His name may not be instantly familiar, but singer songwriter Mo Troper has a fairly sizeable back catalogue. He began cranking out fuzzy indie and power pop tunes in 2016 and has gradually built a cult audience. Mo’s debut full length ‘Beloved’ is brilliant. Although very much the kind of record aimed at listeners who still feel nostalgic for Superchunk and reach for Guided By Voices’ ‘Isolation Drills’ on a regular basis, its peppering of stronger melodies could also call to mind the kind of tunefulness the younger Brendan Benson might’ve enjoyed when in a noisier mood. Each of Troper’s further releases work a similar fashion, each with a slightly more commercial angle (‘Freebin’ from 2017’s ‘Exposure & Response’, especially, has the feel of something that could lapse into an old Teenage Fanclub tune, and the whole of 2020’s ‘Natural Beauty finds Troper in full on home-recorded, yet clean power pop mode), but whatever the outcome, the performer’s DIY heart can always be heard beating furiously. In terms of retro cool, he has the potential to be remembered as one of the greats.
Following the release of a couple of EP’s, Bless The Dead’s full length release ‘The Boars Nest’ (Sliptrick Records, 2018) cemented their reputation as a growing force within the world of groove metal. Taking cues from Pantera and Lamb of God, the record wasn’t particularly original, but what it did, it did brilliantly. In approximately half an hour, it showcased a riff-centric band ready to bring their brand of metal to the masses. In an ideal world it very much needed a timely follow up to really gain traction – supplying something of a massive one-two punch – but it would take almost three years for the band to deliver their next studio recordings.
Originally touted for a 2020 release, the long rumoured massive Caravan box set will finally be released in August 2021. The wait has been long, but there’s good news: what was once scheduled to be a 30 disc set will now come with a further seven discs’ worth of rare material, including 11 discs of previously unreleased live cuts.
The Madfish release seems as if it will rival the similarly extensive Gentle Giant box set. In addition to a wealth of music – bringing together all of Caravan’s official studio recordings, a much praised Steven Wilson 5.1 mix of ‘In The Land of Grey & Pink’ and far more besides – fans will get the opportunity to lose themselves in a massive 144 page hardback book. A second replica fan club booklet and a signed photograph are also included. The contents can be seen in the unboxing video, which can be seen below along with a full track listing.
Aside from John Philip’s 1987 LP ‘Wait For The Night’, which isn’t coming out on CD in a million years, there are few major label melodic rock releases more deserving of a reissue as Lou Gramm’s two solo discs for Atlantic Records.
‘Ready Or Not’ and ‘Long Hard Look’ were released in 1987 and 1989 respectively, but were always hard to find on CD in the UK. By the early 90s, they were only available as US imports sourced from clearance warehouses and “cut-out” bins. Even in the US, despite ‘Ready Or Not’ spawning a couple of hit singles, neither album was a roaring success, which seemed surprising after Lou’s previous albums with Foreigner (1982’s ‘4’ and 1984’s ‘Agent Provocateur’) had both gone Platinum.
Grapefruit Records’ 3CD anthologies covering music from 1970 and 1971 captured a British music scene during a period of change. Psychedelia may have been considered long gone, but various pop bands still seemed keen to dabble with the quirky and odd. Although the artier side of the era’s pop and rock scene during that period was often interesting, these sets suggested that the era didn’t always have a clear identity.
There are no such issues with ‘Beyond The Pale Horizon’, a triple disc collection promising to bring “The British Progressive Pop Sounds of 1972”. By the time 1971 had coughed its last and the pop and rock machine rolled into the new year, progressive rock was a dominant force within the album buyers’ market, while glam rock and hard rock were never far away from the singles chart. Between these two or three musical tribes, ’72 came with a strong musical base, but – as always with Grapefruit’s abilities to dig through a rich musical history – the year offered so much more greatness. Naturally, three discs really isn’t enough to paint the most complete picture, but the chosen highlights within ‘Beyond The Pale Horizon’ offer the kind of listening experience that so many lovers of 70s pop and rock will find both nostalgic and educational.