Tuesday, 3 March 2015

EP Review - Hector Bizerk - The Bell That Never Rang


Continuing on the series of EP's named after the miracles of St Mungo, The Bell That Never Rang  is the latest offering from Hector Bizerk.  The 'Glasgow EP' series has seen the band push the boundaries of their sound, and The Bell That Never Rang  is no different, a very different beast to previous work.

Opener Skin and Bone  starts slowly and controlled; afro-beat drums with Louie's calm vocals atop.  As if an unbeaten rap battle record wasn't enough, Louie further stakes his claim as Scotland's best MC with intelligent and witty lines such as; "I'll be the public enemy when the crisis hits / Chuck Deodrant into flames" and "While UKIP in your bed with feeble friends".  A delicious climbing bass line shepherds in the chorus; which is closer to Arctic Monkey's Crying Lightning  style than hip-hop demonstrating the band's reluctance to conform to genre descriptions.  "Still nobody seen nothing yet" warns Louie, casually assuring us that despite the plaudits thus far the best is still to come.  Ending with a psychedelia-soaked synth frenzy and the type of drumming Audrey Tait has come to be renowned for Skin and Bone  might just be the finest track Hector Bizerk have produced to date.

Festival Boy  begins with the hungover thoughts all too familiar with festival goers.  One of Louie's skills as an MC is his ability to craft characters through his lyrics.   Festival Boy  is another of those close to the bone creations, Louie's drawled half sung chorus giving rise to the bucket hat adorned staggering image in our heads.  Musically the track dabbles in funk and blues with delightful drum fills punctuating the verses.

TV series True Detective lends the name of lead character Rust Cohle  to the next track.  Like the TV series, the track is dark and foreboding; largely in part to the ominous guitar riff at play.  This track is an opportunity to take exception to many social injustices across the world, and again Louie's wordplay shines through particularly with reference to the Middle East and an ex-footballer's woes.

Closing track Best Man Speech  tells the dilemma of a best man who is all too aware of his mate's wife-to-be affairs.  The track again draws in influences from jazz, funk and afro-beat to craft a charming sound which paces along perfectly with Louie's rhymes.  The vocal only last verse is a fantastic production touch, demonstrating the clearing of mind one might expect when such a moral dilemma is dealt with. 

The Bell That Never Rang  represents another fine body of work under their belt.  Marching from strength to strength the band head over to SXSW surely assured and confident that ain't nobody seen nothing yet.

- Neil Wilson

Hector Bizerk - The Bell That Never Rang  is out now on limited edition CD and can be purchased here.

That's My Jam #48 - Pinact - Anxiety


Glasgow based drums-and-guitar duo Pinact were always a band who have pushed their music further than the usual 'local scene' so it was no surprise to learn that their debut album Stand Still And Rot  would be released via Brooklyn label Kanine Records.

Anxiety  is the first sounds of that album, but with frantic drumming, Corrie Gillies distinctive droll and garage-rock fuzzy guitar fans of the band will be more than happy.  Like PAWS, Pinact are adept to harboring real catchy melodies at the heart of their songs, and Anxiety,  despite the lyrical revelations of the song, has a real earworm of a melody guaranteeing that it will stay with you for days. 


Monday, 2 March 2015

That's My Jam #47 - digitalanalogue - ID 83846 (Don't Look Down)


Some things just stop you in your tracks.  This track, the catchy titled ID 83846 (Don't Look Down),  is one of them.  Easily the most beautiful and yet depressing piece of music I've heard in a while, it's an instrumental piece from Broken Records' Ian Turnbull.  Going under the alias of digitalanalogue, the track comes from his forthcoming solo album Be Embraced, You Millions!  which gets a release via Song, By Toad Records on 16th March.

Each track from the album is about a specific person, time, or place, says Turnbull, turning to the 'music as therapy' approach used by RM Hubbert.  The album itself deals with two major events; the birth of a child and the loss of a parent.  ID 83846 (Don't Look Down),  with it's minimalist haunting piano loops, bears out as the musical equivalent of a heartfelt diary entry; each note mourning and yet the climbing twinkling piano towards the end holding out for something else.


digitalanalogue - ID 83846 (Don't Look Down) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Album Review - Bonehouse - Tomorrow's Worn Out Blue


Those familiar with Scottish Fiction may well be aware of the acoustic offerings of Dundee's Gone Wishing; and if you are not then check out our cassette release with him from last year - *cough cough plug plug*.  Whilst he is not doing solo releases, Owen McLaughlin finds himself with guitar in tow in Bonehouse, a Dundee punk/emo quartet who have been ploughing the furrow for some years now.  With Iain Carmicheal, Sean Arnold, and Lew Skelly; all alumni of previous bands; completing the line-up, Tomorrow's Worn Out Blues  is a debut LP five years in the offing.

Kicking off with intent is Altered Altars  with chiming guitars and pounding drums, and the dueling vocals, one melodic, the other close to shouting.  A rolling drum intro leads into the title track, a hurricane paced roar showcasing the band's punk credentials.

Broken Hearts and Shallow Sympathy  takes the album up a notch.  Outstanding guitar work, which in the bridge leads to shouts of "forget everyone" is complemented by solid bass and drums.  After a frenzied start, there's a lull in the track before the bass begins to build back up exploding again in the track's climax.  Everything good about Bonehouse can be found compressed into this five and a half minute track.

Things are slowed down with Conquistador,  although the half spoken vocals caked in passion prevent this track from veering into mundane territory.  The last half of the song in particular executes some exquisite vocal harmonies, providing a more introspective moment in the album.

There's more fast-slow dynamics at play on mid album tracks A God It Points To  and I am Magnificent, I Am Nothing.  However the best, in my opinion, is saved to last with album closer The Ripples of Hatred.  Splicing samples with archetypical punk vocals condemning racism, it's a powerful track, which vies with Broken Hearts and Shallow Sympathy  for the 'best track' tag.

This LP is a real labour of collective love, not only from the band but from the various DIY and punk labels around the world who have pulled together to ensure it gets the vinyl release it deserves.  Go show your support for their hard work and pick up a copy.

- Neil Wilson

Bonehouse - Tomorrow's Worn Out Blues  is out now via a collective of labels including Wolf Town DIY, Boslevan, Black Lake and Make That A Take Records in the UK, Steady Anchor and Tief in Marcellos Schuld in Europe, and Pint Sized Records in Canada.  The LP can be purchased on pick'n'mix coloured vinyl here.

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 2nd March 2015


This week's show is absolutely stacked with great new music which more than makes up for the fact that I can hardly talk.  Covering all bases there's music from Hector Bizerk, the new single from Foreignfox, hazy pysch pop from LYLO, a vocal led track from Turtle, rich instrumental from digitialanalogue and much much more.  Make sure to check out each artist if you like the cut of their jib.

Young Fathers - Rain or Shine
Jonnie Common - Binary 101
Kill The Waves - Vow
Lush Purr - Rut
Errors - Slow Rotor
Hector Bizerk - Skin and Bone
Mayor Stubbs - Abandon Ship
Sorren Maclean - Rows & Rows of Boxes
COVER LOVER - Rachel Sermanni - I Want You Back
Ashley Park - Long Good Night
Death Let Her - A Picture of the Times
Thirty Pounds of Bone - Ribbon
Trapped Mice - When I Sleep
digitalanalogue - ID 83846 (Don't Look Down)
Spinning Coin - Hanging Gown
Lylo - Separate and Sway
Turtle - Silent Weapons
C Duncan - And I
Mt. Doubt - Asunder
Foreignfox - Frostbite
UNIFORMS - Pink Couch
Pinact - Anxiety
RE-MIXING IT UP - Wozniak - Five Star (in violet remix)
Shona Brown - Your Silence Is So Loud
Tongues. - Anymore


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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Gig Review - Hector Bizerk, Broadcast - 20th February 2015

Photo courtesy of Árpád Horvárth (www.arpadhorvath.com / www.glasgowstage.com)

With their recent announcement of playing SXSW next month, their fiery loyal fanbase, and the continuing acclaimed EP releases, one might have wondered why Hector Bizerk chose the 150-capacity Broadcast for their latest EP launch gig.  However one track into their blistering set and it's abundantly clear.  The sold out venue crackles with excitement, as hip-hop molds the packed crowd into one entity, upon which frontman Louie dives into just one song in.

Right from the first pounding beats of Audrey Tait's drums Hector Bizerk on Party At A&E ,  which results in the first chant of the night; "nobody seen nothing"; there's a party atmosphere about.  Quickfire crowd favourites Burst Love;  with it's shout along chorus; and Orchestrate;  complete with ska-infused bassline; keep the energy going.

Time for the first new track and taste of the EP which tonight is launching.  Rust Cohne  doesn't disappoint as it showcases Louie respected lyrical talents pulling down the veil on dark inner city problems.  Other new tracks showcased tonight include the dance-along Festival Boy, which expands the percussion to African tribal and reggae beats, and Skin and Bone,  the opener and standout from The Bell That Never Rang.   There's a menace and confidence in Louie's delivery, backed out by the rest of the band; Fraser Sneddon with a killer bassline, Audrey at home behind the drums, and David Calder with wild synths and additional percussion.  Such confidence is borne out because this is amongst one of the finest tracks the band have produced.

Also included in that bracket are Bury The Hatchet,  Colombus,  and Fingerprints On The Drumkit,  all of which get a vociferous reception, the former allowing Louie to spit at a ferocious speed as the crowd jump to the drum'n'bass sound. 

As last EP The Bird That Never Flew  explained the visual element of hip-hop is paramount to Hector Bizerk; and band artist Pearl Kinnear has spent the last 30 minutes on the stage turning the music into a piece of art, which gets centre stage towards the end of the night. 

Sweaty, bruised, and by no means done the band erupt into the jazz drenched The Bigger Picture.  As Louie shouts "it's nothing but hip-hop" with crazed elation he draws to an end the gig which by this stage has transcended.  The evening has been a tribal gathering; a celebration for the Hector elders, and initiation for the new comers. 

As Louie himself often says, genres are irrelevant in most cases.  What is relevant is that Hector Bizerk are one of the best live bands currently plying their trade in Scotland.  Soon they'll be back Stateside at SXSW and it's without doubt that along with Irn Bru and whisky, they are amongst Scotland's finest exports.  Scotland is convinced.  Time for the rest of the world to get on board too.

- Neil Wilson

Monday, 23 February 2015

That's My Jam #46 - Kill The Waves - Vow


With a chilly industrial allure to the intro to Vow,  the new track from Kill The Waves, the mind is immediately filled with images of sparse grey landscapes.  The Battles-esque synths and guitars are complimented perfectly with the overlaying of the violin, before Tim Kwant's vocals kick in just before the minute mark.

There's a clever change in tempo midway through when Kwant switches from Korg to guitar, opening the track up from a dark emotional number to one with a sway inducing vibe.  Jerky, glitchy rhythms pulse beneath Kwant's charged vocals; "these words are etched into this pretty heart"; creating a perfect mark of intention for forthcoming album The One That Could Have Been,  which will be released via Bloc+Music on 20th April.