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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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ALBUM REVIEW – Kosmonaut “Misfits On The Horizon”

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Kosmonaut
Misfits On The Horizon

One of our favourite songs of 2017 has been Kosmonaut’s beautifully haunting Beta Band-esque “Canada” and in the normal course events we would be plotting a way to get this acknowledgment to the wider world. Thankfully we received some timely assistance in the form of regular EIO40 reviewer Esther (@myrtleleaf) who declared her affection for the Kosmonaut album from which Canada came and offered to review said album. “Job done”, as they say.

By way of a quick intro Kosmonaut hail from North East England and are Stephen Maughan (ex-Bulldozer Crash) and Geoff Suggett (ex-Lavender Faction), Malcolm Reay (ex-Gravy Train and currently AKA Mala Reay).

Over to Esther…

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Every now and then I come across a band and wonder how they hovered under my radar for so long. The first Kosmonaut song I heard was the wonderful “Never Realised’ a few years ago on one of Wally Salem’s pop compilations “Into The Jet Stream of Pop”.

Kosmonaut had previously released singles on the Matinée, Firestation and Cloudberry labels, now how did I miss that? (I also didn’t realise that even earlier, it was Stephen Maughan who published the famed This Almighty Pop! fanzine. I hadn’t yet connected the dots so a big thanks to Wally)

Incidentally, Kosmonaut have just released a compilation of early singles and other tracks first time on CD also worth seeking out on Bandcamp.

But on to Misfits On The Horizon, which is an album about life, playful yet contemplative. Musically there’s a balance of jangly and fuzzy guitars with keyboards and synths, along with great harmonies. Each song is solid on its own that all nine tracks have had radio play.

“Silver Star” is a great album opener, and has been compared to Teenage Fanclub, there’s no better comparison. The sublime “Losing Friends” is a favourite, with its booming drums kicking in at the start, along with glockenspiel and some great guitar lines. The song has a very Wall Of Sound feel which I love. “Winter Sun” with synths and acoustic guitar is beautiful and wistful.

“Dive in Blind” has a great melody, and is sparse with synths at the forefront, reminding me of early Looper. “Debbie Harry’s Smile” is perfect indie pop with its hand claps and fuzzy guitars.

And so it is that Kosmonaut have been crafting songs long enough to know how to put together an album of diverse songs that guarantees to stay in rotation. There’s been a lot of great releases this year, and this is easily one of them

You can purchase the Kosmonaut “Misfits On The Horizon” here  (available on CD)

You can also check out Kosmonaut at these places:

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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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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Gig Night – Mark Eitzel @ The Fleece, Bristol

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One of the overriding principles that underpins Everything Indie Over 40 is to encourage positivity when it comes to interacting about music. It’s the code of practice that embodies everything we do. From the simple sharing of songs to the features we run on social media and the articles and reviews we publish. There is enough hate going on in the world at the moment and we are certainly not going to contribute to it.

Which is why we normally shy away from getting involved in anything that we feel may be in conflict with our established principles. Gig Night, by it’s very nature, embodies those principles. A feature whereby a gig-goer, a fan, could write about a special night seeing their heroes in action. Why would it be anything other than benevolent?

However, as we all know, it is not always sunshine and roses. Sometimes your heroes can let you down.

When we read Tracey Bowen‘s review of a Mark Eitzel gig we couldn’t help but be moved by her account of what was clearly a night that held so much promise and high expectation for her, but that ultimately left her feeling emotionally confused.  We saw no negativity in the context of our carefully preserved principles. There was no hate here. Just raw feelings beautifully articulated and drawn straight from the heart. As far as we were concerned it had to be shared.

So with principles firmly set aside, here is Tracey’s Gig Night review of Mark Eitzel at The Fleece Bristol in March 2017

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You’d think, with a set book-ended by ‘Blue and Grey Shirt’ and ‘Western Sky’, that I’d be happy. But happy is relative. Relative to how drunk Mark Eitzel is and how far he will go to downplay his own genius in a room full of people who were quite certain of it when they set out at the start of the evening. Tonight, despite him swearing the plastic pint glass of red wine is half water, Eitzel appears pretty drunk and hell-bent on self-sabotage.

Believe me, Eitzel is in fine voice tonight. I’m thrilled to hear songs from his new album ‘Hey Mr Ferryman’, released mere days before this gig, live for the first time. The self-analysing lyrics of songs like ‘The Last Ten Years’, ‘An Answer’ and ‘Mr Humphries’ lend themselves well to the intimate setting of this diminutive Bristol bar. They sit seamlessly alongside his majestic back-catalogue. As for the old songs, I don’t think I’ve heard a more delicately rendered version of ‘Apology for an Accident’ as tonight. And it’s a joy to hear ‘Jesus’ Hands’, a song he’s long neglected on solo outings.

It’s a shame that we’re not to be treated, as the London crowd will, to a guest appearance from Bernard Butler. Butler produced (and played much of the music) on the new record and has been credited for its lush arrangements. But Butler’s absence doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. No, it’s Eitzels’ between song banter that does that. It breaks the spell. Breaks an unwritten agreement between performer and audience.

He announces his entrance on stage tonight as “Club Firefly – the premier Mark Eitzel and American Music Club tribute band” and proceeds to introduce his current backing band as Vudi, Danny and Tim (members of the classic AMC line-up – and definitely not present tonight). The Fleece is a popular venue for tribute bands and I suppose this was part of their pre-show tomfoolery, that they’re a tribute act rather than authentic. So we laugh; a joke between friends. Only he doesn’t leave it there. He stays in character for the rest of the performance (and believe me, a performance it is). It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s parody. And I guess that’s what he intends.

In-between heart-rending and heart-stopping renditions of American Music Club and solo output, he acts out the part of a fanboy who has direct access to the most intimate details of Eitzel’s personal life, spinning anecdotes of conversations with Eitzel from rehab, adopting a laboured raspy voice to denote the real Mark who tells us what a particular song meant to him. More facade, another mask, another cheap laugh at his own expense. Songs from the new album which they are, of course, here to promote, are introduced as “Club Firefly’s own material”.

Am I being po-faced or is the joke wearing thin? The girl behind me in the crowd doesn’t think so. She gasps and laughs in all the right moments; dutifully coos “beautiful” in a breathy voice as the last note of each song fades away. 20 years ago, hell maybe even as recently as ten, that girl would have been me; hanging on his every word and swooning with wonder even as he writhed and squirmed uncomfortably under the spotlight. But the self-deprecating act becomes tiresome eventually and I wonder where along the line he lost me, when my heart hardened beyond the point he could break it any more, when I became impervious to his words.

I realise now that parody is the new real. Club Firefly are post-parody. It allows Eitzel to treat his songs with contempt without having to take the blame. In another imagined phone call from rehab, Mark tells the Club Firefly singer to “play that song that means so much to me”. So they play the impossibly beautiful ‘Firefly’ to a hungrily appreciative and open-mouthed crowd.

I’ve thought for years that Eitzel displays an astonishing lack of respect toward his own body of work in a live setting. Maybe it’s my problem and I need to get over myself. Where do I get off thinking the songs belong in any way to me? But where does he get off behaving like they don’t? Is the “professional singer and ham” role the only way he can take something so personal on the road? If so, why bother? Because it pays the bills? I seriously doubt it does. Because he can’t do anything else? Possibly. Probably. But it’s clear the generally held reverence doesn’t sit easy with him. Never has. And perhaps his work here is done because I might finally be over my hero-worship of Eitzel the man if not the singer. Might finally let him down from his impossibly high pedestal. So here’s the deal: while the guy on stage pretends to be Mark Eitzel, I’ll pretend to be the girl behind me. We can both suspend our disbelief, just until the end of the gig. But we’ll both end up feeling like frauds. At best, it’s catharsis by proxy. At worst, an episode of Game For a Laugh gone wrong, “watching us, watching you, watching us, watching you”.

Early on in the set, he very nearly kicked that plastic glass of wine over, lurching perilously close to the edge of the stage whilst comically trying to unstick his setlist from the sole of his shoe. It was both a tragic and hilarious farce. You couldn’t write this stuff. Or if you could, it’d be the best Mark Eitzel tribute song never written.

Author: Tracey Bowen

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tracey Bowen is a yoga-loving computer programmer from Birmingham, now living in Tamworth, the ancient capital of Mercia.

She plays an odd assortment of instruments (accordion, omnichord, melodica & glockenspiel) for sometime pop-folk outfit Driven Like the Snow and has just embarked on a new lo-fi drone project with the singer/guitarist from Avrocar.

She can be found on Twitter at @INeedDirection usually very late at night tweeting maudlin indie nostalgia.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Tracey’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Ian Prowse & Amsterdam @ The Greystones, Sheffield

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We were naturally delighted when Mark Whitworth told us he was going to see Ian Prowse perform Pele’s Fireworks album for it’s 25th anniversary and wanted to write about it for our Gig Night feature. If his last one for a Half Man Half Biscuit gig was anything to go by then we were in for a treat.

Safe to say he didn’t let us down. In fact he’s gone beyond the call of duty here. It’s more than just a gig review. It’s a personal reflection of what was clearly a memorable night for him & if you don’t know much about Pele, don’t worry. Mark has added some bonus features for you.

So thank you to Mark for sharing his Gig Night. Read on and enjoy……

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I think too much and I drink too much

Despite making only the most negligible inroads into the lower reaches of the charts (ha! – as if the charts were ever a barometer of decent music anyway), Pele were an ebullient fixture on the live circuit in the early 1990s. If you were a student during this era the chances are they played at your university, probably several times. (I was at Bangor myself though – the “best” we ever got was D:Ream. Strangely enough I was washing my hair that night).

Even though I was living in Runcorn at this time, just a stone’s throw from Ian Prowse’s hometown of Ellesmere Port, I don’t think I actually remember hearing them on local radio. As I recall I first came across them via Channel 4’s Teletext pages (remember those? Seems practically sepia-tinged these days) and their review of the Fair Blows The Wind For France single (if you’re not too familiar with Pele’s output, the chances are this is probably the one song you may have heard of). The review sounded good so I sought out a copy, and it was indeed, and still is, a beauty. But don’t take my word for it – feel free to judge for yourself.


The single was released in June 1992, and was taken from the album Fireworks which had come out in March of that year. It wasn’t long before I got hold of this too, and it was pretty much a permanent fixture in my cassette player that summer.
Sadly, despite a devoted cult following, Pele were to last just one more album, 1993’s The Sport of Kings, before disbanding amid record company turmoil in 1994. Fireworks, however, remains particularly fondly remembered among “Pele-people”, and thus the news announced last year than Ian Prowse and his current band, Amsterdam, were going to be touring Fireworks in full to commemorate the album’s 25th anniversary, was received with great excitement.

And so it was that a couple of hundred folks “of a certain age” (along with a pleasing number of younger people it must be said) sauntered along to The Greystones in Sheffield to witness this celebration. The Greystones is a smashing venue – a couple of miles out of the city centre, just past Hunters Bar (of Arctic Monkeys’ Fake Tales of San Francisco fame), it’s a cracking real ale pub with an intimate live music venue attached. I’d been once before, to see an unforgettable act by the name of Bob Log III (which is quite another story in itself), but was particularly looking forward to this one, seeing one of my favourite bands of yesteryear whilst simultaneously unencumbered by having to drive home.

The first order of business though was to get hold of one of the seminal Pele logo t-shirts which had mercifully been reissued for this tour. The Pele t-shirt has a particular significance for me, as I was wearing my previous one (in the days when I could still fit in it) when I first met my wife in 1999. (Don’t worry, sick buckets are provided at the end of this review). There are a surprising number of original Pele t-shirts adorning members of the audience tonight (although perhaps only surprising to me, that anyone can still get into clothes they were wearing 25 years ago!) In any event it was a relief to be able to get my hands on a brand new one as I was concerned that the “sizes for the larger gentleman” may have sold out.

Transaction duly completed, I caught the last couple of songs by the extremely agreeable local support band, Robberie (robberie.bandcamp.com). Their guitarist, Robin Byles, is a lifelong Pele fan, and was responsible for maintaining the band’s website and keeping fans up to date in the post-Pele years, for which Ian would thank him later during his own set.

Before too long, Ian and the gang take to the stage themselves, and it’s straight into not the opener from Fireworks, but the penultimate track, Monkey Scream, with its haunting Hammond organ intro. By my reckoning it’s 24 years since I last saw Pele live, and it’s clear from the get-go that even though the songs are being played by different musicians, they have lost absolutely none of their verve and energy – Pele’s songs were always known for sounding even better live than on their records, and this remains the case all these years later.

From here on they play the Fireworks album in full, in a different order to the familiar tracklisting. It’s absolutely brilliant to hear these songs again so many years after I thought I had heard them live for the last time. They are all nothing short of magnificent, and Ian’s tremendous voice is at its very finest the whole night; my own personal favourites are Searchlight, Megalomania, Oh Lord and the title track Fireworks itself.

Before the final song from Fireworks, however, Ian announces that he is going to leave us waiting for that for a while, and tells us that he is going to play songs “that you won’t know if you fucked me off after Pele, even though we got even better!” To my considerable shame, I have to include myself in this category (don’t tell him!) – while I know the odd Amsterdam song, it’s really only the most passing of acquaintances. After tonight’s show I am determined to remedy this. A handful of Amsterdam songs duly receive an airing, including the emotional My Name is Dessie Warren, a cover of a tribute to the titular trade union activisit, generally regarded as having been wrongfully jailed along with Ricky Tomlinson during the national builders’ strike in 1972.

The show continues with Name & Number, a Pele B-side which made its way onto their second album followed by, finally, the last song from Fireworks, the superb anti-monarchist rant Raid The Palace. But they’re not done yet – Ian says “we’re not going to do an encore, we’re just gonna stay here and play more songs”. This leads to an unexpected but brilliant cover of The Clash’s London Calling, followed by the last song on the official set list, Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?, another Amsterdam song and possibly one of Ian’s best known songs from his whole career, and well worth reading about here:

10 years today since ‘Does This Train Stop On Merseyside’ was released.

The evening is rounded off with a groovy version of The Word Is… , another track from The Sport of Kings, before coming to a close with, seeing as it is indeed March 17, Damien Dempsey’s St Patrick’s Brave Brigade, a tale of Irish expats who fought for the Mexican army against the US in the 1840s, and are revered today in both Mexico and Ireland as the Battalón de San Patricio.

And with that, the night is complete. Well, almost; there’s just time to get my picture taken with the great man. There are some artists who you might feel uncomfortable approaching for a pic, but Ian couldn’t be more affable, and we chat briefly about the proximity of our home towns and what have you.

(thank you to the band’s violinist Laura for taking the pic!)

It’s been a truly rousing evening and a great reminder, as if it were ever needed, of just what a gifted songwriter and singer Ian Prowse is. I’ll definitely be familiarising myself with the rest of his back catalogue before too long. Until the next time, if you want me, I’m at the bar.

P.S. Check out this brilliant documentary about Fireworks, made for the 25th anniversary.


Author: Mark Whitworth

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Whitworth is originally from Runcorn in Cheshire but now lives in South Yorkshire. He is the bass player in rock & indie covers band Dr Hackenbush, is shortly hoping to start a PhD in Linguistics, and once sold a Big Mac to Mr T. He can be found on Twitter at @bringitonskippy, usually arguing about why the correct term for a soft white bread roll is “barmcake”.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mark’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – The Railway Children @ The Lexington

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Fresh from submerging himself knee deep in the world of The Railway Children courtesy of his wonderful item for Toppermost , John Hartley managed to keep the momentum going by checking them out in the flesh.

Here is John’s Gig Night review of The Railway Children at The Lexington, London on Saturday 18th March 2017…

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Up a narrow and steep steel staircase with perhaps one or two too many steps is a room filled largely with men of hair greying and thinning – where it exists at all – and waistbands expanded more than their owners might choose. At the bar a man begrudges the £5 price of a bottle of ale, whilst noticing the barely-discreet notices advising patrons that ‘Earplugs are available: just ask at the bar’. We’re getting old folks, we’re getting old.

The gathered throng, and there are a fair number of us, are present to greet long-absent friends, friends who only came back into our midst last year after a hiatus lasting well over 20 years. The last time I saw The Railway Children was in a rampant hometown gig on Wigan Pier. Buoyed by finally breaking into the Top 40 singles chart, the band were in great form, the crowd roared them on, bassist Stephen Hull departed stage left momentarily to be sick, and t-shirts cost a tenner.

At The Lexington in 2017 it feels like the band has never been away. Always a good-looking band they have aged as much as their music: very well. Sure, there may be a bit of stubble (shaving gets to be such a chore, doesn’t it) and silvery receding hairline, but not much else has changed. Gary Newby still looks youthful and sings with rich tone, Hull still plays the bass like it’s the easiest thing in the world, Guy Keegan still keeps impeccable time and drives the more uptempo songs along, and Brian Bateman still looks like he’s enjoying every minute of strumming Newby’s perfectly crafted pop songs, even when he forgets to change to the second chord of a two-chord song (the band’s debut single ‘A Gentle Sound’) within the first three bars.

With nothing to promote and no longer having to play the part of a mere cog in the wheels of the music industry machine The Railway Children can offer a relaxed and varied set. There is little room for chat – a wry “This was our hit single” introducing ‘Every Beat Of The Heart’ being as close to banter as Newby gets – but that means more time for songs. All three band albums are covered well, there’s the inevitable run out of most – but not all – the singles and, most pleasingly, space for some b-sides: ‘After The Rain’, ‘History Burns’ and ‘Darkness And Colour’ all get a run out.

As the set proceeds, so the performances get stronger and better. ‘Somewhere South’ sounds as good as it ever has, recorded or live. Slower songs such as ‘Big Hands Of Freedom’ are given space to breathe and flourish. Final album title track ‘Native Place’ shows Newby’s voice at its best. The tunes come thick and fast, culminating with “our last song, which was also our first song”: ‘A Gentle Sound’. A quick dash off stage, then back on, and we are treated to the almost inevitable encore ‘Brighter’, a song whose outro could go on forever and still not seem too long. And that’s it: off stage they head, the lights come on, the DJ’s playlist resumes and we all head home, some of us with a souvenir t-shirt that cost a mere £12 – another pleasant reminder that not everything has to change.

 

Author: John Hartley

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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 about John’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, 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.

Read more