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Wednesday, 19 January 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 19

The first 10 Song Mix of 2022 and it covers our 10 favourite songs this week. Running the full gamut of Pop and Rock and everything in between. In the meantime, the year is closed with these 10 songs in just under 37 minutes.

The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Best Coast - Everything Has Changed

02 Great Lakes - Way Beyond The Blue.

03 The Mommyheads - Amnesia Collective

04 Glowbox - Jazz Town

05 The Toms - Daylight Wasting Time

06 The Warp, The Weft - It May Not Always Be So

07 Bridge Dog - (Don't) Call Me Out

08 The Confusions - Weight Of The World

09 Empty City Squares - History Rhymes

10 The RG's - Divided

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 19


Monday, 17 January 2022

Empty City Squares - The Disappearing Architect


Empty City Squares last album, 337, was Pop Rock gold. It justifiably was in the Top 20 of I Don't Hear A Single's Best Of Year and you can read the IDHAS Review here. Whereas that album was recorded over a 7 year period, this follow up was recorded in a much shorter time frame.

So could New York's John Fotiadis keep up that quality? The answer is definitely yes, although the territory is slightly different to 337. Whereas that album was centrally Brit Pop, The Disappearing Architect feels and sounds far more 70s Pop Rock.

This is all fine and dandy. Done well, this genre can provide great melodic pop, although the territory is getting more and more crowded lately. It is also interesting that one of the best songs here is the only one that you could really label Brit Pop.

History Rhymes is four minutes of top notch 90s Guitar Pop, an absolute joy, but that isn't to downgrade the other 13 songs that surround it. There are some really interesting departures. For instance, Miss Ambition is great 90s Power Pop.

Letter To A Friend is an interesting almost Indian tableau and Sacrificial Lambs is in Alan Parsons Project territory and even a little Psych Pop at times. The title track is very very Andrew Gold and I'm reminded of Gold a lot across the album, ditto 10CC.

I Go Inside is a splendid meandering closer, beautifully arranged. Hail To The Cheato, the lead single still sounds as great as ever. The album is wonderfully melodic,  a seemingly gentler affair than 337, but this works beautifully allowing a laidback joy to the whole album.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Tuesday, 11 January 2022

The Toms - Tomplicated


Tommy Morolda will be forever remembered for that 1979 debut album and I fully understand that to a point. The self titled album from The Toms is one of the great Guitar Pop albums, it unleashed a lot that followed it and few realised that it was just one man behind it.

Considering it was 1979, recorded over a weekend in a home studio and the technology available at the time, all the applause is more than deserved. But Morolda hasn't been idle since, indeed he has been involved with plenty of high profile artists and now we have a new album and its great.

It does sound a bit 1979, but that's no drawback, far more than a handful have and continue to build careers on similar material. But what they don't have is the inventiveness and sheer hooks and arrangements that is present here.

Contained within Tomplicated are journeys into Power Pop, Psych Pop, New Wave and more genres that end with Pop, while essentially being very Beatles 1978 based. Beginners should go straight to the title track to get a feel of what Marolda is about and progress from there. 

It is a wonderful song and my only complaint is that it ends too soon. There are loads of similar treats such as the Toytown Beat Pop of You Shot Me Out Of Your Canon and the 70s Pop Rock of Marathon. Whatever has a wonderful arrangement.

Hang On could be Jigsaw, The World Is Flat is in Orgone Box territory and Sunday Clothes is great California Pop. Daylight Wasting Time is an a storming slab of 60s Psych Pop and Three is bass driven Glam Rock of the highest order that turns into Jeff Lynne Psych.

16 songs is a lot of material, yet the quality and listening pleasure never ever drops. Special mention too to Futureman Records who have had another storming year. Tomplicated is a wonderful listen and others who do roam in this territory could learn a thing or two about originality.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Monday, 10 January 2022

the black watch - Here & There


Mick did one of his excellent IDHAS Interviews with John Andrew Frederick last year and it was a really interesting read. His influences were not what you might expect and I've always felt it wrong to continually compare the black watch with the Indie brigade of the late 80s.

There is far far more to Frederick than that and this comparison frustratingly continues though the 20 albums thus far. Albums that reveal a curiosity and ambition seldom seen this far in a career. He seems unwilling to look back and though not everything hits the spot. most of it is not far off.

This current line up could very well be the best one yet and his continued work with guitarist Andy Creighton is really paying dividends. I've always been a big admirer of Creighton and two of them suit each other down to the ground.

The two are joined here by Kip Boardman and Misha Bullock to form the quartet. Here & There is particularly special for me due to the inclusion of two other talents. Ben Eshbach does the strings and those who know me know that my love of The Sugarplastic remains unchecked. The Backing Vocals are from Gretchen's Wheel's Lindsay Murray who has the voice of an angel. 

I've always felt that the black watch were more of a cross between something involving Mitch Easter and The Church than the My Bloody Valentine mentions and this album is more proof than ever. I defy anyone to write a song as beautiful as Dream Slow, the riff is just splendid.

Yet compare that to the driving The Real You and you'll note how the variety here is the key. What You Will is something approaching shoegazing 90's Psych, yet Lora, Not A Day Goes By That I Don't Very Wonder How You Are is as close to Steve Kilbey that you are ever gonna get without being him with a killer Fuzz solo.

A Day In Pompei is Psych Prog, if there is such a thing. I'm sure there must be. The one thing in common here is the way that songs are built on riffs, it doesn't matter which instrument, all of them have incredible hooks. Never ordinary, the black watch are beyond most of the supposed new breed. In their fourth decade, they still sound fresh and new.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Action City - This Is Action City


Whenever I think of Winston-Salem, like many others I think of Mitch Easter and why not? The man literally saved us from the dressing up nonsense of the Eighties. Well! Michael Slawter is noted for Heyday Guitars in the city. Not only that, but Slawter is also a fine solo artist.

His last album, Last Call for Breaking Hearts, was included in the IDHAS Best Of 2018. Action City are a duo consisting of Michael and Shawn Lynch. Shawn is a member of the trio Balderdash. Ltd with Chris Garges and Mitch Easter as well as a member of The Eyebrows.

The 10 songs here are a fine selection of Guitar Pop and all of its avenues. At times I'm reminded a lot of Chris Church, particularly on In My Finest Hour. When Action City rock, the certainly rock, especially on Stay (Tiny Love Song) which has an 80s Rush like feel on the verse.

Elsewhere the duo's versatility shines through across Surf (The Blame), Power Pop (Beside Me) and Psych Pop (The Lines You Blur). The latter is a corking tune, top notch in fact. Very 60s, very Jangly with a killer Guitar Solo, it ticks all the boxes. 

Him Or Me is great UK New Wave and the closer, Here Comes The Saviour has a meandering Baggy direction. The only one thing I couldn't take to was the drum sound, it seems a bit too high up in the mix. However This Is Action City is a splendid listen. I can't wait for more.

You can listen to and buy the album from the wonderful Futureman Records here.


Thursday, 6 January 2022

Spygenius - Blow Their Covers


Normally, I make a quick exit when I hear the words cover album, but remember this is Spygenius and nothing is ever "the normal" with the Canterbury gang. So you are not gonna get a cliched selection of songs. When I first heard of the plan to release this, I thought wow that is gonna be one hell of a Psych Pop treat.

Then when I thought about it, I thought no, the band's influences are much wider than that and if anything they are a band much closer to Robyn Hitchcock and even more so, The Soft Boys. So yes, there is a Soft Boys cover. It is Queen Of The Eyes and it is so fab that it is the lead single.

However, this is no Indie Psych Pop joyride, the song selection and the variety in Spygenius don't allow it to be. Squeeze's Is That Love, one of my own favourite songs, gets a fairly faithful rendition, although with a slight Toybox twinge. Top Marks too for an inspired cover of Big Stir label mates, Plasticsoul's Therapy, Pop Rocking up a complete mood change to the song. 

They also make Rock n Roll Women their own and yes there is a (Lennon And) McCartney song, but it was written for Cilla and is an unexpected inspired choice. Add in covers of The Monkees, Gene Clark and Traffic and you'll note the variation.

But this isn't where it ends. You would always expect Spygenius to throw in something out of kilter and they do it thrice here. Murrumbridge Whalers is a sea shanty, recorded before it became hip, Griselda is wonderfully wacky and weird.

But the top award goes to a barmy version of Madness's Michael Caine, it is awesome. Having said that, it is wonderful to hear Kelly's Heels' Please Stop Talking. It is absolutely mastered here and a song I haven't played for so long. The harmonies of all four band members make these songs even more terrific too. You can call this a cover album, but I think it stands up on its own two feet.

You can listen to and buy the album on either the Big Stir or Spygenius Bandcamp sites. You can also buy it on the Big Stir and Spygenius websites.


The Junior League - Bridge And Tunnel


It's hard to believe that it is over 15 years since The Junior League's Catchy, an album that I never fail to rabbit on about. Thankfully Joe Adragna is still around and just as great. His last album, Adventureland, was in the IDHAS Top 10 albums of 2019.

So, I would expect nothing but ace for Bridge And Tunnel, Adragna has set high standards career wise and that bar keeps getting higher and higher. This album sounds less 80s than Adventureland, although the odd keyboard run still reminds me of that decade.

Generally, the mood is really laid back, Adragna's voice does lend itself to that mode, but there is still plenty of variety. Not My Time even hits the smooth soul of the second half of the 70s and Storyteller channels Tom Petty as one track per album seems to. It is wonderfully moody. 

Turn Off The Lights is great late 60s / early 70s trippy Pop Rock and The Sunshine Saves Everyone is fine West Coast Pop Rock, maybe a bit Yacht Rock-ish with a great twang. Library Bar reminds me of those great UK Pop Rock acts of the 70s, Jigsaw, Liverpool Express etc.

54 has a haunting Duane Eddy twang on a song that comes across as a sort of American latter day 10CC. Lirr is a greater departure with its meandering strings. Special Mention though should go to Andrea (You Can't Fly), a real soap box Psych Pop surprise. Beautifully produced and played, Bridge And Tunnel pushes all the right buttons. Gentle but magnificent!

You can listen to and buy the album here.