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Tuesday 29 October 2019

I Don't Hear A Single Audio Extravaganza Volume 83

Volume 83 of the Audio Extravaganza is ready for your attention.  21 of IDHAS's favourite songs this week, all with shiny new stickers on them. A reminder that these episodes are compiled with great care. The aim is to produce a sort of mix tape. Hopefully this will be the soundtrack to your day.

I've also learned that if you use the mixcloud player at the bottom of this page, each song title is shown as it plays.

The Audi Extravaganza regularly appears in Mixcloud's Global Indie Charts, so here is your chance to see what all the fuss is about. The playlist is below and will also be in the comments section of the Mixcloud page. Thanks as always to Jim Moody for his technical excellence

You can listen to the previous IDHAS Audio Extravaganzas on Mixcloud here.

01 Norman - Hell You Are
02 Ben Vogel - Lazy Saturday
03 Nick Frater - What Does Good Look Like
04 Bill Lloyd And The Tallymen - Boy King Of Tokyo (Live)
05 Burne Holiday - Royal Bones
06 The BOTP Band - Somebody Made For Me
07 Tuff Sunshine - We Seal Every Deal With A Kiss
08 Fastball - The Girl You Pretended To Be
09 Hovvdy - Cathedral
10 Dude York - Should've
11 Råttanson - Rathole Guest
12 Sonny & The Sunsets - A Bigger Picture
13 The Lilac Time - The River Runs Both Ways
14 Wade Johnson - When Will It End
15 Mikal Cronin - I've Got Reason
16 Basement Revolver - Master's Degree
17 David James Situation - Isn't It Time
18 Twen - Damsel
19 Science Is Fiction - Awkward Girl
20 Good Days - Blue
21 Cary Grace - Sacrifice (Radio Edit)

IDHAS Audio Extravaganza Volume 83 Mixcloud Link 


Saturday 26 October 2019

Råttanson - I'd Much Rather Be With The Noise

Henrik Aspeborg returns with a new Rattanson album and it's very welcome. Aspeborg gets lumped in with the Power Pop brigade, but his brand of Swedish Garage Pop fits in to so many scenes. that a pigeon hole is unfair and unnecessary.

I'd Much Rather Be With The Noise is deliciously Low-Fi, but enthralling. One minute Rattanson are in Guided By Voices territory, then a song like Hometown Out-Of-Towner sounds like a 50's At The Hop Affair. There's also more than a hint of Psych Pop too, particularly on Dancing On The Head Of Snakes.

In A Peak State brings up images of a 60's dirt path road trip, whilst Sixgun Smile could be sung from a One Horse Town Bar. No Best Of Me has a twanging love song with a be bop chorus. Kiss This Year Goodbye is again great pop.

Bamalamalicious is exactly as the title suggests, 50's Rock and Roll a la The Crickets. These 14 songs offer up anything from Surf to 80's Garage Rock. Small Venue Concerts could be Chinn and Chapman Glam Rock.

Aspeborg's voice comes across as a bit Mink De Ville at times, no bad thing, at other times Dylan-esque folk. The Seeds also spring to mind. However, the whole album grabs you and I still can't get Let Them Win off the turntable.

There's also more than a hint of Wilko Johnson Rhythm and Blues. I'd Much Rather Be With The Noise Is A Fine album and Rattanson are well worth your attention.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can buy the Vinyl from Open Mind Records via their Facebook page here.


Is It Power Pop? Who Cares?

Power Pop fans like to make lists. They like to compare A v B and talk about Raspberries, Badfinger and Big Star. That is when the subject of The Beatles comes up for air. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It's all part of being a collector and fan and if we are honest, the following is of a certain vintage and that includes me.

There are also quite a few Facebook groups and what happens in a lot of them, translates to the musical life outside those walls. Two things that do frustrate me are the "All New Bands Are Crap" or "It's Not Like It Was In The Old Days" brigade. Even more so, the Is It Power Pop fascination.

I'm a fan of many different types of music and I see this rubbish, the odd time, in other groups. The Modern Prog v Prog argument raises its head the odd time, but nothing like the words devoted to Is It Power Pop. The genre has always had a divide with artists. Some embrace the label, others hate it and it's an even split.

There are people who set themselves up as Power Pop Police Commanders, fearlessly slaying anyone who disagrees with their strict definition about what it is and isn't Double P. Books are written on the subject to allow even more disagreement on what defines a type of music that is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Is it the lyrics, the harmonies, the chorus?

I write mainly about the new. It's not because I am anti the old. I'm a massive collector and know my history. I'm also a subjective fan. If an established artist releases a turkey, I acknowledge that and I particularly dislike hype. But I can't help thinking that this Power Pop debate is ruining the fun of what is supposed to be a joy filled listen.

I'm well in with the community and I find more and more who write about it or cover it, removing Power Pop from their strap lines. It's only the lack of an alternative title to describe the music that keeps the PP label alive. Guitar Pop? Pop Rock?

Indie has become a label that encompasses any artist that self releases, in some cases, artists that are not on a major label. The Internet Radio Stations have made that label worse to include any only rubbish that is plugged to them. Yet it remains a powerful draw to followers, readers and listeners.

I played around with tags for the IDHAS Audio Extravaganza. Power Pop gets tumbleweed. Indie Pop gets attention. That's a genre that could include auto tuned rubbish written by a dozen people as well as Guitar Driven Pop that warms the heart.

Power Pop is hard to promote and it's never gonna be massive. But it is contracting and sadly it's because of the people who are supposed to love it. Fans, supposed Head Of Departments. The audience is getting older and older, yet it has no wish or intention of embracing a younger audience. People pretend that it's not the music, it's the fault of the youngsters, they just don't understand good music.

There seems a willingness to spend hours and hours arguing about what is Power Pop, rather than using that time to listen to things that you haven't heard. I've been a supporter for decades, but this year in particular as been the worst for Keyboard Warriors.

Stop Analysing it! Use the time saved to listen to and enjoy the music. Use your hands to play air guitar or turn the volume up, instead of indulging in all this nonsense.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Andy Bopp - Maker

Followers of Andy Bopp's solo career will know how much he has evolved. But if you listen to both of his previous albums, Maker will not seem so different. Listening back to Wherewithal and Blisters And Thorns, I saw the connection clearer than on my first few listens to this. The variety and versatility on those two albums hid the direction, but I do feel they were stops on the journey to here.

There is less variety on Maker, it's more thematic, but it just might be the best thing that Bopp has ever done. Both are reviewed on IDHAS if you want to compare, but the future is now. I said on my intro to Mick's Interview with Andy, that Maker was more Bowie than Chilton and that's true. Those Myracle Brah albums are fantastic, but would you want the same thing again and again?

Without making this about me, there are similarities in how we both feel. I write, Andy creates and performs, but how I feel about Power Pop at the moment mirrors on his not wanting to make the same album again and again. The genre itself has become frustrating, arguments about what is and what isn't Power Pop and the oneupmanship. IDHAS evolves and thankfully so does Andy Bopp.

So having previously established that Maker is not a Power Pop album, what is it? Well it's also not a Guitar album, yes the guitar is present, but it's low in the mix, if at all. If this were Bowie, it would be Berlin or Latter Day Bowie. It's wonderfully inventive, but don't expect to sing along. The album demands your attention and rewards you for it.

This is a very electronic affair, but just to tease you Bopp ends proceedings with Lights And Saviors, a really poptastic affair with riffs to treasure. Great as though that is, being the fellow that we have come to know and love, what lies before is more interesting. The album centres around two versions of In The Interest Of Time.

The impression that I get of that song is that the slower, less synth led version, was the first written with the Part 1 Edition, a later take. Well the latter is enthralling, a synth hook reminiscent of the better 80's duos that offered up songs that were more than a vibe and a drum pattern. It does feel a bit Heroes, but not wholly.

Years and Years is moody and hypnotic, totally gripping in it's minimal make up. That Bass line, the occasional piano, it is very Thomas Dolby, musically. Idle Hours is a mixture of the old new. An atmospheric verse with a jaunty chorus. Tooth And Nail is almost campfire acoustic with a Scarborough Fair Canterbury feel to the arrangement.

The Bowie references keep coming. Cigarette should be on Scary Monsters. Drive Me Crazy is a cover of the Fine Young Cannibals song, plenty of similarities to the original, but far more chirpy with Brass.

The stand out though is the title track, it's very staccato with a shared Soul vocal in the chorus. It rocks out in that chorus, but the almost spoken verse beautifully contradicts it. It's a crackerjack of a song, but completely unexpected as an album opener.

After Mick had interviewed Andy, I asked Mr Dillingham what he thought of the album. It was refreshing to hear him feel the same way as me. He compared it to what Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple do away from The dB's. I hope others get this in the way that we both do. It's a masterpiece, but it is going to take repeated listens to realise that. It's worth the effort.

But Is It Power Pop? NO!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Mick Dillingham Interviews : Jeff Whalen

Who can forget that exquisite debut album by Jeff Whalen’s band, Tsar? Released at the very end of the nineties, when the golden age of underground guitar music, heralded in by Jellyfish and Beagle ten years before, was still blazing merrily away like there was endless tomorrows. 

There were so many truly great albums from that time, so much new musical treasure to swim in on a weekly basis, that we were so spoilt for choice it was astounding.  Yet when that first Tsar album appeared on Capitol, everyone put down what they were doing and stood in silent awe, gobsmacked at the multilayered pop genius on display. 

To this day, that album remains a stone cold classic that every single one of you should own. Then, of course, it all went wrong from there. Big labels already had a depressing track record of not knowing what to do with real talent when it falls into their laps (Falkner, Wanderlust, Michael Penn, Daryll Ann… etc etc)  and Capitol were ultimately no different. Soon enough Tsar found themselves in that frustrating place of huge critical acclaim with little commercial success. 

Psychologically it must be like being utterly smitten by a wonderful woman. who thinks you’re the sweetest man she’s ever known and she loves you but….not in that way. Yes, you still have something wonderful in your life, it’s just not as wonderful as you desperately hoped and foolishly dreamt it could be. It’s a heart breaking place to be for any band and takes some getting your head around. 

Tsar disappeared for four long years and when the second album arrived, with a new line up, it was far heavier and brasher and not at all what the faithful wanted at all. But now three quarters of Tsar and two new members have returned as The Brothers Steve with a brilliant new record and we could not be happier if we tried. Time to jump around with the marvellous Jeff Whelan and get the low down on this new high. Strap yourselves in because this is going to be great. 

What are your earliest memories of first getting into music?

"I was just talking to my mom about that the other day!  She was saying that when I was a little guy I was obsessed with “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad.”  That I’d sit in the car singing it over and over. All the livelong day, I guess.  Solid song. I don’t actually remember that, though.

I remember liking “Bingo.”  Now that’s a great fuckin’ song.  Great clap hook.  “Clap clap N-G-O,” you know?  Spelling hook.  Tremendous song.  I always assumed it was the dog that was named Bingo, but thinking about it now, it could just as easily be the farmer who was named Bingo.  “Was a farmer, had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o.”  The farmer, right?  But Jesus, name-o.  Incredible."

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

"Probably Neil Diamond?  We were a born-again Christian household at the time, but my mom and stepdad had Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits album, that silver one and when I was 6 or 7, I’d play that all the time.  “Cracklin’ Rose” was my main cut, though it’s all strong.

KISS, Elton John, ELO, ABBA.  They all made big impressions on me when I was a little guy, though that was strictly on weekends at my dad’s place.   I remember being so freaked out by “Fire on High” by ELO, driving around with my dad.  Scary track for a kid.  Still scary to me as an adult, actually."

When did you start playing an instrument?

"I was in my first year in college and I asked my by-then semi-somewhat-estranged dad for a guitar for my birthday and he mailed a super-cheap acoustic guitar to my dorm room.  Along with the guitar, he sent a chocolate cake that had a bullet on top, in the frosting, like where you’d put a candle.  A real bullet for a gun.  On the cake. He’s not at all a gun guy, so when I called him to thank him for the guitar, I asked him what he was going for with the bullet.  He said “Cuz you’re 18 with a bullet.”

When did you start writing songs?

"Right away after I got the guitar! I learned some chords from a Beatles songbook I got from a thrift store, a great way to learn how to play guitar, by the way and wrote a song called “The Trout Will Walk The Earth.”

I started a band, or at least we called it a band, with a couple guys on my floor. We were called Chipp, with two Ps. We always said it that way, so it’s possible that people thought that was our actual name: Chipp With Two Ps. I dunno.  I’m pretty sure no one gave it much thought.

We had me on guitar, another guy on guitar and a guy with a Casio keyboard, which also served as our rhythm section.  Some of the songs were pretty catchy.  I remember “The Color That Is Blue” and “Let’s Rock Tonight” as being pretty good.  We acted like it was all a joke, but I was secretly genuinely excited by it all.

After my freshman year, I transferred to UC Santa Barbara and there was a fun, vibrant band/party scene there.  Lots of backyard parties with bands.  You’d walk around and hear some band playing and walk in and check them out.  Joke bands, stoner bands, cover bands, art bands, the punk and metal bands.  Most of the groups did originals and the songs were surprisingly good, or so it seemed to me.  It all felt arty and fun and rock and roll and I totally wanted to be part of it.

I was in a bunch of bands at school, with a forerunner of The Brothers Steve being my first “real” band.  None of the groups I played with tried to “make it” or anything.  I remember one time a girl who worked at Capitol Records was at one of our backyard shows and she gave us her card and told us she’d love for us to come down to LA and play.  We totally didn’t know what to do about it. We were way too intimidated to go play an LA club, so we didn’t do anything.

When we finally moved to LA with the big “OK!  Let’s do it for realsies” attitude, I still didn’t know what to do.  Dan (from Tsar) and I moved to LA and got office temp jobs, which we then quit. We would just sit in our apartment and play Scrabble and smoke and listen to music.  We were supposed to be trying to find guys to be in a band with us, but we didn’t know anybody and we were shy so we just ultimately ended up doing demos in the apartment by ourselves, calling ourselves Drug Boy.

The Drug Boy thing was a lot of fun.  Liberating.  It changed our sense of what we were doing and what we thought of our prospects. I don’t really know how or why, because we still didn’t know anybody, and we still were just two guys playing Scrabble and smoking.  But suddenly, we thought we were great, like this thing was gonna be easy.

We were relaxed and laughing and ready to have a good feckin’ time getting feckin’ signed. It definitely was that in period that we thought we were on to something, somewhere in the writing of “Ordinary Gurl” or “Kathy Fong,”in there. Drug Boy."

Talk about the brilliant first album, how it came about, the buzz around it, how it felt finally recording an album in a big studio with a producer.  The songs you used and those that got left off.  The frustration of it being a critical success, but commercially not so much, despite your best efforts to promote it.  I suppose it is just down to luck sometimes and nothing more?

"First of all, thank you! Yeah, that thing flopped pretty good back in the day. Before that, though, everything had been going easy-peasy.  I mean, getting signed was maybe the easiest part of the whole experience. We had only played a handful of shows when A&R guys started their charm offensive.  We had a buncha-buncha meetings with labels and we went with Hollywood Records since Rob Cavallo seemed super-excited about wanting to produce the record.

Those days were fun, but they were very, very strange, too.  Almost surreal.  Like living in a different world. Like, you know how now seems like an alternate timeline?  Like somewhere around 2015 or 2016, we got shifted into a different kind of world, with Trump and Brexit and everything?  Nothing makes sense?  Like maybe some scientist from the future travelled back in time, you know, just to observe something or whatever and they accidentally stepped on a butterfly or something and it disturbed the regular chain of events.  It altered reality and now we live here and it’s different and we can’t explain it?  OK, so for me, getting signed and making the first Tsar record was like a personal version of that, but the fun, glam rock version of it.

Anyways, so now we had the opportunity to make a big-budget, super-produced version of the Drug Boy stuff.  We didn’t really write any new songs for it, I think just “Suicide,” which didn’t end up going on the US record actually.  We just focused on rehearsing and rehearsing and rehearsing and getting everything down as tight and solid as we could.  I think for all our supposed swagger at the time, we were probably all experiencing imposter syndrome, too.

I think we thought if we prepared and prepared and tried really hard, we could maybe pull it off.  I remember thinking that I didn’t want to look back and wish that I’d tried harder. It’s weird. When you’ve never done anything fully fleshed out before, just demos and whatever, you don’t really know how good you’re supposed to be, you know?  You don’t know what the goal is.

So we put all we had into that first record, and for sure, we thought we had something there when it was done. Like, who could deny this record? All the label people and all the industry types were so excited about it and all the early feedback was so strong. So when it came out to crickets, we were stunned, thoroughly bewildered, and it was awful. We didn’t know what to think or what to say to each other or what to say to people we knew or how to act around strangers.

It bombed, brother.  I mean, we toured and stuff, played on TV, had our mini-triumphs for sure and it was really, really fun at first, but cut to a few months after that and I’m moving back home with my mom and stepdad."

There a big gap between the first album and the second album and when it finally arrived it was a bit of a shock with its drastic change in musical direction.  I’ll state now that it really wasn’t my cup of tea. What was the rationale behind this? Had you lost faith in what you had been doing up to then, because of the lack of commercial success and were looking for a different audience that might be large enough to keep you going. Taking a different run at this?

"Yeah, Band-Girls-Money is a funny one.  There are things about it that I’m really proud of. At the time, the record made sense to us. It’s how we were playing at the time.  At heart, it was a comic, but oh-so-deadly-serious way of “processing” our impossible-to-understand feelings about what had happened with the first record. Considering how bad we felt at the time, and with our confidence shot to hell, I’m kind of impressed with the band that we were able to make any kind of album at all.

But look, I mean, listening to the record now, I can see how fans of the first record might’ve been bummed out. God knows I’ve been nearly thrown into depression when an album I was looking forward to finally came out and wasn’t what I needed it to be.

Just last week, after The Brothers Steve practice, Dylan and I were talking about Guns N’ Roses’ "Use Your Illusion" and how intensely we had been looking forward to it. How, when it came out, we strangely tried to deny how disappointed we were.  To ourselves and to everybody.  We covered for it, you know?  Tried to act like it was OK, this terrible disappointment, like Use Your Illusion was an abusive parent or something.  We acted like it was OK.  But it wasn’t OK.  It wasn’t OK.  We kept making excuses for it and trying to convince ourselves that it was what we deserved and they kept on ladling out the abuse. I mean, shit, we were just kids!

They made everybody deal with Use Your Illusion for years!  They just kept making videos for it and touring and acting like it was OK to make the world deal with it and this just went on and on.  Like, two years later, here’s the fuckin’ “Estranged” video, you know? Just awful, awful abuse.
Hopefully, Band-Girls-Money wasn’t like that for anybody. "

How does the song writing process work with you? Are you slow or prolific? Do you have times when the songs just pour out and other times when it’s like getting blood from a stone?

"Yes. All of that, yes."

So Tsar returned with an excellent ep  and the promise of a new album to follow and then…

"Thanks!  Yeah, I like the EP.  We recorded it ourselves, which probably wasn’t a great idea for our relationships, considering that the band was just freshly back playing together again.  The original plan was to have The Dark Stuff EP, which we did and then record a “light stuff” EP too, of poppier stuff, which we didn’t and then put them out together as an album.  Which we didn’t."

So instead you make a solo album with the help of pledge music.  How was that and why was Linus of Hollywood wisely chosen to produce it…where did the songs come from..were they written for the album or taken from archives or both.  Lots of great feedback…the great lost pop genius returns all guns blazing sort of does that feel ?

"It feels good, actually! Yeah, Linus is tremendous. I’m kind of in awe of him as a creative force and I also like him a lot as a person-type person. We’d been aware of each other, but I don’t think we met until Tsar played some shows with Nerf Herder during The Dark Stuff period. We had a few good drunken conversations of the John-versus-Paul variety after shows. I made a mental note that it might be fun to record with him.

The album really was fun and easy to make. We worked hard on it, definitely, but it didn’t have that freaked-out, white-knuckle, the-world-hangs-in-the-balance intensity of the Tsar records. Maybe because we didn’t have a label or anyone with any expectations watching.  Even the Pledge part of it didn’t come until after we’d already finished the thing.

Most of the songs I wrote specifically for the record, but there were a handful of tunes from before that I’d had in my back pocket.  I’d been waiting for a good opportunity to take them out of my back pocket, if nothing else, just to make it more comfortable to sit down."

So we come to the Brothers Steve which pretty much cements your return to the pop world.  Lots of praise from the press. How did it all come together and what does the future hold in store?

We got invited to play a party for some UC Santa Barbara friends from back in the day, so we rehearsed a bit and played the party.  Then we said, well hell, we might as well make a record. Iit was a lot of fun.  I really love those guys in the band, they’re like my best friends of my whole life. I wish Dan from Tsar could be part of it. I’d love for him to produce our next record, actually."

What would you say were your biggest influences right now?

"Probably my biggest influences are somebody really obvious, like the Beatles or Bowie or somebody. But lately I’ve been thinking about how inspired I’ve been by fake bands.  Fake bands living in fake worlds. The Archies in Riverdale, or The Monkees in their version of Los Angeles.  I mean, what’s the difference, ultimately, between them and some real band in a real place?  Like one of those sci-fi deals where you have to ask the question, “why isn’t a robot a person?” Blade Runner or Black Mirror or something."

A lot of times, I’m super-excited by the fake bands within the “real” fake band’s universe, about The Monkees or Archies' rival bands or whatever.  Like on The Monkees’ show, they’ll be friends or rivals or whatever with bands called The Foreign Agents or The Jolly Green Giants.

Those guys’ll be all dressed up like spies or Jolly Green Giants heading to the gig, right?  Amazing.  You never get to hear their music, but I’d buy all their records, if they had any.  Like The Robots from Archie comics.  They’re a band of robots.  I’d totally buy all their records, right now.  Same with the Cycle Tones from The Archies, they play on motorcycles. So I’ve been thinking a bit about that."

Thanks Jeff, great interview! 

You can buy The Brothers Steve album on CD here or here or Vinyl here. Jeff Whalen's solo album is available here. You can buy The Dark Stuff EP from Lojinx here. Both Tsar albums are available from most online sellers.

The BOTP Band - Bob Of The Pops Volume 4 (Name Your Price)

I absolutely love Robyn Gibson's Bob Of The Pops albums, he selects great songs to cover which are done incredibly well. I talked to Robyn last year about the project becoming a band at IPO Liverpool 2018. You can read that interview here.

The previous three volumes have solo affairs, now BOTP is a band and so Volume 4 becomes Gibson's first group album since The Junipers.  Versions of The Kinks' She's Got Everything and Teenage Fanclub's Ain't That Enough stand out.

He gets help from Divine Comedy's excellent Guitarist, Tosh Flood with wife, Lorraine Wilson on Emitt Rhodes's Somebody Made For Me. The equally excellent Duncan Maitland adds Harpsichord and Keyboards to the same song  and The Haystack's A Letter To Josephine. The latter continues the excellent choices of previous volumes.

Incredibly, there is even a mellow cover of Chas And Dave's Ain't No Pleasing You. I'm looking forward to Volume 5's Special Guests singing Snooker Loopy. Seriously though, the album is not just about the song selections, Gibson's voice is as splendid as ever.

There's another Carter / Lewis / Alquist cover to follow A Letter To Josephine on Aye-O, a real party hand clapping vibe. Smile A Little Smile For Mr is another inspired choice, Tony MacAulay and Geoff Stephen's song for The Flying Machine.

It's not all about the Sixties though. There are splendid versions of Madness's Disappear and Joe Pernice's Working Girls. All in all, this is a fantastic offering, appearing once more on the wonderful Futureman Records Label. It's a fine addition to the Bob Of The Pops collection, but also a great listen for first timers.

You can listen to and buy the album at Name Your Price here.


Dead Soft - Big Blue

Vancouver BC's Dead Soft have promised much with the three lead up singles and their debut expands on this promise. The trio of Nathaniel Epp, Keeley Rochon and Alex Smith make a good deal of noise, all of it is well aimed.

The band have been compared a lot to the Indie Rock and Grunge of the US early 90's, but it isn't as simple as that. There's plenty of Power Pop and Indie Pop here, but the emphasis is on the Fuzz. A song like Step Out reveals what they do best.

Step Out starts as Intelligent Pop in the region of The Sugarplastic or fellow Cannuck's, The Pursuit Of Happiness before it explodes into a sort of Soundgarden affair. I Believe You has more in common with C86, certainly Glasgow Indie, even Teenage Fanclub.

Tulips motors along, driven by Rochon's Peter Hook like Bass lines. Problems is suitably noisy Power Pop, think The Replacements. Snake is in slow Nirvana territory. The album works best when it quietens down a little.

Rochon's vocal on the The Static works beautifully as good as any Brit Pop female vocal led band. Whatever is achingly addictive, you can sense the regrets. The general impression of Big Blue is Grunge, but it's done in an endearing and melodic way. This is a fine debut album.

You can buy or listen to the album at any of the links here.


Monday 21 October 2019

Ben Vogel - Whistling After Midnight

The musical year has been a really strange one for me. Partly due to reaching an age, when you realise the musicians that you admired as a youngster are not mortal, but more about seeing scenes that you love fall apart due to the opinionated. There seems to be a world of Me Me Me and all about Me at the moment.

Just when you are completely exasperated with Power Pop and Pop Rock, an album comes along that shows that there is still hope. Whistling After Midnight is Ben Vogel's debut album and yet it sounds little like such. It's a fine listen indeed.

Vogel has recently moved from Austin Texas to Chicago, but this album feels much more Sunshine State. He describes the album as 21st Century Power Pop, but the album leans far more on classic UK and U.S. Pop Rock, It's the type of well written, beautifully produced offering that you hear less and less these days.

There are big hints of 70's Singer Songwriter, but also UK New Wave and 80's Easy Listening Rock. That's not to say that this is derivative, because it isn't. As the years clock on, it's virtually impossible to find something that a song doesn't remind you of.

Cassidy is the stand out song, it's very Nick Heyward, but the other nine songs stand up just as well. Lazy Saturday is Jangling Power Pop that stands up with any of the current crop that you care to imagine. Leave This Town is a Soft Rock Ballad. Say That You Will is a happier Steely Dan.

Early Morning Hours is pure Squeeze, Wasting Time reminds me of Donnie Iris. I Hope You're Happy Happy Now could be a Sun Studios recording. Beautiful Sun closes the album with a big constantly changing sort of Show song, hints of Jazz and Funk abound, almost mid 70's Stevie Wonder. Whistling At Midnight caught me completely by surprise. It's an absolutely splendid listen.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about Ben Vogel here.


Bill Lloyd And The Tallymen - 2GTRSBSDRMS - Live At Blackbird Academy

Bill Lloyd continues a lengthy excellent career, currently as a part of one of the greatest Label Rosters around, Spyderpop Records. Lloyd has mastered Country, Americana and Power Pop and it's probably no surprise that it's the latter that I love most.

His 2018 album, Working The Long Game and his work as one of the great cover bands, The Long Players will prepare you for what you have here. 2GTRSBDSRMS is an absolute revelation, Pop Rock done at it's very best.

I know people baulk at Live albums. listen to them once and file them away, but this is different. If ever there was a way to listen to Bill Lloyd, it is Live. Here, you get the very best method. The album was recorded Live In Blackbird Academy's Studio and so no annoying chattering.

The quartet, hence the two guitars, bass and drums reference, includes Pat Buchanan on Guitar and the recording is stunning. It's like listening to a full band studio album. The 10 songs are from his three Power Pop solo albums and all ten hit the spot.

It's across the album that you realise that this isn't necessarily Power Pop, it has more in common with Tom Petty than Big Star. There is also some exceptional playing, for instance the Guitar Solo on Mistakes Are made is so Mick Ronson.

Others may have differing opinions, but I think Boy King Of Tokyo is Lloyd's best album and best song and so it's only fitting that it opens up proceedings. Buy On Credit is a real Petty Rock Out, but the overall album feel is more Into The Great Wide Open.

Let It Slide is 60's UK Beat, Turn Me On Dead Man is Psych Pop and The Fix Is In is riff-o-rama Power Pop. I Went Electric is pure Graham Parker And The Rumour and Out Of The Picture is real shake your fist stuff, with a hint of early Costello.

You can buy the CD from Bill's website here or Kool Kat here.   The album is available at all the download emporiums including Amazon Music here. You can listen to the whole album or individual songs here.


Wednesday 16 October 2019

Mick Dillingham Interviews : Andy Bopp

I've been a fan of Andy Bopp for over two decades. I've become noted for Power Pop commentary, despite my tastes being far wider. As I think about what attracts me to Power Pop, those first two Myracle Brah albums are a fair testament.

Bopp's adventures since have provided equal enjoyment, but it is his solo career that has invigorated me most. His upcoming album, Maker, is an absolute revelation. Andy questions why someone would want to make the same album over and over and I feel the same way. I'll explain why in the album review that will appear later in the week. It's fair to say that Maker is more Bowie than Chilton.

For his latest interview, Mick talks to Andy about his career and Bopp also gives some brief thoughts on the new album.

What are your earliest memories of first getting into music?

"I started taking guitar lessons at age four. By six, I had an electric guitar and an amp. I got
frustrated with it and switched to drums for the next five years."

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

"The Beatles, in particular the Help album and Rubber Soul. I was about five years old."

When did you start writing songs?

"My mother would sit down with me and we would make up songs on the spot. She sang and played the ukulele."

What was the first song you wrote where you knew you had something?

"Hard to say. Probably around the age of twelve. I started writing about then, but it took awhile to develop. The first good songs were about two or three years before Love Nut. There’s about three albums worth of material recorded prior to Bastards Of Melody. So, to answer your question, the first good song was called Crying."

Looking back on Myracle Brah, how do you feel about it now…highs lows, things you
might change now?

"Well, Love Nut just got dropped from Interscope and I was very mad about it. We never got a
fair shake. A few of the Eartsnop songs were meant for the next Love Nut album which was, of
course, rejected by Interscope.

So, I got an 8 track, mic pre and compressor and one good mic and started working. No lows as such. The highs were playing all over Europe. I played in Japan two years ago and didn’t realise that I had a small fan base there. I’m very proud of those albums."

How does the song writing process work with you?

"It has changed over the years. Early on it was always guitar oriented riffs, then lyrics. Now it's
more of a stream of conscience. I start writing anything in my book, regardless of quality and it
grows from there with numerous revisions. I never have a dry spell, because I don’t put pressure on myself. I just relax, breathe and let it work."

What would you say were your biggest influences?

"Well, influences are all over the place. British Rock of course, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Mozart,
Kate Bush, American Country, Cash, Hank Williams. Then there’s the American Folk of the 60’s
like Kingston Trio, Hoyt Axton, and American Civil War songs."

The recording process always seems a vital part of the whole with you…you don’t just record an album you produce it.

"The recording process is unlike what people think. It’s very painful for me to record. Obsessing
on every note etc. But it is magic and always a learning experience. Again, letting your
subconscious take over is creative in itself."

What does creativity mean to you in the day to day?

"On a day to day basis creativity keeps me alive."

Talk about the genesis of the new album. The difference between the you of today and the
Andy of twenty years ago.

It started out as an EP. I have a double album almost finished and was just going to put this EP out first in March, but then it became a whole different animal and grew to a full album. It’s a therapeutic album for me. I’ve been struggling with depression for several years and I needed to get things off my chest. I think it turned out very good. This is a more mature approach from twenty years ago. I try to develop everything as time continues. That's why in good conscience, I can't just keep putting the same album out."

What does creativity mean to you in the day to day?

"On a day to day basis creativity keeps me alive."

If you’re up for it a track by track breakdown would be cool.


"“Lay down before the throne”. It’s a confession and an acknowledgement. Example:
“manipulation was routine, till Eros fell on laser beams, protecting all the ways and means”

Years Upon Years

Time doesn’t stand still for anyone. Regret of knowing that I’m still not sure who I am as a

In The Interest of Time Pt.1

A synth version and rewrite of track 7. O.U.T. means out


Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, regret and pain. “I ran until I fell into the drink”

Idle Hours

A very disturbing story about a man who works in a sideshow of a travelling circus. His trick or
gimmick (which you are lured in by the barker for a small fee to enter the small tent) is called The Incredible Burning Hand.

He enters, the crowd applauds, and he proceeds to light a candle, placing his hand over the flame until its burning flesh. The crowd is appalled and sick and disgusted and exits the tent. Two shows a day, and in between he rests his hand in ice water while reading The Tempest.

His pain does not come from the show. The pain comes from the long agonising down time. The idle hours kill him."

She Drives Me Crazy

"My attempt to cover an awesome song. The crazy is not in affection.

In The Interest Of Time

Sarcastic, of a relationship, like I don't want to hear it, so in the interest of time and space,

Tooth And Nail

Asking for someone to stay with you until you perish. If you stay till the morning I can say
goodbye, when the sun shines.

Eternally Yours

The final nightmare.

Lights and Saviors

Thinking that your running to a safe place, only to find out it’s a lie."

You can find out more about Andy Bopp on his website here. Maker is released on Monday 21 October. Details of how you can listen to it and buy will be included in the Album Review later this week.

You can read the IDHAS Review of Andy Bopp's Wherewithal here and Blisters And Thorns here.


I Don't Hear A Single Audio Extravaganza Volume 82

Volume 82 of the Audio Extravaganza is ready for your attention.  21 of IDHAS's favourite songs this week, all with shiny new stickers on them. A reminder that these episodes are compiled with great care. The aim is to produce a sort of mix tape. Hopefully this will be the soundtrack to your day.

I've also learned that if you use the mixcloud player at the bottom of this page, each song title is shown as it plays.

Volume 81 was again in the Mixcloud Global Indie Chart and also made a debut on the Indie Rock Chart. The playlist is below and will also be in the comments section of the Mixcloud page. Thanks as always to Jim Moody for his technical excellence

You can listen to the previous IDHAS Audio Extravaganzas on Mixcloud here.

01 Dan Luke And The Raid - Disco Is As Disco Does
02 The Walker Brigade - Tower
03 Andy Bopp - In The Interest Of Time Pt 1
04 ANC4 - Easy Way Out
05 Aliens - Turned To Flame
06 Slumberjet - (Theme From) Our Street
07 WarrenScottband - She's A Little Bit Off
08 Propeller - There Goes A Day
09 A.C.T - Running Out Of Luck
10 The Hangabouts - Mrs. Greene
11 Big Eyes - Lucky You
12 Nick Piunti - All This Time
13 Mini Meltdowns - I Wanna Die
14 The Speedways - In Common With You
15 Youth Group - Oh James
16 White Reaper - Might Be Right
17 Tiny Fighter - Where Are You Now
18 Paint Fumes - Dice Eyes
19 Bubblegum Lemonade - When Life Gives You Lemons
20 Dream Ritual - Outside Your Window
21 Agony Aunts - Second Hand News

IDHAS Volume 82 Mixcloud Link 


Tuesday 15 October 2019


It's great to have Roger Arvidson back amongst us. Both Arvidson And Butterflies and the Blank Season EP enhanced the Gothenburg Singer Songwriter's reputation. Arvidson is part of a new Jangling Swedish Supergroup, ANC4.

ANC 4 is the abbreviated name of Arvidson & Nilsson Combo Four and Roger is joined by Tomas Nilsson of  The Mop Tops, Janne Borgh of The Moderns and Niclas Osterburg. As you'd expect the whole album is Rickenbacker heaven.

Arvidson and Nilsson's shared songwriting and split vocals works beautifully and the three part harmonies with Borgh enhance the songs. This allows the album to branch out, it isn't just about 12 Strings. There are hints of 70's Pop Rock and Country throughout.

The debut album is gentle and laid back, a real armchair listen, but it does stretch out. The Big Beat and Horns on Winner and the Celtic tinged instrumental Rain reveal the band's versatility. There's really jaunty sing along pop on both You're The One and Do You Wanna.

There's some lovely slide guitar on You Can Call Me Darling and a fantastic solo on It Don't Matter, a real gem of a song. When We Were There is very George Harrison, just as No More Words is very The Hollies. Broken Tune is in Jeff Lynne Territory.

For all this variety, it's the Jangling that people expect most and No Way Out and So Good To Me offer that in spades. But the stand out songs are the wonderful, The Chronicle and the joyous Psych Pop feel to Happy Again. The whole of this self titled debut is an absolutely cracking listen. It is highly recommended.

The physical album is released on two of my favourite labels. The 15 Track CD is on Kool Kat Records here. The 13 Track Vinyl version is available in White or Black at Beluga Records here. Beluga also have the album available for download here, where five of the songs can be listened to ahead of the 18 October release.

I've currently selected three of those five tracks to embed in this post, but I may change a couple after the album's release, because both Happy Again and The Chronicle are essential listens.


Monday 14 October 2019

Big Eyes - Streets Of The Lost

There's been a fair bit of activity on IDHAS today, but none has been particularly in the usual territory, so it's best to end on more familiar ground. Kait Eldridge has been leading Big Eyes for almost a decade through various line up changes.

Being back in New York, fronting a four piece version of the band, seems now to be nailing it. Big Eyes have a foot in Power Pop, albeit Noisy Power Pop. although that would be tagging them too simplistically. A  song like When Midnight Comes, for instance, is wonderfully shouty.

There's a Garage Rock looseness at times particularly on When Midnight Comes and even a CBGB's vibe on Try Hard Kiss Ass and a whole lot of sass on Young Dumb And Bored which borders on The Slits. It's the Guitar Pop that floats my boat most.

At The Top is riff-o-rama and Lucky You is a killer song. But the early Blondie-ish, Suddenly Nowhere is equally appealing. The Ridenour brothers certainly ensure that there's nothing samey or sit down here. Streets Of The Lost is real shake yer fist joy.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


A.C.T - Rebirth

Malmo's A.C.T. have been around for 15 years and they should be bigger. This 22 minute, five song, offering may do the trick. The Five Piece are lumped in with the Prog brigade and even more bizarrely Metal, yet this is much closer to Pop Rock.

I compare them more to early City Boy, maybe even Styx. They are far too chorus led and hook laden to be Prog and the impression is that they don't take themselves too seriously. In just five songs here they show off their versatility. They can do it all, AOR, Symphonic Rock, Straight Ahead Pop with only the odd hint of Modern Prog.

More modern similarities would be a less serious Vegas In Randolph or less showy V Sparks. Running Out Of Luck reveals what the band do best with it's constant changing kitchen sink joy. Meet The Past is top notch Pop Rock with a Andy Summers Police break.

A Broken Trust is almost AOR, maybe even Yes 90125. The Ruler Of The World id definitely in Dinner At The Ritz territory. I'm not sure that Digital Affair works, yes it is different, but if there is a Styx comparison, then this is their Mr Roboto.

Four Out Of Five Songs is a great pass rate and Rebirth is a hugely enjoyable listen. The band have a fantastic Live Reputaion, it'd be great to see them in the UK. Highly Recommended! Rebirth is available everywhere including Amazon UK here and the band's website here.


The Garden Of Earthly Delights

It's been a long while since we had a Garden Of Earthly Delights feature, so now seems as good a time as any. Here are four albums to rock your socks off.

Dream Ritual - Trips Around The Sun

Springfield MI's Dream Ritual are a noisy quartet. There's more than a hint of Grunge, which isn't the most hip thing to recommend these days, but this is drenched in a mixture of Psych and Space Rock that is really effective. 

The album is very riff led. I'm reminded a lot of Rush's Vapor Trails in style, but the vocal is much heavier. There's a hell of a lot to like here, particularly Shot In The Back which has hints of Soundgarden. Faster is a real hair shaker too.

The addition of Liz Carney on Backing Vocals on Outside Your Window and Stones adds a different dimension. The former is the best track on the album mixing a Spaghetti Western Riff with the dulcet tones of Carney and adding some great Guitar. You can listen to and buy the album here

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate - Ark

Although more known in Prog Circles, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate are far more than that. Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland offer up big soundscapes. They are as at home with Alt Rock as they are Classical and so it's always a joy to hear what they have come up with.

Arc is a wonderful multi movement piece based on the Arc Royal. It's almost Classical in it's build, a modern day symphony if you like. It's a riveting listen. It's almost 12 minutes long, but feels half that. You just don't want it to end.

Chasing Neon is very different. A synth extravaganza that is somewhere between Jean Michel Jarre and The Orb. It reminds me a lot of parts of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells 3. Having provided two very different instrumental pieces, the final track has Galloway on Vocals and is gentle Celtic Folk that includes a big Electric Guitar stuff. I absolutely love all three pieces, Ark is a cracking listen.

You can listen to and buy Ark here.

Beauty in Chaos - Beauty Re-Envisioned

Finding Beauty In Chaos was released in September 2018 and was one of the real surprises of last year. A project curated by Human Drama and Gene Loves Jezabel Guitarist, Michael Ciravolo, Ciravolo gathered up a host of Special Guests including Cheap Trick's Robin Zamer, The Mission's Wayne Hussey, The Cure's Simon Gallup amd Ministry's Al Jourgensen.

The results were stunning and here the album is revisited by passing the songs back to the artists, producers and DJ's to remix the original album. In some cases, alternate takes are used. What shouldn't work, more than does. The album is given new life without changing too much of what made it so listenable in the first place.

Any one of these 14 songs can be recommended. But the stand outs are Robin Zander and Michael Anthony's Drifting Away, Evi Vine's fascinating I Will Follow and in particular, Hussey and Gallup's fantastic Man Of Faith. The latter song is reworked twice, the Preacher Man Mix being my favourite.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

GOSTO - What Do You Mean 'You Need A Colour TV'

What Do You Mean 'You Need A Colour TV' is not the type of album that most of us would normally listen to. That isn't a reason not to though and this is a different, but enjoyable listen. The album is suitably moody, but strangely hypnotic.

Roel Vermeer is a singer and multi instrumentalist from Amsterdam. The instrumentation is innovative and lends itself to his sometimes laid back croon. Twice is Gosto at his most upbeat and as a chorus that compares with any great Pop Rock, think Wax or 10CC.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


The Injured Parties - Product Placement

The easiest way to describe Chicago's The Injured Parties is with the word Fun. There's a real warmth across these 11 stories, laced with wit, accompanied by what are Indie Guitar Pop arrangements. These are songs to smile with, lovingly played.

Larry O.Dean's vocals come across as something between Fred Schneider and They Might Be Giants. The lyrics concentrate on the banal without ever being boring. In fact they make dull subjects all the more interesting. That smile is forever etched on your face.

Perhaps there is a twee feel at times, but that's always endearing and the arrangements vary from the Indie Rock of Murder The Truth to the Pop gem of Bangkok. Song Titles like Frosted Flakes and Totally Naked Celebrities tell you all you need to know about the fun element.

Yet these songs are not throwaways, they are intelligently arranged with all the hooks and relevant jangles. I Let Myself Go is a moody closer, self critical and provides an opposite angle from all that you've heard before. Product Placement is a joy to listen to and you can't say that often enough these days.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Sunday 13 October 2019

WarrenScottBand - The New Deal

I was only recently thinking that New York had gone a bit quiet lately when up pops up the debut full length album from Brooklyn Trio, WarrenScottBand. The band have been together since 2004, releasing an EP in 2011, but it is this album that announces them properly to the world.

The New Deal isn't like your average Debut Album, these 10 songs are beautifully played, expertly recorded and fully formed. The sound is big and the material is incredibly varied. It is one of the big surprises of 2019 to me. This is such a fine listen.

So how would I describe the band? Well............they are a cross between The Wrecking Crew and a Chorus led R.E.M. There is a real lyrical depth that separates them from the Lost Love brigade and enhances the different musical directions.

WarrenScottBand cover all the bases expertly. For one song you can envisage then in a Sunset Boulevard Studio, the next Nashville. There are hints of Reggae and then a full blown Rock Out solo. One minute they are 60's Beat, the next 90's Indie. This is all achieved without ever loosing the album's seam. The songs are not all over the place, each feeling like a natural progression.

Good Afternoon is in Jayhawks Territory, Something2Listen2 could be Barenaked Ladies and She's A Little Bit Off is FM Top 40 material with it's massive chorus. St Christopher starts off so IRS and then morphs into a Ska chorus.

Spent is very Michael Stipe, yet the closing Nancy Lee is a tender 60's weepie. The title track will get a lot off attention, rightly so, it's a big quick changing introduction, but it's the whole album that deserves your concentration. Wonderfully written, The New Deal is a revelation. I can't recommend this album highly enough.

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


Thursday 10 October 2019

The GoAllTheWays - Silly Girl (Video Premiere)

Welcome to another IDHAS Video Premiere and this is a cracker. The GoAllTheWays are a Supergroup, a Power Pop band, inspired by a book about Power Pop bands. The debut single Silly Girl B/W Tourist is released tomorrow (Friday 11 October) as part of the wonderful Big Stir Digital Single Series. Incidentally, I've just filed an article on that Digital Single Series and an abbreviated version will appear here after publication.

The single is released in partnership with Rare Red Books. This fast and furious project sprang from the pages of Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop (Rare Bird Books). The idea was to flip the 'punks covering pop songs' trope to exploit the hidden harmonies and hooks in a couple of the group's favorite bashers. More reasonable musicians might have had a few punch-drunk laughs about this concept and moved on with their lives. Not this assemblage of LA pop scene veterans.

The band consist of Jeff Whalen (Tsar, The Brothers Steve); Rex Broome (The Armoires, Big Stir Records); Tyson Cornell (Rare Bird Lit); Marko DeSantis (Sugarcult), and Steve Coulter (aka S.W. Lauden, who co-edited Go All The Way with Paul Myers). This LA-based stupor group immediately booked time at a hidden recording studio and got to work.

The result is a jangling re-imagining of "Silly Girl" (by SoCal punk heroes The Descendents) and a wistful take on "Tourist" (by Florida underground legends The Pink Lincolns). TheGoAllTheWays lovingly reconstructed these 80's cult classics with Rickenbacker guitars, stacked vocals and driving rhythms, all adorned with backing vocals galore, thunderous hand claps and furiously shaking tambourines.

Without further ado, here is the IDHAS Video Premiere of Silly Girl for your delight.

If you've read this far, you probably have your own definition of power pop. The band don't claim to be experts, but their money's on this quote from Pulitzer-winning author Michael Chabon's excellent Go All The Way essay, "Tragic Magic": "Finally, power pop at its purest is the music of hit records that miss."

You can buy the single for the bargain price of a dollar. That's 50 Cents a song. Just head here to make your purchase. You can find out more about the book "Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop" and make your purchase here.

The Brother's Steve album is released on CD tomorrow. You can find out more from the IDHAS Review here and purchase the CD here. The vinyl edition is still available here. Finally, you can buy the new album by The Armoires here and find out more about Big Stir Records here.


Various - Shake Yer Popboomerang Volume 3

Scott Thurling is a revelation, a standard bearer for Power Pop, past and present. He doesn't shout about himself as much as others, but he is just as relevant. He has kept the spirit alive in Australia during a time when Guitars have become more and more unfashionable. He's not a homey though, he celebrates great Guitar Pop from wherever it originates.

His knowledge of the likes of Brit Pop is immense, he can introduce you to so many great lost albums. Since 2002, his Popboomerang Label have amassed over 100 releases, showcasing some fine talent, but it's the Shake Yer Popboomerang compilations that reveal most.

The third SYP Volume is a double disc of delights that informs everyone, including me, about artists they should know more about. It's a fantastic collection of artists new and not so new and I don't see a better compilation around anywhere.

There are so many IDHAS faves here including, DM3, Danny McDonald, Bryan Estepa, Even, The Kariannes, The Golden Rail and Wade Jackson. Then there are the bands that I've discovered this year, most notably the superb Blackbirds FC.

Volume 3 is another mix of great Australian Guitar music, some new, some borrowed, but none Blue. It's really difficult to highlight individual artists when all 37 songs are so strong. It's much better that you listen to the songs yourself, none will disappoint.

It is however, hard not to acknowledge Dom Mariani, both he and Tommy Keene were largely responsible for where I am now Power Pop wise. At the other end of the scale, Bryan Estepa has released an album that should be high up in many reviewer's Best Of 2019's.

The beauty of the Popboomerang label is the diversity, it's like a celebration of both the Guitar and great Pop Rock. From Jangle to Psych Pop, From Rock Out to Ballad, it's all here in this essential compilation. Well done Scott! That's something that we don't say enough.

You can listen to and buy Shake Your Popboomerang Volume 3 here.