British Sea Power are one of those underground acts that are always on the cusp of breaking out and playing to massive audiences. Their fifth album, Valhalla Dancehall is out in Ireland this Friday, January 7, so consider this a crash course in one of the best guitar bands around.

British Sea Power is brothers Yan Scott (vocals/guitar), and Neil Hamilton Wilkinson (vocals/bass/guitar), Martin Noble (guitar/keyboards), Matthew Wood (drums), and the recently added (before the Man Of Aran album) Abi Fry (viola/keyboards) and Phil Sumner (keyboards/cornet/guitar). They have been a growing concern since since emerging from Brighton at the start of the 21st century with each album getting bigger and better.

It all started with The Decline Of British Sea Power back in 2003 where the band found the scope for epic tunes. They redid their debut single and repackaged it as ‘Carrion’ (It was recorded when the band was called British Air Powers and the song was titled ‘British Sea Power’). It has the harmonies and the driving force that would sum up the band as they continued their journey.Here they are on Jools Holland performing ‘Carrion’ three years ago:

First single: ‘Fear Of Drowning’

Second singe: ‘Remember Me’

Third single: ‘The Lonely’

The band’s next single was ‘Childhood Memories’ which has not appeared on any albums but remains a favourite, especially in the live set:

The penultimate track on the debut album showed the scope that the band had that set them apart from the rest of the 2003 groups that would set them apart. ‘Lately’ takes you through every emotion and is a classic rock song, loud, quiet, touching and so much more.

British Sea Power – ‘Lately’

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And then we move onto British Sea Power’s second album, Open Season. Opening track and first single ‘It Ended On An Oily Stage’ reached number 18 in the British charts. It took everything that made BSP such an engaging prospect and didn’t change much. The opening verse contains a line that would stand out like a sore thumb with every other band but is right at home on the track: ‘I wrote elegiac stanzas for you, I hope and pray that they come true.”

Second single off Open Season, ‘Please Stand Up’:

The band released a split single record with The Wurzels in 2005 which saw BSP cover The Wurzels’ ‘I Am A Cider Drinker’, while the Wurzels offered their take on ‘Remember Me’, changing it more than a little from its predecessors’ version. Listen to both below. The run was limited to 1,966 copies after the year the late Adge Cutler formed The Wurzels.

‘I Am A Cider Drinker’

‘Remember Me’ (Wurzels cover)

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After the Krankenhaus? EP in 2007 came the critically acclaimed Do You Like Rock Music? and a move into the big time. If you are to believe Pitchfork, it was indebted to U2 – it wasn’t.

“I think it’s a shame that rock music step outside of music very often; it stays in music world. It doesn’t really interact with any other kind of life,” singer Yan told the BBC.

The first single was about immigration. Called ‘Waving Flags’ it gave a good indication of what to expect from the album.

Second single ‘No Lucifer’:

And my favourite song from the album is the second track, ‘Lights Out For Darker Skies’, which blows me away every time I hear it.

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And this pretty much brings us to the present day and the imminent release of Valhalla Dancehall. The band released a movie soundtrack to Man Of Aran in 2009. The movie details the islanders of Aran while the music offers some added cinematic scope to proceedings. There then came the seven-track Zeus Ep which came out towards the end of 2010.

British Sea Power – ‘Zeus’

Here is the video for ‘Living Is So Easy’, the first single from the soon-to-be-released album.

You can stream Valhalla Dancehall here. It is out on Friday in Ireland. British Sea Power play The Academy in Dublin on February 17. Make sure to grab some tickets. Their live show sometimes features foliage and fighting bears so come prepared!

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