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Video of the Moment #1628: High Hazels

By on Monday, 15th September 2014 at 6:00 pm

Sheffield’s High Hazels newest single ‘Misbehave’ out today on Heist or Hit Records, and here is its accompanying promo. Frontman James “Jamie” Leesley takes a turn at a karaoke night in a sleepy boozer in London while a disinterested crowd look on. Well, until James has to get dragged off. It’s a pretty hohum video until you notice what – or who – is on the video screen. For further, watch the video below.

Past TGTF coverage on the band, including Carrie’s review of this single, is this way.



Single Review: High Hazels – Misbehave

By on Tuesday, 5th August 2014 at 12:00 pm

Despite being over a month from its official release, the new single from Sheffield up-and-comers High Hazels, titled ‘Misbehave’, has already received its first mainstream radio spins. The track earned airplay on Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show last week after having been picked up by BBC 6music’s Steve Lamacq the week prior. While High Hazels garnered praise for their previous releases, the ‘In the Half Light’ EP (reviewed here by Mary) and especially single ‘Hearts Are Breaking’, it could be ‘Misbehave’ that really makes their mark leading up to their debut LP.

The beauty in High Hazels’ music up to this point has been the combination of their diffusely romantic lyrics with the sweet lilt of James Leesley’s singing voice and the hazy echo of the atmospheric guitar and percussion effects. Their songs have been the quietly introspective type that might provoke a wistful sigh, a rueful smile, or maybe even a catch in your throat. But with ‘Misbehave’, Leesley and his bandmates have purposefully unfixed their gaze from the tips of their shoes and decided to take a more direct approach.

The song’s suggestive opening lyric, “Do you want to misbehave?”, is immediately more visceral and outspoken than anything we’ve heard from High Hazels before. It isn’t an entirely novel idea in the canon of popular song, of course, but the appealing sincerity in Leesley’s singing keeps it from sounding like a bad pick-up line. His vocals become more throaty and anguished as the guileless chorus repeats, “I need to find my way / Before it gets too late / Just tell me what you want to hear / I need to know ‘cos I wanna be near to you.”

Musically, the concise lyrical phrases are punctuated by heavy, pounding drums and chunky guitar countermelodies, while the usually reverberant instrumental texture takes a slight turn toward woozy psychedelia. Producer Matt Peel might be responsible for the experimentation in the audio effects, but the design doesn’t come entirely out of nowhere. Hints of this sound could possibly be heard in the 4-to-the-floor rhythm of other ‘In the Half Light’ EP track ‘Summer Rain’, though ‘Misbehave’ definitely has more groove and more movement.

As a stand-alone single, ‘Misbehave’ is seductively catchy and infectious, but I’m more interested to find out where it will stand in the context of High Hazels’ full LP when that is eventually released. It could serve equally well as a quick change of pace or a complete change of direction. Either way, my curiosity is piqued.


‘Misbehave’ is scheduled for release on the 15th of September on Heist or Hit Records, to be swiftly (we hope!) followed by High Hazels’ debut LP. The official audio of the single can be heard below.



Video of the Moment #1508: High Hazels

By on Wednesday, 30th April 2014 at 6:00 pm

The promo video for the High Hazels track ‘Winter Song’ has now been revealed. Oddly, it’s not set in winter – granted, considering their latest EP ‘In the Half Light’ (reviewed by me here) was only released earlier this month, they would have had to film it ages ago to fit the season – and instead, it sees the boys paying a visit to the Lincolnshire seaside town of Cleethorpes. ‘In the Half Light’ is available now.

In case you missed it, we posted an acoustic video of the Sheffield band performing their latest single ‘Summer Rain’ for Amazing Radio in Newcastle earlier in April back on Monday, and you can watch it right here.



Live Gig Video: High Hazels perform acoustic version of ‘Summer Rain’ for Amazing Radio

By on Monday, 28th April 2014 at 4:00 pm

Sheffield’s High Hazels are currently on tour in the UK. They stopped in Newcastle 2 weeks ago for a session and interview with Amazing Radio, including recording this acoustic version of ‘Summer Rain’, the lead single off their excellent ‘In the Half Light’ released earlier this month. (Read my review of the EP here.) Watch the gorgeousness below.

Catch them live this week supporting the Crookes at Brighton Hope tonight (28 April) and London Camden Dingwalls tomorrow (29 April).



Album Review: High Hazels – In the Half Light EP

By on Thursday, 3rd April 2014 at 12:00 pm

Sheffield band High Hazels will be releasing their debut EP on Monday. But before I dive headlong into a review of the songs themselves, I wanted to take a moment to discuss its wonderful title first. ‘In the Half Light’ is, putting it mildly, incredibly evocative. In the wilds of my imagination, my mind conjures up scenes of stirring just as the sun peeks its head over the horizon, as the beauty of dawn breaking is revealed. In the context of the songs on this EP, however, my mind goes one step further, seeing a lonesome male figure awoken by the memory of someone dear but lost to him, as the noted half light turns into day and the wistfulness -and sadness – remains.

‘In the Half Light’ may be only a small collection of a paltry four songs, but it’s an incredibly strong set of four songs. The EP begins with ‘French Rue’, a tune I fell in love with researching this Bands to Watch feature on the group back in the summer of 2013. If you read other media outlets’ impression of the band, the word “psychedelic” is bandied about. But are High Hazels’ guitars psychedelic? Not from my vantage point, and not in the trippy, multi-coloured kaleidoscope way, but perhaps more so in a nostalgic, echoey, at times drone-y fashion.

And to be perfectly frank, I wouldn’t want to be under the influence of anything while listening to High Hazels. (Just to prove to you how un-rock ‘n’ roll I am, I’m reviewing this sat with my laptop as my washing machine is chugging away with my laundry in the next room.) There’s something to be said when you’re enjoying a song with vocals clear as a bell, emotional guitars and understated drumming that holds everything together like the final piece of a puzzle. In a less talented group’s hands, this EP could have gone horribly wrong. But in hands of this band, it’s perfection, and High Hazels have set the bar high for their future.

‘French Rue’ evokes true heartbreak with the backdrop of a sympathetic setting sun; previously revealed, beautiful yet incredibly catchy ‘Summer Rain’ (my review from last month here; promo video here) moves the story into the bedroom, where dreams of a former lover and more carefree days under the same sun haunts its protagonist to the core. Though it’s not as strong as these two, frontman James Leesley’s vocals are nimble across the melody in ‘Loose Stitches’ are admirable, as the track weaves a nighttime tale of fading light, togetherness, dreams and desire.


But I bring your attention to track 2 of the EP. We may be in the throes of the start of spring, but the tastefully plucked notes of ‘Winter Song’ brings back memories of colder days, of “ghostly roads”, icy ground and the loneliness you feel in that aforementioned half light: half awake, half asleep, in a hazy dream. I reckon that was the point of this whole EP: ‘In the Half Light’ was made to make you feel something, and something deep. With that goal in mind, High Hazels have succeeded.


‘In the Half Light’, the debut EP by High Hazels for their label Heist or Hit Records, will be released next Monday, the 7th of April. The band will be playing an EP launch party at home at the Sheffield Queens Social Club next Friday, the 11th of April. The following week, they head out on tour with their city brethren the Crookes on a 2-and-a-half week tour of the UK; all the dates are listed here.


Video of the Moment #1469: High Hazels

By on Wednesday, 12th March 2014 at 6:00 pm

Sheffield’s High Hazels have a new promo video out for the lead track from their upcoming EP ‘In the Half Light’, out on the 7th of April on Heist or Hit. I reviewed ‘Summer Rain’ last week, and the visuals in this one are suitably classic and simple to match the song. Watch the video below.



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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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