Three Minute Tease features Anton Barbeau, on the album "Bite The Hand." Anton, who produced and mixed the album, and who handles the vocals and many of the instruments, must be one of the hardest working men in the biz. This indie/psych album opens with the indie pop of 'Bravely Fade Away,' which certainly cuts the mustard - great vocal. 'Drinking Horn' is cheeky and light-hearted - drink that mushroom tea and look at him go... The man wants to go to Glastonbury, and who can blame him? 'MTV Song' is more raucous and a little more serious, while 'Drain The River' is a weird little number that echoes some of Julian Cope's mid 1990's work. The wackily uptempo 'Ciao Ciao Chicken' features retro organ and another soaring/dipping vocal, which Barbeau uses a lot. 'When I Was 46 In The Year 13' also has a retro/Cope vibe, but the lyric hints at the consequences of too much "fun". 'Tie My Laces' opens with Tibetan bowls and a clacking rhythm, before a comparatively soft vocal arrives, augmented by Rhodes and more; this is a lovely song, and probably my fave on the album. 'Coffee That Makes The Man Go Mad' is another curious cut (more magic mushrooms here), 'Tell Me' is a kind of pseudo-jazz nightmare, while stately waltztime album closer 'Wave Hello' is definitely retro. A good album, this - a nice combination of sounds and styles, where the not-so-serious is held back just enough to give the work some weight. Nice one. (www.threeminutetease.com)
A man of many styles, albums, friends and genres, Anton Barbeau (yes him again) has not yet dipped his psychedelic feet into electronica, but on "Antronica" he does just that - clubbing in Berlin perhaps the inspiration. In a wry twist, the listener is invited to file under: unpopular. The opening cut is indeed 'Clubbing In Berlin,' which takes a metronomic rhythm and adds downbeat, half sung half spoken vocals, then adds luscious synth sounds on top and a violin solo that shouts "Simon House!" Samples and weirdness add to the electro-feel. On 'Gözleme' the sound is immediately Gary Numan, recalling that man's late 1970s triumphs, though the synths themselves hint at Kraftwerk. 'Magic Duck' ("Magic duck, quack quack") is lighter, with wacky synths and a softer vocal; the samples are variously vocals and drum machines, and again the accompanying synths have a simple, often plangent sound. 'Dust Beneath My Wings' is more of a serious affair, where Barbeau's great voice has plenty of room to fly and emote; good tune, too. The brief 'Ginger Space Fade' matches loops and glitchy synths with other sound sources, while 'The Girl, America' takes more retro drum machines and bass sounds, but here the vocal has more balls. 'Psychedelic Mynde Of Moses' is a version of Barbeau's song from the album of the same name; it's acid, though with a light touch. You could imagine the Human League trying this out. 'Thanks For Lifting My Leg' is a bit of a stomper - hints of early Depeche Mode - while 'Dust Beneath My Dub' brings in multiple layers of vocals, to great effect, and the bass and accompanying string samples are also very effective. The album closes with 'Trouble Was Born,' which takes a pattering drum rhythm, a walking bass and a heavily EQ'd vocal sound to attempt a song of E-A-B retrosity; not entirely successful, it has to be said. Overall however the album is really good, with the songs and sounds working well together. Barbeau's fans (of whom I am one) will certainly want to check this out. (www.antonbarbeau.com)
"Roadskill - Live In The Netherlands" by long-time prog band Landmarq is a live album culled from the band's 2013 tour, and it stands as a summation of their lengthy career. The band retain two of their original members, guitarist Uwe D'Rose and bassist Steve Gee, with the addition of noted vocalist Tracy Hitchings, whose supple and powerful voice does justice to all the songs here presented. Opener 'Turbulence' features a soaring vocal above nicely judged instrumentation. The sound is progressive in the way all progressive rock is, but not overly so, as with some bands who perhaps took it all too far (Marillion, I'm looking at you). Other standout tracks include the fourteen minute 'Thunderstruck' and the final track 'Entertaining Angels,' which has particularly fine synths from keyboards man and album producer Mike Varty, but also terrific guitar from Uwe D'Rose. But it is Tracy Hitchings' voice which carries the music overall, I think. Prog fans will love this one. The accompanying DVD features songs and a band interview. (www.landmarq.net)
The late Ben Brain wrote the music for hard-gigging Midlands band Quill, whose album "Brush With The Moon" is a tribute to the man. Ben's widow Joy Strachan-Brain and many others perfomed a labour of love to make the demos of the songs here come to life, with a large cast of musicians, including Bev Bevan and noted guitarist Tony Kelsey. Joy's voice recalls Christine McVie in tone and timbre, but there are also hints of 2015 Annie Haslam in some of the higher notes. Openers 'Quicksilver' and 'Tumbling Years' are both very strong, with the accent on the vocals. 'Schoolyard' is a song of nostalgia with a lovely chorus melody, while 'Poppy Fields' ramps up the folk elements that this band has always had. 'Nine Mile Camp' opens and closes with an evocative narration before heading off into a progressive styled First Nation song of multifarious vocals - an album highlight for sure, where all the vocals work really well. 'England' celebrates the land and country, while 'Wedding Dress' is a slow and rather melancholy cut. 'Man In White' closes the album with a song that employs spoken word and sound as well as music to get across its message about 9/11. This band have a good following, all of whom will want the album. It stands as a fine testament to Ben Brain's music. (www.quilluk.com)
Karnataka make big sound, big concept orchestrally fuelled progressive rock on their superb album "Secrets Of Angels," which does that difficult trick of matching rock to large-scale, sumptuous arrangements. On the opener 'Road To Cairo' the dual vocals of Hayley Griffiths soar over a largely keyboard/orchestra backing, though there are guitars in there too. The sound is big and full, but manages to steer clear of mud and baroque overdoing it. Cagn Tozluoglu's orchestrations are excellent. 'Because Of You' again features the orchestra, with the metal guitars slightly more apparent, and a piano taking much of the keyboard work; good tune too, which reminded me of some of Renaissance's work. 'Poison Ivy' takes the formula not much further, but 'Forbidden Dreams' has more variety to it, from the delicate opening through the rockier chorus. 'Borderline' is straight rock (works well), while 'Feels Like Home' has hints of Celtic lands in its instrumentation. Album closer 'Secrets Of Angels' also takes the listener to a Celtic landscape, here echoing some of the work of Loreena McKennitt. The quiet/loud dynamics grate just a little at times, but overall this is a very good album indeed. (www.karnataka.org.uk)
"Revolutions" by The Liquid Scene takes the late 1960s West Coast scene and updates it with great songs and less of a studied and obviously retro instrumentation than some bands. Vocalist Becki Digregorio (who also plays sitar and dilruba, for which, respect!) has a strong, confident voice and there's lots of excellent plank spanking from Tom Ayres. Opener 'The Other Side Of The Sun' is bright and breezy, 'Letterbox' is slow and more acoustic, 'The Mystery Machine' features a strongly Indian vibe to excellent effect - an album highlight without doubt, and beautifully recorded and mixed - while 'The Mad Potter Of Biloxi' has a catchy guitar riff, and more. 'Leave Me Here' has more excellent guitar/stringed instrument mixes (another album highlight, methinks), while 'Love Was Here' imagines the growth of friendship, with particularly good backing vocals. 'Hey Moondog' takes the guitar riff and chords of 'Dear Prudence' but plays it into a different song, while 'In My Water Room' is Indo-heavy and wonderful. This is one of the strongest and most enjoyable retro albums I've heard for quite some time. Groovy psych-heads will love it. Highly recommended! (www.theliquidscene.com)
"Silverfade," the fourth album by The Dreaming Tree, is a mix of indie and prog grooves, with vocals up in the mix and a drums/bass/guitar format, albeit with synth leavenings. 'Yesterday's Tomorrow' opens the album with some odd time signatures but a cohesive feel, due in no small part to Dan Jones' guitars. Metal textures continue in 'Heart Shaped Bruises,' which is similarly fast paced, but 'Yours To Find' is slower, loping along in further prog time signatures (6/8, 7/8 - sweet!). Female backing vocals add more to the sound - a nice touch. 'Cherry Winters' is a slow paced shuffle of a track, while 'Higgs' wouldn't be out of place in a real heavy metal environment (not least because of the drum sound). The album ends with 'Every Minute Lost' which takes a descending chord sequence further into prog/metal territory. There's enough variety to make this a good listen, while hardline metal freaks won't, I suspect, be put off. (www.thedreamingtree.co.uk)
The news that legendary musician John Wetton had been diagnosed with cancer (coming so soon after Chris Squire's diagnosis and sudden death, for which RIP...) made the first half of 2015 even worse than it already had been - losing Daevid Allen and Edgar Froese, amongst others. So it is good to have a couple of the man's recent recordings, including the live "New York Minute" with The Les Paul Trio, which in fact was a cancer benefit concert. On this album Wetton sings a few classic cover versions, kicking off with Steely Dan's stone cold classic 'Do It Again,' which he sings with gusto. Further classics from his personal treasure trove include 'What's Going On?' 'God Only Knows' ("black and white turned into colour" - great description), Steve Winwood's 'Can't Find My Way Home,' and a wonderfully jazzy, funky version of 'All Along The Watchtower.' The title track is suitably mellow, while his version of 'Lady Madonna' pushes the right buttons. An Asia cut and Wetton's own 'Battle Lines' conclude the album. Maximum entertainment!
"Anthology - The Studio Recordings" meanwhile is a double CD set of collected works from Wetton's solo career, from his first solo album "Caught In The Crossfire" to his most recent. The songs, collaborations and overall feel speak of Wetton's time in America and (perhaps - I'm not an Asia fan) of his work with Geoff Downes. Certainly on tracks like 'Hold Me Now' you can hear the US direction rather than the UK. The songs from his outstanding and highly regarded work "Battle Lines" all stand out amidst others, while 'Woman' has a curiously mid-countries sound, though it is a fine melody. A comprehensive package for Wetton fans, of which there are many. (www.johnwetton.com)
Thanks for those Steve, now Andrew Young will take over for a while, carry on Andrew.
First up is the first solo record from Andrew Hawkey for 32 years (www.andrew-hawkey-musicology), " What Did I Come Up Here For".
Andrew lives in deepest rural Wales and this is a return to his acoustic roots. Sentimental and reflective in nature, (he is 72 after all) the album is a joy with organ, piano, slide guitar, harp and mandolin as the main instruments, the songs concern the passing of time and a love of his rural locale.
Jeb Loy Nichols helped design the booklet and there also some fine photos from Welsh photographer Anthony Griffiths. This may not be typical Terrascope fare, however it is a real delight, mostly singer songwriter folk with one live Blues song. Highlights are the lovely gentle "Apple green", "No shadow" an old song from the rare as hens teeth EP produced incidentally by his old friend Nigel Mazlyn Jones, and "Wild Flowers" which features gorgeous harp and backing vocals from Wales's premier player Sian James, with a running time of nearly an hour its a fine record indeed.
Next up we have "Steer By The Stars" by Telling The Bees (www.tellingthebees.co.uk).
The third album by Andy Lechter's band with excellent artwork by Rima Staines over a full eight panels. "A Puppeteer Came To Town" is the strong opener with tales of Old Mr Punch corrupting the local children, instrumentation is in the Electric Folk vein, Concertina, English Bagpipes, Electric bass, Fiddles and Viola with a bit of assorted percussion move things along nicely, I can imagine this lot going down a storm on the festival circuit with Jigs, Reels and Aires a plenty, you can practically taste the cider! Sometimes the vocals are a bit too forceful but there are some great songs here, favourites are the aforementioned opener, "Astrolabe" is stunning as is "One More Mazurka".It's been three years in the making and is self released, this is their third record and on the strength of it I can see plenty more, songs concerning Hares, Stars, Moons, Blackbirds nesting in someones hair and the Padstow 'Obby Oss' should give some indication of the flavour of this fine record. All the songs are written by Andy Lechter except the Swedish trad song "The Oxberg March" . The playing is top notch a great mix of wistful and forceful, it's a delight.
On to the new record by Trembling Bells "The Sovereign Self" (www.tremblingbells.co.uk) and named after a line from Dennis Potter. This record is a lot darker than the previous ones with a distinct proggy flavour and far more Psychedelic in nature, the cover has pictures of Ovid, Lou Reed, Emily Dickenson and Aeschylus amongst others ,all painted by vocalist Lavinia Blackwall, Indeed the vocals are now shared a lot more with the other members with a fine mix of both male and female.
They have been out touring with Mike Heron (from the Incredibles) recently, performing both on his sets and their own increasing body of work. Formed in 2008 and based in Glasgow this is their sixth release and for me the best one yet , it's a dense swirling stew of influences which encompass the last 30,000 years of civilisation and is at turns hallucinatory and tender, twin guitars really mesh and fill out the spaces on epic tunes such as "Killing Time In London Fields", "The Singing Blood" "'Tween The Womb And The Tomb" and "Sweet Death Polka". Instrumentation include guitar, organ, glockenspiel, guitar, percussion, whistle and yet more guitar, this release should propel them in to the major league, they show no signs of slowing down with solo records and even a project of traditional folk tunes with comedian Stewart Lee in the planning encompassing everything from Acid folk wig-outs to great swirling knotty prog rock epics, ending in the six minute organ driven "Is Someone Else", buy on sight, again highly recommended.
Chris Wade aka Dodson and Fogg "In A Strange Slumber " www.wisdomtwins.weebly.com" continues his prolific career with a sort of concept record featuring Nigel Planer, Celia Humphries, Kevin Scott, Alison O'Donnell and Ricky Romain with Chris playing everything but the kitchen sink.
This record centres around dreams and death and is a prog- folk delight, strong songs with some tasty fuzz guitar throughout the proceedings, beautifully recorded with plenty of space to really frame the stories, instrumentation include mandolins, sitar, organ, Piano, guitar and trumpet with plenty of multi tracked acoustics and vocals, could be his strongest yet. standout tracks for me are "When You Were Young", "In a Strange Slumber", "Never Be Alone" and "A Day In Your Life" all shot through with a woozy Psychedelia.
This is a thoroughly English sounding record, a couple of the tracks are narrated by Nigel Planer "Entrepeneur In The Garden" concerning a yuppie businessman going about his business in the garden shed and "Clunes The Gravedigger", replete with vinyl crackles, even though this is a digital record ! It really is very accomplished and he should be a national treasure, with hints of Marc Bolan, Syd Barrett, Viv Stanshall and the writings of Lewis Carroll you get the picture, the trumpet on a couple the songs bring to mind "Forever Changes ".
The record starts with a Mandolin Reel and ends on the beautiful "A Sweet And Strange Surprise", all in all it is one of the best English psych records I have heard in a long while, this one is on CD but I am fairly sure that it will make it's way on to vinyl in the not too distant future, which I feel would be the perfect medium for its timeless charms that evoke the bucolic feel of a hazy lazy summers day, the sitar emphasises this dream like state of mind..a psychedelic afternoon tea in the garden.
Time to cross over the ocean now to Saskatoon, Canada and Dumb Angel "Broken Angel". released on Clamour records, www.dumbangelmusic.com. Essentially the band of Shaun Mason and the follow up to 2012's great "Eight Moments Of Spring" , tagged as folk rock but to me it's drifting Canadiana ( sic), shot through with cosmic pedal steel, beautiful harmonies and multi layered guitars.
It is a fine windswept record of Laurel Canyonesque beauty, a touchstone would be Jonathan Wilson, mostly I hear echoes of the Pernice Bros or the Scud Mountain Boys and Thom Monahans productions . This has been on the stereo lots this summer and is wonderful, if you like any of the artists mentioned then you will love this, standout tracks are "Hopelessly lost", "Wind On The Water", "Sometimes When I Am alone" but really all the tracks are fine and follow each other in one seamless drifting brew of cosmic Americana .
Perfect for those drifting, hazy summer days , throw the windows open and let the tight soft harmonies envelope you, its an unhurried joy and perfect summers listening, its a joy let it wash over you and revel in its soft wide screen beauty, delightful.
Up next is a blistering rock record that does not let up much for its duration, the brain child of engineer/guitarist John Axtell, here we have Bread And Circus with "Born Again Again" www.breadandcircusmusic.com on Slowburn records out of Arizona. This starts about 9 and goes to 11, to use a spinal tap measure.
Straight out of the gates we get guitars that swagger and bluster, great waves of crunching guitar riffs , pounding drums, molten lead guitar, passionate vocals and thats just the first track, followed swiftly by the great slab of heartland rifferama that's "The Wishing Tree", things settle down a little for track three "The La La Song" with hints of classic era Clash on the vocals. The Twin lead guitars of Eric Johnson and Jeff Kleusener guitars often dominate the songs but it's fine as that's what they need. Instruments include piano, guitar,bass and drums with the occasional keyboard.
Standout tracks are the aforementioned "The Wishing Tree", plus "Carol Of Bells", "Scarecrow" and "Loretta". "You Were In Love" offers a bit of a respite with its lilting organ but still shot through with some superb lead guitar filling in the spaces, if you like guitars then you would do well to invest in this record , think classic Stones, Replacements etc.... phew I need a lie down.
Next up is Sunderata "Language Of The Stars", www.slowburnrecords.net. Formed from members of The Infinite Beauties and Black Sun Ensemble a sort of super group that touch on the styles of music by Athens group REM, Arizona's The Meat Puppets and Camper Van Beethoven to name a few, I suppose Desert Rock would be a good description continuing the kind of sounds made by Thin White Rope and Giant Sand.
Following on from the death of the Infinite Beauties guitarist Jesus Acedo, Eric convened the remaining members and entered the Tucson, Arizona studios of SlowBurn to create this fine offering, its classic Rock and Roll, blasting out of the sun baked Arizona Desert, parched heartland rock, highlights are "Language Of The Stars" the Mandolin driven "Morning , "Electromagnetic" and "Arms Spread To The wind".It ends with a track of radio conversations enveloped in a swathe of phased sound all blending together into the ether, Instruments include guitars, mandolin, drums, bass, organ, harmonica and leaves ! Ragged in places, swaggering in others, its a varied release and recommended for lovers of so called Desert Rock.
Thank you gentlemen. To round off, a few things that have caught my ears recently including “Periscopes In The Air”, a sweetly melodic collection of songs from Golden Eels, their music sounding like a cross between Pavement, Super Furry Animals or an Elephant 6 band, the whole thing containing some beautifully written songs that are inventive and catchy with a bright production that shines out. Opening song “Bathtub” has some infectious and lively guitar work that keeps you guessing whilst “Hi” has a more keyboard orientated feel to it, the two tunes highlighting the two sides of the band. Further in “Jezebel” has some great lyrics married to a delightful melody, one of my favourites, whilst “Fools” has waves of slide guitar that give the song a southern rock / Americana feel. Having a Psych edge, “Real Y'Know” has plenty of punch before “Stay In Touch” slows things down. To end a lovely album “Ancient Knowledge” begins in a soft and gentle way, reminding of the Beach Boys, and remains that way leading us out in a relaxed manner. With all songs written by Neil Golden there is a cohesive quality to this collection that makes it stand out, an album I have played a lot recently. (http://goldeneels.com/)
Next up a brace of albums from Elektrohasch our favourite Stoner/Rock/heavy label with Public Animal kicking things of with the seventies rock groove of “Habitat Animal”, an eight track collection of high energy rock complete with plenty of guitar solos, great organ work and a solid rhythm section. As usual it is the riffs that matter and this album has plenty all topped of with male/female vocals and plenty of attitude. After the solid start of “Automatic Ammunition” the album clicks up a notch with “I Ain't Gonna Live” a peach of a riff punching through the air, the heaviness sweetened by the vocals, the whole thing getting men of a certain age dusting off those air guitars they have stored so carefully for just such an occasion. With organ to the fore “Careful” still rocks hard in a Purple kinda way, whilst “Process of Progress” is one of those slow burning epics, acoustic guitar intro followed by punchy guitar and plenty of keyboards and complex riffing, fans of heavy prog should enjoy this one. With the band retaining the sound throughout the album there are few surprises on this collection but with a few beers and plenty of volume it works just fine.
With a heavy Psychedelic vibe, The Machine waste no time to head for space on “Offblast!” their latest album with opening track “Chrysalis” featuring some storming guitar work that reminds me of The Outskirts of Infinity or Sundial, the tune a fifteen minute jam that hits the sweet spot, including that swirling slow section in the middle. Much shorter, “Dry End” has one of those Hawkwind meets Sabbath riffs, whilst “Off Course” swaps the monolith riffing for something that sounds more modern but still fits into the overall scheme. To end “Come To Light” is another twelve minute epic taking us back to early seventies Floyd with plenty of guitar work to enjoy, just light a joss stick and drift. (http://www.elektrohasch.de/)
Covering tunes by The Beatles seems to be a risky business to me, they are so well known (and generally loved) that you need to do something magical to make them your own. Well, I am pleased to say that Marianne Nowottny and the Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra have managed to do just that on their lovely green vinyl single with “Tomorrow never Knows” remaining suitably Psychedelic, the five saxophonists creating an amazing range of tones and textures, percussion/drums adding rhythm and Marianne's excellent vocals rounding of a fine version of the tune. On the other side “Strawberry Fields Forever” gets the same treatment the lysergic cloak still present as the band make the song their own for a few minutes sounding like a brass band lead by a pot-head pixie quite probably under a full moon, great stuff and it gets better every listen, comes with a lovely poster too. (http://www.abatonbookcompany.com/)
Pressed on classic black vinyl, The Optic Nerve hark back to those care-free sixties days on “Penelope Tuesday” a sweet and delightful jangle of Psych-Pop happiness. Fans of The beatles will love it,catchy, well played and filled with sunshine. On the other side, “Here To Stay” has a more West-Coast vibe, a moodier affair that floats like a melancholic autumn mist across the room. Quite possibly a perfect single. (http://staterecs.com/)
Sticking with the sixties inspired seven inchers for a while we turn to a trio of releases from Market Square Records the first of which finds Paul Messis showing some garage attitude on “The Blind Leading the Blind” a tune which mixes fuzz and jangle to great effect, the angry lyrics echoed by the distortion whilst the jangles adds a pop sparkle. This sparkle is more clearly heard on the Early Stones feel of “As Time Rolls By” a fine tune that will get you singing along. More gnarly, the primitive Garage of The Wrong Society sounds magnificent to my ears with the stomp of “She Destroyed Me” sounding like it came from an obscure Pebbles compilation, all fuzz and organ with the usual lyrical themes of betrayal and anger, brilliant. Not quite as good, but almost, “Without You” is a slower affair about doomed love (what else?) that comes from that same obscure compilation. Finally, Worthless have a more psychedelic styles on the slow groove of “Children of the Grave” (not the Sabbath song) the tune filled with effects, moody vocals and unexpected twists and turns, sounding unlike anyone else I can think of. On the other side “Softest” is even stranger, a swirling of sound that seems about to fall to pieces at any moment, yet remains melodic, weird but it works. (https://marketsquarerecordings.bandcamp.com/)
Moving on a decade, stylistically at least, we find Brinsley Schwarz playing some great pub-rock on “Live Favourites” a recording of a gig in Cardiff on June 19th 1974. With hints of Country, Blues, Boogie and Rock and Roll, the band are obviously having fun as they power through 14 numbers, including great versions of 'Country Girl", “Trying to Live My Life Without You”, “What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding”, "You're So Fine" and “Ju Ju Man”. With some excellent playing, fine harmonies and a good mix, this is one for digging out on a saturday night, rolling back the carpet and dancing around the living room, now where did I put the Watneys. Only available on vinyl,which seems appropriate, and limited to 250 copies. Released on 14th October. Copies come complete with two Brinsley Schwarz stickers for your satchel or whatever plus a selection of postcards, one each of Nick Lowe, Bob Andrews, Ian Gomm, Billy Rankin and of course Brinsley Schwarz himself. (http://megadodo.bandcamp.com/album/live-favourites)
As we all know Pub-Rock paved the way for the UK Punk scene, many of the musicians swapping allegiance overnight, ditching the saxophones and covers for something more vitriolic. Recorded in 1978 in Germany, The Boomtown Rats sound not a million miles away from Brinsley Schwartz with plenty of melody to be found amongst the noisy guitars and pub piano. It is the energy levels that have been raised though, the band young and hungry and playing their heart out. Over the course of 13 songs the band play all their early hits including a storming version of “She's So Modern” and the classic “Mary of the 4th Form”. Ragged, glorious and totally rock and roll however you want to dress it up. Nicely packaged “Live Germany '78” also contains a dvd of the gig plus a replica of the bands tour info/contract and rider. (http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk/)
From the same company comes “Revived”an album which finds Mick Abrahams and friends covering some classic blues R'N'B tunes plus some original song. Best known for his work with Blodwyn Pig Mick is a tasteful and melodic guitarist as can be heard on the on the solo from “Summer Day” a bluesy original that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Elsewhere there are covers of “Poison Ivy”, “I'm a Hog for You” and “Nadine”, all played with plenty of energy and a sense of fun. With friends including Paul Jones, Bill Wyman, Martin Barre and Geoff Whitehorn you know the playing is gonna be top notch, which it is and this is a very enjoyable collection that doesn't take itself too seriously, just turn it up and enjoy.
Hailing from Cardiff Railroad Bill are a genuine skiffle group with a modern twist and some great songs. On “Pigs Might Fly” the band sound like Chas and Dave, Hayseed Dixie, The Singing Loins or Darren Hayman, mixing acoustic instrument with sharp lyrics, plenty of energy, some slower numbers and emotion a-plenty. Perfect party music on a summers evening, there is more to the band than the toe-tappers with beautiful songs such as “Journeyman” displaying a mature songwriting style whilst the title track is a fine Cockney knees-up. Elsewhere, Do You Love Me Annabelle, has a hint of the Pogues, with some great playing and “Don't Let the Black Dog Bring You Down” has A Mariachi style adding to the variety the whole album oodles of fun and easy to sing along to. (http://www.skiffle.co.uk/)
Well this edition of Rumbles seems to be lurching all over the place as our favourite punk band The Destructors remain both noisy and political on “Politika 2”, the band sounding particularly good this time around with a fucked up garage sound running through the songs with some top-notch riffs such as the Detroit crunch of “Freedom” which sets the bar early on. Following on “Pleb” is much faster yet maintains variation and needs turning up. Over 12 songs there is plenty to enjoy, if you like this kinda thing, with “Revolution Time” being a short sharp slice of thrash punk whilst “This Is England” is perfectly cynical and gets my vote as the best tune on the disc. Not breaking new ground, but keeping the old ground well maintained and more power to them. (http://www.destructors.co.uk/)
Having had the cobwebs blown away it is time to find some autumnal mellowness as we get lost in the beautiful songs of Bjorn Kleinhenz whose four track EP “Battles Long Lost” is one of those albums that gives you time to breathe, let the world drift away for a while. On the title track there is a delicate balance to the music, the softness blended with a tension in the music as if it is about to explode in a Neil Young kinda way and, in fact, it does with a distorted solo that crawls all over the melodies sounding very much like Mr Young, something that elevates the track a notch or two. Remaining regal and staying just the right side of cheesy, “Before the Ride” is just a lovely song that leads perfectly into “The Nothingness of Day” a haunting slow song filled with emotion and hypnotic playing, the music dragging you in to listen more intently. Finally “The Straight and the Narrow” sounds like mid-period REM covering a classic Neil Young tune quality shinning through although it perhaps lacks the fiery solo that graced the first tune. Available on ten inch as well as those digital formats this is a lovely way to spend twenty minutes and I would love to hear some more. (https://jellyfant.wordpress.com/releases/)
Sounding like an obscure artist from Village Thing, Mick Stannard makes all the right moves on “Uninvisibleness” his latest release that was recorded at home on a Tascam 8-track, that process giving the album a simplicity and tone that completely suits the music within. Opening song “Time of my Life” is an intimate song that is filled with gentle textures and a great poignancy, the lyrics perfectly balanced with the soft melodies. With a similar vocal style to Kevin Ayers “The Wind of Change” is another great song with more guitar interplay that lets the music ring out giving the song a quiet vibrancy, whilst “A Voyage To The Moon” would definitely sounds like a Kevin Ayers if it had a full band behind it, one of my favourites. Adding keyboards to the mix, “I Live, I Die, I Celebrate” widens the album's palette, adding new tones and textures, whilst “The Last Train Home” is a gentle world-weary waltz, the lyrics not depressing but definitely accepting that maybe that life isn't actually gonna get much better than this, a sentiment that seems to permeate the whole album although you still get the feeling that life is good as well, at least sometimes. (https://www.facebook.com/mick.stannard.1)
Slightly more upbeat, “Worn Out Skin” is a collection of Folk-Pop tunes that soar with sweet harmonies, melodies that get caught under the skin and plenty of acoustic instruments that provide texture and variety, the whole thing created by Annabelle's Curse, a five-piece from Tennesee/Virginia. Over ten songs there is a richness to the music, some lush instrumentation filling out songs that are vibrant and awash with colour. Highlights include the sweet melodies of “Rich Valley, the Simon and Garfunkel influenced “Wolf In Sheep's Clothing” and the lovely tale of “Skinnydipping” a nostalgic tune that makes you smile. Not likely to break new ground or change the course of musical history this is a bright and optimistic collection of great tunes and sometimes that is exactly what you need. (http://www.annabellescurse.com/)
Sticking with the melodic for a while longer The Inexperienced, have jangle a-plenty on “Too Inexperienced” their second album. Opener “Something to Sing” has a great hook and fine guitar work throughout, whilst “Microwaving” has some synth lines running through its moody heart to great effect. With shades of SFA and The Hollies to be found, the album is strong all the way through, the collection ending with the energetic “Curl One Off” which has a funky bass, brass and recorders sounding like a British take on a seventies cop show, weird but it works. (http://www.pinkhedgehog.com/)
Doing the post-rock thing with great aplomb Capri Batterie manage to sound like a grunge version of Beefheart on their self titled EP. Noisy, sometimes complex and always listenable the guitar/drum duo make a glorious racket over five tunes with the nine minutes of “The Err” being the standout moment, a slow, heavy number tha creeps and crawls like some forgotten Japanese monster it's anger slowly rising as it approaches the city that created then rejected it long ago. Play at volume and enjoy. (https://capri-batterie.bandcamp.com/releases)
Managing to sound dreamy and Gothic at the same time Thayer Sarrano creates a beguiling and ghostly sound on “Shaky” an album that takes a few listens to really appreciate. Over ten songs there are shades of Shoegaze, Country and Post-Rock to be found with plenty of sleazy guitar as well, the whole sounding like it was recorded in a swamp with plenty of moonshine to hand. Favourites include the excellent title track which sums up all that id good about the album, the foggy beauty of “A Quiet State of Panic” which is almost a country ballad and the voodoo charms of “Lost Art” vocals and steel guitar writhing together over seductive rhythms. Finally, “Hide My Health” is a bitter-sweet tune that strongly reminds me of Galaxie 500 in its understated splendour.(http://www.thayersarrano.com/)
Experimental, harsh and droney, Quisling Meet crerate the sounds of dysfunctional machines on “Gig @ the Electricity Station party HQ” a collection of nine pieces that challenge your ears, the sounds of a building site, distorted vocals and general chaos to be found within.After the dischordance of “Brave New World” there is a kind of simplicity to the experimentation of “Free the Royal Duchy Two” guitar and bass trying hard to avoid any sense of conventional structure -, a nagging beep suggesting the track is reversing. Further in “Rediscover traction Coil” is almost a conventional tune, in a Butthole Surfers world anyway, a distorted guitar riff and drums holding the song together, just about anyway, the whole thing rounded off by “Opine the Derth Sequel” a chiming slice of psychedelic freakout that leads you out on a high, sounding like something from the Jewelled Antler Collective. (https://quislingmeet.bandcamp.com/track/rediscover-traction-coil) Arriving at the same time, was “Signal Dropout” a similar collection by, I am assuming, the same musicians. However I am finding it difficult to track it down on the web and the disc now tells me it is not finalised, sorry about that, I would contact you but am having trouble reading the e-mail address you put on the letter.
It has taken me so long to write this edition of Rumbles that the reasonably prolific Steve Palmer has managed to plough through the next batch I sent him, cheers for that Steve and thanks to everyone for reading all of this.
Lay Llamas are futuristic sonic adventurers whose "Space Jungle Mantra" album is a recording of a live gig from summer 2014, here presented as a limited edition CD and download. Opening with ethnic soundscapes and tribal rock drumming, the music winds its gorgeous way through Gong-esque ambient interludes and more structured (albeit improvised) rock passages. Lovely stuff - one thinks of the early Ozrics albums merged with some of the 1990s Delerium Records acts (Dead Flowers, maybe). 'Archaic Revival' channels Hawkwind via Hidria Spacefolk, while 'Spiritual Expedition/Something Wrong' returns the listener to trippier shores. 'We Are You' is the most Gong-like of the cuts here. The album concludes with a special remix taken from the multi track live masters, a remix done by Luca Giovanardi - trippier than thou, full of sonic twists and turns, with percussion and backwardsalia to the max. Fine space music for space heads. (www.4zerorecords.co.uk)
Also somewhat spacey is "The Lost Album" by Seattle-based purveyors of psychedelic songs Half Light, whose assault on the listener's ears begins with the churning, riff-laden 'You Love Wrong': vocals drenched in reverb, lots of guitars, and a pretty heavy vibe. 'Slo' is more traditional in form and sound, with some excellent fluid guitar lines weaving in and out of the vocals; this one has a distinct late '60s West coast vibe in the vocal harmonies and such. Great track. 'Wasting Time' is slower and goes for the dream-pop sound, while 'My First World Problems' is pretty catchy, with many guitar lines and synth/cello sounds also there - an album highlight. 'Nowhere Girl' stands out for its Julian Cope-like sound, but 'Gemini Mine' is a return to the dream-pop vibe, with lots of effects on the half sung, half whispered vocals. 'Planet Caravan' is a Black Sabbath cover. Good songs and feel, for fans of psychedelia who stray into the wispily reverbed groups on Saint Marie Records. (www.halflightmusic.net)
The songs on "Cape Snow" by Cape Snow are a collaboration between singer/writer Bree Scanlon and a band from the opposite side of America. Opening with the gloriously sultry 'All Is Gold,' which is full of atmosphere, the songs are all fairly slow in tempo, with the accent on Bree Scanlon's heartfelt vocals. 'One More Time' has a bit of a country feel, helped along by its waltztime tempo, while 'Flesh And Blood' is more overtly country, with mournful slide/laptop and a nice Rhodes tinkling away. 'Amazing' focuses almost entirely on Bree Scanlon's voice and lyrics, to great effect. 'Swoon' is another slow 3/4 track - you can imagine it being played in some distant American venue very late at night - while 'Never Let Go' is similar in tempo and time signature, yet which packs a tougher punch in sound, especially the drums. All good listening. Subsequent listens show this album to be a real grower, and quite enchanting in places. Definitely recommended. (www.burstandbloomrecords.com)
Stephen Evans of ZX+ presents a curt album of thirteen psych-pop songs harking back to 'seventies times, in sound but also in attitude: hints of glam (Bowie, Bolan) with chunky riffs and banging drums. 'The Crazies' has an infectiously catchy chorus, 'Kurtz' has a manic post-punk sound, 'Something Real' also has a catchy melody (the man can write), while 'Pet Sematary' takes the madness of Anton Barbeau and melds it to another post-punk sprint. 'The Desert' sounds part surf part rockabilly (great guitars on this cut) before heading off into another great tune. 'Just Like That' opens fey and acoustic before going into a slow eerie netherworld. 'The Raven' isn't a Stranglers cover, though its scuzzy guitars bring something of The Buzzcocks to the scene, while 'For Him Or Her' is a curious mixture of shmaltz and descending chord structures. 'Don't Drink The Water' is madly bonkers, thudding drums matched against anthemic synths. Excellent songs and lots of variety make this a really good and enjoyable listen. Terrible cover art, though! (www.facebook.com/zedexplus)
Simon Felton's first two solo albums were poppy and fun, unlike his new one "Emotional Feedback," which I suspect emerged from personal griefs ("File Under: Indie/Sad-Pop"). 'Sympathy No.4' takes a slow, sad song and adds a little bit of sweetness with harmonised vocals. 'Audrey' is a great melody and is a beautifully arranged song, while 'Safe Bet' adds a rolling piano and some bitter lyrics - wishing to build on stronger ground. 'Throw It All Away' is written by Felton's band mate Steve Wilson but takes the same mournful mood, adding luminous backing vocals to the mix. 'Coffee And Lies' is very well sung, despite its slow, lugubrious vibe; more nice backing vocals here too. 'If I Were A Single Girl Again' and 'I Think Therefore I Sleep' flow similarly. Sad music for sad times, yes - but we've all been there. (www.pinkhedgehog.com)
"What Made Him Run" by The Lancashire Hustlers opens with a groovy vibe and some strings mellotron before a gorgeous West Coast (CSN-stylee) pair of vocals hoves into view, courtesy the core duo of the band, Brent Thorley and Ian Pakes. 'For Curiosity' is another very strong song with a terrific vocal, that remind me of people like Stephen Stills and co. 'Cold Storage' evokes late 'sixties Manfred Man with another magical cut, while 'A Moving Target' brings harpsichord and slide guitar to the fray, while the vocals wend and wind in a way that remind me very much of Squeeze. 'Formulas' also has a bit of a Difford/Tilbrook vibe to it, while 'Now My Mind Turns To Amusement' has a tune as strong as the opening ones - and this is track 6! 'A Sunny Interval' goes all seaside and West Coast 1970's, while 'Sales Talk' is whimsical and very British. 'I'm Reckoning Up' hints at the last couple of years of The Beatles and maybe a bit of 10cc, while album closer 'The Flyers' takes more West Coast sun into its melodious maw. This is a tremendous album that all fans of superbly crafted songs will enjoy. Part two of a projected trio of "pop operas," one can only hope this album does well for the duo. Highly recommended. (http://www.lancashirehustlers.com/ )
"Heirloom" by Jesse Payne is a tough, stark listen, steeped in the culture, music and instrumentation of the south eastern quarter of America: Appalachian country, though not entirely. Opening with the heavy heart of 'Ulysses,' the vocals are emotive and high in the mix, with sparse instrumentation behind, though massed vocals and a soaring guitar come in later for further emotional muscle. 'Ravens' take a similar line, with pattering drums and, as the track builds, another strong punch. 'Numerical War' takes the raw guitar so far presented (beautifully recorded) and matches it with a third emotive vocal; the stuttering bass make this more of a foot tapper, ironically. 'Origins' is a weird little track, with whirring organ backing the reverbed vocals and circular guitars. 'Kitty Hawk' (home of the Orville Brothers) also features the spookily whirring organ, this time beneath an acoustic guitar and some plinking percussion, while the vocal tells a tale in a higher, almost hyper-vocal register; drama, plus backing vocals... 'Room Under Rugs' and 'Trenches' seem lugubrious in comparison, with the scratch and banjo pluck of 'Wireless Creature' belieing the intensity of the work as a whole. An album steeped in difficult times. (www.jessepayneonline.com)
Patrick Moraz will be well known to lovers of progressive rock or the world of synthesizers. Already highly regarded for his work with Refugee before he joined Yes and helped make the exceptional "Relayer" album, he then went on to release a series of terrific and much admired solo albums, not least "The Story Of I" in 1976, when all the Yes members released solo albums. Now, with drummer Greg Alban, he has produced a new album of progressive synth tracks entitled "MAP" (Moraz Alban Project). The music is quite jazzy in nature, with the synths to the fore and bass provided either by John Avila or a synth of some description. 'Jungle Aliens' echoes some of those classic mid '70s sounds, and there is a Latin feel on a few tracks, as 'Strictly Organic.' Elsewhere the mood is more restrained, as with the superb closing couple of tracks 'Mumbai-Mantra' and 'Alien Species,' with the former probably the album highlight. Greg Alban is accomplished and does much to provide a percussive foundation. The synth bass is less successful it has to be said, with a regrettably '80s feel. However, fans of this remarkable musician, of whom I am one, won't be disappointed by this album. (www.themap.website)
Also Yes-related is the album "Better Late Than Never" from the AndersonPonty Band, which, as you might guess, was created by Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty. Recorded live in 2014, the album has been created from these recordings with additional studio production. Also on board are musicians that any Jean-Luc Ponty fan (I discovered him in the early 1980s and have been a keen fan ever since) will recognise - Jamie Glaser on guitars (all excellent), Baron Browne on bass (superb) and the one and only Rayford Griffin on drums and percussion (also excellent). The music takes classic tracks by Ponty - 'Mirage,' 'Listening With Me' - and adds words and melodies by Anderson, to great effect. There are also versions of Yes tracks, such as 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart,' 'And You And I' (weirdly sung, but not at all bad) and 'Wondrous Stories.' The version of 'Roundabout' is superb, definitely a highlight. Alas the version of that gorgeous song 'Time & A Word' is ghastly, and may well be the worst thing I've ever heard Jon Anderson do. But at least the listener can skip over that one. A great album with much to enjoy, though it must be said that the decision to remove the audience was maybe a mistake - they can be heard in places, which rather neutralises the "effect" of taking them off. (www.andersonpontyband1.com)
"Thomas Traherne" by Sproatly Smith is perhaps a more ambient, drifty affair than some of the band's earlier albums, but it is no less magical. Opening with the jungle/bird sounds, found sound and synth drones of 'Rise,' the music ambles on into classic psychedelic/bucolic Sproatly territory, with the slightly eerie 'The Apostasy' and the distinctly Indian 'The Second Century,' which features the gorgeous vocals of the band's female singer. 'Douglas Traherne Harding' is a kind of AM radio trippy folk, 'Shadows In The Water' returns the listener to the Sproatly way of adding sound and music to mysterious spoken word, while 'The Vision' is a wonderful Floyd-esque (circa 1970) track. 'Poverty' is another sung song, this time with dulcimer accompaniment amidst the trippery, while 'Rhapsody' is a kind of churchy Sunday trip, with synths and strings - very weird, in the best way of course. 'Meditations' brings more spoken word to a synth backdrop, while album closer 'Walking/Hereford Octaves' is a rather lovely song, sung to guitar, bass and light additions. In classic Sproatly Smith style, this album walks wide-eyed through Herefordshire countryside, seeing the psychedelic without and within. Recommended, as usual. (https://sproatlysmith.bandcamp.com/)
We remain in the delightful county of Herefordshire for the Weirdshire "Beating The Bounds" album, which collects nineteen excellent psychedelic folk, bucolic trip and weirdly uncategorisable songs from the apple-laden county. (This collection is curated by Ian of Sproatly Smith.) The looped vocals and effects of 'Gentle Sisterhood' by Sedayne gets affairs underway before Andrew Skellam's terrific 'Green Moat,' a stripped back song set to acoustic guitar and cello. Other highlights are Alula Down's acoustically chilled 'Hereford Garden Dreaming,' 'The River' by Milkteeth, which adds spoken word to a simply sung folk song, Sproatly Smith's 'The Raven's Song,' the gothic and slightly Kate Bush-esque 'Vampire Lullaby' by Ria (superb song), the terrific guitar vamping of Footdragger's 'Spires To Sticks,' (great song, great voice), Elspeth Anne's very trippy folk song 'Liars,' and Ledbury stalwarts Heed The Thunder's 'Green Man.' A super collection of music from a great locality. As album notes commentator Phil Rickman observes, it's that sense of Otherness that attracts the listener... (https://sproatlysmith.bandcamp.com/ )
The Shifting Sands make fuzzy, hazy pop-rock on their album "Cosmic Radio Station," which opens with a West Coast-influenced arpeggiated stomper 'Waiting For The Sun' : harmony vocals and chiming backing guitars, with full band backing. 'All The Stars' is a kind of upbeat shoegaze (is there such a thing?) with a lovely strings and harmony backing vocal accompaniment - very nice. 'Making It Through' returns the listener to the shoegaze vibe (vocals not quite so high in the mix here), while 'Whareakeake' is a paeon to the band's place of recording, with more nice violin accompaniment. 'Abstract Objects' and 'Radio Silence' conclude the album with a more uptempo /less uptempo song, with 'Abstract Objects' a good melody and vibe. Overall, a nice addition to the fuzzy song canon. (www.fishriderrecords.com)
"A Funnel Cloud In Albuquerque" by The Magic City Trio is a collection of Americana songs with twinned male/female vocals, all on a compact EP. The opener is the title track, bright and sassy, and telling a tale of unlikely redemption. Trumpets and twangy guitar add much to the mix. 'A Prayer For Hope And Happy Times' brings Mariachi trumpets to another melancholic tale (blues and lies), while 'The Lone Pilgrim' is slower, with massed ranks of singing. I have to say, though this is quite far from my usual listening, it's pretty irresistible. (http:the-magic-city-trio.com/)
Daniel Wylie was the main man behind one of the best debut albums of recent times, "Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine" by Cosmic Rough Riders. He departed soon after the band's success to follow a solo career, but he's back now as Daniel Wylie's Cosmic Rough Riders with a fantastic new offering for his many fans, called "Chrome Cassettes." The melody quotient is high, and there are chiming guitars, harmony vocals, and other backing vocals, all in great style. Opening with the tuneworthy 'Yesterday's A Waste Of Time,' it sure is great to have Wylie's distinctive voice back. 'A Beautiful Sunrise' is perhaps the album highlight, for me anyway, telling a tale of philosophy to a backing of acoustic guitars and more: "Mother nature blew my mind" - fantastic. 'I'm Out Of My Mind' is another terrific tune (this is a man obsessed by melody, so that ticks the main box for me), while 'Misty Dreamer' is a bit slower and more melancholic. 'Dark Forest' returns to acoustic guitars in a waltztime style, with a song hinting at folk melodies, though this is of course an original. 'You're Predictable' is rocky and ballsy, 'Another Wasted Day' brings classic chiming Rickenbackers to the fray in what is the album's most obviously Byrds-esque song, while 'Some Great Messages' is hippy-ish and charming. 'Follow You Home' brings Leslie amps and a softer singing style, while album closer 'I Should Disappear' is another gorgeous melody, and a terrific, half-psychedelic half-folk production. For fans of great songwriting this should be at the top of your wants list. A vinyl edition is expected in the months to come. Highly recommended.
Terrascopic Rumbles for January was brought to you by Simon Lewis, Andrew Young and Steve Palmer. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2015