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"Kontiki Suite proudly flies its Byrds banner via some obvious stylistic hat-tips to 1968’s "The Notorious Byrd Brothers". This time out, the band boasts a batch of impressive new Rickenbacker-based janglers (mainly from the pen of guitarist Ben Singh) and a tougher sound from the rest of the band (Jonny Singh, lap steel guitar; Marcus Dodds, guitar; Mario Renucci, bass; Chris Brown and Craig Bright on drums and percussion respectively). The result is a cohesive, 50-minute flight high above exquisitely atmospheric psych/country-rock/chamber pop soundscapes.
The opening moments of guitar/rim shots in the rousing, Golden Smog-like opener “Bring Our Empire Down” recall David Crosby’s serene “Dolphin’s Smile,” after which some Neil Young-like crunch is thrown in as the song gathers steam. “My Own Little World” features the kind of textured ‘n’ trippy triple-guitar interplay (including lap steel and 12-string Rickenbacker) that characterizes the overall tone of the album – tone that is often upended by deliciously abrupt shifts in tempo: the lads in Kontiki Suite are more than happy to jolt you out of the hypnotized state in which they deftly placed you. Occasional, judiciously chosen blasts of harmonica tug on the same heartstrings as in Big Star’s “Life is White.”
“Free From Sound” and “Here for You Now” are tremendous pop songs, the kind of tracks that, back in the day, would’ve jumped out of an AM radio and grabbed you by the throat. The former features a keening pedal steel hook that’s hell-bent on becoming your next earworm. The latter blends a “Ticket To Ride” beat with power-poppy rhythm reminiscent of Gene Clark’s evergreen “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better.” Remastered and re-cut for this new vinyl edition to offer an improved sound spectrum!
So if you dig extremely catchy pop-music with a fat, rockin' guitar sound, well executed vocal-lines, ridin'-on-the-waves drums and a crunchy punk feel to it, the music of the Yum Yums, Paul Collins Beat and the Kurt Baker Combo, this one's a true must have for you!! Only £17.99 including worldwide postage.
The music Trapped Afterland create is very hypnotic and rich and, while I just sort of look around when they have an abundance of lyrics such as: “I feel like a sketch... lalala... Without any shading”, the understated richness of the multitude of odd and compelling vocals and instruments makes it all work.
Don’t pass Trappist Afterland up if you truly want a heavy, melodic dose of authentic modern psychedelic music. While they advertise themselves as producers of spirit music for the dispossessed (Not exactly the target audience for great financial reward...), they have a marketable musical product here which is well worth listening to by any fan of late 60s pop music at its purest. " £21.99 including postage anywhere.
Here are some of the nice things people said about the first album:
Highlands-based combo The Carousels echo the likes of Teenage Fanclub or Whiteout with a dose of The Beatles' 'Please Please Me' thrown in for good measure on countrified rocker 'Call Along The Coast'.' Drowned In Sound
'The Carousels deliver an important reminder that it's quite possible to be psychedelic without overloading the eardrums, opting instead for a Byrds-flavoured twelve-string jangle.' Louder Than War
'Melodious and up-tempo, the Live Revolution rendition of The Carousels' Mayflower blows its studio recording out of the water. With vocals perfectly spun among sunshower guitars and heady percussion, intricacy is intensified in the live arena yet made to sound effortless.' Britpop News
'Moving more in to the more pop arena, the octahedron of sound is squared up with The Carousels, whose song craft is very reminiscent of the Liverpool band Shack in their pomp around the release of the HMS Fables album.' Qromag
The Carousels take influence from Gene Clark, The Byrds and Gram Parsons and have been compared to fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub, Whiteout and the Cosmic Rough Riders. They have received multiple plays and Song of The Day on KEXP Radio for Marianne and have received airplay by Steve Lamacq on BBC6 Music.
1. Josephine 2. Lord Speed My Hurricane 3. Silvio 4. Wishing Well 5. Lake Eloise 6. Little Darlin' Side B 1. By Your Side 2. New Morning 3. Here In Time 4. Like A Loaded Gun 5. Man Out Of Me
Gems abound, but my favorites are "See You In The Morning" which mixes the twelve string jangle of early Byrds with their more easy-going psychedelic country rock shamblings of the late sixties even better than the Byrds themselves managed and "Hollywood" which sounds like Candidate produced by Jonathan Wilson.
And where a lot of otherwise excellent albums tend to taper off at the end, Kontiki Suite have saved the best for last with "Music Man" a lush piece of canyon rock with subtle mellotron touches, and "Magic Carpet Ride" which is aptly named, feeling just like one with it's hypnotic psychedelic coda." (Review by Nathan Ford)
£19.99 (no extra postage charged)
A founder member of both The Soup Dragons and BMX Bandits, McCulloch also lent his sublime guitar skills to the ill-fated Superstar, fronted by his friend Joe McAlinden (ex-Groovy Little Numbers) and in recent years has played and toured with Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan as well as playing on and contributing songs to Campbell’s albums. McCulloch is also a current member of BMX Bandits and is the songwriting force behind folk-rock outfit Snowgoose, fronted by the exquisite vocals of Anna Sheard.
With liner notes by Pete Paphides, ‘Retrospectively Yours’ is a stunning overview of a bafflingly over-looked trio of albums. From the 60s folk-pop of ‘Angel Angel’ to the cinematic swoon of ‘Shabby Horses’, there is a depth and range to McCulloch’s deceptively subtle song-writing that reveals itself with repeated listening. The eleven selections here will steal into your heart and nestle in your soul; take the time to explore these songs and they will stay with you forever."
£19.99 (no extra postage)
LUNAR LAUGH - "MAMA'S BOY", another volume in our "special imports series" (IMP 035) buy it here on vinyl
£19.99 (no extra postage!)
£19.99 (no extra postage)
"Portland quartet the Parson Red Heads may well be the epitome of the 'under-appreciated band'. Sure, they've got fans (and anyone who hears their music tends to become one of these), but this is a band who should be reaching millions, not thousands of listeners.
The Byrds meet Big Star, with a healthy dose of the Jayhawks on these exquisite country-pop gems. There are certainly correllations to be made between the Parson Red Heads, and another band beloved of Active Listener readers - the Young Sinclairs. Both channel vintage influences into fresh, timeless songs, which are more than the sum of their influences." (Nathan Ford http://active-listener.blogspot.co.uk)
£19.99 (no postage charged).
The Breretons "Keep You Safe" (Sugarbush SB034) the fantastic debut album is out on vinyl now, two colours to choose from!
this a very special record. Singer Charlotte Brereton (who is incredible live) really shines too on this LP. This limited edition comes in two colours: Blue (200 copies) & green (200 copies). £19.99 including postage anywhere.
genius' Lane Steiberg's pre 8x8 project), GREEN PAJAMAS, TROLLEY, CADDY, ANDY REED as well as newcomers MALADAPTIVE SOLUTION! All fantastic tracks and housed in a sixties Pebbles sampler - type sleeve! Only £18.99 - 150 copies on green vinyl and 150 copies on red vinyl.
Reviewed here by Nathan Ford:
I'm now absolutely certain that Sugarbush Records' Markus Holler has managed to somehow implant a chip in me that relays to him exactly which albums I want him to release. His latest batch of releases are absolute perfection. There are four of them in total, but I'm just going to focus on my favourite of them today (more on the others soon).
The Junipers, for those who haven't been paying attention, are one of this decade's most important, unheralded guitar pop bands. Their previous album "Paint the Ground" is one of my favourites of the last few years. I'd previously thought of it as one of those rare, perfect pop records, but it can't quite have been as this new album is even better. While "Paint the Ground" had a lovely pastoral tinge, "Red Bouquet Fair" is much more of a classic pop album, with songs that reach back to the sixties for inspiration without sounding tied to that decade or overly reverential. It's obvious that these guys have fantastic record collections, but in no way do these songs sound like an attempt to replicate the music from those collections.
There are strong hooks on every single one of these songs, and these lads sure do know their way around a harmony; check out the lush vocal layering on "Summer Queen". Absolutely stunning. Elsewhere, they use period embellishments sparingly for maximum effect. Particularly effective is the 12 string guitar solo on "Like a Merry Go Round", while the sitar led "Her Come The Winds" is a marvelous psych-pop gem. And don't get me started on the amazing kaleidoscopic psychedelia of "Burning Pages".
And while classic harmony and psych-pop are the most obvious touchstones here, other influences rear their heads; "When the Bird Has Flown" is a lovely, moody choral harmony piece ala Midlake or the Fleet Foxes, while "Dig Me Up" brings to mind some of the brit-pop sounds of the mid nineties which have aged more gracefully than others.
Apart from the extremely solid songcraft, and those luscious harmonies, the main secret to "Red Bouquet Fair"s success is in the arrangements and production. It's all beautifully layered, with imaginative touches that create a distinctive sound for the band, while preventing any of the songs sounding samey. Or to put it in a simpler fashion, it's obvious that these songs are all the work of the same band, but each is a fresh creation which distinguishes itself from its predecessors.
It's the sort of album which should make you a little bit angry at the injustices of the world. Paradoxically, I'd also imagine that it's pretty much impossible to remain angry while listening to "Red Bouquet Fair". This should by all rights be a major label release with constant airplay and household name status for the band, and had the Junipers been around to release this 50, 40 or even 20 years ago, that may well have been the case, but we don't currently live in a world where what the Junipers have to offer is in vogue with the masses. For us lucky few though, it's a comforting, magical experience. Absolutely wonderful.
These are the Lps we have in stock (the drop down menu above will give you these options), with a few reviews by Strange Brew Blog's Jason Barnard:
- The Honey Pot - Inside The Whale (LP)
- Mark & The Clouds - Blue Skies Opening (LP)
- Tír na nÓg - Live at The Half Moon (LP,)
- Mordecai Smyth - Sticky Tape & Rust (LP)
- Will Z. - New Start (LP)
Opener Jain Devotion is a melodic, languid delight accented by flute and synth with gentle lyrics. ‘Namo’ comes straight out of the Mike Oldfield, Tubular-Ommadawn playbook but feels new rather than a retread of previous work.
‘Greek Loop’ is in turns beautiful and eerie. The final sections of ‘Jain Devotion’ rounds off the album fittingly adding some electric guitar flourishes.
So given my tastes if you have even a passing interest in the proggier side of things, this is definitely worth exploring.
- Octopus Syng - Hollow Ghost / Rochelle Salt (LP)
- Beautify Junkyards - The Beast Shouted Love (LP)
- Crystal Jacqueline - Rainflower (LP)
This modern take on 60s/70s influences works well throughout and Jacqueline’s voice consistently enchants the listener. Highlights include the acid-folk tinged ‘Winter Deep / Dress of Winter Lace’ recalling a Gathering The Mushrooms outtake, ‘Daisy Chain’, a war tinged ‘Dandelion Seeds’ plus the sultry psych of ‘Strange Bloom’. The album’s title track ‘Rainflower’ is a memorable acoustic number recalling Nick Drake, with the moody closer ‘Again… Dragonfly’ providing a fitting climax.
Rainflower is released on 25th May as a 180g LP the first 100 of which come with an A5 postcard and scented rainflower petals.
- Icarus Peel - For-get-Me-Not Under Pussy Willow (LP)
- Octopus Syng – Reverberating Garden Number 7 (LP) The whole long player has a retro psych
sound with its’ excellent tracks well worth seeking out. Bringing some
Jefferson Airplane sensibility to its Syd Barrett core is no bad thing
as doomy psych opener, the aptly named ‘Avant-Garden’, attests.
‘You Are The Poem’ and ‘Mirror of Our Memories’ are lovely haunting Barrett-esque psych-folk numbers. Closing with the nine minute finale ‘Listen to the Moths’ the record branches into a proggier direction whilst keeping the group’s psychedelic undertones.