BREVIEW: Kyla La Grange @ Mama Roux’s 12.07.16

Kyla La Grange @ Mama Roux's 12.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham ReviewWords by Ed King / Pics by Aatish Ramchurn

Monday nights. As our focal point would later surmise, “…the worst of all nights”.

But I’ve had some happy Mondays in my time: bank holidays before self employment, teacher’s strikes at primary school, waking up to another week with Lucy. They all involve extra time in bed but they are there to be had. And tonight is another notch on the post, so to speak, as Kyla La Grange and a colleague’s ninja illness have brought me unexpectedly out to play.

A relatively healthy crowd seems to be embracing this school night optimism too; Mama Roux’s is comfortably full. As the three metre gap between us and the support band, an indie pop dance hybrid called FOURS, gets gradually swallowed up there’s just enough room to wind your way to the bar. In Birmingham, fifteen minutes outside of the city centre, two weeks after payday, this is a solid result.

FOURS should receive a special commendation, not only for the lead singer’s vocals – restrained, powerful, all that you’d want and want to be jealous of – but for being amongst the most engaged of Kyla La Grange’s audience during her headline set. Albeit dressed like a child sacrifice at the Summer Solstice, FOURS were full force support both on stage and off; noted, revered, reported.

Kyla La Grange sneaks on stage with ‘Hummingbird’ – one of the anthemic pop tinged singles she has released recently instead of album #3. Ah… album #3. The opening/title track to La Grange’s superb sophomore, Cut Your Teeth, rolls out like heavy skies, before the brooding accusations of ‘Justify’ round off tonight’s speak for itself introduction. A gut punch of a song, again from her bevy of stand alone singles.Kyla La Grange @ Mama Roux's 12.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review

Kicking off a six date stint across Albion with tonight’s gig at Mama Roux’s (kudos Birmingham Promoters) any rehearsal room cobwebs are deftly, quickly swept away. From the embroidery to the side profile, there’s thought on stage tonight – an arena presentation in a Monday night music venue. And despite Kyla La Grange’s last LP coming out in 2014 (a fact that must have challenged the Sony A&R involved) there’s enough of an addictive undercurrent to her two albums, along with a suitably track marked crowd, that won’t let her go unnoticed. Even in Birmingham on a Monday.

Two more of the ‘higher octane’ album tracks from Cut Your Teeth, alongside an ethereal dig at detachment from her debut, introduce La Grange’s 2015 single, ‘So Sweet’. An unashamed (who was even accusing) pop predator, I shouldn’t like this song; everything the hatchling arrogance, peer pressure and recreational drug use of my teens pushed me to declare… but God help me I do. And performed live on stage it’s even better.

Kyla La Grange @ Mama Roux's 12.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham ReviewBut it is this guilty pleasure/dichotomy that sums up fevered little ego when it comes to Kyla La Grange. Sugar, spice, are all things nice? There’s an Indie rawness to Ashes, which evolves into the darker electro edged pop of Cut Your Teeth – tie that in with some pretty stunning photo shoots and masquerade make up, and you’ve got an artist who can command some attention. Plus I’m a sucker for putting out 14 tracks through a major label; I can almost hear the phone conversation, the dialing tone and silent annunciation of combative swearwords.

So where do you go when the Katy Perry through a Ketamine haze doesn’t shift enough units, how do you silence the paymasters that put your there? And this is Sony remember. As more and more calypso samples shake themselves free my cynical crystal ball starts to mutter and curse.

(Ed’s Note… Kyla La Grange gave us a quick rib dig once we’d published this BREVIEW – she’s no longer on Sony, all the recent singles have been independent releases. Which kind of throws more spotlight culpability at this concern, as well at my lack of research. After much deliberation… watch out for our follow up review of Kyla La Grange’s next single. Conversation TBC)

Then ‘Cannibals’ comes to march us to the end of the set; possibly my favourite track off Cut Your Teeth, delivered so absurdly perfect I have to watch the veins on La Grange’s neck to be sure. My friend and I nod, smile and mouth ‘…she good’ in over accentuated head movements. The rest of the crowd are clearly already there, and would possibly hang me up by my unbranded belt if they felt I wasn’t behind them. Never poke a hipster.

And perhaps I shouldn’t worry about the rest of world either; perhaps I should trust that a redbrick philosophy graduate who can cohesively argue the case for Miley Cyrus being ‘self possessed and fiercely confident’ has a strategy at play. Or Kyla La Grange @ Mama Roux's 12.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Reviewperhaps we’ll lose something special to a sink hole of adulation, quarterlies and online trend predictions. All I know is my framing technique now requires a joke about Mondays, so here’s a link to some Garfield cartoons.

Go and see Kyla La Grange; this gig was awesome. And buy both of her albums, they’re awesome too. What happens tomorrow…

For more on Kyla La Grange, visit

For more on FOURS, visit


For more from Mama Roux’s, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit

For more from Birmingham Promoters, visit

BPREVIEW: Kyla La Grange @ Mama Roux’s 12.07.16

BPREVIEW: Kyla La Grange @ Mama Roux’s 12.07.16

Words by Ed King

On Monday 12th June, Kyla La Grange comes to Mama Roux’s in Digbeth, with support from FOURS. Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced at £8 (advance) – as presented by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

Kicking off a six date UK tour in Birmingham, Kyla La Grange will leave the arches of our industrial hangover to play King Tut’s in Glasgow (Jun 13th) and The Hope and Ruin in Brighton (Jun 17th). Expect some major city pit stops en route – click here for details.

Launching into music with her debut album, Ashes, in 2012, Kyla La Grange is kind of hard to pinpoint – great for the cultural conscious of the world, difficult for a tired hack with a deadline. But I guess that’s the point; pejorative office metaphors be damned, you’ve got Google and ears now get to work you lazy bag of nerves and tissue.

But I’ll give is a stab. Apologies in advance… Moving from the more indie rock six strings dance backbone of her debut (I did start this with an apology) Kyla La Grange has seemingly embraced a more electronica approach with her more recent work.

Ashes, a pretty stellar fourteen track introduction, jumped from the determined rock of ‘Walk Through Walls’ into the haunting ballad of ‘To Be Torn’, only to end up basking content on the shores of ‘The River’ – an addictive track I bet a pre-Mercury Awards Marling wishes she’d have written.

Cut Your Teeth, Kyla La Grange’s sophomore album, came out in 2014 produced by Jakwob. Ten tracks that traverse corners of electronica from brooding tech to Calypso, it’s a well spent three quarters of an hour. I’ll just cite some songs and save you the adjectives: ‘Cannibals’, ‘The Knife’, ‘Big Eyes’ and start as the God of programming intended with the title track.

So now it’s 2017, where the hell has she been I hear you ask? You didn’t, it’s a segue, and I honestly don’t know. But probably touring the planet with Faithless. There have been a few ‘distinguished’ singles drip fed to keep us interested though: some more pop that electronica, some more vanilla than the darker flavours of Cut Your Teeth. But again, Google your way (or grab a hipster and shake them until answers fall out of their tiny pockets).

Plus if you’ve got a few more minutes to spare then check out Kyla La Grange’s Twitter feed for an approach to politics and the public domain debate that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. And breathe… perhaps we’ll be OK after all. Not often I’m directed to The Morning Star’s website whilst researching an artist.

Anyway… if music be the blah blah here’s a Snickers bar. Get to Mama Roux’s on Monday for the rest.

‘Skin’ – Kyla La Grange

Kyla La Grange performs at Mama Roux’s on Monday 12th June, with support from FOURS – as presented by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Kyla La Grange, visit

For more on FOURS, visit


For more from Mama Roux’s, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit

For more from Birmingham Promoters, visit

BREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP – launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17

BREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review




Words by Ed King / Pics by Michelle Martin & Ed King

‘You’ve always had the power to go back…’

It’s here: the day in question, of reckoning, red letter. Call Me Unique is launching her Urban Gypsy II EP tonight, three years since its predecessor came off stage at The Yardbird, with a smorgasboard showcase at Mama Roux’s – the raw and raucous live music sponge in the Rainbow portfolio. And I’ve seen the running order; I kid you not there’s over ten artists joining Unique on stage, with an average of five minutes to perform and turn around. I’d make a joke, but it’s an important day.

Known for many years as the Girl-With-The-Guitar (and still on some bus routes) Call Me Unique has been frustratingly close to something for some time. Her combination of soul, rap, jazz, verse and scat, peppered with flecks of folk and bonfire laments, has BREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17 / Ed King - Birmingham Reviewbeen circling the thermals for a while; deserving of adulation beyond this city, whilst gaining some ground in London and Europe (based out of Budapest) Call Me Unique has sorely needed a win. Not a pat on the back, not a friend saying ‘well done’, a win. And the only way this was going to happen, to really happen, to happen in a way that would push this all forward, was the holy trinity: write, record, release.

So, no pressure then.

Walking into Mama Roux’s the first thing I notice are the numbers. Full room – check. Next are the people who make up those numbers – a regular line up of musicians and music professionals, with some healthy creative faces on the periphery to even things out. Then there’s what I can only assume are Mama Roux’s regular crowd or the throng that attend Digbeth Dining Club, with a handful trapped at two iron mesh tables by the front of the stage. I maybe address that one.BREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17 / Ed King - Birmingham Review

But before anyone can say ‘shall we sit upstairs’ the stage begins, with Unique and guests walking us through the EP that started ‘the Urban Gypsy Experience’ a handful of years ago. ‘Stranger’ is up first, with rappers Trademark Blud and Boy October (aka Christian Deveaux) giving some significant punch to my favourite track from Urban Gypsy I, before trading places with Kezia Soul and Simon Jnr for ‘Here’.

The eponymous track gets Lady Sanity and RTKal up on stage, always good to see, before the pinnacle performance of the first half from Jugganaut and Malik MD7 – bouncing ‘Bombs & Wars’ around the room and back again. So far this is going extremely well. Then Ed Geater and Affie Jam join Call Me Unique to perform ‘Sholow’, with Geater’s vocal leading the song in a memorable Bill Withers moment. It’s not often you see these three on stage without guitars in their hands; wouldn’t mind that happening again.

N.B. Ed Geater produced Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP, that’s why he is on stage tonight. All the other artists are here from love, affinity, involvement or love. Life is quite simple.

BREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17 / Ed King - Birmingham ReviewRound Two is a showcase of Urban Gypsy II, the full EP getting performed with a selection of guests – kicking off, as the god of track listing intended, with the dreamlike ‘Dreamers’. A surprisingly effective cover of ‘Genie in a Bottle’ comes up next, with a mix of vox pops and ‘eerie sounds’ taking us into ‘Birds’ – the second track from the EP in question.

The rib digging ‘Only Girl in Manville’ gets a darker delivery, as the band step back to let the words speak for themselves, before the first (noticeable, at least) slip up on a running order that could have been Chrystal Maze challenge. But without missing a beat, figuratively or literally, a quick crowd search then a “come on up here girl” pulls Tina Amana up on stage for the ‘Say My Name’ cover, who I haven’t seen with Unique since the Sun at the Station gig back in March 2015. It’s a beautiful silver lining, and represents the genuine love and support that fills up this room tonight. They even share a mic. Although that was more a technical issue than some crazed close quarter duet.BREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17 / Ed King - Birmingham Review

Leanne Louise is our next guest of honour, as her and Unique banter back and forth with ‘Hashtag’; no egos, a shared stage and joint presence. Job done. Then a journey back to the source with ‘The Wife’, before the final two tracks from Call Me Unique’s new EP, ‘Shoulda’ and ‘Ashon’, gets their turn in the spotlight tonight. There’s a lot of personal exposure on Urban Gypsy II but perhaps these two tracks are amongst the more visceral – challenging hypocritical fists in the former and honouring a ‘son who never got to breathe’ in the latter. But I’ll sum up the end of this set, of this gig, of this obstacle course release, in one word. Strength. Even with tears streaming down your face.

Call Me Unique has a few more to add anyway, with her standard call to “support local artists” getting sandwiched with a more mature declaration of strength. There’s that word again. But oddly, perhaps, perhaps not, it was the call to “make this our home” that I walk out of the venue carrying closest. The Yardbird was an important playground for BREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewCall Me Unique and others; full of talent, ambition and garrulous endevour. It meant a lot to many. And whilst I’ve only been in Mama Roux’s a handful of times I’m old enough to see something unfolding itself here, tonight, with an honest soul at the centre. And I can all too easily be a cynic.

So go out and buy Urban Gypsy II, support your local music scene, support your local music venues. Do as she says. And someone, somewhere under the arches in Digbeth, with an address book and a diary, should start seriously clicking their heals together.

‘…there’s no place like home.’

Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP is out now, launched at Mama Roux’s on Friday 5th May. For more on Call Me Unique, including online sales of Urban Gypsy II, visit

For more from Mama Roux’s, including a full events programme and online ticket sales, visit

BPREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP – launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17

BPREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17Words by Ed King 

On Friday 5th May, Call Me Unique will launch her new Urban Gypsy II EP at Mama Roux’s.

Doors open at 8:30pm, with kicking out time bang on the witching hour. Entry is a curious ‘Pay as You Feel’, but it would be worth saving some shekles for a copy of the Urban Gypsy II EP itself which will be on sale for the first time on Friday. Plus there’s a bar and Digbeth Dining Club… For more direct gig info, click here.

That being said, you’re going to get more artists on stage than is probably good for you – so throwing some money at the rider bill might be a considerate gesture. Joining Call Me Unique will be Ed Geater, Leanne Louise, Malik MD7, Lady Sanity, Trademark Blud, Boy October (Christian Deveaux), RTKal, Keziasoul, Affie Jam, Juggernaut, Simon Jnr. Plus ‘a few surprises’, which could well be the fire department turning up to make sure there’s still room on stage.

It’s a local luminary love in, celebrating a new body of work from Call Me Unique getting its first on stage outing. And why not, damn it. Birmingham Review was there for the Urban Gypsy I EP launch in 2014 where the same good vibes and good will PACKED OUT The Yardbird on a cold Monday in January, and we’ve have been chomping at several bits for the past… three years, three months and eight days to hear the follow up. There’s an album lurking in the background somewhere too; big things this year, as the girl with the guitar grows ever closer to a more mature spotlight.

Urban Gypsy I was a storming EP; you can read my BREVIEW of the release here and the BREVIEW of The Yardbird launch party here. Its only misstep was not having an album to back it up. Time past, creative frustrations grew, Call Me Unique started building a significant fan base in mainland Europe and I honestly didn’t know if we’d get our second pound of flesh from this artist.

Then, eventually, a ZIP file of Urban Gypsy II lands in my inbox; I’ll admit more than a few nails didn’t make it that morning.

BPREVIEW: Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP - launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17Produced by Ed Geater, Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP is a ‘richer landscape’ than its predecessor, with 6 tracks (including the beautiful ‘Dreamers’ intro) of honest intent. Moments more ‘dark and brooding’, then mournful, are followed by a playful lilt and, ultimately, hope; there’s a definite step up in both the confidence and sound of this EP.

The content has matured too, with Call Me Unique shining a unashamed light on some deeply personal subject matter: domestic violence, ‘a son who never got to breathe’, love, the betrayal of love, fickleness, friendship, the fight for mental health, and above all a woman’s strength to stay in the game and smile whilst winning it. It’s beautiful, worth the wait, and as I said in my BREVIEW of the lead single ‘Shoulda’, brings a ‘proud treble clef tear to my eye’. Birmingham has some incredible talent at the moment, with Call Me Unique and her peers that appear on this EP being amongst the top strata. Proud is the word.

Ed Geater, a man whose name has been on this site a few times recently, has also mastered the production (if you’ll excuse the wording). Proving to be just as talented behind the glass as his is on stage, Geater’s work on Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP is exactly what you’d want from a producer – pulling the strong strands from an artist, getting them to own their own, then tying them together for the world to understand.

But you’ll get to see/hear for yourself soon enough. So hold on until the end of the week, get yourself to Mama Roux’s or the various online outlets, check out Urban Gypsy II, then watch all those eager years and crossed fingers start to fade… fade… fade… Just add album.

Call Me Unique’s Urban Gypsy II EP – launch night @ Mama Roux’s 05.05.17


Call Me Unique launches her Urban Gypsy II EP at Mama Roux’s on Friday 5th May – for direct gig info, click here. For more on Call Me Unique, visit


For more from Mama Roux’s, including a full events programme and online ticket sales, visit


BREVIEW: Black Honey + Pleasure House, Dream Wife @ Mama Roux’s 10.10.16

Black Honey / Taken from www.londoninstereo.comWords by Billy Beale

Imagine going back in time and telling somebody that one day a band will win the title of ‘BBC Radio 6 Music Most Blogged About Band’. Even now, it sounds a bit nonsense – like ‘most relatable Tweet’ or whatever Vine is for.

Black Honey won that title from 6 Music in 2015, meaning that last year people were talking about these guys more than any other group, even much bigger names that had been all over the mainstream music press. Time to see if they live up to the hype – as Black Honey play Birmingham’s Mama Roux’s, at the tail end of their eight date UK tour.

Pleasure House, in a homecoming show that marks the end of an up-and-down tour of the nation, duly open tonight’s show. It is a sign of these post-DeMarco times that every band apparently needs at least one member to find the oldest baseball cap they can and never, ever remove it.

Their two opening songs, both on the topic of being “fucked up”, draw heavily on the sound of the slacker pop zeitgeist, but with heavier riffs and strong, prominent vocals from singer and guitarist Alex Heffernan. It is these vocals that prevent Pleasure House from sounding like every other tight and slick indie pop band. Their older songs are more typical 21st Century British indie disco than the openers but lack any real distinctive characteristics beyond a soulful voice and being undeniably well-executed.

Dream Wife look every part the riot grrrl group with the notable exception of singer Rakel Mjöll, who looks more like an 80’s horror movie blonde. In keeping with the movie-cheerleader image, her stage antics include a lot of jumping and chanting between delicate gesticulations from the Mick Jagger and Jarvis Cocker Book of Stagecraft. It’s not dissimilar to the mental image of a very small child on the stage of some awful televised talent competition, surprising everybody by doing a very energetic and enthusiastic rendition of a Blondie song but missing much of the cadence and rhythm. This image is not extinguished when Mjöll has a good go at shouting “I WANNA FUCK YOU UUUUUUP” later in the set. Black Honey Tour Poster 2016

A strong visual aesthetic is a great asset to a band, and Black Honey have honed and refined theirs to a degree not often seen at their level. The chosen font for the logo, the desert theme to their graphics, the video for ‘Hello Today’ (a three-minute homage to 60’s exploitation movies, much like Tarantino’s Death Proof or Kill Bill: Volume 2) is all very consciously American. Mods-and-rockers might be played out, particularly for a Brighton band like themselves, but Black Honey’s vintage US appearance doesn’t always match their songs.

For most of their set tonight, Black Honey sound like a British indie band with elements of 70’s US Southern rock stirred through. Singer Izzy B Phillips is reminiscent of Metric’s Emily Haines, with enough range to carry the darker, sparse, slower tracks as well as the bouncier pop. Unfazed by a rowdy crowd, Phillips relishes in reaching out over their heads and instructing them not to mosh and fight, but hug and sway. As far as crowd reactions go, Black Honey get nothing but unambiguous adoration from their Birmingham fans. Their music is often formulaic and predictable – verse, chorus, guitar solo with a Whammy effect, coda, repeat – but judging from the response, it seems to be working.

The latter half of Black Honey’s set sees less of the samey structures and more variation of dynamics and genre. ‘Spinning Wheel’ shows more of their American influence in the form of surf rock worthy of a Tarantino soundtrack, contrasting with the anthemic dreamy indie of ‘Corrine’.

There are a lot of sonic influences that make up Black Honey and, while they’re not always completely in balance, the end result is a professional show with flashes of genius. And whether they’re still the most blogged about band in late 2016, whatever’s left that stands between them and bigger things had better watch out because they’re coming.

For more on Black Honey, visit

For more from Mama Roux’s, visit

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