Sunday, 5 May 2013

Volume 59

Crystallized - MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER - from the album "Melody's Echo Chamber"
Paris-based musician Melody Prochet worked in various bands before starting Melody's Echo Chamber in 2012 after having a dream that the acoustics of her bedroom projected an infinite delay. No stranger to performance, Prochet had already worked with the twee pop Narcoleptic Dancers and the dreamy My Bee's Garden, a project she was very much central to.
When My Bee's Garden supported Australian guitar rockers Tame Impala on a European tour in 2010, Prochet bonded with Kevin Parker, who offered to help with production of her new solo material as Melody's Echo Chamber. The two worked quickly, with some elements of the project's lushly dreamy songs recorded in Parker's makeshift studio and some laid down in her grandmother's seaside home in the south of France.
Holiday - ELECTRIC GUEST - from the EP "Good America"
The witty, funky pop duo Electric Guest feature Asa Taccone (brother of Lonely Island's Jorma Taccone) and Matthew Compton. While Taccone helped his brother and fellow Lonely Islanders Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer produce hits like "Dick in a Box," he found his true collaborator in Compton, whom he met while they were sharing a house in Los Angeles that included Taccone's old friend Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, as a former resident.
By And By - RENNY WILSON - from the album "Sugarglider"
Disco's influence comes in and out of fashion now on a bi-annual basis. I'm not sure where it currently rests, but Edmonton, Canada's Renny Wilson is destined to ensure it has another good run. The former teenage punk spent the last few years struggling to find his sound, settling for what he felt would be a record of straight pop music. However, after discovering the music of Arthur Russell and Donna Summer's Giorgio Moroder years, he found himself taking a detour. Some call it chillwave .... me, I call it qualifty pop music

Friday, 12 April 2013

Volume 58

Black Belt : JOHN GRANT : From the album Pale Green Ghosts
John Grant began his career as frontman of the Czars, a Colorado-based band whose music split the difference between shoegaze, dream pop, and alternative country. The band established a small international audience but  their albums failed to attract a large following, and the group ultimately broke up in 2004.
After the split, Grant moved to New York and began working as a sidesman for bands like Midlake and the Flaming Lips. His first solo album was released in 2010 and this is from his second album, recorded in Reykjavik with Biggi Veira of Icelandic electro-pop outfit GusGus
Black Creme : HRVRD : From the album From The Bird's Cage
Not the World's most prolific band, this is one of only 25 tracks recorded by them over 9 years. This track and, indeed, the album sees them eschewing their earlier post-hardcore sound for a mellower, rather space-y indie rock sound. In fact, positively downtempo in places
Jaguar Love : THE HOT TODDIES : From the EP Bottoms Up
The Hot Toddies, an all-girl band from Oakland, California mix sunny beach pop, indie rock riffs, a bottle of whiskey and a dry sense of humour. Heidi, Erin, Jessica and Sylvia have been playing music, drinking whiskey and writing songs together since 2005.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Greatest Hits 6

Default - DJANGO DJANGO (from the album Django Django)

Variously described as "psychedelic", "art-punk", and "organic electronica", I would stick my neck out and say all three descriptions are nonsense. What we have here is, to borrow a slogan from Stiff records back in the 70s, is "Pure Pop For Now People"

You can sing along to it, you can dance to it, it is ridiculously catchy. I love it!

Girls - DEEP SEA ARCADE (from the album Outlands)

I love Australian bands! The last few years has seen some of my favourite music come from down under - Tame Impala, Midnight Juggernaut, The Morning After Girls, etc ...

However, Deep Sea Arcade may be the best of the lot ... great songs, clearly influenced by 60s pop (Monkees, Beach Boys, Beatles) but with an added twist in that they are also clearly influenced by the "Madchester" sound

Cannot recommend album highly enough.

And finally ....

By The Sea - SUMMER FICTION (from the album Summer Fiction)
This is one of those great tracks that makes the hair at the back of my neck stand up whenever I hear it. Definitely one of my top ten tracks of all time, and that's some honour with 50 years of music behind it

This has everything ... great tune, lyrics, vocals and the simplest, most effective guitar solo. And its under 3 minutes. Pure Pop Perfection!

Greatest Hits Vol. 5

Me Me Me – from the album The Looking Glass (2010) : LARS AND THE HAND OF LIGHT
And this is from one of my favourite albums of 2010. They are from Denmark and take their influence from the 60s, from folk music, from rock music and produce a sound not unlike Belle & Sebastian. Jaunty, upbeat, but with a hint of melancholy

Lights – from the album In The Atmosphere (2009) : BURN THE NEGATIVES

This band comes from Carlisle and recorded this album in the famous Abbey Road studios. Described in one review as “Joy Division go disco”, that is not that far from the truth (as ridiculous as it sounds). The lead singer sounds like Ian Curtis; the band sound like early Human League

Special Baby – from the album My Groove, Your Move (2009) : LACK OF AFRO

Lack of Afro are actually just multi-instrumentalist  Adam Gibbons.  Clearly a fan of 70s jazz, funk and soul, he brings a very modern dance influence to the sound and he’s not averse to straying off into the realms of 60s psychedelia. Very good album

Variety 57

Beach House - DISASTER IN THE UNIVERSE - Available to download HERE
The band are based in Norway, but the term "cultural diversity" may have been coined for them.  As well as singing in Norwegian and the obligatory English, they also sing in French, Portuguese and the language of Mozambique
Very popular in Norway and, on the strength of this, that is not surprising
At which point, this blog elevates to its most obscure track ever. There is no link to download because ... you cannot do so. Know absolutely nothing about this band except there are three of them, the singer is female, they come from London, and this is an absolutely top song
Forget that last track being the most obscure ever .... this one has just snatched that prize. Cannot tell you one thing about this band / artist / ???
Damn fine track, though ... well, what did you expect?

Greatest Hits Volume 4

Days Like This – SHAUN ESCOFFERY (from the album Shaun Escoffery – 2007)

British soul music has always been, for me, the most underrated musical genre. Especially amongst the British. Fortunately, our American friends tend to acknowledge the quality. This track will bring out the sunshine on even the grimmest days – quality music that easily matches the best of Chicago house

Black Duck – LITTLE MASSIVE (from the album Little Massive – 2010)

What can I tell you about this band? Nothing! Cannot find the album reviewed anywhere, and it seems to be no longer available. This is a damn shame, because this track is indicative of a rather excellent album. File under – classic rock instrumental

Hayling - from the album Machine Say Yes (2002) : FC KAHUNA

Not really a band as such, but a production duo who decided to play live in 2002 and recorded this album off the back of it. Very much from the Fatboy Slim “big beat” school, this track may actually be familiar to you as it has appeared on many chill-out compilations. These days, the “band” tend to concentrate on TV and video game work. 


Greatest Hits Volume III

Ocean (from the album Falling – 2009) : 2020 SOUNDSYSTEM

Perhaps better known as a production team, this Leeds-based crew surprised everyone when they decided to release an album and do the festival circuit. Their ambient sound went down very well indeed. What do they sound like? Imagine Ian Brown wrote and sang the songs and LCD Soundsystem played them. Yep! That sums it up nicely

Who Is They? (from the album alone – 2011) : THE MORNING AFTER GIRLS

Originally from Australia but now based in New York, this lot have recorded one of the best albums of 2011. Great songs, soaring guitars, and a real epic sound. I hope the next album sees them breaking big, because they deserve it

Visiting Day (from the album Dirty Side Down – 2010) : WIDESPREAD PANIC

Even I miss out on bands sometimes! Discovered this lot last year but this is their 11th album and they are neighbours in Athens, GA with the no-longer-with-us REM. Their fans say this is one of their best efforts. A rock / blues / jazz influenced band and an album brimming with great songs from start to finish


Monday, 11 March 2013

Greatest Hits Volume II

Miss Downtown Sugar Girl (from the album Groovalicious - 2003) : CHRIS STANDING

Afficianados of the genre known as Smooth Jazz will be familiar with Chris Standring, but on this album he explores his soul and funk roots and his love of bands like Cameo, Average White Band and Earth Wind & Fire. Deliciously funky without ever straying away from the jazz groove

Lo Hi Hopes – (from the album Mount Chimaera – 2010) : BRASSTRONAUT

This lot are from Canada, a country that has been producing lots of great bands over the past few years. Its almost as if the country has realised that there is more to them than The Guess Who (70s rock band who were, for years, Canada’s biggest musical export). This was one of the best albums of last year but, like most of the albums on this blog, failed to get the recognition it deserved. The band play rock music influenced by jazz, but it’s not jazz-rock. They are a talented bunch as well, with band members playing everything from trumpet, clarinet, and glockenspiel to saxophone, flugelhorn and even a weird wind-synth called an EWI.

Belong (from the EP High Times - 2009) : WASHED OUT
Washed Out isn’t a band (just when did this craze for solo artists giving themselves band names start? I blame The Streets), but the work of one Ernest Greene (ah! perhaps that’s why he chose a different name?) and his laptop

Cannot give you a link to this EP, unfortunately, as this chillwave classic was contained on the above EP and the release was limited to 200 only ... oh ... and that was on cassette. However, his excellent debut album Within Without is now available
Great video, by the way

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Greatest Hits Volume 1

A round up of the Greatest Hits of this blog so far ..... my own personal favourite tracks. Over the next few weeks I'll pick what are, for me, the tracks that have struck a chord with me. My friends will tell you I am notoriously fickle when it comes to my "new favourite band .... currently Rhye, by the way) so a track has to be extra-special to stay the course
Careful What You Wish For (from the album We Fell To Earth - 2009) - WE FELL TO EARTH

For me, a better band than the much-lauded The XX, this band is known more in America for composing the theme to their version of "The Killing". Sparse, electronic, backdrop behind haunting vocals, they are an excellent live band as well.

Them And Me (from the album The Alternative To Love - 2005) - BRENDAN BENSON

Although known mostly for his co-writing and performing in Jack White's The Raconteurs, he has been a solo artist of note for some time. In fact, I would go so far as to say he is one of the great singer-songwriters. It is no accident that his songs are actually the best in The Raconteurs' songbook
Lovesick (from the album Real Life Is No Cool - 2010) : LINDSTROM & CHRISTABELLE
Hans-Peter Lindstrøm used to play keyboards in a Deep Purple cover band (WARNING: This track sounds nothing like Deep Purple!). Christabelle Silje Isabelle Birgitta Sandoo does not actually record with him. He sends her the music, and she records the vocals. She makes the lyrics up as she sings!

This should make for a totally chaotic album, but in fact produces a modern dance album of quality and distinction

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Edition 56

Black Egg - SNAKE & JET'S AMAZING BULLITT BAND - from the album Stuff That Rotates

A Danish duo who draw their primary inspiration from 1960s garage rock and surf music, creating tracks with authentically seedy organ licks and rough-edged bluesy guitar. They are not straight-ahead revivalists, though, mixing in a fair amount of raw post-punk attitude and the occasional electronic embellishment to make for a skewed modern take on vintage rock & roll with an unambiguous sense of fun
Crystal Vases - THE LAST ROYALS - from the EP The Last Royals EP
Hailing from Brooklyn, NY and previously known as The Early Hours, The Last Royals are yet another duo.  I can go no better than the words of this reviewer "Crystal Vases is a chirpy paean to a failed relationship replete with jangly guitars, handclaps, self-defeat and vocalist Eric James' inherent charisma."
That does some up this song exactly!
Dancing Shoes - BRODKA - from the EP LAX
Proving once again that pure pop music crosses all boundaries, and also a bit of a first for this blog.  Mokika Brodka is Polish ... Monika Brodka won the Polish version of "Pop Idol" in 2004.  Most of her songs are sung in Polish.  This one isn't. This one is simply a glorious pop song that cannot help but cheer up your day

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Volume 55


Kingfisher Call Me - THE RUBY SUNS - from the album Christopher
The Ruby Suns combine psychedelic indie pop with world music influences, drawing inspiration from the travels of the group's only permanent member, Ryan McPhun.
Although born and raised in California, McPhun's thirst for adventure eventually drew him halfway across the globe, where he ventured into Africa and Thailand before settling in New Zealand. Auckland's music scene was rich, and the multi-instrumentalist spent time in various pop groups (the Tokey Tones, the Reduction Agents, and the Brunettes) while fronting his own act, Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns. After releasing a self-titled debut under that moniker, the band shortened its name to the Ruby Suns
The Queen Bee Is Dead - THE GREEN PAJAMAS - from the album Death By Misadventure
The neo-psychedelic band the Green Pajamas were founded in Seattle in 1984 by Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross. A lifelong music fan, Kelly began composing his first songs at the age of 11, forming a group called the Electric Garbage Cans; after his parents purchased him a reel-to-reel tape recorder, he spent his teenage years compiling literally hundreds of cassettes of original material.
After graduating college, Kelly briefly joined a new wave band dubbed the Larch; he met Ross at a party soon after, and formed the Green Pajamas, informed by their mutual love of the Beatles and inspired by the Los Angeles "paisley underground" community.
This is from their ... wait for it .... thirtieth album.  Not heard them all ... not heard any others, actually ... but if they are half as good as this one, they'll by just damn fine!
The English Blues - MATTHEW EDWARDS & THE UNFORTUNATES - from the album The Fates
Now, I've brought you some fairly obscure music in the past, and several that were not available on either iTunes nor Amazon, but few have been as good as this album.
Matthew is no stranger to the music scene, having relocated from the UK to San Francsisco.  Formerly with a band called The Music Lovers, he put together The Unfortunates and recorded this album, which he describes thus:
The Fates is post-divorce, post-car crash and post-dreams: A love song to the listless. A black-humored chronicle of a place and a time not so long ago in my past. Of nights spent walking and drinking alone
Whatver! ... its a pretty ace album!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Volume 54


Riviera Rock - CHRISTOPHER OWENS - from the album Lysandre
After deciding to split his group Girls in 2012, Christopher Owens released his first solo record, Lysandre, in early 2013. Girls' short career arc went from scrappy, reverb-drowned eccentrics to majestic psych-prog-tinged rock, but his first effort finds Owens stripping back on both reverb and majesty in favor of a more organic, intimate sound.
Split between confessional, Baroque folk ballads and bubbly rockers, the brief album traces the splintering of a love affair with all the melodic strength and clunky lyrical style associated with Owens' previous work. He sounds more comfortable laying back in the ballads this time out, surrounding his ultra-plaintive vocals with a comforting array of acoustic guitars, vibraphones, electric pianos, and female backing vocals.
 Massiv - LOTUS - from the album Build (released 13 Feb 2013)
I have heard this album through a friend and have to say it has completely blown me away. If someone had told me that a band could make an excellent album by fusing progressive rock, house, latin jazz and a little hip-hop, wrapped in warm, fuzzy and very danceable tunes,I'd have probably laughed in their face.  Lotus prove me very wrong indeed
Blind Owl Speaks - NATURAL CHILD - from the album Hard In Heaven
Very ocasionally, you hear an album that knocks you right off your feet and has you scrabbling for information about the band. In this case, I needed to check that the album was a new one, and not one released about 1970. To be fair, the production values give away its contemporary origins, but the solid, gritty, blues-rock is so authentic you wonder if its an old classic remastered. It isn't; its just gritty, garage-y, blues rock and it is absolutely brilliant

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Volume 53


The Prime Minister's Daughter - LIBRARY VOICES - From the album Summer of Lust

Proving that all Canadian music isn't as dull as Arcade Fire or as vacant as Sum 41, Library Voices provide everything you could hope for from indie pop: heartfelt lyrics, oddly titled songs (“Generation Handclap”, “Reluctant Readers Make Reluctant Lovers”), and big instrumentation, featuring keyboards, horns, and strings. This album doesn’t have a dull moment, leaving the listener energized and anxious to push repeat. An album I keep coming back to

Encyclopedia Of Classic Takedowns - A C NEWMAN - from the album Shut Down The Streets
OK ... more decent Canadian music, this time from frontman of the mighty New Pornographers Carl Newman. On his own, Newman takes a couple of steps back from the hopped-up band dynamic of the Pornographers; as A.C. Newman, he was presenting himself in the mold of the thoughtful and introspective pop composer. This is from his third, and perhaps, best solo effort
End Of The World Everyday - WILDCAT! WILDCAT! - available to listen to here
Indie RnB is going to be THE sound of 2013 and this trio are at the forefront of that new sound. Wildcat! Wildcat! actually go way back...about fifteen years, in fact. Lead singers Jesse Taylor, Michael Wilson and drummer Jesse Carmichael all share more than a few strong common bonds...a propensity for making music being the obvious. Over the span of years the guys have played together in one fashion or another, but didn’t delve into this project until 2011, when it just felt like time.
Whatever ... the trio's technicolor serendipity pop speaks for itself ... cannot wait for the debut album

Friday, 4 January 2013

Volume 52

Poison of Choice - STEVE BUG - from the album Noir
A German DJ-turned-producer who came to prominence during Ibiza's golden years, his music occupies an area between banging club music and headphone-friendly chillout minimalism. This latest album veers more towards the latter, however. Mostly instrumental, each track starts with a beat that gradually swells into a space-filling vibe.  Quite a dark album, but extremely atmospheric
The Fall - RHYE - from the EP The Fall
Fans of The XX will love this!  Not sure what you would call this particular genre of music, but indie-soul would not be an inaccurate description. This LA duo have a very lo-fi sound but not one that is sparse or, indeed, sombre.  I have had a sneak preview of the album, due for release later in 2013, and it is excellent.
Incidentally, fans of The Killing 2 will enjoy the video!
 Sweet n Sour - MVSCLES - single only, available here

Another duo, this time from Boston MA. Cat (the singer) comes from a musical theatre background; Chad is a drummer who actually studied music at college. This is one of those curiously addictive songs that sounds almost whimsical on first listen but soon becomes rather annoyingly catchy.  Their music has been described as "glo-fi" or (and I have to admit this is a new genre even to me) "based pop".  Me?  I call it a damn fine tune