Review by Tony Rounce
In the year-and-a-bit that the current line-up of Brighton duo ARXX has been together, Hannah Pidduck and Clara Townsend have forged a unit of two that plays with the impact of ten, and evolved from highly impressive to completely unassailable as a musical force. There are few bands out there to match them at the moment and – with apologies to all other groups whose work I admire – none to beat them.
Singer-guitarist Hannah has written several fine songs recently that have quickly and comfortably integrated into the ARXX setlist. They haven’t actually released any new music since their superb 2018 ‘Daughters Of Daughters’ EP, however, so any new recording activity is more than welcome. The current ARXX set closer ‘Iron Lung’ is the first of two brand new singles that the duo plans to unleash over the next few months. It’s one of Hannah’s strongest lyrical offerings to date, a song of relationship disintegration built on a monumentally tough stop-time funk-rock riff that will stay in your mind long after the song’s 3 minutes and 1 second are up. Slightly slower on record than it is when played live, but still full of the unbridled aggression that has quickly made it a new favourite among us ARXX devotees.
The singular use of the ‘F’ word may unfortunately work against it at radio, but all grown up people will recognise it as being a crucial part of Hannah’s by turns simmering and scalding performance. While her writing is often downbeat, her passionate, committed vocals are fully accessible and make hers one of the finest rock voices since Ann Wilson of the group Heart first came to prominence in the 70s. Of course ARXX is not a one-woman show, and drummer Clara is, for my money, the best kit basher out there today, bar none. There isn’t anyone better equipped to drive Hannah’s words and music. Any and every band would be thrilled to have Clara Townsend anchoring their sound.
There will be more ARXX gigs coming up soon, including The Engine Rooms in London on July 27th and a most welcome appearance at this September’s LOUD WOMEN Fest. If you have not seen Hannah and Clara before, theirs is a set you will not want to miss. And if you have – well, you won’t need me to tell you that, will you?
‘Iron Lung’ is available now, via all your favourite streaming sources.