Tag Archive | "Bevis Frond"

Bevis Frond Reissues – It Just Is, Sprawl and Superseeder

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Bevis Frond Reissues – It Just Is, Sprawl and Superseeder

Posted on 17 October 2016 by John Haylock

Apologies in advance if Neonfiller looks to be turning into the fan page for all things Bevis Frond. Don’t blame us, its the fault of the band’s founder Nick Saloman for being so bloody prolific.

Already over the last year or so we’ve reviewed five reissues from Saloman and co and next up is three more, moving us into the mid 1990s.

Given the rate he released records in that decade it begs the questions: did he ever get the urge to nip out for a beer or a packet of chocolate digestives? Or was he permanently plugged in to some antiquated amps in his bedroom, forever channeling his guitar heroes on a diet of Red Bull and fried egg sandwiches?

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There’s a classic 1961 Tony Hancock film called The Rebel in which he plays a frustrated artist, living in a small apartment surrounded by his artistic creations, including a huge half finished marble sculpture. His long suffering landlady is the wonderful Irene Handl, who is forever knocking on his door or banging on the ceiling telling him to be quiet. Whenever I think of Bevis Frond’s Nick I envisage his mum in the Irene Handl role, banging on the ceiling with a broom handle shouting ‘turn that bloody row down’.

Here then are the next tranche of reissues from Fire Records, with spunking guitars to the fore, bleeding fingers, rock ‘n’ roll introspection and dour doom a go-go. There are no radical departures from previous releases, no sudden synth pop, no choral interludes. This is steady as she goes, left hand down a bit, homegrown Nutsville solos with the occasional light acoustic break amongst the all consuming rifferama.

It Just Is (1993) is a good solid rock album but a little claustrophobic. Eighteen tracks and no particularly lengthy workouts on this one, with most songs averaging four minutes.

Financial constraints necessitated Saloman plays almost all instruments and sadly at least for this listener it is bereft of a certain unhinged quality that we’ve come to expect from Bevis Frond. It lacks the variety of other releases and just batters you repeatedly with a guitar palette that lacks bright colours. Yet it does have its redeeming factors, including the fabulous slow burning blues of Idiot Dance, and an angry and sardonic rocker called Desperate.

For what is basically a one man operation It Just Is is pretty nifty in a kind of Metallica meets Billy Corgan up a dark alley kind of way, but compared to Bevis Frond’s other numerous releases it’s a bit of a let down.

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Sprawl (1994 ) does exactly what it says on the tin. A massive double Bevis Frond album of sprawling rock tunes and budget constrained invention, now fleshed out with contributions from Andy Ward on drums, Tony Aldridge on violin, Jimmy Hastings on flute and David Tibet on vocals.

Central to the album is Right On (Hippie Dream) a mammoth exercise in sonic landscaping and around which all the other tracks orbit. It is one of Saloman’s finest audio concoctions.

This sonic mantra emerges as a  slowly unfurling freakout, clocking in at over 20 minutes and featuring backward guitars, flutes, spoken interludes; everything but the kitchen sink basically. Although, I’m sure there’s probably a mix out there with the kitchen sink still on it.

There’s also Innerwheel, a lovely slice of eastern tinged exotica, with flutes and bongos and meandering keyboards in the mix. There’s also 41 Years, a mellow-yellow, wry reflection on the ageing process.

I bought My Love A Lap Dog is a cracking stop start rocker from the top drawer.

Other memorable work outs include Love You More, Boa Constrictor and the fabulously dour The Puller. With no less than eight extra tracks on cd 2 this makes Sprawl another must buy.

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Finally, there is Superseeder (1995), which is housed in a distinctive sleeve made by Nick from an assortment of seeds from his local pet store. This album is a giant in the back catalogue, supplemented by long-time colleagues Ade Shaw on bass and Andy Ward on drums, with the obligatory in store guest appearance from Bari Watts on two tracks.

It starts as it means to go on with the ten-minute plus rocker Superseded, a track with an Eastern feel and bulldozing momentum. Then there’s Dolly Bug, which rattles along in a most pleasing punkish way, Stoned Train Driver on the other hand takes the tempo down a bit with a bluesy feel and some great locomotive based wordage.

I absolutely love the domestic fear and self loathing of the lyrics on Animal Tracks – think of Lou Reed but born in Walthamstow.

I Can’t Cry features some astonishing lead guitar work from the aforementioned Mr Watts and is a tremendous slice of rock action.

Loveland and Golden Walks of London maintain the quality work, although there’s a 16-minute studio jam called House of Mountains, which is around 14 minutes too long.  But this is a minor complaint as Superseeder contains a most wistful closing song called Could You Fly Higher, featuring an achingly beautifully concise guitar coda.

Superseeder would make a good entry point for the Bevis novice. Watch out for the next reissues, which is set to include Son of Walter. If you think I’m an over zealous fawning idiot fan, just wait until you hear what I have to say about that masterpiece.

For more information about Bevis Frond click here.

By John Haylock

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Bari Watts – There Was A Time

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Bari Watts – There Was A Time

Posted on 06 September 2016 by John Haylock

Bari Watts is a superlative guitarist in his own right and the purveyor of much psychedelic heavy rock, principally with his former band, the criminally overlooked Outskirts of infinity.

On this 2015 release he reins in the Hendrix inspired excess and lovingly recreates the Marc Bolan vibe, with an album populated by elves, dragons, wizards and hurdy-gurdy men.

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If you are in any way familiar with the work of the late Bolan, with all its attendant imagery and naive poetic license you’ll know that his early work was inhabited with phantasmagorical imaginings and all things fairytale, perhaps it’s true, the drugs were better back then.

Bolan like his contemporary, David Bowie, shone like a sexually ambivalent glitterball in an austere prog-rock landscape. It was as if he was translating The Lord of the Rings into rock ‘n’ roll; with relatively simple riffs and adornments he created musical worlds of enduring beauty and originality.

Watts is obviously enamoured by Bolan’s work and has set about trying to capture those crazy, fantastical hippy-vibes. It could have been a disastrous ambition but he pulls it all off with such consumate ease it’s a bloody joy to behold.

With Woronzow labelmates, Adrian Shaw and Nick Saloman (aka The Bevis Frond) they enter Mordor armed with some hot love and with stars in their (receeding) hair.

On Crystal Pagoda and Karenza (My Lady Love) in particular he sounds so like Bolan you might be forgiven you were listening to some of his late 1960s unreleased demos. Watts has got that tremulous vocal mannerism down to a tee and with sympathtic backing vocals and eastern percussion it’s a glam rock wonder to listen to.

From the laid-back whimsy of Here Be Dragons to the happy clappy Ratskull, to the proto-punk of Demon Love this is so much more than mere copyism. It is homage of the highest order.

An absolute joy……Bang a gong, get it on!

For more information  about Bari Watts visit his Facebook page here.

By John Haylock

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The Bevis Frond – New River Head, Any Gas Faster and London Stone Reissues

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The Bevis Frond – New River Head, Any Gas Faster and London Stone Reissues

Posted on 18 July 2016 by John Haylock

Frank Zappa 31, Jimi Hendrix 25, The Fall 19, with The Bevis Frond and XTC on equal footing with 13. These are the current high scorers in my CD collection. It’s probably a bloke thing but I also clean them regularly with a damp cloth, and when I get a free cover mounted CD like on the cover of Mojo magazine I replace the old jewel case with that shiny new one…and you’ll not be surprised that i put them in alphabetical order as well.

Hailing from the suburbs of London The Bevis Frond’s long haired focal point Nick Saloman is something of a cult figure in music. He plays live rarely and seems to wish to keep a low profile, despite almost single handedly releasing over three decades worth of fascinating recorded work.

Lethal combinations of extraordinarily, wild heavy psychedelic blues and blistering full on rock dominates the back catalogue but there’s plenty of room for gentle acoustic reveries and jangly power pop. He is the languid lord of lo fi, and probably the best guitarist you’ve never heard of.

Fire Records reissue of his back catalogue continues this month with three more chronologically correct titles from Saloman’s rainbow imagination. This time we’ve landed in his late 1980s, early 1990s period.

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Any Gas Faster (1989) is his fourth full album proper, with Nick playing everything apart from the drums; Martin Crowley has that honour.  As we’ve come to expect from Salomon this contains much that is brutal, in particular Eyes In The Back Of My Head, Olde Worlde, ‘Head On A Pole, as well as much guitar riffery on tracks Lord Plentiful Reflects, Ear Song and Then You Wanted Me.

There are hordes of brilliant guitarists out there such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai who often sacrifice emotion for extraordinary technique and bombast. But for all their flashy showmanship they lack the guttural impact of someone like Saloman. This is where Nick trumps them, his best solos just ooze with feeling, be that aggressive or full of longing they more often than not hit the target.

Saloman doesn’t take himself too seriously either, which is extremely rare for a guitar hero, his work is littered with self-deprecating lyrical wit and questioning doubt. Many of these earlier albums are also peppered with original film dialogue and old music snippets, which make for a great listen.

New River Head (1990) is considered by many to be one of his finest collections. Originally a sprawling double album it is all over the place stylistically and not unlike Hendrix with amnesia.

It features additional musicians including Cyke Bancroft playing some mean sax especially on the opener White Sun, the folk violinist Barry Dransfield and Bari Watts, who was to become a long-term collaborator. Also present and correct is Adrian Shaw, ex Hawkwind and Arthur Brown bassist.

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I recently found an old interview with Saloman in which he was asked for his favourite solos. Unsurprisingly Jimi Hendrix featured more than once, and one of the tracks mentioned was one of Jimi’s wildest B sides The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice (LSD geddit ?)  It’s a complete cacophony, with Jimi doing to the guitar what Captain Beefheart did to the English language on Trout Mask Replica. Saloman’s take on that vibe on New River Head is Solar Marmalade, a ridiculously over the top guitar jam that will test your patience if not your inner ear.

On the other hand, New River Head track Stain On The Sun is a lengthy, mournful yearning, blues epic that remains one of my all time faves. The vocal phrasing is perfect as is the chorus on what is a really nice piece of work. Then we go from the sublime to the ridiculously fast on the track Undertaker, which sounds like a lost punk classic but with Arthur Lee on guitar. Meanwhile, Waving is a brief respite from the whirling rock ‘n’ roll. There are so many reference points on New River Head, it would be awful of me to spoil it for you by mentioning more.

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London Stone (1991) from a year later only confirms what we’ve come to expect, that he’s a prime exponent of six-string wonderment, influenced as much by punk as he is by 1960s freakbeat. Again this is another treasure chest of aural goodies. Opening uncharacteristically with a little jig from fiddler Barry Dransfield it then moves into more familiar, rockier terrain. Coming Around Again, Well Out Of It and the title track pop in for a pint and stay till closing time. It’s a good album but unlike the previous albums lacks a certain spark, to these ears anyway.

All of these current reissues come dressed in replica sleeves with booklets annotated by Nick himself featuring photos and reminiscences and there’s also a plethora of demos and live tracks gracing these three reissues.

by John Haylock

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Top 30 Albums of 2015

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Top 30 Albums of 2015

Posted on 18 December 2015 by Joe

It’s been such a great year for albums that we’ve upped our usual 20 strong end of year list to 30. There will be some in run down that will be on many other end of year lists, but we’ve also tried to include some of our favourites from emerging artists, who unfairly find themselves struggling to get publicity at times.

If there is a theme to our list it is that it was a good year for pop and yet again another year where the quality from both new acts and experienced artists was equally high. Here is our Top 30 Albums of 2015.

30. Papernut Cambridge – Nutlets (1967-1980)

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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 fine collection features ten covers of his favourites from around that time. Read our full review here.

29. The Bevis Frond – Example 22

The Bevis Frond

There is no more underground act than The Bevis Frond, aka Nick Saloman. For many a year he’s been releasing quality psychedelic rock across more than 20 releases, relentlessly ploughing his own guitar driven furrow much to the delight of a devoted fanbase.

Here on the band’s latest release are no radical departures from previous works, just steady as she goes, bloody good rock songs with riffs a plenty and solos to make your knees go weak. Read our full review here.

28. Matt Creer – The Leeward Tide

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As calms after the storm go this latest album by Isle of Man singer songwriter Matt Creer is just about perfect. We first heard his beautiful take on folk music via a Tweet from Chris TT. We hope this placing in our Top 20 albums of the year so far prompts others to discover his remarkable talent. Read our full review here.

 27. Small Feet – From Far Enough Away Everything Sounds Like The Ocean

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The pool of talent in the Swedish folk scene just got deeper. Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tallest Man on Earth and First Aid Kit is Stockholm based trio Small Feet. With the epic folk of the Fleet Foxes, a band who inspired First Aid Kit, coupled with the intimacy of Ireland’s Villagers, Small Feet certainly have the sound to match their countrymen and women. This is a remarkable debut. Read our full review here.

26. Darren Hayman – Florence

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A simple idea, of a short winter holiday in Florence staying at the apartment of his indiepop chums Elizabeth Morris and her husband Ola Innset, of Allo Darlin and Making Marks respectively, provides the inspiration for this melancholy collection of songs. While a rare solo project it is far from being a lonely or sad album. Friendship is a key theme and there’s a cosy warmth to its winter setting too. Read our full review here.

25. Ricked Wicky – I Sell The Circus

Ricked Wicky I Sell The Circus

Robert Pollard has basically existed as a solo artist with a rotating team of supporting players for his whole career, but he always seems most energised when he is operating in band mode. Ricked Wicky is his latest band identity and this is the best of the three albums they have released in 2015 as Pollard remains music’s most prolific recording artist.

24. El Vy – Return To The Moon

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This collaboration between The National’s Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf is a mixed bag, but a consistently entertaining one. A captivating blend of pop and melancholy that makes good use of Berninger’s trademark baritone.

23. Public Service Broadcasting -The Race For Space

Public Service Broadcasting

As much as we enjoyed PSB’s first album there were doubts about the staying power of their approach to creating music. Their second album, about the golden years of the space programme, allayed any fears and is just as much fun as the first. Sounds even better live as well.

22. The Mountain Goats – Beat The Champ

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Fronted by John Darnielle and still very much a three piece, with Peter Hughes and Jon Wurster in tow, the Mountain Goats’s latest is a concept album about the very human tales of wrestling, from their young fans to the stars of the ring themselves. Heartbreaking and joyous. Read our full review here.

21. The Wave Pictures – Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon

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Is this the best dirty rock n roll album of the year? We declared as such back in February and so far few have come close. With Billy Childish on board for production duties the trio get down and dirty and even roll out a couple of Creedence Clearwater Revival numbers. Read our full review here.

20. Tame Impala – Currents

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With this their third album Tame Impala have truly emerged from mere interesting Australian psych rock act to global pop sensation in waiting. The weird trippy psych rock of their debut album Innerspeaker and the stomp of its follow up Lonerism are still here. So too are the synths you can lose yourself in and the quirky, phasered drum rolls and guitar licks. But here they sound far more pop, far more danceable, with the bass squelchier and the band’s key figure Kevin Parker’s vocals purer, almost soulful at times. Read our full review here.

19. SLUG- Ripe

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Any album that is connected with Field Music is likely to be enthusiastically received at Neon Filler towers. The band have produced some of our favourite music over the last decade. Ripe is the twisted brain child o their touring bass player Ian Black and has both Brewis Brothers on board for the ride. Imagine Queen producing their music in 21st Century Sunderland and you get a flavour of what is on show here.

18. Calexico – Edge of the Sun

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You know what you are going to get when you play a Calexico album, the smooth sounds of Californian country rock with a consistent undercurrent of Marichi brass. Edge of the Sun offers no surprises, but is their most satisfying release in years. Iron And Wine’s Sam Beam, Neko Case and Gaby Moreno all pitch in with vocal support on an album that would sound best listened to in a desert.

17. Evans the Death – Expect Delays

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The despair for young people under coalition and now Conservative government since 2010 is embedded in every scream, guitar riff and drum beat on this incendiary latest album from the London four piece. This is what it feels like to be young and pissed off in all its magnificent angst. Read our full review here.

16. Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek

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Mammoth Penguins, the new band formed by Standard Fare’s Emma Kupa, are one of the best new acts to emerge this year. At it’s heart it’s basic indie pop of drums, crunchy guitar chords, bass and bitter sweet lyrics. But an elevation comes from Kupa’s distinct vocals, which here seem clearer and more powerful than on Standard Fare releases. Plus there seems to be a sharper focus to the songs as well, which pack a real punch. Read our full review here.

15. Ralegh Long – Hoverance

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Gare Du Nord label artist Ralegh Long takes the listener into the world of the English countryside for a beautiful, rural inspired collection of romantic and thoughtful songs. Read our full review here.

14. Wilco – Star Wars

Wilco Star WarsWhen Wilco announced an unexpected new album it was a pleasant surprise, the four years since their last being the longest break yet in their career. But is this giveaway album any good? The answer is a pretty emphatic yes. Wilco don’t do bad albums and they haven’t decided to break their 20 year run of form, even for a freebie. Read our full review here.

13. Co-pilgrim – Slows to Go

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In song writer and frontman Mike Gale, Co-pilgrim they have one of UK music’s best kept secrets, with his bittersweet lyrics merging beautifully with ’60s guitars and melodies. How his tracks are not well known is seemingly a mystery and this is yet another stellar release from the band. Read our full review here.

12. Bjork – Vulnicara

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As break up albums go Bjork’s return to form this year is up there with the best of them. Written about her emergence from a crumbling relationship this is one of the year’s most emotional albums with tracks such as Lion Song, Stonemilker and the 10 minute long centrepiece Black Lake among the best of her career. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and there may be tears when you listen but this is a deserved entry from an artist who very evidently put her heart and soul into this album.

11. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell

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His 2010 album The Age of Adz may have been his most successful to date but it never sat quite easy with us. Granted its electronica was innovative but Stevens always sounds best to us with a stripped back sound and a hanky to wipe away the tears from his sad lyrics. Here he reveals his most intimate album yet focusing on his uneasy relationship with his late mother Carrie and his adoration for his step father Lowell Brams, who he runs his label Asthmatic Kitty with. This album is magnificently sad and uplifting in equal measure, as all great Sufjan Stevens albums should be.

10. New Order – Music Complete

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New Order returning with a new album was a small surprise, it being their best album since Technique (17 years ago!) was a bigger surprise. Gillian is back on board but Peter Hook is not, compare this to Waiting For The Sirens Call and make your own decision about who is a more important member of the band

9. Destroyer – Poison Season

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Four years on from the breakout success of Kaputt we find Dan Bejar delving further into the pool of ’80s jazz pop. If anything this is a stronger, more entertaining set than the predecessor and one of the best albums lyrically you’ll hear for a long time.

8. Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

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Following a five year break between albums the Scottish indie pop legends were back with one of the best releases. With added disco chic on The Party Line they even dip their toe into politics, with The Cat with the Cream and its heart breaking take on coalition government era Britain.

7. Villagers – Darling Arithmatic

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There’s something so wonderfully precise about Villagers’ frontman Conor O’Brien’s voice. Each line is told with such clarity and on this, their third album, the messag O’Brien wants to convey is loud and clear; this is a love album and one made by a gay man from Ireland. Read our full review here.

6. Robert Pollard – Faulty Superheroes

Robert Pollard - Faulty Superheroes

Like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts I too love rock and roll. But sometimes the idea of putting another dime in the juke box baby fills me with horror. Then just when you’d almost given up hope an album comes along and renews your faith in rock and roll. This is that album. Read our full review here.

5. Southern Tenant Folk Union – The Chuck Norris Project

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The Folk and bluegrass collective took a bold step using the film titles of right wing action star Chuck Norris to take on the weighty issues of the world, from gun crime to racism. Thankfully it worked, especially on Slaughter on San Francisco, where their singer Rory Butler delivers one of the vocal performances of the year. Read our full review here.

4. King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard – Paper Mache Dream Balloon

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On Paper Mache Dream Balloon out go the distorted guitars and lengthy conceptual moments and in comes purely acoustic instruments. The result from this Australian psychedelic rock outfit  is a fantastic whimsical album, like the soundtrack to a lost kids pop show from 1969. Fans of more latter day psychedelic exponents such as Dukes of Stratosphear and more recently Papernut Cambridge will love this especially as it harks back so vividly to those innocent days of lava lamp pop. Read our full review here.

3. John Howard and the Night Mail

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John Howard’s story is one well told tale by us, of a singer-songwriter that almost made it big in the 1970s, dropped out of recording and performing for the next 20 or so years only to return around a decade ago to be greeted by a new, younger fan base. Here with a stellar band of performers and co-songwriters in tow, of Robert Rotifer, Ian Button and Andy Lewis, this is arguably one of his best releases and certainly one of the year’s best pop releases. Read our full review here.

2. FFS

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This merging of art rockers Franz Ferdinand with 1970s oddball pop duo Sparks is one of the few collaborations in music that works. The Sparks brothers of Ron and Russell Mael look to have the upper hand in directing this, at times utterly bonkers, collection of pop songs. Alex Kapranos and co seem content to follow their lead and enjoy the ride. Read our full review here.

1. The Go! Team – The Scene Between

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The whole album from start to finish is teaming with singles, with wonderful hooks, riffs and choruses shining throughout. Its perfect pop and we challenge anyone who professes to have any form of appreciation for a good pop song to dislike this album. This gained a rare 10/10 from us when released and deservedly tops our Top 25 Albums of 2015 list. Read our full review here.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers. Additional photos by Joe Lepper and Nic Newman

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The Bevis Frond – Example 22

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The Bevis Frond – Example 22

Posted on 16 September 2015 by John Haylock

There is no more underground act than The Bevis Frond, aka Nick Saloman. For many a year he’s been releasing quality psychedelic rock across more than 20 releases, relentlessly ploughing his own guitar driven furrow much to the delight of a devoted fanbase.

There are no radical departures from previous works across his career, just steady as she goes, bloody good rock songs with riffs a plenty and solos to make your knees go weak.

The Bevis Frond

The Bevis Frond’s Nick Saloman

With a band comprising ex-Hawkwind and Arthur Brown band man Adrian Shaw on bass, Dave Pearce on drums and Paul Simmons on yet more guitars Nick has surrounded himself with a rock solid foundation on which to build the current house of Frondian love and release album number 22.

Opener Are We Nearly There Yet is a mid tempo rocker that half way through confounds the listener with an unexpected lull in the proceedings as Nick takes his solo down a couple of notches and double tracks his guitar to pick out some lovely lines. Waiting for Sinatra is the polar opposite, an all too short blast of power pop with another great vocal, note the high notes!

Nick’s long time friend and collaborator Barri Watts makes the first of two appearances, firstly on I Blame The Rain, where his guitar playing is distinguished by two factors, volume and mind melting fretwork. Both are present and correct on this track which rattles along in a most headbangingly pleasing manner

Where is Egon Scheile is not only a fine name of a song, it’s also a great slow blues, whileWinter Breaks should not be played in a 30 mph zone unless you want a ticket for speeding and Pale Blue Blood builds on a repeated classic Bevis riff, the playing appearing effortless as those notes go spiralling away like a bunch of irate mosquitos who have just bitten your arse whilst on a day trip to Venice. It’s deliriously heady stuff and one of the highlights of the whole album.

Barri reappears on Second Son, in which he and Nick conjure up some really aggressively inspired lead magic. By God they must get through some strings; between them these two must be keeping Ernie Ball in business.

There are quieter moments of reflection and reverie such as on Vital Signs and Down Here but the focal points remain the big buggers, ManualLlabour and especially Well, a  heavy blues rock workout that works itself into a (surprise surprise) guitar frenzy.
So 16 tracks in total to devour, I’ll be gnawing on this one for quite a while.

The album is dedicated to Martin Crowley, long time Bevis Frond drummer who sadly passed away in 2014.

By John Haylock

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The Bevis Frond – Miasma and Inner Marshland Reissues

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The Bevis Frond – Miasma and Inner Marshland Reissues

Posted on 05 June 2015 by John Haylock

Guitars, guitars, guitars – our lives wouldn’t be the same without them, whether acoustic, electric, big, small, bass, left hand, right hand, amped up to eleven or gently strummed, we love them all. Every piece of music that you cherish probably has a guitar in there somewhere, power chords to the left of me, guitar solos to the right, here I am stuck in the middle eight with you.

Nick Saloman alias The Bevis Frond has been in a long term serious relationship (bordering on the psychotic) with a huge number of guitars, he regularly takes them into his bedroom and has been having his wicked way with them for years, he’s a one man lo- fi unsung genius who for over three decades has been quietly creating a large body of self penned work that once heard becomes an obsession.

He takes psychedelic music to the cleaners, brings it home from the cleaners, squeezes it through a cosmic mangle, dries it out, puts it on a washing line then gets out his lysergic ironing board of love and puts creases in it where creases shouldn’t be.

Cherry Red Label has now secured his fairly huge back catalogue and will be releasing it in chronological order over the coming months, complete with additional tracks and sleevenotes by Mojo magazine’s Dave Henderson.

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As a result these early albums are thankfully now available to mankind at reasonable prices as opposed to the exorbitant rip off prices asked for on Amazon etc. So what we have here are debut album Miasma and Inner Marshland both released originally in 1987. The first thing you’ll notice is the decidedly primitive (as compared to today’s) recording quality, understandable really when you consider these were literally made in his bedroom on a Tascam Porta One four track.

Never expecting anyone to be interested he released these albums as a labour of love on a wing and a prayer and was as surprised as anyone when by word of mouth alone, folks started picking up on a singer-songwriter from the wilds of Walthamstow. The titles are frivolous and playful, the guitar playing undeniably aggressive and at times over abundant but many of the songs are little crackers, you’ll find snippets of studio conversation, an appearance of Harry Corbett from an early Sooty show, poetry, a snatch of The Goons, messy feedback, controlled feedback, cheap organ accompaniment and lots of echo.

It comes together to forge a tiny self contained bedroom of sound that totally ignores the mainstream, in much the same way  as other great british underground icons such as Robyn Hitchcock Andy Partridge Nick Nicely and Syd Barrett have created their own idiosyncratic musical universes.

Miasma merely hints at the promise of future recordings, containing boisterous pop psyche tunes like She’s in Love with Time, The Newgate Wind and Wild Mind. There’s a very short but nevertheless very cool FX laden number called Wild Afternoon, but best of all is Splendid Isolation. Ever wondered what REM would have sounded like with Hendrix at the helm instead of Peter Buck? Try this.

Seven extra tracks are included, perhaps a little too much for the initiate but intriguing nonetheless.

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Inner Marshland came quickly on Miasma’s heels, it fizzes along amid much explosive soloing, Window Eye and I’ve Got Eyes in the Back in My Head are two dynamite rough and ready rock songs.

But he still retains his love of the surreal so the aforesaid Sooty puts in an appearance on Once More, there’s an incredible wig out with Nick’s good friend and equally talented guitarist Barri Watts, and Termination Station Grey emerges as a pop song but one deep fried in acid batter.

There’s six bonus tracks on this one, all super duper, best of which are a gently undulating (at least until the gripping guitar solo comes in) Walking in the Lady’s Garden. Parapsynquiry on the other hand could be a number from any one of  Lenny Kayes. Tremendous Nuggets compilations, total freakouty goodness.

If like me you are enamoured by the weird and wonderful, the strange and sublime or just love a bloody good guitar solo these remastered recordings will send you into paroxysms of delight. I urge you to vote Bevis Frond, ladies and gentlemen I recommend Nick Saloman to the house.

By John Haylock

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