Title: Dust and Dirt
Label: Rhythmethod/ DRM
Tell me more: The Seeds were planted in 1998 and this six to seven piece New Zealand band has remained pretty constant, both in their line up and their love of reggae and ska.
The Lowdown: Solid Ground from 2008 moved the Seeds in a slightly different direction, one that encompassed more influences. This is something they’ve developed even more on Dust and Dirt, although the trademark grooves and skanks are very much in abundance.
You can imagine they’ve been listening to early 70s funk, early 90s acid jazz and Curtis Mayfield on the tour bus. There’s an enormous amount of great ideas on this album, which is undoubtedly their finest yet, and the one that could smash open doors in North America, Europe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Loose Cartilage is apparently inspired by an AC/DC gig though clearly attended with a sachet of good quality weed; Frostbite reminds me of much of Mike Fabulous’s solo project Lord Echo and Love Me Now is the kind of laidback reggae New Zealand acts do so well.
Title: Majestic Dandelion
Label: Sound Cafe
Tell me more: If I could I would. The Dandelions are a new act from somewhere in Scotland, featuring the brothers Craig and Graeme Ralston, one of whom has an unfortunate likeness to the super-weasel Mick Hucknall, and bassist Liam Kavanagh.
The Lowdown: Indie pop ain’t dead yet. New record label Sound Café have discovered a very amenable outfit dripping with influences in Britpop and Cream, that creates a mash that reminds me of Waterboys offshoot World Party, though they are probably unaware of that act. Born Near the River is wonderfully ear and radio friendly, Time Is on Your Side is equally complaisant, Just Having Fun is a jolly romp. However, Falling Over Laughing is the kind of thing I would expect from a C-grade indie rock band from Doncaster trying to be ‘intense’. That aside Porky hopes this album attracts the attention of people who know better, and at 28 minutes it is the perfect length in this concentration and time-challenged era.
Anything else: Go check soundcaferecords.co.uk
Title: Dark Days
Tell me more: Three lads from Edmonton, Canada’s fifth-largest conurbation who glorify in the label new-wave revivalists.
The Lowdown: Cygnets appear to revel in the term dark optimism, which of course sounds like an oxymoron. They tackle human issues, subjects that effect and affect us all but they often find a way out of the crevasse. Musically, while they espouse such lights as The Smiths and Depeche Mode they remind me of the many early and mid-80s bands who, while not goth, were bleak, minimalist and used emerging technology. Most of them didn’t do that well: think Theatre of Hate, the Virgin Prunes, Xmal Deutschland, and their most contemporary cousins, The Horrors. This is not easy listening, it doesn’t find a comfortable compartment in the brain, rather it takes a number of listens to ‘get it’ and then in a certain mood.
Anything else: You can get free music, including this album, at cygnetsnotswans.com