A New track from Errant Boy – ‘Means’

After listening to the new track from Errant Boy, you are left with the distinct impression that this is a band who look at things from a slightly different angle than the rest of us. ‘’Means’’ invites us in to their distorted landscape with an enigmatic spoken word intro. Seconds later you have been sucked in to a frenetic sonic whirlpool, trapped in Errant Boy’s rather irregular world.

The offbeat lyrics add to the sense of disorientation, the chorus is unlike anything else you will hear this year or any other year. And when it’s over all you will want to do is take a few seconds to gather your breath before jumping straight back in.

“Means” is the first track to emerge from sessions for an album to be released next year, it’s  one to look out for.

 

 

For more info visit Errant Boy on Facebook.

And Errant Media on Twitter is defintely worth following.

 

Kat Healy – Perfect

Last year saw Kat Healy release the five track EP ‘Wolf.’ Atmospheric and genuinely moving, in an ideal world it would have seen the artists next release receive label funding. That it didn’t is reflective of today’s music industry where new talent has to fight hard to gain any sort of reward for their efforts. When playing gigs to spread the word becomes increasingly difficult as more and more live venues shut down, keeping forward momentum can seem like a tough task. It would be so easy to become discouraged unless you maintain belief in yourself and a brighter future ahead. Kat Healy’s new single ‘Perfect’ epitomizes that attitude.

Released after a successful crowd –funding campaign, “Perfect” is a much lighter offering from the singer. Even when tackling darker subjects Kat Healy’s lyrics have often carried a hint of optimism. On “Perfect” the message is clear and unambiguous, as long as we see the good in ourselves there will be blue skies ahead. The  sparse musical backdrop coupled with the skip along lyrics of the opening verse proves irresistible. On the chorus Healy shines, effortlessly taking the listener with her to a warmer place. It’s a wonderfully uplifting experience , one that is a joy to share

For more info visit www.kathealymusic.com

Youn purchase “Perfect” on itunes. 

Also available on Amazon.

Kat Healy can be found on Twitter and Facebook. 

Listen to “Perfect” below. then why not support the artist and buy it? :

Watch out for L-Space

 

It’s only been a couple of months since L-Space’s last single ‘Space Junk’ was reviewed here. Since then the band have played several live dates and also found time to deliver another slice of idiosyncratic electro-pop.

Released at the tail end of August, their latest single sees the band take another stride forward as they seek to envelop us in their increasingly quirky world. ‘Aloe’ is the slightly disturbing tale of someone being turned in to a giant metal bird. Sound mad? Of course it is. It’s also rather good.

The sparse introduction allows the band to gradually build up the air of menace as the track progresses before reaching an ominously quiet ending. Lily Higham’s voice shines brightly throughout, her dreamy delivery perfect when set against the somewhat sinister musical backdrop.

Comparisons to Mogwai are inevitable. However L-Space show no signs of being suffocated by their influences. It is going to be a whole lot of fun following them as they continue to grow their own distinctive musical world.

To find out more visit the bands website here.

Or follow their rather excellent twitter feed.

 

 

 

Neon Waltz – Strange Hymns.

Caithness, at the extreme north of the Scottish mainland is not a place you would immediately associate as the home of one of Scotland’s most exciting Indie bands. It’s an area of extreme contrasts. The East border is provided by the Moray Firth, a sea that can be placid at times but when whipped up by the frequent winds becomes an angry snarling beast.  The Pentland Firth to the North offers a constant demonstration of the power of nature, the surging tides as the ocean is seemingly squeezed between the mainland and the Orkney Isles making the narrow strait notorious amongst sailors the world over.  Where the land meets the sea varies from gentle rolling beaches to towering cliffs.  The land itself is one of our last great wildernesses, the beauty within its bleakness undeniable.  Yet when you listen to Strange Hymns, the debut album from Neon Waltz, you realise that it’s the only place that its creators could have come from.

Opener ‘Sundial’ hooks the listener instantly, the first of ten tracks, none of which fail to demand attention.  Full on aural soundscapes packed with swirling melodies sit side by side with more reflective dreamlike moments, the balance between the two never less than perfect.  It’s a blend that reflects the landscape that the band grew up in.  The music here is joyous, thought provoking and often beautiful.

‘Dreamers’ is an early highlight. It perfectly illustrates the bands ability to produce songs that are fresh and distinctive sounding. There is just so much to delight and surprise the listener over the course of the album.  Quieter moments, such as ‘You and Me’ are totally captivating. ‘Sombre Fayre’ with its hypnotic opening continues to build over the course of four minutes before reaching a perfect and unexpected ending.

 ‘Bring me to Light’ is simply glorious, a wonderful slice of indie pop that is hard to resist playing on repeat. The same could be said of every track here though. On ‘Heavy Heartless’ Neon Waltz gift us a few minutes of seemingly effortless beauty, lead singer Jordan Shearer’s emotional delivery proving irresistible.

Album closer ‘Veiled Clock’ maintains the high standards right up until the very end, a deceptively simple start allowing the song to grow steadily as the band leave us with an emotional finish.

Some albums engage you instantly, others are growers, requiring several listens before their strength is fully revealed.  ‘Strange Hymns’ ticks both boxes, its hook laden songs proving more potent with every play. It has to be marked down as a triumph.

For more information including tour dates etc check out Neon Waltz on facebook.

You can also do twittery stuff with the band here. 

 

 

 

2+2=4, Kathy Muir’s New EP More Than Adds Up.

It only takes a brief conversation with Kathy Muir to be struck by the enthusiasm and dedication she brings to the art of song writing. The recent release of her new EP, “2+2=4”, sees  her continue to impress. Her voice, always warm and compelling, has never sounded better as she utilises her own strengths to maximum effect.

Trying to categorise Kathy Muir can prove to be a fruitless exercise. Her mix of Americana, jazz, blues and folk coupled with her thoughtful lyrics suggest an artist that is entirely comfortable with her own singular path. Perhaps that is due in part to the more unusual route she has followed to a recording career. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Kathy Muir had what some might call a ‘proper’ job for a number of years. It would be easy to label her current musical pursuits as a second career but it would be wildly inaccurate for Kathy Muir had been writing songs long before entering a studio proper.

In August 2011 Kathy Muir was enduring one of those long airport waits whilst contemplating a two week business trip to the states. An inspired google search for recording studios in Stamford, Connecticut, threw up three results. The first two failed to pick up her call, the third was answered by Steve Hansen at Hi-Top productions. It was the start of what has proved to be a fruitful collaboration.

Until 2012 Muir had not really performed live. Initially she performed at open mic gigs in Connecticut with a three song set. Now she is a regular on the local circuit with a much longer repertoire. I asked her why, with so many songs tucked away, she hadn’t felt compelled to sing them in public before. “It honestly never really occurred to me because I was just happy to write. Creating a song is still more enjoyable than the performance of it.” Muir now takes a pragmatic approach to live performance. “I try to get a good balance between recording and performing so I space out my gigs. I like to get a real-time reaction from the audience for certain songs, especially the new ones. That’s the real litmus test.”

The new four track EP marks another distinct step forward for the artist. As always the songs are extremely well crafted. Opener ‘The Other Side’ tackles intolerance but for Muir it is hope rather than despair that is the winner. ‘River Running’ is possibly the catchiest track, the chorus proving to be a real ear worm. On ‘Try Coming Round’ optimism and cynicism meet head on in an imagined conversation.

Final track ‘You Never Knew Me’ is one of the more stripped down songs here. Kathy Muir’s warm vocal set against a simply strummed guitar reflects on just how we are seen in this world as individuals. It’s a comforting dream like track, evocative of those early morning reflections we all engage in occasionally.

So far Kathy Muir has played only a handful of gigs in her home country. That should change next year as she explains. “Assuming everything fits in to place I’m hoping to return to Scotland early next year and settle back in Edinburgh. I’m looking forward to getting in to the art and music scene in Edinburgh which I follow avidly from afar.”   It’s  a homecoming to look forward to.

You can buy/listen to 2+2=4 here.

 

 

The Cliftons – Breaking out from the Granite City

So I’m driving along Clifton road in Aberdeen when my never ending playlist throws out the new single ‘Win that Girl’ from local band The Cliftons. Serendipity? Possibly. Anyway it’s reason enough to merit a shout out here for a band showing a lot of promise.

This young indie-rock band have been together for a few years now. Previous five track EP ‘Scarlett’ saw them flexing their musical muscles as they experimented with various styles. Their growing confidence in their own sound is evident on ‘Win that Girl’, a song that will surely prove to be a crowd favourite when performed live.

The Clifton’s have been steadily building their fan base in Aberdeen and the vibe around them is now beginning to ripple outwards as they gig further afield. Do yourself a favour and check out their Facebook and Twitter feeds for details of live gigs etc.

Watch , listen and share ‘Win that Girl’ below.

One to Watch – Lisa Kowalski

Despite still being only 17 years old Lisa Kowalski has been writing songs for over four years now. Hailing from Paisley her debut EP ‘Free Spirits’ was released back in April. Partly funded by the Paisley 2021 City of Culture it certainly delivers a good first impression.

Kowalski makes no attempt to hide her Taylor Swift influences but there is never any danger of entering pastiche territory with the singer adding more than enough individual nuance to keep things interesting and distinctive.

All four tracks offer something different. Title track ‘Free Spirits’ has the singer declaring her intention to follow her own path whilst ‘Looking but not Finding’ tells a familiar tale of love from afar.

It’s on ‘The Very End’ that  Kowalski really starts to shine as she delivers a put down to the negative bullying naysayers of this world. There’s a little more grit present throughout this song which adds the extra ingredient needed to lift things up a level.

‘Hearts of Gold’ is a heart-warming thank you to the people of Paisley for the support offered throughout her time busking on the local streets. As previously mentioned ‘Free Spirit’ received funding from the Paisley City of Culture bid. At a time when financial support for developing musicians seems thin on the ground, particularly for makers of ‘popular’ music it’s good to see Paisley2021 providing solid backing for local talent

It’s worth mentioning that you can also hear Lisa Kowalski singing lead vocals on Livingston guitar band Savage Cut’s single ‘Stand By.’ It may be a signpost towards the road Kowalski eventually travels. Whichever path she decides to go down though, whether as a solo artist or as a member of a band, her hometown will surely be celebrating the success of yet another talented Paisley Buddy over the next few years.

‘Free Spirits’ can be found on all the usual digital platforms.

You can find out more about Lisa Kowalski on her Facebook page including plans for filming a video for ‘Hearts of Gold’ on the streets of Paisley.

You can also catch up with her on Twitter.

No Longer Young Enough b/w Breakfast for our Tea – The New Single from the Just Joans

As if waking up and realising that it’s Friday wasn’t enough The Just Joans have only gone and released a new single today, their first for several years.

‘No Longer Young Enough’ is four and a half minutes of indie-pop wonderfulness that is destined to be played on repeat by all who hear it.  The sharp punchy intro instantly demands attention, picking the listener up before Katie Pope’s sweet vocal kicks in. With a classic girl group style singalong chorus giving the bittersweet lyrics a saccharine coating it’s a highly infectious offering  that doesn’t falter from start to finish. Innocence collides with world weary self awareness and joy meets pathos as everything is neatly underpinned by a healthy dollop of humour.

If this perfectly paced track and the accompanying flip side, ‘Breakfast for our Tea’ are anything to go by then the album due for release later in the year is going to be an absolute belter.  Give your ears a treat and head here to purchase what is a triumphant return.

‘No Longer Young Enough’ is also available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc

For more info catch up with the Just Joans on twitter and facebook.

 

Jenn and Laura-Beth, Bound for Southern Fried.

Amongst the acts scheduled to appear at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival next week are Jenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter. With both artists involved in a multitude of other projects their appearance as a duo should be keenly anticipated. It also provides the perfect excuse, if one were needed, to take a closer look at their rather excellent album, ‘Bound.’

Released at the end of 2016, ‘Bound’ from Jenn & Laura-Beth is one of those albums that will sound fresh and new no matter how many times you play it. Having worked together for over eight years as stalwarts of the folk scene you would expect there to be a high level of understanding between the pair. They deliver on that promise and much more. The combination of Jenn Butterworth’s guitar and Laura-Beth Salter’s mandolin playing takes on an almost magical quality. With both musicians’ masters of their instruments, the understanding between them and subtlety of touch creates a remarkable sense of synergy throughout the entire eleven tracks. The same thing is true of the vocals. Whether they are singing individually or harmonising, the results are never less than uplifting.

A mixture of self-penned tunes and cover versions, ‘Bound’ has been recorded as the tracks would be played live. With playing this good there really is no need for any additional studio trickery. Opener ‘Let the Sunshine Down on Me’ should be more than enough to get most listeners hooked. ‘The Braver One’ written by Laura-Beth Salter demonstrates perfectly why no additional instruments were required, Jen Butterworth’s guitar ably carrying out the duties of an entire rhythm section.

The beautiful rendition of Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Wings On my Heel’ is an absolute delight, the unfussy instrumental backing allowing the vocals to shine brightly. Instrumental tracks such as ‘1, 2, 3, 4 / Joseph Salters’ are wonderful wee musical journeys which will leave the listener in no hurry to reach their destination.

An atmospheric cover of Mindy Smith’s ‘Come to Jesus’ closes the album. It’s a gorgeous end to a collection which screams quality from start to finish,  a genre crossing joy to spend time with.

You can purchase ‘Bound’ here.

Get the latest from  Jenn and Laura-Beth on Twitter

 

 

Catching up with Christy Scott

A  random tweet recently pointed me in the direction of Christy Scott’s five track EP, ‘Amaranthine’ which was released back in February. Hailing from the North East coastal town of Buckie, Christy Scott makes a memorable first impression.

Whilst the band accompanying her offer a traditional line up with fiddle and acoustic guitar to the fore Scott’s debut is closer to indie-pop than folk, an occasional injection of country adding to the pleasing nature of this collection.

The opening track, ‘Hearts Collide,’ sees Scott’s sweet vocals ringing out over some very assured instrumental backing. As with all the other songs here it’s a tale of love. The themes may be familiar but Scott’s voice ensures everything remains fresh and interesting from start to finish. There are no vocal histrionics required, the warm tone of her voice and subtle phrasing making for a very pleasurable listening experience.

Second track ‘Potion’ will have most listeners instantly hooked. One of the more up tempo songs, it’s an infectious couple of minutes that it is hard not to sing along with. The contemplative closing track ‘Hope Street’ is a downbeat tale of love gone wrong and may well be the real gem here. The plaintive ending is simple yet perfect as the singer laments that ‘it’s hard to let go.’ Hopefully we will be hearing a lot more from Christy Scott.

For more info follow Christy Scott on Facebook

You can buy Amaranthine here.

Watch , love and share a performance of  ‘Potion’ below.