Tuesday, 22 August 2017
I'm absolutely loving the Magpie EP. Somerset isn't generally at the centre of all things poptastic, but this foursome from Frome certainly have all the melodic chops and hooks. Delving further, you discover that the band are made up of members of two excellent bands.
Andy Morton and Mike Poulson are in Bronco Bullfrog, Paul Tozer and Chris Woodland are from The Bad Detectives. Neither of these bands give you an advance warning of what to expect from Magpie. The Bad Detectives are very much in shake rattle and roll territory and Bromco Bullfrog are one of the better examples of more recent UK Psych Pop.
What you get is some classic Summer harmonic pop, very much in the mould of a band like The Legal Matters, but with far more in common with the Sixties. The EP is like a cross between mid 60's UK Beat and late 60's California Pop and it is a fine listen.
She Knows Where I Live is Brit Pop at it's best (two and a half decades before the Gallaghers), it has a lot in common with The Move's debut album. Don't Turn Your Back On The Sun is all Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying. Wrote Me A Letter is all west coast jangle.
Daisy Paints Her Fingers is when it gets a bit more Psychy, it reminds me of something that would be on The Orgone Box's Debut. A very English social coomentary, like Judy Over The Rainbow. Ulysses are very much on my mix tape (er playlist) at the moment and so I'm delighted to note that Luke Smith has recorded and mixed the EP.
You can listen to and buy the album here for a bargain 3 dabs. You should, it's a cracking little listen.
Thursday, 17 August 2017
I Don't Hear A Single's Radio Show comes to you with the Number 9 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.
Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the first eight shows here.
Without further ado, here's the playlist for Tonight. 14 songs you may not have heard before and three that you should be ashamed of yourselves if you haven't.
01 Silver Sun - I'll See You Around
02 Magpie - She Knows Where I Live
03 V Sparks - Death Of A Star
04 Terry Shaughnessy - Volcano
05 Amoeba Teen - Dear Rosa
06 Young Hunger - The Things I Think (But I Don't Mean)
07 Dent May - Hello Cruel World
08 Paul McCann - Everything Is Free
09 Material Issue - Goin' Through Your Purse
10 Jon C Butler - Mr Rock N Roll
11 John Shuttleworth - One Cup of Tea Is Never Enough
12 Bernard Fanning - America (Glamour and Prestige)
13 Michael Penn - A Bad Sign
14 Colin's Godson - Beautiful Mediocrity
15 Trip Wire - Growing Old
16 Frantic Chant - Upside Doon Towers
17 Kara Mosher - Survive
Sunday, 13 August 2017
Wow! Chicago's V Sparks are Glam inspired chaos. The New Sensation EP has so many ideas across it's six tracks that you have to think that October's upcoming album is just going to blow your head off. With so many ideas, not all are going to work, but the sheer ambition just leaves you applauding loudly.
Of course, a new take on Glam Rock has been done before to limited success, think Mika or Scissor Sisters and there is a bit of that here. The difference with V Sparks is that the potential talent is much broader and the influences far wider.
The wonderful Death Of A Star is a standout, all big Guitar at a rapid pace with chord changes and Rush refrains enveloped with hook after hook and fighting with Queen influences. It's a stormer of a song that completely grips you. There could b a whole album contained within it's three minutes.
The title track starts off like poor 80's Disco, but not for long, it sounds like a modern day version of The Cars. Sebastian begins with a Muse like intro before ascending into pure unadulterated Glam Rock. The opener, Hey Love, again has loads of different hooks fighting for attention and a great Glam chorus.
It doesn't always work, there's a great song waiting to get out of Join The Freak Show, but I'm not sure about the spoken word part. Amongst all this melody and ideas, the closer, Contender is far more straight ahead and that works beautifully too.
There's been big hopes from these quarters in the past. Foxy Shazam's self titled third album promised similar things to be followed by mediocrity, There is so much promise here though. If the album consolidates this EP, it will be up there for my Album Of The Year. New Sensation was an enthralling surprise, one of the best things that I've heard this year.
You can listen to and buy New Sensation here.
Saturday, 12 August 2017
I first came across Terry Shaughnessy as the front man of The Universal and what a great front man he is. commanding the stage. Songs From Another Life is very much a nod to the better days of Brit Pop. Great songs, played well, no frills.
The album is very reminiscent of Ocean Colour Scene and the re-emergence of Paul Weller as some sort of Brit Pop Godfather. The difference is that the songs aren't as one dimensional, have more depth and are arranged far better.
There's strings and brass and the songs are not as shouty as those two examples. As a devotee of The Jam, I am no Weller solo fan. I think he gets away with mediocrity because of who he is. This is the sort of album, he could and should make and I'd love him again.
I had a conversation last night about how the current scene is a mixture of everyone wanting to experiment badly, usually with synths. The thing that suffers is the songs, so it's refreshing to hear an album as good as this. Do we really want more meandering shoegazing, no we don't. We want proper songs, played well, something to sing along with rather than nod our head to.
The great news is that Shaughnessy has offered up exactly that. The choruses are big, the arrangements are great. Where as you may be used to an album like this to throw in the odd slower acoustic led number, Songs From Another Life has plenty of them.
Those slower songs are acoustic based, reflective, but have a real depth and quality to them. But it's the anthemic up tempo numbers that grab you more, particularly Volcano. Can You Feel It is a real riff led modern Mod Pop song. Shine On could be 70's Glam Rock with it's stomp backdrop. Let It Burn is a pure Rock Out.
Songs From Another Life is a refreshing change from all the nonsense that is currently around. Song driven, as I noted earlier, it's the sort of album that Paul Weller should make and doesn't. Very different to a lot of the Power Pop, I report on, but with similar hooks.
You can buy it here and elsewhere.
Friday, 11 August 2017
I've never done lists, I've never seen the point. My favourites change weekly and a lot of the time, you are comparing Apples with Oranges. I have always picked an album of the year and for I Don't Hear A Single's first year and for the first time ever, I named two albums as my joint albums of the year.
Nick Piunti's Trust Your Instincts album is his best yet and that shared the spotlight with Somerdale's third album, Shake It Maggie. Nick Piunti is on Marty Scott's revived Jem Recordings Label and the fantastic news is that Somerdale are now signed to Jem. Having the weight of Jem behind them, a label that includes The Anderson Council, Nick Piunti and The Bayonets on it can only help give Somerdale the success they clearly deserve. I really do rate them that highly.
The album really is so good that it deserves wider attention, so the band returned to the studio to add four new songs to the original masterpiece. All four are great additions and you've probably heard them on the radio. I know my colleagues at KOR Radio are well into them.
I've incorporated my original review below. You can buy the album for download or as it should be heard, CD, at Amazon US and Amazon UK.
Now this is the territory that I always feel at home in. New Jersey's Somerdale are a three piece power pop group that would easily be at home in 1975 UK fighting it out for a Top 5 spot with some Chinn and Chapman prodigy.
The album really is high class Pop Rock. In ASH's nine years, this is the sort of thing we usually celebrate. However, it's normally some lost album that we fawn about, Jigsaw, Pilot, Ace, you name 'em. We've often mused about why there are no new bands doing this now. Well now we have Somerdale.
This sort of 70's Medium Wave Territory is something I spend a lot of time listening to and trust me, I know my stuff. I also get to listen to a lot more badly done stuff than good. "Shake It Maggie" has been the biggest surprise for me for a long time. It's fantastic.
Don't get the impression that the album is derivative, because it's not any way. It doesn't wear it's influences on it's arm. the songs just gently remind you of that time.
"Take It From The Top" could be Liverpool Express and should probably be the lead single. "Waiting For You" could be Jigsaw. On other songs, you hear 10CC, The Arrows, Andrew Gold, the list goes on.
"Puddles Of Me" could be prime time Badfinger. "She's Leaving California" hints at a rocking John Miles. The biggest surprise is that Somerdale are American, they sound so English. Finally for the Power Pop Kids, well there's "The Coolest Kid In The Room", pure Fountains Of Wayne.
I remind readers often that this place is not for the gushing, I receive a lot of music and it's always appreciated. However I have a policy of only reviewing things that I like. I've done hatchet jobs on things that I don't in the past, I'd rather not these days, it's unfair and I just choose not to review them.
So when I tell you that this is the best thing I've heard in ages, you can trust that remark. Shake It Maggie is, it's a superb listen and right up my street.
I Don't Hear A Single's Radio Show reaches Number 8 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.
Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the first seven shows here.
Without further ado, here's the playlist for Tonight.
01 Trickster - Let It Lie
02 The Rationales - Ready To Go
03 Propeller - Summer Arrives
04 Fangclub - Common Ground
05 Karla Kane - The Lilac Line
06 Nick Heyward - Baby Blue Sky
07 The Sunset Spirit - No Time To Pretend
08 The Naturals - I Don't Need A Car
09 The Rubinoos - Nowheresville
10 Vegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie Flowers - The Weekend's Coming
11 Tony Wright - Opposites Attract
12 My Little Hum - Geography Lesson
13 The Nature Strip - Tide Song
14 Matthew Sweet - Music For Love
15 The Armoires - Fort Ashby
16 Big Big Train - The Second Brightest Star
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
One of the biggest surprises that I've had after the release of Nick Heyward's new album is people that I know saying that they are surprised at how good he is. I thought most of my circle knew that, yet there are still people who think of him as the youngster in a cricket jumper who was around for a bit in Haircut 100.
People still associate him with the Teen Pop of Love Plus One and either assume what followed was more of the same or the end of it all. Incidentally, Haircut 100's second album, without Nick, Paint And Paint has recently been released as a 2 disc affair by Cherry Red and that's excellent too.
After that splendid first Haircut 100 album, Heyward released three great solo albums in the 80's to diminishing returns. However he returned in 1993 and we all know how modern music writers think music began with Brit Pop and Oasis and Blur, so someone may remember his return as all references lately seem to start at that point.
The one great thing about Brit Pop was the Pop around the edges. There was plenty of it if you listened, most notably by the likes of Dodgy, The Bluetones and The Supernaturals, but much more too. One such inspiring album was the poptastic From Monday To Sunday from Nick Heyward. It lit up the year.
It was all jangly and wonderful with the lead single, He Doesn't Love You Like I Do and the magnificent Kite. This was followed by the equally ace, Tangled and the The Apple Bed, which could be my favourite album on the Creation label. The latter was released in 1998 and until now it was his last solo affair.
He released an album of poems narrated by Greg Ellis in 2001, Open Sesame Seed and the excellent collaboration with India Dupre, The Mermaid And The Lighthouse Keeper. There has never been a drop in quality, so the hope was that his anticipated return wouldn't be a let down. Well it isn't, not in any way.
Woodland Echoes is a brilliant listening experience. It's also very a much more reflective affair, reflective in a way that something like XTC's Skylarking is. It is also an album of two halves. Lots of different styles, but the jaunty pop that most fans adore is all in the second half.
Before you get to that, there are some fine songs to get your ears attuned to. The McCartney Beatles strum of Love Is The Key By The Sea with some great harmonies, the Country Folk of Mountain Top, the shuffle of Who? and the funky backdrop of The Stars. All are great songs.
It's that second half of the album that brings that seductive pop, Baby Blue Sky and in particular, the magnificent Perfect Sunday Sun. The latter could be the best thing Heyward has ever written with it's jangle hook and lyrical depth. It's a crackerjack of a song.
Ass to these two gems, more jangle and an infectious chorus on on I Got A Lot and the captivating love song, I Can See Her and you have a real feel good, beautifully written album. That's even without mentioning, the sweeping Jayhawks like closer, For Always.
You can always tell how good an artist is by the price of their Back Catalogue on Amazon. You won't pick up any Nick Heyward CDs up for buttons.
You can buy the album everywhere and there are some special editions here. I should also give a mention to a recent Live Show that you can watch online or on some UK TV Platforms. The set for Vintage TV is excellent. Vintage TV is really providing some great Live stuff. It's not the rubbish cut and paste video site that it used to be. You can watch the set here.
You can hear 30 second sound samples of each track here. There are also videos for Baby Blue Sky and Mountaintop here.
We talk about how Power Pop has become a catch all category that captures anything that is melodic pop and that offends some and irritates others, thinking it holds them back. Well there is no doubt at all that Los Angeles's The Singles are Power Pop.
You can go to any of the three main surges in Power Pop, Merseybeat, Late 70's New Wave and the early 90's break out and the band would happily fit in. At times it's straight ahead Cavern stuff, but there are more times when they nod to the other two ages and it's that that is the most interesting.
Sweet Tooth is a cracking little record, songs that chime and hooks that hit you from the off. It's also a real grower of an album. What at first seems a little simplistic, add layers on repeated listens, particularly songs like You're The Only One and the wonderful, Phone Call.
Dawn is like one of those ballads that the Glam Rock bands used to do, their slowie if you like and in keeping with that theme, Nobody Knows is Bay City Rollers Pop like with hints of mid 80's Scots Pop. Voodoo has a real 60's UK Beat Backdrop.
The likes of Gone and If You Want Me, You Can Have Me are just great melodic pop, in fact the whole album is. It's real singalong and air guitar stuff, exactly what a great Power Pop album should be. It's not revelatory, but so few are doing this kind of album these days, it's make a refreshing change.
A song like Sweet Tooth deserves to join the Power Pop Classics and the aforementioned Phone Call is my particular fave, it's all a bit spiky and psychy, far more aggresive than the rest of the album, superbly so. I can't recommend the album highly enough.
You can buy the album at the links here.
Saturday, 5 August 2017
Amidst all this Power Pop and Pop Rock paraphernalia, people tend to forget that I am first and foremost a music fan and collector. I just became noted for Power Pop through the past 20 years or so, but my tastes go far deeper. As noted by Mew opening last night's Radio show, I'm as home with Prog as Pop.
There's a Power Pop connection with Boston's The Rationales. Their early days offered up songs that sounded like they had been recorded in Ardent Studios, very Big Star, but as their ten year career has developed, they have become far more than that.
Upstream is an American Rock album, but don't let that dissuade you. because there's a lot of different styles contained within what is an exceptional effort. Indeed after distancing the band from Power Pop, the opener Ready To Go could be The Motors, a real slice of 70's UK Pop Rock with some killer guitar.
Just to show that variance, Trade You has a real Afghan Whigs feel and a real Southern Rock meandering guitar solo. Under The Gun is a sweeping gem, like a rocked up Wilco, the hints of Steel Guitar exploding into far more. A crackerjack of a song.
All The While starts all Doolin' Dalton era Eagles, even getting funky, only to be followed by the Southern Rock chug of Climb The Ladder. Take A Ride With Me is all Fleetwood Mac Rumours vibe, but it's the closer Dulcinea that grips you most.
I've seen The Rationales labelled as Americana, I don't see that at all. There is a connection with the better end of that catch all genre, say the rockier songs of Wilco or the harmonies of The Jayhawks, but the band have far more depth than that.
Whilst this still feels like songwriter David Mirabella's band, the six piece complement each other beautifully. They've developed into a proper band and it shows. There's a depth to their songs that is admirable and engaging. Upstream is one of the best albums that you'll hear this year.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Friday, 4 August 2017
Apologies for the basic look of the Blog. Updating the code a few weeks ago had left some bugs on the Blog that need fixing.
I've switched the Blog to the basic look whilst these are ironed out.
Once the Reviews are all posted, the work will continue to update the look to something beyond it's 1998 flashback.
I've switched the Blog to the basic look whilst these are ironed out.
Once the Reviews are all posted, the work will continue to update the look to something beyond it's 1998 flashback.
Thursday, 3 August 2017
I Don't Hear A Single's Radio Show reaches Number 7 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.
Also, a reminder that the show is archived the following week on Mixcloud. You can listen to the first six shows here.
Without further ado, here's the playlist for Tomorrow Night.
01 Mew - The Zookeeper's Boy
02 Nick Heyward - Perfect Sunday Sun
03 Cait Brennan - Bad At Apologies
04 Kerosene Stars - Lost
05 Guided By Voices - The Birthday Democrats
06 Suzes - A Stones Throw
07 Colin's Godson - Stadium Rock
08 Lisa Mychols - Stories In Your Mind
09 Somerdale - Shake It Maggie
10 Fake Laugh - You Do Know
11 The Singles - Sweet Tooth
12 The Carousels - Wishing Well
13 The Bye Bye Blackbirds - Earl Grey Kisses
14 Young Hunger - The Things I Think (But I Don't Mean)
15 Ralegh Long - Upwards Of Summer
16 The Mighty Wah! - Heart As Big As Liverpool
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
Glasgow's Colin's Godson inhabit their own strange, yet wonderfully fascinating pop world. Imagine Half Man Half Biscuit with a Power Pop backdrop, rather than Folk. The band are certainly prolific, hot on the heels of this, a further album is planned for October.
The influences are everywhere, Sultans Of Ping to Frank Sidebottom and the Pop of the likes of The Supernaturals and Silver Sun as well as Devo and the twee keyboard stuff of the 80's. The vocals can be a bit plain, ditto HMHB, but the pop semsibilities shine through.
Stadium Rock is in Weezer Territory whilst Paul And Linda sounds like something off a Jane Wiedlin solo album. Country Wall is sideshow Blur, whilst Secret Sunday takes that a stage further into pure Brit Pop.
Match,com is all UK New Wave, but it's those Half Man Half Biscuit references that continue to hit home. The everyday lyrics and subjects point to those four lads from The Wirral and something like The Krypton Factor could actually be them.
In 24 minutes, the album manages to incorporate all these examples plus Prog and 60's Bubblegum Pop and yet there's still something endearingly unique about the band. It's a confusing, but fulfilling journey though the record collection of these Glaswegians.
Buying the CD is the way to go because you get a Comic Book and other stuff with it. But the digital download is available to listen to and then buy, should that be your preference. You won't be disappointed.
You can listen to and buy the album as a download or CD here.
Tuesday, 25 July 2017
In the Anything Should Happen Blog Days, an annual feature used to be to get what the users and followers actually thought and wanted. It strikes me that with I Don't Hear A Single now expanding into so many different directions, that it may just be the right time to find what you want. ASH never stood still and why should here?
So please be free with your thoughts on what you want from here, it's about the music and supporting the bands. Would you like more of the same or something different? Do you like the format? Do you like the new Blog Look? Should the Blog be promoted more or less?
Are you interested in Archive stuff or do you want a separate place for that? Should everything I write and review go on here or should it remain for the new and under appreciated?
What do you think of the Radio show? Do you like the format, would you like additional shows concentrating on different things, more chat or just the one show to be extended. Facebook wise - is there too much or too little promotion?
Should we get more people involved to offer up different views? Do you want to be involved? Do you want your Blog or Radio Show affiliating into here, do you want this affiliating into yours. Any comment or opinion is valid. I don't cry if people tells me something is rubbish, I just take it out on Crash.
Whether you are a fan, reader, musician, label, promo company etc, all views are welcome. You can comment in this thread, via email, Facebook, Twitter, whatever makes you most comfortable. I'll leave this thread open for a week or so.
Please be honest too, if something bugs you, just say. This is an ideal opportunity for you to get the music site/s you want.
Over to you!
Sunday, 23 July 2017
I'm not usually a fan of Cover or Tribute albums, I don't often see the point, but Andrew Curry does a great job when he fashions up one for his Curry Cuts label. Often it's the subject, Lite Rock, The UK Second Wave and now Bond Themes. More often it's the artists he gets involved, the majority of which are Power Pop Royalty.
I was talking to Ray at Kool Kat earlier in the year and were both agreed on Tribute albums, but were looking forward to this, Ray also suggested an Odyssey And Oracle tribute and I'm looking forward to Futureman Records take on Matthew Sweet, but I digress.
The problem with Bond songs is that the originals are definitive versions, known to all, so to beat this you have to a cracking note perfect version of the original, something completely left field or the artist has to be worth the admission alone. Fortunately, Curry's compilation manages all three.
The gem is The excellent Corner Laughers covering the Italian Version of Diamonds Are Forever, this left field approach works beautifully. The way Lisa Mychols rocks up The Man With The Golden Gun is also a real treat.
Freedy Johnston's Acoustic strip down of For Your Eyes Only is great, Jay Gonzalez does a similar Tex Mex strum through A View To A Kill. Brandon Schott gets Jake Gideon involved in an intriguing sped up Tomorrow Never Dies.
Cliff Hillis, who is currently going through a real top notch phase does a cracking lazy version of Writing's On The Wall. In all these unusual takes though, my absolute favourite.is Popdudes cover of Live And Let Die, it's a truly faithful rendition and suitably ace.
The concept worried me a bit because of the strength of the original versions, but Curry Cuts has done a great job of providing a new look at the songs and garnered some fine names to do them. You can listen to and but the album here.
Canada's Fast Romantics have always been an interesting band, but have suffered from a revolving door line up centred around Matthew Angus and Jeffrey Lewis. Angus and Lewis have now expanded the band into a really interesting six piece and here's hoping it can stick together, because the resulting American Love is a fine album.
The addition of Kirty, a singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist has expanded the sound further, particularly in her accompanying background vocals. The sound is big, certainly E Street like. although the sound reminds me more of big sounding UK Bands like The Alarm and Simple Minds.
There is a 80's Rock vibe to the album, but 80's in a good way, the keyboards aren't up front and the riffs aren't echoed. There is also a real political theme in the lyrics, but I suspect many won't necessarily pick them out, although Anti Trump lovers will like them a lot.
Julia was the single that showed what this incarnation of the band was capable of and it still sounds great here, almost Pete Wylie's Wah like. Runaway Girl does sound very Noughties' Springsteen, but I think it sounds more like Springsteen doing Ian McNabb a la Girl In Their Summer Clothes.
How Long Is This Gonna Last is Kirty on lead vocals and again it feels UK, almost Transmission Vamp. Matthew Angus is a great front man and band leader, you feel him and his songs will end up rocking some Stadium and there would be some joy in that, certainly more than hering the medioctiry of the likes of Kasabian.
A lot seems to have been made about how American the album is. I can see bits of that and the album's title emphasises this. But to me it feels far more like a big sounding UK album. The sort that used to be made when budgets were much higher. Either way, American Music is a great album and more than worth your attention and cash.
You can buy the album everywhere.
Los Angeles's Star Chamber offer up their debut album and it's a great listen. The band consist of three Tamaccio's and Corey Bissell and although it's obvious that singer, Amanda will get most of the attention as she fronts the band, they really are the sum of their parts.
Her vocals are sugar sweet and probably more at home in a Power Pop outfit, but there's a real crunch to the band with a great rhythm section and some stunning guitar at times from Bissell. Whilst Star Chamber will get lumped in with the Indie Rock brigade, there is far more to them that.
The Classic Rock solo on Roadrunner and Proto Prog riff on Cold reveal a variance and adaptability unusual in the genre. Sleeper is a wonderful thing, a brooding strum with western overtones, a real gem of a song.
Although Amanda shows she can croon great pop on Take My Hand, almost Fairground Attraction, Star Chamber seem most content as a cross between early Radiohead and Porcupine Tree. Imagine if either of those were fronted by Natalie Merchant and you get the idea.
Seeing Circles is an intriguing mix of styles, beautifully played and captivating. The fact that it's a debut album gives the band even more kudos. Well done all! You can buy the album here.
I was losing faith in music before The Housemartins rattled my cage. The New Romantics had left me cold, it was all about dressing up, not the songs and MTV meant even Top Of The Pops became a showcase for multi million pound videos on exotic islands. I sort refuge in the States, listening to Paisley Pop, IRS and Mitch Easter related bands.
The UK had become a wealth obsessed pile of self obsession. Bar the odd Aztec Camera or Icicle Works, none of what I heard related to my life. When you see every industry around you being closed down because it could be, a dole generation, someone singing on a yacht meant contempt. Then in 1986, I heard The Housemartins. This was great lo fi pop, beautifully and intelligently written, hints of Soul and Gospel, but at it's best when the three minute ditties were politicised. You could hare Thatcher tunefully. Me And The Farmer is probably my favourite single of the 80's.
By 1988, it was all over. Paul Heaton and Dave Hemmingway formed The Beautiful South. The choruses were still there, as was the acidic wit, but the music had greater depth, ranging from pop to easy listening, the bite was still there though. In a collection of songs known more for singing along to, the masterpiece is Let Love Speak Up Itself, a jazz tinged masterpiece.
For their fourth album, Miaow, Jacqui Abbott joined. This was a double bonus for me as Abbott is from my hometown St Helens. A Town that isn't famous for much now that the Glass has gone. She added a country tinge to the songs, another variation on the pop theme and songs such as Good As Gold, Don't Marry Her, Perfect Ten and Rotterdam became chart and fan favourites.
This was my favourite period for the band and after Jacqui Abbott left in 2000, the band continued until 2007 with diminishing returns. Paul Heaton's solo career was interesting, he could never be anything but, however it wasn't widely appreciated apart from those who took the time to listen.
In 2013 Heaton And Abbott reunited, culminating in the 2014 debut album from the duo, What Have We Become. The album is a real mix of styles, Abbott's voice is in wonderful form and it was Paul Heaton's best writing since the criminally underrated, Painting It Red. The album was a hit and I hoped for more.
2015's Wisdom Laughter And Lines continued the variation and the great mix of voices. There's even a Rock out on The Horse And Groom and some great pop on The Austerity Of Love. Overall the album is more reflective, perhaps a tad too much. So what about their third album?
So we reach 2017 and the good news is that Crooked Calypso is probably the best album of the three thus far. There is certainly less quirky pop. Heaton's writing is as bitter sweet as ever, but this feels very much like Abbott's album. Her voice is in fine form and she leads on the more memorable songs.
There's a real soul tinge on the album, Gospel Soul on I Gotta praise, Disco on He Wants To, which is very much in Sharlene Spiteri territory. She's Got The Garden is one of those bitter relationship rants, lyrically superb, to a Motown beat. It's Philadelphia late 70's on People Like Us.
Blackwater Banks is Irish Folk, The Lord Is A White Con is all Brother Lee Love, Silence Is Blue Mink with reminders of Ob-La-De Ob-La-Da. Love Makes You Happy is all Roy Orbison backdrop. He Can't Marry Her is the sort of big ballad that Glen Campbell was noted for. It could be a Jimmy Webb song.That's not to say the Pop isn't sprinkled around. Your Bit Of Stuff is classic Housemartins and The Fatman is a real romp through the best of Beautiful South.
The Deluxe Edition adds four songs and it gets even more interesting here. Since My Dearest Husband is all jaunty Brass with a killer chorus, The Future Mrs Heaton is lounge Jazz, the sort of moody ballad that Heaton does so well. Market Street is a 9 minute calypso. The Dice keeps that feel with a shorter more melodic bite. think 10CC's From Rochdale to Ocho Rios.
The Deluxe Edition is the one to buy, although 16 songs may be a little much for the casual listener, the additional four add a lot of variance. Heaton's songwriting remains as wonderful as ever, he's one of the better lyricists that this country has produced and the blend of voices works beautifully. Finally the band seem far more accomplished than Beautiful South days and the arrangements have more depth.
Highly recommended, Crooked Calypso is a fine album, a reminder that talent will out in these days of manufactured mediocrity. You can buy the physical product here and the download is available everywhere.
Matthew Melton is a talented guy. For 10 years, his Power Pop and Pop Rock reputation has grown and grown via Snake Flower 2, Bare Wires and most notably, Warm Soda. Warm Soda became College Rock darlings who were breaking out to a much wider audience.
Warm Soda's fourth album, released in May, suddenly became their final album. There was no touring, no promo, just an announcement that Melton was now part of Dream Machine with his wife, Doris. The sound is a marked departure.
Doris Melton is a heavy influence on Dream Machine, her keyboard playing has fashioned up a mix of Prog Rock similar to the likes of Rick Wakeman and ELP. This 70's feel is complemented by more than a nod to late 60's Psych.
Matthew Melton's pop sensibilities are still around and so amidst all this trip out stuff, there are still plenty of choruses such as on the Deep Purple esque, I Walked In The Fire with it's glam chorus. Caught In A Trap is all Classic Rock. Nothing Left's dreamy background has another great chorus hook.
The Illusion was released simultaneously with the Warm Soda album, providing confusion, but the album is splendid in what it does. In a world were Psych has become so derivative and Prog so over produced, this album hits all the right notes and sounds.
As ever with Matthew Melton, chaos seems to follow. The promo for the album included an interview that expressed the couple's views on immigration and feminism that led to them being dropped by their label, Castle Face Records. The album is now self released on Fuzz City Records. The demise of Bare Wires showed that nothing is ever simple with Melton.
One thing I've learned, over too many years to recount, is that it is best to separate the music from the musician. I've met a lot of my heroes and sometimes you wish you hadn't. Two of my greatest friends have political views that I disagree with intensely. To me it's about the music and if you get along with the artist or agree with them, that's great, but I find it best not to confuse the two.
You'll also find no Facebook presence from the band. The Meltons look upon Facebook as something that brings the worst out in people and perhaps this is a decent point. We do surround ourselves with like minded people. It's slightly different for me with what I do, but I certainly do not want to see another plate of food or someone telling someone sat next to them how much they love each other.
There is a second album planned for October which is more piano led and it would appear that Dream Machine will be a vehicle for experimentation. No mean thing. This is a great album, a listen from start to finish thing, just don't expect Warm Soda.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Friday, 21 July 2017
I've always been a You Am I fan, they are ensconced firmly in Indie Rock and where as that can be a bit ten a penny over here, it's less so in Australia which as always done bluesy grit rock and Power Pop and more recently singer songwriters and an edge towards Country.
There's no doubt that when Davey Lane joined as Lead Guitarist, first appearing on 2001's Dress Me Slowly, the bands sound got bigger. It also departed more from the template with hints of Psych and Power Pop at times. They had found themselves one hell of a guitarist.
So when Davey Lane's first solo album was muted around 2014, there was the usual worries of great guitarist going solo. I dreaded it would go all Big Boy Rock, particularly with his time spent in Jimmy Barnes's live ensemble. There's also a worry that band members who go solo, try to show how much talent that they've got and how they are so different than their band. Most end up over produced messes.
The resulting Atonally Young was far from that, there was variance, it was different to You Am I, but it nodded more to Beatlesque Pop and late 70's New Wave Stiff Records than Guitar Extravaganzas. Perhaps having been a one time addition to the Crowded House live band, should have given us all a clue.
Atonally Young was crowd funded and made for 15 grand and it sounded as though it cost much more. Even more impressive was a Covers Disc that was part of the Crowd Funding Project. The covers were inspired, a mixture of The Beatles, Nick Lowe, Todd Rundgren and even XTC's Earn Enough For Us.
So we arrive in 2017 with Lane's second solo album and it's even better than that debut. Overall it's firmly in the Clever Pop Department, with lots of hints of Psych and certainly far more keyboards than you'd expect.
The opener, I'll Forget Yr Name is all riff, with a chorus that hints at Supertramp's Logical Song. It's like an update on Mid 70's Pop Rock or Martin Rushent getting hold of a UK late 70's New Wave outfit. It's a stormer.
She's A Timebomb is like a psyched up Cheap Trick. A Lesson In Cause And Effect is Feeder type Brit Pop, I'll Set U Free is like Small Faces on LSD. Sinking May is pure Roddy Frame fronting The Motors.
The whole feel of the album is poptastic, wonderfully melodic. As a Psych Pop fan, I love it when the album veers that way and both the early Floyd like Komarov and the trippy Hit The City are wonderfully so.
At times, Lane's voice is very similar to The Orgone Box's Rick Corcoran, a real compliment. That really works on the brooding meandering Headley Grange, the only time the album slows down and it still morphs into a Brian May type Guitar solo.
The only downside is Witch In My Mind, which does seem forced, a Nile Rodgers type groove that is a bit plastic funk. However this is a minor quibble and after all this goodness, you'd expect the album to end on a high and boy, does it. You Had Me On Side is anthemic, it starts as a sort of lounge affair, rocks out and then ends as a soundtrack to an 80's Industrial Wasteland Film Soundtrack. A corking 8 minutes plus.
If you'd have said to me at the start of the tear that a guitarist from You Am I would be vying for my album of the year, I'd have laughed at you. As we reach the end of July, I'm Gonna Burn Out Bright is certainly doing that. It's a wonderfully cohesive effort, plenty of variance, but demonstrably melodic.
Well done that man!
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
My good friend Steve Alter told me I'd like Midnight Reruns and he was absolutely right. It's been remiss of me to not notice them thus far. The Milwaukee four piece have been releasing stuff since 2011 and their latest, Spectator Sports, makes all the right noises.
The band appear to live in the 70's, no bad thing, but I couldn't tell you what year because you have the full gamut of an age when music meant much more than the Playstation 4 or any mobile app. Hold Up The Mirror is classic late 70's New Wave, yet Only Child is classic Mid 70's Pop Rock.
Cicada 3311 is like Hello doing Aztec Camera, almost Mighty Wah like. Birthmarks / Fingerprints is a sprawling slab of rocked up Post Punk. Yet City Hall sounds like the more modern day Church, all Australian psych tinged.
The album only real slows down on the closer, Warm Days and that breaks into a much quickened Garage Rock. There are two instrumentals that break up the album, both very different. Celebrity Lawyers is all Prog, a bit Barclay James Harvest without vocals. Concourse C is all Psych Pop.
The riffs at times remind you of the likes of Porcupine Tree or even Rush. There's something very familiar about the album, but very different. It's certainly an interesting listen and highly recommended. You can listen to and buy the album here.
I Don’t Hear A Single is 1 Year Old today. It’s been a quiet July thus far, releases slow as the priority becomes Festivals. It was the same last year and that’s why I had the time to return to the public eye with IDHAS.
How this place has taken off has amazed me. I knew that no one was really covering the type of music that is here in the UK, but I didn’t expect the popularity. 10,000 hits a month is beyond any expectations. I only wished that this translated more into Sales for the artists featured here.
Having spent over 8 years with one form or another of Anything Should Happen, writing largely about the unappreciated past, I got tired of hearing that there were no new bands or artists or everything released now is rubbish. This was plainly untrue and I suppose this place proves that.
It’s been a heady 12 months that has expended into a weekly radio show with a second on the way, greater outside writing, promotion and a wealth of contacts and friends. It’s heartening, because it really is about the music.
The Facebook friend count grew from 500 to almost 4,000 in this time and I’ve had the pleasure of discovering bands from all around the world and meeting so many new people. My frustration is still that the UK scene doesn’t produce as many bands as it should and that opportunities for them to play are decreasing due to the public’s non-attendance of gigs.
Nothing lasts forever and there will be a time when IDHAS loses it’s impact or just becomes Old news. Happily that time seems far away at the moment. So a big thank you to everyone who visits, listens to a new artist and more importantly buys their work.
People say Power Pop doesn’t sell or interest people. I Don’t Hear A Single would appear to disprove that point.
Thanks to All. You’ve made an old man very happy.
Sunday, 16 July 2017
I apologise for the lack of reviews over the past couple of weeks. They return with a vengeance at different times throughout the week. It's been a busy time with different Radio Formats and rearranging things at ASH Towers to get the set up right.
The first four radio shows are now archived on Mixcloud for your aural delight. Episode 5 is on Friday at 8pm UK Time. You can find the previous four here.
Friday, 7 July 2017
I Don't Hear A Single's Radio Broadcast gets nearer to beating the number of A Nightmare On Elm Streets tonight. Music featured on here, some that are coming up and a couple of archive songs. Be There Or Be Somewhere Else.
Broadcasting at 8pm UK Time tonight and repeated at the same time tomorrow. You can find the show here.
Here's this week's playlist. Nice bit of J-Pop to start us off from that feller from Weezer.
01 Scott & Rivers - Doo Wop
02 Mimi Betenis - Sound The Alarm
03 Rozwell Kid - Total Mess
04 The Major Labels - Velveteen Queen
05 Richard Turgeon - Bigfoot's An Alien
06 Nick Piunti - Dumb It Down
07 Reachback - The Party's Over
08 The Geezers - All Is Gold
09 Midnight Reruns - Only Child
10 The Relationship - Hate That I Love You
11 Somerdale - Excuse Me
12 Skytone - We Are One
13 KC Bowman - Second Dart
14 Rocket Bureau - Silhouette
15 Mothboxer - The Secret Art Of Saying Nothing
16 Artful Dodger - Wayside
Plenty of New Reviews are coming over the weekend.
Saturday, 1 July 2017
Rozwell Kid have been compared to Weezer a lot and whilst that has been a fair enough comparison, I tend to feel it holds them back slightly. Of course, there is that Nerd Rock vibe, a label, incidentally, that hasn't applied to Weezer for a long time, but that's to ignore the clever pop that Rozwell Kid offer up.
Something like Boomerang can easily be compared to Weezer, but it can also apply to the more grown up stuff of a Sugarplastic or a Verve Pipe. MadTV is such a reminder of Ben Esbach and when the band move away from this, they don't have quite the same effect. There's nothing wrong with Clever Pop, in fact it's an Art Form. The problem, as I'm sure Andy Partridge would tell you, is that it gets loads of Critical Acclaim, but far fewer Sales.
So Precious Art is full length album Number Four from the West Virginia Popsters and they've lost none of their Power Pop charm. There's lots of clever references to the more mundane things in life.The riff on UHF On DVD stands comparison with any of the hotter Power Pop Bands that you want to name, say Fountains Of Wayne.
Wish Man reminds me a lot of Tsar, even if it only does last for 55 seconds. There's a lot to be compared to the early Tsar, a young band who it felt had been around for years with their sound and references.
I'm not sure the subject of Booger will appeal to the older market who these guys should gather in, but the closer, Michael Keaton will. It's an extended almost six minutes with an extended riff ending. It works beautifully.
Jordan Hudkins has a real knack of writing about the everyday things in life and making them interesting. It certainly is a different angle to come from and it works. The most engaging songs are the likes of Wendy's Trash Can and Total Mess. The Banal subjects seem to make great songs and this is a great album. If this album had been recorded in 1994 it would be lauded by the Forty somethings now, let's hope they have the same feelings now, Precious Art certainly deserves the recognition.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Kyle Urban's Rocket Bureau project makes no bones about where it is aimed. These current recordings are brought together as lost tracks from between and 1967 and 1973 and they cover all the Power Pop styles prevalent around and just after the time. Bubblegum Pop to Pilot to The Raspberries, Glam Rock to Badfinger. All recorded on 8 Track.
They don't always work, but do more often than not they do and there are some absolute gems here. Along Comes Sam is like a Glammed Up Strawbs and She Dreams In Colours is a cracking shot at Psych Pop. Nightmare is an absolute cracker of a song as good as anything that was actually from those years.
Phantoms Ringing is so cleverly done. The references are spot on. What may be seen as a piss tke of a bygone age is actually a really well formed album. You can listen to and buy the album here.
A combination of searching for great pop and our World Tour brings us to Austria and The Geezers cracking second album. New Day is all joyous pop, big choruses, rocking but gently. It's a song led album, reminiscent of the likes of Roddy Frame and the poppier direction of Brit Pop's better days. The songs have a simple feel, an aim to have you singing along in the sun.
All Is Gold is a stomping opener, Proclaimers like and Reflection is all Manc Anthem. That's All is Scouse Pop jangling and Let Go's Brass backdrop adds to a Terry Hall like feel. Hollow is very New Order. It's hard to convey what a great feel good album this is in so few words, so I hope you'll take my word for it.
There's a lot of variation and it doesn't always work. The Disco of Heartbeats is a bit unnecessary. The album as a whole is an absolute joy though and highly recommended. You can buy it at the likes of Amazon here and listen to more song samples there.
In Between Spaces, across it's ten tracks, explains why I love the current batch of Californian Pop so much. Beautifully Produced, Melodic, Riff led and with just enough of a hint of what's gone before. San Francisco's Richard Turgeon has conjured up a splendid Riff Heavy affair. You certainly Rock, but essentially in the sun.
Turgeon is a one man Art College, music, art, illustration, photography, writing, the album though shows nothing less than full concentration. It feels like that 90's US Rock heyday. when the lines between Power Pop and Singer Songwriters blurred. Think Matthew Sweet when Richard Lloyd was with him and imagine Mitch Easter producing them.
There are times when Turgeon sounds a touch IRS era Stipe, but the album as a whole is very much melodic rock that starts with a hook that grabs you more and more as the song progresses. There are times that this mode is stepped out of, the likes of the pacy The Candidate which has a bit of a modern day Santana feel, but it's at it's best when it does what it does because it's done so well.
At times, there is a melodic Bob Mould or even Let's Active feel, all good things, I also think Scott Miller at times. Songs like the opener, Big Foot's An Alien and I Don't Need You are wonderfully anthemic and Turgeon's Guitar playing is top notch.
In Between Spaces is a corker of an album, an ace way to spend 37 minutes. You can listen to and buy the album here. You should!
The Relationship is Weezer's Brian Bell's other band. Their 2010 debut album was a fine listen. Seven Years on, Clara Obscura is a real step on. Weezer are in the middle of Power Pop and Indie Rock, The Relationship veer more towards 60's and 70's Melodic Pop Rock with a hint of Psych. Refreshingly so!
There will be a search for Weezer comparisons and there aren't many, the superb Hate That I Love You is the nearest. This album has a much higher quota of pop, a lot of it retro and it works beautifully. Without Me is a real anthemic Sing Along, Working On Myself is a broody stomp along that gets faster and faster as it progresses.
Smile is all Byrds jangle, Hawthorne is Petty at Muscle Shoals. This Year's Children has an ace Orchestral arrangement, all Ringo Drums, a big album closer. Suzy Don't sounds all Paisley Pop, Missing is early 90's Scots Pop and Break Me Open is the obvious single.
There are a lot of ideas here, all lead towards clever 60's Pop, perhaps a few too many ideas that may confuse the listener. The Relationship now sound more like a proper band, not a rolling collective and it shows. Clara Obscura is a great listen, a real joy.
You can buy the album everywhere.
I'm a bit late reviewing Imperial State Electric's album from last year. However I've been playing All Through The Night since it's release and even more lately. I've followed Nicke Andersson through most of his previous adventures. Drummer in Entombed to front man in The Hellacopters and on to Imperial State Electric. Death Metal to Garage Rock and now Classic Rock.
The album covers a lot of bases, virtually all of them in Rawk mode. Bad Timing is very New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and Break It Down is a Country duet with Linn Segolson, the rest though is in far more comfortable territory.
The riffs are generally plenty and there's some real nods to wards Harmonic Pop Rock on Empire Of Fire and Read Me Wrong. Get Off The Boo Hoo Train is all dirty Rock n Roll, Would You Lie is Classic Blue Oyster Cult, even the guitar sound and the closer, No Sleeping, is all acoustic and moody, eerily Moody Blues.
The gem though is the title track. It's all strings and melody, a great slab of AOR that just romps along. Truth be known is that for all the variation, Imperial State Electric are best at this lighter Rock when the melody shines through and you realise that are a lot of these songs are hook laden. Another 12 points for Sweden from the British Jury.
You can buy the album everywhere.
Ottawa's Skytone would have you believe that they Jangle and of course they do, but not in that 12 string way that you would envisage. This is Great Pop, done with a croon and the jangle is in a 80's sort of way, although the harmonies are very much mid 70's Pop Rock.
All this works beautifully, Jangle Waves is wonderfully laid back. The guitar riffs are very C86, but there's plenty more thrown into the mix. Drop In The Water is all funky in a Mid 80's vibe that you can imagine appearing on Hit Mix 86. Think of Lloyd Cole fronting Johnny Hates Jazz.
Lonely Holiday starts off as though it were on one of those classic Jigsaw albums of the mid 70's and ramps into a real celebratory sing along with a new riff and a Mark King Bass riff. There's so much in Lonely Holiday that a song like On My Mind seems a simplistic ballad, but either work.
I suppose other reviewers would lob the album into Dream Pop, but that would be really unfair because there's far more depth and thought in the songs than that. Flower House is all trippy and moody with an Eastern vibe.
Skytone definitely belong on the beach with this variance on Summer Pop, but the Beach would be all pebbles and the tide would be going out. There's plenty of obvious influences on the album, but combined this makes Jangle Waves sound very different to what is around at present.
This difference makes the album a welcome listen. There is a definite groove and funk wanting to break out, but it never quite does because deep down Sky Tone have a real melodic backdrop that makes their so songs so likeable. Jangle Waves is Great Pop, but not necessarily as we know it.
You can listen to and buy the album here for a bargain 5 dollars.
Friday, 30 June 2017
The broadcast of IDHAS's second hoedown is tonight at 8pm UK Time, repeated at the same time tomorrow. You can get to it here.
I will be putting the first episode on here over the weekend for those that missed it. There's also plenty of new reviews coming over the weekend.
Look away now if you want to be surprised by this week's show.
The Sunset Spirit - To Have It All
The Runarounds - Falling In Love
Cliff Hillis - Never In A Million Years
Danny DeLaMatyr - Fade To Grey
The Dahlmans - Forever My Baby (Feat. Andy Shernoff)
Rob Martinez - Love Life
Everybody Else - Out All Night
Mark Morriss - Adventures
The Mono LPs - Cherry Red Lips
The Dangtrippers - Headhunter
Baz Francis - Standing On Your Shoulders
Purple Melon - Henry's Rocket
1881 - Not Quite As Good
Lannie Flowers Band - Kiss A Memory
Spygenius - (Rock and Roll Is An) Old Man's Game