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Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Andy Bopp - An Andy Bopp Compilation

 

Andy Bopp enjoys a stellar career from his part in Love Nut, Myracle Brah and Alto Verde to his splendid solo career. Nick Bertling is a solo artist and fellow member of Alto Verde. Even more relevantly, he is a producer and engineer of repute and involved in far more than you realise with IDHAS's favourite albums, particularly with the Futureman Records label.

So there is no better match than Berling revisiting and reimagining a Bopp compilation. For my part, I was an early adopter of Myracle Brah and after those first two albums, catching up on Love Nut. An Eight album career made Myracle Brah the darlings of the Power Pop scene on two really influential labels, Not Lame and Rainbow Quartz.

The band were always a bit more than just Power Pop, true they were anthemic, but nearer the likes of Badfinger or a rocked up Jellyfish with a lot in common with Brit Pop. There was also a Beatles feel at time, particularly with Bopp's vocal which was somewhere between Harrison and Lennon.Much as though the MB years were, a testament being their continued fan following, the solo years have been far more inventive and satisfying. 




Bopp isn't afraid to take chances solo wise. He can do the straight ahead at will, but there are bigger hints at Psych Pop, inventive twists and turns instrumentally and unexpected arrangements. The man can still write a killer chorus and his Guitar work is still jaw dropping. Plus one of his best solo albums contained little Guitar. Bertling revisits 15 Bopp songs, 8 Solo offerings including a new song and 7 from Myracle Brah's output. The results are truly outstanding.

Myracle Brah wise, the songs sound as good as ever, but sharper and a little more focussed. Song 37 is wonderful Psych Pop and Eleven's chorus is still celebratory and glorious and I still think The Way You Are out Weezer's Weezer at times and you get the bonus of Simplified, a fantastic slice of Guitar Power Pop that only appears on a Not Lame compilation and deserves greater attention.




But if you haven't caught up with Andy Bopp since those Myracle Brah years, now is time to catch up. Shadow is pure George Harrison and Maker's Push And Pull is very Berlin Bowie. The other track from Maker is its closer, Lights And Saviors out of kilter with the rest of that album, it is pure Bopp in its melodic joy.

Minneapolis sound like an 80s Soundtrack's stand out song and Maybe Just Maybe proves that the man doesn't always plug in and can do sensitive. The new song is King Of The Day and is splendidly moody with an outstanding Twang. Proof that Bopp is still at the top of his game. Look out for the upcoming EP. Bertling has done a fantastic job here. As someone is always about the new, it was a thrill to be reminded how ace Myracle Brah were and returned me to the albums.





You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Ex Norwegian - On The Sidelines - The Albums 2015-2017 (2CD)

 



I hate the term "Best Kept Secret" just as much as "Criminally Underrated" Why would anyone want or aim to keep a fantastic band secret? Equally why use a term that suggests everyone is ignorant or hit out at a music fan's missing out. Ex Norwegian have been described as both, regularly. Without doubt, Roger Houdaille is one of the great Pop Rock songwriters.

People congratulate my taste at times which I baulk a little at. All I do is tell you about great artists, many ignored. I don't make the music, they do, all the praise should go to them. However, if you do rate my selections, I will tell you that Ex Norwegian are probably my favourite band of this century.

They don't make it easy for themselves though. The band name leads to wrong assumptions. Album to album, the direction changes between Psych Pop and Pop Rock, both being fantastic, but confusing the casual or potential listener and as these albums reveal, names like Glazer/Hazerr and Tekstet (Subtitled) conjure up thoughts of industrial electronica, Kraut Rock or some non English Language Indie Garage Rock.



Ex Norwegian though are fantastically inventive, have a pop sensibility that is hard to match and are a killer live act. Any band that counts both Chris Price and Fernando Perdomo as helpers underlines that pedigree. So on to these three albums which I look upon as The Road To No Sleep, a 2018 IDHAS Album Of The Year containing Making Deals which was probably the Single of that year.

Pure Gold has 7 Covers amongst its 11 songs, but this is no easy way out album. Rather like Caddy's last album, the choices are inspired and in many cases reworked dramatically. Tintern Abbey's Beeside and Jimmy Campbell's Close My Case And Move On are splendid choices. The standout is the cover of It's A Game, one of the great lost Power Pop singles and showing that 1977 wasn't the dying out of the Bay City Rollers.

Three Bonus Tracks accompany the album including an ace version of Todd Rundgren's International Feel. Glazer/Hazerr adds a Radio Session from 2016. The album is a wonderful example of lo-fi Psych Pop that would feel right at home with trends in 2022, yet it became more of an acquired taste then. It is really inventive in its retro aims, but seemed to confuse as many people as it delighted.



Tekstet was a return to Pop Rock and was largely a Houdaille solo album with Michelle Grand chipping in. I like it a lot, but it does seem a little haphazard without the usual attention to detail. The songs are fine, but it seems a bit lacking melodically. Any Old Time though is one of the best things ever committed to an album under the Ex Norwegian name. It could be suggested that if this album provided the direction to No Sleep with its big production and melody fest.

Three of the songs on Glazer/Hazerr were recorded by Houdaille's side project, Plastic Macca previously and those versions are included in the nine bonus tracks here. All three albums show the inventiveness and at times unique approach taken by Ex Norwegian. The band are taking on the world and the success of the Think Like A Key label as shown Roger's musical nous with a roster of classic and new artists. 

I have a real affinity with the directions that Ex Norwegian take. IDHAS may seem to centre around inventive melodic Pop Rock, but my life away from it is spent listening to Psych Pop, Prog and Indie noise. The band have successfully created a back catalogue of quality and variety on their own terms and remain an inspiring presence in an X Factor world. They deserve your attention as much as any and more than many.


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I have chosen one song from each album to give newcomers a small taste of what the band are about. You can buy and listen to the album here. The Think Like A Key label can be found here.


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Monday, 28 November 2022

The Move - Live At The Fillmore 1969 (2CD)

 

I spend most of my time writing about the new, but whilst being under pressure to tidy up the music room, I pulled out this and it brought back so many memories that I can't stop playing it. The set is still available at a really decent price on CD and download and you can also find people selling the 3LP version for around £27.Armed with a Record Token for my Birthday, one of the first three albums that I bought under my own steam was an MFP collection of The Move. I'd bought it on the strength of the three minute singles that I'd heard, but my eyes were opened by the much longer songs. 

The band's second album, Shazam was so different to the debut, it was like two different bands. It was only recorded post these shows and there was such a lack of new Roy Wood material for it, that the album's six songs contained three covers and so it became more of a mirror of the band's live set. With such a lack of new material for the album, it is surprising that the album turned out so splendidly. It is many Move fans favourite album and I can understand why, although the following Looking On remains my favourite and is in my Top 10 albums of all time. 




1969 was a tortuous year for the band, having already lost Ace Kefford the previous year due to his drug problems, Trevor Burton left having become disenchanted with the commercial direction of the band culminating in Blackberry Way, a song he hated. Even bigger tensions existed between Roy Wood and Carl Wayne. Wood had become tired of touring the Cabaret circuit and wanted to move the band into a heavier direction. Wayne was happiest playing the songs from the debut album on the circuit. Wayne left before the album was released and moved into cabaret allowing Jeff Lynne to join after being asked for the second time.

The Fillmore album reveals how heavy the band had become musically and is an absolute revelation. The Wood-Wayne-Bevan-Price were astonishingly great. Rick Price had replaced Trevor Burton and eventually followed Roy Wood into Wizzard. On their debut American adventures, The Move supported Joe Cocker And The Grease Band and Little Richard for four shows at The Fillmore on October 16 - 19. The recordings were gathered by Carl Wayne who set out to restore the recordings in 2003, but his untimely death the following year meant that the project wasn't. The Tapes were restored and remastered for this release.




The nine song set contains three Wood originals, a mind blowing version of the magnificent Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited, Hello Susie and a 10 minute version of I Can Hear The Grass Grow. The covers are inspired though including two Todd Rundgren Nazz compositions, Open My Eyes and a 15 minute Under The Ice. Tom Paxton's Don't Make My Baby Blue is rocked up Shazam style, Fields Of People which was originally a 3 minute single for Ars Nova becomes a 14 minute Psychedelic epic. The Brill Building is raided for Goin' Back and Don't Make My Baby Blue. There is also the bonus of 11 minutes of Bev Bevan reminiscing about the 1969 US Tour.

Rounding of the set are three repeated songs from alternative nights namely Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited, Last Thing On My Mind and Don't Make My Baby Blue There are other bootlegs around from The Move including the BBC Colour Me Pop set, but no other complete show exists. Many people will think Of The Move as a singles band or of the wonderful pop of the debut album, but this reveals them to exhilaratingly Progressive and is one hell of a listen. It also shows what a sad loss Carl Wayne was to Cabaret. Grab it whilst you still can.




You can listen to the songs on You Tube here.


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Sunday, 27 November 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 43



Better late than never. We stretch out in Episode 43 with 10 Songs in 40 minutes. A more rounded affair maybe, as we look to mither the Global Mixcloud Charts once more. Delight for your lugholes! 

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 Paul McCann - Divide And Conquer

02 Night Shop - Forever Night

03 Communicant - She Moves The Sky

04 Rob Clarke - Tik Tok

05 Dungeon Of Skeletons - Turn The Key

06 The Great Affairs - Fever Breaks

07 Sweet Teeth - Dont Be Afraid

08 The Pastel Waves - Dish It Out

09 Martha - Beat, Perpetual

10 Scrambled Limbs - Dancing On Your Feet


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 43



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Sweet Teeth - High Anxiety

 


Over the past week, I have listened to a lot of music and you will read about the results throughout the coming week. There's been a lot of great albums, but most have centred on more restrained songs. I craved something a bit noisier and I found it with Sweet Tooth's debut full length album.

The Swedish quartet offer up a wonderfully messy and chaotic affair that never loses sight of the hooks and choruses. It is also far more varied than you'd imagine. A heady mixture of Alt Rock, Noise Rock, Grunge and at times, Power Pop.




Sweet Teeth are splendidly up and at 'em. The best description I can provide is that they are a bit like a Punk band doing Power Pop. Don't mistake that for Pop Punk as this leans more on Classic and College Rock. Don't expect them to come up for air.

At times they are a little Wildhearts, even a much smaller Andrew WK, but they never lose sight of the melody. You will find yourselves singing the choruses whilst shaking your fist. If Lemmy had done Power Pop, it might not have been a million miles from this. 




You would expect IDHAS to pick out the poppier angles and both Love Panic and Compared To You are great examples of Guitar Pop.  Soul Sunday is built around a killer melodic riff and the title track is a real get out of bed joyful shouty opener.

There is also a wonderful closer in Don't Be Afraid which instrumentally steps into Crazy Horse territory. High Anxiety is a classic example of how music can change your mood and this will certainly liven up the ears and get you in the frame of mind for anything. 



You can listen to and buy the album here


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The Rubs - Dust

 

Chicago's Joey Rubbish is The Rubs and Dust is a top notch Pop Rock affair, almost a Now album, revealing the variety of a genre that used to be denigrated as throwaway pointless. These 11 songs cover a wide spectrum, but more importantly show what a fine songwriter Rubbish is. 

The range is really deep from the late 70s UK New Wave of What Did I Do and Waste Of Time to the Thin Lizzy (ness) of Hang On To Me. Including the cross between Psych Pop and Status Quo of The Same Thing and Merseybeat of When I Dream About You.



I Want You could be Del Amitri and the excellent Dana is reminiscent of The Motors. Here In My Dream is very Lindisfarne and I Don't Wanna Wait is very American 80s sounding. Yer Trouble even edges towards Glam Rock.

Dust is a winner on two fronts. It is a reminder of times past and offers a wondrous variety of different directions for a younger audience. It is deliciously melodic and glorious in its lo-fi-ish sound. An absolute gem of an album and highly recommended.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Night Shop - Forever Night

 

When dealing with grief and regret, the easiest thing for a musician to write a dark album as a confessional.  This can be wonderfully melancholic, but a hard listen. This year there have been two or three albums when the pain has been revealed lyrically, but in an instrumentally more upbeat setting.

Forever Night is another example and it is a wonderful listen. From the album title onwards, this is a sad album, but cocooned in arrangements that mean that if you were not a lyric listener, you wouldn't necessarily notice the darkness.



These almost chirpy affairs allow the more intense songs to breathe. The darker arrangements have a more Americana / Country feel allowing even more variety. Los Angeles's Justin Sullivan, for he is Night Shop, has provided a second album to remember.

His vocal at times is a drawl akin to Lou Reed or maybe even Mink Deville, but the material stretches far beyond that. Slow Dancing At The Weekend can be compared to Marc Bolan fronting an 80s Glaswegian Guitar Pop combo.



Let Me Let It Go borders on Glam Rock and the title track fairly stomps along, built on a killer riff. Indeed most of the songs on show here are riff led, even the slower ones. The End Of Time even sounds a little Bruce Hornsby or Marc Cohn at times.

Yet Just To Get Home is reflectively dark with a feel of The Band with its wonderful organ accompaniment and hypnotic riff. Then there is the magnificent closer, At The Opera, based around a jangled riff. It is an epic effort



You can listen to and buy the album here. https://nightshop.bandcamp.com/album/forever-night


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Saturday, 26 November 2022

Apologies

 


Apologies for the delay in Reviews being posted. It is a combination of real life work and the volume of albums coming in. It is usually busy at this time of year as musicians get releases out before everything becomes about Christmas, but never normally as busy as this.

I'm free for a few days from tomorrow, so hoping to get quite a few reviews up before the end of the month. I'm also holding back listening to anything that comes in during the next day as well as reading emails and messages. This will aid the catch up.

I'm also compiling the latest IDHAS 10 Song Mix which may appear tonight, but more likely tomorrow. Thanks for your patience and I will reply to messages asap. 


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Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Dungeon Of Skeletons - Patterns

 

When I Don't Hear A Single started six years ago, this type of Guitar Pop was pretty prevalent, but in the intervening years this has become much less so. This isn't to be celebrated and so hopefully Dungeon Of Skeletons flag a return to the better type of sounds that came from this genre.

The base is very much ace 70s Pop Rock. big choruses, melodic joy and a gentleness that adds earworms to a comfy high quality Pop Rock. The album reminds me a lot of Somerdale's last album which was an IDHAS Album Of The Year, so that is certainly a complement.



Whereas Somerdale have an edge at times, there is less of that here, but the Nashville quartet are superior at mastering 60s Sunshine Pop. Every song could be a single and the hooks are everywhere, aided by some killer multi harmonies. 

The Sunshine Pop sounds more California than Nashville, but is beautifully done and Justin Kline's vocal suits the material splendidly. When the band do let loose a little. such as on Daggers, New Wave springs to mind, even Glam Rock and that adds to the variety.



Song Of Love / Sun & Moon is very 60s and is a little Explorers Club like, but gets a little spacey in the second half and Nobody Cares, Try Again even gets into Monkees territory. I Tried And I Tried is a short closer with a splendid almost acapella vocal and a barrel piano ending.

Turn The Key is fine Power Pop and it is the likes of Gonna Be Alright (with its Guitar breakouts) and Valencia that will grab the Power Pop fans most with their toe tapping singalong joy. Doom And Gloom has been around a while and is as Carpenters as Carpenters can be. Patterns is a wonderful chirpy feel good listen all the way through. Highly Recommended!



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Scrambled Limbs - The Late Hour EP

 

After basking in all the Million glory, I thought I'd better get back to the music. Truth is I've been busy with some non music stuff, but I would say that wouldn't I after all the acknowledgements. So this EP should set us off nicely. 

Leeds based multi instrumentalist, Sam Denney-Rodwell teams up with brother, Ben for this splendid EP which is released on 9 December. Scrambled Limbs inhabit a world between two Pop Genres, halfway between Dream and Psych.

Both are done incredibly well and would naturally suit somewhere like the much missed Active Listener. For an aging Psych Popper like myself, Dancing On Your Feet is a glorious six and a half minutes and I'm gonna ask Sam if I can include it on the next 10 Song Mix.



It really is a joyous affair, part Toybox, part Orgone Box with a wondrous Bass Line accompanying some ace 1967 drumming and a far out gentle mind adventure musically. The other three songs are just as good, but don't stretch out as much,

Something Stiff is the the only track available for listeners at the moment and is built around a fine Glasgow like Riff that even strangely reminds me of Dire Straits. Scheme Like Snakes is more wonderful laidback Psych Pop with a wonderfully arranged double vocal.

Human Shields is a little more Lennon-esque at times with a wonderful soundscape that just washes over you. Lyrically deep , The Late Hour really is an impressive affair, right up my street as I'm sure it will be yours too. You can pre-order the EP here. You can get the whole digital discography for a bargain £6.


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Wednesday, 16 November 2022

IDHAS Passes One Million Views

 

I don't want to appear self congratulatory, but I'm sure it will appear so. I Don't Hear A Single has just passed 1,000,000 hits. Not bad in just over six years. Particularly for a place that concentrates on new releases from a limited field by new or under appreciated artists?

This is a thank you to the musicians, readers and listeners. Without all three, IDHAS wouldn't be here. It was only meant to be a small corner of the net to mention music that I like, a reaction to the people who constantly stated all new music was crap.

It started slowly and built up gradually. This month IDHAS will hit over 35,000 views and that is gobsmacking. The biggest compliment that I can take is that people like the music that I do and hopefully it opens the door to greater success for the artists.

Everything I Don't Hear A Single does is free and every review is because I liked the album, no other motive. I am fiercely independent and any help given to an artist away from here is free. It is hard enough for musicians to be heard, most make no money from music, quite the reverse and so why should I?

I'm not used to talking about IDHAS much at all. The music does the talking, but I did promise an aural celebration and I will now start to get that together. I've been caught by surprise by the volume of visitors this month. I expected to hit this landmark at the end of the month, so I'd better get my skates on.


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Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Communicant - Sun Goes Out

 

There's been so many great albums to tell you about lately that down time has been difficult to achieve and so the last couple of days have been heaven. Not having to write something up allowed me to just concentrate on listening without having to describe and so I could go to my default listening.

That is, more often than not, Psych Pop and what an adventure it was. I wanted to pick out one album for now, others will follow in coming months and this is that. Although it was released last year, I desperately wanted to tell people about it.

Los Angeles based Dylan Gardner is Communicant and Sun Goes Out is as good an example of how invigorating and inventive Psych Pop. It is a genre that is not populated by hippies messing about with backward Guitar sounds and Sitars. It is what it says on the label, Pop.


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Pop that can be played around with. Yes it reminds you of the 60s sometimes, mainly because people keep telling you it is from that decade. But, not too many genres give you the space to be as inventive whilst still majoring or big catchy choruses.

Communicant master the full scope of Psych Pop. Spaced out or Melodic Pop seem to come easy. Both She Moves The Sky and Come Down could be something by our beloved Orgone Box and it really is time that there was some competition in that department. Its been way too long.

Yet Feel Like I'm Dying reminds you of what you used to love about Tame Impala before it all became writing songs to dance to in a big field. Plastic People is wonderfully moody, maybe even a bit Prog at times. The Wheel is Film Soundtrack joy and Housefly is a mixture of Lounge and Mew.



Prisoner Cloud is all Austin Powers Yeah Baby with a touch of UK Beat. Fang matches a moody vocal with a cracking Jaunty bounce along Beat whilst still managing to drift into Psych. Sun Go Out is the big Brit Pop moment. Anthemic with a massive chorus.

It is hard to believe that the album was recorded in a bedroom. I hear so much stuff that sounds obviously so, this sounds much more than that. An album to listen to all the way through, it never drifts or bores. Highly Recommended!



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Saturday, 12 November 2022

The Well Wishers - Blue Sky Sun

 

This year has seen a revival of Power Pop from new bands. I suspect that many of the musicians didn't really know what Power Pop is or much about it until they were described as such. They have brought a younger audience with them as well as an appreciation of the more sensible older fans. 

There doesn't seem to be the baggage of comparing everything to Badfinger or Big Stir. The icing on the cake is now the return of what you might call masters of the genre, the artists who never needed to up their game, because they were were always at the highest point.

Jeff Shelton has been a massive supporter of the genre and in particular new artists. I do think that IDHAS has moved on from centring on its Power Pop beginnings, but there is still a major focus on Pop Rock and the playlists of Jeff's Power Pop Shows were not a million miles away from here.

This is the 12th album from The Well Wishers and Jeff Shelton is The Well Wishers. The last couple of years have seen Shelton concentrating on his Deadlights Shoegazing alter ego and it is like the return of a comforting friend. 



His History doesn't end there. Before the 18 years of The Well Wishers, Shelton was in the magnificent Spinning Jennies, a band that was very close to my heart. The 11 years there, coincided with my early 90s return to the genre and that band were a big part of my rediscovery of joy of the hook.

So you could say that Shelton is a veteran, but this is a musician that has never been stuck in the past, celebrating the new whilst never forgetting the past. Blue Sky Sun is exactly what you might expect from the master, but there are also few crunchier surprises.

If The Well Wishers are Power Pop then so are Cheap Trick and Matthew Sweet and there are comparisons to both here. The former on Idiot Smile and the latter on Who Lost That Feeling which even edges a little towards Psych Pop.



There is a wonderful Jangle on the title track whilst Serenade is great Indie Pop. Radicalized is a much noisier affair, more like College Rock with a killer riff and clear message. Blue Water is a great closer, a piano pop ballad, even a little Gilbert O'Sullivan, with a fine brooding Guitar Solo. 

Just Enough is built on a wonderful Riff. If you want a trademark Well Wishers song that is probably, Any Way At All, but Figure It Out Myself trumps that with its chorus which is very UK, maybe even Brit Pop. 

Shelton's gentle vocal suits his material perfectly and Blue Sky Sun is more than welcome return. There is a political message here which doesn't detract or take over the album and the pacier numbers have a splendid Indie Rock feel to them.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Friday, 11 November 2022

Hans Pucket - No Drama

 

The Book Of Stereotypes would tell you that bands from New Zealand are solely Singer Songwriter catchy gentle Guitar Pop or Dream Pop. We at IDHAS preach about not believing labels and Wellington quartet are real proof.

To describe No Drama as Eclectic wouldn't be descriptive enough. It is great intelligent Pop with unusual and highly effective arrangements. There is an Angular sound on some occasions, a la Franz Ferdinand, but the album is much deeper and far more incorporated instrumentally.

The Brass and String additions are outstanding and add yet another dimension. Yet the band are just as at ease in the Intelligent Pop of Hitchcock, Partridge and The Sugarplastic. The Square being such an example with harmonies that wash over you and sound that changes direction easily.



At times, there is a 70s feel,  a real Marc Bolan feel to Oliver Devlin's vocal on the You Must Chill accompanying a sound that is as Indie Rock as Hans Packet get. Misery Loves Company steps into Disco in a music that you can dance to sort of way.

Honey enters the world of 60s Torch songs with a superb string arrangement. Kiss The Moon is somewhere between Kevin Ayers and Lounge with a bit of William Orbit. Drag Me Through Your Heart is moody with a Cockney Rebel vibe, maybe even Bryan Ferry and some top notch Brass.

No Drama is 70s Pop Rock of the highest quality. What an arrangement! The album contains 11 songs that are different from each other, impressively so. Every single stunt works without ever seeming clever clever. There seems to be a maturity way beyond the band's year.



Then there is My Brain Is A Vacant Space is a bold opener. Built around an hypnotic riff, it throws in multi influences, Indie, harmony and even a little Russell Mael. It really is a crackerjack of a song in keeping with the pure invention impression of the whole album.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that Hans Pucket caught me completely by surprise. I also suspect that reviewers who skim a listen are gonna show themselves up. This offering has to be listened to from start to finish. It demands repeated listens. Highly Recommended!



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


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Tuesday, 8 November 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 42



10 Songs in 33 minutes. The usual Guitar Pop, but with a few more surprises than usual. From Modern Pop to Psych Pop results in a fine journey. Volume 42 feels a little different at times, wonderfully so.

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 Young Hearts - The Way Back

02 Dot Dash - Animal Stone

03 the black watch - the neverland of spoken things

04 Bird Streets - Machine

05 Limblifter - Haystack Rock

06 It's Karma It's Cool - Old Bones

07 Sloan - Human Nature

08 The Dowling Poole - Bright Spark

09 Raised On TV - Around The Sun

10 Static In Verona - Watch Me Explode


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 42



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Limblifter - Little Payne

 

It is to my shame that I am new to Limblifter, despite being a big fan of The Age Of Electric and still more than an admirer of the Mounties album that is still played constantly here. I consider the Heavy Meta title track to be one of the finest songs of the past decade.

So I owe a massive apology to Ryan Dahle and an even bigger thank you to my great friend, John Dunbar for pointing me in the right direction. This being the fifth album, I obviously have a lot to catch up on and will do that imminently, but first Little Payne.

Being down to a duo of Dahle and Megan Bradfield hasn't dulled the creative juices, because this offering is a splendid affair. There is plenty of the straight ahead Guitar Pop to please, but there is even more of the unexpected.



At its heart, Little Payne is somewhere between Indie Pop and Indie Rock, but the twists and turns take on so much more from Modern Pop to Psych. If you are hook driven you will love it, as you will if you are a fan of Muse or The Dowling Poole.

Subtitles is full on Prog, its even a little King Crimson and the wonderful instrumental Proxima Centauri B is a real magpie of styles, the majority of which is Psych. Everything Is Wow an experimental mix of Prog and Electronica, yet Dish is an acoustic strum until the Jazzy ending.

But don't be put off by thinking this is all more on the way out side. Combat Eyes is part Pet Shop Boys, Bottle Tops Off is great Modern Pop with a riff that could be The Police. Up For Walkin' is fine Indie Pop. Impulse Control is top notch Psych Pop. Watch Later List is absolutely epic.



Then there is Haystack Rock which you can hear on the upcoming IDHAS 10 Song Mix which is as poppy as poppy can be. Some may be initially confused by the changes of direction, but if there is a default IDHAS follower, they will fall in love with the album.

If you liked the Heavy Meta album, you'll similarly adore this, if you want catchiness without the repetitive, this is for you. If you are an Indie fan who wants to be surprised, ditto. Little Payne is an album to be listened to in its entirety, not playlisting a track. 

Except for Haystack Rock of course, which should be everywhere. One more thing, some of the Guitar work is awesome.



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


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Monday, 7 November 2022

Sloan - Steady

 

During a conversation a couple of nights ago, I was asked if I'd be covering the new Sloan album. The answer at the time was no. I am and have always been a massive fan, but the I Don't Hear A Single remit has always been to cover the new and the underappreciated. Sloan are neither.

As I thought more about it during the following days, I felt less and less sure. Sloan should be acknowledged for their influence and Steady is a top notch album. There's also a feeling that the band are close to the last man standing in the 90s Power Pop and Pop Rock revival that I like to affectionately label the Not Lame Years. 

The Canadian quartet are in an envious position material wise, four songwriters who take the lead vocal on their own songs offers great variety and Steady, as on all of their albums, goes far beyond the Power Pop label that sometimes is unfairly applied. 



This is Guitar Pop in all its different stripes and the band have broken out of their big fish in a smaller pond reputation and deserve a far wider audience. They are the sum of the parts, you feel the band wouldn't continue if a member left. Like minded individuals that aren't in each others pockets.

Sloan are beyond Power Pop with the exception of maybe Jay Ferguson whose writing is closest. One of his three songs here is the excellent Dream It All Over Again which has many of the traits, but is equally UK Glam Rock with its Guitar Solo and Handclaps.



Chris Murphy is generally the most active member in and out of Sloan and here he adds four songs. Human Nature is magnificent Badfinger Pop Rock with just a hint of Toytown whilst I Dream Of Sleep is jaunty Americana.

Patrick Pentland offers up three songs. Scratch The Surface is a little more sleazy New Wave than the rest of the songs on show. But Simply Leaving is a real weeper with a Glenn Tilbrook like verse and a more AOR chorus.


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Andrew Scott gives up two songs and offers a more earthy approach. There's a wonderful sleaze to his drawl on Close Encounters and Panic On Runnymede is the nearest to straight out Rock that Sloan get, almost Psychedelic at times. 

Sloan are the great survivors of Pop Rock. Outstanding in what they do and although you sometimes know what you are gonna get, they never ever disappoint. They cross genres without ever losing their trademark melodic joy. They say variety is the spice of life and there is plenty here to wish an even higher following for them. Tell Your Friends, you know they'll be hooked.



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


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Sunday, 6 November 2022

Dot Dash - Madman In The Rain

 

In an ongoing theme, when I posted the I Don't Hear A Single Audio Extravaganza archive episode on Mixcloud, Dot Dash opened it and I thought wow I haven't heard from them for a while. As if by magic, Hey Presto, a puff of smoke, then this appeared. 

After a run of six albums in seven years resulting in the splendid Proto Retro, there has been a gap of four years to Album No 7. Proto Retro was in the IDHAS Best Albums Of The Year. The then fresh Trio format signalled a move closer to Guitar Pop and that is nailed here.

The Washington DC trio sound so British, wonderfully so. This isn't a cat sat on the mat lyrical affair though, there is real wit and depth in the words and a splendid adeptness in the sheer poptasticness of the songs.



More than once, they sound like a happier version of The Jam, a similar trio beat without the venom. However, the opener, Forever Far Out, they are very prime time Dodgy, particularly with the harmonies. Yet Trip Over Clouds is a wonderful slice of 60s Group Pop.

Saints / Pharaohs steps into 80s Glasgow Indie and Lonesome Sound is really close to Merseybeat. Dead Gone mirrors The Housemartins and Wokeupdreaming reveals Jangling can be moody, an unusual approach that works so well.

Trip Over Clouds is a fine song with a driving beat that edges towards Psych Pop. Animal Stone is built on a hypnotic riff and some fantastic Farfisa Organ. Instrumentally and arrangement wise, it may be the best song on the album. 



Tense And Nervous is what you might now call a Dot Dash template song, along the lines of Unfair Weather on Proto Retro, it is a fantastic place to start. Space Junk, Satellites brings that latter day Jam comparison and then there is the title track.

Madman In The Rain is simply Top Notch, magnificently melancholic with a weeping Guitar Song. Unusually with the album, when choosing the three songs to embed that might most appeal to listeners, I could choose any of the 12 songs on display.

I seldom hear a trio so in sync, rhythmically, instrumentally and vocally. There are few bands that perform such jaunty pop and are able to offer up unusual arrangements and lyrical depth. They also couldn't be on a better label than The Beautiful Music. To say that the album would be Highly Recommended wouldn't praise it enough.



You can listen to and buy the album here. You can also buy it from The Beautiful Music label here


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Friday, 4 November 2022

Bird Streets - Lagoon


 

John Brodeur's first album under the Bird Streets name reinforced his reputation as one of the great modern Singer Songwriters. With the aid of Jason Falkner, Brodeur unleashed a beautifully arranged, lyrically adept self titled joy. It was No 2 in IDHAS's Best Albums Of 2018. You can read the review here.

If listeners felt that the first album was autobiographical, well Lagoon is even more sign. The lyrics reveal the effects of a divorce and general soul searching, but this is no misery memoir. The songs are much more buoyant instrumentally and arrangement wise, aided by a great selection of Producers.

The choice of musician guest appearances is wonderful. The likes of Aimee Mann, Jody Stephens, John Davis, Ed Harcourt and Buddy Judge can only improve an album and that they do. Aimee Mann's Bass playing on Unkind is exhilarating. matching a wonderful orchestral arrangement on what is am astounding McCartney Pop affair. 


Power Pop lovers will marvel at both Go Free and Machine with the Trio of Superdrag's John Davis, Big Star's Jody Stephens and Brodeur. Recorded at Ardent Studios, these two songs are the highlight of a splendid album, but they are more than supported by the other 10 tracks.

Disappearing Act is a magnificent affair, raiding the music cupboard with a big Brass arrangement and fine keyboard run. It sounds very Stax Soul at times. Leave No Trace is Psychedelic with Sitar on what is a big 70s Pop Rock ballad.

Let You Down has the potential to be an Easy Listening classic and The Document is so melancholic that it may bring tears, slightly Americana with a killer moody chorus. Burnout has a real 80s instrumental feel that makes you look for your leg warmers.



If the two Ardent Studio songs are my two favourites then Sleeper Agent runs them close. Essentially a Piano Pop affair with a big orchestral arrangement with a 70s Glam Guitar breakout. It seems a strange choice as an opener, but is absolutely stunning.

In these days of music seeming to largely be assumed to be worth little cash and reducing something close to a masterpiece to one song on a quickly discarded playlist, we may be able to change things. Because Lagoon is an album that deserves to be heard.

John Brodeur has a voice to die for and seems to have found his natural home in Bird Streets. A wondrous way with words, matched by a melodic know how is enhanced by unusual avenues taken musically. The album harks back to the days of queuing outside record shops for a release. Brodeur should be known as one of the great Singer Songwriters. It's not too late.



You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about John Brodeur and Bird Streets here.


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The Morning Line - Scene

 

November seems to be the focal point for the return of more than a few I Don't Hear A Single favourite artists, some after a fair gap. It seems a convenient moment to diss those who compile their Best Of Year lists in early November. I know some have print deadlines, but most magazines have an issue released in December.

Three years is the period since The Morning Line released the excellent North long player. The San Francisco quartet are sounding as great as ever with an album that edges more towards Classic Rock. This is a really strong set of songs from the pen of songwriter, Stephen Smith.



Smith's vocals have often frequented an area somewhere between Power Pop and Americana. Here there seems to be less Elvis Costello comparisons available, maybe a few more Tom Petty. His voice suits the material perfectly and the material allows the band to cross genres easily.

Scene marks a debut on the Red On Red label who are on quite a run at the moment which can only help The Morning Line get more of the attention that they deserve. The laid back West Country Rock feel certainly should appeal to many,



Looking Right At You has a splendid twang and Might Believe is built around a great Power Pop Riff that becomes an earworm on a song that is not a million miles away from AOR. End Of The Night, however, is classic Power Pop, 

This time round it is the slower numbers that grab you even more. Better is a cracking big Piano led Ballad and Back On Earth is wonderfully melancholic. Having said that the poptastic Junebugs In April is the stand out on a great selection of songs,



You can listen to and buy the album here or here. It is available on CD and as a download.


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Thursday, 3 November 2022

Firework Delay

 


I'd planned to get some reviews up this evening, however Fireworks have stopped play. It is Guy Fawkes Night on Saturday and I've no problem with this long standing tradition. I would prefer to see organised displays. It isn't a great night for pets.

The problem here is that people let them off well before, usually kids, but tonight seems to be something more organised. We love lurchers and Bailey is nearly three and full of personality and fun. However, the breed are frightened of their own shadow in a Scooby Doo way.

So its impossible to get anything done tonight as all efforts are on calming Bailey down. This means staying under a table with him or sitting in the spare room whilst he goes under the bed. So the start of November for IDHAS will be tomorrow.

I will put up some reviews and the new IDHAS 10 Song Mix tomorrow as time allows around real life work. I realise Social Media is dominated by Bandcamp Friday tomorrow, so I won't announce any on Facebook etc until that is ending. 

November has some great albums to come including at least three that have been embargoed and there is some really exciting stuff to come at the end of the month to celebrate I Don't Hear A Single's one millionth hit. Back to dog duties!


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