Filed under: feature, voice on the verge | Tags: 2009, belladonna, interview, joanne gibson, music
voice on the verge #37: belladonna
Picture this: two Northerners, both regulars of Darlington Working Mens Clubs, happily demolishing pork pies and sipping bitter while rocking out to The Prodigy during commercial breaks on ‘The A-Team’. On the face of it, these are not the traditional interviewees of Wears The Trousers. And not only do they defy tradition, but also stereotype as these pie-munching beer guzzlers are the two somewhat stylish members of Belladonna. Claire Hill (bass, vocals) and Sarah Wilson (drums, vocals) have been making music together for 9 years, and while their music has been assigned to ‘garage punk’, they will not be shut in one box. Sweeping from flat staccato punk assertions to curling pop riffs, the girls have their own style and do not conform to any band fashion. With debut album Hey Weirdo! (the response to which might be “Who are you calling weird?”) released earlier this month, our trusty questionnaire was thrust upon the girls to clear up the mystery of how one ex-member of the Official Kylie Fan Club and one with a girlie phobia of spiders came to step up to the plate in the name of female attitude and diversity.
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: 2009, belladonna, joanne gibson, music
Hey Weirdo! ••••
Belladonna: the name of an herbaceous plant derived from the Italian admonition ‘do not betray a beautiful lady’, a notorious American porn star, and a two-piece band from Darlington with attitude. From first listening to Hey Weirdo!, the debut album from Belladonna the band, producer Fred Purser (whose roots lie in punk band Penetration and heavy rock outfit Tygers Of Pan Tang) has not betrayed band members Claire Hill (bass) and Sarah Wilson (drums). Good job really, otherwise he might have suffered from symptoms ranging from constipation to delirium and convulsions!
Filed under: album, review | Tags: 2009, butterfly boucher, claire robinson, honey ryder, joanne gibson, laura jansen, music, sarah fimm
In part two: the return of Sarah Fimm, the persistent Honey Ryder and star-in-waiting Laura Jansen.
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White Birds EP ••••½
Originally released as a free download for a limited time through her website late last year, the White Birds EP marks the return of New York’s Sarah Fimm after an absence of four years. Shedding the harder-edged electronica and general murkiness of 2004’s Nexus, these six songs cast Fimm in a slightly warmer light with production that focuses on her alluring, velvety vocals that almost seem to float over the top of the music. It’s not exactly cosy though; Fimm is playing a shady hand that reveals itself most plainly on ‘Let It Run’, which marries a trip hop-styled beat to a vampyric vocal accentuated unsettlingly by a stabs of harpsichord. Only one song, the melancholic ‘Fly’, finds Fimm at her trusty piano. Even with this comparatively simple arrangement, backed only by a string quartet, Fimm conveys all the required emotion to make it every bit as enchanting as her more complex compositions.
Filed under: album, mp3, review | Tags: 2009, autorotation, cogwheel dogs, james m johnston, joanne gibson, julie feeney, music, rebecca mosley, rhian jones
In this first batch of mini-reviews: Autorotation, Cogwheel Dogs and Julie Feeney.
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Everything Is Everything •••
What happens when a fixed-wing aircraft goes into stall? Spontaneous and continuous rolling to the right or left, otherwise known as autorotation. By taking this newly adopted name for their third album Everything Is Everything, the London-based electronica collective formerly known as Bleep take on one of the great signifiers of the modern age with all its free enterprise economics and carbon footprints. But within the smooth electronic loops and dives, enchanting string arrangements and Robyn Sellman’s ethereal vocals hunkers and lurks a flatly worded sermon indicting the ‘machine’: capitalism, pollution, supply and demand, and generally life as we know it.
Ourknife Yourback •••½
Rumour has it, it’s pretty tough to get out of Norfolk, but Norwich punk-pop five-piece The Brownies are making a roaring attempt to do so with their debut album, Ourknife Yourback. Not the chocolate kind, these Brownies are a potent mixture of one bad curry (having named themselves after its digestive consequences), a generous glug of cheap vodka and litres of hard work, sex, and adolescent arrogance, topped off with a dash of conviction. These raw ingredients have been blended feverishly with frenetic, electric strings, tenderised with unremittingly pounding drums, and finally battered with grating guitar and bass. Lashing out from the speakers like the titular wildcat of ‘Cougar’, this 10-track adolescent scream is said to be just a purr of the live energy that pouty blonde vocalist Sophie Little, Nathan Pounds, Mike Sheils, and twins Stevie and Maxie Gedge release on stage.
She Keeps Bees
Revival EP ••••
Brooklyn duo She Keeps Bees believe that music is for healing and community and should be shared through parties and basement shows. If their new EP Revival was the product of a fantasy basement jam then it had a rather distinguished guestlist; Janis Joplin on vocals, Cat Power pushing the blues influence and Jack and Meg White banging out raw rock aggression. Recorded in the band’s apartment, Revival invites the listener to join this illustrious party for a short while. You might, however, be forgiven for feeling like an intruder, as beyond the powerful vocals, the raw, insistent intimacy of Revival is what hits you hardest. Each song, whatever the tempo, is a whispered or howled passion forced from the soul.