Monday 30 July 2012

Redd Kross

On Saturday, after a frankly ridiculous 20 years, thanks to the good Strange Vice folks' presentation at The Old Hairdressers, I finally saw the film with one of the best theme songs ever: Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.  As it turned out, Redd Kross's "Ballad of a Lovedoll" was by some distance the most accomplished and memorable thing about the film.  In exactly 2 minutes it manages to fit in some deliciously trashy dialogue ("Thanks for killing my mom. Hey, no problem"), blazing guitars, a super-infectious "luuuuvedolls" refrain, "Be My Baby" drums and an exuberant key change whereas the film's 59 minutes are filled with nothing but arch, deliberately poor acting and sub Valley of the Dolls moves.

Fizzier than a Wham Bar/Space Dust smoothie!  That was the Redd Kross of 1984 but if "Dracula's Daughters"* from their new lp for Merge, "Researching The Blues, is any guide, the Redd Kross of 2012 is still capable of crafting big, heart-swelling, melodic guitar pop.  If you're looking for me in the next half hour, I'll be sampling the rest of the lp to see if there's anything equally brilliant.

* - Hear it and rest of "Researching..." for the next wee while here.

Sunday 15 July 2012

I Wanna Be Free

Despite owning and loving both Swell Maps lps and Munster's exquisite box of 5 7"s, you didn't need an abacus to count the number of solo records by the group's former members I'd heard. Then, yesterday, The Pastels tweeted a link to this piano piece by Epic Soundtracks. It was exactly as they said: "Heartbreakingly beautiful late night music".  Given the wonderful, propulsive scrappiness of a lot of Swell Maps' songs, it came as a bit of a surprise and got me digging around, keen to learn more, which led to hearing this (on which Soundtracks drums) for the first time:

I'll always gravitate towards sweet-voiced songs and if they also have that Velvet Underground chug and happen to be a version of one of the The Monkees' prettiest songs, I'm gonna be trebly sold.  Totally magical.  I can imagine that Dean & Britta might have done something similar with that song.

Saturday 14 July 2012

No. 1839 (The Mynah Birds)

Although, Record Store Day 2012 was grand fun, it was a little frustrating as I didn't actually get (or even see!) the 3 records from the list of exclusives that I wanted most. They were:

I would rather have given my pennies for a copy of "It's My Time" to a local record shop but since that wasn't possible I did the ebay dance. Co-produced for Motown in 1966 by R Dean Taylor (of "There's A Ghost In My House Fame"), it's a Stones-y folk rock smash that has a great feel largely due to the contrast between Rick "James" Mathews' strained Jagger-like vocal and the sweet, sweet backing vocals. It's mystifying that a tune of this quality managed to languish unreleased in a record company vault for nearly 5 decades, especially as it features Neil Young on guitar. Since I first head it, a favourite daydream of mine has been that one day those connoisseurs of classic pop/rock, Ric Menck and Paul Chastain, would cover it in the breezy, sunshine-saturated style of their Choo Choo Train and The Springfields incarnations.

Right. Time to find (affordable) copies of the Gene Clark singles, I reckon.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Indietracks 2012

(Originally posted on, hence the marginally less chatty style and less effusive language than usual - I don't think I'm cut out for tripadvisor style reviews!)

From the second it was announced that Slumberland Records would be selecting the acts for the outdoor stage at Indietracks, I was certain to attend. When it was subsequently announced that Rose Melberg would be playing both solo and with her group Go Sailor, I started counting the days in earnest. Across one evening and two full days in weather that thankfully didn’t come near to the apocalyptic forecasts, Indietracks 2012 was a procession of great POP moments from groups of all vintages. Of the newcomers, September Girls and The Hobbes Fanclub shone brightest. The former kicked out a cheekier, more Girls In The Garage aware take on The Bang(le)s’ early sound while the latter lifted spirits with pure hearted songs and an evident love for the dynamics of those perfect, immediately pre-Creation My Bloody Valentine records. Of the clutch of reconvened groups from the late 80s, 14 Iced Bears were the biggest revelation, tossing out a string of their most loved songs as if unaware that more than two decades had passed since their release. “Balloon Song” and “Come Get Me” fizzed with vitality, "Cut" and “Dust Remains” were luminous while “Hold On” and set closer “World I Love” went off like rockets; just wonderful. Their contemporaries, The Vaselines, closed the festival in a gleeful hail of trashy pop interspersed with even trashier talk. Belle and Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson on guitar blazed - equally adept when laying down the key disco pop riff on their distillation of Divine’s “You Think You’re A Man” or when re-working the violin part of “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” as a Flying Burrito Brothers-style country rock guitar line. Several groups from the current Slumberland Records roster showed just why the label has survived into its third decade: San Francisco’s Sea Lions’ mix of K Records style punk rock – drummer Roman sure hits hard - with southern hemisphere jangling (think Flying Nun’s best acts and The Go-Betweens) was a real crowd pleaser, Girls Names’ seductive pop-doom was lapped-up and Evans The Death’s rosy cheeked boys and dangerous looking girls slammed down a series of reminders of just how potent the pairing of a strong, unique voice with abrasive guitars can be. Veronica Falls were next level; their new songs sounding every bit as good as those already committed to vinyl. What of the aforementioned Rose Melberg? Her unspeakably tender, incomparably beautiful Sunday evening set in the Railwaymen’s Chapel (see photo, above) was something to treasure. For many, it was the musical highlight of the weekend and led to a fair few cheeks being moistened by tears. Go Sailor, too, were every bit as charming and lovable as their records suggested and the image of two thirds of The Hobbes Fanclub joyously dancing in the mud during their performance is one that’ll make me smile over the coming months. All in all, it was a brilliant festival. One that was made all the more enjoyable by the crisp, accurate sound, thoughtful scheduling (amazingly, the groups kept to their allotted time slots), excellent catering and indispensable festival guide booklet. As ever, The Midland Railway Centre was the ideal setting and its staff and associated volunteers went cheerfully about their business. After that, 2013 has a lot to live up to.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Summer Girlfriends "Shockwaves"

"Shockwaves" would've been a National Pop League smash. I can feel it in my bones. I can feel it in the way that it fires little pulses of guitar sonar into your left ear as the lead guitar trickles iridescent droplets of  pure sound into your right ear.  I can feel it in the way that it has just the right fidelity for Woodside Social success - not too polished, not too mussed-up - in much the same way that The Organ's "Memorize The City" had.  I can feel it in the faintest echo of Debbie Harry in the vocal.  I can feel it in the kazoo, for goodness sake!  Sometimes I miss being knee deep at the NPL.

The route "Shockwaves" took to my ears was:

Addenda Records > Mike Turner > Collapse Board > Twitter

Thursday 5 July 2012

Keel Her "Enid Coleslaw"

Sometimes the great stuff is right under your nose and you just don't realise it.  The always ahead-of-the-race Did Not Chart posted about Keel Her a few weeks ago and I read and listened.  Only I didn't listen enough.  If I had, I would've heard the maddeningly brilliant "Enid Coleslaw" before now.  It was only when Sea Pinks included it on their astute little half hour mix for Tom Ravenscroft on BBC6 Music that I really sat up and took notice of Keel Her. Or, more accurately, nearly choked on my Halls Soother (cherry) and drowned in the bath and took notice of Keel Her.  Singing "You're living in a ghost world" in an airy  manner reminiscent of Lush's Miki Berenyi was always going to endear Rose Keeler-Sch√§ffeler to Not Unloved but playing the perfect guitar solo with almost perceptible tongue poking out in concentration could only ever result in heart-flipped true love.  "Enid Coleslaw" was nonchalantly tucked away at track 5 of 6 on the "Emmanuel e.p." cassette/download.  I'm glad Sea Pinks were paying attention.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Rebel Girl

Once, I saw Jonathan Richman referred to in an article as "the quietest punk". On the basis of her 1971 hit "Soy Rebelde" (I'm A Rebel), Jeanette could just be the quietest rebel:

Just look at the sincerity in her eyes! In a head crowded with all manner of noisy music, "Soy Rebelde" somehow manages to nudge its way to the front and has thus provided the soundtrack to many a trudge through the rain-sodden streets of Glasgow. I guess it's the child-like (if Wikipedia is correct, she was around 20 at the time) purity of Jeanette's voice and the simplicity of the melody that make it the ideal earworm. I'm glad she recorded it in 1971 when there was much less over-singing in mainstream pop music. It wouldn't have been half as adorable with all the barnacles that encrust so many of the vocals on the songs I turn off the radio nowadays.

The most unexpected reissue of 2012?

In an unexpected move, Spain's Munster Records has sneaked out a new 7" issue of the first of Edinburgh's garage legends The Green Telescope's two singles from the garage revival of the mid-80s, "Two By Two".  It's a single I've lost out on a couple of times in ebay auctions in recent years so it'll be great to finally have it on vinyl. Hopefully copies will actually show up soon in Scottish 7" racks!  By coincidence, I just bought this brooding toe-tapper by the group that sprung from the ashes of The Green Telescope, The Thanes:

All hail Lenny Helsing!

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Sea Lions / Golden Grrrls / Aggi Doom at Mono, Glasgow

What a bill! Were I still a teenage popkid, the names Sea Lions, Golden Grrrls and Aggi Doom would surely be scrawled extravagantly on the anaglypta covering this year's school jotters so the line-up for next Wednesday's (11th, July) gig at Mono couldn't come with a stronger endorsement from me. Sea Lions' righteously jangling debut lp on Slumberland occupied one of the top slots in Not Unloved's best of 2011 list and both Golden Grrrls and Aggi Doom have had the thumbs up on this blog in the past. If you can't be in Glasgow to dig the new breed, maybe one of Sea Lions/Golden Grrrls' other dates will suit yr needs:


BUFFALO BAR, 11 Windsor Place, CF10 3BY
Doors 7pm.

Swanick Junction, Midland Railway Butterfly, Derbyshire DE5 3QZ.

THE CASTLE HOTEL 66 Oldham Street M4 1LE

HEAD OF STEAM, The Cluny, Tilley’s Bar.
Doors 7:30 with GIRLS AFRAID

WHARF CHAMBERS, 23 Wharf Street, LS2 7EQ

POWER LUNCHES, 446 Kingsland Road, E8 4AE
Doors: 8pm with OMI PALONE (TBC)

The Manchester show, in particular, looks amazing - Former Bullies!

>> Sample the Sea Lions / Golden Grrrls tour 7" here.

PS Aggi Doom play a tour fundraiser (they're hoping to tour with Palms) the following Saturday (14th, July) - details here

Monday 2 July 2012

The Sandy Coast "Subject Of My Thoughts"

Nearly a year ago The Higher State's Edinburgh show provided ample evidence that they could craft a heart-tugging melody and that they knew their way around a catchy downer jangle.  Recently on Facebook they've been sharing some Dutch beat gems that give an insight into the music that makes their Chelsea boots tap in unison and unsurprisingly there's been some wonderfully sombre jangle to enjoy.  To Not Unloved's ears, the best track they've posted thus far is by The Sandy Coast:

Time to bookmark The Higher State's page, I'd say!