Holy Moly & The Crackers Take a Bite Pink Lane Records
The New Wave of Folk-Punk, Straight Outta Heaton!
I can remember as if it was yesterday the first time I ever clapped eyes on Holy Moly & The Crackers. It was a very sunny Saturday afternoon at SummerTyne Festival and they blew everyone else out of the water with their eclectic mix of Folk Rock, Gypsy rhythms and Country Blues styled songs……. and I threw myself at their feet, virtually begging to interview them for the publication I was then writing for. A lot of water has flowed under the Tyne Bridge since that fateful day; with Holy Moly subsequently releasing two ‘critically acclaimed’ albums and selling out shows all across Europe and now playing ‘the big stages’ at Festivals. So with all of that history between us, absolutely nothing prepared me for their ‘new direction’……NOTHING! Previously the charismatic Conrad Bird was Singer #1; but here the rather beautiful Ruth Patterson throws down her velvet gauntlet on opening song, All I Got Is You, a heady mix of Indie, New Wave, Punk and a full on Spectortastic Wall of Sound! You aren’t even allowed to catch your breath before Ruth fires up the reactors again on Upside Down; a song that sounds like Blondie on Brown Ale and Uppers, with a side order of Grappelli influenced violin from Ruth herself! It’s not until track #4 Kiss Me Before You Go (with it’s classy Glitter Band drumbeat) before Mr. Bird is allowed in front of the microphone; and then he only plays the love lorn foil to the temptress that is Ms Patterson alongside him. I may have to come back to this song when I’m dishing out the Favourite Song accolade. It’s easy to hear that the constant touring has been the Holy Molies learning their apprenticeship the hard way; but with spiky and intelligently crafted songs like Take a Bite, which incorporates their collective love of World Music btw; Who Do You Think You Are and the ‘call to arms’, Sister you know they haven’t been wasting their time in the back of a transit van. They have been learning their craft, and learning how to pool their individual strengths into a collective talent that will blow many a headliner off the Festival Stage this coming Summer. You are eventually allowed to catch your breath; on the cinematic I’d Give It All which finds Ruth channelling her inner Shirley Bassey as the band show their intimate quality musicianship in the background. I realise that I’ve sounded all “goo-goo eyes” talking about Ruth Patterson’s singing and performing here; and that’s not out of place at all, because it’s been a helluva shock; but no surprise at all to finally hear her coming out of her shell and leading the band from up front and centre; but this is no solo album by any stretch of the imagination……no, no, NO! I’m pretty sure that this is the album Conrad Bird has dreamt of creating from Day #1; and his songwriting and trumpet playing are both exemplary from the outset, as is his understated rhythm guitar; plus the effervescent Rosie Bristow once renowned for hiding in the shadows on stage; but listen carefully and you will not hear a track here that isn’t all the better for inclusion….. Rosie sure rocks this much maligned instrument! Yet, drummer Tommy Evans and Bass player Jamie Shields manage to create a big ole noise while somehow never ever threatening to overshadow the singers; which is a talent many ‘big names’ could learn from. There’s yet another surprise for me in the inclusion of an actual lead guitarist, Nick Tyler who seems to take on the George Harrison role by supplying brilliantly understated solos that catch your attention; but allow the songs to flow ever so naturally. Phew….. that’s all a bit long-winded, even by my standards; but needs must, and all that. AHA! Favourite Song time; on any other album it would have to be the menacing Naked in Budapest, but that has Conrad Bird on lead vocals; and as Ruth has usurped my mate as Singerist #1 it would be rude not to choose one of hers; so the Official RMHQ Favourite Song is…… Through With Talking; a New Wave infused Punk Rocker, but with a Folk heart. What the Folk is going on here? Fans will no doubt ask. Wind yer necks in; these kids know exactly what they are doing and if you indulge them; as I have done, your life will be undoubtedly enriched by letting this album and this fantastic band into your life.
Jerry Leger & The Situation Retrospective 2005-19 Ltd Edition Golden Rocket Records
The Best of the Best of the Canadiacana New Wave.
It’s very easy to criticise the internet and everything it stands for; but for every bad deed it is responsible for there is also a Good Karma opposite reaction too; and my discovering Jerry Leger in 2018 is one of the latter, via his recent Early Riser and From Nonsense and Heartache albums. So it was with heightened excitement that I recently discovered that not only is Jerry Leger & The Situation returning to these fair shores in April and May but to coincide there will be this *Retrospective album culling together The Best Of his 9 albums! Being a newcomer to the World of Leger my heart skipped a beat when I heard him go all Rockabilly on opening track Red City with it’s chunka-chunka guitar and rinky-dinky piano beats as Leger twists his vocal chords inside out on a really danceable tune. I won’t bore you with listing the albums that the songs are from, as a) fans will already know and b) new purchasers can easily find that out from the album sleeve! It’s a personal thing on my behalf, but I love Leger’s nasally vocals even more than his clever songwriting style; and the band aren’t afraid of a melody either; which is always a plus point. I guess if I was dissect these 20 songs like a Bob Dylan fanatic discovering another 37 versions of Hard Rain; I’m pretty sure that I would find that Jerry Leger’s writing skills have evolved and matured over the last 15 years; but I’m just taking this collection at face value and loving every single moment. For a Canadian singing Americana; there’s a decidedly Britishness to several songs here; with hints of The Kinks, Squeeze, Graham Parker and even Scotland’s finest export Orange Juice in the likes of See My Baby Run, Beating The Storm and the exquisite Wrong Kind of Girl ; and there are plenty of others in that vein too. For existing fans there is the inclusion of two ‘outtakes’ to get excited about; Beating The Storm with it’s beguiling guitar work and pleading vocal performance and also You Really Got It Bad which with nothing to compare it to; made my heart flutter anyway. Of the newer songs that I already knew; Another Dead Radio Star, Factory Made and It Don’t Make The Wrong Go Away sound even crisper than I’d remembered now they sit alongside their musical heritage. I know for once that I haven’t given this album enough time to genuinely select a Favourite Song; but I’m going to throw a couple of contenders into the ring and see what happens; Den Of Sin with it’s sleazy bottle-neck opening, and raggedy chorus is quite special; while any song titled Wrong Kind of Girl is always going to interest me; and this one actually lives up to it’s enigmatic title and the feisty New Wave meets Country-Rag influenced Americana of Too Broke to Die has to be one of those songs that will be an ear-worm for days after hearing it, and also a highlight of any drunken night out if you ever find it on a Jukebox. *The first issue of RETROSPECTIVE 2005-19 is only being made available for sale at the imminent European Tour, but this album is so damn good I’ll be disappointed and surprised if it’s not going to turn up on the website soon afterwards; and will be the perfect introduction to the Leger World that I’m already immersed in.
Over the last decade or so I’ve listened to less and less ‘Indie’ and the rest of its ilk; or as we like to call it here at RMHQ ‘Young People’s Music.’
It’s not that we don’t like it; just very little comes our way; but on car journeys I still take the occasional Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chefs or a couple of weeks ago; Franz Ferdinand’s first album.
Then a couple of days ago our mate Andy at Newcastle’s uber-cool Kaleidoscope Records dropped me a line asking if I’d like to hear Shields new Single/EP…….”Yes please.” Was my instant response.
Yikes, the guitars (three in all!) sound like the strings may have been wired directly to the mains; on the very, very Radio 6 friendly opening track Evidence, which is also the latest single and when singer Luke Elgie’s distinctively smooth voice enters the fray the song suddenly takes on a quintessentially poptastic life of its own; flitting between the catchiness of XTC and the edgy agitpop of the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Maximo Park which all combines to make for a fantabulous 4 minutes.
While evoking thoughts of several other electro-pop bands; I love the way Shields go their own way with very few thoughts of commercialism on the quirky and almost psychedelic Kaleidoscope while later Babel takes us into a mystical place that few millennials will ever have experienced until now.
While the overall sound that Shields create is based around a sparkling guitar and keyboards combo; they coolly don’t fit into any specific genre I can think of, and the hypnotic singing style of Rich Sutton is a truly great thing as the drive of Temporary Secretary proves with it’s punchy melody and slightly off-kilter story.
Then, of course I’m obliged to choose a Favourite Song. Obviously the single Evidence has to be a contender; but then again Formidable could and should be the follow up single, as it sounds like something I’d expect to hear at a Student Disco (if such things still exist!) but I’m rewinding back to track #2 I Already Know, which even if these crazy kids don’t realise it has it’s roots in albums by Traffic and Todd Rundgren from the 60’s and 70’s but with a very 21st Century kick to it too.
While firmly targeting the Younger Generation; and quite rightly so; this six track EP has plenty to offer the New Wave and Britpop Crowds and even old fogeys like me who still buy albums that have something fresh and interesting to offer while paying its respects to the past in equal measure.
The Flamin’ Groovies
Sonic Kicks Records/Severn Records
The New Wave Is Back With a Vengeance!
Back in the olden days when I was a music loving teenager living in a dying ex-colliery village in rural Co. Durham I would scan Sounds (music paper) from cover to cover every week and radio shows from John Peel, Alan Freeman and Paul Gambaccini were literally sent from Heaven to bring us new music that would change our lives forever.
Yer actual Punk passed me by; but post-Punk and New Wave were right up my street as they were by musicians who could play their instruments and knew the importance of a melody and a hook.
One of the most exotic bands of that era was The Flamin’ Groovies as they not only had the tunes but they looked GREAT too!
Leap forward 40 years and another padded envelope with American postage stamps dropped through the letter box. A regular occurrence at RMHQ, but imagine my excitement when I saw the artwork on the cover for the new Flamin’ Groovies album!
As you’d expect there was a semblance of nervousness as I pressed ‘play’ on the office stereo and a greasy Rolling Stones type tune came out of the speakers. Slightly confused at first I pressed ‘repeat’ and suddenly the world became a better place as What The Hell’s Going On? had me tapping my toes and then…….dancing a slow frug to it too.
What became their trademark Byrdsian Twang guitars and harmonies meets 60’s Britpop enters the fray as early as track #2 with End of the World. Oh my…..oh my……..this is why I love doing what I do! It may only be an album track; and not even the best on the record, but it’s a song that 99.99% of other bands would sell their Grannies to have written and recorded.
Back together again after a 38 year hiatus Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson manage to make all of these brand new songs sound timeless and fresh in equal measures; with She Loves You and Lonely Hearts taking us into the dark recesses of love in a way that only age and experience can write about; and those harmonies…….#swoon.
There are wonderful twists and turns around every corner; with Just Like a Hurricane out-Pettying Tom; and I Want You Bad sounding like it must have been lying in storage since 1979..
I missed it last year; but the Groovies released an actual single Crazy Macy/Let Me Rock and that must have swept purchasers back to their teens such is the excitement and dancability both induce in equal measures.
Selecting a ‘favourite song’ is proving a nightmare. I’ve even tried closing my eyes and sticking a pin in the record sleeve; but after due deliberation and relenting to Mrs. Magpie’s nagging I’m going for her favourite, the almost psychedelic Don’t Talk To Strangers, even though Cryin’ Shame which closes the disc is a rare thing of musical beauty in it’s own rite too.
Given a good wind FANTASTIC PLASTIC will introduce one of the greatest and most influential American bands to a whole new generation of music fans; while helping old guys like me re-live our youth.