Friday, 17 November 2017

Partner - In Search Of Lost Time

Throughout the second half of the 90's onwards, I have been extolling the virtues of Alisha's Attic. A lot of my circle thought I was mad, that I'd lost all my Rawk credentials and it'd be The Spice Girls next. They are still wrong.

Too many people associate AA with the cooky I Am I Feel, when they are a duo who got better and better and their third album, The House We Built is an absolute pop masterpiece, Pretender Got My Heart being the best single that people will never hear.

I mention Alisha's Attic, not just because Partner are a female duo, the Pooles are sisters, Josee Caron and Lucy Niles, are not, but the spirit of that UK duo is never far away from my thoughts as I listen. They are certainly a more rocked up version, but that dual vocal works in a very similar manner.

I've seen the Canadian duo compared to The Breeders, Green Day and Dinosaur Jr. I don't hear anything like that here. Partner are more like a higher fi version of Ween, certainly the wit is there. People will obviously look for female comparisons, but there aren't many around.

Gross Secret is very Alannis Morrissette in structure and vocal, Creature In The Sun is a bit KD Lang, but these songs have far more in common with early Weezer and one thing that isn't in doubt is that Caron can play Guitar. It's this Lead playing that takes Partner on to another level, bordering on the Power end of Power Pop.

The solo on Remember This is blistering. The album does lose a bit of steam, but that's only because the front half is so strong. Opener, Everybody Know is a classic example of how to write a Pop song, hooks, an almost rap on the verse and a guitar solo to play on your tennis racket.

Comfort Zone is pure Weezer, Angels From Ontario reminds me of that third Alisha's Attic album until it goes all wonderfully rock out. There's also real wit in the lyrics, particularly on the likes of Daytime TV.

In Search Of Lost Time is an astonishingly accomplished debut album. This is great great Pop, I can't wait to hear more from the band. Well done all. You can listen to and buy the album here. You should!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 22

The I Don't Hear A Single Radio 22 has just been sent to the lovely people at KOR for tomorrow night. It's a corker.

This year shows no sign of letting up. The first cut of the show was 45 minutes too long. So this week, there are no archive songs. 17 new tunes to direct your ears to including one by 50% of XTC.

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 one shows here.

Here is this week's playlist :

01 Bullet Proof Lovers - One Last Night
02 Shrug Life - Temp Job
03 The Moms - Good Job
04 Crime Scene - The Real Thing
05 TC&I - Scatter Me
06 Hi-Standard - Time To Crow
07 Vista Kicks - Gimme Love
08 Role Models - I Want More
09 Kerosene Stars - Lost
10 The Stars Explode - Matthew Sweet
11 The Cleaners From Venus - Scarecrow Hair And Saucer-Eyed
12 Treadmill Trackstar - Better Thing
13 Dirty Fences - Teen Angel
14 Watts - All Done With Rock n Roll
15 Rare Monk - Artifice
16 J Eastman And The Drunk Uncles - On Your Dime
17 Felsen - You And I Will Meet Again

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Dave Kerzner - Static

I've often said in the past that although I am known for Power Pop and Pop Rock, I have a much wider taste and a particular penchant for Prog. I'm talking King Crimson, Rush in side long mode, Gabriel era Genesis.

As for Modern Prog, I love Big Big Train, Porcupine Tree and Francis Dunnery, but I normally back away from the genre. This is because I find it over produced, kitchen sink how fast can you play rubbish. The songs are forgotten in the race to show technical dexterity.

Normally, this would be reviewed as part of The Garden Of Earthly Delights section, but it's so good that it deserves to be stand alone. Static is a corker of an album. Normally when you hear the words Rock Opera, you run as fast as your raging legs will take you. Also when you find that Dave Kerzner is a keyboard vocalist, you think capes and long long cape worn solos.

Well for those in the know, Sound In Contact's Dave Kerzner is not a bit like that. With the odd exception, such as Reckless and Statistic, the keyboards are hardly around, this is twin guitars and you'd probably not know this was a Rock Opera if I hadn't told you. Also, before you get sniffy about Prog, remember that both Dave Gregory and Colin Moulding are largely in this fold now.

Kerzner's second album is far more in the Big Big Train, Gilmour led Pink Floyd mode. Indeed Big Big Train's Nick D'Virgillo guests as do the likes of Porcupine Tree's Colin Edwin, Steve Hackett. Kerzner's core group and live outfit feature the splendid Fernando Perdomo.

For all the great arrangements and playing on show, Static is all built around Kerzer's superb voice. It has a mellow quality that rivals Jeff Lynne or Eric Stewart, but he can stretch out like a Colin Blunstone or John Wetton. This is unusual in the genre, in which vocalists line up to sound like Peter Gabriel.

Indeed, the title track could be ELO and the strength of the slower numbers such as Right Back To The Start reveals that vocal quality.  Millennium Man is very Alan Parsons Project and State Of Innocence is a wonderful harmonic ballad.

For the majority of this album, you'd label it as a great Pop Rock album. However, Prog is not forgotten as the closing The Carnival Of Life is a 15 minute Prog Masterclass, all time signature changes, just what us Proggers get off on.

Static is an exceptional album, it deserves to be listened to. You can buy it here and everywhere.

Nick Knowles - Every Kinda People

When I started IDHAS, I stated that I'd only review things that I liked. I'd wrote some cracking bad reviews in the past, but it's much easier to write something negative. But I felt that I wanted to celebrate what was good and ignore what was bad. So if I don't particularly relate to something, I don't review it.

For the Nick Knowles album, I make my one and only exception. It's brought a whole new meaning to the word music. It is as though he's got someone else's teeth in whilst singing these songs. Even Karaoke singers find it hard to ruin a song as good as Andy Fraser's Every Kinda People. Nick manages to do just that.

Nick says that not a lot of people know that he plays guitar and sings, sadly they still don't. I've no problem with TV Presenters making albums if it means people go out and physically buy albums, this though should earn Andy Fraser 37 and a half pence.

The Universal PR person was obviously pissed when they wrote about Nick's rich timbre lending itself to crisp dark nights and roaring fires. Warning Kids! Do not put CDs on the fire. The promo video above has surely been directed by Ricky Gervais. His Mid Atlantic vocal is straight out of Billinge Labour Club 1976.

Nick obviously wants to be Robert Palmer as he has form for this as you'll see below. The one good thing about the album is that it only has eleven songs on it. Also, at least his version of Every Kinda People is not as bad as his version of Here Comes The Sun.

I was so outraged about this album that I will be returning it to B and Q tomorrow to steady that wonky French Dresser by the door.

The Tomboys - Sessions One And Two

Being Big In South Florida wouldn't normally drive the masses to listen to a band, for that's what The Tomboys were. In the 80's, the trio spent their teens to mid twenties garnering that reputation. They've now decided to remix and remaster their back catalogue and release it across four EPs of which these two provide the first half.

Not only that, but these recordings are provided as free downloads. These days the threesome have moved on to different things, so it's fantastic to discover their lost past. Vocalist and Guitarist, Tommy Anthony has been a member of Santana since 2005.

Raul Malo will be best known to most for founding The Mavericks in 1990, whilst Joe Alonso ran a successful music business. The first EP, Sessions One, is very much the New Wave that we all know and love, a mix of both UK and New Wave. UK beat, US harmonies.

The final song on that EP nods far more towards US AOR, think Foreigner, certainly a crunchier guitar sound. The second EP builds on that AOR direction, although the opener, Always After You, is a bit more like The Knack doing AOR.

Open Your Arms starts like a Rush Signals Era song, Malo's Bass is Lee like, whilst Anthony's Guitar is Lifeson like. The song though is pure Adult Orientated Rock. Whilst Extremes is very Bass driven, almost Thin Lizzy doing a slow moody.

I can't wait for the other two EPs. In the meantime there is no reason at all not to head over to the band's website and download these EPs now. You can download both FREE here.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Wesley Fuller - Inner City Dream

Melbourne's Wesley Fuller offers up his first full length album and it's great 70's Pop. A mixture of Bubblegum, Jangle and images of 70's Kids TV shows. There's a real charm throughout the album that is both endearing and admirable.

Both Inner City Dream and It Can Change My Ways are pure late 60's Bubblegum, The Archies spring to mind. Yet, Someone to Walk Around With is all 70's Glam Rock, handclaps and all. Whilst, Morality is like a theme to a 90's Japanese Cartoon series.

It's not all poppity pop though, the moodier Miranda Says is slower and atmospheric, very early 80's before the UK scene was taken over by make up and what you wore, almost BEF. No More Chances could be on a late 60's Film Soundtrack, all trip Beat Pop.

There's also signs of a more New Wave direction, away from the Pop to a darker experimental side, never more so on Biggest Fan. After the excellence of last year's Melvista EP, Inner City Dream moves on apace and promises even more for the future. If there's a better single than #1 Song around I haven't heard it. It's all jingle jangle and even has a cars like keyboard break.

You can buy the album everywhere. Sound samples can be heard on the likes of Amazon here.

The Nines - Colour Radio (American Transistor)

Steve Eggers and Bill Majoros were a marriage made in heaven in my eyes. In fact I often have dreams in which they are in a Supergroup with Andy Partridge and Jason Falkner, but enough of my fantasies. On his third outing in The Nines, I still expected that at some stage Majors would turn the band into an Oranges And Lemons era XTC.

Although you get the odd sign of this in for instance, the solo on Maybe If You Stayed, the XTC connections are lesser if you except the chorus hooks. Whereas The Nines started as a sort of cross between XTC and ELO, leaning more towards Partridge, here they are very much more in Lynne Territory.

I remember Lennon saying in his latter days that if The Beatles were still around they'd sound like ELO. At the time, the outcry was deafening, it would be interesting how that would be taken today with Lynne's stock being so much higher. It would be nearer to say that if they were around now they'd be The Nines.

Unlike the previous album, Alejandro's Visions, reviewed here, Colour Radio is far more in traditional Nines Great Pop territory, in fact Eggers's voice is in fine fettle. Straight off with the opener, Crazy Little Girl, the song is all ELO hooks and harmonies with a vocal similar to Jeff Lynne's shouty On The Third Day era.

The McCartney Pop of Maybe If You Stayed has that incredible Majoros solo and again ELO like harmonies. But it's not all Lynne references and there's still XTC nods. We're Alright is classic Partridge and Majoros does his Dave Gregory bit to perfection.

The ballad, Guess I'm Crazy, is pure Eric Stewart and The Nines go funky with You Can Get More Than This with it's great keyboard solo. It doesn't always work, In Our Younger Days is a corker of a song spoilt a little by the Kelly Groucutt chorus.

That's a minor quibble though. For A Lifetime is in Peter Skellern territory, a good thing. Don't Be Losing Your Game is a kind of dancing Andrew Gold and he's nicked Peter Frampton's gizmo. I'm Lucky is one of those ballads that Macca should write and doesn't and hasn't for a long time.

To close it all, we have the Christmas song, Believe In Christmas. Unlike my friend Stephen Schnee, I wouldn't care if I never heard a Christmas Song again, all that forced jollity and celebration of the twee. It's a fine ballad, if a little sickly. But I'll forgive anyone who can write as great a piano romp as On And On She Gets By.

Colour Radio is a great pop album. The Nines are battling with my beloved Rush as my favourite Canadian band. Same again next year please Steve and Bill, can we have more Foreign Films soon. The album is available everywhere. You can listen to additional sound samples at CD Baby here.

Ed Ryan - Furious Mind

Ed Ryan's previous album, Roadmap, was reviewed here and Furious Mind follows on with all that was great about Roadmap. The songs are beautifully constructed taking up the rockier space in Power Pop.

Loads of hooks, soaring choruses, everything you need from an album. As I mentioned in the previous review, despite being a multi instrumentalist, it is Ryan's playing that deserves special note. It really is outstanding, even when slowed down on the likes of Take Me Home it still stands out.

Songs are largely built to maximise the chorus, but on I Know I Know, there is potentially three choruses. So Hard is almost a Ziggy Ballad and Lullaby has a great vocal, it caught me completely by surprise.

There's a few more chances taken here, particularly on the slower songs, but it's the sure fire Power Pop that Ryan excels on most. Songs like Drifting and Any Time You Want showcase his talent for writing something that hooks you and then there's that Guitar Playing which is exemplary.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Garden Of Earthly Delights

The Granite Shore - Suspended Second

I purposely wanted this to appear in The Garden Of Earthly Delights section. Simply because I want this section to be useful to those not looking for the Poppier stuff that I concentrate on, but at the same time for those Pop fans to realise what else is around.

I'm a massive Fan of Nick Halliwell's Occulation Recordings, not only for dragging The Distractions back into public view. Any label that has John Howard on it is doing something right and every sign tells me that this is a label to reckon with.

The Granite Shore's second album is a cracker. Halliwell may have a plaintive vocal, but there is a fantastic structure and melody to the songs and the choruses don't half hook you. The seriousness of the message isn't lost in this follow up, but the debut album, Once More From The Top was a bit too reflective.

Suspended Second contains songs that seem a bit more jolly, even if the lyrics are not for Brexiteers. I defy anyone to write a song as beautifully melancholic as Someone Else. Ditto the nine minutes plus of The Performance Of A Lifetime which features completely addictive Backing Vocals.

Halliwell describes the album as Angry Pop, that's too easy a tag. The depth of the songwriting shows that he is being way too modest. The inclusion of Occulation label mates allow the vision to be reach fulfillment.

The Distractions' Steve Perrin is present as is The June Brides' Phil Wilson. The dulcet tones of John Howard are here as is that extraordinary piano playing. Arash Torabi and Ian Henderson complete the sextet.

Nick Halliwell has offered up an exceptional album on an exceptional label. You can listen to and buy the album here.

Bad Badger - Serpent Mother 

Wichita Falls's Bad Badger have fashioned up an excellent album. The band are labelled with the all encapsulating Indie Rock. I mean what exactly is that these days? It would appear to be anything that is potentially Rock and not on a major label. Does it have quite a few synths on it, is there much guitar, no, oh that'll be Indie Pop, yes, oh that'll be Prog.

Serpent Mother is pure Rock and on something like New Pigs, the instrumentation is Caress Of Steel like, it's wonderful psych prog. Then there's Band Of Wagons which you'd expect to be on the Fruits De Mer label.

Lucid Livin' is so laid back it is almost asleep. Anna too is more of the same, mesmerising. Indeed the whole of the second half is far more dreamy and trippy than the pulsing of the first half. The two halves are divided by an interlude, all albums should make this mandatory.

This is a corker of an album, extremely mature, as well as grabbing the Nada Surf and Lemon Twigs crowd, Bad Badger should garner a much older following. Indie Rock indeed!!!!!! This is pure psych and all the better for it. I'll pass this on to my good friend, Chris Sirett at The Perfumed Allotment. I know he'll want to cover it too.

You can buy this everywhere including CD Baby here and Amazon here. Listening samples are at both places. Ignore the categories though. Blink 182?????

Trent Reznor And Atticus Ross - The Vietnam War (Original Score)

The Garden Of Earthly Delights section was always meant to be something away from what I generally cover on IDHAS. It was intended to be away from the Power Pop and Pop Rock and from now on, it will appear regularly and do just that.

Nine Inch Nails which is essentially Trent Reznor have been known largely for Industrial Rock, really enjoyable but hard listening. Reznor's soundtrack work with Atticus Ross, who is now also a NIN member has been largely different.

Although Reznor had worked alone with Scores for David Fincher, since his collaboration with Ross on 2010's The Social Work, the projects have developed considerably. Their scores fit the films beautifully, yes this is ambient, but it is also effective. Not as up itself as some ambient music can be. Think Bill Nelson, who also makes wonderful albums in that field, although there are perhaps too many.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's excellent Documentary series, The Vietnam War, is a big watch, 10 episodes taking up 18 hours. So although there are two different albums to accompany it, there is room for both.

The alternative soundtrack will be the one people naturally gravitate to. That is a bit obvious with it's Simon And Garfunkel and Creedence Clearwater Revival. All a bit Now That's What I Call Classic Rawk. Surely most people have this stuff already.

This double disc is the gem. It's very moving, can be listened to as background music or in depth. If you are composing an Electronic Music score, you have to make it interesting, it can't just rely on a Prog like repetition of the same theme.

Reznor and Ross manage that. It's a fine listen briefly or through all 95 minutes. This score can be compared to a modern day Classical Composer's work and there is still more than enough room for this and three minute love songs.

You can buy this everywhere. The likes of Amazon have sound samples here.

Artful Dodger - The Complete Columbia Recordings (2CD)

I rarely cover Back Catalogue on here unless it is something dear to my heart. A number of reasons. I cover a bit elsewhere, I've spent far too long over the last two decades, listening to and writing about the past, but mainly because I prefer IDHAS to be about the new and unappreciated.

However, if the right band come along, I'll say a few words and this is a few words.  Artful Dodger are one of the great lost Pop Rock bands, akin to Liverpool Express in the UK. Their self titled debut album and the follow up, Honor Amongst Thieves have appeared on CD before, but the masters were dreadful and they fetch very high prices these days or did until perhaps not.

1977's Babes On Broadway has never appeared on CD and although it's not a patch on the previous two, it's great to have it available again. These three CBS albums have Single Versions of Scream and Can't Stop Pretending added to the two disc package.

Sadly 1980's finale, Rave On was on Arista and so the wait for that continues. Big In Cleveland, I suppose describes Artful Dodger with their Raspberries Pop. But this is great Pop Rock. Don't confuse the band with the UK Artful Dodger or you will get a nasty surprise.

This can be bought at Amazon here and everywhere else. Sorry for the quality of the song examples. There's not a lot available.

Crime Scene - Alter Life

Crime Scene's Alter Life slipped out without fanfare at the start of the year and it deserves much greater attention. It pushes all the right Pop Rock Buttons and enhances Sweden's reputation as purveyors of great pop.

Ulf Holmberg may be known more for his guitar excellence instrumentally, but he's also been involved in some great Pop. The self titled Longplayer album lit up 2011. It was very much in Jeff Lynne mode but worked beautifully.

As well as being a part of the splendid Manticore, Holmberg is in the four piece from Upsala, Crime Scene. The resultant album is still very much in the 70's or even latter day Beatles, but this is great melodic pop. Think Badfinger or The Raspberries.

All the hooks are there and the tricks, hippy Eastern guitar on Old Sage Moon, the Harrison like slide on On A Limb. The title track is one of those big 70's anthems that close Alan Parsons Project albums.

If it does get a little ELO in the odd moment, it's more ELO Part 2 than Jeff Lynne. Mother Of Troble is all Glam Rock with a Keith Emerson like organ opening. This is excellent Pop Rock, nothing out of the ordinary, but beautifully done.

You can listen to sound clips and buy the album at the likes of Amazon here.

Shrug Life - Shrug Life

Dublin's Shrug Life are tied in with Seattle's excellent Jigsaw Records and this would appear to be a match made in heaven. Jigsaw do not get enough praise for their contribution to Guitar Pop and the world would be a much poorer place without them.

As for Shrug Life, well they are 2017's answer to The Housemartins. The same glorious lo-fi, the rapier wit about the mundane and the chirpiness of the material. The trio are just the thing in this Post Brexit Trump World. Forget about it for a bit and celebrate the every day rubbish and nonsense.

There is seriousness here though, again Paul Heaton like, the chirpiness delivers a serious view. Your Body is about Pro Choice in a Proclaimers style delivery. At Times, this wit about the mundane can be compared to Half Man Half Biscuit and there are the similar folky tones around some of the songs.

Never Bored rocks out as much as you could expect Shrug Life to and that song still returns to a calypso like rhythm. Skype Calls has a lyric that you would expect from The Bordellos or Colin's Godson.

I'm not sure what Free Bird II is meant to be, but it's wonderfully anarchic, all jangly with lo-fi budget versions of Guitar solos at either end, a sort of Pound Shop Skynyrd. The hilarious closer, Japanese Bonus Track, is a country folk summer with an almost Morrissey vibe.

This album is an absolute joy, One of the best things that I've hears all year and probably the most satisfying. Wit, lyrical depth and all done in a charming poppy manner. It's an absolute corker, well done Shrug Life.

You can listen to and buy the album here.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 21

The I Don't Hear A Single Radio show hits Number 21 tomorrow.

Some great stuff as always. Apologies for the delay in reviews, they'll be appearing across the next three days. It's been busy with other stuff that you'll hear about in the near future.

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 shows here.

Here is this week's playlist :

01 The Zutons - Tired Of Hanging Around
02 The Sunset Spirit - No Time To Pretend
03 The Nines - Maybe If You Stayed
04 P76 - Postcard from Bondi
05 Richard Thompson - Valerie (Andy Kershaw Session 1987)
06 Sitcom Neighbor - Your Turn Next
07 Mothboxer - Get It Right
08 Daisy House - Desdemona
09 Doctor And The Medics - Burn
10 John Howard - From The Morning
11 The Brixton Riot - Little Spark
12 Wesley Fuller - All the Colours Of Sadness
13 Jeremy Neale - Averse To Try It
14 Red Cabin - Garden Walls
15 Dirty Fences - Teen Angel
16 Worriers - Not Your Type
17 The Red Plastic Buddha - Cosmonaut
18 The Morning Line - All Mine

Thursday, 2 November 2017

I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show Episode 20

The I Don't Hear A Single Radio show reaches the Number 20 tomorrow.

It's another good 'un, a bit of extra Psych Pop this week and so a cut down on the usual three archive songs. You'll know the opener though which was my teen anthem and is still probably my favourite single ever.

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 nineteen shows here.

Here is this week's playlist :

01 Eddie And The Hot Rods - Do Anything You Wanna Do
02 Third Of Never - 18 Strings
03 Martin Carr - Damocles
04 The Screens - Jennifer Jones (Radio Edit)
05 Telyscopes - Alcoholics (The Last Drop)
06 The Ragamuffins - Oxygen
07 The Luck Of Eden Hall - Reflected
08 The Yellow Melodies - The Urban Cyclist
09 Idle Jets - Atomic Fireball
10 The Tomboys - Always After You.mp3
11 The Condors - Matter Of Fact
12 The Zags - A World Away
13 Ed Ryan - You're My Kind Of Fun
14 Titty Citty - Granny Got Game
15 Rockford - Tuck Me In
16 The Bordellos - Genre And Gender