Following the release of their new album Laisse ça être and after a string of shows in France and Italy, experimental pop band Aquaserge
are embarking on a new leg of their tour, which will see them perform
in Spain, Belgium, the UK, Poland and Sweden. Autumn shows in the
Netherlands, Germany & more will be announced soon.
Most noteworthy are their concerts in London (sharing the bill with their friends Laetitia Sadier and Vanishing Twin
for a triple-header show at Corsica Studios (June 27), and at the
Different Sounds festival in Lublin (Poland) as part of the Crammed
focus, alongside Tuxedomoon, Skip&Die,Kasai Allstars and Aksak Maboul (with whom Aquaserge members will collaborate onstage).
hyper-imaginative and delightful album Laisse ça être garnered a lot
of kudos from the press, as witnessed by the quotes below. Their music
takes on yet another dimension onstage.
celebrate the start of this series of concerts around Europe, Aquaserge
are releasing a new video, for the song Tour du Monde (Around the
world). The video was made for the band by their friends Amanda Robles
and Matthieu Salabura, who lmed their personal collection of postcards,
in a single take. They intended this to be a kind of ‘good luck’ message
(meaning: ‘may this song get you to travel around the world”).
Incidentally, this is what the song’s lyrics tell us: “If you’re walking
in your own footprints, you must’ve walked around the earth”...
1st RENNES, UBU
2nd ALLONES La Péniche Excelsior
6th BRUSSELS Atelier 210
8th BOURGES Emmetrop
10th CHOLET Parcours Secret
27/06/2017 LONDON, Corsica Studio
28/06/2017 BRIGHTON, Prince Albert
6th LUBLIN Different Sounds Festival
8th STOCKHOLM Gagnef Festival
0th LIEGE Les Ardentes
22ND LA JEMAYE Festival Le Grand Souk
One of the more enticing releases to have come to my attention recently, this time via the magic portal that is Twitter, is the debut release by Northampton/London-based trio called The Paperweight Array. Their three-track EP 'Transmissions From A Distant Star' brims with melodic invention, accomplished harmonies and side-stepping chord sequences that conjures up an impressive list of possible influences. Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, ELP, Jellyfish are just a few names that spring to mind.
Like all good bands though they're more than just a photocopied version of their favourite bands with a sound that both pushes boundaries but not at the expense of accessibility As is said in music industry parlance they're definitely "ones to watch". Intriguing to see what they'll come up with next. Check out the EP via the player above.
(This review first appeared in issue #62 of Shindig! magazine.)
Sweden in the 1960s had
yet to prove itself as an international pop force yet this
compilation shows it had a wealth of home-grown talent waiting in the
wings to help its exportation of pop rival that of Volvo. The
collection kicks off with a track apiece from pre-ABBA Agnetha and
Anni-Frid before expanding into lesser known femme-pop territory.
It's a stylistic smorgasbord ranging from funky soul grooves, breezy
MOR, sassy girl group sounds to street-smart contemporary pop.
Sweden's pop industry
clearly took its cues from Britain and the US as shown by a heavy
reliance on covers: 'Summertime', 'Love Grows (Where My Rosemary
Goes)', 'Gimme Little Sign', 'Music To Watch Girls (Boys?) By' and
more are all given a Swedish language makeover. While some tracks may
have had a whiff of cash-in at the time they sound remarkably fresh
and spirited now. Proof the Swedes had much to offer before ABBA
(This review first appeared in issue #62 of Shindig! magazine.)
Waltz CD / LP
In the wrong hands a
spoof spaghetti western soundtrack could be an ill-advised dish. Not
a problem here, Federale's third LP is cooked to al dente perfection.
Its musical cues are taken straight from the master, Ennio Morricone:
haunting whistled melodies, twangy guitars, high strings and mariachi
brass all present and correct. Though they're not the only band to
attempt this sound, with the likes of Spindrift ploughing a similar
furrow, what really sets them apart is the vocal narrative: sinister
tales of vengeance and violence delivered in a pleasingly deep
baritone. Think Nick Cave and Scott Walker singing a song-cycle set
on the Andalusian plains.
For an album that
wears its influences so proudly on its sleeve, (literally with
artwork that pays homage to Scott 3), it's a true gem, packed
with all the darkness and drama you can handle. Widescreen, cinematic
Americana doesn't get much better than this.
(This book review first appeared in issue #62 of Shindig! magazine.)
The reputation of 1-2-3
has been steadily growing since the first magazine articles appeared
in the mid-'90s championing the Scottish trio. “The greatest band
you never heard of” claim carries weight when you stack up the
musicians who've cited the band as a major force or influence. Pete
Townshend, Paul McCartney and David Bowie were all big fans. Marquee
manager John Gee would go on to say they were the best band he saw in
all his years at the club.
Billy Ritchie's place
in popular music history is assured by being the man who introduced
David Bowie to Jimi Hendrix but his true legacy is his musicianship.
As a self taught child keyboard prodigy and through a succession of
bands Ritchie made the journey from post-war Forth, Scotland, to the
hip hangouts of swinging London and stadium tours of the States
before walking away from music altogether.
makes the case for 1-2-3 having been pioneers and architects of what
would later become keyboard-led progressive rock, openly naming and
shaming those who took influence from him and went on to reap vast
rewards. (I won't spoil it for you here by repeating the names!)
about the musical decline and industry machinations that failed to
keep the band in the public eye, Ritchie is equally adept at
analysing band chemistry, breaking down that elusive alchemy all
collaborative musicians yearn for. A fascinating read and one which
will have you re-thinking everything you know about the history of
(This review first appeared in issue #62 of Shindig! magazine.)
First time on CD for
this legendary lost album, and bolstered with the addition of three
7” tracks. The band formerly known as Mike Stuart Span were only
the third UK band to sign to ultra-hip Elektra Records. After
changing their name at label boss Jac Holzman's request in order to
be promoted as a new band, their 1969 recordings for what should have
been their debut album were rejected as not strong enough. In truth
they probably lost something in transatlantic translation as they
chime nicely with the heavy-psych and hard rock scene happening in
the UK at the time.
With phased drums,
incredible lead guitar work and occasional Beatle-isms Leviathan
sound not unlike a pre-glam Slade, or a more melodic, less
blues-based Zep. Quintessentially heavy, right down to the band's
whale-shaped logo. A nice follow up and companion piece to
Grapefruit's recent I'm A Freak Baby box set.
(This review first appeared in issue #62 of Shindig! magazine.)
Crown CD / 10”
It takes confidence to
open an early release with a cover but here it's fitting; The Shacks'
take on Ray Davies' 'This Strange Effect' enchants and unnerves in
equal measure, setting the tone for the rest of the EP. They display
a musicality and restraint that belies their youth, with their own
compositions as satisfying as their choice of covers.
With closely mic-ed
vocals set to barely more than a whisper and lo-fi bedroom indie
backing, comparisons with Mazzy Star, Jane Birkin and the Velvet
Underground's third LP are not unfounded.
This young New York
boy-girl duo have created the sonic equivalent of Coraline,
eerie yet familiar and certain to draw you in. Also notable is the
rocksteady backing provided by The Frightnrs (Daptone Records) on
'Hands In Your Pockets'. With seven tracks on the vinyl (nine on the
CD), this is a generous appetiser for their debut LP due early next
(This feature originally appeared in issue #63 of Shindig! magazine. For the full unpublished interview click over the jump at the bottom of the post.)
collective make wintry psych-folk with a nod to the occult and nature
mysticism. Duncan Fletcher feels the icy chill.
musician I admire told me that influence could be split into two
categories: ghost and substance. Substance could be the conscious
decision, as in, the songs were written largely with a folk palette,
and we had some shared influences in mind. But ghost is harder to
trace. It's the conscious or unconscious influence of a much broader
palette. Ghost is about aesthetic or feeling, not discrete sounds...
I'd argue we're driven more by ghost than by substance.”
says bassist Jacob Brunner talking about the range of musical
backgrounds that shape Shadow Band's modernised take on '70s
acid-folk. Hear it for yourself on their new single 'Eagle Unseen'
which, according to vocalist and songwriter Mike Bruno, was inspired
by “the current dark age we live in, the toxic political climate
and perpetual warring... the thankless will to do just and good in a
bad world as one's only hope for personal salvation, and nature's
gathering response to our abuse unto her.”
video for the single's other track 'Moonshine' was filmed in the
band's residence and creative hub, a townhouse called Castle
Corbenic. It's the ultimate hippy hangout crammed with books, LPs and
exotic musical instruments. Keyboardist Morgan Morel expands -
“Corbenic is located in an as of yet unnamed neighbourhood in South
Philly. There's a vibrant mix of people from around the world, with
an energy that borders on chaotic. It's comforting to think that
within the walls of Corbenic we've created a microcosm of our
the house also contains a raft of vintage guitar amps. Not surprising
for a band who cite Black Sabbath as a major influence. Jacob
explains - “I'd say we're plugged in more often than not. We've
played punishingly loud and feather-soft in the same show. It's hard
to say where the folk ends and the rock begins!”
Unseen' b/w 'Moonshine' is out now on Mexican Summer. A full-length
LP Wilderness of Love is also now available.
meditative music from the Washington woodlands.
I've written before
about the American musician William Sol, who musical nom-de-plume is
Prana Crafter. His previous LP Rupture of Planes (on US label
Deep Water Acres) mixed UK acid-folk with textural soundscapes to
great effect. MindStreamBlessing, Sol's latest LP, freshly released
on Eiderdown Records doesn't give away its influences as much but
that's no bad thing. The finger-picked guitar is still there as are
the electric flights of fancy but this time round the inspiration
comes from deep within his own range of emotions.
Using a simple palette
of guitar, drums and organ the music has a timeless, elemental
quality, inspired by nature and vistas and the feeling of being far
from the madding crowd. Fans of the much-missed Windham Hill label
will feel an affinity with the music here. This six song LP is the
perfect soundtrack for insomniac nights and the stillness and of
early mornings. Don't expect hooks, riffs or gimmicks, but do expect
subtle, slow-burning pieces that given time will have a deeper,
longer lasting satisfaction. A fine example of solitary yet subtly
Released on digital
download or as a limited edition cassette (100 copies only).
muti-instrumentalist releases a bizarre but lovely labour of love!
I have to admit I'm not
that familiar with the first LP by Egg, being still in nappies when
it was released. My earliest musical memories coming a few years
later and limited to the glam pop and tartan-clad boy bands prevalent
on AM radio at the time. Anyway thanks to the powers of the Internet
I've learnt that Egg were a three-piece prog band who signed to Decca
in 1969 and released and eponymous debut LP a year later.
Fast forward 47 years
and in a bizarre labour of love, Polish multi-instrumentalist Kris
Gietkowski has decided to record a full length LP featuring most of
the songs from Egg's first LP. Notice that that's most and not all,
as the press release explains - “it's only 'most of' as one of the
tracks would have taken him months to learn and he didn't fancy the
ten second intro track on the original album.”
Reading that I knew I'd
just love this LP, regardless of how it sounded. But anyway it sounds
pretty good. A fully instumental album full of jazz-prog organ
fugues, proto math-rock and quasi-classical passages in what I'm led
to believe is a fairly faithful replica of the original LP. And it
comes as a colour-in-colour vinyl LP, yellow in white to look like a
poached egg. How can any self-respecting vinyl freak not dig that
Released as a
colour-in-colour vinyl LP on April 17th. (300 copies only)
Hearted Scientists' frontman releases solo EP.
It's difficult to think
of a contemporary band as prolifically good as Soft Hearted
Scientists. After seven LPs (and nary a bad one among them) the band
are taking a year out to re-charge their collective battery. That's
not to say they won't be making music. Frontman Nathan Hall has
already enlisted a bunch of pals to back him on his debut solo EP.
Ladies and gentleman say hello to Nathan Hall & The Sinister
Fans of SHS will not be
disappointed, this new outfit ploughs a similar furrow. The same
astute, subversive worldview that characterised the best work of the
SHS is present throughout this four song Extended Play. Wide ranging
references, with equal portions of absudities and insights have
always been hallmarks of Hall's work and here is no exception. But
there's always a point to be made, be it with lyrics intent of taking
revenge on the perpetrators of genocide, lamenting the passing of
time or anaylising existencial crises. Clever stuff. No slouch with
the music and textures either. Gentle neo-psych one minute, baroque
pop the next before bursting out some ideas-packed prog the next.
Everybody's Burning Effigies
Songs For The Flowers
Like A Setting Sun
Catacombs Of Camden Town
Click here for Nathan
Hall & The Sinister Locals on Facebook.
(This feature first appeared in issue 62 of Shindig! magazine. For the full unpublished interview with Emm Smith click over the jump at the bottom of this post. Photo by Mat Manser.)
sonic adventurers go back to the future and top up their studio tans
with Duncan Fletcher.
I want to trip out like when you're dreaming, which can be the most
amazing journey. Jumping from one adventure to another, seeing things
appear in multiple places or configurations. Using the recording
studio as an instrument. A Jerry Garcia quote says it best - 'mixing
it for the hallucinations'” So says Stereo Moon mainman Emm Smith
talking about modular recording, the technique pioneered by Brian
Wilson on 'Good Vibrations' and SMiLE,
and also utilised on Stereo Moon's latest outing, The
Shape Of Psych To Come EP. Over its four
tracks the band pick up the psych baton that was dropped by
mainstream musicians in the late '60s. “I think
in a Brian Wilson interview from that time he mentions the future of
music being psychedelic and it doesn't happen. That future is a lie
from the tightly arranged psych-pop of lead track 'Requiem For The
Non-Believers', the band get to stretch out with free-form jamming
and studio experimentation on the EP's instrumental tracks. They've
also been obsessively re-working a debut LP, Smoking Shake By The
Riverside, which should be ready for mixing next
year. “There's a lyric in one of the songs that says, 'I've been
driving myself insane but I wouldn't have it any other fucking way'.
There's everything from pedal steel to horns, strings, double bass,
organ, piano, banjo. I was laid-off from work in 2015 so production
has slowed down. It costs money to rent a vibraphone for example, the
next thing to get excited about! All the exotic instrumentation can
be hard to find, or even people who can play them!”
shows are a less disciplined affair. Says Emm, “Live I’m going
for more of a noisy Velvet Underground sound with psychedelic organ.
For me the VU and The Beach Boys are the two ends of the spectrum I
want to explore.”
LP of quirky garage rock from Toulouse-based quartet.
One of the more
interesting bands to have come into my orbit recently is Muscle.
Mixing garage rock with hi-octane post-punk, their sound is quirky,
off-kilter and full of enough interesting little twists, turns and
additions to raise a smile from even the most jaded garage-head. The
band formed in 2015 in Toulouse, France and contains members of Gaz
Gaz, Crank!, Dividers and Liminanas.
Their quirky punk
sound topped off with sharp, acerbic lyrics is a real tonic in
troubled times. The've recently toured France, Switzerland and
Belgium. Hopefully they'll make it over the Channel sometime but if
you can't wait why not head across to France yourself? Muscle play
the Binic Folk Blues Festival in Northwest France in July. A festival
on a beach is as good an excuse as any for a cross-channel trip. Even
more so if Muscle are playing! Have a listen to their eponymous LP
Out now on limited
edition vinyl LP, CD, cassette or digital download.
(This review first appeared in issue 61 of Shindig! magazine.)
Top session guitarist
and Colorama mainman Carwyn Ellis teams up with family harmonists Plu
for this short but charming suite of Welsh language folk. Bendith
means blessing in Welsh, a fitting title for a band and album that
pays homage to family and fond childhood memories of time spent in
Carmarthenshire. This is most notable on lead single 'Dannybanc',
named after the home of Ellis' grandparents.
sense of place permeates the album with the sparse, subtle
arrangements and acoustic instrumentation allowing the Plu siblings'
voices to take centre stage. Elan, Marged and Gwilym Rhys' three-part
harmonies are haunting, beautiful and mysterious, helping make the
album into the perfect Sunday morning soundtrack
Minimalist and easy on
the ear, this delightful modern folk will be of particular interest
to those resident in west Wales, but will resonate further afield
with anyone with open ears willing to give it a chance.
(This review was written for issue 61 of Shindig! magazine. They didn't use it due to lack of space so it's appearing here.)
Tracks CD / LP
and problems caused by gentrification are explored on the band's 2nd
LP. The world-weary lyrics against a backdrop of breezy
12-string guitars provides a happy/sad dynamic akin to glimpsing the
sun through an imposing skyscraper skyline. It's this feeling that
binds and runs through the whole album.
With their harmony
drenched guitar pop, EZTV may be the natural heirs to Teenage
Fanclub, bringing melodic, slightly melancholic jangle to a new
generation. But for all their inspiration from the janglers of yore -
The Byrds, Big Star, The Feelies et al, the New York-based trio still
manage to sound like a band for now, one for today's indie-kids to
claim as their own.
Guest appearances from
Jenny Lewis, Chris Cohen and members of Real Estate and Quilt give
the album a contemporary indie shimmer, as does the crystal clear
self-production and Ezra Tenenbaum's wistful vocals. Big city
loneliness has rarely sounded so good.