Tuesday, 23 January 2018

That Was 2017

Over the next couple of days, I bid a belated farewell to 2017. Today it's an overview of what we heard throughout the year.. It's not artist specific that comes tomorrow Having read most of the Best Of Lists, my own thoughts of it being a great year for Pop And Rock, away from the mainstream of course, have been challenged. John Borack's musing hasn't appeared yet and that's what I nod at most, so I may change my thoughts again.

However, this years lists have concurred on quite a few albums and those are certainly the cream of the crop, it's been on the edges that it's been disappointing. Normally you look at these lists to see what you've missed and get quite a few delights, this year there has been less of that. most of the things that I hadn't heard, I'm not sorry I missed.

The year itself has been punctuated by the untimely deaths of artists that we love. Some of that of course comes with age and a realisation that something that is called New Wave was 40 years ago. The most relevant to me was the shocking news of the passing of Tommy Keene. A Beacon Of Power Pop, a lover of music and one of the nicest guys ever. It's still hard to believe. I was shocked by Will Owsley at the time, more so by Tommy's passing.

Genre wise, thankfully there's been an easing of the wave of Tame Impala and Nada Surf wannabes. There was so much bad Psych Pop around, that hopefully it will now be left to the likes of Luck Of Eden Hall who can do it properly. Sadly the waving of goodbye to this irritation as coincided with the revival of shoegazing, it was boring first time round.

Prog has had some revival and it's refreshing for an old man to see. What once was derided, is now celebrated. The reforming of the old with at least some original members included and the Steven Wilson reworking of the past has brought Nostalgia to a peak. But it's the new that perks my interest most. Big Big Train hitting the mainstream and the likes of Dave Kerzner have made Prog melodic again. The Billy Sherwood over produced Modern Prog seems to be in decline which is a good thing. Also Prog is a constant beacon of keeping the art of listening to a full album relevant in this 99p a track world.

Indie wise, C86 seems to be back in the spotlight. Pale Lights in particular, shine through, I can imagine a much younger me in Glasgow, not having to sit down every five minutes. Having derided Psych Pop a bit, mainly because so many jumped on the bandwagon, Medway continues to provide glorious 60's themed Psych that is a joy to listen to.

The spirit of Deaf School is still around with the Theatrical Rock of Felix Hagan And The Family, V Sparks and Ward XVI. Three bands that are incredibly inventive, yet can still cut it Live. The return of Sparks and Nick Heyward with stunning albums is also to be celebrated. Both show that you don't have to rely on Back Catalogue, both have produced albums as good as anything from their past.

The Live scene is infuriating. People will pay silly prices to watch names they know at enormodomes, yet would rather have a four pack of Carlsberg and a Pizza than take a chance on someone playing in their town for a tenner. First it was Pubs that closed, now it's the venues.

The UK scene is really hard at the moment. There are some artists breaking through such as The Ragamuffins, but these are less and less. IDHAS is incredibly popular, probably because so few in the UK cover the stuff it does.

My beloved Power Pop and Pop Rock is so underrated in the UK and the dominant scene at the moment seems to be Scandinavia, although Australia is undergoing a resurgence. The likes of Caper Clowns sound more British than the Brits.

IPO Liverpool was good as ever, although it is a little long these days, meaning it can run out of steam or you out of energy. It was great to see the Big Stir guys there and on the subsequent tour. Plasticsoul have released one of the finest albums this year and with a new album by The Armoires and a Spygenius release on the way, all is exciting in the camp. Seeing those guys over here was special.

There's some cracking Record Labels around, but special mention must go to three. Futureman Records as a digital label comes up with some fantastic pop. Sugarbush is a superb Vinyl label, constantly surprising me with it's individual and somewhat unique choices.

Omnivore is inspired, true it's a bit Big Star fixated, but isn't everyone, but the releases from Cait Brennan and Chris Price this year are exceptional and it's mixture of old and new is exemplary. I should also mention Cherry Red who have discovered New Wave and are bringinging albums to CD that I never thought would make it. Nest Up Yachts!

So that's my shoes and sweet thoughts on 2017. Tomorrow it will become artist specific as I celebrate my Best Of The Year. 2017 was a pretty dim year for me personally, but music wise it was ok and shows that great pop and rock is still there to delight far more than it manages to.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 4

I haven't taken a vow of silence. In one of those situations when you are told things are so easy, we changed ISP and you can guess the rest. 10 days later we finally have broadband again, by going back to the previous supplier.

So I've tons to catch up on and in a new year new broom, I went for a space saving keyboard that means I am spending most of my review time correcting Fat Fingered typing. So there's been no chance of recording a new Radio Show this week.

Therefore I've gone back to the past and plumped for a great show line up that wasn't promoted on here originally. Show 4 was broadcast in June 2017 and it's a cracker. This will be broadcast on KOR Radio this week.

I will also upload last week's 30th show on Mixcloud later.

The show 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 first twenty nine shows and two Xmas Specials here. Episode 30 will be up on Mixcloud, as stated, later.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 Ian McNabb - Loveless Age (Waifs And Strays Version)
02 Berwanger - Exorcism Rock
03 Huxley Rittman And The Rusty Hitmen - Stay With Me
04 Captain Wilberforce - The Johnny Depp Memorial Cafe
05 The Pot Beach - Bloody School
06 Daniel Wylie's Cosmic Rough Riders - I Hear You Call My Name
07 Suzy And Los Quattro - Radio! Stereo!
08 Hornal - She Doesn't Have Anyone
09 Greg Ieronimo - Roller Coaster Ride
10 Dot Dash - The Infinite
11 Justin Levinson - Together Forever
12 The Sugarplastic - Polly Brown
13 Michael Carpenter - I've Got No More To Say
14 Terrorvision - Perseverance
15 Daisy House - Night Of The Hunter
16 Rob Clarke And The Wooltones - Jump In My Igloo
17 Bongley Dead - Set It On Fire

Thursday, 11 January 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 30

IDHAS Radio hits 30 and this week's show sounds as great as ever. I pondered about the Archive Tracks this week and finally settled on just one. It closes the show and is nine minutes long, but probably one of the best nine minutes you'll spend this year. It's accompanied by 16 poptastic new songs.

The show 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 first twenty nine shows and two Xmas Specials here.

Here's this week's playlist :

01 The Mylars - What Do You Got To Lose
02 Mo Troper - Your Brand
03 The Menzingers - Tellin' Lies
04 Freezing Hands - Comeback Kid
05 Timothy Monger - Plough King
06 Matt Hectorne - It Don't Matter At All
07 Pep - Pep In My Step
08 The Riptides - Couldn't Care Less
09 Jules Shear - A Color That Barely Exists
10 The Orange Constant - Something We Can Use
11 Burgess Meredith - Summers End
12 Kelley Ryan - The Darkest Stars
13 Balduin - Leave To Seek The Light
14 Steve Thompson - Rose Tinted Glasses
15 Goodman - Modern Girl
16 The Rallies - Whatever You Thought
17 Wizzard - Wear A Fast Gun

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Nick's Albums Of The Year

I'm always slow to kick of January. This is largely because the first half of the month is always awash with Best Of The Previous Year lists and so ends up with people searching backward rather than the forward I prefer.

I can tell you that 2017 was one of the better years for the music that we like and knowing what's coming, 2018 promises to be exceptional. So as I don't feel out of kilter, here's Nick's Best 15 albums of 2017. It's also heartening to look at other writer's lists and see that we haven't missed much.

I've mentioned previously that Nick Fletcher is essential to what has become a surprisingly popular Blog. We talk about the new a lot and get excited when we hear something that we haven't heard before.

For every gem that I come up with, Nick responds with another. Our tastes sort of meet in the middle. He's into Country, Americana and AOR and I'm Psych and Prog, but the Pop and Rock middle ground is where we collide and you see the benefit's here.

Nick now lives in Sweden and so whilst I am left battling with the frustrations of shouting loudly in an empty UK room, he's busy chasing Elks. So here you have Nick's 15 Best Albums of 2017. The list is alphabetical, not position related. So any of these albums is the winner.

Captain Wilberforce – Black Sky Thinking

Cheap Trick - We're All Alright!

Daisy House - Crossroads

Dream Machine – The Illusion

Fastball – Step Into Light

Per Gessle – En Vacker Natt

Boo Hewerdine – Swimming In Mercury

Ian McNabb – Star Smile Strong

The Mono LPs – States Of Decay

The Popguns – Sugar Kisses

Chris Price – Stop Talking

John Southworth – Small Town Watertower

Sparks - Hippopotamus

The Sunset Spirit – From The Top

Pete Wylie – Pete Sounds

Thursday, 4 January 2018

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 29

Continued Microphone problems at this end mean that the Album Of The Year Awards and accompanying Broadcast are on hold. Hopefully, they will be broadcast next week, so tomorrow night's Radio Show will be a normal edition.

I'll give it until the weekend and if the Mic problems continue, we may just go to a non talking End Of Year Awards Show next week, with the explanations of choices on the Blog here. The spoof awards will be released ahead after the weekend, allowing further time to sort the channel problems here.

I remarked on Facebook, about the quality of Guitar releases that continues. There's not been the usual quiet period from the middle of December. Except for the majors of course whose Marketing has started in earnest today.

There are so many great offerings around that this week's show has no Archive songs. 18 Songs from new albums are here to delight your ears.

The show 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 first twenty eight shows and two Xmas Specials here.

Here is this week's show playlist :

01 The Green Pajamas - Kill The Power
02 Odd Robot - A Late Night Panic
03 Green Buzzard - Tear My Heart Away
04 Anny Celsi Nelson Bragg And Duncan Maitland - Heavenly Day
05 Almost Charlie - Ambivalent
06 The Dream Rebel - Hurt Me Bad
07 Daisy - Little Love
08 Terry Anderson - Punchline
09 Fernando Perdomo - Burned Out Heart
10 First Base - Eastchester Avenue
11 Calexico - End of the World With You
12 Watts - Sunlight Alleys
13 Davie Allan And The Arrows - Heartache (Feat. Lisa Mychols)
14 Bret Bingham - On Your Own
15 Simon Felton - Lost And Found
16 The Glad Machine - 18 Days
17 Heggarty - I Only Dream
18 Henry Priestman And Les Glover - Sing It Like You Mean It

Saturday, 30 December 2017

The IDHAS KOR Radio Top 10 Songs Of The Year

Just over six months, I branched out into Radio. I'd always wanted to, but hated the sound of my own voice. I'd been asked in the past and refused, but KOR Radio convinced me to give it a go. I explained my doubts and these were catered for. I could do an hour long show that would be no talking apart from an intro and outro and had complete freedom to choose what I wanted to play.

No playlist, all the songs come from me, not a computer generated list. The success of the show has been heartwarming and opened up 2018 opportunities to do something talky with sessions and interviews which is currently in Pilot stage.

The show has currently broadcast 28 Episodes and two Christmas Specials. I was asked to compile a Top 10 songs of 2017 by KOR and so I have. This Top 10 is different to what I would choose for I Don't Hear A Single's year and I'll explain why.

Firstly, I set myself the restriction that the artist had to have had the song played on the Radio Show. Secondly, things evolve via feedback etc and the IDHAS show has primarily developed a Power Pop / Pop Rock theme. Not always the case, but the majority has.

So this Top 10 Songs Of The Year for KOR would vary from my own. My favourites do change daily, but the show buts my Psych, Prog and Indie adventures on the backburner. So this piece is intended to tell you why I chose these songs for the show and in My Top 10.

I'd also note that there have been songs played that have not yet been released. Daisy House have previewed not one but two songs that could appear in this Top 10 if they had been unveiled to the public yet.

Sparks - Missionary Position

I reveal my age when I tell you that the first album that I bought under my own steam was Propaganda. I love that album as much now as I did then, I still know all the words. That developed a love of the Mael Brothers which is now into it's fifth decade.

There was a ropey decade after the Angst In My Pants album, but largely this has been one of the most interesting rides for me musically. I'd compare it to the career of XTC, although that only lasted half of the Sparks duration.

Sparks have always carried the fans along, but as time has developed. new fans have joined the gang, people who wouldn't have heard a lot of the Island stuff, loved the multi layered vocal albums of the Noughties.

FFS, the collaboration with Franz Ferdinand, hinted that Sparks were back in the band mix and those songs hinted at the wit and sheer joy of those earlier albums and Hippopotamus confirmed that with balls on. There will still hints at what had gone on in the decade before, but the lyrical with came back to the fore.

No song underlines that more than Missionary Position. It's lyrics are risque and underline what a songwriting genius Ron Mael is. It's a testament to Sparks to note that the song sounds so fresh and different, but it could also easily have appeared on Propaganda and not been out of place.

The Sunset Spirit - To Have It All

Last year the Pop Rock revelation was Somerdale and they've enhanced that reputation this year. This year it is The Sunset Spirit, who I'm delighted to tell you are currently recording the follow up to From The Top.

As I Don't Hear A Single has developed, I still bemoan the barrenness of the UK Pop Rock scene. The Indie and Psych scene is currently fantastic, but great Pop songs are hard to find. The Sunset Spirit are a big exception.

Hailing from Fife in Scotland. there's a real energy in their chorus heavy songs. They come across as a popped up Crowded House or perhaps the nearest example are Squeeze, they certainly have the same strength in creating a hook.

To Have It All enforces that Squeeze comparison. The swirling Farfisa like solo could be Jools Holland in those early Deptford Adventures. The Sunset Spirit feel like my very own secret, I'm convinced that's about to change.

Ian Person - Whatever It Takes

Ian Person is a constant revelation to these ears. It's infuriating that he remains unknown to the masses. Some may remember him from The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, but his solo work should aid a break out from Sweden.

Exit : Highway Of Light is a fantastic album. It's influences take in Psych, Pop, Power Pop, New Wave and Pop Rock. But all of it is from left field. Guitar Runs and Riffs that re unexpected, songs that twist and turn.

Whatever It Takes is a great example of what Person does. The guitar hook absolutely grips you. I defy you to listen to the song and not want to put it on again. There is so much contained within it's three minutes, so many ideas fighting to get out.

A lot of what I cover is obviously also covered elsewhere, I don't see as much about Ian Person, that should change. He is one of the great unrecognised talents and deserves to be listened to by a much wider audience.

Nick Heyward - Perfect Sunday Sun

Nick Heyward is beloved in the UK and I've only recently realised how far that expands elsewhere. The Haircut 100 days and the Woolen Jumpers are remembered and he lit up Brit Pop providing a Jangle that tempered down the pomposity of a lot of that genre.

So after waiting so long for his return, it's pleasing to say that he released what could be his best album ever. Woodland Echoes is very pastoral and beautifully low key, but there are also glimpses of that Jangle Pop that lit up Brit Pop.

Both Baby Blue Sky and Perfect Sunday Sun are great examples of this. The latter trumps it for me. It's 60's film references and visions of lazy sunday afternoons are enhanced by the sheer wonder of the song. Heywood is on as top form as ever.

Mothboxer - Get It Right

If you were to ask me which bands I get frustrated with because far far more should know about them two spring to mind. Spygenius, who I have a big feature planned for at the start of next year and Mothboxer.

Maidenhead's Mothboxer is essentially Dave Ody and they have a stellar back catalogue now dating back to 2010. There were signs that the deserved success would come when they blitzed IPO Liverpool's 2013 Extravaganza, but sadly, the delights still remain in the shadows.

Kent seems to be the centre of some fantastic Psych at present, but Mothboxer are of a different template. The Psych Pop feel is there, but the songs are far more hook led. Big Choruses arrive unexpectedly.

This Year's The Secret Art Of Nothing is a fantastic album, cementing the band's reputation. No greater example of the songcraft can be found away from the album's opener. Get It Right has two choruses and is an absolute joy.

GospelbeacH - Hanging On

In those halcyon Anything Should Happen Days we were all Beachwood Sparks fans and nodded thankfully for Brent Rademaker. That band were a sort of Country Rock, Gram Parsons inspired calmness that was a pleasant change from all the noise around at the time.

The Beachwood Sparks songs always seemed a bit sad though, melancholic, so the GospelbeacH albums are a marked change, particularly this year's Another Summer Of Love. There's a more Power Pop or AOR feel to the songs, very much like UK Mid 70's Pop Rock.

It's also great that so many in the UK are getting them, because this is music that deserves a wider audience. Rademaker also comes over as one of the nicest guys ever, a lover of music and appreciative of any attention.

Hanging On is as good an example as any of what the band are about. Catchy, concise, melodic, harmonic, say what you want to in two and a half minutes then move on. A great Summer Guitar solo is included too.

Pink Beam - Wrote Me A Letter

I see a lot of Bloggers and DJ's who put out requests for band Tags or videos etc and I always think that's a bit of a cop out. I suppose now that I'm more fortunate in that people know what I do, what I like and so I get sent a lot. I listen to everything, but don't review the vast majority of it. I also spend a lot of time discovering stuff for myself.

There are exceptions, Music Submit is one. This is an Internet thing that sends you songs you may like, very much like an Indie Play MPE. The vast majority of stuff that I get from them doesn't appeal.mainly formulaic, but in 18 months or so there has been about half a dozen exceptions.

Pink Beam are one and it was after delighting in their submission that I discovered that my good Ice Cream Pop Friend, Wayne Lundqvist Ford was a big supporter. Pink beam are far from Rockford, home of Cheap Trick.

There's a lot of similarities with Da Trick, the band focus on the meatier end of Power Pop, the songs are ratcheted up rather than jangle. It's incredibly appealing. Wrote Me A Letter is still one of my most favourite songs of the year.

The song rocks and has been an earworm for the past six months. If there's one band that I can't wait to hear more from it's this lot.

Pugwash - What Are You Like

I'm a massive Thomas Walsh fan. That likeability started well before rejoicing about Pugwash. We knew each other as big fans of The Move and ELO and Thomas happened to mention that he was in a band and would I like to hear some stuff. I was hooked.

Pugwash as a live act were probably my favourite live band, it was the mix of the Walsh's songs coming to life, but also the humour and camaraderie of the four piece. I don't get out and about as much these days, but I rarely missed a Pugwash show.

Silverlake is Thomas solo with Jason Falkner, but you wouldn't know. As a long time admirer of Falkner, I was bursting to hear that album, a sort of marriage made in heaven. It doesn't disappoint, it's full of hooks and although you'd expect to have Jeff Lynne comparisons, I hear more Jon Auer and Posies comparisons.

Silverlake is a bit more understated than previous Pugwash albums which allows the songs to breathe, The best example is the killer second single, What Are You Like, great Summer Pop that showcases Walsh's superb voice.

The Stanleys - Amy

I'd been waiting for The Stanleys album to appear for quite some time. It doesn't disappoint. Australia's contribution to Power Pop has been much less so in recent years, The Stanleys rectify that at a stroke. This is as fine an example of the genre as there as ever been.

The self titled album is a chorus heavy, high riff count affair that will underline to all Power Pop fans the reasons why they love the field. It just doesn't let up from start to finish. This is Guitar Pop at it's finest.

The lead off single, Amy, tells you all you need to know about the band. Very reminiscent of the best of UK New Wave. A time when these sorts of songs were all over the charts.  A two and a half minute joyful romp.

Felix Hagan And The Family - Attention Seeker

Although I'd love to claim I Don't Hear A Single's success as being all down to me, it's not the case. Just as Mick Dillingham was a big part of Anything Should Happen, Nick Fletcher plays a similar role on I Don't Hear A Single.

Mick and Nick's taste is impeccable and Nick's part in the 18 months of IDHAS shouldn't be underestimated. As well as being an expert on the Scandinavian scene, he feeds a lot into here. Our tastes meet in the middle. I veer off into Psych and Prog, he into Country and AOR, but it's the middle ground that hits the ink.

Nick has been praising Felix Hagan for quite a time and with the new album I see what he's been on about. It's such an accomplished debut, a real treat. I compare their impact to that of The Killers debut and on my first hearing, Foxy Sham.

This is Theatrical Rock, but it doesn't rely on the dressing up, the song quality is high, high enough to make them the next big thing. They also have an incredible Live reputation. If Deaf School were starting out now, they'd be this lot.

Attention Seeker opens the album and reveals all you want to know about the band. Lyrically adept, constant changes and a splendid romp that previews all that they do, encapsulating it in the one song. It's a corker of a song.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 28

Microphone problems at this end mean that the Radio Broadcast and Album Of The Year Awards have been delayed. That will be broadcast next week, so tomorrow night's Radio Show will be a normal edition, that would have been broadcast next week.

There is no let up on quality though as you'll hear. 19 songs, 16 new and 3 Archive. There's tons of stuff to come from this direction in the coming week, some of it mentioned in the previous post.

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 first twenty seven shows here.

Here is this week's playlist :

01 Silver Sun - Golden Skin
02 Pale Lights - 100 Years
03 Arvidson & Butterflies - Another She
04 The Beginner's Mynd - Don't Lose Your Mind
05 John Dunbar - U- Turning
06 Liar's Club - Big Bastard
07 Felix Hagan & The Family - Attention Seeker
08 Clockwork Flowers - A Butterfly In The Rain
09 Lovely Bad Things - I Just Want You to Go Away
10 Lloyd Cole - Can't Get Arrested
11 The Vapors - News at Ten
12 Brad San Martin - Song About Soulfinger
13 K7s - Every Night
14 Kids On Neptune - Polish State of Mind
15 The Genuine Fakes - Humdrum Routine
16 Color TV - Anybody's Girl
17 Bed Wettin' Bad Boys - Plastic Tears
18 Popey - 5 O'Clock
19 The Parson Red Heads - Coming Down