Tag Archive | "Jim Noir"

Jim Noir – Finnish Line


Jim Noir – Finnish Line

Posted on 29 October 2014 by Joe

We talk a lot about pop music here. Not that modern rubbish, obviously. The good stuff from the 1960s, Paul McCartney and David Bowie stuff from the 1970s or New Wave hits from the early 1980s. We look for those three minute pop gems with their bright, crunching guitars, oh-so clever and bittersweet lyrics and synths in most new music. When we find it we hold it high on our pop pedestal. Earlier this month Papernut Cambridge, the ensemble cast assembled by former Death in Vegas man Ian Button, scratched our pop itch with There’s No Underground, an ode to suburban pop through the decades. Now its Jim Noir’s turn to dazzle us.

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Noir, aka Alan Roberts from Davyhulme, Greater Manchester, has always had a great ear for a catchy pop tune. Since his debut EP Eanie Meany in 2004 he has been channeling all our favourite pop influences to great effect and Finnish Line, his fifth album is no exception. But while Button’s canvas was the surburbia of Sidcup, Noir’s is grimy post industrial Greater Manchester, with this album recorded in a former mill in Ancoats.

The results though owe more to Liverpool than Manchester, with McCartney’s influencing looming large. In the press release sent to us Noir is unabashed in his adoration of all things fab four. He says: “I’m not trying to consciously channel The Beatles, it just happens that I do have a lof the intruments they used and its hard to not want to go near that sound of slightly wonky drums, sharp guitar, moving bass and loud vocals. What’s not to like?”

So while Tower of Love, his debut album, was more about synth pop and 2012’s Jimmy’s Show more psychedelic pop, Finnish Line ends up being packed full of Macca influences, particular his Ram solo era. Piece of Mind and The Boy, towards the end of the album, are exactly the kind of slight melodic pop McCartney excelled at in the early 1970s.

On Stone Cold Room the opening piano is pure Beatles but more John Lennon  than Macca. It is even reminiscent of Neil Innes, whose Rutles creation frequently matched the Beatles it was set up to lampoon.

But Noir isn’t all about sounding a bit like the Beatles. On The Broadway Jets he’s his own man with this more reminiscent of his own earlier pop nuggets. Strange Range too is different, far more glam rock than McCartney and co attempted in the 1970s.

In recording in a studio this marks a change for Noir from bedroom recording to a more professional set up. It’s a good move on this evidence and while  his earlier albums are great this feels like his most complete and polished yet.

The future of pop’s past is in good hands.


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.


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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Jim Noir  – Jimmy’s Show

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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.


by Joe Lepper


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September Preview

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September Preview

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Dorian

This is the first of a new monthly feature where we preview the best music releases and events in the coming month. Items marked with an * are currently scheduled for review on the site.


Album of the month: Cat Power – Sun*

Chan Marshal returns with her first album of new material for six years. The sound has moved away from the soul-pop of The Greatest and has more in common with her 2003 release You Are Free. The album has a modern feel with a focus on studio production techniques and features guest appearances from  Iggy Pop and Judah Bauer. Out now.

Cat Power - Sun

Cat Power – Sun

3rd September

Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Deerhoof – Breakup Song*

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

Various – Metronomy: Late Night Tales (Read our review)

10th September

The XX – Coexist

David Byrne & St.Vincent – Love This Giant

Calexico – Algiers*

Racehorses – Furniture*

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – Throw It To The Universe

17th September

Grizzly Bear – Shields*

Jim Noir – Jimmy’s Show*

Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat & Bone*

Menomena – Moms

24th September

Efterklang – Piramidia*

Mark Eitzel – Don’t Be A Stranger*

Yoko One with Thurston moore and Kim Gordon – Yokokimthurston

Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You

Gigs and tours

Tour of the month: Allo Darlin’

Allo Darlin’ play a string of dates this month with a set drawing strongly from their excellent recent album Europe:

  • 4 Sep Fleece, Bristol*
  • 5 Sep Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle
  • 6 Sep Queens Social Club, Sheffield
  • 7 Sep Deaf Institute, Manchester
  • 8 Sep Kazimier, Liverpool
  • 9 Sep Blackburn Art College, Blackburn  1.45PM SHOW / ALL AGES
  • 10 Sep Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
  • 12 Sep The Haunt, Brighton
  • 13 Sep King’s College, London
Allo Darlin'

Allo Darlin’

Former American Music Club singer Mark Eitzel plays just two gigs in the UK:

Sat 8th Sep – The Palmeira, Hove*

Sun 9th Sep – SXSC Festival 2012, the Railway Inn/The Attic, Winchester.

El-P – The ATP promoted hip-hop act plays a short UK tour:

  • London Scala on Wednesday 12th September
  • Brighton The Haunt on Thursday 13th September
  • Birmingham The Rainbow Warehouse on Saturday 15th September
  • Bristol The Fleece on Sunday 16th September
  • Manchester Academy 3 on Monday 17th September

Grandaddy – Tuesday 4th September, Sheperds Bush Empire London

Deer Tick – Wednesday 5th September, Scala London

Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard – Thursday 6th September, The Haunt Brighton

The XX – Monday 10th September, Sheperds Bush Empire London

Jens Lekman – Wednesday 19th September, The Ruby Lounge Manchester

Dexys – Saturday 22nd September, Colston Hall Bristol


The festival season is almost over, and with cancellations, abandonment’s and wash-outs it has not been a vintage year. However, there are still a couple of interesting festivals left that could prove the perfect end to the Summer.

Playgroup Festival, 213ts to 23rd September, Eridge Park – This festival has already moved once this year due to flooding on the beautiful Eridge Park site, so some late September sun would be welcome for the rescheduled dates. Expect fancy dress, games and an eclectic range of music – the theme this year is ‘Lost Toys’. http://www.playgroupfestival.com/

Playgroup Festival

Playgroup Festival

Festival No.6, 14th to 16th September, Portmeirion – A new face on the festival scene, Festival No.6 promises a interesting mix of live music, DJs, comedy and arts at the unique Welsh venue. Acts include Gruff Rhys, Field Music, King Creosote and the Wave Pictures, with New order, Primal Scream and Spiritualized headlining. http://www.festivalnumber6.com

Other stuff

Last Shop Standing, 10th September – Last Shop Standing is a film, released on DVD, that looks at the rise and fall of the record shop in the UK since 1960. Billy Bragg, Johnny Marr and Nerina Pallot contribute to a fascinating film that explores the role of the record shop and considers whether they will survive in the modern music climate. http://lastshopstanding.com/

Last Shop Standing

Last Shop Standing

To get your album/gig/tour/film/book/festival/t-shirt included in our monthly preview please send details to dorian@neonfiller.com.

By Dorian Rogers


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Dollboy – Further Excursions Into The Ulu With Dollboy

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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.


by Joe Lepper



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Jim Noir Free Download Offer


Jim Noir Free Download Offer

Posted on 12 July 2011 by Joe

Jim Noir’s PR people have contacted us to say that the eccentric indie-popster is offering  a free download of  ‘One Note World’, which features on his five track EP Rainbuns and Bland Ends.

The EP is released this month and is being given away to those who sign up to his  Noir Club, which the PR people tell us will handsomely reward those who pay the £2.99 a month subscription with exclusive new tracks.

In these austere times we are a little on the fence as to whether this represents true value for money. Feel free to let us know if you’ve signed up and decided you’d prefer the traditional methods of simply buying his new releases as they come out. On the other hand this could indeed be a good money saving way for Jim Noir fans to get access to his goodies. Let us know.

To download ‘One Note World’ and find out more about Noir Club click here.


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