Thursday 29 September 2011

Three for Thursday 29/09/11 - Independent guitar pop in Scotland

Hello all

I'm very busy all day tomorrow, so rather than Five for Friday, here is Three for Thursday to set you for the weekend.

Scotland is awash with some fantastic DIY and independent music right now. So this week I'm going to highlight some of my favourite guitar pop bands in the country.

We start with Minature Dinosaurs and their new single 'Alligator'. Regular readers of this blog (and hey, there are a few) may recall me seeing them for the first time at Tuts last year and comparing them to the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Orange Juice and this single, released on Saraseto Records, kind of backs up my comparison. Jerky, catchy, funky at times, this is brilliant fun guitar pop. I look forward to seeing them live again.

I am biased as I manage them, but this is just majestic guitar pop/rock from Sonny Marvello, released on 3rd October by Ignite Records. I've already reviewed/previewed this on a previous blog, so just enjoy it. Look out for the crashing guitar riffs at the end....stunning.

Next up is a band that I know are hard at work on their album and I am really looking forward to hearing it. Vigo Thieves write anthems, songs to sing from the bottom of your heart. They have already released some singles and EP's. This is just epic, can you imagine if it was recorded in Abbey Road or something? It would be HUGE.

I'd also recommend checking out Little Eskimos and The OK Social Club, unfortunately they don't have videos with fantastic sound quality, it is all live stuff from what I can see on YouTube, check it out though.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Echo and the Bunnymen - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 28/09/11

Echo and the Bunnymen are one of my favourite bands, one of the few bands  that you could say don't play gigs. Their shows are occassions, cup finals at times, so when they announced they were playing their seminal album 'Ocean Rain' with strings at the Concert Hall I was a little excited. At the time I was skint and my mate Tel got us tickets sharpish for the front row. The scene was set for a great night.

After a pre-gig pint in Heavenly the sense of occassion heightened as I walked round the side of the venue to see singer Ian McCulloch outside the side door having a fag and I said 'Come on late, my mate is stuck in traffic' to which he looked somewhat bemused.

Inside it was announced that there were 3 sets; a string classics set, a greatest hits set and then 'Ocean Rain'.

The lovely string section performed some Bunnymen tunes while most of the crowd were at the bar, we soon joined them. Then the band took to the stage in their famous dry ice, all silohettes, McCulloch could easily still have been his 20-something self as he was when they burst on to the  scene.

The Greatest Hits didn;t include; Lips Like Sugar, Back of Love, The Cutter or Nothing Ever Lasts Forever. I can only assume they were going to come back on after playing Ocean Rain and play these tunes. Instead we got some great songs like 'Never Stop' and 'Bring On The Dancing Horses' (admittedly superb) along with some more recent tunes.

McCulloch aplogised after the opening 'Rust' for being 'rusty'. It was no joke, the band were clearly not gelling and throughout the set McCulloch berated the bassist, rythm guitarist, sound engineer and lighting engineer.

He also regularly went into a comedy Scottish accent and had 'banter' with the crowd. Those that have seen the Bunnymen before (and I must be in double figures) will know this is common occurrence. But tonight McCulloch was clearly drunk (regular drinks appeared on the riser on stage for him) and possibly coked out his nut.

At the end Mac apologised and said he had received some bad news. Now if he had the kind of bad news that we all fear, the loss of a loved one, fair enough. But on stage he said for his birthday he had received a chocolate cake with candles and he hates chocolate cake....and candles.

I like McCulloch, he has what I would describe as the x-factor, not the Cowell version, the real rock star version, something a lot of current bands sadly lack. You can't take your eyes off him, he looks good, he sings good, he writes great fucking songs.

But tonight he was a total and utter c*nt. The poor young string section were behind his riser and I felt sorry for them. I have never felt like that at a gig before.

We did get a sublime 'Killing Moon' but McCulloch went into full breakdown mode, challenging the crowd to a fight, saying he would bottle someone and then walked off before playing 'Ocean Rain'!

The majority of songs featured breakdowns in the music to allow him to rant a-la  his hero Jim Morrison, but they just came across as drunken rambles. Funny at first perhaps, but then just an embarrissing farce.

To my right, sat a couple from Chicago who had flew over for the show, afterwards I met two lads from Newcastle who had driven up. A lot of money had been spent by fans wanting to hear a glorious album with strings on didn't happen.

After a long waiting period during which a large percentage of the audience left, the band came back on. I expected 'Ocean Rain' but for some bizarre reason they played 'Killing Moon' again and McCulloch berated Will Sergeant 'you didn't even know, you didn't even notice.'

At one stage he stood behind him and looked like he was going to lamp him with his mic stand. Whether he was referring to the chocolate cake with candles I will never know.

If this was at the Barras, glasses would have been raining down. Somewhat amazingly through the boo's and shouts for a refund were shouts of 'we love you Mac' and 'you can do it'.

Mac may have tried but he broke down into tears at one point and a stage hand came on to console him.

Me and Tel genuinely couldn't believe what we were seeing. 

And so Mac walked off again. Again the band followed, only this time they didn't come back out and eventually the lights came on, by which point most people had left.

I've been to some shit gigs in my time, I've seen singers walk off before, but this was quite insane. 

In some ways I quite like it. Coldplay would never do something like this, neither would most bands who dress from Topman.

I've never been tempted to ask for a refund before but I paid £40 for this. I wonder if the Bunnymen will make a statement about it.......

As it was, the band didn't even play 'Ocean Rain', their moment of perfection, on their 'Ocean Rain' tour....

Saturday 24 September 2011

Sonny Marvello - Tiny Little Sparks EP

I fell in love with the band Sonny Marvello from the very first time I saw them playing in Sloans Ballroom, coming across like early Blur. Since then the band have developed considerably and this is highlighted in their forthcoming release; the Tiny Little Sparks EP that will be released on Ignite Records on 3rd October.

The title track was debuted at King Tuts in February 2011, causing an immediate positive reaction amongst the crowd. It was then honed, toned and recorded in May. Later that month Craig McGee of Glasgow Music played the song on his slot with Ally McCrae on BBC Radio 1. Their own comments are below.

'I can see that (Tiny Little Sparks) in a festival field with people bouncing and bouncing.'
Ally McCrae, BBC Radio 1 Introducing, Detour

'Sonny Marvello's songwriting keeps getting stronger and stronger. Tiny Little Sparks is glorious, joyous pop with lots of catchy hooks and harmonies.'
Craig McGee,, Warner Chappell Scout

i have to agree. 'Tiny Little Sparks' takes in elements of some of the bands favourite artists. The piercing guitar riff is reminiscent of Coldplay, the instrumental break in the middle reminds me of Radiohead, the keyboards/synth riff at 2 mins 50 seconds is clearly influenced by The Who, as are the crashing guitar riffs that follow. The vocals soar effortlessly throughout, check the video below.

The remaining tracks on the EP are 'Young Offender' - a pure guitar pop number that screams Amercian College Radio, recorded with Kevin Harper of Little Eskimos in Stirling.

And this beautiful acoustic number; 'Fire Went Out', recorded in spring. This is one of my songs of the year, just heartfelt and gorgeous.

The EP ends with a Rocket Science remix of Tiny Little Sparks. This is as strong an EP as I have heard in a long, long time.

Six for Saturday, 24/09/11

I missed my 5 for Friday yesterday, so here are 6 for Saturday.

I hope you enjoy them.

We start with a 7 minute epic from Wilco's new album, a melodic and orchestral trippy song that more than justifies the length.

We stay on bands beginning with 'W' as I listened to 'Tommy' by The Who for the first time in years this week. This is 'Go to the Mirror'. The guitar riffs are stunning, drumming suitably outrageous and the refrain 'See me, feel me, touch me, heal me' has to be one of the all time greats.

We change pace with 'Your loft, my acid' by Death In Vegas, who are about to return with new album 'Trans-Love Energies'. Richard Fearless is someone I admire for his ear for a tune and ability to experiment with sound. This track lives up to the title, pulsating at times, old skool techno at others, always pushing boundaries.

Another new tune out is 'AKA What A Life' by Noel Gallagher. A driving beat with a housey piano  kic the tune straight into life. I, for one, am looking forward to the album. This pisses all over Beady Eye from an almighty height.

Earlier this week I was talking about long lost C4 programme The White Room on twitter. I loved that show and this performance by The Charlatans shortly after the death of Hammond player Rob Collins is one that lives long in the memory. Raw, emotive and full of passion. The Charlatans kept on keepin' on. Tim Burgess looks cool as f**k in it as well.

We end this weeks songs with the immense 'Decades' by Joy Division, a song that I once heard on a Death In Vegas 'All Back To Mine' compilation. It really does make you wonder what this band could have gone on to do had it not been for the sad loss of Ian Curtis. Beautiful soundscapes that just take off on a journey. The 'Where Have They Been?' chorus/refrain is just stunning as the beat drops and the keyboard riff changes.

Friday 16 September 2011

Five for Friday - 16/09/10

Hello there

As usual, well most of the time anyway, here are five tunes I am enjoying just now to kick start your weekend.

We kick off with Bobby Womack and a belter of a tune. In my new job I need to drive a fair bit so I have been digging out cd's that I haven't played in ages. This was tucked away at the end of his best of compilation. I can imagine this going down well in a club.

Where do we go from there?!

Well my friends, we dive straight into the groove of Sexy Coffee Pot, one of the coolest 7-inches I own. The original sells for upwards of £300, sadly it is a reprint I have. Check this bad boy out;

We keep the groove going with a latino flavour and some funky nassau.

We then dive into the delicious delight of the 12-inch version of the monumental 'Move On Up' by the legendary Curtis Mayfield. Music really doesn't get much better than this.

We end with the driving force of The Flirtations 'Stronger Than Her Love' another gem I have on 7-inch. The backing vocals on this are just a dream and the beats and grooves are magic.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Chair by Big Deal

This week whilst browsing some websites on t'internet I stumbled across a couple of review of 'Chair' by a band called Big Deal that caused me to check them out. I'm glad I did.

I've just bought their album 'Lights Out', so expect a review of that at some point in the future. In the meantime kick back and watch this live version here and read the review below;

So what do you get with Big Deal? Are they a big deal?

Well they are a good deal and that is enough for me. The fact they had previously released a single on Moshi Moshi - purveyors of exceptional taste - before signing to Mute Records is a good start.

Fuzzy, scratchy electric guitar is underpinned by acoustic, the perfect soundtrack for dreamy boy-girl vocals courtesy of Kasey Underwood and Alice Costelloe. Costelloe has indie pinup  potential, a cross between Debbie Harry and Kim Gordon.

Lets get on to the music though. 'Chair' is under 3-minutes of pure pop dealing with that good old subject of love and relationships. 

Within 30-seconds we have the line 'only want me for the songs I write about you, about how I like you' over a gentle acoustic riff before the fuzzed guitars kick in.

Costelloe's vocals are sugar sweet with a razor sharp edge, one minute in the song lifts with the bittersweet line;

don't you wanna have that morning again, 
wanna be your lover I'm trying hard to be your friend

And the hook

you don't trust me to sit on your bed
put me on a chair in the corner instea-ea-ead

Before the kiss off;
you're so sweet and you keep me that way
mess with my head, mess with my head

Saturday 10 September 2011

Six for Saturday, 10/09/11

As I missed my five for Friday blog yesterday, here is one extra tune for your weekend.


We kick start with the trippy, mellow sound of The Orb and the utterly gorgeous 'Little Fluffy Clouds'. This was a real pre and post club fave of mine back in the days I went clubbing.

We then move forward with mor deliciously beautiful vocals courtesy of Hope Sandoval and Mazzy Star. I could listen to this for hours on end.

Changing pace we go to the ever reliable Jason Pierce and Spiritualized with the floaty, trippy, multi layered 'Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space'. It develops a lullaby like quality at times, stunning.

And then we go for the monumental Massive Attack and 'Unfinished Sympathy.'

We pick it up with the loveable eccentric and ecletic Beatie Boys;

And we end with the Beastie Boys keyboard player Money Mark;

Saturday 3 September 2011

This Silent Forest - 30-day song challenge

Starting on 12th August Scottish independent band This Silent Forest set themselves the challenge of writing, filming and broadcasting a song a day for 30-days.

I like to see a band test themselves in terms of their creativity and work ethic. I've been meaning to check them out but alas time has not been on my side lately for various reasons.

However, tonight I thought I'd pick 3 of their songs based on titles alone and check them out.

As someone who likes rough demo versions, I was intrugued to see what kind of quality the songs had in terms of the writing and the recording.

The first song I chose is called 'Lovers Come Home' (day 18). It is rather gorgeous, the lyrics, harmonies and the sparse picking of the acoustic guitar combine effortlessly.

I love the line 'I will wait in the rain for you'. I'm a sucker for a love song and this is a line that many  young Scottish romantics will have felt at some point in their lives. Check it out below.

Next up I chose 'Last Orders' (day 6) thinking it might be a good drinking song. This time it is just 'Squirrel' alone in what looks like a particularly nice and clean bathroom.

I'm not particularly familiar with This Silent Forest as a band, this has been an introduction; so in that sense their 30-day song stunt has worked, with over 700 views of this song, the gimmick/artisic challenge would seem to have gathered interest from plenty of new fans.

This is another love song, 'for you I'd lay my head on a block'.....'when the flames of the wreck consume my heart, only then there is an excuse to why we're apart.' It doesn't capture my attention like my first choice, but it's not bad, especially if it was written that day.

Next up I went for 'Give Me An Answer' (day 10). A good song title in my humble opinion. The duo venture out of the confines of their flat to the riverfront of Glasgow. Not quite as clean as the bathroom ;-)

This may be the weakest of the 3-songs that I've chosen. It's still not bad though and improves as it goes on. 

I don't know if all the songs were written on the day or not, or if some of them or parts of them have been hanging around for a while. As the song develops the duo's harmonies kick in, this is a strength of theirs.

'Lovers Come Home' was my first choice and my favourite out of the 3, the gentle nature of the playing, the harmonies and the lyrics, even the way they have filmed works.

Out of 30 songs there is no way I was going to like them all. You're going to get a mixed bag out of that volume of songs. 

I'll certainly delve in again at some point, they are clearly a creative and talented band and top marks to them for challenging themselves. For now though I am off to watch Treme....

Friday 2 September 2011

Five for Friday - 2/9/11

No time for chat this week as I have been manic, just five great tunes for your weekend and beyond;