Sunday 30 December 2012

Velveteen Saints at Broadcast, 29.12.12

I ventured into town last night for my last gig of 2012 to catch the Velveteen Saints at Broadcast. It was the third time I had seen them live in a matter of months and by far their most impressive performance to date. 

They had clearly (well from my eyes and ears) been spending considerable time rehearsing and watching a few classic rock'n'roll videos as they blasted through a 30-odd minute set of punk paced guitar pop.

They have already been likened to The Clash in numerous reviews and whilst I likened them to BRMC and the Marychain in previous blogs, it was Hamburg era Beatles, The Ramones and the glorious pop of The Monkees that came to mind last night.

Top marks to the bands mate who was DJ-ing as he blasted though a great mix of funk, soul and classics to get the crowd in the mood. The band came on an hour later than scheduled, so the extra alcohol consumed also helped.

The drummer took to he stage first and launched into a drum solo before the rest of the band came on and charged immediately into the opener 'Always Gonna Be'.

The Monkees reference earlier could be applied to the 3 frontmen - Martin (guitar), Sean (guitar - picture from another gig) and Thommo (bass) who all share a flat together, so they are tight on and off the stage.

Martin brings a raw edge in his look and vocals, whilst Sean is the poster boy frontman with a perfect quiff that he must have spent a good bit of time on. Thommo anchors things together and their 3 voices combine in a razor coated sugar manner, their on stage chemistry looks good - sharing a mic at times a-la Jagger and Richards or bumping into each other a-la Doherty and Barrat.

'Wake Me Up' is just glorious guitar pop that flows superbly well, a real stand out, but the band were confident enough to drop it only three songs into their set. I caught up with Thommo before the show and he said they were going into the studio to record 5 or 6 songs in the near future. If a couple of them are up to this standard then people will really begin to take notice.

Another song had a real Ramones style hook and 'Juliet' and 'Janey' were blasted through before 'Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead' closed things, another stand out and the song that brought them to my attention.

There was time for an encore of 'Red Wine' (not UB40) before people went into the cold night with a warm glow that only guitar pop can provide.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Losing You by Solange

So tonight I was turned on to 'Losing You' by Solange and a particularly brilliant performance of it on the Jimmy Fallon show in America.

Quite a lot of music has probably passed me by this year. A new job and a young baby certainly mean that chilling out and catching up on new music is something of a luxury these days. Thankfully the joy of social media ensures that I am friends with a number of people I can rely on for their taste so if they gush about something especially good then I make sure I check it out.

Thankfully I checked this out.

What a tune! I was hooked from the start; the funky beats are followed by soothing synths, the guitarist looking pretty damn cool and a soulful and emotional vocal from Solange.

Starting with the chorus is always a good move in my book, a perfect pop trick and it worked on me. The verse has a melody and performance that wouldn't be out of place on Madonna's 'Immaculate Collection', as would the whole song.

The arrangement is as stunning as the performance, falling and rising in all the right places. It is a brilliant song and this live take fully demonstrates the confidence of the artist and her band in the strength of the song.

 If you discover it through this blog then I hope you enjoy it too.


Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good
We use to kiss all night but now it’s just no use
I don’t know why I fight it, clearly we are through
Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good

I knew you waiting for the rest that you can't get from me
Just treat me good and baby i'll give you the rest of me
I'm not the one that you should be making your enemy
I'm not the one that you should be making your enemy

Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good
We use to kiss all night but now it’s just no use
I don’t know why I fight it, clearly we are through
Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good

There's something I know you taking it away from me
I gave you everything and now there's nothing left for me
I'm not the one that you should be making your enemy
I'm not the one that you should be making your enemy

Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good
We use to kiss all night but now it’s just no use
I don’t know why I fight it, clearly we are through
Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good

Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good
We use to kiss all night but now it’s just no use
I don’t know why I fight it, clearly we are through
Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good

Sunday 9 December 2012

The Rolling Stones in 1972 - the perfect band?

I'm still pretty blown away by the fantastic Crossfire Hurricane documentary that aired on BBC3 a week or so ago. Having watched it a few times (with no uge to delete it from my Sky+ planner at all) it has got me thinking, were The Rolling Stones circa 1972 the perfect band, the definitive band?

The documentary is certainly evidence in support of that question. Jagger is just incredible, a ball of energy, twitching, strutting, dancing, teasing, pouting and singing with all his soul, the ultimate front man, you just can't take your eyes off him. The band just lock into grooves, each seemingly knowing where the rest are going, playing with a 'tight looseness' that other bands could only dream of finding. Richards is 'rock star' personified, the combined sound of Richards and Mick Taylor's guitars is like nothing before or since.

They look fantastic, both Jagger and Richards have haircuts of the coolest order. Jagger is in peak shape, toned and muscular. Charlie Watts looks like nothing could ever phase him, and in 1972 he must have seen some sights!

They just let rip, touring their exceptional 'Exile On Main Street' double album. They had an edge; though drugs, the volatile relationship between Jagger and Richards and just the sheer energy from their songs and performance.

Looks, songs, performance and the lifestyle, the Stones in 1972 had it all. Here are some highlights.

All down the line


Jumpin' Jack Flash

Brown Sugar

Gimme Shelter

Friday 7 December 2012

Albums of 2012

There will probably be two or three that I only discover in 2013 (indeed I have the Allah La's album on order from Monorail) but for the time being, these are my albums of 2012.

One Day I'm Going To Soar - Dexys
The magnificent return of Kevin Rowland. A quite incredible album, autobiographical, funny, moving and full of energy, love and care. I would strongly urge anyone to check out this exceptional album, ambitious and grand, the album that Rowland has been dreaming of delivering for decades.

Oh I know that I've been crazy, and that cannot be denied
But inside of me there's always been, a secret urge to fly

Electric Cables - Lightships
Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub released a gorgeous album full of his trademarks; melody, hooks, mentions of the sunshine, the city, the countryside, escaping.... A lot of care has gone into this album, the guitar riffs, melodies played on xylophone and vocally are gorgeous, I love it. Timeless.

Light of the North - Miaoux Miaoux
The release of this album absolutely delighted me having previously worked with Julian (Miaoux Miaoux). Released on Chemikal the album received fantastic reviews and must surely have whet the appetite of many for the next installment. Check out the absolutely stunning 'Stop the Clocks' for starters if you haven't already, the musical trip of the year.

In Space - BMX Bandits
Duglas T Stewart rejoins us on planet earth with a band of Bandits to release an incredible album, following on from 'My Chain' and 'Bee Stings'. Stewart is in the best songwriting form of his life, heavily influenced by favourite and classic artists like Wilson and Bacharach. Check out 'The Unforgiven' for an incredible vocal performance from Stewart and a possible career highlight. Also a very personal album for me as my sister Carla (TeenCanteen) has a song 'Fireworks' covered by the Bandits.

A simple thought when all our words are gone....the unforgiven

Even though I love you so, you make me feel funny
Like there are loads of fireworks exploding in my tummy

In Our Heads - Hot Chip
It was a busy year for Hot Chip with side projects including The 2 Bears and New Build also releasing excellent albums. The best was from the main project though, their debut for Domino. The album starts in a rich vein with 'Motion Sickness', 'How Do You Do?' and 'Don't Deny Your Heart' all showcasing a band on truly top form. This form continues throughout the album and the closing 'Let Me Be Him' and 'Always Been Your Love' are just beautiful.

Coexist - The xx
Sparsely beautiful, heartbreakingly so at times. The xx follow up their exquisite debut with a sublime second album. The songwriting, performance, structure and production make them stand out a mile from their peers.

Oh No, I Love You - Tim Burgess
My love for The Charlatans and Tim Burgess is probably well documented through the history of this blog but I didn't anticipate this album. Written with Kurt Wagner from Lambchop, Burgess turns in a performance that showed the depth of his skills as a writer, performer and collaborator. 2012 was a memorable year for Tim with the release of his autobiography, co-managing a label, a tour with The Charlatans, curating some festival stages/tents and launching his own brand of coffee! Whatever next? A breakfast cereal anyone?

Oh no, I love you
Hello, I love you

Sugaring Season - Beth Orton
Beth Orton returned in October this year after a 6-year absence with a beautiful album. Beth's voice has never sounded better, rising, falling, sounding sweet, innocent and full of hope at times and then full of regret and experience at others.

Sweet Heart, Sweet Light - Spiritualized
Jason Pierce delivers yet again. No real surprises, we have the hushed, fucked up vocals, religious overtones, drug overtones and when Pierce finds a melody and hook he loves he hammers it home in mantra style fashion. There is one little surprise, his 11-year old daughter guesting on the gorgeous closer 'So Long You Pretty Thing.' Her name?....Poppy...

So long you pretty thing, save your little soul
The music that you played so hard on your radio
All your dreams and diamond rings and all that rock'n'roll can bring you
So long, so long

Blunderbuss - Jack White
Jack's back, well he never really goes away does he? This is a tremendous collection of songs full of White's unique delivery of melody and some exceptional guitar playing. 'Take Me With You When You Go' (the albums closing song) absolutely floored me when I first heard it and I had to play it about 5 times in a row. It flows superbly but then goes off in a completely new direction at around 1 minute 55 seconds, coming on like Sufjan Stevens for a few seconds before White comes in with a great guitar riff and a vocal melody that leaves you breathless. Simply stunning, no-one else can touch him when he is in that kind of form. In the zone!

So there you have it, I also liked the albums from New Build and 2-Bears (Hot Chip offshoots), Alabama Shakes and Bruce Springsteen. I seem to be the only person who found the Django Django album to be massively disappointing considering the hype.

Vigo Thieves - 2012 review

2012 has been an epic year for Vigo Thieves and in turn a thoroughly enjoyable one for me.

They have taken DIY to a new level thanks to a combination of hard work, creativity, innovation, exceptional songs and their motto #believe.

Highlights? Well there have been many, but watching the band pack out the BBC Introducing Tent at T in the Park and turn in an epic performance that got the place bouncing is probably the one that stands out most. Check out this brilliant fan footage that really captures the atmosphere.

The band have made a video review of the year taking in fan photos and videos alongside their own. Check it out and some of their achievements are noted below. Come along for the ride in 2013.


Vigo Thieves formed in 2009 and are from Wishaw, a satellite town rich in industrial history, 20-miles outside of Glasgow yet a world away. Starting a monthly club night, Shook To The Bones, gave the band a chance to develop their sound and fanbase, as well as an opportunity to put on bands from around Scotland that led to gig swaps in cities and towns across the country.

Stevie Jukes (vox/guitar), Barry Cowan (guitar/vox), Gordon Phipps (bass) and Al Jukes (drums) combine to produce epic songs that are fit for stadiums and festivals. There are echoes of band favourites like New Order, Simple Minds and U2; driven beats, explosive synthesisers and soaring emotionally charged vocals with lyrics that can be sung from the heart and soul.

Key achievements in 2012
·         Packing out the BBC Introducing Tent at T in the Park (see fan footage above)
·         sell-out shows in Glasgow, the last one at the Art School sold out 6-weeks in advance. Review
·         ‘Heartbeats’ being used to soundtrack the T in the Park announcement film
·         ‘Heartbeats’ was the opening track on the GoNorth CD distributed in Music Week
·         Vigo Thieves have received airplay on BBC Radio 1, Amazing Radio, BBC Radio Scotland, Clyde 1 and more

Future plans
The release of the 'Heart & Soul Pt II' EP in February followed by live dates including launch parties at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut on 8th and 9th February.

The following live dates are currently confirmed with more to be announced in the near future.

08/02 & 09/02/13 - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

23/02/13 - Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh

Media highlights
"A huge piece of indie rock, I can imagine hearing that at T In The Park!” Ally McCrae BBC Radio 1 

“Their brand of big upbeat rock is Simple Minds with an edge of Glasvegas A fantastic band shooting for commercial glory with an arsenal to make it.” - The Daily Record

“Really emotional, heart felt and anthemic. Epic rock fit for stadiums” Vic Galloway – BBC RADIO 1 

“A start-stop motion heart pounder!” NME

“Young pretenders to Simple Minds throne.” Jim Gellatly – Clyde 1 IN:Demand/Amazing Radio

“If you want modern guitars with an electronic edge but the soul of Springsteen, here comes your band.”

"This is a band built for the big stage. This is emotionally charged stuff – blending muscular beats and anthemic sensibilities with soaring, Bono-aping vocals and a euphoric synth-soaked arrangement. If you like U2 at their most epic, you’ll love this." This Feeling

"No one should be able to create a sound this huge in a venue this small. They’ve taken elements from U2, Simple Minds, and New Order and blended them in a way that you can immediately recognize the influence, but are still swept away, and excited even, by the fresh direction Vigo Thieves have taken the sound." The Vinyl District

You’re looking for a love to heal the pain from all the scars
So just live for the moment and you’ll shine like the stars
With your Heart and Soul
Vigo Thieves 2012