BLACK BEAR KISS – Single Review: “When I Break”

Since the release of their terrific debut single “Hooks” in the spring of 2018, British alternative garage-rock band Black Bear Kiss have consistently put out a series of stellar singles – all of which I’ve written about on this blog. (You can read some of those reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post.) With their exciting guitar-driven sound, strong charisma and rowdy live performances, the talented five-piece have built a loyal following in their home base of the West Midlands/Shropshire region of England and beyond. Making this great music are Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on lead guitar, Rob Jones on rhythm guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums.

Following up on their last single “Reach Up Higher”, an excellent song decrying the dominance of mainstream media and its often negative influence on the public, Black Bear Kiss are back with their latest single “When I Break“, which dropped October 30th. The song is a stylistic departure from their usual harder rocking sound, with a mellower, more introspective vibe, though the band once again serve up a memorable melody and the outstanding instrumentation we’ve come to expect from them. Highlights for me are the bluesy guitars and those beautiful keyboards that come in late in the song.

And then there are Chris’s warm, distinctive vocals that are particularly stunning on this track. He told me the lyrics are somewhat reflective, but he seems to question his relationship and his lover’s commitment toward it: “So we get somewhere we wanted / When does this feeling of fulfillment begin? Are we there, you know I’m counting on you, but this funny little feeling goes / So when I break darling, everything you take will wash over me.

With “When I Break”, Black Bear Kiss keep their perfect score for producing great singles intact.

Follow Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their songs on  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on  iTunes / Amazon

BLACK BEAR KISS – Single Review: “Reach Up Higher”

I think pretty much everyone would agree that 2020 has been a terrible year on many levels, particularly for the music industry. Artists and bands have been unable to tour or perform live for over six months, and it’s unlikely that will change any time soon. That said, many have used this down time to channel their creative energies into writing and recording new music, some of it reflecting the social, cultural and political upheaval we’re experiencing in many countries around the world. I’ve recently reviewed a fair amount of music touching on these issues, and my latest entry is the new single “Reach Up Higher” by British alternative garage-rock band Black Bear Kiss, which dropped August 28th.

A favorite of this blog, I’ve featured Black Bear Kiss numerous times over the past few years, beginning in April 2018 when I reviewed their terrific debut single “Hooks”. (You can read some of my previous reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the bottom of this post.) With their exhilarating, guitar-driven sound, strong charisma and rowdy live performances, the talented five-piece have built a loyal following in their home base of the West Midlands/Shropshire region of England and beyond. Comprising the band are Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on lead guitar, Rob Jones on rhythm guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums.

Their first new single in a year, “Reach Up Higher” marks a change for the band, who recorded the song at a new studio and with a new producer; Gavin Monaghan at Magic Garden Studios has worked with artists such as Robert Plant, Editors, The Twang and The Sherlocks. The result is a tighter, more polished sound while still delivering the band’s signature high-energy grooves and driving rhythms. Haden and Jones intertwining guitars are electrifying as they rip through the airwaves with their fast-paced roiling riffs. Sach keeps the driving rhythm on solid footing with a strong thumping bass line while Bagnall pounds out the head-bopping beat with an aggressive – and impressive – pummeling of his drum kit. “Reach Up Higher” is a real banger, and I think it’s their best work yet.

With the song, Black Bear Kiss seeks to shine a spotlight on the dominance of mainstream media and its influence on people. Band vocalist Chris Leech explains: “The song addresses some of the big issues, both home and abroad. The press and public figures in positions of power need to understand the influence they have – their opinions should not be treated as gospel. ‘Reach Up Higher’ is about trying to do better and not believing everything you read, especially on social media”. I love Leech’s warm, smooth vocals as he fervently implores: “Times change / People move incompletely out of their mouths / You won’t prove you pick up the press and now want to read it again / Don’t reach up higher. Reach up higher. Don’t hold me back, yeah don’t divide / Way out a line, way out a line now we’re stepping.”

Black Bear Kiss always put out terrific videos, and the one for “Reach Up Higher” is no exception. The video was produced and edited by Jack Walker Media and stars Joshua Griffiths as a man obsessed with and stressed out by media, and doing what he can to avoid reading it, including getting drunk, furiously working out, burning his newspaper, smashing his mobile phone and escaping into the countryside.

Follow Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their songs on  Spotify / Apple MusicSoundcloud
Purchase on  iTunes / Google Play

BLACK BEAR KISS – Single Review: “I Wanna Know”

I Wanna Know

British alternative garage-rock band Black Bear Kiss have been on a creative tear since the release of their terrific debut single “Hooks” in April 2018. With their exciting, guitar-driven music, strong charisma and rowdy live performances, the talented five-piece have built a loyal following in their home base of the West Midlands/Shropshire region of England and beyond – even out here in the Coachella Valley of Southern California!

Black Bear Kiss4

Comprised of Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on lead guitar, Rob Jones on rhythm guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums, Black Bear Kiss have been busy playing gigs and putting out a series of great singles, as well as an EP Fighting Our Corner, which they released this past March. A favorite of this blog, I’ve previously reviewed three of their singles (which you can read by clicking on the links under “Related” at the bottom of this post). Now the prolific band makes a fourth appearance with their latest single “I Wanna Know“, which dropped on August 9th.

The song gets our blood pumping right from the get-go as Haden and Jones lay down chugging riffs of gnarly quitars over Sach’s heavy, buzzing bass line. These guys play as a tight unit, propelling the song forward with their hard-driving rock’n’roll rhythms while Bagnall pounds out the beat. The layered guitars are fantastic, with aggressive, swirling riffs that create an exhilarating backdrop for Leech’s warm, earnest vocals which, along with the stellar guitar work, are a major component of Black Bear Kiss’s outstanding sound.

With regard to the meaning of the lyrics, Leech explained that the song is “about playing live and the buzz that comes from it – plus relying on your bandmates”: “Come a little closer, the room is on fire. But I’m alright, you’re gonna be fine. Ah, this is our time. I wanna know, just how much you’re meaning this. Lookin’ around, can I rely on you? Guided by stars. Wanna feel it. Wanna feel it all. Guided by stars. Take the other way, take the other way home.

“I Wanna Know” is a great tune, and yet another in a string of solid singles by Black Bear Kiss. I hope they’ll continue to strike gold with many more!

Connect with Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their songs on  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes cdbaby

BLACK BEAR KISS featuring LEO GOLDEN CHILD – Single Review: “Follow Me”

black bear kiss follow me

Black Bear Kiss is an alternative indie rock band from the West Midlands/Shropshire region of England who’ve built quite a loyal following since forming in 2016. Comprised of Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on lead guitar, Rob Jones on rhythm guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums, they released a fantastic debut single “Hooks” in April, 2018, then followed three months later with another banger “Secret Side”. (I reviewed both songs, which you can read here and here). Now they’re back with their third single “Follow Me“, which sees the band going outside their usual rock’n’roll comfort zone, adding a hip hop element in a collaboration with acclaimed Birmingham rapper and motivational speaker Leo Golden Child. And they succeed quite nicely, delivering a lively multi-dimensional track that’s fresh and fun.

The song speaks to pressures of modern day life and how we cope with constantly changing expectations, delivered by an upbeat rock groove with hip hop elements. The band’s signature bass-driven, guitar-heavy sound is on full display here. Both Chris and Leo are great vocalists, and Leo’s rap verses meld beautifully with the rock melody. Leo asks “How we sounding?” to which I emphatically answer “Awesome!”

The wonderful video is filmed in a what appears to be a hallway of an industrial/commercial building, with alternating footage of each of the five band members and Leo shown performing the song. They all clearly appear to be having fun, and their strong natural charisma shines through, with band front man Chris Leech achieving heartthrob status. Leo’s big smile at the end perfectly expresses my feelings for both song and video. I love this band!

Catch Black Bear Kiss at one of these upcoming shows:

February 2      7:00 pm    The Station, Cannuck, England
February 22    7:00 pm    Bath Uni Student Union, Bath, England
March 2           7:00 pm    Boars Head, Kidderminster, England
March 8           7:00 pm    O2 Academy, Birmingham, England
July 27            10:00 am    Shropfest 2019

Connect with Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their songs on  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes cdbaby

BLACK BEAR KISS – Single Review: “Secret Side”

Black Bear Kiss 2

Black Bear Kiss is an alternative indie rock band from the West Midlands/Shropshire, UK, and are made up of the very talented Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on lead guitar, Rob Jones on guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums. Hot on the heels of their awesome debut single “Hooks,” which dropped in April (and I reviewed), they now return with a great follow-up single “Secret Side.

The track opens with Sach’s funky little bass lick, then layered guitars and Bagnall’s snappy drums kick in with a catchy toe-tapping beat. Haden and Jones lay down some tasty melodic riffs in the break that continue through to the end of the song. Leech has a fine singing voice, and his earnest vocals nicely convey equal parts mischief and emotion as he sings of the blurred lines between reality and fantasy: “There’s something strange with how I feel. Like choosing right from wrong but what is real, yeah. My compass points to what I know. But now I’m lost and I just don’t know where to go.”

The song essentially speaks to some of the fantasies many of us harbor at one time or another – our ‘secret side’ if you will. The opening lyrics are directed toward a woman “dressed head to toe with curves and all in black” who’s the object of his desire. Eventually, they speak of wanting to escape the drudgery of a frustrating job and have fun hanging out with friends. The clever and highly entertaining video shows the guys performing the song at their workplace and later, outdoors, interspersed with scenes of their abusive boss tormenting them at work, and them ultimately exacting revenge by chasing him with a tank! And who of us hasn’t fantasized about coming to the rescue or punishing the bad guys while riding into town in a tank?! It’s a funny and satisfying accompaniment to a terrific song.

Catch Black Bear Kiss at one of these upcoming shows. Click the event names for the event pages.

August 17   7:00 pm   Dana Prison Shrewsbury
August 25   3:00 pm  Bridgnorth Music Festival
August 25   7:00 pm  Telfest

Connect with Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their songs on  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes / cdbaby

BLACK BEAR KISS – Single Review: “Hooks”

hooks-single-cover

Black Bear Kiss are an Indie/Alternative Rock band from the West Midlands & Shropshire, UK. Formed in 2016, the band includes Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on lead guitar, Rob Jones on guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums. In the creation of their dynamic rock sound, the band draws influence from legendary blues rock bands The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, 90s Grunge, and more modern alt-rock acts such as The Black Keys, Jack White, Kasabian and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In April, they released their debut single “Hooks” – aptly named because that’s exactly what the song does to us the moment we hear it.

The infectious track starts off with a simple riff set to a catchy drumbeat and thumping bass line, then Leech’s smooth vocals enter the proceedings. Everything ramps up in the rousing chorus, with Leech’s vocals growing more impassioned as he nearly wails the lyrics, accompanied by an explosion of more aggressive guitars and heavier percussion. The backing vocals in the chorus are especially good, and everyone in the band are in perfect sync on their respective instruments. It’s a great track, and an impressive debut for a Black Bear Kiss, who seem to have all the ingredients in their line up for playing some awesome rock’n’roll the way it’s meant to be played.

Connect with Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream “Hooks” on  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes