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.

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.

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.

April 5, 2018

Sloppy Jane

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JamInTheVan gave me Ruth Lauren Ward two months ago. Like the gift that keeps on giving they now present me with Sloppy Jane. Firstly there is the completely over the top vocal performance. A few comparisons came to me as I watched it – certainly there is a bit of Alice Cooper in there with the theatricality and Iggy obviously with the crawling around. It may not be to everyone’s taste but I love it. Musically this is great with that detuned violin and brass in the background. These are no musical primitives. I haven’t found their other material to be so exciting but this track/performance is going to be one of the highlights of my musical year.

March 29, 2018

Lauren Ruth Ward

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I first saw Lauren Ruth Ward on Jam In The Van. She is quite simply the real deal. She has a traffic-stopping vibrato and writes songs that are completely honest and deeply felt. I think there is a Janis Joplin comparison in the way she feels what she is singing. But this is no throwback to the Sixties, no playing with image by dressing up in Psychedelic clothing and stealing music from the past. She is herself, a hairdresser from Baltimore who went to LA with to play music and shout out who she is.

She’s also an entertainer in that she has dance moves with songs where she isn’t playing guitar. Not just standing there and singing There’s a crotch grab when she sings ‘the border the bitch gets’ on Sideways that is so overtly sexual that JITV had to switch camera. Hard to take my eyes off her – and a nightmare at parties as the video shows.

March 22, 2018

Sorry Part II

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As mentioned two days ago, Sorry are putting out the Home Demo/ns Vol 2 and it arrived on YouTube today. Credit to whoever planned/directed the video because it is full of whimsical ideas and fun to watch. Musically this is playful but lyrically it is deadly serious.

I really can’t figure out where this band is coming from. What influences are coming out? Feel free to correct me but does anyone else produce work like this? I am a little bit awestruck at just how different this sounds to other music I hear. I think my first description of them as a guitar Indie band was just so wrong.

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