CATHEDRAL BELLS – Cathedral Bells EP

A dreampop and shoegaze influenced project helmed by Matt Messore (previously of Dear Tracks), Cathedral Bells’ debut EP isn’t exactly shy about recycling musical influences. With strong elements of the more commercial Jesus & Mary Chain, the synthier and more cinematic aspects taken from The Cure and more than a trace of Pale Saints, its six tracks play like the greatest EP not to be released by 4AD Records in 1990. When influences and moods are recycled as well as they are here, originality is more than welcome to take a back seat as Cathedral Bells join Norway’s Spielbergs in heading up a full-on 90s revival.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Big Gold Dreams: A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

A comprehensive five CD anthology telling the story of independent music from Scotland between 1977 and 1989, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ is an interesting box set. From the no-frills and DIY ethics of punk through to lavish alternative pop, Scotland had more than enough talent to make a huge mark upon music in the 70s and 80s and the country’s greatest bands were every bit as good – and better – than many of the hugely celebrated acts from Manchester and the south. The many independent labels had as much to give the world in terms of underground talent and beyond, so in lots of ways, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ isn’t so much a box set, an anthology or collection as a celebration.

For admirers of Cherry Red’s 2018 power pop and new wave anthology ‘Harmony In My Head’ and Edsel’s Gary Crowley curated box set of punk curios, the first two discs of this five disc set will alone be worth the purchase. Covering the period between 1977 and 1982, as you’d expect, these discs have more than a decent amount of punky fare and the nature of the source material means that various obscurities are released on CD for the very first time.

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DISKOPUNK – Diskopunk EP

Diskopunk have been slowly releasing tracks across digital platforms since 2016. It was looking increasingly like they were going to tease the world with bits and pieces forever, but the beginning of 2019 brought a self titled EP and, with that, finally something more substantial for those who’ve enjoyed the previous digital singles.

In terms of their very European electronica, the bulk of this self-titled release is very assured in the way it throws catchy hooks into melodic beats. It also isn’t afraid to feel like throwaway fun at times either, but what comes across most is that old Scandinavian gift for a strong melody – something that’s often obvious throughout, even if you’re not really that big on dance oriented stuff.

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SPIELBERGS – This Is Not The End

In 2018, Norway’s Spielbergs made a grand entrance into the music world with their debut EP, ‘Distant Star’. With an epic fusion of 90s indie, shoegaze and a touch of dark synth pop, it’s five tracks took the listener on a retro journey that managed to feel very nostalgic but still sound great in the present. The signs were all there for a band whom were going to release a fantastic full-length the following year.

Two of the EP’s key numbers have been recycled for their full-length debut giving a strong feeling of continuity. The EP’s masterpiece, the sprawling eight minute epic ‘Ghost Boy’ has been left behind (giving listeners the ultimate reason to backtrack and check out the previous release if they’ve not already done so), but ‘Distant Star’ and debut single ‘We Are All Going To Die’ sound superb nestled amongst the newer material – and it’s a genuine thrill to discover these aren’t even the album’s best tracks!

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Steve Lamacq curated ‘Lost Alternatives’ box set due in March

Following the success of Gary Crowley’s ‘Punk & New Wave’ box set last year in which the legendary DJ explored a variety of great alternative music without presenting the well worn hits, Edsel are set to repeat the formula again this coming March with a Steve Lamacq curated four disc box.
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