Sunday, 28 August 2011

Hey, Mr Postman

Last night Davy Henderson and his The Sexual Objects (enhanced by Gareth Sager) backed The Postman (a.k.a. Vic Godard) at The Old Hairdressers in Glasgow.  It wasn't perfect - no stage, Fisher Price P.A. which at times rendered the singers barely audible - but was, nonetheless, hugely enjoyable.  Liberated by not having to strap on a guitar, Vic was free to be more animated than I've ever seen him.  At times his back was arched way back like a cobra waiting to strike as he wailed into the mic which he cupped in his hands for maximum amplification.  "Chain Smoking" was blistering as was  "Nobody's Scared".  "Parallel Lines" was tinkered with somewhat which robbed it slightly of its punch but, still, I'd rather be listening to it in any form (well, maybe not happy hardcore or cod reggae versions!) than just about anything else.  After C's comment at Edinburgh's The Citrus Club in March, I've taken to singing 'school children' instead of 'stool pigeon' and so it was last night.  Vic's between song asides (including a ringing endorsement of, er, BetFred!) were funny.  As S pointed out, as good as the show was, it should have been better promoted and at a venue where more people could see the action.  Maybe gigs should operate a school photo policy of tall ones to the back.  Thinking back, I'm pretty sure my ample frame and large head prevented a good few folks from seeing Vic and co..  If so, sorry!

The Sexual Objects' set was enjoyably chaotic and centre-pieced by a rambling instrumental that swiped a riff from Captain Beefheart and twisted it into various shapes.  Russell Burn's drumming was noticeably brilliant throughout.  Before them, a woolly hatted Jock Scot tipsily performed his poetry, hilariously baited the Glasgow audience and delivered an assortment of waggish asides until he was unceremoniously shoulder-charged from the 'stage' by former British Sea Power manager Rob Wilkinson who was hellbent on reading more of his new book.  Talk about an ill-judged interruption; a total buzzkill that lost him much of the good will earned earlier by the mildly amusing stories of his 87 year old, Butthole Surfers obsessed dad.

Residents from Edinburgh are advised that Vic, The Sexual Objects etc. appear tonight at Unbound at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Step to it!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Return to Wimp Scuzz: Try-Angle "Writing on the Wall"

A recent dip into the second hand cd racks of Monorail yielded a copy of "Gravel Vol. 2" (Kumquat May Recording Inc.)..  It's one of the strongest collections of garage mayhem/loser fuzz/downer jangle I've come across with Try-Angle's aching "Writing on the Wall" being the most instantly lovable of its 30 tracks.  This is largely due to the singer's fabulous, almost 1980s indiepop voice and its lilting jangle but it is also because it has thee most quintessential wimp scuzz chorus I've encountered yet:    

"You don't love me no more
 (no, no, no, no)
 And I can tell for sure
 (can tell for sure)
 You're gonna cause more misery" .

One boy's teenage letdown never sounded so good!

Update! : The prodigiously talented and ultra-suave Paul Messis recently blogged about "Writing on the Wall", too.  The Transparent Radiation looks like a great blog with writing on The Springfields (Sarah Records), Sonic Boom's Spectrum, Sun Ra etc..

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Correction: The Caretaker

In my previous posting I somewhat rashly claimed:

"I haven't been so excited by a record that could be considered ambient since I first heard Grouper's "Way Their Crept""

In retrospect, this isn't strictly true.  The last ambient record that got me all steamed-up was actually The Caretaker's "Persistent Repetition of Phrases" (History Always Favours The Winners) which I plundered for cheaps from the winter sale earlier this year.  It's a wonderfully evocative, spooky record which takes Sabres of Paradise's "Haunted Dancehall" and transports it from the West Indies to Manchester, in the process converting it into more of a haunted tea-dance hall where damp, discarded dancecards litter the floor and the rain pours in through holes in the roof.  Each of the 9 tracks is liberally dusted with reverb, static and antique surface noise which lends them a lonely air which is deeply moving.  Any one of them would be suitable for the soundtrack of a psychological horror.

Monday, 22 August 2011


Motion Sickness of Time Travel's "Luminaries and Synastry" (Digitalis) just wasn't the right record.  I had been looking for something relaxing to listen to in the bath, something that wouldn't get me all over-excited or in full-on evangelising mode and although "Luminaries..." is soothing, it's such an exceptionally pretty record that as it unfolded I got ever more wild-eyed and excited and all chances of zoning out for half an hour among the bubbles were gone.  At times, probably due to Rachel Evans' in-the-next-postcode vocals that only just carry on the breeze, it has the distant glide of the most abstract passages of Northern Picture Library's wonderful and misunderstood "Alaska" album.  In that respect it also recalls Slowdive's dazzling "Pygmalion"; another record which was largely ignored and unjustly derided on release.  I haven't been so excited by a record that could be considered ambient since I first heard Grouper's "Way Their Crept" and the fact that afterwards I was mad keen on lining up and listening to everything I own by Wolfgang Voigt's seminal Gas project is something to thank M.S.o.T.T. for.  "Luminaries and Synastry" also sports the best album sleeve I've seen so far in 2011 (just look at's so romantic!) so it's a winner all round.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

19th August, 2011: The Wildhouse

The Wildhouse play on Friday, 19th at Dexter's in Dundee.  If you're anywhere within striking distance, you should make a point of being there as you'll be rewarded with top quality noise (<-- the emphasis being on this word) pop.  According to their Facebook page, The Wildhouse are on first so best wolf down your dinner and get there early.  In fact, take extra sandwiches to work so that you don't even have to go home for tea!

* - chances are that they won't be playing 'Palatine'...the plums!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Maxines

A recent peek inside the Anorak Forum sparked a trip to myspace to sample The Maxines and, wouldn't ya know it, they're another of those ace rusty guitar/shouty voice combos that K Records has a knack of finding and nurturing.  You can trust Calvin Johnson when it comes to this type of music; it's in his DNA. "Hang Around" has the dismissive sneer of The Runaways while "White Out!" marries a few gloriously dumb words to a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion guitar line and if "Drugstore" doesn't have you sprinting for yr Huggy Bear and Slampt records then you'd better check your pulse.  It's only right and proper that The Maxines are on K.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Not that Caravelles!

Even by 60s garage standards the intro to The Caravelles' "Lovin' Just My Style" delivers quite a wallop to the ears.  It must've driven the teens of Phoenix, Arizona out of their minds whenever it came on the radio and it's just as well the group built some breathers into it or they would've expired after its 3 minutes and 17 seconds!  With lines like "Give me your mitts girl and we'll go tripping together" you know The Caravelles were not the kind of boys to take back home to yr folks (unlike their namesakes!).  An impression that is only enhanced by the, ahem, off-colour subject matter of the b-side!  "Lovin'..." featured on Pebbles, Volume 8 and was reissued on 7" about a decade ago by Dionysus.  I just snagged a copy of the reissue so the residents of Glasgow might want to take a trip doon the watter or at the very least wear  industrial strength ear-defenders for the next few days...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Sunny Day Blue

"Your love illuminates my world with sunlight"

Getting to sleep is going to be tricky tonight thanks to the bout of giddiness brought on by securing a mint copy of this little ray of sunshine pop.  I became more than a little obsessed with 'Sunny Day Blue' a few weeks back after hearing the above clip, my interest in Fargo having been piqued by the coincidence of seeing a picture of their lp in two musically astute friends' online photo albums on the same day.  To these ears it's as good as anything committed to vinyl by Curt Boettcher or any of his contemporaries*. I adore its little diamante guitars and its air of complete wholesomeness. I'm willing to lay serious money on the fact that just listening to it is making me healthier not only mentally but physically; like it's helping me produce some much needed vitamin D.  Big thanks are due to T and K for unwittingly pointing me in Fargo's direction!

* That I've heard, that is.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Bob and Gene had very nice labels!

Had I been scouring the 7" bins at record stores in the US when Bob and Gene's Mo Do Records 45s were originally released I would surely have snapped them up on the basis of the graphic design of their labels alone.  I don't own any of the singles but the Bob and Gene cd on Daptone wisely employed the same exquisite label design:

The music itself is pretty nifty, too.  'Sailboat', in particular, is a pleasing small scale shuffler that's not unlike a slightly muffled, less parpy take on Archie Bell and The Drells'Tighten Up'

I could look (and have looked!) at record labels for hours on end.  Northern Soul scene stalwart Chalky has a nice gallery with over a thousand scans of labels from his collection including  this Bob and Gene original.  Next time the rain's battering down outside (like...ooh...tonight!) I recommend pouring yourself a cuppa and spending a wee while picking your own favourite label.

The Orchids "The Way That You Move"

Any fool knows that The Orchids were one of the very best groups to grace Sarah Records' majestic discography.  What this fool didn't know until a few minutes ago was that their new single on Pebble Records is a sombre disco gem!  I've long believed that The Orchids were one of the few guitar pop groups to truly successfully incorporate dance elements into their sound.  'The Way That You Move' may turn out to be their best stab at it yet - just listen to that Northern Soul inspired bassline on the intro and that resplendent little disco guitar motif that pops up about two and a half minutes in and again at 3:51!  Fans of Club 8 and ridiculously brilliant fellow Swedes Korallreven* will be sent spinning like a mirrorball by this single.  Various Orchids had the good sense to be present at the recent Indietracks warm-up at The Captain's Rest.  If I'd known their new single was this good I would've hugged each one of them in turn.

* - any excuse to link to 'The Truest Faith' has to be grabbed!

My Fantoms

Looking at the obscenely tall stack of records and cds I've bought over the last wee while, it would appear that I've forgotten that we're still in the grip of a serious economic downturn and that energy prices are rising faster than the perfect soufflé.  Oops!  One of the cds that's been popped from the stack (warning: that was a computer 'joke'!) most frequently has been 'My Fantoms', the debut album by Hong Kong In The 60s.  Right now 'Sofly Sung' is my favourite from it.  Mei Yau Kan's sighing vocal is both intimate and a little blank but blank in the best conceivable way, the way that moves you.  The drum machine plays out its vaguely bossa nova rhythm with the sound of little beads clacking together and the guitar line encourages you to sway like you've just come out of the sea but can still feel its motion.  Just lovely.  'All At Sea' is equally brilliant, its every element classy, seductively subdued and designed to win the heart through sheer prettiness.  As S in Monorail (time to update that front page, kids!) pointed out when I bought it, there's a mid to late period Sarah Records feel to some of 'My Fantoms' (I'd say especially in some of the bass guitar and in the spaciousness, think Brighter or The Field Mice/Trembling Blue Stars) while at others it sounds like they've been stretched out on a beach towel next to The High Lllamas listening to the Beach Boys on a portable record player.  I'd like to cut out and keep so many of the little keyboard lines in an audio scrapbook and I suspect that a bunch of them could earn the group jobs with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop were it ever to reopen.  Fans of Still Corners, Broadcast and the aforementioned groups are urged to sample then buy the album!

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Higher State / Paul Messis

Last weekend had long been reserved in Not Unloved's calendar for The Big Stramash so it was a real disappointment when it was postponed, no doubt due to a waterlogged pitch (this being Scotland after all!).  The Wee Stramash that took its place on Friday night, however, still featured at least one band worth zipping along the M8 for: The Higher State. Any group featuring former members of The Embrooks and The Mystreated had to be worth a peek and so it proved.  With the young Ray Davies on bass (or was it Richard or Thomas Frost?) and a Carnaby St. croupier on drums (former Embrook, Mole) they chimed and jangled their way through a dozen or so 60s rooted pop winners that got the winklepickers tapping and cheered the soul.  Their friend and label-mate Paul Messis stood to their left manning the merchandising boutique, swaying and looking for all the world like a young Chris Montez at his most dapper.  I left with 3 of his singles as well as The Higher State's most recent cd.  It's particularly pleasing to finally have this perky slice of period perfect jangle on 7" vinyl after having enjoyed the YouTube clip for so long:

Inexplicably, the two local groups who supported, Uncle Dad and the even worse named Dick Dangerous and The Love Bastards, seemed to find more favour with the local audience.  Both were less easy on the eye than The Higher State - a bearded saxophonist in black three quarter length cargo pants is never acceptable - and considerably rawer.  Still, the singer from Dick D did sport eyebrows like little orbit quiffs and Uncle Dad did serviceable rawhide renditions of songs by The Cramps and The Honeycombs and it's always a treat to see people actually dancing while groups are playing.  The only real down-side of the evening was spotting on a discarded setlist that The Higher State had been planning to end on Southwest F.O.B.'s timeless "The Smell of Incense" but couldn't due to the organisers calling time.  I'm sure that would've been quite something.