Tag: power-pop

Album review: The Rogue State Circus

THE ROGUE STATE CIRCUSSongs From The Sea Of Storms[self-released] Northants’ Rogue State Circus have been defiantly avoiding genre categorisation since 2009. Their latest album Songs From The Sea Of Storms…

THE ROGUE STATE CIRCUS
Songs From The Sea Of Storms
[self-released]

Northants’ Rogue State Circus have been defiantly avoiding genre categorisation since 2009. Their latest album Songs From The Sea Of Storms is a delectable smorgasbord, incorporating 12 tracks of indie, power-pop, folk and Americana – and serves them up as a cohesive whole.

The retro keys that introduce opener ‘St Jude’s Blues’ give proceedings a distinctly 1960s feel, and combined with the country twang on the guitar provides a rather sinister tone. The type of song you’d expect to find in a Tarantino film, it’s a walk through the dark side of Americana. John Delaney’s vocals mirror the music’s ululation, and evolve from a gargling growl to falsetto high notes…and all in one line! The multi-layered sound is akin to an octopus’s tentacles that entwine and hold the listener captive. The pure pop perfection of ‘Sunday Driver’ follows, yet its buoyancy is tempered with a dark edge, something indefinable yet ever present. If ‘St Jude’s Blues’ didn’t win you over then ‘Sunday Driver’ will.

Still led by the indefatigable singer-songwriter Jon Delaney, Rogue State Circus have had an ever-changing line-up and perhaps this accounts for their kaleidoscopic output. However eclectic things become though there’s a common lyrical thread that stitches the album together. That’s best exemplified by the following two tracks, ‘London Bridge’ with it’s nod to ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Downhearted In The Uplands Of Love’ which, like Ray Davies at his most expressive, explores the minutiae of modern life. ‘I’ll Be Happy To Stay With You’ picks up it’s feet for a swirling neo-psychedelic sound before the wistful and whimsical ‘It’s All Over Town’ and it’s quintessentially English understated humour.

Adding some female vocals [courtesy of Karen Angela] gives ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ a nice warm texture and brings to mind that lazy summer’s day vibe of Division Bell-era Pink Floyd. In opposition the evocative and cinematic ‘Only A Matter Of Time’, with its soulful 80s vocals, seems tailor-made for a lonely walk through a neon-lit metropolis. The dramatic ‘Red Sky’ carries a lot of Irish folk inflections, and juxtaposes the power-pop of ‘La La Life’. An infectious backbeat and a joyful guitar line carries the song forward and, with Karen Angela again adding her vocal talents, reminds me of an effervescent Blondie.

The short and snappy ‘The Goodbye Note’ is another infectious tune that would have made a perfect album closer but, in a tension of opposites that defines Songs From The Sea Of Storms, that honour goes to the elongated ‘Great Expectations’. Clocking in at over six minutes it gives Rogue State Circus an opportunity to flex their musical muscles and build a substantial sonic structure. Peppered with Eastern flourishes it’s a song that fades to a rather ominous ending that promises more than it concludes.

Songs From The Sea Of Storms is the second album in a trilogy (tentatively titled Lunar Sea) that began with 2011’s Songs From The Sea Of Serenity. This latest opus is a worthy addition to the Rogue State Circus canon and is a tantalising taster for the third instalment…but hopefully they won’t make us wait another 9 years!

Peter Dennis

Songs From The Sea Of Storms is out now via Bandcamp, see below

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New Music Friday: The Sunchymes

The Sunchymes is the psychedelic/power-pop project of Northamptonshire artist Aaron. Three albums over seven years have been met with much critical acclaim, and he’s back with a brand new single…

The Sunchymes is the psychedelic/power-pop project of Northamptonshire artist Aaron. Three albums over seven years have been met with much critical acclaim, and he’s back with a brand new single ‘Masquerade’. Time for a New Boots chat, then.

How did you get this project together?
I started in 2007 after a band I was in split up. I had lots of songs written and I wanted to record some albums and release them.

How/where do you record?
Mainly in my home studio.

How would you describe your sound? You had a very particular mission statement when you set out to “distill the songwriting and musical values espoused by The Beach Boys on ‘Pet Sounds’ and The Beatles on ‘Sgt Pepper'”.
My main influences are definitely The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Byrds. I think there are influences from all these bands in my music, but with my take on those sounds.

There’s been three albums since 2009. The reaction to them has been fantastic, that must spur you on…
Yeah, it was a pleasant surprise that there are people out there that like my music. It does spur me on, but I love writing songs in any case.

You’ve dropped your toe back in the water this year with ‘Try’ and now ‘Masquerade’. Do you like this approach to putting music out, i.e. whenever you feel like it?
I do and it’s great that anyone can do this in the modern age with the likes of Bandcamp and CDBaby, etc.

What is ‘Masquerade’ about, may we ask?
It’s basically about a toxic relationship where the bad person pretends they have changed but ultimately it’s found they have not and the person is unmasked.

You began a side project last year, an indie-psych trio called The Paperweight Array. Can you tell us briefly about that, and how you approach it as a separate thing from The Sunchymes?
Yeah, I have really enjoyed doing that. I wanted to do something with a slightly darker edge, so I called up some old friends. Luckily they were up for doing the project. The Sunchymes has probably taken a back seat over the last couple of years as a result of it though.

Being a solo artist it must be tough to bring the full sonic vision to the stage?
Yeah definitely. I do solo acoustic gigs, so the songs are really stripped back. However some of them work really nicely, and it’s good to get out and play them to new audiences and meet people on the scene.

What has been your favourite Sunchymes moment to date?
That’s a difficult one. On one hand I would say recording the second album was the best time [2012’s Let Your Free Flag Fly]. On the other hand playing at the International Pop Overthrow Festival at The Cavern Club [2014] was great too.

What was the last “new” album you bought/streamed?
Cabin Life by Linus of Hollywood

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have for 2019?
To keep writing songs, and hopefully do another album, as well as playing a few gigs.

 

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Video premiere: The Keepers ‘You’re All I Need’

Northampton quartet The Keepers release their fifth single ‘You’re All I Need’ tomorrow, Friday October 26th. New Boots is the place to exclusively see the accompanying video first. Shot by Alex…

Northampton quartet The Keepers release their fifth single ‘You’re All I Need’ tomorrow, Friday October 26th. New Boots is the place to exclusively see the accompanying video first.

Shot by Alex Bass [and with single artwork by Nallie Simpson], there is a limited edition 7” version of the single available by contacting the band themselves on social media [£7 plus postage and packaging].

We asked singer/guitarist Jordan Jones about the song. “‘You’re All I Need’ was written back in February and we added it into the setlist that same month. We really knuckled down with releasing music this year. We recorded it in June and decided to do it properly and release it on vinyl.” 

He continues: “2018 has been a fantastic year for us so far. We’ve still got a few more months to go until we can crack open a bottle of wine and put our feet up for a few weeks. We always make a list each year of things we want to achieve and so far they’ve all been ticked off – I’m really quite exciting for what we’re planning for next year!”

You can catch the band play a hometown show at The Roadmender on Friday December 7th.

The Keepers on Facebook. Cover photo by Neil McCarty

 

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Record review: The Hurricanes

THE HURRICANES Let’s Go! [self-released] Recorded in their practice room, Northampton quartet The Hurricanes – aka Robert Jones [singing/guitar], Dammo Clarke [guitar], Neil Robinson [drums], and Tony Norton [bass] – have unleashed…

THE HURRICANES
Let’s Go! [self-released]

Recorded in their practice room, Northampton quartet The Hurricanes – aka Robert Jones [singing/guitar], Dammo Clarke [guitar], Neil Robinson [drums], and Tony Norton [bass] – have unleashed their debut album after a quiet period of gestation. Songs were worked on, refined, and put to tape over the past year, away from the glare of expectation. 

Three-quarters of the band cut their teeth in local ’90s Britpopish band Collide, but it is the mod revival sound of ’79 onwards that The Hurricanes mine for their sound. The Prisoners probably sit at the head of that table, as the opening [title] track sets out. Slashing power chords, agitated vocals, a pummelling rhythm section: it’s all here. And the band The Prisoners are usually mentioned alongside – The Jam – is there on track two, ‘This Is The Time’, with the 100 Club spit’n’pogo energy, alongside a no holds-barred rumbling bassline. A handclap breakdown appears mid-song too, giving it a dose of The Chords-esque soul in amongst the bludgeoning guitar noise.

‘Felicity Paige’ has a great, undeniable chorus chant, straight out of the Graham Day handbook. Robinson’s drumming is the key to this stomper, all elbows flying about in the authentic Moon-style. ‘Is There A Why In Your Mynd?’ gives a nod to The Creation, The Eyes and John’s Children with a ’60s freakbeat vigour and stinging fuzz solo. It goes a bit psychedelic at the end too, which is a nice touch. The aggression is toned down somewhat on ‘Staring At The Stars’, with a forlorn lead vocal and some sweet Who-esque backing vocal lines. It’s quite reminiscent of former Prisoner Allan Crockford’s contemporary band The Galileo 7, actually. ‘Taking Care of Business’ is a good summation of what’s happening throughout this album.

Considering this is effectively a home production, with resultant occasionally muddy sound [proper authentic garage-band, you might say] Let’s Go! is something to be properly proud of. It’s direct hits from the past, yesterdays’s sound tomorrow. And jolly, vibrant good fun it is too. They ain’t half bad live too, should you get a chance to catch them.

Phil Moore

[P.S.: Current Northampton Saints coach Chris Boyd was appointed whilst still boss of New Zealand team The Hurricanes, based in Wellington. A cosmic coincidence, worthy of a brief mention]

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