from the listening nook

vinyl thoughts for an analogue life

Tucked Into the Electronic Wave EP – Palm Honey

October 8, 2017

Format: 12″ Black vinyl

Side A1: Palace – trippy indie punk pop anthem layers with ethereal vocals and underpinned with bouncy vibrant drums. A 90s indie feel that comes to full illumination when the horn section kicks in. Plaintive but soulful building to epicness. A real Curiosity Killed the Cat vibe.

Side A2: Stick the Knife In – thumping heavy bassy substrater and clangy plucky guitar surround a mournful lost vocal. A strange world of darkness and infinite shoe-gazing.

Side B1: Going Normal – a wide western electronic dreamscape with an Inspiral Carpets mystical trippy tone. Perfect indie festival shuffles with tribal drumming and hypnotic sweeping guitars.

Side B2: I Can Try – bright bubbly 60s styling pop. Hazy spaced out vocals with playful guitars. Blessed out in a pleasurable dream world. Immense use of keyboards, organ and piano. Builds and grows into a Bowie-esque epic with howling horns and soul crunching composition.

Score: 8/10

Thought: travelling far on a bus made of vocals and geeeetars!

Info: Palm Honey / Flying Vinyl


Don’t Get Us Wrong / West Los – Substance Abuse

September 5, 2017


Format: 12″ Black Vinyl

Side A: a classic mid 80s hip hop feel filled with strong loops (and classy cowbell!). A trip through the canyons of a big US city. Lyrical storytelling with both group and solo representations. A call-to-arms that evokes the spirit of hip hop pioneers with flowing rapping and lock-step musicality. Old-school with modern sensibilities and a ‘I wish it lasted longer’ vibe.

Side B: a darker, bassier lyrical West Coast poem set afloat on a sea of classic drones and pads. A hot slice of real-life vocals telling the LA truth but without bravado or gangsta braggadocio. Old-school in the very finest way but with a modern-day realism. An ode to the City of Angels which would sound fantastic as the score to a film of TV series.

Score: 9/10

Thought:  a road-journey to the West Coast, a poetic rediscovery of legendary hip hop sounds and attitude. Plug me in and double the run-time!


Rear View Remix / Rear View – Substance Abuse and KRS One

September 3, 2017


Format: 7″ Blood Red Vinyl

Side A: KutMasta Kurt Remix – a superior slice of old-school hip hop slathered with saucy scratch trax and sensational street-level MCing. Simple but effective beats mix with traditional loops and get down samples, as the group lyrics and solo verses build biographical and compelling stories. Solid low rhythms pulse out with a pirate radio vibe. The purest form of traditional 80s hip hop – intelligent lyrics coupled with classic beats. So good to hear the KRS crew back on wax!

Side B: Original Version – a darker rap sound blended with a 90s hip hop feel. More aggression and attitude and a lower/bassier tone. With cleaner/simpler repetitive loops, this version allows the lyrics to stand out and you experience a more colourful vocal performance, stronger and more forward yet still underpinned by an insistent musicality

Score: 9/10

Thoughts: so old school they haven’t even built the damn school yet. Hip hop perfection with trad group vocals and solo break-downs – nothing but pure class!

Info: Substance Abuse

How Are You Wired/Scrape Yourself From the Floor – Pet Crow

August 28, 2017


Format: 7″ Lemon Yellow Vinyl

Side A: a frenetic ensemble of drums with punk-girl pop-i-ness. A pacey, upbeat bass-led stompingly fun punk-pop insta-classic. Channelling the very best of late 70s US female-led punk vibes, this is a real deal, a short sharp hit of musical perfection. Stuffs its punk credentials down your throat and never lets up!

Side B: Psychedelic surf-punk with a tsunami of luscious ethereal vocals. A spooky 60s undercurrent sweeps you out into the depths of echoic instrumentation. You are dragged back to the beach for a Halloween party pleaser, a high energy po-go-ing riot of raucous excitement. This is the sound of having a punk party in a lava-lamp!

Score: 10/10

Thoughts: It doesn’t get any better than this…flying the flag for perfectly performed punk-pop. Time to hit the dance floor and start a po-go party!

Info: Too Pure Singles Club / Pet Crow



July 28, 2017


Format: 12″ LP gold vinyl

Whilst visiting Domino Records to grab a copy of the amazing Middle Kids EP, my eye was caught by a beautiful gold LP. The band behind this glorious piece of spinning wax was Little Cub, and after some investigation I chose to take the risk and order the LP.

Boy oh boy, am I happy that I did. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous LPs I’ve ever seen, but what lies within its grooves is sheer synth heaven!

The best way to describe this South London trio is soft indie lo-fi synthwave pop…I know, it is a mouthful, but it sums them up perfectly. Every track on the LP is a masterpiece of modern synthwave composition, evoking actual and assumed 80s nostalgia. Then layered on top is a vocal style that is relaxed, pulled-back, lo-fi but engaging and oh-so-wonderful. There’s a bit of Morrissey, New Order, Talk Talk, Pet Shop Boys and Lightning Seeds in here…but it is much more than mere homage. This is a very modern indie take on what made those 80s synths and mournful lyrics so important. This is revelatory street-level storytelling with rhythm and swagger. This is synthwave poetry, making you think and boogie in equal measure. Each and every track takes you on a journey…albeit it in a Lamborghini Countach whilst wearing a big shouldered suit and Aviator shades!

Here’s a few thoughts on some of the majestic tracks:

  • Too Much Love (1/1) – perfect soft indie pop merged with classic synthwave electronica and New Order-esque vocals
  • My Nature (1/2) – slow driving rhythm with deep pulsing synth bass, a wide landscape explored by engaging vocals and lyrics
  • Breathing Space (1/3) – dancy trippy upbeat synth contrast with lo-fi vocals and introspective lyrics, soothing storytelling at its best
  • Hypnotise (1/6) – fully expansive synth vibes with beautiful evocative Joy Division-esque vocals. 80s noir builds to epic synthwave dance beat
  • Closing Time (2/1) – low throbbing rhythm complemented with gloriously chorused vocals and a Neil Tennant style mixed with a Del Amitri story – fantastic sense of movement and speed against an ever-changing electronica noise backdrop
  • Snow (2/4) – a real change of pace, ethereal and whispery, toned down and melancholic vocals. A mournful contemplative hymn to lyricism and simple yet accomplished composition

I love this album, am overjoyed at taking the risk of buying something unknown, and hope Little Cub keep evolving their sound and releasing incredible music for decades to come. The LP is an astonishing piece of vinyl, the gold colouring is eye-catching, and the sheer weight of the thing (almost like two traditional LPs glued together) is shockingly pleasing. Thumbs up to the band, the label and the manufacturer!

Score: 10/10

Thoughts: driving at speed down an 80s highway, shades on, padded shoulders bopping to the tunes, brain engaged by the lyrics – sheer synthwave bliss

Info: LittleCubband


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