Stuck In The Never Ending Now CD
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Strawberry Whiplash - Stuck In The Never Ending Now CD

matcd074   /   November 2015
 #strawberry whiplash
  1. Every Day The Sun Shines Brighter
  2. If Surface Were Depth
  3. Too Close To Call
  4. Never Ending Now
  5. Ride The Waves To The Shore
  6. Time Takes You Away
  7. Halcyon Morning
  8. All I Ask For Is Everything
  9. Fly Me Over The Rooftops
  10. A Brave New Scene
  11. Life's Rich Tragedy
  12. This Is All We Have

Long awaited sophomore release from Scottish fuzz pop enthusiasts Strawberry Whiplash! Three years following the band’s smash debut album ‘Hits In The Car’, the eclectic new 12-track album ‘Stuck In The Never Ending Now’ has the inexorable passage of time as its central theme.

Opening track ‘Every Day The Sun Shines Brighter’ starts things off in optimistic fashion with a melodic song about new beginnings, while ‘If Surface Were Depth’ is catchy, playful pop and ‘Too Close To Call’ is a harmonious, multi-layered soundtrack to an indie spaghetti western.

‘Never Ending Now’ is immediately engaging punky pop with scratchy, fast guitars, more great harmonies, and rapid gunfire drumming. ‘Ride The Waves To The Shore’ has a shimmering, bossa nova beat with major seventh chords and groovy bongo backing, while ‘Time Takes You Away’ is all late night New York cool with chugging guitars and a Velvet Underground vibe.

Side two kicks off with the album’s fastest track ‘Halcyon Morning’ providing us with a future indie disco floor filler with C86 fuzzy guitars, a steady drumbeat, and tambourines all racing towards the song’s instrumental coda. ‘All I Ask For Is Everything’ furthers the eclectic mix with a chiming guitar / glockenspiel blend and an incessant back beat reinforcing the selfish nature of the song, while ‘Fly Me Over The Rooftops’ is soaring, immediate pop with detached male backing vocals.

‘A Brave New Scene’ is elegant, multi-layered pop that twinkles and chimes in all the right places, while the funky bass line in ‘Life’s Rich Tragedy’ breaks right through the fourth wall in this musical romp involving an unfaithful method actor in need of direction on stage and in his life. Finally, the album’s poignant swan song ‘This Is All We Have’ opens with an autumnal oboe motif and adds some shimmering guitars before reaching peak loveliness.

Reflective and optimistic, ‘Stuck In The Never Ending Now’ is twelve more hits from Strawberry Whiplash and an additional Scottish pop classic for the Matinée discography.

 
reviews
Strawberry Whiplash are a Glaswegian duo, signed to Californian label Matinée Records, and ‘Time Takes You Away’ is a sunny slice of fuzz pop from their second album Stuck In The Never Ending Now, released 20th November. Following Glasgow’s fine lineage of janglesome bands such as The Pastels, Belle & Sebastian and early Primal Scream, ‘Time Takes You Away’ is a highly infectious track that burrows its way into your consciousness after only one listen. Fans of those bands are advised to investigate immediately. Laz takes care of instrumentation while Sandra looks after vocal duties in the band, who have released a clutch of singles and one other album for Matinée, the brilliantly-named ‘Hits in the Car’ back in 2012. ‘Time Takes You Away’ could almost be a lost early Creation Records single, and it could also be the most insistently catchy song of 2015; really, it is that good.   --God Is In The TV (Track of the Day)
Strawberry Whiplash’s “Stuck In The Never Ending Now” is more mannered, less urgent and fuzzy than earlier outings (whilst only two songs on their excellent first LP made the three minute mark, this second full-length only has two below three minutes). Its grooves tread a knowing line between the (more tuneful) outings of the 80s anorak bands and the sincere sonic flower grooves of the 60s revivalists, all the time keeping listening hearts aflutter courtesy of Sandra’s knowing purr. Our own pick of the songs here, the drivingly dapper Shop Assistants homage “Halcyon Morning”, is perhaps unrepresentative in that it sits towards the shambling, rather than the Byrdsy, end of that particular continuum, but there are plenty more perky treats on offer: other pearls well-worth diving for include “Never Ending Now” with its jauntily chugging guitars and excitable drum machine, or the confident, almost gilded opener, “Every Day The Sun Shines Brighter”. One of the joys of the record throughout is the fact that although there are no long guitar solos or over-indulgent instrumental sections (let’s face it: if there were, this review might not be happening), virtually every track is embossed instead with a few bars of attractive little guitar lines, weaving in easy melody: your man Laz on the guitar there is a deft historian of nimble hooks, a skilled curator of cunning little riffs. This, alongside Sandra’s stories of the ebb and flow of the years as they buffet us and pass us by (a “Now And Then” theme, as much-missed former Matinée darlings the Windmills would have had it) helps give this second LP continuity even as the ‘Lash flirt with a range of subtle variations (from the BMX Bandits-bossa nova of “Ride The Waves To The Shore” and the Cineramatic trills of “Too Close To Call” to the Pastels-y charms of “Fly Me Over The Rooftops” and the glock-bedecked “All I Ask For Is Everything”). That said, there is nothing here that caused us to fall off our bar-stools with surprise (unlike their first album, which a tad unexpectedly delivered both the dizzy shoegaze of “Sleepy Head” & the assured dreampop of “Now I Know It’s You”). There is more than enough consolation, however, in the record’s gorgeous denouement as “This Is All We Have”, picking up on the theme of sister act Bubblegum Lemonade’s “Have You Seen Faith?” single, reminds us that yes this is all there is, and there isn’t anyone looking out for us from the heavens, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing: our higher purpose is to be ourselves, and to live life to the fullest. It feels hard to credit that it was all the way back in the summer of 2006 when the duo first crossed our path with “The Boy In The Bubble Car”, and we tumbled out our usual stuff about John Peel and the spirit of “cracking, fizzing flexis” and compared them to their compatriots the Fizzbombs and Baby Lemonade and yes, the Shoppies – lazy as that may sound, it was certainly high praise - so it’s doubly exciting to see them still going strong, on one of our favourite labels, close to a decade on. Cheers, and here’s to the next ten years of never-ending now. A top-notch pop-Scotch album from the very heights of the Matinée roster.   --In Love With These Times...
After a handful of singles and an album that staked out a claim for Strawberry Whiplash as first-rate practitioners of solid, fun, and pleasantly tuneful indie pop, the duo of Laz and Sandra return with another fine example of their trade. ‘Stuck in the Never Ending Now’ is packed from top to bottom with sprightly, energetic indie pop nuggets that will brighten turntables and maybe even get some feet moving, mixed with a handful of midtempo tracks that bring down the mood but not the energy level. As before, the division of labor within the duo breaks down to Laz on music and Sandra on vocals, and both of them do a fine job. Though he keeps things simple, Laz is good at making himself sound like a real band, and Sandra's oft-deadpan tones lend themselves well to the tales of love, broken and fixed. Like their previous work, the album breaks no new ground and delivers no surprises. Instead, as before, the duo delivers really good noisy indie pop that will make fans of said style happy with its familiar sound and skilled presentation, and that's just fine.   --All Music Guide
Scotland forever. The nation that’s given the world Altered Images, Postcard Records, The Associates, Edwyn Collins, the Cosmic Rough Riders, et al just keeps on giving, with two new releases from Matinée Recordings. Strawberry Whiplash are Laz McCluskey and Sandra Nosurname, from Glasgow, just like The Orange Juice were, and have been around for rather a long time, producing an album and several EPs. ‘Stuck In The Never Ending Now’ is unabashed tweedom, sweltering in the umbrella of The Primitives and Talulah Gosh, Sandra’s delectable vocals shimmering all over wanna-be MTV hits like ‘If Surface Were Depth’ and the outstanding title track ‘Never Ending Now’ with its fuzzy guitars and impatient drumming. ‘Ride The Waves To The Shore’ is a much slower effort which has an intricate beauty that transponds this writer from his small, city flat on a dreich day to the local surf beach with sunburnt arms all around. The critics will inevitably dub this album as treading an old path, going down the same road that twee, shambling, the Monkees etc etc have all done in the past. And yes, this is quite true. But when Porky first heard The Pastels, The Shop Assistants, The Mary Chain, Aztec Camera and The Darling Buds (all from north of Carlisle other than the last one), it was ALL NEW. I’d never heard of the Velvet Underground, Vic Goddard, Love, and a multitude of other West Coast bands that were the forefathers of such melodic delights. The new/old argument is as old as the hills and won’t ever go away. Let’s celebrate this album for what it is … joyous and uplifting, and very much OF THIS DECADE.   --Porky Prime Cuts
If you happen to live in the UK, things have been pretty bleak lately, and not just because of the miserable weather. The general swell of public opinion was that we shouldn't go and bomb the crap out of Syria, but the Tory-led House Of Commons voted that we should. How long before we have troops out there killing and getting killed? Without wishing to get too political and go off on a tangent, many of us could do with a bit of cheering up, a little sunshine in our lives. Step forward Scottish indiepop heroes Strawberry Whiplash with their second album 'Stuck In The Never Ending Now', the follow-up to 2012's rather splendid collection 'Hits In The Car'. You can't get much more direct than beginning your new record with the delightful jangle-pop of 'Every Day The Sun Shines Brighter', a perfect indiepop tune that's simply irresistible, with the elegant music matching lyrics like "every day the sun shines brighter, every day with you/now every day the world seems better, every day with you" which are simple but highly effective. It's a match for anything they've recorded to date. 'If Surface Were Depth' is another summery tune which explores the beauty that lies beneath the surface and fits in with the less scuzzy end of the C86 scene. The song 'Never Ending Now' could also be lifted from that decade and is another slice of breezy, faultless pop music - this album is riddled with them. Dreamy number 'Fly Me Over The Rooftops' is another that will put a smile on your face, and 'A Brave New Scene' is the shot of vitamin D that you've been lacking, while '60s girl group sounds are given an indie makeover on 'All I Ask For Is Everything'. 'Time Takes You Away' and the bubbly 'Life's Rich Tragedy' have echoes of DIY indie that grew out of the punk scene, and 'Halcyon Morning' even more so, yet, like the entire record, Strawberry Whiplash manage to attain this effect without ever resorting to lo-fi tactics. These are fully realised tracks. There's not much on 'Stuck In The Never Ending Now' that could be called dark, although 'Too Close To Call' has a more pensive outlook, but still sparkles with a crystal clarity and includes some retro guitar twangs, and despite being a little lighter in tone, 'Ride The Waves To The Shore' is another that feels more wistful. They end with a thoughtful song in 'This Is All We Have' which again borrows a few tricks from '60s girl-pop and is an great way to round things off. If this is all they have then it's still more than enough. Strawberry Whiplash may have taken a while to give us their second full-length, but in doing so they've affirmed their status as one of the finest indiepop bands going.   --The Sound of Confusion
Laz & Sandra are a pair of harmonic ‘feel great’ jingle jangle pop junkies from Glasgow, Scotland, and ‘Never Ending Now’ is an indisputable highlight from their excellent, second album ‘Stuck In The Never Ending Now. It’s magical guitar pop luster that will fill your room while you’re dancing around to the highly stimulant beat – blissful cut! Record Of The Day!   --50 Third and 3rd (Record of the Day)
Although it’s December and deep into the winter holiday season, this album is not just breezy summer-sounding indie pop songs, as the clever cover that has the feel of a nautilus shell could seem to suggest. It’s an album of different flavors from Scottish pop duo Laz and Sandra McCluskey (if you haven’t already done so, be sure to seek Laz’ other music project Bubblegum Lemonade). So it’s been a great companion since its release last month throughout both sunny and rainy days here (yes, rain in Southern California!) A country-inflected riff is the first sound I hear on album opener ‘Every Day the Sun Shines Brighter’ and right away I know this album will be a treat full of different sounds. There’s the punchy ‘If Surface Were Depth’ and ‘Halcyon Morning’, both in the same vein of C86 era Talulah Gosh. ‘Time Takes You Away’, the first song released, is infectious, with its cool bongo sound. The strongest songs for me, however, have a slightly dark and melancholy feel: ‘Too Close to Call’, which has the most beautiful guitar solo in the entire album, and the slower, dreamy ‘Ride the Waves To The Shore’, a swooning number with some more wonderful percussion that gives this song a sophisticated pop sound. Perfect album closer ‘This Is All We Have’ is wistful and anthemic. Sandra sings with conviction, her voice remaining lush, ‘There is no more, there is no afterwards, this is all we have’. Just beautiful. All twelve songs are varied keeping the album sounding fresh but familiar, and as the inside cover of the album proclaims, guaranteed to be 100% auto tune free.   --Everything Indie Over 40
Strawberry Whiplash is one of the projects of the prolific jangle pop royal, Laz McCluskey. In this one, he plays the instruments while Sandra provides the vocals, creating sweet-sounding pop songs that recall The Monkeys, The Cyrcle, British Invasion, early '80s Glasgow guitar pop and Sarah Records. Their second full album, ‘Stuck In The Never Ending Now’, finds the band musing about the passage of time over the course of 12 hook-filled songs. The band has an incredible knack for crafting the perfect aural nuggets, with just the right amount of instrumentation and spot on vocal nuances. Each song is distinctive, but they are so similar in quality that I would have been hard pressed to choose which to use as streams for this post. I'm saved this task by having only three songs available to share. And they are great songs. But as good as they are, I think there may be several equal songs on the album. The rambunctious "Halcyon Morning" and the '60s shaded "Fly Me Over The Rooftops" never fail to get a replay hit from me, and the reflective "Ride The Waves to Shore" and "This Is All We Have" invariably produce happy sighs.   --When You Motor Away
Hey, Laz is a busy guy. Laz is Lawrence McCluskey and between this and his other band, Bubblegum Lemonade (also on the Matinée label) the guy keeps busy. Not sure if he writes and records songs by each band by way of the seasons or what , but nevertheless he’s back with mysterious vocalist Sandra (maybe not so mysterious if you know her) with the second Strawberry Whiplash album (the debut being 2012’s ‘Hits in the Car’ which came after a few terrific EPs). Not sure if the album’s title indicates a longing or sadness but the opening cut, “Every Day the Sun Shines Brighter” sure doesn’t seem to fit that. All mid-tempo jangle while they add a little more zip to “If Surface Were Depth” (Sandra’s vocals way out front) while they slow it down and go minor chord on “Too Close to Call.” Elsewhere, “Never Ending Now” has this great scratchy shuffle while ‘Ride the Waves to the Shore” is a down tempo number (but not lacking any melody) and the side A ending “Time Takes You Away” sounds like the best cut The Primitives never wrote. As far as what the other six songs sound like you’ll have to buy the record (but suffice to say they’re just as good). In the end the Matinée label comes through again for those of us longing for the days of yore when labels like Sarah, Sunday, Creation and Subway offered the tastiest of fruits, well, Matinée is doing it now. Jump on board, partner.   --Blurt Magazine
This one came in alongside The Hermit Crabs in an email from Matinée Recordings and it fits in nicely with the rest of the label's output that I've heard so far with it being some pretty lovely indie pop. They appear to have been going for the best part of a decade having had a song on a Matinée Recordings compilation CD back in 2007. Sandra leads the songs on vocals and has a light and melodic vocal style. Apparently all the instuments are played by a guy called Laz and the whole thing has a C86 vibe about it. It works well and they have some really nice songs on here - most notably the opener, "Every Day The Sun Shines Brighter" and "Too Close To Call".   --Collective Zine
Multi-instrumentalist Laz McLuskey and vocalist Sandra have released a previous album, 2012’s ‘Hits in the Car’, and various EPs under the moniker of Strawberry Whiplash, all of which shine brightly, I'm sure they know what they are doing as they always rub the salt into a wound by releasing perfect summer pop in the coldest of days. Heavenly Rickenbacker guitar dominate over Sandra's best Tracey Tracey/Primitives-style vocals, reminding us of hot days, perfect evening, sunny beaches, young love, and cool music, They deliver songs worthy of Lee Hazlewood or the more romantic edge of David Gedge, while remaining absolutely charming. This second album only lasts thirty-seven minutes, but is long enough to put a big smile on indie pop fans’ faces.   --Pennyblack Music
Any band that would take its name from Scottish legends Strawberry Switchblade and Meat Whiplash would get my attention, and the 7" "Stop, Look and Listen" got me to do just that a few years ago. It really is the perfect moniker as Sandra's vocals are sweet and Laz's guitars are fuzzy, but I always identify the duo's sound with early Primitives more than anything else... and that's fine by me. We are told the 12 songs on 'Stuck In The Never Ending Now' are about the "inexorable passage of time," but this set sounds like the clock stopped for about three years. This followup may as well have been recorded the day after the brilliant 'Hits in the Car,' and it feels wonderful to be bouncing to their brand of indie pop again. Give "Time Takes You Away" a play below. What a perfect way to wake up to the week!   --Linear Tracking Lives
Il trasformismo pop dello scanzonato Laz McCluskey continua a fargli indossare alternativamente le vesti di voce e guida dei Bubblegum Lemonade o di semplice autore dei brani e chitarrista degli Strawberry Whiplash, band caratterizzata dalle interpretazioni gentili della vocalist Sandra. È nuovamente il turno di questi ultimi che, per la seconda volta sulla lunga distanza tre anni dopo “Hits In The Car”, rimangono fedeli a una formula di pop chitarristico agrodolce e spensierato, nel solco della migliore tradizione scozzese. “Stuck In The Never Ending Now” non smentisce infatti le aspettative derivanti dalla precedente produzione del maturo McCluskey, dispensando un’agile sequenza di popsong da tre minuti circa, caratterizzata da melodie cristalline e variopinte sfumature stilistiche, che spaziano da languori jangly a una più robusta grana di fragoroso guitar-pop. Attraverso tali filtri sonori e una sensibilità pop fuori dal comune, l’album declina una miscela di leggerezza solare e consapevole, espressa nel passo svelto e nelle chitarre leggiadre delle varie “Too Close To Call”, “Every Day The Sun Shines Brighter” e “Fly Me Over The Rooftops”, così come nelle contemplazioni sfumate di “All I Ask For Is Everything” e “Ride The Waves To The Shore”, intrise di soffici vapori dream-pop. Mentre le variazioni più significative sulla consolidata impronta di McCluskey si riscontrano nello sbarazzino passo garage-surf di “Halcyon Morning” e nelle ritmiche danzanti di “A Brave New Scene”, che non smentiscono la complessiva maggiore leggerezza conseguita dagli Strawberry Whiplash in “Stuck In The Never Ending Now”, album che rende plasticamente nei suoni e nelle melodie l’essenza del tema dell’inesorabile passaggio del tempo, centrale nelle canzoni e nello stesso titolo del lavoro, eppure pienamente esorcizzato dal suo immarcescibile spirito indie-pop.   --Music Won't Save You
Tres años después de su debut ‘Hits in the Car’ (Matinée, 2012), nos llega el segundo trabajo del grupo paralelo de Laz de Bubblegum Lemonade, que en realidad es el dúo que tiene con su mujer, Sandra, donde Laz toca todos los instrumentos y Sandra se ocupa de las tareas vocales. Aquí nos encontramos con doce canciones de indiepop de guitarras de corte elegante, con melodías twee muy sencillas, construyendo adorables estribillos con un aire luminoso y desbordante sensibilidad pop. Es un trabajo, aún así, que requiere más escuchas que su predecesor, y es que los hits no son tan evidentes como en su debut. Todas las canciones tienen ese ligero aire twee, con guitarras ligeramente fuzzy, melodías azucaradas y un envoltorio C86. Mis favoritas: ‘Never ending now’, ‘Time takes you away’, and ‘Fly me over the rooftops’.   --El Planeta Amarillo