The Volga Sturgeon Face E.P. – Nathan Hall and the Sinister Locals

Nathan Hall claims to create music which ‘mixes psychedelia with baroque touches’ and that’s as good a description of this debut EP from the Soft Hearted Scientists front man’s other band as any.

Beginning with the pop psych of ‘Everybody’s Burning Effigies’, a wonderfully upbeat XTC-like slice of 60s tinged loveliness, the EP slides gracefully into the more musically mellow ‘Song for the Flowers’.  ‘Like a Setting Sun’ adds some orchestration and has a bit of a Peter Gabriel feel to it, before the record comes to an end with ‘Catacombs of Camden Town’, back in XTC (and Genesis) territory.

It’s a short listen, but a rewarding one, and the ideal way to discover whether you like Hall’s work (or are wrong, and don’t!)

If you only listen to one track, listen to this

https://nathanhallandthesinisterlocals.bandcamp.com/album/the-volga-sturgeon-face-e-p

(digital only)

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Bellow the Surface – Shae Bird

Not my usual kind of thing really, but I heard ‘If I Followed my Heart’ somewhere, and was delighted to discover there was an entire album of the same kind of clever, witty guitar pop from the same artist.

The album is perhaps best summed up by Bird‘s description on their Bandcamp page:

‘content warnings: gun, sexual assault, being trapped, losing the will to live (cheerful ukulele context)’

It genuinely does contain all of those elements, plus a smattering of more than decent guitar and violin playing and some killer melodies.  Like a cheery sounding Joni Mitchell singing some especially cutting Leonard Cohen lyrics, this is a surprising and often moving record (‘Smile’ is a particularly extreme example) which really deserves a physical release.

While you’re waiting for that, you could do far worse than picking up the download.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this

https://shaebird.bandcamp.com/album/bellow-the-surface

(digital only)

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