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Sunday 30 December 2018

Five 2018 Albums That You Should Own Part 1

Houston's Buxton have fashioned up an excellent laid back affair. A clever use of some old fashioned instruments and centring around an almost Lloyd Cole like vocal, Stay Out Late is wonderfully mellow. All 11 songs breeze by, but a special mention should be given to the splendid, "Jan".

Los Angeles's Ward White returns with his eleventh album and it is another deep beautifully written affair. White's vocal is a cross between David Bowie, Roy Orbison and Elvis Costello and Diminish may be his best collection of songs thus far. Wonderfully moody, heavy on words, it's an adventure from start to finish. It's hard to pick a favourite, but Titans, which I played on the Radio Show, is as good as anything that I've heard this year.

Johnny Stanec's 2018 album is a really accomplished offering. An album that I've been playing for a few months and it certainly deserves more than a few lines. But with a new album almost upon us, I'll save far more words for that. The Future Of Nothing is a heady mix of Classic Rock and Power Pop with Acoustic Interludes in between. It is at it's best when rocks, particularly on the poptastic, When I Was Strange. However, it's Rolling Like Time that hits all the spots for me. You can pick the album up for 5 dollars at present, you should.

When you see that an album is based on a film, the hills normally call you. Not a bit of that here, Nashville's Dave Paulson's Sandusky, Ohio is Piano Rock of the highest order. The album reminds me a lot of Bleu, in it's feel is a mix of great 70's Pop Rock, particularly on the excellent, Don't Let It Get You Down. Turning Around is joyous Power Pop with a great Synth breeak. The whole album stands on it's own as splendid melodic pop, it's well worth your attention.

To end, a real surprise, an album released by a Major that's great. Universal Japan have released J Rocking Duo, Glim Spanky's new album and it's a cracker. I know J Rock (or J Pop) isn't everyone's cup of tea, but Looking For The Magic is a fine album. The fourth album moves far more towards Psych Rock, than the band's more Classic Rock moorings and Hiroki Kamemoto is some guitarist. If you want to step away from the obvious, then this is an album you should grab.

Saturday 22 December 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 59

The 59th Aural Delight is Ready and Willing. to quote Lord Coverdale Of Redcar. No artist intros. I've thought of adding them, but people say they like the hour long no break model. I will sound out people if that needs to change.

18 splendid songs to make your day brighter. A massive thanks to Jim Moody for his superb technical skills, without whom this would not be possible.

The playlist details are on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous adventures on Mixcloud here.

The new talky 2 hour radio show starts in January, details will be posted on IDHAS and it is completely different to this. I will break the news of where it is appearing soon.

You can listen by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

01 Checkpoint Charley - Facing The Music
02 Plasticsoul - The Ghost Inbetween Us
03 Clockwork Flowers - What's The Matter With You
04 Parks - Sweater Weather
05 Gospelbeach - Change Of Heart
06 The John Sally Ride - I Know, But I Haven't Been Told
07 Summer Magic - Hey!
08 Seabreeze Diner - Shitty Bar
09 Straw Bear - The Healing Of Augusta De La Rue
10 The Genuine Fakes - In Color
11 Emperor Penguin - Shaking Spear
12 The Hold Steady - Sequestered In Memphis
13 The Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle With Me
14 Angelo Gianni (Treadmill Trackstar) - Too Bad
15 The Rambling Wheels - A Hoax In A Box
16 Timmy Sean - In California
17 Dominoe - Irresistible
18 The Midwest Beat - North Country Trail

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 59

Thursday 20 December 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 58

Hot On The Heels of Number 57, comes another 18 ace songs to delight your ears. The format is still new songs in continuous mix. No artist intros. I've thought of adding them, but people say they like the hour long no break model. I will sound out people if that needs to change.

Number 59 follows at the weekend, before the traditional two Best Of 2018's next week.

The playlist details are on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous adventures on Mixcloud here.

The new talky 2 hour radio show starts in January, details will be posted on IDHAS and it is completely different to this. I will break the news of where it is appearing soon.

You can listen by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

01 The Cherry Drops - The Cherry Drops Theme
02 Birdstreets - Carry Me
03 Lowray - Friends And The Fakers
04 The Raving Beauties - Walk In Love
05 Mothboxer - Sunshine Sound
06 Valley Lodge - Come Back To Bed
07 Neil Sturgeon & The Infomaniacs - NY Reflection Song
08 Travis Cormier - Pictures Of Paradise
09 The Persian Leaps  - Time Slips
10 The Bevis Frond - We're Your Friends, Man
11 The Peawees - Leave This Place
12 Sunshine & The Rain - Just The Way It Goes
13 Will Wander - I Love You To The Moon, But I'm Not Coming Back
14 The Gardening Club - Whirled Away
15 El Radio Fantastique - Everybody And Yourself
16 Ace Of Cups - Feel Good
17 Savak - Door Deals & Debt
18 Vennart - Donkey Kong

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 58

Tuesday 18 December 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 57

Time to catch up with the IDHAS Audio Extravaganza and so there will be three Episodes this week. Number 58 is on Thursday. The format is still new songs in continuous mix. No artist intros. I've thought of adding them, but people say they like the hour long no break model. I will sound out people if that needs to change.

An hour of great new music awaits you in what has been an exceptional year.

The playlist details are on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous adventures on Mixcloud here.

The new talky 2 hour radio show starts in January, details will be posted on IDHAS and it is completely different to this.

17 poptastic songs await you and you can listen by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

01 Popdudes - Live And Let Die
02 Checkpoint Charley - Child's Play
03 Ward White - Titans
04 The Jigsaw Seen - Girl On A Red Velvet Swing
05 Leon Of Athens - Aeroplane
06 Vegas With Randolph - The Girl Holding Out For Me
07 The Textones - Downhearted Town
08 Barely March - Nervous As I'll Ever Be
09 Mario Soutschka - Laughing That Laughter
10 Van Duren - Grow Yourself Up
11 Get Married - Adam West
12 Smoking Popes - No Tomorrow Tonight
13 Justine And The Unclean - This System Is Set To Self Destruct
14 Big Spring - New Wave
15 Michael Roberts - Bottlegreen
16 Dana Countryman - If I Had A Girl
17 Arcadian Child - Bain Marie

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 57

Sunday 16 December 2018

Mick Dillingham Interviews : Burning Ferns

Hailing from Newport, Wales, “Burning Ferns” return with their second album “Public Mono” and what an absolute delight it truly is. Overflowing with a embarrassingly rich abundance of elegant, heart stopping melodies and top end musical invention. It’s a beautiful multilayered captivating Psych Pop masterpiece on which the band never put so much as a toe wrong from blazing start to breathless finish.

Oh there's so much creative depth to enjoy in this effortless pleasure of a listening experience.  “Public Mono” is quite some rare achievement and Burning Ferns are quite some special band to be reckoned with. I could sum up the album with one word and that word would be WOW! 
Time to sit down with chief Fern Anthony Gray and talk about it all.

> What are your earliest memories of first getting into music?

"Music figured heavily when I was growing up. My parents were separated and they both had record collections. My earliest "this is the best thing ever" moment was the Magical Mystery Tour gatefold album with the book inside. I think was about 7 or 8 years old and I had no clue what the hell it was all about but I loved it. It was simultaneously beguiling, cool, funny, strange, wacky, daft, silly and it sounded incredible.

Prior to that what sticks in my mind are things like 'I Want To Teach The World To Sing' by The New Seekers which I remembered from a TV advert, 'Tiger Feet' by Mud which we had on a 7" single. Also 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' and the theme from Bagpuss, which used to make me feel nostalgic, even though I was too young to have anything like the depth of experience that would warrant nostalgia. I can remember being told to shut up quite a lot because I'd incessantly repeat song lyrics and get on everyone's nerves."

> Which music artists first made you sit up and take notice?

"My first proper obsession was The Jesus and Mary Chain. I was about 14. I went full black, Chelsea boots, leather trousers, bad spiky crimped hair and brought ALL their records. I went to see them illegally in Bristol with my mate Jon Hatfield who was really responsible for turning me onto to the whole thing.

Both him, my brother and my sister were all heavily obsessed with music by this point. My brother Matt would buy a lot of records and was heavily into Punk and New Wave, he was always going to gigs and still does. My sister Emma was a full on Goth who was obsessed with Marc Almond, Gary Numan and The Clash. Everyone in the house loved The Ramones. The Mary Chain took pop simplicity and turned it into a motorbike and sidecar of melody and white noise and they looked cool as hell.

They played with their backs to the crowd and started riots. It was an irresistible act of rebellion and for me it was ours because it felt new. It took its influences from some of Punk, but also a great deal from 60's art rock and ended up opening the doors to The Velvet Underground, Pebbles and Nuggets compilations, Can, The Stooges and also eventually Bowie."

> When did you start playing an instrument?

"I saw a Black Kay Les Paul copy in a music shop window when I was 11. I asked for it for Christmas. I didn't really play it. I liked to just look at it. I used to put it next to my bed so it was there in the morning when I woke up. I had no idea how to play it or how to start playing it. My brother Matt knew a bit though and showed me Smoke On The Water.

He ended up playing it way more than me. Eventually he went on to play guitar for The Darling Buds and toured America with them. The Kay Les Paul gathered dust. I never had an amp for it, so never really realised what it was capable of doing. Then someone, an old boyfriend of my sister's I think, left an amp round our house. It was a Vox AC30 head and cab. An incredible sounding amp.

Then, when I was obsessed with the Mary Chain, my friend Jon came over and we started mucking about with this amp. That's when I realised an amp makes all the difference. I got a new guitar, an Ibanez Roadstar, a black one and a DOD fuzz pedal. The pedal was the key. You can create melody with a fuzz pedal while making mistakes, even the most clumsily fingered dead chord sounds great with a fuzz pedal."

> When did you start writing songs?

"I realised you could make up your own stuff quicker than learning other people's. I wish I still had the tapes of me and Jon in my bedroom doing 'King Neptune'. All the lyrics were 'King, King Neptune Queen, Queen Aqua'. It wasn't really a song, it was just noise and not many words. If I could have a time machine I'd go back and watch this, it'd be hilarious.

Recording stuff into tape recorders made me realise that putting something relatively listenable together wasn't that difficult after all and two guitar tracks sounded better than one. At the age of about 17, I got a band together with another friend, Guy, who played bass. We called ourselves 'The Egg'. It was just us two and a drum machine. We used to play open mic nights in the Forge and Hammer in Machen, a local pub which catered well for local bands and musicians.

I only wrote about 5 songs for The Egg. Eventually we recorded them in a mate's studio and played a battle of the bands at Chapter Arts in Cardiff which at 17 felt like a big deal. We didn't win, or come second or third. You can see, a pattern of failure was established early."

> Were you in any earlier bands?

"First there was me and Jon in my bedroom, then there was The Egg, then there was a band that had no name which consisted of Jon again, Brychan Todd (Ferns Bass/ Keys wizard) and Brychan's brother Meirion. ( Side note ! - Brychan went to University in Liverpool, then moved to London and ended up playing for NME/ indie darlings Astronaut and also worked for Creation Records for a while!).

 After the band with no name was College in Swansea, where I played guitar for a band called Solar Bud. The Solar Bud experience was crazy, we did lots of gigs and wild Biker festivals. Then back to Newport and some time as a Roadie and Guitar Tech for a band called Suck on a UK tour with Newport's Dub War.

Then I started making music on a Computer with an old friend called Craig Lewis and also did various projects with some other Newport people. I eventually found my way to Burning Ferns' amazing sleeve artist Gareth Blayney and ended up playing Bass for a recording outfit that he conceived called The Hypnotrons.

He wrote great songs and it was pleasure to play on them. By now, both me and Gareth both knew Crazed Monkey Alike drummer Carl Bevan from Newport's 60ft Dolls, so I ended up doing various things for him too.

I played some bass on some tracks he recorded for a project he had called 'Taisty Bone' after the Dolls had split. This is how I met Nathan Abraham (Abo) from the Ferns who had been guitarist in Newport's Rollerco and Veltones amongst other projects."

> How did the ferns get together?

"In between recording snippets of editable things for Carl to play with me and Abo, we would play songs with each other. Then we started to socialise more. Then one night after many beers we decided we should do something together.

I'd discovered how writing songs on the acoustic guitar was by far the best way for me to give birth to an idea. So I started writing songs and every week we'd go to a studio and record them. This first incarnation was called 'The Good Time Milk'.

> Talk about the first album

"One of the best things Nathan and I came up with as The Good Time Milk was a song called 'Crunch Time'. This was a sea shanty style allegory to the dodgy pirate like machinations of the deregulated banking sector, who'd caused the crash of 2008. At that point I think we knew we had at least one good song.

That song was the launch pad for nine or ten others. Crunch Time, in its eventual recorded form and those nine or ten others would not have seen the light of day had we not invited our, recently repatriated to Wales old friend, Brychan Todd to play bass and get real with some arrangements. He was up for it and we started messing with some stuff I was bringing down to the studio.

We got it together with local man about drums. Simon 'Slim' Short and recorded a four track demo EP in 2011 called "Crunch Time In Shangri Las With The Sand Demons". Imaginatively it had the songs Crunch Time, Shangri Las and Sand and Demons on it. Three of these would make it in re-recorded form onto our first album See Saw Seen.

We sent the Demo to Country Mile records, a local open minded Indie record label who'd put out stuff by the legendary John Langford, my brother's wonderful Gimme Memphis and the amazing Ash And The Oak. We arranged to meet Ray from Country Mile in the Pub, he loved it. We agreed to record an album."

> How was it received?

"See Saw Seen was received way better than we ever expected. We knew what we were doing was quite niche and we didn't expect the kind of national interest it attracted in Wales. Crunch Time got 'Single Of The Week' and ended up being played regularly for about a month on Radio Wales and we got great reviews from the likes of Buzz Magazine.

Then wider interest happened from places like Canada, Australia, Japan and the US. We didn't sell thousands of copies, but it was amazing to know there were total strangers on other parts of the planet who dug what we did!"

> There’s quite a gap between the two albums ..what happened in those years?

"We were mainly in work and being parents, while every Thursday returning to the studio and working on a steady drip of new songs that I was coming up with. We didn't have many weeks off, we're just really slow. Eventually, we had an album's worth of stuff we were happy with, so we decided to start recording it on Thursday nights.

Whilst doing this there was still interest in See Saw Seen and we were playing the odd gig and doing some Live Radio appearances. Me and Abo did a turn on Radio Wales one day and Dave Corten Tweeted how much he enjoyed it. I identified him as another Newport musician.

We were looking for a stand in bass player because Brychan was expecting his second child. Because Dave had expressed an element of enthusiasm toward our nervous live acoustic performance, which was very nice of him, we decided we'd ask him to stand in on bass during Brych's paternity leave. He obliged and ended up staying, because we always had a third vocal harmony and an acoustic guitar on our recordings, and he was alright, you know?"

> While the first record is excellent the new album is epic, a dazzling high concept masterwork, chock full of superb musical invention.  Talk about the recording

"Thank you very much! That kind of comment makes the fun of creating this stuff extra worth it!

We decided that we could take control of recording the vocals and guitars and just have the Drums and Bass professionally engineered by our old compadre Richard Jackson. It'd save some money, which we didn't have and would mean we wouldn't have to squeeze the singing, guitars etc into paid engineer time.

It would take longer, but we didn't care it was still fun! We also had a great idea of what we hadn't done so well on See Saw Seen, so we gave ourselves time as an opportunity to try to improve. For instance, we took the keyboards more seriously, because Brychan is also an amazing keyboard player as well as Bass player.

At times it was laborious. At other times it was absolutely hilarious. We have hours of edited out laughter from corpsing during vocal recordings. We've clearly identified Dave Corten as having a wind issue.

From a song writing perspective, there was definitely now more nuance to the arrangements, better instrumentation, better chord progressions and richer harmonies. The ordering of songs was really important, because we wanted to treat the album as a whole thing that had a real feeling of a beginning and an end."

> What are your favourites on the record?

"My personal favourites are ‘Made Of The Sun’, ’0’s & 1’s’. Made Of The Sun’s got interesting melodic properties. pushed on by a great combined Vibes / Rhodes sound courtesy of keyboard maestro Brychan. I’m pleased with the chords and the singing. It’s also got an extended synth note that bleeds out of a held vocal note after the middle 8.

It’s nice to play live and it transferred to recording pretty well. With slower songs like that, it’s hard sometimes to capture the right vibe, but I think we did it. I like '0’s & 1’s' because it’s a bit angry while still being a bit Psych Pop and has an interesting chord progression. Then it changes into something different, with great slap back echo on the Drums, introduced when the tempo drops."

> How does the song writing process work with you, where do you lyrical ideas come from?

"Either words, then chords or chords which get mumbled over until some semblance of a potential melody happens which I can write an appropriate lyric to. Sometimes I get strings of ideas quickly, sometimes I get no ideas at all for weeks on end.

Listening to new things can help, as can picking up a different guitar. The lyrical ideas tend to come from everyday stuff I’ve been thinking about, or just from everyday experiences. This presents lots of different subjects from the internet of things to (lately) people thinking it’s a good idea to behave like lobsters and celebrities acting like wild over sexed bonobos."

> Are you slow or prolific?

"I’m either Prolow or Slolific, see above."

> What would you say were your biggest influences?

"The Beatles, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, The Byrds, Gene Clark, JAMC, Beck, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, SFA, Elliot Smith….I could go on…."

> Future plans?

Slim Short has now left as drummer to pursue other projects. We are seeking out a new drummer and have some promising prospects. There are 4 new songs on the go, which is nearly half an album, or an EP!. There’s an animal theme happening currently. I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but I’ll keep you posted!

You can listen to both albums here. Public Mono is available from all good online Record Emporiums and can be listened to on the likes of Spotify et al. CD Baby have the album to buy on download or CD here.

You can also support the label, by buying it from Country Mile Records themselves, here.

Checkpoint Charley - Pomp, Twaddle And Bombast : Songs 13 - 24

It's good to be back and I hope the spate of Reviews, up until the end of December, help you to decide on Christmas Presents or offer up great things to utilise your Record Tokens. I know, I know, I meant iTunes or Amazon Vouchers.

I've been meaning to tell you about this album for the past few months, but that's nowhere near as long as I've been waiting for this follow up album. 13 years! Count 'em! The comeback was trailed earlier this year with the Great Mind Jedi Trick EP. Six months on and the golddust has arrived.

When you've waited so long for a second album, there's a worry that it won't be quite what you hoped it would be. Not a worry in sight. Kevin Packard and Jesse Anderegg, the songwriting duo that are Checkpoint Charley, have fashioned up a fantastic Pop Rock album.

Songs 13 - 24 has a firm foot in the Power Pop camp, but the album goes much further than that. Comparisons will be made to Jellyfish, as so many do, but this is closer to the great Pop Rock of the 70's or the poppier end of Brit Pop. Maybe it's more apt to settle on a modern day Badfinger with less songs about love and more hooks.

Produced in Nashville with an all-star cast of guest players, there's no let up on the melody from the opening Pure Power Pop of Acting My Age to the closing, Into The Sun, which you can imagine a Boy Band queue wanting to cover it.

In between, there are plenty of surprises. Adam And Eve could be Gilbert O'Sullivan, Young And Naive is almost Muse. The slower songs, Tomorrow and Lazy work beautifully. There's a fantastic Steel Guitar twang on 559V, a real singalong strum of a song with a fine lead Guitar, Pilot like , Riff.

She's All Mine is The Monkees doing Glam Rock. The two standout songs though are Child's Play and Facing The Music. The former has an almost Christmas like chime amongst the Power Pop charm. The latter is a splendid affair, a real anthem. Lighters out etc. 13 years is a long time to wait, but Pomp, Twaddle And Blast has been well worth the impatience.

Those who want the physical product. The CD is available from the band's website here. It is also available from Kool Kat here. A Vinyl Version will be available in January. The album can be heard on all the major streaming sites and samples can be heard here.

Monday 10 December 2018

There's A Big Stir Going On

I thought it was about time that I wrote more about Big Stir. There are many kindred spirits around, but the success and growth of Big Stir makes me stand back and applaud the most. The growth of the collective over the past two years has been heart warming to say the least.

The Big Star Label Album Roster is now Nine Artists strong, you can find more details here. The wonderful Weekly Digital Singles will see number 8 released this week and has already featured Lisa Mychols, Michael Simmons, Karla Kane and Lannie Flowers. These two song singles cost a bargain One whole dollar here.

Big Stir have also made it a mission to bring the Community together. Issue 3 of The Magazine is about to hit the streets, Rex and Christina host a Weekly Radio Show on Woody Radio and most relevant, they are bringing labels together. The links with both Spyderpop, Futureman Records and Karma Frog are a joy to behold. It's long needed, the scene maybe small, but it is fragmented, that is being addressed with Big Stir at the front of the barricades.

The monthly Showcase continues in Burbank and Croydon with some fantastic names. The likes of Lannie Flowers and Danny Wilkerson were at the recent Burbank show and John Borack spins the Burbank tunes. All of this is happening whilst The Armoires finalise their second release.

I remember in IDHAS's early days, beseeching them to bring their entourage to the UK. I wanted the UK to witness their West Coast Monthly Live Showcase. Come they did, centring a UK Tour around Liverpool's 2017 IPO Festival. As they toured the country, the line ups were incredible. The Stateside Touring Circus consisted of The Armoires, Plasticsoul and Hux And The Hitmen with David Jaggs of The Ragamuffins at Manchester and the UK's finest joined them as the tour rolled on.

Spygenius, The Fast Camels, mylittlebrother, Toxic Melons, Artisam, Charms Against The Evil Eye and Sunshine Bloom joined in with the Fun. The Tour was so successful that a Spin Off UK Arm of Big Stir was started in the South, fronted by the excellent Spygenius.

The Big Star Britannia version has already seen the likes of Anton Barbeau, Blake Jones And The Trike Shop, Picturebox and Nick Frater added to the appearance list and there are plans are afoot for further Big Stir expansion in both America and the UK.

There's no let up from the label with new releases planned for Anton Barbeau and also the highly anticipated new album from Kai Danzberg, which has a January Release. In Deed and Leslie Pereira And The Lazy Heroes have also been recently added to the label's roster. As IDHAS expands, you can bet your life that it will have a link to Big Stir.

Rex and Christina, I Salute You!

Thursday 22 November 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 56

Volume 56 is now on Mixcloud. The format is still new songs in continuous mix. No artist intros. I've thought of adding them, but people say they like the hour long no break model. I will sound out people if that needs to change.

There is so much great new music around, that this week I've extended the hour long normality to 78 poptastic minutes.

The playlist details are on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous adventures on Mixcloud here.

The new talky 2 hour radio show is not too far away now, details will be posted on IDHAS and it is completely different to this.

This week's show features 23 superb songs. Details of how to listen to number 56 are provided by the link after the playlist below :

01 Cinderpop - Saline
02 Bill Lloyd - Working The Long Game
03 Jim Lea - Lost In Space
04 Lannie Flowers - Doin' Fine
05 Andy Partridge - Humanoid Boogie
06 The Sunset Spirit - Mary Jane
07 Mick Terry - Emily Come Back
08 Mayday Parade - Never Sure
09 Fernando Perdomo - We Were Raised With Headphones On
10 Car City - Connecting The Dots
11 Downstate Darlings - King James
12 Gleeson - Through The Motions
13 Medicine Head - Forgive And Forget
14 Peter Baldrachi - Change
15 The Wild Wild - Mrs Low
16 Kimberley Rew - Chain Pub
17 Mikah Wilson - Sunshine Grooves
18 Karla Kane - Goodguy Sun
19 Cleaners From Venus - The Children Of Waterloo Square
20 Leafy Seadragon - Disagree To Disagree
21 Super 8 - Drive You Home
22 Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness - Teenage Rockstars
23 Pat Buchanan - Sandbox

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 56

Friday 9 November 2018

Mick Terry - Days Go By

It's been a long wait since Mick Terry's excellent debut album, The Grown Ups and although I knew this was coming, it's been a real impatient wait. I'm also a big Jim Boggia fan, so their collaboration seemed like a match made in heaven.

What has transpired is an incredibly mature album, very different to that poptastic debut. Yes those Pop Sensibilities are still present, particularly on the magnificent show stopper, Emily Come Back, but Days Go By goes much further.

This is a real Singer Songwriter album with nods to Motown and Philly, particularly on Arthur's Tale with it's Temptations like feel and Everybody's Talking. Riverbend is like Jackson Browne with a crack Country Rock band.

Pop's A Dirty Word is great 70's Pop Rock, there's a fair few name checks to remind you of this, it's very Elton John, in fact and Elton and Billy Joel spring to mind on a fair bit across the album. Rocking In The Photograph is Terry at his pop best with it's Madness like piano, a sort of take on Ben Folds.The Glitter Guitar makes you think of Pilot on Magic and January.

Stars is in Easy Listening territory and features some great Slide playing, Friends Like That has a Toto like intro accompanied by a splendid Brass Chorus accompaniment. Ignorance Is Bliss has a melancholic beauty in it's stripped down way, with a wonderful Pedal Steel solo.

The album was recorded in London, Philadelphia and New York and that shines through with the influences on display. Boggia's presence glows too. But for all this variance, it's Terry's trademark pop that shines through on the magnificent, Emily Come Back, one of the best songs that you'll hear this or any year.

You can listen to and buy the album here. It is available on Vinyl, CD or download. The CD is available on the Kool Kat label in the States and Elsewhere here.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Semisonic - Feeling Strangely Fine 20th Anniversary Edition

20 years since Feeling Strangely Fine! Wow!  Released here in the UK at the back end of Brit Pop, Dan Wilson finally got the success that he deserved. He was no newcomer, almost 37 on release on this, the band's second album.

I'd got in to Trip Shakespeare in late 1986. I'd got really fed up of the UK scene, New Romantics was not for me and after brief respite courtesy of Glasgow, it became all dance nonsense. Through the 80's I'd concentrated more on the States and Canada and a few fellow music fans exchanged tapes via Pigeon Post.

One such tape had Applehead Man on it and I was hooked all the way through to the end. I still consider Lulu to be one of the great lost Masterpieces. After being dropped by A and M, Trip Shakespeare called it a day and via Pleasure, Dan Wilson and John Munson formed Semisonic with Drummer, Jacob Slichter.

Pleasure had released an EP, which was followed by the Semisonic debut album, Great Divide. The debut is a fine album, although it felt very different to the Psych of Trip Shakespeare. It was this follow up that hit the bucks.

It was aided by two big singles, Closing Time in the US and Karaoke favourite, Secret Smile in the UK. The album is a fine thing indeed, obviously the two great singles are present, but the rest is pretty dandy. The hypnotic keyboard riff of Singing In My Sleep, probably my favourite song on the album.

Never You Mind is Billy Swan Piano Rock, great Pop. This Will Be My Year, a Slichter Song, is all Jangle and Riffs at pace, it's an absolute corker. California simply weeps. All 12 songs stand next to each other wonderfully. Of The Four Bonus Tracks, Beautiful Regret has long been a favourite of mine, certainly hints of Trip Shakespeare here.

The band recorded one more album, 2001's All About Chemistry, a much lighter softer affair, that to be honest was sadly a tad dull. From there on, Dan Wilson went on to an excellent, if infrequent, solo career. However is work as a Writer and Producer for the likes of Dixie Chicks, Pink and Taylor Swift. He also wrote three songs on Adele's 21, most notably Someone Like You.

Fans will be disappointed to only have 4 Bonus Tracks added, all of them B Sides. It's known that there were around 60 demos for Feeling Strangely Fine, but only 20 were Studio Recorded and apparently, only these 16 mixed originally. But maybe the other four would have been welcome.

However, it is worth noting that the original album sound was really iffy, unfeasibly loud which distorted a couple of songs. I don't know if that was because of the mastering or the way it was recorded with the band. All that is solved here.

I know most of the cool people will already have the album, but the master is great and it's also available for the first time on vinyl. This is also a great time for a generation on to catch up on one of the great 90's albums.

You can buy the album on CD Download or Vinyl everywhere. The likes of Amazon offer a free download with a physical purchase. There are also still some Special related items available on the Pledge Music Site here.

Cinderpop - Bricolage

When Music Forums list inspired groups, I often rightly see The Sugarplastic, XTC, The Orgone Box, Ooberman etc, but I rarely see Vancouver's Cinderpop and I have no idea why. They are as equally important and at times more inventive.

Kevan Ellis remains one of the great underappreciated talents. Cinderpop's Back Catalogue stands comparison with anyone and for those of you who have missed out, Bricolage offers you the opportunity to repent and join the Church Of The Poptastic.

This is a Best of and includes their most recent 2017 recordings, Saline and Ephialtes And The Greeks. These two songs bookend the selection of what's gone before. The band's albums were always highly original, so gathering a selection of songs makes them seem even more eclectic and rightly so.

Dead At The Side Of The Road probably sums them up best, it's magnificent, but even that doesn't give you much of an inkling of what you are about to witness across the other 15 tracks. Yokahama and Yogi Bear are gentle Psych Pop, Oliver 8 and Blonder are in your face Indie Rock Outs.

Bumblebee is like a Psyched Up They Might Be Giants, Cinnamon Winter and Folding Time are in The Sugarplastic Territory, the latter almost Prog. Bastion Cooper could be The Orgone Box, Ephialtes And The Greeks is Folk Rock.

What you have here is a collection that would grace anyone's collection and is guaranteed to get you raiding the internet to find their back catalogue. Carlsberg don't do bands, but if they did they'd probably be Cinderpop.

You can listen to Bricolage here and buy it at all good establishments.

The Sunset Spirit - Sometimes EP

One of the biggest surprises from last year were The Sunset Spirit. The debut album, From The Top, was refreshingly great Pop Rock and against all the International competition, only the magnificent Chris Price album beat it to the I Don't Hear A Single Album Of The Year. In any other year it would have won.

Not content with that, the single, To Have It All, also finished as Runner Up in Song Of The Year. Beaten only by Sparks in that section, it is amazing for a debut offering to feature so highly in these parts. You can read my review of From The Top here.

I'm delighted to report that the band are back and Fife's finest have expanded to a six piece. The new 5 Song EP, Sometimes, is more of the same, but with a much expanded sound. The addition of a Lead Guitarist has really fleshed out the sound, particularly on Time To Shine and especially on the magnificent, Mary Jane.

The Organ is still plentiful and Stuart Shields Vocals are as Spot On, again a cross between Glenn Tilbrook and Neil Finn. However. it's the sound that grabs you. The killer riff on Mary Jane, Better Man is wonderfully melancholic, You're Alright has a Classic Rock Feel, particularly on the closing Guitar solo.

Get It Right is the only thing that betrays their roots a little, it's almost Runrig. Anyone thinking that the debut album was a flash in the pan can feel reassured. The Sunset Strip have got bigger and better.
Sometimes is available to buy on the likes of iTunes. You can also listen to it on Spotify here or Apple Music here.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Ken Sharp - Beauty In The Backseat

No waiting around for a decade for the follow up to New Mourning. Two years on, Ken Sharp releases Beauty In The Backseat. My review of New Mourning covers a lot of Ken's background, you can read that review here. This allows me to concentrate on the job in hand, that being this splendid 2018 affair.

Sharp is very much known Power Pop wise, but Beauty In The Backseat provides much more than that. It feels far more at home in the Pop Rock world of the 70's in all that it does. The 16 songs here last for an hour, something not usually the case in Power Pop and the slightly longer songs allow much more in them.

The style, arrangements and sound are very much into that Post Glam Rock world. Albums that appealed to Mum and Dad as much as the kids. Here in the UK, those albums were gathered up willingly, think Pilot, Jigsaw and even 10cc.

There are quite a few guest appearances here. Ace Frehley riffs on Rock Show, Kasim Sulton adds vocals to Mona Lisa Smiles. Ruti Celli plays some wonderful Cello on The Day That David Bowie Died and even the magnificent Marshall Crenshaw gets involved on Miracle.

It's also quite a coup to get John Oates in on the act for Philly Kind Of Night and nice to hear IDHAS favourite, Rob Bonfiglio on Backing Vocals across the album. For all these appearances though, the greatest plus point is the involvement of Fernando Perdomo. The man never seems to sleep and I don't think that I've ever heard a bad song that he's on. He plays on all of the album and Co-Produces and it shows.

There's a real Summer feel to the whole album. That Philly influence can be heard at times, but it's the Pop that shines through. Pull The Strings is pure John Miles, The Hardest Part is very teeny bop David Cassidy and there's also a song about Cassidy present here, that is much more Jangly though.

You can imagine Sharp playing Ring On Your Finger on Soul Train, the same applies to Sinking. Miracle is almost Motown. Lemons To Lemonade will appeal to most, but it's Mona Lisa Smile that hits my buttons most. You can imagine it in a Partridge Family episode.

The album marches on from New Mourning's welcome return. It's far more Philly Sound than that album and very very 70's, but it works beautifully. It's a corker of an album that should be added to your collection.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about all things Ken Sharp here.

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 55

Ok it's about time that we got the weekly hour long thing back on the road with Volume 55 after a fair break. This will now only appear on Mixcloud to make things easier to find. The format is still new songs in an hour long mix. No artist intros. I've thought of adding them, but people say they like the hour long no break model. I will sound out people if that needs to change.

The playlist details will be on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous adventures on Mixcloud here.

The new talky 2 hour radio show is a couple of weeks away, details will be posted on IDHAS and is completely different to this.

This week's show features 14 superb songs, ending with a magnificent 18 minute Rundgren-esque final song. Details of how to listen to number 55 are provided by the link after the playlist below :

01 Ex Norwegian - Good Intentions
02 Andy Bopp - Sure And True
03 Cursed Arrows - Near Death Daydream
04 The National Reserve - No More
05 Greg Pope - She's Already There
06 Groovy Uncle - Howard Eno
07 Matt Berry - Rainbow
08 McPherson Grant - Not My Cup Of Tea
09 Fever Feel - Lose Your Mind
10 Otto Niklasson Elmerås - It's Over
11 Hawk - Allison's Gone
12 Dennis Gurley - Every Other Summer
13 The Imperial Sound - Daylight
14 Nick Frater - The Sombrero Fallout Suite

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 55 

Friday 2 November 2018

Be-Bop Deluxe - Sunburst Finish Deluxe Edition (3CD and DVD)

One of the advantages of age is to witness the reassessment of artists that you loved when young. I remember ELO being largely disliked by the mass unwashed and at best being a guilty secret. Now everyone loved them all along.

Be Bop Deluxe are another example. To me, they were one of the best bands around. To many more, they were Second Division Rock. Bill Nelson was and still is one of the most innovative guitarists and although the band were incendiary live, you couldn't quite pigeon hole them.

Most Rock Guitarists didn't wear three piece suits or had short hair. Plus, the music was so diverse, in essence a sort of Sci Fi affair, but wrapped in Prog, Blues and Pure Pop. Nelson's Guitar Playing marked Be Bop Deluxe far in excess of average, bordering brilliant.

Now of course, everyone loved them, maybe they always did or feel guilty for missing them, hopefully many are discovering them. Sunburst Finish is the band's third album, a halfway point in their five album career. It's always probably the most accessible and maybe their best.

The Guitar solos of the first two are reined in, with a focus on the songs. Nelson still lets rip on Crying In The Sky and the magnificent Blazing Apostles took on a new life as a rock out live, it could last beyond 12 minutes. The former shows all you need to know about his axe hero reputation.

But the songs here veer more towards Pop Rock, beautifully so, particularly on the opener Fair Exchange, There's a ton of inventiveness across all eleven tracks. Ships In The Night is Pop Reggae, Life In The Air Age is Southern Rock. Sleep That Burns is a mix of the continental and Prog. Sunburst Finish is a masterful album, labelling Nelson as a Pop Rock star that you felt he never wanted to be.

Bill Nelson was not one to stand still. After the mixed reaction to the minimal BBD final album, Drastic Plastic, Bill Nelson's Red Noise was to virtually invent New Romantic and then head for an extensive solo career. His solo work encompasses Instrumental, Ambient and the odd Rock Out. All of it is wonderful and his prolific nature has cost me a lot of money over the years and is probably the best value for money that I've ever bought.

Esoteric have done a lovely job with the set. The 3 Audio CDs contain the remastered album and  2018 Stereo Mix plus outtakes. The third disc contains a 1976 BBC Radio 1 In Concert and a Peel Session.

The DVD contains the 5.1 Surround Stereo Mix plus Video from the 1976 appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test and the Promo Video for Ships In The Night. The Booklet is a 68 page extravaganza with an essay of Recollections from Bill Nelson.

Also included are a facsimile of The Sunburst Finish Tour Program, Postcards and a replica poster. This really is quite a set and a great testament to a fantastic band and a fantastic album. You can Pre-Order the deluxe version from Cherry Red here. There is also a link on that page to buy the cutdown 2 disc version.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Sgt Kipper : The Advent Of Todd Dillingham

At ASH, we have always been long term admirers of the magnificent Todd Dillingham. So I'm delighted that his brother Mick has written this article about how the musical adventures began.

Mick is a dear friend of mine. As a journalist, he is outstanding. People often complement me on the music I recommend and how much I know. Well I know less than half of what Mick knows. His consistent uncovering of great bands and artists is awe inspiring.

He has also been involved in all things ASH related from the very beginning, approaching nine years now. Mick hasn't been writing as much lately, which is a crying shame, I'm hoping this is about to change. You can find more of his work here

There is no better person to write about the beginnings of Todd's psychedelic delights than Mick.

Todd was always the classic bedroom musician, first and foremost. An eccentric outsider not really built for this big bad world of ours. He always loved music and for his fifth birthday got the latest Beatles album and by his teens he had a big record collection and went to a lot of gigs. He taught himself how to play guitar and was quite a superb player, but Todd being Todd, he never really did anything with it other than entertain us all with his ability to make up silly songs on the spot.

In his mid twenties he wrote a few songs, The Summer, Fading Just For You which he went into a tiny studio to record. But then one day he won a couple of hundred quid on the horses and went and bought himself a four track Tascam recorder. More brilliant songs started pouring out, matched by musical invention and quality playing. These home recordings, most of which remained unreleased, though a handful turned up on various releases, were staggering stuff and eventually brought him to the attention of Nick Saloman.

Art Into Dust was Todd’s first album, the bulk of which was recorded in a couple of days up at Mick Crossley’s (Flight Reaction) place in Saffron Walden with Nick Saloman (Bevis Frond), for release on the man’s Woronozow label.

Todd’s song Lament has already appeared on the fourth Ptolemaic Terrascope EP, given away free with the magazine (and played on the John Peel show!). Another track Reality appeared on the Woronziod sampler. Todd also played his first (of only ever two) live appearances with a short acoustic set supporting The Bevis Frond at an all dayer at The Dome in Tufnell Park. He was very nervous and sat on a stool during his four song set.

Twink, the legendary drummer from Tomorrow, The Pretty Things and The Pink Fairies who happened to be in attendance that day and aware of Todd’s nervousness beforehand very kindly and spontaneously grabbed maracas and a tambourine and joined him on stage to play along. The crowd also got behind him and cheered and clapped after each number with warm appreciation.

Saloman had been dragging his heels for a few years over doing the album by then, so it was a relief when he finally decided it was time. No sooner had the recording been completed then Todd was given the chance to record down in Canterbury with the legendary Richard Sinclair, Andy Ward and Jimmy Hastings.

With some money from our Father, we headed down the Canterbury to spend five days recording at the same studio as Sinclair was using for the Caravan of Dreams album. In retrospect the studio was too big for the task, but an album’s worth of tunes was captured.

When Saloman found out about this, his nose got out of joint and he decided not to release Art Into Dust after all. A few months later, Voiceprint came on board wanting to release Wilde Canterbury Dream. On hearing about the unreleased debut they decided that it would be cool to release that as well, a few weeks after Wilde Canterbury Dreams. So Todd went from nothing to two albums just like that.

Expanding the original album for the Voiceprint release, Todd added a home demo, Am I Alone and two tracks recorded recently with Andy Ward in East London. Little Green Pears, with a young Canterbury based guitar player Nicky Johns and a mind bending 24 minute version of the Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive on which Andy shines like a thousand stars on the drums. This then was Todd’s second but really first album Art Into Dust.

Todd was very prolific at this point and the thousand pounds or so made from the first two Voiceprint albums was ploughed back into recording using small studios, first in East London and then another in West London.

Andy Ward (Camel, Caravan Of Dreams and later Bevis Frond) was the only constant, not only was he a lovely bloke to hang out with ,but one of the best drummers this country ever produced. The brilliant Terry Burrows a.k.a Yukio Yung of Chrysanthemums fame often came down over the next few years to lay some superb stuff down.

Andy got electric violin player Anthony Aldridge down to the studio a couple of times, one of them on  the same day that Rob Ayling of Voiceprint arranged Mike Wedgewood of Caravan/Curved Air fame to join in. First Mike and Anthony overdubbed their parts onto the Vast Empty Spaces suite that Todd and Andy had been working on that dominates the album of the same name.

Then Todd and Mike recorded Little Sister together that also made it to the third album. The musical highlight of the session was the epic prog monster Janus At The Gates of War, recorded live in one take, Todd and Anthony in the main room, Andy and Mike in the drum room. Peter Giles was the engineer (no not the Crimson bloke) and he was also a fine keyboard player always up for playing along.

Todd was never really Rock Star material but if you plopped him down in a modest studio, boy could he create, sometimes recording and mixing four or five songs at a session. Andy Ward was amazing and there was a synergy between him and Todd that meant that he easily and brilliantly kept up with the breakneck pace. 

Andy actually found refreshing when recalling the often interminable time spent in the studio with Camel. Like the three days spent sitting around in some big expensive studio, bored to distraction, while the engineer miked up the drums.  Todd’s approach to all the talented musicians he was fortunate enough to record with was straight forward and clear: just play entirely what you want to play and that was it.

Vast Empty Spaces came out on Voiceprint soon enough and sold out within a few months and the money from that helped continue the recording.

Todd had so many songs at this point and was writing more every week. As the recording sessions mounted up he would sort through the pool of recordings and compile the next album from them. With Bevis Frond’s offer to put out Sgt. Kipper on Woronzow and with so much great stuff to choose from, far too much for Kipper alone, the idea of self releasing Astral Whelks was born. It was released in a limited edition of 450 copies and was very much the sister album to Sgt. Kipper. With its potent blend of Psych, Prog and Folk Pop it remains many folk's favourite album by the man.

The opening three songs had already seen the light of day on various vinyl singles, but all were noticeably alternative mixes done at the time of recording. The next three tracks were from the same sessions with Andy and Terry blazing away. Janus also made its debut. While it and the title track were long prog epics, The Turquoise Mountain with Peter, Andy and Anthony was the biggest of all.

Based on the adventures of Brian Blessed’s attempt to climb Everest, the vocal version did not quite work, so most of the vocals were stripped away in a second mix (and the song redone as The Blessed One, which remains unreleased).

The Summer was one of Todd’s oldest songs and had already appeared on the Wilde Canterbury Dream album, dating from the very first real studio session Todd ever did a few years before. The version on Whelks was all new with Andy on drums and the only appearance of younger brother, Peter, on bass.

As a teenager Peter had been in Todd’s first and only attempt at forming a band, Coloured Rain (This was when Todd had just started writing songs seriously and he had a dozen or more gems already home demoed.) Unfortunately the other two members of the band (on drums and rhythm guitar) were low on talent and high on delusions of grandeur. After three or four rehearsals it became clear that Todd’s songs and those of the drummer, (who was a big Police fan and insisted on singing his third rate Police knock offs in a fourth rate Sting voice) where not really sitting well together

What sealed the band’s inevitable fate was a really useless, amateurish day up on Hampstead Heath spent "filming a video" or two with nothing more than a rented home video camera and with no thought of how it was going to be edited or any such important issues. Let's hire a camera and go up the Heath was the plan in its naive entirety. It really was a hopeless shambles. At one point two Italian girls who were there with a friend taking glamour photos wandered over to see what was going on with the video camera (quite a novelty in those days). The drummer basically bigged up the whole thing up and told them they could be in the video if they wanted, dancing along to one of his songs.

So while the band mimed along, these two dumb girls gave it their sexy dancing all. The other two band members thought it was great, (it wasn’t), the Dillingham brothers wanted to curl up and die with embarrassment. Later it started to rain and as they sheltered from it, the non-Dillingham members of the band started going on about the certainty of being on Top Of The Pops and playing Wembley within the year.

Todd and Peter left the band a few days after. Peter moved up north a while later and on one of his visits back to London, Todd thought it would be nice for him to pop down the studio and play bass on one of those Coloured Rain songs, The Summer, from all those years before.

Sgt. Kipper was the main focus though and a lot of the best recordings were earmarked for that. It was to be a full length cd and a double album on vinyl . Unfortunately some sort of technical snafu on the vinyl art meant that Todd made not one penny from the release.  

With no money forthcoming, the next studio was an even smaller affair and though some amazing recordings were produced, in the end we couldn’t even scrape together enough to continue even that. There was a EP and a ten inch for Pink Lemon but there was little money to be made from them.  A while later Todd got married and moved to the States and stopped making music until a few years back when he started up again.

Friday 19 October 2018

Modern Space - Flip For It

It will be no shock that I like an album by a Canadian band, what is most newsworthy is that a major label has got hold of a half decent band. Modern Space are not necessarily aimed at out demographic and Warners probably normally think that we buy all our stuff from Cherry Red and await the new "return to form" Paul Weller album.

So let's enjoy the fact that a band that we'll like will get some decent promotion and celebrate the fact that Flip For It will be right up our street. It's chock full of hooks that largely work. It is a tad shouty at times, but it is splendid pop.

Sean Graham's Ontario outfit are now a five piece and that has expanded the sound. There's plenty of hints of the likes of The Vaccines and The Killers in earlier time. Graham's vocals are suitably diverse enough to pull in an older crowd and the songs romp along.

Kaiser Chiefs spring to mind, although there is far more depth to Modern Space. Surprisingly to these ears, the single and title track is probably the weakest song amongst some really strong songs. The Strokes like riff on A Small Pocket adds to a great lyric. Just Quick starts with a great riff and develops into almost rockabilly.

There's plenty to enjoy here and Flip For It is well worth your attention. You can buy and listen to it everywhere. You can find out more about the band here.

Thursday 18 October 2018

Andy Bopp - Wherewithal

I mentioned how great Myracle Brah were in the review of Andy Bopp's previous album. Blisters And Thorns. That solo album is great, you can read the review here. But the even better news is that Bopp has moved on a pace since then and Wherewithal might just be the best thing that he's ever done.

The album reminds me a lot of Ian McNabb's latest, Our Future In Space. There are plenty of similarities. Melting Into Velveteen is interchangeable, it could be either's song. But the comparison is deeper, both will be compared to their previous band.

Yet their solo work is far deeper, far more fulfilling, but will get less attention than what's gone before. Bopp leans more towards Psych Pop. McNabb to Classic Rock, but the charm and ability is equal.Both have produced exceptional albums this year.

Sure And True is a wonderful example of how good Bopp is now, it's a killer Beatlesque chorus. Lonely Driver is Indie Joy, built around a funky bass riff. Push And Pull is pure Bowie, complete with Sax and some incendiary Guitar. It's a belter. Even the moody piano instrumental. April Is Near.

There really is so much here. The closer, Stranger Is Strange is all twangy moodiness, think Ian Hunter's The Outsider. Blind Faith is a haunting strum, it could make you weep, it's inspired. Shadow is anthemic in a Lennon manner.

These 10 songs contain so much in them, so many twists and turns in each. Beautifully arranged with some outstanding Guitar playing. You even find yourself singing along to the slower numbers. This is nothing like Myracle Brah and you wouldn't want it to be. Andy Bopp is at the top of his game. Wherewithal is a definite inclusion in my Top 10 of the year. Moody. yet incredibly melodic.

I can't recommend the album highly enough. You can buy it everywhere, including the likes of Amazon here. You really should!

Henry Chadwick - Marlin Fisher

I could say more about how great the Henry Chadwick is, but my great friend Dennis covered Marlin Fisher beautifully on his excellent Pop Record Blog. You can read his review here. I urge you to give the album a listen, you will be hooked. The album is right up our street.

You can listen to the album here. Buy it here and everywhere. You can find out more about Henry Chadwick here.

The National Reserve - Motel La Grange

I'm all up for surprises, there are too few of them and Motel La Grange caught me by surprise. It's a wonderfully constructed mainstream album and that caught me unawares. I'd suspected quite a bit of yee haw and what I got was a splendid album that resides more in Classic Rock territory.

Why surprised? Well usually as soon as I see a cowboy hat and a guitar, I run for the hills, hoping to avoid cliche after cliche of good ole boy lost love. Well I should shed my preconceptions, as I'm delighted to tell you that this is a cracking 38 minutes.I was sad when it ended and on it went again.

Yes there are country tinges, but these aren't many and are more than compensated by the rocking and ace song arrangements. Indeed the opener, No More, is a fantastic thing. It resides in some place between Springsteen and Del Amitri, it's a corker of a song.

The National Reserve are from New York, although you'd think that the five piece are more acquainted with Southern California or Nashville. Motel La Grange is a very American album, a real nod to the 70's. It's also a fine testament to the leadership of Sean Walsh. Great songwriting, a commanding vocal and some fine Guitar rock outs.

Although there are hints at times of a rocked up Eagles or a fleshed out Hootie And The Blowfish, the whole album stands firmly on the quality of the playing and some great Organ breaks. New Love smacks of The Outlaws, in fact there's a lot here that compares to that band without the excess.

I should open a closed mind a bit more. This album is a great listen, something that makes me wish I'd discovered it a little earlier. I can't wait for the follow up. You can find listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about The National Reserve here.