Papernut Cambridge go exploito psychedelia


I have to admit that after having ordered the latest Papernut Cambridge 10 inch vinyl album “Mellotron Phase: Volume 1” I ddi not listen carefully at first. My only excuse is that I was still trying to wrap my head around their previous release, the 77 minute track “Everything You Say Is Lyrics, Anything You Touch Is Art.” In fact, I am still trying with that one!

In addition, the new album was presented not so much as a major release, but more as just a homage to the library genre.
Well, it is that. But I should have known better than to not give it a concentrated listen anyway. Papernut Cambridge do a lot of homage stuff – to glam, to cheesy pop, to the 1960s – but there is always a skewed perspective that makes things interesting.
And this release is no different. It is in fact quite excellent.

My very limited library music collection mostly extends to Electric Banana albums on Music De Wolfe, a few KPM originals from the 60s/70s, and maybe a handfull of scattered reissues. So I am probably missing upwards of 90% of the library references here.
Nevertheless, what I hear is music that samples genres such as exploito-psychedelia, instrumental pepperisms, slightly funky rhythms, and more progressive sounds in typical late 60s to early 70s library music fashion.

However, throughout the whole thing, the musical ideas are more developed than the sound sketches I often find on library albums. There is also a consequent lyrical tone that makes this stand on its own. And while the Mellotron is prominently featured, there’s quite a lot going on with other instruments as well.

So while you go into this expecting instrumental novelties amounting to little more than a Mellotron demo album, you come out of it with a genuine experience.

Unfortunately, the original vinyl copies are already sold out, but you should still get the repress or the digital version. And while you are at the Papernut Cambridge Bandcamp site, take a look at their label, Gare Du Nord Records. It is all rather divergent, but consistently worthwhile and frequently brilliant. Honestly!

Beautiful sentimental crap

I needed to save up some space on my music server and actually considered deleting the better part of my Chinese collection. Unfortunately, I started with checking out some Zhou Hong-albums. Needless to say, I ended up deleting nothing … can’t help it, but this sentimental crap just breaks my heart. And I love how Chinese and American country music basically is the same thing, when it comes to chord changes and production values.

Edward Penfold’s barrettesque backyard


It is impossible to write about Edward Penfold without mentioning Syd Barrett. Penfold’s voice, tonally gliding down and then up for emphasis here and there, and the detached yet personally observational lyrics, are all pure Syd.

On Penfold’s debut album “Caulkhead” that influence was fittingly wrapped in shambolic recording techniques and untuned instrument sounds. And it worked like a charm.

Although the new album “Denny Isle Drive” remains in ‘denial drive’ when it comes to what century we live in, it is much better recorded than the debut and contains considerably less out-of-tunefullness. But adding an element of order turns out to be a stroke of genius, especially as it is still beautifully juxtaposed with chaos.
Whereas barrettesque twists and rhythmical turns are kept firmly in place, the beauty of the arrangements and the pastoral brilliance of the songwriting open doors to hitherto undiscovered psychedelic backyards.

The lyrical themes on “Denny Isle Drive” are simultaneously lucid and solipsistic, as is well illustrated on the track “Betsy’s Linen,” sung in an unevenly metered out voice:

“Mixing my words with my drinks
And poured it all down the sink
A fleeting moment to think
Now I find
Left behind
A piece of mind

I’ve got something to say
It’s on the tip of my tongue
The teeth and the lips and I’m done
The only thing is, when I open my mouth
The words that I found are gone

I don’t mind”

Throughout, there is a fragile balance between homage and inventiveness, and where Edward Penfold will go next is anyone’s guess. But right now he is mining pure gold. A 24 carat instant classic.

The best Pugwash album since ‘Jollity’


My first reaction when listening to the new Pugwash album “Silverlake” was: Wow!!

After a few more listens, I liked it even better. So brace yourself for a volley of superlatives if you read on.

Many artists make a couple of inspired albums and then get lost when trying to figure out to what to do next. Thomas Walsh – who on many levels is the embodiment of Pugwash – does not have this problem. He just tries to do one thing, and that is to make The Perfect Pop Album In The Sky With Diamonds.
Hence, in an almost Zen-like way, his creativity seems always focused on how to get there, rather than wasted on thinking about where to go.

A band who famously set out to emulate pop perfected by giants was of course Badfinger. But whereas they suffered from – and ultimately were destroyed by – being in the shadow of the Beatles, Thomas Walsh uses his giants as shoulders to stand on.

Sometimes he focuses more on evoking his inner XTC; in other cases it could be his Kinks or his ELO. But rather than compete, he instead uses those giants of pop to channel inspiration.

As a result, there are opportunities for new angles and new ways for Thomas to challenge himself.
At least on “Sliverlake” that is definitely the case. Not only is he channeling his inner Jason Falkner; the new album is made as a duo with the man himself. While standing on Jason’s shoulders, he is employing the giant, lock stock and barrel.

The results really do sound fresh. To Thomas’ baritone, guitars and Mellotron, Jason is adding basically everything else – and that includes engineering, production and mixing.

But despite sprightly arrangements and a crisp production, this album is all about the songs. On my second day of listening, I was staying at a hotel and just put the album on through the tinny speaker on my iPhone. Normally, I would not stand listening that way, but with “Silverlake” the melodies just continue to shine regardless.

I would say this is the best Pugwash album since “Jollity”. It is that good!

Michael Head = magic

Så har då äntligen årets mest efterlängtade platta landat. 11 år efter mästerliga “The Corner Of Miles And Gil” med Shack och två år efter haveriet med “The Olde World” som skulle samla ihop överblivet material från minst lika härliga “The Magical World of the Strands” från 1997. Det var därför svårt att tro på detta innan man faktiskt hade plattan i händerna. Men det är sant, den är här nu.

Och trots strul, alkoholproblem och otäckt tyngre drogmissbruk är det tveklöst Michael Head som är tillbaka. Detta är inte hans bästa platta. Hans röst låter dessutom om möjligt ännu mer som tappad bakom en ullkofta. Men “Adiós Señor Pussycat” är ändå i en klass för sig.

Om jag förstår rätt har skivan spelats in i omgångar under flera års tid, men den låter ändå sammanhållen och konsekvent. Trots att en del av spåren är ganska ambitiöst arrangerade, är ljudet däremot ganska luddigt och det känns inte som det har funnits någon större budget för mixen.

Men vad gör väl såna detaljer när låtmaterialet är så starkt. Öppningsspåret “Picasso” har samma tidlösa kvalitet som the Strands och redan andra spåret “Overjoyed” skulle platsa på vilken Shack-platta som helst. Plattans enda cover, nordirländska folklåten “Wild Mountain Thyme”, blir dessutom i händerna på Head britpop på ett helt annat plan än någonsin Oasis.

Köp därför genast “Adiós Señor Pussycat” och se till att den blir den bästsäljare den förtjänar att vara. Och skaffa sedan allt annat som popgeniet Michael Head har gjort. Absolut allt!