Thursday 7 June 2018

Of Arrowe Hill "Domestic Espionage” New Album Launch Gig at Oxymoron Lambeth 1st June 2018 - Review by David Leach

of Arrowe Hill held their new album launch at the Oxymoron Pub in Lambeth. This pub is the antithesis of the characterless chain pubs and the achingly cool minimalist bars that are taking over London. Although situated on Lambeth Walk (Oi!), even the local pearly kings and queens would have to put their shades on to avoid being dazzled by the random riot of colour that greets you when entering. A conspiracy of clocks in what appears to be Salvador Dali’s fireplace seems like a good place to start this review. 

Tonight consists of two sets; a solo half hour acoustic set with a short break, followed by an extended set from the band. First up, the band’s front man and songwriter Adam Easterbrook pulls up a chair in front of a sizeable audience of friends, fans, and pub locals and, without amplification, runs through a set of songs from the past and present of his considerable back catalogue. The melancholic wonder of "Whatever that Means" is starker and darker than its more luxurious recorded version and the lyrics; 'when wonderland is in full retreat...keep it together, whatever that means' gain extra resonance when performed with just voice and acoustic (and in such an Alice in Wonderland setting). This set also features stripped down renditions of new album tracks, including its opener "You’ve Changed" that, on first listen, deals with the paranoia induced reflections on a sudden rise in personal status and "This Girl", which gets a laugh when Adam dedicates it to Theresa May. The idea of playing an acoustic set without amplification really worked, unwittingly forcing the captivated audience to strain a little to listen to the lyrics, greatly enhancing the informal ‘campfire' atmosphere of the set. 

Of Arrowe Hill - photo by David Leach
After a short break, the three-piece line up appear. The band have set up at the rear of the pub and, despite relatively spartan amplification arrangements, provide the audience with a full-blooded rendition of eight songs from the album released this very day and, as I discover later, some tracks from the next album that is already a work in progress. Particular highlights are the melodic "You Wish (It Was This Easy)", a bruised love song suggesting that, despite all life’s challenges, the couple in question can put the world to rights over a bottle of wine (hence the somewhat sardonic song title). "Oh! Serendipity" appears already to be an audience favourite; it’s nagging, catchy melody recalls the golden era of the Beatles and the Kinks but, also very much rooted in ‘the now’ with its narrator wistfully reflecting on winning the lottery; and on what he would do with the winnings (and what he would say to his boss) while reflecting on societies obsession with ‘being someone’. Last year’s single "Keep on Sweet Talking" is a claustrophobic, tense affair that touches on seduction and insomnia, and the encore "She’s Gone off the Rails" a swirling, powerful ‘The Who’ like account of a life in descent and turmoil. 

Of Arrowe Hill - photo by David Leach
On tonight’s evidence, "Domestic Espionage" is a more expansive, hard hitting collection of full-bodied songs than its fine predecessor, "A Conspiracy of Clocks". It’s easy to go overboard about the profound and poetic joys of Adam Easterbrook’s lyrics, but these songs are able to shine in an even brighter light due to the contributions of bass player Jason Hobart, and drummer Ian O’Sullivan, who provide the musical punctuation to Adam's flowing prose. This rhythm section have played together for many years in their previous band The Aardvarks and, as a unit, they appear to naturally 'sing from the same song book'. Their contributions help keep the mood of the songs upbeat with a somewhat psychedelic pop edge. They also provide a great foil for lyrics that mine the darker aspects of life whilst searching for the shards of light that make it all worthwhile! A final word of thanks should go to the Oxymoron proprietors, Bill and Lisa whose rather fine and quirky pub provided the perfect setting for tonight’s proceedings. - David Leach June 2018

Of Arrowe Hill - photo by David Leach
You can order "Domestic Espionage" on 180mg vinyl or the digital version via the Of Arrowe Hill Bandcamp site here. It's also available from Rough Trade or Sister Ray Record stores. For more information on the band, including news and upcoming gigs, please check out their Facebook page here. With thanks to David for the excellent review.

Monday 4 June 2018

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 31: Rumble In The Jungle-A-Go-Go - Hipsville and New Music Special

Photo courtesy of ZigPix
Retrosonic Podcast Episode 31 is out and available for your listening pleasure now. This episode is a decidedly 'non-retro' affair as we'll feature only new and recent music from the best international contemporary Punk, Psych, Mod, Beat, Soul and Garage Rock acts and we even have a couple of unreleased songs too. There's a report on the fantastic Hipsville Jungle-A-Go-Go weekender and we pick some of the musical highlights over the three days including songs from The Parkinsons, The Oddballs, The Schizophonics, Les Lullies, Black Mambas and The No-Things. There's songs from new albums by artists such as Autoramas and The Most and the new single from Magnus Carlson & Fay Hallam with a report on their recent show at The 100 Club. There's also news on our next Retro Man Blog Night with ex-Soundtrack of Our Lives and Union Carbide Productions frontman Ebbot Lundberg and his new band The Indigo Children at The Half Moon Putney on October 13th. Here's the complete track-list to this episode, please click on the highlighted band name to check their web-sites and how to order copies of the featured records.

The Past Tense "The Supergrass" taken from their new LP "7A"

Professional Againsters "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" from the Swedish band's LP "Everybody Hates The Professional Againsters". The band are part of Hans Selander's Record Union A&R roster so if your band needs help on getting your music onto digital platforms then contact Hans here

The Most "Girl Sees Daylight" another great Swedish band with a track from their new vinyl album "Beat Beat Boom!"

Autoramas "Stressed Out" from Brazil's Space Age Garage Rockers new LP "Libido". For full feature on the album including track-by-track guide, please check the Blog feature here

Autoramas "Libido" cover art by Julian Weber
The Oddballs "We Are The Oddballs" taken from their album of the same name

Les Lullies "Don Craine" from their "Don't Look Twice" E.P.

Black Mambas "Baby, I'll Give It To You" from The Witmer Sessions

The Schizophonics "Streets of Heaven & Hell" from their new LP "Land of The Living"

The Schizophonics at Hipsville - photo by Retro Man Blog
The Parkinsons "Numb" from the album "The Shape of Nothing To Come"

The No-Things "Miracle Man" unreleased song from Edinburgh based band's forthcoming single

For full feature on the Hipsville Jungle-A-Go-Go weekend including photos and links to videos, please check the Blog feature here

Thee Girl Fridays "Too Much of a Good Thing" from their new digital E.P.

The Past Tense "The Other Side" from their new LP "7A"

OHMS "6-8-1-6-79 (For A City Boy)" from their new LP "Melodies of Our Lives". For a review of the album please check the Blog feature here

The Moot "Backs Me Down" from their new mini-album "Tomorrow's Calling"

Magnus Carlson with Fay Hallam "Now That It's Over" new single from the Swedish Soul singer's forthcoming album "A Nordic Soul" out soon on Cosmos Music

Fay Hallam & Magnus Carlson at The 100 Club - photo by Retro Man Blog
French Boutik "Loin de Moi" a brand new track to promote an Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the band's forthcoming album. For more information on how to pledge, please check here

For review of the Fay Hallam, Magnus Carlson & French Boutik gig at the 100 Club including photos and links to videos, please check out the Blog feature here

The Nettelles "We Are..." new Russ Wilkins produced limited edition 7" vinyl single on DJ Lee Grimshaw's Spinout Nuggets label

Dirt Royal "Glory Days" one side of the Brighton based band's new single

Ye Nuns "Don't Worry" new limited edition single from State Records featuring unreleased songs written by The Monks' original bassist Eddie Shaw.

Andre M "Kenzy's Dream" new 7" vinyl single released on Crocodile Records

You can listen/download directly from our Soundcloud page below or subscribe for free at iTunes or stream at our Mixcloud page. Lots of our original videos from the Hipsville Weekend and of most of the bands featured in this episode can be found over at our Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel here and there are lots of photos at our Facebook page here. Check out Gwen Ever's "A Low Life In High Heels" radio show on Mixcloud here for some reports from the Hipsville front-lines. Thanks to ZigPix for this Episode's cover photo. Please click on the highlighted links above for more information on the bands and how you can order the featured LP's or singles. I hope you enjoy listening!