Saturday, 30 November 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 27 November 2013

There have been so many bearded singer songwriters on the show this year, that it will become enshrined that all our live guests must have facial hair.  But when there's so many folk out there making great music, it's difficult to ignore.  The latest guest live on Scottish Fiction, was Owen McLaughlin, who goes by the name Gone Wishing.  He chatted about his music, influences, differences between band and solo work, and also picked the music for the first part of the show.  There's the chance to hear three live songs too, all from his forthcoming new EP 'The Fires Of Future Strangers'.  On the show as well, there's new music from Withered Hand, There Will Be Fireworks, Casual Sex, Turtle and much much more!

Withered Hand - Black Tambourine

The National - About Today - As chosen by Gone Wishing

Gone Wishing - Hands Weigh Heavy - Live in Pulse 98.4 studio

Gone Wishing - The Fires Of Future Strangers - Live in Pulse 98.4 studio

Ryan Adams - Do I Wait - As chosen by Gone Wishing

Gone Wishing - The Confidant - Live in Pulse 98.4 studio

The Van Pelt - The Young Alchemists - As chosen by Gone Wishing

Casual Sex - Nothing On Earth
Franz Ferdinand - Bullet
There Will Be Fireworks - Youngblood
Robbie Lesiuk - Fault Lines
DEATHCATS!!! - Surfing In My Head
Hagana - Fuzzy Punch
A Sudden Burst Of Colour - Let Go Or Be Dragged
Turtle - Who Knows
The Leg - Quantum Suicide
Randolph's Leap - Psychic
Daves Like These - Honey
King Post Kitsch - The Silver Screen

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Single Review - Honeyblood - Bud

Given the exposure and success they've experienced so far, having supported the likes of Palma Violets and Sleigh Bells, it's almost impossible to believe that Bud is the début single from this young Glasgow female guitar/drums duo who formed only last year. 

I say 'almost' because upon hearing the single, all becomes clear.  Coated in some light dreamy reverb, Bud captures the essence of everything great about the band, from Stina Tweeddale's sweet yet assertive vocals and soft yet striking fretwork.  Meanwhile drummer Shona McVicar creates a great contrast between verse and chorus, using her whole kit to keep the song interesting.  The end result is one great piece of dreamy pop and hopefully the first of many more to come...

- Nina Glencross

Honeyblood - Bud is out now on Fat Cat Records and available to buy on 7" single or download here.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

EP Review - Rachel Sermanni - The Boatshed Sessions

It’s really difficult not to fall in love with Rachel Sermanni.  The songstress from Strathspey is everything that is right with music.  It’s hard to fawn over an artist without being accused of being a ‘fangirl/boy’ but its also hard to care when the artist is making music like Rachel Sermanni.  The singer/songwriter has been releasing music since 2010 and in 2013; she has released her best music yet with EP The Boatshed Sessions.

For 11 minutes, the listener is transported into what seems like a forgotten, grungy Disney soundtrack, and that is meant in the best possible way.  The EP is simple, mostly driven by Sermanni and her guitar but there is the addition of a few other instruments that make this EP stand out from the crowd.  The record begins with Black Hole, a beautiful song brought to life by Sermanni’s trademark gravelly voice, striking strums on her strings and brass section that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Aristocat’s soundtrack.

Other tracks Two Birds and Maybe Not continue this sound but it is Dear Granvil that is the real stand out.  The song is almost an open letter to something that is missing in your life, be that a person or an object, and for anyone who has lost someone or something that means a lot it is hard not to relate to the feeling of loss and despair conveyed in the track.

The EP was recorded this summer in the Highlands and from listening, it easy to imagine that it would be best enjoyed in a log cabin, by the fire with a glass of the finest malt.  This is a beautiful record from Sermanni and it’s leaves a massive impression, even after the first listen.

- Stuart Thompson

Rachel Sermanni - The Boatshed Sessions is out now via Middle Of Nowhere Recordings and available to download via iTunes

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Album Review - Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire - Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire

Roddy Hart is a name known to many of those who keep a close eye on Scottish music.  Hart has been ever present in the scene since his 2004 demo Home Tapes and now has his own slot on BBC Radio Scotland.  However, Hart is treading new territory with this new release.  Firstly, this is the first record, Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, he has released since signing with Middle of Nowhere Recordings and secondly, this is his first release alongside long time session band ‘The Lonesome Fire’.  With these two unfamiliarity’s hanging over him, it’s almost surprising that Roddy Hart has still managed to deliver to his usual high standards.

It says a lot for Hart that he is able to perform just as well with a full band as he does as a solo act.  Melodies, harmonies and pounding, anthemic pop make the album a contender for the best of the year in Scotland, and it manages to hold up after numerous listens.  Lead single Cold City Avalanche is a masterpiece, channelling influences from across the pond such as Bruce Springsteen and The National.  No matter where you are, or what you are doing this album forces you to sit up and listen, with Bright Light Fever being a fantastic example of that.  With its upbeat tempo and catchy hook its impossible not to tap away while you listen.

Hart showcases his song writing talents in this album, with intimate songs like The Big Jump alongside stadium rock like Queenstown.  Hart proves in this album that pouring his heart and soul into every track means that his appeal can draw even the most far afield music fans into listening.

Roddy Hart may be well known, however he is capricious in that he can provide well-crafted music no matter his situation.  Many albums have been released this year by many of Hart's peers, however music fans would be doing themselves a favour by picking this record up.  After every listen, fans will have a new favourite track and there is something for the new listener to dig their teeth into.  This is definitely a real triumph from Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire.

- Stuart Thompson

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire - Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire is out now on Middle of Nowhere Recordings.  You'll find it in all good record shop and online here.

We're Only Here For The Banter - Gone Wishing

The fact that year after year, there continue to be acoustic and lo-fi singer-songwriters writing 'sad' songs that grab my attention must say something about my psyche.  Perhaps it's the perennial stereotype of a Scotsman unable to deal with talking about feelings, or perhaps it's because it's one of genres that are difficult to really nail, therefore when someone does you appreciate it all the more.  Either way, Dundee artist Owen McLaughlin is a talent and busy man.  When not promoting gigs, or playing in bands Bonehouse or The Won Over, he pens lo-fi tunes under the name Gone Wishing.  I caught up with him recently for a chat.

Hello, how are you?

I'm good thanks though a little soggy having just come in from the rain.

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

I write acoustic songs that are usually summed up by words like introspective and sad.  I have a fairly varied taste in music so influences are from all sorts of stuff.  Generally speaking Gone Wishing is probably most influenced by Ryan Adams, Owen, Del Amitri, Sun Kill Moon and Bon Iver.

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

When I write songs it tends to be me just sitting alone playing about with my guitar.  I do this a lot and at some point the random riff here or there becomes a song.  I usually then take forever to write some lyrics to accompany it.  I do tend to write vocal melodies before words a lot of the times so depending on which point in the process I'm at I can be heard from outside of my flat howling utter nonsense.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

I'm still finding my feet with Gone Wishing live and I tend to get a little nervous when I'm playing.  Visually you should expect a near 30 year old, bearded, ginger man sat huddled over his guitar in abject terror.  As far as my stage banter goes it's a mix of incoherent ramblings and the over-use of the word sad.  I do love the feeling of playing live when it's going well and I definitely think the crowd have enjoyed the more intimate vibe that the above creates when mixed with my tunes.

Where does the name Gone Wishing come from? Is it important to have a pseudonym as a solo artist?

I named myself Gone Wishing because I was looking for something that started with the letters GW as that's my nickname to a fair few people.  GW is rather tongue in cheek name I gave myself when promoting shows back in the day (The "G" standing for Ginger and the "W" standing for something that rhymes with banker).  I picked Gone Wishing as it captures the sentiment behind a lot of my lyrics and I'm a reasonably big fan of puns.  As far as a pseudonym goes I genuinely only went down that road as my name is Owen and given one of the original influences in my acoustic playing was Owen I thought it best to avoid the obvious confusion.  That said I like the idea of having names for projects and keeping yourself free to change it up should you want to.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?

I think releasing my tape (The Gone Wishing Tape) and have people not only buy it but be vocal about enjoying it.  I didn't ever start writing acoustic tunes with a grand plan or even necessarily letting other folk hear them so it's nice to know that others connect with it.

What have you got planned next?

I'm in the middle of recording my new record. The Fires of Future Strangers EP with the excellent Chris Marr of Esperi/Fall On studios.  The plan is to release it early next year (not sure through what label yet though) and then I think I'll probably be looking at an album of some sorts next year.   Short term I have a few shows lined up over the next couple of weeks including Book Yer Ane Fest next weekend, Victor Villareal and TTNG at Audio in Glasgow on the 5th December and then the following week I'll be playing with Owen, The Great Albatross and Lovers Turn to Monsters at Audio on the 11th December.

What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

I think in Scotland there's a few great acts that aren't really well known that definitely should be (especially singer/songwriter wise).  Acts like Esperi, Little Anchors, Smithsonian, Ashley Park, Blood Indians and Lovers Turn to Monsters are all fantastic.  I recognise all of the above are from the East coast.  There's loads through on the West too but they tend to be mentioned more often so I'm sticking with it.

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

This comes from Ali Smith of the Shithawks but here goes:

"I used to know the difference between a xylophone and a glockenspiel but I can't marimba"

Check out more from Gone Wishing

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EP Review - Casual Sex - The Bastard Beat EP

Funk’s not dead.  It has been resurrected by this Glasgow four piece with a fondness for throbbing bass riffs.  Cheekily dubbed under the genre of ‘sleaze’ on their Facebook page, what you hear is what you expect from a band with a name like Casual Sex.

The Bastard Beat is the follow up to the rather spectacular Stroh 80 single released earlier this year.  However, the glorious greasiness of Stroh 80 has slid off this EP and has been replaced by manic lust.

Opener Nothing on Earth has jaunty Orange Juice-esque guitars and women chanting in unison proclaiming that ‘Daddy’s on time’.  The Bastard Beat consists of uncomfortably catchy bass and vocals that sound like the beautiful love child of Alex Kapranos and smut.

The Sound of Casual Sex is a misnomer (ooh er missus!).  Excitable guitar is coupled with a filthily addictive bass.

What’s Your Daughter For?
is the definite highlight of the bunch.  It the has modest lyrics of, "the only reason we had it hot / she thought I was something I was not" and a pinch of raunchy dust thrown in for good measure.

Ooh, Casual Sex, you are awful!  But I like you.

- Holly Callender

Casual Sex - The Bastard Beat EP is out now via We Can Still Picnic Records.  Available as a 12" vinyl or download.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Julia Doogan - Scottish Fiction Session - Videos

Our Scottish Fiction Session guest on 2nd October 2013, was the talented songstress Julia Doogan.  Appearing in the Pulse 98.4 studios sans her backing band The Doogans, Julia very kindly previewed some brand new material, which fans of the band can look forward to hearing at some point during 2014.  Wearing her influences proudly on her sleeve, there's also room for a mellow Kylie Minogue cover too.  You can hear the full session and interview here should you wish.  Enjoy!

Julia and the Doogans also play our next Scottish Fiction Presents gig on 5th December at Mono, with Beerjacket and Michael Cassidy.  Tickets still available here.

Below are videos for session tracks, 'Far Behind', 'Whirlpool' and 'Love At First Sight'.  Enjoy, and check out YouTube page for all session video

Lovers Turn To Monsters - Scottish Fiction Session - Videos

Joining me on Scottish Fiction on 25th September 2013 was Kyle Wood, a.k.a. Lovers Turn To Monsters.  Long term friend of the show, Kyle joined us to chat once more about his music and influences.  His last EP, the 'Skeletor EP', ranks very highly in our opinions, so we probed into how it all came together.  As well as all the chat, we were treated to three live tracks including a sneaky Blink 182 cover.  You can hear the full session and interview here should you wish.  Enjoy!

Scottish Fiction - 25th September 2013 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Below are videos for session tracks, 'I Don't Think You Like Me', 'I Miss You' and 'LA Gear'.  Enjoy, and check out YouTube page for all session video

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Album Review - Friends In America - What It Is To Be

Friends in America's debut album What It Is To Be is a real treat offering a glimpse of a band with genuine potential.  This is very clever song-writing with strong meaningful lyrics sung over music that is at times post-punk, at others almost ambient, and at others Johnny Marr like in the best way possible.

Opener What It Is To Be brings to mind Radiohead or Sigur Ros with the song being a classic example of that ambient feel I mentioned above. Gaffe follows and could easily be a Smiths track long lost from the Strangeways Here We Come sessions - it's wonderful.

Track three You're carries on the theme leading us to the album's highlight, the magnificent Quietly Quietly. Here we have Byrds-esque vocals colliding with post-punk guitars whilst once again channelling Johnny Marr at his angular best.  It also brings to mind The Sundays at their Reading Writing & Arithmetic peak having that sort of melodic indie feel.  I really can't recommend this track highly enough.

I really am in love with this album.  It grows on you from the first listen and once you start playing it you'll find it really hard to stop.  A first class debut.

- David McElroy

Friends In America - What It Is To Be is out now.  CD available from independent record shops, and online.  Download the album here.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 13th November 2013

Talk about a broad spectrum!  In this week's show there's hip-hop from Kobi Onyame and Young Fathers, punk from Medals and Sink Alaska, indie-folk from Michael Cassidy and a dose of post rock from Wolves of Winter.  Not to mention some remixing action from De Rosa, a ballboy cover of Bruce Springstein and a whole heaps more of the best new Scottish music about.

Book Group - The Lowdown of a LOUD Sound
The Birthday Suit - A Bigger World
We Were Promised Jetpacks - Circles And Squares
This Silent Forest - Root To The Seed

Cover Lover - ballboy - Born In The USA

Jo Mango - When We Lived In The Crook Of A Tree
Wolves Of Winter - Dream Catchers
Michael Cassidy - Everybody's Scared
Gone Wishing - Decoys
Kobi Onyame - Goodbye World Hello
Young Fathers - Low
Riquelme - To The Country
Lightning Papa Tam - Got Soul
Medals - Sit Back Down, Judas
Sink Alaska - Hitless Wonder
Forest Fires - Foreverlution
Alarm Bells - Hold Down

Tweet-a-track - King Post Kitsch - Fante's Last Stand - As chosen by @majesticben

Squirls - Stuck In A Bog

Re-Mixing It Up - Two Seconds To Midnight - With A Whisper Not A Bang Pt. One (De Rosa Remix)

The Mirror Trap - American Dreams
The Second Hand Marching Band - We Will Convince You
Frightened Rabbit - Holy

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 6th November 2013

Hot on the heels of début album Deerheart Blood Relatives swung by the Pulse Community Radio studio for chat and tunes.  Their bubbly and witty strain of indie-pop boils over making the session a charming interview about influences, summer festivals, and puns.  Three excellent live tracks are also dotted throughout so dig in. 

The second hour of the show includes regular features 'Tweet-a-track' and a 'Cover Lover' track from perennial Scottish Fiction chum Lovers Turn To Monsters.  There's also new music from Miracle Strip, Mungo's Hi-Fi, Book Group, Call To Mind and more!

Mogwai - Remurdered

Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime - As chosen by Blood Relatives

Blood Relatives - Deerheart - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio

Jocasta Sleeps - Crayfish Cocktail - As chosen by Blood Relatives

Blood Relatives - Fowl Mouth - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio

Phoenix - Lisztomania - As chosen by Blood Relatives

Blood Relatives - Bone Idle - Live in Pulse 98.4 Studio

Washington Irving - The Duel
Book Group - Victory Lap
Call To Mind - A Family Sketch

Lovers Turn To Monsters - Chosen One - Cover Lover Track

Monoganon - Best Pals
Pinact - Brew
Miracle Strip - Girl Gang

The Delgados - Monica Webster - Tweet-a-track as chosen by @jocknroll

Public Spaces - Plum Song
Beerjacket - Eggshells
Michael Cassidy - Battleships
Mungo's Hi-Fi feat. Brother Culture - Changes

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Single Review - Michael Cassidy - Everybody's Scared

Everybody’s Scared is exactly what you expect from Paisley’s Michael Cassidy.  That is not to say that the singer-songwriter has become predictable, far from it, however this new release is predictably brilliant.  Having garnered support from BBC Radio 1 and toured with Ben Howard, Cassidy has set his stall out as one of Scottish music’s most exciting prospects and this single has only proved further that the buzz around him is justified.

Everybody’s Scared is the perfect mix of simple and eloquent.  Cassidy’s husky Scottish vocal, as ever, fills you with warmth as you listen, a perfect tonic to combat the impending harsh Scottish winter.  His guitar playing is something to admire, driving the song along cheerfully as Cassidy croons his inner anxieties over the top.  It’s this juxtaposition between the music and the lyrics that make the song resonate.  Lyrics like, "waiting for someone", and "I’m on my own again" are expected over a less chirpy riff, but it’s this type of song writing that has led to Michael Cassidy to where he is today, and long may it continue.

- Stuart Thompson

Michael Cassidy - Everybody's Scared is out on D Set Records on 18th November.  You can pre-order the single here

Friday, 8 November 2013

That's My Jam #26 - Call To Mind - A Family Sketch

I love it when a band describe themselves as a 'collective'.  It invokes images of orchestral workings, grand designs and wonderful big ideas at play.  Highlanders Call to Mind definitely fit the 'collective' tag as this track demonstrates.  The first sounds from their forthcoming début album, on the Olive Grove Records collective (there's that word again),  A Family Sketch landscapes beautiful sounds, haunting and ethereal strings and keys, mixed with soaring Sigur Ros-esque vocals.

Check out the track below, which you can also download for free here and keep an eye out for the album dropping in early 2014.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Single Review - John Knox Sex Club / Over The Wall - Animals / Tell Her I Love Her

On paper, a split single release from John Knox Sex Club and Over The Wall doesn’t really make sense.  The former are known for producing epic, soaring, gritty tracks and the latter are a duo known more for laid back electro-pop, it really does sound like a marriage made in hell.  On their own, the two of these bands are brilliant, and surprisingly, on the same single, they work as a unit.

The split single itself is symbolic of the togetherness and comradeship in the Scottish music industry and demonstrates that being poles apart musically doesn’t stop collaboration within the scene.

The first single is John Knox Sex Club with Animals.  A track that, at just shy of 4 minutes, falls short of the bands usual ‘epic’ length however it packs the same punch.  The jittering guitars and off beat drums are reminiscent of Mars Volta, with what seems like organized chaos lurking behind singer Sean Cummings’ dark, menacing vocal.  The addition of an eerie violin to this track was a stroke of genius, as its spooky pitch mirrors that of the vocals, rounding off the unhinged sound of the track.  After taking a 12-month hiatus, this is a welcomed return for the band.

The other single Tell Her I Love Her by Over The Wall is just as good, in an entirely different way.   In complete contrast, the track can only be described as upbeat, fun pop, and its bloody good pop at that.  A mixture of electro-pop, gentle guitars and sorrowful lyrics means that it’s impossible not to tap along and forget about all the evil in world if only for five and a half minutes.

Both these bands have been off the radar in the last months and this joint return is an exciting look into what we can expect from them in the near future.

- Stuart Thompson

John Knox Sex Club / Over The Wall - Animals / Tell Her I Love Her is out now on Gerry Loves Records.  Buy the split 7" or download here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Album Review - Super Adventure Club - Straight From The Dick

For this review, I listened to this Super Adventure Club album at work.  On headphones, mind.  I sit next to my boss in a big open-plan office.

That’s probably not very interesting (or, on the face of it, relevant) but I promise you it’s pertinent.  Oh yes.  It’s pertinent because I need to warn you, dear reader of Scottish Fiction, that if you do what I did, you are very likely to do what I did next.

That is, before too long you’ll have abandoned your work entirely in favour of crazed head-nodding, and you’ll be humming "dog with two dicks, dog with two dicks, dog with two dicks!" loud enough for an entire office full of mild-mannered middle-aged women to hear what you’re saying.

I regret nothing.

Neither will you, if you give this a listen.  Straight From The Dick is gloriously odd, absurdly catchy for something so off-kilter, and a whole lot of fun.  It’s like, umm, well, it’s like the Pixies playing Fugazi songs with Arab Strap.  No, hang on, it’s like Prolapse fronting the Beefheart band.  Err, Ivor Cutler gone Weegie hardcore math-rock?  No no, they’re from Edinburgh.  Scratch that.  Oh, I don’t know.  The band’s own blurb tries this game and describes them as "The ghost of Zappa meets Fugazi on prog-rock pills" and "wrong-pop" but whatever it is, it’s crazed, riff-driven, wild beast of a noise.

Surreal Scots word games sung over a mishmash of odd time-sequences, strange guitar sounds you aren’t supposed to make, crazed drumming and the occasional wild growl of rage when words just don’t sound crazy enough.  There are wide eyed rants about your backpack being raided and your trousers catching fire delivered with a manic glint of joy in the eye, and the music sounds like the sound of your brain frying in the background.

I’m not saying drugs, mind.  It’s more like popping candy.  The impact of the album is something like that feeling you get when you’re nine and at someone’s birthday, and you and all your friends have just ingested your own body weight in sugar.  It’s music for bouncing off the walls in hyperactive glee as the adults cower at the sidelines hoping no-one runs through a window, and it’s absolutely fantastic.  Actually, listening to this on a bouncy castle would probably be the best thing in the world.

Sometimes you think they’re deliberately breaking the rules to see what it sounds like, and to see the look on people’s faces.  My first thought on hearing their bassist Mandy sing the line, "spend your whole time trying to choose between a sock and a hard place / I’d choose the sock."  (Surely about wanking, n’est-ce pas?)  My thoughts on the aforementioned double-endowed Dachsund were, "I bet they haven’t played this to their grandmothers", but on reflection I think I’m wrong about that.  I think they’d play it to their grandmothers and film their reaction, giggling madly as they did so.

The last aspect of this album that I feel I should mention is the sheer skill involved.  For something that’s this chaotic and freewheeling, there’s a lot of musicianship involved.  The underpinning skill is very impressive and you feel like any one of this trio could be dropped into a jazz band and cope OK.  Until they got chucked out for making puerile jokes at the back, or making fart noises during a trumpet solo, or something.

All in all, Straight From The Dick is a playful, joyous riot.  Play it loudly in your office, bouncy castle or old folk’s home today.

- Tom Everett

Super Adventure Club - Straight From The Dick is out on Armellodie Records on 2 December 2013 and is available to pre-order here.