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Crystal Grenade - Lo! And Behold (CD)

Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: 14th October 2013

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: HST171CD
Price: $14.29
Available: In Stock

Crystal Grenade - Lo! And Behold
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Carol Hodge was last seen in November 2011 on stage at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.  She was holding the hand of the one-time Crass vocalist Steve Ignorant as they closed both Ignorant’s world tour and his career of singing songs by the one-time Kings and Queens of anarchopunk, with a massively emotional version of Bloody Revolutions.  Even watching it on YouTube brings tears to my eyes so I can only imagine what it would have been like being in the audience or even more on stage. Carol joined Ignorant’s world tour halfway through after the previous female vocalist had dropped out for family reasons.  And she had some pretty big shoes to fill (I suppose if I was clever enough I should make some sort of reference here to Crass’s notorious song about Chinese footbinding but I can’t think of one).  And she filled them righteously.  After all, having to perform songs made famous by the doyenne of anarchapunk, Eve Libertine, cannot have been an easy task.  One of my favourite moments from the tour was also from the last show, when Eve joined Carol on stage for a particularly blistering version of Shaved Women.

But what happened next? 

Carol has adopted the personality of Miss Crystal Grenade, an existentialist Victorian artist, singer and freak show performer with a peculiarly deformed hand. Accompanying herself on piano and with some songs featuring multi-tracked vocals (presumably by her), this music fills the same sort of cultural territory as did the recent BBC detective series Ripper Street: a gloriously aesthetic re-creation of the latter days of Victorian London. In Miss Crystal Grenade this slice of ur-historical synthesis now has the perfect soundtrack.

It’s impossible to categorise with any degree of satisfaction.  The nearest I can come to her vocal phrasing is – of all people - Elton John’s eponymous second album, where he sang against strings produced and arranged by Paul Buckmaster. But the songs sound nothing like him, and there are no strings, merely some gloriously rococo piano. Then again, bits remind me of Dead Can Dance.  But they sound nothing like them. Does that even begin to describe the music I have been listening to all morning?  No, of course it doesn’t.  But it will have to do. 

The year is 1892, the place Victorian England. Dim gaslamps lend a cobwebbed ale house a sepia glow. The sound is dull murmurs from blunt mouths, the scent unwashed sweat and sawdust. In the back room of the bar, a strange performance is unfolding, one of horror and beauty as yet to come...

Singer, pianist, freak show personality and melancholic muse, Crystal is a woman wading through existentialist dreams whilst living hand to mouth.

Born with a rare hand deformity that statistically makes her one in a million and logistically means a life of peculiar charm, Crystal scrapes a living through song and chance.

In a world where the past is revoked in all its putrid glory, she clings to piano keys with all seven lucky fingers whilst opening the emotional floodgates. A voice of gentle pain or unapologetic rage, her honesty shall ever prevail. Join her in the search for salvation.

Welcome To The Freakshow
You Could Have Lived
1892 Man
Lost For Words
Take Aim!
Go Round Twice
Shape of Things
Nothing To Do With Me
For Alison (What's Left Behind)
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