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Wednesday 31 May 2017

Little Steven - Soulfire

There's far more to Little Steven than Springsteen's sidekick, although my greatest image of him is that. I always thought of The River as Van Zandt's album, I couldn't tell you why, but seeing the E Street Band on that 1981 Tour was a revelation. Of course, he'll be known to others from The Sopranos and his production work, but there are two other reasons why he remains in my heart.

His political conscience is admiral and not just about Sun City, he's never afraid to speak out about justice and fairness.But more importantly for me, he is a great Town Cryer for the new and under appreciated artists. His love of music shines through with his promotion of new bands on his Underground Radio show and Wicked Cool Label. In between all of this, his E Street Band Commitments and work on Lilyhammer, it's time for a new solo album. It's been 18 years since the last one.

Songs he's been involved in as writer, producer or player are revisited and it's an absolute joy. Don't expect it to sound too much like the E Street Band or the Garage Rock / Power Pop he celebrates. Soulfire has more in common with Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes, a band intrinsically linked to him, but with even more horns and a real gospel soul tinge.

Five of the 12 tracks are Asbury Jukes related, including the magnificent, I Don't Want To Go Home. There isn't a mass of difference in these five songs, a lot more soul certainly, but you do realise what great songs they are. Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, in particular, sounds incredible, it even has a jingle jangle intro.

Whilst these songs are making me dig out those Southside Johnny albums for the first time in a while, it's away from those where the album gets really interesting. The Doo Wop of The City Weeps Tonight, the Blues Rock of Blues Is My Business. The Shaft vibe on Down And Out In New York City is ace and Gary U.S. Bond's Standing In The Line Of Fire has a Spaghetti Western Intro.

Saint Valentine's Days is turned into a sort of Tom Petty with Horns and the title track comes over all Huey Lewis. As an album, Soulfire stands up on it's own. Most of these songs will be new to people and this is a really coherent album. For those who do know some of Little Steven's history, they will be a reminder of how much history he has got and how great it is. He's criminally underrated as a songwriter and arranger.

More recently, I haven't been listening to this sort of album, it's been boys jangling their guitars. What a fool I've been. I'm off to raid my vinyl and in the meantime, this should certainly be a purchase for you to consider. It's a real feel good album, beautifully done and more than welcome here. I'm looking forward to his show with The Disciples Of Soul in Manchester on 18 June.

You can buy the album at Amazon and everywhere.

Saturday 27 May 2017

One Way Ticket - And Life Just Simply Moves Along

One Way Ticket are from Besancon in France and they have released a Power Pop album that puts current offerings from the supposed masters in the US, UK and Australia to shame. It;s 8 songs and 26 minutes of joy, a cracking listen.

The trio remind me of The Vapors and The Motors and that's the way to my heart. It's very much late 70's New Wave Pop bossed by the likes of The Records and it's simply great. It doesn't rest with UK Influences though, they even get near to my beloved Sparks on Finger Snap.

I hear nods to The Plimsouls, Paul Collins, The Knack and The Undertones. Much to our utter bemusement, Power Pop is not going to change the world, but if it could, One Way Ticket would be leading us out of The Trenches. It's a long while since I've heard a Power Pop album as good as this.

A driving rhythm section, killer riffs and songs that you just can't help sing along to. On the rare occasion that they slow things down, they even get that right, particularly on the closer, Beside You. And Life Simply Moves Along is one of the best things I've heard this year.

You can listen to and should buy the album here.

Life On Mars - The Resurrection Of Ants

Life On Mars is the collaboration between New York Singer Songwriter, Earl Kayoss and Fernando Perdomo. Aided by Durga McBroom and Ruti Celli, the band have fashioned up one of those great 70's Classic Rock albums.

Kayoss's voice pitches somewhere between Roger's Daltrey and Chapman and it's when The Ressurection Of Ants rocks that the album is at it's best and particularly suited to his voice. Perdomo's guitar is outstanding throughout, riffs all over the place, he certainly lets loose.

Fernando Perdomo has had an astonishing year and now he seems to be a go to producer and sidekick. His work on the Cait Brennan and Gretchen's Wheel albums are just two examples of how great he can be.

I'm Alright is a real rock out, constant tempo changes that compares favourably with a lot of the US Stadium Rockers of the late 70's. The Guitar solo on I Can Save Your Planet is a revelation and the female vocal on Technology reminds me of Maggie Reilly and has a wonderful Ruti Celli Cello addition.

Get Real takes you back to the Marquee in the late 60's, a real blues rock treat and Kayoss's voice sounds Peter Gabriel-ish on Either Way. The ballads don't always work, they get a bit clunky and may be more suited to Fernando Perdomo's voice as on Crying Time, which sounds so Alan Parsons Project.

The album is a little long at 64 minutes, but this is a minor and regular gripe of mine. The Ressurection Of Ants is a cracking listen though and Perdomo's guitar is up to 11 which is exactly how it should be. The album is well worth your money.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Monday 22 May 2017

The Garden Of Earthly Delights

Welcome to another Garden Of Earthly Delights, where we take four new, but very different albums, all equally excellent and tell you about them.

The Terminals - Antiseptic

New Zealand's The Terminals bring their particular brand of noise pop back into the public arena and how welcome it is. Although they are firmly linked with the Flying Nun scene from it's inception, they are very different to the jaunty pop established with the New Zealand scene. It's been ten years since Last Days Of The Sun and it's worth the wait.

For the uninitiated, imagine a cross between The Velvet Underground and Midnight Oil. Wonderfully inventive and very hypnotic. Early Eno like in it's keyboards, but Nicole Moffat's violin hammers home like a lead guitar.

You can buy the album here or here.

The Bopp - Power My Pop

The Bopp feature a revolving cast of musicians centred around Jessie Bordeaux. French Power Pop isn't a widely known phenomenon, but The Bopp certainly press all the right buttons reminding me of anything from the UK New Wave to Brit Pop. That takes in comparisons to The Knack, Rain Parade and C86.

Two things stand out. This is really melodic stuff and the organ runs are so Inspiral Carpets like. There's even ventures into Dr Feelgood lite and Glam Rock. Bordeaux's voice is a laid back swoon rather than a belt out and that makes Power My Pop even more interesting.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Post War Glamour Girls - Swan Songs

Leeds foursome, Post War Glamour Girls have threatened to break through for a while. This is studio album number three since 2014 and you really feel they are getting there. They are one of the few of the new crop of bands that you could see holding a large venue's attention.

All their essential elements are still there. Hints of Psych, Goth, Post Punk and plenty of crunching guitar. The only thing I felt they needed was a bit more of a nod to mainstream rock and that's certainly showing on Swan Songs. The example I've chosen is Guiding Light, a sort of The Mission meets the first album of The Killers. This lot are certainly destined for bigger things.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

The Singing Skies - Head In The Trees, Heart On The Ground

The Singing Skies is the project led by Kell Derrig-Hall. You'd expect the moody Country Folk to come from the Mid West, not the haven of Guitar Pop that is Sydney. Derrig-Hall treads right into the territory of Chris Isaak, apt perhaps with Twin Peaks back in vogue.

You'd expect this sort of acoustic folk to get a bit dull after a while, but the arrangements are so strong and the atmosphere created so gripping that the whole album is a fine listen. Head In The Trees, Heart In The Ground is not the sort of album that I'd normally listen to. I'm so glad that I did.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Sunday 21 May 2017

Jane's Party - Tunnel Visions

There's something really endearing about Jane's Party. It's all very reminiscent of the mid 70's and Liverpool Express and John Miles. There's a groove to the music and it's the chorus heavy songs mean you can imagine them being intro'd in on Supersonic.

This isn't a criticism, in fact quite the opposite. The Four piece from Toronto are really adept at what they do and so few doing it. The arrangements are absolutely spot on, wonderfully retro. Tunnel Visions is the band's third album and their reputation has grown via some great live shows and word of mouth.

Although the album is very much in easy listening territory, it's wonderfully so. When they do get up tempo on Cigarette Buzz they are a completely different band, poptastic at a pace. Tunnel Visions is a laid back chill out album. It reminds you of a time when life seemed much simpler and it's really enjoyable to listen to an album that has been constructed as such rather than singles led.

Think Gilbert O'Sullivan, Jigsaw and in particular Liverpool Express and you'll be close to the sound and that's a great comparison to have. The album is available on Bandcamp as a Name Your Price. What have you got to lose?

You can listen to and download the album here.

Fastball - Step Into Light

One of the more pleasing things this year thus far is the return of Fastball. The Austin Texas Trio are back with album number six after an eight year gap. Both Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga have both released excellent solo albums in the interim with My Favourite Year and These Ghosts Have Bones respectively, but it is fantastic to have the trio back with us.

Fastball are one of those classic examples of a band selling less albums as they got better. I suspect most in the UK will only remember them for The Way and the album that contained that mega single, their second album, All The Pain Money Can Buy. Well those who concentrate on great Pop will know that any one of their previous five albums is well worth the admission and Step Into Light stands up with anything that has gone before.

They've always come across as if they were a cross between Elvis Costello and Matthew Sweet and there's some of that here, particularly on Just Another Dream but there is so much variation here. All bases are covered, Lilian Gish is pure Psych Pop whilst the closer, Frenchy And The Punk is Vaudeville.

It's the melodic pop that they excel in though, Beatlesque on Behind The Sun, Jangly on Best Friend, New Wave Mod Pop on Love Comes In Waves, 60's Beat on Secret Agent Love. I Will Never Let You down reminds me of Del Amitri. Step Into Light is a stormer of an album, sing along songs that seem simple but repeated listens reveal far more complexity. Another excellent offering to add to their two decade plus canon. You should buy it.

You can buy the album as a download, CD or Vinyl everywhere.

Thursday 18 May 2017

California Hits Manchester

I rarely do previews of upcoming shows. It's not really what I usually get involved in, but I have to tell you about this. There's a number of reasons why I should, but I'll limit it to two. I've long moaned and groaned about how hard it is to see great Power Pop or Pop Rock in the UK. In the past, we've had great bands coming across from the States, Europe and as far afield as Australia, with the odd exception such as The Posies, that's much less so now.

So when you get an opportunity to see four on the same bill with the added bonus of two of the best UK offerings on your doorstep, we have to get out and support it. Six bands for a fiver, it's like I really do live in 1975.

Secondly, if ever a line up explained what I Don't Hear A Single is about, it would be this one and it's a rare chance for people to see these acts in the flesh. From my own side too, I never fail to be surprised at how IDHAS took off and how it has become known worldwide. I don't get out and about as much these days and so it's even a chance to talk to me about the new stuff that you think I should be covering.

I won't make this too long, so I'll try to briefly give you some idea of what you could witness. I can attest that one of the bands that get the most interest amongst us are The Cherry Bluestorms and they are especially delighted to play in Manchester. The review of their See No Evil single remains one of the most popular posts on here, unknown for a single. The UK influence is written all over their music, it's like a 60's Beat Pop version of The Byrds and of course you have The Dickies connection.

It's been eight years since Plasticsoul's magnificent Peacock Swagger. Well they are back with the newly released Therapy album. Steven Wilson hasn't lost anything in the gap. The album is a real rock out. It's melodic rock at it's finest and you'll see the review of it here tomorrow.

One of my favourite bands are The Armoires. Rex Broome and Christina Bulbenko's brand of sunny California Pop with a twang is an absolute joy to listen to. Bulbenko has the voice of an angel and I defy anyone not to be tapping their feet within seconds. Rex is also the brains behind Big Stir, a monthly Power Pop live showcase that is Big Stir. A Californian treat that receives rave reviews rightly.

It's wonderful to see Spygenius back in the live arena. The Canterbury four piece remind me so much of those Not Lame days. Imagine Robyn Hitchcock in a 60's Psych Pop band. Peter Watts describes himself as a magpie, but it's the way it's all put together. Wonderfully inventive and the nearest the UK has to the type of bands that we adore from the States.

Without hesitation, I'd say the band that grabbed me most at IPO was Huxley Rittman And The Rusty Hitmen. Very much the future of Power Pop, in line with Denmark's The Caper Clowns. I'd heard a couple of their EP's and liked them, but was not prepared for what an incendiary live band they are. Their set was over far too quickly and it was outstanding. They are currently recording their debut album, but these will be definitely a band that you will tell everyone in ten years time that you saw in a small venue.

Last, but very much not least, we have David Jaggs, leader of the North West's pride and joy, The Ragamuffins. I come across a lot of local bands, no one does what they do. There's a real lyrical depth in songs with organ and brass. I like to think of them as a modern day Dexy's, but there is far far more of them than this.

So this is not going to be a thing that I do to often, but I cannot miss the opportunity to go out and support these artists. What a night it is going to be.

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Odd Robot - A Late Night Panic

A Late Night Panic is an album that I've been really enjoying over the past couple of months. The Fullerton CA Trio have been compared to Green Day, I don't see that at all. This is classic Power Pop, comparable with the best of the Late 70's - Early 80's.

At times they could be Mod Pop, but I'd settle for the better end of the UK's New Wave Power Pop. The songs are wonderfully short, the riff count is heavy and there's a joy in the way that these mini anthems are arranged. 13 songs in 32 minutes and not a duff one amongst them.

The urgency reminds me of early Jam to be honest and songs like Summer's Out have a hint of the Not Lame days. Take With Two Pills could be an early Stiff Single. The Dues could be Secret Affair. Tired Of Walking is almost Graham Parker And The Rumour.

The album really caught me by surprise, it's one of those little gems that make this all worthwhile. A real say what you've got to say and F Off. All Killer No Filler. A Late Night Panic is a storming little album and at the crazy price of 6 dollars to download, you should head off for it now.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Old Future Crash - Outside Time

Being in the world that I am, there are three bands that PR people (and lazy journalists) use as comparisons, these are Jellyfish, XTC and ELO. I'm sure people in other genres must get comparisons to bands that they are long term fans of or are hip to like.

ELO wise, few usually are, probably the closest was a deliberate pastiche from Bleu and Mike Viola's L.E.O. There are a few others though. Well Olod Future Crash seem deliberately ELO, we are talking. This album could be in Rutles vs Beatles territory.

You hear an Intro and think, that's Steppin' Out, but this is so well done, the band are obviously fans. We are in Time - Secret Messages era onward. A title like I'm A Robot could only sound like it could be on Time. There's even a one minute Overture to start the album and a finale to close.

Old Future Crash are a three piece from Valencia and guests have expanded the sound. Pedro Lopez has done a fine job with the vocals. It's easy to sneer at how ELO it all is, to a tee in parts, This Is Heaven is virtually Turn To Stone, but it is all so wonderfully done.

I remember a well known musician telling me that everyone steals something musically and that he'd rather hear something copied done well than original rubbish. There's a point thhere and this even has rain clouds on it.

But all in all, you can't help but like it. it's great pop, let's call it ELO 3. People get the Lynne vocals down better, but the arrangements are pretty spot on. Outside Time caught me completely by surprise and I'm glad it did.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Brenyama - Euphoria Love

It's lovely to see Marty Scott's Jem Records around again. This time it's with even greater feeling. It's past was built on an uncanny ability to pick up winners for distribution, now it's a label proper and it's started off in fine form.

I had joint albums of the year last year with Nick Piunti and Somerdale. Piunti's Trust Your Instincts was on Jem and lo and behold, Somerdale are now on the roster. This was absolute coincidence, I'd never spoke to Marty, so his label choices give me a lot of hope. That's reinforced with the release of the Brenyama album.

The four piece from Highland Park New Jersey have fashioned up a real fun pop album, very much set in the 60's and focusing on the joint vocals of husband and wife Richard and Maki Brenner. It's variation is underpinned by those vocals, separate or together.

The Maki lead vocals on songs such as Leaving For NYC and Get In The Groove are very Girl Pop, you can imagine a cast of hundreds twirling umbrellas around a pool. A Groovy Summer Pop feel that works really well.

The Richard lead vocals are far more 60's Beat / Merseybeat in their feel with a healthy dash of Organ, although Dreaming In Blue has far more in common with late 70's New Wave. All this sugar works really well, particularly when the vocals collide.

It gets even more interesting when it experiments a bit and there are glimpses of further development on the Psych Pop of Waiting For Godzilla and the duet on After All is a real poptastic closer. It may be that the title track is the song that gets the airplay which is Power Pop of the highest quality, like a jaunty version of The Cars, all riff.

This is a fine offering and with what Jem has coming up in future months, it is definitely a label to watch. You can listen to five songs from the album here. You can buy the album everywhere including the likes of Amazon or from the band's store here.

The Dangtrippers - Days Between Stations (Expanded Edition)

The reissue of The Dangtrippers' 1989 debut album is a most welcome thing indeed. So a big thank you to the marvellous Zero Hour Records. Days Between Stations is one of the great lost Power Pop albums.

Formed around Iowa's Devin Hill and Doug Robertson, the only surprise on Days Between Stations is that it wasn't produced by Mitch Easter. Devin Hill left after this debut and went on to establish a Power Pop Reputation bar none with the much lauded Stars and Wayout Lane. Doug Robertson was to record a second Dangtrippers offering, a bit harder than this debut, but he was still around to help out on the Hill solo albums.

On it's release, the band were lumped in with REM and you can see that on the likes of  Talk About Love, but there is far more to them than that. This is top notch Jangle Pop with dashes of Psych and it can be compared to a much wider spectrum.

Away from the REM, Teenage Fanclub and IRS comparisons, there's a real UK feel to it, very post C86 Scottish Pop and bands like The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Milltown Brothers spring to mind. It certainly doesn't rest on it's laurels. There's even hints of Squeeze on Someone New.

If you like your Power Pop to Jangle and Twang but want a bit more than the norm, Days Between Stations is for you. If like me you've coveted the original release and are just overjoyed to get 9 Bonus Tracks, most of which would be impossible to find, then you;ll be delighted too.

Also a big shout out to George at Zero Hour for his long standing service to great Power Pop. The follow up album from The Dangtrippers has just been released and you will have a review on that in the near future.

You can buy the album here for the bargain price of 12 Australian Dollars and see the rest of George's releases that are ripe for purchasing.

Friday 12 May 2017

Corin Ashley - Broken Biscuits

The Pills were an incendiary live band, Mod Pop at it's very best. When Corin Ashley went solo, the results were far calmer as he stepped into territory that he'd always hinted at musically. His second solo  album, New Lion Terraces is Power Pop at it's very best. He managed to make intelligent complex pop dressed up as something dar more simple.

I reviewed that album elsewhere and at the time said it could be the best album of 2013. I've seen heard nothing that changes my mind. In 2015, he collaborated on Martin Carr's magnificent The Breaks album, but his main focus was recording album number 3. It was virtually ready to go, just needing mixing in early 2016.

Then in January last year, Corin suffered a stroke. It took out all of his speech and left him with no movement in his left hand. The next nine months were spent in therapy regaining both movement and speech successfully, so much so that he was able to return and finish the final track to complete Broken Biscuits.

Bearing in mind what Ashley went through, it's prescient that Broken Biscuits was the name of the project of the group of songs recorded before the event. This knocks very closely at my door. The Heart Attack that I suffered late last year led to a very determined physical recovery, but mentally I tracked back to things I was doing before that and unknowingly the mental signs were there. I was strangely putting my house in order which was unlike me and I had no indication of what was to happen.

Enough of all that though, because Broken Biscuits is as good as you'd expect and more. There's a real McCartney feel to the album like. Jellyfish is a good example of this, but there's a real fine pop thread throughout all of these songs.

Little Crumbles confirms this McCartney theory, the opener throws so much into one song that you wonder if there's anything left for the rest of the offering. Thankfully there is and Edison's Medicine adds a touch of music hall that could be Andy Partridge in one of his great arranging moments.

Magpie Over Citadel sounds so Andy Fairweather Low, Inappropriate Fashion could be a Graham Parker song, whilst Junior Partner is reminiscent of Steven Bishop. Ashley's vocal on the acoustic stomp of King Hollow is superb, very Mike Viola like. Powder Your Face is superbly arranged in a Peter Skellern style, all it misses is a Brass Band.

The Stand Out song though is Wind Up Boy. I hear so many supposed XTC comparisons.most of them nothing like the band. On this, Ashley not only fashions up a comparison, he even sounds like Andy Partridge. It also has the bonus of featuring Tanya Donelly on the chorus and with a middle section of her own. The song is an absolute gem.

So what you have is 44 minutes of beautifully constructed pop, made in circumstances that are far from ideal, but apart from the theme you wouldn't know that at all. This is exceptional! You can buy the album everywhere. Some examples are CD Baby for download here and Kool Kat for the CD with a Special Bonus Disc here.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Cait Brennan - Third

The Omnivore label continues it's quest to release the vital new and the under appreciated old and in the former category, no one deserves greater recognition than Cait Brennan. Hot on the heels of last year's full length debut, Debutante comes Third and it doesn't end there because the follow up to this is already in progress.

There is of course the back story to this and her battle with Parkinsons Disease and you can understand the rush of new material, but it's the creativity and quality of this volume is amazing. Third is an amazing album, not only showing the depth of her talent, but also revealing the lyrical brilliance in her songwriting.

I've been a long time fan of Fernando Perdomo since his Dreaming In Stereo days and his reputation grows and grows away from his sterling solo stuff. He's fast becoming a collaborator of choice and the team up with Cait Brennan seems to be a match made in heaven. Although the album will get pointed at as Power Pop, particularly with the recording being at Ardent Studios, this is much more than that.

This is an album steeped in Classic Rock and the power of Brennan's voice shines through. There is lots to admire in Third's slower moments such as the Power Ballad, Goodbye Missamerica and the Bacharach like arrangement of At The End Of The World, it's when she rocks that it works best.

Whilst people will be automatically be drawn to the poppy Benedict Cumberbatch, it's songs like the stunning opener, Bad At Apologies, that grip you most. The lyrics shine through on that as they do on He Knows Too Much, adding "I Think We'll Have To Kill Him" to the line. Similarly the "What Are You Starin' At? Baby,What's Your Problem, Don't Make Me Come Down And Solve Them" on A Hard Man To Live, a song delivered at breakneck speed.

The combination of Brennan and Perdomo is wonderful, one writes and delivers superb songs, the other knows how to put the meat on the bones and there is some great guitar on the album as well as formidable arrangements. Finally it's wonderful to hear Van Duren playing guitar on Shake Away, one of the most underrated Power Poppers around. Third is probably the best album that you'll hear all year, it's awesome.

People In The States listen to the whole album via You Tube here. 30 second samples of all the songs are on Amazon here. You can buy the album everywhere and you should. In these days of manufactured one song mediocrity, albums like this should be cherished.

Doug Tuttle - Peace Potato

After listening to plenty of noise lately, it's nice to be back in the more mellow territory of Doug Tuttle. His third album is beautifully played, it's great melodic pop with plenty of jangle but firmly in the Psych Pop land of The Orgone Box and such.

That Byrds like Jangle bookends the album with Bait The Sun and You Have Begun and there are hints of George Harrison solo stuff. However in between it's that laid back Psych Pop that shines through. We aren't talking backward guitars and unexpected keyboards, we are talking about how harmonic it all is.

Tuttle is a fine guitarist, both as a straight ahead player and with effects and that talent shines. It makes it more than a lot of what else is around. I hear so many samey or fake Psych Pop that it's noticeable when you hear something done properly and Peace Potato does that.

The album is wonderfully quaint, you can hear the tape being turned off at times and it's as though so many ideas are encompassed that it can give the impression of being a bit under cooked, the songs sometimes feel slightly unfinished, but that's it's charm.

15 songs in 33 minutes might cement that thought, but this is such a great listen that it really doesn't matter. I'd much rather have that than the opposite with three minute ideas extended to six of boredom. The gentleness is really soothing.

By far the stand out is the magnificent Only In A Dream, but there is something for everyone. All You See aches splendidly, Can It Be is very Gerry Rafferty and there are plenty of hints of West Coast Pop.  All in all, Peace Potato is a most welcome offering. Tune In and Chill Out.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

A Big Stir Is Nearing

I still remain gobsmacked at how I Don't Hear A Single took off. I'm sure it's because of the type of music it covers not getting it's fair share of attention. It also shows people that there is a market for great Guitar Pop if you don't rely on the music press and radio to tell you about it.

During the Blog's short life, I have watched with admiration at what Rex Broome and The Big Stir Gang have been doing. At the start of the year, I wrote an article praising what Big Stir does and asking why we can't do something similar in the UK. You can read that article here.

In the meantime, Big Stir has grown considerably. It's not only a monthly showcase featuring the best in Sunshine Pop, it's also a record label and travelling extravaganza. Plasticsoul's long awaited new album is on the Big Stir label and you'll read all about how great and welcome that is later in the week.

Plasticsoul are also one of the bands on Big Stir's Travelling International Roadshow which hits the UK this month. We bemoan the lack of live offerings over here and what a line up there is. Many of these bands have been featured on here and all are poptastic. These are fantastic events and are countrywide.

Think of the old fashioned Theatre line ups of the 60's when you could see numerous top bands on the same night. Tales are still told of seeing The Beatles at New Brighton Tower Ballroom on the same bill as Gerry And The Pacemakers, Rory Storm and The Merseybeats. Here we have the 2017 updated version.

We know everyone will be in Liverpool for IPO, but so many grumble that this doesn't happen in Yourtown, well this is your chance to show that these things are worth doing. Turn out, make it a success and more worldwide bands will want to come over. Every night of the tour features great bands that are all must see.

Also look out for a  special announcement very soon of an event on my home patch that will feature some special guests and is not to be missed. You can find full details of the 13 date UK and Ireland Tour here.

I Hear More Than A Single

I have here that concentrates on the new in primarily Power Pop, Psych Pop and Pop Rock and this place concentrates on the new and unappreciated. I also write externally, mainly on reissues and lost albums from the same genres.

However I listen to a lot of current releases that don't have a place to go. You wouldn't say see the new Ray Davies here or Aimee Mann etc. So this is a shout out (see how down wiv da kidz I am?) if anyone wants to publish these articles from time to time. It's a quest to find an outlet.

It may be that you are a fledgling website or something in print that wants additional stuff. You may be anywhere in the world. This isn't a post to drum up business in any way, it's an offer of help and an acknowledgement that these sort of releases don't fit on I Don't Hear A Single.

IDHAS works on a policy of only reviewing what I like. If I don't like it, it doesn't get reviewed. All reviews are positive because of this policy. For other stuff, it may be that what I write fits in with what you are trying to do, positive or negative. However what I have never done is gush about something that I dislike.

So if you want the new Kasabian album reviewing, I'd suggest that I'm not the best person to write something positive about it. I can however tell you what I believe is wrong.

If this is of interest to you please get in touch, I'm not pushing this further, if there's no interest, that's cool too.

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Ulysses - Law And Order

Any of Ulysses's three albums are essential listening. Seeing as we concentrate on the new, Law And Order could be their best ever and it knocks the socks off most of what's around. I'm told that I live in 1975's Pop And Rock excitement. Well if I do this is an ideal example wise. In a field dominated by the U S of A, it's always great to celebrate the better UK bands and Ulysses are certainly one of those.

This year promises to be the best IPO Liverpool ever. You can find details of the line up here. Click on the band names to find more details. You'll be reading more about the Big Stir bands over coming days, but it's also great to see the UK bands in the line up, many of which you'll have seen here and others that you will read more on in the coming months and weeks.

Ulysses are one of the bands appearing and I urge you to catch them. The Bath foursome's brand of Pop Rock gets a bit more rocky than a lot around. I like to think of them as a UK version of Somerdale and lest we forget they came up with one of my two albums of the year last year. Law And Order wears it's influences on it's sleeve without ever sounding derivative ir becoming a pastiche and these boys can play.

There's lots of references that can be made, the album as a whole though keeps dragging me back to Glam Rock. The Glam era is rightly lauded for making music fun and it was largely singles led. Bands struggled to make  albums as strong as the singles, there was a lot of filler and that probably explains why few albums of that era re lauded now.

Ulysses don't have this problem, this is an album and over half of it could be released as singles. The quality never lets up. In fact, my normal practice of embedding three tracks to give you a flavour of the album has been sorely tested. I couldn't narrow it down, so much so that I've gone for four examples.

Smiling reminds me of The Pushbike song, Lady could be Liverpool Express or Jigsaw. Crazy Horses Ride The Snake could be a lost Badfinger tune. Come On This City's Gone is so Thin Lizzy, Dirty Weekend, The Glitter Band and Typical Scorpio is all late 60's Psych Pop. How Long could be sung by Brian Connolly.

There are two versions of Yellow Sunshine, all they share is the same title, both are very different. The second is a cracking slab of 60's Psych, but the first is an absolute gem. It's a real Monkees 60's Pop romp, you'll soon be singing along. A special mention should also be given to the duet on Song That Has To Be Sung. Purson's Rosalie Cunningham duets on what is pure Buckingham Nicks.

I urge to listen to the whole album, you will be as enchanted as I am. Very few albums are such fun, you'll end up air guitaring the solos and singing the choruses. Law And Order is one of those special albums. You feel far better after listening to it and isn't that what music is supposed to be? If you don't appreciate that, you should just enjoy your Ed Sheerhan album and marvel at how banal it all is. This is how music is supposed to be heard.

You can listen to and buy the album here. I'd also urge you to catch the band live and you can find their future dates on their website here.

Thursday 4 May 2017

Gentle Brent - Just Dandy

I've always been a bit confused about Brent Randall. You always sensed that there was something poptastic about the Canadian but that got a bit lost in the meandering range of styles. Did he want to be Rufus Wainwright, John Howard or Paul McCartney? His range of styles meant that you thought everything was a pastiche.

Don't get me wrong, everything he gets involved shows great individualism and is largely great, but you just are never sure what's gonna be next. Thankfully, Gentle Brent settles all of that.  Just Dandy is classic Power Pop that wears it's influences and heart on it's sleeve.

From the Big Star influenced Tea And Butter Tarts to the Freddie And The Dreamers like Never Wanna Make You Cry, this is great 60's pop. The Lonely One reminds me of Cockney Rebel, whilst At The Bazaar is a moody lullaby.

Lollipop Girl could be The Feeling or Ben Folds. The whole album is great jangly power pop, very 60's influenced, Herman's Hermits springs to mind  and that's no bad thing. This is a welcome addition to Seattle's Jigsaw Records label roster that seems to get stronger and stronger.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

The Lunar Laugh - Mama's Boy

If anyone ever wants to get on the Valentine Turntable, the easiest way is to offer up an album that sounds like it's Summer 1975. Oklahoma Trio. The Lunar Laugh, have done just that and Mama's Boy is a splendid affair.

It's a mixture of what was best in both the UK and US post Glam pre New Wave. The Acoustic songs remind you of singalongs on the porch, the Electric songs are much more UK. Everyone of these wonderfully crafted songs are reason to sing out loud.

This is excellent Pop Rock, think Andrew Gold, Mike Nesmith, Bread, Jigsaw, Pilot and John Miles with hints of Simon And Garfunkel, 10CC and ELO. Then unexpectedly you'll get a sax solo or a Country Rock breakout.

You can imagine the songs accompanying 70's American Sitcoms on being played on Mike Mansfield's Supersonic. The whole album is harmony and melody led, it reminds me a lot of a slightly more mellow version of The Connells.

The album is so well constructed and you sense there's far more to come from the band, perhaps a bit more of the rockier stuff. Certainly when the guitar solos break out, their are big hints of that. Mama's Boy will easily appeal to the Power Pop brigade, but also people who like Glen Campbell.

There's a definite summer delight to the album and this feel good factor makes it hard to select individual songs. Hopefully the three examples that I've embedded in this post, give you some indication of the overall joy of this highly enjoyable affair.

You can listen to and buy the album here.  The album lends itself particularly to Vinyl and You Are The Cosmos have a generously priced double offering of CD and Vinyl with the addition of an extra track on both. You can buy that here.

Monday 1 May 2017

Daisy House - Crossroads

Although I've become more noted for Power Pop over the past few years, it was never meant to be that way. I'd always been known for Glam and New Wave but my collection has always been diverse and grows much to the bewilderment of the Queen Of Burtonwood. I'm as at home with Can, King Crimson, Hank Williams, Mike Oldfield and Jean Michel Jarre as I am with sun three minute symphonies about love lost and found and masses against the classes.

I only mention the above because this Power Pop notoriety means that at times I lose sight of what else is around and there is no greater example of this than Daisy House. Crossroads is album number four and I'm only pissed off because I missed the first three completely. Since my ears have been perked, I've found that the band are friends of the Big Stir crowd which is more familiar territory to me.

Longbeach's Daisy House are a Father and Daughter duo and their influences are far and wide and it shows. Multi instrumentalist Doug is the writer and muse, but daughter Tatiana's voice is something very splendid indeed. The two voices make this album so different, whether it is separate or together. Doug's voice lends itself to latter day Beatlesque Pop. almost Gerry Rafferty. Tatiana however is a sort of Annie Haslam joy. When the mix, sparks fly.

Crossroads is also not just about those voices, the arrangements are great, well thought out and coming from unusual directions. Beloved is a cross between the Psych flavours of late 60's US and Fairport Convention. Leaving The Star Girl is all Byrds Jangle, it could be Teenage Fanclub. The Title Track, Crossroads, has Tatiana and THAT voice in Aimee Mann mode.

Remembering The Arc is very Donovan and more like I imagined the album to be. Albion is very Sandy Denny, Grand Canyon is early solo Lennon. The arrangement on Nocturne is exceptional, the two minutes featuring an operatic voice in the background. The Girl Who Holds My Hand is a gem, probably my favourite track. It's very Elliott Smith, but the harmonies between father and daughter are ace.

Crossroads is a splendid album due to all that I note. The mix of genres, the mix of voices and the quality of the songwriting and arrangements. This is the sort of album that doesn't get made any more and the odd time that one is, it usually suffers from a lack of production or front loading. I can't find a flaw, I love it and urge you to give it a go.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

The Travoltas - Until We Hit The Shore

The sun is shining and so it seems only fit to celebrate the return of The Travoltas and their wonderful brand of Summer Pop. The Dutch Power Poppers split in 2006 and since the reunion EP of 2014, I've waited for the promised full length return.

Here is the resulting album and it's everything that you'd want it to be. The band were labelled as Pop Punk before it became fashionable and as the likes of Green Day made that genre something different, they got bracketed in with the surf pop gang. I suppose having a surfer on the cover emphasises that tag, but Until We Hit The Shore is far far more than that.

Yes, there are the Beach Boys comparisons with the harmonies, but it's more in the mould of The Legal Matters and The Explorers Club. You could easily compare them to rocked up versions of both those bands and that's a great compliment.

However, the likes of Sugar Thing are pure Glitter Band and even the harmonic pop of Dying To Do That With You end rocking up with a Power Pop Bridge Lead Guitar. Better Days has more akin to Brit Beat New Wave and the superb opener, Ain't That Enough ends with a great Psych Pop solo.

It wouldn't be a Travoltas album without an epic final track and this time it's This Can't Be Goodbye and it's a real anthem. There's everything here that any long established fan will love, no matter how suspicious people are of reunions, the past is acknowledged.

The real treat is that this will appeal far more to a newer audience. It's very popped up, those harmonies are more sparsely used but just as effective, the solos are crisp and the choruses are rampant. I've been so disappointed by so many returns that you end up wishing that they'd left well alone, not The Travoltas, this album is fine thing indeed. It's exceptional.

You can listen to and buy the album here.