Sunday, April 23, 2017

The April '17 Hit Parade

Hope you all enjoyed yesterday's Record Store Day and that you were able to find those special releases you were after. Actually, with such a strong roster of new releases lately, I don’t think that a special day is needed to give us an incentive to visit our local record stores. As you will see next week in our latest Listening Habits post, there is currently a huge pile of excellent records we are going through and plenty more are going to be added over the next few weeks as we're anxiously expecting new releases by the likes of The Afghan Wigs, Mark Lanegan, The Black Angels and At The Drive-In to name but a few.

With so many excellent new releases by returning favorite artists, it is easy to overlook some very worthwhile albums by new or relatively new acts that are coming out over the same period. To avoid making this mistake, in this post we have chosen to highlight the new work of a few of these bands that we are either newly acquainted with or we have known about for a little while. Say hello to London all-girl four-piece The Big Moon and Melbourne rockers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, and welcome back the psychedelic sounds of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, also from Melbourne, and Temples from Kettering:

The Big Moon - Sucker

The Big Moon are Juliette Jackson, Soph Nathann, Celia Archer and Fern Ford. They made their debut with the single "Sucker" in 2015 and after a few more singles, among them last year's pop gem "Silent Movie Susie", they have just released their debut album "Love in the 4th Dimension", a strong pop record that brings to mind the era when bands like Elastica or Sleeper ruled the indie airwaves. Check out above the reworked version of "Sucker" that opens their debut album.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Julie's Place

We can't wait to hear what Melbourne's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are going to present to us when the time comes for their debut album. For now we'll have to make do with their astonishing second 7-track EP "The French Press", their Sub Pop debut, that sounds like a marriage made in heaven between Broken Social Scene and The Go-Betweens!

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Rattlesnake

Psychedelic rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have been going for a while now, releasing so far nine albums in five years! Their latest one "Flying Microtonal Banana" is an outstanding mix of psych and krautrock sounds and is just the first installment of five albums set to be released in 2017 that experiment with microtonality. This is going to be interesting, to say the least...

Temples - Strange Or Be Forgotten

We have been championing Temples ever since we've come across their excellent debut album "Sun Structures" at the beginning of 2014. Now the Kettering four-piece is back with its sophomore work "Volcano", another psychedelic pop trip with more dance-rock influences this time around, but with a prevailing 60's rock vibe at its core, with strong melodies forming the backbone of their sound.

Visit us again next week for the complete list of our favorite albums and songs for March - April 2017, it's gonna be a blast!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Live: The Black Heart Procession @ Fuzz Club (Athens, March 31st, 2017)

It's been six years already since the last time we saw The Black Heart Procession in Athens, in one of their last tours before they decided to take a break. Back then Pall Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel, the creative core of the group, had played as a duo, presenting a stripped down acoustic show with only the bare essentials: a keyboard, a guitar and Pall’s signature instrument, the musical saw.

The reunion of the band came about as we've reached the 20th anniversary of its formation and to mark the occasion, Pall and Tobias decided to revisit the songs of "1", their debut album recorded in 1997. Enlisting the help of two musicians from Serbia, this new version of The Black Heart Procession presented "1" in its entirety, giving the opportunity to their fans, old and new, to listen live the eleven songs that started their story.

Although personally I am more fond of their work during the next decade and especially of "Amore Del Tropico", their fourth album from 2002, the songs from "1" have certainly retained their melancholic charm and represent the romantic, "black" heart of the group as good as any of their subsequent albums.

If you’re looking for the highlights of the hour-long main set, I would say that for each member of the audience these would have to coincide with their favorite songs off the album, as its live presentation was quite faithful to the recorded version. So for me the stand-out moment was "Release My Heart", the most electrifying song of a mainly acoustic record, followed by "Blue Water Black Heart' and "Square Heart" (as you can understand, the matters of the heart are ubiquitous on "1").

The show closed with a three song encore, during which Pall Jenkins addressed the audience for the first time, not only to thank us for being there at the last show of this tour, but also to explain the reasons for choosing these particular songs for the finale. So, for "A Cry for Love" the choice was down to the popularity of this track on YouTube (and I’m guessing from the enthusiastic reception of the crowd that a lot of the "likes" came from Greece). Regarding "The War Is Over" (from the album "Three"), it was the anti-war subject matter the deciding factor, while "Borders", the new song that closed the evening, was chosen as it speaks about the refugee and immigration issues, currently at the forefront of the news. As Pall pointed out, San Diego, the band's hometown which is located near the borders with Mexico, is strongly influence by Latin culture and no wall can break the strong ties that exist between people, regardless where they are coming from.

With these three songs The Black Heart Procession waved goodbye and renewed our rendezvous for their next tour. Let's see where this reunion will lead, beyond this first rate opportunity to retrace the band's first steps.

The Black Heart Procession - A Cry for Love (live in Athens)

The Black Heart Procession - Square Heart (live in Athens)