Friday 26 December 2014


"I just take my time
 I don't need to rush
 I feel good about
 Being good to you"

One of the most elegantly languid tunes to appear in my life of late has been "Paints" by Glasgow's  horrendously named Le Thug.  'Appear' because I didn't seek it out - it was on a free cd-r given to those who attended The Green Door Studio's 7th anniversary wingding at The Poetry Club last weekend.  If "Paints" is any guide, Le Thug aren't the pistol-toting, gold toothed gangsta rap crew their name would suggest but a gauzier, dronier version of the divine One Dove.  Clio Alexandra MacLellan has the most heavenly voice.  It carries the melody of the chorus like cherry blossom on a warm breeze.

From the looks of things, "Paints" used to be on the group's bandcamp page but isn't anymore so I can't share it here.  Hopefully, however, if this picture on Song By Toad Records' tumblr site is any guide, it'll be released on vinyl at some point soon (see track 4):

Right now I'm regretting the fact that I wasn't aware of Le Thug sooner as they played The Old Hairdressers on December the 2nd.  It would've been great to swoon and sway to "Paints" particularly as I was on holiday that week.  A missed opportunity.  Fortunately, the Christmas holidays will afford the time to become familiar with the songs posted on Le Thug's Soundcloud page.  Here's hoping that there's something possessing even a tiny fraction of the finesse of "Paints".

Wednesday 24 December 2014

It's Holiday Season!

Marva Holiday season, that is.  In October The Quietus ran former Boo Radleys fellow Martin Carr's Baker's Dozen.  One of his choices was Marva's irresistible mover"It's Written All Over My Face":

It's such a joyous piece of music with lots of little euphoric builds that sweep you along and before you know it your feet are moving and your hands are clapping.  It was originally released on GNP Crescendo of Hollywood, USA.  The only other records I have on that label are by Sky Saxon's keyboard riddled garage troupe The Seeds; you have to admire the breadth of some 60s labels!  Helpfully, a couple of years ago it was included on Kent Records' cd "The Cleethorpes Northern Soul Weekender 1993-2012 20 Soulful Celebrations".  The other Marva Holiday 7" to have found its way into my record box is a split with The Magicians as part of the aforementioned Kent's Select series.

"Rising Higher" is a brilliantly brassy blast of accessible pop soul with some great Impressions-style male backing vocals:

Like "It's Written All Over My Face", it was penned by the multi-talented Mirwood Motown staffer Sherlie Matthews whose place in my heart was assured the instant I heard and flipped for The Belles' "Don't Pretend".  "Rising Higher" was included with a host of other treats on the "Kent 30: Best Of Kent Northern 1982-2012" cd.  The entire staff at Kent Records really should be getting recognised in the upcoming Queen's New Year Honours List shouldn't they?  Sir Ady Croasdell would look great on the 6Ts flyers!

Sunday 21 December 2014

Records of the year for Monorail Music (and a few more!)

Once again Monorail Music asked a bunch of their regular customers for their top 10 lps, their top 2 singles/tracks and their top 2 reissues.  As ever, reviewing the year's purchases was a whole heap of haphazard (my memory isn't what it used to be!) fun.


1. Comet Gain "Paperback Ghosts" (Fortuna Pop)
2. The Hobbes Fanclub "Up At Lagrange" (Shelflife)
3. The Muffs "Whoop Dee Doo" (Burger / Cherry Red)
4. Literature "Chorus" (Slumberland)
5. The Luxembourg Signal "s/t" (Shelflife)
6. Dean Blunt "Black Metal" (Rough Trade)
7. Weed Hounds "s/t" (Katorga Works)
8. Ex Hex "Rips" (Merge)
9. Mad Nanna "In Glasgow" (Golden Lab)
10. The Bug "Angels and Devils" (Ninja Tune)

A combination of going out more than is healthy or, as I like to call it, supporting the vibrant local music scene (ha!) and buying more records than is decent or even manageable meant that there wasn't really a record that took residence on the Not Unloved turntable.  The mp3 version of Comet Gain's record, however, soundtracked many a splash through puddles on the way to and from whichever gig venue was hosting that night's entertainment.  Its bruised romanticism never failed to make me feel.  "Up At Lagrange" is such a pure record.  It's a neat, perfectly realised and beautifully sung collection of heartfelt songs that yielded my favourite lyric of the year:

"I made a collage of our favourite bands
 To say I love you
 I knew you'd understand"

A one hour commute by car and The Muffs' latest album on cd combined to make it my most listened to record of the year.  Kim Shattuck's full-throated scream was one of the most thrilling sounds of 2014 - prime Courtney Love would've struggled to outdo her.  Literature's pristine guitars served their softly sung melodies beautifully in a way that made me ache for the days when the Parasol Mailorder dropped onto the mat stuffed with little label American pop.  Likewise, The Luxembourg Signal sounded timeless but fresh and provided further evidence that Shelflife was having the year of its life.  It's certain that it would have been in higher in my list had I got it earlier, too. "Black Metal" found its way into my consciousness through its clever deployment of a Pastels sample but proved attractive on so many levels.  With each successive listen it earned a bigger place in my heart.  It wouldn't sound out of place in the Les Disques du Crepuscule catalogue.  Weed Hounds were a brilliant tip from the perennially searching Did Not Chart blog.  2 minutes and 30 seconds into the record's opener, "Harbor", I was scrambling, all fingers and thumbs, to login to my Paypal account.  Mary Timony and her Ex Hex bandmates made an irresistibly stomping lp that, along with the aforementioned Muffs record and The Vaselines' "V For Vaselines", proved that you don't need to be a teenager to make fizzing, melodic power pop/punk.  The memory of Mad Nanna's appearance at the much missed Volcanic Tongue shop still makes me smile.  I worried that when Golden Lab released the straight-to-TDK document of that night on vinyl, it might tarnish the memory.  I needn't have worried!  The Bug had the good sense to collaborate with Liz Harris and Warrior Queen.  In truth, I enjoyed Andy Stott's "Faith In Strangers" - especially the sparse, sublime "Violence" - just as much but I could only pick 10 records.

7"s / singles 

1. The Youth "I'll Call Your Bluff" (State)
2. The Luxembourg Signal "Distant Drive" (Shelflife)
3. The Clientele / Birdie "The Third Hangover Lounge Picture Disc" (Hangover Lounge)
4. CRUISING "You Made Me Do That" (Soft Power)
5. Golden Teacher "Love / Party People" (Optimo)
6. Curtis Harding "Keep On Shining" (Anti)
7. Gingerlys "Jumprope" (Shelflife)
8. PANG "Young Professionals" (Grazer)
9. Deers "Demo" (Lucky Number)
10. LAPS feat. Golden Teacher, S Young & D Young "Mojo" (Clan Destine)

"I'll Call Your Bluff" sidesteps accusations of being simply an nth generation retread by having the catchiest guitar line this side of 60s Carnaby Street and an emotional directness that feels entirely honest.


1. Milk'n'Cookies "Not Enough Girls In The World" 7" (Captured Tracks)
2. The Moles "Flashbacks & Dream Sequences" 3*lp (Fire)

Maybe the 7" I played most this calendar year was Milk'n'Cookies kinda wrong/totally great slice of weedy-voiced, Big Star-esque glam pop.  I sang it in the kitchen at work when nobody was listening.  I sang it when I walked home from gigs in the rain.  I sang it at the top of my lungs on many a seemingly endless commute.  By now, a lot of people are scunnered with Record Store Day but this year's will live long in my memory thanks to that 45 and its ludicrously lascivious refrain: "Ten girls, twenty girls, I want more! Forty girls, fifty girls just because there's not enough girls in the world".

Monorail Music's full top 50 list (along with my photo of the Aphex Twin blimp above Mono/Monorail Music - *beam*) can be pored over on their facebook page.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Live music: Hausfrau, Apostille & Pennycress

2014 has been a dazzling year for live music in Glasgow.  A lot of the truly outstanding sets I've witnessed have been by Glasgow-based artists such as party band extraordinaire Golden Teacher, their jazzier chums Whilst (their set supporting ESG at Broadcast was like being run over by a monster truck) and Richard Youngs.  Three acts, however, have tempted me from my couch more often than any others.  If I could have bought a season ticket to their shows, I would have.  They are about as far removed from the legion of plodding, guitar-wielding dullards as is possible and they are:


In the first half of 2014 Claudia Nova's (previously of the brilliant Aggi Doom) Hausfrau played a succession of icily atmospheric shows that peaked with an untouchable performance to just a few initiates at Roxy 171 on Great Western Road (the YouTube clip above was filmed that night).  Against sparse backing, Claudia sang the bulk of what would become her first record.  That night's rendition of the title track, 'Night Tides', was one of the unquestionable highlights in a year of phenomenal live music.  Hausfrau's debut cd came out on French label Unknown Pleasures to little fanfare on the day that Scotland voted No to independence from the rest of the United Kingdom; there wasn't even a launch show or party for it which was a real shame.  Glaswegians can buy 'Night Tides' from the upstanding citizens at Monorail Music.

Hausfrau will be appearing at The Poetry Club on the 20th of December as part of The Green Door Studio's 7th birthday celebrations.


Over the past few months it has been thrilling to watch Night School Records boss Michael Kasparis as Apostille ratcheting up the level of his performances to an almost insane level over a succession of increasingly incredible gigs.  Few can match Apostille for sheer commitment and physicality.  Few would even try!  One particularly exhilarating performance in support of Alex Neilson's Death Shanties at The Old Hairdressers saw Kasparis starting seated, determined to do something different, but by the end he was climbing over the wooden chairs screaming in the faces of the faithful.  It was nothing short of breathtaking.  Live, songs like 'Wrong', above, take on a heft and a momentum that impels you to move.  Dark electronic music has seldom sounded less po-faced and more danceable.

Apostille appears at Audio on the 19th December as part of the Status Choke / Broadcast Beach Christmas bash.  Don't miss it!


The name Pennycress (originally just Cress) started appearing at the bottom of bills in the summer.  From their first show in Glasgow School of Art's Vic Bar it was clear, however, that they had both ferocity and texture in equal measure.  Since then they've blasted their way through a number of show-stealing sets to the point where they really should be the main draw.  Theirs is a tight, cohesive take on Olympia, Washington riot grrrl/hardcore.  Fired-up teenagers the world over should be tearing down whatever posters they have on their walls to make way for their Pennycress clippings.  Fingers crossed they can capture their spark when recording.  If they can, their records will be  uncompromising treats.

Pennycress play tonight (Thursday, 4th December) at The 13th Note.  Quick!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Sari and The Shalimars "It's So Lonely (Being Together)"

"It's so lonely being together
 Knowing in our hearts
 We're two worlds apart"

Sigh. So many of us have experienced the oxymoron of the title/chorus.  The great thing about so much up tempo 60s soul music, of course, is that it gives you a cheery melody to sing while you're sweating out your woes on the dancefloor:

By Northern Soul standards, copies that aren't too battle-scarred can be snapped-up for buttons.  About a tenner for a song with such a pleasingly punchy arrangement, a heart-swelling key change and lashings of great backing vocals doesn't sound like the worst value for money to me.  

Sunday 2 November 2014

Moon City Boys "Rockets"

Stockholm's Moon City Boys do a nice line in late-70s New York-style lip curling.  Their debut 7", "Rockets"is the first Swedish guitar pop record I've loved for a wee while (probably since Alpaca Sports released this) and has me wistfully looking back on the days when The Legends, The Radio Dept., Nixon etc. released dizzying records at a rate that decimated bank balances in no time flat.  

As is the way of things in 2014, only 250 copies of "Rockets" have been pressed-up so if primal beats and song structures that don't adhere to any verse-chorus-verse orthodoxy are your thing, better jump to it!

Saturday 25 October 2014

The Deverons "She Is My Life"

"She Is My Life" by Winnipeg, Canada's The Deverons is one of the most endearingly romantic wimp-garage singles of the 60s.  Derek Blake's lyrics are pure tongue-tied, love-struck teen:

"When she's with me my knees feel weak
 When she's near me I cannot speak"
 She has my heart
 She has my soul
 Eveyone knows she has me"

The killer keyboard break expresses beautifully the protagonist's rush of boyish adrenalin at the mere sight of the object of his love.  Not many singles are perfect but, for me, this is one of the few.  It is the most instantly lovable track on "Turn To Stone 2 - Long Lost Sixties Garage USA" (Astray Records).  I got mine from Cornucopia Records - a pop-up shop in the basement of Offshore on Gibson Street, Glasgow.  Unfortunately, tomorrow is the last day it's open but the smitten can buy it from their website.

(As ever, original 45s are pricey.)

Friday 24 October 2014

The Black Emeralds - Bed Bug/The Keeper

This 7" dropped into my lap via the established method of scrolling through an online seller's items with YouTube on standby like an eager to please shop assistant.  Reggae isn't one of the musical forms I've made even a token effort to keep up with purely because I can't even manage to keep up with the goings on in all the other spheres of music I love, but if reggae as beautiful as this is being made in 2014, I may have to start.  (Sorry Bank Manager!)  Both songs are credited to J (Jason) Bonner and make clear that he has a great ear for a melody.  There's a neatness in the languid arrangements and a crispness in the recordings that makes them incredibly easy on the ear and the rinky dink little keyboard line on "The Keeper" has been the soothing hold music in my head for days now.  Jandisc have themselves a real winner.  Time, I think, to see if they have any more.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Tommy Rodgers "I'll Tell It To The Wind"

Ebay itself must have laughed when I speculatively bid 15.25 GBP (note that extra 25p just in case somebody was stoopid enough to bid 15 quid on the nose!) for a near mint copy of Tommy Rodgers' incredible "I'll Tell It To The Wind" as it usually fetches something in the region of 200 quid.  I crossed my fingers all day that nobody else had noticed it.  As if that was ever going to happen in 2014!  Now this it's at 63 quid I've stopped looking.  At least I can still blast it on repeat via good ole dependable YouTube:

There's something about the way Tommys sings "There's something about you that makes me weak" that makes me weak.  That little fragment of melody is the hook that elevates it above hundreds of other similar songs, for me.  Tonight I'll no doubt dream that I 'won' the auction and wake up a little deflated that I didn't.  Human brains are cruel like that.

Update: The seller pocketed 88 GBP for the 7" - a long way short of the 200+ of previous sales.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

We Should Thank The Lord

Many of the songs I fantasize about owning on original 7" vinyl have come into my life via Soul Jazz compilations.  Without doubt the one I would love to own most is the bubblegum (that keyboard is pure bubblegum) devotional "We Should Thank The Lord" by The Lovers Of God* from "Soul Gospel Volume 2"

The unfathomable beauty and purity of the lead vocal, especially early on when it's at its sweetest (is it a different singer on the latter part of the song?), never fails to send me spinning  then evangelising about to it to anyone who'll hear me out; not that I can ever conjure up the right superlatives to do it justice, mind you.

Friday 17 October 2014

The Mor Paranoids "Circular" (WIAIWYA)

In the annual stramash of Record Store Day some great records get elbowed out of the way in favour of the skiploads of deluxe reissues and major label product; record shops just can't stock everything from the exclusives list, I guess.  I suspect that this year "Circular" by The Mor Paranoids may have been one of them which is a damned shame as it's a fabulous collection of Alternative TV/Swell Maps informed rattlers that exist in the glorious intersection of Black Time's blasting garage and The Yummy Fur's cheeky but intelligent post-punk (actually, that description sounds a lot like The Action Time - must revisit their records this weekend!).  If I still compiled tapes for chums, the thumping "Security Guard"  would have been on every one made since mid-April, 2014.  It starts innocently enough but pretty soon proceedings get raucous then wonky before ascending into chaos:

It's a suitably thrilling way to close the record and I'm willing to bet serious money that Guided Missile wish they'd put it out on 7".  That said, The Mor Paranoids' cover of the aforementioned Swell Maps"International Rescue" is also a real contender:

"Circular" was released in an edition of 100 copies on the best format yet devised by mankind: 10" vinyl. According to the Where It's Is Where You Are (they've had a great year, haven't they?) bandcamp page there are only 15 copies left - nudge, nudge.  There's no way on earth that "Circular" won't make my 2014 Top 10.

(Big thanks to Paul E for buying "Circular" on my behalf after none of the local record shops stocked it.)

Thursday 16 October 2014

The Debutantes "Adam's Apple"

"Adam's Apple" by pre-September Girls group The Debutantes turns eardrum vibrations into pure adrenalin.  If a more dizzying slice of fuzz scorch has been unleashed in 2014 I've not heard it. It's in the same class as Henry's Dress at their smoking best or the Emily's Sassy Lime of the unbeatable "Pineapple Boys Need Not Apply"Soft Power Records has built up a real head of steam in 2014 with a slew of great releases.  There aren't many copies of The Debutantes tape left so if you're craving a jag of unflinching POP! noise (those backing vocals are some of the most perfect POP! moments of the year) then you'd best get on it now!

Looks like the ever dependable Norman Records still has some copies.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

City Yelps

A couple of weekends ago Leeds group City Yelps inaugurated the 7th Annual Nottingham Pop Alldayer at The Maze and they were utterly glorious.  Within minutes I was sold on their sparky fusion of the inspirational 70s pop of the Swell Maps/Modern Lovers with Parquet Courts-style 2000s DIY.  A poster above the merch table advertising their self-released “Cheap Psych” tape – only 3 quid! - proudly boasted of “10 Songs, 2 Chords”. Only a fool would resist.  Across a remarkably consistent set of songs there's a cascade of instantly lovable guitar lines, vocals caked in rodeo announcer Tannoy reverb and a raft of drums battered with glee (see opener, “Psych On The Cheap”).  The final song, “Veterinary Centre”, is maybe my favourite of the bunch; a great live cut with the winning feel of a VU Quine tape, its ominous intro suggesting something cataclysmic to follow:

City Yelps' submission for the Odd Box Singles Club (Vol. 2 #4) was released in August and is also well worth firing up Paypal for.

The Phrogs "Baby, I'm Gone"

"Baby I'm Gone" by Southend's The Phrogs is an appealing patchwork of a bunch of  things I hold dear: Its intro has the brilliant choppiness of The Eyes' "I'm Rowed Out", there's more than a whiff of 13th Floor Elevators in the melody and the keyboard will have you reaching for those rollicking early 7"s by The Chesterfield Kings.  If you add to all that some pleasingly fried harmonica and dangerously frenetic drumming you have a solid slab of garage that will have winkle pickers and Chelsea boots the world over tapping in time.

It dates from a decade or so ago but will be released on the eminently portable 45 format through Crocodile Records of Manchester later this month. DJs in search new of a new beat belter take note!  

A video for it * was shot at Channel 4's studios (!).  

* WARNING: contains footage of a guitarist in a vest. 

Sunday 14 September 2014

Curtis Harding "Keep On Shining"

10 minutes ago I'd never heard of Curtis Harding but then I visited the Burger Records website just, you know, to see what they're up to - I'm nosey like that - and spotted that Iggy Pop had given a 'shout-out' to the label.  That shout-out came after he'd played a Curtis Harding track on his BBC6 Music radio show in July and what a startlingly good track it is:

Easily the best Iggy tip since he alerted me to the wondrous Lift To The Scaffold by choosing it as one of the films for his Fantasy Multiplex on Radio 1. I've not felt so aflame with excitement about a new soul act since Did Not Chart first posted about Myron & E.  If that intro doesn't hook you then, well, I despair!  Well done to Burger for not sticking to one sound and going where their ears and heart lead them.  I, for one, never expected to hear them release anything remotely like this; Timmion yes, Daptone yes, Burger no.  I may be a bit skint at the moment but that won't stop me buying Curtis's lp the very second it hits the shelves of Glasgow's record shops.  (Please let it hit the shelves of Glasgow's record shops!)

Saturday 6 September 2014

"I'm Just Trying"

20 years ago I figured that it was high time I bought an Easybeats record.  After I'd played it, however, I puffed out my cheeks. a bit underwhelmed. and decided that they were nothing special.  As time's gone on, though, I've come to realise that I was way too hasty in writing them off.  Today has seen this classy slice of soul-pop from the "Son of Easyfever" e.p. (Raven Records, 1980) get play after play:

I swear I forgot myself and danced embarrassingly as it spun on the turntable in Mixed Up Records.  Whoops!  One for the 'playing out' box, I reckon.

Sunday 31 August 2014

The Up Tights

Jazzman says: "Two previously-unreleased killer tunes from the Up Tights". 'Killer' is the right word but 'unreleased' - how can that be? When songs are this good, surely they must have been released before!

Monday 25 August 2014

Volcanic Tongue shop R.I.P.

On each of the last two nights I walked along Argyle St. past the entrance to The Hidden Lane.  Both times I felt a surge of sadness that Volcanic Tongue's shop has now closed its doors for the last time.  The news came on Thursday.  Ten years is a good run for a record shop these days but its closing still gave me a jolt of shock.  I went there for the final time last Saturday to (finally - sorry!) pick up the Smoke Jaguar cd-rs that they have aside for me but it was closed so it now feels as if I have unfinished business; that I didn't get to say goodbye.  Happily, the mailorder continues and will no doubt grow stronger now that some of the funds required to run a bricks and mortar shop will be available to buy more stock.  Volcanic Tongue was always more than a record shop.  It was a cultural institution and a focal point for Glaswegian music obsessives with open minds.  I always felt proud that it was based here and the city was most definitely enriched by having it.   It also provided a reason for bands to come to Glasgow and a welcoming space in which they could play.  The in-store events that I attended birthed some of my most cherished memories of the last few years.  Undoubtedly, the Mad Nanna show was the highlight but the last show, Chalaque / Smoke Jaguar / Des McKenna, was a complete and utter blast that still has me smiling whenever I think of it.  Sure I'll miss the browsing and the gigs but above all I'll miss the passion of the shop's proprietors David Keenan and Heather Leigh Murray and their definitive, thought-through and brilliantly-expressed stances on music, films and art and books and their hilarious/scandalous stories (especially the allotment tales!).  Oh, and the recommendations.  They were so on-the-money;  I'll certainly miss them.   Sure, I'll still have the website and the weekly mailout and their inspired descriptions but there's no substitute for someone telling you, all wide-eyed with zeal, why you NEED that Morning and The Sleepy Kids cassette.  Thanks for the memories David and Heather Leigh.  Thanks, too, for putting up with my pathological fear of the bumped corner and mild ringwear.  Oh, and thanks for serving me that time I'd fallen in a gigantic puddle while playing Saturday morning football in Kelvingrove Park and came in caked from head to toe in dry mud looking for all the world like a Terracotta Warrior.  Thanks, above all, for introducing me to Mike Rep, Cheater Slicks, Bassholes and the "pluke spattered teenage wasteland breakdowns"* of Columbus Discount.  I just wish I'd bought more of that stuff from you.  Whenever I BLAST the reissue of this I'll look back on your shop and grin:

Check out the Photo Gallery on Flickr

* - Unquestionably, this Volcanic Tongue description of Cheater Slicks' "Guttural: Live 2010" (Columbus Discount Records CDR-065 LP) is one of the most thrilling pieces of writing about pop music I've ever read:

Fairly amazing and long-time coming live documentation of one of the killingest garage punk primitive rock/roll trios of this or any age, the Cheater Slicks. No one does ugly, pluke spattered teenage wasteland breakdowns with quite as much sass as these three and although evidence of their uniquely greasy live sound has been thin on the ground Columbus Discount have stepped into the fray with the first in a proposed multi-volume series of live jags that catches them in full flight. Cheater Slicks have always been much more than your mere local peddlers of retro kitsch and their reach goes out to everything from classic Texan psych through hunching rockabilly, weepy teenage garage and pre/post Spacemen 3 repeat-riff nirvana. Alla these styles are on display here, with our heroes breaking out some power-crying folk punk in amongst a couple of inspired covers – The Huns “Destination Lonely”, The Modds “Leave My House” – and some great extended bouts of six string savaging. Gimme this and a couple of high ABV US Micros and I’ll never watch a French movie again – that’s a promise! Comes with an insert, recommended!

Wednesday 20 August 2014

An opportunity

Paul Groovy and The Pop Art Experience's "Andy Watch Out!" (Bite Back!) was one of the coolest* singles of the late 80s.  It came to my attention some time in the 2000s when it was the standout track on Topplers Records' "Free See Dee Three" compilation which I claimed (it really was free!) from the counter of Monorail Music.  It took a few years of looking but I eventually managed to get an Ex/Ex copy of the 7" from a German discogs seller.  If I'd waited a bit, however, I could have got an unplayed copy as Paul Groovy himself is selling a 'factory fresh' copy on ebay this week.  I'm guessing he has unearthed a box so if you miss out this week, keep looking as there's sure to be another along soon**.  I took my copy to The Poetry Club last Friday but the right moment to play it never arrived.  Maybe next time.

* - A catchy, clattery DIY 45 recounting the tale of Valerie Solanas's notorious attempt on Andy Warhol's life wrapped in a faux-Warhol sleeve?  Its cool credentials are undeniable!

** - Paul Groovy and The Pop Art Experience's appearance on Cherry Red's deluxe version of C86 has hopefully stoked up some interest in the group so now should be the right to sell 'em!

Saturday 16 August 2014

The Poetry Club setlist (15/08/2014)

Last night was terriffic!  Teenage Fanclub eased through a beautiful set in the loveliest of settings.  The Poetry Club afterwards was fun, too.  Here's what I played:
  1. Sandy Posey - Single Girl (MGM)
  2. Maureen Tucker - Around and Around (Trash / Varulven)
  3. Memphis - You Supply The Roses (Swamplands)
  4. Mystic Eyes - I Can't Wait To Love You (Get Hip)
  5. The Groove Farm - Surfin' Into Your Heart (The Subway Organisation)
  6. Myron & E w/ The Soul Investigators - On Broadway (Timmion)
  7. The Striders - There's A Storm Coming (Columbia)
  8. The Palace Guard - Falling Sugar (Orange Empire)
  9. Comet Gain - You Can Hide Your Love Forever (Fortuna Pop)
  10. Crystal Stilts -Through The Floor (Fortuna Pop)
  11. The Shall-I-Say-Quois - It's So Hard To Be Happy (Damaged Goods)
  12. The Youth - I'll Call Your Bluff (State)*
  13. JJ Barnes - Real Humdinger (Tamla-Motown)
  14. Othello Robertson - So In Luv (Outta Sight)
  15. Bettye Swann - Fall In Love With Me (Money)
  16. Lung Leg - Maid To Minx (Southern)
  17. The Mo-dettes - White Mice (Rough Trade)
  18. The Third Booth - I Need Love (Independence 68)
  19. The Paper Dolls - All The Time In The World (Vogue)
  20. Petula Clark - Fancy Dancin' Man (Vogue)
  21. The Magic Kids - Hey Boy (Goner)
  22. The Chills - Heavenly Pop Hit (Slash / London)
  23. Jackie Wilson - Because Of You (Go Ahead)
  24. The Supremes - Where Did Our Love Go? (Stateside)
  25. The Gentle Touch - Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy (Kapp)
  26. Mamie Lee - I Can Feel Him Slipping Away (MGM)
  27. 1910 Fruitgum Co. - Goody Goody Gumdrops (Buddah)
  28. Noonday Underground - London (Jonathan Whiskey)
  29. The Chesterfields Kings - She Told Me Lies (Mirror)
  30. The Embrooks - Dawn Breaks Through (Circle)
  31. The Motions - The Same Old Song (Havoc)
  32. Kaleidoscope - Jenny Aritchoke (Fontana)
  33. The Style Council - Shout To The Top (Polydor)
  34. James Fountain - Seven Day Lover (Harmless)
  35. Delores Hall - Good Lovin' Man (Keymen)
Thanks for all the dancing, folks!  It was a total blast to hear The Shall-I-Say-Quois' strident mixing of Jacques Dutronc's "Le Responsable" with The Monkees' "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" at head-wrecking volume:

* Thanks to Mole from State Records for the loan of a test pressing of The Youth 7".  You're a gent, sir!

Monday 11 August 2014

Mystic Eyes

London's now defunct Minus Zero Records was a total knee-trembler of a shop when I first went there.  At the time Velvet Crush figured big in my life and they seemed to have countless records by Paul Chastain and Ric Menck's side-projects and previous groups such as The Reverbs, The Nines, The Big Maybe etc. for sale.  Unfortunately, I wasn't in possession of the requisite funds to buy them but it was just exciting to see them (see also the records in the hallowed glass case on the wall of the now also gone Intoxica in its heyday).  One 7" I could afford to purchase from Minus Zero was by Buffalo, New York's Mystic Eyes on that beacon of 80s garage goodness, Get Hip Records.  It's one of the strongest two-siders from that decade's garage revival to cross my path with an endearingly romantic (those cute lyrics!) folk-punk stomper on the top side and a seriously twangy tale of a serial heartbreaker getting a dose of his own medicine on the bottom.  Get Hip still has unplayed copies for sale via its ebay store for a devilish $6.66.  Go's what Paypal's for!

a-side: "I Can't Wait To Love You"
(Is this a cover?)

b-side: "Taste Of The Same"
(originally by The Bad Seeds and available on this Sundazed Records ep)

Sunday 10 August 2014

Straight outta Denmark - The Youth

State Records are the truest of true believers in the sounds and ways of the guitar pop world from 1965 to 1969.  Whether it's through the records they release or sell*, there's no doubting where their passions lie. The next installment in their increasingly brilliant run of singles (remember how great that fizzing recent single by The Thanes was?) comes from scorching new Danish group The Youth.  "I'll Call Your Bluff" has a guitar sound to slacken the jaw and a vocal that is completely saturated with feeling, plus, and it's a big plus, you can dance to it.  It's so much more than a faded facsimile of the Euro-beat greats of the past.  It has too much heart for that.  "You've Done Me Wrong" on the reverse has a more overt R&B flavour to it.  It, too, should come in handy for DJs looking to tempt Chelsea boots onto the dancefloor.  The 7" is penciled in for an October release.  Only 500 copies - the first 250 with a numbered postcard - of this colossal 45 are being pressed so pre-ordering is a must.  When the time comes, get on it!

* The discerning record buyer is urged to visit their Mbrooks Mporium ebay store where the first single by The Youth is still in stock. Also still available is The Embrooks' "Jack"  7" on which you'll find their blistering take on The Barrier's "Dawn Breaks Through" which somehow manages to outdo the original for sheer power.  Skeptics are advised to check out this post on the astute Flower Bomb Songs blog to judge for themselves.

Krister Bladh over at Record Turnover has written some great words on it (and the new Paul Messis single) here. Check it out!

Saturday 9 August 2014

Post-Teenage Fanclub gig shindig at The Poetry Club

(ace flyer by Carrie from The Voidoid Archive)

On August 15th Teenage Fanclub play at the beautifully renovated Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow.  If it's anywhere near as good as Belle & Sebastian's celebratory show there a few weeks ago, it'll be a real highlight of summer 2014.  After the show there's a free shindig at The Poetry Club where filmmaker and former The Jesus & Mary Chain bassist Douglas Hart will be playing some tunes.  It'll be fascinating to hear his selections.  I'll also be making an appearance behind the decks under the wee train.  There's every chance I'll play the Go Ahead reissue - no 'original vinyl only' snobbery from me; I'm no Daddy Warbucks, y'know - of Jackie Wilson's mighty "Because of You":

Come along and dance like a loon.  It'll be better if you're there!

Facebook event page here

Friday 25 July 2014

Pang "Young Professionals"

Maybe it's because I just got my ears syringed and everything's sounding 67.3% more crisp but Pang's "Young Professionals" (Grazer) sounds more vibrant, more VITAL than almost anything else around at the moment.  They're canny enough to have assimilated the Swiss Rough Trade groups of the late 70s and realised that The Long Blondes were at their best on that 12" for What's Your Rupture?.  Not only is the guitar sound enough to make you throw things - anything!, EVERYTHING! - in the air with delight, but the "On, on, on" backing vocal refrain and the lead singer's screams are the most exquisite pop details of summer 2014.  More Pang, NOW!

(Thanks for the introduction, Mike!)

Tuesday 15 July 2014

On And On With Lou Reed

22 years go Trash (now, that's how to name yr band!) released "On and On With Lou Reed" (New World of Sound).  I wish I'd heard it at the time as it's a clattering delight that never lets up and yet another reason to look back in awe at the music being produced in New Zealand in the 80s and 90s.  A friend described it as 'a pop Dead C' which is not only a great concept but an astute observation given that that group's Robbie Yeats played on it.  I wonder if John Peel picked up on it.  It would surely have turned a fair few heads if he did, in fact, play it on his show*.

(Thanks for the tip, Jon!)

* - this would suggest Peel did play it - sweet!

Monday 14 July 2014

My Love Has Gone

Last week's trip to Monorail Music yielded the"My Love Has Gone" 7" (Norton) by Miriam (Linna of The A-Bones).  I'd read about Miriam's album on Lindsay Hutton's cranky but admirably passionate Next Big Thing blog so was on the lookout for her records.  "My Love Has Gone" is such a punchy evocation of the classic girl group sound.  TV theme catchy with hooks by the score, everything is played so emphatically (those drum skins took quite a beating!) that despite all the glockenspiel and romance-gone misery it could never be described as twee.  Hopefully, the lp will show up in Glasgow before too long.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Stuck In The 60s

BBC Radio 5Live ran a feature the other night about how Environmental Health officers had clocked crazy 100+ db sound levels during showings of recent blockbuster movies such as Godzilla.  Of course, I tut-tutted in agreement.  I mean, who hasn't come out of the cinema in the last few years rubbing their ears and moaning about it?  Of course, I am a total hypocrite when it comes to volume.  If 5Live ran a similar feature on the volume of music played in cars, I would be totally busted.  Tonight I stopped by the ever-wonderful Monorail Music and picked up a bunch of hot new vinyl spins and one second hand cd - this - and you should have heard the loopy volume at which I repeatedly played Bob & Kit's incredible 60s jangler "You've Gotta Stop" (HBR):

The first thing I did when I got home was to fire up ebay and search for an original 7".  Unfortunately, there's only 1 copy for sale and it's quite visibly scratched so I won't be investing in that.  I'm willing to wait for a pristine(ish?) copy.  After all, thanks to the impeccable taste of the cd's compiler, Nick Saloman of The Bevis Frond, I can blast it on cd till my ears stop working completely.

Another recent 60s cut to have won my heart is The Striders' adorably perky "There's A Storm Coming" (Columbia):

A tenner secured me a(n allegedly - we'll see when it arrives!) Mint- copy.  The slightly wimpy songs from the mid-60s that straddle the line between garage and pure pop are just so endearing.

Finally, while revisiting Ace Records' ridiculously great "Boy Trouble: Garpax Girls", this Rev-lons stunner swelled my heart all over again:

If "Whirlwind" doesn't have ya shufflin' and a handclappin' and a ooh-ooh-in' then just how do you get your kicks?

There's a fair chance the above 3 songs will form my Three In A Row suggestion for Brian Matthew's Sounds of the Sixties on BBC Radio 2.  Yeah, let's do this!

Thursday 26 June 2014

If I Can't Have You

Remember when Rhino followed their boxset version of the "Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968" compilation with "Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era, 1976–1995"?  Should they ever do likewise with their comprehensive overview of the girl group era, "One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost And Found", they would be duty-bound to include The Yearning's sweet dream-inducing "If I Can't Have You":

In a fair world it will be clutched lovingly to the hearts of the legion of vintage clothes-wearing Camera Obscura obsessives.  Tests have shown that it sounds best at twilight and in the movies, heartbroken teenage girls would play it to their friends on portable record players. It's a shame, therefore, that (thus far?) it's only available as a digital download.  Thanks to this and the singles by Parcel Post and The Luxembourg Signal, I've well and truly fallen back in love with indiepop; for much of 2014 we were on a break.  

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Parcel Post "Centimetres"

Lisle Mitnik plays guitar just the way Not Unloved would have it.  When Very Truly Yours appeared at The Captain's Rest in Glasgow a couple of summers ago I was in constant awe of his flawless playing.  He has such an intuitive way with a jangle!  The A-side of the debut 7" by Parcel Post, his new collaboration with Scott Stevens of the always adorable Summer Cats, was recently uploaded to Soundcloud and it's as hummable (that melody!) a slice of post-Sarah Records pop as you could ever hope to hear; Kingfisher Bluez and Cloudberry must have turned cartwheels when they first heard it.  The lead vocal is dreamy while Kristine Capua (also of Very Truly Yours) provides some winningly sweet backing echoes.  With such glistening guitar-work and so much glockenspiel "Centimetres" radiates.  I hope the vinyl comes in the classic wraparound sleeve/poly bag combo. Singles are just that bit more alluring that way, aren't they?

Friday 20 June 2014

Distant Drive / Looking For Real Love / Footwork

There are some immense singles around just now.  Here are 3:

> The Luxembourg Signal "Distant Drive" (Shelflife)

A solid contender for Single of the Year So Far.  It's been out for a couple of months but I just broke my 'no vinyl from the US due to prohibitive postal rates' rule to get it so it's current for me.  Beth Arzy from Sarah Records group Aberdeen is a member; I loved them, too.  That guitar line is a dream and a half and the vocals, well, they're Belgian chocolate sprinkles.

> Hollie Cook "Looking For Real Love" (Mr Bongo)

Now that the good weather feels comfortable enough to hang around for a bit in Scotland, Hollie's lover's rock makes even more sense.  Why this isn't blasting out from radios and car stereos and mobile phones up and down the land is a mystery.  Hollie's under-played singing style serves her well making her voice as welcome as a Magnum on a hot day.  Go on...treat yourself to one of the 100 copies on pretty green vinyl!

> Theo Parrish "Footwork" (Sound Sculpture)

Addictive. Not overly banging or attention-seeking, just addictive.

Monday 16 June 2014

I Wish You The World of Happiness

If Beatin' Rhythm in Manchester wasn't quite the palace of delights it had been the last time I visited it 4 years ago, I still came away an essential reissue 45 (on the shop's own label) of a Northern Soul diamond:

Eddie Holman and James Solomon's lyrics recount a moving tale of stoicism in the face of rejection:

The world's just not the same
At least not to me
'cause I won't see you again
You're setting me free
But I wish you the world of happiness
Though you're hurting me

Musically, it's archetypal mid-60s dancefloor-targeted soul.  It could prove a pricey acquisition as, if I keep playing it so much, I'll need to buy a rug to cover the living room carpet's threadbare patch.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Stroll On!

Of late it seems as if the world has gone a bit psych daft what with Loop touring again, festivals such Austin Psych Fest and Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia flourishing and a procession of new and old cosmic groups releasing records to great acclaim: Temples, Night Beats, The Brian Jonestown Massacre etc.. All of which would suggest that Stroll On Records' recent 4-way split 7" landed at just the right time.  It boasts a couple of lovely tracks by established acts from the janglier end of the pop-psych spectrum in The See See's "The Evil Clutch of Dawn" and The Young Sinclairs' "In This Room" to reel in the Shindig readers.  These are paired with blinding tracks by newer groups Triptides and Frankie and The Witch Fingers.  "Shaman" by Triptides has the most arresting intro in many a light year and the shady feel and messed-with vocals of The Byrds"Natural Harmony" while Frankie and The Witch Fingers"Revival" is a wired blast of keyboard-enhanced psych that quickens the pulse and never lets up.  There's no point playing a record like this quietly - sorry neighbours!

I got mine from Vinyl Revival on a recent visit to Manchester.  The shop's well worth a visit and the chaps talk an enthusiastic and informed game on psych, Freakbeat, garage etc..

Saturday 31 May 2014

Screen Prints

In recent weeks it's been thrilling to read such positive reviews of The Clientele's "Suburban Light" (Merge Records) reissue.  That record and the singles from which it was compiled are nigh on untouchable in terms of music released in the 1990s.  Coincidentally, another group who also touched perfection at around the same time has seen its music restored to print recently: Manchester's brilliant Screen Prints.

Fastcut Records of Japan have done the honours with their collection "Hum and Hiss" and it's an utter joy from start to finish.  "Missed" still has the power to make your heart swell and your eyes moist with its sweet, Gerard Love-like vocals (I wonder if they ever played with Teenage Fanclub; they seem such kindred spirits) and crisp, delightful melody:

What an arrangement! The hesitant intro, the distant drums, the glockenspiels, the cooing backing vocals, the changes in pace, that crystalline little guitar line; it breaks my heart that it's all so beautiful.  When they use strings as on "Her Name I Don't Remember" they soar to Michael Head and The Strands levels of majesty. There isn't a track on "Hum and Hiss" that doesn't deserve to be cherished.  If anything, Screen Prints sound better now than they did at the time and there's something about the fidelity of the recordings - home recorded, anything but anodyne - that adds to the poignancy.  Listening to "Hum and Hiss" is like going through a shoebox full of old Polaroids remembering and at once feeling happy and sad.  I hope desperately that it isn't overlooked and is clutched to the heart by a legion of romantic melody lovers.

There's talk of new Screen Prints recordings being made.  I, for one, will be waiting impatiently to hear them!

Follow them on Twitter here.

Note the Shop Assistants record at the front of the picture accompanying this (Japanese) interview - evidence of impeccable taste!

Monday 21 April 2014

The Delmonas

2014's tsunami of much-needed reissues shows no signs of abating.  My heart flipped (and my bank manager fainted) recently when Damaged Goods announced their plan to reissue Billy Childish affiliated girl-group The Delmonas' first 2 lps.  What great news!  They covered a lot of '60s material in their time but their choices were invariably smart ones as exemplified by this:

The Delmonas also appear on the latest volume of Ace Records' indispensable Girls With Guitars cd series with this:

Hopefully by June, when the aforementioned lps are reissued, my bank balance will have recovered from recent excesses.

Monday 14 April 2014

Wot About Me?

Thanks to Retrobution Records I now own precisely one South African punk 7".  It's a total dunderhead smash, all self-obsessed lyrics that cheekily dismiss not only the established musical stars of the past (Elvis, Bowie, 'Buddy Cochrane' etc.) but their punk peers:

I don't wanna talk about Johnny Rotten
I don't wanna talk about Sid Vicious
I don't wanna talk about Joe Strummer
I just wanna talk about...about me
Wot about me?

I keep resolving not to buy so many reissues, to support new music, but if labels keep releasing reissues this entertaining that resolution will continue to prove tricky to stick to.  It's good to know that the South African youth of the late 70s/early 80s could sneer with the best of them!


Sunday 13 April 2014

Pop Tapes: The Lemons / Chalk & Numbers

A former member of a famous indie group once sneered at me "You're so nice I bet you fart daisies" during an interview.  That sure showed me.  Yeah!  That put-down bubbled to the surface again while listening to Chicago's soda shop pop kids, The Lemons.  They're just so relentlessly upbeat and smiling and concerned with sweeties and kids' stuff.  Undoubtedly their music will be too saccharine for most but Not Unloved has never shied away from perky, wholesome pop music if it's made with the right spirit; we're not all leather clad rock'n'roll beasts after all.  Their brief songs - most of them make "Velocity Girl" look like a prog epic - have the same zest (ha!) for life as The Magic Kids or The Langley Schools Music Project.  Sometimes an escape from the grey drudgery of the adult world is much needed.  Their "Hello, We're The Lemons" tape (Gnar Tripp) comes with a sticker and a download code*.

Much less sherbet-fuelled but no less catchy are Brooklyn's Chalk and Numbers.  Theirs is a sophisticated take on classic beehive-haired jukebox pop.  The songs on Soft Power Records' "Cassette Compilation" are wrought from the chrome fixtures and gingham tablecloths of a million American diners.  All six are foot-tappers.  "I Really Wanna Work This Out", however, is the real beauty here; think Denise James tackling a recently unearthed Beach Boys demo.

Chalk and Numbers aren't taking pop music anywhere new but that doesn't matter a jot when the songs are this good - see also Summer Twins.  Time to watch "Grace Of My Heart" again, I reckon.

Both tapes were released earlier in 2014 but seem to make more sense now that there's the odd shaft of springtime sunlight to bump up the optimism.

* Brits can save on the postage by purchasing from Very Gun Records.