Thursday 22 June 2017

The Sprinters

You know those "RIYL" blurbs that bands or labels put on their releases? If they were all as accurate as The Sprinters' effort, you'd know exactly when to open your wallet. The Sprinters claim they're like these bands: Ariel Pink, Real Estate, Pavement, Mac DeMarco, Yo La Tengo, Kurt Vile, The Feelies.

And they are. This eponymous debut album is 90s American indie (Pavement's brutal melodies, Yo La Tengo's narcotic noise). It's 1970s radio-friendly hits warped in the California sun (Ariel Pink), post-punk jangle (The Feelies), woozily dazed (see Mac DeMarco) and, hold up, let me swap Kurt Vile for Neil Young. You get the idea.

The Sprinters are from Wigan. They write pop songs like the 1960s have just ended and they're not sure where they're going. 20 years ago this record would have been released by Elephant 6. Rejoice that it's freshly made.

Friday 16 June 2017

The Rain Parade - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip

The Rain Parade recorded Emergency Third Rail Power Trip in 1983 with the conviction that Eight Miles High, We Can Work It Out and Forever Changes were the 1960s’ most essential artefacts, and that punk’s true legacy was Marquee Moon. I expect they liked Pink Floyd as well, but I won’t hold that against them because this is a phenomenal record.

Bucketfull of Brains named it the best album of the 1980s. Alan McGee tried to licence it for Creation. To know this psychedelic masterpiece is to love it. Over 10 years ago I started working in a second-hand record shop in London. On my first day a woman asked for Emergency Third Rail Power Trip. We didn’t have it.

A colleague told me she came in every week to ask for it. The next week I promised I’d copy it for her. She was delighted. I brought the copy into the shop the next day. The woman never came back. The only explanation is that she’d found a copy in another shop. Her search for the holy grail of modern psychedelia was over.

Real Gone Music are reissuing it in August. You need this album. It includes the follow-up mini album, Explosions In A Glass Palace, which is very good but not quite in the same league. By this time founding member David Roback had left The Rain Parade. Opal and Mazzy Star came next, which you know all about. Or if you don’t, go into record shops every week until you find a copy of Opal’s Early Recordings.

Monday 5 June 2017

Bonny Doon

I'm not certain how some Detroit garage musicians came to make a brilliant alt-country lp, but l'm delighted they did. Bonny Doon channel Smog's world weariness, Wilco's rich gloom and Dylan's wild mercury sound. It complements 2017's other near-perfect albums, Dag's Benefits of Solitude and Courtney Marie Andrews' Honest Life, with a psych side order of Woods and Real Estate.

What Time Is It In Portland? might not seem like one of the big questions, but it's about lost friends and an ex-lover. Bonny Doon give the subject - romantic chaos and melancholy longing - the gravitas it merits.

They show their garage roots on Lost My Way, though they've opened the door and let the light pour in. They realise what they're doing on the even grubbier Maine Vision isn't quite right so cut that song just shy of a minute.

All the other songs are played at leisure (or more often despair) and given room to breathe. This album is a low-key minor classic.

Saturday 3 June 2017

Mr. Jukes feat. Charles Bradley "Grant Green"

This is possibly the biggest surprise since Sean Dickson claimed there'd always been a dance element to the Soup Dragons. Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club has gone to soul sampling and vocals from Charles Bradley with the storming Grant Green.

There's an album, God First, which has some songs as good (or almost) as Grant Green, and a few that mine the jazz catalogue too much for my taste. I expect Grant Green will get a 7" release at some point. It's what happens with the big soul cuts from albums (yep, album first, then 7" for "DJ demand" or maybe "record company bottom line").

Still, Mr Jukes stands up next to the Avalanches, Mr President and Hifi Sean. Stream it, I bet you'll find something you love.