Friday 29 December 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 18

Welcome to the latest additions to The Never Ending Mixtape, which smashes the 400 song barrier without breaking sweat as a whole heap of songs are added to my Spotify Playlist.

We start with the sublime Rocket Man by Elton John, leading into a Dylan song that reminds me of the magical time I saw him at the Barrowland Ballroom. we have two sublime covers by The Fuzzy Bunnies and The Icypoles, the smooth seductive sound of Barry White, a Donovan song that I thought was a lost Belle and Sebastian number when I first heard it, the majestic Carole King, fantastic indie guitar from Guided By Voices and The Replacements, a beautiful Lennon song sung by Yoko, some gems from The Boo Radleys Giant Steps album and a couple of tracks by Royksopp that reminds me (pardon the pun) of dating my wife back in 2001/2 and going clubbing. Their Melody AM album was a post club favourite.

There is also 3 gems from New Order, including 2 from their Technique LP, we have Stevie Wonder covering The Byrds/Dylan, 2 from The Supremes, a beauty from Martha Reeves, a masterclass in songwriting from Gordon Lightfoot and 3 timeless pieces of rock n roll from Eddie Cochran.

You can search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or simply check it out below. You'll need to scroll to near the end for the latest additions (listed below). Or just press shuffle and enjoy. New additions are added and blogged about monthly.


Rocket Man - Elton John
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Bob Dylan
Love Hurts - Gram Parsons
I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better - The Byrds
Wasn't Born To Follow - The Byrds
Blue Boy - Orange Juice
L.O.V.E. Love - Orange Juice
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore - The Fuzzy Bunnies
Love Thy Will Be Done - The Icypoles
Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right - The Mayberry Movement
Let The Music Use You (12-inch) The Nightwriters
It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me - Barry White
Wear Your Love Like Heaven - Donovan
It's Too Late - Carole King
Glad Girls - Guided By Voices
Swinging Party - The Replacements
The Joker - Steve Miller Band
Time Of The Season - The Zombies
Remember Love - John Lennon and Yoko Ono
You Are Here - John Lennon
Take It All In - St Etienne
Wish I Was Skinny - The Boo Radleys
Lazarus - The Boo Radleys
I Don't Know Why I Love You - The House of Love
Eple - Royksopp
Remind Me - Royksopp
Age Of Consent - New Order
All The Way - New Order
Run - New Order
Disappointed - Electronic
Mr. Tambourine Man - Stevie Wonder
Bad Weather - The Supremes
Love Child - The Supremes
I Can't Dance To The Music You're Playing - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
If You Could Read My Mind - Gordon Lightfoot
Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
C'Mon Everybody - Eddie Cochran
Somethin' Else - Eddie Cochran

Saturday 23 December 2017

Gerry Cinnamon at the Barrowland Ballroom

Where to start! What a night!

Well my night started and ended in one of my favourite pubs - McChuills, just round from the hallowed ballroom. Pre and post show Gerry Cinnamon was the man on everyone's lips; people talked of how happy they were for him, how they couldn't believe he was playing two sold out night (someone with good info told me it could have been 5) and talked of how welcome Gerry and his songs were being received; like they were needed.

And that kind of hits the nail on the head. There is an honest rawness, an honest soul at the heart of everything Gerry Cinnamon writes and sings about. The fact that he has the talent to tell his stories in such a way and the charm that wins him friends anywhere he goes is an added bonus. In short, his songs have touched people. Gerry and his songs connect.

The queue round the block at the Barrowland was crazy. There were young kids, old gig veterans and pretty much everyone in between.

Inside the atmosphere was one of pure celebration. The upstairs bar was the busiest I had ever seen it and the DJ or playlist built on the mood with Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline being absolute genius. Top marks to whoever played it, people danced, sung, hugged and at one point there was someone up on a friends shoulders in the queue for the bar. Someone passed him a pint. It was that kind of atmosphere.

On to the main event. I've been attending gigs at the Barras since 1993. I've been fortunate to witness some incredible shows and audience reactions, this was up there.

Walking on stage to KC and the Sunshine Band's Give It Up, with the crowd chanting Gerry Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Gerry Cinnamon na na na na na...... this was going to be some party.

Gerry could do no wrong. Looking cool in a new Adidas trackie top and his trademark cap, he was lifted along on a wave of emotion. Even when his loop pedal cut out, the crowd just kept going and Gerry came back to join them. It was a lovely moment that highlighted that Gerry and his crowd are a team. In fact this blog could easily be titled Gerry Cinnamon and his fans at the Barrowland!

Sometimes is a real favourite of mine, it just flows superbly. There were many brilliant moments where Gerry gave a gorgeous cackle between songs, his happiness was clear for all to see and that was transported to the audience.

A back drop of video footage from across Glasgow was perfect for Gerry's tales of love and adventure from the hills of the 'Milk to the Parade in the East End. Here was a young guy armed only with an acoustic guitar, microphone and a loop pedal taking on the world - or at least his home town!

Keysies is real raw beauty. My favourite song on the Eratic Cinematic album. Cinnamon's voice is rich and soulful and it cracked with emotion before he turned the 90-second song into a 3-minute song by adding a beat and repeating the story of of being late home from school and playing soldies in the park.... it's a gem.

In the field I'm away and running with the wind
The sky cracks open and it rains
On my skin
My t-shirts too thin
To keep out the cold

Pic from Gerry's social media

I wouldn't be surprised if their were major labels in the crowd last night or tonight. After all, they can usually smell money. But does Gerry need a label? His introduction to Kampfire Vampire was defiant - you don't need anyone, go on your own, do it. The lyrics were bellowed back to him by a crowd hanging on his every word.

Don't, don't be scared
To leave yourself open
Dreams, bullshit scenes
Rules were made to be broken

Schools, run by fools
Leave to get education

New song Canter was brilliant, building as it went on and it is set to be another firm fan favourite. And then there was room for cover versions including an inspired Discoland and a stunning Redemption Song that had every single person in the room singing with their hands in the air.....although that was the case for most songs last night!

It's kind of hard to put into words how celebratory last night was, artist and audience were one, there was and there is, a clear connection. And these songs are connecting with more people on a daily basis.

Fortune Favours The Brave .... it does indeed and this was my highlight of the set as the crowd sang heartily on the shoo la la la, shoo la la la la section.

Last night was special. Everyone witnessed someone coming from parties and open mic nights to the Barrowland Ballroom within a few years with his songs, stories and charm.

Gerry will be announcing a tour in the near future, I look forward to hearing where he will be playing and if there is another Glasgow date among them..... it might have to be the Hydro.

Maybe Gerry can explain things better than me, this is what he tweeted ......

Enjoy tonight if you are going.

Never seen, heard or felt anything like it. Body's ringing like a bell.
Loop pedal melted. Broke my guitar. Burst my eardrum. All worth it.
Best venue in the world.
Best crowd in the world.
Take a bow Barrowland Ballroom

Pic from Gerry's social media

Thursday 21 December 2017

From Olive Us To Olive You

The lovely Lloyd who runs Olive Grove Records has brought his label family together to celebrate Christmas and to raise awareness and funds for a cause close to his own family's heart.

All of the profits that are made from the album are going to be donated to CDH UK, a charity who support and advise families who are affected by Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). My son Luke was born with CDH three years ago this month, so it means a lot to me to be able to give something back to families who might not have been as lucky as ours.

You can find out more at

The Olive Grove Records family have done Lloyd proud with an eclectic and beautiful album. 

Pocket Knife really caught my ear and demanded an immediate repeat listen with a song called Half The Presents which addresses Jesus being such a capricorn and assesses some of the traits that make him such. 

There is an early Belles bassline that keeps a loose indie groove throughout the song, spoken word starsign patter and a great melody and humour throughout. This is rather brilliant and rather promising for what Pocket Knife will deliver in 2018. Can't wait to see them live.

My own sister has 3-songs on the album including 2 duets with Eugene Kelly (Vaselines/Eugenius/). Carla's natural sense of melody and flow pours out on to Christmas Eve Alone and talks of her love working late while she wants an open fire, to be toasting marshmallows and watching Christmas movies. In turn Eugene promises he'll be home for Christmas Eve to the sound of Christmas bells ringing. The song breaks into a real flow and the voices combine beautifully.

Carla's song Spending Every Christmas Day With My Boy (about her old cat!) was on her Homemade Lemonade album and it has another heartfelt melodic flow to it.

The trilogy is complete with another cracker (xmas pun!) It's Starting To Snow (Please Be Mine). You would never guess that she counts Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You as a favourite! :-)

You are my winter sunshine
You are my Christmas time

Campfires In Winter simply call their song Christmas Song and call to burn the tree, have fun and get out of hand. The performance mataches the lyrics - great fun, great sound.

Randolph's Leap drop in with a fragile beauty that contains some great lyrics, sung with tender care over a sparse acoustic guitar that rises with the introduction of some considerate beats, organ, percussion and keys.

There were moments when Santa Claus
Wasn't sure who he was

He's got a sleigh to ride
But baby it's warm outside
As the climates change
That doesn't seem so strange

Henry and Fleetwood come up with the goods, The State Broadcasters have that tender gorgeousness that Lloyd seems to spot in artists and  Woodenbox come up with a wonderfully warm soaring song that captures all of their strengths. Then we have Jo Mango with a beautifully slow and melodic song and The Son(s) with some glorious guitars.

There really isn't a bad track on the album. The initial pressing has already run out but head to Monorail or Love Music in Glasgow for physical copies. You can download from Olive Grove's band camp page or stream on Spotify.

Sunday 17 December 2017

The Winter Garden Playtest

Joe Kane is a well kent face and voice from the Glasgow music scene through his work in bands like The Owsley Sunshine, Dr Cosmos Tape Lab and also with Them Beatles.

Kane introduced his new outfit The Radiophonic Tuckshop back in the summer  with an EP of psychedelic pop and he now returns with a 14-track Christmas album titled The Winter Garden Playtest

Playful melodies, humorous observational lyrics and upbeat vibes (most of the time) are spread throughout the album. 

The title track is lysergic instrumental that is rather gorgeous. Probably my favourite song on the album - little riffs and melodies collide or are layered quite beautifully. This is one of the most stunning pieces of music I have heard all year. Kane is capable of moments of genius - this is one of them.

The Summer That Never Was is another beauty. Humour is never far away, Secret Santa is rhymed with Gin and Fanta. 

The Guy In The Grotto gets better as it goes on, all about someone taking on a Christmas job and being thoroughly depressed - not only through his job but also losing his love.

Didn't I give you everything?
To throw it all away is such a sin

The imaginative and experimental side of Kane comes through on The Star Factory, it's quite beautiful, I love when he does this kind of thing. 

Quiet genius at work

Kane can create melodies with ease. They are liberally sprinkled across the album when they hit the mark, they really they hit the mark - like on Runaway Rudolph

Rudolph please come home
I didn't mean to make you feel alone
Santa's got a message for you

The subsequent flowing section with kind of choppy vocals is just brilliant. Kane knocks this kind of thing off in his sleep - he is a melodic genius.

Dubious origins has Joe taking the piss out of himself and it also questions the origins of Christmas. Head Frost is another winner - just so playful, imaginative and instantly likeable. 

The Festive Thought that closes proceedings in a kind of Scotch and Wry manner, highlighting that he wrote and recorded the album in 3-weeks and thanking everyone involved - himself! 

The Winter Garden Playtest is the sound of someone having fun creating music, melodies and lyrics. It is daft at times, very observational and it has those special moments that Kane has the talent to find and when he hits the sweet spot he really does hit the sweet spot.

You can stream the album on Spotify, download from iTunes and various other places or order a Ltd CD from Last Night From Glasgow's website.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Dinosaur Jr at the Art School

Last night Dinosaur Jr played their second sold out night at the Glasgow School of Art and blasted away everyone's winter blues (minus 8 outside) with an array of warm guitars.

It was my first time seeing Dinosaur Jr, despite being into the band for a couple of decades and going through a phase of collecting their 7-inch singles. I was looking forward to seeing J Mascis shredding his guitar and blasting out songs from their long history. They didn't disappoint.

Everyone was wrapped up for the cold weather outside, so it was a little bit disappointing that the Art School didn't have a cloakroom open. So everyone was roasting inside.

Spinning Coin were supporting and they charmed the crowd, generating a good response from their mix of melodic songs (Sean Armstrong) and powerful (Jack Mellin). They've had a great year with a string of headline show, some fantastic support slots and the November release of their debut album Permo BLOG HERE

My brother and I departed for the downstairs bar and bumped into old school friend Grant Mitchell and his friend Mark Richie. Grant is an incredibly passionate record collector and had been to Lou Barlow's Nice n Sleazy matinee show the afternoon before, as well as Dinosaur Jr the night before. He told us we were in for a treat.

The Art School is a cracking venue, although the positioning of the sounddesk creates a bit of a bottleneck down either side. We skipped down the right hand side to the front and thankfully found we could dump our jackets by the stage.

Dinosaur Jr came on, Lou Barlow looked hyper, J Mascis looked relaxed/stoned/unbothered by the fanfare that greeted them. Grant made us laugh with his story that the crowd sang 'happy birthday' to him the previous night and he never even acknowledged it!

Mascis' guitar playing was a joy to watch, he just makes it look easy - zipping about his frets and creating joyful riffs and melodies.

Barlow was the star of the night for me though; looking trim and cool, acting like Animal from The Muppets had leapt from his drum kit to discover the joy of playing bass. He jumped, rocked out, played way up the neck of the bass, thrashed around and generally made it look fun and super cool.

Dinosaur Jr were tight, at times assisted by a second drummer. The songs from last years Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not are among their very best, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Feel The Pain, Start Choppin' and Freakscene weren't my favourites.

I remember getting guitar lessons as an 18-year old and asking for help figuring out how to play Start Choppin'. So it was great to watch J's fingers dance around his various guitars and work his pedals and whammy bar and it was hard to take my eyes of Lou Barlow who was just the embodiement of indie cool.

How cool to rock up in a city and play a couple of small shows at the Art School and also do a matinee show at Sleazys? Indie cool.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Albums of 2017

2017 was a kind of weird year musically for me. I didn't buy anywhere near as much music as I once did as Spotify got its hooks into me. That along with the fact that I'm just not in town (or near a record shop - sorry Monorail) so much these days.

That said, through Spotify I possibly listened to more music than ever. I discovered bands and albums new and old and in some cases this prompted me to also buy the vinyl.

A look through the 30 odd albums that have made an impression on me this year evidences a pretty eclectic selection; ranging from self-released and DIY indie labels in Scotland, through to long term faves like The Charlatans, Flaming Lips and BMX Bandits, with comebacks from Ride, LCD Sound system balanced with falling for bands like The Courtney's and then discovering albums by the likes of The National, Kelly Lee Owens and Michael Head towards the end of the year

I fell for The Courtney's during a Spotify browsing session armed with a couple of Arran Blondes. Their song with the title 90210 took my eye in some recommendations and I checked it out. It blew me away. I then discovered they had released their second album earlier in the year, checked that, fell for that too and also bought the vinyl.

Last year I said that any one of the top 5 in my end of year list could be my (favourite) album of the year. This year I'm not so sure what my favourite album is, I like a lot and have loved a lot at various points of the year.

A special mention must go to Mark W Georgsson who kicked off 2017 with his beautiful Faces and Places album. Knowing Mark as I do, I knew that this was a labour of love and everything about the album highlighted that love - from the songs, the playing and the production through to the artwork and sleeve notes. The fact I had the album for over a year in digital form made me appreciate it all the more when it finally came out on vinyl. Check it out HERE

I obviously have a special affinity to local label Last Night From Glasgow and the 6 albums the label has released through 2017 (one jointly with Scottish Fiction) have all given great pleasure. In addition to Mark, LNFG released;

  • Medicine Men's Into The Light LP and it is a real melting pot of influences with bubbling synths matched with guitars and beats, taking off on lengthy and trippy grooves. 
  • Stephen Solo worked his iPhone magic again with Pii 2, homemade psychedelia with raw soul throughout and also dashes of humour, intelligence and stark honesty. 
  • Sister John's Returned From Sea is exquisite, pretty perfect from start to finish.
  • Annie Booth's is remarkable for someone so young and hints at a great deal to come.
  • while Sun Rose's The Essential Luxury is rich in layers, beats, synths, melodies and harmonies.

The amount of quality (and diverse) music that the label has released since forming in March 2016 is quite breathtaking. It highlights the gap there was and the need for the label in Scotland. I've not been able to offer much time to the label this year which is a shame, but a growing number of people are involved in helping CEO/Chair Ian Smith with the running of the label and each release. There is much more to come in 2018.

Please take the time to check these fine artists out. You can stream them all on Spotify, download from iTunes or buy physical copies from

So without wishing to show any favouritism, I'll keep the LNFG artist above,  here are my 5 favourite albums from 2017 with the rest in no particular order listed below.

Top 5 from 2017

1. Adios Señor Pussycat - Michael Head and the Red Elastic
God damn it, I only discovered this album after Michael's Oran Mor show in October when loads of people I follow on Twitter went into overdrive regarding how good the show was and the album is. I agree - melodic stories, a great band, a singer in rich voice, a choice cover of Wild Mountain Thyme and an album that gets better with every listen. SPOTIFY LINK

2. How The West Was Won - Peter Perrett
I blogged about this incredible album in August and described it as the sound of chiming guitars, a tight rythm section and the sound of Perrett pouring his heart out. It is pure, soulful and true.

Catching Peter and his band at King Tut's made me appreciate it even more. A love letter to his long suffering wife, self help for himself - this is special. SPOTIFY LINK

3. The Courtney's II - The Courtney's
As above, the second LP from The Courtney's is direct guitar punk/new wave pop. There is a groove to some songs, others show humour, they all brim with excitement and energy. SPOTIFY LINK

4. Every Valley - Public Service Broadcasting
One of my favourite bands from recent years, they really know how to take the listener on a journey through the incredible sounds they create and their innovative use of samples; ranging from old BBC recordings, to NASA and to their recent album documenting Welsh Coal mining. The way they create music around the samples is extremely clever and I wonder how much the samples inspired the music, or if they had to search for samples to fit. SPOTIFY LINK

5. Erratic Cinematic - Gerry Cinnamon
What a year for Gerry! Heis rounding it off with 2 sold out nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and they are set to be pure celebrations of his honest, soulful storytelling songs. Keysies is one of my songs of the year. SPOTIFY LINK

Others albums I enjoyed

Sleep Well Beast - The National
This could easily have made my top 5. An album with real depth, an album clearly displaying real care and soul. I've never reached for The National before, but a number of friends urged me to check this album out. My only disappointment is that I didn't go and see them live.

New Energy - Four Tet
Stephen Pastel recommended that I check this album out. Recorded in a sparse home studio looking out a window, New Energy has a beautiful feel to the sounds and production. It sounds very fresh and natural despite its electronic origins.

Different Days - The Charlatans
The band that keep on keepin' on. Guest appearances from Marr, Weller, Rankin and more inspired The Charlatans to swiftly follow the incredible Modern Nature with another gem. Many journalists deemed this their best album since Tellin' Stories - but that is doing a massive dis-service (yet also highlighting the consistency of the band) to the aforementioned Modern NatureYou Cross My Path and the wonderful Us and Us Only. I reviewed the album in this BLOG highlighting a sense of freedom, confidence and fun.

Kelly Lee Owen - Kelly Lee Owen
I only discovered this album a couple of weeks ago on a train to London and enjoyed it so much that I listened to it twice on the way down and twice on the way back. A gorgeous album that really fitted with my sunny train ride to and from the big smoke. Trippy, laid back, dreamy and with stunning effected vocals throughout.

Oczy Mlody - Flaming Lips
The Lips produced one of the most memorable musical highlights of my year with their Barrowland Ballroom show that featured Wayne Coyne riding round the hallowed ballroom on a unicorn. Psychedelic with pulsing electro, fantasies, dreams, nightmares.... The Lips continue to push boundaries and imagination to the limit and beyond.

Antisocialites - Alvvays
Loud melodic guitars, a guest spot from Norman Blake and the sound of a band playing with confidence and fun. Alvvays are on the rise.

American Dream - LCD Soundsystem
Back, but they weren't away for long, James Murphy and co keep on keepin' on with songs about ageing, death and dreams accompanied by all kinds of grooves and beats

Weather Diaries - Ride
Ride returned with guitars set to stun and lots of talk of the sun.

Morningside - Fazerdaze
I discovered this album through a tweet by Gold Flake Paint; falling for the real charm in the guitars, production, vocals and lyrics.

Forever - BMX Bandits
I blogged about the Bandits recent number HERE and it is a gem of heart-breaking, heart-aching, warm and reflective pop.


Stellular - Rose Elinor Douglas
Kelvingroove - Fnuf and the Fairylights
Colours - Beck
Permo - Spinning Coin
Earl Gray - Girl Ray
Last Place - Granddaddy
Who Built The Moon? - Noel Gallagher
Another Summer of Love - GospelbeacH
Saved by Metal - Broken By Rock
Friday Night The Eagles Fly - The Bar Dogs
There Are No Saints - Siobhan Wilson
Waiting On A Song - Dan Auerbach

Monday 4 December 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 17

Hello and welcome to the last additions to the Never Ending Mixtape for 2017. This fine list takes the total songs on the mixtape to a whopping 380!

We begin with 2 cracking tunes by Michael Head via Shack and The Pale Fountains, taking in Mancunians The Smiths and Buzzcocks, the brilliantly titled Young Lovers Go Pop!, a pile of tunes I discovered through an Andy Bell (Ride) DJ setlist including the impeccable La Ritournelle by Sebastian Tellier, we have legends like Hendrix, Glen Campbell, The Stones and Bowie, an ode to Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake by The Swedish Polar Bears, one of my most recent favourite bands in Public Service Broadcasting, two brilliant early Teenage Fanclub tracks and two songs by The Pooches from Glasgow.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE.

Scroll to near the end for the latest additions or simply press shuffle and enjoy at random.

Thanks to those of you that either follow the playlist, have checked it out or taken the time to send messages of encouragement and thanks for turning you on to some great music. Greatly appreciated.

Beautiful - Shack
Jean's Not Happening - The Pale Fountains
Ask - The Smiths
Young Lovers Go Pop! - This Many Boyfriends
Ever Fallen In Love - Buzzcocks
Girl You Better Change - Sag Ware Fare
Norman Blake - Swedish Polarbears
Like An Old Time Movie - Scott Mckenzie
Where's The Playground Susie - Glen Campbell
He Called Me Baby - Candi Staton
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads
I Can't Kick This Feeling When It Hits - Moodyman
La ritournelle - Sebastian Tellier
We Love You - The Rolling Stones
Castles Made Of Sand - Jimi Hendrix
Straight At Yer Head - Lionrock
The Other Side - Public Service Broadcasting
Rebel Rebel - David Bowie
Changes - David Bowie
Critical Mass - Teenage Fanclub
Every Picture I Paint - Teenage Fanclub
Heart Attack - The Pooches
I'll Be Gone - The Pooches

Friday 1 December 2017

Dance Around The Fake Fir Tree

Mark W Georgsson has bookended my year musically, releasing his beautiful debut album Faces and Places back in January, playing a memorable cosy Celtic Connections show in the basement of The Hug and Pint to launch in style. Check my blog on the album HERE 

And now in December he releases a funky, glam, soulful pop Spector-esque Christmas single in the shape of Dance (Around The Fake Fir Tree).

The flowing chorus is Springsteen-esque, backed by soaring strings, sleigh bells, church bells and stomping beats. The way it is repeated at the end brings a sense of euphoria to the song. Epic.

At the start it's quite Marc Bolan/Jesus and Mary Chain, funky and poppy, fun and frisky and then leading into that sky scraping chorus.

So take my hand
And let's go dance
Around the bare fir tree
I wanna hold you tight
Every Christmas night
Like we were young and care free

The post second chorus breakdown and subsequent build up is a little spine tingling and then Georgsson and friends let rip with the chorus again and again.

Recorded in Iceland, where the beautiful artwork was photographed, this is a gem.

Mark W Georgsson and friends play a Christmas show at The Hug and Pint on Dec 8th.

The digital single is out today, available on iTunes, Spotify and all the usual outlets. Check the lyric video below.

Monday 27 November 2017

Baker Street

Cover version of the month #31

The Foo Fighters cover Baker Street

A couple of months ago I tweeted my usual cover of the month blog and I asked if anyone would like to contribute to the series. Dedé Arneaux messaged me to say that he would like to send something in and I was rather surprised to learn that it was a blog on The Foo Fighters covering the sax classic Baker Street! My first thought was, really?! And then, I must check this out!

And that is exactly the kind of reaction that I love to get from cover versions at times. Curiosity and surprise.

So they really did cover it.

Dedé Arneaux 

Written in '77. Gerry Rafferty's break up and move-on song when Stealers Wheel split. It's smooth, starting with flute, congas, cymbal rolls and a hint of fretless bass before the swooping sax solo chorus glides in supported by solid piano stabs high in the mix. There's a distinct air of swing about it. Sexy and at home on a Roxy Music album. Warm strings enter as we move from the bass and congas in the verse to the bridge. "You used to think that it was so easy" continues the horizontal, feet-up, hands behind the head feel before the chorus returns. If it's an advert ... it's for yoghurt.

In '92 Undercover record it, there's a longer Mickey Modelle clubland version and 20 years later and 20 years ago Baker Street appears as the final track on a special edition of Foo Fighters' '
The Colour and the Shape. It's the antithesis of smooth, the soundtrack for Hurricane Ophelia.

A single snare crack wakes dual rhythm guitars. Bludgeon riffola - overdriven to the point of darkness on the edge of down and out badness, 180 degree drum fills drive it, before the lead guitar comes crashing in playing the sax melody we all love. It's brutal and bionic.

Released into the verse, spoken word vocal sits atop a picked guitar line and another lightly strummed. Neither acoustic and teased along by bass drum and rim shot.

A leap from 2nd gear to 4th for the bridge, heavy duty drums on the one and returning distorted double rhythm guitars provide a contrast to the laid back voice and whooping and sliding bass that hark to the original. Grab your sixteenth note seat belt before kicking into top with the guitar solo chorus shadowed by dive bomb slides that add a whole lotta love and a sonic whiplash.

Foo Fighters replace give up the booze and the one night stands with give up the crack. Kinda sums up the transformation. The song climaxes with 2 mins plus of instrumental guitar and drum  riffery with a solo that's true to the original, doused in lighter fuel and alight.

Previous covers of the month

Sunday 26 November 2017

Permo by Spinning Coin

If I was 20 odd years younger I would probably be a little jealous of Spinning Coin; releasing on Stephen Pastel's Geographic label with support from Domino, recording with Edwyn Collins and touring with Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr... the stuff of a young indie guitar fans fantasies.

And as I approach 42 it still is a kind of fantasy of mine to put together an indie guitar band and have loads of fun. I can't afford the mid-life crisis sports car, so that might happen!

It is a reality for Spinning Coin, they are playing great shows, they have recorded a great indie guitar album that is at times; fragile, raw, rough n ready and full of harmonies, humour and playfulness.

Photo by Stuart McIntosh

Spinning Coin have released a number of singles from the album over the last couple of years; drip feeding their sound on to record tables and into hearts.

Only 5-songs (one by a mere 2 seconds) across the 14 on Permo break the 3-minute barrier. They don't mess about with the two songwriters Sean Armstrong and Jack Mellin displaying their talent in many ways.

Fuzzy melodic guitars and beautiful strained vocals usher in Armstrong's Raining On Hope Street, while there is pace, power and more frantic riffs to Mellin's Tin.

We then have two songs referencing money in the title; Money For Breakfast and Money Is A Drug. The first has some beautiful lyrics and has a great melancholic vibe to it, a kind of stoned groove.

So soothing, it's so soothing when the sunlight reaches your bed

Armstrong's fragile and melodic tunes with his storytelling lyrics that somehow fit into a song are pretty special. It almost kind of should't work, but it really does as evidenced on Metronome River.

Floating With You is a gorgeous tune, possibly my favourite from the album. Did I mention stoned groove earlier on? Well this is the sound of someone in a special place, just happy, gloriously so.

Everything you say just gets me higher

I'm happy just floating with you

Sides punky pop urgency has delightfully simple lyrics that we can all relate to and a brilliant guitar break/riff halfway through that propels the song towards a great conclusion with Mellin and Armstrong's voices combining deliciously.

Telling lies all the time
Telling lies is a waste of time

I've blogged about Sleepless before and it is another fave; melodic, fragile, heartfelt and soulful with lovely chiming guitars.

There is definitely an element of Collins and Goddard to some of Mellin's songs in his style, phrasing, lyrics and delivery. Powerful is an example of the raw yet melodic punk pop racket he demonstrates throughout the album.

These words just can't express
Just how much I have been blessed

Starry Eyes has an unexpected political tone, while Running With The World is another of my favourites before the album closes with the gorgeous I Feel The Need To Be An Actor.

Well I sure love the rain
I love the way it defeats me
I try to explain
But I don't have the brains to

You can order the vinyl from Monorail's website with a signed print, or pop into the store.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Sun Rose and L Space at Nice n Sleazy

Last night I caught two stunning bands in the basement of Nice n Sleazy, both blew me away.

I introduced L-Space in a previous blog. I was really looking forward to seeing them live and they didn't disappoint. Singer Lily wore a headband that lit up and started the set kneeling in front of a tiny keyboard at the front of the stage, picking out a beautiful melody, covered by an umbrella that also lit up. Her band mates created a beautiful wall of noise to back her up.

The 4-piece were refreshingly different to any band I have seen in Glasgow in a while. Gordon Johnstone played some brilliant riffs and melodies on guitar, before at times unleashing some ferocious white noise. Synth player Maura Keane looked super cool, creating some great sounds, whilst bassist Dickson Teller kept the groove.

Blue Flowers was a highlight for me as I've really fallen for that song, but in truth the whole set was incredibly impressive and there were knowing nods from the people around me that we were witnessing a band with huge potential. The crowd responded with increasing applause and hours after each song. A great set.

Sun Rose were launching their debut LP The Essential Luxury by playing their first ever show after a grand total of four rehearsals. The album was created by Albert Kawmi, Calum Muir and Gus Wemyss between Glasgow and Manchester, with emails playing an important role.

The trio gradually pieced together a stunning album full of inventive beats, breaks, layers, sounds, melodies and harmonies. With no band name, social media or gigs to concern themselves with, this gave them an almost unique freedom in todays day and age to take their time.

I'll be blogging about the sublime and blissful album in the very near future. What were they like live?

The trio became a 6-piece for the night; lining up with Calum and Gus playing back to back synths, Albert on bongos, maracas and very occasional synth, backed by guitar, bass and drums.

What a treat! The band played superbly. Albert told us how it was his first live show in 4-years. He looked confident and full of joy. Calum and Gus looked deep in concentration, playing synths, getting involved in funky percussion and both complimented Albert superbly with harmonies and backing vocals. Their band mates looked delighted to be playing to a packed Sleazys and to be involved in creating such sublime music live.

Debut single Smirk gave us an indication of the style and capabilities of Sun Rose live. They were on it - funky, sublime and able to recreate the layers and changes in pace that they beautifully offer on their album,

Dry In The Water was outstanding; surging upwards, dropping back to almost nothing before soaring sky high and taking the audience on a journey with them.

Second single Minima was blissful and the band had the confidence not only to sing a song in Arabic but to also drop in a cover version of The Pointer Sisters Automatic.

Singer Albert was quick to thank the band, their friend who drove them to and from Manchester, the audience and then his wife Lynsey who was celebrating her birthday. The audience sing song was followed by Albert coming into the audience for a kiss. There was a collective awwwww, a nice touch as Albert when back on stage and told us of how he broke the news to Lynsey that they were launching the album on her birthday.

The band ended their set with Counting Upwards, the beautiful closing number from their album. They got lost in the gorgeous sounds they were producing and there is a section where things just build to a euphoric mantra.

There was no encore. Just grateful thanks to the audience and to Last Night From Glasgow who Albert said the album and gig wouldn't have happened without.

What will they do next? Will they play again? A packed Sleazys will hope so. And for any festival promoters reading this - get them booked. Blissful, funky and euphoric.

Album review to follow. Check it on Spotify HERE or order vinyl HERE

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Introducing L Space

Photo by ChumChi

The older I get, the harder it becomes for a new young band to get me really excited. Or it could just be that although there may be countless new bands and not that many of them are actually very good or exciting! It’s probably a bit of both.

I mean, do I need to go searching like I used to when I already have access to so much music I love and the fact that it is easier than ever to explore back catalogues of bands/artists of years gone by?

Of course I do! I’m always looking for new music to fall in love with, I will forever chase the buzz of falling head over heels for a new band that are breaking or just waiting to break through.

Anyway, I’ve found a new band that I’ve fallen for. They are pretty brand new, although they have already put out an incredible amount of music through 2017. L Space are the band in question. Gordon Johnstone, Lily Higham, Dickson Telfer and Maura Keane span the Central belt of Scotland and come together to ‘write music about the future using big synths, dreamy guitar and ethereal vocals’ and their Facebook describes them as dream pop, electronic and cinematic.

L Space have released 11-songs to date through 2017 via a series of digital (to my knowledge) EP’s and singles. The quality more than matches the quantity.

I chose Blue Flowers to check out first as I liked the title and I fell for it on first listen; think Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval fronting Portishead.

Photo by Brendan Waters

But there is so much more – this is not a band who find a formula and stick with it, this is a band looking to utilise the sounds at their disposal and the wonderful voice of Lily Higham. Brother Mars is an acoustic comedown gem that those of my generation could compare to early Beth Orton – sublime.

Space Junk meets their dream pop, electronic and cinematic biog head on, whispered vocals that rise with ease, changes in pace and beats at all the right moments and building to a glorious and euphoric conclusion.

When it all just gets too much
I can drift off, drift off, drift off
I am living like space junk

Southern Reach is a dark and menacing instrumental, dropping to a bubbling synth and sampled vocal. Propaganda sounds like a companion piece, with huge beats introduced to dramatic effect halfway through. Carry Armour has drum n bass beats with more sampled voices and a cinematic feel, while Escape V4.1 and So It Goes are hauntingly beautiful.

The band seem incredibly creative with their beats, layers, soundscapes and melodies and I can’t wait to see them live. In the meantime check a Spotify playlist of their releases to date and an interview with the band below.

Photo by ChumChi

How did L Space form? Where and when?

Lily: L-space formed gradually in the prebiotic pools of various workplaces and arts events. Gordon I met when we both needed to glue our shoes together at work, Dickson I met through his spoken word and writing (check it out) and Gordon knew him through his work with The Grind, and Maura I met in a world of unending noodles at the restaurant we worked at. We glooped together and good music came out.

Where did the name come from?

Lily: The name is based on an alternate dimension in the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett. Because knowledge = power, and books contain a lot of knowledge, they warp space and time, creating another dimension. You can access the dimension through places like libraries and book shops where there are large amounts of books, and when you enter you can see bookshelves stretch off endlessly in all directions. In Terry P's words "[a] good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read." Basically, I like books and I like physics, so this name is cool.

Did you have a vision for what the band would sound like then? If not, how quickly did you arrive at ‘your sound’?

Lily: I had some vision: I wanted to write beautiful, interesting, noisy music with a mixture of electronic elements and 'real' instruments, creating a retrofuturistic sound while not being too cold and digital. But most of our sound came together naturally from the combination of the band's talents and influences. For example, in my case, I read a lot of sci-fi and like to read about future technologies that will make our world better, so those themes often make their way into my lyrics. Also my voice seems physiologically fixed to have a particular sound to it, and I am working with that sound and its limitations and qualities to find melodies and tones that fit our visions.

Gordon: I think I always had a clearer idea of what I didn't want us to be more than what I thought we would sound like. I definitely didn't want us to be another guitar band or a soulless electronic group. It's important to me that people know there's a very human heart to our songs even when the music is largely created on synths and tackles fairly futuristic topics. Many of the songs start as fairly abstract soundscapes and become fully formed songs when we add bass and vocals, so our sound is somewhere between the two extremes.

Dickson: With writing most of our music on synths and having Lily as our singer, we always knew we were going to have an ethereal sound. Then we added groove and noise and . . . ta-dah!

Maura: Gordon and Lily have been the main masterminds of the sound, but I think we're always trying new things and looking for different influences.

You have released 11-songs already. How do you go about creating/writing? Where do you record?

Lily: Sometimes we write together, building up songs from a base idea that one of us has come up with, but other times we are a very modern band that does most writing separately and sends each other our recordings electronically. Praise to our great internet lord. We record most of the synths at home and record the vocals and instruments at Homegrown Productions studio on a farm in Larbert. We have good fun recording there and it has the benefits of a resident cat and dog. However, one time the cattle escaped and we had to wait until the cows came home before we could finish! When I write a song alone at home I usually start off messing around on my guitar or with beats and sounds on my computer and humming along to find a melody I like. Then I record it terribly on my phone and send it to the others.

Gordon: I usually start with one synth tone, or one chord, I like and build from there. It's not unusual for our songs to have forty or fifty layers on them, but usually we strip a lot of them out when everyone adds their various parts. I love densely layered production like El-P and 65daysofstatic and I think that shapes our music a lot. One of my pet hates is when a song doesn't have an identifiable "good bit", so the music I write almost always builds to a climax or some kind of crescendo. 

Dickson: Usually Gordon writes the skeleton and then we all jump in, bringing our own thing to the party.

Maura: Gordon is always coming to us with new songs and ideas - you can't stop him writing songs. I think it's amazing to work with people who have so much to give musically and are so creative, very exciting and inspiring for the future.

The releases to date highlight quality and quantity. Are you always creating new sounds and songs? Is that important for you?

Lily: I am always coming up with new ideas for songs. It happens when I'm playing around with my guitar or noises on the computer, or it might just happen while I'm walking somewhere or in the shower. I even dream songs sometimes! Many ideas get lost as I don't record them before I forget them, but if I can I try to remember them in some way so we can use them for future songs. It is important for me to always have this creative output as it gives me a feeling of purpose and value.

Gordon: Constantly creating things means the world to me. Since L-space started I've realised that I'm exceptionally difficult to work with sometimes. I've got this compulsion where I can't stop creating music and I constantly want to release it and put it out into the world, but that doesn't always sit comfortably with a band moving at a sensible pace. I pushed us all quite hard for a few months to release a lot of music and do a lot of shows and it payed off when Last Night from Glasgow signed us. Now we can take our time with the album, be pickier with our gigs, and generally enjoy the creation process a lot more!

Dickson:  Yes. It's a good disease.

What have been your highlights from 2017?

Lily: It's hard to choose! One highlight was playing at MugStock festival in the pouring rain while Dickson's dog Dasher ran on stage and while most people were sheltering, two people were dancing in the rain in front of the stage and having a great time. It was nice to see them enjoying it, and for us it was an unusual and memorable experience. Also dog.

Gordon: For me I think it was when Last Night from Glasgow told us they wanted to release our album. It was the culmination of months of hard work and a lifetime's ambition. Knowing that we have a goal and a purpose, that a group of people believe in what we were doing enough to put their name behind it, means the world to me. In terms of the music itself I think it was when we played at a small show for a sci-fi magazine called Shoreline of Infinity. It felt like we turned a corner in terms of our performance and how we were received.

Dickson: Playing a street corner as part of the Merchant City festival and going down well. Also, listening to the final mix of Aloe on Elie beach. I had recorded my bass and then gone on holiday while the others did their thing. It was really cool watching the waves and listening to our latest creation at the same time (cos usually first listen is in the studio)

Maura: I loved playing the Merchant City Festival in the summer, playing outside right on the street and being really noisy. Releasing our single Aloe and getting signed by Last Night From Glasgow are up there too!

So you’ve essentially released an albums worth of songs. But you’re now working on your first album. Will that effect how you approach things and the way you write/create? E.g. will it be written to flow together, or will it be business as normal and anything goes?

Lily: We have all our songs written separately, but I think because they have been written in quite a short space of time, they have all been created from the same kind of 'zone' of ideas and phase of our music writing. The themes of the songs are mostly looking forward to a utopian future and so far I think they all have the L-space sound to them. Because of this, the songs sound like they go together, and all that is left is to put them in an order that most keeps the listener engaged, and with songs next to each other that enhance each other.

Gordon: I think because we have a fairly good idea of how we want to sound the songs will sound pretty coherent. The songs have all been written fairly recently, but some of the ideas on the albums are things I've had rattling around since I was 16 and it has taken L-space to make them work and sound how they should. The overarching theme of a better future is something I think will always underpin our music.

Dickson: There are always plenty songs. We're re-working a couple but the rest are new and fresh, and cool, and noisy, and lovely.

What music are you enjoying at present?

Lily: 65daysofstatic, Julien Baker, The Twilight Sad, Bjork's newest album and the Cocteau Twins record given to me by our record label Last Night from Glasgow.

Gordon: Tusks, The Samuel Jackson 5, Tom Waits, Run the Jewels, Deltron 3030, Lana Del Rey

Dickson: Sun Rose, Agnes Obel, Bicep, Public Service Broadcasting

Maura: I'm listening to lots of electronic music right now, I saw Sylvan Esso live the other night, the energy was amazing. I'm enjoying discovering a Japanese artist called Shintaro Sakamoto who is more 70s pop-rock.