The sounds of psychedelia’s peak from 1967 and going into 1968 have been well documented. Whether delving into the classics of the era or digging for obscurities, there are a wealth of great tunes to be found within an eighteen month period. By 1969, the musical tide was very much turning; British whimsy and three minute pop gems about myriad cups of tea and talking gnomes had largely been pushed aside for harder rock sounds. Various bands clung on for dear life, of course, and even well into 1969 there were bands across Britain knocking out various 7” pieces of plastic for the psychedelic cause. In another volume of musical history, Grapefruit Records have dug deep to bring three discs of interesting cuts from the year. The results are quite often less gaudily coloured, but you’ll still find a few bands sticking to familiar formulae. While at least half of the material gathered here is more of the well-honed pop/rock variety than flat out psych, the journey is one that’s still more than worth taking. Covering over seventy tracks in all, such a box set could seem daunting, but the curators have included at least ten familiar names, which actually adds to the commercial appeal without detracting from the potential obscurities and rarities.
Formed in 2014 somewhere in deepest Somerset, Magpie hatched a plan to create “grown up guitar pop”. Their 2017 EP, ‘Picasso On A Log’ almost casts them as serial thieves, since their collective influences are very obvious. Still, nobody ever said that grown up pop had to be original; it’s more likely to be sounds recycled with love…and based on this recording, these black and white popsters absolutely love the sounds they serve, pilfered or otherwise.
A musician, songwriter and producer, Phil Thornalley will be familiar to most for his brief stint with The Cure in 1983. His other credits include production work for Natalie Imbruglia and Bryan Adams. While not one of the music world’s most obvious faces, he’s worked within the industry since the late 70s. Taking the idea to create “a lost seventies classic”, his Astral Drive project is a world away from many of the musicians he’s been associated with previously. The material within is rich and densely layered; a work completely immersed in studio techniques. Its eleven songs draw influence from a lot of great long players released in the decade of brown and orange, and occasionally, influence crosses a line into…loving plagiarism, but the results are guaranteed to thrill fans of the style.
Louis Waxman is a Brooklyn based musician, sometime member of bands The Mayberries and Future Heart. His 2018 solo EP ‘Songs From The Truck’, as its title suggests, has an “of the moment” feel; a naturalistic set of sounds that would be a great soundtrack for a road trip. Mixing indie pop, electronica and funk it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but like similarly retro Norwegians Mats Wawa, there’s something in his sound that has the ability to lift the listeners’ spirits in just about…thirty seconds.
Let’s not mince words: David Myhr’s solo debut ‘Soundshine’ is a classic album. Not just for the time of its release, but a genuine classic. Its retro pop style places it on a par with 10cc’s ‘How Dare You’, with Wings’ ‘London Town’ and Badfinger’s ‘No Dice’. In terms of more contemporary recordings, it rivals the Oranjuly debut and Jellyfish’s ‘Spilt Milk’ for sheer pop wonderment.
A follow up had a hard act to follow and perhaps knowing he had a big job in hand, Myhr rallied around the troops. As a result, 2018’s ‘Lucky Day’ features co-writes with Linus of Hollywood, Bleu, Bill DeMain and Young Hines – names which should be familiar to most power pop aficionados – and songwriter/producer Brad Jones, a man whose credits involve working with Matthew Sweet, Jill Sobule and Josh Rouse. It’s fair to say it’s got some solid foundations.