Northern Uproar – Hey Samurai!

Northern Uproar - Hey Samurai!

I’m a huge fan of British pop/rock so these guys aren’t new to me, but I couldn’t be more excited about the release of their new album, Hey Samurai! Northern Uproar have been around for a while (forming in 1995) so they have a few albums to explore, but they really take on a new sound with this latest release. 

Hey Samurai! is the band’s first album since they lost Jeffrey Fletcher (guitarist) in a collision in 2014. Essentially a new band without Fletcher, Northern Uproar have developed a whole new sound with Leon Meya (vocals, bass), Alex Stubbs (drums) and Chris Gorman (guitar).  The album is a lot more mellow and chill than some of their other work – think more The Kooks and Doves and less Franz Ferdinand

The first track on the album, 24 Hours/24 Days, has some funk influence in it, and I love it. It’s the type of song that everyone at the party would be into if it came on your playlist. Its upbeat tempo combined with Meya’s smooth voice and heavy bass makes or a really fun song. 

The album is really multifaceted, no two songs sound alike. When you think you know what to expect next, they surprise you. Take for example, Chasing Demons and Jackals, they both have pretty heavy Mediterranean vibes which makes sense considering Meya spent a lot of time in Spain during the band’s break up in ’06. 

The listener is thrown through yet another loop with the somewhat twangy song, Keep Getting Away. It almost sounds like the guys decided to venture into the pop-country world for just a second, before coming back to their predominantly Spanish/acoustic sound in Everlasting Rain. 

My personal favourite, Last Call, has a lot of organ in it, which makes me feel like I’m listening to something my dad would’ve helped me learn to love when I was younger. It’s the closest thing to a love song on the album, but it isn’t a ballad, which is refreshing. 

The last song, Yesterday’s Gone, Tomorrow’s Not Promised, circles back to the funk influence we heard in the first track, but it’s a lot more laid back and full of melancholy. One can only assume based on the title and lyrics (“I bet this is my time…I’ll keep running, I’ll keep going”) that this song was at least partially written about Fletcher. I can imagine watching couples dance together romantically with this song playing in the background – it’s quite beautiful. 

Then, just when you think it’s over, there’s a quick Spanish tune at the end. It’s full of Latin percussion, horns and Meya rolling his Rs. The two minutes are a great pick-me-up at the end of a somewhat slow album.

Hey Samurai! was definitely a surprise. I never expected Northern Uproar to produce music with maracas and other Latin percussion, but here we are, and it works! The album is definitely less indie rock and more Britpop, but the smooth vocals of Meya and the heavy Spanish vibes make for a surprising but mature sound and a seriously delightful listening experience.

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One Response to “Northern Uproar – Hey Samurai!”

  1. Harry says:

    Great article. I thought I heard some Beatles influences in a few of their tunes but that may just be me as I am hopelessly devoted to JPG&R. Thanks for the terrific read!!!!

    Harry

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