= March 2014 =  
New Bums
Orgone Box
Mayflower Madame
Skull Defekts
David C W Briggs
Paul Roland
Josephine Foster
Dodson and Fogg


(LP, CD and Download from Drag City www.dragcity.com)

Following Ben Chasny’s recent excursions into loud psychedelic rock with his glorious Ascent album of 2012 and more recently his re-connection with Comets on Fire, it’s a return to more sedate fare with this first New Bums album – an acoustic collaboration between Chasny and Donovan Quinn of Skygreen Leopards.

When Chasny spoke with Terrascope recently he alluded to this new project as “a rock and roll acoustic album like Johnny Thunders playing acoustic guitar or Nikki Sudden-style Jacobites or Big Star acoustic balladry kind of stuff.”

Appetite duly whetted, Terrascope wades in

Unsurprisingly given the provenance of New Bums the sound is a curious and occasionally delightful (if deliberately low-key) conjunction of Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance with Quinn’s folksy, psychedelic parent band. Essentially this is the lonesome sound of two guys and two guitars trading bedroom/campfire licks and where Six Organs/Skygreen song craft is stripped back to the wood to reveal a sparse yet intriguing quality and quirky humour. The latter is exemplified by cuts such as “Your Girlfriend Might Be A Cop” and “Mother’s Favourite Hated Song” both of which scream Skygreen, Chasny’s contributions are most notable on the melodic “The Killers and Me” which showcases Ben’s dextrous picking to fine effect and on the equally cool “Town on the Water”. Other personal favourites include the funereal “Welcome to the Navy” (another darkly witty observation) and the tuneful, eastern tinged “Burned”, but then nothing here stinks. In fact it’s fair to say that the Chasny/Quinn axis has served up something of a treat that shouldn’t disappoint fans of either man or indeed anyone partial to Wooden Wand, with whom this merits comparison and favourably so.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP from Sugarbush Records

Originally released in the nineties, virtually unnoticed at the time (apart from, of course, the Terrascope!), Sugarbush Records have done the decent thing and brought Orgone Box back to life with a limited vinyl release, allowing main songwriter Rick Corcoran time to re-master and add one new track to the disc.

    Opening with the glorious “Anaesthesia”, the first thing that strikes you is the excellent production which allows the songs to soar with a freshness and vitality that really shines out, the song itself a heady mix of Teenage Fanclub and Robyn Hitchcock. With a sweet coating of Psychedelia, “Mirrorball (When I Want To Feel)”, is another fine tune with just enough effects to give it a mysterious ambience without losing sight of its melodic heart, reminding me of The Lilac Time in its phrasing, whilst “Ticket With No Return” is a gentle song with a sixties heart, The Melody again shining out although the lyrics have a darker theme that the tune implies.

   Moving into Power Pop territory, “Hello Central” has a rockier feel, although this is tempered by the softer chorus section, whilst “Judy Over The rainbow” the final song on side one, is a magnificent gem of a tune, reminding me strongly of The Beatles,with a summer of love vibe with some shimmering guitar work and another great chorus that stays in your head long afterwards.

   Having dissected the first side, all I am going to say about side two is that the magic continues with another five Psych-Pop gems that sparkle with melody, the slightly introspective nature of the lyrics adding depth to the sweetness of the tunes.

   Whilst listening to this disc you are reminded of many other groups, the sound, style or hooks sounding familiar to your ear. However, whilst this may be the case, this collection sits proudly next to the best work by those bands, equal to them rather than mere copies. Something of a grower I feel and one that will get visited often in the future. (Simon Lewis)


(12” EP http://bit.ly/1fvts54)

Hailing from Oslo, Mayflower Madame are a young four-piece whose debut EP is a rich blend of early Cure jangle, The Church at their finest and the psychedelic shimmer of Spacemen 3 during their floatation tank moments. Add all these thing together and you get a collection of four songs that is varied, interesting and hits all the right buttons.

    Opening with “Hot Blood Shivering” the band offer a quick sparkle of eighties guitar before rocking it up with a moody riff that is part psych, part goth, the music slowly rising as it flows forward, the vocal delivery having a touch of Bauhaus about it, drums and bass providing a solid foundation for some delightful guitar flourishes.

   On the title track the band go for a slow-burning psych mood and succeed, the music writhing out of the speaker as a slow moving river with lysergic intent, the whole band working as one, fully in control of the songs dynamic flow.

   Over on side two, “Pitfalls” is bursting with energy and some great guitar riffs that don't quite go where you were expecting them to especially in the slower middle section, definitely one to turn up, the song reminding me of Badgeman which is no bad thing to these ears.

   All to quickly we reach the fourth and final song, “The Longing” another delightfully shimmering guitar riff, the band maintaining their sonic identity whilst having enough talent to keep thing interesting and fresh.

    Whilst four songs is never really enough to judge a band by, I am very keen to hear more from this quartet as I am loving this EP more every time I play it, full of potential, as they say. (Simon Lewis)



(CD/LP from Thrill Jockey)

This follow up to their 2011 landmark album Peer Amid and their third collaboration with ex-Lungfish luminary Daniel Higgs finds Sweden’s Skull Defekts mining similar QOTSA on Elm Street territory to its predecessor, all strange tunings and dark places. Higgs’ half spoken and somewhat sinister vocals, tribal percussion and jarring guitar add up to an unsettling listening experience at times. Then again that’s all part of the attraction, dare I say the thrill?

“The Fable” is what I imagine dance music from the Underground Halls of the Goblins to sound like – blame that Lord of the Rings Trilogy - while “King of Misinformation” is all anguished squalls of guitar, urged forth by simple, magnetic bass lines and Cro-Magnon drumming over which Higgs intones “you hear it and you feel it and you need it”. Yep, got it.

“The Known Unknown” is the album’s centre piece. Building from Infectious riffing into a glorious racket, co-vocalist Joachim Nordwall’s rhythmic repetition of the song title whips the song to a hypnotically frenzied intensity. “Venom” is a hard rock gem with nifty little guitar runs heading consecutively in both directions. Again it’s the drumming that drives that expressway through your skull. My other album highlight is “Cyborganization” with its indelibly repetitive industrial rhythms, single guitar chords and Higgs’ mantra-style chanting.

Dances In Dreams of the Unknown may affirm Skull Defekts’ move towards a more conventionally structured and accessible sound than their erstwhile experimental/noise but is still a challengingly adventurous and atmospheric experience. To my mind it’s even better than Peer Amid which is praise indeed. Their label blurb promises live dates to promote the album and I’d advise you, reader, to do whatever is necessary or at least within your conscience to grab yourself a ticket. Powerful stuff.

(Ian Fraser)



( CD/DLfrom http://bit.ly/1n36aKm )
(Limited Edition CD available from http://bit.ly/1fCKEFH )

So, there I was idly flicking through the vinyl wondering if I should re-arrange them in a more interesting way when I came across a CD-R which had slipped between two discs, something that happens when you use your albums as shelving on occasion. Anyway, as I have had the disc since October I feel a review is overdue especially as this is a rather excellent collection of tunes that deserve some attention.

    Opening with “If I Could Be”, the first thing you notice is David's Voice a mix of Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers, something that suits perfectly the slightly whimsical, folk, psych songs that fill the album, waves of electric guitar adding bite to the opening salvo, the slightly surreal and definitely English lyrics stepping into Incredible String Band territory, all of which makes for a great start.

   Even better is “Gentle Ghost”, the tune's pulsing rhythm getting the head nodding sounding like a classic from “Joy of a Toy” or similar, electric guitar again ading some menace to the proceedings. Beginning with rippling notes, “Popol Vuh” remains that way, a minute of echoed loveliness that leads you into the excellent “Birdspotting” a song that is definitely influenced by the Madcap himself, the lyrics painting pictures that dance over the strummed acoustic riff. Sweet and gentle “Lift a Heavy Paw” rolls in like sunshine across rolling hills, although it gets stranger, lyrics such as “What did you expect to see in the witching hour ? Witches I expect” catching the listener by surprise, another example of how this album never seems to behave as you expect it to, the music containing a mysterious quality that allows it to slip through your fingers like smoke.

     Beautiful in its simplicity “One More Day” seems to float in the air around you yet hold your attention fully, whilst the title track itself is another haunting cloud of psychedelic folk that draws you in with ease. Finally, “The Doppelganger” has some joyful guitar lines running through it, the song having the feeling that it is about to explode into a full blown rocker, although sadly, it never does. The only song where I even noticed that the collection has very little percussion on it. Anyway, that is a small gripe and I can only Apologise to David for the length of time it took to get the review out and encourage everyone to investigate the fine music contained within. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/CD from bluNoise Records )

Prepare yourselves. What you are about to experience is frenetic, loud and ferocious in the extreme. It’s high-octane yet not unskilled heavy metal as if performed by a bunch of hyperactive kids (although in this case three somewhat older Germans who make Rammstein sound like One Direction) stoked up on cheap cola or something much, much nastier.

The pugnacious industrial thrash metal of second track “Wolf in Bathtub” - complete with anguished vocals - is a case in point. It’s thrilling, visceral stuff and quite disturbing. It’s also unforgiving which allows barely a second to draw breath. Some feedback forms the shortest of bridges before we are catapulted straight into the onslaught of “Ando Guerilla” and more of the same howling noise shot through with math rock, punk/grindcore sensibility and some surprisingly deft (that’s deft, not deaf) musicianship as exemplified by some adroit time signature changes – look it’s all relative, so while it ain’t Yes it ain’t Motorhead (bless ‘em) either. And so it goes.

Propelled by hi-propane panel beat percussion – drummer Jorg A Schneider could do worse than release an exercise workout video of his battery- keeps up the exhausting pace on “Easy Metal” (easy for who, I wonder?). In among the melee there are glimpses of psychedelic harmony and progressive deftness, particularly on the track that my spellchecker blew up on when I tried typing it. Even here, Schneider’s brutal, “devil may eff-off” drumming and band mates Soheyl Nassary and Guido Lucas’s shredding is pretty unrelenting. There is slight respite at the end courtesy of the title track, but even then it’s an uneasy truce that brings matters to a head.

Ferocious, exhilarating and the equivalent to what I would imagine an aural enema to be like should it even be possible to comprehend such a thing, so strap yourselves in for one hell of a ride. Me? I’m off for a lie down. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from http://www.sireena.de/cat-r.html#SIR2111)

Originally released in 1980 and something of a cult hit amongst Goths, this album had since seen only a couple of limited releases until this edition which features some  re-touches from Paul as well as some unreleased material from the same period. Recorded when Paul was just 19 and under the name Midnight Rags, the album is a strong debut that is definitely out of style with the then current punk/post punk/two tone fashions.

    Opening with some dark and moody Gothic chords, “Blades of Battenberg” has a proggy/psych feel and some nicely chugging guitar that drives the song along, the addition of melodic keyboard interludes adding texture and variation. Like a slightly more Gothic Soft Boys, “Brain Police” deals with the secret war between KGB and CIA, with more swirling keyboards throughout, whilst “The Ghoul” is a more chilling tale with a 4/4 beat that propels the song forward, the guitar and keys adding atmosphere over the top, the tune a template for the direction that Paul would follow throughout his career, with plenty of variation may I add. With a jaunty guitar riff and general feel “Flying Ace” has plenty of dark humour in its lyric, something else that is often apparent in Paul's work, the same being true of “The Puppet Master” One of my favourite songs by the artist, the themes of horror and suspense never far from his trusty pen.

    I have long been a fan of Mr Roland finding his work original, interesting and highly entertaining, this album however has swiftly become one of my favourites, there is a great sense of balance in the songs and a freshness that really appeals with song like “The Cars That Ate New York”, with its repetitive riff and excellent use of synths and the much heavier title track, complete with fine sax solo, hitting the spot every time, the tongue in cheek lyrics are always a pleasure as well.

     Elsewhere Robyn Hitchcock adds backwards guitar to the short and bitter-sweet “Mad Elaine” as well as a poem and some backing vocals, whilst “Sword and Sorcery” is a splendid mix of feedback, sound effects and a full-on psych rock riff that oozes energy from every pore.

  Of the four bonus tracks added “The Old dark House” is probably the pick of the bunch being a moody mid-paced psych tune with a poem from Robyn Hitchcock, whilst “Jack Daniels” is a pub-rock bluesy rocker with a warm heart and is a great way to end a collection that will grow to become an old friend for those fireside evening. (Simon Lewis)



(CD/LP http://www.firerecords.com/site/index.php)

Having missed her performance at Woolf Music due to the lack of space in the hall, even the space outside by the open window was crowded, I am happy to be able to listen to Josephine Foster on this excellent collection of songs that fuses Folk, Americana, Music hall and country into an enticing blend all topped off with a magnificent voice that is both rich and distinctive.

    Seemingly borrowing the melody from “See Saw Majory Daw” an old nursery rhyme, “Sugarpie, I'm Not The same” has a lilting piano and simple bass lines underneath, a gently swaying tune that leads the listener in, the harmonica break in the middle perfectly suiting the mood of the song. Slow and beautiful, “No One's Calling Your Name” is a gorgeous ballad that is decorated with understated steel guitar that adds emotion complementing the lyrics with subtle precision. After such loveliness the edgy country feel of “My Wandering Heart” is just right, the song oozing a sadness that is hard to shake off, the musicians never wasting a moment as the song ebbs and flows, making it one of the standout tracks on the album. Heading back to quieter pastures the title track is another gorgeous ballad with lonesome harmonica and a sleepy pulse, whilst “Amuse A Muse” has an old-time music hall feel, the song laced with droning cello notes that add another layer of sound to the song.

    Using a poem by Rudyard Kipling as its lyrics “Blue Rose” sounds like the kind of song your granny might have listened back in the day. With the quality of Josephine's voice carrying it off perfectly, the piano of Micah Hulscher again complementing the voice and song superbly, something it does throughout the collection.

   With a strange almost psychedelic ambience “This Is Where the Dreams Head, Maude” is one of those song that you mind find on a sixties psych album, a slice of Americana that is beautifully played and surreal in its construction, another highlight on the album the musicians seemingly having lots of fun. To End “Cabin In The Sky” is the only song not penned by Josephine Foster, being from the 1940 musical of the same name, the country style in keeping with the rest of the album, an album that drifts along allowing the listener to float with it, a peaceful and pastoral voyage that is most enjoyable. (Simon Lewis)



( CD from http://bit.ly/1npiiJf  )

Yet another in the ongoing series “albums I should have reviewed ages ago”, this is the third album from Psychedelic, Prog, folk act Dodson and Fogg, Basically the work of one Chris Wade, a prolific chap as there is now a fourth album as well.

   Opening with part one of the title track, the music is a jaunty instrumental with a folk/reggae feel and some uplifting prog tinged guitar riding over the top the track leading nicely into “Hear It In The Morning Still” a sweet slice of pastoral folk/psych with some fine organ work adding delightful ornamentation to the music, as does the trumpet of Colin Jones, the only time a musician other than Chris Wade appears on the collection.

 Next up a trio of short tracks that really pull the album into focus, each containing memorable vocal lines, sweet harmony and great arrangements, with “It's All Right” kicking them off in gentle style with beautiful guitar lines, whilst “Lost In Words” has an infectious rhythmic pulse running through sounding like a lost classic from 1972, the trio rounded off by the excellent “Lying In The Sun”, a song that makes you think of lazy sunny days the percussion allowing your head to nod along gently smiling to yourself. Each of these three tracks also highlight the dexterous guitar playing by Chris, another reason to investigate this disc.

    Reminding me of Lindisfarne at their finest, “Life is All Around Me” is another life affirming song with a rural hippy vibe (works for me), the mood slightly broken by the sadder emotions of “Lonely Bird”, another tune with a defintely early seventies feel. After the sadness, “Night Train” introduces a drumkit and moody electric guitar, giving the song an electric groove adding more texture and variation to the collection with piano and guitar dancing together throughout the song.

  With notes that rest like dappled sunlight in the room “Free in the Night” is simply gorgeous, a delicious slice of music that picks up pace halfway through flute and guitar joining together for one of those relax your mind and float downstream moments, spellbinding.

  As with all good things, this album seems to end to quickly, part two of the title track suddenly arriving and proving to be different from part one with an Eastern feel and flute lines a-plenty. All that is left to say is that this is something of a grower and fans of acid folk, that point when psychedlia began to stretch out into more complicated forms ,think East of Eden with an acoustic bent, or the west-coast sound should seek this out for a listen, good stuff indeed. (Simon Lewis)