Headsticks – Kept In The Dark (STP Records Group)

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Get your rose-tinted festival specs on, sit back and picture the scene. You’re sat in a damp field, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by your dreadlocked, army surplus-clad mates. Passing around giant bottles of cider and slowly getting refreshed. The likes of Citizen Fish, Blaggers ITA, Senser and Blyth Power have all been and done their thing and you’ve danced your paraboots off. Fast forward 20-odd years but keep that image intact and replace the band on stage. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Headsticks! Keeping the tradition of folk-driven, protest songs alive, this bunch of reprobates from Staffordshire have dished out yet another killer album as they fine-tune their sound.

Incorporating a little of all of the above bands, Headsticks’ style is distinctly English and timeless. Hopping from rock to ska to folk, the music is very much a tool to drive their message of hope and revolution across. The fact that their previous release the Lies, Lies, Lies 10″ EP featured Steve Ignorant as special guest vocalist should give you an indication of their leanings and in this day and age of apathy and disillusionment it’s not a bad thing that people are still out there flying the flag of protest. One thing that they have in common with all the bands mentioned earlier is their knack to craft a catchy, danceable tune, in this case carried by the distinctive vocals of singer Andrew Tranter. Another standout point on this album is the hardback book format that the CD comes in. It’s a sign that the band (and labels) have put their heart and souls into this release, and that hard work has paid off as all involved have put together a fantastic album they can be very proud of. Tom Chapman

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