17 November 2010

Strange News From Another Star

Photo courtesy of Paul Gregory, Lense Eyes.

Back in 2005, The Independent were correct when they wrote that “one way or another, we will be hearing quite a lot more of Jimmy Watkins.” Referring to an on-track incident where, during his career in athletics a few years back, Jimmy farted whilst lining up for a race, although The Independent, even after that, probably weren’t expecting for us to hear more of him quite in the way that we have over the past year or so.

Indeed, the Jimmy Watkins in that article is the same Jimmy Watkins who fronts Cardiff band Strange News From Another Star and, indeed, also the same Jimmy Watkins who was asked to join Future Of The Left, one of his favourite bands, as guitarist and fourth member not long ago.

Jimmy likes to make a bit of a pillock of himself. Anybody who has ever even briefly met him or seen him play live (be it outdoors strumming an acoustic with his trousers around his ankles, dressed either in denim from head to toe or, with his now slightly plumper figure [sorry Jimmy], in his old athletics kit onstage) will be testament to that. Strange News' debut EP Full Frontal, although a strong release that a lot of hard work went into, was still Jimmy - and bandmate’s Mark Foley, bass, and Harry Jones, drums - in all of his usual silliness through the medium of raucous, blues-influenced, alternative rock. Since the release of Full Frontal last year, Mark has had a shave and a haircut, Harry has graduated from university, Jimmy, whilst still working in a Welsh wool shop, has joined Future Of The Left, and Strange News From Another Star have made some new recordings.

Now, it’d be foolish to suggest that with these new recordings Strange News have turned sensible because, well, they haven’t. They’re still completely nuts. For example, ‘A Ballad Of John Rostron’ is a song to/for/about/containing Cardiff-based music promoter and Swn Festival co-organiser John Rostron, where Jimmy asks “Where’s the car park?/Where’s the car park?/Where’s the car park, John?” (no idea...). ‘Deathbyugg’, besides from being perhaps the best named song ever, features a female/Jimmy unusual duet, ending with Jimmy, all Welsh accented, repeating “Burn that Tesco, burn that Tesco down, burn that Tesco, burn that Tesco down”. ‘White Man Blues’ is two minutes of heavy, blues-y guitar riffs, pausing occasionally for lines like “Tell your mother I’m back again/This time a respectable man.” And, after all, the band are still sponsored by a sandwich shop. But in these songs - some of which that will form an EP at some point - Jimmy, Mark, and Harry are, it’s fair to say, taking their music a lot more seriously and are certainly seeming a lot more relaxed, comfortable, and confident with their sound.

Although no gigs seem to be lined up at the moment, and there are no firm plans for this new EP, there will be some updates within the coming months, no doubt.

Head here for a playlist made by Jimmy for The 405, here to stream both debut EP Full Frontal and a live radio session for Bethan Elfyn, or follow them on Twitter here for more news on live shows, a possible EP, etc, and listen to clips of some of the new recordings below.

Strange News From Another Star - I Am Weatherproof (Crop)

Strange News From Another Star - Bullets (Crop)

Strange News From Another Star - Last Night I Happened Twice (Crop)

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