Tuesday, 25 August 2020

White Feather "Summer Days / Golden Haze" (No No Records, 1983)

Original copies of the "Summer Days / Golden Haze" 7" by lost pastoral psych-poppers White Feather recently appeared for sale on the Perfect Lives Records site. A tiny amount of rummaging revealed that it was a "self released 1983 single, in an unlimited edition of 500" most of which were still in group member Alan S Robinson's cupboard.  My guess is that Perfect Lives were able to retrieve some from the cupboard and I'm glad they did as it's a lovely record which deserves a second shot at finding an audience, however small. Surely, fans of the gentler side of R.E.M.'s earliest work or those who avidly thumbed the pages of Bucketful of Brains or relished rifling through the 45s in Standout and Minus Zero will see its appeal. 

P.S. An mp3 of the A-side can be downloaded for FREE here with the B-side being available here.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Juniper "Juniper"

So far, 2020 has been a real head scrambler of a year so anything that is an uncomplicated source of joy is most welcome. "Juniper" by Juniper (Shelley) (lp on FABCOM!/CD on Confidential Recordings), therefore, showed up at just the right time; a dozen accomplished, wholesome and super-catchy songs about teenage matters such as the merits (or not!) of boys and dating, in general (Juniper is 15 so that's entirely appropriate) that'll have your foot tappin' and your heart swellin'. The songs cover a range of styles from dreamy soda shop pop ("Girls Just Want a Boy To Rest Their Head Upon") through glam stompers ("Kids On The Corner", "Everybody's Got A Crush on Chad") to punkin' power pop ("Punk Rock Boy"). There's even a nod to Springsteen on the almost absurdly singalong-worthy "Best Kept Secret". The arrangements are great with lots of surprising little touches. For example, I sure didn't expect the wah-wah on "How Long's She Gonna Stay In That Room", still less the electric sitar at the end of closing track "I Don't Wanna Dream About You". Throughout, Juniper's vocals are high in the mix, with good reason; her clear but unshowy voice is immensely likable. "Juniper" boasts a host of top contributors (Ira Kaplan! April March! Beans Geddes! Francis Macdonald! Kim Shattuck! (RIP) and more) but I suspect I'd enjoy it even if the songs were largely unadorned. That's the power of succinct, well-written songs steeped in the good stuff from the past 50+ years of pop music.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Shirley & Johnny "And I Don't Want Your Love"

There's an almost Buddy Holly goes gospel with Phil Spector at the controls feel to Shirley and Johnny's brilliant 1967 Parlophone single "And I Don't Want Your Love". From the feather-light guitar of the intro, to the intermittent fanfares, handclaps and cavernous drums, Norman 'Hurricane' (of "The Piper At The Gates of Dawn", "S.F. Sorrow" etc.)  Smith's production is a joy. Curiously, the song starts with "Yeah, and I don't want your love" as if we've started eavesdropping midway through a couple's break-up argument. From there it only gets gloomier:

I don't need the trouble
I don't need the pain
I don't need the fussin'
Or the cryin' again

...and more more pained:

I won't wreck my mind
I won't walk the line

All that's missing is a tear-stained stream of "and another thing!"s. Had I heard this on Sounds of the 60s (there's a fair chance I did), I would've enjoyed it but would most likely have assumed it to be a cheerful little number with a bright, radio-friendly production. It just goes to show how wrong I can be about things.

Vanity "Anticlimax"

Vanity's recent "Anticlimax" single (Feel It) is anything but. During the working (from home) week, predominantly electronic instrumental music is all my stressed brain can cope with so, come the weekend, the guitars (and lyrics!) can fly with the result that groups such as Vanity are very much a weekend treat like proper coffee and late night movies. Former Vexx guitarist (what I wouldn't give to witness their mad intensity upstairs in The Old Hairdressers again!) Mike Liebman's lead work on both sides of this ace 45 is gloriously Paisley-patterned, calling to mind an amphetamine-fueled, street tough Rain Parade.  Vanity have had three albums out so Not Unloved has a lot of catching up to do. Here's hoping they're all as fresh and vibrant as the songs on offer here.

I Ragazzi dai Capelli Verdi "Un Tipo Per Te"

At the start of 2020's lockdown I owned precisely no records produced in Italy in the 1960s. It's hard to remember why I started digging around in that country's pop past but the process has yielded some great 45s. First, there was an ace thumper by The G-Men which featured on Not Unloved in March, then a wonderfully woozy slice of helium-voiced baroque sunshine pop by I Jaguars and most recently the fizzing torrent of guitars that is I Ragazzi dai Capelli Verdi's "Un Tipo Per Te":

The green vinyl 7" of "Un Tipo Per Te" - it's on the flip of "Ragazza Note" - is a fairly cheap buy, even in these days of over-inflated prices for anything deemed halfway collectable. Around 20 quid is worth it for that bit at around 1:42 where the Byrds-y solo fades out leaving you thinking that the song is over and then BOOM!, the galloping guitars and sneering attitude crash back in making yr heart beat that little bit faster.

Nein Rodere "Feeling and Form"

Nein Rodere is the current working musical alias of Berlin-based (but previously Glasgow-resident) artist and musician David Roeder. There's a track on his latest, largely instrumental, tape, "Catch Up With Social" (self-released), that stopped me in my tracks. "Feeling and Form" is one of the prettiest, most seductively atmospheric new tunes to have dropped outta nowhere into my lap in 2020. The room ambience, the tape hiss, the relaxed tempo etc. give it the feel of a stoned late night Pastels or Movietone rehearsal (see also this track). It's the kind of diamond that Volcanic Tongue used to dig out of the New Zealand or Australian underground scenes with surprising ease and wouldn't be out of place on one of Carla dal Forno's unmissable monthly broadcasts for NTS Radio.

Glaswegians are advised to reserve a copy from Good Press immediately!

Sunday, 5 July 2020

7"s! (Ribbon Stage / Lost Cat / Romero)

Things are looking up, finally. By looking up, of course, I mean a bunch of ace new 45s have appeared or are imminent. Not Unloved's pals at Monorail Music did the intros to New Yorkers Ribbon Stage yesterday. On the evidence of "Favorite Girl" (from their contribution to  K Records' IPU series), lovers of amped-up guitar pop that's not over-worked or over-wrought (hey...that's me!) have a new crush to set their hearts racing.

Outro Records has been busy over the last couple of years cranking out a slew of fine throwback garage punk records (The Premonitions, The Night Times, etc.). Their latest 7" to land at UK distros is the mighty fine "Don't Need A Man" by Lost Cat. The lead track makes me miss The Bobbyteens but "He's Gone" on the flip is moodier and stands up to repeated plays. I'm pretty sure you could you could sneak it unnoticed onto an early volume of Girls In The Garage without too many listeners filing a complaint with their MP.

Julian at Drunken Sailor does sterling work keeping on top of what's going on in the worlds of punk, hardcore, trash, power pop etc. so lazy lumps like Not Unloved don't have to.  For example, Australian group Romero's debut single, "Honey" (Cool Death), has been out since February but only landed with a bump in my world when Julian stocked it. It's a zesty concoction comprised of Blondie-worthy guitar lines and impassioned vocals that is clinically proven to cause fist-pumping and the shouting of "What happened at the discotheque?" . It's somewhere between Sheer Mag and The Strokes but less rock than the former and way more fun than the latter. Turn it up!