Thursday 23 October 2014

V for Vaselines

The Vaselines returned to action last month with the release of the album V for Vaselines. It is a glorious return from the indie legends - full of lovely raw sounding guitars, poppy hooks, humour and some songs that must rank alongside the best work of their career.

V for Vaselines opens with the glorious indie romp of High Tide, Low Tide. It is a real statement of intent - this is what we're capable of, this is what we're good at. The guitars are turned up and the band romp through the song. It sounds superb - so much music is produced to within an inch of its life these days, V for Vaselines is the sound of a band enjoying themselves on record with Eugene and Frances both singing. They also enjoyed themselves in the video and I'm sure I'm not the only indie kid to enjoy seeing Frances in leather (and Eugene ;-) ).

Guitars continue to sound warm and pushed to the fore on The Lonely LP with Frances starting with a seductive 'I just want to excite you.' The chorus is a call and response with Eugene answering Frances by saying 'if you want me or not'. It's a brilliant indie guitar pop song, really upbeat.

Inky Lies is also upbeat with clever wordplay, Crazy Lady is full of fun and the hooks are brilliant, lovely melodies.

When you're walking away, it's so easy
When you're away, I don't feel down
When you're walking away, it's so easy

Single Spies got me hook, line and sinker on first listen. I ended up listening to it 5-times before moving on to the rest of the album. For me it is up there with the best songs The Vaselines have written in their career.

Eugene sings the first verse and Frances the second, then there is the most gorgeous chorus I have heard in a while - simple, heartfelt and melodic. The whole has a lovely warm feel to it, laid back, melodic, simple, mellow, just gorgeous. The band enjoy the melody and groove of the chorus and run with it to close the song - beautiful.

Stop denying, that it meant nothing
You're lying
Stop denying, that it meant nothing
You're lying

One Lost Year goes back to the guitar pop punk that The Vaselines are so good at. The hooks are there again, you can't help but fall for them on this record. So simple and fun that you can't help but sing-a-long to them.

Earth Is Speeding sounds really retro (in a good way). Like a lost Vaselines single from the early 1990's. Frances takes lead vocals and I love the way the guitars kick in and the chorus flows after the section below.

They say to be careful for what you should wish for
I'll spin the bottle and you throw the dice
Don't take it to heart, well there's a surprise

False Heaven also has Frances on lead vocals, it carries a bit of menace and a craving instrumental section. Number One Crush picks up the pace again and has the Vaselines humour all over it along with a great guitar solo.

The album closes with Last Half Hour and by the time you get to the song you will have spent 30-minutes in the company of the band.

The song has a real Spector-esque feel to it, in the production and the lyrics; that feeling of meeting someone and getting ready for a special night - Tongue tied, my hearts beating fast.

Eugene says he was inspired to write short, instant pop songs after attending a Ramones tribute night in Glasgow. The Vaselines have certainly achieved that with V for Vaselines, 10-songs all hovering around the 3-minute mark, with a few under. There are some indie punk guitar pop gems with High Tide, Low Tide, The Lonely LP and One Lost Year standing out for me and Single Spies is one of my songs of the year.

The Vaselines are on tour throughout Europe in November, culminating in a hometown show at the Glasgow School of Art and then they head to America in January. Dates here. It's good to have them back.

Crash Club featuring Ian Mackinnon - Recondition

Crash Club are an electronic outfit hailing from Ayrshire that I have been aware of for a number of years. I've caught them live on a few occasions and I've always been impressed by the electronic soundscapes they create. Crash Club seem to have been building up a bit of momentum over the last 18-months or so - their live shows are reaching new levels, leading to them being nominated for best electro act at the SAMA's this year. They have also been keen (and clever) to introduce guest vocalists - mixing styles and keeping them on their toes.

Crash Club are predominantly based around the electronic musical talent and brains of Sammy Todd, ably assisted by Neal McHarg providing Mani circa XTRMNTR bass lines and his brother Aran on guitar. Guest drummers join them - powerhouse Calum Muir being one of them - well worth seeing live.

Recondition is their latest single, featuring the guest vocals of Ian MacKinnon from the promising Medicine Men.

Crash Club cite Leftfield and the Chemical Brothers amongst their influences and that certainly comes across in the intro to Recondition - pulsating electro is mixed with rock guitars, creating the kind of groove that makes people move. There is a brief pause before the vocals kick in;

show me pleasure if it's there to be had
a premonition
my recondition

Recondition has been released at the right time for Crash Club as they continue to build momentum into 2015 and they have to be looking to release an album as they have an ever growing song base to choose from.

Crash Club are supporting The Klaxon's at the ABC in Glasgow this coming Monday - 27th October. To fully appreciate Crash Club you have to see them live and they will sound superb through the ABC sound system.

Crash Club will also be helping Tijuana Bible and Medicine Men bring in the New Year at King Tut's on 31st December.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Vigo Thieves - reasons to believe

Believe by Vigo Thieves was re-released recently to coincide with the song being chosen by the Scottish FA as then anthem for the nations Euro 16 campaign. It is the perfect choice - Strachan has restored the fire in the soul of the players and the supporters, people believe again.

I was delighted when I found out as the band are huge supporters of the national team. Barry follows the team home and away as a committed member of the Tartan Army and it was only last year that Gordon was creating a bubble bath in Trafalgar Square in London when down watching Scotland against the Auld Enemy!

Gordon Phipps - it's always the bass players that are the party animals!

The band are growing from strength to strength, a summer of festivals followed by an Autumn tour led to the offer of 4-dates with The Courteeners (including 2 at the Barrowlands) and Vigo Thieves will be rounding off 2014 in style with their second headline show at the ABC in December. It promises to be quite a party.

Vigo Thieves have worked hard to build a word of mouth following that will only grow - especially when they release their album. 2015 promises to be a big year for the band so I decided to look at a few of the many reasons why more and more people are believing in the Vigo Thieves.

Vigo Thieves at the SFA launch of Believe


The songs
Vigo Thieves wouldn't have generated this much noise if they didn't have something about them but at the end of the day it all comes down to the songs. People are looking for songs to sing-a-long with, to dance to, to jump around to, to fall in love with, to look for hope in, or to soundtrack their nights and their life. This band have the songs to do that - attend any of their live shows and you'll see just what they mean to people.

Vigo Thieves have been building a top rate collection of songs over the last few years. More and more people are waking up to it - songs like Heartbeats, Forever, This Love, Believe and Steal Your Heart are festival and stadium anthems in the making - the hooks, riffs, refrains, beats, choruses are all there. People are already singing a-long to the hooks and riffs at the shows.

The enthusiastic responses at live shows and the growing scale of them has only encouraged Stevie Jukes to write bigger and better songs - anthems to be sung loud and heartily.

I'm fortunate to have heard some demos of songs that Vigo Thieves are working on in the studio and they sound incredible.

It isn't just the live environment that these songs work in, they sound incredible on the radio and their anthemic and cinematic nature has been picked up by the Scottish FA, it is surely only a matter of time before they are soundtracking games, adverts, films and shows.

The video of This Love displays the cinematic widescreen feeling of Vigo Thieves

2. Positivity
Vigo Thieves are all about heart and soul. They give it everything and the lyrics of Stevie Jukes highlight that. Examples?

Got to wake up, live for today
Stay young in your heart and young in your mind - Steal Your Heart

Love is the fire that's burning, when your heartbeats - Heartbeats

You're looking for the love to heal the pain from all the scars
So live for the moment and you'll shine like the stars - Steal Your Heart Pt II

Lets live forever, together we can stay young - Forever

It's not just the lyrics, Vigo Thieves are positive in everything they do - their live shows are a celebration, they are always looking to improve, develop and grow, their attitude and commitment is like no other I have experienced. Which leads on to...

Drummer Alan Jukes has the best seat in the house

3. Vision and leadership
Stevie Jukes had a clear vision for Vigo Thieves when he started out. 'Start with the end in mind' is one of his key philosophies and one that has served him and the band very well. Stevie has combined his talent for singing and songwriting with sheer hard work and resilience to get Vigo Thieves to where they are. He won't rest until he has taken them as far as he can possibly go - and that is all the way.

These qualities and more have helped drive the band forward more than anything else. I've never been anything less than impressed with Stevie, his natural charisma on stage and off has helped create opportunities and develop lasting relationships.

Stevie Jukes knows how to get a crowd on his side

4. A real band
Vigo Thieves didn't stick an advert in a magazine or online, they didn't come together through management or a record company, they are a true band. Stevie and drummer Alan are brothers, Gordon on bass and Barry on lead guitar are long term friends with the Jukes brothers. Chris Gorman on keys, synths and backing vocals joined after producing early demos and being the unofficial 5th member. Recognising his importance to the developing sound, Stevie likened him to 'playing piano like Elton John and having a voice like Jesus'.

The band gel superbly on and off stage, there is a real chemistry between them. Stevie singing his heart out, Alan a power house on drums, Gordon keeping the songs flowing on bass, Barry adding flourishes and riffs on guitar, Gorman helping to take them to the next level. Chris Cruickshanks joins the 5-piece on saxophone, creating a Springsteen feel to songs like This Love.

Vigo Thieves stripped back in session

5. The shows
I've mentioned the live shows turning into celebrations. I've witnessed incredible scenes at King Tut's, T in the Park, Wickerman, the Arches, the ABC, Barrowlands.... The momentum is with this band and the bigger the shows, the more they respond and the more they give.

For an unsigned band to have sold out the Arches and got over 1,000 people into the ABC is an incredible achievement - they still haven't released an album! The songs, the shows, airplay and word of mouth is generating something special and they won't be unsigned for much longer.

Vigo Thieves at the ABC in Glasgow earlier this year - a celebration

Get a ticket for Vigo Thieves at the ABC on 20th December. You won't regret it.

Monday 13 October 2014

Postcards from Rome by The Velveteen Saints

I've been following the Velveteen Saints, a young 4-piece from the outskirts of Glasgow (now firmly based in Glasgow), since they sent me an email 2-years ago, inviting me to one of their very first gigs and sending me a link to their song Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead, blogging about them HERE.

The band have taken their time to release their debut single, building up a fine collection of songs and loads of live experience - including a huge show with The Charlatans and a European tour with The View. So for the Velveteen Saints - Rock 'n' Roll definitely isn't dead.

The bands debut single Postcards from Rome is out today on Dead Beet Records.

Postcards from Rome takes a dash of Eddie Cochran, adds a slice of Bolan and T-Rex and a generous helping of the Marychain; marrying guitars with hooks and melodies. It's good, fun, simple and pure rock 'n' roll guitar music - something there is an incredible dearth of in 2014.

So baby
Come on home
Don't leave your man alone
I got a feeling in my bones
That you'll send me
Postcards from Rome

100 ltd edition vinyl copies of the single will be available at a a hometown launch party show with secret special guests at Broadcast on 31st October. It's sure to be a good one.

Check the single below;

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Temptation by New Order

Last week I headed along to Waterstones in Glasgow for An evening with Bernard Sumner to promote his autobiography Chapter and Verse.

I'd bought the book the previous week and I demolished it over the course of a few days.

In the book Bernard writes fondly about Temptation, my own personal favourite New Order song (and in my all-time top 3 favourite songs alongside Going Back To My Roots and You Set The Scene), and I was delighted when he also spoke about the song in person in Glasgow, saying;

'You can't get it down on a record, it's like an elusive butterfly, it comes to life when you play it's a very spiritual song, it's grown into a 9-minute rock monster. It sounds better live.'

Temptation, 12-inch cover

Temptation was originally released away back in May 1982, reaching number 29 in the charts. The song was later re-recorded for the compilation Substance and also featured in the classic film Trainspotting. It is the song that New Order have played live the most over the years.

Why do I like it so much?

I think it just offers so much - riffs, rawness, hope, love, regret, hooks, melody, grooves...

The original version starts with an extended 1 minutes 18 seconds intro, the band are not in a rush with Temptation, creating plenty of space to explore the groove and the 'ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh's' are just sublime. Check Bernard's shrieks at 45 seconds - Rob Gretton crept into the studio and stuck a snowball down his back!

Everything about this song is perfect. The original version has a delicious rawness to it, the 87 re-recording is a taste of heaven and when New Order play it live you can just get lost in the groove and come out in time to sing-a-long to the hooks. Listen to the crowd going nuts from the off in the 2008 version live in Glasgow. This is a song that will never grow old.

Oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got grey eyes
Oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got grey eyes
And I've never seen anyone quite like you before
Oh I've never met anyone quite like you before

A heaven, a gateway, a hope
Just like a feeling I need
It's no joke
And though it hurts me to see you this way
Betrayed by words, I'd never heard, to hard to say

Oh up, down, turn around
Tonight I think I'll walk alone
I'll find myself as I go home
Up, down, turn around
Tonight I think I'll walk alone

I'll find myself as I go home


Oh up, down, turn around
Tonight I think I'll walk alone
I'll find myself as I go home
Up, down, turn around
Tonight I think I'll walk alone

I'll find myself as I go home

Each way I turn, I know I'll always try
To break the circle that's been placed around me
From time to time, I find I've lost some need
That wasn't urgent, to myself, I do believe

Oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got grey eyes
Oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got grey eyes
And I've never seen anyone quite like you before
Oh I've never met anyone quite like you before

Bolts from above hurt the people down below
People in this world we have no place to go

Oh it's the last time, oh it's the last time, oh it's the last time
And I've never met anyone quite like you before
No I've never met anyone quite like you before

New Order - Temptation live in 1984

New Order - Temptation live in 1981 in New York City

New Order - Temptation live in Glasgow 2008 (I was there)