Sunday, 25 June 2017
You know that feeling when you are listen to an album and feel really smug. That winning 25 quid on the Lottery feeling when it doesn't make you rich, but you want to tell every one. Well my good fortune is completely chancing on the debut album from The Sunset Spirit. They tick a lot of my boxes.
I've been talking a lot about the tradition of great Pop from Scotland recently, well The Sunset Spirit are from Fife. I've also been bemoaning the lack of great Indie and Power Pop coming out of the UK, well From The Top is certainly an exception.
Finally, I have this urge every Summer to find albums that make you appreciate the season. I couldn't tell you why, it's just the custom. From The Top is one of the best Summer Pop albums I've herd in ages. It's a real sit in the garden album.
12 songs in 44 minutes and you get sad when it ends. There's plenty of comparisons here, but all roads lead to Pop. Ain't No Game and Just Jenny are Country tinged but in a way that Squeeze do Country, sort of Labelled With Love.
My Own Way has a 60's beat backdrop, but morphs into great late 60's California Pop. No Time Today and Youth Of Today remind me of the Scouse Pop of The La's and Cast if they had a keyboard player. You'd expect there to be a TFC comparison, especially with the Scottish connection and you have it with Can't See The Clouds For The Sun.
Stand Tall is all Bluetones or even The Monkees, but the stand out song is To Have It All and having not thought at all about next Friday's Radio show, I now have my opening song. From The Top is probably the best Pure Pop album that I've heard this year. Double Points because it's come so early in The Sunset Spirit's career. Excepting the lyrical depth of Chris Difford, this lot could become the new Squeeze.
You may be able to buy this elsewhere, but Amazon have it available for download at just over 6 dabs here. An absolute bargain!!
Saturday, 24 June 2017
Just before IDHAS appeared on the net, Sugarbush released this gem. Orgone Box's debut album remains in my Top 10 albums ever. A fantastic mix of Psych and Lennon Pop that enables you to hear something you hadn't noticed, every time you listen to it.
So few have come near to the excellence of that self titled joy, despite Psych Pop getting more and more acknowledged, nothing has the charm and sheer melody of it. Cotton Mather come closest. So it's fantastic to have this collection available.
The Lorne Park Tapes were Four Track Recordings fashioned in Bournemouth between 1992 and 1995 before the release of The Orgone Box. Whilst obviously a bit lo fi, these are wonderfully constructed songs.
The jingle and jangle and latter day Beatlesque harmonies are all present. Any of these songs would have been at home on that debut. Hard For Me is pure Power Pop, Star is all mood, In The Right Hands is Merseybeat.
All 11 songs are a pleasure to listen to, a bit more straight ahead pop than what followed. Last Ride On The Jets is the stunner, another of those Psych gems, he writes so easily. We keep hearing of new Rick Corcoran Recordings, to no avail so far, here's hoping soon.
This is yet another fine release on the magnificent Sugarbush label. Markus Holler, the SB Head Honcho, spent time in the band and was usually around the scene. It may be this connection that has got these songs released. We should just be thankful that they are in the Public Domain.
You can buy the album here.
After all this Radio Excitement, it's nice to get back to the usual this weekend. Although, the Blog is called I Don't Hear A Single, Singles are usually grouped together for review, but I have to make an exception for the new single from The Ragamuffins.
It's no coincidence that the first IDHAS Broadcast was led off by this. I consider The Ragamuffins to be the greatest thing to come out of the North West of England for a long time. David Jaggs is a great Pop writer. The band have so many different influences that it is easy to forget this.
Organ and Brass can take the band in many directions, at times a modern day Dexys. However, on the recent Big Stir Manchester show, Jaggs was not out of place amongst the California Pop. When the band strip down to pure Indie Pop, they excel.
The next album is well underway. Cause Of Causes is threatening to be the saviour of the genre and as the lead single, Oxygen tells you all you need to know. But trust me, when the album emerges it will encompass so many directions.
Oxygen is available as Name Your Price download here. I bemoan how the UK has forgotten how to make and celebrate Great Pop, The Ragamuffins are one of the exceptions to this and we should cherish and encourage them. Oxygen is a fantastic affair.
Friday, 23 June 2017
The first I Don't Hear A Single Broadcast has just finished. Repeated Tomorrow. All feedback welcome here or on the Blog Post. It is a work in progress and I'm happy to add spoken intros with a bit about the artist, but it would cut down the number of songs,
Plenty of new reviews to come over the weekend.
Here's this week's playlist.
01 The Ragamuffins - Oxygen
02 Boo Hewerdine - Satellite Town
03 Plasticsoul - My Heavy Soul
04 Caper Clowns - Pockets
05 Ulysses - Dirty Weekend
06 Ian McNabb - How She Moves.
07 Screamfeeder - Sonic Souvenirs
08 Octopus - Your Smile
09 Orgone Box - In The Right Hands
10 Ronnie D'Addario - Take In A Show
11 The Afternoons - Black Hearted Poster Boy
12 One Way Ticket - All Change
13 The Brigadier - Feels Like Something
14 The Smallest Creature - Vanity Vote
15 Brad Byrd - Highest Mountain
16 Papa Satch - Too Late Tomorrow
17 Bread & Butter - Stole This
Thursday, 22 June 2017
As previously mentioned on Facebook, I Don't Hear A Single goes into the 20th Century with a weekly show on KOR Radio. It'll be broadcast at 8pm UK Time on Fridays and repeated on Saturdays at the same time here. It's on something called the internet, I'm not convinced that will ever catch on, I'd have to get rid of my pigeons if it does.
It's all killer, no filler, see I'm getting the lingo already, poptastic mate. No chat, just an intro and outro from me. I've just completed the first show and you have 17 songs that are all relevant to what happens here.
I won't spoil the surprise of what's gonna be on there, but I will post a playlist with details on each artist after tomorrow night's show. The songs are from albums that have been popular on here recently, some that are to come and a couple of archive tracks.
The plan was always to have Audio content to supplement IDHAS, initially on Soundcloud. However, the way the Blog unexpectedly took off and time constraints delayed this. The I Don't Hear A Single show is one of three planned.
We always wanted to do a talking podcast that involved the whole musicsphere, not just the new and underappreciated and Interviews with artists and a special guest each week to join in the talking rubbish thing. That will be monthly and the first will be mid July to coincide with the first anniversary of I Don't Hear A Single.
There is also a 2 hour weekly radio show planned with song intros etc. That again will cover Power Pop and Pop Rock, but will be archive stuff, so expect a lot of Not Lame and IRS etc on the likes of that.
There's also a special currently in production on Scott Miller that will be broadcast before the year end. The concentration remains on the I Don't Hear A Single Blog. There hasn't suddenly been an explosion of activity, these things have been planned for a while. Now just seems the time to roll them out slowly but surely.
Finally there will be a cosmetic upgrade of I Don't Hear A Single in the next week. It's Summer, so we should stop staring at Black.
Monday, 19 June 2017
I like to think that I have a reasonable knowledge of J-Pop and I've seen Baby Shakes described as an American version of Shonen Knife. I don't see (or hear) that at all. If you want to go down that track, the similarities are far more like Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her. Certainly, Baby Shakes have a much bigger sound than a three piece, they rock far more and Live, they wipe the floor with most.
There is that Ramones vibe, but there's also a great affinity with Rock And Roll. Imagine perhaps a light metal version of The Go-Go's. There's a real Garage Punk feel to what they do. One thing is sure they just don't let up.
The riffs are certainly there, particularly on Come On, they are almost in Sweet B Side Territory on Do What You Want. Won't See Me verges on Mod Pop, Turn It Up comes up for air on the closer, Fade Away which borders on Bangles Pop.
I love Baby Shakes. I know what I'm gonna get and it's exactly what i want. Crap day at work, put the stereo on, play this and the evening looks full of opportunities. Not many do what they do better. New York's Finest. Highly Recommended!
You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also buy it on cassette from Burger Records site here.
Philadelphia's Cayetana bring their second album to town and it's as great as the debut, Nervous Like Me. Don't expect sweet sugar coated Girl Pop because the trio rock. There's a real drive to the album, with some particularly ace Bass playing from Allegra Anka.
They remind me a lot of The Muffs, not that I'm saying Ronnie should get a dress. Am I Dead Yet sounds like a Factory Records Production but then gets all grunge. The driving Bass on Mesa is so Peter Hook.
Cayetana have been lumped in with the Pop Punk brigade and you know how the label irritates me. The only song anywhere near that perceived genre is Easy To Love. The admirable thing about this trio is that they can slow it all down well on the like of Too Old For This, Dust and Side Sleepers,.
Phonics Failed Like Me comes across a bit Avril Lavigne and New Kind Of Normal sounds much more like it when it strays into Garage Rock and perhaps they should do that more. However this is a fine album, all attitude and that Bass Playing is fab.
You can buy and listen to the album here.
Sunday, 18 June 2017
Oh how I love lost albums and generally they fit in to the Pop Rock department. Pedro Vizcaino's You Are The Cosmos label is on a par with Sugarbush Records for bringing great music to the masses, usually of course via vinyl.
You Are The Cosmos branch out into CD as well with the Ronnie D'Addario release. As well as a Vinyl Best Of with 12 songs, there's this wonderful 3 CD set of his first three albums with 7 Bonus Tracks. The surname should be familiar, he's the dad of the Lemon Twigs brothers.
The New York youngster discovered the guitar on seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show and a career in music beckoned. He's also considered himself a songwriter first and foremost and the final album amongst this collection was a set of songs, basically recorded to provide songs for other artists.
1976's Take In A Show is the album that is most in my Pop Rock territory. Definitely in the mould of Jigsaw, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Emitt Rhodes and John Howard. Beautifully arranged and sung. The stand out song is the Beach Boys like Time Meant Money Spent.
1981's Falling In Love is similarly great, the vocals are even stronger and although the comparisons remain the same, there's the added similarities to some of the better pop of UK's New Wave. The Piano led title track is a gem, but the stand out is the jaunty harmony led, Just Passing Through.
1983's Good For You still highlights his splendid voice, but the songs aren't as strong. It's trying to do a bit too much and this doesn't always work. The performances are stronger than the material. A lot of Pop Rock of the time sounded like this, it seemed a bit lost in what was all around it.
This is a fantastic 3 disc set. All credit to You Are The Cosmos for making it available. At 19 Euros for the 3 disc set, it's an absolute bargain. You can buy this excellent collection here.
Most who know me know that I like a bit of Prog, well quite a bit of the stuff. I'm not talking Billy Sherwood type Prog, which to me is just three minute songs with lots of over produced solos. I mean well constructed songs with tempo changes that work if they are 3 or 10 minutes long. You know when it's bad Prog because you lose interest half way through a song.
Totnes's Magic Bus's third album is a captivating affair. They've been lumped in with the Canterbury scene and at times, Caravan. I can see the comparison, but they are not as po faced and certainly more melodic than Caravan.
The arrangements do lend themselves to tempo and time changes, but these are never obvious and each passage swiftly moves into the next. I don't see Canterbury either, there is the odd hint of Kevin Ayers, but Magic Bus are like a more melodic Camel. They aren't as commercial as say, Big Big Train, but they aren't as tedious as Henry's Cow can be.
There are hints of early Rush if they had an Organ at times, particularly Caress Of Steel era. The approaching 9 minutes of the opener, Mystical Mountain, is at long as any song gets and that doesn't feel as long as that.
Trail To Canaa sounds very Gabriel Genesis and the flute does make you think of Jethro Tull without the nonny no. But Distant Future is really melodic with some wonderful Guitar. Yantra Tunnels is a great closer, a splendid thing, when everything seems to come together around a great riff. There's a real Hippie feel to the album and Magic Bus could yet bring Prog to the masses.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Santa Barbara's The Tearaways have been around for a good while and have been to Liverpool many times. Although they are very much lovers all things Merseybeat, they've been unfairly lumped in with Power Pop from that era. Here they prove how inaccurate that comparison is, the new album is very much in the Pop Rock mould of great Seventies and Early Eighties vintage.
There's been some real thought put into the songs, providing variance and wit. There's a lot here and it doesn't always work, but largely it succeeds because of the energy and joy that the whole album transmits.
This isn't a two bit affair either. Any band with Clem Burke on drums has to be taken seriously and Earle Mankey is involved in the Production. These guys are serious and what they've produced is a mixture of good time sounds with real melody and they've taken chances. All in all, admirable and refreshing.
If I Had It is the sort of call and response song that The Proclaimers do so well, My Bad has a real ache to a sort of Bo Diddley beat before expanded into some great harmonies. That's Rock is like a harmonic update of the Only Fools And Horses theme.
Much Too Old To Feel This Young has a country feel, but in Labelled With Love Squeeze mode. Good Luck Lovin' is a shuffle, I'm Just Trying To Be Nice sounds really Badfinger. Name That Tune is the nearest to Merseybeat that you are gonna find here, but it's more like The Searchers when they became part of the late 70's UK New Wave.
One of the things I'd heard in the past from The Tearaways was an inspired cover of The Ramones' Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio. It was done in a jaunty Power Pop way with Brass and worked beautifully. This sums up what the band are about really and this offering is a really good listen.
The whole album is a fun packed thing and when I bemoan the likes of Coldplay and their miserable sound it's because of albums like this. Let it show that you are enjoying it and the listeners will too. This ticks all the boxes. The only thing that I'm not sure about is the title, something different, but a bit of a mouthful.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Saturday, 17 June 2017
It seems awfully quiet here since the Big Stir lot have returned to their shores. Even though we seem to be enjoying Californian weather at the moment, the place has a feel of After The Lord Mayor's Show. So it seems like as good a time as any to reflect on the magnificent new Plasticsoul album, released on the fledgling Big Stir Records label.
It's been eight years since Peacock Swagger, a long wait, but the good news is that Steven Wilson has moved things on apace. He's still there on the heavier side of Power Pop, but Therapy is even more focused, sort of putting the Rock into Pop Rock.
This is a real rock out, wonderfully melodic, but with balls. Although the opener. My Heavy Soul, doesn't prepare you for the guitar fest that is to follow, it's a momentum building brood, beautifully arranged and not what you'd expect to open such a rollicking listen.
The title track starts as though it's The Who and then gets all Cheap Trick. All Died Pretty is Tom Petty with a snarl, In Her Raincoat is all jangle. The Girl Of Many Tribes is a Bossa Nova jaunt, Come Down From Your Raincloud is all 70's Glam.
Too many Blogs and Magazines still live in 1994. They still think Brit Pop is relevant and think it was all about Blur, Oasis, Pulp and Suede, forgetting how much dross there was and that the more interesting part of it was the stuff in between. The best thing that came out of Brit Pop was after it had ended, very much like New Wave after Punk. The likes of The Supernaturals and Straw. If it was those times now, Plasticsoul would be in that post Brit Pop pack.
The King Of Hash is late Lennon Beatle Pop, Monkey On A Stick leans towards late 60's Garage and Wilson discovers the Maharishi on the trippy, Babylon. Keeping A Light On is pure Alex Chilton, whilst Biff Bang Pow ends proceedings with the Power Pop I love and know. In fact I think I'll adopt the title as a motto. A fantastic end to a fantastic album.
Therapy is a storming affair. It shows the many shades of Steven Wilson's Plasticsoul. There's so many layers. This is a really cohesive album and here's hoping it's far less than eight years until the next one.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
One of the great mysteries of my musical sphere is why Dropkick don't get more attention. Their brand of Jayhawks go Power Pop is always an excellent listen, yet album after album seems to go unappreciated by the great unwashed.
The Scots seem to have a larger following in the likes of Spain than what you would think is the more fertile ground of the UK and America. They are very much in the Teenage Fanclub and Daniel Wylie field, but despite every album being highly listenable, name checks are few. Last year's Balance The Light was a cracking offering.
There is a new Dropkick album nearing completion, but in the meantime Andrew Taylor steps out into the solo spotlight gathering songs that haven't made Dropkick albums over the past 15 years. He plays everything and it's a cracking listen.
From The Outside jingles and jangles to great effect, in fact it reminds me a lot of Grand Prix era Teenage Fanclub. I think followers get used to my criticism of front loaded albums. This is an album that gets better and better as it progresses, rocking a bit more track by track, but gently of course. The last three songs are probably the strongest on the album.
I Saw You has a great TFC jangle, In Their Shoes sounds like something off Tomorrow The Green Grass. Someone moves along at a swift pace, stressing the melody of these songs. Stories is wonderfully brooding and features some lovely mandolin, an instrument not used enough on songs.
It's those last three songs that make the album though. It's at it's best when the songs are faster. Couldn't You Call? is a bit Matthew Sweet, Standing Still is a real Windows Up, Long Drive joy and Can't Clear My Head ends in almost Eagles mode. I've decided that Andrew Taylor can join my North Of The Border Supergroup with Daniel Wylie and Norman Blake.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
I Don't Hear A Single is about the new and under appreciated. I don't think Cheap Trick fit into either category, but there has been a bit of a clamour to put my thoughts out about the new album and so this is the only online place that they'll appear.
Facebook threads have shown the divide about the recent Cheap Trick output. I am a massive Cheap Trick fan, I've bought everything and continue to. I feel a great loyalty to the band and I'm a completist. I don't tend to post in fan forums these days because there is so much sycophancy. You are not allowed to criticise a band or disagree with any keyboard warrior.
I much prefer fans who love a band but are honest if they don't like something. I'm not saying that my opinion carries any more weight than any other fan, but it is my opinion and I feel qualified to make that opinion with what I've spent on the band over 40 years. This comes from someone who hates Lap Of Luxury, but loves Busted which is effectively Lap Of Luxury II.
I've now given We're All Alright! half a dozen listens and to these ears, it's their best album since the 1997 self titled album. Every album since then has contained a few killer songs but after a few listens been exceedingly ordinary. These albums have also been very front loaded, this one isn't, the band take more chances on the second half of the album and it's great.
There's a common outside conception that all you need are the first four Cheap Trick albums, this is blatantly untrue, but it has been a case of some great songs but few great albums. This feels like a great album. It may not be up there with those early albums and I'd not complain about that, it's fantastic that the band are still around.
The greatest complement that I can give the album is that if you were someone that had never heard a Cheap Trick album, you'd be hooked. Rick Nielsen has fashioned up his best playing for ages, he's like a man possessed and you get the feeling that the band had a whale of a time recording the album. The production is big, particularly on the first half of the album when it is very FM Rock.
The openers, You Got It Going On and Long Time Coming will appeal to the FM Stations but are the weakest part of the the offering. They aren't bad, just ordinary. It's after this that the album gets far more interesting. There's the raw energy of those early albums on Nowhere and Radio Lover. But it's the pop sensibilities that win out on what would be the old Side 2 that win out.
We're All Alright! doesn't slow down much, mainly on Floating Down, which could easily have appeared on Robin Zander's self titled album and it's poptastic. She's Alright is not what you'd expect from Cheap Trick. it's a wistful almost rap from Zander. Listen To Me is unexpectedly urgent and The Rest Of My Life is the sort of Beatles Pop that they do so well.
Much as though it's nice to get another Roy Wood cover, not much is added to Blackberry Way, not that much could be, it's no Rock And Roll Tonight, their greatest Wood Cover. But the closer, If You Still Want My Love is a fine anthem. It's up with those great songs from recent mediocre albums.
All in All, I wasn't expecting miracles, in fact I just wanted something decent. I got far more than that. Cheap Trick live sets for the past decade have largely been Greatest Hits affairs in recent years, these songs will sound great in the new set. The album is a really pleasant surprise. It's not groundbreaking, but it's really good.
Santa Cruz trio Cheap Horse inhabit an unusual world. Friday Is Pizza Day frequents Psych, Garage and pure noise rock, but it's all so endearing. In 22 minutes, you get 13 songs, almost sound track like, but it's all a wonderful cacophony.
Night Shift Rock could be Michigan Garage Rock from 1969. all shouty, yet Pony Farm is great Psych. Everything is so beautifully brief. The vocals are virtually in another room, not particularly fashionable these days, but welcome in a world when everyone wants to be Nada Surf.
The closer, Motel Party is a rocking joy but ends so suddenly as a lot of the songs do. Sometimes you do wish there was a bit more, but then you are engrossed in what comes next. Janitor Starship is the type of thing you'd expect to hear on the splendid Megadodo label. It has a really heavy riff with a subdued vocal.
California Jangle is threatened on Wet Blanket, almost trippy West Coast. The whole album is chaotic, refreshingly so and it's available as a Name Your Price, so you have little to lose. I don't hear much around like this. It's very inventive. I'm not sure that everyone will find this as uplifting as I do, but I know many who will.
You can listen to and download the album here.
Saturday, 10 June 2017
We are still on the Welsh theme, although Matt Williams now lives in Devon. It is he, who is The Brigadier and he's building a growing reputation. Wash Away The Day is album Number Six and it's really good.
Wash Away The Day is very popcentric, but varied enough to spread it's wings to gather far more in. Sleep On It is wonderfully moody, a bass driven beat you could imagine Russell Mael singing, yet Keep Your Ego Down is like a jaunty Lloyd Cole.
Wash Away The Day is another jaunty joy. There's even a disco song with The King Of The Dancefloor, which shouldn't work but does and the instrumental, Cabriolet, is so Trickster or John Miles.
I'm constantly reminded of Lloyd Cole on the slower numbers, no bad thing. There may be a tad too much moodiness. This is not a complaint, because a song like This Is The Lovesong is beautifully melodic. However the album is at it's best when the pop springs more and at 47 minutes, the album could have maybe lost a couple of the slower songs.
I'm not being critical because this is a wonderful album that excels when it's chirpy. I don't know why, but I'm constantly reminded of City Boy's Dinner At The Ritz. Songs like Wash Away The Joy and in particular, I Know You're The One For Me is a corker of a song.
Feels Like Something has one of those Jangly Pop riffs that you never get tired of hearing. I love the album and I'm sure that you will too. At 6 Dollars, it's a snip. Great harmonies, it now feels like Summer.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Cleveland's Club Wow are one of the great lost Power Pop Bands. Jimmy Zero had been in The Dead Boys and The Stiv Bators Band. He'd formed a trio with Jeff West From Testors and Billy Sullivan, who is currently in the Peter Noone version of Herman's Hermits. In January 1982, Frank Secich from the legendary Blue Ash joined.
Between 1982 and 1985, the band released one single, but in the search for a major deal, 20 or so songs were recorded in Studios at Paul Pope's Studio in Elyria and all in all 28 were recorded whilst they searched for a deal, came close, but the songs remained unreleased until now.
It's a real shame that these songs didn't get a release, because there is plenty of great Power Pop present. the title track and Terminal Town. There's also a mix of styles as the band developed. Reptile House is a bit darker as a lot of early to mid 80's material was. Whilst, Norman Green is wonderful Psych Pop.
On What's With You, there's a real update of The Who's 60's sound. There's also that New Wave Keyboard sound on In The Night and There's A Fire, almost Devo. Yet It's A Lie is a sweeping ballad, Liverpool Express like.
There are two live performances, Wild Ride Of Vera Jane is great UK Power Pop and may be the best song here, the other a cover of Strawberry Fields Forever. For a band that only released two songs, these recordings are a revelation. I suppose Club Wow suffered from not being IRS like, Post Punk or New Romantic at the time, Many did.
So 18 of these 20 recordings have never been released. I'm delighted that Zero Hour have got hold of them. You can buy the CD with a DVD for the bargain price of 12 Australian Dollars from Zero Hour here.
You can also listen to and buy the album for download here,
The Blood Rush Hour's third album develops Robert DeStefano's brand of Pop Rock further. And Then.... The Unthinkable Happened, the previous album. was great. This trumps it. There will be obvious Jellyfish and Beatles comparisons, but there should be greater thought in these comparisons.
The stock feel is very much Mid 70's Pop Rock and if there is a Beatles tinge, it may be more Rutles, because DeStefano's way with a song is far more Neil Innes than Paul McCartney. His vocals are a bit Colin Moulding, particularly post XTC and there is also a modern Prog overtone. It's a bit like 10CC playing a bit of Prog though.
This is a really clever melodic album and it's nice to see Christian Phillips involved on the album, someone who seems to sprinkle a bit of gold dust on everything he touches. That Beach Boys like Wall Of Sound is very similar to The Explorers Club, particularly on The Space That We Have.
The album could have fallen in to the trap of a lot of Pop Rock albums in descending into an easy listening vibe. but Who Folds First is so damn tuneful and clever that it avoids that. God's Wall could be Buggles Era Yes,
There's also real wit, New Country is just that, but more like Costello does Country. Find Another Russian Dancer could be Alan Parsons Project or John John Miles. In Between Time could have been on ELO's Secret Messages. What Does It Take reminds me a lot of The Legal Matters.
Even allowing for the clever Doo Wop Harmonies on No More Excuses which lead into a real Pilot like riff, my favourite song is I'm The One, a wonderfully jaunty affair with it's piano solo. I Do Hear A Single (ha ha) there. There's some great great Pop and Rock coming out of South Wales lately. It must be something in the water.
There aren't a lot of songs from the album around the net to listen to. The You Tube links are also removed. You can take my word for what a great album it is and if I get any links, I will update the post. In the meantime you can listen to 30 Second Samples on Amazon here. You can also buy the album here.
There seems to be a theme recently of bands offering up albums after long absences. Brisbane's Screamfeeder are the latest. Pop Guilt is the trio's first album in 12 years and although it soesn't move massively away from their template, there's more than enough to gather a new breed of followers.
The same influences are there, The Pixies and Husker Du spring to mind. However, Tim Steward's voice has always leant itself to other comparisons. I think Tim Wheeler of Ash, even Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub.
Bassist, Kellie Lloyd takes over vocals on five of the songs and this changes the dynamic allowing them to explore a different territory, almost Brit Pop Girl or Shoegazing. If Screamfeeder had been a Brit Pop band, they would probably have been Ride.
When I think Brisbane or Australia, I think Power Pop or Garage Rock, there's far more to Screamfeeder than that. Sometimes they can be a heavier version of fellow Brisbane band, Custard, but they don't want to be a lighter version of Garbage. There's some great arrangements here and unusual tempo changes that reveal an intelligence not always revealed in the comparisons.
You sense the pop sensibilities in the background, particularly on the Lloyd vocals, but what grabs you is the guitar breakouts. This mix of pop and nose makes for an intriguing listen, much more than the few bands around who'd tackle this sort of album.
Karen Trust Me is great Power Pop, I Might Have Some Regrets is Gallagher like, Sciatic Heart has a real psych pop backdrop to that sweet female vocal. That mix of boy / girl vocals and the variance in songs like Half Life that make this a fine album. There's enough to keep the older fans happy, but plenty of chances taken to gather a new breed, Pop Guilt is a fine album, there's not too much around that sounds like this. I love it.
You can listen to the album and find out more about the band here.
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
I've always liked Tigers Jaw. In the past, how the Emo / American Punk scene label can be off putting for listeners. At best they expect bands to be Green Day, at worst they associate them with "dudes" on skateboards. That whole scene was wrecked by the majors who wanted the next Dookie and left to suffocate.
Tigers Jaw's last album, Charmer, was a great listen, if a little dark. It coincided with the band splitting with three of the five members moving to pastures new, leaving Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins to pick up the pieces. I was intrigued to hear how Spin would pan out as Adam McIlwee had been a big part of the band.
I'm delighted to say that the outcome is delightful. Collins stepping up as songwriter and co vocalist has brought out all those pop sensibilities that threatened to break out, but previously seemed stifled. Spin is a great Pop Rock, chirpy and optimistic. I'm sure signing to Atlantic Off-Shoot, Black Cement Records will help them forge a much bigger following.
Brianna's vocals on the likes of Brass Ring and Same Stone add a real poptastic feel. FM Girl Rock like on the former, more like Beth Orton on the latter. When Walsh takes over vocals, the songs seem more riff led and feel more Alt Rock. There are Pop Punk overtones on the odd track, particularly Window, but overall Spin sounds far more mainstream.
I suspect that Will Yip's continued involvement has enforced this slight change of direction. I wouldn't want to give the impression that there has been major changes because there haven't. It just seems that Collins's songwriting has emphasised the pop in place of the retrospection of previous releases.
All in all, this is a fine album and one that caught me a little by surprise. It's the best of the past and a real nod to the future. Well done Tigers Jaw!
You can buy the album here and everywhere.
Monday, 5 June 2017
As one of the great UK Singer Songwriters and being as active as he is, it's somewhat surprising to realise that this is his first outing of new material for eight years. I was a massive fan of his band, The Bible, who offered up really intelligent pop and Hewerdine's standing as the 90's progressed was akin to the likes of Neil Finn and Difford and Tilbrook.
More recently, he's been viewed more as a Folk Troubadour, an Acoustic Warrior, and although I can see this, it hasn't necessarily been the case. Although his solo stuff has been more rustic, the pop has always been there on the sidelines, particularly in songs like The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Moon.
The great news is that Swimming In Mercury is unashamedly melodic pop, That melody encompasses all before it. American TV is like Jackson Browne fronting The Beach Boys, a UK Version of The Explorers Club. Satellite Town is pure Village Pop, the comparison this time would be Andrew Gold fronting XTC.
Sleep is McCartney Beatle Pop, Gemini has a wonderful Brass arrangement, This is a really reflective album, a real nod to the past, lyrically and arrangement wise. For all the Pop, the atmospheric, The Year That I Was Born is stripped down and John Howard like, ditto An Athiest In A Foxhole. Only Drinking Alone really points to that Folk label.
Although, Hewerdine's Production Work is always a mark of quality, it really is splendid to hear him back in the realms of pop. This is a joyous reflective album. If the magic of Hewerdine has passed you by thus far, this is a great place to start. It's 40 minutes of heart opening and nodding to the past, but in an optimistic way. Boo has never been one to rest on his laurels and heaven forbid that he should. But this is a pause button and a time for reflection and as such the album works beautifully.
You can buy the album everywhere and you should.
People seem to think that I am on the hunt for new artists 24 /7 and spend every hour listening to new stuff in a sort of Music Foreverland. Whilst this is partly true, the success of IDHAS means that as well as receiving a lot of stuff, I'm also recommended plenty too. The Blog naturally generates this and it's wonderful. The policy of only reviewing things that I truly like means I listen to a lot of albums and the majority are mediocre.
I mention the above because I discovered The Smallest Creature via Music Submit. This is a US Internet Music Promotion site. I've been a member for quite a while and there has been the odd thing that has really perked my interest. The music that was submitted to me was generally not my forte, I do mine a Power Pop / Pop Rock department that isn't really the mainstream. However lately, there has been some fantastic stuff, I don't know if Music Submit has latched on to my tastes through the years or that it's drawing in a new set of fantastic artists. Whatever it is, it's working for me.
The other joy about I Don't Hear A Single is that it's like a worldwide tour and today it's Cyprus. The Smallest Creature are Cypriots and Millions is an absolutely stunning. It's really unusual to hear an album that isn't like everything else around. It's fair to say that there has been a spell where so many wanted to be Teenage Fanclub or Nada Surf. The band are neither.
The beauty of this album is that it encompasses so many of the influences that make up my music collection. The trio will get compared to Muse and Radiohead, but it's the better earlier elements of those bands not where they are now. The latter without the disappearing up it's own backside, think The Bends and the former when they hit a melodic riff without all of the space age nonsense. This is most prevalent on the magnificent, Copenhagen, a real brooding gem of a song.
There are moody prog overtones on the album, particularly on the opener, High Low You, but they are really melodic, Porcupine Tree melodic. There's a real groove to the whole album, the melody tends to be in the lyrics. Solos are kept to a minimum, when songs do break out, it's in an understated way. Very mid 90's ish and nods to the likes of Mansun and Stone Temple Pilots.
It's really hard to pick out a favourite song here because Million is very much an album. I suppose that the three tracks that I've selected here are what I consider the best. Vanity Vote is my overall choice, it contains a gripping riff. I feel the same about The Smallest Creature as I did when I first heard Porcupine Tree and my hope is that the band provide has much enjoyment over coming years.
The album is a corking listen. One that has completely caught me by surprise. Not too many are mining this territory at the moment and that's just one of the reasons that I love this so much. Considering this is a debut album, it's stunning, beautifully produced and incredibly worthwhile.
You can listen to Million here and then buy it.
Seattle's Bread & Butter are not what you would expect from Seattle. The foursome purvey a brand of laid back good time Pop Rock that is virtually impossible not too like. As with all good Pop Rock, the comparisons are easy to make, but with this lot the mix is a little different to those easily made.
There are always nods to the UK with the genre and there are some here. Cool In The Water could be prime time Mungo Jerry, Keys To The City sounds like it treads the boards of mid 70's UK Pub Rock. Stole This sounds so 60's UK, think The Equals' Baby Come Back.
Yet the American influences are here, I'm reminded of The Spin Doctors and early 80's US Wave, particularly in the rhythm. There's also slight Reggae overtones and an atmosphere of melodic Stoner Rock.
Dying To Know hits a groove like The Doobie Brothers. The album is at it's best when it jangles a little and it certainly does that on Good Lines and Got Myself A Sweet Heart which has a galloping back beat. The vocals overall are a bit Chris Martin sometimes. Here's a recent KEXP Session.
There's loads to like about the album. You'd imagine the songs being played outside the bar developing from jams. It's a real chilled out album and that is the really enjoyable thing about it. You can buy the album here.