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
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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.

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Thursday, 28 November 2019

RW Hedges - Never Too Bright

Released: 29 Nov 2019
Label: Wonderfulsound
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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
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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: _
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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
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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
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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.