Black Foxxes singer and guitarist Mark Holley isn’t afraid of being honest. He isn’t afraid to tell the world about his brutal, sometimes god-awful personal feelings. Perhaps this quality is what makes their debut album, I’m Not Well, somewhat of a gift to a rock scene that has been taken over by polished pop-tarts and voiceless performers. What is special about this young band from the UK is that the raw authenticity in their music comes from their own place of anxiety. It is something that they’d rather battle in grungy jams than sit and wallow in.
When I first heard about Black Foxxes, it was by complete chance. I was cruising the Internet for new music to listen to and found the band’s performance of their single, “I’m Not Well,” on Vevos Dscvr. One of the first things that caught my attention was how much they reminded me of a sound known only to the classic 90’s Seattle grunge scene and then I fell for Mark’s voice. He didn’t simply sing the lyrics to the emotive rock song, but rather let whatever energy he felt in that moment echo out of himself in a thrall of trills and screams. As a rock fan, this was something I hadn’t seen in a while so I was intrigued.
Watch the band’s live performance here:
This past Friday, Black Foxxes released their debut LP. Little to my surprise, it was welcomed by a fan base that dubbed these humble musicians as the next big thing in rock. The album is, as was much foreshadowed in the aforementioned performance, a refreshing reminder that the strength of a few good musicians, heavy, rough-around-the-edges riffs, and the pure honesty in song writing, still makes for some of the best kind of music. At times I could hear influences like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden making their way into the composition of the album. Other times the sound encompassed something more similar to At The Drive-In-like post-hardcore punk. While neither grunge nor post-hardcore are suited to categorize the band’s genre, (they clearly have one of their own), this album is much suited for a gloomy day, and a battle that comes from within.
I’m Not Well begins with it’s title track, one of the most memorable and powerful songs of the album. While it sets the tone for what will be a fairly visceral emotional study, it does not ease us in slowly. “I’m Not Well,” is a bold confessional of Mark’s true feelings of anxiety, one’s that this album have confronted head on. “Whatever Let’s You Cope,” the third single to have been released from the album, pulls back for a moment, and let’s us sink into the depth of the band’s unrest. However, it’s not long before Mark shows off, if only unintentionally, his ability to stake ownership over his vocal box and squeal into the microphone.
As the album continues, we are approached by tracks that are both forthright and uncompromisingly raw. On “Home,” Mark pleads for some kind of comfort from residing in the confines of his own house, and in his desperation for solitude. “Cause I want to live alone/I want to sleep alone/I want to stay at home,” he sings.
The final track, “Pines,” let’s the album concludes with a track that allows the band, at times, to show off a softer, more delicate sound. But the truth is, the entire album is delicate memoir of an artist’s struggle. It is one that is likely to incite empathy among its listeners, and give both musician and fan alike the chance to find some peace within themselves.