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Crystal Grenade - Lo! And Behold (CD)

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

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: HST171CD
Price: £9.99
Available: In stock

Crystal Grenade - Lo! And Behold

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)
Click above to watch video



(Crystal Grenade)
Release Date: 
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Crystal Grenade is Carol Hodge, a journeywoman of music, having arrived here after playing roles in bands like Synko, Sadie Hawkins Dance, Electra Glide, Bad Taste Barbies, etc. Her style has evolved through her previous bands to this conglomeration of sounds that are reminiscent of Fiona Apple, The Dresden Dolls, and the witty bitter lyrical edge of Alanis Morrisette. 
The music on Lo and Behold ranges from light to dark. Hodge provides vocals that are clean, jazz and blues like influenced (with edge), and lyrics that are straightforward either with honey or vinegar. That’s what I liked most about this album really. The fact that the lyrics are anti-“girl with a piano.” This is so far removed from say, Kelly Clarkson, whose albums seem to fall stagnated on love and bad relationship songs. Hodge simply states in Changed, “You’re not what I want anymore”, continuing on like one of those bad beak ups where the final reason is “It’s not you it’s me”. Basically, Hodge doesn’t write songs about being a victim. 
Usually I find myself a little turned off by female singer/songwriters and their piano’s. It always seems like different artists using this formula are always going in the same direction. Hodge really separates herself both with lyrics that don’t fall under the norm and also by allowing her piano to be more theatrical rather then slow, sad, and light to match the depressing recycled themes of love. Hodge’s piano playing can be light, but for the most part it has a dark ominous feel to its style, which kind of shines a light on Hodge’s personality and the way that they manifest in words. It’s says, “You don’t know what you’re going to get”. Well worth checking out. 
Review by AJ Garcia 
Lo! And Behold
CD - £9.99



When you’re a female singer with a swooping acrobatic voice, you play dramatic piano and sing torch song ballads with themes of emotional angst, isolation and self-examination, there’s every chance you’re going to get likened to Tori Amos. Especially if, as on Changed, you borrow the piano motif from Silent All These Years.

Seven-fingered Mancunian Carol Hodge wears her influences openly, but in addition to Amos she also ()like Hazel O’Connor) draws heavily on European cabaret, a touchstone also reflected in the album’s conceptual framework of life in an 1880s Freak Show, setting the scene with the brief Welcome to the Freakshow opener before plunging into the likes of You Could Have Lived, 19892 Man, Lost For Words, the jittery Take Aim!, a bluesy Go Round Twice and the death-shaded Shape of Things and a nihilistic Nothing To Do With Me.

Her lyrics are well worth spending time over, and you get the impression that she wrote with a view to theatrical production, something compounded by the musically thematic cues that connect the songs. Given the intensity and uniformity of tone, it doesn’t make for an immediate impact but repeated listens ensure it coils its way under the skin. The problem is, of course, that if you don’t like Tori Amos you probably won’t like this, and if you do you may wonder why you’d want a second copy. Believe me, pull the pin on this grenade and you’ll be blown away.

Lo! And Behold
CD - £9.99


The opening tune appears registered for the entrance of any tent with one of those human curiosities that from the ends of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, flourished in circuses and fairs and Festival. Tunes on "Welcome To The Freak Show 'was by Nick Zart, chief producer of' Lo! And Behold 'assembled in the now defunct, slightly legendary Southern Studios in London's Wood Green district. The illuminated with accompanying typography great cover photo shows one of the freaks from the Victorian era, or photo dates from that period is not entirely clear. Crystal Grenade is certainly the alter ego behind Carol Hodge is hidden. The talented singer and pianist from Manchester passed earlier in anarchist punk circles with Crass and Steve Ignorant and also sings at Wreck and Bad Taste Barbies.

Called Crystal Grenade she takes the listener into the dark world on the fringes of society in the Victorian London and unashamedly reveals her own dark side of her soul in gripping song work. Before suffice somewhat bizarre inflections and refined keyboard game pianist with the deformed hand, Crystal missing two fingers. For reasons obvious reasons, the operations of this eccentric soprano are sometimes compared to Amanda 'Fucking' Palmer and Tori Amos. The gloomy stories about criminals, murder and detachment heels deeper into the mind than the work and operations of the divas mentioned.

"Man of 1892" refers to Jack The Ripper while more explicit "Go Round Twice 'creates an oppressive atmosphere on dark piano tones screams desperate character that the ultimate redemption begs "give me just enough rope", a morbid mantra that ends in a seemingly sweet, fragile instrumental. The listener is constantly torn between seduction and repulsion. It is precisely this contrast that "Lo! And Behold 'becomes an intriguing piece.



Lo! And Behold
CD - £9.99



A wonderful name, Crystal Grenade.  One that belongs to Mancunian songstress Carol Hodge, described as ‘Shakespears Sister fighting Amanda Palmer and Tori Amos in a dimly lit Victorian pub’.  If that conjures up images of heavily smeared make-up, heavy petticoats, and heaving bosoms then this debut album from a character created by the seven fingered pianist is the perfect soundtrack.
Exploring the dark side of life in the late 1800s – fragile beauty mirrored by the freak show, the set has been recorded with the aim of capturing as live as possible the raw emotion of Grenade’s vocal performance that twists tales of regret, malfeasance, and death.
With a background in punk, working with Steve Ignorant on his Last Supper world tour, Grenade’s engaging torch vocals fall somewhere between Tori Amos and Hazel O’Connor and work perfectly with the sparse piano accompaniment.
Quirky enough to merit a Jools Holland appearance, Lo! And Behold is rather hypnotic and difficult to dismiss.  Absorption in a single sitting may prove challenging, but digested in bite sized chunks it’s well worth exploring for those who with a weakness for impassioned female pianists.  ***1/2


This is translated through Google Translate so a bit odd in translation:


Frankly I had never heard of Crystal Grenade . Behind the conceived in a drunken stupor deformed character with a Victorian morality , which fits into the freaky folk scene of the experimental angle , the British singer Carol Hodge shelter . I was not familiar with the punk and metal bands , which Carol has made part ( Cumbria and Sadie Hawkins Dance) . As if a door opens to a different and new musical experience is set to " Lo ! And Behold " her eccentric mezzo soprano and piano key. Self she wrote about it: " Its like Amanda Palmer , fighting Tori Amos and Shake Sphere 's Sister in a dimly lit Victorian bar with hand deformities . On with producer Nick Zart ( The Modern , Backdraft ) included " Lo ! And Behold " Crystal Grenade sings confidently with raw emotion the throat of her body . Opinionatedness and deep thoughts alternate loosely.
A world of difference between this plate, the compositions lead to gloomy moods and her other project Raggende and dynamic music of the formation Wrecks . It feels like a tension that after every song ever tighter and tighter cited . " Lo ! And Behold " is a record that can be . Not just punctured It is the quality of the songs and her fabulous voice , which ensures continued my listening habits. Hopefully this plate of Carol Hodge and Crystal Grenade not turn off exercise .
( Johan Schoenmakers)

Lo! And Behold
CD - £9.99

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