Friday, May 17, 2013

Phenomenal Cat - Pop Wasteland

Down in a quiet corner in the garden of England lives a band that are the most quintessential of English bands to grace our presence since The Kinks, I am referring to Phenomenal Cat, of course, a band that aren't happy to rest upon their laurels after releasing a single a month for the whole of 2012, all of which were stunning pieces of work and songs that gained them positive critique both home and abroad. Now they are back with a new project entitled "Pop Wasteland."

So, what exactly is "Pop Wasteland?"  Well, it is a rock 'n' roll soundtrack with an accompanying graphic novel of which installments will be released throughout 2013/14 until it reaches, from what the first edition suggests, a climatic ending, eventually.

The graphic novel follows the life of a character called "Albert Blood," the title of the first accompanying single, a legend, a man who's life is about to be turned upside down by love, death, fear, murder and rock 'n' roll.

I think this is a really great concept and having read the first addition, I can honestly say I am eagerly anticipating the next installment.  Phenomenal Cat continue to impress me, I am sure that it is only a matter of time before the band become well known and respected for the great musicians that they are, their concept/lyrics about modern Britain really harks back to some of Blurs conceptual work in the 90's, but time flies and that was all ages ago, this is new and updated for the UK in recession and I love it!

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love Phenomenal Cat here: Facebook

Stream the "Albert Blood" single and order a physical copy with copy #1 of the graphic novel here: PC Bandcamp
(Also be sure to check out the collection of singles from last year, now all neatly packaged onto one album)

Phenomenal Cat will be appearing at this years International Pop Overthrow festival in Liverpool this weekend (18th May) playing both The Cavern Club and The Cavern Pub, if you are in the area, you really should catch them live, they put on a fantastic show!

* Thanks to "Interplanet Janet" for some inspiring words about the band which I have used in this feature.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Attic Lights - Super De Luxe. OUT NOW

One of my favourite albums from 2008, if not my favorite album that year, and one of my all time favourites, was Attic Lights - "Friday Night Lights."  The album was an immediate power pop masterpiece with beautiful four part harmonies tinged with a country feel and slide guitars and now they are back with their second album "Super De Luxe" which is every bit as exciting and brilliant as the first, but, I had a few questions about the album, so I decided to drop Kev Sherry, singer and guitarist an e mail which he very kindly replied to.  But lets have a song first!

ICM: Can you tell be why there was such a long break between "Friday Night Lights and the new album?

KS: A few answers to this. Amidst other things, I think it's a case of 'life getting in the way.' Initially, during the promotional campaign for our first album, the head of the record label (who had been instrumental in signing us) left Island Records to go to EMI so we kind of lost an ally. We were always a risky proposition for a major label to sign (let's face it, we don't sound like a major label band) so I think there was some confusion over what to do with us. Just as we signed to our publishing label, Island records told us they weren't going to go do a second album with us (this would have been about mid 2009 I think.) Which was a bit bizarre as we were really only beginning our album campaign. Speaking to our new publishers about it, the general feeling was that the record label had lost their nerve a bit - or maybe by that point they just didn't quite know what to do with us. 

Our publishers and management were confident we would get another label so we pressed ahead and started work on the 2nd album. Spent about a year writing tracks for it, a few false starts and different sounds and avenues were pursued. We recorded half the album in late 2010 and the other half in Spring 2011. As we were finishing the record, Jamie, our lead guitarist told us he was leaving the band. His wife was about to have a baby and he didn't fancy being on the road away from his family. My mother passed away around this time after a long illness (which also perhaps influenced the album in terms of lyrical content and darker sounds)  so it wasn't until a while later that we started looking for another guitarist before realising that the answer was right under our noses. Jim Lang, who had engineered and co-produced the second album turned out to be the ideal guy for the job. Colin then got married and had a baby of his own. By this time it was 2012 and our management had placed the new album with Elefant Records. When you hand an album to a label they need a good four months or so of prep time to plan for release (Unfortunately, this lead us up to Xmas 2012 and the only people who release records in the last quarter of the year are the big major label artists cashing in on xmas.) So, we held off on release until this year.

To the general public it looks like 5 years (2008-2013) since our last release, but to us it's only really been 3 years since our last single released on Island and this new album coming out. Kinda weird the way it works out!

ICM:  What have you planned for the promotion of the new album, live dates etc? 

KS: Currently sorting out gigs, festivals etc, shooting videos, doing interviews, acoustic sessions etc... There will probably be a tour later this year after the festival season has finished. We are just enjoying being back doing the thing we love. It's early days so we dont' have the full marketing plan in action yet but I imagine we will be working on pushing this new record for the next year  and a half or so. Looking forward to playing at Benicassim Festival on July 19th. Doing a wee show in Glasgow in Nice'n'Sleazy's on May 26th to test our live legs.

Looking forward to shooting some videos for forthcoming singles (lots of daft ideas), organising gigs and festivals and doing radio and online wherever we can. We will have specific tour dates further down the line, all of which will be on our new website which is almost complete.

ICM: I read on your website that we won't have to wait so long for the next album, can you tell me a bit about that, I saw that you have many songs ready to go for that which is great.

KS: Colin and I are always writing songs both together and seperately. Since we finished recording the 2nd album in 2011 we have been writing solidly and have tons of tracks. Colin sent me a song last week that broke my heart, solo piano and vocal, like a Neil Young  song, just beautiful. He is without doubt the most naturally gifted songwriter i've ever met. However, that gets my competitive blood up so now I need to knock one out to equal it. It's a friendly rivalry that gets the best out of both of us (I hope)

ICM: I also read that you are related to David Byrne of Talking Heads which I didn't know before.

KS: Yeah, David was my mum's cousin. They grew up together in Scotland before he emmigrated to Canada and then America. Whenever he was playing in Scotland we would always get on the guest list and go to the gigs and he would come up for lunch to my parents house before shows. I remember being a kid and watching Top of the Pops and my mum telling me that I had a cousin who did that job and pulled out the "Remain in Light" LP and put it on the turntable. I remember thinking.."Oh.. so that's a job that normal people like us can actually do.." It sort of brought it out of the TV and into reality for me. So, it was never this unobtainable thing. It was always something that was possible.
"Say You Love Me" available as a single release.

Many thanks to Attic Lights and Kev Sherry for his time and the information kindly provided.

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love Attic Lights here: Facebook

Attic lights official website:

Buy the album here: Amazon

Official Press Release:

Attic Lights were one of the biggest surprise hits of 2008 after debut album Friday Night Lightsappeared on Island Records to rapturous applause. The Guardian described it as “Chiming 12-string perfection”, the NME claimed how Attic Lights “comes on like The Eagles lassoing Fountains Of Wayne to The Beach Boys” and Artrocker classified Friday Night Lights as “one of the finest guitar pop albums this year.” The Fly called it “spellbinding” whilst Uncut noted how it was “truly infectious”. Q could barely contain themselves when mentioning the “sumptuous harmonies”. Tastemakers Mojo exclaimed, “These lads really knock together a perfect tune.” 
If the major label success was not to continue, a slightly modified Attic Lights signed with Elefant records in 2012 and released the Say You Love Me EP. The four songs lovingly melded indie pop with everyone from Big Star to sunshine pop ’60s legends Harper’s Bizzare and The Cyrkle. “Since our previous single in 2009 we've changed labels, lost one guitarist, gained another, written countless new songs and recorded our second album,” states vocalist and guitarist Kev Sherry matter-of-factly. “I guess, if anything else has changed, as songwriters we feel we've got better at our craft and that we have come in to our own a little bit more and shaken off our early influences to develop a more unique sound.”

On Super De Luxe (produced by Teenage Fanclub’s Francis Macdonald) the band take the cleanest pop to even higher levels whilst adding new flavours along the way. Named after the very same jukebox brand that guitarist Tim Davidson has at home, the album itself serves up short, sharp doses of pop nirvana akin to a dream 45 collection. “We were all massive fans of Weezer and The Lemonheads growing up so that has really driven our desire for catchy melodies mixed with loud guitars,” says Kevin of things that have inspired this new outing. “The Beach Boys and Beatles/Paul McCartney are of course key but we have also recently been listening to a lot of classic soul, Motown and disco, which you can hear in tracks like ‘Future Bound’ and ‘Stay Before You Leave’ while there's also a touch of anthemic rock thanks to some Bruce Springsteen and Death Cab For Cutie.” ‘Say You Love Me’ (the album’s opening track) really is solid proof of the band’s perfect pop sensibilities; reminiscent of Camera Obscura yet more wide-eyed and innocent with a ’50s bobbysox feel about it, ‘Mona Lisa’ has an unforgettable chorus in the same school as The Cars and Red Kross and ‘Don’t You’ has something of an early ’90s buzzsaw guitar stylistic and the kind of soaring to-die-for harmonies that may well draw Teenage Fanclub and Fountains Of Wayne comparisons. “Orbison” , the aptly named tribute to Roy Orbison, has a classy foot to the floor mid-70s powerpop vibe, somewhere between a burning Elvis Costello and a red hot Raspberries, pushing the euphoria up to unknown levels. Album closer ‘Gabrielle’ is majestic, proving the Scottish band’s ability to sound tremendously contemporary and also show their love for circa 1970 Paul McCartney.  It’s as if Elliott Smith is still with us.
It’s been four years since Attic Lights breakthrough yet they still maintain that very same timeless Scottish pop sensibility in an era of One Dimension, synth pop and so on. “The musical landscape is such a vast canvas these days and in general people seem to be listening to ever wider types of music,” says Kevin. “I don't think it's the same as 10 years ago when you would find exclusive little musical tribes. Nowadays the kinda thing we do sits alongside everything else...” But clearly chiming guitars will always have a place whatever the weather, won’t they? Even in cloudy Glasgow. “It’s a strange thing that coming from such a grey, rainy country so many bands are drawn towards sunshine harmony indie rock. I don't really know why it's so popular in Scotland,” laughs Kevin, “other than maybe it's the best escape from the appalling weather. And obviously we all are influenced by our local heroes so bands like Teenage Fanclub and Belle & Sebastian showed that there is an area of music there worth exploring.”
From big label money to hip Spanish indie pop mecca Attic Lights are certainly continuing to explore the possibilities of sunshine driven chiming pop and in doing so it almost sounds as if they could appeal to that whole landscape: the 10-year-old girls that follow today’s sanitized pop, daytime Radio 2 listeners and of course the gently beard stroking fans of Big Star.  A light shineth!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Camera 2 - Just About Made It. (And More!)

I am not a big fan of electronica in music but every now and then a band comes along and shift the boundaries of my perception in this genre and Camera 2 are one of those bands, I really like this, every aspect of this bands music lifts me and makes me smile and that is what music should be about, right?
The bands music isn't strictly electronica, there is the usual instruments included as well and I happen to think that it sounds pretty damn neat, as always, let's let the music do the talking!

Brooklyn foursome Camera2 is made up of producer-songwriter-vocalist – Andy Chase (Tahiti 80/Juliana Hatfield/Smashing Pumpkins), guitarist – Michael Jurin (Stellastarr*), bassist – Aric Gillis (Teenage Kick) and drummer – Mike Williams (Teddybears). The band came together in mid-2012 and soon after completed an album Andy wrote and produced in his home studio with co-production by Blondfire’s Bruce Driscoll. Camera2 is a decidedly new direction and a departure from the sounds of the previous projects for all the members who have now stepped into a harder hitting, darker, upbeat and more electronically driven indie-universe.

The music quickly caught the attention of former Morning Becomes Eclectic host, Nic Harcourt, who took the new band under his wing as a mentor and has begun championing them at his new radio home, KCSN in Los Angeles. Over the past 6 months Camera2 has been making music videos for every song on the album, in locations as broad and diverse as rural Pennsylvania, Martha’s Vineyard, San Francisco, and their hometown. In each video the band takes a back seat to a striking nine-year-old boy who walks, (or runs), the music through a series of twists, turns and interweaving themes.

The bands videos are part of a nine part project so there are more to come so keep 'em peeled and keep up to speed with this band, I think they have a refreshing sound that will appeal to many and will hopefully go on to make more breezy, delightful pieces of music like the three songs included here.

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love Camera2 here: Facebook

Official website here: Camera2

Listen to more here: Soundcloud

Buy the songs here: itunes

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Most - Auto Destructive Art. OUT MAY 17th.

The Most hail from Umeå in the north of Sweden.  Umeå is a centre of education, technical and medical research, they also produce some pretty fine musicians too as The Most testify with their debut long player "Auto-Destructive Art."

The band are not your typical Mod revival band as they have their music rooted in the 50's and 60's, predominantly, Jazz Soul, black R'n'B, Bluegrass, Rock and Delta Blues, which gives them a feeling of the original British invasion bands with a touch of the American garage bands added for good measure, which when blended together by the 5 members of the band produces something achingly brilliant.

The Most - Spiderman

"Auto-Destructive Art" was recorded using anologue technique which really gives the band a great vintage sound and captures the live experience on record that so many bands try to attain but often fail to do so, this album hits where it counts on all 12 tracks with no fillers or fodder in sight, which is a rare occurrence these days.

Sweden has produced some excellent bands over the years but I can whole heartedly say that The Most are one of my very favourite bands to come from these shores. I am absolutely positive that when they play Liverpool's famous Cavern Club as part of the International Pop Overthrow next week, they are going to win the hearts and ears of many new fans.  The band will be playing many dates across Europe this year to promote the album and I would strongly advise that you go along and see them if they come to a venue near you.

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love (very much) The Most here: Facebook

Find out more about The Most here: Wikipedia

Buy the album here: Copasetic Available May 17th.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Singles round up, featuring: Tree House Society, The World Service, Weird Mob and The See No Evils.

A really lovely jangly 3 track EP from Italian Power Poppers "Tree House Society" currently hanging out on "Melody Hill" and having a party as the songs on this single confirm.

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love Tree House Society here: Facebook

Stream and buy the single here: Bandcamp


The World Service are from Camden in London and offer up music in a similar vein to Interpol and The National, but in my opinion, much better.  Generation is the first single from the bands 2nd EP "Hideaway."

Listen to more tracks from World Service here: Soundcloud

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love The World Service here: Facebook


Is this a mini album or an Extended Play single?  Not really sure but I am sure that it is a really great piece of synth driven pop from married librarians Dave Gibson and Renee Reighart, music with a twist of 60's pop melodies and cool 80's New Wave, we like this, we like it alot!!!!

Sweet songs and stories from the warehouse.......

Stream and buy the album/EP here: Bandcamp

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love Weird Mob here: Facebook


Now, I don't know if these guys have a record out, but, they are just too good to ignore.  Hailing from Leeds, the band have only been together for a year and aprt from churning out some excellent songs, they have had support slots with The Pretty Things and The Fleshtones to name a few.  The bands blend of 60's garage tunes is absolutely awesome, take a listen and hopefully the band will keep me informed of any future releases.

Stream more here: Soundcloud

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love The See No Evils here: Facebook


Labradors - Growing Back. OUT NOW!

From Milano, Italy, Labradors are a power pop band with an enviable immediacy about them, their music sweeps you off your feet like you just stepped out into a hurricane, got swept off your feet and taken for a whirlwind ride!

Labradors fall on the rockier/punkier side of the power pop fence, not so much the jangly side of proceedings but the driven, edgier side, as per usual, take a listen and let the music do the talking!


Photo by Catarina Colombo.

Stream the complete album here: Rolling Stone

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love Labradors here: Facebook

Listen to more from the band here: Soundcloud Labradors

Buy the download here: itunes

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Great Affairs - 4" EP

After a brief hiatus from the blog due to affairs back home in blighty, I am finally getting back on track with the blog, and, what better way to start getting into the swing again than a feature on Nashvilles "The Great Affairs."

With an eclectic mix of influences ranging from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to Oasis, you know you are in for something special and this quartet don't fail to deliver and what they deliver is some very tasty, bouncy, driven power pop.

After 3 releases in as many years, 2009's "The Great Affairs", 2010's "Ricky took the wheels..", and 2011's "Happy Ender", The Great Affairs have recently completed work on the aptly-titled "4" EP, seven more tunes in the patented Tom Petty & Cheap Trick-inspired, rootsy pop-rock vein that has become their calling card.

In early 2012, having taken a brief hiatus in order to complete a long-gestating sophomore release, "The Kids Deserve Cable", from their power-pop side project fORMER, frontman Denny Smith, and lead guitarist Patrick Miller reconvened The Great Affairs, with a new rhythm section featuring Henry Go(Mink) on bass, and Kenny Wright(Bonepony) on drums and co-lead vocals.

With this shift in lineup, and fORMER now defunct, the decision was made to incorporate material from both bands into The Great Affairs' repertoire. In short order, the guitars got a little dirtier, the drums acquired some additional swing, and the band began to display a spring in its step that may not have been quite so evident in an earlier incarnation.

With "4", the band have set aside some of the acoustic-driven tendencies of their previous outings, relying instead on a slightly heavier guitar sound, with splashes of Hammond organ, piano, and percussion throughout to assist in the further realization this new sonic ambition. The introduction of Wright's bluesier vocal stylings on several tracks serves as a perfect counterpoint to Smith's breathier rasp, giving the band some new firepower in that department as well.

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love The Great Affairs here: Facebook

More info here:
and here: