Saturday, 28 September 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 25th September 2013

f you pay attention round these parts you'll be well aware of my gushing blogger love for this week's live guest Lovers Turn To Monsters.  Possessing an ability to pen open, honest and emotionally charged lyrics, twisted in with pop culture, geeky jokes, and personal highs and lows, he is, in this blogger's opinion one of Scotland's under appreciated songwriters.  Coupled with lo-fi melodies and a goofy demeanour, it was a pleasure to welcome Kyle back onto the show.

As well as three live tracks courtesy of my guest, there was new music from Atom Tree, Giant Fang and Hector Bizerk, as well as the second instalment of my Oxjam: We're Skint, They're Skinter podcasts.

Atom Tree - P.S.

Smog - Chosen One - As chosen by Lovers Turn To Monsters

Lovers Turn To Monsters - I Don't Think You Like Me - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM Studio

Owen - Playing Possum For A Peed - As chosen by Lovers Turn To Monsters

Lovers Turn To Monsters - I Miss You - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM Studio

Lovers Turn To Monsters - LA Gear - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM Studio

Andrew Pearson & The Riflebirds - If My Dreams - As chosen by Lovers Turn To Monsters


FEATURE - Oxjam: We're Skint, They're Skinter

Giant Fang - Golden Age
Woodenbox - Royal Mile
The Deadline Shakes - Bright Spot In A Bad Year
The Last Battle - Perfecting The Art (Of Saying Nothing)
Hector Bizerk - Welcome To Nowhere

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 25th September 2013 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Monday, 23 September 2013

EP Review - Angler Ape - irremplaçable

This is a very interesting music indeed.  I guess you’d call it intelligent electronica?  It's not dance music, not in my book anyway, maybe a more rave-infused M83 is a good comparison.  Treated vocals, lovely warm fuzzy synths, drum patterns made from static and interesting dynamics keep this always a creative step or two away from four to the floor predictability.

When He Starts is all edgy squeak squidgy beats, and then a sort of travelling wave of vocals drenched in infinite reverb not a million miles away from Thom Yorke on The Eraser.  It ends a little abruptly for my liking and doesn’t do much more than establish the mood but it’s an attention-grabbing opener.

The next track, Clair Takes Too Much Ketamine is a brilliant stand-out for me.  Blessed-out synth drones strike up a mood and then slowly envelop you, whilst fizzy electronic percussion begins its dance around your eardrums.  Eventually it all sort of levels out into a clear place that sort of sounds like dance music experienced at an emotional remove and then goes through a few interesting iterations and permutations before the end.  It’s kind of like someone has taken the thought that listening to dance music on drugs sounds good, but it would be safer if it sounded like that without you having to be on drugs.  That’s progress, kids.  Oh, and drugs are bad, m'kay?

Metallipsis, the third track, starts with a gorgeous piece of reverb and static-y beats that sounds like the start of a Four Tet track or something off Post.  Then heavily treated vocals start - insistent, repeating and illegible.  Oddly enough though, it doesn’t have the same progression that the previous one did.  It just sort of gets something interesting going, does that for a bit and then the beats stop to let the one riff do its thing for a few times and then stop . It's really good, but one feels there's more to come in terms of structure. 

This music feels like someone playing in the true sense of the word, following an interesting idea and seeing where it takes them.  On this showing, it should be somewhere very interesting indeed.

- Tom Everett

Angler Ape - irremplaçable is available to download now on Dream Dark.

EP Review - Cleavers/The Kimberly Steaks - Split 7"

No wheels were reinvented in the making of this EP.  This is in no way a bad thing, as what you have is two bands unafraid to play music in a very well-defined style which they and their gig-going audiences love.

Cleavers might be splitting up, apparently.  That’s a shame as they’re as energetic a live act as you’ll see.  Agonised, muscular thrashing of instruments, bassists jumping off speaker stacks and invading the dance floor, and punchy, precise punk-pop tailor-made to make a grotty cellar full of sweaty people jump up and down, and occasionally crash into each other.

This is a good record of their sound - buzzsaw guitars, lead vocals which sound like someone sandpapering his own throat, shouty backing vocals in the chorus which you just know they dashed back to the mics to yell before running off to rock out some more, interspersed with those little new wave lead lines that every punk band from The Adverts have done.  You can’t really call them solos, they're very much from the school of thought that says ‘solos are rubbish, all you need are four notes’ and it’s hard to argue when they do the job in such a powerful, rumbunctious way.

The Kimberley Steaks are one of those faster, punk-polka bands that have always existed since about 1982, and should always exist as long as they let young people out at night.  They sound like a Glaswegian Husker Du as they plow through their angular, chugging chord progressions, keeping pace to the maximum all the way through as lyrics are spat out in a breathless rush.  Then everyone sings on the choruses, which are often the title sung over and over so you know what the song’s called.  They have a good ‘woah, woah, woah-ah-oh!’ at the end of their last song that everyone can join in on.  I have no idea what any of the songs are about at all.  Nor should I.  They’re good clean punk-rock fun and from their mission statement, ‘We enjoy playing shows with good bands and getting drunk’ it’s clear that the intention of this music, is that dancing about violently whilst guitarists and drummer play loudly, is one of the purest forms of fun that you can get.  No arguing with that here.

- Tom Everett

Cleavers / The Kimberly Steak - Split 7" is out now on Fuzzkill Records on 7" vinyl and download, both available here.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 18th September 2013

Beards and smiles.  What a guy RM Hubbert is.  Despite growing in popularity, despite bagging the Scottish Album of the Year for last album Thirteen Lost & Found  and despite being just about to head out on tour in support of his new album Breaks & Bone,  Hubby still found time to come down to our wee community radio station and join me on the show.

Talking about his latest album Breaks & Bones  Hubby reveals where much of the inspiration came from, as well as the aftermath of his well deserved SAY Award win back in June.  Plus we spin three tracks hand picked by the man himself, and there's a sneak preview of some tracks from the album performed live in the studio.

This week's show also features the first of a trio of features about the Oxjam: We're Skint, They're Skinter festival, plus brand new music from Hector Bizerk, Blood Relatives and Honeyblood.

Honeyblood - Bud

Richard Dawson - Black Dog In The Sky - As chosen by RM Hubbert

RM Hubbert - Bolt - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM Studio

Adam Stafford - Cold Seas - As chosen by RM Hubbert

RM Hubbert - Dec 11 - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM Studio

Sebadoh - I Will - As chosen by RM Hubbert

RM Hubbert - Go Slowly - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM Studio

United Fruit - Nothing To Feel

FEATURE - Oxjam: We're Skint, They're Skinter

Blood Relatives - Fowl Mouth

Re-Mixing It Up - Belle & Sebastian - 'I'm A Cuckoo (Avalanches Remix)

Admiral Fallow - These Barren Years
The LaFontaines - All She Knows
Hector Bizerk - Columbus

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Album Review - CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe

Has there been a more keenly anticipated début album by a Scottish artist?  CHVRCHES have played a blinder since the frankly magnificent Lies came out last year, meticulously planning each step whilst never compromising on the quality of the output. 

A drip feed of already classic electro-pop singles in the shape of The Mother We Share, Recover and Gun. A few gigs here and there in the UK.  Lengthy US tours and a support slot with Depeche Mode.  It's all culminating in the star of CHVRCHES rising and rising.  CHVRCHES have been rapturously received and rightly so.  This is a very special band and in The Bones Of What You Believe they have released a very special album indeed.  

If you know the band already you will know the quality of the four singles mentioned above already.  If you don't know them you have a treat in store.  Don't let the electronic tag put you off; this isn't some quasi nostalgic revivalist synth-pop rubbish. 

The quality is consistently high throughout and the remainder of the album is no disappointment.  From the slower paced Tether, to the Yazoo like Night Sky to the majestic Science/Visions there is something here for everyone.  The album's closing track You Caught The Light is worth the admission price alone.  Make no mistake, this is the most important début electronic album since Speak & Spell.  There is magic here.  Get into CHVRCHES now.

- David McElroy

CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe is out on Monday 23rd September via Virgin Records in all good record stores and online.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Single Review - Baby Strange - Friend

Baby Strange are certainly going from strength to strength.  This is quite an achievement considering they "didn’t start this band to get signed or get famous."

Receiving countless glowing reviews from NME and performing on muso Vic Galloway’s show on BBC Radio Scotland, the Glaswegian trio will have their name up in lights in no time whether they like it or not.

Friend is a two minute energy burst of organized ruckus.  The punk ethos is present.  Minimalist shouty lyrics, covering up the pain of saying ‘goodbye to my friend' and a twenty second guitar solo.  It’s not so difficult to imagine yourself singing along to this after one too many.  Very Palma Violet-esque, so much so it could have been a single from their album 180.  No surprises that Baby Strange will be touring with PV for the second time this November.

- Holly Callender

Baby Strange - Friend  is out now on Chess Club via iTunes and limited 7" single.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Album Review - Randolph's Leap - Real Anymore

Easily one of Glasgow’s most prolific bands, Randolph’s Leap return with the fantastic Real Anymore mini-album which really is something everyone should hear.  From technology to nature to a career as a telephone psychic to a terrifying trip to the home on the Indie King, Real Anymore takes you on a fantastically upbeat journey.  As ever the music and lyrics are spot on with bonus points being awarded for the line, “it’s not an exact séance” in the track Psychic.  Picking a stand-out track or two is genuinely hard here as the quality of the songs is maintained throughout but if you were to force me I’d say it's between two.  Psychic and it's tale of a man down on his luck who changes career and even meets up with Derek Acora or title track Real Anymore with a stadium sized chorus are the ones to listen out for. 

An easy comparison to draw is with Belle & Sebastian but for me Randolph's Leap offer more much more than that.  From the acoustic loveliness of Conversation to the near of free form jazz ending of Technology there’s something for everyone and not just jumper and scarf wearing indie fans as the band would put it.  Highly recommended all round.

- David McElroy

Randolph's Leap - Real Anymore is available now via Olive Grove Records on limited cassette, CD (either in independent record stores or direct from the band) or download via iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

EP Review - Emma's Imagination - Underway

Emma’s Imagination have always had that enviable knack of being able to produce music that appeals to both the staunchest hipsters and to the listeners of mainstream chart music and her new EP Underway proves this yet again.  This is her follow up collection to debut album Stand Still and while not quite reaching the high standards she set herself; this EP is a pleasant glance into where she is heading musically.

Where Stand Still was the perfect summer soundtrack, Underway could prove to be a perfect accompaniment to the dreary winters us Scots have to endure.  Opening track Let You Go quickly sets the tone of the EP with the stripped back, atmospheric lone guitar that allows Emma’s voice take centre stage, and it doesn’t disappoint. The haunting tones from Gillespie coupled with the beautiful classic guitar provide an excellent introduction to the EP.

Next track Pour It Out begins with a guitar riff that would not be out of place in a classic spaghetti western and that theme continues throughout the song.  Almost channelling American folk duo The Civil Wars, her wonderfully crisp vocals complement the guitar work perfectly.

The biggest surprise on the EP comes from the cover of Deftones track Change.  Emma achieves something rarely achieved in covers; she makes the track her own but still manages to keep the qualities that make this song so special.  Her sombre vocals over the elegant, distinctive guitar make this the most impressive cover I have heard since Johnny Cash’s Hurt.

Unfortunately, it is in the second half of the EP which loses way as Bells and All About You are just far too similar to opener Let You Go to excite the listener.  Alone, both of these songs are superb, however I am not convinced they belong on this particular EP.

Finally, we are treated to an upbeat track you expect from Emma’s Imagination in closing song Arms of Gold.  A buoyant melody along with some calming vocals provide a cheery end to what is a dark EP.  

is enough for us to see that Emma’s Imagination is still making excellent music, however I feel it is probably two songs too long.  Still, it is a terrific insight into what we can expect from Emma’s Imagination in the future and is an excellent stopgap between Stand Still and her next full-length release.

- Stuart Thompson

Emma's Imagination - Underway is out now via Pebble Island Records.  You can download the EP via iTunes here.

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 11th September 2013

n a show that contained brand new tracks from The Spook School, Franz Ferdinand, and Campfires In Winter, I also hosted the wonderful esperi as my live guest.  As usual with our live sessions, we asked esperi to soundtrack the first part of the show, chatted about his music, inspirations, and forthcoming plans, and had the delight of sharing with you three live tracks. 

Mast. - Romance

American Football - Never Meant - As chosen by esperi

esperi - Sonshine - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio

Sufjan Stevens - Pittsfield - As chosen by esperi

esperi - Little Shirts - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio
esperi - Storks - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio

Wheat - Don't I Hold You - As chosen by esperi

Kid Canaveral - A Compromise
Franz Ferdinand - Evil Eye
Young Fathers - Effigy
Baby Strange - Friend

Re-Mixing It Up - Belle & Sebastian - Your Cover's Blown (Miaoux Miaoux Remix)

Angler Ape - When He Starts
Future Glue - Crooked
The Spook School - I'll Be Honest
Campfires In Winter - Stories
Blue Rose Code - Skin & Bones
The Duke, Detroit - Saturday
This Silent Forest - Drowning Man

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 11th September 2013 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Kevin Harper - Scottish Fiction Sessions - Videos

fter my break during August it's fantastic to be able to get back to sharing these videos from our live radio sessions.  The first guest in what will prove to be a fantastic run of sessions, was former Little Eskimo's front-man Kevin Harper.  Crafter of the vastly underrated Kingdom of Wires  album released earlier this year, Kevin brought his '90's alt rock infused vibe into the studio and played three tracks from said album.  Check out the videos below and you can hear the full session and interview here should you wish.

Below are the videos for session tracks Couch, Gibraltar and Kingdom of Wires.  Enjoy, and check out YouTube page for all session videos.

EP Review - Campfires In Winter - Picture Of Health EP

If beautifully intricate vocal harmonies complimenting remarkable musicianship sounds like something you would like, then look no further than Campfires In Winter and their latest EP Picture of Health.  Their first EP since 2010’s Cardboard Ships, it's been a long wait but it has been certainly worth it.

Picture of Health was recorded in the Scottish highlands, and it definitely mirrors the bands stunning surroundings.  Opening track With A Ragged Diamond sets high standards for the rest of the EP.  Lyrically, it is tremendous, however it is the music that has the biggest impact as you listen.  A haunting intro and outro sandwiches an epic filling that forces you tap along during the first listen.  The track conjures up memories of early Twilight Sad, and is just as good as their Scottish counterparts, even challenging them in terms of song length, clocking in at over six minutes long.

Also on the EP are tracks See Us There, Both and Stories, the former being the first real opportunity for us to hear the trademark vocal harmonies that make Campfires In Winter so instantly recognizable.  They do not disappoint as the song crescendos into another solid track for the ever-improving band.  Stories is the closest thing to a pop song you will find from these lads, with a catchy chorus providing a cheery end to the EP.

However, it is title track that is the real stand-out.  With a catchy bass hook underneath atmospheric keyboard, the song demonstrates the musical ability that is rife in this band.  A wonderful vocal performance from singer Robert Canavan could cement him one of the best front men in Scottish music, a battle where he faces some fierce competition.   The contradiction between the outstanding vocal work and unforgiving lyrics such as "I didn’t ask to be born" give the listener a lingering uneasy sensation that lasts well after the song is over.

All in all another wonderful piece of work from Campfires In Winter reminds us why they are so highly regarded in the Scottish music scene.  With harmonies that would have Fleet Foxes phoning to ask for tips and lyrics that hit you in your very core, it wont be long till we see them headlining some big stages across Scotland.  At over 22 minutes long and only four songs, you may find yourselves worrying that the band have over indulged, however after your first listen you will be thinking two things: 'Couldn’t they have made that longer’ and ‘thank god for the repeat button!’

- Stuart Thompson

 Campfires In Winter - Picture of Health EP is released via Bloc+Music on  30th September.  You can download lead track Picture of Health for free right now from this link.

Friday, 13 September 2013

EP Review - Frightened Rabbit - The Woodpile EP

This year's epic Pedestrian Verse put Frightened Rabbit back on track to the highs of their seminal The Midnight Organ Fight album and saw the band release an outstanding set of songs which managed to both stay true to the Frightened Rabbit sound and get national airplay at the same time.  Lead track from this latest EP, The Woodpile, is the best example of this.

The song has an almost Neu! or Krautrock feel in it’s guitar and drums but builds to a huge and, I’m happy to say it, pop chorus which is just fantastic.  It’s a real highlight of the album for me and it’s great to see it get a stand alone release on this new EP.  As well as The Woodpile we also get three new tracks in Default Blues, Radio Silence and Candlelit all of which are well worth getting.  Even if you already own the album, it's worth grabbing this EP.

Default Blues brings to mind Setting Sun by The Chemical Brothers, albeit a slower version without the beats and crucially Noel Gallagher.  Radio Silence could easily be a lost REM track from the Fables of the Reconstruction era which is very much no bad thing and Candlelit is simply a lovely song.

- David McElroy

Frightened Rabbit - The Woodpile EP is now via Atlantic Records.  You can download the EP here.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Single/EP Review - Franz Ferdinand - Evil Eye

Franz Ferdinand are back and this latest offering proves they’re still ‘making music for girls to dance to’.  Latest single Evil Eye is nice jaunty track with a sing-a-long chorus and is a sure fine way to get the feet tapping, regardless of gender.

Taken from their recent album Right Words, Right Thoughts, Right Action, the single is accompanied by a rather bizarre video, directed by Diane Martel (who’s also responsible for the Blurred Lines video) where Alex Kapranos sporting an ominous moustache is the least of your worries.  Check it out below.

- Holly Callender
Franz Ferdinand - Evil Eye is released via Domino on 28th October 2013.  Their album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is available now.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Album Review - RM Hubbert - Breaks & Bone

M Hubbert
, or ‘Hubby’, hasn’t wasted any time since his previous LP Thirteen Lost & Found landed him with 2012’s Scottish Album of the Year Award.  This achievement also means his new effort Breaks & Bone carries with it the weight of expectation - and it delivers.

Breaks & Bone contains elements of Thirteen Lost & Found, most notably the incredibly skillful classical guitar style and moments of unpredictability, but with what sounds like a distinctly flamenco-esque turn at times.  Whatever you want to call this genre-defying album, there’s no denying it has moments of incredible beauty . 

Instrumental tracks are mixed in with those only featuring Hubby’s voice (compared to the guest vocalists on Thirteen Lost & Found) and they work to great effect.  The result is a collection of highly personal, dramatic and reflective songs which strike me more as a atmospheric soundtrack than songs of a more formulaic nature, but that’s what one would expect from Hubby.

Although Breaks & Bone flows more like a theme-driven soundtrack, it does contain some stand-out tracks.  The lyrics from the second track Bolt seems to fit well with the title of the album, with its raw vulnerability, yet it remains oddly catchy.  Another noteworthy track is Dec 11 with it’s whisper-like, but faster-paced vocals. 

The album ends with the reflective Slights.  It's theme of closure and moving onward strikes me as an excellent track with which to end the emotional journey.  Overall, Breaks & Bone takes us from moments of sheer tranquility and light to dramatic darkness and then back again, but it’s worth the trip.

- Janet Feenstra

RM Hubbert - Breaks & Bone will be released by Chemikal Underground on 27 September 2013.  You can pre-order the album here.  Check out the stunning Dec 11 below.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 4th September 2013

I'm baaaaaaack!  Did you miss me?  Didn't think so.  A HUGE thanks to Chris Murray for covering things whilst I was away.  There was really only one way to get back into the swing of things and that was to dive in with another live guest. 

Kevin Harper, former front-man of Little Eskimos, released his brilliant album Kingdom Of Wires in March this year, and it was our delight to have him join me in the Pulse 98.4 studio.  During the session we find out the real origins of Kevin Harper, and discuss the wealth of musical talent that exists in Scotland.  We also cram in new music from Lidh, Blood Relatives, Campfires In Winter and much more!

Blood Relatives - Deerheart

TV On The Radio - Second Song - As chosen by Kevin Harper

Kevin Harper - Couch (Live in Pulse 98.4 FM)

Guided By Voices - Glad Girls - As chosen by Kevin Harper

Kevin Harper - Gibraltar (Live in Pulse 98.4 FM)
Kevin Harper - Kingdom Of Wires (Live in Pulse 98.4 FM)

David Bowie - Five Years - As chosen by Kevin Harper

CHVRCHES - The Mother We Share

Re-Mixing It Up - Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire - Cold City Avalanche (Machines In Heaven Remix)

Campfires In Winter - Picture Of Health
Randolph's Leap - Real Anymore
RM Hubbert - Son Of Princess, Brother Of Rambo
Frightened Rabbit - Candlelit
Lidh - Rockpool Hospital
Carbs - Salty
Divorce - Everybody Ruined It For Everybody
Pinact - Beauty Freak

Cover Lover - Lovers Turn To Monsters - I Miss You

Luther The Bhear - Lonely Town

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 4th September 2013 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Album Review - Travis - Where You Stand

It's been a long time coming but finally Travis are back with new album Where We Stand, rightfully reclaiming their status as one of Scotland's proudest musical exports of the 21st Century.

Opener Mother is a slow burner to start with but when the chorus kicks in and frontman Fran Healy aptly asks, "why did we wait so long?", you can't help but feel a tiny bit delighted at their return.  Moving is a definite toe tapper, with a superb vocal performance from Fran on the chorus.  It's one of many tracks on the album, including Warning Sign and A Different Room, which proves that, even after almost 20 years, this band can still craft one hell of a great song.

I could have sworn I'd heard the whistling introduction of Reminder previously on a TV advert but can't seem to find any evidence...  Anyway, this one's a little softer with breathy vocals and percussion which recreates the soothing, rhythmic rolling of an old steam engine.  You'll see what I mean, probably.

Title track Where You Stand, like a few tracks on the album, is quite piano-heavy, giving it a bit of a Keane-esque vibe (please don't shoot me, it really does!)  For a title track, you'd probably expect a bit more 'oomph' but it does the job and sounds good so there's no real need for it to deliver anything bigger.

Another Guy was the first we heard from the new album (if you didn't see the excellent video by German director Wolfgang Becker get it watched below!)  The band exercise muted chords and rim shots to create a really subdued feel and Fran's apathetic vocals give the lyrics a much stronger meaning (that being, he is not a happy bunny).  This subdued vibe continues into New Shoes which has a bit of a reggae dub feel to it.  That may should like it shouldn't work but weirdly enough it does, and very well too.  This makes it a bit of a stand out track, not because it's mind-blowingly epic, but because it just offers something a bit different compared to the rest of the record.

On the other hand, On My Wall and Boxes don't really possess anything which makes them particularly stand out but thankfully closer The Big Screen saves the day.  The piano ballad sees Fran channel his inner Jeff Buckley in one final exquisite vocal performance. 

You may long for the good old days of classics Happy and Driftwood and upon listening to this new record for the first time, you may find a few of the tracks bleed into each other.  If you instantly love it, then great but if not, do yourself a favour and give it a chance.  Stick with it and it's sure to grow on you.  The guys may have hit their peak in the noughties but if this album proves anything, it's that they still have a few great melodies left in them yet.

- Nina Glencross

Travis - Where You Stand is out now on Red Telephone Box on all formats.  Get it in records shops and online here.  Check out the video for Another Guy below.

Single Review - Be Like Pablo - Without The Pain (Feat. Kuda)

Supporting the recent release of their debut album The New Adventures, Forres geek-pop band Be Like Pablo deliver a single which is a little different but altogether very cool.  It's the slick and articulate vocal delivery of Aberdeen based rapper Kuda that gives this track its edge.  Crunching guitars and twinkling synths serve to give the song a signature Be Like Pablo sound but as Kuda brings in that refreshing hip hop twist, it becomes an instant album stand out track, definitely worthy of its own release.

- Nina Glencross
Be Like Pablo - Without The Pain is out now on Stray Cat Records.  Buy it on iTunes here and check out the video below.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Doune The Rabbit Hole - Review

Review by Bobby Motherwell


hen asked if we would like to attend the annual Doune The Rabbit Hole festival for Scottish Fiction, both myself and Peter had no hesitation.  As someone who is not known for festival going – a one day visit to T in the Park during the Strathclyde Park years being my only foray – I was delighted to sacrifice my festival virginity for such an interesting line up.

And so it was that I set off on Friday morning to take in Friday afternoon’s festivities on my own, to be joined later in the day by my wife Arlene and son Louie, and on Saturday by Peter.  Having decided to pitch the tent in the family section in the hope that a more peaceful sleep would be assured, I set off to catch the first act of the day and settle into the cosy, laid back zone that this quirky festival creates.

With my programme in hand and a time slot allocated to each act – which I’m led to believe is a welcome structure new to DTRH – I grabbed my beer, fended off the wasps and sat down to take in Lori McTear.  Lori is a Glsgow singer songwriter who creates some fine melodies and crafted lyrics and was not in the least fazed by the dubious honour of opening the main Jabberwocky stage, even managing to engage the small afternoon audience in some lyrical participation.

Next on the main stage were Garden of Elks, a wonderful 3 piece from Glasgow who really stepped up the tempo with their brand of indie/pop and offset conflicting harmonies.  By this stage the sun began to make and appearance and I was settling into my new surroundings just fine.

In the Baino stage, The Skarsoles were pumping out their very own mix of ska and balloon modelling, yes you read that correctly, balloon modelling.  A talent which is not only unique, but one which went down well with one young chap who wielded a balloon sword for the duration of the gig.

Back to the Main Stage to catch We Are The Physics.  And very glad I was too that I did.  Announcing in advance that they would like to “apologise for the racket” and that they were “so sorry”, they then produced a magical pop set which reminded me of a Devo for the modern age.  Brilliant pop/punk mixed with great chat, energy and at times hilarious lyrics blended into songs which so gloriously de-constructed themselves, the band went on to announce that the Beatles were the third best band.  Then they burst into Goran Ivanisovitch. Lovely stuff!

During the course of the day, I managed to flit between stages trying to take in as much as I could and managed to catch some of No Island, Man Get Out and Haight Ashbury before settling myself down to catch the four big fish I had been waiting for: Rick Redbeard, Meursault, PAWS and Miaoux Miaoux.

Rick Redbeard, returning to DTRH this year but without the rest of The Phantom Band which he fronts as his day job, opened his set to an almost empty Baino stage.  The notes rang out from his guitar finger-picking around the grassy spaces and within seconds the tent had filled up.  Rick proceeded to enthral us with his beautifully crafted tunes and lyrics from his 2013 album No Selfish Heart – a stick on contender for album of the year.  With tunes like Old Blue and Any Way I Can, this was by far the best of the festival so far. Excellent stuff.

Meursault, in the meantime began their set at the Jabberwocky tent, so a quick shift across the field was required, stopping only to pick up a beer from the beer tent.  It has been some time since I last saw Meursault – a Jonnie Commons gig at the old Captains Rest when the Deskjob album was released - and much water has passed under the bridge as they say.  Now quite comfortably steeping up to the festival mark and out of the dank cellar venues, Meursault performed a stellar set with Lament for a Teenage Millionaire a stand out, received and responded to by the adoring audience.

PAWS. What can you say about a PAWS set?  It rocked and bucked and threatened to obliterate all that encroached upon it.  A fabulous riot of a sound which complimented the ensuing darkness outside.  With critical acclaim received around the release of their 2012 album Cokefloat, PAWS are undoubtedly a band on a mission and with the creativity and kick ass attitude to execute said mission with some aplomb.  A raucous set which was topped with a fabulous rendition of Meursault's William Henry Miller, PAWS are now a 'must see' on any gig list.  A quick chat with Phillip after the gig revealed that he was waiting for a lift from Rick Redbeard to head straight to the airport, Stuttgart the destination, for some gigs.  I’m sure it went well.

Miauox Miaoux closed the day on the main stage and by this time the excitement of the day and the far too close proximity of bar to stage, was taking its toll on me.  A more perfect end to a festival day you could not wish for.  Julian Corrie was in the company of a festival crowd who were ready to dance and sing their socks off.  And they did.  An utterly stunning set, culminating in the mesmeric Hey Sound, the crowd begged for more before the sound dispersed and the troglodyte retiral to the canvas cave beckoned.  It did for me.  Arlene, Louie and I headed to the tent.  My first festival day over, and another two to go.  It was going to be a long and wonderful weekend!


As I said before, Peter joined me on Saturday.  Highlights of Saturday for me were Panda Su and John Knox Sex Club.  I was gutted to have missed Beerjacket, Washington Irving, and Shambles Miller.  Some due to conflicting time slots, some due to a simple inability due to indulgence.

Taking the stage on the Fruitstand tent early on Saturday, Hailey Beavis played a lovely set with an intriguing mix of melodies juxtaposed by lyrics which have a weighty harder edge.  An artist who has evolved into a talented singer songwriter, Norwich born but Edinburgh based, Hailey is going into the studio to record her first full length album which she hopes to have out around Christmas, one to look forward to and definitely an artist for the future.

What can be said about Colonel Mustard and the Dijon Five?  They just might be the perfect small festival Saturday night band!  This lot would not have been out of place on the main stage but only once all of the kids are safely tucked up in bed.  Their blend of crowd pleasing comedy lyrics with music played with genuine talent had the Baino tent audience bouncing and crowd surfing.  Songs like Ginger Girl and How Many Manys Are Too Many Manys, were belted out by their uber confident front man who, whilst wearing half a disco ball as a hat, had the revellers clasped firmly in his grip as he worked them up into a frenzy.  Ok they are never going to win the Mercury music prize but would I book them for a festival?  Absolutely!

One of the highlights of the weekend as already mentioned, were John Knox Sex Club who played a storming set in the Baino tent.  Their songs have beautiful folk music structures twisted to give them a contemporary edge that layers complex melodies driven hard by angst ridden lyrics.  This was the first time I had seen them and I was blown away!  Their singer is the perfect front man who fires out his lyrics with feeling and paints pictures of anger and bitterness whilst engaging the crowd and giving out hugs. I urge to check out their album Raise Ravens and lose yourself in folky perfection.


Given a mid afternoon main stage slot on Sunday, Jo Mango played a beautifully compelling set which highlighted her wonderful voice and perfectly crafted songs. The Doune The Rabbit Hole setting was perfect for Jo who treated an adoring crowd to tracks from her recent Murmarations album with The Black Sun, a personal highlight.  If anything her set could only be improved by moving it into the more serene and atmospheric marquee of the Baino tent where her voice would have carried wonderfully!

Up and coming songbird Soibhan Wilson was showcased in the Fruitstand and Takeover tent on early Sunday evening.  Although perhaps not yet a house hold name it is surely only a matter of time before more punters are flocking to watch her shows.  Cutting a diminutive figure alone on stage with her electric guitar Siobhan‘s breathy voice complemented her songs which have undertones of jazz and country and western with All Dressed Up highlighting this perfectly.  Unperturbed by a short power cut Siobhan picked up her acoustic guitar and walked amongst an attentive audience treating them to a fantastic rendition of Bet Orton’s If I’d Never Seen The Sunshine.  A lovely moment from a lovely singer.

There is not a lot that can be said about Rachel Sermanni that hasn’t been said already.  This folk stalwart from Carrbridge in the Highlands is flying high at the moment on the back of her debut album Under Mountains, and her non-stop touring schedule.  Her strangely situated set in the Fruitstand and Takeover tent (surely a main stage act!) was the highlight of my festival and well worth waiting until Sunday night for.  A hugely engaging talent she conversed with the audience and was happy to play tracks requested of her (she played Eggshells for me!)  Lyrically her songs are a joy and her voice is beautiful.

And with that my weekend was done.  Doune The Rabbit Hole was my first weekend festival, needless to say, it has been my best.  And I will go back! 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

That's My Jam #24 - Blood Relatives - Deerheart

Title tracks always interest me.  My thinking goes that for the band to name their album after the track, then it's got to be a strong representation of what their 'sound' is, and what the album will be about.  This of course could be complete nonsense on my part, but should the theory be correct then Blood Relatives album Deerheart, out via Comet & Carthwheels on 28th October will be amazing.

How I know this is of course thanks to the brand new single from the quartet, Deerheart, which is out on 9th September.  Clinging onto the feel good summer vibe, the rhythm section drives through underneath Anna's gorgeous vocals.  Check out the video which is equally smile worthy.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Single Review - CHVRCHES - The Mother We Share

CHVRCHES debut album The Bones Of What You Believe is one of this year's most anticipated releases.  To precede the album the band are re-releasing their debut single The Mother We Share which was originally issued in 2012 on download and very limited coloured vinyl which, believe me is very hard to find.  This song highlights all that is good about CHVRCHES.  From the samples of Lauren’s voice starting the song, to the Speak & Spell era Depeche Mode meets Yazoo electronics of the verse, to the sheer beauty of the chorus – it’s synthpop perfection.  CHVRCHES just have a knack of doing everything very very well.  We’re lucky to have so much good electronic music coming out of Scotland just now and we’re doubly lucky to have CHVRCHES spearheading it.

- David McElroy

CHVRCHES - The Mother We Share is released 16th September.  Check out the video below: