the 70s; from soul to punk to hip-hop to film score and mix it with bits of indie and post-punk. The resulting stew has the feel of something simultaneously old and new. (cue Neil deGrasse Tyson and Zombie Carl Sagan explaining that blah blah everything in the universe is made of star parts and nothing is new…hey George Romero, make THAT movie! Big Bang of the Dead? You can have the name for free. Anyway, this paragraph totally got away from me. On to the next one!)
Naming The Heavy’s 2012 record The Glorious Dead the #1 Afropunk album of the year was no fluke. Though the album hasn’t gotten much mainstream attention, it remains one of the most solid and ambitious records of the year. It’s nostalgic for a sense of 60sness, but the list of influences is so long as to defy accusations of copying. Though unmistakeably retro cool, it has a feeling of freshness. I stand by my prediction from last year that the record will be mined for years to come to score climactic moments in film. Already songs have begun popping up in movie trailers. It’s a shame that mainstream audiences remain denied the glorious bittersweet hooks of “Be Mine,” but we can still look forward to the inevitable stylized action movie montage set to “What Makes A Good Man?”

In the meantime, The Heavy will be appearing at AFROPUNK Fest 2013. Don’t miss it!

– Words by Nathan Leigh

* To RSVP or Make a Donation to AFROPUNK Fest 2013, click HERE.