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Music Reviews by JosieJo

Round at Milligan's regular contributer, co-producer, band hunter and top sort JosieJo reviews the some of the bands we play on the show.
With links to their websites and the episodes of Round At Milligan's they appeared on (so far)

The Penguin Party - Sex Furniture Warehouse And Other Stories

For all of you who bemoan the demise of cover notes and those fabulous pull out bits of Album sleeves that we used to pour over in our youth, welcome to "Sex furniture Warehouse and other Stories" by the essex based band The Penguin Party. The album comes packaged in its own book which includes the lyrics and photographs that provide a witty nod to the quirky-pop, quirky-clever, and sometimes quirkily-dark album within.
You won't find a band surprised that hearts get broken or that teenage boys like cars. What you will find is crafted power-pop sneakily wrapped round life stories from a bunch of guys who lived and, sort of, learnt. If you've got a middle-aged hangover again (and who hasn't) try "It's Not Big". If you've fallen in love with your wife all over again after bringing up kids together try "Song For My Old Lady" and if you've ever thought your Dad did a great job just being your dad or you are a transvestite roofer, then try "Roofer's Daughter"

This is just a great English band telling great stories that will catch in your head make you go "yeah I know what you mean"
This album probably won't change the world or even your life, but it'll probably make you laugh and make you feel just a bit better about not being a teenage boy with a broken heart who likes cars.

Available on DL, Jewelpack CD and limited CD/Paperback book from

Band website



Michael De Leiburne - Cooking On Gas
special edition Radio Edits EP

You know those days when everything is going just right? Your train turned up on time, everything is working first time and this is a really,
really good cup of tea? Well that's the feeling of Cooking On Gas special edition Radio Edits EP by Michael De Leiburne.
You look outside and it's not a sunny day then play the title track "Cooking On Gas". You'll be feeling like it's a sunny day within the first few
bars. You can just hear this guy smiling and if you're still not sure then just wait until you hear the first "whoo" and you'll be left in no doubt.
In fact, if you take your time with this EP you'll be hard pushed not to be smiling yourself.
The second track "Easily" is much less flowing. It pulses. When the second guitar does swell in it pleads at you from the horizon making
Michael's use of stops and rhythm work WITH the song until, by the end "Easily" humms in your head like a lullaby. "Easily" feels like an
argument that he's already won.
If you think that this sounds like you can just sit back and let the tunes flow over you, then think again. The third track "In A Broken Dream"
taps out triple rhymes that are difficult to ignore. You are brought sounds that you never knew you wanted and it's a subtle joy that "In A
Broken Dream" itself ends just like a broken dream…leaving you wanting just a few minutes more in it's sound.
If you're looking for easy listening muzak then this isn't it. However, if you want the beautiful wash of a sunny day, optimism out of pain or
just some good advice delivered in a crafted, layered, laid back tune, then you probably can't do much better than Michael De Leiburne's
EP "Cooking On Gas"

Michael de Leiburne music page:

Link to 'Cooking On Gas' video: 


Tokyo Corner - "Don't Throw Gold in pirates' houses"

Don't Throw Gold In Pirates' Houses cover art 

The Ep: it's 4 tracks and simply EVERYONE is doing it.  The great thing about the Ep is that it allows you the experience of the band without too much commitment.  However, what really hit me when listening to Tokyo Corner's "Don't Throw Gold In Pirates' Houses" was just how delightful it is to let the band themselves guide you through this taster menu in THEIR way.  So take my advice, remove  the distractions, switch off the shuffle and play this EP right from the start.


Turn up the volume and let Tokyo Corner introduce themselves with a gladiatorial entrance and a rock stadium intro.  Then the EP really builds.

The title, and first track "Don't Throw Gold In Pirates' Houses" feels, to me, like loud, rebel, cowboy rock.  They swing into town with a salutary tale that has a blues influence without compromising its proud rock foundation.  Through all this Tokyo Corner's joy of words topples the cliches over themselves and lets the message through as the track fades away allowing you to enjoy the story.


Don't sit back though.  The second track, "Pray For Me Sister" pulls in the rock and pumps it out again letting the drums truly sing along with the guitar.

That rock stadium intro from the start? Here we go.  Give this track time and few listens though and you'll smile knowingly as it asks you the difference between hearing and listening.


If the second track asks you to listen, the third track, "Fortune Fades", asks you to see. The vocals are the feature instrument of this track. It swells with alliteration, repetition and imagery.  The line "Sun shines on desperate faces", for me, speaks for itself and earns a place in my favourite line list for its understated depth.  The abrupt end to the track gives you an intake of breath ready for the final track, "Feel It Drop".


This is a beautiful guitar melody and rounds off the EP.  This serves to convince me that, even if you do it only once or twice, turn off the shuffle and please, please listen to this EP as it was meant to be heard…as an EP. 


The EP. We salute you.  And Tokyo Corner?  You've reminded me how music can truly be crafted in the whole that is "Don't Throw Gold In Pirates' Houses".  Thank You.


and that's what I think of that.



Skies, (previously called Blaise Paisel), are a top six piece from Folkestone, Kent, England. They have a very rich sound and a singer whose voice is quintessentially British in a Kate Nash kind of way. They make no excuses for their sound; it is clever and layered, smoothly moving in a way that feels like they really respect each other. This band really sounds like a band. While I’m all for aggressive rock with guitars almost duelling with each other for control over the singer, this band doesn't do that. They flow with each other. Their sound isn’t ground breaking or challenging, but it is dulcetly agreeable. Their stories aren’t quirky or remarkable. They sing of heartbreak, of being dumped and of doing the dumping; the usual subjects of the heart sore troubadour, and yet the songs abstain from the melancholy and the self obsessed. What I really like about this band is that the lyrics don’t feel that they are hanging on to the tune, or that the tune is hanging on to the lyrics. I really feel that the song is meant to be a song, not just poetry set to guitar and drums or guitar and drums made accessible by words. In short, this band plays songs.

They have a website and they are playing the Fringe Festival in Maidstone, Kent on the 4th of May. I’m sure that there they will play their new single “Leave Me”. If you want to hear that, get along to their gig or tune into our show on another week and I’m sure we’ll play it. This week I’ve chosen “Magical”. It tells a tale of the magic of love and the corresponding magic of being alone. It has a great start with the guitars almost calling to the keys to come and play. I particularly like the way the protagonist swoops from anger to jealousy and resentment to the opposing feeling of empowerment, and all that is echoed by the flow of the music. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN 

Pow Wows

My next band are Pow Wows from Toronto, Canada. Signed to Get Hip Recordings they are a full-on rock and roll, surf punk three piece. They played at a recent Davis Bash International Pop Overthrow Festival and they caught my ear within seconds of me hearing their track “Shock Corridor” This track is their most recent single and can be found on their Live EP “Bent Out of Shape”, which will be available on digital download and also on cassette, which is limited to 100 copies. To find more details go to their web page and be one of the first to pre-order such exclusive material.

Like my first band, Skies, the Pow Wows are playing on the 4th of May. Get along to the Piston in Toronto, Canada for a good “wall of sound” rock. Also like Skies, I had to deliberate which track tochoose for this week. I suppose I could point you to their most recent single “Shock Corridor” since it was that which caught my ear, but I’m not going to. This track “Killing Me” has an almost Beatles back beat with a strident guitar sound and riotous, almost haunting vocal over the top. I can’t help but feel that these guys sound like a Northern British band. It’s power pop rock as far as I’m concerned. Ok, it’s not necessarily a song for a sunny day or a song designed just to put you in a good mood; it’s a roaring track that builds until that echoing vocal resonates. By the end of the track it’s tumultuous message is hammered home. Click here for Pow Wows: “Killing Me”.

The Shake Ups

The Shake Ups are from Indianapolis, Indiana. That's where James Dean comes from, I know this stuff. They recently played an International Pop Overthrow Festival in Chicago.  You'll hear me talk about International Pop Overthrow a lot so let's all agree to call it IPO; it'll save everyone a lot of hassle.  They are run by a lovely man called David Bash (you'll hear talk about him a lot too, because he is a great source of independent music) and the festivals are loosely based on a genre called power pop.  The Shake Ups (I'll say that again because it's quite lovely to say), The Shake Ups, are power poppity goodness.  They are three blokes and a lovely red-haired lady and their back catalogue has album names such as  “Warm Fuzziness”, “Last Everlasting” and “A Twist of Lemon”.  Their latest album is called “Extra Pulp”... you know like you get in orange juice.  They do have a sort of sunny, orangey up-beatness.

   “Hallowed Out”, the track I've chosen for you this week, has that cheery up-beatness, but it's really an anti-love song if you listen carefully.  It starts with a subtle guitar and a sweet harmony before the tune really racks up.  Then we hit the chorus.  OK it is an “oo a oo a oo a oo” chorus, but it gets right under your hair, down through the roots, into your brain and rattles around until you're bopping around the kitchen, hand clapping in front of the cooker and picking up the spatulas to drum along.  It's boppiness, power poppiness, love-gone-wronginess.  Here is The Shake Ups and “Hollowed Out”


Joves Fuego

Joves Fuego is a singer/song writer from Hong Kong.  She performed an exclusive gig for just me and my friend Deb Weir in Deb's tiny, tiny apartment and in payment Joves got fed.  Talk about singing for your supper.  I can't remember what we ate, but I do  remember that Joves's performance was charming, witty and throughly delightful.  Artists, actors and performers often say to me that it's harder to perform in a smaller, more intimate audience, especially when you are playing to your friends, but Joves was – oh heck i'm just going to say it – she was fantastic.  She writes from the heart about subjects she knows and encounters everyday.  She is a real observer.

    This track, “Shoebox in the City” is the one that she always gets asked to play and I find it utterly  beguiling.  It's about how Hong Kong is so densely populated that any flat you rent, if you can afford to rent a flat at all, is absolutely bijoux, tiny, and compact, but she sings about how much she loves her adopted city nonetheless.  So you live in a shoebox, high above the ground, packed in with humanity.  You have no room for a cajon, let alone a drum kit; no room for a dining table and you've only got one chair, but so what?  Check out the view.  Enjoy the voyeurism.  This is Joves Fuego and “Shoebox in the City”


Sarah Gillespie / Red Ruff

Ok, so this week it is mighty women week.  That’s not a symposium, or a charity fundraising event it’s just that this week my two top tips are mighty women.The first is a singer/songwriter who has been writing songs since she was four years old.  Sarah Gillespie has an American mother and a British father.  Her childhood was spent in Norfolk, England and Minnesota in the US and if you’ve ever wondered what that sort of effect that cultural dichotomy has on a person (and haven’t we all wondered that at some point) then her music gives you that aural explanation.  Sarah’s musical career has travelled alongside her work as a poet and political writer and she even runs song writing workshops.  I first saw her live years ago when my mate Liam (whose track we played last week) took me along to see her and enticed me to come by saying “she has a Blockhead playing with her”.  He wasn’t wrong and, although I don’t remember which Blockhead it was, I do remember that he bought us a round of drinks.  Good chap I say.  Sarah has headlined at Ronnie Scott’s in London, but it was when she was there one night supporting Ian Dury’s Blockheads that she met her producer, Gilad Atzmon going on to create her first album “Stalking Juliet”, followed by “Current Climate and, launching on the 10th and 11th July at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, her latest album “Glory Days”.This track, “How the Mighty Fall” is from her first album and I’m playing it because it’s my mate Liam’s favourite song of Sarah’s and because I love its jolly tune coupled with slightly sinister lyrics.  I love the fact that she is held just a little too tightly and that everything is just a little not right.  Despite all that it’s foot stomping, high jinxing, swinging fun.  From the accordion to the sort of slide harmonica it makes me want to hitch up my gingham skirt, clatter my lace up boots and get myself pulled along. This is Sarah Gillespie and “How the Mighty Fall”·        

From one lady not to be messed with to three ladies not to be messed with.   Well I’m sure you can mess with them, but don’t expect an insurance policy to cover the fun you’ll have.  Red Ruff are a three part harmony group singing accompanied only by the voices of each other and an occasional flute for tuning.  They are Jen Aitken, Sue Devine and Nansy Ferrett and they all teach music, perform, play music and run singing workshops when they’re not waxing lyrical about relationships, the state of the world, car parts or cats.  I saw them playing a sneaky, extra gig in the tea tent at the Bearded Theory Festival and their wonderful eccentricity felt sublimely normal in those surroundings.  What could be more British and festivally than seeing three red headed women (and when I say red I mean red) swaying gently together singing from Haynes Manuals, dressed in red and black tutus, corsets and kick-ass boots whilst the audience sips tea from china cups and eats cake?  They sing from Haynes manuals because one of their tracks is them singing, almost verbatim, the description of how to change the horn on a classic Mini car from that useful section of the Haynes manual, but I can’t track down a recording of that song.  You’ll just have to go and see them live for that. They are playing the Exile Festival in the UK 5th- 7thJuly.The Red Ruff track I’m going to recommend is “The Owl and The Pussycat” and it is a nursery rhyme in many ways.  It tells the tales of turkeys spared the chop at Christmas, falling down and getting up and running away to dance on the sand at sunset.  Romantic stuff.   Don’t let the wit and humour disguise the technical ability and sheer joy of the harmonies in this track.  Here they are completely unconventional and unashamedly themselves Red Ruff and “The Owl and the Pussycat”

Funke and the Two-Tone Baby - Battles

What you get with Funke and the Two Tone Baby is percussion, harmonicas, guitar and a growling, “lived in” vocal that can surprise you with its sudden softness.
“Battles” doesn't start with the title track. It starts with a dramatic, swelling sound that tickles your attention, then grabs it. “Bella's Kiss” really stamps Funke's mark on you as a good opening track should. It makes no excuses. Once your attention is deservedly gained the second track “Mountains” takes you high and firmly establishes the tone of the album with its twanging guitar, relentless beats and elemental themes. It takes you to the top of the mountain and dives you deep as the album swings into the intriguing third track “The Woman Who Stood at the Edge of the Sea”. Its double bass sound and tale of waiting and yearning reminds me of travelling troubadours and of wandering, rail-road riding hobo types peddling tunes just because they can. If you are going to tell tales then what better subject matter than pirates, ghosts or witches? Well a song about a “Pirate Ghost Witch” of course. It's spooky and slightly scary and rides you into the storm at its conclusion preparing you very nicely for the big hitting title track “Battles” which follows it. It's clearly intended to be the“main event” of the album and its echoing, calling guitars harmonise with the intention of the words. The anger and determination of the lyrics are all part of the battle as is the way the voice and instruments all parry and support each other, rushing in and withdrawing back ending in a sustaining echo.
After all that pounding emotion comes “I'll Love You”. This is like the sunny picnic in the middle of a challenging day and has become my “mixtape”, sharing track of the week. With the beautiful sounds of Dulcima Showan duetting on vocals and Laura Callaghan on flute it's a song about technical sentimentalism; the description of emotions in pragmatic terms and the very best use of the word “luminosity” in a song that I have ever heard. The cute jiggyness of this track makes the next one quite startling. “Now You See Me” has a gentle start giving the harshness of the lyric and its subject a subtle shock. This is an instrumentally sparse ballad with a beatbox backbeat. It's the dichotomy of this track that defines it. The growling vocal blends into a soft plea and right back again. It's hard and easy, love and hate, fragmented and flowing, a haunting harmonica and a pounding kick drum. How does Funke and The Two Tone baby follow that? With a kick to the stomach that is “Cannonball” that's how. As we approach the end of the album I get the sense that we are swishing the ice round the whiskey glass as we deal with the introspective “The Morning After”; a tale of loss and friendship. Then we pour ourselves just one more shot and stare into the comforting flames of the fire as the last chords of “The Morning After” mix into the final track “Winter's Return”. This track is not a pessimistic, self indulgent roll into greyness, but a celebration of winter. It delivers an uplifting, fresh perspective on endings. It's the longest track on the album, but somehow as it delightfully fades I find myself leaning forward to pour yet another glass, hit repeat and play the whole thing again. “Battles” is an album that could just get you through Winter's return and bring you back round to Spring.Click to add text, images, and other content