When I received an email from someone called Emperor Of Ice Cream…. well my eyebrows did go up a fair way. I was to find out that this is not a person, but rather a collective, from Cork in Ireland and they were releasing their newest single, “Winter Pages“, on November the 18th. John ‘Haggis’ Hegarty (vocals), Graham Finn (guitar), Edward Butt (bass) and Colum Young (drums) are the Emperor Of Ice Cream, and they are on the label, FIFA Records. These guys have been a thing since the early 90s but are only put out their debut album in 2020, which came out under the title, No Sound Ever Dies.

A chiming wall of guitar embraces your senses, dragging away your thoughts and the singing is as sweet as the nicest of memories of love, entangles you in the sonic web of glorious noise. They reach into a place where longing and loss are powerful body blows, leaving you in the cold.

Wow. Just ohmygod….wow. You would never think anyone calling themselves Emperor Of Ice Cream would sound like that. They truly did blow me away with that one song. Utterly beautiful in both lyrics and musically. Shoegaze, when done correctly, is magical and in many ways, these guys remind me of early Ride, whom I consider to have been the pinnacle of creating amazing walls of tone and sighing harmonics that take you away to some other place. Play it, play it, play it and then play it again. The Emperor Of Ice Cream has gifted you “Winter Pages“.

Winter Pages | Emperor of Ice Cream (bandcamp.com)

Emperor of Ice Cream | Cork | Facebook

FIFA Records – Forever In Financial Arrears | Cork | Facebook

It can’t rain all the time but sometimes it “Feels Like Rain” which also happens to be the Signia Alpha single, released on the 11th of November. The band is made up of singer/lyricist Harris (yes just one name like Prince), multi instrumentalist composer Matt Webster (drums, guitar), flaunting his flute style is Chris Walsh, along with jazz master Keith Jafrate on sax and some bloke called Paul Gray who normally plays bass in some kitch band called The Damned.

Every time I have listened to this, I think Paisley Park, as in the 60s. Could be the use of the flute or the happy go lucky vibe of the music, though not all is as it seems. Lyrically it is about poverty and how it sucks away all until you only live under a constant weight and greyness, which is not living.

The Bradford area is in the North of England and since the industrial revolution, suffered high levels of poverty and unemployment. A breeding ground for musicians who are great storeytellers. “Feels Like Rain” rolls along just like the days do but with a social concious.

https://signiaalpha.bandcamp.com/track/feels-like-rain

Signia Alpha | Facebook

Ireland’s pMad has released a single, on the 31st of August, called “Sisters“. Paul Dillion is pMad, a member of the bands The Suicidal Dufflecoats and The Greeting, now turning his hand to this solo post-punk, gothic inspired project.

There is a pervading, shrouded veil of seriousness and mourning. The shoegaze dirge of loss and bereavement penetrates all, with the guitar work driving in the nails of sorrow and Dillion’s vocals low in reverence.

Sisters” was created in reference to loved ones, who have past away far too early, leaving others to grieve them, but also to be thankful for being in their presence. It’s nice to have a track that both highlights the sadness of death and also wants to say that every moment counts. It shows a deft hand to be able to express yourself in a track like this. So, pMad encourages you to hold your “Sisters” close, even if it is just in your heart.

http://www.pmadtheband.com/

https://pmad.bandcamp.com/

https://m.facebook.com/pMadtheband/

https://www.instagram.com/pmadtheband/

Bradford, in the north of England, known for their working class pride and also for their musical storytellers. This brings us to the pairing of Nick Toczek & Signia Alpha for the album, The Columbus Memoirs, released on the 4th of June. Nick Toczek is a ranting poet (as in they emotionally air their grievances in angry monologue and normally in the form of free verse), while Signia Alpha is Matt Webster, supported by a revolving retinue of musicians, creating post-punk style music incoporating funk, jazz and indie rock.

The first track “The Hour Glass” is literally about time and how there is never enough of it. The guitars wail in a cacophony of noise and it is wonderful plus I am sure I heard a flute. There is a near aching colonial sadness in “Another Shoreline” as the music ebbs and flows as a ship on the ocean. A track about the movement of slaves for the advancement of Imperialism and capital gain which comes with a loss of culture and identity. There might be a slight nod to the sound track War Of The Worlds, especially in mentioning H.G.Wells with the track “Time Tripper” in the wandering guitars and it is not aliens but rather can the Earth survive the human race’s selfish ways.

The psych-funk is strong in “Threads” with amazing bass thumping through the track as Toczek contemplates how technology has changed the world and everyone is being watched. The tempo changes and swings before we are given the next piece, “Dead Lines” because while the print press was huge at the end of a second world war, there is an air of live for now and excess…maybe they were dead inside and the music reflects the era of glamorous jazz filled soirees, at high end bars. “Just For A Moment” is a simple lament for a lost one and the sax reaches into your soul to touch that memory, so real.

With “Moonwatchers“, for me is like, looking at the night sky and the moon as a child, with a wild imagination that conjures up all sorts of stories, which some of us never grow out of. A lightness and joy in reveling in the darkness, the edge of where reality and lore meet in the inky hours. The 60s funk is dripping through with “Four And A Half“, a tale of youth and a telling of past experiences with near fatal consequences, sucking you in with the true events. For the title track, “The Columbus Memoirs“, North America is similar to a pop-up book, watching a strange amalgamation of that nation’s history, the oddities that make it what it is. I don’t think Columbus would recognise the America he first stood on to claim for Spain. I listen to this and cannot help to hear a line from a song of the band, The Church, Oh Columbus, I never should have let you go. The final track, “Dignity“, is straight out sleazy rock. A song for the survivors, the refugees, the tortured and maimed, to whom the world turns a blind eye and yet deserve so much more than being told they are a burden and should be grateful for a handful of dust.

The level of musicianship is stellar. Webster has really got some top notch talent to help out, which includes Paul Gray (The Damned) playing on four of the tracks. It is political at times and that is the raw punk edge showing but also wistful and even tender tinged sadness, all by using voice of a wordsmith while the music gives those words greater weight and emotional depth. I think the poetry is masterfully woven throughout and the instruments given their own voice in a story, that as of yet, has not an end.

The Columbus Memoirs | Nick Toczek & Signia Alpha (bandcamp.com)

Nick Toczek & Signia Alpha | Facebook

Signia Alpha | Facebook