Archive | Album Reviews

Eyelids – The Accidental Falls

Tags: , ,

Eyelids – The Accidental Falls

Posted on 13 February 2020 by Dorian

The first time I listened to the Accidental Falls, Eyelid’s 3rd full album, I wasn’t immediately taken. Their first two grabbed me immediately, and have remained firm favourites, but this one felt different. I’m lucky enough to get access to some albums early, and my first listens were just before Christmas, and I put the album to one side knowing I had until February to make my critical assessment.

In January I started to listen to the album again, and after a couple more plays it clicked. Really clicked. It made perfect sense (if an album can make sense) and I went from lack of surety to certainty, this was a great album, as good as the first two. So, it seems, Eyelids have delivered their first “grower”.

Eyelids - Accidental Falls

The album differs from their previous releases in that the lyrics were written by Tim Buckley collaborator Larry Beckett, with the band providing the musical contributions. The effect of this is that the album sounds more 60s and 70s influenced than even their previous recordings. Not in a tired or pastiche way, more in a general mood and tone.

Opener ‘Dream’ is a beautiful languid piece built around a simple but captivating guitar line. Eyelids have always been built around the intricate guitar interplay and it is clear from song one that The Accidental Falls isn’t looking to deviate from that pattern.

The band can also rock pretty well and the title track ups the volume nicely. It is another great piece of melody with pounding drums and some big guitars.

The album has a great balance throughout of quiet tunes and more rocking numbers that you know will sound even better live. Special mention has to go to ‘Found At The Scene Of A Rendezvous That Failed’, simply one of the best songs on the album. It is probably the most self-consciously retro production on the album (and is a previously unrecorded Buckley and Beckett composition), you wouldn’t be at all surprised if you had heard the song on a lost Beatles demo. Mermaid Blues also deserves a mention with one of the nicest guitar lines you’ll likely hear all year.

I asked Eyelid’s own Chris Slusarenko whether producing an album based on someone else’s lyrics had changed how they approached the record.

“I think we were not really sure what would happen once we sat down with Larry’s lyrics.  That first creative get together with Larry was maybe a bit sheepish on our end.  He’s a total legend and I think we thought maybe we’d get a really special 7″ or EP out of it.  And since writing our own lyrics is such an important part of what we do I think we weren’t sure how the process would work.  But I went home with his giant stack of lyrics (ranging from the 60s to now) and wrote River.   John went home that same night and wrote insomnia.  We were off to the races really.  I sounded like we wrote those lyrics–it came from inside us.  After that the process ranged from sending songs for Larry to write lyrics to (At Sea, Dream) to a Goethe translation (The Accidental Falls–which is the most rocking Goethe translation of all time!  ha!) to one song that Larry  & Tim Buckley wrote together in 1966 (Found At The Scene…).   We just became it but really it feels like Eyelids.  I guess that’s why Larry was so good with Tim Buckley (and other artists).  You can’t even imagine that Tim didn’t write the lyrics because they were SO him!  I think the same can be said for Eyelids.  It just feels like us and the songs melted through us.”

The album definitely sounds different to previous Eyelids recordings, the response to the lyrics must have made a difference, but it loses none of the melodic brilliance that has made the band a Neon Filler favourite since they formed.

It is also nice to see the album getting press (and very favourable press) this side of the Atlantic. Hopefully some sales will follow, and we’ll see the band doing a UK tour later this year.

The album gets a valentine’s day release and is highly recommended for fans of the band or anyone looking for a great guitar pop album.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers 

Share

Comments (0)

Duncan Batey  – Little Black Classics

Tags: , ,

Duncan Batey – Little Black Classics

Posted on 09 January 2020 by Joe

Its been a while since Glastonbury’s Duncan Batey last got in touch with us, having first impressed us with his acoustic folk Blindsided EP back in 2013.

We caught up with him again four years later at the Glastonbury Calling festival and were warmed once again by his thoughtful, melancholy songs, backed by cello and double bass.

Duncan Batey in Glastonbury 2017. Photo by Joe Lepper

Duncan Batey in Glastonbury 2017. Photo by Joe Lepper

With a new decade underway he’s back again with his debut album, to offer a wider audience a sample of his work.

Once again he’s backed by a welcome string section, this time with a violin added to the mix, aling with accordion, slide guitar and more.

The effect is modern and traditional, mixing a 1960s feel with melancholic modern folk and chamber pop.

This 10-song collection opens passionately with Cleanskin, with strong, often high vocals blending well with the string section beneath.

Little Black Classics, the one with the accordion, has a European feel to it and blends melancholy with pop sensibility well. Imagine Ray Davies on holiday in France.

Stoney Ground is another song to stand out, with harmonica helping further to marry the traditional with the modern. While not a direct ode to Arthur Lee’s timeless band Love, it made me want to immediately go and play their 1967 classic Forever Changes.

My favourite may be Home By Now, a simple acoustic number where vocal and string section combine perhaps the best. It also features the most catchy of this album’s choruses.

Talk Talk

 

Meanwhile, Run is surely influenced by those miraculous final Talk Talk albums such as Laughing Stock.

There’s a range of styles here but with a distince blend of old, new it works well. Like an old friend it has a feel that immiedately hooks me in, as the sounds of Love, Talk Talk and the Kinks swirl around amidst Batey’s vocals and those marvellous strings.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

More information is available at Duncan’s bandcamp page.

Share

Comments (0)

Best Indie and Alternative Albums 2019

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Indie and Alternative Albums 2019

Posted on 13 December 2019 by Joe

Our best albums 2019 list features the 15 albums that we can’t stop listening to.

What a year! It’s been beset with political turmoil. But in terms of music its been another fantastic 12 months.

This time around 15 albums have impressed us for our annual round up. This ranges from a return to form for one of our favourite US acts to an intriguing funk concept album about Trump.

Lots of our other top acts over the last few years have also marked 2019 in style with stellar releases. There’s plenty of interesting new acts as well that impressed during the year.

But enough from us. Here’s the 15 best albums of 2019 that we urge you to seek out and investigate yourselves.

15.The Mountain Goats – In League with Dragons

The Mountain Goats - In League with Dragons

John Darnielle and co once again excel with  a collection taking in themes of celebrity and this time the mythical heroes of their youth. Here the production is even more sumptious than it has been in recent years, with one of our favourite artists Owen Pallet on production desk duties. Read our full review here.

14. John Howard – Cut the Wire

1 Cover

The singer songwriter’s fierce sense of independence rises to the fore on this collection that has a far greater focus on his 1960s and 1970s musical influences, sitting somewhere between The Beach Boys and whimsical English pop. Read the full review here.

13. Jenny Lewis – On The Line

Jenny Lewis On the Line

We may miss the sparkling pop of Rilo Kiley but Jenny Lewis is still delivering great songs as a solo artist. Continuing on from where 2014’s The Voyager left off she cements her role as one of the best country-pop balladeers around.

12. Stealing Sheep – Big Wows

Stealing Sheep

The evolution of Stealing Sheep continues and any of the more folksy pastoral elements of their first two albums  have been cast aside in favour of a greater pure-pop approach. The good news is that it suits them perfectly, and anyone who has seen them live this year can attest to what a great glittery performance that is. Additionally, ‘Jokin’ Me’ has to be the best song released this year and deserves to be a chart smash (if that even exists as a thing anymore?).

11. The National – I Am Easy To Find

TheNational_IAmEasyToFind

The “stadium band it’s ok to like” continue to deliver the goods on their eight album. An array of guest female vocalists add some difference to the sound this time around and compliment Matt Berninger’s smooth croon perfectly.

10. The New Pornographers – In The Morse Code of Break Lights

New Pornographers

The second Dan Bejar free New Pornographers album in a row may miss his contributions but the rest of the band do their best to make up for that. Simi Stone joins the band, adding a third female vocalist, and AC Newman delivers some pitch-perfect tunes. ‘You’ll Need A Backseat Driver’ is worth the admission fee alone.

9. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountain

Purple Mountains

Purple Mountains is notable as David Berman’s first post-Silver Jews album, and his first recorded work in over a decade. It is also notable as one of the most consistent records of his fascinating career. Sadly it stands as his final work, tragically he committed suicide in August this year.

8. Guided By Voices – Warp and Woof

warp_and_woof_gbv_

This is just one of the three albums the prolific band released this year. Originally coming out as a set of EPs the songs are short, urgent and focused. It is a purple patch for the lo-fi legends but this stands out (just) as the best of the bunch.

7. Pip Blom – Boat

Pip Blom

The Dutch indie popsters have a very identifiable sound, and a very appealing one. Their debut album continues on from their excellent early singles and is one of the most enjoyable, and freshest, releases of the year.

6. Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All the Time

Twilight Sad

Album number five for the Scottish act is full of epic melodies and meloncholy lyrics as they cement their place as one of the most innovate indie rock and alternative bands in the UK. James Alexander Graham’s downright beautiful vocals elevate them even further. VTr and The Arbor are among our favourite tracks here.

5. Penelope Isles – Until the Tide Creeps In

Penelope Isles

Brighton base dPenelope Isles play a melodic dream pop, their debut album has a scope and sophistication that reveals their music school background. In lazy journo style I hereby dub them “the British Deerhunter”.

4. School of Language – 45

School of Language live in Bristol in 2014 (Pic by Joe Lepper)

School of Language live in Bristol in 2014 (Pic by Joe Lepper)

David Brewis from Field Music turns his attention to Donald Trump and the US far right on this cheeky, funky and in places angry collection. The lyrics left us nodding in agreement and chuckling, while David’s inventive take on his influences of Prince and Talking Heads continues to impress us. Read the full review here.

3. Corridor – Junior

Junior - Corridor

Sub-Pop’s Corridor are a French Canadian band that deliver a pulsing guitar pop that evokes post-punk and the pulsing rhythms of Stereolab in equal measure. It is epic and rhythmic and melodic and one of our favourite discoveries of the year.

2. Fontaines DC – Dogrel

Fontaines DC at Glastonbury 2019, photo by Joe Lepper

Fontaines DC at Glastonbury 2019, photo by Joe Lepper

This  Dublin band’s stunning debut sounds like a blend of Joy Division, The Smiths and the Buzzcocks. While lyrically they are cemented in their Dublin background, especially with Grian Chatten’s powerful vocals. They impressed us so much at Glastonbury 2019 that we rushed out to buy this debut – there’s not many live acts that have the power and talent to do that.

1. Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?

deerhunter-why-hasnt-everything-already-disappeared-review-1547764133-640x640

Their best album since 2010’s melody packed release Halcyon Digest? We certainly think so. In fact its filled with even more melody and inventive ways to present a song, veering from classic pop  to alternative rock at will on this all killer, no filler collection.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

Share

Comments (0)

Catch up with our Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition longlisters

Tags: , , ,

Catch up with our Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition longlisters

Posted on 03 October 2019 by Joe

One of the best parts of being a judge in the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition is keeping in touch with the artists that impressed during the selection process.

Last time out our three long listed entries were Brighton band Roma Palace, singer-songwriter Laura Goldthorp and indie and jazz act Saachi.

Roma Palace made it through to the last eight shortlisted finalists and appeared at last year’s festival. They also impressed us recently with their new single You.

Roma Palace

Roma Palace performinh at the Glastonbury ETC 2019 finals (pic by Matt Turner)

This month we have also caught up with Saachi and Laura.

Saachi

 

Saachi lead singer Saachi Sen has let us know that in October she is releasing a new single Dark.

This comes amid a busy year for Saachi having played festivals including Cambridge Big Weekend and Pride in London.

Released as a solo track, Dark was part recorded at London’s Abbey Road and is “about being proud of who you are, no matter what preconception the world could have of you.”

As with her Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition entry, Dark also impresses us, showcasing Saachi’s great song writing and superb voice. It’s got a great message too.

Laura Goldthorp

 

Meanwhile, Laura Goldthorp’s track Candy Shops is still earworming its way nicely through our noggins. She’s back with another slice of great pop with a new single Supernova.

This is the first single off an upcoming EP and can be found via her social media sites.

According to Laura, the track is an “honest exploration of creative anxiety”.

 

 

 

by Joe Lepper

Share

Comments (0)

August Single/EP releases – Roma Palace and return of Broken Family Band members

Tags: , ,

August Single/EP releases – Roma Palace and return of Broken Family Band members

Posted on 14 August 2019 by Joe

This month two singles/EPs in particular have caught our year. Firstly, Roma Palace from Brighton have released a new single You this month.

This is their first release after impressing during the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition and the festival itself.

As a judge in the competition we long listed Roma Palace and was delighted to see them make it through to the final shortlist of eight. Although they did not win they did impress the festival organisers enough to appear at the event.

The track follows in the tradition of their previous tracks like Tell Me, mixing pop, indie rock and blues perfectly. One to watch out for.

We have also been sent word from Steven Adams that he has hooked up with former fellow Broken Family Band alumni Tim Victor, for his latest band – Portland Brothers.

Portland Brothers

Portland Brothers

Their four-track debut EP is released on August 23 and is a must for Broken Family Band fans, marking a return to the country and classic pop roots of their releases.

Since the Broken Family Band broke up Adams has been involved in a number of musical projects that have we’ve consistently been impressed by.
by Joe Lepper

Roma Palace can be found on Souncloud here.

Share

Comments (0)

Mike Gale – Summer Deluxe

Tags: ,

Mike Gale – Summer Deluxe

Posted on 25 June 2019 by Joe

One of our favourite acts Co-pilgrim are seemingly no more. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the melodic indie act’s chief song writer and lead singer Mike Gale is still going strong in the recording studio, releasing a solo collection of tracks, called Summer Deluxe.

Mike Gale Summer Deluxe

So while we mourn their demise we can rejoice in another strong collection from Mike Gale.

This has a far more electronic feel to it than Co-Pilgrim, with synths taking more of a lead in the mix than guitars.

But Mike Gale’s keen sense of melody is still there and while upbeat in places this is a far more melancholic affair than many of this previous indie-rock inspired releases.

Among the best is the dreamy Beach Boys soundscape of the title track and the fine pop of Jump Start My Heart, which follows within the album’s middle section.

The Waves Are High is another high-point, so to speak. Relaxing and full of summer hazy pop sounds this make this another strong release from Gale. This one has more of a 80s pop feel to it, that will appeal to Talk Talk fans in particular.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

More information about Mike Gale can be found here.

Share

Comments (0)

School of Language – 45

Tags: ,

School of Language – 45

Posted on 30 May 2019 by Joe

Trump’s words, given a tongue in cheek twist and set to funk music. It’s an intriguing conceit for the latest album by School of Language, aka Field Music’s David Brewis.

School of Language live in Bristol in 2014 (Pic by Joe Lepper)

School of Language live in Bristol in 2014 (Pic by Joe Lepper)

As with previous albums, Sea from Shore (2008) and Old Fears (2014), School of Language allows David Brewis more space to explore his funk influences. So here there’s still hints of Field Music influences like Medications, but far more Prince and Talking Heads. Prince’s influence in particular is key to tracks such as the marvellous opener I’ve Got the Numbers.

Meanwhile, A Beautiful Wall is great satire on Trump and Nobody Knows has some fine squelchy synths.

David Brewis is not the first to poke fun at the US right, with Southern Tenant Folk Union’s The Chuck Norris Project (2015) particularly good. But this collection is just as effective, offering some great music and keeping the notion of the protest song alive and well too.

9/10

By Joe Lepper

Share

Comments (0)

The Mountain Goats – In League with Dragons

Tags: ,

The Mountain Goats – In League with Dragons

Posted on 17 May 2019 by Joe

What an enviable position The Mountain Goats are in. Beloved by fans and garnering new ones with each release. The band – of songwriter and singer John Darnielle, bassist Peter Hughes, drummer Jon Wurster and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas – can essentially do as they please.

The Mountain Goats - In League with Dragons

This time around, on The Mountain Goats  In League with Dragons, they are exploring some familiar themes of recent releases. As on All Eternals Deck ( 2011), Beat the Champ (2015) and Goths (2017) celebrity looms large. But this time around the icons are not the likes of Judy Garland, Charles Bronson or Chavo Guerrero. Instead, for some tracks at least, they are the wizards and characters of the game Dungeons and Dragons. Is there any real difference?

To produce, The Mountain Goats have enlisted Owen Pallett – the multi-instrumentalist who used to record under the name Final Fantasy and wrote a similarly obscure and wonderful rock opera of his own dedicated to ‘fantasy’, called Heartland (2010).

It’s a perfect blend with Pallett giving The Mountain Goats room to go off on their flights of fancy. Pallett, who has worked previously with Darnielle and co, even allows the pitch perfect country number Waylon Jennnings Live! to shine.

He also draws out the fine melody of each track  with An Antidote to Strychnine and Scilian Crest  among many high points.

John Darnielle, by Joe Lepper (2015)

John Darnielle, by Joe Lepper (2015)

Is there a good single? Not really, The Mountain Goats have never really been a singles band, although Cadaver Sniffing Dog is a close contender. But those that adore the soft folk/rock, pop, celebrity and piano of recent album releases will find a lot to love here. As said, an enviable position to be indeed.

8/10

By Joe Lepper

For more information visit here – The Mountain Goats In League with Dragons.

Share

Comments (0)

Martha – Love Keeps Kicking

Tags: ,

Martha – Love Keeps Kicking

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Dorian

When I first saw Martha play at Indietracks about six years ago they didn’t make a huge impact on me. Don’t get me wrong, they were great, it was fun and the crowd loved them, but I didn’t come away with a strong picture of what kind of band they were. I certainly never suspected that they’d later produce an album as good as Love Keeps Kicking.

Martha Love Keeps Kicking

Listening back over their albums it is clear that they started good but get better and better with each release. The previous two albums were great, with some excellent stand-out songs, but on this release they’ve raised the bar and produced an album that hits home with very track.

They play a power-pop-punk that has a lot of American influences, Ted Leo springs to mind, but they bring some real personal sensibilities to the songs. I think that most of the band contribute vocals and they all sing in their own voice, no fake American accents on show here. This gives their songs so much more personality than if they’d embraced the affectations that so many British bands playing this kind of music fall foul of.

Lyrically they wear their heart on their sleeves, these are open and honest songs that don’t shy away from the personal, or the difficult, issues around love and relationships. It is a difficult line to walk but Martha, like so many of my favourite bands, manage to balance these lyrical themes against some really uplifting and energetic music.

If you want hear some great hooks, some blistering playing and some lyrics from a young band with something to say then you could do a lot worse than heading to your local record shop, or the their Bandcamp page, and picking up this release.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

Share

Comments (0)

Robert Rotifer – About Us/They Don’t Love You Back

Tags:

Robert Rotifer – About Us/They Don’t Love You Back

Posted on 01 April 2019 by Joe

Robert Rotifer’s latest is one of those while you were out collections , offering up versions of two recent, less conventionally released albums you may have missed.

In both Brexit looms large – with his love for Britain and Europe and crucially a Britain in Europe the key emerging theme.

a3965909022_16

The first of this two disc collection from the Austrian born, long time Kent resident  is an English version of his his 2017 German language release Über uns.

This is a calming friend of an album, with gentle guitar picking backing his melancholy take on a Britain that is departing Europe. We Have Lost, which opens the album perhaps best exemplifies this.

As for his love for Britian, this comes across most strikingly on Westgate Towers, which features some of the most beautiful parts of Canterbury, where he and his family have lived for many years. Who would not want to lie in the sunshine in the gardens surrounding the Westgate, after listening to this?

They Don’t Love You Back

The second album, They Don’t Love You Back, sees  last year’s  77-minute long stream of consciousness, charity release about Brexit converted into a more straight forward release with separate tracks.

A detailed review of They Don’t Love You Back can be found here. If you want to take advantage of the separate track listings to dip in, we recommend the first Psychedelic folk opener and the title track (track 10).

With a 16-minute medley of They Don’t Love You Back at the end of About Us added on, there are plenty of options to choose from when listening to Rotifer’s most recent work.

Speaking of options, as I write MPs are set to vote on yet another range of Brexit possibilities. As the right wingers and centrists alike step into the lobby I can only hope that the real, human side of Brexit, as featured on these two albums, is considered.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information visit Robert Rotifer’s Bandcamp page.

Share

Comments (0)

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here

Charts