Tuesday 26 April 2016

Francis the Great - Look Up In The Sky

Click on the YouTube link below and listen to Look Up In The Sky, an exceptionally fresh, beautiful and funky track by Francis the Great that I heard on Lauren Laverne’s headphone moment today.

It is over 12-minutes of stretched out afro-funk-soul by the best French and Cameroonian musicians from the time with a 7-year old singing/talking over the top. It was recorded in France in 1977

When I look up I see the birds
In the sky I see birds fly

Look up, look up, look up in the sky

The groove is infectious, punctuated by horns, the vocal is so pure - like only a 7-year old could do, there are some crazy synth solos over the top of the funky guitar, the beats are relentless, keeping it all going and keeping it all together.

The song is over 12-minutes long and is one of 2-tracks on an album(?) entitled Ravissante Baby. The other song is the title track that is also over 12-minutes long.

But yeah, take Lauren’s suggestion and stick your headphones on and then click below for the incredible Look Up In The Sky and enjoy.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Spinning Coin

Spinning Coin are a relatively new band from Glasgow made up of Cal Donnelly, Chris White, Jack Mellin and Sean Armstrong.

The 4-piece have just released Albany on 7-inch via The Pastel’s Geographic Records.

Spinning Coin have produced something that equally sounds like they really care about what they are doing and like they don’t give a f**k and are making music for no-one but themselves. That, at least for me, is usually a good place for a band or artist to be.

In a little over two-and-a-half minutes, Spinning Coin deliver a beautiful, raw gem. The guitars are gloriously scuzzy, fuzzy and soulful, the drums and cymbals keep things going and the vocals are pure, dreamy and true.

There are so many things I’ve never even considered

Stephen Pastel is always good for a quote and has said; ‘Albany reminds me most of a feeling I had at the end of the Boy Hairdressers and the beginning of Teenage Fanclub. There was never enough of that. Spinning Coin, so good.’

Sean Armstrong from the band was kind enough to answer a few questions I emailed over. Read on for a little more info and forthcoming live dates.

Spinning Coin - Interview

1. How did Spinning Coin form?

Spinning Coin formed and mutated from a band billed as 'the sean armstrong experience': a group formed to showcase the songs of one of our members within a bassment gig type scenario.

2. How quickly did you start to write/create songs/music? 

The band very quickly became a collaborative project creatively. We had some things we made up and would play on each other's songs and then we would meet in the middle sometimes.

3. You released some material though Fuzzkill Records who are becoming vital in helping bands develop. How did you get involved with them? 

We met Ross at music shows around Glasgow. We just sort of became friends i guess.

4. What other current bands from Glasgow do you like? 

breakfast muff, seconds, rapid tan, big boys' karaoke, hans greene, smack wizards, sharptooth (rip), anxiety, happy meals, antique pony, chump, in posterface, vital idles, leacher, mordwaffe, sick of talk, the modern institute, the yawns, psychic soviets, the pastels...to name a few. there are so many. glasgow is currently where the magic is at.

5. What kind of stuff are you listening to at present?

Stuff that focuses in on, attempts to explain or accentuates the grey areas in life and the cosmos: I (Sean) have been listening to a lot of friends' music. Also Kate Bush, some Subway Sect...Swell Maps.

6. You’ve just brought out your new single on Geographic/Domino. How much of a step up does that feel like?

Perhaps it feels like a step out rather than just a step up. What we have been doing up til now feels just as important, but it feels like this part of our journey will help us to reach a wider audience.

7. Stephen Pastel has been promoting and helping young bands for over 30-years, including the likes of Jesus and Marychain and Primal Scream. Has he given you any advice? 

Stephen's not really the sort to break out with big rules to live by, or with universal truisms...a calming and nurturing influence for sure. He told me to get a tuner pedal!

8. What’s next for Spinning Coin? Are you working towards an album?

Practice practice practice, with some experimentation thrown in, and some live appearances. We are looking forward to releasing our first album, and have 20 songs recorded, provisionally labeled as demos. For now we are preoccupied in building a rocket to launch ourselves into space.

9. Any shows coming up?

24th April - Glasgow, 13th Note

12th of May - Glasgow, The Poetry Club

13th May - Glasgow,13th Note Restless Natives Festival

14th May - Manchester, Fuel Cafe Bar

15th May - Brighton, Hope and Ruin (matinee gig)

16th May - London, New River Studios

17th May - Cardiff, Joy Collective

4th June - Inverness, Brew at the Bog Festival

25th June - Glasgow, CCA w/ Vic Godard and The Subway Sect

Sunday 17 April 2016

Record Store Day 2016

Record Store Day 2016

I really enjoyed Record Store Day 2016 in Glasgow. I visited Love Music and Monorail; bought some records, caught some live music, met some friends and also had a great family day out with my wife and 2 daughters. The sunshine even appeared in the afternoon, perfect for a few beers outside Mono.

Zoe and I caught the 1pm train into Glasgow and headed straight to Love Music to look for the Ette album Homemade Lemonade. Not due until July, Olive Grove Records released 10 copies to Love Music for Record Store Day.

The added incentive was that Zoe is on the cover - Ette is the solo project by my sister Carla who is in TeenCanteen.

Zoe and I were filmed in Love Music and you can see us at 40-seconds in, I’m also back in at 2 minutes 20 seconds.

Love Music had wisely decided to put live bands on in The Vale pub, mere yards from the store. While this took some of the buzz away from the shop, it meant that those purely interested in shopping had space (sometimes) to move. The store was busy and the half a dozen staff that were on looked tired but happy.

Space is at a premium in Love Music and putting the bands on in The Vale meant that people could get a drink and catch bands like Man of Moon and hotly tipped artist Be Charlotte alongside DJ’s from Podcart and Scottish Fiction.

We hot footed it over to Monorail and immediately bumped into friends Ben, Matt, Alison, Anissa and young 15-month old Martha sitting outside. Zoe and I attempted to go record shopping, but as it was mobbed we settled for a beer (me) and some chocolate and water (Zoe) and went outside for a natter.

Monorail and Mono Cafe Bar make a real effort to include youngsters and they had face painting and arts and crafts for the kids. Zoe got a fairy tattoo on her arm and I got a RSD16 tattoo!

My wife Lynn and youngest Rosie joined us and I finally got into the record store and bought releases by The Charlatans - Trouble Understanding (Norman Cook remix), Primal Scream - Mantra For A State of Mind - a cover of S-Express with Jason Pierce on guitar and a beautiful 7-inch by Glasgow band Spinning Coin - Albany. (blog coming soon).

I bumped into Greg from Machines In Heaven who will be dropping their new album in May. They’ve already released this gem 20xx and Greg was talking passionately about the album and the process behind the way they recorded it. Expect a blog and interview in the future.

Emma Pollock started a live set at 4pm, playing a beautiful old guitar. I was right down the front with Zoe and I couldn’t help think about how positive it was that Zoe (4) was able to watch Emma playing live at such close proximity and at such a young age. I swapped with Lynn halfway through the set and went outside with Rosie, but was able to bring her in to take this cracking picture.

It was a top day - records, music, family, friends, beer, sunshine and Glasgow. I need to make sure I have another day like this soon!

Friday 8 April 2016

Guiding Star

Cover of the month #11

Guiding Star - The Pastels

Katrina and Stephen, New York City, 1995

Don’t you think you’ve heard this song before?

So sings Katrina Mitchell, drummer and co-singer from The Pastels. As Guiding Star is a cover version of West Coast of Scotland contemporaries Teenage Fanclub, the chances are/were that a lot of their own fans will/would have.

The line has added irony due to the fact that Gerry Love (who wrote the song and sang the original on Bandwagonesque) from Teenage Fanclub plays and sings backing vocals on The Pastels version. I can imagine there were a few smiles in the studio as Katrina was singing that line.

Bandwagonesque came out in 1991, with Spin magazine declaring it album of the year ahead of the likes of Nevermind, Screamadelica, Out Of Time, Blue Lines and Loveless.

Guiding Star was the penultimate song on a glorious album of guitar music. Fuzzy and controlled distorted guitars are played over a warm acoustic, Fanclub voices combine to create a sense of dreamy, psychedelic calmness as the album heads towards conclusion with Is This Music?

The Pastels version (below) has a different kind of calmness to it - a velvet-y (underground) lullaby with Katrina’s pure vocals, raw guitars and the melody picked out on a glockenspiel (?).

Stephen Pastel had this to say on their Facebook page very recently (pushing the cover of the month I had planned back to next month);

‘We recorded it in Stuffhouse Studio, off Great Western Road, Glasgow in 1994 or 1995. We rehearsed there often - mainly Annabel, Katrina and me, but sometimes with David (Keegan) or Jonathan (Kilgour) or Gerard (Love). We would get a sandwich from Bakehaus on the way to the studio, so it always felt like a conceptualised event although our playing was often the opposite. The guys who ran it were brilliant and had a group called The Ocean who could properly play their instruments. They seemed to like us too and painted a room for us and encouraged us to record there. We started Mobile Safari there before moving on to CaVa which was very plush in comparison. I can’t remember why we recorded this but it sounds nice and Gerard is obviously playing and singing too. It’s been out of print for too long, a definite contender for inclusion on a retrospective.’

This follows on from Stephen confirming that The Pastels would be working on archive project this year when I spoke with him a couple of months ago in Mono. As someone who discovered The Pastels in the early 1990’s, I’m excited by the prospect of gems like this receiving a welcome issue alongside songs like early Creation singles Something’s Going On and the quite stunning Million Tears that I sadly only discovered via YouTube earlier this year.

I’ve read a lot of books on alternative Scottish music and The Pastels (and Stephen in particular) is a name that crops up regularly. They actively encouraged and supported countless bands back in the day (The Vaselines, Teenage Fanclub and Jesus and Marychain to name but 3) and that still happens today through their Geographic label and over the counter and across cups of coffee in Monorail/Mono.

An archive project/anthology/re-releases will be very welcome, highlighting the incredible output of The Pastels and I’m sure the blogs and articles that come out of the project will also highlight the bands importance in indie/alternative music.

This is a beautiful heartfelt cover version. Enjoy.

Previous covers of the month

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Teleman at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut

Every so often I ask one of my friends to write a guest blog if they are particularly passionate about a band, album, song or show.

Last night my friend Ian Smith went to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut to see Teleman. Ian waxed so lyrically about them earlier on today that I asked him to write a guest blog....and here it is.


Every now and then a band stops you dead in your tracks and delivers a performance that makes you not only question what you originally expected of them but of live music as a medium in its entirety. So it was last night at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, wherein Teleman delivered a performance so driven, so structured and so utterly mind boggling in its command of song structure and set architecture that it leaves you wondering how any other artists could even dream of entering a similar ball park.

Formed in 2012 Teleman a London 4 piece, consisting of brothers Thomas and Johnny Sanders (vocals, guitar) and (keyboards) respectively, Pete Cattermoul (bass) and Hiro Amamiya (drums), have garnered steady critical acclaim, regulars on the Radio 6 play list, they have drawn comparisons with Depeche Mode, OMD and our very own Belle and Sebastian (thanks mainly to Johnny’s fragile vocals and literary writings. “Glasgow has some lovely Buildings but this song is called “English Architecture” “ he announced before delivering another stomping journey through 1970’s krautrock.

The evening began in the unassuming manner I originally expected, little stage chat, simple melodies, fuzzy yet precise guitar work all under pinned by the relentless progression of Hiro’s drumming. The audience swayed and applauded politely, new songs were gradually introduced - their new album is released on Friday and was on sale at the Merch Stand. 

Usually when a band announces a new song in a set you can feel the rumbles of discontent wave through the audience, however after appreciating that the new Teleman were a whole different proposition, anticipation grew with every announcement.

The old songs were greeted with enthusiasm and had been beefed up to allow for their new found love of the guitar as a dominant force in the music, the whole set began to feel like a carefully crafted attempt to waive bye to the old perky Teleman and introduce a new beast, all strobe lights, looping riffs and thumping bass lines. When the main set finished, I looked exhausted, from all the dancing, to my friend Stephen “I thought they might be good” he said “but thats a whole different thing!” 

They returned to an ecstatic crowd and blasted straight into their latest single Dusseldorf imagine Stuart Murdoch duet-ing with Sparks Put On Put On Your Favourite Song he sings before unleashing a guitar riff that Franz Ferdinand would kill to have written. The set finished with 8 epic minutes of loops, feedback and pounding melody - suddenly it felt like 1990, I could have been in a Glasgow Warehouse at 3am, such was the infectious desire to shake loose and lose yourself in the music. 

It’s All In My Mind, It’s All In My Mind, It’s All In My Mind 

I can assure you that the 75 minutes of melody, chaos and control delivered by these folks at the peak of their power will live long in my mind

You can hear Dusseldorf the new singe here 

Friday 1 April 2016

April 2016 Podcast

Everything Flows - April 2016 podcast

Artschool guitar pop by Glasgow’s Catholic Action, ferocious electronica by Primal Scream, blissed out psychedelia by the Super Furries who play Kelvingrove Bandstand in August, northern soul numbers from the Supremes, George Carrow and Prophets ahead of the third Barraloadasoul in May and a beauty from LCD Soundsystem who have made a welcome return and play T in the Park in July.


L.U.V - Catholic Action
When The Blackout Meets The Fallout - Primal Scream
Juxtaposed With You - Super Furry Animals
Stoned Love - The Supremes
Angel Baby - George Carrow
I Got The Fever - Prophets
Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem

Previous Everything Flows Podcasts

Podcast #1 featuring Teenage Fanclub, David Bowie, Dr Cosmos Tape Lab, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, JR Green, The Undertones

Podcast #2 featuring The Troggs, Happy Meals, Rose McDowall, The Frank Popp Ensemble, Fun Boy Three, Jo Mango and The Pictish Trail, Miaoux Miaoux, Yo La Tengo

Podcast #3 featuring Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Marlena Shaw, Natalie Prass, November Lights, Molly Nilsson

Podcast #4 featuring The Chemical Brothers with Beck, The Charlatans (Brian Jonestown Massacre mix), BMX Bandits, Edwyn Collins, The Parliaments, K-Klass, White

Podcast #5 -Tim Peaks Electric Fields line-up featuring The Charlatans, Yucatan, Blueprint Blue, Documents, TeenCanteen, Horsebeach, Hot Vestry, Riding the Low, Tim Burgess

Podcast #6 featuring JR Green, Hinds, The Groove, Doug Tuttle, Second Hand Marching Band, Emma Pollok, David Bowie, Lesley Gore

Catholic Action and Bellybuttons at Nice n Sleazys

Glasgow has a fine history of guitar pop bands with a sense of humour, intelligence, fun and a gang mentality - think Orange Juice, Teenage Fanclub, Belle and Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand. Last night Nice n Sleazys fell in love with Catholic Action who showed all the signs required to join those mentioned above in the near future.

Of course, many had already fallen for the band who showed so much promise through 2015 (see my interview with singer Chris from Dec 2015 HERE ), a few more had been added following the re-release of their song L.U.V as a 7-inch single on Luv Luv Luv Records. The song had originally been released on cassette through local label Fuzzkill Records.

I have been really impressed with the taste and work ethic of Fuzzkill and one their other bands, The Bellybuttons, were second on the bill. Sadly due to kid duties (and a swift pint in The Variety) my mate and I didn’t make it in time to see The Van T’s who opened an excellent 3 band bill.

We arrived bang on 9pm just as The Bellybuttons were tuning up and turning on. Joe and I had both caught them at Mono back in November when they supported Ultimate Painting and had enjoyed their guitar interplay (think Velvets and Pavement). The band were clearly having fun on stage and during Battling With Caring they had the confidence and skills to slow things down and go into a Dexy’s style talking mode all about the subject of care and caring. It was brilliant and really got the crowd on their side. Bellybuttons were beautifully tight and slack at the same time, finding a sound and a groove and jamming on it with Lou Reed style vocals at times - I look forward to seeing them again in the near future.

Catholic Action came on stage at 10pm promptly, thanked the crowd and burst into life. You know how I mentioned about those classic bands having a gang mentality? Catholic Action look like a real gang, like a band. They were super tight, flying through 3-minute guitar pop/rock songs with ease.

Catholic Action marry frenetic rhythm and lead guitar superbly, echoes of Thin Lizzy at times (playful, melodic, soulful, poppy) and also a touch of AC/DC (or am I going too far?) - but in a guitar pop/rock way. Simplistic disco/soul baselines and funky/simple beats help allow the duelling guitars to play and gel beautifully, with both guitarists showing fantastic skills and ears for rhythm, melody, riffs and fun. They pulled it off with ease, making their songs sound familiar yet different - does that make sense?!

Probably not! But think Franz Ferdinand and early Teenage Fanclub in a basement bar, the band brimming with energy and belief.

New songs mixed with old - not that any are that old, the band only formed in November 2014! They tore through L.U.V and must have knocked 10-second off its already poptastic 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Encore? Well the band literally went off for 10-seconds before bounding back on to play a song dedicated to an X-Factor judge. Rita Ora was the subject of a quite brilliant upbeat guitar pop/rock song with a hooky chorus playing on her name.

I mentioned humour and fun in the opening paragraph and Catholic Action displayed it in abundance by finishing with a stunning version of Hi Ho Silver Lining, ripping through it with style and panache.