Single: DORJA ‘Far Gone’ (download-only)

Those DORJA girls are adept at generating a buzz alright, with the release of their latest single ‘Far Gone’ after a lengthy teaser campaign involving cover art, snippets of the track and a brief taster of the accompanying video all leaked to social media over the past few weeks. The track itself is the first to feature new guitarist Sarah Michelle, who joined in the summer shortly before the group played a series of UK dates. One of those gigs was a return to PKD Festival, held in Scotland and where DORJA made such an impression upon that event’s organisers in 2016, that they booked the band again immediately for the following year. Footage from their 2017 appearance has been used for their promo video, which is linked at the bottom of this post.

‘Far Gone’ has been part of their live repertoire for some time; I saw them play it back in March, yet was only recorded in the summer while all the members were in the UK. The song is a blues-influenced hard rocker in their now-familiar style, gently led in by Sarah Michelle’s opening guitar and Aiym Almas’s throaty vocal, before the powerchords kick in, in true Whitesnake tradition (‘Break me, or take me as I am, I’m not giving in’). The arrangement is similar to the live rendition save for the absence of the brief drum solo – but they have simply replaced one Zeppelin nod with another, with ‘Whole Lotta Love’-styled atmospherics in its place (kept short).

If you liked the material on the earlier ‘Target Practice’ EP then you should enjoy this too. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were to appear in physical form on a future EP as they have more material ready to go, and have been writing again since Sarah Michelle joined up. She is a perfect fit for this band, and I look forward to hearing how she influences the writing of their future material.

For now though, this will keep we Dorjians going until they reconvene for more live dates, which are planned for early 2018. With the membership scattered far and wide, they have to plan things long in advance, but they’re gaining a loyal following which should mean we see and hear a lot more from them in the coming year.

The video for the single is now available on youtube, to get a high-quality download of this track please click this link to go to their online store.

4 – Deserving

 

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All change in the DORJA camp; farewell Holly and welcome Sarah Michelle

Almost a year to the day since DORJA announced themselves with their track ‘Fire’, they have now had a change to the line-up. Founding guitarist Holly Henderson announced her departure last month, as her own solo career is set for lift-off. She has plans to play live with her new band, and with a new EP imminent and an album in the can for release later in the year she perhaps felt that she could no longer give her all to DORJA. With dates of their own booked for July, the remaining quartet (guitarist Rosie Botterill, drummer Anna Mylee, bass player Becky Baldwin, plus LA-based lead singer Aiym Almas) conducted an online search for a new guitarist, and they have today announced their new member.

Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, new six-stringer Sarah Michelle has several years’ experience touring the UK and Europe, most recently with tribute act ‘The Magic of Michael Jackson’. Her guitar influences include Eddie van Halen, Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix and Paul Kossoff, and she maintains a channel on YouTube with over 1.2million views at the time of writing. She appears to be a natural fit for this band, and I was hoping to get to a show or two in order to see for myself what she will bring to the party. However I shall be out of action for most of July having sustained a fractured ankle (following a recent gig, note not during it!) therefore I cannot travel to any of the scheduled dates. Beyond disappointed at that, since I know the other four members well and would no doubt enjoy their set, but it will have to be another time.

The dates for DORJA’s upcoming tour are listed below, if a show is reachable I recommend attending, since the band members can only come together at irregular intervals (singer Aiym Almas is based in LA, with Sarah Michelle in Dublin and the other girls all based in England).

For further information please see the band’s Facebook page.

DORJA UK dates July 2017
Lastly, here is a clip of Sarah Michelle herself from her youtube channel:

DORJA guitarist Sarah Michelle

DORJA guitarist Sarah Michelle

Caught Live: DORJA (supporting LiveWire AC/DC), Robin 2 Bilston 31st March 2017

Once again the dreaded Same Night Syndrome struck here, I had originally planned to go and see Blackberry Smoke this night but when the three dates for this all-girl band were announced things changed, since the only one I could possibly make was at this Black Country venue on that very night.  I’d long planned to go and see the band again after seeing them make an impressive debut last July in Birmingham, in the meantime I’d been following events closely as they demoed material and, at the beginning of the year finally went into a studio to put some of the songs they’d written down on tape. (Do they still use tape these days? 😉 )

When I saw DORJA last year I was already familiar with some of the band members, having seen them play on numerous occasions in their previous band (which performed covers of punk/new wave classics). At that time they had only recently left that act (and had shed the stage names I’d known them by until then); that, plus the fact that the new band would not only feature their own material but be in a more traditional hard rock direction, meant that I was still adjusting to the change when that gig took place. We were also introduced to a new face that night in vocalist Aiym Almas; a Kazakh-born, LA-residing singer who had been recruited by drummer and founding member Anna Mylee during her own time spent in LA. The band impressed those who’d come along, despite the singer suffering from illness which forced the other band members to take occasional vocal spots too.

By the time of this release and series of gigs I and others had got to know the band and their members better, mostly via a series of social media posts which provided updates on what they were doing. The girls (without the singer) met up in Anna’s Belgian homeland last autumn to demo material and also conduct an interview, while they had maintained regular contact with their US-based singer via the magic of Skype. When they played this time around, it was with Aiym firing on all cylinders, and I’d heard great reports from people who had attended the previous two dates. So, no pressure then, as I said to Anna during a pre-gig chat at their merch table…!

Anna’s kit was set up stage right (house left), as the LiveWire backline took up a lot of the stage. She came out first and pounded a rhythm reminiscent of Cozy Powell’s ‘Dance With The Devil’ before launching into opener ‘Reaching Out’. Straight away, it was obvious what a powerful and soulful singer Aiym is, this brought it home that last year we only saw about 30 percent of what she can do. In addition, she has real ‘stage presence’; almost regal in the way she carries herself. This band may be made up of attractive women (sorry girls, but you are!!) all of whom have confidence, ability and presence themselves (particularly dynamic bass player Becky Baldwin who is never stood still) but, I for one found it difficult to tear my eyes away from that captivating frontwoman.

All the tracks from the EP were performed, as well as some material that did not feature this time around including pacy hard rocker ‘Turn In All Around’ and ‘Far Gone’, a bluesier number that features a ‘Moby Dick’-style drum solo in the middle. (It’s kept short!) It is to be hoped that these do feature on another release in the near future.
Although the revelation for me was the singer, there was great playing from all concerned, and it was guitarist Holly Henderson who provided much of the backing vocal for the singer, their voices blended well together on the soulful ‘Not In My Shadow’. Across the stage, Rosie Botterill on the other guitar was responsible for my breaking out the air guitar, during ‘Fire’ 😉

They ended their set with a medley/cover, combining The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’ with Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’, both with a raunchy and throaty vocal from Aiym.  They were given around 45 minutes by LiveWire and made the most of the opportunity, wowing the early arrivals and, judging by the amount of people at their stand afterwards, winning many new followers.

The band must surely be pleased with how these shows went; all the girls have plenty of other irons in the fire musically but when this five-piece do get together, they’ve showed in the few gigs they’ve performed so far that collectively, they’re really something special. LiveWire are to be commended for inviting them to support (they did a good -lengthy- set themselves, featuring two vocalists who cover both Bon and Brian material) and if DORJA can land themselves a support tour of this country opening for a ‘name’ band playing Academy-type venues, there’ll be no stopping them. I gave the EP four inflatable guitars, live they’re something else and therefore the five are awarded here 😀

5gtrs

5 – Delightful

EP: DORJA ‘Target Practice’ (self-released)

It has been a long time in coming, but finally there is a physical CD of material available from this hotly-tipped all-girl hard rock band who were last seen on these shores in July 2016.

DORJA launched in June last year; formed by Belgian drummer Anna Mylee during a spell in Los Angeles, she recruited fellow LA expat, Kazakh-born singer Aiym Almas before turning her attention back across the Atlantic to complete the line-up. She had worked with guitarists Holly Henderson and Rosie Botterill before, touring the UK extensively and gaining many admirers, and so both were drafted in from the covers band they had been part of previously. In turn, they invited bassist Becky Baldwin (one of the most active performers on the live scene currently, also a member of trio iDestroy and metallers Triaxis) into the fold, and the five initially conducted writing sessions via Skype before the whole group met up in LA in May 2016.  Whilst there, they recorded one of their new songs (‘Fire’) and released it as a download-only single. That track also features (unchanged) on this EP, while the three accompanying tracks were recorded at the beginning of 2017 in England, with the singer adding her vocal tracks from her LA base.

Those who have followed this outfit from the start will already know ‘Fire’; a hard-hitting number with chunky riffage and a powerhouse vocal. Lyrically, it also sets a tone (heard throughout this record) of empowerment (“No, you’re not winning this game; I’m not a prize that you can claim”) which gives this material more depth than a party-hard lyric often heard in hard rock of this style. (Not that I’m against a bit of hard partying, of course!)  The lyrical theme continues on ‘Not In Your Shadow’ (“Hear me speak, it’s louder than what you might remember”) but on this number, the guitars are dialled back a little allowing a more soulful, passionate vocal.  The heavier guitars are back on ‘Reaching Out’, with another defiant lyric (“And I will survive, because you don’t fight my fight”) delivered over Anna Mylee’s syncopated beat, accompanied by some tasty lead soloing from Holly Henderson. The title track ‘Target Practice’ closes this EP, a mid-paced rocker featuring nice vocal harmonies, which builds up into a guitar-heavy crescendo.

For such a new band, this is an accomplished first offering. All the material is self-written (credited collectively) and this outfit is already starting to fulfil its huge potential. In particular, they have a real star in that lead singer, she has both raunch and tenderness in her delivery and knows when (and when not!) to deploy either quality.

The logistics of having an international membership mean that they only get together and perform some of the time, however I believe that if they were given the chance to spend more time as a unit (even if that meant a wholesale decampment to Los Angeles) they could deliver a fantastic debut album, one that would stand the test of time. Certainly if given the backing their talent merits, they must surely become huge in the years to come.

DORJA have just performed a trio of UK dates to launch this EP; a writeup of their set supporting LiveWire (AC/DC tribute) at Bilston will follow. They will return in July for festival shows, be sure to go along and catch these girls live.

targetpractice

Click image or link to go to DORJA webstore including CD and other merch

4 - deserving

4 – Deserving

Caught Live: DORJA, Wagon and Horses Birmingham 22 July 2016

New all-female hard rock band DORJA made their live debut this past week, with three gigs including a festival appearance at PKD in Dalgety Bay, Scotland. The band were only formed earlier this summer and feature three former members of The Sex Pissed Dolls. Despite that, the musical direction of this outfit leans more towards classic hard rock rather than the punk the girls had been known for until now. The band have already released a single (‘Fire’) as a download, recorded in LA where drummer Anna Mylee and vocalist Aiym Almas have been based for the past year. With the remaining band members (bass player Becky Baldwin, plus guitarists Holly Henderson and Rosie Botterill) based in the UK, it was the turn of the drummer and singer to make the trip ‘across the pond’ to play their first gigs in this country.

The Wagon and Horses is a pub sited in Digbeth, close to the centre of Birmingham and near other well-known venues such as the o2 Institute, and the Irish Centre. They were playing as part of a multi-band bill, but were the only hard rock band on the bill while the rest of the bill was more punk-orientated. Days before these gigs took place, the band had posted on their Facebook page that their singer had been suffering from laryngitis, and was in a race against time to get fit enough to play these dates. She’s been described as having ‘the raw energy to challenge Janis Joplin’ and certainly delivered a powerful vocal on the single, but in order to play these dates the rest of the band helped her out by taking vocals on the cover tunes they performed amongst their own, newly-written material.

I caught some of the other acts on the bill but if I’m honest, as good as the Terrorsaurs were (a three-piece who each wore scary Slipknot-style masks but sounded more like The Hamsters live), I was there for DORJA mainly. That seemed to be the case for most as the venue (an outdoor terrace at the back of the pub with only a canopy covering the stage and terrace) filled up the closer it got to the girls’ stage time. They eventually got on stage at around 9:30 and ran through a nine-song set, including four covers and with ‘Fire’ performed last. Their own material went over well, with Aiym still sounding strong despite her illness. She has a really soulful bluesy voice and I look forward to seeing her again firing on all cylinders. On one of their own numbers, she traded vocal with Anna Mylee (‘do you know any other singing drummers?’ asked Aiym – well yes, thought I – I saw one very famous one only last month!)  and for their cover of Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge of Seventeen’, she handed lead vocal to Holly Henderson. Holly feigned trepidation (you were feigning it, weren’t you Holly? 😉 ) but gave a great delivery of the classic track while fellow guitarist Rosie Botterill provided the ‘chug-a-chug-a’ guitar riff throughout.

I did notice that the lead solos were more evenly split in this band than was the case with the Dolls; the majority of the lead guitar was handled by Rosie in that band while Holly gave them a very solid footing with her heavy rhythm sound. However both are capable lead players and it’s likely that this outfit will allow the former Kitty Vacant more chance to shine. Rosie took lead vocal on ‘Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight’, which was originally performed by… Spın̈al Tap!

Anna Mylee’s time in LA has, she says, taught her a lot and she gave a superb performance behind the kit; she locked in superbly with Becky Baldwin. Indeed, although the musicians are all in their 20s there was a good deal of experience on that stage, with the three former Dolls having played many gigs and Becky already a veteran of several other bands even before forming this one. They ended with ‘Fire’ and a reprise of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ before departing the stage to big cheers. Many present had travelled some distance to support the girls in this venture, and the ex-Dolls were clearly delighted to find they had not been forgotten by fans of their previous band.

This was only their second gig but they showed a lot of promise; you’d never have thought that they’d only got together for the second time a week previously in order to play these dates. On speaking to Anna following the set, she told me that the plans are to record and release a full album towards the end of the year and schedule a more comprehensive tour of the UK in 2017. I’ll be there to see them whatever happens, but there are some cool venues in this part of the world as well, ladies!

DORJA setlist Wagon and Horses

DORJA setlist

4gtrs

4 – Deserving

http://www.dorjaband.com
https://www.facebook.com/DorjaBand/

First track from DORJA now available to listen to online

It’s always nice to be in at the start of something, especially when it’s something you think is going to be big. All-girl rock band DORJA (featuring three former Sex Pissed Dolls) have today released their first offering, a chugging hard rock number titled ‘Fire’.

The blurb on their bio promises much: ‘…a nod to 70’s & 80’s classic rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and Guns N Roses, whilst fusing with the modern sounds of current garage rock bands such as Royal Blood‘, and ‘powerful, guitar-driven hooks and heavy drums, teamed with a vocal of raw energy to challenge Janis Joplin‘, they certainly ain’t setting the bar low! My interest in this outfit stems from knowing guitarists Rosie Botterill and Holly Henderson from their prolonged stint in the Dolls, as well as drummer Anna Mylee who spent a little over a year in that band before relocating to LA. I saw these girls perform live on many occasions, and know all about their abilities.  This project has clearly been a long time in the planning, with Holly and Rosie playing their final gigs with the Dolls at the prestigious Isle of Wight Festival earlier this month before jointly announcing their departure from that band. Things have moved quickly from there with firstly the announcement of DORJA, then a series of teaser trailers via social media and potted biographies of each band member posted daily. Finally they launched their website with an invitation to sign up for their newsletter, promising exclusive preview material. The first of these is the track ‘Fire’, released at 6pm on 30 June but available early for subscribers to the newsletter.

Having only this one song to go on up to now, the promise of an energetic lead vocal is certainly fulfilled here, with a powerful performance from Aiym Almas. The song is an old-school hard rock number with plenty of ‘punch’ to its sound, they have a fine guitar team and I know Holly to be a terrific rhythm guitarist, she gave her last band a very solid footing in the live setting. About all I know about bassist Becky Baldwin at this point is that she has been in a lot of bands! She is much in-demand, having performed with the likes of iDestroy and Triaxis, and until February of this year was a member of symphonic power metallers Control The Storm.

The five members of the band met up in LA a month ago to record this demo and do some publicity pictures, which are now up. With three of the girls based in England and two in LA that does raise the question of how they’ll proceed going forward, they have two gigs in England in July and it may be some of the members may relocate, if they all decamp to Los Angeles then it is worth checking this band out now while we Brits have the chance!

All that is in the future though; for now have a listen to ‘Fire’ – it is sure to appeal to fans of old-fashioned hard rock like it used to be; meaty riffs, raunchy vocal and a proper, honest-to-goodness lead guitar solo! I look forward to the album promised for early 2017, and hopefully a few more live dates in Britain before LA comes calling!

DORJA – ‘Fire’

dorja
(Photo: Dawn Bowery Photography)

http://www.dorjaband.com
http://www.facebook.com/dorjaband

From the Dolls to DORJA – new band emerges

Following on from the earlier post about all-girl punk/new wave cover band The Dolls parting company with both their guitar players, already the two axe-ladies have resurfaced with news of a newly-formed band. Having shed their Dolls stage names, lead guitarist Rosie Botterill (previously known as Connie Rotter in the Dolls) and fellow axe-slinger Holly Henderson (the former Kitty Vacant) have revealed they are to be part of a new all-girl outfit, DORJA. The band describes itself as a ‘transatlantic hard rock collective’ with members hailing from England, one based in LA and one coming from Kazakhstan of all places!

Little else is known at this stage other than the fact that this project also sees the return of another Dolls alumnus in Anna Mylee. Anna was the drummer with the Dolls for that band’s first year of touring, and her playing impressed many of their early followers (myself included). She left the band in late summer 2015 to move to LA, where she has been working with famous drummer Kenny Aronoff. Rounding out the lineup are two new names to me, bassist Becky Baldwin and singer Aiyn Almas. With the early blurb promising ‘guitar-driven hooks, heavy drums and vocals with the raw energy to challenge Janis Joplin’, that’s a big claim for such an unknown vocalist and one I’d very much like to check out for myself at the earliest opportunity.

The fact this band has been unveiled mere days after the announcement that Rosie and Holly had left the Dolls does suggest that this project has been long in the planning; presumably the band will feature original material as opposed to the majority covers-based set the girls had been doing up to now. There is a lot of fan goodwill around the girls stemming from their time with Nancy and company; it remains to be seen how many members of the Dolls Barmy Army will take the time to check out DORJA – particularly if there is a clash of dates!

Meanwhile the Dolls themselves are continuing; they appear to have already recruited one guitar player and will presumably unveil her at their upcoming appearances at Wellowfest and at the afterparty for the British Grand Prix. Another guitarist is expected to be recruited shortly. They have, as expected, reallocated the stage names previously used by Holly and Rosie for the new recruits and so Dolls fans will be getting acquainted with new faces at upcoming dates.

DORJA are currently counting the days to a debut release and have already announced some live dates for July. I look forward to hearing what the girls have been working on.

DORJA

  • Aiym Almas – lead vocals
  • Becky Baldwin – bass
  • Rosie Botterill – guitar
  • Holly Henderson – guitar
  • Anna Mylee – drums

http://www.dorjaband.com

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