Distance From Zero – Pilot Error

Familiar sounds bouncing around the room at the mo as I sit back with my feet stretched forward looking out of the window. This is my usual ‘kick back n’ listen’ posture and today I’ll be mostly listening to a brand new release from Distance from Zero.

Over the years Canned Static have covered numerous releases of Manchester’s  ‘Johnny Come Latelys; from their gritty, hard edged debut ‘The Judas Factor’ to a banging collection of tracks that is ‘Collateral Damage’. Yet again I have them on loop, now with a new name and location. DFZ have now gate crashed Cornwall sending a few pasty lovers running for the hills.

‘Pilot Error’ – Eleven tracks over 47 minutes have followed me around for several days and still going strong. ‘Don’t Wrong the Rights’ opens with signature jangly guitars exchanging batons between vocals and keeping my ears hooked in. I feel this is in some ways more of the same from ‘Johnny Come Latelys’ (which is a good thing) but there are subtleties that advance this from the old band. This is a more polished production with more attention to those lovely hooks. It’s all good and still retains the original grit that I so loved about their earlier offering.

Throughout the album the themes are along the same line with a truth and honesty that needs to burst out, an integrity that is right and needs to be addressed and installed within humanity. Occasionally dark, I still find this in many ways uplifting purely from the messages within. In this vein, ‘Found Again’ stands out with lush vocals churning into a haunting chorus, just lovely.

Overall, ‘Pilot Error’ is now in place as one of my favourite album. They have got everything right from the more refined production, vocals and overall craft. Many neat yet subtle musical interchanges happening all over the show, demonstrating an overall advancement in detail.

In all the right ways, I think ‘Distance from Zero’ are on their way, highly recommended. Buy/stream and visit/support…

All links – Apple Music, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Label

  1. Don’t wrong the rights
  2. Blasphemy
  3. Found Again
  4. The Truth Behind the Lies
  5. Candyman
  6. Sick
  7. Mercy
  8. Not in my Name
  9. What’s it Worth
  10. Shame on You
  11. Saved the Day

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Erasure – The Neon

I’ve been a bit of a closet Erasure fan for some years, I say closet not out of embarassment, more so out of my on off love of their journey.

All the way back in the 80’s Erasure scaled the heights of pop stardom with an impressive chart run lasting well into the 90’s. The millenium years saw the duo fade out of sight yet they keep churning out the albums year after year.

Slowly I felt their sound wandering away from the analogue roots that made then so big in their hayday. Some of these albums were quite good, others not so. Late August 2020 sees their latest offering in the form of Neon.

From the off I feel Erasure have gone back to basics and made an album emersed within their synth pop roots. It feels so much like vintage Erasure I can almost smell the early 90’s. This is really good and totally unexpected from my expectations.

As always Vince Clark is clever with the programming and Andy Bell sounds as fresh as his earliest recordings. I understand why, in previous releases, they have ventured into new terretoris. You’ve got to move on and develop new ideas but their best stuff was always the true synth pop era. The Neon is a real throwback the days of Chorus and the like.

Die hard fans will always support Erasure and I hope their new offering attracts a new audience who missed out on those early years.

Humm Bugg – Blue Laser

Is it a bird, is it a plane…. dunno? we’re in 8 bit so it could be a flying saucer. Yes, 8 bit quirky tunes floating on a backdrop of FM waves, if that floats your boat, be the Commodore and read on…

Very much in the realms of the home-grown; 8-bit music has always had a certain fan base within the experimental scene. It’s an area of music I sometimes drop into with open mind and a little excitement as generally you will never be sure of what you are gonna get. Generally you get the ‘Mental’ in ‘Experimental’.

I certainly let out a “Hmm” when I dropped on the ‘Humm Bugg’ Bandcamp page. Met with 8-bit imagery , the cover of ‘Blue Laser’ is straight to the point. This is exactly what you are going to get. Chip tunes a plenty, short and sweet buzzing, tweaks and mods all the way.

There are 10 tracks mostly a little over 2 minutes with just the one track exceeding 4 minutes (Undiscovered Bird Planet). Very tuneful, quirky as expected from this format. I like the feel, as always from chip tunes. It’s not meant to be serious or deep music, this is fun and should draw a smile.

There are some clever twists along the way showing the programming is much deeper than what appears on this chirpy surface. Call it Sine language (sorry, can’t help myself). Seriously though, some clever stuff going on here.

There is an element of B-Movie horror going on at times. I can visualise opener, ‘Clash Manor’ dropping into an Ed Wood jr tribute. ‘Everybody is Dead Dave’, playing over the Red Dwarf cruising through deep space. The slightly more serious sounding ‘Blood’ accompanying some mad alien doom game.

The shortness of the tracks add to the appeal along with a certain comedy aspect to some of the themes. ‘Blue Laser’ is a happy, feel good experience, although short, it feels a like a shot in the arm, a quick boost of happyness to get through the day.

Currently available via Bandcamp and soon to be released on all platforms –

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Lazars Finest – We Become The Sun

Gravitate to the shining star…

Casting back to Canned Static Review April 2019 (Miss Lily Olay) my ears became acquainted with a wonderful neo-psychedelic Dutch duo named Lazars Finest. A breath of fresh air in an over populated World of sound-a-likes. I was immediately drawn to them for one simple reason… They are out there doing their own thing.

Lazars Finest-WBTS

A heavy influence of the 60’s is stamped throughout their work (another reason to like them) and this time round with ‘We Become The Sun’ I hear a move to a more progressive psychedelic rock feel. Much more of a late 60’s era jangling in the backdrop; think ‘the Beatles’ or ‘Traffic’ meet ‘The 13th Floor Elevators’ and you’re in the zone, you’ll dig it once you’re tuned in.

‘We Become The Sun’ is cool, unpretentious and best of all; ‘Lazars Finest’ are out there doing what they do for all the right reasons. Get over to their BandCamp page and buy this single and check out their other releases too.

https://lazarsfinest.bandcamp.com/track/we-become-the-sun

 

 

 

 

Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

I heard this was the biggest selling 12” vinyl of 2012, I’d also heard this was a cool alternative album sprinkling something different, a taste of fresh air etc

Lana_Del_Rey_Born_To_Die_vinyl_600x

I dived into Born To Die with so much expectation as I have not really got the bite recently from something new and exciting and from the off, I got to say I did not gel with this. Not new and certainly not very exciting, in fact somewhat predictable pop with a sprinkling of many other well trod methodology from the bubblegum pop world.

Dressing this up as alternative, trying to be the cool kid on the block; it don’t wash with me. I know Born to Die has had many favourable reviews with some very well known review platforms but I can guess how these well known platforms operate.

If mainstream teeny pop is your bag then got buy it…. nuff said here.

Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today

They’ve been around quite a while and I’m still scratching the surface with their past work. Death Cab for Cutie do tend to evolve as time goes by and some of their work has been unduly criticised or overlooked for sounding too different from x to y. Here’s one I recently pulled out and gave a spin.

Ask most of their fans which is their best work and invariably you’ll get answers relating to the early work particularly from the early millennium. Reigning high is 2003 release ‘Transatlanticism‘. Well I’m not a die hard fan but I do love the band generally speaking. My brain is wired up differently and I listen for things that hook me in, stir something deep within. So far my all time fav would have to be the 2011 masterpiece ‘Codes and Keys’ (must review this) and that is not generally regarded in the top 10.

First listen – the 2018 ‘Thank You for Today’ is very much a ‘Codes and Keys’ sound. Very melodic, beautiful sounds, intricate clever word play and flows well but the overall thing didn’t hit me like the latter did. It’s the age old problem if you love a certain album so much nothing else is going to beat it.

Second spin – hang on it is a really good album that holds its own. Way better than some reviews have suggested, in fact it is already my second fav.

Subsequent spins – this is a very good album, has the sound and feel that I love in ‘Codes and Keys’ but not quite a beater. It’s music reflects into the past, reminiscent of various events, a reflection of thoughts that are quite deep in places over the odd pop rift. It is essentially a cool album so thumbs up.

When We Drive (fan video)

Distance from Zero – What’s it Worth

Keep it close

Cast back to the Canned Static February 2017 review of Johnny Come Lately – Judas Factor EP or even further in time, to their October 2016 Messiah Complex release. Well Johnny come, he made noise (lots of it) and Johnny go…  well, not quite.  Distance from Zero is the rebadged, re-issued and refuelled Johnny Come Lately.

DFZ-01

I really liked the old band and for ‘What’s it Worth’ I’m rekindled with the same feel for the re-brand and I much prefer the new name.  The grit of Manchester life is still rushing through the veins. The core sound is big and the message is delivered with balls the size of halls, places where this band should be filling. I’m really glad the sound, style and direction has not deviated too far. It certainly sounds more polished without losing that edge. It’ll fill your head space with a wall of noise.

DFZ have put this out for free (or donate) over on Band Camp so don’t keep your distance, get in there and grab a copy.

Links –

Band Camp – https://distancefromzero.bandcamp.com/releases

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/distancefromzero/

 

Faded In Time – Tokyo Olympics

Formed in Dublin as punk outfit DC Nien, they morphed into Tokyo Olympics along with the tide of music & fashion.  Signed to Philips/Polydor in 1981 it was a short and briefly successful for a while yet ending as suddenly as it had all begun.

Tokyo Olympics 002

Vocals – Damien Gunn

Guitar – Paul McGuinness

Synths – John (Sarge) O’Hara

Sax – Joey Cashman

Bass – Brian Seales

Drum – Ken Mahon

Their early tracks have an air of New Wave but ultimately, by 83 they had evolved into that full on New Romantic sound. They toured the UK with a very young U2 in support but time was running out on the New Romantic scene & half way through the tour dates the headline was switched.

popes

After the split in 83 some members lived in and around London for some time. Paul McGuinness fronted a band called ‘Once Upon A Time’ with Sarge O’Hara on keyboards. He later joind Shane McGowans new band ‘The Popes’ eventually taking over on lead vocals when Shane quit (pictured right). At one point Paul served time in prison.

Joey Cashman acted as stage manager for ‘The Pouges’ with occasional sax work. Ken Mahon played on with various bands including a stint with North London band Bary Bright and the Freque Electric. He later returned to Ireland perusing acting roles.

Bary Bright & the Freque Electric 2

Ken Mahon (far right) with Bary Bright & the Freque Electric (1989/90)

Dog Toffee – The Future Has Been

What’s this! A debut EP released 20 years after being recorded, confused, read on…

Future Has been Cover

The story of Dog Toffee starts in the mid 90’s at the latter end of the Manchester rave scene when Factory ruled and Oasis were emerging into the super force that they became. It had all happened in Madchester, the Smiths came and went, pills had popped and a certain Order was becoming not so new.  Dog Toffee played all the venues that counted, eventually finding their way into a studio to record what was to be their debut EP ‘The Future Has Been’.

The story twists and turns several times at this point but in essence they got signed to Sony S2 which quickly became ill fated as the label wanted them to change the vocalist and overall style of the band. This was never going to happen and they parted their ways, continued on eventually recording and releasing 3 albums up to their split in 2006.

The band reformed and finally released ‘The Future Has Been’ on the 24th of March 2017. What strikes me is considering this was recorded in 1996, it sounds so fresh. What the hell were Sony thinking about all those years ago, who knows but perhaps that A&R void has long since been filled.

‘The Future Has Been’ opening track starts with ‘No Contest’ that bounces energy, short and sweet as it is, a perfect opener & a blue print for the rest. Melting into place is ‘King’, sounds almost a reprise in the first 10 seconds but very much its own. Love the mood/temp changes. Backing vocals throughout I am quickly warming to Dog Toffee with their no nonsense rock n roll.

‘Defiance’ departs a tad into a 50’s era groove, think Showaddywaddy on acid locked in a room with Motorheads gear. Doo wops are absent, instead we have some skull shafting power chords, cool, loved this one very much. On to ‘Belgrove’, another old school rocker, instantly there, hooks a plenty, I’m sold. Final track ‘Won’t Miss You’, it’s bolted on the end and sounds like a few songs bolted together medley like. Over two mins for the vocals to kick in, it’s noise noise driving noise.

Overall a solid powerful EP is on offer that should have been released 20 years before but I’m not complaining, just glad to have it on my speakers all these years later. I’m sold, it’s a great release.

Dog Toffee, The Future has Been debut EP April 24th 2017

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Johnny Come Latelys – Judas Factor (EP)

Not for the first time have Johnny Come lately graced the words of Canned Static and for good reason too. Their previous carnation, the (EP) Messiah Complex Part 1 breezed fresh air over a predictable & sanitized music scene that we are all choking on.  The eagerly anticipated ‘Part 2’ manifests itself as ‘Judas Factor’, at least I am assuming this is the part 2, it certainly follows through and more…

johnny-come-latelys-judas-factor-1

The 4 track EP kicks off with ‘I Am’, surprisingly more melodic than the previous EP but certainly no sprinkle of cheese here. Synths creeping in over an offbeat guitar, contrasting lyrics, “I am, you are” etc, clever and interesting, after death there is no resurrection. Not for the faith hearted.

‘I Was A Child’ is a lovely song about growing up, the innocence of life through young eyes, pre indoctrination. Particularly like the chorus with the dreamy backing vocals. I feel the real message in the last line “Intoxication, violation, example set, vindication”. Clever stuff.

‘Freedom’ has a cracking bass line, my favourite bass line over both EP’s. Bass envy to one side, synths return spacing out the void with swirling drones, nice touch, not to mention cool as…  I guess Freedom is pretty much the spirit of Johnny Come Latelys, it typifies their mission or fight, goal if you like. Freedom from politics, greed, corruption etc, you get the picture. It’s a solid track with a strong message.

“A Man is Only as Good as His Word” is our final track, again the message is strong delivered with grit and determination. Not the strongest of the bunch but stuck on the end it… well, ends the EP well…  all’s well and ends well. Not a bad track by any means, probably the best message here but, for me, the three preceding songs score higher in the killer department.

Overall, ‘Judas Factor’ is a big thumbs up, and I’d go further to say it has excelled beyond the ‘Messiah Complex Part 1’. Get your copy over on Band Camp, it’s available at the price you choose… another big thumbs up.

A part 3 is promised so watch this space.