Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Various - Postcards From The Deep (Flexi-Disc Box Set)


10 flexi-discs, 10 postcards, a poster and a CD, all housed in a clambox! 700 copies worldwide.


Fruits De Mer Records raise the bar once again. Following on from their box set of 7” singles, the ever eclectic and vinyl-friendly label have gone one step further in their desire to release music in a lavishly produced physical form. Their latest collection is a set of 10 flexi-discs, complete with postcards, a poster and a CD, all beautifully housed in a clambox.

Flexi-discs are evocative objects for those of us old enough to remember them as album tasters, music magazine freebies and fanclub-only specials. With new ones almost as rare as the proverbial rocking horse excrement, it's a pleasing and brave step for a label to put together a collection of the things. Equally impressive is tracking down a record plant that can manufacture them!

While flexi-discs will have serious audioheads and hi-fi enthusiasts hiding behind their 180g vinyl, the rest of us will be weighing them down with two-pence pieces, spinning them and enjoying the sounds. And good fun it is too. Playing these artefacts is in itself an act of time-travel, even more so when one considers the agreeably retro nature of the music.

To keep the hi-fi buffs happy a bonus CD is included that contains different versions of the flexi tracks. The music is as varied as you'd expect from FDM, and is an all covers affair showcasing the label's stylistic breadth, and ranges from surf, psych, progressive garage, and krautrock. With one foot in the past, each band manages to add some twist or spin to make you admire their take on the track as well as making you want to check out the original version.

My favourite of the 10 tracks is The Thanes' take on The Pretty Things' LSD, a track that will be familiar to many. Less familiar though no less enjoyable is Soul Fiction, a track released on South African Brigadiers label in 1968 by The Hippies, and one which borrows heavily from Soul Finger by The Bar-Kays. It's ably covered here by The Past Tense. Check out the video below to hear it on flexi-disc.

The question is if Fruits De Mer further investigate the alleyway of long lost formats, what will they have planned for 2015? Tape reels? 8-track cartridge? The smart money may just be on wax cylinders!


TRACKLISTING
  1. The Luck Of Eden Hall – Psychotic Reaction (Count Five)
  2. The Loons – Celestial Empire (Dragonfly)
  3. The Crawlin' Hex – I'm a Living Sickness (Calico Wall)
  4. The Thanes – LSD (The Pretty Things)
  5. The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies – Time Machine (Satori)
  6. The Past Tense – Soul fiction (The Hippies)
  7. Schizo Fun Addict – Take A Heart (The Sorrows)
  8. Crystal Jacqueline – You Just Gotta Know My Mind (Dana Gillespie/Donovan)
  9. Astralasia – Brainticket (Brainticket)
  10. Icarus Peel – The Avengers Theme (Laurie Johnson)

Limited to 700 copies.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Sonny Vincent & Spite - Spiteful


Class of '77 get together for some transatlantic punk-noir. Strap yourself in for the ride!


This latest outing for the New York punk veteran is a punk fan's wet dream, a fantasy collaboration that features backing and input from not only Rat Scabies of The Damned and Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols, but also saxophone courtesy of Steve Mackay, sax player on The Stooges Fun House, and latter day touring member of said same band. That's mongrel pedigree for you right there! And one that bites!

For those unfamiliar with Sonny Vincent, he's a mix of sleazy seen-it-all private detective, punk romantic, and perhaps the true heir to Lou Reed as rock 'n' roll believer and champion of New York's artistic underbelly.

As leader of Testors, Sonny was a burning light of the NY punk movement, ripping it up at CBGBs back in the day. His spirit and soul remained undimmed to this day as this album more than demonstrates. Such is his standing in punk circles he was able to draft in the talents of Scabies, Matlock and Mackay.

It's a dream team band, one that effortlessly conjures up he speed and bite of London '77 punk and allies it with a New York art-punk lyrics. On top of that the saxophone lends the record a noir Romanticism. All cigarette smoke, dark alleys and burst water pipes. It's punk rock with a free-jazz squall.

Written and recorded quickly, Spiteful has a spirit and swagger that marks it out as one of the year's most surprising releases. Urgent and searching, frantic and wild, scuzzy and hungry, and definitely truer to the spirit of punk than the heritage circuit bands that make up the billing of today's punk festivals.

Though it's at odds with the music of the headphones-on, heads-down generation, this is fired up by a love of early rock 'n' roll and an outsider anti-hero stance. And is all the better for it. As such it could teach the young pups of today a thing or two.


Click here for more on the making of Spiteful.
Click here for more on Sonny Vincent.
Click here for Still Unbeatable Records.

Buffalo Killers - Fireball Of Sulk


It's the 7th studio album from Ohio's band of brothers. Still gloriously ragged but with added flavours.


It's good to know that in this era of one-album-wonders some bands are in it for the long haul. Hat's off then to Buffalo Killers, a bunch of long haired rootsy rockers from Ohio who are on the cusp of releasing their 7th studio album.

The band's previous albums have favoured a one ear to the past, denim-clad brand of southern rock that's big on vocal harmony and ragged guitar chime. While this latest album will undoubtedly please fans of their earlier records they seem to have found a renewed sense of purpose and are more confident in branching out stylistically.

While not quite outré enough to be the band's White Album, there's a remarkable breadth of styles here, from the grunge-informed Blankets On The Sun, through to the Beatle-esque Don't Cry To Me and the stoner rock styling of Marshmallow Mouth. Then there's the power pop meets country rock of Weird One and Something Else. A pairing that doesn't work on paper but hearing it is a delight.

Despite the diversity it's all pulled together by strong melodies and those trademark vocal harmonies that have characterised their output thus far. The CSN&Y influences are still intact, most notable on In A Number, but there are echoes of other acts, especially early '90s guitar bands such as Nirvana, The Posies, and Teenage Fanclub.

Fans of the band include The Black Keys and The Black Crowes, both bands to have invited Buffalo Killers to open for them on tour. On the evidence of this record the time could be right for them to step out from their shadows.

Click here to pre-order Fireball Of Sulk

Click here for Buffalo Killers' website.
Click here for Sun Pedal Recordings.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Chemistry Set - Elapsed Memories (Ltd. 7")


The Brit-psychers who refuse to die add to their ever pulsating discography.


Although neo-psych overlords,The Chemistry Set split in the early '90s, a new line-up emerged in 2008 that has bucked the trend for ill-advised damp-squib comebacks. Thankfully the material that The Chemistry Set Mk. II have released since their reformation has equalled that of their initial late '80s bloom winning the band a new legion of fans and enhancing the reputation of their earlier work rather than diminishing it.

This three track 7” on Fruits Der Mer Records is no exception. Two brand new original compositions jostle for space with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's Love Or Confusion. Elapsed Memories mixes choral sections with mid-paced Brit-Pop and builds towards a late cinematic flourish. A Cure For The Inflicted Afflicted has shallow obsessions of today's society as it's lyrical target, over a dramatic and searing backing. Nice guitar solo too!

In contrast Love Or Confusion gets a more relaxed reading than the Hendrix version, driven this time by calm-inducing sitar and tablas as opposed to the distortion and disorientation of Jimi's original. I reckon James would approve though. This limited three track 7” is on coloured vinyl and comes complete with a fold-out poster insert. Get it while you can.


Click here for more on The Chemistry Set
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Wild Eyes - Above Becomes Below


Luv 'n' Haight! Rock 'n' Roll! Second album of heavy acid-rock from Janiece and the boys.


San Francisco is already a city with a reputation for brain-bending, female-fronted, acid-rock. Think of Janis Joplin fronting Big Brother And The Holding Company back in the late '60s. That reputation is further renewed by the release of Above Becomes Below, the second album by SF-based rockers Wild Eyes, featuring vocals by Janiece Gonzalez, surely the inheritor of Joplin's untamed queen of rock crown.

This is no Luv'n'Haight hippy trip though, it's something altogether wilder, trashier and rockier, much more 21st century rock and roll, yet informed by the heavy '70s, trash-punk '80s, funk-rock '90s and the back-to-basics new rock revolution of the noughties. There's a road-hardened edge to all the psychedelic rock riffage and unhinged guitar solos, one that evokes wild nights, fast-living and outsider status.

Like any power trio worth their salt, the dudes in the band make rock with a groove, and allow plenty of space for Janiece to do her wild woman vocals over the top. After the initial bluster and bombast of opening track Stiff Nites, the album settles into its groove. With no weak links in the chain Wild Eyes are equally at ease with the slinky, slithering, shape shifting funkiness deployed on seven minute opus The Freak, as they are with the Led Zeppelin style riffs of Alabaster Dream and mystic dreaminess of Hewn Runes. Another artistically successful release for Italy's Heavy Psych Sounds Records, and one which raises the freak flag high. To paraphrase Davis Crosby – you might even grow your hair!


Wild Eyes are -

Janiece Gonzalez – Vocals
Carson Binks - Bass
Chris Corona - Guitar
Ben Richardson - Drums

Click here for more on Wild Eyes.
Click here for Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

The Roots Of Jeff Buckley - A Spotify Playlist


It's now 20 years since Jeff Buckley sole studio album Grace was released. To mark this I've made a spotify playlist of some of his main musical influences, in terms of songwriting, singing and spirit. It also includes songs Jeff covered. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to add suggestions for additions in the comments section.


Bananas Magazine - Isssue #10


Latest issue of NYC-based garage zine! With free online download compilation!


It's always a pleasure to receive the lastest copy of Bananas Magazine. Perhaps the best worldwide garage rock 'zine. This time round there's interviews aplenty - Mystery Lights (New York), Travel Check (Paris), Ave Negra (Costa Rica), Les Grys-Grys, (Southern France), The Ugly Beats (Austin, TX), Groovie Records (Portugal), Genital Hospital (Montreal), The Sound Reasons (Los Angeles), Os Noctàmbulos (Paris) and more! If that's not enough there's also some helpful country-picking guitar tabs and tons of 7" & LP reviews. Check out the Bananas Magazine website for a list of distros or order a copy direct from the site.

Fittingly for a musical genre that's best served on good ol' black vinyl, the mag has a similarly analogue nod in its old school inkyness. Older readers will no what I mean. Younger pups might want to ask their parents. The mag has made a foray into digital modernity though, by compiling a rather wonderful download compilation of the bands featured in this issue. And it's free! Head over to http://bananasmagazine.bandcamp.com/ or check it out on the embedded widget thingy below. Happy listening!


http://bananasmag.com/


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Wedge - S/T Debut LP

Berlin trio's riffing, rocking debut! For fans of Blue Cheer, Wolfmother and classic heavy rock!


Less than a year since they formed, Berlin power trio Wedge are releasing their debut album via Italy's Heavy Psych Sounds label. This self-titled platter finds the sweet spot where rock's convergent forms meet to share beers and a spliff, and ask “how're ya doin'?” On listening, it would seem psych, classic, blues, heavy, garage, metal and proto-punk are all doing fine.

Opening track Easy Chair is nowhere near as laid back as the title suggests. Instead it's a drummer's tour-de-force lightened by a lyrical vignette that's worthy of The Who circa '66. This twisted coming of age tale over riff-driven, psychedelic rock is broken up by a more introspective, Doors-esque mid section that's all the better for its sumptuous electric piano.

Looks 'n' Savvy is a swaggering garage-rocker reminiscent of Jet (remember them?), The Datsuns and other new rock revolutionaries of the early noughties. Whereas Makeyerselfree comes on like Oasis covering Stairway to Heaven (it's better than that sounds, believe me!)

For most of their inspiration however, the band look to heavy rock's late '60s/early '70s heyday, as evidenced on '61 SG (see video below), their ode to Gibson's classic guitar and weapon of choice for hard rockers from the '60s onwards. Judging by the tracks on their album, this particular SG is in worthy hands.

The band are touring in Germany throughout November and December in support of this release. If you get the chance go show some love.


Wedge are -

Kiryk Drewinski – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Holger “The Holg” Grosser – Drums & Percussion
David Götz – Bass, Organ, Electric Piano & Mellotron

Click here for more on Wedge.
Click here for more on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

Superfjord/Earthling Society – Coltrane (Split 7” +CD)


Limited edition split 7” pays tribute to John & Alice Coltrane. Includes bonus 70 minute CD.


The name Coltrane is one of the biggest in modern musical history and perhaps the one most associated with such noble concepts as spirituality, love, freedom, improvisation and pushing the boundaries of sonic exploration.

A brave move then for any band (and label) that dares to put their own spin on the music of both John and Alice Coltrane. But that's what we have here thanks to the good people at Fruits De Mer Records. A split 7” single with Finland's Superfjord covering John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, and Earth Society tackling Alice Coltrane's somewhat less familiar Journey In Satchidananda.

A Love Supreme's familiar three note riff lends itself to Superfjord's space-rock makeover, a perfect bedrock for guitars guitars to take flight, sonics to be explored, and that all important sense of wonder to be re-invigorated. It's notable also for a voice over extolling the interconnectedness of freedom, art, magic and love.

Not to be outdone, Earthling Society's version of Journey In Satchidananda ventures into similar realms of sonic possibility. An eight minute instrumental meditation that's so simultaneously swampy yet reaching for the stars, even Oscar Wilde would have loved it.

If that wasn't enough there's also a bonus 70 minute CD containing Live versions, remixes by the likes Astralasia and VHSHead, along with new tracks Superfjord, Astralasia and Earthling Society. Is there a label around today that comes close to Fruits De Mer for consistently high quality releases? If so I've yet to come across it.


Click here for more on Superfjord.
Click here for more on Earthling Society.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Maston - Opal Collection


The one man music machine known as Frank rounds up his early releases for your listening pleasure. John Barry meets Brian Wilson on splattered black vinyl.


Last year musical polymath Maston released Shadows, his triumphant debut LP on Trouble In Mind Records (read review here). It was was one of the year's most pleasing surprises, a mix of soft psychedlic and dream pop, full of Brian Wilson-esque studio exploration and melodic inventiveness.

Since then he's busied himself touring as part of fellow psych-adventurer Jacco Gardner's backing band, though it's been pretty quiet on the solo front. That's about to change thanks to Stroll On Records, who have rounded up the music from Voyages and Opal, Maston's first two cassette only EPs, along with some unreleased tracks from the Shadows sessions. The result is a ten track compilation entitled Opal Collection.

While lacking the cohesiveness and flow of his Shadows album the music on this collection is in a much similar vein and will be a well received stocking filler for fans of his Shadows LP. Along with echoes of prime-era Beach Boys, and wrecking crew studio layering there's an impressive dose of John Barry and cold war spy movie soundtracks.

With most tracks vocal-less and and short in length, it has the air of a recently rediscovered film score, one that has inventive use of percussion and an knack of mixing spooked tension with poppy melodies. Nobody does this quite like Frank. While we wait for the next album, this collection of his earlier work will do nicely.


Look out for this release on a limited (300 copies) splatter/black vinyl edition.

Click here for more on Maston.
Click here for more on Stroll On Records.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Graham Day & The Forefathers - Good Things


Medway garage legends take a trawl through their own back pages on new album.


Don't look back. So have said such wise luminaries as John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan and Oasis through rock's history. Admirable sentiments, but in their defence they probably weren't familiar with the recorded output one Mr. Graham Day. As a member of The Prisoners, The Prime Movers and The Solarflares, as well as more recently in The Buff Medways and Graham Day & The Gaolers, Day has lit up the garage rock firmament for over 3 decades.

For the Medway mod-rocker's latest LP he's teamed up with two of his old musical cohorts to breathe new life into some of the best songs of his 30-year career. New band Graham Day & The Forefathers sees Graham re-unite with bassist Alan Crockford (also ex-Prisoners/Prime Movers/Solarflares) and drummer Wolf Howard (Prime Movers/Solar Flares/James Taylor Quartet/Buff Medways).

After a debut single earlier in the year (Love Me Lies on State Records), the band are now releasing Good Things, an album that's made up of newly recorded versions of Day's songs from his time in The Solarflares, The Prisoners and The Prime Movers. There's also room for a couple of tracks from Day's most recent band, Graham Day & The Gaolers.

Good Things is the first LP on the newly resurrected Own-Up Records and is everything you'd expect from a Medway garage record. A mix of '60s R&B, mod-rock swagger, and incendiary power trio bite. With the backing tracks recorded quickly and live in one session and vocals added later via computer, (the one concession to modern techniques), it has that eternal raw garage feel that never seems to lose its appeal.

There's a rare level of intuitive playing and understanding between the trio that can only have come by having shared countless gigs. By covering songs from your own back catalogue there's always a danger of treading water, but there's more attitude and sonic attack on this album than most bands half their age could muster. Make no mistake, this is no half-arsed re-hash.

It's an album that works well as a alternative greatest hits set, though if this is your first experience of the Graham Day sound it will certainly whet your appetite for a more detailed delve into his previous records. You could argue that by re-visiting their own songbook Day & The Forefathers are resting on their laurels, but when the results sound this good frankly who cares.


Click here for more on Graham Day & The Forefathers.

The Youth - I'll Call Your Bluff / You've Done Me Wrong (Ltd. 7")


Blistering beat 'n' garage 7” from Denmark's latest suit wearing combo!!!


State Records' latest release sees label owner Mole at the control desk, this time at Ponswood Hit Factory up the road in Hastings as opposed to the label's usual in-house facilities in Kent. The results are no less impressive, with both sides of this limited 7” hitting a sonic sweet spot.

Though the band hail from contemporary Copenhagen, The Youth's sound is pitched somewhere between 1961 at Liverpool's Cavern and 1963 at Eel Pie Island. The Youth have a classic two guitar, bass and drums line-up, the vocal are shared between the band's frontline.

“I'll Call Your Bluff” features some Lennon-esque vocal bite from guitarist Lasse Tarp. Like a raw out-take from A Hard Day's Night deemed to rocky for the Fabs' teenybopper fanbase. It's just the ticket for today's garage community however.

Flipside “You've Done Me Wrong” has an equally attacking lead vocal from bassist David Peter Jørgensen, over a groovy take on the Louie Louie riff. Available now on limited 7” vinyl with a push-out centre. Back to mono indeed!


Click here for more on The Youth.
Click here for The Youth on Facebook.
Click here for the State Records website.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Papernut Cambridge - There's No Underground


Refracted glam meets bubblegum and Brit-pop for a sadness-tinged postcard from the end of the line.


Papernut Cambridge may well be the best ever composite band name for anyone wanting to evoke an aura of Englishness, nostalgia, soft psychedelia and a hint of autumnal melancholia. The right name choice then for a band whose music contains all these things and more.

Papernut Cambridge is the brainchild of one Ian Button, former member of Death In Vegas turned music producer and drummer for Wreckless Eric no less. For this, the band's second long player he's drafted in a loose collective of pals that include former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman, Death In Vegas bandmate Mat Flint and three quarters of the Mary Epworth band.

There's No Underground is an album that only someone of a certain age could have made. In some ways a tribute to the pre-punk '70s, when bubblegum pop and glam-rock ruled the charts and airwaves. A Cloud Fallen Down From The Sky brings to mind Terry Jacks' Seasons In The Sun, Nutflake Social is bubblegum pop that borrows melodically from Rocky Horror's The Time Warp, while Accident's Children takes late-era T Rex as its sonic template those records when Marc was getting turned on to sophisticated New York soul and disco.

A lot of artists and albums have mined this era, Denim's Back In Denim, Vinny Peculiar's Other People Like Me and The Dirtbombs' Ooey Gooey Chewy KaBluey! being just three that spring to mind. What sets There's No Underground apart is that it's no nudge-y in-joke. Although inspired by the pop-tastic early '70s it has a strange suburban sadness running through it. Perhaps due in no small part to it's end-of-the-line geographical genesis. (The album title refers not to some comment on today's musical climate, but to Ian Button's home on the edge of south-east London). For all this the tunes are still as catchy as a keep-net.

There's No Underground is available on a variety of formats (including a triple 7” pack), each containing different mixes and alternate takes. Take your pick! Whichever format you choose you won't be disappointed by the songs.


Click here for the Papernut Cambridge website.
Click here for Gare Du Nord Records.

Balduin - All In A Dream


A little something to blow your mind. Switzerland's one-man answer to The Dukes Of Stratosphear.


Switzerland's multi-instrumentalist Balduin has been making and honing his brand of psychedelic pop music since 2001. On the strength of this debut LP release for Sunstone Records perhaps now is the time he becomes more widely known. All In A Dream is released at a time when '60s psych influenced music is enjoying something of a renaissance. With the likes of Temples and Jacco Gardner gaining popularity, and psych festivals popping up everywhere from Tokyo to Liverpool, Austin to Berlin, it seems that now is a great time for music that explores inner head-space. And if it has a catchy poppy side too, well even better. All In A Dream has this in spades. And then some.

Which Dreamed It, Balduin's sitar-based opus is up there with any '60s pop royalty's foray into eastern music. George Harrison and Brian Jones included. Any notion of pastiche is eroded by the track's sheer playfulness. With lilting time signatures, shifting quarter notes, modal scales and melody, it's a true joy and highlight of the album. Though there are many more delights to be enjoyed.

With an ever shifting musical palette that contains echoes of Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson and a thousand great but long-lost psych bands, Balduin covers much musical ground. Father is a Lennon-esque piano ballad that Beatle John himself would have been proud of. Autumn is an amicable meeting between Merseybeat and folk-pop complete with baroque harpsichord.

It would be a fair to assume that Balduin's record collection and favoured listening is mid to late '60s British psych, in particular Donovan's purple patch of Mickie Most produced albums. That said this album will resonate nicely with fans of each subsequent psychedelic era, from XTC, through the Coral and on towards today's neo-psych torch bearers such as Maston and Jacco Gardner.

UK dates are planned for later in the year and it will be interesting to see how this man-of-many instruments translates these recordings into a live setting. But in the meantime this LP offers more than enough delights.


Click here for Balduin's website.
Click here for the Sunstone Records.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Handsome Jack - Do What Comes Naturally


The latest torch carriers for gritty, soulful blues release their debut LP.


The Blues is a wheel that keeps on turning, a gift that keeps on giving. The recent popularity of The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Seasick Steve et al, have made the blues newly accessible to mainstream ears. Unlike jazz it seems to have avoided becoming a dead form, ironically by not changing that much. The same three chords, same subject matter and same delivery have served it pretty well.

The latest band to breathe new life into this old form is Handsome Jack, a quartet from Buffalo, NY. Their debut album Do What Comes Naturally doesn't serve up anything particularly revolutionary but as the title suggests they make music that feels right, and feels good, from the blue-eyed soul burr of the vocals to the in-the-pocket funky rhythm section.

Unlike the White Stripes' punked-up take on the blues, or the Black Keys indie-funk makeover, Handsome Jack have opted for a more organic blues/soul reunification, one with it's roots in the deep southern states of Mississippi and Tennessee as opposed to the NY zip-code that Handsome Jack call home.

Much like the LPs Albert King made for Stax Records, the music here is laid-back, groove-laden and soulful. The band's roots in garage rock are betrayed by the record's bourbon-soaked rawness, but it's a blues record at heart, albeit one that owes as much to '70s funk and late '60s blues rockers Canned Heat as it does to the electrified Chicago blues of John Lee, Muddy and Wolf.

Produced by Zachary Gabbard of label-mates The Buffalo Killers, the record essentially captures the band's live sound with some subtle additions - sumptuous Hammond organ (courtesy of The Lemon Pipers' Bob Nave), the occasional harmonica solo, and some Sweet Inspirations-esque backing vocals. Do What Comes Naturally is a fine addition to the contemporary blues cannon and a disc that'll nicely soundtrack any blues house party.


Click here for more on Handsome Jack.