The local scene in Cornwall and the wider South West stacks up impressively against any comparable regional microcosm, playing host to a glittering corpus of exciting new bands, all of which are richly deserving of wider recognition. This is a scene that generates its own momentum, irrespective of the general shortage of suitable venues – a situation exacerbated by Bunters in Truro’s short-sighted decision to drop its critically acclaimed B-Side live nights in favour of binge drinking promotions aimed at the carcinogenically orange. On the plus side, the energy of local bands and a good selection of summer festivals balances out this shortfall and it is often far easier to catch exciting new groups playing intimate venues than it would be in any of the major urban centres. Intrepid to the last, Mudkiss has dug deep into this fecund seam of talent to bring you the skinny on the cream of the crop.
Hailing from Teignmouth in Devon, Moriaty are currently drawing significant media attention, with a feature in Classic Rock magazine and mentions in Shindig serving to spread the word of their blistering blues beef. Moriaty’s twin powerhouses, Jordan West (vocals, guitar, filthy noises, bouzouki) and Matthew Partridge (Drums, backing vocals, ginger hair) teamed up around three years ago having served time in a variety of local bands. Moriaty then set about searing a swathe of hellfire blues across the South West’s vibrant live circuit, adding to their growing reputation by recording their debut Lord Blackwood EP, which was self-released in September 2011. The four-song set served as a showcase for the duo’s eclecticism, featuring thunderous live favourite ‘Caddyshack’ alongside the title track’s widescreen QOTSA desert rock, as well as the laconic ‘No Shoes On’ and the catchy pop of ‘One For The Mothers’. “We have broad influences,” Jordan observes, “I love country, jazz, rock’n’roll, blues, indie, house, classical, folk, metal, and on and on – gabba techno is about the only thing I can’t/won’t handle, because it’s ridiculous, but other than that, if you like a song, you like a song – all of that shit just translates in the music you make, it’s how we evolve.”
Featuring Moriaty’s filthier side, the limited run Never Too Heavy EP emerged in 2012, wrapped in a suitably rude cover. “It was entirely produced by us, from the artwork to the mic positioning,” says Jordan. “Which is why it sounds rough as rats, but it’s representative of us.” The more polished ‘Mindsweeper’ materialised as a download around the turn of the year, but supported by a lengthening string of sizzling live performances, it was the August 2013 release of Moriaty’s Esperanza EP that truly brought the pot to the boil. Trailed by an award-winning, darkly sexy video, the title track combines Jordan’s guitar wizardry and vocal dexterity with Mat’s titanic rhythms to produce a sumptuous, multi-faceted sandstorm of sound that works its way into the mind like a carnivorous earwig. Elsewhere, the voodoo zombie dance of ‘Bitten’ serves as an indication of the duo’s unrestrained live power, while a new version of ‘Moriarty’ demonstrates their continuing development. With a debut album, The Devil Has A Child, set for release in the new year, Moriaty are ready to enrapture the masses. Catch them live – they’ve been known to blast pictures off venue walls.
St Austell trio Honey are no strangers to Mudkiss, having seized the ‘EP of the Month’ back in September for their devastating debut five-track, Suckle. The trio of Sarah Marie Tyrrell (guitar/lead vocals), Ele Lucas (bass/vocals) and Sammy Downing (drums) have honed their creativity to a unique gestalt through a busy schedule of live shows, demonstrating their ever-widening creative breadth and undeniable power. Each member of the band is a genuine powerhouse: Sarah’s vocal’s are capable of blistering paint and raising hairs by degree; Ele a flailing maelstrom of dervish energy; and Sammy potentially the most titanic drummer of a generation.
Honey’s genre-defying sound is derived from a broad, well-informed palate of influences that have been assimilated and adapted with imagination and skill to create music that is both truly original and immensely powerful. Since the group’s initial formation in 2011, Honey has seen a number of line-up changes, with the current, definitive trio coalescing during the summer of 2012. While a three-track demo, released in March 2012 provided an indication of the group’s nascent power, the Suckle EP represents the exciting fulfilment of that initial promise. As our very own Kris Needs observed, “Honey unleash a rare strain of pure rock’n’roll energy lashed with the seductive panache of lethal songwriting and pyrotechnic dynamics, delivered with supernova combustion. Their recent gigs have tilted them toward world-class status, but – almost unbelievably – they also seem like they’re just beginning to warm up the hive.”
EP opener ‘Love Sick, Sick Love’ demonstrates the restrained might of Honey’s powerhouse rhythm section, as well as showcasing Sarah’s tremendous vocal range and guitar pyrotechnics. ‘Dick Tease’ dislocates any sense of rock orthodoxy, propelling the listener through unsettling and evocative stratum of sonic layers. The slow-burning ‘DFK’ provides a clear indication of the group’s well-conceived arrangements, in addition to highlighting Ele’s liquid bass contributions and affecting backing vocal. Longtime live favourite ‘Dumb Girl Plague’ finds the trio in full, unfettered flow, driven relentlessly forward by Sammy’s titanic drum salvos, before the EP reaches its breathless conclusion amid the churning aural psychosis of ‘Go Down Swingin’’
In addition to being among Cornwall’s finest groups, female punkabillies The Eyelids are also one of the most fertile, having recently taken a couple of maternity breaks, before returning for their triumphant Christmas party just days ago. The group worked their way through a number of guitarists before arriving at their definitive line up of Kelly (vocals); Louise (double bass); Michelle (drums) and Sharon (guitar) at the end of 2011. Seen live, they are a joyous experience as the component parts lock together to deliver a blistering set of songs that draws upon their 2010 Rats LP, last year’s superb We Always Want More EP, new material destined for their forthcoming second album, and a few well selected covers.
Underpinned by twins Michelle and Louise’s telepathic, rock solid rockin’ rhythms, garnished with Sharon’s increasingly adept and adorned by Kelly’s velvet vocals, the Eyelids have developed an effusive take on the garage/punk/rockabilly axis that in any sensible milieu would make them the heirs to the Cramps’ legacy. They’re that good. While their debut LP announced them as a genuine phenomenon, the blood red vinyl We Always Want More provided a breathtaking indication of their broiling white hot energy.
Running the Eyelids close for the ‘most fun you can have with your own clothes on’ award are Portreath’s Pirate Copy - Already notorious for their raucous, celebratory live performances and recently featured on BBC Radio, the sextet represent the missing link between Captain Blood and the Ramones, combining melodic punk influences with their piratical cultural heritage to produce a uniquely exciting blend of folk-infused punk rock and uninhibited fun that does for the shanty what the Pogues did for traditional Irish music.
Pirate Copy formed in December 2011, by frontman Cap’n Kernow, Ashtiki the Caveman on harmonica and washboard/drums, and The Admiral on bass. The band’s two original guitarists, Cuthroat Andy and Mysterious G, were lost at sea in quick succession, although they were quickly replaced by Johnny ‘Danger’ Danger and Finger the Cabin Boy on acoustic and electric guitars respectively. The line-up was completed by the addition of ukulele-player Scarlet van Dyke. The band have recently released their debut EP The Shape of Piracy to come, which – supported by a suitably seafaring video – has already gathered an impressive array of positive press.
Less easy to track down than the fun lovin’ freebooters are the elusive and brilliant Mister Postman. Formed in 2008, the quartet of Toby Seth (guitar/vocals); James Thurston (guitar/vocals); Harry Thurston (bass); and Liam Jolly (drums) kick up the best garage rumpus to emerge from any garage, anywhere. Despite building a fearsome reputation for their high-octane performances, Mister Postman’s approach to the whole rock’n’roll business is laid back to the point of being horizontal; they gig sporadically and are only now, after much pleading, getting around to issuing their first EP – which should be available in 2014.
Combining traditional garage influences such as the Sonics and the Count Five with the punk energy of Thee Headcoats, the group have developed a strong corpus of original material that included floor fillers such as ‘Cowboys Are Square’ and ‘No Mercy’, both of which are set to feature on the upcoming EP. Mister Postman spearhead a local garage scene that also includes mighty ‘traggot rockers’ The Red Cords (who have recently signed to PNKSLM Records and also have a track – ‘Green Waves’ – on the Treacherous Tides compilation, available now), Falmouth’s young tyros Xeno, and the superb Black Tambourines (who gave the Fall a run for their money and whose eponymous LP is available from Art Is Hard Records).
In addition to playing host to the unstoppable Honey juggernaut, St Austell is also home to Hold The Sun, whose powerhouse debut album has already fallen under the Mudkiss radar. Comprised of three master musicians (Samuel Howard, guitar/vocals; bass titan Dave Kellaway and drummer Matt Davy) the band combine a bewildering range of influences to produce something truly unique and engaging, spanning genres with consummate ease.
Similarly unique are Night Motor, the brainchild of sonic terrorist Mawgan Lewis, who adds garage influences to electronics to create a fearsome Frankenstien of sound. Recently expanded to a three piece that includes vocalist Lee Horus Dobson and drummer Matt George, the group recently supported The Orb and have released a series of breathtaking EPs on their Sharp Clicks label.
These groups represent merely the creative tip of an impressive iceberg – check them out; go to see them if possible. They not only provide inarguable evidence as to why all local scenes should be supported, but also demonstrate that the one in the pointy bottom corner of the UK is particularly special.
Feature by Dick Porter