Friday 30 September 2022
Monday 19 September 2022
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.
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.
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 people and they do the same"
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!
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:
Far across the sea
Gone is my loved one
So far from me"
"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!