Sunday, 1 May 2016

The La's - Roots and Influences - A Spotify Playlist

Still up there in my all time top gigs is when I saw The La's live at Hull University back in the day. It was one of the few times I've been right at the front. I was , am, and will always be a proper fan-boy where this group are concerned. Hell, I still have the red rattle 'n' roll T-shirt I bought that night (and sometimes still wear it!)

There's been a disproportionate amount of column inches written about the band, considering the small amount of music they actually released so I'm not going to add to that (not yet anyway). What I will do however is post this Spotify playlist for you all to enjoy. It's highlights some of the acts that inspired Mavers & co. Some will jump out as obvious influences be it the rhythm guitar and harmonies of the Everly Brothers, the almost skiffle sounds of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and of course that other Liverpool band of note, Johnny & The Moondogs, included here twice in their better known guise as The Beatles.

Others may not be quite so obvious but are worthy of inclusion nonetheless, mainly because the band has cited them as influences (in the case of Sweet and The Gypsy Kings). I have no idea whether they ever liked the Hollies (quite possible not) but Carrie Anne could well have been written by Mavers so in it stays!

Skin up yer bastards!

Crystal Jacqueline - Morning Dew EP (Ltd. Colour 7")

Brand new EP from Devonshire's premier psych-folk vocalist!

I've written about Crystal Jacqueline's music before, with her most recent album Rainflower becoming something of a soundtrack to last summer. This four track EP maintains the high standard and contains three well chosen covers and one brand new original song. Jacqueline is ably backed throughout by her partner and musical collaborator Icarus Peel.

The EP opens with a five minute version of Bonnie Dobson's 'Morning Dew', stealing it away from its folksy roots and into ethereal dream-pop territory. It's quickly followed by a brand new original song, 'Ivy'. Multi-tracked vocals backed with finger-picked guitar and synth washes, it's short but sweet and bodes well for any future full album plans.

The remaining two tracks are well chosen covers of obscurities. (well, obscure to me anyway!) 'Moonsong:Pelog' is so perfectly suited to Jacqueline's voice it could well be mistaken for self-penned but it's actually by written by Joe Byrd and The Field Hippies and first appeared on the band's 1969 LP The American Metaphysical Circus.

Rounding off the EP is 'Sally Go Round The Roses', a song by one-hit-wonders The Jaynetts. Eschewing the R&B feel of the original for something more psychedelic and majestic, it's a triumphant end to this four song odyssey. As ever buy with confidence!

Tracklisting -
Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson/Tim Rose)
Ivy (Icarus Peel)
Moonsong:Pelog (Joe Byrd And The Field Hippies)
Sally Go Round The Roses (The Jaynetts)

Released on May 9th as a limited edition colour vinyl 7”.

Click here for more on Crystal Jacqueline.
Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.

Friday, 29 April 2016

July - Can I Go Back Again (Ltd. colour 7")

Revitalised psych legends give nostalgia a good name! First single from the band's forthcoming LP!

A familiar name to fans of '60s UK psychedelia, July have made a number of selective live appearances since reforming for their 2011 comeback. And vinyl fans will be happy to hear they have a forthcoming 7” single due out in May on Fruits de Mer Records. 'Can I Go Back Again' is a track from the band's new album Resurrection, but features here in an extended version with the slightly more lo-fi demo version on the flipside.

The track opens with a drone and sitar motif before settling into vamped piano chords. Over the hypnotic backing the lyrics pay homage to the heady days of their '60s high watermark via lyrics which list titles of Beatles' songs along with snatches of their lyrics. A simple enough trick and one which on paper shouldn't work. Truth is, as the track progresses you're pulled in by its genuine yearning and simple charm. I get the impression they're not yearning for lost youth as such, more for a lost age of innocence and open possibilities. I think we're all down for that, where do we sign up?

Released on May 9th as a limited edition colour vinyl 7”.

Click here for July on Facebook.
Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Neighbourhood Strange – The Neighbourhood Strange/Wytches Sky (Ltd. 7”)

Is there something strange in your neighbourhood? Who you gonna call?

If your postcode has an SP prefix there's definitely some strange in your neighbourhood, namely The Neighbourhood Strange, a six-strong gang of '60s loving renegades who are on the verge of releasing their debut 45 on their own £.s.d Records imprint.

Pressed on reassuringly heavy black vinyl, with the band's circular logo on a similarly dark sleeve. Retro? Yes, but in a good way! The eponymous A-side harks back to the '60s purple patch, when psychedelia gripped the world's switched on youth. Though it's not the fully bloomed '67 flower power era the band echo, they're more attuned to the tightly clenched fist of 1966's dark satanic psych, with a sound propelled by nascent guitar fuzz, Farfisa solos and Jagger-inspired swagger.

The flipside 'Wytches Sky' takes a further step into the darkside of garage-rock. Not so much riot on Sunset Strip as strange rituals in darkened rooms. This is a record for fans of the Nuggets and Pebbles compilations, Aftermath-era Stones, Them and early Love. With the band already getting airplay on BBC6 Music, their future looks ironically bright! Look out for the band coming to make your neighbourhood that little bit stranger soon.

Click here for The Neighbourhood Strange on Facebook.
Click here for The Neighbourhood Strange on Bandcamp.
Out soon on £.s.d Records.

Five reasons to love Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny must surely be one of the greatest singers these shores have ever produced. She was gifted with a voice that seemed to carry an eternal truth. It was and remains a voice you simply could believe in and added depth and weight to any song she sung. A voice that didn't try and sell you the song, but made sure you simply had to listen.

This Friday sees the release of I've Always Kept A Unicorn, a 2CD set of acoustic songs containing demos, live performances, radio sessions and previously unreleased recordings spanning her all too short career. It features Sandy Denny's solo work along with recordings she made as vocalist with Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, The Strawbs and The Bunch. Alongside the 40 songs it also comes with extensive and beautifully written sleeve-notes by Sandy's biographer Mick Houghton.

To mark it's release here's a short list of reasons why everyone should love Sandy Denny. (click over the jump.)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Sons of the Void - Sons of the Void

One for the modern day sonic adventurists. Eight tracks of poppy, jangly neo-psychedelia.

Currently gracing the turntables of many neo-psych fans is the debut LP from Sons of the Void. That the album hits a sweet spot is no surprise given that the duo behind the music have a proven track record when it comes to making music that transports, challenges and pleases in equal measure; David Max cut his teeth as bassist and songwriter in Hoboken psych outfit Tadpoles before moving to Switzerland for a 5-year stint on guitar and songwriting duties in Psychic TV. His meeting with Nick Nobody led to the pair building a studio, writing lots of new songs and striking out on their own as Sons of the Void.

Eight of those new songs have made the cut on the pair's self-titled debut long-player. Perhaps less experimental than his previous output and collaborations (Max has also worked with Sonic Boom and Gibby Haynes), the songs are in a poppier vein that will appeal to fans of both '67 psychedelia and bowl haircutted mid-80s indie as well as to us modern day sonic adventurists.

Characterised by gentle ascending chord progressions, pretty arpeggios, well thought out textures and gentle melodies delivered via soft, knowingly buried vocals. It's a sugary pill that's tempered with the occasional tangential heavy freakout and venture into sonics. Good to know that the search for the lost chord continues. 

Click here for more on Sons of the Void.
Click here for Sunrise Ocean Bender Records.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Galileo 7 - The Live-O-Graphic Sessions

Nearly live” LP from Medway's leading garage-psych outfit led by former Prisoners bassist Allan Crockford.

We've had the pleasure of featuring releases from The Galileo 7 in the past on Harmonic Distortion - Their FalseMemory Lane LP from 2014 and last year's 7” on State records 'One Lie At ATime'. Good to know then that the band are as busy as ever. To coincide with their recent French tour the band have released a blistering “nearly live” LP entitled The Live-O-Graphic Sessions. The 10 tracks give you an alternative “best of” and offer a taste of what the band sound like live. And that's pretty darn tasty!

Spontaneously recorded in the space of an hour with the help of Jon Barker (The Senior Service) at his ad-hoc studio set up amidst his lithographic printing press premises, the album is less soft-psych than their previous studio outings and back in touch with their garage band roots. Power-pop melodies and harmonies backed up with drumming set to the rarely heard Keith Moon energy level. The VU meters must have been working overtime, with the songs gaining extra brio and brashness as a result. Recommended.

The Galileo 7 are - 
Allan Crockford – vocals, guitar
Viv Bonsels – organ, vocals
Paul Moss – bass, vocals
Mole – drums, vocals

Look out for The Galileo 7 at the Medway Legends Weekender in San Sebastian, Spain on June 3rd.

Clickhere for the The Galileo 7's website.

The Boy from The Crowd - Revelator

Combining blues, garage rock with a hint of prime Bowie glamour and swagger and this is what you get. The Boy From The Crowd are an East London duo currently doing the rounds. Their album Where Bees Come To Die was released at the tail-end of last year. Check it out via the band's Bandcamp page or watch the rather stylich video for lead single Revelator above.

New band alert - The Bordellos

Heading from the unique hinterland betwixt scouse and woollyback that is St. Helens The Bordellos have have been ploughing their unique furrow over the last decade. Making music that's of no fixed genre but mixes post-punk with alt-folk and whatever form best serves their songs at any given time. Infused with an outsider spirit and twisted sense of humour that anyone along the M62 rust-belt will recognize.

Think Beefheart meeting Half Man Half Biscuit in a Joy Division tribute band (or summats like that.) Anyway you decide - Their Bandcamp page is full of free downloads that have overspilled from album and EP releases along with various radio session tracks and other odds and ends. Well worth a trawl through. It's full of music that doesn't take itself too seriously but still has more to say than most of the dross we're hawked by the corporate music machine. Of particular interest is their track 'The True Meaning of Record Store Day', a timely reminder to go out and do something less boring this Saturday than line up in a queue with amoral speculators.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Smashing Time - Satire on swinging '60s London.

Bugger all on the telly tonight so maybe time for this movie. A satire on the notion of swinging '60s London, written by George Melly and starring Rita Tushingam and Lynn Redgrave, what's not to like?!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

HYPNOS - Cold Winds - New album out this month!

Swedish heavy rockers, HYPNOS, release the official teaser for their 2nd album Cold Winds, which is set to be released on April 29, 2016, via Crusher Records. 

Cold Winds was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden, at KUST Studio with Henrik Magnusson.
The band comments: "We are really excited our new album "Cold Winds" will be released on April 29th! The album is packed with stuff that makes us who we are blended with where we might be going. The album was recorded at Studio Kust here in Gothenburg with the amazing Henrik Magnusson at the helm and we've had a blast. Now we can barely wait for this new album to be released and hit the road again to play these songs for you. Until then, don't let the cold winds catch you, watch out for evil hands and beware your nightmares!"- Hypnos

"Cold Winds" will be released on vinyl, CD and digital download - click here to pre-order your copy. here:   

New band alert - Prana Crafter

A new name to me but one well worthy of attention is Prana Crafter, the musical vehicle for one William Sol. Hailing from the deep wilderness of Washington State's woodlands, his mix of homespun acid-folk and meditative new-age soundscapes perfectly captures the inherent melancholy of all points north.

His latest album release Rupture of Planes (on US label Deep Water Acres) is a great starting point, and takes its cues from vintage British acid-folk but opens it up with a widescreen American feel. This tumbleweed meets mushroom approach is a surprisingly intoxicating one, the music veering from the pastoral to the full on electric freakouts often within the same track, finger picked acoustic guitars give way to bristling electric solos in a manner not dissimilar to the recent LP from Heron Oblivion.

Weather, forests and landscape are returning themes, as are their effects on human moods and psyche. Fans of the aforementioned Heron Oblivion, The Greek Theatre, or nature mysticism in general will find much to enjoy here. Also worthy of investigation is the Opal Crown Transmission EP available via Prana Crafter's Bandcamp page. Check out the links to both releases below.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Le SuperHomard - MapleKey

10” LP of super cool modernist lounge music! The soundtrack to the best cult movie that never got made!

Best band name of the year must surely go to France's Le SuperHomard. They take their name from a club featured in '60s French crime caper flick Let's Not Get Angry. OK, so in English, The Great Lobster might lose some of it's cool but the music the band make is as groovy and sophisticated as you'd expect.

Le SuperHomard is the brainchild of Christophe Vaillant, formerly of Pony Taylor, and started as a solo project before the addition of his brother Olivier on drums and friend Pandora Burgess who sings lead vocal on four of the tracks. Together they've swapped Pony Taylor's garage rock for a more optimistic and breezy style of electronic pop.

Musically Le SupeHomard are part retrogressive cool and part forward looking indie nonchalance; stylish, intelligent and the epitome of Gallic élan. There's a lot packed in to the album's eight tracks; from the propulsive bass and drum clatter of 'Intro' through the gentle electronic dreaminess of 'MapleKey' and lo-fi folktronica on 'Bituminized', it all fits together. Taken as a whole the album has a definite widescreen cinematic vibe and comes across as the soundtrack to the best cult movie that never got made.

MapleKey is out now in the UK on Mega Dodo Records on CD or limited edition 10” white vinyl.

Click here for Le SuperHomard on Twitter.
Click here for LeSuperHomard on Facebook
Click here for Mega Dodo Records.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

George Harrison Soul Man Vol. 1 (Illustrated Discography by John Blaney)

In depth look at The Quiet One's extra-curricular and post-Fabs releases!

If, like me you're a massive Beatles fan, no doubt your bookshelves already groan under the weight of books on the world's most famous scousers. You probably ask yourself how many more times can I read about those four psychedelic horsemen, what they did, and from what perspective? The answer is of course many many more times. It's a story that never gets boring. And if it does there's always the solo careers.

George Harrison Soul Man Vol. 1 is an 8 x 8 inch hardback book by Beatle expert John Blaney that examines The Quiet One's solo recorded output starting with Wonderwall in 1968 up to George Harrison in 1979. Even the most informed among us will find new facts and insights in Blaney's well-written text which gets right to the heart and soul of George's musical journey. Equally as enticing are the 400-plus images of album and single sleeves, US and UK label variations and trade-ads. What struck me most reading the book was just how music George made, or helped make, as the book also looks at his production work for other artists during the early days of Apple Records.

Harrison's post Beatles career is often unfairly overlooked or sidelined when compared to those of McCartney and Lennon (plus ça change), All Things Must Pass and Concert For Bangladesh notwithstanding, but with his back catalogue recently appearing on all the streaming sites it won't cost you a penny to listen and re-immerse yourself with his lesser known gems. Save your money instead for this lavish book which will compliment and enhance your listening. With a cast of characters that includes Billy Preston, Doris Troy, Eric Clapton, Delaney & Bonnie, as well as Hare Krishna devotees, Hell's Angels, Bob Dylan, Phil Spector and the Monty Python Team, this book is proof that while George may have described himself as an “economy class Beatle”, the truth is he was anything but.

Soul Man (Vol 1) is jointly published by Paper Jukebox & Mega Dodo Records.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Black Rainbows premier new video + tour dates!

BLACK RAINBOWS drop new riff-fueled video "Electrify"; new album "Stellar Prophecy" out APRIL 15th on Heavy Psych Sounds!

Roma's stoner rock princes BLACK RAINBOWS are stepping up the pace in anticipation of the release of their fifth album "Stellar Prophecy" this May, by dropping their new video "Electrify" via The Obelisk. Jolt your spines, get fuzzed up now.

With "Electrify", BLACK RAINBOWS serve another blistering in-your-face track, while also welcoming new bass player Giuseppe Guglielmino within the band. "Electrify" was directed by the band's in-house videomaker Andrea Labate.

Check out Black Rainbows' new video "Electrify" HERE

Losing no time, the emblematic fuzz trio is set to release their brand new full-length "Stellar Prophecy" this May 15th, closely following their well-acclaimed fourth effort "Hawkdope" released in early 2015. BLACK RAINBOWS continue their exploration of the 70's stoner rock sound, still reaching a perfect balance between hectic fuzz-driven anthems and highly psychedelic rock jams. 

BLACK RAINBOWS - New album "Stellar Prophecy"
Out on April 15th via Heavy Psych Sounds


Since they formed nine years ago in Roma, Italian trio BLACK RAINBOWS have established themselves as one of the most active fuzz-fueled rock acts in Europe, with four albums, a remarkable handful of EPs (including a split record with L.A.'s space rockers Farflung) and countless tours and festival appearances across the continent.

Blending the drive and swagger of 70's hard rock with the sun-baked thickness of 90's stoner rock, BLACK RAINBOWS have managed to create their own sound imprint, that could be described as "Hawkwind, MC-5 and Nebula crashing cars in the middle of the Mojave desert". Closely following with their highly acclaimed effort Hawkdope, the band is set to deliver another tasty piece of their fuzzy cake with fifth full-length Stellar Prophecy, out on April 15th via Heavy Psych Sounds.

Click over the jump for the band's upcoming tour dates!