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


A Turntable Friend Records returns with three new LPs, starting with BIG TIDE's Sync or Swim. Big Tide is the brainchild of Liverpool musician Ben Thomas, who had previously been involved in the electronic music scene with house project L'Etranger. Disillusioned with dance music, Ben toured with Spectrals as lead guitarist and subsequently formed his own band Big Tide, which is primarily a solo project. Ben plays most of the instruments on Sync or Swim, the album also featuring guest appearances from former members of Hookworms, Spectrals and Deadwall. Three songs from the album were released as digital singles, with the album following on gatefold LP, CD and download. There are no hints at all here of Ben's former existence as a dance music producer; this is sophisticated ultramelodic janglepop that nods towards the likes of Big Star, Teenage Fanclub and The Byrds, while also bringing in much that is new and original. Wrong Number is anthemic powerpop with chiming Rickenbacker, summery vocal harmonies and bursts of sax. Make a Baby sounds like a more contemporary and more English Byrds, full of jangle, harmonies and atmospheric dreamlike use of slide guitar. Sync or Swim is soulful pop with a lilting, bouncy rhythm, incorporating a jazz-influenced guitar solo. Thirst for the Limelight is janglepop with wailing sax and a cutting lyrical wit. I Could Walk Away starts with a gentle glockenspiel intro, giving way to gutsy janglepop. The album has much to appeal to fans of the classic janglepop and powerpop sounds, whilst also showing a strong sense of innovation, such as the use of sax within a janglepop setting and the soul and jazz elements of the title track.

THE CLAIM are back with their first new recordings since 1992 in the shape of latest album The New Industrial Ballads. In some ways, the new album continues where the band left off, such as with the stomping indie-mod of Journey, the type of song that led Spain's El País to tag the band as the missing link between The Kinks and Blur; Hercules, angular noisepop with an unexpected peal of chiming guitars introduced partway through; and the super-melodic late 80s-style indiepop of Music/Pictures. Elsewhere, The Claim introduce several new facets to their sound. The album opens and closes with Johnny Kidd's Right Hand Man and Under Canvas respectively, two songs of plaintive folk in the spirit of Bert Jansch and Nick Drake, the former track also including a French horn arrangement reminiscent of the brass and silver bands that are such a big part of the heritage of heavy-industry towns. Light Bending combines gutsy pop with elements of British folk, American folk and skiffle. Gamma Rays is ethereal and dreamlike, pairing retro-futuristic synth with mournful brass. Estuary Greens and Blues is an anthemic mix of mod oomph, classic rock and orchestral sophistication. Whilst there is a diverse array of styles that have played their part in shaping The New Industrial Ballads, it holds together as a complete album, with honest and real songwriting grounded in the experiences of working people.

PAUL DEN HEYER (Fishmonkeyman, The Red Garter Snakes) has now released his debut solo album on A Turntable Friend, entitled Everything So Far. Paul brings British alt-pop and folk and American psych-folk-pop together to create a genre he calls 'Britanicana'. Technicolor Summer Sunshine is hazy, dreamlike pop, with slide guitar and harmonica providing American folk touches. Unfolding (Revisited) is Byrds meets British folk wrapped in a psychedelic swirl - really lovely stuff. Passing of the Season recalls late 80s indiepop whilst also incorporating a strong Byrds influence. Clear Sunlight View is mellow psych-pop, whilst End of the Summer is plaintive acoustic contemporary folk. The album is full of truly beautiful songwriting; I hope to hear more from Paul Den Heyer in future.

All LPs come with lyric sheets, full colour A Turntable Friend catalogue inserts, and download codes. CD format is also available, along with downloads via the usual digital platforms. Visit www.aturntablefriendrecords.com


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