Stars of CCTV
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Product Description

The debut album from Middlesex's Hard-Fi consciously sets out to update the sense of frustrated tension and suburban dread that powered second-wave ska acts like The Specials and The Beat back at the close of the `70s.

Don't get it twisted, this isn't ska-punk a la Brit troupers [Spunge] and Capdown: Hard-Fi play this music lean and moody, like The Streets on downers, or Massive Attack plugging in and tuning up. "Cash Machine" sees a swallowed debit card as the jump-off for vocalist Richard Archer to spin a tale of crushing poverty and unwanted pregnancy, spurred along by thrumming dub bass and the sad wheeze of a vibraphone. They do upbeat as well, as club anthem "Hard To Beat"--a heart-fluttering composite of Northern Soul elation and fist-pumping Rockers reggae--joyfully confirms. But it's the emotional struggle, the ups and downs of life, that keeps Stars Of CCTV engaging throughout: see penultimate track "Living For The Weekend", a hedonistic blast filled with not a little of the passion that fuelled Oasis' Definitely Maybe, which succeeds chiefly because it's all too aware of the bad times as well as the good. --Louis Pattison

One of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year, Stars Of the CCTV is the acclaimed debut album from new British sensation Hard-Fi. Praised by NME as 'the album of the year', Stars Of The CCTV hit #1 on the UK charts and is heading towards double platinum status. The band has just picked up a pair of prestigious BRIT Awards nominations, and has been tearing up U.S. venues from coast to coast with their killer live show. Warner. 2006.

The Long Awaited 2005 Debut Full Length from the Surrey Based Quartet that is Heavy on the Beat, Heavy on the Jagged Razor Guitars and Booming with Energy all Around. Includes the Singles "Cash Machine" and "Tied Up Too Tight".

Customer Reviews:
  • a good listen- potential for greatness
    This was another blind purchase, a used disc at Soundgarden in Syracuse. I dug the cover art and the few seconds i had time to check out on the cd player were interesting enough. First listen through was in a car at low volume, and Hard-Fi sounded like another forgettable indie band. I gave it another shot at home though, remembering that it sounded decent at the record store, and found it to be a pretty enjoyable album. I don't know if i can vouch for their compositional abilities, but their attitude and the production are quite refreshing. This is exactly the kind of uber-new trend-pop that Urban Outfitters plays all day long, and at certain points during Stars of CCTV i couldnt help but squirm at the occasional new wave-hipster cliches. "Gotta Reason" struck me as way too derivative of the neo-disco flavor of the moment to be enjoyable on its own merits, with its "cool awkward" start-stop bassline and shouty lyrics.

    You can't really blame a band for fitting into their own time though, and the crunchy, unpredictable production of this record overshadows its weaker aspects. As has been re-iterated over and over, Hard-Fi has adopted the same dub-influenced aesthetic as guys like the Clash and perhaps the Mars Volta, fusing jangly guitars and reverbed vocals with a wide stereo mix of feedback and other noises. I'm all for the jagged disco-punk thing, and when the band hits their stride on "Cash Machine" and "Hard to Beat" you can see why they have been hyped so much. The messy garage sound, the occasional helter skelter drum machine, and dominant blasts of guitar give them an irreverent, unconcerned sound that is subtly more honest in its rebellious debauchery than many of their peers. They actually sound like the 80s bands that all the hipsters are imitating, rather than an imitation. Their blue-collar lyrics are similar to those of Mike Skinner, and make for way better listening than the standard emo or nu-metal radio fare. No vocal melodies really grabbed me, and the songs themselves don't seem to push any boundaries compositionally; it's really their sound and attitude that makes this worth a spin.

    About halfway through the record they seem to run out of ideas and move into an ill-advised piano ballad, that is totally unremarkable in every way, besides being the low point of the album. This is followed by another ill-advised pop tune that sounds a lot like Our Lady Peace. I have not listened to either of these songs all the way through, as either one has been basically recorded a thousand times by a hundred other bands. Things pick up a bit after this, but the first half of the album contains Hard-Fi at their best, with an eclectic mix of disco-rock stomp and even some filtered house music creeping in from leftfield.

    I'm hoping these guys come into their own a little more with a sophomore effort, although this is a great debut that I imagine I will be returning to for a while. An even rawer, ballsier sound seems to be just around the corner, as if they maybe softened some edges somewhere along the way. I picture them taking the route TV on the Radio did with their second LP, throwing caution to the wind and letting their sound develop into its own beast....more info
  • hard-fi is hard to beat =]
    i love the band hard-fi!! they're from the UK, and most of the music i listen to is from the UK because they have such great music!! <3 i first heard their song on my friend's myspace. and i decided to check them out. i loveee the song "hard to beat"!! it's totally catchy and very original. the remix by axwell is also very great. i also love the song "gotta reason". if you like upbeat and happy yet great music to rock out to, this is for you!!...more info
  • these guys blow away the arctic monkeys
    this is a very good cd, that lives up to the hype, unlike the over rated wankers called the arctic monkeys. Some very catchy rock tunes here, and an awesome ballad 'move on now'......highly of my top3 cd's of the past 7 yrs.....along with interpol's 1st cd...and the strokes 1st cd....more info
  • Not a classic, but cool all the same
    Okay, this has come in for some slating in the reviews, but there's really some decent stuff here - Middle Eastern Holiday, Cash Machine, Living for the Weekend, Unnecessary Trouble - all rock. Problem is, not the entire album is to the same high standard - I'll only be keeping 6 out of the 11 tracks on my MP3 player! Okay, it's not grittily urban, but more commercial Indie rock, but if your bags thumping guitars and anthemic choruses, you won't go far wrong here....more info
  • Screw the weekend, I'm living for Hard-fi.
    I first heard the Hard-fi single "Hard to Beat" on the local alt rock station somewhere in the territory of 2-3 a.m. I fell in love immediately and called the radio station to ask what it was. Later I heard "Cash Machine," another catchy single, and made the executive decision that even if all the other tracks were awful bits of fluff and filler, it would be worth it for those two songs. I picked up the CD at the bookstore last night, listened to it on the way home, put it on repeat overnight, and it's currently on its third play on my office computer (it's only 10:45 am - I don't plan on listening to anything else today).

    I was pleased to find that all eleven tracks on "Stars of CCTV" are solid full-length songs - none of this filler spoken word sampled crap nonsense. Infectious grooves, hand claps and anthemic shouted choruses are found everywhere. Vaguely Any of the songs could be the next single - not the case with most albums. My personal favorites are "Hard to Beat," "Middle Eastern Holiday," "Tied Up Too Tight," and "Gotta Reason," but they're ALL good. Worth your while. I personally think they're better than the Arctic Monkeys....more info
  • Superb
    I heard a couple of Hard-Fi's songs while listening to the alternative station on Napster. What a find. I liked them enough to check out their whole album and I can listen to it from start to finish two or three times through. I downloaded it from Napster but decided to come here and post about it and 5-star it....more info
  • WOW!
    What can I possibly say about HARD-Fi that can possibly describe just how great they are? They've got the greatest catchy songs I've ever heard! They are awesome.

    A 17 year olds review
    ~Cathy~ ...more info
  • A Surprisingly Terrific Debut
    I found Hard-Fi's debut CD by accident, while surfing the net for some new tunes, so I had no preconceptions when I listened to it. What a pleasant surprise! This new group's musical talent and promise are unmistakable. Although this is definitely New Century music and no 1980s rehash, there are aspects of this CD that are reminiscent of The Police and The Clash. Hard-Fi has a similar positive energy that both those legendary groups had. It also doesn't hurt that each song has flavors of ska or reggae, danceable beats, undulating rhythms, interesting lyrics, and pleasant musical surprises in each track. In "Better Do Better," about a guy refusing to take back his cheating lover, there is a palpable combination of resentment, sadness and resignation that comes through on the vocals. In the slower break-up tune, "Move On Now," haunting horns softly punctuate the vocals. Move on Now, Better Do Better, Cash Machine, Hard To Beat, and Living for the Weekend are among the best tracks, but every song has something entertaining to offer. In this terrific debut, Hard-Fi offers a sound that is melodic, energetic, upbeat, and refreshingly new. ...more info
  • Greatest Composers Since Schumann
    The chains of pandeatonic clusters in "Hard to Beat" and the Aeolian cadence of "Cash Machine" place this album in the company of such great works as Gustav Mahler's Song of the Earth.
    ...more info
  • it's something new, and i'm loving it!
    It's not that often that music fans get to hear something new that separates itself from all of the other generic tues out there. The band Hard-Fi, has not only broken past the barrier of generic bands, they've made me a fan for life.

    The new album is something that I put in my CD player when i'm just sick and tired of hearing the same thing on the radio day after day. Hard-Fi's song "Cash Machine" is awesome, and I loved it from the second I heard the song. It also was a painful reminder to me that somewhere out there, somebody is listening to the radio and hearing another song by "The Killers" that has been playing for over a year now.

    Please, give me a break. In today's world the bands that sound just like everyone else need to step aside. They need to sit on the sidelines and let Hard-Fi show them how it's done.

    I loved Stars of CCTV, and would highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a change of pace in their musical appetites....more info
  • Five Stars for Stars of CCTV
    Stars of CCTV by Hard-Fi is an insanely catchy, extremely good first album. I know in this day and age we anoint the next Beatles on a weekly basis, but there's something about this band (OK, I know a lot of people will say this is sacrilege, especially since Hard-Fi is so derivative). I won't get analytical here... I'll just say, stick it in the cd player and turn up the volume. And, oh yeah, put on your dancing shoes. This is a DANCE BAND. But there's also a grit and gusto there that's real.

    Buy it, promote it, love it, live it....more info
  • London Suburb Kids Sound Off
    11 excellant tracks is what you get from a great debut album. Hard Fi are wonderful. The lead track Cash Machine, Tied Up Too Tight, Hard To Beat, and Better Do Better are top of the charts singles. Richard Archer's composer skills are not limited to these four songs. Hard Fi are a new band that has alot of promise with a vein that be traced back to such greats as The Jam, The Clash, and The Specials. Unnecessary Trouble track shows a great blend of these groups. This album will be a classic no matter how long the life of Hard Fi will be. A must buy. Hoping for alot more great music coming out of this band from the suburbs of London. Hard Fi are off to a very good start. Please get this one now....more info
  • New Stars On The Horizon
    Apart from being major rock stars, John Lennon, Madonna and Bono all had in common the loss of their mother in tragic circumstances at a young age - a factor that each saw as a driving force in their quest for fame. Hard-Fi frontman Richard Archer can also be added to this dubious list of celebrities, with the death of his mum in June having dampened the release of his band's debut album Stars Of CCTV. Nonetheless, family tragedy can do little to stop this fledgling band from taking off, with Stars Of CCTV hosting a number of hot tracks that will no doubt see them branded as the Kasabian of 2005. Falling somewhere between Stereo MC's and Stereophonics, Hard-Fi mix dance beats with rock bravado, almost as if the outfit was looking for a fight while strutting around a dank club. On opener Cash Machine there's a skank addict desperation to the lyrics, with Archer singing of his girlfriend's pregnancy test turning blue, skipping the train fare and running away from his fears with all the melodrama of a week with Pete Doherty. Unnecessary Trouble finds the punchy demeanour of Kasabian being fully realised, while the subdued piano of Move On Now is reminiscent of dispirited Richard Ashcroft after finding out the drugs don't work. While it's an acoustic twist away from frantic beats, the title track finale is perhaps the cleverest and most engaging tune on this preliminary collection, detailing the Big Brother society we now inhabit. His maternal loss may be currently weighing heavily upon his shoulders, but if Archer and his mates can keep it together, Hard-Fi have even better prospects than Bloc Party and The Futureheads. ...more info
  • The next big thing
    Absolutely brilliant album.....not a bad track on it. Hard-Fi lyrics speak to the masses with an alternative sound that successfully mixes many genres (rock/pop/punk/regee) similar to last year's break out band The Killers. Definately a most played on my iPod. ...more info
  • Genuine West London Sound
    I am crazy about all of the tracks in this CD. You will find an absolute harmony of beat, electronic guitar, melody, and rock vocal seldom found in today's alternative rock.
    ...more info
  • Not Good
    All this is poppy rocky cock! I hate this new sound rock. This is not a good album and nor was the last. If you want to listen to some good form of rock music then listen to the Foo Fighters. I suggest that you dont buy this album and if you know someone who has got it then kill them.
    ...more info
  • Some great singles but no clash or jam
    Hard fi sell their street cred of staines- wear and play all the right influences along with a dance feel added to britpop and postpunk and have been lauded as the new clash. Not. The singles cash Machine- tied up to tight- and living for the weekend are all great and tie in twotone elements as well and lyrical observations not unlike the jams paul weller. But Hard Fi and frontman Richard Archer start resorting to bad cliche lyrics on hard to beat and other songs. And the video is almost painful to watch- Archer is trying way to hard to be a popstar all pouty lipped and posing. The piano ballad move on now is also just plain bad. Theres too much trying to be overly catchy on tracks that would be better left more edgy- The clash never had to resort to trying to hard as Hard Fi seem to do. Get the cash machine ep and download a track or two from the album and you cant go wrong- instead of this album get london calling or all mod cons by the Jam. Maybe next time the staines boys will get it right- there is some potential, the musical background is present( some dub-pop- ska-punk-dance)- and Cash machine is a top notch track- as good as anything released by any band in years. For those who have problems with comparisons to the Clash press releases and videos(archer in a room under a clash poster) its the band who have shouted it the loudest so i only bring it up because Hard Fi and the Uk press throw it around all the time-NME even said Hard Fi were better than the Clash- quite a claim for a band with only one album....more info
  • Wow! What a Debut!
    Hard-Fi's Stars of CCTV is an insanely catchy album. I haven't been so into an album in a long time and I listen to a lot of music. It has that magical mix of incredible, unique music and immediately accessible lyrics -- but it also sounds familiar somehow. The music is so energetic and hard to get out of your head. It's one of those albums that every couple of days a new song becomes your favorite. If this is not the biggest album of this coming summer I'll be shocked. It's that good....more info
  • Cutting an Edge on the Indie Scene
    Hard-Fi may suffer from some music journos' insistence on putting them in this category or that, but one listen to Stars of Cctv and you will find music that is alive, vibrating with intent and respectful of it's influences. My knowledge of the band itself is limited to that they are suburban lads from Staines (think Ali G references), but the musical world they come from is full of the urgent city sounds of the early 80's like Gang of Four, The Jam (at their most socio-political), Magazine and The Beat. Don't let my list of influences dishearten - Hard-Fi aren't copiest, they are students putting to practice what they have learned from the music of their big brothers....more info
  • A sterling debut!!
    Maddeningly addictive dance/alternative rock from the UK. With tales of everyday life set to upbeat, sunny, fun filled catchy tunes, this is one of the best debuts of 2005!

    Right from the upbeat opening track `Cash machine' about a bank account in the red and lyrics about dodging train ticket inspectors and a pregnant girlfriend (I love the line `There's a hole in my pocket/my pocket/my pocket'), the rocker `Living for the weekend' with a string filled intro and deliriously catchy chorus (the title says it all really; work hard all week and live for the weekend - most Londoners can relate to that), the sunny ska tinged `Better do better' about the half-hearted end of a relationship, it's a look at Brit culture last heard from The Streets.

    Every song stands out really, but I must make special mention of the highly danceable fantastic `Hard to beat' about attraction on the dance floor (my favourite), the tender piano ballad `Move on now' which features delicate horns and percussion filtering in towards the end without competing with the crystal clear vocals of Richard Archer, and the title track with throbbing guitars and eerie sound effects.

    A brilliant CD I find myself playing all the time.
    ...more info
  • Nothing special
    Bands like this are getting championed in the UK music press this year, simply because it's been a weak year in terms of new releases. This is distinctly underwhelming music, do yourself a favour and buy a Wire album instead, I recommend Pink Flag....more info
  • Instant Classic
    I am very picky person when it comes to my music this cd is made of greatness I got it today and have listened to it 3 times already I had to go leave it in my car because I am afraid of over playing it!! Very mellow music. Love the lyrics I will learn the words to all these songs. I am from the US and I will admit I was skeptical but now I am convinced this band is for real! Give them a chance and u will love them to. Today they made a fan for life~Jay...more info
  • Youth and Young Manhood, Staines Style
    While Mike Skinner has been plying his everyman yarns for a few years now, Hard-Fi have emerged to take their place in the distinctly narrow niche of social reality in pop. It would be unfair to simply label the Staines band The Streets with guitars, but they are another mouthpiece for disenchanted white youth in the context of 21st Century Britain.
    Hard-Fi have mass appeal for a couple of reasons; firstly who they are, or have presented themselves to be. The grime scene appeals to kids in London because it speaks from their perspective, on their level. UK hip hop has always had its modest but reliable young b-boy fan base. Hard-Fi, however, have wised-up to the fact that they have lived a fairly typical youth and young-manhood in a satellite town of London, their struggles are those of many, and they only need to sing about their lives to strike a chord with many others who identify.
    Secondly, like The Clash before them, they incorporate elements of a multitude of influences, particularly from the world of black music, allied with a keen pop sensibility. Reggae, dub, ska and hip hop are all prominent in the mix, along with the dance scene, devotees of which are aptly mythologised in Living For The Weekend.
    The anthemic, drive-time choruses of these songs- about little more than being bored, having no money and (courtesy of biggest hit Hard To Beat) chasing girls- propel the album along. Opener Cash Machine deals with having no money, and builds on this basic lyrical premise to form an accomplished piece of relevant, modern music, encapsulating the album as a whole. It packs a decent chorus, a moody, bass-driven groove and even weaves unwanted pregnancy and an interpolated nursery rhyme into its three-and-a-half minutes.
    At eleven songs long, it is a compact debut, not weighed down by filler, and has numerous highlights, including all the aforementioned tracks, the atmospheric Tied Up Too Tight, and the surprisingly-effective, piano-led ballad Move On Now.
    Title track Stars of CCTV is an appropriately-rousing strum-along to finish the album. The vocal performance is also the best showcased by singer Richard Archer, as he sways brilliantly between cooing and sneering, in line with the tone of the lyrics.
    There is little to pick fault at with this debut, but sadly its also too formulaic, with not quite enough dynamism to make it a classic. However, no tracks are particularly weak, save for perhaps the underwhelming cod-reggae of Better Do Better, which can't be rescued by another big chorus. Where the band will go next is a moot point, but there is enough potential here to suggest that they are cut out for great things. Whatever their next step, they shouldn't have to endure those cash machine blues for much longer.

    ...more info
  • Hard-Fi
    If you're thinking of trying out some new Indi - try these guys. Hard to beat is one of the songs of the naughties for me. Good sound, passion in the music and some of the tracks have have the potential to be amazing re-mixes ( Hard to Beat - go nuts Axwell ). Buy with confidence.........more info
  • Solid
    Solid album from across the pond. Indie-pop to the max but have fun with it. The title track is an early favorite....more info
  • very British, very fun!
    As someone who had never heard of Hard-Fi before, when I got to London in the summer of 2005, it was weird to see this unknown band's posters prominently displayed along every underground station and to hear their song being played every hour on the local radio station. I grew to LOVE the first single, "Hard to Beat" which is just a simple pop song, very fun and catchy. I got home to the states and continued to listen to my London radio station and discovered their second single, "Living for the Weekend" which I loved just as much as the first! It reminded me of the great city of London - their songs are very London-esque (if that makes sense at all), and most are upbeat, fun to dance around to. I bought the CD finally and there are a few slower songs on it, but they don't disappoint, even though the faster songs are the band's strong suite. The other songs on the CD aren't quite as good as the singles (except "Cash Machine"), but still pretty catchy. If you're looking for a fun band to listen to while getting ready for a night out or just something British because you're a total Anglophile (aka ME), then this is the record for you! Cheers!...more info
  • The Best British Release of 2005
    A good friend of mine turned me on to this band through the gushing NME review which led me to the folks at Pitchfork because I care what they say. The critics from Chi-town handed out a "slightly better than the Kaiser Chiefs" kind of response. A 7.3 with "sometimes these folks end up on the margins because they were marginal in the first place" which might lead you to believe that they were no better than Razorlight or The Bravery. So I bought the disc anyway. And...and, here it is...Pitchfork was waaaay off. NME was right. This is the best release from the UK since "Definitely Maybe," and "The Stone Roses" before that. Lyrically the Hard-Fi hang with "Everything Must Go" 'Street Preachers and sonically they roll with whomever will hop in their ride. Influences from punk, boom bip, dub, hip hop, jangly guitars, disco, and harmonic vocals all find a home in their DIY mix. If you must start somewhere besides the beginning I suggest you put it on shuffle and let it fly. This is the best British release in a year that includes M.I.A.'s "Arular," bloc party's "Silent Alarm," and Franz Ferdinand's "You Could Have It So Much Better." Get it and love it. ...more info
  • best debuet album since oasis 'definetly maybe'
    This is a strongly recommended album. hard-fi are going do be very, very big and succesful all the tracks stand out in their own way, but 'move on now' is one of my favourite tracks the piano in the background gives a very moving sound almost if richard archer (main singer) recorded this song late at night, the song is garanteed to give anyone chills. Another one of my favourites is 'middle eastern holiday' wich was the b-side to tied up to tight but also features on the album. if you got the album you would definetly see that this is a timeless classic. its the best debute album since 'definetly mabye' (by oasis) through alot of peoples eyes....more info
  • An old cynic writes.......
    It's been a very long time since someone recommended an album to me,I bought it and thought, "Wow, that's good!" and played it straight through two or three times. This is such an album from a band who recorded a bunch of their own self written tunes, and then had it picked up for release by a major label.There is much more to them than just front man Richard Archer, though he does have a charisma when you get to see them live. All the tracks have well thought out arrangements with subtle but sparse use of other instruments, some piano here, some brass on both "Unnecessary Trouble" and "Better do better" and some (believe it!) cornet on "Move on now". The songs reflect living in the outer London fringes in Mr. Blair's Britain (Staines, actually) with wry observations about life, relationships and not having much money. To have moved someone who nowadays listens mainly to jazz to install it in his CD changer as a fixture is astounding enough, but to then see them live at a venue near me ( The Eden Project) was enough to convince me to go and see them again this fall. They're in Japan in November, and threaten be in the US early next year. If you get the chance go and see and hear them, but as a start buy this and be in at the start of a word-of-mouth bigness. Oh yeah, and play it loud! Whatever next?...more info