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Sunday, 14 August 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 34



Volume 33 hit No 3 in the Mixcloud Global Power Pop Chart and No 4 in the Pop Rock Chart. It was a little more Guitar Pop orientated that week and Volume 34 still has the chorus led songs, but also indulges in some excellent Gravitas Pop. 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 just under 38 minutes. The exclusive single from the upcoming Andy Bopp EP is something we are very proud of. So too the addition of Adrian Belew and The Fernweh.

After deciding that Genius Killer was a great closer to last week's mix, repeated listening convinced me that the song is an equally great opener. So it appears again for you to decide where it is best placed. 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 The Mommyheads - Genius Killer

02 The Prize - Wrong Side Of Town

03 Adrian Belew - Backwards And Upside Down

04 Andy Bopp - King Of The Day

05 The Fernweh - The Wounds Of Love

06 L.A. Mood - Catch The Sun

07 The Needs - Funny How

08 R.E. Seraphin - Playing House

09 The Legendary Swagger - She

10 The Dead Century - Exit On An Interstate


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 34



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R.E. Seraphin - Swingshift

 

Ray Seraphin turned lockdown into Collaboration Heaven and the resulting Swingshift is a melodic joy. It has underlined his reputation as an Indie Hero with seven songs, five originals and two inspired covers. Classed as an EP, with seven songs it is pretty close to a Mini Album.

I don't ever want to be involved with the Is It Power Pop nonsense, but I see the release classed as such and I don't really see that at all. This is melodic Guitar Pop and its Jangling Best. Anyone who selects Television Personalities and Wipers to cover is certainly not thinking Power Pop.



Swingshift also doesn't sound San Franciscan  having more in common on with perhaps Martin newell than that scene. Seraphin's gentle vocal complements the songs wonderfully. Built around riffs that hook and melodic solos that surprise you it is a cracking chorus led listen.

Big Break is Jangle Pop of the highest order whilst Stuck In Reno is more gently laid back with a wonderful country twang to enjoy. The Virtue of Being Wrong is outstanding, part Byrds, part latter day Teenage Fanclub.



Playing House even gets Glammy and the cover of This Time There's No Happy Ending is Psych Pop of the very highest order. Swingshift does nothing but enhance Seraphin's reputation. You can see him heading for the Godfather of Bedroom Pop rapidly. The man shouldn't be classed as underground, he should be over ground wombling free.



You can listen to and buy Swingshift here.


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The Happy Somethings - Running Away With The Happy Somethings (Name Your Price)

 

One of the big in the UK music wise (I know there are many) is that it has become so regional. The majors have become more and more London centric and the volume of Indie labels have evaporated leaving a world of self releasing. 

You would think that the supposed wonder of Spotify and the reach of the internet would make it much easier for Indie artists to reach an audience, but the problem is that you only find what you are looking for, you don't discover things any more. There are no happy accidents and you rely on people you respect to point you in some direction. 

There are some great Internet Radio Stations out there, but they are few and hard to find. I notice fellow writers and there are some wonderful examples out there, but too many rely on what they are fed. I see whole months of reviews that are from PR that I have been sent and I wonder do these writers ever try to discover things for themselves.



Which is where The Happy Somethings come in. There was a time when the trio would be lauded. They have more than enough tools to do the job. Great Pop that is not out of the text book. They can offer up chorus led joy with a lyrical depth to be honoured. 

You find yourself caught between singing along and concentrating on the lyrics. A band that can make you think yet tap your feet is surely something to behold. There is also an outstanding wit splattered across the catchiness.



They can be Jangle Pop, they can do Folk Pop. They can be B52s, Paisley Pop, Bananarama, The Armoires take your pick. They can also be as way out Indie as way out could possibly be. Sometimes twee, other times deep, but always with a hook. At times they can be Alisha's Attic. but they can also be The Seekers or give a Sun Sawed in 1/2 vibe.

They can write something as splendidly left field as Ego Testicle and yet also write a ballad as beautiful as Good While It Lasted. Then there are joyful Pop songs such as Not In This Life and Forward Now. Hopefully the fact that Subjangle have got involved will give The Happy Somethings the audience that they deserve, but don't necessarily crave.

Two albums and a number of EPs in, the band have collaborated with Subjangle to release this 24 song compilation. It is available as a Name Your Price, so what on earth have you got to lose? The sound of summer with songs that don't go on about how hot it is.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Saturday, 13 August 2022

Adrian Belew - Elevator

 


After the last review of a Live album and now Adrian Belew, you might be forgiven for thinking that IDHAS had changed its remit. Belew is neither new or under appreciated I hear Pedants cry, before they browse the review and head off to listen to more Big Star or Badfinger. 

Many will know Adrian Belew as the man who brought King Crimson out of hibernation or for his many sidekick activities with anyone who is anyone. Most people will have never listened to The Bears to realise that the man can in fact be a Pop star, certainly a Pop Rock star.

True he is an incredible and inventive Guitarist that can be three chord, play on a riff if you like, but he can also be avant-garde and Prog and Psych and is never ever uninteresting and on Elevator, he demands your attention/This album is wonderful Pop Rock.

Listening to the three opening songs that invention and variety provides a snapshot to what is in store for you. A13 is great Pop, at times a little ELO with an Express Train riff. A Car I Can Talk To is almost Rockabilly and XTC comparisons are ten a penny, but Backwards And Upside Down is very very Andy Partridge, wonderfully so.



The Power Of The Natural is gentle pastoral Psych Pop, all needs is a chant. You Can't Lie To Yourself is even a gentle Ballad, Beatle-esque maybe? Did I mention XTC? Well Attitude could easily appear on English Settlement and even gets a bit Sparks symphonic. 

Back To Love is cinematic, at times an electronic Prog Psych cross and more than a little 80s. Beauty is a superb pop song and Seventy Going On Seventeen is an awesome closer, lyrically adept with unexpected breakouts everywhere on what is essentially a Busker song. 

It is true to say that Elevator is all over the place and that is its charm. If one song doesn't hit the spot, the next one will and the vast majority do. It is fair to say that no one but Adrian Belew could create an album such as this. Creative, catchy and a lot ready to surprise you.

Do get out and see the Power Trio Live if you get the chance as the reports coming in are ecstatic. As for Elevator, Belew's next album will most likely be very different, but this is a tour de force. Yes Adrian Belew may be a Pop Star this week, so enjoy it while you can.


You can buy the album here and here and everywhere.


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Mark & The Clouds - Live At The Betsey Trotwood


We don't generally cover too many Live albums on I Don't Hear A Single. It's just a matter of available time really, so we save what we do cover to the occasional Live Sessions format. But we make an exception with Mark And The Clouds, partly due to the lack of being able to watch much over the past couple of years.

But mainly because these three are one of the best Psych Pop Power Trios and their last album, Waves, impressed us so much that it was in the IDHAS Best Of Year. What Waves did was introduce a much deeper side to the band. You can read the review here



The variance on Waves is fully demonstrated in the Live setting. 8 of the 9 Tracks are from that album and underline the strength of the release. They also fully reveal what a fine guitarist Marco Magnani is and how well the Trio click.

No One Makes A Sound goes into Cream territory and You Wanna Put Me Down is great sweaty UK Beat.  Waves almost becomes Lindisfarne and In The Big Crowd is great Pop Rock with a twang. The non Waves song is a fine cover of All Or Nothing sung by Bassist John O'Sullivan.



The stand out is the Psych Pop of You And Me In Space, a fine opener. The main difference here is that without the likes of the studio album's Brass arrangements etc, the songs sound more earthy, a little bit different and translate beautifully to the live show,

My one regret is that the magnificent Psych of Somebody Else isn't present. It is a mind blowing affair and I urge you to listen to it on the Waves album which is also on Bandcamp/ However, Mark And The Clouds underline how gripping the Power Trio format can be when it concentrates on the songs, not the technical ability.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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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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