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A review of...

Morning Tea Migraine by Ivan The Tolerable

Date: 
December 11, 2017
Writer: 
Adam Millard
8.0

Morning Tea Migraine is the latest in a long line of releases from Teesside musician Oli Heffernan. This one could be seen as a lo-fi companion to White Death To Power Alan, which was released earlier in the year with his band Year Of Birds. Heffernan has spent years producing quick-fire DIY recordings, but more recently he's been involved in a few more polished (relatively speaking) records, such as the aforementioned Year of Birds release and last year's King Champion Sounds album To Awake in That Heaven of Freedom. Both highly recommended if you haven't heard them.

Although Morning Tea Migraine is a move back towards those unrefined days of old, Heffernan is keen to point out that this collection has been properly mixed and mastered (by Anthony Chapman). I asked the man himself if he sees this as the first "proper" Ivan The Tolerable album, but no, he wouldn't go that far (you can check out a plethora of other releases here). This album does sound particularly vibrant though, whilst keeping the warm analogue feel of a DIY recording. But anyway, it seems like Ivan The Tolerable (probably the closest thing Heffernan has to a "solo" alias) currently sits somewhere in between the raucous art-punk of Year of Birds and the more experimental Detective Instinct recordings. So here we get noisy guitars sitting alongside field recordings and semi-ambient pieces. "Morning Tea Migraine I" is particularly reminiscent of the Detective Instinct stuff, except it's Oli Heffernan's whispered vocals rather than Mike Watt or Jad Fair.

If you liked "Fat" from Year of Bird's last album, then you're in for a treat here, as we get "Fat (Part II), which seems to be an alternative take on the same Raymond Carver short story involving a man and an unhealthy obsession with bread. Other high points include "Former Shapes" which plays out like a motoric, analogue slice of kraut-rock, with Heffernan's one-note drawling vocals supplementing the pumping organ, bass and drum rhythm section which has the air of one of Mark E Smith's better backing bands.

As always seems to be the case with these releases, the tape comes with top notch artwork (illustrations courtesy of Danielle Johnson from Year of Birds), so get it on your Christmas list alongside Nick Knowles, Shane Richie and Shed Seven as this is surely the last great album of 2017.