The album art on the front sleeve of the new album by FLDPLN shows a young person on an escalator, presumably going down based upon the direction this young person is facing. The direction this album should be going in the charts is up. If you like some chill electro-pop, then this is the album for you.
FLDPLN (“field-plan”) is the solo project of Andrew Saks, the former frontman of Southern California shoegaze band Sway. This album was written, produced, recorded and mixed by Andrew Saks at his home studio in Phoenix, Arizona. FLDPLN is truly a one-man-band.
“Escalator is really the result of my years of dabbling in electronic music production combined with my desire to reconnect with my roots, having been a saxophone player for most of my life,” Andrew tells us.
“For this album, I wanted to write songs that are true to the way I hear things in my head, dreamy, blurry, beautiful without compromise and incorporate the horn as a textural instrument as well as another melodic voice.”
I am on board with Andrew Saks; I like what I hear in my head when I listen to Escalator. It takes me away to a nice place where I can float along blissfully chilled out. Tasteful digital music samples are combined with layers of saxophone and synthesizers to paint a pleasant audio picture.
I have enjoyed putting this album on play and going about some of my regular everyday tasks. Escalator makes a great platform to build my day on. I can hear what Andrew Saks has to offer while taking care of some of the mundane activities of my life.
Escalator is available for your listening pleasure via the Sillas Famosas label through online music stores.
The music created by the Sons of Southern Ulster goes down like a fine whiskey, aged to perfection with all the right ingredients. Turf Accountant Schemes, the new EP from the Sons has all the right ingredients. I have never been to Bailieborough, County Cavan, Ireland, but I have been flat out drunk on my back staring at Polaris and wishing I were at home. Good music soars in strange and beautiful ways to connect with the listeners on some visceral level that can not be explained, so much as felt. Having said that, I will now try to explain it.
Sons of Southern Ulster area couple of musicians from Ireland. Collectively they are, Justin Kelly pummelling us with searing and soaring vocals, David Meagher tastefully adding the guitar palette, Noel Larkin beating the notes into submission on drums and Paddy Glackin holding it all together on a thumping kick-ass bass guitar. Together they explore themes of regret and disappointment, interspersed with moments of light and insight in the EP Turf Accountant Schemes.
Pete Briquette is an Irish bassist, record producer, composer and a member of The Boomtown Rats. As an anecdotal rabbit trail, I went to see The Boomtown Rats when they promoted The Fine Art of Surfacingon tour in 1980. We had consumed more than a few bottles of liquid enhancement, and while I was ramped up for the show, my friend did something I have never seen since. He fell asleep in the middle of the show. I think the lads in Sons of Southern Ulster mightbe able to relate to that. Pete is originally from Ballyjamesduff in County Cavan, and the Sons of Southern Ulster are from the nearby community of Bailieborough.
Justin Kelly, “The first music I ever bought was the ‘Like Clockwork’ single by the Boomtown Rats when I was twelve or thirteen. I was obsessed with The Rats so when Pete Briquette reached out to ask if he could remix a few tracks from our ‘Sinners and Lost Souls‘ album, we were absolutely shocked. Apparently, a mutual friend has passed the album on to him, and he was suitably intrigued. Pete also grew up in Cavan, a lot of the references and the tone.
Lyrically, the songs are very “Cavan” in that they are on the surface often quite harsh but contain a lot of dark humour,”
“I remember when the Boomtown Rats broke through. At that time, it was highly unusual for an Irish band to make it in Britain. But for a Cavan man to be there!!! That was just bizarre. Cavan men were made to be farmers – not No.1 pop stars.”
“In Sons of Southern Ulster, we took a very conscious decision to sing songs about Cavan as it was always a bit underserved, not just in music but in infrastructure and resources. In many ways, the Irish government ignored us and left us to our own devices – for better or worse. I think Pete picked up on that,” says David Meagher.
The government may have ignored Cavan, but I can not ignore Turf Accountant Schemes. It consists of only four tracks of searing music that tell stories that only hearts can bear to hear. Stories of lives well spent juxtaposed against songs of pain and misery. Songs about life would sum that up pretty well. I may not understand all the geography or the customs and habits of Covan, but I know good music when I hear it. This EP sloshes about like the head on a pint of ale on a summer afternoon, and the tales we tell each other ramble on becoming larger upon each telling. I hope that the Sons of Southern Ulster keep this tradition going.
Harry Stafford and Marco Butcher have never actually met in the flesh. But they are punk soul brothers from the same muddy musical pond. Connecting with one another during a year of ‘lockdown hell’, their exchange of ideas and talk of musical influences inadvertently led to their collaboration.
As innovative juices began to boil, the frenetic exchange of digital files culminated in‘Bone Architecture’, a 12-track album that both of them had been itching to make. This superb collection includes reworked older material, brand-new compositions and even a dirty blues version of the Pink Floyd classic ‘Arnold Layne’. Ahead of the album, the duo present lead single ‘There’s Someone Tryin To Get In’with video created by Stafford.
“For me, this record is a blast of energy with a cool raw groove that I have been itching to express for a while and, with Marco Butcher, I found the perfect collaborator to express it. His garage punk soul music, fused with jazz and swing was the tonic I needed after the doldrums of the last year and a half. The songs we put together fell into place like puzzle pieces in a fuzzed up sonic soundscape,” says Harry Stafford.
Best known as founder, guitarist and vocalist of Manchester post-punk gothic rockersInca Babies, Harry’s two most recent solo albums (‘Guitar Shaped Hammers’ and ‘Gothic Urban Blues’) reflect a cooler, less frenetic vibe, leaning on piano, trumpets and blues guitar. All this made him the perfect collaborator to set words and lyrics to Marco’s sonic backdrop.
Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Marco Butcher now lives in Winston Salem, North Carolina. A prolific recording artist, he has recently released music with his various acts: The Jam Messengers, Chicken Snake, and The Jesus and The Groupies. Centred around the American underground of blues, jazz, rockabilly, and screaming punk blues, he has collaborated with Hugo Race, as well as members of Tex and the Horseheads, Pussy Galore, Gumball, The Gories, Gibson Brothers, Jerry Teel, The Oblivians and The Workdogs.
‘Bone Architecture’ is a collection of songs that is raw and, at times, an unforgiving forage into urban punk blues with fuzzed up jazz and garage trash rock. Here, Harry and Marco’s styles have clashed magnificently into a powerful record that crosses a multitude of genres but with a dirty blues makeover.
“There’s something about collaborating that is pure magic to me, cause you’re not sharing ideas at the same time and you’re in the moment. There’s something about the not knowing what the other will bring . . the surprise factor. The fact that music is very elastic and not always the way ya listen to it in your mind but something else, something cooler, greater,” says Marco Butcher.
“I guess mutual respect has a lot to do it too, sharing the same type of ideas about music and life… For a period of time, Inca Babies ‘This Train’ was my bandstand music when I was crossing a very dark and dangerous lifestyle, when I decided NOT to die. This album was the one I listened to the most.”
Marco’s tracks were recorded at his Boombox Studio in Winston Salem, then shipped by a well-known bulk file sender to Manchester, where Harry laid down vocals, piano and any instrumental tomfoolery he saw fit at Black Lagoon Records. On four occasions, the files also flew to London for supremo trumpet player Kevin Davy to lay some jazz tones into the mix. After the engineering, agonising, production and debates, they were finally mastered by Marco.
As of August 6, ‘There’s Someone Tryin To Get In’ will be available everywhere online, includingSpotify and Apple Music. The ‘Bone Architecture’ LP will be released on September 3 via Black Lagoon Records, both digitally and on CD. CDs can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp and the Louder than War shop.
CREDITS Harry Stafford – vocals, piano, guitar Marco Butcher – drums, percussion, bass, sax, guitars, vibraphone Kevin Davy – horns Written by Harry Stafford and Marco Butcher Produced and Mastered by Marco Butcher at Boombox Studio Catalogue no. BLRCD0055
When I opened the P.R. packet for the album HR by the Irish multi-talented artist Meljoann, I hoped for something new and fresh to give my ears a head start heading into the weekend. Today is Friday, album drop day. After a long road trip yesterday and oppressive heat outside today, I was looking forward to listening to Meljoann’s new album in the cool, calm solitude of my basement (*) and finding out who she is and what kind of sound she is making.
And her sound is… It isn’t straightforward. I am not getting a stroll through the Irish countryside with Meljoann giving me a guided tour. No, that is not what I hear on H.R. What I hear is the painful laments of a working woman…
When I strolled through her back catalogue, I found that this refrain about a toxic workplace is on the par for Meljoann. Somewhere in her life cycle, she must have had a shitty boss to trigger songs such as I Quit, Overtime, Business Card, O Supervisor, Personal Assistant, Company Retreat, Trophy Wife, and this theme gets its origin back in her debut project, the EP Squick.
1. Noun. The physical sense of repulsion upon encountering a concept or situation that one finds disgusting.
2. Noun. A condition or concept which engenders this reaction.
3. Verb, transitive. To cause someone to have this reaction.
4. Verb, intransitive. To experience this reaction.
The concept of the “squick” differs from the concept of “disgust” in that “squick” refers purely to the physical sensation of repulsion and does not imply a moral component.
Stating that something is “disgusting” implies a judgement that it is bad or wrong. Saying that something “squicks you” is merely an observation of your reaction to it but does not imply a judgement that such a thing is universally wrong.
So there you go. We are all a little bit smarter than we were at the start of this blog.
In 2014, working under the alias Scout Hardcastle, Meljoann released the BBC Radio 6 Music supported released dance album Masterkinder: Rainbow in my Mind (2014) under the alias Scout Hardcastle.
In 2020 Meljoann received a highly coveted £10k grant from the Arts Council of England to make five videos for her forthcoming album’ HR.’
The first single was Company Retreat, keeping that working woman motif going strong. The follow-up was ‘O Supervisor, and her last single to close out the year 2020 was Trophy Wife.’
Meljoann describes herself this way:
Here’s my little third-person bio:
Meljoann, originally from Ireland, produces experimental electronic pop. In her latest single, ‘Overtime,’ she tells “the grotty tale of a woman who must be overly polite to her predatory boss.” Her sound has been described as “like a long-lost soul-pop album from the mid-1990s as remixed by Aphex Twin” (Eamon de Paor, Metro Herald).
There is a long and storied history of music about how terrible the working world is. From the infamous 9 to 5 of Dolly Parton to the whimsical Heigh-ho by the seven vertically challenged miners working in oppressive conditions for Disney.
Just put work into the search bar on Genius, and you will have more than enough fodder to launch a class-action lawsuit against your nightmare boss. Just make sure you have a good lawyer. They can make or break a court case just by their oratory skills.
Back to the present era, Meljoann earned a couple of asterisks in the single Assf**k the Boss. I smile just saying that (as) terisk, (ass) f**k. A nice pair of asses. Groaning all around, that isn’t even a bad dad joke.
At the end of the day, what do we have going on in this album? HR, which I will assume is Human Resources, has a stream of raw emotions that cry out against the tyranny of the male-dominated workplaces.
Speaking about the new offering, she said,” ‘… is about the emotional labour we do, under gendered systems of control that thrive in the workplace. It tells the story of a woman alienated from her own survival instincts, who is subjugated by a predatory boss.”
We also have an album that speaks to those women and hopefully to the males as well. I can only speak for myself, but as a male who has had both good and bad bosses, I found the lyrical imagery on the album painted a vivid picture of a toxic working world.
A challenging but rewarding listen that needs time to breathe and develop and rewards the listener with a better understanding of the story that Meljoann is telling us after each rotation. Some artists earn one song in my “Songs About Work” mixtape. Meljoanne achieved the remarkable by having the whole album added. Well done.
“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe”
The iconic post-punk band Pink Turns Bluehas announced that their new album ‘Tainted’will be released this autumn on a limited edition vinyl, CD or digitally via Orden Records.
Music doesn’t spring out of nothingness; there has to be something that came before this album, something older than this album. Don’t get me wrong; I am not accusing the band Pink Turns Blue of plagiarism. I am saying that this band’s fantastic music is influenced by what they have heard in the past. From the press kit, I read this line: Pink Turns Blue is Mic Jogwer (vocals, guitar), Reubi Walter (bass, keyboards) and Paul Richter (drums). Inspired by Clan of Xymox, The Cure, Joy Division, The Sound and The Chameleons, Pink Turns Blue play alternative rock heavily influenced by 80s post-punk and new wave. They didn’t list The Call as one of their influences, but I can hear The Call in the vocals. They also listened to plenty of Hüsker Dü. The name of their band, Pink Turns Blue, comes from the song Pink Turns To Blue found on the Hüsker Dü album Zen Arcade. So, there we have the something old part of the wedding rhyme “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe.”
The next part of this little ditty and probably the easiest is “something new.” Pink Turns Blue plays original music influenced by what has come before, but they did not allow themselves to get mired down with that new wave sound.
They play new music, fresh music, a sound and feel that keep me coming back for more because it is just that good.
Something borrowed is redundant because this covers the same ground as something old. Pink Turns Blue has borrowed its sound from the past and sent it back with a slick new paint job.
“How to overcome the grief/pain of lost love, torn between hate, very bad feelings and, at the same time, not being able to let go at all. As there is no understanding why you fall in love with someone in the first place, there is also no reason/understanding why love does end, or your love of life starts to feel attracted to someone else. It all dissolves into nothingness,” says Mic Jogwer.
“Some melodies and moods just call for certain sad themes and touch old wounds that never seem to heal. Normally love stories don’t seem to have a connection to me and my life. But then, when I find a sad melody with some sad chords, it all gets stirred up and comes to life. Maybe love really never ends.”
A Sixpence in your Shoe. What the heck is going on with that zinger? From Knot.com, I learned that the British coin, a sixpence, is a symbol of prosperity. And I do wish Pink Turns Blue prosperity. A rich sound deserves a rich payday. I wish them prosperity in more than a sixpence. I want to wish Pink Turns Blue the wealth that comes from working together on an album of fantastic music and lyrics that enrich the listeners’ lives.
“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe”
I know that this is a little ditty from a wedding rhyme, and in a way, this is a wedding. It binds us, the listeners, to the band that created the music. To be wed is defined in the dictionary as combining two factors or qualities as one, especially desirable attributes such as: “in this album Pink Turns Blue have wed excellent music with a distinctive vocal style.”
And they lived happily ever after.
As of July 30, the single ‘You Still Mean Too Much To Me’ will be released online, including Apple Music and Spotify. The Pink Turns Blue LP ‘Tainted‘ will be released digitally and in two physical formats – a CD with a 16-page booklet and black vinyl, strictly limited to 500 copies, with an 8-page booklet. Both can be pre-ordered exclusively via the band’s website.
Imagine if you can Prozak For Lovers without the Bossanova, straight-up lounge music. Now run that through an amplifier with distortion added, just a little big. Add a voice straight out of Fifty Shades of Grey singing some of the material. And then you turn the whole thing into a shoegazer/emo rendition.
That is sort of what I imagine I hear on the new album from The Mystery Plan, You Also Have Eyes, but it isn’t anything like that. This album is well-crafted music, the sonic equivalent of Glenlivet. Matured to enhance the taste but not mired down in the past. Well rounded, like an oak cask, the music holds the songs together but is an equally important part of the whole; they are better together.
I have been delaying the release of this blog for days and days because I just wanted to listen. I thought that if I started dissecting and analyzing the album, it would no longer be the fantastic package it is.
First off, I had to get past the opening track, Electric Love, which was no easy task. I got stuck in the groove of Electric Love, with its beautiful bass lines and that haunting, enchanting, electric voice shimmering and sparking that is featured in the track.
Once I got out of the first groove Electric Love, I discovered song after song that contained some of the most tasteful indie-pop I have heard recently. Six tracks later on the song Silver Lining, I found a new light on my radar, Big Supreme (a.k.a. Chris Jones), a rapper from Charlotte who has been on the scene since the 1990s. He got his start by winning rap battles on the local Hip-Hop station for months and months, holding the record for the longest run on that station. The Mystery Plan brought the track, Silver Lining, to life during the pandemic as an ode to looking at the bright side of things. The accompanying live lounge-style video was shot and cut by Jay Thomas in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Moving forward, I discovered track after track of delicious music, vocals, and lyrics. That trend maintained a steady course clean through to the closer, Weird Things People Do, which I nominate for the song title of the year. It is also a well-chosen culmination of the album.
In conclusion, I will put this album on my list of highlights of 2021. High praise, but it is for an album that reached for and attained great heights. Tasteful without being pretentious. A big sound without being overbearing. Clever without being bombastic.
In short, I adore You Also Have Eyes, the newest offering from The Mystery Plan.
Take one part, Tom Morello and mix in one part Rockpile, then add a touch of U2 and The Clash. Mix thoroughly and heat with a bIG*fLAME. Viola, we have The Great Leap Forward, the tasty solo project of Alan Brown.
Revolt Against An Age of Plenty is packed to the brim with social commentary and the rage against a post-punk/new wave sensibility. This 13-track album opens with the song titled Music To Die To, a track that cries out to be listened to and really hear the lyrics, not just background music, while you do something else. Now, I want to make a playlist of songs that are Music To Die To.
Then we have track two, Things That Make Me Happy, a track that jumps out in contrast to track three, Revolt Against An Age of Plenty. I will have to compile another playlist of Things That Make Me Happy. Listening to music is one of many things that make me Things That Make Me Happy, and Revolt Against An Age of Plenty is currently on that shelf. Well played, Alan Brown, well crafted and aged perfectly.
I want to go through the album track by track, but that would be a lengthy tome and take away some of the pleasure of listening to it yourself and seeing where the album takes you.
It took me back to the peak of the new wave movement in the timeline of music. Heady times with so much good music, music that I still listen to, and Revolt Against An Age of Plenty sounds like it could be right up there. I have listened to this album another time, writing this blog post. Revolt Against An Age of Plenty is becoming a song that I can sing along to over and over and again. It hasn’t bored me or started to sound flat. That didn’t take long; now, the track Words on Fire is a new earworm.
That’s about all I will say about Revolt Against An Age of Plenty; other than telling you that this is a fantastic album, I think I would like a coloured slab of vinyl to hear it on the big stereo. As of July 16, Revolt Against An Age of Plenty will be available through A Turntable Friend Records and across streaming platforms like Spotifyand online stores such as Apple Music. The entire album will be released in all formats on July 20 and can already be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.
Summer is here, and I enjoy sitting in my zero gravity chair on the deck with my earbuds which is delivering The Gorstey Lea Street Choir to the musical part of my brain. It then fires off a ton of signals and brain triggers to let the rest of my brain register this as a good thing.
The Gorstey Lea Street Choir are Michael Clapham and Russ Phillips, and they have delivered a smash hit with their new album, … from Prince’s Park to Farsley – VolumeI. That Volume I part sent my heart a fluttering. Judging by how good Volume I is, I can’t wait to hear Volume II. Way back in May, I was gushing over how good their teaser songs were, and I commented that I would be marking July 9 on my calendar, the day their album was to be released. Well, it was in my mail on July 9, just like promised, so where was I when I should have been writing this blog. I was listening to … from Prince’s Park to Farsley – Volume I over and over again. I was in hook, line and sinker.
I don’t know how I add anything more to that. I highly recommend this recording, but be warned, you can’t stop at one listen. The music is powerful, the vocals are spot on, and the lyrics speak to everyone. They swing from dark and brooding to bright and excited. Their songs have maturity and reflect the friendship they have enjoyed for over 35 years. The music in this recording is smooth as silk which highlights the many, many hours spent practising.
THE GORSTEY LEA STREET CHOIR has knocked my socks off. This album was guided by a production dream team involving GAVIN MONAGHAN (Robert Plant, Editors, Squeeze), GEORGE SHILLING (Blur, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub) and Ride’s MARK GARDENER, with CHOQUE HOSEIN (Black Star Liner) electronically re-envisioning four of these tracks.
GAVIN MURPHY SONGS is the title of an artist blurb that showed up in my email mail folder. That got me thinking, and what I thunk is that this Gavin Murphy fella must be a singer, ’cause that is what people mostly do with songs. So, what does Gavin Murphy sound like when he sings Gavin Murphy songs? I had to find out.
So, what I done did is listen to Gavin Murphy Songs. Or did I listen to Gavin Murphy’s songs? Maybe I listen to Gavin Murphy singing Gavin Murphy songs on Gavin Murphy Songs. Now, I done confused meself. Don’t matter much ’cause I’s just a goin to tell y’all what I heard.
That Gavin Murphy fella is a fine singer. And Gavin Murphy’s Songs ain’t half bad either. So I listened agin to see if I could use a gin pole to raise that above half bad. It worked; I git it closer than a 10-foot pole, so I heard it agin and agin. It got more and more pleasin’ to my ears. Soundin’ good ’nuff so ah jus’ have to tell y’all about it.
I will pause here to let my linguistic interpretation move from early Arkansas to present-day Edmonton.
Gavin Murphy sings chill pop music that would feel right on a Sunday morning with a cup of joe and the morning news. He is a jongleur who interprets life from his point of view and within his time on this spinning globe that we call home. And Gavin Murphy is a solid ten for this two-song single and the accompanying video.
We have easy listening radio stations, and I can see Gavin Murphy Songs fitting easily into that MO. Easy listening calms our restless souls, and that is what Gavin Murphy Songs does. I’ll let Gavin Murphy tell you about his music in his own words.
“My new single ‘Alive’ is about embracing the positives in life. To witness the sunrise at dawn is a beautiful, heartwarming experience. Appreciating the simple pleasures in life and reflecting upon good memories can help us through difficult times,” says Gavin Murphy.
“On the other hand, ‘The Sound of Heartbreak’ is a rite of passage that nobody escapes. You suffer from it; you inflict it – don’t kid yourself otherwise, it will keep happening until you learn from it and finally make peace with the scars”.
‘Alive’ and ‘The Sound of Heartbreak’ are out now, available across streaming platforms and online stores, including Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp. There is a video for The Sound of Heartbreak as well; check it out at