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I am sure you were all up for 4 hours of live TV on Saturday night, eager to clock those public votes adhering to partisan lines once more. Yes, the Eurovision Song Contest was back and it was no surprise that political baggage weighed heavily on proceedings, that the UK got nul points from the public although panel votes saved Olly Alexander from wipeout while, in an odd outbreak of symmetry, the winner was from politically neutral Switzerland. Nemo’s win seemed justified by his remarkably surefooted act of surfing across a giant upturned pivoting dish while extracting an operatic falsetto yodel.   


While I warmed to the silliness of Finland’s Windows95Man, who looked like a Weird Al tribute act, and Croatia’s Baby Lasagna whose “Rim Tim Tagi Dim” was the earworm you really didn’t want to go to bed with, I thought the best song and vocal performance by far came from Portugal’s iolanda. Along with France and Croatia the UK panel agreed, awarding her song “Grito” douze points while she garnered a miserly baker’s dozen from the entire public vote; which of course was 13 more than poor Olly got for “Dizzy.” There is more than a touch of traditional Fado about the melody and delivery by iolanda, skilfully married to modern R&B pop tones; top marks too for delivering this in her home language which you don’t need to understand to get the gist of her emotive self-assertion.

From Lisbon to Liverpool now where we find singer-songwriter Madison Leigh, for the first of our home-grown song selection this week. Madison studied music at BIMM Manchester and has been releasing songs since 2017, culminating in a debut EP, Red Room - Part One, in April last year.  She was recently chosen as one of three finalists by the director Sam Taylor-Johnson in the Bang & Olufsen Back to Black Competition and is working on a follow-up EP, Red Room - Part Two, due out later this summer. The EP will include Madison’s latest single which you can listen to here.

“I Didn’t Know” diverts a little from the sound of Madison’s other soulful songs as it takes its inspiration from the music of The Velvet Underground no less. Informed by past relationships and experiences, her lyrics strike a chord of openness while her vocal has a smoky, almost hypnotic tone which has overtones of her love of Nico’s style. Against a gently relaxed backing track, Madison adds an absorbing topline vocal which underlines her core range, smoothly deals with rises and falls and sprinkles little inflections along the way. The Red Room title and graphic reveal Madison to be a big Twin Peaks fan and I’m sure she’d be a shoe-in at The Roadhouse (OK, now the Bang Bang Bar).

First and foremost a thrilling live performer, it was encouraging that London’s Retropxssy was recognised as a rising star via inclusion in the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2024 Longlist. It is one of life’s mysteries that subsequently she was not chosen as one of the final eight which, win or lose, would have landed her a welcome slot at the festival. Triumphs and disappointments often go hand in hand in the music game and the resilience shown by Retropxssy to continue to work at her craft is much to be admired.

Retropxssy continues to play with song structure with her latest single, “All The Things.” It is again a short song and very much one that slots into a live show as part of an unfolding story. The bars come raw, quick and condensed into the first 45 seconds after which the song unwinds mantra-like into a rumination on the need to escape yet when there is nowhere to run. With production assistance from her wingman JoeJas, Retropxssy’s anxiously arching vocal over a circular arrangement adds a surreal edge to this notion of being trapped in a loop. Things cleverly grind to a halt with an unexpected tape stop. These are intriguing sounds once again from an artiste you just must catch live.

I’ve got to this next track a bit late but now seems as good a time as any to switch the spotlight from Retropxssy to her aforementioned friend and producer JoeJas who produces the tracks under the alias "HairyMuffinMan and works with her on her live shows. “WTF” is JoeJas’ first single since dropping his album Gaps & Nomads in 2022. It is the full works with JoeJas rapping, producing and shooting/editing the video. Drawing instrumental inspiration from early 2000’s R&B grooves, he describes the song as “a scream for all the people doing things their own way, making it work no matter what.” There is a freshness to the tune, invigorated by an off-kilter beat and his energetic delivery of some great lines.

ANFSCD… (Thank you, John Cleese). The accomplished south-east London trio, The Music of Sound, comprises composer Neil March aka Trust the Doc on synths and electronics, singer-songwriter Florie Namir (piano & vocals) and National Youth Orchestra member Elena Trent on flute. Actually, anyone who regularly browses these columns would already know that [We did – Sid & Doris Rocker]. Now signed to Monochrome Motif Records, the band is working towards the release of its debut album, Eleven Short Stories, on 26 July and recently shared a third foretaste of what will be a splendid event.

“Second Light” continues the mood of pastoral elegance that The Music of Sound embraces. The story tracks a real life event from songwriter Neil's past and to amplify the nostalgic effect, part of the accompanying video was shot on the estate in Leverstock Green, Herts where he grew up. It recalls him leaving at 5am on a Sunday morning to watch the sun rise; a perfect time for quiet reflection on deserted streets, to clear the mind and allow time to “dream out loud.” As ever vocalist Florie Namir strikes a beautifully balanced tone while Elena’s flute adds true colour and Neil’s synth work proudly underpins everything. There is something uplifting about The Music of Sound and it’s not just the hills that are alive.


FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 


Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.


In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.


Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy



Selected dates in the London area:

Fri 7 Jun: Alexandra Leaving/Frankie Morrow, The Waiting Room, London N16

Sat 8 Jun: Bat For Lashes, St John's Church, Kingston

Sun 9 Jun: Blanid, The Black Heart, London NW1

Mon 17 Jun: The Mysterines, St John's Church, Kingston

Thu 20 Jun: Charm of Finches, The Lexington, London N1 See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston


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