HUG is a band from Newcastle, North-East England, comprised of Gemma Wilson Pitt (vocals), George Kitching (guitar), Liam Gilfellon (bass), Dave Curle (drums), Ken Sakamoto (guitar, vocals, percussion) and Ade Woolard (DJ).
You just know this is another review by Robbie when you find the word ‘humble’ in the review – thanks Robbie, really appreciate it.
If the name HUG rings a bell chances are you were around in the 90s and heard material from their four previous releases, or even saw them support bands such as Pavement and Echo and the Bunnymen. Sadly, despite critical acclaim from the likes of Melody Maker and the NME, HUG disbanded in 1994 before they could really take off into the musical stratosphere. Happily, the ex-members of HUG took it upon themselves to return to the studio in 2011 to record rough demos left in the wake of the split, and entered a brief phase of touring starting in 2011, before a triumphant finale at the historic Cooperage pub on Newcastle’s Quayside in December 2012. Also that month HUG released a compilation of re-mastered demos and a B-side from the height of their success in 1994, titled Clay, which has been kindly brought to the attention of this humble critic. Without further ado, let’s have a listen to the material and see what the fuss is all about.
First up is Clay, a really energetic song with lots of soul. Pleasingly crunchy guitars gnash away and the drums pound away passionately, while Gemma’s powerful lyrics speak of a broken relationship and the desire to retain of self-respect. The thematic elements gel nicely with the composition and from this track alone it becomes clear how HUG could have been so hotly-tipped back in the day. The second track, Kingdom Come features lyrics speaking of deceit, submission and disrespect. Gemma does a fine job delivering her cryptic messages through vaguely biblical musings while being backed by ferocious drumming and more trademark catchy lead guitar work. The third and final track on this release, titled This Dark Eden, began life as a B-side from their final release in 1994, titled Firebrands, and is the longest of the three standing at nearly six minutes. Juxtaposed between the gentle waves of the verse and heavier chorus lie more of the band’s characteristic spiritual lyrics, which in this case feature a subtle vocal harmony.
Within only three tracks HUG manage to define their sound and hark back to the golden age of Tyneside indie rock. If you’re after a slice of well-crafted music with thoughtful lyrics you could do worse than pick up Clay, or any of the back catalogue for that matter. It’s been a pleasure learning about this band and I wish them the very best in whatever they choose to do from now on.
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