Robyn Hitchcock is one of those artists whom, for many, will have a name that’s more familiar than the music he’s recorded. Often billed as the “musician’s musician”, the one time Soft Boys frontman has many famous fans, including R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. This evening, he’s appearing at the very intimate Ramsgate Music Hall on the Kent coast. He’s attracted a crowd ranging from devoted fans to the merely curious. We’ve arrived with no real expectations, but the opportunity to see such a cult figure up close isn’t one to be missed.
For thirteen years, Liv Sin was the frontwoman with Swedish hard rock/metal band Sister Sin. Armed with various old school riffs and a hard vocal style, the band shared stages with King Diamond and Slayer and drew comparisons with Children of Bodom and Skew Siskin. All things come to an end and after Sister Sin decided to call it a day, Liv embarked upon a solo career. Continuing to plough a classic Euro metal furrow, her first solo outing ‘Follow Me’ (released in 2017) was produced by Accept’s Stefan Kaufmann and featured guest performances from members of 69 Eyes and Destruction. With plenty of high octane riffery and a footing in a late 80s sound, the album had plenty of appeal for those who like Benedictum, Accept and even Sabaton.
As its title suggests, her 2018 EP ‘Inverted’ EP represents a much more low-key, moody artist. In her own words, the original plan “was to do a stripped down acoustic EP”, but the process took the band “somewhere else”. That somewhere else is quite removed from the bombast of ‘Follow Me’, but it’s a recording that long-time fans might find interesting.
At the beginning of 2018 singer-songwriter Sophia Marshall released an EP of low-key, stripped back Kasabian covers. With the arrangements finally allowed room to breathe and a decent vocal applied, Kasabian never sounded better. Barely a month later, Marshall returned with a two track digital single centred around The Pretenders. It perhaps wasn’t as broad in appeal as the Kasabian release, but her dreamy, strung out version of the Ray Davies penned ‘I Go To Sleep’ was definitely worth hearing. The third release in her ongoing covers project, ‘Song 3’, turns its attentions to Colchester’s favourite sons, Blur, and rather disappointingly, despite the title building up hopes, she doesn’t re-imagine their indie-punk belter ‘Song 2’ in a swoon-some dream pop style. That’s not to say her three choices aren’t interesting of course, since the Blur catalogue is ripe for the picking…and it’s not like they get covered very often either. Also, two of Sophia’s re-imaginings are of a gold standard – great additions to her covers project.
In February 2018, singer songwriter Sophia Marshall released ‘lin-dah’, a three track EP of Kasabian covers. She was able to take the original material – including the massive hit ‘Fire’ – and strip it back to its core, resulting in recordings that found a place somewhere between folk and dreampop. [A full review of the EP can be found here.]
Kasabian are a huge selling band but, much like Elbow, most of their output hovers somewhere between generic radio filler and just plain dull. The idea of a Kasabian covers EP isn’t necessarily one that should excite: if you love Kasabian – for whatever reason – chances are, you’d want to spin the original tunes; if you hate Kasabian, hearing someone else recycling their often forgettable songs probably isn’t anywhere near the top of your priority list.
The fact that Kasabian are a generic radio filling non-entity didn’t deter singer-songwriter Sophia Marshall. The one time Have-Nots vocalist went to school with three members of the band and uses that as a springboard for her first covers EP of 2018. The cryptically titled ‘lin-dah’ finds the Leeds songstress taking three Kasabian songs and remoulding them in her own image. For something which, on paper, sounds less than pleasurable, the results are…impressive to say the least.