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Sunday 28 February 2021

The Gold Needles - What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You (Updated)

The Gold Needles are from Hull, but you really feel they should be from the West Coast Of America. It has been great to see their development on this their third album. I reviewed their first two albums on here and number three doesn't disappoint. It is also worth noting that Mark English, the keyboard player, is one of the nicest guys that you could ever be introduced to. 

The band specialise in a type of Psych Pop that is very Sixties with the emphasis more on Pop. It is a brand of Psych Pop that certainly isn't Paisley Shirt, more like Fisherman's Jumper. A cross maybe between Graham Nash era Hollies and The Seekers.

That's not to give the impression that this is an album for pipe and slippers. When the band break out, they do so with an admirable urgency. Story Of My Life is a smashing slice of New Wave Power Pop and Suzie Is Sorted is 1974 UK Glam Rock at it's best whilst still having overtones of 60's Toy Town Pop in the chorus.

Dead Man's Hand verges on Blues Rock, almost Blue Oyster Cult at times and the lead single, Billy Liar is an absolute joy. The latter sums up everything that is great about The Gold Needles, it is a romp of a single, there are hooks everywhere.

Special mention must go to the wonderful mind blowing, Realm Of The Black Dog, an absolute Psych masterpiece about Depression. It could very well be the best thing that you will hear all year. The title track, I Get The Pressure and Precious Times are more in the aforementioned, laidback pop mould, all great songs, beautifully played, arranged and sung, 

Three covers in a 12 song set is a lot, but The Hollies' Have You Ever Loved Somebody? is an exceptional version of a great song and more people should cover The Sound. The resulting Counting The Days is very different to what surrounds it, maybe a more modern slant. I'm not sure though that the world needs any more Beatles related covers, other bands are available.

I'm convinced that listening to this album will drive potential buyers to open their purses. What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You is a fantastic album, at its best when it explodes out. I don't see many other bands that are as consistently excellent as this lot. Highly Recommended.

You can buy the album on Vinyl, CD or as a download here


Friday 26 February 2021

The Young Hearts - The Modern State


Back in late 2017, I reviewed The Young Hearts' EP, Honestly I'm Just Thinking. You can read that here. Now that the band's full length debut is with us, it is great to see that they have not lost any of the promise of that EP. It is also a chance to reflect on the mistaken impression that the older audience have of Pop Punk. 

The Young Hearts are not Pop Punk. Although their roots are in it, they are still lumped in with the genre. There's also nothing wrong with that, except music fans think there is. It used to be that people saw the word Punk and ran. Now it is more than that. The genre is held back by an impression of baggy half pants and automated robotic, almost talking, singing. A thought that it is a young man's game that should not be your cup of tea. A Leave it down wiv da kidz attitude.

It is worth noting that the genre has moved on and there is not much left of it. This opinion on yoof is a misidentification. The early adopters of the genre are now approaching middle age and the scene has developed into a showcase of more every day talent. Very much as I am associated with Power Pop writing, but write little about True Power Pop these days, so Pop Punk bands are still associated with the word "Yo".

You can tell that The Young Hearts roots were in Pop Punk, but they have grown into one of the best UK Indie Guitar bands and let's face it, there are few of those about at the moment. The UK Music obsession with algorithms and preaching that the Guitar is dead is proved unfounded when you hear an album as good as this. 

Here are 11 songs that are built on melodic riffs and big choruses. These four can play and do so at an almost breakneck pace. The choruses are memorable and become ear worms. Guitar solos hit the spot without, thankfully, ever being plank spanking.

If you want something slower, here's Swim, a song that threatens to break out in to something almost Celtic. Anchors is another example of suitable moodiness with a wonderful organ run. You can even get your Lighters out, if you can find them amongst the Vape Liquid collection, to the title track.

But it is that pace that suits the band best and that'll be demonstrated if live venues ever reopen. Songs such as Wild And Restless and Easy Life get those fists pumping and London is a gem of a song. The Modern State isn't a Pop Punk offering, it is a great Guitar album. Proof that the Guitar isn't dead and the UK is also about real instruments.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Thursday 25 February 2021

Your Academy - Your Academy

I've sat on this for a month or two, although I have played Heaven Knows on The IDHAS Audio Extravaganza. Now that I'm back in the review chair, I can't hold out any longer. Your Academy's self titled album is an outstanding Pop Rock offering that I know will feature on many more Power Pop Blogs as the year progresses.

After failed attempts to reform Crash Into June, a band many of us are familiar with, for a new album, Johnny Norris gathered together Your Academy. Featuring Chris Gafford and Dan Shumake who were on the CIJ debut, Blind To Blue, Brandon McGovern, a solo artist who had played Guitar in Dwight Twilley's band and producer and Big Star archivist, Adam Hill. 

Labelled as a return to Memphis Power Pop, the album sounds much more than that. It cuts across classic Pop Rock such as Raspberries, whilst taking on AOR, the Country Rock of say, Lonestar and more modern examples of Indie. 

Heaven Knows is a wonderful country pop-esque single whilst Why Don't We has real Vegas With Randolph overtones. Bluff City could be Desperado period, Eagles and Better Nature is upbeat Jangle Pop at its best. I hate to mention Teenage Fanclub in fear of the Cliche Police, but Starlight really does sound modern day TFC.

A number of things ring out. Adam Hill's production is wonderfully big and bold and the quality of the songs are to be applauded. Superb harmonies and arrangements and some top notch playing. But the real stand out is McGovern's vocals. Easy and Gentle on the ear, they are wonderfully laid back. 

The album has me running to dig out his four solo albums, but Your Academy feel very much like a sum of the parts five piece. I really hope this isn't a one off album, because I'd love to hear much in the future. This album is a splendid laid back listen.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Teen Creeps - Forever


2018's debut album, Birthmark, was loose and wonderfully scratchy, certainly marking out Belgium's Teen Creeps as one to watch. It was a cracking slab of College Alt Rock at a time when many weren't doing it. It felt as though the band had been let loose in the studio with the tapes left on.

The follow up finds the trio in a slightly more polished mode. The earthiness hasn't been lost, it just seems to be tempered. The noise is still upfront, but harnessed by melodic riffs and each rift is held on to throughout. 

The result comes across as a poppier Dinosaur Jr. When Burt Vliegen shouts out a chorus, it is as though he's rebelling against the harmonic hook of a song, take, for instance, Hideaway and Toughen Up as examples. There's also more than a hint of grunge that leaks out of the songs.

Defender is a cracking song, very early Radiohead, moody and hypnotic. The title track is Crash Bang in a second half of the Eighties Glasgow way. Tourist is built around one hell of a hook in a song that edges towards Pop Punk.

Seeing Shapes can't decide if it wants to be UK Indie Rock or The Vapors, but the mix is enthralling. Very UK when the overall album sound is far more American.  This joy is topped by Signal Dream, when a fine verse drawl leads into a killer chorus.

For all these riffs, the closer Crash/Land is a six minutes noisefest. A corking listen, but completely out of kilter with what has gone before. You do sense that the band are undecided about the direction to head in. They do the more commercial stuff so well, I'd suggest that may be the way to go. In the meantime, this is a top notch album and unlike a lot of what's around at present.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Monday 22 February 2021

Mick Dillingham Interviews : Star Collector


(Photo Credit : Jan Heuninck 2019)

When Don mentioned there was a brand new album ‘Game Day’ by Canadian pop rock outfit Star Collector, their first since 2006’s excellent ‘Hundred-Bullet-Proof’, I was on it like a bear to a honey pot.  I’ve long been a big fan of the band, great melodic heart felt songs, original and masterfully played, high energy without ever being noisy, beautifully crafted sonic adventure productions…basically everything I look for in a joyful and gratifying and classy listening experience. 

Built around the superbly multitalented Vic Wayne, the band are also blessed with one hell of a guitarist in Steve Monteith who brings that same special joyful blazing and inventive magic to the band sound as Whit Williams does to Cotton Mather. Once it became abundantly clear that ‘Game Day’ is a more than perfect addition to their already four album legacy of greatness so far it was clear that we needed to sit down with the main man himself. Allowing us to run helter-skelter through the story of the band so far.   

So as Department S would put it…Is Vic There?  .

"My first loves were The Monkees “Hey hey… didn’t you call your band, Star Collector?” and The Beatles (d-uh) as a wee youngster. At ten, I discovered Alice Cooper after hearing “No More Mr. Nice Guy” on a jukebox at our neighbourhood pizza joint. It was a game changer, and soon after that Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith & Tom Petty. 

Then, at seventeen it was back to the egg, as it were, to The Jam, The Who and the Mod Revival. I also loved Echo & The Bunnymen and Squeeze and, though I came to them a bit later, Big Star, Sloan and Oasis. I still am a huge fan of all these artists. I believe all their influences show up somewhere in our stuff… and proudly!"

"I started at ten as a drummer and had imaginary bands with my friends and my younger brother, Adam, who took piano. We were always trying to write songs, even before we could play. In true Alice form, my very first song was “Death Is Just Around The Corner” which was kind of a “Ballad of Dwight Fry” thing - all creepy and scary! I formed a bunch of teenage bands, mostly crap, but we were yearnin’ n’ learnin’. 

At sixteen, a neighbourhood friend and his friend showed up in my basement unannounced to form a band. I said sure, with the contingency my brother was part of it. That band morphed into a trio after a year with Adam now on bass and the friend, Dave Lawson, on guitar (Everybody sings! Everybody plays!). Hugely against the prevailing grain at the time, we formed a Mod band, suitably called, you guessed it… The Mods! 

Well, at that time in Edmonton, AB, Canada, we thought it worked; not realizing it’d be like calling your band “The Rock & Roll Band”... but, hey, we were teens. Wearing suits a la The Jam caused us all sorts of pain at school but we soon found a small, but supportive, alt music community, which had guys who went on to fame in SNFU & The Pursuit of Happiness. We even flew to Vancouver on my grad weekend to catch The Jam’s last ever North American show. My tale is captured in all its teenage glory in the book, ‘The Jam - The Day I Was There’. 

We wrote a bunch of good tunes, got one song on a comp. after we changed our name to The Standards (hello Weller again…) & then split. Adam & I formed a new wave band (more Bunnymen, U2-ish) called Truth, while Dave briefly joined an early incarnation of alt-country pioneers, Jr. Gone Wild. Truth did an album, ‘Day After Dark’ and then split.

At that point, I moved to Vancouver and started a band that went nowhere, so with the encouragement of my girlfriend at the time, now my lovely wife, I traded in my drums for a guitar and amp. Fortuitously, while waiting tables soon after, I met my long-time collaborator, guitarist/vocalist, Steve Monteith, who we affectionately call ‘The Monkey’ (previously ‘The Full Monteith’), and asked him to join my band, State of Mind. 

I was the lead vocalist and second guitarist and we did well locally. In ’91 we put out an album, ‘The Road Inside’, made a video, won a big Battle of the Bands (“School of Rock! School of Rock!”) and got TV and radio play. But then after a rhythm section change, we became the moodier Dear God, which really was more Bunnymen meets STP than Mod. We did an album, ‘Real Horrorshow’ in 93 that I’m still really proud of, charted a bit, toured, two videos on Much Music (Canada’s MTV) & then imploded… *BIG exhale*"

"After a brief hiatus, I get a call out of the blue from Dave saying he’s moving to Vancouver and would I be interested in writing together again? We’d had good chemistry as teens so, why the hell not? We wrote the first album, ‘Demo Model 256’ in a span of about five months and then needed a band to record it. Enter Ringo (Rene Lafleur) on drums, who would go on to be with me for over twenty years. As fate would have it, Dave left near the end of recording, so re-enter Steve to take back lead guitar/harmony duties. 

We’d traded a vintage Vox amp to well-known producer, GGGarth Richardson (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Catherine Wheel), in exchange for mixing the album - on his condition that he dug the tunes. Fortunately, he dug the tunes. It featured “Skyscraper” (which we made a video for), “Slowfade” which appeared on a TV show here in Canada & a few other nuggets like“ The Deep End” and “Motorcycle” which we still play to this day. We also added bassist, Rob Medic, and started gigging. 

The next album ‘Black-Eyed Soul’, which GGGarth was also involved with, was recorded at The Warehouse which is a big studio in Vancouver owned by Bryan Adams, co-produced by yours truly and Dean Maher (Hedley). We were recording next door to Canadian legends Sloan as they finished their ‘Pretty Together’ album. 

Considering Steve had taken over from Dave (also as my co-writer for a bunch of songs) and Rob leaving amicably, making way for Screamin’ Jonny Leamon on bass, it all went rather smoothly.  It included “So Beautiful” which charted on a few stations here, “Ten Feet Tall” (a crowd fave), “When The Pill Goes Down”, and “Have You Seen Suzie?” which we still do as well."

"Around this time, a mutual photographer friend suggested to Kevin Kane from The Grapes of Wrath, one of my fave & best Canadian bands ever, that he check us out. He wanted to do more producing and we hit it off immediately. We agreed to co-produce our next album ‘Flash-Arrows & The Money Shot’, which featured, yet again, a new bassist, Tyson ‘Marv Pontiac’ Maiko (Leeroy Stagger, Gob) and a looser, rawer, garage-ier sound but still power pop, just more power! Steve loved having Kevin on board as they’re both real guitarists while I ’m more of a faux, windmills- n’-flash rhythm player. 

Tyson was also a monster bass player, Ringo was at the top of his game, and we pre-productioned the shit outta that album. We did the whole thing, start to finished mixes, in fourteen days! Kevin also played & sang on the record. It featured some of my fave co-writes with Steve (“Start To Shine”, “Overpass”, “Firebird”, “Get It For Free!”) as well as co-writes with Kevin (“Bounty On The Mutiny”) and Dave, including the first single, “Love And All It Kills”, which got on radio/tv and comps.

So, we finish this album, and, you guessed it, another bass change! … Spinal Tap drummers got nothin’ on us. Tyson leaves and Shane Hayes joins us. In between these, we go to Europe for the first time & play The Cavern in Liverpool for IPO and dates in London & Germany with my brother Adam, back on bass. For the two of us, playing The Cavern was like a childhood dream come true and doing it with Steve & Ringo, two of the best guys you’ll ever meet, well, that’s one for the memory books. 

Okay, so Shane joins & the next year we go back to Europe, do the Cavern again, and add more dates in England, Germany and Holland. We called it the ‘Finding Netherlands’ Tour, and again, twas great fun, booting around Europe in a big truck owned and driven by our road manager, Bjorn. Bjorn had his own band, Locas In Love, which were getting popular in Germany. 

He was a godsend… picked us up from the airport in UK, drove us all over the freakin’ place for weeks and then back to Gatwick airport before turning around and making the long drive back to Germany… for a pittance!. We get some great international press, are hosted by the Mayor of a small German town whose name escapes me, and Shane wins a drinking (puking?) contest with some guy, winning a pair of sweet shoes out of the deal."

"We go back home and record ‘Hundred-Bullet-Proof’ again with Kevin and the same engineer, Ryen Froggatt. We even get Adam to come sing on a tune, “Thrilled, I’m Sure” with me that Dave and I wrote a few years before. It was almost like having The Mods back together again… well, not exactly, but it makes good copy, as they say! 

The album included the single “The Evil Room” about when Adam, Dave and I were teens in my parents’ basement in a tucked away room of my Dad’s, where we held hands, séance style, in the dark & made a pact to one day be bigger than The Beatles… Haha… as I often say onstage, “And look, we’re all taller than them! “Ba Dum Bum. “Thank you, there’ll be another show at 9:30; try the veal!”. 

I wrote that with Dave long-distance-style and it’s one I’m quite fond of. Steve and I also wrote the title track, and I came up with crowd fave “Play A New Song” about when you’re playing to a room of ten in some small town and the one-hand clapping is deafening, but not so much as to drown out the drunken calls of “Play “Freebird’!”  

Ah, original music… Unfortunately, Shane leaves just before the tour, so we recruit engineer, Ryen, for a crash course and do Europe for the third time. This time we get to Scotland as well and between Ryen and Ringo it’s non-stop belly laughs. Funny tale… we’re heading out of London after staying with some friends (one of whom, Jim Drury, knew Squeeze & wrote a book, ‘Squeeze: Song by Song’ - nice!), and Ringo realizes he’s lost his passport! Uggh… he’s frantic, so we call our friends back in London.  

That night, a despondent Ringo is back to his jovial cheery beery self as a snoopy neighbour of our friends’ who was spying through the curtains wondering what a bunch of ruffians were doing at her neighbours’, saw it fall out of Ringo’s pack & dutifully returned it. Crisis averted."

"So, we play for a couple more years with Adam, Kevin & others filling in on bass; then take a hiatus in 2009. My wife and I have a couple incredible sons; Steve becomes a… wait for it…  marathon runner!  Ringo buys a restaurant. We’re all still pals but it was time for a break. A few years later, a musician friend, Derek MacDonald, who ended up playing organ on a couple tunes on the new album, asks if we’d be up for a brief reunion. We slowly started playing again, not a ton and not writing yet, but enjoying it immensely.

So, in 2017, some serious shite happens in my world and inspires me to start writing again. Once I’d started, the floodgates opened and this album, ‘Game Day’ just poured out. Not totally without changes mind you, as we parted ways with Shane again during recording and Adam came back as bassist. Also, after two decades, Ringo had a kid and he and his wife moved to Edmonton so, in 2018 we added new ace stick man, Adrian Buckley, who also happened to be an engineer extraordinaire. He recorded, mixed, and mastered ‘Game Day; and I produced. 

Steve co-wrote a few songs with me too, including the title track/second single, which is a real personal fave and the cherry on top is Adam’s incredible Vapors meets Foxton meets Entwhistle bass line. Fuck-ing-Love-it! First single, “Rip It Off” has been getting some sweet love already, airplay, reviews, playlists/compilations and just came out a couple weeks ago. 

Steve did a fab video for it and a second one for the song “Game Day” is almost done. Songs like “Super Zero Blues” & “Green Eyes” really feature the others’ musicianship, and it spans pop “Cayenne & Caramel” to acoustic “Hook, Line & Singer” to dark n’ heavy “Super Zero Blues” all sprinkled with my Weller/Townshend/McCulloch lyrical thing. ‘Game Day’ took a year to make &, though it took longer than anything I’d done before, I’m fiercely proud of the result and it’s very personal to me."

"The songwriting process for me almost always comes from chords first, melody second, and lyrics last. When I co-write music with Steve, or anyone, the music is usually the base and I find lyrical subject matter and melody that suits its tone and mood. Sometimes, I may have strong themes or ideas lyrically, but they rarely are structured or finished before the music is close. 

I remember hearing Keith Richards say, “the songs are out there, man, and I just channel them” (paraphrasing) vs. Paul Simon who structures his songwriting like a job – hard work, dedicated time, and resolve (inspiration too, of course) but of the two diametrically opposed approaches. I’m somewhere in the middle. Usually, inspiration hits and gets me messing about on my acoustic, refining and a lot of “try this… nahh… try that… umm, that’s trash… how ’bout this… hmm, maybe…”. 

Even after saying all that, it’s still a bit of a mystery to me sometimes. I do know that the more you write, the more you can sift out the poop and keep the decent stuff… and the more you recognize your own strengths and weaknesses. 

I love producing our stuff, partially out a need to control (haha), but mostly because I have ideas of how the songs sound in my cranium. I’m still not a technical producer, but I’ve been blessed to work with some great engineers, Adrian included, and co-producers, especially Kevin. 

In fact, Kevin did a wicked guitar solo duel with Steve on “Funeral Party” to close the album that had me, Adam and Adrian hanging on for dear life! As for the guitar sound of the band, well, again, that’s mostly down to Steve, my partner in crime, Running Man, and Robin to my Batman (minus the tights) lo these many moons."

"So far, the feedback has been incredible! We’ve only been sending music out for play and review for a couple weeks and have been added to Spotify’s Indie Guitar playlist, Say It With Garage Flowers Best of 2021 So Far, Banks Radio Australia, Ice Cream Man’s ‘Chimes That Reel & Rock’ compilation and played on TargetRadioUK, The Music Authority, Plastico Elastico, Poptopia Parkway By the time this is published, Power Pop Rock, Power Pop Overdose, The Big Takeover with Jack Rabid, an Interview on Say It With Garage Flowers and Mr. Suave’s Modcast will be added to the collection.

As for plans, well, Covid has changed everything for everyone so we’re pivoting, as they say and focusing on videos, airplay and social to promote ‘Game Day’. Playing live is so much fun but whattayagonnado?! If there’s a bright side to all this craziness for me, though, it’s that I’ve written about two-thirds of our next album already!"

(Photo Credit : Jan Heuninck 2019)

You can listen to and buy Game Day and the Star Collector Back Catalogue here.. A full review of the album will appear on I Don't Hear A Single before the end of the month.


Kool Kat Musik Weekly New Release Update

Welcome to the Kool Kat Weekly New Release Update. Kool Kat are distributed in the UK and Europe by I Don't Hear A Single as part of our aim to keep CDs available and affordable. The Kool Kat Links with each album take you to further details on each release.

This is the last week of THE KOOL KAT 10% OFF SALE which runs until Sunday, February 28!  Over the years the sale has been held traditionally in January, but due to delayed delivery issues within the US Postal system, Kool Kat decided to hold off until the system was running a little smoother.  If paying by credit card, the discount will be applied to your order at checkout.  If paying by PayPal, you will be refunded the difference upon receipt of the order.


Please place all UK and European orders by following the details here. Links to Kool Kat's Entire Stock can be found here. Without further ado, here are seven new additions to Kool Kat Musik this Week.

Brian Bringelson - Burning Backwards (Kool Kat Musik) 2021      $13

NEW RELEASE ON THE KOOL KAT MUSIK LABEL – AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 26 – ACCEPTING ORDERS NOW!!  Brian’s brilliant 2020 release “Desperate Days” has garnered rave reviews, such as – “Smart pop with big harmonies and bigger choruses”,   and certainly caught our attention.  In the past we’ve sold Brian’s releases as Paul Starling, but had no idea it was him that was the one producing such fine, melodic music.  Brian recorded most of the tracks for “Burning Backwards” in 2019 while his band Anchor & Bear was recording their second album “Raincoats and Gold”.  Having the good fortune to record tracks with the band and then head home and work on solo material was truly a luxury for him.  At the time he didn’t really have the idea of releasing a solo album and mainly had his sights set on the new Anchor & Bear release.  But after that was said and done he found himself with a batch of solo songs that seemed like they might make up a cool little album – which they most certainly do. Instead of putting out another Paul Starling album he decided to just release it under his own name. If you liked “Desperate Days”, you’re gonna like “Burning Backwards“ just as much! 

Kool Kat Link

Apple Music Link

Dolph Chaney - This Is Dolph Chaney (Big Stir Records) 2021      $12


“This Is Dolph Chaney” is the follow up to last year's watershed release “Rebuilding Permit” and features 13 tracks produced by Nick Bertling.  The album is hot on the heels of the many honours and breakthroughs of 2020 which culminated in his coronation as Woody Radio's “Artist Of The Year”.  The title reflects the game plan that organically drove the collaboration: an album featuring new arrangements of what had been solo lo-fi songs from Dolph's back catalogue that begged for something more.  Bertling introduces a clear, direct approach to the songs written between 1991 and 2008, sourced from five of Dolph's albums. Resulting in all receive empathetic reworkings – some drastic, some subtle, all emblematic of the “next level” production mastery that Bertling brings to the table.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

Rob Fetters - Ship Shake (Baby Ranch Records) 2020      $15

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Rob Fetters (The Bears, Psychodots, The Raisins) is here to remind us that intelligent pop music is still possible in the modern music era.  Introspective, a little spiritual, and quite snarky at times, Fetters fires through a set of mostly up-tempo rockers that bring a smile while displaying the maturity of a man living his life with his heart on his sleeve and dealing with the consequences of doing just that. The record is, in most respects, a textbook example of Fetters' artful craft.  Sonically, the songs range from bracing and engaging Pop Rock to lilting balladry. 


Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

The Gold Needles - What’s Tomorrow Ever Done For You? (JEM Records) 2021      $15

Hull's The Gold Needles’ third album, following their critically acclaimed sophomore effort “Through A Window. The band seemed to get compared to many influences, but the sound and performances are distinctly their own. Superb Psych Pop with the emphasis on Pop. The Grip Weeds’ Kurt Reil guests on background vocals, drums, and mixing and mastering.  "What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You?" is a little more commercial than the previous two albums, but lacks none of the band's trademark depth.

Bandcamp Link

MOM - Pleasure Island (Self Released Sweden) 2020     $11

MOM offer up a debut album of great guitar pop.  For a band so young to be so 1979 and yet so refreshing and endearing is no mean feat. The feel is definitely turn of the 70's US New Wave and it is done incredibly well.  The hooks are everywhere. The choruses are big. The songs are one long sing along. There's nothing complicated here, just well written songs from a trio who are obviously enjoying themselves..  

The Scruffs - Teenage Tragedies 1974-1979 (Mono-Tone Records France) 2020      $15

Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, The Scruffs are best known for their classic power pop LP “Wanna Meet The Scruffs?” issued in 1977 on Power Play Records.  One of the great lost Power Pop bands are anthologised. We should all be grateful. 

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

The Shambles - Live At The Casbah (Snap!! Records Spain) 2020      $16

Originally released in 2013, and unavailable for some time, Spain’s Snap!! Records re-issues “Live At The Casbah”, adding two tracks to the original 12 track release!  The songs were recorded at the San Diego, CA club in 2004.  Essentially. The Shambles are a San Diego Mod revival combo that missed the local 80’s Mod revival by a good half-decade.  They were at their best Live.

Kool Kat Link  

Bandcamp Link


Saturday 20 February 2021

Ex Norwegian And Friends - Sing Jimmy Campbell

I listen to a lot of music, but it isn't often that a release is so close to my heart. Jimmy Campbell is one of the great lost songwriters, a musician who could move from pop to psych with ease. Talking of moving from Pop to Psych. Ex Norwegian are a band who do that also. As many of you know the band are a real favourite of mine. Indeed. 2018's superb No Sleep album was the I Don't Hear A Single album of the year.

Roger Houdaille is a massive fan of Jimmy's. as well as another hero of mine, Ollie Halsall. So his idea to have his band work with 14 artists from around the world to cover the great man's songs made my eyes light up.

I've been fortunate enough to have the album for a week or two and every play just sounds better and better. The idea of the album thrilled me. For it to turn out so fantastic delights me more. You can listen to these songs as though it is the first time you've heard them. For many it will be. 

The album is released on April 2nd. I'll make this into a post on IDHAS tomorrow and will do a full album review nearer the release date. The Track list is below. In the meantime, an album sampler is linked below with the pre order link below the track order.

01. Yes It Is feat. Joe Kane

02. Forever Grateful feat. Coke Belda

03. Stayed Out Late Last Night feat. The Elms Estate

04. Don't You Ever Think I Cry feat. Jim Camacho

05. Half Baked feat. Rhys Marsh

06. Missing Kissing You feat. John Ford

07. You'll Break My Heart In Two feat. Edward Rogers

08. You're Spending All My Money feat. Mark Johnston

09. That's Right, That's Me feat. DC Cardwell

10. Baby, Walk Out With Your Darlin' Man feat. John Howard

11. Flowers Are Flowering feat. Cherry Parke

12. Paris, You're In Paris feat. Rome56

13. When I Cross Your Path feat. Esteban Cisneros

14. Loving You Is All I Do feat. Kevin Robertson

The album is available as a CD, Vinyl LP or Download.

Pre Order Links


Tuesday 16 February 2021

Intercooler - Read The Room


I'm not the arbiter of taste or the fountain of knowledge of what is happening musically worldwide, so I can only speak for IDHAS circles. In that 360 degree pressure cooker, there is a real sense that Australia is back. 2020 has been a real plus for the type of music we listen to Down Under. 

There had been a time when Australia had been a haven for Indie Rock and that seemed to decline over the past decade. The country seemed Every Day Modern Pop, bar the odd Psych excitement. A sort of soulless shopping mall that you see in every town. It seemed to miss the Guitar. 

That's very much been remedied in the past 12 months by both the bands that stuck it out, new bands and bands that have reformed. The reformed bands have largely without exception offered up top notch albums that may have even been better than in their heyday.

It is true to say that Brisbane's Intercooler have always been splendid. They are also not your typical Oz Band. Read The Room, which has been four years in the making, largely due to logistics, comes across as a hybrid of the American ilk of Fountains Of Wayne and the better end of Brit Pop, yet turns to Psych Pop effortlessly.

This really is a great Pop Rock affair. You sense that the band are well schooled in Power Pop, but the band's ability and way with melody moves them much further than three chords. Live Life Like I Oughta has that Brit Pop "Altogether Now" swagger.

Having said that, The Colder Golden Town is pure Jangle-ish Power Pop. Sun Shines All Night is a cracking slice of Psych Pop and Dreams Coming follows a similar path, although more UK Beat, in fact wonderfully so. Into The Fields is also incredibly hypnotic.

Every Time I Go is top notch Indie Pop Rock with a killer chorus and a storming guitar solo. See The Wind keeps those melodic hooks, but borders on Space Rock. Intercooler could be compared to many for their way with a hook, but their sheer versatility leaves them nearer a field of one. Read The Room is superb.

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


Monday 15 February 2021

Kool Kat Musik Weekly New Release Update

Welcome to the Kool Kat Weekly New Release Update. Kool Kat are distributed in the UK and Europe by I Don't Hear A Single as part of our aim to keep CDs available and affordable. The Kool Kat Links with each album take you to further details on each release.

THE KOOL KAT 10% OFF SALE is now on and runs until Sunday, February 28!   Over the years the sale has been held traditionally in January, but due to delayed delivery issues within the US Postal system, Kool Kat decided to hold off until the system was running a little smoother.  If paying by credit card, the discount will be applied to your order at checkout.  If paying by PayPal, you will be refunded the difference upon receipt of the order.


Please place all UK and European orders by following the details here. Links to Kool Kat's Entire Stock can be found here. Without further ado, here are seven new additions to Kool Kat Musik this Week.

The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness - Songs From Another Life (Kool Kat Musik) 2021  $14   

NEW RELEASE ON THE KOOL KAT MUSIK LABEL – AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 19 – ACCEPTING ORDERS NOW!  The band's second album opens up the range of influences, more American, more exuberant and present a powerful sound with arrangements that make us dream of better days.  Never hurried, never wavering, without the quirky inflections that much musical modernity insists upon in their frontmen, Andrew Taylor’s is possibly the most perfect voice in jangle Power Pop at present.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

Beachwood Sparks - Beachwood Deluxe (Curation Records) 2021      $15


A companion piece to the 20th Anniversary reissue of Beachwood Sparks’s eponymous debut album, “Beachwood Deluxe” is a rare sonic glimpse at where the band was in 1999.  Electric 12/6 string jangling guitars, sonic exploration and soft country psychedelia. The tracks are some of the only proper studio recordings to feature original guitarist/singer, the late Josh Schwartz.

Kool Kat Link

Apple Music Link

The Lickerish Quartet - Threesome  Vol.2 (Stranger Danger Records) 2021      $12

Three Quarters of Jellyfish offer up stellar performances and once again, they blaze a trail that reminds you of the previous days, but is certainly not a retread of the old sounds.  Great Pop Rock that trades on hooks and melody.


Kool Kat Link

Apple Music Link

Vanilla - Limerence (Charlatan Record Cartel) 2020      $12

The fourth album from Vanilla, turns a years worth of digital-only monthly releases from 2020 into one full-length album.  The melodic indie-pop band from the US Pacific Northwest features Jayson Jarmon (formerly of Liar's Club), Sean Gaffney, and Mark Simmons. Beautifully written, chorus driven gems.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

The Beachers - 1963-1966 (Gothenburg Sound Sweden) 2020      $18

Relative to the size of the country, Sweden had a ridiculously large number of 60’ s beat groups: The Beachers, The Beathovens, The Beatmen, The Shakers, The Shakemakers and The Shamrocks to name a few.  With only eight million Swedes it feels like half of them must have owned a guitar back then.   Along comes the extremely cool 23 track CD anthology by The Beachers, a great beat/R&B group from Gothenburg. Once billed as “Sweden's ugliest group”, their complete 1963-66 recordings are here.

Adam Marsland - Go West 2CD (Karma Frog Records)      $10

NEW LOW PRICE!!  2009 2CD offering from the former Cockeyed Ghost frontman that was hailed at the time as his best ever effort!  It’s an undertaking that operates logically in two ways: it's a highly engaging Pop Rock conception or dig a little deeper and it is an engrossing journey from hope to despair and back to hope. 

Kool Kat Link

Soundcloud Link

Adam Marsland - Daylight Kissing Night – Adam Marsland’s Greatest Hits (Karma Frog Records) 2008      $8

NEW LOW PRICE!!  A handsomely packaged, 2008 collection of 20 pop songs now offered at an artist-breaking budget price, that heralded Adam Marsland's return to full-time music making. Not so much a retrospective as a reintroduction, all the previously released songs are remastered along seven newly recorded tracks that are exclusive to the collection.

 Kool Kat Link  

Bandcamp Link


Saturday 13 February 2021

Weezer - OK Human

I'd grown wary of Weezer albums for what is I suspect the last decade, but certainly everything from Everything Will Be Alright In The End. That was an album that sounded really mediocre, yet the instrumental version of it was ace, 

Since then, most of the albums seem to have been written for algorithms. There is the odd gem, but that's your lot. It wasn't that I wanted them to become their original college rock self depreciating selves, I just wanted to be able to like the songs, rather than end up frustrated with a musical paint by numbers.

When I heard they were working on a Guitar album in 2020, named Van Weezer, I was buoyed, not because I wanted it to be 1994 or The Green Album again, but because I like Weezer as a group that is Guitar led. Due to the pandemic that album got temporarily shelved and so the album that was largely completed before it went centre stage.

Thus we have OK Human, a pun on Radiohead's OK Computer, an album recorded with a 38 Piece Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. I wasn't that hopeful of being wowed and the first couple of listens seemed to reinforce that opinion. Then it was though someone had turned the lights on.

This album does require repeated listens, but when you get it (and you will get it) you realise what a great Pop album it is. It is laden with hooks. Everyone at home, all with different tastes, can't get the earworms out of their head. 

OK Human could be Weezer's most complete consistent album. There are better individual songs on other Weezer albums, but this is a complete listen. I'd also note that if this were an Indie Guitar album, the songs wouldn't sound half as good. If anything it is a Piano led Orchestral Pop affair. 

A song like Numbers feels like it should be on one of the great late 60's Singer Songwriter Studio Sessions, Playing My Piano is great McCartney Beatles Pop. Screens is splendid Mid 70's Pop Rock. Bird With A Broken Wing could be The Explorers Club. Here Comes The Rain could be ELO in their jauntiest prime and you would expect a Jeff Lynne song to be about the rain. 

Essentially, this is a slower tempo, almost ballad like. With this in mind, all the modern pop and likely singles are up front. All My Favourite Songs, Aloo Gobi and Grapes Of Wrath are absolute Pop Gems and Rivers Cuomo sounds in fine voice throughout.

Ask me in six months time, but OK Human feels like it could be renowned as one of the great Pop albums. There is layer after layer to discover. Next up, if touring is back on, will be Van Weezer and this album will feel very different, but isn't that what this band have been about for that past decade.

You can listen to all 12 songs in full here. You can buy and stream the album everywhere.

Friday 12 February 2021

This Circus Life - The Vast And Endless Sea


Welcome to IDHAS 2021, finally. Having been listening to a lot of stuff over the past week, I can tell you that the year has got off to a cracking start. I'm not sure if artists have been holding back releases so that albums are last year's news. Maybe bands have held back albums awaiting the end of Lockdown and with no end in sight have thought lets get this album released.

Whatever the reasons, the start of this year has been the strongest for a long while. So we get on to the second album from This Circus Life, following December 2019's The Better Angels Of Our Nature. The English five piece were formed by Charlie Mear in 2019. Charlie is a man who, to say the least, has led an interesting life.

It is somewhat surprising to see this second album lumped in with the Prog and Classic Rock field. I can see certain similarities to Big Big Train in quieter mode on Danny Said It's Over, but there are none of the hysterics and endless solos pf those genres present here.

This is essentially top notch Pop Rock. Indeed Falling Star may be the best Crowded House song that isn't by Crowded House. Those Neil Finn comparisons shout out heavily here. Despite the direction changes throughout the album, everything here centres around great Pop.

Where Are The Working Classes? is an absolute gem, a sort of shuffle accompanied by big Brass with an adept and apt lyric. Towards the end of the song there's even a Brass Bonzo feel or one of Roy Wood's Wizzard Brew. Yet compare that to the title track which is weeping Country Folk joy.

Radio Waves is a reminder of those great 70's Big Studio Singer Songwriter albums and The Boy I Used To Be is autobiographical splendour in a wonderfully gentle splendour. You do sense that This Circus Life could be anything that they wanted to be. Folk, Country and Americana are all within easy reach. However it is the Pop that enthrals most and here's hoping that future directions major on that. Pop Rock needs a band who can revive its motivation. 

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about the band and how Charlie Mear ended up in This This Circus Life here


Monday 8 February 2021

Kool Kat Musik Weekly New Release Update

Welcome to the Kool Kat Weekly New Release Update. Kool Kat are distributed in the UK and Europe by I Don't Hear A Single as part of our aim to keep CDs available and affordable. The Kool Kat Links with each album take you to further details on each release.

THE KOOL KAT 10% OFF SALE is now on and runs until Sunday, February 28!   Over the years the sale has been held traditionally in January, but due to delayed delivery issues within the US Postal system, Kool Kat decided to hold off until the system was running a little smoother.  If paying by credit card, the discount will be applied to your order at checkout.  If paying by PayPal, you will be refunded the difference upon receipt of the order.


Please place all UK and European orders by following the details here. Links to Kool Kat's Entire Stock can be found here. Without further ado, here are seven new additions to Kool Kat Musik this Week.

Bad Moves - Untenable (Don Giovanni Records) 2020       $12

Washington DC has had a rich punk history, documented by the vast array of bands on labels such as Dischord Records and Teen-Beat Records. Although they’re signed to New Jersey’s Don Giovanni Records, Bad Moves are more than capable of kicking as much ass as those that preceded them. They are a wonderfully unpretentious band. They’ve got power, they’ve got pop and they’ve got punk and they use it to great advantage. 

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

The Comebacks - Under the Banner of Love (Rock Indiana Records Spain) 2020      $16


Developed over the last few years in their rehearsal room, The Comebacks' debut album is finally a very happy reality. and it is the best Spanish beat and power pop album that has been released in a long time.  Plenty of class, splendid vocal harmonies and, above all, sthe songs make it a must if you like the Beatles, Flamin´ Groovies, Velvet Crush, 20/20, The Plimsouls, Spongetones  etc. You can spot the references throughout!.

Kool Kat Link

You Tube Link To All 12 Songs

John Dunbar - Oh Wellness  (Kool Kat Musik) 2021      $13

NEW RELEASE ON THE KOOL KAT LABEL – AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 12 – ACCEPTING ORDERS NOW!!     The John Sally Ride were in the studio finishing up a new album at the time the international pause button was pressed. They record albums in the same room, so when it became apparent that lock-downing was going to become a long time thing, John Dunbar decided to record the album himself. The result, as expected, is a wonderfully melodic Pop Rock joy.


Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

The Explorers Club - Rarities Volume 1 (Goldstar Recordings Australia)        $15

Fresh off the heels of not one but TWO critically acclaimed album releases in 2020, retro pop wunderkind Jason Brewer, along with the musical collective he’s dubbed The Explorers Club, are releasing their third collection in less than a year. The result is an 11-song collection of rarities from the band’s vaults. With a brand new full studio album set to follow in 2021, ‘Rarities Volume 1’ is another shimmering slice of retro pop that will thrill and delight their ever-growing fanbase.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

Trevor Beld Jimenez - I Like It Here (Curation Records) 2021        $15

The fantastic solo debut from a guy who’s been involved in a lot of projects (we only knew of him from GospelbeacH), but you gotta check out his rather impressive discography.  Some of LA’s finest dropped by to lend their talents to the record.  The album is AM radio gold, a fine example of Californian Pop.. We know that Trevor is a hell of a songwriter and musician. He put words and empathy into GospelbeacH’s ‘Another Summer Of Love’ and ‘Let It Burn’and that talent is underlined here.


Bandcamp Link

The Stan Laurels  - There Is No Light Without The Dark (Big Stir Records) 2021       $12

The fourth studio album from John Lathrop under The Stan Laurels name.  It's a watershed follow-up to his acclaimed and award-winning 2018 Kool Kat Musik collection. This is muscular power-pop that slides completely off the end of Teenage Fanclub sweet and into  muscular Pop Rock. It’s a sound that is the final point of Power Pop and one that stays just the right side of Garage Rock.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

Shindig! Magazine – Issue #112 February 2021 (US Buyers Only)      $13


The tres chic ‘n kool Nancy Sinatra graces the cover: The singer, actress and go-go icon reflects on her career.  Other features include The Ventures: How America’s biggest pre-Beatles act changed with the times, and Steve Ellis: The 10 years that followed Love Affair.  Featurettes on: Dana Gillespie, Dave Cousins, and much more are contained within.  Reviews of the best in reissues, new releases, DVDs and books, and other news titbits we all can use!

Kool Kat Link  

Shindig UK Site