Hailing from Birmingham UXL are the combination of the brothers Tierney, Paul, PJ and Paul and long term friend Dan Clark. The band are a breath of fresh air to the British rock scene with their melodic and soulful tones mainly courtesy of frontman John, who has one of the most distinctive vocals I’ve heard for some time.
After catching the band as support for one of Birmingham’s finest rock bands Magnum at Newcastle’s Carling Academy earlier this year, I was greatly impressed with the band, especially with the maturity of the bands musicianship.
The bands debut release 'Can I Dream Again?' shows the bands have all the attributes to go the distance in this cut throat world. As the album gets underway with a short atmospheric intro, then it's down to business with the first track proper and title track ‘Can I Dream Again?’ and instantly you're drawn in by the voice of John Tierney, who vocally comes across as a modern Chris Isaacs, but with a rockier edge. However, the band isn’t built around one man, the rest of the fold are equally impressive with brothers Paul and PJ equal matches for their brothers vocals on drums and guitar respectfully and Clark is faultless on bass, this is the band at their anthemic best.
The album continues with its rockier side with ‘Beautiful Today’, this is another huge vocal performance from John and with the U2 style guitar sound from brother PJ making this a modern classic. Keeping with the Midlands connection the band have the vast vocal talents of TNT’s Tony Mills on backing vocals, not only on this track but four others as well. The band do bring it down from time to time and with the next song ‘Stranger’ they show their more mellower side while still retaining the rock band feel.
It's time to lift things back up a touch with the moving tones of ‘This Life’, a multi layered track with moodier elements mixed with the more rock infused guitars around the chorus section and towards the end of the track.
One of my favourite tracks that the band played live is the next one ‘New Dawn Waiting’, which starts off with a huge guitar intro and builds up to Johns vocals and beyond, with some great guitars for PJ. I can't state enough how huge the sound is from these guys as they mix some hard edge rock n' roll with some great tender moments. Another one of those more tender moments is the semi acoustic ‘Change’, which brings into the mix a few orchestral strings to add to the atmospheric tone before once again raising the bar with some massive vocals from J Tierney.
The band once again differ the direction of the album with the pop rock ‘Make It’, this is a definite feel good track that shows yet another side of the UXL sound, then it's back to the more traditional rock side of their sound with the soulful ‘Drowning Man’ with its crunching guitars. Next in the blink of an eye it's back to the more airy tones with the excellent ‘Stay Awhile’, another epic that starts off from humble beginnings and just builds into a monster of grinding guitars and a huge back beat.
With the album almost at a close the band go for the old adage of leave them wanting more, firstly with my favourite track off the album the massive ‘Onto Better Days’ and finishing off in fine style with ‘Promised Land’ with John once again finding some fantastic harmonies, which puts the icing on the cake to what is a fine debut from a band destined for bigger things.
2. Can I Dream Again?
3. Beautiful Today
5. This Life
6. New Dawn Waiting
8. Make It
9. Drowning Man
10. Stay Awhile
11. Onto Better Days
12. Promised Land
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