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.