Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Desperate Journalist – Live at JT Soar Review

Live music has been and always will be a perfect way to find new artists. Holding firm and darting through the crowd to a bar and back again with two half-filled plastic cups of vodka is difficult enough. Having piercing guitar work and incredible vocals strike through out of the blue, drawing attention right to the Albert Hall stage an hour before Suede kick things up on their recent tour, is even harder. It is not Desperate Journalist to blame for some denim-wearing fool spilling half a vodka down themselves, but their excellent music and their energetic live performance. That much is captured on their Live at JT Soar record, one that plants the listener right there in the crowd, and what a treat it is.  

Hollow has cemented itself as the essential opener for Desperate Journalist. A wake-up call before rallying through the jangle pop experiments of Cristina. Jo Bevan maintains that vocal strength and stays consistent with this a near hour of reasons to love Desperate Journalist. Rob Hardy and Charley Stone offer up some excellent examples of their guitar work, consistently showcasing what they bring to the table. Personality Girlfriend is that integral link between Hardy, Stone and Bevan, listening in to that interplay is the penny-drop moment for what Desperate Journalist are and how they work. No wonder Suede asked them to warm their crowds up night in, night out. Live at JT Soar is a warm record that succeeds in capturing the mood Desperate Journalist set on that stage as though it were an easy task.  

Howling intimacies on Fine in the Family are reminiscent of that colloquial charm always championed by the indie roots of good cities. Desperate Journalist are more than capable of impressing with their smoothly implemented guitar riffs and the drumming from Caz Helbert that holds it all together, but a personal flicker on every track elevates them. These are not the droning pop riffs of now, these are the jangle-clad intensity of a band that may have despair in their title but are far from it. Blinded by her own mascara and pushing on through, Bevan and Desperate Journalist are a band, that as their song would suggest, are everything you wanted. Poison Pen, Organ and Be Kind are all incredible highlights that offer up the range and crucially, the reason listening to Desperate Journalist, is such a treat.  

For those lucky enough to have experienced Desperate Journalist live, Live at JT Soar proves invaluable. An absolute and demanding recording of the band at their best, charting their best and latest bits and pieces. For those that had the pleasure of hearing them twice in one tour, this live record will throw up more of the good stuff, the bits that there just is not the time for in an opening set. Plucked right from the heart of Nottingham, this live record has the sleek qualities of a studio recording and much of that is down to how well the band come together, how they rally forward and put together a stunning collection of tracks. An absolute essential live record, one that stands out among the excellent sea of live recordings last year, from Richard Hawley to Sam Fender. Desperate Journalist more than hold their own.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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