Medway Weekender

The Claim - The New Industrial Ballads

“And now a song of hope / Despite despairing hearts”

The Claim are to release their first album since 1988’s ‘Boomy Tella’ via Turntable Friend Records on May 24th. Release date wise, it’s perfection. Nothing is more British than a bank holiday, as the band they heavily influenced once sang:

“Bank holiday comes six times a year
Days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers”

Recorded at Jim Riley’s Ranscombe Studios in Rochester, they look set to reignite the Medway sound. At the heart of the original Medway boom were great pop instincts, nothing has changed.

Lead single ‘Johnny’ is the perfect link to this past. The urgency of Jam permeating their spiralling pop guitars. Meanwhile, Dave Read’s vocal hook on ‘When The Morning Comes’ chorus demonstrates pop music can emerge from even downbeat affairs. ‘Smoke and Screens’ and ‘The Haunted Pub’ is a display of pop music transcending to art. A flurry of polemic and social comment wrapped up in working class British life collides with sun kissed production and sprightly guitar hooks. Where as, the sparkling Grandaddy production and Bluetones' pop sheen of 'Just Too Far' is the albums cherry on the cake. The Smiths methodology burns bright.

In 2015, Sam Duckworth (aka Get Cape Wear Cape Fly) released an EP and album under the moniker ‘Recreations’. It tapped into a feelings of alternative and lost souls along the estuary in Essex. The Claim, a five minute hop across the Thames, have struck a similar chord. Opener ‘Johnny Kidd’s Right Hand Man’, drifts down the estuary ignored and downtrodden but never losing hope. The mod-cum-blues on ‘Estuary Greens and Blues’ recalls Blur’s ‘End of Century’ and ‘To The End’ as it drifts out to sea. So blissful is album closer 'Under Canvas', that all those sneering looks for wearing DM's or having to tolerate Farage lovers drift away into insignificance.

The Claim, despite obviously being a band of brothers, have, in Dave Read a vocalist that perhaps only Morrissey and Michael Head can rival. Unique in sound, he has their ability to find a melodic hook in unexpected places. 'Light Bending', as the guitars saunter like British Sea Power circa 'Open Season', finds a choppy Dr Feelgood vibe. Where as, 'Mrs Jones', Read delivers his most emotive vocal on a loving character driven tale.

The subtlety of The Claim’s polemic gently caressing the infectious melodies is truly remarkable. Blink and you’ll miss the bands appeal to be nicer to immigrants on ‘Journey’. Couple this with the righteousness of ‘I will stand and fight / for what I know is right’ and Read’s gut wrenching alienation on the line ‘where do I fit in…………where do I belong’, you have one of the social comments of the year. On ‘Hercules’, the nuance turns to anti-austerity polemic (“boarded up shops / Run down housing / There’s your big society”) but remains forever pop friendly. This is how to mix pop and politics without an embarrassment of excuses.

It’s been 30 years since their debut ‘Boomy Tella’. Countless fans will have pondered what might have been had they got a bigger break back then. We defy them not to see this 30 years wait as positive now. Integrity in tack, The Claim have delivered a pop music masterpiece.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

Theatre Royal - All Fall Forward / Better Say Goodbye

“Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut / Not everyone was born to be a king / Not everyone can be, Freddy Mercury......but on the day die I'll say at least I fucking tried”

Eulogy, Frank Turner, 2011

Four albums in, Kent's Theatre Royal are well established without being, well established. They have honed a Go-Betweens via the classic Medway of their forefathers. Their back catalogue is littered with “should have been” alternative pop singles. Alas, it hasn't happened.

Undeterred, the Medway boys are back and at it again with their new double a-side. 'All Fall Forward' chronicles theirs and, many other bands plight at present. The lack of chance and backing available, their discourse of “takes us nowhere / nowhere fast” seems all the more resounding.

'Better Say Goodbye' has a directness and an effortless that newcomers will undoubtedly say “haven't heard tunes like this for a while”. Whilst the sun still shines, the free flowing guitars allow for that extra spring in the step.

Both tracks fleeting and light of touch, the romance of Kerouac's 'On The Road' is almost tangible. The underdogs capture his yearning for something meaningful in this life. Their quest, for now, is beset with the tragedy of almost but not quite. With John Kennedy and Steve Lamacq onside, that breakthrough is surely imminent.

The Claim at the 100 Club

The illustrious 100 Club played host to the inaugural Medway Weekender. Headlining the first night were The Claim, a genuine hidden treasure from Cliffe in Kent.

They open with the ‘Say So’, a solid reminder of a time when singles could be a blend of infectious and thought-provoking melodies. ‘Do You Still Feel’ furthers this notion, the Roses style drums are met with a withdrawn Boo Radleys-esque vocal during the verses. They serve as a perfect precursor to a rousing chorus and irresistible guitar part.

Closing the set was the classic ‘Sporting Life’. The guitars are as sharp as ever on this paisley gem. The contrast of the high and low guitar parts is a thing of beauty. It builds the tension expertly in this tale of gambling woe and then, as all hope is seemingly burned, comes the lightest of jingle jangle touches.  

What remains apparent, is without frontman David Read, there never would have been an audience for so many beloved alternative singers. He has a great nous of creating something truly interesting within a great guitar melody. Where Ian Brown and Mark Morriss were going for pop nirvana, Read straddles that line of underground/overground like The Simpsons did for its initial 8 seasons with aplomb.

How long The Claim will be back for remains unknown, but this was a special night with a special band so, here’s hoping for a lot more.