Helen Love – ‘Pogo’

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Swansea punk poppers Helen Love are back and will release a new limited edition red 7″ single, ‘Pogo’, on September 1st through Elefant Records.

Although they’ve been around for more than two decades and establishing a dedicated cult following in that time, Helen Love’s music has a youthful philosophy and attitude, always giving off a carefree and fun air. The new single, ‘Pogo’, is in keeping with this tradition. It is a sumptuous slice of synth pop with some punk undertones and laced with some fabulously tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “Pogo pogo, hey my Italian boy .. The first punk boy in Rome…” and “Pogo pogo, hey my Italian boy, pogo pogo, I’m gonna pogo with you”. Combine this with a crazed rhythm, frenetic beats and all the colourful sounds, giddiness and fun that has become a Helen Love trademark, and you’ve got one hell of an infectious and addictive racket.

‘Pogo’ is out on limited edition red 7″ vinyl on September 1st via Elefant Records. Check out the video and b-side ‘Julie’s Got A New 7 Inch Single’ below.

 

H. Hawkline – ‘Salt Gall Box Ghouls’

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If H. Hawkline isn’t a name familiar to you, then you shouldn’t waste a moment more before acquainting yourself with this enigmatic and supremely brilliant artist.

Taking his place in a lineage of great talent that seems rather particular to Wales, his music sits nicely alongside the likes of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals, Sweet Baboo and Cate Le Bon, to name but a few. There is something utterly enchanting, unique and unusual to his exceptional brand of psych folk (which encompassed forays into garage rock from time to time too). The allure lies in it’s slightly rough diamond aesthetic and charming oddity fused with experimental whims, and a remarkable ability for a great melody and obviously, a phenomenal tune. Having just signed to Heavenly Records, H. Hawkline has released Salt Gall Box Ghouls, a free album that serves as a ‘best of’ compilation from his output to date.

Structured chronologically to include tracks from previous albums and EPs on Shape Records, Thrash Aesthetics and Turnstile Records, it offers the perfect introduction to H. Hawkline or for those already aware of his genius, a neat, trim compilation of some of his finest work. There’s so much brilliance on show that it’s a rather onerous task to pick out particular tracks for singular praise. Personal high points would be the delightfully melodious guitar led, laid back and sunny ‘Ghouls’, the the 7-minute melodious folk rumble of ‘Black Muck’ that exhibits his penchant for veering off into a slightly warped, oddball territory. And last but not least, the complete and utter brilliance of ‘Kiss Me On The Lips’. The intro will have you bounding around the room as it hurtles along at breakneck speed, vocals charging at you, before morphing into a haunting folk ballad that will have you in complete wonderment. In short: This is a sublime introduction to a supremely unique talent.

Salt Gall Box Ghouls is out now & available to download FREE from here. You know it makes sense.

 

 

 

Guest Post: Johnny Feeney Picks 3 Albums [Timber Timbre, Brodie Dalle & Total Control]

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The ever insightful Johnny Feeney pops up now and then to share his thoughts on some albums which have caught his eye, always adding extra flavour to the blog. Without further a due, here are three albums have been taking his fancy lately. Thanks as ever to Johnny for taking the time to do this and with that, I’ll leave you in his very capable hands.

Timber Timbre – ‘Hot Dreams’

The fifth album from Canadian outfit Timber Timbre is a rather dark affair – twisted, cinematic country/Americana accompanied by vocalist Taylor Kirk’s dulcet tones, baritone guitars, snapping percussion and luscious string arrangements that feels like a perfect soundtrack to a disparate spaghetti western noir. This album is certainly one that requires multiple listens before it fully reveals itself. The dreamy title track is the lightest thing on offer with layers of synth-strings and woozy saxophones but is an exception rather than the rule.

The sinister ‘Bring Me Simple Men’ sounds like Portishead gone country fronted by Roy Orbison. ‘This Low Commotion’ is an album highlight with its sweeping strings and tinkling keys. The supreme ‘Run From Me’ plods along before slowly building and bursting unexpectedly but welcomely into life. Instrumental ‘The Three Sisters’ mirrors all what’s gone on before it and closes the album with one final ride into the sunset as the darkness envelopes all around. Hauntingly beautiful.

Brody Dalle – ‘Diploid Love’

Perhaps better known as the former frontwoman of punk-rockers the Distillers and wife of Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Brody Dalle’s rock credentials are certainly plain for all to see on here. On her debut solo album, she takes on production duties along with QOTSA collaborator Alain Johannes and although guests on the album include the Strokes’ Nick Valensi and Garbage’s Shirley Manson amongst others, there’s no doubt that the star of the show is Dalle herself.

There’s no shortage of thundering hooks or spiky attitude with Dalle’s snarling vocals driving the songs along. The strongest track on the album, ‘Meet the Foetus/Oh the Joy’, is a paean to motherhood with an ending so impossibly catchy that it can lodge in your head for days. ‘Blood in Gutters’ is fantastic – the scuzzy guitars and Dalle’s raw vocals providing the perfect foil for each other. There are some weaker moments towards the end such as the tame ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’ but shouldn’t take away from what is an excellent rock album.

Total Control – ‘Typical System’

Melbourne quintet Total Control is not an especially easy band to pigeon-hole into one specific genre – new wave, post-punk, alternative rock, krautrock are some of the terms they’ve been labelled as. Their second album runs the gamut of all these and bends and contorts them into a weird and wonderful, heavily psychedelic sound. Founding member Mikey Young is also a member of garage-rockers par excellence Eddy Current Suppression Ring so it’s no surprise to see some rollicking, spiky punk rock appear throughout such as the fabulous ‘Expensive Dog’.

In other places you get something approaching straight-up garage rock like ‘Systematic Fuck’ and the much darker psychedelic sounds of ‘Liberal Party’ and the brilliant ‘Two Less Jacks’. The synth-rock of ‘The Ferryman’ is a further departure, while the chorus of the sublime closer ‘Safety Net’ evokes Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. All this interchanging keeps the listener guessing as to what’s coming next which makes the forty minute listening time fly by. Truly exceptional.

Introducing: The Careers

 

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The Careers are a garage- rock band comprised of four young men - Luke O’Neill, Eoin Conway, James Moone & Fergal Hennessy - from Cork.

They’ve a certain penchant for the past and sound as though they were raised on a steady diet of ’6os rock and roll and garage bands. There’s a very definite influence from The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, The Beatles and The Strokes, the latter of which looms largest, O’Neill’s often sounds eerily similar to Julian Casablancas. They’re a rock ‘n roll band, plain and simple. To date, they’ve released one EP, Atomic Cosmosaurus, recorded in the drummer’s shed, it’s filled with lively and stomping gems of the fuzzy, garagey variety. These scratchy, rough and ragged home recordings are endearing in their unique imperfection, and pleasing to the ear and an eminently repeatable experience. While there is a scrappy imperfection and absence of glossy production to their sound, the execution is tight, as any number of examples from the EP are testament to – from the bashed kickdrums and turbulent guitar riffs of ‘Won’t Go Far’ to the slinking swagger of ‘Try [Try, (Try)]‘ or stomping retro-fitted rock ‘n roller ‘All The All The Whiles’. Combining a clever use of great riffs, driving rhythms and catchy hooks and melodies, The Careers have struck an incredible balance between sounding familiar, yet wholly original at the same time. Hopefully we’re hearing more from them soon.

There’s a few choice cuts from their debut EP below, and if they’re to your liking you can pop over to Bandcamp and download it for free. And if you’re going to Electric Picnic this weekend, you can see them play the ‘Body & Soul Stage’ at 4pm on Friday.

 

 

Only Real – ‘Pass The Pain’

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We’ve been keenly keeping tabs on Only Real for quite sometime now, and it’s been an enjoyable one at that. He’s not put a foot wrong since introducing himself with woozy slackerish, surf-rock inspired tunes, produced in his West London bedroom.

In keeping with this convention, Only Real is back with another unbelievably excellent new track, ‘Pass The Pain’, taken from his forthcoming debut album. The young Londoner continues to bring the feel good summer vibes, blending jangly guitars with helpings of fuzz, some woozy atmospherics and a nod to the psychedelic. Add to that, skippy percussion and malingering basslines, which combine for a charming, upbeat and woozy tune, Only Real’s signature sound if you will. All a perfect backdrop his witty, off the cuff and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The delivery of which alternates between more traditional fuzzed-out ‘indie’ vocals and a sort of half-rapped vocal style, in which words trickle from his mouth with a free-flowing fluidity. Another top notch gem from Only Real and further reason to be truly enamoured by his music. ‘Pass The Pain’ is a perfect indulgence for the last glimpses of summer sunshine.

‘Pass The Pain’ is released September 29 on Virgin EMI (UK) and Harvest Records (US) and comes ahead of Only Real’s debut album which is penned in for release in early 2015.

Joanna Gruesome – ‘Psykick Espionage’

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This autumn, Welsh garage-punk rockers Joanna Gruesome are teaming up with Perfect Pussy for a special split 7”, which brings forth a combo of previously unheard tracks and covers.

‘Psykick Espionage’ captures the sheer brilliance of the Cardiff 5-piece’s noisy, distorted garage/punk in just over two minutes. It is a short, sharp blast of youthful exuberance, as they pound through violently at break-neck speed. Where the true joy of this lies, and Joanna Gruesome in general, is that they can seamlessly flit between ferocity and harmoniousness, never skimping on the melody or a catchy hook to eek out the sweet spot between disorder and harmony. It is yet another infectious, invigorating and exciting release from Joanna Gruesome, and a word to the wise, you should definitely check out their 2013 debut, Weird Sister. Back to the split, it is released via Slumberland/Captured Tracks/Fortuna Pop, comes alongside a comic book, designed by Phil McAndrew (brother of Perfect Pussy guitarist Ray McAndrew, in celebration of the two band’s joint tour hits the States this August, the dates are here.

You can check out both ‘Psykick Espionage’ and Perfect Pussy’s cover of The Sugarcubes’ ‘Leash Called Love’, below.

Cuinciu – ‘Face Facts’

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Wicklow producer Ross McDonald’s output under his Cuinciu guise (formerly Sliab Cuinciu), has seen him impress no end with releases to date, and he’s proven to be a rather steady source of quality electronic music.

New leaner moniker aside, McDonald continues this positive trend, keeping the tunes coming thick and fast with new EP, Face Facts. The new three-track EP draws inspiration from a wealth of hip hop, synth pop, disco and electronic influences, as McDonald delivers yet another convincing effort, of which, opener ‘Cosmonaut’, sets the tone. Driving beats and synths combine to create a smooth, slinking and captivating sound, with a dusky dream character (Kavinsky meets John Carpenter if you will). ‘Dayglo’ meantime is more playful, bouncing along as it goes. Closer and title track ‘Face Facts’ is like a bridging point between the previous two, chirpy and cheerful, while keeping the driving groove going, in a captivating soundtrack kind of way. As has been mentioned prevously, it’s been both interesting and enjoyable to witness Cuinciu’s progress the past 12 months, which has firmly placed him in the top end of a rather talented bunch of emerging homegrown electronic producers. If the past is anything to go by too, we’ll be hearing more from Cuinciu before too long.

You can download the Face Facts EP for free from Cuinciu’s Bandcamp page.

Win Tickets to Beach Day in The Electric Owl, Vancouver :: Sat August 23

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Florida duo Beach Day play The Electric Owl, Vancouver this Saturday night (August 23rd), as part of a summer tour in support of their new album, Native Echoes (stream it here).

Beach Day have kindly offered readers of the blog a chance to go, with a pair of tickets up for grabs. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is answer the following question: ‘What is the name of Beach Day’s forthcoming album?’ (Hint: Check here). Email your answer, along with your ‘name’ and ‘Beach Day’ as the subject title to barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com, before 12:00 (UTC) Friday, August 22nd.

Saturday night’s show should be a cracker and I for one can’t wait. The ease and breeze of Beach Day’s bright blend of garage rock, surf pop and girl group sounds is a delight, and their new LP has been monopolising my time since last week. Inspired by nostalgia but powered by a fresh verve, it manages to capture the best parts of summer and sits comfortably alongside contemporaries like Cults and Tennis. Beach Day’s Kimmy Drake and Skyler Black have provided us with a treasure trove of loveable and inescapably brilliant tunes that explore everything from ‘60s girl groups to garage rock and punk. If you’re still not sold, there’s some choice cuts below to sway your opinion.

Beach Day w/ support from Amanda X @ The Electric Owl, 926 Main Street, Vancouver, BC, V6A 2W1 ($10/7 PM) – (more details here).

 

Tennis – ‘I’m Callin’

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Tennis are back, the Denver indie-pop duo have announced they will release their new album, Ritual in Repeat, on September 9th via Communion Records.

Ritual in Repeat will be the third LP from the husband-wife duo, and follows on from the high standards set out by 2012′s superb Young and Old LP and late 2013 EP, Small Sound. As a taste of the new LP, Tennis have shared new single ‘I’m Callin’ which sees the pair retain their signature bubbly melodies and breezy pop sensibilities, while channelling some ’70s disco-funk infused vibes. It’s a bright, sunny and exuberant toe tapper, featuring some rather nimble guitar work, springy beat, bloopy keys and funked bassline. It offers a perfect backdrop for Moore, once a shy and reticent type, to exhibit her sultry, soulful and almost diva-esque vocals. ‘I’m Callin’ is a compelling listen, and while still very much Tennis, it offers a new dimension to the duo’s dynamic that should have you pressing repeat again and again. Based on this evidence, Ritual In Repeat, should be all kinds of charming.

Ritual In Repeat is out on September 9th via Communion but before all that, you can get acquainted with ‘I’m Callin’ below.

David Harks – ‘Open Arms’

 

1614556_742294825783330_1513816051_oDavid Harks left a lasting impression on introduction to his brand of heart-pumping, lush and elegant, well-whisked blend of soul and pop, with electronic undertones – a la the colourful ‘We’ and the irresistibly hypnotic ‘Illusion’.

Brighton based David Harks return, as promised, with a penultimate release from a series of four singles this summer. ‘Open Arms’ reaches into the realms of Balearic where sermon samples from a 10 year-old Cayman Islands based Preacher wrap suave steel drum melodies, waves of feel good vibes and tempered by halcyon synths and lush storytelling. This elegant, lush and swirling backdrop is at odds with Harks’ strong lyrical message, a somewhat nihilistic love letter declaring, “there is no religion, there will be no answer, put your loving arms around the ones, you want tonight, we could stay together, if we just come closer, I will be your window out through the other side”. For all intents and purposes, ‘Open Arms’ sounds like the embodiment of summertime. It is hard to recall when steel drums made such an intense impression, from the moment they’re introduced, let them take control and whisk you away into the throws of summer vibes.

You can check out ‘Open Arms’ below & if you fancy catching up with his previous work, you can do so here.