Friday, 31 July 2020

Alpine Subs - Sweethaven

Released: 31 Jul 2020
Label: Subjangle
Listen and Buy Here

Chicago's Alpine Subs return with their second album after last year's self titled debut. The first had hints of 60s lo-fi jangle and this is a step forward. On the whole, the production is bigger with more 70s country rock vibes. 

Their overall sound here is similar to Crosby, Stills & Nash and also the more recent band - Woods. It opens with 'The Freeze' which is quite epic and atmospheric, singing of mountain climbing. There are some superb guitar riffs and it is easily my favourite on the album.

Other highlights include 'Your Someone', a big love song which is reminiscent of The Band's 'The Weight' in places. 'Live Forever' is highly melodic and sounded vaguely like Elvis - 'Suspicious Minds'

'Keeping You' is one of the strongest songs here, with an anthemic chorus. It ends on the beautifully delicate love song 'Remain' which has wistful and melancholic lyrics.

A strong follow up album and their new 70s rock edge really works well. Highly recommended.

Friday, 24 July 2020

The Click Beetles - Pop Fossil

Released: 14 Jun 2020
Label: Futureman Records
Listen and Buy Here

This is another wonderful release from Futureman, who are already becoming one of my favourite Record Labels. The Click Beetles are a new discovery for me and according to discogs, they had one previous album in 2014 (Wake Up to Music)

Their sound is a lovely blend of The Byrds and the 80s/90s Power Pop of The Smithereens and Material Issue (right up my street, obviously).

'If Not Now Then When?' is a perfect opening song and insanely catchy. It has the Byrdsian charm and big 80s Pop sound

Other highlights include 'Don't You Call My Name' which is more of the same and also has Tom Petty vibes. 'Nobody's Girl' is great fun and very anthemic. 'Roseanne' has a simple yet superb melody running throughout and is more moody sounding.

A hugely enjoyable album, which may not be doing anything different, but is not short of brilliant memorable songs. For me, this is what great music is about.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Colours Through The Air 1st Anniversary Special Post

Exactly a year ago today, I started my music blog - Colours Through The Air. It was something I had wanted to do for a while but never really had the confidence or the motivation. To be honest, I never thought I would keep it going (just about) for a year. I'd like to thank everyone who has shown an interest as without peoples support and encouragement, I could not have continued it.

It has gone on to achieve tens of thousands of views across the world, and a lot of great feedback from record labels, bands and bloggers alike. I know its only small, in the grand scheme of things. But its good to know that I have made a difference and helped people find great music, which they may not otherwise have heard.

It is so sad that such a lot of wonderful music, goes largely unheard and under the radar. There seems to be less interest in well-written songs. Much of the music in the mainstream, for me, is style over substance and has little emotional depth. For me, a great song is about the melody and feeling it creates. 

I wanted to use this opportunity to talk about some of the songs which inspired me to start a blog. They are all, on the whole, underappreciated. There is also a new Spotify playlist (Colours Through The Air Lost Classics) in which the music can be from any year.

1. RW Hedges - Signal Man (2018, from Hunters in the Snow)

It won't be a surprise to anyone, but this song was the main reason I started the blog. The album completely passed me by in 2018 as it got very little coverage. Everything about it is so magical. It captures the feeling of the original Dickens ghost story perfectly. Luca Nieri co-wrote and produced it and a review of his new album can be found on this blog too.   

2. Shack - Cornish Town (1999, from HMS Fable)

My favourite song ever. I know that Shack probably weren't that underappreciated but I think John Head is definitely overlooked as a songwriter in his own right. The younger brother of Michael Head who NME called 'Our Greatest Songwriter' and featured on the cover, back in 99. This song is gloriously uplifting to listen to, no matter how many hundreds of times you play it! 

3. Michael Head & The Strands - Something Like You (1997, from The Magical World of The Strands)

I still think Michael Head is underappreciated as a songwriter on a larger scale. When you look at how much more recognition bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses e.t.c. have. Just over 10 years ago, I had never heard of Michael Head and many people still haven't. He should be better known with songs like this. A beautiful song, which changed the way I saw music.

4. Material Issue - Valerie Loves Me (1991, from International Pop Overthrow)

A wonderful Power Pop band from the 90s. Jim Ellison was a fantastic songwriter who wrote many gems like this, until he sadly took his own life in 96. I had only heard of the band since about 4 years ago and was blown away by everything I heard. Many of the songs were so emotional yet with brilliant pop hooks.

5. The Bevis Frond - He'd Be A Diamond (1991, from New River Head)

Superb Byrdsian jangle from a really overlooked band. Teenage Fanclub covered this pop gem and it was a highlight of seeing them live. Nick Saloman is a great lost Psych songwriter.

6. The Lilac Time - Return to Yesterday (1987, from The Lilac Time)

Stephen Duffy did have a few 'hits' and was on Top of the Pops in the 80s. But his later solo songs and with his band The Lilac Time were largely underappreciated by the mainstream. It was hard to choose one song as so many of them are great. The albums 'Astronauts' and 'Looking for a Day in the Night' are lost classics too.

7. The Corner Laughers - The Girl, America (2015, from The Matilda Effect)

A lost pop gem. I only found out recently it was written by Anton Barbeau, a great songwriter who I discovered since writing this blog. It is Karla Kane's lovely voice and the production which makes the song so perfect though. Their new album is superb too and the review can be found on here. 

8. The Fernweh - Next Time Around (2018, from The Fernweh)

It fills me with joy, every time I hear this song. So wonderfully retro and melodic, from a brilliant debut album. Really looking forward to seeing what they do next.

9. The Left Banke - Pretty Ballerina (1967, from Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina)

I wasn't aware of this song until about 5 years ago. It is one of my favourite songs and so magical. Compared to a lot of 60s bands, The Left Banke are underappreciated, especially now. They were mainly known for 'Walk Away Renee' which was covered by the more famous group - Four Tops. 

10. Attic Lights - Shiver the Trees (2008, from Wendy single)

Scottish band Attic Lights were signed to a major label back in 2008 but never got as much success as they deserved. They came at the end of the wave of guitar bands emerging in the mid 00s and I think were a bit too late. This lost gem was actually a B-Side. They have many perfect songs but this one often gets played on repeat as its so addictive!

You can listen to the Spotify playlist, including more songs here:

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Mark McDowell and Friends - Breakthrough

Released: 3 Apr 2020
Label: Friends of the Fish (Fruits De Mer)
Listen and Buy Here

Here is a lost Psych gem from a few months ago which somehow passed me by. This is the 6th album from Mark McDowell, of Bristol UK, who is a new discovery for me.

His sound is a blend of Psych pop and more ambient Folk. It opens with 'People Like Us' which is reminiscent of John Lennon and also the more recent band - The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It is my favourite on the album with its strong hooks and Summery Psychedelic melodies.

'Wedlocked' has chilled out vibes and hints of the 90s jangle of Ride. Other highlights include 'Give the Gods' which is still quite folky with added synths and drum beats, making an epic soundscape. The album has some instrumentals too, including 'Starstreamer' which has a distinct Indian feel to it.

'De Facto (Ode to Arthur Lee)' is a beautiful Psych folk song which demonstrates storytelling and has philosophical lyrics. It ends on 'Wedding Song' an honest and heartfelt love song. 

A superb album, which is wonderfully ambient. Perfect listening for Summer evenings.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Snowgoose - The Making of You

Released: 26 June 2020
Label: Glass Modern
Listen and Buy Here

Scottish Folk duo Snowgoose return with their beautiful second album after a break of 8 years. The quality only goes to show that it was well worth waiting for.

In case you aren't familiar with them, Snowgoose is the work of guitarist Jim McCulloch, (of the Legendary 80s band The Soup Dragons) and vocalist Anna Sheard, whose ethereal voice makes them unique. The album also features input from a wealth of musicians, including Raymond McGinley (Teenage Fanclub), Davie Scott (The Pearlfishers) and members of Belle & Sebastian. 

It opens with 'Everything' which immediately brought to mind the 60s Folk of Fairport Convention and Pentangle. It is hugely emotional and a strong way to open the album.

'Who Will You Choose' is the standout song. This one has 60s Psych vibes and has a similar feel to The Zombies - Time of the Season. 'Hope' is wonderfully melodic with an uplifting chorus and thought provoking lyrics - 'All your politics don't hold for me. Whats the use in fighting, all our days are numbered.'

'The Making Of You' is very powerful, like traditional Folk and has a timeless quality. The loud to quiet dynamic is perfect, at times stripped back with emphasis on Anna's vocals, other times - heavy and orchestral. The result is epic. 

Other highlights include the magical 'Deserted Forest' which has gorgeous strings and vivid lyrics. Also 'The Optimist' which is quite moving, with a big chorus. My personal favourite here is the closing song - 'Gave Up Without a Sound'. This one has more Americana vibes, as well as great Pop hooks. 

A beautiful album full of stunning Folk compositions and superb musicianship. Highly recommended. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Moonlight Parade - Paint the Sun EP

Released: 1 May 2020
Label: _
Listen on Spotify

Moonlight Parade are from Worthing, UK and a new discovery for me. They have had a couple of albums and jangly indie songs like 'Jennifer' really caught my attention.

Their style is more 90s/early 00s indie but still sounds refreshing. Opening song 'Paint the Sun' has a big uplifting chorus, reminiscent of The Bends era Radiohead. 'Invincible' has hints of U2 and The Verve but is more melodic. 

The standout song for me is 'I'd Really Like to Meet You Man.' A powerful indie anthem which immediately sticks with you. I could imagine this one crossing over to a larger audience.

'If I Leave' is superb and very catchy guitar pop. 'Hang Glider' is another gloriously melodic and uplifting song and I love the bassline.

A stunning EP, with strong songs which really shine. Highly recommended.


Thursday, 2 July 2020

The Crystal Furs - Beautiful and True

Released: 26 June 2020
Label: Subjangle
Listen and Buy Here

The Crystal Furs, of Portland Oregon, are a recent discovery for me. Their new album is full of C-86 style jangle pop gems.  

It opens with 'Comeback Girls', which is quite anthemic. Steph Buchanan's charming, almost twee vocals suit the song well. Admittedly, this style of music does sometimes wash over me but not in this case and there was more than enough here to keep my attention.

'Pretty Mind' is an anthem for anyone who has ever felt like they don't fit in. Lyrically it is very honest and really expresses the frustration well. - 'Records spinning round and round and so is my rage. Since no one understands I'll write it down on a page.'

'Too Kind to be Cruel' is my favourite song here - melodic guitar pop at its catchiest. I could also imagine this getting repeated radio airplay.

Other highlights include 'Burn Us Down' which is angry with more Punk vibes. It is a bold stand against those who try to deny LGBT rights. - 'You wanna cure me, you wanna fix me. I wanna kick you to the curb.'

'Hey Maxine' is more superb jangle pop goodness. 'The Robber Barons of Lombard Street' is an epic tale about the greedy Capitalist society.

A really enjoyable listen and also covers some important issues. Highly recommended.