Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Dogrel by Fontaines D.C

My friend Robbie has been raving about Dogrel by Fontaines D.C for months. So I invited him to write a blog. Fontaines D.C play Glasgow SWG3 on Thursday 21st November.

Album Review – Dogrel by Fontaines D.C. by Robbie Robinson

From the opening pounding beats of Big the album Dogrel lifts you in a tumultuous surge of dirty water, throwing you in all directions, raw guitar strings pulling you further along, guttural vocals before leaving you, somewhat unexpectedly, gently washed up with the smooth melodic sounds of Dublin City Sky. Simply put this is the best album I have heard in 2019… and for some time before that.

The album rushes along at a furious pace, it is not until we reach Roy’s Tune that it breaks rank with what has come before, a fast paced full bodied wall of sound. From the opening bars of Big you can almost taste and smell Dublin, chaotic, loud, dirty, wet, mercurial. However, it doesn’t let up as we crash into Sha Sha Sha and then lurch into the story telling of Too Real, unapologetically demanding an answer ‘Is it too real for ya?’

Described as ‘post-punk’ or punk this Dublin band appear to have produced a classic first album. The gruff narration, rapid fire drum beats, coarse guitar melt together to create the perfect combination. But what perhaps makes it work is the story telling lyrical delivery. The album demands you listen, sit up and be in awe.

Television Screens offers another slight shift in direction, although the beat is still demanding and the lyrics rich the delivery is somewhat smoother, gentler, asking us to stop and think, pause for thought. It lulls us into a soft sense of security before Hurricane Laughter smashes into you, the narration is back taking us round and round, down and down, the harsh oration to the back drop of relentless chords and riffs.

Where as what has comes before is angry and raw, Roy’s Tune tells a similar story but from a different point of view, the daily grind of the city slowly slowly slowly getting the better of you while you fight to hold on for hope and dream of something better, not becoming another cog to be used by the machine, running fast just to stand still, passed by as it dawns on you as what you wanted to be is not going to pass.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Easy Life at Saint Luke's Glasgow

On Wednesday night I headed to the beautiful Saint Luke's in Glasgow's East End to see a band called Easy Life at the recommendation of one of my best friends and his 17-year old daughter.

Ella had introduced Phil to the band and they have followed them as they move up the venues in Glasgow; starting at Broadcast, on to King Tut's and then to a sold out Saint Luke's.

Based on the evidence of Wednesday night the next stop will be the Barrowland Ballroom.

I was thoroughly impressed, the band were tight but loose, they connected brilliantly with the crowd who knew every word and it is a long time since I have seen a crowd jump about with wild glee. It took me back to being 17 and discovering bands and being swept off my feet while jumping and singing.

Phil and I watched from the balcony as the young crowd went crazy and it was brilliant to see Ella and Phil sharing their passion for the band on the way home. They are going down to see them in Liverpool on Sunday.

I asked Ella to write a guest blog;


Bouncing, buzz and Buckfast, Easy Life's third gig in Glasgow was legendary. Having previously seen the five piece three time, I didn't think they could get any better. I was proved wrong.

The crowd was buzzing and so were the boys. The music energetic yet chilled. The band played a mix of upbeat and more relaxed songs, with the introduction of new song nice guys a pop/dance fusion.

This band are one to watch out for. It's safe to say they won't be having any 'nightmares' about coming back to Glasgow any time soon...

Monday, 7 October 2019

10 from The Lemonheads

The second in the new series where I look at 10 of my favourite songs from some of my favourite bands and artists.

Following on from 10 from The Vaselines we move on to The Lemonheads.

I am a HUGE Lemonheads fan and given the treasure trove of album, b-sides, bonus tracks, demos and cover versions that the band have released since forming back in 1986, it has been hard to leave out loads of songs I love to create a list of only 10. I might go back and do a blog on my 10 favourite cover versions by The Lemonheads.

I fell for the band in 1992 when they released their breakthrough It's A Shame About Ray album. Dando was super cool, super handsome and super talented. He seemed to make friends all over the world and write songs (or get them to write songs for him), play in bands, or party with them.

Evan lived the high life, in one NME/Melody Maker interview back in the day he literally couldn't talk due to partying so hard. Juliana Hatfield and Courtney Love were among his lovers, Ben Lee wrote a tribute song I Wish I Was Him, Dando won hearts and broke hearts.

The Lemonheads circa 1992 
David Ryan (drums), Juliana Hatfield (bass), Evan Dando (guitar)

After a burst of 3 albums It's A Shame About Ray (1992) , Come On Feel The Lemonheads (1993) and Car Button Cloth (1996) and constant touring, Dando burnt out and escaped from the very public eye he was living in, disbanding The Lemonheads until 2006, occasionally venturing out to tour acoustically, releasing his stunning Baby I'm Bored solo album in 2003.

The Lemonheads released an eponymous LP in 2006 followed by two albums of cover versions. Dando has talked on stage about having side projects with Willie Mason and others. I just hope Evan keeps releasing music and keeps touring. He has a huge back catalogue to delve into to keep his audiences happy and entertained.

Live, Evan Dano solo or with The Lemonheads is an absolute joy. I smile widely throughout and have enjoyed seeing Evan or the band in venues ranging from Sleazys, to the old Renfrew Ferry when it was across the river, the QMU Debating Chamber, the Garage, Oran Mor and Saint Lukes. And The Lemonheads playing Benicassim in 2005 was a drunken joy.

So with 10 LP's, numerous EP's, b-side and more to choose from. Here are 10 of my favourites by The Lemonheads.

The Outdoor Type
Dando became friends with Tom Morgan from Smudge while touring Australia. They would go on to co-write together and Dando would also cover many of Morgan's songs; The Outdoor Type being one of them. Whilst reluctant to include cover versions in any of the top 10 features I do, I had to include one of my real favourites.

This song suits Dando perfectly as it tells a story, it has humour, it is clever, melodic and pure. Dando's voice is perfect for the confessional lyrics;

I lied about being the outdoor type
I never owned a sleeping bag let alone a mountain bike

A gem from the 1990 Lovey album. The beauty of Dando and his Lemonheads is that many songs can be played acoustic or electric. Stove is one of these gems. Acoustic, it is a lullaby to an old stove that someone helped Dando move. With a full band, The Lemonheads romp through it at pace, the melody may be blurred by the speed, but the longing and love for the stove remains all too clear.

Shaky Ground
I first heard this on a Steve Lamaq Evening Session live broadcast where Dando, at the height of his pin-up days promoting It's A Shame About Ray, played an acoustic set. I think it was at Sheffield Leadmill/University. At one point he had to stop the show to ask people to stop screaming.

He introduced himself that night thus; 'Hi my names Evan Dando and I was born in the spring of the summer of love'. I think I swooned myself!

Around this time I kind of saw a girl who would walk by my house with her dog and I would make an excuse to go out and bump into her. So I particularly love the line;

When I wanna see you I take Jersey for a walk
What's with all this secrecy when all we ever do is talk

Being Around
A Dando and Morgan co-write. This gem was originally the b-side of Mrs Robinson, the cover version that broke The Lemonheads, before being rerecorded and released on Come On Feel ...

The song is equally deceptively simple and brilliantly clever; asking questions with answers full of humour. Dando is all kinds of dreamy gorgeous in the promo video! #mancrush

Alison's Starting To Happen
This delightful pop punk romp contains one of my all-time favourite lyrics;

She's the puzzle piece behind the couch who made the sky complete

This is 2-minutes of perfection, a pop punk romp about Alison Galloway from Tom Morgan's band Smudge. Dando and Galloway were on ecstasy and he came up with the line Alison's Starting To Happen. Here are Evan and The Lemonheads playing it at Glastonbury 1994.

If I Could Talk (I'd Tell You)
A co-write with Eugene Kelly from around the time Dando effectively lost his voice due to his crack addiction. This is chiming guitar pop heaven for me.

I love the feeling to this song, it's really reflective, almost tinged with sadness.

Hope in my past
Hope in my past

I love when Evan sings walked back home to my place and Juliana then sings tired of getting high. And the closing ship without a rudder section is one I always try and sing without needing to stop for breath. Just a super cool song. Check this great version from Tokyo in 1994 with Dando looking all kinds of grunge cool with his hair hanging all over his face.

It's About Time
There is a bit halfway through this song where Dando sings it's not about you, it's not about sunshine and then Juliana Hatfield chimes in with the most gorgeous SUNSHINE that warms my heart every time I hear it.

Mallo Cup
Early Lemonheads with the beautiful opening line Here I am outside your house at 3 AM, trying to think you outta bed

Mallo Cup beautifully captures why I love The Lemonheads so much. Underpinned acoustic, chiming guitar but with Dando's foot never far from the distortion pedal which he pushes for the chorus and it's all over in 2 minutes 11 seconds.

I forget to forget
I ain't remembered yet

Bit Part
I found it very difficult to choose my final song. My Drug Buddy and Hannah and Gabi are absolutely beautiful songs, and how heartaching and heartwarming is Into Your Arms (a cover version). But this is 10 of my favourites, not 10 of the best. And I LOVE Bit Part, another co-write with Tom Morgan and another with beautiful vocal by Juliana Hatfield to compliment Evan.

I'm a sucker for the Dando and Morgan co-writes. They are so simple yet so clever. This one is only 1 minute and 51 seconds long. Acoustic and electric guitars collide, the lyrics are brilliant, the solo is fizzing and it builds to a brilliant climax with Dando hollering the final verse/chorus - it's all one in this song. Check them flying through it at Glastonbury in 1994.

I want a bit part in your life
A walk on would be fine
I just want a bit part in your life
(A bit part in your life)

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon

Trust me #5
Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon

I had started my Trust Me series by just posting lyrics and the song and saying - trust me, this is good.

But I do feel compelled to write something about Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon before you go on to read the lyrics and listen to the song.

So much of Lennon's work is timeless. His take on love, life, death, politics and the universe is one that struck a chord with millions. And it still does.

Songs like Imagine, All You Need Is Love and Give Peace A Chance might be more celebrated, but in the case of Gimme Some Truth, this song in particular rings true in Britain right now. What a state we are in with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and the threat of Brexit hanging over us. I have yet to hear any positive arguments put up for Brexit. Instead all evidence based articles and common sense point towards food and medical shortages, unrest and job losses. A bumbling fool is leading the country - oh how we laughed at the USA when Trump got in!

So yeah, Gimme Some Truth is post primal scream therapy Lennon telling it exactly like it is with some scouse wit thrown in. The circular electric guitar riff sounds vital, at the heart of everything and the solo is rip roaring.

And Lennon is at his most biting, there is no intro, he is straight into it. Sick of it, fed up, drawing the line that he won't be 'mother hubbard soft soap-d'! All he wants is some truth.

Lennon's vocals are exceptional. He is rasping, spitting the lyrics out, matching their distaste at everything that is pissing him off. Gimme Some Truth is exceptional, pre-punk punk in its disdain and delivery.

I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight-short-sighted narrow minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic-pyschotic pig headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

No short haired-yellow bellied son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope

I'm sick to death of seeing things
From tight lipped-condescending-mommies little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

I've had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic-ego-centric-paranoid-prima-donnas
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

Written by John Lennon

Gimme Some Truth (Remastered 2010) lyrics © Sony/ATV Songs LLC, Lennon Music, Lenono Music, Northern Songs, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, LENONO MUSIC C/O DOWNTOWN DMP SONGS

Trust Me
1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot

Friday, 27 September 2019

I Think We're Alone Now

Cover version of the month #48

Tiffany covers Tommy James and the Shondells

In the Autumn of 1987 I bought two pop albums on cassette tape; Out Of The Blue by Debbie Gibson and the eponymous album by Tiffany. I was 11-years old and I was falling for perfect pop like Gibson's title track Out Of The Blue, the glorious Only In My Dreams and vivacious Shake Your Love and the incredible I Think We're Alone Now by Tiffany. And as an 11-year old with my hormones beginning to explode, I was also falling for the singers!

I can vividly recall nipping across the road with my new tapes to show them off to my neighbour Barry Coughlan and his friend Stevie McColme, both 4 or 5 years older than me. They were heavily into Black Sabbath, Ozzy and Dio and laughed at my love of pop. Although I think they admired my taste in women!

My love for pop has never left me. Gibson's Only In My Dreams still has a youthful zest and freshness about it. Carly Rae Jepsen should cover it!

However this blog is about I Think We're Alone Now, a song I had known was a cover for a long time, however I only discovered the original by Tommy James and the Shondells recently and I have been thoroughly enjoying exploring their back catalogue of impeccable garage pop.

Tiffany's version of I Think We're Alone Now was released in 1987 when she was only 16, shortly before her 17th birthday. Her flame red hair made her stand out and in the promo video she played shopping malls to ecstatic crowds, partied with friends on a beach and sang while hanging out a car window. To an 11-year old this was pretty cool. It still is to a 43-year old!

Looking back on this song Tiffany's voice is exceptionally rich for someone so young and is there a playfulness I wasn't aware of when I was more innocent when she sings the opening lines;

Children behave, that's what they say when we're together
And watch how you play
They don't understand and so we're

And then it is straight into the euphoric romantic bridge and glorious emotional chorus that really captures a feeling, a moment in time. The chorus is absolutely perfect and brings back teenage memories and the excitement of being alone with someone. That line the beating of our hearts is the only sound .... perfect.

Running just as fast as we can, holding on to one another's hands
Trying to get away into the night and then you put your arms around me 
And we tumble to the ground and then you say

I think we're alone now
There doesn't seem to be anyone around
I think we're alone now
The beating of our hearts is the only sound

There is only one more short verse and then it is bridge and chorus all the way. Tiffany's version is pure 80's.

As for the original ... it blows my mind. I love how this song works sung by both male and female. Both can want and need the same thing, both feel the same way.

The original is garage guitar pop perfection. Their is a rawness, a soul, an urgency to the song. There is something magical about it, in keeping with the song title, it feels like you are alone with it, cause you can relate to it. The beat is like garage Motown, complete with tambourine shakes, the breakdown for the chorus works beautifully and the way the song flows towards closing is sublime. It's over in 2 minutes and 19 seconds!

Previous covers of the month

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

If You Could Read My Mind

Trust Me #4
If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot

The 4th in a series. Where I simply ask you to to trust me and check out the song and lyrics.

This is a masterclass in songwriting - enjoy.

If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost you can see

If I could read your mind love
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a paperback novel
The kind that drugstores sell
When you reach the part where the heartaches come
The hero would be me
Heroes often fail
And you won't read that book again
Because the endings just to hard to take

I walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script
Enter number two, a movie queen
To play the scene of bringing all the good things out in me
But for now love let's be real

I never thought I could act this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone
And I just can't get it back

If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie 
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
The story always ends
And if you read between the lines
You'll know that I'm just trying to understand
The feeling that you left

I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where we went wrong
But the feeling's gone
And I just can't get it back

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Never Ending Mixtape Part 40

Welcome to the latest addition to the Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape. We begin with a stomper by Shirley and the Shirelles, before a few from the time they were simply known as The Shirelles. The group formed away back in 1957 and described as having a naive schoolgirl sound. The Beatles were among their fans and covered Baby It's You which is added to the playlist.

We then delve into pop perfection courtesy of Pet Shop Boys who have announced a Greatest Hits tour for next summer, including a Glasgow date. We then have punk pop from Buzzcocks and The Undertones, a rare one from Belle and Sebastian, Boards of Canada, one of my favourites from Teenage Fanclub and a cover version of it by Mark Morriss, Reed, Bowie, The Lemonheads and the late Daniel Johnstone feature alongside gems from Edwyn Collins, New Order, Marlena Shaw and The Exciters. And I've just discovered Australian group The Stroppies - there seems to be so much good music coming from down under at present.

As always - delve in and enjoy. The full list of new additions is below.

Look What You've Done To My Heart - Shirley and the Shirelles
What's The Matter Baby? - The Shirelles
Baby It's You - The Shirelles
Soldier Boy - The Shirelles
What Have I Done To Deserve This? - Pet Shop Boys
What Do I Get? - Buzzcocks
Love Is Lies - Buzzcocks
Here Comes The Summer - The Undertones
Jimmy Jimmy - The Undertones
Big John Shaft - Belle and Sebastian
Happy Cycling - Boards of Canada
Alcoholiday - Teenage Fanclub
Abracadabra - Judee Sill
Crayon Angels - Judee Sill
A Girl Like You - Edwyn Collins
Roll on Babe - Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance
Thieves Like Us - New Order
Alcoholiday - Mark Morriss
I Love You, Suzanne - Lou Reed
Conversation Piece - David Bowie
Wait a Minute - The Excitements
Let's Wade In The Water - Marlena Shaw
Confetti - The Lemonheads
Some Things Last A Long Time - Daniel Johnston
I Had Lost My Mind - Daniel Johnston
You Never Give Me Your Money - The Beatles
Regret - New Order
All The Lines - The Stroppies

Friday, 13 September 2019

500,000 page views

Page views on the morning of 13th September 2019

Everything Flows Glasgow has reached 500,000 page views.

I have no idea if this is good or terrible, but it is a landmark for me!

It works out at an average of 680 per blog. I'll take that. Blog views these days tend to be from anything as low as 50 to 500. Occasionally they will go higher - see below for reasons why.

I began the blog simply because I enjoy writing about music. I wanted to be a journalist as a kid and loved the weekly buzz of walking the long way to school to buy the NME and Melody Maker on a Wednesday morning. I used to devour Uncut, Mojo, Select, Record Collector and many more. I must have spent a fortune on magazines in my teens and through to my mid-20's.

If just one person finds my blog and discovers something that they haven't heard before, or something that makes them go back to check an old song or album they haven't listened to in ages, then that is ultimately what makes me happy.

Feedback is always welcome. Someone once bought me a pint in Stereo because of my blog - thank you if that was you!

Everything Flows Glasgow - most viewed blogs

Higher page views tend to happen for the following reasons;

a) luck - it happens to get RT's or shared by the right person or the bands involved. Example - one of my highest viewed blogs is on Hot Chip, band members individually RT'd as did the bands account and their side projects.

b) timing - writing a live review immediately after a gig can really help with views (see The The in my highest viewed blogs), however I don't always do that and sometimes leave it far too late to even bother. I really should have blogged on Martha Reeves playing Glasgow in June!

c) the subject - One of my blogs that still gets regular views is on Nirvana covering The Vaselines, it is the kind of thing people google regularly. Likewise with the Stone Roses Amsterdam show I attended when Reni walked off the stage.

Meeting Mani in Amsterdam back in 2012

d) all of the above - the prime example being my blog on Gerry Cinnamon last summer. Gerry doesn't do media, so the mainstream media don't tend to write about him. As a result my blog is probably one of the few places his fans can read anything about him. On a daily and weekly basis this blog still generates page views.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog. I intend to keep it going for a while yet and I'd love to try and get into the habit of doing a monthly podcast.

Current regular/semi- regular features include;

  • Cover version of the month - approaching the 50th blog on cover versions
  • Never Ending Mixtape - regular round up of songs added to my Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify, now at 1,142 songs
  • Trust me - just a song and the lyrics (I might start to add in a little commentary)
  • 10 from - newly introduced feature that started this month with The Vaselines

I'll write about anything I like - live show, old band, new band - whatever I enjoy and very largely depending on time. So please don't be offended if you send a press release through for an album review. You'll see from my blogs that I really don't do that many.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any feedback.

Many thanks

Monday, 9 September 2019

SAY Award 2019 - Auntie Flo

Radio Highlife by Auntie Flo

On Friday night Auntie Flo's Radio Highlife album won the coveted Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award at a glittering ceremony in Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms.

The artist benefited from the exposure the award generates and also walked away with a cheque for £20,000. A sum of money that makes a huge difference to artists.

I say walked away, but Auntie Flo was actually on stage in the Isle of Skye, playing a festival he had been booked for long before making the longlist and eventually the shortlist. Check the moment he found out he won the award.

The Assembly Rooms was an absolutely perfect choice of venue; central for transport, historic, classy, looking incredible and really adding to the sense of occasion. Creative Scotland's Alan Morrison spoke passionately about the difference the award was making, the importance of the album as an artistic statement and body of work and how proud he was that Creative Scotland had supported 40% of the artists that made it to the longlist of 20.

The drinks flowed courtesy of sponsors Harviestoun Brewery as artists, journalists and the hard working people behind the scenes in the music industry mingled and debated who they thought should be the winner.

My favourite was rather obvious and after my sister Carla's album Impossible Stuff I was rooting for the Andrew Wasylyk and Free Love albums, also appreciating Kathryn Joseph's incredible talents. I have to say I was nowhere close to predicting Auntie Flo as the winner.

Brian d'Souza, AKA Auntie Flo

However, through my sister making the shortlist, I was closer to the SAY Award than ever before. So I have a newfound admiration for the effort that goes into the award, the confidence it gives to artists longlisted and shortlisted through recognition and the benefit it brings to them through promotion. And on top of that there is the incredible £20,000 prize, I knew how life changing that would be for my sister! But I think it would be pretty life changing for a lot of the artists on the shortlist, if not all of them.

It's not easy to fund and sustain art, so well done to the SAY Award and the SMIA (Scottish Music Industry Association) for creating such an incredible prize fund for the winner and also for the others on the shortlist who each received £1,000.

My playlist with a song from each of the shortlisted albums

As the drinks reception closed we were called to the main hall, although there were regular excursions to the bar! I was in the bar when Young Fathers walked in, looking super cool, it was like the room stopped to see them, they were stylish and in the zone.

Young Fathers announced the SAY Award 2019 winner

The tension and excitement was building. Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan were excellent as hosts, bouncing off each other and introducing music on stage (Heir of the Cursed was particularly mesmerising)  and also the shortlisted artists to make speeches.

I was super proud of my sister as she used this opportunity to thank many people who have supported her in making, releasing and promoting the album. It was great that she took Lloyd from Olive Grove Records up on stage with her to highlight his energy, work and support, stating; 'the Scottish music scene is a brighter place for having Lloyd from Olive Grove in it'.

I think I had something in my eye.

Carla J Easton with Lloyd from Olive Grove Records

Kathryn Joseph echo'd the thoughts of quite a few people I spoke with when she said that she was surprised The Twilight Sad's album had not made the shortlist. The short and longlists did highlight the development of Kathryn's and the Sad's label; Rock Action records, the label is really coming on and the biggest compliment I can pay the good folk there is that it is no longer referred to as Mogwai's label.

I was involved in a bit of a Twilight Sad debate at the bar. My friend Kat loves them but I just can't get into them at all - fair play to the band for the progress they are making, their development has been astonishing. Also fair play to the judges for going with what they like, not what the masses like (Chvrches) or what large sections of the media enjoy - The Sad.

The beauty of the SAY Award is that it does provoke debate and at the end of the day it is all a matter of taste. I think Nicola Meighan said to the room 'we all know that music and art is not a competition' .What some love, others will hate, what some think is amazing, others will think it is shite but occasionally people will hold their hands up and appreciate something, even if they don't like it.

It was fantastic to see all of the shortlisted artists sharing chat and jokes with each other as they waited to go up and collect their shortlist award.

The SAY Award shortlisted artists in attendance

Auntie Flo did seem to be a surprise winner for the majority of the room though. There was an audible gasp when it was announced by Young Fathers.

That said, Radio Highlife more than deserved to be in contention and perhaps its importance as a record (like many albums released before it) will only become known years down the line. Certainly, if you can imagine a 2039 documentary looking back at the state of the world in 2019 and you see Auntie Flo winning the SAY Award it is a very positive statement for our country and the creation and support of art within it.

Brian d'Souza on winning the SAY Award

I hope Radio Highlife continues to earmark Scotland as a place of openness, diversity and compassion in a time when all the above seems to be getting questioned.

On purely musical grounds, it means a lot - I've always tried to do something different, say something unique and sound true to myself with my productions, so it's hugely satisfying that this approach has led to recognition in this way.

The songs and sounds that make up Radio Highlife have been the literal soundtrack to my life as a DJ over the past 7-years - every tune loaded with layers of personal memories that make it an extra special album for me.

The announcement actually happened towards the end of my set. I noticed my phone going a little crazy and then when the organisers showed up with a bottle of champagne, I knew I must have won! I celebrated by playing one of my all-time favourite tunes (Laurent Garnier - Man With The Red Face) and serving champagne to the crowd who were none the wiser. They probably thought I do that every set! 

It was almost poetic to be in one of the most beautiful places in Scotland and doing what I love doing the most when I found out the news.

Auntie Flo's Radio Highlife is the 8th winner of the SAY Award, joining the eclectic, eccentric and electric list of;

Everything's Getting Older - Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat
Thirteen Lost and Found - RM Hubbert
Tape Two - Young Fathers
Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I Have Spilled - Kathryn Joseph
Varmints - Anna Meredith
Strike A Match - Sacred Paws
Cocoa Sugar - Young Fathers

SAY Award website



Sunday, 8 September 2019

10 from The Vaselines

I always enjoy lists of bands, songs and albums. So welcome to a new feature where I'll choose a favourite band or artist of mine and then list and discuss 10 of my favourite songs from their career. 

First up - The Vaselines

I remember going into Missing Records on Oswald Street in Glasgow to buy The Way Of The Vaselines, a compilation of all previous releases by the band. It came out in 1992 when interest in the band was reignited thanks to Nirvana, one of the biggest bands in the world, covering Son Of A Gun and Molly's Lips on their Incesticide album. I was a mere 16-years old and the cool girl that served me seemed pretty impressed that I even knew who The Vaselines were, never mind that I was asking after their album. If Kurt Cobain and this cool girl in Missing were into the band then they must be good! The Vaselines had a new fan.

The Vaselines had already broken up by the time I got into them. Eugene went on to form and lead Captain America/Eugenius and release a brilliant solo album, Man Alive (definitely need to do a blog on that at some point) before getting The Vaselines back together with Frances in 2006. Since then they have released two new albums and played shows all around the world.

A number of years after buying the album I went looking for it in my then alphabetised CD collection and it was missing! I hated my brother or sister taking stuff without my permission but I was pretty impressed to find that the CD was in my sisters room along with some other great albums she had 'borrowed'.

Somewhere along the line, a few years later, my sister Carla emailed Eugene out of the blue to ask if would contribute to a dissertation she was doing at Art School on pop music and pop art. She was amazed that he replied and since then they have become really good friends, playing numerous shows together and recently Carla JOINED THE VASELINES as their keyboard/synth player.


The Vaselines are such a fun band. There early material is pure punk pop. Some songs sound like they were almost made up on the spot and that has helped their songs sound fresh decades later. Their post reformation songs and albums definitely keep the fun and innuendo at the heart of everything, but there is a more mature sound to songs like the gorgeous Single Spies. Live, the bands warm guitars and onstage banter between Eugene and Frances can't help but bring a smile to my face.

So The Vaselines are one of my favourite bands and here are 10 of my favourite songs that they have released to date;

Teenage Superstars
All 4 songs from The Vaselines 1988 Dying For It EP released on Stephen Pastels 53rd and 3rd Records feature on this blog. They are raw, pure and in many cases, including this one, they are electrifying. The beat is primal, Eugene lets rip on his guitar and sings lyrics mixing sex, religion and youth rebellion leading to an incredible closing 80 seconds of  Frances and Eugene yelling I'm a teenage Jesus superstar with the energy leaping out and grabbing you. This is brilliant punk pop that sounds raw and dangerous.

Molly's Lips
The great thing about early Vaselines material is that they really sound like they were in their own world not giving one f**k about anything else going on in the world. Molly's Lips is well under 2-minutes yet there is time to pack in 3 verses, 3 or 4 choruses, a horn and a great break to a guitar solo.

High Tide Low Tide
The lead single from 2014's V for Vaselines album. This is so catchy. I love Eugene singing about playing hard to get, there are bah bah bah bah bah's, warm noisy guitars, a video with Eugene and Francis in leathers, on scooters, hoola hopping and playing crazy golf. Pretty much everything I love about the band in song and on film!

Single Spies
With Single Spies The Vaselines capture something quite beautifully in a way I don't think they ever have before. Absolutely sublime. Almost mature - in a Vaselines way of course! Eugene and Frances voices combine and entwine so naturally.

Stop denying
That it meant nothing
You're lying

Sex With An X
The Vaselines 2010 comeback single and album. Frances dressed as a nun and Eugene as a vicar in the video! This is a delicious romp of a song with The Vaselines innuendo and sense of pop pushed to the fore. It's like it is just one big long chorus with a glorious guitar solo and handclaps. Brilliant. Their comeback show at the ABC in Glasgow around this time was a joy.

I Hate The 80's
From the aforementioned 2010 comeback album, Eugene and Francis display their knack for catchy punk pop by filling it full of brilliant observations with pure cheek. You put a bullet in a Beatle, started beating on the people is an incredible lyric! The where did that girl go, what did that boy know hook is infectious, as is the it wasn't all Duran Duran Duran Duran line.

Check this great live version - live on KEXP.

Dying For It
I kind of like to think of Dying For It as a garage nuggets pop punk tribute to Motown....by way of Glasgow. I'm not sure if anyone else thinks of it like that but the way Eugene and Francis sing the hook I'm hanging out, baby I'm hanging out really does make me think of the kind of hooks Motown would produce. A glorious racket with pop melodies. The sound of a band having fun.

The Day I Was A Horse
Possibly my favourite live Vaselines song. They fizz through it and the kiss off line on the chorus I think I'm on a f**king trip is sheer brilliance. This is 90-seconds of catchy punk pop brilliance that sounds fresh, energetic, fun and vital.

Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam
For me this is one of the most beautiful songs ever by a Scottish band. The handful of chords, stunning vocal, the imagery in the lyrics, the cello and the whole feel to the song - just perfect. Listening back to some of the early Vaselines material, they really captured something on the recordings - there is a rawness and purity to them, beautiful.

Son Of A Gun
Eugene and Frances at their very, very best. The way this song flows is perfect, so perfect that I think I could listen to the chorus on repeat all day long. The whole song is super catchy, the verse is like a nursery rhyme, but that chorus ... with Frances singing;

The sun shines in the bedroom when we play
And the raining always starts when you go away

Friday, 6 September 2019

SAY Award 2019 shortlist - artists feelings and tastes

Speaking about being included on this year’s Shortlist of 10 outstanding albums, Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert: “We're very happy to find ourselves on this year's SAY Shortlist – in just a few years it's become an essential celebration of Scotland's huge and diverse musical output, and we're looking forward to discovering a few new names too.” 

Andrew Wasylyk said: “To have snuck on to the Shortlist alongside such brilliant records is a deep privilege and an honour. I'm looking forward to saluting these wonderful Scottish artists and their work."

Auntie Flo said: “Radio Highlife is a result of seven years of musical collaborations and sonic adventures with dozens of amazing people I've had the fortune to meet on my travels as a DJ. It is great that the album has been recognised for this year’s SAY Shortlist.” 

C Duncan said: “I feel very honoured to be in the Shortlist for The SAY Award given the calibre of the other nominees. It is such an eclectic list that really shows how diverse the musical scene in Scotland is.”

Carla J Easton said: “I feel like I'm dreaming. 'Impossible Stuff' is the album I have always wanted to make and simultaneously the album that almost never happened. The journey it continues to take me on surprises me each and every day.”

Fergus McCreadie said: “It’s truly an honour to be included on such a prestigious list. The Scottish Jazz scene is coming to be a force to be reckoned with, and to be representing that scene (especially amongst some really incredible albums) is such a pleasure.”

Free Love said: “We're both really honoured to be on this year's Shortlist with ‘Luxury Hits’. A lot of love, sweat and hard work went into the making of it.  For a country that punches so high above its belt in musical output, we're very proud to be considered for this award.”

Karine Polwart (with Steven Polwart & Inge Thomson) said: “The SAY Award has brought so much new music to my ears over the past eight years. But for me, the key breakthrough has been Kathryn Joseph.  ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’ is emotionally devastating, visceral stuff, as is ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’. She’s a legend. And her ascendance on the Scottish music scene - her rawness, her vulnerability, and her sheer human loveliness - is evidence enough of the value of the award.”

Kathryn Joseph said: “I am very, very proud to be on the Shortlist this year and everyone else on it is amazing and beautiful. I cannot wait to wrestle so many great humans that I love and we are a very lucky land to have such a great and generous music award that everyone can be part of.” 

Mastersystem said: “The most important thing about being nominated is the fact we are there as a result of a public vote. That recognition means more than anything. Thank you.”
Andrew Wasylyk’s most influential Scottish albums included Michael Marra’s‘Posted Sober’, The Delgados’ ‘The Great Eastern’, Trashcan Sinatras‘Weightlifting’ and Boards of Canada’s ‘Geogaddi’. Andrew also chose The Beta Band’s ‘The Three EP’s’, saying: “In 1998 I was on the cusp of leaving school. These E.P.’s seemed to echo that period of change - brimming with possibility and excitement. They always had wonderful artwork too. I’ve still got my ‘Flower Press Issue 2’ fanzine.”

Carla J Easton picked from a huge range of Scottish albums, to create her top five including Lungleg’s ‘Maid To Minx’, V-Twin ‘The Blues Is A Minefield’ and is the second Shortlisted artist to choose The Beta Band’s ‘The   Three   EP’s’.   Carla   also   chose Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Songs From Northern Britain’ saying: “Teenage Fanclub remind me of my big brother. He played their albums constantly when I was growing up and the songs would bleed through my walls (our house is legit made from straw!). It showcases all three songwriters perfectly. I’m in the Fanclub ‘Fanclub’ on Facebook and someone posted about the three styles of writing in a way that – for me – sums it up perfectly. Norman – I love you let’s get out the city, Gerry – I love you let's go to outer space, Raymond – I love you please-don’t-ever-f*****g-leave-me.”

C Duncan spoke about his love for Cocteau Twins ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ saying “For me, this is one of the most melodically beautiful albums ever written.” C Duncan also picked Billy Mackenzie - 'Beyond The Sun’ commenting, “This album is sublimely enigmatic and unusual.”

Fergus McCreadie selected his favourite Scottish albums and included Konrad Wiszniewski ; Euan Stevenson’s 2013 SAY Longlisted album ‘New Focus’, saying: “I grew up with this album (the pianist Euan Stevenson was my teacher, so that’s maybe why!) It’s extremely eloquent and well arranged.”Fergus also chose Tom Gibbs’ ‘Fear of Flying’ and Tommy Smith’s ‘Beasts of Scotland’.

Free Love chose a bunch of great records including Ivor Cutler ‘Jammy Smears’, Mogwai ‘EP + 6’ Arab Strap ‘Philophobia’, Errors ‘Have Some Faith In Magic’ plus Cocteau Twins ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’.

Speaking about ‘Philophobia’ by Arab Strap, Lewis from Free Love said: “This album was my introduction to Arab Strap when I was about 14 and to me it was punk without all the hackneyed tropes. It was recognisable and real, bold and provocative, but also personal and emotional.” Of the Cocteau Twins’ record, Suzie said: “There's something otherworldly about the chorus riddled guitars and Liz Fraser's somersaulting, often unintelligible vocals that take us on a soft focus journey to a pop dream world.”

Karine Polwart with Steven Polwart & Inge Thomson also picked The Cocteau Twins ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ saying: “I went to school in Denny and local heroes The Cocteau Twins were living proof that gorgeousness was possible. Heaven or Las Vegas is by far my favourite of their albums. Every member of that band was a creative genius, but Liz Fraser’s voice, her broken, bonkers lyrics and melodic idiosyncrasy are transcendent. To me that band sound like Grangemouth at night, all neon lights and steel and futuristic spires. And nothing will make me dance round my living room like Iceblink Luck.” 

Additionally, Karine Polwart chose Dick Gaughan ‘Handful of Earth’ commenting: The subsequent Scottish pop of the 90s pretty much passed me by, because I was obsessed with song archives and late night folk sessions at the time. The key to the door was Leith legend Dick Gaughan’s classic album Handful of Earth. It’s a soulful master class in how to make centuries old songs sound as fresh as the day they were born. And it reminds me of my grandfather.”

And finally, Karine Polwart picked Martyn Bennet ‘Grit’ saying: “I was sound checking with a trad song project called Scottish Women when Margaret Bennett first let the mighty Traveller singer Sheila Stewart hear herself sampled on Move, the opening track of her son Martyn Bennett’s 2003 album Grit. It was an amazing collective moment. None of us had heard anything quite like it. That album, how it combines trad archive recordings, beats and classical orchestration skills, transformed what Scottish folk music could mean, and do. It was a total game changer.”

Kathryn Joseph chose A Mote of Dust’s self-titled album, crediting the album with helping her to create her own masterpiece, saying: “Hearing this record played live and how much it affected me is why ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’ exists because it broke my brain open. The way music can make you feel the truth of things is amazing.” 

She also chose The Twilight Sad’s ‘It Won/t Be Like This All The Time’, commenting: “This record and these humans is/are perfect and I am broken hearted that it isn’t on the Shortlist this year because it deserves to be. They are the soundtrack to me getting to go and tour America for the first time and if I could spend my life listening to them play all of these songs every night for the rest of my life, I would die happy. The noise they make is beauty and the way they make it feels important to all of us humans trying to be ok. There is no one better live.”

For her final record, Kathryn Joseph selected Mogwai’s ‘Les Revenants’ adding: “This is maybe my most listened to record – it is perfect beauty.” 

Winners of this year’s public vote, Mastersystem selected two classic Scottish albums as their favourites, choosing Idlewild’s ‘100 Broken Windows’ with Grant Hutchison saying: “This album made me want to be in a band because of its raw, raucous sound and simplicity and unashamed rough edges.”Mastersystem also chose one of Scotland’s biggest bands, and their good friends, The Twilight Sad’s ‘Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters’ as their second choice, with Grant saying the album “changed my life and is the best example ever of powerful ear splitting noise and beautiful emotional vulnerability.”

You can listen to the curated list of treasured Scottish albums via The SAY Award Playlist here
The winner of Scotland’s national music prize, The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award 2019, will be revealed tomorrow (Friday 6 September) as the ceremony moves to Edinburgh for the very first time, at The Assembly Rooms.

An audience of artists, esteemed industry figureheads and engaged music fans from all over the UK will gather at the final award ceremony in a stunning celebration of Scotland’s flourishing music scene, with emerging Scottish acts LYLO, Heir of the Cursed, Cucina Povera and Man of Moon showcasing at the event. Presented by co-hosts Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan, the night will end in style by announcing the winner of the prestigious award, as well as the lucrative £20,000 prize.
The SAY Award Shortlist, in alphabetical order –
  1. Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Here Lies The Body
  2. Andrew Wasylyk – The Paralian
  3. Auntie Flo – Radio Highlife
  4. C Duncan – Health
  5. Carla J. Easton – Impossible Stuff
  6. Fergus McCreadie Trio – Turas
  7. Free Love – Luxury Hits
  8. Karine Polwart with Steven Polwart & Inge Thomson – Laws of Motion
  9. Kathryn Joseph – From When I Wake The Want Is
  10. Mastersystem – Dance Music

Developed by the Scottish Music Industry Association, 2019’s campaign is delivered in partnership with Creative ScotlandCity of Edinburgh CouncilYouTube MusicHarviestoun BreweryTicketmaster New MusicPPLSweetdramThe Queen’s Hall and charity partner Help Musicians Scotland.
Now in its eighth year, previous winners of The SAY Award include Young Fathers ‘Cocoa Sugar’ (2018), Sacred Paws ‘Strike A Match’ (2017), Anna Meredith ‘Varmints’ (2016), Kathryn Joseph ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’ (2015), Young Fathers ‘Tape Two’ (2014), RM Hubbert ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ (2013) and the inaugural winner Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ (2012).

Follow The SAY Award’s 2019 journey on Twitter @SAYaward, Instagram @sayaward and Facebook @SAYaward