Friday, 30 December 2011

The Sea-ders

Prior to yesterday, the only thing which connected the words 'Lebanon' and 'music' for me was this single by The Human League. That was before Russell in Monorail played me the first 4 songs from a little cd anthology of 60s Lebanese group The Sea-ders because they "sound like The Kinks with traditional instruments".  Now, a description like that was always gonna prick up my ears!  I really liked the first 3 songs (out of 8) just fine but a minute into "I Don't Know Why" I knew that Russell had successfully teased open my wallet yet again:

I can imagine arch pop classicists like Ric Menck and Paul Chastain or The Sneetches being sent spinning by "I Don't Know Why".  After stunning reissues by Sandhy and Mandhy and Index, it would appear that the folks behind Lion Productions have impeccable taste and an enviable knowledge of global pop's back pages.  I'll be keeping an ear on what they're up to in 2012, for sure!

Not Unloved will always be a sucker for naive, romantic lyrics especially when they're paired with a simple, instantly memorable melody.  Check out these delightful lyrics from the 100% huggable "I Like The Way" (it's not on!):

I like the way you call my name
It sounds so nice, I could never explain
I like the way you hold my hand
It lets me know that you understand

I like the way you wanna kiss me
And I like the way you always miss me
I like the way (I like the way)

I like the way you come around
And cheer me up whenever I'm down
l like the way you make feel
The love we have is so very real 

I like the way you wanna kiss me
And I like the way you always miss me
I like the way (oooooh)

I like the way you kiss goodnight
It feels so good when you're holding me tight
I like the way you hold my hand
It lets me know that you understand

I like the way you wanna kiss me
And I like the way you always miss me
I like the way you wanna kiss me
And I like the way you always miss ba ba...

The 'cheer me up whenever I'm down' line is particularly great. Almost worthy of The Softies!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Hobbes Fanclub at Glasgow Popfest 2011

For better or worse, it was the need to evangelise about The Hobbes Fanclub which persuaded me back into jotting down thoughts on music.  I'd all but given up on it as posting blogs on myspace was proving too slow and untidy and time always seemed to be short.  "Outside Myself", however, changed that.  It always sounded like a song that could be chill-inducing to hear live and so it proved when they played it at the recent Glasgow Popfest.  Thankfully, the wonderfully named Rafa Skam was on hand to film it.  Of course a YouTube clip can't convey the true extent of the brilliance of the performance but I'm still glad someone was savvy enough to record it for posterity.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

2 from Down Under

Lately, Not Unloved has been obsessing over a couple of 20 year old tracks from the southern hemisphere that have very little in common sonically.  "Into Your Arms" by Australia's Love Positions (from "Billiepeebup" on Damien Hirst's favourite label Half A Cow) is the beguiling, if brief, original of a song made famous by The Lemonheads in the early 90s.  I always liked their version, always admired its simplicity and the unembarrassed sentimentality of its lyrics but Love Positions' version is so much sparser and so much prettier.  Mind you, former The Hummingbirds bassist Robyn St. Clare's voice possesses a rare sweetness that Evan Dando was never gonna quite match.  Just how my ears have managed to dodge such a gorgeous voice in two decades of pop digging is a source of consternation round these parts.  Time to start excavating The Hummingbirds' back catalogue, I reckon.  Hopefully, Robyn handled lots of the vocal duties...

Much messier but equally beautiful in its own careering way is The Garbage and The Flowers' "Catnip". These New Zealanders made one of my favourite lps of 2011 (it was, in fact, a reissue of a cassette sold at gigs) which was subtle and intimate.  It in no way prepared me for the driving, squealing, extended grind of their 1992 single "Catnip".  The idea of a riot grrrl (Helen Johnstone - I don't know if she aligned herself with the Riot Grrrls but she sure screamed like yr Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill used to) fronting an out of control The Stooges isn't something I would've dreamed up but this single makes the case for it being a good one.  Luckily, there was a fairly cheap unplayed copy of the 7" (on Twisted Village of Cambridge, Massachussets, U.S.A.) on discogs which I bought so I can now blast it on repeat to the detriment of my hearing but to the benefit of my heart.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Not Unloved's favourite things of 2011

Albums of 2011

  1. Amor de Dias "Street of the Love of Days" (Porcini Music)
  2. Crystal Stilts "In Love With Oblivion" (Fortuna Pop/Slumberland)
  3. Veronica Falls "s/t" (Bella Union/Slumberland)
  4. Sea Lions "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid To Ask" (Slumberland)
  5. The New Lines "All That We See and Seem" (Great Pop Supplement)
  6. Motion Sickness of Time Travel "Luminaries and Synastry" (Type)
  7. The Bats "Free All The Monsters" (Flying Nun)
  8. Girls Names "Dead To Me" (Tough Love)
  9. Sea Pinks "Dead Seas" (C/F) / Former Bullies "Golden Chains" (C/F)
  10. Sweet Bulbs "s/t" (Blackburn)
  11. Dum Dum Girls "Only In Dreams" (Sub Pop)
  12. Comet Gain "The Howl of the Lonely Crowd" (Fortuna Pop)
  13. Real Estate "Days" (Domino)
  14. Still Corners "Creatures of an Hour" (Sub Pop)
  15. Big Troubles "Romantic Comedy" (Slumberland)
  16. The Garbage and The Flowers "Stoned Rehearsal" (Quemada)
  17. PJ Harvey "Let England Shake" (Island)
  18. Hong Kong in the 60s "My Fantoms" (Proper Songs)
  19. The Babies "s/t" (Shrimper)
  20. Chain and The Gang "Music's Not For Everyone" (K)
(There are a few lps on my Christmas list that I'm sure would've made the 20 but since I haven't heard them yet,they're not included!)

Singles of 2011

  1. Veronica Falls "Bad Feeling" (Bella Union/Slumberland)
  2. Golden Grrrls "New Pop" (Night School)
  3. Terry Malts "Something About You" (Slumberland)
  4. Real Estate "Green Aisles" (Domino)
  5. On Fell "Untitled" (the first one!) (Moteer)
  6. The Motifs / The Zebras "split" (Knock Yr Socks Off)
  7. The New Lines "Please Fall In Love" (self-released)
  8. Snails "She'd Like An Hour" (Great Pop Supplement)
  9. Bleached "Carter" (Art Fag)
  10. Wax Idols "All Too Human" (HoZac)
(e.p.s/12"s of the year may follow soon!)

Reissue of 2011

Penny and The Quarters "You and Me" (7", Numero)

Gigs of 2011

  1. The Pastels at The Platform (Eastern Promise 2011)
  2. Hollie Cook at Glasgow Afro Caribbean Centre
  3. Korallreven at Nice'n'Sleazy
  4. The Hobbes Fanclub at Heavenly (Glasgow Popfest 2011)
  5. Tyvek/The Pheromoans at The Captain's Rest
  6. Ducktails/Big Troubles/Julian Lynch at The Captain's Rest
The Pastels' performance at The Platform really was something incredibly special.  I tried to write a review of it for Not Unloved at the time but somehow the right words didn't come in the right order and I couldn't do it justice.  But then, how do you express in words that feeling in your heart when Stephen Pastel nonchalantly swigged his beer then used his bottle as a slide before casually turning his amp to blissful on "Baby Honey"?  The whole group was together and you could see from their smiles and the looks they exchanged afterwards that they, too, knew they'd been part of something memorable and way beyond the ordinary.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Paragons "Abba"

In the autumn Monorail Music announced via Twitter (@Monorail_Music) that they'd added a bunch of garage cds to their second hand racks. On went my coat and I was there within 25 minutes.  (I'm convinced the staff were working me by remote control!)  I dithered and hummed and hawed about which ones to buy so (recklessly! profligately!) bought all the ones I didn't already have; 13 discs in total.  It's taken a while to fully digest such a bounteous haul but with uncommon certainty I can now say that this song from "Teenage Shutdown: Nobody To Love" was the best of the lot:

With a killer intro and a joyful, almost gospel refrain of "I saw Abba late last night!" it's catchy to the point of madness. There's some wise advice amongst its lyrics, too: 

She said git your hair cut boy
Come on and get it outta your eyes
Stop your drinking and smoking boys
And tellin' all of them lies

The little Bobby Gillespie fade in the singer's voice on 'eyes' is a magical detail. Even the squarest of the squares must've punched the air with delight when they heard "Abba" at the college dance!  It sounded great across the PA in Heavenlythe other night but would've totally killed at 15 times the volume.

Read more about The Paragons on Beyond The Beat Generation.
As expected, original 45s are stupidly rare and hence command quite a price.

* - Apologies to anyone unfortunate enough to hear me wailing it and, er, to anyone who witnessed my air punching. Like I said, even the squarest of the squares....

Monday, 12 December 2011

Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy!

Glasgow Popfest 2011 at Heavenly was a total treat from start to finish.  So many of the bands sizzled.  Hopefully a good night's sleep will have me awake enough (3 late nights in a row...jings!) to jot down a few words on the subject but in the meantime, here's what made it from my Jumpdrive and into Virtual DJ through the magic of drag and drop:

Group: Baffin Island

The Go-betweens - Lee Remick
The Airfields - Nowhere Left To Go
Strawberry Fair - Why Won't He Answer

Group: Lenzie Moss

The Chills - Pink Frost
The Bobcats - Can’t See For Looking
#poundsign# - Michigan
Cudgels - Joybang!
The Dentists - I Had An Excellent Dream

Group: The Electric Pop Group

The Sea Urchins - Summershine
Dino, Desi and Billy - The Rebel Kind
The Gifted Children - Favourite Things
The Pussycats - I Want Your Love
The Sequins - He’s A Flirt
The Aislers Set - Mission Bells
Candie Payne - One More Chance

Group: Maple Leaves

Lisa Mychols - Listen To The Bells Ring
The Revolving Paint Dream - Flowers In The Sky
Pop Art Toasters - What Am I Gonna Do?
The Bootiques - Did You Get Your Fun?
The Pooh Sticks - I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well
The Osaka Ramones (aka Shonen Knife) - The KKK Took My Baby Away
The Flatmates - Happy All The Time
Talulah Gosh - Beatnik Boy
The Adorables - Ooh, Boy
April March - Mon Ange Guardien

Group: BMX Bandits

The Gentle Touch - Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy
The Third Wave - Got To Get You Into My Life
The Wake - Crush The Flowers
Saint Etienne feat. Tim Burgess - I Was Born On Christmas Day
McCarthy - Keep An Open Mind Or Else
Reading Rainbow - Can’t Stand It <-- I'm pretty sure this is the best The Velvet Underground cover I've heard!
The Paragons - Abba
The Parallelograms - Papageno
Candy and The Kisses - Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby?
Crystal Stilts - Through The Floor
Fabienne Delsol - Le Roi des Foumis
Felt - September Lady
Heavenly - Our Love Is Heavenly
Primal Scream - All Fall Down
The Hobbes Fanclub - Outside Myself
Bubblegum Lemonade - White Noise Christmas
The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa - What’s
The Charlottes - Are You Happy Now?
Veronica Falls - Misery
The Clean - Tally Ho!
My Bloody Valentine - Strawberry Wine
Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes - Splashing Along
Allo Darlin’ - The Polariod Song
The Innocence - Do You Believe In Magic?
The Chiffons - Stop, Look And Listen
Pulp - Babies

Thanks to Gary Bubblegum / Heavenly for being kind enough to let me be part of such a smashing event!  This cheery little number seemed the best way to follow a particularly sweet and charming BMX Bandits set:

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Lisa Mychols "Listen To The Bells Ring"

Another majestic Christmas tune by another Lisa M, this time Mychols.  I was lucky enough to win her "Lost Winter's Dream" cd nearly a decade ago in a competition on the Rev-ola website. It's not a perfect album but there are a clutch of dazzling, soul lifting productions that share a sound and approach similar to a lot of the fantastic "Grace Of My Heart" soundtrack.  Time to do some digging into Lisa's other records I reckon!  

Monday, 5 December 2011

Playlist from the CCA (4/12/2011)

Thoughts on "Lawrence of Belgravia" and "Take Three Girls" will follow once I've had a nice long sleep. In the meantime, here's what I fairly ineptly played at the CCA after the films and James Kirk had spun some gems:

Memphis "You Supply The Roses" (Swamplands) <-- I asked James Kirk if he was ok with me playing it and like a gent he said 'yes' :)
Lisa Miller "The Loneliest Christmas Tree" (Canterbury) <--- see below!
The Sneetches "She Does Everything For Me" (Bus Stop)
The Hollies "Bus Stop" (Parlophone)
Fargo "Sunny Day Blue" (Capitol)
Lali Puna "Remember" (Morr Music)
Cosmetics "Black Leather Gloves" (Captured Tracks)
The Flamin' Groovies "Shake Some Action" (Sire) <--- because it got a mention in the Dolly Mixture film!
The Velvet Underground "Foggy Notion" (Sundazed reissue) <--- because Lou Reed is Lawrence's idol
Epitome of Sound "You Don't Love Me" (Go Ahead reissue)
Jay and The Techniques "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" (Smash)
Comet Gain "An Arcade From The Warm Rain That Falls" (Fortuna Pop)
Bush Tetras "You Can't Be Funky" (ROIR reissue)
Chain and The Gang "Detroit Music" (K)
Veronica Falls "Bad Feeling " (Bella Union)
Barbara Mercer "Hey" (Golden World)
Dot Allison "Mo' Pop" (Heavenly)
Real Estate "Green Aisles" (Domino)
The Dentists "Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden And It's Winter Time" (Spruck)
Sea Lions "Let's Groove" (Yay! Label)
The Research "I Think She's The One I Love" (This Is Fake DIY)
The Checkerboard Squares "Double Cookin'" (Villa facsimile issue - bootleg?)
Crystal Stilts "Shake The Shackles" (Slumberland)
The Tyde "Strangers Again" (The Track & Field Organisation)
The Zeros "Main Street Brat" (Last Laugh reissue)
Home Blitz "Perpetual Night" (Almost Ready)
The Modern Lovers "Roadrunner" (Beserkely)
Ninian Hawick "Scottish Rite Temple Stomp" (Grimsey)
La Sera "Never Come Around" (Hardly Art)
The New Lines "Off Axis" (Great Pop Supplement)
Crocodiles "Sleep Forever" (Fat Possum)
Sterling Roswell "Kicks" (ROSCO)
The Mantles "Raspberry Thighs" (SDZ)
Janie Grant "And That Reminds Me Of You" (Parkway - probably a 70s bootleg)
Bubblegum Lemonade "Caroline's Radio" (Matinee)
Edwyn Collins "Losing Sleep" (Heavenly)
Scars "Horrorshow" (Fast Product)
Dum Dum Girls "Jail La La" (Sub Pop)
Golden Grrrls "New Pop" (Night School)
Helen Love "Joey Ramoney" (Damaged Goods)
The Magnetic Fields "100,000 Fireflies" (Harriet)
Gary and The Hornets "Baby, It's You" (Smash)
Pale Saints "Kinky Love" (4AD)

It was a real thrill to hear my new favourite Christmas song at giddy-making volume:

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lawrence of Belgravia @ Glasgow Film Theatre

Monorail Film Club has certainly cooked up a very special treat for Sunday, 4th December!  They're presenting Paul Kelly's documentaries Lawrence of Belgravia and Take Three Girls: The Dolly Mixture Story about former Felt (and Denim and current Go Kart Mozart) visionary Lawrence Hayward and adorable early-80s pop group Dolly Mixture respectively.  As if that weren't treats enough, after the screenings, long time Felt fan Stuart Murdoch will host a Q&A with Kelly and Hayward.   I've been keen to see both films for ages so since word got out about this event a couple of months back I've been counting down the days.  Yet another reason for Glaswegians to give thanks for Monorail Music!

My favourite Felt song (always make me a bit teary for some reason):
 My favourite Dolly Mixture song:

After the main event in the GFT, the fun continues with a We Can Still Picnic and Monorail Music organised event in the CCA's Saramago Cafe/Bar where former Orange Juice guitarist James Kirk Unloved will be spinning some sweet records.  It's a total honour to be asked to be part of such an ace evening and to mark the occasion I've bought the cutest, loveliest Christmas record to play.  If you're there and you hear it, I hope you like it!

A post-Orange Juice James Kirk gem:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Tower of Song

Last weekend's Blackpool Tower Soul Weekender was an unalloyed joy.  Of course the music was immense and invigorating and moving, that was to be expected, but the unseasonably wonderful weather and the sheer beauty of the spectacle of hundreds of people bobbing in unison in a grand old ballroom came as pleasant surprises.  There were some seriously brilliant dancers.  Dancers whose feet seemed to move as fast as hummingbirds' wings.  I could've watched Sam Evans - a former World Northern Soul Dancing champion - dancing for hours.  She put on quite a masterclass early on Sunday afternoon when a lot of folks were still out enjoying the tail end of the sunshine and would've given the much younger Steven Cootes (of Edinburgh...yessss!) who a little controversially took this year's crown, a right run for his money.  Never having been to a weekender before, I got a bit of a jolt when, just flipping through a box of records, I put my hand on an original Revilot issue of Rose Batiste's masterpiece "Hit and Run" with the £250.00 price tag written casually in marker pen on its greying card protector.  Part of me wanted to recklessly throw down a bunch of tenners then and there but sense and the fact that I own a perfectly good copy of the '90s Goldmine reissue prevailed.  The most expensive record I saw?  That was Don Varner's rolllicking "Tear Stained Face" which was priced at £800.00.  I stopped looking after that.  I'm well aware that rare Northern Soul records can fetch quite a sum on ebay or John Manship but to see such madly expensive 7"s just sitting in a box on a bar table and not behind toughened safety glass was wild.  Billy Butler's "The Right Track" became the anthem of the weekend with J and I stomping the deserted streets of Blackpool chanting its emphatic string part over and over after hearing it on Sunday afternoon in the main ballroom.  When played at ballroom wrecking volume it became a Delete button for all the other melodies onto which I'd been vainly clinging in the hope of identifying some day.  Why it wasn't on either volume of Kent's "Okeh: A Northern Soul Obsession"  I'll never know*.  So, a brilliant experience and one that I'd love to repeat next year.

* - Actually, that's not strictly true.  I'm sure that the reason why it wasn't included is because the smart folks at Kent would like you to buy their Billy Butler cd, too!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Viv Albertine / Aggi Doom etc. @ Mono

Mono has been the venue for some of the most unique, memorable and soul stirring shows I've been lucky enough to witness in 21 years of gig going.  When it's heaving and Glasgow is up for it, you wouldn't want to be anywhere else on earth.  When, for whatever reasons, Glasgow doesn't show up and the lights cruelly illuminate what seems like acres of wooden floor it can be a sobering place.  Unfortunately, for former Slits guitarist Viv Albertine's show last there last night, the latter was the case.  For the first 2 acts, Tragic O'Hara and Lach, there was nobody on the floor in front of the stage.  It must have been demoralising for both promoters and performers.  To their credit, though, both met the situation with undimmed vigour. New Yorker Lach was particularly funny, going on a hilarious rant against Tom Petty and the charmed life documented in his biography.  He also played his song about Kiss twice.  Helpfully providing audio footnotes for those of us too dumb to know who Paul Stanley was on the second run-through.

Local cave-dwellers Aggi Doom were brilliant and for their brief set there were 6 feet on the floor in front of the stage, 2 of them mine.  If my eyes can be trusted, they count former Divorce guitarist Hilary Van Scoy and former The Royal We violinist Joan Sweeney (now on bass) among their number (4).  Primal beats, a reigned-in but (ton)sure-footed cover of The Monks and a witchy lead singer called Claudia Nova (great Bond girl name!) who shares a Dum Dum Girl's love of black eyeliner and hosiery adds up to a fine 15 minutes in my book.

Viv blew into Mono like a sparkly, bossy (her word) tornado. She arranged chairs in front of the stage and corralled the small crowd into something approaching a critical mass.  One thing you learn about Viv Albertine pretty early on is that she doesn't believe in romantic love any more.  You learn that and then you are reminded of it via songs like "Couples Are Creepy" (not 'cuddles' as an audience member in Edinburgh had thought the night before!) and her between song banter.  She's direct, confessional, not shy of the saucy stuff (check the slogan on the t-shirt*, above), most probably a handful but also sparky, creative and rightfully proud of her legacy.  The songs from last year's "Flesh" e.p. (Ecstatic Peace!) were rawer than on the cd - it was just Viv and her Telecaster, after all - but no less compelling.  She seemed to be having a great time and I for one can say that I was, too.  I just feel a bit guilty that I didn't do my bit to tell the world that she was playing.  If there's a next time, I will.

(I would've embedded this video but embedding has been disabled.)

* - If you dig the image on the shirt, check out more of designer Daniel Novakovic's ace illustrations here

La Terrasse confirms that Viv's Dundee show was simlarly great!          

Thursday, 3 November 2011

I Still Big Red Heart Slumberland Records

Shamefully, it's been a while since I wrote about one of Slumberland Records' releases.  This should in no way be taken as a reflection of my thoughts on the quality of the records.  On the contrary, Slumberland has had another fantastic year.  I guess it's easy to take them for granted due to the sheer consistent high quality of their releases.  I guess, too, that now that other better read (ok, read!) sites are interested in Slumberland's records it can feel like they have less need for also-reads like Not Unloved getting all giddy about them.  But, so long as the records continue to be from the topmost drawer, Not Unloved will continue to get giddy about them!

The first Terry Malts 7" remains one of the most thrilling 7"s I've bought in 2011 (it's guaranteed a spot in my Top 10 of the year) so expectations were high for their second 45. "Something About You" injects a little more of The Ramones to the mix.  It is, of course, bouncy, fizzy and, most importantly, singalongably fun - even I can manage the 'oooohs' at the end!  It has a naughty word for added teen rebel appeal. Grand.

A few weeks back the cd of Weekend's "Red" e.p. took up residence in my work PC.  Anything that makes the working day go by that little bit more bearably is always welcome but it took a lot of restraint not to belt out "Hazel" whilst waiting for another 'coffee from fresh ground beans' to come to fruition from the vending machine.  Last year's "Sports" was a  startlingly good debut l.p.; all dark and pop brutal.  "Red" is a little brighter and it suits them well.

When Big Troubles (check out their chucklesomely bad website!) supported Ducktails at The Captain's Rest earlier this year it was their scrappier, noisier songs that got my heart beating the fastest so I was a little apprehensive when reports suggested that their 2nd l.p., "Romantic Comedy", was going to have a softer, more polished sound.  I needn't have worried, though, for former R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter was behind the desk and he hasn't been in the habit of ruining bands and he didn't this time.  "Romantic Comedy" is a fine record with melodies to spare.  It stands up well to repeated plays, too.

If you add to all of this that Sea Lions' long awaited debut lp* is imminent, Veronica Falls just dropped an album of the year contender and that Devon Williams released what sounds from the samples (it's yet to make an appearance in my local pop emporium of choice so I haven't purchased it yet) to be a big, confident melodic pop record, you realise just how important it is to keep on top of Slumberland's releases.

* -  Their "Let's Groove" remains the single most asked about record I've ever played out!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

On Fell

Hood occupy a special place in my affections.  Throughout their existence they (have?) barely put a foot wrong despite the wide range of styles, fidelities and sounds to be heard across their myriad records.  Their Yorkshire pals The Remote Viewer and The Famous Boyfriend were also responsible for some of the music I cherish most; always inventive, always fascinating.  The Famous Boyfriend also played one of the oddest, funniest gigs I've ever witnessed when, with anoraks zipped all the way up and masks on, they 'played'  (I'm pretty sure the bulk of it was on TDK D90!) in the basement of The 13th Note in the late '90s.  Given all this, I'm a bit mystified as to how I managed to remain oblivious until very recently to the fact that members of  these groups had formed a new one called On Fell.  Sure, I got the Norman Records and boomkat mailouts which mentioned their 2 singles to date - the first in February, the second earlier this month - but somehow they didn't quite register with me with the result  that the first single has long gone*.  Luckily the second is still available and it's a swish slice of soft, processed pop.  In fact, both sides get the Not Unloved thumbs up and whet the appetite for the third and final instalment of the 7" series.  Let's hope there's an lp to follow!

Some classic Hood:

* I mailed their label Moteer on the off-chance but no joy.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Someloves "Know You Now"

Being the kind of dope who lives in fear of guitar solos, power pop can be tricky.  There's always a bit of trepidation that the first 2 minutes of big, glorious pop is going to marred by excessive fretboard tickling when the solo kicks in. Thankfully, the solo on The Someloves' 1988 single "Know You Now" is brief and restrained so in no way undoes the great work done by the catchy lead guitar, dinky glockenspiels and Dom Mariani's sweet vocals.  There's a fair chance that if I'd heard "Know You Now" 15 years ago it would've sounded too buffed-to-a-shine in comparison to the abraded sounding Hood and Flying Saucer Attack records that dominated my listening back then, but it's 2011 and a big, clean, confident sound doesn't raise the indie vs major hackles to the same extent that it used to.  Plus, certain types of music just sound better minus the fuzz.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Paraffin Brain

29 years old you say?  Crazy.  I've long admired the name The Nightingales but inexplicably hadn't taken the time to actively investigate any records by the band with the good sense to take it until yesterday when a 2nd hand copy of their Cherry Red anthology "Pissed and Potless" took up residency in my work CD-ROM drive and had me singing 'Paraffin brain at the mention of your name' over and over in a decidedly un-corporate, demented manner.  "Paraffin Brain", with its super-crisp drums and springy vocal line, made the earliest impact on me. It tickles the same jittery neurons as The Yummy Fur and The Fire Engines or, more recently, Sarandon.  I'm glad that the The Nightingales turned out to be good as I would have resented them all the more for being not just rubbish but for wasting a brilliant name.  If Timeout is truthin', they're playing with Amelia Fletcher's Tender Trap next week at the 100 Club in London.  Now that sounds like a fine night out!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Hollows "Hot Sand" / "Shapeshifter"

Surely, there can't have been many odder 7" sleeves this year than the one pictured above!  It seems like an age since Not Unloved did much crazylegs dancing round the living room to Hollows' Trouble In Mind single so it's nice to hear that they're still in the business of making records.  In "Hot Sand", those suave cats at Soft Power Records (the record releasing arm of cherished online popshop Soft Power Vinyl*) have got themselves another pop winner.  If the original lineup of The Pipettes had dug tattoos and surfer dudes more than polka dots and boys in school unifrorm maybe they would've sounded a bit like Hollows.  Check the handclaps on the frat-rockin' "Shapeshifter" if you're in need of convincin' .  Coming so soon after their fine, fine single by The Tamborines, it would appear that Soft Power Records has hit a bit of a hot streak.  Long may it continue! 

Hot Sand by Hollows SOFT003 by Soft Power

* - Full marks to Soft Power Vinyl for having the smarts to stock some recent Shelflife Records 7" - it's about time those White Wishes and Soda Shop 45s were available in the U.K.!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Pinky Blue

It's been a colourful couple of days round these parts.  Yesterday, Pink Playground's Art Fag single* plopped through the letterbox (and had its fall broken by the old pillow I keep underneath for such occasions - we don't want any bashed corners round these parts!) then today I opened the door to my postie who was holding a parcel which turned out to be The Bats "Made Up In Blue" 12" (Flying Nun) I'd bought on ebay a couple of weeks back. Excitingly, both records are brilliant. Not that in either case that came as a surprise thanks to the cd-r of The Bats' "Daddy's Highway" + singles that Did Not Chart dubbed for me a bit back (when it was outta print - thanks again, DNC!) and to Pink Playground's bandcamp page.  "Made Up In Blue" jangles dreamily and its melody just begs to be sung when your heart is full of love.  Actually, scratch that, it fills your heart full of love.  Pink Playground's"Sunny Skies" on the other hand wrong-foots by starting with a fairly functional drum machine that hints at mediocrity before bursting  into the kind of dense, swirling/chugging pop noise that is anything but mediocre and which could only ever make your day happier.  Sure they love My Bloody Valentine but that's a good thing, right?    

* - It came out in February 2011 but for some reason its existence isn't even hinted at on the Art Fag site.  Or at least I couldn't see mention of it when I was trying to buy it.  It's not in the Shop or listed on the Past Releases/Out of Print page.  Strange.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Rumbles

The Rumbles' "Fourteen Years" is yet another winner from that seemingly endless stream of moody 60s janglers that is almost perfect in every way.  It's a beautifully sung tale of a young lad counting down the days to his release from prison for a crime he didn't commit;  classic wronged outsider stuff.  It's only 'almost perfect', however, because the last note sung (the 'cent' at the end of the final 'innocent') is actually a bit ridiculous and takes a little of the shine off the tune as a whole.  Still, that didn't deter me from parting with a few quid for a Mercury Records promo of the 7" on which it was the b(a? - there's some confusion online as the sides aren't clearly marked on the record!)-side after hearing it on the "Tymes Gone By" lp where it was by some distance my favourite song in a strong selection.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Hollie Cook

It was through a Tweet from Edwyn Collins's wonderfully waggish wife, Grace Maxwell (@gracemaxwell), that I first became aware of Hollie Cook's music*.  (See, it's not all footballers flirting and movie title puns!)  She posted a link to Hollie's bandcamp page and from the first listen I was smitten by the clarity and purity of her voice.  It was, therefore, with a fair degree of excitement that I showed up at Glasgow's (new?) Afro Caribbean Centre last night for her show with Brighton's Prince Fatty. The show was everything I'd hoped for and more.  Prince Fatty and co. stoked up a joyous house-party atmosphere with reggae-fied versions of Wu Tang Clan and Cypress Hill crowd-pleasers with the result that for much of the evening if you looked around you couldn't spot a single person who wasn't bobbing and grinning; ain't no parking on the dancefloor when Prince Fatty's on the mic!  It was Hollie's voice, though, which stole the show.  With an eruption of corkscrew curls, a sparkle in her eyes and her blouse tied up at the front, she looked for all the world like one of those sassy girls who always got the better of the teachers on Grange Hill in the early-80s.  Her music, too, was informed by the past.  I know next to nothing about reggae but I do know that Phyllis Dillon cut some of the best records I've ever heard and, from what I've read online, Hollie is a fan and it shows.  Songs like "Shadow Kissing" and "Sugar Water (Look At My Face)" which sound sublime as streamed mp3s became all conquering when blasted through a mammoth sound system; serious bass pressure!  Having only attended 2 reggae-type shows before (Rhythm & Sound feat. Tikiman at The Glass House and The Bug at The Art School), I don't have much to compare it with but I do know that last night was one of the enjoyable nights of the year and probably my life.  Thanks for the tip Grace!

* - Hollie is the daughter of former Sex Pistol/frequent Edwyn Collins drummer, Paul Cook.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Little Bits

This is getting ridiculous.  Next I'll be listening to Minipops!  After being knocked out cold recently by Gary and The Hornets' ultra-sensitive (not "wet", J!) version of "Baby, It's You", another song by a troupe of teenage boys from the mid-60s has hit me right between the eyes. "Girl, Give Me Love" by The Little Bits is the exact polar opposite of Gary and co.'s lovelorn girl-pop.  It's full of caveboy screams (check out the way the singer tries to be as gravelly as is humanly possible for a boy whose voice hasn't broken yet - brilliant!) and is about as rudimentary (those pounding, pounding drums!) and delinquent as pop music gets.  You get the impression that The Little Bits would've made off with Gary and The Hornets' lunch money on a regular basis had they been at the same high school.  Somehow, nearly four and a half decades after its release it manages to sound uncommonly feral.  A peek at popsike reveals that an original would set me back a few hundred pounds so I can categorically say that I'll never own a copy and a peek at YouTube reveals that the somewhat dubiously named Les Sexareenos banged out a ferocious cover that is dizzyingly hyper and hence utterly thrilling.  I suspect that their version won't make anywhere near as big a dent in my finances!

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Pastels @ Platform, Glasgow on October 1st

Boss: I've got an opportunity. <boring business details>  It'll mean working next weekend.
Not Unloved: Ah, I'd love to but I'm going to see the greatest group to walk the planet.
Boss (walking off): Ah, I won't ask.
Not Unloved (tailing off): It's The Pas....

Sigh.  Still, that little exchange brought home that it's little over a week till I see the group which has affected my life most significantly once more and that thought cheered-up a fairly dismal week no end.  This year's Eastern Promise - for people of my vintage, the mere mention of this phrase provokes the Pavlovian response of nipping out to a 24 hour shop to buy a Fry's Turkish Delight! - sure features some fine acts in addition to The Pastels.  It'll be a real treat to see To Rococo Rot again after what seems like eons and the Conquering Animal Sound songs I heard on BBC Radio Scotland earlier this year sounded intriguing and promising.  Next weekend can't come soon enough!

(this post was written while listening to "Boardwalkin'" - which sounds better than ever it did!)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Baby, It's You

Bacharach and David's "Baby, It's You" is another of those songs like "I'll Keep It With Mine" and "She Does Everything For Me" which brings out the best in musicians and singers with the result that, to date, I've yet to hear even a semblance of a bad version. Both The Shirelles' and The Beatles' versions are as heartbreaking as you could ever wish for but it's Gary and The Hornets' tear-stained teenage boy version that takes the garlands*.  From that first 'sha la la la', which takes softness to a whole new level, it's uncommonly affecting.  Gary's vocal is stunning: pure, intuitive, nuanced (listen to the final 'suits ya!') and beautifully recorded.  Sure, he sounds a lot like a woman but then so did the Chris Montez when he sang "The More I See You" and "Foolin' Around" and they've always been my favourite songs of his.  There aren't all that many recordings on which I couldn't contemplate changing a single thing but this is emphatically one of them: the harpischords (?), the reverb, the backing vocals; all are perfect - strange to think that a group of soft boys made what in essence is now my favourite girl-group record..

The fact that I've heard of Gary and The Hornets at all is thanks to Teenage Fanclub and their memorable cover with Alex Chilton of the group's "Patti Girl" which came out in the mid-90s on one side of a mailorder-only 7" released by the NME. Apparently, they'd heard it first on a Calvin Johnson mixtape.  Copies of Smash Records' DJ promo of "Baby, It's You" crop up fairly frequently on ebay at around the 10-15 GBP mark for a clean copy (mine was at the lower end) but, really, just about any price would be worth paying to get your hands on such a gorgeous record.  There is a 100% chance that I will play "Baby, It's You" when I clumsily spin some tunes at the Glasgow Popfest in December (more on that nearer the time!).

Update: I can't believe I forgot that Dolly Mixture also did a wonderful version. It's not quite as moving as Gary and The Hornets' but it's certainly as cute!  Thanks A for the reminder.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wax Idols "All Too Human"

Wax Idols' debut single has been kicking around for a wee while now but just landed chez Not Unloved.  I should have picked it up sooner but when I needed to hear its no-nonsense beat and shimmering guitars before now it was easy enough just to head to Soundcloud and stream it there.  Thinking back, there haven't been many more exhilarating singles this summer than "All Too Human".  It stares you right in the eyes before deciding it doesn't need you and swaggering off without you a little over 3 minutes later.  Hozac unearths a lot of groups but its their female-voiced groups like Wax Idols and The Shrapnelles that I find the most interesting.  I guess some of their male groups are just a little too greasy and boorish for my tastes.

Wax Idols 'All Too Human' by HOZAC RECORDS

(get it from SoftPowerVinyl)

Sandhy & Mandhy

Oops, I broke my promise to myself repeatedly this weekend. Still, promising yourself that you won't spend too much money on music when there's stuff as good as Sandhy & Mandhy's "Para Castukis" reissue (Lion Productions) was a pretty wrong-headed thing to do.  It was yet another tip from the reliably astute Monorail crew (cheers Russell!) and marks Not Unloved's first foray into the world of Argentinian psych. By and large it's a soft-ish affair with acoustic guitars and lots of pretty organ lines which at times almost venture into perky Perez 'Prez' Prado territory, especially on "La Chica Sola y Triste".  Of course, this being from the late 60s, a few tracks get mussed-up by prominent fuzz guitar.  "Lluvia" has a particularly scrambled guitar break that would probably have been unbearable had it been recorded half a decade later but isn't thanks to it sounding small enough to fit inside a matchbox.  In places "Para Castukis" is as unthreateningly barking as John Ylvisaker's religious-psych masterwork/oddity "Cool Livin'", a record with which it shares the odd keyboard sound.  The original 13 track album is augmented by a few covers the most charming of which is a slightly awkward take on "As Tears Go By" that starts off as unbombastic and moving as 3rd album The Velvet Underground or The Modern Lovers of "Hospital". Also included are both sides of a single made under the name La Maquina de Musica.  All in all, a totally fascinating release which feels like it'll stand up well to repeated plays.  It's worth taking a few minutes to read what the label says about it here.

Read full review of Para Castukis - Sandhy & Mandhy on ©

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Hey, Mr Postman

Last night Davy Henderson and his The Sexual Objects (enhanced by Gareth Sager) backed The Postman (a.k.a. Vic Godard) at The Old Hairdressers in Glasgow.  It wasn't perfect - no stage, Fisher Price P.A. which at times rendered the singers barely audible - but was, nonetheless, hugely enjoyable.  Liberated by not having to strap on a guitar, Vic was free to be more animated than I've ever seen him.  At times his back was arched way back like a cobra waiting to strike as he wailed into the mic which he cupped in his hands for maximum amplification.  "Chain Smoking" was blistering as was  "Nobody's Scared".  "Parallel Lines" was tinkered with somewhat which robbed it slightly of its punch but, still, I'd rather be listening to it in any form (well, maybe not happy hardcore or cod reggae versions!) than just about anything else.  After C's comment at Edinburgh's The Citrus Club in March, I've taken to singing 'school children' instead of 'stool pigeon' and so it was last night.  Vic's between song asides (including a ringing endorsement of, er, BetFred!) were funny.  As S pointed out, as good as the show was, it should have been better promoted and at a venue where more people could see the action.  Maybe gigs should operate a school photo policy of tall ones to the back.  Thinking back, I'm pretty sure my ample frame and large head prevented a good few folks from seeing Vic and co..  If so, sorry!

The Sexual Objects' set was enjoyably chaotic and centre-pieced by a rambling instrumental that swiped a riff from Captain Beefheart and twisted it into various shapes.  Russell Burn's drumming was noticeably brilliant throughout.  Before them, a woolly hatted Jock Scot tipsily performed his poetry, hilariously baited the Glasgow audience and delivered an assortment of waggish asides until he was unceremoniously shoulder-charged from the 'stage' by former British Sea Power manager Rob Wilkinson who was hellbent on reading more of his new book.  Talk about an ill-judged interruption; a total buzzkill that lost him much of the good will earned earlier by the mildly amusing stories of his 87 year old, Butthole Surfers obsessed dad.

Residents from Edinburgh are advised that Vic, The Sexual Objects etc. appear tonight at Unbound at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Step to it!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Return to Wimp Scuzz: Try-Angle "Writing on the Wall"

A recent dip into the second hand cd racks of Monorail yielded a copy of "Gravel Vol. 2" (Kumquat May Recording Inc.)..  It's one of the strongest collections of garage mayhem/loser fuzz/downer jangle I've come across with Try-Angle's aching "Writing on the Wall" being the most instantly lovable of its 30 tracks.  This is largely due to the singer's fabulous, almost 1980s indiepop voice and its lilting jangle but it is also because it has thee most quintessential wimp scuzz chorus I've encountered yet:    

"You don't love me no more
 (no, no, no, no)
 And I can tell for sure
 (can tell for sure)
 You're gonna cause more misery" .

One boy's teenage letdown never sounded so good!

Update! : The prodigiously talented and ultra-suave Paul Messis recently blogged about "Writing on the Wall", too.  The Transparent Radiation looks like a great blog with writing on The Springfields (Sarah Records), Sonic Boom's Spectrum, Sun Ra etc..

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Correction: The Caretaker

In my previous posting I somewhat rashly claimed:

"I haven't been so excited by a record that could be considered ambient since I first heard Grouper's "Way Their Crept""

In retrospect, this isn't strictly true.  The last ambient record that got me all steamed-up was actually The Caretaker's "Persistent Repetition of Phrases" (History Always Favours The Winners) which I plundered for cheaps from the winter sale earlier this year.  It's a wonderfully evocative, spooky record which takes Sabres of Paradise's "Haunted Dancehall" and transports it from the West Indies to Manchester, in the process converting it into more of a haunted tea-dance hall where damp, discarded dancecards litter the floor and the rain pours in through holes in the roof.  Each of the 9 tracks is liberally dusted with reverb, static and antique surface noise which lends them a lonely air which is deeply moving.  Any one of them would be suitable for the soundtrack of a psychological horror.

Monday, 22 August 2011


Motion Sickness of Time Travel's "Luminaries and Synastry" (Digitalis) just wasn't the right record.  I had been looking for something relaxing to listen to in the bath, something that wouldn't get me all over-excited or in full-on evangelising mode and although "Luminaries..." is soothing, it's such an exceptionally pretty record that as it unfolded I got ever more wild-eyed and excited and all chances of zoning out for half an hour among the bubbles were gone.  At times, probably due to Rachel Evans' in-the-next-postcode vocals that only just carry on the breeze, it has the distant glide of the most abstract passages of Northern Picture Library's wonderful and misunderstood "Alaska" album.  In that respect it also recalls Slowdive's dazzling "Pygmalion"; another record which was largely ignored and unjustly derided on release.  I haven't been so excited by a record that could be considered ambient since I first heard Grouper's "Way Their Crept" and the fact that afterwards I was mad keen on lining up and listening to everything I own by Wolfgang Voigt's seminal Gas project is something to thank M.S.o.T.T. for.  "Luminaries and Synastry" also sports the best album sleeve I've seen so far in 2011 (just look at's so romantic!) so it's a winner all round.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

19th August, 2011: The Wildhouse

The Wildhouse play on Friday, 19th at Dexter's in Dundee.  If you're anywhere within striking distance, you should make a point of being there as you'll be rewarded with top quality noise (<-- the emphasis being on this word) pop.  According to their Facebook page, The Wildhouse are on first so best wolf down your dinner and get there early.  In fact, take extra sandwiches to work so that you don't even have to go home for tea!

* - chances are that they won't be playing 'Palatine'...the plums!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Maxines

A recent peek inside the Anorak Forum sparked a trip to myspace to sample The Maxines and, wouldn't ya know it, they're another of those ace rusty guitar/shouty voice combos that K Records has a knack of finding and nurturing.  You can trust Calvin Johnson when it comes to this type of music; it's in his DNA. "Hang Around" has the dismissive sneer of The Runaways while "White Out!" marries a few gloriously dumb words to a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion guitar line and if "Drugstore" doesn't have you sprinting for yr Huggy Bear and Slampt records then you'd better check your pulse.  It's only right and proper that The Maxines are on K.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Not that Caravelles!

Even by 60s garage standards the intro to The Caravelles' "Lovin' Just My Style" delivers quite a wallop to the ears.  It must've driven the teens of Phoenix, Arizona out of their minds whenever it came on the radio and it's just as well the group built some breathers into it or they would've expired after its 3 minutes and 17 seconds!  With lines like "Give me your mitts girl and we'll go tripping together" you know The Caravelles were not the kind of boys to take back home to yr folks (unlike their namesakes!).  An impression that is only enhanced by the, ahem, off-colour subject matter of the b-side!  "Lovin'..." featured on Pebbles, Volume 8 and was reissued on 7" about a decade ago by Dionysus.  I just snagged a copy of the reissue so the residents of Glasgow might want to take a trip doon the watter or at the very least wear  industrial strength ear-defenders for the next few days...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Sunny Day Blue

"Your love illuminates my world with sunlight"

Getting to sleep is going to be tricky tonight thanks to the bout of giddiness brought on by securing a mint copy of this little ray of sunshine pop.  I became more than a little obsessed with 'Sunny Day Blue' a few weeks back after hearing the above clip, my interest in Fargo having been piqued by the coincidence of seeing a picture of their lp in two musically astute friends' online photo albums on the same day.  To these ears it's as good as anything committed to vinyl by Curt Boettcher or any of his contemporaries*. I adore its little diamante guitars and its air of complete wholesomeness. I'm willing to lay serious money on the fact that just listening to it is making me healthier not only mentally but physically; like it's helping me produce some much needed vitamin D.  Big thanks are due to T and K for unwittingly pointing me in Fargo's direction!

* That I've heard, that is.