Tuesday, 19 May 2015

EP Review - A Sudden Burst Of Colour - Waves Will Rise On Silent Water

A Sudden Burst Of Colour are a quartet from Motherwell, comprising of Luke Duncan, Liam Shaw, Callum Brand and Calum Farquharson, who produce a captivating brand of instrumental rock music that balances elements of shoegaze and post rock with an at times mainstream feel quite perfectly.

Their second EP Waves Will Rise On Silent Water  contains four tracks of, at times, quite beautiful music that doesn't fail to impress.  Opener Riptide  starts off on an ambient footing, bringing to mind Sigur Ros, before atmospheric guitars merge with a rumbling bassline, driving the song to a superb conclusion. The eight minute Yume  follows and it's a real treat.  It feels like a serene version of Mogwai; the power is there but the aggression of Mogwai is removed and replaced with melody to quite wonderful effect.  There's a real beauty within this track and it's the standout from the EP.

Life Spent Drifting  is another post rock soundscape that sounds positively huge in places and, interestingly, clearly has a dance influence working at certain points.  We end with Ocean Floor which is initially built around shimmering guitars before becoming a My Bloody Valentine-like drone which warps the EP up quite fantastically.

This is a really exciting EP and contains some genuinely powerful and uplifting music, which bears repeat listens.  It's hard not to listen to it without being moved in some way.

- David McElroy

A Sudden Burst Of Colour - Waves Will Rise On Silent Water  is available via Good Grief Records and can be downloaded here

Monday, 18 May 2015

Album Review - Best Girl Athlete - Carve Every Word

For those of you unfamiliar with Best Girl Athlete (aka Katie Buchan), as I was prior to having the privilege to absorb their new album Carve Every Word  in all its splendor, describing this delightful work as simply folk music does it scant justice.  Released back in March this year on Fitlike Records, her debut album plays with themes, styles and genres and whilst mixing songs written by her father Charley Buchan with her own compositions, a collaboration of musical talent delivers one of the most refreshing and welcomed sounds to the Scottish music scene in 2015.

Listening to the voice which narrates some of the themes of these songs; reflecting on love, loss betrayal and faith, you would be forgiven for comparisons to Laura Marling, Aimee Mann and indeed Kate Bush, and some of her native contemporaries such as Rachel Sermanni and Siobhan Wilson.  This is testimony indeed to one so young.  With a voice which has a warmth and clarity of delivery, soothing and at times quirky and singular, it will be interesting to follow the development as her career flourishes, as it no doubt will.

The album has a mix of memorable choruses and melodies, in All That  – “All that you know comes from the books that you read, and all that you read from the things that you know”- to the folky and instantly memorable Leave It All Behind  which utilises some rather fetching glockenspiel accompaniment in this folk anthem.  There are some haunting patterns woven on Several Lonely Minutes  which although at times is both aloof and distant, is never un-engaging and demands attention to the very end, to the gothic and sorrowful strings of Talk,  so beautifully constructed and lyrically both engaging and mature, Best Girl Athlete lays down a fine musical platter.

The album, as a complete piece of work offers much more than any tentative prototype might do, it has a depth which is discovered on returning, and it has sufficient body and substance to ensure that the listener will indeed return again and again, discovering more each time.  The opening track Winter Sun  establishes the mood perfectly.  It's simplicity and punctuated and understated melody a throwback to the indie folk musings of Young Marble Giants,  and no finer a compliment can be offered.  By far the most populist tracks on the album is Seven Seconds,  following the now established format of the previous nine tracks with a rhythmic nodding back beat and gloriously hypnotic guitar picking, the upbeat and engaging intro suggest that a singalong crowd-pleaser is born.

But it is the contrast in songs, which admittedly on first listen is not as forthcoming, however with every listen to this collection, the pairing of such opposites as On My Own – an almost traditional folk song from the Pentangle mould, beautifully sung and with smothering guitar picking, and He’s Calling Me Over  which appears from left field and disguises itself in string arrangements which sucker you into believing you know this song already (the first line disguising itself as another song), but of course you don’t and something new is born.

The penultimate track on the album Poppy, What Have You Gone And Done?  is both haunting and unnerving, with layers of stark and echoing vocals, we are never quite sure what tragedy has occurred and probably quite relieved that it is left unsaid.  And within its depths we here many others.

And as a closer, This Time  is a gem.  Strings, light percussion and guitar work a beautiful backdrop together whilst Katie’s soaring sorrowful vocals are utterly compelling.  Placed perfectly in the order of play, this song demands you return to the start for one more listen.

For a first offering, this is a truly remarkable collection from Best Girl Athlete.  Released in the US on the Minty Fresh label and with an American tour forthcoming, all I can see ahead are good things for Best Girl Athlete.  A great debut, we look forward to Scottish gigs in the near future.

-  Bobby Motherwell

Best Girl Athlete - Carve Every Word  is out now via Fitlike Records and can be purchased on CD, vinyl or download here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Album Review - Pinact - Stand Still and Rot

If you’re at all in touch with the Scottish local music scene, you’ll be aware of the rising number and popularity of noisy surf-gaze, fuzz-pop, insert-obscure-music-genre-here bands.  This is, in part, thanks to excellent local labels like Fuzzkill Records who are reaching out to these young acts and nurturing their talent.  But, if Pinact’s debut album Stand Still and Rot proves anything, it’s that this duo are not just another surf-gaze act, looking to feed off the international fame of fellow Scottish noisemakers such as PAWS and The Xcerts.  No, much more than mere copyists, Pinact are set for great things, and all from their own doing.

With the title track opener, the band refrain from jumping straight into the nitty gritty, instead, opting for a smooth introduction, almost lulling the listener in as singer/guitarist Corrie Gillies proclaims, “If we stand still, we’re gonna rot,” before the chaos inevitably ensues.  With Anxiety, however, it’s no holds barred as the band reveal their true musical identity in the form of pop songs drenched in fuzzy reverb.  The addition of Chris McCrory (Casual Sex, Catholic Action) on drums has done wonders for the band’s music and begs the question, with killer riffs and some heavy, well-executed drum parts, who even needs a bassist?

The main lyrical theme throughout the album is (surprise, surprise) relationships, or rather, the struggles and downfalls of relationships (it’s kind of a package deal).  But there’s much more to it than merely weeping over a broken heart or two.  Corrie does all but serve up his heart on a plate on Stand Still and Rot, lyrically exploring some super dark, sensitive issues surrounding relationship struggles and his own experiences, most notably, with mental health on songs like AnxietyScarsNegative Thoughts And Jealousy and closing track Novembore.  At some points, it’s as if he’s invited us to read some of the most private entries of his diary.  There’s a strong sense that Corrie puts a lot of trust in us as listeners to do just that: listen and not judge.  For this, we should appreciate and respect Pinact’s music all the more.

What’s thrilling is how the band execute that fun old juxtaposition of energetic, happy-go-lucky, summery fuzz-pop guitar riffs and Corrie’s otherwise dark, emotional lyrics, something which is evident on songs like Into The OneBrew and standout track Terrapin.  With slower, more bittersweet songs like Limbs, Up Or Down and The Beginning Of The End, where the music doesn’t shroud the lyrics as music, not only do they provide a short respite from the fuzz, but they allow the listener to truly appreciate Corrie’s sincere vocals and honest, confessional songwriting skills.

On the flipside, there’s Spill Yr Guts, Make Some Noise which allows the duo space to go, for lack of better words, fucking nuts on their respective instruments.  The result?  An audible representation of the song title itself.

There’s no doubt that, while Stand Still and Rot is an excellent album, these songs were made to be played live.  The energy and passion is already abundantly present on these studio recordings, but on stage, in front of some equally pumped music fans is where these songs and this band truly belong.  Pinact are already doing exceptionally well in America and, having recently signed with Brooklyn based indie label Kanine Records, you’d be well advised to catch them while you can.  With that in mind, make sure you catch the album launch on May 19th at Broadcast.  It’ll brighten up what is sure to be a rather dreary, lacklustre Tuesday evening.

- Nina Glencross

Pinact – Stand Still and Rot is out on Tuesday 19th May via Kanine Records and will be available to pre-order on digital download and limited edition cassette tape on Bandcamp.

Monday, 11 May 2015

VIDEO PREMIERE - Very Very Small Inclusions - Winter Solstice

Here at Scottish Fiction I've developed a bit of a band crush on the dream pop/electronica duo Very Very Small Inclusions.  As well as giving them radio play on the Scottish Fiction radio show, our reviewer Andrew Kidd waxed lyrical about their album, and they popped up on the latest Almost Scottish Fiction EP

So it's for all these reasons that I'm delighted to be able to share their brand new video with you via a Scottish Fiction exclusive.  The track Winter Solstice  comes from the band's album Dispersions,  and is a song about not utilising one's full potential.  It's a desperately sweet track, with a dark and cryptic edge.

The palindromic music video was shot and produced by Tim Pow, in parts at Rouken Glen park in Giffnock, and portrays a reflection of the suns travel on the shortest day of the year.

Check out Dispersions from Very Very Small Inclusions via the band's Bandcamp, and you can follow them on Twitter too.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Almost Scottish Fiction EP Volume 2

It's the first Monday of May, and as promised Volume 2 of the Almost Scottish Fiction EP  series is out now.  We've extended the EP to six tracks this month, meaning there's more bang for your buck.  Although techincally as the EP is free, there's no buck at all, so really just 50% more bang!

As before the EP is collated by myself on behalf of Scottish Fiction, and David McElroy from Almost Predictable, Almost and features tracks from our favourite artists.  To grab your download head along to the Scottish Fiction Bandcamp, or the Almost Predictable, Almost Bandcamp and download.

Apache Darling - More Than Me

Apache Darling are a synthpop duo from Glagsow who produce some of the finest pop music the city has produced in ages.  More Than Me  was the first track they released and it rightly gained a lot of attention.  Apache Darling are a genuinely thrilling prospect and More Than Me  captures all that is great about this band

very very small inclusions - Rain Rain

With a band name taken from the grading scale used to judge the clarity of diamonds, you'd expect crystaline clear music from very very small inclusions.  What you get is a dispersion of influences and ideas, with themes of introspection.  This track, Rain Rain,  features heavy tom-toms, with pure and acoustic sounds, and airy vocals.  The track is taken from the bands album Dispersions.

Tongues - Anymore

Tongues is Tim Kwant from Kill The Waves' solo project and Anymore  was his first release.  The song was a smash on Soundcloud and the buzz it created spread far and wide.  A slice of laid back electro pop with a huge chorus, Anymore  will grab you straight away and never let you go.

BEAM - Hex

BEAM is the glorious sounds of singer and songwriter Amy MacDougall, who has been in the past better known for contributing to other people's music; for example King Creosote.  However Hex is the sound of her own music, mysterious vocal loops, cello, piano and an overall dreamy feel.

The Insomniac Project - Breakaway

The Insomniac Project have kindly allowed us to use a brand new track, Breakaway,  and it is a cracker.  Disco fused with LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip, Breakaway  is destined to get anyone grooving.

Seas, Starry - Newark

Coming from the Aberdeen four piece's album Tyto AlbaNewark  is a perfect illustration of the effects laden ambient music that Seas, Starry produce so well.  Taking influence from the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Errors, the band drag the listeners ear to the furthest edges of electronic instrumental music.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Album Review - The Wellgreen - Grin and Bear It

If you don’t already know of The Wellgreen, it’s about time.  2014 saw original members Marco Rea and Stu Kidd team up with the talents of guitarist/singer Daniel McGeever and bassist Jim McGoldrick when, at last summer’s Indietracks, in the hot, stuffy and packed tin church, the Glaswegian rising stars showed the indie world they are the real deal.  The four-piece’s status as a quality live band was also confirmed by a standing ovation at the packed Cavern Club in Liverpool last May and great things have been expected from them ever since.

Grin and Bear It is The Wellgreen’s second album and it contains all the elements which made the first album, Wellgreen, a personal favourite: groovy 60s psych-pop, the playful melodies of early 70s Macca, Todd Rundgren-esque relationship themes and even the bittersweet, introspective harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel.  When combined, all these influences add up to an album that is what you want to listen to when you want to listen to something good, but from now.

If any differences are to be found between the two albums, one could argue Grin and Bear It is overall bolder and more confident.  Like Wellgreen, it is both emotionally honest and good fun, but with added intensity and unapologetic internal drama – the track Impossible Love is one such example.  These days, a song with such utter beauty is rare. It begins flirty and sweet and then casually pulls off power-ballad intensity, making this just one more reason why The Wellgreen are something special: they clearly do what they want.

Because this is The Wellgreen, even intensity is dished out with delightful harmony.  In Counting All These Moments, longing and soul-searching delightfully intersect and the song is just further proof of The Wellgreen’s knack for easily slipping into your thoughts before you’ve even realised it.

However, it’s not all cerebral.  The first track, Grin and Bear It, is a heap load of rock n’ roll fun and creates the perfect balance between light and heavy which continues throughout the album.  You’ll certainly tap your toes.  You can’t not tap your toes.  It doesn’t end there; another treat is the poptastic track Summer Rain, which includes the guitar talents of Stevie Jackson (Belle and Sebastian).

As with the first album, every song on Grin and Bear It has a touch of the familiar.  But The Wellgreen are no mere retro copycats, they are indie’s (not-so) hidden gem with songs that are relatable, interesting, fun and, at times, absolute ear candy.

Whatever they do, whether it’s a gig or a live webstream, they exude fun and friendliness – in this sense, they fit in nicely with the 60s and 70s vibe they project in their music.  If you are an absolute sucker for simple melodies and two-part harmonies like me, buy the album and go see them live.  You won’t regret it.

- Janet Feenstra

The Wellgreen - Grin and Bear It is out now via the band's own label The Barne Society and is available on CD via Bandcamp and download via iTunes.