Liam talks with Tim and Michael from Cambridge indie-alt-rockers 28 Boulevard.
Formed in 2010, 28 Boulevard have earned themselves a reputation as one of Cambridgeshire’s best unsigned bands. Having played the standard smorgasbord of talent nights around their homelands, the boys profess a desire to stretch beyond their county limits Fresh from a mini-tour around the UK with pop-rockers Room Service, they’re back home for a while, with a number of upcoming gigs in their local area.
We don’t know too much about them at this stage – they purport to be inspired by Biffy Clyro, Muse, Feeder and Bloc Party, love playing music ‘in the studio, on the stage and for their neighbors’ – which is good, as bands who hate playing music tend to suck – and in the true indie style of taking the banal and giving it meaning, plucked their name from a poster hanging in their practice room.
The five-piece is led by Tim Lloyd-Kinnings on vocals and guitar, with his brother Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings (LK) on guitar and keyboards, Cameron Gipp on guitar, Lewis Moon on bass and Michael Smith on drums and backing vocals.
Opening number Logistics is the EP’s lead track, and the bands newest single, with a chair-tastic video for it on YouTube to check out, (LINK!). A solid percussion cold-open with a sudden jolt of fast-paced, urgent sounding guitar leads into an enjoyable track– its here that the Bloc Party influence is clearest – which effectively pairs stripped-back verses, with a powerhouse, sing-a-long chorus. The swirling guitars and keys, combined with the semi-angsty lyrics provide the song an anthemic feel that would make it a great gig-opener.
‘Treat Me Like A Fool’, is the pick of the bunch, a bouncy, straightforward number with some enjoyable lyrics that blend neo-trendy self-deprecation, ‘Everybody here has cigarettes/ I’m the only non-smoker and it makes me feel undressed’ , with a more sinister tone at points, the lines – ‘So I went to town and bought a gun/And pretended to shoot the birds all flying into the sun’ indicate a darker undertone to the typical frustrated-young-protagonist, which would be interesting to see the band develop further. Lloyd-Kinning’s vocals are at their strongest here, reaching the high notes on the chorus without sounding forced in the process. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a hazier British Weezer, with notes of a poppier Libertines.
‘MCE’ brings the disc to a close, with some spacey guitars, and a more pop-punkish vibe, with a simple repetitive structure to the lines. Attempting to analyse the lyrics can be jarring – the protagonist has a letter for a lost love he isn’t sure what to do with (my initial reaction was, ‘Um… post it?’), but, critical pretentiousness aside, the track is a real ear worm – its not hard to imagine skinny-jeaned, small-hatted crowds chanting along to the refrain, ‘I would love you if I had the choice’. Taking an unexpectedly mellow third act, the song fades into a melodic guitar dénouement which brings the EP to a satisfying ending.
As a sample of what’s to come, the EP offers a lot of promise, although with only a meagre three tracks, its hard to really imagine what a full album might sound like. The ending of the third track alludes to a more chilled style, and they’ve expressed comfort with playing smaller, acoustic gigs, so the slight lack of variation isn’t too concerning at this point. The musicianship is slick and straightforward, with the poppy, quasi-American vocals a strong fit for the background. All in all, while it treads very familiar ground, their sound brims with youthful energy, and indicates it would be fun to check out live, a great starting point for any young band.
In an August where Mallory Knox – professed Facebook friends to the Boulevard boys – are slotted to play the Reading and Leeds main stages, it seems high time for music fans to realise that there’s more to Cambridge than the university, the punts, and the pretty skies. If you’re looking for a catchy new indie band to check out this autumn, you could do a hell of a lot worse than 28 Boulevard.