Saturday, 29 March 2014

Bronco Bullfrog - Time Waits For Norman (Ltd. edition 7")

Soft suburban psych-pop! The Broncos celebrate a day in the life of an average everyday misfit.

Following on from last summer's super single, Clarifoil, the Broncos are back with a three track EP which further showcases their mastery of mid '60s mod-meets-art-school guitar pop. With a sound that channels The Kinks, The Move, The Iveys and early-Jam, the lead track Time Waits For Norman catalogues a day in the life of suburban oddball Norman as he negotiates life's petty frustrations.

In the tradition of sweetly observational English psychedlia, it celebrates the oddness in the ordinary. In much the same way as The Small Faces' Lazy Sunday Afternoon references Mrs. Jones and her Bert's lumbago, here we get fizzy pop, corner shops and small talk with the neighbours. It may also be the only pop song to ever mention chicken paste. As with all the Bronco Bullfrog releases there's a keen ear for period detail, right down to the studio phasing and Beatle George-ish guitar break.

Rocking Horse Mender, the EP's other original track, has a more melancholic bent and pays homage to a lost age of innocence and the joys of a simple wooden toy while Listen To The Sky is a spirited cover of a Sands B-side. Sands being a short-lived psych-pop band who only ever released the one single. No doubt an original copy of said disc would fetch a small fortune on Ebay. For those of us with diminished purchase power this lovely three track EP will more than suffice.

Released by Fruits De Mer Records on limited edition coloured vinyl.

Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Fitness Forever - Cosmos (OUT NOW!)

Lounge friendly mix of lite-jazz, light entertainment and euro-pop. (Out now on Elefant Records.)

Madrid indie label Elefant Records are on a roll at the moment. Hot on the heels of The Magic Theatre's second album comes another winning release. Cosmos is the second long player from Italian septet Fitness Forever. With a name like that you might think their music would be the perfect soundtrack for a strenuous gym workout but it's anything but. Instead it's a sophisticated, lounge-friendly mix of lite jazz, light entertainment and euro-pop. More smartly tailored mohair suit and patent leather shoes than lycra and headbands.

Sweeping in from the Mediterranean (Naples to be exact) is a warm front of sunny, orchestral pop which gently shifts from chintzy euro-pop, through jazz-infused swings and orchestral sweeps, into beach-friendly Tropicalia. With a cappucino at your side it's the perfect soundtrack for flicking through vintage copies of Vogue or Nova magazine. Add to this the album's all Italian vocals and true-to-period nod to bygone light entertainment and you get an idea of the record's charm.

Much like David Axelrod's early '70s output, the album is immensely sample-worthy, though with a less serious and weighty feel. Alongside Axelrod, the album's other musical touchstone is another musical great, the no less talented, sadly deceased Ronnie Hazelhurst. This thread of retro light entertainment runs right through the album. Despite the all Italian vocals, many of the tracks could be the theme tune to some short-lived and long-lost, vaguely melancholic US sitcom from the mid '70s economic lull. You know that two girls struggling in the big apple kind of vibe.

Cosmos has a unique appeal that just about steers clear of kitsch and manages to be both retro and modernist, nobody else is making music quite like Fitness Forever.

Click here for more on Fitness Forever.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Beatpack - I'm Walkin'/Hey Senorita 7"

Hot-blooded R&B from reformed hairy garage legends. Part five in State Records' Soundgate Sound Acetate series.

It's been 23 years since The Beatpack disbanded. But thankfully the lure of making music again was too strong to resist. The reformed Beatpack features three original members with new blood on drums and rhythm guitar. Their first recordings since 1991 have found what seems like a natural home on State Records, Folkestone's bespoke recording facility and record label.

A-side “I'm Walkin'” ably demonstrates the band have not lost their touch when it comes to making breakneck R&B. Blues harmonica wails defiantly over the barely restrained rhythm section, who seem as if they're chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. It's a sound that calls to mind Van Morrisson's Them, tearing it up during their wild residency at Belfast's Maritime Hotel.

As a contrast to the A-side's leaving song, B-side “Hey Senorita” celebrates the prospect of new love with a slightly more beat-pop feel. All in all a nice re-introduction. Welcome back chaps!

Limited to 500 copies on 70g 7” vinyl in a hand-stamped sleeve.
Click here for the State Records website.

PYPY - Pagan Day

Distortion, speed, chaos! Art-punk from Montreal.

PYPY is something of garage punk supergroup, made up of members of Montreal's CPC Gangbangs, Red Mass, and Duchess Says. With a sound that's a mix of the Slits and Cale-era Velvets drone, injected with the amphetamine rush of garage rock. The overall effect is like Link Wray's been to art college.

Opening with the album's title track, a slashed speaker, graffiti splattered wall of noise complete with freakout guitars, fuzzed-up bass, and football terrace, glam-stomp beats. The mantra being - If three chords is good, then two chords is better, and it's a tactic that suits the band well. Like the title suggests, it's time to put away any beliefs, get primitive and back to basics and well, see what happens!

Molly is the closest the album gets to pop, with traditional verse/chorus/verse structure and girl/boy vocals. Any notion of safe territory thankfully scuppered by a Tom Verlaine-esque guitar solo. Daffodils has echoes of art-infused post-punk. Think PIL or Siouxsie, it's punk but with an eye on the disco floor. Hypnotic and slightly sinister.

Too Much Cocaine is a nightmare journey about having taken too much cocaine (who woulda thought?!?) Its a manic diary of paranoia over a jerky dance-spasm rhythm. Lesson indeed to just say no, eh kids! She's Gone takes the glitter beat and gives it a space-punk makeover, with wah-wah guitar breaks reminiscent of Loop or Spacemen 3.

Ya Ya Ya is a short, sharp blistering ode to dumb-assery, which gives way the album's closing instrumental track Psychedelic Overlords which edges towards stoner rock territory. It's these two final tracks that perhaps best sum up the dual nature of PYPY; a garage rock band that's not afraid to venture out of the genre's narrow confines, towards something more adventurous and experimental. Good on 'em I say! If you're looking for something to take you out of your comfort zone this could be just the thing.

Click here for PYPY online.
Pagan Day is out now on Black Gladiator/Slovenly Records.