About Lo-tech solutions . . .
Merchandise's new album Lo-tech Solutions to Hi-tech Problems has been gathering an embarrassment of adoring reviews.
As the title suggests, the album is the result of duo Brad B Wood and Conrad Astley marrying luscious acoustic loveliness with all the wonders of the electronic age.
And the marriage, as a host of reviewers and radio DJs have already noticed, is certainly a happy one, with tracks taken from it having caught the attention of good people everywhere.
Blowback magazine wrote: "Merchandise make the kind of acoustic electronica that'd be the soundtrack to a summer picnic in Hyde Park, with cute animals frolicking in the sun. A whole album of beautiful music. The sound of pastoral idylls and eternal sunshine."
Elsewhere, Gill Rickson of SBN Radio commented: "It's like someone got hold of Rae and Christian and made them cut up a Kings of Convenience album."
Plenty more of these reviews can be found at www.cityscaperecords.co.uk.
Beautiful Morning for a Bad Day and 14:53 are two of the stand-out tracks which have been turning reviewers' heads - gorgeous pop songs which see acoustic guitar riffs bouncing out of the speakers alongside lolloping drum loops, pristine piano motifs and Brad's understated vocals.
Elsewhere the band step up the pace on tracks such as two-and-a-half minute bruiser Sunday Song and psychedelic burn-out Charlie Parker was a Hobo.
The mournful piano balladry of Distil Disappointment and The Last Stand of Pucho Vasquez provide other surprises as does the stark warmth of Winter.
Give Lo-tech Solutions a listen and you will surely agree with Tasty Fanzine that this is "Fantastic pop music."
And so what do the reviewers think? - a few examples . . .
"Twelve sparkling gems that briefly come into your life and quickly disappear as though like spirits. Simply perfect" - Losing Today
"A collage of sounds, varied genres and a flawless talent for writing brilliant pop songs. Summer is finally here and Merchandise are the soundtrack." - Angryape
"'Lo Tech Solutions...' paints Merchandise as a duo creatively sparking and with a pop-savvy second to none." -Logo Magazine
"Merchandise make the kind of acoustic electronica that'd be the soundtrack to a summer picnic in Hyde Park, with cute animals frolicking in the sun. Two men's reflections on everyday life have never been so glorious. Totally pure, grandiose pop music that along with the title makes you wonder why we make our lives so complicated. The sound of pastoral idylls and eternal sunshine. A whole album of beautiful music." - Blowback Magazine
"This is electronic music with evidence of a heart and soul." - Manchester Online/ Manchester Evening News.
"This is the band that other contemporaries could be if they had the balls to sponge other musical influences. Lolloping drum loops and acoustic guitar riffs bounce around the room leaving you with a warming glow inside. Merchandise are a band that can not, and probably have no desire too, be labelled under any particular musical bracket other than their own unique one." - This is London
"I've a feeling it could turn into love if you take the time to develop a meaningful relationship with Merchandise." - Vanity Project
"This is truly a thing of beauty. A gem." - The Exclusive Fanzine
"Not for them a musical template rendered dull by years of misuse. There's no doubt, Merchandise have got a touch of genius." - BBC Manchester
"Summery pop music, oh yes! Merchandise seem to have a cheerily frank outlook on things in the same way that the Flaming Lips do." - Diskant
"The whole album is a seamless pleasure." - Bolton Evening News
"This album occasionally spills over with genius." - Indigo Flow
"It's like someone got hold of Kings of Convenience and made them cut up a Rae and Christian album. Hooray for Merchandise!" - Gill Rickson SBN Radio
"Too damn catchy by half. Excellent stuff. Lovely, lovely." - I Really Love Music
"To say Merchandise are a band of some quality is to understate this hugely enjoyable album. Lo-tech solutions sounds like it was knocked together whilst laying on the bed, staring out of the window. And that's a wonderful thing. Fantastic pop music." - Tasty Fanzine
"The softly narrated vocals literally sound to be a God send, and this is further proof - and now all the proof we will ever need - that Merchandise are a genuinely special band to hear at all costs... 5/5" - kidjuxta
"Merchandise create pattering, caressing, daydreamy music that conjures up an England of rain-washed colours and pale sunlight." - Kitten Painting
"There is a genuine warmth to be found in these tracks, almost as if they had been baked in a musical oven, on a fairly low heat to let the contents gently meld together." - Release Magazine (Sweden)
More about Merchandise - The Biography!
MERCHANDISE are Brad B Wood and Conrad Astley, whose latest album Lo-Tech Solutions to Hi-Tech Problems is gathering an embarrassment of adoring views.
The duo did not get off to the best start, meeting on a drunken night at university and waking up to realise they'd decided to form a goth band, but such ill-advised notions were quickly discarded as they began tinkering with guitars, keyboards and whatever technical gizmos they could lay their fingers on.
Early attempts at making electronic tunes were released under Brad's homegrown Cityscape label and the first limited 10" single received glowing praise, despite the fact it was put out before they'd decided on a band name.
The duo then decided to adopt the moniker of Merchandise after a song by their heroes, punk legends Fugazi.
The pair's pop melodies may suggest a band who have little to do with the world occupied by axe-wielding Washington hardcore boys. However, the duo's new name, suggested by long-time lyrical collaborator Roger Williams, matched their DIY ethos perfectly.
Their debut album, snazzily entitled This Is . . . Merchandise, pricked up a few ears with its range of styles jumping from trashy punk pop to electronic lounge, winning praise from Manchester's City Life who said the duo composed "some of the most enchanting and eclectic lo-fi noodlings outside the Twisted Nerve stable."
Merchandise then set to work honing their sound into something far more delicate and memorable. Out went the synths, drum machines and instrumentals of the first album and in came songs built around acoustic guitars, piano lines and the lolloping percussion samples of jazz meister Rob Turner.
This new acoustic-meets-electronica sound found its way onto the single Swallowing Curses, which got a good airing from BBC Radio One's Mark and Lard as well as getting the thumbs up from radio stations and reviewers across Europe and North America.
Lo-Tech Solutions, as it will doubtless be abbreviated to, is a fully formed 42 minutes which takes this sound still further and has already begun receiving rave reviews.
The album has been described as "fantastic pop music" by Tasty Fanzine and "truly a thing of beauty" by The Exclusive, while Losing Today Magazine posed question and answer: "Dare you resist? Somehow I think not."
Such praise has lead to a nice little distribution agreement with big boys Universal via Genepool, which means lucky people across the country will get to sample the magic that is Merchandise in nice air conditioned shops, instead of having to spend hours scouring the seedy world of the internet.
What more encouragement do you need to find out what made Vanity Project declare "I've a feeling it could turn into love if you take the time to develop a meaningful relationship with Merchandise."
More info, reviews and interviews with Brad and Con can be found at http://www.cityscaperecords.co.uk/merchandisehomepage.htm