Title:The Early Hours
Band:The Early Hours
Label:Spinning Top Records
Highlights:She's A Go Go
E.K. Special
Dialled Off Her Mind
Two Girls
This Is No Good

The Early Hours self funded debut CD is a brilliant album of sixties influenced garage pop that is cool, sharp and raw. It is hard to believe that the Early Hours hadn't played a live gig before recording this album, as they come across as being a really tight outfit. Lead singer Kirk Pohl has a knack for writing really catchy songs that are well complemented by Sean Carthew's simple but appropriately loud and fuzzy guitar. Highlights include the garage pop-punk of She's A Go Go, the swampy This Is No Good, the surprisingly sincere Sunshine Changes Everything and the politically incorrect Two Girls (which not surprising is the first song that they wrote with a chorus of two girls are better than one). Other songs such as Big Star and Dialled Off Her Mind have a more traditional jangly pop sound. I have no doubt that The Early Hours self titled debut album is set to become a classic even though they only released 500 copies.

Band:The Early Hours
Label:Phantom Records - CD
Corduroy Records - 12 inch LP
Hellfire Club Records - double 7 inch
Highlights:She's Where It's At
I Wonder If You'll Ever Be Mine
The Girl I Haven't Met
Happening Kid Today
Lonely With You

The Early Hours second album, Evolution, is a more refined and polished record than their debut , with more prominence given to the lead and backing vocals. However, the album still manages to retain a live and garagey feel thanks to the simple recording and production. Songs like She's Where It's At, I Wonder If You'll Ever Be Mine, Christianne and an infectious re-recording of The Girl I Haven't Met are all the sixties inspired pop songs that the Early Hours are renowned for. Elsewhere, Step Back In Time, Hard Feelings and Adult Attraction have a darker, more garage punk sound while Happening Kid Today and Soon Be Back have an upbeat, rocking beat. The highlight of the album though is the heartbreaking, Lonely With You. Clocking in at exactly 30 minutes, The Early Hours prove with Evolution that when it comes to pop and beat music, quite often less is indeed more.

Band:Euroboys (Norway)
Label:Virgin Records
Highlights:Enter The Dragon
Inspector '71
Mr Wild Guitar
Point Of No Return
Do You Know The Way To Monterey?

With a name like Euro Boys I was expecting some commercial boy band but instead Norway's Euro Boys actually are an all instrumental group playing surf, spy, kung foo and lounge themes. Extremely well played and arranged, each song on Jetage is well augmented by such exotic instruments as horns, trumpets, xylophones, flugelhorns and saxophones making this is one of the coolest CD's I've heard in ages. One of the Euro Boy's strengths is that they don't take themselves too seriously without having to resort to parody. This makes Jetage an enjoyable album to listen to more than once. Highlights include their cover of theme for the classic Bruce Lee movie Enter The Dragon, the psychedelic Point Of No Return and appropriately titled Mr. Wild Guitar. So far, Jetage is the best all instrumental album I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. It's is not often that an instrumental group can hold your attention for almost an hour let alone captivate you like this record does.

Title:Long Day's Flight 'Till Tomorrow
Band:Euroboys (Norway)
Label:Mans Ruin Records
Down The Road Of Golden Dust
Transatlantic Phonecall
Sex Kabin
Invisible Horse

When you think of 60's styled instrumental music, the names Dick Dale and Link Wray tend to immediately spring to mind. However, this is not the case with Norway's Euroboys, whose sound owes more to the likes of legendary soundtrack composers, Henry Mancini and Ennio Morricone. Their second album, Long Day's Flight 'Till Tomorrow, (the name of a classic Electric Prunes song), can only be described as a masterpiece of instrumental music (although there are vocals on two of the albums fourteen tracks). Whilst their debut, Jetage, ranged in styles and feel, Long Days Flight is a trip until itself, a complete journey from beginning to end, as the title might suggest. It seems like the bands had a reasonably large budget with which to record this album and they have put it too good use, utilizing a wide variety of instruments. Whilst the album has a progressive feel to it at times, the band don't get bogged down by excessive playing. The arrangements flow and are allowed to breathe. Long Day's Flight Till Tomorrow is not the type of album that I listen to regularly and isn't likely to appeal to everyone's tastes but there are times when it fits the mood perfectly.

Title:Come Again
Label:Rubber Records
Highlights:Tell Me How
No Suprises
Black Umbrella
Out My Window

Even's impressive second album, Come Again, sees them adopting a more traditional and classic pop sound, not unlike the Beatles prior to recording Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The first side of Come Again is near perfect with songs ranging from the jangly Tell Me How to the radio hit Black Umbrella and the more rocking No Surprises. However, it is the low key but brilliant Out My Window that is centrepiece of the album with some backwards guitars giving it a wistful neo-psychedelic feel, not unlike some long lost out-take from Revolver.

The remainder of the album is still very good but has a slighter more progressive feel, as heard in the song 4:18 (and my minds gone green) with its extended psychedelic ending. Only the last song, Getting By extends its welcome just a bit too long. Come Again will probably get Even tagged as another 'retro' pop band in the mainstream media but Even are talented and smart enough to transcend any short-sighted tags by knowing that there is no substitute for writing good songs.

Title:A Different High
Label:Rubber Records
Highlights:Electric Light
Life Gets In The Way
Shining Star
Beautiful Day

Even's third album, A Different High, sees the band continuing to evolve and experiment whilst still remaining true to their classic pop roots, something their last album Come Again hinted at. The dominating mood and sentiment throughout A Different High is much more introspective and reflective than previous albums, no doubt caused by the death of close friend Ian Williams (as depicted in the lyrics of the song Life Gets In The Way);

When your friends chose to die
You pinch yourself
To work out why
There?s not a lot you can say
Except life gets in the way

an event that deeply affected Ashley Naylor, who wrote the majority of the albums songs whilst living in the country. Other highlights include the charming pop of Shining Star, Seconds and Electric Light while the touching Beautiful Day features some gorgeous pedal steel guitar from ex-Triffid Graham Lee. Add to this the dense and lush production of Chris Dickie and the result is that A Different High is Even's most varied, poignant and accomplished album yet.

That said I have a few criticisms that can't go unsaid. The average song length is almost 5 minutes (and this is from a band who called their first album Less Is More) Also the lyrics to Kommerical Radio, a song about how bad commercial radio is, seem a little naff compared to the rest of album while Bowie In My Dreams is just to hippy-dippy in its sentiments and would have been better left as a B-side. Nevertheless, A Different High is Even's crowning achievement so far in what has been a shining career.