Archives for posts with tag: Joanna Gruesome

Here’s a welcome guitar pop resurrection of sorts, a contemporary UK band channeling some of that magic melodic jangling power-pop associated with the likes of Big Star, The Replacements, and Teenage Fanclub et al. Ex-Vöid, formed by Joanna Gruesome singers/ guitarists Lan McArdle and Owen Williams, take those familiar precursors and add an occasional blast of hardcore punk ferocity to keep the sweetness under control. “Chemical Reaction” is from the album “Bigger Than Before” recently released on UK label Prefect Records, and also New York punk label Don Giovanni Records.

“Bigger Than Before” is jam-packed with ultra-melodic pop hooks. I was playing Teenage Fanclub’s classic early album “Bandwagonesque” earlier today before coming across Ex-Vöid. There’s something about the paired lead vocals, the harmonies, the lyrics, the fuzzy jangle and glorious songcraft here that is just as thrilling to hear today as “Bandwagonesque” was all those years ago.

Prior to this album, McArdle and Williams released two EPs as Ex-Vöid: 2018’s Ex-Vöid and 2019’s Only One. McArdle departed Joanna Gruesome in 2015 after fronting the band in its earliest years, last appearing on the group’s second album Peanut Butter. Williams was also in Grubs, and Two White Cranes along with Roxy Brennan, one of the two singers who replaced McArdle in Joanna Gruesome in 2015.

In additional to the previously mentioned former Joanna Gruesome members Ex-Vöid is completed by bassist Laurie Foster and drummer Jonny Coddington. The album is said to be recorded in just over an hour in a studio in Hackney, with minimal overdubs and no breaks, which may explain the uncorked energy here.

two white cranes_greyscale
two white cranes hail from Bristol in the south west of England. Here’s the first track from their recently released album “Radisson Blue”.

two white cranes on the album is Roxy Brennan, along with Dan Howard and Owen Williams.

PopLib has previously featured another band Roxy and Owen are in – Grubs. Grubs have an album coming out next month called “It Must Be Grubs”. Owen is also in Welsh noise-pop band Joanna Gruesome and now Roxy has joined as one of the two replacements for vocalist Alanna McArdle.

“Radisson Blue” is the second from two white cranes in a year. It is just guitar, bass, drums and voice – sometimes just guitar and voice – but it is all the more captivating for the way the air and space in the music draws in the listener to what takes on the character of a personal performance.

There’s an air of modern urban folk about songs like “I tried” and “Coach Trip” in particular. There’s also a reminder for me of the earliest singles by one of my favourite US bands in the 90s – Crowsdell – who used a similar twisting tangle of melodic guitar to weave musical strands around a distinctive voice to create mesmerising songs.

Bristol has a strong history in producing beguiling folk-influenced pop well outside the mainstream of the ‘alt.indie’ music, being the home of 1980s/1990s indie-pop big hitters Sarah Records and The Subway Organisation. This is a whole different era but there’s still a bit of that wilfully independent spirit there. Seek it out.

Grubs (via their Facebook page)

Grubs (via their Facebook page)

I have to thank Bill from the exemplary new music discovery radio show Human Pleasure broadcast on RDU in Christchurch for alerting me to this small – 1 minute 26 seconds! – gem from Bristol three-piece Grubs.

It’s only one song and Grubs are pretty new but I really hope to hear more from them. Maybe some ‘name-your-price’ download generosity from us all will encourage them.

This matters because ‘Dec 15th’ has an elliptical pop charm I just can’t shake. There’s simplicity of guitars & drums and voices (so meeting the indie-pop purity laws of K Records’ & Beat Happening Calvin Johnston) but also some chiming circular complexity in the way the voices and guitars are used, like one of those childhood folk songs ’rounders’. As a result it is pleasingly non-formulaic fuzzy jangle pop and I like that and want to hear more. Much more.

Can’t find much about Grubs. They are Owen, Roxy, Jake. Guitar, guitar, drums. Made up of Joanna Gruesome / Trust Fund members though which is as much an indicator of their pedigree & future potential as it is a red herring.