Not long ago I wrote a review for the debut EP ‘The D-Road’ from Buckinghamshire rock duo 12 Hour Avenue (see link below). Now, only a few weeks later I’m sitting here with their sophomore EP ‘Halfway Home’, wondering if they’ve managed to improve their sound, hone their skills and develop upon their promising debut.
‘Yeah or Nah’ gets the EP off to an amazing start, the track acting as an instrumental intro to the album with its bludgeoning drumbeat and galloping guitar riffs. Saying there’s only two members, 12 Hour Avenue certainly don’t lack any volume, “Half the fun/challenge of being a two-piece is trying to fill the space of other band members,” explains Tobi and Harry, “We already feel like we’re a pretty loud band, but we want to make sure we are as ‘full’ sounding as possible so we’re not missing out by only having two members.” ‘You Hold On’ delivers those fuzzy guitars that seem to be a signature sound for 12 Hour Avenue across their two EP’s. Harry fills out the sound so effortlessly with his solo’s taking centre stage on this track, the melody feeling somehow familiar and the stuttering riffs adding a funk to the beat. Tobi’s excellent drum work filling in the rest of the space in the track so there’s no worries here about not creating a ‘full’ sound guys. Love this track.
Tobi and Harry met while working together and in early 2016, after nerding out about music and playing around with ideas for the best part of a year, 12 Hour Avenue was created. Now, 2 years down the line and with 2 EP’s under their belt, one has to wonder how much has their life experience contributed to their music so far, “We think subconsciously a lot of it probably does come from personal experiences, but we can’t remember ever sitting down to try and write a song about something one of us has experienced so far!”
Live performances have helped shape the new EP, and Halfway Home sees the introduction of the duo’s instrumental jams. They explain, “This EP has our first instrumental track, which was inspired by our improvised jams at the end of our live sets. At our gigs we always like to leave 5 minutes at the end of the set to make a piece of music up on the spot. It’s always fun for us to see which way it goes each night so we thought it would be interesting to bring something similar to our recorded music. Hopefully people will dig hearing it!” That instrumental track is ‘Dissertion’, and it’s a slow, sultry, brooding track that captures the essence of rock/blues music. The track builds in intensity, the passion in the music exploding through the speakers.
‘Too Steep’ is the track that’s going to get the crowd moving at any live performance. It has swagger and rhythm, those gorgeous vocals from Tobi emanating that grit, full of angsty rawness, the stellar riffs from Harry and the overall funky beat makes this a really strong track on the EP. “This EP was more of an experiment with a slightly different sound to our first. We found what we liked and didn’t like so much about our first batch of songs and decided to focus on the style of music we enjoyed playing most. Basically this EP is us getting closer to finding out what our sound is as a band, and learning how to progress on our songwriting.”
When it comes to the songwriting, the duo split everything down the middle, “Harry will write the guitar parts and Tobi will do the drums and we both come together to write the lyrics. Like most bands each song writes itself a little differently, but usually we’ll start with some chords or a riff and go from there. We’re always thinking of riff, drum beats and noodles which usually become songs later down the line, so we’re always coming up with new ideas. As obvious as it sounds, song writing is one of our favourite things to do in the band so we’re already really looking forward to writing some music for the future.” All the tracks are so well structured, and that desire to write good music is evident in the new release.
The first single ‘Red Flags’ was released on the 3rd August, the EP itself is due for release on Saturday 11th August, so not long to wait! But if you can’t wait til Saturday to check these guys out then head over to their YouTube channel and checkout their official video (links are below). It’s a great track, the strongest on the EP in my opinion. The intro is thick and heavy with deep tones that reverberate through the speakers and it seems that 12 Hour Avenue have found a sound here that really works well for them.
Title track ‘Halfway Home’ slows things down dramatically. Soft bare riffs, muted vocals and a raw sound that really suits them. The sudden kick of the fuzzy guitar is unexpected and the introduction of the steady boom of the drums, which complements the change in dynamic before the dip back into the bare section of the track, is so contrasting in its structure, but it sounds awesome. In a live setting it’s going to feel hugely dramatic.
Having played a few local festivals just lately, the duo are having fun as they build their fan base, “We have a gig in Kingston on the 10th, supporting a really cool band called Far Suns Fall for their album launch so we’re really looking forward to that. We’re also supporting a sweet band called Ryders Creed in London in September, which should be a good one!”
As any band will tell you there are influences that drive you to create your own music, and 12 Hour Avenue are no exception. Citing influences such as Alter Bridge, 3 Doors Down, Black Stone Cherry, Jeff Buckley and Pink Floyd, and as Harry states “Growing up I listened to all the stuff a little rock fan usually does, (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Gun’s N’ Roses, Etc)...”, it’s clear to see the reason why they have been experimenting with their sound in this new EP. All those influences, all those immense sounds from so many bands must pull your creative juices in so many different directions. Oh, and don’t forget to throw in a little bit of influence from Green Day as well, says Tobi “When I was 11 years old, my friend burnt ‘American Idiot’ on a CD and gave it to me. I was instantly hooked and listened to it on repeat. It’s still one of my favourite albums and I still listen to it frequently.”
At the moment the guys are listening to the new Leon Bridges album, Harry has been listening to Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Queens Of The Stone Age and Tobi has been digging Frank Ocean and Death From Above 1979 a lot recently too! But one of the biggest inspirations to the band has been the idea of the ‘duo’, the tag team division of rock music that the guys always go back to, like The Black Keys, Royal Blood and The White Stripes, all of which have taken the duo status to new heights. Can 12 Hour Avenue improve upon this and carry the torch for the division? Only time will tell, but if their second EP Halfway Home is anything to go by I’d say they’ve got a sweet ride ahead of them.
Go catch 12 Hour Avenue at a live show, get their new EP and enjoy it. I know I did.
12 Hour Avenue are:
Harry Cairns - Guitar
Tobi Stubbs - Drums & Vocals
‘Halfway Home’ tracklist:
Yeah or Nah
You Hold On
Check out more from 12 Hour Avenue at the following links.
‘The D-Road’ EP Review:
‘Red Flag’ - https://youtu.be/qU1vKX1sYR4
‘Waiting For’ - https://youtu.be/sdQgWXKrI68