Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus – Beauty Will Save The World

Cult Liverpool musicians' new album searches for truth, beauty and meaning in a messed up world!

Musicians reforming for the coin may garner more column inches but when they do so for the music, and because they have something to say, the results are infinitely more interesting and worthy of our attention. Such is the case with Beauty Will Save The World. After an 18 year hiatus RAIJ feel the time is right for for the world to hear their latest work. A low-key release it may be, but one that deserves and needs to be heard.

With such a loaded album title (a Dostoevsky quote), the music has a lot to live up to. It doesn't disappoint. Comprised of ambient, soft cinematic soundscapes with poetical spoken word passages drifting in from the ether in a variety of languages. Over several listens a central thrust emerges, one concerned with religion, beauty, truth and transcendence. The music is gentle and tinged with sadness yet manages to be both elegiac and hopeful. Although there are several languages throughout the album (every continent represented), the album is about connections rather than differences. Truly music for the healing of nations. It may get overlooked in the end-of-year/Christmas scramble but you're unlikely to find a more affecting and unique album. Recommended.

Click here for RAIJ on Facebook.
Click here for Occultation Recordings.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Fallen Leaves - Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair (Ltd. 7”)

South Londoners' latest 7”, very limited and very very good!

There's a lot of fuss currently about 1966, due in no small part to Jon Savage's book, 1966 The Year The Decade Exploded. Those of us in the garage world have always known that the year represented some sort of high water mark for guitar bands before fragmenting into either drug addled psych, overblown proto-metal, or back-to-the-country navel-gazing.

Which brings me to The Fallen Leaves, whose latest single on Market Square Records harks back to that classic and timeless '66 Beat Explosion, all taut riffs, snappy beats and guitar jangle. Neither overproduced or overblown, just great taut songwriting and playing which evokes every era of back-to-basic bands, from the '60s garage scene, through punk and onto the DIY ethos of '80s indie.

B-side 'The Inside Of A Chair' is a more aggressive affair, all instrumental apart from the spoken “Hello” and “Goodbye” that bookend its short sharp blast. All in all this 7” is a cracking double header, managing to bring together all the threads and strands of what a great four piece band is all about. Get it while it's hot!

Limited to 300 copies complete with a hand-numbered postcard.

Click here for The Fallen Leaves' website.
Click here for The Fallen Leaves on Facebook.
Click here for Market Square Records.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Everlasting Yeah – Anima Rising

Ex-members of That Petrol Emotion return for more manic pop thrills!

That Petrol Emotion were a band whose critical reputation was not matched by record sales. If anything they were a band out of time. For a band made up of former members of The Undertones, a smaller following did however mean the band had more artistic freedom after casting off the pop shackles. With a sound that was spiky and angular, but bolstered a solid rock-funk groove the band were out of step with the populist Britpop sounds when they split in 1994. It was a further ten years before Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads, Maximo Park and the like cashed in with a style that owed much to TPE.

Twenty years on from their dissolution the final line-up of TPE return with a new name, a new outlook and no diminishing of their talents or enthusiasm. On their debut album as The Everlasting Yeah round all four members share vocal duties along with writing credits. Egos and genres are left at the door leaving the band free to go where the muse takes them. They describe their sound as Keltic Kosmische Musik on their website. While that may be a somewhat bold claim there is a sense of freedom, an abandonment of tried and tested routes, but with a remaining belief in the power of a good strong tune.

The Keltic Kosmische claim is most evident on closing opus 'The Grind' where the band stretch out into an extended hypnotic jam. Elsewhere top session saxophonist and indie music biz lifer Terry Edwards makes a guest appearance on 'Taking That Damn Train Again', a sterling lesson in skronk 'n' roll. There's even room for some indie-funk on '(Whatever Happened To The) Hoodlum Angels'. Fans of boundary pushing guitar music from Television through to QOTSA will find much common ground here, and much to like!

Click here for The Everlasting Yeah website.
Click here for Occultation Recordings.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Shifting Sands - Cosmic Radio Station

Antipodean shoegaze alert!

To title your 2nd album Cosmic Radio Station is a bold move but not if the sounds it contains can back it up. Fortunately New Zealand trio The Shifting Sands have concocted a pleasing mix of hazy shoegaze and indie thrum and chime which more than backs up the claim. Softly sung vocals and poppy melodies break through the wall of sound making the album as much about tunes as it is about textures.

Highlights include the moody 'Making It Through' where the band get a chance to max out their pedal boards, 'Coming Back', a pop tune in noisy wolf's clothing, and the short instrumental 'Whareakeake', a nod to where the album was recorded, its yearning folk melody adorned with baroque strings. Throughout the record noise is tempered by melodies, which break through the shimmer like sunshine through clouds.

Fans of Chaptehouse, Slowdive and the like will feel right at home, as will those of The Jesus and Mary Chain. Other signposts include The Psychedelic Furs, Kurt Vile, and Ultra Vivid Scene. That said, there ain't nobody around right now quite like The Shifting Sands. Check 'em out!

Click here for The Shifting Sands on Facebook.
Click here for Occultation Recordings
Click here for Fishrider Records.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Optic Nerve - Penelope Tuesday / Here To Stay (Ltd 7")

Lost recordings from the Brooklynite's mid-noughties reformation.

Much like that other New York band The Velvet Underground, The Optic Nerve may not have played much outside their home city, or sold many records in their brief first flowering. But posthumous LP releases by Get Hip and Screaming Apple Records have resulted in a well deserved re-appraisal of the band's sound.

In 1985 on our side of the pond, bands such as Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The Bodines et al were taking inspiration from mid '60s folk rock, dressing like Sterling Morrisson and finding an appreciative audience. In the US such back-to-the-garage mentality was out of step with what mainstream audiences wanted. Punk rock had yet to go overground.

Skip forward to 2005 and The Optic Nerve mainstays Bobby Belfiore and Tony Matura form a new line-up of the band to record an album's worth of material. These recordings ended up shelved for a further ten years. It's only now, that State Records are issuing two cuts from these sessions.

'Penelope Tuesday' is the upbeat, poppy A-side, sounding like a summer smash best heard on AM Radio. Flipside is a more considered moodier affair, big on jangle, vocal harmonies and descending chord sequences. Both sides are worthy of your attention though. Let's hope that full album will sometime see the light of day.

Click here for The Optic Nerve on Facebook.
Click here for the State Records website.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou – EXPATRIOT

Long awaited fourth long-player from TM & HL takes an intelligent and compassionate look at the hard times of old/new England.

For their previous album, 2012's La Ferme De Fontenaille, husband and wife duo Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou spent ten days recording in a barn located in the Pay De La Loire, France, aided by little more than a pair of guitars and a 4-track cassette recorder. For their latest album they've enlisted the help of recording legend Ethan Johns whose label Three Crows Records is jointly releasing the record with Trevor and Hannah-Lou's own Anglophone Recording Company.

The pair have busied themselves between album with a series of tours, most notably opening for Tori Amos throughout Europe and North America. Fortunately for us listeners they've also found time to write. Matching Ethan John's heightened sonic focus on the new album is the song-writing which is as sharp and incisive as anything from their back catalogue. As hinted at by the album title's play on words, EXPATRIOT sees the duo explore a recurring theme in their writing, that of nationality, what it means to be British, or more specifically English. And also just how deep rooted are the systems that perpetuate our problems with ourselves and the rest of the world.

The opening title track sets the tone, a rallying wake-up call to a population whose “daydreaming days may be done”. 'Galley Hill' casts a compassionate eye at the refugee crisis over an early Beatles chord sequence while 'Up Mercatoria' paints everyday vignettes of working life in an area of the duo's hometown and subtly references the founding blocks of how we interact with the rest of the world. 'Babe To Cradle' is an album highlight, a genuinely sublime track with Dylan-ish use of alliteration, examining monarchy as well as warmongering and extremism. For all the serious topics the album ends on an optimistic note with 'A Better Day' complete with a sing-a-long chorus and kazoo solos.

As a nation we precariously balance hope and despair, pride and shame. The latter pairing none more so when it comes to how we view and treat the rest of the world. Our borders may be made by God, but our frustrating insularity is wholly our own. It's a sensitive area and one that a lot of musicians shy away from. Not Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou. If only more musicians were prepared to examine these issues in such an intelligent and compassionate way. Especially now we need them to more than ever.

Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou will be supporting Ron Sexsmith on tour this October as well as opening for Jools Holland later this autumn - 

Jools Holland dates
Thursday 29th October – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
Friday 30th October – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
Thursday 12th November – Colosseum, Watford
Saturday 14th November – Barbican, York

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Tir na nOg – Ricochet (Ltd7”)

Tir na nOg's newest mystical masterpiece! A taster from their first studio LP in over 40 years!

Tir na nOg were and are trailblazers of genre defying acoustic music. The duo formed in 1970, released a string of critically acclaimed albums. and achieved a sizeable cult following before splitting in 1974. The pair re-united in 1985 for sporadic live shows and have recently stepped their touring up a gear, much to the delight of fans old and new.

Their reputation as acid-folk luminaries is now further cemented by the release of new track 'Ricochet' on a coloured vinyl 7”. Taken from the forthcoming album The Dark Dance, (their first in over 40 years), it resembles a devotional Sufi song more than it does Irish or English folk, with echoes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, acoustic Zep and even The Sisters Of Mercy. Drone, Arabic scales and percussion are the order of the day, lending the song an air of urgent mysticism.

The flipside features a previously unreleased live version 'Tir na nOg'. It's a cracking take on their signature song and proof that the pairs' talents and enthusiasm show no signs of diminishing just yet. Land of eternal youth indeed!

Click here for Tir na nOg's website
Click here for the Fruits De Mer website.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Wrong Society – She Destroyed Me b/w Without You (Ltd. 7”)

A double pronged ode to love gone wrong from Hamburg's newest garage band.

One of the garage scene's default lyrical themes, (hell one of life's themes I guess!) is love gone wrong, being mystreated by a lover who you'd put all hope and faith in. With this in mind it could be a case of treading (dirty) water for German garage band The Wrong Society whose second single, and first for Paul Messis' Market Square Records, has this staple subject at its core.

Through sheer spirit and conviction however this is not the case. She Destroyed Me is a four chord stormer charting the love-gone-wrong aftermath. It's bolstered by high-in-the-mix tambourine and a Vox Super Continental keyboard solo. The Hamburg based quartet have a more measured, reflective take on the situation on the flipside Without You, where the protagonist's feelings turn from anger to sadness. A nice addition to any deejay's 7" box.

On 7” black vinyl, limited to 300 copies complete with a hand-numbered postcard.

Check out The Wrong Society at one of their upcoming German gigs -

September 22nd - Molotow Skybar, Hamburg
October 1st - Feinstaub, Frankfurt
October 2nd - Goldgrube Kassel
October 3rd - Sonic Ballroom, Cologne
October 16th - Roadrunner's Paradise, Berlin

Click here for The Wrong Society on Facebook.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Magic Bus – Seven Wonders b/w Eight Miles High (Ltd. 7”)

Devon band's take on the Canterbury sound is as warm and welcome as a ray of late summer sun.

Magic Bus make music that lives up to their name; it delights, dazzles, and takes you places you want to go. Their first single for the Fruits de Mer label contains an original A-side, Seven Wonders, backed with their take on The Byrds' Eight Miles High. It may just be the pick of the crop of FDM's early Autumn releases.

If you want comparisons think Caravan and the Canterbury sound. Think gentle, pastoral home counties psychedelia. Think Englishness as encapsulated by Robert Wyatt-esque vocals. Think hops fields, sunny days and games of cricket. But really don't think at all, just listen. You won't be disappointed.

The initiated may have already heard Seven Wonders as it's taken from their Transmission From Sogmore's Garden album, their 2nd for Static Caravan Records. For the rest of us this first meeting is as warm and welcome as a ray of late summer sun. Along with its strong melody and harmonies worthy of Crosby, Stills and Nash, the band prove equally adept at wigging out as evidenced in the song's proggy coda.

Eight Miles High is a slowed down take on The Byrds classic with an almost Gregorian vocal intro. Any folk-rock urgency is replaced by a more measured jazz swing. Similarly it's flute and synthesizer that take flight on the solos instead of McGuin's garbled guitar. Very nice indeed!

Click here for the Magic Bus website.
Click here for Magic Bus on Facebook.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Nick Nicely – 49 Cigars (Ltd. 7”)

'80s lost psych classic gets a well deserved reissue on Fruits De Mer Records.

Cult musician Nick Nicely may not be known to many outside of the psych-scene cognoscenti, but he sure as hell knows how to make great music. The lead track of this 4 track EP is actually a B-side from his 1982 single Hilly Fields. Hilly Fields was actually reissued by FDM several years ago but now it's 49 Cigars that's getting some well deserved attention.

All the hallmarks of classic British Psychedelia are present, incorrect and there to disorientate your senses. Chug and drone, lyrics that engage but don't always make sense, sampled sonics that swoop in unexpectedly, along with backwards guitar breaks and a trumpet blast that's part fox-hunt bugle, part Proms pomp but mostly a reveille directed at the straight world.

Also included on this EP is a revelatory live version of 49 Cigars that brims over with brio and energy, an exclusive remix of Belinda (taken from Nick's latest solo LP) and Lobster Dobbs, a track taken from his Space Of A Second LP for LO Recordings. Fans of all things lysergic will find this as good an entry point as any into Nick's work.

Click here for Nick Nicely on Facebook.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Worthless – Children Of The Grave b/w Softest (Ltd. 7”)

Brooklyn acid-heads trip out into poppy psych and blissful soul on their latest single.

Market Square Records, the rapidly blossoming garage rock label, have diversified somewhat with their latest batch of releases which includes this limited 7” single by New York acid heads Worthless. It's the sound of '60s pop going psychedelic. The track's simplistic melody nicely draped in swirly atmospherics, echo and disorientating reverb.

Softest features a blissfully stoned circular groove, and comes across like an out-take from Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson. The sound of innocence getting experienced. Loping bass and drums that sound like they could fall apart into fits of giggles at any point. Midway through this mutates into a solid psychedelic soul groove worthy of Isaac Hayes, or The (Norman Whitfield produced) Temptations.

Limited to 300 copies only, this platter comes in a hand-numbered fold over sleeve, the inner side featuring a collage by Worthless' Curtis Godino, plus a free postcard. Get one now or regret it later!

Click here for Worthless on Facebook.

Vibravoid – Stepping Stone (Ltd. 7”)

Psychedelic Monkee business and heavy Traffic aboard the Lovecraft.

With Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork heading out on their latest nostalgic cash-in for the first time in ten years it's a happy coincidence that Vibravoid are releasing a brand new 7” featuring their take on The Monkees classic (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone. The garage rock staple gets a Freakbeat makeover complete with backward guitar solo. Neat!

If the Monkees cover doesn't float your boat there's always their version of Traffic's Hole In My Shoe which features guest vocals from Italian mod jazz singer Viola Road. A fairly straight take on the Brit-psych save for the middle eight section which is sung as opposed to spoken

Completing this 3 track 7” is a new mix of H.P. Lovecraft's The White Ship. Less about melody and more of a mood piece with atmospherics, synth shimmer and pulsating bass, it completes a pretty impressive 3 tracker!

Click here for Vibravoid on Facebook.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Paul Messis - The Blind Leading The Blind b/w As Time Rolls By

Sixth solo single from Sussex-based garage outsider.

Those of you who are unfamiliar with the recorded output of Paul Messis should listen up. For my money he makes some of the most authentic garage psych out there at the moment. And not only that his songs actually say something. That's right kids, music that actually speaks to you!
On his latest solo single he takes a stand against the hypocrisy of the modern world. For all its vocal dissatisfaction with the mores of today, the backing sounds just like an unearthed folk-rock nugget from the mid '60s. Two minutes of garage-psych spleen venting that brings to mind Arthur Lee's Love or early Byrds.
The flipside is an altogether more reflective affair with a tears-of-a-clown theme. Its C86 vibe provides a sweet counterpoint to the A-side's fuzzy snarl and bite.

Out now and limited to 300 copies on trad black vinyl housed in 'Market Square' company sleeve, all copies come with a hand-numbered Poster.

First 100 buyers of the 45, will get the record in a DIY photocopied fold-over sleeve made by Paul Messis.

Monday, 31 August 2015

ZX+ - Don't Drink The Water

Lancashire's one man band releases latest ragbag of ideas, invention and razor sharp guitars.

Remember when indie meant music unshackled by label or audience expectations, rather the bland compromised genre it subsequently became in the wake of '90s Britpop? If you do or wish you did then you'll probably like Don't Drink The Water by ZX+. A ragbag of no fixed genre but brimming with energy and razor sharp guitars.

ZX+ is not a home computer revamped and re-branded by Sir Clive Sinclair, but the musical conduit for one Stephen Evans. The Lancashire-based musician has written, sang and played pretty much everything on the album, bar the drums. Neatly trimmed and non-indulgent for a self-produced record, it shape shifts between up-tempo wordy romps à la Arctic Monkeys and melodic McCartney-esque folksiness, with some Cardiacs style quirkiness thrown in for good measure.

This feeling of not quite knowing what to expect is one of the record's main strengths. The album opens with The Crazies which contains quiet/loud dynamics and Mick Ronson style guitar hooks. From thereon in were treated to delicate folksy instrumentals and rum tales over punky backing, all held together by excellent musicianship, attention to detail, quality song writing, and Evans' northwestern brogue. A highly enjoyable album that deserves to be heard.

Click here for ZX+ on Twitter.
Click here for ZX+ on Facebook.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Papernut Cambridge – Nutlets 1967-80

An aural love letter to pop's last age of innocence. Papernut Cambridge's latest LP pays homage to the soundtrack of their youth.

One album I enjoyed last year was There's No Underground by Papernut Cambridge. A strong LP which mixed suburban sadness with soft psychedelia and '70s glam. It was a record that wore its influences on its sleeve. Those influences are now honoured in the form of 10 cover versions on their latest LP, Nutlets 1967-80.

It's a fan's labour of love. An unashamed sepia-toned trawl through the tracks of one's youth. At first glance it's a disparate selection of tunes but on listening it all makes sense. So what ties all these songs together? Apart from being of the same decade (almost), they all share a melodic inventiveness, invite you to sing along, and have a high feel-good factor.

There are big hits such as Jesamine and Love Grows Where My Rosemary Grows by The Casuals and Edison Lighthouse respectively, along with tracks not so well served by oldies radio stations – Lynsey de Paul's Sugar Me, Alvin Stardust's Jealous Mind and What Ruth Said by Cockney Rebel. The album ends with PC's take on Mikey Dread's 1980 track Rockers Delight. The reggae rhythms slightly at odds with the rest of the album's bittersweet pop, though no less engaging.

The 1980 cut off point is telling. By this time Thatcher was in power, the Cold War was at its height, music was getting increasingly digital, more machine based and somehow colder and less human. And though things wouldn't always stay that way a chapter of pop's history had ended. This album serves as a fitting tribute to those times. Redolent of flared jeans, star jumpers, Angel Delight, Smash instant mash potato and spending pocket money on 7” singles sold from a provincial town's white goods store.

This idea of the 1970s as a golden age of innocence has since proved to be somewhat misguided but this collection proves that the decade did at least have some great tunes. Pop would never be so unashamedly catchy again. Hats off to Papernut Cambridge for highlighting these overlooked gems.

Nutlets 1967-80 is an infectious, highly enjoyable companion piece to There's No Underground, and as with their previous recorded output is available on various formats, each containing different versions and mixes. It will put a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and tunes in your head that won't leave for days. You can't ask for much more than that can you.

Click here for Papernut Cambridge's website.
Click here for Papernut Cambridge on Twitter.
Click here for Gare Du Nord Records.