Black Page Turns – 12 in 2012

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Review by Paul H Birch

Formed in Leicester as a virtual band under the musical direction of singer, songwriter and bass player Mike Sales, Black Page Turns’ mission statement expanded to take on Jon Tridgell and David New from The Authentics, then latterly guitarist Wil Tonkiss in three-dimensional form. Subsequently standing shoulder-to-shoulder out in the real world Black Page Turns gigged and recorded; culminating in last year’s ambitious marketing scheme whereby they recorded and made available a single song each month. Admirably achieving that goal the obvious next step was to collate the tracks as an album with the self-explanatory title 12 in 2012.

While you can trace some of the band’s influences (a little Foo Fighters, more Coheed & Cambria) there’s an individuality about the songs offered, resulting in my presumption that Sales, even if benevolently, continues to engineer the musical balance of the band. It also feels that Sales was following his creative muse – as much as the constraints of Black Page Turns’ self-imposed deadlines allowed – rather than imposing a musical identity for the band as an entity itself. On the one hand that stops them being pigeonholed to specific musical genres, on the other the wrong song heard first could sour a potential fan.

Tracks like ‘Things That Make Us Hate’ and ‘The Beginning’ are up tempo Brit-flavoured rock featuring sharp little guitar patterns rather than slam-bang riffs, plus harmony guitar solos as appropriate. The titles themselves reveal both the social and personalised observations Sales writes about, all sung in a clear distinct voice that’s a little reminiscent of Jon Bon Jovi. By contrast there are numbers like ‘Henry VIII’ where we’re hardly talking medieval madrigals more The Velvet Underground going heavy on distortion. Then to confuse the issue further, about half way through the collection, there are three acoustic numbers back-to-back – All with affecting charm and some character but leaving the impression of it being a separate solo acoustic act.

‘Damaged’ features a bitter lyrical narrative with intricate melancholic acoustics interplaying, it’s followed by ‘Taste So Good’ wherein a jazzy rock guitar riff grows ever more fluid, with an infectious chorus that veers towards sleaze rock and goes out-and-out profane  near the end. They demonstrate how well two differently styled songs can work alongside each other.

Ironically an electrified cover of the old Joe Jackson hit ‘Stepping Out’ brings the various qualities of the band together well, while the rowdy ‘Player One Ready’ leaves you with a desire to see the band live. What songs they play in that environment and their running order could prove enlightening, because, heard as an album throughout, 12 in 2012 doesn’t always gel; despite there not being a bad one in the mix and some absolute gems in there.

Black Page Turns - 12 in 20126.5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1.  Things That Make Us Hate
  2.  Henry VIII
  3. Riot Graves
  4.  The Beginning
  5.  Feathers
  6.   On Trial
  7.  Damaged
  8.  Taste So Good
  9.  The Last Four Things
  10.   Stepping Out
  11.  No License (To Love)
  12. Player One Ready