Sunday, 28 August 2016

Playlist from the We Love Soft Power! gig

Last night's farewell to Soft Power Records was a largely blasting affair, high on intensity and gut churning intensity.  It was brilliant!  Here's what made it from my stuffed 7" box to the decks (ineptly, as usual - there was a wee issue with one of the turntables which lead to sticking records and dead air):

September Girls Gay Bar (Bachelor)
Bent Skeleton Man (Moontown)
The Wake Of The Matter (Factory)
The Mekons Where Were You? (Fast Product)

> Blood of the Bull live

CTMF Song For Kylie Minogue (Damaged Goods)
Shopping Straight Lines (Fat Cat)
Veronica Falls Teenage (Bella Union)

> Current Affairs live

Broadcast American Boy (Warp)
CC Dust New Ways (Night School)
Primetime Pervert (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Vital Idles My Sentiments (Not Unloved)

> Dora Maar (Andrew Hill solo) live

The Royal Sitars Eloise (Agitated)
Scars Horrorshow (Fast Product)
The Fall It's The New Thing (Superior Viaduct)
Tommy James and The Shondells Hanky Panky (Philips)
Billie Davis Billy Sunshine (Decca)

> Witching Waves live

Bikini Kill I Like Fucking (Kill Rock Stars)
A Certain Ratio Do The Du (Peel Session version) (Soul Jazz)
The Frowning Clouds All Night Long (Saturno)
Sugababes Overload (London)
Marnie The Hunter (Soft Power)
Sandra Plays Electronics Her Needs (Minimal Wave)
X Ray Spex Identity (EMI)
Babes In Toyland Handsome and Gretel (Insipid Vinyl)

> H. Grimace live

The Raincoats Fairytale In The Supermarket (Rough Trade)
Patience The Church (Night School)
Carol So Low (Weyrd Son)
David Bowie Rebel Rebel (RCA)
Maureen Tucker Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Trash)

> Kaspar Hauser live

Alternative TV Action Time Vision (Deptford Fun City)
The Brats Be A Man (Hozac)
Gary Walker You Don't Love Me (Columbia)
The Diaboliks Hangover Head (Vinyl Japan)
The Sorrows Take A Heart (Pye)
Psychic Dancehall A Love That Kills (Art Fag)
CC Dust New Ways (Night School - played again for Seb from Current Affairs)

Hearing "Hangover Head" louder than I've ever heard it before was a real treat:

"New Ways" by CC Dust (7" coming soon on Night School) seemed to fit the mood of the evening perfectly:

Monday, 22 August 2016

We Love Soft Power! (27th August 2016, The Old Hairdressers)

It's always sad to see a favourite record label call it a day.  It's doubly sad when that label is run by friends.  When Bek and Graeme announced earlier this year that there were going to be no more Soft Power Records releases it gave me a bit of a jolt as I hadn't seen it coming.  After the inital surprise, the memories came rushing back. I remembered the sweet nights spent listening to amazing POP music at neighbourhood feud-starting volume at their house in Livingston.  I remembered, too,  all the great records I had bought from them and, for that matter, all the records they so kindly gave me for cheap or free from their ace and much-missed Soft Power Vinyl distro.  I remembered the heart-quickening thrill of hearing Marnie's "The Hunter" before it came out and I remembered just how chuffed I was when they told me that they had taken the plunge and were going to release a single by Glasgow's Aggi Doom, who at that stage were fizzing with ideas and vitality.  I have so many great memories connected to Soft Power Records.  It's so great, therefore, that another of the label's friends, David Barr (himself a passionate supporter of less heralded music - check out his Ski Pie Rage blog), has taken it upon himself to organise a celebration of all things Soft Power with a night at Glasgow's The Old Hairdressers.  It's this Saturday and is sure to be a blast with Witching Waves and H. Grimace making the trip north where they will be joined by Kaspar Hauser, Blood of the Bull, Current Affairs (the latest fab group featuring Joan and  Josh who graced the label as part of Seconds) and Dora Maar from Soft Power's Scottish contingent.  I'll be playing a few tunes between bands, too.  Bek and Graeme are two of the most enthusiastic, warm-hearted, generous and genuine people I've had the privilege to know so, if you can, please come along on Saturday to thank them for fighting the good fight for the past 6 years and to give their label the righteous send-off it deserves.

Remind yourself of just how much wonderful music Soft Power Records released by listening to the David Barr compiled We Love Soft Power Compilation which can be streamed HERE

Read more about the We Love Soft Power gig HERE

Buy a bunch of brilliant Soft Power Records records and tapes HERE

Buy tickets (only 7 quid!) for the We Love Soft Power gig HERE

Dance giddily around your bedroom to Marnie's perfect-in-every-way Soft Power Records single, "The Hunter":

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Garbage and The Flowers "The Deep Niche"

"Eyes Rind As If Beggars" by The Garbage and The Flowers occupies a unique place in my heart.  Seldom has a record come from seemingly nowhere (somehow I missed all the reviews which must have been stellar and none of the music obsessives that I hung around with mentioned it even in passing upon its first release in 1997) had such an impact on me.  Excitingly, Grapefruit Record Club has a new collection of pre-"Eyes Rind..." material due for release this week (thanks for the tip, G!).  "The Deep Niche"  features the choral nursery rhyme sweetness of "Sandy Skies" which approaches their own "Love Comes Slowly Now" for sheer love-inducing prettiness:

The fidelity and feel are perfect and lend it the magical air of some long lost acetate of Vashti fronting The Velvet Underground that some lucky soul chanced upon in a flea market or garage sale.  I'm purposefully not listening to any more of "The Deep Niche" in advance of hearing the vinyl to keep the moment special.  If only Volcanic Tongue were still around to ensure that it came to Glasgow.

Get it from midheaven

Monday, 4 July 2016

Here come the NUSONICs: Not Unloved Records

Things are slowly taking shape.  NUSONIC 001, that is; the first release on Not Unloved Records.  As 2015's embers cooled, I saw a group live.  I'd seen them play a bunch of times and knew that they were great but on this night they were especially brilliant.  The kind of brilliant that gets you carried away and giddily making plans and doing sums in your head.  It's been 18 years since I last released a record so I assumed that I would never do so again but this group's songs deserve to be immortalised on vinyl.  This group deserves to have their single take its place in the continuum of great 45s that stretches back 60 or so years.  I'm under no illusions as to how tricky it will be to actually sell records, especially 7" singles, in 2016 but this group is worth it.  Once Not Unloved Records had solidified into something more concrete than a whim, it didn't seem right that it should exist to release just one record so there will be a NUSONIC 002 but let's not get ahead of ourselves, let's focus on making NUSONIC 001 a success.  All the usual 2016 stuff will follow soon: Twitter accounts,  bandcamp pages, Facebook pages, pre-orders etc.. Keep yr peepers peeled!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

4 noisy songs and 1 quiet song

Somehow, between fretting over the UK's political situation, going to amazing gigs (The Pastels and Saint Etienne on one bill!, CC Dust and the Current Affairs etc. etc.) and cramming in as much football watching as possible, there's been some time left over to listen in awe to the creativity of others.  More than any other single of late spring 2016, Carla dal Forno's "Fast Moving Cars" (Blackest Ever Black) has nagged away at me the most.  Carla's detached, slightly robotic delivery suits a song about choosing fast machines having grown bored of nature.  If only she'd recorded it before "High Rise" needed a soundtrack.

Primetime's second single (La Vida Es Un Mus) is a real gem, the group's sound located in the overlap of the Medway bands' primitive thump and the strident punk of the Swiss Rough Trade groups of the late 70s.  "If I'm a pervert then you're a stain on my dirty mind" is surely the best first line of 2016 so far.

Primetime contribute a suitably snotty take on "Dumbhead" to "Typical Girls"Emotional Response's thrilling overview of female-voiced pop circa 2016, which bursts outta the blocks with Earth Girls' succinct, fizzing "OLand" which had me reaching for Parasites lps afterwards in a bid to keep the momentum up.  The two singles I have by them are tremendous, too.  Grave Mistake recently put their "Wanderlust" lp up for pre-order. Get on it!

Maybe recklessly, I've been going to gigs for two and a half decades without wearing earplugs.  After being brutalised by Anxiety's exhilarating hardcore onslaught four times in a fortnight at the turn of 2016, however, I hastily purchased a set.  La Vida Es Un Mus have done the smart thing and had 9 Anxiety songs seared onto vinyl.  "Trapped Shut" always slays live so I approached the recorded version with a hint of trepidation but I needn't have worried as it's as ferociously disconsolate as ever.

I first saw The Flexibles tear up the much-missed Volcanic Tongue shop a couple of years back.  They were like The Dead C played at child-friendly volume.  In those days Sorley (Youngs, son of Richard) must have been only 7 or 8 and sang through an effects mic/unit that lent his voice the characteristics of a young Darth Vader.  On "Pink Everything" (Night School), Sorley has ditched the vocal effect but the music stills scorches.  There's a fair chance that this lp will prove to be Not Unloved's sound of early summer 2016.    

Saturday, 28 May 2016

California Snow Story "Some Other Places" (Shelflife Records)

Before the trashy garage punk records, before all the Northern Soul compilations, way before the dalliances with techno and electronic music, before everything else there were the gentle guitar pop records.  For years they were all I wanted and needed.  Listening to California Snow Story's new lp (Shelflife download for now, other formats to follow), I'm made acutely aware that I still need them.  That "Some Other Places" exists came as a pleasant surprise as their cherished earlier releases date from so long ago that I'd assumed the group to be defunct.  It's such a joy to luxuriate in Sandra Belda Martãnez's beautiful voice again.  For Not Unloved, she's up there with Katrina Mitchell and David Skirving's former bandmate, Traceyanne Campbell.  As if that weren't treats enough, Lupe Núñez-Fernández of Pipas/Amor de Dias and Mel Whittle from the also missing-in-action-for-years The Hermit Crabs make telling vocal contributions that complement David's own tender, understated voice.  The feel of this record is so right: soft but never sickly sweet.  The guitars are immaculately recorded with each note having a life of its own.  In a just world, "The Solitary Age" would be the single that sold the album.  It's as fine a pop tune as I've heard this year: a winner from its first brittle beat and downbeat jangle.  This sounds like music made by thoroughly agreeable human beings; the kind of people who don't swagger or push themselves forward but who quietly get on with crafting beautiful music with pride.  There is a one hundred per cent chance that, come year end, "Some Other Places" will be numbered among my very favourite records of 2016.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Music for dancing to

Nestling in the 7" racks of Monorail Music yesterday was the new single from Sally Shapiro.  I made a mental note to listen to it online when I got home and promised myself that if I liked it I'd go back for it.  Of course, I promptly forgot it even existed thanks to tape dubbing fun at Good Press followed by yet another late night spent in The Old Hairdressers being pummelled by LOUD music (the ferocious Kasper Hauser who were launching their Soft Power tape).  Luckily, Unpopular had the good sense to include the A-side of Sally's 45 on their latest mix so I was reminded to give it a whirl. What an adorable slice of gently euphoric Euro-pop! Soft voices are the best voices. 

Get it from the Fika Recordings shop if you're not lucky enough to have a shop as astute as  Monorail Music nearby.

The fifth volume in Kent Records' excellent Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities CD series is one of its strongest and opens with the dramatic group soul of The Avons' "When The Boy That You Love Is Loving You":

Sensibly, Kent have also released it on 7" vinyl, the label of which says: "A previously unissued Bob Holmes production." . It's a wild thought that such a fabulous record remained unreleased for five decades.