All posts by tonyrounce

IT’S LIVE – BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT…

Five gigs in eight days, as seen by TONY ROUNCE

I won’t lie to you.

I haven’t enjoyed this year.

I’m not much of a one for staying in when there’s live music to be seen, and endless months of watching highly commendable online gigs on my phone or iPad have not really satisfied my craving to be part of a crowd of like-minded individuals, standing in a small venue somewhere watching people on stage and enjoying what they are doing.  

A couple of ill-fated attempts to see gigs during the autumn notwithstanding – don’t get me started about Moles in Bath, a venue I will never set foot in again if I live to be a million – coming out of lockdown a couple of weeks ago brought a real opportunity to get ‘living for live’ back on track. I really have made the most of it, I can tell you… 

Eight recent days of frenzied live activity began with a first crosstown trip since February, and a visit to Hackney’s Oslo on December 3rd. The main bar/restaurant was closed but the music room upstairs was open for business and stringent anti-Covid measures were in place, with the venue operating at around 12.5% of its usual capacity and around 30 tables spread evenly across the floor. “It doesn’t really feel weird at all, though” was delightful Lauran Hibberd’s comment as the Isle Of Wight-er and her band steamed through a joyful 40 minute selection of her always-impressively fizzy poptastic tunes with a big smile on her face that told the full house ‘I’m here, and I’m having fun again’.  Lauran wasn’t the only one having fun, as Hibberd favourites like ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and ‘Frankie’s Girlfriend’ were received with an appropriate if slightly restricted audience enthusiasm (no singing along, no dancing…) LOUD WOMEN has been on Lauran’s case for a couple of years, and she remains one of the ‘most likely to succeed’ once the live music scene is fully back in business.  She played a great set, and we all had a good time…

Lauren Hubbard at Oslo

Back in Hackney two nights later, and literally just across the road from Oslo at one of LW’s favourite London venues, Paper Dress Vintage,  the now almost veteran quintet Oh! Gunquit were launching their brand new vinyl album “Why Haven’t You Watered The Plants” with two separate hour-long shows, both sold out (as indeed were all the shows over the 8-day period covered here). 

Fronted by the irrepressible force of nature that is Tina Swasey, O!G’s relentlessly exciting songs and stage presence falls somewhere between the B52s and X-Ray Spex. I did see them at a socially distanced, seated outdoor gig behind a pub in Abbey Wood back in September on one of the coldest days of the year, but the warmth and intimacy of PDV’s upstairs room was a much better prospect and it gave us diehard O!G fans an opportunity to hear the new album performed pretty much in its entirety, augmented with a few proven crowd pleasers for good measure. 

We don’t cover O!G much here, but I personally owe them a lot as it was a bill I saw them on, more than half a decade ago at Dalston’s Shacklewell Arms and with The Franklys as support, that provided me with my entry point into the DIY scene and opened my eyes and ears to the new Golden Age of gigs and bands that has been thrilling me ever since. If you’ve never seen them you owe it to yourself to do so at least once, if only to witness the spectacle of the unflappable Ms. Swasey playing the trumpet and hula hooping simultaneously through one three minute garage instrumental.

Oh! Gunquit at Paper Dress Vintage

Two great gigs in two days! Why, one could almost have been forgiven for thinking it was this time last year…

Pausing only to make a decision between a Sunday matinee at the New Cross Inn headlined by the manic musical overdrive of A VOID, and the online stream of Dream Nails’ ‘Feministmas’ show – Dream Nails won – the car and its driver were ready and willing to point themselves at Brixton and the Windmill on Tuesday night for one of the very best upcoming bands in the world.  Last December I had tipped Brighton quartet Lime to be one of 2020’s breakout bands, and it’s a tip that I would like to carry over with confidence to 2021.

The four young and extremely personable women were due to support Malady, but a last minute cancellation by the latter gave Lime to opportunity to play their first London headline gig. They did not let themselves or anyone else down and made the most of their 40-minute set, highlights of which included their compulsive opener ‘Simon Said’ and their 2021 single ‘Surf And Turf’. Never exactly shrinking violets, the band has grown hugely in confidence since I last saw them on a wet Tuesday night in February at a small venue near Hoxton, and once again delivered their jagged, spiky perfect pop in a manner that suggests my faith in their destiny to succeed is not misplaced.  The handful of people who returned their tickets after Malady pulled out missed a treat. The rest of us had plenty to savour…

Lime at The Windmill

..And it was back to Brixton and the Windmill for two gigs on Saturday – one matinee, one evening.  Brighton-by-way-of-Malta’s ĠENN were the afternoon’s headliners, and if you know me at all you will know that I am very fond of this band, both as musicians and as people.  Before their set, all four women confessed to me individually that they were nervous about appearing live for the first time in almost 11 months. The minute the music kicked in the self doubts disappeared – and a cheerfully aggressive set that blended old favourites such as ‘Let’s Go Suki’, ‘Damaged’ and ‘Duda Dance’ with recent single ‘23rd March’ and several other new songs written and rehearsed during the year more than proved that it was business as usual in ĠENN-land. They will be playing LOUD WOMEN Fest 5 in September 2021, so if you haven’t caught up with them by then you will be able to judge for yourself just how great they are. And that’s pretty great in my book.. 

ĠENN at The Windmill

The Windmill kicked us all out at 1700, and kicked us all back in again at 1900 for a triple bill headlined by South London/Manchester ‘power duo’ Scrounge, of whom more later. Another sell-out show, it was opened by a woman who looked like she had just stepped out of the cover of a 1960s French EP cover, and who sang with a compelling soulfulness that didn’t so much invite your attention as threaten to beat you up if you didn’t surrender it.

For about 20 minutes, Bradford’s Hannah Marsden performed her beguiling, ethereal songs and music to the accompaniment of backing tapes, but such was the magnetic power of her presentation that you would not have noticed the presence of a band if she had brought one. It takes some skill for a solo artist to make one feel that they are singing just for one person – in this case, me – but Ms. Marsden was absolutely riveting. I looked for her after her set because I wanted her to know just how profoundly her music had affected me, but she was nowhere to be found and it almost felt like she had materialised out of nowhere to perform, and dematerialised as soon as it was over…

Hannah Marsden

The opportunity to see A VOID was not missed this week. The French-English power trio took no prisoners as singer-guitarist Camille Alexander and her cohorts Aaron Hartman on bass and Darryl Hannah lookalike Marie Niemec on drums steamrollered their way through a grunge groove’d 45 minutes that drew heavily on their recommended “Awkward And Devastated” 2018 album and climaxed with its best (well, my favourite) track ‘She Threw Her Baby From The 7th Floor’.  Ms. Alexander is as formidable a frontsperson as any band could wish to have, and her livewire jumping, crouching and dropping to her knees during each number more than ramped up the energy level after the quiet and perfect storm of Hannah Marsden…

A Void

Last band of the night was the aforementioned Scrounge (or ‘Scroonge’ as they will now forever be known, following Ms. Alexander’s endearingly Gallic mispronunciation of their name at the end of A VOID’s set…).  I’ve been a fan of Lucy (vocals & guitar) and Luke (drums and vocals!) ever since I caught them early in their career at the Finsbury a couple of years ago. The ferocity of their music, particularly when played live, is totally at odds with the sheer niceness of the duo as people.  Loud, urgent and at times quite scary, it has so far come over better on stage, where its adrenaline-fuelled rawness seems less confined on songs like ‘Purpose’, ‘Etch’ and particularly ‘Badoom’, an almost unfollowable set-ender and night-ender for that matter.

There may only be two members of Scrounge, but they play with enough volume and energy for ten.  Having also told me beforehand that they, too, were nervous about playing live again, they powered through as though it was something they had been doing every week during 2020. It’s my hope that they – and indeed, everyone I have seen during the past fortnight – will get plenty of chances to do so once we are all jabbed up and ready to resume something resembling ‘normal services’…

Scrounge

I know we still have a long way to go before ‘the good old days’ return, but the success of these events, and anticipation of others that are slowly rolling out as 2020 draws to a close, prove that a socially distanced live scene is viable for now. If Father Christmas doesn’t bring me anything else whatsoever, the eight days and five events of early December have been the best gift I feel I could have received this year…

Keep watching Facebook/Instagram etc. for further news of live activity by all of the above.

All rubbish photos by T. Rounce…

The Twistettes: Live At Capture Works – album review

Review by Tony Rounce

Two is still the new four…

There are a number of excellent ‘duo bands’ around right now, most of whom employ a guitar/drums line up. What sets Scotland’s Twistettes apart from their two-person peers is that they are essentially a rhythm section, with Nicky D’Arc thrashing away on the drums like her life depends on it and her sister Jo playing her grumbling, menacing bass as a lead instrument at the kind of torturous volume that might even impress Spinal Tap, and that will make your speakers spin across your room if they are not sufficiently weighted down.

The big, grimy audio landscape of their adrenaline-fuelled, feedbackalicious accompaniment is the perfect foundation for the duo’s aggressive and angry sounding vocals to build on.  Hailing as they do from Lady Sturgeon’s manor, Jo and Nicky sing with their native brogue.  It’s not the first time anyone has done this, of course. But you can believe me when I tell you that they are a darn sight more animated – and interesting – when they do so than the Proclaimers could ever be.

If you caught their act at either of their previous appearances at LOUD WOMEN all-dayers, you will already have a fair idea of what to expect from a live Twistettes album – and “Live At Capture Works” will not confound your expectations.  Recorded during lockdown while live streaming from Glasgow’s Capture Works, it’s raw and technically unpolished, but it does get right to the heart of what the Twistettes are about, and what they sound like.

The flat, ambient balance of the audio puts you in the room with the two women and provides an exhilaratingly vivid slash of sound, buzzy and hissy and angry but most of all 100% exciting. The repertoire is mostly drawn from the duo’s two previous, highly recommended albums “A Strange Play” and “Jilt The Jive” and although there isn’t space here to detail the individual strengths of the songs there’s one new one called “Tory Cunts” – a ginormous aggressive terrace chant with a lyric that we can all get behind and enjoy singing along with, wherever we are.

Eleven songs performed with gusto and – the relative calm of the hypnotic, almost funky opener ‘On The Table’ notwithstanding – full frontal attack, none of them going much over two minutes, and all of them with something to say that needs to be heard more than once.  It’s not easy listening but, let’s face it, the best records seldom are!  ‘”Live At Capture Works” is available physically and digitally on Bandcamp. Check it out, you won’t be sorry you did.

Like all of us, the Twistettes aren’t doing much at the moment, but I’m sure they would love you to give them a follow on Facebook or Instagram until such times as they are gigging again.

Nervous Twitch: Tongue Tied – single of the month

Review by Tony Rounce

You won’t need me to tell you that it’s been a tough year for all musicians, and it’s a miracle that any music has been created at all, given the circumstances. It must be particularly tough for those singers and bands who are waiting to debut new albums but who prefer to wait till they can tour them. Such is the case with LW favourites Nervous Twitch, who completed a new album nearly 10 months ago and who have been waiting patiently to unleash it ever since.

Now under the umbrella of Reckless Yes records, the affable Leeds-based trio have thrown caution to the wind and decided to drop their second new single of 2020 on Friday the 13th.  After the slight surprise of employing synthesisers on the first one  ‘Keeping Faith In Something’, the trio is back on more familiar ground with the guitar driven ‘Tongue Tied’.  One of the first songs the band completed for what will now be their 2021 album on Reckless Yes, it has already been ‘road tested’ in the band’s past few gigs before lockdown to highly favourable response – so it’s fair to assume that they are onto a winner here.

‘Tongue Tied’ is indeed classic Twitch, its introspective verses married to a huge sing-along chorus to make perfect 21st century music that both looks over its shoulder at the trio’s musical influences, and forward to a time when we can all get out and jump around gleefully to our old and new favourite bands again.  Full of personality in real life, singer/bassist Erin Van Rumble is cast in the song as a shrinking violet who “ always find(s) the music comes much easier than words’, her plaintive vocals pushed along as always by Jay Churchley’s unfussy guitar and Ashley Goodall’s rock solid drumming. A song you can and will sing along with, and a proper pop record from a proper pop group. Who could ask for more than that? Its two and a half minutes are over all too quickly, and you will want to play it again while you enjoy the fab graphic video…

The two songs that we’ve been granted access to so far suggest that the album is on course to be their best yet.   Word from within Twitch HQ is that it will be out literally as soon as they are able to tour to support it.  I, for one can’t wait for that to happen. And if they have to release a few more singles as good as this one in the meantime, you’ll get no complaints from me…

‘Tongue Tied’ is available to stream and download from November 13th on all the usual audio platforms (Bandcamp, Spotify etc.)

You can follow Nervous Twitch on Facebook and Instagram – and you should! 

Girl Friday: Androgynous Mary – album review

Review by Tony Rounce

And still those great new records come.

This one’s come all the way from the City Of Angels, and the journey from there to wherever you are has been more than merely worthwhile. Girl Friday might not be completely new to you, but they will be for most. The 10 songs that make up their most excellent debut LP will ensure that’s not going to be the case for much longer.

Having previously put out two EPs since the end of 2017 – the first with a line up that features only two members of the current one, group founders Libby Hsieh and Vera Ellen – the quartet has now expanded its extended play activities to a debut full length LP. It’s not exactly arriving hot on the heels June 2019’s ‘’Fashion Conman’, but good things always come to those who wait, and you may be assured that “Androgynous Mary” is well worth waiting for. The present line up of GF was only a matter of months old when they recorded ‘Fashion Conman’, and it’s very easy to hear, right from the off, that they have made great strides as a cohesive unit in the 14 months they have been together.

The four tracks you can currently listen to on Bandcamp provide a good cross section of what can soon be heard across the album’s ten selections. Their press release describes GF’s songs as “ferocious and knotty” and that does actually sum them up somewhat succinctly.   To illustrate, the dreamy, low key ‘knotty’ shimmer of ‘This Is Not The Indie Rock I Signed Up For’ (one of THE great titles of 2020!) and the ‘ferocious’, punch-the-air anthemic rocker ‘Earthquake’ are two sides of a highly desirable coin and between them they give an instant impression of what else to expect across the other eight tracks.  GF are strong on melody and also on clear harmonies, their lyrics sometimes obtuse but counterpointed by the strength of the musicianship in Hsieh and Ellen’s full-blooded guitar and bass respectively. 

The big sonic soundscapes offered by the production give the group plenty of space across which to express their words. Echoey, jangly guitars mesh with a solid bed of bass that anchors well with Virginia Pettis’ simple, strident drumming and second guitarist Sierra Scott’s melodically-on-point extra strumming.  Being from the West Coast, the temptation to compare with their spiritual ancestors the Go Go’s and the Bangles is hard to resist, but even if their music follows a different path they are most certainly spiritually linked.

These ears can hear (some doubtless completely coincidental) similarities to the very early Cure, in the way that the bass and drums drive the music almost as much as the guitars do. If you want a more contemporary comparison, the wonderful (and much missed) Suggested Friends offer a similar blend of melody, harmony and musical power. That’s not to say that Girl Friday are anyone’s soundalikes, but as reference points go that’s not a bad quartet of ‘if you like those, you’ll like these’ names to drop.

“Androgynous Mary” is a highly accomplished album that has already earmarked itself as a likely contender for next year’s Hercury Prize (it’s arrived just too late for consideration for this year’s…).  Its ten songs amount to almost a year’s worth of activity on the part of a band that, by its own admission, have “been through a lot together and have come through it by sticking together and loving each other regardless” according to Ellen.  The songs may mostly be personal and introspective for the group, but they are all extremely accessible for those of us who do not have intimate access to Girl Friday’s personal world. ‘Rouncey’s recommendation’ doesn’t come much higher than it does here.

Androgynous Mary is out today on Hardly Art records in all formats, to be followed by live shows as soon as we can all go out and enjoy them again.

You can follow Girl Friday musically on Bandcamp and on Facebook

HEX POSEUR: QUIET – Physical 45 of the Week

Review by Tony Rounce

Last time I reviewed something for LOUD WOMEN, I commented on how pleasing it was to see singers and bands still putting out physical product at a time when outlets for selling their wares are minimal at best.  To those I name-checked then [the lovely Bugeye – Ed] I would now also like to add Leicester’s Harri Bettsworth, who chooses to pursue a musical career as Hex Poseur, and the rather splendid vinyl 45 ‘Quiet’ that has just put itself into pole position for this week’s actual real-life single of the week.

Those of you who know your Bandcamp will know that ‘Quiet’ and its vinyl coupling ‘Overdrive’ were released digitally a few weeks back as “Keep It Quiet Vol. 1”, alongside a “Vol. 2” that remains download only at the moment (but not forever, one hopes).

‘Quiet’ is rightly the topside of the physical 45, its condemnation of archaic – but sadly not yet extinct – negative and, sadly, mostly male attitudes (“Look Pretty And Be Quiet”) being the central theme of its quietly presented verses, each of which builds in an increasingly angry manner towards a hulking great chainsaw guitar-powered, recurring chorus that rams the important message of the verses home in no small way, just in case you hadn’t gotten with the program by the time it arrives.

On the other side, ‘Overdrive’ is pure punk thrash of the highest order, and so punky in fact that you may wonder why Hex Poseur omitted an opening ‘1-2-3-4’ – angry, no-holds-barred, full throttle stuff that is so intense that Bettsworth and the other musicians have to take their collective foot of the gas pedal half way through to allow us (and them) to catch their breath.  Easy listening it’s not – easy to listen to it is.  The song’s message is slightly lost amid the barrage of sound, but there is no missing or overlooking the underlying rage in Bettsworth’s melodic ranting here.

The 45’s accompanying press release offers comparisons to Elastica and Slaves that are not misplaced. To those I would like to add the Cranberries and 4 Non-Blondes, not so much for the voices as for the execution of the repertoire.

All things considered Hex Poseur’s debut 45 is a very strong statement of musical intent, and one that bodes very well for what might be coming up next.  I’ve added Bettsworth (and chums) to the ‘priority’ portion of my ever-lengthening list of musicians I want to investigate further, should any of us ever find ourselves in a position to see anybody live again. I have a feeling that the substantial appeal of ‘Quiet’ may inspire others among us to do likewise.

‘Quiet’ is out now physically on Punk Fox Records, and is available both to buy and/or download from Hex Poseur’s Bandcamp page.  

Follow Hex Poseur on facebook instagram

Bugeye: Ready Steady Bang – album review

Album reviewed by Tony Rounce

Lockdown has not been great on the whole, has it?  No gigs, no going out – and I would imagine for some (myself included), little to no impetus to create.

Not for everyone, however. Thankfully the show HAS gone on after a fashion, with many wonderful live living room, bedroom and balcony events, and an encouraging number of excellent new streamable efforts by old and new favourites.

My own virtual hat and, indeed, my own virtual whole head is off to any bands who have managed to release actual physical product in these extraordinary times. It’s been truly wonderful to have a lockdown ennui interrupted by the semi-regular arrival of flat brown mailers containing great albums and EPs by the likes of the Smalltown Tigers, Charmpit, DOLLS, Grace Savage – and the London quartet whose long playing debut is the subject of what you, and they, are about to find out is a decidedly enthusiastic review.

The four women of Bugeye started writing and recording ‘Ready Steady Bang’ about this time last year, and the involvement of the good people at Reckless Yes Records means that it’s now available for purchase as you read this. (It’s actually Bugeye’s second release of 2020, following the four-track ‘Is This Love’ EP that came out just as lockdown was becoming inevitable, and the band is to be commended for only repeating one track from that here).  The highly limited vinyl version sold out right away, but that shouldn’t stop you from investing in a compact disc that you’ll find yourself playing with a frequency that may border on obsessive.  Speaking for myself I’ve hardly taken this one off the turntable since it arrived – and when I have, it’s mostly been to turn it over.

Bugeye describe themselves as ‘a cross between Blondie and the Pixies’ and perhaps that ‘cross’ falls slightly closer to the former than the latter.  It’s the Blondie of the ‘Atomic’ era that ‘Ready Steady Bang’ aligns most directly with. You’ll make that connection as soon as you hear Kerrie Smith’s powerful, hi-hatted drums start slurping relentlessly through the first couple of tracks, anchored by Paula Snow’s burbling disco bass and topped by the Dr. Phibes-style synth keyboard work of Grace Healy. I hope singer/guitarist Angela Martin won’t be offended if I say that her animated, passionate squeal brings to mind dear Clare Grogan, as she sounded in the days after Altered Images decided that they might sell more records if they sounded more like the new Blondie than the old Banshees.  Collectively the quartet of Bugeyes make a lot of joyful, unashamedly 1980s-style noise, on a 2020 record that bodes extremely well for their future. The tracks you can hear right now on Bandcamp offer a good cross section of Bugeye’s overall oeuvre, and will give you a good idea of what to expect from those you can’t. ‘Blue Fire’ comes after an initial run of urgent sounding, fast-paced floor fillers and injects a modicum of punchy funk into the musical proceedings, while emphasising the pithy lyricism that prevails throughout.  ‘When The Lights Go Out’ brings us back to Bugeye’s own brand of provocative post-patriarchy disco, and is a good taster for the rest of side one.

The second side is marginally less fast paced overall, but once again crammed with good songs that are occasionally one hook short of anthemic here and there but not to be criticised for being so. Having said that, ‘Electric’ has a real SingaLongaStadium-style chorus, with a whole bunch of ‘hey’s to pump your virtual fist to. It’s not on Bandcamp but ‘Sunday Monday’ is another out and out winner, with lyrics that won’t fail to resonate with anyone who has ever had to commute for more than the occasional day. There isn’t space to rave about everything here, but trust me when I tell you there’s not one track that’s going to make you reach for the fast forward button. Being on the short side, the album never wears out its welcome and gives you the impetus to sneak in a further cheeky listen of the whole thing when it’s done, rather than watching yet more of those endless re-runs of ‘Tenable’ and ‘Tipping Point’…

I hope we all get the chance to go out and see Bugeye perform their most excellent long-playing record soon. But until we can, this is the best sort of ‘make do’ anyone could wish for.

‘Ready Steady Bang’ is out now on Reckless Yes Records and also available on CD via Bandcamp.  No imminent gigs, obviously – but please do feel free to follow Bugeye on Facebook, Instagram and their website.

LIME: SURF ‘N’ TURF – SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Review by Tony Rounce

On May 20 2019 I saw Lime for the first time, in a tiny room above a not much bigger pub in Brighton, at the recommendation of my pal Hannah of ARXX. “Do not miss them, you will like them a lot” was Hannah’s directive. She was not wrong either.  Just as I had with ARXX, I began an immediate audio love affair with Lime, and put them on my ‘Must See Whenever Possible’ list right away.

Over the past 9 months I have seen almost all of Lime’s gigs. Sadly there haven’t been as many as I would have liked, but that will surely change with the release today of  ‘Surf ‘n’ Turf’, as dynamic a track as you’ll hear anywhere, and from anyone, this year.

If you like ARXX and other bands that operate in a similar musical environment, such as Genn and underrated Reading duo Wolfs, you will like Lime – I guarantee that.  Fronted vocally by the tall and charming Chloe Howard (who sounds a little but not too much like a gutsier version of Altered Images’ Claire Grogan), powered by the impressive, robust guitar work of Leila Deeley and solidly anchored by a tough rhythm team in Tippi Morgan on bass and drummer Annabel Whittle, they are a young band both in age and in existence, forming barely 18 months ago.

At the start of 2019 Lime released their first, digital-only single  ‘Welcome To The New World Order’. The ethereal, slightly shoegaze-y elements of that debut have been supplanted by something with so much more power that  ‘Surf ‘n’ Turf’ barely sounds like the work of the same group.  A glorious headlong rush into full-on sonic satisfaction, hard, fast and full of confidence, it’s been Lime’s set closer in recent times – and rightly so. Not that they don’t have other great songs – they have loads – but the relentless up-tempo drive of this one makes it a tough act to follow ‘live’. Dollars to doughnuts the studio version will leave you wanting more, too. Hopefully there will not be too long to wait before there IS more.

I truly believe Lime are on course to be THE breakout act for 2020.  Here you have the evidence to support my beliefs.  Buy it now, play it often and check them out while they’re still playing smaller rooms; it surely won’t be long before bigger venues beckon…

‘Surf ‘n’ Turf’ is released digitally on today and on vinyl shortly thereafter. Lime are playing a sold out show at Brighton’s Rossi Bar the previous night to officially launch it. They will also be playing The Carlisle in Hastings on February 23rd as part of BBC Introducing’s ‘Under The Radar’ all-dayer, with more gigs lined up for March in Brighton and London.  Follow Lime on Facebook for further news!

BOYS OF THE HOLE: E.P. REVIEW

Review by Tony Rounce

The DIY scene continues to grow at grass roots level, and each week brings impressive new bands aiming to convince you that you need to add their gigs to your Facebook events calendar.  This week it’s the turn of South London’s Boys Of The Hole to bring you a debut EP that will hopefully put them on your ‘to see’ list. Once you’ve heard it, there’s a better than good chance that it will.

If you’ve seen the delightful Bitch Hunt, Boys Of The Hole is a slightly more boisterous version thereof  – which, given that the two groups share certain members, is not too surprising. The Boys themselves say that their sound is “sometimes delicate and pretty, but mostly rowdy and fun, and they write about messy sexual experiences, Internet dating, pizza, crisps, and feelings”. Not all in the same song, of course. But they are all topics that are covered during the course of their frequently rowdy, largely fun debut E.P., released digitally at the end of January with the promise of the possibility of a limited run of a physical CD on the horizon – and hopefully coming closer by the day.

The Boys also say that their music will appeal to fans of the Breeders, Cherry Glazerr and the Pixies. I can only agree, as I like all of those artists and I like Boys Of The Hole too. There’s an agreeably abrasive quality to their songs that they share with the latter in particular, particularly in the no-punches-pulled lyrics of some of the songs – emphatically to the point at one end of the scale, where you’ll find the ‘Messy Bitch’ who ‘fell asleep in your vegan kebab’ and ‘got a chocolate egg stuck’ somewhere that probably shouldn’t be discussed in a public forum. They sound like they might be the friend from hell, but you might also wish you had the chutzpah to be them.

At the other end of the scale, ‘Flavour’ is the Boys’ playful homage to what our American cousins like to call Potato Chips. It lists all my favourite flavours and hopefully some of yours, too. Somewhere in between lies ‘Ll( a sensitive declaration of romantic rebound that says ‘I got your ‘Feelings’ right here’.  All five of the songs tell their own individual stories in a way that will not be lost on any listener, even though the balance of the audio is sometimes a little on the murky side and made it hard to hear them in places.

This though is the true sound of the DIY scene – low in fidelity, but high in aims and ambitions that are frequently firmly fulfilled across the five tracks on offer. As noted already, the mix is a bit wayward in places, but the creative process is sincere, honest and faultless. Not everything needs to sound like it came out of Abbey Road Studios and, let’s face it, most of the best music rarely does. Everything here points to a positive future, with lots more rowdiness and fun and possibly even Pickled Onion and Sour Cream & Chive crisps to add to the Boys’ flavours. A very fine debut, on the Hole…

Boys Of The Hole (the E.P.) is out now digitally, and can be streamed and/or bought via Bandcamp.  Boys Of The Hole (the band) are playing Not Your Galentines Day at South London’s Amersham Arms (near Deptford) on February 14th. You can follow them on Instagram

Eilis Frawley: Never Too Emotional – EP review

Review by Tony Rounce

As the self-appointed President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Anything To Do With Party Fears Fan Club, I received the recent news that the duo’s powerful percussionist Eilis Frawley and singer/frontsperson Maggie Devlin were going their separate ways with extreme dismay.  However, one happy bi-product of Eilis’ amicable departure means that we will all have twice as much interesting music to look forward to in the future – and ‘interesting’ is a perfectly understated word with which to describe Eilis’ debut EP ‘Never Too Emotional’, from which the dubby, claustrophobic and ever-so-slightly sinister (in a good way, if there is one!) ‘leave the house’ is the newest ‘single’…

Actually it’s much more than merely interesting, to be honest. It’s normally good to be able to offer some comparisons to existing music for reader reference, but you won’t have heard a lot like this before, however much music you’ve heard so far and however long you’ve been listening. The best I can offer you is a collation of 60s beat poetry and Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, but even that isn’t really or nearly accurate.

Photo by Daniel Purvis

The combination of raw synth topped, voluminously percussive soundscapes and laconic, semi-philosophical spoken word – not rapping, exactly, more meaningful discourse – is out of the ordinary, and it does takes a bit of getting used to at first. However, once you lock into what Eilis is doing here, it’s hard not to be impressed with the outcome.  What that is cannot easily conveyed in print, so please do click on the link and see if you don’t agree that I am right.

Eilis has been releasing songs from this project on her Bandcamp page over the past few months, each new issue helping to build a big picture of what she’s aiming to do with her solo project.  Her label’s press release says that the EP  “touches on topics of social structures, feminism, mental health, creative insecurities, personal tragedies, and the psychological impacts of living abroad” (in case you didn’t know, Eilis is Australian and I believe she is still based in Berlin) and indeed it does, both acutely and obtusely. Now it can be heard as a whole thing, its potency has never been more apparent.   If it doesn’t hit you round the ears with immediate effect, please do persevere – you WILL connect with it, and vice versa, in good time. Both refreshing and provocative by turn, it brings something new and interesting to the table, and I’m sure you will thank me later for insisting that you do so. 

As well as creating these invigorating musical episodes, Eilis has also been playing her own solo shows in the UK and elsewhere recently and is due for more of the same soon. I for one am intrigued as to how this will all translate to a live medium, so I can hardly wait….

 “Never Too Emotional” is out now on Reckless Yes records and can be found on most if not all of your favourite streaming services.

Follow Eilis on Facebook for further updates!

Main photo by Kate Seabrook 

A WOMAN OF MANY BANDS: Jade Ellins in conversation

Interview by Tony Rounce, photos by Keira-Anee and  Neil Anderson

It may have been all quiet on the DOLLS front of late, but Jade Ellins has not been resting on her laurels.  Currently in two active bands, the duo’s charming, affable front woman took time out from her ever-busy schedule to tell our Tony all about herself, and to bring LW up to date with what she’s been up to recently…

I suppose the first question that everyone would like an answer to (myself included!) is what’s become of DOLLS?

Well it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster as Bel had to go back to Spain last year. However, we will be releasing our 2nd EP this year, hopefully in the spring. We recorded it with Margo Broom producing, and it’ll be coming out with the same team who released Pop The Bubble – I can’t wait! I’ve been writing too, and working really hard on new songs that I think are really strong and I’m so excited for people to hear them!

You’re still in two top notch bands that we know about, in Abjects and Big Sea Creature. Obviously BSC is an outgrowth of the late, lamented Long Teeth, but how did the hook up with Abjects come about?

I got a message from Kelly Chard of We Can Do It, saying that Abjects were looking for a bassist and would I be up for a jam – so I said yes! Then Noemi (Abjects) got in touch, we had a jam and that was it! I enjoy playing with the girls so much, and think their songs are fantastic!

How does being a part of a bigger band (as you are with BSC and Abjects) differ from being its lone frontsperson for you?

I generally feel a lot more relaxed at gigs if I’m not fronting, and I love supporting front people and getting to watch them on stage. I feel like when you front a band you give all your energy to the audience and it feels very personal, almost like a form of therapy. There is nothing quite like that feeling. With fronting though you feel the highs and lows of performing a lot more. I love doing a mix of both, as they are very different experiences.

What and who inspired you to aspire to a career as a musician originally?  Were your family musical/supportive/influential, for example? Did you see someone on TV and think ‘I Want To Be Them?’

Both my parents are musicians, so I was always encouraged to be musical from a young age. I started piano when I was 4 and could also hold a tune, so luckily I got my parents musical genes. I feel so fortunate that I get to earn a living out of music, as well as be creative and write my own music. Thanks Mum and Dad for pushing me to practice when really I just wanted to play Barbies all day!

Your favourite and most influential singles/albums are?

  1. Made in Japan – Deep Purple
  2. To bring you my love – PJ Harvey
  3. Push the sky away – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

And your favourite five most influential artists?

  1. Nick Cave
  2. PJ Harvey
  3. Bikini Kill
  4. Mitski
  5. Talking heads

First record you bought? And the most recent one?

First record I think was ABBA Gold and honestly I mainly listen to music on Spotify now. My partner Sam loves listening to records so I listen with him, lately we have been listening to ‘Be the cowboy’ by Mitski which I have been loving!

First band you saw? And your most recent one (that you’re not a member of, obviously…)

My first band was Bjorn Again, I loved ABBA when I was 6 (and still do!) and recently I saw Mango at their single launch, which was ace!

And your most memorable gig to date with any band you’ve been a member of?

Long Teeth’s final gig was a really wonderful evening for us, I honestly felt like I had to prepare emotionally for that gig for about two months. When I was there I was like right let’s do this! It brought me such happiness to be able to play those songs for people again and to remember our lovely Al. I also loved the DOLLS EP launch at Rough Trade. It was a Monday night at 6pm, and I thought ‘Oh it will be a small crowd’. I could’ve cried when I came on stage and saw it so full! (TR – having been present at the show I can happily confirm this to be true…)

You play guitar with DOLLS and bass in every other band I’ve seen you with. Which is your preference, and which came most naturally to you in the first place?

I started guitar lessons when I was five so I have been playing guitar for a really long time now. I started on double bass (I know I’m 5 ft 2 and I only got to play a half-size) then naturally moved onto bass guitar. I guess guitar will always be my first calling, but I love the discipline of bass and crafting functional parts. I also seem to get asked to play bass in bands way more than I do guitar. Bassists always seem to be the ones that are in demand.

As a songwriter, what part of writing comes easiest to you, lyrics or melody?  And how much input do you have to the creative input of a band like BSC, where you are not the main or sole songwriter?

I find coming up with the guitar riffs/chords the easiest. I write lyrics with Sam, and he always helps me come up with melodies. With bands like BSC and Long Teeth, Sam writes the core of most songs and we add to it. Sometimes I might heavily influence a song with a bass line but I’m also happy to support Sam’s ideas.

You’ve already played for and with some notable names outside of what we think of as the DIY music scene. Is there anyone special on your wish list that you’d like to add to your CV?

I would like to support Nick Cave and the Pixies, please!

Has there ever been a time in your life when you have considered an alternate career path?

Yes! Being a musician is tough and not always the most stable of careers. But it’s the only thing I really love doing so I keep on going.

What do you do when you’re not being Jade the professional musician (assuming you have time to do anything else…)

I watch a lot of films and TV, if I’m honest. Characters I see in shows inspire a lot of my songs. I also make an effort to be social, as I feel like when you are writing and working from home you can become bit of a hermit and slowly become more and more uninspired.

Do you think it’s getting any easier for women in music, now that there are more bands out there comprised predominantly and/or exclusively of women/womxn?  Both at the DIY level and in general?

I think at a DIY level definitely. There are so many female fronted nights in the UK, which I think is brilliant. I think at a professional/mainstream level it has definitely got better, but there is still some work to do. I can think of some incredible female singers, but when it comes to instrumentalists I can struggle. I find there are very few female guitarists I can show my young female students for inspiration. I’m hoping this will change soon.

Any closing advice for those who aspire to the life of a singer/writer/musician?

I think my main thing is don’t become too complacent. It’s very easy to get a tiny bit of success and think ‘woo I made it!’  and then become big headed and very quickly realise the success isn’t growing as quickly as you think. Being hard-working and polite is also so important!