Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Single Review - Wozniak - MFMB / New Hampshire

Local post-rockers Wozniak haven’t been around that long but seem to be going about things the right way-playing loud as hell live shows, and getting their sound down on record effectively and pleasingly.  As far as I know, this is their first release, a two-song effort which sets out their sound and shows great promise.

The first song is MFMB.  They describe themselves as shoegaze and post-rock but actually this to me sounds more like a less angular take on Will Sergeant’s guitar work on ‘Crocodiles’-era Bunnymen.  It kicks off in pleasingly heavy fashion, with a slow pounding rhythm and a huge, sparse snare that beats like an ominous ticking clock, counting down the seconds till it gives way to the inevitable mighty thrashing.  All very satisfying that is too when it comes.  That, of course, is exactly what she said.

As can often be the case with this kind of music, the most captivating stuff about this is the effects and atmospherics going on in the song. The production on this isn’t like, say, MBV or JAMC where the melodies are buried in static, it’s more like the whole thing’s being played in an echo chamber- the cymbals fizz and rattle, the bass is ominous and distant, and it’s all very goth, but in a good way.  Sort of like Dub in the way the echoes contain everything.  Like Nightmare Goth dub, with Will Sergeant on lead Guitar.  If that was something that sounded appealing.  Oh god, I’m sorry Wozniak, that’s a terrible sounding description.  Tell you what, let’s forget I ever said it.

There’s a nice angry fast bit at the end too, a sort of ‘one-two-three-four-rock out!’ bit tailor-made to sound fantastic live.  One thing that stands out is that Wozniak don’t seem to want to mess about.  Where this genre is often about the six-minute feedback opus where a riff goes on and on to infinity, this song manages several shifts of gear in a mere 4 minutes 34 seconds and is all the more rewarding for it.

That sense of discipline also serves them well on the second song, New Hampshire.  This one’s like a time portal to 1992!  The guitar comes in like swirling fog, and then a sort of genderless whispered falsetto vocal comes in with the beat and THEN all of a sudden it breaks out into a nagging, circular chorus riff which I swear sounds familiar but is great.  The urge to hunt desperately through my record collection is suppressed because this is very good stuff.  In my head I’m dancing in a ragged overcoat, mumbling into a pint of Students’ Union Worthingtons behind a floppy fringe whilst around me people in tie-die trousers, black leather and velvet smoking jackets do that ‘look at me, I’m a tree’ dance.  Just in case that’s not clear, I’m saying this is a GOOD thing.

If I had a complaint, I’d say that I wanted more than just two songs.  Not just out of nostalgia-despite all the old reference points, I think Wozniak sound like something fresh, so I guess I would say I both want and expect a lot more good music from this lot.  The launch is at Sneaky Pete’s this Friday 1st November.  My old battered overcoat and I will see you down at the front.

- Tom Everett

Wozniak - MFMB / New Hampshire is out now and is available to download on a 'name your price' basis via the band's Bandcamp page.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

That's My Jam #25 - Mogwai - Remurdered

Holy fuck baws Batman!  Out of the blue this morning, seminal post-rockers Mogwai dropped a brand new, and free to download, track into the ether of the internet.  It's the first peek at their 7th studio album, Rave Tapes, which will be released on 20th January 2014 via the band's own label Rock Action Records.

Layering throughout, as only Mogwai can do, the track explodes at about 3 minutes in in a gooey synth melee.  Dance your insecurities away, dance and embrace the incredible opulence of Mogwai.

The track is available to download for free here, and Mogwai play as part of Celtic Connections on 28th January 2014.  Tickets available here.

We're Only Here For The Banter - Over The Wall

Returning from a short break in the musical wilderness, Over The Wall are back with a fresh single, Tell Her I Love Her out on the glorious Gerry Loves Records, and a continuing love for crafting 'grown-up' and interesting pop songs.  Consisting of Ben Hillman and Gav Prentice, the band met and formed in Glasgow back in 2006 and, in their words, have been inflicting their relationship on others ever since.

Hello, how are you?

Ben: Very well thank you.

Gav: No too bad.

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

Gav: We've always said we make euphoric pop music, taking away a lot of the unnecessary fluff of pop music and replacing it with other complicated things of our own which are increasingly difficult to perform live, and with the songwriting at the heart of it the most important thing.  Unfortunately years of constantly insisting we make pure pop music has resulted in people slightly underestimating us I think, and particularly overlooking the lyrical content.  So let me stress that we also have lyrics in our songs, into which a lot of thought goes, and we take the songs themselves very seriously.

Ben: Gav and I were recording some new songs in Over The Wall HQ the other day and stumbled across some really old songs of ours in the back of the vault.  It was funny to listen to them again.  Some were great and perhaps should be rushed off and taken further, others were truly awful.  I think what really came across though was that we have always said that we are inspired by people like Bruce Springsteen or Peter Gabriel or Ryan Adams.  In reality these are more like artists that we really like, but those recordings back then sounded like they were influenced by bands like Cursive and Bright Eyes.  This is actually more like the stuff we were listening to a lot at the time.  So with that in mind I would say we are probably most influenced by whatever it is that we are currently enjoying listening to… …and about to rip off… …Toto beware.

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

Ben: We usually start separately and then come together.  The coming together part can happen at any point, and sometimes there is almost a complete song, or at least a complete song skeleton to try and augment.  Other times one of us might hit a couple of chords that sound good together and then we take it from there.  I would say Tell Here I Love Her falls much more into this latter category.

Gav: I think people might be surprised at which one of us came up with which part.  For example, Ben wrote and plays the mandolin part on A Grand Defeat from our first E.P., and I play the keys on it, and Ben came up with the slightly odd guitar tuning which quite a few of our songs are in, and I've come up with melody lines for Ben to play on the trumpet in a couple of songs.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Ben: Hopefully something fun, engaging and enjoyable.

Gav: We have fun and make jokes and there's a lot of energy, but again we do take the songs seriously.  I don't think it detracts from a good song to clown about a bit around it, I think it's a lot more honest than staring at your shoes for the whole show.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?

Ben: There have been a lot of victories for us along the way.  Perhaps the greatest achievement though is that I still really enjoy making music with Gav.  Having been very active recording recently it has been incredibly rewarding to be able to play each other our ideas and see where they go.  I mean don’t get me wrong it was fantastic when Jason Statham asked us to play at his wedding, and when Emilio Estevez asked us to write the soundtrack to the new Mighty Ducks.

Gav: I think if you don't say that the actual music you make and the process of making it is the best achievement then you really couldn't be proud of what you'd done at all.  Hearing your songs on the telly or radio or playing a festival is great but the buzz you get from that doesn't actually last very long, and any material success you get is always dependent on an accompanying slice of blind luck.  I have actually met people who don't like the music they make but think that it'll get them to a certain position, I think that's so cynical and completely the opposite of everything I grew up believing in for music.  I think those people can consider themselves complete failures, whereas we'll always be able to say that we liked it (at least at the time) no matter what.  That said, Jason and Emilio are pals, and it was a pleasure guys.

Has your short break while Gav worked on his solo stuff changed anything within the band?

Gav: It hasn't changed the way we work together or anything, no.  The reason the solo thing happened, and is continuing to happen I suppose, was because I had a bunch of songs that would only really fit by doing them that way, or that I could only do justice to that way, so it meant that Over The Wall wasn't bothered by them.  I must admit that after playing a lot of subtle acoustic things coming back to making a lot of noise and playing solos and that in Over The Wall has been a great deal of fun.

What have you got planned next?

Gav: We have a batch of new songs recorded which you will be hearing very soon, hot on the heels of this single coming out, and we should be taking to the road again in December.

What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Ben: Can I recommend a folk guitarist called Martin Simpson?  He’s from Scunthorpe and has been around for a little while now but I have only recently got in to him thanks to Mark Radcliffe and his Folk Show (BBC Radio 2, Wednesday evening at 7pm).  His latest album ‘Vagrant Stanzas’ is incredible.  It has been produced by Richard Hawley and has got real restraint but masterful guitar playing all at the same time.

Gav: In a similar trad-folk vein, I think everyone should listen to Lau.  Also, my girlfriend is a piper and in the flat at the moment we've mainly been listening to the pibroch of Allan MacDonald, which is this incredibly heartfelt and emotional, and technically brilliant, pipe music, the likes of which in my lowland ignorance I previously didn't know existed.

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

Gav: It goes way back in my family that we don't lower ourselves to the set-up/punchline form.  My great-grandfather was buried with his lathe, and if he could see me now, he'd be turning in his grave.

Check out more from Over The Wall

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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 23rd October 2013

After the distinct lack of beards on last week's show, into the studio came Ross Hoon owner of mighty fine facial hair and better known as Blue Rose Code.  We chatted about his trip to Nashville, his album North Ten, and the process of reconnecting with Scotland and it's culture.  In amongst that we managed to squeeze in three beautifully performed live tracks.  The second hour of the show is feature packed, with Re-Mixing It Up, Cover Lover and Tweet-a-track, plus new music from Plum, Roman Nose, The Leg and Saint Max & The Fanatics.  All the best new Scottish music packaged for your ears.

Washington Irving - Palomides

Karine Polwart - Salters Road - As chosen by Blue Rose Code

Blue Rose Code - From Wester Ross To Nova Scotia (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)

Willy Mason - Into Tomorrow - As chosen by Blue Rose Code

Blue Rose Code - Acquainted With The Night / Silent Drums (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)

Darrell Scott & Paul Brady - Shattered Cross - As chosen by Blue Rose Code

Blue Rose Code - One Day At A Time (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)

Rachel Sermanni - Black Hole
Dora Maar - Jessica Says
Saint Max & The Fanatics - Soul Surrender
Monoganon - Easterhouse

Re-Mixing It Up - Roy's Iron DNA - Only You (Stanley Odd Remix)

Plum - Death Comes With A Bow
Roman Nose - Coming For You
Donna Macoicia - Highlights

Tweet-a-track - Fire Engines - Get Up And Use Me - As chosen by @travisdurden

The Leg - Chicken Slippers

Cover Lover - The Shiverin' Sheiks - Guided Missles

Blindfolds - Lucid

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction Presents: A Beerjackt & Friends Christmas

he most magical time of the year, just got a little bit more magical.  You may have seen we announced the latest Scottish Fiction Presents: gig via Facebook and Twitter on Thursday night.  If not, here's the official blog post promoting what we will be getting up to!  You can purchase tickets right now at this link.

Scottish Fiction Presents: A Beerjacket & Friends Christmas

Glasgow singer-songwriter extravaganza Beerjacket will be playing alongside some special guests in a very special, very Christmassy performance.  We're keeping his musical collaborators under wraps just now, but as we get closer to the night, some treats might just come unwrapped.  Needless to say we have some very exciting things up our sleeve.

Beerjacket's last album, The White Feather Trail, was received to rave reviews throughout the Scottish music press (and beyond).  Recent live shows saw Beerjacket play with Kristin Hersch (Throwing Muses / solo).  She had this to say about his music:

"No matter how much music you listen to, you rarely stumble across a musical approach that does not wear its influences on its sleeve. these songs speak in their own language."

With a new Beerjacket album waiting in the wings for release, this show will be a seasonal mix of tracks old and new.

Support comes from the wonderful Julia and the Doogans with another support act still to be announced.  Julia Doogan has one of the finest female voices in Glasgow, and with back up band of cello, flute and keyboards, the band create charming melodies that will wrap your heart in joy.  Perfect tonic for a Glasgow Christmas evening.

Taking place on Thursday 5th December at Mono Cafe Bar in Glasgow, tickets will be limited in number for a cosy intimate evening, and will be priced at a bargain £5.  Tickets are currently onsale here.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Single Review - The Deadline Shakes - Bright Spot In A Bad Year

The ‘Bad Year’ mentioned in the song title doesn’t seem to have got too much of a hold on this lot, to be honest. This is one of the most relentlessly optimistic songs I’ve heard in a long time. Check this chorus:

"I wake up mornings with my limbs intact/I don’t have money so I don’t get taxed/you are my little bright spot, bright spot, woo!"

I’ve got my own legs, and no money means no tax!  How lucky is THAT?  These guys really have taken the message about being thankful for small mercies to heart.   I guess it might ring a bit hollow if they weren’t putting absolutely everything they had into it.  Put it this way, they sound a whole lot more convincing than The Killers claim to be 'Mr Brightside' in that song about your partner can shacking with someone else.

The optimism is genuine and the joy in the song contagious.  You get the impression that if you nicked this band’s car a hundred miles from home, in half an hour they’d be saying, ‘this walk back to our home town is going to get us really in shape!’  Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen if you play Edinburgh, Deadline Shakes.  For one thing I can’t drive so the theft would be pointless.  All I’m saying is, it’s ok to get the train.

I don’t want to be curmudgeonly- the whole thing is undeniably a charming, summery acoustic pop song.  Violins, accomplished backing harmonies and piano looping around in the background like swallows in the sky, and for three and a half minutes they do their best to make all right with the world.  Personally I like a bit more light and shade in my music, and I would actually have preferred a bit more about this bad year for contrast’s sake, but it’d be churlish not to admit that this song makes me smile.

- Tom Everett

The Deadline Shakes - Bright Spot In A Bad Year is out on Flowers In The Dustbin Records on 9th December.  You can pre-order the single now here.

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 16th October 2013

Guests on this week's show were the lovely ladies of the Cairn String Quartet, who have collaborated and played shows with some of the finest talent in the Scottish music community including Camera Obscura, The Twilight Sad, and Miaoux Miaoux.  In the studio with me playing some of their favourite tracks was Annemarie, Katie and Cat, and chatting about how their work out their intricate collaborations and forthcoming plans.

Music-wise we've crammed in new tracks from There Will Be Fireworks, Lomond Campbell, We Were Hunted and Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire.  There's also a crackin' Re-Mixing It Up track from A Dull Boy by way of Lovers Turn To Monsters.  Enjoy!

Camera Obscura - Troublemaker

Miaoux Miaoux - Stop The Clocks - As chosen by Cairn String Quartet

Cairn String Quartet - We Radioed (RM Hubbert cover)

Emma Pollock with Electric String Orchestra - Intermission - As chosen by Cairn String Quartet

Cairn String Quartet - The Beast (Michael Marra cover)

Cairn String Quartet - Mid Air (Paul Buchanan cover)

Hollow Talk - Choir of Young Believers - As chosen by Cairn String Quartet

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire - Bright Light Fever
Kathryn Sawers - The Good

Re-Mixing It Up - A Dull Boy - Hulk Walks Alone (Lovers Turn To Monsters Remix)

Sonny Carntyne - Grey Mirror
There Will Be Fireworks - Roots
TeenCanteen - Honey
Lomond Campbell - Yesterday's You & Me
We Were Hunted - You Know Me Now
Super Adventure Club - 9 Times
The Rosy Crucifixion - Lose Yourself
Let's Talk About Space - Lullaby For The Universe

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Monday, 21 October 2013

RM Hubbert - Scottish Fiction Session - Videos

few weeks ago my guest on the show was none other than RM Hubbert.  His new album 'Breaks & Bone' is wholesomely wonderful, and in amongst all the chat of the evening Hubby was kind enough to play three tracks from it live on the show.  Here are said tracks for your enjoyment.  You can hear the full session and interview here should you wish.

Scottish Fiction - 18th September 2013 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Below are videos for session tracks, 'Bolt', 'Dec 11' and 'Go Slowly'.  Enjoy, and check out YouTube page for all session videos.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

esperi - Scottish Fiction Session - Videos

A glut of video goodness coming your way.  A few weeks back Chris James Marr, better known to music fans as esperi, was my guest on the Scottish Fiction show.  He played three tracks which we filmed!  Here are the videos from that session.  You can hear the full session and interview here should you wish.

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

Below are videos for session tracks, 'Sonshine', 'Little Shirts' and 'Storks'.  Enjoy, and check out YouTube page for all session videos.

Gig Review - CHVRCHES - O2 ABC 10th October 2013

Image courtesy of JayJay Robertson

enerally speaking the journey to headlining two sold out home town shows at a 1300 strong venue is fraught with sweaty basement gigs, half filled bar venues, and battling against the noise of a drunken crowd.  However CHVRCHES are not a band who should be tarred with generalities.

In the space of a little over 18 months, the trio have exploded in a way that whilst bloggers and muso maybe predicted, the bands humble nature couldn't, or wouldn't, have imagined themselves.  During that time, they have released a couple of singles, an EP, bagged fifth place on the BBC's Sound of 2013 and put out their eagerly anticipated album The Bones Of What You Believe.  Yet Glasgow shows have been few and far between.  So needless to there was a buzz in the air amongst the throngs packed into Sauchiehall street venue.

London duo Thumpers were first on stage, entertaining the early attendees with their brand of alt-pop which has seen them signed to the Sub Pop label.  Having chosen a pre-gig pint over getting into the venue early, I only caught the tail end of their set, but there was enough of interest in those few songs to suggest they may be a name to keep an eye out for.  No matter how good touring buddies Thumpers were though, tonight remains all about one band.  CHVRCHES.

Opener 'We Sink' showcases the catchy synth hooks that have enabled their meteoric rise.  Former The Twilight Sad touring Martin Doherty continues to blare out drum loops with a passionate and energetic display behind the keys as recent single 'Gun' sends the crowd into a rapturous fever. 

It should be noted of course, that all three members of CHVRCHES have served their time in the dingy basement gigs mentioned at the start of this review.  Mayberry with previous bands Blue Sky Archives and Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Cook with Aerogramme and other band The Unwinding Hours, and Doherty with The Twilight Sad.  They are no strangers to putting on a live show, and it's clear that back in from of a Scottish audience they can relax a little and do what comes naturally.  The interaction between band and crowd is always that bit easier when they can understand the Scottish tone.  As Lauren chats in between tracks we are reliably informed she's never been sick on the ABC dance floor, and she lets slip a little exposĂ© concerning an ex-boyfriend, nightclub bathrooms and wandering hands.

There's a couple of moments where it's perhaps admissible the band let the occasion get to them, a few vocals not quite hit and some shaky interludes between songs, however this is a minor quibble in an otherwise amazing gig.

'Lies' is the track the started the CHVRCHES ball rolling, and as the jagged synth beats of the track blare out and we watch Mayberry's silhouette punching the air amidst a smog of smoke, it's a chance to just fathom how far this band have come. 

Mayberry seems cool and collected in her delivery, but when Doherty takes over vocal duties for the brilliant 'Science/Visions' he bounds across stage, exuding enough joy and passion to whip the crowd up another notch.  The track, which is one of the best from the album, is recreated on stage perfectly, and one of many highlights of the set.

It was always going to be the behemoth 'The Mother We Share', with its '80's infused synths and rhythm, that allowed the band to leave the stage triumphantly before returning for a much welcomed encore.  A fantastic Whitney Houston cover, 'It's Not Right But It's OK', and a uplifting final track 'By The Throat' complete the evening.  Bring on the Barrowlands in March!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

We're Only Here For The Banter - John Knox Sex Club

Back with a new track on a Gerry Loves Records split 7", and continuing to blitz audiences with their live shows, it's John Knox Sex Club.  Ever wondered what the political landscape would look like under the leadership of the band?  Well read our chat with guitarist Rory to find out more.

Hello, how are you?

Very well thank you, and how are you?

Not too shabby thanks!  It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?

A balance of egos trying to fit in as many riffs as possible, then stripped back to one and played pretty well.  I like to think of our music as discourse between instruments and voice.  All the obvious ones, Oxbow, Constantines, The Blue Nile, Crass and of course OMD.

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

Varies an awful lot, depends on the song really.  Some things may come from a jam in the studio then fleshed out.  Some of the more chord based stuff gets written or slightly written before hand then fleshed out.  But most of the time we actually write everyone else's parts by swapping instruments, it's more diplomatic that way.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

We're pretty infamous for our live shows.  The songs we play are intense so it's name a good love show.  There has been many crazy nights on stage here are my top three:
1. Iain climbing a PA in Manchester, falling off, landing on a monitor, getting back up on that PA again
2. Sean and I double crowd surfing at Sleazys.
3. Playing Witness

What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?

I'm particularly chuffed with music we write and the gigs we've played, that's all we can ask for.

Your name fell foul of my works email filters. Have there ever been any 'unfortunate' misunderstandings regarding the band name?

We've had a few right-wing religious grounds protest at our gigs before.  I guess they don't appreciate our lynching of the John Knox name.

What have you got planned next?

We've started our own political party for the Republic is Scotland, that's our primary focus at the moment, we're just formulating the manifesto and deciding if we would have tartan money or trade with chips.

What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

We are playing an America band in November who are easily one of the most devastating bands ever.  They're call Enablers.

Check out more from John Knox Sex Club

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Monday, 14 October 2013

Gig Preview - The Spree Festival: The RSNO with Admiral Fallow and The Twilight Sad

When you head along to as many gigs as we do here at Scottish Fiction, it sometimes can take something really special to make your head turn.  That's not to say that we don't love gig going, but you know the feeling when a gig turns into 'just another night'.  Will that be happening on Monday night as we board the bus into the heart of Paisley to catch Admiral Fallow and The Twilight Sad?  Nae danger.

As part of The Spree festival, Paisley's national arts festival now in it's second year, Scottish Fiction favourites Admiral Fallow and The Twilight Sad are playing a very special show in the historic and stunning setting of Paisley Abbey.  Not only that they will both be backed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

It's one of the stand out events of this year's festival and is the brainchild of BBC Introducing DJ Ally McCrae.

The show is unsurprisingly sold out, but if you are lucky enough to be going along, just look for the bearded bloke smiling like a cheshire cat.  That'll be me.  Excited.

For more info and other listings visit The Spree website.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 9th October 2013

No live guest this week, so it was me on my todd, chattering away like a parrot.  (See the picture has a very tedious relevance).  However making up for this is the return of features such as Cover Lover, Re-Mixing It Up and Tweet-a-track.  There is also a whole host of great new music from The Grand Gestures, The Little Kicks, The Spook School and more! 

The Beta Band - Squares
Atom Tree - Die For You Love
Giant Fang - Golden Age

Cover Lover - The Deep Red Sky - Kids

Fractures - The Walk
The Grand Gestures - Running With Scissors
Gone Wishing - This Barren Ground
Trapped In Kansas - Only Child
The Spook School - Will You Always Be My Friend

Re-Mixing It Up - Hector Bizerk - Burst Love (Machines In Heaven Remix)

Fat Goth - Debbie's Dirty Harry
Honeyblood - Bud
The Yawns - Summer's Wasted
The Barents Sea - For The Record
The Little Kicks - Girl
CHVRCHES - Science/Visions
Over The Wall - Tell Her I Love Her

Tweet-a-track - Lidh - Rockpool Hospital - As chosen by @ed_sings

The Twilight Sad - Cold Days From The Birdhouse
Blood Relatives - Deerheart

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Single Review - The LaFontaines - All She Knows

The LaFontaines single All She Knows is their first official release, having just signed with LAB Records, and it has lived up to the massive hype around this ever improving band. 

The single is one of The LaFontaines slower, more-ballad like tracks, and it gives them a chance to show off the wealth of talent they have at their disposal.  Bassist John Gerard has a voice that could carry the band on its own; his sweet, soulful voice almost makes you wish the song were devoid of any rap.  That is until Kerr Okan comes in, the man who somehow managed to turn Scottish rap from laughable to credible.  Okan’s flow is remarkable, however it’s his lyrics that stand out once again.

“Let me put it down here for the last time/Cause I don’t even want you as a past time.”  It's a line that really hammers home the message of the song, delivered in that angry Scottish tongue that makes him so identifiable.

The LaFontaines, without doubt, have established themselves as one of, if not THE, best live bands in Scotland.  With this release, they are proving to fans and critics alike that they are also able to hold their own in a recorded format.

When Okan states, "we might have started off locally, but I plan to depict this globally", its hard to tell if he is referring to the girl in the song, or the band themselves.  The band have built their way up from pubs in their hometown to support slots at the Barrowlands, and this single could be their best chance to let the world know about The LaFontaines.

- Stuart Thompson

The LaFontaines - All She Knows is out on LAB Records on 27th October.  You can pre-order the single here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

EP Review - Atom Tree - Tide of Thorns

Following in the wake of CHVRCHES, Atom Tree is the latest Scottish artist to produce some excellent electronica. Tide of Thorns EP is a refreshingly advanced and wonderfully developed for a debut.

Opener Die For Your Love deserves to be played through a cinema surround system as a soundtrack for a fast car car advertisement.  Open roads, wind in your hair, speeding down the track.  That kind of thing.  Don't let the lack of vocals fool you, it plays no major factor in the awesome sound. 

This is all thanks to the epic build up and construction of the instruments.  Desired Effect has a nice plinky plonky riff which works well as it’s simple and melodic.  It's a track that could be used in a soundtrack for an indie style rom com movie.

Tide of Thorns is best listened to after midnight.  As everyone’s thoughts get deeper as the night truly descends, then this is the essential track to listen to while you swither about your life choices.  Once you’ve done some re-evaluating, P.S is better than any lullaby to send you off to sleep.

Hopefully Atom Tree will edge out of the cloak of mysteriousness that enshrouds him.  Tide of Thorns is a solid effort and is better than most releases that are getting the attention that they shouldn’t really be receiving.  Considering the Facebook profile was only created June this year, following the name change from Atomic League, Atom Tree, a.k.a. Shaun Canning, is just a musical fetus really.  With a hell of a lot of potential.  I for once look forward to the development.

- Holly Callender 

Atom Tree - Tide of Thorns  is out on Hot Gem on 18th October.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

ListLive: Roman Nose, Plum, plus DJ sets - Ticket Giveaway!

Fancy winning two tickets to see Roman Nose and Plum, plus DJ sets from Dirty Noise, Lukebusy and Marine (Ladytron)?  We got them to give away thanks to All Night Long Promotions and The List Magazine, and winning couldn't be simpler. 

Simply email   with your name and email address, and we will pick a winner next Monday 14th October to go along to the gig with a friend.

The gig takes place at Stereo in Glasgow on Thursday 17th October and is the first of a new run of gigs from The List magazine.

ListLive showcases some of the very best up-and-coming and established musical talent from the city and beyond.  Prepare yourself for a regular injection of multi-genred artists with a different theme each time.  This time round they've managed to bag a DJ set from Marnie (Ladytron), the gorgeous electronic beats of Plum, DJ noise from Square K, an infrequent live appearance from mad masked tech-electro trio Roman Nose, then Dirty Noise Crew B2B Lukebusy DJ set until the early hours.

Good luck!

Campfires In Winter - Takeover Day 6

What way to wrap up our tour than a good old fashioned hoose perty?  Well that is exactly what we done at our good friend, Paul's flat in Edinburgh.  We couldn't resist playing some last few tunes before calling an official end to the tour.  We started off with some of our own songs, stripped back and acoustic - before hitting out with some crowd pleasers.

I don't think any of us ever expected to see girls twerking to See Us There, Both...but that's a thing that happened:

Much love,
Denny X

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Single Review - Giant Fang - Golden Age

Nostalgia.  It’s not what it used to be.

Ok, there’s nothing we can do about that hoary old pun, it’s happened and we all just have to move on with our lives. 

Golden Age the forthcoming single from Giant Fang is deeply, pleasantly nostalgic in both musical form and lyrical content.  It’s a sort of synthy, expansive thing. M83 is the most obvious comparison, a lot of the same sort of musical elements are there, like haunted three-note keyboard lines, synth bass and half-time drum machines and echo hanging over everything like fine mist.  Whilst M83 always sound like wandering city streets alone at midnight, Giant Fang sound more like they belong on the closing credits of some coming-of-age film from 1986 where high school misfits who hang out in a public library or something learn a lot of lessons about life, friendship and growing up.  You know the kind of thing.  They’re also a lot less French, and you can hear the lyrics.

"We were the saviours / we were the sons of a golden age" is the refrain, whilst a high, happy/sad melody tugs at you and reminds you of how nice it was to feel that optimism.  There’s a sort of suggestion implicit in the music that maybe, yeah, just maybe, you could still feel that way again, from time to time.

If I had a criticism, I think they could do to diversify their influences.  This is a good song but very much cut from a pre-existing sonic template.  It also ends kind of abruptly, just sort of stopping rather than concluding, but overall this is a very enjoyable track.

- Tom Everett

Giant Fang - Golden Age is out on Pop unLTD on 20th October.

We're Only Here For The Banter - Giant Fang

ife on the road can be tough, especially for a tour manager.  Which is why it's mind-numbingly impressive that producer and musician Douglas Wilson found time to put together his alter-ego Giant Fang.  What started off as Wilson writing and recording each part himself, has grown into a full scale band, achingly passionate live shows, and some of the best windswept '80's drenched electro anthems this side of CHVRCHES.  I caught up with the man himself for a chat.

Hello, how are you?

I’m good thanks.  Good, despite being in Wolverhampton.

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

Giant Fang is something that I started around three years ago when I was working full-time as a tour manager.  I began writing music in spare time on the road with the intention of putting a band together, however touring full-time doesn’t really allow you much of a social life, so I decided to just do it all, or as much of it as I could myself.  I have always aimed for a big, widescreen sound; I take a lot of influence from bands like of Sigur Ros and Mew, however I’ve probably listened to a few too many Roxette albums in my time, so I guess a lot of the sounds and texture I use are from that era.  I love how 80s music is pretty much just everything to the max all the time.

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

Slow.  Very, very slow.  Having spent so much of my recent life on tour, finding spare time, and more importantly spare time when you’re not completely drained, can be pretty difficult. When I first started, and out of necessity more than anything else really, I would try and lock myself away my bunk on the bus and just immerse myself in it.  Touring is really not a healthy creative environment, so it’s been good this year to be able to take time off from it and allow myself the space to sit down and actually just write in my own time.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

The live show is full-band and high energy, I have some great musicians who play with me and we try to recreate as much live of what is on record as possible.  I’ve tried to keep live shows to a minimum, as I want to concentrate on getting the album done, but it’s very hard because it’s my favourite part of the whole thing!

What would you say is your greatest achievement so far?

I think actually just getting to the stage where I released my first single, that was an incredibly proud moment for me.

How has being on the road as tour manager and session musician shaped how you're approaching Giant Fang?

I guess a lot of new musicians are impatient when they start out, they want to sign a record deal, they want to go on tour and party and because of that, they rush into things.  I have worked with artists who have rushed into putting out albums or rushed into working relationships that really didn’t work for them, and it’s really tough.  I’m under no illusion of how difficult it can be to be successful as a recording artist, so for me it is very important that everything I do is done on my own terms, because at the end of the day, I’m doing this purely for the enjoyment of creating music.

What have you got planned next?

My next single is out November 4th and I’ve got a couple of shows lined up in the UK.  I’m also working on collaboration with one of the artists I’ve previously toured with, which is very exciting.  Beyond that, I’m just writing for the album.

What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

I’m listening to the new CZARFACE record a lot right now.  It’s Inspectah Deck from Wu-tang with 7L & Esoteric, so it’s pretty retro sounding, but really cool.  I also love the Chvrches record, it’s as good as I’d hoped it would be.

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

I only know one so don’t shoot me if it’s shite….

What’s grey and would kill you if it fell out of a tree? 

A carpark.

Check out more from Giant Fang

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Monday, 7 October 2013

The Spook School - Dress Up - Track by Track Review

We love The Spook School.  It's a bold statement, but every since History hit the internet back in 2011, I've been waiting for this moment.  The moment when a band manages to push through all the crap that being in a band can bring, and write enough tracks to put together and release an album.  The band have twice played on a Scottish Fiction Presents bill, have released a series of catchy, jaunty singles along the way, and had fun all the while.  I asked the band to talk us through their album Dress Up to reveal the inner workings of The Spook School.

Are You Who You Think You Are?

Nye - Are You Who You Think You Are? is a song that we’ve always loved playing live.  We pretty much always start off the set with it, because it’s has a great fun build-up of momentum that, if we’re lucky, will have people dancing or tapping feet by the end and ready to hear more.  So when we had to pick the first song for the album it was kind of an obvious choice!  The song is about a few things, but mostly it’s also about not accepting the box or role that society wants to place you in.  All that hetero and cis-normative bullshit, gender stereotypes, you don’t have to accept any of them.  Be who you want to be, yeah!

I’ll Be Honest

Nye – This song is about drunken honesty.  I’m guessing that more than a few people might relate to letting their deepest, darkest secrets slip out after a few too many, I know I’ve done it more than once.  Still, the best friendships are often built on those times.  The song is also kind of about disassociation, from who people think you are, or from a time or place you find yourself in.  We wrote it in Nottingham, before a great fun Anorak Nottingham gig, so yeah, cheers Nottingham!

You Make It Sound So Easy

Anna – Sometimes if I get comfortable with a situation, a little shift in circumstances can feel a lot worse than it is. This song’s about overreacting to things and worrying too much. More specifically it’s about not hearing from someone in a little while and deciding they probably hate you and never want to talk to you again, and obsessing over what it is you could have done.  You’re wasting your time on something you have no control over so you should just go and have a cup of tea and forget about it, but that’s easier said than done.

I Don’t Know

Nye - This song is pretty simple.  It’s about not being able to talk to people.  Just not having the right words to say, or the confidence to say them.  Given that I’m the kind of person that has to work up the confidence to phone for a pizza, it’s an emotion I’m familiar with.  Writing this one, Adam had written most of a guitar part, and had that main line “I just don’t know how to talk to you”, and I just took it from there.

The Cameraman

Nye - This song is inspired by the brilliant Buster Keaton film, The Cameraman.  In it, Buster is trying to prove himself as an aspiring cameraman at a newspaper, but also in the eyes of the woman he likes.  It’s essentially the film told through the viewpoint of that woman (although probably a lot more cynical).  I feel the songs I write the lyrics for essentially always fall into one of two groups, they’re either about gender, or they form another step in my campaign to get everyone to love Buster Keaton.  Because everyone should, his films are just little pieces of genius.


Nye - This song is one of those ones that really is pretty much about exactly what the lyrics say.  Years ago now, I went out wandering quite late one night, just thinking and listening to music.  Some drunk bloke walked past me on the street, and he almost bumped into me or something, but anyway, he kind of apologised and said “all right there, son.”  And I was really happy about this.  And then I wrote a song about it.  And that’s about it really.

Can You Ever Trust A Man Who Thinks Matt Damon’s Really Cool?

Adam - This is probably the most straight out angry noisy shouty song on the record.  It was inspired by a time I met a ridiculous man who upon seeing my Lou Reed t-shirt remarked, “It’s a good job you don’t have Marc Bolan on your t-shirt.  You wouldn’t want to have a queer on your t-shirt.”  Which is clearly a stupid thing to say regardless of either pop star’s supposed sexualities.  I suppose more generally it’s about people (mainly straight men who enact hegemonic masculinity) who presume that their position of privilege in society makes them inherently better than other people who can not, or choose not to live the way that they do.  Boring, nasty people who believe everything the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail or all the other ‘newspapers’ with ‘Daily’ at the beginning tell them. 

What A Pity

Anna - This is a song about disappointment.  Every now and then I meet someone and think, “Oh wow, they’re just like me!  We’re going to be best friends!”  But over time I realise that we may have a lot in common but there’s no real connection, and it’s kind of a let-down.  It’s about that, and also about the sinking feeling of having shared a lot with someone and then growing apart from them.  You can’t figure out a logical reason for this to have happened and it seems like a shame to lose whatever you had before.  That’s silly because logic doesn’t really come into it, but you’re a bit desperate so you can’t help but analyse everything.

Devil Of Mine

Nye - This song started off kind of being about a friend of mine but kind of morphed into something quite different.  I’d noticed that they seemed to be considered the ‘best friend’ of a lot of people in their life and to fill quite a big space in a lot of people’s lives, some of them people that they didn’t necessarily consider themselves particularly close to.  It got me thinking and I ended up kind of writing a song from the perspective of one of those people, wanting their ‘slice’ of this one person that matters so much to them.

That’s When I Ran Away

Nye - I feel that this song is about some of those moments when you meet someone and within a brief period you start to think, “Hey, this person could really be important in my life”.  And that’s great, but it’s also terrifying at the same time.  Sometimes the temptation can be just to run away from it, not to take the chance, to just let your life go on as it was before.  I’m also really quite fond of the line, “I bought a cut-price happy meal, I wanted to show how I feel”, because I feel like it expresses a kind of odd emotion.  You’re happy, but maybe it’s not quite the real deal.  Me and Adam wrote the lyrics on a train, how fun.

You Don’t Know

Adam - This one’s a wee story that I like to interpret in two different ways.  It kind of reads like this really creepy stalker-ish character who’s obsessively following someone around and somehow knows everything about them.  They’ve never said anything to them though.  That’s what it’s really about to me.  That kind of feeling of knowing someone really well but still not being able to fully express yourself.  Being too scared to speak to someone and honestly tell them how you feel.  In any sense it’s got some silly cheeky lines about Rolling Stones albums that I quite like.


Nye - This song has quite a mixture of themes that crop up to a greater extent in some of our other songs.  There’s gender, (“I was a boy or so it’s told, I was a girl or so it’s told, don’t believe a word you’re told...”), cynicism about relationships (“now it’s just me and you, and I confess, the boredom’s got me on my knees...”) and a good dollop of pure silliness for good measure.  I remember me and Adam writing this one on a car journey – sitting in the backseat and passing post-it notes between each other with lyric ideas.

Who You Gonna Call? Goatbuster!

Nye - Again, most credit for this song should go to Buster Keaton, this time for his film ‘The Goat’, (hence Goatbuster!) which the ‘loud’ verses pretty much just recount the story of.  It’s a brilliant film, about mistaken identities, and very, very funny.  One thing I love about Buster Keaton films is the way that he just seems to drop into the landscape of each film as if out of nowhere.  He’s the eternal traveller, always the new face in town, often leaping onto the backs of trains or cars to escape somewhere else.  I often get the feeling, kind of ‘the grass is always greener’ syndrome, wanting to try out somewhere new for size.  But at the same time that is always warring with an attachment to the place that you call home, your family, the friends that you’ve made.

The Spook School - Dress Up is out now on Fortuna POP!  You can buy physical copies (CD and vinyl) here, or download via iTunes.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Campfires In Winter - Takeover Day 5

First of all we'd like to apologise for the lateness of this post, we were really busy with a gig yesterday.

So far we've covered the recording process and some of the shows we played on tour.  We haven't, however, covered anything to do with our launch show in Glasgow's Bar Bloc.  I'd firstly like to thank everybody that made it possible, from the people in Bloc down to everybody that came down and made the night a great success.  We all agreed it was one of the best nights of the tour!  We'd also like to thank Carnivores who stepped in last minute and helped us out with support, they were incredible as usual and got everybody pumped up for the night.  After the gig had finished we got the absolutely beautiful Glasgow Milk girls to play some tunes for everybody that hung around till the end of the night.  We eventually fell in our door at half 5 in the morning knowing that it was a pretty special night. 

Anyway, here are some photos from that night taken by the wonderful Neil Jarvie.  I'm sure you'll agree they are rather smashing!



Hope you enjoyed them. 

Campfires In Winter


Scottish Fiction Podcast - 2nd October 2013

Guesting on the show this week was Julia Doogan, lead vocalist and namesake of the splendid Julia And The Doogans.  She performed three achingly beautiful tracks live in the studio including two new songs and an unexpected Kylie cover.  We also chatted about the band and the glitz and glamour of US TV shows.  Your usual injection of new Scottish music includes both sides of the new Gerry Loves Records 7" split from Over The Wall and John Knox Sex Club, plus there's the last of our Oxjam: We're Skint, They're Skinter features.

John Knox Sex Club - Animals

CHVRCHES - Tether - As chosen by Julia Doogan

Julia Doogan - Far Behind - Live in  Pulse 98.4 FM studio

The Smiths - Stop Me If You Think you've Heard This One Before - As chosen by Julia Doogan

Julia Doogan - Whirlpool - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM studio
Julia Doogan - Love At First Sight (Kylie Cover) - Live in Pulse 98.4 FM studio

Sarah J Stanley - Secretly Not - As chosen by Julia Doogan

Pinact - Beauty Freak
Over The Wall - Tell Her I Love Her

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

Drunk Mule - Lucky Strike
Bottle Of Steven - Darkest Fools
The Second Hand Marching Band - We Will Convince You
Arab Strap - The First Big Weekend
Campfires In Winter - Picture Of Health

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Campfires In Winter Takeover Day 4 (slightly late...)

Scott has already given you some background about the 'Picture of Health' tour we embarked on last week.  Here is a short video diary he made of our first day, in Dundee.  Aww, look at his big happy face in the thumbnail.

See you later on!
Boab xxx

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Campfires in Winter Takeover Day 3 - Recording Picture of Health.

We recorded our new EP Picture of Health up north in the beautiful surroundings of Balneden Steading in Tomintoul.  Being away from any and all distraction and focusing entirely on the EP was a truly amazing experience.  At home, we would need to struggle and negotiate around hectic work and college commitments in order to get one track down for one song.
Before we left for the awe inspiring, quiet seclusion of the Scottish Highlands, we decided to take this seriously.  We agreed to work hard and for as long into the wee hours as needed, we planned out what to do each day, left time for experimenting and accounted for any problems or errors that may arise. we even had a schedule for breakfast and tea breaks.  Indeed, before we left, we were determined and ready...

But then we did arrive and Denny and Scott got bored and bolted outside to play.

This was from our slot on MTV Cribs, we were caught a bit off guard.

Scott actually presented the Man vs Wild series well before that Bear radge became involved.  Sadly this was just before popularity picked up.  Shortly after this episode was filmed, Scott was sacked for his pine cone addiction.