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Monday 28 February 2022

March Will Be A Review A Day Month


We normally only do this in October, but February has been a month of constant interruptions. So we will catch up with 31 daily reviews in March. I'm excited already! Well excited is too strong a word. Content maybe? 


Sunday 27 February 2022

The Supernaturals - It Doesn't Matter Anymore Expanded Edition (With 19 Bonus Tracks)


Brit Pop was never really a movement, it was the Press telling us it was. It was disparate and encompassed many styles, the common factor was that it marked the return of bands and in particular, the Guitar. It also revived the live scene and people attending Gigs, particularly College gigs. It was never really about Blur v Oasis, the latter being treadmill Rock, the former raiding the XTC cupboard, particularly The Great Escape which was more Black Sea 2. Nor was it about Pulp v Suede, as interesting as Jarvis was and how ever Bowie Anderson and Ronson Butler tried to explain where The Spiders actually were now.

It was also very retro. Fawning to The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Who and of course, The Beatles. I remember writing that the main benefit of Oasis was that they were introducing The Beatles to a new generation. Paul Weller even forgot that he was Curtis Mayfield and became Steve Marriott. As with any movement, the more interesting stuff was much farther from the centre. In Brit Pop's case, it was the Guitar Pop that was most intriguing and even that scene had lesser bands getting more attention than the more worthy. For every great Pop Rock band such as Dodgy, there was the underwhelming and overrated The Bluetones.

For our generation, Brit Pop was also the last occasion that FM Radio meant something. Playlisting was much less, plus the TV Shows all wanted bands on, so both provided a much wider audience and a much wider field. These were of course, pre Internet days and so you bought magazines to read about these bands and Record Collector with its many ads provided direction on where to buy. This was also the last great period for the Record Shops and the CD prices reflected this. All this nostalgia has meant that The Supernaturals haven't been mentioned until the fourth paragraph.

The Supernaturals were (and still are) a fantastic band. Guitar Pop at its best, big choruses, great riffs, melodic solos, lyrical wit and one hell of a front man in James McColl. One of the nicest guys around and a voice that brought a Paul Heaton like pleasantness to proceedings. It Doesn't Matter Anymore was the band's debut album, released in 1997, although both Smile and Lazy Lover had been trailed as singles the year before. The quality of the 12 songs is admirable. There isn't a duff song here. Many will know Smile from the TV adverts and The Day Before Yesterday's Man, one of my favourite songs ever, marked the peak of their TV appearances.

It is hard to pick out any song as the standout, the album really is that great, but the Singles are a great place to start and four of the songs were released as such. It is also a sign of the times that all of the 19 Bonus Tracks were studio recordings. No live padding out here, as great as a live act that The Supernaturals are. Brontosaurus is a cover, a really unusual slowed down version of The Move classic, but most are originals. Two part, three track CD Singles enabled this wealth of material.

The band headed a list of splendid, not appreciated enough, bands such as Octopus, Superstar and Straw. There will be moaners about this being a Digital only release. I certainly don't subscribe to the Flat Earth like nonsense that an album isn't an album unless it has a physical release. The original album can still be bought on CD cheaply online from many of the numerous bazaars. The artist still gets paid for a download. So these people who buy one album for every 20 they listen to on Spotify should also remember that a play or a like is not a purchase in reality. It Doesn't Matter Anymore remains one of the best albums of the 90s and high up in any decade. The extra stuff just underlines how prolific and talented The Supernaturals were in that short period.


The Sun Sawed In 1/2 - Before The Fall


In my review of Sirens, I explained that the The Sun Sawed In 1/2 were never afraid to take chances and that that offering was more Modern Pop than their usual habitat. Well now we have the third and final instalment of the trilogy and here they are more in expected territory.

These releases are classed as EPs, but are much closer to many album releases at 25 minutes plus and these six songs cover the full scope of Pop Rock with both originality and familiarity. Hooks aplenty and big choruses are the order of the day.

The are plenty of twists and turns, but are all are in a much narrower remit than the first two of the series as though the band wanted to show that they could still write straight ahead commercial Pop. Twist Of Lemon is wonderful and the most straight ahead of the presentation, being the closest to Power Pop.

However, it is the deviations that interest most and Call For A Good Time has so much going on. Changes of tempo mixed with Brass and Rock Guitar that never lose site of the sheer catchiness of the song. It is a wonderful song.

The title track is a big ballad, a slowed down joy whilst Too High Strung is all big Orbison like twang Pop Rock with a massive catch all chorus. Falling In Slow Motion is the biggest arrangement, particularly Vocal wise. A Better Place sounds like a big 60s Studio number with Psych and Country instrumental in and outs.

There is no doubt that this is the most accessible and straight ahead release of the trilogy. However, across all three you are reminded of just how inventive the band are. There are so many completed ideas and original takes that, in my mind, The Sun Sawed In 1/2 have many peers, but no betters.

You can listen and buy Sirens and all three releases here.


The Minders - Psychedelic Blacktop


It has been six years since Into The River and in what is resembling a dismal worldwide 2022. I can think of no band better to build the spirits than the Portland Oregon quintet. If ever an outfit explained what I Don't Hear A Single is about, it is The Minders.

Essentially Pop Rock, they combine elements of Folk, Psychedelia, Power Pop, Americana, Baroque Pop, Indie Rock and much more. So many directions can be confusing, but everything they do is grounded and based on a melody that never loses sight of the song itself.

Magic Anorak is a great example of what they do. A song that is so damn catchy and jaunty, built around a great Brass, almost Dexys like arrangement. It is a thing of great beauty with unexpected instruments breaking in and out. 

Compare that to the 60s Folk of You Call To Me and the classic Pop Rock of Let's Go Driving and you realise the sheer scope of what the band have in their armoury. Listen! The Bugle Calls mixes 80's synth with 60's Psych Pop to reveal an absolute gem of a listen. 

Detective Of Crime goes all Indie whilst still giving 70s glances, whilst Blacktop is an instrumental cross between Psych and Peter Green-esque Rock. These Days stands equal to anything from the Pop Rock revival of the second half of the 90s.

Then there is the opener, Home, which sets the tone with its pure quality. In truth, Psychedelic Blacktop sounds more reserved than previous adventures. There is a laidback quality that just charms you. How I've missed The Minders. Highly Recommended!

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


Thursday 24 February 2022

Daryl Bean - Mr. Strangelove EP


It has been a while since I did an Extended Play post and there reveals a weakness on I Don't Hear A Single. Albums obviously get reviewed and singles have the IDHAS 10 Song Mix and Audio Extravaganza to help them along, but EPs seemed to get caught in between.

So I thought that I'd try and remedy that by getting some EP Reviews included in the stand alone stuff. It will mean more reviews, but these will be shorter in length due to the format. So we begin with Brighton, Michigan's Daryl Bean. 

This four song affair is a splendid Pop Rock affair. Melodic, chorus led and easy to like, the only problem that I have is that four songs isn't nearly enough. You are definitely left wanting more and hopefully the future will accommodate that.

The opener, Keeping Me Alive, is not a million miles from modern day Squeeze. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a paean to Lady Fleabag herself. A great synth run enhances the earworm of a chorus. Be Careful heads in a far more reflective direction, very West Coast Pop Rock, even Explorers Club in feel.

The closer, Niagara Falls feels more 70s, think Andrew Gold or Billy Swan, very American and all the better for it. All four songs are feel good laid back fayre with tunefulness at their heart. Mr Strangelove is a cracking EP, I can't wait to hear more from Bean.

You can listen to and buy the EP here.


El Camino Acid - Sunset Motel


Sunset Motel is the second album from the Columbus Ohio quartet and I have to thank Jeff Shelton for pointing me in the right direction. They inhabit Pop Rock territory, but with the emphasis on Rock. There are certainly hints of Garage Rock, but they never lose the melody.

There is a sleazy side to the vocals that would enable them to raise the catchiness count at a label such as Rumbar. Songs are built around killer riffs that just don't let go, but the material offers enough variety to appeal to a mass audience.

When they solo, they really let loose, take for instance Can't Afford To Be Like This which lets rip not once, but twice. The guitar sound on Mirror Mirror is very Thin Lizzy, but the song edges more towards The Killers. Fight For It has a great twang to accompany a fine vocal drawl.

There are also Power Pop hints on Why So Shy and in particular, Start Again which is pure Merseybeat. Hold You In is a rare love song which comes across as very Lou Reed, yet Don't Wanna Lose You is very American Graffiti in feel.

Change The Banker is a fine slab of Garage Rock. Get Along is a great example of what they do with its almost Guns N Roses Guitar intro and riff. But slower moments such as the poptastic Somebody Like You are equally appealing.

The songs are a little loose, but engagingly so. The Riffs are worth the admission alone and the sleazy feel of it all really grips you. All in all, there is so much to like here. The album could have easily descended into shouty overload. This happens too often with this type of album. It is to El Camino's credit that it doesn't and that makes the album highly recommended.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about the band here. You can follow them on their instagram account at @elcaminoacid.


The Ophelias - Bare Bodkin (By Mick Dillingham)

The Ophelias were a San Francisco based Psychedelic Rock band of great melodic beauty and mind twisting depths. Built around the unmistakable creative talents of Leslie Medford with his confoundingly fabulous voice and strange and majestic songs to dazzle and delight. 

Add to this, by the second album, the fully unleashed guitar genius of David Immergluck dancing truly unfettered in the remarkable musical playground Medford presented. No wonder the band were much cherished in the vibrant local scene at that time. 

Three essential albums and they were gone, fading into the mists of time, cherished and adored only by the very few lucky enough to stumble across the genius music left so carelessly behind. Medford disappeared and with their albums all long deleted and never reissued they became one of the truly great lost bands of that long gone era.  

But then a few years back, out of nowhere, Medford returned in his new role as curator to the band’s precious musical legacy. After all these years, The Ophelias, who we had started to think were just this perfect imaginary band we had made up, became real once more.  With a Bandcamp page overflowing with all of their released output and a whole lot of rare and unreleased treasures from the archives to delight us all.  

Bare Bodkin is the first physical release of this joyous return and what a delightful release it is.   A fifteen track compendium enhanced with a sprinkling of previously unheard gems It is released on Bruce Licher’s above and beyond, California based Independent Project Records label. 

The collection comes housed in a stunning fold out 4x5 cover along with a lovely history of booklet and postcards.  It’s a prestigious and superbly crafted item that more than does justice to the almost mythical music contained within. Highly recommended! .........................

You kind find out more about Bare Bodkin and buy the album here. You can find out more about the Independent Project Records label here. You can listen to and buy The Ophelias Back Catalogue here.

You can also read Mick's big piece on The Ophelias from 2018 here. In that article, Lesley Medford gives his reasoning behind the Bare Bodkin release.


Wednesday 23 February 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 20

After intimating that the IDHAS Audio Extravaganza was returning, I can confirm that it will in March. Our intention was that it would replace the 10 Song Mix. However, so many of you have been in touch to say that you like the short and sharp delivery of the Mix despite it being more rough and ready than the Extravaganza. 

So both will run side by side. Two 10 Song Mixes and One Audio Extravaganza each month. So here is Number 20 of the 10 Songs Mix.  A little shorter than usual at just over 30 minutes which is due to the song selection which we hope you enjoy as much as usual.

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 Donaher - For Your Love

02 Ex Norwegian - Teen Bakery

03 Amoeba Teen - January

04 Bart Davenport - Holograms

05 Bigger - Freaky Face

06 Vanilla - It's Drunk and I'm Raining

07 Cheap Star - Holding On

08 Scott Robertson - When All Your Life is Gone

09 Izakman - Waiting For Zoe

10 Quaint Delusions - You Haven't Touched Your Supper

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 20


Ex Norwegian - Spook Du Jour


It is no secret that I consider Ex Norwegian to be one of the best bands of the past 15 years. Roger Houdaille says that the albums never turn out how he originally envisaged them. That may be, but every one of them hits the spot consistently.

The band skirts the area between Psych and Guitar Pop taking in all between. No Sleep remains my favourite album of the past 10 years and whereas that album essentially concentrated more on the Guitar Pop side, Spook Du Jour reveals far more of their palette. 

If it is the Pop Rock that you love most that is catered for from the very off with the splendid Teen Bakery. Vicious Cycles is another poptastic joy with a killer riff. Both are aided by the magnificent For Your Conveniences with all its 80s sounding instrumentation mixed with Glam overtones.

AirLash is all jaunt, yet Crazy Paving is multi coloured Psych Pop whilst remaining wonderfully tweet. Ciancia is superb Baroque Pop, yet Burn It seems so simple a song, but the instruments come from everywhere unexpectedly. 

Save For No Future is built around a big Pop Rock 70s Riff, then there is Paging Lisa, an ace 60s adventure, almost Toybox at times, but you sense that a big guitar solo is desperate to get out and nearly does at the end. There are really so many ideas.

Center Mario closes the album. You could call it Psych, but it is far more than that. It is chaotic and weird and fantastic. All this variance typically sums up Ex Norwegian. I can think of no other current band that is so inventive. Particularly suited to the physical purchase of your choice, this lot never ever disappoint. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also find out more about the band and buy the album here. There are also some Physical Ex Norwegian bargains to be had here.

Bigger - Les Myosotis


I think followers of IDHAS have worked out long ago that our remit is not just about crashing guitars. As we have progressed, it has become far more about a complete basket of tastes and we've been dying to tell you about Bigger and now that the debut album is out, that time is now.

Bigger are incredibly inventive. A quartet consisting of four from France, originating from all over the country and a magnetic Irish frontman in Kevin Twomey. The album was recorded in Dresden and Manchester and all of these cosmopolitan influences blend into one hell of an interesting album.

Positioning them isn't easy, there is a definite Indie feel to them, dark at times, but then the Pop will just spring out, particularly with Freaky Face which is very Liverpool 80s and the darker material edges at times towards the Bunnymen, another reference to the city.

I've seen references to Nick Cave and I have to say that I don't see that all thankfully. Cave is definitely one cup of tea is never enough, but two is one too many sort of way. The magnificent, broody, meandering closer, Brother, shows how diverse the band are. It is simply haunting.

Vampire Thirst is almost Vaudevillian, Infectious Joker is 60s Farfisa atmospheric with a hypnotic pop chorus. Even With Lies has that French feel, but masked in 60's UK Beat Pop. The title track is a massive soundscape that instrumentally is just perfect. There is so much going on in the song.

Special mention has to be made of The Game. Unlike the songs that surround it, it is a heartfelt ballad, beautifully sung and wonderfully melancholic. Then halfway through you get a surprisingly big chorus. It is an enthralling almost 7 minutes. The whole album is a revelation. The album may not be something you would listen to ordinarily, but I'd never lead you a bum steer. Les Myosotis is an absolute gem of an album.

You can buy the album and find out more about Bigger here. It is also available to listen to and buy everywhere.


Sunday 13 February 2022

Glowbox - Your Call Is Very Important To Us


Just before I started the Best of 2021, I posted about 10 wonderful albums that wouldn't appear because I'd run out of Review time. I did say that I'd get around to reviews and here's the first. Putting on my best Patrick Swayze voice, no one should put Glowbox in a corner.

People occasionally ask what Pop Rock is. I suppose it consists of albums that branch out away from the Power Pop template, slightly noisier affairs without ever venturing into plank spanking, not afraid of Guitar solos, but ensuring they fit in with the song. Maybe bordering on AOR without the banality and having the ability and versatility to branch into other genres.

That description just about sums up this Boston quartet. There's a lot of Guitar on show here, but none of it is in your face, all of it is wonderfully melodic, restrained even and the Guitar Solos never outstay their welcome, splendid though they are. 

If others pick up on the glory of Your Call Is Very Important To Us, I expect some slightly lazy Cheap Trick comparisons and you can find them if you search hard enough, but Glowbox are less shouty and far more varied. They inhabit a world somewhere between the UK Pop Rock of the late 70's, even a bit Brit Pop and a more West Coast Jangle Rock.

That Jangle is particularly rife on Don't Give Up On Me. but elsewhere Comfort Zone is straight ahead Not Lame Territory. Lonely Little World borders on West Coast Country Rock, yet Here We Go Again has more than a hint of Psych Pop.

Here are 10 songs that are all as chipper and joyful as each other. Special Mention though should be given to the closer, Test Of Time, the nearest the band get to Power Pop and the storming Jazz Town which is a killer of a song. Glowbox have fashioned up a melodic gem of an album. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Friday 4 February 2022

Review Links On Spotify

I dislike rules and regulations from Reviewers, particularly ones that make them seem more important than the musicians, but I do have a request. It is about Spotify links and nothing at all to do with the current hubbub around the company. 

I don't have or use Spotify, nor Apple Music. I understand that people do and have no problem with that. I asked on I Don't Hear A Single could links for potential reviews or plays be sent in some other way, preferably download so that I can choose when I want to listen away from the computer. 

I get over 200 emails a day and try to listen to everything, but Spotify links are a problem. The link will not take you anywhere to be able to listen to the song apart from having a Spotify account.

Up until now, I have sent emails, largely to PR People, asking could I  be sent the music via a different format. These replies usually do not get answered. Now I just don't have the time to keep sending these emails. 

Therefore, I can no longer spend time sending these emails and sadly can't guarantee that music sent only as a Spotify link will get listened to. If Spotify were more user friendly listening wise without the whole account rigmarole, I could avoid this. 

I understand that people will naturally assume that I have and use Spotify. I also know that PR companies send out Blanket emails, but I don't understand why many don't give different options to listen. My internet bandwidth is very low here, due to where I live, so I do hope people understand why I have to do this.