Saturday 29 November 2014

2014 review by Vigo Thieves

Anyone who has read this blog will know what a huge fan I am of Vigo Thieves. Having spent considerable time with them over the last 2 or 3 years I am also a big fan of their bassist Gordon Phipps - a guy with a huge passion for life and music.

I caught up with Gordon to find out what bands, albums and tunes he had enjoyed through 2014. As always, he's turned me on to some crackers, I particularly like the White tune.

1. What singles/songs that have been released in 2014 have stood out for you? 

My memory is pretty fucked but here goes:

Atom Tree - Die for your love - First heard on the TITP bye bye balado video. Majestic song. Seen them live at electric fields too.

Augustines - You got nothing to lose but your head - Heard loads of people talking about them but never heard them until I heard this awesome piece of emotive rock.

Crash Club feat. Ian Mackinnon - Recondition - Brilliant groove to the track and great vocal from Ian

Jim Valentine - Make you Mine - Class sleaze rock tune

White - Living Fiction - Bumped into these guys at Loopallu and told us they'd started a new band. Checked this track out and was blown away!

Kasabian - Bumblebee - Bombastic track which was obviously made to be played live and loud

2 Bears - Not this time - Discovered on 6music. Missed them at Tut's because Barry wouldn't go with me

Jamie T - Zombie - Great come back track with a bouncy chorus

The Stepkids - Moving Pictures - Another 6 music discovery with a great hook laden chorus

2. What albums released in 2014 have you enjoyed?

Courteeners - Concrete Love - Absolutely love this band and it was an honour tour with them. That Friday night at The Barras will live with me for a long time! Also seen them live at Bellahouston Park supporting The Killers.

Catfish And The Bottlemen - Great to see these boys finally getting signed and releasing a cracking debut album.  Caught them live this year at Broadcast early on then on the T Break stage at TITP not long before us.

First Aid Kit - Another superb album from the Swedish sisters. Full of soaring melodies and harmonies. Saw them live at The Old Fruitmarket at what was a truly stunning gig in a unique venue.

3. What old music/bands have you discovered/gone back to in 2014?

Fleetwod Mac - Rumours - A band I have never got into then I was in HMV and Rumours was one of the cds you could buy at the counter for £2.99 so I thought why not? Totally loved it and it soundtracked many a summers road trip!

Monaco - Delved into one of Hooky's side projects a bit further. Everyone knows 'what do you want from me' but there is a lesser known track called 'Shine (someone who needs me) which is just a phenomenal piece of 90's pop. Almost like discovering an unreleased New Order gem.

The National - High Violet - A band I was initially put off of because it seemed like music for beard scratchers but how wrong was I? Stevie and Barry have been into them for ages (both beardy) I finally succumbed when Stevie bought me a ticket to go see them at the Usher Hall. I bought High Violet and was blown away. I now have it on double gatefold vinyl as well!

4. What has been the musical highlight of 2014 for you?

All Vigo Thieves gigs because I'm selfish like that:

  • 02 ABC 29th March - Pyro and beach balls!
  • King Tuts 30th April - Supporting the Fratellis for the Sunday Mail Centenary Fund
  • T in The Park 13th July - Always a pleasure to play at Scotland's biggest and best festival
  • KOKO London 25th July - Epic 12 hour journey down on one of the hottest days of summer but what a phenomenal gig!
  • Sneaky Pete's Edinburgh 26th September - First sold out show in the capital was one of the sweatiest gigs of the year!
  • Loopallu 27th September - First on, no bother. Great crowd turned out to see us in our earliest gig of the year 12.30pm!
  • Glasgow Barrowlands 31st October - Supporting Courteeners. Massive crowd in for us. Special moment seeing all the VIGO DAFT tshirts in the crowd!

5. What are you plans for 2015?

To be alive and keep spreading VIGO DAFTNESS around the country!

Friday 28 November 2014

2014 review by Everything Flows

I started 2014 by buying quite a lot of new music, then tended to delve back into a lot of older music as nothing new was exciting me enough to buy it. Just when I was feeling a little downhearted I got into the albums by War On Drugs and First Aid Kit.

There are songs and albums that have been released in 2014 that I will discover years down the line and kick myself for not buying them at the time and seeing the act live - so I thought that I would use my blog to ask bands, artists, labels, writers, fellow bloggers and friends to do their own mini-review of 2014 so I might discover some music released in 2014 that I might have missed.

So throughout December you can expect to read mini-reviews from Vigo Thieves, Kevin Harper, Olive Grove Records, Skinny Dipper, Woodenbox, Crash Club, TeenCanteen, Model Aeroplanes, Duglas T Stewart, Hot Gem Records, Atom Tree, Machines In Heaven and more.

In the meantime - here is my own mini-review.

1. Singles/songs that have been released in 2014 have stood out for me

Seasons - Future Islands

I'm not the only person who fell for this after seeing the Letterman performance on YouTube. A brilliant song performed with real passion and panache.

You're Still Mine - TeenCanteen
Vagabond (live) - TeenCanteen
You're still mine is Phil Spector mixed with New Order, whilst the live video of Vagabond is jaw droopingly gorgeous 3-part harmonies and heartfelt lyrics.

This Love - Vigo Thieves
Epic anthem from Vigo Thieves, a taster of the epic new material they have been working on this year. I have been fortunate to hear some demos, 2015 will be their year.

Desired Effect - Atom Tree
Ones to watch in 2015, building a superb collection of songs. Electronic wonder.

Blue Moon - Beck 
Heart Is A Drum - Beck
2-tracks from Beck's beautiful album. Melodies delivered in real style and with true soul.

The Secret Of The Tibetan Grapefruit Is...? - Dr Cosmo's Tape Lab
(Return To) Nineteen Canteen - Dr Cosmo's Tape Lab
2-tracks also from Glasgow's Dr Cosmo's Tape Lab. The first is pure Beta Band while the second is rammed full of McCartney melodies

Sweet Discontent - Tuff Love
I loved this track on first listen and still do, great guitars and soft melodic vocals.

My Girl Midge - BMX Bandits
Duglas T Stewart comes up with a real heart breaker. Soulful vocals and Stewart always has a knack for a melody.

Single Spies - The Vaselines
This is a real stand out from The Vaselines album. The melody flows superbly. 

My Silver Lining - First Aid Kit
The gorgeous First Aid Kit won my heart this year with their album and live show at the Old Fruitmarket. This is stunning, check them out and they may win your heart too.

Inspector Norse - Todd Terje
Strandbar - Todd Terje
Playful and melodic electronica. This album was on in my car for ages and these 2-tracks in particular.

An Ocean In Between The Waves - The War On Drugs
Under The Pressure - The War On Drugs
2-tracks from one of my albums of the year, it is so easy to get lost in this album. 

Tears of Joy - Slow Club
The opening track from their fantastic album, modern day soul.

I've also fallen for the Frozen soundtrack and whilst my daughter Zoe's fave track is Let It Go, I 
absolutely love Do You Wanna Build A Snowman? Genius.

2. Albums released in 2014 I have enjoyed

Morning Phase - Beck

Beautiful on first listen, loads of depth to come back to, an exceptional album.

Stay Gold - First Aid Kit
Stunning harmonies and melodies, First Aid Kit have raised the bar for themselves. An exhaustive tour has taken them around the world and won them many new fans. 

Lost In The Dream - War on Drugs
Springsteen fed through a reverb machine with echoes of Dylan as well. This blew me away.

Ever Evolving Lounge - Dr Cosmos Tape Lab
Home grown psychedelia - two friends in Glasgow get together and record on an old fashioned 4-track and produce staggering tunes that recall the Beatles and the Beta Band amongst others.

It's Album Time -Todd Terje
Superb electronic melodies and a guest appearance from Bryan Ferry. This album was on in my car for about a month.

V for Vaselines - The Vaselines
Raw guitars, hooks and melodies are all over V for Vaselines. It sounds like the band enjoyed making it and that transfers with ease to the listener.

Tied To A Star -J Mascis
We get to hear the mellow side of Dinosaur Jr's J Masic on this gorgeous solo album. The guitar playing is still exceptional, Mascis' vocals still strain, and with J Mascis you are always going to get some majestic moments. 

Complete Surrender - Slow Club
I was late getting into this album so I'm kicking myself for missing live shows this year. Slow Club come of age with a beautiful soulful album. Fantastic song-writing and they've found a producer who has brought out a whole new side of them.

3. Old music/bands I have discovered/gone back to in 2014

I still have loads of CD's that I haven't transferred on to iTunes, so I'll still wander in to look at my collection and pick an album to play in the car. I was amazed that I hadn't transferred Flaming Lips Yoshimi album, so I dug it out and played it for about a week.

Earlier on this year I discovered Controversy by Prince after a friend made me a mix. It is an incredible song and I have played it regularly through the year.

I've discovered loads of good stuff through the DJ Greg Wilson who regularly posts his mixes on his sound cloud page. He'll play anything from The Smiths to disco, house, electro and gospel - basically anything good. His taste is impeccable and his re-edits are sublime.

Summer shows by Belle and Sebastian and Teenage Fanclub caused me to delve into their extensive back catalogues (not that I need much excuse). 

I enjoy buying Northern Soul compilations and discovering some classic tracks via friends who are part of the scene in Scotland.

I've been listening to a lot of Chic since watching them at Wickerman in summer 2013. I can't believe no-one has brought them to Glasgow other than for a Ryder Cup Gala performance!

4. Musical highlight of 2014?

Teenage Fanclub at Kelvingrove Bandstand was just perfect - sunshine, friends, beer and a trawl through the Fannies extensive back catalogue. The mass outbreak of pogo-ing down the front was brilliant.

5. Plans for 2015

I'm looking forward to Teenage Fanclub and The Charlatans releasing new albums and playing live. These bands have been helping to soundtrack my life since 1991.

I hope to get to at least one festival, attend gigs as often as possible and to discover brilliant music - be it stuff from the 60's or brand new bands.

I'd love to see Vigo Thieves get the record contract they deserve and go on to release a brilliant album  and smash it. They have the songs up their sleeves, their progression over the last 2-years has been staggering.

My sisters band TeenCanteen are going into record some songs in the new year and I hope they can get enough money together to finance a full album, then hopefully get someone to release it.

Elsewhere on the Scottish music scene I think Atom Tree have all the makings of a good album and Dr Cosmo's Tape Lab have already announced their second album will come out in March.

Monday 24 November 2014

Jesus and Marychain at Glasgow Barrowland

The Jesus and Marychain brought Psychocandy to the world famous Glasgow Barrowland last night, creating a show akin to a psychedelic 60's happening - the light show was incredible and the films playing in the background felt perfect for the throbbing punk rock white noise coming from William Reid's electric guitar.

Reid's guitar growled, howled and scowled, it squealed and we could feel it, vibrating through our ears. This was a loud rock n roll show, a legendary band playing a seminal album.

Sunday was the second of two sold out nights the Marychain were playing in Glasgow. Dry ice filled the stage as the band came on at 9.30pm sharp. Jim Reid told us they would be playing their encore first, going off for a couple of minutes and then coming on to play Psychocandy. He was true to his word.

April Skies kicked in, opening proceedings in style, surging and flowing superbly. The band didn't waste any time with chat between songs. Head On was one of the best songs of the night, Jim stood at the front commanding attention while William stood by his amp, seemingly as enthralled by the sound he was generating from his guitar as the crowd.

Some Candy Talking is indie guitar perfection - the Velvets reimagined post punk in East Kilbride. Reverence was simply outstanding, William Reid given free reign to let rip over the groove as his brother told us he wanted to die just like Jesus Christ.

Upside Down was as wild and free live as it was when it was first recorded. Psychocandy and Up Too High were also played during this initial short set/encore. It whetted the appetite for a Marychain Greatest Hits set when they finish touring this album... that may take a while.

And so on to Psychocandy. The performance was spellbinding and spine tingling - and it certainly cleared my ears; leaving them ringing until the small hours of the morning.

The light show pulsed and flashed in time to the music, the projections on the big screen behind the stage added to the whole feel and the music was raw and powerful. Reid's guitar channelled everything from surf, to punk, to 60's riffs and the raw power of the Stooges. There was a least two occasions when I thought of I Wanna Be Your Dog.

The power of Psychocandy live in 2014 put the production of the album back in the 80's (admittedly very cheap production) to shame. I wouldn't bet against the Marychain releasing a live version.

The set went by in a psychedelic blur; Just Like Honey was suitably gorgeous and You Trip Me Up was the highlight of the night for me alongside the earlier Head On.

The audience reaction was as impressive as the performance. Young kids crowd surfed, pogo-d and got up on their mates shoulders and it was fantastic to witness - psychedelic garage punk pop created 30-years ago still generating a reaction.

The Marychain powered through the album leaving little if any gaps between songs, leaving the stage after It's So Hard, the feedback still echoing round the venue.

Psychocandy isn't my favourite Marychain album, I much prefer the more melodic and popper sounds of Darklands and Honey's Dead; but I gained a new respect and understanding for Psychocandy last night. The power, rawness and urgency blurred and combined with melodies, punk and pop was and is unique. It has stood the test of time - it is one of those albums that caused people to pick up guitars and form bands. 30-years on it might just do so again.

Sunday 16 November 2014


Next weekend The Jesus and Marychain return to Glasgow to play 2-nights at the Barrowland Ballroom. They will be playing their legendary Psychocandy LP, originally released back in 1985.

The title captures the music contained on the record perfectly - gorgeous sugar candy pop melodies drenched in psycho white noise feedback; bringing something new, raw and exciting to students, bedsits and music fans across the country at the time. Their live shows were short and sharp; 20-minutes long and they sparked an infamous riot at the North London Polytechnic in March 1985 - see footage HERE

Psychocandy is one of those landmark albums that inspired kids across the country to pick up guitars and form bands. There are gushing melodies; Cut Dead is pure and true, hard to believe it was written in an East Kilbride council estate. Sowing Seeds flows superbly, the guitars are lovely and raw.

Just Like Honey is the opening song - Spector-esque drums usher the song in, the warm, fuzzy guitars and vocals sound like they are dipped in honey. The way the song builds and then slows down before the big climax is superb; the widescreen potential was used exquisitely in the film Lost In Translation.

Never Understand is brutal white noise feedback while the vocals and melody are pure Ramones. Something's Wrong could be considered an epic at just over 4-minutes long, the majority of songs are under 3-minutes.

Taste Of Cindy is only 1 minute and 42 seconds long - yet the Marychain cram in all kinds of guitar pop wonder and goodness.

Some Candy Talking is just sublime - not on the original vinyl release but added to the CD reissue. It is the sound of the Velvet Underground transported to the West of Scotland in the mid-80's.

You Trip Me Up is brilliant, capturing exactly what the band were about. Alan McGee speaks exceptionally fondly of the Marychain in the incredible Creation Records book My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize. Recognising that the band were still learning how to play and record, but also that they needed to capture a moment in time on records. That rawness is what has kept Psychocandy fresh almost 30-years on.

Monday 3 November 2014

The Possibilities Are Endless

Last night I attended the Glasgow premiere of The Possibilities Are Endless, the new film/documentary on the recovery of Edwyn Collins from a major cerebral haemorrhage in 2005.

As a fan of Edwyn's music, having seen the trailer and read Grace Maxwell's fantastic and deeply personal book Falling and Laughing - The Restoration of Edwyn Collins, I was very keen to see the film at the GFT - especially with the added bonus of a Q&A and short acoustic set afterwards.

The Possibilities Are Endless is a fascinating, beautiful, artistic and moving film, directed with thought, empathy and a real creative flair by Pulse Films.

We are placed inside Edwyn's mind as he wakes from his stroke - the confusion is evident, illustrated by shots of a young boy seemingly drowning, the wind blowing through the grass, a storm brewing, distorted and stuttering words.

There was a Q&A with Edwin, Grace and Ed from Pulse afterwards and the audience learned of how Pulse interviewed Edwyn first (with no cameras), before considering how to set the story to film. Possibly a risky tactic, but one they have pulled off superbly.

At the heart of the film lies a love story, the love between Grace and Edwyn and also that of their love for Helmsdale in the north of Scotland where they are moving to.

There are lovely scenes of them walking through a park and sharing a can of ginger beer, Grace looking on with care as Edwyn attempts to find the words he knows are in there during an interview and the pair of them laughing in a car as they drive to their beloved Helmsdale in the north of Scotland. Grace's encouragement and patience was crucial to Edwyn's recovery.

We learn of how Edwyn could only say 'The possibilities are endless' and 'Grace Maxwell' when he woke from a coma. There is a great TV interview with Edwyn and Grace that ends with Grace strumming Edwyn's guitar as he plays the chords and emotional footage of the moment he returned to the stage.

Throughout the film there are scenes of Edwyn in his Orange Juice days, at his peak (sales wise at least) with the success of A Girl Like You. These work in tandem with the scenes of Edwyn regaining his strength and skills - writing, drawing, singing and creating.

There is humour as well - Edwyn and Grace bounce of each other with real affection that you can't help but smile at times and laugh at others.

What I got from the film is that the possibilities are endless if you have love and support. Edwyn is very lucky to have a lovely partner and the help and support of family, friends and musicians. It's a life affirming film that makes you stop and take stock of your health and those that care about you. I would thoroughly recommend catching it on the big screen if possible or downloading it from iTunes now.