Haven: All For a Reason

Haven is a band that steadily and skillfully toes the line between pop and rock, and seems to have a deft sense of how to craft melodic, radio-ready songs without pandering or sacrificing artistic value.


All for a Reason

Label: The First Time
US Release Date: 2007-08-21
UK Release Date: Available as import

UK rockers Haven may have received a world of aid from iconic countryman Johnny Marr (Marr gave the group help early in their career, and has produced much of their material), but don't expect the band to produce anywhere near the level of intensity or glorious gloom Marr's former outfit the Smiths were famous for. Instead, Haven is a band that steadily and skillfully toes the line between pop and rock, and seems to have a deft sense of how to craft melodic, radio-ready songs without pandering or sacrificing artistic value.

Marr produced eight of the eleven tracks on the band's sophomore effort, All for a Reason, which, though originally released in the spring of 2004 by EMI, is seeing new light with its 2007 release by Michigan-based The First Time Records. The newest version of the album features a revamped tracklisting, with previous offering "Getaway" trimmed in favor of the tracks "Tell Me" and "No Way to Fade", and the bulk of the tracks which survived the re-issue have been reordered. The result is a tight, well-sequenced record with the appeal to attract new listeners.

The band's sound is a combination of the new and the relatively new. The influence of British artists who peaked in the '90s is evident (Oasis, The Verve), while the group's melodic, guitar-driven brand of rock should appeal to fans of currently reigning pop stars like Coldplay, Snow Patrol, and Aqualung. Throughout the course of the album, Haven's strengths are quite clear. Frontman Gary Briggs is a confident and charismatic presence, and does a quality job of guiding the listener through the album, and the interplay between Briggs and Nat Watson's guitars alternately add heft and sensitivity to the well-written songs (credited, with an exception or two, to the entire band), marked by engaging verses, huge, hooky choruses, and dynamic range. Marr (and Dave Eringa, who produces the album's other three tracks) frames the band's material well and enables Haven to play to these strengths.

The album's early tracks establish an overall tone which is reinforced throughout All for a Reason. Opening with the title cut, Haven quickly floods the listener with melodic guitar passages and a strong vocal performance from Briggs, all set to the shuffling rhythms marked out by drummer Jack Mitchell and bassist Iwan Gronow. The track's successor, "Have No Fear", is one of the album's strongest moments and is a real treat for those who appreciate the bands who guided the trajectory of British pop/rock over the past two decades or so. With a beautiful tune, complimentary background vocals, and a gentle momentum, the cut shines.

Also of note are such standout tracks as the countrified "Change Direction", the shimmering guitar pop of "Wouldn't Change a Thing", and "Tell Me", which evokes the mid-'90s alternative rock sounds of bands like Dishwalla and Goo Goo Dolls.

All for a Reason is one of those rare albums that doesn't really contain a bad track (the first minute or so of closing cut "Don't Say a Word" seems like it might contradict this notion, but by the time the song's hook is established, it proves worthy of inclusion). Granted, there is not a whole lot of innovation or daring here; the album is fairly conventional in its pop/rock sound. However, what the members of Haven do, they do well, and there is something extremely rich and welcoming about the album they have delivered.

Hopefully, this project will not be passed over or get lost in the shuffle just because it's being re-released. Those hearing All for a Reason for the first time should appreciate the skill with which the project was put together. Listeners being reminded of their first experience with the album may well find that the material has stood up over the past couple of years and grows with each successive listen.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' S9 Couldn't Find Its Rhythm

Larry David and J.B. Smoove in Curb Your Enthusiasm S9 (HBO)

Curb Your Enthusiasm's well-established characters are reacting to their former selves, rather than inhabiting or reinventing themselves. Thus, it loses the rhythms and inflections that once made the show so consistently, diabolically funny.

In an era of reboots and revivals, we've invented a new form of entertainment: speculation. It sometimes seems as if we enjoy begging for television shows to return more than watching them when they're on the air. And why wouldn't we? We can't be disappointed by our own imaginations. Only the realities of art and commerce get in the way.

Keep reading... Show less

Wars of attrition are a matter of stamina, of who has the most tools with which to keep fighting. A surprising common tool in this collection? Humor.

The name of the game is "normal or abnormal". Here's how you play: When some exceedingly shocking political news pops up on your radar, turn to the person next to you, read them the headline and ask, "is this normal or abnormal?" If you want to up the stakes, drink a shot every time the answer is abnormal. If that's too many shots, alter the rules so that you drink only when things are normal—which is basically never, these days. Hilarious, right?

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.