Monday 27 June 2011

To The Power of Two

Two very different shows at two wildly differing volumes by two couldn't-be-more-different duos on successive Saturdays will live long in the memory.  First, Tenniscoats played acoustically and unamplified under the watchful dragon heads at the Garnethill Multicultural Centre.  It was naive, playful and - excuse the hippy word - pure.

(thanks to @geomck for the footage!)

Then, Chris and Cosey rolled up at The Tramway and delivered a set of hard electro that was dark and pounding (the track below doesn't truly reflect just how pounding) but totally compelling.

Tenniscoats, I had expected to enjoy but seeing Chris and Cosey was a punt which came up trumps.  Which is just as well as I had been all set in fake Mod Lambretta shirt and cheap sky blue Harrington from Dee's of Trongate to get on the goodfoot at The Glasgow Mod Weekender.  It would therefore have been a double downer had C & C been a letdown.  It's interesting to look back on the emotions I felt after each show.  Following Tenniscoats I felt a sort of love for the world, all positive and uncomplicated; their personalities and music had helped to consign the downsides and petty slights of the working week to history, at least for a while.  After Chris and Cosey, however, I felt elated. Elated, but aware that the negatives had, this time, been pummeled into the past through sheer volume and intensity.  I'm not the sort to live for the weekend but if I were, both shows would've proved worth the anticipation.  I wonder what next Saturday will bring...

Saturday 18 June 2011

Club nights

Reading the recent Quietus article about Divine has precipitated another small bout of historical jealousy.  To be honest, I never really realised, despite living in the west of Scotland all my days, what an institution it was. I somehow never really twigged when it was on and, I guess, never felt part of it.  Given my time again, I'd probably be a regular at the Vic Bar and would no doubt have discovered a load of the good stuff earlier but I wasn't and I didn't.  That article got me wistfully pondering over which club nights meant the most to me and without doubt the first Friday Street in the fairly dingy pre-refurbishment basement of Blackfriars was the best club night I've ever attended.  I went on my own in my new red and white gingham Ben Sherman button-down (buttoned right up, of course - didn't want to show too much Daz white flesh!), black Levi's and a single breasted grey sports jacket (4 buttons, 3 on each cuff).  As I walked in a stranger said, "You look like a young Andrew Loog Oldham".  I wasn't quite sure if that was meant as a compliment as I'd never really seen a picture of the chap.  Still, I smiled back and got a Diet Coke and sat down at an unoccupied table.  Early in the evening the music was just incredible.  It was like the DJ had a Dansette stacked with the 50 best female-voiced Northern Soul records I'd ever heard.  As the place filled up the dancefloor got ever busier. It was pretty exhilarating.  Maybe a third of the way through the evening, a chap in a green bomber jacket approached me saying that he was from the Mad Monks Scooter Club and that if I was on my own I could join them.  Of course, I was way too shy to and politely declined his kind offer.  I guess the word 'Mad' in the name of his scooter club scared me more than a little.  As the evening progressed, however, he came over and asked me once more to join them and I felt that it would be rude to turn him down again so I went over and sat with them.  Everyone was so friendly and so passionate about scootering, Mods and Northern Soul.  I got bombarded with questions as they sized me up:

Mad Monks: What's your favourite Kinks record?
Brogues: Er...I don't know. I don't own any.
Mad Monks: Do you like The Small Faces?
Brogues: Only the odd tune here and there and I kinda hate all that "Lazy Sunday Awftahnoon-ah" stuff.
Mad Monks: You must like The Who, then.  What's your favourite Who album?
Brogues: Um...not sure...I don't think I've heard any.

By this time the guy who'd invited me to join them was a little nonplussed so asked why I was at Friday Street.  When I told him that I'd wanted to hear Northern Soul and that I'd never been to soul/ Mod night before he and the rest of the Mad Monks took on the role of educators and I was deluged with advice on what records to buy and what nights/events to attend next.  It transpired later that a bunch of them were into Sarah Records and The Field Mice, in particular.  When he heard us talking about The Field Mice, one burly former steelworker even started quizzing me about "The Waaaaah cd".  I certainly wasn't expecting that! They dug The Pastels and The Jesus and Mary Chain, too, so there was plenty common ground.  As they and the rest of the clientele got tipsier, the dancing got wilder, the jokes got funnier and the night climaxed with old and young - Monks included - atop tables, arms aloft singing along to The Small Faces.  It was completely glorious. I couldn't help comparing it to the unsatisfying indie nights that I'd recently attended at which nobody smiled at you never mind spoke to you.  As the lights came up I was invited to scooter bashes and rideouts and get-togethers that I knew I was too bashful and, frankly, too square to ever attend but it was just nice to be asked.  The Mad Monks' enthusiasm was genuinely moving and more than a little like that of evangelical missionaries seeking new converts.  Over the years I've been to a fair few Friday Street evenings at its various city centre venues and have always had a champion time. I still feel like an outsider as I'm not the sort to join a club and adopt a way of life, but I never feel uncomfortable and, if I'm on my own, somebody always reaches out.  From what I gather, by coincidence, the last Divine at the Vic Bar the other week also ended on The Small Faces.   Part of me wishes I'd gone to that but a larger part of me is glad that I didn't as, well, it would've been akin to going to a football Cup final when your team gets there without having attended that 2nd round tie in Brechin on the dank second Saturday in January.

Here's the song I associate most with Friday Street having heard it there first.  If it's played late enough in the evening, you can guarantee folks'll be frugging wildly whilst windmilling like Pete Townshend to it!  It always comes back to The Who...

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Sterling Roswell presents...

Not Unloved is completely enamoured of Psychedelic SRB's recent "Kicks Interplanetary Spaceliner" 7" (self-released via Sterling Roswell International Recordings) on which former Spacemen 3 explorer Sterling Roswell sings in lovely hushed tones reminiscent of Bobby Gillespie.  As expected, it's a spacey tune but it's not one which batters you over the head with its cosmic pretensions.  It's not all about blasting off into space, either.  There are no big musical explosions.  Rather, as the title suggests, it's pretty, purposeful music for the light years spent travelling between planets at a future time when space travel has become as commonplace as taking the bus is now.  There are so many things to love on this record especially the bits on which Roswell duets tenderly with Linnea Svensson and the guitars which unfold their neat melodies without fuss.  If you're smart, you'll pop a proton pill and grab this single before it's gone!

Sunday 12 June 2011

"Hey!!" by Barbara Mercer

It was pathetic, really.  I'd lost out in yet another ebay auction (I make that 3 times this year) for a reissue of the modern soul record I want most so, like a spoilt kid hellbent on getting a new toy and who won't take no for an answer, I looked for something, anything else that would satisfy my need for a soul record right there and then and this is what I bought:

Just listen to that voice!  Have you ever heard anything softer in your whole time on this earth?  I'm not sure I have!  Burg'n'Beans' production is classy and refined but has just the right amount of sway to banish the inertia from your feet.  I'm pretty sure I'll be "walking round on a cloud" when the postman slides it through my letterbox later this week.  As with The Petticoats 7" (see yesterday's post), it's the kind of record you want to put next to your bed so that it's the first thing you see when you prise open your leaden eyes of a morning; a reminder of the good stuff in this (golden) world.

Saturday 11 June 2011

The Petticoats "Normal"

The sarcastic two fingers up to settling for a life of domesticity of The Petticoats"Normal" was one of many highlights of Stewart and Jen from Boyracer's killer "Kitchen Sounds #1" podcast in July 2008.  With it being from 1980, however, I figured that an original 7" would be tricky to track down so didn't try to and over time kinda forgot about it.  Then, a few weeks ago whilst rummaging about on Group Tightener's site*, I spied that Fungi Girls had also included it on their rather fine mix.  After a bit of internet diddling (it's a compulsion!) I'd turned up a relatively pricey N(ear)M(int) ebay copy and Stef Petticoat's discography page on which, crucially, the entry for "Normal" wasn't followed by the words 'no longer available'.  One email, a week and some exemplary packaging (much appreciated, Stef!) later and I had a perfect copy spinning on my turntable.  Hurrah!  It's a real buzz to hear those clanking guitars and Stef's refusenik vocals turned way up loud and, since I don't currently have any more Petticoats records to play, I'll be spending the next wee while in the company of The Nixe, Kleenex and Lung Leg.  Magic!

{get in touch with Stef here to bag yr very own copy to cherish!}

* - I was keen on getting their Twerps 7" but 18.50 USD for one 7" kinda prices me outta the game unless it's the best thing since "Baby Honey"...

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Girls Names "Dead To Me"

My chemistry teacher once told me that "Procrastination is the thief of time".  20 years on and it would appear that diddling on the internet has replaced procrastination as the thief of my time.  That pesky internet has stolen so much time of late that a shameful number of records and cds have been suffocating in their shrinkwrap instead of breathing on my hi-fi.  One such cd was Girls Names' debut.  After their rollicking set at Commercial Alternative last year, I was hotly anticipating the release of "Dead To Me" (Slumberland Records / Tough Love) so it's a bit odd that it suffered such a fate.  Anyway, it finally got a few spins last night while I was reading The Observer from 2 Sundays ago which I didn't read at the time because I was get the picture.  Girls Names' earlier eps and their ace split with Brilliant Colors suggested that a full length would sound like this and it's a relief that it actually does.  Which is to say that I'm glad that, unlike some of their peers, they didn't feel the need to get too polished too soon.  Most tracks sound like they were made by a gang of kids sent wild on hearing Crystal Stilts, Joy Division and the grumbling, rumbling music of the Estrus Records / Dick Dale axis of surf (as opposed to the harmony spangled surf of The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean).  So, a record to nourish those with a love of the sparkier side of guitar pop.  It's at its sparkiest on songs like "I Lose"  (previously aired on the aforementioned Brilliant Colors split) on which the guitar rattles like the chrome fittings on an aged school bus battering along a pothole riddled road circa 1975.  At last Friday's Ducktails show D suggested that it sounded as if I loved just about every record out at the moment.  Of course that's not true.  What is true is that recently there have been a number of records such as the aforementioned Crystal Stilts' latest, Amor de Dias's debut, the new Comet Gain record,  etc. that haven't disappointed so I feel compelled to evangelise (ok, chunter on at length to anyone who'll listen!) about them.

The Pastels on Domino Radio!

The Pastels present "Thomson Colour" this Sunday (12th June) at 9:30am (British Summertime) for Domino Radio.  Sounds like a lovely thing to wake up to on Sunday morning, doesn't it?  Poor Andrew Marr'll be gutted that his viewing figures'll be taking a dive this week, though.

Update Monday 13/06: The show was, as expected, wonderful and is now archived here.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Return to Wimp Scuzz: "I Cried" by The Chains

Tender vocals, an admirably non-macho willingness to admit to crying and a super-expressive guitar line make The Chains' "I Cried" a particularly touching example of 1960s wimp scuzz.  Remarkably, it wasn't released at the time but, for those of us not fortunate enough to have been kicking around the high schools and dancehalls of McKeesport, PA in 1964, Get Hip Records pressed it up at some point (April 2011-ish?) on 7" vinyl. When The Man sees fit to pay me next, I'll buy me a copy, for sure!