Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Foreign Films - Ocean Moon (New Songs and Hidden Gems)

Released: 20 March 2020
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here

The Foreign Films, from Ontario, are a new discovery for me. This new release is such a lovely listen and provides much needed joy in these dark times. 

'Dream With Me Tonight' is a beautiful love song with warm, nostalgic lyrics. - 'Maybe we'll pretend its 1964. Walking in the sand by the old sea shore.' Their sound recalls Teenage Fanclub and The Beach Boys.  

'Katie and the Crystal Hearts' is another sweet and sentimental song with strong hooks. 'Birds in a Blue Sky' is my favourite here and has that 60s Byrdsian charm. It is so uplifting and emotional, a recent standout song in this genre.

'Under Your Spell' is quite moody and still retro sounding. 'Stars in her Eyes' is a big, epic ballad with hints of The Beatles and 60s psychedelia. It has such a brilliant blend of sounds, including some great saxophone at the end. 

'Dream another Dream' is a lovely closer and has perfect harmonies. A highly recommended album, to any fan of melodic guitar pop.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Paula Carino - Door (Big Stir Digital Single No. 66)

Released: 27 Mar 2020
Label: Big Stir
Listen and Buy Here

New York Songwriter - Paula Carino is a new discovery for me. This latest song of hers, as part of the Big Stir singles series, really caught my ear. It has dark, apocalyptic vibes, quite appropriate given the current circumstances.

'Door' is an epic song with a psychedelic sound, slightly reminiscent of Pink Floyd and other Psych rock. Lyrically it is quite philosophical and thought provoking - 'Maybe the eras of the past are the only things that last and your prophecies were wrong.' 

It never seems to dwell too much and the lovely swirling harmonies and raw guitar sound, really makes this song stand out.   

'Welcome Spiders' is still quite psychedelic sounding with drum beats, and reminded me a little of The Stone Roses - Fools Gold. 

A superb single, which is lyrically and melodically stunning. It goes to prove that Paula Carino is an artist well worth checking out.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Graeme Elston - Miracles EP

Released: 21 Feb 2020
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here

Graeme Elston, from London, is better known as the singer of lost indie band Slipslide. He was also in the bands Eva Luna and, before that, Love Parade in the 80s, signed to Firestation Records. 

The first song I heard of his was the beautiful 'Eden' by Slipslide, which was a later recording of an Eva Luna song. Slipslide's albums 'The World Can Wait' (2003) and 'Forza Ambrosia' (2019) really are worth checking out too and filled with C-86 style indie pop songs of the highest standard.  

His new solo EP is a glorious listen. It opens with 'Miracles' which is still very 80s, recalling favourites of mine - The Lilac Time and The Pale Fountains. 

'All We Could Have Been' is a delicate and acoustic love song, with wistful, heartfelt lyrics. 'Take A Hammer To The Clock' is my favourite here, a superb pop song with a very catchy, upbeat chorus. 

It ends on 'The Disappointment', another well-written ballad, about the woes of everyday life, with philosophical lyrics. This is a really enjoyable EP, especially if you like 80s jangle. Highly recommended.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Luca Nieri - Always You

Released: 27 March 2020
Label: Wonderfulsound
Listen and Buy Here

London songwriter - Luca Nieri, is one of UK Folk music's greatest talents. His new record is a beautiful listen, full of subtle, fragile songs. It is, of course, wonderfully crafted and produced. 

The album includes a number of covers which, unless you were familiar with the original, you would have thought were Luca's own. He adds his own unique style and magic to the songs, not often found in music today. They are a joy to listen to.

It opens with 'Chasing Love', his version of the Bert Jansch classic. It is superb and has laid back jazzy vibes. 'Always You' is an original and it too has hints of 50s jazz and a timeless quality to it. There is also a hint of melancholy.

My favourite song here is the enchanting 'This Time I Would Know', a cover of the lost 50s love song by The Browns. It has so much charm and the harmonies are stunning. On first listen it had me quite emotional. I can really see the influence it has on Luca, and of course RW Hedges too.

'Scarlet Sails' is another of Luca's own (RW Hedges co-wrote the lyrics), a short and simple lullaby with gorgeous harmonies and poetic lyrics - 'Underneath the canopy, stars come out to view. Deep dark blue. When the scarlet sails arrive from the open sea. I've lost you.'

Another highlight is 'Farewell, Farewell', a lovely rendition of the Fairport Convention song. It ends on 'Leon's Song', a marvelous instrumental, which is so well crafted and very moving. A superb album, which although short, it really is perfect. His best album, and the best album of the year so far.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The Hannah Barberas - Into The Wild

Released: 3 Apr 2020
Label: Subjangle/Spinout Nuggets/Gazer Tapes
Listen and Buy Here

After a series of EPs, this is the much anticipated debut album from London indie pop band - The Hannah Barberas. Admittedly, I usually find this kind of music a bit too twee but this is a really enjoyable album which goes to prove they are one of the best purveyors of this genre. 

The album opens with the brilliant 'Breakout!' which is so energetic and catchy, with some superb harmonies. They have a raw DIY sound, reminiscent of C-86 indie.

'Our Girl is Gone' is an older song from a previous EP, which has fast guitars, and almost sounds a bit Punk. Again the vocal harmonies are prevalent in the chorus.

The standout song here, for me is 'What Are You Celebrating?' an angry protest song about Britain's obsession with the Monarchy. Lyrically it is superb - 'The Country's in a mess, but did you see her dress?' Lucy's almost deadpan vocals are perfect for it.

'Foreign Ways' tackles themes of immigration, and people being made to feel like they don't belong in a country they have lived and worked in for many years. It is quite sad, a reflection of the current state of the country with Brexit.

Other standout tracks include 'I Can't Go Outside' a brilliant pop song about anxiety. 'No Mystery' is another old one - a great love song with 60s vibes. 'Ted Wedding' is fun, with hints of 50s rock and roll.

This is a superb album, full of memorable melodies and quirky, clever lyrics. Highly recommended to all fans of the guitar pop genre.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Luca Nieri - Interview

Skilled musician, songwriter and producer - Luca Nieri, is one of UK music's best kept secrets. His subtle, intricate folk songs are so beautifully crafted, setting him apart from contemporaries. His own renditions of classic folk songs are also stunning. These include Davey Graham's 'Hummingbird', and Jackson C. Frank's 'Milk and Honey'. 

Before going solo, he was the drummer for Welsh indie band - Colorama, and was then a member of London Folk band - The Monks Kitchen. He also co-wrote and produced RW Hedges' albums - 'The Hunters in the Snow' and last years 'The Hills are Old Songs'. Both modern classics in the Folk/Americana genre.

His fourth Solo album - Always You, is out at the end of March, on the Wonderfulsound record label. I catch up with Luca, ahead of the release:

Q. Tell me about your new album. What new ideas, sounds e.t.c. can we expect?

A. The new record is very delicate. I chose to record an album of songs apposed to the last record that was all instrumentals.The sound on the new record is stripped back. I wanted a sound that was intimate without layering tracks up.

Q. Who are your biggest influences? Old and new artists who have inspired you.

A. I think that Bert Jansch, Davey Graham, Joao Gilberto and Chet Baker have to be the artists that have inspired me the most. As for new artists, I haven't really heard anything that has come out that has inspired me.

Q. Did you get into music at a young age and what started your love of music? When did you first start writing songs?

A. My first memory of music was when I was about 8 or 9, at school, in the morning assembly, I would put my name down to play piano (although I never had lessons and didn't know what to play) and I would perform a made up piece that was probably nonsense, but musical nonsense! After that I would try instruments in music class. I tried the flute, trombone and piano. It was later that I found the drums and guitar and taught myself how to play them. I started writing songs at about 14 -15.

Q. You often write songs with RW Hedges. What is the typical songwriting process? For example - Does he come up with an idea/concept and you help write the music, melodies e.t.c.?

A. There is no typical process. It can vary depending on the song. Some songs have no lyric and some chords, so we work it out. Some songs have everything but the correct time signature. Some songs we both have to write lyrics. It really is random, but in some way we have “our” way of working.

Q. You are also a member of the band The Monks Kitchen. Their last album was a while ago (2013). Can we expect more from them?

A. Yes.We have written and recorded many songs, so there is always a possibility of releasing them.There is a Dylan covers record that we have made that we are finishing up. I am also producing one of the Monk’s solo record that will be released at some point in the future.

Q. Of all the songs you have written, which are you the most proud of?

A. To be honest I'm not sure. I'm proud of all the songs I have recorded.

Q. A lot of your songs are very short, around 2 minutes or under. Is there a reason why you prefer to write in this way?

A. Songs shouldn't hang around. I like songs that get to the point and leave you wanting more, rather than the opposite.

Q. Which of all the albums you have been involved with (producing or your own) did you enjoy making the most?

A. I enjoy all the records I work on.

Q. What is your favourite song to cover?

A. At the moment I like playing “Accustomed To Her Face”, a song that was written by Loewe and Lerner, covered by Wes Montgomery. I learned Wes’ version and have been enjoying the chord progressions.

Q. Do you have a favourite song and album of all time?

A. I listen to a lot of different types of music so picking one song and album is quite hard! It really depends on what mind set I'm in at the time.

You can listen to and buy the new album Always You, here on Wonderfulsound 
Available end of March.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Kyle Forester - Hearts in Gardens

Released: 21 Feb 2020
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here

New York songwriter Kyle Forester is a new discovery for me. He is a member of the bands - Crystal Stilts and The Ladybug Transistor. 

The first song I heard of his was the beautiful 'Won't Go Crazy', from his self titled album from 2016. It is a perfect guitar pop song with added synths, a little reminiscent of Real Estate.

His new album is brings more heavenly melodic pop songs. It opens with 'Know What You're Doing' which is lovely and heartfelt with instantly memorable hooks. I can also hear vague vibes of The Velvet Underground. 

'Marigold' is sophisticated and laid back in sound, with an uplifting chorus. Other highlights include title track 'Hearts and Gardens' which is simple yet melodically perfect, with added swagger, and even goes a bit psychedelic towards the end. 'Up Their Sleeve' is a sublime ballad and the combination of guitars, harmonies and synths is very effective.

It ends on the hypnotic soundscape 'On the Way Down', which again has chilled out vibes and electronic hints. A great album and well worth checking out, especially if you like The Velvet Underground, Ultimate Painting e.t.c.  A much recommended listen.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Eyelids - The Accidental Falls

Released: 14 Feb 2020
Label: Decor
Listen and Buy Here

Superb guitar pop band - Eyelids, from Portland, are back with a new album and it is a wonderful listen.

I have been aware of the band for a few years, which includes former band members of Guided By Voices, Elliott Smith and The Decemberists. Their song 'Slow It Goes' from album - Or (2017) was the first song I heard by them and its so brilliantly melodic, I was hooked.

Their new album is produced by Peter Buck of R.E.M. It opens with the beautiful 'Dream' which has lovely harmonies and is quite laid back. Lyrically, there are lots of references to space, time and religion. Some of the lyrics on the album are by poet - Larry Beckett (who has collaborated with Tim Buckley)

My favourite song on the album is the title track 'The Accidental Falls'. A great example of anthemic, melodic power pop. Other highlights include 'River' which is very psychedelic and chilled out with Pink Floyd vibes. 'At Sea' is another brilliantly crafted and energetic pop song.

'Found At The Scene of a Rendezvous that Failed' has some dark, highly descriptive and vivid lyrics. Musically it is piano and strings driven, reminiscent of later Beatles. '1 2 3' is heavier psych rock and quite moody, featuring some great guitar work.

A brilliant album with such a variety of sounds, and an epic listening experience. Highly recommended.