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Friday, 30 September 2022

The Special Pillow - Mind Wipe

 

Without a hint of wearing my Big Stir hat, The Armoires have been compared to The Special Pillow. I can see the similarity, male and female vocalists, violin and Katie Gentile and Christina Bulbenko's vocals are not a million miles away from each other. But that is where the similarity ends.

The Special Pillow reside in a magnificent cocoon of their own. The Hoboken quartet sound as though they have been time warped from the 60s into the present day and are a bit bemused about it all. The wit in the lyrics reveals a bemusement with what's going on, but who cares?

Essentially, the band master a sort of Psych Pop that encompasses, Pop, Beat and Folk. Yet on a song like Mind Wipe they almost become the B52s. That is their charm and the violin, viola and sax that jumps in only enhances their capabilities. 



Access Denied is a song about proving you are not a robot when you try to log in somewhere. But it is sung to an accompanying haunting string arrangement and a Brass addition that makes it swing. All this in what is essentially Beat Pop joy. 

Then there's Organic Panic which could be from a 60s film soundtrack with instruments coming from everywhere, one by one they are added as though someone has found something else in the music cupboard. It ends as a sort of space theme. All bizarre, but delightfully so. 



Another Tragic Chorus is a real moody venture in Psych, atmospheric to the point of scariness. The centrepiece though, in more ways than one, is the wonderful So Inclined. A 7 minute affair that you night normally see closing an album or even opening one.

But oh no, it is right here in the middle and it is amazing, moody and magnificent. The central instrumental theme is just haunting. Sung beautifully by Gentile who also adds strings that are mindblowing. You just allow the last three minutes to wash over you and clear your mind. 



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Thursday, 29 September 2022

The Chesterfields - New Modern Homes

 

I've mentioned before that I got so disenchanted with the UK Music Scene in the first half of the 80s that I turned to the US Indie brigade and the result was a big part of my pre IDHAS Blogging days. It was the UK Indie 80s that reignited my interest in the second half of the decade.

I was never that C86, even though I applaud what it did for the scene and the effect it still has now. These were Indie Guitar Pop bands and labels who revelled in the joy of the song. The Chesterfields' 1987 debut album, Kettle, was and remains an absolute gem to listen to.



The band are more than welcome back and although the sound has changed slightly from the urgency to something nearer some of the bands they mention on Our Songbird Has Gone. That song is a magnificent tribute to Davey Goldsworthy's memory. His death in a hit and run accident in 2003 looms large over the album.

The current line up have added new dimensions, particularly the addition of Helen Stickland whose vocals have helped soothe the sound and her lead on Year On The Turn is Dream Pop par excellence. At times there is a splendid gentle Psych Pop feel to the album, especially on the likes of Mr Wilson Goes To Norway and Oh My Ampersand.



The vibe is ace. A great big dollop of Jangle matched with wonderful vocal harmonies. Tuesday Night has a hint of The Housemartins. Postpone The Revolution is a corking affair, built on a killer riff. Yet Hey Margaret Calvert is magnificently moody, almost Folk.

My Bed Is An Island is a reminder of those early days, far more direct with an hypnotic chorus. Bitesize is a chirpy opener and a signpost of the joy that is to follow with a driving Bass line and a top notch Guitar Lead. Bands that return after so many years do not usually produce albums as great as New Modern Homes. Let's hope this is the first of many.



You can listen to and buy the album here and everywhere.


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Wednesday, 28 September 2022

The Mommyheads - Genius Killer (Name Your Price)

 

I'm not sure if I like any band more than New York's The Mommyheads. I certainly can't think of one. There really is no one quite like them. You can compare individual songs to others, but as a whole naaah. Last month I did a prelude piece on the album here

I haven't re-read that piece, so if I repeat myself you will know how true the words are. For a band well into their fourth decade, there is no sign of the quality letting up, quite the reverse Highly intellectual, yet incredibly Pop at times. 



Essentially Indie, but with ventures into Psych, Prog and Pop Rock. They've been compared to Queen, Radiohead and XTC on the same album. Here the poperatic stuff is nowhere to be seen, but the other two are. They have always been a thinking man / musician's band, here they seem deeper than ever.

Unexpected instruments enter at will, expecting something Guitar led, a keyboard run will come in from nowhere. Take for instance Distil Your Love Into That Dying Light is all funk, but stills manages to unleash a fantastic Pop Rock chorus. Impulse Item is an epic opener, but still manages to slip in a short classical run.



Impulse Item is wonderful, all moody at the start, breaking into a monster of a song, as commercial as The Mommyheads get and rewardingly so.  Yet She's A Fighter is almost Bossa Nova lounge and Bittersweet slowly visits everywhere, almost Soul at times to a Roxy Music-ish bass line. 

One And The Same is very XTC around the mid 80s, We Almost Lost It All is heartfelt, mighty in its melancholy. First Five Seconds is Modern Prog at its very best, showing how the genre can be so misconstrued as an abiltiy lesson when it can be done as well as this.



Idealist is splendid, very complex, rhythms everywhere, a raiding of the musical instrument cupboard and like four songs in one. I urge you to read the lyric sheet, there is so much depth and message in every song, never more so than on the title track.

Genius Killer remains the real earworm for me. It is the song in which you notice the lyrics most across a wonderful rhythm section and a killer angular riff. I've not mentioned Privilege, which is wonderfully venemous with added African Rhythms and Sax. Genius Killer is an absolute tour de force!



You can listen to and download the album here. The download is at Name Your Price on Bandcamp, but please and try to pay at least a little something, Talent Is An Asset! The album will also be available on CD and Vinyl at The Mommyheads site here.






Tuesday, 27 September 2022

The Airport 77s - We Realize You Have A Choice

 

This is Power Pop and unashamedly so. The Maryland Trio's debut album, Rotation, was one of the most read reviews of last year, great fun and wit and their follow up, their first for Jem Records builds on the strength of that debut. You can read the IDHAS review of Rotation here,

The move to Jem will hopefully give them a much wider audience and they deserve that. Power Pop sometimes takes itself way too seriously and here, the band demonstrate what the genre should be about. Hooks, Riffs and choruses of course, but essentially offering up a feel good factor.




On We Realize You Have A Choice, the trio stretch out, underlining that at heart they are a fine trio. These boys can play, building on their rhythm section excellence with some splendid Guitar Solos courtesy of Andy Sullivan.

There is variety too. The Illustrated Book Of Cupid is a wonderful example of UK Glam Rock and The Way She Moves has a real rock out urgency with a killer riff. Honey Don't even has a Bluesy feel. Since The Circus Left Town compares to the great Pop Rock bands of the 70s, even heads towards Classic Rock.



It is the Power Pop that they are best known for though. The likes of One Good Thing About Summer, Alone Together and Losers Win underline that strength. There is also a cracking bass line on All Torn Up Over Tina which edges towards late 50s Rock and Roll. 

The Airport 77s show hidden depths on their second album. The trio of Andy Sullivan, Chuck Dolan and John Kelly provide fine melodic songs and reveal a real sense of humour in the lyrics.The album reveals the joy of Power Pop without ever been static in direction.



You can buy the album everywhere. The Release date is this Friday.


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Monday, 26 September 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 38



We reach Number 38 with a slightly longer than usual 38 minute mix. Bookended by two songs that we absolutely adore that are slightly different to the Pop Rock usually on show, but just as rewarding. Hopefully this will dint the five Mixcloud Global Charts that it qualifies for.

The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Thank you for your continued listening. The Mix is certainly more popular than we ever expected.

Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Custard Flux - The Pretender - Memory Ends

02 Karma Gambit - Cable Knit Sweater

03 The Beths - Expert In A Dying Field

04 Neutrals - Bus Stop Nights

05 The Wheel Workers - Harbor

06 The Dead Century - Enough To Get You Killed

07 The Chesterfields - Mr. Wilson Goes To Norway

08 Crossword Smiles - Feet On The Ground

09 The 1984 Draft - Erryday

10 Ricky - Ground Hole


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 38



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Sunday, 25 September 2022

More Kicks - Punch Drunk

 

More Kicks' debut album was great. A great example of UK New Wave Power Pop, with a side order of the Mod Pop from the late 70s. The London Trio take on a much wider remit for the follow up and it works in an outstanding way.

Animal may be the Single of the year and it loses none of its grip no matter how often you play it and what accompanies it here may be even better. There is even more power and more cohesion from the three. They just seem to want to show you the full scope of what they can do and then leave you wanting more. 



In Love is throbbing Garage Rock and yet Come Home is like a rocked up update of Merseybeat. Phoney Middle Aged Art is stripped down and short, a slower affair that you sense wants to speed up and by The Replacements.

Terminal Love is very Squeeze like, wonderfully so. Rest Of Our Lives is especially DIY, Bass Driven and urgent with a Pete Shelley like delivery. Seven Ways is a cross between Punk and Canvey Island R & B. Goodnight Goodnight is like something from a 70s Pop Rock album, Moody Blues even sentiment wise.



My personal favourite is the marvellous Colour Me Stupified which comes across as a lost Brit Pop Classic. It just underlines how all encompassing these 12 songs are. You can imagine how well they translate live.

The biggest pleasure is that it is British. The UK scene at the moment is all a bit tumbleweed and very regional. There seems like a real music fan apathy that otherwhelms everything. More Kicks demonstrate that there is hope and they've gone through the door and left it ajar. Who dares to follow them?



You can listen to and buy the album here..


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Neutrals - Bus Stop Nights EP

 

Neutrals are a trio based in Oakland California, so imagine my surprise on first play to hear something that had much more in common with the UK DIY New Wave of the 1978 - 1979 UK New Wave. The Scottish tones of Allan McNaughton were confirmed and the explanation is clear.

The EP is wonderfully DIY, but so were a lot of those years and it is lovely to hear it done in 2022. The stand out is the title track with its Jangle and call and response. It is not a million miles away from The Vapors, particularly with the great Bass Run.

Gary Borthwick Says is hilarious. McLaughlin's delivery is really spoken word, but lyrically it is ace. Incidentally we had a mate around that time who was on a similar Barry level. We used to make up band names who of course he loved and had seen them live. It is a belting song.



Pressures Of Life could be a Sham 69 song in sentiment and New Town Dream even gets a little Dury-esque. The EP is incredibly charming without a hint of pretension and at times I'm reminded of Television Personalities, even a hint of Buzzcocks without the love angle.

There is a bite in the lyrics and while they are certainly not Andy Partridge like, they are not from Rick, the people's poet and certainly heart felt and well meant. The band connect brilliantly music wise with a fine Rhythm section. There is si much to like here.



You can listen to and buy the EP here.


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Saturday, 24 September 2022

Custard Flux - Phosphorus

 

People ask me how I can be such a lover of Pop Rock in the window of I Don't Hear A Single and yet at home be such a massive Psych and Prog fan. It really is rather easy if you have the patience. Through Secondary School, in fact smack bang in the middle around 1976 there was a lull.

Glam Rock had virtually ended and Punk had not properly started and that coincided with the time when albums came to my fore and all the seemingly greatest albums were Prog and you had a golden previous period to listen to and learn. Pop albums were still largely singles and load of "will this do" filler.

Through all my musical crystallising and genre hoping, I always returned to Prog and Psych, complex albums, but you could just let them wash over you. So new albums don't usually appear on IDHAS, because that's not what the audience necessarily appreciates. But there are artists who can be from either of those genres and still be accessible to a wider, dare I say it, Pop Rock audience?



This is where Gregory Curvey comes in, through both his The Luck Of Eden Hall a nd more recently, Custard Flux adventures. Curvey and Custard Flux compare to a band like Big Big Train, not as chorus led, but willing to take more chances. Both cross over and you would be surprised how many Pop Rock fans I know that are fans of Curvey.

Vocal wise, he comes in as very Peter Gabriel pre Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, say 1972 or 1973. However, he is a gobsmackingly great Guitarist. He can be plank spank with the best of them, but be equally understated or complex, riff driven at times. He is also an incredible arranger. 

Phosphorous is the third Custard Flux album and it is typically Prog as a double album. At almost 81 minutes, it is a long, but completely worthwhile listen. The variety holds your attention as do the moods. Two of the instrumentals add Sax and that instrument lights up The Gardener, which isn't an instrumental. Well done Mars Williams!



Likewise, Jay Tausig's flute on The Face Of Mankind is superb on a song that sounds so much like Big Big Train. Orbital Transport shows another side to Custard Flux, Acoustic Guitar led, almost classical and Roses And Wine gets as near to a Pop Song as could be, but still sounds very Adrian Belew.

What thrills me the most though are always the riff led songs that take on different avenues but rest on that riff and repetition both vocally and instrumentally. Station is a great example, but the tour de force is the opener The Pretender / Memory Ends. I could have spent the whole review extolling the wonders of this song.



Nine minutes in length and as expected with the title, two part, it is mesmerising without a wasted second. The Pretender is so damn melodic, you find yourself singing the hypnotic chorus. It is as urgent as Curvey has ever been. There is also a wig out Guitar Solo and before you know it, Memory Ends has begun.

This second part is very very Genesis 1973 and it could be Peter Gabriel himself, a complete change of pace, wonderfully so. My hope with the embedded songs is to attempt ro bring newcomers in. Everyone is welcome! Oh and the sleeve notes are written by our very own Mick Dillingham.



You can listen to and buy the album on Vinyl, CD or as a download here.


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Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Nomden - Parallel Universe

 

Daryll-Ann are back in the news with Michael Simmons's wonderful Happy Traum EP and we have always loved the band and the solo adventures that followed. Diederik Nomden joined Daryll-Ann on Keyboards and Backing Vocals for the last two albums, Trailer Tales and Don't Stop, but is the now that we involve ourselves with.

Nomden formed The Analogues in 2014 who are one of the very best Beatles Tribute bands around. However the band have recently released an album of their own material as The Analogues Sideshow and that is a wonderful listen and will be reviewed here before the end of the month.

In December 2021, Nomden released his second solo album, Parallel Universe. I meant to review it in the New Year and it completely slipped my mind. So with the release of the album on Vinyl this month, it has given me chance to remedy that. 



There are often references in my own reviews to the great Pop Rock albums of the 70s. Many have been seriously reassessed over recent years to reflect the quality of that genre. The albums were put on the uncool pile with the advent of Punk, despite sales still being buoyant. 

I was growing up in that era and the albums were certainly singles led, but the difference was that albums were no longer singles and any old thrown together rubbish. These albums were made as complete entities and then singles chosen off them. I'm thinking of the likes of Pilot, Jigsaw, Liverpool Express and John Miles. 

That is where Parallel Universe comes in because it sounds like and is every bit as great as those from the second half of the 70s. Indeed it is like a cross between the latter two mentioned. These are great melodic songs, built around fine arrangements and big choruses.



Piece Of The Pie could be Squeeze doing Philly, Wastelands could be Crowded House and yet Masquerade is a modern day example of 1968 Pop, very McCartney. No Better Place To Be edges on Pastoral Pop, beautifully arranged piano fayre. 

Happy When Its Raining reminds me of current Pop Rock protagonists such as Iain Hornal or Phil Thornalley with every instrument playing its part and a belting Guitar solo. So Long is splendidly melancholic piano pop, moody and magnificent.

The stand out song is the title track, a great opener, very John Miles, instrumentally top notch and comparable to Eric Stewart's vocal led finer 10CC songs. This will be another favourite amongst followers and justifiably so. Highly Recommended!



You can buy and listen to the album here


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The Click Beetles - Emerald Green

 

I have at times been accused at times of having a downer on Power Pop. I know it is hard to believe that I would upset anyone, but there you have it. The truth is I haven't any such thing. The problem has always been too many of the fans or more relevantly fan groups. IDHAS became what it is on the back of Power Pop then it just moved in other directions, but I still love the genre, 

It suffered dreadfully with the "Is It Power Pop" brigade and that made it uncool for bands to be linked to it. It also became ageist and more than a little bit, all new music is shite. I understand that people like the things that they've always liked, but that doesn't suit a Blog that concentrates on the new and under appreciated.



There is good and bad in every genre, but there is the overhang of mediocre when people try to define something rigidly, it just limits the audience. When a band gets Power Pop right, it can be the most uplifting thing ever and The Click Beetles get it right all of the time. Dan Pavelich's adventures with Drummer, Van Dyke Brown are exceptional .

Whether it is the Merseybeat of the 60s, the New Wave or Pop Rock of the 70s or the revitalised 90s, they master the sound. They are at their best when they Jangle, Goodbye Margot and Modern Girl best represent this beautifully. The addition of Andrea Perry's vocal on Natalie Would is a triumph, great UK 60s Beat that ventures into Psych Pop.



Return The Sun begins with a Blues Riff but settles into a splendid melancholic Pop Rock affair which is very 1967 but with a hint of late 50s. Dear Liza Jane is as good a piece of Toytown as I've heard recently, delivered at pace with the feel of a Kids 60s UK Cartoon theme. Green has a cracking Bass run that drives it and the guitar is hypnotic, even creeping into Jangle Pop at times. 

What You Do may be the best thing on the album. There is so much in its 3 minutes 20. Power Pop, Psych Pop, UK Beat and much more. This isn't an album that has been thrown together. There is plenty for the Power Pop fan, but there are also big steps into other directions. That keeps Emerald Green interesting and relevant and as good an example of great Guitar Pop as I've heard all year.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Monday, 19 September 2022

Rogers & Butler - Brighter Day

 

Edward Rogers solo album, Catch A Cloud, was in the Top 20 in the IDHAS 2021 Best Of Year and still resonates. You can read the review here. I commented that you shouldn't expect big choruses on that album, the opposite applies here. 

Rogers second album with Steve Butler is an absolute gem. I'm a long term fan of both and in particular Smash Palace. Their voices are very different. Butler is very much in Ian Hunter territory, particularly Hunter's last three albums. 



The joining together works so well. For Rogers part, his pop sensibilities are far more to the fore, if anything he's lightened up, still writing the lyrics whilst Butler does the music. The harmonies also blend brilliantly, something maybe alien to two lead vocalists in their own ventures. 

Songs like The Sun Won't Show and Brighter Day are fine melody lead songs with catch all choruses, gently drawing you in. Oh Romeo is great Americana, yet Cabaret is a haunting ballad. A Brand New Tomorrow is a cracking slab of Psych Pop.



Marmalade Eyes is probably the stand out. Very late 60s Singer Songwriter in the verse, then exploding into an astounding chorus. A little folky, but you sense the Psych is bursting to get out. Last Reply runs it close though, a piano led McCartney Pop affair that would have fitted beautifully during Brit Pop. There's also a baroque pop arrangement on the edges.

Where Does The World Hide fairly bounds along with a great Twanging Riff demonstrating the strength of the union.  That is the strength of Brighter Day, Rogers and Butler suit each other perfectly and the result is a splendid album. 



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Sunday, 18 September 2022

The Wheel Workers - Harbor

 

I've been around for many many years and so I feel more than a little guilty for not discovering them early. I've obviously got a lot to catch up on as Harbor is the seventh album by the five piece collective from Houston Texas, led by Steven Higginbotham.

When you see a band name like The Wheel Workers, you may think of Americana and hats or Yee Haw and more hats. There is not a hint of that here, Harbor is a splendid Indie album with many directions taken to reach the centre.



The variety is enormous. Morning Song is prime time IRS, but with a Bass line that could be Peter Hook. The Title Track is a wonderful keyboard led anthem, pure Pop Rock excellence. Day After Day verges on Modern Prog and Quarter Page is magnificently moody.

Cold is Modern Pop whilst Open Up is Celtic. Compare the Noise Rock of Suck It Up to the atmospheric closer, Love You So. The former vergers on Punk with someone like Devo joining in on the chorus/ The latter has a weeping Guitar Thread that just nails the mood of the song.



Believers is top quality Post Punk College rock, yet S.O.S is hypnotic, a really brave choice for an opening song. With all this variance, it is easy for the listener to be confused, but here it all sounds such a natural thing to do. The result is an album brimming with ideas and unusual arrangements.

There is also a direct social message in the lyrics, which makes Harbor even more agreeable. These lyrics would be noticed secondary with the arrangements being so intense and brilliant. Picking three songs to embed is tricky, so listen to them all. I have no idea why I have missed The Wheel Workers thus far, I could kick myself. Highly Recommended!



You can listen to and buy the album here


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Dear Boy - Forever Sometimes

 


I first covered Dear Boy as part of an Extended Play post in 2019. That was singing the praise of The Strawberry EP. It has been a while before the debut album arrived, but thankfully the Los Angeles quartet have not lost any of their pop sensibilities.

I mentioned in that review that the band sounded far more British than American and the same applies. Although the direction seems like it has gone a little more mainstream pop, gentler maybe, but just as melodic with earworms aplenty. 



The 80s comparison still stands and they are not a million miles away from IDHAS favourites, The Summer Holiday/ Somewhere in between The Lightning Seeds and Savage Garden is not a bad place to be and may deservedly give them a wider modern pop audience.

The Indie Pop glistens like Gold from every direction. The hooks and melodies grab you and lead into memorable choruses. An album like this can risk straying into Boy Band Territory, but the arrangements and instrumentation prevent this and sound something more A-ha.



The album is at its best when songs are at their chirpiest and the pace quickens. (On My) Mind is one such example with a lovely Twang included. Say When is very China Crisis in the verse and sound with a big chorus, Forever Sometimes is based on a great riff.

Swan Dives even gets a little Pet Shop Boys. Even with a preference for the faster songs, Evensong is a splendid opener, magnificently moody. The key word to describe Forever Sometimes is gentle. The world still needs great Pop and this album is indeed that.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Saturday, 17 September 2022

DB Edmunds - Life's Wild Ride

 

When is an EP a mini album? Life's Wild Ride is classed as an EP, but with six songs and coming in at over 24 minutes, it is nearly as long as some albums that have appeared on Vinyl recently. I expected a lot from Doug Edmunds solo debut and let me tell you why. 

Gladhands are one of my favourite bands of the 90s. Scratch that...........ever. Four albums of mind blowing quality and La Di Da features regularly in my top 10 albums of all time. The band offered up a wonderful brand of Pop Rock, but essentially they could also Rock. They were a melodic power trio of the finest order.



To appear in one band of such quality deserves acclaim, but to follow it with a group of equal excellence deserves the Gold Medal. The Stars Explode were such a match to Gladhands and so the pressure was on with a solo venture. 

Thankfully, Edmunds has done the Triple. This album follows similar lines to what has gone before, but with a seeming maturity that enhances past victories. Side By Side lets you know what you are in, great Guitar Pop with a touch of Glam Rock and a rip roaring Guitarathon. 



I Don't Trust Love is a top notch ballad, meandering, moody with a weeping solo. The One True Thing adds horns and organs on a fine 70s Pop Rock song like there used to be. Higher Ground could be Brit Pop. Wait For The Rain even gets a little lounge, another genre Edmunds masters and then ends on a cataclysmic solo.

I mentioned maturity and the slower numbers reflect that and are beautifully done, but when it Rocks, it really Rocks and you are reminded throughout of what a great guitarist the man is. From what I usually term the Not Lame Years until now, DB Edmunds has lost none of his spark. Highly Recommended!



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Various - Indian Summer (Free Download)

 

Time for another compilation and this one is especially dear to my heart. I talk to quite a few around the scene and there are many admirable people. But the two that are most akin to me personality and outlook wise are Wayne from Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More and Darrin from Janglepophub.

We share the same sense of humour, the same cynicism at times, but above all else, we are about the artists. Very defensive of musicians, without whom etc etc and on the front foot concerning the new and the underappreciated musicians.

Wayne's strength is his weekly Radio Show which is syndicated far and wide and a great listen. But his annual compilations are especially ace because they bring these artists to an even wider audience and have become something to really look forward to. The shows are extremely popular.



Wayne does a proper job, this isn't something that is thrown out, it sounds great from start to finish. Every individual track gives a link to the artist. Although there are many artists who I know here, there are plenty that are not, so even the oldest man in the village can learn something.

There are 40 songs here and all are free. You can download individual tracks or the whole thing as a whole. I suggest the latter and if 40 songs are a bit much in one go, then listen to them in two halves or batches. Everything on here merits conclusion.



As ever with a compilation, it is impossible to mention everyone. Around half have been featured on IDHAS in one way or another, so I will concentrate on some who haven't. But please don't ignore the likes of Emperor Penguin, Star Collector and Kid Gulliver, to name just three.

Mansfield are a Danish band who are new to me and they open proceedings with a Brit Pop flurry. The Walk Offs offer up something that sounds somewhere in between Glam and Canvey Island. Monty Vega And The Sittin' Shivas provide a New Wave version of The Ramones.



I placed Strange Neighbours on the latest IDHAS 10 Song Mix on the strength of hearing it here. Phil Hendricks excels with a song that compares to Def Leppard doing The Only Ones. Perilous made me reach for my Flares with a cracking slice of Glam Rock. The Flares must have shrunk in the wash.

I've gone for two songs by great artists that I know and two that are new to me for embeds. However I urge people to listen to everything here. You'll find everything from Psych Pop to Garage Rock. A special round of applause for Wayne. Here's hoping he keeps on keeping on.



You can listen to and download the compilation here.


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Friday, 16 September 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 37



Welcome to the 37th Ten Song Mix. 33 minutes plus of aural excellence. Feels a bit Guitar Poppier than usual, but there are one or two songs that could never be accused of that. Ready to mither the five Mixcloud Global Charts that it qualifies for.

The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Thank you for your continued listening. The Mix is certainly more popular than we ever expected.

Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 More Kicks - Animal

02 Strange Neighbours - Whoa Is Me

03 Lannie Flowers - Where Did All The Fun Go

04 Steve Robinson And Ed Woltil - The Way You Love Him

05 On - Soul Killer

06 The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness - Old Pictures Of Ourselves

07 Affiliate Links - Blank Banners

08 Elvis Eno - The Last Time I Saw You See You

09 Rinehearts - Powerlines

10 Futurebirds And Carl Broemel - Sinz & Frenz


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 37



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On - On

 

Toronto's On have been compared a lot to Sonic Youth, so I was intrigued to hear their debut album. Live Reviews of the Power Trio have been really complementary and I can see the comparison, particularly Guitar wise.

There's also a likeness to the Grunge and College Rock of the 90s, but On are much more than that. Like most great Trios they are perfectly in sync, Lucy Di Santo's vocal is front and centre, but it isn't as shouty as this sort of affair can be. She also forms a pulsating Rhythm Section with Dan Cornelius. 



The drive though is the sound, built around pulsating grooves and riffs from Steve Fall. The danger is that that groove might result in 10 Songs that all sound the same. There is not a bit of that here for two reasons. The first is that when they slow things down, they become a different band without ever forcing the issue. 

Hereafter is based around great Bass Lines and comes across strangely as a Motown sort of feel. FLA has an almost Disco rhythm to it. and Try is a great ballad that really works. In the hands of someone like Garbage the Guitar Noise would have to dominate, here the understatement is the key.



Then there is the fact that the band can play and aren't stuck in one place. Amends begins like it is a Debbie Harry talk thing, but the song revs up into a fantastic Psych Guitar fest. Similarly Break You bursts into something Black Sabbath Guitar like.

Fall's Guitar also takes the excellent Underdog from a pacy almost Pop Rock song into something that Muse would be proud of. That is the absolute joy of this album, there is so much underneath. So much more to On. It may take repeated listens to discover this, but it is well worth the effort. I am really impressed and would to see them Live over here.



You can listen to and buy the album here and here.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Ex Norwegian - Standby (13th Anniversary Edition)

 

It seems like a lifetime ago since Ex Norwegian's debut album came out. That seems strange for someone who can't believe its over 43 years since the UK New Wave gripped me and forever established my love of Guitar Pop. You would think 13 years is like yesterday. 

But Ex Norwegian seem to have been with me forever and I never ever get tired of them. Every album is a joy and each adds something to their canon underlining, their pop sensibility and yet stepping in unexpected directions. 

We all get frustrated that our favourite bands don't get the attention they deserve. This is especially true of Ex Norwegian. They have a large following on Facebook and admiring DJ's who work for proper established non-internet Radio Stations, yet they rarely hit the radar of music fans that should love them.



This is especially true in the UK and Europe, areas and countries should naturally devour them. I've asked why and had a variety of nonsense. Oh I don't like European Bands (they are American), I don't like bands fronted by Girl Singers (Why??? and most of the songs are sung by Roger Houdaille) and I heard that they were Psychedelic Rock (Psych Pop at times but generally more Indie Pop Rock).

You'll notice that most of these remarks are assumptions, if only people would listen to this album and realise what a fine inventive poptastic affair that they are. Standby is as fine a debut album as any and amazingly the band just got better and better and still do.

So Standby has been lovingly remastered and released with six bonus tracks. What's more there is a CD Version that adds another 18 tracks of Demos and Mixes. The CD Package is the essential version as it is a beautiful package with a 12 page booklet including notes from Roger. 



The album also appears on Vinyl for the first time, so all bases are covered. If you've never heard Something Real you are in for an absolute treat, as Houdaille writes a perfect pop song and goes all Ray Davies on the vocal.

Fujeira In My Dreams is all Brit Pop, Pow3rfull is Garage Rock, Sudeki Lover is wonderful atmospheric Psych Pop. Dance Trance Pants goes all funky Disco and Don't Bother is a great 90s College Rock Anthem affair.

Yes I am a fan, but they are one of few bands that have stayed with me from their beginning. I don't want them to be people's little secret, I want them to be massive. This is as good a place to start the revolution. Inventive, melodic and worth the attention!



You can listen to the album and buy it in all formats here.


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Wednesday, 14 September 2022

The Million Sessions Update

 

Live Sessions continue to be sorted for the celebration of I Don't Here A Single getting its millionth view. There is one change in that they are likely to appear in November than October. We could easily be ready for October, but the one problem is that we won't have hit the 1,000,000 mark in the month.

A combination of real life work, volume of music in and general laziness meant that August wasn't as busy as usual numbers wise. The lack of content was all down to us, but it would seem silly to celebrate before we had passed the million mark. September has seen IDHAS flying and as popular as ever.

We envisage that we will pass the mark at some stage in November and then we will begin the self congratulation. October will most likely be the traditional 31 Reviews In 31 Days affair. Thank you everyone for your continued support.


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Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Affiliate Links - Enough Light

 

Ontario's Bradley Davis has spent the last decade in the Post Rock excellence of Fresh Snow, so maybe the last thing that you'd expect is the sound of his debut as Affiliate Links. Far from being the Instrumental Sound of Hamilton, Enough Light is more the sound of Indie Glasgow.

This is jaunty Dream Pop at times, think Daniel Wylie or Stephen Duffy and when the pace picks up, it gets very Lilac Time and a little Lightning Seeds. Lyrically , but you may not always notice that due to the sheer joy of the musical arrangements. 



The likes of Recovery Position and Baby's Changing even edge towards Pastoral Psych Pop, even Toytown in the arrangements. Yet Dedicated Organ hints at being a torch song that could be sung by the likes of Marc Almond until the summer Guitar solo.

Despite the base of Dream Pop, the urgency, almost waywardness and fuzz of Walk On Water is a real pleasant surprise. Then there is a completely different feel to the magnificently moody melancholy of  both A Message From Mary and A Message To Anthony which open and close the album respectively.



Hudson News is poptastic and Vestigal Stubs is absolutely hypnotic. Blank Banners is Indie Guitar excellence of the highest order. I really can't express enough how the variety and sound of the album caught me completely by surprise/

The song arrangements and instrumentation are outstanding and the such thought has been put into words that are almost poetry. There is such an array of different musical styles and direction without there ever being a distraction from the quality on show. Highly Recommended as a phrase doesn't do Enough Light Justice,



You can listen to and buy the album here


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Monday, 12 September 2022

Elvis Eno - A Startling Realization Of The Obvious

 

There is a lovely story behind the name Elvis Eno, the story is told on the Bandcamp page that I link you to at the end of the review. Thankfully it is not like one of those Facebook Fan Names such as Billy Lynne, Edward McCartney and Sandra Dylan.

Elvis Eno is the alter ego of John Dunbar, he of the fine solo albums and excellent The John Sally Ride. Dunbar has always been a talented Pop Rock songwriter with a sweet vocal that isn't a million miles away from Glenn Tilbrook. That vocal is still present and correct.



However, the songs here seem to be far more experimental, certainly more left field and possibly songs that didn't fit elsewhere. The result may be the best ever album from Dunbar and the most inventive for sure. This is the sound of Pastoral Psych Pop and when the songs are more straight ahead, that Psych Pop seems bursting to get out.

The stand out song is the magnificent Baroque Pop of The Last Time I Saw You which is very much like a Martin Newell song that has had money spent on it. But compare that to More Than A Little While which is a real 80s melodic Post Punk fest.



Getting To Know The Back Of My Hand is very Ooberman with a bit of Ooberon, the band that the Fletts split into. Believe The Liars is wonderful moody with a slight hint of Squeeze, it is haunting. The One Who Won is a wonderful trip and We're Shaped By What Did Not Work is great Wirtz Toytown.

There are nods towards White Album McCartney at times and there are definite Anti Trump in the song titles and lyrics. But the album is jam packed with surprises and unexpected directions. It feels Robyn Hitchcock at times. What A Revelation! You just wish that Dunbar would shout about his material more, he deserves far more than being influential musicians and writers' little secret.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness - The Third Wave Of

 

The collaboration between Dropkick's Andrew Taylor and Gonzalo Marcos of El Palacio De Linares reaches a third album. You know that anything with Andrew Taylor in it is gonna be good and to be fair there is a lot with Andrew Taylor in it. 

Through Dropkick, this, solo and his work with The Harmonizers, his warming vocal is always a pleasure to hear and in this and The Harmonizers work, there are differenet directions. The latter was a little more Americana and Country, The Boys With Perpetual Nervousness head towards Big Star at times. 



It is a more polished Big Star, but there is something magical when the material gently rocks out. Look Back is a great example of this, it is still melodic and harmonic but a greater pace and there's also a nice little keyboard addition.

Old Pictures Of Ourselves is very Del Amitri, wonderfully so, whilst In The Right is particularly Posies, again beautifully done.  Isolation is a lovely lovely song with a fine Country Twang and benefits greatly from the addition of Mary Lou Lord and a wonderful Psych Pop like jangle.



Old Ways is beautifully stripped down and aches splendidly whilst Out Of Time jangles along soothingly with an extended instrumental Outro. The album default is unsurprisingly somewhere between Dropkick and latter day Teenage Fanclub and there is something really reassuring about this.

There have been a lot of TFC references around in the past decade, thankfully these have slowed considerably as they were becoming as cliched as XTC mentions. However if one person deserves comparison, it is Taylor. The man is never involved in anything that is less than great and this album is certainly that.



You can listen to and buy the album here and here.


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Sunday, 11 September 2022

Mom - Fun 'N Games EP

 

Another band that has previously appeared in an IDHAS Best Of Year are Sweden's Mom. That was in 2020 with their splendid Debut Album, Pleasure Island. You can read the I Don't Hear A Single Review here. Since then there's been an interesting Covers EP and the Two The Beat single.

Now we have an EP and it carries on from where the album left off. Mom specialise in Power Pop that compares with the turn of the 70s US output. They are a little like a lower Fi Rubinoos with songs that are as catchy as catchy can be.



Songs are built on riffs and big hook choruses. To The Beat is included and that is a cross between The Beat and The Knack with a nice twang included. Dreaming is another fine example of the Genre led by a chiming Guitar lead, as mentioned previously very Rubinoos.

Now Until Forever takes the pace down, but works just as well and even edges towards Glam Rock and has a Cars like solo. There's a hell of a lot contained in Cindy's Pool, Stiff Records like in its earlier part, particularly the first Guitar Break Out. The second solo is extended with a much bigger sound and adds a false ending.



The Bandcamp page shows just 4 Tracks, but my copy has 5 with Scary Mary, which was the B Side of the To The Beat Single, included. You won't miss out on that as the two track single is available at Name Your Price. You wouldn't want to miss this as a crackerjack of a song.

The production seems a little bigger on Scary Mary. Yet again the song is all hook, chorus and riff but the solo is positively Rawk out. It reminds me a lot of The Speedways and that is no bad thing. If you like Power Pop, you'll love this and if you don't you'll love it too. 



You can listen to and buy the EP here. You can listen to and download the 2 Track To The Beat Single here. The EP will also be available on 7 Inch Vinyl in October via Snap!! Records in Spain.


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Steve Robinson & Ed Woltil - Shadow Play

 


Last year Steve Robinson released an absolute gem of an album, Swallowing The Sun. The album made the IDHAS Best Of Year and was one of the most popular reviews of 2021. For someone with a reputation as a Folkie, it was a wonderful poptastic surprise. 

The review can be read here. Previously in 2015, a year before I Don't Here A Single began, Steve had released an album with Ed Woltil, Cycle and that was similarly wonderful. Shadow Play is the follow up to that debut album and it is a joyful listen.

This is a heads up really as I've been fortunate to have a pre-release and the album is only released on 21 October. I don't generally like to review albums too early and usually when there are links up to direct readers to one or two songs.

Shadow Play is splendid pastoral melodic guitar pop. The quality is very high. Just as on Swallowing The Sun, Dave Gregory guests on two songs and his playing is as magnificent as ever. There will be a full review nearer the time, so look out for that.

You can read about the duo on their Facebook page @steverobinsonandedwoltil  You can listen to Cycle, the first album here. Steve Robinson's Bandcamp Site can be found here. Ed Woltil's Bandcamp page can be found here.


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Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Various - We All Shine On : Celebrating The Music Of 1970

 


I think many know my feelings about compilations. I'm not sure what they add to the lives of potential listeners and there are so many of them, most mediocre at best. However this month I am reviewing three, so in a big upping of myself, you can be sure they are good. All three are great and all for very different reasons, but this is the best. I was 7 in 1970 and so most of these songs won't have been on my radar unless I saw them on Top Of The Pops or heard them on the Radio on the odd time I was allowed to have it on. Only Indiana Wants Me and Love Grows fit that bill.

But as I got older, I looked back more and I can now say that I know virtually all of them. The strength of this compilation are primarily the songs, backed up by a great roster and John Borack who knows what he is talking about and John, I too would have loved to see Band Of Gold.Two other things spring to mind. A real sadness at the recent loss of Bobby Sutliff who Jangles up Indiana Wants Me wonderfully and what a coup it is getting Mitch Easter, a man who saved the 80s musically for me. 



As with any compilation, there isn't space to mention all 22 songs, so I apologise to those not included in this verbiage. Suffice to say, every artist and every song merits inclusion. In the words of Young Mr Grace, "You've All Done Very Well"People forget how great Lannie Flowers is when he ventures towards Country and what a twang his version of Walk A Mile In My Shoes is. Share The Land was a surprise and welcome cover and Popdudes always have the knack of doing a song justice.

The Brothers Steve do a wonderful version of Cracklin' Rosie. Fine harmonies and Jeff Whalen's vocal makes it sound as though he is in the room. Thankfully Sweet Caroline was the year before as that is a great song that has become completely done to death in the UK by TV adverts and crowds.It seems ages since I've heard from The Legal Matters and they do a splendid faithful version of What Is Life. My favourite version here is Starbelly's Reflections Of My Life, a fantastic song that the band seem to impossibly add to.



Diamond Hands tackle Lola in fine style with an ace Guitar fest and turn it into Psych Pop. Bill Lloyd's choice of Mama Told Me Not To Come is inspired and he too slips into Psych Pop joy too. I also still think that The Armoires' version of Yellow River suits them perfectly.Love Grows is still one of my favourite songs ever and The Test Pressings handle it in style. It is a song that suits Robbie Rist's vocals naturally. Finally there was a massive surprise at the end. I'd heard a lot about how good The Used Electrics were Live and in particular how Loud.



Well they rip into The Stooges' Loose. It is Wallpaper Stripping and just the right song for closing this special compilation. Well done Borack! Well done Spyderpop! This is one album that you'll listen to again and again and again,



You can buy and listen to the album here and here.


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Monday, 5 September 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 36



After a Bank Holiday Week break, the IDHAS 10 Songs Mix is back with our current favourite listens. Just under 35 minutes bookended by a great opener and a splendid closer. Ready to mither the five Mixcloud Global Charts that it qualifies for.


The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Thank you for your continued listening. The Mix is certainly more popular than we ever expected.

Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 The Happy Fits - Cold Turkey

02 Simon Juliff - Stars

03 Phil Thornalley - Hell Bent On Compromise

04 It's Karma Its's Cool = A Gentle Reminder

05 The Shopwindow - Eyes Wide Shut

06 Starter Jackets = Outer Reaches

07 Wooze - Bittersweet Timpani

08 Duncan Sheik - Unaware

09 Blake - Lost Ground

10 Cowboy Curtys - Derailed Train


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 36



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Day Wave - Pastlife

 

Day Wave is the solo project of Los Angeles's Jackson Phillips. It has been five years since The Days We Have and not too much has changed. Pastlife's core is Dream Pop, at its best when it gets chipper. The vocal is a little like Michael Collins's The Summer Holiday, without the soaring choruses.

This is all pleasant stuff and if you like Dream Pop, you'll find this sort of thing that you like. The album is at its best when it deviates from the template. See You When The End's near benefits from the addition of KennyHoopla who takes the song into a completely different direction.




The title track is great jaunty Glasgow Pop and Before We Knew is built on a great riff and chorus. Great Exceptions is a gentle atmospheric gem and Heart To Rest as a splendid twang. The stand out song is probably Blue.

Blue is moody and magnificent, it creeps along slowly sucking you in. It is great pastoral Psych Pop, not a million miles from The Orgone Box. There is a lot to like here without the album ever really blowing your socks off.

You can find out more about Day Wave here.


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