Track These Down – The Pastels and The Unintended

March 27, 2017 in features

pastelsThe Pastels – Up For A Bit With The Pastels

Last week marked 30 years since the debut album by these Scottish indie darlings hit the shelves. Up For A Bit With The Pastels is a honed pop parade of melody and style. Lead by Stephen Pastel (McRobbie) to the top of the 1980’s UK music scene, their first offering smashes the new blooming neo-psychedelia down to 10 tracks. It straddles the line between budget pop and studio slop, denouncing any tags or trendy scenes, delivering songs that bury their hooks deep in you.

Formed in Glasgow in 1981, the early incarnations of the ever shape-shifting Pastels recorded a plethora of singles for some of the times biggest independent labels such as Rough Trade, Whaam and Creation. Settling down, ever so briefly at Glass Records to release their debut opus.

“Ride On” crashes out of the gate with a textbook 80’s reverb soaked drum kit, a dirge, culminating in a sing-a-long, soaring chorus. Stand out single “Crawl Babies” strikes a perfect balance of budget lo-fi and the golden age of big studio pop. “Truck, Train, Tractor” kicks up the tempo, “oohs” and “aahs” abound to shroud the sometimes off key but poignant melody. “Baby Honey” is a dripping psychedelic cloak on the shoulders of McRobbie, as they begin to reign in the influence of the Velvet Underground. The album closes with the shimmering “If I Could Tell You” with hints of orchestral flare, keyboards and noodling jangled guitars.

Fire Records did a 180-gram re-issue in the early 2000’s, fingers crossed that as more of their LP’s hit the 30 year mark a proper re-issue campaign will be put into effect.

unintednedThe Unintended – S/T

In my humble opinion this is one of the most over looked Canadian albums of all time. In that same breath I never understood why Rick White, leader of the much heralded Eric’s Trip, never got very much accolades for his Elevator To Hell and solo albums either. A well-kept secret, a psychedelic rock genius capable of pumping out such fine sonic tapestry. Here he teams up with possibly the hardest working band around The Sadies, who’s de-facto leader Dallas Good was an Elevator member mid to later in their story, and also main song-writing counterpart in this endeavor. Toss in the mix Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo fame and you have a star studded cast of some of the best musicians to call Toronto home.

Country guitar picking is bent and warped, organ blares on top of White’s hushed and coy vocal. Arranged in a way and ordered throughout the album as such to ensure you won’t be able to take the headphones off until the trip is over. Album opener “The Collapse” slips and slides through delay soaked guitars. “The Light” turns down a similar corridor, shuffled drums accenting the atmospheric vibe lead by acoustic noodling. “Angel” again showcases the band’s immeasurable dexterity and control. “No Curse Of Time” sparkles with White’s wordplay, highlighted by the band’s ability to paint the background the proper shade. “Beautiful Things” closes the album with more pondering, and would sit perfectly at home on any Syd Barrett album.

The Unintended wasn’t around for too long, releasing a split with the Constantines and this sole full length LP. Never even pressed to wax, this album is mandatory listening. Trusting the guy pictured below wearing an Eric’s Trip shirt might seem a bit hand in glove, but after re-visiting this album I’m taking it upon myself to urge everyone to fully acquaint themselves with such masterstroke.

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By Kevin Bell

Kevin Bell is a Hamilton based musician, writer and record enthusiast.

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