Haven’t heard of Jake Bugg?
Well, it’s time to give him a listen.
This British indie singer-songwriter busted onto the music scene in 2011, making his debut on BBC’s Introducing stage at that year’s Glastonbury Festival. Fast forward to today, and already Bugg has performed on the Festival’s main stage.
Bugg is currently set to release his second album, Shangri La, this month. And indeed, Bugg’s emphatic lyrics and guitar skills come together to make this young Brit an artist you don’t want to miss.
Bugg topped the U.K. pop charts in 2012 with the release of his self-titled album, but this time around, Bugg has stripped it all back down to the basics. There is no Auto-Tuned gloss, no bumped up EDM tracks. There is simply a musician, his voice and his guitar, narrating sentimental tales of working-class youth with resonating authenticity.
This authenticity has the 19-year-old Nottingham-native pinned as the next Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan: someone who is not afraid to be witty, honest, and best of all, simple in his music.
With his singles thus far, Bugg has introduced his own teenage-restlessness through poignant storytelling lyrics. As he sings of “smok[ing] until his eyes bleed” in “Trouble Town” and “skin[ing] up a fat one and hid[ing] from the feds” in the existential youth anthem “Two Fingers,” Bugg allows us to dive into the trouble-making confusion of his youth.
Bugg continues to push boundaries in the 90s grunge-influenced “Ballad of Mr. Jones,” a biting murder tale that introduces real depth and haunting creativity in Bugg’s writing. Considering the complex lyrics of his first album too, it seems as if Bugg can turn any dream, any nightmare, and any mishap with his friends into a nonchalantly touching song.
And while Bugg’s lyrical talent is undeniably powerful, his impressive guitar work can’t be ignored. The singles “Taste It” and “Lightning Bolt” both hold explosive guitar breaks that came together “by chance,” according to Bugg in Spotify sessions.
In contrast to the largely acoustic works of his first album, two new singles from Shangri La, “What Doesn’t Kill You” and “Slumville Sunrise,” showcase Bugg’s fantastic electric guitar capabilities with toe-tapping rhythms. Bugg told Rolling Stone that these punk-y tracks are the heaviest of Shangri La, and that their early release is meant to throw listeners for a loop. But I know I can’t help hoping for more like them.
And thankfully, more of that punk vibe may be coming our way. Bugg also explained that Shangri La is a much more cohesive work than his previous effort.
“The songs on the first album were written over a course of years, whereas these ones have been written in the last year,” he said to correspondent Dan Hyman.
Perhaps this will mean that high-energy tracks like “Slumville Sunrise” will be the norm rather than the exception.
Not to mention that all of Shangri La‘s tracks were recorded with legendary producer Rick Rubin, who seems to bring out a heavier rock sound in the young artist. Though their work together started as a two-song project, the entirety of Shangri La emerged as a final product.
I know I can’t wait to hear the full effect of this collaboration.
If you want to catch a unique sound in the making, check out Jake Bugg’s newest single “Slumville Sunrise,” and don’t miss the release of Shangri La due on November 18.
Article by Haley Trap