Monday, 31 March 2014

Music - Part 193 - The Tuesday Club

The Tuesday Club – New Glamour (Perfect Pop Co-op)
7 April 2014

Described as ‘The Sex Pistols set to music’, The Tuesday Club release their new single.  

Hailing from St Albans, The Tuesday Club boast eight members playing eight different instruments from twang bass to cowbells, but to be honest it’s hard to see why they need so many.  New Glamour is a slab of not-to-be-taken-seriously punk/pop and to be honest very little else.

With an often frenetic ska backing and lyrics in the style of Ian Drury, it rattles through from start to finish with name checks to Conway Twitty and Walter Mitty and a sense of wild abandon.  To be honest, there’s very little else.  The chorus is annoyingly repetitive and at four and a half minutes long, it’s probably twice a much as you can stomach.

It’s a shame, because the Dury likened words are clever and amusing as was the great man himself, but the song lacks any cohesion and gets slightly silly towards the end.

Similarly, the b-side Old Before You Time is a poor mans, poor version of The Cramps.  Maybe only Lux Interior can pull-off the OTT, silly but brilliant, vocalisation.  Andreas Vanderbraindrain tries far too hard and only succeeds in sounding like second rate Vic Reeves pub singer impression.

Again, it’s a shame as The Tuesday Club seem to have a bit of a media following that seems to be increasing as time goes by.  Unfortunately, despite New Glamour having the makings of a good song, it’s spoiled by silliness that isn’t even remotely funny and only bordering on enjoyable.


The Tuesday Club on Twitter

Published on Louder Than War 02/04/14 - here

Friday, 28 March 2014

Music - Part 192 - Lizzy Spit

Lizzy Spit – Trouble Lies Deep EP (Rifton Records)
1 April 2014

Guitarist and singer songwriter, Lizzy Spit releases her new EP.  

Anyone who goes by the name of Lizzy Spit is going to attract attention before she’s even sung a note. Fortunately, the sound that comes from her mouth is pure beauty. A singer with a quite incredible voice that you are almost sure to hear again and again quite soon.

Already championed by much mainstream radio and a huge success on the internet, her digital following is creating a stir and making everyone sit up and see what all the fuss is about. 

She’s clearly loved and lost in her life as her lyrics are heart-breaking, either that or she is an amazing songwriter.  Her words tear at your soul, unless you don’t have one.  The four tracks included here are of superb quality and if they are a true representation of what she can do then there are good times ahead.

Her style is like a classic sound of Joni Mitchell or the writing skills of Carol King, there is very little like her at the moment.  Opener, Once Upon A Time is catchy from the off with a wistful guitar, light percussion and Lizzy’s voice which is simply sublime.   There are parts that sound familiar which helps to engage on first listening.

Intriguing echoes mark the start of All Dressed Up Nowhere To Go.  A slightly fuller affair with louder percussion this time, and Lizzy’s enunciation being perfect.  Another tale of lost love and woe is wonderfully expressed.

The brilliantly titled Goodbye (To The Ones Who Screwed You Over) is haunting with a string backing and enthralling rolling drums, and Gone, Gone, Gone is Lizzy alone with her guitar.  Immersing yourself in the music of Lizzy Spit it is difficult not to at least feel a tear well in your eye.  A remarkable and quite brilliant talent.


Lizzy Spit on Twitter

Published on Louder Than War 31/03/14 - here

Music - Part 191 - Mestre Cupijo

Mestre Cupijo – Siria (Analog Africa)
31 March 2014

A posthumous collection of the best of Brazilian artist, Mestre Cupijo is released.  Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.

You’ll know of Mestre Cupijo, not necessarily by his name, but by his sound that you have heard in the songs of Madness, The Specials and The Selector.  ‘Master’ was born in 1936 into a family of musicians.  As a child he played the clarinet, piano, mandolin and guitar, but he was to become known for his playing of the alto sax.

Early influences were mambo and bolero, later finding that the biggest of them all would be the music from the state of Para – Carimbo and Siria.  The latter is a mix of music from the Brazilian settlement of Guilombos started by escapee African slaves, and the inhabitants of the Amazon.  It’s an interesting fusion of all those styles with the addition of carnival and ska sounds.  Ventinho Do Norte should be right up at the top with all those classic ska instrumentals.  Pure entertainment and urging you to get up and shake some part of your body!

Siria represents a collection of Cupijo’s best tracks from 1975 to 1982 which became a soundtrack to the Cameta Carnival preceding appearances at other festivals.  Over his career he released six albums to an incredible success becoming a huge star in his homeland with opener, Mingau De Acai becoming a massive hit and one of his most popular tracks.

In later life he initiated a competition for carnival music composers, created the Musicolor soundsystem and even had a term in politics before his death in 2012 whereupon he was instantly included into the history books.

A true icon, Cupijo left us music that fills your every sinew with life and conjures up images of brightly coloured processions and deliriously happy onlookers.  Immerse yourself in the sound of Mestre Cupijo and forever be grateful that you did.


Analog Africa Blogspot

Published on Louder Than War 30/03/14 - here


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Music - Part 190 - Koen Holtkamp

Keon Holtkamp – Motion (Thrill Jockey)
Out Now

One half of Mountains, Koen Holtkamp, release his fourth album.  

Last year’s re-release of the album Mountains Mountains Mountains served to confirm what a great album it was and to further cement the talent of Mountains themselves.  Motion, the fourth solo outing for Koen Holtkamp shows that there is still more in the bag.

Using both analogue and digital sounds, Holtkamp creates mammoth soundscapes with an incredibly pure and clinical sound, creating his own genre of prog-ambient!  It’s great stuff, each of the four tracks here builds from nothing to huge masses of sound, and it’s a testament to his talent that not one of those sounds ever gets lost.  Each sound is added and layers quickly form to create some quite beautiful pieces.

Vert starts quietly with sparkling blips and bleeps and is soon accompanied by a sprawling background guitar giving a sense of enormity to the track.  New synthesized sounds swirl and echo around the guitar taking the track higher and higher.

There are clever expanses of space on Motion, with Crotales electronics are joined by an upright bass which has been computer generated making a rich, almost ancient atmosphere, and ‘atmosphere’ is a key word for this album.  It’s all about nothingness and subtlety which creates head-room and time for contemplation and thought.

Album opener, Between Visible Things always threatens to break into huge crashing percussion, but the urge is quelled in moments of genius.  Synthetic sounds sound perfectly natural with whirring taps and the occasional voice or animal sound shrieking out.  Again the track builds gracefully.

Ending with the twenty-one minute opus Endlessness, you are enveloped in a journey of sound which seemingly passes much quicker that its length.  True originality is here in enormous amounts and Motion really deserves several listens to fully appreciate its true beauty.



Published on Louder Than War 26/03/14 - here

Monday, 24 March 2014

Music - Part 189 - An Interview With Mike Lindley

If you follow hiapop on Twitter then you'll know about @fruitbatwalton.  You may not know that I have mega respect for him or that his daytime name is Mike Lindley.  He single-handedly compiled a fine cd of todays best unsigned artists and I recently caught up with him to ask him a few questions.

How’s Ralphs Life?
Ralph’s Life is hectic and frenetic, finding more and more great unsigned music via Twitter!

Fruitbatwalton – what’s in a name?
Long story.  Going back to when I wrote a comic Agony Aunt column,  Fruitbat Walton was a very confused 14 year old boy who was in love with a Canadian Ice Hockey player and seeking advice and solace (an every-day story).

The cd is a huge success already.  Did you ever feel that it wouldn’t happen?
With two days to go and over £2,000 to raise on the Crowdfunder with only the power of Twitter to do it, definitely!
However almost 48 hours of straight Tweeting on my part and the generosity of the people who follow Ralph on Twitter won the day! We made the Crowdfunder target with 20 minutes to spare with Mission Impossible music waiting in the wings.

You have some big names on the cd like Tom Robinson, Helen McCookerybook. How easy was it to attract artists to contribute tracks?
Amazingly easy.  Both Tom and Helen were most gracious. That being said the majority of the artists on the CD’s are unsigned and they were amazing in their support and willingness to contribute.

And, were there people who refused?
Only one, who shall remain nameless as there’s no fun in naming and shaming which I wouldn’t love and it would be criminal – but that was only due to management and not the band.

What’s Ralph’s favourite?
Ralph is of course completely un-biased.  (coughs)  Whispery Club.  (coughs)

There’s a real sense of community with artists on the cd.  The either know someone, or get to know someone.
It’s been great as most already knew each other and if they didn’t, have since interacted at some point on Twitter,  and that helped when it came to putting together the Camden Launch Party. Also a number of the artists have had some kind of experience with mental health issues either personally or through family and friends. It’s been a very - cue overused but apt X Factor type expression - ‘humbling experience’ putting the CD together.

Will there be a second cd?
There will indeed.  I had more than enough offers of tracks from the Ralph’s Life Double CD to make another.  This time for the music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins in Scotland.

I’m coming for tea, what are you making?  What will Ralph be having?
I’ll make you my famous Almond Raisin Cake with Madeira.  Ralph will of course will be having Bonio.

For anyone that was insane enough not to have already ordered the cd, where can they get it?
They can get it from my Blog ( ) however I’m hoping to get it into some Indie Record Shops soon. It’s amazing value for money, and free delivery if purchased online, at £12 for 40 tracks which were mastered free of charge by Dave Maughan.

You’re a Scottish Liverpool supporter living in St Helens.  Dalglish or Keegan?
A Liverpool supporter?  How very dare you!  Cowdenbeath forever!  However, King Kenny every time both as a player and a manager.

As Fruitbatwalton you’re a well-respected blogger.  Does the future of unsigned bands lie in online blogs?
Given the number of unsigned bands out there; whether good, bad or indifferent, the online blogs are invaluable when it comes to getting noticed, even on mine!

We’re in an age where bands don’t really need record Companies.  Is this a sign of the Industry imploding?
Difficult one, but whilst teenage girls buy the likes of Justin Beaver, the mainstream record companies will always survive.

Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter, without exception.  It’s a massive method of communication and promotion and where else could a Jack Russell hold so much sway!

You’ve already held the cd launch at a live show in Camden featuring many of the artists.  Tell me about the day.
First of all I can’t thank the people who came on the day and gave of their time without thought or charge. There are far too many highlights to mention, however, Snippet (Johnno Casson) kicked it off in his inimitable and unforgettable style.  Debs McCoy was sublime followed by a debut performance by producer/DJ Ambrose Chappel, who we were very proud to be able to have given him his breakthrough performance, and the established and most excellent Mono Life got people up and making some moves.  Twin Hidden were eccentric and entertaining whilst Ded Rabbit were both mesmerizing and manic.  We had two Scottish Alternative Music Award winners performing in Plum (Best Electroninc 2013 and first ever female winner) plus Culann (Best Alt/Rock 2013 for whom this was their first ever performance outside Scotland) who were both loud and impressive…they’re gonna be huge.  Two St Helens bands came down for the event and both Stillia (who recently signed for a London record company) and Titors Insignia were immense.  Elia and The Low Tears got everyone moving and  Feral Five closed the show making Ralph’s day by dedicating their cover of the Grace Jones track Warm Leatherette to him - the highlight of any music bloggers day I would think. (winks)

Are there plans for other dates?
Ralph’s just announced an Edinburgh gig in Electric Circus on April 30th headlined by Steve Heron who’s on the CD accompanied by King Eider and The Universal Thee. A  Manchester gig will be announced soon too.

How much have you raised for Rethink to date?
We presented a cheque for £2,500 to Rethink at Camden, with more to follow as CD sales increase and the other gigs take place.

What do you hope you’ve achieved?
Well the money is all well and good but for me the main focus was raising awareness of mental health issues, a cause very close to my heart through personal experience.  
Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness. Forty years ago, one man bravely spoke about his family’s experiences of mental illness in a letter to the Times and in the process brought together hundreds to talk about their experiences of mental illness and support each other. Today Rethink directly supports almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone. The charity’s website and helplines give information and advice to 500,000 more and changes policy and attitudes for millions. Rethink’s services, support groups, and members cover every county in England, giving them local insight and helping to spread innovations nationally. All their work is governed by people who have lived through mental illness.

The Ralphs Life cd can be ordered here.


Music - Part 188 - Raglans

Raglans - Raglans (IRL)
Out Now
Irish rock/folk four-piece release their debut album.  

When I saw the album cover to the eponymously titled debut album by Raglans, I was wary.  No doubt they'll be those blue-eyed, dark haired, youths that my wife has taken a shine to after seeing Cillian Murphy in the recent BBC2 series Peaky Blinders.  They may well be too, but to be fair they've also made a very accomplished debut.

Taking their name from Patrick Kavanagh's poem On Raglan Road and not the sweater, their blend (and clear influences) of traditional Irish folk and The Clash are evident.  They have the ability to write an incredibly catchy song as last single Digging Holes can comfortably testify with the subtle hint of the matured McFly, a compliment which they should accept, giving eleven tracks that are both precise and memorable.

In 2011, Raglans found themselves in Portugal following an invitation to work with Polecats founder, Boz Boorer who later went on to work with Morrissey.  They soon released their debut EP, Long Live, introducing their indie/rock/folk to the public amidst growing acclaim. 

Produced by Jay Reynolds (Pulp, The Verve) and mixed by Brian Lucy (Artic Monkeys, Black Keys), the sound of the Raglans debut is well polished.  Each instrument is clearly definable and the vocals are well rounded.  There are plenty of addictive chants and straplines throughout, and after a support tour with The Strypes and a UK tour of their own planned, they will soon be a name on everyone's radar.

New single Lady (Roll Back The Years) will win over many new fans and admirers.  It's catchy, it's neat and it sits well with anything being released today - "I feel a long way from London, and even further now from Dublin" goes the lament.  Fake Blood is raw but still melodious enough to embed itself in your mind, and Not Now proves that they can slow things down a little too.

Nothing that Raglans do is revolutionary, but they do do it with a confidence and a contagiousness that is rarely seen.  It's not a classic either, but it is very very good and if this is the way they are starting their career then they have some big times in front of them.



Friday, 21 March 2014

They Wear It Well! – The WoodenFeralTops

Bang! Flash! Wallop! What a picture!

Pictured after the recent London performance from The Woodentops is main-man Rolo McGinty with Kat from ‘your new favourite group’ – Feral Five.

The Woodentops have graced us with undoubtedly one of this years finest albums, whilst the Ferals continue to whip up a frenzy with their glorious blend of punk rock, disco and roots!

Oh, and is that a hiapop badge that we see Ms Five adorning?  Yes, I believe it is!

News – Kate Bush Live Dates!

The big news today is that music genius Kate Bush is to perform a string of live dates for only the second time in her career, and for the first time in thirty-five years!

Her first and last tour was in 1979 where she promoted the Lionheart and The Kick Inside albums and it is widely accepted that the physical exhaustion put upon her was a big factor in her live ‘silence’ ever since.

She will perform fifteen dates with tickets going on sale on Friday 28 March where there is expected to be widespread pandemonium as people will undoubtedly have their last chance to ever see her live in concert.  Unfortunately, for anyone living outside London, all fifteen dates are at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Music - Part 187 - Dirtmusic

Dirtmusic – Lion City (Glitterbeat)
31 March 2014

In 2013, I gave the Troubles album by Dirtmusic 10/10, and obviously I was excited about the release of Lion City after finding the last Dirtmusic album one of the finest things I had ever heard, but age has taught me not to be biased with music.  High expectations are often let-down and things that you expected greatness from just under deliver.  Not in this case.

On the release of Troubles, we were promised another album in 2014 due to the album sessions generating so many tracks, and here they are.  Don’t be misled, these aren’t ‘leftovers’, these are tracks as strong as its predecessor and well worthy of recognition.

There’s a slightly more laid back approach to Lion City, tracks are slower and more translucent.  The same backing from the Ben Zabo band is here which were recorded at the same Bamako sessions, but the overall sound is less African and slightly more ‘planet rock’.

The production is again clinical and the atmosphere is nothing short of intense.  Appearances from Troubles collaborators Samba Toure and Aminata Wasidje Traore are joined by the likes of Super 11, MC Jazz and Ibrahima Douf, together with members of the incredible Tamikrest.

Album opener, Stars Of Gold is almost trance-like with Dirtmusic members Hugo Race and Chris Eckman contributing and setting the pace and tone beautifully before the eerie synth sound of Narha comes into focus.  Incredible vocals by Traore echo and dub over another spacious melody, and guitars that crash into being further down the line.

Eckman’s vocals are like a cross between Tom Waits and Matt Johnson, scraping and grating through some of the most emotive music you will ever hear, Movin’ Careful is quite stunning.  Justice is probably as commercial as the album gets, a clearly African influenced track with synth effects added and a chorus that is both catchy and memorable – but just listen to those lyrics. “From out of the broken cradle, where human nature comes”.

Samba Toure’s vocals on Red Dust are characteristically haunting and the powerful sound of Blind City with its mesmerising bass is pure excitement. As the album closes with the stunning September 12 where Douf sings an ode to his Grandmother, you can’t help wondering that Dirtmusic have done it again.

The brilliance of Troubles clearly wasn’t a one-off, and I thought long and hard about what score to give this album.  In the end, it was easy, Lion City is another classic.


Tamikrest on hiapop Blog

Published on Louder Than War 25/03/14 - here

Music - Part 186 - Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever – Seer (Thrill Jockey)
24 March 2014

Electronic/Acoustic duo, Golden Retriever release their new album.  

Golden Retriever have an interesting concept here.  Matt Carlson plays synthesizer whilst Jonathan Sielaff plays bass clarinet.  It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it somehow works.  The largely high-pitched electronic sound seems to blend with the wind instrument perfectly and creates some very interesting results.

Opener, Petrichor apparently creates otoacoustic omissions where two opposing tones are rectified perfectly within the inner ear.  Now, I’m no expert on this, but I’ll admit to being convinced.  These two sounds really shouldn’t work together but do.

Formed in 2008, Golden Retriever essentially perform a bit of improv.  Some of it borders on a sort of electronic jazz but don’t let that deter you!  It’s certainly not your regular pop chart stuff, and it’s fairly challenging, but to be fair the final tracks speak for themselves.  There are hints of Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and Jon Anderson throughout, but they really are hints and entirely subjective.

If the thought of post-jazz scares you then you’d maybe like to avoid Sharp Stones, it screams over a tinkling piano and to be frank is a little hard on the ears at over seven minutes long, but in the context of the whole album, it is as it is and is rescued somewhat by some interesting electronic effects in the second half.

Album highlight is the gorgeous Flight Song.  Completely airborne and glittering it rises and rises with mesmerising synth and soaring clarinet.  It reaches out and takes you on a journey of sorts.  Very much film soundtrack stuff and very enjoyable.  The tickling electronic are magical.

There’s an intensity and depth to Seer that makes it very listenable stuff, and whilst at first it may seem inapproachable you’ll soon be grateful you gave it a chance. 

The thirteen minute closing opus that is Superposition is another great piece.  Completely chilled and completely enthralling.  Combining random blips and beeps with an almost prog-synth backing, the clarinet again jettisons the whole track into something almost mystical.  It’s a brave album and a brave concept, and I’m glad I heard it.



Published on Louder Than War 24/03/14 - here

Music - Part 185 - Ralphs Life

Various - Ralphs Life
Out Now

A new compilation raising money for Rethink Mental Illness is out now. 

Mike Lindley has done tremendous things.  Putting all selfishness aside, he has single-handedly organised and compiled a cd of forty (mostly) unsigned artists of which the quality has rarely been seen.

Firstly, why?  Mike is a blogger and under the Twitter username FruitBatWalton he has amassed a huge following of fellow bloggers and bands alike.  Through personal experience, mental health issues are something very much in his focus.  He’s blogged about The Fine Line Project (who work hard to promote mental health awareness), many times, and with their help he saw the benefit of this project to the Rethink Mental Illness charity.

It’s a great cause and something we should all support, with one in four people in the UK suffering at some time during their lifetime, and if there is any way we can help out, no matter how small then we should.  Us British are a peculiar breed and seem to want something in return for their efforts.  Read on.

It’s easy to buy this cd and think you’ve done your bit.  You may have, but to be honest you’ve also bought one of the finest compilations you ever will do.  Imagine your favourite Top 40 of all those tracks that no-one else has ever heard.  Imagine loads of different genre’s from pop to Goth, from soul to dance, from folk to punk.  They’re all here.

Names you will have come across before – Tom Robinson contributes his angry, guitar only rant that he wrote for the Legal Aid Rally last year (The Mighty Sword Of Justice).  “There’s one law for the rich and another one for the poor”  - it’s stirring stuff, and a song that only the great man himself could write.  Helen McCookerybook (formerly of The Chefs and Helen & The Horns) is also here with her usual wit and warmth with Mondays Mood.

There are also artists which are hiapop favourites – Snippet, Shiny Rhino, and Feral Five all making appearances and all bringing their very individual styles to the collection.

Prostitute’s Handbag is brought to you by Tingle In The Netherlands with poetry to your ears and Fiona Soe Paing contributes one of the most unusual tracks you will ever hear with Daymoon Soon.  It’s almost a crime to single out any tracks such is the quality here, but special mention should go to Vukovi for their excellent Schwagger and Debs McCoy for the beautiful Wendy.

Don’t take my word for it, buy this cd.  It will be one of the best £12s you’ll ever spend and your support for Rethink should make your insides shine.


Published on Louder Than War 25/03/14 - here

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Music - Part 184 - Jon Porras

Jon Porras – Light Divide (Thrill Jockey)
24 March 2014

Barn Owl member, Jon Porras releases his second album of polymorphic drone.  

I for one was once very critical of drone, I found it, and can understand why other find it, boring.  Now, the secret to me to enjoying it is really quite simple – just listen.  Completely immerse yourself in it, relax and create yourself a little head space.

Using both analogue and digital systems, Porras has created a wonderful album in Light Divide.  Simple enduring tones which also employ distant sounds of rain, thunder, tides and echoes.  Each track invites you in to experience and enjoy.  It’s easy to imagine post apocalyptical landscapes, dust blowing across a baron wasteland, mists floating and sinking around you.

Porras offers something quite different to conventional drone.  It isn’t, as many imagine just continuous tones playing out for fifteen minutes and not really going anywhere.  It’s much more than that.  The journey that is contained in each track is expansive, yet limited to five or six minutes apiece and each one of the five tracks is different enough to be compelling and completely enjoyable.

The subtle detail in each track is to be admired.  Opener Apeiron floats straight into view with far off crashes, almost like you’re standing on the edge of a mountain pit hearing workers below the surface hitting rock and ore and building some fantastical underground city.  Single tones glide in and out and the track throbs like a subtle heartbeat.

The sense of atmosphere is wonderful.  New Monument is simplicity in itself.  Walking through an underground tunnel at water occasionally drips around you.  Clicks and ticks as creatures scurry and run away from your footsteps with the overhead sound of the outside begging you to return.

It is said that Porras created Light Divide by firstly taking base foundations then adding ‘walls’ and ‘support beams’ as an architect would construct a building.  It’s easy to imagine the metaphor and the result is successful.

Light Divide is unique in its sound, colour and texture.  A quite lovely piece of work.


Jon Porras on Twitter

Published on Louder Than War 24/03/14 - here