Sundays Alternative Take: Christine Leakey - Howlite - Severed Limb - Hail Taxi - So Below - Eat the Apple

Christine Leakey - Je Danse Dans Le Discotheque Avec Toulouse Lautrec.

Background from Christine - I’m thrilled to share my latest self-produced circus inspired single that I recorded in Los Angeles and Canada, *Je Danse Dans La Discotheque Avec Toulouse Lautrec* from my forthcoming second solo album, *Wanderlust Wishing Well*.

The music video by the very talented Sandra Powers features my friends, Timur Bekbosunov (Timur and the Dime Museum and opera singer), Matthew Setzer (Skinny Puppy and he sewed his green gorilla costume), Brett Loudermilk the skeleton (sword swallower with Spiegelworld), Mario Marin as Lautrec, Ghosty the dog and yours truly, the doll.

If you listen closely to the recording, you will hear that I used a vintage foley stage (sounds like stomping and kicking leaves and a pipe around) from the world’s oldest sound studio in Hollywood now called, Winslow Court Studios. The studio has such a rich history – It was built by the owner of the Los Angeles Railway at the turn of the last century and during the 60s and 70s was owned by Liberace. You can feel the history in the room and imagine all the wonderful talent over the decades who have experienced it.

Je Danse Dans La Discotheque Avec Toulouse Lautrec is one of my earliest songs that I wrote prior to an injury that left me unable to play for years. As well, it’s one of the very few pieces I’ve written on a piano. Involved in the recording are my friends Fernando Perdomo and Matt Tecu who are in Jakob Dylan’s band, Echo In The Canyon, Kristian Hoffman (El Vez, Prince Poppycock) and more. Facebook here.

'Je Danse Dans Le Discotheque Avec Toulouse Lautrec' defies genres, however I guess it sits comfortably somewhere between eccentric, lovable and surreal. The video is delicious, as it takes your imagination into a circus of the bizarre and theatrical. Musically it twists and turns with whimsy and engaging effect. Creative and pleasing, the album will be one to look out for.


Howlite - Storm Chaser.

Background - Howlite is the reincarnation of Melbourne musician and visual artist Alison Thom. The moniker alludes to a mineral, thought to bear properties that calm the wearer and release old pains. In a way the shift is also a catharsis for Thom, who unburdens herself of her name and her folk roots to delve into pop music, a darker territory of layered vocals and synthetic sounds; freed from the past to create anew.

‘Storm Chaser’, the lead single from upcoming EP Reasons, underwent many incarnations prior to its final release, including a session with Mark Lang (Skipping Girl Vinegar) and Nick Huggins (Two Bright Lakes), at the latter’s beachside studio, which set Thom down the path of using synthesiser samples and creating loop tracks. Inspiration struck with Melbourne artist and producer Michael Robinson, and the two set about creating a hybrid of sounds, taking elements from Scandinavian pop artists like The Knife and Aurora, the dreamy guitar fuzz and soft harmonies of Daughter and a homage to the grand scale drumming patterns of Florence and the Machine. The goal was to create something bittersweet – uplifting and emotional.

“The whole EP came about as a result of a huge breakdown I had in 2013,” Thom explains. “I basically threw out all my old songs, had a huge crisis of conscience and identity and slowly began to address all the elements of my personality I was unhappy with – depression and anxieties, my behaviour in relationships, my destructive tendencies. ‘Storm Chaser’ was born from that; the constant and seemingly inevitable choice to walk into the worst situations for me, to volunteer myself as martyr or siren – deliberately leading myself or others into danger. I wanted to make a beautiful song about being a terrible person.” Howlite celebrating the release with a launch on November 11, venue soon to be announced. Facebook here.

'Storm Chaser' flows on layers of synthy sounds with the vocals gliding smoothly above. The eruption of guitar sounds as the song suddenly builds takes everything up a notch, in this catchy song.


Severed Limb - Bela Lugosi.

Background - Drastic Decline Records will release the new single by South London six-piece Severed Limb on Nov 12. To launch the single the band will play a benefit gig for 'Musicians Against Homelessness' at Brixton Windmill on Nov 12.

Since forming in 2009 Severed Limb have become stalwarts of the South London circuit and beyond. They have played numerous BBC sessions including one for Steve Lamacq at the legendary Maida Vale Studios. They have played to a full house at the Royal Albert Hall opening for Imelda May. They have released records with Damaged Goods, Serious Types and more. They were named in Hot Chip's "dream festival line-up" alongside Brian Eno and Aphex Twin. They have busked and gigged around Europe on numerous occasions. Bass player Si Mitchell taught Joe Strummer everything he knew... about backgammon.

Recorded to one-inch tape at the all analogue Chuckalumba Studios in Dorset, 'Bela Lugosi' sees the band move away from the punk skiffle sound they made their own. "We didn't want to be associated with bands at festivals who wear waistcoats, so you mutate and survive". Washboards, accordions and acoustic guitars are replaced with organs, full drum kit, and garage-heavy guitars. "The evolution feels natural. You learn your craft playing roots music in the street and then you plug in and see what happens." Website here.

It's hard for me not to think of Bauhaus (and their song Bela Lugosi's Dead) with the song title 'Bela Lugosi'. However this is a very different song. The band cook up a funky, beefy, rock'n'roll piece, with some retro vibes thrown in for good measure. Rather than giving you the creeps, this one just creeps under your skin, and stays there.


Hail Taxi - Crystal Clear.

Background - Hailing from the landscapes of Edmonton, Alberta Canada comes a humble story of a solo singer/songwriter and performer - Nathaniel Sutton. While predominantly delivering folk-based indie-rock, you'll discover deeper splashes of alt-country, pop and EDM sensibilities with eclectic influences that parallel elements from artists like Folk Implosion and Beck.

Nathaniel Sutton (aka Hail Taxi) struck some inevitable fate when he was approached by Engineer Records back in 2005 (with him being a huge label fan and buying releases over the years) and was asked to submit some of his own material to their label staff. The intrigue of who took notice to his relentless dedication/purchases as a label fan, soon realised that Nathaniel was a musician himself and developed a bond with the label as an emerging artist. This relationship would eventually lead to the release of his debut album 'Dramatic Scene' in 2005.

Now, being in his early 30's, Nathaniel Sutton returns to Engineer Records under his new moniker, Hail Taxi, and with his appropriately titled EP 'Apart For So Long'. The 5 track offering contains vibes of familiarity yet foreignness and maturity that can only be heard to understand. With the prospect of strong connections, brilliantly written music and strong work ethics, Hail Taxi is a name that is becoming more recognisable by the day; with no intentions of stopping anytime soon. Facebook here.

I actually had to stop watching the video for 'Crystal Clear' just to check out if the song was being enhanced by the wonderful images. The simple answer is no, it's as catchy without the film, together though its a wonderful combination of sight and sound.


So Below - Hard.

Background - New Zealand's reigning queen of goth pop, So Below (a.k.a Madeline North) releases her brand new single 'Hard', now available to download and stream worldwide.

Produced by Leroy Clampitt (Taste Nasa) and Aaron Short (The Naked And Famous), 'Hard' showcases North’s growing songwriting sophistication, delivering her signature synth sound combined with an undeniable earworm of a pop chorus that will echo in your brain for days. Says North of the new single, "Hard is definitely the most aggressive song I've ever written, with a pretty strong pop element. I love catchy pop melodies, if it doesn't get stuck in your head it didn't do its job!" The music video for 'Hard', directed by Susie Francis will follow in December 2016.

 After leaving her native New Zealand in 2013, Auckland’s Madeline North began exploring her vocal talents, inspired by her new surroundings. Layering heavily processed vocals and harmonies over simple yet dark laptop beats, North began to formulate her style into what would so uniquely become So Below. Wanting to carry on this darker, moodier style of electro-pop, North reached out to fellow Kiwi musicians Aaron Short (The Naked And Famous), Sam McCarthy (Kids Of 88, Boyboy) and Leroy Clampitt (Taste Nasa) to help her produce her demos and ultimately complete what was to become So Below’s debut self-titled EP, released in March 2016. With an immediate debut at #5 on the NZ iTunes Alternative chart, the track ‘Sleep’ earning Top 25 placement in Spotify Canada’s Viral Chart and ‘Far’ peaking at #22 on the Hype Machine chart, this global admiration paved the way towards international collaboration and a Remixed version of the EP followed in September 2016. Facebook here

'Hard' is the second song by So Below, we have featured on Beehive Candy. Madeline North continues to produce atmospheric music. and on this occasion, where her vocals drive the melody above a darker synth backdrop.


Eat the Apple - Houdini.

Background - A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light was a dance/theater/cabaret/glam-rock musical created by veteran choreographer/director KT Niehoff. Commissioned by Seattle’s ACT Theatre, the event was performed to sold out houses in 2010 and again in 2015. This soundtrack to that experience, set to be released on December 2, 2016, emerged out of those haunted and humidly elegant performances – a "raucous, daunting thing" dripping with an intense appreciation for the moment.

Creators KT Niehoff and Ivory Smith (AKA) Eat the Apple began collaborating in 2010. They both have a long history of projects across artistic platforms, creating multi-dimensional experimental performance work. They share a similar background and are deeply moved by both the bizarre and traditional.

This soundtrack draws on Smith and Niehoff’s diverse history, creating an end result that is both theatrical and authentic in a raw way, an album that is both all over the map and totally cohesive. It's intended to be consumed in one big bite. Websites - KT Niehoff and Ivory Smith.

'Houdini' only hints at what's in store on the fabulous 'A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light' album. The clue is in the description above that is, dance/theatre/cabaret/glam-rock musical. For me once the album commenced with 'Carny' there was no option but to listen to the rest. Recommended for those in search of different.