Tag Archive | "Fortuna Pop"

Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

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Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

Posted on 29 June 2016 by Joe

At the 2013 Indietracks Festival Martha were the must see band, winning both the most band t-shirts worn contest as well as best stage invasion prize. The four-piece from the wonderfully titled village of Pity Me, near Durham, are not exactly rewriting rock, on either their first album Courting Strong or this their latest release. There have been many, many bands that have already trod this well worn path of presenting shouty, romantic and embattled vocals wrapped up in a three minute, fast paced pop song, complete with guitar solos and rousing sing-a-long choruses.

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But, and this is important, it doesn’t matter that they lack innovation.  Martha have a spirit, which many of their contemporaries lack. When they sing about the “toxic culture” of a Catholic education on the track St Paul’s (Westerberg Comprehensive) and its effect on anyone who dares to be different, or heaven forbid gay, they really mean it.

When they sing about romance discovered in the washing powder aisle of a supermarket, as on one of the album’s best tracks Precarious (The Supermarket Song), you can really feel the heartstrings pull.

Its no wonder they appeared at Glastonbury’s Leftfield stage last year at the personal request of Billy Bragg. At Bragg’s Glastonbury set this year, before launching into Greeting From the New Brunette he told budding protest song writers in the audience to make sure they also write about romance. Martha have clearly listened and Bragg even gets a reference on the Coronation Street themed Curly and Raquel, about the TV soap’s odd and ultimately doomed couple.

This album is also a lot of fun, especially on Goldman’s Detective Agency, where Victorian anarchist Emma Goldman is re-imagined as a corruption-tackling private eye, backed by some fine Thin Lizzy style guitar playing.

It’s hard to fault this album across its 11 excellent, upbeat tracks, which made me think, smile, dance as well as want to immediately go and see them live and join them for a stage invading sing-a-long. Who needs originality when you have this much heart?

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart  is released by Fortuna Pop on July 8.

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Steven James Adams – Old Magick

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Steven James Adams – Old Magick

Posted on 01 March 2016 by Joe

Late last year Darren Hayman posted on Facebook that Fortuna POP!’s white middle aged men roster, which he is proudly part of, was in fine form, with imminent releases from Pete Astor, formerly of 1980s band The Weather Prophets, and Steven Adams, ex-The Broken Family Band.

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On reading this it was the first time I’d even considered that Adams actually middle aged given the youthful twinkle in his eyes. Even his cynicism, displayed lyrically and with his sardonic wit on stage, is often that of a cheeky teen rather than a depressed old man.

Here, on what is perhaps his first ‘middle-aged’ release, he casts his eye over his and his fans’ advancing years but still with a youthful twinkle. For example on Togetherness, about the appalling way too many British people treat those from other countries, the delivery is far from preachy or serious, instead its cheekily accompanied with one of the album’s most upbeat melodies.

And on Ideas, another standout track, the self-deprecating tone of a middle aged man desperately trying to save a relationship with ideas that have not yet formed could easily apply to a teen. Perhaps it could also be about the performer Adams, urging his audience to stay with him as well.

This tongue in cheek look at aging is perhaps best shown on The Back of the Bus as the young care free teens shouting from the back of a bus are transported into middle-age where “now, it’s just massage music”.

Musically, this is a more low key sound than his full band Singing Adams indie pop project of recent years but more slickly produced than his last solo outing, 2013’s House Music, which was recorded in his living room. With studio production from Dan Michaelson this feels very much like a solo album that allows the lyrics to shine and is perhaps his best release since his Broken Family Band days.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

To buy Steven James Adams – Old Magick click here.

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Best of 2015 Albums – The Ones That Got Away

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Best of 2015 Albums – The Ones That Got Away

Posted on 26 January 2016 by Joe

Like many music blogs the work we do reviewing albums and writing features is a labour of love, rather than a source of income. Sometimes though this means planned reviews of albums don’t get written up as life gets in the way. This happened towards the tail end of last year, a busy time with family matters and the day job.

With a bit of time in January we thought, better late than never, we’ll get some brief reviews up of our quartet of Best of 2015 Albums that escaped us at the time

The Everlasting Yeah – Anima Rising

 

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Formed from the UK based members of That Petrol Emotion, this debut is a true hidden gem. On a first casual listen some of the tracks, like opener A Little Bit of Uh-huh and All Around the World its full of some standard Rolling Stones or Primal Scream rock riffs. But then the layers of guitar music begin to shine through and a far more sophisticated beast than the tired, old rock of Gillespie and co becomes apparent. This is perhaps best heard on Take That Damn Train Again, which is elevated way beyond standard rock fare with the addition of Gallon Drunk’s Terry Edwards and his marvellously insane saxophone playing.

The ‘slowie’ Everything is Beautiful is among our highlights and the sort of track we’d like to hear more from on future releases. There’s some lovely guitar work here and this track has the best melody on the album and reminded us a little of XTC’s later work – high praise indeed.

Design – Black Marker Red Marker

 

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Time for one of our local bands, hailing from Somerset this trio are formed by former Chesterfields band member Simon Barber and features Helen Stickland on guitar and Rob Parry on drums. It sounds nothing like the twee pop of the Chesterfield though and instead more akin to another great West Country band of old – 1980s punk act Thatcher on Acid, particularly on the driving bass on opener You Only Had to Ask.

There’s some good tunes on here, as well as zeitgeist lyrics tackling weighty issues of the day such as consumerism and the Middle East. If You Like That is among the best  on the album, as is the more rock orientated Kill Someone.

Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight

 

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Slapped wrists indeed for us in missing this excellent album from folk, pop, psychedelia, you name it, act from Nashville. There’s some downright lovely guitar arrangements here as you’d expect from a band from Nashville, and in lead vocalist Joe Scala they have a great frontman, whose relaxed vocal delivery seems effortless but takes a lot of work for far less talented singers to get right.

Those who saw Alabama Shakes in the US recently may have caught them live. You were lucky on the evidence of thisalbum . Check out the final, frantic minute of Push and Pull (All the Time) to hear why we were so impressed with this release.

Chorus Girl – Chorus Girl

 

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This debut album from this London-based guitar pop quartet is full of great indie anthems, part Breeders, part the quality, modern indie-pop we’ve come to expect from their label Fortuna Pop. The beating heart of these songs is their chief songwriter Silvi Wersing, whose vocals brings a certain,  at times goth, edge to the music. Key tracks include Sweetness and Slight and opener Oh To Be A Defector.

Reviews by Joe Lepper

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Pete Astor – Spilt Milk

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Pete Astor – Spilt Milk

Posted on 06 January 2016 by Joe

It says something about the quality of Pete Astor and his 1980s band The Weather Prophets that their track Worm in my Brain emerged as one of the best on the recent 76 track commemorative box -set reissue of the NME’s C86 tape. Up against the likes of Primal Scream and The Wedding Present this track with its wonderful guitar arrangement and Astor’s honest vocals stands up remarkably well 30 years on.

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Once of Creation band The Loft and still managed by Creation boss Alan McGee while in The Weather Prophets, Astor went solo in 1990. But a familiar story in music unfolded – critical success greeted Astor, while success continued to elude him.

He took a break for a few years, some more solo projects eventually followed, Astor briefly reformed The Loft and healso took on a new career, as a university lecturer on the music industry.

Now signed to Fortuna Pop he starts 2016 with this his eighth solo album. On this evidence Fortuna Pop, where he joins a recent roster of young up and coming bands as well as veteran indie troopers such as Darren Hayman, is a good fit.

The guitar and vocal delivery from Worm in my Brain is still there thankfully on this release, which has an unshowy production that allows the songs and lyrics to shine. The sparse use of a talented backing band, that includes former Hefner man Jack Hayter on pedal steel, helps as well. This means that when they do appear it has more impact.

As a disciple of the “sing what you know about” school of songwriting, so advocated by XTC’s Andy Partridge among others, Astor’s lyrics are unmistakably that of a middle aged man, full of wistful nods to the past and a wry look at the present and future. As he puts it in accompanying press release, time passes, shit happens; some losses, some gains. Don’t cry – but I did.” This is a good way to sum up this album’s feel.

My Right Hand about friendship and the country sounding Good Enough are among the best but for me Sleeping Tiger emerges as the stand out track. It’s got the melody, the full band feel and a great guitar hook driving it throughout. Very Good Lock is another good introspective piece that offers hope to the downtrodden.

As an advert to a new audience this album will hopefully do its job, with Darren Hayman’s recent solo work and the meloncholic melodies of Co-Pilgrim good points of reference for the uninitiated.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Top 20 Albums of 2015…so far

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Top 20 Albums of 2015…so far

Posted on 03 July 2015 by Joe

At the year’s half way point we take a look back on some of our favourite albums of the year so far. There’s been a distinct up turn in pop amongst our largely indie and alternative releases, with Franz Ferdnand and Spark’s collaboration and the return of Go! Team and They Might Be Giants amongst the standouts. We also feature an homage to arguably the UK’s golden era of pop, a concept album about wrestling, some prog rock, some teen angst, a bit of adult angst and another regular placing for Robert Pollard, who retains his tag as rock’s most productive artist. Watch out for our end of year list in December.

20. 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.

19. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color

 

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Our contributor Sarah Robertson’s favourite album of the year launches itself into our top 20 thanks to its “timeless, soulful” sound and a range of songs “that could provide the backdrop to a cult road trip film.” Read our full review here.

18. 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.

17. The Bevis Frond – Miasma and Inner Marshland Reissues

 

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Welcome reissue for the cult 1980s prog rock act’s first two albums. The band’s driving force Nick Salomon is still very much guitar noodling and plays for the second time in two years at Glastonbury this year. Read our full review here to find out why his band is so adored by guitar luminaries such as Jay Mascis.

16. 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.

15. They Might Be Giants – Glean

 

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The iconic pop duo have revisited and updated their 1980s dial-a-song idea to release a song a week throughout 2015. Glean rounds up the best of those released so far and reveals they have lost none of their pop credentials. Read our full review here.

14. 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.

13. 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.

12. 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.

11. The Tigercats – Mysteries

 

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Now signed to Fortuna Pop and with Allo Darlin’s Paul Rains in their ranks the London band have managed to nail the potentially tricky second album after the critical success of their debut Isle of Dogs. It sounds great and as ever the songwriting and lyrics are superb. Read our full review here.

10. 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.

9. 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.

8. 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.

7. 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.

6. 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.

5. 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.

4. 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.

3. 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.

2. FFS – 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. Read our full review here.

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Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek

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Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek

Posted on 02 July 2015 by Joe

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 is a sharper focus to the songs as well. They just seem to pack more of a punch than most other guitar based indie pop we’ve heard this year.

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Take Cries At The Movies for example, the listener gets the feeling that Kupa has lived through this, thanks to her strong vocal delivery. On Strength In My Legs there is genuine power conveyed in the trio’s music.

The opening of Work It Out is also a big, wonderful statement of intent as is the album’s closer When I Was Your Age.

Granted the production is unadventurous. It sounds like it was recorded live, but it’s clear and powerful and sometimes this less is more approach is the best option. The songs are good too for an act that have emerged as the finished article and on this evidence are perhaps only one more album away from rivaling Standard Fare in indie pop fans affections.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Evans the Death – Expect Delays

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Evans the Death – Expect Delays

Posted on 05 March 2015 by Joe

The term “Cameron’s Britain”, with all its echoes of “Thatcher’s Britain” is not used nearly enough to describe the inequality and greed that has been seeping out of government since 2010. Step forward Evans the Death to put that right, with the term proudly used on their press release for their latest album Expect Delays.

Its used  here to describe the band’s last three years “eking out an existence on the poverty line” through a succession of minimum wage jobs and benefits interviews. Its a grim existence that thousands of young people can sadly associate with.

As if tackling poverty line Britain wasn’t enough for this London four piece there has been further upheaval over the last few years. Chief among those was the departure of Alanna McArdle to Joanna Gruesome. Now with a slightly rejigged line up, that includes new recruit James Burkitt on drums, they are back to make 2015 hopefully a far better year both musically and politically.

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Sometimes adversity can bring out the best in musicians and that’s certainly the case here with the backdrop of upheaval and despair creating a powerful album, full of frustration and anger. Lead singer Katherine Whitaker’s folk punk vocals are on particular top form, whether on one of the album’s low key acoustic moments, such as on Intrinsic Grey, or epic punk numbers like Enabler, she sounds like she means every word and is living every emotion. Enabler in particular is a fearsomely good track, with more than a nod to Swervedriver as it motors across its three minutes.

There are echoes of the similar C86 path that their contemporaries continue to tread, but there’s a raw power to the production here that gives it a far more attacking feel. Even the jangly guitars and Blondie-esque feel of Sledgehammer sound angry and menacing.

It’s this edge that will possibly prevent Evans the Death from garnering too much radio airplay. I hope I’m wrong there because as well as attitude this has some great tunes. Sledgehammer and Enabler have a timeless classic indie single feel to them, emerging here as modern alternative pop anthems for ‘Cameron’s Britain.’

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Tigercats – Mysteries

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Tigercats – Mysteries

Posted on 27 January 2015 by Joe

With Isle of Dogs, Tigercats arguably produced the perfect debut album. In garnering a rare 10/10 from us it seemed to perfectly encapsulate 20-something urban life as each song meandered across the records shops, bars and venues of their native East London. Now signed to Fortuna Pop and with Allo Darlin’s Paul Rains in their ranks they have also managed to nail the potentially tricky second album too.

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Second albums can be a minefield. So many bands just try and repeat their debut hoping the sound will still be fresh, while others try too hard to change, veering off into experimental and unsuitable areas. Here Tigercats have met that challenge by ensuring their sound has moved onto the next level, while at the same time sticking true to their original ethos. It sounds simple enough, but so few bands manage it.

So how has the sound changed? Firstly, it is more polished, thanks to the band able to rack up a considerable amount of hours at Soup Studios, where bassist Giles Barrett works.

Secondly, there is real ambition here sonically. Not content, as so many indie pop bands are ,with a simple sound they’ve drafted in Gallon Drunk’s Terry Edwards to supply saxophone and horns across the album. This perfectly completes their core drums, bass, guitar, keyboards sound and sets them further apart from the pack. Rains too really adds some polish to the guitars, as he does so well in his day job with Allo Darlin’.

The third and perhaps most welcome change is the elevation of keyboardist Laura Kovic’s role. While on Isle of Dogs her vocal duties were largely confined to final track Johnny, here she is everywhere. She not only duets perfectly with lead singer and songwriter Duncan Barrett across the album but has lead vocals on two tracks, Laura & Cesar and Sleeping in the Backseat. It’s a smart move by the band, really adding depth to the songs with her softer vocals perfectly matching Barrett’s. At times with the horns and Kovic’s vocals there is even a Prefab Sprout quality to their tracks, which here seem more romantic, albeit in a sardonic way thanks to Barratt’s clever lyrics. Junior Champion for example manages the zenith for indie-geeks everywhere, of being simultaneously a love song and ode to chess.

In our review of Isle of Dogs we said Tigercats were an indie pop band you can dance to. For Mysteries they emerge as an indie pop band you can actually first dance to at a wedding – and there are not many of those bands around. With this amount of progress they have set the bar high indeed for album number three.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Top 20 Alternative/Independent Albums of 2014

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Top 20 Alternative/Independent Albums of 2014

Posted on 16 December 2014 by Joe

Welcome to our annual celebration of the year’s best independent and alternative albums. Many of our releases are  by artists you may not have heard of. If that’s the case we urge you to read our full reviews, visit their websites and Youtube channels and go and see them live and buy their albums if you like them. There is some great talent out there on independent labels and we are proud to do our bit to help bring them to a wider audience. So sit back, pull up a gig guide, get Youtube on standby and enjoy our favourite independent and alternative releases of the year.

20. Junkboy – Sovereign Sky

Come take a barefoot run across the Sussex Downs, sandals in hand, kaftan lapping in the wind as we head with Junkboy down to the coast. These are the images that this hidden 2014 gem from brothers Rich and Mik Hanscomb conveys with its echoes of flower-power California and good old fashioned British folk and pop. Read our full review here.

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19. Steven Malkmus and the Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags

One of the most accessible and satisfying releases from the former Pavement man and his band, who has learnt to curtail his fret meandering leanings in recent years. One of the year’s most solid indie rock releases. Read our full review here.

Wig Out at Jagbags

 

 18. Co Pilgrim – Plumes

Nestled in Winchester is Mike Gale, one of the UK’s brightest song writing talents.  This third album with his band Co-pilgrim is full of beautiful alt-country, Beach Boys harmonies and Pernice Brothers and Teenage Fanclub indie alternative melodies and is a gem. We think its about time you started to discovering Gale’s wonderful music. Read our full review here.

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17. Avi Buffalo – At Best Cuckold

Four years on and California’s Avi Buffalo have finally released an album to match their breakout single What’s It In For. Full of 1960s pop references and sunny West Coast melodies Avi Buffalo, now of Sub Pop, have arrived as a major creative force in independent music. Read our full review here.

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16. John Howard – Live at the Servant Jazz Quarters

You can’t get more independent than John Howard, the singer songwriter who’s first career in the 1970s with CBS stalled before it began. Now from his home studio in Spain he writes, records, arranges, distributes and promotes each release with fierce independence. Here is a fantastic introduction to his work past and present that re-energised our appreciation of the live album.  Read our full review here.

John Howard at the Servant Jazz Quarters, London, 2013.

John Howard at the Servant Jazz Quarters, London, 2013.

 

15. Owen Pallett – In Conflict

Following a tour with The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle, who specialises in autobiographical lyricism and story telling, Pallett has taken a more personal approach with this album. Gone is the fantasy imagery to be replaced with his most personal release to date. As you’d expect from a multi-instrumentalist who is equally at home conducting an orchestra or behind a synth the music is beautiful.  Read our full review here.

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14. New Mendicants – Into the Lime

The New Mendicants are a harmony-pop supergroup of sorts formed in Toronto by Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub/Jonny), Joe Pernice (Scud Mountain Boys/Pernice Brothers) and drummer Mike Belitsky (The Sadies). It will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of any of their bands to hear that Into the Lime is a string of melodic pop gems with beautifully sung vocal harmonies. Read our full review here.

The New Mendicants - Into the Lime

 

13. Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin

With Jason Narducy on bass and Superchunk and Mountain Goats man Jon Wurster on drums Bob Mould arguably is now in his best ever band. This is the second solo Mould album recorded with the pair and shows a veteran performer re-energised and at the top of his game. If you liked Sugar you will love what Mould is doing right now on this album and last year’s Silver Age.

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12. St Vincent – St Vincent

Art rock stalwart St Vincent, aka Manhattan’s Annie Clark, recently revealed that she tries to live ‘at the intersection of accessible and lunatic’. If her latest, eponymously titled, album is anything to go by, this is something she achieves with great success. Read our full review here.

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11. Hospitality – Trouble

This second album is as stunning as their self titled debut and shows a band progressing well, with guitars and synths powering them through an album full of influences from the 1970s world of progressive rock. As with their debut they have some darn fine tunes too. Read our full review here.

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10. Guided By Voices- Motivational Jumpsuit

Each year we lose count of how many albums Robert Pollard puts out, either solo or with his legendary band Guided By Voices. For sake of argument let’s say its about 20 albums a year. This was the pick of his 2014’s releases and sadly one of the last releases by GBV, who’s brief reunion ended this year. Read our full review here.

Motivational Jumpsuit

 

9. Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita

Despite having 20 years experience under their belts this 13th album from the San Francisco punk act manages to give the impression it is a debut by a group of youngsters. Its bold, enthusiastic and packed with a gigantic palette of genres like a band starting out and finding their feet in the world. Read our full review here.

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8. New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

Hailed as a return to form by many reviewers, we say that the Canadian power-pop supergroup never lost their form. It’s another superb release from Carl Newman, Niko Case and co as they continue to pack a punch. Read our full review here.

Brill Bruisers

 

7. Withered Hand – New Gods

If you have yet to discover the songwriting talents of Scotland’s Dan Willson you’ve been missing out. But there’s still time, just buy this fantastic latest release from the singer songwriter, go see his shows and then discover his back catalogue. One of many jewels on indie label Fortuna Pop’s roster. Read our full review here.

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6. The Phantom Band – Strange Friend

By coincidence with stick with Scottish talent for the next release in our annual run down of the best albums. Listen to the stunning indie rock, pop and synth magic of this album and then join us in wondering why they aren’t one of the UK’s biggest acts around. Read our full review here.

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5. Alex Highton – Nobody Knows Anything

Now signed to fledgling UK label Gare Du Nord, Cambridgeshire based singer songwriter Alex Highton has taken his honest folk style to new levels for his second album. One of the most ambitious folk albums you will ever here. Read our full review here.

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4. Happyness – Weird Little Birthday

This album from London based trio Happyness  quickly established itself as one of our favourite debuts with its sardonic wit and Pavement indebted take on indie rock. Among highlights are the superb ‘Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same’. Read our full review here.

Weird Little Birthday

 

3. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

It’s quite an ability to write 11 songs about grief and death and make it one of the year’s most uplifting releases. On each of the songs on Benji, Mark Kozelek, under his Sun Kil Moon moniker,  takes us through some downright horrific tales of loss, but we emerge at the end treasuring life and ultimately happy. Arguably Kozelek’s best album to date. Read our full review here.

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2. Eyelids

When Robert Pollard chose to bring his Boston Spaceships project to an end (the band that released our favourite album of 2011) the core of the band stayed together and formed Eyelids. Headed up by Chris Slusarenko and John  Moen the band play a classic hook laden rock that evokes Big Star, The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub and Velvet Crush across yet another debut to grace our list. Read our full review here.

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1. Papernut Cambridge – There’s No Underground

Two years ago the Tigercats topped our end of year list with Isle of Dogs, a perfect collection of songs about urban London life. Here Ian Button, formerly of Death In Vegas, has created the perfect suburban pop album to complement it. Full of the imagery of his native south east London suburbs and packed with musical influences spanning the last forty years this is one of  the most life affirming,  feel good rock and roll albums of recent years. It is also the second on our list to be released on Gare Du Nord, the label that Button is a founder of. Read our full review here.

outside cover

Compiled by Neonfiller’s writers.

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Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place

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Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place

Posted on 01 October 2014 by Joe

Three albums in and the wait for a truly great Allo Darlin’ album continues. They have great songs and lyrics, thanks to lead singer and songwriter Elizabeth Morris. They are all accomplished musicians with oodles of connections across London’s indie music fraternity. They have also caught the ear of the trendsetting Pitchfork, whose staff are clear fans.

But there continues to be something missing. Perhaps it is because they still produce albums that sound like any other small band starting out. Maybe they don’t realise how good they are and that they are head and shoulders above the bulk of jangly, introspective bittersweet indie pop out there.

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Having said that We Come From The Same Place is  by far their best album to date. There is a greater emphasis on guitars in the mix and Morris’s voice sounds stronger here than it did on second album Europe, where it sounded strained at times.  The lyrics are just great here as well, full of beautiful lines about love and hope. This is an optimistic, happy album with Morris’s recent marriage clearly a key factor in it upbeat, romantic feel.

Among my favourite lyrically is fourth track Crickets in the Rain with lovely lines such as “The truth is when I realised I loved you, It was like everything I had lost had come back” as well as images such as an “apricot sky over the city lights” and “you’re lips are sweet from the Juicy Fruit.”

Musically, We Come from the Same Place is beautiful, especially the guitars and Another Year is particularly good with its sumptuous slide guitar. It is this  Americana sound I’d like to hear more of from the band and could be the sound that dominates Allo Darlin’s as yet released great album, that still only exists in my dreams.

But much of the album, particularly the unimaginative production,  is still standard indie fare. Romance and Adventure for example sounds like it’d be great live but on disc sounds like too many other bands.

As with their first two albums I’m left feeling like I’ve heard a good album, but frustrated that it is not the great album I’m convinced they have in them.

I have a nagging fear though that my search for the great Allo Darlin’ album will continue for some time and more good, but not great, albums like this will follow. What if, to quote Morris on Europe’s standout track Tallulah, that “I’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something” from this band?

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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