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Friday 31 December 2021

Happy New Year


Happy New Year To All! For those going out stay safe and avoid the 96 Decibel Freaks. 

The 2021 reviews will continue tomorrow for the next week or so and then I'll sit down and do the IDHAS 100 for the year. As usual it will be a ten per post countdown to allow people to take their time and not have to wade through a big list.  All will link to the album, have a song example and a link to the IDHAS Review. 

See you next year!


Gordon's Crowbar - Songs About Stuff


Gordon's Crowbar are a quartet from Auburn WA and Songs About Stuff is wonderful. This is a rock album with no pretensions. Songs are loose, seeming almost jams and the lyrics give the impression of being a stream of consciousness, although they obviously aren't either.

Having said this, nothing outstays its welcome. A riff or groove is hit and it drives home, the rhythm section is outstanding, totally driving. Solos are great without ever occupying more space than is needed and the results are splendid.

The band remind me a lot of Masters Of Reality, but at times the default rhythm could easily be latter day Rush. The vocal has a southern twang that is adorable that just enhances the material. The riffs are absolutely gripping. This is Rock that doesn't batter you into submission.

I'm not sure if the term Groove Rock has been invented but this is that. Any of the nine songs will grab you, but special mention has to be given to the mighty High Treason, although A.D.D runs it close. This is a corking listen. It certainly floats my boat. I'd certainly like to learn more about them.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out a bit more Gordon's Crowbar here.


Galore - Roller


People have noted that I Don't Hear A Single has changed direction a little over the years. I'm not sure that's the case, but it certainly reflects my wide listening tastes more and to give readers (and listeners) the credit, they have stayed on for the ride. They know if something doesn't appeal to them, something that does will soon appear. 

However with Galore, I am in far more expected territory. Many of you will know of Barry Walsh from the superb Cool Blue Halo. However, Walsh was also a part of another Canadian band, Galore and their third album, Roller has remained unreleased over the decade or so since it was recorded.

The album was demoed  and recorded in various home studios with the tracking done in Sloan's Rehearsal Space, Sloan being friends of the quartet. The other three members are Kevin Hilliard (Bass) Stephen Krecklo (Guitar) and Tim Timleck (Drums). Hilliard also shares vocal duties with Walsh.

The result was and is a splendid 10 song affair and it is a shame it has taken so long to reach the world. Pop Rock of the highest order, all of the staples are there, big choruses, great riffs and ace Guitar solos. The album isn't a million miles away from Cheap Trick in feel.

Stop Believin' is probably the stand out, an absolute catch all gem of an opener. Please is more in 80's territory with its driving Bass and production. Cincinatti Annie trends 90's Cheap Trick and Too Many Sarahs channels The Beat with a hint of UK New Wave.

Getting Over It is fine Power Pop with its killer riff and Under Your Thumb is a real Glam Rock stomp. All in All Roller is a joyful listen, it hasn't dated at all and some of the 2021 Pop Rock recordings could learn a thing or two about track order and the lack of a need to front load.

You can listen to and buy the album on all the popular streaming and download sites. You can find out more about the album here.


The Brandy Alexanders - The Brandy Alexanders


Windsor Ontario is the hove of the quintet, The Brandy Alexanders who offer a compelling version of gentle Psych Pop Rock. In a way, the self titled album is an ideal fit for listeners who have become with Tame Impala since Kevin Wilson turned to mediocre Stadium Rock.

This debut has had an interesting history. Initially an EP in 2016, then withdrawn when the band signed to Gypsy Soul Records. Four extra tracks have been recorded and added and the result is an absolute blinder of an album.

The songs are generally demoed by brothers, Alex And Daniel Dick, then brought to the band. Comparisons aren't easy, Alex's vocal isn't one that you naturally associate with Psych. It provides a real Pop sensibility that helps turn the direction of songs.

Anastasia, for instance, is really beat driven, Pop Rock at times, but still feels more like Prog Pop. IDK What I'm Trying To Do edges towards Classic Rock, yet Shiram is splendid Psych Pop. Hey Why'd You Do It is even balladesque until it breaks out.

Rear Window is great Pop, an absolute ball of catchiness, while Conventional Lie is meandering 60's laidback Psych of the highest order. Live By The Light even ventures into Funk. But is the opening and closing bookends that show the band's variety most.

Ceiling Fan, Man rocks the album in, probably the loudest the band get, SpaceOpus is a moody enthralling with a top notch Guitar solo that ends a fine album. There is so much to like here underlining how great Psych can be when it is melodic and doesn't disappear too far up its own behind.

You can listen to and buy the album everywhere. You can find out more about The Brandy Alexanders here.


Thursday 30 December 2021

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 18

The final 10 Song Mix of 2021 and a slight change this week. The IDHAS Audio Extravaganza always used to start with an older song, so a tribute is paid to that with Ulysses opening this week's offering. Hopefully the Extravaganza will resurface at some stage in 2022.

In the meantime, the year is closed with these 10 songs in 39 minutes. Happy New Year everyone!

The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Ulysses - Bad Tattoo

02 Boxteles - Little Towns

03 Lovebreakers - Eye Roller

04 Pigeon Club - Knots

05 Surreal Prismatics - Hand Glider

06 Nick Frater - It's All Rumours

07 I Was A King - The Anthem

08 The Split Squad - Taxi Cab

09 Sunhaven - Transcendence

10 Augie March - Clay

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 18


Pigeon Club - Pigeon Club


Pigeon Club is the vehicle for Los Angeles's Wayne Whittaker and he has come up with a splendid listen. The self titled album is a three way fight between Pop Rock, Americana and Singer Songwriter excellence. I'm sure the Americana Reviewers are tearing their hair out as nothing is allowed to vary from a mediocre template.

I'm sure that those reviewers feel the same way as Pop Rock, but they have got a particularly irritating music snob attitude. As you'd expect it is the Pop Rock that appeals most to me here and those songs just ooze out excellence.

Knots is certainly one of the best songs that I've heard, it is so damn catchy in its moodiness. Not So Sure is a real jaunty affair that pushes all the right buttons. Living Proof I'm A Fraud could easily appear on the classic Pop Rocks of the 90s, real top notch singer songwriter goodness with a screaming guitar solo.

Worry About It is very Gerry Rafferty goes Country and it is a beautiful listen. What If I Don't Get Sick is again close to Rafferty in mood and vocal style. Indeed a lot of the songs on show feel very British, wonderfully so.

Tumble On is like one of those West Coast Moody Ballads, as fine an example of a closing song as you could ever want. Little Yellow Legal Pad is a strumming Country-ish joy. The Hell Song has a hell of a twang. To be honest, there's not a duff song here.

Whittaker's voice is low key and gentle, ideally suiting the material. My real hope is that the album doesn't get caught in the mix of material. Ideally this should be filed under Singer Songwriter and it deserves its place among the great company that you'll find in that section.

You can listen to and but the album here.


The Split Squad - Another Cinderella


You may cast your glance at any album that mentions the word Supergroup and roll your eyes. I know I do. Resulting albums are usually great (I'm thinking of you Tinted Windows!) or really bad and when I say bad, I mean bad. Everyone gets a go resulting in albums that are all over the place.

Fortunately, The Split Squad are great. I like all five in the band as well as the bands they are / were in. Eight years on from their debut album. Another Cinderella is described as "Big Dumb Rock" and you know what it is, although I'd say Pop Rock is just as present.

The key word is fun and the varying genres that the musicians are known for allows a fine assortment of songs, all performed with smiles on faces. Compare the Power Pop of Taxi Cab to the out and out Glam Rock of Invisible Lightning. 

Trying To Get Back To My Baby is great 70's Classic Pop Rock, while Bigger Than Heroin goes one step further as a cracking slab of Dinosaur Rock. Sinking Ship is a fine Rock Anthem. but Another Cinderella is ace Stadium Rock and what a Guitar Solo!

Special mention has to be given to the two versions of Hey DJ. The opening version is an up and at 'em rock out. The closer, Hey (Soul) DJ is all 60s Soul Review. brass and all. An example that these guys didn't just turn up or phone the album it.

The songs stand up with some mighty Guitar Solos and a few great Organ runs, but it is the choruses that grab you most. Another Cinderella never takes itself seriously and this is a credit to The Split Squad. I absolutely loved it.

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


I Was A King - Grand Hotel


Norway's I Was A King have given Grand Hotel a download release to Grand Hotel, an album released on vinyl only last year and now well and truly out of print. The album is a companion piece to 2012's You Love It Here and 2019's Slow Century and the recordings are from the same period.

For those who know of the band, the direction of the songs will be no surprise. The mellow avenues of more recent Teenage Fanclub and very much in Dropkick territory covers it. But the two aforementioned albums were so splendid that a listen is vital.

Appearances from and three songs co written with Robyn Hitchcock, one of which includes Norman Blake will give the uninitiated a clue on what to expect. As will the three covers of Daniel Johnston, Scott McCaughey and Sean Jackson. 

Grand Hotel may be a bit too gentle for some, but as a mood enhancer, this is top notch stuff and when it Jangles, boy does it jangle. This particularly relevant on the likes of A Frozen Disease and The Anthem, the latter is a crackerjack of a song. 

Room 208 is a fine meandering moody affair and Leave is poptastic and wonderfully chipper in tone. But, I'm not sure where I Was A King can go from here. Grand Hotel is a fine album, but others have pretty got this territory sewn up.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Wednesday 29 December 2021

Michael Collins Is The Summer Holiday


At the end of October, I reviewed The Summer Holiday's B Sides Volume 1 album and knew little about it. I could only work out that it was by a Michael Collins, but not the two Michael Collins that I knew. The review was really well read, so far getting over 2,500 views. David Bash kindly provided contact details for Michael and so now you can read more about Michael.

So Michael! Who are The Summer Holiday?

"The Summer Holiday is essentially me.  I play guitars, bass, drums, piano, percussion, keyboards, etc.  I sing all the vocals and I write all the tunes. My friend, engineer and producer, Jake Lummus plays a huge role in producing, mixing and playing extra bass, guitar, background vocals here. and there.  David Henry plays strings. I like to consider the Summer Holiday as a "collective". Depending upon the song or project, anyone can be in it".

So how did you get to this stage?

"In terms of background, in 2011, I self released a record called "Best of Both Worlds" under my own name. Then in 2015, I self released a record called "Last Laugh", also under my own name. These records exist on I-tunes.  Both of these records were recorded with David Henry (Guster, Josh Rouse, Cowboy Junkies), in Nashville, at his (then) studio and under his production. 

David also did all the strings, mixing and was a huge help in getting me to think about songwriting from a melodic/arrangement perspective.  He was a great teacher and remains a friend.  I am very very proud of those records. They're much different from the Summer Holiday stuff (more on this in a second), much more contemplative, and introspective.  

They reflect where I was at at the time. Last Laugh, in particular, is a record I am fond of. I am very proud of the first four songs, as well as the closer. But that record was also the end of the line, in a lot of ways. It took three years to make (off and on), and I was disappointed at how it was received, in as much as it didn't "take off" (lol--my expectations were unrealistic). 

Much of that was my fault, but personally, professionally and musically, I needed a rethink. After that record came out in 2015, I played a few shows in support, sold a bunch of CDs and then just stopped. I was exhausted from the "singer songwriter" thing."

So you left music all together? 

"In the meantime, I changed jobs, careers and continued moving forward.  I sort of stopped playing music for a period.  But, slowly and surely, I started writing again. The music I was writing was more fun, upbeat, playful, power poppy and psychedelic. I was very INTO IT!  I was inspired by my favourite bands of the 60s, 70s and 90s and I was determined to keep things loose, listenable, with BIG CHORUSES! I had no expectations--just the writing and playing was the success.  I felt great. 

So did these songs lead to The Summer Holiday?

"Between 2016-2019, I wrote and recorded over 30 songs, which eventually became "Come Out, Come Out" (Dec 2020) and "B-Side Stories Vol.1" (2021). Although they're two separate records, in my mind it is a double record. In fact, they are sequenced as one whole piece (if you play them back to back). Reaction to these records has blown me away.  I recorded both of these records in Brooklyn NY."

So what of the future?

"COVID kept me home for all of 2020. During that year, I wrote 22 songs.  In the Fall of 2020, Jake and I spent 3 days demoing 19 of those songs and settled on 11 to work on. December 2020 was spent in pre-production via Zoom. The songs were edited, reconfigured and arrangements were fine tuned. 

In January 2021, we spent five days in the studio and recorded the bulk of what has become the next Summer Holiday record.  We spent the rest of the year mixing and fine tuning it to make sure it is right.  It was mastered three times before we signed off on it.  

It's called "Acqua", has 10 songs and will be released on streaming services on January 1, 2022. It's my best record, I think.  Power pop tunes, laid back dream pop, folk tunes, a ballad and some nice midtempo rock tunes.  

2022 brings the launching of the website, vinyl and cd pressings of "Come Out, Come Out", "B-Side Stories" and "Acqua". Shows, Covid permitting.  I am currently 10 songs into demoing for the next Summer Holiday project and there's enough leftover tunes for a decent "B-Sides Stories Vol. 2" at some point. 

The goal is just to continue to create, release and enjoy music and celebrate. The Summer Holiday, cheesy as it sounds, has given me a new lease on music.  I hope the audience continues to grow and that the music finally gets out there for anyone who is interested."

You can hear clips of all the songs from Acqua and the back catalogue of The Summer Holiday here. There are also links to streaming sites for the previously released albums and similar streaming links will appear for Acqua around the release date of 1 January 2022. 

The new album will be reviewed on here early next month. With it being a 2022 release, I am still in the process of reviewing albums from this year. I will be adding some links from Acqua to this piece when the album is live.


Kimon Kirk - Altitude


Los Angeles's Kimon Kirk's third solo album is his first in ten years and the resulting offering is a really lovely affair. Lovely is in no way meant to be condescending, nor is pleasant, but Altitude does have a gentle feel to it.

This is largely due to Kirk's vocal which soothes the material throughout. The arrangements are spot on and the melodies strong. Kirk is a real storyteller. another boon for the genre. However lyrics are less important due to the great vibe across the album. 

There is a slight Country feel to some of the slower songs and those in particular complement his wonderful vocal phrasing. When he rocks, he rocks gently and this again matches the material. He also has an upcoming support slot with Aimee Mann on the last two dates of her City Winery residency which will deservedly extend his reach. 

Mann duets here on the wonderful Baby Who Knows, but it is Kirk's more up tempo numbers that appeal to me most. Both the slightly jangling Evergreen and the Country Rock of The Girl I Used To Know stand out in particular.

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


Surreal Prismatics - Conscious Dreams


Surreal Prismatics are a Newcastle Trio consisting of Richard Robson, Mark Fox and Dan Potter. The band are on the Beyond Records label, as are Toxic Melons, a band that I Don't Hear A Single and Anything Should Happen readers will be more familiar with.

Whereas Pablo Melons's outfit are well versed in Pop Rock, Surreal Prismatics are much more diverse. Whilst centring On Psych Pop, they venture into all areas from Surf to Space Rock, Shoegaze to Synth, Prog to Pop Rock. Conscious Dreams is never ever boring.

When you expect one thing from a song, it swiftly changes into something else. Rugs for instance starts all Surf before turning into Garage Psych with a healthy does of synth. Matchstick Mind is all Screamadelic, yet Overboard is somewhere between Prog and classic Space Rock.

Hand Glider is very much in The Orgone Box's sphere, but Broken Machine is like Hawkwind playing Glam Rock. Cool Heat could be a modern meandering Syd Barret with an hypnotic chorus line. The brief words in this review give you a bit of idea of what is in store.

The most instantly accessible stuff is the Psych Pop, of which there is plenty, particularly the outstanding opener, Welcome To My Dream. But the Pop fights to get out everywhere and some of the riffs are absolutely hypnotic.

Lyrically adept, this is an inspired album. It isn't an easy first listen for pop freaks, but it gradually grips you, enthrallingly so. I don't think I've heard an album as original all year. Psych fans will love it, but there is so much here for everybody. Conscious Dreams is a really outstanding affair.

You can listen to and buy the album at the links here. You can find out more about Beyond Records here.


Nick Frater - Earworms


Big Stir don't get a fair crack review wise on I Don't Hear A Single and it is really unfair. I feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea because of my involvement with the label. I get concerned that reviews will be treated with a "well he would say that wouldn't he."

It is even worse with Nick Frater because I'm a long time fan and friend, so there is double the impact. But, I realise now that I am just being silly and that over five years on, readers of IDHAS know that I only cover releases that I like and would never review something simply because of a connection. 

You should also expect a couple more Big Stir label reviews over the next week. So to Nick Frater, a stand out in the UK Guitar Pop fraternity, who has never ever made an album that isn't top notch. Over recent years, there have been quite a few UK and Irish artists who have excelled at offering up 70s Pop Rock albums. Iain Hornal and Ulysses spring to mind.

The latter veers towards Pop, whilst the latter is more in a Rock direction. Earworms though not only provides the similar references, but it sounds like it was recorded in the Mid 70s, a sort of rediscovered lost album. Every song is built around the melody and it is that melody that provides the vibe, fast or slow.

Notwithstanding the pop sensibilities, catch all choruses and Frater's sublime soothing vocal, every song is beautifully arranged. This feels more like a group album, although it isn't, than previous albums. To top everything off, there is a stellar list of guests.

Appearances from Roger Joseph Manning Jr, Darian Sahanaja, Dana Countryman, Mike Randle, Nick Bertling and John Lathrop are amongst those that gilt Earworms. Everything is so 70s, but especially the Guitar solos. Those solos aren't prevalent, but when they arrive they just light up a song.

As for the songs, Buggin' Out is a real showstopper and opens up with a reel Pilot feel at times, guitar wise. It's All Rumours is even jauntier and probably the best song here. Not Born Again is another bouncy chipper affair with a chorus to die for. 

It isn't all about bounce though, although there is plenty of it, Lucky Strike is very Jellyfish and The Unbroken lands somewhere between McCartney and Liverpool Express. Who Says I Need A Plan even heads towards American Graffiti ballad territory.

Then there is the wonderful Piano Pop of the closer, How To Survive Somebody, a slowed down joy, almost Broadway like with a burst out Guitar Solo. Frater's development as a songwriter is magnificent, particularly considering that he is so prolific. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album on either Nick or Big Stir's Bandcamp sites as well as the main Big Stir site. The album is available as on CD, Vinyl or as a download.


Thursday 23 December 2021

Novastar - Holler And Shout


Oh how I love Joost Zweegers and although Novastar is essentially a solo project now, it has lost none of its charm and inventiveness in the hands of the main man. Dutch born, initially a Belgian band, but songs that sound so English.

I'm constantly drawn to the Netherlands. There is such a quality crop of singer songwriters with the likes of Anne Soldaat and Yorick Van Norden. Holler And Shout is no big diversion for Zweegers, why should it be? He masters what he does and continues to excel at it.

This is an album of wonderful melodic songwriting. There are no crashing guitars, everything is at a sedate melodic pace, splendidly sung and beautifully arranged. I like to think of it as an armchair album. You should sit back and listen and marvel.

Then there is THAT voice, there are a few around that make this sort of album and offer up ten morose miserable mediocre songs. But Zweeger's voice lends itself to the chipper, then again he could sing the phone book and still make it sound wonderful.

I defy anyone to write a song as magnificent Deep As The Eyes, it is just heaven.  Everything else is wonderful, but this dominates the album. The title track is a haunting Piano ballad, whilst Wild Years is reminiscent of the likes of James Walsh. 

Holler And Shout is a beautifully arranged with wafts of steel guitar accompanying Piano Pop of the highest order. The man not only writes amazing songs, but his voice just makes them better. This is a wonderful 36 minute listen. I never doubted it would be.

You can buy the album here


Boxteles - Break-Ups, Bevs & Thinking Ahead


It's really nice to be writing about a UK band as it has been slightly tumbleweed year here for Indie Guitar bands. A double bonus is that Boxteles are a quartet from Huddersfield and so it is a reason to celebrate the North with how far we seem to being left behind these days.

Six tracks and one is only the opening 47 second Intro, but so much is packed into the five other songs. Indeed there is so much packed in to the wonderful Little Towns that is worth the admission alone.  A song that I identify with via my roots and one of the best things that you'll hear this year.

Break-Ups, Bevs & Thinking Ahead is a fun packed affair, the sound of a band enjoying themselves. The result is a cracking example of great Guitar Pop. Whereas Little Towns is reminiscent of The Killers when they were good, the rest offers fine diversions.

Let Him Go is far more English in feel, a bit Brit Pop and yet again the chorus is big and the solo spot on, a bit glammy. Last Dance At The Prom starts as a Rock n Roll ballad then bursts into a bouncy New Wave affair and does it again all enhanced by a hypnotic guitar riff and another top notch solo. It is a great closer. Again so much is packed into just under 4 minutes.

D'You Mind is another Brit Pop reminder played at rapid pace and yet again a thrill of a Guitar solo. I'll Never Name You is the only time that the band come up for air, yet all is still incredibly melodic. This is a really impressive debut. I can't wait for a full album.

You can listen to and buy the EP here.


Wednesday 22 December 2021

The Boxcar Suite - Every Side Of The Abyss


Dayton Ohio (Power) Trio just get better and better and their third album is a further example of what a great band they are. Inhabiting a world somewhere between Power Pop and Rock, there are many strands in between both.

This is a Guitar album and although all the prerequisites are there, riffs, choruses, storming rhythm section. it is the solos that take them into another direction. Even when the song veers into other genres, you know that the solo is gonna come, you eagerly anticipate it.

Take for instance, the Jangle Psych of Rakes Of Yore which contains not one but two solos, the first all psych, the second far more rocky. All of the solos on the album never ever detract from the song or take it over, they just enhance wonderfully.

Kings Ex is out and out West Coast Byrds jangle. It reminds me of peak period Diesel Park West. Yet Turndt Town is pure UK New Wave. Jim Mouse is right in the territory of The Church, yet Lit Hunk is out and out Classic Rock, a tad Blue Oyster Cult. 

It is the variety that really impresses you. There are two fine examples of 70s Pop Rock, both different. The Flight has a funky tint that makes you think of someone like John Miles, but Wild Life Coach is more like those great UK second half of the 70s album that sold buckets despite Punk.

Post Up could be the album's high point, it is so damn melodic, however also present is the masterpiece that is Vincent Price. A splendid affair that starts with a killer riff, then has verses that just about get all the words in, the song just grips you. Every Side Of The Abyss is an outstanding offering. It will be high up in the IDHAS End Of Year List.

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


Monday 20 December 2021

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 17

Volume 17 has been re-uploaded as 17a. A bug on Mixcloud provided an error message when you attempted to play it. The original Volume 17 has now been deleted, so any Plays or Likes will not count toward the chart position.

The IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 17 is up and ready to provide your aural delight. The plan was to release No 18 on Christmas Eve. Due to the playback errors, No 17 will now stay up for the next 7 days.

36 and a half minutes is here to enrich your life. Feel safe in the knowledge that there are no Christmas Songs on either, so you can avoid all that forced jollity. I hate to spoil it all for you, but the Snowman doesn't bring the snow. Ask a weatherman!

The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 The Harmony Motel - Played By The Game

02 Love Axe - Black Out The Sun

03 Cold Collective - Wait For It

04 The Boxcar Suite - Vincent Price

05 Maple Mars - Goodbye California

06 Strangejuice - The Moth

07 Gretchen's Wheel - Tears

08 The English Rain - Melting Into You

09 The Jimmy C - Can't Face The Girls

10 The RG's - Divided

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 17


Tuesday 14 December 2021

The Harmony Motel - Topical Depression

One of the major outcomes of this year is how far I am behind on reviews I am. I don't get people who moan that they are bored. The lockdown may have stopped me going out, but it has opened so many other musical doors. Indeed, there are still two magazine writing projects that I've yet to start providing any material for, three or four months on. Then there is rush to get I Don't Hear A Single Reviews up before the year end. 

I mention this because I am currently catching up with stuff that I should've listened to ages ago and at times there's an irritation that I've missed listening to something that I could have spent even longer enjoying. Which brings me to The Harmony Motel. Many of you will know and love The Zags, well this is Stanton Hall's other "band". I love what Hall does and discovering that Bradley Skaught, another musician that I admire helps out, makes me feel even worse for ignoring it thus far.

The Harmony Motel is essentially a solo project with assistance from others. It allows Hall to unleash a lot of ideas and therefore there are a lot of directions taken and as you expect not everything works for any listener, but for this listener, the vast majority does. Topical Depression isn't an album to be judged by genre, it is a revelation of the influences and talent of Hall and it that it more than does the job.

Played By The Game is a wonderful song that would enhance any album. It is intellectual Pop Rock of the highest order. Reminiscent of great 90s Pop Rock, but at the same time something you could imagine City Boy doing in peak period Book Early mode. There is so much packed into sub 4 minutes that all around it could pale into significance. Thankfully, the genre hopping avoids that comparison, because apples would be being compared to oranges.

Getting Started Late is prime time UK Glam Rock, A Touch Of Confession is great 70s Pop Rock, think Jigsaw. Left Turn On 5 Forks goes all fuzzed up Indie 90s, part Brit Pop, part TFC. Definite Indefinite is a surprise closer with its Simon and Garfunkel akin 60s Acoustic singer songwriter vibe. The Title Track is splendid gentle Psych Pop with some haunting pedal steel and a great Toytown interlude. All this variation is overwhelmingly ace.

There's a lot here to take in, but it is more than worth the effort. Topical Depression is an absolute gem of an album that reveals startling talent. Even the odd song that doesn't hit home has to be admired for its variation to anything around it. It unwraps and displays Stanton Hall's talent and deserves a wide audience. Contained within are some of the finest songs that you could wish to hear and I haven't heard any other album this year that takes so many chances, yet remains, at its heart, incredibly melodic.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Death Party Playground - The Good Years


Waterloo Ontario's The Good Years offer up a six song affair that goes far beyond their Power Pop reputation. The Good Years is primarily a much heavier listen, engagingly so. The new Rhythm Section of Jesse Alarcon (Bass) and Matty Sawyer (drums) has more than a little to do with this.

The reviews have been noting this as an EP, but at 23 minutes, it is more a mini album and approaches the 27 or 28 minutes norm of many albums. There's a great deal of variety aided by main man Kyle Taylor's vocal which isn't an obvious one for Pop Rock.

Those vocals inhabit an area somewhere between College Rock and Americana, there is a definite twang that is unusual for this type of stuff. Then there is some wonderful organ from Paul Stouffer on Make It Home and Weathered Hands that takes the band in an even different direction.

The former is anthemic, 70s Country Rock territory without ever losing that Indie feel, while the latter starts with a Procol Harum type organ riff and provides another big chorus. Upside Down is almost 80's in its big ballad feel.

The Count is more in Power Pop territory with another great organ run. more in a UK New Wave feel this time, think Steve Nieve. The title track is splendidly heavier, almost 90s era Rush in its instrumentation, wonderfully so. 

The closing instrumental, Welcome To The New Year is even heavier with its driving beat. The one drawback is that there is such a variety here that casual listeners may be confused about what sort of band, Death Party Playground are. They shouldn't be, because this album is a crackerjack of a showcase that few can match.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Monday 13 December 2021

IDHAS Social Media Promotion


I'm currently updating the I Don't Hear A Single server, so in the downtime I thought I'd answer a question that I've been asked a few times recently. Some had noticed that I promote reviews far less on Social Media, particularly Facebook and asked why.

It is correct and I made a conscious decision in 2021 to promote on Social Media much less. There were a number of reasons, the primary one being that algorithm changes on Facebook had made getting the review to new people was made harder and harder. 

Secondly, I personally got irritated by seeing the same post in 20 different groups and constant posting about the same thing. Finally, Blogger is great for people seeing the 7 reviews on the front page and the most popular 10 in the last 30 days. It isn't as great with reviews beyond those seven after a month has ended. 

IDHAS is always about the new and unappreciated artists and getting their albums heard and hopefully bought. I wanted a way for more people to see current reviews and also see the older ones from across the year and the five years plus of the place.

So last year, I learned Google Analytics. I don't endorse it, it isn't an exhilarating learn, quite the opposite. It takes a fair bit of trial and error getting it to the job you want it to and this is painstaking. But once it is set up to your needs, it really works. I Don't Hear A Single has grown and grown since inception, but never as fast as this year.

I was concerned that a lack of Social Media presence would affect new reviews. So for new reviews, I posted a link on my own Facebook Page, the IDHAS Facebook Group page and the general IDHAS page, all at the same time. Most times, I posted on two of the groups that I am a member of, but rotated the choices, so as not to flood or spam people.

I also posted on Twitter once and did an end of the month round up on Instagram tagging all artists that had been reviewed that month. That was my only social media promotion. If artists, labels or fans want to promote it on social media in any way, they can until their heart is content. Indeed it is possibly more effective that way as a different audience is reached.

Google Analytics actually achieved the first aim to get older reviews read, but it also grew the views of the new reviews far more than I expected. It appears that as people discover the old review, they look at the new ones too. So now the artist and album gets seen by far more people and with Google Analytics now set up, I have far less of the boring promotion work to do as GA takes care of that with minimum input from me. 

So I hope I haven't bored you with this explanation. It wasn't the only question asked, but was the main one. After a quiet start to the month, IDHAS Reviews return on Tuesday. These will continue through the month as the Best Of Year 100 is never started to be compiled until the month has ended. 


Thursday 9 December 2021

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 16

The IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 16 is reading, willing and waiting your attention. 10 songs in 37 and a half minutes. An absolute cracker this week. I had real trouble deciding on the song order, so hope you enjoy the conclusion.

The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Children Collide - Trampoline

02 Galore - Stop Believin'

03 Quick Fiction - Little Blank

04 Ex Norwegian - Teen Bakery

05 The Maladaptive - Johnny's Finally Lost His Mind

06 The Laissez Fairs - Sad Girl Of The High Country

07 The Smivets - Somerset

08 Latvian Radio - Make Believe

09 Dave Cope And The Sass - The Great Theatre Of The World

10 Joe Dilillo (Featuring The Lickerish Quartet) - Loser Girl

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 16


Wednesday 8 December 2021

Dave Cope And The Sass - Pied Piper


The Dave Cope And The Sass debut album is a magnificent thing. You can read the review here. Very 70s Pop Rock and incredibly melodic, its place in the IDHAS Best Of 2019 was assured and I so looked forward to the follow up. Having talked to Dave, I'd had the pleasure of hearing a couple of things planned for it that were every bit as good as anything on that self titled album.

That album is still in progress, but will now be the third as Pied Piper has been revealed to the world. If the debut album was very 70s, then Pied Piper is a decade earlier. It is essentially a solo folk album and acoustic and that's not the sort of thing that I would normally listen to. 

I lost a few musical friends for my outspoken views on lockdown music. I just got tired of hearing acoustic nonsense, even worse were the covers, the majority of which were Beatles related songs. My "You may be at home, but you can still plug the fucking guitar in" rants didn't appeal to all.

Then there was the subject matter, all about misery, self misery. Not about changing the world or general topics but all about how it made themselves feel, which did nothing to add to the musical canon or cheer people up. Songs felt like Therapy sessions.

I've since mellowed because at least some normality has returned. Pied Piper is Acoustic. It is a protest album, but its about society and politics. At times it sounds Dylan like. The wonderful The Party Of Lincoln even uses the line "How many roads must a man walk down?" but adds the line "before the police take their boots off his neck."

But nothing on the album is a diatribe, this is thoughtful stuff. The other noticeable thing is that the album shows how varied Acoustic material can be. You can cite Woody Guthrie influences, but then you hear a song as splendid as Docklands that is pure Glen Campbell.

Ways Of Love is more in late 60s / early 70s folk and Jerusalem Jerusalem is hauntingly beautiful. The Great Theatre Of The World has far more in common with the debut album, maybe even a little Jethro Tull and To A Dreamer is McCartney Pop. Sheikh San'an is positively psychedelic. 

Come One Of These Mornings is possibly Country Blues and is probably the song that would most have benefitted from a band version. I'm not sure that I would have fancied this album on its description, but I knew I wouldn't be disappointed by anything Sass. 

I'm glad I did, it changes some preconceptions that I had and shows that it isn't Acoustic albums that are the problem, it is the source material. The more you listen, the album becomes less about protest and more about great great songs.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Monday 6 December 2021

Mott The Hoople - Mad Shadows


I was around 10 when I started to buy music under my own steam. My pocket money only stretched to Singles, but with Glam Rock at the helm, singles were joyous. A year or so later, family visits and special occasions allowed me to save up and buy albums. That opened up a whole new world to me. Approaching 40 minutes of music from the band. A whole lot of things that few had heard. You felt special, privileged and it became a mission to know every word on every song.

One of my early purchases was Mott The Hoople's The Hoople album and that was glamtastic. I didn't know Alice was about a prostitute, not that I'd have known what one was and the wonder of that album led me backwards to the band's masterpiece that is Mott and the All The Young Dudes album. Then I went further back and that was when the surprises started.

Living in an industrial town meant that finding anything that wasn't "popular" became nigh on impossible to find. But one Market day, I looked at the records on the music stall and there under the M's was Mad Shadows. I couldn't wait to get it home and imagine my disbelief that this was the same band that I had come to adore. It all appeared Heavy Rock music, surely there weren't two bands called Mott The Hoople?

But I'd made my purchase and wouldn't have enough for another for another month, so I listened and listened and the album's majesty took hold. It wasn't the chaotic noise that I first thought, the album just hooked you. It was dark and brooding and learning more over the years, I found out reasons why. Guy Stevens production, if you can call it that, played with the band's heads. Ian Hunter realised what he was after and so his songs reflected that. 

This was Mott The Hoople's second album and before it, Hunter was the band outsider. He had joined via a music press advert and Guy Stevens recommendation that he would be a decent stopgap. All the rest of the band were friends and the leader was really Mick Ralphs. So for the new guy to be taking over the main songwriting and the majority of the vocals seemed a bit bewildering. Ralphs wrote only 2 of the 7 songs, including the magnificent Thunderbuck Ram, Hunter dominated the album.

The driving rock of No Wheels To Ride, which still fights with Alice and The Journey as my favourite Mott song, opened up a whole new world to me. The gospel-esque I Can Feel showed another side to the band and the hypnotic When My Mind's Gone was a meandering hypnotic affair. Then there is the rock out of Walkin' With A Mountain which became a live staple well into Hunter's solo career, a song that explains the Dylan meets The Rolling Stones band comparisons.

The follow up, Wildlife went in completely the opposite direction, a Ralphs dominated album, very American Country Rock in its vibe. Although Hunter wrote two of his best ballads for the album, Waterlow and Original Mixed Up Kid, the guitars were turned down until the Live Keep A Knockin' medley that demonstrated what a band Mott The Hoople were. The Island era ended with a Punk preview, six years early in Brain Capers.

Listening to those four albums, you can understand what confused listeners. What type of band were they? Bowie and CBS were to call and the rest is history. Incidentally that year had a further revelation for me in the organised cacophony that is Wizzard's Brew. Heaven help the young kids who bought it expecting an album of See My Baby Jives.