Artist: Nugent & Belle
Live: The Garage, London - December 17th
Something pretty amazing happens when these two ladies from Ireland and Scotland, respectively, come together. First noticed by industry legend Rob Dickins (ex-Chairman of Warner Music) who signed them to his label Instant Karma in the noughties as part of The Alice Band, Amy Belle and Audrey Nugent are quite simply a duo of great distinction.
After the group disbanded the girls went their separate ways for a few years, during which time Audrey wrote with several major artists including Chris Martin and Tim Wheeler of Ash. Meanwhile, Amy performed on stage with Rod Stewart at the Royal Albert Hall and went on to sign a record deal with Epic in New York. But having formed a strong bond whilst negotiating the treacherous waters of survival in a country/pop band, the two never completely lost touch and when Amy relocated back to London from Glasgow, they found themselves living down the road from one another in North London. Inevitably, it was meant to be and Nugent & Belle started jamming and writing again.
Audrey and Amy soon decided to collaborate on a new album. Self-funded and working mostly with friends and a sterling cast, helping for the love of the project, they produced an eclectic and often beautifully moving album entitled ‘Seeing Stars’. Recorded at KT Tunstall’s residential studio in Hungerford, Nugent & Belle’s debut offers eleven tracks that showcase some of the most stunning examples of female harmonies, melodious country- tinged folk and pop set to cinematic imaginings of life and love as lyrical prose.
Artists ranging from Alison Krauss through to Joni Mitchell and KT Tunstall all spring to mind, though it’s fair to say these girls have their own delectable sound. With a soft release digitally earlier this year, iTunes and Rolling Stone magazine were quick to pick up on its potential but with a physical release planned in early 2014 and a headline show at The Garage in London on December 17th Nugent & Belle deserve your attention right here and now.
Wille And The Bandits at The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham Nov.21st
inc. Album review ‘Grow’
Grow, is the latest release form Wille & Co. It follows the bands philosophy of lyrics reflecting life today, our loves, failures, politics, mankind and self respect. But, as they say, its the way they tell ‘em. My first listen through, left me with thinking ‘Got To Do better’ had a slightly commercialised feel to it, before ‘Gypsy Woman’ kicks in, with the dangers of forbidden love. Then, into another gear for a full on Wille special, ‘Try To Be Yourself’, gritty edged vocals pour over the galvanising instrumentation. ‘Under The Sun’ starts slowly with heartfelt lyrics, before Wille’s slide guitar takes it to another level as the voice fades away.
Unmistakable bass and percussion are provided by the mesmerizing 6 strings of Matt Brooks and spellbinding rhythms from Andy Naumanns. Wille Edwards, steel lap slide guitar worked to fabulous effect.
That slide, strongly evident in the weeping solo breaking into the mid part of ‘Why D’you Do It’ and ‘Son Of The Gun’, bracketed by dirty guitar and that gravel voice of Wille’s. ‘Keep Moving On’ opens with Matt’s double bass accenting the track, following on with his bow sawing through those heavy strings in the opening bars of ‘Forgiveness’, wonderful, I can see Matt eyes closed, lost in his dark rhythmic jungle. Wille opens ‘Angel’ with ‘Spanish’ flare before that heavy base and drum beat punches in, a superb instrumental that goes stratospheric 2 minutes in, soaring guitar, percussive outbreaks and that sticky thick base, before anchoring back into a beautiful groove and that slide into heaven, 10+ minutes of heaven.
I don’t know of another band quite like W&TB, they produce stunning sounds, favourites of the blues and roots festival circuit and now at gig’s playing previous signature songs like the lovely ‘Mammon’, alongside this new work. I’m still not fully sold on the opening, ‘Got To Do Better’, but they certainly do, the album is a superb collection of music, turn the sound up, the light down, lie on the floor and let it flow over.
Wille And The Bandits, produce a unique sound, mesmerizing, all pervading throughout the room and into everybody’s very soul. They have an enviable list of songs from multiple albums to select from, at the Hare & Hounds, Breakfree and the new Grow, provided most of the material. ‘Got To Do Better’, my least favourite of the new album, proved much better in its raw performance mode. We were treated to the bands take on Peter Green’s ‘Black Magic Woman’, Santana would weep with frustration if he heard WATB’s reworking, superb. It could only get better as we listen to the beautiful ”Mammon’ from Breakfree, gently delivered by Wille. ‘Chillout’ opens with Andy’s tongue drum, as Wille’s vocals sandpaper the mike, his slide is working its magic. Andy sits at the rear watching Matt and Wille like a hawk, controlling the tempo, as Matt uses his 6 string base in ways that would embarrass many a lead guitarist. ‘Under The Grove’ starts with a nice acoustic opening from Wille, Matt comes in taking bow to the skeletal double bass, as Andy caresses the cymbals and drums with ‘soft’ sticks. The blues charting ‘Gypsy Woman’ and rattling ‘Son Of The Gun’ fire, off Grow. The whole room is full of moving, musically intoxicated believers, as we build up to a full 10+ minutes of the fabulous ‘Angel’, which showcases all of there artistry, wonderful bass rhythms, stunning drums and the hypnotic sounds conjured up by the Wille on his lap guitar, unforgettable. BUT there’s more, they close to a version of Dire Straits, ‘Money For Nothing’, words fail me, I’ve heard it before, but I am still in awe of the sound from this band of sorcerers. Look out for them, they are festival favourites, with blues and roots particularly, once heard never forgotten; a word I hate but cannot avoid, awesome.
Supporting Wille And The Bandids at the Hare & Hounds, was local folksinger Chris Cleverley. With some self penned work and traditional songs, like, ‘Oh Shenandoaha’, and an acapella ‘Polly Vaughan’, very nicely done. I particularly liked his tale of the boy doomed forever to live in a church bell tower ‘The rafters’. A fine voice and acoustic guitar are his hallmark, I’m sure I will see more of Chris in the future.
Words & Photos by Graham Munn
Before the age of mobile phones and tablets for children just out of nappies, we used to use our imagination, we pretended (well us boys anyway) to be He-Man, Superheroes or indeed robotic cops, sure at that age we shouldn’t have been watching the Peter Weller starring Robocop but goddamn it he was a cop and a robot what’s not to like.
The same can be said about the glorious new single by Hey You Guys! it’s a rousing punky thrash lament to that silvery crime fighting machine, that binds humour and nostalgia with stops-starts, loud fuzzy guitars, bombastic drums, driving bass and the unique bellowed vocals of one Pete Adams, in short it’s shouty, punky anthem for those lovers of all things rawwwkkkkk.
If the thought of jumping up and down and screaming the virtues of being a mechanical crime stopper isn’t enough those HYG boys back it up with a scuzzy, feedback drenched, hard hitting, almost metallic cover of We Are Scientists Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, which see’s Mr Adams screaming his lungs out whilst Dave Draper, Oly Edkins and Ben Pemberton supply vocal harmonies and all things crunchy, personally I prefer the thrashy take over the indie pop original and I liked the original!!!!
So now this is a call to arms, I urge you to stop reading and get off your collective posteriors and buy this single, the nation needs a rest bite from the Xmas soundbites and wannabe pop star bullshit, we don’t need another yesteryear hit reimagined clogging up the airwaves, we need a hero to free us from the shackles of pop oppression, we need a cop……A Robocop!!!!
Rhythm & Booze Rating 10
Who would have thought it, a rammed to the rafters Marrs Bar on a Tuesday night all jumping on demand and hollering in unison, it could only mean one thing, the return of local ska legends Spunge!!!
It’s been awhile, far too long in fact (bar an un-announced 15 minute set a year or so ago) since Spunge graced Worcester with their blend of infectious ska pop punk, but to celebrate a newly recorded best of and twenty years in the business they’re back and sounding better than ever, but before I talk about conquering heroes there’s a couple of support acts to mention.
First to take to the floor were local post hardcore/rock n rollers, Fights And Fires, since the last time I caught the band they’ve been busy pounding Europe with their contagious racket and the constant touring really showed, the band delivered a tight and energetic set complete with wandering guitarist and a singer who spent more time in the audience than on stage. The crowd down the front showed their appreciation by bellowing along whilst the band delivered wave after wave of melodic hardcore including a glorious run through set highlight Chase The Blues. The only one criticism I can level at the band was the off microphone shouted introductions, do it once fine, but throughout the whole set, marred an otherwise impressive performance.
If you read my previous appraisal of the debut album by Hey You Guys! or indeed their album launch party gig, you’ll already know I’m something of a fan, well once again the band delivered a highly engaging, infectious set drawing from the aforementioned album, Gasp! Shock! Horror! and beyond, as the band showcased a couple of brand new tracks. Within seconds of the opening number, frontman Pete careered into the audience as the rest of the band laid down their brash punky foundation, from then on in there was no stopping them as they unleashed their fluid blend of spiky riffs, galloping drums and half spoken/half shouted vocals. Individual highlights are always hard to pick out but once again Difficult Second Album and the 3 Ronnies deserve a special mention.
What can I say about the main event, they delivered a fan favourite set (with a couple of newbies chucked in for good measure) of pogo inducing, fun fuelled, catchier than the common cold, ska influenced pop punk, inciting mass bounce and sing-a-longs. It’s impossible to argue with the likes of Jump On Demand, Ego, Kicking Pigeons, No Woman No Cry and Centrefold, it’s impossible not to be carried away by the groups energy, banter and delivery or the crowds bouyant enthusiasm. Spunge are one of those bands that weld a massive grin on your face right from the opening chord. You don’t go and see Spunge expecting indepth social commentary or mind blowing musicianship, you go expecting to have a good time and that’s exactly what they deliver.
A sweaty audience depart with a smile on their collective faces and a vocal hook or two that takes days to fully exorcise (actually as I write this Kicking Pigeons is still reverberating around my noggin). Let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long for Spunge to return.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 10