Madame Tinkertoy's Blues Factory
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Smoldering gloom-drenched intensity, stuck somewhere between filbert street and filmore west. desolate vocals and sombre instrumentation.
Bocca’s debut album demonstrates the bands ability to experiment with genres and push the boundaries of what a four piece band should sound like.
demo material had been previously released as promotional items but this was the first formal studio recording to be released.
the studio environment demanded a keen attention to detail without compromising that compelling live energy that head earned the band such a strong reputation in the uk.
"After a forebodingly listless opening attempt, Leicester based Bocca get their prog rock juices a-flowing. Complemented by their haunting visuals they set about stirring the crowd's primal instincts with a brooding set. Evocative violin play flits etherally over the hypnotic bassline creating a vulnerable yet primal soundscape, as their lead overdubs his vocals with the help of a second mic. A cross between the progressive expansiveness of Elbow and the epic pop savvy of the Doves, the set grows in stature as does the band's mesmeric effect over the rapt audience who applaud loudly as the closing track reaches it's [sic] sweeping crescendo."
Nick McDermott, Sandman Magazine
A fantastic debut album from the increasingly popular Bocca who are Ray Parkes, Andrew Askey, Dan Hessing and Alan Tang. The band is tight and they've combined a lot of different styles on the record giving it a wide appeal.
Madame Tinkertoy's Blues Factory is an album which grows on you like athletes foot but far less irritable. However, one track really does get under your skin, the wonderfully dark 'Caged'. A well produced sound and finely crafted songs make this an album really worth listening to. From the dirty, late-night blues groove of 'Street Theatre' to the out and out rock of 'A Mover and a Shaker' the songs all have a certain vibe which draws you in and leaves you emotionally exhausted. 'Is this love or loneliness?' singer Ray Parkes asks in 'Alibi', maybe both, you decide! Dan Hessing and Andrew Askey form a great rhythm section and Alan's violin and keys are used to great effect throughout, especially on 'Medina Quaboos' and on the instrumental version of 'Caged'. Also, check out how much Ray sounds like Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode on 'Street Theatre'. It's uncanny.
It's all about the mood with Bocca, sometimes it's sinister, sometimes it's uplifting and there's more happening on each track than most bands manage on an entire album. The record's an absolute gem and the band are in good form as they look toward gigs at the Attik in Leicester and at Lincoln University supporting the Bluetones and Matthew Jay. The album's out now on Captive Recordings and I recommend getting a copy. You'll find it in Ainleys, Rockaboom and Timebox Records.
Listenability ✓✓✓ Originality ✓✓✓✓ Lastibilty ✓✓✓
Total 10/15, Big Ash, Valley Essential - December 2002
"Bands can be so boring, so faceless..rock is either dead, or dying..but then something as inspired as BOCCA restores my faith. Introspective figures bathed in projections that were integral to the intense moods of the music. A frighteningly powerful drummer, hynotic basslines and soaring electric violin contrasted with calm, deep lead vocals. Very serious, very great..seriously great in fact."
Kevin Hewick, BBCi
Superb debut album from this four piece. Slow, menacing, atmospheric tracks with occasional heavier fuzzed up outbursts, all played with a cool bluesy swagger. The use of electric violin, and plaintive keyboards add to the haunting noir-sh mood. Recommended.
Local Talent Tipped for the Top
BRINGING their bluesy brand of rock to the masses, Leicester-based band Bocca have released their debut album on their own label, Captive Recordings.
An epic of a record, Madame Tinkertoy's Blues Factory is almost an hour's worth of deep, haunting tracks which are sure to strike a chord with listeners who prefer their music to have a little depth. That singer, Ray Parkes, sounds like Chris Martin when Gwyneth's 'got a headache' certainly doesn't hurt, his slight sneer lending the songs an interesting, if slightly bitter edge.
Album-opener, Caged sees the band set out their stall from the off. A pleasingly intense tune, like an early Coldplay or even Doves record, Caged also contains the excellent lyric: "Your tastes are just like mine/Effervescent and pure/ And a touch Demi Moore."
That it then bursts into a joyous second half which would fit right onto The Last Broadcast makes it even more pleasing - if anything, you just want this one to go on longer.
They pick up the pace with Alibi, a jangly fuzzed-up guitar track which is probably how The Libertines sound sober (yeah, like that could ever happen), drop it back down with a couple of instrumentals before picking it back up again with the excellent, bass-driven A Mover And A Shaker. The tender Morning Comes Too Soon stands out, as does the ballsy Inbreeds, which, with its punchy rhythm and screeching harmonica is like an extra funky Charlatans track.
The record ends with another couple of instrumentals -including the untitled hidden track at the end, which is a slight let-down, as a 'proper song' would have been a much more satisfying ending. Still, you can't have it all.
On the whole, Madame Tinkertoy's Blues Factory is an excellent debut and a great record. Able to be both intimate and grand, sensitive and rocky, Bocca certainly prove their diversity, and, if they can catch the eye or the ear) of the national press, could find themselves doing very well indeed.
Leigh Greenwood, Coalville Times - 31st January 2003
Album with a blues feel
The first album to be released by the four-piece group Bocca is Madame Tinkertoy's Blues Factory and it is simply divine.
The Leicester-based band - bass guitarist Andrew Askey, drummer Dan Hessing, vocalist Ray Parkes and keyboard player Alan Tang - have created a unique sound. Some of the 12 tracks have a slow mellow sound to them while others have an upbeat rock blues tempo.
I especially liked the songs Caged and Morning Comes Too Soon, which shows off Ray's deep and husky voice to great effect. Medina Quabos is very bluesy with a haunting violin solo while
Inbreeds focuses on the harmonica and is a good track for dancing to. I also like A Mover And A Shaker with its rock beat.
The band can be seen at The White Hart pub, Newark, on February 14.
Dawn Bond, Newark Advertiser - 10 January 2003
Who'd have thought that a Leicester-based band could unleash such apocalyptic bluesrock? Bocca are smoldering, gloom-drenched intensity, and stuck somewhere between Filbert Street and Filmore West. Desolate vocals and sombre instrumentation - namely spooky keyboards, violin, and sturdy drums - are coupled with swaggering riffage. Moments of gentle reflection lighten the albums darker moods - and the overall, incredibly refreshing effect is of a band just doing their own thing. And why not?
7/10 Dean Noonan, City Lights - September 2002
What A Lotta Bocca
Walking around the university campus leading up to the Bluetones gig, you may have noticed the name of Leicester band Bocca floating around.
No one knew who they were, until they took to the stage with their dark, floating rock ambience plunging much of the crowd into a lull of satisfaction.
The band's latest offering 'Madame Tinkertoy's Blues Factory' combines the morbid grit of Steve Albini's scant production, with floating beautiful angst of The Black Heart Procession. Taking from rock, blues and an element of understanding of pop sensibility the album is a melting pot of styles strung together by heart-rending instrumentals. Bullet chatted with the band to find out whom they are, what makes them tick, and are they coming back?
How did the band get together?
Andy (Bass) -I was just on the verge of quitting music when a previous band fell apart, when I had a call from Ray who had dissolved his previous line-up and moved back to his native Devon. He then decided to move back to Leicester and give it another shot. We sort of knew each other vaguely from playing gigs with our respective bands. I thought his ideas sounded pretty interesting and we started to record some demos with Tony (Producer / Engineer / Captive Label Boss).
What/who inspires your music?
Ray (Singer) -Literature, Film, idle gossip.
Alan (keyboard and violin) -The Blues, The Smiths for lyrics, New Order and the Stone Roses for tunes. Andy -Ray, but I don't really want the twat to know that! Dan (drums) -Animal (from The Muppets)
Why should anyone buy your album?
Andy -Because it is by turn atmospheric, sleazy, dark, melancholic, uplifting and subtle. Basically it's the bollocks. Just buy it.
What's the best / worst live gig you've played?
Dan -Best, Lincoln Uni -We had an appreciative audience, the second support band (The New Tellers) were very good and I got to steal half the Bluetones rider from their dressing room. Ray -Worst was our very first, supporting Lupine Howl (Ex members of Spiritualized) at the Charlotte in Leicester. Andy -Best has to be Lincoln Uni -You seemed to like us (apart from one heckler!) and you have the most gorgeous young ladies there. When can we come back? Alan -Worst, the Attick in Leicester -The support band murdered my favourite Smiths song and ruined my night.
What have you been listening to recently?
Ray -Giant Sand, The Dillards(50's Bluegrass band). Andy -Guided By Voices, Idlewild, Tori Amos, The Replacements. Dan -A 60' s Italian Porn Movie sound track
James Thornhill, Bullet - November 2002
Red Eye Pariah
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After the critical success of their debut album “Madame Tinkertoy’s Blues Factory”, the industrious Bocca locked themselves away in the depths of the English countryside to record the follow up – Red Eye Pariah
Bocca explore a deeper and at times more minimal side to their sound. Many tracks are stripped back down to the bare bones; others build into a rich texture of contrasting elements.
The songs here are all little stories, some jubilant, some not so pretty and some downright desolate … but life’s like that, nothing is clear cut and there is always plenty of room for greyness and moments of overwhelming colour.
The spectrum on offer here is much wider than Tinkertoy’s already broad instrumentation, an additional 5th member of the band seems to have brought along a box full of gadgetry.
With a highly acclaimed debut album behind them Bocca found themselves in a dilemma. It wasn't down to the lack of songs or ideas; Ray is a prolific songwriter presenting the band with new ideas every rehearsal. The problem was how to record this amount of songs with limited funds… well, they could have gone to a cheep studio and rushed through the songs in their basic form using second rate equipment in a squalid little room. This wasn't what they wanted, what they needed was time to develop their ideas as they were recording. Captive boss Tony Hoult had a small mixing/programming setup, fine for recording one performer at a time but not comprehensive enough to record a full band.
It was decided that Tony would upgrade the studio but recording Bocca in his front room would be a problem… all involved pulled some money together and decided to rent a cottage in the depths of the Leicestershire countryside.
Bocca have built up a strong following since they formed in 2002, sold-out gigs across the UK and CDs sold all over the world. From Hollywood executives to Swiss museum curators (La Maison d'Ailleurs)... Howe Gelb of Giant Sand is known to be a big fan of Bocca.
New to the line-up is long-time visual collaborator and one half of Swiss Guards, Harvey Sharman-Dunn. Bocca’s sound was always rich with the use of violins, Melotron, electric pianos, string sections and harmonica in addition to the more common line-up of guitars bass and drums. Harvey Sharman-Dunn adds oddities such as Theremin, bowed guitar, short wave radio and his own special method of wailing