- ▼ October (5)
- STROBE - THE BUNKER SESSIONS (Sulatron Records LP,...
- THE BLACK ANGELS - THE INSTITUTE, BIRMINGHAM 26/09...
- CRICKETBOWS - COMMUNION EP (Mosquito Hawk Records ...
- DIG DEEPER - IN CENTRAL EUROPEAN TIME (Alien Agenc...
- ZONE SIX - ZONE SIX (Sulatron Records LP, CD).
- MINIATURES - JESSAMINES (Saint Marie Records LP, C...
- THE LORDS OF ALTAMONT - THE WILD SOUNDS OF THE LOR...
- RICHARD THOMPSON - ACOUSTIC RARITIES (Beeswing CD,...
- FOUR BY ART - INNER SOUNDS (Area Pirata Records CD...
- ► August (8)
- ► 2016 (112)
- ► 2015 (58)
Sunday, 22 October 2017
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the Pure Phase Ensemble, it really is quite simple……………………as part of Gdansk’s celebrated SpaceFest held every December at the city's Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art in the post-industrial Nowy Port district, the festival organisers invite a renowned international artist to be the musical director, along with Anna Szynwelska and Karol Schwarz of Nasiono Records, for an eclectic rotating group of musicians drawn from various Polish alternative bands............previous leaders of the Pure Phase Ensemble have included Mark Gardener (Ride), Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Ray Dickaty (Spiritualized), Steve Hewitt (Placebo), Jaime Harding (Marion), Chris Olley (Six By Seven), and Hugo Race (The Bad Seeds, The True Spirit). A collection of songs are composed, rehearsed and performed live just the once, this one off event is recorded and released on CD by Nasiono records several months later. The line up for Pure Phase Ensemble 6 put together for the 2016 Spacefest was led by the illustrious Anton Newcombe from The Brian Jonestown Massacre along with with Emil Nikolaisen of Scandinavian rock band Serena Maneesh plus Polish musicians Karol Schwarz (7faz, KSAS), Olga Myslowska (Polpo Motel), Maciej Karminski (Jesien), Marcin Lewandowski (Judy’s Funeral, Castlings, Soon), Jakub Zwirello (Oslo Kill City, Szezlong), and Kacper Graczyk (Aiodine, coding) and sounded not unlike the Velvet Underground trying to score on Mars.
No doubt one of the attractions of being invited to play with the Pure Phase Ensemble is that it is an opportunity to defy expectations and a chance to be more experimental than normal. The version of the Pure Phase Ensemble led by Newcombe sounds a little like BJM in parts and then again it sounds like the music has been beamed from space............with the songs developed in a workshop environment with the band improvising to produce a set of unique compositions for the SpaceFest set it's not Anton Newcombe plays BJM with a bunch of Polish guys but something more improvised beyond all the player's comfort zones. Pure Phase Ensemble 6 features four guitarists creating either a wall of noise or much more subtle atmospheric Space Rock textures as they twist and turn through 45 minutes of sonic exploration that sounds like a head on collision between Spaceman 3/Spiritualized and the Velvet Underground way beyond the stars. It's all wonderfully democratic with lead vocals split between Newcombe and the other singers in the band (Schwarz and Mysłowska)…………Newcombe sings lead on ‘Sorry Not Sorry’, ‘God Drugs’ and ‘Getting Bored’ which all sound like BJM songs that have been torn apart and reassembled without taking note where all the bits go as they are fantastically loose and sprawling. Elsewhere tunes like the atmospheric ‘Popol Vuh’, the scorching ‘Bałwan’ and the darkly electronic ‘Tętno pulsu’ all lean heavily towards the sound of innovative modern Psych Rock where Krautrock and Space Rock melt together………………as usual, the pure thrill of experimental Psychedelia that the Pure Phase Ensemble create does not disappoint. SpaceFest has figuratively transformed Gdansk into the intergalactic capital of Poland, presenting psychedelic music at its best with Shoegaze, Krautrock and Space Rock plus cosmic energy, intergalactic cats, forest goblins, psyched visuals, pagan disco and more, with the consistent quality of the Pure Phase Ensemble more than adding to this. The Pure Phase Ensemble will return this year with it’s seventh incarnation led by local legend Maciej Cieślak.
Pure Phase Ensemble 6 featuring Aton Newcombe is out NOW and is available on CD and as a digital download direct from Nasiono Records or from the really tuned in record shops and on line retailers. You can stream/buy the D/L from the Nasiono Bandcamp page here……………………………
Saturday, 21 October 2017
With an excellent collection of sharp, relatively short songs stripped of any excess and with more hooks than a fishing tackle shop, One Hallucination Under God is the sound of a band totally at the top of their game in the studio with this elegantly crafted LP. Returning with their third full length album, Canadian Psych/Prog band A Devil's Din have melded their myriad of influences, ranging from the pulsating sounds of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd & the Psychedelic-era Beatles to the sonic adventures of Yes, Gentle Giant and King Crimson, and wrapped them round a solid spine made up of very modern Indie/Alt Rock to create their most electrifying record to date. The trio, led by multi-instrumentalist David Lines with bassist Thomas Chollet and virtuoso drummer Dom Salameh, have taken familier sounds, adored by lovers of Classic Rock, and transposed them into the now, giving the record the warm glow of late 60s/early 70s recordings but with a very contemporary sheen.
Referencing the past but not going totally retro on our asses, One Hallucination Under God is a quintessential modern Psych/Prog record………listen hard and the influences seep out of the record, from the vocal harmonies straight offa Fragile, thru Macca-esqe bass lines to Psychedelic Sabbath riffing as all of A Devil’s Din’s inspirations taken from nearly half a century coalesce into a sound that is so much greater than the sum of it’s parts. It’s a totally accessible, uplifting record, far removed from their darker, earlier material and which you could easily compare to Agent’s Of Fortune era Blue Öyster Cult where their Prog/Psych sound was injected with a healthy dose of pop sensibility. There is some great stuff on this album……….with it’s chugging riff and rolling bass ‘Brave New World’ is a fantastic modern Prog Rock tune while ‘Home’ is a cool Psych Rock tune where the future meets the past in a fuzzed out haze. Elsewhere ‘Who You Are’ is seriously anthemic, destined to be played to a sea of lighters at a festival sometime soon and the title track can be imagined in a parallel universe where Black Sabbath based their career on ‘Planet Caravan’ and descended into a world of Psychedelic weirdness instead of inventing Heavy Metal in this reality. This really is a record that fans of Classic Rock are going to dig on the proviso that they haven't closed their mind to newer sounds.
Self released by the band on their own Island Dive Records imprint, apart from the CDs available at their shows it appears that One Hallucination Under God is currently only available as a digital download but keep ‘em peeled People as this record really does deserve a proper physical release and this should catch the ear of an adventurous Indie that will want to take a punt on this fantastic record. You can check out/stream/buy the album from their Bandcamp page here https://adevilsdin.bandcamp.com/
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
New from Fuzz Club records is the latest release from Greek Garage/Psych band Acid Baby Jesus………………..Lilac Days is a tripped out distillation of stoned immaculate, hazy, incense-scented mix 60s Nuggety Psychedelic Pop, the worldly Mediterranean sounds of their native country and more scuzzy Rock’n’Roll sounds straight outta the garage. If you are looking for comparisons then Acid Baby Jesus have one foot in the past with the other firmly in the now and you will find that a more than holy blend of the the Beau Brummels, the Chocolate Watch Band, the early quite poppy singles from Aphrodite’s Child, Buffalo Springfield, the Allah-Las and Thee Oh Sees dialed down quite a bit would not be a million miles away from where they are at.
Acid Baby Jesus’ third full length LP, and their first for Fuzz Club, sees the band return with a more expansive sound with the addition of lots of garagey keyboard fills and in some places trumpet and trombone augmenting a head rush of tumbling, fuzzed out guitars. There is a refreshing subtlety to Lilac Days that harks back to the more laid back sound of the 1960’s S.F./West Coast bands with much of the album bathed in Byrdsian jangle and sweet vocal harmonies………….however there is still plenty of energetic guitar wig outs on the record with ‘Me & Panormita’ and ‘Guide Us In’, in particular, melting faces and blowing the roof offa tha’ joint with pure, unadulterated Garage Rock hedonism. Three years in the making, Lilac Days is the most accomplished Acid Baby Jesus record to date and well worth your time.
Lilac Days by Acid Baby Jesus is out NOW. Available on vinyl and CD from all good record stores/on line retailers with copies also available directly from the Fuzz Club store and a digital download from the Fuzz Club Bandcamp page here…………
https://fuzzclub.bandcamp.com/album/lilac-days where you can also stream the album.
Tuesday, 17 October 2017
Steve Miller is a survivor…………….a journeyman song writer/guitarist at best that due to some great business smarts prospered while many of his contemporaries crashed and burned. Always happy to hitch his thang to any bandwagon going, he first appeared playing the Blues in Chicago before relocating to the West Coast playing regular gigs at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore while recording what many consider to be the finest Steve Miller Band album ever, 1968’s Sailor released by Capitol records to great critical acclaim. Fast forward five years and the big hits started appearing as the Steve Miller Band evolved into a bland, radio friendly, slick and successful arena band with the true nadir being the atrocious mega hit from the 80s, ‘Abracadabra’. Still recording and touring Steve Miller, along with bands such as the Eagles, has become the epitome of what everybody hates about the 70s bands that sold their soul for heaps of cash and coke.………….erm…….take the money and run. Happily wringing out the last drops of cash from an artist that ceased to be relevant nearly 45 years ago, Virgin/UMG have released a lavishly packaged Steve Miller Band compilation titled Ultimate Hits that charts Steve Miller’s decent to the seventh circle of AOR hell but manages to neatly sidestep most of the good stuff he was recording in the late 60s.
Released as a single CD/double LP with two previously unreleased live recordings of ‘Living In The USA’ and ‘Space Cowboy’ as well as a never before released Steve Miller solo recording of ‘Seasons’, for those who mainly want the hits and a more expansive 2 x CD/4 x vinyl set packed with more rarities and live recordings, Ultimate Hits is aimed squarely at existing fans. With the first big Steve Miller Band hit, ‘The Joker’, being the jump on point for the “hits” package, it quickly becomes a series of diminishing returns………………………the slick if unthreatening Country/Blues (a hangover from the late 60s Psychedelic phase) of the early big singles soon evolves into formulaic, radio friendly Pop/Rock with the genuinely strange and funky ‘Fly Like An Eagle’ being an exception. We can imagine that this CD would on the car stereo when Jeremy Clarkson is tailgating some poor sod on the Basingstoke bypass. The more expansive deluxe edition is more interesting as it least acknowledges that Steve Miller was making records before 1974 with a smattering of tracks from some of the earlier, more Psychedelic/Blues based, albums including ‘My Dark Hour’ from 1969 recorded in London with Paul McCartney playing practically all the instruments under the alias Paul Ramon and sounding not unlike a Beatles out-take. There are also live recordings of the previously mentioned ‘Living In The USA’ and ‘Space Cowboy’ and ‘Kow Kow Calculator’ from the 70s/80s that really are not a patch on the album versions. Unless you are a fan of the Steve Miller Band, this is a pretty disappointing compilation. The annoying thing is that there is a warehouse full of interesting Steve Miller archive material going back 50 years that includes tracks recorded with McCartney but never released plus some pieces with Brian Wilson and Cannonball Adderly that have yet to see the light of day which must be more worthy than this album…………..also a vinyl box set, also with bonus tracks, is being prepared for 2018 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first two Steve Miller Band albums, Children Of The Future and Sailor………….in the meantime Ultimate Hits exists in order to squeeze a bit more cash out of the hardcore fans. We suggest you save your money and wait until the cool 60s stuff gets released.
Ultimate Hits is out now and available everywhere, but to be honest you would be better off picking up a copy of Steve Miller Band : The Best Of 1968 - 1973 which is way more psychedelic and you can usually find it on Amazon for a few quid.
Saturday, 14 October 2017
It’s been cool watching how Sicilian multi-instrumentalist Gioele Valenti’s JuJu project has evolved and developed over the last few years…………….originally nurtured on the exquisite American boutique label Sunrise Ocean Bender, the debut JuJu album emerged early 2016 and it’s mix of squalling Psych Rock, Krautrock and more Mediterranean/African influences saw the record widely hailed as one of the best, most innovative Psych albums of the year with it’s reputation spreading like wildfire among the hardcore PsychHead community. The next step was to assemble a band to play the album out live…………….the JuJu live experience is simply stunning and the mind blowing set at the recent Liverpool Psych Fest was one of the highlights of the weekend. With their finger always on the pulse, the influential Fuzz Club have never been slow in spotting talent and Valenti has signed to the label for the release of the sophomore JuJu LP Our Mother Was A Plant………..carrying on in its predecessor’s footsteps, the new LP is a continuation of JuJu’s ritualistic sonic exploration into the cultural implications of the ongoing refugee crisis and humanities increasingly strained relationship with Mother Earth. As for the influences behind the album, Gioele explains: "Our Mother Was A Plant is inspired by the great psychedelic researchers and plant explorers active - including Timothy Leary, William Burroughs, Jim Morrison, Terence McKenna, Jeremy Narby and many others. People who managed to reveal the secret mechanism of the unconscious tied to the natural world that surrounds us, and from which we are definitely separated. Every separation, every neurosis, sexism, racism, speciesism, violence, terrorism comes from this division that the human being has operated between himself and the biosphere”.
Sonically there is very little change in the JuJu signature sounds forged on the first album. The pulverizing bass lines, heavily-reverbed guitars, textured walls of sound, gospel drones and crooning vocals are all present and correct and with its rhythmic, otherworldly psychedelia alternating between the Teutonic sheen of Neu! and the funky Afro-Beat rhythms from Western Africa, Our Mother Was A Plant summons all kinds of spirits from down town Lagos to the neon lit streets of Dusseldorf. It’s the exploration of African/Mediterranean influences that makes JuJu stand apart from the endless Psych bands still channelling the, albeit classic, sound of Hawkwind, CAN and the Stooges, featuring a guest appearance from Capra Informis (the masked djembe player in Swedish Psych titans Goat), JuJu's second album takes you well off the beaten track into uncharted Psychedelic spheres. With it’s nagging Krautrock groove and swirling guitars, ‘Death By Beautiful Things’ is the starting point for JuJu’s latest adventure………..it’s a slowburner of a record as tracks slowly unfold into strange and beautiful shapes on Gioele Valenti’s sonic canvas with the standout tracks being the funky Gospel tinged ‘And Play A Game’, the Afro-Beat inspired ‘I Got Your Soul’ and the massive Goat style grooves of the tracks featuring Capra Informis (‘In A Ghetto’ and ‘Sunny After Moon’. Again Gioele Valenti has produced another peerless record (following the debut JuJu album couldn't have been easy) that may even be better than the first and is no doubt one of this year’s essential LPs. For existing fans of the supremely talented Gioele Valenti Our Mother Is A Plant is not going to disappoint……….for those of you that have yet to wrap your ears around the JuJu experience, you really need to check this out.
Our Mother Is A Plant is out NOW on Fuzz Club and available as a limited edition LP release, CD and as a download from all the best record shops, groovy online retailers and directly from the Fuzz Club website.
Saturday, 30 September 2017
New from Germany’s premier Space Rock/Psychedelic record label, Sulatron Records, comes a previously unreleased gem from the cult British Space Rock band Strobe. Strobe formed in 1990 with their first album See Beyond the Sun, released in 1991 by Mystic Stones receiving very positive reviews, the Melody Maker picked up on the vibe of the record and wrote "Strobe retread a no-man’s land between Loop/Hawkwind experimentation and Cure-style catharsis....Strobe don’t seem tied down by anything, the three guitars soar, the sound is full, dynamic and masterful...." Another four albums on different labels followed before Strobe split in 2001, hitting their peak around the mid 1990s with the albums 'Maya' (1992) and 'The Circle Never Ends' (1994) ……….however they were a band out of time, existing in an era when tastes had changed in the UK and many of the Psychedelic bands had ditched guitars in favour of samplers and dance beats, destined to remain a cult underground band regardless of the quality of the music. Sulatron have rescued the tapes from a session the band recorded for what would have been their fourth album and are releasing them into a world that is now ready for a band that in certain circles were considered to one the best British Space Rock outfits ever.
Recorded totally live with no overdubs at the Bunker Studios in Bedford sometime in 1994, this album is more representative of the band’s sound than any of their studio albums ever where. It’s raw but with a line up that includes three guitarists Strobe create expansive soundscapes with a warm lush sound based on hypnotic flowing rhythms where the keyboards/synths take more of a backseat. The album opens with the slowburn instrumental ‘Sun Birth’ before kicking into the Loop meets Hawkwind at the edge of space groove of ‘Into Your Skin’……….guitars swirl, dive and soar around a rock solid rhythm section driving the the band to the further out. Maybe this is indicative of many Psychedelic bands being wary of messing with the Psych Rock template, but the Bunker Sessions, even though over 20 years old, sounds surprisingly contemporary when held up against the sound of more modern Space Rock bands………………….either that, or Strobe were so far ahead of their time it’s frightening. There is some really great tracks here…………’Chameleon Earth’ is a stompy Space Rock tune with a killer riff while the fantastic ‘Opium Dream’ with blissed out female vocals is a transmission from the narcotic netherworld. The album closes with ‘Sun Death’ which collapses into itself with a face melting squall out. An absolutely brilliant record that sounds totally modern and well worth your attention. Kudos to Sula Bassana and the rest of the people at Sulatron for rescuing this record and giving it the release it deserves.
Housed in a Comet Lulu designed sleeve and available as a limited run of 500 copies on blue vinyl and also on CD, the Bunker Sessions by Strobe is due for release 13/10/2017 and will be available from all really cool record stores and the usual suspects online. Pre-orders are being taken now at the Sulatron web site.
Arguably the most important Psych band this decade, The Black Angels, Austin’s finest band since the 13th Floor Elevators, hit the UK on a whistle stop tour promoting their recently released Death Song album. They tore a hole in the sky headlining the Saturday night at the Liverpool Psych Fest then, with the gloriously deranged A Place To Bury Strangers in tow, hit a few of the provinces with their own special brand of high octane Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll. We caught up with them again at their show in Birmingham the following Tuesday at the Institute.
Following the barely controlled mayhem of A Place To Bury Strangers is never an easy task, however The Black Angels comfortably ease into a stunning 90 minute set with the snarling, politically charged state of the Nation address ‘Currency’. With the addition of some well chosen older tunes, the set list comprised mainly of songs from the new record with the pulsing ‘I Dreamt’ and the sizzling ‘I’d Kill For You’ being particular highlights. With a barrage of eye popping visuals, The Black Angels are the consummate Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll band playing an easy blend of trippy tunes and more guitar heavy Rock songs with a solid spine of Nuggets influences, retooling them for a modern audience. Death Song is no doubt their most commercial and accessible record to date with the band slowly crossing over from their cult status to a more mainstream audience, but on their own terms. Next time this band rock up in the UK expect them to be playing much bigger halls.
Friday, 29 September 2017
Returning with their first record since their 2015 album, Diamonds, Dayton, Ohio’s Cricketbows have released an EP inspired equally by classic 60s and 70s bands like The Beatles, The Byrds, Little Feat, The Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac and The Grateful Dead and the wave of 80s and 90s indie stalwarts like R.E.M., The Replacements, X and Uncle Tupelo. The Communion EP features six new songs that, while still having a rich Psychedelic texture, sees the Cricketbows slowly evolving into a more refined “rural” Alt Rock band pulling together their numerous influences into something much greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Mixing short sharp bluesy tunes with more expansive Psych tinged songs, Cricketbows have crafted a set of songs with one foot in the hazy lazy late 60s/early 70s and the other in the current US Indie scene. The standout tunes have to be the squalling ‘Jupiter’ which shows that Cricketbows can rock like a beast but still cram it all into a sub 3 minute tune and ‘End Of The Night’, a song about the devastation the heroin and opiate epidemic has had on rural America. However the real gems are ‘Summer Festival Sky’ and ‘Sea Green’……………with it’s ringing Byrdsian riff and an unhurried early 70s groove ‘Summer Festival Sky’ comes on like a holy entwining of Jefferson Airplane and Heart while ‘Sea Green’ is a beautiful tune that starts with a gentle acoustic opening slowly building in intensity as it unfolds over six glorious minutes. The Communion EP is where “then” meets “now” somewhere out “there” and is well worth your time if you dig either the classic bands that have inspired this record or the newer bands tipping their hat to the past.
The Communion EP is out NOW on CD and as a digital download via Mosquito Hawk Records and you can check it out/stream it/buy it from the Cricketbows Bandcamp site here……….
We were first introduced to Norwegian band Dig Deeper when their politically charged Stars Tonight EP landed in our inbox a few months back. Hot on the heels of the EP release comes a new album, In Central European Time, which sounds just like the missing link between Neil Young & Crazy Horse and the 13th Floor Elevators. Heavily influenced by guitar driven Alt Rock/Americana and 60s Psychedelia, the Dig Deeper sound, with its spacious, long layered grooves and chiming guitars, is succinctly described by the band as “Norwegian Road Rock”. Sinuous guitars lines twist around dynamic drums and supple bass as songs of escape, distance, travel, identity, loss, and the search for freedom unhurriedly unfold behind singer Einar Kaupang’s heartfelt words.
In Central European Time is a concept album of sorts with six longish tracks telling the story of life as a refugee; the risk, the journey, the expectation and the sad conclusion of often being met with hostility by the rest of the world. Both heartbreakingly beautiful and strangely tripped out, it’s a record that tells stories in the tradition of American Alt-Country but from a European perspective. There is desperation to be found running through ‘How Can I Be Certain’ and ‘Stars Tonight’, peril in ‘Don’t Ask Too Much’, unfulfilled dreams in ‘Hey’, a story about the day everything changes on ‘The Ticket’, and on album closer ‘Sky Brown Sky’ we’re met with a tale about being confronted by a closed and hostile world. It’s also a great guitar record infused with a prominent Psychedelic sensibility……….Country Rock meets twisted West Coast Psychedelia head on with ‘Sky Brown Sky’ being a massive 10 minute Psych Rock wig out as soaring fuzz and reverb drenched guitars dance to the death. In Central European Time is well worth a listen if you like your Americana a bit messed up and dig stuff like Roky Erickson, Magnolia Electric Co., The Byrds, Son Volt, Dream Syndicate, Drive-By Truckers and Green On Red……………it’s like having your whiskey spiked with L.S.D.
Due for release 07/10/2017 via Alien Agency, In Central European Time is available on vinyl only and should be available from the usual on line retailers and all the best vinyl stores.
Thursday, 28 September 2017
One from the Sulatron archives………………….evolving from the German Psychedelic Rock band Liquid Visions, Zone Six were only meant to play one show and split up. Here we are 20 years later and they are still recording and playing live (when Sula Bassana’s commitments to Electric Moon allow) and to celebrate band’s 20 years anniversary the Zone Six self titled debut gets a long overdue reissue. Originally a very limited cassette edition in 1997 before being issued as a CD only release by Early Bird records in 1998 is now available on vinyl for the first time ever.
Taken from the master of the original cassette (sans the vocals added for the CD release) and sprawling over two sides of vinyl, the debut Zone Six album is a tripped out, trancey Space Rock improvisation that takes in scorching Acid Rock, spatial Dub and primitive Electronica as it floats gently to the far side of the cosmos. Side One of the record features Hans-Peter Ringholz’s firey Acid Rock guitar improvisations before slowly easing into a spacey dub passage with echoed scattershot Psychedelic guitar and deep space bass to the fore. Side two is even further out, first expanding on the crusty dub grooves that closed side one, mixing in Middle Eastern flavours before collapsing in a glorious lycergic mess of twisted guitars and primitive electronics………it’s a trip People. Raw and with minimal overdubs, the Zone Six debut has matured well with age and holds it’s own when matched up against the more modern Space Rock bands (even though Psychedelic music does seem to exist in a weird temporal stasis where time is a pretty vague concept)……………..although well received by the Psychedelic community on it’s release in 1997, it’s a record that sounds far more relevant today and will now reach a bigger audience of heads that are going to have their minds blown. Well recommended for children of the bong.
Due for release 13/10/2017 on green vinyl limited to 500 copies and also on CD, the Zone Six reissued debut album will be available from groovy record shops, the usual on line sellers and direct from the Sulatron web site where pre-orders are being taken now.
Wednesday, 27 September 2017
MINIATURES - JESSAMINES (Saint Marie Records LP, CD, D/L). CARTA - THE SAND COLLECTORS DREAM (Saint Marie Records LP, D/L). CRASH CITY SAINTS - ARE YOU FREE? (Saint Marie Records LP, CD, D/L). WHEN THE SUN HITS - WITHIN YOUR EYES EP (Saint Marie Records LP, D/L). LOTTE KESTNER - OFF WHITE (Saint Marie Records LP, CD, D/L).
We have had a batch of new releases that we want to tell you about from Saint Marie Records outta Texas………they are one of the more adventurous Noise Pop/Shoegaze/Alt Rock labels that look towards the future (with one foot firmly in the past) and don’t think that when Lush decided to split was the day the music died. Dig it kidz.
Originally from New Zealand but now based in Melbourne Australia, Miniatures have been creating cinematic and emotive soundscapes since 2012 with several EPs already released and their full debut album, Jessamines, hits the racks in October. With an absolute Tsunami of spiraling, twisted, distorted guitars and processed beats, Miniatures drag Dream Pop into the now, layering rich tones, beautiful textures, cascading melodies and angelic vocals, building soundscapes that rise and fall like the ocean tide. Guitars wash over you until the wave of sound sweeps you out to sea, swirling in a reverb riptide and drowning in delay. Infused with a late 80s Indie Pop sensibility (listen carefully and you will hear the influence of The Sundays, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Smashing Pumpkins, even a hint of Johnny Marr’s guitar adventurism), Jessamines radiates with shards of brilliant light where crystalline guitars tumble and cascade over a bedrock of supple bass playing and inventive drum programming as the album slowly reveals a myriad of textures, moods and colours…………simply beautiful. If you are looking for comparisons, the sound of the now defunct The School Of Seven Bells isn’t that wide off the mark. Due for release 06/10/2017, Jessamines will be available on vinyl, CD and as a digital download.
Outta California comes West Coast Psychedelic/Post Rock/Alt Rock band Carta with a new album of mesmerizing songs. Led by guitarist Kyle Monday, evolving from a loose collection of L.A musicians in 2002 to an actual real live band, Carta have released a series of critically acclaimed albums over the years, being favorably compared to artists such as Gregor Samsa, Tarwater, Stars of the Lid, Low and This is Your Captain Speaking along the way. The Sand Collector’s Dream is the fourth release from the band and no doubt their best to date, it’s a beautiful mix of abstract guitars and ambient electronica that is really hard to tie down to just one genre. Flitting from expansive soundscapes to twisted, stripped back Americana and most places inbetween, Carta have crafted a beautiful record of modern American psychedelic music that twists and turns elegantly through two sides of vinyl. It’s a spellbinding record, with most of the band chipping in on lead vocal duties and guest vocalist Odessa Chen, blending with the men in a series of duets, really stealing the show. Their voices blend together like a Lee Hazlewood with more “haze” and a Nancy Sinatra with more “sin”. It’s an album of vast stylistic breadth, the band’s description of their sound as “paranoid inner-vacuum micro-dub and ruminative post-space hypno-drone” doesn’t really do it justice……………. Just say it’s the missing link between Another Green World and tripped out Alt Rock, what the band so eloquently refers to as “the eternal internal struggle” as they trace a journey from entanglement to solitude, from optimism to defeat. It’s that feeling when your mind is clear but everything around you is fog. This is the way the world ends—not with a bang, and not with a whimper, just beauty & regret. Out NOW on vinyl and as a digital download.
Are You Free? By Crash City Saints has been out for a few months now. It’s a concept album of sorts about growing up in the early 90s in the small American town of Kalamazoo (it’s in Michigan……we had to Google it) and the influence that Shoegaze and Alt Rock had on their outlook on life and their possible futures. As the album is a “journey” of sonic awakening, it pulls in influences from the era mixing up familiar leftfield Alt Rock and Shoegaze tropes to tell a story over the course of twelve tracks that hails the significance of the music as the record unfolds and is housed in a cover that replicates the style of 23 Envelope/Vaughn Oliver’s iconic artwork for 4AD. Crash City Saints have been previously described as “a powerpop band in shoegaze clothing” or as the band says their music is like “a sandblaster spraying sugar” which ain’t far from the truth. Are You Free? Is awash with a sweet Pop sensibility colliding with the squall of Noise Pop guitars overdriven to infinity, showering sparks and blowing minds. It’s a slow burner of an album, taking about half the record to really get up to speed………………however when the Madchester baggy beats and swirling fuzzed out guitars of ‘Spirit Photography’ kick in then Are You Free? hits full velocity and escapes gravity s pull. The second half of the record is a love letter to the early 90s British Shoegaze bands with Crash City Saints at times sounding more like MBV than MBV…………………it’s a cool record. Fans of early Brit Shoegaze will really love this album as it is a distillation of everything that was great about late 80s/early 90s Underground Indie Rock music. It may not be original, but that’s not the point. Out NOW on vinyl and CD, you can check it out/stream it/buy it here………
Calling your band When The Sun Hits takes away any ambiguity about where your major influence/inspiration is coming from straight away…………..however the 5 piece Nottingham band are more that mere Slowdive copyists. Behind the crashing waves of blissed out guitars there is a steely Post Punk backbone and a dynamic propulsive rhythm section. New from Saint Marie Records, When The Sun Hits’ 6 track Immersed Within Your Eyes EP mixes together expansive soundscapes (check the gorgeous ‘Cooper’s Secret’) with grittier songs, such as ‘Lovedead Town’, that evokes the scene from back in the day but sound thoroughly modern. The EP is out NOW and you can check it out/stream it/buy the vinyl here........
And finally………………Lotte Kestner is the pseudonym of Anna-Lynne Williams, formerly the singer in one of Saint Marie Records most popular signings, Trespassers William, and collaborator with the Chemical Brothers. Off White is a treasure, an album of shadows and silhouettes, songs unbearably moving, so jaw-droppingly intimate, stripped down to minimal piano, acoustic guitar, synth washes backing framing Anna-Lynne Williams’ stunning voice. Dim the lights, spark up a forest of candles and drop the needle on the record for a almost transcendental out of body experience. Out NOW on vinyl, CD and digital download, you can check the record out on Saint Marie Record's Bandcamp site here.
All these records are available on line direct from the Saint Marie Records store and all good local record emporiums…………
Sunday, 10 September 2017
Cool……………..The Lords Of Altamont are back with a new long player. L.A’s finest bad ass biker bar band return to action with the long awaited follow up to their 2014 release The Lords Take Altamont, firmly adhering to the old maxim “If it ain’t broke…..don’t fix it”. The Wild Sound of Lords of Altamont is another hi-octane white knuckle ride mixing together 60s Garage/Punk and scuzzball 70s Heavy Rock riffing in a full on brutal sonic assault………….it ain’t big and it ain’t clever, but that ain’t the point.
The new Lords Of Altamont platter blows the roof offa th’ mutha with some of the greatest unpretentious amped up primitive Rock n Roll we have heard all year!!!…………it’s the sound of the cocksure raunch of the Flamin’ Groovies meeting the Detroit howl of the Stooges and the MC5 and no one gets out alive. Fans of their previous records are not going to be disappointed, if anything The Wild Sound of Lords of Altamont sees the band leave the garage and head out on the highway bringing……….erm……..heavy metal thunder. It’s everything that was great about American Heavy Rock at the turn of 70s and includes a tip of the hat to band’s such as Steppenwolf and the other biker boogie bands on the scene with 11 powerful late-sixties/early-seventies sounding tracks which manage to sound fiendishly contemporary. The Lords Of Altamont don’t fuck about…………opening with the blistering ‘Like A Bird’, they then hit the afterburners and don’t ease up till the last track, tearing through the songs and taking no prisoners along the way. They don’t make records like this anymore, well not ones as good as this. Fucking Ace!!!
Due for release in October on vinyl, CD and also as a digital download via Heavy Psych Sounds, The Wild Sound of Lords of Altamont is available to pre-order here…..
Saturday, 9 September 2017
It’s been 50 years since Richard Thompson first emerged as a fresh faced teenage guitar prodigy, spitting out fiery lead lines on stage at the UFO Club with Fairport Convention. Regarded as one of the finest songwriters of his generation, through his work with Fairport Convention as they evolved from a very English version of Jefferson Airplane into one of the most important British Folk Rock bands of the 60s, the wonderful records he recorded with his then wife Linda and his long distinguished solo career that followed, Thompson has been recently revisiting his extensive back catalogue of songs, recording stripped back acoustic versions of his best known work. Released in 2014, Acoustic Classics contained a selection of some of his best known songs from his post Fairport albums with the recent, critically lauded, Vol. II going further back and including acoustic versions of ‘Meet On The Ledge’ and ‘Genesis Hall’ among the tracks.
Recorded as a companion piece to the Acoustic Classics albums, Acoustic Rarities is a collection of new recordings of some of the more obscure songs in the Thompson catalogue, some previously existing only as cover versions……………included here are Thompson’s own take on ‘Rainbow Over The Hill’, a song gifted to The Albion Band, and ‘Seven Brothers’, previously covered by Blair Dunlop. Still possessing one of the most distinctive English Folk Rock voices and sparkling guitar skills undiminished by time, Richard Thompson breathes new life into songs first recorded over 40 years with a pair from the Fairport Convention album Full House (‘Sloth’ and ‘Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman’), an acoustic reworking of ‘Poor Ditching Boy’ from Thompson’s under rated debut solo album Henry The Human Fly and brilliant versions of two of his finest songs recorded with Linda Thompson……………..at the time of their release in the mid 70s when Thompson was still in his mid twenty’s, ‘End Of The Rainbow’ and ‘Never Again’ felt incredibly cynical, but now with his seventieth birthday on the horizon, they are songs that have seasoned as their writer has aged. Let’s be honest, with Richard Thompson’s most recent recordings being pledge funded by his large, hardcore fanbase and with at least half this album made up of previously unreleased songs, it is clear that this record and the Acoustic Classics albums are aimed clearly at existing fans of this most enduring of artists…………if you are looking for a “young person’s guide to Richard Thompson” you really need to be looking elsewhere. Along with both volumes of Acoustic Classics, Acoustic Rarities is an essential purchase for fans of early Fairport Convention and Thompson’s work since he set off on his own idosincratic path at the start of the 70s.
Released on Thompson’s own Beeswing imprint via Proper Distribution, Acoustic Rarities is available on CD and as a download. Available to pre-order on Amazon with a due release date of 06/10/17 and then available from proper record shops.
Sunday, 3 September 2017
Originally part of the first wave of early 1980s Neo-Psychedelic/Mod revival bands that got it together on the Italian scene, outta Milan, via Carnaby Street circa 1966/67, comes the first album of new material since 1986 from Four By Art. Formed back in 1982, Four By Art played a blend of Mod/Beat inspired energetic R&B and Power Pop with strong 60s Psychedelic Pop influences stirred into this potent brew, recording a self released EP and a couple of albums for the Electric Eye label before calling it a day towards the end of the decade…………………..the collected works from this period, The Early Years '82-'86, were released on CD by Area Pirata Records, the home of Italian Garage Rock, back in 2008 and is still available from the label, you can check it out/ stream it/buy it here https://areapiratarec.bandcamp.com/album/the-early-years-82-86
Reforming in 2002 and returning to playing live to enthusiastic audiences for over ten years, Four By Art have finally been able record the follow up album to Everybody's An Artist With...Four By Art!………..and guess what???? It’s really cool!! There is some great stuff here………..from the album’s Psych Pop opener. ‘Alive’, to the pastoral, trippy Small Faces groove of the closing track ‘Say Something’, Inner Sounds twists and turns through 13 tracks taking in the Power Pop head rush of ‘I Ask You’ and ‘At Your Door’ , the funky Psychedelic Soul of ‘Allora Mi Ricordo’ full of mad brass stabs and jazz flute, the R&B/Garage Rock squall of ‘Sorry’ and ‘The Loop’ and the stunning Jangle Pop of ‘Take Your Time’. It may have been a while since their last album, however Four By Art have returned with a record that both recognizes their 80s heritage and is also relevant to the now. Maybe not the most original album we have heard all year, however mixing Maximum Mod R&B/Soul influences with catchy as hell Power Pop and Psychedelic flourishes, Inner Sounds is the vibe of the Small Faces transposed into the second decade of the 21st Century………with a mix of crunching guitar riffs, rolling piano and swirling Hammond Organ underpinned with solid bass playing and awesome drumming, Four By Art whip up a storm of familiar sounds from the past but are much more than just a heritage act. Well worth a listen.
Inner Sounds is out NOW on CD and digital download from Area Pirata Records in collaboration with the band’s own Artrecords. Available from the Area Pirata website or from their bandcamp site here……………………
https://areapiratarec.bandcamp.com/album/inner-sounds where you can also stream the album.
Wednesday, 30 August 2017
STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING
CRICKETBOWS - ‘END OF THE NIGHT’
"Our town and county (Montgomery County, Ohio) is at the center of the 'Heroin and Opiate Epidemic' - we're leading the nation in heroin and opiate overdoses per capita and the song and video is sort of about that. I'm losing friends and acquaintances weekly. Our coroner has had to bring in restaurant style portable freezers because we don't have room for all the bodies."
CHAD WELLS - CRICKETBOWS
Monday, 28 August 2017
As a genre Power Pop is pretty difficult to tie down as it spills over into so many other genres…………………but roughly (and we mean very roughly) it’s the bit on the Rock n Roll Venn diagram where Nuggety Garage Rock, the influence of British bands such as the Kinks and Beatles, the Punk Pop smarts of the Ramones and post Psychedelic 70s Pop radio intersect. Trace the roots of Power Pop back to the turn of the 70s and major influences such as Badfinger, The Raspberries, Todd Rundgren and Big Star emerge before the genre went seriously overground with Cheap Trick’s zillion selling Live At Budokan album. Moving into the 80s, Power Pop mutated and shared influences with the children of Nuggets, cross pollinated with the new breed of Neo-Psychedelic and Post Punk Garage Bands before more or less spluttering out as a commercial force in the 90s with the Badfinger tribute band Jellyfish. Still thriving in the underground, mainly in the USA, Power Pop is alive and well with new bands putting out great records and festivals dedicated to the genre such as International Pop Overthrow and the Power Pop-A-Licious music festival attracting an audience of dedicated fans.
Broadcasting outta Syracuse on their local Internet Radio station, since forever, former GOLDMINE writer Carl Cafarelli and his co-host Dana Bonn have been blasting out the finest Power Pop on their weekly show This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl mixing up tunes from the better known bands with the new breed, unearthing a few obscurities along the way. Carefully compiled by Dana and Carl, This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4 is the latest release in a ongoing series of collections of their favourite Power Pop tunes since Volume 1 dropped in 2005. With The Rubinoos, The Grip Weeds and The Smithereens among only a few bands reasonably well known outside the Power Pop scene (no doubt due to licensing issues), This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4 features the best of the less known and newer bands on the scene who have been influenced by……………..erm………..Nuggety Garage Rock, British bands such as the Kinks and Beatles, the Punk Pop smarts of the Ramones and post Psychedelic 70s Pop radio and includes absolutely killer tracks by Stepford Knives, Popdudes, Ronnie Dark, 1.4.5, The Rulers and The Legal Matters’ stunning take on Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Don’t Look Back’. As previously mentioned, Power Pop has a habit of spilling over into different genres and this compilation is no different…………….it mixes together The Bottle Kids bubblegum Psych/Surf Pop with crunchy Cheap Trick style riffing from Chris von Sneidern (now a Flamin’ Groovie), the furious Punk Pop of The Rulers brilliant ‘I Want My Ramones Records Back’ with 1.4.5’s cool Pop Rock and The Smitheerens Dixy Beatles groove of Big Star with The Grip Weeds Byrdsian jangle…………showcasing the best of what is a pretty wide ranging mix of styles that could be loosely be described as Power Pop . Although Power Pop aficionados are going to really dig this, the range of music here is universal enough to catch the ear of a wider audience and well worth checking out.
Dana & Carl Present: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio Volume 4 is out NOW on CD, released by the very groovy Power Pop/Alt Country specialist label Kool Kat Musik with a portion of the proceeds going to Spark Syracuse, the community radio home of This Is Rock n Roll Radio. Available directly from the label’s shop or if you are brave enough you can get your local Indie record store to order it for you.
Saturday, 26 August 2017
It’s quite a trip going from representing Belgium at the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest to recording a stunning experimental pop album full of wonderful 60’s abstract–expresionism orchestrations with chimes and ondes Martenots (an early electronic musical instrument invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot and a distant cousin of the Theremin) among gentle bass lines and ethereal organ drifting along with a dreamy use of echoes, reverbs and sometimes electronics………………..frankly, it’s a bit like Cliff Richard getting his freak on with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during a weekend drug bender in the basement of Broadcasting House!!!! Although best known for her Eurovision exploits and her later career as a voice actor/singer for kids cartoons, Belgian maverick Claude Lombard recorded Chante, a strange and beautiful record of incredibly exquisite songs, all sung in French, as her debut album that is now a startling document of melancholic chanson psychedelia that staggeringly foreshadows the eerie, incorporeal sci–fi pop of Stereolab and, more specifically, early Broadcast by about 30 years. Originally released by the long defunct Palette label in 1969 and, like all records years ahead of their time, completely bombing commercially but living on by word of mouth as a cult album and considered a lost classic by those who had heard it. Spanish crate diggers Guerssen Records have rescued this brilliant record from obscurity and have reissued it for the first time with the rare original French edition gatefold kaleidoscopic artwork via their Sommor imprint, complete with with liner notes by pop connoisseur Don Sicalíptico.
Produced by Roland Kluger, (best known for his work with Belgian pop group Chakachas, who had a minor hit in the USA in the early 70s with ‘Jungle Fever’, and the Free Pop Electronic Concept), Chante is probably one of the unique examples of French songs with really gorgeous, untypical sound work, closer in their sonic range and complexity to UK and US proto–Psychedelic orchestration in the pop world. With it’s unusual mix of instrumentation, Chante has a otherworldly eerie atmosphere akin to the work by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox on the Barbarella soundtrack, The United States Of America and the early electronic work of Bruce Haack mixed with the sonic eccentricity of the White Noise album and the Psychedelic samba of Oz Mutantes, all tempered with mainland European cool. At it’s core Chante is a pop record, albeit a pretty strange and experimental one, made by a producer who wanted to push the boundaries and a singer who was more than happy to go along on the ride, having previously worked with Italian avant garde composer Luciano Berio. The songs are a work of beauty with Claude Lombard’s wonderful voice complementing the slightly off kilter arrangements. Any serious fan of Broadcast or Stereolab will fall in love with this absolutely gorgeous album forever………………tracks such as ‘Polychromés’, ‘Midi’, ‘L’ Usine’ and ‘L’Arbre Et L’Oiseau’ sound more relevant to the retro-futurist sounds of today than they did when first cut to wax nearly 50 years ago. A lost masterpiece emerges back in to the light.
Chante by Claude Lombard is out NOW on vinyl and CD. You can gets yer hands on this gem from the very best record shops, the usual suspects on line and, of course, direct from the Guerssen Records web shop.
Sunday, 20 August 2017
SPIRIT VALLEY - NEGATIVES (Fuzz Club LP, D/L). SACCADES - SACCADES (Fuzz Club LP, CD, D/L). HOLY WAVE - FUZZ CLUB SESSIONS (Fuzz Club LP).
Strange things are happening…………………presenting for your delight and delectation a round up of some of the new releases from the weird and wonderful Fuzz Club Records.
In the ongoing evolution of Psychedelic Rock it appears that the 60s may nearly be over (the 60s officially ended in 1976 after some uptight a-hole booted in his telly after seeing the Sex Pistols on the Bill Grundy show but not everybody got the memo), the endless recycling of Black Sabbath riffs and Neu!/CAN grooves from the 70s are on the wane and all the cool kids are now digging 80s Post Punk and Psychedelia with Joy Division/New Order low slung bass lines, the chiming guitar of the early Echo and The Bunnymen records and the dark, psychedelic ambiance of The Cure and Sisters Of Mercy among others now being copped as influences/inspiration for many of the latest wave of fuzzed up and freaked out Psych Rock bands. The new album from Amsterdam two-piece Spirit Valley draws heavily on the early 80s UK post Punk Neo-Psychedelic scene, particularly the first two Echo and The Bunnymen records Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here (which, by the way,are essential purchases), along with more modern Psych Rock flourishes. At its darkest, Spirit Valley’s expansive, primal Psych Rock falls somewhere between the fuzzed out Rock’n’Roll of The Black Angels and the warped synths of Moon Duo, however Negatives is an album that constantly wrestles its way between light and dark and in Spirit Valley’s lighter, more cinematic moments we are overwhelmed by a beautifully crushing wall of noise that recalls the gravelly croons of the first wave of Post Punk bands with glacial New Wave, almost Gothic, synths and guitars plucked right out of the 80s. Like a bullet to the head, Spirit Valley's sonic assault of fuzz-heavy guitars and tribal percussion burns straight to the brain from from the second the needle hits the wax……………..the album opener ‘Don't Panic’ is an onslaught of ferocious drumming and twisted synths and guitars setting the tone for some of the most visceral Psychedelic Rock we have heard this year. Negatives is simply brilliant, melding influences decades apart into a powerful statement addressing where Psychedelic Rock has been heading for the last couple of years.
Best known as one-half of The KVB, Berlin-based musician Nicholas Wood spent the summer of 2016 working on a solo album under the moniker of Saccades and the fruits of this labour have now been released by Fuzz Club as his self titled debut record. As you would expect, it’s quite a departure from his work with The KVB and has already been described as "A bright, sun-drenched psych pop reverie that places Saccades leagues above the rafts of diluted Tame Impala rip-off’s that loosely throw around the term". Recorded and produced by Nick himself, the twelve tracks on Saccades see him take a much more melodic, guitar-based approach, ditching the dark, glacial synths of his work with The KVB and serving up a vivid, immersive combination of jangling reverb-drenched guitars, vintage 70s synths, minimalistic percussion and dreamy echoing vocals. Recorded using an old Tascam tape recorder, there’s a warm lo-fi feel to the record that manages to make the songs feel even more euphoric than they already are. Warm and pastoral, it’s not the sort of record that you would usually associate with Fuzz Club, a label better known for it’s ear shredding cutting edge Psych Rock than a gentle psychedelic meander through a host of 60s/70s influences…………..it’s a strange and beautiful album full of dreamy escapism that echoes 60s West Coast tripped out bliss infused with loved up Neo-Psychedelia. Recommended.
And finally…………………………….Fuzz Club Records’ live session series has already seen amazing releases from the likes of Night Beats, Heaters, The Entrance Band and 10,000 Russos and it’s still showing no sign of slowing down. The latest to join the club is Austin's finest Garage/Surf heavyweights, Holy Wave. While the band were in the UK touring their 2016 LP Freaks Of Nurture, Fuzz Club invited the band to an analogue recording studio in South London to lay down a live album. Holy Wave’s Fuzz Club Session contains one previously unreleased track ‘Buddhist Pete’ and five other cuts from Freaks Of Nurture. The Texas five-piece are clearly steeped in a 60s Nuggets-era nostalgia but manage to make it completely their own with daydreaming pop melodies and expansive songwriting their reverberating Garage Pop sounds better than ever with the warm analogue recording of the session creating a hazy echo chamber of sun soaked psychedelic ecstasy………………..recorded live, straight to 2” tape and committed to wax……….Dig It kidz.
All these records are out NOW and should be available from all the best record stores, the usual suspects on line and of course directly from Fuzz Club Records.