#14 – Hackney Colliery Band – Sharpener
The artists of Brick Lane. The curry houses, the creatives. Dives & designers; piss artists, musicians, usually the same. The painters & graffiti mob. You can smell the anticipation. A mixture of fresh roast Exmouth and the warm fuzz of the frying spices from Bangladesh and India. On a cold day in January it’s enough to light up your sinuses and put a smile on your heart.
The critics condemn the closure of this or that local. The locals decry the mass gentrification and wave of hipsters taking over their home, understandably. But it’s still an inviting place for a midday stroll at the weekend.
Old buildings make it clear you’re still in the heart of East London. The mix of accents, North American tourists to friendly local lilts of Asia, Europe and Landan, make it clear you’re still in the heart of East London, comfortingly so.
On to the music. I once saw Ladyfist at Vibe Bar before they both shut down, possibly due to artistic differences. Both were big cultural losses, but warm lager aside, it was an excellent gig.
At midday the best you can hope for are the pulsing beats blaring from the various market record stalls, stores or kids with those portable speakers. I had my own Marshall speakers wrapped tightly round my head and had the Hackney Colliery Band tracking my every step back to the underground.
I was bought their ‘Sharpener’ album as a gift by a very special person. And on coloured vinyl! I’d never heard of them before, which is shameful since I work in Hackney. Though not in a colliery thankfully. If only colliers had music like this to listen to. It’s an electrifying mix of big brass, beats and bass, playing like they want everyone to jump up and dance. Tuneful and melodic, the tracks range from happy big band party to sinister soundtracks, the opener, ‘Jump Then Run‘ being a fine example of both.
The brass dominates the record but would be nothing without the thundering drums. If this were a soccer team the trumpets & trombones would be the world class strikers getting all the glory, but the drums would be the D keeping the clean sheet to win the titles. Listen to ‘When You Know‘ and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
It’s a fine album from a fine band bringing big horns together with bigger beats. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and purists may bemoan this shift or that fusion. But they’re branching out and reaching out, giving old music to new generations. Similar to how Ladyfist did cutting their teeth before embarking on the big time. It brilliantly melds trends with tradition and is sometimes all you need to bring about a smile on a cold winter’s day. Just like Brick Lane.