Friday, 25 May 2018

Chris Richards And The Subtractions - Peaks And Valleys

Chris Richards has always written great melodic songs. As one of the Michigan Pop mafia, his work with others as been as impressive as his long established career. However, it's his albums with The Subtractions that show him at his best and most versatile. Their last album, 2012's Get Your La La's remains one of my favourite albums of that year.

The trio have now expanded to a four piece and the addition of Andy Reed is a key addition. Away from Reed's Production on so many of fine albums over the past few years, his Reed Recording Company work remains highly sought, the main addition here are his Backing Vocals.

Richards and Reed are two thirds of The Legal Matters and so it's no surprise about the Backing Vocals, but as a foursome, the sound seems fleshed out and brings the best out of these ten fine songs. Richards alone is a mark of quality, the expansion into a quartet has brought a whole new depth to his songwriting.

The Quartet are completed by Todd Holmes and Larry Grodsky and lovers of the trio format need not fear as that Big Star / Teenage Fanclub vine is still present and correct. It's just that this is taken further, best explained as a jangle dallying with Psych Pop.

These ten songs provide his best collection yet. From the Psych Pop of opener, Half Asleep makes you realise that this is going to be a great trip and the melody doesn't let up. Riffs are plentiful, vocals awesome and Peaks And Valleys rarely slows down. On the odd occasion it does you get the likes of Thirteen and the exceptional, Weekend.

Local Hero, Nick Piunti adds Guitar to In A Sense and Call Me Out, adding to the quality. If you want an lazy description, then Peaks And Valley is the sort of album Crowded House or Neil Finn should be making. I can't rate Peaks And Valleys higher, it's an absolute stormer.

Finally a nod to fellow Legal Matter and head honcho of Futureman Records.  His service is to the music we all love, both new and old, is admirable and doesn't get nearly enough credit.

You can listen to and buy Peaks And Valleys here. When you visit, have a listen to Chris's Back Catalogue too, he never disappoints.

Anchor & Bear - Anchor & Bear

I spend a lot of time speaking to Californian artists and in my world it's a very Pop orientated environment, whatever is prefixed or added to that Pop title, Psych, Indie, Rock, it's all Pop. But California seems to excel at Sunshine Pop, so it's refreshing to hear a band who explore a bit more.

Ventura's Anchor & Bear were first mentioned to me as a Folk Rock band. I don't hear much of that on the front half of the album. Raincoats And Gold is a melodic joy, hooks ahoy. In fact there's almost half a dozen songs in one when toy listen to the superb opener, Hard To Say You're Sorry.

Having two vocalists certainly helps the variety and the pair's songwriting certainly guides them to who is singing what. Brian Bringelson's vocals lend themselves to the Pop Rock excellence, whilst Katy Pearson provides a different direction.

Her Voice Of An Angel vocals complement the moodier and perhaps Folk moments. Pearson also adds some great moments to the up tempo Pop. The album seems split in to two halves and so would lend itself beautifully to vinyl.

There is a real joyous feel to those first six tracks. Started To Leave is all Mod Pop but with a very 80's Feel, think Style Council or Deacon Blue. Green Shoe Girl as an almost Van Morrison feel in the verse with a killer dual vocal chorus.

Yet, Singer Out Of Work is all Jangle with a splendid Katy Pearson Vocal, it bubbles along beautifully. Mirage borders on Muscle Shoals. Walking Around is all Mod Pop, a cracking slice of UK Beat, a little bit Soul Review.

There is a marked shift in tempo after Walking Around. Words is almost Bluesbreaker territory and from there on, the songs slow down and get moodier. This is no bad thing as the band seem comfortable with whatever they are playing.

Gunfight is in early Eagles territory, Blueprints an acoustic joy and Hard Times is Country Folk at it's finest, it has a wonderful moody Pearson Vocal. The closer, Streetlight, is an absolute belter. It begins as a ballad, the split vocals work beautifully and it even ventures into Psych.

Raincoats And Gold is an exceptional album. It'll certainly be on my end of year list. Hard To Say You're Sorry will open next week's Radio Show. You can listen to and buy the album here.  You can also find out more about the band here.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 45

IDHAS On The Airwaves reaches Number 45 tomorrow night. 45 is a number that is obviously endearing to we music fans. Maybe less so in the States when one can envisage something thin skinned and orange.

Incidentally, quite a few have asked about the trial last week with a couple of Show Promo Bumpers. If any artists want to record their own, feel free, just email them to the Blog Email address.

The I Don't Hear A Single Radio Excitement is broadcast on KOR Radio at 8pm UK Time on Fridays, repeated at the same time on Saturdays. Due to increased popularity, a Monday Night Repeat has been added at 8pm.

You can listen to it here.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the other forty four shows and two Xmas Specials here.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 XTC - I'm The Man Who Murdered Love
02 Illuminati Hotties - Paying Off The Happiness
03 The Sidekicks - Win Affection
04 Anton Barbeau - Disambiguation
05 Linus Of Hollywood - Summer On Your Shoulders
06 The Ragamuffins - I Won't Weep
07 Caper Clowns - The Way I Dream
08 The Dowling Poole - Bricks From The Wall (Almost Finished Mix)
09 Ash - Silver Suit
10 Beaulieu Porch - The Narcissists
11 Vendetta Red - Til You Have Forgiven Me
12 Chris Price - Discount Love
13 Gretchen's Wheel - Plans
14 Lawn - Clank
15 City Mouth - Anywhere But Here
16 The Virtues - The Recycler
17 Versing - Nirvana.mp3
18 Black Light White Light - Illusions/Emotions

Friday, 18 May 2018

IPO Liverpool 2018 Preview : mylittlebrother

Back onto the IPO Liverpool Previews with the outstanding mylittlebrother. Here I talk to head honcho, Will Harris.

What made you start as a musician/band and who were your influences?

I've been playing music since I was very small, and have been in various bands since my teens. mylittlebrother began whilst I was on a break from touring (playing piano for Aaron Wright  My girlfriend asked me why I hadn't recorded my own stuff and I gave her feeble excuses until she persuaded me to try.

I recorded the first song ,"Nosedive", on my own in my bedroom and a local rehearsal room in Carlisle, and released it with no expectations. It got picked up by Tom Robinson's Fresh On The Net, which led to exposure and airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 1. It got some unbelievably good reviews, so that gave me the confidence boost needed to get a band together and start playing live.

My influences are very varied. One of my earliest memories is making a mixtape from my Dad's old vinyl singles (I would have been 4 or 5). I remember particularly loving Telstar (The Tornadoes), Red River Rock (Johnny & The Hurricanes), everything by Simon & Garfunkel (particularly The Sound Of Silence), Good Vibrations. Also Return To Sender by Elvis (because I thought it was about a horse, ("she rode upon it").

Since then my tastes have broadened. I still adore 60s pop, but I also listen to a lot of Midlake, Grandaddy, Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev etc. Simply put, I just love good music and any good music that I hear influences my writing.

What are your thoughts on IPO and Liverpool?

We hadn't actually ever played in Liverpool until we were asked to play IPO 2016. We had a wonderful time playing, watching the other bands and exploring a fantastic city. Playing at the Cavern is obviously a huge honour for any musician.

To play in a venue with that kind of history is a really special opportunity and IPO brings so many like minded people together that it is even more special, so we're over the moon to be coming back.

What are your current and future plans?

We've pretty much finished our new single 'Cyanide' which will be out in June. The date hasn't been set yet, as we need to get the Promo ball rolling... This will be the lead single from our new album which will be out later in 2018.

The new material reflects our live sound more than our older stuff, so it's a bit heavier sounding, but still maintaining the melodic, harmony-laden nature of our music.

What appeals to you about Power Pop?

Melodies and harmonies. They are a constant in my favourite songs and I think that Power Pop is a genre that really celebrates and explores them. Also, a bit of crunchy or Jangly Guitar never goes amiss either!

What's the Cumbrian scene like at the moment and how do you and POwer Pop fit in?

The Cumbrian scene is booming. There are so many high quality musicians around, from singer songwriters like Melanie Baker and Christian Moss, to Penrith bands Kveis and Beachmaster There are a lot of great melody writers in the area. And of course Kontiki Suite are playing IPO on the same day as us and they are utterly wonderful!

You can listen to and buy the band's back catalogue here. mylittlebrother play The Cavern Club, both Front and Back Stages on Saturday 19 May.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 44

The IPO Previews get a day's break and the Album Reviews are itching to follow. In the meantime, I Don't Hear A Single's Radio Jamboree reaches Number 44 tomorrow night. There's even a couple of Guest Bumpers to enjoy.

The I Don't Hear A Single Radio Excitement is broadcast on KOR Radio at 8pm UK Time on Fridays, repeated at the same time on Saturdays. Due to increased popularity, a Monday Night Repeat has been added at 8pm.

You can listen to it here.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the other forty three shows and two Xmas Specials here.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 Tsar - I Don't Wanna Break-Up
02 A View Of Earth From The Moon - Don't Do It For The Payoff
03 Jackie Daytona - Uptown Baby
04 Preoccupied Pipers - Jackie Blue
05 The Cleaners From Venus - In A Provincial Town
06 Spygenius - I Don't Hear A Single Promo
07 The Stanleys - Everybody Dance
08 Tommy Lorente - Supernova
09 Smash Palace - Right As Rain
10 Luke Haines - I Sometimes Dream Of Glue
11 The Armoires - I Don't Hear A Single Promo
12 Bernard Butler - Not Alone
13 Rob Bonfiglio - Spread This Feeling
14 Richard Turgeon - Big Break
15 Diamond Hands - Caught Up In A Memory
16 Scot Sax - Where Do You Go To Cry
17 Lisa Mychols - Goodbye To All Carousels
18 Las Rosas - Tax Man
19 Cut Worms - How It Can Be

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

IPO Liverpool 2018 Preview : The Rogue State Circus

The Rogue State Circus are  from Northampton and specialise in a sort of Indie Folk Rock. Although built around a strong Acoustic background, the Power Pop Influence is plentiful. Here Jon Delaney talks about the band.

So tell me about Rogue State Circus.

"Rogue State Circus were originally formed in 2009 when Duncan and I met and first performed at IPO Liverpool in 2010. We released our first LP "Songs From The Sea of Serenity" in 2011. Tracks from that first LP such as "Everything Under The Sun",  "The Angels and The Astronauts" and "Dandelions" had extensive BBC and Independent Radio airplay. We've become a regular fixture at Regional Festival Main Stages.

I write the songs. The flexible line-up of the Band currently consists of  me on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Duncan Bisatt 0n Bass and Vocals, Karl Muddiman on Keyboards, Simon Barr on 12 String Guitars and Charles Hathaway on Drums or Rai Clews on Cajon/Percussion.

Additionally, the band are also often joined by Karen Angela on Vocals.  We enjoy playing stripped down acoustic sets as well as fully fledged electro-acoustic ones."

So who are your Influences?

"I'm influenced heavily by the Classic Power Pop of the 60's and 70's through New Wave and 80's Pop too. I like everything from the Fab Four to Prefab Sprout, Bacharach to Big Star, Kinks to Killers, Crowded House to Costello, Magazine to The Manics, Steely Dan to the Stranglers, We love a good Jangly tune with 12 strings and Acoustics, very much part of our eclectic sound.

Rogue State Circus is first and foremost all about the songs and the songwriting - we're known for being "truly, truly genre-warping" (Kevin Buxton - Kontra Roots) - I've always loved great songwriting and I'm still working on it.

I'm a great believer that if the song works on solo vocal and acoustic guitar or piano alone then it's probably fit for purpose to be "Power Popped up" arranged and built on by the whole band."

So what are are your current and future plans?

"We've just completed our 12 track second LP "Songs From The Sea of Storms" with Platinum Producer Gavin Monaghan (Editors, Nizlopi, Sherlocks, Twang, Scott Matthews, OCS, Blinders) for release this summer. and

As the title suggests, the songs have a slightly darker edge this time round.  We've also got another 11 tracks already partially recorded with Gavin for the third LP in our "Lunar Trilogy" prospectively called "Mare Imbrium" (Sea of Rainbows) and hopefully to be completed for release next year."

........And Your Ambitions?

"Relatively modest. We just want people to hear and enjoy our songs and play them to as many people as possible. We all totally adore playing live and now, thanks to the encouragement of the production wizard that is Gavin, are finally learning to love the Studio too.

We're looking to play more festival and gigs all over the place, garner more Blog coverage, reviews and Radio Play. We see our audience as being people who like premium strength, melodic Power Pop songwriting with well crafted lyrics and also appreciate a passionate, energetic live performance.

We're really looking to enjoy IPO once again as audience as well as performers. It's a first class festival full of real enthusiasm and joy, David and Rina providing the lead. We love Liverpool, for The Beatles, The people, The Graces and The Cathedrals  (and whisper it, three of us are LFC fans).

So if we manage to win a few hearts and minds for our own music while we're there, so much the better."

The Rogue State Circus are soon to release their new album, you can hear songs here. The first album can be listened to and bought here. The band play both The Cavern Club and The Cavern Pub on Monday 21 May.

IPO Liverpool 2018 : Deborah Henriksson

Deborah Henriksson grew up in Morristown, New Jersey listening to Pete Seeger, Buffy St. Marie, Leontyne Price, and Giuseppe Verdi. She moved to Sweden in 1978 and that is her home base now.  She trained her folk voice to classical music vocal ideals, before returning to a back to basics untrained Vocals in 2009.

She has released five albums, her most recent two with original songs in partnership with Producer, Mats Nyman.  Deborah's latest album, Near And Far was released in August 2017 and made it to the first round of the American Grammy's in the category Best Pop Vocal Album.

If you like Contemporary Folk with a Pop / Celtic / Americana edge then this will be right up your street.  Later in May a hour long show in the Netherlands will feature Near and Far, and Henriksson will talk about the making of the album and the writing of the songs.  Live performances follow in Sweden and new single releases are planned.

It is hoped that her IPO appearance will ensure that more people will support Deborah's excellent music adventure. You can listen to the Near And Far album here. You can find out more about Deborah here and support her here.

She plays The Cavern Club tonight and The Cavern Pub on Thursday 17 May.