Posts Tagged ‘Martha’

Martha album cover

After sharing the excellent, “Heart Is Healing” back in the middle of the musical dead-space that is December, we kind of knew those loveable Durham scamps Martha were up to something exciting. This week the quartet have confirmed the April release of their third album, “Love Keeps Kicking”, as well as sharing the title track from it. The record will be their first on their new musical home, Big Scary Monsters.

Accompanied by a sci-fi alien invation pastiche video, a metaphor for the War Of The Roses or athlete foot depending on how you look at it, Love Keeps Kicking, is a tale of the universality of heartache, as Martha put it, “what better metaphor is there for the inevitability of a broken heart than the swift kick of a giant disembodied foot?” Musically, it continues the subtle evolution showcased on Heart Is Healing, the anthemic-punk they do so well, given a poppy, almost country twist courtesy of prominent bassy-pulse and occasionally fabulously bombastic guitar-soloing. Sure, heartbreak could be lurking round any corner, yet with Martha’s break-up album to guide you through,

Our third album, also entitled ‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is released April 1st via Big Scary Monsters and Dirtnap Records (US).

‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is Martha’s new single, out 28th January 2019. Available everywhere digitally via Big Scary Monsters / Dirtnap Records.

Let’s hear it for part-time punks: the musicians who go to work by day so they can get to work at night, and who give the man 40 hours a week rather than let him dictate the terms of their art. It’s a sacrifice most of us won’t make to pursue our passions, especially when it’s so much easier to consume than create.

Martha is one such band trying to balance the desire to keep it DIY with the demands of increased popularity. The British pop-punk group — Nathan Stephens Griffin on drums, Naomi Griffin on bass, J. Cairns and Daniel Ellis on guitars — released one of the best guitar albums of 2014 in Courting Strong, and has spent the two years since touring the U.K. while holding down day jobs and school obligations. It’s been exhausting but necessary for a band determined to operate outside the traditional music industry.

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Martha are from a small, former mining village in this case, sentimental anarchists Martha, from a town in Durham that is literally called “Pity Me,” write from a working class experience that often gets sidelined by London-centric politics. Whether it’s falling in love with someone at the supermarket after seeing them “getting bollocked” by their supervisor, forging passion “under a four pound box of wine,” or something as simple as name-dropping Countdown or saying “mam” instead of “mum,” Martha’s punk-laced pop singalongs are both playful and devastating depending on how long ago your last breakup was.  At the heart of it, Martha are as lovesick as the rest of us. They just know how to express it in ways that make you want to drink some unfavorably cheap booze and have a dance.

 Martha’s new album, Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart, doesn’t disappoint in that respect. Protagonists range from twentysomethings stuck in “neoliberal precarious employment” (“Precarious [Supermarket Song]”), 20th-century anarchist Emma Goldman (“Goldman’s Detective Agency”), envious outcasts (“The Awkward Ones”) and Catholic-school queers (“St. Pauls [Westerberg Comprehensive]”). And, thankfully, Cairns and Ellis haven’t outgrown the cathartic three-chord punk burners that made Courting Strong so much fun (“Christine,” “Chekhov’s Hangnail”), either.

THE JULIE RUIN – HIT RESET
Julie Ruin return with ‘Hit Reset’ which expands on the band’s established sound: dancier in spots and moodier in others, with girl group backing vocals and even a touching ballad closer. ‘Hit Reset’ is the sound of a band who have found their sweet spot. Kathleen Hanna’s vocals are empowered and her lyrics are as pointed and poignant as ever. From the chilling first lines of ‘Hit Reset’ (“Deer hooves hanging on the wall, shell casings in the closet hall”) to the touching lines of ‘Calverton’ “(“Without you I might be numb, hiding in my apartment from everyone / Without you I’d take the fifth, or be on my death bed still full of wishes”), Hanna takes a leap into the personal not seen completely on the first album or possibly even in the rest of her work.
LP+ – Limited Rough trade Exclusive – 500 Copies on Neon Pink Vinyl with Download.
LP – Black vinyl with Download.
LP/MP3 – Limited Indie Shops vinyl – white vinyl with Download

The Rave-Ups, Town + Country [Expanded Edition]

Omnivore offers a 30th anniversary expanded edition of The Rave-Ups’ Town + Country.  The band may be best known for its appearance in the film Pretty in Pink, but this reissue proves there’s plenty more to the group.  The reissue of this lost Americana classic produced by Stephen Barncard (Grateful Dead’s American Beauty) features the original 10 songs, plus 11 previously unissued bonus tracks-including live radio performances recorded for Deirdre O’Donoghue’s KCRW-FM program Snap and material produced by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and longtime Beach Boys associate Mark Linett.  The Rave-Ups’ Jimmy Podrasky supplies the new liner notes!

OF MONTREAL  – INNOCENCE REACHES
The project’s 14th LP follows two full decades of mercurial creative mania: swallowing up ’60s psych-pop, Prince-ly funk, and glammy prog in turn; morphing freely between full-band affair and cloistered confessional booth; comprising lyrics both painfully personal and absurdly fantastical; and recently drawing site-specific inspiration from culture capitals like San Francisco or New York City. The thread that runs through it all is Athens, GA’s Kevin Barnes, and ‘Innocence Reaches’ finds him at his most light-hearted in years, working a Parisian stint, Top 40 sounds, and his newfound single status into the kaleidoscopic swirl. ‘Innocence Reaches’ features darker moments to be sure – isolation, anger, indifference, and the feeling that, like a Truffaut film, madness lurks just outside the frame.
LP – 180-Gram Light Blue vinyl with download code. Packaged in deluxe gatefold jacket with 18×24 David Barnes-designed poster.
Tape – Limited Lime Green Cassette.

GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV – GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV WITH THE COLORADO SYMPHONY
Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony marks a milestone for the Colorado-based singer-songwriter, re-imagining songs from his previous three studio albums– The Weatherman, This Empty Northern Hemisphere, and That Sea, the Gambler –along with the debut studio recording of “Liars,” a fan favorite and staple of his live shows for many years. With orchestral arrangements by Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa) and Jay Clifford (Jump, Little Children) and with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s Scott O’Neil conducting nearly 70 classical musicians, the songs are cast in new and revelatory hues.

CLINIC / SEX SWING
TAPE FOR JASE / NIGHT TIME WORKER
Very limited split 7″ repress on sexy Brown Vinyl from Liverpool’s legendary psych overlords Clinic backed with blood-pumping shadowy noise from London’s Sex Swing featuring Mugstar, Part Chimp, Earth, Dethscalator and Dead Neanderthals members. Released on God Unknown Records and beautifully packaged.

JOANNA GRUESOME
PRETTY FUCKING SICK (OF IT ALL)
Blue Coloured Vinyl 7″ (Limited to 300). Joanna Gruesome release their first material since the departure of vocalist Alanna McArdle on this limited edition coloured vinyl 7″ on the Fortuna Pop! Jukebox 45s singles club. Following a chance meeting in an occult bookshop, the band’s new line up features two amazing and inspiring women, Kate Stonestreet (formerly of queer punks Pennycress) on melodic vocals / shouting / screaming and Roxy Brennan (of Two White Cranes and Grubs) on melodic vocals / keyboard, joining Owen Williams (guitar / vocals), George Nicholls (guitar), Max Warren (bass) and Dave Sandford (drums). The record features original artwork from Bart De Baets. Recorded by producer Rory Atwell on a boat in London, a statement from the band on ‘Pretty Fucking Sick (Of It All)’ reads, “This song is about being pursued by intelligence operatives and is partly set in the Welsh village of Llangrannog. It is influenced by our recent U.S tour, during which the CIA took a special interest in the group’s movements.” On Occult Bookshop the band says, “This is an origin story, detailing the first meeting of the group. It is also about using astrological means to strengthen, receive and administer crushes. Another reading suggests that the song is about attempting to destroy binary conceptions of gender through ritual hexing.”

Image of Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

Martha –  ‘Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart’

Martha return with their second album. Produced again by MJ from Hookworms, the album explores the difficulties in staying political, staying passionate and staying punk over the course of eleven expertly crafted pop songs. Hailing from Pity Me near Durham, Martha play energetic, impassioned power pop with intricate vocal interplay and lush four-part harmonies, informed by 90s indie rock and contemporary garage punk. The band is comprised of J. Cairns (guitar), Daniel Ellis (guitar), Naomi Griffin (bass), and Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums). All four members sing and write the songs. Daniel and Nathan also play in Onsind, while Naomi also plays in No Ditching.

Their debut album “Courting Strong” came out in 2014 and was included in the top 50 albums of that year, winning them the epithet “One of Britain’s best rock bands”. If the band’s first album, ‘Courting Strong’, was about punks growing up, then ‘Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart’ is about grown-ups staying punk. It’s an album about trying to stay creative and passionate and making the most of everything in spite of the many obstacles that get in the way. It’s about finding strength and solace in friendships, love, and taking motivation from the people in your life who really inspire you. Taking inspiration from such likely and unlikely sources as The Replacements, Heart, Billy Bragg, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, The Go-Gos and Radiator Hospital, the album bursts into life with “Christine”, “a love song filtered through the messiness of anxiety and night terror” that takes inspiration from “Threads”, the British TV drama of the 1980s about nuclear war, and is followed by the rousing “Chekhov’s Hangnail”, with backing vocals from Ellis Jones of Trust Fund. The catchy “Precarious (The Supermarket Song)” finds romance in the washing powder aisle, while “Goldman’s Detective Agency” shows the band’s playful side as they re-imagine 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private eye vanquishing corrupt cops and politicians.

Nearly every song here is a potential single, from the infectious “Do Whatever” and “11:45, Legless In Brandon” to outsider anthem “The Awkward Ones” and the Billy Bragg / Coronation Street-referencing “Curly and Raquel”. The album concludes with “St Paul’s (Westerberg Comprehensive)”, a song about being caught up in the toxic culture of a Catholic comprehensive school. “It’s for the kids who had the guts to be queer at school and for those who didn’t figure themselves out until they got out of school.

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Taking their cues from garage punk and 90s indie rock,  Martha play energetic, impassioned power pop with intricate vocal interplay and lush four-part harmonies.

They will release their second album Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart in July via Fortuna Pop!, and the first single from the album is Goldman’s Detective Agency, which shows the band’s playful side as they re-imagine 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private eye vanquishing corrupt cops and politicians.

Taken from the album ‘Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart’
Coming Out July 2016 via Dirtnap Records (USA) and Fortuna POP! (UK)

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Is this an EP or simply a split single? “When it rains, well it really fucking pours” sing Martha and they’re right, if an EP with one brilliant band on it counts as raining then this EP with two brilliant bands on it definitely counts as pouring. A total deluge would be more accurate. This record is a marriage made in indie/pop/punk/lo-fi heaven. Bonus Points for breaking down the North East England / Pennsylvania divide .We are a rock band of rockers who love to rock. We also can be just one person who is much quieter but still loves to rock.

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First song ‘Cosmic Misery’ is all upbeat guitars “alive” vocals and is perhaps the most upbeat of all the songs here, ascending harmonies building to its natural “yeah, yeah, yeah” conclusion setting the template for the lush melody-bound indie-punk that follows. And while not scared to heavily reference point places and events from their childhood ‘1997, Passing In the Hallway’ opens with the drab couplet “we met when we were seven/ now we’re both in year eleven” but counters this with the slick chorus refrain “I’ve been so anaemic/ since you broke my double helix in my heart”. It’s sweet and sour; picture and frame stuff, as if it was written in year 11 but recorded in sixth form. It’s like the ghosts of me and Vicky Moorhead still haunt the corridors of B Block.

‘Bubble In My Bloodstream’ starts off as relatively dark as this record ever gets before, one third of the singing team, Naomi, jumps in with her bouncing to be heard, super slick, quick-rhyming part and it’s hands-in-pockets, gun-over-shoulder, rolling indie gentry-superb, the type of Joanna Gruesome-with-actual-tunes Fortuna Pop! was made for.

And with the band currently on a Scandinavian jaunt still in support of Courting Strong and two members making up punk-folk local heroes Onsind they are showing no signs of being a flash in the pan either.

The guitar solos on Courting Strong, when they do appear such as on ‘Dust, Juice, Bones and Hair’ and ‘Present, Tense’ are cute as pie-charts while the boy/girl trade-offs continue apace throughout. It’s sooo infectious. Even the commas and brackets in their song titles are all loveably indie and kitsch.

Then when you think you’ve got the perfect pop album on your hands they step it up another level, in fact the final segment of the album is so obviously more mature as though they were learning so quickly from their mistakes as they went and only cementing their DIY record-as-we-write ethos as they wrap up the sessions. The “I know it hurts right now/ but these moments help us grow” key change in the sublime ‘Gin And Listerine’ and repeat refrain “I miss you/ I’m lonely” on ‘1967…’ are oddly grown-up sentiments in the context of the rest of album until I realised that for all the vocal interchanging and cutesy harmonies Courting Strong is really the great coming of age, unrequited love album every self-effacing indie decade needs. She wants to hold hands and he just wants to play at bands; daffodils on Palace Green, jumpers for amps.

But it’s ultimately an optimistic record and by the time closer ‘So Sad (So Sad)’’s false-intro piano collapses into one final pop-punk, Weezer meets the Buzzcocks, hurrah. It’s meatier than most of the rest of the album perhaps giving away some heavier influences but that camp chorus is Martha in a nutshell and a fitting ending to a tremendous debut.