"Select Buds" - named thus, I'm guessing, because it features 5 tracks culled from Teenage Moods' "Rosebuds" tape - is such an unpretentious, fun (without ever approaching wacky) listen that it will come in handy for lifting the spirits during the damp, grey gloom of January. Teenage Moods call Minneapolis, USA home but their sound fits in well with a lot of the gentler guitar pop that has emanated from Australia over the last half decade. "Get It Right", the 12" e.p.'s closing track and the one that Not Unlovedcraves the most, is as sprightly as your favourite Twerps track and just as sweet and features a cool, wobbly jelly guitar effect. Teenage Moods are another great find by Madrid's loveliest label, Tenorio Cotobade.
Glaswegians: Your chums over at Monorail Music have copies for the remarkably reasonable price of £6.99. Get on it!
For the last few weeks I've searched once a day on Norman Records, Rough Trade, juno.co.uk etc. for the new UV-TV/Shark Toys split 7" on Flagstaff, Arizona's Emotional Response(yeah, the label who released my favourite 7" of 2015). Unfortunately, it hasn't appeared on any of the UK sites so I've had to break my flimsy 'Don't make the US postal system rich' rule and order it direct from the label. It's a shame that none of the UK sites have seen fit to stock it (yet?) as it deserves to be heard and to be available in however small a way over here. UV-TV deliver the freshest, zestiest take on the glorious Shop Assistants sound for many a year. Both songs make me beam. On the flip, Shark Toys spit out 2 songs of breathless, rattling DIY pop that will set the hearts of Swell Maps/Messthetics lovers to 220 bpm. A thrilling coupling!
As 2015 melted away, Emotional Response was on a scorching streak, their UV-TV/Shark Toys release following hot on the heels of a couple of blazing split 7"s by Enemy Anemone/Cougar Vox and Linton and Stewart/The Aisler's Set. Enemy Anemone are a heavenly bunch of Girls At Our Best scholars (featuring label boss Jen Turrell) hopped-up on the various flavours of UK DIY circa 1981 whileCougar Voxplay gloriously scrappy rrriot pop that makes you nostalgic for the days when Skinned Teen and Comet Gain first hit vinyl. Another absolute winner!
Slumberland/Suicide Squeeze alumni The Aislers Setneed no introduction. "Big Ocean" (which dates from 2008) finds the group in reflective, acoustic mode. It features a banjo which laps at your eardrums like those little shoreline waves do so tenderly for roughly 3 days in the Scottish summer. For their part, (Amy) Linton and Stewart (Anderson, the label's other boss) toss out effortless-sounding, revved-up scooter POP! nuggets. The duo's second hookup is another treat.
While I'm getting all evangelical about the recent Emotional Response output, it should be mentioned that Boyracer's "Pete Shelley e.p." from summer 2015 is the best thing they've produced in quite a while. "The Kind of Man You Really Are" administers a stern rebuke to a dud father who doesn't respect his daughter. It feels like a from-the-gut response to a real event witnessed with horror. It's yet another belter from a label on fine, fine form. Let's hope that in 2016 it enjoys significantly better distribution in the UK and beyond and that record buyers don't take it for granted...
"Heart Attack" by Glasgow's The Poochesis as cute and exquisitely crafted as, say, a Pintachan poster, a Tatty Devine"Dog On Wheels" brooch or one of those adorable Asking For Trouble polymer stamps. For just over two minutes it makes the world just a little bit softer, a little bit cheerier. It also boasts one of the prettiest, least overblown guitar solos to burst from my speakers in ages. I hear there's an lp due later in the year. It's sure to be an understated marvel.
This year while deciding what should go in my top 10 albums list (and top 5 reissues and top 3 singles) for Monorail Music's annual poll, I felt like a football manager who doesn't know his best eleven. So many records could have and should have been on the list and I have guilt in my heart that they aren't. Some I purchased too late to make the cut, such as the ridiculously pretty Vic Mars"The Land and the Garden" lp (Clay Pipe) or Heather Leigh Murray'sunique and eviscerating"I Abused Animal" (Editions Mego). Based on repeated plays alone, Four Tet's euphoric "Morning/Evening" (Text) would probably have made off with the first place garland. Why it doesn't appear below is a mystery! Michael Kasparis's Night School Records had an extremely strong year releasing ace material by the likes of Paper Dollhouse, Apostille, Liberez and Molly Nilsson. Any one of them would've made a worthy addition to my top 10. Oh, and Night School's reissue of Rose McDowall's "Cut With The Cake Knife" deserved a spot on my top reissues list.
Try as I might, I couldn't limit myself to 3 singles - there were just too many belters released in 2015 for that to happen! I saved Spinning Coin's "Albany" for next year when the Geographic 7" is released despite the fact that it graced a cassette single in 2015. Oh, and the Expert Alterations 12" on the mighty Slumberland Records would definitely have been on this list had I not been too stingy to pay the postage from the US. Sorry, Mike!
I suspect that when I finally have Gloria Ann Taylor's "Love Is A Hurting Thing" in my hands I'll have a rethink and Golden Teacher's compilation of their first three e.p.s appeared in the racks too late to qualify.
Turn your living space into a tangled mess of limbs and sweat with the three best tunes I've heard for getting on the good foot to in the last week or two:
Last Friday saw the launch party at The Art School for The Green Door Studio's crucial "Youth Stand Up!" lp(Autonomous Africa- read the story behind ithere). The namesSacred Paws and Golden Teacher on the bill ensured that all 300 tickets were sold and it was great to see the Vic Bar's black and white tiled floor rammed with increasingly frenetic dancers for "Come With Me" . With its insistent rhythm, fabulously dense arrangement and pleading vocal, had it played on a loop for the rest of the evening I wouldn't have complained. Totally wondrous!
Och, while I'm banging on about dancefloor killers, The Mole's "Lockdown Party (DJ Sprinkles Crossfaderama) (Perlon) remains one of the most infectious good time records I've bought in 2015 (thanks to the mighty Jon Dale for the tip!). It hasn't once failed to put a smile on my face or get my feet on the move.
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.
(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 Loungesplit 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.