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.

Guitar overdose!

Not Unloved's favourite guitar pop records of the moment:

"Ariana" by Mercury Girls (Slumberland 7")

Yet another classic single from Slumberland.  It's unimaginable that there will ever come a time when  a record such as "Ariana" won't be met with rejoicing in these quarters.  Now that the sun has plucked up the courage to come out in Glasgow it sounds even more lustrous.

"Your Boyfriend's Girlfriend" by Pale Spectres (self-released cdep)

Pale Spectres played one of my favourite Indietracks sets ever with each song seemingly more charming and boasting a more memorable guitar line than the last.  "Your Boyfriend's Girlfriend" makes good on the promise of that set.  It's just a shame that National Pop League is no more as it would have sounded glorious at volume in of the Woodside Social as the condensed sweat of a hundred dancers dripped down the walls.

"Buy This Record" by Nic Hessler & EZTV (Captured Tracks 7")

There seems to be an exponential decline in the goodwill of record shop regulars towards Record Store Day but I'll be happy for it to continue if at least a few of the future exclusive releases are as great as Nic and EZTV'S Milk'n'Cookies covers 7" or Burger Records' public service vinyl compendium of the slim but joyful output of early 80s group The MnMs.  It would appear that neither record made it to the UK in any significant numbers so there was a wee windfall for the Post Office when it became apparent that I needed both.