Sunday, 7 February 2016

SMASH Fashion - Junkie Luck (Ltd. 7")

LA's premier junkshop glam outfit return with a brand new 7”!

The current cachet of junkshop glam seems to be spreading. The Italians are well represented by Giuda and Faz Waltz of course, and the UK has Ulysses, but in glam's capital city of LA where glamour and sleaze go together like Jack 'n' Coke, or er... Hugh and Divine, there's the mighty SMASH Fashion, the self-confessed dandy-rockers whose penchant for power chords is matched only by their fondness of the dressing-up box.

Their LP Big Cat Love won over a new legion of fans in 2014 and the band now follow it up with a brand new 7” on lovely bright red vinyl. 'Junkie Luck' turns the feelgood factor up to ten, and features a tale inspired by Lee Harvey Oswald Band guitarist Zowie Fenderblast. If bands with sunglasses indoors, floppy velvet hats, and Flying V guitars is your thing look no further. And this band has tunes made for both FM and AM radio. The A-side is the sonic equivalent of a Chunky Kit-Kat, big on melody and riffs and a real sugar boost! The flip shows the band's roots via an equally enjoyable stab at Golden Earring's Long Blond Animal'. As welcome as a backstage pass! Let's party!

Click here for the band's website.
Click here for SMASH Fashion on Facebook.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Cyanna Mercury ☿ If We Were Blind

Good friends of ours Cyanna Mercury have released a video as a taster for the forthcoming debut LP. The as yet untitled album will be releases later this year but you can sample some of its delights thanks to the video they've made for 'If We Were Blind'. It's a psychedelic rock tune based on the traditional greek dance rhythm of zeimbekiko. Enjoy!

Click here for the band's website.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Chemistry Set - The Endless More And More

Fire up your Bunsen burners! '80s Brit-psychers return with a brand new studio album.

In the late '80s The Chemistry Set bravely flew the flag for 60's influenced psychedelia. It may have been against the grain of the prevailing trends, out of step maybe with what record labels and the wider public wanted but in music you just gotta follow your heart ain't it!

Fast forward to January 2016 and the reformed Chemistry Set have a brand new long-player for those who keep the faith. With the widened tastes and more open and accepting minds of the internet generation, the time is right for fans old and new to take this record to their hearts. A teasing taste of what you can expect was released last year on the 'Elapsed Moments EP', (also on Fruits De Mer Records). Time may have passed but talent lasts.

Time may have passed but thankfully talent lasts. From the opening fanfare of 'The Splendour Of The Universe' there's a sense of vigour, a renewed sense of purpose. This track in particular is a great calling card, combining a psychedelic mindset with the bombast, swagger and melody of mod-rock.

With all the sonic hallmarks of psych-pop intact (Mellotron strings, snatches of sampled dialogue, fairground organs, backward guitar solos etc.), fans of original '60s era psych can add The Chemistry Set to their approved list of contemporary bands. And Oasis fans will appreciate the cheeky nod to Shakermaker on 'Albert Hoffman' along with the way they house their brand of psych in such sugar-coated, whistle-able, sugar-coated pop tunes.

Limited to 600 copies on gold vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with a special fold-out periodic table poster. Also look out for the very special boxed version in the spring which comes with test-tube filled candy and a selection of experiments. Intriguing eh! You may not have received a chemistry set for Christmas so treat yourself to one of January's best albums instead.

Click here for more on The Chemistry Set
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Paolo Spaccamonti - Rumors

A David Axelrod for the alt-rock and electronic generation!

Not a remake of the Fleetwood Mac bestselling LP as some might hope, this is an entirely different beast made up of arty instrumentals. In much the same way that Daxid Axelrod mixed rhythm and blues with third stream music to create something contemplative and with a deeper resonance, Paolo Spaccamonti mixes alt-rock, looped chord sequences and soundscapes that at first listen seem beguiling but over time reveal a transporting power all of their own.

His technique of repetition and layering is at times in danger of being bogged down by its own seriousness but he does do it rather well. Deeper listening shows there to be a myriad of influences and styles at play; post-punk industrial guitars, a nod to OMD's Dazzle Ships, a touch of sludge-rock on the album's heavier moments, and even some Robert Kirby style pastoral strings on the closing track 'Fango'. Spaccamonti already has some impressive collaborations to his name both live and in the studio. This solo outing will cement his already growing reputation.

Click here for Paolo Spaccamonti's website.
Click here for Paolo Spaccamonti on Facebook.
Click here for Escape From Today.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Dreadnaught – Gettin' Tight With EP

Old dogs, new tricks! New Hampshire proggers' latest EP!

It's something of a mystery that Dreadnaught are not more widely known. It's nineteen years since they formed (yep nineteen!) and as their latest EP Gettin' Tight With shows, descending into blandness or stasis is not an option for these chaps. The five-song EP opens with the dense prog calling card of 'Nervous Little Dogs', all intricate virtuoso playing which for all its complicated twists and turns manages to hold together and er.. rock!

The prog tag is somewhat misleading as over the course of the EP there's traces of country rock, skewed funk, jazz fusion and Steely Dan-style sophistication and smoothness to be heard. It's this freedom in their approach which appeals most, along with their sense of humour. You get the feeling they take the music seriously but not themselves. Fans of old school prog bands such as ELP, King Crimson, Genesis and the like will wet their pants over this stuff. As will open-minded fans of good music in general. Get on board!

Click here for Dreadnaught's website.
Click here for Dreadnaught on Twitter.
Click here for Red Fez Records.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Orphan Brigade: Soundtrack To A Ghost Story

Southern Gothic epitomised. The American Civil War inspires album and documentary.

The American Civil War was a brutal, harsh affair which set brother against brother. It still resonates and haunts modern America as illustrated by the recent controversy over the Confederate flag and its continued use in the Southern states. It still fascinates but is rarely used as subject matter in contemporary roots music. The Orphan Brigade: Soundtrack To A Ghost Story is a suite of songs featured in a documentary about Octagon Hall – a Civil War-era plantation house, reputed to be haunted. Soldiers of the First Kentucky Brigade were stationed nearby, and it's their writings and journals that that have inspired the songs featured in the film and on the accompanying soundtrack album. The musical collective also took their name from the unit's nickname.

The story of the American South is complicated, but the music here will teach you as much as any history book. A project such as this could easily have come across as dry, stilted and worthy but such is the skill of the musicians and writers involved this is not the case. Each song focusses on the personal, human stories that take you into the heart of the subject in a deep and powerful way. The music is mighty fine too, a hugely enjoyable example of Americana, which also displays some European and Celtic roots. It may also contain the finest (and sadly prescient) new Christmas song you'll hear this year, 'We Were Marching On Christmas Day'. Whether you believe in ghosts matters little, but it's difficult to deny how actions and events echo down the years.

Click here for more on The Orphan Brigade.

THE ORPHAN BRIGADE - Soundtrack To A Ghost Story // THE FILM from Neighborhoods Apart Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus – Beauty Will Save The World

Cult Liverpool musicians' new album searches for truth, beauty and meaning in a messed up world!

Musicians reforming for the coin may garner more column inches but when they do so for the music, and because they have something to say, the results are infinitely more interesting and worthy of our attention. Such is the case with Beauty Will Save The World. After an 18 year hiatus RAIJ feel the time is right for for the world to hear their latest work. A low-key release it may be, but one that deserves and needs to be heard.

With such a loaded album title (a Dostoevsky quote), the music has a lot to live up to. It doesn't disappoint. Comprised of ambient, soft cinematic soundscapes with poetical spoken word passages drifting in from the ether in a variety of languages. Over several listens a central thrust emerges, one concerned with religion, beauty, truth and transcendence. The music is gentle and tinged with sadness yet manages to be both elegiac and hopeful. Although there are several languages throughout the album (every continent represented), the album is about connections rather than differences. Truly music for the healing of nations. It may get overlooked in the end-of-year/Christmas scramble but you're unlikely to find a more affecting and unique album. Recommended.

Click here for RAIJ on Facebook.
Click here for Occultation Recordings.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Fallen Leaves - Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair (Ltd. 7”)

South Londoners' latest 7”, very limited and very very good!

There's a lot of fuss currently about 1966, due in no small part to Jon Savage's book, 1966 The Year The Decade Exploded. Those of us in the garage world have always known that the year represented some sort of high water mark for guitar bands before fragmenting into either drug addled psych, overblown proto-metal, or back-to-the-country navel-gazing.

Which brings me to The Fallen Leaves, whose latest single on Market Square Records harks back to that classic and timeless '66 Beat Explosion, all taut riffs, snappy beats and guitar jangle. Neither overproduced or overblown, just great taut songwriting and playing which evokes every era of back-to-basic bands, from the '60s garage scene, through punk and onto the DIY ethos of '80s indie.

B-side 'The Inside Of A Chair' is a more aggressive affair, all instrumental apart from the spoken “Hello” and “Goodbye” that bookend its short sharp blast. All in all this 7” is a cracking double header, managing to bring together all the threads and strands of what a great four piece band is all about. Get it while it's hot!

Limited to 300 copies complete with a hand-numbered postcard.

Click here for The Fallen Leaves' website.
Click here for The Fallen Leaves on Facebook.
Click here for Market Square Records.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Everlasting Yeah – Anima Rising

Ex-members of That Petrol Emotion return for more manic pop thrills!

That Petrol Emotion were a band whose critical reputation was not matched by record sales. If anything they were a band out of time. For a band made up of former members of The Undertones, a smaller following did however mean the band had more artistic freedom after casting off the pop shackles. With a sound that was spiky and angular, but bolstered a solid rock-funk groove the band were out of step with the populist Britpop sounds when they split in 1994. It was a further ten years before Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads, Maximo Park and the like cashed in with a style that owed much to TPE.

Twenty years on from their dissolution the final line-up of TPE return with a new name, a new outlook and no diminishing of their talents or enthusiasm. On their debut album as The Everlasting Yeah round all four members share vocal duties along with writing credits. Egos and genres are left at the door leaving the band free to go where the muse takes them. They describe their sound as Keltic Kosmische Musik on their website. While that may be a somewhat bold claim there is a sense of freedom, an abandonment of tried and tested routes, but with a remaining belief in the power of a good strong tune.

The Keltic Kosmische claim is most evident on closing opus 'The Grind' where the band stretch out into an extended hypnotic jam. Elsewhere top session saxophonist and indie music biz lifer Terry Edwards makes a guest appearance on 'Taking That Damn Train Again', a sterling lesson in skronk 'n' roll. There's even room for some indie-funk on '(Whatever Happened To The) Hoodlum Angels'. Fans of boundary pushing guitar music from Television through to QOTSA will find much common ground here, and much to like!

Click here for The Everlasting Yeah website.
Click here for Occultation Recordings.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Shifting Sands - Cosmic Radio Station

Antipodean shoegaze alert!

To title your 2nd album Cosmic Radio Station is a bold move but not if the sounds it contains can back it up. Fortunately New Zealand trio The Shifting Sands have concocted a pleasing mix of hazy shoegaze and indie thrum and chime which more than backs up the claim. Softly sung vocals and poppy melodies break through the wall of sound making the album as much about tunes as it is about textures.

Highlights include the moody 'Making It Through' where the band get a chance to max out their pedal boards, 'Coming Back', a pop tune in noisy wolf's clothing, and the short instrumental 'Whareakeake', a nod to where the album was recorded, its yearning folk melody adorned with baroque strings. Throughout the record noise is tempered by melodies, which break through the shimmer like sunshine through clouds.

Fans of Chaptehouse, Slowdive and the like will feel right at home, as will those of The Jesus and Mary Chain. Other signposts include The Psychedelic Furs, Kurt Vile, and Ultra Vivid Scene. That said, there ain't nobody around right now quite like The Shifting Sands. Check 'em out!

Click here for The Shifting Sands on Facebook.
Click here for Occultation Recordings
Click here for Fishrider Records.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Optic Nerve - Penelope Tuesday / Here To Stay (Ltd 7")

Lost recordings from the Brooklynite's mid-noughties reformation.

Much like that other New York band The Velvet Underground, The Optic Nerve may not have played much outside their home city, or sold many records in their brief first flowering. But posthumous LP releases by Get Hip and Screaming Apple Records have resulted in a well deserved re-appraisal of the band's sound.

In 1985 on our side of the pond, bands such as Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The Bodines et al were taking inspiration from mid '60s folk rock, dressing like Sterling Morrisson and finding an appreciative audience. In the US such back-to-the-garage mentality was out of step with what mainstream audiences wanted. Punk rock had yet to go overground.

Skip forward to 2005 and The Optic Nerve mainstays Bobby Belfiore and Tony Matura form a new line-up of the band to record an album's worth of material. These recordings ended up shelved for a further ten years. It's only now, that State Records are issuing two cuts from these sessions.

'Penelope Tuesday' is the upbeat, poppy A-side, sounding like a summer smash best heard on AM Radio. Flipside is a more considered moodier affair, big on jangle, vocal harmonies and descending chord sequences. Both sides are worthy of your attention though. Let's hope that full album will sometime see the light of day.

Click here for The Optic Nerve on Facebook.
Click here for the State Records website.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou – EXPATRIOT

Long awaited fourth long-player from TM & HL takes an intelligent and compassionate look at the hard times of old/new England.

For their previous album, 2012's La Ferme De Fontenaille, husband and wife duo Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou spent ten days recording in a barn located in the Pay De La Loire, France, aided by little more than a pair of guitars and a 4-track cassette recorder. For their latest album they've enlisted the help of recording legend Ethan Johns whose label Three Crows Records is jointly releasing the record with Trevor and Hannah-Lou's own Anglophone Recording Company.

The pair have busied themselves between album with a series of tours, most notably opening for Tori Amos throughout Europe and North America. Fortunately for us listeners they've also found time to write. Matching Ethan John's heightened sonic focus on the new album is the song-writing which is as sharp and incisive as anything from their back catalogue. As hinted at by the album title's play on words, EXPATRIOT sees the duo explore a recurring theme in their writing, that of nationality, what it means to be British, or more specifically English. And also just how deep rooted are the systems that perpetuate our problems with ourselves and the rest of the world.

The opening title track sets the tone, a rallying wake-up call to a population whose “daydreaming days may be done”. 'Galley Hill' casts a compassionate eye at the refugee crisis over an early Beatles chord sequence while 'Up Mercatoria' paints everyday vignettes of working life in an area of the duo's hometown and subtly references the founding blocks of how we interact with the rest of the world. 'Babe To Cradle' is an album highlight, a genuinely sublime track with Dylan-ish use of alliteration, examining monarchy as well as warmongering and extremism. For all the serious topics the album ends on an optimistic note with 'A Better Day' complete with a sing-a-long chorus and kazoo solos.

As a nation we precariously balance hope and despair, pride and shame. The latter pairing none more so when it comes to how we view and treat the rest of the world. Our borders may be made by God, but our frustrating insularity is wholly our own. It's a sensitive area and one that a lot of musicians shy away from. Not Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou. If only more musicians were prepared to examine these issues in such an intelligent and compassionate way. Especially now we need them to more than ever.

Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou will be supporting Ron Sexsmith on tour this October as well as opening for Jools Holland later this autumn - 

Jools Holland dates
Thursday 29th October – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
Friday 30th October – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
Thursday 12th November – Colosseum, Watford
Saturday 14th November – Barbican, York

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Tir na nOg – Ricochet (Ltd7”)

Tir na nOg's newest mystical masterpiece! A taster from their first studio LP in over 40 years!

Tir na nOg were and are trailblazers of genre defying acoustic music. The duo formed in 1970, released a string of critically acclaimed albums. and achieved a sizeable cult following before splitting in 1974. The pair re-united in 1985 for sporadic live shows and have recently stepped their touring up a gear, much to the delight of fans old and new.

Their reputation as acid-folk luminaries is now further cemented by the release of new track 'Ricochet' on a coloured vinyl 7”. Taken from the forthcoming album The Dark Dance, (their first in over 40 years), it resembles a devotional Sufi song more than it does Irish or English folk, with echoes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, acoustic Zep and even The Sisters Of Mercy. Drone, Arabic scales and percussion are the order of the day, lending the song an air of urgent mysticism.

The flipside features a previously unreleased live version 'Tir na nOg'. It's a cracking take on their signature song and proof that the pairs' talents and enthusiasm show no signs of diminishing just yet. Land of eternal youth indeed!

Click here for Tir na nOg's website
Click here for the Fruits De Mer website.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Wrong Society – She Destroyed Me b/w Without You (Ltd. 7”)

A double pronged ode to love gone wrong from Hamburg's newest garage band.

One of the garage scene's default lyrical themes, (hell one of life's themes I guess!) is love gone wrong, being mystreated by a lover who you'd put all hope and faith in. With this in mind it could be a case of treading (dirty) water for German garage band The Wrong Society whose second single, and first for Paul Messis' Market Square Records, has this staple subject at its core.

Through sheer spirit and conviction however this is not the case. She Destroyed Me is a four chord stormer charting the love-gone-wrong aftermath. It's bolstered by high-in-the-mix tambourine and a Vox Super Continental keyboard solo. The Hamburg based quartet have a more measured, reflective take on the situation on the flipside Without You, where the protagonist's feelings turn from anger to sadness. A nice addition to any deejay's 7" box.

On 7” black vinyl, limited to 300 copies complete with a hand-numbered postcard.

Check out The Wrong Society at one of their upcoming German gigs -

September 22nd - Molotow Skybar, Hamburg
October 1st - Feinstaub, Frankfurt
October 2nd - Goldgrube Kassel
October 3rd - Sonic Ballroom, Cologne
October 16th - Roadrunner's Paradise, Berlin

Click here for The Wrong Society on Facebook.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Magic Bus – Seven Wonders b/w Eight Miles High (Ltd. 7”)

Devon band's take on the Canterbury sound is as warm and welcome as a ray of late summer sun.

Magic Bus make music that lives up to their name; it delights, dazzles, and takes you places you want to go. Their first single for the Fruits de Mer label contains an original A-side, Seven Wonders, backed with their take on The Byrds' Eight Miles High. It may just be the pick of the crop of FDM's early Autumn releases.

If you want comparisons think Caravan and the Canterbury sound. Think gentle, pastoral home counties psychedelia. Think Englishness as encapsulated by Robert Wyatt-esque vocals. Think hops fields, sunny days and games of cricket. But really don't think at all, just listen. You won't be disappointed.

The initiated may have already heard Seven Wonders as it's taken from their Transmission From Sogmore's Garden album, their 2nd for Static Caravan Records. For the rest of us this first meeting is as warm and welcome as a ray of late summer sun. Along with its strong melody and harmonies worthy of Crosby, Stills and Nash, the band prove equally adept at wigging out as evidenced in the song's proggy coda.

Eight Miles High is a slowed down take on The Byrds classic with an almost Gregorian vocal intro. Any folk-rock urgency is replaced by a more measured jazz swing. Similarly it's flute and synthesizer that take flight on the solos instead of McGuin's garbled guitar. Very nice indeed!

Click here for the Magic Bus website.
Click here for Magic Bus on Facebook.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.