Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The Top Boost - Dreaming EP

Released: April 2019
Label: You Are The Cosmos
Listen on Bandcamp

I first heard of this Vancouver band from the song 'What if She Loves You?' which was on a power pop compilation a few years ago. I was immediately hooked. They sound like a more modern version of The Byrds, with slightly heavier guitars. 

The first song on the new EP is 'Dreaming', which features backing vocals from Roger Joseph Manning Jr (of the band Jellyfish). The harmonies are stunning and it has a really 60's Beach Boys feel to it. Especially the Ba
Ba Ba's towards the end. It also sounds a little like The Left Banke in places.

'I'll Be There' is a slower ballad and it has the chiming Byrdsian guitars and big, harmony laden chorus. I could also hear a Motown/Soul influence. 

It ends on 'She Will Stay', a beautiful, well-constructed love song. The harmonies are so sweet, without ever being twee. There is a real heart-felt longing in the lyrics as well.

All in all, this is a great EP. I can't wait to hear a full album from this band.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

The Morning Line - North

Released: April 2019
Label: Kool Kat Musik
Listen on Bandcamp

San Francisco band The Morning Line, have been around for a while and this is their third album. I only found this album very recently and it is filled with great songs.  

Their sound is heavily inspired by power pop bands, particularly of the 90's, such as Gin Blossoms and Velvet Crush.

'Complicated' is the standout song here and it is a heart felt break-up song filled with emotion and beautiful harmonies. 'Anhedonia (Start Again)' is another highlight with an upbeat anthemic chorus and longing lyrics. 'I Wanna Tell You' is a ballad of the highest standard. 

There are quite a few slower songs on this album but its never dull to listen to. 'Nostradamus', towards the end, is completely unexpected with its heavy, energetic guitars. It still manages to be full of melody and is definitely one of the highlights. 'Down The Aisle', a country song, reminiscent of Big Star's 'Ballad of El Goodo' closes the album nicely.

This is such a great album and it only gets better on repeated listens. Highly recommended. 

Friday, 26 July 2019

Alpine Subs - Alpine Subs

Released: June 2019
Label: Subjangle
Listen on Bandcamp

Alpine Subs are a relatively new band, hailing from Chicago. This is their debut album and it has a 60's Psychedelic feel to it.

Their overall sound is strongly reminiscent of The Zombies, The Turtles and The Kinks with lo-fi production. They also remind me of more recent American indie pop bands, such as Rogue Wave, in places.

The songs are well-written and there are some really catchy melodies here. The standout track is 'Maybe Tonight', which is a great power pop song and enjoyable to listen to on repeat. Other highlights include 'More Than Love' which echoes the old jazz standard, 'Blue Moon'. 'What Else' shows they can capture the whole psychedelic sound really well.  

On the whole, this is a really promising debut. I'd like to see them develop their own unique sound more in future. It will be interesting to see what they do next.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Paul Den Heyer - Everything So Far

Released: May 2019
Label: A Turntable Friend
Listen on Spotify

I have only recently been aware of Liverpool's Paul Den Heyer. His debut album 'Everything So Far' is superb, especially if you like folk/acoustic sounding records.

'Technicolor Summer Sunshine' starts off the 
album and has a chilled, laid back sound, perfect for summer. I can hear a range of influences, including Nick Drake and The Stone Roses. The standout song, for me, is 'Unfolding, (Revisited)'.  It is strangely hypnotic and beautiful, with its echoing harmonies. Other highlights are 'Passing of the Season' which is an uplifting song about carrying on when times are tough. 

'End of the Summer' is a stripped-back acoustic song, when compared with the rest of the album. It is so haunting and beautiful, it almost moved me to tears on the first listen. On repeated listens, the album never seems to lose its magic, so I'd recommend it highly. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Attic Lights - Love In The Time Of Shark Attacks

Released: Jan 2019 (A while ago but very deserving of a review)
Label: Elefant Records
Listen on Spotify

I had been anticipating the third album from Glasgow's Attic Lights for a while (their first in 6 years) and it did not disappoint! I still regard their debut album, 2008's 'Friday Night Lights' as one of the best ever. 

For this band, it has always been about the songs and there is no exception here. 'Never By Myself' is a great opening track and brought to mind their Power Pop influences, Badfinger and Big Star. The best song on the album is 'Fables', a beautiful and delicate ballad, sung so sweetly by Kev Sherry. Other highlights are the unbelievably catchy 'Louis' and 'Kings of Whatever', which are so upbeat and filled with great pop hooks.

If you haven't heard of this band, I would strongly recommend you check them out. Don't forget to check out their earlier stuff too. All three of their albums are truly great. Melodic guitar pop at its best.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Armstrong - Under Blue Skies

Released: Jul 2019
Label: Country Mile Records and The Beautiful Music
Listen on Spotify

'Armstrong' is Welsh songwriter Julian Pitt and this is a re-release of his 2007 album 'Under Blue Skies'. It is well deserving of a re-release as (to my knowledge) it was overlooked the first time around. When you listen, you will wonder why, as it is a great collection of well-crafted pop songs.

'Baby You Just Don't Care' is a highlight for me and brought to mind Burt Bacharach and The Pale Fountains. The soaring harmonies in the chorus are just magical. 'The Things That Pass You By' creates wistful feelings lyrically, but still manages to be uplifting. 'September Skies' sounds quite like the Beach Boys in places, giving it a timeless quality.

On the whole, this is a beautiful record and highly recommended, especially if you like thoughtful, emotional lyrics and nice harmonies. The perfect soundtrack to a summers day, or indeed any time of the year.