= October 2018 =  
 
 
 Luluc
 The Cyrillic Typewriter
 The Purrs
 Paul Roland
 Picturebox
 Joel Cahen
 The Total Rejection
 Michael Nesmith
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

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LULUC – SCULPTOR

(LP/CD/DL on Sub Pop Records)

 

Luluc, the Australian folk duo Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett, now stationed in Brooklyn, exist to put you into a better place.  That’s not to say their third album Sculptor is made up of easy listening music and exudes nothing but sunshine.  Their songs can contain biting commentary and wit.  And while the term “folk duo” conjures up images of an acoustic guitar and a microphone, Randell and Hassett go much further, filling out the instrumentation with tasteful sonic touches and a little help from some well-known friends.  Luluc has a great ear for melody.  Randell’s voice has a soothing quality and she combines her subjects between literate descriptions from everyday life and the long game of what makes us human, and how we go about choosing our paths.

 

Lead-off track “Spring” is flat-out gorgeous.  With careful, delicately layered harmonies, the listener is instantly carried away into another space, one of relaxing ease and warmth.  The lyrics are from the Japanese poem “Spring Days and Blossom” by Ise, and its themes of natural beauty, rebirth and spring’s impermanence resonate long after the song ends.  It’s the only track on the album with such rich harmonies, and one wishes Luluc would do it again.

 

“Heist” is a lyrical cousin to Bob Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” with a “some friend you are” theme, and a production which starts small and builds and swells.  “Kids,” with Aaron Dessner of The National guesting, follows two recurring themes on Sculptor, the first of Randell singing to an adolescent.  Could be a parent singing to a rebellious child, or Randell singing to her teenage self.  The other sub-theme is of both the invisible barriers we erect and the escape mechanisms we create to handle those whom we feel are out to harm us.  It features an exchange I love, “The teacher who cries ‘why don’t you come talk to me?  You’ve got such a big chip on your shoulder.’ ‘No that’s my armor till I’m older.’”

 

“Cambridge” uses another Luluc-ism, that of jumping unexpectedly between settings, as it again explores the topic of the paths we choose to follow, sometimes the same between friends, sometimes diverging.  “Me and Jasper” is a “screw ‘em, we’ve got each other” sentiment, with a mellow guitar solo by J. Mascis (yes, he does those, too).

 

“Genius” has a similar lyrical theme to Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock,” only in second person instead of first, of the artist cloistered away, with a superiority complex about his art.  I like drummer Jim White’s scattershot intro to signify the title character’s deliberate choice to stay out-of-step with the world.  It also features the only lyrics I’ve ever heard where the subject fires a staple gun.

 

“Moon Girl” is about as beautiful a song as you’ll find, in both words and melody.  It features Hassett’s lovely guitar picking, with lush, distant soundscapes, and Randell’s soothing vocals.  She returns to singing to a young girl, perhaps someone she knows, perhaps to herself back in time.  She encourages her to get out and explore and live, and then return home safely, imparting the wisdom: “In your waking hours you’ll find/some will be good, some won’t be kind/In their way, they both hold gifts for you.”

 

In the closing title track “Sculptor,” Randell starts the story, her mind wandering on a plane flight, wondering if the plane went down whether the flight attendants’ would still retain their perfect hair and makeup.  This transitions to her love of her musical art - “…the most beautiful serene sculpture my hands could make, could trace, could make…”  When she reaches this point, her voice, for most of the album up to this point a low alto or contralto, unexpectedly reaches several octaves higher.  It’s a heart-stopping moment of vulnerability and beauty.  Just as the gorgeous opening track stuns with its not-repeated harmonies, this one leaves the listener in awe of its vocal beauty.

 

Sculptor is marked by its gentle serenity, tender melodies, and touchingly thoughtful lyrics.  Luluc has brought us a gift which will endure for many years to come, an album not to be missed.

 

(Mark Feingold)

 


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THE CYRILLIC TYPEWRITER - WATER OVER GLASS

(LP from https://jazrecords.com/)

The Cyrillic Typewriter is the work of Jason Zumpano, who with the help of like-minded friends/musicians, creates beautiful, ambient, experimental music that is always interesting and packed with emotion. These quality are overflowing on this, his latest creation, a 8 track collection that shimmers and floats from the speakers oozing with class.

     Taking that shimmer and amplifying it, “Dreamed Maze” is a wonderful piece of electronic sound that, well, shimmers wonderfully, a double bass adding warmth to the tune, simple melodies that uplift and satisfy the soul.  On, “Blue Thread” an aching chord adds emotion whilst a drifting sax creates colour and movement to the music, all you have to do is listen.

    Like a watercolour drone, “Melt” is the wave of long grass in a summers breeze, sea salt in the air, a hint of autumn, the sound barely raised from a softly spoken whisper the saxophone, courtesy of John Spiby, again adding gentle movement as the drone swells and recedes creating a track that is timeless and hypnotic. Rounding of the first side, “Night In Grey” maintains the drone, the chords having a seventies Tangerine Dream feel to them whilst the saxophone dances a strange dance amongst the waves of sound, the whole thing ending far too soon.

   Over on side two, the sax and slow waves of sound continue to dominate with “The Reveller” sounding like Fripp and Eno, whilst “The Double O” allows soft guitar notes to drift through the soundscape, a blissed out sax sounding like Didiere Malherbe in very mellow mode. As the track advances time begins to decay, its hypnotic power dissolving thought until it suddenly ceases. No worries though as “Stop the River” follows the same path, a twinkling sequence of notes leading on again until the sweet piano of “Nothing Changed” allows re-entry into a world more relaxed and positive.

      If you are a fan of ambient drones that are gently textural and definitely psychedelic in a soothing, mellow way then this album is highly recommended to your ears. (Simon Lewis)

 
 

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THE PURRS - DESTROY THE SUN

(CD/LP/DL from http://www.thepurrs.com/ )

I have been listening to and enjoying the music of The Purrs for many moons now, ever since they sent me their debut EP way back in 2004. Over those years I have seen the band grow and progress, develop their own sound and write some damn fine Rock 'n' Roll tunes.

   On their latest album “Destroy the Sun” the band seem to have distilled and crystallised their sound to create their finest work to date, filled with good things and proving that sometimes you don't get what you deserve, The Purrs never having had that slice of luck you need to get to the next level, something The Green Pajamas and The Church know only too well, but hey, their passion and dedication still shines on and I will happily drink a glass to that.

   With a beeping noise that briefly sounds like my alarm clock, the title track suddenly explodes into view with a grungy riff, the mix punchy and powerful enough tog et the whole street rocking as musicians bring it on with the trademark cynical, and sometimes melancholy, lyrics also well represented. After that breathless beginning the chaotic beginning of “American as Apple Pie” is a quick red herring as the tune turns out to be equally powerful and dynamic. With the kind of guitar tone that is found in Tarantino movies, “Late Night Disturbance” has an expansive ambience and sounds particularly good at ear-splitting volume.

   Over 11 songs the music remains focused with a signature sound and vision, the slow-burning “”Here For So Long” catching the ear for all the right reasons, a catchy chorus, sweet sparkles of piano and great lyrics, whilst  a droning Farfisa gives “Now You Know” a great psychedelic sheen.

    Highlighting their gentler side, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” is a trippy tune that slowly builds the tension and volume, the album closed with “Walking Out The Door” a fast paced Garage style track that rocks hard, followed by “What Ever Happened to Billy Boy” another fine tune, Power Pop Americana but mainly The Purrs in top form and that is a good thing indeed. (Simon Lewis)

 
 

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PAUL ROLAND – THE DEVIL’S JUKEBOX

(book www.darkcompanion.com )

Paul Roland is a long time Terrascope favourite, releasing over twenty albums since his debut in 1985, most of which we’ve reviewed. There is a new biography about him which has recently been published, and it is accompanied by a disc of unreleased songs and demos, which tie it in nicely. The book is entitled Paul Roland ‘The Devil’s Jukebox’ and its available from Dark Companion The book is written by Italian super fan Roberto Curti, and runs to almost 200 pages and is most informative, but it’s the music that I’m going to delve into here.

Paul has a way with words and is a very literary style of writer; his songs are almost mini novels.  We have songs of misfits ‘Candy’s Mother Cries’, and ‘Jenny Doesn’t Mind’, songs of addiction ‘Sally can’t cry’.  Done me wrong songs ‘When I See That Girl’, ‘Can’t Forgive, Can’t Forget’.  Songs about the attitudes prevalent in the trailer trash of Deep South of America ‘Preaching the Devil’s Gospel’, replete with banjo and slide guitar, and some great lines like “I was raised in a one whore town, that didn’t wake up until the sun went down, I saw no sense in going to school, just to plough a crooked furrow, behind a cross eyed mule”, and ‘Charlie Manson’s Wedding’ more frailing banjo and redneck hollers, a Dixie fried delight.

Songs about thugs and bullies are also explored with ‘Black Shirt Tango’; this one is a disturbing song about white racists, complete with jack boot marching rhythms. ‘Little Scarface’, a song about razor boys.  Songs of Gods and religion ‘Icarus’ with its wonky mellotron melodies is particularly pleasing, ’The Lord Made Me A Woman’, all slinky sax and Wurlitzer, ‘Moses’ an Egyptian flavoured song of freedom and ‘Cradle Of Abraham’, again has some great lines, as I said, he has a way with words, lines like “All that praying, it don’t bring rain” and “the lord he loves a righteous man”. ‘The Wolfman’s on the Prowl’, with its wicked lead guitar fills ends this record in fine style, a record which combined with the book, make it a highly desirable package.

(Andrew Young)





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PICTUREBOX - ESCAPES

(www.garedunord.co.uk)

This is the second instalment of songs from Robert Halcrow’s Picturebox, following on from 2016’s Songs Of Joy.  Recorded in Canterbury with a couple of guests, Jack Hayter plays violin on “The Vicar’s Dog” and Mathew Dutra plays harmonica, guitar and piano on the co-written “GNER”.  Things get off to a noisy start with “Stumble” a glammy, pop-rocker which is swiftly followed by “Divvy Cabs” a song I wish I hadn’t heard as it’s a real earworm of a tune; it was stuck in my head all day after first hearing it!  It also contains a healthy dollop of fuzz bass. “Sirens” sees things slowing down a little with Robert lounging on the sofa, the sounds of sirens and ice cream vans for company, some nice synth and piano. “GNER” a train song moves us on down the line, with plenty of lead guitar fills.

“I Got The Pox” is very catchy, another glammy rocker with a hint of Hawkwind and wouldn’t be out of place on a Go Kart Mozart album, it also sounds a bit like the Squeeze song “Up The Junction”. “Secret Escapes” again reminds me of Lawrence, this time covering Cockney Rebel. “Nice Boys Mobile Disco” provides a nice interlude, something squeaking, that badly needs oiling, appears halfway through it, to a tune of God Gave Rock and Roll To You.“Uniform” is a fun song about getting a job, “The Vicar’s Dog” is again full of great pop nous, I swear I know this tune but just can’t place it. The album ends with “Troyte” a short sombre organ interlude. 

This is a great fun album that I will certainly been revisiting, its available on limited edition CDs, each in a one off, hand finished, die cut cover from picturebox.bandcamp.com

(Andrew Young)



 

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 JOEL CAHEN – AQUADELIC

( www.adaadat.co.uk  )

Limited to 300 vinyl and 100 CDs.  Aquadelic is an album of abstract electronics, designed to be listened to in a semi-immersed state, where sounds are typically felt through the body, rather than through the ears.  It was created as a by-product from Joel’s Wet Sounds series of underwater concerts.  Now, these strange electronic pieces have been released for the first time for listening to in the dry, the album consists of seven tracks, that are stereo mix downs of these original, multi channel works.

Joel has been playing his mutating strand of abstract electronica through a multi channel system at Wet Sounds, usually consisting of three stereo systems above the water level and one that is under the water surface. The release of the album will coincide with a Wet Sounds event at St. George’s pool in Shadwell, London on October 7th.

What of the sounds I hear you ask; well we have slowly unfurling tone pieces, like album opener “Sinbad Revival”, which develops into a complex synthesiser showcase, strangely reminiscent of the sound achieved on Steve Burchall’s mid- seventies album ‘Reality Gates’.  “Orange Sky”, has some quite scary passages, basically another mad synth tone poem, it twinkles and echoes, all the time there is a deep sub-aquatic throb.  “Black Rainbows”, sounds like listening to Tangerine Dream in a deep cave, I can just see the oozing, dripping stalactites.  In “Centre Of The Cyclone”, the music finally lets up and shows us a lighter side.  As this piece  progresses we hear a drowsy, buzzing fly, a distant crow, woodpigeon, and a synthesised woodpecker, during the mix of these nature sounds, the track also features a disembodied human voice and some odd squelching noises. 

My word, this is a very strange listening experience indeed.  “Blurs Of My Eyes”, is frankly a ten minute fright fest, with added voicing by Rebecca Horrox, as it develops it becomes quite tripped out, sound travelling down coils of frayed wire, this one is an ambient synth nightmare, odd snippets of sounds appear and fade as quickly as they arrived, strings are slackened and tightened, a bell is finally tolled, its sound stretched out into infinity.  “Canolin Tap” starts off very brightly, however, it’s not very long until the piece fragments and goes somewhere else entirely, tones are transposed and octaves played with, somewhere a piano is sampled, an old guitar strummed, a ghostly orchestra tunes up, a goose briefly appears but is quickly disposed of, all the while a mad synth is being flayed to within an inch of its life, I’m feeling mighty strange now.  The record ends with “Fume Noir”, this one has some strange guttural utterances by Fredy Thuon.  It’s another quite disconcerting piece, a ghostly nightmare which really shouldn’t be listened to prior to going to bed. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced anything quite like this.

(Andrew Young) 

 
 

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THE TOTAL REJECTION – WRAPPING YOURSELF IN SILVER FOIL WON’T SAVE YOU FROM THE BLAST

(www.raving-pop-blast.bandcamp.com)

Available in 300 limited edition heavyweight green vinyl copies, with a hand screen printed & painted sleeve, with A2 poster,includes download code, postcard and insert, order from.

This record came out in February of this year and I believe it is the band’s debut, recorded in Bristol at various rehearsal rooms and garages. This great record starts with ‘The Legendary Orgasm’, they come on like a lot like early Who, with shades of The Creation, especially the ‘I Can’t Explain’ guitar chord patterns. This track is swiftly followed by the terrific Hawkwind grooves of ‘Licking Furniture’ a trippy, unrelenting, space rocker with plenty of chug.  Lots of pop-art moves fill the grooves of this fine, highly desirable record; sure its retro and the band definitely have no intentions of appearing on ‘Later with Jules Holland’ anytime soon, being far to lo-fi for that.  A narcotic Spacemen 3, spring to mind with side one closer ‘Save The World’.

‘Party Seven’ kicks off side two, with a farfisa infested druggy number, a lot like The Jesus And Mary Chain , ‘The Sweetest Dreams’ add slashings of spewed out lead guitar. ‘Vampire Cats (Itches)’ is another farfisa lead psychedelic rocker with more of that wonderful coruscating lead guitar poured all over it. The record ends with ‘Bending Spoons’ which has more organ led, guitar infested, psychedelia. There are barely a handful of vinyl copies remaining on their Bandcamp page as I write this review, get one before they sell out; you will not be disappointed. I’ll bet that Alan McGee has one. 

(Andrew Young)

 





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MICHAEL NESMITH – AT THE BBC PARIS THEATRE

MICHAEL NESMITH & THE FIRST NATIONAL BAND REDUX – LIVE AT THE TROUBADOUR

(Both LP/CD on 7a Records)

 

A pair of live albums for Papa Nez fans.  The first, 2017’s “At the BBC Paris Theatre,” was recorded at the London venue November 27, 1975 for broadcast.  While the recording has occasionally made the rounds in bootleg form, it is heard here in its original state for the first time since the original broadcast.  The audio quality is superb.  Nez appears solo, with just himself and his trusty acoustic guitar.

 

The performance seems brief, with just six songs.  The first three, “Silver Moon,” “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” and “Joanne” sound wonderful.  In the intimate setting, Nez’s vocals and his 12-string guitar fill out the sound nicely on these chestnuts.

 

In the second half, Nesmith performs three songs from his then-current album, the underrated “The Prison,” billed as a “book with a soundtrack.”  As Nesmith has rarely performed songs from The Prison live, the recording has historical significance.  The three, “Dance Between the Raindrops,” “Marie’s Theme,” and “Closing Theme (Lampost),” sound terrific, and are punctuated by Nesmith’s explanations of what’s going on in the concept album.  You might need an explanation for the explanations.  During “Marie’s Theme,” Nez cuts himself off after singing the line “hidden behind all the logic one finds without truth” and comments “And that refrain repeats on the record about 637,000 times...” which is almost not an exaggeration if you’re familiar with The Prison.  Still, it doesn’t make the song or the performances here any less endearing.

 

“At the BBC Paris Theatre” is definitely worth owning, but it seems a warm-up for 7a’s spectacular 2018 release “Live at the Troubadour.”  After leaving The Monkees in 1970, Nesmith formed The First National Band with pedal steel maestro Red Rhodes, bassist John London, and drummer John Ware.  They released three albums on RCA in the space of about a year during 1970-1971, “Magnetic South,” “Loose Salute” and “Nevada Fighter.”  The songs, many written while Nez was still in The Monkees, were country-rock bedrock that garnered rave reviews, but due to RCA’s lack of promotion, the albums languished and quickly disappeared.  The First National Band broke up, and Nesmith continued his solo career, the quality of the releases always high, if not big sellers.  But the original First National Band releases slowly continued to gather a following which grew and grew over the years.

 

Cut to 2018.  As a result of fan feedback and confidence within Nesmith’s inner circle that there was an audience out there who wanted to hear the original music, the band was reformed and redubbed The First National Band Redux for a new set of shows.  Their first gig was the iconic Troubadour, where both Nesmith MC’d before The Monkees and original First National Band performed.  Tickets sold out in minutes for the January 25th 2018 show.

 

Gone are Red Rhodes and John London, both sadly passed, and John Ware was unwilling to join the project, citing age as the factor.  Nesmith’s son Christian put together the band you hear on the album.  If you want to put together a band for a live show or tour, you want Christian Nesmith.  The band features himself and another Nesmith son Jonathan Nesmith on guitars and vocals, Christopher Allis (drums), Jason Chesney (bass), Jim Cox (keyboards), Circe Link and Amy Spear (vocals and percussion), and last but not certainly not least Pete Finney on pedal steel, who plays Rhodes’ parts with astonishing breadth and precision.

 

This outfit pulls off the rarified feat of the live album which sounds better than the studio originals.  Nesmith admits he was somewhat dissatisfied with the original trio of albums as lacking some oomph.  Christian Nesmith sees to it that the songs get the full treatment they deserve.  A lot of the magic is down to Christian’s arrangements, especially the vocal harmonies by Circe Link and Amy Spear.  If you want fantastic band and vocal arrangements for a live performance, you want Christian Nesmith.

 

Nez is in great spirits and great voice throughout.  Kicking off with the rousing “Nevada Fighter” and “Calico Girlfriend,” Nez and the band are immediately cooking on all cylinders.  Tender songs such as “Nine Times Blue,” “The Crippled Lion” and “Joanne” are resonant and touching.  The crackling “Grand Ennui” features some blazing performances by the band.  The beautiful, moody “Lady of the Valley,” which astonishingly almost didn’t make the set list, is a real highlight, with Nez’s falsetto and the harmonies by Circe Link and Amy Spear sending chills up the spine.

 

The most poignant moment is during a small acoustic interlude, during which Nez sings among others “Papa Gene’s Blues,” the only original Monkees song in the set.  The chorus “I have no more than I did before, but now I’ve got all that I need/For I love you and I know you love me” becomes a singalong with the audience.  It becomes apparent that in that moment Nez really means those words to his audience, and they mean it just as much back to him.  After the scare which resulted in Nesmith’s quadruple-bypass surgery earlier this year, this moment on the album resonates even further.  As we continue to perhaps say goodbye to more of our heroes from our musical past, the chance to do it with artist and audience serenading each other is a rare and special thing indeed.

 

On the last six songs, “Keys to the Car,” “Mama Nantucket,” “Bye Bye Bye,” “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” “Silver Moon” and “Thanx for the Ride,” Nez and the band reach for another gear and find some sort of supersonic zone and never come down.

 

The audio quality on the record sounds sensational.  If you want to produce and mix a live album, you want Christian Nesmith.  Packaging is first-rate, courtesy of 7a, with fascinating liner notes by Papa Nez himself.

 

All in all, a great release, and as Nez wraps it up, I’ll just mosey on, thanx for the ride.

 

(Mark Feingold)