Monday, 31 December 2012

Monday, 24 December 2012

To Here Knows When

One of my formative musical experiences was hearing My Bloody Valentine's "To Here Knows When" on what that wag Mark Radcliffe so dismissively/affectionately calls 'tin pot local radio'.  When it nudged its way into the Top 40 all those dismal local commercial stations which would never dream of playing it had to.  Almost uniformly, the patterned jumpered patter merchants presenting the chart rundowns registered their disgust at having to do so, dismissing it as indie nonsense.  It was a real them and us moment and it was brilliant.  It was so great that something so beautiful and so abstract had infiltrated the polished, ugly world of chart radio.  It was even better that it wound people up.  My Bloody Valentine's version still sounds like the future and still sounds like it would be too radical for your average dud,  local radio station DJ.  I doubt if Rachel Zeffira's thoughtful reworking will fare any better in that world.  When I first heard that someone - to my discredit, I'd forgotten that Rachel was one of the prime movers in Cat's Eyes - had covered it with orchestral instruments, I feared that it may sound a bit John Lewis Christmas advert and the piano intro did have me a bit worried on that score.  However, it's not whimsical, kooky or cynically heart-tugging.  It's intelligent, extremely pretty and retains much of the mystery and romance of the original.  It's on her lp and was the b-side of a recent 7".  I'm going to play the 45 one more time and then dig out that dazzling Pluramon lp which features Julee Cruise.  That'll keep things elusive.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Not Unloved's favourite LPs and 7"s of 2012

Each December I plan to use the Arthur Russell 'first thought, best thought' approach to compiling my 'best' of year record lists.  Invariably, however, I don't and end up deliberating over it for longer than is decent or even necessary.  This is in part due to trying to balance artistic significance (yeah, I know, what lofty ambitions!) with pure enjoyment.  This year I've jettisoned the artistic significance criterion - I haven't really had much space in my brain for this level of critical thought of late - so the lists below are comprised of the records I enjoyed the most and the most often in 2012.  One thing's for sure and that is that I'll hear something that should've made one of the lists before the year's out - most likely the debut Garlands lp or the Rachel Zeffira album, both of which I've shamefully not picked up yet.


  1. Lightships "Electric Cables" (Geographic)
  2. Tender Trap "Ten Songs About Girls" (Fortuna Pop/Slumberland)
  3. Shonen Knife "Pop Tune" (Damnably)
  4. Terry Malts "Killing Time" (Slumberland)
  5. Evans The Death "s/t" (Fortuna Pop/Slumberland)
  6. Chain and The Gang "In Cool Blood" (K)
  7. Tenniscoats "All Aboard" (Chapter Music)
  8. Sea Pinks "Freak Waves" (CF/Recs)
  9. The Wake "A Light Far Out" (LTM)
  10. Scott and Charlene's Wedding "Para Vista Social Club" (Bedroom Suck)
  11. Echo Lake "Wild Peace" (No Pain In Pop/Slumberland)
  12. Death and Vanilla "s/t" (Hands In The Dark)
  13. Sweater Girls "Sweater Girls Were Here" (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)
  14. Woollen Kits "s/t" (R.I.P. Society)
  15. Roy Montgomery "Music From The Film Hey Badfinger" (Yellow Electric)

  1. September Girls "Green Eyed" (Soft Power)
  2. Violet Woods "Raw Love" (Great Pop Supplement)
  3. King Tuff "Wild Desire" (Suicide Squeeze)
  4. Allo Darlin' "Capricornia" (Fortuna Pop/Slumberland)
  5. English Singles "Backstreet Pages" (Slumberland)
  6. Ringo Deathstarr "Rip" (Club AC30)
  7. Aggi Doom "Bring Me The Head" (Soft Power)
  8. Picnic "We've Only Just Begun" (Shelflife)
  9. Meat Thump "Box of Wine" (Negative Guest List)
  10. The Twerps "Work It Out" (The Passport Label)
  11. Black Tambourine "OneTwoThreeFour" (Slumberland)
  12. The See See "Gold and Honey" (Great Pop Supplement)
  13. The Resonars "Long, Long Thoughts" (Trouble In Mind)
  14. Roommates "Winnifred" (Slumberland)
  15. Southern Comfort "Silver and Gold" (Black Petal)
^ click the title to hear the song!

By and large, the records on both lists are maybe a little more direct (as typified by, say, the King Tuff single) than those on 2011's which were themselves pretty direct and pretty pop.  It's increasingly about the instant rushes, I guess.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


A couple of months ago the unbelievably still improving Veronica Falls asked via Facebook and Twitter for suggestions of songs they should cover.  The Changing Times' "Cry" was Not Unloved's suggestion:

Has there ever been a janglier intro?  I doubt they'll ever record it which is a wee shame as I reckon they'd do a smashing version of it.

("Cry" appears on Texas Flashbacks Volume 4)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Gentlemen

"Gangnam Style"?  No thanks. I prefer Vandan style!

Sheets and sheets of prime fuzz!  "It's A Cry'n Shame" must've melted radios in the mid-Sixties.  The lyrics are pure teen frustration ("Why do I love you?  You don't feel the same") while the guitar solo could carve the name of the uninterested girl into a science class desk.  It's available on Norton's "Fort Worth Teen Scene Volume 3" (that's where Not Unloved first encountered it) and on 7" via Garage Greats.  Blistering!

Sadly, Norton Records' warehouse was badly affected by flooding as a result of Superstorm Sandy and they lost a heap of stock.  This coming Wednesday there's a fundraiser at Mono featuring The New Piccadillys and a bunch of other like minded groups.  Full details below.  Well done the organisers!

Friday, 14 December 2012

You can make me dance...

Thanks to the release of his autobiography, Rod Stewart has been fairly ubiquitous on UK TV and in the papers of late.  He even showed up in Glasgow and, touchingly, shed a tear or two when Celtic FC beat Barcelona a few weeks back.  If the truth be told, however, Rod's presence was felt round these parts rather a lot just prior to all of that.  For years I've really liked "You Wear It Well" and "Maggie May" but never bothered to buy them or make any effort to hear anything else.  Then, one evening in late autumn, BBC Radio Scotland played this:

It was The Faces' final single (credited to Faces/Rod Stewart) 38 years ago and I was totally taken aback by just how much I flipped for it.  After all, I'd spent the last two decades studiously avoiding most of the established rock canon. Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised, however.  Didn't John Peel say repeatedly that The Faces were the greatest live band he ever saw?  The appeal of  "You Can Make Me Dance..." lies in its loose feel and the way the guitars seem precision tooled for maximum sway but that, importantly, it isn't weighed down by a needless/endless blokey guitar solo.  You can dance to it, too - it's practically disco!  Rod's vocal is amazing; all those casual asides and exclamations are brilliant.  He plays the role of the rogue with the glint in his eye to perfection.  By the time the prancing strings come in at the end, I'm not just dancing but punching the air.  I should've had the courage of my convictions and played the copy I bought in Brighton's Wax Factor at Monorail's 10th birthday party.  I wonder how well it would've gone down.  Mono's dancefloor probably wouldn't have been quite as heaving as somewhere like the Motherwell Miners' Welfare Club's over Christmas 1974.  Must've been glorious!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Volcanic Tongue's Holiday Blowout ! (15th Dec 2012)

Further evidence of the current healthy state of Glasgow's record shops came last week when Volcanic Tongue moved from its first home, one floor up way out west on Argyle Street, to bigger premises down The Hidden Lane.  Like Monorail Music, Volcanic Tongue is one of the Glaswegian cultural institutions for which I have genuine affection, one that makes this city a way more interesting place to be.  Proprietors David Keenan and Heather Leigh Murray are a tight, tight unit with an unbelievable knowledge of and zeal for the musics of the margins.  The shop reflects their singular view of what counts in music and art.  It celebrates the unique, the lone voices who do their own thing, the truly independent; there's no room on their racks for fakers, phonies or mere cool hunters!  A chat about music with them is like a conversation with a couple of wide-eyed gospel preachers turned mescaline-wired Beat writers.  You can't fail to get fired-up by their enthusiasm and their ability to articulate what makes a record work for them.  Their total commitment to and support for the things they love is truly admirable.  To celebrate the move to the new shop they're having a Holiday Blowout.  Full details here and on the poster below:  Looks like ace fun to me!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Monorail Music's 10th birthday

In a Brighton a few weeks ago I had a fun (we were wailing at each other above some polite folk music played at Stooges-appropriate volume) but ultimately gloomy conversation with the proprietor of Borderline Records.  While complimenting him on his shop - it's great, if you're in town it's well worth a visit - I told him that even now I judged a town or city by the quality of its record shops.  His resigned response was that it was just as well that I had come in 2012 as Borderline and some of the other independents may not be there in 2013 due to the harsh trading conditions and proposed rate rises by the City Council.  When I said, "How will I judge towns when all the record shops have gone?", he replied, "They'll all just be shit, won't they?".  It may have been a bit melodramatic, but he was right.  Given this, the recent 10th birthday of Stephen Pastel and Dep Downie's much cherished Monorail Music seems even more like something worth celebrating.  

When Monorail Music opened in 2002, I couldn't have been happier.  Glasgow was in desperate need of somewhere for people to buy new independent records.  John Smith's bookshop had closed their fabulous record department and Missing Records wasn't what it had been.  There was talk for a while of Rough Trade opening a shop in the west end but those plans foundered due in part, I believe, to Glasgow's prohibitive business rates.  I've been a regular customer since it opened and it's impossible to overstate just what a positive influence it's had on my life.  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that it's been good for my mental health over the years.  The staff are uniformly lovely and have become friends and I've lost count of the number of brilliant records which each of them has brought into my life.  One of the things I love about Monorail Music is that it's spotless; it's the kind of place where you want to spend time.  The records are displayed lovingly (card stiffeners, plastic sleeves, not crammed into the racks) and the staff handle them respectfully - none of them has ever cockily slam-dunked my precious vinyl into the bag.  For me, Monorail Music makes Glasgow a better place to live and, if the testimonies from the many bands (Crystal Stilts, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Vivian Girls etc.) and friends from out of town are any guide, a better place to visit.

Last night Monorail took over Mono and held a party to celebrate its first decade.  It was a great occasion.  It felt like most everyone who should have been there, was and was smiling.  There was a real feeling of a community coming together and I, for one, left with a renewed resolve to support Monorail Music and the culture I love so much.. After all, I'll never get excited by an mp3 the way I do for a perfect little 7" single.  A lovely evening of DJs (Monorail's own Mark Hillier and Russell Elder) and bands (a particularly eccentric/funny Richard Youngs, Moon Unit, Sacred Paws) culminated in a full on set by The Pastels.  Maybe it was the sound mix, but Katrina appeared to be really pounding her drums with venom.  "Baby Honey" was just colossal.  I was honoured (and I do mean 'honoured' because in a city like Glasgow there are lots of more talented, proper DJs who would have played wonderful sets) to be asked to play some records afterwards.  Here's what made it from my trusty "Buba Box" onto the turntables:

Chin Chin - Stop! Your Crying (53rd & 3rd)
September GirlsGreen Eyed (Soft Power)
The Tidal Waves Farmer John (HBC)
SpectrumHow You Satisfy Me (Silvertone)
The Gentle TouchBe Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy (Kapp)
Woollen Kits Out of Town (R.I.P. Society)
The Revolving Paint DreamFlowers In The Sky (Creation)
Bettye SwannLonely Love (Money)
Ortheia Barnes –  Never Ever Leave Me (Kent)
The Concretes You Can’t Hurry Love (Licking Fingers/EMI)
The White WiresPretty Girl (Trouble In Mind) <--- on loan from the lovely Soft Power kids - thanks G & B, you rule!
Lung LegMaid To Minx (Southern)
The Balloon Farm A Question of Temperature (Laurie)
Charles DouglasSummertime (Great Pop Supplement)
Heaven Bound - He'd Rather Have The Rain (MCA)
Lisa Miller The Loneliest Christmas Tree (Canterbury)
The Mynah Birds It’s My Time (Motown)
Redd KrossSuper Sunny Christmas (Waterfront)
Jeff PerryLove Don’t Come No Stronger (Go Ahead)
Rainy DayI’ll Keep It With Mine (Rough Trade)

I had planned to finish on Joan Jett and The Blackhearts' "I Love Rock and Roll" but Russell got the timing just right and dropped it just as The Pastels took to the stage.  Thanks to everyone who said kind, supportive things about my selections - it was very kind of you!  The Tidal Waves' rowdy, frat-rocking take on "Farmer John" sounded particularly great turned way up loud.

Happy birthday Monorail Music!  Thanks for being there for the last 10 years.  Lang may yer lum reek!!!

Read my pal Krister's thoughts on Monorail Music over at Record Turnover,

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Southern Comfort "Silver and Gold"

Time for some great buzzing Paisley pop!

Yet more essential, non-standard (no drums! no bass!) pop music from Australia, this time from Circle Pit's Angie Bermuda and Harriet Hudson.  "Silver and Gold" should be lovingly embraced by admirers of both Dum Dum Girls' downer harmonies and The Garbage and The Flowers' scorched tape arc-welding of the Velvets to Sonic Youth.  Unfortunately, Black Petal only had 265 copies pressed so it seems destined to be another of those 45s that appears on mailorder lists briefly and then just vanishes.  For instance, it went 'out of stock' almost instantaneously when Volcanic Tongue listed it.  There's an almost complete - it's also available in the UK via Infinte Limits - list of stockists on the Black Petal website.  Now to turn the stereo up to indecent and give Circle Pit's rollicking Siltbreeze lp a long overdue spin!

Monday, 26 November 2012


To Not Unloved, April March is best remembered for her extra cute take on Chantal Goya's extra sweet "Mon Ange Gardien" released on magnificent 10" vinyl on Bertrand Burglat's extra suave Tricatel label in the late 90s.  Around the same time, however, she supplied extra bratty vocals to Bassholes' extra crunchy version of E.S.G.'s hovering new wave classic "Moody" (on Long Gone John's Sympathy For The Record Industry).  As is so often the case, however, I was totally unaware of this fact.  I really must pay better attention.  Thanks to the twin titans of YouTube and ebay I now not only know of its existence but have a copy although I got nowhere near the same thrill sending a few pounds via PayPal to an anonymous seller as I did when chancing upon that Chris Stamey 7" in the "70s Oddities" section of Wax Factor.

Update: I've just noticed that among the lyrics to "Moody" are the words 'emerald', 'sapphire' and 'gold' - the e, s and g of the group's name.  How could I not have noticed that in the decade or more since I bought that amazing Soul Jazz E.S.G. compilation?  I really must pay better attention!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Violet Woods "Raw Love"

On a recent work trip to Cambridge I asked my musically inclined colleagues the usual question, "Are there any good groups from round here that I should be listening to?".  Without exception, they all answered with an emphatic "No".  A few weeks on, however, and thanks to The Great Pop Supplement, I now know that they were all wrong as Violet Woods' debut 7" is a thing of easy beauty.  Both "Raw Love" and its flip "Cyanide Suns" are small screen psychedelic pop wonders that lack any of the self-conscious seriousness and overbearing heaviness that mars so many modern pysch records.  Both sides have the lovely looseness of Former Bullies but also the succinct jangliness of The See See.  Amazingly, both sides also feature guitar solos that can be enjoyed and not merely endured.  "Raw Love" is bound to find a spot in Not Unloved's top 10 singles of the year.  Love it!

Glaswegians: Monorail still has some copies - get on it!

Chris Stamey "The Summer Sun"

Ten days ago in Brighton I had one of those giddy moments that makes seeking out the record shop(s) in whichever town or city you visit totally worth all the effort.  A recent tweet from @Team Slumber (aka Mike Schulman of Slumberland Records) reminded* me of Chris Stamey's sublime, Alex Chilton produced, "The Summer Sun".  As it was released in 1977 on a label I'd never heard of (Ork Records), it wasn't the kind of record I thought I'd ever stumble upon, but stumble upon it, I did - in the bulging racks of Wax Factor.  It felt like some divine being had hidden it there just for me to find!  It was such a great surprise that I actually felt a tingle of adrenalin in my hands as I picked it up and took it to the counter.  Being a condition extremist, I quizzed the shop assistant about its condition and nearly had an attack of the vapours when he said that it was Mint but that I could give it a spin on the shop deck to check.  Mint it most definitely was.  The next time I play records in public it'll get an airing and as Chris Stamey's sings about the summer sun, I'll be daydreaming of walking back in the winter sun to my Brighton hotel with a smile on my face and a diamond in my bag.  Long live record shops!

* - 'Reminded' because the ever astute Did Not Chart wrote about it on his previous blog fireescapetalking.  I read the posting and resolved to hear it but, like a proper chump, promptly forgot to.  From the comments, I see that it's Harvey Williams' favourite record.  Smart man!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Heaven Bound

Gaylord Fields' on stage introductions to the various acts at Saturday's Chickfactor show were smashing.  In fact, he was a warm, funny and endearingly enthusiastic presence throughout the weekend and his sunshine pop selections upstairs in The Lexington on Sunday were real heart-swellers.  The only one which I plucked up the courage to ask him about turned out to be by Heaven Bound - a 1971 group who recorded songs by Roger Nichols and Neil Young amongst others.  Happily, their records can be bought for sums which don't have you living on beans till payday; £1.49 + p&p was all it took to secure a 45 of "He'd Rather Have The Rain":

If ever a song was destined to be enjoyed by Duglas T Stewart, it's this one!  It would make a terriffic BMX Bandits b-side, I reckon.

Something's Gone

Recently, when it looked like redundancy might be a very real prospect, I did the immature, counter-intuitive thing and went on a bit of a trolley dash, snapping up a bunch of records that I figured I wouldn't be able to afford if I lost my job.  I knew at the time that it was probably a bit silly and that the smart thing would be to look after my money but, I guess, we all deal with uncertainty in different ways.  One of the (many - whoops!) 7"s I bought was an (allegedly) unplayed copy of this Seymour Stein produced masterwork from 1968:

"Something's Gone" was new to me when I heard it play over the closing credits of Paul Kelly's "Take Three Girls" nearly a year ago but its melody lived on way beyond the curtains closing in the cinema and I'd frequently catch myself singing it in the car or on lunchtime walks so finding a nice copy felt imperative.  It came, therefore, as a sweet and moving surprise to hear The Pastels quoting its plaintive "Something's gone from my heart" refrain in "Over My Shoulder", which closed their immensely beautiful Chickfactor: For The Love Of Pop set at London's Bush Hall on Saturday.  Special moments like that, the blistering, beercan slide enhanced rendition of "Baby Honey" and hearing a new song (yes!) - its title has gone already in a haze of return-to-work blues - sure justified the trip down from Glasgow .  Their new album is pencilled in for March, 2013.  If that thought doesn't see you through the winter, I fear nothing will.

Update: horsemeatpie's cool photo of The Pastels' setlist reveals that the new song was called "Come To The Dance".  Sweet.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

XXOO "How Will I Know"

Jad Fair earned a place in my affections courtesy of his two dazzling collaborations with The Pastels.  Singing the entirety of "This Could Be The Night" loudly in my best approximation of Jad's voice was for years one of the simplest, most satisfying pleasures in my life.  By the early 90s Jad and his group Half Japanese had already amassed a sizeable catalogue of releases so I bought a few but suspected that I'd never have either the money or the opportunity to own too many more.  The good thing about only having bits and pieces is that there's still plenty of wonderful Jad records left to discover.  For example, I recently stumbled across "How Will I Know" by XXOO  (1982, Press Records) which, it turned out, was a pseudonym for Half Japanese.  It's quickly become one of my favourite of Jad's releases.  It has some of the most brilliantly naive lyrics about love:

"How will I know when I'm really in love?
 Will I hear bells rings?
 Will my heart pound hard?"

They really belong on, say, a pre-Beatles Shelley Fabares 45 but when put with a stumbling backing that is pure early K Records tape, the result is completely charming.

I love the way it winds down like a clockwork toy running out of energy.  I plan to play the copy that arrived today lots.  I don't know if XXOO meant kiss kiss hug hug in 1982 but the next time Jad comes to Glasgow, that's what he'll get as a thank you for this single.


Peach Kelli Pop's debut lp sounded like an attempt to express musically the sensation of scoffing a whole bag of Tooty Frooties and then swigging a load of cheap cherryade.  Unfortunately, Not Unloved was too tardy to the party to secure a copy of it on vinyl.  Hopefully, that won't happen with lp number 2 which seems to be imminent.  "Dreamphone", the first track to reach these ears from it, is as pinky blue as anyone could wish for:

 Giddiness and glockenspiels abound!  It's the perfect antidote to the adult world; take at least twice daily.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Radio song.

It's no doubt a function of a) my advancing years, b) my listening to more football than music radio (see d), c) the passing of John Peel and d) non-digital music radio (i.e. other than BBC6 Music) in the UK feeling like a bit of a wilderness that means that I rarely get to experience that once common feeling of hearing a song on the radio and being so smitten with it that I feel compelled to lose my dignity and enthuse about it to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be within wailing distance.  It was a sweet surprise, therefore, when this Melody's Echo Chamber song was played on BBC Radio Scotland earlier this evening:

From the number of YouTube views, it's not the new thing but I'm ok with that. I don't need to be first, I just need to fall in love.  Although it sounds nothing like Strawberry Switchblade's shining "Since Yesterday", it provoked in me the same desire; the desire to spin.  Which is great, I guess, because you're not worrying about the world when you're spinning.  "I Follow You" features one of the loosest, most soulful guitar solos of recent times.  That it sounds like it's been scratched-out like a photographic negative towards the end only serves to make me love it all the more.  A nice reminder, therefore, of when 'radio friendly' was a good thing.  A reminder, too, that having other people choose what you listen to for a while can enrich your life.

The Aislers Set in Glasgow! (19/11/2012)

Way back when fanzines seemed like the only way to express just how much you loved a group's music, I wrote that if The Aislers Set ever came to Glasgow, I would arrange a ticker-tape parade in Amy Linton's honour.  Of course, that was the hollow rhetoric of a boy with a deep love of Amy's previous group Henry's Dress who never expected it to actually happen.  When, miraculously - or so it seemed at the time! - The Aislers Set showed up in Glasgow, first with Stevie Jackson at Nice'n'Sleazy and then with The Tall Boy at The Woodside Social, I was there each time, grinning like I'd just had my teeth whitened and was mad keen to show them off.  I didn't, however, throw a ticker-tape parade for Amy.  To tell the truth, I've always felt a bit of a fake for not doing so - I hate it when, as is so often the case, my words aren't backed up by actions.  Luckily, I've got another chance to arrange a ticker-tape parade as, in a remarkable turn of events - I'd thought the group to be defunct! - Amy and co. are about to hit Glasgow once more:

Surely gig poster of the year so far!  It looks set to be another of those unmissable Mono evenings that warm you to your very core and fortify you for the days and weeks ahead.  Revisiting The Aislers Set's music since it was announced that they would be coming to the UK has been one of the purest joys of recent months and, as expected, it transpires that I still love Amy's music with every part of my heart.

Full details of the show can be read here.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

In The Garden

Today's challenge: name a prettier 60s tune than Triste Janero's airy, jazz-flecked"In The Garden":

...I knew you couldn't!  With a honeyed tone pitched midway between Tracey Thorn's and Debsey Wykes's, my heart was always going to flip for Barbara Baines's voice.  Original White Whale issue copies in Not Unloved friendly condition go for around the 50 pound mark so I had to plump for a second hand copy of the Jazzman reissue which coupled it with the nowhere near as lovable "Baby True" by Gettysburg Address and was mine for a much more modest 2 pounds*.  Joe Foster's Rev-ola reissued the group's "Meet..." lp on cd a few years ago (although it doesn't appear in this discography, for some reason).  I saw it in Monorail but somehow it never quite rose to the top of my lust list so I don't own it.  I'll rectify that someday, I'm sure.

Read more about Triste Janero here

* - It was actually the second time I'd bought it. Unfortunately, however, the first copy was lost in the post - just one of the many drawbacks of buying records mailorder.

Monday, 15 October 2012

September Girls (again!)

Magic multiplies when it comes into contact with vinyl so I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of some September Girls vinyl after enjoying them so much on tape and cd-r. Both are fine formats, of course, but somehow neither has vinyl's mysterious power to multiply.  "Green Eyed" b/w "Danny Wood" is nearly here - it's out on 22nd October - and it's as bold and dramatic as it is pretty.  With a melody of pure end of summer sadness swept along by a powerful fuzz undertow it's the kind of song you don't tell people about so much as evangelise about - really, I'm only 3 plays away from having a sandwich board made, booking a week off work and parading up and down Argyle Street to make the people of Glasgow sit up and take notice of September Girls.  It also just happens to be book-ended by just about the most resplendent guitar nugget I've heard in 2012; just too much.  The accompanying video is worth a spin, too:

Almost makes you nostalgic for pre-smoking ban gigs.  And those sections with the overlaid faces, Loop and Spacemen 3 woulda walked over hot coals for visuals that cool.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Delores Hall "Good Lovin' Man"

There could be hard times ahead so Not Unloved is stockpiling records with the fervour of a mad-eyed doomsday cultist preparing for The Armageddon.  Delores Hall's knockabout "Good Lovin' Man" was bought in haste after hearing it on Patrick Foisy's amusingly named Parka Avenue blog but it's such a fun, zesty record that there will certainly be no repenting at leisure.

Unplayed Keymen Records originals are kicking about on ebay for around the tenner mark.  Considering that a lot of soul reissues cost roughly that these days it's worth a punt, I'd say.

Brenda Ray is my new heroine

It's true to say that I know practically diddly about dub, reggae and lovers rock.  I do know one thing, however, and that's that Brenda Ray's music has been heard more than anyone else's round these parts of late.  The groundwork for her "Walatta" cd (recently reissued by EM Records of Japan) was probably laid almost a year ago to the week by Hollie Cook's stunning Glasgow show and impeccable debut album. "Walatta" really should have been reissued by Heavenly Recordings as Brenda's voice puts me in mind of Dot Allison (both solo and with her stupendous group One Dove) or her Heavenly labelmate Sarah Cracknell at their breathy best. Come to think of it, "Another Dream" sounds exactly how I'd imagine a Saint Etienne dub single would sound:

Those spoken word sections are uncannily Sarah Cracknell-esque aren't they?  Quality-wise, "Walatta" is from the top drawer throughout with the tone being set right from the "Sweet Jane" shimmer of the intro to opening track and wafting pop masterpiece "Star Light":

Some dub heavyweights' names appear in the credits (Prince Far I, King Tubby etc.) and many of the sounds a novice like me would associate with dub records are present and correct (the forlorn melodica, the spring reverb and the odd vaguely rum-soaked sounding male singer) but, really, it's the softness of Brenda's voice and her lightness of touch as a producer which makes "Walatta" a record to obsess over.  It's hard not to feel a little more positively about life after a period of immersion in it.  Words like 'dream', 'sweet' and 'love' are recurrent and seep into your soul so that when on "D-I-Z-Z-E-E" she mildly suggests “Come on now and get unhinged, cos I am gonna make you swing” you're more than happy to get a little unhinged and have that second custard cream whilst dancing round the kitchen in the most understated way.  Life's good when Brenda's singing.

Coming soon to Not Unloved: Brenda Ray - D'ya Hear Me! Naffi Years 1979-83

[Glaswegians: Monorail has a bunch of copies of "Walatta" on cd just waiting to take away yr dreich autumn blues!]

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Rose Garden

Everybody needs friends, right?  Friends do nice things for each other don't they? Recently, a friend (thanks Krister, I owe you one!) did me a real favour by recommending this majestic song:

Listen to that opening section - it's like early Clientele in its infinite, dreamy softness!  From then on it just gets all emotional and rushes on a Dillard & Clark run with little vocal touches that spark thoughts of how Glasgow's The Orchids frequently manage to hit heights of pure feeling that few other groups could ever hope to reach.  These days, when I hear a new 60s song, a quick check of ebay usually reveals that I'll need to part with a small fortune to buy  it on original vinyl.  This time, however, original copies don't cost too much and are pretty easy to come by.  My 'unplayed' DJ copy cost a mere 8 US dollars plus postage.   When it arrives  there's absolutely no chance that it won't be the highlight of that day and most likely the week.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Wake "A Light Far Out"

This posting is tinged with guilt.  Guilt, because it should have been written 4 months ago when the cd was actually released.  That it has taken so long to for me to write about The Wake's latest album should in no way be taken as evidence of any lack of excitement about it - I did rush to Glasgow's Monorail Music to buy it on the day of release, after all!  I guess life just got in the way.  "A Light Far Out"(LTM) is wonderful; the best record to feature extensive use of synthesizers I've heard in a long time.  So many of the songs are given an extra touch of feeling by using the synth not as a carrier of melody but as a provider of emotional depth.  The cherished elements from previous releases are still present: Caesar's youthful vocals, some Peter Hook-inspired bass and lots of perky guitar-lines that warm the heart.  We're not talking about some facsimilie of past glories here, mind.  At times there is the pitter pat of laptop beats and on "Starry Days" a tender piano that locates the song somewhere on the Rive Gauche in the rain in 1968.  It features Carolyn Allen's sole lead vocal.  And what a vocal; so intimate, every word beautifully enunciated.  It's a real highpoint of the record as is the title track whose intro approaches The Field Mice's luminous  "Quicksilver" for tender wonder (it's those synths - so pretty, so loaded).  At 9 minutes 10 seconds and with seaside sounds, it's not your standard pop song but every single second of it is necessary and welcome.  I'd assumed The Wake to be defunct a good decade ago, Caesar and Carolyn devoting their time to their theatre company 12 Stars and to intermittently making sublime records with The Field Mice's Bobby Wratten as The Occasional Keepers (one of that group's songs, "If The Ravens Leave", is present here).  I'm so glad I assumed wrongly.

Recently, The Wake have been sharing demos, alternate versions and live tracks on their Soundcloud page.  It's an object lesson in how to use that site and well worth bookmarking.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Little Miss Love

For a brief wee while I was the owner of this 60s fuzz/jangle belter on vinyl.  The Road Runners retrospective on which it appears was listed recently in the sale section of an online store so I placed an order with a real rush of excitement only to get the deflating 'out of stock' email a few days later. Ah well, it would only have caused more stomping around the living room and general over-heating so maybe I've saved myself a heart attack and my downstairs neighbours a few nights of raised blood pressure.  Still, it would have sounded phenomenal at volume so I can't help feeling a little...bereft.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Michael Clark

Just bought a ticket to see Michael Clark at Glasgow's Tramway in early October.  The last time I saw Clark and his dance troupe in Edinburgh was one of the most eye-opening, opinion altering nights of my life. I wrote this for an extremely limited circulation fanzine at the time:

“Kinetic Freedom”

Whenever I play Pastels/Tenniscoats’ sublime take on The Jesus and Mary Chain’s tender ‘About You’ I see shapes. Thankfully, it’s not a symptom of some kind of synesthesia but a remembrance of the lovely sequence in 12 Stars’ play ‘Do I Mean Anything To You Or Am I Just Passing By?’ in which the cast repeatedly adopted beautifully simple shapes in time to ‘About You’ to genuinely moving effect. Prior to that play, theatre and contemporary dance both seemed impenetrable to me. They just didn’t seem like the kind of worlds a pop obsessed football fan from Ayrshire should enter. Then The Pastels got involved in a play and I unexpectedly found myself in a theatre! And while I didn’t fully understand everything that went on, I knew conclusively that I could feel comfortable in a theatre.

Watching Michael Clark’s dancers twist and leap thrillingly to Bowie’s ‘Jean Genie’ from the heaving stalls of The Playhouse in Edinburgh last Sunday I was thankful that The Pastels had enticed me over the threshold of a theatre as without that first step I would’ve missed out on something special. As for ‘About You’, I hope those moves were captured on film as I’d love to see them again. J and I both reckon that they could’ve added up to a neat little dance video for the song. Maybe one day some shaky footage will find its way onto YouTube. After all in these digital days you never know who’s sitting there with their wee Fuji Finepix sneakily filming away do you?

There's a great little documentary on Michael Clark here.  The section to "Heroes" was incredible.

The ripples of that night in Edinburgh were felt recently when I attended the Juiliard Dance School's at times astounding show, again at The Playhouse.  I really will be forever grateful that The Pastels tempted me into a theatre and opened up whole areas of culture that, up to that point, I could never see myself embracing.

Monday, 3 September 2012

The Third Booth "I Need Love"

"I Need Love" - the Independence reissue from '68, not, alas, the Thunder original from '67 - was bought largely on the strength of the vocal;.  It's one of the coolest vocals I've heard on a garage record so far; nearly as cool as that on The Harbinger Complex's untouchable "Sometimes I Wonder".  'Cool' usually feels like a cop-out adjective but on this occasion it seems like the most appropriate one.  The word 'need' may appear in the song's title but this fellow sure doesn't come across as desperate; I guess because he doesn't over-sing and when he does step things up,  it ends with a jaunty little 'hey hey'.  Certainly not the actions of a needy chap!  No, most of the hormonal need is in the music.  Check the intro or the last 20 seconds - it's a teenage boy's heartbeat when the object of his lust walks past wearing a tight sweater in musical form.  Brilliant record!  Of course, I prefer to picture The Third Booth as the dapper,  neat haired,  Byrds-like kids from the first picture in the clip above and not as the bearded longhairs of the second.  Again, it's all about coolness.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Bowles "Two Serious Men"

It may have been on the BBC4 documentary about the Belle Epoque photographs of Jacques Henri Lartigue that I heard the line (paraphrasing), "Photography is the only art form where one can accidentally create a masterpiece".  At the time it seemed like an astute comment but since then songs like "Two Serious Men" by the short-lived Australian group The Bowles have made me think otherwise.  It sounds like they just inserted a TDK D90 into a tape recorder, hit record and slightly nervously, slightly tentatively started to play. Somehow, though, what they produced is incredibly affecting and, I would contend, a masterpiece.  The fidelity may be low and there may be a bunch of mistakes left in but the sombre atmosphere and wobbly vocals combine with the lonely guitar line to produce one of the finest slices of home recording I've heard since the heady days of Lou Barlow's Sentridoh or early Hood.  It's the first track on the b-side of a recent 7" on Kye Records which isn't cheap at around £10 but, once I had heard it, I couldn't live without it.  I'm going to file it next to those breathtaking early Movietone singles.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

This Scarlet Train (reprise)

Recently Roque who runs Cloudberry Records wrote a blog posting about the mysterious This Scarlet Train so now seems a good time to post the article I wrote in late 2011 on that group's "Fimbria" for Great Shakes fanzine.  There's a second Not Unloved mention in 2 days for The Field Mice and Ken Sweeney aka Brian not to mention Cloudberry. Exciting.

Have you noticed how certain incredible records from the past seem to just disappear? How they are so seldom discussed and come up so infrequently for sale that they seem almost mythical. Their existence only acknowledged by the odd sparsely furnished webpage (including the obligatory dormant myspace page!) and appearances on collectors’ wants lists. Unfortunately, “Fimbria” by mid-‘80s Falkirk group This Scarlet Train (on Nightshift Records) would appear to be one of them. I stumbled across “Picture Frame” from it on YouTube a couple months ago whilst trying on crack Australian power-pop troupe The Someloves for size. I only clicked on the link because the sleeve image looked a bit mysterious like one of those early Slowdive e.p.s . Then I saw that the word ‘Falkirk’ and my interest was well and truly piqued. I was instantly smitten by its soft, sombre male vocals and the high definition jangling of its guitars. Being 2011, I hurried to each of my trusty online haunts fully expecting to land a copy: ebay, discogs, gemm, musicstack, etc.. Of these, only discogs had a page for the release but there were no copies for sale. Since then, slightly obsessively, I’ve checked each of these sites in turn at least once a day and…well, nothing. Not even a single absurdly exorbitant ebay listing. In 2011, this is decidedly unusual! For example, in the same period such elusive titles as The Sea Urchins’ “Pristine Christine” (Sarah 1!) and The Wee Cherubs’ “Dreaming” (The Holy Grail of Scottish Jangly Pop ©) have appeared for sale and have found new homes for the kind of sums that make you splutter out your coffee in shock - both in the region of £300.

The non-appearance of even a single battered copy for sale has prompted a bit of Miss Marple-ing on my part. I’ve quizzed a bunch of people who regularly played at and attended small gigs around the Central Belt of Scotland and even more who bought records by small Scottish independent groups in ‘86/’87 but nary a soul remembers them. Nightshift Records, who released “Fimbria” and who are best remembered for a bunch of Lowlife records, was presided over by Brian Guthrie, the brother of Cocteau Twins’ Robin so I asked a friend of Brian’s if he remembered the record but even he couldn’t recall it or them. All of which is a bit sad and undeserved as, from the YouTube clips, “Fimbria” is without doubt a classic record of its type. One that should have been treasured at the time by those who could see the beauty in the moodiness of The Wake when they were still a Factory Records group or those who found solace in the sensitive lyrics and cut crystal guitars of The Field Mice’s “Emma House”. Come to think of it, had “Picture Frame” or “Lilyhaze” seen a release on Sarah Records, I suspect that the story would have been very different. I’m sure they would have been viewed as among the strongest releases of a near flawless catalogue. I wonder if Matt Haynes or Clare Wadd ever heard "Fimbria"? It’s entirely possible that they did and that, as with Brian’s sublime “You Don’t Want A Boyfriend”, they’re kicking themselves to this day that they didn’t get to release it. Right now “Fimbria” is the record I want more than anything. It’s the one record that, should I find a copy in the right condition, could tempt me into financial recklessness (though definitely not of the £300 sort!). Since the internet hasn’t come up trumps, a tour round the charity shops of Falkirk and Stirling is in order. If that, too, draws a blank maybe I’ll pluck up the courage to sidle up to Brian Guthrie and ask him if he has any spares when he takes part in a panel at a Glasgow gallery in January 2012*. We’ll see. Hopefully one day “Fimbria” will get the same deluxe LTM Records re-master/reissue cd treatment as the albums of Lowlife, The Wake and The Field Mice. Mind you, at this point I’d settle for Cloudberry or Vollwert popping its 6 songs onto a stack of those dinky little 3.5” cd-rs as part of one of their respective archive series. Come on, make it happen!

*- Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I didn't make it to the panel discussion so didn't get to speak with Brian Guthrie.  If anyone has a contact email address please contact me on: lebrogues (at)

Earth First

Call the cops...Bobby Wratten's been robbed!  Actually, call the Garda, too - Ken Sweeney's been burgled an' all!  Of course, I'm only joking but just one listen to Earth First's "To The Night" (Cloudberry) and you could be forgiven for thinking that Bobby's or Ken's songbook had been pinched and that Ian Catt had been held hostage and made to lend his lightness of sonic touch to recording its contents*.  Still, that doesn't stop me from loving it.  I know it probably should,  that I should be demanding more innovation from my music but it's such a beautfiul, welcome sound that its lack of newness isn't an issue.  Also, it's not as if Earth First try to conceal their admiration for the aforementioned Wratten and Sweeney; they even declare:

Earth First is a bedroom pop project of Brian Castriota, inspired by the music of Keris Howard, Bobby Wratten, Ken Sweeney and other classic indie pop acts of the late 80s and early 90s.

Evidence of good taste and to be encouraged, I'd say!  "To The Night" may be an almost exact synthesis of Castriota's heroes' work but it's done with love and definitely not for financial gain as nobody every got rich copying The Field Mice did they?  I may not still be the soft-centred soul who fell in love with The Field Mice 20 odd years ago but I'll never not love that sound so I'll definitely buy a copy when it reaches the UK mail-order companies.

* - It was, in fact, Drew Driver of fellow Sarah Records enthusiasts Horse Shoes (and fellow Shelflife act Soda Shop) who fulfilled the Ian Catt role on "To The Night".

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Sacred Paws

There's an art to tagging songs on bandcamp.  You don't want to make them too dull/literal but you certainly don't want to make them too wacky.  You don't want them to pigeonhole your group nor do you want them to sound like a needy attempt to win cool points by associating your group with a bunch of hip genres.  It's a conundrum, for sure.  Sacred Paws sidestep these traps by tagging their brilliant "i n s t r u m e n t a l ((DEMO))" as "devotional freak out Glasgow".  Having seen them twice in the last week "devotional" is apt as their insistent, highlife resonant guitar shapes and punk rhythms induce a kind of shamanistic dance trance as your brain empties of all its workaday nonsense and focuses on just moving in time.  Sacred Paws is two thirds of Golden Grrrls - Eilidh Rodgers and Rachel Aggs (also of the wonderful Trash Kit) - and despite being only a year into their existence they already have enough memorable songs to send most of their more established peers back to the drawing board.  Their first release is a split tape/download (Comfort On A Tightrope) with Hannah Lew of Grass Widow.  Sacred Paws' songs are roughly recorded but diamonds all the same.  Hannah Lew covers The Mantles' much revered "Don't Lie".  Get on it!  Oh, and should they come anywhere near your house, you must make the effort to see them live.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Chickfactor 2012: For the love of pop! London

With Indietracks and the London Olympics both now (warming, nourishing) memories, Not Unloved was in dire need of something to look forward to.  Chickfactor's recently announced November weekend of pure pop joy. therefore, couldn't be more welcome.  Saturday, 17th November is shaping up to be a day to remember: The Pastels are my favourite group ever, Amor de Dias made my favourite lp of 2012 and Bush Hall looks like a smashing venue. Phew!  The Sunday line-up, too, is a studded with diamonds:  Tender Trap's new lp has been receiving great notices, Would-be-goods were classy and lovely at the Hangover Lounge weekender earlier this year and there's a rare chance to catch Pipas live.  Tickets are sure to shift quickly so best head here and here before too long for tickets!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Redd Kross

On Saturday, after a frankly ridiculous 20 years, thanks to the good Strange Vice folks' presentation at The Old Hairdressers, I finally saw the film with one of the best theme songs ever: Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.  As it turned out, Redd Kross's "Ballad of a Lovedoll" was by some distance the most accomplished and memorable thing about the film.  In exactly 2 minutes it manages to fit in some deliciously trashy dialogue ("Thanks for killing my mom. Hey, no problem"), blazing guitars, a super-infectious "luuuuvedolls" refrain, "Be My Baby" drums and an exuberant key change whereas the film's 59 minutes are filled with nothing but arch, deliberately poor acting and sub Valley of the Dolls moves.

Fizzier than a Wham Bar/Space Dust smoothie!  That was the Redd Kross of 1984 but if "Dracula's Daughters"* from their new lp for Merge, "Researching The Blues, is any guide, the Redd Kross of 2012 is still capable of crafting big, heart-swelling, melodic guitar pop.  If you're looking for me in the next half hour, I'll be sampling the rest of the lp to see if there's anything equally brilliant.

* - Hear it and rest of "Researching..." for the next wee while here.