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.