31 Oct 2012

The Hypnotic Eye Select The Very Best Psych, Garage & Beat 45s For Your Listening Pleasure

London garage psychers The Hypnotic Eye's star is continuing to rise with the release of their second single "Satisfaction".
Hypnotic Eye guitarist Lindsay Murray, along with his girlfriend the fabulous Sarah Hughes have put together this delectable mix of their favorite garage, psych and beat 45's for you lucky people.

Mr. Carpenter - The Fox
We Can Take It - The Smoke
Atmospheres - Wimple Winch
Optical Sound - The Human Expression
Life On Venus - The Tornados
March Of The Flower Children - The Seeds
Evil Eye - The Burning Bush
Psychotic Reaction - Positively Thirteen O'Clock
It's Cold Outside - The Choir
The Letter - The Box-Tops
Hey Joe - The Leaves
Blue Girl - The Bad Roads
Frustration - The Painted Ship
Facts Of Life - The Xtreems
Stop, Stop, Stop - The Hollies
Hippie, Hippie, Hourrah - Jacques Dutronc
Apples and Oranges - The Pink Floyd
Disturbance - The Move
Love At Psychedelic Velocity - The Human Expression
No Return - The Third Rail
Hang Up - The Wailers
Any More Than I Do - The Attack
Don't Shoot Me Down - The Brogues
Hurricane Fighter Plane - Red Crayola
Locomotion with Me - The Tornados
Sugar, Sugar - The Archies
Satisfaction - The Hypnotic Eye
Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones

30 Oct 2012

Kontiki Suite - On Sunset Lake Review

SiZe Records UK CD / Vinyl to come hopefully

It's a pity we seem to have arrived at a point in our evolution where calling something nice is viewed as damning with faint praise, because if there's one thing that can immediately be said with certainty about Kontiki Suite's new album "On Sunset Lake" is that it is a helluva nice. Not cloyingingly sweet sickly nice mind you, this is full blown Byrds "Ballad of Easy Rider" warming of the heart-cockles nice. The sort of nice that they just don't do any more - except they do, and they have done right here with this slab of infectiously tuneful plastic.
"On Sunset Lake" is a pleasing concoction no mistake - equal parts cosmic Americana, west coast psychedelia, and pastoral Englishness, this is a style we've seen a lot of this year from English bands. Alfa 9 and the See See have already both delivered very fine albums in this idiom in recent memory, but Kontiki Suite have upped the ante considerably on both of them, through a combination of impeccable songwriting and arranging and particularly lush production - potentially the nicest sounding album I've heard this year, including major label releases.
Gems abound, but my favorites are "See You In The Morning" which mixes the twelve string jangle of early Byrds with their more easy-going psychedelic country rock shamblings of the late sixties even better than the Byrds themselves managed and "Hollywood" which sounds like Candidate produced by Jonathan Wilson.
And where a lot of otherwise excellent albums tend to taper off at the end, Kontiki Suite have saved the best for last with "Music Man" a lush piece of canyon rock with subtle mellotron touches, and "Magic Carpet Ride" which is aptly named, feeling just like one with it's hypnotic psychedelic coda.
One of my favorite albums of the year - you'll definitely be hearing a lot more about these guys.

Visit the Kontiki Suite on Facebook.

You'll be able to stream and pre-order the album at this Bandcamp link from Friday.

I've been told that a vinyl release is dependent on enough people showing an interest, so if you want this to happen, and presumably if you have ears, you do, leave them a message on facebook to let them know how excited by the prospect you are. They're nice chaps and won't bite.

Check out "Magic Carpet Ride" below :

The Clockwork Orchestra - Friends Without Names Review

White Label Records CD / Digital

The Clockwork Orchestra may well be the smallest orchestra in the world, comprising just one man. But Irishman Paul Mangan doesn't let that hold him back any on  "Friends Without Names." 
Mangan's music is almost uncategorisable - pop would be the word that comes to mind most often, but that doesn't fairly imply the scope and ambition of what he's accomplished here.
Owing a debt to seventies pioneers like Brian Eno and especially Sparks, "Friends Without Names" is a quirky little gem which frequently juxtaposes the silly with the sublime.
Solid pop songs underpin everything that's happening here, but they're dressed in trappings that you wouldn't normally expect - plenty of piano, heaps of eighties synthesziers, synth strings, drum machines, old gaming console power-ups and more.
"The Book That Won't Be Read" kicks things off on a high, a smart pop gem with great vintage synth sounds, psychedelic space rock textures, and a fantastic upbeat bridge with a solo that sounds like it's being coaxed out of a Sega Mastersystem.
"Accident" is the best example of Mangan's range, starting out as an upbeat electro number, it seamlessly mixes in a dark stringladen chorus, a lovely piano based bridge and a marvelous Mellotron section that sounds like it's been lifted from the most English early seventies prog record you've never heard.
That's the secret to "Friends Without Names" success - this could so easily have been an entertaining, but fairly one dimensional album, but Mangan proves to be the perfect judge of what his tunes need.
And he's able to balance out totally infectious pop triumphs like "Zebedebe" with pieces like the sublimely beautiful "Mummer", which sounds like 22nd Century classical music discovered a hundred years early.
And anyone who composes an ode to their own skeleton deserves a few extra points too.
Lots of fun to be had here.

Listen or buy digitally below. CD available November 5, visit The Clockwork Orchestra on facebook here to find out more.

Stream or Download The Active Listener Halloween Mix

With Halloween just around the corner, I wouldn't be doing my job properly if I didn't put together a Halloween mix for you.

Mr Collins from Stone Tape Recordings beat me to the punch with a few tracks I was intending to use with his mix posted a few days back, causing me to dig a bit deeper, but I think the effort was worth it.

A mixture of classics and obscurities - progressive rock, soundtrack pieces, psychedelia and more.

Johann Sebastian Bunsen Burner By WJLP          
Ghost at the Piano By Fabio Frizzi                          
Come To The Sabbat By Black Widow  
Black Candles By Umberto      
Passaggi Nel Tempo By Calibro 35
The Dead Will Walk The Earth By Anima Morte                      
The Witch (Made to Measure) By Clinic      
Laurie's Theme By John Carpenter & Allan Howarth
Esor Yram By The Hare And The Moon      
Transmission Four - Crooked Hill (Edit) By Pye Corner Audio
Funeral In Carpathia By James Bernard      
Do You Believe In Evil?                  
Chylde Of Fire By Witchcraft      
Suspiria (Celesta And Bells) By Goblin          
Strange Sleep By Les Baxter      
The Executioner    By My Solid Ground                  
They're Coming To Get You Barbara                  
Phantasm (Main Title) By The Owl Service
Mondsucht (Edit) By Vintage Cucumber                          
Woman Of The Devil By Warhorse          
Vendetta By Fantômas      
Hotel Lament By Fabio Frizzi                      
Terror (Edit) By Oscillotron      
Ritual Knife By Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats      

Download link : mediafire

29 Oct 2012

Sproatly Smith - Times Is N' Times Was Review

Bandcamp Download / Lyke Wake Dirges (Folk Police Recordings) Vinyl

The ever evolving beast that is Sproatly Smith have been kind enough to provide us with a second album for the year, and while "The Minstrel's Grave" pushed the envelope as to how a folk album was able to behave in polite company, their new album "Times Is N' Times Was" is a far more accessible set of songs - although still admirably diverse and adventurous in it's own right.
The ingredients that made previous albums so successful are still very much present - plenty of field recordings (many of which sound like they were actually recorded in fields), lashings of psychedelia, solid source material et al, but for some reason this strikes me as their first album with any sort of major crossover potential.
Where previous albums have sounded very much like they're made for a select audience - not a criticism, especially as I view myself as a member of that audience, merely an observation, The Sproatlys have honed their craft to such a point now that their music works on enough levels for a track like "Rosebud In June" to appeal purely on the beauty of it's vocal delivery, without sacrificing the idiosyncratic little touches that drew the likes of us slightly more selective listeners in the first place.
There's still plenty of room for them to fly off on tangents as well, whether it be the full blown Saucerful of Secrets style psychedelia of  "Bartonsham Meadows" or the slightly sinister (I say that as if there's another kind) Morris Dance invocation of "Reaphook & Sickle".
Mostly though "Times Is" is peopled by top drawer vocal tunes like "We Plough & Sow" and 'Fine Horseman" - songs that sound both timelessly ancient and thrillingly contemporary at the same time.
While The Unthanks are being credited by the media as the saviours of modern folk, The Sproatlys are certainly continuing to give them a run for their money here.
Essential listening for acid-folk fiends.

Stream or buy digitally below. Vinyl coming soon from  Lyke Wake Dirges ( Folk Police Recordings)
The vinyl version will be in a limited edition of 250. To reserve a copy, please send an email to Folk Police Recordings at info@folkpolicerecordings.com

Stone Tape Recordings Halloween Mix

Steven Collins (formerly the Owl Service, currently a whole bunch of other projects)  has put together this rather good Halloween mix for his label website Stone Tape Recordings.

The track list is as follows:

Intro Dracula AD 1972 dialogue
Jerry Van Rooyen Oxtail Castle
The Drivers Dry Bones Twist
Coven Coven in Charing Cross
Goblin Zombi
Barry Dransfield The Werewolf
Daniel Johnston The Monster Inside of Me
Nervous Norvus The Fang
Mike Vickers Dracula AD 1972 opening titles
Misfits Return of the Fly
Lord Luther Teenage Creature
Acanthus Le Frisson Des Vampires
Roy Castle Dr Terror's House of Horrors
Fred Myrow Phantasm intro and opening credits
Gwydion Pendderwen Witches Coven Dance
The Moontrekkers Night of the Vampire
C A Quintet Sleepy Hollow Lane
Tubby Hayes Voodoo
Ivor Slaney Terror main title
John Cameron Secret of the Living Dead
Fairport Convention It's Alright Ma, it's Only Witchcraft
Bruno Nicolai Funeral Striptease
Paul Ferris Witchfinder General main theme
Simonetti, Morante, Pignatelli Tenebre
Samhain The Howl
Changes Satanic Hymn #2
Broadacst & the Focus Group Seancing Song
Christopher Komeda Lullaby pt.1

You can stream it at the Stone Tape Recordings Soundcloud page here.

The original post on The Stone Tape Recordings website here has a download link too.

28 Oct 2012

Leisure Birds - Globe Master Review

Moon Glyph Vinyl

Leisure Birds second LP has a lot going for it.
Apart from sporting a particularly bad-ass cover, "Globe Master" is one of the most hypnotic pieces of space rock I've heard in ages.
It's a concept album, which according to the band's bio "follows the journey of an unknown entity from the outermost dimensions of the galaxy to its eventual fall & transcendence to Earth."
I've loved many concept albums in my time, but it's always the music that's grabbed me rather than the generally preposterous storylines. Fortunately singer Jake Luck's vocals are so drenched in reverb and other treatments to be virtually impossible to understand, thereby eliminating what would presumably be the weakest link. Taken purely aesthetically Luck's pipes do a fine job here especially when winding their way sinuously through the eastern tinged melody of "Egyptian Ring".
The band refer to their trance like psychedelia as "garage sci-fi" - an apt description for a sound that takes in the primitive garage psych of early Black Angels, marrying it to Luck's own vintage keyboard excursions.
Elsewhere tom toms are battered in a way that can only be described as tribal, while the guitars are generally given a harsh, trebly, heavily reverbed treatment in the tradition of the very best garage rock.
They're at their best though when the keyboards take centre stage, as heard on the superior "Silver Runner"-  a spooky synth opus with a cracking pop tune at it's heart, but delve a little deeper and there's a rich seam of Krautrock inspired space rock to be mined here.
Definitely an album that begs for repeat plays.

Buy it directly from the label here.

27 Oct 2012

Vintage Cucumber - Mc Goyl Style Review

Bandcamp Download

"Mc Goyl Style" is the third album from Johannes Schulz as Vintage Cucumber, and if it's anything to go by the back catalogue will be well worth investigating too, especially as all three are available here as name your price downloads from Bandcamp.
While the name may lead you to expect this to be a fairly tongue in cheek affair, Schulz's calling card is actually moody instrumental rock music which takes in a number of genres, but has a very distinct sound of it's own.
Opener "Mondsucht" is a trippy piece of psychedelic post rock with delayed guitars and atmospheric samples of baying wolves and communicating astronauts.
What follows is a masterclass of instrumental psychedelia taking in everything from the pastoral, communal Krautrock of "Aloha A Hui Hau" to the moody ambient of "Kosmische Welt Zwischen Sedna & Phobus".
The laid back ' Grau Schimmert Es Mir Hervor" boasts a bass riff which uses the devil's scale, reminiscent of "Black Sabbath" and the basis for a number of classic stoner and doom riffs as well as enough trippy textures to keep the pickiest space rock aficionado happy.
And he's not afraid to make things a little heavier and more claustrophobic as closer " Der Weg Führt Heim" demonstrates in a rather sinister fashion.
Overall, it's a great continuation of the tradition of German outsider music, which does the spirit of the late sixties and early seventies pioneers proud - and for those with no interest in such things, it's just a great album to zone out and relax to, never quite sure of what's going to poke it's head out of the mix at you.
Very nice.

You can download or stream it from the link below:

26 Oct 2012

The Scraps - Play Misty Play / Amy In The Afternoon

Spring Records 7"

Haven't heard of The Scraps? Don't feel bad, Wikipedia haven't either, and I certainly hadn't before I stumbled across this curious 7" released earlier on this year by boutique label Spring Records.
Formed in 1988, they lasted ten years, releasing a self produced cassette in 1993, but otherwise they kept a pretty low profile, playing regularly around their native L.A.
Why should you care, you're asking yourself? Well, apart from the fact that these are two shining pieces of paisley jangle pop in their own right, the A-Side also features a rare guest vocal by none other than Love's Bryan MacLean.
The story goes that MacLean and the band had a mutual friend in producer John Bird, and one day MacLean popped by the studio was given a lyric sheet and spontaneously laid down the vocal track presented here. So, a case of being in the right place at the right time to a certain extent, but could there be a better vehicle for that voice than "Play Misty Play"?
It's an epic of sorts starting off as a jangling Byrdsy folk rocker with meticulous harmonies, and shifting through several changes that take in a moody acoustic section, before the drums energetically usher in the rockier grand finale. Top stuff.
The B-Side "Amy in the Afternoon" is perfectly serviceable too - another piece of quality paisley pop, that sounds a little like the Long Ryders without the country influences.
I've mentioned paisley a few times here you'll have noticed, and although these sides were recorded in 1992, they sound like they would have stood a far better chance as part of the mid eighties paisley pop scene. Fortunately we can now enjoy these in hindsight. Pretty much essential for paisley fans, not to mention fans of Love and the Byrds.
Limited edition of 250 so get in quick....

Available through the Spring Records Facebook page here.

Have a listen below. 

25 Oct 2012

The Kitchen Cynics - Master of the Fuzzy Fadeout - Soap Box Review

This is a new feature on The Active Listener that gives readers a chance to champion albums that they love that are unjustly obscure. If you have an album you're passionate about that no one else seems to have heard of e-mail me at nford150@gmail.com with 100-200 words about it and we'll publish it, unless it's about Nickelback.

This first entry is written by Nigel Spencer, head honcho at Folk Police Recordings.

Kitchen Cynics - Master of the Fuzzy Fadeout (Les Enfants Du Paradiddle, 2004)
Of course, it would have been possible to chose nearly any one of Alan Davidson's 50 odd albums - despite his compulsive songwriting disorder, Aberdeen's best kept secret continually surprises fans with endless streams of beautiful gems deserving of a far wider audience. He's the only person I know, who when you email him to see if he's been working on any new material, sends you his three latest albums. He makes Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard seem like a slacker by comparison. Master of the Fuzzy Fadeout earns a special place in my affections because it was one of the first Kitchen Cynics albums I heard and because it starts with a trio of absolutely masterful songs - Rue Bonaparte, his Nick Drake tribute Now's the Time and the poignant Once and Future Love. Throw in Songs of Spring, Chemist Shop Girl and a few well chosen covers and traditional songs, and you have a warm and intimate collection of psych-folk vignettes crying out for a darkened room and a decent set of headphones.

John Carpenter & Alan Howarth - Halloween 2 & 3 Review

Death Waltz Recordings Vinyl

Two much anticipated vinyl reissues from the excellent Death Waltz Recording Company who've already reissued Carpenter's "Escape From New York" and "Prince of Darkness" in the last few months.
These may be the label's best releases yet, with lovely orange and black streaked vinyl, and full colour signed reproductions of the cover art for those who buy early direct from the label.
The music itself will be familiar to a lot of you already.
"Halloween II" is the more accessible of the two. With Carpenter busy directing "The Thing" he handed the reins to Alan Howarth who took
Carpenter's score from the original film (which Death Waltz are also attempting to secure the rights to) and tweaked it, adding new cues of his own where necessary and running things through new state of the art keyboards and synthesizers that weren't available when the original score was recorded in 1978. Like the original, it's creepy stuff which sets an ominous atmosphere without sacrificing memorable melodies. The Chordettes "Mr Sandman" fits in seamlessly as a postscript and leaves an unsettling aftertaste in the mouth.
"Halloween III" is a totally different prospect but no less rewarding. With no Michael in the screenplay Carpenter and Howarth opted to drop all of the recognisable cues, and start afresh with an entirely new score, apparently improvised whilst watching scenes from the film on a TV monitor.
It's a much more melodic score than this approach would suggest, which sets the mood nicely, dabbling with dissonance at times but generally being much more accessible than one would expect.
The silver shamrock tune is just as annoying as you remember it being, but it's presence is welcome for the sake of completeness.
Both of these scores have aged incredibly gracefully and still retain the ability to unnerve.
Essential listening for anyone with an interest in the evolution of electronic music and synthesizers, which deserves a place in even the most selective collection alongside your Delia Derbyshire, Tangerine Dream and Fabio Frizzi.

Available from the fine folks at Norman Records here 
or directly from Death Waltz Recordings here.
Or if you're in the U.S you can buy Halloween II here and Halloween III here.

24 Oct 2012

The Best Psychedelic Albums of the 1980s as Voted By Active Listener Readers

The eighties poll has come to a close, and the results are varied and interesting.

Here then are the best psychedelic albums of the eighties, as voted by you.

15. The Bevis Frond - Triptych (1988)

14. The Legendary Pink Dots - Asylum (1985)

13. Loop - Fade Out (1988)

12. The Cure - Pornography (1982)

11. Julian Cope - Fried (1984)

10. Spacemen 3 - Playing With Fire (1989)

9. Echo & The Bunnymen - Ocean Rain (1984)

8. The Dukes of Stratosphear - Psonic Psunspot (1987)

7. XTC - Skylarking (1986)

6. Spacemen 3 - The Perfect Prescription ( 1987)

5. The Soft Boys - Underwater Moonlight (1980)

4. The Rain Parade - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip (1983)

3. The Stone Roses (1989)

2. Opal - Happy Nightmare Baby (1987)

1. The Dukes of Stratosphear - 25 O'Clock (1985)

Permanent Clear Light - Higher Than The Sun Review

Fruits De Mer Records 7"

Housed in an eye catching 3D sleeve, complete with 3D glasses comes this new release from the esteemed Fruits De Mer label.
Permanent Clear Light are a Finnish band formed in 2009 and this is the first fruits of their union.
They combine neo-psychedelia and progressive rock in a very pleasing manner.
The A-Side is an original - a moody and fairly gentle piece of dreamy psychedelia, built on a foundation of acoustic guitars with some very tasteful soaring Gilmouresque lead guitars. Very nice.
For the B-Side the boys choose to tackle the old Van Der Graaf Generator classic "Afterwards", a brave decision but they acquit themselves admirably, using it as a launchpad for all sorts of cosmic spacerock explorations, again immaculately recorded with some lovely guitar tones and backwards guitar work.

Also released by Fruits de Mer :

The Chemistry Set - Kiss Me, Vibrate & Smile 7"
The reformed Chemistry Set continue on their impressive psych pop voyage with two excellent originals and a cover of Tomorrow's "Halucinations". Very nice.

Anton Barbeau - Psychedelic Mynde of Moses 7"
The most English of American psych artists with a covers e.p where he turns his attentions to Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock and a little perversely, himself. As consistently entertaining as anything in his back catalogue.

As is always the case with Fruits de Mer releases, these are limited edition 7" only, so no CDs or downloads. Get in quick as these sell like hotcakes as a rule.

Order them here.

Check out Permanent Clear Light's "Higher Than The Sun" here :

23 Oct 2012

Prince Rupert's Drops - Run Slow Review

Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Vinyl / Cassette / Digital

I've spent a considerable amount of my spare time over the last month listening to this, which seems only fair considering the amount of time it's taken Prince Rupert's Drops to commit their debut to tape since forming in 2005. The old adage is that good things take time, and while that's certainly the case with the band's evolution, it's also a case of the journey that "Run Slow" has taken me on personally. While it was obvious on a first listen that this was a confident piece of rock and roll from a band that had given themselves time to establish their own identity, what wasn't immediately apparent were the many inherent subtleties of their music which have revealed themselves to me over time.
Prince Rupert's Drops have obviously spent some time studying the classic rock songbook, and have taken the lessons they've learned into a number of  interesting directions. Completely ignoring the quiet / loud aesthetic that most bands seem to rely on to create drama, PRD seem to have decided that they won't resort to cheap tricks where excellent songcraft and tight band interplay will get the job done instead.
 "Plague Ride" contains everything that makes "Run Slow" such a success - a great riff and melody (equal parts Fairport Convention and Wolf People in this case), a memorable chorus, and an extended outro with fine instrumental interplay that stands favorable comparison to Jefferson Airplane's late sixties heyday at it's heaviest.
Elsewhere the ghosts of everyone from Jefferson Airplane to Thin Lizzy to Creedence Clearwater Revival are conjured with verve, wit and grace.
Very fine indeed.

Preorder or stream below.

22 Oct 2012

The Smoking Trees - Acetates Review

Colour Tree Records CD / Vinyl / Digital

I've been following the work of Martin Nunez a.k.a Sir Psych with much enthusiasm since I discovered "The Popsike World of Sir Psych" ( reviewed here ) earlier on this year. "The Popsike World" was a lot of fun and reminded me of a lot of my favorite sixties albums, but with a fresh slant that made it more than just a rehash.
The Smoking Trees is the next chapter in the story. The Smoking Trees are Nunez and pal L.A Al, and 'Acetates" continues in a similar vein to Nunez's solo material, albeit with a far more expansive sonic pallette.
A number of these songs have been premiered already through Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Youtube, but refreshingly enough the material on here that hasn't been heard yet is of even higher quality than that which has been exposed so far. A cynic would guess that he was saving the best material for those willing to pay for it, but I'm more inclined to believe that Nunez is on such a creative roll at the moment that each fresh piece he's coming up with is better than the last, and that the best tracks on here happen to be the newest.
Whatever the case is "Acetates" is a total winner, and ups the stakes considerably on anything Nunez has released thus far. It's also a much more psychedelic offering than we've heard from him before with an ambitious mix and all sorts of crazy psychedelic effects threatening to unhinge even the most stable of listeners. That this process has been applied to some of the sweetest pop tunes that I've heard for ages is both perverse and brilliant.
It's a much more musically fleshed out release than "The Popsike World" too thanks to the collaborative efforts of L.A Al, with lots of guitars and plenty of big drums as well as the odd sitar thrown into the mix.
The highlights are plentiful. "Calling" has a sinister, trippy vibe with big fuzzy guitars and a chorus so catchy you'll be humming it for weeks. "See" has all the shambolic pop charm of the very best White Fence material.
Then there's the propulsive, jerky rhythms of "Stay For The Night" that makes even me, the whitest of white boys, move involuntarily in as best an approximation of dance as I'm able.
And there's plenty more where that came from too.

Pre-orders and streaming available through the widget below:

21 Oct 2012

Listen to a new Electronic Track From Steven Collins.

Steven Collins (formerly of the Owl Service, and currently Country Parish Music and Greanvine) has uploaded an interesting new electronic track to the Stone Tape Recordings Soundcloud page.

While Collins has never been afraid to bring a diverse and wide ranging set of influences to his work, "Time Ghost" is a confident step forward into what is commonly referred to as Hauntology and is reminiscent of vintage British TV soundtracks of the seventies and more recent artists like the Advisory Circle and Pye Corner Audio.


Stream or Download "Time Ghost" below.

20 Oct 2012

Tracklistings For Aussie Nuggets Comps Announced.

The 23rd of November sees the release of two fantastic Aussie psych collections, both of which have been highly anticipated since their announcement several months ago.

The tracklistings for these compilations have now been released.

The first, Down Under Nuggets Original Australian Artyfacts 1965-67 will feature the following:
  1. The Master's Apprentices - Buried And Dead
  2. The Elois - By My Side
  3. Black Diamonds - I Want Need Love You
  4. The Atlantics - Come On
  5. The Purple Hearts - Early In The Morning
  6. The Missing Links - Wild About You
  7. The Creatures - Ugly Thing
  8. Lost Souls - This Life of Mine
  9. Moods - Rum Drunk
  10. Derek's Accent - Ain't Got No Feeling
  11. Bee Gees - Exit Stage Right
  12. Barrington Davis - Raining Teardrops
  13. In-Sect - Let This Be A Lesson
  14. Steve & The Board - I Want
  15. Toni McCann - No
  16. Peter & The Silhouettes - Claudette Jones
  17. The Five - There's Time
  18. Bobby & Laurie - No Next Time
  19. MPD Ltd - I Am What I Am
  20. The Cherokees - I've Gone Wild
  21. The Loved Ones - The Love One
  22. The Easybeats - Sorry
  23. The Throb - Black
  24. Bluebeats - She's Comin’ Home
  25. Phil Jones & The Unknown Blues - If I Had A Ticket
  26. The Sunsets - The Hot Generation 
  27. Jeff St John & The Id - Eastern Dream
  28. The Playboys -  Sad
  29. Bobby James Syndicate - Hey Hey Hey
  30. Wild Cherries - Chrome Played Yabby
The second collection features up and coming Australian bands covering tracks from the original 1972 Nuggets compilation, selected by Lenny Kaye.
Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations Of The First Psychedelic Era will include :
  1. Velociraptor - I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
  2. Pearls - Dirty Water
  3. The Straight Arrows -  Lies
  4. Tiny Migrants -  A Public Execution
  5. The Living Eyes - Oh Yeah
  6. Davey Lane - Moulty
  7. Palms - Don’t Look Back
  8. Eagle and the Worm - An Invitation to Cry
  9. Step-Panther - Liar Liar
  10. The Laurels - You’re Gonna Miss Me
  11. The Murlocs - Psychotic Reaction
  12. Pond - Hey Joe
  13. The Gooch Palms - Just Like Romeo and Juliet
  14. Baptism of Uzi - Baby Please Don’t Go
  15. The Frowning Clouds - Let’s Talk About Girls
  16. Montero - My World Fell Down
  17. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Open My Eyes
  18. Bloods - Farmer John
The original Nuggets collection will also be rereleased.

Peter Daltrey & The Asteroid #4 - The Journey Review


This wee gem was released back in July, but hasn't received the attention that one would expect from such a fine collaboration. With the fine reputation that Asteroid #4 have built for themselves over the last decade, not to mention the ever growing appreciation for Peter Daltrey's former outfit Kaleidoscope, I'm a little puzzled as to how this was out for a month before I even heard of it's existance.
It's the sort of dream project that you expect to reach you by word of mouth as soon as it's announced, but somehow I missed the boat on this one. Fortunately it's never too late to take in good music, and this is very good indeed.
Those that have kept up with Daltrey's solo recordings of the last decade will know that he's still in particularly fine voice, It's matured and deepened but is in much better shape than a lot of his contemporaries - Donovan for instance.
Asteroid #4 provide sympathetic and varied accompaniment throughout, making this a worthy follow up to the Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour albums of yore.
Upbeat tracks like "Wishing Well" combine a pleasing sixties jangle with paisley underground leanings. The eighties psych leanings continue on "Pounding on the Door" which brings back fond memories of a misspent youth discovering albums by the Triffids and Echo & The Bunnymen.
Elsewhere things get much more pastoral, with some nice mellotron work and on "The Hero" and "The Journey" in particular, a continuation of Daltrey's more introspective, spiritual questing first evidenced on the more acoustic tracks from "Faintly Blowing".
Daltrey and the Asteroid #4 boys are ideal foils for each other, leaving me hungry for more of these cross generational collaborations. Now we just need to talk McCartney into doing an album with the Sufis...

"The Journey" is available to stream or buy digitally through the widget below - all proceeds are being put towards a physical release for the album so if you fancy seeing this on CD or vinyl at some point please pay to download a copy - it's worth every cent:

19 Oct 2012

Active Listener Radio

A new Active Listener Radio Show is up now.

A much more upbeat installment than the last few chillout mixes.

Featuring The Growing Concern, Delaney Davidson, The Edgar Broughton Band, Rodriguez, Melody's Echo Chamber, So So Modern, Stealing Sheep, Ford Theatre, Dudley Simpson, October Country, Manassas, Temples, Kontiki Suite, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Maston, Sir Psych, Real Estate and The Coffee Sergeants.

Enjoy it!

Stream it below :

An Interview With Thomas McConnell

Here's a quickfire Q&A I conducted with young Liverpool singer / songwriter Thomas McConnell, one of my favourite discoveries of the year.

Set this playing while you have a read :

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into music?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : I got into music through Thomas The Tank Engine like most people do... my Dad pointed out Ringo's name at the start of an episode and said he was in a band, and once I found that band, I never needed any others. I was about 6 when I started listening to them and I didn't get into any other artists until I was 13 - so it was 7 years of constant Beatles and then 6 more of near-constant. I started guitar at 7 and taught myself keyboard and other instruments from what I knew on the guitar. Apparently, I used to dance to the sound of the bath running before I could walk.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : You don't hide your love for the Beatles - who else was /is inspirational to you?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Yeah I don't like hiding my love for them, it annoys me when musicians who are clearly influenced by something try to act as if they're not but I also love Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Oasis, Bob Dylan and I adore new wave artists like Squeeze, Elvis Costello and XTC.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Your songs up on Soundcloud at the moment are great. Any official release planned for these songs ( either these recordings or newly recorded versions ) or are you working on new songs? What can you divulge at the moment? Any idea what format they're likely to be released in?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : I'm working on the odd new tune but I've got so many old ones backing up that I'm going to try and record them for a CD release hopefully next year (a vinyl even better). I have just released a download single called "Stop In The Shade/All Of My Days" and have a 6-track EP coming out on CD to buy from next week exclusively at my gigs.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Your songs sounds very much like they're created with something premeditated in mind. Do you have long term musical plans to go along with this, or are you more of a 'take things as they come' kind of guy?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : I'm a bit of both... in terms of writing a song I just wait until they come. I don't like forcing them but I do have long-term musical plans yeah... because my sound (at the moment) is Beatlesque, I need to work that through my system. There was no way my music wasn't going to sound like that at first because they are who I've listened to more than anyone my whole life - it was obvious that the initial material would be inspired by them.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : The arrangements on your songs are pretty complex (harmonies especially) - do you arrange them yourself?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Yes, as I said earlier I'm always thinking up new ideas for old songs and because the songs on Soundcloud are quite old tunes, I've had plenty of time to pile more ideas on and take things away.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Tell us a bit about your approach to the creative and recording processes.

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Well, after years of thinking I wanted to be in a band, I came to the conclusion that I have to record alone. I first started recording when I lived in Newcastle aged 11. For years I wanted to move to Liverpool and find a band (preferably a four piece with mop tops and cool suits). I didn't know anyone to record with in Newcastle so I taught myself how to record alone, playing all the instruments. Then when I finally moved to Liverpool three years ago and found a band, I couldn't work in it because I was so used to recording on my own. I'd find myself watching someone else record the bass or piano part or whatever on one of my tunes and just be wanting to do it myself.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : You seem to have been playing a lot of shows lately. Who's been fun to support or play with?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Well, I always enjoy nights at Vinyl Bar, Monday nights at The Cavern Pub and the Tom Hingley (Inspiral Carpets) support slot was fun (after technical difficulties) and, I'm going on tour soon, playing 8 dates round the UK supporting China Crisis and that'll definitely be fun...

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Who else do you rate in the current Liverpool music scene?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : I love The Ragamuffins, The D-Tales, The Mono LP's, Vanessa Murray, Dominic Dunn, Thom Morecroft, Michael Bennett and many more. There's a great scene here at the moment.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : I'm a total Beatles fiend as well, so if you don't mind lets geek out on them for a bit. John, Paul, George or Ringo - which one and why?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Paul. It's always been Paul because he's the most musical of the four, people always argue with me saying John's better and obviously, I love John and he's a genius but Paul is the underrated, essential ingredient to The Beatles. He was the only one who needed it and wanted it to keep going until the end. Even though in the later years he might have been seen as running the show a bit, that does mean that so many of those unbelievable ideas were predominately his.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Imagine the Beatles hadn't broken up and all of the solo post Beatles material recorded in 1969/1970 was actually recorded by the Beatles. What would be your tracklisting for the follow up to Abbey Road?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Well, it wouldn't be based on how much I like the songs released in that period because I love them all. My list is based more on what sounds the most Beatlesque or what was actually written while they were still Beatles. Also, I'm cheating because some aren't 1969/1970. Obviously I love songs like "God" but that would hardly be put on a Beatles album for obvious reasons...

1. What Is Life
2. Teddy Boy
3. Give Me Some Truth
4. Oo You
5. Every Night
6. All Things Must Pass
7. Junk
8. Look At Me
9. Maybe I'm Amazed
10. I'm The Greatest (I know it's 1973 but it keeps the tradition of someone writing a song for Ringo)
11. Cold Turkey
12. Isn't It A Pity
13. Isolation
14. Jealous Guy
15. The Back Seat Of My Car (I want this song played at my funeral)

Not the happiest of albums...

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Back to you now. What have you discovered are the pros and cons of being a musician in this day and age?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Well, I'm not a fan of social networking in general but it's definitely a very useful tool for promotion but a con would be that your promotion gets lost in a sea of pointlessness about people's tea and attention seeking. Also, how do you make a living out of music anymore when it's all on the internet? Even though I do believe that illegal downloading seems harder to do and get away with than it was a couple of years back, it's definitely done some permanent damage leaving a negative perception that music should be free.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Who would you like to work with in the future?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Glenn Tilbrook, Noel Gallagher, Andy Partridge. Aim low...

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : What was the first album you bought, and the last? Tell us a bit about them.

THOMAS MCCONNELL : I can't remember the first album but when I was about three my Mum and Dad bought me a cassette single of "Maria" by Blondie and that song has echoed through my life somewhat... and the last album is difficult as well because I buy a lot, so the answer will have changed by the time this interview goes up. My mate advised me to get into Neil Young so I just bought "After The Goldrush", favourite track so far is "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Anything that you'd like to talk about that we haven't covered?

THOMAS MCCONNELL : Just to say that If people want to see me live, I'm touring the UK supporting China Crisis from the end of October till December. And if people want to know more about my tunes then please check out these links...
and you can buy my single here - thomasmcconnellmusic.bandcamp.com

18 Oct 2012

Listen to Tracks From the best Psychedelic Albums of the Nineties as Voted By Active Listener Readers

Here's a selection of youtube clips from the psychedelic albums y'all voted the best of the nineties.


15. Talk Talk - Laughing Stock ( Full Album )

14. Super Furry Animals - Demons ( From the album Radiator )

13. Sun Dial - Exploding In Your Mind ( From the album Other Way Out )

12. Lilys - And One ( On One ) ( From the album The 3 Way )

11. The Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic ( Full Album )

10. My Bloody Valentine - Sometimes ( from the album Loveless )

9. Mercury Rev- Chasing A Bee ( from the album Yerself Is Steam )

8. Smashing Pumpkins - Gish Full Album

7. The Verve - A Storm In Heaven Full Album

6. The Olivia Tremor Control - Paranormal Echoes ( from the album Black Foliage )

5. The Boo Radleys - Lazarus ( from the album Giant Steps )

4. Primal Scream - Loaded ( from the album Screamadelica )

3. The Olivia Tremor Control - Jumping Fences (from the album Dusk at Cubist Castle)

2. Spiritualized - Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

1. The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin Full Album

Melody's Echo Chamber Review

Fat Possum CD / Vinyl / Digital

With production work by Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, and frequent comparisons to the much loved Broadcast, there was very little chance that Melody's Echo Chamber wasn't going to make me very very excited.
The Broadcast comparisons are apt although Melody's Echo Chamber has a sound much more heavily rooted in the eighties and nineties, and much less esoteric than the sixties space pop and library stylings of Broadcast. Realistically the constant comparisons are more likely to be conjured by Prochet's voice which does sound a lot like the much missed Trish Keenan's, although in all fairness Prochet does use her voice in different ways too - the soaring vocal hook on "I'll Follow You" for instance.
Kevin Parker's presence is a very welcome one, and while this album didn't remind me a lot of Tame Impala on a first listen, the gap has closed with each subsequent airing with little production touches like the McCartneyesque bass flourishes on "Crystallized" jumping out of the mix and making their presence known.
It's a very busy mix too, with layers of sounds working their way in and out of your awareness, similar in that regard to "Innerspeaker" rather than the more stripped back "Lonerism" - certainly an indication that Parker is ready to handle the production duties on his next album alone, if he so chooses.
Prochet's songs are hooky little numbers with plenty of range - from moody synth numbers like "Mount Hopeless" to full on psychedelic backwards tape trickery in "Is That What You Said?" but it's the overall sound of the album that keeps me coming back for more.
It'd be interesting to hear what these songs sounded like before Parker got involved. Prochet herself admits that she's been hearing this sound for years, but has been unable to capture it until meeting up with Parker.
The appearance is certainly that of a true collaborative effort, and a very addictive one at that.

Available on CD here or on vinyl here.

17 Oct 2012

An Interview with the Smoking Trees

With the fabulous album "Acetates" due out soon now is the time to hip yourself to the Smoking Trees and their self appointed mission to psychedelicise the world.
Firstly set this playing:

Now settle back and enjoy this virtual chat I had with Sir Psych and L.A Al, two of the most psychedelic gentlemen on, and sometimes off, the planet.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : How did the two of you meet, and what other musical projects have you done together leading up to the Smoking Trees?

SIR PSYCH: We use to work for a record store here in Los Angeles. We both found out that we made music. Al was playing guitar in a punk rock band called Homesick, and I was doing production work and played the drums. It wasn’t just Al and I at first. There were about 5 of us that used to jam out together. We all had different background as far as music that we played. Being that we were all from the same record store, our first band was called Clerk Two, which was a code for our record store for a manager to the front. Our downfall, as a band, was also that we all had different backgrounds in music. Al and I were the only two that meshed musically.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : So, who does what with the Smoking Trees in terms of writing, vocals, instruments etc?

L.A.AL: I play guitar and bass. As far as writing, I leave the words to Martin. He knows how to put words together. I am more of a riff man. Martin has a real good ear, as far as hearing something catchy or good for a song. At first when we started playing together, I would just come up with riffs, and he would come up with a melody, and would write lyrics faster than anyone I ever met. Good words too. And that’s how we first started constructing our songs.

Al Riviera
SIR PSYCH: I started off played drums, and singing. At first I couldn’t play guitar, so I started creating song on piano, by sound, and not by notes. I’m the type of person who can pick up an instrument and create something with it. So eventually I picked up the bass, guitar, and other instruments and taught myself to play. As far as vocals, we sing lead together on 95% of our songs. That’s what creates our signature vocal style over our instrumentation. One of our vocals might be more emphasized on a song, but our harmony blends are there in all our songs.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Al, I know Martin's looking over your shoulder, but how would you describe him and can you tell us what he's like to work with?

L.A.AL: He’s possibly the easiest person to work with. Sometimes I doubted him on what he was doing, cause I didn’t hear the same thing as he did, but I learned to listen to him, because when he gets to the next stage of the song I always say. “OHHHH that’s what you’re doing!” He’s has a knack for taking something that I find wasn’t worth using and making it sound good as gold.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Martin, can you tell us a bit about Al too?

SIR PSYCH: Al is a good friend, and has a good voice. We blend well together. A lot of people would not have the patience to work with Al, because he feels that everything can be better. I taught him that things never can be perfect. I learned not to be perfectionist, no matter how much I wanted to be one. When we make music together it’s always fun. That’s why we write so much music together.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Al, do you have solo material that you're working on too?

L.A.AL: I do. I have been working on my own songs for some time. All though Martin has recorded some songs for me, these recordings I haven’t showed him yet. I have been recording these demo’s by myself on my own time, and when I feel I’m ready to get them recorded, I’ll bring them to the table for Martin to produce them for me. I definitely have an album worth.
THE ACTIVE LISTENER : What are each of your favorite tracks from Acetates and why?

L.A.AL: “On an Afternoon”, “See”, and “To the End”. Those particular songs because of the catchy 60’s pop vibe the songs give off. “On an Afternoon” and “To the End” are Martin’s songs and the final takes of the songs came out so perfect.

SIR PSYCH: On Acetates I would pick “Persuaded Rendezvous” because it’s much different than our other songs on the album. I wrote it singing in the shower, came out, dried off, and went straight in the studio, and recorded it in about an hour. Al came over, heard my demo. We recorded our vocals together and the end piece came out just as I wanted it to sound like. “See” is also a favorite, because we wrote that one together. The live demo with Al on guitar and me on drums sounds just as good.

At work in the studio.
THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Martin, how do you decide whether a song is destined to be a Sir Psych song or a Smoking Trees song?

SIR PSYCH: I write so much. As I write songs I write them down and put them in order mentally to how they flow together. The more songs I write the more the lists change. So far for my next album I have about 40 songs written. For it to be on a Smoking Tree album it has to be a song we both agree on. Usually if Al likes a certain song, that is more of enough reason for it to be on the album.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : I see you've got enough outtakes from the Smoking Trees sessions for another two albums. Any plans to do anything with them at this point, and is it material that was left off because it didn't fit with the rest of the album?

L.A.AL: We have a lot of music recorded. But it’s mostly because it won’t fit on the album. If it were up to me I would pick 12 to 13 songs for the album. But Acetates isn’t your normal album.

SIR PSYCH: Al always says why I want so many songs for one album. As a listener, there are so many albums out there that are too short. Most are 10 or 12 songs and running in at about 20 to 30 minutes if you’re lucky. Acetates has 21 songs and runs in at over 70 minutes. If you can put 90 minutes worth of music on a disc, I feel you should use that space. It makes the album more worthy of the purchase as well.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : What are the two of you working on now / next?

SIR PSYCH: As of today, we took about a month off from recording. I have a few projects I am going to get started on. One is with Spain’s Miri May Moon, by way of London. She took a liking to my “Popsike World of Sir Psych” album and contacted me about wanting to sing some of my songs. I always wanted to write music for a female’s voice, and I already have some demo’s recorded for her. Within the next few months, I will start sending her music, and we will get this project started. I also have a project in the works with writer and assistant editor of Ugly Things magazine, Jeremy Cargill, by way of Chicago, Illinois. We have the same connection in music as far as being rooted in hip hop and both psychedelic music. We already collaborated on a few ideas, and should bring this project to life with some new music in 2013.

L.A.AL: I’m just working on writing and learning new songs. Martin and I have recorded a few covers and have recorded a few songs in Spanish. Possibly might be recording and releasing a full album or an Ep from The Smoking Trees in Spanish. We have a free Smoking Trees release after Acetates comes out which should be released on November 13.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Martin, how are things progressing with Colour Tree Records?

SIR PSYCH: We are taking our time with it. Our first official release will be Acetates. I am planning to release our first 7” this year with a track from Acetates. All of our B-sides I have planned will be non album releases, so they will be collector items. I hope. I am still looking for a label or distributor to collaborate with that can help in getting the ball moving faster. So if there are some distributors or label owner that are interested, please feel free to contact me. Let’s do some business. I have received some interesting music, and some pretty bad music as well, but I listen to everything that I receive. As soon as I financially get the ball moving with Colour Tree, I will bring more artists into the picture. I have already contacted a few artists, and I look forward to big things in 2013.

Keep your eyes peeled for a review of "Acetates" on here very soon.....

16 Oct 2012

The Best Psychedelic Albums of the Nineties as Voted By Active Listener Readers

The results of the Best Psychedelic Albums of the Nineties Reader's Poll are in - less surprising than the 21st Century list but still a few curveballs.
So here they go, as voted by your fine selves, the top fifteen psychedelic albums of the 1990s.
Click on album titles for more information.

15. Talk Talk - Laughing Stock (1991)

14. Super Furry Animals - Radiator (1997)

13. Sun Dial - Other Way Out (1990)

12. Lilys - The 3-Way (1999)

11. The Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic ( 1995)

10. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)

9. Mercury Rev - Yerself Is Steam (1991)

8. The Smashing Pumpkins - Gish (1991)

7. The Verve - A Storm In Heaven (1993)

6. The Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage: Animation Music (1999)

5. The Boo Radleys - Giant Steps (1993)

4. Primal Scream - Screamadelica (1991)

3. The Olivia Tremor Control - Dusk at Cubist Castle (1996)

2. Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997)

1. The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin (1999) 

Other acts to receive votes were : Anton barbeau, The Beta Band, The Bevis Frond, The Boredoms, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Broadcast, Julian Cope, Cotton Mather, The Dandy Warhols, Flowered Up, Flying Saucer Attack, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Green Pajamas, Robyn Hitchcock, Jellyfish, Júpiter Maçã, Jeff Kelly, Kula Shaker, Landberk, The Loud Family, Country Joe McDonald & Bevis Frond, Me, The Minders, My Drug Hell, Neutral Milk Hotel, Ocean Color Scene, The Pale Saints, Porcupine Tree, Ride, Scenic, Slowdive, Tripping Daisy, Vibrasonic, Wilco & Yo La Tengo

Another Active Listener Chillout Mix to Stream or Download

I had a hankering to put together another chillout mix after last week's effort so here goes - a short, sharp and hopefully sweet mix for you all.

Features :
The Association - Barefoot Gentleman
Isobel Campbell - Willow's Song
McDonald & Giles - Birdman Part 1 (Edit )
The Doors - Riders on the Storm ( Edit )
Charlotte Gainsbourg - In The End
Elliott Smith - Figure 8
Tim Buckley - Song To The Siren
Pink Floyd - The Great Gig In The Sky ( Early Gregorian Acetate Version )
Roy Harper - Me & My Woman ( Edit )
J.K & Co - Fly
Beaulieu Porch - Tiny Goddess
Erland & The Carnival - Disturbed This Morning
McDonald & Giles - Birdman Part 2

Download here.

Or stream it below :