Sunday, 5 March 2017

Gentle music: Strawberry Generation and Hand Habits

Alan Godsell, the man behind Alan's Midweek Madhouse on Radio Saltire, is a true believer; a total enthusiast and evangelist for new music. On a recent show he played "Bathed In Blue" by new Providence (USA) group Strawberry Generation. Its dreaming beauty stopped me in my tracks:



My friend cried 'Blueboy!' on hearing it and it's a good comparison. That voice serves as a little reminder of what we lost when Blueboy's Keith Girdler so sadly passed away. There's not a second of "Bathed In Blue" that I don't look forward to but somehow the perky, Felt-like coda always takes me by surprise. Elsewhere on the (download only, for now) e.p., "Some Story" comes on like an ambient Scritti Politti. It's a real heart-sweller. Strawberry Generation is without doubt Not Unloved's favourite new group.



Similarly pretty and equally gentle is the debut lp from Meg Duffy's Hand Habits. A trusted friend recommended another group Meg plays with, Mega Bog, a year or two ago but I couldn't get beyond the dreadful name so made no effort whatsoever to hear their music - more fool me! There is so much to admire on "Wildly Idle (Hunble Before The Void)" (Woodsist) and it has taken its place in my affections alongside the best bits of Houndstooth's "Ride Out The Dark" lp and Soda Shop's lovely "Farewell e.p.". I'm now kicking myself repeatedly for not seeing Mega Bog at Rough Trade when I had the chance a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Rat Columns "Someone Else's Dream"

2016 proved something of a David West bonanza for Not Unloved. As well as picking up a bunch of superfine records by his various projects (Liberation, solo, Rat Columns and Rank/Xerox), I was able (thanks to the tireless efforts of Michael Kasparis from Night School Records) to catch a couple of life-affirming Liberation gigs (think Pet Shop Boys dreaming of their Mediterranean holidays) and a smashing solo show. Not a man to rest on his laurels, David's back with a new Rat Columns record in early March, this time on the increasingly excellent Upset The Rhythm. If  the adorable"Someone Else's Dream" is any guide, it's set to be bursting with effervescent hooks, topped-off, as ever, with one of the softest, warmest voices around. March 2nd can't come quickly enough.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Spookies on Goodbye Boozy


Annoyingly, my secondary school's playing fields were on the edge of town around a mile from the main school buildings so, whenever we had football, hockey, athletics etc., we had 15 minutes or so to get ourselves out there. The PE teachers drove there (so negligent!) so we were unsupervised on our jog (ok - distracted dawdle). On our route there was a Spiritualist church. We called the Spiritualists 'The Spookies' and, if the door was ajar, people would be dared to run in for a peek. That was quite a dare as we were all a bit scared that them crazy Spiriualists were in there performing mad, demonic rituals (as one does on a Tuesday morning in March). I never plucked up the courage to venture in, that's for sure. These long forgotten memories came flooding back thanks to a new 7" by The Spookies on Italy's trash punk powerhouse, Goodbye Boozy. "(Sorry Baby) I Fell Asleep" is possibly the gentlest thing I've heard on GB. That doesn't mean to say, however, that it doesn't pack a right good, if lazy, fuzzy thump. There are echoes of "She Cracked" era Jonathan Richman, Iggy Pop and even Tom Verlaine in the singer's (it seems the whole band takes turns in the vocal booth so I don't got no idea who sang this particular song) wonderfully dunderheaded drawl. Top marks for the majestic, jangling intro and the frat boy loser first line: "I'm not a champion at getting gurls".

Friday, 13 January 2017

16 remaining (of 150) - Heart Beach "Counting" (Rough Skies)

On Tuesday between 16:05 and 17:15(ish) I listened to only one song. It is 2 minutes and 29 seconds long and I listened to it for around 70 minutes because, your Honour, I would contend that "Counting" by Hobart, Tasmania's Heart Beach is nigh on perfect:



"Counting" was released on 7" by Rough Skies in an edition of 150 in March, 2016. Unbelievably, there are still 16 copies left. There were 18 but then me and some other soul of sound mind ordered one apiece. I have Doug Mosurock and Kris Record Turnover to thank for ensuring that I was aware of  it at all. Doug played it on his Still Single radio show near to Vital Idles on New Year's Day which (I suspect) prompted Kris to include it (at #5) in his Top 25 singles of 2016. Its vocal melody and guitar line are so succinct and perfectly captured that they could only have been cut from a particularly flawless diamond. I particularly love that the guitar only comes in after you're already smitten by the bass, drums and vocals and that when it does it's one of the best singalong guitar lines you've heard in years. Get it before 16 becomes 0, Here ends the evangelism for today.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Community Radio "Look Now You're Cursed" (Tenorio Cotobade)


According to the Tenorio Cotobade bandcamp page, "Look Now You're Cursed" was released in July 2016. I have no idea what was monopolising the Not Unloved stereo back then but it can't have been more enjoyable than Community Radio's classy second lp. The singles that preceded the lp - "Sick In The Car" and"Real Transformation" (below) - were both excellent, understated guitar pop records, similar in mood and execution to, say, The Clean's "Getaway" lp. "Real Transformation" really should have been lapped up by admirers of Ultimate Painting's brand of subdued art-rock. Maybe they did and nobody told me.



Repeated listens reveal so much to admire on "Look Now You're Cursed".  There are some lovely details such as the unexpectedly groovy piano on "Oasis" or the iridescent intro to "Crystal Ball" (not a Felt cover, although its intro wouldn't have sounded out of place on one of their records).



Possibly, the highlight of the album is the gently spinning chorus of the otherwise languid "Travel Endlessly". It's by no means a grand gesture, more a small gift to cherish. There have been a lot of great Australian lps in recent years (The Goon Sax, Twerps, The Icypoles etc. etc.) and this up there with the very best of them. Australian DJ Josh Meadows, formerly of brilliant Sarah Records group The Sugargliders (and later of  the also excellent The Steinbecks), nominated the album's opener, "One Book A Treasure", as the best song of 2016 on his It's A Jangle Out There show. High praise, indeed. If they're good enough for Josh Meadows, they're certainly good enough for me.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2 fairly new tunes of Scottish origin


"Bosnia" is the first Le Thug recording I've been aware of since their 12" on Song By Toad - "Paints" in particular - sent me into something of a spin in December 2014. It's a sparing, low key return but equally memorable. Gone is the hazy One Dove danceability, replaced with sepulchral ambience. After a day spent working to Grouper and Lightning In A Twilight Hour, it really makes sense.


Tomorrow Syndicate may have been a going concern for around 5 years and call Glasgow's Southside home, but they were new to Not Unloved when in late 2016 Polytechnic Youth announced the details of their 7". "Into The Void" is a fine debut. There's a welter of this Ghost Box-y, Krautrocking stuff around at the moment (most of it good, I'd contend) but "Into The Void" is succinct, dramatic and melodic enough that it holds its own among the likes of Cavern of Anti-Matter and Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation. Polytechnic Youth only pressed 250 copies so it may already be scarce. Get on it!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Not Unloved's (belated!) faves of 2016


In 2016 I bought a fair number of records but due to the amount of brilliant shows in Glasgow (Anxiety, Vital Idles, Mordwaffe, Sacred Paws, Happy Meals, Spinning Coin etc. etc.), watching football and being busy with life stuff, I didn't actually spend enough time with them. I've promised myself that this won't happen in 2017. We'll see! I've also scolded myself for not getting round to buying the lps by Chook Race and The Yearning as they're both worthy of any Not Unloved albums of the years list.

Albums

  1. Ela Orleans "The Circles of Upper and Lower Hell" (Night School)
  2. The Goon Sax "Up To Anything" (Chapter Music)
  3. Anxiety "s/t" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
  4. Whyte Horses "Pop Or Not" (CPC)
  5. Lightning In A Twilight Hour "And All The Ships At Sea" (Elefant)
  6. Real Numbers "Wordless Wonder" (Slumberland)
  7. Helena Celle "If I Can't Handle Me At My Best, You Don't Deserve You At Your Worst" (Night School)
  8. Vanishing Twin "Choose Your Own Adventure" (Soundway)
  9. Pete Astor "Spilt Milk" (Fortuna Pop/Slumberland)
  10. The Pooches "s/t" (Lame-O)
  11. Carla dal Forno "You Know What It's Like" (Blackest Ever Black)

Singles (excludes Vital Idles!)

  1. Spinning Coin "Albany" (Geographic)
  2. Sacred Paws "Everyday" (Rock Action)
  3. Primetime "Going Places" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
  4. CC Dust "Shinkansen No. 1" (Night School) - "New Ways" on the flip was the song I played most in 2016!
  5. Patience "The Church" (Night School)
  6. Carla dal Forno "Fast Moving Cars" (Blackest Ever Black)
  7. Lady Wray "Do It Again" (Big Crown)
  8. El Michel's Affair feat. The Shacks "Strange Boy" (Big Crown)
  9. Mercury Girls "Ariana" (Slumberland)
  10. Boys Forever "Poisonous" (Amour Foo)
  11. Shark Toys/UV-TV "split" (Emotional Response)
  12. Omar S feat. Nite Jewel "Sidetrakx Vol. 5: Nite Train" (FXHE)
  13. Peter Gordon & David Van Tieghem feat. Kathy Acker "Winter/Summer" (Foom) - possibly more of an archival issue but it sure earned a stack of turntable time at the end of the year!





Reissue

Gas "BOX" (Kompakt)

Also, the Bizarre "Cafe de Flor" (Seksound) reissue - first issued in Estonia in the mid-90s - was really intriguing and contained one of the very few songs that sounds without precedent to these ears:


Gigs

  1. The Goon Sax, Boys Forever and Spinning Coin at Mono
  2. Amor at Platform (I'll remember this for the rest of my days - truly stunning Arthur Russell meets English folk melancholia from Richard Youngs, Paul Thomson (Franz Ferdinand), Luke Fowler and Michael Duchs)
  3. The Pastels, Cavern of Anti-Matter etc. at Pop Revo, Aarhus
  4. Anxiety at The Old Hairdressers (supporting Guttersnipe)
  5. Royal Headache and The #1s at Broadcast
  6. The Raincoats and Sacred Paws at CCA