“[No more smoke] is as dynamic, floor-friendly, and well-realised as we have come to expect.”
“4.5/5 Record Of The Month!”
“Witney band Black Hats are long term favourites round here for 3 main reasons – they are 3 great blokes, play great live shows and write great tunes. A simple recipe really (pay attention other bands). And once again they have produced a sublime collection of pop songs, full of outrageously addictive melodies, of the sort that require surgery to remove them from your ears. Musically interesting as always with ska, punk and mod influences mixed with cool electronica and some intelligent and fun lyrics this is chock full of sing-along choruses that are going to be absolutely immense live. Local Music doesn’t get much better than this.”
“Stalwart defenders of fuzzy punk pop with an ear for a rock solid riff and melodic hook”
“It’s no secret that I have enormous regard for this likeable, hard-working threesome. Long may The Black Hats continue to make us love what they do.”
“Punchy, atmospheric and able to throw amazing hooks, grooves and powerchordery (that is a word honest) in equal measure.”
“A perfectly produced cohesion of energetic vocals, upbeat drums, and reverb laden guitars.”
“The world really is a better place with this band in it.”
“Black Hats are moving from strength to strength.”
“Black Hats seemed to have confirmed their place among Oxford’s most promising new bands.”
“Tighter and punchier than ever - Nick Breakspear's intense vocals accompanied by furious guitar riffs, melodic interludes and a relentless beat rolling out balls of tense energy.”
“No-nonsense, brusque new wave-tinged pop punk, terrace chant-alongs composed by a lagered-up and lairy Futureheads.”
“...they pull off a powerful show, demonstrating that at the core of music, a good song will always win out.”
“...the kind of music that’s perfect for a sunny afternoon setting like this one; charming and perky songs that recall the Jam and which eschew the more annoying elements of poppy punk.”
“A tack-sharp collection of quintessentially 21st century alt-rock, drawing complimentary comparisons to Blood Red Shoes, Interpol and The Young Knives.”
“These Oxford power pop/ indie rockers combine all that is great about live music - oozing Mod-style swagger, with ferocious guitar riffs and edgy post punk energy.”
“This record does exactly what you’d expect from The Black Hats. It has noise and catchy riffs which some say is all you need in the world of Pop Punk and, it has to be said, these guys do it well.”
“In the year that everything is covered in the Union Jack, Black Hats fit in completely, flying the flag high for all that is good about British music.”
“The talent of this band is crystal clear; guitar riffs are sharp like razors and the choirs by Ian, Nick, and Mark highly infectious.”
“As far as singles go this is as perfect as it gets.”
“Catch them live now and witness a local band at the top of their game.”
“With the help of some great hooks, interesting Futureheads-inspired vocal interplay and a radio-friendly chorus Black Hats new single is a catchy solid feel-good indie record that you’ll be humming along to all afternoon.”
“Effortless beats and intricate bass grooves allow the guitar to weave high end riffs or drop out all together without there being a hole in the music.”
“Buckle up, lacquer down the hair and generally brace yourself. 7/10”
“There are only two types of person in the world. Those who believe that Black Hats are the next big thing and those who haven’t seen them play live... this is one band that are going to find themselves hot property as the year progresses.”
“Clever lyrics, addictive riffs and rhythms which drive harder than an ice road trucker.”
“If you like high energy pop/indie/punk, check these bad boys out.”
“If you like your rock with a tinge of pop, and a pogo not too far away from early Future Heads, Kick in the Doors will be right up your street. Accompanied by a music video of the band down the local, this is good shit from the young Oxford band.”
“Certainly ones to look out for.”
“From clarion call intro to atmospheric fade, this all attitude post punk/power pop debut single sets a hectic pace and makes a statement of intent from a guitar driven trio who are determined to be anything other than members of a lost generation.”
“Black Hats are creating a snowball effect gaining more fans minute by minute.”
“If the rest of the album is like this we are going to love it, and so are You. (Kick in The Doors single review)”
“All high energy swagger, big hooks and skittish rhythms – the sort of thing you’ve pogoed to a thousand times at an indie disco.”
“Kick in the Doors sets a hectic pace and makes a statement that is all post punk/power pop attitude and clarion call hooks and rhythms.”
“Black Hats are in the game for keeps.”
“...They are the real deal… highlight of the set easily being the forthcoming (…5 months away) single Kick In The Doors which was powerful “intellepunktual” and, to quote Prof. Brian Cox, just… amazing.”
“...their songs and intelligent musicianship elevates them to a higher level. Yes, they may be a bunch of amoral, discontented antisocial misfits – wearing ‘Two Ronnies’ glasses - but they are also talented, effervescent with energy and almost academic in their production.”
“Black Hats are a post punk powerhouse. They’re unremitting and unstoppable with ideas jumping out of their lyrics and lighting the synapses with more animation than Pixar.”
"...a slick new wave canter with an anthemic culture-yob chorus and the hint of some amphetamine ska lurking just below the surface."
"Coming at you like a Dr Peppers shot, with their post-punk, dub-beat ska-riff belting live show."
"In a city shrouded by a cloud of intelligentsia, math rock and deliberately innaccesible thinking man’s music it takes a smarter and braver band to break the mould and thrust post-punk shoutalong anthems more in the vein of Future of the Left or The Young Knives than Radiohead or Foals."
"This brilliant Oxford band mix up driving pop punk with wonderfully elegant, big chorus rock and spiky off-kilter modishness. Miss them at your peril."
"Packed with energy and full of post-punk goodness."
“They’re solid, supremely talented and capable of banging out no end of excellently-crafted songs. ”
“Black Hats are a three-piece prone to concise, uptight stabs of new wave-inflected mod-rock. ‘Just Fall’, was the stand-out number from their consistently excellent ‘Magnets’ EP released at the start of the year, a more spacious rock anthem, guitar shapes nabbed from U2’s ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’, bullish sky-touching melody filleted in part from Yourcodenameis:milo’s ‘Rapt.Dept’, three-part power harmonies carrying the whole thing aloft like a trophy of war."”
"Coming on like a traction engine driven by a cider-swigging speed-freak with a grudge, surely Black Hats are Oxford's next big thing."
"The band have clearly honed their sound over the past couple of years, and with ‘Tunnels’ it feels like they’re a band completely comfortable with their own abilities – nothing is overdone, but each part is impressive nonetheless. They swerve from Interpol-based hugeness to Blood Red Shoes style riffery without it sounding contrived – a massive feat."
"‘Tunnels’ - an alternately frenetic and self-contemplating mix of rock fury, squiggling electronics and big, bold spacious power-pop... ‘Blood & Space’ - bolshier, funkier, a pop song fuelled up for a fight, its mood edgy, always on the edge of going off on one."
"In true 'Hats style', both tracks display punk energy in spades, bags of melody, shouty bits (of course) and highly impressive production work." - Tunnels single review.
"Punchy, thrilling, dancy and urgent, Nick Breakspear, Ian Budd and Mark Franklin are exponents of high level musicianship - and throw out grin-laden tunes as if they were penny chews. A band who demand to be seen live, the represent everything that makes us love Oxford bands."
"Magnets is all spiky New Wave guitars, strident drums and hyper bass, running all around the notes like an army of red ants. It's edgy yet accessible, in true Hats flavour."
“Moddish urchins in the mould of The Jam and The Who, they’re strident enough to fit in at a punk party, but with songs like ‘Just Fall’ and ‘We Write Things Down’, they’re anthemic yob-savants of pop’s highest order.”
“They’ve produced an EP of such consistency and melodic strength, while retaining all that on-stage vigour … they may well be on course to be one of the most exciting bands around in 2010.”
“Consistently one of the most invigorating live bands in town over the last year.”
“‘Magnets’ is the sound of a band growing in confidence and ambition. This is grand, energetic and tune-filled rock, made by musicians who are supremely committed and are finding both their voice and their space.”
“The Hats’ current EP, Magnets, sees the band at their terse, disciplined best.”
“The Black Hats are dab hands at kicking out genuine indie anthem material that melded up-for-a-scrap meatiness with undiminished pop sensibilities”
“Yobbish artisans in the lineage of The Who, The Faces and The Jam, spiced up with a few shards of Young Knives.”
“Black Hats are perfect festival fodder – catchy tunes with big choruses delivered with a mix of passion and precision that most bands can only attempt. If the way their album was flying off the merch stand is any indication it could be a case of today Cornbury, tomorrow The World!!!”
"All hail the funky punks! Making a gloriously tuneful noise that is both accessible and Heavy Duty, they hone their Art further with every show."
"They seem poised to do great things over the next year or so, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving band."
"The vocal harmonies in particular are effortlessly magnificent while the lead guitar has that Britpop trick of threatening overblown soloing histrionics but always pulling back at the last minute, letting the song breathe and breathing more life into the song. Top stuff."
"Their frenetic power pop, full of flowing 60s melodies and Maximo Park-style spiky intent, is so tightly disciplined and irresistibly anthemic, it'd take some army to hold them back."
"It's a mystery to me why they're still unsigned, but on the other hand, they shouldn't leap into any local or small-scale deal until they've made the next step up, so that more people can appreciate them."
"The energy and frenetic pace of The Jam filtered through the off-kilter arrangement skills of the Young Knives. They’re a three-piece because they don’t need any other elements; it’s all in there – manic pop thrills with an undercurrent of noise. Top stuff."