The magazine - news, reviews and interviews

Latest in the magazine

Alas it's been over a year since I was able to review an Ivy Ash release ("Stop, Rewind"), although thankfully I have caught her live a couple of times in the meantime.

Now I get to do it again as "Permission" comes out 28th June  & you can pre-save it via this link here:

https://ffm.to/ivyash-permission

It's a collaboration with USA producer Collin Derrick which makes a lot of sense: not only in her constant striving to move her music forwards but also because her songs have always been universal & global in style: eschewing parochialism and aiming for hearts everywhere.

The message is clear & consistent with her previous work: "be unapologetically you & if people think you're "too much" - well, that's their loss…. a vibrant electro-pop track that empowers you to break free from societal norms, embrace your insecurities, and own your story."

This applies to us all but nevertheless, Ivy has a particular affinity for the Pride movement (I've seen her play Warwickshire Pride more than any other individual event) and the release is timed to coincide with Pride Month as the values match so well.

Her self-description includes calling herself "a body-positive queen living with fibromyalgia.." which not only anchors her into her philosophy but also explains what she has to live with and the challenges which help account for the gap between releases. On the other hand, since she has in that period also graduated with a first honours degree in songwriting and music business, a lot of academic graft is also a big factor.

Put into that context, we can appreciate "Permission" at a far greater depth than its obvious charms & danceability nevertheless offer. Ivy always sugars any pills she offers to cure society's ills and always offers listeners positive solutions to issues in their lives: ones which afford them agency too. For years these have included a profound interest in mental health issues and now we find concern around body imaging, personal identity and relationships with the judgemental dynamics within our culture.

 "This song is an unapologetic anthem for the girls, the gays & the theys. Let's own that runway & be fearlessly deluxe".

She really doesn't want the message to get lost or not heard if you are too busy with your feet's response to the track to process it with your ears too: so it's kept simple. You do not require society's permission to live your own unique life regardless of artificial norms nor expectations.  If I ramble on too much about such a direct polemic then I'll be failing where Ivy succeeded in keeping it short, sweet & to the point.

So that's the lyrics, the passengers if you will in "Permission", so what does the musical vehicle they are riding in sound like?

Well Ivy is a talented & experienced musician but she is also a canny one and teaming up with Collin has certainly crushed any dangers of moving towards any sort of formula as this song really sounds unlike any its predecessors.

There are copious nods to the history of disco from Ivy's voice floating ethereally on top of the mix a la Donna Summer to heavy use of processed percussion & funky bass licks as the lead instruments.

The production is clever with vocals weaving about to great effect (it actually sounds like a group of women having a discussion) but with that lightness of touch which retains the song at the heart of the endeavour rather than boasting of the producer's cleverness.

Paying homage to those who have gone before is fraught with artistic dangers from the extreme one of accusations of plagiarism through flirting with pastiche to simply undermining the appreciation of one's own originality. Thankfully Ivy has the taste & experience (and the degree must have helped) to take on the challenge and pass with flying colours and doubtlessly Collin's expertise played a major part in producing a fresh 2024 track yet with those colorations which would appeal to the cognoscenti of the form.

You get a lot for your money when you buy an Ivy Ash track: you get a great song to dance to (or any other similar exercise which takes your fancy). You get empathy with who you are and you get something of a guide to how to maximise who you need to be.

I probably describe all her songs as anthems for the simple reason that they are: but with "Permission" Ivy has refined the form further than ever before: I look forward to seeing how this one's chorus gets picked up on by her live audiences.

 [1 image]

Please look out for another release by Batsch: "Knew No Different". Like most of their activity, since they come from the underground, they tend to take me by surprise. Which is half the pleasure.

When I put on my "big picture" hat, I more & more see the influence of Batsch is so many of the most interesting local bands (and on a parallel track I often wonder what the situation would look like had Deathsex Bloodbath not visited from their planet). I don't mean their sound as such, but the general approach for having the confidence and courage to experiment & be unique yet never losing the ability to transcend any danger of self-indulgence and remain in contact with audiences. It's a hard road but I think that Batsch blazed a trail which others are following to great effect.

Being an influence is a long way from those who seek to influence (they won't be people I'll be writing about) and for those operating without artistic fear nor under any burden of expectation, then it must be creatively liberating.

That frees you to compose & develop to your own timetable & drop the results when it best suits you as has happened here.

Now, as with the preceding "Too Few", the band is a duo, Mason Le Long, and Matt Rheeston and they've even managed a live outing (at The Tin, with Michal Jan and Immortal Onion last month).

"Knew No Different" thus is unencumbered by anything which might impede what they want to do & jumps straight into something refreshingly new (even for them) while sticking to the Batsch philosophy (as distinct from formula) of "freaky & catchy".

Deconstructing it is both beyond my capabilities and desires: this is definitely one you need to process for yourselves. There is something that might be a guitar or it might be some exotic non-European stringed instrument. It's pretty clearly got strings anyhow. The drums loom large (and I gather that Matt led on creating the song) and as they are tuned, offer aspects of the melody as well as a rhythm that only a really gifted percussionist could dare hope to follow yet excites in the less skilled listener a sense of wonder at where it's going to skitter off to next. On top of that Matt's vocal does a variety of things as well as delivering the lyrics: if the drums get to feature melodically, the singing repays the gesture in contributing to parts of the rhythm. The only single comparison I could spot was that it's no surprise how closely they work with Duke Keats: both seem to be exploring what each element of the arrangement is actually capable of.

And that's the easy part of the description. Various other instruments & samples suddenly appear and depart constantly. It's very unsettling (don't be looking for any verse/chorus/verse structure here) but that keeps one engaged with the track. And once again, this is not self-indulgence: the track is infectious in its own cheerfully idiosyncratic way.

 

Viva Batsch.

 [1 image]

Sometimes what can variously be described as either serendipity or random good luck drives a first review of an artist for me.

I was vaguely aware of the name of The Caroline Bomb via advertised gigs & they seemed to be sharing stages with other bands which I rate & have covered. That they kindly followed "Hot Music Live Presents" and this magazine on social media definitely gained them gratitude, especially the "likes" etc.

However I had little or nothing to go on in regards of any article until, reciprocating their social media follows, I spotted that their debut ‘From the Back Room' EP had come out in the last few days & out of courtesy, the least I could do was give it a listen. 

All the tracks (they bear the titles "Cardboard Soldierbox", "Plants, "Dead Eyed Nation" "Green ‘n' Knobbly" and "Caroline") are called demos and possibly, if it's as much a work in progress as a calling card, that may account for its "pay what you can" price on Bandcamp.

Recorded in the Back Room (which they describe as an "undisclosed location in Coventry City Centre") by members vocalist Barney Court, guitarist Joe McAvoy-Boss, bass player Eddie West and drummer Luke Oosterbaan, the songs cannot be described other than as punk (they self-describe as "indie-punk") and what particularly struck a chord with me were the fresh hat tips to first wave punk.

Obviously that period ended pretty sharpish just as soon as  a horde of very lesser talented bandwagon jumpers decided to ignore the original premise of diversity and individuality for an all purpose musical and image template.

Therefore those returning to the well need to fight back to first principles through nearly fifty years' worth of homogeneity & maybe it was inevitable that it would take this long for the spark of wit & humour (which were other aspects ditched pretty quickly) to return as well as taking on the issues of 2024.

Many of these are sadly exactly what they were in 1976/7 (Rock Against Racism opened a lot of ears but not all of them) but it's interesting how they have evolved in prominence.

For example, issues around identity were raised by several brave artists at the time (and violence was too often their reward) such as Tom Robinson, Poly Styrene, Jayne County etc, but by 2024 this area of consideration for songwriters has moved on a long long way (the options for gender identity have thankfully vastly expanded) and that alone means that this is not simply retro music: the agendas have developed.

Shorn of much of the baggage of mere revivalism, perhaps it's no wonder that I'm writing more & more about the vibrant local punk scene: Septic and the Tanks being a spectacular example of a new band with the enthusiasm, charm and strength of character to swiftly build a broad following: but I could date the first beginnings (locally) back to the emergence of Rewards & Revenge in Leamington a dozen years ago & point to the presence of tracks by the likes of Stegosaurus Sex Party, Grail Guard and Louis B Scheuer on recent editions of "Hot Music Live Presents" alongside bands of a similar inclination from back in the day and others, while less obviously "pure punk" like The Caroline Bomb, clearly tend in that direction: or maybe not so clearly. Certainly TwoManTing may sound roots reggae but acknowledge punk roots & cover The Clash and Alys Rain channels her punk instincts via Creaking Twitch.

And so from context to specifics.

The latest generation of punk bands catches the eye with their imaginative titles before you even hear the songs. What Horace Panter memorably mourned as the proliferation of bands "playing songs with two & a half chords and ‘boredom' in the title" has given way to such gems as "Dog's Birthday Party" as so I zeroed in on "Green ‘n' Knobbly" first of all. I wasn't disappointed. With the sort of compelling bassline which drew you into Talking Heads songs, once drawn into this one you were definitely in a British rather than American song with the dissonances, angular Wiresque guitars and the highly idiosyncratic vocals: the sort of courage to be different yet speak truly which so many unpunk singers lack. As to its meaning, possibilities are endless: which is to its credit in contrast to the tediously obvious sort of stuff which dominates the charts.

If the venue for recording & the lyrics of "Green ‘n' Knobbly" remain enigmatic, they both cede to the mystery which surrounds both the band's name & the song "Caroline" and as far as they are concerned, that's going to remain the case "exactly what "Caroline" really is, and where, remains a closely guarded secret known only to us". The mind boggles a bit (or at least mine did) and again, the chart toppers don't do that for me.

Said track sees another compelling bassline partially buried under a wall of guitars & drums: all the mixes are a bit weird (fine by me) and presumably intentionally that way. It begs the question of whether, these being demos, more polished versions will later come out. I'm not sure the exercise would be necessary to be honest.

The Caroline Bomb are noisy and energising yet melodies lurk in every track: as does much musicianship. The songs are carefully constructed with more internal variations than you might initially expect & plenty of variety between songs: I strongly doubt that some of the subtleties would be very apparent in the excitement of a gig, but the EP gives fans to explore them.

At this point, having just credited them with careful song construction, I'd better share with you what they tell me of their working methods: "we meet up every week in a central location in Coventry and play fast and hard songs. We tend to work quickly, writing things in the moment, and improvise as we go. Sometimes that means gluing two partially-finished songs together and finding they fit as one."

I think that I can (maybe) reconcile my perceptions with their reality through the medium of instinct: I think they know roughly what they are doing & happily welcome in the spontaneous & the "happy accident" and then are confident enough to go with the results when they work: presumably tweaking different sections to fit musically. This sounds far more commendable as artistic expression than those cynically manufactured commercial songs which appear to "require" six or seven professional songwriters to turn into product which presses all the right demographic buttons.

"Dead Eyed Nation" stood out for me on several levels: including being able to hear most of the words clearly & make a reasonable stab & what they might mean. It's also the track with the most realised musical complexity: it might be the track which gets selected for airplay if the EP is picked up by discerning ears. "Cardboard Soldierbox" which also impressed me probably isn't going to hit the radio though with its current combative lyrics. I can't imagine that the band are greatly concerned though.

At this point, armed with a few facts & the songs but never having seen them In action, I consulted Joe Wilson (Deathsex Bloodbath, Year Without a Summer, Concrete Fun House, Duck Thieves and others) who has praised them online & not only could add an informed perspective to add to mine but as a novelist could express it better than my own rambling thoughts.

"I first saw The Caroline Bomb in February, a late replacement for another band. They seemed fully-formed: I was amazed, talking to them afterwards, that they'd played less than half a dozen gigs. The band is a classic formula: a magnetic singer in front of a hot band. It's certainly true that the band's acumen as musicians give them their backbone. Their intangible quality, though, is how spontaneous it all seems: there's nothing expected about Barney's frantic movements and expressions, about the band's sudden gear shifts, how what seems like a dramatic pause can turn into a different song entirely. The Caroline Bomb's EP is good but their live show is must-see." Thank you Joe.

I'll leave the penultimate word to the band themselves "…we're a full-blown, 100mph punk rocket machine. We write about the things we care about, but in ways that make us laugh…"  which is fine by me

For such a recently formed band, The Caroline Bomb seem to be going places gratifyingly quickly: they are headlining the Sunflower Lounge on June 29th and on 4th July they are at the Tin with Trust Club among other bands to celebrate Election Night. Given the praise Joe affords them for their live show (he's particularly taken with Barney's unusual penchant for singing sans her shoes ("she's usually leaping around on the floor in her socks")), I keenly anticipate seeing them perform myself.

 [1 image]

Well that might be described as a double ambition fulfilled in one trip.

I set off on Sunday to catch Katherine Abbott at Pete Willow's monthly CVFolk event at the Albany Theatre only to learn on arrival that due to her current globe trotting schedule (she's not long returned from gigs in the USA), a hold up at the airport had stymied her appearance. (And don't forget how busy she has also been with WLDFLWRS and other Street Arts Project activities).

So I was delighted that less than a week had elapsed before I could put it right as she was performing at the Old Post Office in Warwick: a venue very high on my bucket list. That is because not only have they been putting some of my favourite artists on in recent weeks (including Jack Blackman & the Beautiful Wreck, Wes Finch, Matt Lakey & Ben Haines), but also on a more general level I wanted to help promote that sadly rare phenomenon, a pub (and it's a compact one so make sure you get there in good time to secure your place) which features the best of local original artists.

This is the sort of venue we all need to support.

Pleased as I was to get there and catch part of Katherine's set, inevitably more own constraints limited me to a brief catch up with her (look out for releases of her beautiful music soon) and a few numbers. But I saw enough. It was the first time I've seen her play electric guitar and that in itself was something of a revelation as her playing style on it gave her the opportunity to let it chime out and create yet more space for her haunting vocals. I really look forwards to being able to attend a full set & hopefully hear some of her new songs.

Meanwhile, with upcoming attractions including Hokum & Hooch and more Wes & Jack, I should very much like to return to the Old Post Office and catch more fine music: the atmosphere was ideal yesterday with a full house easily attained & a rapt & supportive audience for Katherine.

 [1 image]

As Stone Bear continue on their ceaseless evolution, once again they've let some marvellous music slip almost without mention let alone fanfare.

And it's an actual album which is named "Let Go".

I suppose I might link the "softly softly" mode of putting it out there to the direction which David John has been going now for several years: he's passed beyond urban blues, through country blues & now appears to have created a pastoral form. And I've just spotted the word "jazz" on their self-description on Facebook: I can't recall when that appeared but I'm sure it wasn't there originally.

The tracks are called "Ocean (Intro)", "Lay Me Down Again" (which came out as a single in January), "Wind Blows", "Let Go", "Ocean (Interlude)", "To The Light" and "Gravel Road".

Some of the music  dates from 2007 and a session with Peter William whose violin part has been re-purposed seventeen years down the line for exquisite instrumentals (the "Ocean" tracks)  which take Stone Bear closer to folk & classical music than John Lee Hooker (though JLH was in his own way a folk musician of course and certainly a classic artist) and "Gravel Road", which has no violin on it, sounds like a classical guitar piece itself.

As with most of the Stone Bear output of recent years, "Let Go" veers closely to being David's solo album and as a whole, the collection is a showpiece for his writing & instrumental skills (even his voice is a rare creature in comparison). However percussion parts, very subtly, do appear & I'd like to think that these are courtesy of Jeff Dennis.

This mellow mood music comes out on Fathers' Day and it is tempting to link the musical style to the members now being fathers themselves: except music this subtle deserves better than excessively simplified assumptions. What is pretty certain though is that the music is the product of contemplation of the bigger pictures in life….

Always a bit of a niche band due to their adherence to authenticity, Stone Bear are working their way deeper into cult territory. I've always loved their music & am happy to be taken on their journey: but realistically this is for the aficionados of music which simultaneously gives off the impression of being simple yet while being cultured & nuanced.

You can play these tracks in the comfort & privacy of your own homes & get much emotional pleasure out of them. Live, Stone Bear need a discerning audience who'll fix their attention fully upon them. They deserve to get that.

 [1 image]

So many musicians whom we write about can in some way or another be said to be moving forwards and making progress: artistically, careerwise or in their public profile.

Some movements forward though are of a very big scale indeed: career changing as much as anything.

When these happen to artists whom we've covered & championed over the years, it's natural that we delight in these moments & wish to celebrate them with you.

When they involve artists who are not just committed, hardworking, talented and original but genuinely nice people, open & generous to fellow artists, audience members & reviewers, well that adds icing to the celebratory cake.

I don't think that anyone could doubt that being invited to play at the Glastonbury Festival counts as a game changer (and that's not an expression I much like using: it's one for where it actually fits).

So huge congratulations to both Izzie Derry and Dolly Mavies on being named for the Glastonbury 2024 lineup and it's double congratulations as they are both playing on two separate days.

They are not the first local musicians to be picked of course, bands like The Primitives have trodden that road before and Nizlopi played so often that when I double checked with John Parker (who was playing with The Silver Wye on the CVFolk Stage at Motofest on Sunday), he couldn't be sure if it was six or seven times…

Spare a thought too for The Specials whose planned Glastonbury big moment fell victim  to COVID19.

Then there was YNES who in 2022 was invited by Billy Bragg himself to join him on his Left Field. Now that was truly special.

Now invitations like that one come along we know & I spy a few Neponames on the 2024 list but generally speaking Glastonbury selection is meritocratic (more so than many of our local events!) and Izzie & Dolly cannot be certain as to precisely how they got the nod this year, but it's worth considering:

Long years of gradually building audiences & reputations through hard work

Accumulated bodies of top quality original music cumulating this year in highly popular & critically acclaimed albums (Izzie Derry's ‘Til We Reach The Sun' and Dolly Mavies' ‘The Calm and the Storm') which are ideal calling cards.

More and more prestigious airplay: both have been featured extensively by BBC Introducing Coventry & Warwickshire in particular.

Lots of high quality festivals of the level just below Glastonbury: Dolly Mavies has played Wychwood this week with more to come this month and Izzie Derry is a Big Feastival regular and has just played the Great Escape Festival.

I know Izzie is on the radar of both Fairport Convention & Alex James through prestige gigs: both are probably on that of other prominent musicians too.

 Personally, I am certain both are there on merit & just as sure that the experience will be transformational: people will see them as "Glastonbury level" names and adjust their expectations and reactions accordingly. They have had plenty of other doors opened for them as outlined above, but now many others will be accessible.

I spoke with both of them over the past few days (Izzie via online as she's just finishing her MA in Music and Dolly very kindly spared me time at Motofest on Sunday).

Both are actually very grounded as far as their responses went: neither really reacted at the excessive level of my excitement. Obviously they (and their bands) are very excited by the prospect and clearly they are looking forward to the experience as much, if not more, than calculating the career prospects. Without a doubt, this perspective, of quiet satisfaction and not going overboard is in keeping with the things they write and sing about: these are emotionally mature artists.

Izzie went first for looking at her journey, especially how the Godiva Festival was a step on her personal road:

"I have played at the Godiva Festival for about 10 years now. It was one of the first places I performed when I was just starting out and I've made it back most years since. It will always be a special show for me as I have so many fond memories both performing and watching. This year I play Glastonbury Festival for the first time. I can't help but think all the years playing Godiva helped me master my craft and help me prepare for Glasto!"

Dolly too was keen to explore context and perspective:

"Obviously it's always a dream to play at Glastonbury and every year we hoped that this might be the year and we're so excited this year that it is. We've released an album and got new music and it feels like the right step in the right direction.

We're really proud of the album and we've had really nice feedback from people.. it's really nice that people are listening to it. People come to shows, come to festivals, then come and chat to us afterwards and it's just really nice that people connect to those songs and hopefully they're here for the rest of the journey."

In fact, she took a holistic view of the Glastonbury opportunity and I think she places it within a broad context of just wanting more people to listen to the songs & to connect with them (and it's worth saying that both Izzie & Dolly are working on new material but neither want to rush the process: an emphasis on quality control which has certainly paid off to this point). And who knows what Glastonbury might do to inspire more songs: after all "getting out and about is really inspiring: your brain gets sparked in the right direction and suddenly your songs come out of nowhere".

As I say, I'm delighted for both artists & their bands: they deserve this opportunity and they deserve our congratulations. By next month, they'll both be experiencing a new chapter in their artistic story: and it'll be a most exciting one for each of them. Though I urge you to see them live & local before they go all live and (inter)national!

Izzie plays the Croissant Neuf Bandstand on Wednesday 26th June at 1330 and Thursday 27th at 1415

Dolly Mavies plays the Bimble Inn on Saturday 29th June at 1745 and the Lunched Out Lizards Stage on  Sunday 30th June at 1900

 [1 image]

It's that time of the year again: with Godiva Festival 2024 now mere weeks away (it's on from Friday 5th July to Sunday 7th July) and lineups are being confirmed, it's time for me to get back on my soapbox and remind the world of how important the Festival is to local original artists.

Inevitably, the mainstream media tend to focus on the "big" names on the Main Stage and that's fine by me: those names attract the crowds, ensure the sustainability of the event and in terms of reportage, relieve me of the necessity to review them, leaving me free to commit my personal resources to the music which is my main interest.

I cannot emphasise too much (yes, I know I do this annually but bear with me please) that this is the single biggest event to showcase original artists from Coventry & Warwickshire. It's the shop window for the acts I write about in the magazine & where fantastic emerging acts can gain new audiences from among people hitherto unaware of their talent.

I mentioned sustainability: Godiva is celebrating 25 years in 2024 and there is so much to celebrate. However most people will know that external events and pressures have resulted in its continued existence being called into question over the last few years.

The team who put it together are incredibly committed to its future and moved heaven and earth to maintain its viability. Hence the introduction of entry charges, which though a blow to many, mean that the show goes on.

Each year they have a look at seeing what's working & what needs a tweak, so expect a slightly different configuration of stages for 2024: especially if you are keen to see your favourite local acts.

The changes at the BBC have impacted here too: the shift from a tight focus on the music of Coventry & Warwickshire to a broader West Midlands Introducing catchment has inevitably meant that our artists have featured less frequently on air. This places yet more emphasis on that role of crucial showcase at Godiva, but thankfully the local BBC team will be at Godiva 2024 and will be introducing many great acts like Ace Ambrose, Stylusboy,  Duck Thieves, Izzie Derry, Bar Pandora, Levi Washington (with Charlotte Faulconbridge as "Washington X Bridge") Monday Nights and Shanade (all of whom have featured on "Hot Music Live Presents") on the "Cov Stage".

So what is exciting me in particular? Well obviously I've just namechecked a load of artists I must see. In addition, HMLP artists such as Dean MacDonald, The Boy Who Invented Everything and Pandora will be on the Cov Stage too.

For me, the naming of Project Overload and Loophole as Main Stage acts is a real highlight (as it is to the Festival team). This to me is the Power of Godiva at its most potent: to showcase emerging talent at the earliest possible opportunity. Who knows where their path will lead from here, but for a band whose members are aged between fourteen & nineteen (Project Overload) and another younger still, there is an awful lot of future ahead of them. It is also a great opportunity to mention the work of the "Live On Stage" project which nurtured them: as it has other bands who've played at Godiva & I'm certain many more to come. It is so fortunate that one band has a member aged nineteen and so had to go into an adult category of "Godiva Calling" otherwise they would have been competing with each other for a single slot.

This sense of the cutting edge & the freshness which comes with it is what I'm most exhilarated by: the role of the familiar is so important in building & keeping crowds but to me, watching relatively early steps of people who could go so much further is so exciting: and all of them are already having their talents validated by being asked to play.

Project Overload are buzzing with sharing their skills with such a big audience: in their own words: "we are incredibly excited to be able to showcase our music! Having seen bands such as The Libertines, Editors and Feeder play, it feels surreal to be playing on the Godiva Main Stage."

Nizlopi were a sensation at Godiva eighteen years ago (before most of Project Overload and all of Loophole were born) en route to a number one and international fame: as Luke Concannon told me this week: "playing at a big public festival like Godiva was part of our road to emerging on the National festival scene: really grateful for that help and experience!"

In other cases, it's a privilege to witness forms of rites of passage: artists who are already the toast of local venues making their debut at Godiva or making the step up to the Main Stage.

There are few bands over the past couple of years who have attracted the critical & popular buzz that Bar Pandora (who makes her much anticipated Godiva debut) and Duke Keats (who takes his rightful place on the Main Stage) have and I much prefer for them to articulate their own feelings on such matters:

"Since I moved to Coventry five years ago, I've been very aware of how important Godiva is to the local music scene, so I'm really honoured to be a part of it this year." (Charlie Tophill aka Bar Pandora)

"I'm extremely excited to be playing the 25th Anniversary of the Godiva Festival. I've had the opportunity to perform at the festival for quite a few years now. It has always been inclusive, family friendly and a wonderful opportunity for local and global musicians to perform & showcase their talent in a rich & diverse lineup."  (Connor Blundell aka Duke Keats)

Also playing their first Godiva (though drummer Ali Hutton has played before with other bands) are a band whose stock has been rising steadily over the past few years: Monday Nights:

"We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to play among great artists at a festival that gives so many local musicians a gateway to new opportunities!"

Izzie Derry has been playing Godiva for many years and this has been one of the launchpads for her career progression which not only is now in a national context but takes her to her first Glastonbury where she'll be joined by Dolly Mavies who played Godiva 2023. Isn't it great for the wider world to discover what we've known for longer than they have?

"I have played at the Godiva Festival for about 10 years now. It was one of the first places I performed when I was just starting out and I've made it back most years since. It will always be a special show for me as I have so many fond memories both performing and watching. This year I play Glastonbury Festival for the first time. I can't help but think all the years playing Godiva helped me master my craft and help me prepare for Glasto!" (Izzie Derry)

"We had a brilliant time. It was our first time at Godiva Festival. It's massive: the field is massive, the park is massive. The Stage is huge and it was so nice to see so many people supporting the more local music on the BBC Introducing stage…" (Dolly Mavies)

And then in a category entirely of her own is Ace Ambrose. Determinedly idiosyncratic, her relative absence from any stage in recent years relates more to unfortunate health & personal issues rather than any artistic statement and so it's great to be looking forwards to a high profile return at Godiva 2024:  "Personally I can't wait to be back on stage with a full band after a year and a half solo & I'm crash landing with a whole new line up of Oddities (and a set featuring 2 songs from the EP never performed live with a band)!"

So that's the local foci which are the main ones for our magazine, but I must also emphasise that a highlight for me of any Godiva Festival are the Boudica Festival curated acts: in 2024 this means The Go! Team. As a counterpoint to the commercially focused "external" bands on the Main Stage, The Boudica picks not only highlight female & non-binary artists, they also bring in the lesser known, the dangerous and the stimulating:  it was brilliant how the 2022 showcase of Dream Wife was dubbed the highpoint of that year's festival by so many people to whom I spoke.          

In an unplanned bit of serendipity as far as this article goes, the previously mentioned Charlie Tophill is now part of their team (joining Sarah Morgan, Director of the Tin, Michelle Bailey-Le Long of Duck Thieves and Film Liberation and Sarah Scouller DJ and promoter for Cov Sauce) and in their own words:

"We are proud to be teaming up with Godiva Festival for our fourth year, as they invite us back once more to showcase and celebrate women and non-binary artists. We have previously collaborated with Godiva Festival where we've brought the likes of Nova Twins, Big Joanie, Dream Wife and Dream Nails to the main stage. This year we are bringing cult heroes The Go! Team who we know many Coventrians will be excited to see and relive their teen days."

I spoke earlier about sustainability: the Godiva Festival is also fun. It's diverse. It's stimulating, opening ears to new sounds.

I'm so looking forwards to the music mentioned above, discovering new artists & reporting back to you. See you there!

 [1 image]

This is another of those odd "I'm not sure what category this fits into" article which crops up from time to time as the artists of whom we write buck convention.

I'm going with a sort of preview of a review.. if that makes sense.

To further mess with readers' minds, this all relates to Jackie James whose "Magic" featured on  'Hot Music Live Presents Volume Six'  and as part of Ubergine, her "I Wanna Do It" on HMLP 3.

However, this time out, her upcoming album ‘Nostalgic Colors' comes out under the name of "Jaquelina Shipley".

To be honest, I don't tend to deal much with music released on major international labels, so this one, on Warner Chappell throws up a few rare issues: the first being the American spelling in the title.

However Jackie was understandably pleased to have such a powerful platform for these songs and so has been happy to cede control in the presentation (the cover photo too is their choice) as once you're past them, everything you hear is hers.

So why am I not reviewing it now?

Well that's another oddity: you can access the alum online right now (via https://uk.warnerchappellpm.com/album/aa242/NTE3MTk2MC05Zjg2NzI) and hear "Best Thing", "Wedding", "The High Road, The Low Road", "The Cliffs of Moher", "Let's Play The Game", "Take Me Back Again" and "My Colors" (sic).

However Jackie is going back into the studio very soon to record additional tracks which will then be added to the above on the CD release in August.

It seemed unfair to the latter to do a formal review now & then maybe an addendum in a couple of months: it might tend to marginalise them. Therefore after discussion with the artist, I'll raise your awareness today & offer a review when the collection is complete.

Jackie has never been tied to genre and so this sort of unconventional release is consistent with her career. That different aspects have emerged under a range of names isn't especially surprising: you just need to plot a course through them all.

Warner Chappell have aimed to showcase the folk side of what she does (their blurb states "this album of love songs captures the sea-soaked romance of the Irish cliffs, with female vocals extoling the warmth and affection of a relationship supported by mellow acoustic guitars, uplifting fiddle, upright bass and light percussion"). I am sure I'll be expanding upon that in due course.

The album is a celebration of one side of Jackie, but it also features a wide range of collaborations including quite a few who have appeared in stories n the magazine and on volumes of "Hot Music Live Presents" such as Ethan Shipley, John Shipley, Matt Waddell, John Rivers & Jools Street.

I'll pick up the story then in a few weeks' time

 [1 image]

Out today is a new single called "BB33": their first since their debut "Rollin' On" came out eighteen months ago (it can also be found on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Nine') from Orange River Remedy.

These guys are well up there with bands I love to catch & hear (and have been for many years under different names) & if appearances in the magazine do not reflect this, it's because I don't get to as many of their gigs as I'd like & because they seem perfectionist in releasing their always top notch originals.

I say "they" as it's Rikki & Tyron Hansel whom I've been enjoying so long, but I wouldn't want to omit the name of drummer Lottie Pennington with whom they form Orange River Remedy & is a key ingredient which sets their sound away from previous bands. Nor can I leave out very special mentions to people not previously mentioned in Orange River Remedy articles. One is Dylan Hansel who was playing with his brothers when I first encountered them: as another cousin of Brad's, he's joined in the tribute and guested here on lead guitar. Next is Rebecca Hallworth who is a new member of the band and is responsibly for those prominent groovy keyboards. Finally there is Tim Walker who provided the background instrumentation and provided his production & mastering skills. 

However "BB33" is quite a Hansel orientated song as it is in honour of their cousin Brad Binder. Now he's a valid subject for a song simply from being a member of their family, but he's especially suitable for celebrating as he has an international reputation as a MotoGP sportsman.

If like me, he's not on your radar then that's motorcycling and Brad has risen through the international grades being World Champion at the level three and now races at the highest level, being the only South African rider ever to win a race at that standard.

So you could easily see why Rikki & Tyron wanted to laud him in song, but equally you could note that Brad has two very talented cousins himself.

All the artists I write about clearly enjoy playing music (that's why I write about those ones) but I doubt if any exceed the pleasure Orange River Remedy demonstrably achieve: just watch them live. That probably accounts for why instead of going for a tone of reverence it's, as Rikki told me "a bit of a comedic song we've written" which sits right for the family context. He also tells me that this accounts for the deliberately stronger South African accents they use.

As previously noted, they are music fans too with a deep knowledge of material from previous eras, but most noticeably (as far as what they play indicates), the late 1960s, early 1970s.

You are not going to be surprised to hear me praise "BB33": the article has been pointing in that direction hasn't it. You should love it. The backing is, as I say, as groovy as you can imagine with that prominent classic organ counterpointing lyrics which as advertised are delivered with a certain amount of tongues in cheek but also with love & as far as I can see, enough truth to show great respect for his undoubted skills & courage.

These people love music for sure & they want both to communicate that to you and persuade you to do the same. They also love Brad. On top of that, they have the skills to weave all those agendas into one top effervescent tune.

You probably don't know Brad personally. You may not be a motorcycle racing enthusiast. But that's not important. "BB33" is a ball of delight which will lift you regardless of context or content.

Since the proceeds from it are all going towards building their recording studio, why not show your appreciation accordingly so they can make yet more fine songs for your pleasure?

 [1 image]

Reviewing multi stage festivals when I have limited time generates its own dynamics and when the event itself, like Motofest 2024 in Coventry has its main agenda other than music, other factors come into play.

My method is to scrutinise the schedule (and it's depressing how often "lifestyle" events featuring great artists don't provide these: thankfully Motofest did) and plot routes & timings to flit between stages (not always a quick thing to do at Motofest) to catch my "must see" artists.

Sadly, very considerable timing-slippage on the Jubilee Arena stage (which is anyway the least music & audience friendly location) robbed me of my intention to see both Danny Ansell & The Session so my apologies for their omission from this article.

Fortunately, what I did see I enjoyed very much indeed and I'm delighted to share with you. The other stages, principally the BBC Introducing one in New Union Street and the CVFolk one in the Upper Precinct were well organised, kept to time & had excellent sound despite the competing racket of auto-engines being mindlessly revved, air horns blown & in the case of the CVFolk Stage, the issues deriving from the wind tunnel effect of the Precinct.

The fourth "stage" was the balcony of the HMV Empire and I enjoyed my first Levi Washington gig of 2024 there on the Saturday (for some reason there wasn't anything on the Sunday). That was a greyer day but Levi's potent reggae infused set summoned up Sunday's sun in a sort of reverse rain dance invocation.

Luna Kiss go from strength to strength and their crowd at the BBC Stage on the Saturday demonstrated both by their numbers & enthusiasm how this excellent band is continually building its reputation and fanbase.

On the Sunday, we had the artistic climax of the Festival with the juxtaposition of Dolly Mavies & Duke Keats: two local bands who are so clearly moving onwards & upwards that they will need to be classified as national level rather than area before too many more suns have set.

Dolly Mavies joined us straight from their Wychwood Festival appearance & before their Glastonbury one (look out for a future article focusing on this) so weren't we fortunate? Obviously, that in itself tells you how tight & flawless their performance was, though as a band of this class, they'd gone beyond mere tightness into the next zone of a looseness and playfulness in which their sheer joy in performing such original material was evident. Incorporating very recent new material alongside singles and ‘The Calm and the Storm' tracks, this was top echelon music with the hot sun shining through the trees and off both medieval stonework & modern architecture: a stunning setting for their talent.

If Dolly Mavies is heading for Glastonbury, then where Duke Keats is heading is more difficult to predict. Possibly Hollywood, possibly another galaxy. He is on such a wonderful trajectory: there are few artists who emerge locally who can necessarily command a consensus, but in his case, everyone is united in appreciation of his uniqueness of talent & how he's rewritten the book on how music can be. He laughs in the face of genres.

We've reviewed his astonishing releases in the magazine but predicting how some of them might actually be reproduced live has been tricky: but the good news is that he's put together a band of just four people (guitars/bass/drums) who understand & can realise his idiosyncratic visions: no mean feat.

As you know, film provides a lot of inspiration for Duke and so visuals are a central point of the performance: and his band are completely up for that too: like Dolly Mavies they so clearly enjoy playing with & off each other and there is a huge amount of fervent movement to see. His charismatic onstage presence is a big part of the attraction & quite at odds with his modest demeanour offstage. Catch this band (they are at the Godiva Festival) before they disappear onto a wider circuit.

While disappointed to miss two acts on my list, the result was one of those "happy accidents" wherein it brought me to the CVFolk Stage to see Liam Vincent and the Odd Foxes earlier than I'd intended and so I saw The Hoarse Whisperers set. They'd not been on my schedule & normally I prioritise original music over covers, but their clean and simple version of generally songs from the American South was something I enjoyed & refreshed my sensitivities after the disappointment of earlier & the subsequent fraught struggle through the crowds & pandemonium: so credit to them & also Pete Willow & his CVFolk team for the excellence of sound & atmosphere on their stage.

Liam Vincent only had three of his Odd Foxes with him as Diz, the drummer could not make it, so guitarist James filled in on cajon. This in no way diminished the quality of material nor performance and I have to say that although I urge you to catch this great band live anywhere, their music possibly works at its best outdoors where people can dance more freely.

The two bands I saw on this stage on the Sunday were in fact both ones I'd not previously seen live before.

Admittedly, I'd heard Wes Finch play Silver Wye songs in gigs under his own name, but this was the first time I'd seen a gig under the band's name: John Parker joining him on double bass, Ben Haines on various things including but not limited to percussion & Matt Lakey on guitar.

I'd originally doubted that songs derived from Wes' experimental project could ever been played live in forms similar to the studio versions, and so was never sure that there could be a Silver Wye gig. However the electronic aspects were covered by Ben using his custom electronic percussion device and injecting samples and through Matt's keening guitar, working with Wes' own melodic singing and guitar & John's anchoring of the whole into the songs of beauty that comprise the body of work.

Many/most of the songs concern light directly or obliquely and so were fitted to the bright sunshine, as was their general air of optimism. The dark exception, "The Getting Place" is something of a personal favourite & one I'd never heard live nor really expected to. So I was pleased and if its Mephistophelean theme & tones was mellowed on this occasion, that seems fair enough at a family festival.

The last act I caught was the K  C Jones duo of Karen & Colin and I was pleased that they dipped into two albums we've reviewed: their own ‘Roots' and Karen's very recent solo ‘A Woman's Work'. As with the Hoarse Whisperers, sometimes what your soul requires is simplicity and melody to achieve tranquillity and this is certainly what they offer.

As I say, Motofest is not a music festival & I for one am grateful that it included the chances to hear all the great music I've just described. Putting artists below combustion engines in priority is understandable if not something I'd do and the best stages were those relatively autonomous from the main festival. However many people I spoke to (and there were some amusing sardonic onstage comments too) are a bit bemused with how this format can continue given contemporary notions of acceptable carbon footprints, clean air & the council's environmental aspirations, so it may not have much longer as it currently is. However the artists I have reviewed will be going on, you can see them at many venues & some have really wonderful careers ahead of them. I am so pleased I caught them this weekend.

 [1 image]

I left you in mid-April when Daffod'i'll had reached album number 156 ('Friday').

In the six weeks since, he's made it to his 174th (not including periodic compilations of which there have  been another two: covering 152 to 158 and from 159 to 167)

Starting with the 157th, the ones which have come out most recently are called 'Saturday','Sunday', 'Chastity', 'Temperance', 'Charity', 'Beside the Seaside', 'Diligence', 'Kindness', 'Technology Park', 'Summer Twilight', 'Autumn Winds', 'Love', 'Patience', 'Humility', 'Peace', 'Lust', 'Winter Dawn' and 'Spring Has Sprung'.

All can be found at his Bandcamp page: https://iconoclastrecordsuk.bandcamp.com/

 [1 image]

Out right now (at the very generous "pay as you see fit/can afford" rate on Bandcamp) is the "biblically anticipated" sophomore EP ‘Kreuzberg' by Louis B Scheuer whose "Faces of Death" was featured on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Twelve'.

Featuring the tracks "Shame", "Big Boy", "Just Dreamin'", "Psychedelic Dream" and "Kreuzberg" itself, "Big Boy" is a Viagra Boys cover and "Just Dreamin'" is by Jake Borgemenke, otherwise, the songs are original compositions.

The title track refers to an area of Berlin so on top of your existing expectations of the artist, it's not at all surprising to find a strong sense of diversity & sonic experimentation, both hallmarks of that cosmopolitan & cutting-edge city culture.

I'll reproduce the stated lineup precisely as it was publicised since band pseudonyms as well as the instruments they perform with are key indicators of what you can expect:

Louis- Vox, Piano, Guitars
Ben - Backing Vox ("Shame")
Vercingetorex - Bass VI
Shame Ghosts - Backing vox, shrieks & pleas
Sahir Abdul Al-Hazred Ma'arij - Holy Tamb of Sarabh, the Dome Drum, Wealth & Finery
Worms - Drum Programming, Samples, Drones, Tanpura, Incantations
Deluxe Tenebras - Melodica, Lead guitar
Moooooooooooorr - Harmonium, Accordion, Chants of Peace & Exodus, Lead guitar ("Just Dreamin'") 
Gentle Sister of the Fallen Cry - Rosary beads, mixing & mastering

I defy you to find too many credit lists like that.

With music this idiosyncratic, getting the artist's take it on it is especially useful and this is it: "27 mins of psychey pikey fun …. and lotsa love and hate and everything in between"

So there you have the ingredients & some guidelines. The music is ultimately a subjective matter: I personally liked it a lot, but accept that if the mainstream is your thing with a diet of songs you already know and which appear in "acceptable" forms, then ‘Kreuzberg' may well not just confuse you but scare you. I'd just pose the question though as to whether shaking assumptions and forcing reassessments is not in fact a good idea, despite any temporary trauma during the process and that fear of music can dissipate once you engage with it….

This is thoughtful & thought-provoking music but it's not at all intimidatory: it welcomes you to embrace new ideas & forms and despite any notions which attach to the avant garde, this is based on the excellent musicianship of Louis and team. There are plenty of acoustic guitars on there so if you fancy processing some of the songs as twisted forms of pop, then you can do it that way. The prevailing mood is the love element with the other emotions deployed against reasonable targets.

Open your ears & your minds and give it a spin: what on earth have you to lose with a half an hour's musical adventure?

Louis also puts together the "No Peace" gigs and the next one of those is on Saturday 6th July at the Fusilier in Leamington at 1800, featuring Grail Guard, Informal Complaint, Black Tape, Rubber Husband and Ed Creyton.

I really hope people can support this venture: in an area where any sort of originals artist gets far fewer live opportunities than covers ones, "No Peace" specialise in the more extreme acts who are marginalised from most promotions & otherwise would not get the hearing that their talents & commitment deserve.

 [1 image]
Page: