Solo Thievery

Kindest of Thieves

Serial Mothers and Terminal Hunchbanks

I Tunes

That Chris Fox can write a mean tune, play a mean guitar, and has a very good voice is in no doubt.

That he has graced the local musical stages over the last few years in two great bands – Para Zali! and The Kindest of Thieves is also in no doubt.

So how should we feel if he strips it all down to solo acoustic guitar, and vox recorded in a seriously reverbed room – no drums and no bass?

Well – surprisingly enough – we should feel very satisfied.

In this context, although Fox readily admits the recording is “very lo-fi and stripped” (two ribbon microphones and an acoustic guitar) , the quality of the voice and the song-writing comes through strongly.

And maybe this album  is Fox’s “Nebraska”, a career defining moment which shakes him away from the original sleazy blues feel of the first band, and the indie pop, rock n’ roll, and, rockabilly sensibilities of the second band. He sounds like he is redefining himself here – there’s a bit of growing up going on and the mature nature of the lyrics and feel of the songs perhaps signals a future direction.

Chris says of this set of songs…..” It seemed like all 7 songs really seemed to tie in to the same concepts which were Families, Loveless Relationships, and trying to fix relationships that are beyond saving. I’ve thought a lot about families, as at this point in my life I can’t ever imagine having children of my own, and this thought has unsettled me greatly. I’ve focussed on saving relationships because when I observe people in love, I always ask myself if they can really be as happy as they appear. This was the first time ever I’ve written songs that aren’t solely autobiographical.”

For my part I found this to be a very compelling set of tunes – I would maybe like to hear songs of this quality given a good recording session to bring out the nuances of the material – but maybe they would lose something if this was to happen – perhaps it’s the simplicity of the recording technique that brings out the best in his writing?

Probably best described as a mini-album – half way between an EP and a full album – it’s 21 minutes 30 seconds well spent.


Salford Music Scene – 13th March 2012

On this weeks show ( you can hear it here):

1 The Centrals Lack of Love Demo Track
2 Premise Beach Hold Me Now Single
3 John Herring I Haven’t Got A Clue It Starts Again
4 Emma Elisabeth If I Could The Coldness of Winter
5 The Kindest of Thieves Go To Town On Me Ever The Optimist
6 Easter Pages Innocence Man
7 Beyond Recognition The Illusion The Illusion
8 White Cliff You Know Demo Track
9 Today They Are Older Anger is more useful than despair Demo Track
10 Mandrake The Old Church Chapel Demo Track
12 Glass Ankle Without You Here Demo Track
12 John Herring Moments Like This It Starts Again
13 The Fall Impression of J Temperance Grotesque After The Gramme

Salford Music Scene – 6th March 2012

Another slice of the increasingly exciting music scen (sic) around the Salford and the North West…….

Starting with another cut from the great new EP from Warrington’s “Kindest of Thieves” – as reviewed elsewhere on this blog – moving swiftly on to an excellent band from Manchester called The Centrals. Next up the ever glorious Mr Heart –  one of the three bands playing at SCRs gig at the Kings Arms on Thursday night…..then a nice taster from the soon to be released album from John Herring (listening party for the album on Friday Night at the Kings again!).

Then the second band playing on Thursday – Kill for Company – utterly chuffed that they are featured in the NME website with a vid filmed by fellow SCR DJ Tony Thornborough, and then the excellent new single from the stunning Ninetails – and very good it is. Then the bill toppers for Thursday – Whipcord – it’s their 150th gig!  You’ll be sorry if you missed this august point in the bands history. Moston madness from the gorgeous English Mutts is followed by surf reggae genius from the always inventive Kit B.

Another John Herring track is followed by some rock from a great Manchester band – Beyond Recognition – and then a quick trip west up the M62 for a great Liverpool band called White Cliff.

Matters conclude with a track from the very excellent new album from Easter – “Innocence Man” – a stunning debut! – and a bit of Fall magic from 1980.

Listen here ……

1 Kindest of Thieves Amelia Ever The Optimist
2 The Centrals Saturday Night Shenanigans Demo Track
3 Mr Heart Dynamo The Hide
4 John Herring It Starts Again It Starts Again
5 Kill for Company Tongue Tattoo Singles Collection
6 Ninetails Rawdon Fever Rawdon Fever
7 Whipcord Mistlead Whipcord
8 English Mutts Jimmi Greenteeth Demo Track
9 Kit B Hulmenoid Demo Track
10 John Herring Ghosts It Starts Again
11 Beyond Recognition Who is 67? The Illusion
12 White Cliff Last Time Demo Track
13 Easter Something American Innocence Man
14 The Fall City Hobgoblins Single

Music Diary #36 – 14th February 2012 plus Salford Music Scene Radio Show

I’d been concerned for some time that there was not enough new local stuff to play on this radio show – however things have improved of late and the selection on this weeks broadcast reflects a very healthy scene across Salford & Manchester and the surrounding boroughs (with a sideways trip to Margate to reflect a forthcoming extravaganza at the Crescent).

So the track listing for this show is – and you can listen here

1 Naked Veins Ride EP
2 The Kindest of Thieves Personal Best Ever The Optimist
3 Boomin Chocolate Demo
4 The Christophers Wisdom Single
5 Kingdom Lost Reverence Demos
6 The Fevers Dead Single
7 Death to the Strange Fill Up The Days Album Demos
8 The Kindest of Thieves Bones Ever The Optimist
9 Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton I Am Kathy Kirby EP
10 Naked Veins Second Nature EP
11 The Words Demons Single
12 The Words Siren Single
13 Stolen Mushrooms Miami Demos
14 The Fall Smile Perverted By Language

Pops Love Thing

The Kindest of Thieves

Ever The Optimist

Release Date : Unknown

What once was “Para Zali” and a ‘blues soaked’ dirty sexy sound is now “The Kindest of Thieves” and a ‘pop soaked’ entirely different confection.

What hasn’t changed is Chris Fox’s mellow vocal sound and the lyrics which get a strong “well above average” score from this listener. He also writes a damn good tune.

Whilst I might hanker after the more dangerous sound of the previous incarnation of the band there is charming, and perhaps more appropriate, English sound to this set of songs.

And trying to listen to the band as they are now instead of what they were is the key aim in reviewing it is it not?

So i’m immediately drawn to the airy chords of “Amelia” which reminds me of an amalgam of The Smiths and Orange Juice. There are also echoes of 10,000 Maniacs in structure and I can quite imagine Natalie Merchant having a go at it. A perfect pop song.

The descending bass riff of “Go to Town on Me” will be recognisable to all, and to some degree the blues past of Fox and Co emerges somewhat in this sultry little number which is packed with American musical references but also has Brechtian echoes both lyrically and in the vocal delivery. The key change at the end is perhaps a bit too obvious but generally this is another excellent piece of pop writing.

“Bones” recalls the 10,000 Maniacs reference with its African style guitar-ing which morphs into a para-skanking piece of bubbling rhythm – indeed the band manage to effortlessly mix English indie pop sensibility (think Mozza but with more oomph) with a rich cocktail of other styles.

The ska motif returns with the closing “Personal Best” which manages to sound a little country and western in parts with it’s toe-tapping rhythm and rising riff and jangly chords – I get the feeling this will be stand-out track for you after you have listened to it a few times. I happen to think it is the best piece amongst a collection of four very good tunes.

If I am drawing a current comparison I would point to the work that Mike Chadwick is doing with “Limbs” at the moment – english pop sensibility with transatlantic references but overall in lyrical content and delivery a particularly British pop sound (not in the Brit-Pop sense) more Robyn Hitchcock than Ray Davies let’s say.

Not sure when this is out, or indeed what lable it is on, but I would recommend you track it down when it does come out as its rather fine indeed.

More info and some nice video bits will give you a sense of the EP here .

Pending that release here is an acoustic set from the band with two other songs……you’ll get a sense of what I am on about from these….

Salford Music Scene – 16th August 2011

Featuring :

  • Suzuki Method : Be Cruel, Be Kind – showcase event Thursday nights at the Band on the Wall with “No Flash” (who I will play on next weeks show) and “China White” and….
  • Rawcuss : John Travolta – the second single…..
  • The Calimocho Club : Roll the Dice – from the new EP “Whoa Whoa Hey Hey” – they play Islington Mill on Friday with “Emperor Zero” and “Pulsebeats”
  • Matthew Petit : Summer Blood – from his EP
  • Kill for Company : Next Time – from the Greenhouse Sessions…..I love this band
  • Ninetails : Pedestrian – from the new EP “Ghost Ride the Whip” pre-order  from
  • Fidel and the Castros : Lullaby – a demo CD was sent to me some time ago, and I played it then and I thought – this is good I will play it again….
  • The Kindest of Thieves : Fox and the Thief/Sounded Like A Hiss – from the recent recording sessions – I assume these are going to be on the album – slight change in direction from the “Para Zali” days but the raw blues sound is still in there.
  • Hot Vestry : Be The Real Man – from the Dust EP
  • Ninetails : Social Guesswork – as above
  • Kill for Company : Now You Know – as above – and there will be a new tune next week which is rather good as well……you can download these tunes from
  • Limbs : Gameshow Tycoon (What Biscuit) – early version of a Limbs classic…
  • The Fall : The Joke – MES at his acerbic best from the “Cerebral Caustic” album which saw the return of Brix….
To listen to the show click on the link below……

Salford Music Scene – 9th August 2011

Mostly new stuff on this show

  • Humanizer – Arthur Brown Gets Me Down – from the new EP “This Tiny Universe” which came out on Hacienda Records on 8th August
  • Limbs – The Worms Want Blood – a sample track from the forthcoming album
  • The Reveres – The Death of Miss X – the new single part 1
  • Baby Strange – Fair is Fair – from the demo CD
  • Rawcuss – Manchester News – the new single
  • Lee Rice – Lost Without A Cause – a new track from the front man of the recently split Overeasies
  • Kill for Company – To Disappear – another track from my fave new band of the moment
  • The Wonderland Trip – Bring Back The Sunshine – they are around and about gigging catch them
  • Ryko Saints – X is Next – as are they…..
  • The Reveres – Riders From Zero – new single part 2
  • The Sandells – Striptease – a new instrumental from our very own masters of Kraut-Punk
  • Tom Byrne and Friends – Another One Falls – caught this young man with his band last Friday – very impressive
  • The Kindest of Thieves – The Kindest of Thieves – they are gigging also … more newer stuff on next weeks show
  • Baby Strange – My Neighbours A Killer – as above
  • Hot Vestry – Commiserations – another track from the new EP
  • The Fall – Blood Outta Stone – a Beddington-Smith classic from 1990 – originally appeared on the White Lightning/Dredger single/EP
To listen then click the link…..