Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Album Review - Very Very Small Inclusions - Dispersions


Dominated by a brooding twin-peaked ridge, a small house sits uncomfortably right of centre, and a low-lying rainbow crosses overhead.  The image chosen by the Glasgow-based duo Very Very Small Inclusions (VVSI) for their debut release, Dispersions,  is striking but painfully bleak and is fresh in the mind of the listener as the album opens with modern plainsong. 

Stuttered Silence  is cryptic, dark and slow-paced.  The harmonies are on point and crisp.  The sobering lyrics "lives left bare and cold" and "fresh out of the womb, straight into the tomb" set an early marker that VVSI are not reluctant to touch on darker themes.  Winter Solstice  follows and is equally measured.  Birdsong  acts as the backdrop to a four-four driven bass line and guitar melody that gradually build-up to the verse.  Claps and reverberations are added before the echoing vocal harmonies take emphasis once again.  Two standout moments on this track include a subtle dropped beat halfway through the second verse and the rolling drum fills embedded into the main rhythm. AΔB  serves as one of the album’s highlights.  The changes in key and melody shortly after the two minute mark are stunning and the reverse tape-looping (a recurring technique never over-employed), muted bass, tapping woodclaps and vocal outro are unorthodox and refreshing.

The ticking of a grandfather clock and crackling logs introduce the counterpoint and retro-pop-sounding Fire Fire.  A syncopated punchy rhythm and bass guitar riff act as a lead-in and the accented vocals, not overdubbed and positioned low in the mix, are slightly and deliberately out of synch.  The bass drum is heavier on this track.  Another album high point follows in the form of Cyclonic.  Brass and heavy drum production predominate in this track and the vocals get louder and more urgent as the track progresses.  Degraded  is more indulgent and boasts traditional rock guitar and drum rhythms, which play in a loop.  The open analogue radio samples add a further dimension.

Accelerato heartbeating opens On The Ceiling  and the dark and muffled vocal harmonies are accompanied by an analogue synth. The interspersed polyphony and shoegaze-inspired guitar lend a subtle hint to the listener on the group’s influences.  This track is a real treat for button-pushing technicians as VVSI combine low filters, complex melodies and changing rhythms to dramatic effect.  Sun Shards  is a heavy bass mix which borrows elements from the Detroit and Club House scenes as well as from the all-but-extinct genre, trance (the background bleeping melody is reminiscent of the Russian group PPK).  The vocals work well with the music and the acoustic drum fill halfway is comparable to the French nu-disco duo, Cassius.  Rain Rain  follows and is more melodic.  The drums are the highlight on this track – the heavy tom-toms are complimented by sliding and tapping drum sticks.  The sounds are pure and acoustic and the vocals are airy, background and compliment the strings and nature samples.  The change in key in the track’s latter half (similar to AΔB) serves as a nice link within the album and is noteworthy.

N!  is the final track and a hidden highlight.  The machine-inspired reverse melody is very reminiscent of the early work of dubstep pioneer Shackleton.  This comparison is fully justified by the dark bell effects that surface a third of the way into the song, and then later in a more demonic and rhythmic form.  The vocals are heavily altered and a strong house beat ensues.  The outro builds into a crescendo of guitar, vocals and drums.  The album is then complete.

Dispersions  is not perfect, but it was never meant to be.  Drawing on a broad range of influences, the cross-genre feel and re-examination of certain past-sounds are definitely strong points.  The line "forward’s not the only way", sung on the second track Winter Solstice,  is fitting in this respect.

The themes that surface throughout the album’s length are many and the listener is drawn into opposing worlds of introspection and warmth.  The contrast is deliberate and mirrors the image of the rainbow against the backdrop of the darkened sky.  Rainbows are nature’s visual consequence of science, the product of light rays refracting into water droplets.  The rays reflects internally before refracting out, creating that all so familiar array of colour.  VVSI look inwards throughout and the ideas and sounds that emerge are equally bold and unassuming.

- Andrew Kidd

Very Very Small Inclusions - Dispersions  is out now and is available here.

Video - Pinact - Anxiety


Fuzzy duo Pinact have unveiled the video for their new track Anxiety  which is the first track taken from their forthcoming debut album Stand Still and Rot.  The album will be released via Kanine Records on 19th May and has been produced by Hookworms' MJ. 

With a door opening nod to Joy Division, the video then showcases the band at their finest; noisy, rowdy and melodic as frontman Corrie Gilles throws himself about and drummer Chris McCrory thrashes and crashes.

We're Only Here For The Banter - Henry & Fleetwood


Collaborative duos are interesting creatures.  Generally speaking they tend to draw artists from different ends of the musical spectrum together, and Henry & Fleetwood are no different.  Comprising of Gillian Fleetwood, harpist with The State Broadcasters, and Martin John Henry, singer and guitarist with De Rosa, the duo are releasing their debut EP via Olive Grove Records next month.  I caught with the duo to find out more.

Hello! How the devil are you?

Gillian Fleetwood: Very well, thanks.  Hope all is well with you too.

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

GF: We are from quite different backgrounds, which is part of what we enjoy about the duo.  I cut my teeth on traditional Scottish folk but there's a lot of common ground in that we're both interested in relationships between music and landscape.

Martin Henry: I've always been involved in indie-rock based projects, like my band De Rosa, so I was looking to collaborate with someone of a different background that I could learn from.  I was really fortunate to meet Gill.  The influences on my songwriting aren't always musical.  I like a lot of visual art, mainly photography.  I love the accent and language of Lanarkshire, and the things that the people around me say and do.

How did Henry & Fleetwood come together?

GF: We first met on tour round about 2011 when Martin was promoting The Other Half of Everything.  He came along as touring support for Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel while I was in her band so we'd find ourselves in a bus in Italy or Germany sharing mutual appreciation for loads of the same Scottish bands like The Blue Nile, Cocteau Twins, Michael Marra...  the list goes on and on.  Playing and writing together seemed like a natural next project.

MH: Yeah, the touring experience can be made really special when you form new ties with good people.  That tour was one of the greatest experiences I've had while making music, and mainly for the parts between shows – enjoying food and music with Gill, Agnes and a great Canadian band called Evening Hymns.  It definitely gave our project a solid foundation of friendship and the sheer joy of musical endeavour.

Tell us about your EP On The Forest Floor

GF: Birth, wildness, solitude and partnership are important.  Outdoors, space and playfulness are also themes we return to frequently and I think this helps us rein in and find focus.

MH: I think we've captured a mood, an atmosphere of wilderness or wildness, with ideas of threat and comfort as a part of that.  I think there's a yearning for the natural in there, and an awareness of its violence and beauty.  People who spend time in the most remote parts of Scotland will hopefully recognise this feeling.

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

GF: We are figuring that out as we go along and in part that's why we released the EP as it is.  We wrote that quite largely by email as Martin was living in England for a couple of years and are both really busy with other things, but we were really lucky in getting to go away on a residency last summer where we were given a week to figure out how to work and how best to make this what we want so the new songs are quite different from the EP.  Releasing the first batch as they are is a stepping off point.   We improvise a lot though.  Loads of jams.  It's really fun, but we both have rubbish memories, so we have to record ideas a lot too or we'd happily jam for hours but have nothing concrete at the end of it.

MH: My memory is just awful.  I've forgotten to record entire songs that should have been released on albums I've put out. S o I record everything and I've started keeping notes recently too.  I think this project is the first where I've written in such close partnership throughout the whole process.  With De Rosa, I write on my own and then bring demos to the band for development.  So writing from scratch with Gill is something new and really interesting for me, whether it's jamming around or writing lyrics and parts while drinking copious amounts of tea.  The social aspect of a partnership really helps the creative process - just chatting about music, creativity, what we're interested in doing with the project.

You're playing a launch show on April 11th. What could we expect to see from a live show?

GF: I'll be singing and playing harp, synth, and pedals.  We're trying to keep things sparse.

MH: The live setup is still evolving, with me playing guitar, bass, loop pedals and singing.  I agree that we're both really interested in slowness and texture, creating an atmosphere.  It's a challenge to make these sounds with just two people, but we're having fun figuring it out.  We're still very much in the middle of writing our album with that in mind.  The EP has a full band sound, but we've been trying to interpret that so that we can play versions as a duo.

What else have you got planned for the rest of 2015?

GF: Writing and recording the full album.  We're planning a video for On the Forest Floor  at the moment too.

MH: Yeah definitely promoting the EP then writing and recording our first album as a priority. We're also looking to play in new contexts to new audiences.

What are you listening to at the moment?

GF: The new Grouper album, the new D'Angelo album, loads of Tom Waits, I've just been revisiting Chicken Skin Music Ry Cooder which is amazing...  Ian Carr and Simon Thoumire made a brilliant album last year called He Thinks He's Invisible  which blows my socks off.

MH: I've been listening to Colleen, also Grouper, and Glenn Branca.


Check out more from Henry & Fleetwood

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Monday, 30 March 2015

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 30th March 2015


Another week, another dose of Scottish Fiction to serve up.  Get some electronica with new tracks from Django Django and Babe, enjoy some folk and singer-songwriter fare with new ones from Lidh and Siobhan Wilson, and dip into more DIY alt-rock with Polarnecks and The Bellybuttons.  And more.  There's always more.  Enjoy!

The Van T's - Daisy
Dearness - Thaw
Polarnecks - Awake
Errors - Lease of Life
Babe - The Warbling
Passion Pusher - Home
COVER LOVER - Tuff Love - Lovely Day
Amelia Bayler - Internet Friends
Pennycress - Heavy Heart
Call To Mind - Recovery
Django Django - Reflections
Night Noise Team - High Line
Washed - Cinders
Watchfires - The Northern Lights
The Bellybuttons - Red Wing
dune witch trails - gold bar faucet tap
Depeche Choad - Pube Village
BEAM - Hex
Siobhan Wilson - Say It's True
Lidh - Murmur
RE-MIXING IT UP - Charlotte Brimner - Face (Hector Bizerk Remix)
C Duncan - Here To There
Art of the Memory Palace - La Lumiere
Henry and Fleetwood - Forestry


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That's My Jam #57 - Babe - The Warbling


C
omplete with '80's vibes, and spacious electro-pop Babe returning with a new EP, The Hereaftergo'ers,  due out on Moshi Moshi on 27th April.  The EP follows their 2014 album Volery Flighty  and sees the band take a turn into electronica with a more experimental approach to these songs.

Lead track The Warbling,  possesses an onomatopoeic quality with the synth heavy intro trilling harshly.  Lead singer Gerard Black's soaring vocals rise above the quivering guitars, creating an almost out of body listening experience.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

That's My Jam #56 - Turtle - Silent Weapon


Jon Cooper, the real name behind the musical moniker of Turtle, has been causing a bit of a frenzy amongst muso types with his spacious and luscious electronic music.  The trend continues with Silent Weapons  a track off his forthcoming second EP Colours.

Featuring whispy vocals, complete with mysterious lyrics, atop hazy electronica, the track really ignites in the final third with pulsing synths and floating guitars whirling round together in a seductive mating ritual.  It's a different dimension to the music of Turtle, intelligent and emotional leaving a real embedded connection with the listener.

Album Review - Bronto Skylift - Date With A Ghoul


Who knew that just two guys could create such a ruckus?  It's certainly not a challenge for Iain Stewart and Niall Strachan, who both impressively screech and crash about in Bronto Skylift's Date With A Ghoul.  In fact it's a walk in the park.

The album is the Glasgow duo's second full length album.  Recorded at Chem19 in Glasgow and mastered by Steven Ward, it's the follow up to 2010's The White Crow.

Despite losing the rawness that accompanied their debut, Date With A Ghoul  is a full on heavy record, with comparisons to Nirvana's Bleach  not far from the mark, with the droning simple chord changes on Shark  drawing similarities.  Although, be warned as there’s none of that loud/quiet dynamic carry on.  Your ears are dragged through the record with no rest bite.

There is a little humour thrown in amongst the noise.  For example Shit Hoody  could be about a poor fashion choice or a day trip to the seaside.  Who knows?  The lyrics are indiscernible.

The simple punk ethos is present.  Short tracks with simple chord changes layered with bawling vocals.  The amount of energy Strachan and Stewart cite tires the listener by well, just listening.  A live show is assumingly their weekly work out.

- Holly Callender

Bronto Skylift - Date With A Ghoul  is self released and available here.  Catch the band at Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh on 22nd May.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

That's My Jam #55 - Youngstrr Joey - Michael


A
s well as being a member of Spinning Coin (check them out here) Cal Donnelly also goes under the alter-ego of Youngstrr Joey.  In that guise, he has released his debut EP 'proper', via Number4Door; a Glasgow DIY label with a tendency for uncovering gems.

The whole EP, which is called Cheerleader,  is pretty grizzly and dare I say nihilistic, with vocals that whilst not directly saying it scream "fuck you", and a kind of (I assume) deliberate out of step melody running through the four tracks.  That's no bad thing, and opener Michael  is a beast of a track, with Donnelly repeating "show me how to be cool" atop a three chord lo-fi guitar sequence which then proceed to scream chaotically.  There's a gleeful 'do-do-do-do' break in the track, which sounds both inviting and vicious at the same time.  A perfect tagline for the whole EP to be honest.


We're Only Here For The Banter - Catholic Action


Catholic Action are very much one of the bands of the moment.  The band, led by Chris McCrory also of Casual Sex and Pinact, have gathered a reputation on the live scene, which is being replicated with their recorded output.  The tracks for their forthcoming split with Poor Things sound fantastic, and there's plenty more in the pipeline too.  I caught up with lead singer Chris to find out more.

Hello! How the devil are you?

I'm very warm, but very well thank you.

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

I think everyone hates it because it's so hard!  Plus, musicians are inherently lazy.  It's a lose/lose situation.

I will say that I definitely get off on a mix of strong melodies, sweet harmonies, classic pop songwriting and strange sounds however.

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

As a recording engineer, the studio often exerts a strong influence on our music.  However, we're just as likely to have songs come together live in the rehearsal room or through simple bedroom demos.  We're a live band ultimately - but having the studio allows us to expand musically, and incorporate sounds and ideas that'd otherwise be impossible.

The one constant ideal throughout all of these processes however is the importance of the song.  To me, a good song should work just as well with an acoustic guitar as it does with the bells and whistles of a recording studio.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

You will see: Andrew Macpherson exhibiting complete mastery of the electric guitar, Jamie Dubber shooting bass lines from the hip, Ryan Clark's stylish punctuality in full effect and me pushing hair out of my face.

Tell us about your next planned split with Poor Things

Our first ever tour was back in November with Poor Things.  We immediately fell in love with each other (and each other's music).  So naturally, a split release was in order!  Fuzzkill are going to release it as a limited edition cassette/digital download!  You can get your hands on it through Fuzzkill's bandcamp or at one of the shows on the tour.

What else have you got planned for 2015?

We have a lot of music that we want to show you, we have a lot of gigs that we're very much looking forward to playing! We'll be at:

Edinburgh / Banshee Labyrinth – Friday 27th March
Aberdeen / Cellar 35 – Saturday 28th March
Inverness / Mad Hatters – Sunday 29th March
Glasgow / Broadcast - Friday 3rd April
Manchester / Big Hands – Saturday 4th April

What are you listening to at the moment?

I was listening to a new track of ours for far too long on end… (The joys of mixing).

But right now (thankfully), I'm listening to Tearing The Place Apart  by Sparks.  It has camp class and a sleazy swing.  It's classically melodic yet completely skewed.  A perfectly unhinged piece of pop music.   I highly recommend it.


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Album Review - digitalanalogue - Be Embraced, You Millions!


digitalanalogue is a solo project by Ian Turnbull from Edinburgh’s Broken Records and this debut release Be Embraced, You Millions!  is an album that displays a haunting beauty that can’t fail to draw you back time and time again for repeated listens.  Recorded on a mixture of old and new home recording equipment (hence the digitalanalogue tag), the album draws its influence from the last two years of Ian’s life from his “excitement at first time fatherhood and family life” to death of his mother from a terminal illness, with the parts of the song titles in parenthesis offering clues to the various events they are based on.  The mixture of emotions inspired by these highs and lows informs the album’s feel throughout.

Opener Café Royal (Difficult Conversation)  is a beautiful track that begins with a kind of Brian Eno Music For Airports  style piano before elements of post rock guitar work their way in, reminiscent of Mogwai, or Sigur Ros in their more placid moments.  It’s a gorgeous piece of music and a real scene setter for the album.  The piano led tracks are the stand outs for me on this release.  The wonderful Bow Bar (I’m Sorry, I Was Miles Away),  with its slightly treated piano sound redolent of The Caretaker’s haunting albums mixed with the melody of Depeche Mode instrumentals.  Album taster track ID83846 (Don’t Look Down)  too is a wonderful piece of work.

The stand out track, and the one most clearly linked to the personal events that inspired the work is No.99 (I Love To Go A Wandering).  It starts out with eerie electronics, before strings transform it into a heartbreaking piece of music that is interwoven with sampled dialogue of conversations between a father, their child and the child’s grandmother.  It really is quite a breath-taking track and works fantastically well as the album’s centre-piece, musically and emotionally.

The remaining tracks on the album fall more into the post rock category with a collection of drones and loops interspersed with samples and piano parts.  Tracks such as Wapping Road, Bristol (Always In The Right Place At The Right Time)  or London Road (Busy Brain)  providing a counterpoint to the more considered, almost ambient moments on the record.  The album ends on an upbeat note with the magical Creag Ruadh (Keep Going)  which feels distinctly like light at the end of the tunnel.

Be Embraced, You Millions!  is ultimately a very uplifting record and one that you can’t help becoming affected by, even after just one listen.  Superb stuff.

- David McElroy

digitalanalogue - Be Embraced, You Millions!  is out now on Song, By Toad Records either digitally via all good online music retailers or on limited edition 12” vinyl from all good record shops or here.  The vinyl comes in a hand-printed sleeve with photography and writing by Ian himself.  .

Monday, 23 March 2015

That's My Jam #54 - Poor Things - Friends


The reverse of our previous jam; which came from Catholic Actions; is two new offerings from trio Poor Things being released as part of a split cassette via Fuzzkill Records.

Friends  is the lead track from Poor Things, and is their first original new material since their eponymous debut album which was a firm favourite round these parts last year.  With a sweet acoustic intro, leading into plenty of fuzzy guitars, the track wraps the influences of Teenage Fanclub around it and bursts out with fresh impetus.

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 23rd March 2014


Last August we dabbled with an all vinyl podcast which went down pretty well.  So naturally I thought it was time to dust off some records and do it again; but this time live in the studio for two hours!  Which given that our wee radio studio is not set up to play vinyl at all was a fun challenge!  So if you'll forgive the odd RPM mishap and some crackles, then dig into music from Errors, Jonnie Common, Withered Hand, Le Thug, Frightened Rabbit and more! 

John Knox Sex Club - Animals
Japanese War Effort - Summer, Sun, Skateboard
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - If You Keep Me In Your Heart
FOUND - Machine Age Dancing
Errors - A Rumour In Africa
Django Django - Storm
We Were Promised Jetpack - Quiet Little Voices
Jonnie Common - Shark
Martin John Henry - Span
Admiral Fallow - Beetle in the Box
Aberfeldy - Love is an Arrow
Lightships - Fear and Doubt
Belle and Sebastian - Come on Sister
COVER LOVER - LCD Soundsystem - Live Alone
Rachel Sermanni - Eggshells
Travis - Side
Withered Hand - Heart Heart
Tuff Love - Poncho
Frightened Rabbit - The Loneliness and the Scream
The Seventeenth Century - Banks of Home
Biffy Clyro - Saturday Superhouse
Le Thug - Sense in Scotland
Ambulances - Shine on My Shoes


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Scottish Fiction - 23rd March 2015 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Album Review - Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - The Most Important Place In The World


A continuation from the hopeless desolation of young adulthood and the onset of responsibility and childcare; themes which were explored in the award winning collaborative album from Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat Everything's Getting Older;  the duo's latest offering, The Most Important Place In The World,  finds Aidan Moffatt starting a young family and exploring the trials of middle age.

There is humour in all of Moffat's lyrics, but it is usually so dark and hidden beneath heartbreak and guilt that it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.  By comparisons The Most Important Place In The World  is a humourous and joyful album.  From opener On The Motorway  with it's motorway observations; “a gridlock of seven seat saloons scream 'baby on board'..."; to the closing track We're Still Here, which details the demise of a small town; "we watched the florist wilt, and wane, and wither into dust"; the album is full of jokes.

There are touches of past melancholy in track the The Tangle Of Us  but overall the upbeat pop, including some of the most hummable songs of Moffat's career, outweigh that feeling.  Aidan Moffat's spoken word is usually harsh and abrasive.  On this album it seems closer to Rod McKuen or Serge Gainsbourg.

There are as many ideas crammed into every track as ever, but the smooth delivery creates a totally different listening experience.  The track Vanilla,  aside from the lyrics detailing a relationship becoming stale could be the soundtrack to a beach holiday. 

A standout from the album has to be the soul infused Street Pastor Colloquy, 3AM,  which details a journey home from a night out which descends into spiritual debating.  Guesting on the track is The Glad Cafe Choir, and while the lyrics are far from the kind you'll hear from the pews of a chapel, the soulful choral singing, backed with saxophone and piano lends this track a real uplifting feeling.

Alongside the positive message of the album, the instrumentation is slick, with soulful saxophones and brass and tight orchestration.  It's here that the experience and skill of Bill Wells comes to the fore, proving once again that this partnership has much still to offer.  It may stand out from everything else in his cannon but The Most Important Place In The World  is just as enjoyable as anything from the Arab Strap cannon, and indeed his previous work with Bill Wells.

- Peter Johnstone

Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - The Most Important Place In The World  is out now via Chemikal Underground and can be purchased from all good record stores and online music retailers.

Friday, 20 March 2015

That's My Jam #53 - Catholic Action - L.U.V


There's really something special about the new track L.U.V  from Glasgow four-piece Catholic Action.  The sounds are really familiar; touches of Franz Ferdinand art-rock, punches of 70's era punk, and hints of Edwyn Collins style pop; yet at the same time molded into something that feels urgent and fresh.

Perhaps it's against the backdrop of electro-pop which is; rightly it must be said; holding fort in many corners of the internet at the moment, but Catholic Actions style of DIY slacker-pop, littered with the above influences, is at the forefront of a number of bands plying such sounds in Glasgow and further afield. 

This track is part of a split with Poor Things which will be released on Fuzzkill Records on 30th March.  It's infectiously catchy, and embodied all the reasons why Catholic Action are about to be lauded by more and more people.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Single Review - OSKAR - Wildings


Dunfermline's OSKAR celebrate their first anniversary together next month and what better way to kick of the festivities than release a brand new, seriously good, piece of tuneage.

The track is called Wildlings  and according to the band is inspired by Game of Thrones.  The 'Wildlings' in said show are free people, and through the pounding drums of the opening few bars, and the sunrise synth sounds, it's easy to picture and feel the inspiration.

Wildlings  is a gorgeous mix of light guitar riffs alongside the wall of noise generated by the synths, drums and the vocals, which are perfect dark indie pop, channeling Ian Curtis, Robert Smith and all of the other '80's dark pop gods.  Like all of the best dark pop tracks in history, the song explodes into light half way through the track, vaporizing the darkness.  The song then retreats partially before giving us a final movement sure to cause audible wows amongst every music fan consuming the song.

OSKAR are already supporting the likes of Seafret and Bipolar Sunshine so expect to see them all over the country and the UK this year.

- Scott Hastie


OSKAR - Wildings  is out now and can be downloaded via iTunes here.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

We're Only Here For The Banter - Mayor Stubbs


Hailing from Lanarkshire, Mayor Stubbs is the alt-folk project of Matt Adam; and also the name of an Alaskan mayor who happens to be a cat.  Working with renowned producer Andy Miller, Mayor Stubbs releases his self titled EP on the 23rd of this month.  Ahead of that, I caught up with Matt for a quick Q&A.

Hello!   How the devil are you?

Hey Neil, I am grand!  Currently working away in Camp Stubbs getting everything perfect for the EP launching.  I'm getting right excited to officially share it with everyone

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

No hassle at all!  The influence question is always a bit of a tough one for me, there isn't any particular musician or songwriter that made me decide to start writing music in the style of Mayor Stubbs.  I've always been in the mindset that for people to be able to enjoy the music it has to be genuine, honest and original - not trying to replicate or build on someone else's sound.

The resulting sound is barebones indie folk music.  The guitar's a bit wanky, the vocals a bit wonky but I'm proud of it and all I want to do is share it with others.

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

My songs are built from the guitar up - I definitely identify myself as a guitar player over a vocalist so the initial stages of writing are always a lot of fun for me.  I tend to stick to pop sensibilities (I'm a big fan of perfect 3 minute pop song) and from there I like to push the guitar to create unique and original music.  It's such a versatile instrument and there's so much you can do to really work the guitar and manipulate the sound.  It's a shame, my poor wee guitar (lovingly named Chief by my friends and I) takes some beating.

Lyrically, its a bit of a tougher process for me.  I struggle to sit down and assign time to writing a song so I try not to give it too much conscious thought at all.  The lyrics usually come from some little epiphany or thought I have when I'm spending time alone, then I'll try to articulate that thought as genuinely as possible.  From that point, it's a pretty immediate process where that initial thought gives me enough momentum to keep writing until I feel I'll conveyed and resolved whatever that thought was.  When I've finished, I don't tend to go back and edit or tweak - it's all about capturing that initial thought as pure as I can.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

I'm very aware that a live show is a shared experience - I don't feel its enough to just play a solid set.  It's all about connecting with the people who've taken time to come and see me and giving them something to take away from the gig.  With the songs being so personal, I feel if you can take something from Mayor Stubbs then you're part of Mayor Stubbs; it's as much about the connection as it is the music. 

So at a Mayor Stubbs live show you can see me stomping around on stage, beating the harmony from my guitar and singing good songs to good people.

Tell us about your new self titled EP.

The recording process was a simple and relaxed affair.  I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want a fancy polished record, I wanted whoever was listening to my songs to feel like I was sat in front of them just playing them a few tunes.  The whole EP was recorded, mixed and mastered in two days.  I really didn’t want it to feel like the EP was a result of the studio but more to use the studios to produce an honest and bare-boned representation of what Mayor Stubbs is musically.

To get that human and genuine sound the songs were recorded live in Gargleblast Studios mostly in single takes with minimal production afterwards.  I knew I wanted to work with Andy Miller (engineer at Gargleblast) not just because of who he’s worked with before (Mogwai, De Rosa, Arab Strap, Life Without Buildings) or his crazy knowledge of sound, but because we've known each other as friends for years and I was adamant that only if I was somewhere familiar and constant, would I be able to avoid the red light syndrome and record my songs honestly. 

I'm very excited to officially release the EP on the 23rd March through Gargleblast Records.  The EP will be available at mayorstubbs.bandcamp.com and all other online retail and streaming services.

What else have you got planned for 2015?

On the 29th March I'm doing a launch gig at the Flying Duck on Renfrew Street.  Tickets are £5 and available on the door.  It's looking like a great night already and I can't wait to play in The Flying Duck, it's a really cool space for a gig.

I'll also be supporting Henry & Fleetwood at the Glad Cafe on 11th April for their EP launch.

What are you listening to at the moment?

A whole mess of stuff which really doesn't marry up with my wee folky tunes haha.  I've been listening to Sylvan Esso pretty constantly for a while - their album is so well put together in terms of arrangement and production.  Also been listening to Run the Jewels, Sleater-Kinney, PAWS, Alvvays and, as always, Death Cab For Cutie.

Locally, I'm really digging A Sudden Burst of Colour, Finn LeMarinel, Amatrart, Michael Timmons and my label mates TOWERS (they make a mean noise!) at the moment.


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Monday, 16 March 2015

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 16th March 2015


Every now and again in the life of doing this show, there comes along one week where I am genuinely in awe of the amount of great music the internet lets me unearth.  This is one of those weeks as the quality of music is outstanding. 

On the show there's a track from each side of the new Catholic Action and Poor Things split, a stonking track from the new Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat LP, plus new music from Froth, The Pooches, Wendell-Borton, Youngstrr Joey and more.

Catholic Action - L.U.V
Froth - Pedalo
Spinning Coin - Albany
Buffalo Heart - Dig a Pit
The New Fabian Society - Hemorrhage
Asthmatic Astronaut - On The Other Side of the Mirror
CLASSIC TRACK - Primal Scream - Accelerator
Drunk Mule - One Trick Pony & The Magic Band
Electric Gardens - Piano Mouth
The Pooches - Carnival
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Street Pastor Colloquy, 3AM
Shona Brown - Counting Clouds
Kathryn Joseph - The Blood
Sorren Maclean - Way Back Home
I am David Laing - Marmalade
COVER LOVER - King Creosote - Grace
Dec '91 - Lost All Hope
Youngstrr Joey - Cheerleaders
Poor Things - Friends
Wendell-Borton - Saucy
Schnarff Schnarff - Desk
Young Fathers - Shame
Monogram - Minerals
RE-MIXING IT UP - Machines In Heaven - Hindu Milk (Modifier Remix)
Turtle - Silent Weapons
Sacred Paws - Vince


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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Single Review - Shona Brown - Your Silence Is So Loud


Shona Brown is a Glasgow based singer/songwriter who is currently midway through her ambitious "10 in 10" project, which sees her release a single every month for ten months. 

A classically trained flautist, she combines loops, effects and electronics to manipulate her vocals and flute to create wonderful scoundscapes.

Your Silence Is So Loud  is a great example of Shona's strengths.  Sparse beats and a reverb laden piano underpin a beautifully melodic track laden with gorgeous harmonies.  The vocal effects are especially clever and the track leaves a lasting impression.

The "10 in 10" project has produced some fantastic tracks so far and Your Silence Is So Loud  is a real stand out.

- David McElroy

Shona Brown - Your Silence Is So Loud  is available to download here.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Single Review - Admiral Fallow - Evangeline


Whilst fans of Glasgow five piece, Admiral Fallow, wait patiently for the bands third album to be released, a little teaser has emerged in the form of new track Evangeline.  For many of the fans, this new track might be quite different from what they were expectingIt has a little less folk and pop than some of their previous stuff, and a lot more indie edge, with some electronic vibes present as well. 

The lyrics don’t quite sync up with the melody at times, which on paper sounds like a disaster.  But in reality it is mesmerizing and helps to make this track stand out from the crowd, along with the prominent drums. 

However, the essence of Admiral Fallow is still undeniably present here.  Those vocal harmonies and upbeat instrumentation that smother the listener in happiness and warmth develop throughout Evangeline. 

This track does not sound like much else that is around at the moment, giving it a beautifully fresh (and at times uneasy) quality.  That being said, it is still full of sincerity with regards to the band that created it, and hints towards elements of a new sound on the upcoming album

- Gillian Parfery

Admiral Fallow - Evangeline  is available to download now on iTunes,  Admiral Fallow will be playing various festivals over the summer if you fancy hearing some of their new stuff live.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

EP Review - The New Fabian Society - Naltrexone


You are hit loud, fast and outrageously hard by The New Fabian Society as their way of a hello in the opening moments of the Glaswegian trio's debut EP, Naltrexone.  The sound permeates violently as you're hit unassumingly but TNFC do so in such a deliciously endearing way, you just want more.

In Love With A Killer
  delivers an upbeat, fast tempo and exhilarating opening track.  It's a sign of things to come from these guys.  The brutality of the guitar matches perfectly with the heavy drums and frequency of cymbals, which culminates in an infectious match made in music heaven.  Imagine such a thing?  Muffled vocals follow the catchy chorus and I'm instantly taken aback 15 years and I'm in my dad's '96 Rover listening to the pearls of the 80's from the best of his cassette collection.  The haziness, the distorted vocals, the mixture of it all is so much more than I ever expect from a band now.

Aching guitar slides you slowly into Haemorrhage.  Instantly the listener is taken to a place of uncertainty as the guitar turns to a shade of sinister beauty.  Coupled with Michael's vocals taking a step down to remove the luscious 80's slick but enough to maintain the edge of his voice.  An explicit overhaul of trickling guitar lines, beautifully thrashing cymbals and hauntingly smooth and inconspicuous vocals amount to unverified anthemic glory.

Blaring, rowdy and atypical punk guitar welcomes you into Bind  as vocals take a turn for the bleariest yet.  Me, I love the bleary eyed confusion seeping from this track, I relish the opportunity to put all focus on the instruments and away from the somewhat over importance of words, but you may not be able to fully appreciate this and instead, find the distortion a matter of irritation.  You decide.

Geneva  transforms you into a torpedo of sound.  A rupture of full mental awareness.  The music feels it's hurling you round and you’re lost to the mesmeric essence of it all.  Relish it, enjoy it, maybe even spin a bit.  It feels great.  This music might not be destined to take you on an emotional journey of self discovery, but it will make you feel something.  Something of hypnotic and exciting proportions.

- Melanie McKinley


The New Fabian Society - Naltrexone  is out now via Electric Company and available as a 'name-your-price' download here.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

That's My Jam #52 - Mt. Doubt - Asunder


"Songs I wrote in my bedroom" is how Mt. Doubt is described on their Facebook page.  Which is one of the reasons why latest track Asunder  is so fucking impressive.  I know, I know, people can do all sorts in their bedroom these days [snigger], but the completeness and expansive sound of Asunder  goes beyond what I'd class as lo-fi bedroom recordings, or uber produced bedroom recordings.

Hailing from Edinburgh, Mt. Doubt have released consistently good tracks online, and Asunder  seems like the natural progression from it's predecessors.  Following a playful clinking intro, sweeping drums, soulful vocals, and atmospheric guitars swirl up to the pinnacle of the track; it's building and soaring outro.  More please.

We're Only Here For The Banter - Mt. Doubt


Hailing from Edinburgh Mt. Doubt is the project of Leo Bargery which has caught the ears of many, including us at Scottish Fiction, over the past couple of months.  With expansive and atmospheric sounds, Mt. Doubt holds plenty of promise for development.  I caught up with Leo for a good ol' Scottish Fiction chat.

Hello!  How the devil are you?

Hi there, I suppose I’m not too bad thanks

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


I think it's impossible to have a truly unaffected experience of your own music so other people's opinions probably say more about what my music is than what I personally think of it.  I'd say it's fairly dark, atmospheric pop mixed with a bit of alt-rock; I would feel uncomfortable aligning myself completely with a distinct genre because it seems a bit limiting to say "we play indie" or something you know, because where can you go from there? 

In terms of influences, I'm influenced by lots of different things.  Lyrically, I think Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse), Jesse Lacey (Brand New) and Morrissey have got to be up there.  Musically, I have a lot of love for bands like The National, TV on the Radio, Mogwai, and The Twilight Sad but I try to listen to as much music as possible and hopefully that can only make my own music more interesting…

I'm also influenced by non-musical factors; books and films are just as important to me and without day to day interactions I probably wouldn’t have all that much to write about.

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


If you're creative the process never really stops, even if it’s quiet for a while I believe it's always on the brink of a spark.  I find that I'm usually inspired by phrases and words.  I like trying to say things in slightly unusual ways and so if I see or hear a phrasing I like or if I put together words in a way that really stands out to me - I often work off that.   I usually have a lyrical idea or a direction I know I want to take and then I’ll just sit down and mess around with a guitar and from time to time everything slots together and a song gets set into motion.  Right now, Mt. Doubt is just me so once I was in the studio I just wrote and arranged all the other parts and the songs worked themselves out.

To the best of my knowledge, you haven't played live yet.  What could we expect to see from a live show, and when might that happen?

That's right.  I’ll be launching my album early summer and will have a launch show around the same time which is exciting.  I really want to bring the songs to life, if everything goes to plan I really want to put on a proper show.  I’ve been in bands before where friends will come along and watch you and tell you afterwards that it was good but I want the people who come and see Mt. Doubt to, first and foremost, enjoy themselves and enjoy the music but to leave thinking that what they’ve just watched was really fucking amazing.

What else have you got planned for the rest of 2015?

I'm self-releasing my debut album and I’ll be playing live for the first time (details coming soon) in early summer.  Before that I’ve got a few little things in the pipeline to get sorted and once the album is out I'll be back to recording again.  My main focus for 2015 is just to get the name out and about and to get as many people as possible to hear about Mt. Doubt.


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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

That's My Jam #51 - United Fruit - Ghost Inside Your Head


Taking further strides into anthem terrority United Fruit have unleashed a brand new track called Ghost Inside Your Head  ahead of their transatlantic jaunt to SXSW this month. 

Having reigned things back slightly with previous singles, a move which proved well served, Ghost Inside Your Head  drenches itself in a bath of reverb before battering the senses with a full on chorus assault.  It's the kind of track that would be insane in the sweat dripped walls of a basement, and equally at home blaring out 10ft high stacked speakers at a festival.

Monday, 9 March 2015

That's My Jam #50 - Foreignfox - Frostbite


T
he first time I heard the new single Frostbite  from Dunfermline foursome Foreignfox was when the band where session guests on the Scottish Fiction radio show some weeks back.  As they practiced the track a few times, I sat engrossed, thinking to myself "this is bloody brilliant."

Fast forward a few weeks, and the single has been released in it's full pomp and glory, and to my ear it's every bit as glorious as I'd remembered.  Having developed and enjoyed success on the back of their last EP Frostbite  shows all the signs of a band fully in control of their sound and where they see themselves as a band.  Johnny Watt's passionate vocals glow with warmth, there's a insanely catchy pop heart beating beneath this track, a trait that has not harmed Fatherson, a band with whom Foreignfox share more than just tour dates with.

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 9th March 2015


A distilled one hour episode of Scottish Fiction this week; which for the most part consists of some pretty laid back music.  We introduce you to Henry & Fleetwood, the new artist on Olive Grove Records, there's first tastes of the new albums from Admiral Fallow and Garden of Elks, plus Balearic inspired post rock from A Sudden Burst Of Colour.  Enjoy!

Admiral Fallow - Evangeline
Forever - Shamed
Garden of Elks - Swap
Mt. Doubt - Soft Wrists
A Sudden Burst Of Colour - Life Spent Drifting
RE-MIXING IT UP - Blood Relatives - Deerheart (The Ansion remix)
Finn LeMarinel - Become
Henry & Fleetwood - Perfect Mess
Idlewild - All Things Different
Siobhan Wilson - Dear God
King Creosote - Largs


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Scottish Fiction - 9th March 2015 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Friday, 6 March 2015

Single Review - Tijuana Bibles - Sun Chaser


Western-style twanging guitar is the cool sound that greets your ears as Sun Chaser opens, creating a loaded atmosphere.  You can almost smell the gun smoke.  Slick rock ‘n’ roll outfit Tijuana Bibles’ new single is a fighting song – you can tell they mean business.  The steady beat and bass accompanied by assured vocals create a swaggering, stellar sound.

There is a definite sense of welcome battle – the catchy guitar riffs communicate a penchant for danger, a kind of reckless menace.  For lovers of this Kasabian-esque breed of stylish rock, this is your next craze – a completely infectious fresh tune.

- Maura Keane

Tijuana Bibles - Sun Chaser is out now via and is available on digital download via iTunes.  You can catch them at Broadcast in Glasgow on March 20th or at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on March 21st.

 

Album Review - Supermoon - Oh, Supermoon


By calling the first track of this collection of songs Death to Meursault, we are left in no doubt that Neil Pennycook’s new project Supermoon looks to put to bed that wonderful collective which gave us three albums – Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues, All Creatures Will Make Merry and Something for the Weakened – over a 6 year period and a SXSW fundraising sampler The Organ Grinder’s Monkey.  At 21:20 long and comprising of only seven tracks, Oh, Supermoon fits neither the EP nor LP category comfortably, and offers itself as more of a taster of things to come from Neil with some distinctly demo feeling tracks.

Meursault purists will be pleased to know that this selection of songs makes no great departure from the pattern which has been so carefully woven over the years, relying as heavily as ever on Neil’s distinctive despairing and cursing vocals over threads of rich melody and stark accompaniment.

In Death to Meursault’s opening track, we hear an acoustic guitar phrase repeating, revolving and overlaid with Neil’s crying vocals, and then, finding a melody which suits the change in mood, we have a chorus of sorts so typical of his work and so desperate in delivery.  The song opens and the chords dance, and we are at the point of maximum impact.  “…and everything could be so easy,” sings Neil, comfortable in familiar surroundings.

In Klopfgeist, we have as near to a ballad as we can reasonably expect.  Percussive offbeats introduce a crisp piano detail which allows the soft vocals to guide us and soften the tone of the album.  A beautifully crafted song which ebbs and flows and stutters and starts in a truly melodic and off-centre manner.  All the while, the simple melody sounds a mantra for all bereft and abandoned lounge singers out there.

Moving gently on to New Boy a shift in tempo is signalled by a chopping, driving low guitar chord strum, and over finger-picking guitar and piano arpeggios, the telephonic vocal ushers us to sit up and take note with, “Every grain of the sands of time…”  The repetitive and compelling tune repeats, fades and resolves in a fashion we have become used to with Meursault and indeed of Bon Iver too.  Sad hearts indeed deliver sublime songs, this is one such song.

And then to Ode to Gremlin, a track which demands the clearing of the throat before the thump and chime of piano chords set the pace for a hypnotic and atmospheric backdrop of dissonance as the tale is told.  And, like so much of the album, the secret in the tale is in the listening, and in the audibility of and the separation of consonants and vowels.

A distinctively country guitar feel arrives with Oh, Supermoon.  However, the mantra-like lyrics and jarring offset sharps maintain the interest and mystery of a demo which appears, on the face of it, to be in embryonic stage, but is complete in its lack of resolution.

In Supermoon Vs. Black Friday, we have a tale of much more clarity and a balance which sits much higher in the mix than previous tracks.  A thrashing of chorus guitar chords demands a screamed delivery of, “I’m facing south and I’m coming for you”.  A song of self-evaluation, angry proclamation and a determination for rebirth and pained determination.  Just what Neil is a master of, you may say.

A more melancholy guitar motif introduces the final track, A Gentleman’s Guide, and a gentler approach in the vocals, reminiscent of Randolph’s Leap at their most sincere, shows Neil at his most playful.  A folk song in essence, with nods to both Dylan and Jansch along the way.  A fitting and sympathetic finale to the collection.

There is an incompleteness to this collection of songs and a vagueness in message which leaves space for the listener to mould each of the songs to fit his or her own personal bearing and/or want.  As such, it offers something of greater value than any album complete and is confident in its construct.  Another wonderful and enduring collection of songs from one of Scotland’s truly unique talents.

- Bobby Motherwell

Supermoon - Oh, Supermoon is available now on digital download via Bandcamp.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

That's My Jam #49 - Spinning Coin - Albany


Released on the uber-cool Winning Sperm Party label, Tape  is pretty much what it says on the tin; a cassette release of four track from new Glasgow band Spinning Coin.  Spinning Coin combine members of various Glasgow lo-fi bands, behind the ever prolific writings of Sean Armstrong. 

Sean previously found praise round these parts with lo-fi slacker rock group The Yawns, and this track Albany  has all the same hallmarks.  Polished enough to be audible and not just a demo, lo-fi and laid back enough to retain that effortless cool vibe, the track will swim around your head for hours after listening.  The rest of the EP is pretty sweet too, but for now dig on Albany.