Tuesday 27 November 2012

Southern Comfort "Silver and Gold"

Time for some great buzzing Paisley pop!

Yet more essential, non-standard (no drums! no bass!) pop music from Australia, this time from Circle Pit's Angie Bermuda and Harriet Hudson.  "Silver and Gold" should be lovingly embraced by admirers of both Dum Dum Girls' downer harmonies and The Garbage and The Flowers' scorched tape arc-welding of the Velvets to Sonic Youth.  Unfortunately, Black Petal only had 265 copies pressed so it seems destined to be another of those 45s that appears on mailorder lists briefly and then just vanishes.  For instance, it went 'out of stock' almost instantaneously when Volcanic Tongue listed it.  There's an almost complete - it's also available in the UK via Infinte Limits - list of stockists on the Black Petal website.  Now to turn the stereo up to indecent and give Circle Pit's rollicking Siltbreeze lp a long overdue spin!

Monday 26 November 2012


To Not Unloved, April March is best remembered for her extra cute take on Chantal Goya's extra sweet "Mon Ange Gardien" released on magnificent 10" vinyl on Bertrand Burglat's extra suave Tricatel label in the late 90s.  Around the same time, however, she supplied extra bratty vocals to Bassholes' extra crunchy version of E.S.G.'s hovering new wave classic "Moody" (on Long Gone John's Sympathy For The Record Industry).  As is so often the case, however, I was totally unaware of this fact.  I really must pay better attention.  Thanks to the twin titans of YouTube and ebay I now not only know of its existence but have a copy although I got nowhere near the same thrill sending a few pounds via PayPal to an anonymous seller as I did when chancing upon that Chris Stamey 7" in the "70s Oddities" section of Wax Factor.

Update: I've just noticed that among the lyrics to "Moody" are the words 'emerald', 'sapphire' and 'gold' - the e, s and g of the group's name.  How could I not have noticed that in the decade or more since I bought that amazing Soul Jazz E.S.G. compilation?  I really must pay better attention!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Violet Woods "Raw Love"

On a recent work trip to Cambridge I asked my musically inclined colleagues the usual question, "Are there any good groups from round here that I should be listening to?".  Without exception, they all answered with an emphatic "No".  A few weeks on, however, and thanks to The Great Pop Supplement, I now know that they were all wrong as Violet Woods' debut 7" is a thing of easy beauty.  Both "Raw Love" and its flip "Cyanide Suns" are small screen psychedelic pop wonders that lack any of the self-conscious seriousness and overbearing heaviness that mars so many modern pysch records.  Both sides have the lovely looseness of Former Bullies but also the succinct jangliness of The See See.  Amazingly, both sides also feature guitar solos that can be enjoyed and not merely endured.  "Raw Love" is bound to find a spot in Not Unloved's top 10 singles of the year.  Love it!

Glaswegians: Monorail still has some copies - get on it!

Chris Stamey "The Summer Sun"

Ten days ago in Brighton I had one of those giddy moments that makes seeking out the record shop(s) in whichever town or city you visit totally worth all the effort.  A recent tweet from @Team Slumber (aka Mike Schulman of Slumberland Records) reminded* me of Chris Stamey's sublime, Alex Chilton produced, "The Summer Sun".  As it was released in 1977 on a label I'd never heard of (Ork Records), it wasn't the kind of record I thought I'd ever stumble upon, but stumble upon it, I did - in the bulging racks of Wax Factor.  It felt like some divine being had hidden it there just for me to find!  It was such a great surprise that I actually felt a tingle of adrenalin in my hands as I picked it up and took it to the counter.  Being a condition extremist, I quizzed the shop assistant about its condition and nearly had an attack of the vapours when he said that it was Mint but that I could give it a spin on the shop deck to check.  Mint it most definitely was.  The next time I play records in public it'll get an airing and as Chris Stamey's sings about the summer sun, I'll be daydreaming of walking back in the winter sun to my Brighton hotel with a smile on my face and a diamond in my bag.  Long live record shops!

* - 'Reminded' because the ever astute Did Not Chart wrote about it on his previous blog fireescapetalking.  I read the posting and resolved to hear it but, like a proper chump, promptly forgot to.  From the comments, I see that it's Harvey Williams' favourite record.  Smart man!

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Heaven Bound

Gaylord Fields' on stage introductions to the various acts at Saturday's Chickfactor show were smashing.  In fact, he was a warm, funny and endearingly enthusiastic presence throughout the weekend and his sunshine pop selections upstairs in The Lexington on Sunday were real heart-swellers.  The only one which I plucked up the courage to ask him about turned out to be by Heaven Bound - a 1971 group who recorded songs by Roger Nichols and Neil Young amongst others.  Happily, their records can be bought for sums which don't have you living on beans till payday; £1.49 + p&p was all it took to secure a 45 of "He'd Rather Have The Rain":

If ever a song was destined to be enjoyed by Duglas T Stewart, it's this one!  It would make a terriffic BMX Bandits b-side, I reckon.

Something's Gone

Recently, when it looked like redundancy might be a very real prospect, I did the immature, counter-intuitive thing and went on a bit of a trolley dash, snapping up a bunch of records that I figured I wouldn't be able to afford if I lost my job.  I knew at the time that it was probably a bit silly and that the smart thing would be to look after my money but, I guess, we all deal with uncertainty in different ways.  One of the (many - whoops!) 7"s I bought was an (allegedly) unplayed copy of this Seymour Stein produced masterwork from 1968:

"Something's Gone" was new to me when I heard it play over the closing credits of Paul Kelly's "Take Three Girls" nearly a year ago but its melody lived on way beyond the curtains closing in the cinema and I'd frequently catch myself singing it in the car or on lunchtime walks so finding a nice copy felt imperative.  It came, therefore, as a sweet and moving surprise to hear The Pastels quoting its plaintive "Something's gone from my heart" refrain in "Over My Shoulder", which closed their immensely beautiful Chickfactor: For The Love Of Pop set at London's Bush Hall on Saturday.  Special moments like that, the blistering, beercan slide enhanced rendition of "Baby Honey" and hearing a new song (yes!) - its title has gone already in a haze of return-to-work blues - sure justified the trip down from Glasgow .  Their new album is pencilled in for March, 2013.  If that thought doesn't see you through the winter, I fear nothing will.

Update: horsemeatpie's cool photo of The Pastels' setlist reveals that the new song was called "Come To The Dance".  Sweet.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

XXOO "How Will I Know"

Jad Fair earned a place in my affections courtesy of his two dazzling collaborations with The Pastels.  Singing the entirety of "This Could Be The Night" loudly in my best approximation of Jad's voice was for years one of the simplest, most satisfying pleasures in my life.  By the early 90s Jad and his group Half Japanese had already amassed a sizeable catalogue of releases so I bought a few but suspected that I'd never have either the money or the opportunity to own too many more.  The good thing about only having bits and pieces is that there's still plenty of wonderful Jad records left to discover.  For example, I recently stumbled across "How Will I Know" by XXOO  (1982, Press Records) which, it turned out, was a pseudonym for Half Japanese.  It's quickly become one of my favourite of Jad's releases.  It has some of the most brilliantly naive lyrics about love:

"How will I know when I'm really in love?
 Will I hear bells rings?
 Will my heart pound hard?"

They really belong on, say, a pre-Beatles Shelley Fabares 45 but when put with a stumbling backing that is pure early K Records tape, the result is completely charming.

I love the way it winds down like a clockwork toy running out of energy.  I plan to play the copy that arrived today lots.  I don't know if XXOO meant kiss kiss hug hug in 1982 but the next time Jad comes to Glasgow, that's what he'll get as a thank you for this single.


Peach Kelli Pop's debut lp sounded like an attempt to express musically the sensation of scoffing a whole bag of Tooty Frooties and then swigging a load of cheap cherryade.  Unfortunately, Not Unloved was too tardy to the party to secure a copy of it on vinyl.  Hopefully, that won't happen with lp number 2 which seems to be imminent.  "Dreamphone", the first track to reach these ears from it, is as pinky blue as anyone could wish for:

 Giddiness and glockenspiels abound!  It's the perfect antidote to the adult world; take at least twice daily.

Monday 12 November 2012

Radio song.

It's no doubt a function of a) my advancing years, b) my listening to more football than music radio (see d), c) the passing of John Peel and d) non-digital music radio (i.e. other than BBC6 Music) in the UK feeling like a bit of a wilderness that means that I rarely get to experience that once common feeling of hearing a song on the radio and being so smitten with it that I feel compelled to lose my dignity and enthuse about it to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be within wailing distance.  It was a sweet surprise, therefore, when this Melody's Echo Chamber song was played on BBC Radio Scotland earlier this evening:

From the number of YouTube views, it's not the new thing but I'm ok with that. I don't need to be first, I just need to fall in love.  Although it sounds nothing like Strawberry Switchblade's shining "Since Yesterday", it provoked in me the same desire; the desire to spin.  Which is great, I guess, because you're not worrying about the world when you're spinning.  "I Follow You" features one of the loosest, most soulful guitar solos of recent times.  That it sounds like it's been scratched-out like a photographic negative towards the end only serves to make me love it all the more.  A nice reminder, therefore, of when 'radio friendly' was a good thing.  A reminder, too, that having other people choose what you listen to for a while can enrich your life.

The Aislers Set in Glasgow! (19/11/2012)

Way back when fanzines seemed like the only way to express just how much you loved a group's music, I wrote that if The Aislers Set ever came to Glasgow, I would arrange a ticker-tape parade in Amy Linton's honour.  Of course, that was the hollow rhetoric of a boy with a deep love of Amy's previous group Henry's Dress who never expected it to actually happen.  When, miraculously - or so it seemed at the time! - The Aislers Set showed up in Glasgow, first with Stevie Jackson at Nice'n'Sleazy and then with The Tall Boy at The Woodside Social, I was there each time, grinning like I'd just had my teeth whitened and was mad keen to show them off.  I didn't, however, throw a ticker-tape parade for Amy.  To tell the truth, I've always felt a bit of a fake for not doing so - I hate it when, as is so often the case, my words aren't backed up by actions.  Luckily, I've got another chance to arrange a ticker-tape parade as, in a remarkable turn of events - I'd thought the group to be defunct! - Amy and co. are about to hit Glasgow once more:

Surely gig poster of the year so far!  It looks set to be another of those unmissable Mono evenings that warm you to your very core and fortify you for the days and weeks ahead.  Revisiting The Aislers Set's music since it was announced that they would be coming to the UK has been one of the purest joys of recent months and, as expected, it transpires that I still love Amy's music with every part of my heart.

Full details of the show can be read here.