Thursday, 23 December 2021

Colours Through The Air Best of 2021 Albums and Songs






It was so hard to choose but here is the Colours Through The Air 'Best Of' post. My favourite albums and songs of 2021. With the songs, it is one song from each artist.

I have chosen RW Hedges for best album and song. A lovely album which although is short, all the songs are beautifully crafted. Just heartfelt, memorable songs which is what it should be about really. Read the full review here 

I felt these albums were the strongest overall and had the most impact on me. You can find the reviews for all the albums (apart from Ghost Dance Collective and Reigning Sound which were late discoveries) on this blog.  


Albums

1. RW Hedges - Year After Year 
2. Daniel Wylie's Cosmic Rough Riders - Atoms and Energy
3. Sandra's Wedding - Pleasure Grounds
4. Jim McCulloch - When I Mean What I Say 
5. Sky Diving Penguins - Sky Diving Penguins
6. Reigning Sound - A Little More Time With Reigning Sound
7. Rural France - RF 
8. Sister John - I Am By Day
9. Kevin Robertson - Sundown's End 
10. Ghost Dance Collective - Dream Yourself Into The Real World



Songs

1. RW Hedges - Travelling Road 
2. Sky Diving Penguins - Run Boy 
3. The Pierce Kingans - To Lose 
4. Reigning Sound - You Don't Know What You're Missing
5. Sandra's Wedding - Lovin' Life
6. Jim McCulloch - Come Little Waves of Light 
7. Sister John - In My Place 
8. The Sadies - Stop and Start
9. The Laughing Chimes - Try To Change My Mind
10. The Shop Window - Out of Reach



All in all, it has been a good year and I have found so much great music from doing this blog. Thanks so much to everyone who has shown an interest/sent music to me.



Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Sky Diving Penguins - Sky Diving Penguins




Released: 1 Dec 2021
Label: _
Buy Here


Sky Diving Penguins, from Tbilisi, Georgia, are a recent discovery for me. This is their long awaited debut album, after an EP back in 2001.   

Their sound is heavily Beatles inspired, especially the opener 'I Don't Want, I Don't Care'. It is a piano driven ballad, with devastating lyrics and themes of depression. As English is not their first language, not all of it makes perfect sense but it is so heartfelt and shows fragility.   

'Serotonin' has a heavier edge and is very 90s with Nirvana vibes. 'This is Breaking Me Apart' is a gorgeous Folk song with hints of Radiohead. There are some lovely vocal harmonies and intricate flute playing. The variety of sounds and styles on this album means it always manages to be captivating.

My favourite here is 'Run Boy' a charming pop song, with psychedelic lyrics. It describes a perfect place with candy rainbows, trees made of bubblegum e.t.c. and where 'everyone is a Beatles fan'. Its about finding happiness, and is just over 2 minutes of pure joy. 

Other highlights include the epic 'About One Hermit' which has beautiful orchestral production and is hugely emotional. 'Depressed or Bored' has 60s Psych vibes with quirky, yet wistful lyrics - "Anyone can be unsure. As I grow old, time only matters."

A magnificent debut, full of wonderfully written songs with so much depth. Highly recommended.


Friday, 17 December 2021

Moonlight Parade - What If?




Released: 26 Nov 2021
Label: _
Buy Here


Moonlight Parade, from Worthing UK, are back with a new album. It is a superb listen, full of melodic and memorable jangle pop gems.   

Their sound recalls the 90s indie of Oasis' softer sounding music. Album opener 'Amsterdam' is quite anthemic, but it is enjoyable with lovely melodies and heartfelt vocals.   

My favourite here is the sublime 'Hanging Around', which I had on repeat in the Summer. It has hints of The La's and is a laid back love song of the highest standard.

Other highlights include 'The Way I Feel', which has lovely harmonies and melancholic lyrics. 'No Way of Knowing' is more psych sounding and brought to mind The Beta Band. 'White Horses' is more stripped back, acoustic Folk and is an emotional listen.

A hugely enjoyable album, full of guitar pop gems. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, 30 November 2021

West Coast Music Club - Take A Deep Breath




Released: 12 Nov 2021
Label: 72rpm Records
Buy Here


West Coast Music Club, from West Kirby, are back with a new album. Their music is anthemic, yet melodic, recalling the 80s jangle of The Go-Betweens.   

The album opens with 'Life Of Lies', which has strong melodies and hooks. The song itself is uplifting yet the lyrics are melancholic with themes of loneliness. The jangling guitars recalled The Byrds.   

'Long Goodbye' is strongly reminiscent of Grand Prix era Teenage Fanclub and is a lovely listen. 'Jenny's Still Got (What it Takes)' is superbly catchy Power Pop which will have you singing along.

My favourite here is 'Thinkin'' which is a heartfelt love song. It is instantly memorable and has vibes of David Bowie's Heroes. The sound is gloriously Summery, even on these cold Winter days. 'Girl' has a slightly heavier edge and brought to mind Jimi Hendrix.  

A hugely enjoyable album, full of variety and catchy melodies. Highly recommended for fans of the Jangle pop genre.


Thursday, 25 November 2021

Peter Hall - Light The Stars




Released: 26 Nov 2021
Label: _
Buy Here


Peter Hall, from Nottingham UK, returns with his debut album after last years beautiful EP - There's Something Wrong With Everyone. It is a stunning album, demonstrating well-written, sophisticated indie pop.   

The album opens with 'Save Yourself' which is rich in melody with a memorable, anthemic chorus. His music recalls Teenage Fanclub's softer sounding later music. 

My favourite here is 'Two Twenty Two' a heartfelt ballad of the highest standard. The production is epic and orchestral, like many of the songs here. The object of affection is a record (could it be The Beatles...?), rather than a love interest, as in most songs. 

Other highlights include 'Dream of the Sun' which is an emotional listen with some devastating lyrics - "I don't need no Tarot to know whats coming next. I'm waiting for the arrow to hit me in the chest". It bought to mind some of John Lennon's solo music.

 'The Best Idea' is another epic, melancholic ballad which will get you emotional. Lyrically, it is very honest - "I don't know what's night or day. I just dream along the way."  

A superb debut album, full of memorable songs, written from the heart. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Rural France - RF




Released: 29 Oct 2021
Label: Meritorio Records
Buy Here


Rural France, based in Wiltshire UK, are a recent discovery for me. Their songs are short, sweet and very catchy, recalling the best of early 90s indie pop.   

The album opens with 'Clementine' which is straight to the point, 2 minute pop, as many of the songs are here. The lyrics are melancholic, about being bogged down with family life and the sacrifices e.t.c. Melodically, it is very upbeat, with hints of early Teenage Fanclub and Pavement.

Other highlights include 'Hosepipe Ban' which is quite lo-fi and Summery, with superb pop hooks. 'Sling Your Hook' is more of the same, with quirky lyrics and themes of alcoholism. 'You Haven't Been In Love' is another standout song here and a simple, heartfelt ballad you will want to play on repeat.

A hugely enjoyable indie pop album, full of memorable songs which don't outstay their welcome. Highly recommended.


Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Tigers & Flies - Among Everything Else




Released: 12 Nov 2021
Label: Violette
Buy Here


Tigers & Flies, from Manchester, are the latest band to join the superb Violette label. Violette are best known for releasing Michael Head's album Adios Senor Pussycat back in 2017. There are vague similarities to Pale Fountains era Mick, with Tigers & Flies.   

The album opens with 'Night Time Mood' which is very 80s sounding, recalling Orange Juice. It is a little bit messy, with a slightly heavier edge, reminiscent of post-punk. Television had to be an influence here too.

My favourite here is 'Half' which is a heartfelt love song, with an anthemic chorus, full of longing - "When you leave, half of me walks away too. Don't leave as I need the half of me that is you." It is well produced and the brass really adds to their unique sound.

Other highlights include 'Bat and Ball' which is full of attitude and swagger. The trumpet solos towards the end of the song are impressive. 'Don't Let Her Walk Away' is emotional lyrically, and about a painful break up. Again, this song is gloriously chaotic towards the end. 'Headspace' has a distinct guitar riff running throughout which will stay in your head, from first listen.

A superb album from a unique band, full of brilliantly varied songs. Highly recommended.


Monday, 8 November 2021

The Brothers Steve - Dose




Released: 15 Oct 2021
Label: Big Stir
Buy Here


The Brothers Steve, from LA are back with their follow up to 2019's debut #1, which finished highly on my end of year list. The new album is a wonderful listen with more enjoyable power pop anthems.   

If you aren't familiar with Jeff Whalen's (of the band - Tsar) solo album '10 More Rock Super Hits', it is also well worth checking out.

The new album opens with 'Get on Up' which is a fun party song, and a fusion of the glam rock of Bowie, with the 90s indie of Primal Scream, with some Rolling Stones thrown in too!  My favourite here is 'Next Aquarius' which is superbly catchy with hints of 60s Pysch. 

Other highlights include 'Mrs Rosenbaum' which has Beatles vibes and some wonderful storytelling, with wistful, melancholic lyrics. 'Electro-Love' is more instantly memorable guitar pop. 'Sugarfoot' is a bit silly lyrically but will bring a smile to your face.

A hugely enjoyable follow up, full of power pop brilliance. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Sandra's Wedding - Pleasure Grounds



Released: 1 Oct 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here


Sandra's Wedding, from Goole UK, have been one of my favourite new discoveries of this year (found through the brilliant Janglepophub music blog). Their new album is a highly enjoyable listen, recalling the best of 80s jangle.

'Lovin' Life' is my favourite here and is feel good guitar pop at its best. It is very Summery and anthemic, even on these cold Autumn days.

Other highlights are 'When I Stall' which particularly brought to mind Pale Fountains era Michael Head. 'Love Everyone' is uplifting, melodic and again a joy to listen to. 'Council Pop' is more moody sounding with hints of 60s Psych and chiming guitars.

A wonderful album, full of guitar pop gems with memorable melodies. Well worth investigating.

Friday, 29 October 2021

Eoin Dolan - Mirror Liver




Released: 29 Oct 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here


Eoin Dolan, from Galway, Ireland is a recent discovery for me. I was drawn in by his superbly melodic and catchy psych/guitar pop. It is also worth checking out his older songs - 'Ocean Girl' and 'Superior Fiction' if you are new to his music.    

His sound drew to mind the 90s indie of Super Furry Animals. The new album is a wonderful listen and has the unusual theme of Neolithic/Bronze Age Europe.

It opens with an atmospheric instrumental before launching into 'Amulet of Love' which is acoustic folk at its finest. The lyrics are quite pastoral and is about gathering Harvest. 

'I Have Got It Wrong (Again)' is my favourite here and is  instantly memorable with an anthemic chorus. The electronic, keyboard sounds make it unique, as well as the subtle melodies. 

Other highlights include 'Mirror Liver' which is sweet guitar pop with hints of The Beach Boys, and more recent band Real Estate. 'One World Of Mine' is beautifully heartfelt and stripped back, with some lovely harmonies. 'Blackcurrant Wine' is more atmospheric pastoral folk, with hints of Psych. It has experimental vibes, slightly reminiscent of Pink Floyd.  

A superb album, with a variety of sounds - from more ambient sounding Folk to Electronic and Psych pop. Highly recommended.


Thursday, 21 October 2021

Ian M Bailey - Songs To Dream Along To




Released: 15 Oct 2021
Label: Kool Kat
Buy Here


Ian M Bailey is back with a new album after the superb Shots of Sun EP from earlier this year. It features the songs on that, including the sublime 'Slow Down River' and 'Take it or Leave It'. His sound is heavily influenced by The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash.   

The album is co-written by Daniel Wylie of Cosmic Rough Riders, whose recent album 'Atoms and Energy' from this Summer is also well worth checking out!

It opens with 'This is Not A Feeling' which is uplifting guitar pop at its finest. It has some lovely harmonies and Americana vibes, with hints of The Jayhawks and later Teenage Fanclub.  

Other highlights include 'The Sound of Her Voice', a lovely ballad with hints of Gram Parsons. The orchestral production is wonderful. 'I'm not The Enemy' has a slightly heavier edge, reminiscent of Neil Young. 

Closing song 'The Best Out Of Me' is one of my favourites here. A heartfelt ballad of the highest standard which is guaranteed to get you emotional.

A superb album, full of beautifully melodic, well crafted songs. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Shebeat - Remember Love




Released: 6 Aug 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here


Shebeat is the work of songwriter Jodie Schofield originally from Liverpool. This is her heartfelt new single and it shows simplicity is often the key with music.   

The sound is quite lo-fi and vaguely reminiscent of The Velvet Underground. It has 60s vibes and brought to mind some of The Beatles earlier, more stripped back music too. There aren't many words, but sometimes its not needed and it still manages to be full of emotion. It is a beautiful ballad and instantly memorable. 

As far as I can see, there is no album yet but there are more songs to check out on her Bandcamp. Highlights include 'So into You' which has a similar vibe and is quite laid back and atmospheric. Again, it has lo-fi production and sea sound effects. 'Believe' is an uplifting pop song of the highest standard. 'Catch Your Breath' is another favourite here, its simplicity brought to mind Daniel Johnston.

A wonderfully unique new Artist, with some lovely songs and hopefully an album will come soon.  Highly recommended.


Saturday, 25 September 2021

Blake - Kaleidoscope




Released: 24 Sept 2021
Label: Subjangle
Listen and Buy Here


Blake is the work of songwriter Julian Pugsley and he is back with a new record after last years HMS Blake album and best of double cd (the perfect introduction to his music, should you require one). The new album is also full of superb guitar pop gems with plenty of great hooks.   

His sound is heavily inspired by The Beatles and Donovan. It is also reminiscent of more recent bands Gorkys Zygotic Mynci and Belle and Sebastian. The production is fairly retro, using old equipment from the Abbey Road studios to give it an authentic 60s sound.

It opens with 'So Good', which is wonderfully catchy, recalling the energetic 70s Power Pop of Cheap Trick. 'Andrea Everywhere' is uplifting and fun with Summery Mexican vibes. Title track - 'Kaleidoscope' is a homage to The Beatles, especially their more Psychedelic side. 

'Paisley Patterned Love' is a favourite here and is 60s inspired jangle of the highest standard, recalling The Zombies. It is instantly memorable and will have you singing along.

Other highlights include 'Let Yourself In' which is superbly melodic with heartfelt lyrics - "There's a key that matches my emotion and you can let yourself in." 

'Blood On Their Hands' is an angry protest song about Capitalist corruption and the lives lost as a result of it. It has a heavier edge than anything else here, showing there is a lot more to Blake than just pretty pop songs. It ends on the acoustic 'Whenever You Call My Name' which is subtle with lovely harmonies.

A superb album, full of well-written songs with a variety of styles and influences. Highly recommended.


Friday, 17 September 2021

Novelty Island - How Are You Coping With This Century?




Released: 15 Oct 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here


Novelty Island is the work of Liverpool songwriter and producer - Tom McConnell. This is his debut album and it is full of wonderfully jangly Beatles-inspired pop goodness.   

It opens with 'This Bird' which sounds like it could easily be a lost Paul McCartney song. The chorus is superbly melodic and catchy, recalling the bygone era of the 60s, when it was all about the songs.

'Cowboy on a Bicycle' is a quirky song about a Cowboy who has lost his horse. It has vaguely Country vibes and brilliantly inventive lyrics. - "I just had a fight with a disagreeable Volcano who'd seen my horse out of town."

'Jangleheart' is my favourite here - and is as gloriously jangly as the title suggests, with Byrds vibes. The way the chorus builds up, also brought to mind Teenage Fanclub, and the song has so much charm, just as theirs do.

Other highlights include 'Listen' which is more laid-back and melancholic. It is well produced with trumpets and piano, recalling later Beatles. 'I'll Sleep in April' is more brilliantly memorable pop with hints of electronic and some impressive harmonies.

A superb debut full of well-written songs and lovely melodies. Highly recommended for 60s guitar pop fans.


Wednesday, 8 September 2021

The Treasures of Mexico - Always The Shadows




Released: 27 Aug 2021
Label: Spinout Nuggets
Listen and Buy Here


Medway indie pop band The Treasures of Mexico are back with a new single. I have been aware of this band for a while as it consists of members of The Dentists, who were a superb indie/psych pop band. If you aren't familiar with them you should probably check out the song - 'Strawberries are Growing in my Garden (and its Winter time)'.   

The new song has hazy Summery vibes. It is a fine example of anthemic guitar pop. It features Beth Arzy (of Jetstream Pony) on backing vocals. The guitar riffs are instantly memorable. It brought to mind their song 'Don't Need Water' from the 'Everything Sparks Joy' album which is also well worth checking out. 

The B-Side is a cover of Yo La Tengo's Autumn Sweater, and the two songs go together perfectly. Highly recommended especially if you are a fan of more 80s/early 90s indie.



Wednesday, 1 September 2021

The Pierce Kingans - The Peacekeepers EP




Released: 30 Aug 2021
Label: Boat Dreams from the Hill
Listen and Buy Here


The Pierce Kingans, from Canada, are back with a new EP. There have been quite a few of them since last years superb compilation cd on Subjangle. This one particularly stood out for me.    

It is full of unique, melodic songs, which are instantly memorable on first listen. The style is quite lo-fi and 'Outsider' which is why I prefer them to a lot of other new music around.

It opens with 'To Your Heart', which is superbly catchy. There are hints of electronic, and the melodies are kept simple and upbeat. It is hard to find comparable artists but it brought to mind The Strokes and Daniel Johnston. It also has the simplicity of The Kinks.

'Choices' is a favourite here - a heartfelt love song with some superb vocal harmonies. This one has Zac Martin on lead vocals. 'Goodbye More' has lovely melodies and even though the lyrics are quite simple, it is so effective.

It ends on 'Staying Up Late' which is beautifully raw and honest lyrically - "Love is hard to talk about and accept, I have songs that I can sing, lovingly inept."

A highly recommended EP from a wonderfully unique artist.


Sunday, 22 August 2021

Hushtones - Greetings From The Other Side




Released: 6 Aug 2021
Label: Hubris Records
Listen and Buy Here


Hushtones, from Liverpool, are a recent discovery for me. I only found out about them as they supported Michael Head (which I bet was an amazing show). Their debut album is a superb listen and a blend of indie, guitar pop and psych.     

It opens with 'Greetings from the Other Side' which is full of wonderful harmonies and instantly memorable. They do remind me of more commercial indie bands like Blossoms and Wolf Alice.

The guitars are slightly heavier on 'Sinking', which is more moody sounding with some great pop hooks. It is quite anthemic and there are hints of punk too.

Other highlights include 'Never Let Me Down' which is a slower ballad with hints of Fleetwood Mac. There are some beautiful, soaring vocal harmonies. 'I've Got Time' is my favourite here, with more late 60s/70s psych vibes, bringing to mind Shocking Blue.

It ends on 'In Your Head' which is more stripped back with some heartfelt lyrics. Again, the male/female vocal harmonies are superb.

A wonderful album, full of enjoyable guitar pop anthems. Highly recommended.


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

The Sails - Brighter Futures




Released: 26 May 2021/6 Aug (cd release)
Label: Kool Kat
Listen and Buy Here


The Sails are a recent discovery for me. They have been described by Mojo Magazine as the UK's best Power Pop act and it is easy to see why.    

I recommend people who are new to the band to check out the best of compilation - 'Bang - The Sails Best Of 2006 - 2020'. Melodic guitar pop gems, such as 'Peter Shilton', 'Bang!' and 'She is all that Matters' are to name a few of the best songs here.

Their sound has strong 60s vibes, of course recalling The Beatles. The new album opens with 'Crying out Loud' which is fun and very retro with superb pop hooks.

My favourite here is 'The Shakes' which has John Lennon vibes, with plenty of Psych goodness and some great guitar work. 

Other highlights include 'Super High Powered Lovin' which is wonderfully catchy. It is simple 3 minute guitar pop at its finest. 'Fireworks' is hypnotic and eerie, the swirling psychedelic sounds are strangely atmospheric. Stripped back love song 'Stranger Things' is lovely and subtle and provides a much needed ambience.

A hugely enjoyable album and a must for fans of 60s guitar pop. Highly recommended.


Monday, 16 August 2021

The Wife Guys of Reddit - Wet and Tired EP




Released: 25 Jun 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here


The Wife Guys of Reddit, from Glasgow UK, are a recent discovery for me. Their new EP is well worth checking out and has 90s indie rock vibes. It is full of superb guitar riffs and quirky lyrics.    

It opens with 'Jangled Up In Blue' which brought to mind Pavement and Nirvana. The sound is quite lo-fi and at only 1 minute 24 seconds, it still manages to be catchy and leave an impression. The lyrics have attitude/anger and seem to be speaking of an argument in a relationship.

'66' is more laid back sounding, with thought provoking, vivid lyrics. - "Its hard to close my eyes to the cracking of the tile names left on the bathroom floor" The heavy guitar work brought to mind Sonic Youth.

'Adelina' is dark and atmospheric, reminiscing about teenage years. It has an eerie-ness to it and has you hanging on to every word. 

It ends on 'Hard Tack' which is more upbeat and reminded me of The Vaselines. The lyrics are very fun - "Life is a biscuit and I'm going to waste it."

A superb EP and highly recommended end of Summer listening.


Tuesday, 10 August 2021

RW Hedges - Year After Year




Released: 3 Sept 2021 (Download now)
Label: Wonderfulsound
Listen and Buy Here


RW Hedges is, in my opinion, one of the most underappreciated UK Songwriters of recent times. This is his fourth album, and like the previous two, it involves the help of co-writer and producer - Luca Nieri. 

The album is a highly enjoyable listen, full of short but sweet, melodic guitar pop gems. It opens with 'Piece of String', which recalls the 60s of The Kinks and The Beatles. It is instantly memorable and has so much charm. The lyrics are heartfelt, yet with a child-like simplicity.

'Far and Wide' has more melancholic vibes with gorgeous Baroque pop production. The lyrics are beautifully vivid  - "Old hearts will empty out their tears and woes. You laugh but the colour in your face, it goes."

'She Calls Through The Night' demonstrates some superb storytelling, and is a homage to Film Noir. 'Weathervane' is lovely and unique with hints of Americana. It is quite playful lyrically with themes of creativity and art. 'Who's to Care' is a moody, atmospheric country song. Musically, it is wonderfully arranged and produced, with skilled pedal steel provided by BBC Presenter - Matt Allwright.  

My favourite here is 'A Travelling Road' which is joyous and uplifting, with glorious vocal harmonies. At times it recalled The Byrds and The Zombies. It ends on 'Year after Year' which has more 50s Everly Brothers vibes. 

A timeless album, which although short, has many beautifully written songs with superb melodies and hooks.  Highly recommended.


Thursday, 5 August 2021

Sister John - I Am By Day




Released: 30 July 2021
Label: Last Night From Glasgow
Buy Here


Sister John are an indie pop band from Glasgow and a new discovery for me. This is their third album and it is a wonderful listen, full of heartfelt, ambient songs.  

It opens with 'I'll Be Your Life' which is quite stripped back with Jesus and Mary Chain vibes. It is a devastating love song, full of yearning and some morbid lyrics - "I'll be your life, I'll do the calculation. I'll make sure they know you prefer cremation."

'In My Place' is my favourite here, and the most pop sounding song on the album. It is bittersweet guitar music at its finest, at times recalling The Velvet Underground.

Other highlights include 'How can I keep it Alive?' which is moody and very atmospheric. Amanda McKeown's vocals demonstrate so much emotion and a longing which is rarely heard in recent music. 

'Died Down' has slightly more electronic vibes. It is again very heartfelt with vivid lyrics and themes of depression, life and death. - "I'm waiting for my life to be summed up in five, I'm wondering what the drive is, drive to stay alive."

It ends on 'Glasgow Is A Rainbow' which is an epic ballad with later Beatles vibes. The production is lovely with strings and piano, adding to the emotional impact.

A beautiful album, full of well-written songs with so much melancholy. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Langan, Frost and Wane - Langan, Frost and Wane




Released: 30 July 2021
Label: Goldstar Recordings
Buy Here


Langan, Frost & Wane, from Philadelphia, are a recent discovery for me and this is their debut. It is a wonderful Folk/Psych album with plenty of great storytelling, lovely melodies and musical arrangements.  

It opens with 'Perhaps The Sorcerer' which brought to mind the English Folk of Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention. The lyrics are quite fantasy/fairytale themed. It is beautifully produced, with flute and intricate mandolin work. 

'The Dandelion' is my favourite here, with surreal lyrics and memorable melodies and hooks. It has 60s Psych vibes too, and at times recalled Donovan.

Other highlights include 'King Laughter' which is more Baroque pop meets Folk and very catchy. The heartfelt and whimsical -  'Learn the Names of the Plants' has a lot of charm and is unique for recent music.

'She Walks Alone' is a dark love song with feelings of regret and longing. As with many of the songs here, the storytelling is superb and very atmospheric.

A highly recommended listen, especially if you love more folk sounding music.


Friday, 30 July 2021

RW Hedges - Interview




RW Hedges is one of the best, relatively unheard, songwriters in the UK today. Together with songwriting partner Luca Nieri (right in photo), they create wonderful pop songs, with lovely melodies and hooks. Their sound recalls the 60s of The Beatles, Kinks and The Left Banke, also with hints of Americana and 50s Doo-wop.

On 3 Sept this year, he will be releasing his fourth album - Year after Year. It will be released on the superb Wonderfulsound label. I catch up with RW Hedges and we talk about the new record and everything music related!




Q. You will soon be releasing 'Year after Year' the new album and follow up to 2019's Western themed 'The Hills are Old Songs'. What can we expect to hear? Does it have a theme like the last record?

A. Hi Julie, what to expect? I always hope to deliver a memorable song so I hope they can expect that. And I thought the same for The Hills are Old Songs but that was themed more like for a play? Here, if there is a theme, it could be song itself.


Q. What were the main inspirations for the songs? Were there any Artists, Films or Literature which inspired the writing?

A. Last year Luca and I felt the project we had was in the wrong time so we shelved that again and Luca suggested a set of songs more in the key of music we used to play/listen to from the early to mid 60s very much Kinks, Zombies and Beatles but also Bert Jansch or folk blues. There are even hidden American songbook elements in the odd line or structure. There is what we call a song triad and that happens with the first 3 tracks. It has a Noir story, a west coast journey and some songs that are about the writing process in a way. We didn’t need a library shelf dedicated to this; any research was done on the jog.




Q. Tell me about the recording process. How did you end up working with Matt Allwright (BBC Presenter) who provides pedal steel?

A. It all came together quickly, we know Matt Allwright through my mate Scott who runs Balcony shirts in Uxbridge (check our Tunnel Vision podcast show) Matt was quick to realise his parts and intuitively he played on the ones that work for pedal steel beautifully.

Luca is studio head musician as well as producer, all those lovely electric guitars, drums, bass, organ piano and bv’s is all Luca. He is a king of arrangements too! I’m ever so lucky. But I had to fashion my chords, melody or lyrics to the occasion. And my friend Dan Towler, also a songwriter, did some amazing additional vocals and you can’t tell which of us is which. I like that.

Most of all I like writing songs with Luca. He can always help a line or a chord along with fluidity. You need all these elements, I think.


Q. The album is very short - 9 songs and around 20 mins in total. Is there a reason why you go against the 'standard' durations which most songwriters today follow?

A. I think partly in order to go against the standard of 5 minute songs, if I’m honest. It isn’t as if you can’t listen again? There are lots of good long songs when the writer feels or the song shows they should be. Here we kept the songs lean, with a good chorus. I know they are popular but anthems are not my bag.


Q. For you, what constitutes as a 'great song'?

A. When a word is combined in perfect wedding to melody and vice versa. It is hard to write convincingly I reckon. 'My Heart Stood Still' by Rodgers & Hart is a song I love, and I love them. That is a gold standard writing team. I look to them and use them as a bar way too high for me.




Q. Did you start writing songs at a young age? What started your love of music?

A. I sang to my mum at night as a baby, so I am told. I was in school choir and later in a Youth theatre where I met half of my first band that Luca was drummer in. I played Joey Biltmore in Guys and Dolls, Burt in Blitz, Mr Fox in Pinocchio. I love acting. Started writing at 14. It was all about guitars and gigs and sweating a lot back then.


Q. Is there a song you have written, or an album you are most proud of?

A. 'Signal Man', 'Haven't Seen Her in a While', 'Just a Fool', '80's Beach Emotion'. The album I am proudest of is 'Year After Year' (contractually obligated). I really like some of my comedy songs but my songs with Luca are the best really.




Q. What started with your fascination with The American Songbook, Broadway Musicals e.t.c.?

A. I was feeling low one day, I didn’t know what to do so I watched South Pacific which I’d seen along with many musicals before but this time it hit me properly. All the color and passion and brilliance of it. I then ordered in books and searched for hours to find more and more information. Luca and I both looked at chords and listened and talked a fair bit. The American songbook has had a massive effect on our great songwriters; Davies, Coward, McCartney and more.

They are sadly overlooked now, people like Dorothy Fields. But anyone who reads this can start up with the brilliant Afterglow radio from beautiful Bloomington Indiana. Mark Chilla has an archive and you’ll find the standards are a treat.



Q. Your first album Almanac (2008) is very different to your later ones with Luca Nieri. Do you find it better to work in a team? Does it affect the songwriting/creativity?

A. It is much better for me to be in a team. If the producer is also a proper musician and then an actual writer who really sees a way forward then you are so close to a tighter vision? The discussion is very important. So are surroundings. We write in a spot off the grid, and I do collage art, whilst Luca is a brilliant artist and can turn to graffiti or stark pencil works and paintings that are brilliant. Art is a really important part of our vision; it is as much therapy as music. Luca edits our videos taking all artistic responsibility into the fold. It is a way and it does help gel stuff to be honest. On a personal note, I would like access to a bunch of Jazz musicians in Prague. We could record and then have food just off of Charles bridge?


Q. You recorded a number of superb demos with your old band Starky (90s/early 00s). How do you look back on your experiences with the band? Will the songs ever be released?

A. We were good. Had lots of fun. Luca was 1st drummer then went off to do all manner of brilliant music and art. Our next drummer was Jody Moroney (great drummer name) who now plays with a few acts including a project with Little Barry.

We never released a thing. The band we were gigging and writing madly and recorded most of our stuff on Tascam 4 trks later 8 trks. I had a side blues and folk novelty gig of sitting on pub stools and belching at people. I was pretty good, I was honest and no-one was then really. The open mic nights were a scam. I went for travelling gigs and the odd residency.




Q. What are your favourite experiences/places you have visited e.t.c. whilst making music?

A. Greek Islands. It is the purest light in the centre of the world and you can breathe and be yourself and melt into the landscape.


Q. Do you have any plans for new projects, gigs e.t.c. in the future?

A. We are writing all the time for different bits n bobs. But we will try to do a Christmas song every year from now if we can, since we have done 4 these few years and we really enjoy it.

Check out Luca’s Etrurian Shades album. I love the Luca Nieri albums and people should hear all of them. Certainly, Spring to Summer 2022 is a goal for the next project from Luca and I.




Preorder the new album Year After Year, here on Wonderfulsound 
Release date: 3 Sept (though expected Aug), 2021
 





Saturday, 24 July 2021

Wojtek the Bear - Heaven by the Back Door




Released: 16 July 2021
Label: Last Night From Glasgow
Listen and Buy Here


Scottish indie band - Wojtek the Bear, are back with a new album. It is a sublime listen, their sound brought to mind fellow Scots -  Trashcan Sinatras and Aztec Camera. 

It opens with 'Ferme La Bouche' which is upbeat with an anthemic, catchy chorus. There are hints of brass, which reminded me of one of my favourite 80s bands - The Pale Fountains.

The gloriously melodic 'One Things For Certain' is the standout here, with lovely strings, and slightly melancholic lyrics. 

Other highlights include 'Luck or Design' which is a sad breakup song but surprisingly upbeat. It has some heartbreaking lyrics - "I used to think you were a prize. Now your words cut like knives." 

'Heaven by the Back Door' is another highlight here, with sweeping harmonies. It has themes of religion, finding who you are e.t.c. 'Packing Parachutes' is a very emotional listen with strong emphasis on the beautiful strings, which are prominent on this album.

A wonderfully produced album, full of well-written songs. Highly recommended.


Thursday, 22 July 2021

Ali Horn - Balcony Boys




Released: 16 July 2021
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here


Ali Horn, from Liverpool, is a recent discovery for me. His debut album is a superb listen, with hints of Velvet Underground (particularly Lou Reed) and Echo and the Bunnymen.  

It opens with 'Sun it Rises' which is wonderfully atmospheric and laid-back. It has some really psychedelic lyrics - "Find a girl that makes you see explosions the sky, sit her down and tell her all the colours in your mind".

'Feels like Home' is more of a moody love song, full of longing. The hooks are superb and it even has a fantastic whistling solo. 'Managed Decline' recalls The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane and is very Summery sounding. 

'Badman' is my favourite here and is more Folk. It is a very heartfelt break up song. 'La Brea Tar' is heartbreaking and deals with themes of depression and poverty. 'Balcony Boys' is slightly more electronic, with the 90s vibes of Spiritualized. 

It ends on 'End Credits' which is upbeat but with quirky and morbid lyrics. - "So sing a happy song, cos I know that it won't be long till we are lying there eternally."

A Superb debut album and highly recommended Summer listening.