Saturday, 28 May 2016

California Snow Story "Some Other Places" (Shelflife Records)

Before the trashy garage punk records, before all the Northern Soul compilations, way before the dalliances with techno and electronic music, before everything else there were the gentle guitar pop records.  For years they were all I wanted and needed.  Listening to California Snow Story's new lp (Shelflife download for now, other formats to follow), I'm made acutely aware that I still need them.  That "Some Other Places" exists came as a pleasant surprise as their cherished earlier releases date from so long ago that I'd assumed the group to be defunct.  It's such a joy to luxuriate in Sandra Belda Martãnez's beautiful voice again.  For Not Unloved, she's up there with Katrina Mitchell and David Skirving's former bandmate, Traceyanne Campbell.  As if that weren't treats enough, Lupe Núñez-Fernández of Pipas/Amor de Dias and Mel Whittle from the also missing-in-action-for-years The Hermit Crabs make telling vocal contributions that complement David's own tender, understated voice.  The feel of this record is so right: soft but never sickly sweet.  The guitars are immaculately recorded with each note having a life of its own.  In a just world, "The Solitary Age" would be the single that sold the album.  It's as fine a pop tune as I've heard this year: a winner from its first brittle beat and downbeat jangle.  This sounds like music made by thoroughly agreeable human beings; the kind of people who don't swagger or push themselves forward but who quietly get on with crafting beautiful music with pride.  There is a one hundred per cent chance that, come year end, "Some Other Places" will be numbered among my very favourite records of 2016.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Music for dancing to

Nestling in the 7" racks of Monorail Music yesterday was the new single from Sally Shapiro.  I made a mental note to listen to it online when I got home and promised myself that if I liked it I'd go back for it.  Of course, I promptly forgot it even existed thanks to tape dubbing fun at Good Press followed by yet another late night spent in The Old Hairdressers being pummelled by LOUD music (the ferocious Kasper Hauser who were launching their Soft Power tape).  Luckily, Unpopular had the good sense to include the A-side of Sally's 45 on their latest mix so I was reminded to give it a whirl. What an adorable slice of gently euphoric Euro-pop! Soft voices are the best voices. 

Get it from the Fika Recordings shop if you're not lucky enough to have a shop as astute as  Monorail Music nearby.

The fifth volume in Kent Records' excellent Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities CD series is one of its strongest and opens with the dramatic group soul of The Avons' "When The Boy That You Love Is Loving You":

Sensibly, Kent have also released it on 7" vinyl, the label of which says: "A previously unissued Bob Holmes production." . It's a wild thought that such a fabulous record remained unreleased for five decades.

Guitar overdose!

Not Unloved's favourite guitar pop records of the moment:

"Ariana" by Mercury Girls (Slumberland 7")

Yet another classic single from Slumberland.  It's unimaginable that there will ever come a time when  a record such as "Ariana" won't be met with rejoicing in these quarters.  Now that the sun has plucked up the courage to come out in Glasgow it sounds even more lustrous.

"Your Boyfriend's Girlfriend" by Pale Spectres (self-released cdep)

Pale Spectres played one of my favourite Indietracks sets ever with each song seemingly more charming and boasting a more memorable guitar line than the last.  "Your Boyfriend's Girlfriend" makes good on the promise of that set.  It's just a shame that National Pop League is no more as it would have sounded glorious at volume in of the Woodside Social as the condensed sweat of a hundred dancers dripped down the walls.

"Buy This Record" by Nic Hessler & EZTV (Captured Tracks 7")

There seems to be an exponential decline in the goodwill of record shop regulars towards Record Store Day but I'll be happy for it to continue if at least a few of the future exclusive releases are as great as Nic and EZTV'S Milk'n'Cookies covers 7" or Burger Records' public service vinyl compendium of the slim but joyful output of early 80s group The MnMs.  It would appear that neither record made it to the UK in any significant numbers so there was a wee windfall for the Post Office when it became apparent that I needed both.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

That’s Life! / A day of duplicating and frolicking! (Good Press from 30/04/2016)

In September 2013 Glasgow's Good Press gallery/art collective presented the A History Of exhibition.  Conceptually sound, it was wonderful, hands-on celebration of cassette culture and music sharing which Not Unloved embraced fully.  Spool forward to 2016 and as part of Glasgow Zine Fest 2016 they're dusting off their high-speed tape duplicator to present That's Life! A day of duplicating and frolicking!.  There's an admirable cast of contributors this time including Roxanne Clifford (isn't her forthcoming Patience single for Night School a POP gem?!), Russell Walker of astute chroniclers of modern life The Pheromoans in the guise of The Teleporters and Good Press's own Jess, Nick and Matthew.  The Glasgow underground is well represented with Sean Armstrong of Spinning Coin/The Yawns, Happy Meals, Rob Churm, Michael Kasparis among many others contributing who knows what.  It's sure to be a blast!  The exhibition runs from 30th April to 19th May. Get involved!

Full details here.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Some Things To Look Forward To

Spinning Coin "Albany" 7"

A year and a bit after I flipped like a giddy teenager for Spinning Coin's adorable "Albany", Geographic Music's 7" version is finally imminent.  Did Not Chart summed it up perfectly here.  It's still a thrill to hear those plaintive opening chimes coming from my radio.  It's great that  BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio Scotland among others have taken note.  Roxanne Clifford's sweet video for "Albany" premieres tomorrow on Clash Music.

DIÄT + Anxiety + New Values @ Nice'n'Sleazy on 23rd March

Last year DIÄT's "Positive Energy" came out of nowhere and bulldozed its way into Not Unloved's affections and landed a coveted (ha!) place in our Top 10 lps of 2015.  They're sure to be blazing live.
Anxiety are a hot-wired monster truck on the rampage.
New Values are another group, and as yet unheard by Not Unloved, to feature the talents of Ruari from Golden Grrrls, Vital Idles etc..  This will be their live debut.  Obviously, they'll be great!

Tickets HERE

"The Jerk" by Manchester's Irma Vep remains one of the great 45s of the last decade.  This is a rare full-band Glasgow performance.  Unmissable.
Vital Idles are one of the best groups to spring fully formed from birth outta Glasgow's DIY scene in forever.  Much more on them in the very near future!
Anxiety are a runaway streamroller,

Chump have by stealth become contenders.  Their set in support of Trembling Bells the other week was subtle and powerful yet full of warmth and self-deprecating charm.  If this was 20 years ago and Chump were American, Matador and Teen Beat would be arm-wrestling to see who got to sign them.  As dynamic as prime Versus.

Youth of America "Night of the Comet" 7"

Members of the aforementioned Trembling Bells and the fondly remembered Lucky Luke team up for a single on the maverick Great Pop Supplement label (who, coincidentally also released Irma Vep's "The Jerk") which will be released this spring.  It was premiered on Finlay Macdonald's Alternative Folk Show in January and it was added to my shopping list a few seconds later.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Additions to the U Section: Unloved & Uranium Club

Thanks to the fizzing recent lps from Uranium Club and Unloved, the U section of Not Unloved's impeccably alphabetised (yeah, right!) record collection has had a much needed injection of new blood. Uranium Club's "Human Exploration" (Static Shock Records) is a jagged, jittery listen that quickens the heartbeat but leaves nails bitten and nerves twisted.  Sonically, it hovers above the thrilling intersection of Diat's immense "Positive Energy" and the bug-eyed Devoisms of The Coneheads' "L.P. 1 a,k.a. 14 Year Old High School PC​-​Fascist Hype Lords Rip Off Devo for the Sake of Extorting $​$​$ from Helpless Impressionable Midwestern Internet Peoplepunks L​.​P​.".  It never flags and if there's any justice in the world, parents around the globe will be knocking on their kids' bedroom doors threatening them with grounding if they don't turn that racket down NOW.

Thanks to the Julian House artwork and the Monorail Music endorsement, Not Unloved was always going to love Unloved and so it transpired.  Like a noir version of Cat's Eyes they evoke a grainy world where cigarette smoke curls upwards and well-groomed sophisticates in polo necks debate the merits of Sartre and Godard.  It's not a new world but it's an attractive one.  A day flicking through old  magazines immersed in the music of Unloved, Broadcast, the aforementioned Cat's Eyes, Death and Vanilla, The New Lines, The United States of America and Candie Payne sounds divine. Let's do it!

Les Mystics "Mon Père Est Millionnaire" (Vedettes)

Sometimes I pity the poor folks around me.  Ever since I heard "Mon Père Est Millionnaire" by Quebec mid-60s dandies Les Mystics yesterday morning, I've wittered on about very little else.  How to find an as close to mint as possible copy of it was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning (the copies I've found online so far don't sound quite pristine enough).  It's an obsession, for sure.  Last week,   "Cryptique" by The Karovas Milkshake proved a timely reminder of just how great Francophone pop can be so YouTube couldn't have nudged me in the direction of "Mon Père..." at a better time.

 What a voice! Those 'aaah, aaah, aaah, aaah's, too - sublime.  Thanks YouTube algorithm, you're a pal!