Tuesday, 28 August 2012

We're Only Here For The Banter - 7of7

7of7 are a 6 piece progressive and experimental rock band from Neilston/Barrhead.  We were lucky enough to have them live on the Scottish Fiction radio show last week.  The band have been busy over the summer after adding lead singer Sean O'Neil, releasing two tracks and gigging across the country.  Here's what they had to said when we spoke with them.

Hello, how are you?

Hey Neil, we're very well thanks!

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

We are a Progressive Rock band with a melodic rock feel.  Most of our songs contain the structure of progressive rock with our use of playing in different time signatures, tempo changes, wide use of harmonic progressions etc.

Our influences are Tool, Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, King Crimson.  These bands are progressive rock and have a big influence on our music but we also love melodic rock bands like Alter Bridge, City And Colour etc.  We also love composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Brahms, Saint Saens, Vaughan Williams, Janacek, lots of baroque/classical/romantic/20th century music as well as some pop influence too.

What's your songwriting process like?

All of our song writing comes from Gary, Craig and myself (Stephen).  Craig and I will bring into our practice sessions lots of musical ideas like some riffs each of us have come up with or even full songs we have composed individually in our own time and then Gary will write lyrics and even chip in with musical ideas too as well as ideas from McGuinny, Anton and Sean but main basis of song writing is Gary, Craig and myself.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

On the performance side, it's just trying to get into it and get the audience into the groove you're getting into.  We play with two guitars, a bass, drums, synth and four mics so it's quite crowded.  But you do your best to get right into and hopefully if you do that, the audience get into it with you.  We're also music geeks and we don't want to sacrifice the sound.  If you come to see us your always guaranteed to a full, loud and complete sound.

If it were all to end tomorrow, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

We are proud of most things that we do, but our biggest achievements are probably just getting to play certain venues.  We've been on Radio 1 a couple of times, which was huge for us, not as huge as Pulse Radio obviously!  The biggest buzz we get is when someone comes up to you who doesn't know you and says they really enjoyed it and then taking a keen interest in your music.  It's great to play with bands and that but I'd much rather the audience appreciated what we're trying to do, and if they take it on board then that's the main thing.

What have you got planned for the second half of 2012?

We've got Bloc booked for October, but nothing else at the moment.  It's kind of the last gig of this run of gigs we've been playing. We are planning to bring out an EP pretty shortly, with 'These Days Are Our Last', 'The Pirate' and another song called 'Lucifer's' which we are waiting to get back.  But while you're recording songs you're also writing them as well, so you kinda feel like you're just about to put out an EP but you already want to go back in and record the next EP!  We are really itching to do that 'cause we've got all these new songs, which we want to play and as with all new songs kinda become you're favourite song!  Pretty soon we are hopefully going to get in a studio and record the rest of the stuff.

At Scottish Fiction we focus on new Scottish music, how do you as a band view the Scottish music 'community'?

I think it's really exciting just now, there's always a big undercurrent, especially unsigned, of Scottish bands going about.  Where ever you are in the country, there's always a good scene going on, which is good and it's good for us.  Our music is slightly different to what's going on just now, and not being pinned down by a scene is always a challenge. 

What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

We played with Flood Of Red in The Jam Jar in Dunfermline recently who were excellent.  Carnivores seem to be everywhere at the moment, and they are electric live, what a show they put on.  Marvel Heights as well, who sing with a female vocalist, which brings such a different sound to the music.  And Michael Cassidy as well is a great artist.

Check out more from 7of7

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Friday, 24 August 2012

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 22nd August 2012

This week's show features new music from The Pictish Trail, Stanley Odd, The New Fabian Society, The Unwinding Hours and more!

We have a track from our Classic Scottish Album, which this week is 'City To City' by Gerry Rafferty.  There's an Aye Tunes Friday Freebie track, plus chat about Doune The Rabbit Hole.  And our Featured Artist is We Were Promised Jetpacks.  Enjoy!

The New Fabian Society - Hate Fills The Day
The Unwinding Hours - The Right To Know
Male Pattern Band - Sunday Driver
Pinact - Limbs
Slow Building Seas - We're Alright

Classic Scottish Album - Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street - City To City

Sean Armstrong - Small Is Just A Word
Stanley Odd - Killergram
The Mouse That Ate The Cat feat. Kerr Okan - Going Away
Cancel The Astronauts - While I Was Sleeping
The Maginot Band - Slow Down Sundial

Aye Tunes Friday Freebie - The Cherry Wave - Indian Summer

Featured Artist
We Were Promised Jetpacks - It's Thunder And It's Lightning
We Were Promised Jetpacks - Quiet Little Voices
We Were Promised Jetpacks - Medicine

Take A Worm For A Walk Week - Whip It
Siobhan Wilson - Laugh And Die
Vcheka - Saint Kilda
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Box It Up
Withered Hand - Heart Heart
Miaoux Miaoux - Virtua Fighter
The Pictish Trail - Michael Rocket

Thursday, 23 August 2012

We're Only Here For The Banter - Vcheka

Cutting about specialists Vcheka join us this week for some banter.  The four piece band from Glasgow have been featured before in places such as The Skinny, The Fly, and now can add Scottish Fiction to that illustrious list!  Seriously though, these guys made some loud, yet well constructed angular math rock music, and have just released their debut album 'Vcheka' through London based Gamma Proforma.  Check it out!

Hello, how are you?


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

We've been described before as jaggy, jazzy, mathy post rock.  I think it's just weird pop right enough. Everyone's into different stuff ranging from the Jesus And Mary Chain to Gil Scott Heron to Boards Of Canada to Broadcast.

What's your song writing process like?

Very long.  Usually someone will bring a riff or a beat to the table and we'll hammer it till it becomes some kind of tune.  A track like '1977' was battered out and recorded in SWG3 in about an hour while stuff like 'St. Kilda' took a bit of work.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Stupidly loud guitars and organ, drumming that'll burst you nut, a vocal now and again and some pretty snide bass playing.  No chat about our Facebook page and no foot on the monitors posing carry on.  We've not played in ages cos we've been on hiatus for a while cos nobody in the band actually gets on with each other though.  We've had a few good offers though so something might happen gig wise soon hopefully.

If it were all to end tomorrow, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

Putting our album out and playing at RockNess.  The whole point of this band was to put an put an album out so I'm quite pleased the guys at Gamma Proforma sorted us out and we've had a positive reaction to it so far which is nice.

What have you got planned for the second half of 2012?

Nothing!  Most of us are concentrating on other bands at the moment but we'll see what happens.

At Scottish Fiction we focus on new Scottish music, how do you as a band view the Scottish music 'community'?

I reckon Glasgow has a good 'scene', there's a good handful of quality bands and club nights going on.  There's a lot of pish as well though.  Too many goons concerned with there haircut rather than there tunes and thanks to Frightened Rabbit there's a silly amount of horrendous singer songwriter types cutting about right now.  Guys like Chris Cusack putting on quality bands from all over the world for free in Bloc is something we need more of.

What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Citizens, The Cherry Wave, Birdhead, Fatalists, The Ham, Hey Enemy, Otherpeople, What Blood Revealed, Super Adventure Club, Crusades, Muscles of Joy, Fat Janitor, Clocked Out, No Island, Vukovi, Blue Sky Archives.  You can hear pretty much all the above on Bandcamp for free.

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

Ooft.  What do you call a boxer that farts all the time?  Gasseous Clay.

Check out more from Vcheka


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Album Review - Cancel The Astronauts - Animal Love Match

Pop music is the oft chastised genre of music.  Thanks to the mutilations of the genre by those looking for a quick buck by spewing out rancid same-y flaccid tracks where boy meets girl and everyone dances a merry choreographed jig around a beat that's been around the block more times than J-Lo.  Yet in amongst the desire to embrace new genres dreamt up by the NME, and to appear hip by listing 'expiremental new wave trans-step-drone' as my favourite music, I love a good old fashioned pop song.  When done well, pop music is worth it's weight in gold.

And that's exactly what Cancel The Astronauts do.  They've been building up to this, their debut album since the release of their first two EP's, 2009 & 2010, and sneaking out two singles, 'Seven Vices' in September 2011 followed by 'Intervention' in March of this year.  Both tracks appear on their debut album 'Animal Love Match' which will be released on 17th September, a date which incidentally is full of great releases with Rachel Sermanni and The State Broadcasters also dropping new albums.

The album opens with the title track, which builds melodically in a rather climatic We Were Promised Jetpacks kind of way, before letting rip with a volley of guitars and drums.  As far as album openers go, it's catchy, dance-move inducing and a real signal of intent from the Edinburgh five piece that they are out for a good time.  'Seven Vices', as mentioned above, was released as a single late last year.  At the time it represented the band's finest work to date, and it's placing on the album is a smart move.  It's simple, yet infectious, guitar riff and drum beat work their way into the part of your brain that causes subconscious nodding of heads and tapping of feet.

'Intervention' then slides in with synths out in full force, displaying a more electric feel to Cancel The Astronauts.  Again, this track is another single, so fans of the band will probably be familiar with it.  It's as commercial as the album gets, and is a more packaged affair that 'Seven Vices'.  I'll be honest and say the refrain of "over in a heartbeat" isn't my cup of tea, but there's an undoubted infectiousness about the song which is why lots of people will love it.

Whilst I've used the term pop to describe Cancel The Astronauts, 'Intervention' is as close to chart pop as we get.  What may be a more apt term, is indie-pop, as Cancel The Astronauts possess that gift which all good indie-pop bands have; the ability to write clever lyrics about love.  'Love Backwards' is a more refrained affair than the first three tracks, with it's gentle guitar melody and vocals driving the intro.  The rest of the band strikes up joining in to give a fuller sound, yet the finer moments of this track are the softer ones, reminding us in a melancholy way that "love is four letters".

To preview the album, the band are giving away next track 'Making Dynamite' as a free download, which you can grab here.  The track is a more suspicious sounding affair, adopting a drum led percussion intro which is deep, dark and dastardly.  About 30 seconds in, it lightens up and there's more than a hint of fellow indie-popsters French Wives.  If 'Intervention' is CTA at their most pop, then next track 'Lekking' is them at their most alternative.  A drone-y affair, led with a single note played out on the synth, it adds punchy drums to the mix, and layered over the top are vocals that reflect the drone-y nature of the music.  The track also contains the albums first real instrumental, showcasing the fine guitar work which underpins much of the appeal of this album.

'Shapes', the album's mid-point, is an acoustic track with a rich synth backing.  Almost as if recognising this as an intermission between the two halves of the album, the band refrain from the expected punch into gear at the middle section, instead keeping true with the softer, more emotional tact.  A nice touch I feel, and one which showcases that CTA are no one trick ponies.

It's now the turn of the bass to take charge as 'Promise Of Strangers' comes in.  The resulting effect is a darker and deeper sound, which is quite unexpected and a much different journey than one might suspect the album would have taken given the feel from the first three tracks.  'I See, Uh-huh' opens with a fantastic guitar salvo, which retreats when the punchy vocals of "uh-huhs" come in, and dials back up again in between.  'While I Was Sleeping' reminds me of Blondie's 'Rapture' with it's intro, but rather than descending into a 70's style NY punk song, it pans out to be one of the strongest songs on the album.  To keep the NY references going, there's a Strokes song in there chomping to get out.  Anthemic, pounding, and exhilarating.

With the album drawing to a close, penultimate track 'Catch You If I Can' returns to the building intro with which we began the album.  The synth increases in volume, whilst a bassline repeats over it, a thumping drum beat and a piano completes this set up, creating a powerful piece of music.  If 'While I Was Sleeping' is one of the strongest tracks on the album, then 'Catch You If I Can' would be it's rival for that title.  The synth, drums and guitars are cut, leaving the piano like a spot light on the vocals.  The minute outro is as good a piece of electronic-indie I've heard this year.

With a name like a cheesy tourist t-shirt, final track 'I Sold My Soul (And This Is All I Got)' see the album out in fine style.  It's back to the catchy indie-pop love song that CTA are most well known for, the bass, drums and guitar all combining to create a really infectious melody, and a return to the dance floor to see us out.

If good pop music were worth it's wait in gold, then CTA are sitting on a good few carats with this album.  It's infectious and melodic enough to bring the listener with them, and quirky and original enough to keep their interest.  Well written love songs that actually convey real emotions, landscape sounds at times rivalling those of more establish indie acts, and full of awkward dance moves as those oh-so-cool indie kids try not to dance.  With this album, CTA might just win themselves a whole new raft of admirers.

Cancel The Astronauts - 'Animal Love Match' is out on 17th September.  You can pre-order a copy, as well as listen to the full album, right now on their Bandcamp.

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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 15th August 2012

Last Wednesday's show was a good 'un, filled to the brim with new tracks from the likes of The Unwinding Hours, Crusades, Meursault, Cancel The Astronauts and more!  Our featured artist this week was Isobel Campbell and we had three tracks from her in her various musical guises.  And our Classic Scottish Album was KLF's 1991 album 'White Room'.  Listen back for all this, some Twitter banter, and more!

Crusades - Harelquin
The Unwinding Hours - I've Loved You For So Long
headachehat - Grino
Kill The Waves - Shadow
People, Places, Maps - 3

Classic Scottish Album - KLF - 3AM Eternal - White Room

Meursault - Lament For A Teenage Millionaire
The Second Hand Marching Band - A Dance To Half Death
PAWS - Miss American Bookworm
We Are The Physics - Goran Ivanisevic
Michael Cassidy - 15 Years
James Yorkston - Border Song
Quickbeam - Seven Hundred Birds
Rollor - Island / Jekyll
Cancel The Astronauts - Making Dynamite
Dave Hughes And The Renegade Folk Punk Band - As You Are
7of7 - These Days Are Our Last
Middleton Hall - First Bus Out Of Town
The Tide Inside - On My Way Back Down From The Edge

Featured Artist - Isobel Campbell
Belle & Sebastian - Is It Wicked Not To Care?
Isobel Campbell - The Breeze Whispered Your Name
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Honey Child What Can I Do?

The State Broadcasters - Where I Belong
The Spook School - Here We Go

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Battle Of The Bands - Round 4

If you follow either Kowalskiy or I on Twitter then this evening you may have seen your feed filled with school ground posturing and some numbers being flung around like a rag doll.  This can only mean it's Battle Of The Bands Round 4!

As always, a quick recap of round 3, in which Randolph's Leap aided me in a whitewash drubbing of David from Kowalskiy, who had on his side DOLFiNZ.  This levelled the scores off at a nail bitingly close 2-2 heading into round 4.  For a whole synopsis direct your eyes here.

As per our rules which have been carved into stone somewhere in a Glasgow cave, as I had first picks last time out, this week it's David's turns to take those all important first picks.  Here's how things transpired.

This week I've recruited Paisley crooner Michael Cassidy on board to help me try and secure a lead over David.  He is currently hitting all the right notes, with rave reviews of his first headline gig at King Tut's, an appearance at the Boardmasters festival over the weekend, and recently winning the Gerry Rafferty Songwriting Prize.  Kowalskiy's picks were, Twitter Follow Ratio, Band Name Scrabble Score and Years Since Formation.  As you can see from the above bandcard, I felt that gave us a fair shout at picking up some points.  Or so I thought...

Staying within his day time profession, David chose Glasgow four piece We Are The Physics to battle his corner.  (I don't know if the band are actually physicists.  In fact I suspect they are actually evil doctors).  Comparing the chosen statistics looks something like this:

Twitter Follow Ratio
Michael Cassidy - 1.15      vs.       We Are The Physics - 6.61
Band Name Scrabble Score
Michael Cassidy - 27       vs.       We Are The Physics - 31
Years Since Formation
Michael Cassidy - 5       vs.       We Are The Physics - 8

Which means, it's 0-3 to David for round 4, and 2-3 overall in the Battle Of The Bands.  Grrrr....

There's going to be an extended wait for round 5, due to other commitments for both David and I, however as the old saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Michael Cassidy's profile has never been higher.  He recently played a sell out headline show a King Tuts, and during the summer has played countless festivals.  His brand of songwriting has also seen him win the inagural Gerry Rafferty Songwriting Prize, a fitting tribute from one of Paisley's finest sons.  With his debut album edging closer and closer to a release date, his stock can only continue to rise.

We Are The Physics
are a 4 piece alternative group from Glasgow, who have had two crackin' singles out recently, the fabulously catchy 'Goran Ivanisevic' and 'Applied Robotics'.  Check them out!

Doune The Rabbit Hole - Preview

ot too long ago we welcomed Jamie Murray, festival director of Doune The Rabbit Hole on to the Scottish Fiction radio show to convince us all why we should head on down to the Carron Valley Forest for the festivals third year.  And he did a fairly sterling job of it, so much so we'd recommend having a listen back to the show right here.

I'll be lucky enough to be at the festival next weekend (DTRH runs from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th) with my wife and kids; editors note DTRH has got plenty for sproglets so if you're looking for a wee family weekend away this would be perfect and under 12's are FREE!  The line up is packed full of talent, as well as plenty of artists I'm sure I'll discover and come away loving.  Check out the full line up right here.  In the meantime here's the Scottish Fiction pick of the bunch:

Friday 24th August

As Mrs Scottish Fiction is working until 3pm on Friday it'll be a swift pick up and dash to beat the motorway traffic to get to the DTRH site.  Hopefully we make it there in time to catch Behold, The Old Bear, who are of course lead by Mitchell Museum drummer Raindeer MacFarlane.  We are just waiting patiently for them to release some more material, although maybe the return of MM has delayed this slightly.  Whatever the reason, be sure to catch them performing on the Jabberwocky stage.  On the Baino stage Pumajaw will be plying their brand of electronica with songs from 2011's 'Demon Meow Meow' album at the front.  It's the main Jabberwocky stage however where my main attentions shall be and yours should to.  First up is SAY Award winning duo Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat.  Having seen the bearded gents three times now, I can vouch for the incredible live performance they, and their band, put on.  I'm extremely looking forward to seeing if they can recreate that intimate and cosy feeling on an open stage at a festival.  Following on from Wells & Moffat are Glasgow's finest and eclectic 6 piece,The Phantom Band.  Again I've seen them live recently at the Stag & Dagger festival and you can expect them to pull out some stonking tunes such as 'Mr Natural' and 'Halfhound'.  Last up is JD Twitch, one half of the famous Optimo, who will be taking the party on through to the late night. 

Saturday 25th August

Kicking things off nice and early on the Baino stage are Battery Face who no doubt will melt some faces with tracks from their album 'Addams Family Values'.  Later on the same stage is Neu! Reekie! w/Teen Canteen.  I'm not quite sure what the set up here will be, but hopefully it involves Teen Canteen playing some the wonderful dream-pop that is up on their SoundCloud page.  Blank Canvas are playing the Fruit Stand stage later in the day and are well worth visiting for some alternative indie rock.  The main Jabberwocky stage gets interesting when Withered Hand takes to it, equipped with a full band.  Expect to hear recent track 'Heart Heart' performed in all it's glory, plus inspired indie gems from his brilliant 'Good News' LP.  Fence supremo Kenny 'King Creosote' Anderson follows on from Withered Hand, in a bill of folk singer/songwriter indulgence.  With a fantastic back catalogue to pick from, plus Mercury nominated 'Diamond Mine', you can be sure that King Creosote will be a chilled out way to spend your Saturday night.  Elsewhere on Saturday Holy Mountain will be shredding it up on the Baino stage, and over on the Inspire stage you can find Sparrow & The Workshop followed by We Came From Wolves.  If you fancy some DJ action then pop yer noggin' into Vibes:  Below The Well where the Pin-Up DJ's will be spinning tracks.

Sunday 26th August

How's the hangover doing?  Need some melodic female led indie-folk to settle that bouncing headache?  Lucky for you Olympic Swimmers will be on the Jabberwocky stage fresh from the well deserved success of their debut album 'No Flags Will Fly'.  After them are The Second Hand Marching Band who, depending on how many of them turn up, number 22 musicians, all helping to create brilliant and reconstructed folk music.  Over on the Tenement TV stage are Edinburgh band Kid Canaveral.  As well as playing tracks from their cracking album 'Shouting At Wildlife', we can always hope that Kenny sticks around for a guest appearance, given the two artist penchant for working together.  Back to the Jabberwocky stage and you'll find Three Blind Wolves, who if my short glimpse of seeing them at Oran Mor recently is anything to go by, will rock the stage.  Sunday night for me though is owned by the next two acts, both who play the Baino stage.  Firstly Malcolm Middleton brings his Human Don't Be Angry alter-ego and album to the party.  Expect '80's influenced melodies and electronic beats. Then later is Miaoux Miaoux, a.k.a. Glasgow based Londoner Julian Corrie.  This man's music enthrals and encapsulates me, with his pulsating beats, rhythmic hooks and dreamy vocals.  Make a point of catching him if you can.  Elsewhere Pronto Mama are playing the Tenement TV stage, which is worth checking out if they don't clash with Miaoux Miaoux.

For full information about the Doune The Rabbit Hole festival, head on over to their website.  The festival takes place at Duncarron Fort, Carron Valley Forest, Kilsyth from Friday 24th August to Sunday 25th August.  Tickets are still available, priced £98 for weekend camping.  See you there!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 8th August 2012

On this week's show we were joined in the studio by live guests 7of7.  As there were 6 of them, it got a bit crowded, but fun nonetheless!  The band played two live tracks, one of which was a special cover, and chose some tracks to play during the first hour of the show.  In between all that there was some chat about their music and more!  Sadly due to a recording mishap, the first 10 minutes of the show are missing.  Sorry 'bout that!  There's also bag loads of new Scottish music from the likes of Evil Hand, Father Sculptor and Be Like Pablo.  More good music than you can wildly shake a stick at!

7of7 - These Day Are Our Last (Live Acoustic)

City Of Colour - O' Sister - Chosen by 7of7

7of7 - Shooting Star (Live cover of Flip N Fill)

Dream Theater - Honor Thy Father - Chosen by 7of7

7of7 - These Days Are Our Last
Father Sculptor - Aristide
Discopolis - Live Like Sebastian
Evil Hand - Ten Years
Tango In The Attic - Mona Lisa Overdrive
Holy Esque - Tear
Algernon Doll - Son Of A Gun, Brother To None
Be Like Pablo - Oh, Emily!
Lightships - Fear And Doubt
Steve Heron - Eleanor
Forest Fires - Avalanche
CUR$ES - Urge

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

We're Only Here For The Banter - Algernon Doll

The forlorn figure in the above picture is Ewan Grant, who under the pseudonym Algernon Doll produces fantastic music.  Lo-fi, melodic and full of raw emotion he has recently released his album 'Camomile'.  Have a read below at what Ewan had to say when he popped in for the banter. 

Hello, how are you?

I'm good man, hope you're well!

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

I just want to portray an honest and very real portrait of who I am, from my, sometimes crippling, depression to the odd things that make me smile and hold that quirky beauty.  My attitude is strongly influenced by the values of the punk rock community who have always made me feel welcome and inspired me.  It's more trying to capture feelings and atmospheres than trying to emulate a band or artist that I admire.  You're always going to be second best at being someone else.

What's your song writing process like?

With this music I tend to just take it out of a time and place.  It sometimes feels like songs are there to be plucked out of the ether and it's all about experiencing life till one falls into your lap.  I can definitely say that, recently, it's been a lot more natural.  Maybe a bit too natural as I have like 240 voice memos on my phone and I'm not going to tell you that the majority of them are gold!

What could we expect to see from a live show?

I'm currently doing acoustic shows with some pedals and a cool copper mic that just seems to feedback.  It's a bit Elliott Smith-y, I'm told, and I think that's down to me trying to be as passionate as possible.  I find a lot of plain acoustic shows quite samey so I do what I can to engage the audience.  I'm also putting together a band to do the louder tracks right now.

If it were all to end tomorrow, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

I hope it won't!  I was really honoured to play Book Yer Ane Fest last year in Dundee.  It's a 3 day event with bands from all over the globe to raise funds for SafeTay, a charity close to my heart.  I'm also pretty proud of my album, "Camomile" which I've released online and almost ready to release on 12"!

What have you got planned for the second half of 2012?

I'm in the studio now with Tom Mitchell (Tom Mitchell Productions) working on an album I'm really excited about, so that should be nearing completion.  Also, gigging hard with Struggletown 15 at Bloc on the 9th of August, Franz Nicolay in Dundee on the 22nd and Esperi and Lovers Turn To Monsters on the 23rd at NiceNSleazys!

At Scottish Fiction we focus on new Scottish music, how do you as a band view the Scottish music 'community'?

It appears to be thriving!  The guys in the Make-That-A-Take collective and the Struggletown records guys have always been really good to me.

What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Hmmm, right now I'm listening to the new Citizens record, it's a belter!  Kaddish, I feel, are always under-appreciated.  I love Aidan Moffat but I'm sure the readers will be well schooled in his antics!

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

Cheers Neil!  Oh dear....

Right, there's three polar bears sitting on an iceberg. Wan says, "Ah've got a tale to tell!"  The wean to the left says, "Naw! Ah've got a tale to tell!"  And the smallest polar bear on the right says, "My tail's told!"

You really, need to be doing the accents that I'm doing in my head for that!  It doesn't quite translate to writing but it's my mum's favourite!

Check our more from Algernon Doll

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Monday, 6 August 2012

31 Songs - Song 8

I've been neglecting this particular blog feature of late due to much fervour with other features, including our recent EP Treasure Hunt, which is a shame because I quite enjoy rambling about particular songs even if no one does read said ramblings.  So without further ado, here's some jibber-jabber about some music.  Enjoy!

Song 8 - The Beatles - Octopus' Garden

I love musical journeys.  The joy that comes from listening to an old artist or a particular song, and following the influence through to the modern day era is untold and rivalled only by imparting little gems of musical knowledge onto others; "oh so you like The Horrors?  Well you should really listen to The Cure as well."  For me, every musical journey and all musical education should begin with The Beatles.

I used to be rather passionate about this, getting into arguments about why The Beatles were the greatest band ever, and such like.  Nowadays, the mellowing effects of time have played their cards and I am simply content knowing that whether a person likes/loves/hates (delete as appropriate) The Beatles, there is a 99% probability that whatever tunes they do stick in their ears will have been inspired in some way by Liverpool's finest.

I could have chosen almost any song from The Fab Four to feature in our 31 Songs.  From 'Strawberry Fields Forever' the song from which I have the words "living is easy with eyes closed" etched in ink on my arm, to Harrison's ballad to guitars 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', to the string led 'Eleanor Rigby', to 'Got To Get You Into My Life' a song which I danced to happily on my wedding day.  Yet I begun this post talking about journeys, and my Beatles journey began with 'Octopus' Garden'.

At least it's the clearest and earliest memory of The Beatles I have.  Later I would learn songs such as 'Yesterday', 'Let It Be', 'Norwegian Wood' and 'Help!' on the piano, but 'Octopus' Garden' stands out as the first song I remember listening to and knowing it was a band called The Beatles.

It was the fault of my childhood friend's dad really.  Aged 10 or 11 along with many of my friends I played for a local boys football team.  Sadly, much like now, I was not blessed with anything resembling talent on the football field.  Rather than standing out though, I was surrounded by a lack of talent.  In the two years we played together as a group, Neilston Boys Club won only one game and later had those three points struck off as the team we beat disbanded after the indignity of losing to us.  Despite this, I enjoyed the camaraderie of playing in a team, and the jovial post match banter we would have.  After most games I hitched a lift home with my friend Jeff, whose father, affectionately known as Big Jeff, was a coach with the team.  Big Jeff, who I now know to be somewhat of a Beatles fanatic, would drive along with the car radio on.  On the rare occasions that the boisterous banter of a car full of 11 years old kids lulled, his song choices would reach our ears.

The one which has always stuck with me was 'Octopus' Garden'.  Far from being The Beatles best song, hell it's not even Ringo's best song, it's a carefree and joyful little number.  Childlike almost and certainly guaranteed to put a smile on any listeners face.  To my mind it rouses an image of a friendly smiling purple octopus, dishing out ice creams to passers by.  Silly, yet fun.

Now I'm grown, the song still stays as a favourite.  There are so many Lennon-McCartney numbers with deep meanings and such like.  'Octopus' Garden' reminds us of the childlike side to The Beatles, and the fun nature of music.  There is also the eastern and psychedelia influences at play in the track, which was prominent in The Beatles music towards the late '60's.  The bubble effect sound was added in by blowing bubbles in water using a straw, further demonstrating The Beatles pioneering of sampling and production.  And further more it shows those who are not necessarily aware that The Beatles were more than just Lennon and McCartney.  And it serves as a brilliant entry point into a musical journey for my own young children. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Tapes, tapes, tapes

irst invented in it's big clunky form in 1935, the cassette tape was a staple format of recorded music from the 1970's until the mid 1990's.  Immortalised by John Cusack in High Fidelity with the painstaking art of making a mixtape, despite the infuriating possibility of having to unwind a chewed tape with a pencil, cassettes have a nostalgic charm about them.  However the onslaught of Compact Discs, the humble CD to you and me, meant the long loved cassette was reduced to charity shop trash.

However recently there's been a surge of independent artists and small record labels releasing material on cassette tape.  Folk such as Gerry Loves Records, CATH Records, Tie Dye Tapes have carved out a niche in the market with cassette releases, done in a small number so as to have the added bonus of becoming geeky collector items too.

What's behind the popularity of such releases?  Whilst they are never going to upset the status quo of mp3's and downloads, it seems that in some quarters at least, the cassette tape is a valuable commodity.  We spoke to two labels; CATH Records and Gerry Loves Records; and two artists; Lovers Turn To Monsters and Honeyblood to get their insight view on cassettes resurgence.

Lovers Turn To Monsters

Why do you think that cassette releases have seen a slight resurgence?

I think there's been a resurgence in all these awkward 'old school' formats for the same reasons.  It all comes down to pleasing the type of people who still actually buy music in a physical format, the classic 'read the liner notes' crowd.  I think these formats have just been reintroduced as a way of giving them something new, something different to catch their eyes.  So they aren't just constantly grabbing at a wee shiny disc.

Is releasing something via cassette more about standing out from the crowd, nostalgia or something else completely?

Well as I said earlier, half of it is indeed to please fans.  So I guess the 'standing out from the crowd' statement would make sense but not in a like grasp at being different manner.  Admittedly though, my tape was created in quite a selfish manner.  Like all my music ha!  I have just been obsessed with your Guided By Voices, Sebadoh's and Mountain Goats for some time and my tape deck was just staring at me from the corner of my loft.  So I just decided it was time to take my obsession to the next level.  Just to please myself basically.

As an artist is there any advantages of doing a limited run of cassette releases as opposed to say a run of vinyl or CD's? 

Don't tell anyone, but they're mind blowingly cheap!!  It also helps the fact most of my collections have twenty odd songs on them, which fit quite snuggly onto a cassette.  I don't see myself pressing a double vinyl anytime soon...  Genesis watch your back!

If you could resurrect any other lost format, what would it be and why? 

VHS most definitely.  I miss taping stuff of the TV.  At least 60% of my childhood was spent looking at TV mags and setting timers to tape stuff...  Sky Anytime and torrents just don't have that same charm.  Video shops as well!  Glory days.


Why do you think that cassette releases have seen a slight resurgence?

It's more fun.  Downloading music got boring.  Having something tangible got fun again. 

Is releasing something via cassette more about standing out from the crowd, nostalgia or something else completely?

It's nice to have someone make you a tape rather than a 'playlist' just dragged up on their iTunes.  It says 'Here, I sat and dubbed these songs on this tape and it took me ages and I had to listen to all of them through because I had to make sure to turn the tape over half way; because I like you'.  There is a lot more thought that goes into a tape than burning a CD.  I like to think that's what it's about, especially the CATH Records tapes. 

As an artist is there any advantages of doing a limited run of cassette releases as opposed to say a run of vinyl or CD's?

The only thing I'd say about that is when people who buy them really do want a tape, they enjoy the fact that they got to have one.  They're cute too!  Tapes are cuter than CDs.

If you could resurrect any other lost format, what would it be and why?

Crayola Wall Art.

Gerry Loves Records

Why do you think that cassette releases have seen a slight resurgence?  Is releasing something via cassette more about standing out from the crowd, nostalgia or something else completely?

I ask myself this a lot and I'm not sure there is an easy answer.  I think it's a combination of things, as tapes appeal to different people in different ways.

Part of it for me is the fact that tapes make you pay attention to the music.  In the same was as vinyl, you have to actively put on a tape, rewind it to the beginning, turn it over half way through, and you can't easily skip songs.  I have hundreds of CDs but I almost never play them because they get ripped to my computer and put on a shelf, music played on my iPod or from the computer through speakers.  My mp3 collection is great and really handy but I could hit play on iTunes and it will play non-stop for 90 days (so it tells me) without repeating a track, and I could just ignore it all.  It just becomes background a lot of the time.  Which is fine for a lot of people, but I want a more tactile, physical, immersive relationship with the music I like.

I grew up with tapes, making mixtapes for people, or for the car. I used to tape stuff of the radio, or mess about adding stupid intro bits from films I recorded from the TV onto a tape recorder.  I was in a band when I was 17/18 and we used to record stuff to tape all the time.  Our only studio recording was to tape.  So I think nostalgia has something to do with it too.   Certainly for people over 25. 

Tapes are a better medium than CD-Rs too.  A CD-R will get scratched really easily or corrode, and then it is unplayable.  Modern tapes rarely get chewed up, and the actual magnetic tape itself will outlast CD-Rs by many years.  So if you want to release something and don't have much money, tapes are a medium that will last longer, look better, be more fun and more satisfying to release.

I think it's definitely got a bit to do with our love of exclusive things and old things.   Somehow tapes seem more exclusive than CDs in some way.  Maybe it's because less people have tape decks these days.  I hate the word 'retro' but I think tapes definitely speak to our love of old things and our natural response to nostalgia. 

As a DIY label is there any advantages of doing a limited run of cassette releases as opposed to say a run of vinyl or CDs?

It's much cheaper to tapes than it is to do vinyl, which is partly why we have done it a couple of times for releases that we know won't sell enough to make vinyl viable.

If you could resurrect any other lost format, what would it be and why?

I'm not sure there are any other formats worth resurrecting are there?  I love old technology because it fascinates me and it's fun to play with and laugh about how people could ever use it, but that doesn't really mean it should be brought back.  I was lucky enough to be taken to a gramophone shop recently and given a demo of some equipment and told about some of the history from an expert.  It was amazing, but the players were the size of a washing machine and the records sounded horrible by today's standards.

CATH Records

Why do you think that cassette releases have seen a slight resurgence?

Don't know - a hazarded guess would be that the availability of music by small bands and new artists online has made almost all other formats redundant for that market.  But, people like to have something physical you can hold and buy at gigs, and tapes are an attractive product - they're cheap, hardy, small, can be made to look pretty professional relatively easily.

Is releasing something via cassette more about standing out from the crowd, nostalgia or something else completely?

Its a few things: it's sort of wilfully anachronistic - with any physical format being of questionable value these days, when people can just go home and stream music on their laptop, why release anything physical?  Of the redundant formats, cassettes are, as I said, the most attractive -  cheap, hardy, small, can be made to look pretty professional relatively easily.  

As a choice of format it's nostalgic in the sense that cassette was how we first interacted with music growing up - taping songs of the radio, making mix-tapes, Phil has always been releasing on cassette, and Sean's been recording on tape since he first started.  But that perhaps speaks more to the great versatility and accessibility of cassettes than any attempt to be nostalgic or 'retro' on our part.

As a DIY label is there any advantages of doing a limited run of cassette releases as opposed to say a run of vinyl or CD's?

Not really.  CD's would be a lot easier to be honest; dubbing tapes is a ridiculously repetitive and mind numbing activity.  But, with our limited skills, tapes are the only format from which we can produce to a reasonable quality run on our own - easy to produce nice looking packaging - CD's always look crappy with just a felt tip title scrawled across.
Most importantly from Cath's perspective however, is that we don't have particular hardons for cassette - we like it for all the reasons listed, and people seem to like buying tapes, bands seem to like releasing on tape.  But if a band wanted to release on another format we'd be excited to do that too.

If you could resurrect any other lost format, what would it be and why? 

Releasing a mystical prog Odyssey over 23 floppy discs would be pretty good.  3 inch vinyl would look pretty cute too.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 1st August 2012

This week's show featured a bevvy of new music including the likes for The State Broadcasters, the new single from Admiral Fallow, Discopolis and some unearthed gems from Tambay and Nassim Donald.  Our Featured Artist this week was Edwyn Collins, and we also had a track from our Classic Scottish Album 'Please Describe Yourself' by Dogs Die In Hot Cars.  Get stuck in!

Randolph's Leap - Wack
Discopolis - Trivial Pursuits
M A D I S O N - Armbands
The State Broadcasters - The Only One
Algernon Doll - Spiral Sounds
Vcheka - 1977
Calum Carlyle - Strange Skies

Classic Scottish Album - Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Godhopping - Please Describe Yourself

IndianRedLopez - Silence Vacuum (Bunker Version)
Tambay - Only You Know
Laurence And The Slab Boys - Mushroom
Bottle Of Steven - Darkest Fools
DOLFiNZ - Protein Shake Brain
Conquering Animal Sound - Giant
Admiral Fallow - Guest Of The Government
Nassim Donald - Coast

Featured Artist - Edwyn Collins
Orange Juice - Rip It Up
Edwyn Collins - A Girl Like You
Edwyn Collins - Losing Sleep

eagleowl - Into The Fold
Ded Rabbit - We Can Be Free
Esperi - Made For Life