Sunday, 25 February 2018

THE SENIOR SERVICE - KING COBRA (Damaged Goods LP, CD).

Featuring the combined talents Jon Barker (organ), Graham Day (guitar), Darryl Hartley (bass guitar) and Wolf Howard (drums and percussion), The Senior Service are veterans of the Medway scene and have a musical lineage that goes back to the early 80’s and takes in legendary bands such as The Prisoners, The Mighty Caesars, The James Taylor Quartet, The Masonics and Billy Childish and The Buff Medways. They are back with their follow up to 2016's The Girl In The Glass Case, a tight and swinging LP of 60’s inspired instrumentals and imaginary film themes that were influenced by John Barry, Barry Grey, Booker T and the MG’s, Ennio Morricone and The Small Faces just to name a few and for fans of Hammond driven rave ups and  twangy soundtrack inspired instrumentals the self penned new album, King Cobra, out soon on Damaged Goods will not disappoint.

King Cobra conjures up a lost world of late night sessions at the Flamingo Club in seedy Soho, strange Spaghetti Westerns, swinging spy movies/cool crime capers that more than likely starred Michael Caine and the themes for classic British TV shows that were just a bit twisted and slyly psychedelic. Not that this is anything new, The JTQ were covering Lalo Schifrin ages ago and Barry Adamson made his name post Magazine/Bad Seeds composing dark noirish soundtracks for the film in his head, but The Senior Service are so damn groovy and it’s the twangy guitar, churning organ, pumping bass and funk drums that define this band. Bursting outta yer speakers, the swirling ‘The Contender’ kicks off proceedings with urgent bass and drums that demands you put on those dancing shoes and set em on fire! The rest of the record winds it’s way through all sorts of moods that have the essence of tough 60s R&B blended with wide screen cinematic splendor coming on like the love child of Booker T and Ennio Morricone. It’s cool stuff…………no doubt fans of The Prisoners and JTQ are already aware of this band, but if The Senior Service have passed you by and sharp 60s vibes are your thing thing then King Cobra is going to be well up your street…………..check it out cool cats, it feels like the time is just right for a fresh batch of exciting tunes played on antique instruments by young-minded lovers of Sixties instrumentals!

Due for release on vinyl and CD by Damaged Goods on 27/04/2018 and available from the best record emporiums, but till then keep ‘em peeled for pre-orders from the usual suspects on line.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

ANTON BARBEAU - NATURAL CAUSES (Gare du Nord/Beehive Records CD, D/L).

Sacramento born, resident of Berlin, citizen of the psychedelic realm, Anton Barbeau is back with a brand new album jam packed with sparkling Psych Pop gems. Natural Causes is the not-very-longawaited follow-up to 2016’s critically acclaimed Magic Act (“His new album bathes beautifully constructed, thoughtfully arranged songs in a fading psychedelic sunshine, and it would be many casual consumers' album of the year if only they got to hear it. Four stars.") and the very brilliant 2017 EP release on Fruits de Mer which included covers of songs by Traffic, Big Star and Bowie, as well as the curious original, ‘Secretion of the Wafer’, which Barbeau claims is "one of the greatest songs about crowd funding, possibly ever" and is included on this record in its original version. Barbeau’s 23rd record since 1993 is a bright, open,sometimes sad and often shimmering collection of new songs and splendid remakes that channel the greatest moments of Julian Cope’s early LPs on Mercury, Robyn Hitchcock, the Bevis Frond's Nick Saloman and the more psychedelically inclined mid 80s songs by XTC along with “classic” 60s Psychedelia influences (Syd Barrett, The Beatles etc.) to produce one of his most cohesive works to date.

Joined by an assortment of guest musicians, whose collective CV includes The Pretenders, Paul McCartney, the Bevis Frond, Todd Rundgren and The Soft Boys among others, multi-instrumentalist Barbeau has shaped an album of idiosyncratic, acid tinged, "pre-apocalyptic Psychedelic Pop" songs drenched in ancient Mellotrons, analog synths and 12-string guitars. Opening with the Neo-Psych Byrdsian jangle of a reworking of his 1993 song ‘Magazine Street’, Natural Causes is a journey round the psychedelic world of Anton Barbeau…….evolving from a project from a request from his Spanish label for a jangly 12-string pop song, he set out to make a glorious-sounding album, personal and not overtly political which revisited his back catalogue to include the Baroque Pop rarity ‘Creepy Tray’ and squally remake/remodel of the mind blowing ‘Just Passing By’ with the aforementioned ‘Magazine Street’ and also includes new jangly swirl outs like ‘Mumble Something’ and ‘Magic Sandwiches’. The result is a stunningly brilliant record of fantastic, quirky, timeless Psych Pop that any discerning PsychHead really needs to hear. We gotta admit that down in our psychedelic basement, even though we are massive fans of Cope, Hitchcock, XTC and the Bevis Frond, the psychedelic sounds of Anton Barbeau had gone way below our radar until this beauty dropped through the post portal, so Natural Causes works as both an introduction for new fans of the “cult hero’s cult hero” and a sparkly reminder for those that have tried to follow Anton Barbeau through his limited releases on obscure indies for a while now……..Check this out People, you wont be disappointed.

Due for a joint release on 13/04/2018 by London label Gare du Nord and Northern California based label Beehive Records, Natural Causes will be available on CD (and also as a digital download) from all the best record stores, the usual suspects on line and Bandcamp with pre-orders being taken now.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

SEVEN THAT SPELLS - THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF KRAUTROCK : OMEGA (Sulatron Records LP, CD, D/L).

Outta Zagreb, Croatia and back with their first album since 2014, Seven That Spells release final part of the trilogy The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock. Following 2011’s AUM and the second part of the trilogy, IO, the new LP, OMEGA, is a beast of a record; brutal and driving, mystical and really not from this world………………..a mix of dense Stoner Rock, modern Prog/Metal and cosmic Psychedelia created over a span of three years with Blake Fleming, the American drummer extraordinaire who pushed the twisted Prog Rock of the early The Mars Volta demos to uncharted regions of the galaxy, and guitarist Gordan Tomić joining the Seven That Spells core personnel of Niko Potočnjak and Jeremy White. Their definition of Krautrock goes well beyond the minimal motorik grooves of Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk, and into the wilder realms of outliers like Amon Düül II and Agitation Free, as well as German bands such as Grobschnitt, Eloy and Hairy Chapter…………add to this some potent Slavic magic and you have got a highly combustible mix of ingredients.

With two epic Space Rock/Stoner Rock/Prog Rock tracks at it’s core, The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock : OMEGA kicks in with Fleming’s fluid, pile driver drumming hitting terminal velocity at the first drop of the needle as the sludgy ‘In III’ gives way to the epic sprawl of ‘Omega’. Part Prog Rock odyssey, part Stoner trance out, the album’s title track is a spiraling journey clocking in just under 20 minutes that streaks across the cosmos leaving a trail of sparks and fire as Seven That Spells release the breaks on a white knuckle ride to the edge of the universe. The other epic track, ‘Future Lords’, mixes together the headrush of ritualistic tribal drumming with wave upon wave of fuzzy distorted guitars forming arcs of beautiful noise. Less experimental than IO, the new Seven That Spells LP sees the band moving more in the direction of heavy riffing Space Rock but with plenty of twists and turns to keep it really interesting. Ultimately, OMEGA is not reinventing the genre, but it’s Blake Fleming’s powerhouse drumming that elevates Seven That Spells endgame in their The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock trilogy way above the host of other bands mining the same seam of Stoner Prog………………..hopefully this line up of the band will stay together long enough to play some live shows across Europe. Now that would be something.

Due for release by Sulatron Records 23/02/2018, The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock : OMEGA by Seven That Spells will be available on vinyl and CD from all the best record shops, online or direct from Sulatron, you can check it out here…….
File under Psychedelic Wall Of Sound.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

THE KUMARI - THE KUMARI (Metal Postcard Records LP, D/L).

We first stumbled across London Garage/Psych band The Kumari in early 2013 shortly after the release of their debut 45, 'Fall In Love With The Sun', on Heavy Soul Records and had our minds blown by it’s gorgeous 60s West Coast inspired psychedelic swirl. Fast forward to the now and the years in between have seen the release four more excellent, critically acclaimed 7” singles on an assortment of very cool psychedelically inclined indie labels and a rapidly growing fan base from live shows on London’s thriving Psych scene. Now hooked up with the strange and beautiful Metal Postcard Records, 2018 sees the release of their long awaited first LP………….The Kumari’s self titled debut is a collection of eleven 60s/early 70s inspired Neo-Psychedelic songs, mostly previously unreleased except for a handful of the best tunes from the singles, that are short, sharp Psych Pop gems that have faint echoes of the groovy bands who were part of the 80s Psychedelic Revival along with other newer bands such as The Higher State, Sonic Dawn, Green Seagull and The Orange Drop…………………quite a contrast to the current trend of Psych bands sounding like Hawkwind, NEU! and Sonic Youth fighting in a sack.

The Kumari are dab hands with a Psych Pop tune with their songs stripped of any excess baggage, clocking in at around the 3 minute mark and brimming with pop smarts. The Kumari’s roots are deeply embedded in “classic” Psychedelia/Garage Rock that brings together the Nuggety goodness of the first psychedelic era, early 70s post psychedelic fuzzed out Rock and the 60s revivalists from a decade later but with a twist of modern Psych Rock to keep The Kumari relevant and not a living museum dedicated to all things retro. Nearly five years in the making, this LP is a distillation of their influences/inspiration as The Kumari navigate their way through 50 years of groovy psychedelic sounds, mixing spiky modern Psych Pop with jangly guitars and heady vibes straight outta the 60s and the fuzzed out, squally mayhem of the best Garage Rock bands ……………….effectively this is a snap shot of where the band are at early 2018 and no doubt this record makes up the bulk of their current live set. Drop the needle on side one of The Kumari’s debut LP and the Eastern influenced swirl of the band’s calling card, ‘Kumari’, drifts from your speakers and hangs in the air like the finest hashish smoke before the hectic Glam stomp of ‘Space Witch’ snaps you out of your reverie. The rest of the record twists and turns through two sides of the many hues across the psychedelic spectrum taking in, among other great tunes, the Byrdsian ‘Girl Don't Exist’, the twisted heavy rockin’ ‘Bring It Back’ and their very cool debut single before closing with the barely controlled chaos of ‘Outro’………….it’s a trip People.

Due for release on Metal Postcard Records very soon (March maybe?????), the self titled debut album from The Kumari will be available on vinyl or as a digital download……………keep ‘em peeled for an official release date and any info about pre-orders.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

STRANGE FLOWERS - BEST THINGS ARE YET TO COME (Area Pirata Records 2 x CD, D/L).

Strange Flowers are happening………………to mark the passing of three decades since Neo-Psych veterans The Strange Flowers first burst onto the Italian psychedelic scene, Area Pirata Records (the home of Italian Garage Rock) have released an epic 2 x CD, 30 track anthology of newly mixed, and/or mastered songs from each of their 7 albums plus 5 previously unreleased tracks (3 of them specially recorded for this record) tracing the story so far. Best Things Are Yet To Come charts the sometimes bumpy journey from a young Paisley Underground inspired band to mainstays of the Italian Psych Scene that are well respected and much loved across mainland Europe with the songs unfolding in a chronological order over the two discs. Split into two distinctive sections, disc 1 (“The First Republic”) covers the first phase of the band from 1987 to 1996 where international success always seemed a mere touch away if given the breaks and a bit more luck, while the second disc (“The Second And Third Republic”) chronicles the years following The Strange Flowers critically acclaimed return in 2006 where they have now cemented their reputation as one of the finest Italian Psychedelic Pop bands………….it’s a definitive collection that spans the long strange trip from the Byrdsian jangle of the early years, through the tripped out 90s to the grown up, artfully crafted Psychedelia of their recent records.

The early material has been favorably compared to 80s Neo-Psychedelic bands such as The Rain Parade with it’s distinctive sound no doubt influenced by the Paisley Underground, however the first years of The Strange Flowers appeared to be a series of false starts with band being more popular in Germany than back at home. It’s the German connection that led to the release of their debut single (‘Me And The Eggman’ b/w ‘Janet's Faces’) which appeared on the Unique label in 1990, followed by the long delayed Music For Astronauts LP which finally appeared as part of the Teen Trash series issued by German Psych label Music Maniac in 1994. Disc 1 brings together a choice collection of songs which includes the fantastic debut single, cuts from the first album and songs that although written at the start of the 90s did not appear on record until 2006……………….it’s all quite brilliant!! The Strange Flowers early songs are concise, acid soaked Psych Pop gems, mostly around the 3 minute mark and stripped of any excess. The first single, ‘Me And The Eggman’, is a kaleidoscopic swirl of a tune that would not sound out of place on Emergency Third Rail Power Trip and if the tracks from Music For Astronauts had appeared around five years earlier and not as Grunge was giving way to Brit Pop, The Strange Flowers coulda bin contenders if not for a series of unfortunate events putting them in the wrong place at the wrong time. The standout track from the first disc is the previously unreleased ‘The Sixth Color’, written in 1993 but only recently recorded, which is a hazy technicolour trip back in time to the early 80s L.A. Psychedelic Underground of The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock, Eleventh Dream Day and, of course, The Rain Parade.

Finally recording songs originally written back in the 90s, The Strange Flowers returned with a new album in 2006, but this time Ortoflorovivaistica landed at the start of a new Psychedelic Revival and for once they were at the heart of a growing Italian Psychedelic scene. Released by Nasoni Records, Ortoflorovivaistica received glowing reviews which which kick started the most productive period of their career recording six albums between 2006 and 2015………………Disc two contains the highlights from these records. Opening with a re-recording of ‘Strange Girl 2000’, this is The Strange Flowers at their trippiest and most Psychedelic with a Raga Rock work out that gracefully unwinds over a blissed out 10 minutes, the second disc of Best Things Are Yet To Come charts the evolution of the band into a thoroughly modern Psychedelic Pop outfit firing on all cylinders. Still influenced by American Psych bands, still free of any self indulgence, they have developed as song writers creating beautiful tunes with their last LP Pearls At Swine being a fine example of how much they have become masters of their craft. There are some outstanding tunes here including the West Coast vibes of ‘The Naked Monk’ and ‘Everyone Has A Spot In The Sunshine’, the groovy ‘Underneath Electric Wires’ and the 60s influenced ‘Watching The Clouds From A Strawberry Tree’ that are the pick of a second CD packed great songs. Working as both a celebration of 30 years of the Psychedelic adventures of The Strange Flowers and also an introduction to a band little known outside mainland Europe, Best Things Are Yet To Come is well worth checking out.

Available as a lavishly packaged 2 x CD or as a digital download, Best Things Are Yet To Come is out NOW. You can order it from the Area Pirata on line store or alternatively check it out/stream it/buy it from the Area Pirate Bandcamp site here………..