Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Fuchsia - Fuchsia


Specially augmented reissue of the classic 1970 debut! Includes 2nd disc of rarities, DVD, magazine and poster!


Fruits de Mer are not known as a reissue label so as this 2LP set marks their first foray into the reissue market they've pulled out all the stops. Even by FdM standards this bumper package is pretty special. An original copy Fuchsia's 1971 debut on the Pegasus label will set you back a few hundred quid. For a fraction of the cost you can have this newly pressed 180g coloured vinyl reissue which comes complete with a second disc featuring early demos, rarities and new recordings. There's also a 15-minute DVD featuring founder member Tony Durant talking about the album, a 24-page magazine and a fold-out poster. Told you it was special!

A little background info then – Vocalist/guitarist Tony Durant formed Fuchsia at Exeter Univeristy back in the '60s. The band was named after Fuchsia Groan, a princess character in Mervin Peakes' Gormenghast trilogy from the 1940s. Their sole LP came out in 1970. Like many acid-folk albums of the era (by the likes of Forest, Vashti Bunyan etc.) it was drowned out of the cacaphonous marketplace, pushed to the sidelines by big labels, big names and a burgeoning new heavy rock scene. As the years passed the album quietly staked out a life of its own. Slowly picking up converts and fans, and ageing rather well. Listening to it today, it defies its simple acid-folk classification, and contains a unique spirit. There are jazz influences on it, along with baroque instrumentation. At times quirky and playful, other times serious but always engaging and full of warm sentiments and plenty of heart.

The album would go on to inspire subseqent generations of hip-to-the-groove musicians. Most recent and notable being Swedish group Me And My Kites who named themselves after one of Fuchsia's best known tracks. The band actually feature on disc two of this set backing Fuchsia vocalist Tony on a version of 'The Band', a track which was originally issued on a 7” by FdM in 2014. A highly recommended package for fans both old and new.

**The band will be playing at the Sixteenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival in Cardigan, August 3rd to 5th! **

**Also the Half Moon, Putney on August 10th!

Click here for Fuchsia on Facebook.
Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.


Sendelica - Cromlech Chronicles III


Third instalment of exploratory instrumental Prog from Wales' celebrated spacerockers!


Here on the flat mud-banks of the east coast, we're about as far from West Wales as it's possible to be on Britain's main landmass, both in terms of distance and landscape. That may be why each time I've spent time in that beautiful country I've come home with my batteries spiritually re-charged. The combination of hills, valleys, clean(er) Atlantic air, rich folklore and a less-toxic national pride inspires and impresses me each time. All these things feed into the music that's made there too of course. Those teenage years spent listening to John Peel spin the latest record from Datblygu opened my ears to a seam that grew richer as more musicians came to my attention. Be it the Cool Cymru of the Manics, SFA et al, the gentle psych of Gorky's and CaStLeS, or the acid-folk of Meic Stevens, it was clear that Welsh music at its best had that elusive “it”.

All of which brings me to this new outing from Sendelica. It's the third in their series of improvised get-togethers. For the “Cromlech Chronicles” sessions the band de-camp to Mwnci Studios in West Wales for two days of playing, improvising and recording. The results then released by the mighty Fruits de Mer label. I've written about a couple of previous Sendelica records, their 7” tributes to Frank Zappa and DavidBowie. Without the restrictions of interpreting someone else's songs their muse is free to take flight in whatever direction it chooses. Over the six tracks on Chromlech Chronicles III we're treated to ambient textures, soothing sax-led loveliness, and some harder edged prog-rock (opening track 'BS'). Taken as a whole there's a meditative quality that mirrors both the physical surroundings as well as the musicians' mindset, one of freedom, open possibility and a willingness to enter into the mystic.

As always with Fruits de Mer Records plenty of thought has gone into how the physical product is presented. Three being the magic number here. Chromlech Chronicles III comes on three pieces of 10” vinyl (coloured of course). Then there's the 3D sleeve and accompanying 3D glasses. It's a welcome addition to the Welsh music canon.

**The band will be playing at the Sixteenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival in Cardigan, August 3rd-5th!**


Click here for Sendelica.
Click here for Sendelica guitarist Pete Bingham on Twitter.
Click here for Sendelica on Facebook.
Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Papernut Cambridge - Outstairs Instairs


David Essex fronting Lieutenant Pigeon! Papernut Cambridge return with more warm-hearted pop!


Here we are at the mid point of 2018, a strange time in an increasingly strange land. A government in crisis; a civil war in all but name being played out under the ongoing Leave/Remain struggle; Donald Trump popping over to meet the Queen; cloudless skies over a sun-blistered Britain; and perhaps most incredulous of all the England football team doing well at the World Cup. You could not make it up.

Oddly though the feeling round our house is more redolent of the warm glow of an uncomplicated childhood Christmas. This is in no small part thanks to the release of Outstairs Instairs, the latest long-player from Papernut Cambridge. New music from Ian Button and his assembled band-mates is always cause for celebration, more so when it's this accomplished and satisfying.

Papernut Cambridge continue to draw on the early-Seventies for much of their musical ideas, a touch of Ronnie Lane, some gentle glam stomp, a bit of wonky pub piano, some spoof hotel lounge bar music and plenty of warm-hearted pop. The overall effect is akin to David Essex fronting Lieutenant Pigeon.

But don't be fooled into thinking they're simply aping their '70s pop annual heroes. This is more than a Top Of The Pops / Hallmark Records sound-alike. What sets PC apart is that they actually say something in their songs. They have meaning depth and purpose. Outstairs Instairs bristles with emotional intelligence, and finds lead Papernut/songwriter/vocalist Ian Button full of acceptance. Acceptance of the world, along with his place in it. Many of the songs here offer an outlook that celebrates small acts of kindness and how much they're needed when our so-called leaders seem to have lost their moral compass.

Not only does the music hit the mark but as is always the case with PC, they present it in an attractive and interesting way. The vinyl version of Outstairs Instairs plays from the outer edge inwards on side one, and from the centre outwards on side two. Something to do with the inventor/architect Richard Buckminster Fuller and the C60 molecule named after him apparently. (Don't ask me, I'm no scientist!)

As befitting such a large and loose collective, the Gare du Nord Records extended family get involved – Jack Hayter features on viola, with (amongst others) Darren Hayman, Robert Rotifer and Luke Smith also playing various bits and bobs. If you've yet to experience the mighty Papernut, now is the time!


Click here for Papernut Cambridge on Facebook.
Click here for Papernut Cambridge on Twitter.
Click here for Gare Du Nord Records.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Walk Upright - Walk Upright


This week's hottest gig + debut album of spiky art-rock from London quartet!


Adding to Gare du Nord's impressive list of releases this year is this eponymous debut LP from London's Walk Upright. Lyrically rich with London-centric frustrations, delivered with heart, soul, humour and a healthy lack of cynicism, this limited edition CD was recorded in the band's rehearsal space underneath a road-supporting arch in Leyton. Sessions were disrupted each time a lorry rumbled past overhead. With this in mind it's no surprise the album has a taut, stripped to the bone sound. Short but to-the-point songs, spiky guitars lines, hooky keys and an infectious urgency to win you over within a couple of catchy choruses. And it does. Think Wire, Elastica and Blur at their best.

With not a duff track among them it's hard to pick a favourite but contenders include early single 'Trash Wave', an art-punk tour-de-force, or 'Waiting For What' with its killer bassline. Then there's 'Dont Weep Melissa' with its earworm chanted chorus, or the incredible saxophone solo (courtesy of Bozo Zoo's Alex Nicoll) on 'Wasting My Time'. Anyway take a listen via the Bandcamp player below and pick one yourself.

One quarter of the band lives in Austria so it's not often the band get to play shows together but this Friday they'll be playing a special album launch show at the Betsey Trotwood, EC1 this Friday(July 6th). Support comes from Picturebox + Robert Rotifer. Should be one to remember! Five pounds on the door. Bargain!

Walk Upright are -

Denis Osborne – guitar/vocals
Dee McGruddy – keyboards/vocals
Richard Easeman – bass
Gareth Spicer – drums

Click here for Walk Upright on Twitter.
Click here for Walk Upright on Facebook.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Smash Fashion - Rompus Pompous


LA's premier junkshop glam outfit back with a new LP!

Rock is dead they say, Long Live Rock!” - The Who, 'Long Live Rock' 1972

Hey hey, my my, Rock and Roll will never die” - Neil Young, 'My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)' 1979

Rock music's resilience is something else (as Eddie Cochran might have said!) Should human civilisation ever destroy itself, millions of years from now some future race of intelligent cockroach on an archaeological dig will probably find a Crosley turntable and stash of RSD reissued Thin Lizzy and AC/DC albums. They'll treat them as sacred texts and a new religion will arise, with power chords, pinched harmonics and sexually charged lyrics at its core. That's how resilient rock music is.

The last time Rock took centre stage in the mainstream was when The Darkness were on the verge of becoming world beaters with their first album. That never came to pass but it did show that classic rock had more mileage in it. Justin and co never fulfilled their early promise but they did serve as a reminder that classic rock is called classic for good reason

LA-based quartet SMASH Fashion make a heady brew of music that merges classic, stadium and glam rock. They serve it up with a hefty dose of good natured humour and some cheeky innuendo. And wouldn't you know it, it's fun! If their latest album Rompus Pompous had been released in 1979 it might by now have been getting the RSD colour vinyl reissue treatment, weighted as it is with all the tropes and moves of rock classicism.

Their debut LP Big Cat Love came out in 2014, since when main songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Roger Deering has stockpiled a fresh batch of hook-laden gems which make up their new long-player. Such is the infectious joy spread across the record, even Bowie's go-to keyboard man Mike Garson was persuaded to guest on the album, contributing piano to 'Smiles And Daggers'. It's impossible to listen to Rompus Pompous in its entirety without a smile appearing on your face. This is good-time stuff that justifies being played loud. Plenty of twin guitar solos, '70s FM playability, a knowing silliness and a production sheen not often found in 2018. Stick this on in the car on your way to work and Monday morning's sinking feeling will soon disappear. Out now!


Click here for the band's website.
Click here for SMASH Fashion on Facebook.

Ryan Martin - Gimme Some Light


Regret, realisation and redemption. Tales from the crossroads of modern masculinity.

Ever since the early '70s, a time referred to by some as “the me decade”, there's always been an array of confessional singer-songwriters in the musical firmament. Call it the Dylan effect. Having ditched the political for the personal in the mid'60s our Bob-ness inspired a generation of (mostly male) musicians to wear hearts on sleeves and encouraging the baring of souls, with each subsequent generation adding a new wave to the genre. Some were bad, many good, and a select few were amazing. So here we are now in the time of #MeToo, a long-overdue watershed moment in gender politics. It's an interesting time for female musicians with lots of great music being made. By extension any male singer-songwriter secure in their own talent should be able to rise to the challenges that the current social and political climate presents.

Ryan Martin is the latest sensitive musician to come to the fore. A Californian currently residing in New York, I doubt Martin would claim to be a political writer, or overly concerned with gender politics for that matter but his latest and second LP Gimme Some Light does capture something of what it means to be a man in today's world. It's as open and honest an LP you're likely to hear all year, with a rare emotional complexity. Rather than the bold declarations, sureties and definite opinions we associated with the age of social media and political bombast, there's nuance, self-doubt and vulnerability. A sense of him saying “hey I may have messed up in the past, I can't promise to be perfect in the future, but I can try to be better.” It's refreshing to hear such honesty.

Martin's back-story is a colourful one involving a traumatic car accident, addiction, subsequent treatment and spells in jail. The dark times inform but don't define his music. Gimme Some Light is infused with the notion of turning things round, steering away from all that's destructive and finding a better place, a better way of being. And the tunes and arrangements are pretty good too! With a similar buffeted and bruised Americana to that of Neil Young and Ryan Adams, Martin's autobiographical songs paint a picture of a man at times down but not out.

'All The Good Men' fades in with a background of ambient white noise before piano and pedal steel lead the way into a song which sets the emotional tone and themes of the album. There's regret but it comes with tempered with realisation. 'Destitute Darlings' is an E-Street Band rocker worthy of The Boss himself, full of passionate street-level romance delivered with bar-band wall of sound. But there are many great songs here, a mix of sparsely arranged ballads and full on rockers, all melodically memorable and from the heart. Gimme Some Light is proof that the future need not be toxic after all.


Click here for Ryan Martin's website.
Click here for Ryan Martin on Twitter.
Click here for Ryan Martin on Facebook.
Clickhere for High Moon Records.



Saturday, 23 June 2018

The Paperweight Array - Greek Theatre Show EP


If psych-tinged British guitar bands are your thing (and why wouldn't they be?) we have a great recommendation for you. The Paperweight Array are a Northampton-based trio who've just released Greek Theatre Show, their third EP, via Bandcamp. We've written about them before having enjoyed their debut EP Transmissions From A Distant Star. The follow up Kaleidoscope Of Antiquities was also on our radar but somehow slipped through the net when it came top writing about it. (Must have been a busy time work-wise, that's what usually stops me posting more!)

Anyhow their latest is well worth a listen. The opening track 'The Mountain' is reminiscent of Ride at their floppy-haired best, a mix of irresistible rhythms and spiky guitars. The title track 'Greek theatre Show' follows with more of a mid-'60s folk-rock feel. Lyrically it explores the volatile minefield of fractured friendships before leading into an extended coda of modal guitar arabesques.

They save the best for last however - 'Reflections (On A Western Trail)' has a Seahorses-meets-Big Star vibe, seemingly simple but actually quite complex chords and melody and ends in an extended guitar solo that any aspiring axe-god would be proud of. All of the band's releases are available via Bandcamp so go check them out. Here's hoping a long-player will materialise sometime soon.


Click here for The Paperweight Array on Twitter.
Click here for The Paperweight Array on Facebook.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Us and Them - On Shipless Ocean


Second LP from Swedish acid-folk duo! Gentle electronica, glacial vocals and Robert Kirby-esque strings!

Us and Them are Britt Rönnholm and Anders HÃ¥kanson, a musical duo from Sweden who make beautiful, soft and fragile acid-tinged folk. We've featured their music several times before on HD, most recently when they released 'When I Was Walking', a limited edition 7” single on Mega Dodo Records early last year. Their music is perfect for quiet reflection and seems fitting that as we approach the high summer solstice and the turning of the year's tide they're back with a full-length LP also released by the increasingly reliable Mega Dodo label. On Shipless Ocean is Us and Them's strongest and most confident release to date.

The pair's primary influences are never far from the surface – musically there's Sandy Denny and Vashti Bunyan, subject and theme-wise there's Northern Europe's natural world of climate, weather and the elements. Listen deeper however and there's more to heard - Echoes of Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks theme in album opener 'The Trees and the Sky Above', and a gentle smattering of ghostly electronica throughout. For all the ethereal beauty there's also a constant worldliness best evidenced on 'A New Life' which offers dignified lyrical stock-take of everyday emotions.

Us and Them's previous releases have contained cover versions, most notably the 10” tribute to Sandy Denny which came out of Fruits de Mer a few years back. On Shipless Ocean is more centred on original tracks but does contain one cover, an expansive ten minute version on Kevin Ayers' 'Lady Rachel' where the muted electronica meets exquisite finger-picked guitar. Other highlights include 'Changes and Choices' where the albums instrumental palette expands with various shades of woodwind, and 'Tail', a nine-minute opus complete with Robert Kirby-esque strings.

Fans of any of the artists mentioned will find in Us and Them new torchbearers for the sort of acid-tinged folk that gets more resonant with each passing year. For a sound that supposedly only shone briefly in the late sixties/early seventies it's proved its resilience and Us and Them make fine modern-day custodians.

Vinyl lovers will surely want to get hold of the 180-gram aqua marine coloured version, limited to 300 copies only.

Click here for more on Us and Them.
Click here for Us and Them on Facebook.
Click here for Mega Dodo Records.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

The Left Outsides - All That Remains


London folk-rock duo's ace LP! Beautifullly sung timeless songs!


It's a good few years since I lived in London. And to be honest I don't miss it that much. Well that's not entirely true, there are certain things I miss about it. Spending a lazy Saturday afternoon in a civilised London boozer, nursing a pint, reading the paper and perusing a few vinyl purchases is pretty much a perfect afternoon in my opinion. Red buses going past outside as the football results come in. Ah I'm getting all misty-eyed just thinking about it. I am at heart however a country boy, clean air, rivers and chalk hills hold just as much appeal these days. And I'd struggle to pay those London rents let alone have money left for a Saturday pint or two.

There is one thing about modern London that does make me wish it was in easier reach. There are some fantastic bands doing the rounds there right now, playing the capital's venues regularly. It seems today's London is experiencing something of a purple patch with regards to grass roots music. Thankfully I get to hear these bands via the records they put out. Recent releases from Green Seagull, The Hanging Stars and The Cold Spells have all hit the spot. Another name to add to the list is The Left Outsides. Their recent long-player All That Remains has been a Bandcamp favourite of mine over the last few weeks.

Genre-wise I'd go with folk-rock but really they're all about great songs, beautifully sung and played. There's a timeless quality to their album. The songs could have surfaced in the late '60s/early '70s and would have fitted in with the likes of Fairport Convention, Pentangle et al. Or they could be old English folk songs from a century before. Or, as is the case they're getting their first airings in 2018 and will still sound fresh as the seasons turn and the years pass. The only thing that places the songs in the here and now is a lyric that refers to taking a bus trip in the 1970s. Interestingly this is backed by electric guitar chords that echo 1976's summer of punk. That aside the lyrics have an elemental, earthy yet spiritual quality.

So who's behind these sounds? Alison Cotton (viola/vocals) and Mark Nicholas (guitar/bass/keys/vocals) were members of The 18th Of May and are in Trimdon Grange Explosion, another fine London band who put out an eponymous LP last year. The Left Outsides recently toured supporting Robyn Hitchcock. A damn fine gig billing that. Oh and Alison also contributed to Through Passages Of Time, the ace hauntological album by The Hardy Tree that came out a year or two back. London, it always changes but always delivers.


Click here for The Left Outsides on Twitter.
Click here for The Left Outsides on Facebook.
Click here for Cardinal Fuzz Records.

Bananas Magazine #16


New issue of our favourite inky 'zine!

2018 is rapidly approaching its midway mark. It's been a weird one for me so far, a few profesional breakthroughs but more than enough day-job ennui, usually experienced with the added impairment of a hangover. So yeah too much booze, too much work and moments of true joy few and far between. That said the new music I've heard this year has been pretty special. I've spent more money on vinyl this year than I have the previous few years put together and I've not regretted a penny. I'm not sure how you readers (I'm presuming there are some!), come across new bands and records. Don't get me wrong, the internet can be a wonderful thing and I use Spotify, Twitter, YouTube and all the rest of it and occasionally come across new music and bands that way, but there's no substitute for good old printed paper, curated content and stylistic parameters.That's why it's always such a pleasure to read a new issue of Bananas Magazine. For the latest in global garage rock nobody does it better.

The latest issue dropped through my letterbox last Saturday and truly brightened my day. I took it along to the pub that night and read through some of the great record reviews and interviews while my mate's band were soundchecking. Great to see HD faves The Blind Owls get a feature. Their latest Four EP was one my recent vinyl puchases by the way! There are also some fabulous pieces on Archie and The Bumkers, Les Sullies, The Creation Factory, Reverend Beat-Man and more. Bananas magazine always has the greatest illustrations, the artist spotlight interview with artist Matt Adams is fabulous too. Makes me wish I could draw! As ever the've put together a Bandcamp compilation to accompany the issue. Check it out below. In a time when politicians from every country seem to be getting more and more insular, protectionist and nationalistic, it 's encouraging to see musicians and music fans in favour of disregarding boundaries and borders and fostering a truly global inclusive attitude. More of it please!

www.bananas-magazine.com
www.facebook.com/bananasmagazine


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Lancashire Hustlers - Stuck In A Daydream


Latest album of strange and clever pop from our favourite northern emigres.


Having enjoyed previous albums by The Lancashire Hustlers there was a real sense of anticipation before putting this latest CD into the player, and as expected the music didn't disappoint. For those unfamiliar here's a brief resume – Brent Thorley and Ian Pakes are two northerners exiled in London who make intelligent, literate adult pop music that leans heavily on their vocal harmonising and tasteful song-supporting arrangements. They sound like a mash-up of Steely Dan and The Everly Brothers busking somewhere on the Central Line.

Stuck In A Daydream is the duo's fifth full-length album. Their previous albums were all made with a central thread or narrative, the songs connected by a unifying story or theme. What Made Him Run from 2015 centres on family relationships and what happens when ambition runs wild, whereas Adventure (2017) is a globe-straddling cinematic musical travelogue. On Stuck In A Daydream however they've freed themselves up from such constructs, allowing each song to stand on it's own merits.

That said many of the songs' subject matter deal with a sense of disconnect, displacement and a gentle yearning. 'Have You Seen My Twin?' may be a song about the phenomena of womb twin survival. 'Underwater Memories' flips the gender roles in a story of a mer-man leaving the sea in search of on-land love. 'Consider Me' is a relatively straightforward love song but again centres on this need to connect. Similarly 'Been' and 'My Friend' both deal with issues surrounding separation. And album closer 'Party Pooper' captures that feeling we've all had when we feel out of place.

There's more though. 'Art Appreciation' deals with the bafflement and minefield that many of us feel when trying to er... appreciate art. Then there's the dreamy instrumental title track and 'Put On A Platform', a mysterious sphinx of a song with snaking saxophone lines and cryptic lyrics.

As ever with The Lancashire Hustlers the music is a delight, doesn't beg you to pay attention with overblown tricks but instead opts for a slow-burning, ultimately more persuasive low-level charm offensive. Plenty of hand-held percussion, an array of musical instruments from around the world, snazzy snatches of fuzz guitar here and neat touches of piano or Mellotron there. But the jewel in the crown is as ever the intelligent songcraft and their vocal harmony blend. Stuck In A Daydream may well be The Lancashire Hustlers' finest release to date. If you've yet to experience their music it's a great place to start.


Click here for The Lancashire Hustlers' website.
Click here for The Lancashire Hustlers on Facebook.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Beau - Rattle The Asylum Bars


HD's favourite folkie returns with more wry, satirical, protest, commentary and observation.

It's a standing joke among music journalists that there's always a folk revival going on. It's kind of a truth but looked at from another angle it means that folk music never actually goes away, an eternal touchstone and deep well of inspiration for each new generation of musicians. As a genre it occasionally provides the mainstream with crossover stars but for each of those there are countless other artists, often more unique and talented, mining away at the coalface of folk music and adhering to its core principles; giving voice to the marginalised, highlighting injustice, celebrating cooperation and community while also entertaining and actually having fun.

Which bring me to Beau, who is back with a brand new set of songs that does all those things and more. For those unfamiliar with Beau here's a little back story – Beau (AKA Trevor Midgley) was the first artist to record for John Peel's Dandelion label back in the late '60s. He's continued to write, record and play live ever since, amassing an impressive back catalogue of material. His is a stripped down sound, one voice, one Harmony 12-string acoustic guitar, which lets the lyrics take centre stage.

On his new album Rattle The Asylum Bars, Beau shows he's as astute with those lyrics now as he was back on his 1969 debut. The subject matter ranges from historical lessons society has yet to learn, observations on modern foibles, calls for increased compassion and as you'd expect in these strange times, a little political commentary. As ever with Beau's work you come away feeling informed, entertained and aware that the world is more nuanced than “moral absolutists and polemicists” would have us believe.


Click here for more on Beau.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Secret Colours - Dream Dream NEW LP & VIDEO!


Secret Colours are a new group to me. Based in Chicago, they're all set to release their fourth LP, Dream Dream in July.  This is the title track and lead single. I don't often post new videos on here but thought this was pretty good! A mix of '60s psych and '90s Britpop. Pretty cool I'd say!

Click here for Secret Colours' website.
Click here for Secret Colours on Facebook.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Anton Barbeau - Natural Causes


Latest LP from Berlin-based Barbeau! “Pre-apocalyptic psychedelic pop”!


We've covered the very wonderful Anton Barbeau a couple of times here at HDHQ - last year's 'Heaven Is In Your Mind' 7” and the excellent Three Minute Tease LP made with members of the Soft Boys and XTC. Mr. Barbeau is such a productive and creative free-spirit, it's always reassuring to know that new music is never too far away, and never disappoints. His latest album Natural Causes came out a week ago and is as good an entry point into Anton's oeuvre as you'll find, containing new material mixed in with old favourites re-worked. Eclectic, intelligent and with occasional sphinx-like mystery and depth, it holds together as both a new album and a cohesive “best of”, full of shimmering jangle, idiosyncratic melodies, sometimes elusive time signatures and lyrics to maintain your interest and ruminations long after the album's final track fade out.

The record came into being after attempts at a more political album Applewax were ditched. Says Anton - “... Applewax was full of gun-loving rednecks and I just decided there was no good putting more of that back into the world.” A fair point, and perhaps the material recorded will one day find a suitable release. We can all agree there's perhaps too much heaviness and doom around presently. Optimism, positivity and good vibes are in shorter supply so floppy hats off to Anton for making that decision. Mellotrons, MiniMoogs, 12-string acoustic guitars all contribute to the general breezy, uplifting feel, but the lyrics ensure the record is fun but far from lightweight.

An old favourite 'Magazine Street' gets a re-working and opens the album. Among the new material is 'Mumble Something' and 'Magic Sandwiches' (how can you resist a title like that! 'Secretion Of The Wafer' featured on Anton's recent Fruits de Mer 7” but is here in its earlier original recording. My favourite tracks on the album are 'It's The Coffee That Makes The Man Go Mad' with its beguiling time signature and earworm chorus and 'Disambiguation' a thought-provoking study in modern psychedelic pop.

Classic Barbeau and a solo record in name but Natural Causes was made with a little help from his friends. Guest musicians include Andy Metcalfe( Soft Boys), Nick Saloman and Ade Shaw (Bevis Frond), Robbie McIntosh (guitarist for The Pretenders, Paul, McCartney), Michael Urbano (Todd Rundgren, Neil Finn) and Karla Kane who duets with Anton on 'Neck Pillow.' If you're unfamiliar with the music of Anton Barbeau Natural Causes is a great place to start.


Click here for Anton Barbeau's website.
Click here for Anton Barbeauon Twitter.
Click here for Anton Barbeau on Facebook.
Click here for Gare Du Nord Records.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Sufis - Interview and Exclusive Spotify Playlist


(This feature first appeared in issue #71 of Shindig! magazine. Click over the jump at the bottom to read the full unpublished interview. The Sufis have also very kindly put together an exclusive Spotify playlist for us featuring their favourite artists and inspirations. Do have a listen, it's highly enjoyable and an education in its own right.)

Late-night devotion.

Brooklyn-based duo The Sufis return with After Hours, a thrills-packed LP inspired by the misfits, scenarios and anything goes attitude of the Big Apple. Duncan Fletcher stays up after bedtime.



Calvin Laporte and Evan Smith have been collaborating as The Sufis since meeting at university. “We have very different approaches,” says Calvin, “Evan's formally trained and I mostly play by ear. We're kinda like Yin and Yang or Bert and Ernie haha! ... Neither of us has many strengths musically speaking, eventually we'd like to hire session musicians to just focus on writing and arranging.”

The Sufis' third and latest LP After Hours disputes this modesty with its scene-setting lyrics and infectious take on soul, disco and reggae rhythms. Such eclecticism is explained by an open-mindedness when consuming music. Says Calvin - “I get bored listening to the same band or album over and over again, so I'm always hopping between genres in search of something new. Nothing's off limits as long it's a good song with a genuine feeling behind it. My favourite albums are ones that have variety like Tusk or Sign 'O' The Times.”

The Sufis' previous albums were made in Nashville but a move to Brooklyn provided fresh inspiration. “There’s an energy in New York that's unlike anything I've experienced anywhere else” says Evan. “You have to go through so much just to play drums for example, so once you're at the studio you want to make sure you get something good. The record stores are amazing too so when we weren't playing or writing we were spoilt by all the great stuff to dig through.”

The move also enabled tuition from a left-field legend. “Before we started working on After Hours I spent half a year working and studying with La Monte Young at his loft in Tribeca. A lot of the songs are about those times” say Calvin. Despite such mentoring, After Hours is anything but avant-garde or minimalist, and draws inspiration from across the musical spectrum. “I was listening to a lot of jazz and soul,” says Calvin. “I always look up to writers like Smokey Robinson, Allen Toussaint and Wayne Shorter. We were really into Tin Pan Alley and Brill Building writers too. I remember putting on a lot of '80s and '90s Lou Reed after recording sessions haha!”

“I was heavily inspired by the session work of Aynsley Dunbar and the songs of Leiber and Stoller, as well as Hoagy Carmichael” adds Evan, “along with Burt Bacharach's arrangements and Linda McCartney's synth lines.”

After Hours is preceded by a single, 'All Knowing (71)'. Calvin explains the number's significance - “That's a reference to a chapter in the Tao Te Ching. I'm always trying to remind myself that I don’t know anything. I used to be a voracious reader, but lately I just read the Tao over and over. The instrumental section was inspired by Philip Glass and is meant to represent the paradox in the second part of the chapter.”

“While making the record we became fascinated with the Tao and read it constantly, we still do” says Evan. “I guess I'm always trying to destroy my ego even if I fail most of the time, and that's what the song is kinda about.”

After Hours is out now on Burger Records.
 
Check out The Sufis Favourites Spotify playlist below, and click over the jump to read the full interview.



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