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Tuesday, 17 May 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 27

It is time for another volume of the IDHAS 10 Song Mix. So, as if by magic, No 27 appears.  34 minutes of guitar led delight. The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. 

Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Extra Arms - I Don't Wanna Die

02 Bottlecap Mountain - Kool

03 The Chemistry Set - Lovely Cup Of Tea

04 Ginger Wildheart - Detachment

05 Tamar Berk - Hoping This Day Won't Kill Us

06 Vanilla - I Shall Be Re-Released

07 Bedroom Eyes - Here Comes Godot

08 Lantern By Sea - Ghost Story

09 Speedfossil - Luckiest Man In The World

10 The Toms - Witching Hour Glass Figure

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 27


Lantern By Sea - Rim Of The World


The quartet from Cedar Hills, Utah, seem to have been lumped in with the Indie Folk gang. Comparisons are made to Manchester Orchestra which I see, soundscape wise and Mumford And Sons, which I don't see at all. Lantern By Sea are much more interesting than the insipidness of the latter.

Rim Of The World is certainly Indie, but nearer Indie Pop Rock if anything. The production is absolutely wonderful and this allows the songs to fully encompass all the directions they take. The album does sound a little 80s at time, in a good way, there is a gentleness that washes over you.

A song like Ghost Story bursts into life and could easily appear on Deacon Blue's Raintown, it is a really uplifting affair and perhaps should have opened the album. On the slower numbers, the band even sound more than a little like Elbow.

Lantern By Sea are however far too jaunty at times to be Elbow. Those pacier songs are built around a big riff and really break the album up. Eastern Sun could even be Coldplay. The Stone builds and builds on a very U2 riff.

The arrangements are massive, particularly the Celtic, Gallows which could be Prime Time Runrig. Atmospheric is the word to describe the album. As for Indie Folk, the only song close is Fisherman Song and that doesn't reach 2 minutes. A real sit back and enjoy affair. Well done all!

You can listen to the album here and at all the usual streaming places. You can buy it everywhere. You can find out more about the band here.


The Chemistry Set - Pink Felt Trip


When I tell people that I listen to as much Psych and Prog as Pop Rock, people get all quizzical faced. They forget that I Don't Hear A Single majors on Pop Rock, so that is what you are most likely to see featured. However, whenever an album is released in either of those genres that deserves a wider audience and I think will appeal to followers, I will cover it.

The Chemistry Set are one such band. Dave McLean and Paul Lake are now well into The Chemistry Set's fourth decade and are still just as interesting as those early days. They define Psych and Europe despite their Britishness. 

A listen to the first three songs reveals both the variety and sort of trip you are in for. Pink Felt Trip is a fine slice of Space Psych, The Witch is a cover of Mark Fry's 1972 song and ventures deep into Prog. Then there's Lovely Cup Of Tea which is like Madness doing Psych Pop.

Sail Away has a real twang and but for the hippy trippy vibe, could be a Brit Pop song and Legend Of A Mind gives the impression of a gentle LSD Trip, it is like three songs in one, beautifully arranged and uses every second of the six and a half minutes.

Paint Me A Dream wipes the floor with most Psych Pop pretenders, whilst Firefly comes across as a less twee Kula Shaker. Psychotronic Man is a modern day Moody Blues. Then there is The Rubicon is New Wave UK Beat. 

Oh and the closing Self Expression Trinity is simply jaw dropping. It is over 11 minutes long and in three parts and contained within is everything that The Chemistry Set excel at. A magnificent soundscape that encompasses Psych, Pop Rock, Prog and all in between. It is a masterpiece.

Pink Felt Trip feels like the most accessible by the band yet. There is something for everyone. Inventive, melodic and taking unexpected routes, it is an essential listen. It could only appear on Fruits De Mer and of course it does.

You can pre-order the album from Fruits de Mer here


Sunday, 15 May 2022

Blunt Bangs - Proper Smoker


Blunt Bangs are a trio from Athens, Georgia with a history that wouldn't necessarily suggest a great Power Pop album. Reggie Youngblood made his name in the excellent Black Kids, a band more in line with Indie Pop, whilst Smokey DeRoeck is more known in Indie Circles that edge more towards College Rock in bands such as Woods and Deep State.

Joined by Cash Carter of The Cadets on Drums, the trio don't necessarily make up a Power Trio, Proper Smoker is a little lo (er) fi for that. But they have fashioned up a superb Classic Power Pop Album that has all the touch points that make it that.

These 10 songs are incredibly melodic, lead up verses, big choruses, hook laden riffs and a short lead guitar bridge. They remind me a lot of The Speedways in many ways. However they aren't content to rest on the sub 3 minute template.

The band are even more interesting when they expand the songs. Speed Reader turns into a Guitar Fest. The wonderful, Odessa, edges into much wider genres, a little bit The Knack but much deeper than them. It is very New Wave.

The switch of Vocalists works well and adds to the variety, especially on a song like Tom Ford which is a great 2 minute say what you wanna say and get off joy. Hot Potato is a splendid closer, venturing into a much harder Indie direction. You can imagine how great Blunt Bangs are in a live setting.

But it is the Power Pop that will grab a lot of IDHAS fans most. Songs like She's Gone, Decide and Moshi Mishi will delight fans of the genre. That may real some, but there is far more here than verse verse chorus verse chorus bridge. Beautifully played, Proper Smoker is an album from a band that know what they are doing and they do it so well.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Saturday, 14 May 2022

Man Behind Tree - 3


I absolutely love what Subjangle do. Great Promoters of the new, provider of the best weekly update of the new with the essential "Beat The Delete" and a label that puts its money where its mouth is. Darrin and I get on infamously, we share similar attitudes, love music and both manage a warped sense of humour that makes us laugh out loud at each other's snarks.

Musically, we are a little different, we share a massive fondness for Melodic Pop, but where as Darrin moves more towards Dream Pop, I move towards the likes of Psych Pop. Like A Venn Diagram, the middle converging circle is where the best of both directions meet and contains the most interesting stuff you will ever hear.

Man Behind Tree inhabit that middle circle. The German quartet are a splendid listen, Guitar Pop at its very best. With all four members taking vocals, the variety is heightened, although you sense that they are happiest performing West Coast Pop and it is here that they excel most.

Japanese Mopeds, for instance, is as close to modern day Teenage Fanclub that you believe it is the Glaswegians. TFC comparisons can be incredibly lazy, but this song is worthy of that likeness. 99 takes that West Coast comparison further, with some great vocal interplay with a killer Jangle that ventures towards Psych Pop.

Can't Stop Drinking has a mesmeric riff, a little bluesy and a complete contrast to the gentle vocal. Don't Lose Grip even sounds more like late 60s Beach Pop and Moonshiner could be C86, all moody and magnificent.

Better Now You Got It is another example of the superb vocal harmonies present through out and is a Power Pop song that is desperate to get out, but never quite manages it. California Zephyr goes further and is splendid Power Pop.

Then there is the magnificent five minutes that is Picture Your Old Friends. A moody meandering joy that contains the best of what the band do. Built around a Merseybeat riff until a much darker solo takes the song into a weeping Guitar led close. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Friday, 13 May 2022

Vanilla - Sideshow


There is not enough Guitar Pop in the world. A genre that makes the bright days brighter and never seems to get the acclaim it deserves. Tacoma's Vanilla are masters of Intelligent Melodic Pop, inventive and catch all catchy.

No two songs ever sound the same, yet all contain unexpected twists and turns and centre on massive choruses. Sideshow does all this with ease, adding a wit and knowledge that makes their albums essential but never ever ordinary.

Sorry! is a classic slice of 60s Beat Pop, Rain is built around a killer Bass Riff, almost soul like but for the sweet sounding vocal. I Shall Be Re-Released contains about ten songs in one, wonderful Indie Pop, even a little bit XTC.

Lonely Was His Name could be a song from the Peaky Blinders soundtrack and The Truth Is Never True is very 60s 1964 UK Beat and End The Day is magnificently moody and melancholic, completely out of kilter with everything else on display here.

Ten Bells is a wonderful example of UK Toytown, a bit like The Flying Pickets doing Psych Pop. Many of you know how much I like Toytown, I hear no better recent example. Then there is the outstanding, It's Drunk And Raining, very Liar's Club and a perfect example of default Vanilla.

You know that you are never gonna hear a bad Vanilla album, but Sideshow is the top of the toppermost. Hooks aplenty, singalong choruses and a deft ability to be different without ever losing sight of the song. Wonderful!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Bottlecap Mountain - Fib Factory


The fifth album from Austin Texas's Bottlecap Mountain and a follow up to the excellent Dismayland which made the IDHAS Best 100 Albums of 2019. You can read the review of that album here. There are still traces of Country / Americana, but Rock dominates the album, wonderfully so.

Stewart Gersman reveals a lyrical excellence that wasn't obvious on Dismayland. The album sounds more than a bit 70s, particularly Tsar Tsar. Captain Boothroyd has a killer riff, again very 70s Pop Rock. Zihuatenejo is like a sort of Calypso funk.

Kool is all 70s New Wave Power Pop, Tin Can Belief is big Southern Rock and Big Dumb is very U2. The Country is still present, but in a much reduced volume. Bottlecap Mountain still do that incredibly well on Loser's Blues and It's Nothing New, but Fib Factory is all about the band's Indie Rock chops.

Just My Memories sounds like a 60's Death Ballad, Gene Pitney springs to mind. Tin Can Belief has a real College Rock vibe with its big chorus. Then there's Mr Mouse. a song about a errrrrrrrrr mouse, but with lots of hidden meaning.

My main take on the album is the strength of the song writing. It is big sounding and beautifully produced, but the lyrics are loud and clear. Those and the killer riffs make this a pleasure to listen to. A band at the top of their game! Highly Recommended.

You can listen to and buy the album here.