Alternative music reviews

May 21, 2019

Angie McMahon

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Angie McMahon won a new artist award at Sxsw this year. She has only 5 songs on Spotify but I have 3 of them marked as favourites. Most artists just get 1 like. I find her voice unbelievable. On this track she even reminds me of Joan Armatrading which is a huge compliment and yet she is also writing songs that appeal to my Indie sentiment. She is playing a 30 minute set in Manchester on Friday at the Dot to Dot festival.

May 20, 2019

Flower Face

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Flower Face is a Canadian singer who had an album Baby Teeth out last year. I favourited a couple of tracks and keep on returning to them. Above is the lyrics video to April To Death. What I love is the contrast between her sweet voice, the jaunty pace, and the darkness in the lyrics. The other track I mentioned is Tell Me When It Hurts and yes, it is very suitable for masochists.

December 1, 2018

Itchy Kitty

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The follow up to Itchy Kitty’s album Careless Whiskers (he he) has just come out. Year OF The Slut above is from the earlier album. The new is called Mr Universe is mostly the full speed punk they excel at. But there is one track that is slower called Year Of The Goth. It’s a version of the song above but done like it was Bauhaus covering it. It’s just perfect.

October 7, 2018

Bethlehem Steel

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I watched this session live on Youtube as I have a liking for their Party Naked Forever album. It was enjoyable. I wasn’t sure about some of the vocals that were low in the mix and maybe some monitoring problems but the guitars were playing beautifully. I was already classing this as a very good session but hadn’t yet elevated them into my favourite bands.

And then this happened. The singer puts the guitar down. A bass line worthy of Joy Division starts. You witness a Shamanistic ritual. Look into her eyes and she’s not there in the studio. She’s in a different place and a different time and she means it. I’ll be very shocked if I get to see anything quite as impassioned and inspiring as this.

September 30, 2018

Skating Polly, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, 16 September 2018

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I got to see Skating Polly last week which was a real treat. I was aware of them before but the moment I heard Camelot earlier this year I became a fan. The energy and power in that song is breathtaking. I have gone on to love the latest album, The Make It All Show. Live they were magnificent, edgier and harder than their recordings and so comfortable playing as a band. I guess being together for 9 years, with five albums released I should expect that. What surprises me is that they are getting better and taking their music to new levels as normally I leave bands as they begin to repeat themselves or change and move away from what I liked about them.

I liked the venue, The Hare & Hounds a lot. It is small but there was air conditioning which is a luxury compared to what I am used to. My only disappointment was the audience was a bit subdued. There wasn’t the critical number of people to shout and clap for an encore. Maybe it was because it was a Sunday night but I worry that maybe Birmingham audiences are a bit quiet?

SO, a great night. I introduced my eldest son to the small venue Alternative gig. He went off to Uni in London the following weekend with optimism, confidence, and a signed copy of a Skating Polly album on vinyl. I can do no more as a Dad.

June 26, 2018

The Coathangers

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I have listened a few times to the Coathangers this year. I had them down in my ‘Okay’ category – in my area of interest but don’t quite work for me. So when a new album came out I gave it a listen. This is their fifth album and is called LIVE and is, you guessed it a Live album. It feels so different from their earlier albums where these songs first appeared and is a revelation to me. This is the way these songs always should be heard. The sparseness of the sound, the lack of production, and the energy of the live performance (see above as this is the actual album in video form) is just perfect. I think it helped that the first two tracks I heard had the drummer singing – her harsh voice is really exciting.

June 12, 2018

Hell On by Neko Case

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I’ve been listening to the new album from Neko Case. I have always liked Neko Case for her glorious voice and the soaring melodies that she creates, particularly in thee early albums. I didn’t think of her lyric writing as a stand out feature. On the opening track she sets the tone with a dazzling set of metaphors and similes.

My voice is not the liquid waves the perfect rings round a heron’s legs…
My voice is a fracture of a shin bone’s lust

It’s time to re-acquaint myself with her music.

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