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Record Reviews

This is not a complete list of the records I’ve reviewed, but I love these albums. Check them out.


Guided By Voices – August By Cake
“Robert Pollard’s 100th album, and a double album to boot. Not only that but a great double album. It’s amazing how Pollard still manages to mine new ground in the classic rock and pop vein, here big on the ’70s, without simply rehashing old material…the album is so strong that it’s possible had this been released instead of Bee Thousand at the time, it would’ve had the same impact.”

Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock
“…Hitchcock remains a master at being both melodically and lyrically intriguing. Opener “I Want To Tell You About What I Want” demonstrates this in spades, a great pop song that weaves alluringly along the bends of its path whilst at the same time being straightforward in its own way…”Mad Shelley’s Letterbox” is as good a pop song as Hitchcock ever wrote, and “Raymond and the Wires” (a reference to his father) is one of his most personal, reflecting also on his love of old trams and trolleys.”

Saint Etienne – Home Counties
“The gorgeous melancholic pop of “Out of My Mind,” breezy ’60s “Take It All In,” and the fantastic Good Humor-esque “Unopened Fan Mail” jump out immediately as songs you just know you’ll be listening to over and over again. Same goes for the sure-to-be sing-a-long live anthem “Train Drivers In Eyeliner.” Yes, it’s as ’70s glam as you’d expect…Home Counties has much to offer in the way their greatest records always have-infectious hits, interesting soundscapes, nods to musical history, all under the sprawling umbrella of pop.”

TeenCanteen – Say It All With A Kiss
“If you love pop music, I urge you to listen to this record. Immediately. Full of a golden youthfulness, harnessing the whole teenage spectrum—from lost-in-love daydreaming to the enormous energy of its expression, with huge hooks and harmonies ushering along everything in between—streamlining all within into pop gems.”

Postiljonen – Reverie
“Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. If you like dreamy synthpop, this is the album you’ve been waiting for. Even Postiljonen’s breakup songs give sensual shrugs of commanding confidence. And whatever way the romance is going, most of these tunes are pulling you straight for the dance floor and won’t take “no” for an answer.”

Richard Pinhas & Oren Ambarchi – Tikkun
“This is music that demands and deserves our attention. You might as well tune in, it’s going to get it anyway. Tikkun is the Kabbalistic idea that our souls have come to the physical plane to make a correction. And Richard Pinhas and Oren Ambarchi’s cosmic juggernaut reflects perfectly the strength of character needed to plow on into the psyche to sort out its defects. ”

Papernut Cambridge – There’s No Underground
“This is a great rock & roll record. Ian Button may be “haunted by the insects in his dark imaginings”, as he intones on opener ‘The Ghost Of Something Small’, but outside that buzzing hook-laden head of his, it’s a leisurely ride through glittering neon, the fluorescence that illuminates rock’s shadowy nighttime world.”

Robyn Hitchcock – The Man Upstairs
“Robyn Hitchcock’s latest release, The Man Upstairs, stands amongst his all-time best albums. His finest work in years, the opening three songs are stunning, mesmerising even, in their intimate beauty. And this is a tone he will flow back into again and again, sliding through the crests of a gentle oceanic tide. A consolidation of Hitchcock’s artistic guises, the record sees Robyn interpreting the work of others alongside songs of his own in equal measure.”

Trwbador – Several Wolves
“The outstanding highlight on their second album, Several Wolves, is ‘Start Your Car’. It’s pure cinematic cool with a seductive pulse, picture Ladytron in an opium-hazed driver’s seat, propelling you around the bends of long urban tunnels, flashing multi-coloured lights as they speed by, all in slick, slow motion. There’s an intelligent, purposeful use of backing vocals throughout the record, and here they’re like night angels materialising and stretching across the ether.”

Tyson Meade – Tomorrow In Progress
“In many ways Tomorrow is an electronic update of the (Chainsaw) Kittens. Tyson’s glam-dripping three-octave voice, his unique lyrical slant and delivery, the enticing way he staggers and repeats as he conjures these tunes into being…The album sees him experimenting more, taking risks and pulling them off, and producing some of his finest material to date.”

Cleaners From Venus – Return To Bohemia
“This is one of those albums pop fanatics dream of. A collection of songs that – once one gets past the initial “wow!”, and this may take a long time – picking a favourite from will be endlessly debated. It would be hard to imagine a finer record released this year…As ever though, it’s further back in the 60s where Newell’s pop heart lies…The Avengers come knocking in the Kinks-y boots of ‘Mrs. Gale & Her New Lover’, and of course there’s ‘The King Of The Sixties’. Martin’s ‘Mr. Jangle’ moniker has never been more apt, with chiming guitars in abundance…rocker ‘Cling To Me’ kicks off the album with a bang. But it’s the following ‘He’s Goin’ Out With Marilyn’ that’s one of Bohemia’s immediate highlights. Its infectious suspended chord chorus guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days. ”

Mikey Georgeson & The Civilised Scene – Blood & Brambles
“‘Sometimes’, once a lovely-as-it-was piano ballad, is now taken even further into the realms of pop classic. With the main figure now played on guitar, Georgeson revels in oft-overlooked moments of grace amidst seemingly encroaching chaos. A truly uplifting new end section is heralded by the horns and blasts off into beauty. Next up is the killer ‘Blackberries’, the intensity of which has been rarely heard in pop for quite some time. Nothing short of a full on battle cry, this three chord assault rails against the state of The State – “smells of decaying vegetation seems emblematic of the nation” – with passion and charm.”

Rodion G.A. – The Lost Tapes
“Recorded at Rodion’s studio in his hometown of Cluj between 1978-1984, these ‘lost tapes’ combine post-punk’s aural assault, the melodic and motorik sensibilities of Kosmische, heavy classic rock riffing with prog’s lead line explorations, and spaced-out psychedelic sounds to create a captivating and rapturous sonic brew. This unique blend also throws in traditional Romanian folk elements and Mid Eastern modes and rhythms, such as on ‘Citadela’, which shifts effortlessly into and between sections rocketing off in major key jubilance. Here, as with ‘Salt’s angular groove and on ‘Zephyr’s saw-toothed charm, it’s easy to see why Rodion was known as ‘the father of Romanian new wave’. ”

The Cleaners From Venus – Box Set Volume 2
“Why weren’t these chart-topping hits in the 80s? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that they were home recordings only ever released on self-distributed cassettes. Or because Martin Newell never bothered to approach record companies or the mainstream music press. Or that the ones these somehow reached didn’t think the public was ready for this winning combination of high quality songwriting and lo-fi production. But the songs are all here, waiting to be discovered. And for Newell it’s all about the songs.”

Shrag – Canines
“The songs teem with bodies in various states of excitement and disrepair, assorted parts of the anatomy being mentioned in almost every song, and there’s a good amount of kneeling going on. Careering through the corporeal, they celebrate the flesh on offer to the fangs of the record’s title. There are gentler moments too, such as ‘Chasing Consummations’ and ‘Jane With Dumbbells’; pauses for reflection in the midst of the carnage, focusing not on the havoc they’ve wreaked but glimpsing into other – softer, shimmering – worlds.”

The Melting Ice Caps – Permissible Permutations
“‘Join The Dots’ is exquisite, a heavenly pop dream, bearing a passing resemble to Roxy Music’s ‘More Than This’. ‘Indian Summer’ melts with the plush heat it’s fervently wishing for. And ‘Medical Advice’ is a fantastic cabaret closer. A military snare a la The Divine Comedy’s ‘Tonight We Fly’ ushers in a song facetiously flush with “maladies” yet melodically tempered with compassionate pursuit- think The Magnetic Fields’ more theatrical numbers only ten times better. Three of the best songs released this year.”

Daniel Kitson & Gavin Osborn – The Ballad Of Roger & Grace
“The charm of each, as well as their attention to would-be-overlooked details, leads the narrative down unknown avenues and unexpected alleyways.  The story and songs swim through and echo one another…Kitson, as is his command of language and emotion, takes a momentary, mundane annoyance – the possibility that a stranger might attempt to talk to you on a long train journey – and brings it into the realm of the magical, “the greatest love story ever told”, sometimes crossing into fairy tale territory.  Full of pleasing alliterations and a robust, rippling rhythm, this story sparkles with luminous love, clandestine activity, and ridiculous violence. ”

Saint Etienne – Words and Music
“The first half of the album offers fantastic pop song after fantastic pop song.  The theme of the record – great music and what it means to us – is glorified in great music.  Opener ‘Over The Border’ shows this in spades.  Almost all the best songs blend joy and sadness within one another and this chorus certainly does too…’Haunted Jukebox’ is a perfect closer for the album. The warm breeze of its chorus sends the magic right through and you know, as with many moments on this record, just how wondrous music can be.”

Jah Wobble & Julie Campbell – Psychic Life
“Excellent; what an album should sound like in this day and age.  It has the elements – namely dirty synths and post-punk sensibilities – that people have been trying to get right this past decade or so…Here the components magically combine – the special force that’s been present in Wobble’s bass playing since the beginning and Julie Campbell (aka LoneLady)’s lovely voice, strong and expressive – to create what a modern record should be…’Feel’ is a cosmic wave of Dazzling Pop Perfection.”