Words by Amaia Santana
This promising compilation by The Joe Strummer Foundation couldn’t have a better opening: Strummerville A Go-Go #001 starts with a mind-blowing cover of ‘Rock In The Kashbah’ by the already a legend Ranking Roger. Once vocalist in General Public and The Beat, he continues on the stage with a renewed version of the latter. No question, he perfectly catches The Clash mood and tone, as he has put vocals on their songs several times, including this good-vibes-spreading track.
This album is a worthwhile sample of The Joe Strummer Foundation’s main goal, that is, to support budding bands as well as “projects around the world that create empowerment through music”.
I guess the compilation has also something to do with ‘Memories’, as Lazy Talk performs. This cracking five piece treats us with a smooth blend of reggae, ska and Brit pop. The song “kindly donated” to The Joe Strummer Foundation is mainly a laid-back, easy-listening one, with a rather rocking ending that makes it a proper tune as a whole.
Bill Mountain drives us mad with ‘Let’s Get It Started’ and its insanely leading rhythm, simply edgy and hectic. On the contrary, Kamino’s ‘Antidote’ is a simmered poison, whose whining-singing might make you feel a bit miserable.
A brilliant ‘Red Light’ to brighten your path though, courtesy of Bella Figura, a London-based band, briefly self-described as ‘HEAVY GROOVE’ (I assume that the capital letters are not a sign of anger but enthusiasm). Rather The Cure/Depeche Modesque, this track orbits a certain post-punk mood, and it’s deep, sparkling dark.
‘House Of Mirrors’, by Armchair Committee, gently welcomes us to a gloomy dwelling. Rather jazzy and also bluesy at some points, it is worth paying attention to Ballin’ Jacks’ ‘Headstrong’: “Don’t wanna lose you…”.
Dark and silent, Noel O’Brien’s ‘Yet To Come’ will very likely enthral you thanks to its mesmeric chants and acoustic guitars.
Alexandra Jayne’s ‘I Won’t Break’ turns incredibly sweet, soothing and heart-breaking at the same time. Far from any soul misery, you could easily meet the outstanding Gemma Rogers & the Mil Men down in the pub. ‘My Idea Of Fun’ is a ridiculously catchy hit, seriously cheeky and funny. My idea of fun = a bottle of rum. Have a look at their music video, it’s as funny as you could expect and it has a really nice art work. Nice and handsome staging by writer and performer Gemma. “The quids would run out of the meter so there was nothing else for it but to sit around and tell stories in the darkness – no one could afford candles either”, they admit, unashamedly.
Fairy tales based on bare facts. If they’re around you, it is clearly a not to be missed show.
My favourite track comes by the three piece from Brighton The New Thieves, ‘Idiot’. Gorgeous intro, kind yet disturbing rhythm, unfiltered voices that appear as an evil alter ego you shouldn’t get along with…
Bless’ ‘Daddy Didn’t Make It As A Rockstar’ has a taste of some kind of nostalgia, the title itself saddens me a bit… Never mind, the next track is powerful, always reassuring classic blues rock: ‘One Of These Mornings’, by Bare Hunter. These “dirty-dirt-blues-rock-psychedelia” Londoners have recently released ‘Esmeralda’, a quite rowdy tune, energising and healthfully ruthless. Special mention to their peculiar Spaghetti Western like front man. Beware of the Bare Hunter, then.
One Eyed Wayne’s ‘Various Artists’ is just classy and very Clashy. They’re from Hornsey (North London) and they’re fully equipped with cajon, melodica, mandolin, harmonica and acoustic guitars.
Last but far away from least, Astrid’s Tea Party choses ‘Black Swan’ for this album, a smooth pop tune: great vocals and a subtle synth touch.
Overall, this is a thorough, rich and varied compilation, a solid sample of real more-as-we-get-it talent. Strummerville is definitely a shelter where aspiring musicians can find inspiration and hope.