Archives for posts with tag: The Pastels

Morar sunset panorama croppedA new song from The Pastels is always worth sharing. Even more so when it is from a fine compilation called “Glasgow Nights” fundraising for Scottish anti-poverty charity Money Advice Scotland. Here’s “Boats”:

“Boats” is a gorgeous song about living in and savouring the moment and continues the fine autumnal form The Pastels showed on their excellent 2013 album “Slow Summits”.

The “Glasgow Nights” album is a wonderfully eclectic celebration of Glasgow music and culture past and mostly present. As if songs from The Pastels, Mogwai, Sacred Paws and Franz Ferdinand, and newcomers Hairband, along with PopLib favourites Spinning Coin, are not enough, there’s also “No Mean City”, theme song from “Taggart” sung by Maggie Bell, for those who remember the gritty 1980s-1990s Scottish TV detective series (“it was muhrrrrduhrrrr”).

Well worth treating yourself to a compilation of mostly new sounds and donating to a good cause while you do so.

 

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Sachet Portion Control Front_Back_LPHere’s another song from Sachet’s excellent first album “Portion Control” – the fuzzy “Neenish Tart” which ends side one of the LP, which arrived in the mail last week from Sydney label Strange Pursuits.

“Neenish Tart” evokes strong memories of two very favourite (and related) Scottish bands from the mid-1980s – The Pastels (from Glasgow) and Shop Assistants (from Edinburgh).

It’s probably infuriating for new bands for a comparison to be made between a song they released in 2017 and the music from 30 years ago of some bands they may never have heard of. However, there are thousands of fans of those two bands who have never heard of Sachet who would love this song and album if they knew about it… so here we are.

Sachet represent in 2017 the spirit of the DIY 80s when “indie” was really independent pop music. Self-recorded, unapologetically under-produced (that’s a good thing), self-releasing through their own label (which also releases a few other excellent bands), and largely overlooked, unseen, unheard by an audience who would appreciate their music if only they knew it existed.

The Pastels and Shop Assistants were around in the era of vibrant music print media and influential radio shows. They were written about (and mythologised) with the help of grainy photos in newsprint weeklies, in fanzines and in glossy music monthlies. The only places you could hear their music were a few BBC radio shows hosted by independent DJs, which anyone who wanted to hear the new sounds of the Pop Underground would listen to if they could (even around the world by exchange of cassette tapes).

Sachet exist in the era of information overload and perhaps even new music overload, where visibility across the thousands of websites depends on a budget for a PR campaign that a self-funded DIY label like Strange Pursuits can’t afford. Visibility today, even once obtained, is fleeting; quickly cached into online – and human – memory.  It’s a shame really, as Sachet – as with Lani & Sam’s previous band Day Ravies – represent a strong a pulse within the still-living International Pop Underground.

If you were wondering what a Neenish Tart is… according to Wikipedia it is an Australian invention (yeah, right. cf: Pavlova) but “the lemon-flavoured version of the tart most familiar to New Zealand residents is found in the Edmonds Cookery Book. It includes a filling made from butter, icing sugar, sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice in a flour-based pastry base topped with half standard white icing and half chocolate (cocoa added) icing.”

not-unloved-1If you thought Courtney Barnett’s “Avant Gardener” was the best song to be written about gardens and gardening, it has now been surpassed by the B-side of a 7″ single by Glasgow’s Vital Idles called simply “The Garden”.

If you wanted to be picky you could say that this song is not strictly about gardening as such… “Would you feel uncomfortable if we did it in the garden, with your bum facing the clean air, and the wind in your hair?”

But it does mention in loving sensory detail the features of the garden and the work that has gone into creating this setting for this fantasized al fresco relationship.

“The Garden” is the B-side (or double A-side) of the Vital Idles 7″ single released on brand new Glasgow label Not Unloved Records.  The label is a natural extension of the long-running Not Unloved blog, so named after the title of a Pastels song from their “Truckload of Trouble” album.

There’s certainly a bit of the spirit of The Pastels about this song, but also perhaps a bit of Belle & Sebastian in the wry observational lyrics and delivery – though headed in a somewhat more deviant direction than your average early B & S song.

This is not much like the earlier Vital Idles releases I’ve heard, which were enthusiastically lo-fi cassette releases with “Demo” in the title. Lovely amateurish things but a bit rough around the edges and unfinished sounding, however radiating oodles of potential because of that enthusiasm, spirit and character.

This sounds perfectly finished. The production standards have increased and it’s a glorious thing to hear this band presented in a clear and unfussy way, their character in full bloom now.

As “The Garden” and it’s risque narrative unfolds in rich detail, the pace quickens, the intensity swells, the strings and brass rising and falling like that bum in the clean air, before the post-climax outro of soothing instrumentation. As beautiful as a well-tended garden.

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the-bellamys“I wanna be your best friend” promise The Bellamys in this track from their brand new 4 song EP, but it almost feels more like a sinister threat than an infatuated admission.

The label – Cardiff’s fine Odd Box Records – says “for fans of The Pastels, Talulah Gosh, and Slayer”, and I totally get all those. The beat and persistent hypnotic drone in particular evokes the spirit of The Pastels’ “Truck, Train, Tractor” single.

The most immediately striking thing about this brilliant song is the guitar tone, which is not the heavy metal of Slayer but just as brutal and could best be described as aluminium foil. Strummed aluminium foil. With an electric current run through the foil and the person strumming it. What a sound!

When the vocals kick in the drone-like qualities forming the song take on something of a psychedelic Eastern mantra. It’s fantastic.

The tinny but electrifying frenetic strum, synth drone (I’m guessing), the pounding drums. It’s all very post-punk and mixes the ephemeral with tension.

Very keen to hear the rest of this EP from The Bellamys.

Only 50 cassettes. Half gone already. Don’t sleep on it if this is your thing.

Ela Orleans 2016 “You Go Through Me” is the second track on Ela Orleans‘ new album “Circles of Upper and Lower Hell” – a 73 minute album loosely based on Dante’s Inferno but infused with deep personal experience.

It’s the perfect song to introduce an immersive concept album from the Glasgow-based electronic sound art composer and performer. Dark as the subject matter is, there is something sublime and surreal in hearing the voices of The Pastels’ Stephen and Katrina joining with Ela to sing lines like “abandon all hope, you who enter here.”  

That mix of breathtaking moments of beauty with soul-crushing darkness is the heart of a sometimes confronting, but rewarding album. Having now repeatedly abandoned hope upon entry to this album, hope is the one quality most restored by completion of this epic journey.

By unwelcome coincidence of recent events in the UK, the album’s hell-on-earth theme represents a perfectly dark melancholia for the times.

In Dante’s Inferno hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth; it is the “realm…of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen” according to American poet John Ciardi. Well, that pretty much sums up the current neo-liberal political and economic agenda, as well as post-‘BREXIT’/ ‘post-factual’ division in the no longer quite so United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, doesn’t it?

Unlike Ela’s previous (and excellent) album “Tumult in Clouds”  which often re-assembled and re-shaped samples into new music, “Circles of Upper and Lower Hell” is built upon the performance of synths drums, percussion and voices mostly, merging synth-pop, electronica, and experimental ambient sound art into an ambitious masterpiece.

There’s a lot to take in, and it’s an album that needs repeated headphone listens with concentrated effort.  The instrumentals have film soundtrack quality. Some are quiet, minimal and eery, suggesting ‘incidental music’ soundscapes, infused with a rumbling dread behind the beauty. Others are more grand adventures in sound textures and atmosphere.

The album may be ghostly, creepy, and claustrophobic at times, but ultimately the uplifting beauty of the melodies and Ela’s voice (singing and spoken/ whispered word) which accompany the listener throughout this turbulent journey inspire hope of redemption.

Spinning Coin_Albany_8mm stillGlasgow guitar pop band Spinning Coin have their first single out on Geographic Music. It’s called “Albany” and it’s from the gentler section of their already impressive songbook.

Having seen them play live in Glasgow last year I’m keen to hear a full album from them. They were supporting Joanna Gruesome at Glad Cafe that night so pulled out a set-list of their noisier rattlers. It was wonderful to behold – a heady mixture of wistfully melodic jangling psychedelic guitar pop and noisy string-bending guitar skronk.

The video for “Albany” – filmed on 8mm film by Roxanne Clifford (Veronica Falls, The Royal We, Baggy Attitude) – fits the song perfectly. Timeless, faded, personal, nostalgic and conveying the physical and psychic geography of the bands’ home city.

Geographic Music is a label run by Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell of The Pastels under the umbrella of Domino Records. The video for The Pastels “Crawl Babies” single features the same foot-bridge – the South Portland Street Suspension Bridge – spanning the Clyde river which runs through Glasgow.

That provides a perfect excuse to share the “Crawl Babies” video below too. In the interests of, well, geographic synchronicity, or something. Anyway…

The 7″ single of Spinning Coin’s “Albany” is out in April and can be pre-ordered from Domino Records.

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Goon Sax

Brisbane teenagers The Goon Sax are three songs into their debut album pre-release roll-out and there’s no let up in the simple perfect brilliance of their wryly-observed and playful pop song-craft – as demonstrated here by “Boyfriend”.

When The Goon Sax name first popped up last year I listened because they were on Chapter Music (The Stevens, Twerps, Dick Diver etc.). They sounded like the perfect and charming combination of a bit of naive pop reminiscent of the earliest Pastels, blended with that peculiarly Australian minimalist strum-pop of label mates Twerps.

But there was also a throw-back to the simple rhythm guitar/ bass/ lead guitar and vocal stylings of The Go-Betweens in their earliest form, circa “Send Me A Lullabye” or the Missing Link/ Postcard Records single.

Turns out there’s more than just a stylistic connection to the aforementioned Go-Betweens, but that genetic link shouldn’t be a factor in determining the worthiness of The Goon Sax or their debut album.

The three tracks so far indicate not just the rare talent for wry observational pop music with simple but memorable arrangements. They also show an unusual confidence in singing about stuff that teenagers would normally avoid sharing publicly and presenting themselves as coolly ‘uncool’ and almost celebrating their awkwardness. That was also one of the features of that early 80’s Glasgow scene with Orange Juice and The Pastels risking ridicule by establishing themselves as outsiders in an otherwise macho culture. Which was also why those bookish Aussies The Go-Betweens fitted in so well in Glasgow back in 1980.

The album “Up To Anything” is released on Friday (11 March) on Chapter Music – a Melbourne label with a 24 year history of releasing music from the fringes of Australian music culture. Here’s the video for the song too.