Monday, 14 April 2014

Wot About Me?

Thanks to Retrobution Records I now own precisely one South African punk 7".  It's a total dunderhead smash, all self-obsessed lyrics that cheekily dismiss not only the established musical stars of the past (Elvis, Bowie, 'Buddy Cochrane' etc.) but their punk peers:

I don't wanna talk about Johnny Rotten
I don't wanna talk about Sid Vicious
I don't wanna talk about Joe Strummer
I just wanna talk about...about me
Wot about me?

I keep resolving not to buy so many reissues, to support new music, but if labels keep releasing reissues this entertaining that resolution will continue to prove tricky to stick to.  It's good to know that the South African youth of the late 70s/early 80s could sneer with the best of them!


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Pop Tapes: The Lemons / Chalk & Numbers

A former member of a famous indie group once sneered at me "You're so nice I bet you fart daisies" during an interview.  That sure showed me.  Yeah!  That put-down bubbled to the surface again while listening to Chicago's soda shop pop kids, The Lemons.  They're just so relentlessly upbeat and smiling and concerned with sweeties and kids' stuff.  Undoubtedly their music will be too saccharine for most but Not Unloved has never shied away from perky, wholesome pop music if it's made with the right spirit; we're not all leather clad rock'n'roll beasts after all.  Their brief songs - most of them make "Velocity Girl" look like a prog epic - have the same zest (ha!) for life as The Magic Kids or The Langley Schools Music Project.  Sometimes an escape from the grey drudgery of the adult world is much needed.  Their "Hello, We're The Lemons" tape (Gnar Tripp) comes with a sticker and a download code*.

Much less sherbet-fuelled but no less catchy are Brooklyn's Chalk and Numbers.  Theirs is a sophisticated take on classic beehive-haired jukebox pop.  The songs on Soft Power Records' "Cassette Compilation" are wrought from the chrome fixtures and gingham tablecloths of a million American diners.  All six are foot-tappers.  "I Really Wanna Work This Out", however, is the real beauty here; think Denise James tackling a recently unearthed Beach Boys demo.

Chalk and Numbers aren't taking pop music anywhere new but that doesn't matter a jot when the songs are this good - see also Summer Twins.  Time to watch "Grace Of My Heart" again, I reckon.

Both tapes were released earlier in 2014 but seem to make more sense now that there's the odd shaft of springtime sunlight to bump up the optimism.

* Brits can save on the postage by purchasing from Very Gun Records.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Today's Hits

Are you a sucker for a soft voice singing a lazy, sunny day melody? Yeah? Me, too! On the basis of their dubiously named "Sex Boys e.p." Today's Hits, casually toss them off while cooling at the beach.

Randy Records won a sizeable chunk of Not Unloved's heart with last year's Slushy 7" and with this new single they just increased it by at least 17%.  The canny cats over at Bachelor Records have done the decent thing and had a buncha copies mailed from the US for us Europeans to snaffle.  After you've added Today's Hits to your cart, I'd recommend adding The Memories' "American Summer".  It, too, is a real cutie.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Pressler-Morgan "You're Gonna Watch Me"

Pere Ubu's time has never quite come for Not Unloved.  That is in part due to witnessing a frankly dreadful* set by frontman David Thomas at Glasgow's Old Athenaeum many years ago in support of Tindersticks.  I'm well aware that the Cleveland, Ohio scene of the late 70s is highly regarded but just haven't invested the time to discover why.  In fact, the only record from that orbit that has left an indelible mark is Pressler-Morgan's sole 45 for Thomas's Hearthan Records which prefigures the twisty post-punk of a bunch of the M'Lady's Records female fronted groups:

Charlotte Pressler was married to Ubu's Peter Laugher and wrote the fascinating "A Memoir of Cleveland Life: 1967-1973" which has definitely piqued my interest.  Looks like "You're Gonna Watch Me" could just be my portal into that world.

Thanks to Jon for the tip and to David for the joining the dots from Pressler to Ubu.

*  In retrospect maybe it wasn't 'dreadful'.  It's more than likely that my closed young(er) mind was just less than receptive to a man with a squeeze box sitting down (gasp!).  Also, that night, Tindersticks were memorably and movingly enhanced by a large string section so most acts would have come off second best.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Goodbye Boozy salutes the Geelong underground

A recent batch of 7"s on Italy's Goodbye Boozy is enough to convince you to board the next flight to Australia and hitchhike your way to Geelong to crash the raucous punk/garage party that's obviously in full swing over there.  Of the 3 I bought (Not Unloved foolishly believed that financial prudence was a good idea and didn't buy Hierophants and is now totally regretting it as it appears to have disappeared), the most blasted so far is Ausmuteants' scorching "Felix Tried To Kill Himself":

Dark, breathless brilliance! Unfortunatlely, after checking the comments below the song on Soundlcoud I lost 10 minutes trying to work out the 11 ways to kill oneself with a toothbrush.  Oh, dear!  By all accounts the Geelong groups swap members like we traded football stickers in the playground in 1982 so it's no surprise that there's Austmuteants involvement in Wet Blankets.  "TV Suicide" (what's with all the self-murder songs, Geelong?) is a deliciously bratty - as it should be when the singer's just 15! - slice of post-Swell Maps busted amp punk that's nothing neu (thanks Hierophants for that neat little phrase!) but is, nonetheless, a total joy:

A few years ago on a trip to London I impetuously bought an lp by The Frowning Clouds from Intoxica purely because the group's name was so great.  It turned out to be a be a superior batch of 60s throwback garage.  I guess they were the first of the Geelong groups to turn my head.  They, too, have contributed a 7" to the Goodbye Boozy Australian avalanche:

"Beetle Bird" is, perhaps, an odd choice of single being less immediate than the bulk of their recent "Whereabouts" lp but there's something charming in its hazy, deliberate approach and it's psychedelic guitar line that allows it to seep into your brain and make itself at home there.  I've woken up a few times recently with that guitar line playing in my head.  Surely a good sign.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Crime On The Moon Records

Crime On The Moon Records has an unblemished record to date2 releases (one 12", one 7"), 2 gems.  I half knew about Cold Beat's "Worms" 12" last year but, as is increasingly the case, it got buried under the avalanche of music struggling to be heard on blogs, Soundcloud, bandcamp, mixcloud etc. etc..  The intro is pure Thee Oh Sees but the chorus is the kind of carefree pop dream that Dum Dum Girls promised but didn't quite deliver before they went all knickers-on-show and mid-paced 80s boomy.  "Worms" is not only singalong brilliant, it's sufficiently odd in places to make you ache for the days of John Peel's radio show.  It would've sounded just sublime in that setting.

COLD BEAT - "WORMS" from Mike Stoltz on Vimeo.

Bridge Collapse's "Wilderness" 7"on the other hand is a touch darker but no less brilliant.  It's still eminently humable but wonkier, more Neo Boys.  It too would have slotted into a John Peel playlist with ease.

What links Cold Beat to Bridge Collapse is Grass Widow's Hannah Lew.  I've yet to hear a semblance of a bad Grass Widow record (yes, I am taking into account their jokey live spilt with Shannon and The Clams on which they covered EMF's "Unbelievable" in making that assertion!) so it's no surprise that her other groups are so thrilling.  Not Unloved won't be silly enough to not pay attention to what Crime On The Moon Records is up to from now on, that's for dang sure!   

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Lethal Lipgloss

'Chillax' is a word you'll never catch me using. I'm not David Brent, after all! There are times, however, when I'll sing it.  Such as when I'm doing the dishes listening to crack Canadian power-pop squad  The Riff Randells' "Lethal Lipgloss" (2001, Alien Snatch!):

Brian Eno believes "that singing is the key to long life".  It don't know about that but it sure makes doing the dishes more bearable!