Thursday 27 October 2022

Poster Paints by Poster Paints

Poster Paints released their self titled debut album earlier this month, following it up with a joyful launch party at The Glad Cafe in the Southside of Glasgow. 

Support was from Flinch, a 4 piece outfit who have self released their album Enough Is Enough on vinyl. They display a punk indie pop energy on stage and off. Fanzines, pin badges (support your local girl band) and stickers, harmonies, fuzzy & reverb laden guitars, hooks and harmonies.  Expect a separate blog on Flinch in the near future.

Poster Paints played all 12 songs released to date. Their 10-song album, plus Blood Orange and their loving cover of The Lemonheads Into Your Arms. It was the best I've seen them play. Simon Liddell creates wonderful sounds from his guitar, little riffs and chord progressions that just sound sublime, whether gentle and fragile, or dreamy, shimmering and bursting with sunshine energy.

My sister Carla sang beautifully. I honestly think it was the best I have seen and heard her sing. Her voice could be sweet and tender, or it could rise and soar, sometimes to dramatic effect.

Backed by Calum Muir on drums, Suse Bear on bass and Kim Grant on ryhthm guitar, with Lomond Campbell duetting on Ribbons, Poster Paints created beautiful music that left everyone in the audience beaming. 

On to the album.

As summer becomes a distant memory and autumn unfurls in its uncertain, bittersweet glory Poster Paints are here to provide the perfect soundtrack - all hail the unique undimmed beauty of Scottish pop.

Line of Best Fit

I still remember the first time I heard Poster Paints. I was out at our Mums house in Carluke and Carla messaged me asking if I'd like to hear some demos. The answer, of course, was yes.

It was October 2020 (I just checked my old emails). With the kids happily playing with their Gran, I decamped to our Mums wee summer house in her garden, sat in a chair with my headphones on and pressed play on a song called Circus Moving On. Within a few minutes I pressed play again. Then I moved on to the other song titled Not Sorry. Also playing it again immediately afterwards.

Both songs moved me. The slowness of Circus Moving On, the gentle keys, the ache in Carla's voice, then the strings and Simon's guitar coming in ... the flow of Not Sorry .... they didn't sound like demos.... I messaged Carla to say they were the best songs she had done. They felt more wordly, more mature, but still with the vivid imagery through the lyrics and tumbling and catchy melodies that are Carla's key strengths.

Simon's arrangements were sublime. There seemed to be so much space in the music, yet there was also still so much to appreciate with each listen.

Later in lockdown Carla had tweeted out a message asking for band names as she and Simon now had enough songs for an album. She phoned me up and I was in our back room (formerly my music room, meant to be a playroom, but essentially a dumping room for toys/washing etc) having just finished a #timslisteningparty with a few beers. I looked at the mess around me and suggested names like Blue Crayons, a few others that Carla meh'd at and then Poster Paints, which she seemed to like. 

And that was that. I named a band!

Two years down the line and the album is out on Olive Grove Records & Ernest Jenning Record Co.

Proceeded by a string of singles that built momentum, the eponynmous album is gathering a lot of love from those who discover it.

And it's easy to hear why.

The album floats gently and dreamily into life with Still Got You. At 1-minute 19 seconds the song drifts beautifully, everything cutting out as Carla sings

I've still got that taste
In the back of my throat
The swallowed secret
That makes me choke

Liddell's subtle, shining and shimmering guitar sounds hazily gorgeous over lazily funky beats in the closing minute. It's an absolutely stunning opening.

The pace changes and quickens with debut single Number 1. It's chiming guitar pop with Spector-esque beats. Kids are so naive, I wear my heart on my sleeve, cause baby you're my number 1, baby you're my number 1 is a brilliant chorus. There is a sublime instrumental that takes us to a final refrain.

Not Sorry slows things down again, the verses have so much space for the reflective lyrics, building to the chorus where Liddell's guitar bursts to life to back Carla singing.

My favourite memory of you will be of you in the morning

Never Saw It Coming was the second single that Poster Paints released back in August 2021. The flowing melody and guitar riff are beautifully entwined through the verse, leading to the chorus and the realisation of love lost.

I can't believe you're gone
I never saw it coming

Reflection and realisation come across in the lyrics throughout the album. I think they are the best that my sister has written. Equalled by the flowing melodies that deliver them. Her voice has matured beautifully and just seems to fit perfectly with Liddell's arrangements.

A splash of psychedelia/dream pop in the middle section is just lovely.

Circus Moving On is one of the best songs I've heard this year. Floating and gliding beautifully through the verses, it's mellow, tender and dreamy. Then ... at 48 seconds ... the slow burning star becomes a shooting star lighting up the night sky at pace. A double chorus is delivered with strings, beginning with the lines;

You say I need to walk before I float
But I'm already flying every day

Falling Hard is a pure pop sugary jangly rush, with Easton singing defiantly giving up is not on the cards, when I fall, I'm falling hard. Liddell's guitar jangles, chimes and fuzzes through an instrumental that takes us back to the chorus, one that you may well  find yourself singing after one or two listens.

Lomond Campbell is someone my sister has known for a while and I know that she was absolutely delighted to get the opportunity to work with him on a song. Ribbons aches beautifully, vocals and music are just sublime. Liddell's guitar in harmony with his friend Jonny Scott on drums.

There is plenty of space in the arrangement, playing and production. Everything seems to beautifully unrushed and dreamy.

Campbell & Scott are just a couple of the guests that the duo roped in. Both have declared that it was easier than normal to ask friends (from across the world - see below) to contribute to songs during lockdown restrictions. Ambitions helped by Creative Scotland which ensured that all musicians were paid. 

Poster Paints started when Simon sent Carla a piece of music and asked her to contribute some ideas. Easton wrote lyrics and a melody and returned a completed song. That song was Rupture, so it's only apt that it is included on the album. Liddell's guitar has a dirty jangle to it, taking an abrupt turn at 1 minute 25 seconds to chime. Easton's voice rises in the second half of the song as again she reminisces about a lost love, reminded of this every time she smokes cigarettes, I guess that's why I smoke them as much as I do.

Hard to Sweeten is a real favourite. It's like a lullaby, a truly special song. Guitar and keys/synth, draped with the most gorgeous vocal my sister might have sung to date. The closing instrumental section is just sublime. 

I was warned of love like yours, that's hard to sweeten
I adore a fire that burns, that scars me deeper

Another favourite is album closer My Song. This song builds slowly, surely and sublimely with Carla singing to a lost love I have you the chance to, have and to hold me. At 2 minutes 27-seconds the song begins to soar and glide on a gorgeous guitar riff, New Order-esque bass and synth. You get 2-minutes of this, but I would love an extended 12-inch remix stretched to at least 8. 

Poster Paints album is out now. Order online (can be delivered from the UK or the USA) or check your local record shop. Check a track by track run through by Carla HERE

What next for the band? 

Well they have been offered the chance to go to SXSW in spring 2023. Exciting ... but ridiculously expensive. Personally, I just hope they keep writing and recording. Simon and Carla have conjoured a collection of magical songs and have an amazing pool of friends they can call upon to create the sounds in their heads. With this album, they've brought out the best in each other.

Sunday 23 October 2022

The Hanging Stars & Gerry Love at Stereo


Friday night was one of those great nights when everything seemed to come together perfectly. Venue, sound, DJ, friendly local promoter, crowd, local support and a band from out of town coming in and playing their hearts out in appreciation.

I can't remember the last time I was in Stereo for a gig. The upstairs cafe bar is great for vegan food and a pint, but it must be 2019 anyway since I was last downstairs.

Gerry Love (yeah him again!) was the reason I got a ticket for the night. It was the 4th time I'd seen Gerry in a couple of months. But as I explained to my wife, I hadn't seen him live since 2019! This was making up for lost time.

Each show has been different. This time Gerry was joined by Paul Quinn on percussion, further fleshing out the Lightships sound. Noel O'Donnell on guitar and backing vocals/harmonies has been sublime. Will he go back to drums in the future? I kind of like the way Noel and Gerry are gelling. And then Tom Crossley on various keys/synths, flute and xylophone is a bit of a musical all rounder who brings so much to everything he is involved in. If there was a Glasgow Fantasy Bands League, you'd want Tom in your band.

Silver and Gold was my highlight from Friday night. Gerry's voice sounded as good as I have ever heard it. He hit a real sweet spot. Take The Long Way Round was beautifully gentle and euphoric, Ain't That Enough always sends warm tingles down my spine and Gerry's romantic heartfelt optimism was sprinkled throughout his set.

Glasgow has many basement music venues, the sound in Stereo might be the best. It was really spot on. I also mentioned the local promoter earlier. Holly Calder is a super stylish girl with impeccable taste and knowledge of music. As well as probably having one of the best record collections in Glasgow, Holly's taste in fashion is incredible and she regularly DJ's and puts on nights across the city.

So Holly was putting on The Hanging Stars, also putting them up in her flat for the night. The world (especially the music world) is a warmer place for people like Holly. 

Photo by Holly Calder

And Stereo was pretty warm by the time The Hanging Stars took the stage. A 5-piece, they created a brilliant sound. I would maybe say a little alt. country with a psychedelic tinge.

The band themselves would say Cosmic Americana from London town mixing desert haze with grey rain. They are definitely more poetic than me! A great description!

I have to admit that I hadn't heard of them before this show. A few of my friends at the show were surprised by this. I checked them out in advance of the gig and really enjoyed what I heard, but live, they really blew me away.

Singer Richard Olson had a stunning selection of guitars to choose from; 12-string acoustic, 12-string electric or at times a mere 6-string. Sam Ferman on bass and Paulie Cobra on drums kept things super tight, allowing Patrick Ralla on lead guitar and Joe Harvey White on pedal steel to whip up a storm.

White had a lovely selection of effect pedals and knobs to push and twiddle, creating a lush, warm sound that engulfed the Stereo basement and put big smiles on peoples faces. 

As I said, I'm not overly familiar with The Hanging Stars songs at present, but I'll change that over the coming months. Just the band I need to get me through a cold, dark winter.

Check their setlist below.

Special shout out to Patrick Cichy who DJ'd before, between and after the bands. Patrick's song selection is also listed below and he has uploaded it to mixcloud.

Stereo is a 2-minute hop and skip from Central Station, and my house is a mere 6-minute walk from Uddingston train station. So, as I said, a pretty perfect night! Great to catch up with so many friends.

Cosmic Americana from London town mixing desert haze with grey rain.

Monday 17 October 2022

Killing Me Softly

Cover version of the month #80
Fugees cover Roberta Flack

The opening 35 seconds of Fugees Killing Me Softly is 35 seconds of Laryn Hill singing. Her pure, sweet and beautiful voice is utterly captivating. Her band then drop a hip hop beat and there is the sound of conversation as they encourage Lauryn to continue singing hey yo L, you know you got the lyrics.

Hill certainly has the lyrics, she certainly has the voice. The beat is joined by a bass and her bandmate Wyclef ad libbing one time. Something that everyone would do when singing along back when the song was released in 1996. It was massive, it was absolutely everywhere, topping the charts in over 20 countries. Killing Me Softly was the biggest selling single in the UK that year.

Fugees didn't just cover Killing Me Softly. In classic old skool hip hop block party style, they were sampling as well. Bonita Applebum by A Tribe Called Quest, which actually samples Memory Band by Rotary Collection is where Fugees got the distinctive riff that introduces the beats at the start and subsequent verses.

The song is stretched to almosty 5-minutes, Fugees are in no rush. Their cover version is warm, full of love and appreciation for the original, they just add a beautiful little bit of hip hop soul to put their own stamp on it. And they do it in style.

Now ... here we have another example of me finding out that what i thought was the original version ... wasn't the original version! Get ready for the story behind this involving Don McLean & Marvin Gaye!

I always thought that Killing Me Softly was a Roberta Flack song and I'm positive that all the press around Fugees version indicated that too.

However, the original was released in 1972 by Lori Lieberman who co-wrote (uncredited) the song with Charles Fox (music) and Norman Gimbel (lyrics). 

Lieberman was inspired to write the song while watching Don McLean in concert, in particular when he sang his song Empty Chairs. She scribbled notes and Fox & Gimbel worked them into a song (although there is a degree of dispute around who did what).

Lieberman released the song as a single, but it didn't chart. However the song did find its way on to the in flight entertainment system on a plane that Roberta Flack was on! She then played the song live in an encore while supporting Marvin Gaye who put his arm around her and said; Baby, don't ever do that song live again until you record it!

Flack did record the song, it went to number 1 and in 1973 she won a couple of Grammy awards.

The original version has a quaint folk-like quality to it. Lieberman sings beautifully, but there just isn't enough to it. Flack changes the intro, straight into the chorus. The layered harmonies create a new depth, the kick drum coming in all slow is beautiful. Flack's voice is stronger and more soulful.

Flack just lifts the song in all the right ways. The change to the intro, the pace, the use of keyboards/piano rather than the folky guitar in Lieberman's version. And ... the voice! What a voice! It's interesting that Flack's version is also a full 60-seconds longer than the original. She makes the most of that time, with the chorus intro from the very first second through to the end where she just keeps it going, keeps it flowing.

So there you have it. Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly is a cover. The Fugees version is a cover of a cover! I love Roberta Flack's version, but the Fugees version just takes me back to 1996 when it really was everywhere. I love the video, Lauryn Hill is super cool and check the live version from Later. Fugees version has that whole block party vibe going on - it's a cracker.

All previous cover version of the month blogs are listed below. To listen, search for Everything Flows Cool Cover Versions playlist, featuring all of the songs below, on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Lori Lieberman version

Roberta Flack version

Fugees original video

Fugees live on Later

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt
39. ABBA-esque
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
64. Lola

Saturday 15 October 2022

Anything Goes & Everything Flows DJ Mix 17

Welcome to my 17th 60-minute mix where I try and capture the vibe from pre-club nights I used to attend in my younger days at the likes of The Variety Bar & McChuills in Glasgow.

This mix might have a late afternoon/early evening in McChuills kind of vibe. Old Nick would be behind the bar pulling all kinds of cd's out and just going with the flow.

Kicking off with a 12 minute live groove from Donny Hathaway and his band, you are in for a treat with that song alone, never mind the full mix! Hathaway announces he is going to break the song/groove down into 4-movements, allowing each of his band to a chance to shine, a chance for them all to stretch out.

It's a stunner. I love the way piano really takes things a little higher, a little further at around the 3-minute mark and then brings it all back .... then Donny introduces 'the second movement y'all' allowing his guitarist to go for it. Wait for the bass groove though!!!! 'That sounds pretty good y'all!'

I remember getting this album for a fiver from FOPP many years ago, it's been great to revisit it.

Betty Davis' Hangin' Out features, possibly for the 3rd time in one of these mixes. I keep coming back to this song. It's super cool and funky with a catchy chorus.

Elsewhere, most of these songs are new discoveries over the last month or so. God I love music and having the time to explore different artists and sounds.

Search for Everything Flows DJ Mix 17 on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Love the Herbie Mann song, not the album cover!

Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything) - Donny Hathaway

Vampin - The Mack/Soundtrack - Willie Hutch

Push Push - Herbie Mann ft. Duane Allman

Funky Thithee - Shuggie Otis

These Are The JB's - Pt 1 & 2 - The J.B.'s

Thinking Black - Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm

Instant Groove - King Curtis

A Day In The Life - Chocolate Snow

Soul & Sunshine - Harvey & The Phenomenals

Hangin' Out - Betty Davis

I Love Music - Lafayette Afro Rock Band

Unwind Yourself - Marva Whitney

It's My Thing (You Can't Tell Me Who To Sock It To) - Marva Whitney

Friday 14 October 2022

Gerry Love at The Doublet

It's been a while, but last night I left The Doublet Bar thinking 'that's one of my all time favourite gigs'. A beautiful feeling. I've hung on to it all day. 

The Doublet, situated on Park Road in Glasgow, is a cracking wee no thrills, no fuss bar that I've come to love over the years. Handily located just off Great Western Road and within walking distance of Kelvinbridge Underground and Kelvingrove Park, it's still just nicely off the beaten track, on its own.

Downstairs is a cosy bar with a fine selection of beers and malts. There is no TV and you're encouraged to keep your phone in your pocket. It has a real community feel, but anyone is welcome. And then upstairs there is a small lounge that occasionally runs gigs. I put on Starry Skies back in February 2020, just before the world went crazy. 

With an official capacity of 45, getting a ticket for Gerry Love playing The Doublet was going to come down to luck. And I was out of it! I think I saw a post on social media about 90-minutes after the gig had been announced. So, of course, it was sold out.

Step forward my friend Ruthie Blaney who I met through the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub. Ruthie lives in London but has travelled all over the country to watch her favourite band. So Ruthie bought tickets to come up to see Gerry in such an intimate venue.

But then, realised the journey was just too much, coming on the back of a trip up to Strathaven to see Gerry last month and again last week to see BMX Bandits.

I will be forever grateful that Ruthie contacted me with her spare tickets!

On to The Doublet. I arrived at 7.45pm and my friends Lorna & Christina were already in. We were soon to be joined by Paul & Barry, joining the queue for doors opening to get a good seat upstairs.

Jack Mellin from Spinning Coin & Sacred Paws supported. Playing some incredible acoustic instrumentals that were hypnotic at times, dreamy at others with moments of intensity. Jack knows about 100 more chords on the guitar than me! He also sang a couple of times and kept the crowd captivated with his skills.

The view from the bar! Photo by Chris

On to the maestro - Gerry Love.

Joined by Noel O'Donnell on guitar and harmonies/backing vocals & Tom Crossley on on flute/keys/xylophone this was cross between a Gerry Love and a stripped back Lightships show.

Why was it so memorable?

Well the venue for a start. Noel was literally leaning on the bar and having a pint, joking he'd get a round in. Seeing Gerry in such an intimate venue was a real treat.

But it was the songs and the delivery of them that made it so special. It was just so good to hear so many of Gerry's songs stripped back. And to see him playing guitar so close. Noel and Tom brought so much to them, the trio played superbly.

Star Sign opened the set in style and what a selection of songs we were treated to. Sweetness In Her Spark was all kinds of gooey romance and dreamy melodies. Absolutely gorgeous.

This old heart is beating for her
There's sweetness in her spark
It's gonna take me away

Don't Look Back was an absolute joy with the crowd singing along beautifully. Oh how I've missed the shouts of 'go on Gerry boy' to highlight the love for songwriter and song. 

Love played a trilogy of songs from Grand Prix. Going Places was all kinds of spine tingling goodness, from the opening chiming guitar to more dreamy head over heels lyrics and melodies.

I've requested the stars to shine

Sparky's Dream closed the show but there was lots more before then!

If memory serves me correct, in addition to Sweetness ... Gerry and co also played Silver & Gold, Muddy River, and Fear and Doubt from Lighships. The latter introduced as being a rarity. It was one of my favourites from the set. But really, everything was just a delight.

Speaking of delights, I couldn't believe it when Gerry fuzzed up his guitar and played the riff from Hang On. I briefly managed to look around the room and jaws were dropping!

What a joy. Hang On is a real favourite of mine, that line - of all the stars I've ever seen, you're the sun - swoon! The outro with Tom playing flute was one that I didn't want to end. There were a few times when the band could have played on, gelling superbly.

From Songs from Northern Britain we had Take The Long Way Round early on, creating beaming smiles all round the room. Later on Ain't That Enough cause my friend Lorna to become a bubbling mess - in a good way. I thought she was kidding at first when she tugged on my arm, but then it became a hug as this gem of a song overwhelmed my good friend. The lyrics, the melody and the environment - perfect.

Sweet Days Waiting was beautifully mellow. It might have been raining outside but we were basking in sunshine upstairs in The Doublet.

Near You is a real favourite of mine. Guitar pop perfection. And then there was Gerry's cover of Moondog's Do Your Thing that seems to have been written for him.

And then it was Sparky's Dream to end. Everyone sang, everyone was smiling, everyone was feeling good. Paul, who owns The Doublet had introduced Gerry by saying something about the state of the world, how we're living in strange and dark times and that we all need a little more love, Gerry Love. (or words to that effect). I drove home buzzing, thinking of Gerry playing that set with a full band. 

So I think that was pretty much the set. The band were playing just a few feet from where I was sitting, with the majority of the crowd standing by the bar. It felt special, it was special, it was Gerry Love and friends playing some of my favourite songs.

Hopefully Gerry will have some album news in the near future.

I'll be heeding Paul's advice and getting a little more Gerry Love at Stereo next Friday as he supports The Hanging Stars.

Thursday 13 October 2022

Sister Rena live by Lomond Campbell

Trust Me #44

Sister Rena by Lomond Campbell

A couple of people I follow on social media posted a video of Lomond Campbell performing his song/composition Sister Rena after hearing the song on Mary Anne Hobbes 6 Music show.

It's really, really beautiful. Melodic, dreamy, moving, cinematic ... there are hints of sadness, melancholy ... there is plenty of space .... it is just gorgeous ... sublime. Take 4-minutes from your day and get lost in this gem. 

The DIY home video (below) is also a joy. Campbell is lost in the moment, his dog alongside him (watch for the loving cuddle at the end as they 'get it') and sheep baa-ing in the background. 

I first heard of him when he was a member of the FOUND collective. He's now based up in Fort William where he is constantly creating music, building his own instruments and also producing others - including Kathryn Joseph. Campbell is always up to something, a true artist, and seems to have found the space and environment to thrive in. 

I believe that Lomond should have an album out in the not too distant future. One to keep an eye out for.

Check Campbell's treasure trove of a website for loads of other live videos, projects and ideas.

Click HERE to watch the video if you don't see it embedded below.

A list of all previous songs I've blogged about in my Trust Me feature are listed below, along with links to each blog. Sister Rena joins them.

I've also collated them all into a playlist on Spotify that you can find by searching for Everything Flows - Trust Me , or you can CLICK HERE

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
19. Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
20. Did I Say by Teenage Fanclub
21. Don't Look Back by Teenage Fanclub
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by Love Affair
27. Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
28. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
29. Shaky Ground by Sneeze
29. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
30. I Can Feel Your Love by Felice Taylor
31. The State We're In by The Chemical Brothers w/ Beth Orton
32. Sunshine After The Rain by Ellie Greenwich
33. Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem
34. Mondo 77 by Looper
35. Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
36. Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
37. How High by The Charlatans
38. I Can't Let Go by Evie Sands
39. Pop Song 89 by R.E.M.
40. Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
41. There She Goes by The Las
42. We're Going To Be Friends by White Stripes
43. Autumn Sweater by Yo La Tengo

Monday 10 October 2022

Everything Flows 1,000 blogs party

On Saturday night I put on a wee night at La Chunky Studio in The Hidden Lane, just off Argyle Street in Glasgow. In hip happening Finnieston.

I put 40 tickets on sale and within a couple of social media posts, all were bought in just a few days, even though the line-up was a secret.

There were a couple of changes to the line-up in the weeks leading up to the event and unfortunately a train strike meant a few people couldn't attend, but everything came together on the night.

I first came across La Chunky through my sister Carla's first band Futuristic Retro Champions. They recorded an EP in the studio and also played a very memorable gig outside on a glorious sunshine day for the old Hidden Lane Festival way back in 2010. I've stayed in touch with Ronan, one of the owners and was delighted when he said he'd be up for hosting a small night.

My friend Phil DJ'd before, between and after the live acts, wowing us all early on with an edit of Bowie's Young Americans. The lights were dimmed and friends started to stream in to the back room of La Chunky which had been turned into an intimate venue for the night. 

Carla went on first, opening with the beautiful Dreamers On The Run and then the playful Impossible Stuff. I love the feeling of Dreamers On The Run and the line we chased down our fears with a smile, chased bad demons into exile. 

Jenna always used to generate a reaction in the Futuristic Retro Champions days and it did again on Saturday night, but in a different way. The tale of friends forgetting worries for nights out sounded beautiful, stripped back to just Carla and her trusty Juno keyboard.

New song Sugar Honey Ice Tea hit a mark. Carla told of how she wrote it after being afraid to walk home alone in the dark and a few people in the crowd told me how the lyrics resonated with them. The demo is on a Fanclub CD that we've been playing in our car and the girls sing along with it as it's super catchy. Thankfully, they don't know that the lyrics have a darker edge. Sadly, one day they will. There is still so much to be done to help make women feel safer when walking alone at night.

Closing with Poster Paints Number 1 ahead of the album being released next week, Carla's voice sounded as crystal clear as I have heard it. I'm so glad Carla could play and open the night.

Then next up was my band Starboard Hazes. I think we just about passed the audition! Raw n fun indie pop. It's been such a rewarding experience to form a band. Initially it was just my friend James and I working on old songs I had written many years ago. Then, after recording an EP, we decided we wanted to play and recruited James' friends Andy on bass and Jamie on drums. We only got together for the first time on 1st September and we immediately gelled. 

We played; 1. Out Of My Mind 2. Yeah! 3. Keep On Dreaming 4. Beta Band Blues (with Ronan on trombone) 5. Kicking Our Heels 6. Reflected Sunlight

I think we'd had 6 practice sessions. Maybe just 5. But we played well (a few mistakes but nothing major). We only had one very quick practice with Ronan on trombone for our song Beta Band Blues, but he was great, playing on the balcony section and jamming brilliantly (video below). We loved it and it was nice to receive some positive feedback on the EP and show. 

Stephen Farrell AKA Stephen Solo has featured heavily over the course of this blog. With his band Sonny Marvello and then under his solo guise, releasing majestic DIY pop recorded on his iPhone/iPad - in his car, in his bathroom, behind his sofa, under bed sheets ... sublime dreamy melodies, heartfelt lyrics, insane imagination, all kinds of sounds and ideas.

In typical Stephen fashion, he'd spent ages working on backing tracks, beginning with him recording his worries about playing live for the first time since 2019. It broke the ice beautifully. Humour and honesty.

Suddenly Heaven soared with ease, new song Losing It Over You was super catchy and I'd forgotten how good Plastic Heart from the Pii album is. The way Stephen switched from vocal effects to the purity of his voice sounding super dreamy reminded me of Damon Albarn's work with Gorillaz.

Behind Your Eyes was one of the first iPhone recordings that Stephen sent me a number of years ago (must have been 2015) and I urged him to do more. The Albarn reference above was one that first came to me on the beautiful refrain.

Behind your eyes, I'll be waiting

It's so dreamy, you could float away with the melody. The little synth riff in the background is gorgeous. Then you have the crazy but clever verses.

Sonny Marvello's Whispering Song was utterly magical. The way Stephen pulled back from his microphone to sing from the bottom of his heart was spine tingling.

Who are you, who are you to hold me in your arms?

Crying Because, backed only by a blue ukulele was fragile and beautiful, interrupted slightly by someone having a sneezing fit.

And then we had some audience participation for Sonny Marvello's hit that never was - Made of Magic. The super catchy pop had everyone singing the chorus M - A - G - I - C what you're made of, is magic.

It was then time to dance the night away with DJ Phil Redfearn on the decks. Phil immediately kicked off with Come Together by Primal Scream. The Weatherall mix from the classic Screamadelica album. You'll see from the video below that he really got the party started!

We  know that music is music, gospel, gospel, gospel

People did come together for live music and to dance. And it was brilliant. The night ended with an encore, after shouts of one more tune, of Phil playing Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance followed by everyone getting together to hug in groups to The Beatles All You Need Is Love.

We must do it again.

Friday 7 October 2022

1,000 blogs

Welcome to my 1,000th blog!

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. 

I write about & highlight music I love, whether it's a new discovery or a song/album I have treasured for decades. Ultimately, I hope I turn you on to an amazing song you've never heard before, or cause you to rediscover an old favourite you've not listened to in ages. It's been nice to receive some feedback over the years.

I've taken a little bit of time to reflect on reaching this landmark. What has happened over the lifespan of my blog? 

I've thought of other Scottish music blogs, favourite bands, local bands that made it, bands that were signed and dropped/flopped, helping bands, putting on bands, forming a label, putting out self releases ...

An old photo from my music room in 2012, before kids took over!

Looking back over the time I've been writing the blog, I've been fortunate to experience some very memorable shows, discover some incredible music (whether newly released, or older songs/albums) and I've met and made friends with some brilliant people through a shared love of music.

As a kid I devoured the music weeklies and then spent fortunes on Uncut & Mojo, along with numerous other magazines like Loaded, FHM, Select, Vox, Q (only sometimes - never a real favourite) and many more short lived Britpop era mags.

I dreamed of being in bands, or of becoming a music journalist. 

I had no idea of how to form a band, although I did draft a few adverts for the NME & Melody Maker and jammed a little with a few people I met in Glasgow. But other than a few open mic nights and a MySpace page with Garage Band demos under the name Acid Hazes, I never explored forming a band with any real conviction. 

But now I have, finally, formed a (real) band! We're called Starboard Hazes and our debut EP is out today. It even features Norman Blake on backing vocals on the song Kicking Our Heels! 

Find out more about how the band formed HERE and check our debut EP HERE

And I didn't have the grades to get into the journalism course at Napier University. So my dreams remained dreams.

Then, all of a sudden, it became a lot easier to do either. Social networking websites like MySpace meant you could release music, or write about music to a (potentially) worldwide audience!

Back in August 2008, just after returning from a year of travelling (during which I wrote a blog), I wrote and published a blog about the Glasgow Music Scene at the time. I referenced venues, record shops and 5 of my favourite ever gigs from King Tuts Wah Wah Hut and The Barrowland.

Outside King Tuts in June 2020, lockdown - the city centre was deserted

While travelling, I though of the name Aye Tunes for a blog, but that was sadly taken. Aye Tunes ran for quite some time, Jim (the guy who ran it) put on shows and worked incredibly hard to promote the DIY Scottish scene.

Some other blogs from around that time were;

  • Pop Cop - This was my favourite blog. On the ball with snapshot news and superb in depth articles and interviews. I met Jason once or twice at gigs and I hope he is still writing in some form.
  • Peenko - Lloyd from Peenko went on to co-form Olive Grove Records with Halina from Podcart (Lloyd now runs on his own and has for some time). As Peenko he put on shows and put out DIY releases. Lloyd is one of the most positive and friendly people I have met through the Glasgow/Scottish music scene. I've got to know Lloyd pretty well through Olive Grove as he has been releasing my sister Carla's albums. One of the most friendly and helpful people out there.
  • Podcart - Halina from Podcart is another exceptional person I've met through the scene. Halina's passion for music shines through and creates an infectious energy. From memory, there have been a few name changes, but looking back (at least for me), Halina really pioneered podcasting in the Scottish music scene. Her knowledge of the scene and podcasting has led to radio appearances. Podcart is still going strong.
  • Scottish Fiction - Another blog that ended up putting on shows and releasing albums. Mt. Doubt, Annie Booth and Lovers Turn To Monsters were among their roster. Neil somehow did this for quite some time while studying, working and creating quite a big family! (not sure of the exact order!). Oh, and Neil also ran a radio show for a while! 
  • Jock Rock - Still going strong! Good for news and views on the Scottish music scene.

The DIY scene was incredibly healthy and I'd check these blogs daily - expecting a big announcement about a band getting signed to a major! Most of the bands stayed local, adored by blogs and a tight knit scene - although you'd get bands like Frightened Rabbit and Admiral Fallow (pictured below) breaking through. Both bands also had singer-songwriters who cut their teeth on the Glasgow open mic scene.

Following my first blog, I then mainly wrote about gigs I attended through to November, then I didn't write anything again until September 2009! It was only in 2011 that I started to really begin to blog consistently.

And now I've written 1,000 blogs and at the time of writing, they have been viewed 754,483 times! 

Three quarters of a million views! Thanks so much for reading my musings!

Some have had mere dozens of views, lots of have had hundreds, many have had a few thousand, a half dozen have had 5,000/6,000 views and then one has had almost 50,000! (see below)

It's been interesting to look back over old blogs and think about what I've seen, experienced and written about over the last 14-years and 1,000 blogs! It's like a diary! 

I've put on some bands/artists that have gone on to quite big things!

  • Gerry Cinnamon - I was introduced to The Cinnamons by my friends in the band Sonny Marvello. They introduced me to an amazing group of people from Castlemilk who lived and breathed for music.  I remember one memorable night at Stereo when I put on Sonny Marvello and The Cinnamons and half of Castlemilk turned up. 

Gerry Cinnamon with his band The Cinnamons 

So it's amazing to see Gerry Cinnamon doing so well. I once watched him playing solo at Love Music on a Record Store Day to around 10 people. Gerry's personality, charisma and talent were always there. His cheeky charm won friends and his rise is a truly remarkable example of the importance of word-of-mouth.

Cinnamon gigged regularly around Scotland and his open mic night in Glasgow really helped him hone his talent. I was pretty humbled when Gerry kindly put me on the guestlist 2-years running for his incredible shows at the Barrowland in December 2017 & 2018. The atmosphere at these shows (the first in particular) were like nothing I had experienced previously. I hope the blog reviews capture some of it.

Gerry recently headlined 2 nights at Hampden Park - INCREDIBLE. My most viewed blog is one I wrote called The Rise & Rise of Gerry Cinnamon. Gerry was doing everything under the radar, with no press agent, so his growing fanbase were searching for info about him and found my blog! Incredibly, no mainstream media were writing about him! It has almost 48,000 views.
  • Stevie McCrorie - Stevie and the Moon came from a little scene that formed around Alloa/Stirling. There were some cracking bands like Little Eskimos (Kevin Harper is one of the most talented and funny people I have met through this blog), Minature Dinosaurs and an electronic producer called MOPP who I really thought was going to blow up. I loved his song Dream About You. I put Stevie and the Moon on at the old Captain's Rest on one boiling hot summer night as part of a charity show for Maggie's. I got a t-shirt that my daughter ended up wearing as a nightshirt for a while! Stevie's voice was (and is) very rich and soulful and years later he showed up on BBC's The Voice. I stuck a fiver on him and won £70! I should have bet more. Stevie showed what a funny, humble and family orientated guy he was on the show. Check his blind audition HERE
Stevie is still singing. Another great guy from Alloa is Craig Johnston who cut his teeth putting on shows at Maggie Mays in town, before going on to work with DF Concerts, booking supports at King Tuts, then headliners and he's now putting on Lewis Capaldi and others! Craig's warm personality shone through in the darkest of basements. I'm so pleased he's worked his way up and is living his dream.

  • Emma's Imagination - One day I was walking down Sauchiehall Street when I saw a really cool looking, kind of grungey, girl busking. She had a sign in front of her advertising her MySpace page. I followed her page and sent a message to say that I had a spare support slot going at the 13th Note that very weekend for a Sonny Marvello show I was putting on. Emma came down and played a stunning little set. Kind of bluesy, kind of folky, possibly a little stoned. Lyrics were full of humour. She was great. The next year Emma entered Sky 1's Must Be The Music TV show, wowed the judges and audience, won a record contract (and £100,000!) and got a deal with Gary Barlow's label! I don't think she was ever cut out to be a Gary Barlow kind of songwriter or performer. Things never really took off. I hope Emma is still writing and singing.
Emma Gillespie, AKA Emma's Imagination
  • Saint PHNX - I met a lovely girl called Helen Keenan on a charity walk. We were walking at the same pace and discovered we grew up in relatively close proximity (Carluke and Wishaw) and that we loved music. Helen's brother Jamie is in The La Fontaines and both of them are absolute gems of human beings - up for mischief, laughs and fun. Helen told me about a band Vigo Thieves that were playing upstairs in The Commercial Hotel in Wishaw the next Sunday night. I went along and they'd packed the place out, playing some kind of ramshackle Libertines style songs. But their closing numbers hinted a bigger and better things. I met singer Stevie Jukes and his people skills and work rate blew me away. He have me a name check on the back of a CD single and hand delivered it along with a ticket to a show. I ended up helping Stevie to manage the band. Truth be told, Stevie did most things and I was someone to bounce off. But I did arrange some London shows and actually managed to get some meetings with record labels! 
It was really exciting. Stevie and I got the overnight train to London and spent the day meeting lawyers, labels and pluggers. Some (pluggers!) were chancers. The label meetings were very exciting and I thought a deal might be incoming! It didn't happen though and after pushing things with Vigo Thieves as far as possible,  Stevie and his brother formed Saint PHNX who have had a big hit with Happy Place and earned a deal with Atlantic Records! The band smashed T in the Park this summer and have SOLD OUT the Barrowland Ballroom next year.

Stevie Jukes crowdsurfing at King Tuts with Vigo Thieves
The band sold out 2 nights back to back - unsigned

Over the years I've helped bands and artists with self releases and putting on nights. These have included;
  • A Futuristic Retro Champions single, May the Forth b/w Settle Down with artwork by Martin Creed. The launch night at Mono was incredible. Also their Homemade Lemonade retrospective album. 

  • A Miaoux Miaoux single, Knitted, in limited edition knitted sleeves - each one unique! They were hand knitted by ladies that attended a women's group at Maggie's where I was working at the time. All proceeds went to Maggie's Glasgow Centre. Julian (Miaoux Miaoux) is now in Franz Ferdinand!
Watching Miaoux Miaoux create, layer & loop sounds was a joy - a real talent
  • Sonny Marvello's 100 club mini-album containing the beautiful Fire Went Out - one of my favourite songs. Also their Easy Boys b/w We're All Cruel 7-inch. Two real favourites. Check my 10 memories of Sonny Marvello blog HERE for more details about the adventures we had together including putting on our own festival!

And then I helped to form a record label - Last Night From Glasgow. It's incredible to think of the amount of music that has been released via LNFG (and their various offshoots) since 2016. The label has grown way beyond initial ideas of 100 members and printing limited runs of 300 copies of 6 releases a year.

There are now over 600 members which gives the label an incredible platform and scope (and funds) to do all kinds of things; re-issues, books, a record shop ... it's a remarkable story. I've not been involved with the label for some time, but I still keep up with all their news - just about!

Ian Smith, who runs the label, is a force of nature. It's nice when dreams come true and Ian is now working full-time to run the label. Truth be told he probably needed to do that from year 3, but he has knocked things into such good shape that it needs someone working on it. I hope to catch up with him soon. Check a recent interview he did about the label.

I've also helped my sister with her fanclubs that allow her to be independent and prolific in her art. And helped run her Since Yesterday crowdfunder for a documentary about Scottish girl groups. 

It's nice to help artists and creative types to make/release music. I have always got a buzz out of it.

Long term favourite bands like Teenage Fanclub, The Charlatans and The Lemonheads are still recording, releasing & touring. They've been my favourite bands for a long, long time! 

Change happens naturally over time. I was very sad to see Gerry Love leave Teenage Fanclub.  At the same time I was very grateful that the band didn't split up. Endless Arcade, their first post Gerry album, was excellent - it had to be really. And their live shows still bring so much joy. 

I hope Gerry records and releases soon. What a talent. It's been great to see Gerry playing live again recently and I'll be seeing him again this month. It sounds like he is getting ready to record an album.

Of course, I also hope to see the band reunited at some point in the future as well. Norman & Gerry's voices gel so well.  

It sounds like Teenage Fanclub will follow up Endless Arcade pretty swiftly which is great for fans like me. I've seen them live more than ever over the last 6-years or so.

Teenage Fanclub, Edinburgh Assembly Rooms, September 2021
My first post lockdown show

The Charlatans, led by the effervescent Tim Burgess, haven't release an album since 2017's Different Days. Sadly, founding member Jon Brookes died in 2013. I loved his drumming style so much. This White Room performance of Crashin' In highlights what a sensational performer he was - look at the way Tim gazes fondly at him.

However they are still very active on the touring and festival circuit. Meanwhile, Tim has just released Typical Music, his 3rd solo album (a double at that) since Different Days was released. It does make me wonder if The Charlatans will record again. My gut says that they will. Tim's Twitter Listening Parties have helped so many people across the world over the last few years. I love his energy, attitude, taste and style and I'm enjoying his new album.

Evan Dando hasn't been very prolific over the last couple of decades. Certainly not in terms of releasing. The last 2 Lemonheads albums have been covers (I am particularly fond of Varshons 2), while it's almost 20-years since the release of his only solo album, the stunning Baby I'm Bored. Evan tours regularly and played in Glasgow this week for the 30th anniversary of It's A Shame About Ray. I could watch and listen to him playing acoustic guitar all night long. BLOG HERE.

A real highlight of mine since I started the blog was finally getting to see the Stone Roses live; Amsterdam, the Sunday at Heaton Park, Glasgow Green and T in the Park.  And the 30th anniversary show of Primal Scream playing Screamadelica in Manchester was one of the most mind blowing shows I've ever experienced. Jim Lambie's visuals were a real trip. 

It's been nice to take some time to reflect on things I've been involved in, bands I've fallen for, gigs I've been to and friends I have met. Lots of highlights, lots of great memories. My blog has documented quite a lot! 

However my most personal highlight has been watching the development of my sister Carla as a songwriter, artist & performer over the history of my blog. With Futuristic Retro Champions, TeenCanteen, as a solo perfomer and with her new band Poster Paints. She's a wee gem, works super hard and has an amazing talent for words and melodies. I  hope she gets a bigger break sometime soon. 

I'll end with a few things I have learned along the way, just in case anyone reading this is considering writing a blog, or recording a podcast, or whatever young kids do these days!

1) Write/Talk about what you genuinely love and care about - it will help you stick with it
2) Don't expect many views/listens early on. Especially if you are writing about a band that attract an audience of 15/20 to a local show. They might go on and do something, but if they can't get a crowd of their mates interested, the chance are no-one else will be either!
3) Reviewing shows sharply helps. The turning point in my blog was when I reviewed an Echo and the Bunnymen show at the Royal Concert Hall.  I was shocked by singer Ian McCulloch's behaviour and wrote about the incident(s) that occurred when I got home. My tweet quickly gained traction and my blog had over 1,000 views in a couple of hours. So I always try to review gigs sharply while interest levels are still high - and I can remember everything! The flip side is that there are memorable gigs that I haven't reviewed. I've started a blog, or left it a day or two .... and then the moment has gone.
4) Building content helps. It takes time, but having a good bank of content ensures that people will find your blog while searching for band/album/single/gig reviews. I have some 'steady performers' like Nirvana covers The Vaselines
5) You'll sometimes be surprised by what blogs do well. Another one of my steady performers is a review of BiS and Cloth playing at The Old Hairdressers. BiS have an incredibly loyal fanbase and Cloth were really developing as a band. So there was a lot of curiosity about them and BiS have a loyal fanbase across the globe. That blog has almost 3,000 views.
6) A bit of luck helps with views. So Hot Chip, Gerry Cinnamon or Britpop Memories retweeting my blogs hugely helps with views. 
7) But.... don't worry about views. Going back to point 1, write about what you genuinely love and care about. I write because I enjoy it. These days I sometimes just post the blog and don't bother to tweet about it, or post about it. People will find it if they are that interested. But thank you so much to my loyal readers!!!
8) Having regular features helps with content. I have tried a few things over the years including; 5 for Friday, Three for Thursday or Magic Motown. But I've now settled on;
  • My Never Ending Mixtape - a monthly blog with a link to a playlist. 
  • Trust Me - a monthly feature on songs I discover or old favourites.
  • Cover version of the month - a monthly blog on cool cover versions. And maybe the odd dodgy one (David Haselhoff covering The Jesus & Mary Chain!) as well!
It means I always have a minimum of 3 blogs per month, complete with playlists.. I'm also up to #17 in a series called Anything Goes & Everything Flows where I create a 60-minute DJ mix/playlist. But I don't want to commit to that forever!

I now tend to average 7/8 per month. We'll see if that continues as I'm not getting out to quite as many gigs as I once did!

So ... 1,000 blogs. Loads of good memories. I enjoy writing, so who knows how many I'll get to, or how long I'll keep it going for. 

Thanks so much for visiting.

As always, I hope you discover something new to fall in love with, or rediscover an old favourite.

Here is an old blog on my 10 favourite songs ... at least at that time. Most of them still are!

Take care & very best wishes

Flower Power
Me, in Lisbon, summer 2022