Wednesday 20 June 2012


Guitar Wolf's arrival in Glasgow a few weeks ago would appear to have precipitated a bit of a Japanese punk binge for Not Unloved.  The trio's show at Mono was a truly punishing affair with waves of eardrum scouring distortion lashing the audience from the megalithic PA with scant regard for the harm it could cause.  It was, of course, brilliant.  Sure, I didn't go home humming any of their tunes (were there any? - Next Big Thing doesn't think so!) but I did go home exhilarated, my heart beating faster. I guess with Guitar Wolf, as with a lot of other Japanese noise acts, it's the extremeness and the physical attack of the sound which counts, not the melody. Seeing Guitar Wolf, Masonna, Keiji Haino / Fushitsusha etc. is a bit like going to a firework display in that you start out excited just to be there, whoop a bit at all the little bangs and then a MASSIVE bang happens and afterwards all the quieter fireworks that were previously fun no longer seem as exciting; all you crave is the MASSIVE bang.

Watching Guitar Wolf videos on YouTube to whip myself into a frenzy before their show, I rediscovered Teengenerate .  They were one of the exotic bands for sale in the Rhythm catalogue in mid-90s.  I remember chuckling at the listing for the 7" they shared with a band called Bum.  Happy, innocent days.  Listening to their roaring "Smash Hits" compilation on the mighty Estrus label is always a thrill.  As with Guitar Wolf, the more distorted and furious they get, the better they are.  Their ram-raiding cover of Mark Hollis's pre-Talk Talk group The Reaction's "Talk Talk Talk Talk" ups the ante on the original and makes vast swathes of the more recent garage punk groups sound a bit tepid.

Sure they're a whole lot more pop than Guitar Wolf and Teengenerate but Shonen Knife are still inhabited by the punk spirit - they did record a whole album of Ramones covers after all! - and their new album for Damnably is a bouncy, melodic joy. After the first couple of plays it feels like one of their best.  The title track "Pop Tune" takes catchy to hitherto unimagined levels:

"Psychedelic Life", Not Unloved's current favourite from the album, is an endearing stomp through hippie cliches (incense, peppermint tea, meditation etc.) with added recorder solo that comes off like a schoolgirl's take on a Shocking Blue single.  They're doing a UK tour in October and there's no way Not Unloved  won't be at the Glasgow leg of it at Oran Mor on the 5th.  Not after year's blasting appearance at Nice'n'Sleazy.

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