Monday, 24 April 2017
Balto don't reside in the territory that I normally display my flag. In this world of choruses and chiming riffs, sometimes you lose sight of what else is around. It isn't all about falling in and out of love.
Portland's Balto are a proper band, a proper American Band. They live in the same street as CSNY, Jackson Browne and Paul Simon or more recently, Wilco and Jonathan Wilson. A proper band that plays proper instruments.
This isn't just laid back West Coast Americana, the guitar solo on Celebration Smile is jaw dropping great. You can imagine Verden Allen playing Hammond Organ on Born Astray. A Year Lasts A Life Time is Jazz and Funk.
One Night Show is laid back Country Rock at it's best. You'd not be surprised to learn that I like it best when it rocks and when it does, it tends to rock gently as on the magnificent opener. Lost On The Young.
Take the last 30 seconds of Shots In The Dark departs from the previous Eagles like groove into a psych fuzz of a solo. Star Of Bethlehem as a Country Folk feel, almost Al Stewart with it's piano lead.
There are a lot of Wilco fans amongst the hipster 30 year olds who would do themselves a massive favour by buying this album. It's mid 70's vibe takes me back to a time when bands were invested in and allowed to take an album as good as this around the world. Strangers is a Storytelling album of the highest quality.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
When Communions first crossed my path in 2014, they hinted at a darker guitar sound more familiar with Denmark. The Cobblestones EP showed there was more to them than that, although the five tracks seemed to try a bit of everything.
The release of their debut album, Blue, seems to have nailed what the band want to be and nailed it beautifully. The album is far more Indie Pop than Indie Rock, a sort of Eighties vibe, but refreshingly with plenty of guitar and no drum machines.
The sound and riffs are very mid Eighties to early Nineties and have a real Manc overtone from Joy Division to The Stone Roses and The Charlatans, but there are hints of The Cure. Although the songs themselves do have more in common with The Pale Fountains and that period.
This is definitely Pop but the guitar sound and hooks take the album away from what could be twee. Midnight Child is funky, Got To Be Free borders on Goth. Alarm Clocks heads right into Brit Pop territory.
It's only really the Guitar sound that stops this being a Power Pop album, particularly on the likes of Come On, I'm Waiting and Eternity. Choruses are threatening to break out often, but just manage to hold back enough to prevent them becoming anthems.
Communions have really surprised me. Another example of great Scandanavian Pop and this is becoming more than a habit. The band seem to be getting a lot of attention from the hipster brigade, rightly so.
You can listen to the album and buy it here.
Sunday, 23 April 2017
I first brought I Don't Hear A Single into public view after getting tired of years of hearing that all new music is rubbish and that the guitar music bands were dead. I think this place is going some way to prove that wrong and the growth of this place also shows that the fans are still around.
One of the things that I keep banging on about is how great the health of Scandanavian Pop and Rock is. Sebastian Lind's Goodo are another example. Goodo follows up last year's excellent Better Than Millions in double quick time with a second offering and it's far better than being sophomore.
Big Star comparisons are ten a penny, but Lind really does have that lazy Alex Chilton voice and there are plenty of Ardent Studios comparisons present. But Rock n Roll Used To Be Fun is far more than just that.
There's plenty of comparisons to be made elsewhere. I hear snaps of Tom Petty, Wilco, The Plimsouls, The Replacements, Jonathan Richman and plenty of UK references. On what is essentially a riff driven fest, the closing tracks hint at far more. Empty Hours is pure west coast, almost country rock in it's feel.
Desert Lands is moody and magnificent, one of those drawls that Jeff Tweedy does so well and it confirms what you thought earlier, Lind can certainly play guitar. I suspect that most will latch on to the riffs that break out into something harder on the likes of I Can See It In Her Eyes and I Want You To Feel What I Feel.
This is a storming album in it's own right. But what is even better is the future promise it hints at, you can envisage future directions that Lind can take Goodo to and the first two albums promise so much. This is the type of album that is a pleasure to write about. I just hope it helps more people discover it.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Friday, 21 April 2017
As a long time Weezer fan, the last few years have provided diminishing returns. I compare them to Cheap Trick in that you wait excitedly for every new album and you are told in advance that it's a real return to form. What you get is actually one or two killer songs accompanied by a load of disappointment.
Rivers Cuomo always seems to provide far more away from the band and the Scott And Rivers follow up to the 2013 debut is stunning. Murphy and Cuomo together offer something very different to their respective bands, Allister and Weezer.
This is J Pop, sung in Japanese and it's outstanding. There's the odd departure into ska and even rap, but largely it's great great pop and in Doo Wop, they have come up with one of the best Power Pop songs of 2017.
Normally, I'd direct to you where you can listen to and find it. However, I got hold of this via Japan from who I know rather than what I know. It is available on i-Tunes Japan here. As soon as I know of more availability I'll tell you. However I can't hold back on telling you how much that I am enjoying the album.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Bands have released individual songs throughout the year regularly, particularly in these Bandcamp days. The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club took this a few steps further. They decided to record produce and release one new song per month until the latest album was complete.
Each song was made available as a free download and the resultant album is now complete and again available as a Free Download. This may be a fairly unique strategy but the result is a really cohesive offering from the Five Piece Chicago Outfit.
The vibe is Angular Power Pop set somewhere between the late 70's to mid 80's. Miscast has as many words in it as a Bates Motel era Sparks song, Rare Bird has a great Psych Pop keyboard riff that breaks into Funk.
The opener, Have You Met You is a ringer for The Darkness, yet Just Drive could be A Flock Of Seagulls. Upstairs should be something on the Creation label. Succumb To Your Blues is in BMX Bandits or Postcard territory. What's It To You could be Fiction Factory.
The Woman Who Got Old takes me back to sweaty Northern clubs in the early 90's, great twee pop. The whole album is a pleasure to listen to and very much like the Lemmo album, it's the sort of album that you don't hear these days.
The album is not following any current trends and that makes this even more listenable to me. I get sent a whole lot of stuff and you probably can guess that it follows one of three patterns, lots of it done badly. So when you hear an album that grabs your attention, you should tell everyone, because there aren't too many around. What's more this costs the sum total of 0 pence.
You can listen to and download the album FREE here. The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club are also playing at the upcoming IPO Chicago Bash (sic) on 23 April. You can see the full Chicago schedule here.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Buttercup are back with their first album for seven years and they've been much missed. The trio of Erik Senden, Odie and Joe Reyes are joined by the Navaira brothers of Los Bandeleros fame. Album number seven is everything that the band always promised to be.
For something that was recorded from live studio takes, Battle Of Flowers is surprisingly cohesive, all 12 songs intertwine beautifully and most importantly it rocks, letting up infrequently when the band need to come up for air.
It's not all noise though, there is some great Pop present here on the likes of Vicious Rewind and the wonderful, Don't Go It Alone. These are interludes though, great intervals until the band break out again.
68 Playmate is like Lou Reed fronting a great Psych Band, Let It Drop opens the album in rocktastic form, like a Mitch Easter soundscape, it's great. Gud Girls is even better, the gem on the album. Open On / Shut Off is more of a nod to the Art Rock that they've been noted for in the past.
The problem maybe for Buttercup in the past is that maybe they've been caught between two stools. Are they Jangly, are they art rock? It's also fair to say that San Antonio Texas hasn't been the centre of the musical world, perhaps it should be.
On Battle Of Flowers, Buttercup have not only offered up their best album, but it has purpose. This is a proper album, an album you listen to from start to finish. There will be tracks that stand out, but each listen offers up something different. It may be their best ever, but it is certainly better than most around.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
An album that I've been waiting on for a few months is released on 28 April. This is more of a heads up than a full review. That full review will replace this when I can add a few more tracks for all to listen to.
Following on from 2014's superb Illustrated Bird, comes Kits & Cats And Saxon Wives. I'm fortunate enough to have the full album and it's been on repeat at ASH Towers. Fantastic Psych Pop with the emphasis on Pop.
We know that Michigan is currently the centre of Power Pop and Andy Reed adds another production to his growing admirable list. The Ann Arbor trio expand on what they provided on Illustrated Bird. All three are multi instrumentalists and offer up great harmonies comparable to the likes of The Legal Matters.
The album is available for pre-order and as you order you get the wonderful, Sinking Feeling, which features Molly Felder of Swan Dive as a guest vocalist. I can't praise the album enough, it's poptastic.
You can pre-order the album here.