The Press release says this band are the “heroes British rock needs right now” and for once (music Press releases can be so gushing they make the Niagara Falls look like a park weir) it’s an understatement. Hunter and The Bear are unbelievably good and the band the whole world needs, never mind our small damp island. Buy it or stream it right now, play loud and forget about Brexit and The Donald.
We moaned not so long ago about My Brother Eli, a slick commercial rock band whose perfectly-formed debut we found shallow. Hunter and The Bear are highly commercial, too, and this, their debut album, is perfectly formed but we love it. They’ve got soul and magnetism.
The sound is standard melodic rock, and the bluesy feel is a bit mid-career Kings of Leon in places. You could also point to early Def Leppard, who had a knack for hugely melodic rock tunes, though Hunter and The Bear are less fakey-sparkly.
The singer (the website only names him as Will) has got a fantastic voice; he sounds a lot like Ed Kowalczyk from US band Live. We’d say he makes the band but guitarist Jimmy (who’s from Glasgow) throws in fluid and exciting guitar that also makes the band. He’s a fan of Led Zep and his fandom shows, particularly in slower numbers, like I Am What I Am. (Gareth on drums and Chris on bass complete the line-up).
As well as Kings of Leon, the rockier moments go a bit QOTSA, but there’s some US southern boogie in there, too. Dress code is 100% Lynyrd Skynyrd.
It’s a superb album with no sign of filer. It’s all good. Opener You Can Talk is typical, a mid-tempo rocker with a stadium sound, rousing chorus and great lyrics that sound meaningful but mainly sound like proper rock lyrics “You talk with a slack jaw / It’s that what you’re here for.” The standout track for us is the immense closer Nickajack, six minutes of melodic rock heaven, starting off slowly and closing with bluesy guitar solos that are just sublime, worthy of Paul Kossof. (Nickajack is an area in the Appalachians and, handily, can rhyme with Cadillac).
DRK, which has a feel of Audioslave, is also a standout. But it’s all good. You can play any track at random and love it.
Hunter and The Bear are going to be massive. The commercial sound possibly means a future risk of dadrock/Nickelback/Def Leppard breaking out but this debut is wonderful.