Friday, 17 February 2017

Brinsley Schwarz - It's All Over Now

Brinsley Schwarz are a legend in their own right, particularly the tales of the US Promotion disaster of their first album. They were lumped in with the Pub Rockers, but really thrived on a UK Version of Country Rock.

The Band were big fans, as was Elvis Costello who nodded to them in Flip City and grabbed (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love And Understanding. The band backed Frankie Miller on his debut album.

Post Brinsley, Nick Lowe became Nick Lowe, Stiff Producer, solo artist, Rockpile member, part of the Carter Cash clan for a while, producer of the first five Costello albums and Lord of latter day Singer Songwriters.

Brinsley Schwarz remains one of the great underrated guitarists of his generation, most notably as part of The Rumour with Bob Andrews. Ian Gomm is held in high esteem in Power Pop circles for his solo records during the UK New Wave heyday.

The band were imploding when It's All Over Now was being recorded in 1975, the album was shelved and that appeared to be the end of that. In 1988, the album was released and quickly withdrawn. Eventually, Ian Gomm discovered the tapes were in Rockfield Studio's vaults and released the album in CDR form for a short while.

Now on Mega-Dodo, the album gets a proper release. John Blaney's label has been bringing some fine offerings to the table in recent years and this is no exception. I've been fortunate enough to get an advance CD and the album is ace. It was a completed project. It also contains the original recording of Cruel To Be Kind.

I'll be reviewing the album nearer it's April release date, hopefully with some streams. In the meantime you can pre-order the album on CD, Vinyl or Cassette here. I give you this advance warning simply because the Mega-Dodo releases tend to sell out pretty quickly. I'd also recommend the excellent book on Brinsley Schwarz which is a cracking read and reveals how influential the band were. You can buy that here.

Jonny Weathers - Jonny Weathers And Cosmic Scream

I'm absolutely loving the Jonny Weathers album and there are a number of reasons why. Firstly, it's wonderfully loose yet beautifully played. Secondly, I listen to so much sweet harmonic vocals, that to hear his growl.

Finally, it's a really intriguing album, you think you've sussed it and reference The Stones or Primal Scream when they are focussed and then you get a big surprise. Toxic Pop Soldier is achingly beautiful, yet followed by Hendrix At The Hacienda which is Jesus And The Mary Chain.

Shambala is White Album like Psych and nothing like the lazy drawling Caroline These Things Happen All The Time.  The lead guitar throughout the album seems deeply late sixties, at times Peter Green like.

With Weathers being a multi instrumentalist, it's even more impressive how the album has turned out, it's really cohesive but endearingly ramshackle. I know that's a contradiction, but listen and you'll see what I mean.

The album is at it's best when it is in Rolling Stones Territory, but ten similar songs would just become a tribute band, it's the variance that makes it. Then there is the absolute gem that is Mongo Shaker.

You can listen to the album and buy it here, you should. The real bargain is buying this album, a couple of bonus tracks and 2014's Miner's Union Songbook for just over a tenner.

The Greek Theatre - Broken Circle (Vinyl)

Many of you know how much I admire Sugarbush Records. Markus has been busy again with multiple releases this month. The Greek Theatre's follow up to Lost Out At Sea has been highly anticipated and you won't be disappointed.

This is Psychedelia of the highest order from the Swedish outfit. Laid back, bordering on Folk and Prog, proper Psych. Those gentle vocals weave into the pastoral background, this is real chill out stuff. The Greek Theatre are streets ahead of any of the Psychedelic pretenders.

Don't expect to rock out. You need to allocate 43 minutes to listen to Broken Circle all the way through. It's hard to pick out favourite tracks from something put together so lovingly. It really does feel like a complete piece.

Having said that, I've streamed my favourite two songs in this post and Stray Dog Blues is particularly wonderful. If you see the word Psychedelic and run away fast, this is the time to stop and listen, it'll change your mind. Tune In and Drop Out etc.

You can buy the album here and discover Sugarbush's other delights at the same time.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Caper Clowns - The Buca Bus

It does appear to be Scandinavia week on here, it's not intentional. Add that to the fact that I seem to live in 1975 and we have the perfect album. Odense's Caper Clowns have fashioned a great Pop Rock album.

Although The Buca Bus feels very Summer Pop, with all four band members being songwriters, the album is never samey. Whereas Pockets is great harmonic pop akin to The Legal Matters and The Explorers Club, A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains could be Jigsaw.

There's something for everyone here. The Banjos come out and suddenly it's New Seekers Time on All We Ever Do Is Run, yet As The Moment Takes You is pure Psych Pop. Sleeping On The Edge Of The Rainbow could be a Brit Pop ballad, Dressed In Flaws has a real disco strum.

When I'm Alive is pure Roddy Frame and Mirror Me reminds me of Squeeze. What a cracking debut album this is, great singalong pop. The real gem is The Significance Of Teacup which is a cross match of Somerdale and The Monkees.

If you want to hear what a great pop sounds like, you can here.  It's available everywhere to buy, so you can head off to your favourite retailer now.

Nightmen - Fifteen Minutes Of Pain

I'm a great believer that albums should say what they want to say then do one. I know this can seem contradictory from a big Prog fan, but I'm reminded of the back end of Brit Pop when 12 songs became 60 minutes plus and featured three minute ideas extended to seven by never ending chorus repeats or monotonous guitar outros or worse still, two minutes of la la la's.

None of that from Malmo's Nightmen. 12 songs, 26 minutes and a thoroughly good listen. There'll be plenty of Ramones comparisons, but so what and the alternate male / female vocals work as they break up the album even more.

In between the Garage Rock, there are absolute gems like I Only Want You with it's Power Pop chorus and organ runs. The Three lead vocalists things works. Smulan comes across as half Patti Smith, half Lene Lovich on Go Go and Beach Party. Lucky One though is more early Blondie.

There's a real CBGB's feel but enough variance to keep you hooked. It is all a bit heads down, but smatterings of nods to the likes of Lou Reed, Talking Heads and even Buzzcocks make this a really enjoyable album.

I'm really looking forward to the follow up in April. You can listen to and buy Fifteen Minutes Of Pain here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Lilliput - Midnight Daydream

Sunderland's Lilliput recorded this debut album in Liverpool, but the vibe is far more afield. The band has fashioned up a wonderfully laid back affair that owes as much to the 70's West Coast as it does to UK Pop. There's even Jazz and Funk influences.

Midnight Daydream is a really accomplished offering. Two thirds through you think that you've sussed the band and they are close to Tame Impala, then the pop shines through. Waiting To Go is so 70's Pop Rock it could be 10CC, whilst The End is Dodgy or The Bluetones.

I get so tired of the genres that keep popping up, Sludge Metal anyone? I've often wondered what Baroque Pop is. it could very well be this, a sort of Steely Dan go Psych Pop. The folk influences are there too. This is a wonderfully textured album.

Another observation is that for all the grooves that are hit, ypu are suddenly thrown by a Prog like Tempo change. Heavy Clouds starts Beatlesque, then hits a lounge like groove. Sha Sha is a shuffle that ends up Doobie Brothers. The whole album is like this, it's an absolute joy.

Then there is Catch The Monkey which is a corking slab of Psychy Pop. All nine songs add something on each repeated listens. It's an album that deserves to be listened to in 31 minute full sessions.

One of the best things that I've heard in a long while!

You can listen to the album here.  The album is available to buy for download from the likes of Amazon here. I believe there are some copies left on CD and Vinyl, if so I'll update this post.

Beachheads - Beachheads

I've been banging on about how much great Pop and Rock has been coming out of the Scandinavian countries lately, ably assisted by my good friend Nick Fletcher. Norwegian band Beachheads are another fine example.

The band come across as a UK New Wave Band from the late 70's or the more melodic outfits of Brit Pop. Lots of Riffs, I've seen comparisons to The Only Ones and I can see that, but the vocals are far more akin to Pete Wylie.

The whole album is great singalong Power Pop, reminds me a lot of the bands that were coming out of Liverpool's second Merseybeat, a scene I know all too well. Then along comes something like Reverberations which is pure Plimsouls or Paul Collins.

Procession could be The Pale Fountains and the album's closer, It Feels Alright sounds very Noel Gallagher and the brass adds to it. But time after time, I come back to Wylie and The Mighty Wah and that's a real compliment. This is a superb upbeat Power Pop album that deserves your attention.

You can listen to and buy the album here.