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Friday, 7 May 2021

Finn's Motel - Fireworks Or Lightning

 



One of the main benefits of covering the new and under appreciated is that you often get a Wow Moment! It may be a new band that just grips you or someone you know who produces a completely unexpectedly great album. Finn's Motel fall into the former category. These moments don't come as often as you might think. So when they do, you just have to tell everyone.

Finn's Motel are a quartet from St Louis, Missouri led by Joe Thebeau and if on first listen you would describe this album as Modern Prog or Classic Rock you would be wrong as there is far more going on. Just as Rush fans berate anyone who call them Prog because of the early part of their career, well Fireworks Or Lightning has big choruses and riffs that hook you that has far more in common with Pop Rock.



Talking Of Rush, as I am wont to do, there is some similarity in some off the riffs and the odd solo, but Finn's Motel don't want to blind you with complexity, it is all about the song, If ever an album would explain what I Don't Hear A Single is about, it is far nearer this than September Gurls.

The catchiness of it all hits you fairly early. Repeated listens reveal far more. The variation is commendable. For instance, the outstanding More Heat Than Light has 1974 UK Glam Rock desperate to get out. Even something slower like Sparkler Bombs is never mawkish and just has to burst out part way through before reverting to the sedate.



The title track is something you could easily imagine being on a Barclay James Harvest, or indeed any other 70's Melodic Rock, album. One Gone rattles along, it really is a cracker of a song and to be honest my preference is probably when the band gather pace and let go. But I could say that about most that I listen to. 

If you want Prog you've got it with the 10 minutes of Police Lights Suite. Constantly changing tempo and style, it is wonderful. My problem with Prog is that there is too much sub mediocre stuff around. Listen to this you bands, this is how it can be done tastefully without all the demonstrating your instrument adeptness. Open your ears and forget your prejudices and you'll be surprised at how much you enjoy this album. Highly Recommended.



You can listen to and buy Fireworks Or Lightning here. You can find out more about the band here.


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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

John Howard - Collected : The Best Of John Howard (2CD) (Pre-Order Details)

 



Long overdue, specially-priced 2CD career retrospective on the Kool Kat Musik Label (including a cache of previously unreleased tracks) by one of the UK’s best artists you probably never heard! 

This collection will be released on 14 May 2021. The Kool Kat pre-order link is here

UK Orders will be supplied by I Don't Hear A Single, but paid for through the Kool Kat link above. Special Arrangements have been made to reduce the postage and packing charge to 8 dollars for UK Customers. You will pay the Kool Kat rate of 16 dollars will have 8 dollars immediately refunded. Therefore the price will you will be paying is 26 dollars ($18 + $8), This is effectively £19 at current exchange rates and you also do not risk any potential UK Customs charges.

European Customers can pre-order directly from John here.  This will avoid any slight Brexit related delay, but John only has limited stock after which further European CDs will be supplied by I Don't Hear A Single. Further details will then be supplied.




This 2CD set was curated by Edward Rogers (host of The Atlantic Tunnel and quite an artist himself) who also wrote the copious liner notes.  

“What happens when you meet THE SPECIAL artist who can put a thrill in your heart from a twinkle in their eye? Well in 1974, that artist was John Howard. He was discovered playing in the Troubadour Folk Club. The music world was at his feet -wined and dined at the most fabulous London restaurants, photos by THE photographer (Dezo Hoffman), clothed by the finest haberdashery in town. 

He was groomed to the be the next Elton John meets David Bowie! He had the songs, looks, charisma and style, Pop music had a new contender.  As we all know, not every artist who is a star achieves commercial success and London streets are not paved in gold. That doesn’t stop a true artist from creating the precious art they were born to make.  

For most artists that would break their spirit but John found a respectable way to pursue his musical career by playing London’s fashionable restaurants and piano bars. He continued to release singles, like 1978’s ‘I Can Breathe Again’ produced by Trevor Horn of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ fame! By the mid-80’s he had a successful career in A&R working at MCA, EMI and Universal, while still pursuing his song writing career. 




Listen to these songs and feel the emotions revealed in his lyrics as the writer opens himself up and invites you into his private world. He reveals little segments of his life through each lyric. Feelings we can all relate to!  Maybe by wearing his heart on his sleeve and revealing his true feelings he has alienated some, but I believe this should be the mission of every true artist.  

Unlike Scott Walker before him, John never stopped performing and entertaining in all the London cabaret and night clubs. He may not be a household name, but it doesn’t stop him from writing an amazing collection of songs.  The songs contained here are the ultimate collection of this artist’s finest work to date. 




Taken from over fifty years’ work, it’s the first time John’s finest songs are available on CD in the United States!  I am honoured to have worked with John, selecting some of my faves so you can discover the magic music of his music John Howard. I hope you enjoy the musical journey.” 

Edward Rogers (taken from the liner notes) 


Further details on John and his career can be found on his website here.


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Monday, 3 May 2021

Kool Kat Musik Weekly New Release Update



Welcome to the Kool Kat Weekly New Release Update. Kool Kat are distributed in the UK and Europe by I Don't Hear A Single as part of our aim to keep CDs available and affordable. The Kool Kat Links with each album take you to further details on each release..

Please place all UK and European orders by following the details here. Links to Kool Kat's Entire Stock can be found here. Without further ado, here are seven new additions to Kool Kat Musik this Week.


The August Teens - I’m Selfish And So Is My Cat (Kool Kat Musik 2021) $14






NEW RELEASE ON THE KOOL KAT MUSIK LABEL AVAILABLE MAY 7 – ACCEPTING ORDERS NOW!!  The band's long-awaited (more than 10 years) third album (and Kool Kat label debut), “I’m Selfish and So is My Cat” emerged as a download-only release on Bandcamp in May of 2020.  Catchy music, concise song construction and clever lyrics make their music pretty unforgettable, so it’s a very happy day to finally have these songs available in recorded form.  


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Rick Coraccio - Anthology (Arcadian Sun Recorders  2021)      $15






Rick Coraccio was an essential influence in the 70’s/80’s Boston garage rock scene. Rick played in DMZ, Lyres and an early version of The Real Kids when they were simply The Kids. He formed several of his own bands - The Shambles and The Last Ones - which produced some amazing songs, some of which are present on his 24 song career-spanning collection.  


Kool Kat Link


AWAITING LINK


The Direct Hits - The Broadway Recording Sessions (Optic Nerve Records 2021)      $16






Way back in 1982, Battersea based mod heroes Direct Hits had released one single “Modesty Blaise” on Dan Treacy’s Whamm! record label.  Whamm! were struggling to provide the funds to record an album, so Direct Hits pooled their limited resources and self financed a very cheap one day recording session in a tiny studio in Tooting, South London called Broadway Sound.  Almost two years later they re-recorded some of these songs, and along with a handful of new songs from the pen of Buckmaster and Swan, recorded their “Blow Up” debut album at Rendezvous Studios in Sydenham, South East London, and released on Whaam! Records in August 1984.  So what you have here are the roots of some of these great songs. A few didn’t make it to the first album those that did, as you will hear, remained reasonably faithful to the original arrangements.  


 Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link

 

John Larson and The Silver Fields - The Great Pause (Shiny Fly Records 2021)      $11   






When the pandemic hit last March, John Larson (formerly of The Marlowes) and The Silver Fields took advantage of the extra time they were afforded. They’d already planned to record a follow-up to 2019’s “Glimpses” but the forced shutdown provided an opportunity for John to concentrate on writing new songs. Low-maintenance, yet strong and energetic, John Larson and the Silver Fields don’t waste time or space.” – SomethingElseReviews.com 


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


The SPiRES - Era Was (Artifical Light Records 2021)      $14







The SPiRES are from Ventura, CA and have been around for about 15 years, but thanks to Jeff Shelton’s “Power Pop Show”, they’re new to us.  They play timeless, jangly, indie guitar pop.  According to the band, “Era Was” “started off as a full band live record then ended up a bedroom headphone jammer.”  The record is highly recommended if you like your indie rock understated, subtle, and well executed.  

 

Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Stepford Knives - Blue In The Face b/w I Don’t Want Her (Anymore) (Loaded Goat Records 2021)    7 Inch Vinyl      $8.50






Jamie Hoover recently teamed up with Otis Hughes, who played bass for the now-defunct alternative-metal band Animal Bag. Calling themselves Stepford Knives, the fellows just released “Blue In the Face”/”I Don’t Want Her (Anymore),” their debut single.  “The disc announces the arrival of an adventurous collaboration. Jamie and Otis may come from different musical backgrounds, but the blending of their influences in Stepford Knives produces agreeable results.  



Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link


Teenage Fanclub - Endless Arcade (Merge Records 2021)      $15





“Endless Arcade” is Teenage Fanclub’s first record since 2016’s “Here”.  The new record is quintessential TFC: melodies are equal parts heart warming and heart aching, guitars chime and distort, keyboard lines mesh and spiral, harmony-coated choruses burst out like sun on a stormy day.  The band may not be as loose as they once were, but that is more than compensated for in the harmonies and fine arrangements.


Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link


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Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Some Thoughts On Vinyl

 

Firstly let us stop calling it by this ridiculous name. Record or LP may be more apt because you buy vinyl for floors. Don't misunderstand me, I love the format. I've never sold my collection despite replacing most of it on CD. I don't agree with the better than CD sound, particularly on modern presses, but if people think it is and it makes them buy more music, then all is well.

Don't be fooled by the marketing about it selling more than CD. Records are over twice the price of CD, so unit wise, I think you will find that CDs still well outsell their newer / older competitor. For the buyer, particularly overseas, the cost of postage has risen beyond all expectations and the larger size of vinyl adds to that cost as does the packaging. You have to pay that p and p because sadly there are not that many Record Shops around now and no one visits them unless it is Record Store Day.

For artists, Records can be a vanity project. Nice to look at and show off with, but too many copies end up stacked in their garage. People cry out for them, but many don't buy, either through sheer economics or because something they think is better appears in the long lead times. Just because an artist sells 300 on CD doesn't mean 300 will be sold on record. 

The Super Deluxe Edition nonsense has meant that the record labels have spotted an easy buck. I simply do not understand why anyone wants to buy an Edition that includes both Vinyl and CD and all the extra tracks are largely things not good enough to make the original album.

My biggest problem though is the presentation of releases. The old LP was a joy to behold. The pleasure was also in reading the cover notes or / and the insert. Now you just get the front and back cover and a plain white insert. CDs add the notes not vinyl though, unless you want a nice booklet like those in the Super Deluxe Editions that many can't justify the expense on. So many will be buying an LP just so that they can say they've got one. 

Finally, a tip for you hipsters. An album doesn't sound better played on a £50 Crossley Record Player. Oh and you don't need to spend £20 on Born To Run and Rumours, you can get them much cheaper in Second Hand Record Shops or online with the inserts.

The Legal Matters - Chapter Three

 


I avoid mentioning lockdown and Covid in reviews, not out of callousness, but in a belief that music should be a diversion from the strain. I will mention it here though, because as we see signs of coming out of the tunnel, I can think of no better album to accompany me than one by The Legal Matters.

The trio seem to be joined at the hip. I always assume that if I tell one something, he will tell the others, I don't need to contact all three. This expands into their music which always comes across as brotherly, tight and united. There is a real bond between the three and this album more than any confirms that.



I thought I'd look at a couple of other reviews of Chapter Three, not because I'm a magpie. but to see if those reviews concurred with my thoughts. Being honest, they don't really. I see comparisons to Big Star, Fountains Of Wayne, Weezer and The Beach Boys. There may the odd bit somewhere that does, but largely I don't hear any of that.

The Legal Matters have far more in common with a band like Crowded House and the harmonies are more Simon And Garfunkel or The Everly Brothers. The songs are divided equally between Chris Richards and Andy Reed, but this is no dictatorial song writing, the three work on all the songs together to expand what is initially brought to the table.



The fact that one member writes the odd numbered songs, the other the even, may concern some about track sequencing. It did me as I (wrongly) associated Reed with the slower numbers and Richards with any pace. Well that certainly isn't the case here.

I would never have associated Andy Reed with the wonderful The World Is Mine. It is all barrel piano, a little Toytown Psych and has far more in common with bands Like The Successful Failures. That's All is all Roy Orbison 60's twang and could almost appear on the American Graffiti soundtrack. You would think Reed wrote it, he didn't. 

This also underlines how collaborative the album is. The Painter is spot on 70's Piano Pop yet Please Make A Sound has a cracking 80's synth sound running through it. Make Things Up is splendid twang. A Memory Of Sound is jaunty pop at its very best and the closer, Passing Chord is an absolute vocal masterpiece.



The Legal Matters usually do mellow best and there is plenty here to keep those fans happy. But there seems to be more chances taken on this third album and boy do they work. The harmonies are as tight as ever, but the songs seem to have even more oomph.

There are plenty of bands that harmonise well. Perhaps, a few too many that made that California scene a little done. They should have gone to Michigan, because The Legal Matters could come up with any of those albums easily, but no other band could have come up with something as varied and great as this. Highly Recommended!



You can listen the album here. It is available on CD, Vinyl or Download. 


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Sunday, 25 April 2021

Dropkick - The Best Of Dropkick

 


I have an apology to make and I do so profusely. I've taken Dropkick for granted. I've been listening to them for most of their two decade career through 14 albums. Every album delights, yet in my Pop Rock bubble, I just assume that everyone knows them.

So it has taken this Best Of to give me a good shaking and make me realise that I Don't Hear A Single's audience has expanded. I should also remember that you shouldn't stop mentioning a band just because every album is great. Here is a great chance for newcomers to fill their boots and long time fans to enjoy the Vinyl release.






The band get compared to Teenage Fanclub a lot, but doesn't every Scottish band that plugs in a Guitar. There are obvious comparisons, but truth be known Teenage Fanclub have got much nearer to Dropkick over the period. There is a lot here in common with the West Coast Jangling of The Byrds, no bad thing when it is done so well, too often it isn't.

When the pace picks up on songs, there is a similarity to Tom Petty. When they slow down, it is more Neil Finn and acoustically, Dropkick become far more Americana. However default is 12 strings Jangle Pop Heaven and that is when the band are at the best.






Those slower songs offer up some splendid pop, best represented by the likes of I Wish I Knew and Come Home. Don't Dream Of California is akin to The Explorers Club harmony wise and Nowhere Girl is a top notch Country offering. 

I am also delighted to find Obvious is included. My favourite Dropkick song and I'm delighted that the album is getting a 15th Anniversary Edition in May. 30 songs is a lot of Dropkick for first time buyers, but with an instant collection, you will want to delve further into the Dropkick Back Catalogue. You won't be disappointed. 





You can listen to and buy the album here. It is available as a Sugarbush Vinyl 2LP Edition which also includes a 2 CD set including 20 extra tracks. The CD Version has 27 tracks due to format constraints. You can also buy the Vinyl directly from Sugarbush here.


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Kool Kat Musik Weekly New Release Update



Welcome to the Kool Kat Weekly New Release Update. Kool Kat are distributed in the UK and Europe by I Don't Hear A Single as part of our aim to keep CDs available and affordable. The Kool Kat Links with each album take you to further details on each release..

Please place all UK and European orders by following the details here. Links to Kool Kat's Entire Stock can be found here. Without further ado, here are seven new additions to Kool Kat Musik this Week.


Peter Case - The Midnight Broadcast (Bandaloop Records 2021)      $16





“The Midnight Broadcast” is the most unusual entry in Peter Case’s extensive and eminently admirable career. The sixteen tracks see him in fine voice and interweaving music, sound effects, and spoken word segments to create a simulation of that quasi-mystical sensation that’s inspired so many music lovers and musicians since the invention of radio. 


Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link


The Chickenbackers - Yeh Right, YEAH! (Kool Kat Musik 2021)      $14





Meet Madrid’s newest hitmakers The Chickenbackers!!  They nail that 60’s Merseybeat sound perfectly with their catchy melodies, tight surfy guitars and great harmonies!  Previously only available on vinyl/download, Fourteen catchy, instantly memorable tunes with a lot of true hit potential!  


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Death By Unga Bunga - Heavy Male Insecurity (Jansen Records 2021)      $12





The Norway five offer up their latest album. The perfect mix of punk/garage rock, so far, and already a strong contender for my number 1 album of 2021!”


 Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link

 

The Forty Nineteens - New Roaring Twenties (Big Stir Records 2021)      $12





Only The Forty Nineteens could offer such a positive and energetic take on our new decade, and the irresistible energy of their latest offering - radio-ready and full of propulsive guitars and indelible melodies. It's a master class in compact songwriting and stage-ready guitar sonics drawing on the whole history of tuneful, muscular rock and roll.


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


The Forty Nineteens - Good Fortune (Kool Kat Musik 2017)      $14






The Forty Nineteens can be described as Garage Rock, Power Pop, with a Motor City power plant and good-time raucousness. Their sound was forged in LA's underground alternative scene and continues to grab you now.


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Psychotic Youth/Tommy and The Rockets - Scandanavian Flavor (Snap!! Records Spain 2021)  $16





“Scandanavian Flavor” features two of the finest bands from Northern Europe's power pop/punk/garage scene covering old favourites in their signature styles.  You have Sweden's legendary magnificent Psychotic Youth and Denmark's Tommy and the Rockets, who inhabit a magical world where the Ramones and Beach Boys rule the airwaves forever.  


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


The Freddie Steady 5 - Tex Pop (Original Recordings From 2007)  (Steadyboy Records 2021)  $16




An expanded reissue of The Freddie Steady 5 album that was originally released in 2007, a record that garnered great reviews world-wide and ended up on several "Best Releases of the Year" lists.  “Tex Pop” is a little bit Beatles, a little bit Sir Doug and a whole lot of Texas Pop, Freddie Steady style!    Five bonus tracks are now tacked on along with new cover art created by Flamin' Groovies leader Cyril Jordan.  


Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link


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