MIXTAPE: Nev Clay | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Words: Nev Clay

(In the voice of Troy McClure): Hi, I’m Nev Clay. You might remember me from such support slots as Keith Emerson, the Rainbow Girls, the Wave Pictures and Steven Adams of the Broken Family Band. It may surprise you to learn that I don’t like all singer-songwriters, even though I’m one myself. Some of them are terrible, but let’s not talk about them. In this Mixtape I’d like to focus on some I really like and rate – there’s too many to mention here in the North East – in addition to the obvious and recognised great ones like Richard Dawson, Kathryn Williams, and Hazel Wilde.

Sara Ohm – Fuck Off Noise Misogyny
I think Sara was recommended by Bandcamp. I’ve bought a few of her things, she’s very prolific, very noisy, very antifa and very angry. I like power electronics like Ramleh, Big Road Breaker and Whitehouse, and here she’s making a similar glorious racket (and an important point), just with a guitar – like a one-woman Blöm (who are also great, obvs). I’d love to see her play at The Old Police House should the opportunity ever arise.

Nicky Rushton – Snow
This song is taken from Mush’s Family Album. Nicky is one of the few folk whose songs bring tears to my eyes. I’m in awe of her lyrics, sublimely crafted, beautifully delivered, often heartbreaking. A hero. Nuff said.

Yakka Doon – Golden Plover
An astonishing debut and instant classic from Claire Welford (accompanied by Phil Tyler), who seems to have appeared fully-fledged as a great songwriter without any of the usual tentative, stumbling steps. There’s something timeless here. This is another song that brings water to my eyes. Marvellous.

Gem Andrews – Letter
I love Gem’s songwriting – clear lyrics, no cliches, good melodies and heartfelt expressions of human experience. This is from her lovely album North, which has a clean, windswept country and Northern vibe. It sounds easy, but it’s really hard to do.

Lingua Ignota – Fragrant Is My Many-Flowered Crown
I was privileged to see Kristen Hayter performing this in Manchester last year. The whole album is a towering, terrifying and heart-crushing edifice of glorious noise, with Kirsten equalling Jarboe and Diamanda Galas in emotional intensity and vocal pyrotechnics. Hard to know how she, or anyone else, could follow it, and no surprise that she’s released some choice cover versions in its wake, including Jolene and Eminem’s Kim.

Young Property Developers – You Lost Your Heart To A Local Vest Enthusiast
I first saw Paul sing at a local charity gig three years ago. He sang a song about going shopping with Pantera, and I was immediately smitten by his lackadaisical, laconic delivery and his brilliant lyrics (often delivered at such a pace that you miss two out of every three wry cultural references). Coming from somewhere that makes Ashington look like Leeds, and eschewing universal themes (which are the downfall of many an aspiring songwriter) in favour of the parochial and the banal everyday (and heavy metal, of course), he’s reminiscent in ways, but different to, Pete Dale (Milky Wimpshake, Chronicity etc.), Half Man Half Biscuit, the Burning Hell’s Mathias Tom, Evan Dando and Jonathon Richmond. One feels that some sort of recognition must await. See also Give Me A Warm Jumper, Heavy Metal Tanning Salon and I Love You, But Please Stop Talking About Radiohead’s Performance At Glastonbury. Highly recommended.

Graham Shipcote/Shipcote and Friends – Perambulating
Known and loved by many, Graham’s been a powerfully benign, understated and self-effacing presence in the North East and beyond for decades. As the impresario of the Jumpin’ Hot Club, he must have promoted hundreds of acts from overseas and here locally over the years, including yours truly – but perhaps he’s been more reticent to promote his own songs, and he’s written loads of beauties. Again, there’s a deceptive simplicity to them, but lyrically they’re crisp and considered: often celebrating the simple good things (as here, where the delights of Coatsworth Road’s Superpie feature), but also, belying that ubiquitous smile, occasional hints of sadness and anger.

Shipcote · Perambulating


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