Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Cuddly Shark - Cuddly Shark



I've said before that away from IDHAS, I don't just listen to Power Pop and Pop Rock. I have a real love of both Prog and Left Field Indie. I'm also old enough to blab on about how it's not as good as the old days and blab on and on about Stiff and Postcard.

Well firstly, a big round of applause for Glasgow's Armellodie Records Label because they are the Stiff or Postcard now. In over a decade, they continue to challenge the norm, supporting a wide range of artists, all different and all deserved of a listen.






Cuddly Shark are certainly left field, you wouldn't believe that the trio are from Glasgow. They have far more in common with the States. Think B52's, They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Richman with a Beck like ability to go off on a tangent.

There's also a real wit to the band, akin to the like of Colin's Godson and The Bordellos. Hobo Rock is hilarious as are Name Dropper and Cover Band. There seems to be hundreds of different ideas fighting to get out in these wonderfully lo-fi set of songs.






That's not to say that there isn't plenty of Pop here. There is, Once We Were Two and Not Yet Three stand equal with any Indie Pop that you wish to name. Wash Off The Mash Tun is a real sing along, a bit like a Pop Punk fronting a Folk Rock band.

The Rhythm is a great hypnotic opening song and across these 13 offerings, you are taken on quite a journey. You could spend a half hour watching Emmerdale or you could be entertained and educated by listening to Cuddly Shark.






You can listen to and buy the album here.



TGL - The Grand Leve




I have been a long time admirer of Ulf Holmberg, the man never seems to sleep. As I mentioned in the review of the Crime Scene album here, he's more noted as a Guitarist, but he keeps cropping up on great Pop Rock Records. Crime Scene's album was one example, but the Longplayer self titled album remains one of my favourites and now this.

TGL are a trio consisting of Holmberg with fellow Longplayer, Goran Hjertstedt and Europe drummer, Ian Haugland. The Grand Leve very much mine 70's Pop Rock territory. Jeff Lynne constantly springs to mind, particularly with the arrangements, but Jigsaw, John Miles, 10CC also compare.







Valhalla Feast Of Sacrifice is pure ELO, as is Ride The Wind, All In The City is pure 10CC. But Hic Medeiros is great Chanting Folk Rock and the closing Instrumental shows what an exceptional Guitarist, Ulf Holmberg is.

I get frustrated at the amount of great Pop albums that are around in Europe that get largely ignored. Sweden is one of the most exceptional music scenes still around and TGL are just one example. This album is a fun packed 36 minutes. Highly Recommended.







I don't do streaming, the internet connection here isn't great and I find it hard to keep track of stuff. My Bookmarks are like Hampton Court Maze, but you can find the album on Spotify here and then go out and buy it.


You can also listen on You Tube. The playlist is here .



Gretchen's Wheel - Black Box Theory



The quality continues with album Number Four from Lindsay Murray's Gretchen's Wheel. Followers here will know that I'm a great fan. You can read my reviews of Behind The Curtain here and Sad Scientist here. There was also the show stealing Power Pop on the Slan Tribute CD here.

Black Box Theory marks a slight departure for Gretchen's Wheel, all of it good. The songs seem a little darker, the guitar less at the forefront and it works beautifully for a number of reasons. Plus there is THAT Voice, it can melt a million hearts.





The songs seem a little sadder and the vocal more laid back. That lack of noise lets the songs breathe more to the point where this is probably Murray's best album yet. When a song like Tatyana rocks, it is gently, you listen to the lyrics more. Power Pop is often accused of being a one trick pony, total rubbish of course, but it is nice to hear arrangements that are different.

This is a fine collection of songs. I defy anyone to write a song better than Funny Thing, the songwriting standard here is incredibly high. The likes of Something's Coming and Untethered will become ear worms for a long time. The bar has been set incredibly high for Album Five.






You can listen to and buy the album here. It's also available as a wonderful Multi Splatter Vinyl and CD Set.



Roller Disco Combo - Things Under Control



If there are two scenes that I adored most, then it would be the Liverpool 80's and the Glasgow 90's. The first because I was there, the second because it reinvigorated my ears after the nonsense of Late 80's UK England when it became all about standing in a field or a warehouse.

Roller Disco Combo remind me of both, particular Teenage Fanclub and The Pale Fountains. The biggest surprise was that the five piece are from Barcelona. I know there is a vibrant Power Pop Scene in Spain and of course You Are The Cosmos, but I hadn't heard anything as jangly as this.






There's a real summer joy to Things Under Control. it's all so singalong, a great listen. There are hints of Psych Pop on When The Night Gets Dark, You Know is a bit early 90's Manchester, Those Days is a bit Brit Pop, but largely the emphasis is very much Jangle Pop and boy does the album Jingle.

You'll have heard When The Night Gets Dark on the IDHAS Radio Show and when I played that, I was battling with playing The Motor Of My Life. But all 34 minutes of the album are a listening pleasure. There are hints of Psych Pop and the closer, I'll Miss You hints at a future harder direction that they can do equally well.






Things Under Control is a cracking little listen, when it ends you want it on again. You can listen to and buy the album here.



The Foreign Films - The Record Collector



I was an early adopter of Bill Majoros and his magnificent Foreign Films adventures. So as I catch up on the pile of reviews that I'm behind with, it seems most fitting to start with the masterpiece that is The Record Collector.

It's been a long time in the making, previewed over that period by the excellent Record Collector Side releases and Majoros's superb additions to Steve Eggers's releases with The Nines. The culmination is this Triple album in all it's intended glory. It's Pop, but not as we necessarily know it, a journey into all things of that ilk.






This has certainly been worth the wait. The album veers off into all directions, but keeps everything melodic, inventive and so damn catchy. Just listening to Side 1 alone, Pop Rock, Prog and Orchestral Rock are taken in and the journey just gets better and better. Shadow In The Light could be Bolan, Junior Astronomer's Club could be Orgone Box and the beauty of the weeping She Reveals Her Heart cannot be over emphasised.

Kori Pop's vocals add a great deal to Side 2. Her joint vocals on Teardrop Town, which you can imagine Nick Cave writing and her lead vocal on Land Of A 1,000 Goodbyes which is all Lisa Mychols and benefits from Pop's Piano playing.  Broken Dreams is great 80's Power Pop, State of The Art is so Jon Auer Posies. Lucky is all jangly Psych Pop.

Side 3 is particularly Beatlesesque, notably Lennon. the exception being the haunting, A Foolish Symphony on which Kori Pop takes lead vocal duties on a wonderful arrangement. Side 4 is much slower, more moody and I'm reminded of great Singer Songwriters such as John Howard and Colin Blunstone.






On Side 5, the arrangements are varied, but very 60's Bacharach, Emily'd Dream is a cracking slab of Psych featuring Dialogue from Steve and Chantel Eggers. Summer Fades is a fine closer. Side 6 closes this extraordinary affair with the almost 13 minutes of Fall Of The Summer Heart.

Fall Of The Summer Heart is Psych Wonderment. Overall there is a lot of music here. It feels very much like one of those great Singer Songwriter albums of the 70's when Budget wasn't a problem. However, the variance never lets the album become boring. I must also mention the superb  Arrangements of Wim Oudijk, a man I miss greatly and who lit up my Psych Pop world with his chats and recommendations.






You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also buy the triple vinyl format from the same link. That's how I listened to it and if ever an album should be heard on Vinyl, it's this one. The album will also be released on CD by Ray at Kool Kat om Monday. You can order that here.

I've picked my favourite songs today here, but they change and this is an album that everyone will find a different favourite on.



Thursday, 12 July 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 51



Tomorrow night's Radio Show has been sent to KOR Radio and so now for the big Review Backlog. Another Ace Listen this week. One Oldie and 18 Spanking New Tunes. Look out for an article on Sparks' Whomp That Sucker album in upcoming Reviews.


I Don't Hear A Single Radio Excitement is broadcast on KOR Radio at 8pm UK Time on Fridays, repeated at the same time on Saturdays. Due to increased popularity, a Monday Night Repeat has been added at 8pm.

You can listen to it here.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the other fifty shows and two Xmas Specials here.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 Sparks - Funny Face
02 Cuddly Shark - Hobo Rock
03 Asylums - Millennials
04 Weller - Boroughs
05 William Duke - Cue Up The Memories
06 Wilkerson - Let It Go Tonight
07 Downpilot - Historian
08 Ruler - Petrified
09 The Innocents - Strangers In The Park
10 Romantica - Dear Caroline
11 The Neon Brothers - Container
12 Sunshine Boys - Tripping Through Time
13 Young Scum - Sloth
14 Trust Fund - Carson McCullers
15 Templeton Universe - Never Seen
16 Weathers - I'm Not Ok
17 The Cheap Cassettes - Hieroglyphics In Lipstick
18 John Michael Hersey - How Do You See Me
19 We Are Muffy - Civil Service



Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Return Of The Reviews



The first half of the year has been a really strange one. I Don't Hear A Single has branched off into so many directions. Although, the Radio Show thrives, it's felt like ages since I wrote reviews in any quantity and there is a lot to review.

Every time I've set the time aside that time has been taken away by another meeting, another phone call, another something. These Six months seem to have flown and it has all been productive, but behind the scenes. You'll hear about some of those things in coming weeks.

Two things have sprung to mind. A lot of the conversations I have had in 2018 Part 1 have involved showing people what I do. Sound wise, I was largely armed with the two Best Of 2017 Radio Shows which best demonstrated the type of music that I enjoy and what I want others to support.

Those two continuous mixes have gone down so well that it's given me hope that Indie Power Pop and Pop Rock will eventually be rewarded for what it brings to the musical table. I've listened to those two Best Of's a lot and they still sound great. It made me realise how good 2017 was as well as as how little I've wrote about in 2018.

You can listen to those two broadcasts on Mixcloud and each is worth devoting a whole hour of your time to wonder how people can say Guitar Music is dead. You can listen to Part 1 here and my original IDHAS Post is here.  Part 2 is on Mixcloud here and on IDHAS here.

I'm also aware that I based all those End Of Year Lists on what appeared on I Don't Hear A Single and that I need to get Reviews up in quantity to be able to do that again at the end of the year. I'm also aware that artists must wonder what has happened to their review and I must remedy that.

The non IDHAS Music stuff that I do has grown and grown and has mentioned earlier, you will see some of the fruits of that in coming months. But this outside stuff has kept me away from what I most enjoy which is reviewing new music and I hope you've missed me as much as I have missed you.

I Don't Hear A Single is about Reviews and Radio and New Music.

So for the next few days, I am locking myself away from Phones, Email, Social Media, Skype, Voice  Conferences etc and relying more on Pigeons and Whippets. The backlog of Reviews will start to be addressed. You'll only see me on Social Media to promote the completed reviews.

You'd better get your wallets ready, there is a lot of new music that you'll want to buy.