Monday, 29 July 2019

John Howard - Cut The Wire



It's been really remiss of me to take until now to review John Howard's 16th album that was released earlier this year on the splendid You Are The Cosmos label. I'm a big fan of the man as you can tell from my review of his last album, Across The Door Sill, here.

So with the Digital release of the album coming up, a week today, I'm now given the opportunity of finally extolling the virtues of a wonderful album. I compare Howard to Ian Hunter a lot. Both are very different artists, but both have aged gracefully and are producing exceptional recent albums, which are very different from what they became famous for.

John has never stood still from his early days comparisons as a Man With A Piano and the endless Elton John comparisons to the modern day reflective Singer Songwriter tag that he masters with ease. Cut The Wire doesn't disappoint. It's beautifully written and performed.






The album isn't as deep as Across The Door Sill, but the mellowness doesn't bury the knack of his songwriting. Here, he seems far more pensive, but at the same time, very optimistic. Keep Going Angel is an absolute singalong joyous affair and stands up with anything that he's produced. All this whilst in the fifth decade of his career.

The exception to this positiveness is the magnificent Becoming, the song can bring a tear to the eye, particularly relevant to an old cynic such as I. Cut The Wire, as a title track, is also incredibly moving and this is counter balanced by the jauntiness of Idiot Days.






We Are is McCartney ballad territory and Long Since is pure Al Stewart. The song craft here is gobsmacking in it's splendour. There's a lot of admiration for 70's Singer Songwriters, but the few who still perform are largely on Greatest Hits Tours.

I defy any of these peers to write an album as good as this and to be as relevant. It would be easy for John Howard to dine out on occasional performances of Kid In A Big World. Why the hell should he, when he still writes albums as good as this?






Cut The Wire will be available on all Digital and Streaming Platforms from Monday 5 August. It can be pre-ordered now on I-Tunes here.

A special mention should also be given to You Are The Cosmos, a fantastic label that supports some incredible artists and keeps Physical Copies of Music alive. You can still order the CD from them here.


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Sunday, 28 July 2019

Charlie Rebel - The People's Republic Of Earth



Having avoided the Power Pop forums for quite a while because of the endless Is It Power Pop rubbish from people who don't own an album that was released in the last two decades, this is Power Pop. I see this splendid debut album described as Punk by many. Well if so, it's not as we know it.

It's lovely to hear such an upbeat album from and Australian band, it's a country that seems to have gone quiet recently, particularly Guitar bands. Charlie Rebel offer up a real chirpiness couched in the lyrics of political discontentment.






There is plenty here to enjoy. There are hints of Pop Punk, even ska on Do You Know, but the feel is very melodic pop with hints of the UK New Wave. Deja Vu has a Funk vibe and Uncommon Law is tribal, but all in all, this is great Guitar Pop, delivered at pace.

The likes of Chutzo Creature and Sleepless Minds are built on big riffs and singalong choruses. Hooligans is a ringer for early Cheap Trick. The People's Republic Of Earth is great Power Pop and yes, it's OK to call it that. This Queensland Trio have done well.






You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Cagework - Cagework


I'm constantly bemoaning the lack of a proper UK Scene, it's become so regional and the dearth of great guitar bands breaking through because of it. Well, the London Trio, Cagework, are an exception to the rule.

Imagine if those first two XTC albums without Barry Andrews and you've got a fair idea of the rooms that Cagework inhabit. Sam Bedford masters the Andy Partridge part wonderfully well, mixing the shouty whilst the melody springs up around him.






You'd call the self titled debut a mini album, seven songs in just over 15 minutes, but not one second is wasted. Although, the first single of the album, Wilson, is splendidly direct, it's deeper into the offering that you discover the real beauty and charm of the band.

There's a touch of melancholy present and the guitar is admiringly angular, but the songs shine through. 23 is a monster of a song, Trust has a killer riff and Valuables is slowed down Psych Pop. It's a long time that I've been so impressed by something new.







I can't recommend the album highly enough.  You can buy and listen to the album by following one of the links here.


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Saturday, 27 July 2019

I Don't Hear A Single Audio Extravaganza Volume 75



After all the excitement of Volume 74 attaining the dizzy heights of the Mixcloud Global Indie Chart, here's Number 75, hoping to repeat the same. 21 corking songs to get those toes tapping.

Following comments, I have been alerted that Mixcloud doesn't show the playlist. I hadn't realised this as I see it when I log in. Mixcloud insists that the songs are mixed continuously, hence being unable to tag individual songs. Until a proper solution is found, I will put the playlist in the comments each week.

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

Thanks as always to Jim for his technical excellence. The playlist is as follows  :


01 Remo Drive - Two Bux
02 Mannequin Pussy - Drunk II
03 Anton Barbeau - don'tforgettogetyourfingerwet
04 Custard Flux - Cirque D’enfant
05 The Vapour Trails - Shatter The Sky
06 The Magic Es - Into The Fading Light
07 Lost Ships - Best Laid Plans
08 Tiny Fighter - Tell Me
09 The Armoires - When We Were In England (And You Were Dead)
10 Criminal Hygiene - Private Screening Heroin
11 Kaiser And The Machines Of Creation - Blown Away
12 The Junior League - Adventureland At Night
13 Scott Gagner - Baby Gets What Baby Wants
14 Hurricane #1 - Ordinary Summer
15 Ummagma - Blown
16 Broken Down Golf Cart - Full Hotel Weekend
17 Good Days - Blue
18 Dz Deathrays - Still No Change
19 Redd Kross - What's A Boy To Do
20 The Morning Line - Nostradamus
21 Chris Von Sneidern - Grow Up & Start Having Fun



IDHAS Volume 75 Mixcloud Link 



Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Local Drags - Shit's Lookin' Up!



I'm a big fan of Starter Jacket's Decisions album from last year and Lanny Durbin and Matt Sailor are present here in the offshoot, Local Drags. Where as Starter Jackets leaned more on 80's Power Pop with plenty of Pop Punk. Local Drags are far more straight ahead.

There will be comparisons with The Replacements, aren't there always, but Shit's Lookin' Up nods more towards the likes of Cheap Trick. They are at their best when the pace quickens up, Trash Bones being an obvious example.






Plot Holes is classic FM material, a real guitar-athon, even the slowed down Metal Guitar Winter has a mini Guitar orchestra. Plot Holes is the real gem here, it's classic Power Pop, very 70's New Wave, in fact wonderfully so.

Overall there's a real 70's feel here and the album is Ramones like in it's say what you've got to say and move on to the next song. 10 songs, 22 and a half minutes and get the next album out. This is a really impressive debut and begs the question of which band has more legs. Perhaps a mixture of both is the answer.







You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Mannequin Pussy - Patience



Mannequin Pussy's third album still as some of the shoutiness, but beneath the noise, there is a tenderness itching to get out. The Philadelphia quartet certainly have the chops needed to break out and in Singer, Marisa Dabice, the band has an exceptional Front Woman.

There will be comparisons to the likes of Garbage, but the feel is far more Catatonia, particularly on High Horse. Those Cerys Matthews comparisons continue on Who Are You, although it sounds more like a Sleeper song.







Who Are You also has a wonderful change of pace part way through, it's a gem of a song. Fans of the previous up and at 'em direction, fear not there's still plenty here for you. F.U.C.A.W. is pure attitude. But it's those melodic moments that shine through most.

Drunk II, Patience and In Love Again are just oozing with charm, built on Riffs, they'll easily translate into Live faves. The one concern for newer listeners is that there is marked difference between the noisier rants and the calmer song structures. Get over that, there's plenty here to love.






You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Monday, 22 July 2019

It's Not Just About Mop Tops And Hipsters



The Liverpool Live Scene is incredibly frustrating at the moment. There were some interesting points made over the weekend by my good friend, Anthony Loman, about how Manchester has a far more diverse Live offering than Liverpool. It's not about the number of venues, because there's not a lot in it, it's about who is appearing at the venues. Before people have a go at Anthony, he lives in Liverpool. Likewise, people may accuse me of pining for the old days, but remember I primarily write about the new, so why would I naturally want to become nostalgic.

There are these rose tinted glasses wearers who will stand for no criticism of the city and don't get me wrong, it has improved. I remember days of being frightened of walking under the Lime Street Subway and not straying off the beaten path. Like many cities, we have some fine venues here that are under utilised, the days of The Royal Court and Liverpool Empire filling up for gigs are gone and you sense that bands only play the Liverpool Arena because they can't sell out the Manchester version.

Liverpool has become a weekend tourist city, it's the tacky hen party reputation that excels and musically it is caught between two stools. There is Mathew Street and its Beatles Tourism. Endless Merseybeat and its I Love You, Yes I Do repeated nonsense and getting pissed during the extended happy hour drinks prices. Both of these enhance Liverpool's reputation as the British Benidorm. Bands that want to play The Cavern when it isn't the actual Cavern. Then there is the scene away from the Fab Four. A world of hipsters.

These hipsters would have you believe that music began with Brit Pop and will rant if Oasis are beaten in a poll by The Beatles. They worship at the throne of Steve Lamacq, as though he was ever responsible for anything breakthrough. Instead of realising that Brit Pop ended with the atrocious Be Here Now album, an album that became last years copy of FIFA within a year, they celebrate it as a masterpiece and Liam Gallagher as the only living legend. Anyone who criticises this view is an old fart.

These are the people who are driving the current Live Scene which is mediocre to say the least. The venues are not well attended because frankly the offering is poor. True, I may be at an age where I've seen a lot and so can compare bands to previous decades, but I've never done that. I'm not anti Brit Pop, quite the opposite, but I am anti Oasis, because they just don't deserve the adulation. I left school as the second Liverpool Wave was taking hold and it was a joyous time, frightening but exhilarating. I don't wish I was born earlier or later.

I'm a Beatles fan, but not in a blinkered way, I remember watching the All You Need Is Love Telecast because of the excitement around, but as a four year old, details are sketchy. But I discovered The Beatles fully by going backwards, encouraged by my Dad. That second Merseybeat Liverpool era encouraged that, it wasn't trying to smash the system, it encouraged you to discover the old as well as celebrating the new. You made so many lifelong friends, new people all the time, it wasn't, as it is now, about being in a gang and liking the same thing, it was about enjoying music.

What amazes me now is that we don't celebrate that 77 - 93 scene, it's almost forgotten. I'm sure that a line up of three of the bands would sell out the Liverpool Venues. It seems a forgotten era and it was a fantastic melodic time. It was a dire time in the city, but these bands gave people hope and something to believe in. It wasn't about taking photos at the gig, what food you had before was irrelevant and everything wasn't Boss.

These bands wouldn't be seen dead at a Rewind Festival, but they are still around or easy to reform and they wipe the floor with the current scene. They didn't mingle with the fans, they didn't need to, it wasn't about celebrity, it was about Music. I underline that I don't yearn for those times again, I just despair at what the Liverpool has become, music wise. It's time to look at the reasons why people don't attend gigs, not just blame them for a lack of taste. There are a lot of things fighting for people's money, the music offering has to be enticing, it isn't at the moment.



Thursday, 18 July 2019

Anton Barbeau - Berliner Grotesk




I've been a fan of Anton Barbeau for more years than I'd care to remember and those who have known me for a while will know exactly why. The musical spectrum that he covers coincides with my own tastes. Despite all the jangling chords here, my true love is Psych, particularly of the pop variety.

Barbeau is from Sacremento, but lives in Berlin and you can tell that in the songs present here. The Pop is bursting to get out. yet the undercurrent is more mechanical, dripping with Psych. A great example is Baby Can I Hold You, a pop masterpiece in the making.







His connections show both his range and his influence. Colin Moulding, Kimberley Rew, The Bevis Frond and Scott Miller. His 2006 album with the latter, What If It Works? is a masterpiece. He also produced Allyson Second's splendid Little World. You can read that review here.

Then there is the associations with the likes of Mystery Lawn Music, You Are The Cosmos and Big Stir. You get the full scope of his variety on Berliner Grotesk. The chaotic Love Song that is the title track, with it's fairground darkness to the Beatle-esque closer that is Boxcat Blues.








There are a thousand ideas here , all fashioning up bizarre visions with the lyrical excellence. Then there is the fantastic, don'tforgettogetyourfingerwet, one of the best songs that I've heard all year, hints of Robyn Hitchcock in a Chinn And Chapman frame.

Here, more than any other Anton Barbeau album, the base is great Pop. There are the usual fine Psych journeys. but it's the melody that springs out. 11 songs in a magical half hour, this a cracking listen and highly recommended to all.







You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about Anton Barbeau here.


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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Super Low - Super Low



Memphis Five piece, Super Low have released their self titled album and it is poptastic. The album feels just right for the Summer, it's really chipper, however there is far more inside than just songs for the Beach.

There's a real Glasgow Pop feel to the whole thing and that Brit feel continues with song titles such as Brighton and Lancaster. IDHAS is normally largely about the Guitar and although there is plenty here, the songs are based more on keyboard runs.






On first run through, I was reminded a lot of China Crisis, although repeated listens reveal far more instrumental depth in the songs. The Jangle of Along underlines just how easy the whole album is to listen, it's a crackerjack of a song.

Hook after hook enhances some fine choruses, Super Low don't go for the throat, they rely on songs becoming real earworms and achieve this with many of these 10 compositions. This is great great pop. This album is certainly going to feature in the end of year Best Ofs.







I'm often accused of not paying enough attention to UK Bands, that was never the intention, but being honest, the scene here has become too London-centric and the Blog following is 80% non UK. My reply to UK comments is to say make an album as good as this and it'll be covered.

Beginners has a Nick Heyward stomp, Wasp A Needle is classic UK Indie and Runners Up has a yee haw undertone. Unlimited Data is a reminder of ace pop from the likes of Lightning Seeds, Dodgy and The Bluetones. The band even master the Brit Pop anthem with Silver.








Ten outstanding offerings await you here. Super Low is a splendid affair. I can't recommend it highly enough. You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Monday, 15 July 2019

I Don't Hear A Single Audio Extravaganza Volume 74



Another Edition of the Ear Tingling Delectation that is I Don't Hear A Single's recommended current must listens. One Classic Track and 20 new ones.

Following comments, I have been alerted that Mixcloud doesn't show the playlist. I hadn't realised this as I see it when I log in. Mixcloud insists that the songs are mixed continuously, hence being unable to tag individual songs. Until a proper solution is found, I will put the playlist in the comments each week.

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

All these gems are awaiting your attention. The playlist is as follows  :


01 Cotton Mather - 40 Watt Solution
02 The Hold Steady - Epaulets
03 Minor Poet - Tropic of Cancer
04 Hi-Ranger - I'll Never Know
05 39th & The Nortons - 21.01
06 Skids - Animation (Acoustic)
07 Sewage Farm - Misery Loves Company
08 Sugarspun - Never Grow Old
09 Gyllene Tider - Vanliga Saker
10 Custard Flux - Echo
11 Lolas - A Dozen Or Seven Tapestries
12 Richard X. Heyman - Long Way Down
13 Nine Violets - The Last Man Standing
14 Ian McGlynn - Abandon The Morning
15 The Reverberations - Levitate Away
16 Rainbow Danger Club - Treehouse Empire
17 Super Doppler - Clear
18 Whalewolf - Thorny Crown.mp3
19 Supercrush - I Don't Want To Be Sad Anymore
20 Abbie Ozard - Growing Pains
21 Paul Den Heyer - Clear Sunlight View


IDHAS Volume 74 Mixcloud Link 


Saturday, 13 July 2019

In Praise Of......................................Terrorvision


IDHAS normally covers the new and underappreciated, so Terrorvision easily fall into the latter category. They have a fan base every bit as loyal, if in much less quantity, as Rush. Where many from the same era have fallen, they remain a fine live draw.

My thoughts on Brit Pop are pretty well known. It's known now, essentially, for The Gallagher Brothers who made one and a half great albums, whilst being possibly the most boring plodding live band of the times. Too many people think Rock Music begins and ends with Oasis.







By far the most interesting part of Brit Pop was the Pop around the edges. I could name these bands, but the tasteful amongst you already know them and we've recently covered The Supernaturals, so you know the direction that you should be heading.

However, the band that have stayed with me longest have plenty of pop sensibilities, but can be and usually are, a much heavier affair. They have the great front man in Tony Wright and Guitar hero in Mark Yates and Live can wipe the floor with most.







But it's the songs that stand up the most. I'm a massive fan, a completist in a way that I am with very few Brit Pop bands. Wit drips from those songs and although there is a centre of hard rock, these songs are coated in big choruses. Even Rap Rock verses have to lead into a big chorus. Formaldehyde was a great debut album, but it's the two that followed that hit pay dirt.

How To Make Friends And Influence People hit the Teen market. they even appeared on the likes of the Smash Hits Annual Awards. The Rap verses of Pretend Best Friend contrasted with the pure Pop of Middleman, These were two of five (count em') singles from the album, another of which was the mighty, Oblivion.







1996 saw the third album enhance the band's reputation. Four more great singles were released, again providing great variety. The sing along blasts of Celebrity Hit List and Perseverance contrasting with the String Laden, Bad Actress and Terrorvision have never been frightened of a ballad.

Two years later and Shaving Peaches appeared. Another great album and I will always remember the kids jumping around on CD UK to the LBGT sensibilities of the magnificent, Josephine, my favourite Terrorvision song. A Mint Royale Mix of Tequila gave the band a whole new audience and graced the UK Charts Number 2 slot.







2000's Good To Go is an album that gets ignored unfairly. There's great variety in the songs, even though the Guitar is turned down. Fists Of Fury is a fine song. Then after a final Tour in 2001 during which the mini album, The First And The Last, was sold, that seemed to be that.

But the demand for the band's live performances continued and so we got them back periodically with Live albums to accompany tours. Then in 2011, a self financed new album appeared. Super Delux is a fantastic album,as anything with a song has good as Demolition Song on will be.








The band still tour and you can buy the new live album, Party Over Here, from the band's website here.  Back Catalogue wise, all the albums can be found for download etc at the usual places. CDs are easy to find on the likes of Discogs.

The main exception is Super Delux on CD which fetches a fortune now, but the download is available. Compilation wise, Essential Terrorvision is a 2 disc affair that you can pick up for less than a tenner. The main thing that I would advise though is to get to see them Live, you won't be disappointed.


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Thursday, 11 July 2019

The Brothers Steve - #1 (Including Video Premiere)



Here's a first for IDHAS, an exclusive premiere of The Brother Steve's new video. Before all of that though, I'd like to tell you a bit about the upcoming album, released on 27 July. I can tell you that it's the best thing that I've heard this year.

Now that's a statement that you'll hear from many all the time. However, I'd qualify this by stating that I should know what I'm talking about with all these years on the clock. I like to think that I know what I'm talking and this is just the shot in the arm that Power Pop needs.

I have to say that this year has been a real bore, Power Pop wise, so much so that I've stepped away slightly. I've grown tired of Beatles Suits, Rickenbackers and I Love You Do, Yes I Do lyrics. I just felt that the genre needed a shot in the arm or it would be forever conversations about Big Star, Badfinger and Raspberries.

#1 is the shot in the arm that Guitar Pop needed so badly. People, familiar to me, will know how I drone on endlessly about how Tsar's self titled debut album deserves to be in the 10 Best Power Pop albums of all time, well The Brother's Steve features three of those Tsar fellows and this album is every bit as good.

Without further ado. here is the Premiere of the band's second video, Angeline, this will appear worldwide on Monday, but you have the opportunity to get ahead of the game.






Tsar stalwarts Jeff Whalen, Jeff Solomon and Steve Coulter are joined by Os Tyler and Dylan Champion in the Los Angeles five piece. In stating that the album is as good as that Tsar debut, it must be said that it's not the same.

There is a much different tempo here. the band are in much less of a hurry to get to the licks. #1 has far more in common with The Monkees and great late 60's Pop. The album is built on the wonderful vocal harmonies and singalong choruses.

We Got The Hits feels like something from a Hanna Barbara cartoon, those pesky kids etc and throughout there is more than a hint of Bubblegum Pop. That sound with doses of UK Glam Rock offers up a real poptastic experience.





Having three vocalists in the band certainly helps with the variety and of course those top notch harmonies. The lead double A Side released on the Big Stir label demonstrates that versatility. The "all join in" Angeline is backed by the far more sedate strum of Carolanne. You can buy that digital single here.

Carry Me's Jangle is like a popped up Teenage Fanclub, whilst C'mon Pappy has far more of a Southern Rock feel. My personal favourite is Beat Generation Poet Turned Assassin which has a fine call and response chorus and is a real toe tapper.







Good Deal Of Love is real SoCal twang and Sunlight ends the album with something far slower than what has gone before, again playing to the strength of those harmonies, getting you ready to start the album all over again.


There is excitement enough at the return of Jeff Whalen and the guys, so much so that the band would be forgiven if they phoned something in. This album is far far better than you could expect. It's Sunshine Pop of the very highest order.






You can find out more about The Brothers Steve and pre-order the album here. There will be more on the band with an IDHAS interview coinciding with the album release.


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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Supernaturals - Bird Of Luck (Song By Song)



We've been talking a lot on here about the new Supernaturals album. The only reason is that we are massive Fanboys and have been for more years than we'd care to remember. Following on from Mick's interview with James McColl (Which you can read here), James also gave us a Song by Song Breakdown of Bird Of Luck.

The CD is available to buy in the UK now at Amazon here and has a worldwide Digital Release on 1 August. There are plans to make the CD available in the States and I'll add any further details when the Bird Of Luck Review appears on IDHAS during the last week of July.

Here's James's words on the album's eleven songs :


Bird Of Luck

"This was a try at taking an old ska song and then straightening it out a bit. I play the saxophone on it and I like the part. Sometimes with sax and trombone, it’s just a couple of notes and it really lifts the song…the less fancy the more powerful. Tried to sing it in an old rock and roll voice like Gene Vincent with the echo. It’s just got lots of energy and is a really up song about my wife."


Negativity

"This is just a simple jangly guitar song, which I wrote quickly. It’s got those drums like “Ticket To
Ride”. It’s about that person who’s just always complaining. You know the kind."


Abracadabra

"We did this Radio Scotland show with Donovan a few years ago. Me and a friend Paul thought we needed to go and see him and chat to him, he’s a legend. So we knocked on his dressing room door and he was so friendly, telling us about his guitar design being based on the Book of Kells and just shooting the breeze and chatting for half an hour.

I was asking him about “Catch the Wind” and he said, “You mean the new version?” And I was like “what you recorded this year?” and he said “No in 1969!” He does speak in a kind of poetic voice like he sings, that’s a sort of mixture of Scottish, Welsh and Irish. I tried to sing this song in that voice. I got to play the bass on this one. It’s one of my favourites. It’s about my now wife putting little notes through my door when she was trying to charm me back in the day."


At This Time Of Year

Gav the drummer had a child, Kieran, who died in July. My Mum and Mark’s Mum both passed away in July and August. So this song is about July and that long mist of depression you get which just permeates your life when someone you love dies. Obviously Madness and Dexys are the big musical influences here."






Roberta and Zica

"This is about two lovers having a midnight tryst on a football pitch in Brazil to try and lift the voodoo that’s settled over their football team. They bury things like frogs under the centre circle and the goal mouth in Brazil. That’s why it mentions Flamenco and Vasco De Gama. Kev who engineered the album thought it was about Scotland. I think to lift that voodoo you’d need about 50,000 people shagging on Hampden at midnight and then it still wouldn’t lift."


Well Well Well

"The chords just came out of the blue one day when I was sitting at the piano playing some rudimentary grade 2 sheet music. Just a nice downer song about existential angst and longing."


Magpie

"A straight down the middle power-pop song. There’s a Magpie in my garden and it’s always trying to monopolise the bread that I put out for the crows. It seems to intimidate birds twice it’s size. That’s the girl in the song."


Veronica

"Back in 1994 when we were running around the Highlands, we all went back to this girl’s flat and took mushrooms. She was a hippy with all the stuff in the song, badly painted pictures of half man-unicorns, lava lamps with red scarves on them, healing crystals.

There’s lots of standing stones near where she lived and she suggested we should go out and “feel the power of the stones”. It was an electronic dance song on the demo, but the band played it like Creedence and we just went with that."






Chill Pill

"Derek wrote this one. He just stood up in the studio as it was getting mixed and started quoting all this poetry about “pieces of eight” “upturned boats on the shore” and “man in a Zoot suit”. It really enhanced the song."


Summer Girl

"Mark’s bass playing is really good on this one. I really like its slow dreamy pace, like something on the White Album."


Country 

"This song is basically about the natural beauty of Scotland. That, mixed in with stuff about my wife who is Mauritian/Scottish and her sense of belonging to Scotland and some of the things she said to me about belonging and not belonging. I don’t know if I got what I wanted to say over properly. I spend a lot of time mountain biking, fishing and windsurfing around the country and it’s an astonishingly beautiful place despite the midges and the weather.

I kind of like the fact that the weather keeps tourists out and people like me can have it to ourselves. It was hard trying to say something sincere and not go all Runrig on its arse with bagpipes and that. We tried to go like “Tupelo Honey” on it. Having said that if someone from the Scottish Tourist Board wanted to use it in an advert, we’d take the money and run!"



Saturday, 6 July 2019

Remo Drive - Natural, Everyday Degradation



Natural, Everyday Degradation is one of the best Pop Rock albums that I've heard so far this year. Noisier than the genre usually denotes, but to call Remo Drive Indie would lump them in with a mish mash of frankly inferior bands.

I mention this because the album has had a few negative reviews which seems to be par for the course when anyone supposedly betrays the Pop Punk Sound. I've said before that the best of that ilk have a melodic undertone that can and maybe should, be adopted to fulfil their potential.







I'm not sure that any of this criticism will bother the Paulson brothers, surely not when they called their debut album, Greatest Hits. The second album has really smoothed out the edges, whilst keeping the excitement and unexpected chord changes in tact. They are playing to a potentially much bigger audience and probably to one that's far more appreciative of what they are trying to do.

Even on a song as aching as Seperate Beds adds a Guitar breakout and ends as New Wave Synth overdrive. Around The Sun is wonderfully anthemic and The Truth is very UK 80's Indie. Two Bux is a killer single and The Grind is built for an Arena Rock stadium.







There are hints of bands as diverse as The Killers and The Undertones. Remo Drive could even be described as They Might Be Giants with a load of Guitars. Erik Paulson's vocals are a mixture of the commanding and the fragile. This is an excellent offering. Don't let anybody tell you different.








You can listen to and buy the album here.


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The Morning Line - North



I've had The Morning Line's album for six months or so now and the fact that I'm still playing it is testament to how much I'm enjoying it. It's been really remiss of me not to tell you about it before now, so here is me remedying that.

North doesn't shout out loud, it grabs you bit by bit, gently rather than full on. Songs build to bigger choruses, very much in the Matthew Sweet song craft style. Riffs are plentiful and hooks are many, but none are intended to have you racing for the air guitar.






That's no criticism of the album, quite the reverse, because this offering is built to creep up on you, it's all seemingly a plan to get these ear worms gradually into your head. There is a hint of Elvis Costello in the vocals at times, certainly on Sickness.

When The Morning Line get slower, the songs don't darken the mood, they still almost want to be your friend. Trigger The Tripwire is the exception with it's brooding excellence. Nostradamus is a real rock out and perhaps there should be just a tad more of this letting ago across the 12 songs. Yet the closer, Down The Aisle, has a great country whine.






The stand out song here is Anhedonia and that's were my only minor criticism comes. This really should have opened the album. Antennas, which does that job, is a fine song, but would have been more apt third in, it's a bit too slow building to be an album opener.

2019 has been a strange year thus far. It started great and now seems to have gone into it's shell. The Power Pop releases seems to be phoned in and the Psych Pop seems to be hiding. Current and upcoming releases can change that. I'm thinking Custard Flux and The Brothers Steve. I only mention this because it makes you appreciate an album like North more. It knows what it wants to accomplish and does it extremely well.






You can listen to and buy the album here. The CD Version is available from the outstanding Kool Kat here. Where would we be without Ray. Probably moaning about our Internet speed, because he seems to be keeping the Physical Format alive single handedly.


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Grenadeers - How To Fit In



There's a lot to like about the Grenadeers album.You sense that the Dutch five piece would love to be Queens Of The Stone Age, but How To Fit In is more akin to early Muse, before the histrionics and self love took hold.

I mention Muse because there is a melody and pop element bursting to get out, this isn't the one riff mentality of QOTSA. Indeed, the excellent Out With It And Without It could easily appear on those first two Muse albums.







There's a killer hook on Song For The Double Minded with a chorus that almost matches it. Gird is splendidly heavy and Trip Switch borders on Modern Prog. Cecile is more in touch to current day Muse. There are hints of Smashing Pumpkins, without the shouting and snarling, across the album too.

The overall feeling is that a dozen songs is a couple too many. I also apologise for the regular Muse references, it just underlines where Grenadeers are positioning themselves. I'm not sure if that train has already left the station  and there are many signs here that a slightly different commercial direction may provide something more rewarding for the band.






You can listen to and buy the album via one of these links.


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The Galileo 7 - There Is Only Now



We've been talking about genres as labels a lot recently, largely in places other than here, one in particular getting a lot of stick. Well, The Galileo 7 are often classed as Psych Beat and I can think of no better description, because the quartet are exactly that.

The Galileo 7 aren't trippy and backward guitar enough for Psych Pop, but UK Beat Pop wouldn't do justice to the work that goes into the songs. Imagine a Carnaby Street Club, Men with bad hair and Paisley Suits and mini skirted girls grooving on elevated platforms. It's a sound that is forever Medway and The Galileo 7 do it perfectly.






Allan Crockford has spent the past three decades in a lot of admirable bands. The past ten years have seen The Galileo 7 go from strength to strength and There Is Only Now is as strong as you would expect six albums in to be,

The band are far more than a vehicle for Crockford's songwriting, all four members handle Vocals and as a collective, I don't hear many bands that plays as tightly together. Live, they are a revelation. There seems a real Doors Of Perception feel amongst the songs. There is even a direct song reference on The Last Hours Of Aldous Huxley.







The Last Hours... is a wonderful acoustic bongo driven trip. Although there are no real surprises here, there's a feeling that you wouldn't want there to be as The Galileo 7 are masters of their genre, a song like Everything Is Everything Else sums up beautifully what they do.

What I found most affecting here are the two songs that Keyboardist, Viv Bonsels handles Vocals on.  Too Late and I Dream Of Sleep take the band in a much poppier direction, almost Kirsty MacColl. A special mention too for Drummer, Mole Lambert, I don't know how the man finds time to sleep.






You can buy the album here and everywhere. You can find out more about The Galileo 7 here.


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Friday, 5 July 2019

Custard Flux - Echo



Curvey is back with a second instalment of Custard Flux goodness. Mick Dillingham catches up with the great man to find out all about it and he gives us a track by track breakdown of Echo.


Another glorious Custard Flux album is upon us and like everything Eden Hall’s Gregory Curvey unleashes it’s a psychedelic treasure chest of wonderful songs, masterfully played and beautifully produced. Let us sit down with the great man and find out all about Echo. So straight off, why Echo?


"I initially intended to name the album after one of the elements, like Helium, and already had permission to use an entirely different painting by Gregory Chamberlin for the cover, but that Echo knob on the cover of the Helium Box Set wouldn’t let me be.  The box did have enough room for another CD, so I went with the idea of making Echo an annex to the Helium Box Set."


This time you brought some other players on board for the sessions.


"Having Tim Prettyman play double bass on the album definitely added a new dimension to the sound.  The acoustic bass I played on the Helium tracks sounded pretty close to an electric bass, even though I didn’t use an amplifier.

America happened to be the first track we recorded the double bass on for this project, and as soon as we finished laying it down, I couldn’t believe how the sound was spatially altered.  You can almost feel the double bass in the room on the whole record.  Tim’s son Walt received a degree in classical violin and toured with a gypsy jazz band for a few years.  He’s a phenomenal player, and I’m extremely pleased with his contributions to this record."


A  handy song by song break down of Echo might be called for about now, don’t you think?


Supernatural :

"Originally titled Supernatural Disaster, but that seemed a bit too negative and the world is desperately in need of positivity. It’s about my day to day struggling with the USA’s current political retardation, but I kept the lyrics vague.  The riff was one of the good ones I’d saved on my phone and I had the verse parts for a few weeks before the chorus finally came to me. Funny how that works. I love Walt’s violin playing on this track."

Echo : 

I was in my basement, working on the space where my stereo and records will one day be removed from their storage boxes and properly set up. I was listening to U2’s Boy album on my iPhone and reminiscing about that period in my life when new wave was fresh. Later that night, I was playing my guitar, while putting my daughter to bed and out popped the initial parts for Echo.  The original bones of the song got buried in some pretty distracting flesh."






America :

"Originally titled Babylon. I had all the melodies and parts worked out, but couldn’t come up with any lyrics for weeks.  When they did come, I was in my studio and they just rolled out. The first verse was about baseball, so I wrote the second about apple pie, both have lots of hidden meanings. I think America has some of my better lyrics.

Cirque d’Enfants :

"I wrote this song thirteen years ago, and just weeks after my daughter was born.  It didn’t fit with the tracks on the The Luck Of Eden Hall album I was working on at the time, and I tried to pull it out for a subsequent albums, but it never made it.  Not to say it’s a b-song, I really like it.  It just never worked until now."






Extraordinary Man :

"My good friend Tim Ferguson (The Red Plastic Buddha) came to Detroit for a visit and we had some fun in my studio. I took the best one that we did that day, and turned it into Extraordinary Man, which is written about one of my good friends that is transitioning from a man to a woman. Love everyone folks. Don’t judge."

Pink Indians :

"The folks that pre-ordered a copy of the Helium Double LP directly from me, got a chance to hear all the songs on Echo in various stages of creation as a bonus for their endearing support.  Pink Indians definitely went through a transition.

The original version was a bit too poppy and the song came really close to getting cut, but I stripped it down and reworked the rhythm section with a progressive beat and added vocal tracks. The lyrics are made up, but based on real experiences, including losing my girlfriend in India for a spell. I thought of those times when your child is briefly missing and you’re beating down the fears of all the possible bad scenarios and then suddenly there they are, smiling and safe."

Gold : 

"Originally titled Silver and Gold, but I just went with the element. Last summer I was repairing a rotted window sill on the second floor of my house when this song came to me.  I’d go up and down the ladder singing “heading to the mountains...and living off the land...”.  I wrote two complete songs around that stanza, both with different ideas, and couldn’t stand either version, until I started splicing them together, which altered the meaning of the lyric to my liking."






Suns And Daughters : 

"Another good riff I’d saved on my phone.  My friend Steven turned me on to My Friend The Sun, a really great old song by Family. I took my existing riff, sat down and wrote under the influence of the Family tune and this was the result.

My daughter went to Montessori School for a few years and on a child’s birthday,the teacher used to have them carry a little planet Earth in a circle, around a candle in a sun shaped candle holder on the floor.  I thought that was a cool ritual and was thinking of it when I wrote this song. The facts are true. We are travelling around sixteen hundred thousand miles per hour through space.




Echo is a magnificent, well worth your attention. You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Thursday, 4 July 2019

Extended Play

Hi-Ranger - Tire Town EP






Vancouver's Hi-Ranger offer up a fine EP that feels very C86. The Trio sound anything but Canadian across these four songs. Out Of Dreams has hints of Teenage Fanclub and the general vibe is the second half of the Glasgow Eighties

Having said that the wonderful I'll Never Know could easily be The Stone Roses and Sunny Sunday Afternoon is very Ride. Sam Tam Manitoba Jangles shoegazingly. Four very different songs, all equally excellent, I expect to hear far more from these fellers.







You can listen to and buy the EP here.



The Martial Arts - I Used To Be The Martial Arts EP






Glasgow's Paul Kelly is often associated with Pop Nuggets and the long awaited EP from The Martial Arts delivers just that. His aching vocals are cocooned in mini Walls Of Sound. I Used To Be is Spector-ish and How Will I Progress has a real New Wave DIY Feel.

You've Ruined Everything is like Wah doing Glam Rock, but the real stand out is New Performance which reminds me a little of The Bay City Rollers in the chorus, in a good way. This is wonderful Twee Pop.







You can buy the EP here.



Dear Boy - The Strawberry EP






Dear Boy's latest EP is again brimming with Sunshine Pop, Whilst you might expect this from a Los Angeles band, the sound here is very much UK. There's something wonderfully 80's Jaunty about these five songs.

Although sounding no one band in particularly, you are reminded of Haircut 100, The Bluebells and Deacon Blue. The melancholic lyrics are hidden in the chipper arrangements. In Limelight, they have one of the year's great songs, it has everything in place for the upcoming Summer Days.






You can listen to and buy the EP here.



The Glimmer Stars - Hello Love EP






The Glimmer Stars' EP is shorter and noisier than what's preceded it here, but is every bit as relevant, There's a real swagger in what the Californian Trio do, a mix of 80's Sleeze Rock and 70's Glam, let's settle on Garage Glam.

Feel It is a killer of a song, wonderfully loud, it makes you clench your fists. I Want You is "in your face" Garage Rock. Contrast this with the all too brief closer, Here Comes Tomorrow Today, which is a New Seekers Acoustic strum, proving that these three are not a one trick pony.







You can buy the EP at the likes of CD Baby and Amazon.


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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

I Don't Hear A Single Audio Extravaganza Volume 73



Another Edition of the Aural Showcase Delight that is I Don't Hear A Single's recommended current must listens. One Classic Track and 18 new ones.

The even better news is that Jim is back up and running, so you have his audio mastering excellence on Number 73.

Following comments, I have been alerted that Mixcloud doesn't show the playlist. I hadn't realised this as I see it when I log in. Mixcloud insists that the songs are mixed continuously, hence being unable to tag indvidual songs. Until a proper solution is found, I will put the playlist in the comments each week.

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

These poptastic songs are awaiting your attention. The playlist is as follows  :

01 The Transparent Tones - Lovely Ray
02 The Embryos - Wasting All Your Time
03 Louise Connell - Rope
04 The Brothers Steve - Carolanne
05 Ken O'Duffy - Where The Water Rushes Grow
06 Catalyst CT - Friends With No Benefits
07 In Deed - Another Start
08 Doug Tuttle - But Not For You
09 Jollys - Cosmic Heels
10 The Warp/The Weft - A Sun-Filled Room
11 Lannie Flowers - What Did I Know
12 Gretchen's Wheel - Amateur
13 Butch Young - Beautiful Dreamer
14 The Successful Failures -Disgruntled Bankers
15 Rooftop Screamers (Feat. David Paton) - Your Day Will Come
16 Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave-Berry - Rock n' Roll Summer
17 Beezewax - Everything Happened
18 James Clark Five - Mairead
19 World Of Leather - World Of Leather



IDHAS Volume 73 Mixcloud Link


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Monday, 1 July 2019

Mick Dillingham Interviews : The Supernaturals



While for myself, personally, the Nineties were dominated by mostly North American alternative and power pop bands and solo artists (you know who I’m talking about), there was still enough listening time to heartily embrace the handful of new British combos producing their own unique take on melodic acid tinged guitar pop. Straw, Octopus, Orange, Super Furry Animals, Dererro, Out Of My Hair/Comfort all spring immediately to mind here and I’m sure Don could add just as many to that hallowed list that we would agree on. 

The Supernaturals feature high on that list for both of us and with a welcome new album on the horizon, Bird Of Luck, it felt like the right time to sit down with the main guy James McColl. In the first part of this interview we talk about the band's career. The second part next week will feature a track by track breakdown from James on the new album.


So James! What are your earliest memories of getting into music?


"The first instrument I learned. when I was eleven. was the flute. I can read music and play it to a decent standard. My school was St Ninians in Kirkintilloch and there was a little school band with five members. It was like a secret Masonic Society, two flutes, two clarinets and an oboe. There was a girl in the year above who played the other flute and I fancied her, so that was an incentive as well. I had to hide my flute in my school bag in case some hard nut spotted it and kicked my head in for trying to get above myself.

I’d tell my friends I was away down to Woolworths for my lunch and then sneak over to the music room. It was in the days before they realised that getting kids to play music stimulates them. It was great playing little bits of Mozart and Telemann with other people and sneaking lustful glances at the girl playing the flute.

In the late Seventies, everyone would watch Top Of The Pops on a Thursday night. It would be the best night of the week for Telly. I’d watch Tomorrow’s World as an appetiser and then Top Of The Pops. From about 1978 to 1983 there would be a couple of great artists on every week. From Blondie,
Squeeze, The Beat, The Police to The Smiths and Orange Juice. It was like a conveyor belt of magnificence. That was when I got hooked on music."


So when did you form a band?


"I got into playing the guitar when I was sixteen. My Dad bought me a little practice amplifier called a “Badger” and a Japanese copy Stratocaster called an Ibanez Roadster as a reward for studying for my exams. I practised with all my spare time. Derek, the other singer in The Supernaturals, saved his odd job money from his summer job and bought a sky blue Tokai Stratocaster and a “Badger” as well. With our other friend, Dwees, who played the bass badly, we would rehearse in our bedrooms. He had a “Badger” as well. The noise was incredible and not in a good way. The neighbours would complain incessantly.

We then saved up and bought a Dr Rhythm BOSS drum machine and tried doing a gig, in front of primary school kids, with the drum machine. Gav, the eventual drummer in the band, ran onstage, pressed the start button on the Dr Rhythm and then ran off, with stage fright. The kids stomped their feet and started clapping. It was a buzz.

We finally chipped in together and bought Gav a battered old drum kit off Del Amitri and we sort of had a four-piece band. We did try to make a demo in a studio in Dumbarton. Derek was the main singer at the time and he refused to sing for some reason. The engineer offered to sing the song for us and finish writing it. It was an inauspicious start and put us off studios."


When did you start writing songs?


"I started writing songs a few years after I learned the guitar. In the late Eighties we’d go to a rehearsal room in Glasgow for the Saturday afternoon and pay twenty pounds for six hours. I’d say to the band “I’ve got this new song” and then play “Come Round Here (You’re The One I Need)” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, without changing the lyrics. It would be battered out on a Telecaster so it didn’t really sound like the original anymore. The band would be like “Wow! That’s amazing! How did you write that?”

Then I quickly realised that songwriting was about writing about yourself and pulling apart and putting together other people’s songs and adding your own element. We just enjoyed banging away every week without playing gigs."







How were The Supernaturals formed?


The Supernaturals were basically me, Derek and Gav and we were at primary school together. Our manager, Gerry, was at school with us as well. Mark the bassist came along in 1988. Around about 1990 things changed in music in the UK. It seemed like the old fashioned stuff we liked like The Move, The Monkees, Slade and Madness was swinging back into fashion. There was also a lot of great bands like The La’s, Teenage Fanclub, Suede, Primal Scream, Dodgy and many more.

At the same time we started going to a studio in Edinburgh called Split Level. It was run by this eccentric guy called Neil. You’d be doing your guitar overdub while trying not to trip over an oily gearbox for a VW Scirocco that Neil had decided to dismantle on the floor of the studio."


So Big 7 was Recorded?


"We put together cassette albums called Big 7 and Dark Star in 1993 and then two CDs “Sitting in the
Sun” and “Let it Bleat” from these recordings. There was no record business in Glasgow and no internet at the time so we decided to just get in a van and tour and sell our cassettes after the gigs like one of our favourite bands, The Replacements. Every weekend we’d head off in a Transit van to places in the Highlands and then gradually, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London and festivals.

Our manager, Gerry, was a real hustler. At one point he got us onto the bill at T In The Park on the Sunday by going to the Promoter’s house and hassling him like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. The downside was that we had to play outdoors in Hamilton Town Centre the day before to a procession of people going to T in the Park. It was a heatwave and the local alcoholic likely lads, wearing just shorts, were trying to get on the stage and play our instruments, while we were performing. We had to do it for the cash, which was £500, I think.

When we toured in 1993-95 we’d play two- hour sets. We’d play our own stuff and do loads of covers like “Skyways” by The Replacements, “Flavour of the Month” by the Posies, “Look Out Here
Comes Tomorrow” by The Monkees, just music we liked. People would think we’d written these
songs, which we never denied.

I’d wandered into a fancy dress shop in the West End of Glasgow called “Starry Starry Night” in 1993 and bought this amazing full sailor suit. I looked like I was on the deck of HMS Ajax in 1938. The girls in the audience at a gig in Skye loved it. The band all started dressing up for gigs. We’d do anything to liven up things up, get people to remember us and sell our cassettes.

By this point Ken had joined as a keyboard player and he would ride around on a BMX during the encore. We’d jump on tables and play guitar behind our heads. It was brilliant fun. Every weekend was an adventure. We gradually had to quit our jobs as the stress of getting home at 7am and then getting up at 7.30 am got too much. Gav, our original drummer, had to drop out and Alan joined. We sold lots of cassettes and built up a big mailing list.

By about 1995, after about three hundred gigs around Britain, we could just about fill King Tuts in Glasgow without having a record deal. We even put a tour together that summer where we went round seaside resorts like Torquay and Falmouth. We were camping at campsites. We’d sit around during the day cooking on our Camping Gaz burners, playing keepie- uppie and then at 5pm, we’d get in the van, put our stage clothes on and head out to the gigs."







So then you were signed to the Food Label?


"Andy Ross at Food heard one of our mini CDs “Let it Bleat”, decided we had potential and signed us that year. Our first trip to a recording studio was with a producer called Phil Vinall, who worked with The Auteurs. It was Fish’s (from Marillion) studio in Edinburgh. Fish’s wife was the beautiful model from the “Kayleigh” video. I’d last seen her in 1985 peering longingly through a fence in East Berlin.

She cooked the meals at the studio. We’d get to watch her dollop bits of ham pasta on our plates while she creaked around the kitchen in tight leather trousers. That was the best bit of the recordings. The actual recordings were terrible.

Eventually, Andy persuaded us to work with a guy called Pete Smith and he produced “It Doesn’t
Matter Anymore”. Pete had recently worked with Chris De Burgh. We weren’t really up for it as we hated the De Burgh. But Pete did a fabulous job of disciplining the band, chopping our songs up to make them more to the point and his engineering skills were amazing.

He was like a football team manager and he’d hairdryer us all at different points. He'd been an apprentice at Spurs and was always trying to get a bit of football banter going about Celtic and Rangers. We would ignore him to wind him up, it was one long psychological game. I really liked him though. He’d break you down to the size of a full stop and then build you back up again. He’d worked with Sting and he’d say things like “Sting couldn’t even play that as good as you James.” Just to butter you up. It was patently nonsense."


The album did really well!


"Yeah it was reasonably successful, as were a lot of the singles. Smile was a decent hit in the UK and quite successful in Japan. The song had been quickly written in a rehearsal studio in 1995 by me, Ken and Alan, the drummer. I’d gone home that night, scribbled some lyrics while eating my Spaghetti Bolognese and the next day the band thought the lyrics were alright for the time being, so they stuck. It has gone on to be our most successful song and has been used in a lot of adverts and TV.

We spent almost all our time either touring or recording at this point. We loved it all. If it was a treadmill for some bands. then we were like a gym instructor who was raring to get on and work out. After playing to so many difficult and sparse audiences in our pre Food days and sleeping in sleeping bags on the promoter’s kitchen floor. being signed to Food/EMI was wonderful. We played with a lot of good bands like The Boo Radleys, Gene, Silver Sun, Grasshow and Blondie.

Our second album with Food was called Tune a Day which we recorded in 1997 with Pete Smith again. At one point in the studio at Chipping Norton we were watching the live feed of Lady Diana’s funeral on a TV screen and Chris De Burgh was singing to the congregation in St Paul’s. Pete was raving at Alan, telling him to up his drumming game while shouting at the TV screen telling the “De Burgh” to “get into fackin tune”.

The main single off  Tune a Day, “I Wasn’t Built To Get Up”, was a No 25 hit. The album did quite well and got some good reviews. Our final single was called Everest and we’d done it as a loving pastiche of AOR records like Foreigner and Toto. The video had us throwing a giant metal rose off Snowdonia, while we all got dressed up as Sir Edmund Hilary.

We thought it was great, but that may just have been the large amounts of whisky we were consuming. The public thought it was crap and didn’t buy it, so we knew we were in trouble with the label. We did a gig in Portsmouth and there was a long coffin shaped cardboard box backstage. We carried it onto the stage like a coffin and wrote “RIP The Supernaturals” on the side and had a mock naval burial for our career. The audience seemed to like that.

Around about 1999 lots of the bands that had been signed in the 1990s were dropped by EMI and we were just another one of them. There was a pre millennial thing going on. Orchestras and heartfelt songs with acoustic guitars were “in” and we didn’t really fit into that. In hindsight we should have shamelessly jumped on that particular bandwagon.

EMI were amazing at promoting us, they really knew their stuff, so it wasn’t really the usual blame the record company thing that bands have. Basically the record buying public weren’t into us that much and didn’t buy enough of our records. We just had to accept it and move on."








You responded with "What We Did Last Summer"


"After we got dropped ,we decided to record our next album, What We Did Last Summer, ourselves. We wanted to mix things like Beach Boy harmonies, “My Love” by Wings and also a lot of French music I was listening to like Mellow and Serge Gainsbourg- with some electronics. It took about two years to make and I thought it was really good and had a chance of doing well. It was a mix of 60’s harmony pop and 2000’s electronics.

Koch Records signed us. They needed a “proper band” after having made millions from Pokemon and World Wresting Federation records and wanted to waste some of that money on us. The first single was called “Finishing Credits” and by this point, things were on a bit of an upswing for us. We had an excellent guitarist called Paul and a new keyboard player, Davie. Radio 2 loved the song and were going to playlist it at the end of September 2001. All was looking rosy.

Then 9/11 happened while we were in London doing a BBC World Service Acoustic Session and the BBC put it on their banned songs list because of the lyric “It’s the end of the world as we know it, it was written in the stars that we’d blow it.” In retrospect, I should have got that fax of the official list of songs that were banned and framed it on my wall for posterity."

Mark, the bassist, had left earlier in the year as had Ken. By the release of What We Did Last Summer in 2002 it was just me, Derek and Alan left. I kind of missed Mark and Ken and after a pretty dismal tour of places with murals on the wall of Johnny Cash and Bob Marley, we chucked it. We should maybe have taken time out, but we’d been going for ten years, pretty much full tilt and we were worn out.

As an aside we sold our equipment to a Christian Rock band. Gerry, our manager went off to work in the building trade, to quote him, “Because there’s a lot less sharks than the Music Business” and Alan went to work for William Orbit."







Then you were involved in The Hussy's.


"I spent the latter part of the Noughties doing The Hussy’s. Fili was an amazing singer and a really good-looking front woman. She has a sort of deadpan voice and a deadpan sense of humour and it was such a great experience writing and co-writing songs for a girl singer.

You could go somewhere completely different than The Supernaturals. We had an excellent band with some great players. We did a few albums, which were all worth checking out and some really good songs like Roller Disco, Tiger and Just Think Of My Heart Like A Campervan amongst many others. Fili went to live in Calgary, Canada, as her husband got a job there, So that was The Hussy’s kyboshed."


So we got the surprise of 360, a new album by The Supernaturals?


"I thought that was me finished with music and to be honest I was quite happy because I’d done lots of stuff, some of it quite successful like Smile, Built To Get Up” by The Supers and Roller Disco by The Hussy's. Also quite a lot of music that was obscure and unsuccessful. I had done all the things
I wanted to do like get on Top of the Pops, tour around and get in the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles.

Because we were all at school together and had the same circle of friends, most of The Supernaturals would still see each other socially. Around 2012, we decided to go into rehearsal rooms and play cover versions, like a lot of old guys do. We started playing “Blue” by The Jayhawks and it was uncanny how the lyrics seemed to document some of our times together. Lyrics like “where have all my friends gone”, “I always thought I was someone, turned out I was wrong” and “It’s hard to sing with someone when they won’t sing with you”.

We then started playing our old songs, which were basically cover versions to us. We had to get the albums out and try remembering the chords. One thing led to another and we put “360” together over a few years. We just went back to the basics of the band from 1993, it was the same four guys and it was very easy to do. We all had the same roles and we didn’t want to have much technology in our music. We wanted to just sing about heartfelt and amusing things at the same time."








How do you approach the songwriting process?


"Compared to some of my peers I’m not all that as a songwriter. But when it comes to the actual process I can add my my tuppence worth. The obvious one is I just to sit with a guitar or a piano and wait for ideas to come. Sometimes that can work straight away. Then if you’re not getting anything, listen to something you like and try and imitate it and add your own thing or reverse chords or change Rhythms.

Drums and Rhythm are really great ways of stimulating your mind. So a good strategy is to sample some drums you like and play along with them. You’re just doing that in a rehearsal studio with a drummer anyway. Unexpected sounds and instruments, tunings, instruments you’re not familiar with - these are great ways to stimulate song. I once had to do a talk to some kids at a college and that was pretty much what I told them.

As regards lyrics, I’m like a magpie, I always listened out for people saying catchy phrases. Could be a friend, could be a movie or even a phrase from a novel or book. You get the general idea for the lyric and then build it around the phrase. That’s how songwriters have been working throughout the twentieth century. It’s an old thing. It’s a mixture of the subconscious and the conscious and tricking yourself.

I’m fortunate that I can write songs whenever I want and I’ve always been like that. I think a part of it of the really amazing songwriters like McCartney and Prince and so on, is that they don’t think too much about it all and just do it. They are really good at using their subconscious.


Finally which bands are you influenced by?


"If I was to pick 4 it would be the Move , The Replacements, Slade and maybe Madness."


The second part of this Interview is published next week. This will cover the new album, Bird Of Luck and includes a track by track explanation from James. 

Bird Of Luck has a digital release on 1 August 2019. However initial copies of the CD are available via Amazon here. CDs will be available in the States via CD Baby from 1 August. 


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