Tuesday, 15 October 2019

The Jellybricks - Some Kind of Lucky

Released: 4 Oct 2019
Label: Wicked Cool Records
Listen on Bandcamp

Pennsylvania's The Jellybricks have been around since the 90's, but I have only recently been aware of them. Their new album demonstrates some of the most enjoyable Power Pop I have heard all year. 

Opening song, 'Corner of My Eye' has superb hooks, heavy guitars and soaring harmonies. 'Brooklyn' is more of the same, with an anthemic chorus. The songs instantly stay with you on first listen. Their sound is a perfect mixture of melody and heavier punk, a lot like Sugar's Copper Blue. 

The best song here is 'Can't Get Over You', which is gloriously melodic and sounds like it could be a lost 90's college radio hit. 'No Money' is fun and simplistic with a lot of charm. 

'When its Gone' is another great, anthemic song. For this band, it is just effortless. The album ends on title track 'Some kind of Lucky', which is a beautiful ballad, unexpected and yet it fits in perfectly. 

This is a superb album and well worth checking out if you want memorable, melodic songs with a slightly heavier edge. 

Saturday, 12 October 2019

The Lilac Time - Return to Us

Released: 11 Oct 2019
Label: BMG
Listen on Spotify

Folk band - The Lilac Time have been around since the 80's and this is their 10th album. It is full of beautiful country-tinged, sometimes political songs. The songs are all superbly crafted and from the heart. Stephen Duffy is a favourite songwriter of mine and this album shows his usual brilliance.    

It opens with '(I'm) a Believer' which is so uplifting with an anthemic chorus. There are some lovely harmonies and it has a real warmth to it.

'March to the Docks' is a sad song with some references to the corrupt capitalist system - 'The have-it-alls have it in Hampstead. The have-nothings always pay.' 

'On The Hills of Cinnamon' sounds like a slowed-down country version of a song from their first album - 'Return to Yesterday'. It is nice that the link between the two albums, over 30 years apart, is always evident.

Title song 'Return To Us' is the most country-sounding song here. It is very upbeat melodically but angry in theme, about the flaws of humankind. 

'The River Runs Both Ways' is another highlight with deep, thought-provoking lyrics. My favourite song here is 'The Simple Things', which is very moving. The harmonies and big soaring production towards the end, really adds to the emotional impact. 

This is one of the most beautiful albums I have heard all year. Highly recommended. 

Friday, 4 October 2019

The Persian Leaps - Electrical Living

Released: 4 Oct 2019
Label: _
Listen on Bandcamp

Minnesota Power Pop band - The Persian Leaps have been making music for a while and this is their second full length release after last year's best of - 'Pop that goes Crunch'.   

Electrical Living is the first record I have heard by them and is a good introduction. Its full of brilliantly catchy, hook laden songs, which will stick in your mind on first listen. 

'Catnip for Cupid' is a simple pop song but very effective and full of melody. The guitars are slightly heavy, with a pop punk edge. Their sound is reminiscent of 90's power pop/punk such as Superchunk in places. 'Sweet Nothings' is quite energetic and fun. 

My favourite song here is 'About Your Record' with a chorus so strong, and highly melodic, you will find yourself humming it to yourself. Again, the song is simple but it doesn't need anything else and really invites repeat listens. 

Break up song - 'The Problem Is' finds them straying away from their more upbeat energetic side. It provides the album with a more laid back ballad, which was much needed and it is a beautiful song. 'Chalk Line Behemoth' is more punk and echoes The Clash - 'Complete Control' in places. 

A hugely enjoyable listen, especially for 'About Your Record', which is one of my songs of the year. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

The Prescriptions - Hollywood Gold

Released: Apr 2019
Label: _
Listen on Bandcamp

Tennessee's The Prescriptions are a new discovery for me and this review comes a little late, but this album is too good not to have a mention here.  

The band's sound is heavily inspired by Big Star, with some Americana influences, such as The Jayhawks too.

It opens with the beautifully atmospheric 'Setting Sun'. It starts off laid back but by the end is quite heavy and really draws you in.

Title track 'Hollywood Gold' is the standout song here. It is one of those songs which is so good, it will stop you in your tracks on first hearing. It is a ballad so perfect, both lyrically and melodically, it fills me with emotion on every listen. 

'She is Waiting' is another great song with strong hooks and chorus. The balance of Americana with more traditional rock and Power Pop, works so well. 

'Broken Wing' is an epic, heartbreaking ballad with some great guitar solos towards the end. Closer 'Days Go By' is another highlight, so sweet and heartfelt, like Big Star's Thirteen.

This is such a great debut and the strength of the songs here, really showcases their potential. I look forward to hearing what they do next. 

Friday, 27 September 2019

It's Karma It's Cool - Hipsters and Aeroplanes EP

Released: 27 Sept 2019
Label: Kool Kat Musik
Listen on Bandcamp

It's Karma It's Cool are a new band formed by Jim Styring, previously of The Popdogs. Their 2013 album 'Cool Cats for Pop Dogs' is a lost Power Pop gem, full of catchy melodic songs.  

This superb EP is more of the same and an excellent listen. It starts off with the anthemic 'Hipsters and Aeroplanes', which is wonderfully melodic with hints of The Beatles - Getting Better. There is also a slight pop punk edge to it in the heavy guitars. Styring's vocals are quite unique and this compliments the music well.

Love song - 'United State of No Regret' is similarly anthemic with a big chorus and great guitar solos. My favourite on the EP is 'Summer Make Away'. It is a beautiful song with philosophical lyrics. Its sound brought to mind The Pernice Brothers.  

The last song 'Shannon's Waltz' has hints of Americana. Again, it has a big anthemic chorus, which stays in your head long after the song has finished!

This is a really enjoyable EP and shows Jim Styring is a great songwriter of the Power Pop genre. His many projects are always well worth a listen.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Sons of Mowgli - Artists, Mercenaries and Exiles

Released: 13 Sept 2019
Label: _
Listen on Bandcamp

Merseyside folk act, Sons of Mowgli have been on my radar for a while now. Their beautiful vocal harmonies are what caught my attention. There aren't many bands around today who can achieve them as well as this.   

The male/female harmonizing works so well, and Emily Hughes' distinct voice, gives them the edge over other purveyors of the genre. Their sound is inspired by Fairport Convention and Pentangle. The album was recorded by Steve Powell who is most known for his work with Michael Head. 

'Song of Love' is my favourite on here and it has the 50's and 60's vibes of The Everly Brothers. The song has a false ending and the unexpected outro is so beautiful. Its an example of how something so simple, just two voices and an acoustic guitar, can have huge emotional effect. 

'1000 Moons' is another lovely song with some delicate piano work and again the harmonies are perfect. 'Ladder to the Sky' has Nick Drake vibes and a laid back feel to it. A lot of the songs here are quite calming, especially the last song 'Morning Comes'. 

On the whole, this is a superb collection of heartfelt songs with stunning vocal harmonies. A much recommended listen.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Studio Electrophonique - Buxton Palace Hotel EP

Released: 20 Sept 2019
Label: Violette
Listen on Spotify

This is the first release from Violette since Michael Head (whom the label was set up for) left, earlier this year. This beautiful EP shows there are still many more great things to come from them.

Studio Electrophonique is the work of songwriter James Leesley from Sheffield. He has played in a band called High Hazels. His solo music is a lot more stripped back and acoustic. The EP consists of some highly emotional ballads. 

Break up song, 'Jayne' is devastating and demonstrates a such a fragility in the lyrics. The music sounds vaguely like Bill Ryder-Jones, with more minimal production which adds to the emphasis on the vocals. The delivery of this song has you hanging onto every word. 

'I Don't Think I Love You Anymore' is reminiscent of The Velvet Underground. Again, it is highly emotional and about desperately trying to hold onto a failing relationship.

'Buxton Palace Hotel' is more dwelling on a broken relationship in the same way. Musically it is similar but there is an electronic drumbeat. 'You Had Me Hanging on' also has added beats but strangely it fits in so well. 

On the whole this is a very moving EP and these subtle, fragile ballads only affect you more on repeated listens.