Saturday, 30 December 2017

Album Review: Shame by Tough Age (2017) (Mint Records)

The only constant since the 2015 sophomore album, I Get The Feeling Central, is the relationship between band/label (Mint Records, responsible for notable releases from acclaimed artists such as New Pornographers and Neko Case) that has produced a third full length release.

Beyond that, consistent change has been the only constant. Relocation of two key personnel
(Jarrett/Clark) meant the loss of two members and the introduction of ex-Ketamines and Century Palm drummer Jesse Locke, taking the band from a four to three piece format.

To my mind this has been immensely beneficial as there appears to have been something of a musical attitude shift as well, or at the very least a realization that sometimes the dreaded change many of us circumvent innovation because of, is actually a massive, if sometimes painfully unavoidable, chance to reinvigorate. 

Friday, 29 December 2017

Album Review: International Breeze by Postal Blue (2004) (Shelflife Records)

Twee pop fans love this album. Adorned in polka-dot cardigans, anxiously slicking strands of hair  behind their ears, they contemplate the beautiful melancholy whilst mentally apologizing for having the temerity to tag it as twee in various on-line review sites.

This need for 'twee ownership' has probably seen numerous tracks being recorded to cassette mix tapes (a tweester format of choice) before being posted to the love interest who lives in the next street, who will call the sender 'cute' assigning them strictly to the 'friend zone', as they wonder what this 'cassette thing' is?!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Shimmering obscurity - 15 'single single' 1980's jangle-pop bands.

I love youtube. Not only is there bag loads of music on there, but the contributors seem to see it as their personal mission to prove that the bands they know are the most obscure that the world has never seen.

 It is akin to an apposite my 'dads bigger than your argument', in which the winner proves just how unknown and pointless 'their bands' are in order that they garner the most 'obscurity credence' among their peers.

Not to be outdone, the following 15 bands are the most obscure I can find from the confines of the 1980's jangle-pop genre. All of these bands released just one single and nothing else. If they mustered an EP together, or some obscure label from the depths of the East Gregarian smigwiggly islands re-issued lost cassette demo tapes, they are excluded for being too prominent/famous. We don't want such braggarts in these parts!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Album Review - Demo Tapes by Lunar Eskimo (2014) (Human Sounds Records)

I  imagine Lunar Eskimo to be some sort of a Machiavellian character. A sort of devious, grumpy, bear of a man that sits in his bedroom planning evil acts and musical genius in equal measures.

Of course, I know nothing about him other than his Bandcamp profile says he is Irish and that by his own admission he could not be bothered to eventually add vocals to these tracks. As such and without any other published contradictory guidance, my tangential mind does it's bidding and creates an  evil genius type character to fill in the gaps.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Album Review - Horsebeach by Horsebeach (2014) (Label: Alone Together)

Self released on front man Ryan Kennedy's Alone Together label (used as a vehicles solely for Horsebeach releases only so far) this album/band has a strange but incredibly endearing aesthetic.

Initially it is plain to see and subsequently confirmed in various interviews, that they are plainly influenced by the dynamics of US jangle-pop / indie rock bands such as Real Estate and The Mantles as beautiful sunshine picked twanging guitars chime in an out of consciousness.

However, Kennedy has also managed, via the simple use of a dilatory tempo, doom laden lyrics of lost love and lack of belonging, liberal splashes of muted shoegaze reverb and general lo-fi atmospherics to engender an early 2010's Manchester strategy to the overall sound.

Album Review: The Stars Seemed Brighter by Pale Lights (2017) (Label: Kleine Unterground Schallplatten)

I am one of these sad sacks that places great emphasis on playlists. It is my way of expressing my inner nerd that my wife states has always been prevalent, despite my attempts to hide it.

As such I have playlists arranged into all sorts of jangle-pop types, post-punk, C86, all the decades from the 60's onwards, promising bands, Medway scene, indie-pop with jangle leanings, Australian etc etc that I write the list, I realize what a complete and utter obsessive I am about my silly playlists.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Album Review: So Far by the The Orange Peels (2000) (spinART Records)

Remember 'that kid' at school who was perfect. Not for them the covering of school books with old discarded wallpaper as daddy's PA would laminate them, thus helping to ensure that consistent academic success was achieved without the need for genuine contemplation.

Not for 'that kid' coming off a muddy soccer field on a winters morning, legs purple with cold, snot pouring mouth bound, caked in three quarters of the field, with a sending off, an own goal and parental disappointment as the main reminders of the match. Oh no, 'that kid' usually came off the pitch shoulder high as supporters and team-mates celebrated his hat-trick that ensured a win that masked your ignominy.

As for mud? Simply not 'that kids' problem. His return to the dressing room rarely warranted a shower, although he had one, complete with raspberry shower gel, because he was so damned perfect!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Album Review: Holding Pattern by The Treasures of Mexico (2015) (Shelflife Records)

The Treasures of Mexico are the latest band arising from the embers of The Dentists that have been glowing in various guises  since their late 90's demise(Coax, Words Beginning with X, The Claim, Fortress Madonna etc). In this incarnation founder members, Mark Matthews and Bob Collins, re-acquaint artistically to bring some of the most concentrated modern jangle-pop for many years.

However fans of The Dentists may well be disappointed if they are hoping that the sound produced by previous personnel has remained constant, as this album is altogether different, as you would expect after a 20 year hiatus.

Album Review: Virgins and Philistines by The Colourfield (1985) (Label: Chrysalis Records)

Terry Hall was a cultural icon in the late 70's to early 80's. As the front man of The Specials, he helped popularize the 2Tone movement  and replace the ridiculous long hair/flares of 70's fashion with a crisper look revolving around the clean lines of brands such as Fred Perry and Sta-pressed trousers.

Thereafter his sartorial elegance changed with his next band The Fun Boy Three. This 'new fashion start' would have been fine if it was not that his chosen style centred around an oversize jersey that a drunken grandma had obviously knitted, french style baggy pantaloons and Kung Fu Slippers, all of which he wore without any hint of irony as he informed the viewing public, that the lunatics had taken over the asylum in the only real hit single the band released.

Friday, 22 December 2017

EP Review: Dexter by Elna Rae (2017) (Label: Like Young Records)

Elna Rae's various social media sites inform me that this EP is their debut release, work commenced on a debut full length this month and that they start their first tour in March 2018. Apart from that I can find little about the band / release other than their tongue in cheek proclamation on their Bandcamp profile describing themselves as 4 chefs trying not to burn the reverb.

For those of you that have followed this blog since those long distance days of inception over three weeks ago, you will already know that I have a tendency to get all incandescent with rage about good jangle-pop being needlessly infused with all things echo, fuzz, reverb, fuss and shoegaze. Generally it tends to spoil what could have been beautiful.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

EP Review: The Junipers - The Junipers Ephonious Trolley EP 1 (2013) (Self-released)

On their previous full length releases, Paint The Ground (2012) and Red Bouquet Fair (2016) The Junipers have shown themselves to be the fine exponents of a heavy psychedelic, Byrdsian vibe        that has become their signature sound. 

As such I was very surprised when I eventually purchased a copy of the 2016's 12 String High various artist compilation (released by the Spanish, You Are The Cosmos label) which included a Junipers track (And in my Dreams - see above) that undressed the usual psychedelic influences and just left the most naked pure jangle-pop sound. It was enchanting, but very unlike The Junipers usual style.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Album Review: Wish List by Falling Joys (1990) (Label: Volition Records)

I was recently excited to see various blogs waxing lyrical over the announcement of a Falling Joy reunion that ultimately saw them supporting fellow 'Triple J' scenesters, The Clouds on their own reunion tour.

In my early 90's university days, these were 'the' band whose cassette you would casually leave on your desk in order that fellow indie scenesters would see that you were championing the cause of the Australian / New Zealand jangle inflected bands that were just 'so very cool' at the time.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Album Review - Beautiful Reasons by The Cry (1990) (Label: Balance of Power Music)

Ask yourself this...were you the sort in the very early 90's that had permanently scabbed knees, a dislocated ankle, wore shorts designed for a fat lad, had a vocabulary consisting solely of 'dude', 'radical' or 'stoked' and used to hurling yourself onto dangerous things such as building sites and stair handrails on nothing more than an elongated roller skate?

If not then you were most probably not a skateboarder and will have no idea about this band or album. If you answered yes to the above then you may well worshiped this album as it was probably the soundtrack to the various skateboarding injuries your parents hoped their medical insurance would cover.

Album Review - Edge of a Dream by The Jangle Band (2015) (Labels: Pretty Olivia Records / Off The Hip / Egomaniac Music)

Things I love get bastardized. Poetic social commentary is forgone for rappers informing how to kill in rhyming couplets. Tranquil, skillful 5 days cricket now gets more attention when played by huge thugs clubbing the ball with a plank for two hours a night and getting huge sums of money for regularly scoring 19 runs off 7 balls.

The concept of books/novels is being challenged by two line internet micro-stories that clever sorts then attribute 97 pages of meaning too and German '63% Glonckenspeil Reisling' makes the fine wine top 20 as published by Supermarkets R Us...blimey even the 'bun' is now seen as a viable addition to the list of possible hairstyles for a man.

Jangle-pop has certainly not escaped such bastardization. In the last five years the guitar melody has drifted increasingly towards all things shoegaze and as such seems to get forced through the echo, reverb and fuzz productions tubes so that it fits more precisely with the vocals that have already been tortured in the same manner.

EP Review - 'Kind of' by Starry Eyed Cadet (2017) (Label: Self Released)

San Francisco band Starry Eyed Cadet frustrate me. Do not misunderstand me, this is certainly not a criticism of the band (I have just paid for their entire discography) but I find their previous releases (2016 album Places We Do Not Belong and the 2015 self-titled EP) fritter between the most beautiful indie/jangle pop possible and then the whole 'lets sing through a sock/echo machine/time machine/fuzz maker'  route to be all 90's shoegaze. This I can stomach in very short doses.

The band has about 15 song-writers and an equal amount of vocalists (a slight exaggeration, but you forgive my poetic licence) which is probably the reason why they never really place their hat on one peg. Frequent mid album genre changes maybe seen as originality by some but in reality it is a 'massive shame' as they really can do the beautiful jangle-pop well, led superbly by Ron Songco's guitars/lyricism and the crystal clear female vocals that have an alluring smooth falsetto quality to them.

Monday, 18 December 2017

An Interview with Garrett Buster

JPH sometimes gets all 'fanboy'. After discovering and reviewing Garrett Buster and his debut album Casual Storm earlier this month and getting a ridiculous amount of 'follower responses' loving his 'untitled Anthem' track (see original review HERE), we hunted him down via social media and begged him for an interview.

Fortunately he ended up being the nicest fella in the world and was happy to talk to JPH about the embarrassing drama of his long forgotten teenage tweets, his admiration for artists with quirky vocals and the CBGB scene, the difficulties for unsigned artists, the making of his album and his appreciation of Rap music.

Over to you Garrett...

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Album Review: Before There Were Pictures by Pale Lights (2014) (Label: Calico Cat)

Although I fight the accolade, I am nothing if not obtuse. Not for me the easy route of trying to expand my readership (I am just too obtuse to care) by reviewing the latest Pale Lights release from a few days back...oh no not me. I decide that now is the time to review the last album from 3 years back !!!

I am also obtuse inasmuch that despite a tendency to ignore the irony of constantly using lazy phrasing such as angular, chiming, jangly before the word 'guitars' when I cannot think of a more appropriate explanation, I still have no compunction in hating the very ground someone walks upon if they commit the 'crime' of explaining a band/album as 'criminally under-rated'.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

EP Review: The Babe Rainbow (EP) by The Babe Rainbow (2015) (Label: Flightless Records)

The Babe Rainbow are a three piece on the same Australian, psych loving label (Flightless Records) that popularized King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to whom they are often lazily compared. In my opinion, The Babe Rainbow's version of psyche is far more melodic, spaced out, quirky and ultimately more appealing than the somewhat cleaner KGATLW sound.

In fact they could be considered the professional 'weird psyche band'. Assigning weird band member names (Blue Spirit, Kool Breeze and Arrow), ensuring promotional videos contain at least one dancing Jesus and slathering slick layers of wah wah to twanging guitars to create a romantic, summer vibe that is completely alien to the strange Monty Python-esque lyrics (see Secret Enchanted Brocolli Forest below). It all adds up to a mess, but a fantastic, interesting mess that is kept together by some beautiful lead guitar work..

Album Review: The Days of Wine and Roses by The Dream Syndicate (1982) (Label: Slash Records)

Halloween (see below) adequately describes the sound of the Los Angeles Paisley Underground scene that was prevalent in the mid-80's. A group of bands intent on playing a subset of jangle-pop that added a modern nuance while still ensuring that a melodic homage was paid to 60's west coast psyche-folk / rock. To my mind it also had a similar aesthetic to the Dunedin sound that was making a similar impression from New Zealand.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Album Review: All Gone by Pop Singles (2012) (Label: Vacant Valley)

I love free stuff. The little cookie at my local coffee shop, the newspaper on a flight, anything with the word 'complimentary' attached to it or the mere mention of 'gratis' by an ingratiating salesman  will generally have me appreciating and engaging with a 'free item' more specifically than usual.

This album, out of Australian label Vacant Valley, is now free and appears to be the only album from Aussie vocalist Tam Matlakowski's pre-Tam Vantage solo work and initially I was extremely please at my find.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Album Review: Some People are on the Pitch they think its all over by the Dentists (1985) (Label: Spruck Records)

Despite copious amount of nicotine, alcohol and fried food I have somehow managed to defy the fertility gods and sire three beautiful children. I now have responsibilities like a mortgage and trying to teach my kids how to avoid becoming social reprobates.

I have also managed to pick up lots of strange habits like insisting my tea tastes better from a particular mug, never being able to sleep unless I have 'my pillow', being confused to the point of distraction over my eldest child's fashion sense, insisting on buying physical format music and moaning about all manner of trivialities and minutiae in life.

I like to explain it all by saying I have matured intellectually enough to know what is right and wrong and to know what I like. This, of course, is merely a euphemism for the reality of the situation...i.e. I am rapidly getting old.

Album Review: It Happened by Paul Martin (1996) (Label: Distortions Records / Guersson Records)

At the time of release my jangle inclinations had veered from the 80's British Post-Punk , through whatever guitar sounds Sarah Records decided were cool in the very early 90's and were now stubbornly avoiding Britpop by concentrating on the mid-90's Thousand Yard Stare, Kingmaker and The Frank and Walters incarnation of jangle-pop..

However, just as the above three bands were falling out of fashion, along came this album. It was released in vinyl format only by committed psyche-rock specialists Distortions Records and were re-mastered versions of just two singles and a dozen demos.

Album Review: Rips One Into the Night by Petite League (2017) (Label: The Native Sound)

Perhaps it is just my subconscious reaction to my rapidly approaching summer holiday, but I am being increasingly drawn to various fuzzed out summer vibes with bands such as Summerays, Wavves and all manner of slacker-pop (Blake Babies especially) forcing their way into the car speakers in the final few days of my hour long daily commute.

Petite League are a four piece from Syracuse NY, born out of a college friendship between Lorenzo Gillis Cook (vocals/guitar) and Henry Schoonmaker (drums) who play the sort of scuzzed up, fuzzed filled, lo-fi, guitar-pop that fits perfectly into my recent lust for sunshine. Probably the nearest reference point is the Cloud Nothings early work.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Album Review - Feral Pop Frenzy by Even as we Speak (1993) (Label: Sarah Records)

Do you remember those old personal CD players from mid-90's? You know the monstrosities that seemed to make it their personal mission to chow more batteries per hour than an iPhone with 42 apps constantly open does (Ooooh hark at me getting down with the techno-kids and talking 'apps' and stuff...I will work out how to use whatisup next instead of text).

These infernal gadgets also presented the added conundrum of being the size of a CD + a 'very lot' and were therefore completely unable to fit into the pocket of any natural sized person. They also used to delight the listener to added pops and whistles to enhance the musical experience or jump, screech and whistle if ever your movement threatened to go above 'Volvo driving pensioner' speed.

It was on this special device that I spent a few days listening to my new Even as We Speak CD as I journeyed with lots of grumpy, hackneyed, grey, London types on my daily commute. It was very clear from the outset that this was not going to be an ordinary listen when just the second track  interrupted the beautiful voice of Mary Wyver with an angry Japanese chap grumbling about his alcoholism. Strange...

A Tribute to Pat DiNizio (1955-2017)

I was extremely saddened this morning to hear of the passing of Pat DiNizio, the front man and creative impetus behind The Smithereens, a band who have been at the forefront of many things guitar/jangle-pop for over 30 years.

When you have been accompanied by someone's music for such a large part of your life it can be easy to fall into the trap of writing gushing personalized tributes stating what a wonderful person he was. I never him personally so I will respectfully leave such deeper tributes to his family and friends whose lives he may have touched on a personal level. 

What I do know from seeing him in live gigs is that there appeared to be a genuine personal chemistry between him and the rest of the band and indeed with the fans of the band (as some of the following video will testify). I also know that I have nothing but gratitude towards him for the music he enhanced my life with. 

So my simple tribute as a way of thanks is just to post versions of my favourite top 10 tracks (no particular order) from both his solo work and from The Smithereens for everyone to enjoy.

RIP Pat DiNizio and thank-you.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Album Review: Won't Be There by Luke Reed (2017) (Label: The Native Sound)

Luke Reed is well known on the Boston, MA indie-pop scene featuring  in two of the regions more acclaimed indie-pop bands, Bent Shapes and Mini Dresses.

He has also had muted critical acclaim from the recent Singles EP that he released with Tea Leigh (on The Native Sound) and for the bedroom-pop releases that he has regularly posted on Soundcloud since mid 2015.

The Native Sound label have recognized this critical acclaim and released an expanded  reissue (initially issued in early 2016) and I am sure it has exceeded all expectations in terms of the plaudits it has collected. 

Album Review: Summerdaze by Summerays (2013) (Label: Self Released)

I went to a rough school. My class was full of council estate kids and although the majority of us were harmless, we were very lackadaisical about the whole concept of education, preferring school for the social opportunities it opened up to us to smoke, drink, fight and attempt congress with the opposite sex.

Two best mates were notable exceptions to this norm, Duncan and Franny. These characters were different inasmuch that they were middle class kids from the 'right side of the river', whose parents paid for their own house and always looked as if they were going to play golf, such was the neatness of their appearance and lacquered hairstyles. They also took to the whole concept of education with  relish and were considered incredibly bright by teachers who used to smile at them a lot.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

EP Review - Trapper Keeper (EP) by The Legal Matters (2017) (Future Man Records)

For those who are uninitiated to the sweet janglepop brilliance of this band, The Legal Matters are something of a powerpop / janglepop 'super-group' formed from members of the following bands:

Keith Klingensmith - Hippodrome / Phenomenal Cats

Chris Richards - a band mate of Klingensmith's in the aforementioned bands and latterly involved in a highly recommended solo project Chris Richards & The Subtractions.

Andy Reed - An American Underdog 

Their previous two releases, 2014's self titled album on Klingensmiths own Futureman Records and more specifically the brilliant 2016 Omnivore Recordings released Conrad, received widespread critical acclaim for their melodic harmonies and stripped back powerpop / janglepop sound and aroused immediate references to bands such as The Raspberries and Big Star.

Friday, 8 December 2017

An Interview With A Lobster: Andrew Burnett (Part II)

Part II of the 1998 interview with the Andrew Burnett the Close Lobsters front man is below (Click here for Part I) and sees the Lobster talking disdain for the Queen Mum, Common Agricultural Policy, not being beaten up by Stephen Pastel, reasons why you should not throw your grandma off a bus and why music journos are just 'petit bourgeois bastards'...enjoy.

The full interview clinging for life at this old Geocities fan site (Click here)

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Album Review - Lizardland by The Brotherhood of Lizards (1995) (Label: Deltic Records)

Mike Newell, lead singer and one half of the classic jangle-pop band The Brotherhood of Lizards has never appeared to be too comfortable with fame, despite the fact that in places like Germany, France, Japan and to a certain extent in the US, he is idolized for his 80's output with the jangle-pop/post-punk band The Cleaners from Venus.

He appeared more comfortable with the muted accolades received from the British music public around the releases of his 'Cleaners' output, not because he did not want his music to be successful but because he was more concerned about sticking rigidly to his own concept of musical integrity, thus causing a somewhat confrontational attitude that rejected touring or any sort of promotion beyond his pioneering of the era's cassette culture.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

1998 Interview with Andrew Burnett (Close Lobsters)

The following interview was done in 1998 with Andrew Burnett the lead singer of the superb late 80's jangle pop / post punk outfit Close Lobster. It was posted on an fan site for the band which has now been moved to the oocities archives.

There is lots of great information on the site (link below), however many of the links are now broken so I am posting the two interviews with Andy Burnett (see part II in a separate post at a later date) with  as I am bit concerned the interviews may be lost. The interview has been copy and pasted from the original site and only the formatting changed.

Album Review: Garrett Buster - Casual Storm (2017) (Label: Self Releazed)

What I know about Garrett Buster is exactly very little?

I know he comes from Columbia, Missouri in the US. I know he looks a bit like a lad called Gavin that I used to play football with back in the UK and that he either shares a peculiar name with a regionally famous 19th century slave from North Carolina, or that he has decided to use the aforesaid fella's name as his stage name.

Beyond that I cannot seem to get any information about this artist from the internet other than his Bandcamp page states that he previously released an EP called Modern Resolve in September 2015 and he released this debut album on 07 June 2017.

Monday, 4 December 2017

EP Review: Babygirl - As You wish (2016) (Label: Self Released)

Canadian artists Babygirl are an unsigned indiepop act consisting of Kirsten Clark (vocals) and Cameron Breithaupt (Lead guitar) who appear to be on something of a mission to express their early 20-something suburban dissatisfaction via as many jangle/guitar/indie pop influences as possible.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Sounds Familiar - Decent The Smiths Copyists

As much I love this Smiths, I never felt inclined to try and 'be' them.

Much of this could be down the fact that I have exactly zero talent from a musical perspective (although I can sing The Flying Pickets version of Yazoo's 'Only You'...which the wife says sounds quite nice if I am 'in a room that echoes') and also due to the fact that there is absolutely nothing about me that is cool enough to pull off running around with daffodils hanging out of my back pocket or morally astute to stop eating the flesh of my fellow mammals, so for me, I just continue my 30 year unrequited love affair with them.

However for some that is not enough and the obsession runs deeper as they try to develop The Smiths sound within their art and as such garner much consternation.

EP Review...Red Blinders by Hater (2017) (Label: PNKSLM Recordings)

Hater are a Malmo (Sweden) based 4 piece consisting of Caroline Landahl, Mans Leonartsson, Adam Agace and Lukas Thomasson who formed in early 2016 and were quickly signed to Stockholm label PKSLN Recordings (to join well known jangle pop influenced label mates Magic Potion) after they gathered a large following as a live act.

After releasing 2016's Radius (EP) they were invited to tour as support acts for fellow Swedish band (The Radio Dept) and  July 2017's debut album You Tried was released to much critical                                                                                    acclaim.