LPs Roundup: Beaulieu Porch, Stephen Hudson, Mordecai Smyth
Published on May 6th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Rocksucker rounds up some splendid recent releases that have flown under the radar…
Beaulieu Porch – We Are Beautiful
Simon Berry isn’t half a fruitful (arf!) music-maker: we’d already doled out four-quail reviews to his first Beaulieu Porch LP and his Spider 72 side project within the last few months, so it was with no little raising of eyebrow* that we received this latest set in our inbox.
(*As much as he’d love to be able to do it, this writer is sadly incapable of raising one eyebrow at a time.)
Is it beautiful? Put simply: yes. Berry’s discordant psych-pop, equal parts Tame Impala and Boo Radleys, remains lo-fi of production but is coloured in this time around by some ingenious applications of synth. The baroque psychedelia of “Limestone Head of the Year” even flaunts some Beatles-y trumpet on its way to being really quite stunning; it’s a mini epic at under four minutes, and the same can be said for “Anno Domini”, which builds and builds into squalls of frantic electric guitar (and, rather unexpectedly, bell sounds). By the time it makes way for the inquisitive splendour of “The Narcissists”, it’s clear that these ornate new arrangements constitute an inspired move.
“We Are Today” is the exhilarating kind of anthemic, while “Amen” is positively airborne, washing over without surrendering any of its otherworldly properties. We could go on, but we wouldn’t want to over-egg the recommendation. Even if you find cheap production off-putting, we’d still advise you to investigate this majestically fuzzy/fuzzily majestic wonderland.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
We Are Beautiful is out now on Tillsammans Records.
For more information, please visit the official Beaulieu Porch website.
Stephen Hudson – Sleep for Railway Dreamers
Rocksucker was really rather taken with Hudson’s “Everything Electric” single of last year, describing it in the following terms:
This Lancaster bloke has a lovely, breezy way with gentle psych-pop, combining here a perfect sort of almost-out-of-tune jangle, a killer end-of-chorus chord progression and a latter-day Beatles guitar solo that blows up and falls back into an acoustic rendering of the wonderfully endearing chorus (“Some folks like to have a dream with everything thrown in it / But I just want my record on and someone who will spin it with me / Everything electric blows up in my hands”).
Although “Everything Electric” features here, its colourful, ‘Toytown’ sort of feel is not extrapolated across the album. More pervasive are the kind of bucolically bittersweet sea shanties one might associate with Hudson’s friend and collaborator Mikey Kenney (aka Ottersgear), and he wears this well: “Cobwebs” makes mention of “the village pervert’s son” in amongst sounding like a melting pot of I Am Kloot, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Libertines, “Shingles” like Shack meets Modest Mouse, and “Song for Dan” like one of the sparser moments from Hunky Dory but, er, countrypoppier.
Along the way, we are treated to folky fingerpicking, triumphant fiddle, beautiful classical piano and lines like “Nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon / Take the dog for a shit” delivered in Hudson’s agreeably keening vocal, such an effective counterpoint to some of the wryer lyrics. Once that dog’s done heaving one out, we hope its master goes home to write some more songs, because he’s very good at it.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
For more information, please visit the official Stephen Hudson website.
Mordecai Smyth – Dial M for Mordecai
This brilliantly titled four-track EP continues in a similar ‘vintage psychedelic pop’ vein to Smyth’s splendid Sticky Tape & Rust debut LP of last year.
“Dream On” meets Sgt Pepper’s and late-’60s Kinks halfway, treating its sublime, sugarcoated swagger with parping trombone, pedal steel, plastic strings and – most impressively of all – harmonised lead guitar that doesn’t bring Rocksucker out in a rash (prone as we are to the weathering effects of ’80s stadium rock). Ending with creepy circus organ and backwards tape sounds may be a tad on the obvious side, but after a song that good it’s certainly getting the benefit of our doubt.
Similarly, “Dark Haired Douglas” ends with a riff that errs a little too close to “Paperback Writer” but is already well in credit for the preceding round of bouncy 7th chords featuring more simple yet fantastically effective guitar work. “Psychedelic Sarah” is kind of like a cross between The Monkeys’ “I’m a Believer” and Dave Davies’s “Lincoln County”, and “Trapped” brings proceedings to a close on a smart note, organ a-tootin’ alongside an agreeably addled sounding vocal. Hopefully a second full-length album is forthcoming.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
For more information, please visit Mordecai Smyth on Bandcamp.