In 1993 the Headstones released their first studio album Picture of Health; which actually turned 25 yesterday, and, although they have gone on to release further albums over a 25 year career this album was considered to be their best work; that was until, this time last year, when their critically acclaimed album Little Army dropped, and caused quite a stir throughout the year, I remember downloading it as soon as I landed at Pearson International Airport, Toronto, as I had flown over for the album launch gig.
Hailing out of Kingston, the Headstones have always been a hard punk rock band that never really cared what society thought of them; their music always spoke for itself and this album is no exception and shouts louder than any of their others.
The opening track ‘Devil’s On Fire‘ was the first single release, and took the Canadian Active Rock Charts by storm, becoming the band’s second No.1 single alongside ‘Longwaytoneverland’; its hard-hitting Hugh Dillon’s lyrics are aggressive and concise, not many bands would get away with lyrics like “I’m a red meat eater, liar and a cheater” but it works as does the harmonica; and, with the double guitars via Trent Carr and Rickferd Van Dyk, which catch your attention from the strike of the first cord, add into the mix Tim White’s unmistakable bass line, and the secret weapon Steve Carr on keyboards you are immediately transported back to the days of the ultimate punk sound and it takes no prisoners. It shows how versatile this band has become while not losing the foundation on which they have built their unapologetic style which gained them their reputation.
‘Broken‘ is bullish, hard and aggressive, driven by a skins beat that is so obscenely good that it should be illegal and takes this song to the ultimate levels of inventiveness. The lyrics are flawless and fast-flowing and you feel the force behind every one of them, and the video for this song gives fans the genius and ultimate 360 degrees experience, letting them decide how they want and from where they want to watch it.
This rolls into one of the best songs on the album (that’s if you can decide which one is the best); ‘Little Army‘ starts slightly slower but the strong guitar composition and the no bullshit lyrics take you to new depths making it one of the most forthright songs; and, on days when your pissed at the world, make this your anthem.
The hard-hitters come fast and furiously with ‘Sunlight Kills The Stars‘, ‘For Your Consideration‘, ‘Captain of the Shit out of Luck‘ which not only has one of the best guitar riffs and harmonica it also uses the little ingenious idea of morse code at the end reminiscent of The Clash’s London Calling; and ‘Dead to Me‘ which took Dillon just 20 minutes to write, an indication there that you have a massive winner on your hands; but, to get the full effect, should only be played at the max. That leaves us with ‘Don’t Think at All‘ which is a peddle to the metal driving for head space song which is going to make the local constabularies very happy issuing all the speeding tickets if fans aren’t careful because you just can’t help but get caught up in it.
There are four songs on the album which take the level down slightly and shows that this band isn’t just about being loud and uncompromising. ‘Los Angeles‘, ‘The View Here‘, and ‘Kingston’ which is about Dillon’s life growing up in his hometown along with other famous musician such as The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie; which Hugh, for the first time ever, run the lyrics past to get his validation and actually goes on to mention this in the song itself.
These songs are totally cinematic and could easily be in any big screen movie, and in fact ‘Done The Math’ has gone on to become the closing credit song on this year film release of The Humanity Bureau, in which Dillon stars alongside ‘Nicolas Cage.’ And they all add a whole new dimensions to this already prominent album.
This album is proof that the Headstones have produced something that has long been missing from the music industry today; it’s old school in a modern time and will have fans old and new lapping it up and rightly so. These songs are everything that is right with rock and roll and will give people who frown at their music and no bullshit attitude, something to think about. So, at the end of the day, take or leave the Headstones and if there is any advice to give its take. Dillon is a songwriting genius who pulls no punches and add that to the rest of the musical equation leaves you with no hesitation.
Tour dates were announced and lead to a string of “SOLD OUT” dates all across Canada and the USA with fans chomping at the bit to hear some of the songs off the album played live.
Needless to say the first year of this Little Army has been totally outstanding, so don’t miss out on this exceptional state of the art album; you won’t be disappointed. You can purchase it on CD and also download via iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify. A new album has been announced for 2019.
01. Devil’s On Fire
03. Little Army
04. Sunlight Kills The Stars
05. For Your Consideration
06. Dead To Me
07. Captain Of The Shit Out Of Luck
08. The View Here
10. Los Angeles
11. Done The Math
12. Don’t Think At All
Photo Credit: Dylan Simpson Photography