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Tuesday, 17 May 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 27



It is time for another volume of the IDHAS 10 Song Mix. So, as if by magic, No 27 appears.  34 minutes of guitar led delight. 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 Extra Arms - I Don't Wanna Die

02 Bottlecap Mountain - Kool

03 The Chemistry Set - Lovely Cup Of Tea

04 Ginger Wildheart - Detachment

05 Tamar Berk - Hoping This Day Won't Kill Us

06 Vanilla - I Shall Be Re-Released

07 Bedroom Eyes - Here Comes Godot

08 Lantern By Sea - Ghost Story

09 Speedfossil - Luckiest Man In The World

10 The Toms - Witching Hour Glass Figure


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 27



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Lantern By Sea - Rim Of The World

 

The quartet from Cedar Hills, Utah, seem to have been lumped in with the Indie Folk gang. Comparisons are made to Manchester Orchestra which I see, soundscape wise and Mumford And Sons, which I don't see at all. Lantern By Sea are much more interesting than the insipidness of the latter.

Rim Of The World is certainly Indie, but nearer Indie Pop Rock if anything. The production is absolutely wonderful and this allows the songs to fully encompass all the directions they take. The album does sound a little 80s at time, in a good way, there is a gentleness that washes over you.




A song like Ghost Story bursts into life and could easily appear on Deacon Blue's Raintown, it is a really uplifting affair and perhaps should have opened the album. On the slower numbers, the band even sound more than a little like Elbow.

Lantern By Sea are however far too jaunty at times to be Elbow. Those pacier songs are built around a big riff and really break the album up. Eastern Sun could even be Coldplay. The Stone builds and builds on a very U2 riff.




The arrangements are massive, particularly the Celtic, Gallows which could be Prime Time Runrig. Atmospheric is the word to describe the album. As for Indie Folk, the only song close is Fisherman Song and that doesn't reach 2 minutes. A real sit back and enjoy affair. Well done all!




You can listen to the album here and at all the usual streaming places. You can buy it everywhere. You can find out more about the band here.


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The Chemistry Set - Pink Felt Trip

 

When I tell people that I listen to as much Psych and Prog as Pop Rock, people get all quizzical faced. They forget that I Don't Hear A Single majors on Pop Rock, so that is what you are most likely to see featured. However, whenever an album is released in either of those genres that deserves a wider audience and I think will appeal to followers, I will cover it.

The Chemistry Set are one such band. Dave McLean and Paul Lake are now well into The Chemistry Set's fourth decade and are still just as interesting as those early days. They define Psych and Europe despite their Britishness. 

A listen to the first three songs reveals both the variety and sort of trip you are in for. Pink Felt Trip is a fine slice of Space Psych, The Witch is a cover of Mark Fry's 1972 song and ventures deep into Prog. Then there's Lovely Cup Of Tea which is like Madness doing Psych Pop.

Sail Away has a real twang and but for the hippy trippy vibe, could be a Brit Pop song and Legend Of A Mind gives the impression of a gentle LSD Trip, it is like three songs in one, beautifully arranged and uses every second of the six and a half minutes.




Paint Me A Dream wipes the floor with most Psych Pop pretenders, whilst Firefly comes across as a less twee Kula Shaker. Psychotronic Man is a modern day Moody Blues. Then there is The Rubicon is New Wave UK Beat. 

Oh and the closing Self Expression Trinity is simply jaw dropping. It is over 11 minutes long and in three parts and contained within is everything that The Chemistry Set excel at. A magnificent soundscape that encompasses Psych, Pop Rock, Prog and all in between. It is a masterpiece.

Pink Felt Trip feels like the most accessible by the band yet. There is something for everyone. Inventive, melodic and taking unexpected routes, it is an essential listen. It could only appear on Fruits De Mer and of course it does.




You can pre-order the album from Fruits de Mer here


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Sunday, 15 May 2022

Blunt Bangs - Proper Smoker

 

Blunt Bangs are a trio from Athens, Georgia with a history that wouldn't necessarily suggest a great Power Pop album. Reggie Youngblood made his name in the excellent Black Kids, a band more in line with Indie Pop, whilst Smokey DeRoeck is more known in Indie Circles that edge more towards College Rock in bands such as Woods and Deep State.

Joined by Cash Carter of The Cadets on Drums, the trio don't necessarily make up a Power Trio, Proper Smoker is a little lo (er) fi for that. But they have fashioned up a superb Classic Power Pop Album that has all the touch points that make it that.



These 10 songs are incredibly melodic, lead up verses, big choruses, hook laden riffs and a short lead guitar bridge. They remind me a lot of The Speedways in many ways. However they aren't content to rest on the sub 3 minute template.

The band are even more interesting when they expand the songs. Speed Reader turns into a Guitar Fest. The wonderful, Odessa, edges into much wider genres, a little bit The Knack but much deeper than them. It is very New Wave.



The switch of Vocalists works well and adds to the variety, especially on a song like Tom Ford which is a great 2 minute say what you wanna say and get off joy. Hot Potato is a splendid closer, venturing into a much harder Indie direction. You can imagine how great Blunt Bangs are in a live setting.

But it is the Power Pop that will grab a lot of IDHAS fans most. Songs like She's Gone, Decide and Moshi Mishi will delight fans of the genre. That may real some, but there is far more here than verse verse chorus verse chorus bridge. Beautifully played, Proper Smoker is an album from a band that know what they are doing and they do it so well.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Saturday, 14 May 2022

Man Behind Tree - 3

 

I absolutely love what Subjangle do. Great Promoters of the new, provider of the best weekly update of the new with the essential "Beat The Delete" and a label that puts its money where its mouth is. Darrin and I get on infamously, we share similar attitudes, love music and both manage a warped sense of humour that makes us laugh out loud at each other's snarks.

Musically, we are a little different, we share a massive fondness for Melodic Pop, but where as Darrin moves more towards Dream Pop, I move towards the likes of Psych Pop. Like A Venn Diagram, the middle converging circle is where the best of both directions meet and contains the most interesting stuff you will ever hear.

Man Behind Tree inhabit that middle circle. The German quartet are a splendid listen, Guitar Pop at its very best. With all four members taking vocals, the variety is heightened, although you sense that they are happiest performing West Coast Pop and it is here that they excel most.



Japanese Mopeds, for instance, is as close to modern day Teenage Fanclub that you believe it is the Glaswegians. TFC comparisons can be incredibly lazy, but this song is worthy of that likeness. 99 takes that West Coast comparison further, with some great vocal interplay with a killer Jangle that ventures towards Psych Pop.

Can't Stop Drinking has a mesmeric riff, a little bluesy and a complete contrast to the gentle vocal. Don't Lose Grip even sounds more like late 60s Beach Pop and Moonshiner could be C86, all moody and magnificent.



Better Now You Got It is another example of the superb vocal harmonies present through out and is a Power Pop song that is desperate to get out, but never quite manages it. California Zephyr goes further and is splendid Power Pop.

Then there is the magnificent five minutes that is Picture Your Old Friends. A moody meandering joy that contains the best of what the band do. Built around a Merseybeat riff until a much darker solo takes the song into a weeping Guitar led close. Highly Recommended!



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Friday, 13 May 2022

Vanilla - Sideshow

 


There is not enough Guitar Pop in the world. A genre that makes the bright days brighter and never seems to get the acclaim it deserves. Tacoma's Vanilla are masters of Intelligent Melodic Pop, inventive and catch all catchy.

No two songs ever sound the same, yet all contain unexpected twists and turns and centre on massive choruses. Sideshow does all this with ease, adding a wit and knowledge that makes their albums essential but never ever ordinary.



Sorry! is a classic slice of 60s Beat Pop, Rain is built around a killer Bass Riff, almost soul like but for the sweet sounding vocal. I Shall Be Re-Released contains about ten songs in one, wonderful Indie Pop, even a little bit XTC.

Lonely Was His Name could be a song from the Peaky Blinders soundtrack and The Truth Is Never True is very 60s 1964 UK Beat and End The Day is magnificently moody and melancholic, completely out of kilter with everything else on display here.



Ten Bells is a wonderful example of UK Toytown, a bit like The Flying Pickets doing Psych Pop. Many of you know how much I like Toytown, I hear no better recent example. Then there is the outstanding, It's Drunk And Raining, very Liar's Club and a perfect example of default Vanilla.

You know that you are never gonna hear a bad Vanilla album, but Sideshow is the top of the toppermost. Hooks aplenty, singalong choruses and a deft ability to be different without ever losing sight of the song. Wonderful!



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Bottlecap Mountain - Fib Factory

 

The fifth album from Austin Texas's Bottlecap Mountain and a follow up to the excellent Dismayland which made the IDHAS Best 100 Albums of 2019. You can read the review of that album here. There are still traces of Country / Americana, but Rock dominates the album, wonderfully so.

Stewart Gersman reveals a lyrical excellence that wasn't obvious on Dismayland. The album sounds more than a bit 70s, particularly Tsar Tsar. Captain Boothroyd has a killer riff, again very 70s Pop Rock. Zihuatenejo is like a sort of Calypso funk.



Kool is all 70s New Wave Power Pop, Tin Can Belief is big Southern Rock and Big Dumb is very U2. The Country is still present, but in a much reduced volume. Bottlecap Mountain still do that incredibly well on Loser's Blues and It's Nothing New, but Fib Factory is all about the band's Indie Rock chops.

Just My Memories sounds like a 60's Death Ballad, Gene Pitney springs to mind. Tin Can Belief has a real College Rock vibe with its big chorus. Then there's Mr Mouse. a song about a errrrrrrrrr mouse, but with lots of hidden meaning.



My main take on the album is the strength of the song writing. It is big sounding and beautifully produced, but the lyrics are loud and clear. Those and the killer riffs make this a pleasure to listen to. A band at the top of their game! Highly Recommended.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Ginger Wildheart - The Pessimist's Companion

 



Ginger Wildheart may generate a lot of headlines, the most recent being the self combustion of The Wildhearts, but there has never been any doubt that the man can write and perform a song. The Pessimist's Companion had a very limited release in 2019.

The album gets an all bells and whistles reissue via Little Steven's Wicked Cool. The track order is changed and five new songs added and it remains a splendid example of how Pop Rock can be the most joyous listen when it stops trying to be like everything else.



From the country jingle jangle of Detachment to the Sheer Moodiness of Barbed Wire & Roses. I'd never describe this as being like a Jeff Lynne album, the lyrics are much deeper, the material more varied and a country tinge at times. But at times the vocal does sound more than a little bit Jeffrey.

There are also some splendid piano runs throughout, almost Bruce Hornsby in feel. But the variet is splendid. There Is A House is like a seaside all join in affair and May The Restless Find Peace is a pedal steel led hymn.



It is, however, the big chorus songs that grab you most. The man knows his way around a chorus and the likes of Why Aye (Oh You) which is a bit Gilbert O'Sullivan, Lindisfarne even. prove this. I Love You So Much I'm Leaving is is so damn catchy.

There are two covers present, an inspired version of John Cooper Clarke's I Wanna Be Yours and inessential version of Tom Rush's No Regrets. But all in all, The Pessimist's Companion is a fantastic upbeat listen that deserves to be heard by a much wider audience.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Wednesday, 11 May 2022

The Tender Years - After The Batteries Die

 


First of all, congratulations to The Tender Years for the Bandcamp description of their mini album. I read so many blurbs and the comparisons made, put the album on and recognise none of the comparisons. I listened to the opener, Emerald Lloyd and thought this is very IRS era R.E.M. and lo and behold that was one of the written references.

To be honest, through the rest of the album, the guitar is far more upfront and more twangy at times to keep the comparison going, but the vocal is very Stipe at times. That's not to say that the Minneapolis quartet are no one trick pony. 



Every Death gets a little bit Bluesy and The Witch Boy is a fine example of Indie Rock, very 80s in feel, think a rockier Housemartins. Nightmare Afternoon is all twang and breaks out with a great early Dire Straits like solo.

My Selfish Self is even pacier Indie Rock. The six songs here are a splendid listen. It is nice to listen to something less intense than usual. The riffs grip you and the guitar solos make you stand up and notice. A great listen. I can't wait to hear more from them in the future.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Tamar Berk - Start At The End

 

Start At The End has a real challenge and that is matching its predecessor, The Restless Dreams Of Youth, an album that rightly became a 2021 breakout album and thrilled all who heard it. You can read the I Don't Hear A Single Review here

So the bar is set high and if anything exceeded. There is obviously a lot going on in Berk's head and the caring about the world, dealing with the death of her father and society itself reveals an incredible depth. It would have been easy to bury yourself in woe, but there's little here of that.



There are different directions taken on this follow up, but they split largely in two camps. There is the reflective, almost Aimee Mann like in the way those songs demand your attention. Then there is the Pop Rock, which allows a breakout and provides some splendid sing along moments. 

I'm not sure if there is a Shadow Clues here, but Hoping This Day Won't Kill us comes very close. That is no criticism, because as a whole piece, the album actually betters what has gone before. It is a wonderfully consistent offering that gets better with repeated listens.



Alone Tonight goes all Sheryl Crow, You Already Knew just aches with melancholy and Real Bad Day breaks out into GoGo's pace, a real rock off. Wrong Information is like Enya doing Americana and Alone Tonight may just be the best song that Susanna Hoffs hasn't sung and has a real twang.

Then there is the glorious string arrangement on June Lake, it is almost Baroque, a truly beautiful listen. Lyrically deft and deep, Start At The Emd is an outstanding offering. Tamar Berk may just be the best Female Singer Songwriter around at the moment. I certainly don't hear any better. 



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Sunday, 8 May 2022

Extra Arms - What Is Even Happening Right Now



During March's review of Ryan Allen's excellent solo EP (here) that the excellent Pop on show was very different to his day job and here is that regular work. Extra Arms are a much louder proposition, wonderfully loud.

Starting out as Ryan Allen And His Extra Arms, the direction then was a little more Garage Punk Pop. Since morphing into Extra Arms, a proper band with an established line up, that punkishness has slightly mellowed into great Power Pop.

This is Power Pop at pace though. The songs are more in your face than a traditional Power Pop album, the band rarely come up for air, noisy upstarts in a world of jangling niceness maybe. It all works beautifully, every fist shaking moment.



The songs never lose their melody and are built on massive riffs and big choruses, designed to be played in sweaty venues. There are hints at times of Sugar at times, but it is just hints. Allen has never forgotten his Punk Roots, it is just that the songs have become even more accessible.

The riffs just drill through your head, the vocals are never shouty when it would be easy to be like peers who adopt that mode. A song like Life In A Cube just rocks your socks off and when it breaks out further, it is simply awesome.

I also note the increasing harmonies. What used to be a call and response, at times develops into more vocal play. Every Extra Arms album offers something more than the last. The band develops more each time. Just don't expect any ballads. What Is Even Happening Now is a splendid listen.


Pre-order here for the album's 3 June release and just wait until you hear I Don't Wanna Die on next week's IDHAS 10 Song Mix. I will add a couple more songs on release date and refresh this post.


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Fontanarosa - Are You There?

 


Over to France now and the magnificent Howlin Banana label. Fontanarosa are a quartet from Paris led by Paul Verwaerde and Are You There is as good an example of Indie Pop Rock that you could imagine. It is a beacon in the darkness of what used to be a thriving genre.

For all the music here, the music that my other half tells me I should slim down to the point that I have to now sneak stuff in, I have favourite areas that I reach for constantly. One is Psych Pop, the other is intelligent Indie Guitar Pop. Fontanarosa are the latter. Comparing a band to XTC is maybe the laziest comparison that you can make, but there is lots of that first XTC period when the keyboards were ditched here.




It is the unusual chords and the strangely addictive riffs and choruses that hook you. It shows that you don't need a wall of sound or big anthems to hook people. Intelligence inventive songs win you over every time.

The Indie jangle compares with the best of the late 80s / early 90s of the likes of Madchester Guitar bands that were revealing that everything wasn't about Dance. OH id is the closest to early XTC, even Franz Ferdinand in feel with an absolutely hypnotic riff.




Hold On equals anything on the edges of Brit Pop, the type of music that wasn't hyped, that you had to discover or have recommended. You wouldn't hear its like in HMV or Virgin. Final Distance is a bit like Ray Davies fronting Radiohead. Backgrounds is not a million miles away from The Sugarplastic.

Way In Out is a much darker, another great riff, another song that hooks you. Are You There? is the sound of great Indie with a cleverness to admire, but without ever losing sight of the chorus. It is a great listen and a reminder that you don't have to be loud to be heard. Great stuff!





You can listen to and buy the album here.


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The Toms - Stereo


I'm told that I ignore Power Pop these days. I agree with that only to the point that I don't really cover the "I Love You, You Know I Do, Oh Yes It's True" brigade. I was mentioning on Facebook about the days I would be attending IPO in Liverpool later this month and looking at the line up, my view was largely endorsed.

David Bash is someone undoubtedly linked to all things Power Pop, yet the artist line up is largely great Guitar Pop artists, but how many would you say are indelibly Power Pop. There is a mixture of Indie, Psych Pop, 60s Beat and 70s Pop Rock as well as some incredibly inventive Singer Songwriters. It is called International Pop Overthrow, not International Power Pop Overthrow,



I never ever want to get involved in the "Is It Power Pop?" nonsense. IPO supports great Pop Rock from bands who would like to be superstars, but aren't, but should be. I Don't Hear A Single does the same with the new an under appreciated.

The two most popular reviews over the past 12 months have been albums that I would say are Power Pop. The Toms and The Summer Holiday have been the most popular reviews on IDHAS for months respectively, yet their appeal has been far beyond the genre. Michael Collins is without doubt Power Pop through and through, but Tommy Morolda stretches far wider.



Morolda has branched out into a much wider Indie Pop. Unexpected chord changes, an increased use of keyboards and developed into a much wider Indie Pop area. The melodies are just as strong, the choruses as great, but there is now more in common with The Sun Sawed In 1/2 than 70s New Wave Power Pop.

Stereo is Intelligent Pop of the highest order. Twists and Turns in direction in individual songs, all beautifully produced in a modern way. There is an 80s feel at times in the material, but not the sound. Yet in all this Pop, there is no genre hogging. Pop is the operative word and Stereo is great an example that you will never ear.



A song like Raindance comes across as such a catchy affair, yet the whole three and a half minutes is such an admirably complex affair. Yet I need Somebody is great 70s Pop Rock and I Can't Sleep is more like the Power Pop that The Toms were noted for.

The title track has a real 60s Psych Pop feel updated for the modern age. Atmosphere has an impressive wall of sound, very Spygenius like. Witching Hour Glass Figure mixes Baroque and Pop Rock with twists into almost Toytown. Stereo is incredibly creative and original. A wonderful adventure that shows Pop has no boundaries.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Saturday, 7 May 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 26



More Aural excellence as we reach Volume 26 of the 10 Song Mix. Just over 34 minutes of listening pleasure that demonstrates New Music and the guitar are both alive and well. 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 Summer Holiday - Bad Luck

02 The Confusions - Sunday Mornings

03 Savak - Dealers

04 M Ross Perkins - Mr Marble Eyes (Marbles for His Eyes)

05 Red Hot Shame - X.Exe

06 The Shivas - If I Could Choose

07 Gymnasium - Coast To Coast Companion

08 Amber Run - I Miss You

09 Grave Flowers Bongo Band - Sleepy Eyes

10 Psychedelic Porn Crumpets - Bubblegum Infinity


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 26



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Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Sparks - Balls Deluxe Edition

 

One of the reasons that I avoid band forums is that fans don't see any darkness in a band's career. If you are objective, it is as though you have become blasphemous. I love Sparks, yet I fully understand why many do not get them, in the same way people don't fall for XTC. I'm also not one for going on about albums that I don't like, I'd rather talk about the great.

I have come to realise that Sparks have been a large part of my life. Propaganda was the first album that I bought under my own steam. One of the first live shows that I saw was Sparks at Liverpool Empire on that tour. I was in Paris when the Whomp That Sucker singles became so big. I was in tears when the Mael's returned to the live scene on the Gratuitous Sax Tour, I never thought I would see them live again.

I was in Koln often with work when Balls was released and they were becoming so big there, due to the dance mixes of singles. I'm also a fan of Sparks most when they get weird. Indiscreet, Angst In My Pants, Gratuitous Sax And Senseless Violins and virtually everything after this album. I don't see too many artists as lauded in their 70s, Ian Hunter being another example maybe.

But the duo have released some clunkers. Terminal Jive, Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat, Interior Design and Balls. It was as though Gratuitous Sax had never happened. As I said, I don't want to dwell on what I consider to be poor albums.

There are positives in that this album marks the reissue of most following this. These are much better listens, considerably better. The use of repetition, wit and almost symphonic projects mark them out as one of the most inventive bands around. Almost classical at times. 

I do believe that if Balls hadn't been released you may not have got what followed when it became less about songs and more about soundscapes. If you want to hear Sparks do Europop. go listen to the superb Music That You Can Dance To. That album is outstanding in its inventiveness. On Balls, the songs have little hooks and all sound a bit twee. Even listening back to the album now, there is the sound of nothingness.

More Than A Sex Machine is the one great song here. It's Educational gives a glimpse of what was to come, but most of the rest on show here is mediocre fodder. There are eight bonus tracks added for the completist, none essential. I expect the mail bag to be full, but at least I'm an honest Sparks fan.


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Grave Flowers Bongo Band - Strength Of Spring


 
Strength Of Spring is a second album that is very different to the band's first. It may be the influence of Ty Segall's production, but this is a real noisy Psych blast that isn't quite sure if it wants to stay in that genre or become a Prog masterpiece.

The best example of this Psych Prog mix is the schizophrenic Sleepy Eyes. Gabe Flores has a vocal that is still in Bolan Tyrannosaurus Rex territory, but Bolan would not break out as much as this, nor be so wonderfully inventive nor weird. We are not hearing songs about Pixies here.




Inner Bongolia goes even more Psych and with a real 1967 Tune Out Guitar vibe. At times I'm reminded of a vocal version of Ozric Tentacles. Animal Lord is heavy Space Rock. VATMM is an incredible slab of Psych Pop.Down Man even has hints of 60s Pink Floyd.

The slices of Pedal Steel and even Sax just adds to the heady mix. The Los Angeles six piece have conjured up something that is not for the faint hearted, but is incredibly gripping. This can be a genre that gives you eight minutes when four will do.

Not a bit of that here. 9 songs in 29 minutes allows novices to experience the joy of Psych, a sampler if you like of how enthralling the genre can be. This is a wonderful listen, tackling great guitar music in a way that isn't plank spanking. What a fine listen!




You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Speedfossil - No Anesthesia

 

Speedfossil's third album endorses what a great Pop Rock band that the Boston quartet have become. The band make me think of the UK's Emperor Penguin, a sort of US version that offer up splendid laid back songs that ease the soul.

When they let loose, the Power Pop rings out. particularly on Luckiest Man In The World with its Cars like synth. The Verge and Pieces Of Eight both pick up the pace, yet still rock you gently, although the Guitar breaks out on the latter.



Count Me Out goes all Garage Rock to close the album, a song that will sound brilliant in a sweaty club. The general template though is more Crowded House and Squeeze splendidly so. Livin' The Dream is top notch 60s Beat Pop, maybe even 70s Pop Rock.

There is a very English sound, although Disconnected has a very West Coast Psych jangle. Melody and catch all choruses are the soup of the day and No Anaesthesia excels at both. Beautifully played, this is an album to sit back and enjoy.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Savak - Human Error / Human Delight

 

Brooklyn duo Sohrab Habibion and Michael Jaworski are joined by drummer Matt Schulz for Savak's outstanding fifth album. It sounds like nothing out of Brooklyn, the biggest compliment you can pay it is that it sounds like a compilation album. No two songs sound the same.

No two songs are even in the same genre, although all are Guitar led. The Bass, courtesy of various guests and Drums drive the sound in a way that Power Trios should. The shared vocal duties from Habibion and Jaworski enhance the variety even further.



Where do I begin. Perhaps by urging you to listen to the album, it really is exceptional. Empathy is all Brit Pop, yet Set Apart is outstanding Psych. Recanted (FreeThe Singer) is outstanding 80's Post Punk and what a Bass Line. My Book On Siblings is wonderful 60s Psych Pop.

Baltimore Moon is Mod Pop of the highest order, Oddsmaker is great 70s New Wave Pop Rock. Dealers jangles in a way that Spygenius jangle and Cold Ocean is great Beat Pop. Adolescence Obsolete ventures into Space Rock.



Dumbinance has a tinge of Glasgow Indie 80s and No Blues No Jazz is Pure Glam Rock, handclaps and all and there is even a Roxy like Sax that butts in. I've loved what Savak have been up to previously, but this just wipes the floor with anything around.

If you like your Guitar and admire invention, this is the album for you. There is something for everyone, but as a whole piece, Human Error / Human Delight is a gobsmacking affair. Album Of The Year material. Who says the Guitar is dead. This is stunning!



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Sunday, 1 May 2022

Red Hot Shame - My Satellite

 

Xeff Scolari's Red Hot Shame is an absolute stormer of an album. Pop Rock of the highest quality with an emphasis a little more towards Rock, but with more than a nod towards the more inventive side of Indie. Add in a twist of Psych Pop and a Science Fiction Space feel and you have a top notch affair.

Scolari gathers frequent collaborators that take the album in many directions in which the sheer inventiveness never loses sight of the melody. My Satellite doesn't sound like a North Carolina album in the way you think of Sun and an emphasis on the laidback life. 



It is hard to make comparisons to other bands, but there is a resemblance to Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson's solo work in particular, especially when the album ventures into Prog, The chord changes are amazing and unexpected at times and these just enhance the album.

My Shuttle is the most straight ahead Guitar Rock, song built on an Acoustic base, but Solitude is like a Muse slower number without all the bombastic nonsense. Synchronizing rocks your socks off, yet Exact goes all chirpy street Indie.



You can even clap along to Come On, Rocket and the mouth organ just makes you admire the song more. Little Moon is virtually Americana, but My Satellite could be Ian Anderson fronting Radiohead. X.Eve takes a little while to get going, but what a song it is! Pop Rock excellence with a killer riff.

It is those riffs that grab you most. This type of album is usually more about the solos and the atmosphere than riffs, but here they grab you with their unusualness and become earworms. My Satellite is a great listen.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Saturday, 30 April 2022

31 Reviews In 31 Days In May



April has been a little bit of a right off for I Don't Hear A Single. Only 7 Reviews and a couple of IDHAS 10 Song Mixes are all that has been released to the world. All is fine, but a short explanation is necessary.

I have recently returned to the world of salaried management, something that I'd never thought I'd do. I'd been really happy consulting and doing what I want, when I wanted. But the last couple of years of lockdown and seeing few people, I wanted to get back into the big wide world. I know I can be cranky, but I do like being around people.

This opportunity came up and it was something that I have always wanted to do, it has nothing to do with music, but with animals and although management is quite stressful, bizarrely, I seem to be alright at it. So I am cutting back on some of the outside music writing stuff, concentrating on IDHAS and my small involvement in Big Stir.

I started the new role at the beginning of April and it has took this month to start to get the new venture on the way. Now I can finally get back to here and so May will be a catch up 31 Reviews in 31 Days. There may be a few missing days, but there will also be days with more than one review as well as plenty more content. That starts tomorrow.

I'm not usually one for talking about myself, but more than a few have been wondering where I was and if there was something more to my absence. Not a bit of it! People have also been asking if I will be at IPO Liverpool. I will be for a couple of days and will let people know when as soon as it is sorted. Again I only mention this as people are also asking. So onwards and errrrrrrrrrrrr upwards. See you tomorrow!


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Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Where's Don?

 

No he's not at Duckburg Stadium with the other Donald. He's been really busy with real life work. There's plenty of reviews to do and he promises to get some up before April is out. In the meantime, why not browse this year's reviews thus far?


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Sunday, 17 April 2022

Popboomerang - Marching Out Of Time (2CD)

 

With so much to listen to, I tend to avoid compilations. I am so lovingly bombarded by new music that I just can't fit them in and usually find that I don't learn much that I wasn't aware of. However, I will make an exception for the magnificence that is Popboomerang.

I was one of those who contacted Scott, one of the most passionate and dedicated music people around and offered my thoughts when he called time on the label. Whilst fully understanding his frustration with all the lockdown cancellations, I wouldn't ever want it to end at a dead stop. Surely there was an opportunity for a last hurrah.



Here is that Hurrah, although it isn't quite the last as there is one more release to come that I know Scott has yearned to unleash and that will be the fitting end. A second problem with a double CD compilation is how do you review the album without offending those that you don't mention.

So I urge everyone to go to the Bandcamp site and listen to the whole affair. These 40 songs are like a who's who of the Australian Indie scene and they showcase what a varied range of artists have fallen into Scott's gaze.



Whenever I think of the label, I think of Danny McDonald and he offers up Northern Gaze a real Jangling Power Pop joy. Then Nick Batterham, a real fave of mine provides a very different psychy cover of Teenage Fanclub's Everything Flows.

Bryan Estepa joins Hazey Jane for I'm Going in a big 60's Pop Extravaganza with a splendid twang. Then there is the magical Go-Go Sapien with the melancholic Baroque Pop of Metaphysical Resistance. The scope is shown by the mix of Brilliant Fanzine's One In 10,000 on which I was transported back to early 90's Club Nights.



The Wellingtons are an essential addition with the demo of Soda (You're Gone), New Wave Power Pop at its very best. Living Daisies provide some great Americana with the dual vocal and Georgia Fields offers up great Indie Pop with Snakes And Ladders. 

I've embedded just four songs, 10% of what is on show. This is a compilation that is far more than the sum of its parts, there really is something for everyone. Most importantly, it is a celebration of the whirlwind that is Scott Thurling, the nicest man in Guitar Pop.



You can listen to and buy the album here. The download is Name Your Price, but please show your support to future Scott musical endeavours by paying what you can afford.


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Shaylee - Short-Sighted Security

 

Shaylee's latest album more than builds on the previous two and reveals the full scope of the Portland Oregon multi instrumentalist's range. Elle Archer, for Shaylee is she, offers up a masterful range of styles without ever losing her established cred.

Both the debut, Bring It Out Of Me and the follow up, The Life & Misadventures of Shaylee & Tarantula are great, but far more Indie sounding than this new album, probably due to the production and mastering. The latter had big hints of Power Pop. Both are available at Name Your Price On Bandcamp.



Short-Sighted Security is a much bigger sounding affair and the variety shows an incredible maturity. Lyrically, it is very much about lessons learned, but musically it ventures into many areas. It is as though everything done previously has provided the route to this, both musically and in life.

The stand out song is probably Ophelia, a sassy sounding offering that builds into a psych interlude and then breaks out into a splendid instrumental close. But elsewhere is just as ace and much different. Health is almost Garage Power Pop, Turned Inside us edges towards Americana.



Save Up is a melancholic sounding masterpiece that builds and builds and Please Talk To Me has an incredible Guitar sound that breaks into a massive solo, it is a wonderful listen. Stranded Living Room borders on new age Celtic, think Enya. 

There are big hints of Country that enhance the Guitar Pop and Soft Rock on what is an incredibly adept album. Away from the fact that Archer cannot be described as Indie any longer, the other take is what a guitarist she is. I expected the album to be good, I didn't expect it to be this great. Highly Recommended!



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Saturday, 16 April 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 25



More Aural excellence as we reach Volume 25 of the 10 Song Mix. Almost 34 minutes of listening pleasure that demonstrates New Music is alive and in rude health. 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 Bugs - Old Youth Feeling

02 The Pillbugs - This Is A Wrap

03 Instant Karma - Come Clean

04 Shaylee - Ophelia

05 M Ross Perkins - Wrong Wrong Wrong

06 Monica Queen - I Gave You Love

07 The Welton Shipwreck - January Flowers

08 Bottlecap Mountain - Kool

09 Tucker Bingo - Ce Maux Faux

10 Minor Majority - Meat And Potatoes Metal


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 25



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The Pillbugs - Marigold Something

 

There are a number of inventive bands that have always been on my essential list and sit happily on shelves in plain sight to allow me to pick them out whenever I'm thinking that new music has got a bit boring. I'm thinking of the likes of XTC, Sparks, The Mommyheads and The Pillbugs. 

In the Anything Should Happen days, I wouldn't shut up about The Pillbugs, they are the best example of how Psych Pop can be so melodic and yet so out of the ordinary. I should really ask Mick to catch up with Mark Mikel as a follow up to his Art Into Dust excellent coverage.

Marigold Something has been ready for release for a long time. In 2018 it was noted as ready to release and it has been well worth the wait. Recorded at Dead Moth Studio in Maumee Ohio between 2014 and 2017, there is a lot of Pillbugs to listen to, but the quantity never effects the quality.



Last year, I heard the second half of the album which had been released as Part 2, I thought I have to cover this when I have the complete thing and now I have. It is truly wonderful, a magnificent adventure, if you are put off by the term Psych Pop, don't be because Marigold Something is as great, if not better as any Pop Rock album you could name.

So where to begin? With there being 26 songs (it was always planned to be a double album) it is hard to pick out a favourite as the band run through the full range if their songs and it is expansive. The White album-ish Making Her Music Louder, the Baroque Pop of  Marigold Something. The big 70s Rock of Xenophobia and the Psych Prog of Woman Of No Return. 



All of those songs are as great as each other, but no finer than the rest of the album. Compare those to This Is A Wrap is real 60's, almost Small Faces Pop and September Grey goes all Vaudeville Jazz. Miracles Come (Once In A While) is epic Pop Rock and Under The City Lights may just be the best song here, McCartney-esque at his most Beatle adventurous. 

Eye To Eye goes all Modern Prog, whilst Compromise offers up a Psych Jangle. The Sweet Side is as laid back as they get, Lounge Psych if there is such a thing, yet Strange Imagination could be a Pop song. Mrs Sneed reveals that The Pillbugs can also Plank Spank.



With such a long album, you could expect some filler or it to be thrown together. Not a bit of that here! A couple of shorter Marigold interludes break up the album beautifully. You also sense that every instrument to hand has been used. The track order has been thought out and no two songs sound the same.

The nearest band that I can think of that compares to them is Spygenius and I believe both bands are seriously under appreciated. Marigold Something is a Masterpiece. I've picked four songs out to embed as examples of the quality on display. But you could select any and I urge you to give the album I listen. My favourite band in my favourite genre.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Bugs - Cooties

 

Brisbane's Bugs return for their third album and this is the biggest sounding offering yet. A lot of criticism is written about Power Pop, plenty by me, but there is no better thing when a band gets it right. Bugs are a trio who are right on key, although I suspect they have rarely, if ever, considered themselves as Power Pop. The genre really does need youth though and here it is.

There is also plenty here for those who like the melodic side of Pop Punk and also Indie Guitar Pop fans will find much to enjoy. These are songs delivered loudly and at pace with just a two song slowdown in the middle. I'd love to hear this lot live. 



The trio are at their best when they are straight ahead, Old Youth Feeling and Bridge being the best examples. But a song like Diamond is wonderfully anthemic, very Australian and more than a little Pop Punk. In The Middle even gets a little Rap Rock. 

Coming To Me gets all College Indie Grunge without ever losing sight of the chorus. Alone Again is one of the slower numbers still has a great chorus. Decisions, Commitments & Plans is a little mawkish on the verses but cannot resist breaking out.



Cooties is a real up and at 'em album, splendidly so. There is nothing complicated in what the band do, but it is done so well on a what is a fine production. This Big Sound brings out the best in what they do in that they are not trying to educate you, they just want to get your limbs moving.

Bugs certainly deserve to break out from Australia into Europe and more relevantly the States. I suspect it is gonna take the writers such as I and the Radio guys to get the word out, so over to them. It is a long time since I've been reactivated to great Power Pop, well done Bugs! Cooties is top notch.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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M Ross Perkins - E Pluribus M Ross

 

The second (no "sophomore" allowed) album from Dayton Ohio's M Ross Perkins is a hark back to the classic Pop of the late 60s and early 70s. Perkins has an ability to make verses as catchy as the choruses, a real rarity as few do both.

Before we get to the music, the album is a testament to how good Home Recording can be. I hear a lot of home recorded stuff and it really is the good, the bad and the ugly. This isn't a criticism of some as you can be limited to the equipment and software you are using. The usual problem is the mastering which means the volume is way too low. Here is an example that could easily have been recorded in a professional recording studio. 

E Pluribus M Ross is a little GospelbeacH in places, but where it excels is in the quality of the song writing and in particular lyrically. A song like This One is a great west coast laidback pop rock affair, but the catchiness and unusual lyrics raise it far above the ordinary.



Tired Of Me has a wonderful jangle and is again as catchy as catchy can be. Mr Marble Eyes (Marbles For His Eyes) is exceptional 60's, almost Toytown, Psych Pop. It's Your Boy something that could be a little twee becomes a superb cross somewhere between Nilsson and Gilbert O'Sullivan. 

Butterscotch Revue is as great an example of what makes 70s Pop Rock so adorable and then there's Pinball Blonde which is a splendid venture into 60's Beat Psych Pop, another superb listen. Venti Gasp Inhale gets even more trippy, jangly Byrds like Psych, whilst underling the strength of Perkins's vocal.

The New American Laureate is another example of the song writing strength, a great Pop song with an ace country twang. Even the one minute long instrumental, The Clock Reads 60 Seconds From is inventive, a sort of cinematic intermission.



The closer, Funeral Of A Satellite is a brooding masterpiece. Again there are reminders of Nilsson whilst instrumentally it is very White Album. The song builds and builds, containing so much into just two minutes. Simply magnificent.

There isn't one mediocre moment amongst these 12 Tracks. I could embed any of the 12 songs, but as usual I stick to three that may vary from your own favourites. I urge you to listen to the whole album. Perkins is a lyrical genius and although it is only April, this is Album Of The Year material.



You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about M Ross Perkins here.


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Monforte & Durango - Talismania

 


I've had Talismania on repeat for the past week and the only regret that I haven't heard it earlier. Browsing around the internet, it would appear that all bar one have also had it pass them by. Whereas we normally concentrate on the new, the album was released in 2020 and seems to have had a re-release for the streaming sites last year. 

Recorded in Madrid by Spaniards Javier Monforte and Cybil Durango, this is an absolute gem. It is hard to label it, essentially Pop Rock, but with plenty of diversions into both Prog Pop and Psych Pop. It is beautifully arranged and produced affair with plenty of surprises.



The nearest comparison could be the Alan Parsons Project, if so it would be from their mega-selling days, but there is far far more to Talismania than that. The songs are far more varied and step in too many directions to be likened to just that.

Three songs sum up how varied this album is. Meet Me On The Windfields is very Deceptive Bends era 10CC until the Psych solo ending, Pale Withered Flowers is fantastic melodic 70s Pop Rock , yet Far Leys Tamworth-In-Arden is all Psych Chant with its Sitar and Bongos.



Bloomsday is Celtic, Days Of Gray is bang in Big Big Train territory as is The Smiling Hippie. The Raven And The Mare is laid back breezy melancholic lounge. The Song Of Yore has a symphonic soundscape that you just melt away in. Yet, A Banksy Moon goes all Brit Pop.

It is a long time that I've been so surprised by the quality of an album. I did suspect it might be something special when I first looked at the album cover, but I've often been disappointed when listening to previous examples of this. Talismania is an exceptional offering, I absolutely love it.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Monday, 4 April 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 24



Technical difficulties have meant a delay to the return of the Audio Extravaganza, so we move on to the next IDHAS 10 Song Mix. Volume 24 features our 10 favourite songs this week and is an absolute cracker. 34 minutes of joy!

The track order is compiled by what we think makes the mix flow, not by Track 1 necessarily being the favourite. All ten songs are wonderful, 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 Nick Piunti And The Complicated Men - Trying Too Hard

02 The Moneygoround - Be Nice To Everyone You Meet

03 The Hanging Stars - Black Light Night

04 Emperor Penguin - On The Motorway

05 Jay Byham - I Can't Take It Anymore

06 Papercuts - Palm Sunday

07 Squiggles - We Only Came Here For Your Hearts

08 Blunt Bangs - She's Gone

09 The High Water Marks - The Origins Of Names

10 Alex Carpani -Starless


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 24



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Saturday, 2 April 2022

Papa Schmapa - Where Are You Now

 

Papa Schmapa follow up the highly rated Bela Mystic Music which you can read the review on here. Again the vocals are shared with Elysia Cristantello, although this time round songwriter Joe DelVecchio takes the majority of vocals. The difference in the two voices allows the material to become even more diverse.

I likened Christantello to Jacqui Abbott in my previous review and that comparison is just as pertinent here. Her almost Country voice aches in a Stevie Nicks way on You Told Me and becomes a little Emmylou on Keep This All In Mind.




The joint vocals on Come Bad Days blend beautifully and are aided by a wonderful Guitar Solo from Dave Profeta. With DelVecchio on lead vocal, the direction casts its net far wider. The Classic West Coast Rock of Warm is spot on and Fly Away is wonderful Lounge schmooze.

Where Are You Now builds and builds mixing a Rhythm And Blues riff with a great 70s Pop Rock feel. Love On The Line is a mix of Rock n Roll and Power Pop at a far greater pace than previous and still there is time for another Rock solo.



Love Reaction has an acoustic jangle that hooks you and It's All Over Tonight has big hints of Glam Rock. There is also an alternate version of You Told Me with a DelVecchio vocal that turns the song into more of a singer songwriter troubadour affair.

Both versions show of the respective strengths of both vocalist. Where Are You Now does sound very American, but it is many miles away from New York, at times more West Coast or Texan. It is a beautifully produced affair and a cracking listen.




You can listen to the album here. The album is available from the likes of Amazon here and available on the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play. 

CDs can be ordered at joedelvecchio9@yahoo.com


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