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Saturday 28 July 2018

Beaulieu Porch And The Wonder Of Psych Pop

I suppose I'm known more for Power Pop these days, but the true love of my life is Psych Pop. I suppose it crept up on me over the years and was the combination of collecting music since I was 11, having wise friends and also having a train spotter mentality to discovering music. I started with Glam and Prog at an early age and all roads have led to Psych Pop. My tastes are certainly less harsh these days, there's far more Pop than my 16 year old self would ever have allowed, but I still lose myself in Psych and Prog.

The trouble is in these internet days, there's a lot of it about and the ease and lower cost of recording music means there's plenty of dross amongst the great stuff. Plus, there is the likes of Modern Prog which is completely over produced, with each song a mission to show how technically great the artist is. It has no heart.

So what do we do with Psych Pop? How does it's joy reach the masses? It's a bit too left field and out there for many Power Pop and Pop Rock fans and way too catchy and slightly simplistic for the Psych Brigade. How do you capture the in between fans, they are out there, I know many of them and all the music magazines tell them about is a bit of a piece on great Psych Pop from the past. Indeed the likes of Mojo and Uncut are like my music collection 40 years ago.

Psych and Prog rely somewhat on the album format, it's what they've always done. However, more and more listeners listen less to albums and more to playlists. Psych Pop is suited to that 3 minute format, so how does it get on those playlists? Where can you go to listen to it? The internet is great but like shopping online, you have to know what you are looking for.

For the example of Psych Pop and how hard it is to get the music out there, I am using the example of Beaulieu Porch. You can read my review of the Sarum Sounds album here. The song links aren't active now, but I will direct you to the new compilation, Is., in this article. Simon Berry is a master of what he does and few do it better, but how many people know this? Answers On A Postcard..........

Berry made the first Beaulieu Porch album around 6 or 7 years ago, having finally exhausted the possibilities of the whole live band thing. After getting through about 60 different "band mates" he hit upon the perfect combination of just him. He thinks that possibly because he'd grown up in England's must unambitious unmusical city, he had no idea that there were people in the world that were interested in the same type of music as him.

He adds; "Up to this point, all I'd had in terms of a critique was the occasional ''that's nice'' ( which was well meant, but I could tell that my mum wasn't really all that interested...)". "So to be written about in such glowing terms was something that came as quite a shock. I've got loads of songs in my head. I'd still be relentlessly bashing away on my Boss BR 1200 studio now, if I hadn't overdosed it and killed it with my zealous, excessive psych pop shenanigans."

So why Psych Pop, I ask.

"I love big, ambitious, colourful music, as well as intimate, fragile, beautiful songs. It can be hard to define the reasons why we like what we like. I sometimes cynically wish that I could have been into more conventional music and had the commercial ability to write boring, repetitive songs that might have made me a giant bag of money"

"What I do have however, is my own little cottage industry. I do everything myself, all the recording and playing, the artwork, the promoting, addressing the jiffy bags and everything. You can only go so far as a one man band on Facebook though, so I'm always exceedingly grateful for people like yourself, who are kind and interested enough to give me a little nudge in the right direction."

"I love the fact that technology has made it possible for more people to make original music these days. I've an insatiable curiosity when it comes to new stuff, as well as old stuff which I may not have heard about. For me, the internet is a constant source of fascination, so far removed from my younger days, when all we had was Radio One and Radio Luxembourg, and OGWT for anything less mainstream."

This brings us to the magnificence that is the summary compilation that is Is. 24 songs from the Beaulieu Porch back catalogue that are available for the bargain price of £5 for the digital download or £9.99 for the double CD. Also included on the album is the new single, Simeon Touches The Ground.

Hot off the press, the Beaulieu Porch family and friends have released a wonderful double A Side as Gabriel Family. G.F. Summerset is poptastic as proven below and you can listen to and buy that and it's colleague here.

So now is your chance to prove that Psych Pop isn't talking in an empty room. You can listen to and buy Is. here.

Thursday 26 July 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 53

The last few weeks have been exceptional for Power Pop, Pop Rock and Psych Pop releases. Bird Streets and Mooner's albums are still to come in the next week or two, but you can hear something from them here. This week's hour has been one of the hardest, the long list was over 2 hours, so yet again, no archive tracks this week.

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Excitement is broadcast on KOR Radio at 8pm UK Time on Fridays, repeated at the same time on Saturdays. Due to increased popularity, a Monday Night Repeat has been added at 8pm.

You can listen to it here.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the other fifty two shows and two Xmas Specials here.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 Ex Norwegian - Making Deals
02 Bird Streets - Betting On The Sun
03 Ian McNabb - The Day I Learned To Say No
04 Pacific Radio - Weekend
05 Mike Viola - King Kong Hand
06 Danny Wilkerson - Enough For Somebody
07 Mooner - The Stand-In.mp3
08 Paul Steel - Last Guilt Trip
09 Custard Flux - The Hit Parade
10 The Over Unders - Lights, Camera, Action!
11 The Rectangle Shades - Running Out of Time
12 Jeffrey Foskett & Jeff Larson - Need A Little Summer
13 Nik Freitas - Rita Starpattern
14 Easy October - Knuckles Turn White
15 The Space Merchants - To The Edge of the World
16 Mike Gale - Everyday Hand Grenades
17 Manticore - Release Release

Ian McNabb - Our Future In Space

When I covered Ian McNabb's last album, Star Smile Song, I labelled it as Merseybeast II and I still think that. You can read the review here. In it I mentioned that it was more than a return to form and it is, sorry for the "return to form". That expression and "his best album yet" are reserved for Paul Weller reviews, that you realise are misinformed when you hear Weller's latest mediocrity on Jools Holland's Boogie Woogie Piano TV.

So where does Our Future In Space stand up as his next band album? Well after all that talk about splendid album trilogies of the 90's, we would appear to be in the middle of another wonderful trilogy, a generation on. Our Future In Space, rocks, but not at all gently. For those who like McNabb best in "in your face" band mode, I'm one, this is the album for you.

It's a natural follow on from Star Smile Song and at times like a harder rocking version of his self titled fifth solo album, still a fave in this household. It's not a complete rock out, Makin' Silver Sing, is as beautiful a song as May You Always, Throw The Rest Away is built around a weeping riff.

There are of course reminders of the past, how could there not be after more than 35 years of recording? The title track, Our Future In Space reminds me a lot, lyrically and in feel, to They Settled For Less Than They Wanted. There are also Icicle Works nods. Medicated Emma is Understanding Jane II, for me McNabb's best and most accessible song in a long while.

There are variations too. Supermoon is Psych Pop, The Day I Learned To Say No is wonderful Power Pop, something I'm very much at home with. My Accuser brings out images of Mexico or Spaghetti Westerns. I Can See Tomorrow is all noise and shouty, classic McNabb, something that gets lost at times in his acoustic voyages.

Aquamarine, the co-write with Peter Buck, is all jangle and reminiscent of the first Icicle Works album. I don't mind the cover of a Britney Spears song, although maybe I'd have gone for Piece Of Me.

McNabb has always had a masterful handle on Riffs and Choruses. What had been missing until Star Smile Song, was the lyrical wit and wonder of earlier work. Well it's back and it's back with a bang. SSS and this should be listened together as a reminder that talent will out. I've often said that the glory of my beloved XTC was that later albums were just as good as earlier triumphs. The same can be said of Ian McNabb.

I can't recommend the album highly enough. You can order the album here. You should.

Rob Bonfiglio - Trouble Again

Rob Bonfiglio is consistently great, whether it be his adventures with Wanderlust and The Skies Of America or his excellent solo career and Trouble Again, his fourth solo album, enhances that reputation. Bonfiglio has developed his own patch, somewhere between Hall And Oates and Matthew Sweet.

There's plenty of similar comparisons here, but the Power Pop is even sharper and the Philly Pop Rock, more melodic, more fleshed out even. Indeed there are times when the UK Pop Rock giants of the 70's spring to mind, particularly Pilot on Trouble Again's chorus and all of Spread The Feeling.

He's also managed to out Matthew Sweet, Sweet in a manner similar to Chris Church last year. Passenger Seat and Spread This Feeling are the type of sonjgs that Sweet seems unable or unwilling to write these days.

Gone and There Goes My Heart are pure Philly Soul. Love Over Hurt could be The Eagles. Mr No One is Melodic Pop is Pop Rock Of the highest order. , constantly changing direction, there's a hell of a lot in it's four and a half minutes. Hey Blue is almost Styx, a fine AOR Affair.

Trouble Again is all that you could want in a Pop Rock album. You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also buy an Acoustic Version of the album there and at Kool Kat here. You can also buy from the likes of CD Baby here.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Ex Norwegian - No Sleep

It's a never ending sense of frustration at IDHAS HQ that Ex Norwegian are not massive. If this were the Seventies, the momentum would have achieved this, but in these Spotify, one track wonder, move on to the next, albums have a hard time.

Roger Houdaille's Miami Beach trio deserve that success. This is album Number 9 in just over a decade and each has the happy knack of giving you what you want yet taking the music on a pace. No Sleep is great Pop Rock, albums that get made less and get heard in the mainstream even lesser.

Having two vocalists helps the variation. The decisions on who sings what are spot on. The sweet tones of Michelle Grand work beautifully on the likes of Marquee 1970's, a real stomp that you will have heard on the IDHAS Radio Show. Separately, Houdaille and Grand's vocals excel, it's also great to hear a joint vocal on the left field, Block.

The duo even get to sound all Deacon Blue on Triggered Weeknd. Grand's vocal on Maybe Next Time is Kirsty MacColl like. The whole album is a sort of best of 75 - 85 music wise, the new wave pace of Right Again is spot on.

Fernando Perdomo never seems to sleep and here he adds Guitar to Good Intentions and Making Deals. The former is a real Glam sing along, whilst the latter is the album's centrepiece. Making Deals is a real ear worm, all street attitude, it'll certainly be up there in my 2018 Review Of The Year.

The Perdomo solo on Making Deals is worth the admission alone. I can't emphasise how good the song is, so much so that it's the lead song embedded here. In a just world, people would be queuing outside record shops to buy No Sleep.  You'll just have to go second best and buy it where you can.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also buy the CD at Ray's excellent Kool Kat Emporium here.

Thursday 19 July 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 52

A break off from the backlog of Reviews to tell you about tomorrow night's Radio Show which is speeding it's way across to KOR Radio. 18 new songs for your aural stimulation. Thanks to my good friend, Sal Nunziato for discovering this week's Cover Photo.

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Excitement is broadcast on KOR Radio at 8pm UK Time on Fridays, repeated at the same time on Saturdays. Due to increased popularity, a Monday Night Repeat has been added at 8pm.

You can listen to it here.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the other fifty shows and two Xmas Specials here. Last week's IDHAS 51 will be up on Mixcloud later tonight.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 TGL - Hic Medeiros
02 Circa 62 - Two In The Clip
03 Danny Wilkerson - Too Much Of A Good Thing
04 V Sparks - Hollywood
05 The Davenports - I Don't Know What to Do
06 Jeff Whalen - Soylent Blue
07 Lannie Flowers - The One
08 Lovebites - Just Fall
09 The Speedways - In Common With You
10 Crystal Drive - Execute
11 Ex Norwegian - Marquee 1970's
12 The Stoplight Roses - Kronos
13 The Skullers - I'm Your Man
14 Optiganally Yours - How Do You Feel
15 Dave Paulson - My Old Man
16 Michael Slawter - Summer's Kind
17 Three Hour Tour - You Never Know
18 Valentine - Black Dog

The Speedways - Just Another Regular Summer

I get incredibly frustrated with the UK. I've stopped fighting on forums about Guitar Music being dead, Power Pop being irrelevant and that people won't attend gigs. If I see another Classic Band Poll, I will scream. What's wrong with now, build it and they will come.

So I'm delighted to be in familiar Power Pop Territory here and keeping up with a recent theme, The Speedways do not sound like something that comes from Nottingham or Leicester, home of The Junipers and Diesel Park West. We'll forget about Kasabian, because we like to.

Just Another Regular Summer is pure US New Wave Power Pop. Think 1979 - 1983, everything from The Beat and The Romantics to The Plimsouls. The Speedways are the brain child of The Breakdowns' former Guitarist, Matt Julian and I don't think I've enjoyed a Power Pop album as much since The Stanleys outing last year and to emphasise, this is from the UK, home supposedly of Grime and The X Factor.

This is no nonsense, Summer Pop, chiming riffs, big choruses, say what you've got to say and move on to the next, no extended mediocrity here. This is an album of a dozen 45's, each brimming with joy about the Power Pop staples of looking for or losing love.

Julian's Tom Petty like vocal suits the material beautifully and the arrangements are spot on, even to that wait for the solo moment. It's hard to pick a favourite song, but I am smitten by the Duane Eddy twang of One Kiss Can Lead To Another.

Lonely Girl is pure New Wave Synth twee, A Double Shot is Merseybeat, All I Want is Bubblegum Ramones. However, it's the straight ahead Power Pop of the title track and In Common With You that appeals most, simply because it's so long since I heard a UK band do it so well.

I've seen mentions that Just Another Regular Summer is a one off. I do hope not. This will be in the end of the year list. Highly Recommended. You can listen to and buy the album here. It's currently available for a bargain £6.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Cuddly Shark - Cuddly Shark

I've said before that away from IDHAS, I don't just listen to Power Pop and Pop Rock. I have a real love of both Prog and Left Field Indie. I'm also old enough to blab on about how it's not as good as the old days and blab on and on about Stiff and Postcard.

Well firstly, a big round of applause for Glasgow's Armellodie Records Label because they are the Stiff or Postcard now. In over a decade, they continue to challenge the norm, supporting a wide range of artists, all different and all deserved of a listen.

Cuddly Shark are certainly left field, you wouldn't believe that the trio are from Glasgow. They have far more in common with the States. Think B52's, They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Richman with a Beck like ability to go off on a tangent.

There's also a real wit to the band, akin to the like of Colin's Godson and The Bordellos. Hobo Rock is hilarious as are Name Dropper and Cover Band. There seems to be hundreds of different ideas fighting to get out in these wonderfully lo-fi set of songs.

That's not to say that there isn't plenty of Pop here. There is, Once We Were Two and Not Yet Three stand equal with any Indie Pop that you wish to name. Wash Off The Mash Tun is a real sing along, a bit like a Pop Punk fronting a Folk Rock band.

The Rhythm is a great hypnotic opening song and across these 13 offerings, you are taken on quite a journey. You could spend a half hour watching Emmerdale or you could be entertained and educated by listening to Cuddly Shark.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

TGL - The Grand Leve

I have been a long time admirer of Ulf Holmberg, the man never seems to sleep. As I mentioned in the review of the Crime Scene album here, he's more noted as a Guitarist, but he keeps cropping up on great Pop Rock Records. Crime Scene's album was one example, but the Longplayer self titled album remains one of my favourites and now this.

TGL are a trio consisting of Holmberg with fellow Longplayer, Goran Hjertstedt and Europe drummer, Ian Haugland. The Grand Leve very much mine 70's Pop Rock territory. Jeff Lynne constantly springs to mind, particularly with the arrangements, but Jigsaw, John Miles, 10CC also compare.

Valhalla Feast Of Sacrifice is pure ELO, as is Ride The Wind, All In The City is pure 10CC. But Hic Medeiros is great Chanting Folk Rock and the closing Instrumental shows what an exceptional Guitarist, Ulf Holmberg is.

I get frustrated at the amount of great Pop albums that are around in Europe that get largely ignored. Sweden is one of the most exceptional music scenes still around and TGL are just one example. This album is a fun packed 36 minutes. Highly Recommended.

I don't do streaming, the internet connection here isn't great and I find it hard to keep track of stuff. My Bookmarks are like Hampton Court Maze, but you can find the album on Spotify here and then go out and buy it.

You can also listen on You Tube. The playlist is here .

Gretchen's Wheel - Black Box Theory

The quality continues with album Number Four from Lindsay Murray's Gretchen's Wheel. Followers here will know that I'm a great fan. You can read my reviews of Behind The Curtain here and Sad Scientist here. There was also the show stealing Power Pop on the Sloan Tribute CD here.

Black Box Theory marks a slight departure for Gretchen's Wheel, all of it good. The songs seem a little darker, the guitar less at the forefront and it works beautifully for a number of reasons. Plus there is THAT Voice, it can melt a million hearts.

The songs seem a little sadder and the vocal more laid back. That lack of noise lets the songs breathe more to the point where this is probably Murray's best album yet. When a song like Tatyana rocks, it is gently, you listen to the lyrics more. Power Pop is often accused of being a one trick pony, total rubbish of course, but it is nice to hear arrangements that are different.

This is a fine collection of songs. I defy anyone to write a song better than Funny Thing, the songwriting standard here is incredibly high. The likes of Something's Coming and Untethered will become ear worms for a long time. The bar has been set incredibly high for Album Five.

You can listen to and buy the album here. It's also available as a wonderful Multi Splatter Vinyl and CD Set.

Roller Disco Combo - Things Under Control

If there are two scenes that I adored most, then it would be the Liverpool 80's and the Glasgow 90's. The first because I was there, the second because it reinvigorated my ears after the nonsense of Late 80's UK England when it became all about standing in a field or a warehouse.

Roller Disco Combo remind me of both, particular Teenage Fanclub and The Pale Fountains. The biggest surprise was that the five piece are from Barcelona. I know there is a vibrant Power Pop Scene in Spain and of course You Are The Cosmos, but I hadn't heard anything as jangly as this.

There's a real summer joy to Things Under Control. it's all so singalong, a great listen. There are hints of Psych Pop on When The Night Gets Dark, You Know is a bit early 90's Manchester, Those Days is a bit Brit Pop, but largely the emphasis is very much Jangle Pop and boy does the album Jingle.

You'll have heard When The Night Gets Dark on the IDHAS Radio Show and when I played that, I was battling with playing The Motor Of My Life. But all 34 minutes of the album are a listening pleasure. There are hints of Psych Pop and the closer, I'll Miss You hints at a future harder direction that they can do equally well.

Things Under Control is a cracking little listen, when it ends you want it on again. You can listen to and buy the album here.

The Foreign Films - The Record Collector

I was an early adopter of Bill Majoros and his magnificent Foreign Films adventures. So as I catch up on the pile of reviews that I'm behind with, it seems most fitting to start with the masterpiece that is The Record Collector.

It's been a long time in the making, previewed over that period by the excellent Record Collector Side releases and Majoros's superb additions to Steve Eggers's releases with The Nines. The culmination is this Triple album in all it's intended glory. It's Pop, but not as we necessarily know it, a journey into all things of that ilk.

This has certainly been worth the wait. The album veers off into all directions, but keeps everything melodic, inventive and so damn catchy. Just listening to Side 1 alone, Pop Rock, Prog and Orchestral Rock are taken in and the journey just gets better and better. Shadow In The Light could be Bolan, Junior Astronomer's Club could be Orgone Box and the beauty of the weeping She Reveals Her Heart cannot be over emphasised.

Kori Pop's vocals add a great deal to Side 2. Her joint vocals on Teardrop Town, which you can imagine Nick Cave writing and her lead vocal on Land Of A 1,000 Goodbyes which is all Lisa Mychols and benefits from Pop's Piano playing.  Broken Dreams is great 80's Power Pop, State of The Art is so Jon Auer Posies. Lucky is all jangly Psych Pop.

Side 3 is particularly Beatlesesque, notably Lennon. the exception being the haunting, A Foolish Symphony on which Kori Pop takes lead vocal duties on a wonderful arrangement. Side 4 is much slower, more moody and I'm reminded of great Singer Songwriters such as John Howard and Colin Blunstone.

On Side 5, the arrangements are varied, but very 60's Bacharach, Emily'd Dream is a cracking slab of Psych featuring Dialogue from Steve and Chantel Eggers. Summer Fades is a fine closer. Side 6 closes this extraordinary affair with the almost 13 minutes of Fall Of The Summer Heart.

Fall Of The Summer Heart is Psych Wonderment. Overall there is a lot of music here. It feels very much like one of those great Singer Songwriter albums of the 70's when Budget wasn't a problem. However, the variance never lets the album become boring. I must also mention the superb  Arrangements of Wim Oudijk, a man I miss greatly and who lit up my Psych Pop world with his chats and recommendations.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also buy the triple vinyl format from the same link. That's how I listened to it and if ever an album should be heard on Vinyl, it's this one. The album will also be released on CD by Ray at Kool Kat om Monday. You can order that here.

I've picked my favourite songs today here, but they change and this is an album that everyone will find a different favourite on.

Thursday 12 July 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 51

Tomorrow night's Radio Show has been sent to KOR Radio and so now for the big Review Backlog. Another Ace Listen this week. One Oldie and 18 Spanking New Tunes. Look out for an article on Sparks' Whomp That Sucker album in upcoming Reviews.

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Excitement is broadcast on KOR Radio at 8pm UK Time on Fridays, repeated at the same time on Saturdays. Due to increased popularity, a Monday Night Repeat has been added at 8pm.

You can listen to it here.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the other fifty shows and two Xmas Specials here.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 Sparks - Funny Face
02 Cuddly Shark - Hobo Rock
03 Asylums - Millennials
04 Weller - Boroughs
05 William Duke - Cue Up The Memories
06 Wilkerson - Let It Go Tonight
07 Downpilot - Historian
08 Ruler - Petrified
09 The Innocents - Strangers In The Park
10 Romantica - Dear Caroline
11 The Neon Brothers - Container
12 Sunshine Boys - Tripping Through Time
13 Young Scum - Sloth
14 Trust Fund - Carson McCullers
15 Templeton Universe - Never Seen
16 Weathers - I'm Not Ok
17 The Cheap Cassettes - Hieroglyphics In Lipstick
18 John Michael Hersey - How Do You See Me
19 We Are Muffy - Civil Service

Wednesday 11 July 2018

The Return Of The Reviews

The first half of the year has been a really strange one. I Don't Hear A Single has branched off into so many directions. Although, the Radio Show thrives, it's felt like ages since I wrote reviews in any quantity and there is a lot to review.

Every time I've set the time aside that time has been taken away by another meeting, another phone call, another something. These Six months seem to have flown and it has all been productive, but behind the scenes. You'll hear about some of those things in coming weeks.

Two things have sprung to mind. A lot of the conversations I have had in 2018 Part 1 have involved showing people what I do. Sound wise, I was largely armed with the two Best Of 2017 Radio Shows which best demonstrated the type of music that I enjoy and what I want others to support.

Those two continuous mixes have gone down so well that it's given me hope that Indie Power Pop and Pop Rock will eventually be rewarded for what it brings to the musical table. I've listened to those two Best Of's a lot and they still sound great. It made me realise how good 2017 was as well as as how little I've wrote about in 2018.

You can listen to those two broadcasts on Mixcloud and each is worth devoting a whole hour of your time to wonder how people can say Guitar Music is dead. You can listen to Part 1 here and my original IDHAS Post is here.  Part 2 is on Mixcloud here and on IDHAS here.

I'm also aware that I based all those End Of Year Lists on what appeared on I Don't Hear A Single and that I need to get Reviews up in quantity to be able to do that again at the end of the year. I'm also aware that artists must wonder what has happened to their review and I must remedy that.

The non IDHAS Music stuff that I do has grown and grown and has mentioned earlier, you will see some of the fruits of that in coming months. But this outside stuff has kept me away from what I most enjoy which is reviewing new music and I hope you've missed me as much as I have missed you.

I Don't Hear A Single is about Reviews and Radio and New Music.

So for the next few days, I am locking myself away from Phones, Email, Social Media, Skype, Voice  Conferences etc and relying more on Pigeons and Whippets. The backlog of Reviews will start to be addressed. You'll only see me on Social Media to promote the completed reviews.

You'd better get your wallets ready, there is a lot of new music that you'll want to buy.