Thursday 30 June 2016

Car Seat Headrest

My friend Rose previously wrote a beautiful guest blog on Father John Misty. Rose has excellent style and taste and I was intrigued to hear her enthuse about a new band I had never heard of called Car Seat Headrest.

So I asked Rose to write another guest blog. Here it is....oh and check out the band - raw, soulful, guitar music. Check Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales for evidence of how they can do gorgeous mellow stuff and easily move to glorious indie guitar rock in the vein of early Strokes with a dash or dose of Parquet Courts.

Car Seat Headrest – Broadcast, Glasgow 23/06/16

Back in February this year, whilst listening to the excellent NPR All Songs Considered podcast on my morning commute, I first heard the song Vincent (all 7 mins and 40 secs of it) by the interestingly named Car Seat Headrest. It's no exaggeration to say that, if I wasn't hurtling along the M80, I would have pulled the car over instantly to listen and appreciate it properly; I was completely blown away by the urgent, indie rock guitar progressions, the clever articulate lyrics that reflect life as a self-aware yet often angst-ridden teen and a fresh, exciting, immersive sound - the likes of which I hadn't heard for many years. I listened to that song on repeat on the commute back home, and in the days to come, telling anyone who would listen how amazing it was.

Seattle based Car Seat Headrest started out life as a solo project by Will Toledo (he has now surrounded himself by some very fine musicians). Toledo is a product of the 'Bandcamp generation' of musicians - those who write, perform, record and distribute their own music through digital channels. To benefit from some privacy in the early days, Toledo recorded his songs on his laptop whilst sitting in the back seat of his parents' minivan in his hometown of Leesburg, Virginia  - hence the Car Seat Headrest moniker. By 2015, at the age of 23, he had recorded and released 11 albums through Bandcamp, gaining a sizeable  cult following online,  and had caught the attention of Matador records, to which he signed that same year. His first release Teens of Style on Matador was a 'best of' of previous material, and was followed with his first proper label release Teens of Denial in May 2016 and an international tour. Toledo is incredibly knowledgeable about music. You can hear his influences spread throughout all of his songs  - reviewers often liken his music to Pavement, Television or Leonard Cohen. I often hear REM, The Strokes, Blur, Nirvana or Okkervil River.  So far, for me, Teens of Denial is the album of year (I have listened to it obsessively since its release 6 weeks ago) and so it was with much excitement and anticipation that we joined 150 or so other fans in a hot and sweaty Broadcast in Glasgow to see and hear Toledo and his band in the flesh.

Will Toledo
Picture by Anna Webber

Over the course of the next 75 mins we were treated to a blistering, relentless, high energy 9-song set.  It was a big old, glorious racket of a gig...and we all loved it. The 10 minute opener  The Ending of Dramamine set the tone, with raw,  brash, duelling guitars and a mixture of both hushed and loud, shouty vocals. A point of note here, on this most recent album in particular , Toledo is not one for a simply constructed 3 minute song; his songs are complex, both in terms of construction and lyrical variety, with multi-layered instrumentation and rarely shorter than 5 minutes in length, with quite a few in the show pushing 10/12 mins long. It's never dull though, because the song progressions shift a number of times and so you often feel you're getting 3 songs for the price of 1. 

The band treat us to a good mixture of old (Sober to Death, Stop Smoking) and new; standouts from his recent album included Fill In The Blank, Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales and the utterly awesome Destroyed by Hippie Powers.  A worthy mention here to his guitarist Ethan Ives; the Carlos Puyol lookalike (this amused me greatly) treated us to some incredible musicianship and some damn fine guitar playing and was the perfect accompaniment to Toledo. The standout track of the night for me (and also from the album itself) was The Ballad of the Costa Concordia - at almost 12 minutes long it can only be described as an 'epic' and has more ideas crammed into one song than some artists achieve on a whole album. It's an ambitious song that progresses from a slow, quiet ballad to a rousing, high tempo finale - with a genius Dido White Flag lyric sample thrown in for good measure; think Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird but only much more epic. It was an absolute joy to see it performed live in all its glory. 

After a closing rendition of Stop Smoking sung solo by Toledo, the crowd waited impatiently for the band to reappear. After much synchronised hand-clapping they did just that and launched into a terrific performance  of Unforgiving Girl (She's Not An). There were a few grumblings of disappointment that it wasn't the aforementioned Vincent - not from me though, it's a fantastic song and I was delighted they played it.

Toledo and his band are incredibly talented and, if there is any justice in the world, this will be the album that brings Car Seat Headrest to a much wider audience. So if you get a chance to catch them while they're still playing small venues then do, cos my prediction is they won't be playing them for much longer.

Friday 24 June 2016

Saint Etienne and The Pastels at the Art School

Last night The Pastels and Saint Etienne clearly nailed their REMAIN EU colours to the mast and they were all too aware that they were playing a show as voting around the UK came to a close. Sadly that flag is flying at half-mast today.

Things were running late as Saint Etienne’s train up to Scotland had been hugely delayed, meaning they only arrived into Central Station at 6pm. Load-in, soundcheck.....

The Pastels took to the stage to cheers and Stephen Pastel was quick to thank people for coming and then voice that the referendum results were weighing heavily on his mind.

The 6-piece line-up (two guitars, bass, drums, keys and flute) started with the (largely) instrumental Slow Summits, the title track from their latest album. The contemplative and reflective song was a perfect opener, certainly giving the audience a chance to think about the night and decision ahead as The Pastels weaved their magic.

Songs from the album made up the majority of the set, Night Time Made Us was a particular highlight with the band gelling together to create something quite gorgeous.

The 6-piece became an 8-piece when they were joined by an extra guitarist and Tracy Anne from Camera Obscura for a delicious romp through Nothing To Be Done. The pace quickened and it sounded sublime.

When I was young
I used to sing
I didn’t care for anything

Tracy Anne departed and Stephen strapped his guitar back on (after a little mis-hap) and the 7-piece line-up of The Pastels had 3 guitars creating a wonderful Velvets meets Spector wall of sound for a stunning version of Baby Honey. Originally released in 1984, the song zips with zest and an electric energy. It was great to see the band play again.

Saint Etienne were a 7-piece for the night. Pete and Bob were set up behind banks of equipment at the back, someone on keys was at one side of the stage, then there was someone on viola, a backing singer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. And then the gorgeous Sarah Cracknell on vocals.

Nothing Can Stop Us opened the show and the band were sounding good. There was a slight technical glitch afterwards, Sarah engaged with the audience but as it dragged on she ended up in fits of giggles before we were back on the way.

The set mixed classic singles with some new(er) album cuts and singles. The audience lapped it up as the band showcased their fantastic mix of pure, melodic, catchy, clubby and cinematic pop.

You’re In A Bad Way was the very first Saint Etienne 7-inch record that I bought, away back in 1993. It still sounds fresh, fun and joyous.  Tonight was a highlight from later day Saint Etienne that will definitely see me delving into some of their more recent albums. It was glorious.

The acidic pop of Like A Motorway was probably my highlight of the night, bubbling synths, beats and a dreamy Sarah Cracknell vocal - sublime.

The Saint Etienne cover version of Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart (that I previously blogged about here) was just perfect, the old synth sounds still sound timeless, futuristic and Young’s lyrics will always ring true.

The encore started with a beautiful rendition of Hobart Paving, with Sarah Cracknell in fine voice. The poetic lyrics paint picture and it was a stunning performance with Sarah really shining.

Pete and Bob came back on and then it was on to pure pop with He’s On The Phone with the seemingly never-ending chorus that flowed and flowed and flowed, as we all danced, sung and raised our hands in the air. The blissful pop removing the referendum result from our minds.....for a while...

Wednesday 22 June 2016

INTERVIEW - Dave McGowan

Imagine being in one of Scotland’s best bands; loads of quality songs, known, loved and appreciated throughout the world, devoted fans.....Imagine being in two of them!!!

Dave McGowan is lucky enough to be in Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian!

2016 is shaping up to be a big year for both, with Belle and Sebastian celebrating a landmark 20th anniversary and Teenage Fanclub gearing up to release a new album.

Ahead of Belle and Sebastian’s 20th anniversary shows at the Royal Albert Hall (and just after a heap of activity in the West End of Glasgow), I caught up with Dave to ask him a few questions.

What comes across in the interview is that Dave is just as big a fan of the two bands as me and everyone else out there. He is living our dreams.

Read on for details about original copies of Tigermilk being used as frisbees following the launch party!!!@!

EF - Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from and when did you first get into music, what kind of bands were you into?

Dave - I’ve always lived in Glasgow, loved The Beatles and soul music as a kid. By my teenage years I was lapping up the guitar groups of the time - My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Pavement, Sonic Youth etc (some better than others). I played in a few groups here and there, broadening the musical spectrum as I got older - kids can be such music snobs!

EF - How did you get involved in the Glasgow music scene? Were there any important bands, people or venues?

Dave - Just being a fan really, hardly a week went by when I wasn’t at the Barrowlands or the Mayfair or the Plaza. Oh God, I sound like a Grandad! It’s all a bit hazy.....Where’s my pills?

EF - What instruments do you play? Do you have a preference?

Dave - In Teenage Fanclub I’m mainly on keyboards, with Belle and Sebastian I’m primarily on bass. But both groups usually like to switch instruments a bit on stage depending on the song, so sometimes I’ll end up on accordion or something, wondering ‘how did this happen?’.....

Guitar, bass, keys, accordion.....all round good guy

EF - Who did you start playing with first? How did you get involved? When did you ‘officially’ become a member of each band?

Dave - Teenage Fanclub first, back in 2004 I think. I’m not ‘officially’ a member of either group - I’m the eternal helper-outer....

EF - It’s the 20th anniversary of Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister for Belle and Sebastian. Did these albums leave a mark on you in your younger days? What is it like revisiting them with the band?

Dave - Yes, they did, absolutely - especially Tigermilk. I remember being at the launch party at the old Cava studio. By the time they were halfway through The State I Am In my jaw was on the floor. They were giving away copies of the LP that night - I still have mine. Although I remember some were being used as frisbees outside afterwards. Disrespectful fools!

EF - Are there any songs from that period in Belle and Sebastian’s history that you are particularly fond of or enjoy playing? 

Dave - There are so many....I mean The State I Am In is about as perfect a song as you’ll ever hear. My Wandering Days Are Over is another favourite.... It’s been a real thrill for me rehearsing all these early songs. Some of the deeper cuts like Mary Jo, I Could Be Dreaming, Put The Book On The Shelf...such great songs.

The State I Am In - ‘about as perfect a song as you’ll ever hear’.

EF - The band were pretty prolific in that period, releasing a number of albums and EP’s. As you revisit the songs (although many have never been far away from set lists), what is it that you think makes them so special?

Dave - I think it was just a magical combination of genius songwriting and being something completely different at the time. Remember this was the mid-90’s, everything was in-your-face and brash and laddish and, well, kind of boring....Here was a group playing amazingly accomplished music with pianos and recorders and orchestral flourishes and they didn’t even appear in their own promo shots! Nobody knew who they were! Brilliant!

EF - On to Teenage Fanclub. You have a new album Here coming out and the band seemed geared up to hit the road and go for it. What is the mood like in the camp at present?

Dave - It’s always exciting when there is a new Fanclub album on the way. I guess they always take a while to appear...I think everyone’s looking forward to playing some shows.

EF - As with the Belle’s question; were you a fan of Teenage Fanclub, are there any albums or songs that you were/are particularly fond of?

Dave - Oh totally! I played all their records to death, even The King! (rare and deleted TFC album) Had their posters on my wall, the whole bit. Again, there’s an embarrassment of riches there - Star Sign always puts me right back in the time and place I first heard it, same goes for everything on Bandwagonesque. There are many I love playing; Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From, I Need Direction, Everything Flows, My Uptight Life, Did I Say....I could go on....

EF - How was that incredible set at Kelvingrove Bandstand back in 2014 (the last time I saw the band) for you on stage?

Dave - I had a great time at Kelvingrove, such a fun show. And crucially, it didn’t rain!

EF - Norman, Gerry and Raymond - 3 fantastic songwriters. When of you first get to hear the songs, are hey in demo form or knocked into shape? 

Dave - They don’t tend to do demos these days. We’ll just head into the rehearsal room and kick them around a bit, or in some cases they don’t start taking shape until we’re actually recording them.

EF - Absence makes the heart grow fonder. How do you feel about doing a ‘weekender’ (TFC play the Barrowland Ballroom and the ABC the first weekend in December) in Glasgow at the end of the year? Are all of the band aware of how fond their fans are of them?

Dave - Probably not, they’re very humble...but that’s why we love ‘em, right?!


EF - Outside of TFC and the Belle’s you are also a member of Snowgoose. Do you have any other musical activities or releases in the pipeline?

Actually I’m no longer involved with Snowgoose, but they’ve been cracking on without me. I believe they have a new LP finished and ready to go. I’ve heard a couple of snippets, it’s sounding fantastic. Nothing else in the pipeline for me right now, not really had the time....


Wednesday 15 June 2016

Belle and Sebastian at GUU

Belle and Sebastian didn’t roll back the years last night, they celebrated them, all twenty years of them. They celebrated them with some of their closest family, friends and fans in a location that was even closer to their ‘home turf’ than the celebrated Kelvingrove Bandstand show a couple of summers back.

The band were asked to get involved with the West End Festival which was celebrating its 21st anniversary. As Belle and Sebastian are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister (nicely referred to as the ‘Red’ album by Stuart) albums, the band set about planning a series of events that culminated in 3 nights at Glasgow University Union Debating Chambers.

Prior to that we had the Train In Vain punk workout with Stuart, a series of films at the Grosvenor Cinema in Ashton Lane and a Sunday Social event at Oran Mor with some of their favourite local bands.

Last night (Tuesday) was the second of the 3-nights in the stunning yet intimate venue. A band called Life Model were the support and the 3-songs I caught at the end of their set will definitely encourage me to seek them out online and I’d like to catch them again. A 4-piece with 2 boys and 2 girls, they looked the part and sounded scuzzy and old school indie.  Rather nice.

On to the main event though. A string and horn section took to the stage and then the band ambled on and played a short instrumental (F**k This Shit), with Stevie on mouth organ, before Stuart joined them, strapped on a guitar and they were off and into possibly my favourite Belle and Sebastian song - Dirty Dream #2.

The last time I had seen the band live was at the Hydro when Stuart and Stevie were probably 50 feet apart. Here they were almost touching each other and the chemistry was fantastic as they bopped, shimmied and stamped in time to the beats.

Step Into My Office Baby was even more joyful and playful than it is on record. Beautiful melodies, twists, turns and flows and the band in sensational form with the string section lifting things even higher.

Stuart has an incredible ability to make even the largest venue (Bandstand/Hydro) seem intimate. He didn’t need to reach deep into his bag of (natural) tricks to create intimacy last night, but his between song banter, nods to friends in the audience (including his vicar) and desire to get people up on stage for a couple of songs only heightened the atmosphere. It was friendly, a celebration of his band and it was great fun.

Highlighting the fun aspect was when Stevie and Stuart discussed whether the Glasgow Uni Union or the QM Union had the best laundry. Stevie told of sneaking in to use their laundry by pretending to be a student!

Stevie is my favourite guitar player. He makes it look easy and he makes it look fun. The whole band were in sensational form last night; super tight.

Dog On Wheels was probably my personal highlight of the night. The song has such a beautiful feel to it, a couple of chords, the soaring sing-a-long trumpet, the poetic lyrics and a classic Belles melody.

I’ll be publishing another couple of blogs in the near future on 20-years of Belle and Sebastian, one will be a guest blog by my friend Joanne who is heading down to see the band at one of their Royal Albert shows at the end of the month.

Belle and Sebastian are a truly special band and it was lovely to celebrate their music, from the start to the present, in such a stunning and intimate venue in the West End of Glasgow.

Monday 13 June 2016

Ette at Oran Mor

Last night saw the debut performance of Ette, the solo project by my sister Carla J Easton, also of TeenCanteen.

2015 was an extremely productive year for Carla, with loads of new songs written for the forthcoming TeenCanteen album and then a fresh batch written over a couple of months in the summer that Carla didn’t want to sit on. Instead she hooked up with Joe Kane from Dr Cosmos Tape Lab and recorded an album in just  5-days in his garage studio. Joe produced and played guitar and drums on the album and they co-wrote the sublime disco summer pop song Heaven Knows.

Joe Kane and Carla Easton had never met until last summer

The fresh and quick approach to writing and recording has resulted in a beautiful, psychedelic pop album titled Homemade Lemonade that will be released on Olive Grove Records on 22nd July. They have already found a fan in Marc Riley from BBC 6 Music who played opening track Attack of the Glam Soul Cheerleaders on his show a couple of weeks ago and promptly invited them for a session.

The songs seems to have a habit of finding fans instantly. Within days of finishing the album, Carla sent them on to Lloyd at Olive Grove Records who immediately declared that he would love to release the album in the summer of 2016.

And here we are....

Ette’s debut album will be released on 22nd July

The West End Festival had kindly given Olive Grove Records a showcase at the beautiful Oran Mor, situated at the top of Byres Road. It was a fantastic opportunity for the boutique DIY label to highlight their taste and style. Call To Mind and The Moth and the Mirror are established acts on the label, however the two headline acts were playing their first ever performances!

The Royal Male (excellent name) is the solo project of Ali from Woodenbox. Ali wrote a batch of songs that were centred around the piano. His 4-piece band also had an excellent drummer, a trumpet player and a violinist. The 4 conjured up some rather beautiful songs, gaining confidence the longer the set went on and ending with (for me) their best song; one that allowed Ali to open up on vocals to display real strength and soul in his voice. The musicianship was first class throughout.

On to Ette. They absolutely smashed it out the park!

Carla had recruited a quite incredible band to back her up; John Nicol from Hidden Masters on drums, Deborah Smith from TeenCanteen on harmonies, percussion and effects, Paul Kelly from How To Swim on synths and bass, Reggie House (still don’t know what his real name is!) from BooHooHoo on synths, with Joe on guitar and Carla also on synths and keys.

They romped through opener Attack Of The Glam Soul Cheerleaders (Parts 1 and 2) with real confidence, getting the crowd on their side from the off. People came down from the bar and in from the sides, always a good sign!

The band looked the part from the off, creating a wall of sound that was aided by the superb Oran Mor sound system. Joe would turn and raise his guitar to John on drums, driving him on. They were brilliant to watch.

Bones was a highlight for me, the flowing melody is simply stunning. I Hate You Song was another favourite, delivered with humour and venom.

I hate you but I hate that I once loved you even more

Bonfires turned dub raga with the pop hooks remaining, Bird In The Sky was psychedelic pop bliss before the set closed with the stunning disco pop of Heaven Knows - the sound of summer.

This band was really put together specifically for this show, but given the response from the crowd and the fun they had on stage, I hope they’ll continue for a while to come.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

4 dates with The Boss

Away back in 2002 I became friends with Ian Pilbeam, a fellow Manchester United supporter and music fan. We signed up to do a trek in the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa for Maggie’s Centres and hit it off in the lead up to, during and after the trek. There were laughs, tears, beers by the campfire at night and lots of chats as we kept each other going. It was a magical and inspirational trip that really led to me changing career to work in the voluntary sector. I’m pleased to say that we are still friends.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been enjoying Ian’s social media posts on his pilgrimage around the UK to catch Bruce Springsteen live on four occasions. So I thought I would ask him to write a blog....and he duly delivered on the train home from it is....

Ian’s blog

4 shows, 132 songs, 57 different tracks, over 13-hours on stage, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town in May in a rainy Manchester; no-one else does it quite like Bruce Springsteen. That’s why they call him ‘The Boss’ and the four UK dates I was privileged to attend over a magical 11-day period were testimony to the endurance, creativity and sense of occasion of this musical leviathan.

Four years ago I had never seen Springsteen live. I was a fan but for some reason had never got round to it. But the first show was a game changer. I had never seen an artist hold a massive crowd in the palm of his hand for over 3-hours.

Backed by a stellar line-up of musical heavyweights in the legendary E Street Band, with nephew Jake Clemons now wielding the saxophone following the sad passing of his Uncle Clarence, the whole band wind their way through his diverse catalogue, much like a review band, conducted by their inspirational leader.

Be it rock classics such as Born To Run or Because the Night, soul covers like Shout, the gospel tinged City of Ruins, stadium anthems like Badlands and The Rising, or 80’s pop classics such as Dancing In The Dark and Glory Days, this musical legend has quite an armoury to choose from. And he uses it to the full, throwing curve balls a plenty, accepting sign requests for songs and involving the audience all the way through each show. The Boss knows how to party.

Bruce in the Manchester rain

Springsteen is not afraid to dive deep into his catalogue, starting two of the shows at the piano playing early album tracks unaccompanied and finishing each show with just his guitar, mouth organ and the lusty audience for either This Hard Land or Thunder Road, returning to the folk poet ground that led him to be declared as the future of rock and roll over 40-years ago,

And a word for the band of devoted fans, many of whom have travelled round the world to see him over many years. As a late convert it was a joy to spend so much tome with some wonderful people in the long hours of queuing for the pit. And to share some of the unforgettable on stage moments, brought to an overwhelming crescendo by the majesty of his powerful masterpiece of Jungleland resounding around a sold out Wembley Stadium on the final gig of this UK leg of the River Tour 2016.

Worth the wait in the queue!

This was preceded by a tribute to the recently passed Mohammed Ali Tougher Than The Rest.

Some might say it is The Boss who is the Greatest and I for one would not disagree.

Tuesday 7 June 2016


Cover version of the month #13

Johnny Cash covers Nine Inch Nails - Hurt

I remember hearing this song and watching the video for the first time. It truly stopped me in my tracks - the feeling, the emotion, the soul, the pain....the hurt. It was written all over the faces of Johnny and June Cash, it was in Cash’s voice, trembling yet finding strength to sing the heartfelt lyrics.

The song is a cover version of Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor’s version conveys the same emotion, soul, passion and hurt. It is far from the industrial metal that Nine Inch Nails are more known for.

Hurt was originally released on the Nine Inch Nails album The Downward Spiral. It certainly fits in with that title, as Reznor takes a look at his life and of those around them; the self harm, the addiction, the desolate bleakness of it all.

The Cash version is breathtaking. The basic piano note being played over and over with increasing intensity is so simple yet so effective. The performance is simply spellbinding. 

American IV: The Man Comes Around was the fourth album in Cash’s American series - produced by Rick Rubin. There are plenty of covers, including stunning versions of Wichita Lineman and In My Life. Cash’s aged voice adds extra edge to lyrics like 

And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time - from Wichita Lineman

But of all these friends and lovers, there is no-one compares with you - from In My Life

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

Monday 6 June 2016

Neil Young at the Hydro

Emmm WOW!

The man in black, photo by Ross Gilmore, Getty Images

Neil Young came into Glasgow last night, backed by his new young band Promise of the Real (who include 2 of Willie Nelson’s sons) and delivered a truly incredible 2.5 hour set.

Anticipation was high in the bars in the Finnieston area of Glasgow that has been transformed by ‘the Hydro effect’. Bars and cafes squeezed tables and chairs on to the pavements of the west end of Argyle Street to make the most of the glorious sunshine, there was a fine selection of Neil Young t-shirts from across the years and I even bumped into some old school friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen in over 20-years!

We could see Neil’s band hanging out behind the Hydro as we walked over the bridge to the venue. Any thoughts of the top tier being closed for the night were banished as the venue was a near sell out to see the maestro play.

Young has always had a close affinity with Glasgow and there was a hushed anticipation as the lights came down, before a spotlight picked out 2 people walking across the stage throwing what looked like chicken feed/corn or something across the floor.

While this was going on we didn’t notice a silent figure, dressed in black, slink to an organ. The spotlight dropped, a new one shone on Neil Young sitting at the organ and he began to play After The Gold Rush. Young changed the lyrics to say look at mother nature on the run in the 21st century, highlighting that the concerns he voiced in the 70’s are even more urgent now.  Much of Young’s new material voices his concerns for the state of the planet.

The audience response was incredible, there were loud cheers when Young played his mouth organ. Young rose from the organ and strapped on an acoustic guitar as he strode to the centre of the stage and then he played one of my favourite songs from his exceptional catalogue - Heart Of Gold.

Mark and I looked at each other in astonishment. What an opening! Mark had been yearning for Young to play some acoustic stuff and he was about to be truly spoiled. We couldn’t have asked for better seats, in the club section, centre stage behind the sounddesk. What a view.

A spotlight shines on Neil Young as he plays Heart of Gold

The Needle and the Damage Done was spine tingling, Young looked timeless, dressed in black with his wide brimmed hat pulled down to create shadows, he could have time travelled from the 70’s. The cameras strained to find the light to show his face on the big screens, when it did we were treated to smiles and the sight of an artist in full flight.

The setlist below highlights what an incredible set it was, with lots of material from Harvest.

A near 20-minute version of Down By The River might have blown the roof off an older venue, Young’s band were super tight and super loose, the best kind.

There were 3 electric guitars, creating a beautiful raw and powerful sound, playing with each other, giving each other space and locking in for riffs and grooves. The bass kept it all together, allowing the guitars and drums to really go for it when required, also allowing them to drop out and leave lots of space at others. It was a joy to watch such talented musicians.

Neil and his band locked in a groove

There were 4 part harmonies that raised the hairs on my arms and sent tingles down my spine. The young band looked so happy to be playing with Neil, the drummer didn’t have a mic to join in the harmonies but cameras caught him singing a-long.

Interviews with Young highlight that his band have learned 100+ songs and that they don’t have a setlist, they just make it up as the go. There was evidence of this as they quickly got together between songs to decide what to play next. They made a mockery of the huge venue ‘Quite a place you got here Glasgow’ by all standing and facing each other at times, just lost in the music, they could have been playing in Sleazys basement given the fact that they were so close together at times - vibing off each other.

Young is 71 in November this year, there are legends that come to Glagsow and you think ‘oh i’d better go and see them, they might not be back’. Young shows no signs of letting up, he continues to release material regularly and his new band seem to have lifted him, he looks strong and full of energy.

The full setlist is noted below. I hope to see Neil and his exceptional band back in Glasgow in the not too distant future.

Neil Young and Promise of the Real setlist, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Sunday 5th June 2016

After the Gold Rush
Heart of Gold
The Needle and the Damage Done
Comes A Time
Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)
Out on the Weekend
Unknown Legend
Peace of Mind
Words (Between the Lines of Age)
Down by the River
I’ve Been Waiting For You
Mansion on the Hill
Western Hero
After the Garden
Monsato Years
Wolf Moon
Love and Only Love
F**kin’ Up

Friday 3 June 2016

Last Night From Glasgow Records launch

Stephen Solo captivating the LNFG launch crowd

Well..... I’m not quite sure what I was expecting or hoping for from the launch party of Last Night From Glasgow Records last night, but I’ve been buzzing all day and I really don’t think it could have gone any better.

You can read my blog from March on co-founding the label. Rather a lot has happened since then!

Our first four releases are sorted;

Mark W Georgsson (and friends) - The Ballad of the Nearly Man, AA-sided 7-inch single

Emme Woods - I Don’t Drink To Forget, 7-inch single

Stephen Solo - Pii, USB credit card album

TeenCanteen - Say It All With A Kiss, album

We also have acclaimed Scottish photographer Brian Sweeney on board as artistic director. Brian has shot the cover art for the first two releases and is currently editing videos. I’ll be blogging about both as soon as they are ready for release.

We have also surpassed our target of 100 members! We were going to cap it at 100, but the interest levels are high so we’ll review at 125, but will definitely cap at 150 for management and admin purposes!

Alan Morrison also wrote a lovely piece on the label HERE

But on to last night....

Doors were at half seven on a scorching day in Glasgow. Entry was free, invite only, I did wonder if people would just go to a beer garden or a park, but no, at 7.45pm people started to trickle into the brilliant loft space up the stairs in the Old Hairdressers and we were on.

One of the many magical things about last night was the fact that so many people came on their own. It was a members only night (with the odd guestlist place for friends of the artists). We could manage a few plus ones, but couldn’t accommodate one for every member.

This created a great atmosphere. People were introduced to each other, talked about how they found out about the label, where they were from, their taste in music. It was lovely to watch and be part of.

One girl Kerry told me that she had felt disconnected from the music scene since becoming a Mum almost 3-years ago and joining the label had made her feel part of it again. The six of us who formed the label naturally roped in some friends at first to get things going, but now it is purely organic and growing by word of mouth. So it was brilliant meeting people we had only previously spoken with online and hearing them talk so enthusiastically about our idea and venture.

Ian, Ross, me, Joe, Andy and Stephen - the ‘board’ of LNFG Records 

The six of us, Ian, Ross, Stephen (not solo), Andy, Joe and I got up at the start to thank everyone for their faith in us and our idea for the label and then it was on with the show.

Stephen Solo was on first. I’ve known Stephen for 7-years and I had never seen him so nervous. We’re releasing (not officially until August but you can buy it now) an album he recorded on his iPhone6 called Pii. Stephen pretty much made it up as he went along and never intended for it to be released, let alone played live.

So Stephen introduced himself and his worries about his performance. He then promptly sent jaws dropping and spines tingling all over the room with a truly stunning 5-song set. The crowd responded warmly and Stephen delivered.

There were many brilliant moments from last night, but one that will live long in the memory was Stephen’s performance of Crying Because (Love Is Everything) which was utterly gorgeous. Backed only by a ukelele and a little bit of effect on his voice, Stephen produced a moment of emotional genius.

Watching people congratulate Stephen afterwards warmed my heart. Hearing that someone told Stephen’s wife Hayley that the £50 membership for the label was worth it just for that performance was incredible.

You can watch the homemade video (also recorded on his iPhone6) below and order his astonishing album on a supercool USB credit card HERE

So I mentioned there were many brilliant moments from last night. Another one was the fact that no-one spoke during songs! Maybe the odd whisper, but you could listen to and enjoy the artists! I’m amazed at going to gigs where people constantly talk through a show.

Next up was young Emme Woods who used to release under the guise of Something, Someone until she recently bought an electric guitar and sent us her first demos.

Morgan (Emme) played her first set with an electric guitar and cleverly created little riffs which she looped to create grooves, delivering a beautiful heartfelt set that again gathered a great response.

Morgan had the confidence to play a song that she had only just written and she also delivered an ABBA cover version (SOS), stripping it back to the bare bones to let you hear the dark lyrics beneath the shiny pop song.

Morgan’s single will be out in July before her headline show at King Tut’s on July 25th.

Cover art for Emme Woods debut single

Headlining the show was Mark W Georgsson, our first release OUT TODAY

Prior to Mark coming on, I had the pleasure to say a few words to thank Brian Sweeney who then premiered the video to accompany the single. It is beautiful and I’ll be blogging on the single and the video as soon as it is ready.

Brian also said a few words; highlighting how the label is encouraging artists and creativity. It is a genuine pleasure to have him on board.

Mark had pulled together a 6-piece band to back him. Their soundcheck was wonderful, the band were shit hot and could jam away no problem, creating a brilliant loose country vibe.

Mark and friends in soundcheck

Tino, Michael and Robbie from The Bar Dogs, Richard and Dave from The Strange Blue Dreams and the gorgeous Katie McArthur to duet on the single.

They looked the part, a double bass for some songs, a violin, Mark and Tino interacting superbly on guitars. And they sounded the part, delivering a set that ranged from beautifully sparse ballads to blistering country rock, with the odd Americana gem in between.

And then there was time for everyone to mingle and chat some more. The support and feedback about the label and the night was pretty mind-blowing.

Stay tuned!

Thursday 2 June 2016

June 2016 podcast

Everything Flows Podcast #9 - May 2016

This month’s podcast ranges from the sexual electronica pop of Happy Meals, the futuristic soul of HONNE with Izzy Bizu, to the fragile New Order-esque bedroom recording by Broken by Rock with all other kinds of delicious things in between including one of my favourite songs by Belle and Sebastian and a Beach Boys cover version by BMX Bandits.

I Don’t Mind by Twerps is absolutely brilliant, glorious and euphoric indie guitar music, while Like A Hurricane by Neil Young simply soars.


If You Want Me Now - Happy Meals
Someone That Loves You - HONNE and Izzy Bizu
Brittle - Broken by Rock
This Is Just A Modern Rock Song - Belle and Sebastian
Forever - BMX Bandits
I Don’t Mind - Twerps
Like A Hurricane - Neil Young

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

Podcast #7 featuring Catholic Action, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals, The Supremes, George Carrow, Prophets, LCD Soundsystem

Podcast #8 featuring The Pooh Sticks, In Embrace, Another Sunny Day, The Pastels, Teleman, The Beach Boys, Stone Poneys, Sebadoh, The Vaselines