Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review 2015 : A-Z of 2015

As usual we end the year with an A-Z playlist of bands (and their songs) we liked. Only 20 songs this time as some letters of the alphabet were not blessed with bands we liked this year, including A. The hunt goes on for a band we like that starts with Q... one day maybe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review 2015 : Top 10 Records

1: movies EP - CLASS ACTRESS
2: modern nature - THE CHARLATANS
3: pagans in Vegas - METRIC
4: this astro EP - LA CASA AL MARE
5: creation - THE PIERCES
6: my love is cool - WOLF ALICE
7: every open eye - CHVRCHES
8: everything ever written - IDLEWILD
10: 2.0 - BIG DATA

Monday, December 28, 2015

Flyying Colours

Flyying Colours fill me with nostalgia, they have a very early 90s shoegaze noise feel reminding me at times of the likes of Blind Mr Jones. Now that, boys and girls, is a very very good thing. Its blissed out, harsh, beautiful and urgent at the same time. The glory of noise is eternal and Flyying Colours are very welcome to continue the legacy.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Review 2015 : Top 15 Songs

1: the shade - METRIC
2: more than you - CLASS ACTRESS
3: i don't want to - LA CASA AL MARE
4: celebrate - METRIC
5: sunflowers - LA CASA AL MARE
6: come home baby - THE CHARLATANS
7: the devil is a lonely night - THE PIERCES
8: can you blame me - MATT & KIM
9: business of emotion - BIG DATA
10: movies - CLASS ACTRESS
11: let the good times - THE CHARLATANS
12: morning Lisa smile - WOLF ALICE
13: ship to wreck - FLORENCE & THE MACHINE
14: missing you tonight - STRIKING MATCHES
15: pressure off - DURAN DURAN

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wolf Alice - my love is cool

This is an astonishing debut album, so full of great tunes. It covers some indie ground with bit dollops of grunge and power pop but its all held together with some great energy and verve. Favourites are "You're loves whore" which explodes into a wall of noise and razor sharp guitar and "You're a germ" which builds from a dark low-key opening into an angry explosion.

"Freazy" is laid back and funky, sounding like some great 90s indie dance and some vocal interplay that really appeals. "Lisbon" is very raw and garage sounding but underpinned by some great pop melodies. The sum of the parts would make this a great album alone but this is more than that, terrific stuff.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Movie : Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

I haven't seen the first film but that doesn't matter too much as Silent Night Deadly Night 2 was made on such a low budget that a big chunk of it is a "flashback" to the first film which depicted the slaughter of a family by a murdering Santa Claus. SNDN 2 starts with the brother of the young boy survivor of the murder now a young man being interviewed by a psychologist after he had committed his own murderous crimes. He is started off by memories of his tough upbringing by nuns though trying to make sense of the nonsense being shown is probably a fairly fruitless task.

A film that is listed as one of the worst ever made SNDN 2 is of course a lot of fun, a terrible film in many ways. Its very violent, being a slasher flick, but much of the violence is so cheesily done it's more laughable than scary. Much of the film is hilarious... though not intentionally...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - hell EP

A new EP from POBPAH, though the title track apparently is a bit of a left-over from their last album. Its a shame that happened really as "Hell" would have really added something to Days of abandon with its chirpy guitar work. The other two tracks are cover versions. A cover of Felt's "Ballad of the band" and is done with a lovely jangly melody and sunshine smile. James' "Laid" is interesting it doesn't really deviate from the original, though female vocals do add an interesting twist though it all ends a bit quickly. So three good songs and that makes a well worthwhile EP. You just feel, as with the last few releases from the band, there could be something more. Their first album was the record that bought me back into the indie scene after some years away, i'm not sure this EP would have had the same effect.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Movie : George & Mildred (1980)

A spate of British sitcoms (and a few dramas) went on the "big screen" in the 1970s, none really have had any lasting impact on the world of cinema though Porridge and Sweeney 2 are both decent films. The film version of George & Mildred however is widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made and a film so bad it actually killed off the genre...

Well thats that everyone else says, of course this blog likes to make it's own mind up. But yes the film version of George & Mildred is pretty awful, however it often becomes "so bad its good" that it is worth seeing at least once and has a few decent jokes. One problem with the film is that its so different from the sitcom it came from, most of the action taking place in a "swanky" hotel not outer London suburbia. Wrapped around George and Mildred's trip to the hotel is a bit of a farce involving rival gangsters and useless assassins, but of course G&M are completely oblivious to the chaos happening around them. So a terrible terrible film (but there are far worse) and i liked it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Movie : High Treason (1929)

High Treason is an early British "talkie" and also an early science fiction film as its set in the "near future" 1940. Though despite being only set 11 years into the future the world is a very different place with 2 power blocs in an uneasy peace. Arms manufacturers don't like peace as its bad for business so they engineer a war between the Atlantic States and Europe by bombing the Channel Tunnel. Ironically enough big business manipulating 2 states into a war actually happened in South America a few years later.

As you can imagine the world in 1940 is an Art Deco masterpiece with aeroplanes and airships flying over skyscraper filled cities, video calling and oddly enough fencing being the interval act at a dance. While the film looks a treat it is a bit hokum and the peace message is hammered on thick, the early sound recording technology also needed a bit of refinement. The main actress seems to have been dubbed and much of the vocal track seems a bit detached from the rest of the film... though obviously for 1929 this was cutting edge.

War is averted by a rather neat twist (though you can see it coming). Peace in our times, well for a few years anyway.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Top 5 Records (November)

1: La Casa Al Mare - this astro EP
2: Class Actress - movies EP
3: Florence & the Machine - how big, how blue, how beautiful
4: Chvrches - every open eye
5: Metric - pagans in Vegas

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chvrches - every open eye

Second album from Chvrches offers more big number neo-synth pop and exciting electro thrash with killer pop undertones. Very accessible but also still down to earth. The electronics never overshadow but instead enhance the very appealing vocals. Key tracks are "Leave a trace", "Empty threat" and "Never ending circles" but can't really think of many fillers on this album. "Clearest blue" is fun when it erupts what sounds like a sonic update of the Mode's "Just can't get enough". How it should be, not afraid to take inspiration from the past but not being shackled by it. Great album.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Love - forever changes

Regarded as one of the finest albums to come out of the Summer of Love, "Forever changes" was Love's third album and includes lovely psychedelia and beautiful folk rock with baroque flourishes. Some great pop hooks too, "Alone again or" for example has a delicious urgency and a juicy brass assisted melody.

"A house is not a hotel" is another shuffle of a track with tasty razor sharp guitar licks. "The red telephone" is an irresistible slice of psychedelia with whimsy, tempo changes and lush sounds a-plenty. It is a great album that has not dated any, sounding as fresh in 2013 as it did in 1967.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Florence and the Machine - how big, how blue, how beautiful

Its drama this 3rd album from Florence and the Machine, there is no shortage of emotion on display amid the sonic attacks on songs like "Ship to wreck" and "Queen of peace". In fact it can be a bit overblown, over the top but you know... it just sounds so damn good. Florence's voice is so powerful she could easily get a job as an auxiliary fog horn if the music career dries up, on music like this this is a good thing by the way. Its not a perfect album, or even a good one. More a set of really good tunes set amid some filler but the filler is at least passable and when its good its really good.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Departure - Thai Indie Scene

A wonderful compilation of indie pop from Thailand from SEA Indie. Some great variety of music styles too, highlight of the album for me is the chilled electro-beat "Keyboard" by derdamissyou, a truly wonderful song atmospheric and mesmerising.

Slow Reverse's "when the worlds collide" has some lovely pop melodies coupled to breathy female vocals and a slinky guitar line, and one of the best choruses for ages. Little Fox's "what we are" is a bit New Wave-ish and a great relaxed pop beat. Colonial's "misplaced" is a great pop thrash with added novelty tones. Seal Pillow's "canvas shoe" is another lovely pop song with good energy.

On this evidence the Thai indie pop scene is thriving, and very varied. So much to enjoy.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Courtney Barnett - sometimes i sit and think and sometimes i just sit

The debut from Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and its a mixed bag but overall it succeeds and is well worth a listen. Her style is low-key indie rock with exploratory (and often rambling but in a good way) vocals. Her word play is sometimes inspired, sometimes a bit toyshop Dylan, but throughout its entertaining.

Favourite track is "Debbie Downer" which has some great pop moments. The album doesn't always work but it is always individual and honest and thats the best thing of all in a world of sameness.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Top 5 Records (October)

1: METRIC - pagans in Vegas
2: NEW ORDER - music complete
3: DURAN DURAN - paper gods
4: JULIA HOLTER - have you in my wilderness
5: CLASS ACTRESS - movies

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Metric - pagans in Vegas

The new album from Metric is very fine indeed, and a definite album of the year contender. Its an explosion of incredible pop and synth treats, gorgeous pop hooks to die for drenched in high energy yet also often so retro synths - the only downside is that the filler tracks can sometimes sound like directionless 8-bit video game music.

Forget the filler though, the highlights of the album shine brighter than most. "The shade" is a wonderous track, a driving electric beat underpinning vocals at once needy and triumphant. "Celebrate" is another exciting and dance friendly upbeat track that shines so bright.

"Lie lie lie" recalls Depeche Mode being more downbeat and menacing though still with plenty of synthy life. "Cascades" breaks up the beats and synths and sounds like Tron gone wrong. But this album is so so right.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Movie : Troll 2 (1990)

Troll 2 is often listed among the worst films of all time, so is it? Its a basic horror film involving murderous little goblins (not trolls - there are no actual trolls in the movie) terrorising a family in the middle of nowhere. Thats fine for a basic horror flick, but what makes Troll 2 stand out is how badly it was all executed. The plot, dialogue, acting and camerawork all basically suck but happily it sucks in such a way as to be actually very entertaining...

Some examples of the (real) terror include a fly very visibly landing on an actor's forehead and the director not bothering to redo the shot. One of the main actors was a dentist who turned up at filming for a laugh and ended up being made the lead. The goblins are defeated by eating a ham sandwich...

So its utterly terrible, but so compelling. So it surely should be a contender for best worst movie of all time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Comics : Blake & Mortimer 21 : Plutarch's Staff

Yes comic reviews are back, i thought it was time seeing as this blog isn't just about music nowadays...

Lets start with the latest Blake & Mortimer which has been translated here into English mere months after the original French publication. "Plutarch's Staff" is a prequel of sorts, the events of the book deal with the end of WW2 and the start of WW3 which was covered in the Secret of the Swordfish saga (which began the Blake & Mortimer story back in the 1950s) so the strip can be considered as having travelled full circle.

Though to be honest i'm finding the current obsession with filling in gaps and continuity-porn a bit tiresome with this volume and the previous couple it would be nice for future volumes to explore new territory. "Plutarch's Staff" does cover some interesting origins though, especially for one of the series' major characters.

The criticisms aside the story is very good, and drawn beautifully of course. This story sees Blake more to the fore and so is less mystical and more action and intrigue based. At the risk of contradicting myself in the previous paragraph the events that lead up to Secret of the Swordfish are very interesting and fit in perfectly well with the later stories even though they were written by another author (the original master Edgar P. Jacobs of course) and over 60 years before. So a great addition to the Blake & Mortimer saga and very recommended, but lets hope we can explore something a little fresher next time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Movie : Master Blaster (1987)

Or... when paintball goes wrong. Yes paintball. This is a film about paintball! A group of 80s stereotypes (Vietnam vet, rednecks, troubled female cop, rich old guy, Cubans et cetera) turn up in the woods for the national paintball competition and $50K is at stake. All you have to do is avoid being shot with paint... and be murdered. Yes of course things start to go wrong when one of the competitors apparently decides to play for keeps.

Most of the action takes place in the woods, and the action is actually pretty good. The story as well is reasonable with the identity of the killer hidden until the end, and there are a few false leads to keep you interested. Ultimately its all a bit cheesy and very low budget but well worth a viewing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sound Is Lov - shipwrecks

The debut EP from this new shoegazey band and very fine it is too, coming at the sweeter lusher more refined end of the spectrum than harsh noise and doing that so well.  There are some great indie pop noises that waft over you on "And don't believe" and "Take me with you". The EP includes some contributions from former Smashing Pumpkins members and i detect some influences here and there perhaps especially from their earlier songs (which i think was their best period to be honest so this is a really good thing).

"Not good enough" is a blissful smash of a track and along with "Love FM" is a well structured song and a bit of a minor epic. Favourite track though is "And don't believe" with its tasty guitar and feedback drenched melody. A really great debut.

Friday, October 2, 2015

New Order - music complete

New Order are no strangers to drama, they've had more "last albums ever" than i've had hot dinners (well OK may be a slight exaggeration). After the acrimonious split with Peter Hook though New Order have returned, Hooky-bass-less maybe but returning to their electronic dance roots.

The rockier edge that has flavoured recent New Order has been pushed aside and we have a return to hard industrial beats, dancefloor destruction yet retaining pop melodies a-plenty. So its amazing natch and "Plastic" and "Restless" are highlights. Some tracks do seem to go on a bit and some of the lyrics are pretty banal, but thats been true of New Order for a long time to be honest. Having said all that its the best New Order album for some time, maybe since Republic.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Airfields - laneways EP

This is the kind of thing i love, noisy dream pop preferably by a band who are "The" something and have a record sleeve with just 1 or 2 colours on it (the band name written in all lowercase natch). Many hours were spent listening to weird and wonderful bands who released singles like this in my youth. Of course this isn't quite the same thing as its a 6 track CD EP but i still got a nostalgia kick.

The music is psychedelic pop, quite 60s in some ways but with a more modern indie twist (distorted vocals et cetera). Tracks like "Lonely halls" jingle jangle their way along very jollily. "Imaginary stars" has a great driving rhythm. Its wonderful yeah.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Duran Duran - paper gods

So the new Duran Duran album (now I'm not one to name drop even if its a bit tenuous, so i won't mention that the Taylors used to live next door to my Nan) and its a very fine record. However the opener and title track is terrible, an overblown dirge which sounds like an unreleased B-side from the late 80s which should have stayed buried in the vaults. Once you get past that however you are hit by a string of excellent dance-pop treats including the blistering single "Pressure off". The trademark big pop sound of Duran Duran augmented with some (fairly) hip and modern rhythms and beats.

"What are the chances" is a change of pace and another highlight, a great ballad. Echoes of my favourite DD track "Ordinary world" in it perhaps. So overall a great album, except the opener, but maybe they just included that for the LULZ?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Grateful Dead - blues for Allah

The 8th studio album by the Grateful Dead came out in 1975 and is rightly regarded as one of the band's best studio albums. The album tapped, perhaps more than most of their studio work, into the freeform rock/jazz/blues/add-a-few-more-genres-here creativity of the band's live shows and gave us songs like the melodious "Franklin's Tower" which is one of my all-time favourites.

Much of the album is a mysterious soundscape, as you would imagine tracks with titles like "Unusual occurances in the desert" would be! Sometimes it does get a bit tedious and self-indulgent however there is also some lovely rock songs here in the form of "The music never stopped" and the aforementioned tower.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Sugargliders - ahprahran EP

The Sugargliders, hailing from Australia, were one of the many great bands who recorded for Sarah Records. This was one of their numerous singles from the label and my favourite. The title track on this EP has a lovely acoustic guitar driven melody with a beat given that extra bit of specialness with tambourines!

The Sugargliders were two brothers from Melbourne and the harmonies certainly benefit from the blood relationship. The Sugargliders produced delicate and intelligent guitar pop and are certainly well worth a listen.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

This Is The Kit - bashed out

I first listened to this album while driving to work earlier this week, a misty morning at the end of Summer and "Bashed out" seemed the perfect soundtrack. Misty alt folk then, songs of light and shade. This is the band's third album though "band" might be a bit strong as This Is The Kit is really Kate Stables.

The album and especially the song "Silver John" is lovely it really is, delicate and intricate. The album doesn't hit you over the head, its much more understated than that. It invites you in and makes you a cup of tea. The arrangements are deceptively simple and multi-layered. Like all the best work you find something more to appreciate the more you listen to it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Movie : Snake Eater (1989)

I am willing to bet Snake Eater, a 1989 action movie starring Lorenzo Lamas, did not see much of a cinema release. It has all the hallmarks of a good old straight to video flick, the kind of low budget nonsense that made the 80s such a "highpoint" of movie trash. The movie itself is a typical revenge movie. Lamas plays an ex-Marine and cop whose parents are killed by some backwoods inbred hicks for some reason which is never explained. Maybe they are just eeeeevil. He goes into the woods to kill the hicks and rescue his kid sister who spends most of the movie trapped in a shack being threatened with sexual violence.

Its gory and violent, Lamas himself is a rather annoying kind of hero who plays dirty. He is also supposed to be formerly of an elite US Marine unit though makes heavy weather at times dealing with the hicks. But there are moments of real hilarity, especially involving motorbikes. There is also a lot of really really bad acting.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Matt & Kim - new glow

Matt & Kim play mainstream pop and dance with an indie DIY mindset though over time the latter seems to have become more withdrawn, no more so than on their latest album. Its all very street and current, all the tunes you could easily imagine being played in the likes of Urban Outfitters (and probably are, i'm not cool enough to be allowed in those places). "Hoodie on" even seems to be about just that.

Its an enjoyable album though at times a bit too superficial but if you enjoy it for what it is then its a blast. "Can you blame me" is a really lovely track and deserves much attention.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Top 5 Records (August)

1: La Casa Al Mare - this astro EP
2: Chvrches - the bones of what you believe
3: Tame Impala - currents
4: The Pierces - creation
5: Class Acress - movies EP

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eternal - breathe EP (reissue)

Eternal's solo EP (for Sarah) was one of my favourite records of the early 90s and still is one of my favourite singles ever. But here it is re-released and with the "lost" song November to fill it out so how does it still stack up in 2015?

First of all it isn't the same single, i don't know whether these are different studio versions (or the original demos which are said to have been higher quality than the actual studio versions) or its been remastered but it sounds different to the original. A lot higher fi for a start. The wonderful "Take me down" for example actually has chords i can recognise rather than just various fuzzy noises. To be honest i prefer the fuzz but the delicate and doomed beauty of the song is still there. "November" is also lovely though does sound like it needed a bit more work which is maybe why it never made it to the original single.

So the "Breathe EP" how does it stack up in the 21st century? Its different but still amazing. The world has changed a lot since the early 90s but Eternal's incredible record is still capable of changing worlds, or at least my one.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Human Colonies - calvary

Blurry dream pop from Italy and very fine it is too. Highlights? Well "Sunshine Jesus" is a blistering blast of fuzzy noise, urgent beat under a wave of distorted guitar and fabulous. I also love "Falling deeper" which is a little more downbeat and underpinned by screeches of guitar. "Cross" and "Exosphere" are on a similar vein, both contain beauty amid the noise. "Hey you" is dramatic, reminding me a bit of the Bardots.

To be honest i love all of this album. The album is available here, highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Houndstooth - no news from home

Oregon's Houndtooth present their second album, and a very presentable collection of modern garage rock it is too. There is a bit of a small town vibe about proceedings with the album underpinned with rootsy psychedelia but plenty of modern touches. Highlight is "Amelia", a delightful background melody over which vocals and guitars shimmer and soar.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Movie : Oily Maniac (HK 1976)

If there is to be an award for the film with the best title ever then this 70s Shaw Brothers film may be in with a shout. Using Malay witchdoctor magic a cripple having a hard time (played by Danny Lee Sau-Yin) transforms himself into an oily maniac, or to be precise a monster made out of oil, and basically busts some (oily) ass...

Low-concept maybe but definately high-cheese, this is an entertaining 70s shock horror flick. The special effects are not fabulous but then again it was made in the mid-70s and that is maybe part of the appeal. There is also plenty of female nudity in the film, a number of women in their film get their clothes ripped off. Yeah its that kind of film. Sex and oily monsters. What more could you want?

A plot maybe? Well there is one more or less. Mind you the plot is full of holes. A monster made out of oil does have one rather large design flaw, but no one seems to realise this until the end. So is this film any good? It is definitely worth seeing, but no doubt a great part of the appeal is the fact it is called Oily Maniac...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tame Impala - currents

Sonically very sweet and swish, lush neo-synthpop and blissed out pop soul. But under the glitter is a dark underbelly. Or something like that. Personally i just think its a great pop album full of great tunes with pop hooks a plenty and lyrics that rise (highly) above the inane.

Highlights are the epic and haunting pop ballad "Cause I'm a man" and the hypnotic dance of the opener "Let it happen". Its very polished and slick, on some records that would seem too much, but on this record its just right.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Movie : Blue Lightning (1991)

Hong Kong: it seduces you, inspires you, attracts you but its a tough mistress. The streets have the bright lights and a myriad of attractions but in a dark alleyway is something ready to bite you on the behind.

Danny Lee plays a drunk ex-cop in this 1991 film whose ex-wife is killed by person unknown. Only their kid survives. But why kill the woman? Thats the question on the lips of cop Tony Leung Ka Fei. As they investigate they start to delve into a dark world of blackmail, corruption and underage sex...

A Bigwig in HK is preparing for election but has a dark secret the assassin is trying to cover up. The assassin comes back to remove more evidence, including the friend of the deceased woman in the form of Olivia Cheng (in her last film according to online filmographies before she went to become a golf instructor). And then he comes after Danny. The Bigwig has the police in his pocket, can he be stopped?

A hard bleak and very violent film. In this film HK is sleezy, HK is brutal, and HK doesn't care as another victim bleeds to death on it's tarmac...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Class Actress - journal of ardency

Now and then in your life you come across a band or artist who change totally your outlook on music, they lead you down new alleyways, to explore a new soundscape. A few years Class Actress reintroduced me to synth pop, neo-synth pop natch.

Class Actress obviously believed musical development peaked around 1982, this debut EP is all early synths and retro beats. Singer Elizabeth Harper cuts through the 80s noise with vocals of pure sex. "Journal of ardency" is the highlight, a roller coaster of a track, writhing and surging with an electro beat but led by Harper's sultry vocals.

"Careful what you say" is another classic, with some spacey synths. "Something real" is a little more experimental as if the keyboards have taken a life of their own in some 80s sci-fi horror but with a hard electric beat

Friday, July 31, 2015

Top 5 Records (July)

1: Class Actress - movies
2: Foster The People - supermodel
3: Chris Robinson Brotherhood - phosphorescent harvest
4: Metric - the shade
5: Echosmith - talking dreams

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Metric - the shade

Metric's new single (well new in May) and their first released song for a few years, and its amazing. Tight, driving and exciting neo-synth pop. Its effortless and also exhausting, sugary and bitter, bright and dark. Well its got some shades of grey, and many more than 50.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nanaki - Dandelion Radio sessions

Nanaki (Postcode guitarist Mikie's solo project) presents this radio sessions album (recorded for Dandelion Radio) which revisits some of the tracks from the band's earliest days. Great stuff it is too, moody rock and punk textures galore. "January overkill" the opener is a whirlwind of razor sharp and howling guitars underpinned by a tasty bass line. "Disembyro" is moody and mysterious. "Let me close my eyes" is simple and restrained before erupted into a guitar frenzy. More about the EP can be seen here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Donovan - a gift from a flower to a garden

This collects together 2 of 60s singer songwriter legend Donovan's albums, the electric "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" and the acoustic "For Little Ones". Originally released separately and then together as one of the first rock "box sets" and only the third rock double album ever apparently fact fans.

I prefer the electric album especially on tracks like "Mad John's Escape" (who came from Birmingham apparently and ran away from Borstal and make it to Torquay). It has lots of late 60s pop feel and a healthy dose of psychedelia, some of the Eastern philosophy in the lyrics maybe sounds a little twee now but it was of its time. And was meant well, there are far worse philosophies to write lyrics using.

Musically it can be quite twee as well, which i like. The vocals are soft and chilled, its definitely an album to calm down to rather than use to try and get pumped up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

La Casa Al Mare - this astro EP

MBV have so much to answer for, and so so much of it good. Including La Casa Al Mare from Rome who no doubt were influenced by the gods of noise as well as bands like Slowdive and The Telescopes. With influences like that it can only be a good thing and its a beautiful heavenly sound they produce. Waves of distorted wailing noise wash over you on tracks like "I don't want to" and "Sunflowers".

It is the music of outer space, like you would imagine rock music from Proxima Centauri would sound like. In fact it does indeed sound like like this. Trust me. You wouldn't want it any other way.

Available from Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Chas & Dave - A's, B's and buried treasure

Buried treasure from Chas & Dave? Well yes it is, especially as it includes "Melancholy baby" one of my favourite songs, an irresistable rock and roll thrash and singalong. Though thats a fairly well known song, what is maybe more interesting on this record are the more obscure and the odd. Starting with the latter well the theme tunes of the likes of Sickness and in Health and Crackerjack are on here, which are all fun.

A couple of songs which start the album with Lonnie Donegan and Clarence Henry are good old rock and roll to start a knees-up anywhere. The album closes with a few songs recorded at Sun Studios including a nice version of "Ain't no pleasing you". The album covers familiar ground and the less familiar and some of the former are not as you quite remember. A lovely collection me old china.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Echosmith - talking dreams

Move over granddad (which in this case is anyone who remembers VHS), the kids are moving in. Echosmith are a young (teenagers indeed when this was released anyway) band with a young sound, indie pop thats very catchy and slick. Elements of 80s pop and some dancey melodies. Great melodies in fact and great songs. "Come together" is a great opener, atmospheric at the start before diving into an action packed tune with sharp guitars and edgy beats.

"Cool kids" is my favourite though, one of the best pop melodies for ages. "Lets love" is exuberant and shiny. With so many bands these days being... lets say mature shall we... its good to know there are still kids with guitars and dreams out there.

Friday, July 3, 2015

MV : "Baker Street" by Undercover

Officially the third best version of this song.

The Hit Parade - in Gunnersbury Park (Sarah)

The Hit Parade released 2 singles on Sarah, of which this was the first back in 1991 (7" single natch). The title track is a sparse but poppy song, eloquent and delicate. Its simple but beautiful music, no feedback and walls of noise, or fancy electronics, vocals and acoustic guitars and not a lot else. Just a lovely song dedicated to a public park.

The B-side "Harvey" is similarly pared back, the vocals breathy and sweet. A lovely pair of songs.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Class Actress - movies

Class Actress returns at last with an EP, produced by Giorgio Moroder no less, and what an EP it is too. Hard and sizzling synth beats with a sense of the epic and also a dip into the darker side of life. "More than you" is quite an opener, all throbbing electro beat and sultry vocals. The title track is a fractured epic, world weary and twinkling in the midnight neon glare. The hope and despair of the night encapsulated in synth beats at once retro and from the future.

We're at the half way point of the year now and we might just have found our record (even if it was a digital download) of the year.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Live : The Grateful Dead (Santa Clara, CA 27/06/15)

Disclaimer, i wasn't there physically but i was there spiritually maaan. In other words I had to make do with the live web feed but thats the closest i will ever come to seeing the Grateful Dead live (unless i can find a bucket of cash before the final shows in Chicago early next month). Its the 50th anniversary of the forming of the band and 20 years since the death of Jerry Garcia and the final concerts of the Grateful Dead. To add a proper full stop to the story the surviving 4 members of the band and some friends have got together for 5 final shows.

Its formless and well formed, a fluid psychedelic jam of blues, funk and rock. Songs begin reasonably familiarly before heading off into sonic exploration. Like a guitar shaped Voyager probe. It all sounds amazing too and the visuals accompanying the music were also gorgeous. The only glitches being Phil Lesh's microphone seemed to be playing up but the guitars sounded fine.

Cream Puff War was the highlight if one can pick anything out like that, that dates back from the very first album. Indeed much of the first night of five's songs came from the early Dead period. Maybe this also brings the 60s to a close too? But no, the legacy lives on and will mutate and grow into many other forms. The originals are getting old now but younger generations have taken up the baton and taken it in new directions.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Top 5 Records (June)

1: Big Data - 2.0
2: Striking Matches - nothing but the silence
3: Waxahatchee - ivy tripp
4: Washed Out - within and without
5: Chris Robinson Brotherhood - phosphorescent harvest

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sagittarius - present tense

Although remaining pretty much unknown to the general public Sagittarius and their 1968 "present tense" album has a following amongst the underground hip scene, so is it justified? Lets note first that there wasn't really a group called Sagittarius this being a studio project mostly of Gary Usher but helped by Curt Boettcher and a host of guest musicians including Glen Campbell lending vocals on the excellent "My world fell down".

Musically it is a gem of late 60s psychedelia with folk and baroque flavourings. Its trippy and its pretty hippy. "Another time" is my favourite track, it is an excellent song with a lush, slightly hushed but catchy melody. The album lacks that bit extra to elevate it into a genuine lost classic but its a perfectly fine record, very much of its time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Big Data - 2.0

Technology in our lives, should we fear it or should we rock it? Maybe we should be like Big Data and do both? A dazzling dark synth album about the dangers of unrestrained technology yet dripping with clever use of it to produce an innovative and exciting sound. "The business of emotion" is a sparkling pop track and with it a message of the marketing of our bared souls on social media.

"Dangerous" has a walloping melody, "Big dater" grinds with the best of them. "Automatic" has an epic build to it. A superb set of guest vocalists including White Sea and Jenn Wasner help articulate the message above the synth riot. Its all astonishingly good.