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Slice of Life - Don't Turn Away - album - cover

Review: Slice of Life. 2019. Don’t Turn Away. Overground Records. LP | CD | digital download. Released 16 August 2019.

FOR A PROJECT that emerged from discussions amongst a bunch of musicians biding their time in airport departure lounges in the closing weeks of The Last Supper tour, Slice of Life has proved to be a remarkablly productive and a resilient musical collaboration. From the moment the band formed, its live and studio activities have wrapped around the other commitments of band members for whom it’s far from their only creative outlet.

As Slice of Life’s identity has crystallized, the band has shown itself just as home on the stage of major festivals as it has been at tiny, cramped punk shows or when holding court at art centres, micro-pubs and other quirky venues across the country and beyond. When it comes to longevity, by the turn of this year, Slice of Life will have been in existence longer than Schwarzenegger (1992-95), Stratford Mercenaries (1995-99) or, for that matter, Crass (1977-84).

As a live act, Slice of Life is definitively Ignorant’s show. He’s ably backed by his trio of talented musicians, but it’s Ignorant who fronts the act, handles the introductions, tells the jokes, delivers the side-stories and pulls the reminiscences and recollections from memory while the band await the next musical cue. Away from the live experience, when you listen to the band’s studio work, the material is immediately reframed in a more collaborative light.

This latest release shows the band growing in collective musical confidence… The result is a compelling mixture of the melancholic and the militant

Don’t Turn Away offers a collection of impassioned, emotionally literate, heartfelt songs which alternate between the empathic and the indignant with an equal sense of confidence. Extending the lyrical vista of 2014’s Love and a Lampost, this material sees Ignorant exploring the themes of personal frailties, of self-doubt and of mental resilience alongside wider concerns of resistance and righteous rebellion. This latest release shows the band growing in collective musical confidence, while frontman Steve Ignorant’s lyrical preoccupations see him move further into more personal, reflective areas alongside wider social and political concerns. The result is a compelling mixture of the melancholic and the militant.

The spartan, stripped back sounds of the band provide few hiding spaces and without the comfort of volume and projection it’s hugely important that they’re tight and rock solid. Carol Hodges brings both a power and a disarming, lilting quality to her work on keyboards, setting the emotional tone for many of the songs. She’s also an extraordinarily accomplished vocalist, although only gets the chance to really show those talents on a few songs here. Pete Wilson on guitar and Pete Rawlinson on bass have developed a great partnership, and in the studio it’s even more evident how effectively the pair craft a rich, full soundscape through clever musical choices and astute understatement.

They craft a space in which Ignorant can make best use of the power of restraint or fully let rip. Ignorant is completely at home belting it out there, but here he allows the quietness of his vocals on different numbers to reveal the vulnerability of a voice pushed to the edges of this singer’s comfort zone. In thinking through his delivery, Ignorant makes great play in his phrasing of hitting (or deliberately sliding past) the subtle percussive beats of the band.

Title track Don’t Turn Away sets the tone perfectly; framing the album’s key creative tension between razor-sharp and sometimes bitter lyrics and beautiful, unfussy acoustic musical arrangements. The seething, barely contained rage of Your Day Will Come, its tense, terse invective pushing against the lightness of the jazz-infused melody, its disarming singsong textures and its rich vocal harmonies.

The Right Way shares a similar juxtaposition, its delicate musical motifs providing a perfect backing for Ignorant’s storytelling. This time his ire is directed towards the self-obsessed keyboard warriors of the web, whose arrogance and disdain can often hide resentful self-doubt. (Its simple but seductive chorus is also an irresistible earworm).

S.A.D. is a thoughtful and sensitive appreciation of mental health challenges, depression first among them. Its explores the sense of weakness and vulnerability that can overwhelm those afflicted by its darkness, and urges empathy and honesty in confronting the stigma and silence. It’s one of the most powerful and affecting moments on the album.

A thoughtful, personal statement of outrage which sees Ignorant push his voice to the point of cracking with the strength of his conviction

The Story Continues might sound more like the title of a Conflict song, but this is a more intricate and its layered affair, with the feel and texture of a confidential late night fireside chat about the iniquities of the world. Song for Myself sees Ignorant calling once again on the spirit of Alan Sillitoe (author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning) to deliver another melancholic and beautifully atmospheric reflection on self-doubt, loneliness ageing, endurance and personal resilience (“The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Gigger”, perhaps?)

The joyous Diffability sees Ignorant channelling Ian Dury’s songbook, in a riotous and sympathetic shout-out to the weirdos, the outsiders and the “non-normal” of the world in a celebration of uniqueness and individuality. It’s the most straightforwardly upbeat song in the collection, and benefits from that contrast.

Three songs on the album have evolved from the time that Ignorant was fronting Stratford Mercenaries. Slaughterhouse is as passionate an acoustic number as it was as the frothy singalong Won’t Get Me on the 1998 album No Sighing Strains of Violins. Originally appearing on the same album, Stretford Blue is always a highlight of the Slice of Life live set, lit up by Ignorant’s raging vocals as he takes aim at the posturing and plastic rebellion of those who profit from the system they profess to despise (Hodges’ singing is completely ace on this too). Stratford Mercenaries’ song This is Our World here morphs into the fantastic and fitting endpoint Whistle Down the Wind, a thoughtful, personal statement of outrage which sees Ignorant push his voice to the point of cracking through the strength of his conviction.

This is a powerful, assured, convincing set of songs that show Ignorant setting down a marker and asserting his own independence of thought. Back in 2011, The Last Supper tour generated criticism as well as excitement, but that sense of hostility seems to have quietened, affording him more space to perform and switch between whichever voice from his repertoire (from full-on punk to reflective acoustic artiste) he chooses. Next year’s tour of Crass songs will see him reinhabit the former; it’ll be fascinating to see where his experimentation with his other musical and lyrical personas will take him next. On the strength of this album, who the hell would want to turn away from finding out?

Slice of Life. 2019. Don’t Turn Away. Overground Records. LP | CD – Available from Overground Records.

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INTRCNTL RHYMES & RIDDIMS
14 June 2019
Nosturi, Helsinki
Advance tickets
Presented by Gramma’s Sausage

SLICE OF LIFE, THE EX and Interrobang join the line-up of INTRCNTL RHYMES & RIDDIMS taking place in Nosturi, Helsinki on 14 June 2019.

HR & Human Rights
The Ex
Interrobang
The Katmandu Killers
Paprika Korps
Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life
 

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Slice of Life - Ramsgate - 5 April 2019

STEVE IGNORANT HAS announced the first dates of Slice of Life’s upcoming ‘Don’t Turn Away’ tour, which will showcase new material from the band’s shortly-to-be-released new Don’t Turn Away album.

Further details will be made available on Ignorant’s web site as these are confirmed.

Slice of Life ‘Don’t Turn Away’ tour 2019

APRIL

  • 4 April – Devonshire Arms, Cambridge
  • 5 April – Music Hall, Ramsgate
  • 6 April – Lewes Con Club, Lewes (now with Zounds, due to The Cravats unavailability)
  • 18 April – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds (the first of the triple-header gigs with Headsticks and Interrobang?)
  • 19 April – The Rigger, Newcastle-under-Lyme (the second of the triple header gigs with Headsticks and Interrobang?)
  • 20 April – The Maze, Nottingham (the third of the triple-header gigs with Headsticks and Interrobang?)
  • 21 April – Dementia Aware Fest at Dolls House, Abertillery

JULY

  • 4 July – Katie Fitzgeralds, Stourbridge
  • 5 July – Old Cinema Laundarette, Durham
  • 8 July – Dog And Parrot, Eastwood
  • 25 July – Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester
  • 26 July – The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading
  • 27 July – The Riviera in Boscombe, Bournemouth
  • 28 July – BESTIVAL, Lulworth Estate

AUGUST

  • 1-4 August REBELLION, Blackpool

Slice of Life - Zounds - Lewes - 6 April 2019

Slice of Life - Eastwood - 8 July 2019

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Headsticks - Interrobang? - Slice of Life - Eastfield - Nottingham - 20 April 2019

SLICE OF LIFE, INTERROBANG? AND Headsticks share rotating ‘top billing’ over three dates this April, with gigs in Leeds (18 April), Newcastle-under-Lyme (19 April) and Nottingham (20 April) in a mini-tour organised by Both Eyes Open.

Ticket for all three shows can be bought in advance online from Gigantic.com. Anyone purchasing tickets to all three days will be given a limited edition gift upon presentation of all three ticket stubs at The Maze gig in Nottingham.

Interrobang / Slice of Life / Headsticks
18 April 2019

Brudenell Social Club
Leeds LS6 1NY

Slice of Life / Headsticks / Interrobang?
19 April 2019
The Rigger
Newcastle-under-Lyme ST5 1BT

Headsticks / Interrobang? / Slice of Life / Jessie from Eastfield
20 April 2019
The Maze
Nottingham NG1 3FT

 Slice of Life - Headsticks - Interrobang? - Newcastle Under Lyme - 19 April 2019

 Slice of Life - - Interrobang? - Slice of Life - Headsticks - Leeds - 18 April 2019

Slice of Life - Interrobang - Headsticks

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Slice of Life - S.A.D
 
SLICE OF LIFE have released a new official video for new song S.A.D.

Annoucing the news on the Louder than War site, Carole Hodges explained: “S.A.D is a song very close to Steve’s heart. Written with a definite nod towards its Seasonal Affective Disorder namesake, the lyrics plead with the listener for “some kind of love”, always indecisive as to whether such a gesture will be accepted or rejected by the sufferer.”

The black-and-white video was shot at Union Mills in Bolton, and was filmed and produced by RKidMedia.

Slice of Life are currently working on a new album, with a released date penciled in for this summer.

 

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Slice of Life - The Cravats - Rubella Ballet - 100 Club, London, 15 December 2018 - Slice of Life poster

Slice of Life, The Cravats, Rubella Ballet
The 100 Club, London
15 December 2018
7.30pm – 11.00pm
Tickets: £15.00 adv.

Crass co-founder and vocalist, Steve Ignorant, brings his new acoustic project, Slice of Life featuring Carol Hodge, Pete Wilson and Pete Rawlinson to the 100 Club for one night only. Crass formed in 1977 and once the band had split Steve worked with Conflict, Current 93, Stratford Mercenaries, Paranoid Visions and Thought Crime. His autobiography “All The Rest Is Propaganda” came out in 2010.

Rubella Ballet are a gothic anarcho-punk band who were formed in 1979 by vocalist Zillah Minx and drummer Sid Ation. Annie Anxiety was their vocalist for a while and ex-members of the Fatal Microbes made up the rest of the group. Rubella Ballet have played alongside Crass, Poison Girls, Faith No More, The Mission, The Damned, Subhumans and more.

Sax-riddled dada punk combo, The Cravats, emerged from Redditch, England in 1977. Signed to Small Wonder Records, they also recorded a series of BBC Radio One John Peel Sessions before splitting in 1982.

Slice of Life - The Cravats - Rubella Ballet - 100 Club, London, 15 December 2018 - Rubella Ballet poster

Slice of Life - The Cravats - Rubella Ballet - 100 Club, London, 15 December 2018 - Facebook poster


 
Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life – Do They Owe Us A Living? – 100 Club – 12 January 2018

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The Membranes, Islington, London - 5 October 2018

The Membranes (with choir), Slice of Life, The Cravats, The Wolfhounds
5 October 2018
Islington Assembly Hall
Upper Street, Islington, N1 2UD London
Advanced tickets: £16.50-£19.25

The Membranes and choir announce special London gig on Friday October 5th at Islington Assembly Rooms with Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life, The Cravats and The Wolfhounds.

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