Tuesday, 28 October 2014

EP Review - Conquering Animal Sound - Talking Shapes

The opening line from Talking Shapes,  the new EP from Conquering Animal Sound, is "Nothing intricate". This doesn't sound like much when written down, but if you've listened to anything by the Glasgow based electronic duo you'll know that not only are these lyrics oddly ironic as each track is built around a tightly constructed narrative, it is that the vocal style of Anneke Kampman is to split words out into extended syllable versions of themselves, with the effect of turning even the most innocuous phrase into a finely tuned instrument.  It makes the opening line a delicate and fragile cold sounding welcome.

Talking Shapes  is the group's first material since their pretty incredible second album On Floating Bodies  which was released last year.  The EP stands as a subtle departure for the band though, continuing the trajectory started with On Floating Bodies,  and is full of contradictions.  The opening track features deeply processed vocals towards it's middle section, with a striking similarity to that of the Swedish duo The Knife and Karin Andersson's not-quite-sure-if-it-is-her vocals.  The Next Day  is a strong start to the short collection.

When listening back to the duo's debut album Kammerspeil,  it is interesting to consider the route that they have taken since then.  HTR1A,  with it's almost anthemic "if you depict a bird/give it space to fly" moment, harkens more to the quieter and more confessional side of that debut album, where as Puskas  with it's deep saw bass rolls around sounding more like the best tracks On Floating Bodies,  as it flourishes in the background with a conchord of blips, beats and processed snare claps, almost acting as a sonic puzzle.  The best work of the group are tracks like this; the tracks that feel multidimensional in a non-cliched way, appearing as if you could reach out into space and pull the arrangement as if they were a 3D wire frame, mapping the subtle shifts in sound and structure.  For example, the move in Puskas  from the quiet brush of glass-like vocals to the tribal ending rhythm and defiant lyric "maybe I could be like you" feel like aural-illusions.  The closer you listen the more you hear but the less you understand.

The final track is easily the most ambitious track on the EP and maybe the most ambitious track they have released to date.  With definite movements it is also the fiercest the duo has sounded on record, almost seething with a dark energy and anger that truly surprises.  As I said before, this EP is built on contradiction - soft vocals matched with deep bass and acerbic lyrics (“this room’s the centre of the world / of the things you seek without looking” and “now make up your own scenario / trying to describe space”), but A Solid Door  sees the group focus on a structure that twists and meanders, never fully forming a track you can pin down.  It unfurls from a staggering rhythm section towards the angry vocal, and ends up for the last third an instrumental outro that once again is an illusion - giving the impression of an orchestrated improvisation.

The EP is a very strong collection of tracks and hopefully shines a light on where the group will go next with their future material.  It's not like other post-album EPs, where it feels like off cuts or leftover session tracks, but works as a cohesive set of songs, like all of the best EPs.

- Mark Shields

Conquering Animal Sound - Talking Shapes  is out now via Chemikal Undergound on 12" vinyl or download here, or from all good record shops and online music retailers.

Single Review - Scary People - Guided By The Blind

Power-packed, cool rock in small packages seems to be the new flavour of the month.  Just like other rising stars Royal Blood and Honeyblood, Scary People have created a worthy showcase for their strong sound with their latest single Guided by the Blind.

The track has an almost hypnotic quality: simple strumming and slick drum beats are the perfect vessel to carry the deep, confident vocal – the cadence of which brings me back to delights by Interpol or Grizzly Bear.  The steady sense of security we were sitting in is soon interrupted, as we knew it would be, as the noise escalates to a satisfyingly loud chorus.

Quiet little nicks and creeping bass signify that things are about to get fun – and sure enough this is set free into a nice instrumental, leaving ample time for some spirited air guitar or head bangs.  The track finishes loud and liberating; a real firecracker of a tune from a band that oozes energy, and make music was made for moving to.

- Maura Keane

Scary People - Guided By The Blind  is out now via RedRoom Recordings and can be downloaded here.

We're Only Here For The Banter - Aquafaux

This week for 'We're Only Here For The Banter' I caught up with Lois from Edinburgh based trio Aquafaux.  It's true that in the wake of CHVRCHES success; and indeed many more acts across the UK; that synths and '80's pop influences are in vogue, however from listening to the bands debut EP Spellbound  there's a feel that Aquafaux are not bandwagon jumpers.  Check out our chat to find out more.

Hello!  How the devil are you?

Hey Neil, we're great!  Thanks for playing our track See The Rain  on your radio show recently.

You're welcome!  It's the question everyone hates, but could illuminate our readers with a little bit about your music and your influences?

Well, basically Aquafaux are an electro synthpop band based in Edinburgh.  Memberwise we have Lois who sings, Sam who plays synth/guitar and Greg who plays bass/synth.  I suppose you could say we create electronic music that you can dance to.  We're really close friends, but have really different tastes in music.  I think that's what makes our music sound quite unique because we're influenced by different sounds.  To name a few of our influences I would probably say; Kavinsky, Vitalic, Com Truise, The Postal Service and Rilo Kiley.

What's your song-writing / creative process like?

We are all involved.  Some of the songs initially start of as acoustic songs, which we then develop further by adding electric drums, and synths.  Regarding song writing and lyrics, the inspirations are quite generic.  See The Rain  is of course about the Scottish weather.  I mean what Scottish band hasn't written a song about the weather.  It rains so much in Scotland, it's hard not to write anything that doesn't involve your love life or the weather!

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Synthesisers, and electric drums that light up!  The boys in the band are totally obsessed with them.  We're real friendly, down to earth people, so I'm sure you would feel obliged to dance at our gigs.  Seriously who wouldn't want to dance to electronic beats and watch synthesisers glow in the dark?  We actually have a gig in Edinburgh, in December, so keep a look out on our Facebook page, as we will be confirming dates very soon.

Tell us about your latest EP Spellbound

Spellbound  is our first four track EP.  We actually recorded the tracks in my living room and Sam did all the technical bits like mixing, producing and mastering.  We worked pretty hard, and took ages to do.  We are all super happy with the outcome.  We feel that each song has its own sound, and shows a good variety of our bands style.  The EP will be available to buy online from Bandcamp very soon!

What else have you got planned for the rest of 2014?

Well we are currently working on more tracks and hope to do a few more gigs around Scotland.  You never know what will happen in the future, we may release a full album.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Ah!  There is too many bands to name, but anything that sounds good like The Postal Service, Tiga, Factory Floor and Bright Eyes.  We're also all very excited to go and see Future Islands in November at the O2 ABC in Glasgow.  I totally love the singers dance moves, he is awesome!

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

There are two muffins in an oven.  One muffin turns to the other muffin and says, "Boy, it's hot in here".

The other muffin says, "OH MY GOD A TALKING MUFFIN!"

Check out more from Aquafaux

Facebook         Twitter          Website

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 27th October 2014

With new music from Casual Sex, John Knox Sex Club, Stanley Odd and Rustie, this week's show is a smorgasboard of delights, cruising genres and styles with scant regard for the usual boundaries. 

Our session guest on this week's show is Alan McCormack; better known as the man behind lo-fi, experimental pop band Now Wakes The Sea.  Find out the influences and background behind latest album Bildungsroman  as well as hear three stripped backed live tracks. 

Casual Sex - A Perfect Storm
Tetra - Tommy Lee Jones
CLASSIC TRACK - Cream - Sunshine Of Your Love
Now Wakes The Sea - Scottish Blood Reversal - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio
Fuji Above The Lightning - Devil
Wartime Tapestry - Merge
RE-MIXING IT UP - Kid Canaveral - Skeletons (AlpineSkiChampion remix)
Now Wakes The Sea - Original Bone - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio
Joan Colomo - Hort Mort - As chosen by Now Wakes The Sea
John Knox Sex Club - Minotaur
Shambles In A Husk - The TOWIE Effect
Min Diesel - Down On The Green
Sharptooth - Sister
VINYL PLAY - Camera Obscura - Desire Lines (Live at the Tron Theatre)
Now Wakes The Sea - The Shore & The Coastline - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio
Sound Of Yell - Hitherto
CLASSIC TRACK - The Pastels - I'm Alright With You
Poor Frisco - Ghosts
Stanley Odd - Her Name Was Hip-Hop
Errant Boy - Dilate
Snide Rhythms - Acid Alliteration
Rustie - Velcro

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Connect with us and submit any submissions via:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/thisisscottishfiction
Twitter - twitter.com/scotfiction984
E-mail - scottishfiction@mail.com

Monday, 27 October 2014

EXCLUSIVE - Chrissy Barnacle - Nightride - Scottish Fiction Session Track

Folk punk songstress Chrissy Barnacle has a unique way with lyrics, weaving what can appear on the surface whimsical stores, but which when scratched beneath tell tales of love, loss, life, relationships and everything in between.  Chrissy joined me on Scottish Fiction to chat about her music, influences, and play us some live music.

This track, Nightride,  was recorded at Pulse 98.4 FM as an exclusive session track for the Scottish Fiction blog.  To hear further session tracks and an interview listen back to the full show here.


Campfires In Winter Christmas Party

Like it or not Christmas is just around the corner, with the festive cheer poised to pounce as soon as the supermarkets sell out of pumpkins; and in some places even before!

Don't get me wrong, Christmas is, as the old adage goes, the most wonderful time of the year.  Yet there can seem amidst all the adverts and shopping a sickly feel of commercialism on cocaine.  So it's good when things come along that you genuinely have no problem spending money on, such as Christmas party gigs from one of Scotland's finest post-rock foursomes Campfires In Winter.

On Wednesday 17th December in the stunning surroundings of Glasgow's Sloans GrandBallroom, Campfires In Winter will host the first Campfires' Christmas Party with help from a few friends and some special guest collaborations.  Support comes from alternative popsters Friends In America and garage rock noise makers Deathcats.  And like all good Christmas parties the fun will continue into the evening with a heavy dose of drunken dancing, the tunes for which will be spun by the The Twilight Sad.

To help make the Christmas party special each ticket comes with a hand signed Christmas card, and gig goers will be greeted with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie on arrival.  And if that isn't enough how about a brass band playing Christmas songs, as well as a photo booth as well.  Photo booths and mulled wine... I predict some messy photos!

Tickets are on sale now at the early bird price of £10 at www.campfiresinwinter.bigcartel.com

Album Review - Broken Records - Weights & Pulleys

Broken Records new album Weights & Pulleys  is definitely more of the same from the Edinburgh based band.  The album has many of the same themes and carries on the same sound as 2010's Let Me Come Home.  Cynics may find a real sense of irony in the fact that a band called Broken Records can be referred to as 'repetitive', however, when the same band are producing albums of this quality, those cynics are easy to ignore.

Broken Records must be getting fed up of being compared to Bruce Springsteen and Arcade Fire (although why would they?) but it’s a really unavoidable comparison. The second track on the album, Winterless Son,  has a clear Springsteen influence running through it.  With its bouncy rhythm and catchy melodies, it has already proved to be a real crowd pleaser at the band's live shows.

The bands rhythm section gets another chance to flourish on So Long, So Late  where a captivating bass line and thunderous drums carry the song to a rousing climax.  Album standout Nothing Doubtful  shows how diverse the band is with haunting vocals combined with the trumpet which are beautiful to listen to and a far cry from the albums previous tracks.

Weights & Pulleys  is a well rounded album, that, in the same vein as bands such as This Will Destroy You and Sigur Ros, has the ability to make everything you are doing seem a lot more significant.  A solid album that further proves everything we already knew about Broken Records when it comes to their quality songwriting, excellent musicianship and unbreakable consistency.

- Stuart Thompson

Broken Records - Weights & Pulleys  is out now via J Sharp Records and can be downloaded via all good online music retails, or purchased on CD or vinyl in all good record shops, or you can buy direct from the band here.