Old Blue Last
Strange that Radio 4’s cosy mid-morning sorority is spelled thus. Just the one Woman? There she is look, on her own at home, wiping kitchen surfaces or dandling the baby as Jenni Murray OBE’s soothing tones prove there’s a world beyond the gravel driveway. It’s a strange band name too, aside from singer Fiona being the lone woman in the line-up, backed by guitars from the lads and drums from the machine.
The Cumbrians show off a surprisingly clipped and tidy sound with compressed handclaps, trebly guitar lines, heavy breathing and solid grooves coalescing into beachy punk-funk at one extreme and minimal-wave slow jams at the other. The sparse construction and girl-boy vocal duelling make The xx an unavoidable point of comparison, but Woman’s Hour are more in thrall to early Blondie and The Slits than Aaliyah, or perhaps even Radio 4 (the early ’00s punk-funkers, that is). Alright, no musical boundaries have been broken tonight, and the appearance of an extra floor tom is needless and all too familiar, but the group’s well-honed musicality should help them break out of their comfort zone, switch off the radio and get out of the house a bit.
By Chal Ravens
Originally published in issue 30 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. July 2011.