Worms and angels
Perhaps unjustly overlooked in the Britpop bustle, Echobelly are trying hard to reassert themselves with their second album. On. Brian Donaldson wonders if a ‘Belly flop is on the horizon.
Musical voyeurism is back in vogue. ()asis have spent months in the studio hammering on their morning glories while Jarvis has indulged in supermarket sex. Across the pond. Janet Jackson embarrassed her wee brother at the MTV Awards. while Madonna seems to he intent on continuing to embarrass herself. Where are the l‘K's independent women voices'.’ Louise Wencr is too busy preening in air hostess outfits for the [mu/ed classes to be taken seriously. and Justine IZlastica is just too posh. l’olly Harvey's place as Queen Murderess is being
challenged by only one other —— Sonya Aurora Madan.
Echobelly's frontwoman and lyricist is developing her own brand of Britpop. Their new album. 021. covers dark territory which makes Courtney Love seem like a blushing Barbie. Kerb-crawling. life with pimps. sexdeath by asphyxiation and the permutations of the title (hard-on. turn-on) hint at a forceful challenge to what Madan sees as the indie- male hegemony.
The music press showered Echobelly's debut. liverymie's‘ (In! One (EGO. geddit'.’). with abundant bouquets. ensuring its appearance on most critics"
IWJ best-of lists. With 0/]. that tricky second release has now arrived and Sonya‘s desire to be loved remains unabated.
The media‘s attention is firmly focused on Madan. intrigued as it is by her mixture of coy photogenics and hard-faced interviewee stance. She takes criticism badly and has a habit of throwing copies of her lyrics at stubborn interrogators who dare to question her genius.
For the record. the other members are guitarist Debbie Smith. drummer Andy Henderson and Glenn Johansson. Johansson provides the melodic foil to Madan’s lyrics and has the literary distinction of having edited a Swedish erotic magazine entitled firm:
But can Echobelly grab their own pop niche. or are they destined to drown in the mud-slinging which is so prevalent among the Britpop brigade? Something has to give in a field so densely populated with the likes of Sleeper. Marion. Ash. Supergrass. Salad. etc.
all vying for poll position in the post-grunge Grand l’rix.
Wearing their influences less blatantly on their sleeve may be one key. A successful and distinctive third album would also help. The example of P.J. Harvey is a pertinent lesson. After two howling indie-grunge albums. at left-field career shift was necessary to maintain interest. Which. with To Bring You My [.me. she achieved.
But it may be that Sonya's nastier lyrics can only fully work encased in Echobelly's golden sugar pop. The contrast gives the words their power. With a wide-eyed grin. you picture her mouthing ‘1an every mgr/1r I'll his .\‘/(’(’])//l(' dreams nj'sex ()Il l/l(' .\‘!I‘(’(’l//I(’ lmrgsjbrpunfv/tnse and roses '. And her lashes flutter to the words be 'H sleep in the ivy/ire 'll be will: the u‘urmx and [he (urge/s '.
lat/mbe/ly play T/lt’ (image. Glasgow ()Il Hi 6.
Give us a whirl
‘I’ve just been making an apple pie. It’s only recently that the rest of us gave up our day jobs, and I’m keeping , my hand in. I was a pastry chef,’ I admits Cathy Jordan, captivating l singer and highly effective bodhran and bones bouncer in Dervish, one of the best bands in Ireland, that island sinking under the weight of fine musicians.
Out of that great line of Planxty, The Bothy Band and De Danaan, Dervish eschew drumkit and synth, bongo or brass, preferring, in Jordan’s words, ‘the music raw, authentic. We don’t . think it’s necessary, there’s no need and we’ve no inclination to go down the contemporary Celtic flock route.’
Fiddle, flute and accordion with bouzouki and guitar, theirs is an all-
elsh: from Flanx
acoustic $011M, drawn from their "3015 the flame of traditional music alive in Sligo, an area historically rich in ' traditional music. The legendary Michael Coleman, the seminal fiddler l whose American ’78 recordings kept
i through the dark ages of the 19205-60s, was from Curteen, the district south, heading towards
l Galway. But of Sligo town itself,
Jordan feels the band has been instrumental in a cultural change. ‘It was very much a garrison town, predominantly Protestant with a strong army presence. We’ve been pushing the music, and helping organise the annual festival for four years now and it’s getting big, very popular, and the Spin-off is that there is much more music in the pubs and
l all over.’
As their following increases, and the demand for them grows in Europe and England, Dervish are soon going to find even less time for recreation, having just signed to an American label and committing themselves to two tours a year over there and a couple of albums. Ah, well, if it all gets too much, she can always get out the rolling pin and go back to her day
job. (Norman Chalmers)
ty to pasr)
Dervish play the St Bride’s Centre, Edinburgh on Mon 16.
The List 6- l9 Oct I995 29