30 Sept 2012

Listen To The Sufis Remixed By The Time & Space Machine

As if searching for the answer to a question that no one had even thought to ask, the Sufis have magically come up with a way to make their fabulous track "Sri Sai Flora" even better - hand it over to Richard Norris A.K.A The Time & Space Machine for a remix.
Listen to the radio edit below :

Watch the video for Neil Young & Crazy Horse's "Walk Like A Giant"

The video clip for Neil Young and Crazy Horse's "Walk like a Giant" has been released online.
It features an edited, single length cut of the track. The full length (16 minute) version will appear on "Psychedelic Pill", which is set to be released on October 30, with a vinyl release to follow in November. "Psychedelic Pill" will be the first album of new original material from Neil and the Horse since 2003, and the first with the full Crazy Horse line-up since 1996's "Broken Arrow".

Watch the video for "Walk Like a Giant" below.

Maston - Voyages Review

Bandcamp Download

Every now and then I stumble on something really special on Bandcamp, and Maston's "Voyages" may be the most intriguing accidental discovery I've found yet.
A ( seeming ) one-man band project incorporating everything from vintage psychedelic pop to exotica, sixties space pop and Ennio Morricone style soundscapes, Frank Maston offers a uniquely cinematic take on psychedelia that should appeal to fans of Pepe Deluxe, Broadcast and Spindrift without really sounding a jot like any of them.
Split 50/50 between vocal and instrumental tracks, there's a woozy undercurrent of carnivale present that gives this a nostalgic and melancholy air, especially on "The Companion", which comes on like the aural equivalent of a David Lynch dream sequence.
Vocals, when present, are often swathed in layers of reverb giving them a nice textural quality on tracks like "Judge Alabaster", and best of all, "Engrams" a top drawer piece of psychedelic dream pop that reaffirms everything that Maston has proven that he does so well over the preceding twenty minutes - immaculate production, inventive arrangements and melodies so naggingly familiar and catchy that they feel like old friends.

Available through the bandcamp link below as a name your price download :

27 Sept 2012

Adam Leonard - Nature Recordings Review

The Great Pop Supplement LP (Out of Print) / Northwestern Series CD (In Print)

Initially only available as a limited edition ( and long out of print, damn! ) vinyl, the good people at Folk Police Recordings have done their bit in making sure that this excellent album gets another chance to be discovered by a few more adventurous listeners by releasing a CD version as the flagship release of their Northwestern Series subsidiary label. It's a limited edition of 300 hand numbered copies, all of which would be long gone if there was any justice in the world, but a little bird tells me that there are still copies available so get in quick!
Oh, you want to know what it sounds like? The closest comparison I can come up with is Syd Barrett backed by the Third Ear Band, although this isn't immediately apparent with the opening two tracks being more ramshackle pop psych than experimental folk, with an inventive reading of Robyn Hitchcock's "The Man Who Invented Himself" as well as Leonard's own "Lillian, The Lovely" - certainly the prettiest thing to be found here.
He then heads for the backroads with a more idiosyncratic and some ( e.g myself ) would say more rewarding approach.
"Dawn Rain / Grissom Aloft" showcases Leonard's superior acoustic guitar skills before it's consumed by sinister ritualistic Morris percussion, while "The Archaeologist" is a fine harmonium and vocal piece that wouldn't sound out of place on a Nic Jones record.
Side Two is were the real treasure is buried though - the four part "The Eighth Tower" is an ambitious and adventurous multipart epic which recalls the spirit if not the sound of earlier masterworks by like minded non-conformists like Roy Harper's "Stormcock".
It works it's way through many moods and styles in it's twenty five odd minutes, all seamlessly entwined until it unwinds itself into an almost mantric wordless vocal chant, like some pagan "Hey Jude" which is as lovely as it is hypnotic.

You can buy it here from Amazon.co.uk
or here direct from the label. 

26 Sept 2012

The Soundcarriers - Boiling Point / This Is Normal 7" Review

The Great Pop Supplement 7"

It's been a long time between drinks, but we're a patient type us Soundcarriers fans, and our patience has now been rewarded with this tasty wee 7" on the rather excellent and always limited edition Great Pop Supplement label. Good things do take time after all, and this is a very good thing indeed.
But enough with the cliches, onto the music itself.  A good old-fashioned double a-side with a vinyl bonus track to boot, the term embarrassment of riches would spring to mind if I hadn't just sworn off cliches.
Lead off track "Boiling Point" is a barnstorming opener that sounds like a live in studio performance - the sort of thing Broadcast may have come up with if requested to rock politely but firmly. Great elliptical vocal hook too, and it sounds as if drummer Adam may have grown several extra pairs of arms for this one.
"This is Normal" is a more experimental track with celebrity friend / fan Elijah Wood laying down an enjoyably daft monologue over a very solid rhythm track with plenty of interesting keyboard, guitar and flute interjections fading in and out of the mix.
Vinyl bonus track "Eff.R" is a strong instrumental jam which will reward future cratediggers. Surely a nod to David Axelrod, with an eminently sampleable rhythm track, nice textural keyboards and acid guitars acting as a suitable backdrop to some of the finest flute work we've heard yet on a Soundcarriers release.
Oh yes, this bodes very well for the next album.

Due out October 1 - order via the Great Pop Supplement's website right here.
I suspect the lovely lads at Norman Records will get a few of these as well, so check them out too.

25 Sept 2012

James McKeown - English Dream Review

Dub Ditch Picnic CD-R / Cassette / Negative Drive Records Digital Download

A few months back I reviewed the debut from an interesting and basically uncategorisable Bristol outfit who go by the name of Hi-Fiction Science ( see review here ).
Their guitarist, James McKeown is a pretty prolific songwriter with enough excess material for a sideline of solo albums. "English Dream " is his second solo album, and I'll be honest - I was apprehensive when asked to review it. After all, we've all learnt from experience that when a guitarist branches out with a solo album you can expect one of three things ; technically explosive exercises in fretboard dynamics with zero personality, an album that sounds exactly like their dayjob but with superstar guest vocals, or worst of all, the introspective singer songwriter effort that demonstrates why said guitarist isn't allowed to sing in their main band.
Well, it turns out that there's a fourth category that these solo albums can fall into that's a much rarer phenomenon ; the folky singer songwriter effort which transcends the work of the band that they're primarily known for.
As much as I enjoyed the Hi Fiction Science album, "English Dream" is on a whole other level, with songs that feel totally lived in with sparse, textured production that leaves plenty of room for these superior compositions to breathe.
It's predominantly acoustic, with subtle and timeless sounding keyboard and electric guitar accompaniment making this sound like some lost gem from the early seventies, a parallel acknowledged by the Keef inspired cover art.
I'm most often reminded of the delicate little acoustic numbers occasionally scattered throughout Pink Floyd's pre-"Dark Side of the Moon" catalogue ("Cirrus Minor", "If", and especially the massively underrated "Wot's Uh The Deal?"), although I suspect that this is more an influence than a conscious homage. It doesn't hurt that McKeown's vocals often recall both David Gilmour and Roger Waters, especially when doubletracked closely, or stretching for a note that should be out of his reach, but isn't quite. McKeown's guitar work too is reminiscent of Gilmour - although more of his early textural guitar work, think "Echoes" rather than "Comfortably Numb".
But what of McKeown's songs? They're not immediate, but after several plays they reveal themselves to be marvelous little gems that feel like old friends that you'd be happy to spend the rest of your days with.
"See The Skies", "English Dream", "Ghost In Your Life" and "Dead Maids" are fully developed tracks with effecting vocals and resonant hooks, while "summerrainsummersky" shows that McKeown has spent some time poring over Bert Jansch records. Most charming of all perhaps is "Life Aboard The International Space Station", an unusually nostalgic and pastoral instrumental piece that perfectly evokes the polyester of an idealized future, through the imagination of brown cardiganed mid seventies Britain.
An album that deserves to be heard by a lot of people - make sure you're one of them.

Digital release on October 15. Preorder or listen to sample tracks through the widget below.

24 Sept 2012

The Galileo 7 - Staring At The Sound Review

State Records CD / Vinyl

Allan Crockford is a name that may not be immediately familiar to you, but the bands he's played with ; the Prisoners, The Solarflares, The James Taylor Quartet, Thee Headcoats - will presumably ring a few bells.
A veteran of the Medway scene, he's served an admirable apprenticeship playing in these bands ( and plenty of others ), but the Galileo 7 proves that he's much more than a first call sideman.
As an outlet for Crockford's songs the Galileo 7 is atypical of what we've come to expect from the Medway sound - there's certainly a dash of punkish energy that makes it's presence felt every now and then, especially on "The Man Who Wasn't There", but more often than not it's shot through a vintage psychedelic prism with the likes of "Staring at the Sound" and "Anne Hedonia" being prime Brit-Psych nuggets with instantly memorable melodies which fans of mod-psych outfits like the Action and the Syn will obsessively salivate over. 
It's the sort of album I could easily imagine appearing on the Deram label circa 1967, if more of the Deram singles bands had been given the opportunity to lay down a full length, although the benefit of hindsight has allowed the Galileo 7 to pick and choose the best parts of this aesthetic, and leave the toytown and vaudeville elements so prevalent in albums of the era on the cutting room floor, resulting in a much more lean, concise and consistent album than his (presumed) influences generally managed.
Extra points for the apt cover as well, which looks exactly the way that "Staring at the Sound" sounds.

Check out "Anne Hedonia" here:

23 Sept 2012

Desert Island Discs Selected By The Solar System

This week's Desert Island Discs selections have been made by Chris Oliver also known as the psychedelic one-man-band spectacular "The Solar System". Check out the latest Solar System album "Lysergic Summer" here : http://thesolarsystem.bandcamp.com/releases

Says Chris "The concept of Desert Island Discs is quite a challenge. I have a huge music collection and I'm always searching for new sounds so to choose just ten albums was a bit tough but after much thought, Here are ten albums I know I can't live without."

1. John Frusciante-Niandra Lades And Usually Just A T-shirt.
This album blew my mind and opened doors for me to what music could be and the feelings it can bring to a human. The album is just John with his guitars on his 4-track with very little extra instrumentation but what John brings is one of the ultimate psychedelic albums in my opinion. As I write, I'm having a hard time coming up with the words to describe all the feelings this album gives me. If you are open minded enough, I highly suggest taking the trip!

2. Syd Barrett-The Madcap Laughs.
Just like the Frusciante album, This record blew my mind. This album is like walking into Syd's fragile mind. He is beyond open and honest with the listener here. You are sucked into his world. It's also an album i've listened to thousands of times and with each listen I discover something new with each listen.

3. The Beatles-Revolver.
Pretty tough to pick just one album by the fab four but I seem to always go back to Revolver. The beginning of the Beatles exploring and breaking the boundaries of rock music at the time. Tomorrow Never Knows is one of the most tripped out songs ever recorded, Still till this very day. The album also showcases George Harrison's amazing ability as a songwriter. He is truly finding his voice on this album with great songs such as "Taxman" and "Love You Too".

4.Beck-Mellow Gold.
As a kid growing up in the 90's, Hearing Loser for the first time was a trip. I've never heard music like that at the time and after the first listen to Loser I had to hear the rest of the album. This album for me I can honestly say is one of the biggest influences on me as a musician as well as Revolver by the Beatles. Every song on Mellow Gold finds Beck experimenting with every musical genre you can imagine. Taking Folk, Hip Hop, Disco, Drone, Psychedelic, Rock and so much more and throwing it all on top of each other. It still blows my mind when I revisit the album and if anyone has listened to a Solar System album you will see the influence this album has had on me as a musician.

5.Olivia Tremor Control-  Dusk At Cubist Castle.
When I discovered this band and The Elephant 6 Recording Company it was like meeting a long lost friend.  It gave me complete comfort. Dusk to me is the perfectpsychedelic album. The production blows my mind and when I found out most of it was recorded on 4-track cassette and all the crazy tape splices etc etc it tripped me out as I too was recording on a 4-track. Olivia opened my minds to what was possible with limited equipment. Will Hart is probably the most psychedelic songwriter ever, If you didn't know any  better you would for sure think this  album comes straight out of 1967.Sadly Bill Doss recently has passed away and they were in the midst of making a new album. Such a shame to have lost one of the nicest musicians ever and someone who I was lucky to have met and have a few really great conversations with.

6. Neutral Milk Hotel- On Avery Island.
People will probably flip out seeing this album over the classic In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, an album I love dearly but On Avery Island just does it for me. The emotions are at an all time high on this one and again the production on this album amazes me. My ears are attracted to the more dirty, low-fi sounds and this album is just that. Jeff Mangum is one of the best songwriters ever. After hearing the first song "Song Against Sex" you will agree with that statement. Jeff has recently started playing shows again and I hope one day he will give us all new music!

7.The Apples In Stereo- New Magnetic Wonder.
It was very hard to pick just one Apples album as I love them all but I had to go with this one. Robert Schneider is easily my favorite producer ever. I love his production style. He has produced pretty much all the classic E6 releases and to me his production style is a mixture of Joe Boyd, Jeff Lynne, Brian Wilson and Shel Talmy. Pretty much all of my favorite producers as well so to be able to put them all together is just amazing. Robert is also one of the best songwriters out there. If songs like "Open Eyes" "Same Old Drag" and "Beautiful Machine Parts 1-4" don't blow you away, I don't know what will!

8. Sean Lennon- Into The Sun.
This album just like Mellow Gold by Beck manages to take every genre possible and put them all together.  I think this is Sean's Masterpiece and has yet to top it. Sadly most wont agree or have even heard this album. I always go back to this album and it never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

9. King Crimson- In The Court Of The Crimson King.
This album introduced me to Progressive rock. Finding this album in my dad's record collection and seeing that album cover tripped me out and I had to hear what that album cover sounded like. The first song "21st Century Schizoid Man" did just that! Robert Fripp is a genius and has gone on to produce many other great Crimson albums and it was indeed hard to pick just one but this is the winner. Moonchild still gives me chills to this day. A true masterpiece!

10.Black Sabbath- Paranoid.
This album is one of the best rock albums ever, Pure and Simple. I think the band itself doesn't get enough
credit for how great of musicians they are. Geezer Butler and Bill Ward are easily one of the best rock  rhythm sections. Listen to any song off this album and tell me otherwise. This album contains elements of progressive rock, psychedelic and of course heavy metal and what was to become known as doom metal. Every song on it is a classic and should be in everyone's collection.

Got your own Desert Island Discs selections that you'd like to share? Send them through to nford150@gmail.com

20 Sept 2012

The Coffee Sergeants - Purple Martin Sanctuary Review

Monkey's Paw CD

It's bizarre in this day and age, that a band as good as the Coffee Sergeants can release an album this fine and be pretty much ignored internationally. This is album number eight for the long running Austin, Texas band, and the first to make itself known to me. A little listening and reading has led me to the conclusion that the previous seven should be on my shopping list too.
Another case of a long running band's obscurity having absolutely no correlation to the quality of the music (the Pillbugs and the Green Pajamas also suffer from this syndrome), the Coffee Sergeants make high quality psychedelic pop / rock that would have not only fit in, but dominated the paisley underground scene of the mid eighties if only they'd had the insight to be born a little earlier.
Their output is admirably varied from the countryish leanings of "Start All Over Again" with it's lovely, keening slide guitar, via the catchy "Sally White" which is all Strawberry Alarm Clock style organs, and Canned Heat harmonica runs, to the more stripped back rock of "Siren" and "Too Many Yesterdays" which have the immediacy of an R.E.M that hasn't gotten too big for it's britches.
There are plenty of bands around peddling this sort of stuff for sure, but the Coffee Sergeants have the others in their field licked with a knack for melodies that are immediate but not obvious, a skill which is particularly apparent on opening track "Virginia Creeper".
To me though they're at their best though on the more anthemic numbers like "Allandale" and particularly the title track, which is a psychedelic wonder - a modern "Strawberry Fields Forever" with a wistful melancholy air that's as affecting as it is tuneful.

You can buy it here from Amazon.com

Visit the Coffee Sergeants website here to hear samples from their other albums too.

19 Sept 2012

Tame Impala - Lonerism Review

Modular CD / Vinyl / Digital

"Lonerism" is one of the most anticipated albums of the year for me for sure. I had a major love affair with "Innerspeaker" that bordered on the obsessive.
We've all heard first single "Elephant" by now - a fun slice of fuzzy Marc Bolan style glam rock that sounds like the sort of thing we all hoped for from the follow up to Pop Levi's "Return to Form Black Magick Party" and didn't get, but how does the rest of the album measure up?
As it happens, very well. First things first though - this isn't a surprising album. There's no radical departure from what made "Innerspeaker" such a success - this is essentially more of the same, but when the same is immaculately constructed psych pop with inventive arrangements that's no bad thing.
It does however feel like Kevin Parker has honed his songwriting skills a little in the last few years. A number of these tracks noticeably "Sun's Coming Up", the first half of which is basically just piano and vocal, sound like they'd still function perfectly well if stripped of the wall of sound production and left to function on their own devices.
This track in particular sounds like a less syrupy version of the sorts of piano and vocal demos that John Lennon was laying down just before his death, and if anything "Lonerism" shows an even more pronounced influence than was apparent on "Innerspeaker".
This more mature approach to songwriting results in songs that are deceptively simple and melodic and generally a little less hooky, but after a few listens they really sink their teeth in and reveal some absolutely gorgeous melodies that'll stay with you forever.
Couple this with the massive production sound of "Innerspeaker" and for this listener at least, "Lonerism" ends up doing exactly what I hoped it would.
One to put on the shopping list.

Pre-order "Lonerism" on CD here ( U.K ) or here (U.S).
Pre-order "Lonerism" on Vinyl here (U.K ) or here (U.S).


18 Sept 2012

Dennis Olsen - Aubade Review

Bandcamp Download

As if further proof was needed that Norwegians know how to put together some fine psychedelia (see Dog Age), Dennis Olsen has come along with this little home recorded, Bandcamp released E.P, which is certainly one of the finest new things I've heard so far this year.
Olsen also plays in a band called 2nd Class People ( whom I've yet to hear ), but "Aubade" is a totally solo affair, and according to Olsen is "a lo-fi concept".
If this is Olsen's idea of lo-fi, I'd love to hear what he could do with a bit of a budget behind him, because this is a gorgeous, sweeping piece of psychedelia with layers of lush overdubs the likes of which I haven't heard since the release of Tame Impala's "Innerspeaker".
Tame Impala fans will certainly find a lot to enjoy here, but it's far from a copy-cat job with Olsen's songs having uniformly strong choruses of their own, and some quite wonderful and transcendent moments of space rock which are perfect for headphone listening.
The trippy rocker "Disappear for a While"  recalls not just Tame Impala at their best, but also the joyous psychedelia of the first Verve album, while "Discussions With a Shade" shows a gift for dynamics that can't be taught, with huge fuzz guitars, an epic chorus and walls of massed vocals.
Check this out immediately, and expect to hear a lot more from this very talented young gent.
Available through this link as a "name your price" Bandcamp purchase.

17 Sept 2012

The Flight Reaction - Mourning Light Review

13 O'Clock Records 7" 

The Flight Reaction's new 7" reminds me in a lot of ways of the new Frowning Clouds 7" that I reviewed a few days ago, although this is certainly the more psychedelic of the two. There's no connection between the two, but they share a very similar, heavily reverbed raw sixties sound. Where the Clouds 7" sounded like a prime piece of '66 freakbeat, these two cuts sound more like something that would have been recorded early the following year, with the introduction of treated vocals and phasing.
Part of the reason that these guys do this style so well is their pedigree - the Flight Reaction is made up of members from legendary Swedish garage groups The Crimson Shadows, The Giljoteens, The Maggots and Les Artyfacts - an impressive roster in anyone's book.
The a-side is an original with a great pentatonic riff, a shuffling rhythm and massive chorus straight out of the Nuggets songbook. Great moody stuff.
The b-side is a cover of the Rolling Stones "Citadel" - the second I've heard this year, after Jack Ellister's cover on his Fruits De Mer 7". This is the more authentic of the two versions, and sounds a little like the Flight Reaction boys got together and said "Let's record this the way the Stones would have if they'd tried it a year or two earlier." So out go the more whimsical Sgt Peppery elements of the original to be replaced by primal garage r&b, harmonica, and clanging guitars that sound like heavy iron gates being given a hard time.
Marvelous stuff.

Buy it here from the nice folks at 13 O'Clock Records -$5 well spent.

15 Sept 2012

Active Listener Radio

Tame Impala
This weeks episode of Active Listener Radio features : a special composite mix of The Beatles "Sour Milk Sea", a track from the upcoming Tame Impala album, The Pillbugs, Nick Nicely, The Frowning Clouds, The Growing Concern, White Fence, Michael Yonkers, Flower Travellin' Band, Jack Ellister, The Solar System, Thomas McConnell, Stealing Sheep, The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey, 8x8 and Toy.

Check it out here :

Thomas McConnell - Songs To Make Your Boots Sizzle Review

Soundcloud Stream

Thomas McConnell is a name you may not be familiar with so far, but if there's any justice in the world it's one you'll hear spoken more and more often in the future.
His clips on Soundcloud have more comments than any I've ever seen, and one listen reveals why, and emphatically so. The seven songs he's grouped together as "Songs to Make Your Boots Sizzle", sound like something someone has brought back from a parallel universe where Abbey Road was a three sided record with side three being all Macca.
Remember the cassette tape that was brought back from an alternate dimension where the Beatles never broke up a couple of years ago ( read the story here )? While that ended up being a cobblers mash up mix of post Beatles solo tunes, had said lunatic furnished us with "Songs to Make Your Boots Sizzle" instead, his story may have been given far more creedence.
I'd go as far to say that McConnell has given us a better McCartney release here than Macca himself has delivered since Band On The Run ( and don't get me wrong, I'm a biiiiig fan of Sir Paul ). Not bad for someone who is just uploading his material on Soundcloud himself.
So yes, a love for the Beatles is certainly a prerequisite to enjoying this, but that doesn't seem too much to ask as they're arguably the most influential musicians of the twentieth century.
The songs on here aren't blatant rewrites either. Where songs by Beatle fans tend to often be directly traceable back to their source material, these songs are different. There's no denying that they're hugely Beatlesque, but they don't bring to mind particular songs as templates. Thomas instead seems to have tapped into some communal creative mind that McCartney was attuned to in the late sixties and early seventies, the result of which is songs that sound like previously unwritten Macca tunes rather than the rewrites we so often hear from others.
Don't believe me? Check out "Penelope Definitely" and "Lonely Mr Bigshot" now and marvel. Stunner.

14 Sept 2012

The Frowning Clouds - Propellers Review

Saturno Records 7"

Geelong in Australia is probably one of the last places one would look for a great new(ish) freakbeat band, yet that is exactly where the Frowning Clouds hail from.
After being won over by their excellent "Listen Closelier" LP, I was very keen to hear more.
The lads at Saturno Records were kind enough to send me a copy of the shiny new single 'Propellers" and I've got to say that it beats anything and everything on the LP, hands down.
The a-side "Propellers" is all pomp and swagger with oodles of attitude and a great vintage sound, like early Stones if they'd been produced by Kit Lambert. The surprisingly slow tempo builds up an almost unbearable amount of tension that's only partially relieved by the hooky ascending bassline. Very rock and roll, and with some nice falsetto backing vocals ( that also show a bit of a pub rock influence ) to back up the chunky guitar clang this is a total winner with me.
B-side "Bad Vibes" is very fine too, built upon some chiming arpeggio guitar work ( think "Tired of Waiting For You" ), with sneering group vocals. Bad vibes have never been so much fun.

Buy it directly from Saturno Records here.

13 Sept 2012

Desert Island Discs Selected By Michael Toland

We've got another Desert Island Discs selection for you, with selections today painstakingly chosen by Michael Toland, writer for Blurt, The Big Takeover, The Austin Chronicle, Trouser Press & High Bias.
"When I look at this list now, I’m almost distraught at what’s been left out. Where’s the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street? Or the Clash’s London Calling? Or Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue? Jeff Buckley’s Grace? Last Exit’s Iron Path? Sly & the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits? Something by CCR (my first favorite band)? Why aren’t there more women on my list? Or African-Americans? Or world music artists? Why could I not find room for the Hedwig & the Angry Inch film soundtrack? Or the Aretha Franklin box set? Where’s Nikki Sudden, of whom I’ve grown inordinately fond over the past decade? Seriously, no David Bowie or Richard Thompson?
Ten slots seem like too few, but let’s face it: if the limit wasn’t imposed, the list would go on forever. What music I listen to depends on so many factors that to put together a collection for a desert island would be an impossible task, anticipating my every mood while the surf flowed between my toes. Not to mention where the artist sits in my current listening mode – Grace didn’t make the cut solely because I’ve gotten a little burned out on the younger Buckley, but I know that status won’t last. So I made the list with as little thought as possible and it is what it is – a list of records I never tire of and return to frequently. Today, anyway."

The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
It’s become popular in certain circles to bash this record, and I’ve never understood why. To me it seems like the culmination of everything the band had accomplished thus far – great writing and playing, imaginative production and arrangements. For me this has held up much, much better that the more celebrated Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Bevis Frond – New River Head (1991)
I adore Love’s Forever Changes, the Beatles’ Revolver, Hendrix’s Axis Bold as Love, Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn and all the other acid classix. But Nick Saloman’s double LP explosion of sensual guitar freakouts and high songcraft is my favorite psychedelic rock album. Saloman’s facility with the pen is almost supernatural given how many songs he cranks out. He’s made a bunch of great records, but this one, to me, has always felt like the one on which his vision hit its most perfect execution.

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)
It’s tempting to say that this record is significant because it’s the point where soul/R&B most overtly manifested a social conscience. (As long as you don’t dig into pre-war blues, that is.) But that’s not the real reason I love this record. In truth it’s because I love the melodies, the lush production (setting a precedent throughout the 70s) and the way Gaye’s wonderful voice soars, swirls and floats in and around the arrangements. His intricate vocal interplay – mostly with himself – puts a unique stamp on an already exemplary album.

House of Freaks – Monkey On a Chain Gang (1988)
I can’t remember now what turned me on to this record – I think it was a review in a magazine. But I’ve loved this album from this Richmond, Virginia duo since it first came out. Predating the White Stripes, the Kills, the Black Keys, etc., the Freaks sound like none of them, instead mining a vein of richly melodic Americana, but with enough rock & roll passion to put in more in line with John Fogerty than anything that No Depression would cover. The layered production belies the fact that only two guys made all this sound, and the late Bryan Harvey was a great singer and guitarist.

Paul K – A Wilderness of Mirrors (1998)
Detroit-to-Kentucky singer/songwriter Paul K(opasz) has been making excellent, often stunning records for 30 years, self-releasing most to a handful of devotees. But for a while in the 90s his remarkable body of work was discovered by a larger audience, first in Europe, and then in America, where a succession of indie labels signed him up. Ever the iconoclast, his music – which reveled in traditional rock & roll song structures even as it traveled into territory not usually visited by mainstream rockers – never quite fit in anywhere but on critics’ best-of lists, which is truly a shame. A Wilderness of Mirrors, a concept album that filters the Roswell UFO legend through the Book of Job, is his most fully realized work, a collection of intelligent, literary, heartfelt songs set in some of the most accessible production of his career. I’d put the title track on any shortlist of the best rock songs ever.

Bob Mould – Workbook (1989)
Mould’s music has had such a huge impact on me that it’s really difficult to choose one record – this slot could have just as easily gone to Sugar’s Copper Blue or Hüsker Dü’s Warehouse: Songs & Stories, or even his most recent record Silver Age. But this is the first LP I heard of his music (yes, even before I heard the Hüskers), and thus the first one to draw me into his world of passion, craft and guitars, guitars, guitars.

The Music Lovers – The Words We Say Before We Sleep (2004)
When I got turned on to this record a few years ago by a Nikki Sudden-penned review in Bucketfull of Brains, I had been under the assumption that I’d never find another songwriter as powerful and skilled as Pete Townshend, Bob Mould, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello and all the other pre-millennial icons. I was wrong. Matthew Edwards is just as good as any well-known writer you’d care to name, and better than most of them. This CD lived in my various stereos for a good three years, and I still return to it regularly.

Porcupine Tree – In Absentia (2002)
PT is probably the most psychedelic progressive rock band going, in large part because of leader Steven Wilson’s painterly production style. That’s not to give short shrift to his songwriting, mind you, which is always smart, emotional and supremely melodic, and this album – the band’s first for a major label – is a particularly strong set of tunes. But the production is such that I never fail to discover something new every time I spin it. And I’ve played this record more times than anything else in my collection – no kidding.

The Who – The Kids Are Alright (1979)
Admittedly, this is cheating, as it’s more of a compilation than an album. But I can’t live without the Who, and more specifically, I can’t live without these versions of “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” which are definitive, as far as I’m concerned. Besides, this record to me fully unites the two sides of the band that diehards (the 60s loyalists who think the band took a wrong turn with Tommy and the 70s fans who don’t get the Who’s 60s pop side) fight over in a stream of brilliance that proves more than any other LP what a great, great band they were.

Lucinda Williams – s/t (1988)
In the late 80s, when I was reading a lot of music rags, I noticed that critics couldn’t pin this album down. I saw it called the best country album of the year, the best rock album, the best folk album and the best blues album, depending on the publication. If music writers couldn’t definitively describe it, I knew I had to hear it. Sure enough, it doesn’t fit comfortably in any box, adding strains of nearly every American style of music into a well-crafted but straightforward, unelaborate tapestry that proved the perfect setting for Williams’ remarkable songs. She’s since made more popular albums, even more acclaimed ones, but I think this is far and away her best, and it’s set a standard few, if any, of her contemporaries have reached.

Want to tell us about your Desert Island Discs? E-mail to nford150@gmail.com

12 Sept 2012

Stealing Sheep - Into the Diamond Sun Review

Heavenly Records CD / Vinyl / Digital Download

A quick look at the acts that Stealing Sheep have supported (Field Music, St Vincent, the difficult to type tUnE-yArDS) gives you a better idea of what this excellent new Liverpool three piece sound like than the "psychedelic folk" or "English Warpaint" tags they've been branded with so far.
There are certainly elements of psychedelia and folk rock present in their sound, but they have a wide ranging set of influences and backgrounds that makes this a far more diverse genre-hopping set than Warpaint have managed so far.
Drummer Lucy Mercer has a background that embraces both gypsy folk and marching bands, guitarist Emily Lansley has been lurking in the Liverpool psychedelic scene for some time, and keyboardist Becky Hawley cites electronica and Bjork as major influences.
While this may sound like the basis for a pretty abstract, if not entirely unlistenable album, their unerring ear for a fantastic pop tune makes this a far less challenging affair than one would expect. Those heavenly vocal harmonies certainly don't do any harm either.
I'm often reminded of Broadcast and the more accessible Pram material, although neither of these bands ( to my knowledge ) were able, or inclined, to combine quirky little girl pop with sinewy  Fairport Convention guitars to come up with a track as appealing as "Shut Eye".
"Genevieve" and "Rearrange" are almost as good on the hooks front, while "Tangled Up in Stars" suggests that some unholy union between Eurovision and the Wicker Man may not be such a bad thing.
"Bear Tracks" is an ambitious multipart closer that seems to be getting a bum rap in some quarters but to me is the clincher to a fine album that perfectly balances the tuneful and the slightly challenging.

Available here on CD and here on Vinyl.

September New Releases

Lots of Interesting titles due out in the next few weeks. Here's a few that we're looking forward to here at the Active Listener. Release dates are for the U.K. Prices are accurate at time of publishing.

Released September 17:


All 5 albums packaged in mini vinyl replica sleeves:
The Incredible String Band – The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – Wee Tam –
The Big Huge

CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.K) for 10.00
CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.S) for 35.67

All 5 albums packaged in mini vinyl replica sleeves:
Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash – Hootenanny – Let It Be – Tim – Pleased to Meet Me

CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.K) for 10.00
CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.S) for 35.67

Released September 24:


The first new album in five years from one of my favorites.
01 – “Deconstruction“ 02 – “Flag Of Fate“ 03 – “It’s Not Because Of You“ 04 – “An Alternative To Freedom“ 05 – “Ghost’s House“ 06 – “White Light Suicide“ 07 – “Democracy“ 08 – “Dystopia“ 09 – “Dead End“ 10 – “By Your Definition” (bonus track)

CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.K) for 10.00
CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.S) for 13.99
Vinyl Pre-order from Amazon (U.S) for 25.65


Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the first ever CD released of TRAPPED IN TIME, a collection of rare demos and recordings made in 1969 by the legendary band CRESSIDA. The band would later sign to VERTIGO records, recording two classic albums for the label. TRAPPED IN TIME reflects the very first recordings made by the band prior to signing to Vertigo and was previously released as 500 limited edition LP. Featuring a line-up of ANGUS CULLEN (vocals), JOHN HEYWORTH (guitar), KEVIN McCARTHY (bass), LOL COKER (organ), PETER JENNINGS (organ on tracks 3,4 & 5) and IAIN CLARK (drums), this Esoteric Recordings release features two extra tracks not included on the original vinyl LP and a booklet that features a new essay and rare photographs and coincides with the band s first ever performance in the United States in early October.
1. To Play Your Little Game 2. Winter Is Coming Again 3. Cressida 4. Depression 5. Sad Eyed Fairy 6. Lights In My Mind 7. Let Them Come When They Will 8. Situation 9. The Only Earthman In Town 10. Down Down 11. Mental State 12. Silent Light (Previously Unreleased) 13. Situation (Alternate Version Previously Unreleased)

CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.K) for 9.00
CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.S) for 25.08


Disc: 1
1. One Of A Group 2. Winter Is Coming Again 3. Lights In My Mind 4. Home Is Where I Long To Be 5. Time For Bed 6. Depression 7. Down Down 8. To Play Your Little Game 9. Cressida 10. The Only Earthman In Town 11. Tomorrow Is A Whole New Day 12. Spring '69 - Taken From The Album Cressida 13. Lights In My Mind - Previously Unreleased Demo Recorded In 1969 14. Mental State - Previously Unreleased Demo Recorded In 1970
Disc: 2
1. Summer Weekend Of A Lifetime 2. Asylum 3. Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye 4. Reprieved 5. Lisa 6. Let Them Come When They Will 7. Munich - Taken From The Album Asylum 8. Situation Unreleased Single Recorded In February 1970 9. Depression 10. Winter Is Coming Again Bbc Radio One David Symonds Session First Broadcast 15th June 1970

CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.K ) for 9.00
CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.S) for 28.84

Disc: 1
1. Poet And Peasant 2. Passacaglia 3. Memory 4. Raymond s Road 5. Light Cavalry 6. Sarabande 7. Think 8. Time Machine 9. Lament 10. I ve No Idea 11. Nimbus
Disc: 2
1. Festival 2. Silver Peacock Introduction 3. Silver Peacock 4. Impromptu 5. The Fox 6. Hobo 7. Macarthur Park 8. The Witch 9. Pathfinder 10. From Shark To Haggis 11. Stretcher 12. Madame Doubtfire 13. Turn Your Money Green 14. Working Man 15. Requiem 16. Classical Gas

CD Pre-order from Amazon (U.K) for 9.00

Disc: 1
1. Blues Run The Game 2. Soho 3. It Ain't Me Babe 4. East Virginia 5. Geordie 6. In Memory (The Tender Years) 7. I Love My True Love 8. Ethusel 9. Carnival 10. They Don't Seem to Know You 11. Gerrard Street 12. Seven Virgins 13. A Little Bit Of Rain 14. Go Your Own Way My Love 15. Cradle Song 16. Who Knows Where The Time Goes 17. Motherless Children 18. You Never Wanted Me 19. Milk and Honey 20. She Moves Through The Fair 21. Fotheringay 22. Now and Then 23. Autopsy
Disc: 2
1. Are The Judges Sane 2. Mr. Lacey - Fairport Convention 3. The Ballad Of Easy Rider - Fairport Convention 4. A Sailors Life - Fairport Convention 5. Come All Ye - Fairport Convention 6. Matty Groves - Fairport Convention 7. The Way I Feel - Fotheringay 8. The Sea - Fotheringay 9. Winter Winds - Fotheringay 10. The Pond and the Stream - Fotheringay 11. John The Gun - Fotheringay 12. Late November - Fotheringay 13. Next Time Around 14. Lord Bateman
Disc: 3
1. The Optimist 2. Wretched Wilbur 3. Crazy Lady Blues 4. Northstar Grassman and the Ravens 5. Blackwaterside 6. It'll Take A Long Time 7. For Nobody To Hear 8. Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood 9. The Lady 10. Bushes And Briars 11. The Music Weaver 12. No End 13. Solo 14. Whispering Grass 15. Friends 16. Dark The Night 17. Until The Real Thing Comes Along
Disc: 4
1. The King And Queen Of England 2. After Halloween 3. Sandy's Song (Take Away The Load) 4. Stranger To Himself 5. By The Time It Gets Dark 6. Down In The Flood - Fairport Convention 7. Knocking On Heaven's Door - Fairport Convention 8. Like An Old Fashioned Waltz - Fairport Convention 9. Dawn 10. One More Chance 11. What Is True? - Fairport Convention 12. No More Sad Refrains 13. I Wish I Was A Fool For You 14. Gold Dust 15. Candle In The Wind 16. One Way Donkey Ride 17. I'm A Dreamer 18. Still Waters Run Deep 19. Full Moon 20. Moments 21. Makes Me Think Of You

4CD Box Set Pre-order from Amazon (U.K) for 33.58 
4CD Box Set Pre-order from Amazon (U.S) for 75.25

Iron Maiden founder Steve Harris’ debut solo/side project album.

CD Pre-order from Amazon (UK) for 9.00
CD Pre-order from Amazon ( U.S) for 13.76