Monday, January 31, 2011

Orbital (1) - scars

Its always nice to discover a new comic series, "Scars" is volume 1 of the Orbital series which presents an intriguing future where Earth has joined the intergalactic confederation but humans are seen as still rather primitive and dangerous and are being held back by the other alien races.

In truth this is a similar idea to how humans were held back by the Vulcans in the 22nd century in the Star Trek universe though in Orbital humans are relegated to being bartenders and security guards until one finally makes the elite diplomatic corps who keep the peace. Such a selection is controversial, especially as his partner is from an alien race with whom the humans have already had a bloody war.

This is a well written and illustrated story and is very entertaining. The artwork really evoked an incredibly varied and impressive future galactic civilisation. There maybe isn't a huge amount of action but I feel that's because there is a lot of back story to establish. This book really set up the rest of the series for what looks to be a very interesting ride.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

MV : "Lo que quieras" by Dënver

Interesting pop duo from Chile, h/t indie-mp3.

Brighter - disney EP

What do you think of Brighter? Whole lotta magic.

This was the end of Brighter, their last release on Sarah and amusingly the last track on this 5 track EP was called "End" too. Its Sarah C86 distilled to the ultimate degree, concentration X. A mournful fragile and beautiful piece of pop.

"Killjoy", which opens the album, is quite upbeat. Almost weirdly upbeat for Brighter indeed with its jangly guitar chords and driving bass but still a perfect Brighter moment, the chorus is wonderful. "British summertime" is maybe more typical Brighter, a slow sad and fragile pop tune. To me there is no better band that this, their music speaking directly to my heart.

This was the end of Brighter and what a way to end, a perfectly judged EP. Thank you Brighter for all you gave to me and many others.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Trembling Blue Stars - fast trains and telegraph wires

Is this the end of the Trembling Blue Stars? Maybe so after seven albums but its a good way to end. The legacy of the Field Mice still shines through on what has to be the ultimate post-Sarah C86 group (or super group really considering who has played for them over the years). "My face for the world to see" is classic TBS, great indie pop song and opens the album well with its acoustic driven swift melody.

"In arrivals" is my favourite though, long-distance relationships strike a chord with so many of us these days. It has a great key change too, something i notice appearing more and more in indie pop these days. Its all there, great songs, great melodies, great writing, superb pop moments. The flame has been kept alive, it'll be interesting to see where the various personnel involved go next. CD #2 which is an EP of more experimental tracks from Rob Wratten could maybe give a clue.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Orchids - thaumaturgy

The last Orchids single for Sarah Records was this, though i seem to recall they did release an album after it. That marked the end of The Orchids of course, some of my interest in indie pop died too... But lo, they returned in 2005 as did my love for indie pop!

So what is this like? A sweet acoustic beginning taking you into a beautiful soundscape dripping with great pop moments. It carries out at a good pace, guitar work razor sharp but gentle and an ending which disappears into an electronic echo fest. More creativity in 4 minutes than most bands or artists could hope for in a career.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent - Part 1

I haven't done a comic review for a while, well lets put that right with what is a superb piece of work in many ways. "The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent - Part 1" is the latest Blake & Mortimer volume translated and released in English by Cinebook and like all the others is a very accomplished, if rather dense, graphic novel.

The first thing you have to say about this is that the cover artwork is beautiful and really draws you in. The actual story itself is also very well done in the clear line style. The story is of course fairly complicated and very wordy but if you have read a Blake & Mortimer story before you will expect that. To a new reader it may be a bit daunting but i urge people to stick with it. This isn't a comic you read quickly, its one you have to spend time with to get the best out of it.

The story again mixes elements of pre-war intrigue, mystery and the occult with post-war "flying saucer era" science fiction and early Cold War adventure. In this volume we also get to see a fair amount of Professor Mortimer's past too as a young man in India and how he met Francis Blake for the first time!

Can't wait for part 2 now!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Harper Lee - all things can be mended

Its funny you know, i didn't think a band could hit me in my heart and soul as much as Brighter did (and still do) but Harper Lee have achieved it. But then again Harper Lee in many ways is Brighter 2.0 being the band Keris Howard formed after the break-up of Brighter in the early 90s.

Musically Harper Lee is very similiar, the sound is more refined and the production quality higher. Its basically very melancolic and introspective indie pop. Harper Lee is what you could get if you got every sorrowful indie C86 band in history and could somehow distill them down into one band.

So i think they are wonderful, with their jangly guitars and lyrical despair. Its simple music but beautiful. "I don't need to know about your wonderful life" is somewhat upbeat in tempo but not in sentiment. With songs like "This is the sound a heart makes when its breaking" and "Everybody leaves" you might think this is too solemn to truly enjoy. But far from it, as i have said on earlier Harper Lee reviews this is pragmatic despair. A realisation that life sucks but one must just get on with it.

If you are into music like this like me then you would struggle to find anything better than this.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Flying Saucer Attack - wish

Some things always stick in your mind, one was when John Peel played "wish" by Flying Saucer Attack, he wasn't sure if it should be played at 45 or 33pm so ended up playing the song 3 times at various speeds. "Wish" is a song i love. I imagined this was actually alien rock. Somewhere across the galaxy aliens had picked up our old rock & roll radio transmissions, heavily distorted by the time they got them, and thus tried to reproduce this lo-fi and blissed out noise. And this was the result.

Well i was pretty dreamy in the early 90s, still at uni. Yet to experience the horror of the "real world". This is beautiful music, a delicate melody amid a sea of noise that takes me back. I bet alien rock does sound like this anyway.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Nova Saints - the draft EP

The Nova Saints are a band who have gained a fair bit of kudos though are taking their time getting to that debut album. Its due for release this year (according to Wikipedia) though the band itself dates back to 2003 when they were known as Spencer. This EP was their debut from 2006 when they also changed their name to Nova Saints.

Its good hard psychedelic shoegazing indie rock. Of the four tracks on here "Slow down" stands out the most with its hard guitar driven melody. A couple of the other tracks were a bit average maybe, such as the title track which didn't really make much impression on me but overall you can sense this band is set for great things. Very much in the vein of the harder original shoegaze bands, they have been compared to the likes of Ride. I can see (or hear) what they mean but i think there is something else there, something special. Waiting for that album then.

MV : "Shine on" by The House Of Love

Classic time!


In the late 1980s Bernard Sumner of New Order formed this new group with Johnny Marr of The Smiths, the Pet Shop Boys also coming along to help out. How could the result be anything else but awesome? Well it could easily have been a mish-mash disaster of course or bland like supergroups so often are but Electronic rocked. Electronic gave Sumner and Marr a chance to do something different from their "day job" bands though the result is maybe more like New Order, especially as that group was to progress in the 1990s.

Electronic mixed some lovely 80s guitar work with luscious electronic pop and its definitely a pop album with a number of hit (or should have been) singles such as Getting Away With It which featured Neil Tennant on backing vocals. Overall the album slots neatly into the latter stages of 80s synth-pop. The guitar work and songwriting elevating the album beyond its peers. Sumner even tries to rap on a couple of tracks. Not very well to be honest but it does work, especially on Feel Every Beat. The album is a triumph on all levels without a single bad track.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unrest - Cath Carroll

Unrest was an underrated US indie band who should have been massive in the early 90s (of course). But then again everyone was going grunge and Brit Pop at the time so well crafted guitar indie pop was obviously passe.

No matter this is one of their best singles, a tribute to the British singer. Its an amazing stomp of a pop record, you will dance to this! As well as great melodies and a juicy pop feel the song mixes in some sonic experimentation. In many ways this song summed up the late Unrest sound, the band started out in the early 80s very experimental but over time added a pop sensibility whilst still retaining their adventurous side. Great pop art cover too, i'd love this as a blown up print for my wall!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - higher than the stars EP

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are awesome yeah? The best exponents of C86 indie pop today, this single from 2009 includes the terrific title track plus a few other pieces of indie goodness. Oddly though the best track is the least POBPAH of the lot, a remix of "Higher Than The Stars" with some retro early 90s electronic thrills and vibe. The rest of the EP is POBPAH as you expect: beautiful guitar pop and sweet melodies but the remix is something special.

This is something that it would be cool for the band to explore more in future perhaps.