| NME - 13th November 2004
Live review of Dublin Castle show, 2nd November 2004
As pop continues to gorge on it's own upchuck, shitting out ever more lame coverama bands (as we've decided to call glorified tribute acts such as The Dead 60's and Th* D*rkn*ss), we need another like Pete Doherty needs a Stanna Stairlift.
If, as the Scene Revival Ombudsman has recently declared, 'it's time for ska', let at least be time for a dark, dizzying new brand of ska, not a limp Scouse Xerox. Hard-Fi, four blokes in combats from Staines, are an epiphany: The Specials from Saturn, the revolutionary wing of Junior Senior, the late-'70s having a knife fight with itself.
'Hard To Beat' is Stardust's 'Music Sounds Better With You' scratching at track-marks in a bedsit. 'Cash Machine' is all 'Ghost Town' desolation ("What am I gonna do?/My girlfriend's just turned blue") with a sinister BeeGees boogie. 'Tied Up Too Tight' is Blur joyriding through Coventry in a stolen Ford Fiesta, playing a thug-mashed 'Charmless Man'. Gorillaz called this "zombie hip-hop", but in Hard-Fi's crooked fists it's so much lightning on the dancefloor.
The Independent - 30th October 2004
Hard-Fi 'Stars Of CCTV'
This youthful four-piece offer a line in soul, crossed with a Clash-like punk vibe, steeped in post-rave experience. Mixing pop sentiments with a late night/early morning edginess it also hints at radio-friendly singalong tunes that remind you that, in the early days, Simply Red were actually quite good. 4/5
Channel 4 - Planet Sound
Hard-Fi "Stars of CCTV"
Four years ago Dexys-influenced Contempo paved a path for Razorlight and The Libertines with a series of punky and spunky singles. A band out of time, but singer Richard Archer is back with more gloriously gobby anthems. He's redone the riotous Stronger, simply one of THE best songs never to be a hit. Please, please, please let him succeed now. Gospel and Kasabian are also referenced on a wonderful surprise return. 8/10.
Rock Sound December 2004
Hard-Fi 'Stars Of CCTV'
What has Staines ever given the world, apart from Ali G that is? This non-descript commuter town on the outskirts of West London is the home of Hard-Fi, who bring us this, their debut offering. Melding elements of The Clash (on the brilliant single 'Cash Machine') and Underworld (with 'Hard To Beat''s infectious groove) Hard-Fi are the gritty sound of the suburbs in all its glory. Lyrically, they deal with all manner of day-to-day topics, from teenage pregnancy and holidays in the sun to gun crime and drinking - all the usual then.
I can't see Mike Skinner of The Streets crapping himself just yet but I'm sure it won't be too long before this quartet score a hit with one of their singles and then, who knows?
With a couple of remixes thrown in for good measure, 'Stars Of CCTV' could be the perfect sound track to your weekend suburban adventures. 7/10
Review: Live @ Dublin Castle, Tuesday 2nd November 2004
The Dublin Castle often plays host to great new British bands and this night was no exception. Hard-Fi, a group of young lads with bags of attitude and a suburban London sound to match, have only just released their debut album 'Stars Of CCTV' on Necessary Records but still packed out this intimate Camden venue with fans and industry alike, eager to get a glimpse of Staines' latest offering.
Their sound is a heavily influenced melting pot of The Clash, The Streets with a hint of Daft Punk yet they have somehow managed to stamp their own trademark mix of high-end guitar and low, melodic bass - smothered with Richard Archer's moody 'street' vocals, which somehow keeps Hard-Fi fresh, novel and exhilarating.
Their first single from the album, 'Cash Machine' is a commercial dream of screeching guitar stabs backed with a funky bass line and broken drum beats whist 'Hard To Beat', 'Middle Eastern Holiday' (their imposing opener) and 'Gotta Reason' bring a more hip Clash/Pistols driven, hard punk credibility to their set. The band have brilliantly balanced their songs, blending melodic commercial pop with punk cool, which will ultimately attract both teen-revivalists and die hard 70ıs punksters.
Frontman, Rich Archer, is a star in the making with his dark, sultry looks - strutting and staggering around the stage in a Gallagher-esque manner, oozing attitude and pouring sex appeal over his audience. The band is tight yet sustain more raw energy than the Dublin Castle can contain. These boys are definitely destined for grander pastures.
Hard-Fi are loud, driven, determined and the most exciting new live band to emerge from London in ages!
Ri-Ra Magazine, Ireland
Hard-Fi 'Stars of CCTV'
It's the sounds of suburbia and straight outta Staines - where else? This mini-album is an appetiser for greater tastes to follow, it is quite a credible piece of work. The single 'Cash Machine' with its funky melodic bass and synthesised keyboard hook evokes the spirit of The Clash. 'Hard To Beatmix' is a perfect example of how early Stones would sound given a large dose of dabbling by the one with the name of Wrongtom. Strummer sang about Brixton, Hard-Fi have Feltham - not quite the same but surely the only song I've heard that eulogises the West London town.
Produced by Wolsey White, described by Kerrang as "The Phil Spector of lo-fi". The first time I put this record on I said "Clash" and smiled I knew it couldn't set a foot wrong. It's fair to say you couldn't have a better influence on your music. This is the sound of a band that's hungry, a sound tinged with working class anger and indignation - it's exciting.
Four Stars out of Five, Unmissable. ww.ri-ra.co.uk
Live Review of Manchester Roadhouse show, Oct 2nd 2004.
Hard-fi, are impressive to say the least. These London based boys instantly convey the passion and feel of what The Killers should be like live. The front man handles his mic not unlike Tim Burgess and manages to captivate the few in attendance with his, and indeed the whole band's matured, tight sound.
'Living For The Weekend'stands proud, a throbbing party tune characterised by a thumping bass and jaded guitars. A new band London can be proud of.
Bulletmagazine - Lincoln University Sept 30th 2004
Hard-Fi stole the show - By Thomas Elliott
The start to the Fuse season was given a boost in its second week by the appearance of Pink Grease. Fresh from the Reading festival they blew most of the crowd away with music off their album This Is For Real. However, a small group in the venue justifiably believed Pink Grease were overshadowed by their support act Hard-Fi.
Hard-Fi's set was a passion fuelled lesson in how rock should be written and performed. They mixed a sense of rage against society with rocking guitars and melodicas (that harmonica keyboard thing). They took to the stage with energy and a passion for music that everyone could see, and this remained for their entire set.
Their music seemed to have been influenced by Feeder and the Libertines. However, they managed to stamp a refreshing air of originality to the music. They performed their set as if they were performing to a much larger crowd and in a much grander venue. Each song had a huge amount of passion fuelling it and the band played for the sheer enjoyment of it. This allowed them to get on and play good music as well engage the crowd. When introducing their song Cash Machine Richard Archer, the lead vocalist, told the crowd "most of you can relate to this. It's about being skint."
The headliners Pink Grease, to be fair, were an extremely good act and deserved to have played the sort of gigs they have. Their set was an action packed rocking experience. On any other night they would have fully deserved to headline Fuse, or at least not have been overshadowed. But on that night the stars of the show were the supporting act.
Throughout their set the underlying sense of belief in their music was apparent and it was obvious that the band had written songs that they liked, unlike some bands where marketability is the main deciding factor. However, I also believe that Hard-Fi's music will appeal to a large audience because, at the base of it all, they really are that good. With songs like Cash Machine and Middle Eastern Holiday they will appeal to a diverse range of music lovers. Their album Stars of CCTV is out on November 1 on Necessary records and I urge people to go out and buy it, you wonıt regret it.