Tuesday, 26 August 2014

We're Only Here For The Banter - Skinny Dipper

The latest signing to Olive Grove Records are almost a girl band!  Consisting of nine members, drawn from others bands including Randolph's Leap, Quickbeam and Trapped In Kansas, Skinny Dipper are a fresh new entity on the verge of releasing their debut EP Masks.  I caught up with the band to find out more. 

Note - Googling for pictures of Skinny Dipper doesn't  return pictures of the band!

Hello! How the devil are you?

Very well thanks!

How did Skinny Dipper come together?

Alex and I met about 4 years ago through our mutual friend Halina, who co-runs Olive Grove Records with Lloyd.  At the time we were both really into Azure Ray and Feist and the whole Saddle Creek / Arts & Crafts thing so we decided to start demoing some songs in my old flat, where we had this giant cupboard filled with lamps and mattresses and blankets (and also red wine).  It was a really fun time when we were both unemployed / studying, and we just kind of continued playing open mics from there.

Over the next few years through playing in Randolph’s Leap and Blochestra we met our fair share of really cool and talented people and have gotten really lucky with the musicians who have ended up in the band, including members of Trapped In Kansas, Aerials Up and Quickbeam.  After finally completing our line up and being lucky enough to play some amazing gigs, including Stag & Dagger with Lanterns on the Lake and Johnny Flynn, we finally got ourselves into gear to record our first EP.

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

We always find it kind of hard to describe our sound, but for me as a songwriter lyrics are the most important thing.  I love putting together words that can be interpreted loosely and hint at themes instead of hitting the listener over the head with certain emotions.  Some influences include: Feist, Adem, Azure Ray, Stars, Haim, Frightened Rabbit, School of Seven Bells, Idlewild, Lau, Joanna Newsom and Bright Eyes.

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

I’ll usually start off writing a chord progression, melody and lyrics on my own on guitar or piano and then bring it into rehearsal after some practice with Gill and Alex on vocals and harmonies.  From there we tend to arrange the songs entirely as a band and I’m always excited to hear how a line or a riff goes from being inside my head to being an interpretation of eight other peoples’ ideas.  We have a song called What Other People Notice  that we wrote during and after the EP, which Gill arranged a piano part and some melody changes for.  Having originally written it on guitar I was bowled over when I heard the delicacy in her version of it.  It’s definitely the thing I’m most proud we’ve all created together so far.

Tell us about your debut EP Masks.

We began recording Masks  with Stuart MacLeod at the tail end of last year.  All in all it took us about 18 months to get most of the songs to where we wanted them (we work slow) and another 4-5 months to record and mix them.  We would go down on evenings and weekends and hang out at the studio drinking copious amounts of tea.  It was a really nice process in that Stuart never rushed us and let us get into the groove during our performances.  He would also always practicing speaking Japanese to us 'cause he was learning it at the time.  He put Alex in the dark when she recorded all her vocals which seems to put her at ease, but Gill was too scared.  Also, if you listen in the background at the end of Landing  that’s me, Alex and Gill smacking our own asses in unison (with some fervour).

On a more serious note, lyrically Masks  is focused around the relationship between place and persona as well as themes such as identity, family and ruminations on the past.  Landing  was inspired by my experiences of music cliques, whilst Hospital Bed,  by far the most personal song on the EP, was written during the illness and subsequent death of my grandfather.  Our closer Son of a Mitch  was written on Christmas Eve at my parents’ house in Aberdeen about 3 or 4 years ago, and is mainly about coming home to a place and realising you’re not who you were in high school anymore.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

I think we are definitely still finding our groove.  I’d like to think a lot of the songs are quite varied and you’ll get some really fucking loud guitar right after another song that’s on really gentle, melancholic piano.  I would expect you to see us and think, “they are getting better each time”, haha.  We need to work on the banter and the guitar tuning though.

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

There’s our EP launch with Call To Mind and Chrissy Barnacle on 12th September in Stereo.  We are also playing the Olive Grove showcase at the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh with Woodenbox, Call to Mind and The Moth & The Mirror on 11th October.  Thereafter we have another few shows coming up and will be continuing to write songs.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I’m obsessed with this song called Carissa  off the latest Sun Kil Moon album, it’s just stunning.  The way that guy tells stories through songs is heart wrenching.  Also really loving the new FKA Twigs record and Dissed and Dismissed  by Tony Molina.  Oh, and PAWS!  And Julianna Barwick!

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


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Monday, 25 August 2014

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 25th August 2014

Gaze into the abyss and wonder what lies ahead.  Journey into the unknown and absorb the sounds of the best picks of new Scottish music, including a blissful remix from Jo Mango, wonderful instrumental post-rock from in:tides, and a chest thumping track from Felix Champion.  It's a trip man!

Insect Heroes - King Fabulous
Wozniak - Paper Hat
Jo Mango - Evermore (The Cormorant Remix)
in:tides - Porcelain Waves
The Last September - This Train Remains
Pacific Silver - Flex
The Frozen North - Origin
The Dirty Blonde - Suzie
Alburn - Mouthful Of Glass
Felix Champion - Canyons

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 25th August 2014 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

That's My Jam #37 - The Twilight Sad - There's A Girl In The Corner

fter celebrating their 10th anniversay, and re-releasing debut album Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen WintersThe Twilight Sad return to focus on album number four.  Due for release on 27th October,  Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave  will represent all faceats of The Sad's music over the past 10 years.

There's A Girl In The Corner  is the first peek at the album showcasing a eerie gothic feel.  Beginning very sparse with a slow tempo and pronounced instrumentalisation, the low rumbling bass and drums strain at the leash throughout yearning to burst into full on noise mode.  Lyrically James Graham allegorises as always, noting the titular girl in the corner, her supposed mis-deeds and her demise with his usual passive-aggressive tones, all the while remaining tight lipped about what has caused such woe and despair. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

We're Only Here For The Banter - Now Wakes The Sea

Now Wakes The Sea began as an outlet for Alan McCormack to dabble with wonky lo-fi pop experiments, but over the past few years grown into a band capable of molding new and interesting ideas of out wonky instruments, pop culture references and '60's pop influences.  Completing the band line up are Thomas Campbell on bass and Jennifer Hamilton on drums.

Hello!  How the devil are you?

I'm ok right now - we just played a very sweaty show with a fantastic audience in one of my favourite venues.  Beads of sweat slipping down my hair and into my eyes stinging with salt.  Blood on my shirt and on my hands from a cut I can't remember.  CDs sold.  New friends made.

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

When I was really young I listened to tapes of '50s and '60s pop in my grandparents car, things like Del Shannon and The Everly Brothers and Helen Shapiro, and that's essentially what Now Wakes the Sea sounds like, but twisted and pressed and reshaped through the filters of memory and nostalgia.  We've been likened to Grizzly Bear and Neutral Milk Hotel and Mount Eerie, which isn't bad.  I still can't get enough of '60s pop these days.  I also like Van Dyke Parks, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Joe Meek, and we all like McCartney more than Lennon.

What's your songwriting / creative process like?

Laborious.  Far more misses than hits.  I stitch together songs from scraps of lyrics and notebook scribbles, pieces of overheard conversation and misheard quotes from TV.  My guitars are in a stupid tuning and I don't really know what any of the chords are, but I like the restriction of not knowing where the common progressions are, or knowing how to play any over-used chord sequences.  When I've written something, I'll give it to the other band members and we'll work out how to play it and find arrangements through instinct.  I trust Jennifer and Thomas and we're all comfortable with our own individual playing styles.  I'm happy to just let them play whatever they want, really.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Velcro fuzz bass guitar and jazz drums and experimental percussion and faulty guitars and forgotten lyrics.  It can get loud with drones, noise, and loops, but can also be pin-drop quiet, sparse, and empty.  It can be difficult trying to replicate what's on record, so we like to mix things up a bit with instrumentation and arrangements, so you probably won't get a replica of what's been recorded.  I'm trying to sneak the name 'Dusty Rhodes' into as many songs as possible at the moment.

Tell us about your latest album Bildungsroman.

  was released on Edinburgh's Mini50 Records at the end of May.  It's the album where all my stupid ideas about music finally became a reality.  Recorded to cassette tape on an old four track in the latter half of 2013, it's a lofi, ramshackle, psychedelic take on pop music.  I'm quite proud of it, but keen to get started on something different.

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

We're playing a few shows this summer, including gigs with pioneering drone heroes Earth and lofi twee heartthrobs The Wave Pictures.  And an album I recorded with Fife-based Andrew Pearson will be released on Common Records in September to tie in with Cassette Store Day.  And I have to write some new songs for a pretty cool project you'll hear more about sometime soon.

What are you listening to at the moment?

On the Beach
  by Neil Young is great for when a hot summer day becomes a balmy evening and everything is tinted pink and orange from the sunset.  There's a compilation series called Punk 45 by Soul Jazz I've been listening to a lot recently too.  Proto punk and underground psych noise and no wave from the late '60s to early '80s.  And I recently got an album called Black Orchid by someone called Stephen David Heitkotter.  Super druggy and slow and lofi and sounds like it's going to fall apart at any moment, but full of grooves and great bass.  That's great.

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

What's the difference between a sick bee and a dead horse?

One's a seedy beast while the other's a bee, deceased.

Check out more from Now Wakes The Sea

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Scottish Fiction Podcast - 19th August 2014

We start off high octane on this week's show with the first cut from Bear Arms' new album.  Actually this week's show is a real musical journey, with a gloriously landscaped track from A Sudden Burst Of Colour, some sweet meloncholy from Skinny Dipper, and the exciting new single from Holy Esque.  All this and more within this very podcast.  Open it up and gorge on the feast of music.

Bear Arms - Courage
We Were Hunted - Safe And Sound
Roxy Agogo - Crocodiles
Holy Esque - Sovereign
A Sudden Burst Of Colour - Yume
Lilac Pin - Easy
Broken Records - So Long, So Late
Skinny Dipper - Hospital Bed
Eliza Shaddad & Turtle - Driftwood
Best Girl Athlete - Best Girl Athlete In School
The Great Albatross - Roots

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 19th August 2014 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Monday, 18 August 2014

Doune The Rabbit Hole - Preview

Doune The Rabbit hole returns for another bout of independent and alternative music over the weekend of Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th August.  Now into it's fourth year on the Scottish festival circuit, the festival has grown a reputation for offering up an eclectic mix of music, arts and breathtaking scenary.

Scottish Fiction have had a great time at the festival over the last three years, and we are pleased to say we'll be there again this year to cover the goings on.  The line-up this year is as packed and diverse as always, so while there'll be plently to suit everyone, we've picked out a few of our tips should you be heading to the Cardross Estate next weekend.

The festival kicks off on Friday, with Hector Bizerk the standout highlight.  2014 has been a stellar year for Louie, Audrey, Fraser and Jen, playing incredible shows at Belladrum and GoNorth, supporting Public Enemy and seeing their album Noboby Seen Nothing  on the shortlist for The Scottish Album of the Year Awards.  The good times keep on coming, and the band have a new EP, The Fish That Never Swam  out next month which they will support with the now annual Hectember Weekend.  Catch them play Doune The Rabbit Hole to find out why they danewhattheywant.

Into Saturday and there is an array of talent to choose from.  Fresh from playing with RM Hubbert in Rutherglen a few days back, Richard Dawson offers a great choice for those who love some stripped back acoustic guitar playing.  If you are looking for a trippy, mind expanding way to spend your Saturday, then pop along for Grumbling Fur's set, where I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.  SambaYaBamba are always up for a party, as are local ska legends The Amphetameanies.  Towards the business end of the line-up for Saturday and PAWS return to Doune for another evening of high octane, no regrets, garage-rock fun.  Pulling on tracks from their amazing sophmore album Youth Culture Forever  and mixing them with the classics from debut Cokefloat!  don't miss one of the best live acts about.  Rounding off our tips for Saturday are electro-wizards Errors with whom you can bring in the wee hours and dance like there's no tomorrow.

Except their is a tomorrow and it brings with it sets from Blochestra and Let's Talk About Space to get things going.  Both acts offer something slighty different, with Blochestra packing the stage with an ensemble of musicians and Let's Talk About Space brining knowledge and science along with melodies and harmonies.  Elsewhere are The Yawns with their summery shoegaze tinged rock, Woodenbox playing tracks from their forthcoming album Foreign Organ  which should be out sometime in November, and one man extravaganza Adam Stafford who'll be looping and jamming with his usual enthusiasm and vigour.  Top of the shop though is SAY Award winner RM Hubbert, who always plays a blinder.  His blend of meloncholic guitar picking and healing music is the perfect end to a Sunday packed full of great music.

Tickets for the festival can still be purchased in advance online saving you some money.  For full prices and to buy tickets head here.

That's My Jam #36 - Bear Arms - Courage

Courage,  the latest track from Bear Arms, is one fucker of a wake up call on a Monday morning.  The track is the opener on their forthcoming debut album Strength and Conviction,  out 20th October via Struggletown Records, and the first peek at what the Glasgow foursome have been up to.

Weaving together post-hardcore and math rock, Courage  takes delight in the loud/quiet dyad, whilst overlaying screaming vocals atop a catchy melodic chorus.  The track's explosive drumming brings the raw appeal and energy of the band's live performance into the fray, creating an appetite whetting first taste of what the album has to offer.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

That's My Jam #35 - A Sudden Burst Of Colour - Yume

Atmospheric and soundscaped instrumental music is the order of the day today.  And at present in the Scottish music community, Motherwell quartet A Sudden Burst Of Colour make some of the finest music of this ilk.

Yume,  their latest single, trawls vast landscapes in the mind, with layered guitars building towards an almighty climax.  The tentative and vast emptiness of the track starts off quite isolating, but by mid point; the track is over eight minutes long, I'm overwhelmed with feelings of triumph and confidence.  It's amazing what music can do sometimes.  Have a listen and be immersed. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

That's My Jam #34 - Roxy Agogo - Crocodiles

Crocodiles  from Glasgow artist Roxy Agogo is a dangerous beast.  Dark, demanding, a little bit off kilter, and infectious, it's one of those tracks that can get an artist hyped up prematurely.  Crocodiles  is, however, the second track to come from Roxy Agogo, following on from when you dress up, therefore a little bit of talking up is allowed.

Clocking in at a mere two and a half minutes, Crocodiles  serves up a bag full of post-rock fun, with hints of PiL at play, along with the empassioned spirit of Alex Harvey trying to  break through the shouty Glasgwegian vocals. 

We're Only Here For The Banter - Bright Side

Surely we all know by now that Scotland has a fledging punk scene.  Bright Side, a four piece from Edinburgh, are another band to count alongside that.  Under the wing of Struggletown records, they have stepped up with their debut EP, out later this month.  I caught up with Ross from the band to find out more.

Hello!  How the devil are you?

Alright!  Very well thanks, I'm actually in Spain right now on holiday so yeah, could be worse.

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

Totally!  We're a hardcore punk band with a big melodic sound/influence throughout.  When we started off our main influences were like Defeater, Go It Alone, Modern Life is War.  Break Even was a big one.  They still all are.  Apart from that we like bringing in our other sorts of favourite sounds and influences too.  The new EP has some post-rock sounds in places, some emo/poppier stuff as well.  The stuff we're working on now has a big punk rock sound in mind.

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

Usually it'll start off with a riff, chord progression or maybe even a full song idea that any of us have.  We'll then show it to the rest of the guys and we'll work on it from there.  Your standard song writing stuff.  But really most of our songs are written by accident and it's usually just because we're dicking about at a practice and instead of playing Limp Bizkit and nu-metal riffs we'll come up with something that sounds good eventually (not that Limp Bizkit don't, they're amazing).

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Every band says it but we really do love playing live so we put our all into it.  I think the more shows you play you realise what makes up a well thought out, good set and I personally think we're at a point in playing shows that represents us properly well.  We take time to make sure the set flows right and hasn't get any lulls mid-set.  It's fast, to the point, energetic, with awkwardly funny in between songs patter.  All the things you want.  Good times all round.

Tell us about the EP Bright Side.

We recorded it back in January with Paul at 45-a-Side studios in Glasgow.  After that we sent it off to Bob Cooper to master it.  Both the guys did a really great job.  Two of the songs Breaking Even  and Lost Love  are two of the first we ever wrote but never got around to recording them until now.  Wanderer  and The Years  were written a little bit later on.  We've been sitting on the songs for a little while now so it's good to have finally have it out and to have something fresh to show people.  It's coming out through Struggletown and a new label called Fulltone Records. It's out digitally on 25th August and pre-orders for a 7" vinyl are up through Struggletown now!  But yeah we're really chuffed on it.

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

Our next show is at King Tut's, 30th August, that's our 'unofficial release show' for the EP.  We're looking forward to that for sure.  We've got a few more shows to announce soon and Strugglefest in October, which will be a total belter.  We're going to try and head down south again before the year is out too.  We've started writing some new songs also, don't know if that'll be another EP, an album, or a split; we'll have to wait and see!  I think we're definitely going to try and record before this year is over as well though so hopefully something will surface really early on next year.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Right now I'm still listening to the new Paws' album a lot, which is really good.  A lot of Bad Rabbits, Great Cynics, Pup.  I'm really just patiently waiting for the new Gaslight Anthem to come out though!

Thanks for speaking with us.

No worries at all, thanks for asking us!

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Monday, 11 August 2014

Album Review - Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters - Everything We Miss

inger-songwriters, so the cliche goes, are an insular breed.  Brooding over particulars of situations, fantasising, storing up images and stories for that next big 'hit'.  Misunderstood, whether unintentionally or by design, they express themselves through the medium of song.  What then to make of a collaborative album from two distinct, and arguably differing, singer-songwriters?

Everything We Miss  is, as you might have guessed, a collaborative album from Andrew Pearson and Lovers Turn To Monsters, which sees each songwriter take the lead on half of the eight tracks on offer, taking alternate turns to muse about love, death and loss.

From the first few jangly chords of opener, My Dad doesn't really like my interests, I can only imagine he'd make of you  the album sets it's stall out as a heart on sleeve affair.  My Dad...  is a track that long term LTTM fans may recognise from his 2012 tome Mumblecore.  Here it is revived.  Rekindled with love and dusting of alt-folk vibes, it's a much stronger track and a touching love song.

As we move to lead single Another Dawn  the toing and froing between Pearson and Wood begins.  With Pearson taking the lead Another Danw  is the albums poppiest moment, with its infectious guitar hooks and fast paced rhythm, plus the sweet backing vocals of Lidh.  Quick on it's heels is fellow single track Juan Antonio,  a Lovers Turn To Monsters led ballad about those moments of sheer unadulterated bliss and happiness.  The production on the track is excellent, with Pearson's backing guitars and the waves lapping, making this possibly one of the finest Lovers Turn To Monsters songs ever.  Credit must be given to the albums producer Chris Marr, esperi fame, who has really lifted both singers up a notch.

Not to be outdone, Pearson has his own moments of tenderness, none more so than Notes In The Cupboard.  Pearson's lyrics; of loss and memories; tug the heartstrings, while the gentle piano and clarinet slowly build to an all encapsulating crescendo.  Elsewhere album closer You'll Be The Death Of Me  is another spectacular effort, with haunting clarinet solo, shimmering percussion and beautiful lyrics.  A lesson in melancholia.

Collobration or not, no Lovers Turn To Monsters album would be complete without a song about death.  Record Collection  romps and races with racous guitars around the taboo topic, noting the 'hangovers' experienced following a loved ones death. 

With each singer-songwriter taking the lead on half the album tracks, one might ask if this album is more of a split record than a collaboration.  The answer, would be a firm no.  It's clear to see how each songwriters style, influence and presence affects the other, and perhaps unlike lo-fi efforts of the past, the instrumentalisation is just as important to the record.  Whether this partnership will bear further fruit remains to be seen, but for now this is an album that can stand as a testiment to each man's ability to write memorable music.

- Neil Wilson

Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters - Everything We Miss  is out now via Common Records.  You can purchase the album on cassette, vinyl or digital download here.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters - Everything We Miss - Track by Track Review / Album Stream

Brought together by a mutual love of comic books, Wes Anderson and lo-fi music, two of Scotland's finest young singer-songwriters Andrew Pearson and Kyle Wood a.k.a. Lovers Turn To Monsters release their debut collaborative album Everything We Miss  on Monday 11th August.  The album is equally split with four tracks sung and written by Pearson, and four by Wood, with further instrumentals and backing vocals provided by Chris Marr, Lidh and Tilly Rossetti.

We are delighted to bring you not only a track by track review but also the first FULL stream of the album ahead of it's release.  Have a listen to 8 tracks about love, death, loss and lonliness, whilst reading Kyle's thoughts on the andy-led tracks and vice-versa.

And... don't forget the Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters play as part of the Common Records Showcase; 'Common, Feel The Noize' along with Algernon Doll, Now Wakes The Sea and Chrissy Barnacle on Sunday 10th August at Henry's Cellar Bar.  Check out the Facebook event here.

1) My Dad doesn’t really like my interests, I can only imagine what he’d think of you

Andy:  I had been at Chris’ house and recording for a day before Kyle arrived.  He came on the Wednesday morning and the three of us popped to the Co-op for a snack and juice.  We ate and chatted back at the flat while Chris set up the mics.  Once he was ready and we were done, Kyle got out his guitar, tuned up, then recorded, My Dad… in pretty much the next half an hour.  Like all of Kyle’s writing it’s incredibly honest and I think this is a very honest recording - unfussy.  What amazed me from that first half an hour of watching Kyle record was how totally he commits to his performance in every take.  He never half-arses anything.  And I think that’s because each song means so much to him.  We had a drunken conversation at a gig we played at in Dundee where we were discussing what particular songs were about.  What private stories, in-jokes and moments were referred to obliquely in our tunes - needless to say each of Kyle’s songs have an incredible weight of meaning behind them - sometimes elaborate, sometimes intimate - and that’s part of the reason why it’s such a privilege working on this record with him.  I know how much his music means to him and it’s amazing to be trusted to be part of it.

2) Another Dawn

Kyle:  Heading up to Dundee I was super excited, if a bit anxious.  Although me and Andrew had spoke extensively over the internet, this was actually only our fourth time crossing paths in the physical realm.  I'd purchased some of his music a few months before at the Common Christmas Party I'd put on in Glasgow and had been listening to his Fence-esque folk non-stop since.  So when Chris let me hear a preview of what they had been recording the day prior I was of course shocked and excited!  Another Dawn  is an amazing stride forward in my eyes.  The song still boasts Andrews intricate, witty lyrics but all of a sudden the minimal Riflebirds style I'd become accustomed to had been knocked up a few notches with chirpy synths, quick fire vocals and popping bass.  Pounding drums and life changing dance moves followed.

3) Juan Antonio

Andy:  I got to know Kyle via Wull Swales (of Algernon Doll, Where We Lay Our Heads and Wullie Mammoth fame) and I immediately said how much I loved his stuff and would love to release anything on Common Records.  He got back to me a few months later and asked us to release The Skeletor EP  which he had just recorded with ol’ Chris Marr up in Carnoustie.  So after we decided we’d like to record an album together - with a view to releasing it on vinyl - going back to Carnoustie was a no-brainer.  Besides being genuinely the nicest person I (or anyone else) knows, Chris is an extremely sympathetic producer and we knew he’d work well with juggling two musicians in the one session.  I think Juan Antonio  really shows off his talent.  Perfectly capturing the mood of a beautiful song.

4) Notes in the Cupboard

Kyle:  As much as I love the fun, dancey energy Andrew brought to this record, as I'm sure everyone can gather I'm a sucker for a sad song and Notes in the Cupboard  certainly fits that bill.  I first heard Andrew play it at the Common Christmas Party and was instantly drawn to the lyrics.  It's song about loss, but at the same time it's a song about the things you gained from the person you lost.  A topic I've become very well versed in, and probably the reason I felt such a deep connection.  Chris Marr's slowcore-esque drums really add to the vibe.

5) Record Collection

Andy:  Kyle says that his songs are obsessed about death.  I don’t think this is reeeaaally true but when he DOES write about death, he does so with startling directness and clarity.  Record Collection  is entirely typical of this.  When you stop and think about it, it’s a pretty gloomy song.  Morbid, pessimistic, blunt.  But despite all that (or perhaps because of it) it’s totally hilarious and it’s bloody good fun to play live too.

6) Lavender

Kyle:  If there's anything a good song should do it's cause your imagination to run wild.  Andrew Pearson's lyrics always seem to succeed in doing that with me and Lavender  is probably one of his best for it!  It's a lovely song reflecting on teenage pretention and the music manages to fit perfectly into that theme.  Quirky but with a feeling of self awareness that makes it such a great accesible pop number.  Layer some more fun synth, xylophones, bells, whistles and another little cameo from the lovely Lidh and there you go!  It's definitely become one of my favourites to play in our live show and Andrew even gave me some more backing vocals!

7) This is Not a Secret Stars Song

Andy:  This is my favourite song on the album.  The way it came together was unbelievably effortless.  Kyle started with recording all three electric guitar parts before putting any vocal on it.  It was immediately evocative.  I actually said at this stage, “this sounds like perfect soundtrack music to a scene in a film where a couple split up and they’re both driving about in the rain at night.”  And, who’d ah thunk it, that’s exactly what the song was about.  This is Not a Secret Stars Song  is a great example of when music and lyrics go together perfectly.  I put some vibraphone parts over the top on a big ol’ Yamaha monstrosity that Chris had found in the Tay Recycling Plant and then Eilidh Lawrence came in to do some backing vocal parts in the chorus.  Really simple, really easy but a fantastic song.  I think it goes to show that when the writing is as strong as it invariably is with Kyle, you don’t have to do much with it for it to be a stand-out song.  Which, I guess, is a big part of our lo-fi ethos.

8) You'll be the Death of Me

Kyle:  I've been making music as Lovers Turn to Monsters for a long time and have had a lot of run ins with other musicians, but it wasn't until I met the Common Records team I felt I belonged somewhere.  Everyone involved feels close to me in some way shape or form.  The guys from Algernon Doll, Andrew Pearson and his Riflebirds, Calum K. West, Now Wakes The Sea, Hamish James Hawk and everyone else who is held under the Common umbrella I consider a friend and there's nothing better than sharing music, films, comics with a friend.  I had recently let Andrew hear the work of Mike Kinsella and he mentioned that he had fairly enjoyed it and took a bit of influence from Owen when writing this song.  The song of course is a far cry from some Owen re-hashing but a soft beautiful song full of some absoloutley mind blowing arrangement.  Definitley my favourite on the record.  Look out for Tilly Riflebird killing it on the clarinet!

Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters - Everything We Miss  is out on Monday 11th August via Common Records.  Pre-orders on cassette, vinyl or digital download are available here.  The album can be streamed in FULL via the widget below.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

We're Only Here For The Banter - The Duke, Detroit

With a name like The Duke, Detroit, you'd be forgiven for believing this Edinburgh four piece to be a solo project.  The Duke, as we they are affectionately known, emerged in full form late last year, garnering airplay and reviews for debut single Saturday.  A band with a real electro 'summertime' vibe, they've enjoyed a spate of gigs recently, and have a host of new tracks to boot.  Read on, read on, read on.

Hello!  How the devil are you?

We're all feeling pretty dandy, think we're finally recovered after our show at King Tut's at the weekend and the after party that went with it.

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

We're an 'electro-indie' band but we like to dip into other genres, play with samples and reference previous artists or songs that have influenced us and our listeners.  Vague, I know.  We mainly draw our influences from post-punk, New York disco, French electro and '50's rock 'n' roll.

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

We try and keep it as natural as possible, let the song write itself.  With our instrumentation we will always retain 'The Duke' sound.  We don't like to force the songs into other genres.  If we've written a swing song, it's going to be Duke-flipping swing song!

What could we expect to see from a live show?

We like to mix it up a bit live, such as letting the tracks run into one another creating some real nice, melodic interludes between some of the songs.  Allowing it to become a bit more of a show oppose to just a gig.

But mainly...  Sweaty vests, and floppy quiffs.

Tell us about latest track Summer's Come.

Summer's Come  right now is just a track we put up online recently as a bit of a feeler for some of our unreleased material.  It won't actually be released until next summer.  We just felt Scotland had such a great summer this year; with the commonwealth games and the lovely weather; and that this could be our contribution.

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

We are in the process of getting ourselves together to release our tune Dangerous.  So that means all our focus right now is on filming and gigging.  Got some remixes we will be putting up online over the next few months as well.  So keep an eye out for them!

What are you listening to at the moment?

Right now we are listening to Young Fathers album Dead.  Incredible album and proud to say we are from the same city.  We also listening to Honeyblood.  We were lucky enough to play with them the other week.  Real charm to their sound and really enjoying the debut!  But our favorite is Night Noise Team Rever Electrique.  Absolute masterpiece and everyone should check it out.

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

How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?

"Oops, I broke it!"

Lame, we know...

Check out more from The Duke, Detroit

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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 5 August 2014

The A-side in our double dose of podcasts on 5th August 2014.  This episode sates your appetite for new Scottish music with fresh jams from Owl John, Scary People, Neon Waltz and Alburn.  There's also another cracking live session from the IG:LU Sessions recorded by Netsounds Unsigned and houdidontblog, plus smatterings of banter from yours truly.  Don't forget to check out the 'vinyl only' B-side podcast too.

Remember Remember - Pterodactyl
Scary People - Guided By The Blind
Kapil Seshasayee - An Automaton
Dante - Wake
Algernon Doll - Spilt Milk Perfume (IG:LU Unplugged Session)
Owl John - Los Angeles, Be Kind
Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters - Record Collection
Hamish James Hawk - John Cooper Clarke
Honeyblood - Anywhere But Here
Alburn - The Nurses Can't Help Me
King Creosote - For One Night Only
Neon Waltz - Bare Wood Aisles
The Sea Kings - Bible John

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 5th August 2014 - Vinyl Mix

Crackle, crackle. 

An all vinyl show?  Is this the '70's?  Am I mad?  No, and quite possibly, but that's neither here nor there.  For a change I decided to do a special show this week featuring tracks from Scottish artists played entirely on vinyl.  And an inspired decision it was too, as it has resulted in this little beaut of a podcast you are now listening to.  Let's call it the b-side to our usual offering.  And like all good b-sides there's some rarities and surprises in store, from artists such as Meursault, Franz Ferdinand, The Twilight Sad, Belle and Sebastian and more. 

The State Broadcasters - Let's Make T-shirts
Honeyblood - Bud
The Pictish Trail - The Handstand Crowd
Franz Ferdinand - Get Up And Use Me
Dananananaykroyd - Black Wax
Meursault - Flittin' (Piano Version)
Stanley Odd - Chase Yirsel
Book Group - Year Of The Cat
Yahweh - Make Me Stop
Mogwai - Friend Of The Night
Tuff Love - Sweet Discontent
The Twilight Sad - If You Keep Me In Your Heart
Belle And Sebastian - Baby Jane

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Album Review - Algernon Doll - Omphalic

is the third album from the Algernon Doll stable but unlike debut Camomile  and sophomore effort Citalo-pop  it sees singer and lyricist Ewan Grant expand his bedroom project, fleshing out Algernon Doll into a three piece band. 

Strictly speaking, Algernon Doll has been more than just a nom de plume for Grant for a while.  Long time producer Tom Mitchell has provided instrumentals during recording sessions at Clearwater Studios in Perth and 2013's Citalo-pop  saw the first footsteps into full band mode with live shows from this point often being boosted with additional musicians.  What sets Omphalic  apart is that this album is the first written with a full band in mind, with Wull Swales taking up the bass, and Owen Wicksted on sticks, while Tom Mitchell again providing drums during recording.

Opener Spilt Milk Perfume  with it's chiming guitars and persistent hooks instantly rewards on a album that displays the ever growing talent and progression of Grant as a songwriter.  Comparisons with Elliot Smith have been made in the past, Grant's intelligent and 'beyond his years' songwriting deserving of such an accolade. 

Justine,  another single from the album, endears with the same tender lyrics and melodic prowess.  Pink and Blue, Candy Stripped,  and Goodbye Blue Jeans  all dip into the same territory, allowing Grant's songwriting to flourish.  Those moments, of reflection and introspection, are amongst the finest in the album's 42 plus minutes. 

The finest records are those that provide a coherent mix of influences and sounds; ensuring the listener is kept engaged and interested.  Balancing the softer, mellower side of Omphalic are the abrasive, and grunge drenched tracks such as Suicide, Fellate  and Relate.  The former channelling the angst and rawness of Nirvana circa. Nevermind,  whilst Relate  bursts with anger and sonically challenging guitars. 

It's in these tracks, emphatic and ear-burstingly good as they are, that Algernon Doll are most at danger of straddling too far into the alt-rock/grunge realm and comparisons to Mudhoney, Smashing Pumpkins and Sebadoh.  Luckily there's enough energy contained here that those influences become a footnote rather than an bibliography, with Grant and the band's passion for the music taking us along with them.

The real test for Omphalic,  and where pass marks are filed on all counts, is how it moves along the progression of Algernon Doll; musically and lyrically.  Listen back to Camomile  and Citalo-pop  and you hear moments, glimpse of what has been unwrapped in Omphalic,  hinting that what you've just listened to was there all along.  Grant's devotion to DIY and punk ideals, his fervent attitude to writing and recording and his willingness to let things grow in their own time and space, has paid dividends.  With the band due to record another Shellac member - this time Steve Albini - one suspects those rewards will be reinvested ten-fold.

- Neil Wilson

Algernon Doll - Omphalic is out now on Struggletown Records.  You can purchase the album on green or yellow vinyl here and purchase the album digitally here.