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It's a Bugg's life for a teen with huge talent

JAKE BUGG Jake Bugg (Universal)

You hear it regularly. The lament of the lazy who insist that modern music is rubbish. Depending on their age, they complain there's been nothing good since Status Quo, Supertramp, The Stone Roses or The Strokes. They're wrong, of course.

Technological innovations aside, it's always fascinating to hear what happens when teenagers get their first guitar.

Some adopt Woody Guthrie's slogan, "This machine kills fascists" and use it to voice a frustrated political polemic. Others rush to re-define the concept of Alan Partridge-style middlebrow sludge and source an audience in Tehran or Tierra del Fuego.


Then there are those who devise engaging melodies and construct songs that accurately describe the world they live in. Since long before Bob Dylan set sail in the early 1960s, there was always a minstrel boy telling it like it is.

Most notably in recent years we've had Ed Sheeran, Fionn Regan and Willy Mason. Now, from Nottingham, 18-year old Jake Bugg goes straight to the top of the list. And deservedly so.

Young Bugg has a nervy freshness seldom heard since Elvis Costello introduced us to Alison or Arctic Monkeys hit with I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.

His 14-track debut album blasts off with a springy guitar strum before a rhythm section kicks in driving Bugg's tongue-twisting rhyming on Lightning Bolt with a fierce urgency.


The radio-friendly Two Fingers illustrates his impressive story-telling ability. "I drink to remember and smoke to forget," he reveals. And while the tune unfolds like a vintage Buddy Holly classic, Bugg is not praising his past. He's giving it the two fingers.

He can turn out a folksy toetapper a la Gordon Lightfoot (Simple As This) or deliver a rootsy put-down with bitter conviction, observing on Trouble Town, "Stuck in speed bump city where the only thing that's pretty is the thought of getting out."

He channels decades of musical influences with ease. And with added strings, his introspective Note To Yourself echoes early Donovan.

But what a great name. What a great future. HHHHI