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Monday 31 October 2022

The Dowling Poole - Refuse


It seems like yesterday that The Dowling Poole released their debut album, Bleak Strategies. I was pretty gobsmacked to realise it was over 8 years ago. Since then, the duo have released some of the most inventive Pop of the past decade, genre crossing at will.

They have that attitude that many great intelligent Indie Artists have. They go wherever the music takes them, no two songs are the same, a blank canvas becomes an unexpected delight. The quality is no surprise, the pair have been involved in some of my favourite bands before uniting.

Willie Dowling was the driving force behind two magnificent bands, Honeycrack and Jackdaw4. Jon Poole was in Cardiacs from 1991, a wonderful period for the band. Both were also members of The Wildhearts. You see what I mean?

It can be hard knowing where to start with the band with the direction changes, song by song, This is particularly hard with Refuse's selections. This is a collection of the one off songs released as stand alones. Those nine songs are remixed and remastered. Then there is the bonus of two new songs.

Some of these songs were only available for limited periods, but this also an opportunity for the CD lover to not only get them all together in one place, but also on their beloved format. Refuse is also a fine album in its own right, showing the range and brilliance of the band.

Miles Checks Out is wonderful Psych Pop, very Toytown whilst Deep Breath edges heavily to Operatic Prog. White Light is Numan-esque, yet Bright Spark is a cross between XTC Drums And Wires period and their Dukes adventure.

Bricks From The Wall is great Modern Pop, but Fuck You Goodbye is Celtic. Push Repeat would be complete with backing by The Count Basie Orchestra and wouldn't be out of kilter on Spark's Indiscreet and still there's time for a poptastic chorus. 

The Hand Moved is ace 70s Pop Rock, a little Prog, even a bit of a Torch Song and Optimum Delirium could be something from Yes's Drama album. The only problem that I have is knowing which three songs to embed in this review. Any of the 11 would suffice. What an album, what a duo!

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about The Dowling Poole here.


the black watch - the neverland of spoken things EP


John Andrew Frederick may have an aversion to Capital Letters, but musically he seems to be in a world of his own. Few write similar songs, yet every offering has a wide range of stuff to admire. He surrounds himself with great musicians that add different things to the mix.

Gretchen's Wheel's Lindsay Murray adds velvet Backing Vocals and Ben Eshbach adds Piccalo Trumpet, yes that's Piccolo Trumpet, to the title track. Two of my favourite musicians are a bonus on a recording that I always know will never be less than interesting.

That song will be on the new album, Future Strangers, to be released early next year. It kicks off with a Peter Hook type Bass run and then mesmerizes for just over three minutes. Frederick with his Steve Kilbey like vocal, a vibe that is psychedelic, but changes into Psych Pop with Eshbach's contribution. Murray's vocal should be out of kilter, but fits perfectly.

The other two songs will only be released here. Precious little could be Space Rock, but also has a real Goth feel and Frederick's vocal is close to David Sylvian. It all revolves around a killer riff and Bernard Yin's Lead Guitar dazzles throughout the EP.

Living Backwards is the most straight forward of the three songs. The Riff is more akin to West Coast Rock and the chorus is as close to Pop Rock as The Black Watch are likely to get. Plus there's an outstanding hypnotic instrumental journey accompanying the second half that rounds off an exceptional EP.

You can listen to or buy the EP here. I'd also direct you to Mick Dillingham's comprehensive interview with John Andrew Frederick from two years ago here.


Sunday 30 October 2022

Futurebirds And Carl Broemel - Bloomin' Too


Athens Georgia's Futurebirds are a hard band to pin down. They are lumped in with the Jam Bands, more down to their live performances. They can be Psychedelic, but then there is the Pedal Steel and Country Twang. But that Indie Southern Rock vibe makes them too Rock for Country and Americana.

Their second collaboration with My Morning Jacket's Carl Broemel is an extension of the first, but seems even more focussed. There's a real laidback sound, almost melancholic at times, certainly moody. Songs at first listen appear to be off the cuff, but further listens reveal much more depth.

Buffet Days is a wonderful song and underlines the complexity of labelling. Starting as a piano led affair with a vocal drawl, but with added Country twang and a cosmic synth on the chorus. I make it sound complicated, but at heart it is a simple, yet beautiful, offering.

Sinz And Frenz has appeared on a recent IDHAS 10 Song Mix and the blend of Country and Southern Rock caught many's attention.  St Teresa edges towards a West Coast vibe with a big chorus. The Creeper is a bit Tom Petty goes Country and adds some great Vocal harmonies.

Bloomin' Too is not necessarily the sort of thing that riff loving IDHAS followers would go for, but it is a splendid listen. Too few do this kind of an album and probably no one as well as Futurebirds. The addition of Carl Broemel seems to have smoothed the sound. Top Notch,

The album is available to listen to and buy everywhere. Plenty of links can be found here.


Saturday 29 October 2022

Karma Gambit - When Does Rock And Roll Start To Get Sad


It is always great to see and hear young bands mastering Power Pop. The quartet from Asbury Park, New Jersey have managed that with an album that enhances the recent revival of the genre, but also looks back to the 70s in particular. Hopefully they can bring the younger audience to the party.

I am sure there will be many Fountains Of Wayne references from writers and DJs. That band have become a bit of a cliche for new Power Pop, as have Teenage Fanclub for Indie Guitar Pop. To me they sound much more like Farrah at times.

I say that because there is a real Pop Rock feel to the material at times. Karma Gambit are much more than a boy meets girl, I love you, yes I do. There is real intelligent and wit in the lyrics, which Power Pop cannot always claim. 

Saying all that, Cable Knit Sweater is a very Stacy's Mom affair, lyrically great with a catch all earworm chorus. Last Night I Dreamed is a much different affair is a real 60s strum along, perfectly at home in a 60s TV Show, Monkees like. There are some splendid vocal harmonies in the chorus.

Adam Bomb is another great pop song with an unusual structure and a little Punk Pop. It is aided an ace fuzz solo and an hypnotic twee synth run throughout. I'm In Love With The Sun is built around a great riff and a Country feel.

Kiss And Tell is 60s heartbreak pop with a wonderful twang and Hello Minnesota could be Simon and Garfunkel and Folk like. Kick In The Teeth is pure Rock and Roll, the pace is much quicker and the solo is very Scotty Moore. There's even a Little Richard vibe on the verse. 

Dorothy, Let's Go Home would fit well in a Broadway show with another set of fine lyrics. Aphrodite could be become a Power Pop fan fave and Straight To Voicemail runs it close. Matching heartbreak lyrics with a Busted like chorus and melodic Guitar solo.

When Does Rock And Roll Start To Get Sad is a really impressive album, The first four songs are excellent Power Pop and then the band seem to want to show you that they are no one trick pony. Top notch arrangements and vocal harmonies glow mightily.

This is mighty fine Pop Rock that deserves a wide audience. Hopefully the correct promotion and people giving it a chance by telling friends and potential fans about it will widen the scope. I have to say that it caught me completely by surprise. Highly Recommended.

You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also listen by following these links. The album is available on the Mint 400 Records label


Help Yourself To Help Yourself


I posted this in March and it is still relevant. As someone who largely concentrates on new music, I don't expect masses of info on the internet. But do not assume everyone is on Spotify, link places to buy and listen and promote yourself a little. A potential listener will not return when there is nowhere easy to find the album and read about it.

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.


Friday 28 October 2022

The Speedways - Talk Of The Town


There is a valid argument that The Speedways reignited Power Pop in the UK and progressed to hit the States to the point that any new band in the Genre are usually compared to them. It all seems like a masterplan, but it was nothing like that really. When I reviewed the 2018 debut album, Just Another Regular Summer, it was a complete surprise to my ears. I loved The Breakdowns, but I never expected to branch out into a solo career that stepped into my Pop Rock domain. 

The debut was only ever supposed to be one off. Indeed in that first review, I implored Julian to not let it be so. The album featured in the IDHAS Best Of 2018 and lo and behold, the following year, Rum Bar Records got hold of it for a CD Release that added five Bonus Tracks. The American doors were now opened. The follow up, Radio Sounds expanded the remit as an album that seemed more focussed, a little more relaxed and an upgrade of the sound. Just as good as the debut, if not better, there was one more important note. The Speedways were now a quartet. The album hit the IDHAS Best Of 2020.

In the meantime, the band were gaining quite a reputation as a live act. The quartet gelled into one of the best live bands that you will see and hear. It was as though lock down had never happened. So we reach the third album and wow! The first thing that you notice is the Production, it is big, I mean really big. Gigantic even. Dead From The Heart Down is a splendid opener, but you don't realise what you are in for as the album progresses. That opener is Power Pop and why not, the band made their name with their mastery of the genre.

But the more you listen to, the more you note that this isn't necessarily a Power Pop album. Radio Sounds hinted that there was more to the band, but the honing of the foursome has resulted in an absolute Guitar led masterpiece. Power Pop hasn't been left behind, but it is everything else that is most interesting. Julian hasn't lost his chorus strength, but at times Talk Of The Town sounds a little more American. There's also a Classic Rock adventure that continually breaks out.

Wrong Time Wrong Place has a twin Guitar blast that Thin Lizzy would be proud of. Strange Love is built around a strutting riff and A Drop In The Ocean has a real West Coast Jangle about it. A Song Called Jane And A Lie Called Love is angular yet a little The Knack and has a real plank spanking solo. Summer's Over has a real Blue Oyster Cult feel instrumentally and Secret Secrets edges towards Glam Rock. Kiss Me Goodbye is great UK Indie 80s Guitar Pop and Weekend 155 sounds so Dark 80s, turns into an urgent dramatic verse and then a trademark Speedways chorus.

Talk Of The Town is all Funk but still has time for another wonderful Guitar wig out. Monday Was The Start Of The Stars is even more of a Thin Lizzy Guitar assault and even has a Kevin Rowland like chatty intro. This is a band album. Guitarist, Mauro Venegas is heavily involved in the song writing on what was previously Matt Julian dominated. Bassist, Adrian Alfonso also writes a song, the excellent Taken (with an incredible Guitar solo) and forms a superb rhythm section with drummer, Kris Hood.

This is the sound of a band at the top of their game. The Guitar sound is a major surprise and what a set of choruses. If The Speedways started out as a bedroom lo fi affair, they are at the other end of the scale now. This should be the album that breaks them. Talk Of The Town is released on 21 November. Currently only the two tracks that have been previously released are available to stream. Both are embedded here, but don't really do justice to the full scope of the album, so I will add further tracks to the review when the album is released.

The album will be available here. You can listen to and buy the two tracks there and investigate the band's previous output. Matt Julian's various Demos can be listened to and bought here,


Thursday 27 October 2022

The Bordellos - Ronco Revival Sound


The 31 in 31 nears completion and the last few days have featured albums that are smack bang in the usual IDHAS territory. This has largely been because there has been a rush of excellent Pop Rock albums. However, I wanted October to also reflect, some of the non centric stuff that I listen to away from the reviews.

I absolutely adore The Bordellos. I suppose you could call them a family affair, but this is not Partridge like with a lets do the show right here vibe. The band are deliciously left field, an Indie joy that you have to listen to repeatedly to embrace their talent.

I've said many times that Brian Bordello is a Songwriter par excellence. He writes about the everyday mundane life in a small town and frowns on the constant nostalgia that inhabitants only ever want to talk about. People don't seem to go abroad for holidays because it's a bit far.

The lo-fi of recent years masks the strength of the lyrics that pour from his soul I've often yearned to see the band with a bigger studio budget and imagine the delights. So I'm chuffed that Metal Postcard have reissued Ronco Revival Sound. The 2013 album was from headier times and remains a superb offering.

In all this Indie goodness and songs that come from unusual angles there is still the incredible beauty of A Man You've Never Seen, a song that should get worldwide attention. Compare that to the organised cacophony and spite of Tattoo Heart. 

The title track is maybe the closest thing that could be described Top 40, it is a splendid example of what you could describe as the intelligent 80s Indie Rock that so few mastered. Fruitcakes And Furry Collars is wonderful Electronic Psych.

Kinky Dee is ace 60s Garage Rock with an attitude vocal, Weird K vocally is well in the territory of Cast. Nurse. The Screens! is built on an hypnotic riff and there's Temperature Drop. This album closer is an absolute masterpiece. You can imagine someone like Marc Almond wringing the heart out of it. It is a melancholic, brooding delight and may be the best thing that the band have ever recorded.

The Bordellos are never gonna hit you on first listen, the material doesn't aim for or expect that. Unusual arrangements, the gold dust of the words and the sheer inventiveness betrays the lo-fi of it all. A superb album that deserves the music lover's attention. There is much more for the listener than big choruses.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Wednesday 26 October 2022

Kelley Stoltz - The Stylist


Sometimes there are so many great new artists around that I Don't Hear A Single forgets the underappreciated part of its remit. One such example is San Francisco's Kelley Stoltz. This is 17th album since the 1999 debut, The Past Was Faster.

Yet he still seems largely unknown or ignored in his native country. The reissue of 2001's Antique Glow helped shake a few and rightly so for it is an exceptional affair. In fact everything Stoltz releases is quality and yet he remains a secret to so many.

He is seeming to get more recognition over here after a lengthy UK Tour in July, but there is a long way to go and this may very well be the album to slow burn. It is a real treasure trove of variety and seems to mark a step change.

Stoltz has always been a bit maverick and keen to invent in a very Indie New Wave kind of way as say Todd Rundgren and that may be why the quality of the songs are often overlooked. People notice the direction of the instruments rather than the fact that we have a classic Singer Songwriter in our midst.

The Stylist walks down different avenues at times. There is still plenty of evidence of the Indie 80s Pop Rock artist that loves the Pop of the 60s, but more targets are aimed at. There seems a bigger amount of keyboards, particularly synth riffs and piano led affairs.

In The Night is very The Equalizer 80s, but also seems to want to be Andrew Gold. Is There Anything Better Than This, Babe? is more than a little like Ray Davies with a new synth. You Had To Be There is Lounge and We Grew So Far Apart is splendid Psych Pop.

Wrong Number is Dream Pop, yet Plants goes all Berlin and is incredibly hypnotic and Wings gets Bowie and Belew. It's A Cold World goes all 60's West Coast harmony and then Steve & The Rats relies on just that one line. Change is a real earworm.


You can listen to and buy the album here. The CD has four bonus tracks that are not on the Vinyl or download. You can find out more about Kelley Stoltz here.


Tuesday 25 October 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 41

Number 41 feels even more Pop Rock and Power Pop than usual. 10 Songs in 36 minutes. The return of Mike Viola is just one of the many highlights. After Volume 40 continuing the excellent run in the Mixcloud Global Charts, we expect a similar performance from this.

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. Thank you as always for your support.

Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Drew Beskin & The Sunshine - Pear Plum Blues

02 Nice Motor - Heart-Attack

03 The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club - Every Night I'm Dying

04 Surf Curse - Arrow

05 Well Wishers - Figure It Out Myself

06 Static In Verona - Mayhem

07 Pete Astor - Fine And Dandy

08 Paul McCann - Lost In This Moment (Featuring Jason Falkner)

09 The Pastel Waves - First Ade

10 Mike Viola - Paul McCarthy

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 41


Nice Motor - Superior Street Sessions


Chicago five piece, Nice Motor offer up an excellent addition to the Pop Rock collection with an album that sits somewhere at the Rockier end of the genre and UK Glam Rock and plenty in between. In some ways it is an album of two halves, each as pleasing as the other.

There's a real Cheap Trick feel to It Came From Seattle which never goes the wrong side of melodic. Then there is Shine which would grace Top Of The Pops between 1972 and 1974 with its hooks and wonderful Glam Riff.

Those two songs underscore my initial description of the album, but the "in between" section is just as great. Trouble Song has a real West Coast Rock feel with a splendid weeping twang and a catch all chorus. Alright is ace Country Rock, gently washing over you.

Zombie Apocalypse also as a Country feel, although at a much greater pace. The Hardest Part Of The Game has a Blues Rock riff, but with a Glitter Band Drum Stomp and a Classic Rock chorus. Season is an epic 2 minutes 45 seconds, a growly vocal and wig out Guitars.

The real gem here is Heart Attack, an absolute pop classic that would grace any late 60s and 70s Pop Rock album. A  chorus to die for, a two part verse, that is slow then fast and a wonderful Glam Rock riff. It should grace many a playlist.

Dino DNA is top notch Power Pop, great New Wave with a fantastic Guitar solo. There is a danger that the album goes a little too much for variety making it hard to define what Nice Motor are actually about. That is in no way a criticism because they do everything exceptionally well. 

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


Surf Curse - Magic Hour


I Don't Hear A Single sees and hears so many bands that offer up brilliant Pop Rock albums, but know that their destiny is to still work day and in many cases second jobs to survive whilst the aim is to break even at best. For those bands, Los Angeles's Surf Curse show that their is hope.

Their fourth album is their major label debut and reveals isn't always a Guitar led genre that appeals to a declining audience. These four have a massive following. Nick Rattigan and Jacob Rubek add Bassist Henry Dillon and Noah Kholl’s on Guitar to both broaden the sound and the diversity.

The heart of Magic Hour sounds very second half of the 70s Pop Rock, a time when the genre was at the height of its popularity. Never more is that underlined than on the splendid Strange, a song that belongs fully to that period with its mellow effectiveness. 

However, the quartet use this base to expand the variety. Little Rock n Roller is bang on UK Glam Rock and yet No Tomorrows is moody and melancholic, a reminder of the likes of Jigsaw and Liverpool Express. The vocal on Randall Flagg is reminiscent of Nick Garvey Of The Motors.

Lost Honor has a killer New Wave riff throughout, but part way through turns into The Killers. Yet, Fear City adds a chaotic Sax to what is great New York Sleaze, almost a little Lou Reed. Sugar makes you want to March through the chorus.

Arrow is the single that grabbed everyone with its ace Power Pop and rightly so. TVI is another fine addition that starts all early 70s Strum and then blasts into something far more Punkier. But the real surprise is when Surf Curse go long.

Unwell is over 6 minutes and is magnificent Post Punk, a much heavier direction, without ever losing its melody. The Guitar work is wonderful ranging from noise to Classic Rock solos around an earworm riff and a Baroque Pop ending. What a top notch album! Highly Recommended!

You can listen to the full album on Soundcloud here and all the streaming holes. You can buy the album everywhere. You can find out more about Surf Curse here.


Sunday 23 October 2022

Dan Israel - Seriously


Dan Israel is back and sounding as great as ever. After the massive buzz around 2019's Social Media Anxiety Disorder, Seriously has a lot to live up to for the Minneapolis Singer Songwriter. Fortunately, as part of a crack quartet, Israel manages this and more.

This is a big sounding, beautifully produced affair that does justice to Israel's expertise with a tune. It is a little more mainstream Rock than we default to on here, but that in no way suggests a lack of big choruses and hooks.

Israel's drawl is Petty-esque at times, but also lends it self splendidly to many directions.  Taking The Fall is wonderful Acoustic Americana, yet the title track blasts out of the blocks, built on a riff that you know is gonna explode and so it does with style.

I'm In New York is in Ian Hunter territory in style and there really aren't enough Harmonica intros these days. I Quit edges somewhere between Rock and Roll and Country Rock and races along jauntily in complete contrast to the sentiment of the lyrics and adds a paint stripper of a Guitar Solo.

The Hang Of It has one hell of a twang and Set Each Other Free is a great male / female duet. Happy For Now opens the album with a Twanging Joy. Seriously is a heady mix of Country Rock, Folk and more Mainstream Classic Rock that works brilliantly.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club - Vanishing Point EP


It is fairly well known that here at I Don't Hear A Single, we avoid seasonal songs. The forced jollity of Christmas Songs, the I love You, Yes I Do, You Know Its True of Valentine's Day and the scary noises of Halloween are not for us.

The intent of IDHAS is for the older reviews to get attention and we use the likes of Google Analytics to make every effort to achieve that. There is something pleasurable to see something that was written a few years ago getting additional attention. So what's the point of covering things that have a week a year shelf life?

However, we make an exception with this on the basis that it is more Rocktober than Halloween and we do love The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club. They follow up July's excellent Please Stand By with an EP of four songs with a Horror B Movie Theme. The songs do stand up well on their own, very well actually.

TBDSC have always been at the rockier end of Power Pop and Vanishing Point is certainly that. Riffs at times hit you like Rush riffs, harmonies head towards AOR and they are not frightened by Fuzz, they define Pop Rock.

The opener, Every Night I'm Dying is an absolute stormer, it may just be one of their best songs and that bar is high. Killer Trans Am is all noise and fuzz without ever losing the hooks. Why You Ghosting Me Girl? is more classic 70s Pop Rock and again the Chorus riff just grabs you. Slower than the two previous songs but just as effective. 

Nightfall On Doomsday is where the Power Pop explodes out, a cracking slab of New Wave that rounds of a splendid EP. I can think of few who mine this territory and none as well. The Chicago quartet are masters at what they do.

You can listen to and buy the album here


Friday 21 October 2022

Phil Angotti - Once Around Again


People like to think that I know everything about the Pop Rock scene and I don't know nearly as much as I'm given credit for and here's proof. I completely missed this on its June release. I'm thankful to my great friend Nick Fletcher for pointing me in the right direction. Nick now lives in Sweden, I miss him and am more than a little envious of him not having to put up with the mess and nonsense that the UK has become in the past 6 years or so. 

Chicago's Phil Angotti could be described as a veteran, but that wouldn't do him justice as Once Around Again shows a freshness not usually expected on a 13th album. He has lost none of the pop sensibility that marks him ahead of the crowd. I've mentioned that there is a promising breed of younger Singer Songwriters reaching through, but Angotti is a reminder that there is still talent from the established. I rate him in the same way that I rate him in the same way that I rate Michael Penn and Jason Falkner.

The difference is that Phil has released new material, something the other two promise, but to date don't deliver. Angotti is chirpier than those two performance wise and has lost none of that joy, but he takes a slightly different approach on this album. Working with JK Harrison adding instrumentation and Blair Holmes on Drums, there seems more of a Trio feel and Harrison brings this out in the production, as well as adding some delightful String Arrangements.

The album ends very differently than it starts underlining the variety displayed. Mystery Street is a splendid storytelling opener with a haunting riff fighting to raise the tempo and it is eventually allowed to let rip. Compare that to the two songs that to the two closers. Masked Men & April Fools and No Words (Once Again) have a real Country sound due to the wonderful addition of Pedal Steel Guitar from Brian Wilkie. The latter has a fine arrangement on what is essentially McCartney Pop.

Shy Violet is more in line with the Power Pop that Angotti is more noted for, Squeeze like at times. Mr. Harris Tweed is great 60s Pastoral Pop, a little Small Faces, a little Kinks in style if not sound. Priscilla verges on Rockabilly and For Anyone heads towards an even jollier Roddy Frame. Eye For An Eye is a wonderful melancholic heartbreaker of a song, Torch song confessional in style. Out of kilter with the rest of the album with an ace String Arrangement. It is astounding.

There is just so much here to like and admire. Angotti's vocal lends itself to the chipper, even when singing something lyrically sad as on Better Side. I expected nothing less than great from Once Around Again but this has excelled even that. A shining beacon in a slightly dark world, music does have the power to transcend all and here is proof.


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


Thursday 20 October 2022

Static In Verona - Maybe Mayhem (Name Your Price)


2019 was the last time that I reviewed Static In Verona, covering The Loud Nothing. You can read that review here. Since then there has been an album a year and so it seems time to revisit Chicago's Rob Merz and I'm happy to report that he has lost none of his way with a tune.

Power Poppers will love Patterns (Speak With Me ) and Mayhem. The former is wonderfully Angular New Wave, whilst the latter is more straight ahead with a big Drum sound, not a million miles away from Doves. But then there is Dying To Try, same genre, but far more urgent and very much comparable with the better part of the 80s.

However, Maybe Mayhem gets even more interesting when it heads in different directions. Don't Worry Darling is synth led and moody, almost torch song like. Only Shadows sounds more like Scouse Pop from the second Merseybeat era.

Etcetera Ra Ra is great 80s Pop with a killer chorus and Watch Me Explode ventures successfully into Modern Pop with something that might even make even an old hack look at the current charts. The closing Causing Crashes is incredibly atmospheric, near haunting and certainly gripping.

There's less Guitar here than you might expect and that is what makes the album so engaging. You realise that the songs are memorable and don't necessarily need a middle eight. The choruses are really hooky without having to beat you over the head.

There is a laidback feel at time that eases you and it doesn't need crashing riffs to leave you enjoying the album thoroughly. The Static In Verona back catalogue is also at Name Your Price and it certainly is worth discovering more.

You can listen to and buy the album here. The album is available in full at Name Your Price as a Pre-Release until November 18 when it goes on all the streaming sites.


Wednesday 19 October 2022

Derrero - Curvy Lines


I have mentioned recently that the Welsh Indie scene is experiencing a fine renaissance. There are examples that we have covered and more to come in future weeks. Derrero have been with us a while, since the days of Brit Pop, although they were never really part of that scene, but maybe rode on the back of it as proper band gigs came back to the fore.

Away from the wannabe Kinks and Beatles lot of the period, there was a great pop sensibility around the edges and that is where the band resided. Perhaps not as directly pop as then, but probably even better in maturity, Derrero have released their new album and it is special.

The last album, Time Lapse was runner up in our 2020 Best Of Year 100 and the following year, Mick spoke to Ash Cooke at length about the band's career. That interview was very popular and could be the best ever of Mr Dillingham's IDHAS output. You can read that interview here.

So what of Curvy Lines? At its heart is gentle soothing Pop, tastefully done with plenty of the band's trademark quirks, subtle departures in individual songs. At times it edges towards pastoral psych pop, never losing sight of the melody. I suppose you could sum the album up as delightful.

Derrero haven't lost their edge, Numbah Wahnn is incendiary, a sort of Park Life meets Zappa and that continues on Salamander. Crease In The Flex is a splendid mix of Psych and Prog and Flex has a real Country Twang to it.

Leaves On The Wing contains some great Fuzz Guitar and High Side is wonderfully angular. But it is the gentleness that most appeals. It washes over you in a soothing satisfying manner that leaves you at ease and wanting more.

The superb piano pop of Ancient Names, the dream pop of Internal Dialogue with its ace synth run and the sunny skies, picnic by the river feel of Destinations Unknown reveal a band at the top of their game. 26 years on and Derrero are a band that just keeps on giving.

You can listen to and buy the album here. The band's back catalogue can be listened to and bought here.


Tuesday 18 October 2022

Drew Beskin & The Sunshine - Somewhere Sideways Same As You


When I covered Drew Beskin's previous album last year, I mentioned that he heralded a return of the intelligent Singer Songwriter. That album, Problematic For The People, was in the IDHAS Best Of Year, deservedly so. You can read the review here.

Since then he has been as busy as ever in numerous projects such as the Cowboy Curtys album, which I reviewed earlier this year and he now has a band and here are the first results of their efforts. It is a corking listen, would there ever be any doubt that it would be?

When a talented solo Singer Songwriter adds a band, it doesn't always work, it can be something way out to prove a point or normal business resumed with a much wider sound. This really feels like a collaborative band album whilst showing the best and brilliance of Beskin's writing.

The 11 songs were recorded across 11 individual days and the addition of Tommy Trautwein and brothers, Elijah and Gideon Johnston has provided a wonderful Indie recording. Melodic memorable songs that aren't afraid to take chances and different avenues.

The albums that I enjoy take unusual twists and turns, a song is never ordinary, unexpected sounds. The type of album that does just that. On first listen you think Wow that was different and put it on again. These direction changes never seem an obvious attempt to be quirky, they are just inspired. 

Pear Plum Blues is a superb out and out upbeat rocker with a hypnotic riff that keeps kicking in. Spoilers is jaunty sunshine piano pop with 60s vocal harmonies. The title track is West Coast joy, whilst My Time In The Country is laid back  70s harmonic pop and The Mystery Of Being A Boy is almost Country. 

Not If But When is an unusual opener, slow, low key, harmony laden not giving any indication of what is to come and Horror Movie Plot is splendidly moody, almost lounge. Lisa Simpsons Fangs may be a strange song title, but is just as gripping as all on show and has a great breakout ending. Somewhere Sideways Same As You is a crackerjack of an album. Highly Recommended!

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


Monday 17 October 2022

The Pastel Waves - Back In The Land Of The Living


Whenever, I think of Medway, I think of Psych Pop and with a name like The Pastel Waves, you'd expect this album to be the same. However, that isn't the case here as the Quartet specialise more in Indie Rock. In fact Back In The Land Of The Living's default is nearest to Brit Pop.

But there is far more than that on the band's second full album. The songs develop into much more, there are hints of 60s Beat, Madchester and even at times Prog. Rather than just look for big choruses, the emphasis is on the arrangements which take you into different directions, sometimes in the same song. 

These arrangements are big and give the impression that real thought has gone into each and every offerings. Rainy Days is like a cross between Scouse Pop and Folk-ish Rock, wonderfully meandering. The excellent First Ade, even sounds like it has invited Jon Lord into the studio.

Holiday Blues gets all jaunty in a second have of the 80s Indie way. Landscapes is more like a big 60s Ballad with a great pastoral vibe. Still Light is beautifully arranged, Joy has a top notch Bass line and Black Sheep would grace any Brit Pop album and also breaks into something splendidly Baroque, edging towards The Coral.

The stand out song here though is Dish It Out. A little melancholic with another fantastic arrangement and a top notch vocal from Joe Liste Romero. It really is a special song among many here. Indie Rock can get a bit shouty at times. There is none of that here, the album seems deliberately understated.

Both the production and instrumentation are spot on to allow a special rounded quality to the whole affair. If this is Brit Pop, it is a Brit Pop that I like. Not six repeated choruses a song, but thought, songcraft and a less direct method have gone into a fine album that demands repeated listens.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Sunday 16 October 2022

Pete Astor - Time On Earth


Pete Astor has quite a history and his song writing shows it. Not only was he the main man in The Loft, but he had the same role in the magnificent Weather Prophets. His solo album career is now in double figures and he is a Senior University Lecturer in music. 

The album is dedicated to the much missed, Pat Fish and there is plenty of reflection on loss. Looking to the future, but seeing your peers and friends pass on seems the theme and I certainly feel those sentiments too. I am about now, but your age and death does make you look back nostalgically.

I can think of no better label to be on than Tapete, a German label, that has built quite a roster of intelligent British Artists, thinkers if you like and Astor is certainly a thinker. The songs give the impression that we've all been invited round to his place to discuss the important topics and listen to his latest songs.

Astor has brought together quite a band for his first album of new songs in five years. The supporting trio have been staples of the UK Music scene for over three decades, Neil Scott on Guitar, Andy Lewis on Bass and particular IDHAS favourite, Ian Button on Drums. The music within is magnificently atmospheric as you listen to Astor's thoughts like essays from the heart.

His voice is gentle and rich, never intrusive nor dull. At times there is almost a lounge feel to the charms within. There is a particularly wonderful Bass sound. Stay Lonely is a great example of Astor's storytelling and Undertaker is a deeply moving song with double tracked vocals and a haunting riff. Soft Switch even has a Folk vibe.

But Time On Earth is never earnest. There are wonderful jolly synth riffs on both the splendid New Religion and the title track. Sixth Form Rock Boys is very Luke Haines. Then there is a big surprise to close, Fine And Dandy, a corking pop song that may just be the best thing that you'll hear all year. Highly Recommended!

You can buy the album on CD and Vinyl at all good record shops. The download is available here.


Saturday 15 October 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 40

This week, the IDHAS 10 Song Mix is brought to you by the number 40. 10 Songs in 32 minutes. Highlights include one of the most talked about bands at the moment, Librarians With Hickeys. the welcome return of The Morning Line and a track from the posthumous album of Big Big Train's David Longdon. All are ready to mither the Mixcloud Global Charts. 

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. Thank you as always for your support.

Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Rob Moss and Skin-Tight Skin - Rock 'n' Roll Ralphs

02 Librarians With Hickeys - Ghost Singer

03 Outtacontroller - Time To Crash

04 The Morning Line - Junebugs In April

05 The Clockworks - Endgame

06 Cold Expectations - Hey Compromise

07 David Longdon - Watch It Burn

08 Chris Lund - Every Thing Is Fine

09 Crossword Smiles - Feet On The Ground

10 The Dowling Poole - Bricks From The Wall

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 40


Friday 14 October 2022

The Dead Century - The Well (Updated)


It seems ages since I've reviewed a band from Minneapolis. It's probably not, but it does take me back to the Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic days. The mini album also gets the seal of approval of my other half, Tez. She has to be a passive listener to a lot of stuff, rarely does she comment, but she is raving about Exit On An Inner State. 

The Well isn't necessarily the type of album I cover here. Not because it isn't great, it is, but it is perhaps a little more mainstream rock than we cover. IDHAS tends to lean more towards the poppier side of things, but this album is such a fine listen that it demands a review.

The Dead Century are an Indie Rock quartet and they specialise in wonderfully constructed storytelling songs. It is very American, at times maybe a little Southern Rock without the never ending instrumental interludes. You find your toes tapping with the songs built on big choruses, addictive riffs and excellent Guitar Solos that never out stay their welcome.

You'll have heard Enough To Get You Killed on a recent IDHAS 10 Song Mix and it is a cracking opening blast. The aforementioned Exit On An Interstate is as catchy as catchy can be and definitely a great intro for new listeners. It becomes a real earworm.

Realign gets close to Power Pop and Soft Focus even gets a little Country Rock. Miss Me In The Dark slows things down in a melancholic moody way and is built on a haunting riff. The standout song here though is November 12 2013.

It is a real story in a song, one of those songs that leave you wanting you to know more about the outcome. All six songs here engage you thoroughly. The Well is a belting listen that convinces me that The Dead Century will have a long career. Highly Recommended!

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


Librarians With Hickeys - Handclaps & Tambourines


The new album from Librarians With Hickeys has been eagerly awaited by many of my peers for quite a while which is quite unusual for a Pop Rock album. Certain Reviewers just want to be the first to get an album or the first to review it, but generally the buzz starts much closer to the release. So what makes this band and album different?

I will try and tell you. There is nothing ground breaking in what they do, they just do it so well. In a genre that can try to bewitch you with Beach Boys style harmonies or offer up riff after riff to rock your socks off, the band just concentrate on writing and performing great songs. Bit by bit they gently grab you and you find yourself washed away in a soothing river of wonderful melodic tunes.

Teenage Fanclub's recent output has the same effect, even though LWH are nothing like them really. The quartet give the impression of having been around forever. You have to convince yourself that is only their second album.

A song like When We Were Young is so worldly, but so beautifully done. Ghost Singer is one of the songs of the year, very West Coast 1967 with a splendid Jangle and a Byrds like chorus. Handclaps & Tambourines offers up a fair bit of Jangle, but unlike other bands they don't rely on similar-ish songs to display it. Often it is understated as much of the material here.

I Better Get Home is all Farfisa with overtones of Psych Pop, yet is still essentially UK Beat Pop. Lady Overdrive is probably the noisiest they get and is very New Wave 1979, yet I Can't Stop Thinking About You is very Carnaby Street. The Last Days Of Summer comes close to Baroque Folk with some fine Violin, courtesy of The Armoires' Larysa Bulbenko.

It is slightly unfair to single one person out as the band arrange and perform so well together and are such a collaborative team, but Ray Carmen's vocals are top notch. Handclaps & Tambourines is an album to be listened to from start to finish and I guarantee that your day will feel better.

You can listen to and buy the album here


Wednesday 12 October 2022

Chris Lund - Indian Summer


Chris Lund's first solo album, Great Event Syndrome was great so this follow up had a lot to live up to and it raises the bar even higher. More noted for a long career in the Lund Bros with brother, Sean, Lund has fashioned up a solo record in every sense of the word.

He plays everything and the biggest compliment you could pay Indian Summer is that you wouldn't be able to tell. This sounds like a group album, essentially Pop Rock, but leaning towards Classic Rock, although there are so many twists and turns that it would be churlish to describe it as such. 

The genre is normally noted for being formulaic and this album is no such thing. Songs take unusual directions, sometimes there are three songs in one. Take for instance, Guarantee is very Paul Rodgers in the verse, but turns in a Psych Pop section, then goes all Glam Rock and this is just one song of 11.

Everything Is Fine is more than a little Cheap Trick, Indian Summer is Glam Rock, but at times it reminds me a little of a more straight ahead Chris Church. Down The Line sounds more 70s, but there is an overriding Hair Glam feel too. It is so good that it gets a deserved reprise at the end.

Killing Kindness would grace any 70s Pop Rock album and you are reminded what a great guitarist, Lund is. The Guitar intro to Mary Jane just rocks your socks off you and dominates a wonderfully noisy affair even adding a Van Halen-esque solo.

Indian Summer is the type of album that doesn't seem to be made any more, a sort of update of those splendid Rock albums of the 70s and 80s. There seems to be a waning of people listening to albums now, playlists are the preference. This offering underlines the joy of listening to the format. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Tuesday 11 October 2022

The Beths - Expert In A Dying Field


The Beths are a much bigger band than we generally cover on I Don't Hear A Single. That is not to denigrate those who appear, but few have 24,000 Facebook followers and what we are about is making the new and underappreciated that little more known. Many move onto bigger and better things and get support from bigger places than our little homestead here.

The New Zealand quartet offer their much anticipated third album and it is a cracker. I don't normally read other reviews before I write. I only look at the PR for details on the band, not the bits where I'm told that the band invented music. Usually there aren't too many about to compare, but that is different with the coverage that The Beths get.

I was a bit dismayed when I read a host of the reviews. There is no doubt whatsoever that Elizabeth Stokes is a magnificent songwriter, able to express in words about her thoughts and emotions. I also knew the album was about a breakup because the PR told me so, but that is where all these reviews became tedious.

Virtually every written piece explored every song to show how the song underlined the feeling of a broken relationship. That's fine as a general review, but song by song??? I want primarily to know about what writers think about the song and the album, you know, the music. I don't want to read the thoughts of an amateur Psychologist or even worse, how you were affected by something similar.

I was especially interested in the songs as I have to express a slight disappointment with the last album, Jump Rope Gazers. It was far better than most around, but it seemed darker and slower meaning the joy of that debut album was hidden.

Indie is still very male dominated and so a female fronting a band gets ridiculously judged on her appearance and attitude. Such bands are expected to be fronted by someone too shouty or too dreamy and twee. Males are just not judged in the same way.

Thankfully, Expert In A Dying Field is back at what The Beths do best. Despite the lyrical soul searching, there is a real feel good vibe to the music and the variety is enormous. The opening title track is a monster of a song. Stokes sounds like a folk singer in a Rock band on a number that is far more restrained than openers usually are.

If The Beths were a Power Pop band they would have dove in with the Head In The Clouds. an up and at 'em affair. The fact that the band went with something more restrained tells you all you need to know about them.

When You Know What You Know has a splendid jangle to it, whilst 2 AM is wonderfully atmospheric and moody, big sounding and has a gentle Psych vibe about it. Silence Is Golden has a real Indie, almost Punk, feel to it and Knees Deep is all angular with probably the best chorus on show here. 

A special mention must be made for I Want To Listen a really poptastic joyful affair showing that if you want Pop, then The Beths can provide it. There are also some fine arrangements, unusual at time, understated when they need to be, but ready to burst out at any given opportunity.

This is also proof that The Beths are not just about one person. The singer will always get the bulk of the attention, especially when she writes the lyrics, but this band are a sum of their parts and some of the accompanying Backing Vocals are top notch. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here.