Sunday, 15 November 2015

Tropic of Cancer "Stop Suffering"

Starting as sparsely as Weekend's matchless "Drumbeat For Baby" demo before building emotionally, Tropic of Cancer's "Stop Suffering" (like the aforementioned Weekend demo available through Blackest Ever Black) is as sober as anything I've bought in months.  Don't get me wrong, it's not dour or melodramatically gothic, it's just serious and all the more lovely for it.  Perfect listening for watching the rain streak down the windows on a Sunday night in November.  If I get round to compiling a list of Not Unloved's favourite singles of 2015, "Stop Suffering" will be on it.

The Clientele @ Islington Assembly Hall (23/10/2015)

(Walking down Essex Road, London towards Islington Assembly Hall to see The Clientele a few weeks ago)

J: Do you think you'll cry?
Me : Nah.  I'm too much of a hard man for that!

I could tell J didn't believe me.  She was right not to.  About halfway through, the group was joined by their string arranger, Louis Phillippe, who read Alasdair MacLean's wonderfully evocative short story, 'Losing Haringey'; a song which has never failed to make me shiver since the first time I played 'Strange Geometry'.  Philippe then took his place at the grand piano and from the moment Alasdair sang "Goodnight my angel of the dark" the shivers gave way to tears.  I just hadn't steeled myself for  'Dreams of Leaving':

After that they went straight into 'Summer Trail' from their fabulous Hangover Lounge split with Birdie.  It was majestic but didn't aid in my vain attempts to regain some sort of composure.  In retrospect, it's just as well they didn't then play '6 a.m. Morningside' or 'Never Anyone But You' .  I have too much history layered on top of those songs to be just a casual listener.  Even the guy to my right who picked his nose (and ate his pickings) for the first 20 minutes or the irritating couple (what kind of selfish dud wears a massive hat with a 4 inch brim on the back of their head at a concert?) who snogged and shouted for songs but didn't applaud the group once and who stood in front of me the very second the group took to the stage couldn't take the shine off a beautiful evening.  Any show that ends with the purchase of a new mug is one to savour, for sure.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Calling all fans of the musical output of Glasgow!

Richard Youngs in the rain at
Glasgow Welcomes Refugees in Queens Park

A few weeks ago I spent a few enjoyable hours in The Glad Cafe in the company of Laurence Estanove, a French researcher in English and Social Sciences at Paris-Descartes University.  She is currently conducting some fascinating research that should be of interest to readers of Not Unloved:

"My objective is to look at the way people perceive Glasgow, at what image or representations of the city they may have (whether they've actually been to Glasgow or not) through following its independent music scene since the early 1980s. 

Please note that your answers will be used exclusively for research purposes and entirely anonymised."

To be part of it all you have to do is fill in the questionnaire here.  Go on, be part of something academic and cool!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

A Weekend Abroad fanzine

Monorail Music's inaugural A Weekend Abroad festival at the CCA was a complete blast.  Unfortunately, due to prior pop commitments (more on this later), I wasn't able to witness Night School Records' evening of interplanetary oddness, wryly observational synth pop and dreamy dance float but I did get to enjoy The Pastels and friends bring warmth and good humour and ENERGY to the sometimes sterile main performance space.  Normal Love's debut showcased hit after hit with Roxanne and Eilidh's voices combining to moving effect.  One song, I'm guessing called "Angela", was supernaturally beautiful.  Recordings must follow! Next up were Spinning Coin who rampaged through their set with conviction and heart.  They never sounded better.  Debsey Wykes and Paul Kelly's Birdie were as endearingly funny and melodically rich as I could have wished, the tinge of melancholy in Debsey's voice making it the perfect autumn sound.  The Pastels closed the evening with yet another reminder that when they're on it and their subtleties can be heard, few can match them.  What a night!  

To mark the occasion some friends (see below for more from them) and I produced a little fanzine.  J and I assembled 105 in all in an assortment of autumn leaves colours.  As an altruistic gesture, we gave them away for free.  All the physical fanzines are now gone but there's a digital copy here for those that missed out.

Read/see more from the 'zine's contributors here:

Andrew R Hill's Blasted Journal 
Chris Fox's La Terrasse
Chris Stevenson's Flickr

He's A..../She's A... or The Dahlmanns/Baby Shakes

Not many groups are as effervescent or as multi-coloured as Shonen Knife.  Baby Shakes, however, are one of the few.  Their recent "She's A Star" (Surfin' Ki) single is wholesome cartoon glam stomp of the highest order. It really ought to have come with a Hanna Barbera animated video.  7 years ago (zoinks!) a post on the precursor to Did Not Chart had me scrabbling about trying to find a UK distributor able to sort me out with a copy of their first lp.  This autumn I had to look to mainland Europe (thanks!) to snag a copy of their second lp, "Starry Eyes" (Lil' Chewy).  On first listen it's slightly chunkier sonically but still has the tunes to prompt spontaneous outbursts of kitchen dancing which has proved useful for keeping the late autumn chills at bay!

The first thing I noticed when the latest 7" by The Dahlmanns (Ghost Highway) arrived was the Next Big Thing t-shirt.  Any group with the smarts to advertise their love of Lindsay Hutton's seminal N.B.T. fanzine is alright by me!  It's a classic tale of a dud boyfriend set to an insanely catchy  Rock'n'Roll High School tune that's had me repeating "Yeah, yeah, he's no fun!"  till I needed a slap for a few days now.  "He's A Drag" was written by Kurt Baker.  He sure sounds lie a chap who knows how to wrangle a pop melody into shape.  And so another avenue of YouTube investigation (and, possibly, wallet emptying) opens up...  

I'll be giving these 7"s a fair few spins over the coming week to get my dose of top drawer contemporary power pop as, unfortunately, I'll be missing Mary Timony's Ex Hex who roll into Glasgow for a show at Stereo on Friday night that's sure to be a riot of glitter, harmony and riffs.

Monday, 19 October 2015

For sale for Carey Lander's chosen charity: Original 1997 Camera Obscura demo (all funds to Sarcoma UK)

Thanks to everyone who bid on a shared the link to this blog and to the auction itself.  Bidding closed at a fabulous 470.00 GBP.  Thanks, also, to the winning bidder for their tremendous generosity for a great cause.

A little over a week ago Carey Lander from Camera Obscura tragically succumbed to bone cancer at 33.  I didn't know her well - we only shared a laugh or two on a couple of occasions - but I loved her keyboard work with Camera Obscura and those I know who knew her always spoke of her with great affection.  She was a lovely presence round town and will be missed.  In the last few months Carey raised an amazing amount of money for the cancer charity Sarcoma UK.  In her honour, I'd like to make some sort of contribution so I'm selling an extremely rare 1997 homemade Camera Obscura demo tape via ebay.  This predates the group's beautiful first single, 'Park and Ride'.  100% of all funds raised will go to Sarcoma UK and postage is free to anywhere in the world.  Please take a look at the listing and it would be much appreciated if you would pass it on to anyone who might be interested.

Thanks for your help,

>> The 7 day listing is here <<

David Pollock's touching obituary for The Scotsman is here

Update @ 11:12pm:

Some interesting details about the tape/artwork from the official Camera Obscura Facebook page:

"An extremely rare item is being auctioned for Carey's Sarcoma UK campaign. An original 1997 demo tape from us. Not sure how many of these we made back in the day, realistically it was probably 10-20, I doubt any of us still have one lying about (I certainly don't). The sleeve was taken from an old photograph taken in Spain, and given a bit of a Peter Saville design-style tracing paper cover like New Order's Low Life album. Worth bidding on to help a great cause, and certainly an interesting and fairly unique piece of Obscura history."

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Blank Realm @ The Hug & Pint (28/09/2015)

One of the reasons why Not Unloved went on an unplanned summer long hiatus was that a cavalcade of great bands stampeded through Glasgow.  Staying up late more often than is sensible makes it a little tricky to remember the half of what went on but one thing is for sure, no group played harder (the guitarist broke a string on the first song!) or more thrillingly than Brisbane's, Blank Realm did at The Hug & Pint in September.  David and Heather Leigh from Volcanic Tongue cajoled me into buying Blank Realm's records a while back and, sure, I got all steamed-up over them but they just didn't suggest that, live, Blank Realm would scorch the paint from the walls whilst branding BR in a heart on my heart forever.  Guitars careened between ultra-fast garage jangle to blazing effects pedal wallop and back in thrilling instants. Perversely, maybe, the little of run of quieter songs for which vocalist and drummer Daniel Spencer emerged from behind his kit to sway centre stage is the bit I have replayed in my mind most often .  'Dream Date' from the recent 'Illegals In Heaven' (Fire Records) lp was the real scene-stealer - the best 80s Brat Pack high school prom clinch soundtrack ever.  Some Monday nights are better than others.  Some Monday nights are unforgettable.