2013 is nearly over!
Here is Heyday's Top Ten for 2013, in no particular order of preference.
Hats off to the following, it's been a pleasure to hear...
Jacco Gardner / Cabinet Of Curiosities
Soft Hearted Scientists / False Lights
Permanent Clear Light / Beyond These Things
White Sails / Same
Stay / Mersey Dream 7” EP ('If I Needed Someone' – amazing!)
Schnauser / Where Business Meets Fashion
Regal Crabomophone Annual For 2014 7” (Mark McDowell / Octopus Syng)
Beachwood Sparks / Desert Skies
Luck Of Eden Hall / Victoria Moon
Green Pajamas / November
Many thanks to the labels and artists who sent promos, MP3 files etc. for me to listen to - very much appreciated.
Thank you also to Heyday’s customers for another year of support. I’m very grateful to you all!
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy 2014!
I'll check in again soon…
I've been taking in the CD reissue of the 1988 cassette only album 'November' by The Green Pajamas since it arrived here recently. It's easy to be overwhelmed by this band - they're so prolific. While I'm still getting to grips with the later, more 'conceptual' works, I often forget about these earlier efforts. Releasing this is a good reminder to dig them out more often.
The plan behind 'November' was to put out a live collection of older songs not previously recorded alongside some newer songs not intended for release, and at least have them available for whoever wanted to hear them. They obviously were already moving pretty fast by 1988 to have so much strong material to spare!
For the sake of doing the songs justice, a compromise was reached to record live in the studio. The result is this excellent 'spirited' performance of 19 tracks, illustrating the diversity of their song writing even in these early years of the band. Most listeners know Jeff Kelly as being chief Pajama, but he's always seemed willing to share the song writing duties with other members of the band, and so on 'November' we have the groovy sixties based tunes of guitarist/bassist Steven Lawrence ('Strange City Days', 'Far Away' and 'This Tyme') , the driving pop of keyboard/guitarist Bruce Haedt (particularly on 'Get Away' and 'Manna') as well as Kelly's trademark 'songsmithing'.
It's interesting to note how Kelly's songs were progressing by 1988. He's still a dab hand at a good pop tune ('Mary Magdalene', 'Get Away', 'I Wish That It Was Christmas') but on 'November' there's the hint of the more 'moodier' songs to come, particularly on 'Stephanie Barber' and the really moving 'Just Like Seeing God'. He's on piano for this latter track and this alone is worth the price of the CD. One of those that really moves the listener...A rare talent.
It's been really enjoyable hearing this performance again, and I'd recommend anyone unfamiliar with the band to begin here. It's always been about the songs with the Green Pajamas, and I really can't fault any in this set, even the tongue in cheek 'Michael Row The Boat'! Maximum joy!
Finally, I'd also like to mention that Heyday faves Stay have a new YouTube video. Check it out at... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qATUGW04LNw
Cheers for now!
The new Mazzy Star CD 'Seasons Of Your Day' has been in heavy rotation here lately. I really wasn't expecting much of the recent reunion, but I've been mightily impressed with how both Hope Sandoval and Dave Roback have finely tuned that signature Mazzy Star sound.
Check out the guitar work for starters, it's a delight! Predominantly blues based, the gentle melody lines weave in and around the vocals creating an almost hypnotic effect for the listener. The opener 'In The Kingdom' is a fine example. Follow the playing and lose yourself at the same time... Both 'Spoon' and the closing 'Flying Low' leave me in a trance too, especially when the harmonica joins the latter.
On 'California', Hope's vocals are 'just there'. Feel yourself being drawn into the song as you listen. Throughout the album she gives the impression of stepping back from the tracks, but it only makes the listener to want to hear more closely.
Some tasteful instrumentation elsewhere on the album - a beautiful harpsichord on 'Sparrow' and pedal steel on 'Lay Myself Down'. It's an album that requires concentration to appreciate, but it's worth the effort.
A lot better than you think...
After swooning in the reverie of 'Seasons Of Your Day' my attention has usually turned to the new Luck Of Eden Hall opus 'Victoria Moon'. Housed in a Curvey designed handmade sleeve adorned with Victoriana, this is rather good! In fact it's one of my favourite albums this year...It's not an effort for me to play it more than once a day, in fact it's recommended, I checked with my GP! These songs are so darn catchy!
The band continue to explore their own take on psychedelia - they're not derivative or retro to these ears, which is refreshing and welcome. Hands up everyone who expected a rehash of 60s British 'tea-shop' psych after hearing of this album beforehand? You can be forgiven, LOEH are not that obvious - and even if they borrow from the past, like the 'Hey Joe' progression on the stirring 'Dandy Horse' and the closing 'The Horrible Pill Book' it's done in an original way, differently on both occasions too!
This album is a real treat for the ears – 'Sitting Bull' is epic, the Psychedelic Furs haunt 'Victoria Moon', there's the playful lyrics of 'Super Phantasmal Heroine' '('her enemies liked her friends' – love that line...) and the other splendidly titled track 'Drunk Like Shakespeare On Love'...but 'Victoria Moon' isn't about particular songs, listen and enjoy as a whole!
The playing is assured, arrangements always interesting. There's real thought behind these songs.
It's been a pleasure!
Finally, I must also mention the recent deluxe reissue of 'Muswell Hillbillies' by The Kinks (at last this band are receiving the reissue treatment their work deserves! Every album so far has been worth buying again!) and Vibravoid's 'Delirio Dei Sensi ('The Golden Escalator' – marvellous!)...
I'll check in again shortly...
03.10.13 The CDR promos of November's Fruits De Mer releases landed recently. Another entertaining/diverse listen! There are four singles (one a double set) plus the year end freebie - exclusive to members. What am I waiting for?
Perhaps the strongest single I've heard from the label so far (yes, it's true!) is the 'Regal Crabomophone Annual For 2014'. It's a split single featuring Mark McDowell and Octopus Syng. The two tracks, ('Girls Of Belvoir' and 'Listen To The Moths' respectively) compliment each other perfectly. Both are haunting pieces of baroque/orch pop-psych and virtually impossible to shake from the memory after a few plays. Honestly, it's a terrific single! 'Moths' possibly has the edge at the moment, but I can change my mind easily after each play! You can hear fingers running down the fretboard during 'Moths' if you listen closely, it's all very intense! At around three minutes the song suddenly takes off, sweeping the listener away with it, and keeps up the momentum until (reluctantly) drawing to a close at nearly 8mins! Both songs have been playing daily here at Heyday...wonderful, wonderful!
What else then? Well, FdM likes a little fun now and then, and the 'Fruits De Mer Annual 2014' is similar to the earlier 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' release, with Giant Blue Zeta Puppies (Giant Blue...what?!?) ripping through the 'Joe 90 Theme', Astralasia doing the same with 'Johnny Remember Me' gunshots and all (even returning later with a 'Johnny In Dub' version, that's actually very good!) but best of all is The Raiders, with the slow, but beautiful instro 'I Remember'. This one hasn't reached the 60s British Instro compilations yet, but it won't be long! Yes, it's actually an original 60s recording from 1964 featuring a young Beau! It's rather beautiful...
I can never really get to grips fully with FdM's space/kraut rock releases, but they're usually worth a few listens. The double set 'shrunken Head Music' is a companion of sorts to the popular album 'Head Music' released a while back, where krautrock classics were covered by the 'Family De Mer'. Long time contributors to the cause, Frobisher Neck (Mr. Mellotron') and Jay Tausig feature in this set, with Tausig's frantic take on Gong's 'The Glorious Om Riff' collecting the prize!
Pink Floyd are probably the band most covered on the FdM label, and Vespero offer a split 'chopping concept' release with the double header of 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene' and the later 'One Of These Days'. Both tracks clock in at over 7 minutes and feature a unique interpretation. I like the thought gone into both arrangements. Not as menacing as either of the original versions, they're actually quite a chill out!
Talking of Pink Floyd, Vibravoid have covered a few of their tunes previously on FdM, but not this time! Tyrnaround's 'Colour Your Mind' is an inspired choice. I remember Tyrnaround fondly from the 80s and 90s. One of Australia's finest neo-psych bands, along with The Church of course, who were psychedelic without really realising it! I have fond memories of trying to collect their vinyl releases in the pre-internet times! I got there in the end and the 12” featuring 'Colour Your Mind' I played endlessly. Stinging guitar riff. Vibravoid deliver well with a touch more power too. Elsewhere, the band offer Michel Polnareff's 'La Poupee Qui Fait Non' and an eerie take on Human Expression's 'Optical Sound', but neither can match 'Colour Your Mind', again, an inspired choice!
Finally, the year end freebie is a souvenir from the Borderline gig in August. Jack Ellister with just an acoustic guitar wows the audience with the reflective 'Old South'. Love this one...whoo, whoo, whoo! Someone please release a Jack Ellister album. This guy must have so many songs stockpiled now he's about ready for his own 'All Things Must Pass' set! The ever popular Stay offer their 'I Don't See Myself' (complete with a hypnotic Doors-like middle section), while Sendelica and Luck Of Eden Hall keep the Pink Floyd flag flying. Sendelica reprise the 'Set The Controls...' riff in their Eastern tinged 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Buddha' (man, they very nearly nearly blew The Borderline apart during their set. Powerful isn't the word!) and Luck Of Eden Hall have fun with a romp through 'Lucifer Sam'. A splendid time was had by all!
Another excellent set of releases, thank you to all!
It's been a while since I last logged in here, but there's been plenty to listen to!
The third, and final, Steve Kilbey – Martin Kennedy collaboration 'You Are Everything' landed a while back but took me while to get round to listening to. I can't say I particularly enjoyed the previous two albums much, but this one I did find interesting. It felt like it had more purpose. The individual talents of K & K finally got it together for 'You Are Everything'. Definitely a more satisfying listen. I did go back to the first two releases again after hearing 'You Are Everything', and although they still 'drift' a little too much for my liking, they do have their moments. A challenging collaboration. I'm still up for it though! I'll be back for more - I've never been one to ignore anything for too long involving Steve Kilbey! A rare talent...
The Fruits De Mer All-Dayer gig at the Borderline was highly enjoyable. It was wonderful to see Jack Ellister, Stay, Sendelica, Luck Of Eden Hall and the mighty Pretty Things on the same bill! Thanks to everyone involved for their efforts to put the show on. The goodie bag given away at the show contained a few CDs that I also thoroughly enjoyed listening to...
The FdM freebie CD 'Something Old Something New Something Borrowed' not only confirmed to me what an important label Fruits Der Mer have been to the 'scene' in recent years, a breath of fresh air for sure, but offered some tantalising extras like previously unissued tracks from Permanent Clear Light & Sidewalk Society. That's not all though, there were unreleased and extended versions of recent tracks by Stay and Crystal Jacqueline too among the more familiar tunes. Brilliant!
The Seventh Ring Of Saturn included a re-edited version of their debut album. 'Pillsbury Palace' I think I've mentioned before, but the rest of the album is worth hearing. It gets quite experimental/space-y in places. Neat cover of 'Sour Milk Sea'...I'd love to hear more by these guys...
I was given a Cat Frequency CD, which I've been listening to quite often. It's psychedelic, if not a little 'outsider'. These recordings are obviously earlier than the recent contribution to the 'Strange Fish' series. They don't seem as 'accomplished' as the SF tracks, but they're worth a listen. There are echoes of Syd, Skip and Roky here and there...
Other sounds... The new Schnauser CD 'Where Business Meets Fashion' is nearly upon us! This band are one of the most interesting I've heard in a long time here in the UK. Thanks to Simon at Pink Hedgehog for making me aware of the band by releasing their first two albums.
This is their fourth album, and it's full of the catchiest tunes you'll hear in quite sometime! They're very hard to classify musically, but psych/prog/pop isn't far off! The playing is tight and the ideas are many. There's always been something slightly Zappa/Mothers about their lyrics too. They're very un-rock'n'roll, but when wrapped up in such gorgeous melodies as the ones heard on this album you can get away with mentioning 'giblets and entrails' and still make it sound like a radio-friendly hit! Marvellous! One of my favourite albums this year. Give 'em a listen...
Finally, I've just received the recent album from Italian outfit No Strange. A little late I'm afraid, I think it's been around for a while now, but better now than never I guess... 'Cristalli Sognanti' is the first album since re-forming (the band originally formed in the 80s) and has definitely got something for you if you like a little krautrock mixed with your psych. Throw in Eastern influences and it becomes very 'Heyday-friendly'... I'm still just getting into the album as a whole, but on first hearings tracks 3 and 4 ('Il Sudore Dei Pianeti' and 'Respirare Il Mare' respectively) really blow me away! An Eastern slant with chant like vocals plus sitar never go amiss here, but the rhythmic Can influence of the former is really wonderful listening. Elsewhere there's more experimental tracks and I can hear Tangerine Dream and Floyd in parts...Excellent!
Well, enough for the time being, I'll try to check in again sooner next time...
Fruits De Mer have come up with another superb set of releases scheduled for the middle of August.
Back to their preferred format of the seven inch single/EP, there are five releases to get your ears around, containing enough music to see you through these long summer evenings…
Favourite tracks? Well…
Jack Ellister returns to FdM with a three tracks, the pick of which being his take on George Harrison’s ‘Within You Without You’. There are a few Pepper-esque references here for good measure too, like a mini ‘A Day In The Life’ build up passage, some neat Harrison styled guitar licks I swear I’ve heard on bootleg mixes of the album tracks, plus a reprise! A well thought out arrangement, Jack’s obviously an informed Beatles fan…
Spain’s grooviest and another FdM favourite, Stay, also cover George Harrison - this time it’s the earlier ‘If I Needed Someone’. Now, I like the original, but I love this version - the best I’ve heard. The guitars go up a gear (or two!) to really move this one along. A good 'full' arrangement - there’s even a sitar! Check out their own ‘Mersey Dream’ too. Neat guitar…
New to FdM is Crystal Jacqueline, a member of the band Honey Pot. Her three track EP is an intriguing piece of work for sure! There’s something intense and eerie about the versions of ‘Cousin Jane’ (Troggs) and ‘Play With Fire’ (Stones.) Curious choices indeed! It’s actually a light relief to hear the upbeat ‘A Fairy Tale’ (Second Hand) between all this spookiness, until she sings ‘scary, fairy tale, we want another’ and ‘I give in to the Brothers Grimm’ - then I get the chills again…but in a nice way of course…
Sweden’s Me And My Kites released a fine album recently (‘Like A Dream Back Then’) packed with good vibrations. A really ‘happy’ album! I loved it…Well, they’ve teamed up with acid folkster Tony Durant of Fuchsia and FdM have released Durant’s ‘The Band’ b/w MAMK’s own ‘Isis’ Adventure’. Durant’s vocals on ‘The Band’ fits the upbeat vibe of The Kites, and it’s hard not to fall under the spell of the chorus…’hop, skip, dance along, along with me’…Sure thing guys…It’s Pied Piper time! This is beautiful music, thank you!
The self-titled debut album released earlier this year by White Sails is still a favourite here, and I couldn’t wait to hear what they could bring to FdM. How about two Black Sabbath covers? ‘Laguna Sunrise’ and ‘Fluff’ I’ve never heard before. I’ve only ever heard ‘Paranoid’ - Sabbath were always a little off my radar, to be honest. Well these two instrumentals are really very…pleasant! I can listen to them all day long actually.
Leigh Gregory (ex-Mellow Drunk and Memory’s Mystic Band) and Ville Vilpponen (ex-dora flood and Memory’s Mystic Band) do a fine job here, realising one of Keith De Mer’s many ideas for FdM releases - for I believe it was a commission! To complete the EP, Ville offers his own ‘The Answer’ and Leigh ‘Death On A Pale Horse’, two further instrumentals to compliment the Sabbath tracks, making this a wonderful chilled out listen!
Beautiful music again! Thank you FdM!
03.07.13 (Remember Brian Jones 28.02.42 - 03.07.69)
Really enjoying the debut CD ‘Beyond These Things’ by Finland’s Permanent Clear Light - one of my favourite bands of recent years (thanks again to Fruits De Mer for the introduction!)
It’s a journey through pop (cue the opening track ‘Constant Gardner’ – these guys write a good chorus!) and psych/prog (orchestrated Beatles / ‘Saucerful’ era Floyd on ‘Higher Than The Sun’ – previously an FdM single, but extended here) and much more besides. Leaves me in no doubt that the band can write interesting and varied original material.
I tend to think of PCL as a progressive outfit, and progressive music works for me only if it’s well constructed (i.e. no noodling!) Thankfully, PCL know how to put a track together, use interesting instrumentation (plenty on this release), and keep the music ‘doing something’ throughout.
Check out ‘Ribes Nigrum’ and ‘Harvest Time’, they’re separate tracks, but try and spot the ‘join’! Fooled me on initial hearings. ‘Harvest Time’ is mostly instrumental (perfect for the rhythm section to flex their muscles on), but it links so well with ‘Ribes Nigrum’ I thought it was all one long track. There’s even a reprise of the chorus to ‘Ribes’ during ’Harvest’, so surely these tracks have gotta be related?
‘Ribes’ also has one of those wonderful chord changes that can send a song someplace else entirely. The best example I can give is Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Something In The Air’ - remember that change part the way through where the track just suddenly soars? Well, ‘Ribes Nigrum’ does the same. These two tracks are some of the best things I’ve heard in quite a while.
‘And The Skies Will Fall’ offers some gentle/Eastern tinged sounds together with beautiful mellotron playing. ‘Pretty Boy Floyd is leaving, winter wonderland…’ I love that line. One Bob Dylan missed…A beautiful song and an opportunity to catch your breath following the 9 minutes plus ‘Higher Than The Sun : Astral Travel’. That one builds up enough to blow your roof off! Never imagined this version when I heard the single last year!
‘Love Gun’ and ‘Skirmish’ are another couple of tracks that appear to be joined at the hip, but actually are separate. Excellent guitar work with a Beatles ‘Come Together’ rhythm. ‘Skirmish’ like ‘Harvest Time’ is instrumental, with horns, more guitars, and just about anything else the band could fit in. Count ‘em all…it’s a hypnotic listen!
Final track ‘Weary Moon’ doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album, but listened to on its own, it’s actually quite pleasant, almost a lullaby. It’s a strange song for sure! Lovely banjo playing though. What about that deep vocal too…Blimey!
Yup, ‘Beyond These Things’ is a promising debut. The soundtrack to my summer!
See you next time.
The latest album by Soft Hearted Scientists, ‘False Lights’, is a release I keep coming back to. I must have had it playing here continually for about a month now!
Tracks on SHS releases seem repetitive on initial hearing, and ‘False Lights’ is no exception, but subsequent listens reveal some intricate arrangements at work, where there’s always something being added to the mix as a song develops. It’s their best album yet in this sense. An excellent production too with a good choice of instrumentation.
The nursery rhyme quality of the writing (probably the reason for the Syd Barrett comparisons too) makes it futile to resist the album once you’ve heard it a few times. The tunes settle deep in the memory very quickly. I’ve even woken up with the ‘putting the world to rights’ track ‘Seeing’ ringing in my head on many a day recently too! It’s either that one, or the rather wonderful coda to the album closer ‘Panorama’ - ‘This is our Olympus…’ ah, here it comes again…
I’ve always loved the ‘SHS Worldview’, it’s an accurate observation of modern life . The lyrics to ‘Song From The River’ for example. Who else would have Ancient Egypt receiving a makeover like the one described? ‘Seaside Sid & The Giant Squid’ is just bizarre, and some of the lyrics have a slight hint of nastiness about them, but I’m sure the band don’t mean it. Or, do they?
This is an intriguing collection of songs, even a history course in one sitting too (count the number of historical references throughout), but alongside the humour and surrealism, there is a sense of something a little ‘darker’ lurking too. I’ve not really heard this in the band’s work before. The title track reveals the first stirrings of this, but ‘Golgotha’ actually ‘disturbs’ me a little. Not to the point of turning it off, it’s not that ‘scary’, but I want to understand it better. What is all this about? The lyrics to the chorus…eerie! ‘Night Of The Hunter’ too, but this is redeemed by a glorious change of melody towards the end.
The previously mentioned ‘Panorama’ is everything that’s good about SHS. My favourite track. It’s another of the band’s ‘epics’, and the obvious choice to close the album. I wish it could last longer…
Yes, this album is very interesting. It’s one I’ve actually concentrated on for a longer time than I usually do. I’m pleased people can still make albums like this - gives me something to think about. This band is unique…Should be heard on radio everywhere...
Here are details of a couple of gigs upcoming in London which should be well worth attending...
Spanish psych pop band Stay are playing at The
Being a long time admirer of Game Theory and Loud Family, I was saddened today to hear of the recent passing of Scott Miller.
I remember picking up the ‘Real Nighttime’ album by Game Theory many years ago. It was released through Restless, and liking the majority of releases via them I thought I’d take chance. Initially I found the album tricky listening. This was something a little more sophisticated than the usual three chord tricks I was used to at the time. It contained very intelligent and complex song writing, with excellent titles and lyrics – I was intrigued. I persevered and I’m glad I did – everything clicked into place one time, and I was hooked – ‘Rayon Drive’, ‘Friend Of The Family’, ‘24’, there was something special about these tracks, quite unlike anything else around.
I subsequently tracked down the earlier Game Theory releases (even the rare pre-GT single by Alternate Learning) and went on from there.
The ‘Lolita Nation’ album is a masterpiece! It’s Game Theory’s ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and ‘White Album’ rolled into one. The wealth of ideas contained in these grooves…Phew!!! Check the song titles too! It must have felt like an achievment to have made an album like that!
Like a lot of the other 80s guitar bands I liked, I only read or heard about Scott Miller and Game Theory in Bucketful Of Brains magazine, or by popping into Plastic Passion down the Portobello Road. I’m glad I had these lifelines at the time as I wouldn’t have got hold of a lot of music that’s stayed with me all the way since then. A belated ‘thank you’ to you guys!
Once Game Theory wound down, Scott formed Loud Family and even made it to London for a gig at the old Powerhaus venue in Islington. I saw that gig and even got to talk to him afterwards. A friendly guy.
I followed Loud Family with the same zeal I had for Game Theory. Again, very interesting albums, cleverly arranged. I enjoyed the collaboration with Anton Barbeau too on ‘What If It Works?’ Their version of ‘Rocks Off’ by The Stones being a highlight!
After I heard the news about Scott I dug out ‘The Big Shot Chronicles’ and played ‘Like A Girl Jesus’, just to feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end like they always do when I hear this track. Beautiful!
Thanks for the music and memories Scott.
14.05.13 - Strange Fish are Happening!
Fruits De Mer’s latest venture lands sometime in June. The ‘Strange Fish’ series has been mooted for a while, and is four loosely ‘themed’ albums (two on single vinyl and two on double vinyl) with a free CD of unissued music for purchasers of the complete set! CDRs of the albums have arrived here recently and this is one Pandora’s Box of krautrock, progressive/acid jams, electronica, and much more!
Coming from a psych/blues background I knew I’d be in for a challenge with the series, but the whole concept has kept me coming back to it for the last few weeks. I’ve played the whole series from start to finish, I’ve ‘dipped’ into various volumes playing specific tracks, not just because I may have liked particular tracks but also the ones I couldn’t take to initially I wanted to give another chance.
OK, so I still can’t take to ALL of the music on offer, but it’s been an adventure checking these sounds out!
I’m still not into pure synth sounds, unless played alongside the standard rock fare of guitars, bass and drums. A few years ago I experienced an intense headache listening to an electronic album, and I don’t suffer from headaches as a rule. Even now while listening to some of the tracks in this series, I still feel uneasy with the electronica tracks. I can also feel the temperature drop around me. Luckily for me, there are guitars, bass and drums (even saxophones too!) to be heard within the series, so I was in my ‘safety zone’ for at least some of the time!
Strange Fish One features floating ambient sounds. Sendelica contribute the track ‘Strange Fish’ here. This 24 minute jam features a simple ringing guitar motif and a bass line alongside various sound effects (plus a little altered tape speed!) I wouldn’t say the various stages of the piece ‘fit’ together seamlessly, but they hold my interest. It’s been the track I’ve returned to a few times. There’s something about the guitar in it I like. Reminds me of temple bells.
Strange Fish Two is loosely based around kraut/prog rock guitar led jams. More like it, me thinks! Organic Is Orgasmic feature with ‘At Dawn Of Men’. Haunting/spacey saxophone sounds are suddenly shattered after 5 minutes when the track hits a cool groove that’s pretty much maintained up to its 13 minute limit. Nothing is too rushed, it’s very controlled. Sendelica appear again with the wonderfully titled ‘80% Neon Bridge Of Sighs’. Very Floydian! Actually the track titles throughout the whole series are very imaginative – they make you want to hear what a tracks with these kind of titles sound like - good bait! Best of all on this particular volume is ‘Space Orchid vs. Massive Drumkit’ by The Grand Astoria. Lovely Eastern/Hippy vibe that mutates into another solid groove.
The third volume isn’t really for me. Based around kosmische/motoric/electronic sounds, I find it the most difficult volume to listen to, but I do have a liking for Vert:x (stars of the ‘The Crabs Freak Out’ CD). They contribute three tracks, two of which (’Bad Calibration’ & ‘Killer Beez’) feature their trademark ‘muscular’ riffing. I like the energy, it's relentless! And who let Hawkwind gatecrash too?
Now to volume four - the mood is gentle, and there’s acoustic guitar to be heard! Jewel in the crown is Hi-Fiction Science’s James McKeown. I’ve got copies of the two most recent solo outings from James and this guy creates some really beautiful instrumentals. He contributes four tracks here and each one is wonderful listening. ‘Euclid Dreaming’ is my particular favourite, but it could have easily been any of the others. The Vox Humana (who share links with Soft Hearted Scientists) offer more gentleness with ‘Shortwave Radio And The Ionosphere’ another favourite of mine.
The Strange Fish 5 CD as I mentioned earlier, is only available with the purchase of all four albums. This features tracks that didn’t quite fit or work with the rest of the series, but there’s no slouching here. Jay Tausig’s ‘Shortwave’ is a beautiful groove, while Oceanfire fight off another Hawkwind intrusion on ‘Elevations’. Mustn’t forget ‘Cathedral’ by Purple Rock Trip either - this 11 minute track is a guitar orchestra! Finally, legendary songwriter Beau chips in with an unissued mid 80s track, originally recorded for a video project entitled ‘Rainbow Jam Theme’. This I really enjoyed! It’s a fuzzy Bo Diddley-esque work out. The ‘oddest’ track of the entire set for sure, but I defy anyone not to like it!
The Strange Fish series is definitely a challenging listen. Worth taking up though, you may get into something new - let’s compare notes at the end…
I’ll check in again soon.
It’s a good time to be a Steve Kilbey fan with yet another album of new songs available - ‘The Idyllist’. Like ‘Garage Sutra’, released last year ‘The Idyllist’ provides him a platform to try out the new recording software available, and make an album ‘mostly solo’ again like in the ‘old days’ of his portastudio efforts.
Unlike ‘Garage Sutra’, which contained songs pretty much in the ‘traditional’ SK style, ‘The Idyllist’ presents a diverse selection of songs, with him experimenting outside his ‘safety zone’. As a result, it makes for interesting listening…
Check the new toughened vocals and ‘rocky edge’ (with nods to T. Rex) in ‘Zara Thustra’, ‘Aero-Space’ and ‘Rock Song 13’, his sentimental side in ‘One Thing Before I Go’ - even ‘country’ in ‘Pitstop’!
How about the sing-a-long ‘Something Out There’, the glorious melodies and arrangements of ‘African Jesus’ and ‘The Truth Is Not Enough’, both with choruses to die for, plus a couple of gentle instrumentals to ease you in and out of the album? That’s not all the album covered either! Certainly we have here a ‘new phase’ SK!
He’s really hitting some stride with ‘The Idyllist’, and ‘Garage Sutra’ for that matter, I hope he continues the pace. Whether with poetry, prose, painting or music, this guy is here to create! Onwards and upwards Mr. K!
I’m a little late with this one, but another worthwhile listen lately has been the 2011 album by The Waterboys - ‘An Appointment With Mr. Yeats’. I’ve very fond memories of seeing the band at their peak (the so-called ‘Big Music’ days) and have always found Mike Scott an interesting artist who is never afraid to step aside from the expectations put upon him and follow his own path. He has lost his way once or twice, but his career is always worth investigating.
So, here I am with this album that collects a few choice poems by WB Yeats that Scott has ‘adapted for song’.
I’ve always thought that poetry works well with music, and for me it’s easier to appreciate words if they’re sung rather than written on a page. The emotion comes through better. I’m as easily swept away by a subtle chord change as I am by a couple of choice lines that knock me back in time, or stir an emotion deep within, and Scott really has achieved this in spades on ‘An Appointment…’ He obviously has an affinity for the poetry of Yeats, and certainly his singing of it on this album is probably his best ever.
Nowhere is this marriage of words and music complete than on track 2 ‘Song Of Wandering Aengus’…
’I went out to the hazel wood because a fire was in my head…’
No idea why, but I love that line! Listen to how Scott sings it…
The mood of the music too is overpowering, mostly melancholic, until the stirring refrain of ‘the silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun’ section…Phew! I turn through emotions with every listen.
‘A Full Moon In March’ too…
’I sing a song of Jack and Jill, Jill had murdered Jack…The moon shone brightly, the moon shone brightly…’
Oh, man, the intensity of the performance...
Always known for interesting instrumentation, Scott continues the trend with this album – there’s not only guitars, but an array of keyboard/string sounds, flute and horns, the familiar violin, plus female vocals.
Excellent up-close production too (listen to the flute solo at the end of earlier mentioned ‘Aengus’, you can hear the intake of breath between each passage.)
Not a difficult album at all for me to play from start to finish and then again some…
He’s still making the ‘Big Music’ - I don’t think he ever left it behind. Whether delivered electric or acoustic – it’s always full of passion!
Finally, I recently received another intriguing album by the mysterious Frugal Puritan. Although I have an inkling of who is behind the moniker, I’m more than happy to listen uninformed, and appreciate the sounds. So, what do we have?
Well, it’s a mellow, loosely Christian psych folk affair with gentle vocals, in the tradition of The Trees Community, Water Into Wine Band et al.
The music is mainly acoustic based, but there are some really lovely electric guitar passages here and there, and they’re particularly effective in ‘(Give The Lord A) Handclap’ (it’s Bo Diddley’s beat, but not as we know it!) and the smouldering ‘Seven Stars’, my favourite track on the album. This is powerful music…
Two instrumentals ‘Dives & Lazarus Intro’ and ‘Dives & Lazarus Outro’ bookend the album, and are really beautiful pieces of music too…
The more I play it through, the more I appreciate the beauty of ‘Frugal Puritan’ as an album…It'll remain a while longer in my 'current play' stack!
Until next time…
The debut album ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities’ by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner is in constant rotation here at the moment.
After two fast sell out singles (I completely missed the first one) I couldn’t wait to hear this, and a very intriguing listen it is too.
Hear the disc for the first time and the ‘pocket symphonies’ of Brian Wilson are an obvious influence. Listen again, and you find there’s more to Gardner’s music than being a straight copy of the ‘sunshine and surf’ vibe.
Like Wilson, Gardner constructs very intricate tunes, heavily reliant on keyboards (harpsichord and waves of mellotron – beautifully played) with a slightly ‘eerie’ feel to them. The ¾ time of ‘Watching The Moon’ for example - but then anything in ¾ time spooks me! It’s Victoriana revisited. The blurred image of a ‘top hatted’ Gardner on the inside sleeve of the album not only brings to mind 1965 Dylan, but also fog, cobblestones and horse drawn carriages!
The single side ‘Where Will You Go’ has that wonderful dreamy, drifting quality of Manfred Mann’s ‘Up The Junction’ era while the instrumental title track has a timeless quality to it.
It’s difficult to explain how this album makes me feel, but reflective is probably the best description. It’s the same feeling I get listening to Duncan Browne (the track ‘On The Bombsite’ in particular) and John Bromley. Yes, a Brit influence is strong on ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities’. Listen to the ‘other worldly’ vocals - it could be Syd Barrett singing! The final track ‘The Ballad Of Little Jane’ in particular.
Definitely something very special about ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities’. The songs sound better the more you hear them. It’s got to be hard not to like this album. It could even be considered a classic one day, I kid not!
Don’t miss the chance to hear it now…
Until the next time.
Three releases landed here recently that have been played repeatedly since. Three releases that make me want to listen to them. There’s been no effort involved on my part. Remember when sometimes just the look of a sleeve, an enthusiastic sleeve note, an interesting set of song titles or a recognised name in the credits could sell you on some music before you’d even heard it?
Firstly, the White Sails debut album. This new project features Leigh Gregory (Mellow Drunk, Memory’s Mystic Band) and Ville Vilpponen (dora flood, Bias, Memory’s Mystic Band) and Jaakko Vilpponen (Bias, Memory’s Mystic Band)…
Wait a minute! Mellow Drunk and dora flood? These bands have been a big part of the day to day listening here at Heyday for over a decade now. Here we go again…
Actually, this album has been eagerly awaited here since the two track taster CD arrived last October. It doesn’t disappoint either…
Leigh’s sing-speak vocal (a little huskier these days) and turn of phrase remains intact... ‘Waiting for the last boat, stuck in Normandy, sitting on the sea wall, staring out to sea…’ he sings in ‘Just One Wish’ and there I am again in Calais, many moons ago, in the freezing cold, waiting for a boat to get back to Blighty…It’s uncanny, just one phrase out of nowhere again, and I’m taken back years. Don’t get me started on some of the lyrics to his solo album ‘1973’ from a few years ago!
What’s really hits me about this album is the music, particularly the very effective guitar playing. It compliments Leigh throughout, either by following the vocal melody, or playing off the lyrics in a ‘call and response’ style. The soloing is never flash, and every note played is for a reason. Just strap on the headphones and follow it more closely.
Listen further, and you begin to appreciate the keyboards. Piano pretty much takes the lead on ‘All Of My Days’ and ‘Sunday Afternoon’, while organ is used on most of the other tracks. It’s only just about there in the mix - listen hard - but is a big part in the overall mood of the songs. Very subtle.
The final track ‘Seaside’ is the one. The music ‘becomes the sea’ much like the Velvet Underground achieved on ‘Ocean’. Guitars are waves and the drum cymbals crash as they reach the ‘shore’. Best track on the album.
Every song on this album ‘ends’, there are no fade outs. No song is ever longer than it should be either. ‘White Sails’ is precision from start to finish and…marvellous!
Next up is the debut by UK band Honey Pot, entitled ‘To The Edge Of The World’. The promo blurb mentions the band being influenced by the 60s UK and West Coast sounds. Promising me thinks, particularly with song titles like ‘Comly’s Honey Jar’, ‘Paper Garden’, ‘Sweet Orange Sunshine’ and ‘Hazy Recollections’…
Yes, this album’s got a 60s vibe, and first listens confirm this, but it’s not totally retro. It’s actually all about the vocals this time for me.
The male-female harmonies and sharing of lead vocal duties throughout the band are all well arranged and executed. I really enjoy ‘Florence’ with it’s ‘Deram Bowie’ lead and Small Faces-like sing-a-long chorus! Ray Davies would enjoy this one too, no doubt! ‘Comly’s Honey Jar’ keeps up the 60s UK influence, while other songs like ‘Paper Garden’ and ‘Sweet Orange Sunshine’ exude that West Coast Sunshine Pop/Folk Rock feel that the Rev-Ola label reissued regularly a while back with Eternity’s Children et al.
The more I listen, the better it all sounds. There’s the Mod Soul feel of ‘Roses Will Grow’, the bluesy (and slightly sinister) ‘Black Penny Avenue’ plus the instrumental ‘Dave’s Groove’. This one would go down a storm if they were the house band at the Scotch Of St. James!
An enjoyable release and a few of these songs aren’t that far away from ‘Fading Yellow’ or ‘Soft Sounds For Gentle People’ territory either.
Finally, a new mini album by Swedish band Dean Allen Foyd. Released in March, I think this is the first new music from them since their promising debut album was released last year.
‘Road To Atlas’ is a five tracker and an exciting journey evoking the sounds of late 60s/early 70s Blues Rock Psych. First track ‘Sadness Of Mankind’ from its opening guitar signature lands you right in late 60s SF, and it’s so ‘free’! It’s this freedom with their music that appeals to me most about the band. It’s also the reason I like the work of Jack Ellister too. Every track is like a wild journey, you’ve no idea where you’ll end up…The playing is so tight, the influence of Zappa and The Mothers never too far away….
Anyone into fellow Swedes The Soundtrack Of Our Lives will appreciate ‘Insects’, the second track. I thought it was SOOL at first! Again, it’s not about ‘three chords and a cloud of dust’ or verses and choruses, this is a trip!
Next up ‘Leave Me Be’ allows the band to exercise their Blues Rock chops, while the last couple of tracks ‘HWY Lost (Revisited)’ and ‘Road To Atlas’ make DAF sound better than some long lost West Coast band you’ve never heard of.
At just over 20 minutes long I couldn’t help hitting ‘repeat’ several times over to listen again. Love it!
I’ll check in again soon.
Fruits De Mer are busy this year already!
February sees the release of their Hollies tribute ‘Re-Evolution : FdM Sings The Hollies’ LP + 7” and the Soft Hearted Scientists collection ‘Whatever Happened To…’ double LP + 7” set. CDR promos arrived recently.
The tracks on ‘Re-Evolution’ are better than the originals in my opinion. Concentrating mainly on the work of the ‘psychedelic’ Hollies, many of these re-interpretations tend to look East with the use of sitars and drones, which is never a problem to listen to here at Heyday! Seventh Ring Of Saturn (‘All The World Is Love’), Jay Tausig (‘Elevated Observations’) and King Penguin (‘Dear Eloise’) deserve a special mention here, but I can’t ignore the two versions of ‘Butterfly that bookend the LP by Beautify Junkyards & Us and Them. Beautify Junkyards turn the song virtually to a chant - there’s definitely a spiritual vibe to the sound, while Us & Them seduce the listener once again. You can’t help but be charmed by this duo. Beautiful music!
Elsewhere, Bevis Frond perform an excellent world weary version of ‘Hard Hard Year’ and there can’t be many people who will have trouble relating to the lyrics, a very apt choice. There’s the element of pop too by the Re-Stoned (‘Then The Heartaches Begin’), Gathering Grey (‘Postcard’) and Langor (‘Everything Is Sunshine’) while moonweevil turn ‘Bus Stop’ upside down and inside out in Cranium Pie fashion to take first prize in the ‘If I Hadn’t Read The Track List, I’d Never Have Recognised The Song’ category…
It’s one of those compilations where there’s a new favourite with every listen. The sign of a good compilation right? An excellent start to a new year of listening!
Welsh wizards Soft Hearted Scientists are no strangers here at Heyday, I fell under their spell when they appeared a few years ago with a couple of interesting CDEPs. Unfortunately a few mishaps with labels made their subsequent releases either very difficult to obtain, or even find at all in some cases. I remember buying promo/advance copies of some of their releases second hand as the finished item never appeared, or if it did, I may have blinked and missed it!
Thankfully Fruits De Mer have collected their best work so far and even some new recordings, but you can’t guarantee it hanging around for long again - not because of the label disappearing this time (I couldn’t bear the thought!) but the speed with which FdM releases sell out!
Like a lot of Welsh bands in recent years (the Gorky’s in particular), the Soft Hearted Scientists influences are varied, so there are a few whimsical moments, folky touches and 'Syd psych' influences. The result is always interesting, very hypnotic too.
The mood is mostly reflective, with some lyrics that can really hit you. Often I’ll be listening to the band, a line will come out of nowhere and suddenly I find myself thinking about something from years ago.
What a coincidence that they cover ‘Whatever Happened to You’ (the theme from the 70s UK TV comedy series ‘The Likely Lads’) on this album! I remember watching that programme when I was growing up, I’d be about ten or twelve, and whenever the theme song came on I’d suddenly become very moved by it all. As much as I loved the programme, the theme music went deeper.
The same feelings came back while listening to The Soft Hearted Scientists sing the song. I’m so glad they didn’t add the ‘tomorrow’s almost over, the days went by so fast, it’s the only thing to look forward to, the past’ part or I’d be inconsolable! It’s been a long time since the 70s…No other song I know sums up growing older better than this one…
Another well put together collection, ‘Whatever Happened to..’ features favourites such as ‘Mount Palomar’, ‘Brother Sister’ and the epic ‘The Caterpillar Song’ too. There is a taster of their forthcoming album as well - I can’t wait! The band are a treasure.
Finally, just before I go, I’d like to mention that the year end double CD freebie for FdM members ‘The Crabs Freak Out / Sell Out’ is an absolute blast! Christmas has always been about ‘selection boxes’ I guess, and man, what a wide selection of music is on this set! Too much to mention here now, but I really enjoyed the contributions from Chemistry Set, Vespero, Vert:x, Anla Courtis, Helicon and in particular Seventh Ring Of Saturn (‘Pillsbury Palace’ – what a track!)…
Thanks Keith, and all the artists who contributed…Marvellous! Don’t hesitate, become a member of FdM, there’s no label quite like ‘em…
I’ll be back soon…
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