Saturday, 24 August 2013

That's My Jam #23 - The Spook School - Will You Always Be My Friend

On Tuesday The Spook School announced details of their debut album.  It made me so happy I temporarily fell into a joy induced coma, meaning it's only now that I've been able to post about it.

The LP is going be entitled Dress Up and will be released via Fortuna Pop! on 7th October.  Preceeding that will be a double A side single of I'll Be Honest and this track Will You Always Be My Friend on 30th September.

The answer is, yes.  The Spook School and I will be best budz for life as long as they keep us in sweet indie pop numbers like this and a constant supply of sweaty hugs from Niall.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo - On The Desolate Hillside: Track by Track Review

Over the past two and a half years of this blog, I've never had a track by track review.  Instead you've had to listen to my ramblings on certain albums that I've reviewed over the years.  Instead this time round, I've asked songwriter D. King, lead chieftain of Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo to talk about their forthcoming album On The Desolate Hillside.  The album comes out via Wiseblood Industries on 29th August via digital download and hand crafted CD, and features the production of Robbie Lesiuk and Adam Stafford, as well as the vocals and lyrics of D. King. 

1. The Weather Report is Grim and Dark

An ensemble piece.  The men of the village have gathered together (after sacrificing the village goat) to sing at the top of their lungs, to drive away the summer sun.  Edwin Morgan commemorates the even in poem form.

2. The Solitary Rabbit

Through the method of hypnotic regression, Mr D. King recounts a previous life as an outcast rabbit on Bunny Island (just off junction 4 of the M9).  Alienation, impotence and a low sperm count are celebrated in this song.

3. Fashionable Buddhas

This being a paean to the middle classes and the religious deities they rush to worship.  The almighty godhead is not amused.  Prepare for a smiting.

4. Hell is Awaiting

For Eric Joyce and his unscrupulous ilk.  May the bankers, wankers and deviants that have dragged the country through the mud suffer an eternity of hot, burny fire and pokey, jaggy sticks.  Fuckers.

5. Great Trees, Social Bees (World Transforming)

Pollen distribution and trees.  Simple!

6. Anomie Encumbrance

A failure in domestic hygiene causes confusion, causing social collapse and depraved sexual deviancy.  If only I had cleaned out the cake bowl properly.

7. Mappin

A song about Margaret Thatcher's destruction of the welfare state, written in the influence of hardcore German pornography.

8. Break These Chains

Bound and weighed down are we by the chains of our history and deoxyribonucleic acid of our family tree.  Must we, like Prometheus of old, be tied to the rock of fate, our liver being plucked out by the eagles of neglect?

9. Solemn As A Song

It is unusual to find a room in an abandoned house with bolt on the outside.  What unfathomable cruelty went on behind that door?  What sound echoes around those walls?  Someone should write a solemn song about it.

10. On The Desolate Hillside

Abandoned by the local goat murderers, the ghost of Edwin Morgan discovers the flyblown and bleached remains on a desolate hillside above the town.  It is his first love, it is his lost love.  He's getting a bit sloppy in the disposal of his victims.  Must try harder!

There is a launch for the album on Saturday 24th August downstairs in the 13th Note Cafe.  Find out more details on the Facebook event page here.

That's My Jam #22 - Mast - Romance

Scenes and musical movements come and go.  Beneath the popular media coverage, which can come and go, it's the musicians on the ground level who really show you the strength of what is happening.  And when one takes at a look at the output of electronica, electro-pop and math-rock music coming out of Scotland right now, it's impossible to reach any other conclusion than that there is a real buzz about things right now.

It's early doors of course, but the next name to watch out for in amidst the likes of Giant Fang, Prides, CHRVCHES, Machines In Heavn, Atom Tree and Miaoux Miaoux is ex-Darien Adventurer Liam Rutherford.  Making music under the moniker of Mast, his debut offering 'Romance' is how the French would say, incoyable.

Layered slices of shimmering synths, calculated drums and vocal melodies, with a chorus that draws you back into the heatwave summer that's now past.  There's a lot of similarities here to Giant Fang and Prides, the latter down to the production of Prides drummer Lewis on this track.

Get it in your ears over and over again.  Let's have more of this please, and at least musically the summer doesn't have to end.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Doune The Rabbit Hole 2013 - Preview

This time next week Doune The Rabbit Hole will be well under way, catering to the boutique festival market with it's own brand of DIY, carefree, and creative vibes.

The festival moves this year to the Cardross Estate near Port Of Monteith in Stirlingshire, and features a pretty impressive line up.  Weekend camping tickets are available on the gate, costing £95, or available in advance here costing £88 and saving you a couple of quid.  Day tickets will set you back £30 and kids under 12 go free!

For the past two years Scottish Fiction have been along (you can check last years review here, here and here) and we will also be along this year too.  You can check out the full line up and stage splits on the Doune The Rabbit Hole website, although be wary of last minute changes in acts appearing or stage times etc.  I'd recommend keeping an eye on stage times when you get there.

So over the days of the festival here's the Scottish Fiction picks:


Let's look at the head liners first because there's a plethora of talent on offer for you to decide who will close your Friday night.  There's going to be a tough call between PAWS and Rick Redbeard.  On the one hand you have the fast paced, emotion laden, grunge tinged alt-rock of PAWS who take to the Baino stage, and in the other hand you have the equally emotive, stunningly raw fol-rock sounds of Rick Redbeard on the Fruit Stand.  Redbeard played the festival last year with his cronies The Phantom Band who were excellent, while PAWS in their live incarnation are unstoppable.  I can't pick between them, so you'll have to. 

Elsewhere on Friday you'll find Garden Of Elks opening up proceedings on the Jabberwocky stage for fans alt-rock, in particularly the Pixies.  When Julian Corrie a.k.a. Miaoux Miaoux plays live special things happen.  The music contained on his SAY Award long-listed album, 'Light Of The North' invokes emphatic feelings of joy, and when watching his Duracell bunny style performance one can't help but be impressed.  Go see his set in the Baino stage or miss out.  

We Are The Physics are playing early on on the Jabberwocky stage, and their tracks 'Napoleon Loves Josephine' and 'Goran Ivanisevic' will excite and fire up the audience.  Never ones to take themselves seriously, except in matters of making fantastic music, the band are worth checking out.  Also I cannot recommend Hector Bizerk highly enough.  They have been one of my favourite bands of the festival season, frontman Louie rightly grows in stature and confidence with each performance, delivering fantastically witty and insightful lyrics, and drummer Audrey is one of Scotland's finest, throwing out tightly worked beats like they are going out of fashion.  Lastly for some singer songwriter action of the highest variety check out Esperi on the Inspire stage.


On Saturday the festival is blessed by the presence of the Neu Reekie Takeover, the avant-garde spoken word, film and music collective.  They bring with them a whole heap of acts including Edinburgh's krautrockers Birdhead,  and fellow capital dwellers The Machine Room, girl pop-group TeenCanteen who will appeal to fans of The Beach Boys and The Ronettes alike, and lastly head-liners Nevada Base who on recent single 'Foresight' displayed that LCD Soundsystem have not died and are well and alive in our fair shores.

Displaying the same good judgement as ourselves the festival have paired Shambles Miller and Beerjacket, both singer songwriters of prominence who played the Scottish Fiction Presents: Aye Tunes vs, Peenko gig back in February, together on the Fruit Stand stage.  Shambles plays guitar and sings witty socially conscious songs, while Beerjacket also plays guitars and espouses beautiful songs of love, life and death.

Over in the Baino stage electro alt-rockers Machines In Heaven march on in their conquering of Scottish festivals.  When the band get into full swing live they combine guitars, synths and bass to bombastic effect.  Fans of post rock and electronica can combine both loves here.  

Turning attention to the Jabberwocky stage, Panda Su is definitely one to catch playing in the late afternoon her sultry voice dripped over sumptuous electronica.  And The Pastels' feel good breezy vibes will match the ethos and feel of the festival.  Expect tracks from their album 'Slow Summits', released earlier this year after a 16 year wait. 


There's an Olive Grove Records double header up for grabs in the afternoon on the Jabberwocky stage.  With a unthinkable array of musical instruments, songstress Jo Mango excels in delighting audiences.  Each times I've enjoyed her set, it's been in an small and intimate setting, so I'm excited to see how her on stage chat, always a lovely factor in her sets, and her delightful songs translate to a bigger stage.   Following her are Olive Grove friends Randolph's Leap, their cheerful brand of indie-pop the tonic for propelling you forward into the final day of the festival.

I leave you on this preview finally with two very talented female singer songwriters.  Firstly playing on the Fruit Stand stage is Siobhan Wilson.  Five years living in France plus bags of natural talent combine in Siobhan's delicate vocals and spell binding melodies.  Miss her at your peril.  And lastly closing proceedings on the same stage is Rachel Sermanni, creator of the album 'Under Mountains' which still enthralls me.  Folk music with a modern face, make sure you catch her set for the perfect end to your weekend.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

That's My Jam #21 - Prides feat. Louie (Hector Bizerk) - Run & Jump

Two of the highlights of the summer festival season for me have been Prides and Hector Bizerk.  Both bands played outstanding sets at T in the Park and Wickerman, each outing being lapped up with rapturous vigour from the masses.  So it's great to see both bands hook up their respective talents and energies with this great new track.

First aired at Prides (and friends) King Tut's Summer Nights gig, where Louie from Hector Bizerk was a 'friend', this track has been in the Prides live set since their metamorphosis from Midnight Lion.  'Run & Jump' has a much smoother electro beat than Prides showcased on their maiden foray 'Out Of The Blue'.  With a chorus packed with anthemic 'ooh ooh ooh's' it's impossible not to chant along.  The killer punch comes from Louie's slick rhymes, which intertwine into the fast paced beats with ease.

Check out the track below and grab yourself a free download here, courtesy of The Pop Cop.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 31st July 2013

Over the course of 2013 so far we've had some fantastically talented guests on the Scottish Fiction show.  To celebrate that before I swan off for a months holiday, this latest show includes some of the best session tracks from 2013 so far.  As well as a sneaky track which is one of my favourites of 2013 so far.  Listen in for this hour special, with live tracks from Lidh, Algernon Doll, Siobhan Wilson and more.

Rick Redbeard - Any Way I Can (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
Lenzie Moss - I Don't Believe In Anything (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
Lovers Turn To Monsters - Skeletor
Algernon Doll - I'm So Tired (Fugazi Cover) (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
King Post Kitsch - Fante's Last Stand (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
Wounded Knee - The Muckle Sang (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
Lidh - Peace Now (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
Panda Su - Alphabet Song (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
Reverieme - Build A Home (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)
Friends In America - Gaffe
Siobhan Wilson - All Dressed Up (Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio)

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 31st July 2013 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Friday, 2 August 2013

Wickerman Review - Saturday

Day two of Scotland 'alternative festival', and the Scottish Fiction team are awake, if not fully compos mentis, fed and water, and ready for a full on day of great music, centred once more around the Solus Tent and the goNORTH Festival Tour Tent.

A change in the advertised stage times (or perhaps a misprint in the lanyards) meant that my early afternoon trip down to the Solus Tent to see Giant Fang, instead meant I was able to catch some of the The Recovery instead.  Brash, loud and angry metal coated rock was the order of the day, sharply dispelling any remnants of sleep that were lingering.  Lead singer Andy prowled the tent, spitting vocals with fury and passion, and giving one of the most confident and self assured displays of any front men all weekend.  Not content with the sizable crowed that had gathered, he proceeded outside the tent shepherding in punters from the blaring sun to the sweaty tent for their daily dose of hardcore.

Staying in the crushing heat of the Solus Tent, four piece instrumental post-rockers Vasa provided another masterclass in layered experimental rock music.  Giving tracks from their début EP 'Never Have Dreams' an outing, their carefully designed sound thrusts the listener along an interstellar path, each boom of Alex Gordon's bass drum propelling us further into the unknown.  But it's a journey the crowd make with aplomb.  Vasa are a post-rock band with pop sensibilities, their musical ears able to tag onto a catchy hook and build around that.  From the already mentioned EP, 'Cynthia' is a real stand-out with it's rhythmic melodies and enthusiastic execution, guitarist Scott Coupar throwing himself around the stage and in the photo pit. 

The goNORTH Festival Tour Tent allowed me the opportunity to right a wrong that has lingered for some time.  Despite actually having put the band on a gig bill back last October, I've never actually seen Book Group play live.  Their charming brand of indie-folk has already drawn comparison with the heart-on-sleeve style of Frightened Rabbit, and it's not hard to see why.  The crowd lap up each track, including a group of toddlers that probably bring the average age of the whole tent down by a good decade, and one break dancing maestro who answered the call to dance very well.  Ending with their strongest track to date, 'Year Of The Cat', lead singer Graeme Anderson climbs the front barrier while bellowing out through a megaphone the final refrain of "don't you ever change".  The only change one suspects for Book Group, will be more a higher billing and bigger audiences.

Douglas Frew makes melodic and catchy electronica music under the name Giant Fang.  For this Wickerman set in the Solus Tent, only his second live show, he has bolstered his set up to include a full backing band, provided by members of Prides and Take A Worm For A Walk Week.  Recent single 'Aqualung' was made for moments like this, the track soaring with all the airs of a festival anthem, Frew and the band bringing out the big notes at all the right times.  It's great to be able to hear a full set of Giant Fang material, and there's a couple of tracks that pique my interest including a very minimalist '80's sounding song and one that chimes familiarly with The Killer 'When You Were Young'.  'Kingdom' is another one of those magic moments, Frew majestic vocals gliding over the glittery electronic melodies, and bringing the summer sun inside this small tent.

Similar to my predicament with review Hector Bizerk for Friday's review, Fake Major are a band I've seen live a good few times over the past months.  What is also similar is how my awe never fades and my enjoyment increases each time they perform.  It should never be understated just how in sync Richard Ferguson and David 'Jarv' McGinty are.  The vocals gleefully intertwine, each man knowing exactly how to complement the other.  With a set packed with their usual crowd pleasers such as 'Little Researcher', 'Love in the Mundane' and closer 'Fiction' it's another festival under their belt, and another fantastic performance for the band.

Garden Of Elks transport the crowd back to the early '90's.  Not via a DeLoran or Tardis, but through the power of their grungy alt-rock rhythms they prove the power of the Seattle underground scene still holds sway.  Lead singer Niall yelps "fun, fun, fun, fun" in a fusion of the Pixies and The Beach Boys, whilst hunched behind the drum kit dodging the low hanging tent canvas, Kirsten lashes rhythmically with raw punk power.  'This Morning We Were Astronauts' with it's angular guitars and dark vocals proves a popular highlight.

When Vic Galloway says a band are his favourite rock band on the planet you take notice.  Fat Goth are that band.  Vic isn't the only to sit up and take notice, rawk journo types Kerrang are feeling the Fat Goth love, as are the many faces gathered.  With scrumptious basslines, growling guitar hooks, and killer drum beats, the band shred through tracks off their 'Stud' album, including 'Creepy Lounge', the intentful 'Debbie's Dirty Harry' and final song 'Surf's Down' which is greeted with an emphatic moshpit.

Glasgow five piece The Yawns are another Scottish Fiction gig alumni on show at Wickerman, proving that we share great taste.  The band are led by Sean Armstrong, who throughout the set ambles about on stage nonchalantly.  Luckily their appeal is not their stage presence or stage banter, but their sun kissed surf pop, which on a day like today is the perfect tonic.  'Summer's Wasted' kicks the set off, and that breezy alt-pop vibe continues throughout.

When I started this blog I said I wouldn't write negative reviews.  Afterall, what's the point of writing about something you didn't enjoy.  So on that note I can confirm that The Enemy and Amy McDonald played on the Summerisle Stage. 

One thing to be thankful for is that the repelling power of Amy McDonald on the main stage may have pushed people into the smaller tents for a musical discovery.  On the benefiting end of that effect are Prides, Glasgow's next big electro-pop band.  The band have rocketed their way through, pretty much on the strength of set closer 'Out Of The Blue', so far their only track to hit the internet, but they are far from a one tune band.  Neither are they comprised of one sound either.  While it's true there's a flavour of '80's synth-pop running through, the band know when to hit the dizzy heights and when to pull things back and display a knack for heart-on-sleeve writing.  I'm not yet familiar with track names yet, but 'Let It Go(?)' is sheer baby making music, such is the funky soulful vibe.  Despite trepidation about filling a 45 minute headline slot, Prides masterfully and energetically make that time fly by.  One of the highlights of the weekend, and having brought the Scottish Fiction / campsite neighbourhood watch along with me, we all leave the tent ready to silent disco the night away.