The A to Z of Great British Rock: N is for Nine Black Alps

Posted on April 5, 2013


(Sidenote: This weeks A to Z was written by the glorious Ashley Morton, he of Harald Math goodness and the fantastic innothingwetrust blog, linked to the side on this site. He also plays drums in the super duper Sykopath Kondor, and is generally the best person going. I couldn’t think of anything for N. Ashley could. Enjoy)

N is for Nine Black Alps

I must admit to not being overly qualified to talk about Nine Black Alps. I loved their first album and was wholly disappointed with the second, so much so that I just stopped keeping track of them altogether. So the fact that they have actually recorded a third and fourth album is news I learned just minutes prior to typing this sentence!

Their first rekkid ‘Everything Is’ is a wonderful, light-hearted chunk of guitar pop-rock. Every song on there is a sing-along and is delivered with a very British style of spite and cynicism. The sound is part Nirvana, part The Vines, part Oasis, part The Beatles. If you had a spectrum with Indie at one end and Grunge at t’other, Nine Black Alps would be smack bang in the middle of it. It makes a nice combination actually; while I prefer the heavier guitar tones of grunge, it can be a tad repetitive and unimaginative while Indie generally sounds pathetic but is a bit more creative. Nine Black Alps blend these two to come out with energetic and catchy rock songs, any of which could be singles. Particular favourites of mine are ‘Get Your Guns’, ‘Shot Down’ and my favourite, ‘Ironside’.

And then the classic ‘second album syndrome’ ensued. Nine Black Alps were only ever going to go one of two directions on their follow-up: toward the Indie or toward the Grunge. They went toward the Indie. The ‘gain’ was turned down to about 4, there was more annoying lead guitar and generally the second effort ‘Love/ Hate’ was a damp squib, a watered down version of their debut. There are some highlights though with the title track and ‘Burn Faster’ both sporting the kind of catchy choruses which earned them such success in the first place.

Unfortunately, the majority agreed with me though and the tame reception to ‘Love/ Hate’ resulted in the band being dropped by their label Island Records. This is when I also lost interest, assuming they would just die the British Band death that so many others do. However, having just listened to some of their newer stuff, it seems they have got back on the horse a little bit. ‘Buy Nothing’ from their 4th album ‘Sirens’ features a nice catchy riff reminiscent of Colour of Fire and ‘Phosphorescence’ from the same album is a nice lower key, driving change of mood. I may well go and buy their latest two albums. But even if you don’t, Nine Black Alps deserve to be here for their first album which is great.




‘Buy Nothing’

Posted in: A to Z, Music