Archives for posts with tag: guitar pop

Autumn London“We try to articulate that change in the air that happens when autumn comes. But it’s not a verbal thing; you can’t really express it properly with words. You can express it with music and atmosphere.” Alasdair MacLean – The Clientele

The Clientele are one of my favourite bands. Although I learned the other day they are in fact an art project rather than a band in the traditional rock and roll sense of the word. I thought they had split up several years ago after releasing “Bonfires on the Heath” (2009).

But they’ve found their way back from making a living as normal people in the real world, parenthood, gardening in suburban London allotments, and all that stuff, to make another album. “Music for the Age of Miracles” is out on 22 September and here’s “Everyone You Meet” from it:

Like everything The Clientele have done there’s an autumnal element to this song, which augers well for the new album. Autumn features a lot in the songs and the lyrics.

The Clientele has always seemed to me to be like a musical way of representing personal experience and feelings about the natural and human environment, ghostly imagery of landscape paintings, old photographs, literature and poetry, in the form of contemporary pop songs.

Here’s what songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Alasdair MacLean had to say about The Clientele in a 2015 interview  in answer to a question about refining the sound of The Clientele over 5 albums, which some listeners may view as rehashing old songs:

“I think that I completely understand why people would say that about The Clientele, as they’re viewing us in 2015 as a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. The kind of rock band that has to focus on reinvention, this Miles Davis or Picasso styled reinvention. But in 2015, Rock ‘n’ Roll bands don’t mean anything and The Clientele isn’t one; they’re an art project. Again I know that sounds aggressively pretentious.

What it is it’s a refinement of a certain idea and it’s something that’s lasted a couple of decades and a lot of people have contributed to it. So you shouldn’t expect a Kid A from us or a Screamadelica. That’s all bullshit now anyway. I don’t think it matters now, I don’t think it has any meaning anymore. What we’re doing is just rumbling on with this art project that’s been going on since the ’90s.

Our whole aim and our whole methodology is separate from what they’re looking at, what their expectations are. We don’t have that idea of the difficult third album, that’s foreign to what we do.

When The Clientele stopped making music, around Bonfires on the Heath, it was because I felt like it had gone out of control. It had gone from being this interesting, heartbreaking art-project to starting to threaten to sound like a normal band and I really didn’t want to be a part of that, so we stopped it. That was just one of the many reasons.

For me it has to not sound like a normal band, it has to go back to the vividness and the inspiration of before. And actually what we’ve done does sound like we have that. So as long as we carry on having that, we’ll carry on and make another record. If not, we’ve made five records and five records is enough for any band really. Unless you’re Robert Wyatt.”

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SachetIt’s been a while since we checked in on Sydney underground pop label Strange Pursuits. Turns out there’s a log jam of snappy punk-edged melodic garage-pop waiting for our ears. Here’s the thrilling staccato blast of Sachet with “Melted Wires”:

It says “First ‘single’ from debut LP ‘Portion Control’ by Sydney outfit Sachet. LP due August 2017 on Strange Pursuits.”  On the strength of “Melted Wires” that Sachet LP will be top of the PopLib shopping list come August.

Sachet are Lani Crooks and Sam Wilkinson of Day Ravies along with Nick Webb and Chris Anstis. “Melted Wires” continues in a similar vein to the compulsively melodic earworm guitar-pop template perfected by Day Ravies on their fabulous “Liminal Zones” album, but now stripped back to barking guitar, sparse keyboard, crunching drums and voices.

It’s cracking stuff – the guitar in the verses evokes the spirit of Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson and the song charges along with the feral energy of an early Fall 7″ with Crooks delivering a crisp and threatening vocal.

Perfect as all that sounds, the chorus flips the song into lush melodic pop with layered vocal harmonies. Add in an instrumental bridge pulling post-punk shapes and angles, and you’ve got the kind of inventive bittersweet garage-pop genius which makes you hit ‘repeat’ again and again. Can’t wait to hear more from Sachet.

 

 

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

Day 12 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness is a track from the just-released debut album “Morningside” by Fazerdaze. Here’s “Friends”

“Friends” takes the Fazerdaze template of brilliantly simple ingredients: layering guitar melody over a bass-line, and adding introspective lyrics. What happens next is uncharacteristic but exhilarating; engaging hyper-drive with a sonic chorus blast of fuzz guitar and soaring melody.

That kind of 1, 2 punch from quiet to euphoric loud with lashings of melody is something late 1980s/ early 1990s Flying Nun Records label-mates The JPS Experience used to excel at too. In fact “Friends” would fit comfortably among the songs on their final album “Bleeding Star”.

PopLib tends to champion the underdog and you’d have to be hiding under a rock to not have heard a Fazerdaze song or seen an online article or review about the Auckland musician’s debut and current UK tour, such is the interest in the debut album. So this post is less about discovery of an under-appreciated musician as celebrating the achievement of someone championed here for the past 3 years.

PopLib first featured Fazerdaze back in 2014 when the first EP had it’s initial hand-made CD-R format release. It was clear right from the start that Amelia Murray’s low-key and personal music made a connection with listeners. By staying grounded, trusting her instincts to keep things understated, and focus on self-recording her perfect introspective guitar-pop, she’s created a wonderful first album that retains the essence of that first EP.

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

wurldseries_2016_ben-woodsChristchurch guitar-botherers Wurld Series are back with a full-length album called “Air Goofy”, fittingly available on cassette. Here’s the second song “Rip KF” for you:

It’s ‘fittingly’ on cassette because it was recorded on cassette, via a Tascam 424 4-track cassette recorder, staple of a generation of bedroom DIY artists in previous decades, and it seems again today.

As we’ve heard from previous tunes and EPs and songs like “Orkly Kid” and “Rabbit” which are both included here, the spirit of early rough-genius Pavement is undeniably strong in Wurld Series at times – twisting fuzzed out guitars and stream of unconscious life lyrical flights.  But so is the spirit of the 3-Ds from closer to home, who arguably influenced Pavement with their eccentric lead guitar shapes and angles atop lurching fuzzed out guitar skronk-pop.

If “Rip KF” – complete with shared lead vocal between guitarist/ vocalist Luke Towart and guest vocalist Tyne Gordon – represents the more middle-of-a-rough-road-to-nowhere melodic guitar pop side of “Air Goofy” then there’s much variety on either side of that median. Check out the thrilling “LT’s Struggle” for an alternative example.

Another great addition to both the Wurld Series and the Melted Ice Cream label catalogues. Don’t just take PopLib’s word for it. UK music blog Did Not Chart has also been singing the praises of this rough diamond.

 

 

the-sunday-leagueThis may well be my favourite song from the other* Hobart music compilation called “7000 – The Pick of Hobart Independent bands”. And “Monday” is a perfect song for a Monday naturally. Even though Monday in NZ is still a Sunday in some parts of the world, it’s still a perfect song because it’s by The Sunday League.

The Sunday League take me back to the likes of The CannanesThe Lucksmiths and The Steinbecks; all chiming perfect hollow-body electric guitars, earnest melodic vocals and lyrics reflecting on the everyday things of existence in suburban Australia. Like rubbish collection day and overgrown Pittosporum trees.

It’s music so familiar you’d think you should have heard enough of it already. And yet, something like this can breeze along, with those ringing guitar notes, quivering Australian voice and honest band-in-a-room recording, and it’s just perfect for dreaming and escaping to imagine watching the bin collectors work their way down a tree-lined street you’ve never been to, in Hobart, Tasmania, postcode 7000.

* check out the “Community 4” Hobart music compilation on bandcamp for more Tasmanian underground pop goodness.

Wurldseries_2016_Ben Woods.jpgWurld Series have an “Anthology” out on Portland, US tape label Voyager Golden Records. Hard to pick just one song from an absolutely stellar collection of DIY recorded guitar pop, but “Shirley in the Sun” here caught the ear with its homespun psychedelia.

“Anthology” is a cassette release. “Professionally dubbed” it says proudly, as if to differentiate itself from the home taping which was killing the music industry in the 1980s. (That’s a joke by the way. Anyone who made or shared cassette tapes in the 1980s knows this was how the music you didn’t hear on radio stations was shared around and discovered, and we cassette makers and sharers also hoovered up 7″ singles 12″ EPs and LPs like they were going out of fashion. Which they did by the mid 1990s. But they are back now. As are cassettes. It’s a long story.)

“Anthology”  ticks all the boxes for fans of lo-fi home-recorded pop, and triangulates its sound roughly within reference points like Pavement, Guided By Voices and The Clean. Of course, it’s not that simple and the undercurrent I hear most strongly here is a very NZ (or maybe Australasian) take on British psychedelic pop. So there’s a bit of The Kinks and The Who and even more obscure psych-nuggets. Have a listen and see what you reckon.

While we are on the subject of possible influences or inspirations, Wurld Series have recently thought about their Top 5 NZ songs for The Wireless. I can’t fault their selection or what they say about one of their picks – “Own Two Feet” by The Jean Paul Sartre Experience.

Oh, here’s a video for another song from the album. It’s called “Rabbit”:

doubleu-quit-bandcamp“Quit” is the title of a fine 6 song EP from mysterious Auckland musician Doubleu. Here’s the opening track “Hero”:

Next track “Red” is equally impressive in its skillful minimal guitar layering, the subtle oddness of the backing sounds, and hushed melodic vocals. And the title track “Quit” after that. And… each following track, so stick around for the whole 12 minutes of this EP thanks.

It’s ALL pretty damned beautiful in a very understated and uncertain way, as if Doubleu doesn’t quite have the self-belief that these songs are in fact just right.

The last track “Words” offers a slightly different palette of sounds. The same shy, delicate and restrained songcraft but with more of an electronic sampled backing and playful sonic weirdness going on.

Everything about this 6 track EP by the mysterious Doubleu is intriguing. In it’s own quiet bedroom-pop-symphonies-in-miniature style, it’s a bit special. Don’t quit please.