Saturday, 26 October 2013

JosieJo's great Big Pair of Tips
The JosieJo Show 5

I'm JosieJo and each JosieJo Show contains two tracks from two very different artists. There s no thread or genre linking the two tracks.This means that the upside of this is that you may just, unexpectedly, find your new favourite band even if you hated the other track in the show. So let's try you on this one.
The Empty Can are from Dudley, in the middle of the UK; what is known as The Black Country. This makes me very happy because I can describe this band as BLACK COUNTRY BLUES. With slide guitar and a lived in vocal you might expect soulful stories of lost love and hobo travels, but James Stevens and Steven Henly have much more to say than that. There's social comment and witty observations in every tune. Couple this with the almost orchestral violin of Rachel Slater brilliantly mixed in and the music takes on a life of its own. The Empty Can is on the Sticky Mamma record label and if you find them on Facebook you can download the whole of the first EP for free. This is British Blues with no buyer remorse. As a lover of narrative how could I resist a track called “The Greatest Story Ever Told”? It starts with that plucked, deep-south sound, but this is no glorious tribute to the great American Way. It is an uncomfortable comment on that element of society that just wants you to “keep your head down” and “tow the line”. Just a warning though, if social criticism and rude words are not your thing this track contains them both. The track has a wonderful classical swell that kicks butt and ends with a spine bending, wobbly reverb. I can't discern a chorus as such, only a thumping, repeated pattern that drives home the theme of the track. Life is too short and if received wisdom isn't questioned we'll run out of time. Listen carefully to The Empty can and “The Greatest Story Ever Told”

I found the last band because they supported another band we played on Round At Milligan's called Flat Stanley Got a New Hideout (you can hear archived versions of Round At Milligan's by going to and click “Listen To The Show” I also get myself to live gigs and this delivers amazing and unexpected experiences.This is how I found Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences. There is a wonderful lady called Kate Arnold who is in several bands including Fear of The Forest and Lime Quartet and she opens up her living room to invited guests and gives you tea, cake and a live band. I kid you not. The cake is great and the atmosphere is intimate, intense and quite remarkable. Her last “Living Room Special” featured Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences. That's “Thee” as in “I vow to thee my country”. You see Paul constantly plays with words in a way that had me laughing out loud which, when the audience is small enough to fit into a front room in South London, kinda gets noticed by the band and everyone else there. It's a very extraordinary experience seeing live music like this. Paul Hawkins has played both Latitude and Swn Festivals aswell as other large venues and the band includes Death In Vegas guitarist, Ian Button. All the tunes involve unconventional stories of unconventional characters. It's black comedy about a bunch of oddballs that I can strangely relate to. It's “outsider pop” which, I suppose, is, in itself, a dichotomy. Paul makes the weird accessible and the odd oddly personal. He takes the sort of strange story you hear on the next table in a pub and puts it to music.
This track “The Precautionary Principle” is best heard on headphones or really good, wide spaced speakers because it arrives from the left and leaves boring through your skull. It's about a sort of scientist geek that you imagine wants to blow up the world just to see what colour it would be as it burned or what sound it would make as all life was extinguished. However, he doesn't because the precautionary principle stops him. The subtext of the song is “I really want to ask that girl out in a funny crazy way, but I won't just in case my heart gets broken”. Break your heart anyway with Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences “Precautionary Principle”

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