= March 2012 =  
Dean McPhee
The Rrreverberations
Cian Nugent
Howlin' Rain
Chuck Johnson
Sorrows Children
Head Music
Peter Lacey
The Desolation Singers
Stone Breath
Three Minute Tease


DEAN MCPHEE – SON OF THE BLACK PEACE (LP/CD/MP3/FLAC from Blast First Petite www.blastfirstpetite.com )

Dean McPhee is a self-taught guitarist hailing from Yorkshire, UK who, eschewing the traditional acoustic guitar, plays a crystal toned Fender Stratocaster through a valve amp (you can almost see the dust particles bouncing off the speaker cover) which lends “Son of the Black Peace” such a sumptuous depth of sound. Over four tracks spanning 35 minutes wreathed in rich and cavernous tones, McPhee’s thumb plays a steady bass tempo while the fingers dance along the strings. The outcome, as if we ever needed to be convinced, is that solo guitar (as opposed to some guitar solos) need never be dull. Folk, Arabica, Psychedelia - it’s all here folks. Opener “Power of Nines” suggests the perfect soundtrack to midnight at the oasis, a lone guitar calling plaintively across the silent desert wastes. The cavernous “Golden Bridge” clips along nicely, bringing to mind a reflective, Led Zep III era Jimmy Page, while gorgeous “Star Burial” further hints at desert cowboy and Bedouin influences. The typically sparse yet somehow opulent “Cloud Forest” with its glissando coda is the glorious, slightly eerie culmination of 37 minutes you’ll want to savour for a long, long time from a young man destined to be a major talent. (Ian Fraser)



(CDR from roeshad.com )

There’s no prizes for guessing which particular musical seam these guys are mining given the title, but it’s probably worth mentioning that the sub-genre in question is emphatically the scuzzier end of the psychedelic street, with ‘The Cloud Doctrine’ and ‘We Killed the Sky’ in particular containing echoes of Mick Farren and the Deviants in full cry, scattering pills ‘n’ bottles of booze as they careen down Ladbroke Grove in a day-glo van scaring the freaks with their political antics and noisy guitar posturing.

“We’re a band of long-time friends, all veterans of the 80s psych scene in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” they tell me [specifically, Dave Junker from Madison's freak-beat legends The Romulans; he also played with John Frankovic of Plasticland. Gunnar Hedman was formerly with The Neglected Stairways and Milwaukee's premiere underground noise band the Parabells, and Peder Hedman with Liquid Pink, Tweaker and Los Monos] “Every few years we congregate at a space in Austin, Texas for all-night jams. We’ve boiled down the recordings to a potent mixture of nine songs and we hope you enjoy them...”

I most certainly do! Other favourites include ‘Electric Witchcraft’ with its blistering guitar break towards the end, and the floating, hallucinatory chant of ‘Spirit Channel’. This is an album that’s obviously been crafted for no better reason than the sheer joy of making music, and you can’t fault the band for that. 45/50, and that’s not just the number of the disc they kindly sent me. (Phil McMullen)




(CD/LP/MP3 from Thrill Jockey www.thrilljockey.com )

In much the same way as those Southern Boogie bands of the 1970s pioneered a spate of three-pronged guitar armies, so it seems the current crop of US rockers have a knack of featuring a triumvirate of brothers. While the much vaunted Kings of Leon have their Followills, not to mention their legion of followers, the less heralded but hugely talented, not to mention prolific Carney boys from Virginia – Jennings (bass, keys, voice), Van (voice, guitar) and Lain (drums, voice) make up the triple headed wunderbeast that is Pontiak.

Recorded using analogue equipment, “Echo Ono” is the Brothers Grime’s ninth outing (including their Arbouretum collaboration) since 2005. Proudly proclaiming the absence of any distortion pedals from proceedings (new fangled technology, pah!) the lack of stomp in no way equates to a shortage of swamp or for that matter raw volume and aggression. These are amps that have been taped to 11. Who needs distortion when you have distortion? I mean, really.
If your thing is unfussy garage rock, old school rawk and QOTSA style riffing then look no further. There are more big meaty hooks here than in your average industrial sized abattoir and much thundering and raucousness ensues. Opener “Lions Of Least” is a case in point as is the tribal-sounding call-to-arms “Left in Light”. “The North Coast” is at first deceptively throttled back, West Coast rather than North Coast in fact, but can’t resist flooring it in the chorus and middle eight. There’s more than the odd hint of Black Keys here (and for that matter elsewhere as well). However, some of the more effective moments occur when the band ease off the gas just a little, such as on the chugging, slightly quirky “Across the Steppe”, “The Expanding Sky”, and the giddy-up levity of the brief but satisfying “Stay Out, What A Sight”.  “Royal Colors”’s loping, practically drone-like early groove makes way for more shredding and is probably the closest here to the acme stoner template (in fact it gets my vote as the album’s most outstanding track), while the closing number “Panoptika” sounds like a hundred hyperactive panel beaters on bonus -  fast, furious, cacophonous and utterly uncompromising. The gear, in other words.

Unlike last year’s cathartic, almost Floyd-like “Comecrudos”, “Echo Ono” may not prove to be the most exceptional albums you’ll hear this year and certainly not the most original. In fact there’s an old adage that less is more, and you wonder how much more effective the boys could be if they deployed their recorded output just a little more sparingly. However as a good, honest, concise and unfussy statement of art it works a treat, and as a live unit they promise to be a mouth-watering prospect. Indeed, I’m eagerly looking forward to their forthcoming tour and in particular their appearance with White Hills at the Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham on Saturday 17th March (9p.m. ’til 2p.m.). That’s a plug by the way - three amped, of course. (Ian Fraser)



(CD/LP from VHF Records www.vhfrecords.com )

Plumping for the more conventional acoustic instrument, Irish guitarist Cian Nugent first came to my attention on the 2010 Robbie Basho tribute “We Are All One In The Sun”. Nugent cites diverse influences from the aforementioned Robbie Basho to The Fall and Black Flag. Well there’s precious little of the latter in evidence here, but what we are treated to are two quite impeccable and compelling compositions over 20 or so minute duration. “Peaks and Troughs” is pretty much entirely a solo piece and is at once insistent and playful, melodic and passionate as Nugent lobs in some nice and nifty Arabic-style licks reminiscent of his late hero Basho. “Sixes and Seven” is more of a band effort, starting with sonorous percussion a tinkling bell and Nugent’s teasing, beguiling guitar and, with woodwind, stings and a modicum of brass, building layer on layer into something more undulating, urgent and ecstatic, dexterous, almost jazz-like in places yet quite unpretentious. It ebbs, it flows, it positively glows. In fact this is all very satisfying, and evidence enough that, along with James Blackshaw, Nugent (that’s Cian, not Ted, remember) is a young guitarist capable of taking on the mantle of true masters of the genre such as Rose and Fahey and current exponents such as Glenn Jones. (Ian Fraser)



(CD/2XLP/MP3 from Agitated Records www.howlinrain.com )

Ex-Comet on Fire and old friend of the Terrascope Ethan Miller and his San Fran honchos return with this their sixth and probably most expansive album yet, as Howlin’ Rain deliver on their commitment to blend elements of Hendrix, Steely Dan and Springsteen into this latest release.

Well there are certainly big dollops of all manner of influences as Miller and co (and with Rick Rubin at the controls) take us on a rollercoaster ride through rock’s hall of fame over eleven, mostly overlong, tracks on which the old album collection receives a bewildering dusting off and no little cutting and shunting. And herein lies the problem. What ought to be targeted and tasteful canapés become such an overblown smorgasbord that you are never sure what the next mouthful brings. This can be thrilling, sure, but it can also be a bit perplexing and somewhat irksome at times.

Things begin promisingly enough with “Self Made Man”, which is probably as thrilling take on 70s rock as you could hope for but which jack-knifes hither and yon between the laid back Frisco vibe of yesteryear (to be welcomed), Fagan/Becker’s less po-faced phrasings (ditto) and a righteously groovy mid-section. If comparisons are your thing, then think Lenny Kravitz fronting the Doobies and Chris Cornell serenading members of Bad Company and Little Feat – all in the same song – and you get some idea of what this is about and what you can expect for much of the rest.

From here-on in it is mixed pickings for me. “Phantom Of The Valley” is competent enough AOR of the pre-mullet era, Miller’s strong yet occasionally overwrought vocals and a nicely melodic chorus being the high-point. There’s also a nice bit of Hammond-style organ in there although it sounds almost incongruous in this setting. Just when you think it’s over, someone stumbles upon the Santana and Tijuana Brass albums in the racks and so it is the coda receives something of a Latin make-over. I’m not entirely sure why I became irritated by “Can’t Satisfy Me”, a slab of cod-soul on which Miller’s white boy blues pipes get to cough out some dust. It’s well performed - it kicks in many of the right places - and you can imagine it going down a storm on “Later..with Jools Holland” or at that Commitments convention. Ah yes, well that probably explains the feeling of uneasiness then. For “Cherokee Werewolf” read “Witchy Woman” without the dusting of coke, while “Strange Thunder” is for the most part a nicely restrained ballad and, despite (no, because of) the lack of histrionics and posturing, one of the album highlights for which I’ll forgive the couple of bars that sound like the quiet bit from “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Two-thirds in it builds into a chug, but one that’s kept in check, the quiet among the storm. “Collage” – an apt title given the amount of cut and paste borrowing employed here - is another strong showing  and one of the more welcome and pleasing sensations of “déjà vu” (yes, it’s them, folks) herein.

And so it goes. The rest of the album ebbs and flows. For the most part it’s passably good. In fact there’s no faulting the execution or for that matter the concept. As a tribute album to 1970s corporate rock and a soundtrack to Rock’s Hall of Fame it works well enough and I’m sure a different pair of ears will thrill to what’s on offer here. Like a good film and indeed many a fine album I suspect this will benefit from multiple exposures in order to fully appreciate all of the nuances and, in time, I may learn to love it. For now though, I am in need of further education. (Ian Fraser)




(CD/LP/DOWNLOAD from Strange Attractors Audio House www.strange-attractors.com )

The third in our triptych of six-stringed driven things comes courtesy of ex-Spatula, Shark Quest and Idyll Swords luminary, Chuck Johnson, and released through our good friends at Strange Attractors. No less accomplished than either Dean McPhee or Cian Nugent’s offerings, “A Struggle Not A Thought” is a more down home affair with a pleasantly pensive feel as exemplified by tracks such as “A Slender Thread” and “Down Or Not At All”, the latter conveying an air of pleasant wistfulness. Dexterity and up-tempo are also in good supply, notably on “Alight In The Nor’Easter”, which neatly counterbalances the more melancholic and reflective likes of “Swallow The Sun” and “Caldera Wires”. My own favourites, though, are the winsome “Ochre Rubric”, which manages to distil and convey all of the moods otherwise presented over 11 tracks and the lively and dynamic closer “The Stars Rose Behind Her”. Although perhaps not as ambitious or experimental as “Doubles” or as striking as “Son Of Black Peace” this is a strong showing all the same, and one that marks Johnson down as one to keep an ear out for in the future.  (Ian Fraser) 



(CD-R from babilscontact@mail.be )

“Qtab”, the follow up to 2007’s “The Joint Between” is the first in a limited edition (150 copies) series of CD-R releases to henceforth be published once or twice yearly by improvisational Belgian sextet, Babils.

Featuring four lengthy pieces of between 10 and 13 minutes and imaginatively titled “Track 1” to “Track 4”, “Qtab” is all rather edgy and more than a little ominous in places. Building slowly into what sounds like an outtake from the Bitches Brew sessions, ”Track 1” features lots of treated, skronky trumpet and deep bass furrows, Track 2 will bring mist to the eye of anyone who remembers the early glory days of Here and Now escapades (Rivington Pike and all that, god bless all of you who served, by the way). Probably the best of the four by a nose, “Track 3” has a very tasty motorik-style groove indeed – a freakier and heavier take on Can’s “One More Saturday Night” that’s welcome here any time of the week (day or night). Track 4 by contrast is riff heaven, and closest in spirit to Hawkwind and the full-on kosmiche experience of the commune bands of yore. It’s another strong showing, and like all the tracks here, is overlaid with some heavily distorted, echoey vocals (courtesy of Gabriel Severin) that would make Wooden Shjips flinch. Experimental yet at the same time quite primal, “Qtab” is a welcome foray into the darker under belly of the psychedelic experience and a bit of monster – albeit a sweet one to these ears. This way to the Freak Out field.  (Ian Fraser)






(both LPs on www.fruitdemerrecords.com )

Continuing their prolific release schedule, Fruit De Mer return again with two more LP's filled with modern takes on old tunes, although this time they take the bold step of remaking a stone cold classic in the shape of “S.F. Sorrow” an album that is no doubt very familiar to our readers, meaning that a new interpretation needs to be of a high standard to please.

The first time I personally heard The Pretty Things psych masterpiece was in a friends room after ingesting some fairly potent acid, as you can imagine the album took me all over the place and has remained burned in my memory banks becoming one of my favourite UK psych albums and one that I never tire of, so it was with some trepidation that I first played this new version, featuring those classic songs covered by a variety of new bands, would I be cringing or would I discover a whole new way to love the album.

Slightly faster than the original, The Luck of Eden Hall stay true to the original as they usher us in with a fine energetic rendition of “SF Sorrow is Born”, the tune nicely lysergic, as is “Bracelets of Fingers” as imagined by Sky Picnic a swirling, suitably trippy cover with some fine guitar and lovely vocals, the addition of sitar and hand percussion adding another layer to the original. Staying firmly on track, “Good Morning” is beautifully rendered by sidewalk Society, some fine keys adding a sparkle of sunshine to the tune before Hi-Fiction Science step up to the plate to deliver a stunning version of “Private Sorrow”, moody and magnificent, a version that takes the original and builds on it, making the song their own without losing touch with The Pretties sound.

More delicate and fragile than the original, Langor take “Balloon Burning” and turn it into a drifting cloud of bliss until they suddenly explode in the chorus, the sudden contrast in sound working perfectly, the guitar suitably demented but maybe too low in the mix. With low droning strings and a sense of tension “Death” is turned into a stately funeral march by The Seventh Ring of Saturn, before “Baron Saturday” is covered with style by Senrab Mendips rounding off the first side and letting me breathe a sigh of relief, happy in the knowledge that Fruit De Mer seem to have pulled it.

Sanctified (and named) by Phil May and Dick Taylor, the album contains an interview with the two original members regarding the making of the album and is obviously a labour of love for all concerned, the bands displaying a sense of enjoyment and pride in being involved in the project, which is certainly impressing me so far, let's see how side two fares.

Easing us in gently, Extra offer a relaxed and mellow version of “The Journey” that is subtle and beautifully produced, at least until the noisy coda, whilst Earthling Society go for the space rock jugular on the guitar-fest of “I See You”, stamping their own sound on the tune.

Tripped out and lovely, “Well of Destiny” is made strange and acid-fried, very much like I first heard it, by Jay Tausig, before The Gathering Grey Sound like they are an original sixties band on “Trust”, remaining faithful to the original yet sounding like the Beatles!!

With acoustic guitars to the fore, “Old Man Going” is filled with power and emotion in the hands of King Penguin, before The Loons bring it all to a close with their delightful version of “Loneliest Person” , the frail vocals working perfectly with the guitar sound.

As a bonus, The album includes a version of “Loneliest Person” recorded by The Pretty Things in Dec 2010, nice to hear and a lovely way to finish.
For those who love the original, this is a testament to the power of the songs and the esteem in which they are held by a whole new crop of psych bands. For those who may not of heard the album before, this is a stunning collection that gets better every time, a win/win situation for everyone involved.

Released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Brain Records, although featuring covers of bands not on the label, as well as those that were, “Head Music” is a sprawling double LP, featuring 29 tracks with songs originally by Amon Duul, Tangerine Dream, Jane, Neu (amongst others), covered by modern bands in the now traditional Fruit De Mer style.

After a very strange and suitably Kraut introduction from Eroc , drummer with Grobschnitt , we are blasted into Kraut rock heaven by Johnny Vines who covers “Waterfall” (Jane) in a rocky space style, before Earthling Society do what they do best with “Paramechanical World” (Amon Duul 1), turning it into a trippy space-rock gem, complete with analogue synths and drifting West-Coast guitar flourishes.

Staying in the same vein, Jay Tausig Handles “surrounded by the Stars” (Amon Duul 2) beautifully, retaining a subtle splendour, whilst Electric Moon ensure an early favourite with their version of “Madrigal Meridian” (Tangerine Dream), sequencers running through the brain to hypnotic perfection. To round of Side 1, “Trans Europe Express” is made much shorter by Anla Courtis, turning into a lo-fi psych track that lasts under three minutes.

Always reliable, the wonderful Vibravoid make my synapses dance with their version of “Nearby Shiras” (Kalacakra), sounding like early Pink Floyd, complete with drifting flute and whispered vocals.. Having never heard the original I have no idea how close to it this version is, but I bloody love it. After the short but sweet rendition of “Lila Engel” (Neu) by Palace of Swords, and an equally lovely version of “I Want More” (Can) by Saturn's Ambush, we are treated to a magnificent version of “Silver Cloud” (La Dusseldorf), Powerful, Spacey and hypnotic, like all good Kraut-Rock should be, the sweetness never lost to the noise as Frobisher Neck Heads South by Weaving, cast their spell with ease. To End side 2, Dead Sea Apes take us for a ride amongst the clouds, blissed out and smiling, with their delightful, slowly rising version of “RuckStob Gondoliero” (Kraftwerk).

To kick of the second album, the sequencers are set running for a wonderful take on “Bayreuth Returns”, (Klaus Schulze), classic seventies synth heaven guaranteed as Black Tempest take you deep into the heart of the cosmos, spacious and beautiful in their execution, whilst Zenith: Unto the Stars leave you floating in a cloud of space dust, very chilled and lost in time, their perfect beautiful rendition of “Mantra 2” (Popol Vuh) immaculate with its timeless guitar and washes of sound.

Taking an altogether stranger path, Language of Light re-create “Mushroom” (Can) in a more experimental vein, becoming more disjointed and fractured than the original, making for an awesome trio of tunes on side three. The strength of the side is confirmed by the final track “Negativland” (Neu) which retains it hypnotic power in the hands of Temple Music, distorted guitar and strange noises only adding to the fun as bass and drums hold court in your brain.

Ok, onto side 4, which begins in splendid fashion as Vert:X get all spacey and heavy with their cover of “Dino” (Harmonia), the guitars set to Hawkwind and everybody louder than everybody else, just as it should be. Next up, “Schizo” (Ash Ra Tempel) is a slowly swirling cloud of sound in the hands of Frobisher Neck, easily living up to the original, whilst Electric Orange cover a very obscure piece in the shape of “Lied An Zons” (Arno Clauss), complete with German speech and some fine drumming. To end it all, Terrascope favourite Bevis Frond ensures that “China” (Electric sandwich) is a beautiful guitar-fest, 8 minutes of simmering power and delicate touches, ending the album on a high.

To be honest, I have probably only heard two thirds of the tracks on this album, and some of those only once or twice, so it is hard to say how these version compare to the originals. That seems to be beside the point however, this collection keeps the spirit of Kraut alive and is a fantastic collection of quality sounds that deserves a place in your collection. (Simon Lewis)





(CDs from Pink Hedgehog www.pinkhedgehog.com)

Mondojetset is the duo comprised of former Garfield’s Birthday member James Laming and Mark Robins. Their third album (following an earlier effort when they were known as Marlowe) delivers another set of quirky pop tunes, beginning with the martial stomp and Spanish-style guitar interludes of ‘The Heart Refused To Budge’, then prancing around the room on the back of a whistling introduction to title track (of sorts) ‘Funny Ha Ha, Bed Sitting Room’. This one could fool the staunchest Luna fan into thinking that the pair found this in a box full of Dean Wareham’s discarded ideas.

Accordions, glockenspiels, brass, and kazoos interject themselves in the oddest places and fit perfectly within their surroundings, while more traditional noisemakers like piano, bass, and guitar weave magical spells around literate, if occasionally obtuse lyrics that name check Lou Reed and Mark Smith.

‘I Danced in a Secular Fashion’ is a warm, nostalgic ballad that fondly mixes the best of Belle & Sebastian with the dearly beloved Sarah imprint and the mournful instrumental ‘The Shame of Clive’ tugs at the heartstrings like the last sunset of the summer. But it’s not a maudlin album – the collection of charming tunes and endearing vocals is economically produced with an air of vintage Simon & Garfunkle, who might’ve done wonders with ‘Girl Overrated’, which, along with ‘My Life After Alex’ suggest the lads may be recovering from a personal loss. If this is their exorcism, they’ve managed to create a musical eulogy that should be cradled to the bosom and cherished as much as their departed friend. (Jeff Penczak)




(CD from Pink Hedgehog www.pinkhedgehog.com)

Lacey opens his eighth album with his own radio advert (LAC-FM, home of “new and improved Lacey Vision”), and the album flows like a pseudo concept album about listening to the radio whilst spending the day at the beach. Imagine Viv Stanshall or Monty Python doing those adverts at Radio One when The Who recorded Sell Out! The title track is as laidback as a stroll along the ocean in the warm rays of the setting sun and Lacey tosses in some nostalgic poetry/commentary courtesy the two-part ‘Notes From Cornwall.’ There are catchy pop ditties that echo vintage McCartney (‘There’s A Feeling’, ‘An Open Heart’), Beach Boys-inflected sunshine pop, and flourishes of Olivia Tremor Control, ca. Dusk At Cubist Castle. In other words, everything a self-respecting Terrascope reader lives to hear – all delivered with a fresh perspective that doesn’t slavishly copy his influences, but proudly wears them on his sleeve for all to admire.

‘Come What May’ and ‘Time, Less Reason’ are tender chillout ballads – just what the doctor ordered after a day of too much sun, frolicking with beach bunnies and bodysurfing in the cool ocean waves. I can certainly hear the dulcet brogue of Alan Davidson covering the former on his next Kitchen Cynic s release, and the searing guitar solo proves Lacey is much more than just another pretty voice with a knack for unforgettable melodies. I also love the soulful strains of the Paul Welleresque ‘Why?’, and the heart tugging, ‘Naomi’s Song’ works equally well as an adorable valentine to a wife or daughter.

So whatever your destination this summer, be sure to take We Are The Sand along for your soundtrack. (Jeff Penczak)




(CDs from Hand/Eye www.darkhollerarts.com)

Comprising Madame B (Sophie Nadaud) and Neddal (The Does), The Desolation Singers are a dark forest duo whose music blends drone, acoustic guitars, distortion and distant vocals into a otherwordly whole, as if heard through a thick fog, the music sometimes lost, distant or imagined. After the spectral opening tones of “The Hanged Man”, the music begins to dissolve further as “Circle of Crows” creeps, fungus-like, I nto your bones, slow-motion folk that is wyrd and wonderful in equal measure, a simple repeated guitar chord sequence acting as a heartbeat to the song. Repeating the process “Tear You Up” sounds like an ancient invocation, whilst the title track itself has a touch of Siouxsie Sioux in the vocal performance. Fans of Dark Holler, Hand / Eye, will know that the label releases always have a special magic to them, with this one being no exception, a fine collection of tunes that is rounded of by TimeMOTHeye, joining the duo on “Shaking Tree”, the familiar sound of the banjo completing the disc with studied perfection.

Released as a companion disc to “The Night Birds Psalm” and comprising a mix of new and old songs, “Who Is Listening” features the beautiful vocals of Sarada, who was unable to attend the sessions for the companion album, her sweet tones mixing wonderfully with the deep voice of TimeMOTHeye (and that of Brooke Elizabeth), giving the songs a delicacy, the voices dancing over the instrumentation in a way that reminds me of the work of Sharron Kraus, the comparison noticable in the lyrical content also.

Amongst the many highlights on offer “Call the Fallen Wood, Touch the Cold Bones” stands out, the rhythm of the banjo finding its way deep within you, whilst the traditional “Coffin Sound” is given the Stone Breath treatment, emerging as a truly powerful song, sounding like Kaleidoscope (U.S) playing at a pagan mushroom festival.

After the brief, but wonderful “Thunder Runs Through Me”, the band reach perfection, for me, on the sublime “Leaves About Our Feet, We Reached For The Moon”, voices and instrumentation in total harmony, the tune gentle and as sweet as the wind rustling the leaves on an autumn day. To end the disc, “Sixteen Hooves” explores the Wyrd, a fine lysergic slice of dark-folk, creeping and delicious in its creepiness, twisting through the synapses with dark purpose, the spirit of early Kevin Ayers apparent in its groove.

As good as the previous two albums are, and believe me they are really good, I have saved the best to last. “The Night Birds Psalms” is nothing short of a masterpiece, a contender for album of the year and one of the best offerings ever from the Stone Breath stable.

Featuring 12 songs there is a bright accessibility to this collection, the power of the band not diminshed at all, yet somehow transformed into a more focused unit, giving the melody preference over the strange, allowing the strength of the writing to shine through.

Also adding to the magic is the blending of voices as TimeMOTHeye, Prydwyn, Elizabeth Brookes and Carin Wagner Sloane (The Iditarod) sing in perfect harmony, their voices creating new harmonies and wondrous visions in the mind, this deep magic easily found throughout the album. With such clarity of purpose to be had it is almost impossible to single out tracks, although the dark humour of “To Sleep With Skeletons” had me smiling, whilst the delicate strangeness of “Weaving the Mothshroud” entranced me completely.

Managing to sound both like a long lost acid-folk classic and as a completely new strain of folk music, it is the very timeless quality of the album that will be its future strength, best heard around a crackling fire nightfall burning visions in your soul. (Simon Lewis)




CD (www.threeminutetease.com)

On paper, the pairing of Anton Barbeau and The Soft Boys' rhythm section of Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor seems like an excellent idea - and thankfully it is, as the rather excellent psych-pop nuggets on this release reveal. Managing to sharpen the sweeter edges of Anton's songs, without reaching the vitriolic heights of some of Robyn Hitchcock's early output, there is a solidness within that allows the songs to take off without becoming lost in their own ideas, grounded and softly lysergic at the same time.

On the wonderful opener, “Love is an Onion” there is a whiff of patchouli, a splash of day-glo and a big smile, a warm and fluid bass line holding the song together, whilst some fine lead guitar from Nick Saloman only adds to the quality. The excellent foundations are further cemented on “Milko II”, a sad and moody affair, bitter sweet in its delivery, a mix of 1970 Floyd and the Beatles, the drums giving the song its heartbeat with cool precision.

Slightly sillier and surreal “Thanks for Lifting my Leg” is a rockin' affair that needs volume, the lyrics leaving you guessing what is coming next, whilst “Dust Beneath my Wings” is a beautiful ditty, that has a hint of The Egyptians in its groove and construction, a good thing to these ears.

Stepping into 1970 “My Potato” could be a hit single if the band happen to have access to a time machine, (which they obviously don't or I would be reviewing a re-issue), so catchy is the tune, getting your feet tapping and your mouth grinning with happiness. With a softly spoken piano refrain, “These Alien Angels” is a delight that fades far too soon, the mood broken by “Sensual Pleasure of Pie” which comes on like a outtake from Sgt Pepper, before turning into a classy tune about pies and their wonder, possibly. After the loveliness of “Dig My Bones”, a tune where the lyrics are at odds with the melody, “Up on the Moon” is a slowly twisting thing of beauty, simple and very effective, before the album wraps up with “Queen of Apples” another surreal ditty that is arranged perfectly, filled with sunshine and a joy to hear.

With all the songs written by Mr Barbeau, there is a cohesiveness to this collection, the songs some of the finest I have heard from the man, the band enjoying themselves with the experience of the players ensuring everything is as it should be, creating a damn fine album for lovers of melodic psych with a twist of weird. Perfect for sunny afternoons, this also sound great whilst driving, especially if you fancy singing along as the scenery rolls by. (Simon Lewis)