Of course, being the sixties there is some over dramatic phrasing and pa-papa pa-ba kinda moments, but for me these add to the charm. A strong album throughout, highlights include the Pop-Garage of “Your Maw Said You Cried”, the excellent “Let the Cold Winds Blow” a protest song that has an early Psych-Folk feel and lots of energy. A mellow version of the title track (one of three Dylan covers on side two) and the rockier “A Walk in the Sun” which reminds me of The Animals. Overall this album was much more enjoyable than I first imagined it would be, fans of The Monkees, Animals or The Byrds should be happy to listen.
Released in 1967 “Happy Together” see The Turtles in Pop mode with brass more prominent on the tunes, the folk influence fading somewhat. In fact opening track “Makin' My Mind Up” is almost Lounge complete with brass stabs and a long fade, whilst Guide For The Married Man” is sixties cheese at its finest the brass ringing out again, with over dramatic drums to the fore. Things take a mellower turns one the first original on the disc as “Think I'll Run Away” drifts in on a cloud of strings and quite possibly hash smoke, the tune having a very laid back arrangement and some lovely vocals. With both “The Walking Song” and “Me About You” continuing this relaxed feel and indicating that the band should have avoided the covers and stuck to their own material, it is up to the famous title track to end the side with a swagger, a great tune that always makes me smile. Over on side two the same pattern is found, with two cheesy sixties tunes opening proceedings in the shape of “She' Rather Be With Me” and “Too Young To Be One”, the side not really taking off until the melancholy strains of “Like The Seasons” soothe your ears with a hint of sadness, the record ended with the bizarre “Rugs of Wood and Flowers”, Psychedelic Lounge music that is far removed from anything else on the collection offering a glimpse of why they went on to work with Mr Zappa.
So, two fine examples of sixties music that contain plenty of fine music and some cheesier moments too,definitely worth hearing. (No useful link found)
Featuring Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, “Magnification” is that rare beast, a Yes album that does not feature any Keyboards. Instead the band have utilised an orchestra to fill out their sound, resulting in a collection of songs that are lush and rewarding, the song/arrangements simpler than on earlier albums allowing the melodies to be heard more clearly. Originally released in 2001 the songs are more straightforward and rockier than their seventies output, although they still contain moments of great beauty and some complex moments creating a great collection for those with Prog ears and a sense of melody. Highlights for me are the gorgeous and gentle “Give Love Each Day”, the more energetic “spirit of Survival” and the whole of side three which contains two longer and more traditionally Yes style outings with “Dreamtime” containing some great guitar moments, whilst “In The Presence Of...” is even split into four parts. Having the album pressed on purple vinyl only adds to the charm,the fact that there are only three sides of music, the fourth side is smooth vinyl, is an oddity that had me confused for a second. (http://www.sireena.de/)
Ok, time for a change of style now as Professor Louie and the Crowmatix present “Wings On Fire” a collection of Americana that encompasses, honky tonk, country and blues. Having worked as the backing band for Rick Danko, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson, it is obvious that these musicians know there way around a tune and so it proves with “Uncommon Love” “top of the World” and “Open Hand, Open heart” all sounding like they could be outtakes by The Band themselves, whilst “Down at the Country” has a honky tonk groove to get you started and “A Book Faded Brown” is a piano led ballad of great beauty and a gospel tinge. Over on side two there is more of the same, with “Time Moves On” having the same feel as those early seventies Dead LP's, the whole side having a mellow West-Coast ambience, topped off by “Pantomime”, a lovingly crafted tune that bring back round to the sound of The Band again. A great set of songs played with feeling and dexterity, sometimes that is all you need. (http://www.professorlouie.com/).
Self-released by Kut-U-Up, the “Worse Than Wolves” EP contains six tracks of punk inspired, guitar heavy tunes that maintain a sense of melody, mixing that with a solid rhythm section and some inventive writing. Never too fast, the mid paced tunes get your head nodding, the band nice and tight, something that works really well on “Shut It Down” and the rockier “Last Time”, a solid collection indeed and pressed on excellent black and transparent vinyl. (http://kutuupmusic.com/)
Pressed on classic Black vinyl, The self-titled album from Thee Open Sex mixes hypnotic guitar riffs, a sense of Velvets nihilism, and a sense of Kraut-Rock intensity creating a tasty brew that sound excellent a high volume. As each song progresses it tends to begin to dissolve into a haze of effects, just listen to opener “Peanut Butter” or “Walking the Dog” for examples of this. Elsewhere, “Light of Love” is a psychedelic ritual with a Rock and Roll heart, Can played on electric guitars, whilst “Live Dead” is a rising wall of noise with a pulsing back beat, the band attempting to levitate through sound. All good stuff with a nice dirty production that makes the most of the repetition. (http://theeopensex.bandcamp.com/)
originally recorded in 1999 but not released until now “off Shore” by Vancouver based Points Gray, although they played live as AIDS, has an undeniable power in its lo-fi Folk Noire ramblings. A voice all its own that will either enthral you or grate with you, I can't imagine much in between. Personally, it has a taken a couple of plays before my ear tuned in, but I am glad it did, as songs such “Echo Power” and “People Hate You In This Town” contain the same sardonic lyricism as The Velvets whilst being oddly constructed in a Syd Barrett, Skip Spence kinda way. Featuring future members of Wet Dirt, July 4th Toilet, and The New pornographers, the music is acoustic, reasonably free-form and is more uneasy than easy listening, although there are hidden depths to be discovered, pockets of beauty and a strange sense of stillness at its core. Limited to 300 copies, with a hand-drawn lyric booklet plenty of information on the cover, this is an excellent package that preserves a little slice of musical history.
To round of this vinyl review, Circuit Des Yeux release a haunting three track 10” entitled “CDY3”. Featuring the powerful vocals of Hayley Fohr, “Lithonia” reminds me of Nick Cave in its intense delivery and dark beauty whilst “I'm On Fire II” has a dirty guitar running through it, the tune having a sleazy bluesy feel, it is only after the lyrics have been running for a few seconds that you realise that this is a Springsteen song, here taken deep into the swamp and given a good kicking, brilliant work. To finish, the B-side is given over to “Helen, You Bitch”, beginning with a squall of drone and samples then slowly building, the song is dense and disturbing, the samples causing unease as the sounds become more layered, the sound of your skin crawling, the tension finally broken as drums and guitar bring order into chaos. A highly recommended album!
Time now to gather together all the singles that have arrived here over the last couple of months. First up a brace from State Records (www.staterecs.com) , with Bronco Bullfrog delighting their senses with the psychedelic sounds of “Clarifoil” / “Never Been to California”, the former a prime slice of English psych circa 1968, whimsy and muscular guitar blended together to create a delicious sounding tune. Meanwhile the B-side is a more straightforward guitar jangle with great lyrics and a hippy groove. With a gritty garage sound The Higher State have a west coast feel in their latest release with “Potentially (Everyone is your Enemy)” managing to portray its lyrical paranoia in its sounds, whilst “All Ties That Bind” has a lighter feel mixing the Byrds with a splash of Jefferson Airplane, good stuff.
Sticking with the jangle The Young Sinclairs sound like an American version of The Who on “Engineer Man”, complete with some excellent drumming and instrumental breaks, the B-side “Problems” maintaining the quality and sound of the flip.
Featuring the talents of Jennifer Baron and a remix from Sonic Boom, “Nature-Nurture” is the latest release from The Garment District. Pressed on vinyl that weighs as much as a dinner plate, the A-side is a drifting cloud of ambience that slowly evolves into a more electronic pulse, some gorgeous vocals moving through the tune giving it a human touch. On the other side “Miraculous Metal” has more of a beat and some guitar running through it although it is still connected to the relaxed feel of the other side, whilst final tune “Vigor” is a sample based minimalist track, short and very sweet. The artists earlier cassette release “Melody Elder” is now sold out but is available on-line and I highly recommend its blend of electronics and emotion. (www.lastationradar.com)
Heavy and moody, “Spectrums of Light” is a two track release from Ttotals with “Sometimes You Just Are” being a guitar driven piece of minimalist psych that has a weird ambient ending, whilst “Tricks of the Trade” proves to be more of the same, the band having a sound all of their own, heavy guitar and slow vocals creating just the right atmosphere. (http://ttotals.bandcamp.com/)
Nice and noisy Fun are an angular guitar band from Helsinki with elements of Killing Joke, Buttholes and Nomeansno to be found on their “1/3” single, with “Massive on Meat” benefiting from turning everything up to fully appreciate its guitar led noise, the same being true of “Into the Void” the equally angry flipside. (http://noisecorewalze.bandcamp.com/track/massive-on-meat)
Experimental but also warm and melodic the songs of Ian Humberstone are a joy to the ears, with “Ocean Paths to the Palace”, the a-side of his latest “3 Songs” collection, being a beautiful tune with a rich warm tone and a kevin Ayers ambience due mainly the Ian's vocal delivery, which is very similar to the great man himself. On the other side, The piano is again dominant on the haunting “Three Dreams”, with “Sing Young” being equally lovely, the disc ending with a delightful instrumental coda, music to fall in love to. (www.stitchstitchrecords.co.uk)
Pressed on lovely white flecked transparent vinyl “Soap and Silk”the latest single from Lux Harmonium is a bright chiming tune with delightful lyrics and a sense of wonder running through its grooves, the sweet sounding guitar making the track sparkle with joy. On the other side the pace is slower but the magic remains, “Peggy Come Home” proving to be a beautiful folk song draped with sadness and soft beauty. (www.staticcaravan.org)
Electronic and haunting “Uprising”/ “Sky Lantern” is a rather tasty seven inch created by Tabata Mitsuru, the slow moving a-side akin to watching the sky for meteors and then suddenly seeing loads of them, the track picking up pace and intensity with an insistent throbbing bass pulse driving the song into a swarm of confused noise. Opening with a nagging guitar line, the B-side has a more fragile beauty about it, the sounds more drifting at the start although the tension remains, the expectation that the track is about to explode always there. (www.fourth-dimension.net)
The always excellent Bipolaroid offer us “Supernatural Beauty” a song that has Syd era Floyd written all over it, this feeling enhanced if you watch the video that goes with it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbQyX8iEms0). At only 90 seconds the song is over way to quickly, with “Beautiful (In the Morning)” the equally fine B-side only managing to make the two minute mark as well, the tne having a lovely jangle and a lazy groove that hits the spot. (www.gethip.com)
Now over to Jeff Penczak for a round up of new vinyl from the Fruits de Mer label:
The folks over at the beloved, vinyl-only Fruits De Mer have outdone themselves with these five new 7”s, released to coincide with their August 10 All-Dayer at The Borderline. Each coloured-vinyl single continues their finely-honed tradition of inviting new artists to reinterpret beloved, albeit sometimes hopelessly obscure favourites from psychedelia’s halcyon daze. This time, reworkings of The Stones, Troggs, Beatles, Sabbath, and Syd Barrett are nestled alongside nearly-forgotten goodies from The Fairytale, , Mark Fry, Fuchsia, and Second Hand.
First up, Crystal Jacqueline (ably abetted by her partner in The Honey Pot, Icarus Peel) intrigues with her mesmerising version of The Troggs’ ‘Cousin Jane’. Footsteps approach a piano, which provides an eerie backing to Crystal’s recounting of the anxiously-awaited arrival of the titular cousin. This may be even creepier than the ’66 original, what with the additional sound effects and mad piano poundings. Crystal retains Reg Presley’s original lyric, thus adding a lesbian aura to the already incestuous connotation of “kissing her on the lips” and holding her “each night until morning so no one will ever know”. The gender-reversal adds a little unease to an already frightening track that reminds of something John Cale would (should?) have covered in his Velvet Underground days.
Crystal’s take on Second Hand’s slice of mod freakbeat heaven, “A Fairy Tale” is a complete reversal, boasting a punchy, ‘I Can’t Explain’ riff, blistering guitar solo, and Moonish drum bashing; and The Stones’ ‘Play With Fire’ becomes another haunting, intimate recital that sounds more like a warning than a kiss-off. Slowed down to a dirge, with a subdued, almost baroque backing, complete with pealing bells, muffled guitar, and hissing tambourine, Crystal has crafted a unique arrangement that effectively integrates equal parts Goblin Market, Kate Bush, and Virginia Astley.
Holland’s Jack Ellister (who performed at the All-Dayer, along with Stray and headliners The Pretty Things) may have recorded the first sitar-less version of ‘Within You, Without You’, but he envelopes it in so many other “Pepperisms” that you’ll never miss it. Swirling, disembodied vocals recall Syd Barrett, Middle Eastern voices add an air of mystery, and a brief “reprise” even succumbs to the temptation to toss in a few backwards vocals.
Another aboutface gives us the (also) rather Floydian ‘Song For Wild’. Winsome vocals, a tender acoustic guitar, and a sleepy vocal add up to a remarkably faithful rendition of this Mark Fry classic from Dreaming With Alice.
All those Barrett references are not without merit, as Ellister wraps up this brilliant Valentine to quirky psychedelia with a spot-on rendition of El Syd’s ‘Flaming’. Hesitant, treated vocals drift through a perception-distorting landscape of musical funhouse mirrors, complete with Barrett’s unmistakably psychedelic imagery. “Hey ho here we go/Ever so high”, indeed!
The title track on Stay’s EP is the first original composition in this barrage of Fruit De Mer singles, and it’s a more recent-sounding slice of organ-swirling, baggy-trousered, bass-throbbing psychedelia, with knowing nods towards Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Charlatans, and Kula Shaker. An auspicious beginning that’s matched by another effective updating of one of my own personal fave Rubble tracks, The Fairytale’s ‘Guess I Was Dreaming’. More swirling guitars, wah-wah organ, phasing, and dreamy vocals contribute to a perfect bridge between 60s and 90s psychedelia.
The Barcelona band has released four albums, self-described as “groovy retrorock, jangly acidic guitars, and 60s’90s-inspired pop and soft psych.” All of these elements are again at play over on the flip side, beginning with a hypnotic arrangement of George Harrison’s ‘If I Needed Someone’ that enfolds the listener in a marshmallow overcoat of headswirling guitars, organs, and assorted 21st century effects that add a potent psychedelic sheen to Harrison’s well-worn chestnut. If The Marmalade’s ‘I See The Rain’ is less effective, it’s simply because perfection can only be mirrored, not improved upon, and despite a gnarly guitar break, their accented English is more noticeable here and proved an uncomfortable distraction to this listener’s enjoyment.
The US/Finnish collective White Sails tackle two dreamy, acoustic Sab’ slabs that remind how beautifully evocative some of their more obscure instrumental efforts are. ‘Laguna Sunrise’ floats across the room, evoking images of waking up from a restful night’s sleep on a Pacific Coast beach to a warm, California morning, while ‘Fluff’ meanders along like a dandelion seed on the breath of an angel.
Side 2 delivers two self-composed instrumentals of a like vintage and mindset (‘The Answer’ and ‘Death On A Pale Horse’) to amuse and tickle the nostalgic ruminative powers in each of us. Perfect for those thousand yard stares into infinity that take the edge off a frantic day. The latter is particularly memorable to accompany a dusty crawl through a Morricone-soundtracked desert scene in a Sergio Leone spaghetti western.
Our trip ends with a traditional, two-track single, and the plug side is a collaboration between Sweden’s Me and My Kites and Tony Durant, guitarist and vocalist with ‘70s British proggers, Fuschia, It’s a marriage made in heaven and a dream come true for the band, who named themselves after the shortest track on Fuschia’s 1971 album on Pegasus. ‘The Band’ was an old Fuschia demo that Durant, now based in Sydney released nearly 35 years later on the 2005 compilation Fuschia, Mahogonny & Other Gems (Night Wing) and he seems both at ease and suitably chuffed to be adding his pleasant vocals to the lads’ backing here. A folky, shuffling backing effectively captures the heady, folk-prog trappings from those vintage Fuschia sessions. The B-side offers an extended version of a track off the band’s current album (Like A Dream Back Then), whose title hints at the dreamy, reflective backward glances into the peak, ‘70s prog era that lie within. Sprightly “la la la’s”, crashing cymbals, cascading harps, backward tape loops... a sunny day’s embrace, and a perfect way to wrap up this lovingly nostalgic visit into some of psychedelia’s forgotten charms as resurrected by some of today’s finest proponents of light, weird, dysfunctional pop! (Jeff Penczak)
The Linus Pauling Quartet bring us their 'Find What You Love and Let It Kill You' EP on Homeskool Records (1001 Texas Ave. Ste 1400, Houston TX 77002 USA), a truly magnificent collection of three songs loosely tied to one another thematically if not stylistically. My favourite cut is 'The Road', a 60s-tinged psych-pop number with crystalline keys, but 'La Jetee' is both gorgeous and an interesting variation for the band, featuring as it does delicately-plucked guitars hovering over a pillow of feedback. It's all about as far as you can get from last year’s over the top stoner-metal bombast of their 'Bag of Hammers' LP, but if anything the band are even more endearing for their variety and willingness to experiment.
Phil has been raving for some time now about Chalaque, who very nearly came to play the Woolf Music festival this year. Recorded at the Helderberg House in Albany, NY USA in March this year, the double-B sided 45 'Helderberg Howl' b/w 'FTW' on Golden Lab Records finds Manchester-based Nick Mitchell in fine fettle, the howling, visceral guitar being attacked and viciously strummed in a frenzied manner until it squeals with discordant pleasure, or what I assume is pleasure.
Finally, a poignant release on Shagrat Records (www.shagratrecords.com) by the Deviants, who in this incarnation are Andy Colquhoun, Russ Hunter, Duncan (Sandy) Sanderson, Mick Farren and Jaki Windmill on percussion. Coupling the fabulous, guitar-drived ‘Fury of the Mob’ on the fist side (sic) with ‘A Better Day is Coming’, this recording is needless to say the last breath of the late, great Mick Farren, who passed away on 27th July. What a way to exit, though.
Terrascopic Rumbles for August was brought to you by almost exclusively by Simon Lewis, a paragraph or two from Jeff Penzak, and with a word or two here and there by Phil McMullen. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2013