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Rob Vs The Task Force – Week 9

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One of our most enjoyable and rewarding Twitter features is the New Song Task Force – where one group of community members suggest new songs for another group of members to vote on. The songs are showcased throughout the week with the results of the vote being issued on Sunday evenings.

We are always looking at ways to improve or expand our interactive features and so for the New Song Task Force we asked regular EIO40 contributor Rob Morgan @durutti74 if he would pen capsule reviews as he listens to each song for the first time (and second time just to make sure) then pick his three favourites. We also wanted to showcase each week’s songs with a bit more depth by seeing them from a listeners perspective.

We will publish Rob’s review of the week’s songs on Sunday afternoons after the voting has taken place. In the build up we are also asking people to rank their Top 3 of the week with prizes up for grabs if you match Rob’s Top 3 in order. So you may discover you have won a prize when you have finished reading this.

There is also a playlist of the songs at the start and links to any songs not on Spotify so you can listen along with Rob.

So here is Rob’s review of the Week 9 songs.

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The Essex Green – Don’t Leave It In Our Hands

Nice intro, reminds me of “Cannonball”. Wasn’t expecting the mixed male female vocals, that’s a good mix, nice harmonies on the chorus. Oh, hang on, is this the chorus? No – THIS is the chorus. This makes me think of the last New Pornographers album. Nicely building up in the second verse. The final chorus … Oh it does that thing I love, chucking in a new modulation on the melody and chorus at the end. That is fantastic, really didn’t expect that. I could play that guitar solo. I want to hear that again immediately. (Listens again). That’s going to take some beating. (Plays for a third time) What a great song.

Simmer – Juno

Gotta love some chorused guitar strumming. Intro has got my head nodding. Nice vocal mix, that little guitar lick is tasty. The guitars drone and jangle in a shoegazing way. Vocals too low for comprehension on first listen, which encourages another listen. I’m enjoying this. I bet they’ve worn out their copy of “Vapour Trail”. Those harmonies on the chorus really push things forward, very good.

(Listens while reading the lyrics)

This reminds me of Afterglow, a little known Australian shoegaze band on Summershine. That isn’t a criticism. This is growing on me. Nicely atmospheric.

Gruff Rhys – Oh Dear!

Gruff Rhys – energetic start, I need that this morning. Unexpected but rather cool string arrangement. Lyrical ideas intrigue. Reminds me of Glen Campbell for some reason. That is good. Ooh it’s doing that modulating thing I adore. Ends too soon for me. That means I’ll have to listen to it again. Not a problem. There’s something naggingly familiar about this song. It will come to me eventually. In the meantime this is great.

Whimm – Not My Kind

Good intro, rising tension… Oh hang on, that wasn’t what I expected to happen. This reminds me of the Very Things. A bit gothic, but recorded in my garage. Nicely discordant guitar. Ah, here’s the drummer, better late than never. Still sounds like the Very Things. Very peculiar mix. Where’d did that piano come from? And the saxophone. It’s not a piano? Oh. Dark and moody. This is winning me over, I want to hear it again. Overlapping vocals always a good idea. Second listen. Oh, the sax has been there all along. I can see this fitting into a Peel Show from 1985, I can almost hear him back announcing it.

A LilyPaint Me With Your Blood Again

“Rolling?” “Rolling”. I love that kind of thing. Quiet tension, lots of interesting little touches already, pizzicato guitar plucks… Is this the chorus? No? Ok the bridge into the chorus is fantastic. The chorus itself resolves the tension. There’s a lot going on but it’s well arranged, not cluttered at all. Second verse – I miss the bridge. I like the vocal a lot,  subtle harmonies on the chorus. The middle section nicely combines the quiet and loud contrasts. I’m saying nice a lot, this is really interesting, I want to hear it again. Five minutes? Didn’t seem like it was that long at all – a good sign. Second listen, I still think that bridge is the best and could have been expanded. What do I know?

PoppelConceived Ideas

A name I know from Josh Meadows’ It’s A Jangle Out There show. It’s possible I’ve heard this before then. It does sound a bit familiar, or maybe that’s the general vibe of early Teenage Fanclub. I’m guessing they are American, based on the air of slackerdom. I do like the build into the chorus – the arpeggio guitars are great. Good head nodding summer music. Hang on… It’s over? Too soon for my liking. Second listen while reading their Bandcamp page…. They’re Belgians? Well it doesn’t show. Definitely like that chorus and the guitar interplay. And that ending.

The ChillsComplex

No introduction necessary here, I’ve loved the Chills for many years, and there’s an instant familiarity to their sound. Martin Phillips still sounds conflicted and confused, the song rocks as passionately as “Male monster from the Id”. And of course I’ve heard this before, Pete Paphides played it on his show earlier this week. What can I say – it’s the Chills! Love the fairground organ on the instrumental section. The kind of intelligent melodic pop we’ve come to expect from the Chills. Hope the album is all as good as this.

Andreas Doraus & Gereon Klugs – Feelingsgefühle

This is just pure pop! Within seconds my head is nodding and my toes are tapping. My O Level German is being pushed too, spotting a few words as the second verse progresses. Subtle string arrangement and Beach Boys harmonies…. This makes me think of the long hot summer of 1976, for some reason. Perfect summertime pop music. Nice little breakdown towards the end… And a key change! Absolutely wonderful.

Mazzy StarQuiet, The Winter Harbor

Again no introduction necessary. Woozy, waltzing and graceful. It sounds like… Mazzy Star. The fact they’ve defined their own sound which has influenced so many since doesn’t diminish the power of their music. When the slide guitar and brushed drums come in, it’s really quite heavenly. I can see this soundtracking some moody scene in a film – the heroine gazes into a sunset…You get the idea. That’s lovely.

Mikey CollinsFalling

Simple opening allowing the lyrics to be heard immediately and they catch me straight away. Another song with male female vocals, especially the chorus. Oh I like the introduction of synths in the second verse. Use of the word “pricks” is a surprise, in such a gentle way. This is rather sweet, not in a sickly way. Second listen – the lyrics are becoming clearer. Intriguing. It sounds like falling in love. That’s appropriate I suppose.

Favourites?

3. Gruff Rhys
2. The Chills
1. The Essex Green

Though I do feel bad for Poppel – if the Chills and Gruff Rhys hadnt been in this week they’d be number two. Definitely a band to listen out for. But oh boy that Essex Green song is tremendous and I listened to the album after that and it’s all just as good.

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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) and hosts the Everything Indie Over 40 album listening parties over at @eio40LPParty

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Rob’s review of the Task Force songs. If you want to follow the New Song Task Force and get involved head over to @indieover40 on Twitter and check out the feature hashtag #newsongfaceoff

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First Track On First Album – Curve

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

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In this issue our resident feature curator John Hartley will be putting on his horror head in order to assess Curve’s debut opener. Will it be a fait accompli?

Artist: Curve
Album: Doppelgänger
Year: 1992
Track: Already Yours

In what would become typical fashion, I was put off Curve by the NME, Melody Maker and the music press in general before I had ever even really given them a chance. Nowadays I can put this down to my youthful naivety that journalists reported what they found rather than creating an idea they could then perpetuate into a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see, in 1990 four quite shy lads with a phobia of barbers had formed a band, and when they played their rather fine songs they looked down rather than staring the audience in the eye. The ‘Shoegazing’ genre was thus born, and into it thrown any number of similarly styled bands. I assumed it was just a case of bandwagon-jumping by musicians in search of a quick rise to fame; these days I realise it was just a lazy way for journalists to lump a load of different bands into one easy category.

As a consequence, much as I loved RIDE I had little time for the likes of Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Lush and so on; all bands with their own influences, their own style and sound, yet all categorized the same. On the periphery of this genre could be found Curve, whose debut album ‘Doppelgänger’ found its way onto the record shelves in 1992. Does the album opener ‘Already Yours’ stand the test of time? I’ve never heard it, so here goes…

On first listen it is easy to pick out both influencers and influencees; certainly lines of melody from Garbage’s ‘Stupid Girl’ and Frente’s ‘What’s Come Over Me’ spring to mind, whilst Curve themselves sound more like The Cocteau Twins than RIDE. Toni Halliday has a strong voice which harmonises delicately over the wall of guitars and backing vocals provided by Dean Garcia. The bridge does what a bridge should but frequently fails to do, providing a pleasant detour between the melodiously vocal first half and the largely instrumental second half.

This is a great opening track to a debut album: a bold statement of intent that gives a perfect taste of what would follow. ‘Already Yours’ stands as a perfect illustration of a lesson it took me a long time to learn – judge a band by their music, not by the ‘scene’ into which they are lumped by the music press. The album itself would reach number 11 in the album charts, and paved the way for a career lasting a further four studio albums.



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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What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

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