You can find the best-of year-end lists in most music publications. Rather than rehashing what was already reviewed and discussed this year, Music Spectrum is going deep into the stacks of CDs received this year to take a look at some of the ones that got missed.
The Afternoons have that Teenage Fanclub approach to the Byrds sound that lands in the Folk-influenced IRE/UK Rock section. There’s harmonies; there’s pop; there’s rock taking over the world. Yet, while tracks like “See You Again” on My Lost City have that dreamy feel, others have that indie rock hook for small venue sing alongs, like “Make You Happen.” These are short tracks, just right for 7 inch singles to listen to on your little record player on your bedroom floor, daydreaming about love (“Gonna Stay Together”) and then flipping to the B-side thinking about how “You Can Change to World.” My Lost City is released by Recordiau Dockrad Records.
Zip Records, together with Yesterday Girl Records, released Pop Under the Surface, Volume 4 in 2002, a tremendous collection of popped-up 60’s Byrds rock done by artists from all around the world at the beginning of this new century. It’s like turning on a shortwave radio, going through the frequencies, and finding long-range stations from many nations playing great pop songs. It’s like going to Coca-Cola World in Atlanta, tasting the Coke from other places in the world. It’s all called Coca-Cola, but the formula subtly changes to suit the tastes of certain countries. Zip Records lets you step up to the drink dispenser to taste rock in its subtle variations around the world. While the sounds on this compilation move beyond the Folk-influenced IRE/UK Rock into College Rock and Garage Rock, even so the bands often sounds like College Rock or Garage Rock bands doing a Britpop/Byrds-inspired pop song. New Jersey’s Evelyn Forever have Relient K’s skate-punk-pop approach. The UK’s Western Electric lives up to their name with Western 12-strings adding twang to the pop. Cue up the Kinks comparisons for the Netherlands’ Waistcoats. Japan’s the Oranges crank up the pop with the punk foreshadowing of the Who. Finally, travel back to the States with many underground pop bands from coast to coast, including Peter Marston’s Beatle-pop which draws you right in to the earnestness of love.
A step past the 60’s folky harmonies of the Byrds—Calfornian pop which finds more affinity in the Folk-influenced IRE/UK Rock section—comes psychedelic rock. While acid rock goes well beyond folk music, there seems to be that foundation of a singer and a guitar trying to describe whatever trip they’re on. Those dreamy landscapes often spilled into excess, but certain artists today have been able to rescue the dreams from the nightmares, the travels from the aimlessness. The Delays do this with Faded Seaside Glamour. A world opens up through these sparkling pop songs made as if accompaniment for pictures of sunlit fields blowing in the wind. Greg Gilbert’s falsetto vocals float into the ether, but his guitar, Colin Fox’s bass, Rowly’s drums, and Aaron Gilbert’s keys/programming tethers the music. Should it be only about floating in the atmosphere, the Delays would be lost. Beats like on “Long Time Coming” make the dreams danceable and anthemic at the same time. Faded Seaside Glamour is released by Rough Trade.
Featured Year-End Folk-influenced IRE/UK List Title
Where you have to search a little for the tether to keep the Delays from floating away into the ether, the High Dials pack the beats right up front. Here’s where psychedelic overtones meet dance funk, rocked out Byrds stuff, and Kinks charging guitars. Their Fields in Glass EP shakes the tambourine, sending the swirling psychedelic tunes into overdrive. The jamming keyboard break on “City Rivers” only comes to show there’s more to come. “Things Are Getting Better” features Beatle-esque sitar soloing work, a horn section on power chords, and a breakdown marching section like you might find in the Polyphonic Spree or the Beta Band. “Fields in Glass” itself gets two remixes including the Stained Glass Mix by the Pirates of the North Atlantic, which makes it even more crunchy, drumline rhythm ready. Fields in Glass EP is released by Rainbow Quartz.
Thanks to all of the labels for the review copies.