Earlier this week I had just such an epiphany. If you're of a certain age you'll remember what it was like to listen to John Peel's radio show late at night in the late 70's and early 80's. While closing-time, adult Scotland drank itself into mawkishness or aggression you'd be curled up in bed, ear close to a tinny, fading radio signal with winter howling outside. John, God bless him, would play a stodgy Led Zeppelin track followed by some interminable reggae number... and then, just as your sleepy wee head was beginning to nod- BANG! Suddenly John was playing 'Dead Pop Stars' by Altered Images for the very first time and within a minute you knew what 7" you were spending your pocket money on in Stirling on Saturday.
The Botched Fairytale album cover
I'm glad to say that I had one of those moments this week. The band is called...well the band doesn't officially have a name, but unofficially people have assumed they're called Botched Fairytale. In actual fact, Botched Fairytale is the forthcoming debut album by Mariel McCormack (vocals, percussion and instrumentation) and Marie O Hara (percussion and instrumentation) from Co Longford, Ireland. Although the band was formed in 2008 the girls haven't yet committed to a band name. Quite right too! While most bands fuss over such minor details this audacious pair just go straight for the musical jugular in spectacular fashion.So what do they sound like? The girls gave me the following self-description:
We write atypical Irish ballads and Irish folk songs inspired by the album title. The songs are about excess and failure and we like aggressive instrumentation and vocals. At times (for example in The Flats) we play botched traditional Irish music using; whistle, accordian, acoustic guitar and mandolin. Other times we use squealing guitars and percussion; using large metal sheeting, milk cans and piano innards combined with snare and bass drum. We are influenced by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and The Pogues.
I'm sorry but, while it's no doubt accurate, that description just doesn't do their incredible sound any justice. After I first heard them, I asked the girls if they were influenced by my all-time favourites; avant-garde, girl-punk band The Slits and charmingly they admitted that they had heard of them but weren't familiar with their music. Amazingly, these two precocious young Irish musicians are somehow unconsciously channeling the sound of the truly exceptional, pioneering, post-punk bands like The Slits, The Pop Group and The Raincoats and yet very much making it their own with a sublime traditional music twist. When I first heard them I immediately knew that they were exactly what I'd been waiting to hear for the last ten years. If I hear a better song this year than the duo's The Flats then I'll quite happily lie down and die.
The Flats by Botched Fairytale
Hyperbole? No, I don't think so. I don't want to talk about myself but, briefly, I've spent many years on my own musical projects (see Sighrens for instance) and my holy grail was always to produce something that was influenced by left-field, experimental and indie music but was also unselfconsciously folky. It's maybe a Celtic thing, but in Scotland and Ireland it wouldn't be unusual to have a whistle, harmonica, accordian or mandolin lying around as the main instrument in the house. This sounds awfully odd said out loud, but it's been my goal for a long, long time to hear a young band who sound as though they've picked up those traditional instruments and just made music with them in a totally uncontrived way; not attempting to do 'trad' music but just making their own kind of noise with what's to hand (like Granddad did in the Punk wars). Well, now I've heard it, and boy it's every bloody bit as good as I thought it would be!
Don't believe me? Have a listen to these tracks (below) from the duo's Soundcloud page and then go and download them and tell everyone, absolutely everyone, you know about Marie and Mariel.
All Cylinders by Botched Fairytale
Steelcapped Toes by Botched Fairytale
Chasers by Botched Fairytale
All of the music is written, performed, mixed and mastered by the duo . The album will be available soon. Keep an eye on 'Streetlamp' for the details. You can also go visit the myspace and last.fm pages and leave a nice comment.