White Manna come from California just like Wooden Shjips and White Manna play wall to wall psych-rock just like Wooden Shjips but, there is certainly enough room in this world for another guitar wielding physch rock explosion.  

A debut album of  5 songs, all around a skull crunching 7-9 minutes mark mean this is a rewarding piece of vinyl (and CD). Seemingly remaining pretty anonymous, the band have no website but do have a Bandcamp page here where you can listen to most of the tune from the record.  

Opener“Acid Head” sounds exactly like the title predicts. Keep Your Lanterns Burning is a sonic epic and with your head still ringing the band launch into ‘Mirror Sky’ and there is still ‘Don’t Gun Us Down’ and  ‘Sweet Jesus’ to come.

So if you like the aforementioned Wooden Shjips or their offshoot Moon Duo or Black Mountain then this is for you. If you just want your first modern day Physch Rock experience, then, this is a great place to start!

Pete

11/11

 Available via Rough Trade Records 

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Well, what to expect without The Black Crows? The distinctive Chris Robinson voice is still there, The Grateful Dead vibe is flourishing on an album of seven songs. Don’t fret. most break the 7 minute mark. Opener Tulsa Yesterday coming in over a glorious 11 minutes. 

Any Deadhead or Black Crow at a loose end would feel at home here, the muse is vibrant on this record. Yes it could have been released in 1970’s but this just means that’s this record has a spirit about it. Chris’ voice is at its soulful best throughout. 

The Allman Brother's star also shines brightly above this record. What began as an experiment without expectations, turned into a 118-date journey for Robinson (lead vocals, guitar), Neal Casal (guitar, vocals), Adam MacDougall (keys, vocals), George Sluppick (drums) and Mark Dutton (bass, vocals). 

Now with a record under their belt perhaps we can get some UK dates, Union Chapel London anyone? 

 

  Pete

10/11

 1. Tulsa Yesterday  

 2. Rosalee       

 3. Star or Stone             

 4. Tomorrow Blues         

 5. Reflections on a Broken Mirror  

 6. Beware, Oh Take Care              

 7. One Hundred Days of Rain

 

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Sonic overload is a speciality of A Place To Bury Strangers and with the thundering bass opening of ‘Alone’ there is little doubt what pleasure we are in for on this record. 

‘You are the One’ has a more dreamy start but it’s not long before arms are aloft pumping the air as the psychedelic guitars hit the wall and bounce straight back.

There is a glorious NIN (Nine Inch Nails) like opening to ‘Crowd Control’. Bass drums, vocals and screaming guitar collide at the end. Title track ‘Worship’ has a Horrors’ like rift and is a storming song! 

The record also has it’s more subtle moments as well, ‘Fear’ and’ Dissolved’ bring the pace down slightly, the latter with an indie feel whilst, ‘Why Can’t I Cry Anymore’ get us back to the industrial wasteland.  

Two LPs and an EP, the catalogue grows for APTBS as the live show gathers rave reviews. A band to catch next time they are in your neighbourhood! 

 

Pete

9/11

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1. Alone 

2. You Are The One 

3. Mind Control 

4. Worship 

5. Fear 

6. Dissolved 

7. Why I Can't Cry Anymore 

8. Revenge 

9. And I'm Up 

10. Slide 

11. Leaving Tomorrow 

 

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A gentle big sound on ‘Man on Fire’, a festival sing-a-long if there ever was one, opens the album. Nice pace changes, harmonies and rhythms brings the Polyphonic Spree immediately to mind. 

A nice large sun above the sea on the cover of the record gives an indication of the wacky and colourful sound inside. By track two the feet are tapping and the hands are clapping! 

The banjo (yes, we love the banjo) makes an appearance on ‘I Don’t Wanna Pray’. Joint vocals appear on most of the album from Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos and are delightful. The song ‘Mayla’ delivers a gospel feel to the record, which is not at all out of place. 

Solo vocals from Christian Letts on ‘Child’ is a lovely song with just an acoustic guitar. ‘One Love To Another’ has a hip swaying Caribbean feel and vocals soar on ‘Fiya Wata’ (Fire, Water). 

Then we are at the end of the record with the fragile and gentle ‘All Wash out’. A great summer experience!

 

Pete

8/11

 

 

1. Man On Fire

2. That's What's Up

3. I Don't Wanna Pray

4. Mayla

5. Dear Believer

6. Child

7. One Love to Another

8. Fiya Wata

9. All Wash Out

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In 2010 Owen Ashworth announced that he was retiring the "Casiotone for the Painfully Alone" name. Advance Base is Owen’s new moniker and The Shut-In’s Prayer is the latest fruit to fall from his tree.

 

This is a record that will appeal to anyone familiar with the former’s work, plus anyone who enjoys the music of eels, Mark Eitzel, Mark Kozelek and Sparklehorse for starters.

 

My usual complaint when such a fine record is spinning in the CD player is that it’s too short. The Shut-In’s Prayer comes in around the 35 minute mark so either get it on vinyl or imagine it’s an LP you are listening to.

 

The album sounds totally solo, with Ashworth's vocals like a slightly wired whisper. Owen, now in his mid thirties, comes from Redwood City California, and now resides in Chicago. Shut-In’s Prayer is not a sunny day record, more like a cold Chicago winter, which is not a bad thing, believe me.

 

Accompanying himself on his Rhodes 54 electric piano, the additional arrangements enhance the songs with gentle upright piano melodies and electric bass. A Shut-In's Prayer is Owens’s first full-length release in over three years, and was recorded at home, as well as using piano practice rooms at Chicago’s public library. These environments positively shine though on the finished article.

 

You can expect ‘Christmas in Oakland’ to be on a few alternative playlists come December with these lyrics “It's Christmas in Oakland, I don't feel a thing, rode our bikes to the Chevron for Chesterfield Kings” … which will be nice next to Polystyrene’s ‘Black Christmas’ song.

 

Lyrics are down to earth; New Gospel’ “you've been stashing all your empties in the neighbor's bins like the landlord doesn't know you’re drinking”

 

A fine real life record, perhaps a double album next time?

 

9/11
Pete

 

 

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Summer Music

New Gospel

More Trouble

David Allen

Christams In Oakland

Riot Grrls

Goldfish in a Robin’s nest

My Sister’s Birthday

The Sister You Never had

Shut-In River Blues

 

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Just the eight songs on this record from the now established artist Marissa Nadler but eight gems they are. 

 

Marissa hails from Massachusetts and has five full albums to her name before Sister. Ballads of Living and Dying (2004) The Saga of Mayflower May (2005), Songs III: Bird on the Water (2007), Little Hells (2009), and Marissa Nadler (2011).

 

We are much in the land of  Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor and Tori Amos here. A wonderful musician with an enchanting voice.. ‘Sister’ as Marissa stated is “the sister album to her fan-funded, self-titled album that was released in June 2011 also on her own label, Box of Cedar Records.

 

‘Sister’ is record containing a rich warmth of sound which emanates from Marissa’s voice. It is her voice that gives her a unique perspective away from the other touchstone singers above.

 

The lyrics are beautifully intense and take relationships at their heart. “You said you'd need a wrecking ball to break the cement 'round the heart” from The Wrecking Ball Company and the opening lines of the album.

 

“But your closer to me than my own skin” from Apostle. “Many a life I’ve tried and many a tear I've cried your heart is a twisted vine” from Your Heart Is A Twisted Vine.

 

This is really a record to sit down and listen to. You could even shut your eyes, get totally immersed and swept away.

Pete

9/11

 

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Website

 Amazon

People are always looking for something new musically, and whist the sound here has hints of the San Franciscan district they took their name from, the music sounds like a collision of Sonic Youth and Fleetwood Mac. The approach and delivery is so bright and refreshing that it has the sun shining in your heart from the opening song.

The song titles leave something to be desired but rest assured, a song called ‘Maastricht (A Treaty)’ sounds nothing like you would expect. 

The band themselves, bright young things that they are, hail from Glasgow, which feels like the UK version of New York’s Brooklyn at the moment, with a host of great bands emerging from the city.

 

This album is ‘Sitar Rock’: very rarely pausing for breath it’s a toe tapping delight, even in the latter stretches of the record with Moondogs, Hole in the Ground and Buffalo Trace.

 

The band have progressed greatly from the debut album and early live shows. Learning their craft and not afraid to experiment. Greater things will come from this outfit in the future, I am sure!

 

9/11
Pete 
        

 

 

Maastricht (A Treaty)             
Sophomore             
Everything Is Possible             
2nd Hand Rose             
Ta Wit Ta Woo            
Freelove         
Dum Dee Dum           
She's So Groovy '86         
Moondogs           
Hole in the Ground        
Buffalo Trace          
Love, Haight & Ashbury

 

Interview   

 

Band Website and tour dates   

 

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I think the days of the difficult second albums are gone. The expanded version of Lower Dens with additional guitarist / keyboardist Carter Tanton have delivered a classy second album with ‘Nootropics’. 
 
‘Twin-Hand Movement’ the band’s debut on Devendra Banhart's ‘Gnomonsong’ label back in 2010 was a great find for those searching for a slow burning pearl amongst all the new music of that time. Nootropics’ has a fuller more lush and even, more accessible sound than it’s predecessor and is a fine record to listen to.  
 
Jana Hunter is Baltimore based and the voice of Lower Dens. Her hypnotic and wintery vocals continue to weave their way around these songs like an early morning mist. It is said that Hunter composed a majority of these songs in the back seat of a tour van with a small keyboard hence the electronic change on some songs from that guitar driven sound of ‘Twin-Hand Movement’.  
 
The opener, 'Alphabet Song' is a subtle keyboard / guitar mix - 'Brains' has a (almost) skiffle start with building guitars. Deeper vocals match the deeper sound on this song which is a gem. 
 
'Stem' has a similar (garage) style guitar start with more electronics added on this instrumental. A synth widescreen lead for ‘Propagation’ with a wall of guitars and ’Lamb’ really gives range to Jana's voice.
 
A prime electronic example is the instrumental ‘Lion in Winter, Pt 1’ which brings that electronic sound to the mix and 'Nova Anthem' which is almost Hymnal. 
 
Reinvention seems to be the name of the game for Jana Hunter and we eagerly await the next instalment. As the final song intimates, 'In the End is the Beginning'. In the meantime, ‘Nootropics’ is a particularly recommended late night album.
 
9/11
Pete
 
1. Alphabet Song 
2. Brains 
3. Stem 
4. Propagation 
5. Lamb 
6. Candy 
7. Lion in Winter Pt. 1 
8. Lion in Winter Pt. 2 
9. Nova Anthem 
10. In the End is the Beginning 
 
 

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The Great Lake Swimmers sound upbeat and expansive on ‘New Wild Everywhere’ yes, the gorgeous ethereal trademark slower paced songs are there together with, joyous open the windows wide, songs like the title track 'New Wild Everywhere' and ‘Changes With The Wind’ 

‘Think That You Might Be Wrong’ opens the record with a deep rich sound and beautiful strings. There are a lot of moments with a full string section that really swell the sound.

 

This wider sound could also be attributed to the introduction of Miranda Mulholland to the band. A Canadian fiddle player and singer, she also has some lovely harmonies on this album..

 

This is the Toronto band’s fifth album and, three years on since ‘Lost Channels’.

Recorded in the studio on home soil except, ‘The Great Exhale” which although recorded in Toronto, was actually recorded in an abandoned subway station with quite spectacular results.

 

The whole album radiates musical class and there is very little if anything (as usual with this band) negative to say about this record, let’s just hope it propels Tony Dekker, Erik Arnesen, Greg Millson, and Miranda Mulholland into the spotlight this time around.

 

10/11

Pete

 

 

 

Band website

 

Think That You Might Be Wrong

New Wild Everywhere

The Great Exhale

The Knife

Changes With The Wind

Cornflower Blue

Easy Come Easy Go

Fields Of Progeny

Ballad Of A Fisherman's Wife

Quiet Your Mind

Parkdale Blues

On The Water

Les Champs De Progéniture

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The last Trembling Bells album I listened to,’ The Constant Pageant’ I  ended up confused as to what the band were trying to get across to the listener. Folk, Rock, Prog? .. I think I decided it was a mixture of all of these in the end.

 

On ‘The Marble Downs’ which is a welcome collaboration with Bonnie Prince Billy. all that confusion evaporates. This is dark psychedelic folk with only lyrics you would expect from the great man out front and beautiful, crystal clear vocals from Lavinia Blackwall of The Trembling Bells to match. This certainly is an accomplished record.

 

It’s a ‘grower’ for sure, but two or three listens and it’s under your skin and in your consciousness. Songs like the opener, Made a Date (With An Open Vein), the break-up ‘I Can Tell You're Leaving’ and who could resist Love Is A Velvet Noose. All the songs and the album as a whole are really intriguing.

 

The connection between the two participants is Trembling Bells' drummer and principal songwriter Alex Neilson and goes back to  2005, when Alex was  playing drums on Alasdair Roberts 'No Earthly Man, with Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) producing. so, I guess the seeds where sown and here we are today with an album off the beaten track.

 

Try it, it’s special

 

9/11

Pete

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I Made a Date (With An Open Vein)

I Can Tell You're Leaving

Ferrari In A Demolition Derby

Ain't Nothing Wrong With A Little Longing

Excursions Into Assonance

Every Time I Close My Eyes (We're Back There)

Love Is A Velvet Noose

My Husband's Got No Courage In Him

Riding

Lord Bless All

Camacana’ perhaps or, to put it another way, Americana from Cambridge. This is the first album release from ‘Model Village’ and a joy it is to behold. A mix of styles from tuneful pop on the openers, ‘Hang Ups Goodbye’ and ‘Josefina’  to reflective on ‘Country Claimed Me’, with the lyric, “An hour to the City is wasted”, as I sit on my commute writing this, to Neil Young sonic soundscapes on ‘Dog Watches’.

 

A mix as well on the vocals with Rachel and Ian mainly sharing the duties either individually or harmonising which, works really well whoever, is taking the lead.

 

The band in the past have described themselves as a Success free Supergroup”, as  they have all been/are in other groups, most notably Dan who is an active member of Fuzzy Lights who are a great UK psychedelic experience if, they should pass your way.

 

The band has ‘first time out of the box’ produced, a fun rhythmic record even with some darker lyrics. This should be a regular in the car this summer.

 

9/11

Pete

 

Hang Ups Goodbye 

Josefina   

Country Claimed Me 

Harder And Harder     

Tiny Hands 

Dog Watches    

2003   

Next Xmas

Bouncers     

Perfect Scale Replica     

Sweets 

 

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 A Solution To Everything is released on 30th April but is available now as a digital download with pre orders here

 

Band Website

Bandcamp

 

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This is not really rock n’ roll and I do struggle with whistling in songs and Andrew Bird, does like a good whistle or two. Neither of the foregoing though are a problem on this lovely record that is a tremendous and creative step up from the excellent ‘Noble beast’ album.

Baroque, classical, Chicgaoian, Americana is somewhere close to the sound on ‘break it Yourself’. A voice not a million miles away from Paul Simon, the songs here are stories welded to exemplary musicianship.

You could go to Wilco, Joanna Newsome for contemporary touchstones but always remember this is a very original singer/songwriter/musician and the perhaps the whistling does mark him apart.

Enjoy!

10/11

 

Pete

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  1. Desperation Breeds
  2. Polynation
  3. Danse Carribe
  4. Give It Away
  5. Eyeoneye
  6. Lazy Projector
  7. Near Death Expereicne Expereince
  8. Things Behind The Barn
  9. Lusitania
  10. Oprheo Looks Back
  11. Sifters
  12. Fatal Shore
  13. Hole In The Ocean Floor
  14. Belles

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