Sunday 29 July 2018

Del Amitri at the Barrowland Ballroom

The Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom on a Saturday night is like a Cup Final of a gig. There is a heightened sense of excitement and expectation levels are high. The crowd are like an extra man, 90-minutes can fly by in the blink of an eye.

Last night Del Amitri returned to the hallowed ballroom, scene of many triumphant nights in the past, and they immediately gave the impression that they wanted to be playing this incredible venue just as much as their fans wanted to see them there. This was a cup final they had longed to play since regrouping to play some shows in 2014.

They kicked things off with a beautiful Be My Downfall. Justin Currie was in fine voice from the off, the band gelled with ease, the smiles on their faces made it clear how happy they were to be back at the Barrowland. There was an instant connection with the fans, a clear chemistry between the band and it didn't let up.

Del Amitri played with a confidence and swagger, a band full of belief; in their songs, in their playing and with their loyal fans. It was great to see and  they swiftly followed by playing Roll To Me.

The band dug into their back catalogue to play a string of gems; the flowing poetry of Nothing Ever Happens was breathtaking with the chorus sung heartily by a crowd in equally fine voice. Kiss This Thing Goodbye was a joyous romp, When We Were Young sounded and looked like a band having real fun.

Driving With The Brakes On tugged on the heartstrings, the band were tight as Currie bared his soul on this stunning song with the brilliant double kiss off at the end of the chorus;

it's hard to say you love someone
it's hard to say you don't

Always The Last To Know had a real kick to it, a new song was delivered with pace and energy and offers hope to fans that the band are back for good, or at least for a while. They can do things on their terms now.

The band literally bounced off each other at times on stage, especially on the faster songs like Stone Cold Sober, but they also huddled together to deliver their glorious tender ballads, and they don't really come any more glorious than Spit In The Rain. The crowd gave this gem a special ovation.

The Del's finished a memorable performance with Move Away Jimmy Blue, fans had their hands in the air or around loved ones as they sang along. Some of the super fans will be back for round 2 tonight - lucky them.

Move away Jimmy Blue
Before your small, small town turns around
And swallows you

Check Justin Currie's Facebook page for his own fine musings on their current tour.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Never Ending Mixtape Part 26

Welcome to the 26th blog rounding up the latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify.

We have new music from Glasgow band Cloth with their shimmering reverby guitars and dreamy vocals, the band have only played 3 gigs but have already attracted the attention of Steve Lamaq and deservedly so. Snail Mail's Lush album is a beauty (see previous blog), we have a couple of classics from The Vaselines, some superb lofi pop from Go-Kart Mozart, a guitar punk pop gem from Frank Black, Courtney Barnett is still on regular rotation, the Gorillaz are back and as always offer some magical moments and I also include one of their early efforts in the form of a sublime slice of sunshine remix, it doesn't get much better than the trio of Bunnymen songs added, we have a couple of 70's era McCartney numbers and one from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - a blog on their album is coming soon. Oh and check out Iggy Pop with Underworld!

The Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify is heading towards 700 songs. Scroll down to the end to play the latest additions, or simply press shuffle and enjoy.

Head to Spotify and search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape or CLICK HERE

Demo Love - Cloth
Pristine - Snail Mail
Wide Awake - Parquet Courts
Headache - Frank Black
I Could Be Happy - Altered Images
Son Of A Gun - The Vaselines
Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam - The Vaselines
Paradise Circus - Hope Sandoval
A New World - Go-Kart Mozart
Electric Rock n Roll - Go-Kart Mozart
City Looks Pretty - Courtney Barnett
Lake Zurich - Gorillaz
19-2000 (Soulchild remix) - Gorillaz
Sometimes - Gerry Cinnamon
Ocean Rain - Echo and the Bunnymen
Crystal Days - Echo and the Bunnymen
The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen
Love Is Strange - Wings
Sunshine Sometimes (earliest mix/demo) - Paul McCartney
I'll See Big - Underworld and Iggy Pop
Les héros de Barbes - Juniore
Our House - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Mainland - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Monday 23 July 2018

Lush by Snail Mail

The second of my micro blogs looking at my albums of 2018 to date.

Snail Mail is the alias band of 19-year old Lindsey Jordan and Lush is her brilliant debut album, released in June on Matador Records.

Lush captivated me immediately; reverb laden guitars, heart on sleeve lyrics and a gorgeous voice that is sometimes gloriously lost in the music and then sometimes pushed to the fore as everything drops. It is rough around the edges at times, but that is part of the charm - this is a young artist developing but promising a great deal. 

Speaking Terms is stunning, the way the groove comes in after Jordan spits I'll see you around is thrilling as Jordan goes on to promise I won't let you take me for a ride.

Pristine is urgent and confessional, coming across like a diary entry at times, a conversation at others.

It just feels like, the same party every weekend, doesn't it?

Heat Wave starts with a gorgeous guitar and Jordan confessing;

I'm so tired of moving on
Spending every weekend so far gone
Heat wave nothing to do
Woke up in my clothes having dreamt of you

Snail Mail comes to The Great Eastern, Glasgow's new music venue run by the great team at Synergy Concerts on Tuesday 23rd October.

Check the album from all the usual sources.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Come Rain Or Come Shine

Yesterday, at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, the strong sense of community that Last Night From Glasgow (LNFG) has generated in a little over 2-years of existence was highlighted, amplified and displayed on its largest scale yet.

Collaborations, partnerships and friendships with artists (musical and visual), venues, other labels, label members and fellow music fans has been at the heart of the LNFG from the off, helping to create special and memorable atmospheres. To see that transfer from venues like the Old Hairdressers, the Hug and Pint and Stereo to the Bandstand made me feel quite emotional at times.

With the support of Glasgow Life, Last Night From Glasgow reached out to fellow DIY labels Scottish Fiction, Olive Grove, LP Records and Foxstar Records to curate and deliver 8-hours of music in a truly stunning environment. In keeping with the sense of community and social responsibility, there was a collection and raffle in aid of SAMH.

As the name of the event suggested, this was happening come rain or shine. Other than a tiny couple of spitting showers, the event was dry and at times the sun even popped its hat on.

With 2 young kids we didn't arrive until after lunchtime, getting in just after 2pm to meet friends and in time to see Cloth, a recent signing to LNFG who have stirred quite a bit of interest through their debut single Demo Love, a dreamy, almost shoe gaze-y (lazy blogging!) slice of gorgeousness. I was keen to hear and see more. The three piece of two guitars and drums (and a little bit of programming?) were playing only their 3rd show and watching from the back I was impressed with their dreamy sound and immediately wiped out my shoe gaze-y take on the band - there was also a kind of The XX vibe to them. The chilled grooves and sounds that they created were beautifully backed by the incredible greenery offered by Kelvingrove Park behind the Bandstand. I really like them and look forward to seeing them again.

Cloth - pic by Scots Whay Hae

Codist created a glorious racket. At times they rocked out, at times their was a popper edge to their guitars, at times reminding me (in a good way) of a lot of the bands I listened to as a teenager. With an album coming out on LP Records this is another band I'd like to see again.

I'd caught my sister Carla J Easton playing in a flat the night before (see previous blog) and now she took to the stage with her 5-piece band, opening with the psychedelic pop of Bird In The Sky from her Homemade Lemonade album released under her Ette alias. Recent singles Lights In The Dark and Wanting What I Can't Have went down well, while Milk and Honey was a joyous romp. Carla's debut album under her own name will be out on Olive Grove Records in September/October. Her band were superb, Calum Muir on drums was on fire, the sparkling guitar riffs generated by Rory from Ava Love (Bwani Junction) were perfect for the event and the sun shining through, Gus on synths and backing vocals looked impeccably cool and Paul Kelly on bass generated great grooves.

Carla J Easton and her band - pic by Scots Whay Hae 

Mt Doubt are a young band that I have only seen at one of the Girl Effect charity shows my sister has put on, so this was the first time i had seen them performing their own material. I was mightily impressed. Their album released via Scottish Fiction won them many friends and fans and it was easy to see why. Leo Bargery and Annie Booth almost co-front the band, they look fantastic and gel with ease, their voices can vary - deep, rich, soulful, pure and true. And they create a brilliant sound - definitely ones to watch.

Medicine Men strode on to the stage with a purpose, they hadn't been shy in voicing via social media about how excited they were by the prospect of playing the bandstand. Opener Show What You're Made Of surged and soared, sounding made for an environment like this. They played a blistering set with Ceiling To Floor probably being my real highlight of the day. Psychedelic guitar pop with an urgent and soulful vocal by Ian Mackinnon. Set closer Out Of The Light is electronic guitar bliss, a Chemical Primal Scream Brothers beauty with a great groove. The band were in tip top form and I look forward to hearing what they come out with next. The one new song they played sounded very promising and they even threw in a Flock of Seagulls cover!

Medicine Men - pic by Scots Whay Hae

An emotional Ian Smith from Last Night From Glasgow took to the stage to introduce Warren McIntyre and the Starry Skies, thanking all the bands, labels, volunteers, Glasgow Life and everyone for coming.

It was great to catch up with Ian, the driving force behind the label. We looked out at the crowd and laughed and marvelled at the scale of the event, thinking back to our first meeting with 4 friends to form the label. It's come a long way in that time and that is largely thanks to Ian's exceptional drive with the incredible support of his wife Julia who was celebrating her birthday. It was notable that they received thanks and recognition from everyone - richly deserved.

Warren and his band played a beautiful set, opening with a song called Be Kind that seemed to encapsulate everything that Warren stands for - an extremely lovely (and handsome), positive and kind person. 

The Starry Skies are extremely talented musicians, even though they were short of two of the regular members of the band, they all gelled with ease and the songs flowed effortlessly. Closing song Let Love Come Back To You was a highlight of the day, a great guitar pop song with the kind of hooks and chorus that implants itself in your head for the rest of the day ... and the next day! Warren and the Starry Skies will be releasing a new album in October.

A great day of music in a stunning setting.

Photo by Scots Whay Have

Saturday 21 July 2018

Turnbury Road Flat Gig

Last night I headed towards the West End of Glasgow for a flat gig in a beautiful flat on Turnbury Road.  As I walked down the quiet and leafy road just off Hyndland Road I could hear the sound of laughter coming out of the large bay windows of a 1st floor flat. I had found the location.

The flat gig had been organised spontaneously with only a couple of days notice by my sister to help a couple of Canadian friends who were over in the UK for a very DIY tour, playing in friends/fans homes or local pubs before finishing with sets at the Indietracks Festival.

Carla had managed to get them on to the Come Rain Or Shine event at Kelvingrove Bandstand, so this was an extra little show for them which they greatly appreciated.

The line-up for the flat show was; Carla J Easton w/ Paul Kelly, Tim the Mute, Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines) and Marlena Moore.

Carla opened the show, welcoming the 40 odd neighbours, fans and friends into the huge living room of her new flat (her boyfriends). She explained that the show was free, but there was a donation bucket for the artists and merch available, highlighting that Tim and Marlena were over from Canada and any small donation would help. With a BYOB policy, people were very generous and rightly so given the entertainment provided.

Just over  month ago my sister was diagnosed with viral meningitis; given a spinal tap, all manner of other tests and spending 4-days hooked up to a drip. It was a worrying time! Earlier in the day the doctor had given Carla the all clear and it was great to see her looking like her normal positive and energetic self again.

A short set of songs from her forthcoming debut album (well at least her debut under her own name) that she recorded in Canada last September was well received. Title track Impossible Stuff features playful piano melodies and a soaring chorus that can be sung after one listen, Dreamers On The Run was beautiful and the Girl From Before was all dreamy. Carla's friend and bandmate in TeenCanteen Sita was sitting on the floor and as Carla introduced Honey (TeenCanteen's debut single) she asked Sita if she could remember the harmonies. Sita being Sita was totally up for it but rather than get up she sang them from where she was, the keys and guitar were plugged in but vocals were unplugged, it made for a quite special surround sound performance.

All pictures courtesy of Scots Whay Have

Next up was Tim The Mute who captivated the room from the off with his humour, often self depreciating, always remarkably honest. Tim's melancholy songs with two or three chords touched on his depression, his fantasies and his life in general. I loved the line from one of his songs about lying in bed reading a book about lying in a bed reading books. There were some brilliant lines and Tim seems to be full of energy - organising this trip to the UK, all the shows and also running Kingfisher Blues Records. Think Daniel Johnstone writing with Evan Dando.

Tim ended his set by saying that he had attended a Vaselines show in Vancouver a number of years ago and Eugene had signed his LP, but has misheard his name as Jim. He had gone straight to the toilet and amended the J to a T. It was a lovely story, he couldn't believe he was now over in Glasgow playing a flat show with Eugene! The power of like-minded people meeting and bonding over social media in full effect.

Next up was special guest Eugene Kelly. To watch Eugene playing at such close quarters was an incredible privilege. High Tide Low Tide opened proceedings and we were treated to some songs from a future solo album that is in the works. One song, written from the perspective of a dog was equally clever and funny, also full of hooks with my favourite being you throw the ball, I'll fetch the ball and the brilliant line you're a dogs best friend.

The closing song was all about being last to be picked for sports at school and was also fall of Eugene's clever observational lyrics and hooks. Brilliant guitar pop.

Closing the show was Marlena Moore, cutting a striking presence as she sang in front of the huge bay windows with the sun setting. With her eyes closed Moore's voice soared as her bedroom diaries were told to an audience with grunge-y electric guitar. Moore captivated the crowd who urged her to play another couple of songs after her short set finished.

The sets completed, there as time for people to buy merch, make donations and stay and talk. It was a brilliant evening and based on the evidence of Sofar Sounds (see video below) and how popular house gigs are via Pledge Music, this is a gig format set to grow.

Thursday 19 July 2018

Tell Me How You Really Feel

During 2015 (95), 2016 (95) and 2017(93) I wrote a total of 283 blog posts. The prolonged spell of good weather we have been experiencing in Glasgow has had a huge impact on my blog writing. In a determined effort to try and keep to circa 90 blog posts a year I'm going to write a string of micro-blogs on my favourite albums of 2018 to date.

I'll start with Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnet.

Barnett's way with words, her storytelling, melodies, guitar sounds and jams with her band are captivating. All of this reminds me a little bit of Evan Dando and The Lemonheads, but Barnett is no copycat. She is very unique in her confidence, delivery and talent.

With a background in a couple of garage grunge bands, Barnett isn't afraid to turn her guitars up, but she can also produce gorgeous tender moments, the breakdown in City Looks Pretty being one example. Barnett and her band can also really get into a groove and make everything flow.

Vocal melodies sound like they are sometimes created off the cuff but always with ease and with a hook and their are some brilliant guitar riffs to go with them. Charity is one of my favourites from the album.

Barnett's 2015 debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit is outstanding. Her style and humour really shine through. I'm gutted I missed her at the Barrowland in June. Fear not, Courtney and her band are on the road non-stop and return to Glasgow on 20th November to play the Academy.

I promised a micro blog - so here it is. Check this brilliant artist out via all the usual sources.

Thursday 5 July 2018

The rise and rise of Gerry Cinnamon

Pretty much everyone who was at TRNSMT on Saturday was at Gerry Cinnamon

The rise ..... and rise of Gerry Cinnamon fills me full of excitement, hope and wonder.

This guy isn't just ripping up the rulebook .... he isn't interested in it ... won't have read it ... won't care about it ... Gerry is doing things his way, playing by his own rules, keeping to his strong beliefs and it is working.

Gerry's rise was highlighted, underlined and set in bold at the TRNSMT festival that took place at the weekend. Cinnamon performed to the largest crowd of the weekend in glorious sunshine..... unsigned....with no marketing budget for his album.....virtually no airplay (come in Radio Scotland!!!!).... pause and consider that.

My spine tingled when Gerry approached the mic after prolonged applause to introduce his song Kampfire Vampire, viewing the crowd he said;

Look at this, look at it, it might never happen again, remember this day, best days of your life
This is a song for any young musicians kicking about, anybody on the circuit trying to start out
Don't feel the need to pull your pants down to anyone in the industry

The told me it wouldn't work

They told me I couldn't sing with a Scottish accent
They told me I couldn't record it myself
They told me I couldn't
Look what happened, know what I mean?
Do what you want man, see whats in there (points to heart), that's all that matters

The view from the sound desk for Gerry Cinnamon

Gerry then played his heart out, tearing through the song and firing out his lyrics dreams, bullsh*t scenes, rules were made to be broken

And oh how this young guy is breaking the rules; upsetting the old school, the cliques and the 'scene'. Cinnamon is making his own rules and with the help of his exceptionally passionate fanbase, he is creating a new scene.

It really is quite incredible. As a seasoned music fan I've never seen anything like it. In the 00's did see some bands like Artic Monkeys breaking through via MySpace, but they went on to get signed to a major label pretty quickly and get sucked into the machine. Of course they have gone on to become one of the biggest bands in the planet, but what hoops have they had to jump through along the way? 

And things have changed, MySpace has died and there are plenty of new ways to work as an artist or band that don't involve selling your soul. Cinnamon is proving that with the way he is working. Word of mouth is still the best form of promotion and with Social Media and online streaming, word of mouth is spreading like wildfire.

That word of mouth is coming from Cinnamon's incredible fans. Seriously, catch his TRNSMT 2018 performance on the iPlayer or read on to view his 2017 performance. Go on YouTube for fan footage or look on Twitter. Gerry Cinnamon is connecting with people in a way that I don't think I've ever seen before - certainly not from a Scottish artist. 

I don't doubt for a second that labels are not monitoring this situation. They will smell the possibility of money. Who is this young lad playing to virtually every punter at TRNSMT? Gerry and his tight team may well be fielding offers in the future, they may have done already. Does he need a label? Does he want one?

As a fan, I really don't think he does. He can record and release music to a dedicated (and growing) fanbase and play festivals and sold out shows across the country.

We'll get back to TRNSMT 2018 in a moment.

Gerry had performed last year. Hi social media posts from that time really indicate how important it was, fuelling his natural fire and taking hom on to the next level. You can watch his whole TRNSMT 2017 set that was filmed by the BBC below.

A lot has happened in the year that followed TRNSMT 2017. Gerry released his debut album. Yes that's right, the show and response above happened while Gerry had only released one single!  By the end of 2017  there were two sold out nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and scenes of Cinnamon-mania across Scotland.

The doubters who said people wouldn't get it outwith Glasgow were left looking dumb as Cinnamon strode into 2018 playing sold-out shows across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Shows were sold out, venues were upgraded and those shows were sold out as well. Someone in Lisburn even captured Gerry as a mural - insane.

You only need to listen to Cinnamon's debut Erratic Cinematic and watch him live to understand why the artist and his music are generating a buzz all over the place.

Gerry writes from the heart, from experience, with honesty, soul, humour and with no drama or effects. He lays himself and his songs bare across his debut album. A rich and soulful voice, packed and racked with emotion, an acoustic guitar, drum machine, mouth organ and loop pedal.

The way he tells his stories, shares his thoughts, regrets, dreams and memories is really clever and yet really simple. Cinnamon tells it like it is and he tells it from his heart. Cinnamon connects with people, he touches people.

Diamonds In The Mud is verse after verse of memory with real emotion attached to it and a clear love of Glasgow; Sometimes pokes fun at himself with the line I'm not the ideal person to be lecturing on life before going on to talk about things he has learned; What Have You Done is Cinnamon questioning himself and his life, being a messed up circle in a room of squares

Belter always bring a smile to my face, but then I totally feel it when Gerry sings about having been stung a few times so he doesn't let anyone in. He has that ability to make you smile, make you think and most importantly - to make you feel something, something you can relate to.

Lullaby mixes demons with a beautiful tender chorus; Fortune Favours The Bold has a 60's style shoo-dop intro that was captured perfectly by the TRNSMT audience with Gerry laying his beliefs out clear - can I buy back my soul when it's gone?

Keysies remains my personal favourite. Such a beautiful song that evokes such strong imagery and memories of my own childhood. All in 90-seconds! Gerry's voice is incredible on this one.

Cinnamon's songs are social, caring, funny, loving and in the case of album closer War TV - fiercely political. Is anyone else commenting on the world in song in such a frank way?

I'm no' scared of dying I'll fight any man
I might no' be the strongest but I'll do what I can
And I'm no' religious but if God's got a plan
Then I don't think it's bombing in a far away land

Cinnamon-mania is set to continue with tickets for 4 huge Glasgow shows going on sale tomorrow. 2-nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and 2-nights at the Academy. Might need to add the Hydro!

As Gerry comments in many of his online posts the bonny is burning.

Get involved. This is a talented and soulful young Scottish artist who is blazing a new trail. This is street poetry, this is punk, this is soul, this is DIY, this is special, this is Gerry Cinnamon.