# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Martha - Blisters in the Pit of My Heart

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 23 / 8 / 2016

Martha - Blisters in the Pit of My Heart
Label: Fortuna POP!
Format: CD


Sentimental anarcho-punk from Martha, who are possibly the most DIY band in Britain

The straight-edge pop punk quartet Martha hail from a small town in North Eastern England with the unlikely name of Pity Me. The old pit village on the Scottish border has, like other towns in the region, experienced such a level of economic depression over the past generation that left-leaning political views are quite common and accepted in the community. Martha, named after the last passenger pigeon, who died in 1914, have been loyal members of the DIY culture of the North East, putting on shows for other bands in the Durham area, booking and producing themselves, and soldiering on with the band in addition to their day jobs (ranging from occupational therapy and academia to museum staff), maintaining a deep-seated critical view of the music industry’s corporate culture and capitalism in general. In fact, Nathan Stephens-Griffin (drums and vocals) has a photo of himself as a small child being held up by Billy Bragg at a union fundraiser attended by his dad. Nathan, his sister Naomi Griffin (bass and vocals), Daniel Ellis (guitar and vocals), and J.C. Cairns (guitar and vocals) have more reason than most politically-minded music fans to thinking of Bragg as Uncle Bill. He was supportive of their acoustic side project Onsind and invited them to play the Left Field section he curated at Glastonbury 2015 after the release of their debut 'Courting Strong'. Their follow up, 'Blisters in the Pit of My Heart', continues their thoughtful, sceptical, thwarted romantic lyrics and polished but raucous sound that could be what the Replacements and the Go-Go’s would have sounded like if Billy Bragg had fronted both bands. There is even a lyric nod to Bragg’s 'Greetings to the New Brunette' in the bass-driving 'Curly & Raquel': “I’m celebrating my love for you with a cherry pop and a bad tattoo.” In addition to Uncle Bill, Martha’s influences include the Housemartins, Motown, Thin Lizzy (which explains the guitar solos), Marked Men, and Superchunk. Philosophically they are in the same lineage as Crass, the Clash, and American straight-edge vegan punk godfather Ian Mackaye’s Minor Threat and Fugazi. The band is positive, earnest, and aggressively egalitarian: there is no frontman or frontwoman. Nathan even apologized to an interviewer for having to use the term “workingmen’s clubs” to describe the early venues his and Naomi’s father’s R&B cover band played in, even though any sexist overtones from decades past are certainly not their fault. Musically 'Blisters in the Pit of My Heart' is reminiscent of energetic southern California punk like the Weirdos, the Skulls, and the Gun Club, as well as Midwesterns Hüsker Dü and the Replacements. The music is well-trodden but enjoyable, and without veering into emo territory they unflinchingly tackle outsider angst, whether unrequited romance (on the lovely 'The Awkward Ones', 'Christine', 'Ice Cream and Sunscreen') or oppressed queer students at a Catholic school punished, 'St. Paul’s (Westerberg Comprehensive)'. The power pop intro of '11:45, Legless in Brandon' leads to some of the best lyrics on the album, Naomi’s wry Kim Deal-like 'You’re good for my mind/But not my productivity.” 'Goldman’s Detective Agency' - “Come on, won’t you be the one to help me out?” - could have been a lost Go-Go’s song, if they had ever felt the need to name drop anarchist Emma Goldman as a noir detective. The lengthy 'Do Nothing' starts off threatening to be lo-fi shoegaze but quickly recovers with a full-blast, expressive guitar confessional and an anthemic chorus. Martha’s idealism, resourcefulness, and ability to thrive in adversity is reassuring on this fortieth anniversary of punk. With little outside help and a tight budget, they have crafted a record that manages to be both fun and vulnerably serious at times. By the end of the album wanting to cheer them on is practically unavoidable. Their hearts are in the right place and clearly they have plenty of energy to go out and improve their community and the wider world right now – and still make it to work tomorrow morning. Undoubtedly sober and on time.

Track Listing:-
1 Christine
2 Chekhov's Hangnail
3 Precarious (The Supermarket Song)
4 Do Whatever
5 Goldman's Detective Agency
6 The Awkward Ones
7 Ice Cream and Sunscreen
8 11: 45, Legless in Brandon
9 Curly & Raquel
10 Do Nothing
11 St. Paul's (Westerberg Comprehensive)

Band Links:-

Label Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors