Thursday 31 January 2019

Hands Up Get Down

In the old days bands would form via friends and networks, adverts in the NME or Melody Maker or notices in record shops. New Scottish band Fat Cops formed in a much more modern way - via Twitter.

I'll get the full lowdown on that in a feature length blog (interview and review) on their forthcoming debut album that will be released through Absolute via Universal/Sony DADC at the start of March.

The forthcoming debut self-titled LP coming in March

Fat Cops are a six-piece featuring Chris Deerin (vocals), Robert Hodgens aka Bobby Bluebell (guitars and vocals), Chris Ayre (bass and vocals), Euan McColm (guitars), Al Murray (drums) and Neil Murray (keys).

Chris (bass) formed the band after he was bequeathed a black Rickenbacker bass guitar by his late Aunt, Maggie Gulliver, who played it as a member of legendary 1970's girl group The Wee Besoms, Fat Cops take their name from one of their songs and also cover another on their debut LP.

As I say, more of that later. In the meantime debut single Hands Up! Get Down! offers a tantalising taster of what we can perhaps expect.

The song grooves and is full of feeling, harmonies, harmonica, hooks, guitar riffs and beats - captivating on first listen, even more rewarding after repeated listens.

The video fits superbly, a silhouetted Bluebell plays wah wah riffs as a garage opens, a drone camera rises over a sunny Clyde while Deerin wanders and runs around Glasgow wearing boxing gloves.

The hook is one you can sing during your first listen, I can imagine it going down a storm in a sweaty venue or at a sunny festival. Hands up, everybody put your hands up, everybody put your hands up, everybody's gonna get down is a chorus/hook that could easily come out of peak Nile Rodgers Chic in the 70's. Simple, catchy and over a disco/Madchester beat with funky guitar licks - it certainly caught my attention. There is the added bonus of Norman Blake on backing vocals.

Fat Cops only have one show in the diary at present, a show at The Social in London on Monday 4th March. Tickets HERE. But I'm pretty sure there will be a Scottish date or two in the calendar in the not too distant future - I hope so.

I look forward to hearing what this six-piece offers from their album.The talent, taste and soul on their debut has definitely caught my attention.

Monday 21 January 2019

Abbey Road at 50, Celtic Connections

Glasgow discovered a fantastic way to banish the January blues many years ago - the city decided to launch a festival called Celtic Connections to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of music our small country is blessed with (and other music we enjoy too!). As many cities pubs and restaurants experience their quietest month of the year, Glasgow keeps on going as pubs, venues and restaurants are packed with people out to enjoy music and banter. It's the Glasgow way, we are a social bunch and like nothing better than to watch talented musicians with our friends and a beer.

Roddy Hart's Roaming Roots Revue has become a staple of Celtic Connections. Roddy and his excellent band The Lonesome Fire, become host and backing band for a string of artists to pay respect to great artists like Dylan or Petty, or scenes like the West Coast of America, or, in the case of last night, an album.

Abbey Road was the last album The Beatles recorded and it was released in 1969, 50-years ago. It's a nice round number, definitely an excuse for a party.

And what a party Roddy Hart conjured up. He's quite the host and knows how to choose guests that will get a crowd going. Last night, as well as being joined by a capacity crowd at the fabulous Royal Concert Hall, Roddy was joined by his outstanding band The Lonesome Fire, a forty (yes 4 0 ) piece orchestra and stunning artists; KT Tunstall, Lomond Campbell, Phil Campbell from The Temperence Movement, The Staves and new band You Tell Me (Sarah Hayes from Admiral Fallow and Peter Brewis of Field Music).

I did wonder how they were going to fill up a whole evening with one album, Roddy quickly informed us that each artist would come out to play 2 or 3 of their own songs with The Lonesome Fire and then they would move on to The Beatles.

Each artist was fantastic, Roddy is clearly a fan of Lomond Campbell and I'm sure he will have won a number of new fans after a heartfelt performance. The debut album by You and Me is literally just out, so this was a perfect opportunity for them to get the word out - the album has been picking up excellent reviews. Sarah Hayes beamed from behind a huge piano and he voice was sweet and soulful, combining beautifully with Peter Brewis.

Phil Campbell is not someone I was aware of prior to last night. I've heard of his band The Temperence Movement but have never checked them out, I will be after last night. This guy oozes cheeky charm and charisma (more on this later). His short set allowed him to display a raspy early 70's Rod Stewart style voice and he bounded around like a cross between Steve Marriott from the Small Faces and vintage Jagger. Oh and he melted hearts when his young daughter shouted Daddy when the crowd was quiet and he said he loved her.

The Staves are three young sisters who I will be checking out. Roddy introduced them by highlighting their classic songwriting and 3-part harmonies were winning fans everywhere - no wonder! They were spellbinding.

And lastly, KT Tunstall bounded on looking pretty cool in stripes flares and a vest top, playing 3 great songs and also giving us some great between song banter ranging from a drunken night at karaoke with her friends when she found that two of her songs were on the list - she played Suddenly I See - and also talking about playing in the pouring rain to two ladies giving it laldy at the opening of the new Queensferry crossing - the Queen had left and after that so had everyone else. The two left were her Mum and Nicola Sturgeon.

On to Abbey Road.

Roddy and friends made full use of the space and sound quality by getting a 40-piece orchestra to back them up! The sound quality last night was utterly brilliant - sonic goodness of the highest order.

My money was on Phil Campbell to sing Come Together, but it was KT Tunstall who came out and channelled the urgency, soul and humour of Lennon, setting a high bar for the rest of the guests.

Lomond Campbell accepted the challenge and his version of Something was beautiful, the way the song flows is sublime and the 40-piece orchestra took it as high as they possibly could and it soared during the you're asking me where my love goes, I don't know, I don't know section.

You Tell Me arguably drew the short straw with McCartney's Maxwell's Silver Hammer, but the melodies and humour carried the song and it actually made more sense live than on record. This is a song that Lennon famously refused to play on.

When I think of Abbey Road Macca I think of side 2. I'm not massively fussed about the above song or Oh Darling. My opinion of both changed last night, especially the latter as Phil Campbell took the song to another level with an astonishing vocal performance, whipping himself and the band to sensational heights. The look on some of the faces of people playing in the orchestra was priceless as Campbell shared, shimmied and cajoled himself to get every ounce of soul from the song. This was a stunning vocal and frontman performance and he received an extended ovation that was very richly deserved.

I love Octopus's Garden. There I've said it. I love the melody, the dreamy charm, the fact my kids love it and I love that Ringo wrote it (allegedly -I still kind of think McCartney might have had a hand in it!). It was nice of Roddy to hand it over to his drummer, Scott McKay, to sing. Scott had never sung a song in front of an audience, so when Roddy told us that, Scott had everyone on side. And he had everyone helping him out, it was a lovely moment.

Then we had Tunstall and Phil Campbell duetting on a powerful and sexual I Want You (She's So Heavy) that was a joy to hear and witness. The guitars were superb.

Then we had that spell binding side 2 which quickly developed to almost everyone being on stage. You and Me had the joy of Here Comes The Sun with a Spectoresque number of guitars helping the orchestra.

We had The Staves with a breathtaking performance of Because, we had You Never Give Me Your Money into Sun King, the romp through Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam into the uplifting She Came In Through The Bathroom Window. Lomond Campbell, KT Tunstall and Phil Campbell all coming and going with remarkable fluidity. The ooh's and aah's delivered by The Staves were truly beautiful

Then it was into McCartney's stunning finale - Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and the most beautiful of closing numbers The End.

Only it wasn't, as per the album Roddy Hart played Her Majesty after the applause had finally died down.

What a performance, what a show! Top marks to all involved.

There was a little encore, as Roddy said, why waste the opportunity of a 40-piece orchestra! You Tell Me were at their best on She's Leaving Home and Penny Lane was a riot with every singer taking lines.

What will Roddy come up with for 2020?

Tuesday 8 January 2019


Cover version of the month #41
Gerry Cinnamon covers Discoland

Glasgow's Gerry Cinnamon is no stranger to a choice cover or two. His past sets have been peppered with them, showing off his taste and his talent by covering classics like Adored by the Stone Roses and Redemption Song by Bob Marley, two songs I love. However, my personal favourite has to be his transformation of Discoland by Flip n Fill from 2004.

The original is happy hardcore, so simple, almost throwaway, but at the same time it is pure pop brilliance. The hey, hoooo, hey hey, hoooo hoooo is genius - you can sing on first listen.

There can't be many people who have taken a happy hardcore tune and played it on an acoustic guitar, but Gerry Cinnamon actually takes 3 of them and mixes them together effortlessly. In addition to Discoland he also takes in Wonderful Days by Charly ft. Mental Theo and I Wanna Be A Hippy by Technohead. This is a cover version that probably doesn't make much sense on paper, but when played as a euphoric acoustic sing-song it actually makes such perfect sense.

Check Gerry performing it live at TRNSMT from the sunny summer of 2018.

When Cinnamon played Discoland at the Barrowlands (review here) recently it was uplifting and beautiful. The crowd were singing along in fine voice and when Gerry gets to the take me up, up, up and away section it takes things to another level. It was euphoric, the whole set was.

There was only ever going to be one addition to my Cover Versions of the Month section of the blog after the Barrowland show. I should have blogged on it before.

But check the originals below and then watch Gerry smash TRNSMT above (his full set is on YouTube) with his cover version. It is an inspired cover, the way he loops his guitar, the way the crowd respond to it, the joy it brings - sublime.

Previous covers of the month

Saturday 5 January 2019

Scottish music scene 2019

There is a lot to shout about in the Scottish music scene in early 2019. I struggle to think of a time in the history of this blog where it has felt so vibrant. The reasons for my positivity? Fantastic emerging and developing artists, strong audience figures, collaborations between artists and labels, established bands finding new ways to get their kicks, a strong DIY culture, 'veteran' bands like The Bluebells and The Skids finding an audience is awaiting and lots of creativity and ideas. The Bluebells Quay Sessions show displayed a band full of confidence and fun, I hope they announce some live shows in the near future.

Artists, bands and labels are adapting to a very new musical landscape. Gerry Cinnamon is blazing a brand new trail for an unsigned artist, a number of artists and bands are recognising the importance of crowdfunding and the incredible independence that can bring,  Mogwai's Rock Action Records are going from strength to strength with new signings The Twilight Sad and Kathryn Joseph, while Last Night From Glasgow have grown phenomenally in their short 3-year existence and enter 2019 with plans for at least 8 physical releases.

So this blog takes a look at some of the things on the Scottish music scene that I'm looking forward to in 2019 and also a few things that I'll certainly be keeping an eye on.

Of course, this is just my take on things. There is so much more to explore.

January - Celtic Connections .... and more
Glasgow's annual Celtic Connections gets bigger, better and more eclectic every year. The traditional late night folk sessions are alive and well, and the heart of Celtic Connections will always be there with folk and trad. This year I've got tickets for the Roaming Roots Revue taking on Abbey Road at 50 and for my sister Carla J Easton playing her biggest show to date at Oran Mor.

Other shows that catch my eye include Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) at the Hug and Pint on Thursday 17th,  Mull Historical Society with Bernard Butler at the CCA, Blue Rose Code at the City Halls, Graham Nash at the Concert Hall, Ronnie Spector at the Old Fruitmarket (might still go to this, venue pictured below) and Siobhan Wilson at St Lukes.

There is also an incredible afternoon of music at The Glad Cafe on 19th January featuring The Spook School and Hairband.

Celtic Connections spills into February and you have Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert playing the gorgeous Old Fruitmarket, Andrew Wasylyk playing The Blue Arrow and Olive Grove Records showcasing at the Hug and Pint.

Outwith Celtic Connections, Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis plays the lovely St Lukes, while Sister John launch their second LP with a show at the Poetry Club and Withered Hand plays the Hug and Pint (as part of Celtic Connections) - all on 25th January!

King Tuts have their annual series of nights under the New Year's Revolution banner, but I am so out of touch that I don't know any of the bands playing! They do have Pete Wylie on later in the month though!

So there is plenty of potential for warm nights in cool venues with friends, a beer and great music.

Check the full Celtic Connections line-up HERE 

Big shows
Most of the shows I attend in Glasgow these days tend to be intimate basement or loft style gigs at the likes of The Hug and Pint, Sleazys, Broadcast, Stereo or the Old Hairdressers. With Mono and the Barrowland thrown in for very good measure. However 3 of my favourite shows from 2018 were at the Hydro. Arcade Fire played an extraordinary show at the huge venue, making it as intimate, raw and soulful as the Barras, James and The Charlatans played a double bill blinder and Paul McCartney rounded off the year in exceptional style.

The Hydro has already announced a load of shows, with The Chemical Brothers in November being high on my list. Look out for much, much more being announced in January and February.

Glasgow's Chvrches return to their home city for a huge show on Saturday 16th February.

Check listings and subscribe for e-news HERE

Intimate gigs
As mentioned, I love intimate shows and the Old Hairdressers has really become a favourite venue of mine. Indie veterans, although still remarkably young, BiS launch their new album on LNFG with a weekend of shows at the Old Hairdressers, the Glad Cafe and the Hug and Pint.

The latter venue have a fantastic selection of shows for Celtic Connections including one from Laetitia Sadier Source (formerly of Stereolab) and one from Withered Hand.

Watching a small gig with friends and a couple of beers is my idea of a perfect night out. I expect to be doing it a lot in 2019.

A real standout (at one of the larger basement venues) in early 2019 is Free Love with Bossy Love at Stereo on Saturday 2nd February. Get your tickets fast for this one.

DIY labels, collaborations and events
2018 saw LNFG organise a couple of pop-up record shops in the fantastic Doublet Bar and these are set to continue through 2019 with the next one taking place on 23rd February. Highly recommended for live music, chat and records.

The growing non-profit label has an incredible run of releases scheduled for this year and will celebrate its 3rd birthday with their annual party at Stereo with Sister John, Foundlings, Cloth and Annie Booth on the bill.

Sister John, Cloth, Domiciles, Bis, Medicine Men, Foundlings, Stephen Solo are all releasing albums on LNFG this year and the label is set to continue to collaborate and partner with other DIY labels.

Elsewhere Olive Grove Records launch 2019 with the aforementioned showcase at the Hug and Pint on 2nd February. The label is gaining strength and is set to release a string of EP's. I am particularly looking forward to releases from Chrissy Barnacle and Pocket Knife.

Scottish Fiction have informed me they have a very busy 2019 planned with some very special events set to be announced and I've already mentioned Rock Action Records who have the hotly anticipated new LP by The Twilight Sad coming out later this month.

There are so many more DIY labels to look out for including Monorail who released the debut EP by Hairband (pictured below) and Fuzzkill Records who have a great ear for garage guitar bands.

I'm looking forward to/keeping an eye on

Teenage Fanclub - post Gerry Love
2018 was a glorious year to be a Teenage Fanclub fan. I caught them live 5 times. Intimate shows at the Trades Club and the CCA, before 3 glorious nights in succession at the Barrowland as they played their classic Creation Records albums in full.

The shows were tinged with a touch of sadness as it was announced that Gerry wouldn't be continuing with the band as they announced considerable plans for touring across the world in 2019.

So who will replace Gerry? Will they play his songs? Rumours are that long-term friend of the band Euros Child will join to play keys and Dave will play bass. With shows in February, we'll find out soon enough.

Regardless, I hope they announce some Scottish dates for later in the year. Or maybe a wee secret warm-up to test the new line-up before heading to America?

Gerry Cinnamon
I blogged on the rise and rise of Gerry Cinnamon last summer and he has achieved even more since then, ending the year by playing Edinburgh's huge Hogmanay party after a string of sold out shows, including 4 in Glasgow.

What next? Well there are European tour dates for starters and I expect new music and a string of festivals. Will we get a single first?

Don't be surprised if the album comes out unexpectedly. Gerry doesn't play by the rules. As Gerry likes to play the Barrowland every year, his booking agent might need to consider taking out a residency to keep up with demand.

The Boaty Weekender
Belle and Sebastian announced, what seemed to me like, a very ambitious floating festival for this summer. The cruise would stop in various locations and aim to capture the spirit of their Bowlie Weekender on the 20th anniversary of their famous campsite takeover.

It is expensive and I've been keeping an eye on things, as, despite being a huge fan of the Belles, I did wonder if they had bitten off more than they could chew with this one.

Looks like I'm wrong. There has been heated online debates in relation to prices and to whether they couldn't just have booked a big campsite in Europe, but it looks like sales are strong. Certainly strong enough to announce a big supporting cast including Teenage Fanclub.

I'll be following events and activities online.

Carla J Easton
Of course I'm looking forward to seeing what my sister does through 2019! 3 albums in 3 years via her band TeenCanteen, under the alias of Ette and Impossible Stuff, her debut under her own name have really raised her profile. Recording with Howard Billerman, writing and recording with Belle and Sebastian and playing a string of shows with her band and solo have given her a huge confidence boost.

That confidence was further enhanced when the Banff Arts Centre asked her to come and be a resident on the songwriting retreat that she attended back in March 2017, sowing the seeds for her to return and record the album later that year.

So Carla is a resident along with Grammy Award winning songwriters, people who play with Beck and Jack White and she also gets time to write and record as well!

With a few songs under her belt, she may well have a new album completed by the summer. Carla starts the year with a big Celtic Connections show at Oran Mor.

Signed to Last Night From Glasgow within a couple of days of their first song Demo Love coming out, Cloth have been finding their feet while releasing a string of single releases - largely digital with extremely limited 7-inch vinyl available. They enter 2019 hotly tipped by Vic Galloway, Huw Stephens and many more. Atmospheric, melodic, hushed, cinematic, electro, reverb-y songs with a hint of The XX are the reason why so many are excited.

The aforementioned Hairband have the backing of the fabulous people at Monorail who put out their debut EP. Their song Flying is a favourite of mine and many people I know have told me that I have to make sure I catch them live. I intend to do that ASAP!

SAY Award
I love the debate that the SAY Award throws up and I love discovering new artists from the nominees, longest and shortlist. Happy Meals (now Free Love) and Andrew Wasylyk are two of the artists I have found via the SAY Award. Personally, I hope the award ceremony returns to Glasgow. No offence to Paisley, but Glasgow is the home of the Scottish music scene and I feel strongly that it should take place in one of the cities many fantastic venues.

It's been a couple of years since I have attended the annual northern soul alldayer at the Barrowland and I hope to rectify that this year. Brilliant tunes, friendly atmosphere, the best venue in town and loads of cool and well dressed people. Tickets are on sale for the 11th May date.

Festival season and summer shows
Last year Scotland took festival and summer season to another level. Electric Fields, outdoor shows at SWG3 in the Galvanizers Yard, Nile Rodgers in Kelvingrove Park, TRNSMT, Bellahouston, Belladrum, Princess Street Gardens shows, Linlithgow Palace, European Championship shows in George Square .... and lots of other things too.

The Cure playing Bellahouston with local faves Mogwai and The Twilight Sad is bound to be popular. After pulling the biggest crowd at TRNSMT in 2018, will Gerry Cinnamon return to headline in 2019?

I've yet to find my replacement for Wickerman, but I enjoyed taking the kids to Linlithgow's Party at the Palace last summer and they loved Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5. I hope we can have a family outing or two to see them again.

Fave bands
I hope to see lots of my favourite bands; The Lemonheads play SWG3 in February, Embrace celebrate the 21st anniversary of their debut album at the Barrowland in March and I would love to see Teenage Fanclub, The Charlatans, James, The Bluebells, The Pastels, The Vaselines, BMX Bandits, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, Primal Scream, Chemical Brothers ....

And much, much more
Who knows what will happen in the Scottish music scene over the next 12-months? One things for sure, it won't be boring.

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Never Ending Mixtape Part 31

When it comes to writing my monthly update on my Never Ending Mixtape, I always find it interesting to look back at the songs I have added at random during the previous month. This month has music from beat groups of the 60's through to new music from The Orielles. Sugababes sit next to Springsteen, The Sugarcubes sit next to a wonderful song by Cornershop, a kids choir sing McCartney's Band On The Run and then you have the original straight afterwards. Stars by Mr Fingers is sheer brilliance, we have the dreamy and sexy Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, gems from Tim Buckley and Fred Neil, we have Motown, Northern Soul, classic indie from the Manics and The Charlatans, guitar pop perfection by The La's and much, much more.

Scroll down to the end for the latest additions, or click on shuffle, dive in wherever or play from the start. But as the playlist approaches 850 songs I am confident you'll find something you haven't heard before that you enjoy, or an old favourite. Enjoy.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click below.

It Makes You Forget (ltgehane) - The Orielles
Sproston Green - The Charlatans
White Shirt - The Charlatans
Can't Get Out Of Bed - the Charlatans
La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh) - Manic Street Preachers
Motorcycle Emptiness - Manic Street Preachers
Motown Junk - Manic Street Preachers
Better Use Your Head - Little Anthony and the Imperials
A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke
Abraham, Martin and John - Marvin Gaye
I'm Ready For Love - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
The Night - Frankie Valli
Je t-aime moi non plus - Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
Breakdown (radio mix) - One Dove
There She Goes - The La's
Everybody's Talkin' - Fred Neil
Buzzin' Fly - Tim Buckley
Drifter - J Mascis
Broken Finger Blues - Richard Swift
Where Are You - J Mascis
Only With You - Norman Blake
Band On The Run - The Langley Schools Music Project
Band On The Run - Wings
Jet - Wings
The Winter Garden Playtest - Radiophonic Tuckshop
The Secret of the Tibetan Grapefruit Is ...? - Dr Cosmo's Tape Lab
Do Ya - The Move
Stars - Mr Fingers
As - Tony Sherman
I Believe (When I Fall In Love) - Stevie Wonder
Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
Living For The City - Stevie Wonder
Heaven Help Us All - Stevie Wonder
You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet - Mary Love
I Can Feel Your Love - Felice Taylor
Sing Me A Love Song - Felice Taylor
Ode To Billie Jo - Clydie King
You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio - Joni Mitchell
Positively 4th Street - Bob Dylan
Astral Weeks- Van Morrison
After The Gold Rush - Neil Young
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out - Cat Stevens
Razor Love - Neil Young
Nightswimming - R.E.M
Racing In The Street 78 - Bruce Springsteen
Overload - Sugababes
Everlasting Love - Love Affair
Rainbow Valley - Love Affair
A Day Without Love - Love Affair
(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice - Amen Corner
Wishin' and Hopin' - The Merseybeats
Needles and Pins - The Searchers
All My Life - Evan Dando
Hit - The Sugarcubes
Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again - Cornershop