Miss Halliwell
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Miss Halliwell

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"Katie Fitzgerald's 27th Oct 2008"

Normally when you read a gig review, and it says something along the lines of "this band is like nothing you've ever seen", the majority of readers will raise their eyebrows and think "Oh yeah?" Well, there is a band from Amblecote who for once are taking inspiration from their record collections, and instead of regurgitating it like so many others, have produced a sound that is truly unique. Miss Halliwell is that band and they played to an ecstatic crowd at Katie Fitzgeralds in Stourbridge last night. The event was broadcast on KFFM and also filmed for their forthcoming video/music concept album "Die Son! Die!" It is a brave decision to record your first album live, as well as being filmed – with no safety net.

Miss Halliwell are a three-piece band: Matthew sings and plays guitar, Chris plays bass and Sarah plays drums. Pretty standard set-up you may think, but what they have that sets them apart from the rest is sharp song-writing, with fascinating structures and exciting arrangements. Added to this is a powerful performance in which Matthew is let loose on the audience, safe in the knowledge that the tight rhythm section will be on the beat for the multitude of time and tempo changes. Their sound is a melting pot of post-punk and new wave, slices of PiL, Wire, The Fall, coloured with shades of Captain Beefheart, Pavement and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But added to this is a dry sense of humour and real passion – something missing from the crop of bands that are emerging at the moment, bands that are more worried about their haircuts than what they are saying in their lyrics. Songs played in tonight's set, like "Dogger's Dog" contains lyrical gems like: "Social commentary is boring, it's like watching Eastenders", standing side by side with the stark yet hilarious opening line: "Dogger's dog, got his bollocks cut off". At last we have a band that finds joy in words and is not afraid to move away from convention.

Musically, you need to imagine a rhythm section that has listened to PiL's Metal Box since they were born, with glorious bass lines and open hi-hats. They are so in tune with each other that the tempo changes are smooth and natural, but loose enough to know you are listening to human beings: this is a click-track free zone. Guitars are raw, but without that saturated distortion that is so overdone, and then become transformed by delay and phase.

The songs seem to grow and flow, and like a good film, you never know where it will take you, or whether the hero will live. Added to this solid foundation is Matthew Halliwell, an anti-frontman in the mould of Jarvis Cocker or Mark E Smith, but with an uncanny skill and confidence to explode and transform into Iggy Pop or Alex Harvey. It is breathtaking. But behind the obvious musical acumen, is a warmth, a wry smile, that offsets the energy and anger that to a first-time listener may seem too aggressive. But music needs this! The radio is full of anodyne, drab, lifeless artists that are just nice. Music should be colourful and dramatic, it should be honest and it should not care what people think of it – this is Miss Halliwell's major strength. They make music without worrying whether they will get to perform it on CBBC.

After a storming set that includes songs about their home town "Amblecote" that smells of the local Chinese restaurant, and "No Hard Feelings", describing Birmingham's sometimes less than supportive venue managers, the finale is "Vacuum Cleaner" (a part of the concept behind "Die Son! Die!" Get it? If not, just keep reading this sentence), and it finds Matthew screaming "Vacuumusick sucked the life from us" before finally throwing his guitar to the floor, as feedback and delay swirl around the room.

Then, appearing from the crowd, a tall man jumps onto the stage and starts throwing punches at the singer. He is knocked to the floor and then you can see that Matthew is being attacked with a small vacuum cleaner. A wonderful piece of theatre to add to the spectacle that is finally making live music more than just that: video, theatre, poetry, sound, rhythm all combining to bring you something new. Unlike the vacuum music described with such loathing in the songs (vacuum as both the machine and the space.. the void in which popular music now seems to exist), Miss Halliwell is like a vacuum, sucking in our culture and spitting it back out, presenting it without its lies, liposuction or facelifts. Such brutal honesty and undeniable passion deserves our attention. This is an antidote to both the joke that is televised talent contests and the so-called serious bands that are devoid of humanity. Miss Halliwell is a mensch. Beautiful, fragile and in need of support, as she may be music's last hope.

- Brumlive


"Supporting The Fall Nov 2007"

Miss Halliwell. Remember that name. I will. For fans of The Fall, The Buzzcocks, Billy Childish...all class acts in my book...Miss Halliwell are a must hear. God help anyone who supports The Fall, after all the guy's a legend and his admirers are a loyal bunch (which don't always make for the most receptive audience), but Miss Halliwell were bloody impressive from start to finish, lyrically and musically. Sure they've got some rough edges and a few people didn't get it, but that's what makes performances like this really special...if you ain't dividing opinion then you might as well be Westlife. It looks like they've only been going a year or so as Miss Halliwell (in a previous incarnation some (?) of them were The Racists) - even less with their current line up - but I loved 'em. Lead Halliwell, Matthew (Halliwell...that's handy innit?) has a wonderfully sneery sort of voice, perfectly suited to the often caustic lyrics, drummer Sarah powers the whole thing along like Meg White on speed and CN Support (the stand stilliest man in rock) provides some darn funky bass. I've just listened to their two My Space tracks about 20 times and I'm still not bored. That is the mark of something glorious my friends.


Miss Halliwell put me in a great mood for The Fall. I've seen them just once. Of course it wasn't them. Mark E.Smith changes his band as often as I change my socks. Annually. So tonight was a totally different band to the one that graced The Foundry /Goldwyns back in 1997/8-ish. No matter, the one thing Mr Smith is good at is recruiting shit hot musicians and he's not lost his touch...his marbles maybe...but not his touch. The band took to the stage first then Mark entered from the left. I have to say I was a little shocked at first. He just looked a bit frail...a bit confused. Of course he's always had that sense of randomness (last time I saw him he wandered off stage and went behind the bar whilst the band carried on playing) but I doubted whether he'd even make it onto the stage this time. Of course, he did. And once up there he wandered about it like some glorious drunken uncle at a wedding, shouting into not one, not two...but at one point three (three...count 'em!) microphones. He has this technique (I believe it's deliberate) of tangling up the mic leads, knocking down the mic stands, tangling these up with the leads, then dragging the whole shebang around with him like Marley's ghost. He always fiddles with the band's stuff a lot too, jabbing the keyboard, removing the mic from the drum and finally, turning off then unplugging the guitarists amp. He wandered off stage a few times too, even performing an entire track from inside the dressing room. This was just after he'd nicked the drummers cymbol, plonked it in the middle of the stage then hit it - full force - with one of his mics. Unsurprisingly the mic thought 'Fuck this...' and broke into several large chunks (one of which now has pride of place in my collection of gig rubbish) in a vague effort to save itself. He also got one of the roadies (I think he was anyway) to sing part of one of the tracks. In other words t'was business as unusual. The diehards lapped it up, the curious first timers were astonished and it all went down as another legendary Fall gig in a career that's now in its 31st year. Amazingah.


NB: Interesting to read the comments on The Fall message board re last night's gig too. Some loved it, some were underwhelmed. Plus ca change.
- The Hearing Aid


"Birmingham Post Oct 2008"

Miss Halliwell make their back catalogue available for free download!


Well after I discovered that Copter had made their new album free for download last week, this week a real treat for you all. Miss Halliwell (no, not Geri) have made both EPs that they released earlier this year, 'Imp-Imperfection' and 'Pre-dateoralbum Launch Party' free to download on their own Shabby Records archive page which can be found right here.

Now I could bore anyone to death going on about how good this trio are, and their extremely quotable lyrics. Now I don't have to. Download the EPs and see for yourself. All comes with artwork too! Please look to donate them a few quid!

If you're a myspace user you can keep up to date with their latest gig info and goings on and all that here. They are playing next at Katie Fitzgeralds in Stourbridge on October 27th which will be a live audio and video recording. Give them some support!
- Birmingham Post


"Imp-Imperfection"

4-track EP, Miss Halliwell
The curiously named Miss Halliwell. Actually named after a Spice girl? Not sure. But the band don’t bear much resemblance to anything particularly Gingery or Spicey. They actually pedal some really retro sounding fuzzy indie-punk. It’s good stuff, especially for a man who lived through the Britpop era and was quite a fan of a lot of 90s English bands. This 4 track EP reminds me a lot of the Sultans of Ping, albeit with a west-midlands accent. And I don’t get to say that very often.

I have noticed a real swing towards bands mixing 90s understatement with New York Dolls style backing, which is something Miss Halliwell have achieved, whether they meant to or not. It’s not more than different gravy on the same old meat, but stuff like this makes a real nice change. These boys clearly don’t take themselves too seriously and know their limitations, and they use it to their advantage. Let’s see if they write the new ‘Where’s my jumper’. Have a listen. Well worth a minute.

Mike



- Punktastic


"MPH Interview 2009"

In the second of an irregular and lazily infrequent series, Matthew P.Halliwell from super schizoid skronkers, Miss Halliwell answers a few posers that were flung at him via the world wide web:



Why does your band exist?

It came into existence because I forced people to join who had never played in a band or even played an instrument before. No joke.

It exists now because of a huge amount of hard work and thought. I suppose I’m fuelled by an impulse to speak out against fashions and generally accepted trends. Musically my mind is open, I’m up for doing anything regardless of ability or worrying about whether it’s cool or not.

When you think of “Miss Halliwell” you may immediately picture Geri in her Union Jack dress but we’re here to change that. The name comes from our drummer’s brother’s old group – also called Miss Halliwell. They were around way before the days of Geri and co; the name comes from a porn film: “…lick the shit off my dick Miss Halliwell” - So that’s why we exist.

Name five albums that have most shaped your band’s sound.

This is something I like to keep fairly sub-conscious but if pushed to single out albums I could say:

“Doc at the Radar Station” – Captain Beefheart
“Dragnet” – The Fall
“Wowee Zowie” – Pavement
“Blur” – Blur
“Internal Wrangler” – Clinic
Radiohead and Frank Zappa in general.
The list could go on but I’m not one of those people who list every fucking thing they’ve ever considered to be good as an influence.

What’s the highest compliment anyone’s ever paid your band?

“You lot were good tonight”

What’s the worst thing, to your knowledge, that someone has said about your band?

Two things (both from very positive reviews of our first EP)
1) “It’s not more than different gravy on the same old meat, but stuff like this makes a real nice change.” Punktastic. com
2) “Daft but uncompromising indie rock” The Plastic Ashtray

Both of those statements are enough to make me scream.

Recommend us a good book.

“Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood

Recommend us a good film.

“Der Siebente Kontinent” or “The Seventh Continent” by Michael Haneke (1993) The most upsetting / hilarious thing I’ve ever seen.

What’s the worst advert on telly and why?

I don’t watch too much TV anymore but I saw the Iggy Pop Car insurance advert last week and it made me very sad.

I’m A Puppy by Miss Halliwell



Favourite lyric ever?

abombastics
death antiques
wrong deductions
poor instructions
mass destructions
peace antiques
singing ink mathematics
hop along with me
ink mathematics
moon to a flea

from “Ink Mathematics” by Captain Beefheart (“Ice Cream For Crow” album)

3 favourite Brum bands past and present?

There are some really tight bands from the Birmingham area but I don’t really like the music they all seem to be making. However there are a couple of groups who I do enjoy musically. The Conscripts are very entertaining live and they have some really great tracks, “Scenery” being one of them.
The Mallory Heart is another band keen to get away from the current fashions. They are an all female group who have to fight tooth and nail to survive the macho dominated rock music scene… so I recruited them into our band HAHAHA.
The Swell Maps made a couple of brilliant albums in the seventies, they were from Birmingham.

What are your favourite / least favourite things about Birmingham?

It’s not that far to drive to gigs. I live in Amblecote.

It’s obsessed with trying to be like London – i.e. “boo hoo Birmingham isn’t as rubbish as the rest of the country thinks it is, please like us” etc etc - PATHETIC

Where do you get your news from and why?

My girlfriend Sarah (who is the drummer) as she simplifies things for me.

Who incites hatred in you the most and why?

Little pricks who hang out in the library after school. They throw eggs at the book shelves and threaten female members of staff.

Anyone who tries to force religion onto people – they are stupid / evil cunts.

Who's the most inspiring person on Earth at this moment in time and why?

Myself – Matthew Phillip Hale, listen to Miss Halliwell and get a much needed kick up the arse.

- The Fly Magazine Feb 2009


"Pre-date oralbum Launch Party"

predateoralbumlaunchparty (Shabby Records). This album is a tirade of sneering remarks and character assasinations spat over a blizzard of spiky guitars. It's fleetingly hilarious, occasionally disorentating, but ultimately, utterly brilliant. www.myspace.com/misshalliwell - The Fly 2008


"Live at the Victoria MAY 2009"

Second band, Miss Halliwell, are a bit different. They come on with a darker and more experimental vibe, a la Sonic Youth and The Fall but with definite lashings of originality. I had seen some of the members in another band, The Mallory Heart, so it was interesting to see how they sounded with a different lineup. The opening track caught me from the start with a great vocal line; ‘People say that the West Midlands shouldn’t be allowed on television…its where I live’. Delivered with feeling, wit and menace from frontman Miles. The man adds a good theatrical element throughout, for much of the time singing into two microphones, one of which is heavily echoed and delayed. Other times he smashes the cymbals manically or assembles weird loops of cackles and shouts that he then plays back and overlays. The mix of male and some female vocals works very well. The songwriting is a class above 90 percent of the rest of what is out there and this shines through with glaring obviousness. There are not many bands in Birmingham, or nationally, that are doing something so original and I do hope that Miss Halliwell get somewhere with it. They have a couple of EPs available to buy at www.elementaryrecordings.co.uk and are contributing a live performance soundtrack to independent feature film ‘Die Son! Die’. You can see an extended Miss Halliwell set along with visuals from the film at Go Club at The Old Wharf in Digbeth on Saturday 5th September. Check em out at www.myspace.com/misshalliwell. - http://www.brumlive.com/betty-and-the-id-miss-halliwell-motion-figures-the-victoria-birmingham-8th-m


"Live at The Rainbow March 2009"

Saturday, March 07, 2009
Miss Halliwell / King of Conspiracy / Dead Fish / The Concept: Mk @ The Rainbow, Friday 7th March 2009

.........Finally, featuring (I believe) someone from my home patch of Bearwood, Miss Halliwell. The last (and indeed only) time I've seen them they supported The Fall (their spiritual ancestors)...at the request of the godfather of grumble himself, Mr Mark E.Smith. That's a big deal in my book. They deserved it too. Now, boosted by two new members, they're an even more powerful proposition, the clattering music more closely matching lead singer Matthew's bizzaro lyrics. At times he looks like a man possessed, a wirey young preacher ranting to anyone who'll listen...'Cucumber cucumber cut out the middle bit', 'the leaves on the trees are looking at me', 'people from the Midlands shouldn't be allowed on TV'...these are just some of his observations. And who am I to disagree? I've never trusted those leaves. Like The Fall you'll either love it or hate it (I've rarely met someone who isn't Marmitasised by The Fall) but, if you value something a little different, Miss Halliwell richly deserve to be clutched to your bosom. Check out their only MySpace track The Rash and judge for yourself...or I'll get Mark.E.Smith to visit you in the wee small hours.
- Hearing Aid


Discography

AUgust 17th 2009

'Die son! Die!' Live album soundtrack released on itunes. You'll be able to catch the film and a number of cinemas throughout the Midlands, dates still to be confirmed.

Previews of the album have been doing the rounds on the radio including BBC6music and XFM.

Imp-Imperfection (2007)

Single 'Parasol' played by Tom Robinson on both his 'Evening Sequence' and 'Introducing' Shows.

Pre-dateoralbum Launch Party) (2008)

Tracks played on BBC6music, BBCWM, London's XFM an Ciel Liquido (Spain)

A limited number of both Cds are still available through the Shabby Records Shop and will be available to buy on itunes from March 2009.

Photos

Bio

Miss Halliwell is a dangerously addictive rock group, one of those bands that you could easily get obsessed with. Based in the Black Country and Birmingham area, Miss H are a truly original outfit that makes what can only be described as passionate, humorous and eclectic music. The current line up consists of Matthew Philip Hale (vocals, lyrics, guitars, effects), Sarah Fleming (the drums), Chris Nicholls (the bass), Nicole Berne (guitar, vocals) and Fi Hodgeson (keyboard).

The third gig as "Miss Halliwell" was a high profile support slot at the Barfly in Birmingham - supporting The Fall. Their most recent gig saw them share the bill with the underwhelming Blazin' Squad, ha ha ha. Everything since then has been an exciting if occasionally frustrating mix of regular live performances, studio recordings, radio play (BBC6music, BBCWM, XFM) self releases, two new female band members and a bit of film-making thrown in for good measure.

A wealth of free downloads and pictures are available for viewing at:

www.shabbyrecords.co.uk
www.myspace.com/misshalliwell
www.elementaryrecordings.co.uk