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Sunday 12 November 2017

The Garden Of Earthly Delights

The Granite Shore - Suspended Second

I purposely wanted this to appear in The Garden Of Earthly Delights section. Simply because I want this section to be useful to those not looking for the Poppier stuff that I concentrate on, but at the same time for those Pop fans to realise what else is around.

I'm a massive Fan of Nick Halliwell's Occulation Recordings, not only for dragging The Distractions back into public view. Any label that has John Howard on it is doing something right and every sign tells me that this is a label to reckon with.

The Granite Shore's second album is a cracker. Halliwell may have a plaintive vocal, but there is a fantastic structure and melody to the songs and the choruses don't half hook you. The seriousness of the message isn't lost in this follow up, but the debut album, Once More From The Top was a bit too reflective.

Suspended Second contains songs that seem a bit more jolly, even if the lyrics are not for Brexiteers. I defy anyone to write a song as beautifully melancholic as Someone Else. Ditto the nine minutes plus of The Performance Of A Lifetime which features completely addictive Backing Vocals.

Halliwell describes the album as Angry Pop, that's too easy a tag. The depth of the songwriting shows that he is being way too modest. The inclusion of Occulation label mates allow the vision to be reach fulfillment.

The Distractions' Steve Perrin is present as is The June Brides' Phil Wilson. The dulcet tones of John Howard are here as is that extraordinary piano playing. Arash Torabi and Ian Henderson complete the sextet.

Nick Halliwell has offered up an exceptional album on an exceptional label. You can listen to and buy the album here.

Bad Badger - Serpent Mother 

Wichita Falls's Bad Badger have fashioned up an excellent album. The band are labelled with the all encapsulating Indie Rock. I mean what exactly is that these days? It would appear to be anything that is potentially Rock and not on a major label. Does it have quite a few synths on it, is there much guitar, no, oh that'll be Indie Pop, yes, oh that'll be Prog.

Serpent Mother is pure Rock and on something like New Pigs, the instrumentation is Caress Of Steel like, it's wonderful psych prog. Then there's Band Of Wagons which you'd expect to be on the Fruits De Mer label.

Lucid Livin' is so laid back it is almost asleep. Anna too is more of the same, mesmerising. Indeed the whole of the second half is far more dreamy and trippy than the pulsing of the first half. The two halves are divided by an interlude, all albums should make this mandatory.

This is a corker of an album, extremely mature, as well as grabbing the Nada Surf and Lemon Twigs crowd, Bad Badger should garner a much older following. Indie Rock indeed!!!!!! This is pure psych and all the better for it. I'll pass this on to my good friend, Chris Sirett at The Perfumed Allotment. I know he'll want to cover it too.

You can buy this everywhere including CD Baby here and Amazon here. Listening samples are at both places. Ignore the categories though. Blink 182?????

Trent Reznor And Atticus Ross - The Vietnam War (Original Score)

The Garden Of Earthly Delights section was always meant to be something away from what I generally cover on IDHAS. It was intended to be away from the Power Pop and Pop Rock and from now on, it will appear regularly and do just that.

Nine Inch Nails which is essentially Trent Reznor have been known largely for Industrial Rock, really enjoyable but hard listening. Reznor's soundtrack work with Atticus Ross, who is now also a NIN member has been largely different.

Although Reznor had worked alone with Scores for David Fincher, since his collaboration with Ross on 2010's The Social Work, the projects have developed considerably. Their scores fit the films beautifully, yes this is ambient, but it is also effective. Not as up itself as some ambient music can be. Think Bill Nelson, who also makes wonderful albums in that field, although there are perhaps too many.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's excellent Documentary series, The Vietnam War, is a big watch, 10 episodes taking up 18 hours. So although there are two different albums to accompany it, there is room for both.

The alternative soundtrack will be the one people naturally gravitate to. That is a bit obvious with it's Simon And Garfunkel and Creedence Clearwater Revival. All a bit Now That's What I Call Classic Rawk. Surely most people have this stuff already.

This double disc is the gem. It's very moving, can be listened to as background music or in depth. If you are composing an Electronic Music score, you have to make it interesting, it can't just rely on a Prog like repetition of the same theme.

Reznor and Ross manage that. It's a fine listen briefly or through all 95 minutes. This score can be compared to a modern day Classical Composer's work and there is still more than enough room for this and three minute love songs.

You can buy this everywhere. The likes of Amazon have sound samples here.

Artful Dodger - The Complete Columbia Recordings (2CD)

I rarely cover Back Catalogue on here unless it is something dear to my heart. A number of reasons. I cover a bit elsewhere, I've spent far too long over the last two decades, listening to and writing about the past, but mainly because I prefer IDHAS to be about the new and unappreciated.

However, if the right band come along, I'll say a few words and this is a few words.  Artful Dodger are one of the great lost Pop Rock bands, akin to Liverpool Express in the UK. Their self titled debut album and the follow up, Honor Amongst Thieves have appeared on CD before, but the masters were dreadful and they fetch very high prices these days or did until perhaps not.

1977's Babes On Broadway has never appeared on CD and although it's not a patch on the previous two, it's great to have it available again. These three CBS albums have Single Versions of Scream and Can't Stop Pretending added to the two disc package.

Sadly 1980's finale, Rave On was on Arista and so the wait for that continues. Big In Cleveland, I suppose describes Artful Dodger with their Raspberries Pop. But this is great Pop Rock. Don't confuse the band with the UK Artful Dodger or you will get a nasty surprise.

This can be bought at Amazon here and everywhere else. Sorry for the quality of the song examples. There's not a lot available.

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