Friday, 17 September 2021

Novelty Island - How Are You Coping With This Century?

Released: 15 Oct 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here

Novelty Island is the work of Liverpool songwriter and producer - Tom McConnell. This is his debut album and it is full of wonderfully jangly Beatles-inspired pop goodness.   

It opens with 'This Bird' which sounds like it could easily be a lost Paul McCartney song. The chorus is superbly melodic and catchy, recalling the bygone era of the 60s, when it was all about the songs.

'Cowboy on a Bicycle' is a quirky song about a Cowboy who has lost his horse. It has vaguely Country vibes and brilliantly inventive lyrics. - "I just had a fight with a disagreeable Volcano who'd seen my horse out of town."

'Jangleheart' is my favourite here - and is as gloriously jangly as the title suggests, with Byrds vibes. The way the chorus builds up, also brought to mind Teenage Fanclub, and the song has so much charm, just as theirs do.

Other highlights include 'Listen' which is more laid-back and melancholic. It is well produced with trumpets and piano, recalling later Beatles. 'I'll Sleep in April' is more brilliantly memorable pop with hints of electronic and some impressive harmonies.

A superb debut full of well-written songs and lovely melodies. Highly recommended for 60s guitar pop fans.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

The Treasures of Mexico - Always The Shadows

Released: 27 Aug 2021
Label: Spinout Nuggets
Listen and Buy Here

Medway indie pop band The Treasures of Mexico are back with a new single. I have been aware of this band for a while as it consists of members of The Dentists, who were a superb indie/psych pop band. If you aren't familiar with them you should probably check out the song - 'Strawberries are Growing in my Garden (and its Winter time)'.   

The new song has hazy Summery vibes. It is a fine example of anthemic guitar pop. It features Beth Arzy (of Jetstream Pony) on backing vocals. The guitar riffs are instantly memorable. It brought to mind their song 'Don't Need Water' from the 'Everything Sparks Joy' album which is also well worth checking out. 

The B-Side is a cover of Yo La Tengo's Autumn Sweater, and the two songs go together perfectly. Highly recommended especially if you are a fan of more 80s/early 90s indie.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

The Pierce Kingans - The Peacekeepers EP

Released: 30 Aug 2021
Label: Boat Dreams from the Hill
Listen and Buy Here

The Pierce Kingans, from Canada, are back with a new EP. There have been quite a few of them since last years superb compilation cd on Subjangle. This one particularly stood out for me.    

It is full of unique, melodic songs, which are instantly memorable on first listen. The style is quite lo-fi and 'Outsider' which is why I prefer them to a lot of other new music around.

It opens with 'To Your Heart', which is superbly catchy. There are hints of electronic, and the melodies are kept simple and upbeat. It is hard to find comparable artists but it brought to mind The Strokes and Daniel Johnston. It also has the simplicity of The Kinks.

'Choices' is a favourite here - a heartfelt love song with some superb vocal harmonies. This one has Zac Martin on lead vocals. 'Goodbye More' has lovely melodies and even though the lyrics are quite simple, it is so effective.

It ends on 'Staying Up Late' which is beautifully raw and honest lyrically - "Love is hard to talk about and accept, I have songs that I can sing, lovingly inept."

A highly recommended EP from a wonderfully unique artist.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Hushtones - Greetings From The Other Side

Released: 6 Aug 2021
Label: Hubris Records
Listen and Buy Here

Hushtones, from Liverpool, are a recent discovery for me. I only found out about them as they supported Michael Head (which I bet was an amazing show). Their debut album is a superb listen and a blend of indie, guitar pop and psych.     

It opens with 'Greetings from the Other Side' which is full of wonderful harmonies and instantly memorable. They do remind me of more commercial indie bands like Blossoms and Wolf Alice.

The guitars are slightly heavier on 'Sinking', which is more moody sounding with some great pop hooks. It is quite anthemic and there are hints of punk too.

Other highlights include 'Never Let Me Down' which is a slower ballad with hints of Fleetwood Mac. There are some beautiful, soaring vocal harmonies. 'I've Got Time' is my favourite here, with more late 60s/70s psych vibes, bringing to mind Shocking Blue.

It ends on 'In Your Head' which is more stripped back with some heartfelt lyrics. Again, the male/female vocal harmonies are superb.

A wonderful album, full of enjoyable guitar pop anthems. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

The Sails - Brighter Futures

Released: 26 May 2021/6 Aug (cd release)
Label: Kool Kat
Listen and Buy Here

The Sails are a recent discovery for me. They have been described by Mojo Magazine as the UK's best Power Pop act and it is easy to see why.    

I recommend people who are new to the band to check out the best of compilation - 'Bang - The Sails Best Of 2006 - 2020'. Melodic guitar pop gems, such as 'Peter Shilton', 'Bang!' and 'She is all that Matters' are to name a few of the best songs here.

Their sound has strong 60s vibes, of course recalling The Beatles. The new album opens with 'Crying out Loud' which is fun and very retro with superb pop hooks.

My favourite here is 'The Shakes' which has John Lennon vibes, with plenty of Psych goodness and some great guitar work. 

Other highlights include 'Super High Powered Lovin' which is wonderfully catchy. It is simple 3 minute guitar pop at its finest. 'Fireworks' is hypnotic and eerie, the swirling psychedelic sounds are strangely atmospheric. Stripped back love song 'Stranger Things' is lovely and subtle and provides a much needed ambience.

A hugely enjoyable album and a must for fans of 60s guitar pop. Highly recommended.

Monday, 16 August 2021

The Wife Guys of Reddit - Wet and Tired EP

Released: 25 Jun 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here

The Wife Guys of Reddit, from Glasgow UK, are a recent discovery for me. Their new EP is well worth checking out and has 90s indie rock vibes. It is full of superb guitar riffs and quirky lyrics.    

It opens with 'Jangled Up In Blue' which brought to mind Pavement and Nirvana. The sound is quite lo-fi and at only 1 minute 24 seconds, it still manages to be catchy and leave an impression. The lyrics have attitude/anger and seem to be speaking of an argument in a relationship.

'66' is more laid back sounding, with thought provoking, vivid lyrics. - "Its hard to close my eyes to the cracking of the tile names left on the bathroom floor" The heavy guitar work brought to mind Sonic Youth.

'Adelina' is dark and atmospheric, reminiscing about teenage years. It has an eerie-ness to it and has you hanging on to every word. 

It ends on 'Hard Tack' which is more upbeat and reminded me of The Vaselines. The lyrics are very fun - "Life is a biscuit and I'm going to waste it."

A superb EP and highly recommended end of Summer listening.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

RW Hedges - Year After Year

Released: 3 Sept 2021 (Download now)
Label: Wonderfulsound
Listen and Buy Here

RW Hedges is, in my opinion, one of the most underappreciated UK Songwriters of recent times. This is his fourth album, and like the previous two, it involves the help of co-writer and producer - Luca Nieri. 

The album is a highly enjoyable listen, full of short but sweet, melodic guitar pop gems. It opens with 'Piece of String', which recalls the 60s of The Kinks and The Beatles. It is instantly memorable and has so much charm. The lyrics are heartfelt, yet with a child-like simplicity.

'Far and Wide' has more melancholic vibes with gorgeous Baroque pop production. The lyrics are beautifully vivid  - "Old hearts will empty out their tears and woes. You laugh but the colour in your face, it goes."

'She Calls Through The Night' demonstrates some superb storytelling, and is a homage to Film Noir. 'Weathervane' is lovely and unique with hints of Americana. It is quite playful lyrically with themes of creativity and art. 'Who's to Care' is a moody, atmospheric country song. Musically, it is wonderfully arranged and produced, with skilled pedal steel provided by BBC Presenter - Matt Allwright.  

My favourite here is 'A Travelling Road' which is joyous and uplifting, with glorious vocal harmonies. At times it recalled The Byrds and The Zombies. It ends on 'Year after Year' which has more 50s Everly Brothers vibes. 

A timeless album, which although short, has many beautifully written songs with superb melodies and hooks.  Highly recommended.