Thursday, 1 November 2018

Art Sick - Going Down/No Clue

Starring Burnt Palms and Lunchbox alumni? Sold! *And* Kids On A Crime Spree? Give it to me now.

This blog once confidently predicted (I know, it don’t half chat shit sometimes) that Burnt Palms would be bigger than The Beatles and fatter than Elvis (see what I mean?). So no grand claims this time around, but surely Art Sick's blend of snotty punk and pop sass can fill the hole in discerning music listeners’ hearts since Best Coast went down the dumper?

These songs - just the two of them, so more please, Art Sick, when you have a moment - have the carefree Californian suss of The Go-Go’s and answer the question ‘what would The Shangri-La’s sound like if they recorded in a garage?’

Maybe that question was already answered by The Flips and Stolen Hearts. Who? I know. I truly hope Art Sick get the gold discs. There are only 100 copies of this 7" so it'll have to be the next record that goes gold. Act fast.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Ricky Hell - Blue Lips

Remember when Psychedelic Horseshit shredded the Beach Boys songbook through a practice amp in a damp basement? They called it shitgaze. Ricky Hell plays a similarly joyous hand with California Girls on Nela Park.

He calls it gutter pop and finishes it in 65 seconds. You’d have to play it again and again even if it was 5 minutes long. It’s that catchy.

The other two songs strongly suggest Mary Chain dolorous wreckage and, obviously because of the name, Richard Hell. Drinking cheap vodka, staring into the sun, wondering what the blackest shade of black they can wear. You know how it goes. It doesn’t age when it’s done this well.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Kevin Hairs - Freak In The Streets

Freak in the streets, DIY pop love god in the sheets. New tape highlight Kevin Wants A Dog hits the sweet spot between Modern Lovers alienation and Television Personalities awkward sensitivity.

The other songs? Glad you asked, because you're really getting value for your entertainment dollar at a buck a song on this 6-track tape. Kevin has switched on the fx pedal to the "hoover" setting and blasts his way through songs that match new wave's freewheeling catchiness with 80s indie production values.

You'll get these no-nonsense pop songs straight away. If you don't, well, there's plenty of other music made by people with a lot of money and very little inspiration that will suit you.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The return of Ignacio Aguilo

Ignacio from the world-conquering Hacia Dos Veranos is back. And this time it's...well, it's more understated beauty for fans of Maurice Deebank, The Clientele and The Durutti Column.

For all the low-key melodrama, be ready to unfurl your TUNE! banner. This songs features a whistling solo. Everything about it is wonderful.

Ignacio kindly tells us all.

You're back! What happened to Hacia Dos Veranos?

I had a great time with Hacia Dos Veranos. We recorded three – in my opinion – very fine LPs – one of them released by the splendid Hangover Lounge label, and we managed to reach out to audiences in many parts of the world. Being an instrumental band from Argentina implies that, from very early on, you realise you won’t be the next big thing in pop music; but still, we never dreamt that we were going to be on the BBC, or that one of our heroes, Alasdair MacLean from The Clientele, would record with us, or that we would play in the Union Chapel. So it was a pretty good run, in my view.

Is Dias in any way a tribute to Amor de Dias?

Días is the first single from my first solo album. It doesn’t have anything to do with Amor de Días, though, but perhaps you could say the topic of the song – the beauty of the every day – connects with the concept behind the name of the band.

You're singing! What on earth's going on?

After some time off music, I decided I wanted to try something new, a little more personal. It’s a strange thing for me because, for many years, I was in an instrumental band, but one of the good things about growing old is that I don’t care what people say. And nowadays there’s Auto-Tune, so the computer does all the work. Everybody can sing! Plus, one of the good things about singing is I don’t have to answer anymore the question everybody asked me when I was in Hacia Dos Veranos (‘why no one sings?’).

We want an album! When can we expect one?

It will come out in the first semester of 2019.

Which of your showbiz pals can we expect on it?

These songs have some features that were present in Hacia Dos Veranos, like the Maurice Deebank-like arpeggios, the dreamy melodies, the jazzy chords, but the songs are much simpler, more pop, and there is a stronger presence of Argentinian folkloric music, particularly rhythms. I tried to mix everything – pop, Argie folk, jazzy and Brazilian chords – to create a hybrid in which each ingredient get lost in the mix.

The last time we saw you on stage, you performed a new song, The Hangover Lounge, a love song to those club-running hunks of yore. I can get you a very fetching photo if you want to make a picture disc.

This song, my personal tribute to these much-loved modern patrons of the arts (the Medicis of our age) is indeed on the album. It had to be!

You're playing on Saturday. So are The Clientele. How the hell am I meant to choose who to see?
Easy: if you’re in Spain, come to see me, I’m opening for Clyde, one of Spain’s finest indie pop acts, a real hidden gem. If you’re in London, see The Clientele. If we ever play in the same city at the same time, then come to see me, I need to build a fan base.

You've got to play in the UK again soon. Any gigs coming up?

Not yet, but I’m a cheap date, so any invitations are welcome.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Jonathan Richman - SA

SA finds Jonathan back in Modern Lovers territory, playing with Jerry Harrison who also co-produces the album.

The Fading of an Old World revisits that era’s Old World. When in 1972 Jonathan still loved the 50s and the old world he looked to the future, concluding “bye bye old world we’ve got to help the new world”. Not much has changed in 2018 - he still “doesn’t want to go back to the old fading world”.

SA is an album that in part is an older man looking back. Ten years ago Jonathan contemplated his mother’s death on As My Mother Lay Lying. He’s now thinking about his own mortality on And Do No Other Thing, where he insists he must “follow the heart and have no other religion” to a chorus of handclaps.

Despite the no religion statement, Jonathan explains that the titular SA is the “root note in Indian ragas [that] Ramakrishna, the much beloved mystic, told his spiritual students to search for underneath all things of this world." The eight-minute raga of O Mind! Just Dance! isn’t exactly That Summer Feeling.

There really is no suppressing Jonathan’s eccentricities. Not least on Yes, Take Me Home - a song from the viewpoint of a dog, which is surely a follow up to Our Dog Is Getting Older Now.

But Jonathan’s sheer joy can never be hidden for long. Alegre Soy - that’s I’m Joyful in Spanish - is pure old style JoJo pop.

And Do No Other Thing had better not be his epitaph. On the evidence of SA, his best record since, and at least equal to, 2008’s Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild, he's got plenty of fragility, introspection and baffled wonderment to offer yet.

The CD is out now. A vinyl release follows next year.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Ben Pirani - How Do I Talk To My Brother?

If you were really quick (and smart) or are very rich (and maybe not so smart if you dropped £150) you’ll have a copy of Light Of My Life by Benjamin & the Right Direction on 7”.

It’s a great song - horn-driven, finger-snappin’ modern club soul. Exactly what Mayer Hawthorne did 9 years ago on his debut. Which is pretty much where Ben Pirani picks up with a mixture of quiet storm soul (It’s Understanding) and urgent Motown beats (Not One More Tear).

In what’s been a vintage year for classic soul singles, How Do I Talk To My Brother? makes a near irresistible case for being a classic soul album. The midtempo grace and harmonic heartbreak of That’s What You Mean To Me is wonderful, but the string-soaked soul of You Brought The Rain is undercut by the lyrics which either came out of a soul words generator app or a rhyming dictionary.

All in, though, Ben Pirani has made a very good album. Six of its 10 songs have already been out on 7”, but if you don’t have those then this is one of the better musical investments you could make.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Goon Sax - We’re Not Talking

We’re Not Talking is better than debut album Up To Anything by the same magnitude that Dick Diver’s Calendar Days is better than New Start Again.

Calendar Days, released in 2013, was the highpoint of Australia’s putative dolewave scene which has since petered out, but subsequently felt in moments like The Goon Sax’s 2016 calling card Up To Anything.

We’re Not Talking is a much more different, confident, expansive and better album than its predecessor. It’s not dolewave, that’s for sure. The inventive percussion of Make Time 4 Love strikes me as a nod to The Feelies’ Nobody Knows.

The crucial influence on this album, though, is British 1980s indie and in particular Orange Juice. When on the first album’s Home Haircuts they declared, “I show them a picture of Roger McGuinn, Edwyn Collins, John Lennon, David Byrne”, they were referencing Orange Juice’s Consolation Prize, “I wore my fringe like Roger McGuinn’s”.

The Goon Sax set out their stall lyrically but didn’t match it musically. But now the bass is turned up and on album highlight Get Out they go for Orange Juice’s disco punk hybrid and claim first prize.

We’re Not Talking is a really good pop album forged in post-punk’s experimentation and audacity. It’s old fashioned pop in little ways like making the last song on side 1 a spare, beautiful ballad that makes you want to turn the record over.

What We’re Not Talking does is announce The Goon Sax as serious contenders, a band not part of a scene but one that’s found its feet and have the quality and craft to make their own way. I wouldn’t dare offer them advice, but do ask that Riley Jones, the group’s strongest and most affecting singer, gets more vocal duties next time around.

Why write this review 2 weeks after release? Because I haven’t agreed with any other reviews. Partly because they all reference The Go-Betweens.

The Goon Sax feature Louis Forster; The Go-Betweens featured Robert Forster. The bands have as much in common as Steve Tyler and Bonnie Tyler, as LeAnn Rimes and Busta Rhymes. The Goon Sax are their own band. Their future looks very bright.