Monday, 5 January 2015

What was your album of 2014?

2014 was a great year for music, with record sales in vinyl and a lot less Justin Bieber. Over the past few weeks, you've probably seen all the papers, websites and blogs posting their top 10, 30 or 50 albums of the past year, but how about whittling it down to just one?

It's like asking to pick a favourite child, I know, but I'd like to know what you think the best album of the year was.

Personally, top of my list is The Twilight Sad's third album, Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. It was mature, heartfelt, deep and dark - the only way this band know how to play. They've come a long way over the past few years and this came to a head when they showed up fellow Scots Twin Atlantic at the Edinburgh Hogmanay street party, who have progressively gotten worse since their brilliant debut mini album Vivarium.

Anyway, who is number 1 on your list? And who do we have to look forward to in 2015?

Leave your comments below and join in the debate!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Winter Tradition - secret show

Secret shows seem to be becoming more of a thing these days. Edinburgh band The Winter Tradition chose this as a way of playing some new material that they have been working on after confirming a second album is in the works.

The Mash House on the Cowgate was sold out on the night but didn't really fill up for opening act (half of) GoodCopGreatCop - an indie/alt rock band from Perth. They played an acoustic set full of catchy chorus, definitely a band I'd want to see again at full strength.

The people at the bar then made their way downstairs and packed out the venue as The Winter Tradition played a long set, making their way through new tracks and old favourites like Nightscape and Gradients.

There is clearly a lot of love for the local band who started their set behind what looked like a bed sheet. The effect of the white light behind the band made for a cool silhouette on our side before it dropped at the start if the second track to cheers from the crowd.

They played for around an hour before finishing with Nightscape as part of the much appreciated encore.

Now just to wait for news on the new album - the bands debut Gradients is still available in the meantime and it comes highly recommended (from me)!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle and Sebastian - Edinburgh Corn Exchange

So I had a bit of a hipster weekend at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange:

On Thursday, indie rock legends Neutral Milk Hotel followed up their recent Glasgow gig with a night in Edinburgh, playing songs (among others) from one of the most influential albums of the last 20 years. The album which gained the band so much fame, yet the same on that almost tore them apart - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. NMH were one of those bands I never thought I would get to see. Due to me being 2 when the album was released, I missed their initial success, but years later after falling in love with ITAOTS many times over, I was as excited as anyone about this show. Anyone except maybe Scott Hutchison (Owl John) who got to support one of his all time favourite bands along with his brother - both had to cover up their aeroplane-phonograph tattoo's...

Also, on Saturday night, I went to the first screening of God Help the Girl, a musical, written and directed by Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian. It was beamed to 80 cinemas across the UK from an uncomfortably packed Corn Exchange as we sat on the floor for all 111 minutes. To be honest, the film wasn't to my own liking but I have seen a lot of positive feedback on Twitter. However, I think the main draw of the night was the gig B&S put on afterwards, mixing their own songs with tracks from God Help the Girl, a random bit of Motown and an even more random David Bowie cover sang by Stevie Jackson at the request of Murdoch! Another brilliant performance from the band, who had people up dancing on-stage with them to Boy With the Arab Strap.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

New Music

There has been a good few new releases over the Summer, and I've been doing my best to keep up to date with them. Here are some of my picks:

Owl John

It's probably no surprise to hear that Frightened Rabbit are one of my favourite bands, and when we heard last year that front man Scott Hutchison was off to live an LA and release a solo album, I wasn't quite sure what to think. However, under the pseudonym Owl John, he release the self titled debut last week and it is safe to say that it is some of his very best work. Many of the songs are about moving State-side and starting life again, while others are about music itself - both his own and others. I caught Owl John in Edinburgh a few weeks back where he played a mix of his solo and FR songs; I think Red Hand could be a contender for his best song, even though the video is disturbing!

Flood of Red

The second full length release from Airdrie band Flood of Red has definitely built on their impressive debut 'Leave Everything Behind'. If the artwork itself isn't enough for you to want to listen, songs like 'Lashes', 'Whispers and Choirs' and 'Cutting Limes' stand out of the 9 tracks. The band have put their post-hardcore days well behind them, their music has evolved and matured and they are now one of the most impressive and original Scottish bands at this time. 

Slow Club

The progress of Slow Club from their 2009 debut 'Yeah, So' is actually quite amazing. 'Paradise' saw a change in the music from happy indie pop to an upbeat, atmospheric and slightly more serious record, and 'Complete Surrender' has gone even further to, dare I say, soul music!? Whatever it is, I like it a lot. The production level is huge in the new songs and they've really made an effort with videos as well. Definitely a band who get better with every record. 


Elsewhere, PAWS released their second album Youth Culture Forever to massive support from big names like Blink 182 and, of course, Simon Pegg... Strengthening live performances will see the band go back to America for a second time. The band even brought friends We are Scientists to Glasgow for a very sweaty, very mental secret show in the tiny venue of Bloc. A night to remember!

King Creosote

Lastly, a joint project of King Creosote and film-maker Virginia Heath, 'From Scotland With Love' was set to mark the opening of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, providing the antidote from shortbread, whisky and Nessie. It is a heartfelt documentary of Scotland's past, from Glasgow shipyards to days out to the beach, and King Creosote produced the music which he also used to release a new album of the same name. It is a very sentimental documentary, showing Scotland at its best with no spoken word, just the music to back the old footage. It might be hard to imagine, but you can see from the below video exactly why you need to buy 'From Scotland with Love'. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Augustines | Liquid Rooms | 15/5/14

So this happened last night...
Augustines took the packed Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh by storm last night as they fired through song after song from their two albums in a two hour set. About 6 songs into the set, the band disappeared for a couple of minutes, appearing on the upper level balcony for a bit of an acoustic session. Billy's distinctly powerful voice echoed throughout the venue for one of those hair standing on end moments. And fair play to the crowd for staying so quiet. 

The Brooklyners played hard, full of love for the crowd and treated everyone to a special encore. The four of them made their way into the middle of the crowd to round off their set with 4 acoustic songs, one of them being a song from Billy's teenage years. The Twittersphere was going crazy with tweets to the band telling them how special a night it was, and I'd have to agree. 

If more bands treated their fans like Augustines, the music industry would be a much better place. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Second Hand Marching Band.

Everyone loves a bit of DIY, right? Well The Second Hand Marching Band do. It has taken them 4 years, 20 instruments and 17 people to compile 13 songs, thus creating A Hurricane, a Thunderstorm.

The album opens calmly with the soft trumpets and accordion of Bypass (my favourite song from their previous demos). There aren't many songs about motorway signs, but this is the best out of what I've heard! The album picks up pace with tracks This is the Story, then We Will Convince You. The band want to convince you that you're not sad, and who would be with the quick beat of the drum making this a dance-able song when played live.

Female vocals lead the shortest song on the album Climbing Up the Walls before the band remind you that Love is a Fragile Thing in one of the standout tracks on the album. Signpost is a completely acoustic, minimal and quite lovely a song, while You Will/My Body is a Mess is clearly a song about an ex lover who liked to cause arguments.

The complimenting male and female vocals make Mull a very emotional song as it touches on a  personal loss for the singer. Another fairly short track Spark comes just before title track A Hurricane, A Thunderstorm, the chorus of which tells it how it is, 'Something will interfere with plans that you've made.' Annoying, but true!

You Said You Were a Broken Person is another slow, acoustic song, whilst Wrench of My Hand bursts open with the familiar sound of the accordion that is always at the forefront of the music. The album closes just as gently as it opened with Paper Year, rounding off a brilliant album with excellent melodies and evocative lyrics. You know what they say: If you want something done right, then do it yourself!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Shooting Stansfield

Any band who are likened to Frightened Rabbit and The National must be doing something right, and Shooting Stansfield are definitely worthy of the plaudits. The Edinburgh four-piece are not shy in citing their influences, many of which are well established on the Scottish music scene and the release of their EP We Know Not What We Do to rave reviews back in June, showed mature songwriting skills and the ability of the band as they create lovely layered music alongside passionate, rousing choruses and melodies.

 I must admit I missed their email when it came through so I'm probably not up to date fully with the band, though I'm hoping this short feature will make up for it. However, Shooting Stansfield are set to be working on an album in the coming future, which will be highly anticipated, I'm sure (and I promise to be on the ball when it is released!!)

We Know Not What We Do is available on the usual websites (Amazon, iTunes etc), and would be the perfect addition to your 'Indie' or 'Chilled Out' playlist, as each song effortlessly rolls onto the next, and all six songs pass with ease and, of course, you have to play it again. And for those of us who like picking up on every lyric, there are some gems in these six songs:

"If hollow is not a normal thing then I need filling in / If emptiness comes from within, then we are struggling."

And I'll leave it at that; Shooting Stansfield.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

New Music

After an extended break (I've been busy) I am back to bring you some of the best new music out at the moment. And did someone say Sigur Rós are back? Hell yes. One of my favourite bands return with Kveikur - their new album released on Monday past. As Jonsi said to one of the 'bigger' music websites, it is their most aggressive record to date, and some of the noises they have produced are borderline scary! Think falsetto Mogwai. The word Kveikur translates to 'candlewick' but when spoken sounds like 'quake' in English, and comes after Valtari, which translated to 'Roller' and had the aura of a calm and tranquil sea. So to me, Valtari was the calm before Kveikur brought the storm. Anyway, this, for me, is one of the top albums this year; placing between Pedestrian Verse from Frightened Rabbit and Trouble Will Find Me by The National.

Quickbeam have released their self-titled debut album which got them to number 10 in the Record Store Charts. With songs like 700 Hundred Birds achieving critical acclaim, the future is looking bright for the band. The record itself goes along at a steady and mellow place with the wonderful voice of Monika at the forefront as layer upon layer of orchesterial music is formed, occasionally reaching the crescendo moment. Quickbeam is available to listen below.

Cherri Fosphate have also released their debut EP Burning Youth. These catchy four tracks show all signs of promise from the young Glasgow based band whose live shows are full of confidence and consistency (and were probably one of the best acts at Brew at the Bog a few weeks back). The toe tapping Wool appears to be the lead track from the EP but my favourite song for no real reason is closing track Kerry Rodgers. The whole EP has catchy choruses to sing along to and riffs that will bring out the air-guitar hero in us all!

Other music I have been listening to includes the brand new album Desire Lines from Camera Obscura. I've been waiting in anticipation for a new release from them and at first listen, I am certainly not disappointed. I haven't listened enough to write a full review but I can't wait to listen more.

Boards of Canada have however been of great disappointment after all the hype surrounding Tomorrow's Harvest. Again, another band we have all been waiting on coming back from hiatus, but it doesn't feel like an album that has been 8 years in the making. But even after the ground breaking previous albums, it would be near impossible to replicate this to an audience 8 years older who would still enjoy it as much.

Anyway, hope you will find something you like here to keep you busy (Sigur Rós, Sigur Rós, Sigur Rós, Sigur Rós do it).

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Meet the Panto's!

I recently caught up with Margate based The Pantomime Villains after the release of their debut EP Dreamland. Here's what the boys had to say:

Who are the Pantomime Villains?

We are Jake, Josh, Callum and Harry. We don't expand on that any further.

So are you a bit secretive? 

H: Only about Jake's sexuality.
C: I thought everyone new that...

Obviously, you're in this band together, but do you all get on? 

J: We demand separate dressing rooms.
H: We are all best mates...except Josh.
C: Yeah, no one likes a ginger.

How is your music going down on both local and national levels? 

J: The nation is involuntarily deaf to our new born cry, but it is going down very well locally, and we can only grow from there.

If a record label were to offer you fame and fortune, but you must do what they tell you, would you change?

J: No. We will take constructive criticism but will never abort our ideals.

What has the feedback been like for the Dreamland EP? 

C: Furiously positive.

And what about an album/tour in the future? 

J: I think we would need label support for that.
C: Yeah, it's something we would love to do but at this time, it wouldn't be beneficial.

How do you feel about the future of The Pantomime Villains?

C: The future's bright, the future's Orange (especially with Josh involved)?
J: Brilliant.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Flutes - Killburn

Everyone needs that dark, depressing, yet somehow uplifting moment in their life. Today that moment is brought to us by Flutes with their new single Kilburn which comes with a hard-hitting and rather excellent video starring Lorraine Stanley. I'll also add that if you're under, say 15, you probably shouldn't watch the video, but I'm not stopping you!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Now Playing....

It's a pretty nice day today up here in the Highlands. It has been chilled out so far with some great music on play while I'm dottering about.

First up I've had the song Twisted Little Theatre by London based band Killing Fields of Ontario. The song is a bit of organised madness with pulsating drums while the main riff is being overshadowed by the untraditional sound of an organ.

King of the Opera have also been on today's playlist. The Italian band have just produced their debut album Nothing Outstanding. From listening to the album, there are a lot of influences coming from different directions. For a while, it could be Radiohead, other wise, there are definite hints of perhaps The Doors and also a post-rock sound that I more than welcomed. Here is the video for the brand new song, The Floating Song.

Lastly, for the rock fans out there, here is Super73- a Alt-rock band from central England. They have been making great strides the past wee while and have just secured a license for their music to be promoted in the USA. The future is looking bright for Super73 after they formed from the downfall of previous bands. They are now looking to break into the city scenes across the country to get their high energy music out to new fans.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


We have featured Highlanders KOBI a couple of times on the blog now and it is clear to see that with each time, they have improved tenfold. Well they have done it again through the release of their brand new track All The Way. Produced by the Grammy award winning Steve Orchard (who has worked with British greats such as Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher and Travis), All The Way is a 3 minute, catchy pop song with an uplifting brass section, and a chorus you will be finding yourself singing to yourself over and over again. The band have developed their sound from the 'post-rock'  Sinister, and find themselves drawing influences from 80's bands as well as modern acts such as The Cars, Aztec Camera and Foals. The band are doing a two date promo tour for the single. They will be playing Inverness and Glasgow, as seen above with Cherri Fosphate and The Uptown Beat!

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Deep Red Sky

With a new album on the horizon, Scottish 5 piece The Deep Red Sky have unveiled the first single to be taken from the album due on the 13th of May. The album will be called Plans. The band have released the track Zombies, for which they also made a video (and is free to download from BandCamp). The song flows steadily as layer upon layer is added to the song until the crescendo is met with the powerful voice of singer Jamie- as the young boy manages to make the dreams of his fish come true (see video for that one!!).

But before the release of Plans, the band are managing their way through a tour spanning from London all the way north to Inverness. With the first date in Edinburgh just passed, the band will be playing the following shows:

  • 23rd March - Edinburgh - Cabaret Voltaire
  • 27th March - Biggar - Corn Exchange
  • 28th March - Manchester - Retro Bar
  • 30th March - Liverpool- Lomax
  • 31st March - Nottingham - The Golden Fleece
  • 2nd April - London - Nottinghill Arts Club
  • 3rd April London - Slaughtered Lamb
  • 5th April - London - Underbelly
  • 12th April - Perth - The Corrina
  • 14th April - Inverness - Madhatters
The band cite their influences as The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, which is evident, but The Deep Red Sky manage to keep their unique layered sound which will be envied by many. 2013 is turning into a massive year for the band. They are following up the 2011 EP The Job. The Flat. The Girlfriend. with Zombies which will be followed by The Look On Your Face at the end of April before the full album on the 13th of May. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Olive Grove Records Mini 'Barn' Tour.

Randolph's Leap, State Broadcasters and Jo Mango, from the brilliant wee label Olive Grove Records, went on a two date tour of a couple of northern barns - that being Woodend Barn in Banchory and Bogbain Farm , Inverness. I was at the 'best unusual venue' of 2012 which is Bogbain's barn venue on Friday night to see two brilliant bands that I've been listening to for a year or so now and Jo Mango who I'd never actually listened to before.

Randolph's Leap are usually an 8 piece but for this show they were a duo. Frontman Adam Ross warmed the crowd and the crowd quickly warmed to him in the icy conditions with his witty lyrics of him being a telephone psychic and pretending to do the luge in the bath, before eventually finishing off with all 3 bands chanting a rousing rendition Going Home.  Randolph's Leap were my favourite act that night and I'm now awaiting their return to Bogbain for Brew at the Bog in May.

The State Broadcasters were next to grace the stage. They put on a brilliant performance playing songs mostly from Ghosts We Must Carry, and announcing the upcoming release (which is actually today) of a new single. There was a distinct theme of birds going through all of the acts' songs and this was continued when State Broadcasters played Kittiwake. Having a harp as a main instrument was also very interesting and unique. I think it works though, and credit to Gillian for being able to play the harp so well whilst singing.

Lastly, we were treated to Jo Mango. As I said, I'd never listened to her music before, but her bands' music reminded me of Esperi, with added French Accordian. Jo played a full set, spoke about her stalking people in Inverness and also continued the theme of birds, teaching us about bird calls in one of her songs.

It was a brilliant night, only ruined by a couple of guys (from MFR radio) who spoke throughout the gig. But when they were quiet for a couple of minutes, there was some truly lovely music on display, and there is a real sense of pure talent coming from the Olive Grove Record label. Long live indie music.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Katie O' Donnell

We are going back to the grass roots of music now; this is Katie O'Donnell, a 17 year old singer songwriter from Fife. Katie is classically trained on piano, plays guitar and can also sing incredibly well! She writes her own songs as well as doing covers, and aspires to make a career out of her musical talent. Katie has her own  YouTube channel as well as a SoundCloud link where all of her songs are available to listen to. For now though, Katie will be finishing her final year at school soon before heading off to university. I can definitely see Katie becoming a well established act in Scotland if she continues down the music path as her crazy piano skills alone are something to admire. Check her out now before she's too famous to even think about speaking to you!!