Saturday, 28 April 2012

Album Review - Human Don't Be Angry - Human Don't Be Angry

There's nothing quite like hearing an album for the first time and knowing that those sounds will be filling your ears for a long time to come.  In reviewing terms, it actually pushes aside two other albums which I'd planned to review (sorry guys, may get round to it one day!).  I saw a post on Twitter the other day which somewhat hits the nail on the head.  It remarked that with Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat's album 'Everything's Getting Older' and Malcolm Middleton's new solo album in the guise of Human Don't Be Angry, the break up of Arab Strab wasn't that bad!

It is the second of those albums that features here (although we love the first too!).  'Human Don't Be Angry' is the much anticipated new solo album from Malcolm Middleton, using the guise Human Don't Be Angry (this could get confusing).  Rather than the fore long indie singer/songwriter style which Middleton has become known for in his previous solo work, 'Human Don't Be Angry' is a much different beast, one which utilises synths, drum machines, loops, guitars and the odd smattering of vocals into an ambient endeavour.

Opener 'The Missing Plutonium', named after a scene from Back To The Future, it's got a wonderful guitar part which soars and opens the door on what this, largely instrumental album, is set to deliver.  The backing beat sounds like it's from a computer game, maybe an RPG, simple yet enchanting at the same time.  Even though I'm going to say it's my favourite track on the album, things don't really go downhill from here trust me!

'H.D.B.A. Theme' was the first taste of the album we got way back earlier this year.  Honestly, it's chilled out to fuck.  Listening to that hook, which has been built up with numerous intricate layers, and the simplistic drum machines is bliss.  Catchy as hell and the robotic vocals, with a slight Germanic twang to them, added over the top make this track a futuristic orgasm of electronica.

There's not a lot of storytelling on this album, and 'First Person Singular, Present Tense' is a close to introverted lyrics.  The vocals are jagged and broken up by a very simple drumbeat, and rather '80's feeling synths, yet there's a sense of loneliness and self anguish about the lyrics that tie it all together as Middleton sings "looking for an exit, a way out. I want to go home, home."  The end of the song is the perfect proof that music goes in a 30 year cycle, as the ending is pure '80's new wave/pop.  Delightful!

Back to the instrumental we go with 'After The Pleasuredome' which is a soulful, jazz tinged, atmospheric track.  Almost like the soundtrack to a comedown after 'Relax'-ing with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, who of course the title name checks.  Probably the slowest point on the album, sounds interesting but debatable if it really needs 5 and a half minutes.

'Monologue: River' closes out Side One of the LP (yes I'm reviewing this whilst listening to my recently purchased RSD 2012 exclusive copy of the album).  Another track with vocals, although not as poignant as 'First Person...', 'Monologue: River' might be one of the more easily accessible tracks on the album with it's 'oohs' towards the end and lightness throughout.  Actually it doesn't seem pretty much like a monologue until about a minute and a half in, which is when the drums and guitars kick in.

'Jaded' is a nice slow affair, much like the name would suggest.  It's all about the guitar on this one.  '1985' is a perfect name of a track on this album, because the style owes so much to that decade.  This track is pretty feel good, and if the little glockenspiel bit doesn't draw a smile on your face then just give up.

Penultimate track 'Asklipiio' is also the longest.  I have no idea what the name means, and I'm instantly drawn to Sigur Ros because of it.  There is same post-rock landscape feel to the track that the Icelandic mean revel in, but it's built on with Middleton's vocals.  Imagine a Scots man singing over Sigur Ros.  With keys. 

We were told that the Human Don't Be Angry persona was a move away from the doom, gloom and negativity that often stalks Middleton's solo work.  And it is, but he couldn't resist throwing in that last depressingly track name!  Album closer, 'Getting Better (At Feeling Shit)' sounds like a simple bedroom jam, desperate and bluesy.  Really bluesy in fact.  It's a mellow end to an otherwise rather feel good album.  It's a good track, but feels slightly ajar with the rest of the album.

'Human Don't Be Angry' is an album with plenty to explore, such is the joy of a largely experimental and instrumental piece of work.  No doubt come that glorious list compiling time of December, it'll find itself high up on many peoples 'best of's'. 

Buy 'Human Don't Be Angry' here and from all good record stores and online outlets.

Check out more from Human Don't Be Angry (Malcolm Middleton)

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Thursday, 26 April 2012

We're Only Here For The Banter - Beerjacket

Beerjacket is somewhat of a Glasgow bloggers hero.  Peter Kelly is the somewhat shy and retiring singer/songwriter who despite hiding behind the name Beerjacket produces material that has both longevity and instant appeal.  He's also a charming and friendly guy, honest and heartfelt in spades, and extremely talented.  I was lucky enough to be joined in the Pulse studio recently for a live session, and Peter was kind enough to answer some questions.

Hello, how are you?

A lot better now that I'm not driving aimlessly.  It would probably help if I could drive well in the first place whilst also trying to think in a logical way about how to get places.

It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?

I'm a singer/songwriter, I play music which is sort of acoustic-y, well it is acoustic I guess there's nothing elaborate or electric.  I like to keep things basic so it's never been a band yet I hide behind a band name because being a singer/songwriter can carry with it a lot of evils that you don't want to be associated with.  You can be a singer/songwriter as long as you don't tell anyone!

Your latest album was The White Feather Trail, how was that album different from what you've done before?

I think it was the step back that was more important than the step forward.  I stepped back from recording, and I've never been particularly proficient with recording or anything and I handed over the responsibility for all of that to a good friend for the album.  The person who produced the album has a huge ear, not like a freak, but it's all about what he hears not about what he wants to hear.  And there were things that I probably would have changed myself, but he stopped me and said, "no wait, that's good".  These were the things that I would have obsessed over when I was recording by myself, but when someone else hears your mistake and sees it as something worth keeping then you realise you're actually not so bad and give yourself a bit of a break.

So the album The White Feather Trail was more about giving over that control to someone else?

Absolutely, I had those songs for such a long time, and they were changing in subtle ways that no one would have cared about.  I would have obsessed over that for another couple of years and I still wouldn't have liked it.  It was getting ridiculous though, I was recording the same nine songs over and over again and never particularly being happy with them.  So I recorded them very basically and just handed them over and said, "just something like that, but you can do it better".  And that's more or less what we did, except that we threw lots of other instruments that I'd never played before on it.

What's your song writing process like?

Less and less do I sit down with a guitar and try to write a song.  Ultimately it doesn't feel good when you listen to a song that sounds like it's been laboured over in that way.  I tend to wait on them, I wait on things to appear in my head.  And I quite often will be sitting and start grinning because I've written something.  It's all inside my head and I don't always feel like I've written a hit.  It tends to all be in my head and then I'll sit down and play it it's there.

What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers? 

I think Quickbeam are brilliant, I really love them.  We played together in February of last year and I'd heard little bits and pieces and I love what I heard that night.  I also tend to play with a lot of people that I like.  Michael Cassidy I'm a big fan of his, I think he's great.  I like Reverieme and Mike Nisbet as well.  Michael was booked for a gig that I'd been asked to do by Lloyd of Peenko at The Hidden Lane Tea Room.  It was a tiny wee gig and I was going to try out new songs so I was a wee bit nervous.  I'd liked 'Everybody's Scared' but I hadn't heard of him up to that point, and when he started to play he was really good.  I continue to torture myself of how good he is by playing another eight gigs with him.  I don't like him as a person though!  Apart from his little beard!

At Scottish Fiction we focus on new Scottish music, how do you as a band view the Scottish music 'scene'?
I think there's many circles, there's kind of the wider circle where anyone who's in a band is technically in the 'scene'.  I was thinking of the circles of hell, I think I'm about mid point.  I do find it very supportive from the point of view of the people I play with like Michael, Julia And The Doogans, Reverieme, there's a nice wee thing going.  I think it's quite naturally and it's only when it becomes forced that it becomes a bit uncomfortable and cliquey.  I am certainly enjoying playing music with other people at the same time.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2012?

Two festivals announced so far.  One is a week on Saturday which is Brew At The Bog which is incredible.  It's the first time they've ever done it and they've invited basically the best bands in Scotland at the moment, all the people that only some people know are amazing.  It's an incredible bill.  And I'm doing Wickerman in July as well.  And I'm doing Withered Hand and The Second Hand Marching Band at Sleazy's which is a Friday, the 18th May.  I've also got something which I'm not allowed to talk about which I always have so it makes it sound like I'm making it up.

In terms of new material, any plans in the pipeline for that?

A few weeks ago I was absolutely determined to go back into the studio in the summer, and I still probably will, but The White Feather Trail came out in October and I think I should probably slow down a wee bit, folk seem to like it.  For folk who like it there's going to be something coming up which you should like.

It's been a pleasure having you on and thank you for coming on the show!

Check out more from Beerjacket

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Also listen to the full interview and session tracks here for chat about The SAY Awards, Michael Cassidy's beard and much more!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 23rd April 2012

Another week, another Scottish Fiction show.  It was a night of great music and desperation as we waited on tenterhooks for our special guest, Beerjacket, to arrive.  And great credit must go to one of the nicest men to have graced the show, as he battled through mis-direction, warring gangs and foxes to treat us to some exquisitvely picked tracks, excellent banter and glorious live music.  Check out the full show again below!

Radiohead - The National Anthem
Human, Don't Be Angry - The Missing Plutonium
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - The Copper Top
Penfold - Just One Day
Twin Atlantic - Edit Me
Mt. Judge - Mutant Dead God
Rustie - Ultra Thizz
Plum - Butterflies
Chris Stout's Brazilian Theory - Fisherman's Prayer
Admiral Fallow - The Paper Trench

LIVE TRACK - Beerjacket - Poor Captain Of The Soul

Quickbeam - Seven Hundred Birds

LIVE TRACK - Beerjacket - Eggshells

Julia And The Diamonds - Diamonds
Frightened Rabbit - Fast Blood

LIVE TRACK - Beerjacket - Two Travel

Mike Nisbet - Not Long

Gig Review - Frightened Rabbit @ Queen's Hall, Dunoon

It's not often that I get to go on a boat.  Nor is it often that I get the chance to see feert small mammal emulators Frightened Rabbit for free.  And I've NEVER been to Dunoon before either.  So the coming together of all these events is some kind of cataclysmic event which can only harbour certain doom and destruction for the planet as we know it.  Given how good this evening was though, I'm saying it'll be worth it.

The whole affair was almost like a great big day out for me and hanger-on Marc.  As we disembarked the ferry we overhead one other, local I'm presuming, gig goer remark, "these indie-type city kids just lap up this type of thing".  True enough.  There was the almost inevitable getting lost in Dunoon as we searched for the Queen's Hall, the eerie feeling of feeling we've been transported back to the 1970's (The Queen's Hall was an incredibly kitsch novelty), and even fish and chips eaten hastily on the band stand.

Offered the enviable position of supporting Frightened Rabbit and opening proceedings were local boys The King Hats.  We've featured The King Hats on the blog a few times, most recently on our 'We're Only Here For The Banter' feature and Carlo's appearance in the WWF Cup, so it was good to finally be able to catch the lads live.  Their EP 'First Light' is bursting with post-punk tunes, offering a good ol' stomp and head bang when listening too.  Sadly, due to being a complete tourist and getting lost, I only managed to catch the last two tracks for their set.  Happily enough though one of those tracks was the excellent 'Happy New Year', performed with such gusto and passion from singer Alan Power's roaring vocals, to drummer Carlo Acosta's thrashing snare and high hats.  Keeping things close to home, and cleverly getting a cheer from the local crowd, many of who bore King Hats t-shirts, the band revealed the origins of their closing track which was written on a bench just outside the venue.  And with an all mighty climax that was that.

Following on from The King Hats were FRabbits touring partners Brazil Exists, who had followed the Selkirk band round their merry highlands and islands jaunt.  I had never much doubted the existence of the largest South American country, however given my interest in geography is minimal I'm glad that the Stirling 5-piece have affirmed this.  Other than the name, I hadn't heard Brazil Exists before tonight, and I have to say they have intrigued me enough to give their EP 'The Hermit' a listen (produced by none other than FRabbit's Andy Monaghan).   Their set was melodic, warm and had a certain hint of Teenage Fanclub (although maybe that's just me).  Most memorable was Jack Black look-a-like trumpet player Michael Reade who added that extra brassy oomph.

Arriving on stage to a rapturous applause, Frightened Rabbit ripped straight into 'Nothing Like You' off their most recent album 'The Winter Of Mixed Drinks'.  It would be from this album and seminal release 'The Midnight Organ Fight' that the majority of their set would be taken from.  Wasting no time in bringing out the big guns they blasted through 'The Modern Leper' before dedicating 'Old Old Fashioned' to lead crooner Scott Hutchinson's "average sized penis".  The band genuinely seemed pleased to be playing in smaller and more rural venues such as this and encouraged us to share in the happiness by dancing to 'The Twist'. 

After 'The Wrestle' came an announcement greeted with such excitement I honestly suspect a few people wet themselves.  FRabbit will be heading into the studio next week to begin recording their fourth album.  Canny wait!   And we didn't have to wait, as a few new tracks were given an outing including 'The Oil Escape' and an untitled track which featured a fair bit of synth.

Personal favourite 'My Backwards Walk' (incidentally also my 5 year old daughter's favourite song) was played with intimacy and beauty, before a crowd led intro of 'aaaaaaah' led us into 'Swim Until You Can't See Land'.  Another rare-ish track 'Scottish Winds', which comes from the recently released 'Frightened Rabbit EP' propped up the rip roaring stomp that is 'Living In Colour'.

Stood alone and acoustic, Hutchison treats us to 'Poke' whilst the rest of the band grab a well deserved rest.  None earned it more than drummer Grant Hutchison who powered his way through the set with the intensity of a man with a firework up his arse.  'Good Arms Vs Bad Arms' and 'The Loneliness And The Scream' led us sadly towards the encore and the end.

Even though the song relates to events many years ago, and was released near enough four years ago, the sheer emotion and hurt that pours out of Hutchison whilst performing 'Keep Yourself Warm' is incredible.  It's truly a spin tingling moment and the chorus of "it takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm" resonates with young broken hearted fans through the room.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Record, record, record, record

A record has so many qualities which make it better than the MP3 which seems to have been thrust centre stage in the world of music.

The act of listening to a record is much more involved.  You hear the crackles and pops of an older vinyl, you have to physically get up and put then record on, place the needle and then 'flip' the record when the time comes.  With the aid of an iPod, speakers, and a remote control, you can put on a shuffle remotely and not even listen to the music playing.  It becomes background noise.

And the act of buying a record is so much more personal.  Never mind your high speed broadband, and laptop.  Forget iTunes or  Being amongst people who know and love music as much as you do is an experience every music lover should have.  Flicking through the records, some dusty, musty and old, smelling the smell of have been loved by people before you.  Listening to what ever the owner has on, and then subsequently being convinced as to why you must buy that record. Finding things you would never have looked for, and spending more money than you intended to in the process.

A record is much more than a piece of music.  It is artwork.  The sleeves let you see the detail an artist has delved in to.  Limited editions and box sets provide extra's and bonuses you simply don't get with a download.  You can hold it in your hands, touch it, store it, or proudly display it for all to see.

Not to forget its sell on value.  Check out the NME's article on the 100 most expensive vinyl's.  Other examples include, '5 Minutes With The Arctic Monkeys', the debut 7" from the Sheffield band usually sells for upwards of £50. Blur's exclusive 2010 RSD 7" 'Fool's Gold' of only 500 copies is reaching prices above £100 on eBay as I type.  If you want a sure fire inheritance that will be worth something to your kids, vinyl is the way forwards.

And that leads me to the exclusive-ness of vinyl.  Being a bit of a collectibles geek, there's nothing better than owning something that you know only 499 other people have.  Some ultra rare records are released in runs of only 100.  Or having the debut release before a band hit it big.

Quite simply, every day should be Record Shop Day.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Scottish Fiction Submissions - 20th April

It's Record Store Day tomorrow and I did plan to do a round up of what's going on in and around venues.  However other people have beat me to it, and it's easier to link you to those instead.  Lazy?  Yes, but why worry.

The Pop Cop         Ayetunes

I'm also going to plug a link for you lovely looking people, which is where you can now pick up tickets for our very first Scottish Fiction Presents gig which is on Sunday 17th June featuring Michael Cassidy, The Spook School, Queen Jane and Saint Death.  Tickets can be bought here and it would make me very happy to see you there.

Anyway, back to business. 

Dougie Greig - 'Black Water Son'

I first heard of Dougie when I went to see Julia And The Doogans recently.  No sooner had I popped my clogs off from that and in popped a track from Dougie's soon to be released album (the above picture is from his EP 'Beginnings' currently available on iTunes).  With his perfectly timed use of a loop pedal Dougie creates layers of sound that you wouldn't know was just one man.  That's probably the biggest hook about the music, is that it is through intricate use of a loop pedal that it's created.  I enjoyed listening to 'Black Water Son' but it's not recreating the wheel.  Pleasant singer songwriter material here.

Louise Quinn & Kid Loco - 'Oh Jackie'

When I heard this song up close and live I thought it was a good 'un.  Out now all polished up and pretty and with Kid Loco on board also.  The title track is full of sass and spunk and other such things, and the EP itself is well worth a listen.  'Exactly Like You' has a nice old time jazz feel to it, which I believe is because it's a cover of a 1930's track, and there's also a Bill Wells remix included too, which is nice.

Madison - 'Armbands'

Madison are fronted by singer Russell Ferguson, previously of The Celestians, and while the name/line up may have changed there's a pretty similar sound going on.  Russell's voice is pretty distinctive, in the same vein as Twin Atlantic and the recently deceased Dykeenies.  It's alternative rock, edging more towards the pop side of the spectrum.  Kinda grows on you a little bit.  Give it a listen or two.  There's a b-side two 'Like Glue' which is free to download.

The Leg - 'Bake Yourself Silly'

You can all thank me for this free single from The Leg who release their album 'An Eagle To Saturn' on Song, By Toad Records on 30th April.  No sooner had I pre-ordered the album did this free single drop into my inbox.  It's all the eccentric things that The Leg do well, and if you don't like it I suspect you can fuck off.

That's yer lot tonight, might re-jig the days of our regular features due to my shifts at work changing so there'll be more Scottish Fiction Submissions at some point next week.  In the meantime don't forget to buy lots of (probably) expensive black plastic that you can cherish, love, and hawk on eBay when you need some quick dosh and Wonga won't give you any more cash.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 16th April 2012

Despite the mysterious looking tree up above, there's no mystery behind the music on this week's podcast.  Featuring plenty of new Scottish music, including five tracks from artists nominated for The SAY Award.  Listen back and enjoy!

Any Colour Black - You

Mixing It Up - Counting Crows - Mr Jones - As chosen by Jamie Sparks

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Human Error
Satellite Dub - Trying To Stop A Tank With Your Hands
Mike Nisbet - Not Long
Vladimir - Cold Winter Grasp
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Bats In The Attic
Collar Up - The Fear Of Love

Peenko Friday Freebie - Seams - 8

Adam Holmes And The Embers - Autumn Leaves
Wrongnote - Heart Of A Rat
Thula Borah - Murder
Bwani Junction - Middle Meadow
Father Sculptor - Blue
Johnny And The Giros - For Ourselves
Stanley - Join Hands
Jonny - Goldmine
Aggi Doom - Bring Me The Head
A Band Called Quinn feat. Kid Loco - Oh Jackie
Without Aeroplanes - Just So You're Warm
Steve Mason & Dennis Bovell - Understand My Dub
Admiral Fallow - The Paper Trench

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Gig Review - Julia And The Doogans @ The Captains Rest

It's no secret that we think Julia And The Doogans are the bee's knees and last Friday 13th April they officially launched their stunning new EP 'Diamonds' at The Captain's Rest.  And if that wasn't exciting enough, the support was equally exciting with Shambles Miller and Dougie Greig in tow.

Before heading downstairs we were greeted with a optical delight of goodies on offer.  Tote bags, posters, fresh copies of the new EP plus free fridge magnets, lollipops and delightfully well advertised cakes.  I always enjoy a nice cup cake to go with my pint of oh so delicious beer.

First up on stage was Dougie Greig who took to the stage armed with jovial banter, an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal.  Playing tracks from his recently re-released on iTunes EP 'Beginnings', which was originally out in 2010, Dougie made effective use of the loop pedal which acted as his backing band since striking out on his own.  Dougie's timings were all pretty spot on, and he managed to create a fuller sound than one man on stage with his guitar.  Opening track 'World In A Pocketwatch' had a very chilled out feel and 'Victoria', a song about Victoria Park in Glasgow, demonstrated the emotion that Dougie packs into his material.  After the dreaded 'having to talk whilst re-tuning' moment the set ended with a track 'Bled' from his forthcoming album later this year, and set closer 'Dancing With The Devil'.

After a quick pop to the bar for some liquid refreshments I headed back downstairs to catch another Scottish Fiction favourite, Shambles Miller.  Again, it's no secret that I like Shambles Miller a lot.  He's been featured on the blog, had a track on our monthly EP, and even joined us on the radio show.  Part of the reason I'm drawn to Shambles, and others obviously too, is his charming likeable onstage demeanour.  Kicking things off with 'Things That Make Me Angry' and 'Beer Song', which was quite apt as I had moved onto pint number three by this point, Shambles quickly warmed the crowd to him.  Having seen Shambles a few times now, I like that you can anticipate the LOL moments in his tracks, of which my favourite must be "so long and thanks for all the sex".  The venue has packed out a bit more by this stage, and after a few more tracks performed with gusto, the time has came for Shambles to bid adieu ending with usual set closer 'Alice's Song'.

With Julia And The Doogans impending appearance drawing closer, more bodies pack into the small room.  It was at this stage I regretted giving up my earlier seat, as we ended up snuggled into the corner.  I could still see the pretty fairy lights which adorned the stage, turning the whole affair into a very intimate and snug occasion.  We were of course here for the launch of the 'Diamonds' EP, and the first few tracks were lifted from that with 'Those Things', 'Bound' and 'Borderline' in quick succession.  As always Julia's vocals were effortlessly beautiful, demanding silence from the spell bound audience.  Back up trio of Jennifer, Renata and Alice or 'The Girls' as Julia affectionately thanks them as were all equally important to the ambiance and delicate sounds filling the room.  Having said that, Julia performed a few stripped down tracks herself such as the crowd requested 'Do You Like Star Wars', Julia doesn't, and new song 'Follow', which displayed the same tender emotions present in the tracks from 'Diamonds'.  Another crowd favourite was 'Glasgow', which is a sweetly sung melody about both Glasgow's beauty and less palatable side.  Coming towards the end was the airing of the spin-chilling 'Diamonds' and you could almost hear the collective sigh of appreciation from the crowd who were by this time putty in the hands of the band.  A slight guitar mishap, meant that a planned acoustic version of 'New York City' became an acapella version before EP and set closer 'Down The Line' ended what was a thoroughly enjoyable gig.  If you weren't there then you can pick up the EP now, put up your own fairy lights and relive the experience.  Do it, you'll feel better for it.

Why Blogger? - Flares n Seagulls

Aberdeen often gets a raw deal.  Not only can the football team not kick a jelly bean according to the school ground taunt, but in terms of music coverage the city often unfairly gets overlooked.  Flares n Seagulls is an Aberdeenshire based online music magazine, which covers reviews, gigs, and interviews with local musicians and beyond.  They blog is made up of several contributors who all play their part in creating a great reading ground spanning all genres and with plenty of interesting content.  George, who goes under the moniker of Still Burning, took some time out to answer a few questions for our 'Why Blogger?' feature.

Hello, how are you?

Currently wondering that despite the record high temperatures during the day in Aberdeenshire why is my car windscreen still all frosted over in the mornings.

Sum up your blog in 140 character tweet.

Irregular reviews and interviews from a blog based on some of the musical about to happen and has already happeneds in Aberdeen.

There's little (if any) monetary gain in blogging. Why do you do it?

Just to let the rest of the world know that there is a vibrant music scene in Aberdeen, sometimes.  Oh, and to moan about it.

I've been a bit busy the last few months with work and other stuff but hopefully getting back into the game properly again.

Allow yourself some self praise, what's your proudest blog related moment?

This is a difficult one.  Maybe some of the emails we've had from featured artists, but they probably say the same to everyone so it maybe that doesn't count.

On a personal note, photographing The Damned at Wickerman Festival last year.  It meant a lot to me but probably no-one else.

You're on a plane and the only in-flight movie is Maid In Manhatten. What do you take to:
Listen to: My mp3 player which always has some old stuff, some recent-ish stuff and some new releases.  I like the fact that it is only 2GB meaning that I have to change it regularly but then I always like making up CDs and stuff.  Aye, it works for me.
Read: A music mag and maybe 2 paperbacks for £7 from the shop before I get on if I can find a second one that suits.  Is it just me that struggles with that?  Why do I HAVE to buy two?
Watch: I'd make everyone watch The Warriors, that'll teach 'em.

What Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Ah, the difficult task of namedropping bands and then missing out someone. Stanley have an album out in April which I think will be liked outwith Aberdeenshire.

Do you write your blog with an audience in mind, or do you blog about what's on your mind?

I can honestly say that almost no thought is given to our audience. I have asked what folk want to read but the response was more pictures so we sorted that (I think). Good question actually.

What do you think blogs bring to the music 'scene'?

Done properly and without worrying about upsetting the band/their PR/the promoter/friend who plays in the band they are generally an honest view from the writer of the event or record or whatever.  What I do not like is reading a blog and finding everything all good and hunky dory because that is simply not the case.  Having said that, sometimes bands need a reviewer to suit the genre so there are ways to soften the blow of `its shite`.

I was brought up in a world of paper fanzines so its just the same but with recycled pixels.  Much more green friendly and all that.

As a reader, what blog(s) do you frequent?

On regular reading probably none that haven't been mentioned before although I do find some pretty decent reading on random blog sites when researching artists who are coming to Aberdeen to play.  Wordpress (and Blogger etc.) have been great for the music scene in general.

Thanks very much for talking to us. Would you care to end with a joke?

The price of petrol?

Check out Flares n Seagulls here

We're Only Here For The Banter - Thula Borah

Thula Borah are a four piece from Glasgow who after releasing their debut album 'Mind River Matter' in 2010 have been gigging extensively and plying their post-rock influenced trade up and down the country.  Their latest collection of tracks, EP 'Live Secretly' is now available on Bandcamp on a pay-what-you-like basis and is packed full of challenging and engaging tunes, steeped in post-rock influences, which is hardly surprising given the EP was recorded by Andy Miller at Gargleblast Studios.  Lead singer/guitarist Lloyd took the time to answer some question of our usual 'We're Only Hear For The Banter Feature'.  Have a read below.

Hello, how are you?

Aye, no' bad.

It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?

Yeah, for some reason it is always incredibly hard to talk about your own music.  Although we are influenced by so many bands and different types of music I think our sound can be traced to a few elements.  The foundation being 90s, mainly American, alternative rock and then the eye opening influence of so called post-rock and post-metal of Mogwai, Sigur Ros and Isis shaping it towards a more instrumental and ambient sound.

What's your song writing process like?

It differs, we have came across songs in a variety of ways.  Mainly though someone demos a song at home and if there is a consensus that it is worth learning then we all start working on it or, as has happened more often recently, someone will come in with a riff or a starting point and we all jam on it from there and try to let the song write itself so-to-speak.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Four short men looking at their feet.  We are looking at introducing a harness and pyrotechnics but for the time being we’ll just have to appreciate venues that put on a good, atmospheric light show because we don’t do much on stage.  Hopefully the music makes up for that.

If it were all to end tomorrow, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

There have been a lot of good gigs to look back on as high points, but releasing an album and EP would be the high point for me.  Having our music reach people across the world (thanks to the Internet) is amazing and hard to get your head around and we hope it'll still be listened to when it does all come to an end for us.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2012?

In the short term we have what is probably our biggest gig yet, supporting *shels at The Classic Grand on the 23rd of June and we are also starting to record a new EP that month too.  Hopefully the rest of the year will be filled up with playing live as far and wide as possible.

At Scottish Fiction we focus on new Scottish music, how do you as a band view the Scottish music 'scene'?

It’s definitely healthy and thriving in many respects.  It’s probably too healthy!  I remember one night we tried to book a last minute rehearsal the night before a gig and almost every single rehearsal place in greater Glasgow was completely booked up.  It goes to show just how many bands there are out there, but inevitably with that comes a bit of exploitation with some venues and promoters chucking on 5 bands per night and trying to get as much money from them as possible, so it’s not always positive.  But the sheer number of bands means there is always something interesting going on and there will always be a crop of excellent bands kicking about.

What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

I’d say Ohm and Little Bay are the best bands we’ve played with and I’d urge people to go and see them live.  Plus Without Aeroplanes and Suplex The Kid are lovely people and have great EPs out there worth checking out.  I’m also excited about the band Towers, look out for them.

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

Ehm...People are always saying to me "Hindsight is such a wonderful thing, isn't it?"  And I say "Dunno, ask me in a fortnight."

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Sunday, 15 April 2012

Record Store Day 2012 - Scottish Fiction Guide

Next Saturday 21st April is the time when collectors and lovers of the sonic warmth of vinyl call their bank to increase their overdraft, extend their credit limit or perhaps remortgage their house.  It's Record Store Day and it's shaping up to be a doozy right here in Glasgow.  The good people of Monorail, LOVE Music, Nice 'N' Sleazy's, Insularis Records and more have pulled out the stops to ensure its as much about live performances, intimate settings and local music as it is about rare pieces of black plastic.  This years RSD release list is almost a who's who of rock royalty and there's some fantastic items on there.  I must say I am alarmed to say the least at the marked up prices of some items (must be noted that this is NOT the shops prices but the suppliers) but perhaps it has finally been noted that many RSD releases wind up selling for inflated prices on eBay days after.

Here's our Scottish Fiction dream list of what we think are the best picks of the list.  Where applicable I've noted any special information next to the release:

Admiral Fallow - 'Boots Met My Face' - Gatefold LP, limited to 1000 copies, first time available on vinyl
Animal Collective - 'Transverse Temporal Gyrus' - 12" four track EP
Arcade Fire - 'Sprawl II Remix' - 12"
Arctic Monkeys - 'R U Mine?' - Ltd heavyweight purple 7"
Bat For Lashes - 'Strangelove' - Etched 7", limited to 750 copies
Battles - 'Gloss Drop 4' - 12", limited to 500 copies
Beach House - 'Lazuli' - Blue/opaque 7"
Belle & Sebastian - 'Crash' - 7", limited to 1000 copies
Bloc Party - 'She's Hearing Voices' - 7", re-release for RSD 2012
Django Django - 'Storm' - 7", limited to 500 copies
Edwyn Collins - 'Tape Box' - 6 x 7" boxset, limited to 500 copies
Fair Ohs - 'The Singles Single' - 7", limited to 200 copies
Field Music - 'Actually, Nearly' - 7", limited to 500 copies
Gorillaz - 'DoYaThing' - 10" picture disc, limited to 500 copies
Graham Coxon - 'What'll It Take' - 7", limited to 750 copies
Hot Chip - 'Night And Day' - One sided limited 12"
Human, Don't Be Angry - 'Human, Don't Be Angry' - LP
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - 'Third Swan' - 7"
Laura Marling - 'Flicker And Fail' / 'To Be A Woman' - 7"
M. Ward - 'Primative Girl' - 7" white vinyl, limited to 300 copies
M83 - 'Mirror' - 7", limited to 500 copies
Metronomy - 'Black Eye Burnt Thumb (Woodwind Version)' / 'You Could Easily Have Me (Woodwind Version)' - 7"
Moby - 'The Poison Trees' / 'Lie Down In Darkness' - 12" white vinyl, limited to 300 copies
of Montreal / Deerhoof - 'Split 7"' - 7"
Regina Spektor - 'The Prayer Of Francois Villon' / 'Old Jacket' - 7" white vinyl, limited to 300 copies
Ryan Adams - 'Heartbreak A Stranger' / 'Black Sheets Of Rain' - 7", Bob Moulds covers, limited to 500 copies
S.C.U.M. / Big Deal - Split 7"
She & Him - 'Volume 1' - Coloured vinyl LP
Sigur Ros - 'Ekki Mukk' - 10", limited to 750 copies
Slow Club - 'Paradise' - LP, limited to 500 copies
The Beatles - 'No 1's Single Collection' - 4 x 7" singles in tin box, limited to 1000 copies
The Black Keys - 'El Camino' - 2 x LP, 7" gatefold with poster and bonus CD, limited to 500 copies
The Cure - 'Three Imaginary Boys' - LP, numbered coloured vinyl
The Cure - 'Seveenteen Seconds' - LP, numbered coloured vinyl
The Cure - 'Faith' - LP, numbered coloured vinyl
The Cure - 'Pornography' - LP, numbered coloured vinyl
The Cure - 'The Top' - LP, numbered coloured vinyl 
The Flaming Lips / Mastadon - 'A Spoonful Weighs A Ton' - 7" pink vinyl, limited to 800 copies
The Futureheads - 'No 1 Song In Heaven' - 7"
The Jezabels - 'Rosebud' - 7"
The Wedding Present - '4 Chansons EP' - 10" coloured vinyl
The White Stripes - 'Handsprings' / 'Red Death At 6.14' - 7" limited red/black swirl vinyl
Two Door Cinema Club - 'Acoustic EP' - 7", limited to 500 copies

There's also a hell of a lot more and for a full list feast your eyes on this.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Scottish Fiction Submissions - 13th April

Before giving the low down on the tracks which hit my inbox this week, it's time for a gratuitous plug!

With a teensy bit over two months to go before the very first, and quite possibly the very last, Scottish Fiction Presents Gig we don't want you to forget to clear your diary, cancel all appointments, wash your hair the night before and just generally be free on Sunday 17th June from 8pm for a night of musical exploits from Michael Cassidy, The Spook School, Queen Jane and Saint Death.  Hope to see you there!

boletes - FLAWS

This actually dropped in last week, but I rather strangely forgot about it.  We played the track 'Creature' on Monday's show, which is a fantastic acoustic jam which conjures up images of the Radiohead video for 'There There'.  The album itself is a wonderful tapestry of folk, acoustic, ambient and experimental music, which upon repeat listens reveals more and more.  Check out our favourite track, 'The Pigeon In The Murder' and follow the link to get the full album.

Mickey 9's - Mickey 999

Another one which has nestled in the inbox longer than it should have.  Glasgow band Mickey 9's have followed up on the success of their last EP 'A Thing To Try And Dance To' by releasing this single entitled 'Mickey 999'.  It's funky, got a beat and coaxes a hip sway or two.  Check out the alarmingly true but funny video below.

Thula Borah - Live Secretly

Another late one (last one I promise) but the reason for this is that it took me a while to get my head round.  I'm glad I stuck with it though, because Glasgow four-piece Thula Borah have put together a solid EP in the shape of 'Live Secretly'.  With three songs over the 8 minute mark, it's almost too obvious to point to the post-rock Mogwai influence, yet that's not all that defines the sound with grunge and shoe-gaze influences present in equal measures.  'Murder' is my personal highlight, a woozy slow burning gem of a track.

Elephant Gun - Home 

Elephant Gun are a three piece from Edinburgh, who I hope don't condone the shooting of gentle giants with big ears, however they have got a nifty sound about them.  Acoustic folk with a Eastern European twist, some of their earlier demo's have the ring of a Romanian woman playing the accordion, but recent demo 'Home' is extremely catchy.  Fans of ukuleles will enjoy.

Father Sculptor - Ember / Blue

Father Sculptor are a little bit of an enigma.  Other than their location, Glasgow, I don't know much about them, other than they absolutely astound me with the solemn beauty that is 'Ember'.  If Morrisey was dead, then they'd be channelling his spirit in amongst the mature distorted sound created with jangly guitars and soaring keys.  Second track 'Blue' reminds me a lot of The Twilight Sad, in turn marinated in Joy Division's squeezed juices, there's the exciting and imminent promise of something really special brewing here.  Get on board now with the single released via the above links on Monday 16th April.

Collar Up - The Fear Of Love

Edinburgh dream-pop trio Collar Up return with their new single out on 23rd April called 'The Fear Of Love'.  It's more upbeat that previous outing 'Short Term Memories', yet all the ingredients that tickled us last time are there, the warmth in the vocals, the power behind the piano and complimentary ambient guitar.  A song about, "the constant and exhausting chase for a euphoria which turns out to be temporary".

Stanley - Animals With Amazing Disguises

Lets end with an album eh?  'Animals With Amazing Disguises' is the debut album from Aberdeen based five-piece Stanley.  There's a whole heap of creativity on this record as previous singles 'Sandwiches & Tea' and 'Monkeys & Friends' illustrated.  Here's a sneak peek at track one from the LP out on Monday 16th April.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 9th April 2012

That picture above serves as a reminder of how I nearly electricuted myself doing gardening.  The lesson?  Do less gardening and listen to more music.  And what better way to start than by listening again to Monday's show.  Here's the playlist:

Django Django - Life's A Beach
Fur Hood - And The Sky Was As A Shield
Rachel Sermanni - Eggshells (Acoustic)

Mixing It Up - Madonna - I'm Addicted - As chosen by Jamie Sparks

Mickey 9's - Mickey 999
Hank Scorpio - Lost And Found
The New Fabian Society - Lost In Berlin

Classic Album - Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas - Heaven Or Last Vegas

Lightships - Sweetness In Her Spark
boletes - Creature
Marionettes - Deja When?
Quickbeam - Seven Hundred Birds
Best Coast - The Only Place

Peenko's Friday Freebies - The Magnetic North - Bay Of Skaill

Poor Thing - Miss World Contemplates
Mummy Short Arms - Silicone Dream
Julia And The Doogans - Diamonds

Featured Artist - Travis
All I Wanna Do Is Rock
Selfish Jean

Homework - Thoughts
Happy Particles - Come Home All Dead Ones
Aerials Up - The Old And The Innocent