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.