Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Matt Henshaw Recommends ... The Strangler Figs

Recommending again, for the third time this week, and this one is extra special. I love this band, their music, their songs, the people and the family that surrounds them. Only in their considerably infancy they have definitely carved themselves a place as a "must-see" live band on their travels. And I'm so excited to tell you that they'll be playing at my birthday party at The Cookie, Leicester on Saturday 20th September. It's going to be one hell of show.

The Strangler Figs remind me of so much, and so many things that I like, yet their tunes strike up that perfect balance of being esoteric without being too leftfield, catchy without being in any way cheesy and timeless whilst seemingly effortlessly fresh. From the opening notes, bass rumbles, organ rolls and lyrics of 'The Attack of the Strangler Figs' you'll be hooked, or moreover, caught in their grip.

To me, this band symbolises and signifies everything that is and has ever been quality about good music and good bands, seemingly they would slot into any era and movement or scene that has ever been considered cool in the annuls of rock history, so timeless is their oeuvre. From the early days of Reefer Jazz and Blues in juice bars, through the Cavern club, Warhol's Factory, the Whiskey A Go-Go, every alternative rock scene, even BritPop, and the Deltasonic boom out Liverpool that birthed The Coral in the last decade.

Every base is covered, from whizz-kid Joel Hanson on the bass and backing vocals, James on the drums, the ship's captain Joe on guitar, vocals and songwriting duties, and he's enlisted brother Freddie on the organ and girlfriend Rosie on backing vocals, subscribing to the Jarvis Cocker theory that every band is better with at least one girl in the mix, from The Velvet Underground through to The Pixies, indeed Pulp and The Zutons.

And as well as the minor driven songs, excellence of eaches playing, mesmerising lyrics and vocals delivery, the presence of an organ sound in any band, for me has always been a key ingredient, the Matt Henshaw theory runs through, Jimmy Winston, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Booker T. & The MGs, the 60s British Invasion had The Animals and the Spencer Davis Group, plus my favourite the Small Faces, who in turn influenced The Turtles and The Doors - the latter even forgoing a bass player - my first love were Deep Purple who rode on Leicester boy Jon Lord's Hammond, and even in some of Led Zeppelin's more tender and musical moments, John Paul Jones' organ is to credit, and in the 90s two of my biggest BritPop loves Kula Shaker and The Charlatans, all revolving round the Leslie speaker of a rolling hammond organ.

And most engaging to me is that Freddie Pickering is effortlessly cool, the licks are subtle and not overbearing, and even when he doesn't play in any section of the set, like all good bands, even just sitting, or standing there, in Rosie's case, and doing nothing, if removed the balance would be lost. They're great, just great, all 5 of them ! Come out and catch them live ... Peace, Love & Tea, MHx

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