Bear Trade - Blood & Sand (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Bear Trade

Blood & Sand (2015)

Dead Broke Rekerds

When I first listened to Bear Trade, my immediate thought was “this is like Title Fight”. Not the current shoegazey, moody Title Fight, but the early Title Fight of The Last Thing You Forget. I love that compilation, but it's always seemed to me like Title Fight was a little too young and a bit too green behind the ears for the songs to really come together. I’d always thought the songs on that record would have been twice as good with a little experience and little more skill and I secretly wished they would revisit that sound. Six years later, Bear Trade’s fulfilled that wish. Blood & Sand sounds like if Title Fight’s earlier stuff was written by four much older northern British punks. It’s got the same desperate melodic hardcore-ish punk with a slight pop-punk sheen, but much tighter and wiser.

The songs are all at a fast tempo, not quite skate-punk, but on par with the average Iron Chic or Banner Pilot tune. Both bands have similar anthemic approaches and I can hear a little of each in every Bear Trade song. The band's consistent style is the rousing punk burner, complete with fist-raised gang vocals and interesting lead guitar lines. From start the finish, the energy is relentless and the album feels completely cohesive. “Son of the Manse” and “Dolly Mixtures” are especially strong tracks that are infinitely listenable. Even when the band dials it back a bit on “Postcards”, the result is still a poignant take on the same format. The band keeps the gears quickly turning through the final track, “Dead Leg”, a perfect brief end to the album.

Maybe it’s my American obsession with British accents, but the hard Sunderland accent (is that a thing?) makes the album all the more delightful and engaging. Though the vocals aren’t as quite as gruff as, say, Banner Pilot, the accent adds a touch of toughness and despair that American vocals just can’t seem to provide without straining. Even a line like “you have my heart” on the track “Nice Boots” sounds desperate and emotional.

It’s a shame these guys aren’t playing the Fest this year. They’d surely be a crowd-pleaser. Don’t overlook Bear Trade, tucked away in Northern England; they’ve got exciting tunes that are sure to satisfy punk fans anywhere.