22 Jul 2012

Gaoler's Daughter: Music Review

Can you believe that this is the 8th band I have reviewed? No? Me neither. So far I have really been enjoying doing it, not only do I listen to the band being reviewed but I also have a listen to some of their influences.  There are never many comments but I hope you are enjoying reading them and discovering new bands with me. 

This is where the review begins…

When I first saw the name Gaolers Daughter, my first thought was that it was a heavy metal band of some sort. I kind of expected that. Then when I went to their website (which has now changed) it was all black and white and the style of the text was all Megadeth-esque.  So, I clicked on the play button and was surprised! It wasn’t heavy metal at all. I have since learnt that the band name is a reference to ‘Wind in the Willows’ – I am sure all you literary types knew that (oh! the shame L ).

A few weeks ago, I saw that the band were looking for people to review their latest EP and offering a chance to go on their guest list at a gig they were doing in London. At the time I had just started writing these reviews (its only been about 3 weeks) and I thought well why not? after all, the whole point had been about listening to new music and bands that I might not normally try. Unfortunately, the gig coincided with the Natwest banking debacle and my plans were well and truly scuppered. So I missed that gig and am now waiting for their next London appearance (which could be quite a while (see interview).)

As usual, I scrolled those first 10 pages of Google to see what they had to offer. A pretty cool bio on Pledge Music says this about the band:

“Born out of the ashes of several London-based bands (including Larrikin Love and Littl’ans), each member brings something fresh to the table. John Sterry’s melodic vocals and surreal, biting lyrics, contrast with Mahoody’s reverb-washed guitar jangle. Ben’s dance-tinged grooves mix with Alfie’s cutting bass, weaving solid, hypnotizing counter melodies.”

Nothing I can say will compare to this description but John Sterry does have a strong natural voice and it is well worth listening to the acoustic clips that can be found in the links below.

Who do they sound like?

The band don’t like to categorise themselves into falling under any particular influence and I guess they feel that this allows them more room to experiment with their sound. But I did come across something that said something about them possibly sounding something like or being influenced by:  Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, Can, The Smiths, The La’s, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Neil Young. So I listened to all these bands and then hand picked the track that I felt sounded a bit like a track they have:

Abba Zabba – Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band

This sounds like Rhyme & Treason – if only for a similar guitar riff.

Who are they?

Photo by Samuel Stanley Allen

They are Gaoler’s Daughter, a four piece band from London, consisting of John Sterry (vocals), Alfie Ambrose (bass), Alex Mahood (guitar) and Ben Hutchinson (drums).

Lets check out their music…

The Only Way to Travel – released in 2009
Consisting of 4 tracks – Jumbo Jet, From Russia With Love, Clown and Out Blues, & Sister on the Stairs. Interestingly, at least I think so, this EP has a real indie sound which is very popular at the moment. My favourite from the EP is Sister on the stairs but more recently I have fallen in love with Jumbo Jet;

Sister On the Stairs

Alchemy – released in 2010
Consisting of 4 tracks – Boomerang Boy, Meet You On the Other Side of the World, Sun Coming Up, & Bad News.

This is the second EP, I found the first track to be more rockier that the first EP due to the heavier guitar influence, but the track that follows after is more of inspired country and seems evident by the long title, and the story style song. Great line in the song;

‘Perhaps I’m clever enough to know how stupid I am’

Meet You On the Other Side of the World

A return to indie with the third track Sun Coming Up, I like it, it’s bouncy and definitely likely tobe a popular track especially when played live.

Sun Coming Up

Rhyme & Treason - 2011
The third EP and what do they have to offer?  Four more tracks; Shark in a Sink, Angry Eyes, Anyone, Famous Green Dress.

'Anyone' was my favourite track on this EP, probably because the music doesn’t overtake the vocals but has its own moments.


I also think that Rhyme and Treason hasn’t shown as much growth as the earlier EPs seemed to, but the bands latest singles 'St Peter', 'Magazines' and ‘How do you know’ are definitely the best and I really can’t get enough of them at the moment. The sound they have on these singles is one that I hope they will experiment more with. My favourite!


It wouldn’t be a review from me if I didn’t get some questions answered from the band. So, what did I ask them?

Which track are you most proud of?
Alex- probably st peter, its got a good groove, nice guitar line, and mark who mixed it made it sound MASSIVE
Alfie - Difficult question as when we write new songs they become the favourites to play and older ones go neglected until you remember them. I'm really looking forward to the new single When We Were Young as although it was written a while ago it never ceases to be fun to play. Mahoody came in with an idea and I remembered a bass line that my dad used to play to me as a kid, we tried it out, and with a few adjustments it fit perfectly, the song pretty much wrote itself after that
Ben – I love ‘3 Days Rain’ at the moment and ‘Cuddling A Cigarette’ is beautiful too.
John - '3 Day's Rain' for me

What is your favourite song to perform live?
Alex- probably 'cordelia' its not recorded yet...
Alfie - At the moment I have a couple obviously When We Were Young but I also enjoy a newer song called Cordelia.
Ben – ‘7th Wave’ is fun for me because I get to use soft mallets for the first half. Then, rock out for the second half.
John - 3 Day's Rain again, it's the hardest one to play live as I play a riff over the vocal melody, but when I don't mess it up it feels great.

What is your most memorable fan encounter?
Alfie - It wasn't with Gaolers it was with a previous band called Larrikin Love and we did a small promotional tour in Japan and although we weren't a very big band we had about twenty girls waiting for us at the airport in Osaka, they all presents for us like pictures they had drawn, sweeties and love letters, not quite beatlemania but i've always wanted to go back, the whole trip was a riot.
Ben – When we played a gig to record the ‘Angry Eyes’ video I had a Japanese fan bring me lots of presents. They were mostly ‘SpongeBob’ themed. She remembered I had tweeted that I love SpongeBob. She gave them to me just as I was a bout to go on stage. So, I ran on stage still holding lots of SpongeBob merch which I then placed all over my drum kit.
John - Probably the other day at camden barfly when a fan cried midway through the last song. I think they were tears of happiness but you can never be sure

If you could work with any musician dead/alive who would it be/have been?
Alex- i would have liked to have been one of the many members of THE FALL, i suppose thats still a possibility
Alfie - I really like the the Soca stars Bunji Garlin and Patrice Roberts at the moment but I have always wanted to work with Snoop.
Ben – My dream was always to play with Frank Zappa but he died when I was still at school. So, I guess it would be him. Although, he’s a hard taskmaster the results would justify the work.
John - Elvis

What was the first album you bought yourself?
Alfie -  Jungle is Massive Vol.2
Ben – Don’t laugh…Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet. I was young and foolish. As a very young boy I loved a but of shit rock! I didn’t know any better. I did buy the 12” of Stand By Me by Ben E King in the same week. Does that redeem me?
John - My nan bought me What's The Story Morning Glory by Oasis for christmas. That was the first one I got, but the first one I bought I don't remember. Or don't want to remember...

When I hear Nina Simone's 'I wish I knew how it would feel to be free', I can literally feel my heartache - what song has this kind of affect on you?
Alfie – More than a number in my little red book by the drifters
Ben – There’s 3 ballads on Captain Beefheart’s album ‘Clear Spot’ that always get me. ‘Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles’, ‘Too Much Time’ and ‘In My Head Is My Only House (Unless It Rains)’. Also, if I really want to hurt my heart I listen to ‘Broken Heart’ by Spiritualized’.
John - 'If I can Dream' by Elvis, he sings this line ' if I can dream of a better land, where all my brothers walk hand in hand' and it gets me every time. He sort of growls it and cries it at the same time. it's deep.

I am always curious as to which song bands would cover if they went on the radio show 'Live Lounge'...so, which song would you like to cover in that situation?
Alfie - Don't get us started it'll only end up in a argument, we all have eclectic music taste and between us we can't seem to decide, if it was a solo project though I would probably do Give me just a little more time by Chairman of the Board
Ben – Yeah, we do discuss doing a cover on almost a weekly basis but we can never agree on which song to do. Although, last night we did break out into a spontaneous version of ‘Hey Joe’ by Hendrix. I think we were all shocked and delighted in equal parts and none of us knew exactly how it had started. Maybe we are all just Hendrix’s muses?
Finally, What is coming up for you guys for the rest of this year?
Ben – We’re starting recording our album next week. We can’t wait! Then, we’re off to play a bunch of festivals around Europe. As soon as the album is mixed we’ll start touting it around to see which of the labels and management companies that’s been courting us for the past few months will put their money where their mouth is. It’s going to be a busy end to the year whether we get the album signed or whether we end up releasing it ourselves.
John - hopefully loads as I just quit my job...

The eagle eyed amongst you may notice that some of the tracks they mention above I haven't mentioned in the review and I suggest you check them out. These guys surprised me, maybe they will surprise you too! Show your support and follow them on any of the social media outlets that exist. I hope to get to see these guys live so keep an eye out for the gig review.
You can also help them record their album by donating on their site. £10 or more gets you a signed copy when it's done!


Blogs – there are a lot!
http://www.soundsofthecampervan.co.uk/2012/05/10/gaolers-daughter-2/ - lovely acoustic performance of ‘Magazines’ – if you only click on one link then make it this one!



  1. Now that I'm back in the land of the living...I finally got to read your review! You are getting too good at this! You're gonna end up with your own review column in a major publication soon!

    1. lol! if only ;) Glad you are back with us and ready for the next review I hope?

  2. I was just listening to 'the kooks' and the vocals reminded me of Gaolers daughter, anyone else think that?


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