February 28, 2021

Retro rockers Heavy Feather are back with a new album – Mountain of Sugar is set to be released by The Sign Records on 9 April, with heavier 60’s and 70’s rock influences, and some amazing blues vocals at the core of the release. 

When Heavy Feather’s first album Débris & Rubble was released in 2019, it was praised by both press and audience, providing a fresh take on contemporary blues-rock, very much in the same vein as Blues Pills – not just with both bands having supremely talented female lead singers but with a shared style of bluesy, rootsy music – mixing raw, airy riffs with delicate picking and ace licks, great rhythms and percussion, and also with a raw but crisp, timeless, very live sound.

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What the press said about Heavy Feather’s debut album Debris and Rubble:

“Heavy Feather may sound outdated but make no mistake, but they aren’t the past, they are the future. – MetalAddicts, UK

“Yeah, this might be the heavy rock album of the year.”  Two Guys Metal Reviews

“A Woodstock transcendental experience, like that beloved vintage record that you love to hear at any time, without ever getting bored” – Denim And Leather

“For a first album, this is a thing of rare, soulful and composed beauty, you can tell they loved creating it” – Velvet Thunder

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Matte Gustafsson (guitars); Lisa Lystam (vocals; Ola Goransoon (drums); Morgan Korsmoe (bass)

Matte, Lisa, Ola & Morgan all started with the same love for the legendary Free, and the goal to create their own version of it; mixing that bluesy rock with high volume, improvisations, and busy drums and basses. They did their first jam together in 2017 and after that, there was no looking back. Heavy Feather is based in Stockholm and all four members come from a background of touring together with bands such as Siena Root, Stace Collins, and Diamond dogs. Singer Lisa Lystam has previously made her name well-known within the Swedish blues- and roots-scene, gaining recognition with her Lisa Lystam Family Band.

Heavy Feather are clearly soaked in the classic rock / blues-rock from the late 60s and early 70s, four very talented musicians creating and playing new stuff in the same vein with the same levels of energy, honesty and passion. So I’m quite nervous that they’ll be able to maintain the “wow” level of their first album…I needn’t have worried! If anything, Mountain of Sugar is a rawer, heavier, and harder release than the debut, but still with that retro feel and psychedelic touch at the core and crucially, still with that variation in style, mix and pace. And Lisa Lystam’s voice is to die for!

And here’s the thing: As I ventured to suggest in my review back in December 2019, Heavy Feather are better than Blues Pills. There, I’ve said it! The reason for this, when you compare this album with the recent Blues Pills release, I simply think that there’s more variety of pace, mood, timbre and melodic guitar work within the HF songset. I say this not to diss Blues Pills, but simply to bang the drum very loudly that Heavy Feather fully deserve the same kind of world-wide praise accorded to their compatriots!

The album consists of 11 roots-rock tracks oozing with a 70’s sound and feel. It’s filled with soul, creativity, and raw vocals from blues singer Lisa Lystam; catchy hooks and roaring bluesy guitar riffs, licks and chord progressions…. and cowbells! Just like their first album, this was recorded with producer Erik “Errka” Petersson to retain that organic blend of 60s/70s sound coupled with a crisp contemporary soundmix.

A happy crew

The album starts with 30 Days, which feels like a calling-on song, distilling all the classic elements and sounds that you’re about to be treated to. Immediately driven by a pulsating riff, lovely clean guitar sounds and snappy percussion before Lisa announces herself, proclaiming the wrongs of her situation, Janis Joplin would be proud! A sizzling middle section of bluesy licks brings you back to the basic punchy rhythm and vocals. It’s great stuff!

Bright In My Mind follows in the same vein, strongly sharp riffs punctuated by pacey, punchy percussion and bass, before the banshee lets loose! But Lisa is always controlled, on pitch, no matter how much she’s belting it out! Another classy guitar-led bridge brings you back to a vocal crescendo – watch the video and enjoy! Love Will Come Easy builds more slowly, pure blues-wails from Lisa and an absolute monster riff, this song HAS to be played loud!

Curiously enough, the title track Mountain of Sugar is, for me, the weakest song on the album! It’s a very short song, just over two minutes, and I suspect lends itself to being greatly extended when played live, and sounding much better for it. Too Many Times though gets back into that urgent, rich, dense, Cream-like blues sound. Another short one, but full of atmosphere.

Let It Shine unveils the softer, balladic side of the band. When Lisa sings like this she can melt the hardest of hard-bitten rockers and have us eating out of her hand. It’s such a shame that although the band got to tour extensively on the back of their debut, they didn’t cross the water to the UK. I live in hope of seeing these guys for real in a proper stand-up venue….Come We Can Go is a classic blues-based work-out, up and down the scales, mighty rhythms beating out, sumptuously reinforcing that smokey, live feel!

Sometimes I Feel then gives a change of mood and style, more akin to Southern rock such as the Allman-Betts band might produce. It certainly demonstrates their versatility and musicianship. Vocals are (I think) taken by Morgan the bassist, and he has that mid-West tinge to his singing. Lovely Lovely Lovely brings us back to the band’s clean, riff-driven powerhouse structure, with added cowbells again, alternating with Lisa’s softer side of vocals. That combination of Lisa’s voice and Matte’s heavyweight riffs is timeless and mesmerising. This is the longest song on the album, just over four minutes, but it has lots going on in it and looks a cert for being extended live. Rubble and Debris follows in the same vein, I suspect Matte can create satisfying riff progressions like this til the cow(bell)s come home! Again the middle section has a wonderfully fluid, 60s inspired yet so fresh guitar solo, Matte seems to ooze Rock’n’roll heritage!

And so to the album’s closer, Asking In Need. Another softer lyrical performance, taut rhythm section, superb melodies, a whopper of a riff and a sumptuously extended, echoing solo whirling around before giving the perfect fade out to a stunning album. I love these guys, they deserve to be massive – Heavy Feather gives you that late 60s and early 70s rock vibe that takes you back, but still gives you hope about the future in rock.

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