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Monday 31 May 2021

Kevin Robertson - Sundown's End


A combination of two of my favourite labels, Futureman and Subjangle bring Kevin Robertson's debut solo album to the table. The leader of The Vapour Trails gets the opportunity to poke his nose into other genres, which he does incredibly well.

However, I'd also make the point that The Vapour Trails' reputation for Glasgow West Coast Jangle is a bit of misdirection. True, the band do that incredibly well, but listening to their output, particularly Golden Sunshine, the variation is already there. 

It can be said though that this is taken further by Robertson in solo mode. Big Old Town is all Hollywood Easy Listening Pop Rock, Settle Down is somewhere between Americana and Country and Could It Be is very very Gerry Rafferty.

See How We Love is all Celtic moodiness and Telepathic Minds is wonderful late 60's UK Psych Pop. This is taken a step further with the jaunt into White Album Harrison space with the hippy trippy closer, Yesterday's Reign. A venture that made these old eyes light up.

Into The Black jangles, but in a harmonic laid back way. Indeed, the only song that sounds like The Vapour Trails' supposed template is Love's Blue Yonder. Special mention has to be made for the splendid Silicone Sun when Robertson chirps up a Pavement vibe and develops a rocking croak.

I'm not sure if Kevin has just got all the song ideas that didn't fit The Vapour Trails or that this is where the future lies. If the latter, I'd happily go with that because if I had to choose, which I don't, I would go more in this direction. This is an album that reveals great talent. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Space Cadet - Lion On A Leash


May has been a month of real surprises and this continues into the ultimate day. You would expect an album from Dave Walsh and Matt Hock from The Explosion to be a little errrrr Punkish. Well this debut album from the pair is anything but.

Lion On A Leash is riff driven Pop Rock that has far more in common with Brit Pop and a more melodic version of The Cult. The guitar runs are certainly reminiscent of Billy Duffy. There's a hypnotic vibe to the riffs.

Scream For You is very second half of the 80s, almost Goth, yet Forever For A While is a far more chipper affair, almost anthemic. Bad Luck is comparable to Ian McCulloch fronting a Glam Rock band and Start Running Away has a hook and vocal that just grabs you.

The album concludes with an instrumental that could be a film theme. You can imagine the chase and the tension building. The album is built on killer riffs and guitar runs. The Pop is superb when let loose, but largely it is subdued and that allows those riffs to flourish. Great Stuff!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Sunday 30 May 2021

Radio Days - Rave On!


This is proper Power Pop. Italian Trio (it should always be a trio), Radio Days return with their fourth album and it doesn't disappoint. Radio Days specialise in the type of Power Pop that fans of the genre love and there doesn't seem to to have been much around like this lately.

There used to be a mass of this type of stuff to choose from and the lack of it now makes the album seem even more special. The trio can be whatever you want Power Pop wise, 60s, the second wave in the late 70s and the 90s revival. They master it all.

I Got A Love and Lose Control great UK New Wave, Walk Alone is splendid Jangle Pop and Till The End Of The Night is great Merseybeat. All eras are covered with ease and expertise. What Is Live is spot on UK Beat. 

Rave On is probably the band's most diverse album yet. No One To Blame is wonderfully anthemic and When I'm With You is top notch Glam Rock with a bit of US turn of the 70s swagger. The stand out though is the magnificent Between The Lines.

Between The Lines is all melody. An almost easy listening verse with organ accompaniment which breaks in to a big catch all chorus. It is a laidback affair that shows a whole new side to Radio Days. Power Pop fans will love Rave On!, but any fan of Indie melodic guitar pop should come along for the ride. You won't be disappointed.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Kitten Pyramid - KOOZY!!


In my Pop Rock circles, I get a fair amount of ribbing about my love of Prog. I've managed to turn quite a few people on to Psych, through my constant banging on about how Pop Psych Pop is now it seems the time is right to bring Prog Pop to the table. 

Kitten Pyramid are absolutely wonderful. I can't do justice to the history of the band in 18 lines. Suffice to say, they are a family and friends affair led by Scott Milligan who is an amazing songwriter. They've been helped along the way by more experienced musicians, particularly Tom Robinson who took them on Tour with him.


As a songwriter, Milligan's influences are from all over the place musically and lyrically, they focus on mental health and tinged with the sadness of the death of his mother, Yola, from Covid. This results in a mesmerising creative storm that spreads in all directions without ever losing its charm or becoming pompous and bloated.

There is a Big Big Train feel to the production, recorded at Rockfield and Konk Studios, that enhances the song quality and structure. Throughout the album there are more than hints of Neo-Psychedelia, but the emphasis is on Pop and results in one of the finest Pop Rock albums that you are ever likely to hear.

It is really hard to know where to begin describing the songs. From the Godley And Creme meets Brass Travelling Band feel of the title track to the symphonic blast of vocal harmony that is Swan Song, the album reveals something different with every listen.

In between you get the magnificent marching of Doughnuts, the splendid piano pop of Bounty and an almost Alan Price vibe on Needles. Special mentions should be made to the noisy Aunty Mabel which heads in the direction of Wire and the outstanding 7 Day Duvet.

Each of the ten songs here deserves its place on the album. There is no filler. Every offering is like an album within an album. It is official! Prog Pop is a thing and KOOZY!! will lead it into conquering all. I can't recommend the album any more highly. Superb!!!!

You can buy the album as a download for the bargain price of £3.49 here. You can find out more about the band and buy the album on CD or Vinyl here.


Thursday 27 May 2021

The Like Minded People Link List

In a moment of complete dimwittedness, I have deleted the "Like Minded Friends" section of I Don't Hear A Single. I was adding a new blog that has replaced an older blog and in deleting the old one, deleted the whole section. 

I have a backup from 10 days ago, but that would be a great kerfuffle getting the posts since back up to date. So can I ask that, if you were included, you would remind me in case I have missed anyone and I will put you back in situ.

It can be new and improved blah blah etc etc. I am sitting in the corner wearing a hat that has a big D on the front. I shall sit here until I realise the consequences of my carelessness.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Mark & The Clouds - Waves


I love what Marco Magnani does. Mark & The Clouds are a trio that master Psych Pop that veers heavily towards Pop. For their third album that reputation is enhanced. The general feel is still very trippy UFO club, but on the slower numbers, they venture into Prog and Classic Rock.

Free Me Now is very Moody Blues, Promised Land is a delightful song that verges on Easy Listening and includes a cracking Brass interlude. Heavy Drops Of Rain could be something from the Manchester to Brit Pop interlude. It really is a corker.

Devotees will want plenty of the gentle Psych Pop that the trio are noted for and there's plenty here with the likes of You And Me In Space and Heavy Drops Of Rain. But Waves contains far more variation. The Brass Arrangements are wonderful and at times unexpected.

Winter Song is almost Folk. You Wanna Put Me Down is a classic slice of UK Beat and No One Makes A Sound heads for 70's Pop Rock territory. You could imagine Peace Not Religion on an Al Stewart album. The Same Old Dream is very Modern Prog.

The obligatory big closer is present and wow what a finish. Somebody Else is a mind blowing Psych offering demonstrating what Mark And The Clouds are best at. The instrumental last couple of minutes is the reason that I love Psych Pop. Truly wonderful!

I would have been more than happy with 15 songs of Psych Pop and there is a lot of Pop here. But there are so many surprises on offer that Waves caught me unaware. If you've always felt that the genre is all backward guitar and flower power solos, then take a chance with this splendid listen.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about Mark & The Clouds here.


The Natvral - Tethers


I had to double check that this was the same Kip Berman before going back to listen to The Natvral, his solo project. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart this isn't. Gone is the Indie Alt Pop Rock to be replaced by something far more basic and retro.

The album is very pre-mumbling Dylanesque Rock built around Guitar Strumming and Organ. Berman's vocal is a cross between Bob Dylan and John Power, the sound very late 60's to early 70's. The surprise is that the album is such a splendid listen.

It could very well be that it is such a long while that we have heard songs in this style. Americana ate itself as it became more popular, too many similar sounding artists releasing albums in too narrow a field. Tethers seems to take the genre back towards bands like The Band into a laid back, meandering simplicity. Just because you can play a lot of notes doesn't mean you have to.

Never has Dylan And The Band been reflected more than in the opener, Why Don't You Come Around. New Moon has a Leonard Cohen vibe, certainly a Hallelujah feel in the verse. New Year's Night really picks up the pace and heads a bit more Pop-ward, hence the Cast comparison.

Sun Blisters has a real Brit Pop feel without leaving the template. Alone In London is a Gunslinger Ballad affair that picks up the pace halfway through. It is a sprawling six and a half minutes, but grabs your attention. There are two ways to close an album, big or reflective and this song is certainly the latter.

They say fashion comes back in style and this certainly proves that theory. This is the sort of album I used to listen to all those years ago and it is more than interesting to hear it updated and done so well. There's nothing complicated here, but that is part of the charm in all the Indie noise that surrounds me.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


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..

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.

Justin Benyon - In Motion (Self Released   2020)      $15

Justin Benyon is a musician and singer/songwriter based in Aberdare, Wales.  He’s played an active role in the Welsh music scene for the last 30 years, including as a member of The The Broken Vinyl Club.  Several years ago, he built his own home studio and began learning how to use new technology so that he could record the backlog of songs he’d been writing over the years.  In 2020 he decided to record “In Motion”, his first solo album, and got busy recording songs in his home studio, singing and playing most all the instruments himself.  

Kool Kat Link

Soundcloud Link

Dennis Dalcin - The Incomplete Completeness (Kool Kat Musik  2021)      $14   

New Release on the Kool Kat Musik label.

“The Incomplete Completeness” is a 17 song cache of previously unreleased tracks spanning most of Dennis’s career featuring music like the Bydsy/Pink Floyd-like psych of The Lears and The Petal Pushers. The Julian Cope/Teardrop Explodes/early Krautrock-like Perfect Strangers and The Shades are included as are solo recordings. Also here is a pre-Lears nameless studio amalgam that included Dennis, Terry Carolan and Richard Barone. All serve as a terrific and interesting introduction to this very talented musician/bandleader! 

Kool Kat Link

Soundcloud Link

Jay Gonzalez - Back To The Hive (Middle Brow Records 2021)      $12

A sunny, breezy time capsule of power pop and AM gold. Jay Gonzalez, keyboardist/guitarist in the Drive-By Truckers releases “Back To The Hive” builds upon the legacy of 60’s British Invasion artists and 70’s singer-songwriters without ever sounding derivative.  “Though his style is more heavily influenced by artists from the UK, there are echoes of Southern and West Coast Rock here and there.


Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link


Groovy Uncle - Searching For The Grown-Ups (Trouserphonic Records UK 2021)      $17

Groovy Uncle has long been an outlet for Glenn Prangnell’s love affair with sounds of the 60’s with an uncanny knack to reproduce perfectly the sounds of that golden era and make them sound fresh and contemporary.  2020’s lockdown posed something of a problem for Glenn. With his usual method of gathering a familiar posse of players out of the question, he learned how to record at home alone and digitally adding a handful of remotely-recorded brass and guitar tracks.  There is a home grown feel to it, but it is still very much that Groovy Uncle sound.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

Brad Marino - Looking For Trouble (Rum Bar Records 2021)      $13

Brad Marino returns with “Looking For Trouble”, his second Full Length release, jam-packed with power poppin' rock and roll. Imagine Rockpile meets The Ramones, Mick and Keef get into a tussle with The Flamin’ Groovies, The Knack get all tangled up in blue. It doesn't lose that Garage Rock feel, but ventures into unexpected areas that show Marino is no one trick pony.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

Reigning Sound - A Little More Time With Reigning Sound (Merge Records 2021)      $15

It's been more than 15 years since Greg Cartwright uprooted to Asheville NC, but this new Memphis-made record shows the songwriter in top form and wholly inspired by his birthplace. For this new record, Cartwright reunited with Reigning Sound's original "Memphis lineup" of Jeremy Scott (bass), Greg Roberson (drums), and Alex Greene (keyboards), all of whom played on the band's earliest recordings. The new songs explore fresh lyrical and musical territories, but at times also tastefully echo back to earlier efforts.

Kool Kat Link

Bandcamp Link

Various Artists - Yesterday's Tomorrow : Celebrating the Winston-Salem Sound (Omnivore Records)      $15

The impetus for this extraordinary concert was that Chris Stamey had a book fresh off the press, a song-based memoir called “A Spy In The House Of Loud”.  A portion of the book referenced his time in New York, but the first part remembered, song by key song, was the late 60’s and early 70’s creative rock music scene in Winston-Salem, NC. This was sometimes called the Combo Corner scene, after the title of a short-lived column in Guitar Player magazine.

Original members of bands such as Arrogance, Little Diesel, Sneakers, Sacred Irony, and Rittenhouse Square, including Mitch Easter, Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby, Stamey and Don Dixon - convened on May 12 2018, at the Ramkat Club. Those Fuzzbox years were recalled and this remarkable live concert recording shines brightly with the camaraderie and precise enthusiasm for those days of yore. 

Kool Kat Link

Apple Music Link


Tuesday 25 May 2021

I Am Spartacus - Trigger Happy


Do you fancy a Power Pop album that is for more than people wearing Big Star T Shirts? Or a Punk Pop album with all the melody and none of the robotic talking vocals of the genre? I Am Spartacus are the solution to you problem/s. 

I have often said that the more melodic Pop Punk bands have the potential to develop into Power Pop's future and the genre badly needs them. It feels like the UK Biscuit market on Power Pop Facebook groups, a dying breed. To survive it has to embrace the new. You never know, da kidz might like to hear some Badfinger.

There is a real street wise wit to I Am Spartacus. They don't take themselves that seriously and have gathered a large following from the generation below ourselves. The lazy will compare them to Weezer, just as every Indie Guitar band are compared to Teenage Fanclub. 

To me they have much more in common with The Brothers Steve and definitely Tsar. On the stand out single, Go Fund Yourself, a potential Power Pop classic, Ben Peeples vocal could be interchanged with Jeff Whalen and that is some compliment. Trigger Happy is wonderful Guitar Pop.

Only on the opener, Push And Pull, do they come anywhere near Punk Pop, this is an album of hook driven, chorus led, melodic pop. Hashtag Douchebag is classic late 70's New Wave and You Suck At Life And It's Your Fault is a real wake up and smell the coffee moment.

I Don't Like You is another Power Pop stormer and Peeples even slows it down without getting maudlin and mawkish on Promise. The only time they can be compared to Weezer is on the excellent and hilarious Quarantine Got Me Like. This is a splendid album. Just listen to it and you'll be hooked. Trust Me!

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also find other links here. I have deliberately not embedded any songs from the album in the hope that you'll be tempted to listen to the whole album by following the two links in the the previous sentences.


That Mighty Bumble - A Road Not Traveled


Hey you Pop Rock fans, prepare to be amazed! I certainly was. I have obviously gathered a bit of a reputation for uncovering the new, but The Mighty Bumble is new to me. When I listened and discovered that TMB are a one man band, I was just astounded.

Here is a fantastic lockdown album that isn't acoustic, doesn't want to tell us all how bad the past year has been and has an unexpectedly big production. Waynesboro should be incredibly proud of Terry Short Jr for far more than his work on the council.

It is really hard to believe that this is a debut album. A Road Not Travelled doesn't stick in one place. World In Run is great Piano Pop, Not Who I Thought is splendid Americana and Be Still My Grieving is 70's Singer Songwriter Troubadour excellence. 

The closer, You Ain't Wrong, has a Tom Petty sneer about it and You reveals that big harmonies are in Stott's armoury. The album is at its best when the pace picks up. Hold On Fast fairly rips along. It reminds me of The Motors.

Get It Right is a real sing along with me, Stealers Wheel-ish. Fire is incredibly catchy with a fabulous arrangement and you'd like a bit more of this sort of thing. Honestly Honest is another crackerjack offering, the nearest you get to Short seeming angry.

The downside is the album is too long at 70 minutes. 15 songs is at least three too many and with the pace being front loaded, the album runs out of steam. Maybe 3 of the songs could have been used for future singles or B Sides. That doesn't distract though from what an overwhelmingly fine album A Road Not Travelled is. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to the album on Soundcloud here. You can stream and buy the album at one of the links here.


Friday 21 May 2021

The James Clark Institute - The Colour Of Happy


It has been suggested recently that I have repositioned I Don't Hear A Single to accommodate a much wider audience. I don't see that at all. IDHAS has always reflected my personal tastes. But any dissenters should be pleased with this review with an album that is in my "perceived" territory.

James Clark is from Toronto and he offers up an album of real Pop quality. Produced by Moe Berg from long time IDHAS favourites, The Pursuit Of Happiness, the collaboration is a marriage made in heaven. The Colour Of Happy is 34 minutes of Joy.

The album contains such confident mature Power Pop for what is only his second album. It sounds very UK, wonderfully so. At times it seems very Scouse Pop, when the Brass kicks in I think of The Ragamuffins and its great to hear the odd Farfisa run or two.

The main comparison that I come away with is Roddy Frame and Aztec Camera. There is also a lyrical excellence, not often seen in the genre. Little Powder Keg is in Squeeze territory, Should I Tell Her is a cross between second half of the 60's Pop and Pete Wylie.

Yellow (no not that one!) is great Beat Pop with Revue style backing, Selfish Portrait is jaunty Piano Pop of the highest order and Better Than I Remember is jingle jangle at its very best. The closer ventures close to Ben Folds.

This to me is one of the joys of Power Pop. An album full of hooks and choruses, beautifully performed and arranged, everything that a great Power Pop album should be. Listen to the album once and you will want to play it again and again. I'm well impressed. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Thursday 20 May 2021

Olivier Rocabois - Olivier Rocabois Goes Too Far


What a wonderful album! It isn't IDHAS's job to educate you, more of a guiding hand, but I certainly feel educated after a few listens to this outstanding affair. What I suspected to be a Singer Songwriter Piano Pop album in the mould of John Howard is anything but that.

Get ready for Prog, Baroque, Jazz and Pop, all impeccably arranged with surprises coming from everywhere. Take for instance, In My Drunken Dreamscape which begins in Singer Songwriter territory before a middle of Psychedelic mind bending which morphs into Piano Jazz. 

That is the third song. Preceding it is The Sound Of The Waves, all Al Stewart-ness and High As High is all jaunty Pop mixing Psych Pop with more than a hint of Divine Comedy. The latter ends with a Beach Boy Harmony vibe. Three songs in and you know that you are on quite a ride.

Tonight I Need is Elton John in 70s heyday with a guest appearance from John Howard that has a killer Brass arrangement thrown in. Hometown Boys is Baroque Pop of the very highest order with a closing Bowie Lodger like vocal feel. I'd Like To Make My Exit With Panache could be the centre of a Broadway show.

As an aside, I've been marvelling recently at the French Music Scene. Too many look at it as po faced chanteuse or electronica, when there is something here for everyone. You may have to look and translate reviews, but you have Google. I don't see a scene as vibrant anywhere else in the world.

Back to the matter at hand and special mentions have to be made for two more songs. Arise Sir Richard is like Andrew Gold caught in a weird dream. My Wounds Started Healing is a seven minute masterpiece. The kitchen sink is thrown at this Orchestral Pop.

Olivier Rocabois Goes To Far feels very auto biographical. At its heart it is a Pop album, but it is so much more. So much thought and inspiration has gone into it. So much so, that is hard to just pick 3 of the 9 songs to embed in this review. An absolutely outstanding album! Album Of The Year  material.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Simon Husbands - Pop

I'd forgotten all about Blue Train, a band whom big things were predicted of. Signed to BMG, they just seemed a little out of step in the early 90s as Grunge took off. A real shame as The Business Of Dreams was a great Modern Rock album.

So I was delighted to find out that the keyboard player Simon Husbands had released a solo album and it is a really good listen. The Brit Abroad offers up a fine Pop Rock album that veers far more to Pop. It is largely a laid back affair with hooks aplenty.

The general feel is a little bit 80s Singer Songwriter in sound and content. The arrangements are spot on, very chilled out and as you'd expect very keyboard led. The album is at its best when it picks up the pace and lets go. Fighting The Man is great AOR.

Walking In From The World has a killer Power Pop riff and Blue Roofs Of China is an absolute crackerjack of a song, worth the admission alone. Not everything works, but Pop is a fine listen and well worth your attention.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


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..

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.

Caddy - Detours and Dead Ends Vol. 1 (Kool Kat Musik 2021) $14


Caddy is the brainchild of Norway’s Tomas Dahl.  His latest offering (and third release on the Kool Kat label), “Detours and Dead Ends Vol. 1”, is a collection of late 70’s and early 80’s power pop and new wave covers. He truly uncovered some great gems, and then covered them to perfection – injecting a fresh, new perspective that results in him truly owning the songs!  

The full I Don't Hear A Single Review is linked below.

Kool Kat Link

IDHAS Review

Apple Music Link

Dropkick - The Best Of Dropkick (Sound Asleep Records 2021) $19

Having released around 16 official albums, Dropkick, the premier sunshine power pop band from Scotland’s east coast were somewhat spoiled for choice when it came to compiling a best of album. So spoiled for choice in fact that they’ve only gone and spoiled their fans with this brilliant 27 song set!  “Over the years there have been several line ups of the band (although it’s intriguing to note that essentially there have only been eight members including some who left and then rejoined) and it is a tribute to Andrew Taylor, the primary songwriter, that there’s a signature Dropkick sound portrayed throughout.  

The full I Don't Hear A Single Review is linked below.

IDHAS Review

Bandcamp Link

Scott Howells - Scott Howells (Self Released UK 2018)      $15

Scott Howells was the frontman and founder member of The Broken Vinyl Club who signed to Acid Jazz in 2011 and released two singles and one album and who had songs featured in the Universal film "Svengali" and indie film “Booked Out”. This, his self-titled 2018 solo debut, features a unique, intoxicating blend of indie/psych/mod/garage pop!  His new songs presented here have certainly kept the 60's garage mod edge displayed in TBVC, but are now peppered with a more modern psychedelic approach that includes hints of The La's, Oasis and Kula Shaker thrown in for good measure. 

 Kool Kat Link

Amazon Music Link


The Palace Guard - All Night Long : An Anthology 1965-1966 (Omnivore Records 2021)       $15


The Palace Guards was Emitt Rhodes' first band! “All Night Long….” includes the band's entire recorded repertoire and the packaging contains photos and liner notes from "The Guard's" Rick Moser.  Along with photos from his personal collection, as well as ephemera from the day, this is the complete Palace Guard story.  Instead of paying collectors' prices for the original singles, enjoy them in pristine condition with “All Night Long: An Anthology”! 

Kool Kat Link

You Tube Link

Somerdale - Friday Night In America (Kool Kat Musik 2016)      $12

Before New Jersey’s Somerdale were known as Somerdale, Kool Kat discovered them in the early 00’s gigging under the name The Shags!  Though the band would eventually record for labels like Zip Records, FDR and JEM Records, “Friday Night In America” was their 2006 Kool Kat label/full-length debut as Somerdale!  The band have been described as "old school power pop done with new school spirit and verve”.  For this record, they’d toughened up their sound along with the band name change while maintaining their sweet vocal harmonies!  

Somerdale's 2016 album, Shake It Maggie, was the I Don't Hear A Single Album Of The Year.

Kool Kat Link

Amazon Music Link

The Steepwater Band - Live & Humble (Diamond Day Records 2013)     $12

In 2013, The Steepwater Band, Chicago’s premium dealers of down ‘n dirty, boozy, rock ‘n roll, delivered a slamming live disc! The record was recorded on April 20, 2013 at the Ace Bar in Chicago, and was the first to feature TSB's latest four-piece line-up (which now includes second guitarist Eric Saylors), and contains over 75 minutes of blistering rock n roll! 

Kool Kat Link

Apple Music Link

The Tomorrows - Jupiter Optimus Maximus + bonus disc (Kool Kat Musik 2009)      $15

Released in 2009 on the Kool Kat label!  The Tomorrows rose from the ashes of the most excellent Roswells, propagating in the verdant paradise that is Vancouver, BC, Canada.  Jupiter Optimus Maximus, is their recorded debut!  "The Tomorrows carry on the psychedelic pop tradition, but streamline things a bit so that the songs are tighter and even more melodic. 

The album comes with an exclusive Bonus Disc featuring a cover of "And Your Bird Can Sing" and three live tracks recorded in 2008.

Kool Kat Link

Apple Music Link


Sunday 16 May 2021

Ruby Bones - Laser Tooth Tiger


One of the most irritating side issues of the Lockdown has been music that wants to tell you how bad things are. It is all a bit like searching Google for advice about your aches and pains. It doesn't relieve your concerns, it just convinces you that you have Beri Beri.

Things haven't been great, but constantly hearing people moaning about being imprisoned, when they never went out anyway, grates and it is worsened when they decide to write a song about it. You yearn for something positive to listen to and such albums have been in short shrift.

Thank goodness for New Jersey's Ruby Bones. The band's second album is exactly what Pop Rock should be. Optimistic, Chirpy, Joyful Guitar led songs that say look we good do this or soon we will be able to do that. Laser Tooth Tiger is a wonderfully optimistic album that just bounces along. 

The album reminds you a lot of the Indie scene of the late 90s / early noughties. The feel is very UK riff led, splendidly so, with all the big choruses. But there are plenty of US references. At times it sounds like a happy version of The Strokes, albeit with a lot more lyrics. 

There is a real bounce and pace to the album that just grabs you. You hear bits of Glam Rock, Slacker Pop and much more. The only the time that Ruby Bones slow down is on Talk About, a song that should be coming to a TV Advert near you.

Press Rewind is a Brit Pop anthem of the highest quality, but it is those joyful choruses that hit you most. The likes of Rooftop, Not Enough and Tired Eyes will have your feet tapping furiously and Don't Lose Your Head is everything you could ever want in a Pop Song. Laser Tooth Tiger is Outstanding!

You can listen to and buy the album (for the Bargain Price of $3.50) here.

Saturday 15 May 2021

Mick Dillingham Interviews : Derrero.

I will freely admit that for much of the nineties, besides the obvious greats of XTC, Robyn Hitchcock and Captain Sensible, the fast majority of bands and artists I was well into were American. It seemed to these ears that there was an unending flow of quality, interesting melodic guitar music from over the pond that easily trumped the fashion conscious Brit Pop The latter seemed like an Anthematic rip off of my older siblings record collection 

Its an interesting phenomena in music that even though bands often create music totally independent of other contemporary music, there can be something in the water of the time that means there are other bands also creating music of a similar ilk. From the outside it can seem like a movement, though when delved into more closely it turns out to be a coincidence. As the decade approached its end one such movement sprang into life in Britain. 

Melodic gravitas progressive popsike of stunning beauty and grace made by bands like Super Furry Animals, Orange, Orgone Box, Octopus, Supernaturals, Silverheel, Lilac Time and The Chrysanthemums was all a joy to behold. The two I loved the most had to be Straw and the fabulous Derrero. Championed by both John Peel and Mark and Lard, it seemed for a while, especially around the time of their radio hit Radar Intruder, that Ash Cooke, Andy Fung, Dave Hirst and Mary Wycherley who made up the mighty Derrero came so damn close to breaking on through to a more widespread popularity. 

Over three albums and three EPs, Derrero grew to be glorious with their gorgeous melodies, wonderful production and seductive harmonies, culminating in the superb swansong Comb The Breaks, before drifting apart and moving onto new musical projects. They always remained friends, even did the occasional ad hoc live show down the years.  But now they have returned with a brilliant, fill your heart with joy, new album Time Lapse on Recordiau Cae Gwynn Records which is everything you would want from them and more. Time to sit down with Ash and Andy and talk about it all.  

Ash: “Neither of my parents make music or play instruments, but there was always interesting music in the house. I remember being drawn to records that they had by Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Geno Washington & Peddlers and the harmonies of songwriters like The Everly Brothers & John Denver.

They also had comedy records by Peter Sellers and those weird covers albums with some bloke playing the Hammond Organ to demonstrate stereo. I was drawn to odd bits of music like that. I loved record sleeves as a kid (still do) and liked looking at the pictures on gatefold albums. Boney M’s "Oceans Of Fantasy" was my favourite. It opens out twice so there are four sides to the picture. Classic times!

My Dad bought a little tape player for loading games on to a home computer that we had, but I was more fascinated by the idea of recording myself and my guitar. It was really weird to hear my own voice for the first time. Eventually I learnt to use a second tape machine as a way of multi tracking recordings. The final step in my conversion to a lifetime love of home recording came when I acquired my first 4 track. It changed my world forever.

I was taught to play the guitar in Primary school by a local musician. It got me out of Maths for one hour a week, but I just loved it and played all the time. I wrote bags of songs that were all crap, but I cherished them and pretended to release my own albums and play gigs in the house. I played my first gig at Primary school and got paid a Mars bar! 

Later on I used to do proper gigs in Secondary school. I remember that we put a scratch band together to support Dr Phibes & The House Of Wax Equations in our sixth form. We were rubbish but I got my first taste of what a band can sound like through a full PA. I didn't really have a regular band before going off to Art College in Falmouth. As well as playing in school though, friends used to come over on the weekend and we would record hour after hour of Brian May inspired rock Jams. Those were the days! I remember building drums from ice cream tubs. Still have those tapes – very weird.”

Andy: “I grew up in Trinidad and my earliest musical memories are driving to the beach listening to my parent's tapes in the car, from Reggae to James Last to The Beatles. Later after moving to England in the mid 80s, I formed my first band at the church that my dad was the Pastor of. As well as playing drums. I started writing songs on guitar, my chord knowledge was basic, but enough to write and actually my song writing is still quite simple chord wise. I then went on to join a band called Jive Ass Blast and started getting into Psychedelics like weed, mushrooms and LSD. That was the beginning of a lifelong love of Psychedelics which influenced my music and visual art. 

I was also drummer in a Christian Funk band called City Gate and played guitar and sung in a band with friends called Shanti. This was the beginning of me melding drumming with singing which went on to be a key part of Derrero. I was playing in a band in Falmouth called Big Chief which was completely folky and doing trad folk covers. When the fiddle player and her boyfriend left, we were in need of new musicians and a new direction. I knew Ash and Dave played guitar and bass so asked them. 

Our leader Rob was a funny, cool and eccentric guy and he had really good contacts with lots of pub landlords throughout Cornwall. We rehearsed up a set of covers from the snooker theme to the Grateful Dead and played all over Cornwall and occasionally Devon. It was really good gigging experience and developed us as musicians. It was also a great source of extra income. 

After college we relocated to Brighton and started Derrero with a different bass player Stacey. We played as much as we could and saw lots of cool experimental bands in Brighton along with Gorkys. We chatted to them after, little knowing that we would go on to support them and become friends in years to come.   

My girlfriend at the time, Mary Wycherley, got a place studying film at Caerleon near Newport, so we relocated to Newport and Dave joined us. Brighton and Newport were important places for us getting experience in playing live and honing our sound, which at first was very high energy and punky three piece sound with melodic two part harmonies.”

Ash: “Dave, Andy, Mary and I met in Falmouth, but we didn't form Derrero until after we graduated and left. This is the part of the band history that is most misinterpreted. Andy was in a band called Big Chief that had just lost their guitarist and bassist. I remember that Dave was driving me along Wood Lane in this great gold Capri that he owned. Andy stopped us and mentioned about the band situation. Dave and I jumped at the chance to join. There was another member of the band called Rob who was a lot older than us and was kind of the band leader. 

We spent two years travelling all over Cornwall in a knackered camper van playing in pubs and clubs. Textbook apprenticeship, I guess. Mary was Andy's girlfriend at the time and she sometimes sang in other Falmouth bands. After we graduated from Falmouth Andy, Mary and I moved to Brighton for a year and started Derrero.  The first week there, we sat in the front room of our flat and put our tunes on the table. The plan was to start getting gigs like crazy and get signed - like you do. 

The first ever Derrero gig was at the Free Butt pub in 1995. Dave had gone back to Kent to work for his parents and another college friend of ours, Stacey Harvey, played Bass. Brighton was interesting at the time, because it was full of ex Falmouth artists like Pete Fowler and Rob Ramsden. Jo Nery the actress was there. She has since gone on to be in Ideal with Johnny Vegas. The Brighton year was a lot of fun and we worked hard to get gigs. 

We played loads of shitty London pubs with noise limiters that cut the power off when ever you struck a snare drum. One gig was in this pub in Basingstoke. The Landlord was ex military and a bit if an odd ball. We had only played about three songs when he told us to pack up and go home because we didn't sound like our demo tape 'where is the girl singer' he complained. We were pissed off because we had hired a van and travelled a long way. So we asked the audience if they wanted us to continue and they were with us so we carried on. At the end of the night the landlord gave us the money and wondered if we wanted to book another gig!!! 

When Mary got a place on a Film & Animation degree course in Newport Gwent Andy wanted to go with her and I didn't want to break the band, so I went along too. Stacey opted to stay in Brighton and our old pal Dave decided to rejoin our merry gang and that was how we ended up in Wales. After a disastrous Christmas playing some money making gigs in Cornwall, we headed back to our new home in Newport. Our van died on the way and it took us eleven hours to make the four hour journey. 

To begin with the plan was to be playing regular gigs in South Wales within six months and be part of the scene which we did. We ran Derrero as a business for a while to get funding to buy another van. Building on the funding idea, we also bagged another £200 from The Princes Trust and recorded a demo at Cardiff's Big Noise studio in early 1996.   Later in the year, Big Noise owner Greg Haver was at one of our Newport gigs to see Flyscreen who he was producing at the time. He was interested in starting a label and agreed to record more Derrero tunes. 

We were so well rehearsed in those days that we laid down the backings for seventeen songs in one day. It was rough and ready, but that was the way we sounded at the time – all gung ho energy. We had never really recorded with this band either, so it was all new territory. The vocals were put down after Xmas in early 1997 and all of a sudden we had an album.”

Andy: “One thing that defined us is our enthusiasm and commitment to rehearsing and vocals. We were all signing on and could commit to the band full time. Ash and I were constantly writing too. We both had a wealth of songs to choose from with our two styles complimenting each other, but also quite different. This was definitely a strength of the band. Once with Big Noise and the first album was out, which was recorded and released quickly, we were free to work on the new songs coming through. 

Greg Haver produced us and he was developing as well, so we were experimenting and learning on the job. Our approach to recording was very free and we weren't afraid to try anything out. Fuelled by coffee and weed, the sessions often sounded pretty layered and psychedelic. Bands that we were into were varied and many. but certainly Ween, Grandaddy, Super Furry Animals, Gorkys, Sparklehorse, Teenage Fanclub and further back The Beach Boys and Neil Young. 

Harmonies were definitely the staple on which everything was built from there launching off into any direction. Radar Intruder was key for us as John peel picked up on it and it led to our first session. John championing the band was a real boost as he was so revered in the world of alternative music and so important for the exposure of new acts trying to do something different.

 I would say that our Art background was very important in informing us as a band. It was one of the things that set us apart. We were of course lumped in with the Welsh movement. Like, Super Furry Animals, we prided ourselves on a very creative approach to production and song writing. There was a feeling of kinship with some American bands that we'd arrived at through shared influences, but at times randomly.”

Ash: “It must be noted for the record too that Le Pub owner Kieran put out the Dipstick/Tiny Shoes single for us at the same time. We used the Big Noise versions of these songs, although producer Rich Jackson was supposed to do the session but was unavailable. Le Pub was our main haunt and was the last place that I played with the group in 2002. 

A lot of the songs on the first album dated back to the Brighton days and were quite old, this is the case with many bands first albums I guess. Dipstick was originally written in a country style version at half the speed! We played it as a 'Breeders version' in rehearsal one day for a laugh and Greg came bursting in wondering what the tune was!!

We had a lot of fun with the vocals on that album. Riddle & Bend had stuff sung down traffic cones and there was a lot of screaming. The album seemed to do quite well. I don't really recall much, but our gigs certainly picked up once it came out. Greg’s business partner, Ceri worked for the Super Furry’s stage crew and his girlfriend worked for Ankst who managed them and Gorkys Zygotic Mynci etc. So we were able to get support slots with them all. 

We Played in Coppers Field Cardiff with The Fall and a million dates in London. A stand out moment I guess had to be getting the first Peel session. Small Pocket was recorded quickly after the first album came out and was fresh with new songs. We took more time to record each song and produce things a bit more. It is still my favourite set of tunes. 

Super Furry Animals stored their gear at the studio and we were able to borrow bits and bobs for our sessions. I think that we were all taken a back by how much the band had grown musically in a year. It gained us a new level of respect too. With this in mind we cracked on and began recording the second album. 

Radar Intruder was one of those songs that didn't feel like it would be much good until it was recorded and then we all knew it was good. We were moving forward doing what we dreamed off. Doing more Peel stuff on the back of that record was amazing. People started to respect what we were doing more.

Recording at Maida Vale was funny too as the Beeb was still quite old fashioned then. We got there early expecting to do a full days recording, but once the tape op had loaded the machine at about 10 am, we saw no one until the engineer arrived after lunch. With a fag in mouth, he recorded us till about 5 then announced it was time for the pub before mixing. The whole thing wrapped up at about midnight. 

In 1998 we did our longest string of gigs supporting Catatonia. The shows were all sold out. In fact 1998 & 1999 were busy years. We toured with Granddaddy, Sebadoh and Gorkys again. I also did a string of teaching workshops with valleys poet Patrick Jones. 

We had all moved over to Cardiff as well by this time, so we spent a good of time in the studio practising and playing at being a ‘proper band’! There can be a general sound that surrounds bands that live and work in the same city or area. I think that because a lot of the bands rehearsed in the same place in Cardiff, then ideas possibly got passed through the walls.

Granddaddy's first album opened up the door for raw room sounding drums on records, but we were into Teenage Fanclub, Beck, Ween, Bonzo's, Big Star, Elliot Smith. Good harmonies and interesting production. Our Welsh contemporaries were also a strong influence on how to operate as a band. You learn a lot by working with bands that are more successful that you!

Andy and I wrote songs separately and then brought them to the band. Occasionally either one of us might suggest a tweak here and there, but we respected what the other person brought in and kept them mostly intact. Harmony was important because we loved The Beach Boys and because we both wanted to be singing. It happened naturally but it was a bit of a trademark too. 

When it came to recording however everyone had an input into sounds and overdubs. Many a time Dave would shout his approval of a particular part from the sofa where he was on the Playstation.  The second album, Fixation With Long Journeys, was quite frustrating for us because it took a long time for it to be released. 

The Big Noise studio building had been compulsory purchased and demolished by the WDA as part of Cardiff City centre's development programme and until they coughed up the compensation, there was no budget to release the album. A lot of the songs on the album had been written around the time of Small Pocket Machine, but were recorded at different times in different locations. So I can appreciate where folk’s reading of the disjointed feel to the album comes from. 

By the time it did come out we already had another albums worth of new material ready that we were more interested in playing. Those tunes were only ever recorded on my 4 track and I have since lost the tapes! There were some great songs there. 

I like to think that that material could have made an amazing third Big Noise album, that had the label survived, would have built on the achievements of Fixation and pushed the band into new territory, but it was never meant to be. As fate would have it the whole WDA thing effectively killed off Big Noise and regrettably for everyone we parted company with Greg & Ceri.”

Andy: “Due to the various problems with the development of the city centre and delays in the release of Fixation, it was an album that encompassed songs from a wide period. The Radar Intruder and Unstraightforwardtune EPs were released to keep stuff coming out. But looking back we had so much great material recorded then that ideally we should have released two full albums from the material recorded over this period. That's why there is a disjointedness with Fixation. 

We were developing so fast as songwriters and players that we had a wealth of material written and recorded. Had the label not had these financial restrictions we could have released two great albums using the material. We were forced to condense it and it perhaps suffers a bit as a result. A more perfect album could have been made with the extra ep tracks and some of what was on Fixation, but we actually had a load of great tracks that fitted in sonically with a lot of the tracks on the album that didn't make it on that would have been great spread out over two albums.”

Ash: “After the end of Big Noise, we wondered how we could get another album out with all the new material that we had been stockpiling. We had just recorded our third Peel session and felt excited about what we could do next on record, but at the same time we also felt a little washed up. I guess we had realised that no one was gonna hand us success on a plate. We found ourselves in Maida Vale doing Peel again, but yet we were unsigned!

It was suggested that we approach the band Melys to help us make an album. Melys had their own label and studio in North Wales. They were keen on the project and gave us twelve days to record it in. The experience was brilliant. We had this big master schedule of how to record the songs that would allow us to do a song a day. It was like a military exercise. Nothing was gonna get missed out. 

Gez Jones engineered it and provided production where it was needed. He was a massive support to us and helped to bring out the best in the music. Comb The Breaks is the truest representation of how we wanted to sound on record. We were also exploring new ideas with rhythm loops and keyboard sounds. We returned to studio Sylem one more time to add Brass to the final track and remix a few things.”

Andy:  “I started playing around with some music software like fruity loops before the recording of Comb The Breaks and built up these programmed drum tracks that formed the basis of some of the songs I was writing. This led to a more metronomic, slightly electronic, feel on some of the tracks on Comb The Breaks. 

As Ash says Big Noise had folded and Melys helped us out. It was fun recording it in a focused way in North Wales. One of the reasons it sounds more complete and cohesive is that it was all done in one week with us, well rehearsed as always and the sound of one studio. Gez, Melys' engineer, who recorded it had one really good valve mic and we put everything we could through that which is a big part of why that album sounds so warm and lush.

Another different aspect was it was the first time we had produced an album entirely ourselves with a bit of help from Gez. We had done everything else with Greg Haver, which was a long, happy and fruitful relationship over the years, but it was fun and rewarding producing ourselves and showed how much we'd learnt and how capable we'd become at it.”

Ash:  “Comb The Breaks was recorded in the summer of 2001, but before it was released the following year my son was born and I wasn’t able to commit my time to the band in the way that I wanted to. Sion, my brother in law played a few dates with the band, but I effectively put the brakes on the group. I still feel really bad about that 'cause we should have been out promoting Comb instead of putting things on hold. 

I started to work on solo projects from then on and worked on music as and when I had time. Dave lived on in Cardiff for a few years working for Ankst Management, before returning to Kent where he now has a studio. Mary became a full time photographer and still lives in Cardiff.

When Derrero took a break, I carried on recording and releasing music under the name Pulco. I continued to compose music that centred around conventional arrangements, but also drew on the pallet of home-fi sounds that I had first developed in my teens. Using old 4-track recorders that returned to me and interested me the most. 

Cheap instruments found sound and noise mixed with ambient spill creating a sonic like autobiography.  I had a clear idea that I wanted to develop a new music for myself with a simple minimal approach and to look beyond the traditional use of the guitar for something new to say. To be able to develop this new musical language I had to deconstruct a lot of what I had learnt in my 20's in order to try and understand the guitar in a different way. 

The process involved pulling apart the conventional idea of a verse/chorus structure in song writing and finally abandoning general structure altogether. I began to favour using the recording process to collage sections of sound together, which then developed into the desire to freely improvise those sections, then finally into just pure improvisation. For a while I also worked under the name Chow Mwng but basically now I’m happy to work under my own name.”

Andy:  “Around this time I started doing some more lo-fi experimental instrumental stuff on a 4 track. Limiting myself to the 4 tracks I would put down say drums, bass, guitar and a keyboard or different combinations of these. Some of the parts were written beforehand, but a lot just made up responding to an initial beat. 

This project I called Cymbient and I recorded an album called "Waah Slop Clip". This actually became the basis for my first two Cymbient albums proper, when I added vocals and fleshed out the tracks and went on to form the five piece band after the hiatus of Derrero.

I was also doing my masters in Fine Art at Howard Gardens in Cardiff . I combined instrumental performances of Waah Slop Clip playing over a backing track with shows of my visual art around this time. It was actually a bit of a hyperactive time for me where I would paint for say eight hours then record and write for three hours most days. I continued to paint and went on to release five albums as Cymbient and that project continues to this day.

Over the years I've done various session drumming projects with Richard James (Gorkys), Cate Lebon, Martin Carr and others. My painting is psychedelic in nature and has been and still is a constant and I've shown all over Britain and a bit internationally. Alongside Cymbient I've made seven albums with Paul Battenbough in a collaborative project called No Thee No Ess.

I also have a little label called Surk and more recently as well as new No Thee No Ess and Cymbient, I have put out a collaborative hip hop/spoken word project with my little brother called Botch Sconnet. There will be more odd things coming out on the label too, like a double concept album about bedding and sleep called 'Quilty Pleasures', basically as long as its good anything goes. An eclecticism partly inherited from one of my favourite bands, Ween.”

Ash:  “I wrote a song called ‘Feed the Flashback’ which I felt sounded like something Derrero would play. I’d not written like that for ages, so it seemed appropriate to pass it on to Dave and Andy. I think Andy got inspired as he started writing new songs himself and pretty soon Dave had persuaded us to come down to his studio in Kent to record the songs. 

We met up in May 2019 and put the whole album together in three days (some overdubs were done remotely later on though). Once we started it felt like we had never stopped making music together and  the whole project quickly gathered momentum. It’s such a shame that the Covid pandemic forced us to postpone the album tour that would have happened in April 2020. But we are currently working on new material and as soon as we can the Time Lapse tour will be re planned. It will happen!”

Andy:  “After years of doing our own stuff, Ash got in touch saying he'd written a song that could be good for new Derrero material. For some reason I didn't do anything towards it for a while, not sure why. But after some time passed, I had an urge to do some writing for Derrero and the new songs I wrote for the new album 'Time Lapse' came quickly and were a joy to write, I'd just record them quietly on my phone and send to Ash and Dave. 

Ash had a few others that he'd written as well as the initial song "Feed The Flashback" which is a great rally call to reforming.  These new songs alongside some ones that we'd demoed way back in 2001 formed the new album. We recorded it at Dave's studio in Kent and then finished at our various homes. Dave did a fantastic job engineering and mastering it.

 So here we are with a new release after twenty years and the music still sounds fresh and exciting and maybe most importantly, is fun to make.  I think we'll continue to release regular albums as Derrero from now on alongside our own various projects. We haven't yet been able to enjoy doing live shows again due to restrictions, but when it happens it'll be like we never left.”

You can listen to and buy the new album, Time Lapse, here. The download is only £3, the price of a Takeout Coffee. It is also available on CD and Vinyl. It was Number 2 in I Don't Hear A Single's Best 100 Albums of 2020.

Derrero back catalogue can be listened to and bought here. This Back Catalogue is all available as Name Your Price.

You can read the IDHAS Review of Time Lapse here.