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Sunday, 7 August 2022

West Coast Music Club - Faded Scrapbook


Greetings From Ashton Park, West Kirby appeared in I Don't Hear A Single's Best Of 2020 and rightly so. It is an album that sounds as though it comes from the West Coast Of America, when West Coast Music Club actually come from my West Coast, the Wirral, over the water from Liverpool. 

The Brit Pop Rock sensibilities were around on that album and are even more so on Faded Scrapbook. Having said that, there are still nods to across the Atlantic Ocean, If You Only Knew isn't a million miles away from Neil Young and Ouija Doll is very San Francisco hippy Psych.



Hotel California (no not that one) is big Brit Pop, more than a little like Embrace with a decent song. The vocal is very Danny McNamara, but the song doesn't rely on endlessly repeated choruses. The View From Here could be described as Folk, more likely Psych Folk. It broods wonderfully. 

The real take from the album is how much the album Jangles, but does so in different ways. Now Or Never is more melancholic yet. Here It Comes Again heads towards Dream Pop and Faded Scrapbook is a Psych Pop Jangle. 



The stand out is the opener, Fanclub Favourite, a sort of The Posies meet Teenage Fanclub, it shows yet another string to the bow of WCMC and also underlines the band's development as this album is the band's most impressive yet.

It has been great to watch their development. I never ever expected them to come up with a song as frantic and Mid 80s fuzz as Serendipity and I'm delighted that they have. I could rightly say that this is the best West Coast Music Club album yet, but that would be easy. However this is much more than that. The band has evolved and continues to evolve. Well done all!



You can listen to and buy the album here. It is available as a CD or download.


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Northern Portrait - The Swiss Army

 

It has been a long time since Northern Portrait's excellent debut album, 12 years in fact. The Danish quartet's second album is just as great as you would expect, but they had better bring a note from their mum to explain their absence.

The Swiss Army inhabits a world somewhere between the UK Indie Pop of the second half of the Eighties and the Poppier end of Brit Pop. The band are not gonna overload you with big jangling riffs, relying on the depth of the songwriting and the masterful atmospheric arrangements.



This is great Pop, at times a little melancholic with a mass of thought put into all. Nothing contained inside is throwaway. A song like Business Class Hero is very close to Folk Pop, particularly with the harmonica addition. But the string arrangement rounds off the song beautifully. 

World Part History Part I and II is far more jaunty, hypnotic even and the music box has really been raided. The first part of the song is a little bit Pavement, a little bit Blur but the second part has the drum drive of The Doves.



You can see why the Glasgow Guitar Pop of At Attention was chosen as a single, but I suggest that there Once Upon A Bombshell, the second single was an even better choice. It is simply magnificent with a killer riff, the sweet vocals contradicted by that Peaky Blinders Riff and rounded around with some splendid organ.

Nineties Survivor is lyrically ace and reminds me of something out of Dunedin in the 90s. From Here Our World Expands has a fantastic arrangement and sounds a bit latter day Blur when the oompah had been left behind. Beautifully produces, beautifully arranged and beautifully sung, The Swiss Army is a triumph. Highly Recommended!



The album can be bought on Vinyl, CD or as a download from Matinee Recordings shop here. A special mention should be given to the label who constantly deliver excellence in unexpected guises. 


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Saturday, 6 August 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 33



It's time for a new 10 Song Mix. Volume 32 appeared in all 5 Mixcloud Global Top 100 Charts that it qualified for. The highest position was No 26 in the Indie Pop Chart. Thank you to all you listeners and I do hope you visited the artist pages to listen to more.

Our 10 favourite songs this week come in at almost 36 minutes. It sounds a little more Guitar Pop than usual, but still contains more than enough diversions. Please stick around until the end because The Mommyheads closer is wonderful. It just naturally fitted to finish the mix.

Also included is Butch Walker, who has not been in IDHAS or ASH land for a good while and thankfully the song contains no hand claps. 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 Beddy Rays - Wait A While

02 Push Puppets - Sometimes The Buds Never Flower

03 Richard Turgeon - Please Take Me Back

04 Das Phaedrus - This Land Wasn't Made For You And Me

05 Cadet Carter - In The Clear

06 The Happy Somethings - Ego Testicle

07 Robby Miller - Staying For The Weekend

08 Butch Walker - Holy Water Hangover

09 The Glad Machine - San Francisco

10 The Mommyheads - Genius Killer



IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 33



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Sunday, 31 July 2022

The Million Sessions

 

Without trying to bewilder you with messages, there's something else to tell you about regarding I Don't Hear A Single. This is partly as a response to why we've been a bit quiet lately, partly to celebrate a milestone and to provide info on the long planned live concert series.

Let's start with the milestone. When I Don't Hear A Single started it was never intended to be what it has become. IDHAS was a reaction to people continually saying all new music was crap. We wanted to show that that wasn't true and set up a place to celebrate the new stuff that we liked. 

The place may have evolved over that time but it still remains as a celebration of albums by the new and under appreciated. Bearing in mind that remit, we never expected it to be a popular and at times mainstream thing. 

But sometime this year, most likely October, we will witness our millionth hit of the Blog. Pretty amazing in just six years. We wanted to celebrate that and so have started to plan a week of Live Sessions for October, Seven daily shows in fact.

We did something similar noting the 100th Episode of The IDHAS Audio Extravaganza which was incredibly popular. This time it is looking like it will be a much bigger affair and we've started early to plan it, hence why July has been a bit haphazard. 

You will still hear artists that you would expect to hear, we won't forget what we are about. But this time round we have some high profile names wanting to provide a session. Artists that have a much bigger following and are neither new or underappreciated. Bands we love that are fans of IDHAS and want to be involved. 

So we have started to send the invites out and each show will have three or four sessions, so technically there are 28 up for grab although we may extend the period by a couple of days or add some specials or make the shows longer. There you have the outline of The Million Sessions.



You may also remember that we had planned a year of Live Shows throughout the UK until the lockdown started. We agreed here never to go on about the Lockdown, so we are now starting to finally get the initial planning of those to kick off in 2023.

I Don't Hear A Single will continue as always. Don went back into real life work earlier this year after being in semi retirement. So there won't be masses of reviews Monday to Friday, one a day at best, but the weekend content will ramp up and there will still be regular IDHAS 10 Song Mixes which is taking on a life of its own in popularity lately.

Finally, although I have updated the post, an apology in the delay of review of the Ness Album. The series is a goer, but just as we were about to publish the review, we have managed to get the band involved who want to add some background stuff to the piece, It will be more all encompassing, but sadly a little delayed.


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The Maple Mars Album Launch

 



Last night was the launch of the new Maple Mars album, Someone's Got To Listen at SIR Studios In Hollywood.  You can read the IDHAS review of the album here. The venue was packed out, the band were at the top of their game. The Merch Stall was hammered.

A great band on a great label with a great album. Big Stir are a label built on community that promote their artists and treat them as friends. Maple Mars have kept us waiting for 12 years and last night was worth the wait. 





To show what community is about, Rick's son did the catering, Rex's kids manned the Merchandise Stall, Christina's husband was the photographer and Rex ran the live stream. Sponsors also got involved. 

Many artists return and promise much and all too often, disappointment is the result. For Maple Mars to return in such style with such a live performance promoting what may be their best album ever is just heart warming and splendid.






Build it, Promote it and be proud of it and the people will come. Who says people don't attend shows any more?

You can see the full show here. The band come on about ten minutes in.




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Richard Turgeon - Rough Around The Edges

 

Richard Turgeon is extremely prolific and in the wrong hands this could affect quality control. However, thankfully, Turgeon always seems to hit the spot and in the past five years or so has created his own space, a space that relies on consistency and excellence.

I've compared him in the past to a one man Art College. From Screenwriting to Photography, the man seems to have it all and so the ability to continually write and perform top notch songs with all this going on deserves large applause.



He has carved a place in what is essentially California Guitar Pop without ever being afraid to move into other areas such as Power Pop, Classic Rock and Pop Rock. The Template though largely resides somewhere between a jangling Tom Petty and a riffaholic Matthew Sweet.

Rough Around The Edges is classed as an EP, however buyers on Bandcamp and purchasers of the Kool Kat CD get an additional four songs which takes the release into album territory. The six standalone songs offer great variety. 



Goodbye Home is a little latter day Stipe, Fire Drill sounds very Chris Church like and Better With You is one of the best Power Pop songs that you will hear and has a slight Country Twang in the vocal. I Never Loved You is classic AOR and the pace is only reduced with 7 Stories which edges towards Yacht Rock.

Turgeon does get compared to Matthew Sweet a lot and I'm gonna do it again. The best song here is Please Take Me Back and it is possibly the best Sweet song that he hasn't written. If only the real thing produced something as great these days. I will leave the 4 Bonus Tracks as a surprise, but assure you that they are just as excellent.



You can listen to the album on Bandcamp here. When you purchase the album you are automatically supplied with all 10 songs. The Kool Kat CD also contains all 10 Tracks.


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Saturday, 30 July 2022

Toni Tubna And The Stockholm Tuba Sect - When the Magic Went Wrong

 

I have The John Sally Ride's John Dunbar to thank for recommending this. John correctly describes it as the sort of album that Martin Newell should make and I feel a little guilty, as I've long been a fan of Folkstone's Ian Button through his many adventures, but I had no idea he was up to this.

Ex Death In Vegas and Thrashing Doves and currently Papernut Cambridge. Co- Founder of the superb Gare Du Nord Records label and Producer of Lawrence's Go-Kart Mozart, the man never stops. It was during a tour as drummer for The Catenary Wives that the story of Toni Tubna began.



I won't go into the whole story as you can read that on the Bandcamp site. Briefly, Button wrote emails to his bandmates during the tour about an ill fated magician called Toni Tubna, an anagram of his name. Those stories became a book and eventually a team up with art historian and lyricist, Scott Thomas Buckle. This album is the result.

What an album it is! Essentially a concept album, When The Magic Went Wrong is a wonderful slice of Toy Town Psych Pop mixed with Baroque Pop and Music Hall. Gentle but intriguing, at times it is Inspired Pop Music.



Clash Of Minds even treads into 60s Kinks territory. The Mayor Of Bridlington stands alone as a special song that would be lauded from the rooftops if written by Andy Partridge or Robyn Hitchcock. When The Magic Went Wrong, the opener, has an arrangement more in line with Alan Price or Peter Skellern.

This isn't a joke album, it is a quaint beautifully written and arranged affair. Having been through email, book and album, it would probably stand being a musical. A complete surprise to me, this album is getting played and played. Highly Recommended!



You can listen to and buy the album here. A reprint of the original book can also be bought here.


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