Album Of The Year?

Yes it’s that time again……and with it being a very busy year I thought i’d better prepare the long-list early on… in no particular order the candidates for this years “Best Of…..” not jazz albums… I’ll whittle it down to a top ten in due course, and I may well include some other ones I have missed and some things in the pipeline which look like they make the list.

There are a couple of very strong front-runners at the moment and after that it all gets a bit difficult…………

  • The Seven Twenty – The Seven Twenty
  • Niche – Heading East
  • Heroin In Tahiti – Sun and Violence
  • Dilly Dally – Sore
  • The Holy Soul – Fortean Times
  • Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek
  • The Lancashire Hustlers – What Made Him Run
  • Moff Skellington – Scribnalls
  • Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Just Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Think
  • Robert Forster – Songs To Play
  • Bouquet of Dead Crows – Of The Night
  • Dave Graney – Once I Loved The Oceans Roar
  • Monkeys In Love – Take The Biscuit
  • Corrections House – Know How To Carry A Wip
  • Esmerine – Lost Voices
  • Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain
  • Moff Skellington – The Corkscrew Tongue
  • Liberez – All Tense Now Lax
  • Vienna Ditto – Circle
  • JD Meatyard – Taking The Asylum
  • Ken Mode – Success
  • Dead to Dying World – Litany
  • Myrkur – M
  • The Creeping Ivies – Your New Favourite Garage Band
  • Ought – Sun Coming Down
  • Big Brave – Au De La
  • The Happy Fallen – Lost and Found
  • Cryin’ Queerwolf – Diva
  • Alif – Aynama -Rtama
  • Dave Graney ‘n’ The Coral Snakes – Night of the Wolverine  (Expanded)
  • ZX+ Don’t Drink The Water
  • Author & Punisher -Melk En Honing
  • Dave Graney & the mistLY – Play mistLY for me – live recordings vol 1
  • Flies On You – Etcetera
  • Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
  • The Go-Betweens – G stands for Go-Betweens : Volume One 1978-1984 (yes I know it’s a box set but it’s too good to ignore)
  • Moff Skellington – The Corduroy Bridge
  • The Fall – Sub Lingual Tablet
  • Minimi Deutsch – Minimi Deutsch
  • Anna Von Hauswolff – The Miraculous

New Glasgow Sounds

The Creeping Ivies – Your New Favourite Garage Band

The Deadline Shakes – Zealots

Andrew R. Burns  & The Tropicanas – Delaydeez

Flowers in The Dustbin

October and November sees the release of three excellent collections from the highly regarded Glasgow based Flowers In The Dustbin label.

From the stripped back rock and roll garage sound of the refreshingly retro The Creeping Ivies, through the delicate pop harmonies of tunesmiths The Deadline Shakes to the blissed out reverb surf guitars of the “just about holding it together before collapsing” sound of Andrew R Burns & The Tropicanas you will find wonderfully inventive music, high production values, and fun.


The “Ivies” present thirteen slabs of punky rock and roll in the spirit of The Cramps, Rev Horton Heat, Tav Falco & Alex Chilton. Building on the excellent “The Witch House” EP the album offers a medley of an instantly recognisable styles delivered with  joyous abandon. Led by vocalist/guitarist Becca Murray, they formed in 2011 and have recorded two pervious albums . Debut ‘Stay Wild’ was released on vinyl via US label Dead Beat Records which was followed up a year later with the full length ‘Ghost World’. Following a line-up change and move to Glasgow the band have reached a creative peak with this new collection.

The Deadline Shakes have been releasing a series of high quality pop singles recently and the November release of album Zealots cements their deserved critical acclaim to date. There is a danger with pop bands that they tend to follow trends and absorb what’s going on around them and decompose into an amorphous pallid mass. This band operate on their own terms acting alone to create an amalgam of the best of UK pop from the last 60 years. Comparisons with The Beatles, CSNY, The Beach Boys, Belle and Sebastien and many others have been made, this is fair enought as the band have absorbed the best of those acts and created their own style. Folk-rock is an overused genre tag used these, and it has been applied to this band, it most definitely should not be, they have more in common with The Bee-Gees and Queen than Fairport Convention or some of the more recently industry stoked beardy nonsense. This is quality music with very strong production, sometimes epic in scale, and never dull.

Alansmithee off-shots Andrew R Burns & The Tropicanas present that wonderfully loose pop sound that one associates with The Nectarine No 9 and other Davey Henderson projects.   The band describe their music as “tropical dreamslop… lazy unpolished, reverb laden tunes.”  That’s fair enough, it feels as though it’s about to collapse into the evening sunset, it’s relaxed, moody and rich. Even the song titles sound like something Henderson would have dreamed up,  “Pop Slop-It” for example.  There’s a touch of Orange Juice/Edwyn with the spidery guitar and akimbo chord changes and surf feel. Most enjoyable.

Fascinating Things : Issue 15

Magic Bullet Records are releasing  ” Deathkamp Ov The Skull + Funeral Embrace” from West Coast hardcore nihilists, (The Infamous) Gehenna, collecting both of the outfit’s two latest 7” titles in convenient CD and digital formats.

The bands healthy back catalogue of sixteen releases can be found on Bandcamp and you can follow them on Facebook.


Neurosis has just announced the band’s plans to celebrate three full decades together with their fans on two continents in early 2016, including shows in their native Bay Area and at Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands. Additionally, the band will release deluxe vinyl reissues of two of their most revered and long out-of-print titles; “Through Silver In Blood” and “Times Of Grace”.
Album “Nº3” from Christina Vantzou is the result of a two-year process of composing, arranging, rearranging, experimenting, and melding classical instruments with synths and electronics. Recorded in Belgium with a 15-piece ensemble of strings, horns, woodwinds and micro-choir, the tracks vacillate between orchestral, ambient soundscapes and more structured works that the composer refers to as “pillars.” The internal core of the record, however, is unwavering. All tracks head in the direction of otherworldly drones surrounded by soft, subtle and sometimes intense veils or points.The structured tracks mark a new direction for Vantzou. Whereas 100% of the music on Nº1 and Nº2 was composed without time structure or steady click, the pillars on Nº3 adhere to a solid mathematical scheme. Perhaps Vantzou’s day job as a maths teacher is starting to have an influence.Nº3’s virtual instruments and voice samples hearken back to Vantzou’s time with The Dead Texan, specifically tracks like “Aegina Arlines” and “When I see scissors I cannot help but think of you”. The synths on Nº3 were given special attention and were recorded over a two week period using a DX7, Yamaha CS20, Roland Juno-6, and a selection of eurorack modular synths, making Nº3 very much a hybrid record, both symphonic and synth-based.
The album is released on Kranky on October 3rd.
Following hot on the heels of ‘The Witch House’ EP Flowers In the Dustbin have announced that this Halloween that they will  be releasing a new compilation album from The Creeping Ivies – ‘Your New Favourite Garage Band’. The album features 13 single, ep and album tracks with many appearing on cd for the first time. Here are some tasters

The album is available to preorder on Bandcamp with an immediate download of 4 tracks – ‘The Witch House’ plus all 3 tracks from the Ghost Train ep.  Singles featured on the compilation include ‘What Would Joey Ramone Do?’ and ‘Spinning’.

The album is out Saturday 31st October, available on cd and digital from Amazon, itunes, online stores worldwide and selected record shops via Scottish label Flowers In The Dustbin.


Fascinating Things : Issue 08

With little or no deference to good taste we’ll kick off this time around with a new album from In Defence called “Don’ t Fuck With The Dungeon Master”.  Hailing from Minneapolis, the band aims to meld the styles of Thrash, Hardcore, Punk, and Metal. They have been an underground favourite since 2006. Described as “Witty and satirical, Serious and political”, In Defence seem to have their tongues in their collective cheeks for this new album which was released independently on June 16th.

IN DEFENCE - cover

Having formed as a more straightforward hardcore act in 2006, the quartet’s volatile brew quickly developed into more of a thrash-inspired crossover attack, the sound they’ve dominated in the studio and live ever since. While steadily pushing for positive societal change and unity, their methodology is heavily party and satire-infiltrated versus taking a preacher’s stance with their views.  The new release melds terrace chant punk with metal guitars to create an enjoyable 33 minutes of heavy fun. Get it here.

Previous releases are available on Bandcamp.

In Defence COOOLD

And onto The Oxford Coma, who have a new release “Paris Is Mine” via Bandcamp out on August 7th.

Originally called “The Pulls”, a recent change of direction resulted in a new cover layout and title for the album.  Through several line-up alterations and sporadic expansions, the usual three-piece of bass, guitar and drums at times expands for live shows to include a second drummer. This time the tactic was applied in the studio setting giving a fuller sound.

Utilizing both a former and current percussionist, and continuing their self-described recording “de-evolution” by continuing to opt for rawer, live, DIY productions with each release has resulted in their most brutal material to date.

the oxford coma

Bent on combining the weirdness and freshness of improvisation with the intensity and honesty of good metal and the lasting impact of innovative rock, the new album was produced with minimal production, the vocals all in one take in order to preserve a natural feel.

Recorded, engineered, mixed, mastered by Jalipaz at Audioconfusion in Mesa, Arizona, “Paris Is Mine” delivers forty minutes of cleverly constructed hard rock, as perplexing as it is enthralling, closing out with an improvised jam and a drop-tuned cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”. Sometimes they move into impressive heavy blues rock mode and get quite funky.

“Paris Is Mine” is independently released in digital on August 11th, with a limited physical format to follow.

The ever busy Public Service Broadcasting release a new single from “The Race For Space” album in live favourite “The Other Side”. Whilst it has been gratifying to see the growing popularity of the band I do wonder where they are going to go next musically.

I featured The Creeping Ivies a couple of weeks back, and their new three track EP “The Witch House”, they’ve released a video to accompany the release. Out on August 16th.

The Marks Cartel release their brand new single ‘Take Me Home’ ,produced by Lee House,  their first release since signing to End Of The Trail Records. Released on 24th July 2015 the single is quantum leap forwards for the Swansea band with a sound that is unashamedly commercial. The band areare Matt Turner (vocals & guitar), Kristian Tabram (guitar & vocals), Rhodri Allcock (bassist & vocals) and Emyr Lewis (drums). They formed in 2013 in the tiny Welsh village of Cwmllynfell and took their name from the notorious Welsh cultural icon and his ‘organisation’.

A triumph of dark and protean North American black metal, Predatory Lights and Vorde join forces for a 38 minute excursion into the abyss that solidifies both acts’ ascendancy of contemporary black metal. Following their acclaimed debut EP, the former expands upon their first effort and offers 2 tracks of stygian black metal steeped in murk and gloom. For their side, Vorde contribute a twisting mass of ritual black metal, showcasing an original atmosphere that can only be called their own, improving upon their already stellar 2014 debut.

Psychedelic doom purveyors, Dark Buddha Rising, will be releasing their fifth studio album, “Inversum”, on 25th September, their first release on Neurot Recordings.

The album follows their 2014 European tour with Mr. Peter Hayden, with the Finnish black psychedelic doom 6-piece deservedly garnering further recognition as masters of the art of the hypnotic and dark sonics, which they have been honing for the past 8 years since their inception.

Inversum swallows the listener into an introspective realm of dark psychedelia, menacing mysticism and weighty, trudging riffs.

“Inversum” is the debut of the third line-up of Dark Buddha Rising. It acts as an initiation for the new members V. Vatanen (guitar, vocals), J. Saarivuori (keyboards) and M. Neuman (vocals). The album is released in September.


Canadian’s In Flight Safety have a new single out on July 24th via Conehead UK.  Called “Destroy” is it  taken from the bands third album “Conversationalist”, released back end of 2014, this is the bands second official single. Comparisons to Foals and Interpol have never been far away from this record which has been synced recently on Vampire Diaries and The Office US. Note the appearance of former WWE superstar The Edge at the end of the video……for the benefit of those with flash photography.

Manchester legends The Things have an EP launch at Tiger Lounge on July 25th, it’s free entry and Bury’s The Disappeared are supporting. The new EP features former Buzzcocks drummer John Maher who was part of the original line-up.


Ex Death to the Strange man John Lowndes has a new release under the Patchwork Rattlebag name via Bandcamp, an interesting change musically for John, who is better known for his guitar work,

Fascinating Things : Issue 02

More new music things that have come my way over the last week – many of these can be heard on forthcoming podcasts:

Coquin Migale are getting a lot of fuss made about them. Their second release from the recent Feel EP is called “Socotra”, which after a wistful, nearly disconcerting, skinny indie kids start, gets into a full blown anthemic, bathed in reverb, little nugget, that becomes a little bit rock and roll, and has some very good guitar work. Release is scheduled for 27th July.

Stockholm’s Jenny Hansen releases her debut single “Wanderer” on 6th July, a nice slice of quirky pop with a jazzy prog tinge, and  with a decent voice as well, worth investigating.

The Creeping Ivies are a 3 piece Rock N Roll band based in Glasgow. Led by vocalist/guitarist Becca Murray, they formed in 2011 and have recorded two albums to date. Debut ‘Stay Wild’ was released on vinyl via US label Dead Beat Records which was followed up a year later with the full length ‘Ghost World’. They have supported notable acts such as Viv Albertine, Vic Godard & Subway Sect, Bob Log III , The Primevals , played headline shows in Scotland and London and have received airplay all over the world. They have a new 3 track ep, ‘The Witch House, out on 16th August  on Flowers In The Dustbin.  The lead track is a groovy little primal rock ‘n’ roller in the spirit of The Cramps.  Nice!

Hull five piece The Talks are off on tour – more info can be found here

Minneapolis, Minnesota’s scathing grind trio, Ambassador Gun, are in top form, unloading ten new tracks in just over twenty-six minutes on their new one. While the band’s approach is as devastating slick and caustic as ever, incredibly infectious grooves on Tomb of Broken Sleep make themselves as present as a squadron of B-52 bombers paying you a visit with full payloads. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recording (Blue Ox, Guzzlemug, Nerves) in Minneapolis, Tomb Of Broken Sleep exemplifies them as band that can fearlessly write songs that are both ferocious and catchy. Set for independent release this Summer,Tomb Of Broken Sleep will be released digitally via Bandcamp on July 15th, 2015, with physical versions to follow by the end of Summer. Watch out for tracks from it on Sonic Attack during the week of release.


.”So you say this is your final chance” …the opening line of Shark Tape’s ‘Marathon’ speaks of the desperation of a band ready to take off. Shark Tape, a three piece rock band from Philadelphia are Stephen Lorek, Niles Weiss and Dylan Mulcahy. Active on Philadelphia’s music scene since 2007 under various project names, they evolved into Shark Tape and 2012 saw the release two EPs, the self titled ‘Shark Tape’ and ‘Eyes On You’ which gained considerable airplay from East Coast radio stations and went on to be selected as one of WXPN’s top records of the year. Channeling influences from several of rock’s greatest eras, each Shark Tape song carries the band’s own unique sound with subtle references to the likes of The Replacements, Big Star, The Smiths and Cheap Trick. Having garnered a steady and loyal following that continues to grow organically in their hometown, Shark Tape will be touring later this year, looking to replicate the well attended and vibrant shows they’re known for in and around Philadelphia. In late 2013, the band teamed up with renowned engineer Jeff Ziegler (Kurt Vile, War On Drugs) to begin production on the band’s debut album ‘Marathon’. With a huge list of inspirations that includes adventure, struggle, desperation, a quest for enlightenment, Dionysus and Apollo, faint glimpses of the future, destiny vs choice, the search for a way to travel the universe and a desire to walk into the horizon so the sun never sets, it’s fair to say that Marathon is one of the most exciting and intriguing debuts to come out of Philadephia in recent years.

Milton Star follow their hugely successful double A side record ‘Salvation’ and ‘Sorryville’ with the release of their new single ‘Things Fall Apart’. The track is another example of duo Alan Wyllie and Graeme Currie’s unerring ability to create wonderfully atmospheric stories about love, loss and regret framed in beautifully structured melodies and carried by an expansive tremolo wall of sound and a dark soul.

Austrian psychedelic artist Juleah is back with a  new album, Melt Inside The Sun. For lovers of 60s psych with a modern twist. Melt Inside The Sun is available in limited edition vinyl, CD and Download – more info on the Bandcamp page.

…and finally for this issue

Released on June 29th 2015, “From A Zafira Comfort” is the second trailer single taken from “Sunny Day Machine”, the forthcoming debut album by St.Christopher Medal, which is due out on Stereogram Recordings on August 10th . At only two minutes long, it’s a short but sweet burst of crunching, melodic Alt Country/Americana guitar pop. It’s energy comes from long friendship; from deep love of music; from C86 to the classic country rock of The Stones and the Flying Burrito Brothers. None of it dimmed for even a moment. Teenage Fanclub. The Hold Steady. Dylan. It’s all there. In the words of singer and chief songwriter Ali Mathieson: “This is all completely true. Sometimes something happens. Some mad alignment of the planets, and all of the children are all asleep at the same time. Then we can get some proper fighting done! This is an apology song (one of many) and although it sounds pretty unlikely now, when I first wrote this it was rocking a kind of Calypso/Merengue, West-Indian sort of vibe. Funny how that sort of thing just suddenly happens like that.”

St. Christopher Medal