Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Paco - "This Is Where We Live" Just as Brookville was a creative non Ivy outlet for Andy Chase, Paco is a release for his wife and partner Dominique Durand. (Andy does have playing, production and some writing credits on this disc however). Dominique was assisted in the writing and playing of the album by a number of other talented musicians as well. The obvious first question is: Does it sound just like Ivy? No, but since her voice is the "soul" of that band and she sings here an obvious comparison is inevitable. She sings intrinsically the same (which is of course excellent) however there is unquestionably more of an edge to it here than is present in her Ivy work. While not really darker or more brooding there is a sort of late night adult feel to her voice now that was not quite displayed before. So the next question then must be: How is it different from Ivy? Here is where it starts to stand apart. While there is an underlying similarity, one could say this album has more sense of drama and a definite air of adult mystery and spy chic about it. It could pass for a James Bond soundtrack and in many ways bears a strong resemblance to the sound of the UK band Rialto. But it's not that cut and dried, as the album does wander thru several moods and even has a Caribbean feel on the track Thin. I do not think it is better than any of the 3 regular Ivy albums but it is nevertheless quite excellent and I hate to say it Andy, it is a little better than your Brookville release, but you had a big hand here anyway so kudos all around. While looking for this you may wish to pick up the old Ivy albums, especially the original Apartment Life album. Ivy has re-released all their old material again on their own label Unfiltered so if you do not have all of it, by all means get it now while you can.
Label ~ Unfiltered, 10 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.8
Paddington DC - "The Sun is Down and the Sky is Grey" AKA the "Paddington Distortion Combo" is a side project of the Bear Quartets keyboardist Calle Olsson. I was a bit taken aback and didn't know quite what to make of this when the opener Put Things came at me like the Wake playing after downing a case full of Jolt cola. (for non americans, that's a highly caffeineated beverage) What's more, it never ended. It changes slightly a few times, so I had to keep looking.....7 min in - yep still it.....10 min in - uhh.. still it... 13 min in - going strong fellas.... 16 min in - Oh, come on now, when is this thing ending? 17:48, that's when it's ending. Over 17 minutes of the same short little beat and lyric repeated ad naseum. If it's overkill or not is kind of up to you, and I must admit it is the sort of idiocy that can infect ones brain. If you're digging it, I suppose no, otherwise it can sort of become it's own water torture. This album is mostly an instrumental affair and when vocals do happen they are over modulated, under modulated, sung thru a door?......anything but clear and oddly enough it is not only not a problem, it's probably one of this albums charms. I was most touched by the lovely little instrumental Belle which is very aptly named and it's follow up song Nothing To It which is probably the closest thing to a single on here and is really quite catchy. If you are in the market for an album full of synthetic orchestrations, avant garde vocals and semi-mindless poppy instrumentals this might be just what the doctor ordered. It comes not in a plastic case but rather a folded up poster as well, however it will fit into a jewel case front so you can protect and store it that way if you wish.
Label ~ Lowlife, 11 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Pale Fountains - "Pacific Street" You'd have known about this sooner had I ever gotten to P in my oldies section. At the time of it's release in 1984 the kids in the indie scene didn't really know about this. (at least not in the US) So I was always somewhat surprised that it's much later spinoff band Shack has been so well known, and in fact this bands second (and not nearly as good) album "From Across the Kitchen Table" is the one always mentioned, but never this one. This was one of the first things I had gotten in the store of my mentor "Mr. Muzak" back in the winter of 84. Yes, it was quite a thing to be able to have such hipness available in small town USA. I think this album is more unknown here as it was never avaliable except as an import. (but wasn't the second one too?) When I saw it was reissued with 4 extra tracks from singles I didn't have I decided to get it for old times sake. (That plus my copy isn't the greatest pressing, RB probably had to squeeze funds for all his stupid ballon expeditions) I always felt that was another oddity, them being on the major Virgin, as they were tailor made for Factory or Rough Trade. The opener Reach probably encapsulates the sound here as a whole. It starts with a slow vocal by Michael Head with just some acoustic strums and light percussion, then suddenly kicks in with a bright blast. Head has a great voice which has a very quivering, emotive quality about it, and the song is strewn with wonderful horn parts. Side one is at times ecclectic, with some slower, Spanish influenced numbers. Side two was always the killer in my mind, starting with the great insrumental Faithful Pillow and then going into one of my favorite and most unknown songs of the 80's (Don't Let Your Love) Start a War. It completely rocks and is about as poptastic a song as you'll ever want to hear. Great guitar riffs, majestic horn accents and really heartfelt vocals. Truly a classic, and nobody knows about the damn thing. I used to put it on comp tapes and blow people away with it. (by the way, the song has been strangely retitled "You'll Start a War" on the new CD. Lets keep the old title) Also shining on this side are tracks like Abergele Next Time which is about as lush and sexy as a pop song can be, and Crazier which starts with pan steel drums and is not only a beautiful song with some great percussion in it, it's one of those songs you always love to sing along to whenever it plays. The addition tracks are all good, and include the very lovely and well remembered Thank You. The only place that had this was Clairecords, so don't waste time if you are going to get it. There are a number of truly monumental tracks on this LP, and it's about time it had it's day in the sun. (and I always loved the cover) It's poppy with a bossa nova groove and never fails to bring a smile to my face. Memories are made of these......
Label ~ Virgin, 15 Tracks, 1984/2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.2
Pas/Cal - "Oh Honey, We're Ridiculous EP" I am not sure which is more curious, that this Detroit band is led by Casimer Pascal who sounds like a carbon copy of Stuart Murdoch from Belle, or that I was fooled by the $9 price tag into thinking this was the debut LP, not another EP. Paying $9 for 5 songs did not make me exactly happy. So, is it worth it? Ehhhhhh....no, it wasn't worth $9. It isn't half bad and there are some nice moments on it, but had I to do it over again I wouldn't pay so much for it. I find that while it is Belle like, and certainly belongs on this label, the songs tend to be a bit too overblown, a bit too 'grand', and in the rush to overproduction, the subtlety and beauty of what they had gets lost. This is a band which could benefit from embracing the maxim of "less is more". We see that on the opener What Happened To The Sands which is clearly the best cut here, but it's mostly a slow dive after that. Lets wait for the real album, and see what happens then. This sleeping dog I would let lie.
Label ~ , Tracks,
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.5
Pastel Collision - "Pastel Collision" I had thought this was the only offering of this band before they went off and changed their name (but little else) to Kaleida, but I was contacted by Jim Brunt from the band and told otherwise. Apparently there were 3 7" only singles which preceeded this. This outing is a 3 track single, and the songs are very typical of the sound they would have as Kaleida, coming in very adult brit-pop sounding in the vein of say Dubstar. If anything, they only got better as Kaleida, and you should probably start there first, but if you like that LP (and you most certainly will) then you can decide if it's worth it to you to fork out for a 3 song release like this. I did, and I don't often do that.
Label ~ Siesta, 3 Tracks, 1998
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Pearlfishers - "Across the Milky way" This is one of the things I asked for in my recent swap and while I wasn't overly fond of the clips I'd heard of this bands previous stuff I liked what I had heard from this so I took a chance. When T saw it he said, "Oh, the Beach Boys" and admittedly some of their earlier stuff was a bit like that but I told him he was very wrong. I listened to this for the first time painting the trim in T's stereo room (affluent bastard) and it really got to me. It's very sublime and heartfelt, reminding me somewhat of what Astropop 3 is trying to come off as but has henceforth fallen somewhat short of doing. New Stars is just an absolutely beautiful and charming song, one of the best of it's kind I've heard in a long time. Somewhat akin as well to what many Aussie bands strive for, but they mostly tend to come off too maudlin and a bit samey. Steady With You sort of starts in that vein, sort of a mix of aussie pop and mid 70's light contemporary, but when the chorus kicks in a minute later the whole song becomes altered, like some chrysalis suddenly bursting forth into butterfly. It's done so well it leaves a real impression on you. David Scotts voice also starts growing on you as the disc goes along and on tracks like Sweet William is very ernest and emotive. This Lp is basically what I'd call very well done adult pop, at times almost jazzy, with as much influence from synths as horns or piano and guitars. Marina doesn't do the best job making their stuff available, but if you can find this I think you'll be quite happy. It's both uptempo and soothing all at the same time, and there isn't much like it available from anyone else. Well done indeed.
sound clip - New Stars
Label ~ Marina, 13 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Pearlfishers - "Sky Meadows" I liked this bands last album so I was eager to get this one when I saw it had come out, and while it can be argued David Scott's songs sometimes sound an awful lot alike (lets call it the Lucksmiths Syndrome) the problem, if it exists, is usually overcome by the quality of them. We see that on the first track Flora Bella which is very lush and sounds quintessentially him, but it has such a pop effervescence that the similarity to things past just makes it just seem more like an old friend right away. There are a few nice poppy number on here, like the track mentioned as well as My Dad The Weatherfan which is very Phil Spector-ish, which for you kids means lavish production with a "big" sound and a rush of emotion, not a dead girl in your bedroom. The album does drift a bit and get a little perhaps too minimal near the end, but over all this is a pretty nice effort. It's not album of the year material, but everything doesn't have to be to be worthwhile. This is quite a nice effort and if not a milestone certainly a solid pathway to the next one. Like many things however, had this been the first LP of his I heard I would have been far more taken by it but jaded familiarity has overcome me. That said, this would make a great place to start if you don't own any Pearlfishers albums and in time might come to be my favorite.
Label ~ Marina, 12 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.4
Pearly Gatecrashers/L+T - "Fad EP" This is the most recent offering from this band, going back to 97 and being 5 songs long. The opener, Summer's Here is a great song, and I had heard it on some sampler compilation from somebody. The second cut, Only Minutes to Go again sounds an awful lot like the Primitives, and I hadn't realized how much this band sounds like them at times. Tim sings for a change on Warm Loving Girl and it's a nice change and a very good song. In fact, it was a sign of things to come as he's sent me mp3's of songs from their new LP and the majority of it is sung by him. I don't know why they decided to go by L+T this time, because as far as I know they're still the Pearly Gatecrashers. (L+T is of course Lenore and Tim, who are married) Again, I'm not much of an EP shopper, but this is good stuff, and makes an album when added to the rum with pepsi release.
Label ~ self release, 5 Tracks, 1997
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Pearly Gatecrashers - "Rum With Pepsi EP" This is a single taken from their Spectacular album, and the title track is a great song, very typical of them, with somewhat silly but yet engaging and endearing lyrics. There are 4 other tracks here, all listed as demos, and track 6 is a dance mix of the title song again (as if it wasn't dancey enough already). The other four tracks are all quite good, especially Watershed which begins with very Cure like guitars. (well, the whole song is very Cure like sounding, and amen to that) I'm not a big EP buyer, and of course I didn't have to buy this anyway, (well, it cost me a t shirt and postage) but I certainly would buy it if I didn't have it. This band deserves as much adulation and attention as any band from down under currently in the scene. This is damn fine stuff, and comes in at nearly 20 minutes.
Label ~ Concubine, 6 Tracks, 1994
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Pearly Gatecrashers - "New, Fluffy, Delicious!" I knew about this but thought it was just an ep, but it turns out this is actually I suppose their first LP, coming in at 9 songs and going all the way back to 1992. The opener, Good Time is very typical of the times and has a Brit girl band sort of vibe with a little of the greebo Wonder Stuff influence of the period. Lenores voice sounds as good on this disc as it ever did, so she obviously had it from the get go. The songs are mostly cutting poppy guitar, teamed to her very lush and effortless sounding voice. This album is less experimental than some of their other ones and anyone who likes late 80's guitar pop and a consistent album will like this quite a great deal I think. There are various styles evidenced though, like on the track Run which sounds a great deal like the Primitives, and there's also nice occasional use of odd things like accordian and flamenco guitar to add a little variety. I especially like In the Summer which has shimmery guitar and a lazy feel. This album deserves our attentions, and what's more you can get it FOR 4 STINKING BUCKS!! I heartily suggest you get your copy while they are still available, if not then I cannot help you. Since it's coming right from them too, I bet they'd even autograph it if you ask nice.
Label ~ Fluffy, 9 Tracks, 1992
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Pearly Gatecrashers - "Spectacular" I was abit confused about this release, as the opening cut Rum With Pepsi starts with flamenco guitar and has a salsa beat to it, but it is nevertheless rooted in the world of indiepop and is a great song. The next song however is called Gucci, Gucci Girl and sounds remarkably like some early 80's US girl band mixed with current J-Pop and the lead singers voice sounds like it could maybe be Japaneese. It's a farking fantabulous song, one of the best and most glorious pop for the sake of pop songs I've heard in a long time. (you really could just listen to it all day). To this confusion was added the cover which features a tour bus full of Japaneese musicians in 50's clothes. Finally I opened the booklet and see that the lead singer is Lenore Betterridge, and this band is apparently Aussie. Well, to cut to the chase, this record just rocks, and it is absolutely pop-tabulous. There are hints in their sound to alot of different girl bands, from Strawberry Switchblade to even Lush, but in the end it's always them. A stellar effort of girly guitar bliss. Apparently this is a bit old too. It's another T-Baby find, and I finally tracked a copy down at Clairecords.
POSTSCRIPT: I was contacted by the band themselves and they sent me a link where you can get this LP as well as all their other stuff which is still in print, and the prices are very good too! Just click Here!
Label ~ Concubine, 12 Tracks, 1994
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Pearly Gatecrashers - "Popsuey" This is their most recent album yet I had previously not been able to obtain it. The opener here, Most Wonderful Day of the Year is slighly odd for them, sounding a little haunted like a Julie Cruise song, yet it's still poppy in it's own way. There's sort of a maturity to this disc not evidenced on the others, such as on Jim Morrisons Living Today which has an uptempo yet slightly folky feel. Tim does the singing on Stop the World and I can even stand it despite the fact that it has a real sixties vibe and backing chorus to it, and what's worse, it has a very "carnival" like melody. There is variety on this disc as on the last LP, but again it's more of a mature type, with the directions leading into jazz stylings or James Bond type music. The sixties are evidenced on the work, but they don't really dominate. Some of my faves are Johnny which is a more mature version of the kind of breezy type of pop song they are famous for, and Pussycat which features sexy horn parts teamed to some rather delicious double entendre going on with the lyrics "talkin bout my pussy....pussy cat...in the summer it gets hot and sweaty...I'll put my furs out in the street, purr at every boy I meet...I want to slip it inside". The best cut on the disc to be sure. (and even my kid can listen to it and like it as she doesn't get any of it of course) This band should be far more well known than they are and I heartily suggest you use the link or visit twee kitten and get some of this while the getting is good, as they say.
Label ~ Concubine, 12 Tracks, 1996
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Xavier Pelleuf - "the Slow Fade of Silver" When I got my grab bag from the fine folks at Planting Seeds I had especially asked for this as the preview info for it made it sound quite good. The opener, Touching Dragons almost remids me of an early REM-esque slow ballad and is not bad. However, it pretty much sets the tone for this entire record, song three Boredom & Afterglow being the most noticeable uptempo exception. That in itself isn't really bad, but it seems that too often he isn't wandering thru the waters of melancholia, he's laboring thru it. Ironically though, this is one of those records I find really tough to listen to thru the mains but find much more accessable thru headphones. In fact, in both that last mentioned song and Hearing Santayana he sounds alot like William Reed of the Mary Chain doing one of his slowish ballad numbers and thru headphones I find myself liking them alot. On an individual basis, and in the right context, I do like a number of the tracks here, but I couldn't listen to this thing straight thru again and certainly not on the mains. In that respect it reminds me of Ian McCullochs first solo LP, which was also despair laden due to the recent deaths of his father and Bunnyman drummer Pete DeFreitas. This ones that odd bird, which depending on time and the right moment comes and goes in ones estimation. That in itself makes it hard to rate, but if the overall slowness doesn't scare you off I think you might find some things here to smile about.
Label ~ Planting Seeds, 11 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.7
Penelopes - "Eternal Spring" This review is long overdue. I was sent some promos by Tatsuhiko Watanabe last year who not only runs Vaudevelle Park Records in Japan but has his own band, the Penelopes. He wanted to send me a copy of their new album, but I asked for their previous as well (I like to know where a bands been to judge where it's going) as well as another band on his label, and he was kind enough to send it all. This is a little hard to define musically, as his vocals and style reminds me a little bit of Arvidson (surprisingly deep but with a japanese accent) and the music wanders from 60's styled pop songs to 70's ballads. Band hints include (as mentioned) Arvidson, the Pearly Gatecrashers and some early synth pop. His vocals can be a bit hard to catch on a lot of the recording, and the swings of musicality don't help lend it any type of cohesion. Still, it has it's moments, is mostly indie poppish and I don't know if it's a translation issue or just good thinking but the songs have some odd titles such as Mrs.Meadow Rue and Carnival Of Slight. All in all, fairly interesting.
Label ~ Vaudeville Park, 15 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Penelopes - "Summerdew Avenue"This is the latest album by this band, and it shows a lot more cohesion, and borrows a lot more styles than the last one did. The opening intro to track two 1983 sounds for all the world like the Monochrome Set and the song is quite great. In fact it becomes clear quite quickly this is a much more polished affair. While his vocals are still a bit understated they are more clear, and while first impressions might lend you to dismiss this album, repeated listenings really show it for the unexpected gem it is. The songs are inspired, with borrowed sounds at times but done with unique melodies that sound like old friends. I really tried hard to get Luke to stock this and he would not. If you make enough of an uproar I know he will. Please send all letters of protest to his Popesmokes address listed in the popsicle shop.
Label ~ Vaudeville Park, 11 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Permer - "Summerdays Attract the Pain" This is the debut LP by Martin Permer who is half of the well known Swedish band Waltz For Debbie, but while they are more known for outright dancy, upbeat "disco" music this comes across as more mature. (possibly because he's singing?) Still, it is mostly techno based which always seems to lend itself to dance, but this album reminds me a lot in style to the Pet Shop Boys. (in fact, quite a lot) The lyrics are good, but then he wrote quality stuff with WFD anyway. (not inane babble like dance stuff so often is) There's a nice bit of variety on the disc, from the very poppy and upbeat title track to more introspective yet still vibrant stuff like Take Your Time with it's sublime keyboard lines and sharp guitar accents. I'm still trying to figure out how the hell all these Swedes do this, I'll sing, she'll sing, it doesn't matter, lets make a record today etc... How they do it so casually and of such quality is a mystery. I'm listening to the track Summerday as I type and it just slays. Pue pop gold. Yes, it's what we've come to expect, an effortless, brilliant and beautifully played AND heartfelt record. Long live the fika! If you dig mid to late 80's Brit "chic" pop like the Pet Shop Boys then this is a must on your 2002 shopping list and maybe the LP of the summer. (Possibly strange, considering his cover shot looks like some guy getting ready to board a herring boat)
Label ~ Parasol, 14 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Pernice Brothers - "Yours, Mine & Ours" T baby found this one and if anything it proves he hasn't entirely lost it. I wasn't sure what to expect as they are from NYC but I was quite taken aback by the opener The Weakest Shade Of Blue which has a gorgeous english anthemic quality to the music matched to an american pop ethic (sort of like Matt Bruno) and it just blew me away. It's a great song. The entire album is that way. Very melodic, very sexy, kind of like a prowling tiger that you want to find and devour you. In many ways it's like the first Gene album in that respect without being so english. In fact the song Judy sounds an awful lot like early Gene. What's odd is the next song Sometimes I Remember wholly rips off the Cures guitar riff to In Between Days. It's not even a maybe, well, it's 90% there. Oh well, what are you going to do with kids? But hell, I'm not going to complain when the kids start ripping off bands like that, it's what I've been waiting for after all. Another really great record in a year that has been full of them, and sadly another great record the mass of stupid sheep in this world will never get to hear. Well now you know, so don't do nothing about it. Go buy this.
Label ~ Ashmont, 10 Tracks, 2003
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