Welcome to Bliss/Aquamarine - alternative, underground and indie music.

SINGLE REVIEWS

THE WOWZ Go Figure CD (Acuarela)
4 song EP from this 60s influenced band. Love Is is based on early 60s-ish pop music with vocal harmonies, but adds a slightly ramshackle, undergroundy touch to the sound, along with quirky lyrics like "colourful and slippy as a rainbow trout". Three Women Blues mixes blues and 60s pop with added quirk factor. I Go Wild is laid-back 60s-ish pop balladry. Bubbles in a Bath is happy-go-lucky, catchy retro pop with wacky, nonsense-rhyme lyrics. The 60s pop sound has been done time and time again, but The WoWz manage to put their own stamp on it with their off-centre sense of humour. Available from www.acuareladiscos.com

THE BEVIS FROND The Bevis Frond Estate 7" (Respect Vinyl)
Great to see the return of The Bevis Frond! This 4 track 7" EP on brand new label Respect Vinyl is cleverly packaged in a sleeve that copies the style of 60s record sleeves down to the tiniest detail; even the age-related grime is reproduced here. The songs were recorded in mono for a similarly authentic 60s sound. I Think It's Time features suitably retro harmony vocals, tambourine and vintage organ. She Got Me Good is crunchy garage rock. Life Support is the heavier end of mod, with more of that swirly organ sound, whilst they opt for a 60s rock sound on Tell Me When I'm Gone. A fantastic set of songs that Bevis Frond fans, and fans of authentically-produced retro music in general, cannot afford to miss. Available from www.respectvinyl.co.uk

THE MORRISONS Southern Soul 3" CDR (Susy)
THE MORRISONS Looking for Jeanie 3" CDR (Cloudberry)

The Morrisons are an old-school indiepop band, originally around in the 80s, who reformed in more recent years playing music in much the same spirit as the original 80s form of indiepop. Southern Soul is brilliant old-style indiepop with that classic jangly guitar sound. Down to the River is reminiscent of Mighty Mighty or early Orange Juice. Burning Light is another slice of classic indiepop that sounds authentically mid 80s.
The next CD includes Looking for Jeanie, which nods towards American folk-rock whilst still being rooted within the mid 80s UK indiepop scene. Slow Dawning is 80s jangly indiepop meets 60s pop. Cranberry Street is more subdued and melancholic than much of The Morrisons' other stuff, dealing with such grim realities as debt, ageing, dereliction and death. The tune still manages to be very catchy, despite the song's pessimistic outlook.
The Morrisons show that authentic-sounding indiepop is still very much alive. The songs genuinely sound like they were recorded at the time when indiepop was at its prime. The music is just as exciting to listen to now as back in the early 90s when I first had my life changed by this genre. I wholeheartedly recommend The Morrisons to anyone with an interest in old-style indiepop. Info at www.myspace.com/themorrisons, www.susyrecords.com, and www.cloudberryrecords.com

THE MORRISONS Rainy Day EP CD (Pastime)
Just in, this latest release from The Morrisons. Here, backing vocalist Elaine Churchward plays a bigger role than on much of their other material, providing vocals on all four tracks. Rainy Day is a well-crafted indiepop number with twin male/female vocals and mega-jangly guitar. Do I Care is another prime slice of old-school indiepop. Mystery Girl combines influences from 80s indiepop, 60s pop and 60s American folk-rock. Brighter Days also draws from 60s US folk, whilst also adding clattering drums and tambourine for maximum DIY indiepop effect. The Morrisons are a continually impressive band, perhaps THE most exciting indiepop band I've heard in recent years. Visit their site at www.freewebs.com/themorrisonsband

NATIONAL PASTIME Coma EP CD (Pastime)
Pastime Records looks to be a promising source for old-school indiepop. Here we have four tracks from Pastime label owner Andy Botterill's own band National Pastime, covering various flavours of 80s/early 90s-influenced indiepop. Coma and Read Your Mind are jangly retro indiepop, whilst Goldsworthy Gurney juxtaposes crunchy, noisy guitars and plinky-plonky piano for a raw and slightly off-centre brand of noisepop, and Judge a Book By Its Cover is a bouncy janglepop number with added lo-tech retro synth. They are selling this EP for just 1 - more info on the label at www.myspace.com/pastimerecordings

ANDY B/SEX SUX split CDR EP (Dufflecoat)
Two tracks each from Exeter's Andy B (also of National Pastime and Pastime Records) and Sex Sux from Indonesia. The indiepop scene I was originally involved in back in the early 90s always was an international phenomenon, but it has clearly spread even further now, what with people as far away as Indonesia getting involved! Andy B appears with two songs from his recent Letters Home album: Television Girl and At the End of the Day. Both songs are inspired by old-school indiepop, the latter track sounding particularly in the spirit of the original indiepop genre due to its classic jangly guitar sound. Sex Sux must surely get their name from The Vaselines' song Sex Sux (Amen). Like The Vaselines, their music is a mix of DIY indiepop and raucous garage rock, where sweet melodies are combined with searing, riotous guitar noise. Dufflecoat Records' website shows they have a lot of interesting looking indiepop stuff going on, including releases from early 90s bands who have more recently reformed, such as The Proctors and Peru. For more info on Andy B, visit www.myspace.com/andybotterill. Dufflecoat Records can be found at www.dufflecoatrecords.com

FUNNY LITTLE DREAM/TENDER OBJECTS split CDR EP (Dufflecoat)
Funny Little Dream appear with two tracks of retro indiepop straight out of the early 1990s. It's Summertime has all the hallmarks of the more twee end of that genre. The guitars jangle away, whilst male and female vocalists sing romantic and carefree lyrics about being in love in the summer. Finally Found Someone is a slower, more reflective track with a certain dreampop-like atmosphere, although without the noise emphasis of most dreampop. Tender Objects represent the rawer, noisier, more lo-fi side of indiepop with their song April Showers, which combines a melodic pop sensibility with a hyper-energetic punk spirit. In Heaven Can Wait, they opt for a more jangly sound that harks back to the mid 80s indiepop scene, but there is still quite an angular nature to this side of their sound, and an aggressive, rebellious attitude that's raring to get out.
I'd been away from indiepop for a few years, and until fairly recently had no real idea of the sort of state the genre was in these days, but it is exciting to discover a thriving indiepop scene being ably represented by labels like Dufflecoat and Pastime. I'm delighted to find out that there are still bands and labels around today in the same spirit as the indiepop scene that literally changed my life 20-odd years ago. For more info on Dufflecoat Records, visit www.dufflecoatrecords.com

THE LOST HOMEBOYS Leaving Town EP CDR (Dufflecoat)
Four track EP from Swedish band The Lost Homeboys. S Is For Secrets is janglepop with atmospheric dreampop effects and soaring strings. Condorwings is superb jangly indiepop similar to the early Sarah Records sound. No Man's Land is dark and atmospheric, with a bleak post-punk feel and some effective use of violin. Leaving Town is old-school jangly and melancholic indiepop; again they have quite a Sarah-ish thing going on here. These are really superb songs - I'm eager to hear more from this band. Available from www.dufflecoatrecords.com

THE SILENT LOVE Painted Feelings CDR (Dufflecoat)
Five tracks from this jangly old-school indiepop band. Before You're Gone and There's Something I Need To Tell You have shades of assorted Sarah bands, most notably Another Sunny Day and The Hit Parade. Mad About the Girl is in the most part twee janglepop, but they break the mould by throwing in some rockish guitar soloing. The song has a catchy chorus, and some charmingly lo-tech drum machine. Julia is a smooth, but not at all bland, early 90s style indiepop number. Again there's a really catchy tune. Painted Feelings is something of a departure from the other tracks, being a laid-back instrumental based around piano and synthesised orchestration. I believe The Silent Love are another Indonesian band. Kudos to Dufflecoat for finding indiepop in unexpected places! www.dufflecoatrecords.com

DOWNDIME Satellite Distortions CDR (Dufflecoat)
7 track EP from Leeds band Downdime, who combine a punky powerpop sound along similar lines to Boyracer with shoegazerish atmospheric noise, indierock, and spacey and even proggy keyboard work. There is also a quieter, more introspective side to their sound as heard in the indiepop track Carousel, but even that has guts, and the band make sure to throw in a bit of noise here and there when it suits them. The Chosen One reminds me in places of REM, but also has tinges of early 90s indiepop. The band introduce cello into this song, providing a big, dramatic and sophisticated sound. Angela is excellent catchy noisepop with some inventive use of keyboards. Run Across the Sun is a 6 minute song that effectively combines the quiet and noisy varieties of indiepop with woozy atmospheric effects. Downdime have an energetic and emotional sound that is recommended for noisepop fans, whilst being unafraid to venture beyond the boundaries of regular noisepop and incorporate imaginative, creative ideas of their own. Available from www.dufflecoatrecords.com

JACK ELLISTER The Man With the Biochopper 7" (Regal Crabmophone)
Jack Ellister, formerly of Angina Pectoris and Yordan Orchestra, returns with this new solo single out on Regal Crabmophone, an offshoot of Fruits de Mer Records that was set up specifically to release 7" singles featuring a combination of original compositions and 60s/70s cover versions. Here we have Jack's own song The Man With the Biochopper and his cover of the Rolling Stones' Citadel. The Man With the Biochopper is a fantastic psych track that takes in multiple styles and moods. You could say that it condenses an entire album into three and a half minutes, such is the diversity crammed into this piece. There's spacey, flowing guitar work, the boing-a-boing of the Jew's harp, psych-pop eccentricity, an intense rock guitar solo, ethereal moments to rival those of any shoegaze band, and a menacing, dark, brutal edge. Citadel is equally great melodic psych-rock with piano and lashings of meandering psychedelic guitar. Jack Ellister has been working on a solo album and is currently looking for a label to release it. Further info at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com and www.jackellister.com

FLAMING JUNE Blood, Sweat and Tears EP CD (Anchoress)
Flaming June is the musical project of vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Louise Hamilton, who has been recording music under this name with an assortment of backing musicians over the last 20 years. Flaming June was one of the few underground folk bands I was in touch with back in the 90s, and it is great to know that Louise and co are still actively involved in music. This EP is a compilation, bringing together songs from their last few releases. The music here may be acoustic, but it packs a punch with Louise's powerful voice and her passionate and at times vengeful lyrics. There are full band arrangements, fleshed out with multiple instruments including guitar, piano, violin, drums and woodwind. The songs show an effective combination of contemporary songwriting and traditional folk influences. Final track Rejoice is one of Flaming June's older tracks from before their reinvention as an acoustic band. This track is more of a folk-rock thing, with crunchy electric guitar and a touch of synth sharing the same space as traditional-style fiddling. All really excellent stuff! More info at www.flamingjune.co.uk

LA SVOLTA PSICHEDELICA Prova Adesso 7" (La Locomotiva)
Since completing this issue's article on The Vegetable Man Project, the Syd Barrett tribute series co-run by Dario Antonetti, I have received the latest batch of releases from Dario, starting with this one track 7" from his current band La Svolta Psichedelica (The Psychedelic Turning Point). The first part of the track combines the fuzzy guitars of garage punk rock (and a matching vocal snarl) with shoegaze-like ethereal harmony vocals, as well as 'bop-showaddy-waddy' backing vocals inspired by 1950s pop. Halfway through, the track morphs into a much more psychedelic affair with mindbending sound effects and atmospheric noise.
I have also received the new album from La Svolta Psichedelica and the latest edition of The Vegetable Man Project, so stay tuned for reviews of these coming soon. More info on La Svolta Psichedelica at www.la-locomotiva.com and www.myspace.com/darioantonetti

ANTON BARBEAU Psychedelic Mynde of Moses 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Prolific psych-pop songwriter Anton Barbeau needs no introduction to readers of Aquamarine. Over the last few years he has released a string of albums on labels such as Woronzow and Pink Hedgehog, and now there's this three song 7" out on Fruits de Mer, a vinyl only label specialising in psychedelia and related genres. Here Anton has teamed up with two former members of Robyn Hitchcock's bands The Soft Boys and The Egyptians, as well as Nick Saloman aka The Bevis Frond, who contributes his own unmistakable brand of guitar work to the title track. Psychedelic Mynde of Moses is absolutely brilliant, ultra-melodic powerpop with a certain surreal lyrical sensibility along with lashings of psych-rock guitar courtesy of the aforementioned Nick Saloman. The other two tracks here are cover versions. First up, there is a version of Sometimes I Wish I Was A Pretty Girl by Robyn Hitchcock, setting warped and crass lyrics to off-kilter psych-tinged powerpop. Finally we have a version of Julian Cope's Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed, that combines a strongly catchy 60s-ish pop melody with chugging powerpop riffage and surreal, spacey sound effects. The covers are much in the spirit of Anton Barbeau's own material, and there is much here to delight fans of Anton's off-centre yet mega-catchy brand of psychey powerpop. Available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

THE CHEMISTRY SET Come Kiss Me Vibrate And Smile 7" (Regal Crabomophone)
Out on Fruits de Mer's Regal Crabomophone offshoot is this new single from The Chemistry Set - yes, the same Chemistry Set who were originally around in the late 80s and early 90s! They had records out on the Imaginary label, gaining placings in the Indie Top 20 and regular airplay on John Peel's show. They were also supporters of DIY underground efforts, which in those days meant flexidiscs, fanzines and homemade tapes sold by mailorder - a music scene I remember well. The Chemistry Set had tapes out on Acid Tapes, a DIY tape label run by Steve Lines of Stormclouds, and three fanzine-powered flexis.
Come Kiss Me Vibrate And Smile is the second of two singles from The Chemistry Set to be released by Fruits de Mer, following a 17 year break. The single features two of their own songs plus a cover of Hallucinations by 60s band Tomorrow. The music here brings together all the best elements of early 90s atmospheric indie music (I'm reminded particularly of Ride in places) and 60s psychedelia, both pop and rock varieties. The title track features some effective use of Farfisa organ and lashings of psychedelic effects, whilst Time To Breathe incorporates some spaced out slide guitar and electronic bleepery, and Hallucinations is melodic jangly harmony pop with an added rock kick.
Another brilliant release from Fruits de Mer - available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

PERMANENT CLEAR LIGHT Higher than the Sun 7" (Regal Crabomophone)
Two tracks from Finnish psychedelic band Permanent Clear Light. First up, their own composition Higher than the Sun, which is laid-back retro rock with psychedelic and progressive tendencies. There is an effective mix here of chiming guitars, spacey sound effects, and sophisticated orchestration. The second track is a cover of Peter Hammill/Van Der Graaf Generator's Afterwards. The melody of this combines a melodic pop sensibility with almost folky leanings, whilst the instrumentation is an atmospheric blend of laid-back psych-rock and ambient music, which works well. Available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com - but be quick! Fruits De Mer is proving to be a highly collectable label, and their releases sell out pretty much as soon as they are released.

THE HALSTEAD CLAN 6 track EP (self released)
Debut EP from The Halstead Clan, Bradford-based band inspired by folk and 60s pop. Tonight is catchy, upbeat pop with handclaps, vocal harmonies and an authentically 60s-sounding arrangement. When the Wind Changes is fantastic folky retro pop, really well-crafted. Dreams is based around piano and acoustic guitar; there are more vocal harmonies and folky inclinations, and it's a must for fans of the more laid-back side of 60s folk-rock. Always the Same is a minimalistic acoustic number inspired by 60s pop and folk-tinged singer-songwriter music. You and No-one Else is a prime slice of minimalistic alt-folk-pop with witty lyrics. Dance Around the Fire is another predominantly acoustic track, this time adding woodwind for extra folky effect. Available on iTunes or www.soundcloud.com/thehalsteadclan

PETER LACEY Grinmace CD (Pink Hedgehog)
A grinmace is a half-smile, half-frown. It is also a concept EP from Peter Lacey, based around the couple who ran the SMiLE Shoppe and what happened to them once Brian Wilson's SMiLE album finally saw the light of day. Peter explains that the title Grinmace is also "mirrored in Brian Wilson's chequered life, the irony of creating a music that makes so many people happy, bringing bright sun to the far northern hemisphere, while he, meanwhile, stayed in his room, beset by troubles".
Brian Wilson is an obvious influence on the music itself, which is in the most part a sunny yet sophisticated brand of harmony pop. However, it is not like Peter Lacey to stick to one formula throughout an EP or album, and sure enough he also incorporates a variety of other sounds on Grinmace. The multi-part second track Heyday/Slump/Closing Time is a quirky, psychedelic toy piano/bells/car horns thing that morphs into a smooth blend of chamber pop, harmony pop and classic soul. Our Light features recited vocals over a dark, unsettling mixture of synths and percussion. Paradise Cove incorporates Lacey's trademark harmony vocals into a blues-rock arrangement, before transforming into a floaty, airy, almost otherworldly synth and vocal piece.
Another very fine release from this prolific artist. Available from www.pinkhedgehog.com and also as a download from Amazon or iTunes.

THE LUCK OF EDEN HALL Crystal Ship 7" (Regal Crabomophone)
4 tracks from Chicago-based psych-rock outfit The Luck of Eden Hall. There are covers of tracks by The Doors (Crystal Ship) and SRC (Black Sheep), and two of the band's own songs taken from their recent Alligators Eat Gumdrops album. The covers have a more obviously retro sound, whereas their own material shows more willingness to experiment musically, and it's these own compositions that grab me the most. Bangalore is an energetic, noisy yet melodic number combining sitar, vocal harmonies and a strong tune with punky riffage. Whilst incorporating sitar into psychedelic music is nothing new, The Luck of Eden Hall's take on Indian-tinged psychedelia has far more bite than previous experiments along these lines. This Is Strange is another intense, heavy track which again combines the energy and aggression of punk with psychedelic effects, whilst still retaining a strong melody. It's essentially hard-edged powerpop meets psych-rock, the song lurching dizzyingly from one speaker to the other for maximum psychedelic effect. As with everything on Regal Crabomophone/Fruits de Mer, this is a very limited edition release - grab a copy from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com before it's too late!

TEMPLE MUSIC/VESPERO Fruits de Mer Annual 2013 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Temple Music, one of several musical projects of Alan Trench, former co-proprietor of dark folk distribution service World Serpent, cover The Hollies' Pegasus. This acts as a taster for a Hollies covers LP due for release on Fruits de Mer early in 2013. This is a fantastic version, with lashings of psychedelic guitar and burbling spacey synth over a chugging/droning backdrop. The melodic vocals of Tracy Jeffery work really well with the song. On the other side, Russia's Vespero cover Jennifer by Faust. This track was originally intended for inclusion on Fruits de Mer's Head Music compilation, but arrived too late to be included. Fruits de Mer considered it too good to ignore however, so here it is. Experimental and psychedelic components are combined with a hypnotically chugging rhythm and a strong melody, to great effect. If Temple Music and Vespero's own material is anything like these tracks, I'm very keen to hear more from both bands. A really brilliant release, available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

VARIOUS The League of Psychedelic Gentlemen 7" (Fruits de Mer)
4 track split EP starring four well-established names from the current psychedelic scene. nick nicely appears with Rosemary's Eyes, in which catchy psych-pop meets powerful psych-rock, accompanied by flowing, atmospheric synth effects. The Bevis Frond's I'm A Stone is an excellent psych-rock/powerpop hybrid with slight folky inclinations in the melody. Anton Barbeau with Three Minute Tease's When I Was 46 (In the Year 13) is off-centre yet ultra-melodic powerpop with psychedelic and experimental touches, including some effective use of bleeping and whooshing sci-fi synth effects. Paul Roland's The Puppet Master is a remix of a recently rediscovered track from 1980, which features Knox of the Vibrators and Robyn Hitchcock on backing vocals. Its lyrics are inspired by American horror comics, and musically it combines a strong melody with elements of psychedelia and vintage horror movie soundtrack, to great effect. No duff tracks to be heard here - it's a definite must for fans of modern psychedelia. Available from Fruits de Mer as above.

VARIOUS The White EP double 7" (Fruits de Mer)
A tribute to The Beatles' White Album, featuring eight tracks recorded exclusively for this release. The Luck of Eden Hall do an intense, rockish version of Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey. The Pretty Things' blisteringly psychedelic interpretation of Helter Skelter cannot be ignored. Jack Ellister provides a delightfully off-centre version of Dear Prudence, with some effective use of bells and chimes. Cranium Pie's The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill is by far the weirdest track here, being a bizarre, genre-hopping, prog-jazz-experimental sort of thing. Henry Padovani, of The Flying Padovanis, contributes an acoustic guitar/synth version of Long Long Long, which is superb. At least, it is at the beginning. I never got to hear the rest of the track because my somewhat temperamental CD player spat out the CDR promo as it occasionally gets in a huff with CDRs. Also appearing are Anton Barbeau's new band Three Minute Tease, The Bevis Frond, and The Seventh Ring of Saturn (with versions of Cry Baby Cry, Glass Onion, and Savoy Truffle respectively). I don't generally consider myself much of a Beatles fan, but there is some very enjoyable stuff here, especially the fantastic tracks by The Pretty Things and Jack Ellister, and what I was able to hear of Henry Padovani. Available from Fruits de Mer as above.

THE HALSTEAD CLAN Fine Hopes CD (self released)
New 5-track EP from 60s-influenced folk-pop outfit The Halstead Clan. White Moon is a laid-back and fairly minimalist piece with a strong and moving melody. In the End is a fine example of folk-tinged pop with a melancholic atmosphere and some effective use of cello. Come Home is cheery acoustic pop with twin male/female vocals and folky accordion. Part of Me is an impressive acoustic number incorporating strings and piano, and combining aspects of melancholic pop and late 60s American folk-rock. Final track Crying Shame is also heavily influenced by late 60s American folk-rock, and has a strong catchy tune that stays in the head. Another enjoyable release from The Halstead Clan. Visit www.soundcloud.com/thehalsteadclan

JAMES McKEOWN/JULIE'S HAIRCUT/SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS The Soft and Strange One 7" (Fruits de Mer)
This is a promo EP issued to promote the Soft Hearted Scientists' new album False Lights (which isn't actually on Fruits de Mer, but FdM have been helping out with promotion) and Fruits de Mer's Strange Fish compilation series, due for release in mid June. The 7" isn't actually for sale, but free copies are being sent out to people who order the Strange Fish series early enough. As well as a track from False Lights, there are two edited tracks from Strange Fish Two and Four. Soft Hearted Scientists' Songs from the River is addictive, well-crafted psych-pop incorporating sitar, theremin, vintage synth, piano, and beats that sound like something out of 1980s house music. Its jolly, sunny atmosphere masks pointed sociopolitical commentary about inflated house prices and huge corporations taking over the planet. Euclid Dreaming by James McKeown (from Strange Fish Four) is a folky, psychey instrumental piece that is very lovely and has made me curious to hear more from this artist. Julie's Haircut's Tarazed (from Strange Fish Two) combines meandering, mesmeric psychedelic aspects with jazz and funk. I will be reviewing the full albums these tracks are from shortly, but in the meantime visit www.fruitsdemerrecords.com for more info.

CRYSTAL JACQUELINE A Fairy Tale 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Three cover versions from Crystal Jacqueline (also of the band The Honey Pot). First up is the creepy, twisted incest song Cousin Jane, originally by The Troggs, and given a whole new layer of meaning when it is sung by a woman. The song features sophisticated accompaniment based around piano and orchestral-sounding synths. Next is A Fairy Tale, originally by Second Hand, which brings together raw garage rock riffage with whimsical synthesised harpsichord and an angular proggy chorus. Finally there is a cover of The Rolling Stones' Play With Fire, performed here as mellow psych-rock with prog undercurrents. Available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

JACK ELLISTER Dawn Dream Club 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Holland's Jack Ellister, formerly of Angina Pectoris and Yordan Orchestra, returns with his second single for Fruits de Mer, this time all cover versions. There's a slightly off-centre psych-rock version of The Beatles' Within You, Without You, and a version of Syd Barrett's Flaming, which combines psych-pop whimsy with eerie sound effects. My particular favourite track is the very fine psych-folk piece Song for Wild, originally by Mark Fry, who has himself recorded for Fruits de Mer. As with all Fruits de Mer releases, this is limited edition and vinyl only, and can be purchased via www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

STAY Mersey Dream 7" (Regal Crabomophone)
4 song 7" from Spanish band Stay, starting with their own composition Mersey Dream, which combines 60s psych-rock and mod influences with the more commercially successful end of 90s indie music, which was itself essentially a contemporary take on 60s music. The other three tracks on the 7" are cover versions. Guess I Was Dreaming, by The Fairytale, has a retro feel, but ultimately sounds more like something from the 90s Britpop milieu than the more strictly vintage and/or underground sounds Regal Crabomophone and its parent label Fruits de Mer are more often known for. The Beatles' If I Needed Someone appears next, a somewhat grittier recording than the original, which includes organ and sitar. Finally there is a version of Marmalade's I See the Rain, combining bouncy pop with retro rock, and incorporating a very catchy organ riff. It's not terribly surprising to learn that Stay were asked to support both Beady Eye and Ocean Colour Scene on their Spanish tours. Another 90s band Stay put me in mind of is Kula Shaker. Whereas many retro bands around today are firmly underground, Stay's approach has more contemporary mainstream appeal, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them become very popular. More info at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

ME AND MY KITES The Band 7" (Regal Crabomophone)
Me and My Kites are a young band from Sweden with a love of early 70s psychedelia. One of the bands that inspired them was Fuchsia, the name Me and My Kites being taken from a song on Fuchsia's 1971 debut LP. Me and My Kites had got hold of some 1972 demos by Fuchsia, including the song The Band, and had the idea of inviting Tony Durant of Fuchsia to sing on their own version of the track. The end result is a fantastic psych-folk-prog sort of thing with atmospheric, almost choral sounding female backing vocals and some nice use of cello. Also appearing here is Isis' Adventure, written by David Svedmyr of Me and My Kites. The 'ba-ba-badabada' and 'la-la-la' vocals, flute, bossa nova-ish percussion, and ethereal harp give a soft, smooth feel to the music that is very much akin to 60s sunshine pop or lounge music, although the track has an additional surreal and warped sound that pushes it much further into psychedelic territory and avoids any possibility of the music getting tarred with the 'easy listening' brush. A very enjoyable single from a band I would be interested to hear more from. Available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

WHITE SAILS Laguna Sunrise 7" (Regal Crabomophone)
Having dismissed Black Sabbath as simply a metal band, I was completely unaware that they were also responsible for a couple of surprisingly delicate instrumental tracks entitled Laguna Sunrise and Fluff. Both tracks are covered here by Finnish/Californian band White Sails, which comprises members of Mellow Drunk, Dora Flood, and The Bias. White Sails' versions of these tracks are mellow, gentle instrumentals with folky and psychey touches, but which ultimately transcend genre. There is nothing remotely metally about them and I for one would never have guessed they were written by Black Sabbath. Also on the EP are two other instrumental pieces in a similar vein, composed by White Sails' Ville Vilpponen and Leigh Gregory respectively. Ville Vilpponen's The Answer straddles the boundaries between psych, folk, prog and post-rock, while Leigh Gregory's Death on a Pale Horse has a more overtly folky melody and some effective incorporation of cello. Worth checking out - available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

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