Radical Face
The Bastards: Volume One


4.0
excellent

Review

by ComeToDaddy USER (48 Reviews)
May 23rd, 2015 | 7 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I might become the things I swore I'd always be.

Even as hardcore fans continue to lap up extra material, you rarely see analyses of releases outside of albums. These B-sides, EPs, bonus tracks (etc) are all too often treated as castaways and cash grabs, an attempt to gain something from the time an artist has spent on failures that couldn’t make the final product. In defence of the consumer, there are many artists who do exactly that, but lumping Ben Cooper in with those is a grave mistake. If anything, The Bastards epitomizes what these additions should be – music that adds something to the main release, with a very specific purpose and intent.

For the uninitiated, The Bastards is a trio of EPs created to match a trio of LPs called The Family Tree, telling the story of the Northcotes family in spectacular fashion. Part fact, part fable, it’s been described by Cooper himself as “a Frankenstein of random genealogy charts, my own family history, some of my personal experiences and plain old fiction”. It’s a beautifully written concept spanning several generations, covering the entire spectrum of human emotion as this tree grows outward while simultaneously being whittled down by harsh reality. Volume 1 mirrors the first LP The Roots in spanning the first 2 generations of the Northcotes from 1800-1860, and in the same manner, uses the most simplistic instrumentation of the trilogy. Restricting himself to only an acoustic guitar, a piano, and limiting percussion to a floor tom and hand claps gives the entire release a cohesive earthy feel, while also lending an air of honesty and providing the release with a definitive place in the tale. If you had to concisely describe the release, the word "quaint" couldn't be a more apt description, with straightforward lyricism, musical simplicity and uncluttered compositions.

The purpose of this release is to flesh out the family tree, and The Bastards follows along with those that didn’t contribute to the rest of the tree. The ones that fled in rough times or didn’t accomplish what they had planned – the failures and the outcasts. It should be noted though that none of these tracks were relegated to this EP due to any shortcomings, they simply didn’t have a place in the primary album. They simply didn’t contribute to the flow or goals of the album, so they were left out and given a separate space. It’s really poetic, and Cooper treats them with the utmost care and respect. It may not be as engaging and diverse as The Roots was, that much is certain, but there’s a very specific purpose behind that. These characters are designed for negativity, living their lives through denial and feigned positivity, where hope is the only fuel to keep them going. You know it’s going to be a rough ride when a line like “It's only blood; I have plenty left” is a positive one. Hell, paraphrasing the lyrics of the closer essentially reads “nothing can possibly get worse from here. We should be happy, because it can only get better!” Even lined up next to the raw emotional pieces in the main album, it’s a tough haul having 3 of these downtrodden pieces in a row, giving a lot of emotional staying power to the release for any sympathetic listeners.

While such a short release undoubtedly suffers from a lack of variation and the inability to fully flesh these characters out in the short space, it’s something that should be experienced by anyone who has appreciated The Roots. Even if it’s not an integral part of the story, it builds upon the world forged in its parent album, adding splashes of colour to the surroundings and making the whole tale that bit more believable. Even if the tracks themselves mean little to you, their importance to the world Cooper is creating cannot be understated.



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
ComeToDaddy
May 23rd 2015


1709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This review is very pointedly written to those who have already listened to The Roots, so my apologies go to any readers who haven't experienced it. But on that note, The Roots is one of my 5's so I strongly recommend you give it a try! I'm going to review each of the Bastards EPs in the build up to The Family Tree's 3rd installment, definitely my most anticipated release of the year.



This ep (as well as the other Bastards releases) can be downloaded for free here: http://noisetrade.com/radicalface

Digging: Desire (POR) - Infinity... A Timeless Journey

ShadowRemains
May 23rd 2015


24980 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this guy can do no wrong

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2015


11923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

the branches > the roots but both 4.5s so no biggie

Digging: Dean Forever - Dean Forever

ComeToDaddy
May 24th 2015


1709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Spinning The Roots would tell you if you'll enjoy his other stuff or not, hope you enjoy man.

ShadowRemains
May 25th 2015


24980 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the branches > the roots but both 4.5s so no biggie


the crooked kind is becoming one of my fav songs

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 29th 2015


26993 Comments


So I never heard of this artist, but it sounds like my kind of thing. I trust your taste, so I'm gonna check this (or a different album that you think is better) out today.

Digging: Foxing - The Albatross

ComeToDaddy
May 29th 2015


1709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely try out the main Family Tree albums. Roots is my favorite, but Branches is pretty much on par, you might prefer either of them. Or if you can't find the time for a full album, 'Family Portrait', 'Always Gold' and 'The Crooked Kind' would give you a pretty good idea of how he sounds. Hope you enjoy!



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