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Sunday, 13 June 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.

We do realise that buyers in the UK and Europe can buy the UK Releases cheaper. That is absolutely fine. We want to publish the full Kool Kat weekly update complete, so UK Releases may be for info only to UK Buyers.

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 James Clark Institute - The Colour Of Happy (Room 5 Records Canada 2021)      $13





The record was terrifically produced by Mo Berg (The Pursuit Of Happiness).  “The collaboration with Berg is a marriage made in heaven. ‘The Colour Of Happy’ is 34 minutes of joy.  The album contains such confident mature power pop and sounds very UK, wonderfully so.  At times it seems very scouse pop, when the brass kicks in I think of The Ragamuffins and it’s 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.   


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Crowded House - Dreamers Are Waiting (BMG Records  2021)      $12  




Crowded House’s first album since 2010. Like Neil Finn’s sometimes esoteric solo work, these songs are more detailed, more subtle and take more time to reveal themselves.  There’s no instant gratification, but on much of this record, the songs get under your skin like an itch you just have to scratch, almost subliminally addictive.  It doesn’t just retain the intimacy that made them so cherished, but makes it their signature sound.  (TheGuardian.com) 

 

Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link


Gary Louris - Jump For Joy (Thirty Tigers Records 2021)      $13





Gary Louris’ first solo album in over decade is a decidedly low-key affair, one that’s decidedly disengaged from the roots rock sound that he helped establish with the band the Jayhawks during the birth of what became engrained within the modern Americana sound. “Jump For Joy” finds Louris leaning more towards the music he makes with his “other” outfit, Golden Smog, a band whose membership also includes members of Soul Asylum, Wilco, \the Replacements, and Big Star.  




Apple Music Link


Mark & The Clouds - Waves (Gar du Nord Records UK 2021)        $18





Since relocating from his native Bologna, Italy to London in the early ’90s, Marco Magnani has been a stalwart of the city’s underground scene where 60’s pop and folk meets psychedelic rock. His previous band Instant Flight worked for several years as the backing group of Arthur Brown as well as releasing a string of meticulously crafted and well-received albums themselves.  Now fronting Mark & The Clouds, Magnani continues to write produce, and release great psych-pop n roll records, with a list of bandmates and collaborators from the UK/Spanish/Italian psych music scene and centered around the three-piece nucleus of Marco on vocals and guitar plus John O’Sullivan (Instant Flight/The Snakes/Limozine) on bass, vocals and guitar, and Shin Okajima on drums (Shin and Marco formed The Smokers in 1994).  


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Sunbourne Rd.                                     Manners maketh man                 2021/Kool Kat Musik               GREAT!!              $14





NEW RELEASE ON THE KOOL KAT MUSIK LABEL – AVAILABLE JUNE 18 – ACCEPTING ORDERS NOW!!  Alex Siodmak is from Casale Monferrato in Northern Italy and with the assistance of friends, Davide Ghione, Sebastiano D'Alessandro and Riccardo Marchese, he is Sunbourne Rd.  Now available on CD and previously only available as downloads, the 19 tracks present  represent all of the 18 tracks included on Sunbourne Rd.’s three digital releases plus an exclusive bonus track “Sunflower”! Whilst the UK indie guitar scene seems to be a multitude of bands trying to sound like each other, Europe is releasing more and more interesting offerings. The beauty of this collection is that repeated listening unveils even more layers. 


Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link


Various Artists - Big Stir Singles: The Tenth Wave (Big Stir Records 2021)      $12






“Big Stir Singles: The Tenth Wave” is (for now) the final instalment in the current series of CDs collecting their celebrated weekly digital singles, the A- and B-sides of which were issued in October and November of 2020.  While it's the sterling example of the best music on the global pop rock scene that listeners expect, it's also an essential document of the turbulent times of its making. This is top flight musicianship in the service of radio-ready tunes, but it also tells us a great deal about the world as it is today, as seen by the represented songwriters and performers.   As with the other nine volumes in the series, “The Tenth Wave” stands as a testament to the fact that “the single” has lost neither its relevance nor its magic ability to thrill with musical craft and unparalleled immediacy. 








Ram On: The 50th Anniversary Tribute To Paul & Linda McCartney’s Ram  (Spirit Of Unicorn Music  UK 2021)      $20






Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Ram” album from 1971 is covered in its entirety by a collective of musicians lead by Denny Seiwell, the original drummer on the record (and Wings member from 1971-1973) and producer/multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo.  The album features all 12 tracks from the album, plus a few bonus numbers at the end.  The idea for “Ram On”, was born in 2020 from a discussion between Fernando Perdomo and Denny Seiwell. The pair are joined by original guitarist David Spinozza and Marvin Stamm (who played flugelhorn on “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”).  

Davey Johnstone (Elton John Band) and Will Lee (The Fab Faux) also play on the record which features contributions from over 100 musicians!  Each song has a guest vocalist including Brian Wilson’s daughter Carnie Wilson (Wilson Phillips), Dan Rothchild (Heart, Sheryl Crow) Pat Sansone (Wilco), Joey Santiago (Pixies), Eric Dover (Jellyfish, The Lickerish Quartet) and Durga McBroom (Pink Floyd, Blue Pearl).  
 






Thursday, 10 June 2021

Negative Album Reviews

 


I've had more time on my hands this week and so it has been great to catch up with fellow writers, DJ's, friends etc and one constant topic came up. It was about a Negative Album Review that I wrote on here. Two points came up. The first was asking if IDHAS had changed its policy of only writing positive reviews and ignoring the albums that don't float my boat. The second was telling me that they had heard that I Don't Hear A Single had got a massive amount of complaints about it.

I'll answer the second question first. IDHAS did not receive one complaint about the review. It also had over 4,000 views making it the most popular monthly post for a while. I know bad news travelling fast may have helped readership, but my point is not one of those readers reacted via a complaint or any disagreement. 

One of the IDHAS Team didn't disagree with the opinion in the review, concurring that the album was a real turkey, but thought that I had gone way too far. Another opinion on Facebook said the same. Both could be right. I would also state that the Record Label didn't mention the review in any way. They ignored it and moved on which was exactly the right reaction. Everyone assumes that a big postbag followed. I can assure all that it didn't. 

On the other point, I Don't Hear A Single hasn't changed its policy. It will as always only carry positive reviews from albums that I truly think other people will get a similar kick from. If I don't like it, I won't be telling others, I will just ignore it. That is a lesson learned. For approaching five years, IDHAS has kept to that policy and confusing people with the negative one wasn't the right thing to do. If I feel so strongly about an album in future, I will hold my tongue or publish it elsewhere. 

Just a small explanation of why I decided to write the review is in order. As the album was sent to reviewers, the general opinion amongst the many fellow writers that I talked to was that the album was laughable. There were running jokes about how bad it was. Yet there was not one comment on Blogs or Social Media, quite the opposite. There were positive comments from people that I knew were slating it which really irritated me.

Then a couple of people kept chipping away at me saying that I should put a positive spin on the album, that somehow Power Pop needed me to support it. That seemed overboard. Power Pop doesn't need my opinion on anything, it can handle itself fine. I am not the voice of the masses, quite the reverse, it places too high an opinion on me and is unwarranted and undeserved. Secondly I don't really consider myself a Power Pop writer. I was at the beginning, but I Don't Hear A Single grew and evolved into something far more Indie. It majors on Pop Rock, but isn't afraid to cover Psych or Prog. That Indie direction is one that happened, it was never planned. 

I stand by the review 100%. It is an honest opinion on what I think about the album. A few others disagree and think the album is great, that's absolutely fine. I'm glad they like it. I think people don't realise that IDHAS gets about 200 submissions a day. It also prides itself on covering the uncovered, opening doors for artists and then moving on. It covers artists that aren't in the PR mass email circle. A lot of listening is involved in this. It has always been an honest Blog and I think the lack of coverage I give to Big Stir and Kool Kat albums endorses the integrity.

The mistake that I did make was publishing the article on I Don't Hear A Single which made the review look personal and may have made other artists afraid that they might get the same treatment. I'm not going to take the review down as that would be hypocritical, but I can assure you that future reviews will follow simple rules. If I really love the album, I will tell everyone about it. If I don't, I will just ignore it.

Thanks for reading!


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Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Extended Play Part 2

Divest - Mercury Retrograde EP


When I think of Norwegian Pop Rock, I think of Candy. Now Tom Dahl has some real competition from the Oslo duo of Andreas Heinesen Kase and Hans-Ole Sponberg Larsen. Divest are at the poppier end of Pop Rock as demonstrated here.

Mercury Retrograde is released on Friday and By My Side is an absolute gem of a lead track. It is like Russell Mael fronting Jellyfish. Knock On could be even better, slower, but wonderfully melodic. I can see these two songs being lapped up by the Indie Pop Internet Radio Stations.

Something's About To Chase is mid 80's synth pop and Wasteland, Sunshine is a much moodier affair. All four songs blend beautifully. New great Pop isn't that easy to find, Mercury Retrograde is definitely that. You can find out more about the band and pre-save the EP here.




All Over The Shop - All Over The Shop EP



Detroit Trio, All Over The Shop have released a masterful Power Pop EP. The vibe is very late 70s / early 80s New Wave. What makes the band that bit different is Todd Wilks's unique vocal which comes somewhere between Doug Fieger and Feargal Sharkey. 

The choruses are big, the hooks are plenty and singing along is compulsory. Movin' Too Slow has an urgency that just grips you and If That's Magic has a real Lindsey Buckingham vibe. Brand New Summer is very UK New Wave Beat Pop.

Tongue Tied is a little different, a song you can imagine in an 80's Teen Movie and the chorus is killer. I'm told that All Over The Shop was just a lockdown project. I do hope not because I want to hear much more from these three. You can listen to and buy the EP here.



Silvertwin - Ploy



As a side issue, researching Silvertwin underlined my frustrations with reviewers, particularly UK writers. Every article on the band said the same. It was obviously copy and paste PR. I do wish would look to draw their own opinions on new music and not be so lazy. Too many wait for the PR to arrive in the Inbox and listen to just a track or two. Less is more. Quality rather than quantity!

Back on Topic and the London five piece are led by Isaac Shalam and specialise in 70's Pop Rock that edges towards Soft Rock. Songs are beautifully arranged and unashamedly celebrate the decade. People could claim cloning, I don't go for that at all.

Original songs played with heartfelt sincerity need applause, particularly when most raid Glam Rock. A song like Saviour reminds me of the likes of Jigsaw and Pilot, maybe even John Miles. Doubted and to a lesser extent, Ploy are very Andrew Gold and you can't complement the band more than that comparison.

Promises takes the Piano Pop one step further and would easily fit on John Howard's Kid In A Big World. It really is that good. This is a top notch EP. The album may need a touch more variation, maybe something that picks up the pace, but this is a splendid listen. You can listen to and buy the EP here.



The Cudas - Alien Vacation EP




I've watched the development of Cape Town's Reinhard Leon van Biljon via The Cudas's singles and thought he was on to something that would result in a killer EP or Album. Alien Vacation is just that. The man loves Power Pop and this is unashamedly killer Power Pop. 

The production has come on apace and these four songs are as good as anything you are likely to hear in the genre. Autorama has a hint of The Records' debut and I Don't Wanna Go Out is very Tsar like, all it really needs to be perfect is Steve Coulter on the drums. 

My Summer Song should really be on Not Lame and early Weezer dominates Space Coast. People still say there are no new great Power Pop artists. Here is one. This is poptastically great. A reminder of how positive great Power Pop can be if people would stop taking it so seriously. You can listen to and buy the EP here.


https://thecudas.bandcamp.com/album/alien-vacation


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Extended Play Part 1

 Lost Ships - Nostalgia



Portsmouth's Lost Ships release their third EP for the excellent Subjangle label. Nostalgia is cleverly written classic Brit Pop. This EP seems less jangly than the previous two and is very reminiscent of The Bluetones, a real compliment.

Weight Of The World is the obvious lead track, a catchy chipper Supernaturals like affair. Shirley From Shirley is a slower storytelling song that quietly builds while Inside My Head is very Glasgow with a riff that is so The Coral. 

Come To Me borders on Americana, almost Campfire like until the short closing cinematic instrumental. A cracking listen. I can't wait for a full length Lost Ships album. You can listen to and buy the EP here.





The Stick Arounds - Waiting For The Click



Waiting For The Clouds is a 4 Track RP that acts as a sampler of how varied, the Michigan five piece are. Redtail Hawks is all fuzzed up, US New Wave Power Pop that comes across as a popped up The Successful Failures. It is a very fine thing indeed.

In a completely opposite direction, Easy To Take has a real Country Rock Doolin' Dalton vibe. Close To Being Cool edges toward a Pete Wylie big sound and Ode To Kid Marine is built on a Guided By Voices sort of riff and aches beautifully and more than a little noisily.

Hearing four songs that are very different act as a great showcase, but may confuse new listeners who may want to dig into the band's back catalogue to learn what a great outfir this lot are. You can listen to and buy the EP here.





Tripper and the Wild Things - Boomerang Kids



Predictions of the next big thing usually end in tears, but Hamilton Ontario's Tripper And The Wild Things have a certain something that may just break down the barriers. They master a brand of slacker Indie Rock that appeals to their generation in a way that may just take the previous one along for the ride. 

The band can be a little noisy and shouty the odd time, but this is built around big hooks and memorable choruses. Plus a song like Juno shows that they have more than one gear and work equally well on slowed down songs. 

There's no doubt though that they are at their best when the pace ramps up and a song like Boomerang Kids encapsulates what the band are about. A built up verse, a great chorus and a killer riff. I can't wait to hear more. You can listen to and buy the EP here.





Portable Radio - Should've Bounced


Portable Radio draw attention to their magnificent self titled album, reviewed here. Should've Bounced, the lead track is from the album and underlines the band's vocal strength of harmony in a gentle catch all listen.

The two B Sides are more than worthwhile inclusions. Happy Coincidence is a  little more basic than what has gone before, more keyboard led 80's twee than previous songs, but still underpinned by a wonderful vocal arrangement. 

Never Tell A Soul is the original mix of Kick Me Out and is part Piano Bar schmooze, part Explorers Club. Portable Radio's strength is the vocal interplay and this EP is a great addition for buyers of the album, It is an album that everyone should own. You can listen to and buy the EP here.




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Tuesday, 8 June 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.

We do realise that buyers in the UK and Europe can buy the UK Releases cheaper. That is absolutely fine. We want to publish the full Kool Kat weekly update complete, so UK Releases may be for info only to UK Buyers.

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.


Deadlights - Deadlights (Self Released 2021)      $10




Deadlights is the latest musical endeavour from Well Wishers frontman Jeff Shelton. Following the release of “Shelf Life” The Well Wishers 11th full-length, Jeff made a concerted effort to take a break from his tried-and-true formula of punchy melodic power pop and venture into the darker and more lush sonic realms of Dream Pop, Britpop and Noise Rock. With the assistance and encouragement a Bay Area cohort Bill Taylor (Songs For Snakes) the song writing and recording began in earnest in late 2020. Jeff also sought the assistance of Nashville artist Lindsay Murray (Gretchen’s Wheel) who lent a beautiful lead vocal to “All We Love” and former Trip Wire bandmate Mark Nicholson for some bouncy bass work on the track “Come Down Slowly”.  


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Rooftop Screamers - Next Level (Self Released 2021)      $12




Rooftop Screamers is the name of the studio project for Portland based drummer and songwriter Mike Collins.  It's an outlet to showcase his original songs and collaborate with some of his favourite local, as well as world renowned singers, musicians and producers. Tim Smith, Ken Stringfellow, Keith Slettedahl, David Paton, Dan Reed amongst others join in the fun.


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Diesel Park West - Hang Johnson (Self Released 2021)      $15




In Kool Kat's ongoing effort to present previously unreleased Diesel Park West recordings to the masses, please welcome “Hang Johnson”, originally recorded in 1997.  Songs like “Singing Life” and “Travel The Earth” capture the spirit while “You’ll See” is an outright Diesels’ definitive classic worthy of anything on “Shakespeare Alabama” if not above.  




Download Link


Caper Clowns - Abdicate The Throne + bonus disc (Gateway Records 2021)       $19




“Abdicate The Throne” finds Caper Clowns exploring different areas of music not present on their first two releases, displaying a giant leap in both maturity, delivery and song writing!  The album not only hits the heights of previous offerings, but it reveals a lot of hidden depths. Known for their live performances, the lockdown could have really slowed the band up, but that time has been used to play around with that they do.  This is a very different Caper Clowns album. True, there are still the Crowded House-like elements that enhanced their popularity. Having five vocalists in the band was never fully utilized until now and the varied song writing of all has taken the band to another level. 

The album comes with a Kool Kat Exclusive, the 11 track Live At Ferritslev Fritidshus Denmark 2000.


Kool Kat Link


Apple Music Link


Various - Higher Than A Mountain : The Songs Of Andy Gibb (Curry Cuts Records 2021)      $12




Never could we ever predict that the name Andy Gibb would appear anywhere on the Kool Kat site!  In light of what music critics have told us we should collectively feel about this stuff over the years, Curry Cuts’ approach feels almost rebellious. Their curated covers are the sonic equivalent of simultaneously giving the finger to all the haters. The cream of Pop Rock offer up their take on a surprisingly great selection of covers.


Kool Kat Link


Bandcamp Link


Cloud Eleven - Pandora’s Box (Kool Kat Musik  2021)      $12.50 




NEW RELEASE ON THE KOOL KAT MUSIK LABEL “Pandora’s Box” isn’t so much a “new” album than a collection of 16 previously unfinished song fragments that had been buried on old cassette tapes, plus some outtakes from other albums and a few covers. During the lockdown of 2020, Rick Gallego would discover a stray chorus here, a verse there, and commence to completing the songs, then record them.  Gallego underlines his mastery of Psych Pop.







The Bablers - Psychadilly Circus (Big Stir Records 2021)      $12





The Bablers have been hailed as “the Finnish Supergroup of Pop” for a good reason.  Each individual band member – songwriter/vocalist Arto Tamminen (bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, cello, percussions, vocals), Janne Haavisto (drums, vocals), Pekka Gröhn (bass, keyboards, vocals), and Hannu Pikkarainen (guitar, vocals) – holds at least one Finnish Grammy for their musical work outside the band.  Their musical chemistry has a long, rich history, though. “Psychadilly Circus” more than delivers on the promise of decades past. It all adds up to a heady brew, and an encyclopedic tour of the whole of rock and pop history, crafted by a band who knows it, chapter and verse.

 




Zombies Of The Stratosphere - On The Wing (Self Released 2021)      $11





New York City-based power pop and psychedelia band Zombies Of The Stratosphere’s ongoing mission is to create songs built to last by nerdily obsessive craftsmen with big record collections. You know: the good stuff.  The band write extremely catchy, jangle-guitar pop with hooks that recall a myriad of classic 60’s groups. This is headphone music for ear-candy addicts.







The Electric Stars - Velvet Elvis : The Only Lover Left Alive (Stoned Gospel Records UK 2021)     $19





The Electric Stars latest release has exploded off the back of their incredible debut “The band are quite hard to categorize – no bad thing – as the range of influences here are wide.  Just when you think you’re settling in to a fairly traditional pop rock song along come some baggy drum beats to give everything a different twist. Throughout the album veers from classic rock to indie pop and back again, with a dash of glam simmering below the surface. It's a real melting pot of ideas loaded with anthemic songs and enthusiastic pop hooks. 

Take advantage of Kool Kat's exclusive 2-fer offer! Get this and their debut "Sonic Candy Soul" cd for only $35! 







Mod Fun - Wardour Dreams (Detour Records UK 2021)      $18





"Wardour Dreams" is a compilation of both of Mod Fun's 80's vinyl releases, remastered and for the first time, available as full albums on CD.  This collection of songs represents the bulk of studio recordings by "New Jersey's original 80's Retro-mod band," who were among the most popular of the handful of east-cost acts in the early 80's retro-rock movement based in the "NYC Cave-Stomp" scene.






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Monday, 7 June 2021

Cassette 50 - Sea Alert (Name Your Price)

 

Nick Worrall has been involved in various projects for over two decades. I suspect most will not have heard of any, but you can learn about them all on his website here. The most recently released feature the quartet, Cassette 50.

Worrall is Songwriter, Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist in Cassette 50 and Sea Alert is deliciously lo-fi, This is New Wave DIY Pop circa 77 - 79 in feel. Nick's vocal is very Ian Broudie and without all of The Lightning Seeds studio backup, the sound can seem a little basic.



However, there are real hooks here and a real lyrical adeptness. You sense with an increased budget, Cassette 50 could fashion up a monster Power Pop album. The 15 songs here are little gems played with a dedication and passion by the four. 

Off The Grid is very mid 80's jaunty pop and I Want Out has a Merseybeat jollity, but lyrically is more UK Beat a further years on. Leaving Today is great Scouse Scally Pop and Life Is A Drug has a sound akin to The Zutons.



At times there's a slight reggae feel, particularly in some of the riffs. Too Far Gone is almost Toytown and Let Me Tell You How It Hurts is classic New Wave Guitar Pop and a fine closer. But elsewhere, there are hints of Psych Pop and Glasgow Twee. 

Coming in at just under 28 minutes, this mixture of songs about love and the banal everyday is a cracking listen. I've been critical of some lockdown lo-fi, Cassette 50 sound more like their equipment makes it that way and yet they come up with something endearing, charming and joyful.



You can listen to and buy the album on Bandcamp here. The Cassette 50 output is all at Name Your Price. You can also listen to the album following the links contained here.


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Chris Catalyst - Kaleidoscopes

 

I owe a massive thanks to Roger Worton who contacted me recommending Chris Catalyst. I vaguely knew about Chris as a live guitarist with Ginger Wildheart and keyboard addition in my beloved Terrorvision. I also knew he was in Eureka Machines, a band that have never quite appealed to me, despite many recommendations.

So I was unexpectedly blown away by his second solo album. I've since seen reviews that say Kaleidoscope is testament to Catalyst's record collection and that seems more than a little unfair. Across the 12 tracks, there is a mass of variety, but this seems to be more about a show of versatility or even getting every idea down.



The wide spread of material may confuse a few who may wish for something a little more focussed. However, I am quite the opposite. I'm more than impressed by the variation and the overall impression is "Wow! What a talent!"

The album feels like a Brit Pop album and quite a few artists nod back towards the 90s, not many succeed and end up sounding like Oasis, god forbid. Not everything succeeds, but little fails and getting the full gamut of what Catalyst has to offer leaves you more than impressed. 



Kaleidoscopes is exactly what Pop Rock should be. Songs that are not too Rock to split your ears or be more about technical ability than tunes and not the I Love You, Yes I Do of Pop. On repeated listens, you realise what a splendid album this is, it has such depth without ever losing sight of the hooks and choruses. It never tries to be too clever, versatility doesn't necessarily mean showing off.

One of the things that I've learned over the years is that the first song that you should listen to on an album is the second track. It generally gives you a feel of what the album will be like more than an opener. King Of Everything is an absolute joy, part Psych Pop, part killer singalong chorus. 



The Ride is all Math Rock with its Muse like riff whilst Divide And Rule is wonderful UK late 60s Beat. A Modern Adventure is in Supergrass territory and Ordinary has a hint of Simon Le Bon. Falling Down edges towards Power Pop, yet becomes the anthemic closer.

Special mention should go to Happy which is great Pop in the mode of The Bluetones or The Supernaturals. It is an absolute crackerjack of a song. Many will point to the Neil Gaiman sampled, Make Good Art, which adds to the variance, but I'm not convinced that it should have been the opener with all this top notch Pop Rock around it. All in All Kaleidoscopes is highly recommended. You'll love it.



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


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Sunday, 6 June 2021

I Don't Hear A Single Update

 


I have written a small addition to the "About Us" section of I Don't Hear A Single. I can assure you that this isn't us being up ourselves. 

IDHAS gets up to 200 submissions a day. I don't use Spotify etc because of a poor internet and 4G connection that makes streaming nigh impossible through the day. I am also very averse to the rates that these streaming sites pay musicians. 

Downloads are easy because these can be downloaded overnight when the internet connection is more stable. There is nothing worse than trying to listen to a new artist when the songs keep buffering.

I have also explained our thoughts on Physical Media. We love CDs and Vinyl and are long time collectors. But we do not wish for artists to be going to additional expense to get music to us, particularly with the Postal Rates rising constantly in the States and Customs Charges being applied in the UK and Europe.

We would love to listen to an album on CD, but not at the expense to struggling musicians. We also have no wish to build our personal music collections on the back of these musicians. We cannot abide people who sell physical promos to record shops. If we don't review an album, we try to pass the CD on to someone who might.

If you wish to send physical media because you think your album will sound much better in that format, that's fine. But we are as likely to review a download as CD or LP.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Groovy Uncle - Searching For The Grown-Ups

 


Groovy Uncle have mastered a brand of 60's Pop Rock with melodic slices of UK Beat and Psych Pop. Usually Glenn Pragnell gathers everyone together in the same room. The pandemic dictated that this wasn't possible for Album Number 9. 

Searching For The Grown-Ups was recorded at home, although you really wouldn't know that sound wise. With just Brass and a few Guitar tracks recorded remotely, it could be described as a Pragnell solo affair, but again it doesn't sound or feel like that.




The trademark Groovy Uncle sound is still present, particularly on Cool It Down and Jimmy Joined A Gym, but this seems a more varied Pop led album and reveals the full scope of Pragnell's talents. The man can certainly write a catchy tune and although it is essentially 60's led, the hooks are aplenty.

That Sinking Feeling is Merseybeat with a Duane Eddy twang and Not Inclined To Do is a ringer for early Hollies. He Misses You is a crackerjack of a song, lyrical sadness draped in a chirpy chipper tune. Not Inclined To Do is a classic Ready Steady Go male solo singer that made the ladies swirl.




It is the endearment of the album that strikes home most though. The piano led quaintness of Saturday Afternoon and the joyful Brass on Grown-Ups reveal a wit draping the ordinariness of everyday life in happy go lucky instrumentation.

Having said that the album is no one trick pony. There is a real rasp to Too Tired To Do Stuff and Gravesend is very different with its wonderful diary like talking vocal. Special mention too for the instrumental opener, Saturday morning, a surprise Brass led joy that sets the mood for a great pop album.




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


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Thursday, 3 June 2021

Ian McNabb - Utopian (2CD)

 


Ian McNabb unleashes a double CD that continues a splendid solo career and I'd underline solo. I was there from the early days of The Icicle Works, not long out of school and they were great days, both studio and live. 

However I do get irritated by every interview being focussed on that time. It was five albums and ended in 1990. So for thirty years, McNabb has built an incredible solo career as a sort of Singer Songwriter Troubadour and kept a large loyal following via constant recording and touring. This following covers all ages and in a rare rock example, an audience of both male and female.

Utopian feels a little different though. It seems a lot gentler, a lot more laid back and it really works because of this. 95 minutes is a lot of McNabb and if it was going at constant full belt, you'd soon get worn out. Normally, you expect his albums open with a blast that is a call to arms.



None of that here. The excellent opener, Boy, seems a little autobiographical and the epic Harry Dean Stanton are not the usual opening salvos that you expect, but both work beautifully in setting the scene for later outbursts. 

It is only at Song 4 that that trademark bite emerges and you sense that the angry young man is still in situ. Jonesin' soon follows and the full on Guitar hero emerges. It is a gripping noisy joy at full tilt. Yolo is easy listening schmooze and You Bring Good Things is fine power pop, almost Bruce Hornsby instrumentally, but heartfelt lyrically.

Rollin On (The Things We Left Behind) is one of those that songs that McNabb excels that. He often doesn't get the credit he deserves lyrically and it always most prevalent when the song reflects on the past. It is a song that could easily (sound wise) on Queen's Innuendo album.



The second disc maintains the quality of the first. Runnin' Outta Stuff has a real Truth And Beauty feel whilst The Old Grey Lady is a moody atmospheric ballad from a different west coast. Great Spirit is another slower affair, but seems desperate to break out without ever quite managing to.

Jivin' Miss Daisy is great call and response and the closer, Melody is  a dedication to the power of music with a gentle Brass accompaniment. The stand out though is We're Never Gonna Grow Up a real sing along affair.

The song is all Doobie Brothers complete with Sax Solo and a driving boogie rhythm. It is a little difficult telling you all about a 20 song album, so you can head over to Bandcamp to listen to it all, but let me finish first.



I have sensed a small wave of singer songwriters as the pandemic reaches a conclusion. It's not going to be like that Nineties explosion as too many will want to plug in and let the frustration out. There may also be a tendency to tell people how lonely they were. 

To his credit, McNabb doesn't bang on about the last 12 months or so. Plus looking back to the 90s. most of those singer songwriters are not around, poor third albums or lack of sales and interest called the public's bluff.

So if there is a new wave, then who better to father it than Ian McNabb. He is an exception to the rule, the love and quality of the music never deserted him He just battles away releasing great albums that should get a much wider audience. Maybe that time is now!



You can listen to and buy the download here. You can buy the CD or LP and find out more about Ian McNabb here. You can read the I Don't Here A Single reviews of Our Future In Space and Star Smile Strong here and here.


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