Monday, 15 May 2017

Don and Bobby (and The Pooches!)

At a Darren Hanlon gig what seems like aeons ago, a couple of friends* recommended Don Lennon's music to me. I made the usual mental note which was promptly misfiled in my brain so I never found my fingers typing his name into a search engine. Wind on a few years and another friend recommended Lennon's first group, The Umpteens, to me. This time I took the hint and discovered just what a fool I'd been for not listening to his music sooner:


"Party All The Time" is somnambulant soul pop for the Chickfactor generation. A heavenly, late-night studio match-up of Jens Lekman at his peak with the Timmion Records house band at their most suavely recumbent. Unbeatable, really.

On the subject of Finland's cherished Timmion label, have you heard Bobby Oroza's "This Love" on its Stylart offshoot? If at any point in the last couple of months you had bumped into me on Argyle Street, there's a fair chance that I would have bored you senseless with my unquantifiable love for its warm, gently impassioned charms. If Bobby never makes another great record, he will forever be a giant in Not Unloved's eyes for "This Love" alone.



The picture sleeve version appears to be long gone and, as expected, is already getting pricey on discogs but the repress in the generic sleeve is still available for a sensible price if you look hard enough (I got mine from Jazzman). Get on it!

* - these friends now make up half of The Pooches who recorded a lovely version of Don Lennon's "Songs" for a charity tape:

Mope Grooves, The Fireworks & Omar S feat. Nite Jewel

Mope Grooves "Z" (from "Joy", See My Friends)



Portland, Oregon (USA) has a produced a bewildering list of dandy groups over the years. To that list I'd cheerfully add Mope Grooves. Their recent "Joy" LP boasts a whole heap of things that would've turned my head at any point in the last 25 years: scrappy songs beamed from lost Television Personalities rehearsal tapes, jangling guitars that duck and dive as if play fighting and the odd crayon scribble of noise. This is music made by the kids who drew cheeky cartoons in the margins of their science books. Maximum possible joy!

The Fireworks "Dream About You All Day" (Shelflife, USA/Opposite Number, UK)


Not Unloved has always felt big love for The Fireworks, going back to their first 7".
Not Unloved has always felt big love for Beth Arzy, going back to her first 7" with Aberdeen in those fondly remembered Sarah Records days.
Not Unloved feels big love for Beth Arzy fronting The Fireworks.
Not Unloved couldn't love "Dream All Day" any more if it tried.

Omar S feat. Nite Jewel "Confess To U" (FXHE)


In October 2016 Not Unloved danced self-consciously even when no-one was looking to Omar S and Nite Jewel's first collaboration, "Nite Train". The assumption at the time was that this was a one-off deal. There was much rejoicing, therefore, when news of a second release from the pair appeared in February. "Confess To U" is the most annoying record to play being a one-sided 12" affair with 2 concentric grooves - a vocal mix and a Hamtramck remix - on the playing side which play from the inside out. Argh! All of that's forgotten, however, when the summertime vocal hooks kick-in. It's the sound of summer 1989 and should, by rights, be booming obnoxiously from the tape decks of Ford Escort cabriolets the nation over.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Gentle music: Strawberry Generation and Hand Habits

Alan Godsell, the man behind Alan's Midweek Madhouse on Radio Saltire, is a true believer; a total enthusiast and evangelist for new music. On a recent show he played "Bathed In Blue" by new Providence (USA) group Strawberry Generation. Its dreaming beauty stopped me in my tracks:



My friend cried 'Blueboy!' on hearing it and it's a good comparison. That voice serves as a little reminder of what we lost when Blueboy's Keith Girdler so sadly passed away. There's not a second of "Bathed In Blue" that I don't look forward to but somehow the perky, Felt-like coda always takes me by surprise. Elsewhere on the (download only, for now) e.p., "Some Story" comes on like an ambient Scritti Politti. It's a real heart-sweller. Strawberry Generation is without doubt Not Unloved's favourite new group.



Similarly pretty and equally gentle is the debut lp from Meg Duffy's Hand Habits. A trusted friend recommended another group Meg plays with, Mega Bog, a year or two ago but I couldn't get beyond the dreadful name so made no effort whatsoever to hear their music - more fool me! There is so much to admire on "Wildly Idle (Hunble Before The Void)" (Woodsist) and it has taken its place in my affections alongside the best bits of Houndstooth's "Ride Out The Dark" lp and Soda Shop's lovely "Farewell e.p.". I'm now kicking myself repeatedly for not seeing Mega Bog at Rough Trade when I had the chance a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Rat Columns "Someone Else's Dream"

2016 proved something of a David West bonanza for Not Unloved. As well as picking up a bunch of superfine records by his various projects (Liberation, solo, Rat Columns and Rank/Xerox), I was able (thanks to the tireless efforts of Michael Kasparis from Night School Records) to catch a couple of life-affirming Liberation gigs (think Pet Shop Boys dreaming of their Mediterranean holidays) and a smashing solo show. Not a man to rest on his laurels, David's back with a new Rat Columns record in early March, this time on the increasingly excellent Upset The Rhythm. If  the adorable"Someone Else's Dream" is any guide, it's set to be bursting with effervescent hooks, topped-off, as ever, with one of the softest, warmest voices around. March 2nd can't come quickly enough.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Spookies on Goodbye Boozy


Annoyingly, my secondary school's playing fields were on the edge of town around a mile from the main school buildings so, whenever we had football, hockey, athletics etc., we had 15 minutes or so to get ourselves out there. The PE teachers drove there (so negligent!) so we were unsupervised on our jog (ok - distracted dawdle). On our route there was a Spiritualist church. We called the Spiritualists 'The Spookies' and, if the door was ajar, people would be dared to run in for a peek. That was quite a dare as we were all a bit scared that them crazy Spiriualists were in there performing mad, demonic rituals (as one does on a Tuesday morning in March). I never plucked up the courage to venture in, that's for sure. These long forgotten memories came flooding back thanks to a new 7" by The Spookies on Italy's trash punk powerhouse, Goodbye Boozy. "(Sorry Baby) I Fell Asleep" is possibly the gentlest thing I've heard on GB. That doesn't mean to say, however, that it doesn't pack a right good, if lazy, fuzzy thump. There are echoes of "She Cracked" era Jonathan Richman, Iggy Pop and even Tom Verlaine in the singer's (it seems the whole band takes turns in the vocal booth so I don't got no idea who sang this particular song) wonderfully dunderheaded drawl. Top marks for the majestic, jangling intro and the frat boy loser first line: "I'm not a champion at getting gurls".

Friday, 13 January 2017

16 remaining (of 150) - Heart Beach "Counting" (Rough Skies)

On Tuesday between 16:05 and 17:15(ish) I listened to only one song. It is 2 minutes and 29 seconds long and I listened to it for around 70 minutes because, your Honour, I would contend that "Counting" by Hobart, Tasmania's Heart Beach is nigh on perfect:



"Counting" was released on 7" by Rough Skies in an edition of 150 in March, 2016. Unbelievably, there are still 16 copies left. There were 18 but then me and some other soul of sound mind ordered one apiece. I have Doug Mosurock and Kris Record Turnover to thank for ensuring that I was aware of  it at all. Doug played it on his Still Single radio show near to Vital Idles on New Year's Day which (I suspect) prompted Kris to include it (at #5) in his Top 25 singles of 2016. Its vocal melody and guitar line are so succinct and perfectly captured that they could only have been cut from a particularly flawless diamond. I particularly love that the guitar only comes in after you're already smitten by the bass, drums and vocals and that when it does it's one of the best singalong guitar lines you've heard in years. Get it before 16 becomes 0, Here ends the evangelism for today.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Community Radio "Look Now You're Cursed" (Tenorio Cotobade)


According to the Tenorio Cotobade bandcamp page, "Look Now You're Cursed" was released in July 2016. I have no idea what was monopolising the Not Unloved stereo back then but it can't have been more enjoyable than Community Radio's classy second lp. The singles that preceded the lp - "Sick In The Car" and"Real Transformation" (below) - were both excellent, understated guitar pop records, similar in mood and execution to, say, The Clean's "Getaway" lp. "Real Transformation" really should have been lapped up by admirers of Ultimate Painting's brand of subdued art-rock. Maybe they did and nobody told me.



Repeated listens reveal so much to admire on "Look Now You're Cursed".  There are some lovely details such as the unexpectedly groovy piano on "Oasis" or the iridescent intro to "Crystal Ball" (not a Felt cover, although its intro wouldn't have sounded out of place on one of their records).



Possibly, the highlight of the album is the gently spinning chorus of the otherwise languid "Travel Endlessly". It's by no means a grand gesture, more a small gift to cherish. There have been a lot of great Australian lps in recent years (The Goon Sax, Twerps, The Icypoles etc. etc.) and this up there with the very best of them. Australian DJ Josh Meadows, formerly of brilliant Sarah Records group The Sugargliders (and later of  the also excellent The Steinbecks), nominated the album's opener, "One Book A Treasure", as the best song of 2016 on his It's A Jangle Out There show. High praise, indeed. If they're good enough for Josh Meadows, they're certainly good enough for me.