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ALBUM REVIEW – The Band Of Holy Joy “Funambulist We Love You”

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The Band Of Holy Joy
Funambulist We Love You 
Tiny Global

“Bring back those days” harks the refrain throughout ‘A Revivalist Impulse’, the opening track from The Band of Holy Joy’s latest long player Funambulist We Love You.

BoHJ have been ploughing their own unique furrow of alternative music for well over three decades now and there is still no need for them to succumb to the revivalist impulse about which they sing. For sure the band has changed, evolved over time, with singer and lyricist Johny Brown the one constant in a co-operative that has seen as many ups and downs as a trainee tightrope walker. However, this does not mean that the band’s best days are behind them; far from it.

Funambulist is a joyous record, as close to pop as BoHJ will possibly ever get, with the lyrical qualities and thematic support for the unlikely prevalent in the earliest recordings of the band still very much to the forefront. Here is a joyous collection of songs that finds Johny and his colleagues timelessly contemporary. The scratchy, patchy instrumentation of yore has been supplanted by a tighter, more conventional approach but the atmospheres remain the same.

There may be only eight tracks on the long-player, but the record is very much an ‘album’ as opposed to a collection of eight songs which in itself is something of a rarity these days. Lyrically Johny remains on top form, with subtle twists and turns when least expected (“You’re going to walk away from me” he sings on The Song Of Casual Indifference; “What can I do to make you stay/Away?”), whilst melodically the eponymous album closer is as beautiful as the band have ever written.

Perhaps Johny is writing about his vision of BoHJ in To Leave Or Remain when he sings “Nothing in this entire universe ever perishes/This thing may pass into that and that into this/Yet the sum of things remains unchanged”? There are certainly some metaphorical truths to be found in the album, and as The Band of Holy Joy stand high above the rooftops here, I too hope they don’t fall.

You can purchase “Funambulist We Love You” or check out BoHJ via the following links

Bandcamp: 
BoHJ Website:
Twitter: 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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ALBUM REVIEW – The Salient Braves “Delusions of Grandeur”

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The Salient Braves
Delusions of Grandeur
Broken Down Records

After three EPs, well-received by those in the know, Barnsley indie pop outfit The Salient Braves return with their debut album on vinyl. Backed with a crowdfunding effort, it was released on September 22, 2017 by Broken Down Records. It’s a treat for the ears once again, marrying great melodies and guitar pop with songwriter Matt Bailey’s lyrical wit.

The gritty cover art and tracklist suggests there’s more of the familiar theme of social injustice. There’s clever wordplay on everything from depression and mental illness to addiction and domestic violence, but you wouldn’t necessarily take notice at first. Trademark harmonies, chiming guitars, and brass are at the forefront of the songs. Standout track “They Must’ve Seen Me Coming” in my opinion, is destined to become a classic indie pop tune.

The album is given musical balance with the dreamy My Alter Ego. And on the somber but stately Bangkok (think McCarthy) there are gorgeous strings laced throughout, but you soon find out that a relationship found on holiday doesn’t end well for him. The record finishes with the aptly titled Evening All (Satchmo’s Song). It starts off with a simple bass and piano, with the song continuing to build until Matt reads off a list all that Louis Armstrong did not get right with the world. Pure genius.

Thankfully, as I’ve stated before, The Salient Braves continue to wear their influences on their sleeves. This is one of the year’s finest releases, if done so with little fanfare. You’ll want to add this to your record collection and file it alongside the likes of The Wedding Present, The June Brides, The Brilliant Corners, The Smiths, you get the idea. A record that harks back to the golden era of indie pop but remains relevant in today’s complicated world

Broken Down Records: https://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/delusions-of-grandeur
Bandcamp: https://thesalientbraves.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/salientbraves/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/salientbraves

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A native of California, a wife and mother of two, Esther can be found escaping onto Twitter as @myrtleleaf to tweet about music, a life-long passion. She still mostly lives in the past. ________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you to Esther for a another wonderful review.

Watch out for further reviews, whether it’s re-issues or new releases. If you would like to review something yourself, you know where to find us.

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The Orchids “Who Needs Tomorrow…A 30 Year Retrospective” – Review

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Regular EIO40 reviewer and contributor Rob Morgan (@durutti74) managed to get his mitts on an advance copy of the new Orchids retrospective and has given it the once over in his inimitable style.

As is usually the case with any of Rob’s output he takes us beyond a mere review and on a journey, pulling in history and context, adding emotional ingredients, offering up tips and even reserving some space to throw in a heartfelt appeal.

So being aware of The Orchids and those glorious songs is not a mandatory requirement to hop on board. Whatever happens you’ll take something away from reading on, believe us. Rob himself was even rewarded with an unexpected revelation.

So over to an 18 year old Rob then….

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The Orchids
Who Needs Tomorrow… – A 30 Year Retrospective
Cherry Red Records

30 years? How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself. 30 years ago this Autumn I was a callow 18 year old, settling into life in the halls of residence in Sheffield Poly, and I thought I knew it all. Sure, my hall mates were listening to Suzanne Vega, Sting, Whitney Houston and Marillion but I was listening to better music than that. Didn’t they read the NME or Melody Maker? I read both, cover to cover, every week and I knew what was going on.

The Smiths had just fallen apart amid much acrimony and their final album “Strangeways here we come” was my soundtrack for that season. Nobody else made guitar music as good as The Smiths, in my view. The whole C86 scene had passed me by, I thought it was jingle jangle nonsense, I always paused my taping of Peel when he announced another song by the Soup Dragons or the Wedding Present …. it just didn’t float my boat. Give me Wire, Durutti Column, Microdisney…. just don’t give me 12 string guitars and fey vocals, they say nothing to me about my life. And what’s the obsession with fanzines and flexidiscs? Get with the technology, people – I’d just bought a CD player, perfect sound forever you know.

How wrong could I be?

I may have been reading the music papers every week but I was ignoring them really. I wasn’t noticing what was happening, partly because there was too much going on (I did notice the acid house scene, after all a lot of the Hacienda DJs would regularly cross the Pennines to play at the Leadmill), but I missed a lot of the interesting music of the late 80s due to my blind prejudice against the jingle jangle. I should also mention I missed a lot of the other good music from that era (the MBV / Loop / Spacemen 3 noise and AR Kane dream pop) as I thought it was all music paper hype. What was I thinking? What was I doing to miss these seismic shifts in music?

Somehow I caught up. It was hearing “Sensitive” by The Field Mice on Peel’s ’89 Festive Fifty which caught me first, then buying “Temple Cloud” – the second Sarah Records compilation album – in the summer of 1990 changed my mind. I’d seen the name Sarah Records crop up in the music papers, initially rave reviews for their early single releases written by Bob Stanley in the NME, then sarky reviews dismissing every Sarah Record as the product of wimps feeling melancholy because girls weren’t interested in them. (I paraphrase of course, but some of the reviews really were horrible – check out the Sarah Records website where old music paper reviews are reproduced).

Two points struck me here. Firstly, I was kind of sympathetic to the viewpoint posited above re melancholic unrequitedness. Secondly the first song on “Temple Cloud” wasn’t like that at all. It was almost seven minutes long, it moved slowly and built itself up from simple synth washes, a sparse drum machine, a sleepy sounding vocalist and some sky kissing guitar work – pushing itself into a lethargic chorus of “That’s the way it goes, my friend….” This wasn’t what my perception of a Sarah Record should sound like. This wasn’t jingle jangle nonsense. This was a wonderful song. This was “Yawn” by The Orchids and I was immediately smitten.

The story of the Orchids is entwined with the story of Sarah Records. Their debut single “I’ve Got A Habit” was Sarah 2, issued simultaneously with Sarah 1 –“Pristine Christine” by The Sea Urchins – early in 1988. Before that hard vinyl release the Orchids had issued “From This Day” on a flexidisc during the autumn of 87. So they were there at the beginning and at the end too, playing a set during the August Bank Holiday Sarah Records Farewell Party, alongside other Sarah acts like Heavenly, Blueboy, Secret Shine and Harvey Williams.

Now those names seem legendary, the reputation of Sarah Records and their acts have never been higher – Michael White’s book “Popkiss” and Lucy Dawkins’ film “My Secret World” have raised the profile of the little label from Bristol two decades after it stopped operating. Hell, the NME recently  called Sarah Records one of the coolest indie labels of all time, which is some turnaround.

But what of the Orchids? Well they’re a five piece group formed in Glasgow in the mid 80s and still going strong, even if there’s been a few line up changes along the way. If you can forgive me the following appalling analogy…. if The Field Mice are the Beatles of the Sarah Records universe, then the Orchids are the Rolling Stones. The survivors, still going strong, only without the drug habits and tax exile. This analogy also falls over when Bob Wratten lengthy career is taken into consideration. I was never that good with analogies anyway. (By the way, to anyone at Cherry Red – how about a five CD anthology of Bob Wratten bands next? Just a thought).

Between 1988 and 1994 the Orchids issued three albums and seven singles on Sarah Records before taking a hiatus for a decade, reforming in 2006 and issuing more albums and a handful of singles and playing live whenever they can – they are due to play the Shine On indie festival at Butlins Minehead shortly.

As you would expect, their sound has developed over the years but constants remain – James Hackett’s soulful vocals, John Scally’s inventive guitar work, Chris Quinn’s powerful drumming, the playful call and response between lead and backing vocals (especially where Pauline Hynds is part of the mix) and the tasteful and sympathetic production of Ian Carmichael.

Now to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary they have teamed up with Cherry Red to issue a double CD “Who needs tomorrow?”.

Disc One is compiled from the Orchids back catalogue, starting with the woozy beauty of “Apologies” from Sarah 2. The early songs here show how quickly they grasped the idea of indie guitar pop – “It’s Only Obvious” and “Caveman” are timeless pop gems. They expanded their sound and their horizons too – Ian Carmichael introducing keyboards naturally into their songs and sprinkling production fairy dust over everything. The introduction to “Something For The Longing” still makes my spine tingle, like circling helicopters preparing to land, and a surging hopeful chorus .

There’s two songs from 1991’s perfect “Unholy Soul” album, including “Peaches”, one of their finest moments. In some parallel universe “Peaches” would have been number one in the charts for sixteen weeks during the summer of ’91, not that Bryan Adams song. “Tharmaturgy” – a single in 1992 – is another highlight, a melodic gem bolstered by a This Mortal Coil sample! The title track to their third album “Striving For The Lazy Perfection” bristles with urgent sequencers and drum machines humanised by the vocals of Hackett and Hynds.

The second half of the first disc picks highlights from their 21st century output and it stands up well next to their older material. “Another Saturday Night” – a highlight from their comeback album “Good To Be A Stranger” – builds to a powerful crescendo with some fiery guitar work from Scally and one of those unexpected chord changes on the chorus that I love so much. “The girl And The Soldier” is a beautiful heart tugging ballad, and “Something’s Going On” and “She’s My Girl” are equal to the best guitar pop being made by any of the young indie bands who have followed in the footprints of Sarah bands.

The final song “We Made A Mess” (from 2014’s “Beatitude #9” album) is a cool way to end the disc, looking back at the past ruefully and expecting better of oneself with maturity. Well that’s my view anyway, and I sympathise with the short and bittersweet lyric. Sure you could argue about what songs are missing, but disc one gives an overview of a band perfecting their art and maintaining it to a high standard over many years, and of course once you’re won over by these songs you’ll want to explore the back catalogue as soon as possible (hint – start with “Unholy Soul” and “The Lost Star”).

If Disc One is ideal for newcomers to the band (or a nice place to have some of the Orchids’ best songs in one place), then Disc Two is for the fans. It compiles together 18 rarities, demos, b sides and oddities, carefully constructed and organised in the same format as disc one. So it starts at the beginning again with “From This Day” from their first flexidisc and that was quite a revelation for me, because “From This Day” was slowed down considerably and extrapolated to become “Yawn”, that first Orchids song I heard back in 1990. And I never knew!

The second disc is full of treats and surprises like that. There’s glimpses of the creative process in progress – the demos of “It’s Only Obvious” and “Whitley Bay” show how a few small changes to phrasing words or changing keys can make all the difference. The acoustic version of “Welcome To My Curious Heart” may be better than the version on their third album, it’s more intimate and delicate. It’s great to have versions of songs recorded for Peel Sessions like “This Patience Is Mine” and “And When I Wake Up”, even if these are rough demos.

The tracks from their rebirth don’t disappoint either, starting with a live song recorded for Scottish radio before their fourth album was released, and a great cover of The Go-Betweens’ “Magic In Here” (the Go-Betweens were another band who had a wonderful second act of their career, just as the Orchids have).

Some of the demos (“One Last Cigarette” for instance) sound as good as real recordings, which shows how music technology has progressed in thirty years. The second disc closes with a brand new recording of “Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink”, originally issued as their second single in 1988, a neat way to loop back to the start. It’s a lovely recording, everyone sounds older and wiser and the little tweaks to the arrangement (those violins!) work perfectly.

As we have come to expect from Cherry Red, the sound quality and packaging is exemplary. The booklet has fascinating sleeve notes from John Cavanagh and Ian Carmichael, full details of recording sessions for each song and pictures of memorabilia (nice to see the’ 91 tour postcard which Matt and Clare included in my first mail order package in May of that year).

All in all, this is a very attractive package which should appeal to a wide audience. If you’re interested in Sarah Records, this compilation will give you a taste of one of their finest bands. If you’re already a fan, this compilation will be a timely reminder of how great they are, plus a disc of rarities. The Orchids deserve their place in the pantheon of great Scottish music – a long list working backwards from Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, Teenage Fanclub, through Orange Juice, Josef K, Simple Minds and back to the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and the Poets – and hopefully “Who Needs Tomorrow?” will secure their place in the hearts of many new fans, as well as pleasing old fans like myself.

Want to hear some of the loveliest guitar pop Scotland has to offer? Well this compilation is for you.

Peaches

You can purchase the Orchids Retrospective via Cherry Red here including signed copies

You can also check out The Orchids at these places:

Twitter

Facebook

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (https://agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.comand also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Rob’s review. If you would like to review something new, whether it’s new material or a re-issue then please contact us via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

 

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Alvvays “Antisocialites” – Review

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Like a few of us in the EIO40 community John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) was rather enamoured with the new Alvvays album. So much so that he has taken it one step further and committed his opinion to paper.

So take it avvay (sic) John…

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Alvvays
Antisocialites

When I reviewed the eponymously-titled debut album by Alvvays I concluded that the band’s biggest challenge ahead was developing and building upon what was already a near-perfect pop album. My only quibble at the time was that some of the subtleties were drowned in the sound.

With Antisocialities Alvvays have managed to achieve what for many bands is unachievable: an even better second album. The mix is much clearer, the production has more definition and there are ten songs; one more than on the debut album (unless you bought the cassette…)

My pre-release copy must have got lost in the post, so by the time I listened on Spotify ( I will buy the album; I just couldn’t wait) quite a few reviews had already been written, many pointing to the sound of Teenage Fanclub within the ten tracks. To me that seems a bit of a lazy take, on the basis of some slight involvement by Norman Blake.

If a listener needs bands to refer to, then I’d like to mention the following bands who also sprang to mind during various bits of the album: Cocteau Twins, The Darling Buds, McCarthy, The Soup Dragons, The Sundays, The Sugarcubes… Basically, Alvvays are an indie band in keeping with the indie sound of the late 1980s.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. Ten excellent songs, each taking the listener on a very different journey, some on a single winding road, others taking the scenic route and others yet still calling in at a selection of tiny yet distinct villages as part of a magical mystery tour.

Album closer ‘Forget About Life’ even takes a wrong turning down a cul-de-sac at the end. The subtle humour prevalent in the first album remains in tracks such as ‘Your Type’ (“I will never be your type/ you will never be ok/I’m an O and you’re AB”) whilst ‘Hey’ describes “Molly Mayhem on your doorstep at three AM” before heading directly to a made-for-moshpit ending.

It genuinely fills with me delight to state that this album disappoints in absolutely no way at all, and should be an essential part of anyone’s autumn listening. Having said that, perhaps there is one little gripe: it is impossible for me to hit Molly’s high notes whilst singing along over the washing up. But I can live with that.


You can purchase “Antisocialites” at Alvvays Bandcamp page and you can also discover more about them at these links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading John’s review. If you would like to review something new, whether it’s new material or a re-issue then please contact us via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

 

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The Proper Ornaments “Foxhole” – Review

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Experience has taught us that when Rob Morgan (@durutti74) is inspired by music to want to write about it then it has to be pretty special. On this occasion it’s the latest album from The Proper Ornaments that had him reaching for the Mont Blanc.

As we’ve come to expect from Rob, it’s a terrific read and a top review of a super album. So please read, listen and enjoy….

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The Proper Ornaments
Foxhole
Tough Love Records

Technical glitches can be a real pain sometimes. I had this review fully written and ready to send to EIO40 HQ this morning when I thought I would make one small amendment – and managed to delete the entire document, except for the opening paragraph. So here I am rewriting it from scratch with the memory of what was originally there in my mind and trying to make sure it matches that standard or improves on it.

In a way this is ironic as this is what happened to the album I’m reviewing, “Foxhole” by The Proper Ornaments. The band had recorded the whole album before realising that there was some technical glitch which made the entire recording unusable except for one song. Necessity thus proved the mother of invention, the whole album was rerecorded simply and quickly and is now available for you to enjoy.

The Proper Ornaments were formed by James Hoare (Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting) and Max Oscarnold (Toy) and they issued their debut album “Wooden Head” in 2014. Whereas that album was a warm blend of fuzzy guitars with nods to Teenage Fanclub, Stereolab and 60s sunshine pop, the new album – recorded on Hoare’s eight track home recording unit – eschews the overdriven guitars and concentrates on chiming clean guitar arpeggios, lovely harmonies, simple arrangements and an emphasis on simple piano chords for most of the songs.

As such there are a new set of influences – the hushed ambience of the third Velvet Underground album, the gorgeous songs Gene Clark and David Crosby wrote for the early Byrds albums, those gentle songs Rick Wright wrote for early Pink Floyd albums – and more contemporary sounds too, I hear echoes of early Kingsbury Manx, Beachwood Sparks, Radar Bros and other bands who who create their own take on pastoral psychedelia.

The album starts bright and breezy with the opener “Back Pages” (nice nod to Dylan and the Byrds there) and the supposedly cheerful “Cremated (Blown Away)” before moving into a mid tempo melancholy groove which remains for most of the rest of the album.

Mostly the songs are short – only “Memories” expands beyond the five minute mark as it moves through numerous changes and sections. Re-recording the album on a limited number of tracks has forced the band to remove layers of excess and concentrate on what makes the music matter most – there is no room for extraneous overdubbing, allowing the songs room to breath. This could be a disaster but the songs stand up to the scrutiny well, every song has melodic hooks which sink in quickly and small changes to the arrangements can be as powerful as a hundred overdubs. For instance “The Frozen Stare” has such a spare arrangement that the addition of electric guitar arpeggios during the coda expands the sound in a magnificent way – simple yet potent.

This is an album which doesn’t need to shout loudly to make its point, and over time the lyrical motifs will become apparent. Many songs have a melancholy air, looking back on a half remembered past and trying to make sense of the present – songs like “Just A Dream” and “When We Were Young” are wistful remembrances. The key song here is “Jeremy’s Song”, where interlocking cycles of acoustic guitars back a repeated mantra of “Cry but don’t speak, don’t move at all, keep your head down in the foxhole”. Are they hiding from the harsh reality of modern day living? Who knows? Maybe I read too much into these things.

On the other hand there are songs like “1969” which appears to be about the moon landings which again surprises with a delightful descending keyboard part on the chorus, and “I Know You Know” which adds a slight country edge which harks back to the Stones-ish vibe of “Give Out…” era ballads by Primal Scream. The album closer “The devil” sounds like it was recorded in a school assembly (utilising Phil Spector’s School Hall Of Sound?) and ends the album with an upbeat feel, adding a small piano doodle at the end which is quite lovely.

The Proper Ornaments know that brevity is an asset – eleven songs swing by in thirty seven minutes and the melodies and moods linger long in the memory after each listen. This is an album which rewards multiple plays – each listen will reveal new little details and pleasures, with plenty of melodic twists and unexpected chord changes. Simplicity is its strength, a triumph from possible disastrous circumstances.

There isn’t a bad song on this album and the Proper Ornaments have created this year’s first essential listen. It is the perfect soundtrack for winter days and nights – place it on the shelf next to these other winter albums “More Sad Hits” by Damon and Naomi, “Songs For The Sad Eyed Girl” by Biff Bang Pow! and “Ask Me Tomorrow” by Mojave 3.

This album deserves to be heard, let it infiltrate your life and it will reward you with haunting melodies and thoughtful words which will stay with you a long time. Highly recommended.

Rob Morgan

 

You can purchase “Foxholes” at the Proper Ornaments Bandcamp page and you can also discover more about them at these links

Twitter

Facebook

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Rob’s review. If you would like to review something new, whether it’s new material or a re-issue then please contact us via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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The Salient Braves “Guilty Until Proven Innocent EP” – Review

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Another email from Esther dropped in the EIO40 inbox this week. Reading what she has to say about music that has put a smile on her face, puts a smile on our face. The fact that she had turned her attention to a band on our own radar, a band thoroughly deserving of much wider attention and who we hope to hear more from in the future, had us doing a bit of a jig.

The Salient Braves describe themselves as “Purveyors of tuneful lo-fi indie-pop”. Head honcho, Matt Bailey, hails from Barnsley and they have just released their 3rd EP which is on John Hartley’s Broken Down Records. They also have plans for a debut album in 2017.

Those are just facts. What follows is rather more important. And that is what Esther thinks of the latest offering from The Salient Braves…

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The Salient Braves
Guilty Until Proven Innocent EP
Broken Down Records

The Salient Braves’ third and latest EP “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” picks up where their last EP left off. It’ s another great collection of witty lyrics and harmonising melodies. Thankfully they continue to wear their influences from that golden C86 era of indie pop on their sleeves.

The 4-track EP kicks off with the title track, a jaunty number about a run-in with the law and subsequent bad treatment by the authorities. There’ s a great warbling trumpet throughout, as if it’s the protagonist’s voice crying out to be heard about his injustices. It’s used to great effect as a solo after he declares “I’m launching an appeal ‘cos I don’t like the meals”.

Next track “My Alter Ego” is a woozy dream pop number, starting off with a beautiful keyboard and guitar melody. It is cleverly contrasted with cutting lyrics which starts with the line, “Your heart’s not in the right place, must be somewhere beneath your shin” and has a cool boy-girl vocal exchange. It’s easy to lose yourself in this song and it’s not nearly long enough  It’s the gem on this EP.

“Boy’s Night Out” is another infectious track which everyone can relate to about the woes of not meeting someone on a night out. The EP closes with an unexpected somber tune showing Matt Bailey’s versatility in his songwriting. Minor chords, a simple bass line and haunting backing vocals are all that are needed to create its mood. With tongue planted in cheek, or maybe just humbly, he states “I’m a rhyme barrel-scraping cynical bastard”. Well, either case, give us more!

The Salient Braves have floated under the radar far too long. Get on board if you haven’t already and check out their previous releases. You do not want to say one day that this band somehow passed you by. They are currently trying to raise funds through Crowdfunder to release their first album on vinyl “Delusions of Grandeur” in 2017. Help make it happen!

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-salient-braves-delusions-of-grandeur-vinyl

You can purchase the “Guilty Until Proven Innocent EP” from the Broken Down Records Bandcamp page here

You can also find all things The Salient Braves related at the following links.

Bandcamp

Twitter

Facebook

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A native of California, a wife and mother of two, Esther can be found escaping onto Twitter as @myrtleleaf to tweet about music, a life-long passion. She still mostly lives in the past. ________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you to Esther for a another wonderful review.

Watch out for further reviews, whether it’s re-issues or new releases. If you would like to review something yourself, you know where to find us.

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The Haywains “The Girl In The Holly Court Diner EP” – Review

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The Haywains are back and so is regular EIO40 contributor Esther (@myrtleleaf) with her review of their latest offering. This is the first release on new label Whoops! Records

Here is what Esther had to say about the new Haywains EP….

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The Haywains
The Girl In The Holly Court Diner EP
Whoops! Records

I can’t keep up with new gems hidden among the mountain of releases available in the many ways we discover music today. To add to that, I’m constantly discovering music from bands that passed me by in the mid 80’s and 90’s, my favorite eras in music.

So it’s with luck that I was given an opportunity to review this new release and revisit a group whose name and distinct retro cover art I was familiar with, though I had not followed their music closely. The Haywains had released several singles and two albums in the span of 8 years before disbanding in 1995. They reformed in 2013 for a reunion tour (25 years!), picking up right where they left off, where thankfully they continue to make great guitar pop, keeping the spirit of indie pop alive and well.

Their most recent EP, The Girl In The Holly Court Diner, is a batch of lively and catchy songs centered on love. The title track starts off with a great driving beat and an unexpected baritone I hadn’t heard in their earlier releases, but is lightened by a great melody. Another Boy’s Girl picks up the pace and adds a cool chord change as the song ends. LoveTorpedo! continues the theme centred around love with some alternating dual male vocals. The swooning It’s A Long Way Home When You Lose reminisces about better days (including a once winning football season). There’s a glockenspiel and keyboard and by now I’m won over by that baritone. The song fades to just guitar, it’s the perfect closer.

This EP is great place to start if you’re not already familiar with the band’s work.

The bundle of goodies you get with the EP

The Girl In The Holly Court Diner 7″ EP is limited to 300 copies so get in there quick if it’s up your street. All The Haywains releases are also available through their bandcamp page from which you can also link to their website.

https://thehaywains.bandcamp.com/album/girl-in-the-holly-court-diner-e-p
https://thehaywains.bandcamp.com/
http://www.haywains.co.uk/

http://www.whoops-records.co.uk

Esther

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A native of California, a wife and mother of two, Esther can be found escaping onto Twitter as @myrtleleaf to tweet about music, a life-long passion. She still mostly lives in the past. ________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you to Esther for a another wonderful review.

Watch out for further reviews, whether it’s re-issues or new releases. If you would like to review something yourself, you know where to find us.

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Community Recommends – Murals

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WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the EIO40 community is being introduced to new sounds by discovering what music others are listening to, whether fresh off the shelves or something from the past that may have gone under the radar.

“Community Recommends” is an opportunity for members to write about an album or song that is a particular favourite of theirs and would like to share to the wider community. So have a read. You might like what you hear.

In this edition Rob Morgan (@durutti74) introduces us to …..

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MURALS “Violet City Lantern”

It’s probably not a very indie place to start, but back in 1983 Heaven 17 recorded a song called “We Live So Fast” for their album “The Luxury Gap” and while the frantic drum machines and chirping synths have dated the song, the sentiments expressed – the speed of life, the need to press on, to move to the next new thing – seem more current than ever. In this decade there is an overabundance of choices available – from Netflix to Spotify to YouTube almost everything is available within an instant. We are saturated with entertainment shows and music, technology drives us to investigate everything until we are drowned – it is all too much.

These days it is hard to find the time to get to know a record, to listen to it intently and in a number of settings, to get inside the songs and let them inhabit your life. Remember how you felt when you had a new album by your favourite band? The weeks of playing it over and over, how it would infiltrate into your world, become the soundtrack to that week or month, that party, that night out, that kiss, that argument. Life and music in harmony, the soundtrack to your life.

But it rarely happens these days. The overwhelming overload of availability leads to instant decisions – play a few songs from an album, decide it isn’t for you, move to the next one. I know I’ve done that, guilty as charged. But over the last few weeks I’ve played one new album over and over again, allowing it to sink in like the old days. I wasn’t instantly impressed but over time, the music had wormed its way into my heart, become part of my life.

That album is “Violet City Lantern” by Murals.

As I said, the first few listens were frustrating. Yes it sounded lovely – oceans of reverb, splinters of guitar lines, a double tracked vocal style similar to Steve Mason in the Beta Band. But nothing truly jumped out at me, the songs tended to change direction for no reason, there were occasional instrumentals, sometimes the sound of rain. It was pleasant enough but I didn’t feel like persisting with it. But I carried on, listening in different settings – in the car, or on headphones around the house – and slowly it all clicked into place. Maybe it was persistence, or maybe there was one song acting as the key to unlock the other songs.

The key for me was the fourth song “White Wheel”. It fades in gradually, a miasma of twinkling guitars and xylophones over a martial drum beat, then a simple melodic vocal from Jacob Weaver, and the song jogs along happily, like a lamb dancing through a spring field of grass, while ascending brush strokes of autoharp punctuate the song. It’s a beautiful sound, hazy and vague but engaging. And once that song had cracked the code of Murals, the rest of the album fell into place.

I must admit I don’t know that much about the band, they are a four piece from Louisville in the US and this is their second album and I happened to stumble upon it on Bandcamp a few weeks back. I’m sure someone more diligent than myself would be digging in and finding out about the members, but sometimes it’s better to let a band’s music exist in its own world, without getting bogged down by details of who made the coffee and who strummed the guitars. This is that kind of record – one to clutch to your heart and cherish, unknowing the details which could spoil the spell.

I’ve avoided writing about the music because it’s tricky to describe. There are hints of Galaxie 500, The Beta Band, early Purple Ivy Shadows, the “Beach Boys in a school assembly” wonder of the debut Fleet Foxes LP, but all refracted through a gentle lysergic haze. There’s enough reverb to satisfy the keenest shoegazer, but absolutely no distorted guitars. Each song takes twists and turns in unexpected directions, but always makes perfect sense.

Take “Watching In The Dark” for instance – it starts in waltz time with a gorgeous guitar melody for a minute before slowing down into normal 4/4 time and a different melody for the main song, while still throwing in a bridge in double time around the three minute mark, before returning to the main melody, and a brief coda restates the introduction melody in waltz time. All the changes in tempo and melody sound completely natural, nothing is jarring or off kilter.

Each song had a unique feature – “The Swimmer” has delicate washes of piano and strings, “One Thousand Pictures” has a reversed rhythm track (reminiscent of “Amazing Journey” by The Who) – and the brief instrumentals dotted throughout the album act as welcome breathers, a chance to gather thoughts. In that way, it is similar to “Alaska”, the debut album by Northern Picture Library, another unique proposition.

“Violet City Lantern” is an album which exists on its own terms, has its own internal logic and makes no concessions unless the listener is prepared to give as much as the band. But this is also an album with charm and beauty to spare, a gorgeous concoction of melody which will reward multiple listens. It may not appear on any publication’s end of year albums list, but it is a special album which will remain close to this listener’s heart. Allow it a chance and you may feel the same way.

Recommended songs – “Violet City Lantern”,“White Wheel”, “I Live Here”.

Murals – White Wheel

Listen to the album on Spotify or other streaming services, or purchase it from www.themurals.bandcamp.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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Thank you to Rob Morgan for taking the time to introduce us to Murals. Hope you enjoy the music as much as we have.

If you would like to contribute to this feature by writing about a song or album that you think others would like, then we would love to hear from you.

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Community Recommends – @Dalliance68

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WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the EIO40 community is being introduced to new sounds by discovering what music others are listening to, whether fresh off the shelves or something from the past that may have gone under the radar.

“Community Recommends” is an opportunity for members to write about an album or song that is a particular favourite of theirs and would like to share to the wider community. So have a read. You might like what you hear.

In this edition @Dalliance68 introduces us to …..

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NORTHERN PORTRAIT “Criminal Art Lovers”

‘Criminal Art Lovers’ is the debut LP from Danish four piece Northern Portrait. The group was formed in 2007 and released this LP in 2010 on Matinee Records. It’s remained one of my favourite albums ever since.

It kicks off with ’The Munchhausen in Me’, glorious layers of chiming guitars with a vocal reminscent of Martin Rossiter with a bit of Morrissey thrown in. The guitar style that runs through the album is arpeggioed Rickenbacker which drives each song. Quite beautiful in it’s own right. Throw in some subtle harmonies and you get the Northern Portrait formula. Don’t expect a different guitar sound as the album progresses, they know what works and they stick with it.

Each song has the perfect mix of upbeat joyful guitar with lyrics which are less so, but as a number of groups have proved in past, this makes for some memorable songs.

Track number number two ‘When Goodness Fails’ is jingle jangle guitar heaven, ‘Crazy’ was the first song of theirs I ever heard and I never looked back. As a single it takes some beating. It grows slowly starting with gently strummed guitar giving lots of room for the vocal, as the song progresses more guitar lines are added until it reaches its joyful finale.

The album is full of lyrics that put a wry smile on your face “I may have lost but I haven’t lost the plot”, “As you walk on by please keep walking”.

‘What Happens Next’ rattles along at a great pace with a lyrics that remind me of some of David Gedge’s (which can’t be a bad thing) “There were times that when I couldn’t bear my own company, but those times changed when you were not there and there’s nothing left to see anymore”.

“That’s When My Headaches Begin’ has one of the strongest vocal performances on the album, one that you can feel the emotion in especially at it’s climax “Listen to the sea as it kisses the shore, like so many million times before”.

It finishes with ‘New Favourite Moment’, by this point I’m normally beaming inanely.

There’s not that many albums that I want to recommend to everyone but this is one. I’m hoping that we don’t have to wait too long before another is released.

Northern Portrait “Crazy”

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Thank you to @Dalliance68 for taking the time to introduce us to one his favourite albums.

If you would like to know more about the author then head over to our Meet The Community page, where there is an interview with @Dalliance68. That is definitely worth checking out.

If you would like to contribute to this feature by writing about a song or album that you think others would like, then we would love to hear from you.

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Strawberry Whiplash “Stuck In The Never Ending Now” – Review

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Esther (@myrtleleaf) is back with another review. This time she has turned her attention to the latest offering from Glasgow indie pop duo Strawberry Whiplash, who’s name is a Scottish indie heritage mash up of Strawberry Switchblade and early Creation band Meat Whiplash.

The album is released on Santa Barbara based Matinee Recordings and with Esther just down the road in San Diego, Scotland and California has never seemed so neighbourly.

Anyway, here is what Esther had to say about the new Strawberry Whiplash album.

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Although it’s December and deep into the winter holiday season, this album is not just breezy summer-sounding indie pop songs, as the clever cover that has the feel of a nautilus shell could seem to suggest. It’s an album of different flavors from Scottish pop duo Laz and Sandra McCluskey (if you haven’t already done so, be sure to seek Laz’ other music project Bubblegum Lemonade). So it’s been a great companion since its release last month throughout both sunny and rainy days here (yes, rain in Southern California!)

A country-inflected riff is the first sound I hear on album opener Every Day the Sun Shines Bright and right away I know this album will be a treat full of different sounds. There’s the punchy If Surface Were Depth and Halcyon, both in the same vein of C86 era Talulah Gosh. Time Takes You Away, the first song released is infectious, with its cool bongo sound.

The strongest songs for me, however, have a slightly dark and melancholy feel: Too Close to Call, which has the most beautiful guitar solo in the entire album, and the slower, dreamy Ride the Waves To The Shore, a swooning number with some more wonderful percussion that gives this song a sophisticated pop sound. Perfect album closer This Is All We Have is wistful and anthemic. Sandra sings with conviction, her voice remaining lush, ‘There is no more, there is no afterwards, this is all we have’. Just beautiful.

All twelve songs are varied keeping the album sounding fresh but familiar, and as the inside cover of the album proclaims, guaranteed to be 100% auto tune free.

 

Find Strawberry Whiplash and links to their music and sites on the Matinee Recordings website:

http://matineerecordings.com/item.php?item_id=262

Esther

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Thank you to Esther for a another wonderful review.

Watch out for further reviews, whether it’s re-issues or new releases. If you would like to review something yourself, you know where to find us.

Read more