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Transparent Blue Vinyl Re-press available, includes Download Card.
Allo Darlin's eponymous debut album runs the spectrum from joyous, breezy, punky, jump-around pop with fabulous harmonies to sparse ukulele and steel guitar heartbreakers.
Singer Elizabeth Morris and bassist Bill Botting form the Australian contingent of the band, and put the band's sunny, optimistic sound down, in part, to the 365 straight days of sunshine they would enjoy back home in Queensland.
There's another band from Queensland called The Go-Betweens who talked about having a 'striped sunlight sound', says Elizabeth. That's always been a quality that I've been chasing in songs.
2. The Polaroid Song
3. Silver Dollars
4. Kiss Your Lips
5. Heartbeat Chilli
6. If Loneliness Was Art
7. Woody Allen
8. Let's Go Swimming
9. My Heart Is A Drummer
10. What Will Be Will Be
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London five-piece Evans the Death return with Vanilla, their most ambitious and experimental album to date, eschewing the more traditional pop structures and hooks of their first two albums, 2012's self-titled debut and 2015's critically acclaimed Expect Delays. While Expect Delays was a step towards something more interesting, more collaborative, experimental and abrasive - a bleak, introspective kind of album that still retained a pop sensibility - Vanilla sees the band veer in an ever more adventurous direction: more aggressive, extroverted and raw.
Named after the undertaker in Dylan Thomas'radio play, Under Milk Wood, the band was formed by brothers Dan and Olly Moss after meeting singer Katherine Whitaker at a Let's Wrestle show. After numerous line-ups, the band is now completed by James Burkitt on drums and Daniel Raphael on bass. The new album was recorded at Lightship95 in London with producer Rory Attwell, who worked on both of their previous records. Highly variegated in style and mood, brimming with extreme contrasts, from noisy to funky to melodic, energetic to dejected, full of chaos and restlessness, the album was the result of a carefully planned recording strategy, as Dan Moss explains:
'We deliberately booked very little time in the studio, and we pretty much did everything live, together in the room - there was no trying to fix any mistakes. What you hear is very close to what we did in that moment - so technically, while it isn't overly polished or slick, it's a very high fidelity recording - an accurate reproduction of the original source. I think that gives it more of an urgency and honesty than the first two. We decided to limit ourselves to 8 tracks and this meant we were restricted in how much we could alter things after recording, and the amount of overdubs we could do - which is what we wanted.'
With no specific musical reference point, the songs on Vanilla veer wildly in style, lending a real energy and vitality to the flow of the album. There's the psychedelic snarl of 'Haunted Wheelchair' built around dissonant, ominous, jazz-like chords, which build a sense of dread and paranoia but also a strange excitement. Dan explains: 'I wasn't getting enough sleep. Then before recording the song, while on my way to a party I got assaulted out of the blue, and I had to have surgery for a broken jaw. I used that incident to hang the lyrics on, but really it's about that strange feeling I was already having anyway.'
There's also the no-wave party vibe of 'Suitcase Jimmy', a semi-improvised portrait of a fictional down-at-heel actor built around a Wilko Johnson-ish guitar part. 'Hey! Buddy' is an 'unintentionally mean-spirited' askew pop tune from the point of view of a cloying and over-zealous fan of the band. While the wartime dancehall of 'Cable St. Blues' is an odd duet between two parts of the psyche, representing 'an argument you have with yourself, about depression and extreme self-criticism and self-doubt, struggling to function', and named after the site of the 1936 riots where the band wrote the album. 'I wanted the end to sound like a New Orleans jazz funeral', says Dan.
Newest member Daniel Raphael's present to the band, 'Hot Sauce' is led by a groovy, capacious bassline, while Olly's 'Armchair Theatre', the quietest, prettiest song on the record, starts out like a soft rock classic and turns in to a gorgeously mournful song with the lyric 'I took you to the park / kickin'through used Johnnies and dry leaves'. And 'Welcome to Usk' drews on Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western soundtracks and parts of Vivian Kubrick's score for Full Metal Jacket, with a banging disco section thrown in for good measure. 'When we first got this song right I got so excited I threw up my dinner', says Dan. 'It has three different time signatures!'
A dark, howling, ragged storm of an album, impossible to categorise, Vanilla is anything but - a far cry from the bland, unimaginative music that pervades the airwaves. It is a brittle, brilliant new chapter in the story of a band who never fail to surprise.
1. Haunted Wheelchair
2. Suitcase Jimmy
3. No Imitations
4. Hey! Buddy
5. Cable St. Blues
7. Hot Sauce
8. Armchair Theatre
9. Welcome to Usk
10. European Bison
£5.99Stereolab-meet-Saloon style spacerock.Visit product page →
Includes a Silver Apples cover.
Main man Joni Hunter later became Discordia.
'fuzzy, stoned post-Krautrock, rather like the Delgados in a blender.' (Melody Maker).
1. Hard Sums
2. Blackberry Motorist
3. Outer Circle
5. Do Daisies Have Ghosts ?
1. Amory Elaine
2. When I Lived On Page 56
3. Spread The Tikka
5. Pale Flags
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Martha return with their second album Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart in July, via Fortuna POP! (UK/EU) and Dirtnap Records (US). Produced again by MJ from Hookworms, the album explores the difficulties in staying political, staying passionate and staying punk over the course of eleven expertly crafted pop songs.
Hailing from Pity Me near Durham, Martha play energetic, impassioned power pop with intricate vocal interplay and lush four-part harmonies, informed by 90s indie rock and contemporary garage punk. The band is comprised of J. Cairns (guitar), Daniel Ellis (guitar), Naomi Griffin (bass), and Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums). All four members sing and write the songs. Daniel and Nathan also play in Onsind, while Naomi also plays in No Ditching. Their debut album 'Courting Strong' came out in 2014 and was included in NPR's top 50 albums of that year, winning them the epithet 'One of Britain's best rock bands'.
If the band's first album, 'Courting Strong', was about punks growing up, then 'Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart' is about grown-ups staying punk. It's an album about trying to stay creative and passionate and making the most of everything in spite of the many obstacles that get in the way. It documents the way things like work, money, expectations and mental health issues can impact on your ability to do the things you want to do and be the person you want to be. It's about resistance to those things. It's about finding strength and solace in friendships, love, and taking motivation from the people in your life who really inspire you.
As Nathan explains: 'Playing music is something that is really important to all of us, but it's also something that takes a lot of time and energy and emotional strain. This record is for everyone who leads a secret double life, devoting every weekend, every day of annual leave, all of their disposable income, every drop of creative energy to something as ethereal as music and art. It's about persevering and still doing the things you love, even when most normal people can't understand why on earth you do it.'
Taking inspiration from such likely and unlikely sources as The Replacements, Heart, Billy Bragg, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, The Go-Gos and Radiator Hospital, the album bursts into life with 'Christine', 'a love song filtered through the messiness of anxiety and night terror' that takes inspiration from 'Threads', the British TV drama of the 1980s about nuclear war, and is followed by the rousing 'Chekhov's Hangnail', with backing vocals from Ellis Jones of Trust Fund.
The catchy 'Precarious (The Supermarket Song)' finds romance in the washing powder aisle, while 'Goldman's Detective Agency' shows the band's playful side as they re-imagine 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private eye vanquishing corrupt cops and politicians. Nearly every song here is a potential single, from the infectious 'Do Whatever' and '11:45, Legless In Brandon' to outsider anthem 'The Awkward Ones' and the Billy Bragg / Coronation Street-referencing 'Curly and Raquel'. The album concludes with 'St Paul's (Westerberg Comprehensive)', a song about being caught up in the toxic culture of a Catholic comprehensive school. 'It's for the kids who had the guts to be queer at school and for those who didn't figure themselves out until they got out of school. '
Following a Glastonbury appearance last year at the personal invitation of Billy Bragg, the band will be playing UK dates in July and August before taking to the stage at End Of The Road in September. It's going to be a busy old time for the band, what with double lives and everything, but, with passion and love dripping out of every second of 'Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart', you know they'll find a way.
2. Chekhov's Hangnail
3. Precarious (The Supermarket Song)
4. Do Whatever
5. Goldman's Detective Agency
6. The Awkward Ones
7. Icecream And Sunscreen
8. 11:45, Legless In Brandon
9. Curly & Raquel
10. Do Nothing
11. St. Paul's (Westerberg Comprehensive)
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500 only LP.
Nearly 20 years since releasing their first cassette album, Milky Wimpshake unveil their fifth 'proper' album Heart And Soul In The Milky Way, due out on Fortuna POP! in February 2013. Recorded in a single day, it consists of 15 more songs from the pop/punk chocolate assortment box which the band have raided for so many years: love songs, silly songs, songs about obsolete items of stationary and such like, all set to a basic guitar buzz and kick drum combo.
The album bristles with spontaneous excitement due to the success of the live recording with no overdubs, giving Heart And Soul In The Milky Way a much rawer, yet fresher feel than their previous albums, with the likes of "Worthless Person" veering towards Billy Childish garage rock territory.
Milky Wimpshake have produced the strongest set of songs of their career from the subterranean homesick opener 'Chemical Spray', with its arbitrary rhymes and taking-the-piss guitar break, the innuendo-laden 'On Top', full of maudlin indie-pop melodicism and the closing duet 'Without You' which covers the same theme as six million other songs and yet still manages to raise a smile.
While the majority of the album features compositions by frontman Pete Dale (also head of the legendary indie label Slampt), there are two covers, including a punked-up version of 'Lah-Di-Dah', a song by Jake Thackray, a singer-songwriter who had some success in the 1960s and 70s with often-lewd lyrics which he used to croon with wonderfully tired eyes.
There is also a version of 'Omnia Mea Mecum Porto' by North East underground group Les Cox (Sportifs). The song's title means 'everything I own goes where I go' and contains hilarious lyrics about the anxiety of an impending day's work. Milky Wimpshake isn't the kind of band which expects to sell out big venues, top the charts or get chased by screaming fans: it's simple music, with simple sentiments for folk smart enough to see that sometimes simplicity works like a charm.
1. Chemical Spray
2. On Top
3. You Are The Bomb
5. La Di Da
6. (I'll Be Your) Subject/Object
8. Uncool Jerk
9. Omnia Mea Mecum Porto
10. The Mirror Stage
11. (I'm A) Worthless Person
12. Letraset Angle
13. Without You
£3.99Great album that combines Jeff Greene's strung out psychedelic classics with Dan Greene's undoubted ear for a pop tune.Visit product page →
Features the singles wintertime queen', the mutation'and dream driver'.
'intense, beautifully melancholic pop music with something of the spirit of galaxie 500, a touch of Spector, a rub of The Who, even a pinch of Procul Harum or the Zombies' (soundsxp).
'yearning melodies and softly-softly harmonies (think the Go-Betweens), a back-porch swing (Lambchop, Maybe), tentative yet high-tensile guitar work (Velvet Underground, Pavement)' (Timeout).
'a glorious album that slowly drips into your psyche with songs that drift into your heart and set up camp for days.' (Tangents)
1. Over It And Over It
2. Dream Driver
3. Belt And Shoelaces
4. Bad Habit
5. Get Ready!
1. The Mutation
2. Tour Of Her Head
3. She's An Heiress
4. Wintertime Queen
6. 100th Floor
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The debut album from Edinburgh quartet The Spook School brings together 13 (mostly) very noisy guitar pop songs, the culmination of four people making a lot of noise about gender and about identity.
Inspired by the post-punk-pop of The Buzzcocks, Lou Reed's 'Transformer' and the films of Buster Keaton, with a dash of 60s pop for good measure, The Spook School are Nye Todd on guitar with Adam Todd also on guitar and Anna Cory on bass, not forgetting Niall McCamley who plays drums, tells jokes and takes his clothes off.
They all sing and shout and write the music together. There is no leader and no 'frontperson'. They're a band.
1. Are You Who You Think You Are?
2. I'll Be Honest
3. You Make It Sound So Easy
4. I Don't Know
5. The Cameraman
7. Can You Ever Trust A Man Who Think Matt Damon's Really Cool?
8. What A Pity
9. Devil of Mine
10. That's When I Ran Away
11. You Don't Know
13. Who Ya Gonna Call? Goat Buster!
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The long awaited second album New Gods by WITHERED HAND (aka Edinburgh based folk-rock troubadour Dan Willson) will be released in March via Fortuna POP! (UK/Europe) and Slumberland (US/Canada).
The eleven meditations on love, fidelity and transience therein see Willson's songwriting hit dizzying heights: by turns confessional and melancholy, raucous and life-affirming; his trademark dark humour turned down a wee notch; life, in all its many facets, turned up to full.Active in the world of visual art and dabbling in music for many years, Dan Willson came late to singing and songwriting at age 30, in a period of reflection between the death of a close friend and the birth of his first child. The resultant material, much of which went on to become the album Good News, was praised for its depth and startling honesty, and won him accolades from the likes of Rolling Stone and Mojo, as well as fans from Jarvis Cocker to Marc Riley.
The ensuing years saw him embraced by the now defunct Fife-based musical powerhouse the Fence Collective and his songs picked up by MTV and cult series Skins.A prolific live performer, recent Withered Hand shows have included Pam Berry of seminal 90s US noisepop band Black Tambourine (who also contributes vocals to the new album) amid a rotating cast of musical friends embellishing Dan's exuberant and original songwriting, alongside his fragile and uplifting solo performances.Aided by a grant from arts council body Creative Scotland, New Gods saw Withered Hand entering a proper studio for the first time to work with legendary Scottish producer Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, Mountain Goats, Teenage Fanclub), and features guest appearances from a veritable who's who of Scottish music including King Creosote, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, and members of Belle & Sebastian (Stevie Jackson, Chris Geddes) and Frightened Rabbit (Scott Hutchison).Across the eleven songs on New Gods, Willson deals with the big stuff: love, death, friendship, infidelity, road trips, stargazing and cough mixture abuse. First single proper, the magnificent 'Horseshoe', kicks off proceedings with its plaintive entreaty Please don't put a shadow on her lung. Love and the fear of loss is the theme here. Nobody you love will ever die, sings Dan.
It's followed by the album taster track 'Black Tambourine', the purest pop song on the album, an anti-hipster anthem that jangles in all the right places. 'King Of Hollywood' details a night in LA with Willson's friend and mentor King Creosote, Willson's keen eye for detail as hilarious as ever, while title track 'New Gods' sees him transported to Switzerland, cutting across the fields at night and staring up at the Milky Way, like a huge ribbon across the sky, infinitely beautiful and humbling.
This is widescreen pop music par excellence.The five years since Good News was recorded has seen Willson honing his craft, building his audience and gaining critical momentum. The new album is a beautifully executed collection of songs from one of Scotland's most gifted songwriters.
2. Black Tambourine
3. Love Over Desire
4. King Of Hollywood
6. Fall Apart
7. Between True Love And Ruin
8. Life Of Doubt
9. New Gods
10. Heart Heart
11. Not Alone