Ready for some feisty folk music? That might sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t at all for London quintet The Sticklers. There’s a spunky, defiant enthusiasm in the vocals of Gabi Garbutt, who is a guitarist and a published poet. Her fire is nimbly matched by Lee Milward’s spirited violin and Chris Brambley’s melodic guitar lines. Propelling it along is the rhythm section of Tom Newis and Lorenzo Levrini. While the music is decidedly upbeat, lyrically it’s a bit more complicated.
Garbutt’s inspiration comes from literary musicians such as Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith. To hear her gutsy British accent on “Down By The Waterside” (the B-side of the new single, inspired by Malcolm Lowry’s novella Lunar Caustic) is heartwarming and for me, it adds power to her storytelling prowess. According to the band, “Breakfast In Hell” is a “magical portrait of two lowers in a damned republic.” In the official video, they bring to life a mystical (and to my eyes, kinda creepy) puppet party in the woods in the dead of night.
It’s quite a cohesive, sophisticated sound for such a new band. The Sticklers came into being in 2013 with the release of their Hold It Up To The Light EP. A series of shows around London was followed by the single Mr Need Love, with accompanying video filmed on a barge. Back in August, they released the song “Unhappy Family” and here we are with Breakfast In Hell. Need love, unhappy family, breakfast in hell — sounds like a troubling theme, but if you end up feeling a little sad, just listen to that fiddle and kick up your heels! It’s early days yet, so unless you’re living in or around London, you might have to wait a little while to see these kids in action. Follow them on Facebook and keep an eye out!