MAGPIE – Picasso On A Log EP

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.

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ASTRAL DRIVE – Astral Drive

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.

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J EASTMAN AND THE DRUNK UNCLES – Pleasing Some Of The People None Of The Time

In 2016, J Eastman and the Drunk Uncles – a bar band from Minneapolis with an Uncle Tupelo obsession – released ‘No Capo Required’, a rough and ready EP that was as much a gutsy homage to their musical heroes as a no-frills love letter to musical fun. Not all good music has to be perfect and the Uncles seemed keen to champion that message. Two years on, the follow up ‘Pleasing Some of The People…’ keeps a firm hold on their slightly sloppy but incredibly gung ho style, but trades in some of the more rootsy elements for a tough but not always entirely tuneful power pop edge. Put it this way: with mid-period Replacements as part of the blueprint, you can’t help but hear more than a trace of the best music that sprang from their geographical roots on parts of this release.

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