Thursday, 19 July 2018

Tell Me How You Really Feel

During 2015 (95), 2016 (95) and 2017(93) I wrote a total of 283 blog posts. The prolonged spell of good weather we have been experiencing in Glasgow has had a huge impact on my blog writing. In a determined effort to try and keep to circa 90 blog posts a year I'm going to write a string of micro-blogs on my favourite albums of 2018 to date.

I'll start with Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnet.

Barnett's way with words, her storytelling, melodies, guitar sounds and jams with her band are captivating. All of this reminds me a little bit of Evan Dando and The Lemonheads, but Barnett is no copycat. She is very unique in her confidence, delivery and talent.

With a background in a couple of garage grunge bands, Barnett isn't afraid to turn her guitars up, but she can also produce gorgeous tender moments, the breakdown in City Looks Pretty being one example. Barnett and her band can also really get into a groove and make everything flow.

Vocal melodies sound like they are sometimes created off the cuff but always with ease and with a hook and their are some brilliant guitar riffs to go with them. Charity is one of my favourites from the album.

Barnett's 2015 debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit is outstanding. Her style and humour really shine through. I'm gutted I missed her at the Barrowland in June. Fear not, Courtney and her band are on the road non-stop and return to Glasgow on 20th November to play the Academy.

I promised a micro blog - so here it is. Check this brilliant artist out via all the usual sources.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The rise and rise of Gerry Cinnamon

Pretty much everyone who was at TRNSMT on Saturday was at Gerry Cinnamon

The rise ..... and rise of Gerry Cinnamon fills me full of excitement, hope and wonder.

This guy isn't just ripping up the rulebook .... he isn't interested in it ... won't have read it ... won't care about it ... Gerry is doing things his way, playing by his own rules, keeping to his strong beliefs and it is working.

Gerry's rise was highlighted, underlined and set in bold at the TRNSMT festival that took place at the weekend. Cinnamon performed to the largest crowd of the weekend in glorious sunshine..... unsigned....with no marketing budget for his album.....virtually no airplay (come in Radio Scotland!!!!).... pause and consider that.

My spine tingled when Gerry approached the mic after prolonged applause to introduce his song Kampfire Vampire, viewing the crowd he said;

Look at this, look at it, it might never happen again, remember this day, best days of your life
This is a song for any young musicians kicking about, anybody on the circuit trying to start out
Don't feel the need to pull your pants down to anyone in the industry

The told me it wouldn't work

They told me I couldn't sing with a Scottish accent
They told me I couldn't record it myself
They told me I couldn't
Look what happened, know what I mean?
Do what you want man, see whats in there (points to heart), that's all that matters

The view from the sound desk for Gerry Cinnamon

Gerry then played his heart out, tearing through the song and firing out his lyrics dreams, bullsh*t scenes, rules were made to be broken

And oh how this young guy is breaking the rules; upsetting the old school, the cliques and the 'scene'. Cinnamon is making his own rules and with the help of his exceptionally passionate fanbase, he is creating a new scene.

It really is quite incredible. As a seasoned music fan I've never seen anything like it. In the 00's did see some bands like Artic Monkeys breaking through via MySpace, but they went on to get signed to a major label pretty quickly and get sucked into the machine. Of course they have gone on to become one of the biggest bands in the planet, but what hoops have they had to jump through along the way? 

And things have changed, MySpace has died and there are plenty of new ways to work as an artist or band that don't involve selling your soul. Cinnamon is proving that with the way he is working. Word of mouth is still the best form of promotion and with Social Media and online streaming, word of mouth is spreading like wildfire.

That word of mouth is coming from Cinnamon's incredible fans. Seriously, catch his TRNSMT 2018 performance on the iPlayer or read on to view his 2017 performance. Go on YouTube for fan footage or look on Twitter. Gerry Cinnamon is connecting with people in a way that I don't think I've ever seen before - certainly not from a Scottish artist. 

I don't doubt for a second that labels are not monitoring this situation. They will smell the possibility of money. Who is this young lad playing to virtually every punter at TRNSMT? Gerry and his tight team may well be fielding offers in the future, they may have done already. Does he need a label? Does he want one?

As a fan, I really don't think he does. He can record and release music to a dedicated (and growing) fanbase and play festivals and sold out shows across the country.

We'll get back to TRNSMT 2018 in a moment.

Gerry had performed last year. Hi social media posts from that time really indicate how important it was, fuelling his natural fire and taking hom on to the next level. You can watch his whole TRNSMT 2017 set that was filmed by the BBC below.

A lot has happened in the year that followed TRNSMT 2017. Gerry released his debut album. Yes that's right, the show and response above happened while Gerry had only released one single!  By the end of 2017  there were two sold out nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and scenes of Cinnamon-mania across Scotland.

The doubters who said people wouldn't get it outwith Glasgow were left looking dumb as Cinnamon strode into 2018 playing sold-out shows across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Shows were sold out, venues were upgraded and those shows were sold out as well. Someone in Lisburn even captured Gerry as a mural - insane.

You only need to listen to Cinnamon's debut Erratic Cinematic and watch him live to understand why the artist and his music are generating a buzz all over the place.

Gerry writes from the heart, from experience, with honesty, soul, humour and with no drama or effects. He lays himself and his songs bare across his debut album. A rich and soulful voice, packed and racked with emotion, an acoustic guitar, drum machine, mouth organ and loop pedal.

The way he tells his stories, shares his thoughts, regrets, dreams and memories is really clever and yet really simple. Cinnamon tells it like it is and he tells it from his heart. Cinnamon connects with people, he touches people.

Diamonds In The Mud is verse after verse of memory with real emotion attached to it and a clear love of Glasgow; Sometimes pokes fun at himself with the line I'm not the ideal person to be lecturing on life before going on to talk about things he has learned; What Have You Done is Cinnamon questioning himself and his life, being a messed up circle in a room of squares

Belter always bring a smile to my face, but then I totally feel it when Gerry sings about having been stung a few times so he doesn't let anyone in. He has that ability to make you smile, make you think and most importantly - to make you feel something, something you can relate to.

Lullaby mixes demons with a beautiful tender chorus; Fortune Favours The Bold has a 60's style shoo-dop intro that was captured perfectly by the TRNSMT audience with Gerry laying his beliefs out clear - can I buy back my soul when it's gone?

Keysies remains my personal favourite. Such a beautiful song that evokes such strong imagery and memories of my own childhood. All in 90-seconds! Gerry's voice is incredible on this one.

Cinnamon's songs are social, caring, funny, loving and in the case of album closer War TV - fiercely political. Is anyone else commenting on the world in song in such a frank way?

I'm no' scared of dying I'll fight any man
I might no' be the strongest but I'll do what I can
And I'm no' religious but if God's got a plan
Then I don't think it's bombing in a far away land

Cinnamon-mania is set to continue with tickets for 4 huge Glasgow shows going on sale tomorrow. 2-nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and 2-nights at the Academy. Might need to add the Hydro!

As Gerry comments in many of his online posts the bonny is burning.

Get involved. This is a talented and soulful young Scottish artist who is blazing a new trail. This is street poetry, this is punk, this is soul, this is DIY, this is special, this is Gerry Cinnamon.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Never Ending Mixtape Part 25

There are quite a lot of new songs (for a change) added to my Never Ending Mixtape this month.

I am really getting into Courtney Barnett who has a wonderful way of telling tales and making observations. Her raw guitar work and honest voice are hugely appealing and her songs are sprinkled with humour and soul. I'll be blogging on her soon.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Parquet Courts, Snail Mail, Spiritualized, Hinds and GospelbeacH all have new songs out and featuring on the playlist. Snail Mail play Glasgow later in the year and their debut album is beautiful.

Elsewhere we have the three closing tracks from the Stone Roses eponymous debut, a stunning track from Brendan Benson, Car Seat Headrest, The Pastels, Flaming Lips, Mick Jagger and The Charlatans.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Dig in and enjoy the wonderful weather.

Charity - Courtney Barnett
Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales - Car Seat Headrest
Berlin Got Blurry - Parquet Courts
San Francisco - Foxygen
French Press - Rolling Backouts Coastal Fever
Canned Tomatoes (Whole) - Courtney Barnett
Basement Scam - The Pastels
Memo From Turner - Mick Jagger
She Don't Use Jelly - The Flaming Lips
Shoot You Down - Stone Roses
This Is The One - Stone Roses
I Am The Resurrection - Stone Roses
Deee-Lite Theme - Deee-Lite
Harry Flowers - Jack Nitzsche
Metarie - Brendan Benson
Tellin' Stories - The Charlatans
Heat Wave - Snail Mail
Habit - Snail Mail
The Club - Hinds
I'm Your Man - Spiritualized
Now That I'm A River - Charles Watson
Dreamin' - GospelbeacH
Elevator Operator - Courtney Barnett

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Seltaeb, Nicky Byrne and The Beatles merchandise

Who or what is Seltaeb?

Can you imagine being Brian Epstein in the winter of 1963 as Beatlemania is really kicking in? They have released their debut LP Please, Please Me and are swiftly following it up just 7-months later in November with their second; With The Beatles.

There has been a string of singles, including the wild pop of She Loves You with the moptop shaking yeah yeah yeahs which has taken the boys to another level and in November 1963 they won a nations hearts with their slot at the Royal Variety Performance with Lennon pushing his cheekiness to the limit by asking will the people in the cheap seats clap your hands, if the rest of you just rattle your jewellery?

Epstein was in as much of demand as the Fab Four, his dreams were coming true and he would have been in his element. People across the world were smelling money - Epstein delegated merchandising to his solicitor David Jacobs.

Jacobs was tasked with prosecuting infringements (of which there were many) and also to issue new manufacturing licenses. He was pretty busy!

So Jacobs also looked to delegate and he chose a guy called Nicky Byrne - someone known on the London King Road party scene from running the Condor Club in Soho and through his wife Kiki's Chelsea boutique.

Byrne was initially reluctant due to the bad name Epstein was making for himself in the business world, but was then persuaded to take on rights for Europe and throughout the world - thus forming a company named Stramsact and then a subsidiary names Seltaeb (Beatles backwards) for American rights - with The Beatles due to fly to New York in February 1964 to play on the Ed Sullivan Show.

David Jacobs was left to draw up the contract and he unimaginably told Byrne to write the percentage he thought he should take on the deal.

Byrne wrote 90 percent!

To his amazement, Jacobs didn't even question it. He didn't think of it as 90% to Byrne, but as 10 percent to The Beatles!

It is estimated that this cost The Beatles somewhere in the region of £100,000,000. A lot of money now, a hell of a lot of money in 2018.

The Beatles went to Paris for a few shows in January. After the last show a telegram was sent through to Epstein. I Want To Hold Your Hand was number 1 on the American Billboard Top 100.

Things went crazy as Byrne and his five partners set up camp in one of New York's poshest hotels, renting limos and helicopters to ferry prospective clients in to meet them.

Wigs, bubblegum, clocks, sweets, cards, dolls ..... and of course - t-shirts were being made, printed and sold by the million.

Epstein was impressed when Byrne handed him a cheque for $9,700 and asked Byrne how much he was owed. Byrne replied 'nothing, that's your 10%'. Alarm bells must have been blaring in Epstein's head!

Where Byrne really came into his own was his little known part in creating Beatlemania when the band landed in New York.

For all Capitol and CBS cared, they were just going to walk off the plane and go to their hotel. Nobody would have even known they were in America.

Not quite true - The Ed Sullivan show at received 50,000 applications for 700 tickets and Capitol had allocated $50,000 for a 'crash publicity program' and printed five million car stickers proclaiming The Beatles Are Coming.

Byrne had his own reasons - the magical 90%!

Byrne enlisted the help of two NYC radio stations and they declared that there would be a free Beatles t-shirt for every kid who went out to the airport to meet and greet the band!

1,000 fans cheered The Beatles off from Heathrow. 5,000 welcomed them to America. Beatlemania crossed the ocean. And it wasn't just at JFK airport, fans chased The Beatles limo and lined the streets - imagine visiting America for the first time to this reception?! Check the footage below.

What happened to Byrne and his 90 percent?

Epstein managed to renegotiate back to 49% by August 1964 and then became embroiled in a 3-year court battle right up to his death in the summer of love of 1967 - ruled to have died from an accidental overdose. Jacobs was found hanged in his garage in December 1968. Byrne later retired to the Bahamas.

It's a film in the making!

There are lots of excellent books on The Beatles, but Philip Norman's Shout: The true history of The Beatles comes highly recommended. I have ready many but hadn't come across this amazing story before.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Everything Flows TV - Episode 2 - Teenage Fanclub

Welcome to Episode 2 of Everything Flows TV.

This episode is dedicated to my favourite band and features footage from the early 1990's through to present day.

Enjoy some wonderful performances which capture the talent, personality and joy that Teenage Fanclub brings to people across the world.

'Bandwagonesque, the best album of 1991, they come from Scotland, performing What You Do To Me, Teenage Fanclub' 

Teenage Fanclub, riding high after Spin Magazine voted Bandwagonesque the best album of 1991, beating the likes of Screamadelica, Loveless and Nevermind, romp through the melodic pop of What You Do To Me and then tear into Pet Rock with Norman pulling his hood up and rocking out on guitar with Raymond. I love Pet Rock in particular, there is a special energy in their performance!

Channel 4's The White Room, presented by Mark Radcliffe, was essential viewing in the 1990's. A kind of Britpop twist on Later With Jools with 100% less likelihood of Radcliffe joining in to jam with a band on 'the old Joanna'. 

This clip kind of encapsulates everything I love about Teenage Fanclub. Melodies, harmonies, incredible songwriting, a choice cover version, the band clearly having fun on stage and just generally displaying how brilliant they are with no fuss at all.

Live from the Reading Festival in 1992, Teenage Fanclub are flying. We have a relatively quick The Concept before a glorious 6-minute + version of Everything Flows with Brendan O'Hare in sensational form on drums and the band looking like they are having the time of their lives.

Live on Oddball TV in 1997, the band romp through the power pop perfection that is Take The Long Way Round

Live on the Conan O'Brien Show in 1993 with Escher

Live on Later With Jools performing Radio and their cover of Older Guys.

Snub TV - a short interview and Everything Flows

Live  Alcoholiday - always one to cherish when they play it live.

Live at T in the Park in 1996 with Neil Jung

Teenage Fanclub live at BBC Scotland HQ - I was fortunate to be in the audience just a few feet from the band.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A Northern Soul

I recently revisited The Verve's A Northern Soul LP. What an album! The menacing A New Decade, the ferocious proclamation This Is Music, the fragile and beautiful History, personal favourite Drive You Home, the blissed out psych groove of Life's An Ocean and the staggeringly brilliant Stormy Clouds/Reprise to close. All absolutely amazing!

With A Northern Soul The Verve reached a rarely scaled peak when they became, in my eyes, a perfect band - the cool frontman, incredible guitarist and a tight groove based rhythm section reaching for the stars and the sun. They got there.

Prior to their second album The Verve had been releasing blissed out psychedelic groove based singles and EP's, also their debut LP A Storm In Heaven. The title really kind of matched the sound they were searching for.

But they really hit the groove with A Northern Soul. 9 of the 12 tracks are longer than 5-minutes in length, 4 stretch beyond the 6-minute mark. Allowing the band the space and time to reach magical places.

Their was ferocity in the shape of A New Decade and This Is Music. Both were declarations, the latter let rip with Ashcroft proclaiming I've been on the shelf for too long and then going on to ask how is the world gonna take me?

I remember watching the video on the sadly defunct chart show and it blew me away. This band were on it. In more ways than one.

The energy portrayed in their videos and captured on vinyl was amplified live when Ashcroft seemed to be like a man possessed. A Barrowland show in between A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns just as Bittersweet Symphony came out will live long in my memory.

Ashcroft highlights his progress as a songwriter with the beautifully flowing On Your Own before the epic ballad History, with the first use of strings that would go on to feature so prominently on the Urban Hymns album. It is a stunning song, Ashcroft is on fire, singing his heart out for a lost love. It's soulful and to the point.

I've gotta tell you my tale
Of how I've loved and how I've failed

Because it's you and me we're history
There ain't nothing left to say

The Verve's ability to jam and create special moments comes across throughout the album; Ashcroft pours his heart out; talking about his family, his vision of how he will die, love, life, death and the universe.

But they really hit their peak towards the end when the last 3-tracks; Life's An Ocean, Stormy Clouds and (Reprise) really evidencing the exceptional talent of all the musicians and Ashcroft as a singer, writer, improviser and performer. Stormy clouds, new horizons .... The Verve were prepared to ride storms to get to where they wanted to go, just listen to and marvel at the stunning (Reprise).

If you haven't listened to this album then strap yourself in. If you have, then I hope you enjoy revisiting it like I did recently. The Spotify link (to the remastered album with demos and b-sides from the era) and a couple of stunning live videos are below.

Imagine the future
Woke up with a scream
I was buying some feelings
From a vending machine

Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Pastels at the Mackintosh Church

Last night I got to catch The Pastels playing under a full moon ..... indoors!

The show was part of a series set in the stunning Mackintosh Church at Queens Cross in Glasgow where there is currently giant inflatable moon, measuring 7-metres in diameter, suspended above where people go to worship. The moon, featuring 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface and it is the work of the artist Luke Jerram. It is pretty spectacular!

Emm ... better go downstairs to see the stage

Synergy Concerts have booked a string of shows while the moon is on and they have really caught the attention of the Glasgow gig going public.

Last night featured 3 artists and I made sure I was in the venue for shortly after opening, firstly to have a look at the moon before it got too busy, secondly to ensure I caught the set of opening act Andrew Wasylyk.

I discovered Andrew after browsing albums that have been nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year Award. His Themes For Buildings And Spaces album is a widescreen, dreamy, cinematic wonder and I hope it advances to the longlist. I think it could win.

Andrew came on stage with 7 friends and announced he was going to play the full 9-song album - result! The subsequent performance made me appreciate the album even further. The way the band gelled, the way the bass grooved, the way the horns enhanced the beautiful melodies being played on piano and glockenspiel .... it was a brilliant performance. Kind of David Axelrod at times.

I would encourage you all to check the album out. Andrew's ability to create beautiful soundscapes is very special.

Modern Studies were the second act on an excellent triple bill. With 2 backing singers they set out to create an expansive noise. While they managed that, it was only the second half of their set that I really got into. They have recently released their second album Welcome Strangers via Fire Records.

On to The Pastels. As they were setting up I got talking to the girl (lady) in front of me. It was an interesting conversation as she told me how she chose to attend Glasgow University because of her love of The Pastels and how she used to go into John Smith's Bookshop on Byres Road because Stephen worked there! As she was a couple of years older than me, The Pastels debut Up For A Bit with The Pastels arrived at the perfect time for her.

She wasn't the only one to come to church to worship The Pastels. The audience ranged from teenagers to (I imagine) people in their 60's. Their influence has been felt across the world and they are still mentioned in wonder by young guitar bands breaking through like The Orielles and the band offer so much support to these acts.

So much care goes into the creation of a Pastels song. They have impeccable taste and high standards. Songs from Slow Summits, their most recent album, made up most of the set The 6 piece line-up played superbly, the sound for all acts was impeccable, the natural acoustics of the church worked wonders.

It was an interesting experience to sit down and watch The Pastels. I found myself checking and appreciating the simplicity of some of the chord changes and how the band jammed and grooved on two/three chord riffs at times. The two members who alternated between keys/synths/flute and brass created wonderful melodies over the grooves.

Kicking Leaves was introduced as 'a West End song', Summer Rain is quintessential Pastels - both songs offer so much in terms of visualisation and feeling. 

Night Time Made Us was possibly my favourite song of the night. Everything came together and the way the band jammed at the end was all kinds of dreamy gorgeousness.

Check My Heart was a summer pop delight, Katrina's beats and rolls throughout the set were faultless and again, sitting down to watch The Pastels allowed me time to appreciate all members skills even more. 

Baby Honey caused two people to waltz down the aisle to dance at the front, the energy from the song is remarkable, the one chord riff/drone with lead guitar over the top creates a great groove.

It has been 5-years since the Slow Summits album and I hope The Pastels introduce us to some new music in the near future. And part of me wonders if the band would be tempted (like so many are these days) to play shows taking in classic albums/periods. I'm positive that would be extremely well received.

But that said - every period with The Pastels is classic.