Friday, 12 February 2010

Martha and the Muffins

Long time readers of this blog will recall that I posted my list of favourite gigs some time back. One of the events that made the cut involved me crowding into a cramped, sweaty backroom at the Nashville Pub in West London some time in 1979 to see a new bunch of raw recruits, Martha and the Muffins on their first UK tour. ‘Echo Beach’ had just hit the airwaves and I’d persuaded a few mates to give them a try on the basis of free beer and the possibility that they may be quite good. It turned out they were and ‘Metro Music’ (the first release on the new DinDisc label) was found to be nestling in my collection a few days after.

‘Metro Music’ was one of those albums that I took to immediately and still like to this day but the remainder of our relationship has been a bit hit and miss. As usual for a band with a good debut album, their second LP, ‘Trance and Dance’ was issued too soon after the first and suffered from being underdone. I dabbled with their reinvention as ‘M+M’ in the mid 1980s but have not really followed them since although ‘Echo Beach’ and companion single ‘Saigon’ often find their way on to my recent playlists.

So it was with some surprise and more than a little interest that I received an approach from The Muffins' Marketing and Media Manager, Jeremie Poirier to say that they have a new album, ‘Delicate’ out this very month (2nd Feb) and would I like to download a sample track ‘Don’t Say Anything’ from their site I thought I might. And what a good decision it turned out to be.

Now reduced in numbers from their original six-piece to a workmanlike partnership of Mark Gane and Martha Johnson, Martha and the Muffins appear to be very much alive and kicking. Only a few seconds into ‘Don’t Say Anything’ and that instantly recognisable Gane guitar sound has me hooked and pinned against a rhythm track that could be lifted from any of the more up-tempo numbers on ‘Metro Music’. But don’t get the impression this is just a retread of past glories, as this sound has a very modern feel and with Martha’s familiar yet more mature vocal in the mix, the Muffins have succeeded in fusing the old with the new with some aplomb.

Their style was always a bit difficult to pin down, being somewhere between new wave and art-pop, and this new material still has that slight left-field aura to it. But hey, that's fine by me and if this is anything to go by, I might just give ‘Delicate’ a listen and become a fan all over again.


Martha Johnson said...

Hello MO,

Martha Johnson here. I wanted to let you know that I will be releasing my first solo album 'SOLO ONE' in mid-June. I've just launched a crowdfunding campaign that will enable fans to be part of the project and I thought some of your readers might be interested. If you can help spread the word, that would be great. Links to more info here:

Many thanks!


music obsessive said...

Hi Martha - fancy you dropping by! I've pledged a small amount myself and will write a post soon.

Good luck!