Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Deer Tick - Deer Tick Vol.1 and Deer Tick Vol.2

Deer Tick offer up two albums released on the same day, but fear not, this is no Use Your Illusion providing one good album from the two. Volume 1 and 2 are distinctively different, perhaps underlining the schizophrenic nature of the band previously.

The difference can be compared a little to Neil Young when he plugs his guitar in or not, but that's a bit simplistic. The first album is a really interesting take on their Roots and Americana influences. The second rocks out in Replacements mode, the band you sense Deer Tick always wanted to be. You sense John McCauley always wanted to be Paul Westerberg.

The fact that the albums got made at all is testament to McCauley's recovery from the chaos in his private life. Father, Wife To Be, drugs, you name it and it's got in the way. So when the news came of potential recordings and a mellowness and settling down in all things personal was both a relief and also a concern.

Would this calmness dilute the band's strength, the erratic was at times the charm? It's true that things seem less intense musically, there seems far more sharing of duties, Dennis Ryan and Ian O'Neill get a turn at vocals and it works over this amount of material. It's still McCauley's drawl that works best.

Vol. 1 works beautifully and is almost a jam at times, interesting melodies, great strum alongs. Card House and the magnificent Sea Of Clouds work best. This is the sort of stuff that I generally listen to less, but the album captivated me in a way that surprised me.

I knew I'd love the second volume and oh how I do. It is more on my home territory. Plugging those guitars in completely changes Deer Tick, it's all riffs and organ, wonderfully ramshackle, yet incredibly focused.

McCauley's lazy vocal delivery works well with the riffs and choruses that integrate it and in Mr Nothing Gets Worse, you have a real Westerberg / The Replacements vibe. Both these albums are worth the admission. Don't be tempted to just buy the noise or the roots, both played side by side show the versatility of Deer Tick. The band's return is more than welcome.

You can buy the albums at the band's Bandcamp site here or they are available at all good record stores etc etc.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 13

The Radio show has just been put to bed and is brought to you by the number 13 this week.

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 and there are plans for some more US Friendly times.

You can listen to it here.

12 new and three archive tracks for your delight

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the first twelve shows here.

Here's what you are going to hear this week.

01 The Supernaturals - The Day Before Yesterday's Man
02 Sparks - Missionary Position
03 David Myhr - Spellbound
04 Copper Dalton - Brand New Moon
05 Shout Out Louds - Jumbo Jet
06 The Sherlocks - Will You Be There
07 Ted Leo - The Future (Is Learning To...)
08 Nick Garrie - The Moon and The Village
09 Rooney - Two Steps Ahead
10 The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco - Swings And Roundabouts
11 Fake Laugh - You Do Know
12 Kyle Vincent - Wake Me Up (Original Version)
13 Sewage Farm - Top Of The World
14 The Cheap Cassettes - Worse 'N' Better
15 John Miles - Overture

Monday, 11 September 2017

Ted Leo - The Hanged Man

Ted Leo has always given the impression of a man straining at the leash, even Aimee Man didn't seem to calm him too much. His angry new waved up Power Pop made you think he'd be Neil Finn if only he'd tone it down.

But why should he? 2004's Shake The Sheets was a perfect template for Political Indie Rock, all clever venom about the right to question things. Since then he suffered from two record label collapses and the economics of being an independent musician in these times. Hence there are no Pharmacists here, although Chris Wilson drums.

As excellent as The Both are and how Aimee Mann and Leo complement each other, there was a yearning here for a new solo album and it seemed that none would be forthcoming. The Hanged Man proves that wrong and is exactly why the man has been missed. The album sounds less urgent and direct than Leo's previous offerings and all the better for it. Anyone who can write a song as urgent as The Future (Is Learning To....) deserves a full listen and although that is the stand out song, there's much more to enjoy.

The Nazarene is very Neil Finn, compare that to the sheer noise of the opener, Moon Out Of Phase, a glammed up, fuzzed up joy. Run To The City is in classic mid 70's Pop Rock Territory, Can't Go Back is all jaunty Ben Folds piano pop.

The Little Smug Supper Club is so early Joe Jackson or Elvis Costello, an absolute cracker, Anthems Of None stays in that late 70's UK New Wave Territory. The closer, Let's Stay On The Moon is a brooding sprawling 6 minutes plus to calm every thing down, a really personal song that Ted Leo seems to want to get out of his system and you glad to hear the result.

It's been seven years since The Brutalist Bricks. The Hanged Man has made every hour of the wait worthwhile. All 14 songs add something more to the Leo Rucksack. This is an absolute gem of an album. You can buy the album everywhere and you should.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sparks - Hippopotamus

First up I am a Sparks fan, when the Queen Of Burtonwood grumbles about the amount of music here, I blame Ron and Russell Mael. 43 years ago the first album that I bought was Propaganda, so for four fifths of my life, Sparks have been close by. I'm also a little different to a lot of similar aged Sparks fans who think everything has always been fantastic and hunky dory. The 80's were not very kind to Sparks, there are some real clunkers away from Whomp That Sucker and Angst In My Pants.

Ron Mael should be celebrated as one of music's great lyricists, rather than the weird guy on the keyboards, no one writes lyrical couplets like Ron and that's why most of the 80's output irritates me because an album like In Outer Space sounds so twee and is lyrically banal. It's as though the songs were phoned in.Sparks have always moved in whichever direction they pleased and they've took a lot of the fans with them, but what they've also managed to do is bring the young along with them, appealing to a student audience whatever the year is.

There's also an irritation here concerning some reviews from people who are putting up Sparks as National Treasures who have always been beloved, they treat Jeff Lynne and ELO the same way, there were times when both couldn't get a decent hearing. The thing I love about the band is that they treat every album as though it was a debut and the people who buy it are assumed to be hearing Sparks for the first time.

This has been a fine approach and meant that the history isn't what brings a lot to the party, the listeners hooked at listening to Dick Around would listen to an album like Indiscreet, one of my Top 10 albums ever in bemusement if they heard it before Hello Young Lovers. This is their first song based studio album in nine years and the three before have been incredibly inventive, so how would Hippopotamus compare to their recent form and general back catalogue.

Well, the album is wonderful, truly so, no two songs are the same, it even closes with a duet with Operatic Soprano Rebecca Sjowall. The collaboration with Franz Ferdinand, FFS, revealed that Sparks were writing three minute pop songs again and there's plenty of that here with the likes of What The Hell Is It This Time?, A Little Bit Of Fun and the magnificent, Missionary Position with it's piano riff. The latter could be one of their best songs ever, praise indeed, it sits happily here and could sit just as well on Kimono My House.

Ron Mael's lyrics are at the top of their game, as are the song subjects which are as left field as you could ever want. The wonder of Ikea, people and their petty prayers and the title track asks how so many things got in the pool such as a Hippopotamus, a woman with an abacus and a Volkswagen Campervan. I can only think of one person with such lyrical depth about banal subjects and that's Randy Newman.

There's plenty here for those who, like me, like their Sparks weird and enough for those who like the dance and a host of great great Pop. Whatever stage you joined Sparks at, it is catered for and the album as a whole stands up alone beautifully, so you feel free to get hooked. The upcoming live tour promises much, particularly with the marvellous Mini Mansions in tow. Live you can expect lots of Hippopotamus in the set, 8 of the 15 songs I believe and all the favourites, plus a couple of surprise inclusions.

How many bands have survived 45 years and have a new album out that sounds as fresh as the first? Sparks don't rest on their greatest hits, they are interested in the now but are grateful that you like their past. Without doubt, this band changed my life and showed what music can mean to you. I wouldn't want to be the 11 year old me again, but thank goodness I've still got the Mael Brothers.

You can buy the album here and everywhere.

Hello Bear - Do You Want Ants... Because That's How You Get Ants!

Norwich quartet Hello Bear's mini album is a splendid 7 track affair. Although still leaning towards Pop Punk, there's tons of influences to make it far from ordinary. Although many will hear Weezer here, it's not quite that.

Do You Want Ants? is a far more English take on the genre and so the emphasis is more on Pop. Strength Is Not Your Strength gets Glam Rock like at time, almost call call and response. Manuka Honey has a clever dual vocal.

There's also a cleverness in the lyrics that isn't always noted when listening to the riffs and you also feel that the Power Pop is fighting to get out. The album is at it's best on Afternoons Delight which is a bit like The Feeling on Speed. More of this jauntiness promises much for the future.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 12

After a bad dose of Norton Internet Security Upgrades taking me back to 1998, the server is back in action and the reviews can recommence because I can get at the music. The service returns to normal with the start of a big catch up over the weekend.

The Radio show has just been put to bed and reaches the round dozen this week.

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 and there are plans for some more US Friendly times.

You can listen to it here.

14 from the department marked new and three archive tracks for your listening pleasure.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the first eleven shows here.

Here's a sneak preview of tomorrow night's excitement.

01 Tsar - I Don't Wanna Break-Up
02 DM3 - Monsters
03 Daisy House - Looking at Me (Stop!)
04 Pezband - Drop Me A Line
05 Neil Finn - The Law Is Always on Your Side
06 Owsley - Coming Up Roses
07 Bill Nelson - I'm Dancing
08 The Young Hearts - Medicine
09 Luke Seymoup - Jailbird Sing
10 The Hangabouts - Twelve Songs
11 City Boy - Walk On The Water
12 Bubble Gum Orchestra - The Beatles Made Me
13 Shake Some Action - Starting Again
14 Fernando Perdomo - Spotlight Smile
15 Oh Wonder - High On Humans
16 Gentlemen Jackals - Waiting for the Day
17 Mordecai Smyth - Heading Back West

Thursday, 31 August 2017

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 11

After a welcome break, the reviews return tomorrow and there's a lot to come over the next few days.
Today was the prep of the I Don't Hear A Single's Radio Show which reaches number 11 this week.

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 and there are plans for some more US Friendly times.

You can listen to it here.

Again, it's light on the Archive stuff, but the closer is a 12 minute blistering live performance from Be Bop Deluxe.

Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the first ten shows here.

Feet can be tapped to the following :

01 Fast Romantics - American Love
02 Hello Bear - Afternoons Delight
03 Muscle Souls - Beautiful Fool
04 Sparks - Hippopotamus
05 Ted Lukas - Speak Less, Say More
06 Luke Haines - Marc Bolan Blues
07 Huxley Rittman & The Rusty Hitmen - If The Shoe Fits
08 Game Theory - Between The Bottles
09 A J Davila - Beautiful
10 James King And The Lonewolves - Fly Away
11 Daniel & The Real Feels - City Girlfriends
12 The Difficult Stranger - Fall In Love With You
13 Dan Wilson - Closing Time
14 The Weeklings - Paperback Writer
15 Be Bop Deluxe - Blazing Apostles (Live)