Thursday, 31 March 2022
Tuesday, 29 March 2022
I came across Jay Byham as one half of the duo, Jay Bird and Haley Bee and was really impressed with their debut EP, Take Flight in 2017. Jay and Haley are currently working on a full length follow up, but in the meantime Jay has hooked up with most of Smash Palace for his own debut EP.
Stephen Butler Co-writes, produces and plays Lead Guitar on the EP whilst Glen Maragos and David Uosikkinen are on Bass and Drums respectively. The Smash Palace involvement is most prevalent on the two faster numbers when the Rhythm Section let go most. Butler's Guitar is an absolute revelation across the EP.
Byham walks a line that is largely heading for Folk Pop, think of Al Stewart and Cat Stevens, but also more recent Singer Songwriters. For instance, this EP knocks spots of the lauded David Gray. Figure It Out As We Go is wonderfully melodic and enhanced by the Organ and Guitar with a surprise Beatles like ending.
The Only One is similarly gentle and laid back, almost a torch Ballad, again beautifully played. I Can't Take It Anymore races along with a fine twang and slightly Psych Pop lead and just wait for the solo. Just A Matter Of Time rocks even more and probably just nicks it as the best song here. It is a crackerjack of a song.
Byham's vocal may be gentle, but it rightly dominates the album. I knew the slower songs would be ace, but the additional pace caught me by surprise and that's what makes this such a fine EP. Chorus led, beautifully sung and expertly produced, this is top notch.
You can listen to and buy the EP here.
Monday, 28 March 2022
As we get towards the end of March, Review wise, I'd like to mainly concentrate on albums that I've been meaning to tell you about for a while and it will be no surprise to those that know me that The Shivas are on this list. This is exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me most.
The Portland Oregon quartet give the game away with the album cover. They do appear to live somewhere between 1967 and 1971. This Psych Pop has become an incredibly crowded market in recent times and so you have to be exceptional to rise above the crowd.
The Shivas are just that and add a fantastic Live reputation to the mix, a rarity in the genre. They master a gentler Psych, this isn't backward Guitars and overdubs. The songs generally hit a vibe and stick with it, usually with a melodic singalong chorus. If I Could Choose is a great example.
This is a template that you could easily let joyfully wash over you, but it is the alternate routes that keep you interested. For instance, Don't Go is 60s Girl Band and My Baby Don't just rocks and races along. Rock Me Baby even moves a decade and is pure Glam Rock.
So Cold is weeping West Coast Rock, Mamas and Papas even. Undone could be something that was recorded around the time of Madchester. Special mention goes to Feels So Bad, a monster rock out with a sort of shoegaze vocal.
The Shivas are a band that know what they like, but want to mix that up with ventures into other areas and times. They have that ability and flexibility and you can imagine them being as comfortable with a Power Pop song as this wonderful Psych. This is a splendid album from a splendid band at the top of their game.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
You dare not appear to be adopted by Punk Sites and then move on / grow up / branch out. If you do, you will get ignored or more usually a bitter slating review. It happens regularly. I'm not quite sure what Punk is these days. The bands that get labelled as such seem to me to be nearer to Power Pop or Pop Rock.
I've said this quite often about Punk Pop. As bands mature, the shoutiness subsides and the melody takes over. Green Day are mainstream, yet there are many who have never forgiven them for being so. I think this applies to Los Angeles's Jeff Berman.
Having said that, with Divided Heaven, Berman does seem to have moved far away from his roots. I personally have no problem at all with this. I'd only call out a bad album and Oblivion in no way is that. It is however the album is a little schizophrenic.
When the pace is fast, the songs are splendid Pop Rock. When they slow down, they become a sort of mawkish AOR and the lyrics are so down, almost heartbroken. Some of these slower songs work well. Panic has a great Country Twang and Oblivion has some wonderful Guitar on it.
Reckoning goes all Celtic in a Big Country way. That's Fields Of Fire Big Country not big hat and a horse. Baby In The Band is Bluesy, but still a bit whiny. Yet the faster Burn Me and Beginning Of The End are splendid Guitar Pop.
Oblivion has a big impressive production and only a philistine would not admire the Guitar playing. I don't criticise the ballads as an aged rocker, one or two is fine. But there are just too many here and you just wish the band would let loose more often.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Sunday, 27 March 2022
I don't usually go so early with reviews as Heart Inside Your Head is not released until 20 May, But the album is so good that I wanted to put this out there. Only two tracks are available to embed at present, so I will revisit the review nearer the release time.
Nick Piunti has a superb back catalogue that is anchored in ace Power Pop. The template has been so popular and beautifully done, but I've always wanted Piunti to branch out a little, rock it up further if you like. This is that album.
I'm not sure if it is due to being locked down for two years or The Complicated Men becoming more of a unit, but this is wonderful Pop Rock with the leaning more towards Rock and it really works. There is an obvious crunch that just grips you.
The Guitar is well up in the mix, the riffs are giant and the Guitar solos are rocktastic. There's also the addition of keyboards that don't lighten the sound, but expand it. Take for instance I Want Everything. Under normal circumstances this would be one of the Ballads that Piunti does so well, here it is a revelation.
A massive Rock riff opens the song and haunts the background throughout. The addition of piano and Female Backing Vocals expands the sound into something Stadium Rock. This is the Nick Piunti of 2022 and I love it.
Trying Too Hard continues that vibe with an enormous background Jangle and a rip roaring melodic solo. Keys To Your Heart endorses his reputation as a great chorus writer and the splendid closer Gloves Come off is a meandering melancholic joy.
Fans of the Power Pop need not worry, there are still more than hints of what Piunti is known for on My Mind (Plays Tricks On Me) and Slave To It. But the progression is more than apparent, One Of The Boyz reveals a bitter lyric matched to a wonderful Pilot like Riff.
Heart Inside Your Head sound like a proper band album. The grit stretches and livens up the typically well written and melodic selection of songs. Heart Inside Your Head is a revelation and the reason why I love and drift back to Pop Rock. Highly Recommended.
I don't think that I've ever reviewed a band from Prince Edward Island, but any band led by Dennis Ellsworth is gonna be worth its salt and these five Canadians have released a splendid album. Essentially gentle and anchored in a gentle Americana vibe, but when it expands, many more influences are revealed.
There's a wonderful keyboard vibe at times that is very 60s that comes in expectedly at times. It is these Pop moments that make the album so vital. Wait And See comes across as, more than bit, Del Amitri. She's In Love is a beautifully sung West Coast gentle Jangle and further delights await you.
Girl In My Head has a great Orbison Twang whilst Very Cherry is a wonderful West Coast Pop Rock, almost Power Pop. The stand out song is Stupid Fight which begins with a killer hook, Petty-esque in feel. However, the opener Be Nice To Everyone You Meet runs it close.
That opener has a slightly Psychedelic vibe and a hypnotic drawl. It is an unusual inventive opener, unlike anything that follows it. There's also a fine instrumental, Pineapple Shirt, which you can imagine being played on an Hawaiian Beach.
The default is a gentle, at times acoustic, feel with a Country feel, but Cruisin' And Swingin' is prone to jangle and the songs are well constructed without ever feeling the need to pick up the pace. The album is a soothing easy listen and you should sit back and let the mood wash over you.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Saturday, 26 March 2022
I'm in the frustrating position again of hearing a splendid album, but being unable to tell you much about the artist/s with nowhere to direct you on how to buy the album. Remember that I don't use the likes of Spotify or Apple Music. I am however on the case.
The Other Side is a wonderful listen, Pop Rock at its very best. Vocal wise it is a little Bolan-esque and certainly reminds me of Simon Eugene from Out Of My Hair, particularly on a song like the excellent Escape which edges towards Psych Pop.
Ants On An Orange is another left field affair, very 60s, but a modern sounding Toytown and very Marc Bolan in tone. Winter is Coming is great Pop Rock, a little bit Cockney Rebel, a little Glam Rock. Indeed the Glam feel and sound is very Seventies.
However the production and arrangements have far more depth than that era and lyrically it is far more interesting than the I Love You, Yes I Do rubbish of the time. The Guitar solo on Dog Can't Go is riveting and the Guitar dominates the album.
Winter Is Coming contains another hypnotic solo, Kingdom Of Ice edges toward Prog Pop> Just A Dream is a song that would be at home in the quirkier end of Brit Pop. Indeed the whole album could be from that time. Something that would have been critically lauded but sold little.
The big offering is the magnificent The Other Side which also warrants a reprise closer. A big production, a wonderful Roxy Music like Bass Line and twinkling Jetsons like keyboard. The only time the Guitar is rested. The Other Side is a superb album and I will update this review as I get further info.
You can listen to the album here.
The Hanging Stars have released their fourth album. You'd still expect them to be from the West Coast Of America rather than Walthamstow, but there are marked changes here. The band have quite a reputation in Americana circles, but there is much less of that here.
I'm relieved really because ever since Mumford And Sons, there has been an abundance of people wanting to be linked to Americana to the point where it has lost its soul and appeal. More than wearing a big hat and looking earnest and rustic is needed.
Not that I'd ever accuse The Hanging Stars of that. Their previous albums have been great, but it is hard to separate a band from the pretenders that surround it. Hollow Heart is far more West Coast Gram Parsons, even more modern day Teenage Fanclub and for that there is a wide wide fanbase that will adore the album.
Weep And Whisper shows that you can still use a steel guitar and not be derivative. It is a lovely gentle affair and that description can be made across most of the album. Black Night Life is built on a great Guitar Riff and Hollow Eyes, Hollow Heart edges more towards Psychedelic Folk.
You'd expect a title track like Radio On to be Guitar Pop, it isn't. Instead it is a classic slice of Scots Country Rock, think Dropkick. Rainbows is a fine brooding campfire song. Red Autumn Leaf has Tom Petty overtones with a splendid keyboard riff.
I Don't Want To Feel So Bad Anymore is wonderfully Jangly, again with a hint of Psych Pop in the Guitar Run. You're So Free goes even further into Psych and this direction is really the most interesting departure. Hollow Heart is like an easy listening Comfy Chair and there is a lot to be liked in that.
You can listen to and buy the album here. The physical album is available everywhere. Please try and support an Indie Establishment when you buy.
The self titled debut from Texas Trio Melon Soda is an absolute joy. Essentially Indie Guitar but far far more than that. There is no doubt that vocally this is an American album, but it has far more common with the best of British.
Have no doubt that these three are a Power Trio and as with all great Power Trios there is an ability to stretch themselves into unexpected areas. At one moment they sound like Franz Ferdinand, the next Porcupine Tree.
The rhythm section dominate the album with a back beat that just grips you. Songs are based on riffs rather than massive solos and the arrangements vary from the simple to time signatures that are exquisite. It is hard to believe that is a debut album.
If I had to compare the vibe to something that's gone before, it would be Rush's Vapor Trails. But having said that Stick Around is a cross between lounge and Prog. and Karaoke is almost Pop Punk with impressive plank spanking.
Soliloquy could even be easy listening and Daikon is pure Indie Rock. The playing on Thai Hot is awesome on a song that edges towards College Rock. Yet, Paper Palms has the urgency of XTC's Drums And Wires.
Breathe Deep could be Muse without the distorted Guitar and general overkill. The stand out for me though is This Is Us which shows how versatile three people can be. It is Prog of the highest order. The biggest take I got from the album is how great the Bass Guitar is. An outstanding offering that has me absolutely hooked!
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Thursday, 24 March 2022
The Flashpot Moments - Itch
The Summer Holiday - Subway Dreams
Beachheads - Shine
Grampfather - Murder Hornets
The Bye Bye Blackbirds - We Got Lost
The Bye Bye Blackbirds - We Got Lost (Reprise)
The Sun Sawed In Half - Twist Of Lemon
The High Water Marks - Proclaimer Of Things
Mad Rollers - Good Time
Stephen's Shore - Carefree Tyme
Young Guv - She Don't Cry For Anyone
Wednesday, 23 March 2022
This isn't a moan or groan in anyway, just an observation and a top tip for musicians. In this day and age, it is hard to get anyone interested in their music, even established bands suffer from the problem. The world wide web is a mass of information, so it is difficult to get noticed. I primarily deal with new music and that is even harder to get attention.
I cannot understand why any artist would not want to get their music to be heard by more people. To do this, it needs a helping hand. Generally musicians are people with second jobs and just don't have to the money to spend to get unknown results. But any musician has to help themselves in some way.
I mention this because over the past couple of months, I have listened to at least half a dozen albums and thought they were great. I've looked around to find more information on the band / artist and it has been tumbleweed. Nothing! I don't know who they are, where they are and how to direct people to them. I currently have four of those albums in draft ready to review and I can't even find anywhere to contact them.
I try as hard as time allows to find them, but eventually I have to give in. I know all the ways to search for the unobvious. I know a lot of people who may know something that I don't. But if all avenues lead to a dead end, eventually I have to give in. I am using time, I could have reviewed an album in. I would suggest that if I can't find you, then the average listener has no chance.
I'm not advising anyone to become a marketeer, it is just simple things. I know many dislike social media and I can completely understand why. But just set up an account in the band name on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or even all three. It doesn't have to be high maintenance. Only people who are intrigued by your music are gonna visit. It just allows these people to find you and gives you a bigger chance of more finding you.
You don't have to be on the sites all the time, hardly ever in the early days, but just use it to mention an album or song release or thank someone for a comment. It isn't gonna make everyone know everything about you or your life, it is just a point of contact. They will want to know what else you've done and where to listen and buy. When you release an album tell people about it. When you get a review, tell them. Look for Facebook Groups that cover the same sort of music you play and tell them.
If you don't fancy a lot of social media, then set up a Bandcamp site. You can put examples of your music and releases and someone may buy it or at least listen to it. Again it is a way of people finding you. People mention websites as a tool, but I'm not convinced that they benefit a new artist in anyway. They cost money and people usually visit social media or Bandcamp before they think of looking for a website. Websites are for when you are established enough to go after a much bigger audience.
Finally, don't be afraid of small numbers of followers. You are starting out. Things will snowball. If you only have 10 followers, it is 10 more than you did have and they may tell 10 more about you. Plenty of my peers love to discuss and write about new artists and their songs, but there is little point if you can't direct them anywhere.
Tuesday, 22 March 2022
There has been a real concentration on the sound of the 70s over the last couple of years and although the decade covers a whole lot from Prog to Punk, Classic Rock to New Wave and much more, that focus has been particularly on the Flares and Butterfly Collars years of Chinn and Chapman.
As you'd expect, that has meant albums that fall into good, bad and ugly categories. Pastiche to serious. Handclaps to THAT Drum sound with a large dollop of Call and Response. Fortunately, Mad Rollers fall into the Good category, perhaps even category.
The five piece from Rome remind me a lot of fellow Italians, Giuda who initially trod a similar road in both sound and feel. They also do a great cover of Jook's Bish Bosh Bash and my love of Jook knows no bounds. Mad Rollers could be Jook for the iphone generation.
Red Light has a hint of The Boomtown Rat's first album, although not as shouty as Geldof. Motherkilla sounds like gritty UK New Wave, maybe even a little Canvey Island or Rich Kids. I Trust Nobody could be something from the Chiswick label.
Ukraine Girl, which has become very relevant, closes the album and is a real 77 Punk Anthem. But it is the Glam Rock that rings out most. Keep Me Away and Rome Sweet Home are very Glitter Band, Good Time is very Bolan mixed with a bit of early 10CC.
All through the album your thoughts turn to Sweet, Slade and the RAK label. But Get Mad is performed with such verve and love that it is far more than just about the accurate sound of the era. The album is great fun and we need all the fun we can get at the moment.
Monday, 21 March 2022
I mentioned in my review of Boxer At Rest that The Bye Bye Blackbirds were stretching away from the Power Pop tag assigned to them on earlier albums. With August Lightning Complex, that genre seems even more distant in the mirror.
Only Favorite Stars could potentially labelled Power Pop and it is wonderful, showing that the band have lost none of their ability to go there, should they wish. The Oakland California six piece provide a wonderfully adult album, as you would expect but never take for granted.
Bradley Skaught's song writing is as top notch as ever, but lyrically, the album is much darker, maybe brought on by the pandemic lockdown effects in the two years since Boxer At Rest. The album has a lot in common with 70s Pop Rock, but there are hints of Country Rock and West Coast Rock.
However the production is big and crystal clear, you can hear and pick out every instrument in a way that most albums don't enable. Choruses are as memorable ever. The real plus is that six highly talented musicians blend beautifully, you sense that there isn't an ego in sight.
Much will be made of We Got Lost, a co-write with Matt Piucci who guests on the song, as does Doug Gillard. Despite the obvious Paisley connection, it is Kelly Atkins's vocal that stands out. Even more exciting is the one minute psych out that follows the track as a reprise. It blew my socks off.
Don't Wait is almost Gospel Country Rock and Something From The Old World is a classic slice of 70s Stadium Rock. Mechanic is chipper, at times Americana but with a wonderful twang. Want Show As Young starts all Glen Campbell but the riff, chorus and brass make this a much larger beat.
Then there is Marching, a nine minute epic. A vocal that is a little Tom Petty and a song that allows instruments to come in from everywhere with a Procol Harum like organ part way through. It is a magnificent brooding affair rounding of a splendid album. Big in every sense of the word, The Bye Bye Blackbirds have released a masterpiece.
You can listen to an buy the album here.
I have Darrin from JanglePopHub to thank for being turned on to The High Water Marks, but please don't tell him that I've been praising him. I feel really guilty because I loved Hilaire Sydney in Apples In Stereo, but lost touch of her career.
Now based in Norway with husband, Per Ole Bratset, the pair are joined by Logan Miller and Øystein Megård to form the quartet. Indie Guitar Pop is at the heart of what they do, but that isn't the half of it. Sydney is such a talented songwriter and that shines through and the album progresses through a number of genres across these 13 songs.
She also has the voice of an angel, a vocal that reminds me a lot of Lindsay Murray of Gretschen's Wheel. Female led Guitar Pop can occasionally be either too twee or too shouty. There's not a bit of that here and the vocals of Bratset add even more to the variety.
When you listen to the opener, The Best Day, you think this is going to be a Power Pop album, well only Someone's Song falls into the same category. We Are Going To Kentucky has a real Brit Pop Jangle and Twang whilst Jenny is Glasgow Indie Jangle of the highest order.
The whole album sounds so perky and upbeat, big riffs and some fine Guitar solos whilst always remaining Chorus hooked. Bratset's vocal on Fantastic Machine is wonderfully Pastoral Pop with an added killer Bassline. The title track is Fuzz of the highest order.
But what stands out most are the ventures into Psych Pop. Dust And Guitars has a Psych riff to die for, it knocks the spots off many in the genre. Then there's The Origin Of Names, a mesmerising 5 minutes that rocks your socks off. Proclaimer Of Things will be up there at the end of year awards. It is astonishingly great.
Friday, 18 March 2022
Boston's Tim Cawley is The Flashpot Moments and with the help of his collaborators and a big big production, he has fashioned up a real shake out the cobwebs Indie Rock album. The album excels on the big Rock numbers, but there is plenty here for everyone.
I played Itch on the current IDHAS 10 Song Mix and that is one of the Rock outs that edge towards AOR. Itch has a Power Pop verse and a Bon Jovi-ish verse and then there's a keyboard Run that sounds very early Cars. There's a hell of a lot going on in the song.
Jealous sounds even bigger and Trust U is splendid and even more AOR. So the 1 2 3 intro to Very Far gives you a slightly wrong impression. What follows these opening songs treads a different road. Fun Is Hard has a jaunty Piano Pop chorus, very different to what's gone before.
Palindrome is a strumming laidback affair that threatens to break out but never does. Don't Know It Yet could be a prime time Styx ballad. Beautiful, Unkillable starts with a big Guitar intro, but is very Organ led, it reminds me a little of It's Karma, It's Cool at times.
An Interruption is epic, a Brit Pop Riff matched with a massive Queen or Muse like chorus. The Crowd That Was is a beautifully arranged closer, slightly melancholic with hypnotic Cello and a Modern Prog like close. A fitting come down after all that has preceded it.
Very Far also works because after two years of lockdown, there is something refreshing about being allowed to break away from the acoustic strumming of that period. It may be an album that is a bit over the top, but what is wrong with that. Excess rather than restraint is no bad thing.
Thursday, 17 March 2022
Mick Dillingham talks to Curvey about the upcoming Custard Flux album, Phosphorus, in an I Don't Hear A Single Exclusive
The time is finally upon us to immerse ourselves once more in the swirling ocean of musical joy that is the Custard Flux with the brilliant new album Phosphorus. When it comes to the magical out pouring of Greg Curvey I find myself as a reviewer in that familiar and slightly confounding place I’ve been many times before in theses very pages.
To blithely say this is his best yet is a nonsense, because Curvey has always delivered the best, from when The Luck Of Eden Hall reformed in 2006 right through to today and onwards into tomorrow's yet to come. Its all the best and Phosphorus continues that unbroken chain of greatest we have come to expect from this hugely talented man. So what has our friend been up to in these strange times since we last met?
Curvey: "I wanted to be a biker after watching C.C. & Company, a B movie featuring Ann Margret and Joe Namath. It was the early 1970s and I couldn’t get my fill of Cycletoons comix. I idolized Evel Knievel. I drew pictures of motorcycles and monsters all the time.
My Dad had a garage filled with motorcycles, including a Triumph Bonneville, with matching bubble visored helmet and gas tank, a glorious sparkling silver, adorned with orange and yellow flames. Sometimes I’d muster up the courage to cross the forbidden zone and sit on it. I’m pretty sure my Dad knew.
He bought a 50cc Suzuki trail hopper for my step sisters and I to ride and let me take his 175cc Yamaha out a couple of times, which was fantastic, when I got to visit every other weekend. Years later, I had a 1968 Triumph Bonneville for a very brief time, but it was stolen. I was in my late 20s, living in Chicago and it wasn’t the best place to own a motorcycle.
In 2020, after Oxygen was released, I had started working on the basic tracks for Phosphorus, when I saw an absolutely gorgeous 1974 Harley Davidson Sportster for sale. Boom! I decided to sell enough of my childhood collectibles (i.e. cereal premiums, concert tour books and t-shirts, toys, etc.) that were sitting in boxes, and buy the bike.
Being stuck in the house under Covid quarantine was a bit maddening, right? So, I spent the entire summer and fall of 2021 becoming a grease monkey, falling in love with chrome and the smell of burning oil, riding and working on my bike. Then came the Michigan winter. Back to the mixing board and the Phosphorus Album."
Here are Curvey's thoughts on the new songs.
"This song initially started out as a complaint about all of the political lies being casually shoved down our throats, but I decided not to go that route. I really wanted to write some positive, even possibly uplifting, songs. I figured the world didn’t need more negativity after experiencing the pandemic and the Trump fiasco. Goals we set, are goals we get, eh?"
"In 2021, my brother-in-law, and friend, died unexpectedly. He was a gifted, intelligent being, using his talents to help his family and the folks around him grow and prosper. The world needed him. His passing influenced the lyrics in this song. Inspiration for the music came from chords I started playing while recording the harmonium at the end of the previous song, The Pretender."
"This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Red era King Crimson, maybe? It all started with the intro, as it should. Vito Greco and I decided it was the perfect setting for a guitar battle. Why not? I love Tim Prettyman’s double bass part and Mars Williams’ interplanetary saxophone solo rules!"
"I had the music composed and recorded, long before the lyrics settled. In my youth, FM radio was a place to discover new music. Long extended tracks, played back to back, with no commercials. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Genesis, Yes. It didn’t last long, but it was a beautiful thing while it did. The same thing happened with cable TV and the internet. I long for old frequency modulation. FM. Vito’s Portuguese guitar part re-energized my interest in this song, after I’d nearly scrapped it."
"The lyrics are inspired by something one of my High School classmate’s older brother actually pulled off and would have gotten away with, had he not bragged about it to some friends. It was around 1980, before cell phones and cameras were everywhere. Imagine that.
"Practicing scales pays off and inspired this composition. It’s was one of the first tracks written for this project. I wish I was a better drummer. Oh and strawberry squids are real!"
The Man In Blue Wants Out Of His Suit
"Something I posted on a thread once, about some 60s band’s photograph and my friend Steven Curl suggested it would make a good song title. I’m just singing about myself. The good folks at Fruits de Mer Records included this track on their recently released Earworms CD Compilation."
Roses And Wine
"Once again, the music was composed and recorded and in need of a lyric, so I decided to look up the Henry Mancini classic, The Days of Wine and Roses, for some inspiration. I never realized how bad the lyrics to that song were! But, they did inspire me to write something. The music is inspired by a riff I’d recorded on my phone while practicing. I do that quite often."
The Devil May Care
"I really like this mix and Vito’s guitar parts. It’s not really about anything, or anyone, I guess. Stay away from drugs, folks. They will make your life worse."
Sifting The Stars
"This one flowed seamlessly after The Devil May Care and resolved what was a bit of a downer with something uplifting. It’s certainly easy to sing along to and was a good excuse to plug in my Flying V."
"Definitely influenced by John Barry’s soundtrack to You Only Live Twice. You may not hear it, but it’s there. Mars on saxophone. When I recorded the triangle during the last part of the song, I set up two mics, positioned facing outward, like the ears on your head and revolved the triangle around the mics in a big circle. There’s some autoharp in there as well."
Staring Straight Into The Sun
"Beware of the charlatans. I’m gobsmacked by how many people swallow the bullshit fed to them by talking heads. That’s what the lyrics are about. The music was written around the riff."
By Order Of The Grand Vizier
"I’d written and recorded the piano and drum parts for this track while I was working on Echo, but it didn’t fit in with the other songs, so I filed it away. When Phosphorus grew beyond the limits of a single LP, I pulled this one out and started working on it again. The ghostly sounds are the combination of an Ebow on my electric guitar and a recorder, the instrument we all had to play in elementary school. I added the motorik bit at the end to extend the composition and Vito absolutely nailed his solo on the Stratocaster. I love this track."
The Face Of Mankind
"It doesn’t happen very often, but most of these lyrics came to me while I was composing the music on guitar. The weight of knowledge can be hard to carry. Isn’t that what the Garden of Eden is all about? Even though it may seem like an easy way out, to be one of the souls who have remained wilfully ignorant, I’m glad to have chosen the path I’m on."
"One of my favourite memories I keep from my years of martial arts training, is from a Kali bow: The hand of friendship is superior to the hand of war. Truth."
Phosphorus will be available to pre-order on the Custard Flux Bandcamp site here from 1 April.
Regular readers will know of IDHAS's love of Michael Collins's The Summer Holiday. The man has a way with a song that can be compared to Roddy Frame and Ian Broudie. Everything he offers up is simply poptastic.
I am personally convinced that all that is needed for The Summer Holiday need is a big push and more places to buy the album and I know that is on the way. So The Summer Holiday so far now reaches, Acqua, the third album.
It will surprise followers thus far that the album is a melody-fest. Hooks are everywhere and anywhere. Virtually everything is built around these hooks, they are upfront and 30 seconds you are in. Big choruses match Collins's laidback soothing vocal.
There is so much to enjoy here. Bad Luck has a killer riff, it just races along. Forest Hills is Modern Pop at its finest and Summertime In New York could be the best thing that Gilbert O'Sullivan didn't write. Mine Mine sounds like something off the Electric Dreams Soundtrack.
The King Is Dead is the big Pop Rock number with a big Guitar Solo in the kitchen sink production. All For Love is all happy clappy, My Kind is all Bossa Nova, very 70s and Subway Dreams is the best chorus here and the competition is stiff.
The chance to catch up will soon be live with website, physical and Bandcamp downloads available. Acqua is the sound of a man at the top of his game.I can't think of anyone making better Pop albums currently. Highly Recommended!
I reviewed Beachheads' 2017 debut album (here) and the follow up is every bit as great. The Norwegian quartet still largely reside in an area that is a cross between UK New Wave Pop Rock and 80s US Power Pop, however the palette, influences even, stretches out further.
Beachheads manage to make the album earthy without ever losing sight of the Pop. Down South, for instance edges towards UK Twee Indie Pop. Shine is like Danny McNamara fronting The Lighting Seeds. Death Of A Nation could be The Housemartins.
10,000 Hurts is 60s UK Beat Pop with hints of Psych Pop, Live And Let Live verges towards Campfire Folk, Nothing is great New Wave Power Pop. Yet, Change is splendidly latter day R.E.M. and Jupiter is very 90s Not Lame.
So the variation is easy to see, but the album never ever loses sight of the Pop as its heart and soul. The album may wander between styles, but there is a real binding of feel good, chipper, Summer goodness. A fine second album that continues were the debut album left on and takes the band further.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Tuesday, 15 March 2022
01 Young Guv - Scam Likely
02 Lannie Flowers - Lost In A Daydream
03 Bandicoot - Train Station Mural
04 Leisure Hour - The Do-Do Song!
05 The Confusions - Get Ready
06 The Flashpot Moments - Itch
07 Eytan Mirsky -Smart to Be Stupid
08 Good Grief - How Can I Help Falling In Love?
09 Drug Church - Million Miles Of Fun
10 On The Runway - Lifeline
I've enjoyed the previous two Young Guv albums without ever writing about them. My peers have reminded me that I should, but neither album has ever hit home and I've probably wrongly labelled them as a singles band. All that has changed with Guv III.
The album is Toronto's Ben Cook's most accomplished and joined up affair yet, it feels and sounds like a proper album. There is a back story to the writing of the album, being quarantined in New Mexico during the lockdown. You can read all about this by following the Bandcamp link at the end of this review.
For all the people who revel in the Is It Power Pop? debate, this is Power Pop through and through and confirms that the genre doesn't have to follow a self enforced dictat. The opener, Couldn't Leave U If I Tried is in Classic Byrds Territory and the Guitar Pop is wonderful throughout.
Good Time is a fine slab of Indie Pop and Take Up All My Time is a great driving song, gentle but toe tapping. Lo Lo Lonely is anthemic, a reminder of Brit Pop. I Ain't Got U is akin to The Lightning Seeds venturing into the other West Coast with s Guitar Riff that takes hold.
Guv III gets even more interesting towards the end. She Don't Cry For Anyone is top notch 60s Psych Pop. Scam Likely goes one better and enters the land of Toytown, a little bit Orgone Box too. April Of My Life is a harmonic, gentle. delightful closer with added flute. All very Baroque Pop!
It is hard enough to find an album that maintains quality all the way through in these front loaded, track grabbing days. The fact that this is an album that gets better and better as it progresses is one that Young Guv should be immensely proud of. Highly Recommended!
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Don't Be Afraid has a wonderful haunting Steel Guitar accompaniment without the song ever nearing Country. It's All Right To Be Alone has a real 70s Schmaltzy vibe, wonderfully laid back, at times almost Philly, splendidly so.
Pile Of Leaves is Sax driven and delivered in a Costello way whilst Smart To Be Stupid could easily be a Show tune. You're Getting It On Me picks up the pace, built on a great riff and a real Nick Lowe like chorus. it is a fine listen.
What Took You So Long is reminiscent of Billy Joel and The Waiting Is The Easiest is slightly Reggae, in a way that early Graham Parker could be. Halfhearted is all showband and the keyboard part on I Don't Wanna Brag is very Steve Nieve.
Eytan Mirsky is such a talent and deserves a much wider mainstream audience. These comparisons deflect from what a fine singer songwriter he is. All of these ten songs are beautifully written and constructed. Lord, Have Mirsky deserves your attention.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
It has been four years since the wonderful Cheer and the Albany, New York five haven't got any less great or any happier. Hygiene is an incredible album, but will be a bit of an adventure for newcomers. Drug Church are a bit schizophrenic with their material.
The songs are built on wonderful riffs that would adorn albums that live in Power Pop, Pop Rock, Goth, Metal, Prog, Psych and Garage. This all changes with Patrick Kindlon's Vocals which are pretty hardcore in their delivery and come across as a lighter Lemmy except when they don't.
Kindlon is lyrically excellent, full of one liners, but doom laden which is the opposite of the music backing them. It works, but takes a little time to get used to. There is a real Shake Your Fist element to what they do, but the songs simply grip you.
There's a lot of variance here. On songs that have a more restrained vocal, there's a sound that mixes Post Punk, Grunge and in particular Goth, I'm thinking the likes of Million Miles Of Thunder and the splendid Million Miles Of Fun.
Athlete on Beach is so damn anthemic yet World Impact is so shouty, yet still a bit early Faith No More. Detective Lieutenant is more UK Indie mid to late 80s until it breaks out and Plucked is NWOBHM in pace and sound.
The most enjoyable songs are the up and at 'em ones. Fun's Over has a real winding up intro with a riff that hits home accompanied by a driving Bass run. Super Saturated is built around a heavy Power Pop Riff. Hygiene won't appeal to all, but it damn well should, it is a fine album.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Sunday, 13 March 2022
Saturday 12 March - Sunday 13 March (Update : The last section is currently running but this will take approximately another 3 hours. Therefore IDHAS will begin the catch up tomorrow)
Boring info I know, but the IDHAS System is undergoing a system and server Backup. No new posts will be made over the weekend, but all previous posts are available. As soon as completed, the reviews will be brought up to date, an exclusive interview is ready to post and a new IDHAS 10 Song Mix will be ready to delight your ears.
The system and update work is to prepare I Don't Hear A Single for some exciting stuff to come in the near future. The upgrade was planned for April, but we are unusually ahead of schedule. In the meantime, I'm off to watch Midsomer Murders.
Saturday, 12 March 2022
Everyone I Know Will Die is not the sort of album usually covered on here and I'm sure Jacob Kulick probably don't lose sleep over it. Kulick probably resides in the likes of Rock Sound and Kerrang, areas I'm too old for now, but this is great.
It's a bit short at 7 songs and 20 minutes, but there are so many earworms that are probably "dropped" on fans and described as "bangers". But the album successfully navigates the area between Pop Punk and Modern Pop Rock Radio. If we are honest it is very close to Power Pop, although most of those forums would probably deny it and return to talking about Badfinger.
I'm reminded of Butch Wilson and therefore Avril Lavigne, but this is much better than either have come up with the last decade. People may grumble about this genre and its reliance on the computer and tweaked robotic vocals, not I.
My personal music tastes are complicated and I am as happy with a 2 minute blast as I am with a 20 minute Progfest, but the main thing I love are well written songs with melody and big choruses and there are plenty of them here.
I defy anyone not to sing the chorus of The People I Know (Don't Like Me) is an absolute gem of a Pop song. Necessities comes close to it and you can imagine someone like Bryan Adams coming up with something similar to Time To Go.
These songs are meant to be performed at pace and sung with attitude. So when it is slowed down, it doesn't always work. Don't Think About Me is too close to Boy Band land, but the title track is a great closer, almost Weezer. If you put your preconceptions in the cupboard, you will hear some fine Pop songs here and there really isn't anything better to improve your mood.
You can listen to and buy the album everywhere. You can find out more about Kulick here.
Thursday, 10 March 2022
Due to my fascination with all things Crash Bandicoot, even calling our old Lurcher Crash, I was always going to be interested in a band called Bandicoot. Fortunately, the Swansea quartet's debut album is outstanding and there is no better label to be on than Libertino Records.
I do hope that the band don't get lobbed in with the Indie Brigade, because there is so much more to them than that. This is inventive and at times dramatic stuff, referencing the Glam Era of 72 - 74. This period has become a popular direction to aim at recently, but this isn't an album of hand claps and big drum stomps.
Black After Dark is more Art Rock, think earlier Roxy Music, John Cale even. This is helped enormously by both the Saxophone and keyboard sound. The Sax in particular awesome, very Andy McKay, at times a bit Wizzard Brew. The only real Glam Rock is Fuzzy, which seems deliberately so.
A song like Early In The Morning has so much work in it. Starting like Radiohead, then builds and builds into a real sing along, before crashing back down to earth. It is a marvellous affair. In comparison, Dark Too Long races along, almost Avant Garde, a little Prog at times.
Life Death And Other Things is a little more second half of 80's Rock, yet Rhys Undertown's vocal on the splendid title track is foppish. Shadow Of A Former Time is a corking 70s Pop Rock ballad yet Train Station Mural is all Fuzz Guitar, interrupted by another great Sax break.
Siren is a Psych Freak Out of the highest order whilst Bleed Out is very Morrissey. It is testament to the album that any of the 13 songs could be picked out as a winner. Their is so much invention on show that you notice something extra on every listen.
Black After Dark is an album brimming with ideas, beautifully played and arranged. The Vocals are as magnificent as the Saxophone, an instrument that you don't hear enough in Rock these days. Bandicoot are Album Of The Year contenders, buyers will play this to death.
As someone who covers new music, I hear lots and lots of stuff, the good, the bad and the ugly. However, there is still no greater joy than when an album catches you by surprise. It isn't that often when that happens and it is never genre specific.
Mountain Highway is one such album and I've been meaning to tell you about it for a while since I played Somerset on an IDHAS 10 Song Mix. The Smivets are a one man band and I can tell you little about that one man apart from his name being Steve and he is from Uttoxeter.
Mountain Highway is no big sounding affair, nor is it lo-fi. It comes across as a showcase of Steve's talent. The album defies genres, because every song is different to any other. There are times when it is loose and a bit messy and times when a song is just perfect, particularly Somerset.
Contained within are songs like Jesus, The Devil and So On could be a song recorded in a Georgia Studio in 1956, all Rock n Roll and I Think She Loves Me is early 80's Synth Pop. Hey Bon is Southern Boogie Rock, yet the title track is all sludge grunge Alt Rock, almost dirge like.
Tourmaline is a cross between West Coast Rock and Modern Prog and Untouchable is all Garage Rock, megaphone and all. Let's Get This Over With verges on Status Quo fronted by Neil Young with an incendiary Guitar Solo. Foregone is a Psych masterpiece.
Better Than Rock And Roll is just astounding. It chops and changes, is messy at times and so damn catchy at times. Then there is the magnificence that is Somerset, one of the best songs that I've heard in the past year. Mountain Highway is formidable. There is a lot to take in, but the ride is one you'll love.
You can listen to and buy the album here.