Even if you haven’t heard of British funk/neo-soul rockers The Heavy, you’ve heard their music. ‘How You Like Me Now,’ the Heavy’s most popular yet relatively anonymous song, has been featured on TV shows (Entourage, Community, and White Collar), in film (Horrible Bosses, The Fighter, The Change-Up and Ted) and even in Kia commercials. Despite their relative lack of popularity or commercial success in the US, the Heavy have gained a substantial fan base in Britain, and for good reason.
Most people with functioning auditory canals would classify this as enjoyable, if not good, music. And what’s not to like? Even Letterman loves them. The Heavy sound like the soulful, roaring love-child of the Black Keys and Curtis Mayfield, fusing garage-rock, blues, soul, and funk in a way that is unequivocally unique in an era of generic, one-dimensional pop music. And that, to me, is really fucking cool. Their first album title, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire, is a reference to Jules Winnfield’s Bible quote in Pulp Fiction. If that’s not bad ass, I don’t know what is.
For their latest album, The Glorious Dead, the Heavy traveled to Columbus, GA on a suggestion from their U.S. tour bus driver. The group recorded with a local gospel choir, incorporating authentic elements of American soul and blues musical tradition into The Glorious Dead. The lead single on the album, “What Makes a Good Man,” comes with blistering, soulful vocals from lead singer Kelvin Swaby, the aforementioned gospel choir, and a retro-soul quality that instantly transports the casual listener to blaxploitation films of the 1970s (if Shaft ever needs a new theme song, I nominate this).
What makes the Heavy so great is the diversity they bring to music. You really can’t pin them down to one genre. And unlike a lot of genre ‘fusion’ today, such as rap-rock, this doesn’t suck (see: entire Papa Roach discography). The Heavy manage to both pay homage to their rock, soul, blues, and funk roots, and provide new and innovative music that is just plain cool.
Listen to The Glorious Dead here http://www.billboard.com/features/the-heavy-s-the-glorious-dead-exclusive-1007812352.story#/features/the-heavy-s-the-glorious-dead-exclusive-1007812352.story