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Papernut Cambridge – Outstairs Instairs

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Papernut Cambridge – Outstairs Instairs

Posted on 22 June 2018 by Joe

Feeling glum? Don’t worry, Ian Button and his Papernut Cambridge friends are about to pop round to put the kettle on, listen to your troubles and give you a lovely, warm hug.

This latest from the former Death in Vegas man’s invented 1970s pop combo is “not quite the full on death and religion Papernut album everyone’s been waiting for”, says Button, “but it’s close”.

That sums it up well. Here we find Button in reflective mood with his late father, who passed away in 2016, a strong presence.

Papernut Cambridge

Themes of grief and loss are inescapable for someone who is so recently bereaved. Sometimes its tough going, such as on second track, Crying. Here Button consoles someone in tears, through the presumably non-British Psychological Society approved technique of screaming “crying” at them, while Papernut chum Stabbs MacKenzie squeals away on his sax.

But in the main the tracks offer inspiration and hope, particularly on No Pressure, where Button passes on words of wisdom from his father. You can almost feel the clouds of gloom pass with this sunshine-pop, foot-stomper.

There’s more happiness too on the final, upbeat track New Forever.

And along the way Button’s adoration of the UK’s golden era of pop, the late 1960s and early 1970s, also serves up further moments of joy. This is particularly the case on the wonderfully psyche-titled opener Buckminster Fullerene.

Mr Shimshiner, on the album’s second half, is another high point.

Tea drunk, hug delivered and Button and his Papernut Cambridge pals depart, leaving you, hopefully, with a smile on your face.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

Papernut Cambridge – Outstairs Instairs is released by Gare Du Nord Records. More details here.

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Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

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Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

Posted on 27 May 2016 by Joe

Being just a school boy during the early 1970s Ian Button missed out on fronting his own psychedelic glam pop band on Top of the Pops.

A few decades on, undaunted by being born in the wrong decade, he’s been making up for lost time by enlisting his friends to help create his own 1970s poptastic act called Papernut Cambridge.

papernut

While their debut album was an ode to surburban life and straddled influences across a number of decades, last year’s Nutlets covers album firmly rooted the band in the 1970s through loving tributes to the tracks of Alvin Stardust and Hot Chocolate among others.

Now the former Death in Vegas man and crew, including Ralegh Long, Darren Hayman and Robert Rotifer, have gone further by creating their very own 1970s chart hits that never were. It’s hard to listen without imagining Button, black-dyed hair and dressed in leather jumpsuit, coo-coo-chooing his way through the tracks. Full of fuzzed up guitar riffs and stomping rhythms there would have been plenty to satisfy the charts back in the day, especially the album’s title song and its best pop tune Radio.

There’s a nice nod to Eno-era Roxy Music too on Mirology, and the last paisley swirls of the 1960s psychedelic pop scene are also evident, most notably on the tongue-twistingly ever-so-English St Nicholas Vicarage. Who knew there were so many words in the English language that rhyme with vicarage? This wouldn’t look out of place on an album by another of our favourite exponents of psychedelic pop – XTC’s Dukes of Stratosphear.

While the attention to detail in recreating the sounds of this golden era for British pop is a huge plus, what really marks out the work of Button’s crew is their heart. On their previous album the track Nutflake Social had a wonderful community spirit to it. Here the sense of sociability and community is still there, especially as the band are introduced on final track We Are the Nut. These timeless messages of love and friendship are hard to fault. Now all Button needs is a time machine to secure that coveted Top of the Pops appearance.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves is released by Gare Du Nord Records.

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Papernut Cambridge – Nutlets 1967-1980

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Papernut Cambridge – Nutlets 1967-1980

Posted on 08 June 2015 by Joe

So it appears Hot Chocolate used to be cool. Who knew? Well, Ian Button, who releases under the Papernut Cambridge moniker, did. The former Death in Vegas/Thrashing Doves man is something of a 1970s pop expert and this collection features ten covers of his favourites from around that time.

papernut

It’s the source material, if you will, to his 2014 album There’s No Underground, which is heavily influenced by those flares, fuzzed-up chords and sax-ridden stomps of the 1970s and was our favourite album of the year. If you heard and loved that album you will love this too.

So back to Hot Chocolate. It’s their track I Believe in Love from the early 1970s, when they were trying to find their feet in the pop world that features here. It comes at a time before they settled on their blend of bland soul pop, and were experimented in flange guitar technology (actual technology may not exist) and created this little known gem. It’s one of many standouts on this album and makes me want to immediately check out Hot Chocolate’s earlier work.

And if you think it’s a tough ask to convince someone that Hot Chocolate was once cool, Button even manages to make Lynsey De Paul sound great. Add a few squelchy synths and he brings out the dark side of her saccharine pop track Sugar Me marvellously.

Button has also popped up to see Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, registered the requisite smile and delivered an even more fuzzed up version of their What Ruthy Said.

Its back to the late 1960s for the next track, Jesamine by The Casuals and written by Marty Wilde. Here Button gives it a little bit more Dear Prudence than Jesamine and it’s another hit for this covers collection.

As one hit wonders go Edison Lighthouse had one of the best in Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes, which quite rightly was number one for five weeks in 1970. Its still instantly recognisable to this day and Button’s version oozes respect. Its my favourite on the album. What a great track, pop pickers!

Speaking of fun, there’s something so wonderfully innocent and girlish in Jacky’s theme to The White Horses TV show, another instantly recognisable track. Being sung by a man takes the listener a little by surprise, but it still works wonderfully.

As the album progresses you realise that this is more than just a listening experience. This is a history lesson of an era of pop, actually arguably the best era of British pop.

Among its icons and characters none seem more menacing now than the late Alvin Stardust, aka Bernard Jewry from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Dressed like a cartoon, villianous version of Elvis and asking girls to “groove on the mat” with him, he looks sinister now with our post Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter scandal eyes. Despite appearances though he was one of the good guys of the era. His track Jealous Mind is featured here and Button thankfully loses none of Stardust’s then innocent, now downright odd take on rock ‘n’ roll.

Rockers Delight by Mikey Dread closes this trip down memory lane and closes the decade as well, as Stock ,Aitken and Watermen began preparing themselves to destroy all that went before them. It’s a reggae gem that proves a fitting end to this enlightening and entertaining look at the golden age of British pop.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Papernut Cambridge- There’s No Underground

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Papernut Cambridge- There’s No Underground

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Joe

Former Death in Vegas man Ian Button has roused the troops and drafted in some talented foot soldiers for his second album under the Papernut Cambridge moniker.

With collaborators, such as Mary Epworth, ex-Hefner men Jack Hayter and Darren Hayman, Picturebox’s Robert Halcrow as well as Gare Du Nord label mates Robert Rotifer and Ralegh Long,  Button and friends have conspired to create one of the year’s best pop releases.

Papernut Cambridge

Papernut Cambridge

Full of pop nuggets, with a few hints of 1990s Brit pop and lashings of 1967 psychedelia, it is the most English of albums with lovely Monty Python-esque notions like the government going on strike as well as the Ray Davies borrowed imagery of commuters traveling back to their Shangri-Las, rising out of the London Underground catacombs to the beautiful, suburban sunset above.

Among many highlights is the great pop of When She Said, What She Said,  the aforementioned The Day The Government Went On Strike and the album’s Underground free title track.

Another is the lovely, 1960s infused tragi-pop of Umbrella Man. With its lovely melody it is no wonder John Howard, the 1970s singer-songwriter and collaborator of Button, covered this track earlier this year.

The 1990s Britpop comes courtesy of Nutflake Social. It’s like the moment when The Soup Dragons went ‘baggy’ in the early 1990s, except good. This track also features some fine David Bowie Low era harmonica from Nick Tidmarsh to usher in some 1976 pop into the mix.

There are a few artists like Button who excel at traveling down this nostalgia-pop route. Jim Noir and Voluntary Butler Scheme are the two most well known that spring to mind and their fans will adore Papernut Cambridge and There’s No Underground’s unpretentious take on the great English pop album.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

There’s No Underground is released by Gare Du Nord on 13 October. Click here for more details.

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Papernut Cambridge – 5D-EP

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Papernut Cambridge – 5D-EP

Posted on 04 February 2014 by Dorian

Papernut Cambridge is the work of Ian Button, a musician with a career that has taken him through a range of bands including Thrashing Doves, Death in Vegas, Go-Kart Mozart and his current role as the drummer with Neon Filler favourites Rotifer. The 5D-EP is a companion piece to their excellent debut album Cambridge Nutflake which was released last year.

The EP features remixed and electronic versions of four tracks from the album plus a cover version of ‘From Now On There Is Only Love’ from the Rotifer album The Cavalry Never Showed Up (number 2 in our albums of 2013 chart).

5D-EP

The EP isn’t an essential purchase for anyone who already has the debut album, but it is a perfect introduction to this idiosyncratic and engaging band.

The first two tracks are single versions of their album equivalents and ‘Cambridge Nutflake’ in particular is a wonderful, deceptively simple, piece of garage pop.

The two electronic versions of tracks offer an alternative take on the songs, they may follow the same structure as the originals but they end up having an entirely different mood and feel. These two tracks alone are worth the £3.99 asking price for the EP and ‘Don’t make Me Admit Stuff’ is very deserving of the frequent late night radio plays on 6 Music it has enjoyed of late.

The aforementioned Rotifer cover is a complete transformation from the original, but manages to be just as compelling. Think a slightly doom-laden version of early Devo, with Button’s vocals at their most laconic, and you have some idea of what to expect.

The deluxe version of the EP is well worth an additional £2, offering six tracks recorded live at the Vortex Jazz Club with an all-star band that included Darren Hayman, Ralegh Long and Robert Rotifer.

I said earlier that this EP wasn’t an essential purchase for anyone who has the band’s full album, and that is true. But anyone who does have that album will likely love it enough to want to get more from the band, and this EP is a fine stop-gap ahead of new material planned for later in the year.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

You can buy the album from the 17th February here.

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Papernut Cambridge – Ink Run II

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Joe

Former Death in Vegas and Thrashing Doves man Ian Button has been better known to us over the last year or so as drummer and guitar effects chap with Rotifer.

Turns out he’s also been spending his time on a solo project under the name Papernut Cambridge. His forthcoming album Cambridge Nutflake (released on November 4th) features some  great guitar sounds as you’d expect from Button all behind his whispery Gallagher-esque vocals.

Here’s an alternate version of one of the album’s tracks Ink Run. The archive inspired video is by Darren Hayman, who also plays synths on the track.

To order the album (which also comes with an EP) visit here, or to buy  the digital version visit  iTunes.

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Best Albums of 2018

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Best Albums of 2018

Posted on 17 December 2018 by Joe

It’s been a good year for debut albums in our latest Best Albums list.

Politics has also loomed large, with a number of releases, including our top placed  album, trying to make sense of the chaos of Brexit.

We have also included a special focus on acts from one of our bases – the South West of England, which continues to produce some of the UK’s most best music.

16. Nicholson Heal –Big Jupe

Bristol based Nicholson Heal impresses with his debut album, with a keen focus on melody and  featuring a wonderful brass section. Deservedly one of our  Glastonbury Festival emerging talent competition longlist entries back in 2017. Full review.

NicholsonHeal

15. Tigercats- Pig City

Tigercats are back, bigger, brassier and they’ve brought the party with them, careering round the capital on this gem of a third album, which makes great use of their new horn section and African influences. A deserved spot in our best albums of 2018 list. Full review.

Tigercats

14. The Billy Shinbone Show – The Billy Shinbone Show

Jesse Budd from Glastonbury based psychedelic popsters Flipron becomes Billy Shinbone for this eclectic solo album that blends 1960s psychedelia with country and Cajun music. Fans of Robyn Hitchcock’s recent albums will find a lot to like here. Full review.

51S4VOk5DeL._SS500

13. Superorganism – Superorganism

This global octet, with members from the UK, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, have impressed us greatly with their stunning debut, which is packed with a range of styles, big choruses and delicious hooks.

superorganism-1024x1008

12. Okkervil River – In the Rainbow Rain

In the Rainbow Rain is Okkervil River at their best, featuring great tunes in the likes of Love Somebody and Pulled Up The Ribbon as well as some of the strongest personal writing yet from their leader Will Sheff. Full review.

OkkervilRainbow

11. Guided by Voices – Space Gun

Space Gun may well be the best album that Robert Pollard has recorded under the Guided By Voices moniker since he resurrected the band back in 2012. Full review.

Space Gun

10. Papernut Cambridge – Outstairs Instairs

Former Death in Vegas man Ian Button and his crew continue to reinvent 1970s pop, this time covering themes of grief and loss as he reflects on the passing of his father, whose words of wisdom on No Pressure are among many, many highlights. Full review.

Papernut Cambridge

9. Alex Highton – Welcome to Happiness

For his third album Liverpudlian Alex Highton has turned up the synths and 1980/90s influences to great effect. This is particular notable on opener Benny Is a Heartbreaker, an Ultravox-esque thriller of a song. Full review.

Alex Highton

8. Front Person – Front Runner

Canadian singer songwriters Kathryn Calder (The New Pornographers) and Mark Hamilton (Woodpigeon) come together  produce one of the best albums of 2018. Their trademark passionate lyrics and beautiful vocal delivery combine perfectly on this debut, which features some smart use of vintage electronica. Full review.

FrontpersonFrontrunneralbumart-1530552785-640x640

7. Neko Case- Hell On

The world’s best female vocalist? We certainly think so, especially after hearing this latest highly charged release. She certainly has a lot to be emotional about this time around with this album arriving after her house burnt down and amid a battle with stalkers. Yet another career highpoint and a worthy entry in our best albums of 2018 list.

Neko Case - Hell-On

6. Jack Hayter – Abbey Wood

A derelict children’s home provides the inspiration for former Hefner man Jack Hayter’s latest, where everything falls into place. It has a strong back story, some moments of genuine drama, great music and above all sincerity. Full review.

abbey wood

5. Robert Rotifer – They Don’t Love You Back

The Austrian musician, broadcaster and Kent resident has created an epic stream of folk, psychedelic consciousness that perfectly encapsulates the senseless chaos of  Brexit. Recorded as a 77 minute track as part of a Wiaiwya Records project to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières. Full review.

Rotifer - they don't love you back

4. The Go! Team- Semicircle

Eu-bleedin’-phoric! There’s no other word combo to sum up the sheer exhilarating joy of this Go! Team latest. Full review.

The Go Team SEMICIRCLE album artwork SMALL

3. Parquet Courts Wide Awake

Parquet Courts had already done their bit for guitar rock on their first three albums. Now they expertly take their music into new directions, thanks to Danger Mouse on production duties.

parquet courts

2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

Melbourne band’s three guitars pack a punch, especially on this album’s fantastic opening featuring  An Air Conditioned Man, Talking Straight and Mainland. Full review.

Hope Downs

1. Field Music – Open Here

From its chamber pop gems to pop-tastic foot stompers, this latest from Britain’s most interesting act continues to delight.  There are serious messages too, as the band eloquently express their fears around parenthood in post-Brexit Britain. A deserved top spot in our Best albums of 2018 list. Full review.

field-music-lp

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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Best Albums 2016 – Neonfiller’s Look At The Year’s Best Releases

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Best Albums 2016 – Neonfiller’s Look At The Year’s Best Releases

Posted on 14 December 2016 by Joe

After taking some time in June to list our favourite albums so far this year, the time has come to reveal our Best Albums of 2016.

The surprise alternative pop album of the year has not budged from its number one slot, but our extended end of year list has given us the chance to add a further 10 albums to our selection.

There are a few more veteran performers here, but also plenty of new bands with some stunning debuts released this year.

It may have been a horrible anus  in terms of politics and the death of iconic legends but 2016 was still a great year for music. Sit back and enjoy our Best Albums 2016 list.

20. Picture Box – Songs of Joy

 

a4145696296_10

Robert Halcrow uses his brand ‘wonky pop’ to take you on a tour of the lesser known nooks and crannies of his home City of Canterbury, in Kent. The demise of its speedway team, its smelly former tannery and a pet fish shop are the stars of this thoroughly eccentric look at small town England. Read the full review here.

19. American Wrestlers – Goodbye Terrible Youth

 

wrestlers-2016-pressphoto-evan-cuttler-wattles-650

The brain child of Gary McClure, once of Manchester band Working for A Nuclear Free City and now living in St Louis, this new act’s debut album earns a deserved spot on our list for its personal subject matter and catchy hooks all blended perfectly together with lashings of distorted guitar. Read the full review here.

18. Robert Rotifer – Not Your Door

 

robert-rotifer-not-your-door

Not Your Door is a deeply personal album for Robert Rotifer, taking in his present life living in Canterbury, Kent, as well as his past, growing up in Vienna. But with its themes of family and the very notion of home it aims to resonate with many. Its post Brexit release also offers a thoughtful alternative view on EU relations. Read the full review here.

17. Rapid Results College – In City Light

 

cover

Rapid Results College is such a great name for a band, cemented in modern urban life with tongue firmly in cheek about its pressures, pace and pitfalls. Their debut album left us enthralled, taking in influences such as XTC and their keen focus on melody, all channeled through some of the cleanest production you will hear all year. Read the full review here.

16. Southern Tenant Folk Union – Join Forces

 

joinforces500

After the ambitious Chuck Norris Project of last year, in which the Edinburgh folk collective used film titles by the rightwing actor to protest against his politics, their latest album goes back to basics. This has a more traditional sound, focusing on their bluegrass and Celtic influences, but still with plenty of politics and above all heart. Read the full review here.

15. Robert Pollard – Of Course You Are

 

Robert-Pollard-Of-Course-You-Are

Incredibly, this is now the 22nd solo album from the hardest working man in music and proves another high point in an illustrious career. Read the full review here.

14. Bob Mould – Patch the Sky

 

mould-500x500

Third album from the former Sugar and Husker Du man’s most settled line up for years. The key to its success is its ability to tackle the tough issues of life in the most fun way possible, as Mould’s rage and melody once again combine perfectly.  Read the full review here.

13. Woodpigeon – TROUBLE

 

woodpigeon

Heartbreak, loss and a globe trotting meander prove the powerful inspiration for Mark Andrew Hamilton’s latest album. Beautiful and inspiring. Read the full review here.

12. John Howard – Across the Door Sill

 

acrossthedoorsill500

This may just be the best album to date by John Howard, the 1970s singer songwriter who is enjoying a renaissance in recent years as an independent artist. His time capsule preserved vocals are in abundance here thanks to some sumptuous layering to create an entire choir of Howards backed simply by piano. Beautiful. Read the full review here.

11. Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

 

 

martha

Many bands have trod the well worn path of capturing the pains of being young within three minute, fast paced pop songs, complete with guitar solos and rousing sing-a-long choruses. But no one does this quite like Martha. This collection from the north east of England act is another deserved entry to our end of year round up. Read the full review here.

10. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

 

51655-nonagon-infinity

Like an extended rock jam, taking in science fiction, monsters and, naturally, some awesome guitar riffs this is another stellar release from the Australian psych rockers, with a little help from some robots and a gigantic wasp. Read the full review here.

9. Dressy Bessy – King Sized

 

Dressy Bessy Kingsized

Fabulous return from a six-year break for the US act. This works particularly well by merging their beefier pre- hiatus sound with the pop nous that made their early work so infectious. Read the full review here.

8. The Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner in the Rain

 

wave-pictures

Underneath what may very well be 2016’s crappiest album cover lies this year’s best blues LP, as The Wave Pictures take their fascination with American blues to new levels. Read our full review here.

7. Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

 

papernut

Former Death in Vegas man Ian Button and crew have created their very own 1970s pop band. Full of fuzzed up guitar riffs and stomping rhythms there would have been plenty to satisfy the charts back in the day, especially the album’s title song, and its best pop tune, Radio. Read the full review here.

6. Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages – Vol 1

 

ThankfulWeb

One of Hayman’s best pieces of work and possibly his most important, preserving the oral history of the relatives of those who survived the horrors of the Great War as well as paying tribute to the village life these soldiers left and thankfully returned to. Read the full review here.

5. Emma Pollock – In Search of Harperfield

 

pollock

Childhood memories and the toils of adulthood mix wonderfully on the former Delgados singer’s latest album. With the track Parks and Recreation she has also created one of the best songs of recent years. Read the full review here.

4. Arborist – Home Burial

 

home_burial

Imagine a colliery band on tour of the Appalachians and I guess you are somewhere near this sound conjured up in this stunning debut from the Northern Ireland based act, that also features The Breeders Kim Deal on vocals. It’s Americana, but not like you’ve heard it before. Read the full review here.

3. Free Swim – Life Time of Treats

 

Free Swim

Free Swim’s Paul Coltofeanu is a silly chap, that’s why we like him. We’ve already been enthralled by his collection of quirky EPs but here, on the act’s debut album, he joins forces with chum David Turn to  take the charm up a few notches. Ray Mears, air drumming, Neville Southall’s moustache and angry internet sensation Gordon Hill are among the cast of stars that Paul and David encounter. There’s some fine music here too, which shows they are no mere novelty act. Read the full review here.

2. Evans the Death – Vanilla

 

evans

On album number three London act Evans the Death have upped, shredded, beaten up and garrotted the ante. It’s full of rage, the guitars are heavier than before, the vocals fiercer and the ambition turned to stadium sized proportions, with a brass section and even a funky bass added to the mix. Incendiary album from what very well be Britain’s best rock band. Read the full review here.

1. The Monkees – Good Times

 

The Monkees - Good Times

The comeback to beat all comebacks. Originally planned as merely something to sell on their 50th anniversary tour this album has ended up grabbing the headlines in its own right. With Fountains of Wayne man Adam Schlesinger at the helm, a stack of lost demos to dust off and new tracks from talented Monkees fans such as Andy Partridge and Ben Gibbard, Good Times both pays tribute to their place in 1960s pop history and creates a great, modern day indie and alternative pop album in its own right. A well deserved number one slot. Read our full review here.

Top Ten Albums of 2016 So far was compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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Top Ten Albums of 2016 So far…

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Top Ten Albums of 2016 So far…

Posted on 20 June 2016 by Joe

With 2016 at the half way mark we thought we’d present our list of the ten albums that have impressed us the most so far. All within our broad focus on indie and alternative music, we’ve some old stagers, new bands and plenty of rage. We’ve also got an act at number one who probably never would have thought they’d be acclaimed as the best indie act of the year in 2016 back. In addition to the ten below we also wanted to mention new albums by Shearwater, Pete Astor, The Wave Pictures, Steven James Adams, Picture Box and Rapid Results College, which are all in contention for a place in our end of year extended best albums list.

10. Robert Pollard – Of Course You Are

Robert-Pollard-Of-Course-You-Are

Incredibly, this is now the 22nd solo album from the hardest working man in music and proves another high point in an illustrious career. Read the full review here.

9. Bob Mould – Patch the Sky

mould-500x500

Third album from the former Sugar and Husker Du man’s most settled line up for years. The key to its success is its ability to tackle the tough issues of life in the most fun way possible, as Mould’s rage and melody once again combine perfectly.  Read the full review here.

8. Dressy Bessy – King Sized

Dressy Bessy Kingsized

Fabulous return from a six-year break for the US act. This works particularly well by merging their beefier pre- hiatus sound with the pop nous that made their early work so infectious. Read the full review here.

7. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

51655-nonagon-infinity

Like an extended rock jam, taking in science fiction, monsters and, naturally, some awesome guitar riffs this is another stellar release from the Australian psych rockers, with a little help from some robots and a gigantic wasp. Read the full review here.

6. Woodpigeon – TROUBLE

woodpigeon

Heartbreak, loss and a globe trotting meander prove the powerful inspiration for Mark Andrew Hamilton’s latest album. Beautiful and inspiring. Read the full review here.

5. Evans the Death – Vanilla

evans

On album number three London act Evans the Death have upped, shredded, beaten up and garrotted the ante. It’s full of rage, the guitars are heavier than before, the vocals fiercer and the ambition turned to stadium sized proportions, with a brass section and even a funky bass added to the mix. Incendiary album from what very well be Britain’s best rock band. Read the full review here.

4. Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

papernut

Former Death in Vegas man Ian Button and crew have created their very own 1970s pop band. Full of fuzzed up guitar riffs and stomping rhythms there would have been plenty to satisfy the charts back in the day, especially the album’s title song, and its best pop tune, Radio. Read the full review here.

3. Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages – Vol 1

ThankfulWeb

One of Hayman’s best pieces of work and possibly his most important, preserving the oral history of the relatives of those who survived the horrors of the Great War as well as paying tribute to the village life these soldiers left and thankfully returned to. Read the full review here.

2. Emma Pollock – In Search of Harperfield

pollock

Childhood memories and the toils of adulthood mix wonderfully on the former Delgados singer’s latest album. With the track Parks and Recreation she has also created one of the best songs of recent years. Read the full review here.

1. The Monkees – Good Times

The Monkees - Good Times

The comeback to beat all comebacks. Originally planned as merely something to sell on their 50th anniversary tour this album has ended up grabbing the headlines in its own right. With Fountains of Wayne man Adam Schlesinger at the helm, a stack of lost demos to dust off and new tracks from talented Monkees fans such as Andy Partridge and Ben Gibbard, Good Times both pays tribute to their place in 1960s pop history and creates a great, modern day indie and alternative pop album in its own right. A well deserved number one slot. Read our full review here.

Top Ten Albums of 2016 So far was compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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John Howard – Not Forgotten, The Best of John Howard Vol 2.

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John Howard – Not Forgotten, The Best of John Howard Vol 2.

Posted on 18 January 2016 by Joe

John Howard’s renaissance continued in fine form last year with the release of John Howard and the Night Mail, a collection of timeless pop written and performed with Andy Lewis (Paul Weller Band), Robert Rotifer (Rotifer) and Ian Button (Papernut Cambridge).

It ended the year gracing many a best of list, including our own, and even charted, albeit in the Austrian independent releases run-down.

As a result Howard’s music has come to the attention of a wider audience and may well be the reason you are reading this now.

John Howard and the Night Mail

John Howard and the Night Mail

Never one to miss an opportunity Howard has decided to release a second volume of his best of series to show his new admirers what else he’s been up to in recent years.

So for those who are new to Howard’s music let’s take a few lines to recap his tale.

It’s a familiar story, glam pop boy and his piano meets record company, in his case CBS in the 1970s. Boy then gets dumped by record company, ends up quitting recording and working for the music industry in A&R for a couple of decades. Much older boy then meets internet generation, decides to record again and the pair live happily ever after.

Since the release of his comeback album, the appropriately titled As I Was Saying in 2005, he has released around a dozen more, as well as a handful of EPs covering lesser known artists he admires such as Alex Highton.

On his first best of compilation These Fifty Years, released in 2009, the focus was on his 70s heyday and comeback releases up to that point. Here the focus is exclusively on his comeback, with the internet generation helping with the track list as Howard keeps a close eye on downloads, streams and Youtube interest to guide him.

John Howard - As I Was Saying

John Howard – As I Was Saying

Among our picks on this compilation are the As I Was Saying tracks the Dilemma of the Homosapien, with its killer chorus, and Taking it All to Heart, that perfectly sums up the emotions of a rejected artist. There’s also a heavy focus on glam pop, with upbeat songs such as Making Love To My Girl, from Same Bed, Different Dreams (2006) and Believe Me, Richard, From Storeys (2013) among highlights.

Maybe I Know Why and Born Too Early are among the best of the ‘slowies’ here. Both are from Hello, My Name Is, a largely autobiographical collection looking back to his time in London in the 1970s and society’s changing attitudes to sexuality

But as with any compilation this is as much about what isn’t on it as what is.

What awaits those who want to delve further into his releases are further gems on As I was Saying such as the Magic of Mystery. Bob/Bobbi, from Hello My Name Is, which gives genuine heart and substance to a drag queen he once met while on holiday, is another to seek out.

Also missing here are tracks from 2012’s You Shall Go the Ball!, featuring reworkings of his 70s demos that failed to see the light of day. It is here that an extra layer to the Howard story unfolds with his carefully crafted soundscapes interspersed with tracks such as the magnificent The Deal, where his adoration of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s solo work is clear.

And there’s some great covers too to discover, particularly his version of Alex Highton’s Songs for Someone and Darren Hayman’s Elizabeth Duke, on his Songs for Someone EP.

John Howard interpreta “The Bewlay Brothers”, de David Bowie from Oscar Garcia Suarez on Vimeo.

Looking back on his comeback output Howard’s initial failure to be a star in the 1970s may just have been the best thing to happen to him. The break from performing for a couple of decades has beautifully preserved his voice. Just watch him performing his cover of Bowie’s Bewlay Brothers in Barcelona in January this year (see above) to see what we mean.

It has also meant he is fiercely independent, embracing home recording technology and the promotional possibilities of social media to great effect to take direct control of how his music sounds and is released.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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