The Heavy Blinkers - Solomon Harper - Tiny Magnetic Pets - The Tearaways - Wild Honey - Playboy Manbaby

The Heavy Blinkers - The Night And I Are Still So Young.

Background - Canada's Label Obscura is proud to announce the upcoming reissue of one of the best independent pop albums of the early 2000s - 'The Night And I Are Still So Young' by The Heavy Blinkers. This is the first time this classic album will be released on vinyl. 

Described by Spin magazine as "one of the greatest bands you've (probably) never heard", The Heavy Blinkers is a five-piece formed in 1998 by Jason Michael MacIsaac and a group of friends, including keyboardist and songwriter Andrew Watt and ethereal vocalist Ruth Minnikin. They are based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

By 2004, the intricate and tightly constructed chamber pop of The Heavy Blinkers had become well known, winning them widespread acclaim, albeit without corresponding commercial success for their self-titled debut release in 2000 and the 'Better Weather' LP in 2002. The band reached a remarkable breakthrough with their fourth album 'The Night and I Are Still So Young' (2004), exhibiting a new maturity in this stunningly orchestrated pop masterpiece.

At the time that 'The Night and I Are Still Young' was recorded, The Heavy Blinkers were comprised of Andrew Watt, Greg Fry, Jason MacIsaac, Ruth Minnikin, and Trevor Forbes. MacIsaac is currently the only remaining original member of the band.

Two years in the making, this album consolidates the nocturnal orchestrations of the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev and grafts them onto material akin to 70's era Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson or Randy Newman. This has led to the group gathering fans wide and afar, including Sondre Lerche, Van Dyke Parks and The High Llamas.

The luscious pop songmanship of this album has earned The Heavy Blinkers comparisons with Brian Wilson's best work at his peak, as well as international acclaim and devoted fans. The band's sonic landscape is rich with multi-tracked vocals featuring an affecting interplay between Minnikin, Watt and MacIsaac, combined with a virtual enchanted forest of arrangements. Website here, Facebook here, Label Obscura here

It's hard to remember just how geographically limited releases could be, in the days before mp3's and the plethora of sites & outlets we have become so accustomed to. 'The Night And I Are Still So Young' certainly came and went without my knowing. Both the title song and the album are just so fabulous, that even if vinyl isn't your thing, go and download and own this work!


Solomon Harper - Bones.

Background - Sydney based artist Solomon Harper grew up in the central suburbs of Auckland City listening to the innovators of every genre and era, style and swagger. Influences include Alabama Shakes, Ray Charles and Al Green to name but a few. He is the new father of one bonny baby girl and a gut wrenching new EP, All The Things We Made, featuring the single, ‘Bones’, you’ll want to download yesterday.

Solomon’s debut EP, recorded at Linear Recording Studios in the heart of Sydney, sounds like the illegitimate love child of a Soul, Funk and RnB threesome.

Solomon’s musical evolution started young drumming for Punk bands in his teens, belting out Pennywise anthems and NoFX fixtures. Discovering Motown magic and smooth soul in his twenties transformed his style from rough and roll to sultry soul. Song writing skill has developed during the course of Solomon’s real world career in the coal fields of composition, tending bar, construction, kitchen dish bitch and all the highs and lows, loves and losses between.

Working between colonies he has cut his teeth in the real world jamming with rock royalty in clubs and pubs hosting live performances in Sydney, Auckland and anywhere good sounds are appreciated and encouraged. With tours and guest appearances pending Solomon will soon be upstaging established artists in their home territory, whether in Taihape, Towoomba or Timbuktu.

With echoes of Paolo Nutini and shades of Kings of Leon, Solomon delivers an original soul stirring set including ‘Bones’, ‘Devils Son’, ‘Tale of You’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘All We’ve Got’, all destined to regularly repeat on your MP3 player of choice.

Solomon gives his gat’ a voice carved out of the underbelly of street life, the sweet life and occasional strife experienced on both sides of the ditch. His hard work, dedication and grit are etched into every note with love and lust, sweat and beers. Instagram here.

'Bones' is a classy song, the music is tight, mixing elements of blues, rock and soul, and the vocals are earnest, passionate and just right for this style of music.


Tiny Magnetic Pets - Semaphore / Seconds From Sleep.

Background - Dublin's Tiny Magnetic Pets release their new album 'Deluxe / Debris'. It's an LP of pop infused Germanic synthpop featuring two collaborations with ex-Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flür. Named after the collectable Japanese toy, Tiny Magnetic Pets are unusual on the current Irish music scene. Rather than be influenced by singer / songwriters or indie rock, the inspiration behind their music comes from Bowie’s Berlin period, 70’s krautrock, 80’s synthpop and early disco. With the quintessentially pop vocal delivery of Paula Gilmer, it could be said that Tiny Magnetic Pets operate in uncharted musical water, somewhere between Kylie and Kluster.

The band have accrued strong support for their blend of electronic European pop. Ex-Visage member and founder of the Blitz club, Rusty Egan, has been an enthusiastic champion with a remix of their track ‘Control Me’. Another fan is Andy McCluskey from OMD who in 2016 recommended the band “for all lovers of distinctive electronic music”. After opening for NEU! legend Michael Rother at the Electri-City festival in Düsseldorf, they played a blistering show which led to them opening for ex-Kraftwerk member, Wolfgang Flür. That show was a defining moment for Tiny Magnetic Pets, leading to two collaborations with the technopop legend on this new album.

“Deluxe/Debris” is a brilliant encapsulation of what they do best. Drifting effortlessly between blasts of perfect pop with songs like ‘Guiding Light’ to ten minute epics such as live favourite, ‘Semaphore’ with its krautrock beat and swirling electronics. ‘Cold War Neon’ is a moody suspenseful instrumental that ideally would soundtrack series two of cold war thriller Deutschland 83. Never afraid to experiment, there are two versions of ‘Here comes the noise’, part one is atmospheric and reflective in a David Bowie Berlin-period way, with part two is like an infectious Pet Shop Boys hit sung by an exuberant Sarah Cracknell. On top of this are the two collaborations with Wolfgang Flür ‘Radio On’ and ‘Never Alone’ both of which give a Germanic seal of approval to the Irish trio’s thrilling electronic excursions.

With each track seguing into one another, like side two of Abbey Road or Oxygene, and without ruthlessly pushing all the hits to the start of the record for the sake of Spotify streams, “Deluxe/Debris” harks back to a period when albums were listened to from start to finish. Yet it’s breezy, optimistic take on the electronic pop sound, is reassuringly familiar and effortlessly fresh. “Deluxe/Debris” is the perfect soundtrack for complicated times. Order record here, Facebook here, Bandcamp here.

Eleven minutes of synth centred music that just oozes German influences makes 'Semaphore / Seconds From Sleep' a must hear. Dublin's Tiny Magnetic Pet's have delivered a notable new album with 'Deluxe / Debris' featuring ten masterful songs. It's a collection that may well appeal to lovers of Krautrock, synthpop and even classic disco, whilst maintaining originality and creativity that the band can rightly claim as their own.


The Tearaways - Bash.

Background - Powerpop records should only be released in the Summer. I’m not kidding. It’s an unequivocal, scientific fact that the kind of jangly noise made by your typical powerpop beat combo is best appreciated between late May and early September. Or in the UK, that weekend in mid-August when the drizzle is slightly warmer than usual. Harmonies, big choruses and songs about unrequited love make way more sense in the sunshine. I blame the Beach Boys.

The Tearaways have got the timing just right. If you’re looking for something to play in the car on that road trip to the coast, then look no further. Backyard BBQ soundtrack? Ditto. Headphone listening on the beach? Do I need to tell you again? “DW Hofner, Martin Gibson, Ludwig Rickenbacker, Earle Hammond & Vox Fender, ESQ”, in spite of its lumpy title, is distilled, bottled sunshine. And it’s OK to apply it liberally.

So, who are the Tearaways? Powerpop royalty, that’s who. They’ve been shaking their Paul McCartney 1966 hairdos since 1981, picking up admirers like Tom Hanks and Rodney Bingenheimer on the way. Even Piers Morgan is a fan. I’m not sure how I feel about that. With all that history they should be damn good, right? They are. And so is this album.

This isn't a two bit affair either. Any band with Clem Burke on drums has to be taken seriously and Earle Mankey is involved in the Production. These guys are serious and what they've produced is a mixture of good time sounds with real melody and they've taken chances. All in all, admirable and refreshing. Bandcamp here, website here.

'Bash' is but a small glimpse and taste of  The Tearaways new exuberant collection of power pop, that comes with a album title that just sticks in your head (DW Hofner, Martin Gibson, Ludwig Rickenbacker, Earle Hammond & Vox Fender, ESQ) if you get my point. This is fun, highly addictive and buoyant music that fires hooks and catchy themes throughout.


Wild Honey - Break Away.

Background - Fiercely independent and at risk of blowing a fuse, Sydney's Wild Honey come through today with new single 'Break Away', the first track off their upcoming debut full-length album.

Recorded with Jack Moffitt (The Preatures, Mosquito Coast) and mixed by Doug Boehm (Girls, Dune Rats), 'Break Away' serves as an anthemic call to arms for anyone who feels like they are going through the motions. Frontman and songwriter Thom Moore explains “After my Nan died, I just couldn't seem to adjust. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life working in a job that failed to satisfy me, and really only served to cover the rent. I want to believe there is more to life than that, and it’s up to us to go and make that happen”.

And things are definitely happening for the five piece. Emerging with their self-titled debut EP in 2016, Wild Honey's first track 'Eye To Eye' scored solid rotation on triple j and the band hit the road nationally with supports for fellow indie darlings The Belligerents, Hinds and Twin Peaks. Rounding out the year with a performance at Lost Paradise, the band racked up a whopping sixty shows in twelve months. 

Following it's premiere on triple j's Home & Hosed last night, Wild Honey launch the single at Sydney's Landsdowne Hotel on Saturday July 29. The live appearance is Wild Honey's first headliner for 2017 and a chance for fans to hear a stack of unreleased material from the five piece. Twitter here.

If you like a rousing indie rock song then 'Break Away' should meet most of your needs, complete with some very catchy hooks, plus energy and passion. Not bad for just one song.


Playboy Manbaby - Last One Standing.

Background - "With a name like Playboy Manbaby you’d be forgiven for thinking that these guys had come together solely to soundtrack the current political shitstorm crashing down around our ears from over the pond, but the fact is that they have been rollicking from venue to venue for the best part of a decade. On "Don’t Let It Be"(Lolipop/Dirty Water) however, their third album, they’ve really pushed and refined their modern post-punk-o-rama sound to craft their best record yet.  

Off the back of the album's first single, "You Can Be A Fascist Too, (released freely last November to coincide with the US election) They seem to have really hit the current mood of half the western world with this tongue in cheek take down of narrow-minded lowest common denominator thinkers, taking a clear and direct shot at the traditional and so-called alt-right.

The sparse jittery verses of their latest single and video offering, "Last One Standing" let their mischievous post punk Oingo Boingo stylings jump through to the fore, hammering home that they are no pigeon-holed gabba gabba hey punk band, but rather one with a real playful wit and style that makes Don’t Let It Be an album to keep on coming back to.

When a band writes a record that encapsulates a moment, but with such aplomb that it will outlast the changes hopefully to come, you know it has the potential to catapult the underground into living rooms the world over. Ranting and raving at the state of your rut stuck life has rarely sounded like so much fun.

The band are fleeing their melting ('at least it's a dry heat') habitat of Phoenix, Arizona - which has felt successive weeks of average temperatures of around 110-115 fahrenheit (43-45 celsius) - seeing one day reaching the 120 mark! (49) They will hit the road on Friday for a twelve night, eleven city, relief trip being dubbed "Heat Escape Tour 2017". Pray tell, they don't bring the weather with them... even if they are a shit-hot band; you'd better be cool enough. Live dates on Beehive Candy's tour news page, website here.

It was back in January that we first featured the unique Playboy Manbaby. 'Last One Standing' is accompanied by a video (West Side Story anyone?)  that suitably matches this crazy and massively addictive band.