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The Margaret Hooligans - Stonehengers (Piety Street Publishing)

27 May 2024

This may only be my third time out with the brilliantly named Margaret Hooligans but I already know they are my sort of band. Then again, I probably knew how much I loved them within about 30 seconds of hearing “Royal Octopus Canal.” (Who calls a song “Royal Octopus Canal?”)

Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s that fine line they walk between familiarity and freshness, creativity and comfort zoning, underground antics and mainstream potential that really does it for me. That’s a lot of artistic tightropes to balance, but they dance deftly along each one.

And so to their latest musical missive. Anything that kicks off as if it were an alternative version of Joan Jet’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” (okay, The Arrows…same difference) and then proceeds to blend off-kilter drums with hard rock ukulele before going on to slightly deconstruct the whole pop song format, is always going to be a winner with me.

We get bluesy slides and rock energies, glam-along grooves and sing-along choruses, stomping pop power and eclectic yet not too far “out-there” avant gardening. It seems to me that The Margaret Hooligans make music which is, in part, at least, an anagram of what the listener might be comfortable with. They take familiar sounds and styles, genres and elements, mix them up and then put them back together in intriguing new orders. The result is that it all sounds totally right and yet wonderfully wrong.