Wednesday 30 December 2020

The Loves of Your Life

 Back on 19th December my friend Josh Turner replied to a tweet asking people for their top 3 albums from 2020. Josh tweeted a reply stating Sault's Untitled (Black Is), Andy Bell's A View From Halfway Down and thirdly Hamilton Leithauser with The Loves of Your Life. Josh also highlighted he thought the last one has been criminally ignored by all the critics and that it's a great record.

I'd already been turned on to Sault by previous tweets from Josh, so I immediately decided to check out Hamilton Leithauser and I promptly listened to the album 3-times in a day.

Every so often I ask someone if they would like to write a guest blog. I asked Josh and I'm blown away by his style of writing, his passion and understanding of music shines through.

I hope you enjoy this guest blog and I hope it inspire you to check the album if you haven't already. I need to update my albums of 2020 blog to include this gem!

For those that don’t Know him, Hamilton Leithauser was lead singer for a New York based Indie rock band called the Walkmen, currently on a semi-permanent hiatus. Between 2000- 2013 The Walkmen made a string of consistently strong, critically acclaimed albums & were relatively successful in “indie” terms on both sides of the Atlantic , arguably they never matched the urgency &intensity of their 2004 classic single The Rat ( career high point); consistent themes throughout the Walkmen’s 7 albums were ; atmospheric raw instrumentation , pounding drums and bass , ancient pianos and the focus point , Leithauser’s unique vocal style. However, the evolution of the style & sound of their front man on his 3rd solo outing is both a nice & unexpected surprise. Following on from the 2016 collaborative effort from Leithauser & Rostand Batmanglij (vampire weekend); featuring the classic 1,000 times single we now have The Loves of Your Life...

The album sleeve artwork features a retro 1950’s style  image / photograph of girls in a swimming pool , assumption is these represent significant others from the writers past, while this is not a “concept” album all 11 tracks or songs feature & are themed by significant people from Hamilton’s past , either fact or fiction. The album opens with an understated, slow burning track The Garbage Men, which effortlessly merges into the melodic / instant classic Isabella where Hamilton fondly reflects on a past relationship & sets the tone both lyrically & musically for the next 42 minutes. 

The consistent theme is looking backwards; through a nostalgic lens on past loves, friendships &meaningful relationships, it’s not clear nor does it really matter if these are fact or fiction , but consistently the characters & stories are all crafted with love & accompanied by a classic type of song writing & structure we rarely hear these days.  Hamilton’s distinctive raw, guttural vocals recall some of the greats... ... Instrumentation & musically the production sounds live and authentic and conjures up images of live bands playing in late night bars, impassioned vocals, live pianos, with the drums & bass turned up loud. Hamilton’s instinct for melody is stronger than ever and more direct & instant than we heard in the Walkmen & by the 3rd track Here They Come we’re singing along with all your oldest friends; after too many Guinness.  This record has a distinct quality with classically constructed songs that sound almost familiar on 1st listen & quickly cement themselves into your sub-conscious memory, crafted with love, passion and authenticity & soul….

Side 2 opens with what appears to be the albums central song: Til Your Ship Comes In, the imagery is strong as Hamilton screams “I loved you then .... I love you now” lyrically the album reminds me of a late 60’ s Dylan (think Blonde on Blonde) with an uncanny ability for storytelling effective use of evocative imagery. The album’s final track features Hamilton’s 2 young daughters backing vocals, where he sounds more at peace, lamented & contended and wraps the record up in a similar mode to where we started with The Garbage Men 42 minutes earlier.

The album was released early during the 1st lockdown & for several months became a daily feature on my turntable & stands out as one of my favourites, most memorable releases from the 2020.

Thanks to Murray & his Everything Flows blog for inviting me to review this record, please give it a listen.


Monday 28 December 2020

Sunday Morning

Trust Me #19

Sunday Morning, the opening song on The Velvet Underground & Nico, lulls you into a false sense of cool calmness before the raw romp of I'm Waitin' For The Man, the majestic magical darkness of Venus In Furs, the psychedelic bliss and rush of Heroin, the insanity of The Black Angel's Death Song or the white noise of European Son.

The use of the celesta (from the French celeste for heavenly), which John Cale discovered in the studio and decided to use, creates a gorgeous melody, Lou Reed's voice is lush and hushed, Mo Tuckers drums are soft and brushed and Cale also creates gorgeous noises in the background with his viola.  Reed's guitar solo is just perfect.

Reed and Cale had originally written the song for Nico. Although she had sung this live with the band, Reed took the lead vocals in the studio and he delivers a brilliant performance.

Sunday Morning is a beautiful song; evocative lyrics, delivered perfectly and a band performance that gives me a warm glow every time I listen to it.

So many bands I fell for as a teenager cited The Velvet Underground & Nico as an important album and I fell under its spell like so many before me. And it was/is a perfect Sunday Morning song after a big night out.

This is number 19 in my Trust Me series featuring songs I love and just think; Trust Me, you'll love them too.

See below for the list of previous songs to feature. Search for Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify for a playlist of all songs, or CLICK HERE

Sunday morning, brings the dawn in
It's just a restless feeling, by my side
Early dawning, Sunday morning
It's just the wasted years, so close behind

Watch out, the world's behind you
There's always someone around you, who will call
It's nothing at all

Sunday morning and I'm falling
I've got a feeling I don't want to know
Early dawning, Sunday morning
It's all the streets you crossed not so long ago

Watch out, the world's behind you
There's always someone around you, who will call
It's nothing at all

Watch out, the world's behind you
There's always someone around you, who will call
It's nothing at all

Sunday morning, Sunday morning, Sunday morning

Previous Trust Me blogs

1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras
7. In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
8. The Music Box by Ruth Copeland
9. The Ship Song by Nick Cave
10. Sometimes by James
11. I Walk The Earth by King Biscuit Time
12. Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Centre
13. When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields
14. The Man Don't Give A F**k by Super Furry Animals
15. All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun by Jeff Buckley and Liz Fraser
16. Are You Lookin' by The Tymes
17. A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth
18. Feelings Gone by Callum Easter

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Britpop memories part 1

 2020, at least for me, was 25-years since peak Britpop. A quarter of a century!!!

1995 was a remarkable year for British pop music, you had the bands that, looking back, were the real Britpop heavyweights; Supergrass were Alright, Pulp were Sorted for E's & Whizz, Oasis scored their first number one and then went stratospheric with the release of Wonderwall which propelled their dizzying rise to uncharted heights worldwide, there was the Blur v Oasis battle, the return of Shaun Ryder with Black Grape, Elastica released their debut album and The Charlatans eponymous album was a belter. 

Outwith that you had Radiohead surging ahead with the incredible The Bends, Teenage Fanclub displaying exceptional songwriting on Grand Prix, Tricky and Massive Attack creating what seemed like a new kind of music, The Verve shooting for the stars with A Northern Soul, the Chemical Brothers and Leftfield releasing huge electronic albums with massive beats, Paul Weller released Stanley Road.... good music was everywhere.

If Britpop peaked in 1995 - and I mean in terms of quality of music - when did it start? When did it end? What were the highlights?

The Drowners, the debut single by Suede

Looking back, I'm amazed it didn't make the top 40. 

But it made a mark, a big one.

For me, Britpop started with Suede in 1992, leading to a peak in terms of musical quality from 'Britpop' bands in 1995, before dying in 1997 as a number of Britpop bands moved forwards and notably Oasis went backwards. 

During that time I went from being at school to working and gigging regularly in Glasgow, taking in Oasis shows from the Tramway and the Cathouse through to Knebworth. It was a remarkable ride.

As a 19 year old in 1995, Britpop was exciting, there was new music to buy every week. So much good British music was released in 1995 (not all Britpop by any means) that I'm in no doubt that it was peak Britpop; classic albums and singles that have stood the test of a quarter century; Yes by McAlmont & Butler still bursts with energy, Pulp's singles were incredible and Wonderwall must have been played in every pub across the country, uniting people from all walks of life in song.

In a year where I couldn't get out to gigs, I spent some time looking back at the Britpop phenomenon. It sure was a good time to be alive. This is by no means exhaustive, John Harris' The Last Party is a good place to start if you want to do a deep dive into this period of time.

With Part 1, we'll start at (what I think is) the beginning and travel through to March & April 1994, two of the biggest months in Britpop when so much seemed to happen, leading to an explosion of British guitar pop music.

Britpop memories part 1
1992 - April 1994

The start - Suede's early singles

Suede kickstarted Britpop with their image, ambition and pop sensibilities demonstrated on their first 4 singles; the remarkable run of The Drowners, Metal Mickey, Animal Nitrate & So Young.

By April 1993 Suede had released the first 3 of the quartet and Brett Anderson appeared on what has become an iconic cover of Select Magazine with the title Yanks Go Home.

Suede were kind of on their own in 1992 going into 93, talking about bi-sexuality, Bowie & The Smiths in a post Madchester/Rave world with the music press being largely fixated on Nirvana and the grunge scene.

Suede were distinctly British and they kicked down a door. The floodgates opened. You can check this previous BLOG on the first 4 Suede singles.

Looking back, Suede kept up a remarkable pace throughout the 1990's; releasing singles every year except 1998 and 4 albums. The line-up that burst on to the scene with Brett Anderson on vocals, Bernard Butler on guitar, Matt Osman on bass and Simon Gilbert on drums just looked and sounded incredible. 

1992 through 1993 was their time; the singles, the imagery, the endorsement from Morrissey (which meant something back then), the album ....

Modern Life Is Rubbish

Blur had a link to Suede. Justine Frischmann had been in Suede, also dating Anderson, before leaving to form Elastica and date Blur's Damon Albarn. Brett Anderson cites her as a huge influence on the first Suede album.

This bizarre love triangle is pretty central to Britpop. Look at the change in Blur's look and sound from their 1991 debut Leisure to 1993's Modern Life Is Rubbish! All of a sudden it is Fred Perry polo shirts, blazers and doc martin boots. It wasn't quite as simple as that, there was 1992's Popscene single and an extensive tour of America that left Albarn yearning for England. Perhaps there was also the realisation that Leisure wasn't very good and that with There's No Other Way they had jumped on the Madchester bandwagon.

You could easily argue that Blur jumped to another bandwagon, only this time they were in from the start through Frishmann and Suede. 

Lead single For Tomorrow shows that Albarn was significantly developing as a songwriter. There is no doubt that Blur changed and developed massively with the Modern Life Is Rubbish album and Albarn gained huge confidence.


Radiohead are definitely not Britpop, but their name continues to be linked with it, largely because of Creep and the way they developed and left the genre as far behind as they possibly could, progressing from debut Pablo Honey in 1993, through The Bends in 95 to OK Computer in 97. It is a mind blowing development!

Creep was and is an incredible song, looking back, has Thom Yorke ever sung so directly since? When he takes off with the raaaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnn section I still get a tingle down my spine.

Creep was a super cool song in 1992, the use of swearing is just perfect, and listening back now, of the first time in well over a decade, it is still super cool. 

Radiohead have to be mentioned when reflecting on Britpop as they were so different and the way they worked on their songwriting, musicianship and creative energy is in direct contrast to Oasis over the same period. They stood out a mile.

I wish I was special, so f**king special

But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo

Do You Remember The First Time?

Jarvis Cocker's Pulp were building a head of steam. The 1992 release of Babies didn't chart but it seemed to mark a change in the band that led to a string of singles leading to the His n Hers album in 1994.

Do You Remember The First Time did chart though, it was Pulp's first top 40 single. It perfectly showcased Jarvis Cocker's humour, style, edge and fascination with sex. All of a sudden Pulp had found an audience and oh how Jarvis Cocker loved to play to an audience!

Pulp released their first single away back in 1983, now in March 1994, they finally made the top 40 and a few months later they even made it to Top of the Pops to perform a re-released Babies.

There will be more about Pulp later.

Elastica enter the stage

Elastica formed in 1992, releasing a limited edition single, Stutter, in 1993, but then picked up a head of steam in 1994 with the release of the Line Up and Connection singles.

The importance of Justine Frischmann to Britpop can't be understated. Although it became very lad orientated, Frischmann brought a love story (and triangle) to the table. Justine quickly became a pin up. I certainly wasn't the only teenager in Britain to have her picture blu-tacked to my bedroom wall.

Elastica burned brightly, too brightly. They burned out from 2-years of constant activity and attention and a lot of books on the era, particularly John Harris' The Last Party, document guitarist Donna Matthews descent from a quiet Welsh indie girl to someone reliant on drugs to get through or waste the day.

Girls & Boys

Britpop went technicolour with the release of Blur's Girls & Boys in March 1994. It was pure pop; simple and ridiculously catchy. With lyrics like love in the 90's, it's paradise, on sunny beaches, take your chances it felt very much of the times and a spring release meant that it became a summer anthem for people going on holiday to ... Greece.

Blur were exceptionally prolific through the 90's, releasing a staggering 22 singles and 6 albums. The run of Modern Life Is Rubbish (93), Parklife (94) and The Great Escape (95) along with the singles released leaves me exhausted just reading it.

But back to Girls & Boys, this was real Britpop kicking in. The single reached number 5 in the charts. Britpop was set to go mainstream, Blur were set to go massive.

Stay Together

This somewhat inappropriately named standalone single by Suede was released in March 1994, the last single with Bernard Butler in the band. Suede would veer slightly off their initial course with the release of the Dog Man Star album in late 1994. Widely regarded by fans and critics as a real highlight, in late 1994 it was a marked contrast from the Britpop sound and look that was exploding around them.

I'm a big fan of Butler's guitar sound and playing on the early Suede recordings and Stay Together is one of the bands most commercial songs. It got to number 3 in the charts and it is noticeable that the singles subsequently released from Dog Man Star stayed around number 20 in the charts.

April 1994; 

- Kurt Cobain's suicide

- the debut single by Oasis and the Wibbling Rivalry interview

- Blur release Parklife

Looking back, March/April 1994 is a kind of pivotal time in the world of Britpop. So much happened to propel Blur & Oasis to the fore of a new 'movement'. Although Noel and Oasis would always distance themselves from indie & Britpop.

Why was it pivotal?

Blur took things up a notch with the aforementioned Girls & Boys, Oasis made their TV debut on The Word with Supersonic, Kurt Cobain overdosed in March and then tragically committed suicide in April, Supersonic came out, Oasis gave an interview a million miles away from anything Kurt Cobain ever did. They had a song called Live Forever that was the complete opposite of Kurt singing look on the bright side, suicide or naming a song (even ironically) I Hate Myself And I Want To Die and Blur released Girls & Boys and then their 3rd LP Parklife.

The death of Kurt Cobain on 5th April rocked my world. I've mentioned a number of times in previous blogs that I was at King Tuts to see The Pastels playing, rumours were abound that something had happened but in a pre-internet (indeed pre mobile) world you couldn't just check the news instantly. The Pastels came on stage and dedicated the show to Kurt, on the way home the Peel Show was just back to back Nirvana.

2-days later I saw Oasis for the first time.

I'd been into Nirvana in a big way, I had a ticket (that I still have) for their show in Glasgow at the SECC, but all of a sudden Oasis were calling me and they spoke to me in a way that Nirvana couldn't. Noel's early songs of dreams and escapism just lifted me.

Oasis were the band I was waiting for. In April 1994 they arrived with the release of their debut single, appearing on The Word and on Radio 1 for Glasgow's Sound City where I caught them supporting The Boo Radleys at the Tramway. You can read about that HERE

Later that night, Liam and Noel held court in their hotel room with John Harris from the NME, resulting in a hilarious insight into their relationship and personalities. This was not long after Oasis had been thrown off a ferry to Amsterdam for fighting. Noel was mortified and wanted Oasis to be about the songs, Liam was into the whole rock n roll package and totally up for it ....or as we quickly found out ... mad for it.

The interview was later released as a 7-inch single and it is absolutely hilarious. You can sense the edge between the 2 brothers, the edge that made them stand out from others.

I would look forward to Oasis interviews as much as their musical releases. So did the music weeklies and monthlies as they generated huge sales. Oasis and the Gallagher brothers brought a working class mentality and reality to the weekly music press and to music fans. There was absolutely no bullshit about them. They wanted it, they were going to have it.

On 25th April Blur released Parklife, a swift follow up to Modern Life Is Rubbish and on the back of Girls & Boys. Playing with more classic British imagery, the band took the NME to the dog track to discuss their sound and ambitions.

All of a sudden 'indie music' was going mainstream. More on Parklife in part 2. 

Staying Out For The Summer

T in the Park 1994

Britpop anthems kept coming and in July 1994 Dodgy released the impeccable Staying Out For The Summer single. Looking back, I'm amazed it only reached 38 in the charts! This was sunshine pop, feel good music to sing-a-long to immediately. Relatable to many with its lyrics of working in factories, being low on luck & confidence, of love lost and mourned, Staying Out For The Summer was perfect for the sunshine summer of 1994

You see I work in a factory (I need the money)

I don't want to be late (though I hate this place)

I got my debts to pay for (free me from this race)

They're gonna have to wait

Speaking of which;

The sun shone on the first ever T in the Park with Blur, Oasis, Elastica and Pulp all playing. Outside you had the Main Stage, in tents you had what felt like the here, the now, the future.

I was 18 and everyone I know that went to the festival wondered if it would even go on. It happened. Although I think I saw all the bands mentioned above, I only remember Oasis. They played to a packed tent and played football on stage. They were outstanding, I'd love to see footage of the gig if it exists.

Check some highlights from the first ever T in the Park HERE

Part 2 coming soon

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Never Ending Mixtape part 55

Welcome to part 55 of my Never Ending Mixtape, my Spotify playlist that I add to regularly and then round up the latest additions in a monthly blog.

This month there are a lot of tunes that I have only recently discovered; making it even more an eclectic selection of additions than normal! So dig in, there are lots to discover.



Nissodia by Idrissa Soumaoro is an incredible tune I heard on the Lauren Laverne Show - check the Mike D remix that I previously added.


Two incredible cover versions (Tim Buckley and Chris Bell) by This Mortal Coil - wow!


The wonderful magic of Greg Wilson with Summer Came My Way. A man with sublime taste and talent. How good are The Jayhawks?! Expect more additions from them over the months to come. And I revisited Little Eskimos, a brilliant band from Alloa led by Kevin Harper. There are a few lesser known Mary Chain numbers, stoned garage grooves that are just blissful.

Check the full tracklisting below. Head to Spotify and search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape. Scroll away down to the bottom to find these additions, or use the filter search option.

Or simply CLICK HERE

Road To Nowhere - Talking Heads

Summer Came My Way - Greg Wilson & Luxxury

Polk Salad Annie - Tony Joe White

What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understanding - Nick Lowe

Glad and Sorry - Golden Smog

Debris - Faces

Blue - The Jayhawks

Jaquelin - Little Eskimos

Nissodia - Idrissa Soumaoro

My World Fell Down - Saggitarius

Song For A Secret - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Moe Tucker - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Between Us - The Jesus and Mary Chain

You're The Man (original mono) - Marvin Gaye

I Know The Inside Story - Chubby & The Turnpikes

I Won't Love You Again - Dimas III

The Boys and The Girls - The Network

Soul Vibrations - Dorothy Ashby

Can You Remember? - Rhonda Davis

Every Little Bit Hurts - Brenda Holloway

I Love The Ground You Walk On (instrumental) - Marvin Gaye

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart - Wilco

My Kingdom - Echo and the Bunnymen

Song To The Siren - This Mortal Coil

I Am The Cosmos - This Mortal Coil

The Back Of My Mind - Teenage Fanclub

Everybody Wants To Be Famous - Superorganism

Home (single edit) - Teenage Fanclub

She's My Best Friend - Lou Reed

Crazy Feeling - Lou Reed

Great Big Kiss - Johnny Thunders

Nissodia - Idrissa Soumaoro

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Interview - Tamara Schlesinger

 Only 14% of songwriters signed to publishing companies in the UK are women. Just 12% of those registered with the Music Producers Guild (MUG) are women. 

That is staggeringly low! So I was keen to find out more about Hen Hoose a new Glasgow based female songwriting collective formed by songwriter Tamara Schlesinger who records under the guise of Malka.

Malka (Tamara Schlesinger)

Schlesinger has a clear vision for what she wants Hen Hoose to be and she has recruited; Emma Pollock, Beldina Odenyo (Heir Of The Cursed), Karine Polwart, Stina Tweeddale (Honeyblood), Pippa Murphy, Amandah Wilkinson (Bossy Love), India Rose, Rachael Swinton (Cloth), Elisabeth Oswell, Suse Bear (Pictish Trail & solo), Carla J Easton, Sarah Hayes & Inge Thomson into the Hoose.

It's a fantastic pool of diverse talent, beautifully mixing youth with experience and a melting pot of styles. 

Rachael Swinton (Cloth)
Amandah Wilkinson (Bossy Love)

I always find it interesting when artists get together to collaborate, so I'm really looking forward to hearing what these artists create when they begin to work together, particularly when some of the artists are quite distinctive in their style and delivery - how will that change when they get together, how will they inspire each other?

Tamara very kindly answered a few questions for the blog;

What is your 'usual' (if there is such a thing) writing style?

I have changed my style so much over the years. Initially I would wrote with my ukulele or guitar, often writing the lyrics first and the music after. I was in an alt-folk band called 6 Day Riot and that seemed to fit the overall vibe of the band at the time. But after leaving the band I began to write melody lines over beats. Now I am combining a bit of both, but I usually come up with the melody line before the lyrics and that tends to set the mood for the song. I am pretty solitary now in my process, writing, playing and producing most of the music myself these days.

What changes when you add 1 or 2 new people to it?

I think that everything changes when you add others to the writing process, just the general style of the song will automatically change. But also the direction in which you may have taken something can be thrown into something new and exciting when other people are involved. You no longer have complete control over the music and that is not always a bad thing, as long as your ideas align then it can be a very inspiring and exciting experience, for me it often shifts my writing process and makes me open up to new ideas that I may not have thought of previously.

How did you approach the other artists? What was their reaction?

I reached out to a few artists initially and floated the idea and I was really excited when they wanted to be involved. Once I knew that I had a core group that wanted to get involved I was keen to widen it as much as I possibly could - trying to get a number of writers from different genres and with diverse styles so that we could create something really fresh and exciting for each group. I couldn't quite believe the calibre of writer that took an interest in getting involved, they all saw it as something positive and fresh to be involved in which has been amazing.

If you could choose any 3 artists (outwith this project) to collaborate with, who would you choose and why?

I am a big Jane Weaver fan, so I would love to work with her and also Pictish Trail, his album was on of my favourites released this year and finally, I will go big and say Missy Elliot, that would be pretty awesome.

What would you like to achieve from the first round of collaborations?

I have a few hopes, I want everyone involved to feel like they have gained something from the experience, to push themselves into new spaces and roles that they would not usually take on. But mostly I would love it if we create a body of work that we are all excited and proud of that I can pitch out for sync to generate an extra income for all of the writers involved. Finally, if we are really pleased with it all then I would love to put it out there into the world and release it and let everyone hear the music.

What are your hopes for 2021 and beyond with Hen Hoose?

I really hope that I can make this something beyond the first round. I would love to have a round 2, 3, 4 and so on ... expanding the writers, perhaps bringing in writers from the rest of the UK to work with the Scottish writers and generally inspire everyone involved, along with the new young writers by just highlighting just how amazing the female songwriting talent is in Scotland

Sunday 6 December 2020

My albums of 2020

Despite lockdowns, restrictions and all kinds of challenges, artists and labels across the world kept releasing music right throughout 2020. And oh how it helped to get lost in an album, to escape reality for a while. In the words of ABBA; thank you for the music.

Working from home and the fact that there were no gigs meant that I probably listened to more newly released music than normal, certainly way more than last year.

I think I've appreciated music more than ever through this strange year. I've bonded with people with similar taste on social media and appreciated that sense of (virtual) community and connections. I've enjoyed a number of Tim Burgess' listening parties. I've arrange zoom calls for fellow fans of Teenage Fanclub which has been brilliant for socialising and I've been able to get lost in music when I've needed to, or even when I haven't. 


6 Music has been on most days while working from home and although I've massively missed gigs and all the socialising that goes with them, in some ways I feel closer to music. Strange, huh?!

I always like to point out that there are always albums I discover after writing my Albums of the Year blogs. For example there was a trio of albums released in 2019 that I only discovered this year; I really love the Erland Cooper, Callum Easter and Better Oblivion Community Centre albums. 

So no doubt I'll discover a gem from 2020 next year, indeed I'm only just getting into the SAULT albums. 

I'm not going to name an album of the year for 2020. It's been such a strange and shit year in so many ways, but in terms of new music, it has been excellent and there are a number of albums I keep returning to.

Andrew Wasylyk's is just beautifully crafted music to get lost in, I fell for the talent of Phoebe Bridgers in a big way, The Flaming Lips moved me to tears with their vision, ambition and psychedelic pop, my sister Carla J Easton moved forwards with a defiant, powerful, melodic and emotional heart on sleeve pop record, the Whyte Horses album just oozes great taste and has such a good feel to it, Andy Bell delivered an exceptional debut album of psychedelic pop and grooves, and Dua Lipa released an exceptional pop album that is loved by everyone in our house.

So read on for my 10 favourite albums of 2020 plus 2 incredible compilation albums released by Last Night From Glasgow and Olive Grove Records, also a little on the LNFG reissue of Sisters by The Bluebells and the fast moving novel The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong.

Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation by Andrew Wasylyk
Label - Athens Of The North

Andrew Wasylyk is an incredible talent who I've been following since his second album Themes for Buildings and Spaces was released back in 2017. Now on album number 4, Wasylyk creates beautiful grooves, dreamy landscapes and majestic layers to get lost in. David Axelrod is a name that sprung to mind when I first hear the album and it was interesting to hear Andrew mention him in an interview on BBC Radio Scotland. That is the kind of talent and ambition we are talking about.

Last Sunbeams of Childhood is utterly sublime and then Wasylyk actually has a song called Everywhere Something Sublime which totally is .... something sublime!  

Awoke in the Early Days of a Better World is a song I've played a lot. It has a kind of beautiful mellow stoned groove. It somehow has the ability to feel like there is a lot going on, but at the same time there isn't. 

Andrew Wasylyk creates and captures something really incredible with this album.

American Head by The Flaming Lips
Label - Bella Union

When they are on form you sure can get lost in an album by The Flaming Lips. American Head moved me to tears on first listen. Headphones on, glass of red and Wayne Coyne singing from the bottom of his heart and the far reaches of his mind. It's a melodic, soulful, psychedelic trip as song titles like You N Me Sellin' Weed and When We Die When We're High might suggest. 

The sonic vision and ambition of The Flaming Lips never fails to amaze and they go really widescreen with opener Will You Return/When You Come Down which is almost 6-minutes of wonderful psychedelic pop. Mother I've Taken LSD is all kinds of self realisation and empathy; now I see the sadness in the world, I'm sorry I didn't see it before. Hopefully we will see Wayne back riding around the Barrowland Ballroom on a unicorn again before too long!

The View From Halfway Down by Andy Bell
Label - Sonic Cathedral

Andy Bell is someone who feels refreshed and revitalised. Ride are a shining example of how a comeback can work out and Bell seems to have a tremendous sense of urgency and freedom to create outwith that.

His debut album, at the age of 50, sounds fresh, inventive, timeless and fun, full of grooves, twists and turns. The way Skywalker develops on a bass groove for a further 3-minutes just when you think it is about to end is surprising and glorious, while Cherry Cola is just super cool, melodic sunshine on record.

Andy very kindly gave an extensive interview back in August that you can READ HERE

Weirdo by Carla J Easton
Label - Olive Grove Records

My sisters second album under her own name is escapism, realisation, reflection, defiance and at times, a big F**K YOU, like on the absolute anger Over You. Get Lost is Carly Rae Jepsen fronting New Order escapism, Never Knew You is Taylor Swift style realisation and self therapy with the brilliant when I was up I was up, and when I was down you were never around hook, Thorns is a stunning synth ballad, Waves That Fall marries Chic style guitars with Scottish Hip Hop with a blitz by guest Solareye from Stanley Odd while the title track celebrates all that is good about being weird. 

I'm a rollercoaster rolling

The first edition of Weirdo sold out in pre-sales which was incredible for Carla and Lloyd from Olive Grove Records. I think at first that was going to be that, after all, it is quite cool to sell out your pressing. But there was a real demand for a repress and it was no ordinary repress as the artist Jim Lambie designed new artwork.

I look forward to hearing these songs being blasted out live and Carla is a rollercoaster rolling. 2021 will see TeenCanteen release their very first recordings and Carla has a number of new songs written for her next solo album and also for a new band she is forming with Simon Liddell. They are looking for a band name; check this tweet if you have any suggestions!

Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa
Label - Warner Records

I can only imagine how massive Dua Lipa would have been in a non COVID world. She would have been everywhere with her catchy, clever and euphoric pop. 

The kids kept asking about Dua Lipa songs after discovering her via Tik Tok and they soon got me into Dua Lipa too, but not Tik Tok!

Hallucinate is my personal favourite, its so catchy, the chorus flows so easily. Don't Start Now was the first song I heard off the album and it is brilliant pop music, the whole album is. Physical is totally euphoric, Levitating is ridiculously catchy, while Break My Heart asks the brilliant question am I falling in love with the one that could break my heart?

A genius pop album by a brilliant pop star. We watched Dua Lipa's Studio 2054 online show at the end of November and I really hope to take the kids to see her in person at the Hydro when she eventually plays. 

My feel good album of the year. My kids album of the year. Stick it on and make room to dance.

Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers
Label - Dead Oceans

I fell for Phoebe Bridgers big time after hearing Kyoto on 6Music, reading various reviews and then buying her album and checking her back catalogue. 

Bridgers seems effortlessly talented and ridiculously prolific, full of creative energy that can come bursting out in melodic pop like Kyoto or in more mellow, subdued and reflective ways like the beautiful Garden Song.

I've enjoyed exploring her discography; her EP/mini-album with boygenius and her album with Conor Oberst as Better Oblivion Community Center are both excellent. I can't wait to hear what she does next.

The New Abnormal by The Strokes
Label - RCA Records

The New Abnormal somehow has a sense of urgency along with a sense of don't give a flying f**k and as a result The Strokes sound glorious. The twin guitars of Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr entwine beautifully, even when it sounds like it shouldn't work ... it does. There are keyboards/synths, vocal effects and lazy punky flowing melodies, delivered in Julian Casablancas cool New York drawl. 

I thought The Strokes had disappeared and split a long time ago. This album really was a pleasant surprise. Sure some songs are a little long (and there are only 9 of them) but there are cracking guitar riffs (Why Are Sundays So Depressing), moments of  sheer brilliance like the dive into the flowing chorus of The Adults Are Talking and times, like Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus where everything somehow crashes together to sound magnificent just after it sounds like it could all far apart

I was reminded what a stunning band The Strokes can be, what a stunning band they are ... if they are in the mood.

2021 will be the 20th anniversary of their vital debut album Is This It? That was then, this is now.

Hard Times by The Whyte Horses
Label - CRC Records

This album was released away back in January, it feels like ages ago, so much has happened since then. This is kind of a compilation album but it is a covers album. Whyte Horses display impeccable taste in songs and in guests with La Roux, John Grant, Badly Drawn Boy and Traceyanne Campbell included.

Their faithful version of Red Lady by Phil Cordell opens proceedings, sunshine psych, all round good vibes, beautiful vocals. And you're into the world of Whyte Horses where they romp through Ca Plane Pour Moi and sound like they've gone back to their rehearsal room after being down the pub with Badly Drawn Boy to knock out a lovely rough n raw version of Lou Reed's Satellite Of Love.

I was really looking forward to Whyte Horses coming up to play the CCA in Glasgow, I hope they make it in 2021. 

Working Men's Club by Working Men's Club
Label - Heavenly Recordings

The first time I heard Working Men's Club was on the radio but I had missed the intro, so I was really wondering who this was. There were echoes of both Joy Division and New Order, with a hint of Ian Curtis or Alex Turner on vocals.

Yet another stunning addition to the Heavenly Recordings family. This album is full of glorious synths and beats, playful guitars, moments of euphoria and loads of grooves.

John Cooper Clarke, Valleys and Tomorrow are particular favourites. Another band I can't wait to see live when possible. I can imagine they'll be chomping at the bit to get out there and in some ways the absence of gigs might work in their favour as the buzz around the band and album might catapult them to larger venues.

Hether Blether by Erland Cooper
Label - Phases

I only discovered Erland's 2019 album Sule Skerry via the SAY Award. Thankfully that ensured I was immediately on to his swift follow up.

Hether Blether is Cooper's third and final album in a trilogy of releases shaped by the islands where he grew up. Hailing from the archipelago of Orkney in Scotland, Cooper is inspired by the sights and sounds of his home to create magic music.

Skreever is majestically beautiful, the sound of the Orkney wind over gentle strings. It's rather beautiful, a real favourite. Elsewhere Kathryn Joseph sings on 3 tracks, including Longhope, which starts with strings, a thumping beat and spoken word samples from islanders, building until Joseph's atmospheric vocal sounds like she is whispering a secret fairytale story directly to you. 

An extremely beautiful and moving album. 


Isolation Sessions by Last Night From Glasgow

Always full of ideas and burning with creative energy and a sense of purpose, LNFG acted swiftly when lockdown was announced, inspiring to their artists covering each other from their own homes for a compilation album, Isolation Sessions, that was quickly put on sale with proceeds going to venues across the city to help them (hopefully) make it through lockdown. At the time of writing, proceeds from November onwards are going to my favourite music bar McChuills. I think this is a fascinating document of the times, married with LNFG photographer Brian Sweeney's documentation of artists and label members in their own homes. Find out more and order a copy HERE

LNFG's development has been staggering and I fully expect them to not only it the ground running, but full on sprinting when things open up again in 2021 (fingers crossed).

Get Into The Grove, 10-years of Olive Grove Records

Lloyd Meredith who runs Olive Grove Records had big plans for the tenth anniversary of the label in 2020. Hopefully live plans will happen next year, but in the meantime check out the wonderful Get Into The Grove compilation album. You can order the vinyl online now for a January delivery and you'll immediately be able to download and stream the album from Bandcamp.

Running a DIY label for 10-years isn't easy, but just listen to the variety and quality across this record. The purity of moonsoup who I want to hear and see a lot more of in 2021, Jo Mango with The Madrigirls is exquisite and beautiful, while Call To Mind conjure all kinds of emotion with Recovery. The Olive Grove artists have done the label proud. 


Last Night From Glasgow have set up Past Night From Glasgow to focus on reissues and oh my, what a way to launch the label with the Sisters LP by The Bluebells, originally released in 1984 and long out of print.

Past Night From Glasgow has some incredible plans for 2021, with BMX Bandits Star Wars album appropriately set for a May 4th release and the past has a bright future going by the quality of artists, albums and physical product that is being reissued with love and care.

Sisters by The Bluebells
Label - Past Night From Glasgow

Look out for a feature blog on The Bluebells Sisters album over the festive season. 

Book of the Year - The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong
Get lost in the world of a Young Team in Airdrie; gangs, fights, drugs, alcohol, dance music, escapism, isolation, the older ones ... a debut novel that lets rip at a ferocious pace, introducing brilliant characters and storylines. Ripe for a film. The 2020's Trainspotting.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love

On 1st December my friend Laura Boyd posed a question on Twitter; what is the best Christmas song ever? Laura's choice was Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, a song I also really love. 

My own personal favourite, and also one that I would argue is the best, is Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) from the seminal Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift To You album.

In my tweet to Laura I said; My favourite is Darlene Love with Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Such an incredible vocal performance, the musicianship is stunning, the lyrics have real visualisation and the whole song has a soulful and uplifting feeling to it. Perfect.

I didn't mention the gut wrenching emotion that pours from it, but then you only have so many characters in a tweet, so I thought I would write a blog.

A huge opening chord that is repeated four times over the sound of sleigh bells ushers us gently into Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), then at 15 seconds pounding drums build to kick the song into full throttle. The backing vocals sound glorious singing Christmaaaassss and then Darlene Love's incredible voice soars heavenly.

Spector captures a truly sensational performance. I've just listened to the song 6-times in a row on headphones and I could easily listen another 6-times. This was recorded in 1963 and it still blows me away, the power and urgency that leaps out ensures the song still sounds fresh and vital. It will be played forever.

(Christmas) snow's coming down

(Christmas) I'm watching it fall

(Christmas) Lots of people around

(Christmas) Baby please come home

Darlene Love's vocal performance must rank highly in all-time top vocals; it's spine tingling, hair raising, heart-aching, gut wrenching soul.

The lyrics are pure poetry; the classic Christmas picture is being painted in front of Darlene Love's eyes and she can describe it, but she keeps returning to her plea for her baby to come home; the church bells in town, all ringing in song, full of happy sounds, baby please come home

There is a brief let up in Spector's Wall of Sound and the backing vocals to allow Love's voice centre stage as she sings they're singing deck the halls, but it's not like Christmas at all, I remember when you were here, and all the fun we had last year with the drums rolling on the final line and bringing the Wall of Sound and backing singers back in to gel with Love and propel her onwards.

(Christmas) pretty lights on the tree

(Christmas) I'm watching them shine

(Christmas) You should be here with me

(Christmas) Baby please come home

After an instrumental things break down again for a repeat of the third verse with Love's voice on and all the fun we had last year being pushed to its limit. She finds more!

The last verse is simply sensational, off the charts. Things just build and build and build to an incredible climax. We learn that is is actually Christmas day and as soon as that line is sung we enter a  mind blowing 30-seconds of Love just going for it and repeating please, please, please before losing herself in the line baby please come home.

(Christmas) oh if there was a way

(Christmas) I'd hold back this tears

(Christmas) oh but it's Christmas day

(Please) Please (Please) Please (Please) Please (Please) Please (Please) Please

Baby please come home, baby please come home, baby please come home, baby please come home

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah

What a song! What a performance! Somewhere in the vaults there are the original recordings and you wonder how long the song went on as it fades out on the record.

Listening to the song on headphones repeatedly has made me appreciate it all the more. Turn it up, sing-a-long and just get lost in the last 30-seconds as Darlene Love loses it over a beautiful piano as the musicians create a classic Spector Wall of Sound - glorious.

SPOTIFY - Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

YOUTUBE - Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Tuesday 1 December 2020

McCartney II

 Ahead of the forthcoming release of McCartney III I thought I would take a look back at McCartney from 1970 and now McCartney II from 1980.

If Paul McCartney's eponymous album McCartney had surprised upon release in 1970 in terms of style, substance and the way Paul chose to step away from The Beatles, McCartney II, released in 1980, also caused a stir among his fanbase.

A lot had happened in the 10-years between the albums. You could have bet your house on Paul being the most prolific and busiest of Beatles following the split and it certainly turned out that way; Paul formed Wings, released 8 albums and toured the world a number of times. 

McCartney II is largely discussed in terms of Paul experimenting with synths and while tracks like Temporary Secretary, Front Parlour and Frozen Jap live up to that description, other parts of the album are bluesy or stoned jams; Bogey Music, On The Way, while Darkroom somehow sits across the two, sounding like it could easily fit in on a Gorillaz album. Elsewhere McCartney creates songs that sound like they could be leftovers from his Beatles days; Summer's Day Song and One Of These Days.

Coming Up introduces us to McCartney II and it is a very welcoming opening song, upbeat and full of Paul's melodic and catchy charms. The rhythm sounds like a speeded up reggae groove, almost like a raw Chic style guitar. 

As with McCartney, Paul plays everything by himself, this time going for a 16-track portable studio rather than the rough n ready 4-track he used on his 1970 album. On Coming Up it sounds like he is having fun, jamming on the groove and injecting real energy into the hooks. Listen on headphones to appreciate everything McCartney is up to, throwing in little riffs, sounds and backing vocals while holding it all together with a big fat bass.

My friends, Stephen, Craig  & Mick who were in the band Sonny Marvello - mentioned many times in blogs through the years - introduced me to McCartney II. They were (are) McCartney nuts and knew his solo catalogue back to front.

Personally, I was pretty late to McCartney II and I was really surprised when I heard Temporary Secretary when Mick played it in his old flat back in 2010 before we headed out in glorious sunshine to see McCartney play Hampden Park.

Temporary Secretary is bubbling synths and McCartney setting a frantic, frenetic, pace and groove. NME memorably described it as not so much ahead of its time, but out of it altogether. There is so much going on, but of course this is Paul McCartney, it is ridiculous but brilliant, ridiculously catchy, brilliant leftfield pop.

Things change, On The Way is raw and bluesy in feeling, the bass roots the song as Paul plays some exquisite blues guitar. It sounds a little out of place after the first couple of songs.

Waterfalls could have benefited from being a little rawer and shorter in length, akin to some of the songs on McCartney. Paul's voice sounds more forlorn and mature than on other songs on the album.

And I need love

Yeah I need love

Like a second needs an hour

Like a raindrop needs a shower

McCartney sounds like he's having fun jamming with himself on Nobody Knows, its like his own Let It Be session, he ad libs backing vocals to himself.

Meanwhile Front Parlour was the first song to be recorded for the album, in the front parlour of an old farmhouse. The song was trimmed down for the album with an extended version being available on the deluxe edition when it came out on CD. It's McCartney experimenting in a typically melodic, combining different sounds to create riffs and grooves.  

Summer's Day Song is really rather beautiful, sounding like it could have been on Abbey Road. It's dreamy, mellow and melodic. Paul's voice, particularly on the second verse, is at its best.

Someone's sleeping, through a bad dream

Tomorrow it will be over

For the world will soon be waking

To a summer's day

If someone heard Frozen Jap in the Sub Club in Glasgow they could easily mistake it for Hot Chip or LCD Soundsystem. This is utterly brilliant, sounding fresh, melodic and groove based. There is a little Krautrock in there. 

McCartney mixes it up with Bogey Music which sees him dive from the future away back to the 50's but with a little bit of extra echo effects. It's a throwaway, in my opinion the album would have been stronger with the full versions of Front Parlour and Frozen Jap, or one of the songs that didn't make the cut until the reissue with bonus tracks - see further on in the blog.

Darkroom is bit of a reggae and dub groove with McCartney playing with voice styles and backing vocals. This song and the bonus track Check My Machine sound like something that Damon Albarn would love for his Gorillaz project.

The album closes with a wistful McCartney singing One Of These Days which sounds remarkably boring compared to some of the stuff he conjures up.

I've mentioned bonus tracks. There is some incredible stuff! 

McCartney apparently recorded 20-songs in June and July 1979, many made up on the spot The aforementioned Check My Machine is an sensational stoned experimental groove, the bubbling 10 minute plus Secret Friend (the b-side to Temporary Secretary) is dreamy with samba style bass and percussion while McCartney goes kind of crazy over it. It somehow works! 

Mr H Atom/I'll Get You Baby starts with a voice (Paul's) saying Shangri-Las versus The Village People! Linda helps on vocals over a synth bass, there is some kind of spoken word and then the insanely catchy Mr H Atom, live in a flat on, the male sound of town chanted female vocals over a groove. I love it! The closing 3-minutes of the song have a bass synth and beat with Paul shooting laser synths and making up a vocal chant over it all. 

So yeah!

McCartney II is an alright album. Revisiting it, I couldn't help think about how far out and wonderful it could have been. So I've had fun creating McCartney II . 5 which you can search for on Spotify or CLICK HERE  Here is my alternative tracklisting.

Coming Up (full length)

Temporary Secretary

Waterfalls (edit)

Front Parlour (full length)

Summer's Day Song (instrumental version)

Frozen Jap (full length)

Darkroom (full length)

Check My Machine

Secret Friend (full length)

Mr H Atom / You Know I'll Get You Back