Rose McDowall (of Strawberry Switchblade)

Rose McDowall (of Strawberry Switchblade)

Dark Blue

Sun, May 21, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

PhilaMOCA

Philadelphia, PA

$15.00

This event is all ages

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Rose McDowall
Rose McDowall
Cut With the Cake Knife was recorded by Rose McDowall in 1988 and 1989 following the break up of her group Strawberry Switchblade. Produced with the aid of several musicians in several studios, the album features songs written for the fabled second Strawberry Switchblade album. More importantly, perhaps, it showcases the honest, direct and life-affirming songs of one of the greatest unsung songwriters of the modern pop era at a tumultuous time in her career.

Like the veiled melancholy of her former group’s hits, Cut With the Cake Knife hints at a darkness beneath the gloss, a darkness that saw McDowall delve into more esoteric territory with her subsequent recordings and collaborations. Cut With the Cake Knife serves as the bridge between the pop music McDowall had been making with her friends Jill Bryson, Lawrence from Felt, and Primal Scream to what became a more extreme, deep sound informed by neo-folk and post-industrial music.

Rose McDowall’s role in the canon has always been one of an outsider. Beginning in Glasgow’s East End in the avant proto-noise group The Poems, achieving fame briefly in the ’80s and then disappearing into counter-cultural folklore, the emphasis in the internet-age has been skewed towards her image and cultural significance. Unseen to many, her solo work, her groups Sorrow and Spell, and her collaborations with a whole host of underground luminaries have still touched lives. As McDowall elucidates: “They’re real sad songs, about real life. I’ve had people come up to me to say I’d connected with them and helped them. I remember a gig in America when we made a whole room cry. It was bizarre. A couple at the front of the stage started crying and then these two boys beside and suddenly everyone was crying. And I thought, ‘that’s power.’”
Dark Blue
Dark Blue
Dark Blue follow up their debut LP, ‘Pure Reality’, with ‘Start Of The World’ (12XU) – a soundtrack of a decaying United States. Each song drips with the realities of atrocities happening all around us ; John Sharkey III (Vocals, Guitar) pushes Dark Blue far beyond the post-punk meets oi sound they perfected on their earlier releases, and adds elements of brit-pop and shoegaze. Recorded by Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, Nothing), ‘Start Of The World’ is a pop album that makes no apologies.

Boot stomping opener “Union of Buffoons,” sets the political tone for this album with an anthem for workers’ rights. Sharkey’s biting lyrics: “You can’t fight this, you can’t win…screw you once, they’ll screw you twice,” is a reference to human expendability in the face of deregulation and the stagnancy of labor rights. “Never Wanted to Hurt You” is a pop song in the highest order with guts and an undeniable chorus that would make Noel Gallagher jealous even at his most jaded.

The 50′s doo-woop and surf rock sound of “Bombs on the Beach” initially feels like a left turn for the band, evoking a playful innocence against a sunny backdrop. But the lyrics prove this is truly a Dark Blue song, tearing through any cheerfulness as jarring and abrupt as words can be to describe the reality of dropping missiles on a beach of unsuspecting Palestinian children. Sharkey’s voice is heavy with the despair of survivor’s guilt: “Now I’m holding my baby’s hand, as he lies bleeding to death in the sand.” This is another pointed song full of sentiment as much as it is an impassioned call for accountability for the crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip.

While this album shows off new and varying degrees of Sharkey’s vocal intensity, Andrew Mackie Nelson (Bass, Ceremony) and Michael Sneeringer (Drums, Strand of Oaks) shine, guiding the songs in ways other releases haven’t shown before . Tracks such as “Be Gone Everyone” and “Western Front” underscore just how comfortable the band has gotten.

‘Start Of The World’ is the kind of record that Dark Blue has always promised: a collection of smart, fully realized songs that tell real stories. With the world falling apart around us, Dark Blue continues to give voice to neglected perspectives, many unnerving but all necessary to hear. We need a defiant record like this to remind us that just as there was start to all of this destruction, there can also be an end. – Sean Gray.
Venue Information:
PhilaMOCA
531 North 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
http://www.philamoca.org/