Friday, 30 September 2022

Alliyah Enyo

Without doubt one of the most jaw-dropping performances Not Unloved has witnessed this year was Alliyah Enyo's performance at The Green Door Studio's birthday party at The Old Hairdresser's (Glasgow). Seated on the floor with her equipment arrayed around her (including some actual physical tape loops stretched round mic stands), Enyo's set unfolded and enfolded with devotional intensity. It was genuinely captivating in a way that very few performances are genuinely captivating. A similarly smitten friend likened the impact of it to finally seeing 4AD's legendary Dead Can Dance at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall a few months earlier. There's some live footage from when she supported Erika de Casier (keeping the 4AD theme going) at Broadcast earlier in 2022 here. For once, however, I'd advise not watching any of the live footage before experiencing her brilliance at close quarters. Plans are afoot for a tape release of Enyo's music (early November 2022, I think) via the new Glasgow Somewhere Between Tapes imprint. Not Unloved, for one, is counting down the days but till then will continue to play "Ether" - her gently emotional collaboration with guitarist Gabriel Levine Brislin - on repeat. Such softness is much appreciated amidst the harshness of 2022, that's for sure.

Monday, 19 September 2022

Lizzie No "Sweeter Than Strychnine"

Not Unloved spent a blissful couple of hours sifting through Portishead's videos and live performances the other day. Having never seen most of them in the 90s (and I thought I watched way too much tv!), it was a real treat. After that, Lizzie No's recent Ben Pirani-penned "Sweeter Than Strychnine" single (Colemine Records, 2022) sounded even better. Pairing twanging spy movie guitar with subtle strings is always gonna work and Lizzie's reverb-cloaked vocal is a study in elegance and restraint. Colemine, Big Crown etc. have released an avalanche of music over the last few years so Not Unloved has to pick and choose but with the gorgeous Temptations-like "Stop Bothering Me" on the flip, this 45 was a must-buy.

Transatlantic Bunnies "Surrender" (SFTRI, 2019)

It's easy to forget just how many excellent records Long Gone John's Sympathy For The Record Industry has released over the years. Recently, the YouTube algorithm dangled "Surrender" by Dutch group Transatlantic Bunnies under Not Unloved's nose and it's a BIG pop winner from the opening "Be My Baby" drum beat. Glockenspiels are always welcome and Angela Won-Yin Mak's ace vocals are more than up to the task of keeping pace with the sweeping musical swells. Thankfully, for us latecomers, a few copies of the 7" are still kicking around. "Surrender" is a timely reminder that I need to revisit Lisa Mychols's music, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Future Conditional feat. Bobby Wratten & Beth Arzy "Demolitions"

Unfashionable as it may be to some, Not Unloved still uses and endorses the Compact Disc format. A recent CD arrival that we're looking forward to digesting fully is Future Conditional's "Isotech" (Second Language Music, due on 30th September, 2022). Back in the mid-to-late 90s when labels such as Wurlitzer Jukebox, Earworm etc. served up 7" after 7" of prime post-rock, electronica and indiepop, each new Piano Magic release was an essential listen. Future Conditional is the latest project from that band's Glenn Johnson and Cédric Pin. On "Isotech" they're joined by some notable friends including Bobby Wratten and Beth Arzy of the wondrous Lightning In A Twilight Hour (whose "Overwintering" album from earlier in 2022 is a hot contender for NU's Album of the Year for 2022):

"Demolitions" is a beautifully sung but sobering tale of urban planning gone wrong set to an evocative electro-pop backing:

"They take the city and they break its heart
 They take the people and they do the same"

Majestic, thought-provoking music.

Daphne X "Transactions In Time"

It's not all 60s downer pop at Not Unloved! A constant spool over summer 2022 has been Daphne X's "Transactions In Time" (czazska (rec.), 2022) tape. The likelihood is that the title track will be our most listened-to piece of electronic music this year:

It starts out pretty in the same way that Robin Saville's work is pretty before the ever-present beat becomes desperate and loud as if terrified by the imminent sci-fi sounds that close out the piece. Love it!

Wayne Dailey "Pain and Sorrow"

1960s pop doesn't come much gloomier than Wayne Dailey's "Pain and Sorrow" (Moonglow, 1966). The woozy opening chords set the sombre tone before the most melancholy of jangles seals the deal. Wayne's restrained croon is the perfect vehicle for delivering the lyrics of pure teen misery:

"Gone are the swallows
Far across the sea
Gone is my loved one
So far from me" 

"Pain and Sorrow" is the b-side to the far more produced/histrionic "Wreck of a Man". Another case of the real riches being tucked away on the flip.

Plastic Mushroom "Baby I See"

"Baby, I See" (Ssexx, 1970) by Plastic Mushroom is one of the few genuinely great 70s jangly pop records to find its way into Not Unloved's singles box. There are hundreds (thousands?) of superb 60s janglers out there but nowhere near as many from the following decade. I guess hair had got longer and guitars louder so the rockier sounds dominated. "Baby I See" is noteworthy for its heavenly melody, some surprisingly groovy breakdowns and for its use of the cowbell's less heralded percussion cousin, the woodblock. More woodblock!

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Wyld Gooms "Doesn't Matter To Me"

It may only be March but there's a fair chance that LA's Wyld Gooms have already produced thee garage b-side of 2022 in "Doesn't Matter To Me" (Outro Records):

The various Gooms have done time in a bunch of notable Not Unloved-endorsed groups (including but not limited to The Premonitions, The Slop, The Violet Mindfield, The Night Times) so it's no surprise that they know their way around a coulda-bin-comped-on-Pebbles tune and can deliver it with enough verve to elevate it well above the pack. The ole roar then guitar solo one-two about a minute and 45 seconds in, in particular, is a real adrenaline rush. It should be noted that the a-side is a blast, too; 2 minutes and 17 seconds of prime organ-addled scuzz to set yr bowl cut shakin'.

Scott McCarl and The Rubinoos "In Love Without A Girl"

A few years ago one of the most played slabs of vinyl around these parts was a late 60s 45 by Yellow Hair. "Sometimes" is a sun-bleached number that wafts on a West Coast breeze of gentle harmonies and unobtrusive instrumentation. It was later compiled by Numero Group on the indispensable "Louis Wayne Moody High" compilation:

"Sometimes" was written by a chap called Scott McCarl. In the late 90s McCarl, backed by California's legendary Rubinoos, cut one of the finest power pop singles since the genre's skinny tied 70s hey day with "In Love Without A Girl". It was released on the Titan label which was the subject of a typically comprehensive boxset via the aforementioned Numero Group. "In Love Without A Girl" is a chunky pop number with lovelorn lyrics and a terrific vocal from McCarl that should have admirers of The Posies circa "Frosting On The Beater" excitedly updating their wants lists. It sounds thrilling when cranked up loud.


Monday, 21 March 2022

Charlène Darling "NON MON GARÇON" (Lexi Disques, 2022)

Belgian label Lexi Disques won a little piece of Not Unloved's heart last year with the release of Lawrence Le Doux and Roger 3000's huggable "Creme/Caramel" single and they've repeated the trick in 2022 with Charlène Darling's bare bones but incredibly catchy "NON MON GARÇON" 7". From just whip-crack drums and a plaintive, at times double-tracked, vocal, Darling has conjured up a memorable slice of melodic Stereo Total-style pop that takes up residence in your brain with the result that you'll catch yourself unwittingly tapping out its rhythm and humming its melody as you go about your daily chores. Darling released an album in October 2019. It's high time Not Unloved became acquainted with it!

Friday, 18 March 2022

Glas-Goes Pop : an indiepop happening

It's been a wee while since Glasgow had a dedicated indiepop shindig. Probably the last one was the Pop South Weekender at The Glad Cafe in, ooh, 2016 (?). Creation Records royalty, Pete Astor, played that one - he was every bit as tremendous as I'd hoped; check the footage here - and he's also in the smashing-looking lineup for Glas-Goes Pop this coming August. The acts announced so far are:

Close Lobsters

The June Brides

David Christian (Comet Gain)

Pete Astor

The Catenary Wires

Davey Woodward & the Winter Orphans

Jetstream Pony

Swansea Sound

The Orchids

Rachel Love

Papernut Cambridge

+ DJs: Gerard Love, Chris 'Beans' Geddes & Andrew Williams

From what I hear, a couple more acts will probably be added to this already stuffed list. There's so much to look forward to but one name that leaps out is that of Rachel Love. She won a lot of hearts as a member of Dolly Mixture back in the early 80s but her full length from last year, "Picture In Mind", was among the very best albums of 2021 for Not Unloved's money. It'll be a real treat to see her perform songs from it live, that's for sure.

It'll be a blast, too, to see David from Comet Gain in Glasgow once again. It's been way too long since Comet Gain played a rollicking set as part of an all-dayer at Mono and even longer since they tore up the basement of The 13th Note with the incredible The Peechees - what a memorable night that was! It's also going to be tremendous to welcome Jetstream Pony to a Glasgow stage for the first time. Not Unloved made the pilgrimage to London's legendary 100 Club to see them play with the always brilliant The Orchids and the soaring St. Christopher in February 2020. That seems like forever ago now so roll on August!

The scoop:

When? Fri & Sat, August 5th & 6th 2022

Where? GUU Debates Chamber (Glasgow, Scotland)

Facebook? here

Instagram? here

Twitter? here

Tickets? On sale here NOW!

Also, be sure to tune in to Clyde Built Radio on Saturday, 19/03/2022 at 11am (UK time) to hear the organizers talk about the event! Don't worry if you can't tune in at that time as it'll be archived here in due course.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Rock Writ (podcast)

In 2022 there are so many top notch podcasts, mixes and streaming radio options that trying to consume them all is a recipe for madness or, at the very least, chronic sleep deprivation. With so much choice, I suspect that we may already be living in the era of Momus's Famous For Fifteen People. Over the last year or so, Canadian Armen Svadjian's excellent "podcast exploring rock criticism and old-school fanzine culture", Rock Writ, has become an essential listen here at Not Unloved. Over its 20 episodes (and counting!), Armen has interviewed luminaries such as Mike Stax of legendary 60s garage/psych zine Ugly Things, Jay Hinman of D.I.Y./punk bibles Superdope and Dynamite Hemorrhage (new issue out now!), not to mention Scotland's very own early fanzine heavyweights, Lindsay Hutton (The Next Big Thing) and Brian Hogg (Bam Balam/Strange Things Are Happening). The conversations always prove illuminating and Armen - a former zine writer himself - is a friendly and knowledgeable host who enables his guests to tell their stories via a series of astute questions and observations. There hasn't been an episode so far that hasn't had me scurrying to ebay on the hunt for back issues of whichever publication is being discussed. It really makes you yearn for a return to the days when Tower Records or Borders Books had shelves devoted to small run zines and, of course, makes you kick yourself for not picking up more of them when they were freely available.

Follow Rock Writ on Twitter here

Listen to Rock Writ here

Monday, 10 January 2022

Billy Swivs "Time Is Not On My Side" (Wick, 2021)

Late last year Daptone's sister imprint Wick struck garage pop gold with "Time Is Not On My Side" by Billy SwivsIt's a barrel of Stones-y fun with some fine tellin'-it-like-it-is lyrics:

All the people on TV

They don't believe in you or me

No, they're just trying to waste your time

Control your brain and rule your mind

I dunno, maybe it's from witnessing all the call and response at King Khan shows or Ian Svevonius's many exhortations at Chain and The Gang/The Make-up/Escape-ism etc. gigs but I just wanna punch the air at all the wee side comments such as "That I could be somebody!" (which is uttered in a manner pleasingly reminiscent of Not Unloved fave Ryan Kidd!) or "I had a dream about it!". It's nigh on impossible to bring anything new to this style of music (I'm not sure that the avid followers of it want that, mind you!) but if you have a memorable enough tune, an ear for the good stuff from the last 55 years of garage punk and the swagger to pull it all off you'll still be able to tempt my winklepickers onto the dancefloor. Hell, yeah!

Agincourt "Fly Away" / Andersens "Bacharach"

There's a fair chance that you can count on one hand the number of records on Not Unloved's shelves that could conceivably be tagged with word 'prog'. Agincourt's "Fly Away" - most recently reissued in 2021 on Trading Places - is one of the few, if discogs is to be believed. Thankfully, however, "Fly Away" is a much more succinct, (folk)pop-oriented affair than the dreaded 'prog' word would suggest with the highlight being "All My Life" which somehow manages to rival the acoustic side of Kaleidoscope for effortless beauty:

Agincourt unexpectedly landed in Not Unloved's orbit when, upon playing the heart-meltingly pretty "Bacharach" by the Japanese group Andersens to a musician friend, they (correctly to these ears!) mooted a certain similarity in the vocal melody to "All My Life""Bacharach" appears on Morr Music's smashing overview of Andersens' output to date, "There Is A Sound". Fans of Tenniscoats and Molly Linen are urged to seek it out if they haven't already!

Sunday, 9 January 2022

That Record Got Me High (podcast)

That Record Got Me High came to Not Unloved's attention when Tim Hinely (of Dagger zine fame) had the good sense to select Galaxie 500's landmark debut album as his topic of discussion. The format of the show is simple: an invited guest selects an album of their choice to listen to and discuss in detail with host, Rob Elba (and, previously, former Moe Tucker and Jad Fair collaborator, Barry Stock), Episodes are just over an hour in length and Elba is a great host who is cheerful and never overbearing. Pleasingly, he doesn't fall into the trap that so many other music podcasters do of trying to assert their knowledge and opinions over those of their guests. In fact, it's really refreshing to hear Elba admit to not having prior knowledge of some of the chosen albums. The periods in 2020 and 2021 when going out to live shows wasn't a possibility provided plenty of time for catching up with previous episodes of That Record Got Me High. Some of Not Unloved's favourites are:

Marc Masters is a tremendous music journalist and a wholly positive voice on Twitter. His discussions on albums by The Chills and Half Japanese were super-enjoyable.

Former Blake Babies and Lemonheads drummer (and President of Rounder Records!) John P Strohm selected The Byrds "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" and brought it to life with passion and insight.

Steve Michener was lucky enough to play bass with three fabulous 80s/90s US indie-rock touchstones: Volcano Suns, Big Dipper and Dumptruck. The Vulgar Boatmen was a name I'd seen in mailorder catalogues in days gone by but a group I'd never actually heard. After listening to season 5, episode 201, however, I'm sure keen to hear more.

The episode where Joe Tunis of noise label Carbon Records and Elba chatted about The Dead C's "Trapdoor Fucking Exit" was a blast.

That's enough to be going on with, All that remains is for Not Unloved to finally put our hand in our pocket and become a patron of the show.

Since this post has name-checked both The Lemonheads and Volcano Suns, it seems like an opportune time to post this wonderfully heartfelt cover by the former of the latter's excellent "Balancing Act" which was released on 7" by Atlantic in 1997 (!).