Wednesday, 27 November 2013


UK-singer/songwriter Jake Bugg is back, and at only 19, the quick release of his new album 'Shangri-La' is an ideal indication that the youngster is bursting with new ideas and is quickly settling in to stardom and fame. 

Recorded with the infamous producer Rick Rubin at Shangri-La studio in Malibu – hence the album title – 'Shangri-La' portrays an artist who is clearly expanding exponentially but is still able to keep his trademark sound. By 'trademark sound' I'm referring to, of course, his nasal vocals which have continued to link comparisons to the immortal, Bob Dylan.

It's obvious that Jake Bugg is making strides to widen his repertoire, and working with Rick Rubin is undoubtedly the beginning of something tremendous waiting just around the corner. Although not everyone has a taste for Rubin's  fondness for excessive compression and loudness, this style is certainly perfect for Bugg. The 'nakedness' of tracks that he applied with artists such as Johnny Cash and The Red Hot Chili Peppers works beautifully on the garage rock revival tracks like "There's a Beast and We All Feed It" and "Slumville Sunrise." The album is a constant mixture of folk and rock, like "Messed Up Kids", which introduces us to a new side of Bugg, providing us with a much more poetic viewpoint ("It's a washed-out Saturday, a sky of pastel shades, under breeze-block palisades").

We see Jake exploring more of that rough, tough, 'working-class' feel with developments on his bad boy image created in older material (like previously featured 'Two Fingers', which was pretty badass) - such as in the song 'Kingpin' with the lyrics "Pay off the police to stay out of my way / I got it all sewn up and I'm kingpin for a day" - and with the more gritty, low-fi dirty sound this album produces. Other examples of this more jagged, unpolished atmosphere is seen especially in songs such as 'What Doesn't Kill You' with its ferocious guitar distortion and Jake's flinging delivery, paired with uninhibited vocal projection.

There is no doubt Jake Bugg will live up to his potential within his next few releases. However, on 'Shangri La', Bugg is still searching within himself for that special something and - providing he manages to discover anything breathtaking by the time he begins working on album number three, he could very well establish himself as a serious performer for years to come. But for now, Jake Bugg is a 'Mercury Award Nominated' performer and I'm sure there will be plenty more nominations in the near future.

Jake will be touring Australia as part of Bluesfest 2014, and will be holding a few sideshows in the major cities. Tour dates are below:

Thursday 17 April
Melbourne, Palace Theatre

Sunday 20 April
Sydney, Enmore Theatre

Wednesday 23 April
The HiFi, Brisbane

Check out some of the optional e's favourites: "What Doesn't Kill You" and "Slumville Sunrise"

1 comment:

  1. Great article - very thorough and detailed on an up-and-coming young star!

    Thanks for writing it!