‘Pop Up Jim Bob’ comes seven years after Jim Bob’s previous studio album, but in that time he’s been doing anything but resting. There have been Carter USM reunion gigs; two massive and critically acclaimed solo tours and, as J.B. Morrison, he’s written award-nominated novels. You can say what you like about this man, but you could never accuse him of being lazy. Compared to his Carter days, Jim’s solo work has sometimes been overlooked, but as those who were present at any of his “National Treasure” shows – or have been lucky enough to catch him at other times with pianist Chris-TT – will attest, he’s lost none of his lyrical bite. Those still paying attention after 1997 have known the pleasures of Jim’s sweary cookery teacher (‘Mrs. Fucking MacMurphy Teaches Food Technology’), Ray Davies-esque romances transplanted to the inner city with added heroin for the heroine (‘In The Future All This Will Be Yours’) and supermarket unrest (‘The Tesco Riots’, a number that melds a very Carter USM-ish lyric with the kind of bluesy arrangement you wouldn’t have found within a hundred miles of his previous band’s albums). With most of his best work carrying a strong narrative, Jim has continued to be one of the UK’s most distinctive songwriters, regardless of any musical differences.
To the Average Joe, the Britpop movement is likely best remembered by two major incidents: the Blur vs. Oasis rivalry which reached its peak in a race for the #1 spot in August 1995 and Jarvis Cocker’s stage invasion during Michael Jackson’s appearance at the Brit Awards in 1996. Neither had anything to do with the music itself, but were both big enough to over-excite the tabloid press. Those with more of a musical interest might also associate the period with great music from The Bluetones and Cast; hit-makers that managed regular chart appearances, but due to neither band having a tabloid friendly loudmouth a la Noel or Liam, weren’t always so sharp in making themselves known outside of the music papers. Both deserved much bigger success than Oasis.
For regular readers of NME and Melody Maker, Britpop covered a wider range of things and among the many indie bands that both helped shape that movement and subsequently rode on the coat-tails of the scene’s big sellers, there were a whole host of other guitar-driven heroes. For every two that made the charts, there were a dozen that were often left chasing that big breakthrough, despite regular press. In many ways, ‘Super Sonics’ is their story.
When Gramma Vendetta released their ‘Proof of Concept’ EP in 2018, the world was a very different place. Their punchy blues/garage/stoner metal hybrid sound was squarely about entertainment. After recording began on a follow up, a global pandemic forced everything into shutdown and – like everyone else – the band found themselves with a different set of priorities. The planned album became a stop-gap EP and the lockdown situation also gave them lyric inspiration, so, in many ways, their 2020 release ended up being a very different beast.
UK prog band The Tangent will release their eleventh album ‘Auto Reconnaisance’ in August. For those who can’t wait to hear the whole thing from start to finish, the band have shared the audio for ‘Life On Hold’, a relatively short and really punchy track that showcases the band’s more chorus driven material.
Power pop legend Brendan Benson released his seventh solo album ‘Dear Life’ in April 2020. A record that finds the singer songwriter exploring more of his beloved 70s inspired sounds, it’s title track feels especially retro with 10cc styled melodies cutting through everything and a heavy use of bass drum.
Brendan has created the perfect video for the song, with visuals that show him wandering around his home studio and playing various instruments. There’s something about it that actually recalls earlier promo clips by the legendary Paul McCartney and Jeff Lynne, so it appears very apt for Benson’s lovingly retro sound.