Sunday, 30 September 2018

Breathers "Did You Think"

Lately, the song that has popped up like a cheesy-grinned meerkat whenever my brain has the time to idle is "Did You Think" by Breathers. It's the only song I've heard so far by this Florida, USA group and it's a smashing example of early '80s US power pop (yeah, I know yr bored of that genre definition but it gets the message across) from its Beatles-indebted intro to its sunbleached guitars and supremely catchy melody. I'm sure I'll be singing (and clapping) along for a good while yet.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Not Unloved presents: Real Numbers / Vital Idles / US Highball @ The 13th Note (31/08)

Not Unloved presents a soiree of boss POP! sounds featuring:

Real Numbers (Minneapolis, USA/Slumberland Records) bring their DIY spirit and pristine jangling guitars to Glasgow for the first time. Their Wordless Wonder lp was released through Slumberland Records; if they're good enough for Slumberland, that's recommendation enough for us. Television Personalities/C86 fans: be there!

Vital Idles (Glasgow, Upset! The Rhythm) are longtime crushes of Not Unloved and brilliantly inaugurated our label at the very end of 2016 (more on what's next for the label very soon!). They just released their ace debut lp, Left Hand, on label of the moment Upset! The Rhythm: 14 urgent blasts of art!pop! joy. Hell, yeah!

US Highball (Glasgow) are Calvin and James formerly of The Pooches and the best band Captured Tracks never signed, Water Wolves. This will be just their second gig. Expect melodies you’ll sing for days!

Doors: 8pm
Entry fee: £5 (all pop fans welcome - nobody turned away for lack of funds)
The Facebook event is here

Monday, 4 June 2018

Sunday 22nd July 2018: The Sarah Records roadshow hits Glasgow!

I've written before about how much Sarah Records meant and continues to mean to me so it's with a heart swollen with pride that I can announce that Not Unloved will be helping make the Glasgow leg of the Sarah Records alumni tour a reality. At one stage it looked likely that the tour wouldn't be stopping-off in Glasgow which was a real shame as there were so many strong connections between Glasgow and Sarah Records (The Wake! The Orchids! The Golden Dawn! Tramway!). The tour has been timed to coincide with Emotional Response's invaluable and admirably lavish Sarah Records vinyl reissues and the line-up is top-drawer:

The customary Facebook event is here
Advance tickets can be purchased via Brown Paper Tickets here

N.B. The Old Hairdressers has a capacity of ~100 so the number of tickets is pretty limited.

Even As We Speak: A rare chance to catch Sydney, Australia's pop geniuses. Not content to fit in with any janglepop orthodoxy, they've incorporated influences as diverse as country and Philly soul. 2017's 'The Black Forest' e.p. was a real joy. It's great to have them back.

Action Painting!: By marrying frenetic guitars with heartfelt lyrics sung with real feeling and a few nods to The Jasmine Minks and Buzzcocks along the way, AP! crafted some of the most vital music released on Sarah. Sure to be a blast live! 

Boyracer: Boyracer took any perceived notion of a single 'Sarah sound' and exploded it in a mess of passion and joyful guitar noise. Their post-Sarah output is a vast thing of wonder! 

Secret Shine: With lashings of guitars through banks of effects pedals, Secret Shine always whipped up a considerable sonic squall. But there were lovely melodies, too. Again, their impressive post-Sarah records should be sought out immediately.

In addition to the live music we're chuffed to have DJ selections from The Wake. The Wake's wondrous records grace the catalogues of some of the finest independent labels ever: Factory, Captured Tracks, LTM and, of course, Sarah. Expect to hear The Fall!

Please tell your pop-loving friends and, if you can, come along. After all, there's very little likelihood of most of these bands playing in Glasgow ever again!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

2 new post-punk purchases

Every now and then YouTube's algorithm is so on-the-money that I have to begrudgingly admit that big business sometimes gets it right. A couple of years ago the name Disturbed Furniture showed-up on that site's 'Up Next' sidebar. From the first few seconds of "Information" I knew that I was destined to become obsessed with it. Just listen to those ridiculously fast funk guitars and that insistent, spongy bassline not to mention the strident vocal. The Rapture and the rest of their punk/funk ilk in the early 2000s would've made a pact with the devil to sound this brilliant. If discogs is to be believed, the group only made one single but lead guitarist Phil Shoenfelt went on to release an e.p. for Mark E Smith's Cog Sinister label before releasing records on Paperhouse (The Pastels, Teenage Fanclub, Half Japanese etc.). A few unplayed copies came up for sale recently. They'd been used in an exhibition of punk art at the MoMA in New York. There may be some left - check ebay.

Ski Patrol's "Everything Is Temporary" was comparatively cheap and looked interesting so I took a punt on it. It's a beguiling mix of angry lyrics, dub vocal effects and clanging guitars that at times achieve real momentum. There's a lovely bit around 2 minutes in where the bass goes for a wee wander. Turn up the bass and listen, indeed.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Thee Lakesiders

Not Unloved was, as is so often the case, slow on the uptake when it came to the classy soul/pop output of Big Crown Records. It was only when Lady Wray released her majestic "Queen Soul" lp in 2016 that it became unavoidable. Since then, of course, The Shacks have soundtracked an iPhone ad and released an ace debut lp (not to mention a run of wonderful 7"s, especially this charming li'l dancer), Paul & The Tall Trees released the sparse, brooding "I Explained It All" and Sunny & The Sunliners releases became mainstays of soul sections in the classier independent record shops. The quality of Big Crown's releases shows no sign of dropping-off any time soon if the debut 7" by Thee Lakesiders is any guide. Their name may hint at 60s garage orthodoxy - 'thee' is usually a giveaway, ain't it? - but "Parachute", the b-side of their debut single, is far more subtle and nuanced than that. A recumbent, floating affair with a sublime vocal and an undulating rhythm, it is tailor made for soundtracking warm summer evenings spent contemplating. The top side, "Si Me Faltaras Tu" is a far peppier affair. Sung in Spanish (duh!), it zips along in the verses before the multi-tracked vocals of the chorus crank things up a notch. Grindhouse film-makers need look no further for their next house band.

Big Crown, it would appear, are also releasing the debut lp by Bobby Oroza in 'late 2018'. In the meantime, they've had the good sense to reissue Bobby's stunning "This Love" single that got Not Unloved hot under the collar in May, 2017. A mandatory purchase for those who missed it first time round!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Clay Hips

Recently, Annika Records shared a couple of videos heralding the imminent arrival of the debut Clay Hips album. Dating back to his time in The Fairways (thanks to Kris from Record Turnover for the hint all those years ago!), Not Unloved has carried a torch for the work of Kenji Kitahama. His disarmingly gentle voice never fails to move and his way with a soothing, winsome melody is a rare gift. The vinyl is pretty darned limited - 300: 150 copies on grey vinyl (which have sold out) and 150 more on black vinyl - so if the videos below charm your soul, spark up yr PayPal and head here to order before the rest of the world cottons on.

While Kenji is in my thoughts, it's worth remembering that his group with Swede Erik Hanspers, The Young Tradition, combined the adorable sparkle of prime Choo Choo Train with the heart-swelling brass of Love to create one of thee all time great pop moments that, had it been released on vinyl, would have been one of the finest 45s in the history of that medium (a bold claim, but undeniably true!):

Friday, 1st June 2018 in Glasgow

As the years advance, I've become less and less able to make decisions. For example, choosing which record(s) to buy on any given visit to a record shop (or website, for that matter) has become increasingly difficult. The same applies to gigs. In Glasgow, there are often a couple of options to choose from on any given night and I struggle to decide which one to go to right up to doors open time. Given this, choosing what to go to on Friday, 1st June 2018 will be pretty tricky. I mean, just how does a self-confessed ditherer with my musical loves choose between the following?

The Pastels + Modern Studies + Andrew Wasylyk @ The Mackintosh Church
The Shacks @ Broadcast
The Scientists @ Nice'n'Sleazy
Vital Idles (album launch!) + Irma Vep + Current Affairs + Order of the Toad @ Mono

Each of these shows will be special and on any normal evening would be my gig of choice. The Pastels are my favourite group ever so I've seen them many times before (though not enough for my liking!) and they're playing in a beautiful, non-standard venue. That's the obvious choice. The Shacks, however, are fabulous and I've never seen them before thanks to their gig with Khruangbin at the CCA earlier this year having sold out before I was even aware it was happening. It's at Broadcast, mind you, which is not the best venue in town. The Scientists, of course, are garage legends and, being Australian, are far less likely to roll through town again anytime soon. I suspect they'll be a riot in downstairs in Sleazy's, too. Ah, but Vital Idles have a truly special place in Not Unloved's heart and their Mono show is the launch party for their debut lp (out via the smart kids at Upset The Rhythm). They've assembled a great lineup, too. Argh! In terms of dilemmas, it's a nice one to have but it'll take some sorting. If I were deciding purely on the posters, The Pastels show would surely win out as Annabel Wright has created this gorgeous piece of art for it:

P.S. How fab is the latest Vital Idles song and video?

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Camellia Hartman & The Soulful Saints "Return The Favor" (Dala)

Rejoice! Camellia Hartman and The Soulful Saints are back with a soulful stroller to caress away our cares. "Return The Favor" is another classy, nuanced affair with enough 60s sunshine pop embellishments to warm the heart. The lyrics are endearingly sweet e.g.

"Hold me nearer
Kiss me sweeter
I'll be sure to return the favor
Love me tender
Always remember
That I'll be sure to return the favor"

For now, "Return The Favor" is available only as a download but there's talk of it being paired with Camellia's certified smash from 2017, "Breathin' Hard Over You", on a 7" in the near(ish?) future. Just sit back and watch the soul DJs and Shacks fans elbowing each other outta the way to snap up a copy!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Jerry Naylor "City Lights" (Kent)

One of the down sides of labels such as Kent using generic sleeves for their releases (or, more accurately, their various series of releases) is that middle-aged dumplings such as Not Unloved can forget which ones they already have when rifling through the 7"s at their local record shop. Thankfully, the lovely staff at Monorail Music ensured that Jerry Naylor's effervescent "City Lights" reissue didn't pass me by as would have been the case had I been left to my own devices. It's irresistibly upbeat with a great production (trumpets!, strings! etc.). If anything can lift the gloom of spring, 2018, "City Lights" can. It came as something of a surprise to learn that Naylor was one of Buddy Holly's backing group, The Crickets.

Kent have paired "City Lights" with Johnny Praye's strident"Can't Get Too Much Love". Another winner, it  had Not Unloved (unwisely) dusting off the old falsetto to sing along with the backing vocals - not pretty!

Monday, 2 April 2018

still buying 7"s

It may not be the most cost-effective way of consuming new music in 2018 but the 7" is still Not Unloved's preferred format and there really are some ace 45s around at the moment. New Zealanders The Shifting Sands released a mighty fine lp on Fishrider a few years back but their new single is even better. "Zoe" - also through Fishrider - is all languid jangles and recumbent twangs that waft from 1967 on a warm psychedelic breeze. What elevates "Zoe" above majority of the stoned psych-outs around at the moment are its heart and its emotional content. Essential.

Polytechnic Youth is a fine label even if it does have a slightly manic release schedule which means that keeping up with its output is nigh on impossible unless you've got the disposable income of Elon Musk. From the recent batch of three 7"s, The Detox Twins 45 is the one that tugged at Not Unloved's purse strings the most. It's a prime slab of what those with The Knowledge called Dark Wave or Minimal Wave but which sounds to me like 80s Goth. It'll sound ideal blasting out in dingy basements in Berlin.

Sergeants Mess recently unleashed their meaty second single, "Well That's Another Fine Mess" (Spinout Nuggets) in February. "Couldn't I Be Yours" is a pitch perfect explosion of mid-60s British Mod that thunders along (thanks in no small part to Wolf Howard who has drummed for many a Billy Childish group) obliterating everything stupid enough to get in its way. If it doesn't pack dancefloors at Mod nights the world over I' to my MP. You best believe it!

Keeping with the Mod theme, Crocodile Records' latest transmission is ANDRÉ M's cool-struttin' "Kenzy's Choice". It's a pleasingly concise Hammond-led instrumental which stomps along like a bunch of shady gangsters on their way to smash up an East End pub. Anyone who has ever happily tapped their loafers to Kent's tremendous Mod Jazz series of lps should seek it out immediately!

> Samples of both sides are here
> Get it here

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Hipshakes "Shot" (Nerve Centre)

Sub-two minute blasts of punkin' garage pop are ten a penny these days. There's so much of it around that it's tempting to look elsewhere for kicks (there's a lot of fine electronic music around at the moment, that's for sure) to save spending what seems like an eternity sifting out the lumps. One 7" that made a dent recently was the latest 45 by The Hipshakes. Pleasingly, it's unafflicted by that rodeo announcer vocal effect that the lesser groups of their ilk use to disguise the lack of a melody or any discernible vocal ability. "Shot" breezes along perkily and in the past would've had the kids down the youth club pogoing merrily. Great backing vocal swells and a lovably wonky guitar solo that disappears as quickly as it appeared enhance the air of uncomplicated fun.

The Yearning "Do You Remember?"

The Yearning is a group who could have been designed by focus group to appeal to Not Unloved's sensibilities. Take "Do You Remember" from their latest 10" for Elefant, its catchiness is undeniable, its production as classy as anything around just now and Maddie Dobie's voice is as beautiful a sound as I've heard in 2018. It wouldn't sound out of place on the soundtrack to any number of Nouvelle Vague movies. I worry that they'll slip under the radar and not get the acclaim they deserve. Here's hoping the new 10" succeeds in finding the right ears. Now, where did I put all those elegant looking and sounding Siesta CDs I bought in the '90s?