Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Psychic Lemon – Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay

Straight outta Cambridge! An album to blur the lines between space-rock, shoegaze, trance and indie.

One album that's had repeated listens round our house over the Yuletide period has been the second long-player from Cambridge based trio Psychic Lemon. They may have formed a stone's throw from Syd Barrett's home but their music is not so much The Madcaps whimsy and a trip through Carroll's Looking Glass, as it is a foray into how far a four-piece band can push into uncharted sonics. More outward looking expansion than an examination of the inner-self.

This is apparent from the album's opening track 'Exit To Death Lane', a driving mix of spaced-out indie rock with low-in-the -mix vocals, a baggy-era drumbeat, pulsing bass, and guitar lines that are not afraid to experiment with whatever effects are at hand and can be turned up to eleven. This commitment so sonic adventure is a thread which permeates throughout the rest of the album.

Each listen seems to throw up something new, a fill I'd not noticed here, subtle use of effects there, the way the bassline pushes and pulls into new sections and possibilities. There's plenty of drone and soundscaping going on but always with a pulse, a drive and a direction. And always a promise that as a listener you're going to be taken somewhere. If pushed to guess influences I'd say My Bloody Valentine's Glider EP, Hawkwind, Goat, a healthy dose of Kosmische Musik, and some dancefloor vibes – the repetition and altered states aimed for in trance and rave music.

This is not about genres or influences though, it's music that has the power to transport, music that is both big on energy and ideas. It's meditative and expansive, yet also has the power to move your feet. Also worth checking out is the saxophone on 'Satori Disko' courtesy of guest musician Iain Roddick, which adds a new and unexpected dimension to their palette. Do please have a listen.

Click here for more on Psychic Lemon.
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Click here for Tonzonen Records.

Paul Messis - Songs Of Our Times

Third album from the garage punk outsider! 12 new tunes on a 12” piece of plastic!

Paul Messis is a man who knows how to achieve a biting guitar tone. As a student and aficionado of '60s US garage-punk, his attempts at re-capturing the sounds made by mid-west teens in thrall to British Invasion bands are pretty much unrivalled. Whether it's a biting bridge pick-up lead break, a Byrdsian 12-string chime, or a fuzz-guitar motif inspired by a copy of a copy of The Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction', Messis seems to nail it each time. More than the sounds though it's the spirit of those records he captures. That sense of being at odds with the mores and prevailing attitudes of the times.

So much for the sonics and spirit then but what of the subject matter? As we've come to expect from Messis there's a similarly biting lyrical barb that permeates this album. An attack on apathy here, a shot at governmental failings there, and expressions of disappointment in society's mores throughout. He's no killjoy though. Such pessimism merely point out that Messis believes in a better world and much like punk rock in '77, his lyrics call for more care and compassion, beginning on a one-to-one level and resonating throughout the wider world.

A hippy in garage-punk clothing? Perhaps not but it's clear Messis believes in the power of music to voice something, be it inner pain, critical diatribes against those in power, or day-to-day dissatisfaction. At the heart of this is a desire for communion and community. It's a thread that's present in all Messis' solo output as well as in the records he's made as a member of home-counties bile-punk band The Suburban Homes.

There's more to this LP though. Evidence of more mellow and nuanced sounds than we've previously heard on his solo LPs. 'Apathy's Calling', which closes side one of the LP's vinyl version has a more reflective and folksy vibe. A possible pointer to music he may make in the future, and proof that he's as adept at introspection as he is at protest. Other highlights include 'The Ballad Of A Strange Cat' which contains a neat autobiographical twist, and 'Mainstream Lifestyle Blues' where he channels his inner-Dylan and goes for that thin wild mercury sound. 'Don't follow The Man' also branches out into raga-psych territory.

Aside from his solo work and The Suburban Homes Messis continues to run the small but perfectly formed Market Square Records, specialising in limited edition 7” singles. He's also a member of The Higher State, whose latest album we covered here last year. It's in these solo records that Messis is truly himself though and we're glad he finds the time to make them. 

Click here for Paul Messis.
Click here for 13 O'clock Records.

Moloko+ - Bite The Hand/I Wonder (Ltd 7"/cassette)

Nineties nuggets from Hull resurface for limited vinyl and cassette release!

When I think back to the early nineties, I'm equal parts nostalgia and embarrassment. There I was, a young man in my early twenties who could get away with wearing white jeans. I may have thought I was the dog's gonads but truth be told I was more likely a bit of a doofus. Anyway there's the embarrassment dealt with. The nostalgia aspect is bolstered by the fact that there was a lot of great music around. It was pre-Internet so people still “went out” to meet people rather than swiping, liking and commenting on other folks' profiles. Remember that?

I'm reminded of all this thanks to two demos recorded back in those days by Hull band Moloko+. 'Bite The Hand' and 'I Wonder' are now getting a limited 7” vinyl and a cassette release thanks to the Fruits de Mer and Eggs In Aspic labels respectively.

I regularly attended gigs at Hull's Adelphi club around that time but never saw the band play, though I do have hazy memories of seeing the name on the Adelphi's hand written photocopied flyers. It's a shame I never got to see them as the music would have been right up my alley at the time. A hint of The La's, guitar work inspired by Johnny Marr, and songs that pay attention to the melody and and vocal harmonies. There are plenty of bands from that time whose music wasn't as good but managed to secure record deals and column inches of press. Strange world eh!

Moloko+ may be no more but it's reassuring to know that Simon Dowson from the band is still making original music as the frontman in The Gold Needles.

If you fancy a nostalgic bowler hatted nod to the nineties, the music contained on this 7”/ and or cassette is well worth a listen. Just don't ask me fit into those white jeans again!

Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.
Click here for Eggs In Aspic Records.
Click here for The Gold Needles on Twitter.