This Covid bastard has been hanging around too long, but we will get to the other side. Anyway there is still the occasional socially distanced gig to attend and this was one of those, from the wonderful Joe Coates of Please Please You. This would be my first experience of Katy J Pearson. But before that it was the turn of support act Elkyn. I have seen Elkyn, a.k.a. Joey perform before and I have also previously reviewed a couple of Elkyn singles. I am most definitely an Elkyn fan and I was looking forward to this set. However I was somewhat disappointed, there was a real lack of clarity on the vocals, particularly on the bottom end. It felt like the sound wasn’t mixed well for Joey’s voice. Did he get a sound check? Was he singing too close to the microphone? Was it just where I was sitting? I don’t think it was the latter because the sound for Katy J Pearson was great. I don’t know what it was, but I really felt for him, the crowd, as expected, were very polite. But overall I felt it didn’t really work. So sorry Joey, this is simply my opinion and I remain a fan. The next time will work better I am sure! But regardless of my opinion do check out Elkyn’s music, some other reviews of the night paint a very different picture. (If you want to check out my previous reviews of Elkyn click here, here and here!)
As I said I knew next to nothing about Katy J Pearson, other than she is from the West Country. This date was among a number that were lined up to continue to promote her rather excellent album ‘Return’. If you like US West Coast country rock from the early 70s, or Americana and alt. country nowadays then I reckon you will love Katy J Pearson. She has the slightly warped pop sensibility that Nick Lowe possessed in abundance. On the first song she rocked like a folk rock Clare Grogan. I suspect that for some her voice might be a little Marmite, in that you’ll probably love it or hate it. Personally I love it! “Beautiful Soul” was definitely a highlight for me, a stunningly gorgeous song. “Tonight” also has the makings of a great classic. The US West Coast vibe was most apparent on “Hey You” where Katy channelled Linda Ronstadt with a small vein of Imelda May. The band were incredibly tight and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Give her album a listen and catch her live when you get the chance.
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It’s very close to the end of March and this is our fourth singles round up of 2021. This roundup once again features a special guest reviewer. I was joined for this mega online listening shindig by an ace Radio DJ, check out his Indie/Alternative Show on Jorvik Radio (Sundays 5pm to 7pm). Let me introduce you to the one and only Jake Cartledge!
We listened to ten quite different tunes from ten clearly talented bands and singers, two of whom (Moodbay and Elkyn) have featured on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem before, but I am confident that all ten will appear here again in the future. This bunch come from Sheffield, Leeds (two of them), North-East UK, the South Coast of England, Lincoln (two of them), Newport, North-West UK and one from outside the UK, San Francisco! Inject this eclectic selection of tunes deep into your lugholes! Click here to check out the Spotify playlist with all ten songs on it!
Bill – Dark, late-night jazz. I love her voice. A proper chanteuse, a real torch singer. In a few years I can imagine Caroline being a contender to record a James Bond theme. It has a 60s feel and possibly my favourite of this particular singles roundup.
Jake – An old school, vintage 60s vibe, but with a slightly more modern twist. Maybe Nancy Sinatra with some Kate Bush thrown in. Really good track and different from everything else in this batch of singles.
Jake – Definitely one of my favourites from this review session. A song of two distinct sides. It starts off with a dreamy, atmospheric, laid-back late-night listening vibe and then moves into a much more manic and urgent sound for the second half.
Bill – Chilled and even a little lo-fi at the start. Parts of the instrumentation rather weirdly made me think of George Michael’s “A Different Corner”. I love her voice and the harmonies are great. Strangely she didn’t sound very happy in the chorus, but maybe that was wonderfully performed irony. It moved into something really loud and “out there” for the second part.
Bill – A great vocal from Anna. Like something that All Saints might have done if theye were new to the scene now. Great hooks and I love the way the synths build and then drop to a great keyboard refrain.
Jake – I love this, very atmospheric with great vocals. Anna’s voice sounds a little like Kat from Leeds band Polo.
Jake – A nice, chilled start, this reminded me of Tame Impala and towards the end some of the more recent MGMT releases. A wonderful galloping bass sound!
Bill – A new take on early 80s jangly indie sounds. Great harmonies and instrumentation and as Jake said, wonderful bass. This lot are more likely to be a defibrillator to pop rather than be the death of it!
Jake – This reminds me of something from the 90s, an obscure singer whose name escapes me for now. An androgynous vocal over a chilled 90s dance sound, it becomes a little “ploddy” at times though.
Bill – The name Seagoth suggested something heavy and dark, it wasn’t. This is much more of a dance pop vein. At times like a rare Stone Roses remix. I was not hooked at first, but it did begin to grow on me.
Bill – Clearly an ode to gay sex, sadly the sexual nature of some of the lyrics mean it will miss out on airplay. I love his voice and the swirling synths that underpin the track. I think this could be transformed magnificently with a decent dance mix.
Jake – I kind of felt this was a little predictable, the drums were pretty much the same all through. Not entirely sure what to make of it, but I don’t think I would listen again.
Jake – A bit self-deprecating, with a “feeling sorry for myself” lyric, but that didn’t take anything away from it. Like Bill I felt some Depeche Mode in there. I really did not expect that vocal, very distinctive. The vocals were also very nicely layered which worked really well.
Bill – A late 80s, early 90s shoegaze vibe. I like the lyrics, especially the line “abusive relationship with myself” and that deep, dark bass line. A little feel of Depeche Mode.
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Welcome to our first singles round up of 2021, this time I am once again joined by a guest co-reviewer. This time it is the turn of one of the newer members of the With Just A Hint Of Mayhem Team, Paul Bamlett. Paul is a self confessed music nut, so he fits in well over here at Mayhem Towers. We kick off this years singles round up series with eight cracking tunes from eight supremely talented artists and bands which found their way into the world during the last few months. Elkyn and Millie Manders and the Shut Up are the only ones to have featured here at WJAHOM before, but I am confident that all eight will be back again sometime. We have artists from all over the UK; Norwich, London, North East England, Leeds, York, Sheffield and Manchester
Paul – This is great, they don’t sound like anyone else. Danceable and very current given the powerful message. This song is the perfect package topped off with Millie’s excellent voice. A very, very impressive song and performance.
Bill – A planet saving anthem that is also in possession of a brilliant earworm of a chorus. A wonderful underlay of perfectly played guitar and the use of voice clips is interesting and adds to the gravity of the message. A heavy sound full of passion, especially Millie’s vocals. This is a song that proves Millie Manders and the Shut Up are much broader than ska punk. Like Paul I bloody love Millie’s voice!
Paul – A real old fashioned sound with an incredibly strong chorus. Good double tracking of guitars and some excellent snappy riffs.
Bill – Reminiscent of the Go-Go’s at their peak. A good pop hook and melody, a kind of subdued power pop. Taylor Mitchell has a great voice and at times the guitar underlays the tune in a Johnny Marr kind of way. I want to hear more from this lot. A great band name in my opinion, too.
Paul – Some Joe Strummer style on the vocals. The horns and Dexy’s style brass were a great addition to the track. I felt that the guitar sound reminded me of A Certain Ration or Talking Heads. One of my favorites from this batch.
Bill – Nicely British with a touch of ska, while the harmonies add an almost US West Coast vibe. Funky, choppy Billy Whizz guitar and fantastic production.
Bill – Tumultuous opening riffage with a classic 70s rock vocal style. I love the guitar solo and the drumming. It feels a bit post punk but heavier and will probably be awesome live.
Paul – A great opening riff with some Kiss style in there. Maybe they should have used that same riff for the chorus. Hats off to them they sound like a great band and I get the feeling that they know how to strut their stuff like Motley Crue or Hanoi Rocks.
Paul – Great tune, the drums come in perfectly. There were a few moments where the backing vocals made me think of the Arctic Monkeys. I like this one!
Bill – Organ intro was like some kind of religious horror film theme. Very different and understated instrumentation. A very British vocal, none of that affected American style here! I also love the backing vocals on the chorus. One of my favourites of this round up.
Thanks to this vile bastard Covid-19 I went to my last gig more than half a year ago on Saturday 14th March, now 187 days later I am finally got to another gig. It is the sixth and final in the Songs Under Skies series of acoustic shows in the grounds of York’s National Centre for Early Music (NCEM). I had planned to attend two earlier shows the previous week, but illness, not Covid-19 thankfully, put paid to that. These shows were masterminded by the NCEM, the Crescent and the Fulford Arms with support from the Music Venues Alliance. I would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone involved, of all the things I have missed during lock down and beyond, it is live music that I felt the most. It was also great to meet up with so many great people from York’s fabulous music scene. Thank you Zac, Chris, Harkirit, Mikey and Marc to name just a few!
There were two acts on each of the six nights. Gates opened at 6:30pm and the first act was on at 7pm with a 30 minute break at 7:30pm while the final act took the stage at 8pm for a 30 minute set. My evening was kicked off by the delightful Elkyn with their weird, wonderful and warm folky sounds. Set opener “Seventeen” was built on Simon and Garfunkel style harmonies, soft acoustic guitars and a harmonic drone in the background. Is it even possible to have a harmonious drone? I don’t know, but this bloody well was! All of Elkyn‘s songs were quite special, “Change” was underpinned by a more harmonic almost orchestral drone. It is a new song that had never been played live before, it is a truly gorgeous melancolic chill out tune. They played the lead single from their new EP ‘Beech’ it is called “Yue” (I think). This sublime song, which rippled with raw emotion, was probably my favourite Elkyn performance. There was an extended guitar tuning session, which the band should have introduced as a strange avant garde classical guitar movement, we would have been impressed. After this we arrived at “Stupid World” which was overshadowed by the noise from the bottle bank next door being emptied. But Elkyn did not let that get them down, they are real troupers, and, wait for it, they didn’t bottle it! Lyrically the song is very powerful, with lines like “where can I go from here, I can’t flee from that” which for some reason made me think of the hardships so many of us have endured in the past six months. Check out Elkyn on Spotify by clicking here, you will not regret it.
In a rather nice twist of fate the second and final act tonight were Ilana and Crispin better known as Fawn. Why was that a nice twist of fate, well Fawn were on the bill at my last gig on March 14th. That was at the Fulford Arms where they were supporting Julia Bardo. Kitty VR was also on the bill that same night and she made her own Songs Under Skies appearance the previous week. Ilana’s vocals throughout were exquisite and very Joni Mitchellesque on the first song. “I Know Nothing” is a song all about making dumb decisions in your youth. Ilana’s voice carried a supreme range of emotion on this song, the same breadth and depth that a young Linda Rondstadt could do so well. In the middle of the set headless guitarist Crispin (he was a little tall for the small stage) left Ilana alone for a stunning, immensely beautiful song about uncertain times, a perfect theme for 2020. Her yearning vocal and deep lyrics took the evening to a real peak. “Romans, Vikings And Knights” is a song that Ilana wrote about her then home city, York. This was many years ago when she worked at the Fulford Arms. Crispin provided some spot on slide guitar on this track. Another song was an ode to another former hometown of Ilana’s, “Sleeping Giant” tells of a mountain near her old home town in the US. The story of this particular peak is that it is in fact a giant taking a very long sleep. The legend says that if the giant wakes up the world will end. But as Ilana pointed out despite the apocalyptic feel of 2020, the giant is still asleep. Click here to get some Fawn in your life, you know it makes sense!