Saturday, 26 May 2018

Thee Lakesiders

Not Unloved was, as is so often the case, slow on the uptake when it came to the classy soul/pop output of Big Crown Records. It was only when Lady Wray released her majestic "Queen Soul" lp in 2016 that it became unavoidable. Since then, of course, The Shacks have soundtracked an iPhone ad and released an ace debut lp (not to mention a run of wonderful 7"s, especially this charming li'l dancer), Paul & The Tall Trees released the sparse, brooding "I Explained It All" and Sunny & The Sunliners releases became mainstays of soul sections in the classier independent record shops. The quality of Big Crown's releases shows no sign of dropping-off any time soon if the debut 7" by Thee Lakesiders is any guide. Their name may hint at 60s garage orthodoxy - 'thee' is usually a giveaway, ain't it? - but "Parachute", the b-side of their debut single, is far more subtle and nuanced than that. A recumbent, floating affair with a sublime vocal and an undulating rhythm, it is tailor made for soundtracking warm summer evenings spent contemplating. The top side, "Si Me Faltaras Tu" is a far peppier affair. Sung in Spanish (duh!), it zips along in the verses before the multi-tracked vocals of the chorus crank things up a notch. Grindhouse film-makers need look no further for their next house band.


Big Crown, it would appear, are also releasing the debut lp by Bobby Oroza in 'late 2018'. In the meantime, they've had the good sense to reissue Bobby's stunning "This Love" single that got Not Unloved hot under the collar in May, 2017. A mandatory purchase for those who missed it first time round!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Clay Hips

Recently, Annika Records shared a couple of videos heralding the imminent arrival of the debut Clay Hips album. Dating back to his time in The Fairways (thanks to Kris from Record Turnover for the hint all those years ago!), Not Unloved has carried a torch for the work of Kenji Kitahama. His disarmingly gentle voice never fails to move and his way with a soothing, winsome melody is a rare gift. The vinyl is pretty darned limited - 300: 150 copies on grey vinyl (which have sold out) and 150 more on black vinyl - so if the videos below charm your soul, spark up yr PayPal and head here to order before the rest of the world cottons on.



While Kenji is in my thoughts, it's worth remembering that his group with Swede Erik Hanspers, The Young Tradition, combined the adorable sparkle of prime Choo Choo Train with the heart-swelling brass of Love to create one of thee all time great pop moments that, had it been released on vinyl, would have been one of the finest 45s in the history of that medium (a bold claim, but undeniably true!):

Friday, 1st June 2018 in Glasgow

As the years advance, I've become less and less able to make decisions. For example, choosing which record(s) to buy on any given visit to a record shop (or website, for that matter) has become increasingly difficult. The same applies to gigs. In Glasgow, there are often a couple of options to choose from on any given night and I struggle to decide which one to go to right up to doors open time. Given this, choosing what to go to on Friday, 1st June 2018 will be pretty tricky. I mean, just how does a self-confessed ditherer with my musical loves choose between the following?

The Pastels + Modern Studies + Andrew Wasylyk @ The Mackintosh Church
The Shacks @ Broadcast
The Scientists @ Nice'n'Sleazy
Vital Idles (album launch!) + Irma Vep + Current Affairs + Order of the Toad @ Mono

Each of these shows will be special and on any normal evening would be my gig of choice. The Pastels are my favourite group ever so I've seen them many times before (though not enough for my liking!) and they're playing in a beautiful, non-standard venue. That's the obvious choice. The Shacks, however, are fabulous and I've never seen them before thanks to their gig with Khruangbin at the CCA earlier this year having sold out before I was even aware it was happening. It's at Broadcast, mind you, which is not the best venue in town. The Scientists, of course, are garage legends and, being Australian, are far less likely to roll through town again anytime soon. I suspect they'll be a riot in downstairs in Sleazy's, too. Ah, but Vital Idles have a truly special place in Not Unloved's heart and their Mono show is the launch party for their debut lp (out via the smart kids at Upset The Rhythm). They've assembled a great lineup, too. Argh! In terms of dilemmas, it's a nice one to have but it'll take some sorting. If I were deciding purely on the posters, The Pastels show would surely win out as Annabel Wright has created this gorgeous piece of art for it:


P.S. How fab is the latest Vital Idles song and video?

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Camellia Hartman & The Soulful Saints "Return The Favor" (Dala)

Rejoice! Camellia Hartman and The Soulful Saints are back with a soulful stroller to caress away our cares. "Return The Favor" is another classy, nuanced affair with enough 60s sunshine pop embellishments to warm the heart. The lyrics are endearingly sweet e.g.

"Hold me nearer
Kiss me sweeter
I'll be sure to return the favor
Love me tender
Always remember
That I'll be sure to return the favor"



For now, "Return The Favor" is available only as a download but there's talk of it being paired with Camellia's certified smash from 2017, "Breathin' Hard Over You", on a 7" in the near(ish?) future. Just sit back and watch the soul DJs and Shacks fans elbowing each other outta the way to snap up a copy!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Jerry Naylor "City Lights" (Kent)

One of the down sides of labels such as Kent using generic sleeves for their releases (or, more accurately, their various series of releases) is that middle-aged dumplings such as Not Unloved can forget which ones they already have when rifling through the 7"s at their local record shop. Thankfully, the lovely staff at Monorail Music ensured that Jerry Naylor's effervescent "City Lights" reissue didn't pass me by as would have been the case had I been left to my own devices. It's irresistibly upbeat with a great production (trumpets!, strings! etc.). If anything can lift the gloom of spring, 2018, "City Lights" can. It came as something of a surprise to learn that Naylor was one of Buddy Holly's backing group, The Crickets.


Kent have paired "City Lights" with Johnny Praye's strident"Can't Get Too Much Love". Another winner, it  had Not Unloved (unwisely) dusting off the old falsetto to sing along with the backing vocals - not pretty!

Monday, 2 April 2018

still buying 7"s

It may not be the most cost-effective way of consuming new music in 2018 but the 7" is still Not Unloved's preferred format and there really are some ace 45s around at the moment. New Zealanders The Shifting Sands released a mighty fine lp on Fishrider a few years back but their new single is even better. "Zoe" - also through Fishrider - is all languid jangles and recumbent twangs that waft from 1967 on a warm psychedelic breeze. What elevates "Zoe" above majority of the stoned psych-outs around at the moment are its heart and its emotional content. Essential.



Polytechnic Youth is a fine label even if it does have a slightly manic release schedule which means that keeping up with its output is nigh on impossible unless you've got the disposable income of Elon Musk. From the recent batch of three 7"s, The Detox Twins 45 is the one that tugged at Not Unloved's purse strings the most. It's a prime slab of what those with The Knowledge called Dark Wave or Minimal Wave but which sounds to me like 80s Goth. It'll sound ideal blasting out in dingy basements in Berlin.


Sergeants Mess recently unleashed their meaty second single, "Well That's Another Fine Mess" (Spinout Nuggets) in February. "Couldn't I Be Yours" is a pitch perfect explosion of mid-60s British Mod that thunders along (thanks in no small part to Wolf Howard who has drummed for many a Billy Childish group) obliterating everything stupid enough to get in its way. If it doesn't pack dancefloors at Mod nights the world over I'll...er...write to my MP. You best believe it!




Keeping with the Mod theme, Crocodile Records' latest transmission is ANDRÉ M's cool-struttin' "Kenzy's Choice". It's a pleasingly concise Hammond-led instrumental which stomps along like a bunch of shady gangsters on their way to smash up an East End pub. Anyone who has ever happily tapped their loafers to Kent's tremendous Mod Jazz series of lps should seek it out immediately!

> Samples of both sides are here
> Get it here

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Hipshakes "Shot" (Nerve Centre)

Sub-two minute blasts of punkin' garage pop are ten a penny these days. There's so much of it around that it's tempting to look elsewhere for kicks (there's a lot of fine electronic music around at the moment, that's for sure) to save spending what seems like an eternity sifting out the lumps. One 7" that made a dent recently was the latest 45 by The Hipshakes. Pleasingly, it's unafflicted by that rodeo announcer vocal effect that the lesser groups of their ilk use to disguise the lack of a melody or any discernible vocal ability. "Shot" breezes along perkily and in the past would've had the kids down the youth club pogoing merrily. Great backing vocal swells and a lovably wonky guitar solo that disappears as quickly as it appeared enhance the air of uncomplicated fun.


The Yearning "Do You Remember?"

The Yearning is a group who could have been designed by focus group to appeal to Not Unloved's sensibilities. Take "Do You Remember" from their latest 10" for Elefant, its catchiness is undeniable, its production as classy as anything around just now and Maddie Dobie's voice is as beautiful a sound as I've heard in 2018. It wouldn't sound out of place on the soundtrack to any number of Nouvelle Vague movies. I worry that they'll slip under the radar and not get the acclaim they deserve. Here's hoping the new 10" succeeds in finding the right ears. Now, where did I put all those elegant looking and sounding Siesta CDs I bought in the '90s?