Stepping out of the shadows with their debut full-length record is Leogun, a three-piece rock band that has been turning heads in their native London and throughout the U.S. since signing with Yamaha Entertainment Group in 2012. Influenced by blues-based acts of the past and present from Led Zeppelin to Jack White, Leogun present a formidable energy on By The Reins that is well matched in the explosive performances they offer audiences in live settings. Featuring nine new tracks and two that appeared on the group’s 2012 debut EP Leogun (“Everyday” and the single “Let’s Be Friends”), this album unveils an eclectic set of songs perfect for blues fans looking to add a modern rock-leaning outfit to their playlists.
Recorded in part at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios, By The Reins includes both fast-paced foot stompers friendly to radio formats and longer experimental tracks. Album opener “Piggy in the Middle” sets a blistering pace for singer and guitarist Tommy Smith as bassist Matt Johnson and drummer Mike Lloyd race to keep up. “Let’s Be Friends” and “Do What You Do” are similarly speedy, while “Drunk Enough” provides a loud rollicking beat supported by vocals that are at times reminiscent of those of Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin’s early years. The record’s namesake closes the track listing with an initial bluesy guitar riff that is soon joined by Smith’s powerful vocals. Tying in lyrics that narrate the acceptance of vulnerability in relationships with complex guitar work and instrumental sections that burst from the song’s early calm, “By the Reins” is one of the album’s best songs, a memorable track that leaves listeners yearning for more.
Leogun’s snappy songs are fun to listen to, but it’s on the longer experimental tracks that the band really shines. “By the Reins” is a perfect example of this, but “Another Lost Soul” arrives to prove this point even earlier on the record. Beginning with Smith’s raw vocals and the vulnerable plucking of his guitar, “Another Lost Soul” soon grows into a multi-string production as Leogun momentarily tosses hard rock aside and embraces the potential in compositions with delicate details and smooth transitions. “Everyday” is another of the group’s longer tracks, an epic piece that begins with a notable bass line by Johnson that seems to stay at the center of the song even as Lloyd introduces a steadily maintained volume on top of it.
The release of By The Reins lands in the middle of a busy June tour for Leogun, just one of many U.S. visits the band has planned for 2013. In addition to touring with other up-and-coming blues rock acts like Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown (the bands played a few shows together earlier this spring), Leogun have also confirmed a couple of dates in August where they will open for Kiss. Until then, the group is celebrating the release of their first full-length album and gearing up to play additional shows in the U.S. and in London in support of the record.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Piggy in the Middle
– Drunk Enough
– By the Reins
The Big Hit
– Piggy in the Middle
Review by Meghan Roos