Tag Archive | "Voluntary Butler Scheme"

Papernut Cambridge- There’s No Underground

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Share

Comments (0)

The Voluntary Butler Scheme – A Million Ways to Make Gold

Tags:

The Voluntary Butler Scheme – A Million Ways to Make Gold

Posted on 24 March 2014 by Joe

After the damp squib that was 2011’s electronica focused  album The Grandad Galaxy, Voluntary Butler Scheme (aka Rob Jones) is back with a big fat old horn section and crucially his sense of fun.

Of his three albums so far this is by far the superior. It has the whimsy of his debut, At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea, but also a collection of poptastic tracks to rival the two great singles, Do The Hand Jive and To The Height Of A Frisbee, that came from the otherwise dour Grandad Galaxy.

voluntary-butler-scheme-million-ways-to-make-gold-300x300

Brain Freeze, with its awesomely danceable riff, is just one of many highlights, as is opening  track The Q Word, which starts off a little like Postal Service or even Sufjan Stevens’s Age of Adz tracks, before this album’s trademark brass bombast kicks in midway through.

Looking for Nearby Water also stands out. This McCartney-esque track must surely have emerged from a few listens of the ex-Beatle’s early solo work. Another to catch the ear is my favourite, That’s How I Got To Memphis, which is Sixties pop with a good dollop of Gene Clark style heart.

The brass section is one of the main stars here but remarkably this has not been provided by a hired ensemble. It is Jones himself, who learned the trumpet, tenor and baritone sax via Youtube tutorials.

There are a few versions of Jones around; talented home studio artists producing slick, fun pop that  may get used in ads and on TV to pay the rent, but whose work will largely go unrecognised. Jones and Jim Noir are the best at it and are still plugging away thankfully despite  the bitter irony  that so few will hear their wonderful, accessible pop music.

8.5/10

by Joe Lepper

Share

Comments (0)

Jim Noir  – Jimmy’s Show

Tags: , ,

Jim Noir – Jimmy’s Show

Posted on 17 September 2012 by Joe

Jim Noir, aka Greater Manchester based singer songwriter Alan Roberts, has been knocking around for a few years now peddling his DIY Beach Boys take on English pop with increasing critical acclaim. We are fans here, his music is interesting and full of wonderful hooks and influences from 60s psycheldia, Brian Wilson through to 80s electro pop.

So what does Jimmy’s Show, his latest album, add to the Noir collection? More of the same sumptuous pop harmonies and nods to English pop through the ages. But there’s an added edge with this album, which is arranged in two halves; the first full of his usual 1960s whimsy and the second turning darker, more austere with more of a 1980s synth pop influence. It’s a good mix, as while I enjoy the first half, there is a limit to how many songs about the Queen’s corgis, drinking tea and driving  an Escort Cosworth I can take.

Key songs in the whimsical half of Jimmy’s Show are the album’s first single Tea, and Sunny, with typically odd ball lyrics such as “riding a bike is tricky when your stabilizers are set in stone” amid lashings of harpsichord. Ping Pong Time Tennis, the one about the Queen’s corgis, is another highlight as it takes Noir’s whimsy to Bonzo-Dog Doh Dah Band proportions, complete with Vivian Stanshall impression.

On the second half Old Man Cyril with its new wave electro sounds and the slow psychedelic folk of Fishes and Dishes are among my favourites, with the latter providing a fitting close to the album.

Noir is one of those artists like Voluntary Butler Scheme and Rotifer that use their knowledge of pop music and skill in arranging to please both musos and those that just like a good tune.  Noir may not have hoards of screaming fans after him, but he’s still a pop star to us.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

Share

Comments (0)

Dollboy – Further Excursions Into The Ulu With Dollboy

Tags: , , ,

Dollboy – Further Excursions Into The Ulu With Dollboy

Posted on 24 August 2012 by Joe

Every now and again a psychedelic revival pops its head over the cultural duvet, tie dyes a few clothes, copies a few early Pink Floyd riffs and disappears again in a purple haze.

The best of these revivals was in the 1980s when XTC, with a lot of help from our Top Ten Producer John Leckie, produced two pitch perfect 60s influenced psychedelic albums as  Dukes of Stratosphear called Psonic Psunspot and 25 O’Clock. These two gems went on to heavily influence The Stone Roses and others over the next few years.

The revival has popped back again in recent years and created something of a crowded market. Australian act Tame Impala are probably the most commercially pleasing of the bunch, but while faithful to the spirit of the likes of  Pink Floyd they lack the English whimsy that typifies the genre and in which the Dukes were so accomplished.

Over in the UK, the likes of Voluntary Butler Scheme and Jim Noir are leading the field with lashings of English whimsy as  they combine psychedelia and pop with great effect.

Lurking in the lava lamp shadows of this UK revival is Dollby, aka Oliver Cherer, who were are told has been making music for a decade and used to play Theremin in the band Cooler.  In his latest album Further Excursions Into the Ulu  With Dollboy is certainly making a strong case to be considered alongside the likes of Noir. There’s more folk than pop to Cherer’s take on psychedelia and not all the tracks work, but when they do succeed they feature some sumptuous harmonies, melodies and musicianship.

One of our highlight Seven Again Or Dust finds him “like ghosts on a Victorian verandha with the clock striking seven again, then 10, 11 and 12 and 13.” While the Dukes’ clock goes up to 25, one that goes up to 13 is still fairly impressive in psychedelic circles. The Donovan-esque Alice in Clearwater is another highpoint.

There are also some neat harmonies on display on particular on tenth track A Golden Age, which the Dukes would have been proud of, and like 7 Again Or Dust, it is a track that could almost be a single, well, a single in a strange alternative hallucinatory version of our universe.

Can Cherer achieve the commercial success of Tama Impala or the critical success of the likes of Noir? If this current psychedelic revival can hold out anything’s possible. He certainly has the talent and the musical credentials to battle it out for attention in this crowded retro market.

7/10

by Joe Lepper

 

Share

Comments (0)

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here

Charts