Monday, 31 August 2015

Review - Reggae Round-Up - Richie Campbell | Zion Dirty Sound | Rhythmites

The reggae releases just keep on coming and the quality seems to be getting better and better.  With even more great albums promised for the coming months, here is our pick of the current crop.


Richie Campbell – In The 876 (Chet Records)



Out Now 

Not even a decidedly dodgy album sleeve can hide that this is a very good album.  Portuguese reggae man Richie Campbell (real name Ricardo Ventura da Costa) has assembled a great album of surprisingly good reggae, lover’s rock and dancehall which may appear with some of the best reggae releases of the year. 

Already a huge hit in his homeland (the album reached number one in Portugal’s iTunes Chart within two hours of release), the album named after telephone dialing code for Jamaica, is now attracting attention in the UK. 

Recorded in both Kingston and Lisbon, the album features such reggae luminaries as Agent Sasco/Assassin, Toian and Sara Tavares and is both easy on the ear and very accomplished.  Some nice dub touches here and there add further interest to the album although there are forays into pop or modern R&B with the likes of Rise From We Fall which don’t quite sit with the other tracks, and to be frank are very average. 

Stand out tracks I Feel Amazing and Feels Like are uplifting with not only with good reggae beats but also very memorable hooks.


The Richie Campbell website is here: He can be followed on Twitter as @richiecampbell and liked on Facebook here.





Zion Dirty Sound – Celebrity Fever/Reworks and Dubs (Dubophonic) 



Out Now 

Two years after the release of their album Fils d’Abraham, Zion Dirty Sounds return with a cracking EP containing nine versions of the track Celebrity Fever which originally appeared on the album.  The premise is simple, send the track to different artists from around the World and ask them to put their own take on it. 

The resulting collection is a quite brilliant mix of dubbed out versions with the faintest hint of a hook that continues throughout.  The concept does lend itself to the possibility of boredom, but the end result is quite the opposite as the likes of Jasmin Tutum (Germany) also introduce us to the almost forgotten genre of dub poetry. 

Afro D from Russia contributes his version under the title of Teach Dem Fi Survive which contains more dub than reggae and has a brilliant bass underpinning the whole effort.  The USA is represents by Master See who’s completely stripped back  rhythm is one of the many highlights before Haji Mike from Cyprus gives us a Mark Stewart esque poem (Pain Pain Gain Gain) political dub which is nothing short of superb.


The Dubophonic website is here: dubophonic.comThey can be followed on Twitter as @Dubophonic and liked on Facebook here.  More Zion Dirty Sound can be heard on Soundcloud here:





Rhythmites – Integration (Bristol Archive Records) 

CD / DL 


18 September 2015 

Originally released in 1989, Integration has been given an affectionate remix to bring the tunes up-to-date and now sound as though they were recorded yesterday in probably one of the year’s finest roots reggae releases.

Lyrics of the Worlds troubles and peace/war are as relevant now as they were over twenty-five years ago and racks like Pain And Suffering with its dub bridge halfway through are quite stunning.  A sumptuous bass lovingly underpins a classic reggae beat with lazy drums and clear vocals. 

Remixed by sound engineer Ben Findley each and every track is classic Rhythmites who were always known for their exemplary live performances and didgeridoo which makes an appearance on the superb No Guns with its almost rock guitars. 

Aside form the original eight track listing are two new dub versions of Heed No Dream and A True which perfectly compliment the line-up.  Affectionately presented in an authentic style they provide a pleasing end to a timeless album. 


The Rhythmites website is here:  and they can be liked on Facebook here.

Published on Louder Than War 24/08/15 - here


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Friday, 28 August 2015

News - Steve Blood Streams Balearica Remix

Not only is Steve Blood (aka Bad Dads Club) a flaming nice bloke, but he's also an incredibly talented songwriter and remixer.

Of the new Balearica remix he told hiapop Blog: "My connection with the white Island began way back in June 1987 with a £79 Get Away from the Election Special to Ibiza. The clubs were roofless, George Michael was the big star on the Island, and if you walked through the old town you were likely to hear Mel and Kim's Respectable, the Blow Monkey's Doesn't Have to Be this way, and, of course, George's Faith. In the clubs, house music was starting to dominate and Alfredo was doing his thing at the Cafe Del Mar with his eclectic Balearic style.
Nearly 30 years later, in June this year, on a BA city flyer to Ibiza, I started to write a piece of piano-based house music with the Island in mind. As summer winds down, memories of beautiful sunrises, afternoons on the beach and two nights in Pacha have inspired Balearica. Long-time collaborator, AudioTrip, has sharpened the beats and swapped out the piano for cool synths and the result is a smooth but powerful piece of house music and the purest electronic release yet on Bad Dads Club. The piano-based balearic-style original mix will be released in the Autumn."

Steve Blood on Soundcloud
Bad Dads Club on Twitter
Steve Blood on Facebook

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News - Pulco Releases 'Introduction' Compilation

That man Pulco is at it again!

Homemade lo-fi - No genre - Intentionally minimal with loops, spoken word and field recordings.

... autobiographical sketchbook style has characteristically diverse influences from Lou Barlow & Pavement to R. Stevie Moore and outsider art.

Dip In The Ocean is a compilation of some of his more accessible songs and is intended as a entry point into Pulco music. Some of the earliest music in this compilation goes as far back as 1999 and spans all of the albums, EP's and singles.

As ever, it's a pay-as you-like album, hiapop suggests you give kindly.

Pulco website
Pulco on Twitter

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New Artist - Ham Legion

Ham Legion are a Brighton trio describing themselves as ‘psychedelic prog-pop’.   To be fair, that just scratches the surface and doesn’t do them justice.  They’re positively madcap.

Oozing with energy and a billion ideas (many of which will appear in just one track) they combine alternative pop sensibility with outbursts of metal and forays into mysticism and downright bonkersness.

Often breaking into instrumental breaks from each member, their tunes also knit together some great melodies.  Take the track It’s Winnie from their Hexes And Stew EP for instance, a lovely blend of gentle pop knitted together with raw guitars and the odd out of place note which almost becomes characteristic.

Dunce’s Cap from the same EP also captures the bands willingness to experiment as several styles blend (almost) seamlessly to make a mammoth track of several parts.  It worked for Queen so why not Ham Legion?  We can only dream.

‘Unconventional’ may be the word that most aptly describes the band and why not.  Nothing comes from treading water and they certainly don’t do that.  Renege from the Counting To Ten EP verges on grunge metal several times but also combines a melodious quality which is both refreshing and powerful.

Don’t be misled, they aren’t for everyone but it’s nice to see someone doing something so different that we can dare to call them original perhaps in the same way that Ashley Reakes rips it up and spits it back out again.  If you want a bit of aggression, muscle and the occasional affectionate hook then they might be right up your street, if you want blandness then forget it.


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Review - Andy Bell – Variance: The ‘Torsten The Bareback Saint’ Remixes

Andy Bell – Variance: The ‘Torsten The Bareback Saint’ Remixes (Strike Force Entertainment)


4 September 2015 

8.5 / 10

Erasure vocalist releases new remix album. 

Although better known as one half of one of the World’s biggest ever selling pop duo’s Andy Bell is probably lesser recognised for his solo work.  On Variance his fifth album, remixes from his stunning song-cycle album Torsten The Bareback Saint not only serve to propel the soundtrack further, but also act as a pre-cursor to the forthcoming Torsten The Beautiful Libertine project.  With re-sung vocals, alternate and new lyrics, and new instrumentation the album is able to easily stand alone.

One of the highlights from Bareback Saint, Weston-Super-Mare is featured in five of the nine tracks making the album a carrier for it as new single release.  The Radio Super Mix provides the version which deserves to be heard constantly with its near Solsbury Hill guitar hook, it revers the tale of lost love in the Somerset holiday resort.  The descriptive lyric is synonymous with the original album as it unfolds into a stunning storyboard.

With the Extended Version, the guitars are replaced with piano and the percussion completely cut-out. With maybe an accordion or basic keyboard the track is beautiful in its simplicity. 

Two remixes by Dancing With Ruby and mOOger! create different sides to Weston-Super-Mare and the near ballad sounds perfectly at ease as a different genre.  With the Dancing With Ruby version the song is quickened slightly with an Erasure-esque bass line and simple percussive effect.   The mOOger! remix seems to slow the track even further with a spaced out bass creating a near electro ambience fluttering away with a clinical drum sound.

The highlight of the album comes in the mindfuck that is the Industrial Soundscape Mix.  ‘Re-imagined’ by Bell together with two of the soundtrack writers Barney Ashton and Christopher Frost the mix focuses on a multi layered spoken word lyric over collages of sound creeping in and exiting out with an almost haunting effect.  Incredibly experimental, it will undoubtedly be the talking point and is well worth the price of the cd it itself.

Away from Weston-Super-Mare comes an Electropop Remake of Bingo Hall Baby.  A fan favourite from Torsten with Andy providing the voice of a risqué compere it returns to the pop beat that we are maybe more familiar with, and maybe hints to a guilty passion of his (Erasure fans will recall participating in a game of Bingo midway through the live performance on 2004s The Tank, The Swan And Balloon tour).

With Radio Remixes of previous singles I Don’t Like and Fountain Of Youth, Andy’s voice is able to shine as possibly one of the most underrated voices in modern pop to the vast talent that it is.  Slightly different to the album versions with added subtleties they rightly obtain the attention that they deserve.  Fountain Of Youth in particular sours like an incredible phoenix over added vocals and quite brilliant orchestration. 

The closing track, a Promotional Medley of the original album is a strange addition.  Possibly working well as a video clip is maybe loses its charm, but does hint at the quality of gems like the gorgeously angry Mobile from one of last year’s finest albums.   

LinksSFE Records

Andy Bell website

Andy Bell on Twitter

Andy Bell on Facebook

Torsten The Bareback Saint website

Torsten On Twitter

Torsten On Facebook

Torsten The Bareback Saint album review 

Published on Louder Than War 20/08/5 - here


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News - Static In Verona Release New Album

Static in Verona is the work of Chicago musician Rob Merz, which brings electronic and experimental elements into a predominantly indie pop sound. After a stint in other musical projects over many years, this is Merz’s own solo work with every element – writing, performing every instrument and keeping the production in his hands.
After the draining three-year process it took to make Static in Verona’s second album “Everything You Knew Before You Knew Everything,” Merz decided to take a different approach on the follow-up and instead of meticulously writing then recording the music, Merz started with very loose ideas and then experimented with the structure and instrumentation in the studio. This creative freedom opened the door to many new sounds and unexpected twists that may not have happened otherwise. Merz also focused on keeping the collection concise, catchy and upbeat to further engage the listener. The finished product is"Odd Anthem," Static in Verona’s third album.

Static In Verona website
Static In Verona on Twitter
Static In Verona on Facebook

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Monday, 24 August 2015

News - Christa Vi Announces New EP

In her new EP Australian / German Singer Songwriter Christa Vi has been crafting her sound over a number of years both independently and through collaborations with fellow artists such as Box of Wolves from Canada (Electronic Rumors) and Australian songwriter Ben Salter (ABC Music). The title track of Christa Vi's latest EP, 'Makeshift Happiness', has been co-produced by Dalston-based mastermind Andrew McDonnell who has worked with the likes of Petite Noir, Suns & Crystal Fighters. The EP also features remixes by Kentucky-born beat-master DJ AMTRAC (Blanco Y Negro) and LA dweller Small Pyramids (Glasgow Underground,) with both artists putting their signature stamp on Christa's unique brand of synth-centric indiepop.

'Makeshift Happiness' is set for release on 25th September via Christa's own record label, Tangelo Records. The EP draws on Vi's strengths demonstrated in previous material and transforms them into something far more delicate and darker. A casual obsession with origami and paper-craft inspired the concept of creating something beautiful or functional out of something ordinary- a metaphor for making the best of life's hard knocks.


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News - Escapists Release New Single

Escapists’ new track ‘What Are You Waiting For’ comes off the back of their riveting dance pop return single ‘Eat You Alive’. Keeping everything panoramic and guitar-oriented, ‘What Are You Waiting For’ is an uptempo riff-laden song that explores the vertiginous boundary between action and inaction. It hearkens back to the tender yet brawny sound of their acclaimed debut album ‘Only Bodies’, but through the deft songwriting and recording they’ve achieved in their stop-gap singles since then, it thrums with a life of its own.

“The song is two sides of a conversation” says vocalist Simon Glancy, “one the negative, the feeling of not knowing what you’re doing, or where you’re going, and the other the positive, the voice telling you to go and get what you want”. With intricate layered vocals, a shout-along chorus and laddering guitar lines, ’What Are You Waiting For’ tactfully navigates the dichotomy between tender introspection and brazen self-affirmation. It’s a song that will keep Escapists firmly on the radar as songwriters, and it’s another indication of their wide and restless scope.


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News - The Vacant Lots Release New Single

"Departure" 7" is a limited edition white vinyl including two tracks mixed by Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom, legendary British producer and musician (Spacemen 3, E.A.R., Spectrum). “Departure” is an acid ballad previously released as b-side of “Paint This City”, second single out from debut-album “Departure”. “Let Me Out”, already known as part of “Arrival EP” is a psychotic heavenly mini-suite where they tribute their nostalgic psychedelic soul as disciples and successors of The Velvet Underground and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

The Vacant Lots website
The Vacant Lots on Twitter
The Vacant Lots on Facebook

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News - Loose Buttons Announce New Single

Following the success of their first two EPs, native New York quartet Loose Buttons present their new single, ‘Thrill’, due for release on 28th August.
Coming of age in New York City’s artistic revival of the early-2000s - a movement that gave America its second wave of indie rock on the backs of The StrokesInterpol and LCD Soundsystem - the boys of Loose Buttons began their immersion into the city’s newly galvanized musical culture. Their early adolescent years saw the four lads begin playing their respective instruments around the Five Boroughs in front of whoever would dare listen to a 12 year old with an electric guitar.
Years later, frontman Eric Nizgretsky, guitarist Zack Kantor, bassist Manny Silverstein and drummer Adam Holtzberg joined forces, clearly all struck by the energy buzzing around their home city and channelling that mutual inspiration into their own fun-loving brand of indie rock.

This signature sound is abundant in ‘Thrill’, which features an infectious vocal melody on top of woozy bass, anthemic riffs and pounding percussion in a combination that calls to mind the likes of their New York City idols.

With their accomplished guitar work, honest coming-of-age lyrics and clear passion for their craft, the band have received support from Paste andPop Matters, who premiered the Wes Anderson-inspired video to their last single, ‘Two Wolves’.

Still each in their early 20s, the four-piece are also a powerful live entity, having played prolifically around New York City and Miami, where three members of the band attended the Frost School of Music, where the city's warmer, more electronic influences helped guide their sound in a direction unique from their peers back home in New York. Still true to their indie rock ‘n’ roll roots, Loose Buttons released their debut EP ‘AM Arcade’ in 2013, leading to them headlining New York City’s coveted Brooklyn Bowl, and supporting Grizzly Bear and My Morning Jacket inTimes Square.

Loose Buttons on Soundcloud
Loose Buttons on Twitter
Loose Buttons on Facebook

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News - The Birdman Rallies Release New Single

York-based independent electro label, Anonymous Records is pleased to announce its latest signing in the form of Harrogate-based alternative pop act, The Birdman Rallies. Under the label (who have recently signed Skinner, The Ladder and Haxby Swango), The Rallies will release a new single, 'Full Moon Every Night' with the accompanying b-side, 'Storm Cloud Heat'.

Of the signing, Anonymous' Stewart Moss says: “Birdman Rallies blur the lines between electronic, indie and pop music so very well, it was too good an opportunity to pass up; and the tracks are classics from the band – it's a pleasure to release them under our banner.”

The Birdman Rallies' vocalist, Daniel Webster comments on the release: “These songs are from a nice hyperactive time in my life. 'Full Moon...' is a party song where the central character is cracking up through his hedonistic lifestyle, yet is incapable of giving it up. 'Storm Cloud Heat' is one of those rare songs which wrote itself in full, first play. It started off as skiffle, and gradually turned into a dubby dance track. Plus, it's a sweaty lust song."

The Birdman Rallies website
The Birdman Rallies on Twitter
The Birdman Rallies on Facebook

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