Hear The Track HereI don't think I am giving anything away by stating that Howard Billington/Smoke It 'n' Die are going to figure quite prominently in my year end reviews coming up shortly, as I am sure they will do well with other reviewers. In fact, it's been quite a year for this very idiosyncratic musician (and his various mates and paramours no doubt). I first came across him with He Stole My Girl (January 2010) arguably his most commercial track, which got a well deserved Must Have from me - as did many others under his own name or with his band Smoke It 'n' Die. All this in one short year, so what's the secret? Great songs that tell stories of positivity and good cheer. HoBi (sorry, couldn't resist) is IMHO the musical equivalent of Christmas all year round.
Soundclick's own little ray of sunshine...ahhhhhh.
However, the maxim that defines the music business - you are only as good as your last track - also holds very true on the internet where - if anything - your audience is the pickiest on Earth. Doesn't seem to faze Howard though because the music he makes in totally in tune with the times, if sometimes a bit rough at the edges. A true English songwriter Howard Billington wanders between rock funk, whimsy alternative and out-and-out proto punk, which I have to admit is one of my own favourites. While Song For The Good People is just this side of punk, it's still got more energy than God.
For me, the real draw of Howard Billington's work are the songs he writes. For sure, the man knows how to construct a chorus and, as I mentioned before, he imbues every single track with an infectious, cheerful, laugh-at-life-and-have-fun way that I often find reminiscent of the late, great Ian Dury. Now, I freely admit that I am not a big fan of perky, unless they come in pairs, but there is perkiness and perkiness, know what I mean? There is the kind of cheer that makes you grit your teeth (usually with an American or anyone first thing in the morning) and there is the kind of cheer that slaps a shit eating grin on your face instantly - even if you don't want it. Such is the power of Billington. To my ears, this track is not as immediate as some, it feels kind of throwaway, but still a dash of cold water in the face for all that.
Highly Recommended jolt of energy.