Thursday, February 28, 2013

Contrails - all that glows

Contrails is an indie pop band based in Vienna in Austria who have a purist approach to pop music, spurning pointless technology in favour of the traditional instruments but using them to produce a modern and multi-layered rich sound. This is the band's debut album and it is a thing of joy. Intelligent and thought provoking indie pop such as on the opener "Castles" with its beautiful melodies. "Point of endings" has a delicious acoustic driven melody and has a pleasingly retro air to it.

"I, the rocket" which builds from an understated acoustic beginning adding a layer of strings to perfectly accompany the vocals. "High times" is my highlight though which opens with a beautiful piece of flute before flying into a very catchy indie pop song. Contrails have a distinctive and addictive sound who everyone who likes intelligent pop music should check out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Of The Pops (16/02/78)

Its been some time but lets review Top Of The Pops again (nothing to do with Savile, just got out of the habit). And we're into February 1978 with Kid Jensen...

Tom Robinson Band - don't take no for an answer
A high energy rock start to proceedings from their new EP. Tom and the band are on fine form. The organist is playing the organ a claw for some reason. Hopefully a rubber prosthetic one and he is not an alien or hideously deformed in some way.

Kate Bush - wuthering heights
Kate's debut on TOTP and what a debut! A song that sounds like nothing else apart from maybe that it has come down from Mount Olympus, or a mysterious world where nothing really makes sense. What does this song and performance really mean apart from SEX?! Its amazing in every single way...

The Darts - come back my love
From the sublime to the ridiculous. I've never got why so many bands over the years have tried to revive doo-wop, it was bad enough first time around. The singer is wearing a lovely fake leopard skin jacket, Bet Lynch was probably waiting impatiently backstage to get it back.

Legs & Co are up next in full classy flowing white robes to prance to Rose Royce's "wish upon a star".

Billy Joel - just the way you are
Film footage of Billy Joel playing his classic hit. A good time for the charts and the show indeed with this and "wuthering heights" on at the same time. Kid reflects on there being so many good singles around at the moment, indeed there is but i'm not sure if the following can be included in that...

Sweet - love is like oxygen
Its nice and inoffensive but no more. Nice guitar break though at the end.

Elkie Brooks - lilac wine
Elkie is here to brighten things up according to Kid, there is plenty of purple or lilac on the screen anyway. A superbly un-pop song to add some contrast. That is the magic of Top Of The Pops.

The Bee Gees - staying alive
This is the highest new entry naturally, it was all about the disco and Saturday Night Fever at the time. Its a fine song but massive overexposure has not done it many favours over the decades.

Magazine - shot by both sides
Another debut and a glorious new wave thrash. The energy is turned up on stage if not the audience who are probably knackered by now.

ABBA - take a chance on me
ABBA are at number 1, well it was pretty common in the late 70s. We get the classic MV with the split screens. Like with the Bee Gees song its one thats been played so often its hard to get much enthusiasm for the track anymore, but its a fine song and a deserving number 1 with its pop thrills.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Psychedelia at Abbey Road 1965 to 1969

An ambitious title though there are a few omissions from this album, no Beatles of course but the songs that are there are often fine and sometimes brilliant. Artists who are on here include Donovan, The Hollies, Tomorrow and Syd Barrett (you'd probably heard of them?!)

Highlights include The Hollies' sweet harmonies on "King Midas in reverse" and the anthemic "10000 years on my mind" by Focus. Syd's brooding and stark "golden hair" is an amazing track. One criticism of the album is that many of the tracks are quite obvious but you can't deny the quality.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Of The Pops (Best of 1970)

The end of the psychedelic era and the start of the harder cheesier 70s as depicted by the Top Of The Poppers session musicians. This collection includes one of the highlights of the entire TOTP line, that being the cover of Hendrix's "voodoo chile". Although it starts off pretty close to the original it evolves into a guitar wig-out of its own and is pretty damn epic.

The key to a good TOTP album is the selection of tracks current at the time that they could cover and 1970 was a particularly good year, tracks like "Bridge over troubled waters" and "Spirit in the sky" are on here and are fine. "Lola" is a bit anaemic, musically fine but the singing is a bit off.

Best track is the amazing cover of "Band of gold", like many tracks on here it gets you in the mood for dancing. Great year, great covers, great album.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Super Water Sympathy - hydrogen child

Super Water Sympathy belongs to a genre they created called water pop, so whats that all about? This new album blends rock with a poppy edge with something the band call "symphonic ambience". That is water pop, well it sounds amazing is all i can say. They also stand out apart from the field, bringing something quirky and different and exciting to an often drab and samey music scene.

The lead-off track "Uh oh!" is jaunty and fun with powerful vocals, the following "Purple poppies" is even better though with its beautiful yet varied melodies. "Pipe dream" starts off with a haunting melody and builds into another great pop rock track.
"Sunday school dress" is a poppy stomp full of great hooks. "When you are not around" starts with a beautiful piano melody and builds into an atmospheric epic of a track. "Shadow" is another great track, uptempo and another strong vocal performance underpinned by dancey synths and a powerful hook-laden chorus.

A great album chock full of great pop songs. This is "water pop", lets hope we hear a lot more of it.

Hydrogen Child will be released in April 2013 on In Music We Trust

Greta Garbo's record collection?

There are millions of blogs out there and many of them cover rather strange and wonderfully obscure topics (i have a few myself), but one of the strangest recently that i have come across is Greta's Records by Allison Anders. Its a brilliant blog written by someone who bought the record collection of the late screen legend Greta Garbo in auction and now writes about the records they have found in the collection.

At first glance this might seem an odd thing to do, especially as Garbo's last movie was in 1941 so the records covered might seen rather old and obscure, but Garbo lived until 1990 and lived a private life refusing many offers to make a comeback after retiring at the age of 35.

Garbo is therefore an interesting character and her record collection is a lot more contemporary then you might think including the likes of the Beatles and The Byrd's Gene Clark as well as world music. The delightful blog discusses the records in the collection and what they might have meant to Garbo as she listened to them.

No Napalm Death yet but you never know...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crown Point - curtains EP

US based Crown Point produce an infectious brand of alternative pop with synth and electro undertones. "Curtains drawn" is a great opener with some lovely pop hooks coupled with a driving guitar based melody and a sound that can remind you a bit of 90s Duran Duran or a rockier Tesla Boy, maybe a bit Muse too. "The room" has some great vocals and builds up into a good pop rock track.
"Afterbirth" and "Better run for cover" take the pace down a bit and are both atmospheric tracks with some ringing guitars. "Head first" is one of the heavier tracks on show and has rock power buried with the pop hooks and sounds pretty amazing.

This is modern, fresh and cool alternative pop and i love it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Give us a like!

Trip-TV now has its own Facebook page, just created so there are hardly any likes, but you can go ahead and change that by visiting it now! The Facebook page will be a place for great articles, videos and other stuff on the crazy world of indie pop and alternative rock which this website covers...

Thats the plan anyway, lets see how it turns out.

Southern African heavy metal

Heavy metal is a truly global music form with amazing metal scenes all over the world, including Southern Africa. The Guardian has published this fascinating article about Botswana's metal scene including a photo gallery of metal fans which is rather Mad Max-esque. Heavy metal is a rather obscure and niche music genre in the country but growing steadily mostly through word of mouth. More photos from Botswana's metal scene including some leather clad fans can be seen here.
Check out this video by one of Botswana's metal bands Skinflint.

Angola is another country with a small but growing heavy metal scene. This article covers the country's death metal scene, a genre said to be better able to convey the country's war torn recent history than some other music forms.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Bloody Valentine - mbv

About a million years after "Loveless" MBV suddenly emerged from their cryogenic dungeon to release another album (via their own website). And "mbv", as the album is imaginatively titled, starts off sounding pretty much like "Loveless" (though this changes as the album progresses). But thats no bad thing, how do you follow an icon that changed everything? More of the same? Why not, lets try.

Its a bit uneven though, some of the tracks can pass you by a bit, especially early on in the album where MBV are in Loveless 2.0 mode. "She found now" for example is fine with its low throb of noise and wispy vocals but doesn't jump out at you, maybe a little bit too similar to before. That all changes when we get to the amazing "Is this and yes" with its Stereolab-esque keyboards and space-rock tones that ease you into a retro-futurist soundscape, then when Bilinda starts to sing you are taken into another galaxy. Its wonderful it really is, maybe already the best song of the year.

"Wonder 2" is very interesting, reverse echo melody and drum and bass with a tune that could come from the best 60s LSD induced trip on top. "New you" is a great track, in some ways quite conventional (at least in MBV terms) and a lovely chilled pop tune.

"mbv" as an album is fantastic and is mysterious. The sudden return of the band after such a long hiatus surprises and delights, as does this album. It is a different world now than the early 90s but MBV are just as relevant as ever.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Action Painting! - these things happen (Sarah)

Action Painting!'s first single for Sarah (there was a long gap before the second) was a lovely moment in indie pop. The title track had an organic melody and vocals that sounded a bit like Robert Smith, the song also built in acoustic glory to a beautiful pop crescendo.

Flip side "Boy meets world" was a frenetic pop track, short and sweet. Vocals that somehow mixed urgency with disinterest allied to a simple but joyous melody. This single was indiepop perfection.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Live : The Ritas / Flowers / The Rileys / Pale Man Made (London Sebright Arms March 02 2013)

Four indiepop bands blasting out your eardrums in the dungeon like basement of an East London boozer, there is nowhere else i would rather be. Tonight we saw elements from the past, present and future of indiepop. Or something.

The Ritas started the night off. Ironically The Ritas are based in Birmingham like me but the first time i get to see them live is in London. The Ritas are two sassy women and a sometimes misbehaving drum machine producing razor sharp punk pop. They started with "Glitter and doom", one of my favourite songs from the last few years and it was totally amazing. They ended by invading the audience area. PUNK ROCK!

Flowers will have a record out soon on Cloudberry, they could be the next big thing (well in indiepop terms anyway). Punky and poppy with great female vocals. They had a few problems with the instruments (which i think were all borrowed) but shone through with some blistering pop tunes.
The Rileys, C86 originals, were back after a long absence (they said 17 years, really so long?) Drumless due to illness but no less lovely were their often folky pop songs. They loved being back and that just reflected the glow from the audience.

Pale Man Made ended the night, what a great band too. Tight and throbbing with indie pop power. A driving melody accompanied by waves of guitar noise. A storming end to a storming night.