Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Orchids - beatitude #9

As everyone should know The Orchids were one of the key bands on Sarah and among the best of the tweepop C86 movement of the early 90s. Then they went away in the mid-1990s... and came back in the late 2000s and this is their third album since their return. And its exactly how you would imagine it, largely the same sonic ground as covered on their last few releases (sweet indie pop thats a friend of electronics) but so well done and refined that this album is a sure fire treat.

Highlights include the incessant "Somethings going on" with its delicious chorus, the perfect pop of "She's just a girl", the electro-pop funk thrill of "Someone like you", the electro throb pop of "Today's the day". Its a great album and despite the passage of time i get the same thrill from this as i did from "Striving for the lazy perfection" so many years ago...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bill Cutler - crossing the line

It took 30 years apparently to make this solo album by songwriter/producer and member of the Grateful Dead extended family Bill Cutler, with the first tracks laid down in the 1970s (though most of the time the tracks have lain dormant). Once the album was finally finished in 2008 the results were very very fine indeed. An excellent album drawing on a rich heritage of American rock and roots and backed by musicians from the likes of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and beyond.

Highlight is the Jerry Garcia tribute "Starlight jamboree" which uses some guitar work by Garcia wrapped up in a beautiful reflective but also joyous rock track. No tracks are fillers though, the album is a distillation of the joy of Californian rock.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slumbook - day dream on a sunny day

Available as a free download is this lovely delicate, light but with a nice shuffly beat pop track. A classic indiepop track with warmth buried in every chord. A song with a smile and one that will put a smile on your face.

Monday, March 23, 2015

MV : "Yellow butterfly" by Michael Nesmith

Post (and during of course) The Monkees Michael Nesmith released some wonderful music, but this is one of the best.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Glass Arcade (Sarah)

Sometimes a rummage in bargain bins can totally change your life. Lets go back to late 1992, in my favourite indie record shop i was rummaging through the "bargain" CDs and came across Glass Arcade and Air Balloon Road, two compilations from Sarah Records. Well of course i knew of Sarah bands, the Melody Maker said they were shit. But i hadn't actually ever heard any Sarah songs... so i bought both and decided to see if the respected weekly music paper was right. It was wrong as usual...

My life changed. My tastes in music changed. Whereas before i pretended to like "cool" bands now i discovered bands like The Field Mice and The Orchids who i really liked. So this compilation, one of a regular series collecting together songs previously released on 7" singles, is so chock full of great songs. Including Eternal of course, this is the only place you can get their songs off their unmatched sole single on CD.  One of the best shoegaze noise singles ever released, pop glory bursting through glorious noise. Oddly enough though their best song "Take me down" isn't on Glass Arcade which is a shame, so here it is instead.
What is on here? Several superb Field Mice songs such as "Quicksilver" which i think is one of their finest. The Sea Urchins' "a morning odyssey" has one of the most heart felt choruses you'll ever here. The Orchids are of course a highlight with their "Something for the longing". There are indeed very few bad songs on here. Heavenly's song perhaps but then again i never could get into them...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Monkees - the birds, the bees and the monkees

The Monkees' fifth studio album from 1968 and came as the band's star began its downward trajectory. The TV show that had propelled them to stardom had been cancelled, the movie failed and this album was the first not to reach #1 in the Billboard chart (it had to make do with #3). However it was still a solid piece of work that spawned the wonderful "Valleri" and "Daydream believer".

Other highlights include the rootsy "Auntie's municipal court" and the lush Davy Jones number "We were made for each other". Mike Nesmith's psychedelic "Tapioca tundra" is also an entertaining and interesting song. "The poster" is a simple but sweet 60s pop song.

There isn't anything bad about the album at all though it does sound as it was, the start of the band's slide downwards.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

94 Baker Street : The Pop-Psych Sounds of the Apple Era 1967-1969 (RPM)

Another in RPM' interesting series of psychedelia compilations presenting songs from the Beatles' Apple record label. This one concentrates on the period when Apple was trying to be a normal record label and not just for Beatles records. There are some great songs on here by bands largely forgotten nowadays but well worth rediscovering (in some cases). Some of the songs have not been released before including Focal Point's amazing "girl on the corner" who also score with the scruzzy psychedelia of "Sycamore Sid".

The album is dominated by Focal Point and The Iveys (who later became Badfinger). Their sweet pop sounds can be enjoyed on "Maybe tomorrow".

Another interesting track is Paintbox's bouncy pop thrill on "get ready for love". While a couple of the tracks are a bit forgettable taken overall this is a lovely compilation of lesser known bands and sounds from the psychedelia era. One final point, the track listing on the back of the CD is wrong which adds to the mind-bending fun of course.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Velvet Tinmine

Velvet Tinmine brings together 20 long glam rock tracks from the early 1970s. For every Gary Glitter and T.Rex there were a number of Iron Virgins, Tartan Hordes and Tubthumpers which all need to be revisited for the cool band names alone.

Iron Virgin begin proceedings with "rebels rule" which is a very acceptable glam stomp. Other highlights include Plod (great name) with "neo city" which is slinky and sleezy rock. Hello's "another school day", Flame's "big wheels turning" and Washington Flyers' "the comets are coming" are both interesting and accomplished rock tracks. Truthfully there is nothing that terrible here and plenty that with a bit more luck could have hit the big time. Its called glam rock but really its great pop, often throwaway but so immediate with great melodies (if sometimes not that original) a plenty.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blind Mr Jones - crazy jazz EP

It is 1992 and for their second EP Blind Mr Jones presented a more evolved and expansive sound, still shoegazy but with lots of flute! "Fading fast" is a superb opener, fast and urgent, an eruption of guitar noise. "Dolores" was probably the closest song to their first EP "eyes wide" (one of the best shoegaze records ever released by the way). "Featherweight" is a beautiful track that brings their revised flute augmented sound to the fore. A relaxed instrumental, meandering through a soundscape of fuzzy guitars and flute. This was probably the highpoint of their shoegazing phase, for later records they did revert more to more traditional indie rock but this EP is one hell of a highpoint. Still to this day this record can blow most recent bands out of the way. It showed what was possible and where indie could have gone. We made a choice back then and we made the wrong one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

MV : "January" by Pilot

While researching for another website i found out this song was the top song in February 1975, which amused me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Foo Fighters - sonic highways

For their 8th studio album Foo Fighters have done things a little different. A companion to a US TV series on American music, the 8 tracks were all recorded in 8 different American cities all with a rich musical heritage. The songs were created in a different way too with the music put down and then the lyrics finished lastly just before the vocal track was recorded.

So has it worked? Has it just. A great album full of great tracks, the highlights being the explosive "Congregation" and "Something from nothing" but there are no real duffers. The closing "I am a river" is a shimmering rock epic.