Archive | February, 2013

Author Martine McDonagh’s Top Tracks from 1973-1974

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Author Martine McDonagh’s Top Tracks from 1973-1974

Posted on 28 February 2013 by Joe

For our latest feature and competition we’ve linked up with author Martine McDonagh, who has just released her second novel After Phoenix.

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To mark the release Martine, whose debut novel I Have Waited And You Have Come really impressed us, has handed us a copy of After Phoenix to give away. For more details of how to win the book visit our competitions page here.

Martine, who has also worked for many years in artist management looking after the likes of James and Fujiya & Miyagi, has also supplied us with her favourite tracks from the 1973-74 era the book is set in. For more information about the book and Martine click here.

So sit back, tuck into an Angel Delight and enjoy Martine McDonagh’s top tracks from 1973-1974.

10. Barry White – Never Never Gonna Give You Up

 

9. Mott the Hoople – Roll Away the Stone

 

8. David Essex – Lamplight

 

7. David Bowie – Sorrow

 

6. Stevie Wonder – He’s Misstra Know-it-all

 

5. The Hollies – The Air that I Breathe

 

4. Queen – Seven Seas of Rhye

 

3. Suzi Quatro – Devil Gate Drive

 

2. Roxy Music – Street Life

 

1. David Bowie – Rock n Roll Suicide

 

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UK Music Festival Guide 2013

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UK Music Festival Guide 2013

Posted on 27 February 2013 by Joe

With Glastonbury back after a year off, 2013 is set to be one of the busiest for UK music festivals. Some of our favourite small festivals are also still going strong as we take you through our guide to the best festivals in the UK. We’ve also found space to showcase possibly the worst festival line up we have ever seen. Sadly this year is the first where we will no longer be endorsing the All Tomorrow’s Parties events. With the line-ups becoming increasingly predictable and question marks still lingering in our minds over a recent festival postponement and financial woes we’ve decided that there are better and more reliable options elsewhere.

The Great Escape

May 16-18

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Taking place at venues across Brighton and Hove, on the Sussex coast, you have to be very queue tolerant for the more popular acts. The event does include a lot of leg work to flit between venues but such minor ordeals are worth it for this festival, which prides itself on showcasing the best new talent around as well as a sprinkling of familiar names. This year’s line up includes Merchandise, Bastille and Phosphorescent. Once again we will be reviewing this event. For more information click here.

Glastonbury

June 26-30

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As usual tickets sold out swiftly for this year’s event, especially after it took a break last year to give the fields at its Worthy Farm, Somerset, home  a break. It’s worth checking the website though for details of returned tickets that usually become available around Easter. So far this year the line up rumour mill has been churning faster than ever with David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and Arctic Monkeys all in the mix for a headline slot. After attending our first Glastonbury in 2011 we were amazed by the sheer breadth of music on offer, with the new band-focused BBC Introducing Stage and the John Peel Stage among our favourites. Whatever the bill it promises to remain the best festival for music fans on offer this year. As with 2011, we will be once again be covering the event. This year will be extra special for us as our co-editor Joe Lepper has been one of the judges in the festival’s emerging talent competition, which has a main stage slot as its prize. For more information click here.

Indietracks

July 26-28

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New bands, twee-pop and steam trains. That’s the quick review of this excellent small festival that we have attended at its Midland Railway, Butterley, Derbyshire location for a number of years now. Over the years Neonfiller.com favourites such as Teenage Fanclub, Allo’ Darlin’, Tigercats, Darren Hayman and Pains of Being Pure At Heart have graced the stages scattered around its steam railway museum location. For more information click here.

Greenman

August 15-18, 2012

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Set in Glanusk Park, Wales, this three-day event offers an enticing blend of folk and alternative acts. This is another we are looking to attend this year, especially as the line up includes the likes of Veronica Falls,  Edwyn Collins, This Is The Kit, The Pastels and Fuck Buttons. For more information click here.

End of the Road

August 30 – September 1

End Of The Road

The laidback setting at the Larmer Tree  Gardens, North Dorset makes this one of the best located festivals on the UK circuit. Nestled at the end of the summer holidays the weather tends to be drier (although don’t hold us to that) and this year’s line up is one of the best we have seen. Headliners are Sigur Ros, Belle and Sebastian and David Byrne & St Vincent, with other notable acts already booked including Matthew E White, Jens Lekmen and Frightened Rabbit. For more information click here.

Festival Number 6

September 13-15

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As stunning locations go they don’t get better than this festival, which takes place across the welsh seaside town of Portmeirion, where The Prisoner was filmed. With events taking place in bandstands and other famous settings, there will also be  lots of Prisoner worshippers (above picture by Arthur Hughes) on hand in addition to an eclectic mix of old and new acts. Be warned though, festival goers at last year’s inaugural event warned us that camping conditions, on a rather unsettling slope, could do with some improvement. At the time of writing the line up for 2013 had not been unveiled, but with New Order, Spirtualized, British Sea Power, Field Music and Stealing Sheep among those who played in 2012 we are expecting a similarly impressive line up for 2013. For more information click here.

And this year’s worst UK festival line up….

V Festival

August 17-18

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V Festival, seemingly the music festival for people who hate music, has outdone itself with its traditional line up of mediocrity this year. Not only do we not want to see a single act, but we would actually pay not to go. With Beyonce and Kings of Leon headlining the organisers are no penny pinchers but certainly have questionable taste. Elsewhere for those festival goers looking for something bland for the car stereo there’s Beady Eye, Jessie J, The Script and Olly Murs. To top it off Scouting For Girls, who I always thought were a joke band, are also on the bill….albeit a little lower down and nestled next to Deacon Blue and Ocean Colour Scene. If this appeals then feel free to visit their website here.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition Latest: 120 strong long list announced

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition Latest: 120 strong long list announced

Posted on 26 February 2013 by Joe

After a month of deliberation Neonfiller’s co-editor Joe Lepper and his fellow Glastonbury Emerging Talent judges have whittled down more than 8,000 acts to a long list of just 120. These will now go to a panel, which includes festival organisers Michael and Emily Eavis, who will select a shortlist of eight who will battle it out for the top prize of a slot at Glastonbury Festival 2013.

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Our selections are Swindon based Nudey Bronque, Nadine Shah from the north east of England and maths rockers Super Squarecloud. Good luck to all three.

For a full list of those who made the long list click here.

And here’s a recap of our final three choices:

Nadine Shah

Nadine Shah’s influences include Scott Walker, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey and it shows on this throbbing, atmospheric and downright frightening track she submitted called Aching Bones. The sparse piano and her croaky voice all add to the mystique of this track, which is part Portishead, part gothic horror sound track. Scary and beautiful music from this north East of England singer ,who has recently completed her debut album Love Your Dum and Mad, has really caught my attention

Nudy Bronque

There were two things that leapt out when I heard this track Allsorts from Wiltshire based Nudy Bronque. The first is that their lead vocalist sounds like the late great Vivian Stanshall, of Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band band fame. The second is that the track has been mixed and mastered by Colin Moulding, who given their Wiltshire location must surely be Colin Moulding from XTC,  another hero of ours. So I had a look through some of their other tracks and, yep, they are good as well. Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band meets XTC; I don’t think influences can get any better than this for our website. It’s worth checking out their more upbeat tracks as well, especially Fond Of You.

Super Squarecloud

Next band that has stood out so far is Super Squarecloud, a five piece that bills itself as Maths rock. Even after a few seconds you can tell they are a little bit different,  on their very mathsy track Lolly Moon. The opening heavy guitar riff jerks in and out in time seemingly only with itself, while their vocalist  Jo Ford sings sweetly over it. It jerks about a bit more, giving the listener no chance to even get  an abacus out to calculate the rhythm.

It’s odd, strange, beautiful pop that you certainly can’t dance to and is all the better for it. Great stuff, especially for fans of other innovative UK bands such as Free Swim and Special Benny. The three of them should tour together; it’d be one hell of a show.

 by Joe Lepper

 

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David Bowie is Cool. Who Knew?

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David Bowie is Cool. Who Knew?

Posted on 26 February 2013 by Joe

I’m being facetious of course with this title. There is of course a whole generation of people who know very well that David Bowie is cool. Those, who in their early teens in 1972 saw Bowie transform from one hit wonder  to glam star, knew it. Also in the know were those who marvelled at Bowie’s originality a few years later with his  so-called Berlin trilogy of albums of Low, “Heroes” and Lodger. And there were the ultra cool romantics of 1980, who watched in awe as he joined forces with the likes of Steve Strange as the vanguard for a whole new genre.

Bowie's 1977 classic album

Bowie’s 1977 album that launched his Berlin trilogy

But then there’s me. Born in 1972, I was a baby when Ziggy played guitar, a toddler when Bowie was off his mind on cocaine in the US, and starting primary school as he was gazing at the Berlin wall listening to Kraftwerk. For my formative years Bowie had broken the mainstream stadium rock circuit; to the teenage me he was merely a middle-aged, silly-haired bloke, dancing around in his pyjamas with Mick Jagger and dressing like a pixie king in the fantasy backcombing film Labyrinth. To me he was just about as far from cool as it’s possible to be.

Fast forward a fair few years and here I am in my early 40s discovering what I’ve been missing out on. The internet has of course helped. Through Facebook and Twitter friends such as That Petrol Emotion guitarist Raymond Gorman (now with The Everlasting Yeah) I’ve been enthralled by clips of tracks I never knew existed. I’ve also heard those tracks from his past, which I dismissed  for years, in a whole new light.

I’ve also been swotting away as a new Bowie convert by reading The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg’s weighty, exhaustively detailed but wonderfully written definitive Bowie manual.

So what have I discovered? I’ve discovered that 1971’s Hunky Dory is arguably the greatest pop album ever made. I can’t think of a single album to boast as many great pop songs as this album has, from Changes to All You Pretty Things, the majestic Life on Mars to the ballsy Queen Bitch. He also finds time on the album to cement his influence on the likes of Kurt Cobain and J Mascis with Quicksand, which Mascis’s band Dinosaur Jr were to later cover.

I’ve found that Aladdin Sane is one of the best 1970s rock albums. While I was familiar with Jean Genie, how did the awesome Panic in Detroit or Watch that Man pass me by for so many years?

And as for the Berlin trilogy. These three albums, Low in particular, excude coolness. I’d heard the track “Heroes” before, of course. But I’d never really listened to it until recently. I’d never really heard just how Robert Fripp’s sumptuous guitar effortlessly elevates this song. This particularly surprised me as I was more than happy in my early teens to let Fripp dazzle me with his star turn on Blondie’s 1978 track Fade Away And Radiate.

But on both Low and Heroes in particular there are amazing new songs for me to hear,  as the magpie like Bowie cherry picked his way across genres to create a pair of albums that were wholly unique at a time when other former Glam stars were struggling for credibility amid punk and disco. For example Be My Wife, with the simple lonely video of  a made up Bowie and his guitar, set the template for Blur and Britpop. Always Crashing in the same car, also from Low, has one of the best melodies and riffs I’ve heard, Sound and Vision is just remarkable and on “Heroes” Joe the Lion would surely have been the child version of me’s favourite song if I’d have heard it when it came out.

As Bowie prepares to release his first album of new material in a decade, The Next Day, there will be many more from my generation to realise that this quiffed pixie lord of mainstream 1980s rock is in fact just about the coolest bloke in music. As you can see by my omissions there are plenty more examples of the cool Bowie for me discover. The soul funk of Young Americans and Station to Station, the influential alternative rock of The Man Who Sold The World and Lodger, the third in the Berlin trilogy to name but a few.

by Joe Lepper

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tiNhearT – tiNhearteD

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tiNhearT – tiNhearteD

Posted on 21 February 2013 by Joe

Bedroom recording artist Piers Blewett has taken time out from his Sussex folk act Stick In A Pot to focus on a new solo side project called  tiNhearT.

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As with Stick In A Pot’s 2011 debut album A Number More Than Nothing, this debut EP under the capital letter minefield tiNhearT  moniker has once again made use of home recording techniques. But it’s a decidedly more low key affair than A Number More Than Nothing. Gone is the twinkly folk pop band feel,  with Blewett here focusing on his vocals and guitar playing with the occasional background bleep and whistle.

At first, particularly on the EP’s strongest tracks such as the environmental ballad Sick Sick, I yearned for the twinkles and extra instrumentation of his Stick In A Pot debut. But over time the sparse feel of the EP becomes its strength. The fragility of his voice, particularly with lines like ‘so dear old planet, too bad your feeling blue, that’s just too bad for you’ on Sick, Sick, coupled with his simple guitar playing gives the EP an added intimacy and uncluttered feel.

Influences for Blewett on this project include Sparklehorse, Elliot Smith and Daniel Johnston, all experts at drawing the listener in to their at times bleak and pained worlds. However, there’s more of a sense of optimism with Blewett’s songwriting; even the cold and wet winter imagery on A Million Winters sounds somehow uplifting when sung by Blewett. And on second track Maybe the heavy strumming and back ground whistles gives this track an intense and upbeat Neutral Milk Hotel feel.

There’s also a clear sense of melody throughout, something Blewett wanted to ensure came through on the EP, and this is particularly the case on my highlight of the EP Autotune.

Overall this is solid five-track collection (six if you count the instrumental filler Wink) that successfully shows a different side to one of the UK’s most promising and genuine singer songwriters.

7/10

by Joe Lepper

 

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Duncan Batey – Blindsided

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Duncan Batey – Blindsided

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Joe

Having won the 2012 Somerset Songwriting competition in May last year, Glastonbury’s Duncan Batey was awarded time recording at the Chicken Shed Studio in Glastonbury. Clearly a perfectionist, he spent the subsequent four months ensuring he got the right instrumentation and production for his long-standing compositions.

Blindsided Front

The resulting EP, his debut, brings together four acoustic folk compositions and a remix. It’s a strong collection; mainly slow-burning though track two Breathe has a good beat and thumping chorus. Lyrically, it’s caringly crafted; Blindsided has a nice concept of love that takes you by surprise by creeping in through your blind spot. Learning Curve too has a warm feel and message.

One major collaborator is violinist Caelia Lunniss. Sometimes winding away to give the songs the spirit of Damien Rice (Blindsided, Lost In Space (Love Is The Line), sometimes punkishly stabbing through them (Learning Curve).

The closing Rob Dexter remix of Breathe offers something different again. Influenced by the sound of Radiohead’s TKOL RMX album in the way it places cut up vocals and violin over an electronic dance beat. It demonstrates the potential capacity of Batey’s work. Overall too he has a right to feel proud of the quality of this opening statement.

7/10

by Matthew Nicholson

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2013: Bands That Have Impressed Us So Far (Pt 3)

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2013: Bands That Have Impressed Us So Far (Pt 3)

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Joe

Ok, I’m heading into the final straight now. Just a few days left for me to make my final decision on the three bands I’ll be submitting  in my role as a judge in the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition, writes Joe Lepper.  For a quick recap on our involvement click here.

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So far I have featured four bands that have impressed me (see here and here). For this, my last article before I make my  final choice,  I have picked out two very different acts. Both have raised their heads above the parapet and begged me for inclusion.

Nadine Shah

Nadine Shah’s influences include Scott Walker, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey and it shows on this throbbing, atmospheric and downright frightening track she submitted called Aching Bones. The sparse piano and her croaky voice all add to the mystique of this track, which is part Portishead, part gothic horror sound track. Scary and beautiful music from this north East of England singer ,who has recently completed her debut album Love Your Dum and Mad, has really caught my attention

 

Nudy Bronque

There were two things that leapt out when I heard this track Allsorts from Wiltshire based Nudy Bronque. The first is that their lead vocalist sounds like the late great Vivian Stanshall, of Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band band fame. The second is that the track has been mixed and mastered by Colin Moulding, who given their Wiltshire location must surely be Colin Moulding from XTC,  another hero of ours. So I had a look through some of their other tracks and, yep, they are good as well. Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band meets XTC; I don’t think influences can get any better than this for our website. It’s worth checking out their more upbeat tracks as well, especially Fond Of You.

 

 

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The Wave Pictures (Cable Street Studios, London, Feb 2, 2013)

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The Wave Pictures (Cable Street Studios, London, Feb 2, 2013)

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Joe

The Wave Pictures have been playing and performing together for over a decade and it shows. Led by frontman David Tattersall, the band’s relaxed demeanour oozes skill and I can’t help but wonder why they haven’t made the big time yet.

After a slightly puzzling tussle with The Wave Pictures’ PR agency in trying to arrange getting to the gig, the band’s bassist Franic Rozycki ended up doing their job for them and sorted our guest list place himself.

The Wave Pictures

The Wave Pictures

For this latest gig they’d opted for the ramshackle Cable Street Studios in London’s trendy east end where the band introduced material from their forthcoming double album as well as playing older classics.

The former Victorian sweet factory that now is Cable Street Studios has been remoulded into a charming, gritty and romantic performance area, which reflects the style of the band.

The intimate venue allowed fans to get right up close to the boys and see them work their magic, with David Tattersall chatting to the audience between songs. Such was the ease of the front man to engage his audience and hand out witty retorts, you’d be forgiven for mistaking their gig for a comedy night at points.

However, it’s the bands musical talent that really moved the audience. Their refreshingly creative song writing offers a catchy alternative sound, their performance effortlessly moving between foot-tapping upbeat guitar-lead songs and slower hauntingly beautiful melodies that leave you wanting to weep and wonder what experiences could have led to such writing.

A few tracks on the new album, which the band is considering calling City Forgiveness seemed to feel a touch rockier than some of their previous work.

The new double album launches in the autumn and will be their eighth. I’ve no doubt it will grow their small but almost cult following (one woman I spoke to had been to 15 of their gigs) and hope it will bring to The Wave Pictures the true acclaim they deserve. Tour dates for April will soon be confirmed.

by Sarah Robertson

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All Us Authors, Nick Parker and the False Alarms (Pilton Working Men’s Club, Feb 16, 2013)

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All Us Authors, Nick Parker and the False Alarms (Pilton Working Men’s Club, Feb 16, 2013)

Posted on 18 February 2013 by Joe

All Us Authors may have a slight tongue twister of a name, still be at college and are happy for their mums to dance at their gigs, but don’t underestimate them; they are clearly an ambitious group with the swagger and talent of a band going places.

Based in the Glastonbury area, but with plans to move to London, they are already regular performers in small local venues, including the Pilton Working Men’s Club, which is the local of Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis and within cow milking and stage diving distance of the festival site.

All Us Authors

All Us Authors

What was clear from the start, as they played tracks from their forthcoming EP and their debut EP Animal, was how accomplished they are musically with Animal tracks such as Murder in Chaos particularly on the money tonight.

Arctic Monkeys appear a key influence for the band, especially when hearing lead singer Dan Nixon’s deliberately distorted vocals. But after two or three songs it became clear their influences are far more eclectic, with the likes of Joy Division and Foals being muttered among the crowd. Late 1970s Athens, Georgia, band Pylon are another that sprung to mind, with their similar  jerky combination of new wave, punk and funk.

Key to their success is Nixon, who on stage regularly swiped back his quiff as he gazed at the half full venue with a sheepish smile at times, a piercing glare at others. He’s the real deal as lead singers go, cool as you like and with so much genuine stage presence that he even looked good dancing with the mums at the front and stepping off stage to rearrange the lighting himself.

As I left the venue I noticed Nixon was at the back chatting to Michael Eavis. Discussing their set list  at this year’s festival perhaps? According to their Facebook page they are in the frame for a slot at the festival, which could prove to be the perfect springboard they need to reach a wider audience outside of Somerset.

Nick Parker and the False Alarms

Nick Parker and the False Alarms

Support was provided by Somerset based singer songwriter Nick Parker, playing tonight as Nick Parker and the False Alarms, the band he has just finished a tour of Germany with. Usually a solo performer it is rare that he plays locally with a full band and this gig gave the Somerset crowd a welcome chance to see what Germany has been treated to.

Tracks from his debut album King of False Alarms and forthcoming release are engaging enough when performed solo but really benefited from the full band sound. Dave Little’s 1939 lap steel and John Steer’s guitar work were particularly impressive as was the added stomp provided by Sam Boughen’s drumming  and Tom Granville’s  bass.

Metaphor, from King of False Alarms and about parenthood, as well as Never Been To Dublin, about hearing the music of Ireland as a boy through his older brother’s bedroom door, were among a number of highlights. Perhaps most impressive of all was their version of Hier Kommt Alex by Die Toten Hosen, sung by Parker in German.

by Joe Lepper

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Camper Van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida

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Camper Van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida

Posted on 16 February 2013 by Dorian

Since reforming for shows and recording back in 2002, after a 13 year hiatus, Camper Van Beethoven have not been prolific. After releasing a song-by-song recording of Fleetwoood Mac’s Tusk followed two years later by a proper new album, New Roman Times, they looked like becoming a live band only. Nine years later we see the product or a return to the studio with the release of La Costa Perdida, their homage to Northern California.

La Costa Perida

Where New Roman Times was a dense political concept release La Costa Perdida is a light, airy melodic affair and certainly a more accessible first listen.

‘Come Down The Coast’ is gentle and melodic and light, it is a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on either of the band’s last two pre-split albums, unmistakably Camper Van Beethoven. ‘Two High For The Love-In’ is even better, adding that layer of oddness that marks the bad out from David Lowery’s other band, Cracker. It is also one of the two songs on the album that feature the full classic line-up of the band with Chris Pedersen on the drums. He also features on the albums title track, one of those country-ska tunes that no other band could play and get away with.

‘Northern California Girls’ sits at the album’s centre, and mixes a clear nod to the Beach Boys with the kind of beautiful melancholy sound that  the band excels at, Greg Lisher’s crystal clear lead guitar and Jonathan Segal’s fiddle sounding as unique as ever.  To the initiated it is a magical sound that you appreciate all the more for the rarity of which it is put to record.

I’m a hug fan but stepping back and being objective I have to admit that there are a couple of tracks on the album that don’t quite work. ‘You Got To Roll’ is just a bit ponderous and seems to break up the mood of the album a little. ‘Peaches In The Summertime’ is another misstep, trying a little too hard to sound like the Camper Van Beethoven of old and not quite hitting the mark. Neither of these are bad songs, but they don’t fit so well on the album and have me reaching for the skip controls.

Even though David Lowery has been busy during the last nine years, both with Cracker and solo, this is unmistakably a Camper Van Beethoven record. It is a nostalgic and affectionate album, and the band clearly still love playing together after all these years. Let’s hope that it isn’t another nine years before they get back in the studio again.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

 

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