It’s the middle of December and there’s a conflicting mood in the air. People are gearing up for Christmas so there’s a bustling feel to the city, yet at the same time, it’s the night after a General Election so any excitement is contrasted by the dread of another five years with a Conservative government increasing austerity measures and generally widening an already massive divide between rich and poor.
Taking his place at the mic stand on a sparsely decorated stage, the legendary Jim Bob seems aware of this mood. “I feel like I should say something…profound” he tells the audience, before even playing a note. Quite how profound a man could be while wearing a gold sparkly jacket and sunglasses on loan from The Banana Splits is anyone’s guess. “…Or we could have a sing-song”, he beams, before launching into a stripped down version of Carter’s ‘Is Wrestling Fixed?’, its opening lines greeted with a huge roar. It’s a great performance, but drawing more heavily from the whimsical than the energetic, its a less-than-obvious opener. Nevertheless, the front half of the audience is hugely receptive and even in the bar areas nearer to the back of the venue, bellowing voices are more than evident. Digging further into the Carter back catalogue, the fantastic Billy’s Smart Circus whips up the audience further into a shouting mass – this first dip into the fan favourite ’30 Something’ album boding well for the rest of the set.
Comprising the talents of Evan Effres and Jon Swan, both of whom wield acoustic guitars and show a love of a simple vocal harmony, it’s impossible to hear Night Market and not be transported back into the world of the sadly missed Eric Lowen & Dan Navarro. Their second EP, 2019’s ‘White Seasons’ very much marks the duo as an act that deserve more attention, since its three songs are finely crafted, soft and often have a mood that gently lifts the spirits.
In the summer of 2018, singer-songwriter Fred Abong released his ‘Homeless’ EP, effectively returning him to the world of recording and live performance. In support of the disc, Fred made extensive appearances across the UK with Kristin Hersh, including a very memorable show at Ramsgate Music Hall on a very hot Sunday night.
Unleashed into the wild on the eve of a second UK tour with Kristin, ‘Pulsing’ in many ways, is a logical continuation of ‘Homeless’. While half the EP takes an electric stance, fans of Abong’s previous release will find an immediate kinship in its deliberately introspective vibe.
Mixing pop, acoustic singer songwriter chops, a touch of dream pop and a light country steel guitar, Sophia Marshall’s previous covers EPs have delivered at least one track apiece that’s been absolutely marvellous. She’s turned the melancholy of Blur’s ‘End of the Century’ into something even more heartfelt, while The Kinks’ ‘I Go To Sleep’ – already drenched in sadness – became even sadder, with her lilting vocal style dripping from every syllable.
Whilst previous EPs have been themed by artist (The Kinks represented via a cover of a Pretenders cover), ‘Loose Torque’ is themed by subject. The three featured tracks are all concerned with cars – and in a big surprise, there’s nothing included by Gary Numan or new wave legends The Cars. Maybe those synth heavy sounds just wouldn’t translate. Instead, Marshall has chosen three pop and rock tunes from three rather disparate artists which. when applied with her own easy style, results in something that flows very well.
Formed by ex-Screeching Weasel guitarist John “Jughead” Pierson in 2002, Even In Blackouts were formed with the idea of bringing a new acoustic twist to pop-punk sounds. Active for seven years, the band featured a line-up centred around Pierson and vocalist Liz Eldridge.
Contributing members included ex-Screeching Weasel/Rise Against drummer Dan Lumley and former Teen Idles guitarist Philip Hill. The band released four full length albums during their life-span, but none of those were ever issued on vinyl.