When I last spoke to Mark Nevin, he reflected on his music career; from the huge success of Fairground Attraction, songwriting partnership with Morrissey and others. At the time he’d found his voice with the acclaimed solo album ‘Stand Beside Me in the Sun’ so I was especially intrigued what he’d do next. However when I first heard the first single ‘Love = Love = Love’ from his new album ‘Beautiful Guitars’ it was clear he was making his most personal statement yet.
Mark and I met at the Coach and Horses Soho, London, a pub that is significant to his story, to talk about ‘Beautiful Guitars’ and how this new album reflects his life today:
Hailing from Norfolk Virginia, The Mirrors create an anglophile sound that at times is reminiscent of some of the best sounds flowing over the channel in the late 60s/early 70s.
They have just recorded an excellent new album Spectral Sunshine Parade; however they need your help to get the album pressed and released on gold vinyl.
Listening to the album there’s some delightful material, for instance “In Our Eyes” kicks off a la Ray Davies c1972’s “Sitting In My Hotel” with a few nods to Macca’s “Maybe I’m Amazed”. There’s also the choppy Doors feel of “Love Is Hard” and the Barrett-Floydian “The Golden Dawn”.
“I Know For Sure” is like The Electric Prunes playing “And I Love Her”. Ending with “The World Remains In Motion” closes Spectral Sunshine Parade on a Beatles 1967 high.
Get yourself over to Kickstarter and give The Mirrors your help to saving the parade from the Evil Archduke:
Got Kinda Lost Records, the new reissue imprint of Guerssen, digs our rare and/or privately pressed rock and reissue them for a wider audience; Hot Knives are one such group enjoying a release on the label. Hailing from San Francisco they were fronted by brother-sister combo Michael and Debra Houpt plus two ex-Flamin’ Groovies (guitarist Tim Lynch, and drummer Danny Mihm) as well as bassist Ed Wilson. This LP brings together their single releases and unreleased tracks from the late 70s.
Their sound echoes some of the best acts from the Bay area a decade earlier tied to a pop-garage heart. Indeed I hear echoes of of early Fairport Convention who initially took their lead from San Fran but filtered it through a folk/rock lens.
Ultimately however you have to judge any release by the strength of the songs and this 12 inch largely delivers across the board. This release kicks off with the instantly catchy ‘Sooner Or Later’ and moves into ‘So Fast’ which opens with a ‘Green Manalishi’ style riff into a power-pop chorus.
In fact the weakest track is arguably their cover of Moby Grape’s ‘Hey Grandma’ which conversely highlights the quality of their own songwriting. Other tracks to check out include folk ballad ‘I Hear The Wind Blow’, the lovely band and vocal harmonies interplay of ‘Secrets About Me’ and anthemic garage rock of ‘Around The World’. ‘Turning Into’ ends on a commercial note a song that begs the question why they weren’t ripping up the charts like Fleetwood Mac at the time.
Don’t get bound up in thinking this release is just for those in the know, Hot Knives created instantly accessible music deserved of a mainstream audience:
Hailing from London, Mark & the Clouds are fronted by singer/guitarist and songwriter Marco Magnani. They released the excellent ‘Blue Skies Opening’ album back in the summer and if you haven’t heard this long player, now definitely is the time to take a listen.
The moment you give it a spin it’s clear there’s a host of great songs in the timeless mold; guitar laden pop-rock with a lysergic twist; or the best indie that used to assault the charts in the 80s and 90s.
From the rock swagger of ‘You Call Me Brother’, anthemic melody of ‘The Grudge’, country pistols at dawn ‘Darkened River’ to blending this all together for ‘Spirit In The World’ this really is lovely stuff.
‘Faraway Laughter’ is another that really delivers in its Beatles-Kinks jaunt.
You could say this is a retro-trip digging into those recycled vinyl blues. However it really isn’t easily to cram in all those hooks in a tight 4 minute track; as Noel Gallagher would attest to from the more bloated moments of his alma mater.
Take Mark & the Clouds to your heart and spread the word: