= October 2018 =  
 Dead Rider Trio
 The Cyrillic Typewriter
 The Purrs
 Paul Roland
 Joel Cahen
 The Total Rejection
 Michael Nesmith
 Black Tempest
 Jim Mitchells
 Goatman Recordings
 Randy Burns
 Thalia Zedek Band


(LP/CD/DL from Drag City Records)

Welcome to this month’s oddest coupling, a real wild card which on paper should probably never have been brought into play but I for one am sooo glad it has.

Dead Rider Trio (formerly D Rider) are an experimental rock outfit from Chicago, of whom guitarist Todd Rittmann appears to be the constant member. “Mr” Paul Williams is an idiosyncratic and intriguing figure from this side of the pond who regales, sometimes poetically in the manner of a thespian coupling of a bilious Malcolm McLaren and corrosive Viv Stanshall. He’s something of a mystery, too, with biographical details thin on the ground. He’s the real deal though, this is hardly thrown together and makes you wonder if he is what – indeed who - he seems.

Anyway our man gives vent to stream of consciousness, theatrically grunting, yelping, cajoling and baiting while Dead Rider Trio jam in a muscular but controlled manner, incorporating nimble and discordant elements of Beefheart. University of Errors and Shellac. The Magic Band analogy is perhaps strongest on opening gambit ‘Candles On Crabs’ (getting the picture?) where a dislocated and jack-knife delivery tries to make sense of the asthmatic invective – or is it the other way around? The cavernous, bass-heavy ‘Not A Point On A Scale’ is the sound of early PiL with a somewhat more erudite and engaging frontman than old man Steptoe with his balls in a clamp. Deconstructed lysergic jazz soundtracks ‘Glistening Sap On Leaves’ while our narrator is heard to intone ‘bring on the folk singers, make sure they’re fucking beardless’ during the claustrophobically intense ‘On The Listener, Mr Williams He Farts’. Charming, we’re sure you’ll agree. The attractive funk-light ‘An Inching Thief’ finds Williams veering between yelping, falsetto style crooning and conspiratorial rumbling before the insinuating and sinister ‘For Men Who Stay In Their Rooms’ returns us to the fractured rhythms of the Magic Band for the echoing and worryingly exhilarating closing number in which you the listener are in for a pummelling. Nasty and nauseous in a quite outstanding way.

Even imaginative and entertaining spoken wordplay has a tendency to become a little wearing once the initial novelty has paled. This is the exception, please mark my words, a singular and multi-faceted listening experience that’s often accentuated by means of the old trick of stopping the music dead…leaving the last line of monologue to hang in the air for maximum effect (such as the only track we haven’t made mention of yet, the penultimate ‘For All The Daughters Of Rope Makers’). It all makes for unusual, unconventional and at times uneasy listening, each party complementing the other perfectly, whether it is sound tracking the creative and clourful narrative or giving a weaponised lyrical expression to the ever evolving backing track. As it is you’d do well to dust off those “Best Of Year” lists and add this right now (and pretty near the top if I may suggest).

(Ian Fraser) 





(LP/CD/DL on Sub Pop Records)


Luluc, the Australian folk duo Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett, now stationed in Brooklyn, exist to put you into a better place.  That’s not to say their third album Sculptor is made up of easy listening music and exudes nothing but sunshine.  Their songs can contain biting commentary and wit.  And while the term “folk duo” conjures up images of an acoustic guitar and a microphone, Randell and Hassett go much further, filling out the instrumentation with tasteful sonic touches and a little help from some well-known friends.  Luluc has a great ear for melody.  Randell’s voice has a soothing quality and she combines her subjects between literate descriptions from everyday life and the long game of what makes us human, and how we go about choosing our paths.


Lead-off track “Spring” is flat-out gorgeous.  With careful, delicately layered harmonies, the listener is instantly carried away into another space, one of relaxing ease and warmth.  The lyrics are from the Japanese poem “Spring Days and Blossom” by Ise, and its themes of natural beauty, rebirth and spring’s impermanence resonate long after the song ends.  It’s the only track on the album with such rich harmonies, and one wishes Luluc would do it again.


“Heist” is a lyrical cousin to Bob Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” with a “some friend you are” theme, and a production which starts small and builds and swells.  “Kids,” with Aaron Dessner of The National guesting, follows two recurring themes on Sculptor, the first of Randell singing to an adolescent.  Could be a parent singing to a rebellious child, or Randell singing to her teenage self.  The other sub-theme is of both the invisible barriers we erect and the escape mechanisms we create to handle those whom we feel are out to harm us.  It features an exchange I love, “The teacher who cries ‘why don’t you come talk to me?  You’ve got such a big chip on your shoulder.’ ‘No that’s my armor till I’m older.’”


“Cambridge” uses another Luluc-ism, that of jumping unexpectedly between settings, as it again explores the topic of the paths we choose to follow, sometimes the same between friends, sometimes diverging.  “Me and Jasper” is a “screw ‘em, we’ve got each other” sentiment, with a mellow guitar solo by J. Mascis (yes, he does those, too).


“Genius” has a similar lyrical theme to Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock,” only in second person instead of first, of the artist cloistered away, with a superiority complex about his art.  I like drummer Jim White’s scattershot intro to signify the title character’s deliberate choice to stay out-of-step with the world.  It also features the only lyrics I’ve ever heard where the subject fires a staple gun.


“Moon Girl” is about as beautiful a song as you’ll find, in both words and melody.  It features Hassett’s lovely guitar picking, with lush, distant soundscapes, and Randell’s soothing vocals.  She returns to singing to a young girl, perhaps someone she knows, perhaps to herself back in time.  She encourages her to get out and explore and live, and then return home safely, imparting the wisdom: “In your waking hours you’ll find/some will be good, some won’t be kind/In their way, they both hold gifts for you.”


In the closing title track “Sculptor,” Randell starts the story, her mind wandering on a plane flight, wondering if the plane went down whether the flight attendants’ would still retain their perfect hair and makeup.  This transitions to her love of her musical art - “…the most beautiful serene sculpture my hands could make, could trace, could make…”  When she reaches this point, her voice, for most of the album up to this point a low alto or contralto, unexpectedly reaches several octaves higher.  It’s a heart-stopping moment of vulnerability and beauty.  Just as the gorgeous opening track stuns with its not-repeated harmonies, this one leaves the listener in awe of its vocal beauty.


Sculptor is marked by its gentle serenity, tender melodies, and touchingly thoughtful lyrics.  Luluc has brought us a gift which will endure for many years to come, an album not to be missed.


(Mark Feingold)




(LP from https://jazrecords.com/)

The Cyrillic Typewriter is the work of Jason Zumpano, who with the help of like-minded friends/musicians, creates beautiful, ambient, experimental music that is always interesting and packed with emotion. These quality are overflowing on this, his latest creation, a 8 track collection that shimmers and floats from the speakers oozing with class.

     Taking that shimmer and amplifying it, “Dreamed Maze” is a wonderful piece of electronic sound that, well, shimmers wonderfully, a double bass adding warmth to the tune, simple melodies that uplift and satisfy the soul.  On, “Blue Thread” an aching chord adds emotion whilst a drifting sax creates colour and movement to the music, all you have to do is listen.

    Like a watercolour drone, “Melt” is the wave of long grass in a summers breeze, sea salt in the air, a hint of autumn, the sound barely raised from a softly spoken whisper the saxophone, courtesy of John Spiby, again adding gentle movement as the drone swells and recedes creating a track that is timeless and hypnotic. Rounding of the first side, “Night In Grey” maintains the drone, the chords having a seventies Tangerine Dream feel to them whilst the saxophone dances a strange dance amongst the waves of sound, the whole thing ending far too soon.

   Over on side two, the sax and slow waves of sound continue to dominate with “The Reveller” sounding like Fripp and Eno, whilst “The Double O” allows soft guitar notes to drift through the soundscape, a blissed out sax sounding like Didiere Malherbe in very mellow mode. As the track advances time begins to decay, its hypnotic power dissolving thought until it suddenly ceases. No worries though as “Stop the River” follows the same path, a twinkling sequence of notes leading on again until the sweet piano of “Nothing Changed” allows re-entry into a world more relaxed and positive.

      If you are a fan of ambient drones that are gently textural and definitely psychedelic in a soothing, mellow way then this album is highly recommended to your ears. (Simon Lewis)




(CD/LP/DL from http://www.thepurrs.com/ )

I have been listening to and enjoying the music of The Purrs for many moons now, ever since they sent me their debut EP way back in 2004. Over those years I have seen the band grow and progress, develop their own sound and write some damn fine Rock 'n' Roll tunes.

   On their latest album “Destroy the Sun” the band seem to have distilled and crystallised their sound to create their finest work to date, filled with good things and proving that sometimes you don't get what you deserve, The Purrs never having had that slice of luck you need to get to the next level, something The Green Pajamas and The Church know only too well, but hey, their passion and dedication still shines on and I will happily drink a glass to that.

   With a beeping noise that briefly sounds like my alarm clock, the title track suddenly explodes into view with a grungy riff, the mix punchy and powerful enough tog et the whole street rocking as musicians bring it on with the trademark cynical, and sometimes melancholy, lyrics also well represented. After that breathless beginning the chaotic beginning of “American as Apple Pie” is a quick red herring as the tune turns out to be equally powerful and dynamic. With the kind of guitar tone that is found in Tarantino movies, “Late Night Disturbance” has an expansive ambience and sounds particularly good at ear-splitting volume.

   Over 11 songs the music remains focused with a signature sound and vision, the slow-burning “”Here For So Long” catching the ear for all the right reasons, a catchy chorus, sweet sparkles of piano and great lyrics, whilst  a droning Farfisa gives “Now You Know” a great psychedelic sheen.

    Highlighting their gentler side, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” is a trippy tune that slowly builds the tension and volume, the album closed with “Walking Out The Door” a fast paced Garage style track that rocks hard, followed by “What Ever Happened to Billy Boy” another fine tune, Power Pop Americana but mainly The Purrs in top form and that is a good thing indeed. (Simon Lewis)




(book www.darkcompanion.com )

Paul Roland is a long time Terrascope favourite, releasing over twenty albums since his debut in 1985, most of which we’ve reviewed. There is a new biography about him which has recently been published, and it is accompanied by a disc of unreleased songs and demos, which tie it in nicely. The book is entitled Paul Roland ‘The Devil’s Jukebox’ and its available from Dark Companion The book is written by Italian super fan Roberto Curti, and runs to almost 200 pages and is most informative, but it’s the music that I’m going to delve into here.

Paul has a way with words and is a very literary style of writer; his songs are almost mini novels.  We have songs of misfits ‘Candy’s Mother Cries’, and ‘Jenny Doesn’t Mind’, songs of addiction ‘Sally can’t cry’.  Done me wrong songs ‘When I See That Girl’, ‘Can’t Forgive, Can’t Forget’.  Songs about the attitudes prevalent in the trailer trash of Deep South of America ‘Preaching the Devil’s Gospel’, replete with banjo and slide guitar, and some great lines like “I was raised in a one whore town, that didn’t wake up until the sun went down, I saw no sense in going to school, just to plough a crooked furrow, behind a cross eyed mule”, and ‘Charlie Manson’s Wedding’ more frailing banjo and redneck hollers, a Dixie fried delight.

Songs about thugs and bullies are also explored with ‘Black Shirt Tango’; this one is a disturbing song about white racists, complete with jack boot marching rhythms. ‘Little Scarface’, a song about razor boys.  Songs of Gods and religion ‘Icarus’ with its wonky mellotron melodies is particularly pleasing, ’The Lord Made Me A Woman’, all slinky sax and Wurlitzer, ‘Moses’ an Egyptian flavoured song of freedom and ‘Cradle Of Abraham’, again has some great lines, as I said, he has a way with words, lines like “All that praying, it don’t bring rain” and “the lord he loves a righteous man”. ‘The Wolfman’s on the Prowl’, with its wicked lead guitar fills ends this record in fine style, a record which combined with the book, make it a highly desirable package.

(Andrew Young)



This is the second instalment of songs from Robert Halcrow’s Picturebox, following on from 2016’s Songs Of Joy.  Recorded in Canterbury with a couple of guests, Jack Hayter plays violin on “The Vicar’s Dog” and Mathew Dutra plays harmonica, guitar and piano on the co-written “GNER”.  Things get off to a noisy start with “Stumble” a glammy, pop-rocker which is swiftly followed by “Divvy Cabs” a song I wish I hadn’t heard as it’s a real earworm of a tune; it was stuck in my head all day after first hearing it!  It also contains a healthy dollop of fuzz bass. “Sirens” sees things slowing down a little with Robert lounging on the sofa, the sounds of sirens and ice cream vans for company, some nice synth and piano. “GNER” a train song moves us on down the line, with plenty of lead guitar fills.

“I Got The Pox” is very catchy, another glammy rocker with a hint of Hawkwind and wouldn’t be out of place on a Go Kart Mozart album, it also sounds a bit like the Squeeze song “Up The Junction”. “Secret Escapes” again reminds me of Lawrence, this time covering Cockney Rebel. “Nice Boys Mobile Disco” provides a nice interlude, something squeaking, that badly needs oiling, appears halfway through it, to a tune of God Gave Rock and Roll To You.“Uniform” is a fun song about getting a job, “The Vicar’s Dog” is again full of great pop nous, I swear I know this tune but just can’t place it. The album ends with “Troyte” a short sombre organ interlude. 

This is a great fun album that I will certainly been revisiting, its available on limited edition CDs, each in a one off, hand finished, die cut cover from picturebox.bandcamp.com

(Andrew Young)



( www.adaadat.co.uk  )

Limited to 300 vinyl and 100 CDs.  Aquadelic is an album of abstract electronics, designed to be listened to in a semi-immersed state, where sounds are typically felt through the body, rather than through the ears.  It was created as a by-product from Joel’s Wet Sounds series of underwater concerts.  Now, these strange electronic pieces have been released for the first time for listening to in the dry, the album consists of seven tracks, that are stereo mix downs of these original, multi channel works.

Joel has been playing his mutating strand of abstract electronica through a multi channel system at Wet Sounds, usually consisting of three stereo systems above the water level and one that is under the water surface. The release of the album will coincide with a Wet Sounds event at St. George’s pool in Shadwell, London on October 7th.

What of the sounds I hear you ask; well we have slowly unfurling tone pieces, like album opener “Sinbad Revival”, which develops into a complex synthesiser showcase, strangely reminiscent of the sound achieved on Steve Burchall’s mid- seventies album ‘Reality Gates’.  “Orange Sky”, has some quite scary passages, basically another mad synth tone poem, it twinkles and echoes, all the time there is a deep sub-aquatic throb.  “Black Rainbows”, sounds like listening to Tangerine Dream in a deep cave, I can just see the oozing, dripping stalactites.  In “Centre Of The Cyclone”, the music finally lets up and shows us a lighter side.  As this piece  progresses we hear a drowsy, buzzing fly, a distant crow, woodpigeon, and a synthesised woodpecker, during the mix of these nature sounds, the track also features a disembodied human voice and some odd squelching noises. 

My word, this is a very strange listening experience indeed.  “Blurs Of My Eyes”, is frankly a ten minute fright fest, with added voicing by Rebecca Horrox, as it develops it becomes quite tripped out, sound travelling down coils of frayed wire, this one is an ambient synth nightmare, odd snippets of sounds appear and fade as quickly as they arrived, strings are slackened and tightened, a bell is finally tolled, its sound stretched out into infinity.  “Canolin Tap” starts off very brightly, however, it’s not very long until the piece fragments and goes somewhere else entirely, tones are transposed and octaves played with, somewhere a piano is sampled, an old guitar strummed, a ghostly orchestra tunes up, a goose briefly appears but is quickly disposed of, all the while a mad synth is being flayed to within an inch of its life, I’m feeling mighty strange now.  The record ends with “Fume Noir”, this one has some strange guttural utterances by Fredy Thuon.  It’s another quite disconcerting piece, a ghostly nightmare which really shouldn’t be listened to prior to going to bed. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced anything quite like this.

(Andrew Young) 




Available in 300 limited edition heavyweight green vinyl copies, with a hand screen printed & painted sleeve, with A2 poster,includes download code, postcard and insert, order from.

This record came out in February of this year and I believe it is the band’s debut, recorded in Bristol at various rehearsal rooms and garages. This great record starts with ‘The Legendary Orgasm’, they come on like a lot like early Who, with shades of The Creation, especially the ‘I Can’t Explain’ guitar chord patterns. This track is swiftly followed by the terrific Hawkwind grooves of ‘Licking Furniture’ a trippy, unrelenting, space rocker with plenty of chug.  Lots of pop-art moves fill the grooves of this fine, highly desirable record; sure its retro and the band definitely have no intentions of appearing on ‘Later with Jules Holland’ anytime soon, being far to lo-fi for that.  A narcotic Spacemen 3, spring to mind with side one closer ‘Save The World’.

‘Party Seven’ kicks off side two, with a farfisa infested druggy number, a lot like The Jesus And Mary Chain , ‘The Sweetest Dreams’ add slashings of spewed out lead guitar. ‘Vampire Cats (Itches)’ is another farfisa lead psychedelic rocker with more of that wonderful coruscating lead guitar poured all over it. The record ends with ‘Bending Spoons’ which has more organ led, guitar infested, psychedelia. There are barely a handful of vinyl copies remaining on their Bandcamp page as I write this review, get one before they sell out; you will not be disappointed. I’ll bet that Alan McGee has one. 

(Andrew Young)





(Both LP/CD on 7a Records)


A pair of live albums for Papa Nez fans.  The first, 2017’s “At the BBC Paris Theatre,” was recorded at the London venue November 27, 1975 for broadcast.  While the recording has occasionally made the rounds in bootleg form, it is heard here in its original state for the first time since the original broadcast.  The audio quality is superb.  Nez appears solo, with just himself and his trusty acoustic guitar.


The performance seems brief, with just six songs.  The first three, “Silver Moon,” “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” and “Joanne” sound wonderful.  In the intimate setting, Nez’s vocals and his 12-string guitar fill out the sound nicely on these chestnuts.


In the second half, Nesmith performs three songs from his then-current album, the underrated “The Prison,” billed as a “book with a soundtrack.”  As Nesmith has rarely performed songs from The Prison live, the recording has historical significance.  The three, “Dance Between the Raindrops,” “Marie’s Theme,” and “Closing Theme (Lampost),” sound terrific, and are punctuated by Nesmith’s explanations of what’s going on in the concept album.  You might need an explanation for the explanations.  During “Marie’s Theme,” Nez cuts himself off after singing the line “hidden behind all the logic one finds without truth” and comments “And that refrain repeats on the record about 637,000 times...” which is almost not an exaggeration if you’re familiar with The Prison.  Still, it doesn’t make the song or the performances here any less endearing.


“At the BBC Paris Theatre” is definitely worth owning, but it seems a warm-up for 7a’s spectacular 2018 release “Live at the Troubadour.”  After leaving The Monkees in 1970, Nesmith formed The First National Band with pedal steel maestro Red Rhodes, bassist John London, and drummer John Ware.  They released three albums on RCA in the space of about a year during 1970-1971, “Magnetic South,” “Loose Salute” and “Nevada Fighter.”  The songs, many written while Nez was still in The Monkees, were country-rock bedrock that garnered rave reviews, but due to RCA’s lack of promotion, the albums languished and quickly disappeared.  The First National Band broke up, and Nesmith continued his solo career, the quality of the releases always high, if not big sellers.  But the original First National Band releases slowly continued to gather a following which grew and grew over the years.


Cut to 2018.  As a result of fan feedback and confidence within Nesmith’s inner circle that there was an audience out there who wanted to hear the original music, the band was reformed and redubbed The First National Band Redux for a new set of shows.  Their first gig was the iconic Troubadour, where both Nesmith MC’d before The Monkees and original First National Band performed.  Tickets sold out in minutes for the January 25th 2018 show.


Gone are Red Rhodes and John London, both sadly passed, and John Ware was unwilling to join the project, citing age as the factor.  Nesmith’s son Christian put together the band you hear on the album.  If you want to put together a band for a live show or tour, you want Christian Nesmith.  The band features himself and another Nesmith son Jonathan Nesmith on guitars and vocals, Christopher Allis (drums), Jason Chesney (bass), Jim Cox (keyboards), Circe Link and Amy Spear (vocals and percussion), and last but not certainly not least Pete Finney on pedal steel, who plays Rhodes’ parts with astonishing breadth and precision.


This outfit pulls off the rarified feat of the live album which sounds better than the studio originals.  Nesmith admits he was somewhat dissatisfied with the original trio of albums as lacking some oomph.  Christian Nesmith sees to it that the songs get the full treatment they deserve.  A lot of the magic is down to Christian’s arrangements, especially the vocal harmonies by Circe Link and Amy Spear.  If you want fantastic band and vocal arrangements for a live performance, you want Christian Nesmith.


Nez is in great spirits and great voice throughout.  Kicking off with the rousing “Nevada Fighter” and “Calico Girlfriend,” Nez and the band are immediately cooking on all cylinders.  Tender songs such as “Nine Times Blue,” “The Crippled Lion” and “Joanne” are resonant and touching.  The crackling “Grand Ennui” features some blazing performances by the band.  The beautiful, moody “Lady of the Valley,” which astonishingly almost didn’t make the set list, is a real highlight, with Nez’s falsetto and the harmonies by Circe Link and Amy Spear sending chills up the spine.


The most poignant moment is during a small acoustic interlude, during which Nez sings among others “Papa Gene’s Blues,” the only original Monkees song in the set.  The chorus “I have no more than I did before, but now I’ve got all that I need/For I love you and I know you love me” becomes a singalong with the audience.  It becomes apparent that in that moment Nez really means those words to his audience, and they mean it just as much back to him.  After the scare which resulted in Nesmith’s quadruple-bypass surgery earlier this year, this moment on the album resonates even further.  As we continue to perhaps say goodbye to more of our heroes from our musical past, the chance to do it with artist and audience serenading each other is a rare and special thing indeed.


On the last six songs, “Keys to the Car,” “Mama Nantucket,” “Bye Bye Bye,” “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” “Silver Moon” and “Thanx for the Ride,” Nez and the band reach for another gear and find some sort of supersonic zone and never come down.


The audio quality on the record sounds sensational.  If you want to produce and mix a live album, you want Christian Nesmith.  Packaging is first-rate, courtesy of 7a, with fascinating liner notes by Papa Nez himself.


All in all, a great release, and as Nez wraps it up, I’ll just mosey on, thanx for the ride.


(Mark Feingold)


(LP from Weird Beard

The name Black Tempest, indeed that of Stephen Bradbury, for it is mostly he, will be no stranger to the regular and long term reader (hello, you), having graced Woolf Music and our more recent Paper Leaves LP. In fact Terrascope has been pleased as Punchinello to give plenty of air to BT releases over the course of many years and how gratifying it is to see him get a proper vinyl release courtesy of the Weird Beard collective.

Psyberspace will be as welcomingly familiar as an old pair of genie’s slippers to the initiated and as intriguing as a bottle marked “drink me” to the curious, a heady mix of gentle beats, washes and conventional instrumentation bolstered by a strong cast of willing conscripts not least (but not only) members of White Hills, Dead Sea Apes and long-time Cope lieutenant Donald Ross Skinner.

Solo opener ‘Traveller’ builds a solid bridgehead, heralding BT’s trademark rhythm, a grinding pulse that recurs throughout and which will strive to avoid any suggestion of over familiarity and which chugs along nicely, at times evoking Planet’s Gong’s ‘Ali Baba’, intertwined with Jarre-ing blasts of ice cold synths. It’s the first bold step on what will amount to a cathartic listening experience. However it’s the gentle ambience of ‘Forest Of Stars’, three tracks in, where it really clicks into place, a gorgeous, throbbing blissfulness marking something of a purple patch and one to which your reviewer keeps returning (plus it contains bird song for added value. That’s me sold to the highest Buddha then). Steve’s trebly, crystal water guitar on ‘Ritual Of The Moon’ sounds so sharp it could almost cut itself and reminds your aged reviewer of the Ovation sound that was the hallmark of Roy Harper’s sound back in the mid-80s. I daresay that is probably not what the artist was striving for but you know what it’s like with these unintended consequences. Add to this Jo Thirlwind’s witchy incantations and at this point you are almost sinking into the warm embrace of a relaxation tape and a pretty special one at that, but from which point things grow deliciously darker and more ominous.

If ‘Ritual’ is the album highlight – and it certainly receives my vote - then the remaining cuts ‘Psyberhead’, a rhythmic shuffle peppered with power chords courtesy of Dave from White Hills, and ‘Mukti Advesha’ aren’t at all shabby either. The latter one is a fitting finale as it is given human warmth by Brett Savage and Chris Hardman (who also mastered the album as he did for Paper Leaves, bless him) of Dead Sea Apes and who some years back along with Steve released that rarest of beasts, a non-dance “electronic” album which still receives regular spins here in the Veal Crate.  Well they may just have played a part in pulling off the same trick this time, too. Psyberspace is a truly gratifying creative effort so full marks to everyone involved. No need to see me in my office, then (you wouldn’t all fit anyway).    
(Ian Fraser)



(LP from Cardinal Fuzz)

First released in September 2016, The Jim Mitchells’ debut EP, Planet Absorbed receives a welcome UK release thanks to the redoubtable Cardinal Fuzz and what a tonic it is.

This is the sound of hard edged garage psychosis which suggests that the Sydney based five-piece, led by the eponymous Jim, have time travelled to a lock-up in LA or Texas or someplace US at some point in ‘65 going on ‘66. Chock full of classic hooks and killer riffs and with a vitality and infectiousness that probably ought to carry a health warning it has production values to match, high on the treble, lo on the fi, and sounding like jumping beans in a tin box. Yes so they are refried beans but when your template is this good then why bother sourcing too much fresh produce? For those seeking consolation in modernity then think of Ty Segal hooking up with a spikier prime-time Dandy Warhols and you’d have a sticky note with “warm” written on it planted on your forehead. This then is “psych” before it became packaged in over-production, beads and hype. Personal favourites and honourable mention to timeless title track, the euphoric ‘Alone, Stone’, what sounds to all the world like a Nuggets outtake – “Mind Reader”, You Unfollow Me’ (my Twitter life story, possibly) which sounds like The Monkees moonlighting in a dark basement stripped of all the corny-camera sunshine veneer. If these first four tracks are either mad, bad or dangerous to know then the soporific ‘(…I’s a Sign) is the last, stoned, carousel ride you’re ever likely to take, a little like ‘The Sunshine Underground’ (Chemical Brothers) with the beats mixed out, which just leaves “Wanted”, a nicely dopey, slow-paced, aimless six or so minutes that hints more in the direction of Love Hypnotic…  

…Wherein our boys shed much of the thrashy, trashy garage “punk” like some old skin, to mixed results. Jim Mitchell’s now evidently reedy, nasal vocal suggest he’s spent some time studying at the Tim Presley School of Latter Day Lennon and indeed there are a few nods towards both White Fence and the Fabs, consciously or otherwise, such as on the impressive ‘Ankle Deep’ and ‘Got To Believe’ (possibly the pick of this bunch and on which you can just imagine the late, great, Marty Balin singing along). Meanwhile the guitar runs on the engaging and sprightly ‘We’re Up High’, the lushly harmonic single ‘Easy Love’ and the disarming ‘Magnetic’ could easily have slipped out the side door of Tepid Peppermint Wonderland. All this is good to varying degrees. A pity, then, that it’s slightly let down by ‘Where Is’ which starts promisingly but tends to lose its way, while the closing ‘(…She’s Why)’ seems as unnecessary as the title brackets.

Taking these two releases together what we have here would constitute one remarkably good LP and some work in progress. Recalibrating their undoubted strengths in order to better align the stronger melodies Love Hypnotic with the energy of their debut would see The Jim Mitchells becoming serious contenders indeed. Here’s to the next one.

(Ian Fraser)


(LP/DL from Rocket Recordings)

Sweden’s Goat (not to be confused with the Japanese band of the same name) are the equivalent of what used to pass as “professional wrestling” on ITV’s World Of Sport. Basically a load of theatrical old phooey whose masked men/women of mystery persona is great entertainment even if nobody really buys the fact that these are strange tribal communards but are in fact mostly members of the jaw-droppingly good Hills with a couple of women out front. Just like a good many of those Saturday afternoon grunt ‘n groaners it doesn’t mean that they don’t know or indeed excel at their craft, it’s just that one has to be in the mood and as often as not I’m in search of the fast forward or eject button as often as I’m prepared to indulge what I’m meant to be engaging with.

Whatever, one of this mysterious band of brothers, “Goatman” (coincidentally the name of Goat’s debut single) has gone it alone on this debut release, one on which he’s in thrall to an Africana and fascination with World Music that has always been so evident in the parent band. Here he gives full vent to his Fela fetish, particularly on ‘Jaam Ak Salaam’ with its full on Africa Brass and infectious rhythms, both guaranteed to get you up on your feet – otherwise it would work just as well as a driving song, too. ‘Hum Bebass Nahin’ is described in the blurb as the “Bristol sound track” although to these old ears it also evokes Apostrophe era Zappa, a throttled back loping jazzy blues with even a spiky lead break that has Zappa’s trademark frenetic fretwork smeared over it. Adding a bronchial saxophone for the second break was also a shrewd move, lending a glass paper edge to an already murky and dangerous sound.

The happy and infectious ‘Limelight’ straddles Africa and the Caribbean and could be in danger of becoming an incidental soundtrack for TV’s Murder in Paradise. Beware though, unsuspecting listener, if, like me, you’d hoped that synth drums had expired with Rose Royce and ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ courtesy of a great big silver stake through its circuitry. Here the nightmare has returned in spades, marring what would otherwise be a pleasant enough interlude and one which proceeds a genuine high water mark. ‘Carry The Load’ is a quite fabulous and intricate piece of gospel-jazz featuring Amanda Werne on vocals and building to a shamanistic intensity courtesy of more rasping reeds and counterweight flute solo. No fast forward here no siree, although the repeat play button has had a bit of a tough time of it. Senegal’s Seydi Mandoza reprises his vocal stint from the opening number on ‘Aduna’ a curiously effective and highly enjoyable blend of Afro rhythm and primitive sounding synth soloing. Here the reeds give way to cosmic squalls of trumpet (apparently Goatman plays all instruments, the clever…thing). It’s left to the haunting drone-chill out of ‘Baaneexu’ with its faint, disembodied voice and gentle loops to guide us to a soft landing, something of an odd one out but strangely one of the highlights. It also gives the old bones a rest after so much dancing around my man bag.
Instruction: Play/repeat/play some more.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP from Drone Rock Records )

An instrumental post-rock trio from Turin and sounding uncannily like Cardiff’s Left Hand Right Hand at times, Movion’s follow up to their highly regarded debut album has been two years in the making and mixes post rock with minimalist techno, a mixing point of synthwave and more organic, electro-acoustic soundscapes.

The introductory drone of ‘Ylem’ gives way to the icily euphoric ‘Stereo Individuals’ which introduces the first of many spoken word samples (John Cage and David Cronenberg among those borrowed) and is underpinned by an instrumental heft which paradoxically elevates the track to new heights instead of dragging it down with gravitational weight. The strikingly named ‘Any App For Soul Catharsis’ also skips, dances soars and floats in pretty much equal measure, so much so it’s like trying to swat the swiftest, most evasive of flies. ‘Window Water Eyes Moving’ continues not just the theme for fanciful and eye-catching titles but the subtly intricate yet sparkling arrangements that makes it delightfully hard to pigeon-hole, or for that matter to keep still while listening (I can only apologise for any typos that have escaped unnoticed).  Following a more traditional post-rock quiet-loud template as befits the stealthy stalk and pounce hinted in the title is ‘Hunt and Peck’ while the unsettling interlude ‘Wysiwyg’ marks time before ‘A Whale Is Going To Mountains’ brings matters to close in typically angular, shapeshifting fashion keeping you guessing as to their intentions.
‘Blank’ is one of those releases where the listener, as opposed to the album, benefits from repeated plays. You need a few shots at this to fully appreciate the tight arrangements and busy inventiveness, how this interacts with a lightness of touch, and without them having to resort to the volume switch. Unlike some post-rockers who have grown rather plodding and predictable with age Movion appear to be better served by being a lean, compact and hungry unit. Let’s hope they continue to quest and to surprise us when it comes to their “difficult third”.
(Ian Fraser)





Randy Burns was a Greenwich Village folkie by way of New Haven, Connecticut. His 1968 album Evening of the Magician is considered his apex, and a hopefully not forgotten treasure of acid folk. After landing at Bleecker and MacDougal Street in 1966, Burns paid his dues sleeping on park benches in Washington Square Park and busking. After impressing during open mic nights around Village clubs, eventually he landed a great gig as permanent opening act at the legendary Gaslight Café. He would be recruited by ESP-Disk founder Bernard Stollman for his label. After the mostly covers 1967 debut album for ESP-Disk, “Of Love and War,” Burns formed the Sky Dog Band to do his backing for the “difficult second album,” Evening of the Magician.

Featuring ten songs, all Burns originals, Evening’s songs feature evocative melodies, messages of love and friendship, nature, and reaching out to friends in need, and most of all Burns’ warm voice. His voice reminds me slightly of John Denver (the voice only!) with its soothing qualities. The album should find admirers in fans of Burns’ ESP-Disk label mates Pearls Before Swine, if not quite as adventurous lyrically or production-wise as PBS. Latter-day keepers of the flame such as Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam) and Sufjan Stevens can trace their arc to the unheralded Randy Burnses of the world.

Considering he’d advanced in instrumentation from his first album of just an acoustic guitar and vocals to the full band treatment on this, ironically, it’s the guitar only tracks which shine the most. “Evening of the Magician” is a delicate acoustic track, while “Echoes of Mary’s Song” adds tasteful flute. “You’ve Got All of Love Standing at Your Door” features an acoustic and electric guitar; Burns’ use of guitar harmonics brings a warm, gorgeous feel to the song. The lovely “Girl from England” is a tale of loss and sorrow.

The full band tracks are also strong, but can bring occasional winces from clunkers by various Sky Dog Band members (in fairness, there may not have been much time for alternate takes during recording). However, Burns’ songwriting, singing and guitar playing are masterful throughout. Standouts include “Rainy Day Children,” featuring guitars, piano and harmonica, and a partial anti-war theme. The song sounds much like “Goodbye and Hello” period Tim Buckley. “Springtime Song” is a rare, happy song for the album, exuding flower power. Eerie closer “When Daylight Comes in Everything” was called by Tom Rapp “the most intelligent take on psychedelia I’ve ever heard.” You’ll have to judge for yourself.

Depending on the source of your copy, the album’s audio quality may vary. Older versions suffer greatly from various shortcomings, but a more recent restoration by original ESP-Disk chief engineer Joe Phillips brings the album to the high standard it deserves.

(Mark Feingold)


(LP/CD from Thrill Jockey )

With a voice containing strong trace elements of Patti Smith and Marianne Faithful, Thalia Zedek inhabits a sometimes belligerent musical landscape incorporating fragments of emotionally raw Americana, New Wave and Post Rock. Fighting Season parks pretty much mid-point between Zedek’s gnarly past with the likes of Come, and her recent, more vulnerable sounding stripped back solo releases. If that guitar on ‘Bend Again’ is familiar then yes, it is J Mascis, proving that Zedek has some heavy and influential friends out there. The countrified ‘What I Wanted’ is pretty decent, the title track just about delivers on its early promise though sounds a trifle forced, while ‘Of The Unknown’ treads a bit of mid-set, mid-tempo water, Zedek’s voice straining but ultimately through by a weighty final third.

‘Ladder’ pulls it all back, raw and atmospheric with long-term foil Dave Curry on viola - his complementary and sympathetic playing is a recurring highlight - and Zedek’s wavering, plaintive strains offset by the punchy defiance of the coda. Gentle and acoustic, ‘War Not One’ is as charming as it is desolate sounding and dear old Folk Rawk gets a look in courtesy of ‘The Lines’, on which Zedek’s Neil Young softening to Al Stewart (or Chris De Burgh if you wish to be uncharitable) works surprisingly well and is another highlight but none really come close to ‘We Will Roll’, a short and simple dark lullaby with beautiful interplay between Curry and Jonah Sacks’ cello, a combination that is the aural equivalent of peaches and cream. ‘Tower’ brings up the rear, a potent weft of weightlessness and heft and a fine way to end what, overall, is a box of hard and soft centres well worth picking at.

(Ian Fraser)