Tuesday 31 January 2017

5 albums from January 2017

Last year I vowed to write a blog review on every album I bought or listened to. That didn't happen!

So rather than attempt to write my usual length features on albums, I'm going to condense some of them into an end of month feature. So here are five albums that I have enjoyed in January 2017;

Gentlewoman and Ruby Man is an album of covers by Matthew E White (check his debut reviewed HERE) - my album of the year in 2013) and 21-year old Flo Morrissey. They met at a Lee Hazelwood tribute concert where they were both playing; White was already aware of Morrissey after her single was reviewed next to his in The Guardian.

Some Velvet Morning was the song they duetted on at the Hazelwood show and the duo continued to bond over emails and across the ocean - leading to this album.

Gentlewoman and Ruby Man is stunning soulful covers album; the two gel effortlessly, White's gentle voice and exceptional band of musicians that he has on call at his studio are complimented and enhanced by Morrissey who has the voice of an angel, capable of soaring high with ease.

Songs by Leonard Cohen, James Blake, Frank Ocean, Frankie Valli, Little Wings and Feist, Nino Ferrer, Radha Krishna Temple, The Velvet Underground, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck and Roy Ayers Ubiquity are covered - a rich and eclectic selection in anyone's book. It all works! Even Grease which White claims he had never heard before, whereas it was forever part of Morrissey's youth.

Only released on 27th January, but I fell for Stellular instantly. Why? Well the driving guitar/synth pop of Colour Of Water,  the riffs and flow are beautiful. And the quality level doesn't drop throughout the album. Dougall's voice can soar, hold the notes, grab your attention and wind its way into your soul. She plays King Tut's in Glasgow on April 8th.

We are ushered into Oczy Mlody with the beautiful title track; a stones, lysergic instrumental that bubbles, flows and breaks us gently into the psychedelic universe of The Flaming Lips. Welcome back.

That universe can take us on wonderful and weird trips; think of the life affirming Do You Realise?, the glorious Race For The Prize and the euphoric pop of She Don't Use Jelly - all wonderful. Lately it has been a little weird with entire albums covering the Stone Roses and Sgt Peppers and flirting and collaborating with Miley Cyrus; not to mention crazy films and albums.

The Lips get the pH balance almost perfect - the peak of a trip; there is a sense of floating, questions are asked, philosophies, thoughts and dreams flow effortlessly and with no logic from Wayne Coyne.

The trip continues with another slow, dreamy, stream of consciousness gem - There Should Be Unicorns.

It is meant to be a kind of wish list that someone is reading off to a party planner....as if unicorns are something you can just order to have at your party.

We felt like maybe it needed an emotional hook i it and we put in the part that is now like a chorus - yeah there should be the unicorns, the ones with the purple eyes...not the green eyes. The lyrics implying that you can choose which unicorn you prefer!

The Flaming Lips are capable of moments of sheer fragile brilliance and beauty. Coyne's voice strains with emotion on Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)

The sunrise insists on gladness
But how can I be glad now my flower is dead
Oh, sun I see you happy
Now you're showing me the truth but I don't want to believe you

Nigdy Nie (Never No) is another gem that takes an expectedly brilliant turn at 2 minutes 20 as a distorted and funky bass comes in before a shimmering synth helps to add another dimension.

I hope Wayne and co can bring their life affirming party to Glasgow.

An article in The Sunday Times led to be going online to check out some of Stevie Nicks solo career. Over the weekend of January 21st and 22nd I must have played this half a dozen times. Stop Draggin' My Heart Around with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers sounds even better than you thought and hoped it might; Edge of Seventeen is utterly brilliant - the guitar and vocals are sensational; Leather and Lace with Don Henley is my favourite track on the album and the alternate version on the deluxe edition is probably even better. A stunning album that I will continue to return to regularly. The deluxe version also contains a real gem in Gold And Braid (Unreleased version). Sit back and listen to one of rock n roll's best ever singers with a sh*t hot band backing her up - listen to them flow and soar.

This is one album I did find time to devote a full blog to. You can read that review HERE and stream it above; but do me a favour and order the vinyl online via the Last Night From Glasgow online store if you like it. Support young and emerging artists - this one deserves it. This gets better with every listen.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Faces and Places by Mark W Georgsson

I first heard Faces and Places (the debut album by Mark W Georgsson) around a year ago when Mark sent it through. I had been a fan of his band Velveteen Saints but they had split up and Mark had gone off and recorded an album. He warned me it wasn't the pop punk vibe of the Saints, but more acoustic, country and alt folk.

I fell for it immediately; warm, tender, loose, reflective....it got better with every listen. It is out tomorrow on Last Night From Glasgow on limited 12-inch with stunning artwork on the outside and inside by Brian Sweeney.

The title is very apt; various cities and countries are namechecked throughout the album, it was also recorded in Edinburgh, Mull and Iceland. Then there are Mark's friends who help - Rod Jones from Idlewild produces and plays guitar, his friends in Iceland reprise the beautiful duet Ballad of the Nearly Man in their native tongue to close the album and Brian Sweeney (a fellow Albion Rovers supporter) provides stunning artwork.

Opener Break Free is the oldest song on the album, written when Mark was in his teen's, it has a youthful edge to the lyrics but they could be sung by anyone of any age. The wistful and weary voice over the strummed acoustic guitar give the song a beautiful feel. The picked solo is exquisite.

I feel you near to me but a distant memory

Oh My Dear Friend picks up the pace, a jaunty country rocker with a great hammond flow throughout. At under 2-minutes long, Mark and co race through it. This is always a live highlight.

The title track is sublime, it has a glorious lazy loose feel to it. The playing is sublime, the jazzy saxophone is Van Morrison-esque, the vocals are perfect.

I'm hearing answers to questions that I never asked

Rodeo, as the title track might suggests, is west country blues, with Mark reminiscing about a girl he met once and can't find again. The chorus comes in at just after 33-seconds, the harmonies on the verses and the choruses are full of emotion and soul. There is honky tonk piano and a screaming sax. You'll be singing this chorus after one listen. 

I swear I'll never leave you and I swear I'll never go
I swear I'll always be the one who'll hold you forever more
I swear I'll never leave you and I swear I'll never go
I swear I'll always be the one
Your rodeo

All the songs I'm playing are screaming for you

Nickel Or A Dime is another upbeat country rocker with free form violin throughout. The feel to the record is superb. Tight loose is how Mark refers to it - trusting the musicians on the album to bring their own magic to his songs, letting them play and go for it, they repay that trust ten-fold. This is another live gem.

And if the rain should start to fall
On a glorious sunny day
I would hold you tight and whisper close
That a cloudburst don't last long anyway

Mark sold out his album launch show at the Hug and Pint for Celtic Connections last week and assembled a 7-piece band to bring his album to life. Oh how they brought Forever Lonely Forever Blue to life. The chemistry between Mark and his great friend Tino MacDonald dates back to their Velveteen Saints days and to see them duel and bang off each other on stage is a delight, I can almost sense it happening in the studio on this song. The pedal steer guitar is stunning and li

No-one even comes close to you
Forever lonely, forever blue
I still miss you
I still miss you

The Ballad Of The Nearly Man was the debut single that launched Mark's solo career. Slow and tender celtic soul, this is a gem. Katie McArthur duets with Mark and her vocals are pure gold. The video, by Brian Sweeney is beautiful. I'll never forget Sweeney firing into the label launch party last June with the finished cut and us playing it on to a curtain behind the stage as Mark and his band played.

Mark and co pick up the pace again on A Banjo Lament and Mark is still missing his girl. This is about a girl Mark in the Arlington Bar in Glasgow - love at first sight. She told Mark she was in all the time, so Mark went back the next day....and the next....and the next.....and he still goes! And he still talks about her!

If I see her again
I'd love to hear what she's gotta say

Pic by Brian Sweeney

And then we get to the final 3 songs, a trio of beauties. Stay is unbelievable - Mark displays maturity beyond his years, in his lyrics, his delivery and his voice has a 70's era Rod Stewart feel to it - stunning. It is only January but this may already be my song of the year - check it out - the playing, singing and feel are pure soul.

You're Not Alone is Mark's best vocal, he stretches his voice out, the piano playing is sublime. The production and feel on the entire album is absolutely superb, but for the final 3 songs Mark, Rod Jones and team take it up to 110%.

It's good to know that we'll remain close
A new day has just begun

The Ballad of the Nearly Man is reprised in Icelandic for the finale; sung by Mark's friends Arnari and Sigríður. My heart melted when I first heard this and it melts now - good god listen to that girls voice. I love the fact that they not only sing in a different language but switch the order of male and female on the Scottish version to be female and male on their own version. This floors me and I always have to play it again immediately.

There you have it - I can't recommend this album highly enough. It is the complete package and you can order the vinyl via the Last Night From Glasgow online store or check it on iTunes or Spotify tomorrow.

Sunday 22 January 2017


Cover version of the month #21
Galaxie 500 cover New Order

Ceremony, the debut release by New Order, was a (kind of) cover version. The song was written by Ian Curtis and performed live by Joy Division and there is also a studio version that was recorded only 4-days before his death. However all 3 known recordings of Joy Division playing Ceremony have partially audible vocals.

New Order's version was released in early 1981, less than a year after Curtis' death. I have just finished reading Peter Hook's excellent Substance autobiography and he talks of how the band just didn't know how to react to Curtis' suicide, they didn't know how to grieve and they didn't know what to do. So, Sumner, Hook and Morris did the only thing they knew.... they met up and played music. Unable to decide on a singer (eventually landing at Sumner at default after a number of shows with all 3 taking on vocals), they also struggled with a  band name, thankfully choosing New Order over some bizarre suggestions by manager Rob Gretton.

New Order then rerecorded and rereleased Ceremony in the same year, due to the addition of Gillian Gilbert to the band.

Both versions are raw and full of urgency; the bass and guitar riff entwined with each other and Stephen Morris keeps the drums and percussion going throughout. Sumner's guitar is a delight - his playful style with New Order ensures he is one of my favourite guitarists.

Galaxie 500 are a band I discovered via Nirvana. I remember buying their On Fire album from Missing Records on Oswald Street. The album not only contains this excellent cover version of Ceremony, but also one of George Harrison's Isn't It A Pity.

Galaxie 500  recognise the beauty of Ceremony and add on an extra 90 seconds to the New Order version. They start with the guitar riff in all its raw glory, slowly coaxing in some light high hats and the second riff. The vocals are strained and sound all the better for it, the drums sound primitive in comparison to Stephen Morris' work with New Order, the bass is low in the mix, unlike Hook's mighty bass for New Order.

The build to the concluding Watching forever... segment is glorious - sounding fragile and soulful at the same time before the band get lost in guitars and drums for the final 90 seconds.

It is a cracking cover version that remains true to the original in many ways, but stretches it out and plays on the strength of the riffs, melody and lyrics.

This is why events unnerve me
They find it all, a different story
Notice whom for wheels are turning
Turn again and turn towards this time

All she asks the strength to hold me
Then again the same old story
World will travel, oh so quickly
Travel first and lean towards this time

Oh I'll break them down, no mercy shown
Heaven knows it's got to be this time
Watching her, these things she said
The times she cried
Too frail to wake this time

Oh I'll break them down, no mercy shown
Heaven knows it's got to be this time
Avenues all lined with trees
Picture me and then you start watching
Watching forever, forever
Watching love grow, forever
Letting me know, forever

Previous covers of the month

Sunday 15 January 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 4

The Monkees kick off the 4th instalment of the Never Ending Mixtape with their psychedelic masterpiece Porpoise Song (Theme from Head). I remember reading about Head as a teenager - did The Monkees really make a crazed LSD inspired film co-written by Jack Nicholson?

YES - and it is even crazier than it sounds.

Moving on from The Monkees we also have some psychedelic tunes by the likes of the Polyphonic Spree (who have performed Porpoise Song with The Monkees), Flaming Lips, Ride and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

You'll need to go down to the 50th song to start this section of the Never Ending Playlist embedded below, or start from the beginning! Or you can play each individual song below.

Porpoise Song - The Monkees
Wanting to feel, to know what is real

Light and Day/Reach For The Sun - The Polyphonic Spree
Seeing The Polyphonic Spree live is a little like a religious experience for me. It's not just their robes that led to some people questioning if they're a cult; it's the sense of freedom in their songs, asking questions and searching for answers, being positive, being reflective, being true to themselves and seeing how far they could take it.

Race For The Prize (remix) - The Flaming Lips
The Soft Bulletin is an incredible album. This song used to (and may still) start Flaming Lips sets. I remember seeing them at the Barrowlands and Wayne and his band were their own roadies - true punks - they saved money when touring by sorting their own equipment. They burst on to the stage with fans dressed as animals, confetti, a light that Wayne swung above his head and played this glorious song. 

The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
OOH haven't listened to this in years, what a tune, what a groove. I love everything about it, the vocals are strained and soulful.

I'll Be Around - Yo La Tengo
Just sublime, what a gorgeous riff and feel to this song.

French Disko - Stereolab
Stereolab were beloved by John Peel and that is how I discovered them. Unique punk pop with a psychedelic (disco) edge. One of those bands that can transport you away from reality to get lost in their music, grooves, imagery and imagination.

Dream Baby Dream - Suicide
Suicide were on of those bands that loads of my favourite artists would mention - Bobby Gillespie, Norman Blake, Duglas T Stewart.... among others (later on James Murphy). I first heard this on a free CD given away with Mojo/Uncut many, many moons ago and instantly fell for it.

Keep that dream burning
Dream baby dream, forever

Touch - A Certain Ratio
Not a band I am very familiar with at all but I've just finished reading Peter Hook's Substance book and I wanted to take some time to check them out. This is funky as funk. The band would regularly venture to New York and the disco/club scene had a HUGE impact on them.They play Glasgow in February.

Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
Have to include New Order as I've been listening to them a lot recently while reading Hooky's book. This and Temptation are my real favourites.

Lips Like Sugar - Echo and the Bunnymen
The Bunnymen's Songs To Learn And Sing is a sensational (compilation) album. The belief, ambition, arrogance and audacity of the Bunnymen transpired to songs like Lips Like Sugar - incredible.

Leave The All Behind - Ride
Ride were really young when they burst on to the scene with a string of EP's that led to their debut album Nowhere. It was only with the release of second album Going Blank Again that I discovered them. This just blew me away; over 8-minutes of blissed out guitar psychedelia.

Friday 6 January 2017

KVASIR and Wuh Oh at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

Last night I got the first gig of the year under my belt at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. The reason for my early January outing was to catch two artists that I have blogged about and enjoyed over the last year or so - KVASIR and Wuh Oh. They were joined by Ultra's and Stillhound to make up a 4 band bill - offering exceptional value for money - if meaning a late night finish.

There was quite a smattering of bands and media in attendance to catch some of the buzziest acts in Scotland; Jim Gellatly, Vic Galloway, Saint PHNX, Miaoux Miaoux, Bad Mannequins and Crash Club to name a few.

KVASIR was certainly someone who drew a crowd, curiosity drawing people to the mysterious producer who plays wearing a fencing mask that has been souped up and electrified to look a little Daft Punk. I described his EP as the most sublime music being created in Scotland at present, it gathered excellent reviews and airplay and many are predicting big things for him in 2017 - even bigger after catching him last night!

KVASIR in action at King Tut's
Picture by @brisbanecameron

KVASIR didn't waste any time in showing why - taking to the stage shortly after 8.40pm (his choice to go on first so he was in complete control of the sound) and literally lighting up King Tut's with a 25-minute set of pure electro pop perfection; the previously released EP and a couple of new songs.

I woke up humming the infectious melody to Lyon. I always take that as a good sign if I can remember a hook or a melody.

With his own light show and a huge flight case with a bank of equipment to run up Tut's electricty bill, KVASIR looked and sounded the part. I would really like to see him in a club environment - get this guy to the Sub Club!

The light show in time to the beats and drops looked incredible and I had to smile when checking tweets from last night when I came across this one

is unlike anything we have ever seen at . Stunned

KVASIR wasn't only conjuring up all kinds of beautiful sounds by his overworked fingertips on various gadgets, he was also singing live from behind his mask. It was clear to see that a mic was fitted into his mask and although his face was shielded to protect his identity you could just see enough through the mask to see him singing. To do that and everything else shows real talent. It was a sublime set.

Ultras were up next - great band name (not so easy to find on Social Media), although after checking a couple of songs in advance, I have to be honest and say that they were not for me. I did catch their last couple of songs and plenty of people enjoyed their set with one person next to me commenting that they sounded like early Biffy.

Stillhound got people dancing and I mean really dancing. It was fantastic to see young kids (and a couple who looked in their 60s) throwing themselves about with a sense of freedom. Stillhound used to be Discopolis, a band who I blogged about and caught live a couple of times in 2011.

They had something then and they have something now. All of their songs seem to have a beautiful flowing undercurrent, allowing the band to playfully come up with guitar and synth riffs and bass grooves. The trio also have a fantastic range of vocals among them and they combine all of the aforementioned in a kind of dreamy, clubby vibe. The band released an album in November 2016 that I will definitely go back to check out. Judging by the people dancing and singing a-long, many already have the album. Check it out below.

Wuh Oh (aka Peter Ferguson) was headlining and demonstrated exceptional skills with samples by switching, cutting, mixing, looping and playing piano and synths over the top of them - adding and dropping beats as he went. His exceptional Stay Tuned song is one I described as the sound of summer on ecstasy, sample heavy, uplifting pure pop, sounding like a lost cut from The Avalanches Since I Left You in a previous blog. He has loads more besides, isn't afraid to experiment and certainly isn't afraid to show he is having a good time on stage and that translated to the audience who joined in by dancing and some looked on in amazement at the sounds he created - jazzy and houses piano, funky beats, heavy bass.

Wuh Oh showed all kinds of skills and an eclectic taste. With long lanky hair and over sized jumper he just got completely lost in the music and took a large part of the audience with him. I really look forward to watching this artist develop over the coming year.

Picture by @jimgellatly 

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Barrowland idea

Calvin Harris to blow the roof off the Barrowland......imagine.....

Scottish music fans regularly debated the future of Glasgow's world famous Barrowland Ballroom for a number of years, particularly when the Academy and the ABC came on to the scene. There was no doubt that the number of shows at the legendary venue fell in number, but 2016 saw Barras end the year in a rich vein of form.

Teenage Fanclub, Deacon Blue, Frightened Rabbit, Twin Atlantic and Fatherson were Scottish acts who elected to have homecoming Christmas shows at the Barrowland Ballroom.

It got me thinking.....

Could the Barras have a month of Christmas shows? Turn it into a Barrowland Homecoming Festival?

It easily could. Here is the Scottish acts who could feasibly book their Christmas show for 2017 already, many would sell out instantly. Can you imagine Calvin Harris blowing the roof off the place? Paolo Nutini ripping it up and singing his heart out and going for a pint in McChuills afterwards?

Paulo could probably do a  month at the Barras on his own!

Many acts (Scottish or otherwise) still prefer two or three nights at the Barrowland than opting for a larger single show. Who can blame them for choosing the best venue in the world with the best atmosphere?!

I have let my imagination run (easily) wild and made up a few imaginary support slots/double bills just to fit a number of bands in. I guess you would have give some acts a couple of nights. Who have I missed?

Over to the venue and promoters who could make this happen....

2017 (Imaginary) Christmas Homecoming Festival at Glasgow Barrowland

Friday 1st Dec - Teenage Fanclub with special guest Edwyn Collins
2nd - Deacon Blue with special guests Justin Currie (I know from playing football with Justin Currie that he would love to play the Barrowland again - ideally with Del Amitri!)
3rd - The Twilight Sad

Mon 4th - Idlewild 
5th - The Waterboys
6th - Frightened Rabbit
7th - Twin Atlantic
8th - The View
9th - Franz Ferdinand with special guests The Vaselines
10th - Belle and Sebastian with special guests BMX Bandits

Mon 11th - Mogwai with special guests The Pastels
12th - Simple Minds
13th - Simple Minds
14th  -  Chvrches
15th - Primal Scream with special guests The Jesus and Mary Chain
16th - Travis
17th - Arab Strap

Mon 18th - Amy McDonald with special guest KT Tunstall
19th - Biffy Clyro with special guests Fatherson
20th - Biffy Clyro with special guests Fatherson
21st - Paulo Nutini with special guest Gerry Cinnamon
22nd - Paolo Nutini with special guest Gerry Cinnamon
23rd - Calvin Harris 
24th -  Calvin Harris 

27th - Texas
28th - Runrig
29th - Runrig
30th - Edinburgh Hogmanay warm up show (for whoever is heading to Edinburgh for the bells). Worked well for Primal Scream a number of years back. Failing that The Bay City Rollers

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Scottish music scene in 2017

What will 2017 bring to the Scottish Music Scene? This blog focuses on a number of things I'll be looking out for through the year. There will no doubt be a number of surprises as well but read on for links to festivals, labels, bands, videos, songs and albums......


T in the Park - what is the future/is there a future?
We should know the answer to the question hanging over the Scottish music scene by September/October; will T in the Park return in some shape or form in 2018? By that stage DF Concerts will have assessed their Glasgow Green shows (see below), along with the usual Bellahouston shows. They'll also have assessed site options and potential hoops they have to jump through, and considered if they have the desire to jump through them. The DF team will definitely miss T, however, if their Glasgow Green, Bellahouston and stadium shows all sell well then they might not miss the cash.

Will Scotland miss T? Well I never thought I would say this, but I don't think too many will. Times change and 2017 is set to be a year that emphasises that more than most.

Glasgow Green 8-10 July
Radiohead are already confirmed for one of the nights at Glasgow Green, Coldplay are rumoured to be another. Who else could come and sell out that kind of venue? I'd love to see a double bill of Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem but that is likely to prove wishful thinking - I'll settle for seeing them grace the Barrowland Ballroom again - if I can get tickets!

Electric Fields 1st-2nd September 2017
Electric Fields jumped up to 2-days with relative ease and now that T and Wickerman have been removed from the calendar this presents a real opportunity for the boutique festival to firmly establish itself. 2016 was delightful - the location and setting is beautiful, the atmosphere was exceptional and the line-up eclectic in all the right ways. Do they stick with the 5,000 capacity or look to increase?

Kelburn Garden Party 30th June - 3rd July 2017
Kelburn is another festival that could make a real statement in 2017. It has been becoming increasingly popular through word of mouth. For fellow Glaswegians it is exceptionally easy to get to, it has a real eclectic line-up and seems equally family and raver friendly.

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 3rd-5th August 2017
Franz Ferdinand, Sister Sledge and KT Tunstall have already been announced for the Tartan Heart Festival; 3 fantastic festival acts. The festival usually sells out and these acts are bound to ensure that happens again. Get your tickets fast if you are interested.

The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award

The SAY Award is going from strength to strength, highlighting the rich artistic talent that our small country has to offer the world. Anna Meredith won the 2016 award with her Varmints album, beating off competition from the likes of FFS, Emma Pollock, Young Fathers and Chvrches.

The likes of Meredith, Kathryn Joseph (2015 winner) and previous shortlisted contenders like Happy Meals have really benefited from the exposure generated from this award. I always look forward to the longlist being announced so I can check out loads of interesting music.


Last Night From Glasgow - Founded in 2016, LNfG had an incredible first year (even if I do say so myself). 7-inch singles by Mark W Georgsson, Emme Woods and Be Charlotte, a USB credit card album by Stephen Solo, gatefold vinyl album by TeenCanteen, USB slap wrist band by BooHooHoo and some digital releases as well! All on top of having 150 members! Our members got all of that music plus invites to launch shows all for £50 per annum.

As a co-founder and board member of LNfG I know that we have some incredible stuff planned for 2017 beginning with the release of Mark W Georgsson's stunning Faces and Places album in January. We celebrate our 1st anniversary with a show at Stereo on 30th March with BooHooHoo headlining and further guests set to be announced in the near future.

Fuzzkill Records - As the label who first released Catholic Action and Spinning Coin, fans of indie/punk/pop/grunge will be looking to see who Fuzzkill unearth next. They clearly have a great ear and good taste and I look forward to hearing what 2017 brings.

Olive Grove Records - I always keep an eye on Lloyd's label. 2016 was productive with the release of Homemade Lemonade by Ette receiving huge plaudits, including being named in the top 5 albums on Bandcamp for 2016. There were also setbacks with Woodenbox calling it a day but Lloyd's taste and nature will ensure he unearths something new - I look forward to finding out what that might be.

Geographic - read on for mentions of Spinning Coin's album and The Pastels archive project. 2017 could be a busy one for Stephen and Katrina's label.

Song by Toad - are buoyed by the return of Meursault and the success of the Modern Studies Swell to Great LP so enter 2017 in a rich vein of form.

Nightschool Records received a fair bit of money from me last year as I bought releases by Happy Meals, Molly Nilsson and Rose McDowall. They clearly like their pop music, although you can dig deeper for more alternative releases. Definitely a label to watch and Happy Meals will be releasing a summer album - perfect!

Scottish Fiction released the magnificent Mt.Doubt In Awe Of Nothing album in 2016 and have already announced plans for a split 7-inch with Mt.Doubt and ForeignFOXX

Indie / DIY action

TeenCanteen ended 2016 by heading into La Chunky studio to record some new songs. They will hopefully be making an announcement on a release in the near future. The band had an excellent 2016 with heaps of praise on their debut album Say It All With A Kiss and if they can follow that swiftly then the momentum will continue to build.

Spinning Coin brought out their debut single in 2016 on The Pastels Geographic label and followed that by heading North to Helmsdale to record an album with Edwyn Collins. With the approval of two legends from the Scottish indie scene it is safe to say that a few people are looking forward to this release. Stephen Pastel wrote on the Teenage Fanclub forum that their debut single Albany reminded him of the feeling he got from The Boy Hairdressers as they turned into Teenage Fanclub. Their recent tour with the Fanclub definitely won them a number of fans.

Catholic Action had an excellent 2016 with the re-release of L.U.V and the follow up Rita Ora. Teenage Fanclub also took this band out for a few dates and an album must surely be in the pipeline.

Gerry Cinnamon certainly hasn't rushed his debut album, but does he need to? Demo's and videos of songs from live shows are ensuring the word of mouth buzz surrounding him continues to build. Gerry sold out the ABC at the end of 2016 and I wouldn't bet against him headlining the Barrowland in 2017. We will hopefully get the album though - the demand is there!

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 have already played the Barrowland and ended the year by also selling out the ABC. They are my favourite live band in Scotland due to the sheer positivity and good feeling they generate. The band and crowd become one and you are guaranteed to leave a live show with a smile on your face. I hope to be recording a guest podcast with the Colonel and his loyal lieutenant in the near future.

Major Breakthrough?

A number of Scottish acts have signed for major labels over the last few years; White, Kloe, Model Aeroplanes, Fatherson, Neon Waltz..... none have broken through. Two (White and Neon Waltz) have been dropped.  Fatherson are in for the long haul and Kloe and Model Aeroplanes are young enough to still do something if they are given time write (or be given) a song(s) to break them. Think of the way Chvrches exploded on to the scene with a string of singles.

Will any Scottish acts snapped up by a major in 2017? It is becoming increasingly difficult, not only to get signed, but to break through. Who are the contenders?

Saint PHNX - seem poised for a deal after Radio 1 airplay, the use of their songs in major sporting events including the CL final, a publishing deal for singer Stevie Jukes, crazy Spotify action and by making all the right moves including securing a fantastic managerial team. I've been singing the praises of Stevie Jukes as a major label writer and star for some time. Will 2017 be his breakthrough year with Saint Phnx? If so he is ready.

Be Charlotte - there has been a load of hype about Be Charlotte - an incredibly talented young 19 year old from Dundee. I spoke with Charlotte at the launch of her Machines That Breathe single and was impressed with her down to earth attitude, work ethic and her talent. At one point she stepped to the front of the stage and sang acapella - it was stunning. Charlotte is sassy, stylish and she has time on her side and also an ever increasing stockpile of songs. I expect 2017 to be another busy year and more forwards progression for the youngster.

K V A S I R - the debut EP by K V A S I R was the most sublime release by a Scottish artist in 2016. I know that he has much more recorded. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a major label or highly established indie came in to give him the platform his music richly deserves. He plays King Tut's on Thursday 5th January.

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2016 was a productive year for a lot of bands I have been following for a long time, that looks set to continue in 2017, with 5 long term favourite Scottish bands of mine set for releases and touring throughout the year

Teenage Fanclub
TFC follow up the success of the Here album by continuing to tour in promotion. After hammering September-December, the Fannies return after a festive break with a European tour followed by a jaunt to Japan and Australia. Norman Blake has also promised West Coast of America dates and a number of festivals have been confirmed. Will they play a Scottish festival? Or make a welcome return to Kelvingrove Bandstand? Watch this space...

Jesus and Mary Chain
JAMC follow their reunion and Psychocandy shows with a new album Damage and Joy, due for release at the end of March. This will be the Reid brothers first album since 1998. Expect shows, festivals and lots of media if Alan McGee has anything to do with it.

Belle and Sebastian
The Belles have been recording and from Stuart Murdoch's tweets and online diary it sounds like it will be released via a string of EP's rather than an album. This points towards a prolonged burst of activity but at a pace controlled by the band. I expect some secret shows, special shows and lots of great stuff. The band have already announced a show at Chelsea Royal Hospital in June, so expect a release before or around then with other dates to come.

The Pastels
I've been so busy lately that I haven't been into Monorail for ages! Last year Stephen Pastel informed me that he was working on an archive project for the band. This involved sourcing a lot of old recordings and confirming who owns what. The Pastels have a rich catalogue of material crying out for a reissue and reappraisal. Fingers crossed they can get the paperwork/legal stuff sorted and we get some releases, press (Stephen's musical taste and knowledge really comes across) and shows.

I only discovered this early Creation release by The Pastels last year
Million Tears is guitar pop perfection 

BMX Bandits
I was fortunate to spend a lovely sunny afternoon with Duglas last summer and also met him at several shows and events after that, so I know that he has been recording with Stuart Kidd amongst others. I look forward to hearing what they have come up with and to seeing them with TeenCanteen as part of Independent Venue week in January when they play the Bungalow in Paisley on January 23rd. EVENT INFO HERE