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.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Frokedal - How We Made It

Frokedal’s David is the greatest psych-pop epic since Avi Buffalo’s What’s In It For? I reckon there’s something of Judy Collins’ Both Sides Now in it, one of those songs which to know it is to love it.

David alone could carry this whole album or justify buying it, but there’s loads more to enjoy. Misery loves company and all that.

The title track comes close to David - try this for an opening: “Lock the door because I keep falling/There’s vomit in my face and my hair." Then there’s the beat girl banger I Don’t Care - a domestic tragedy in 3 minutes of escalating bitterness - which wouldn’t be out of place in the Billie Davis back catalogue.

Frokedal’s central sound, though, is Nico’s avant-garde icy folk. Any one of Stranger, Believe, Hybel and (especially) Paper Tiger recall Chelsea Girl’s rich desolation and romantic solitude.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

JJ Ulius - Tänder Ett Ljus

In which JJ takes a break from cutting 2-minute punk songs with Skiftande Enheter and decides that offbeat Teardrop Explodes psychedelic punk with seasick organ, skittish guitars and the brutal intensity of Buzzcocks' Love Bites is the way to go.

And still he does all that in just 2 minutes. The b-side isn’t streaming yet, but on the basis of this unholy hymn to the past mastery of Saint Julian, I had to buy the 7” right away.

Monday 10 September 2018

Owls of Now - Episode Four

They say they’re “Glasgow-London based post-punk nerds” but it’s really Glasgow that’s stamped on this: Delgados melodic stabbing, Mogwai bristling mania and Secret Goldfish fizz. Next to musical and city contemporaries Hairband they’re putting the funk back into punk with sweet propulsion.

Oh yeah, it’s difficult to imagine they haven’t heard The Long Blondes before. Listen to Lead Singer:

Then listen to Powers - featuring a cello for bonus points - and tell me they’re not your new favourite band: