Archives for posts with tag: 12 string guitar

Aiofe Nessa Frances

This Psychedelic Sunday treat is from the debut album by Irish songwriter and musician Aoife Nessa Frances “Land of No Junction”. The song is “Libra” and the 12 string guitar playing wraps the enigmatic lyrics in a glorious and timeless jangling psych-folk-rock setting.

I came across this album in Uncut Magazine as Album of the Month. While PopLib is usually reserved for the less celebrated sounds of the underground, the interview with Aoife Nessa Frances accompanying the review contained references to PopLib favourites Maria Somerville, The Clientele, and Broadcast. So I had to check the album out. And then buy it.

Although taking a different approach and more mainstream (but not over-polished) production, the album evokes some of the same strange wooziness of Somerville’s “All My People” and also captures something of that autumnal wistfulness of The Clientele.¬† There’s an exploratory edge to the arrangements that sees combinations of instruments full of wobbly character (mellotron, old analogue drum machines) with acoustic and electric guitars and a free-wheeling rhythm section.

Best of all is that while lots of the elements of the album might sound familiar – nostalgic even – this sounds quite unique and of its own world at the same time, and an absorbing listen.



East Village

East Village are described as “one of the great lost bands”. As I had somehow managed to never hear them, or even hear of them, despite obsessive consumption of every jangling guitar pop artifact from the 1980s and 1990s, including some on labels East Village were on, I can attest to them being “lost” to my ears at least until now. Here’s “Strawberry Window” from their recently re-issued singles compilation “Hotrod Hotel”

East Village sound bolder than many of the ‘c86’ sound bands they are associated with, more American or Australian even, the mix of 6 & 12-string acoustic and electric guitars more sparkling than merely jangling. “Strawberry Window” and the other songs on “Hotrod Hotel” have more in common with the 1980s US ‘Paisley Pop’ movement (I’m thinking the peerless Windbreakers or Rain Parade here) and Australia’s The Go-Betweens.

Although I hadn’t heard East Village prior to this release I had heard more recent music by songwriter, guitarist, vocalist Paul Kelly. He teamed up with Debsy Wykes of Dolly Mixture as Birdie in the late 1990s and everything I have heard by Birdie is wonderful (and also hard to track down… which is all part of the adventure). “Deborah Wykes and Paul Kelly met whilst taking sabbaticals as members of St. Etienne’s band in 1994. Both had been writing their own songs and discovering a mutual love of The Shangri-Las and Love’s “Forever Changes”, formed their own band, BIRDIE.” (Birdie on Discogs) [There’s more on the East Village/ St Etienne/ Birdie overlaps on the Birdie page on Elefant Records website]

“Hotrod Hotel” is a perfect introduction to East Village, and an easy recommendation – and risk-free acquisition – for anyone who counts The Go-Betweens, Windbreakers, or Shack among their favourite bands. The LP release from Slumberland Records¬†looks glorious too, packed full of sleeve notes and photos. It is also available from UK mail-order specialists Norman Records if the US Postal prices give you heart palpitations.

MelenasMelenas are a guitar/ bass/ keyboards/drums band from Pamplona, Spain and “Mentiras” (which translates as “Lies”) is from their fabulous self-titled debut album of jangling psychedelic garage rock which is well worth exploring in detail… and then buying.

While some will hear the spirit of Look Blue Go Purple in that robustly rhythmic guitar strum, it reminds me more of the perpetual nervousness of The Feelies’ guitar sound. In recent years the only other band I can recall to evoke those same touchstones so well was Veronica Falls, who also shared a fondness for driving songs along with a heavy floor tom beat as Melenas do.

However, the songs here are also just as likely to evoke the spirit of the classic late 1960’s era of proto-psych-pop garage-rock fuzz, jangle and melody (as compiled on the “Pebbles” and “Nuggets” LP series) as they are any possible ’80’s influence. There’s a lot going on; from simple propulsive drums to a solid mesh of rapidly strummed 12 string guitar, soaring vocal melodies with layered backing vocals and a winning way with keyboard flourishes providing the sonic icing on Melenas’ psychedelic pop-tart.


DSC06137“Cans” is a slice of neo-psychedelic fuzz & jangle guitar pop from a new Auckland band called Water. It’s from an album/ mini-album called “Enjoy” and that’s exactly what you ought to do with this song:

“Cans” here, with it’s 12-string jangle and sweet fuzz lead guitar, is a winning mix of psychedelic guitar pop weirdness that evokes memories of The Seeds. It wouldn’t have sounded out of place as a song from a Glasgow band on Creation Records in the late eighties. Apart from the NZ accent which makes you think of The Chills, who also had one album released on Creation Records and Martin Phillipps listened to The Seeds, so that all makes perfect circular sense.

Enjoy Water.

Blank Realm

Blank Realm

Day 14 was almost not going to happen… but I’ve pulled myself back from the brink & decided to carry on with this Unofficial Aussie Music Month trawl of trans-Tasman subculture underground pop.

Today let’s get weird & colourful with Blank Realm and ‘Falling Down the Stairs’.

Blank Realm are from Brisbane and (yet) another great band on Bedroom Suck Records. The band has a strong family connection, with siblings Daniel Spencer (drum & vocal), Sarah Spencer (synth & vocal) and Luke Spencer (bass), joined by Luke Walsh on guitar (& production).

Nick at Red Eye Records in Sydney recommended them to me and their latest album ‘Grassed Inn’ was sold to me within about the first 30 seconds of colourful jangling 12-string guitar garage-psych rock. As with so many young Aussie guitar bands at the moment there seems to be a hint of The Clean here in the ‘Tally-Ho!’ style organ on this track in particular and also a Dylan-esque shout of vocals.

The album is great. It is big, colourful, noisy and lush but also quite dark and menacing psych-rock with just enough feral psych weirdness to keep it (really) interesting.