Friday, 20 December 2019

The Hangabouts - Colors of Christmas


Released: 26 Nov 2019
Label: _
Listen on Bandcamp

This is another great original Christmas song, released this year. The Hangabouts, from Detroit, are relatively new to me. Their superbly catchy, melodic pop songs caught my attention earlier this year. Especially the brilliant 'Who Wants Cilla?' released as part of the Big Stir singles.  

'Colors of Christmas' captures the joy of Christmas perfectly, with some of the sweetest harmonies. It has lots of retro festive charm. The sound is reminiscent of the Beach Boys, in places. 

Its also very well produced with lots of bells to create that Christmas magic, which is often hard for new original songs to accomplish.

A highly recommended Christmas song. One which I will definitely be playing for years to come.





Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Os Noctambulos - Silence Kills

Released: 29 Nov 2019
Label: Stolen Body Records
Listen on Bandcamp

Parisian Psych band Os Noctambulos are fairly new and this album is a fantastic listen. There are many other purveyors of retro 60's psych but this is done so well, it sounds authentic. 

'Sanitise Me' opens the album brilliantly. It has a very raw sound and brought to mind The 13th Floor Elevators. The vocals are almost screamed giving it a heavy sound, but it still has the strong hooks of guitar pop.

'Living A Lie' is my favourite song here and a lot more melodic. The harmonies are dreamy and its instantly catchy and memorable. It is still very 60's sounding, reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane. 'Come Back To Me' is another highlight. A simple yet beautiful song, with great use of strings and lovely harmonies.

It ends on the sublime 'Is She There?' which is so heartfelt and almost timeless in quality. A highly recommended album.

The band also have another project with a slightly different lineup called 'The Necessary Separations'. This album has more Americana vibes and is also well worth checking out. Full of superb songs and beautiful pedal steel. Listen to the album here



Sunday, 15 December 2019

Wyatt Blair - For The First Time EP


Released: 13 Dec 2019
Label: Lolipop Records
Listen on Bandcamp

Wyatt Blair from LA is a recent discovery for me and his new EP is superb. Every song here sounds like it could have been a radio hit in the 80's.

His sound brings to mind The Romantics and other Power Pop/New Wave bands. 'Cherry Rose' is sensationally catchy. Its so upbeat with great pop hooks. The excellent 'Pop Your Heart Out' is more of the same.

My favourite song on the EP is '(I'll Keep) Searching For You' is brilliantly melodic and the chorus is very uplifting. 'Boys Night Out' is more upbeat with punk energy.

On the whole, this is a hugely enjoyable EP and well worth checking out if you like more 80's sounding Power Pop with strong hooks and harmonies. Highly recommended.









Thursday, 12 December 2019

RW Hedges & Luca Nieri - Christmas Ghost Waltz


Released: 13 Dec 2019
Label: Wonderfulsound
Listen on Spotify

RW Hedges and Luca Nieri have a new single and this is actually a song for Christmas. It has all the magic of their winter's song - 'Never Too Bright' and will transport you back to the Victorian era.

'Christmas Ghost Waltz' is beautifully written and produced. It has lots of childhood fairytale magic, telling the story of a young boy venturing into a haunted house at Christmas.

The black and white video is perfect, with so much detail and sets the scene so well. The imagery has a distinct Dickensian feel to it and brought back memories of films I had watched as a child, set in that era.

The sound has hints of The Everly Brothers and the subtlety of Leonard Cohen's song - 'Winter Lady'. It has so much charm and innocence, which in recent years, no one else has come close to creating. 

Hedges and Nieri are amazingly talented, yet unheard songwriters of the modern era. This is another wonderful song added to their impressive catalogue.









Friday, 6 December 2019

Colours Through The Air Best of 2019 Albums and Songs






It was so hard to choose but here is the Colours Through The Air 'Best Of' post. My favourite albums and songs of 2019. With the songs, it is one song from each artist.

I don't think the Dunkie album is released yet (expected this month) but there was no way I could not include it. You can find the reviews for these albums on this blog for more info. 


Albums

1. RW Hedges - The Hills Are Old Songs 
2. Dunkie - Working To Design 
3. The Vapour Trails - See You In The Next World 
4. Attic Lights - Love in the Time Of Shark Attacks 
5. ANC4 - ANC4 
6. The Jellybricks - Some Kind of Lucky 
7. The Brothers Steve - #1 
8. Paul Den Heyer - Everything So Far 
9. The Lilac Time - Return to Us 
10. The Rails - Cancel The Sun 



Songs

1. RW Hedges - Haven't Seen Her In A While 
2. Dunkie - Can A Song Save Your Life? 
3. The Prescriptions - Hollywood Gold 
4. The Vapour Trails - See You In The Next World 
5. The Late Pioneers - Let Me Tell You How It Hurts 
6. Amoeba Teen - Suit and Tie 
7. Nick Frater - Sunshine After Rain 
8. The Gold Needles - Here She Goes Again 
9. John Myrtle - Foggy 
10. Gospelbeach - Dark Angel



All in all, it has been a good year and I have found so much great music from doing this blog. Thanks so much to everyone who has shown an interest/sent music to me. There will be a lot more reviews to come.




Saturday, 30 November 2019

Jack Blackman and the Beautiful Wreck - I Wish It Was Summer (At Christmas Time)


Released: 1 Dec 2019
Label: Tuery Records
Listen on Spotify
Facebook Page

UK songwriter - Jack Blackman is a recent discovery for me and this is his new charity single. It is the perfect 'anti-christmas' song, so catchy and filled with great pop hooks. 


The song is energetic with Beach Boys and Teenage Fanclub vibes in the chorus harmonies. It also has a slightly punk edge reminiscent of The Ramones. 

Lyrically it is quirky and humorous describing the woes of christmas most people can relate to. - 'I wish it was not so driven by consumer grief. Bank account says this ain't gonna be cheap.' 

If you are looking for an alternative christmas song, from the usual Mariah Carey and Wizzard, this is it. Far more realistic and never loses its sense of fun. 

Also, it is for a great cause as all proceeds will be donated to Crisis (Charity for the homeless). It is a lovely gesture and so fitting. There are many people out in freezing cold conditions with nowhere to go, really wishing it was summer.


Donate Here Via JustGiving

Thursday, 28 November 2019

RW Hedges - Never Too Bright


Released: 29 Nov 2019
Label: Wonderfulsound
Listen on Bandcamp

This new single to come from RW Hedges and Luca Nieri is a dreamy winter's song. It is also beautifully written and highly melodic, like their other songs. 

'Never Too Bright' manages to capture the spirit of the season, in ways a lot of other winter and christmas songs can't. It just has that timeless quality to it, so rare in most recent music. It is also not specifically for christmas so can be enjoyed at any time. I have been listening to this one regularly as the song is a re-release from last year.

The sound is very reminiscent of the 50's/60's with Everly Brothers and Beatles vibes. There are superb harmonies with an echoing effect on them, which adds to the haunting magic. The production is so intricate with bells, xylophones and piano parts.  

All in all, this is a magical winter's song. The musical equivalent of sipping mulled cider, next to an open fire whilst watching the snowflakes fall outside the window. Highly recommended.




Chinese Takeaway - Baby (Won't Kiss These Tears Away)




Released: 15 Nov 2019
Label: Top Five Records
Listen on Spotify
Facebook Page

Chinese Takeaway are an indie pop band from Sydney and are fairly new. This single of theirs caught my attention and it is a beautiful heartfelt ballad, filled with emotion. 


The sound is a blend of 80's/early 90's jangle pop (such as The Sundays) and hints of country. Lauren Towler-Lovell's vocals are delivered perfectly. The chorus consists of some lovely vocal harmonies too. There is a real sadness and longing expressed in the lyrics. - 'It seems you know I'm just as lost as you. Maybe someday we'll carry ourselves through.'

All in all, this is a superbly written and highly memorable song. This band are definitely ones to watch, especially as there are so few women in melodic guitar pop bands. I look forward to hearing a lot more from them











Wednesday, 20 November 2019

RW Hedges - Amber Room


Released: 22 Nov 2019
Label: Wonderfulsound
Listen on Bandcamp

One of my favourite songwriters around today - RW Hedges, returns with a new song - 'Amber Room'. It is a heartfelt ballad, full of yearning, with a magical autumnal feel to it.


As with this year's album 'The Hills Are Old Songs' it also involves the help of songwriting partner - Luca Nieri. This new song is just as sublime as anything on that album and on first listen, I was overcome with emotion.

The concept of the song is longing for something unattainable. 'Amber Room', is a reference to the historical treasure room which was lost during World War II. The accompanying video is full of imagery of this and has a kaleidoscopic feel to it.

The sound is wonderfully melodic, recalling The Beatles and The Left Banke in places. There is also a hint of country, due to the impressive pedal steel provided by Matt Allwright (TV presenter). The song is also superb lyrically, with feelings of sadness - 'My tears have eyes, blinded with a mind that haunts me.' 

All in all, the song is beautifully written and produced. The harmonies and vocals are delivered perfectly. A highly majestic song.


The Hills Are Old Songs album review






Saturday, 16 November 2019

The Late Pioneers - Close Enough EP


Released: 18 Oct 2019
Label: _
Listen on Bandcamp

The Late Pioneers are another new discovery for me. Their EP is a great listen. It has vibes of Teenage Fanclub and The Velvet Underground and quite a lo-fi production. 


Opening song 'Let Me Tell You How It Hurts' is the strongest song here. A superb pop song, heartfelt and full of melody. The chiming guitars are reminiscent of The Byrds. 

'Go Fishing' is a more of a slow ballad about life, with thoughtful lyrics and a laid-back feel. 'Into the Mud' is a lot more lo-fi and draws from different influences especially The Velvet Underground. It also reminded me of a more recent band - Ultimate Painting (who I loved until they sadly split up last year!).

'Leaving Today' is a lot more 60's. A simple song with Beatles and Kinks vibes. The harmonies are perfect and although its very short, its very satisfying.

This is a wonderful EP, full of memorable songs with great hooks and melodies. I hope there is a lot more to come from them. 


Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The Fast Camels - Full of Strange


Released: 2 Dec 2019
Label: Magic Optician Records
Order Album Here
Listen on Bandcamp

Glasgow's The Fast Camels are a new discovery for me but have been on the scene since 2007. This album is the first I have heard by them and it is a superb blend of 60's West coast Psychedelia and melodic guitar pop.


It opens with 'Blissful Serenity' an energetic wave of anthemic psych pop goodness. It drew to mind, Love - She Comes in Colors. 

The beautiful 'Caught in a Dream' is another favourite here and is more ambient sounding. 'The Wedding' is a lot darker and goes off at a weird tangent towards the end, its sound also recalls Syd Barrett.

'Sordid Dreams' is the standout track and my favourite on the album, with strong hooks and lovely harmonies in the chorus. 'Honeymoon' has a brilliant heavy guitar riff and raw sound. It also descends into a strange and wonderful chaos towards the end.

All in all, this is an excellent retro psych pop album. The songs are superbly written and it captures the sound of 60's Psychedelia so well. Highly recommended.











Gospelbeach - Let It Burn


Released: 15 Oct 2019
Label: Alive Records
Listen on Bandcamp

This is the third album from Brent Rademaker's band (also of Beachwood Sparks). I have been following the band from California for a while and love their Americana tinged melodic rock sound.


Let It Burn has more slower ballads than their previous record and is not quite as upbeat. It demonstrates the skilled guitar work of Neal Casal who sadly passed away earlier this year.  

It opens with 'Bad Habits' a big, emotion filled ballad, which is really quite beautiful. The guitar solos towards the end are so impressive and reminiscent of those from the 70's. It particularly brought to mind Neil Young. 

'Dark Angel' is my favourite song on the album and has Tom Petty vibes. It is one of the strongest songs they have written and is so anthemic I could imagine it reaching a much wider audience. 'I'm So High' follows and is more uplifting in contrast. It has that classic rock swagger and is full of attitude.

Other highlights include the Beatles esque, more piano led 'Unswung' which is upbeat and fun. 'Good Kid' recalls the sound of their previous record more, especially 'In The Desert' and there are some lovely harmonies in the chorus. 

Title song 'Let It Burn' ends the album and is quite moody in  sound. On the whole, this is a strong album, magnificent in musicianship and songwriting. A much recommended listen.




Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Tor Guides - Backwards in Reverse


Released: 8 Nov 2019
Label: Futureman Records
Listen on Bandcamp

Swedish band - The Tor Guides are a new discovery for me. There have been a lot of great melodic power pop albums this year and this one is also definitely well worth investigating. 


The strongest song on the album is the sublime opener - 'To Be'. Its harmonies are so perfect, you will be hooked straight away just as I was. There are hints of The Beach Boys and also Nick Lowe's song - Cruel To Be Kind. Its such a well-written song, it would sit well alongside anything by those two artists.

Other highlights include 'My Wits About Me' which has wonderful melodies and catchy hooks. 'Just A Smile' is a cover of the 70's classic by Pilot. It is a beautiful version and it fits in with the album perfectly.

'My Midas Touch' is a slow ballad and there are quite a few on here but this just adds to the laid-back listening experience. Piano ballad 'Writers Block' is about the frustrations of every day life, and not feeling like you are getting anywhere with your art. It is something many could relate to, including myself.

'My Hippie Mess' adds some more fun to the album and is gloriously chaotic.

On the whole, this is a very strong melodic pop album. The first song 'To Be' is especially brilliant and I have been playing it on repeat. Well worth checking out.




Friday, 1 November 2019

Nick Frater - Full Fathom Freight-Train


Released: 1 Nov 2019
Label: Kool Kat Musik
Listen on Bandcamp

This is the fourth album from London Power Pop songwriter - Nick Frater. It is a brilliant album with well-written, melodic guitar pop anthems.    


It opens with 'Sunshine After Rain', the strongest song, which is instantly catchy with beautiful Beach Boys style harmonies. It creates perfect summer imagery, even in this cold weather! 

Other highlights include 'Oh Now, Girl!' which almost sounds like it could be a lost Beatles song. 'All out At Sea' has chilled, laid back vibes and a gorgeous chorus filled with lovely harmonies. 

'Mermaid Street' (featuring Paul Ryan of Super 8) has 70's vibes and is reminiscent of The Raspberries. It is filled with great pop hooks. It also brought to mind The Beatles - Back in the U.S.S.R. 'What Does Good Look Like?' is a slow ballad and demonstrates more superb songwriting.

On the whole, this is a wonderfully written and hugely enjoyable pop album. Highly recommended.




Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Dunkie - Working to Design

Released: 27 Dec 2019
Label: _
Listen on Bandcamp

Dunkie is the work of Welsh songwriter - Anthony Price, and this is his debut album. It is full of beautiful, emotional songs about life, death, love and loss. 


The album is highly accomplished, musically and also visually due to the fantastic artwork. Each song has an illustration (by Gustavius Payne) which has the essence of a surreal children's picture book.   

'The White Hole' has an angry tone and demonstrates some highly skilled musicianship, particularly the guitar work. One of the most remarkable things about this album is the attention to detail. It is often orchestral or has atmospheric electronic soundscapes.

'Can A Song Save Your Life?' shows masterful songwriting and is an example of how the simplest melody can become something so epic and hugely emotional when produced in the right way. The subject of the song is finding comfort in music and it actually does provide that.

'Rabbit Hole' is upbeat musically, but heartbreaking with themes of loss and isolation. Lyrically, it paints a vivid picture in your mind, like many of the other songs here. 

Other highlights are 'W.A.L.L.S (Within a Little Lovesong)' which has vibes of R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts. 'Sugar' is a lovely heartfelt ballad with electronic beats. '71-41-11' is about the emptiness due to bereavement and is incredibly moving. Its sound is reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens' more electronic music.

My favourite song here is 'The Memory Tree', a gorgeous folk song about preserving a departed loved one's memory. It is strangely uplifting, never overly sentimental or depressing. It brought to mind, Eels album - Electro Shock Blues.

This is a wonderful album with so much depth and intricate detail, from start to finish. Highly recommended. 

Dunkie Facebook

Sunday, 20 October 2019

ANC4 - ANC4


Released: 18 Oct 2019
Label: Kool Kat Musik
Listen on Bandcamp

This is the debut album from Swedish Power Pop band - ANC4, and it is full of wonderfully catchy pop gems. The band is the new project of Roger Arvidson (Arvidson & Butterflies) and Tomas Nilsson (The Mop Tops).    


It opens with 'Easy Way Out' which has 60's jangle pop vibes. It is really summery and uplifting. Their sound recalls The Byrds and Teenage Fanclub.

'Do You Wanna' has infectious hooks and an insanely simple melody which stays in your head upon first hearing. The songs are all so well-crafted, the priority being on the harmonies which are always divine.

Another highlight is 'You Can Call Me Darling' a heartfelt love song, with country vibes. 'So Good To Me' demonstrates more superb pop songwriting, and that simplicity is often the key to effectiveness.

'Broken Tune' is a traditional love song which could fit into any era from the 60's onwards. The melody is vaguely reminiscent of The Beatles - I Need You. 

This is a hugely enjoyable album, especially for those who love jangle! Highly recommended.




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.




Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Echo Session - Wait and See


Released: Jul 2019 (on cd Oct)
Label: Flowers in the Dustbin
Listen on Bandcamp

This is a collection of rough demos and recordings from Glasgow's The Echo Session, who are completely new to me. To my knowledge, they only ever released one single 'Tell Me' in 2009.


The recordings are from 2005 onwards and quite raw sounding with vibes of The La's and The Coral. It opens with 'But I'm Scared' which is a brilliant example of 60's style jangle pop. The rough production adds to the retro charm. It is also reminiscent of 'Suspicious Minds' by Elvis Presley, in places.

'Mystery Man' is another highlight with some great guitar work and elements of psychedelia and surf. 'Barapba' is a simple but highly enjoyable little song with a great melody. Acoustic demo 'Sailor Song' is also one of my favourites here and is quite moody sounding.  

The album ends on 'Wait and See' and there are some nice harmonies and great melodic pop hooks. It could benefit from a slightly clearer production but the strength of the song shines through. On the whole, this is a great collection of songs which I am glad have been brought to light.



Monday, 9 September 2019

John Myrtle - Here's John Myrtle EP


Released: Jul 2019
Label: Bingo Records
Listen on Bandcamp

London songwriter John Myrtle is a very recent discovery for me. His EP is a magical listen, with 60's psych pop vibes, and I would highly recommend it.


It opens with 'Foggy', which is so laid back and beautiful. I hear a range of influences including a hint of Jazz and the psychedelia of The Zombies, The Kinks and early Pink Floyd.

'There Must Be Something More to You and Him'  is a stripped back, more acoustic song about a troubled relationship. The lyrics express a desperate longing which is just heartbreaking. 

'Cyril the Slug' is a jaunty almost-nursery rhyme. It has the quirkiness of Syd Barrett's more surreal songs. 

My favourite song on the EP is closer 'Beware of Love' which is just stunning. The way the harmonies and guitars work together is almost hypnotic. It actually sounds like it could be a lost song from the 60's era.

All in all, this is such a beautiful EP and I look forward to hearing a lot more from him.




Saturday, 7 September 2019

Lost Ships - All of the Pieces EP


Released: 6 Sept 2019
Label: Subjangle
Listen on Bandcamp

Lost Ships are a fairly new band hailing from Portsmouth UK. They are back with their second EP after last year's amazing 'Best Laid Plans', which I'd also highly recommend. 


It opens with the splendid guitar riff of title track 'All of the Pieces'. Their sound is reminiscent of Bandwagonesque era Teenage Fanclub. The whole EP has heavy 90's jangle vibes.

'Drug Store' is super melodic and demonstrates some great guitar solos and thoughtful lyrics. By far, my favourite on here is 'How Can I face The World' which is so catchy and brought to mind The Dream Syndicate - 'That's What You Always Say'. It also has an energetic punk edge to it. 

Piano led ballad 'Sheila believe Me', is the perfect closer and  expresses feelings of loss and emptiness. It just proves this band has a lot more depth to them than many other purveyors of this genre. 

On the whole this is a highly enjoyable EP and I am looking forward to hearing a full album from them at some point in the future.




Tuesday, 3 September 2019

The Brothers Steve - #1


Released: Jul 2019
Label: _
Listen on Bandcamp

This is the debut album from LA Power Pop band - The Brothers Steve. The band features members of Tsar who have been around since the early 00's. The Brothers Steve have a more melodic pop sound, rather than the slightly heavier punk edge of Tsar.


It opens with 'Angeline', which is a great song with a strong chorus. The guitars are heavy and energetic but the song is still melodically driven. Their sound here is reminiscent of 70's power pop bands, The Only Ones and Cheap Trick.


Another highlight is the brilliant 'She', which is highly melodic and more 60's jangle sounding. 'Carolanne' echoes the Velvet Underground's 'Pale Blue Eyes'. The songs on this album are quite varied, meaning there will be something on here to please any fan of this genre. 

My favourite song on here is the beautiful 'Carry Me', which is reminiscent of The Byrds and Teenage Fanclub. The chorus is excellent and it stands up well against anything of those two bands. 'Good Deal of Love' is fantastic too, with some lovely harmonies.

This is a superb debut album full of memorable songs, rich in hooks and great melodies. Any fan of the Jangle/Power Pop genre should really check them out.




Friday, 23 August 2019

RW Hedges - The Hills Are Old Songs


Released: Aug 2019
Label: Wonderfulsound
Listen on Bandcamp

I have only been listening to London based songwriter RW Hedges for a few months but he has already become a favourite of mine. This is his third album, and the follow-up to last year's lost classic -  'The Hunters in the Snow'.  


Childhood friend and talented musician - Luca Nieri, co-wrote the music and produced the album. He has some impressive solo albums himself, full of lovely folk instrumentals. RW Hedges' sound is largely folk but with an array of influences, from 50's Easy Listening and Doo Wop, to the vocal harmony groups of the 60's. 


It opens with 'Haven't Seen Her In A While', a timeless ballad, which is so beautiful and heartbreaking. On first listen, I couldn't help but get a bit teary eyed. It expresses such a lot of emotion which is rare in most recent music. 

'Down to Venezuela' is a joyous song, and creates imagery of life in the bygone era of the Wild West. It is so melodically perfect, you will be humming along. A lot of the songs here are Western themed but it is charming, rather than overbearing which can be the case with themed albums. 

'Deep in the Valley' another highlight, tells the story of a cowboy outlaw. It is beautifully written with sublime melodies and there is also a hint of sadness. 'My Dearest' is one of the sweetest songs you will ever hear. It is delicate and full of emotion, yet has the simplicity of a lullaby. 

'Sure Enough' is also very moving and has themes of loss and loneliness. The aching vocals at the end of the chorus, again are hard to listen to without feeling emotional.

This album only goes further in proving RW Hedges has a unique and rare talent, the kind which doesn't come around too often. I believe in years to come his albums will be regarded as 'classics', which they deserve to be.  




Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The Rails - Cancel The Sun


Released: Aug 2019
Label: Thirty Tigers 
Listen on Spotify

London Folk duo, The Rails, return with their third album, Cancel The Sun. They are a new discovery for me and I was so impressed by this collection of folk inspired, guitar pop songs, rich in vocal harmonies and dark lyrics.


It opens with my favourite on the album - 'Call Me When it All Goes Wrong', which is a sad song about a complicated relationship. The music is upbeat and anthemic with a superb chorus. 


Their sound combines folk with more mainstream rock and it works so well. The songs are really varied, with some songs closer to traditional folk. Kami is the daughter of Folk legend Richard Thompson, and you can definitely hear his influence here.


'Save The Planet' is a hard-hitting song about Climate Change. Lyrically it is very dark, suggesting humankind should sacrifice their own lives so the planet can be saved. It is a beautiful song with an important message. There are not enough songs being written about this issue.

'Something is Slipping My Mind' is a highlight and is a lovely ballad. The vocal harmonies in this, echo back to the 50's and 60's. There is so much raw emotion conveyed here too, it can be hard to listen to without being affected by it in some way.

Other highlights include 'Ball and Chain' which is another catchy pop song, with great melodies. 'The Inheritance' is more traditional folk and quite powerful with heavy guitars and superb vocal harmonies. 

This album will probably go on to be one of my most played of the year. An essential listen.




Friday, 16 August 2019

The Embryos - Open The Kimono +3


Released: Aug 2019 (on CD)
Label: Kool Kat Musik
Listen on Bandcamp

Chicago band, The Embryos are another new discovery for me and I was instantly drawn in by their melodic power pop songs. This album was originally out last year but is now available for the first time on CD.


'Circleville' is the opening song and it immediately drew to mind Tom Petty and the 90's power pop of Velvet Crush. The chorus has an anthemic quality to it. The songs on this album are not short of strong, memorable hooks.


The best song here is 'Ghost Dreams, Mainly'. It is a beautiful but sad song looking back on a past relationship. The music itself is upbeat and energetic with aching harmonies in the chorus. There is some great guitar work and psychedelic jamming towards the end. The whole song is pretty epic, and well worth a listen.  

Other highlights are 'The Frightened Few' and 'Eleven Forty'. Both are melodically strong and very catchy. The psychedelic element is still prominent, especially in the former.

There are 3 extra songs here, singles which were previously only available on 7" vinyl. 'Wasting all my Time' is the best of these and very jangly like The Byrds. It features some great guitar solos too.

On the whole, this album is well worth investigating. It's well-written with some really memorable songs and melodies. Highly recommended.




Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The Amber List - The Ever Present Elephant EP


Released: Jul 2019
Label: _
Listen on Spotify

The Amber List are a fairly new band from Preston, Lancashire. Their EP has 80's jangle vibes and demonstrates some superb song-writing. 


It opens with 'Cold Callers' which is a great anthem about the difficulties of getting by. It features some really thought provoking lyrics: 'Trying to make a living in a country that's divided, self-serving, unforgiving.' Clearly a reference to the current state of the country's politics! 


'Hiding in Plain Sight' is the best song here. On first listen it bought to mind the jangle of The La's, Echo & The Bunnymen and C86 indie. It is so catchy and enjoyable to listen to. It is also super melodic with the Ba Ba Ba's at the end. Probably one of my favourite songs of the year so far.  

'Down our Street' has a much more laid back vibe and wistful lyrics. 'The Golden Light' is also a favourite and features some beautiful harmonies. It ends on 'First Steps', which is quite angry in tone. It is again about life's hardships. The guitars in this reminded me of The Smiths.

This EP is an essential listen, especially for the superb 'Hiding in Plain Sight'. I look forward to hearing a full album from them, hopefully soon.




Thursday, 8 August 2019

Harrison Clock - Winesburg


Released: May 2019
Label: Birs Recordings
Listen on Bandcamp

Harrison Clock is a really recent discovery for me, even though he has been making music for 30 years. I know little about him but he is from Michigan and this is a themed album based on Sherwood Anderson's novel of the same name.  


The opening track 'Andersonville' is the perfect introduction. It is mostly instrumental and I actually found this so moving to listen to. It is also weirdly atmospheric and would easily fit in a movie. One of the most beautiful and unique pieces of music I have heard all year.


The sound of the album is largely Americana but there are more modern, indie rock vibes, especially evident in the song 'Trunion Row'. Its quite unusual and even has electronic beats but strangely doesn't sound out of place.

'An Awakening' is another highlight and sounds a little like Crosby, Stills & Nash. Its quite simple and pastoral but sang with a lot of emotion. Again, it is strangely moving.

'A Man of No Distinction' draws heavily from the novel and is one of the best songs. Many of the songs on here are character based but I don't think you need to have read the book to appreciate it.

This album is well worth a listen, especially for 'Andersonville' which is simply a beautiful song. Its hard to comprehend that something with so few words can be so powerful. I will be checking out a lot more from this artist.