HIGH HAZELS

High Hazels are a band from Sheffield consisting of; James Leesley (Vocals), Scott Howes (Guitars), Paul Barlow (Bass) and Anthony Barlow (Drums).

.

Studies of young men navigating raw northern landscapes are nothing new in art. In film, the British New Wave gave us Vic Brown stalking the edge of a bleak estate in ‘A Kind of Loving’, Billy Fisher skulking home from a missed midnight train in Billy Liar and Colin Smith watching his dreams disappear down a prefab drain in ‘The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner’. In song, northern misery was spun into gold in the shadow of Ewan MacColl’s factory wall, by the empty milk bottle on Peter Noone’s doorstep and in the rain logged gutters of Morrissey’s humdrum town.

.

Generations on, the northern knack of turning out mordant wit and winsome charm has delivered the current sound of the Sheffield outer ring road, High Hazels, and their first release ‘Hearts are Breaking’ on Heist or Hit.

.

Growing up in Handsworth, in the close streets backing onto Orgreave, the band are too young for battle hymns and are more attuned, lyrically, to the pastoral sweep of coke heaps made meadowland and snatched last kisses under nodding street lamps. They have been together since school, brothers Paul and Anthony on bass and drums, James singing and Scott on guitar. On stage, they resemble the end of the family line in northern boy groups: groups who horde priceless guitars but can’t afford the bus fare home, groups who rehearse dry George Harrison barbs in the bathroom mirror, groups who dress in boys’ brigade chic, in thrall to the boys of yesterday – The Quarrymen, The Pale Fountains, The Smiths.

.

The sound of High Hazels is the sound of nostalgia chiselled from vintage gear. In the grand tradition of enigmatic, bird boned guitar fetisheurs such as Marr, Reilly and Ryder-Jones, Scott Howes stands stage right dosing bruised souls with the medicine of minor chords, sounding the depths of the loneliest heart with waves of tender reverb.

.

A second guitar and a sad voice singing out from the boards without stage school theatrics or lad rock tics, freights the songs with an honesty and a yearning that carries them aloft long enough for the spell to work. The magic might even be in the fact that the band don’t know where the magic resides. James Leesley, stepping up behind Tim Buckley and Billy Fury, may look like the tea lad but his voice channels the strident tone of the Greenwich Village folkie and the plaintive croon of the jukebox balladeer.

.

These are boys from the monochrome set, crying out for a Les Chadwick bombsite portrait while their hair still looks alright. These are boys without the tiresome impediments of the college band. They aren’t interested in paddling in the intellectual shallows. They own chest waders and read the Angling Times, they go to their nans for Sunday dinner on a Wednesday, they drink tap water and only when they need to take a tablet.

.

For years, the only cultural shrine in Handsworth was the Ballifield semi where Ken Patten recorded The Future and Pulp in his Studio Electrophonique while his wife made the brews downstairs. A few streets over, a new story gathers pace, guitars chime in back bedrooms and, in terminus bus shelters, cold hearts start to thaw.

RELEASES

OUT NOW

HIGH HAZELS

VALENCIA

OUT NOW

HIGH HAZELS

BANGING ON MY DOOR

OUT NOW

HIGH HAZELS

MISBEHAVE

OUT NOW

HIGH HAZELS

HIGH HAZELS

OUT NOW

HIGH HAZELS

IN THE HALF LIGHT

OUT NOW

HIGH HAZELS

HEARTS ARE BREAKING

LIVE
VIDEOS