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The Petals' Butterfly Mountain, on Camera Obscura Records, was one of my favourite albums reviewed in this issue. After hearing this I got in touch with the band, who also run November Rain Records, and got some of their other releases. As well as several CDs and 7"s on November Rain, I got the LP version of Traveling By Spore, by Stuntz's Blue Leg Expedition (a Petals side project consisting of Cary Wolf and 12 other musicians, several of whom are also in The Petals), released by September Gurls Records. I bought the CD version of this when it came out in the late 90s, but this LP is still worth having as the track listing is different. Requiem for Viv, Dangerous Sleep, The Land of Serpentine and Hex Bag from the CD are not included here, but the LP has instead Kitchen Jig and Grizelda's Metal Box which were not included on the CD. This is brilliant psych-folk with a wide variety of instruments, including banjo, autoharp, sitar, moog, mandolin, Celtic pipes, flute, panpipes, violin, woodblocks, recorder, folk harp and kettledrums, alongside the more usual instrumentation. The music has much in common with The Petals, especially the sitar-laden title track and Coves of Her Mind. Not to be missed if you're a fan of Cary Wolf's main band.

Another Petals side project is The Cake People - I have their Statues 7" and Cake Fold Sleeve double 7", both on November Rain. Statues is on grey marbley vinyl - statue colour, I guess. This song has the sort of melody you'd expect from The Petals, but the arrangement is very different. This is psychedelic rock with very loud guitars. The B-side, Going Away, isn't a noisy song, but hazy psych-pop with a folky touch. Both songs are excellent. Cake Fold Sleeve has great surreal artwork from Lance Lawrie, and is on purple and green vinyl (incidentally, my two favourite colours!) Some years back I got a Zero Budget Records compilation double 7" in a gatefold sleeve, which also featured artwork from Lance Lawrie; I recognised his style of art immediately when seeing the Cake People 7" sleeve. Charms is really brill psych-folk-pop with a Petals-like tune and tongue-in-cheek lyrics about fairies and cake. She Is Cake has Petals-like instrumentation, including sitar, but the song itself is nothing like them - an off-kilter spoken track. Watering Can is excellent psych-pop with folky and quirky elements. Ice Fishing is quirky psychedelia with backwards guitar and gruff vocals.

Parahelion is The Petals' first album, released by November Rain. The songs here are essentially psych-pop, with additional folk and occasional rock elements, and are all ultra-melodic. This CD is totally fantastic, packed full of completely brilliant songs. It's an album I want to play all the way through; there are no specific favourites and no duffers here, all songs are superb. I can't praise this album enough, it's a real classic. I've been listening to this a lot of late and I'm sure I'll be listening to it for a long time to come as well.

The follow-up, also on November Rain, is Cadis Center. This is yet another psych-pop masterpiece! The songs vary from delicate folky tracks (such as Silver) to music with a strong rock influence (such as Old Blue Dress and Tim's Song) as well as a whole host of more poppy tracks, such as Project Magnet, a supremely catchy song about flying saucers, which comes complete with UFO sound effects, and which makes me grin from ear to ear whenever I listen to it! I've had this song on the brain so much lately! Once again, there's not a duff track to be heard on this album. I've come to the conclusion this band can do no wrong!

Due out next year on November Rain is Buds & Blossoms, a Petals compilation album consisting of tracks from singles and compilations. The band were kind enough to send me an advance CDR of this. The version I have appears to be taken directly from the records, as you can hear surface noise at the start and end of tracks, but as it's marked 'Prototype', it's possible that the finished article will be cleaned up a bit? Even if it's not, this is still a good chance to hear assorted tracks from The Petals, most of which are probably hard to find now. Included is the sort of psych-pop-folk typical of the band, as well as Dreamtime, a hazy, hypnotic song with lashings of sitar and backwards guitar, that is more overtly psychedelic than their usual material, and a cover of the Hawkwind song Hurry on Sundown, featuring woodwind, sitar and spacey synth.

Also in the works is a new Stuntz's Blue Leg Expedition album - I for one am keen to hear this! Yes, I can safely say The Petals, and their side projects, have created some of the most exciting music I've heard in a long while. For more info on the band and their November Rain label, contact name-is-julia@carolina.rr.com


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Text Kim Harten, 2003.