Welcome to Bliss/Aquamarine - alternative, underground and indie music.


Taking its name from a lyric from The Orchids' Apologies, A Turntable Friend was originally founded in 1990 and was one of my favourite labels of the era for indiepop and related genres. The label went on hiatus in 1999 but returned in 2017 with The Test of Time compilation album covering the first phase of the label, and followed this with several new releases and reissues from the likes of Easy, Bradford, The Wolfhounds, and the latest project of The Room's Paul Cavanagh and Dave Jackson, The Room in the Wood.

Following THE ROOM IN THE WOOD's debut self-titled album, they now have a 4-song CD, The Mars EP. Mars Won't Save Us is riff-driven psychedelic rock with a pop heart, casting a sceptical eye over all those big ideas about humans colonising Mars. Time Machine is elegant guitar pop reminiscent of the proto-indiepop stirrings during the post-punk era. Every Lie attacks assorted fundamentalists, brainwashers and bigots, within an inventive musical setting perhaps best described as post-punk alt-country. Get Clear features a Spanish-tinged melody enveloped in a twangy guitar sound recalling Spaghetti Western movie soundtracks. A well-crafted EP bringing a diverse set of influences into a cohesive whole.

JASMINE MINKS will need no introduction to anyone who's been following indie music for any length of time; they were the first band signed to Creation back in 1984 when Creation was still a real independent label. Their latest single Step by Step is out now on blue vinyl on A Turntable Friend. Step by Step is super-melodic, chiming janglepop with bite, while Gravity is catchy, anthemic powerpop with a soaring psychedelic instrumental section. A truly superb pair of songs that definitely won't disappoint fans of this band.

Following the Wolfhounds' Peel sessions album reviewed earlier this issue, there is now a new Wolfhounds-related release on A Turntable Friend. Wolfhounds guitarist Andrew Golding has a new solo project, DRAGON WELDING (an anagram of his name), whose debut self-titled album is out now on CD in six-panel gatefold card wallet. All instruments here are played by Andrew Golding, plus a handful of tracks feature guest backing vocals from family members Alice and James Golding. There's a diverse mix of sounds going on here, from the dissonant experimental opener Dirty Stick to the floaty, shimmering, ambient post-rock of Lament for Common Sense, but the common thread of much of the album is a kind of modern psychedelia with hypnotic, atmospheric and noisy components that has gained past comparisons to Neu! and The Telescopes. The Builders is atmospheric noise-rock with clattering drums and a hypnotically repetitive riff running throughout. One Miserable Summer is a very lovely piece combining psych-folk with shoegaze effects. Slap is intense instrumental psych-rock with sprinklings of atmospheric electronics. Join the Dots features a strong melody backed by a driving rhythmic chug swathed in ethereal shoegaze noise. The Dumb is sophisticated pop set to angular, mechanistic electronica. Bucket List No. 1 is beautiful acoustic psych-folk giving way to its airy, dreamlike electric counterpart Bucket List No. 2. An inventive album that has much to recommend to fans of forward-thinking psychedelic music.

THE CLAIM were among the bands on A Turntable Friend during the label's first incarnation, with their 1992 single Say So which I still vividly remember buying. Previous records had been released by Trick Bag, Esurient and Caff, including the acclaimed album Boomy Tella, originally released by Esurient in 1988. A Turntable Friend has now reissued Boomy Tella, remastered from the original tapes by Graham Semark. The album is available on limited edition heavyweight green vinyl in a lavish gatefold sleeve with lyrics, memorabilia pics, and notes by guitarist David Arnold; a download code is also included which comprises the full album plus four bonus demos from the same era. The album is also available on CD which includes the same tracks as the download. Not So Simple Sharon Says combines punchy late 80s indiepop with a sense of angularity that recalls The Claim's Esurient and A Turntable Friend labelmates Hellfire Sermons. Beneath the Reach is a bouncy, trombone-driven number coming across like a mix of The Kinks, Orange Juice and Blur, the latter of whom had not yet formed when this album first came out, though I wouldn't be at all surprised if The Claim were an early influence on that band. All About Hope is an amazing song, full of that jangly guitar sound I so love. Down by the Chimney is angular and jangly pop with a chuggy powerpop chorus. Mrs Shepherd is a fine slice of 60s-style pop. Sanity Starts at Home sets observational, storytelling lyrics to spiky, choppy-changey pop. A well-deserved reissue for this superb album. A brand new album from The Claim, The New Industrial Ballads, is due to follow later in May 2019, which I'm definitely keen to hear.

As well as the vinyl and CD formats reviewed here, all of these releases are also available as downloads via the usual platforms such as iTunes and Google Play. Physical formats are available worldwide, distributed by SRD, or available direct from the label at www.aturntablefriendrecords.com


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Site developed by Chris Harten and maintained by Kim Harten
Text Kim Harten, 2019.