Posts Tagged review

Date: October 12th, 2014
Cate: new releases

The Young Sinclairs | This Is


One of the most anticipated releases of the year, here’s The Young Sinclairs’… 8th (?) album. It’s called This Is the Young Sinclairs and is out now on Ample Play. As completists will know, the Sinclairs have had a habit of repeating songs over several releases. The new LP is no exception, with the a-side collecting single tracks from the last five or so years. It’s a fantastic chance to own signature YS tracks like “You’re Tied” and “Mona Lisa”, that have only been available on tape before. The devout fan will even also have heard the beautifully languid “Never Uneasy”, a demo of which was posted a few years ago.

The biggest surprise may be the inclusion of a track from singer Sam Lunsford’s self-titled debut album on the a-side. “I Just Wanted to Help” was one of the best of that set of West Coast soft psychedelia. But in fact, this number sets the tone for the rest of the LP – as you flip it over –  the Young Sinclairs sound even more like the one-man-band it’s more or less become the last few years. It is less jangly, more stripped but at the same time laden with studio finery. Just like on Sam’s solo LP these bare-bones arrangements really highlight his prowess with a melody. “That’s All Right” could a been a long lost Dylan demo sung down a phone line. There are echoes of Colin Blunstone and Emmitt Rhodes here and there, and the standout track is “Dead End Street” with its shuffling drums and tugging vocal sounding like it could have drifted in through the window on a San Francisco street in 1968. It will no doubt be interesting to see what Lunsford/YS can churn out in this vein in the future. This stuff  here is already timeless.

Date: August 9th, 2014
Cate: Music

The Belltowers | No Matter 7″


Is this the best looking 45, or just the best 45 this year? Readers of Record Turnover will be well familiar with American 12-string pluckers The Belltowers, after releasing one brilliant EP a few years ago. Here they are now, finally, with their first record to their name and a full LP in the making. Two incredibly strong originals here, hard to believe they’re not covers actually. “No Matter” starts off with fuzz topped by a 12-string riff, like all those Byrds-wannabe tunes (cf. Dennis & the Times “Just If She’s There). Except this is so close to the real deal it’s creepy. It moves between major and minor with remarkable sublety and dives into a phasing-equipped psych out for the last 30 seconds. “She’s Gone” is a classic moody folk-rocker, that would make even The Higher State proud, with a solo full of overdrive. Song-writer Paul Mutchler has penned a proper double-sider here, get it from Hidden Volume now.

Hidden Volume is definitely a new label to watch. Apart from The Belltowers, they’ve also put out a 45 by The Ar-Kaics who are one of the hottest garage outfits right now. You might remember our post about their very first 45 a few years ago. This year they’ve have been busy, and you can read my review of their debut LP on Windian soon. This spring they have put out 45s on Windian, Steady Sounds and as mentioned “Sick & Tired” on Hidden Volume. This tough 45 still features their original, no-bass line up. Hear it here.

Date: February 12th, 2013
Cate: new releases
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Jacco Gardner | Cabinet of Curiosities


I won’t withhold that Cabinet of Curiosities is one my most anticipated debut longplayers of the year. Jacco Gardner impressed everyone with his Trouble In Mind 45 “Where Will You Go” last year. A single deeply ensconced in Curt Boettcher and Gary Usher’s production style, but still with one foot in Gardner’s native 60s sound, known as nederbeat. His first LP is a shimmering wonderland of psych-pop, that includes both of his previous singles. Trouble In Mind should be proud to have put out one of the early contenders for 2013’s best album. Gardner’s vision is complete, he doesn’t do covers and the only outward reference I can find is “The Ballad of Little Jane” which must be a nod to British popsike and groups like Timon (who recorded the classic “The Bitter Thoughts of Little Jane”). In general the lyrical themes are darker than Millenium’s somewhat light fare, and at times approach Syd Barrett’s introspection. One of the most memorable melodies is that of “Lullaby”, driven by a picked guitar. “The Riddle” is probably the track that most resembles Gardner’s previous album with The Skywalkers, and on most of the tracks organs and electric pianos are still prominent. Apart from the single tracks “Where Will You Go” and “Clear the Air”, I think the strongest song is the title track, which could have been an instrumental by Air, almost. The drumming and organ playing also brings my thoughts round to Broadcast at their most analogue. Although there’s track called “Summer’s Game”, the record sounds perfect for early autumn. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it now!

Trouble In Mind are simultaneously putting out a companion album by West Coast studio project Maston, recorded by one Frank Maston. Shadows is a short 10-track album with several instrumentals that bear an almost cinematic quality, much like later Mercury Rev. On the tracks that do have vocals, they blend into the wall of sound and serve little function apart from melody. Most of songs sound inspired by Brian Wilson (just like The Explorers Club were on their first album) but there are also echoes of a folker side (Lee Hazlewood Industries?), especially on “Messages”, which is my favourite track. Maston’s first album is perhaps most interesting as a soundscape, but with more focus on the vocals and lyrics there should be some amazing pop songs lurking in there.

And did I mention that The Limiñanas recent TIM single La fille de la ligne 15 is most excellent? I’ve already played the single by Fuzz (Segall & Moonheart) at my club night, and it definitely turned a few heads.

Date: December 11th, 2012
Cate: new releases

Mmoss | Only Children

It’s almost time to wrap up 2012 and its best albums and singles. Many of which I haven’t had time to mention! So let’s talk about one record that will definitely be on my list, and that has already turned up in a few other ones. Mmoss come from New Hampshire and their new album Only Children might give both them and their new label Trouble In Mind some much-deserved exposure. Burger, who have proved once again this year that they are the best at picking up on promising bands, released the first Mmoss album last year. No one noticed of course, which is also Burger’s curse. With Only Children, Mmoss have garnered comparisions to as widely varying outfits at Pink Floyd, The Byrds and Ant Trip Ceremony. The fact is, that this 9-track LP may be favourably compared to much any critically acclaimed psych/pop album of the 60s and 70s. Not only do they live and breathe the sound, which we’ve seen a lot of bands do this year (not least Cosmonauts and Woods), but the composition and arrangement of the songs bear a degree of complexity not many bands can be bothered about these days. The only thing that would have kept this album from becoming legendary had it been released in 1968 are the vocals, which play a minor role here (something I feel is sadly also the case with another one of 2012’s best releases, from By the Sea). “War Sux” isn’t 10 minutes long because they decided that before finishing it, which some of the songs on Toy’s recent debut give the effect of. It merely goes on until is has emptied every musical potential it holds. Another strong point for the album is the circular fullness, beginning and ending with with the companion tracks “Spoiled Sun” and “Spoiled Son”. It’s an album that doesn’t feel like it stops between songs – apart from flipping it over, the 40 minutes feel like a complete experience. Listen on spotify, particularly to my favourite track “Okay” that could have been a single if they needed one.

Date: November 26th, 2012
Cate: new releases
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The Resonars | Crummy Desert Sound

I came late to the Resonars party. I first heard Matt Rendon’s one-man band maybe a year or so after his fourth LP That Evil Drone was released. Signs of life in the shape of the Trouble In Mind 45 “Long Long Thoughts” earlier this year were followed by talk of a new album. Naturally, I was very excited about this. Since coming across The Resonars they’ve sort of become my favourite band of the late 90s / early 00s. They seemed to be largely reinvigorated after hooking up with Burger a year or so ago. Burger is a label that fully appreciates Rendon’s uniquely authentic take on mid-60s beat and late 70s powerpop. Not only have they reissued every album on cassette and vinyl (including the 1999 masterpiece Bright & Dark), they’ve also put out a ‘best of’ LP and inspired Rendon to get a proper live band together.

A couple of months ago the amazing “I Didn’t Feel So Cold Then” appeared on their Kitty Tape double-cassette compilation. A page straight out of the Bright & Dark book, it might as well have been a track from the upcoming album. That’s the beauty of The Resonars – the consequent and personal vision of Rendon permeates all of their recordings. (Don’t miss the outtake “Lisa Bright and Dark”, an 8-minute Smile-style opus that appeared last week.)

It turned out not be a new album track, and rather than the band’s jangly Rickenbacker side Crummy Desert Sounds showcases their amped-up power chord side, evident from previous classics like “Gina”, “No Problem At All”, “Funny Old World” and “Black Breath”. This record packs a punch that not many albums have since the heyday of Andrew Loog Oldham and Shel Talmy. In fact Rendon’s speciality has been recapturing the moment when well-behaved beat music merged with light psychedelia in Britain 1966-67. We get a taste of that here, in the coulda been Graham Gouldman composition “I Had a Dream”. Rather than the Beatles or the Stones, this album looks to the triumvirate of The Hollies, The Seachers and The Kinks. One of the most impressive tracks is “Midtown Island” that break things up a bit midway with its time changes and In Crowd-era Steve Howe solo. All in all this is a very strong album, with harmonies to die for, impeccably produced and difficult to tire of. I can’t see how any other albums from this year can compete with that. Listen to the second track “Invisible Gold” here. And for more on The Resonars, here’s an interview which promises an upcoming Trouble In Mind LP as well.

Date: November 26th, 2012
Cate: new releases

The Sugar Stems | Can’t Wait

Your favourite powerpop group Sugar Stems are back with their second longplayer! Switching from Austrian to German labels after a couple of singles on Certified PR, Can’t Wait now drops on Screaming Apple. Featuring both of their recent a-sides, it’s an incredibly solid piece of work. The first album Sweet Sounds of… had a couple of tracks that were just unstoppable – I’m thinking of “I Gotta Know” and “Crybaby” – but fell just short of matching that quality throughout. Now they’ve raised the bar, upped the fidelity slightly and reined in some of the most careening songs. There’s one moment on the LP when they shine as brilliantly as The Innocents or The Shivvers ever did. “Love You to Pieces” is the penultimate song and a gorgeous midtempo number with one of those guitar solos that lead into a key change, before settling into yet another key for the last few bars. But almost every single song serves up a strong chorus, and melodies that would make Blondie proud parents and Jackie DeShannon a proud grandmother. Other standouts include the chugging title track and the organ-driven “Make Up Your Mind”. The release party is next month, but you can already order a copy from Soundflat if you can’t make that. Listen to “Magic Act” below.

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Date: October 31st, 2012
Cate: new releases

The Basements | I’m Dead

We haven’t heard much from the Greek garage scene since The B-Sides, whose 2009 album was among the best releases of that year. There have been a few signs of life, a single by The Barbara Farmers and a 12″ from stalwarts of the scene The Frantic V. But I was also impressed with The Basements’ debut ep from two years ago. Heart of Stone delivered the goods with moody songs heavy on organ in true Greek garage tradition (think The Cardinals, The Sound Explosion). The Lost In Tyme fanzine and record label who put it out (also home to The Mean Things, The Royal Hangmen, The Way-Outs etc.) must be proud of now being able to present us with the first album by The Basements (and the label’s first LP realease to boot!). With 12 strong numbers, I’m Dead shows that the group is here to stay.

Without resort to cover versions, they stretch the limits of their songwriting with a heavier sound and four songs clocking in above 4 minutes. Fans of their 45 will definitely want to check out “I Wanna Come Back” (not a cover!) with its moody harmonies and successful channelling of The Cardinals’ greatness. “What’s Goin’ On” follows a similar mood, with some howling harmonica licks. But the two strongest songs is the breakneck speed “I Don’t Want You No More” in classic put-down fashion, and the following track “Stray Mood” built on a a riff that’s so catchy it could rival “Little Black Egg”. The LP is rounded off by two slightly psychedelic cuts “Run Away Run” and “Hands On Time”. If The Basements can keep this up for another album they’ll have earned themselves a name not only on the Greek 60s scene but worldwide. I reckon they’ll get a load of European festival spots on the strength of this. Check out “Stray Mood” below!

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Date: August 6th, 2012
Cate: new releases
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Pop Singles | All Gone

It’s easy to think of influences and comparisons when you listen to Melbourne’s Pop Singles. Everything from The Go Betweens and The Triffids (cause they’re Australian) to The Rain Parade and The Teardrop Explodes. But that is only because they, like all other great bands, have understood and digested pop history, distilling it into their extract. They’re not without vision however – that’s important. On their first album All Gone, just realased in Australia, Tam Matlakowski has found his voice as a songwriter and a singer. Rather than adding more guitars, as on their first couple of 7″s (released in 2009-2010), they have stripped down the sound to the bare essentials. You definitely get the feeling Pop Singles have reached their sound by playing live regularly, where the songs can get very energetic (check out a complete recent set from Sydney here). There’s another similarity to The Go-Betweens, whose first album also has the sound of a live recording. But rather than losing the finer details in washes of guitar, the production is kept clean with a minumum of overdubs (the odd bit of guitar and keyboard here and there). This gives the vocals a lot more prescence even though they’re still low in the mix. And this is without a doubt one of the most lyrically interesting albums I’ve heard this year.

This is the title track “All Gone”, a fantastic pop song, and that hook after the third chord is a textbook example of how to write a memorable tune. It’s also doubled on the bass, and in general, the way Peter Bramley’s bass playing interacts with the guitar is a huge part of the sound. His playing is melodic and full of ideas, you can tell he really cares about making the songs work. He’s also the person behind the Vacant Valley label, who have released the album, a true mark of dedication. I hear that copies will be available in Europe soon, via X-Mist. The third member of Pop Singles is drummer Ash Wyatt, who has also played with Velcro. Her drumming is excellent and could even have been a bit more prominent in these recordings. As I recall, it was a joy watching her play when I saw the band way back in 2009, as I’m sure it would have been to see Lindy Morrision live.

All Gone beats about the bush, sort of shunning straight major chords and lilting and wavering on major-sevenths and minors. Some of my favourites are the languid “Overcast”, the strangely positive “Are You Still There?”, and closing track “The Shore”, which starts off very similarly to Primal Scream’s first ‘pop single’ from 1985. Let’s hope Pop Singles don’t follow down the same path, but then again they don’t have a Jim Beattie to lose. Listen to four of the tracks here.

Date: April 15th, 2012
Cate: new releases

The Monochrome Set | Platinum Coils

The Monochrome have returned with their first album since 1995’s Trinity Road. Why is that, you might ask yourself? Singer and principal songwriter Bid had been busy recording and touring with Scarlet’s Well, but with an extensive tour already planned he suffered a hemorrhage in 2010 and spent a long time recovering in hospital. It was then he decided to instead concentrate his energy on the band that had made him a cult figure, and inspired many other groups since the 80’s. That band was The Monchrome Set, who decided to reform and take Scarlet’s Well’s place for the now rescheduled tour. While in hospital, Bid had already started writing for a new album which was recorded at the start of this year and released on their own revived Disquo Bleu label (the name was first used in 1979 to release an alternate version of their first single “He’s Frank” on Rough Trade).

The literal reference Platinum Coils makes to brain treatment sets the tone for most the album, which approaches the subject in both touching and humorous ways. Classic MS subject matter and style is obviously apparent in e.g. “Hip Kitten Spinning” and “Les Cowboys”. Some tracks seem equally suited to the more lilting Scarlet’s Well sound, e.g. “Cauchemar” and “Can’t Control My Feet” (in which Bid manages to rewrite “Concrete & Clay”). While the songwriting is strong as always, I feel some of the tracks suffer from the rather flat mixing that also made the 90’s Monochrome Set albums lose some of their punch. Lester Square is on fine form, and without caricaturing himself delivers his trademark sound and playing style. My favourite track “Waiting For Alberto” brings to mind the greatness of “Espresso” and the group’s Dindisc era. Hear it in the latest podcast. The album is available from Rough Trade and the official site, on cd only.

Date: March 10th, 2012
Cate: new releases

Death and Vanilla | s/t

Finally Malmö group Death and Vanilla unleashes their debut LP, a co-release between local label Kalligramofon (responsible for one of last year’s absolute top records by Testbild!) and French label Hands In the Dark (who’s first release was actually the D&V ep). The album, pressed on brigth yellow vinyl, opens up with the vast spaciousness of “Rituals” that eventually breaks into a groove worthy of Stereolab. On “Dreams of Sheep” they manage to get frighteningly close to Broadcast’s windswept sound. But the group really come intro their own with the 8-minute twofer “Cul De Sac + The Somnambulists”, where their trademark guitar tremolo eventually meshes in with a much more complicated sonic structure. Two other interesting sister tracks are the closing tracks on each side, “The Unseeing Eye” and “The Unseeing I”, which both create an eerie atmosphere using vibraphone and moog respectively. It’s quite a short album, and while “Library Goblin” would have been a natural single choice in its comparable catchiness, they could arguably have fitted another song in. The excellent “Between Circles” e.g., from the Beko CS01 compilation. The album is released on Tuesday, and there’s a launch event at Krets in Malmö on March 24th. Below are two tracks from the album that you can download for free, and be sure to also check out the video for “Rituals”.