JULY Can I Go Back Again 7" (Fruits de Mer)
CRYSTAL JACQUELINE Morning Dew 7" (Fruits de Mer/Regal Crabomophone)
May 9th brings us two new 7" singles from Fruits de Mer, both pressed on coloured vinyl and strictly limited edition. 60s psych band July are best known for their self-titled album from 1968, which is highly sought after among collectors. The band returned in 2011 with a series of gigs, before releasing their new album Resurrection. Now Fruits de Mer bring us a new two-track 7" featuring an extended version and a demo version of one of the songs from Resurrection, Can I Go Back Again. Dreamlike 60s-ish psych-pop with sitar and tablas is beefed up with intense bursts of psych-rock guitar and forceful vocals, the lyrics expressing nostalgia for the decade that birthed the band, weaving Beatles song titles into a coherent lyrical narrative.
Meanwhile, Crystal Jacqueline appears with three covers of vintage tracks and a new song written by her bandmate Icarus Peel. Bonnie Dobson and Tim Rose's Morning Dew is reinterpreted here as a mix of folk, 60s pop, sitar psych, and maybe a touch of Kate Bush. Icarus Peel's Ivy is hazy, dreamlike and slightly eerie balladry. Moonsong:Pelog, originally by Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies, is very lovely sunshine pop-tinged psych, ornamented with tinkling glockenspiel, floaty flute, and more of that dreamlike atmospheric vibe that has characterised much of Crystal Jacqueline's work of late. The Jaynetts' Sally Go Round the Roses envelops early 60s R&B in a late 60s psychedelic haze. Order the singles at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
CATHOLIC DANCE ACADEMY Triangulated CDR (self-released)
Debut EP from Coventry-based duo Catholic Dance Academy, comprising Jon E. Hardy and Melina Cook. Jon has a long history in the indiepop scene, with bands such as The Pristines, Balloon Farm, and Dolores Haze, but Catholic Dance Academy is something of a departure from his earlier music. Powerless is spiky indie rock shot through with a sense of deep melancholy. Chaos Inside Your Head is an effective mix of harsh yet melodic indie rock and experimental electronica. Bacon Situations is an inventive art-rock piece that offsets hard-edged synthpop and forceful recited vocals with a delicate, intricate melody played on an instrument with a harp-like tone, though I don't think it's actually a harp. The EP has a good mix of melody, noise/anger/bleakness, and experimental sensibilities, and I'd be interested to hear what else they may come up with in future. Available at catholicdanceacademy.bandcamp.com
ANDY B Pandora's Box and Let's Talk About it Later Baby CDRs (Pastime)
NATIONAL PASTIME Perfect in Every Way CDR (Pastime)
ANT SMITH Summer Day CDR (Pastime)
Four limited edition 2-track singles released simultaneously on Pastime Records. Andy B and National Pastime's singles are taken from, and act as tasters for, their albums, whilst Ant Smith returns to Pastime Records with his first release in several years, the songs being exclusive to this single. The first of the two Andy B singles, Pandora's Box, features two bittersweet retro indiepop songs from the side of his sound that's all about jangly guitars, airy dreamlike keyboards, and a melancholic yet hopeful mood. Let's Talk About it Later Baby is a punchier track, nodding towards rock whilst still being rooted within the indiepop scene. Accompanying track Worth the Wait is full of that classic jangly sound that fans of old school indiepop will love. National Pastime also features Andy B alongside Andrew Padfield, Scott Morrison (ex-Morrisons), and Chris Head. Their Perfect in Every Way juxtaposes a rollicking 1980s indiepop sound with sentiments of unrequited love. This song is paired with Summer Haze, another slice of broken-hearted vintage-style indiepop. Ant Smith provides two stripped-down, lo-fi acoustic tracks that bridge the gap between indiepop, hometaper singer-songwriters, and contemporary folk. The singles are available on CD from pastimerecords.webs.com or download from pastimerecords.bandcamp.com
HOLOGRAM TEEN Marsangst pink vinyl 7" (Happy Robots)
Hologram Teen is the solo project of former Stereolab keyboardist Morgane Lhote. The two tracks here are just as much fun as the strawberry bubblegum pink vinyl and space-age comic cover art suggest. Motorik rhythms, bedroom electronica, experimental music, and vintage horror movie soundtracks all come together in Marsangst, while Hex These Rules is a brilliant DIY subversion of glitzy 1980s synthpop, adding piano riffage and cut-up samples sounding much like the best bits of 1980s house. Whilst essentially a techno/house single, it's far more REAL than anything of this ilk that you'll find in the charts. Fantastic stuff, a real blast of fresh air! Limited to 300 copies and already selling fast on pre-order, the 7" is released 1st July 2016 and is available at www.happyrobots.co.uk
VIBRAVOID In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 7" (Fruits de Mer)
SIDEWALK SOCIETY Can't Help Thinking About Me 7" (Fruits de Mer)
ASTRALASIA/ICARUS PEEL/BLUE GIANT ZETA PUPPIES The Fruits de Mer Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 7" (Fruits de Mer)
August 9th 2016 sees the release of three new 7"s from Fruits de Mer Records, all limited edition and on coloured vinyl. First up, Vibravoid cover Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, a 10 minute plus track divided into two parts and spread over two sides of a 7" single! The original version dates from a time when psychedelia was beginning to take on a harder edge, a process that would ultimately spark off the beginnings of heavy metal. This is reflected in Vibravoid's cover, which features heavy-hitting guitar riffage and powerful vocals alongside meandering psychedelic organ improvisation and spacey sound effects. They also incorporate a lengthy drum solo part way between tribal/shamanistic rhythms and jazz, and a touch of church-style organ, perhaps intended as a nod towards the song's title deriving from 'In the Garden of Eden'. A heady, impressive offering from a band who are understandably included among Fruits de Mer's most popular outfits.
Next we have Sidewalk Society's 4 track EP consisting of cover versions of The Action and David Bowie songs. Lest anyone suspect the Bowie covers are a cynical effort to cash in on his death, the band did in fact record these songs when Bowie was still alive, having no knowledge that he was so ill. Sidewalk Society have opted to explore the lesser-known side of Bowie's output here, choosing two tracks from the 1960s that will probably be new to anyone with only a casual interest in his music. These songs were certainly new to me, though I was able to guess which of the four songs here were originally by David Bowie as they have his distinctive songwriting style all over them. Can't Help Thinking About Me is presented here as punchy retro pop ornamented by rock 'n' roll piano riffage and crashing drums and cymbals, whilst Let Me Sleep Beside You opts for an orchestrated psych-pop approach. The Action songs are heavier but still fit in well alongside the Bowie tracks. Look at the View combines hard-edged mod and swirly, dreamlike psych-pop into a coherent whole, and Strange Roads is intense yet melodic psych-rock that encapsulates that moment during the late 1960s when psychedelia was starting to take on a heavier sound. Sidewalk Society are a band who are clearly steeped in 1960s music, and their love of this era imparts a sense of vintage authenticity onto their versions of these tracks.
The third single from the August batch of FdM releases features Astralasia, Icarus Peel, and The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies' interpretations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy theme tune, which started life as an Eagles track called Journey of the Sorcerer. Astralasia's version is an intense spacerock track with plenty of wild psychedelic guitar work and whooshing sci-fi synths. Icarus Peel's version starts with a floaty, ambient feel before morphing into a nicely chilled-out psych-rock piece. The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies combine psychedelic improvisation with a punky chug and spacerock atmospherics. Each puts their own stamp on the track, making all three versions quite different from each other whilst still being held together by a common thread. Those that buy the 7" will also get a bonus CD with remixes, another version of Journey of the Sorcerer by Quantum Surf Rocket Garage Dolls, and new music by Astralasia and Sendelica's Pete Bingham taking Journey of the Sorcerer as its inspiration.
Available at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
THE LUCK OF EDEN HALL The End of the Lane 7" (Mega Dodo)
Out on 15th August 2016 is the new single from Chicago's The Luck of Eden Hall. There's a blue vinyl version for Mega Dodo singles club members only, and a black vinyl version on general release, both limited to 150 copies. Whilst I only became aware of The Luck of Eden Hall via their releases on Fruits de Mer Records, they actually have a much longer history, and an appeal that spans both underground and mainstream audiences. They formed in the 1990s, and have over 25 releases available including nine albums. They count Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins among their fans, and were nominated for an Emmy for their theme song for Moochie Kalala Detective's Club on PBS Television. It's not often you'll find Emmy nominees and TV theme tune makers who are just as happy releasing limited edition records on underground labels! This new single is inspired by Neil Gaiman's novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and includes artwork by Neil Gaiman himself. The lines between underground and mainstream continue to blur in that the artwork was produced by a megastar author, yet retains a handmade DIY feel with its unassuming sketch of a bucket accompanied by nicely twiddly fountain pen calligraphy. The End of the Lane begins and ends as a vintage-inspired psych-pop track with jangly guitar and atmospheric Mellotron orchestration, whilst in the middle of the song they crank up the volume with lashings of intense, searing guitar noise. Blown to Kingdom Come is taken from their recent album The Acceleration of Time, out on Headspin Records. The song combines a meaty, uptempo powerpop sound with spacerockish electronic burblings, flowing psychedelic guitar, and a melancholic, almost folk-tinged chorus melody, in a manner that is innovative and enjoyable. Available at www.mega-dodo.co.uk
biG GRunt In Session 12" (Mega Dodo)
biG GRunt was the band formed in 1970 by Vivian Stanshall after the split of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The line-up also included the Bonzos' Dennis Cowan and Roger Ruskin Spear, as well as Bubs White who had been a member of the Bonzos' road crew. Mega Dodo are releasing a limited edition (500 copies) 4-song EP on 12" yellow vinyl, comprising the songs from biG GRunt's John Peel session, originally broadcast in March 1970. The EP spans a variety of styles: there's the country-pop of Blind Date, the off-kilter psych-rock of 11 Mustachioed Daughters, and the angular, experimental reinterpretation of blues that is The Strain, all united by the madcap lyrical style Vivian Stanshall is known for. The EP closes with the instrumental Cyborg Signal, which is impossible to place into a single genre category, combining as it does elements of funky rock, psych-pop, Western and horror movie soundtracks, and even a dash of post-rock, from before post-rock had even been invented. Available at www.mega-dodo.co.uk
ANDY B Let It Drop, All Out of Luck and Can't Make You Stop CDRs (Pastime)
Prolific indiepop singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andy B (also of National Pastime and The Thought Clouds) is back with three new 2-track CDR singles as tasters for his forthcoming album, The Games You Play, due for release on Pastime Records later in 2016. Across the three singles you will find songs such as the melancholic, honest and introspective Let It Drop; Watching You, a wistful unrequited love song with jangly and dreamlike accompaniment; the catchy, C86-ish All Out of Luck; and the bouncy pop with jagged edges that is Can't Make You Stop. The CD versions are available at pastimerecords.webs.com and downloads at pastimerecords.bandcamp.com
RODNEY CROMWELL Fax Message Breakup (Happy Robots)
Rodney Cromwell (aka Adam Cresswell, formerly of Saloon and Arthur & Martha) returns with a new EP featuring a new single mix of Fax Message Breakup from his debut solo album Age of Anxiety, along with four exclusive remixes. The lead track sounds like a cross between Kraftwerk and the Pet Shop Boys, yet shot through with a DIY indiepop spirit. Next up is Hologram Teen's Video Suitors Remix of Fax Message Breakup, in which Morgane Lhote (ex-Stereolab) transforms the track into a slice of bouncy electronica that combines 1980s house with a driving motorik rhythm - real space-age party music! Chris Frain's remix of Baby Robot is instrumental synthpop with plenty of retro-futuristic sci-fi bleepage. Fax Message Breakup (AUW's Obsessive Perfection Remix) is a dark, brooding number, merging post-punk elements with atmospheric synthpop in a manner that emphasises the sense of despair conveyed in the lyrics. Cassiopeia (The Leaf Library Remix) features gently thrumming electronics alongside meandering psychedelic guitar. A great EP that brings together the best elements of popular electronic music from the 1980s and late 1970s and combines those with a strong underground attitude. Well worth checking out, as is everything else from Rodney Cromwell. Visit www.happyrobots.co.uk
THE HAYWAINS Girl in the Holly Court Diner 7" (Whoops!)
The first release on Whoops! Records, a brand new label started by Gary who used to run Dufflecoat Records, and Tom who ran Indie-MP3. The reformed Haywains' songs still have all the ingredients that made them such a great band back in the late 80s and early 90s. Their new 4-song EP is packed full of jangly, super-catchy indiepop with a DIY punk spirit. There are witty lyrics that bring out the bright side in all manner of frustrating situations, whether it's living in a drab town, finding out your girlfriend has found someone else, or supporting a football team that hasn't performed well since the 80s, and it's hard not to grin from ear to ear when faced with such a fun song as Love Torpedo! Fantastic stuff! Available on vinyl with poster and download code, exclusively through www.whoops-records.co.uk, or on download at thehaywains.bandcamp.com
THE HAYWAINS Who Needs Summer? white vinyl 7" (Snowflakes)
Hot on the heels of The Haywains' new EP on Whoops! Records comes the band's tenth single, which is part of Snowflakes' Christmas singles club. First up is The Haywains' own song Who Needs Summer?, which gives the band's rollicking punky indiepop a Christmas twist with festive fun lyrics, bom-bom-bom backing vocals, 'Christmas bells' synth sound, and children's excited shrieks. Then they do a brilliant version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which totally works as a punk-pop song, and put a massive grin on my face! The single is nicely presented, with artwork resembling a 1950s advertising poster, and pressed on snow white vinyl. Available at snowflakes.bigcartel.com. Further info on The Haywains at www.haywains.co.uk
ART OF THE MEMORY PALACE/CHEVAL SOMBRE/JACK ELLISTER/THE INSEKTLIFE CYCLE split 7" (Fruits de Mer/Static Caravan)
Fruits de Mer Records and Static Caravan have joined forces to release this split vinyl-only 7" with a track each from two bands/artists associated with Fruits de Mer and two who have previously released records via Static Caravan. Static Caravan's side gives us an instrumental piece from Art of the Memory Palace, which brings together whirring spacey electronica, retro soundtrack music, and a bassline that wouldn't sound out of place in a 1970s funk or disco track, followed by the sparse, melancholic songwriting of Cheval Sombre, in which the minimalistic, fractured sounds of the lo-fi hometaper scene are combined with a luxurious, neoclassical feel courtesy of guest viola player Gillian Rivers. Over on Fruits de Mer's side, Jack Ellister provides a fine slice of dreamlike psychedelic pop, whilst The Insektlife Cycle combine surf, shoegaze, psych and prog in their instrumental piece Sleep Crawler. Released December 5th 2016 alongside two bonus CDs; find out more at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com and www.staticcaravan.org
SENDELICA Nite Flights 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Out now on Fruits de Mer Records is the new single from Sendelica, featuring their version of the Walker Brothers' Nite Flights. The Walker Brothers may seem like an unusual influence for a spacerock band, but this wouldn't be the first time Sendelica have taken a song from a genre well outside of the psychedelic umbrella and made it their own; see also their 22 minute reinterpretation of Donna Summer's I Feel Love, which appeared on Fruits de Mer's Side Effects box set. The luxurious songwriting of Scott Walker is placed into a setting of dark, heavy psych rock, featuring a hypnotic chugging bassline and a touch of pulsating electronics alongside an intense whirlwind of psychedelic guitar. Female vocals also add a new facet to the track, the singer's voice being a perfect match for the song. Over on the B-side is Astralasia's Tabla Mix of Nite Flights, which brings the pulsating spaciness of the original to the fore while adding soaring saxophone for the main melody, as well as the Indian percussion as promised by the title of the mix. The single is pressed on limited edition coloured vinyl, available at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
US AND THEM Fading Within the Dwindling Sun 10" (Fruits de Mer)
US AND THEM When I Was Walking 7" (Mega Dodo)
Two new releases from Swedish folk duo Us and Them: a 10" EP of Sandy Denny covers, out now on Fruits de Mer, and a 2-song 7" of their own material, released in January 2017 on Mega Dodo. The 10" is pressed on coloured vinyl and includes three songs written by Sandy Denny, along with two songs she is known for having performed: the Richard Thompson-penned Fairport Convention track Farewell Farewell, and the traditional folk ballad Banks of the Nile. Winter Winds is beautiful, hushed psych-folk augmented by lush strings. Farewell, Farewell has a soft and dreamlike feel, with guest musician Tony Swettenham's Mellotron adding to the ethereal mood of the arrangement. Next Time Around is reinvented as retro-futuristic, experimental folk-pop. Banks of the Nile has a luxurious feel with use of oboe and strings alongside floaty, atmospheric synth. Take Away the Load is gentle folk-pop accompanied by acoustic guitar and Mellotron orchestration.
The 7" is available as a limited edition of 150 green vinyl copies exclusive to members of the Mega Dodo singles club, and 150 black vinyl copies available on a wider basis. When I Was Walking is informed by traditional folk whilst also incorporating psychedelic whimsy and a gentle, ethereal brand of retro-futurism. Green Couch is delicate folk-pop, with sparse acoustic guitar alongside evocative, whirling vintage electronics. Both releases are simply beautiful and well worth checking out. Available at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com and www.mega-dodo.co.uk
MOLOKO+ Can't Wait Til Sunday lathe cut 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Released at the tail end of December, this lathe cut 7" was limited to just 50 copies, and as a result sold out before I had the chance to review it. However, Fruits de Mer have announced that there is still one last chance to get a copy as Record Collector magazine are running a competition to win one of two copies of the single, one of each cover design. Moloko+ (not to be confused with the better known Moloko, who were around later), were formed in 1990 from the ashes of two other Hull bands, powerpop outfit US Megachicks and 60s influenced band The Dempseys. Push aside any preconceptions of aural ultraviolence that their A Clockwork Orange-influenced name may conjure up; Moloko+'s actual sound is jangly pop that's informed by the 1960s but perhaps best appreciated as a lost artefact from the halcyon days of indiepop - that era that followed C86 but pre-dated the major labels' reinvention of 'indie' as just another soulless commercial genre. Whilst I was unaware of Moloko+ at the time they existed, their music would have fit squarely into the indiepop milieu that was my first introduction to underground music back in the day. Taken from their second demo, the two songs here are superb sunny pop with strong, catchy tunes and plenty of jangly guitar and vocal harmonies, guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of any fan of classic late 80s/early 90s indiepop. Fruits de Mer are to be applauded for bringing these demos to the attention of a new audience, though the songs are so good that the single really deserves to be heard by more than just 50 people. Hopefully these tracks will appear again in another format some time in future. In the meantime, check out the current issue of Record Collector (January 2017) for details on the competition, and for more info on Moloko+, see the Fruits de Mer website.
SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS Shiver Me Timbers (The Hip Replacement)
New two track taster for the Soft Hearted Scientists' recent double album Golden Omens (reviewed in this issue's albums section). Shiver Me Timbers is a prime slice of super-catchy psych-pop with a chorus that burrows its way into the brain, while Crystal Coves is a more subdued and reflective take on psych-pop, pairing delicate acoustic guitar with atmospheric electronics. Very highly recommended - visit www.softheartedscientists.com
SERGEANT BUZFUZ Humble Pie EP CD (Blang)
The Blang label was founded by Joe Murphy of Sergeant Buzfuz, the label having grown out of a gig night also called Blang, held at London's 12 Bar Club, which celebrated the Antifolk scene. Antifolk is a tough genre to pin down and is perhaps best seen as more of an attitude than a specific sound. At its core, it describes lo-fi, quirky music with a sense of humour and a subversive punk spirit, which is inspired by folk music whilst rebelling against the genre's conventions. The term has however become broad enough to encompass bands with a shared ethos who would otherwise be classed as bedroom pop, punk, singer-songwriter, or outsider music. This new EP from Sergeant Buzfuz encapsulates well the mix of folky, punky, quirky ideas that Antifolk stands for, whilst adding much that is their own. Humble Pie is an ultra-melodic slice of 60s-ish psych-pop, given a folky twist with the addition of fiddle. People in Power is DIY pop with a raw garage sensibility and punk attitude, bringing in piano and folky banjo. The Whole Hospital's Talking About It features humorous workplace gossip narrated over quirky DIY music. The Ventriloquist's Funeral is a well-crafted and darkly humorous observational poem set to a haunting and hypnotic experimental folk melody. An inventive, free-thinking EP with a healthy disregard for genre barriers. Available at www.blang.co.uk
ANDY B The Waiting Game EP, Later Than You Think EP, The Fast Lane EP, Catch My Breath EP and Four Singles CDRs (Pastime)
Prolific indiepop artist Andy B, also of National Pastime and The Thought Clouds, has been busy making homemade recordings, resulting in the Coming Home album (to be reviewed soon) and this batch of new EPs. The Waiting Game EP features one new song and five reworked tracks from Andy's back catalogue, all inspired by the more melancholic side of late 80s/early 90s indiepop. Later Than You Think EP includes four songs from the album, the subdued and world-weary tracks here being counterbalanced by Messengers Passing Through, which gives a melancholic, emotional edge to rollicking chug-along punk-pop. The Fast Lane EP has seven songs, two album tracks appearing alongside some reworked older songs and a song called All the Help I Can Get, which I think is exclusive to this EP. The title track combines wistful indiepop with the hazy atmosphere of dreampop; Catch My Breath wraps vintage-style jangly indiepop in a cloud of fuzzy buzzy noise; and Days Pass Me By is plaintive indiepop with dreamlike synth orchestration. The Catch My Breath EP has 8 tracks compiled from the preceding EPs, whilst Four Singles consists of the title tracks from all four EPs. CDs can be purchased at pastimerecords.webs.com; downloads are available at pastimerecords.bandcamp.com
ANTHONY REYNOLDS Adrift in Soho lathe cut 8" (Static Caravan)
Anthony Reynolds, formerly of Jack, is the composer of the theme music for Adrift in Soho, a film by Pablo Behrens, based on the novel by Colin Wilson, set in the community of bohemians, beatniks and other rebels in 1950s London. Static Caravan have released three versions of the theme on this lathe cut 8" record which is limited to just 50 copies. The main theme music is based around piano, strings and trumpet, its cinematic sound bridging the gap between modern classical/art music and jazz. Next up is the ominous and tense strings version, followed by the dark and sophisticated pop of the vocal version. A stylish and intelligent EP, available at www.staticcaravan.org
SENDELICA/SUPERFJORD Zappa 7" (Fruits de Mer)
The latest 7" single from Fruits de Mer Records features Wales's Sendelica and Finland's Superfjord paying tribute to Frank Zappa. Superfjord's Peaches En Regalia blends a summery film score feel with twisty-turny, angular prog and bubbling spacerock synths. Sendelica's Don't Eat the Yellow Snow begins with male and female vocals set to a mix of ethereal ambience and hypnotic riffage, before segueing into an intense mix of 70s-ish heavy rock guitar and wild improvisational sax. Limited edition coloured vinyl, available now at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
LAURENCE CAMPLING On the Saline Valley Road CDR (Stone Premonitions)
New one track single from Laurence Campling, whose Everything But the Kitchen Sink album was reviewed earlier this issue. On the Saline Valley Road is a laid-back piece led by acoustic guitar and ornamented by sighing lap steel and ethereal keyboard. Campling's style is informed by US folk and the works of 1970s singer-songwriters, with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake and John Martyn being named among his influences, whilst the subtle addition of electronics lends a more contemporary twist to the song. Available on CD at www.stonepremonitionswebshop.com, or download at www.reverbnation.com/laurencecampling
GREEN SEAGULL Scarlet 7" (Mega Dodo)
Debut release from London's Green Seagull, who include amongst them Paul Milne (Hidden Masters/Magnetic Mind) and Paul Nelson (New Electric Ride). There are two brilliant psych-pop songs here, packed full of swirling organ, jangling guitars and strongly melodic late 60s-ish tunes with soaring vocal harmonies, and the beautiful colourful artwork is just as swirly - and just as impressive - as the music. The single is released on 16th June, with a full album following later in the year, which I am definitely looking forward to hearing. More info at www.mega-dodo.co.uk
NATHAN HALL & THE SINISTER LOCALS The Volga Sturgeon Face EP (The Hip Replacement)
After having released seven albums, the Soft Hearted Scientists are taking a year out to do other things. Nathan Hall has formed a new project, Nathan Hall and the Sinister Locals, whose debut EP is out now. Everybody's Burning Effigies is brilliant baroque psych-pop, with an effective arrangement based around harpsichord, strings, chiming guitar, and bubbling analogue synths. Song for the Flowers is dreamlike harmony pop, its laid-back summery atmosphere masking darkly philosophical lyrics. Like a Setting Sun combines plaintive, ethereal psych-folk with a hypnotic chug. Catacombs of Camden Town is jangly and spacey psych-pop with a pensive, brooding atmosphere which does not negate the catchiness of the tune. A superb set of songs and an absolute must for Soft Hearted Scientists fans. Find out more at their Facebook page.
FUCHSIA Song double 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Double 7" EP celebrating 50 years of recordings by Tony Durant and Fuchsia. The EP opens with Look at the Sun, a 1967 track from Tony's pre-Fuchsia band Louise, which also included Chris Cutler; this is a great slice of late 60s psych-rock that packs a punch while retaining a strong sense of melody. If any other recordings survive from Louise, I'd be very keen to hear them. Elsewhere on the EP we get the whimsical orchestrated pop of The Band, the epic 8+ minute Nothing Song which combines psych-pop whimsy with bendy, angular prog rock and classical influences, Piper at the Gates of Time which brings together heavy psych-rock with touches of folk and classical, the superb orchestrated folk-rock of Fuchsia Song, and more. Fantastic stuff, highly recommended. Available at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
ANTON BARBEAU Heaven is in Your Mind 7" (Fruits de Mer)
New 4-song EP from Anton Barbeau, comprising one original track alongside three cover versions. Traffic's Heaven is in Your Mind incorporates Mellotron orchestration, woozy psychedelic floatiness and booming percussion. Anton's own song Secretion of the Wafer blends sophisticated piano sections with swirling, spacey psychedelia. Big Star's powerpop classic September Gurls is given a unique psychedelic twist. The EP closes with an appropriately dark and off-centre interpretation of David Bowie's Scary Monsters, blending elements of psych and electro-pop with an experimental spirit. Excellent stuff as always from Anton Barbeau - available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
ELIZA CARTHY/DISRAELI/MEMORY BAND (EAN REMIXES) Aleppo in the Sun as it Was 7" (Static Caravan/From Here)
Static Caravan have joined up with Stick in the Wheel's label From Here for this split single of remixes by EAN. Aleppo in the Sun as it Was originally appeared on Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band's Big Machine album and is a collaboration between Eliza and MC Dizraeli (credited here as Disraeli). The remix brings together electronic beats, glitchy vocal samples, and recited lyrics blending performance poetry with the gritty realism of rap. Children of the Stones by underground folk outfit The Memory Band (originally on their Static Caravan album A Fair Field) is completely transformed into an inventive blend of hazy, floaty psychedelic experimentation, folk, and electronic dance music. Innovative and existing outside of narrow genre confines, this single is well worth checking out. Limited to 300 copies, available at www.staticcaravan.org
TELE:FUNKEN Going Home Now (Static Caravan)
ANTHONY REYNOLDS Adrift in Soho (Static Caravan)
MATTERS Black Mere (Static Caravan)
Tele:Funken's Going Home Now is a promo-only preview of a forthcoming full album, featuring radio edits of Still Sky Blue, an excellent slice of retro-futuristic electronica that manages to be psychedelic, cinematic, playful and slightly eerie all at once, and the more dance-oriented Going Home Now, a fizzing, uptempo, joyous retro electronic number, both of which have left me eager to hear the entire album.
Earlier this issue I reviewed the limited edition lathe cut version of Adrift in Soho; this has since been reissued in an extended format which is available for download via the Static Caravan website. As well as the three tracks from the lathe cut, this new version also includes Piccadilly Shangri La La, blending the twangy arpeggios and vocal harmonies of 1950s popular music with sophisticated orchestration; Vernon Passage, a dark, dirty and decadent piece with a menacing discordance; and Coming Up on Cork Street, a heady, evocative mix of bossa nova, neoclassical soundtrack music and darkly psychedelic guitar work.
Matters' Black Mere is a 10+ minute instrumental taking on board elements of electronica, post-rock, psych, metal and experimental music, along with the epic bigness and twists and turns of prog. Just when you think you've got a handle on the track, Matters throw the listener a curveball by bringing in another new and unexpected musical ingredient. Innovative, intense and impressive stuff.
For more info on the eclectic sounds of the Static Caravan label, visit www.staticcaravan.org
THE CHEMISTRY SET Lovely Cuppa Tea 7" (Fruits de Mer)
STAY Always Here 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Following their acclaimed 2016 album The Endless More and More, The Chemistry Set return with this new 3-track 7" on Fruits de Mer, featuring the off-kilter comedic psych-pop Lovely Cuppa Tea, in which the tea-quaffing stories of a whole host of English eccentric characters are set to a bouncy pop tune punctuated by soaring brass - a must for fans of The Kinks or Sgt Pepper-era Beatles. The Rubicon is harder-edged and best described as psychedelic punk, combining anti-establishment anger with swirling organ and intense psychedelic guitar. Final track is a cover of The Moody Blues' tribute to Timothy Leary, Legend of a Mind, with dreamlike Mellotron, jangling 12-string Rickenbacker and Beatlesque use of brass. The limited edition coloured vinyl 7" sold out straight away, but the EP can still be bought as a digital download with bonus track from The Chemistry Set's Bandcamp page.
Barcelona's Stay return to Fruits de Mer with a new 5-song EP. Always Here is produced by Oasis/The Verve producer Owen Morris, and bridges the gap between indie and psych-rock in a similar vein to Kula Shaker. There are three cover versions: the swirling psychedelic Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You (The Bee Gees), Where Have All The Good Times Gone (The Kinks), mixing a stomping rhythm with lashings of retro organ, and Rock and Roll Woman (Buffalo Springfield), laden with vocal harmonies and searing psych guitar. You Know It's Right is another of Stay's own songs, which features guest guitar from none other than Andy Bell of Ride and Oasis, and comes across rather like The Byrds filtered through a Britpop lens. The EP is again sold out at source, but can still be bought on vinyl or download from Picture in My Ear Records.
More info on Fruits de Mer's current and future releases at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
62 MILES FROM SPACE Time Shifts 12" (Mega Dodo)
Debut EP from Moscow duo 62 Miles from Space, available on 12" red vinyl and download. Time Shifts is retro-futuristic pop in the vein of Pram or Broadcast. The Scope is spacey vintage electronica with dancey and psychedelic aspects. Outside is woozy, dreamlike space-pop. Bad Actors features electronic flute and harpsichord alongside a hypnotic mechanical rhythm, producing a nicely lopsided instrumental that would have sounded right at home as the theme for a 1970s kids' TV show. Not to be missed for fans of vintage soundtracks and retro-futurism; available at www.mega-dodo.co.uk
ANDY B Breaking Down EP CDR (Pastime)
4 song EP from the prolific multi-instrumentalist songwriter Andy B. Breaking Up and Breaking Down, from his Hard Sell album, combines dreampop and jangly indiepop elements with deep melancholic emotional sentiments. Television Girl is dreamlike indiepop pairing delicate acoustic guitar with airy keyboard accompaniment. So Glad I Found You is nice old-school indiepop with softly strummed acoustic guitar alongside chiming electric guitar and retro organ. Final track is an acoustic version of Not in this Lifetime, which continues in the melancholic and atmospheric indiepop vein. Available on CD from pastimerecords.webs.com or download from pastimerecords.bandcamp.com
UMMAGMA LCD CD/cassette/download (Somewherecold/Label Obscura)
4-song EP from Canada-based dreampop duo Ummagma, released on CD by Somewherecold Records and cassette from Label Obscura, as well as appearing on all the regular digital download and streaming platforms. Along with the title track, there are three remixes/reworkings by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins and Dean Garcia of Curve and SPC ECO. LCD combines dreampop with glitchy and woozy electronica and heady psychedelic aspects. Dean Garcia's reinterpretation of the track is even more overtly ethereal with its ambient drones, soft muted bells and trancelike rhythms, whilst periodically jolting the listener back down to earth with harsh metallic bursts of noise. Robin Guthrie's mix of Lama is beautiful soaring dreampop that's a must for fans of 1980s 4AD. Dean Garcia returns with a remix of Back To You, its bleak, brooding atmosphere shot through with a mechanical whirr. An impressive EP taking dreampop to new places with its embracing of electronic and experimental components.
J. D. HANGOVER s/t CD/cassette/download (Annibale)
J. D. Hangover are the Italian duo of Stiv Cantarelli and Roberto Villa. Disillusioned with the established music business, they both kicked out against it in different ways, Roberto setting up an all-analogue recording studio and Stiv recording his homemade drum machine-driven music on a 4-track. The pair formed J. D. Hangover with the original plan of giving their music away via free press magazines or handed out to the public at tube stations, but Annibale Records, who ran across the band quite by chance, have now given them a chance to reach a wider audience with this 6-song EP available on CD, download, or the classic underground-friendly format of cassette. Recorded live in the studio, the end result is bleak, raw and gothic; whilst loosely categorisable as blues-rock, it is as far away as you can get from the sanitised take on blues-rock you'll find in the mainstream. Barrellhouse Queen is full of dirty realism and screaming feedback. Headspinner Blues is twisted underground blues with a distinctive rattly/echoey drum rhythm pulsing relentlessly alongside the intense guitars. Broken Bones Blues is equally informed by blues, heady and hypnotic psych-rock, and lo-fi noise-rock, and is shot through with a brooding, on-edge atmosphere. Down at the Public House is a meeting of dirty, sludgy noise and sleazy blues. Untamed, undiluted, visceral, and very much recommended. Visit www.annibalerecords.com
LAURENCE CAMPLING Alas, Alack, Alay CDR (Stone Premonitions)
From his background in musical street theatre, Laurence Campling went on to create stage artwork for The Residents and perform with Dresden Danse, Popular Mechanics, and Robert Fripp's project The League of Crafty Guitarists. He has since gone solo, releasing the album Everything But the Kitchen Sink on Stone Premonitions, followed by a couple of singles. His latest EP is Alas, Alack, Alay, the title track a folk-rock protest against cruelty and chaos, combining Shakespearean lyrical imagery with sophisticated and atmospheric musicianship - a superb piece. Whilst Alas, Alack, Alay took its cues from British folk music, On the Saline Valley Road combines influences from 1970s singer-songwriters and US folk, led by acoustic guitar and ornamented by sighing lap steel and ethereal keyboard. The EP is completed by instrumental versions of both tracks. Visit www.aural-innovations.com/stonepremonitions and www.reverbnation.com/laurencecampling
THE PRETTY THINGS The Same Sun 7" (Fruits de Mer)
MOLOKO+ Bite the Hand lathe cut 7" (Fruits de Mer)
Long-running psych-rockers The Pretty Things return to Fruits de Mer with a 4-track limited edition coloured vinyl 7" featuring two studio and two live recordings. The Same Sun is a blistering track from their latest album, while Renaissance Fair is superb folk-tinged psych-rock. The live tracks, She Says Good Morning and Alexander, are from a late 1960s gig, both songs bringing together intense, snarly garage rock with mindbending psychedelic guitar work.
Moloko+, not to be confused with the better known Moloko who came along later, were a short-lived early 1990s band whose sole studio recordings, unreleased at the time, have reappeared on Fruits de Mer in the form of a couple of extremely limited edition lathe cut 7"s. I reviewed Can't Wait Til Sunday earlier this issue and now there is another helping of sunny janglepop that ought to appeal equally to fans of 60s music and late 80s/early 90s indiepop. The single is limited to 50 copies and only available to Fruits de Mer club members, but really Moloko+ were so good that their music deserves to be heard by more, especially those in the indiepop scene who may be unaware of the band due to having overlooked Fruits de Mer as a label that deals more often in psych, prog and spacerock.
The Pretty Things 7" sold out immediately but a re-press will be on sale at 2018 Fruits de Mer gigs; find out more at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com. The Moloko+ 7" will also be hard to find, but Eggs in Aspic, who released the also sold out cassette version, are offering a download at their Bandcamp page.
INTO THE SKY Before the Storm 7" (Kosmic Noise)
Debut release from German label Kosmic Noise Records, pressed on a variety of vinyl colours and smartly packaged with impressive graphic design work. The single is limited to 100 copies and comes with a free download card. Into the Sky are basically a post-rock band with additional influences from ambient and psychedelia. The Storm has a repeated hypnotic chug running throughout, and incorporates atmospheric noise, plaintive piano and intense psychedelic guitar. Before begins as a more laid-back piece, combining a bright, melodic guitar line with ambient electronic effects, before cranking the volume up for a wild fuzz guitar crescendo. The pieces here have a good balance of melody and intense atmosphere. It would be good to hear a whole album from this band. Visit www.kosmicnoiserecords.com and intothesky-music.bandcamp.com
US AND THEM From the Corner of My Eye 7"/download (Mega Dodo)
New single from Swedish psych-folk project Us and Them, available as a limited edition 2-song 7" or 4-song download. From the Corner of My Eye is a taster for their forthcoming album On Shipless Ocean, and combines a traditional-style folk melody with a luxurious and atmospheric arrangement. The Iron Maiden was written by Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest/Maestoso), and sets airy folk-tinged pop to lilting flute, delicate acoustic guitar and ethereal keyboards. When Life Begins is a beautiful slice of folk-pop wrapped within lush accompaniment with strings, harpsichord and shimmering spacey synth. Final track is a cover of David Bowie's All the Madmen, pairing Middle Eastern flourishes with cosmic synth burblings. Very lovely stuff - available 20th April via www.mega-dodo.co.uk
SINOSA If U Must Dance 7"/download (Happy Robots)
Sinosa (also known as Sinosa Loa from Fol Chen) combines electronic dance music with avant garde influences. If U Must Dance is reminiscent of the time when the charts still had room for artists with an experimental approach. It opens with a percussive voice technique recalling Laurie Anderson's O Superman, before bringing in Kraftwerk-esque recited vocals alongside the cut-up samples and beats of 1980s house music. The State is melodic and rhythmic electropop with an air of dystopian retro-futurism. Another exciting and inventive electronic release from the Happy Robots label. Available for download via all major digital platforms, or on limited clear vinyl 7" from www.happyrobots.co.uk
PERMANENT CLEAR LIGHT Maurice N'est Pas La 7" (Fruits de Mer)
New 3-track EP from Finnish psych band Permanent Clear Light. Maurice is an epic 8 minute-plus track, combining cosmic synths that whoosh, bubble and shimmer, funky bass, a chugging electronic rhythm, and French lyrics wrapped in a distorted echo effect. One in Five is ultramelodic psych-pop given an extra level of atmosphere with ethereal harmony vocals and choirboy Mellotron, the positive air of the music contrasting with the song's mental illness-related subject matter. This Quiet Smiling Man brings together 1960s-ish psych-pop with atmospheric effects and swirling electronics. A very promising taster for their forthcoming album. Available on coloured vinyl with two different sleeve designs as of 30th April 2018, from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
TÍR NA NÓG Hall of Mirrors lathe cut 7" (Fruits de Mer)
THE HONEY POT/ICARUS PEEL'S ACID REIGN split lathe cut 5" (Fruits de Mer)
Fruits de Mer Records turns ten this year; to celebrate their first decade, the label have released the bumper Goldfish compilation reviewed elsewhere in this issue, and will also be holding an event at the King Arthur pub in Glastonbury on May 12th 2018 with sets by Tír na nÓg, The Honey Pot, Magic Bus, Anton Barbeau, Mark McDowell, and Icarus Peel's Acid Reign. They have released a few records to coincide with the gig which will be on sale there, including these lathe cut singles - a 7" by Tír na nÓg (approximately 90 copies will be cut) and a 5" single in a metal tin by The Honey Pot and Icarus Peel's Acid Reign (approximately 80 copies of this one).
On the Tír na nÓg single we have Columbine, the lyrics of which come from a 1926 fantasy novel, Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees, evidently an early piece of psychedelic fiction as the characters dance to this song after eating a mind-altering fruit. Mirrlees' words are set to a traditional tune and a superb, darkly atmospheric psych-folk arrangement, the Jew's harp and fiddle employed to create a trancelike effect. Hall of Mirrors, originally by Sweeney's Men, combines traditional-style folk with psych-pop whimsy. Hopefully these two songs will be made available more widely at some point, especially Columbine which is a must-hear for fans of psych-folk and dark folk.
The Honey Pot's Shining Diamonds was written specifically for the FdM celebration concert and reflects what the band have experienced at FdM events in the past. It sets powerful, soulful vocals to swirling psych-rock and soaring proggy synth, celebrating "the fruits of the sea" and camaraderie among true music fans: "come on you tribe of sparkling diamonds, music will set you free". Icarus Peel's Acid Reign is an offshoot of The Honey Pot with more emphasis on guitars; here we get Half Space, an intense, heavy slice of psych-rock with wild guitar work and frantic percussion. For more info visit www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
RODNEY CROMWELL Rodney's English Disco 7"/CD/Download (Happy Robots)
New EP from analogue synthpop artist Rodney Cromwell, available as a 4-song red vinyl 7", digital download, or CD with the 4 tracks from the 7" plus 4 bonus remixes. Rodney Cromwell's music combines influences from the synth pioneers of the late 70s and early 80s with a lo-fi indiepop spirit. Comrades features Kraftwerk-esque robotic vocals over an effective blend of bleepy chuggy 1980s synthpop and soaring ethereal music best described as electronic dreampop. Here Rodney aims his wry, sarcastic wit at hypocrisy and faux non-conformity, such as self-styled vegans who wear leather, and other "rebels without a quirk". Barbed Wire is brooding electropop like a bedroom New Order swathed in an airy dreampop haze. Technocrats is a cosmic, retro-futurist synth instrumental. Dreamland is electronic indiepop that serves up its melancholia with a dry sense of humour. The Vieon remix of Comrades adds glitchy bleeps and radio channel-hopping samples, while Pattern Language's remix of Technocrats sets vintage sci-fi bleepery to heavy dance beats, and the Alice Hubble remix of Dreamland offsets the pop aspect of the track with mournful ambient space-age neoclassical music, rather like Henryk Górecki reinterpreted for a vintage sci-fi movie soundtrack. A great EP in which Rodney Cromwell puts his own distinctive stamp on retro synthpop. Very much recommended - available at
KEITH SEATMAN Disjointed Oddities and Other Such Things EP CD/Download (KS Audio)
Following five solo albums as well as previous work with Psylons, Seatman Separator and Echopet, Keith Seatman returns with this new 5-track EP on his own label KS Audio. A Child, the Hare and the Old Wooden Chair combines the cinematic retro-futurism of bands like Pram and Broadcast with samples and experimental sound-sculpturing. Grey Lake sets a surreal story ("My grandfather was a small person, about the size of a large penguin. He lived a mile from an old Victorian prison that was used to house old Victorians and other oddities in large shoeboxes") to an assortment of electronic bleeps and whirrs. Behind the Curtain, Red Room is early 1980s synthpop gone psychedelic, with soaring spacey whooshes intermingling with the upbeat pop fun. Something for Nothing combines DIY psych-folk with haunted electronica, effectively juxtaposing woozy, spooky, surreal, spacey and uplifting moments. The EP is rounded off by Broken Folk (Revbjelde's Spiricom Shakedown), in which Revbjelde remix this track from Keith Seatman's 2015 album A Rest Before the Walk, which features Douglas E Powell on vocals. Here dramatic echoey voice effects appear alongside an eerily psychedelic take on electronic dance music. A great set of tracks from this inventive experimental electronic artist. Available at keithseatman.bandcamp.com
FRANK WESTPHAL Basic Elements of Human Experience CD/Download (self-released)
5-track EP from multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Frank Westphal, available as a download or limited edition CD. Frank is motivated by a love of music as a whole, having a background in a wide variety of musical styles, and refuses - quite rightly - to be hemmed in by a specific image or play by the rules of a specific genre. The EP is broadly categorisable as melodic rock, though the components making up the overall sound are wide in scope. For You is angsty alt-rock with soul-bearing lyrics, contrasting noise and darkness with a bright jangly guitar sound, and bringing in a guitar solo that veers towards the heavier end of prog. Numb is emotional melodic rock, introducing slide guitar for an American folk-rock touch. Everyday combines country elements with janglepop sunshine and rock grit. When I Die is world-weary melodic rock bookended by the atmospheric sound of gentle rain. Instrumental 3 is a pensive guitar instrumental tinged with sadness and shrouded in a slightly gothic ethereality. Find out more at www.frankwestphal.com
DOSE Furniture/Opaque 7" (A Turntable Friend)
Having read that Dose define themselves as art-rock or experimental noise-rock, I wondered whether they may be something of a departure for A Turntable Friend. Yet it mustn't be forgotten that the label always did have space for shoegaze and noise bands alongside the jangly indiepop, and it's best to see Dose in this context; whilst they undoubtedly are arty and experimental, it would be a mistake to expect any sort of clever-clever wackiness or impenetrability. This is their debut single, recorded by MJ of Hookworms. Furniture is a multifaceted piece blending angular post-rock, airy dreampop and woozy noise onslaughts. I'm hearing shades of MBV and maybe a touch of early (Fluff-era) Hood, but that is only part of the picture. Opaque is an evocative, cinematic piece melding ambient noise, shoegaze, post-rock and spoken word, and ending in a swirling cosmic shimmer. A great single and a fine addition to the noisier side of the A Turntable Friend catalogue. I'm hoping to hear more from this band in future! Available at aturntablefriendrecords.bandcamp.com or aturntablefriendrecords.limitedrun.com
CANDYBOMBER Singular CD (Jigsaw)
Debut EP from Candybomber, whose songwriter and guitarist is Stewart Tudor-Jackman of The Kensingtons. Here Stewart has left behind The Kensingtons' more strictly indiepop approach in favour of a brand of powerpop for which the sweetness-and-violence juxtaposition behind the new band's name is completely apt. Not Completely Sure is a fizzing uptempo number pairing an ultra-catchy tune with punky buzzsaw guitars. Everybody Knows is powerful, anthemic pop-rock, the meatier elements offset with bright jangle, and the lyrics casting a wry look at those who cook up a fake image for themselves on social media: "Craft your online personality/Nothing like the dull reality that everybody knows". Industrial Strength Serendipity sets a stylish 60s-ish pop tune to an effective blend of powerpop, janglepop and hazy dreampop. Naive closes the EP with another uplifting serving of pop and grit. A truly fantastic powerpop EP from a band who are surely up there with the greats of this genre - hopefully there will be a whole album to follow shortly! Buy the EP from jigsawrecords.bandcamp.com; more info on Candybomber at www.facebook.com/candybomberaustralia
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