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Jake Bugg

Brewing up a boisterous blend of post-Britpop and indie-folk for the download generation, precocious teenager JAKE BUGG could hardly fail to impress the music industry and critics alike. In such a short space of time, the boy went from unknown troubadour to overnight sensation and chart-topping artist.
Born Jake Edwin Kennedy, 28th February 1994, Nottingham, the young Englishman was raised on rock’n’roll from an early age, having been fed a healthy diet of worldly acts from OASIS and CAST to The WHITE STRIPES and ARCTIC MONKEYS. Compared to a third/fourth generation X take of DON EVERLY, BUDDY HOLLY and DONOVAN, 17-year-old Jake was discovered by the Beeb on their “BBC Introducing” spotlight for up-and-coming unsigned acts. Signed to Mercury Records after his renaissance folk-rock debut 45 `Trouble Town’ sold out its limited pressing, and aided by a Glastonbury Festival appearance, the SNOW PATROL-connected Iain Archer took the boy under his wing for subsequent studio sessions. Buoyed by the pair’s collaborative classic, `Lightning Bolt’ (a song utilised by the BBC for a certain 100m sprinter), the crystal-clear quavering of the singer-songwriter and his 60s-styled DYLAN-esque acoustic guitar strumming, was the apostate incarnate of the current X-Factor trend.
The eponymous JAKE BUGG (2012) {*8} was split into two camps, the raucous first four tracks including second Top 30 hit, `Two Fingers’, and the folksy second half. With touches of psychedelia (`Ballad Of Mr. Jones’), old-timey (`Fire’) and roots-y (`Country Song’), Jake’s amiable voice resonates without much bleating or boost; he even teamed up with one-time Britpop LONGPIGS singer Crispin Hunt in a melancholy but uplifting unification: `Broken’. Uncertain if the Americans would pick up on the talents of young BUGG when the album was due April 2013, there was need for panic as it entered the Top 100 in its first week.
Armed with a backing band comprising bassist Jason Lader (ex-FURSLIDE), rhythm guitarist Matt Sweeney (ex-CHAVEZ, et al) and veteran drummer Pete Thomas (ex-Attractions) – plus the esteemed Rick Rubin at the controls, Jake’s sophomore Top 3 set SHANGRI LA (2013) {*7} was fired out after cross-Atlantic sell-out tours. Although not as immediate as its predecessor and named after Rubin’s studio in Malibu where it was recorded, bard BUGG extols the virtues of youth on several melodious but retro-fied DYLAN-cum-Alex Turner tunes. While none hit the ground running as much as `Lightning Bolt’, fans of the young man would be rewarded by `What Doesn’t Kill You’ (a minor hit), `Slumville Sunrise’, `A Song About Love’, `There’s A Beast And We All Feed It’ and the anthemic `Simple Pleasure’. The question was that why some media music rags were quick to dismiss the infectious lad as a passing fad – BUGG could yet prove them all wrong.
Taking time out to sign a fresh UK deal with Virgin-EMI, 22 year-old troubadour Jake percolated several retro R&B riffs for third consecutive Top 5 set, ON MY ONE (2016) {*6}. A sprawling 33-minute melting-pot of sparing DYLAN-esque folk (`Put Out The Fire’ and the title track), Madchester/Britpop (`Gimme The Love’), the nocturnal SIMPLY RED-type disco cut (`Never Wanna Dance’), white-boy/BECK rap (`Ain’t No Rhyme’), and The BAND-like `Livin’ Up Country’ – AMERICA for `The Love We’re Hoping For’ anybody? – can a-body be blamed for thinking we’d heard it all before. Rip up it and start again, sonny boy BUGG.
Though losing some transient commercial ground, the much-improved Top 10 HEARTS THAT STRAIN (2017) {*7} was more in line with his “old” self, or Americana-60s songsmiths LEE HAZLEWOOD, BOB LIND or PHIL OCHS; examples `How Soon The Dawn’, `Southern Rain’, `Bigger Lover’ and `The Man On Stage’. Jake’s introspective record was produced in Nashville by BLACK KEYS’ cross-over kingpin DAN AUERBACH, so a campfire-country croon was prevalent throughout; `Waiting’ – a duet with MILEY CYRUS’ teenage sister Noah – unearthed a fresher aesthetic for the young man.
© MC Strong/MCS Mar2013-Sep2017

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