Friday, February 28, 2014

Top 5 Records of February 2014

1) The Kensingtons / The Rileys - everything nicer than everything else
2) Emily Bindiger - Emily
3) The Ice Choir - afar
4) Chas & Dave - that's what happens
5) Ruthann Friedman - Windy : a Ruthann Friedman songbook

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Edward Woodward - this man alone

Yes that Edward Woodward! He released a couple of albums in the early 1970s of which this was the first. Released around the time Woodward was finding fame in the role "Callan" the album ties in with the series slightly with his look on the cover and one of the songs (the title track) using the TV series' theme.

So how terrible is it? In the early 1970s record companies, awash with cash post-Beatlemania, were releasing all sorts of dubious albums (yes i have once owned Tony Jacklin's "swings into") so how bad is an Edward Woodward album? Actually its not bad at all, Woodward could sing for sure (and very well as a crooner) and the album is a perfectly passable sub-Matt Monroe collection of ballads.

"This man alone" is cold and dark, as with much of the album the song deals with isolation and being on the outside. The most interesting track is probably "The tide will turn for Rebecca", written for the album by Elton John and Bernie Taupin! Its quite a soaring number, maybe somewhat overwrought but i guess that adds to the overall fun and satisfaction this album can give you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

College - teenage color EP

Neo-synth or 80s revisited electronic dance music can be a wonderful thing and a blitz of familiar pop cultural references if you grew up in the 80s (as i did). College produce lovely music, fresh and familiar at the same time, the soundtrack to a TV series about a car with laser beams that somehow never got made. But should have.

The title track has a great meaty melody line and is the best slab of 80s synth funk since ...well about 1989. Drum machines kick in just at the right time, layers and layers taking you away from the dullness of the modern world and back to the electric possibilities of an earlier age. "My secret romance" sounds a bit like a lost New Order remix, which is certainly no bad thing.

Its the perfect soundtrack for cruising in your Lamborghini Countach... or Ford Fiesta maybe.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MV : "Arcadia" by Ramona Lisa

A new Chairlift album is in the works, but Caroline Polachek has also been busy with a new solo project.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Postcode - zebratronic

At the time of recording a duo, Mikie and Marie a.k.a. Postcode (the Isle of Man's most famous zebra fans of course) on their third album present a different and excitingly experimental sound. Drum machines, synths and plenty of noise thanks to alternate tuning added to the noise power and menace of earlier times. "Be back before dawn" has echoing guitar feedback plus a fuzzy melody and sounds pretty amazing.

There is a lot to enjoy on this album but to just pick out a few tracks: "Losing the battle" has a frenetic beat underpinning waves of noise. "Escape" wrings menace out of what sounds like a Casio keyboard and a melody that sounds like Earth after an alien invasion. "Epitaph" has some 80s goth feel and the echoes of guitar chords from the last ice age. "Out of my mind" has what sounds like a TASER (i'm sure its not, actually no i'm not sure at all).

Postcode's new album is amazing, inventive and thrilling. Mysterious and powerful, esoteric and straightforward, tender and brutal all in the space of a few seconds. Its true alternative music, different and dynamic but so listenable too. Its the best album of 2014 so far, i know its only early in the year but to beat this will take some doing.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Syarlothsita (SEA Indie)

Syarlothsita love to play for both children and adults and as you can imagine therefore their songs as on this EP for SEA Indie (available as a free download) include a good deal of whimsy and cuteness. Both of these helped a great deal by the inclusion the likes of the ukelele and glockenspiel in their music. Syarlothsita actually produce lovely music, its cute and intelligent and well crafted too such as on the sweet ballad "Jane and the rain".

"When we have our arm fold" continues in the same vein, sounding a bit like the theme tune of a beloved yet half-forgotton children's TV show. "Circus in town" is perhaps the most overtly "children-y" track though its also the sparsest of the 3 songs on the EP with just a piano backing. Oh its lovely, it'll probably make your teeth fall out with its sweetness but so will Cadbury's Cream Eggs and you don't mind do you?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tommy February6 - Tommy airline

Tommy February6's second album continued the synth and electro vibe of before, this time going deeper into dance pop with a definite 80s edge. The single "Magic in your eyes" is infectious bubble gum pop with a hook to die for, though does slightly go on a bit too long.

Highlight though has to be "Dancin' baby" which sounds so much like early Madonna it actually makes Madonna herself sound like a cover artist. Amazing track with perfect early 80s electro pop sounds... even though this album was released in 2004. Amid the dance pop though is also a terrific slow ballad, "I still love you boy" almost perfectly trademark JPOP ballad though this also throws in plenty of retro 80s synths.

Its relentless, its unashamedly upbeat and pop, and also its unashamedly wonderful.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ruthann Friedman - windy: a Ruthann Friedman songbook (Now Sounds)

A collection of obscure and previously unreleased self-penned tracks from the late 1960s and 1970s from singer-somgwriter Ruthann Friedman. She wrote the big hit "windy" for The Association and this is represented here in demo form, and a lovely slice of 60s pop it is too. Sparse and acoustic and also so vital. But that song is just the beginning and just one song in a collection of expertly written and performed psychedelic rock and pop.

Other highlights include "Don't say no", another wonderful track, haunting and psychedelic. "Halfway there" is terrific rootsy folk rock. "When you're near" is another lovely slice of pop, this time with horn flourishes. "There's a place in the sky" throbs along with delicious organ.

As with many (though not all) collections of unreleased songs from the 60s you wonder how the hell tracks of such quality remained in obscurity for so long. Thats so the case with this fantastic compilation, well now they are out there for everyone to enjoy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Visage

Stylish, mysterious and undeniably futuristic (albeit in a retro-futurist manner nowadays) 1980's Visage LP has the music to match the style... kind of. "Fade to grey" is as you would imagine the stand-out track but nothing else much even approaches the height of that amazing single.

Thats not to say its a bad album, far from it, the bar was set so high but there are some other very good tunes too. "Tar" has an appealing funky fun about it. "Mind of a toy" has some interesting and sometimes amazing synths scattered throughout it. "The dancer" is urgent, driven by a thumping beat and sharp guitars. "Moon over Moscow" seems like it created the template for much of late 80s cantopop and jpop with its tinkly electronic beats. The track "Visage" itself is atmospheric and sharp.

The future Visage and the other New Romantics heralded never arrived (or at least not yet), which is a shame, but they lightened the early 80s grey gloom and this album stands as one of the key documents of that time.