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.

 

Siobhan Miller @The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen 30/06/2017

We reviewed Siobhan Millers latest album ‘Strata’ back in March so it was great to be able to catch her live at the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen as part of the Silver City Stramash festival. Drawing mainly on songs from ‘Strata’ Miller and her rather excellent band thoroughly entertained the full house from start to finish. Kicking off with, ‘Banks of Newfoundland,’ the singers captivating voice filling the venue beautifully. An early highlight was a wonderful version of ‘Green Grow the Rashes’ with Miller proving that Burns is not just for January.

After a short break Miller returned to the stage to deliver a rousing version of Ed Pickford’s ‘Pound a Week Rise.’  Delivered with passion and integrity it was one of the standout moments of the evening. ‘Aged and Mellow’ saw Miller in playful mood, the sultry tongue in cheek style raising many a smile throughout the room. Dylan cover ‘One too Many Mornings’ was a joy and proof that choosing it as the lead single from the album was a wise choice. Miller closed proceedings with ‘TheRamblin’ Rover’, a suitably upbeat end to what had been a very satisfying set.

You can read The Barley Boat’s review of Siobhan Millers latest album ‘Strata’ here.

For more info visit www.siobhanmiller.com

 

 

 

 

Mirrors / No Pasaran – Declan Welsh and the Decadent West

Released last Friday, the new double A side from Declan Welsh and the Decadent West delivers two powerful, melodic and rewarding pieces of guitar driven music. ‘ Mirrors’  is a roller coaster of a song with constant twists and turns as the band deftly track  the singers progress from world weary observations on the world around him to outright anger and back again. With intelligent lyrics and a catchy singalong chorus it should have you instantly checking the gig guides so you can catch this band live.

Drawing inspiration from the famous speech by Dolores Ibárruri, ‘No Pasaran’ is a furious slice of agitpop which sees Declan Welsh in full on angry young man mode and no wonder. In today’s world even so called mainstream politicians seem increasingly willing to divide us along lines of race, religion, gender, sexuality and more in order to cling to power.  The disingenuous dog whistle spreading of prejudice has now been replaced by giant billboard posters and shouty mainstream media headlines as the hard right become increasingly emboldened in the post-Brexit world.  Welsh isn’t going to let himself or anybody else slip in to silent acceptance of that as he offers up a defiant and uplifting call to arms. With the fallout from the heart-breaking Grenfell Tower fire threatening to turn a Hurricane Katrina style spotlight on to the tragic practical consequences of a divided society it’s a timely message.

No Pasaran.

Find out more by following Declan Welsh and the Decadent West on Facebook.

Listen to Mirrors / No Pasaran on Soundcloud here

Also available on Spotify, Amazon etc.

 

 

 

 

It was forty years ago today…..The Glasgow Punk Ban

On the 22nd of June 1977 a gig played at the City Halls was to result in the nascent Glasgow punk scene nearly being choked at birth. It seems somehow apt that the band involved was The Stranglers.

Whilst the music press of the time was dominated by the punk explosion outside of London it really was a case of business as usual with long hair, flared jeans and Prog Rock remaining the norm. There were pockets of punks across Glasgow, most visible on Saturday afternoons outside record shops such as Graffiti on Queen Street which stocked numerous punk singles as well as legendary fanzine Sniffin’ Glue. However the scene was crying out for something to really kickstart it in the West of Scotland.

The Sex Pistols Anarchy tour had been due to hit the Glasgow Apollo in 1976, an event which no doubt would have seen the punk flame start to burn much brighter. The gig never took place.  Following the bands infamous live television interview with Bill Grundy which had caused outrage across the entire UK the cancelled banners appeared across the posters outside the famous old venue. The reasons were never made entirely clear although the assumption at the time was that pressure was brought to bear on the Apollo’s owners by the local council, forcing them to follow the lead of other theatres across the country.

Some bands from down south had already played in venues such as the Queen Margaret Union. The Damned had appeared at the Apollo as support to Marc Bolan in March ’77 and Television had headlined there supported by Blondie in May. However the local Councillors, in particular Bill Aitken, the Tory head of licensing, were continuing to make noises about allowing punk gigs to take place in the city at all. It was therefore a surprise when the rather staid City Halls in Candleriggs was chosen as the location for a summer gig by The Stranglers with the Council announcing that they would be attending on the night to monitor events.

The Stranglers were never your typical punk band and some purists would argue that they weren’t actually punk at all. Their debut album had been released in April of that year. ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ was diferent from other punk albums of that period. The keyboard heavy second side was more reminiscent of the Doors than The Stooges but there were plenty of sharp punchy songs present to counter any argument that they were anything less than the real deal.

A large crowd gathered outside the City halls that night waiting for the doors to open. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols had been the victim of a knife attack in Islington that same week and the incident was shared amongst the crowd along with warnings to be careful, an awareness that identifying as a punk at that time could still make you a target for derision and worse.

The support act was a band called London boasting future Culture Club member Jon Moss on drums. They played at an incredible tempo even when compared to other punk bands. Their frenetic set cranking the atmosphere up several notches. After London departed there was to be a long wait before the Stranglers appeared but when they did the effect on the crowd was electrifying. As the opening chords of ‘(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)’ rang out most the crowd rushed forward to pogo in front of the stage.

After several songs bassist and singer JJ Burnel decided to acknowledge the presence of the watching council delegation by belligerently announcing that if they didn’t like it ‘they could just fuck off.’ What followed was unfairly described the next day as a riot which made it seem a lot more malevolent than it actually was. As the next song kicked in scores of fans took to the stage causing three quarters of the band to exit, drummer Jet Black continuing to bang away at his kit, seemingly oblivious to the mayhem around him. There were some ugly confrontations with the stewards as they tried to restore some sort of order but they did manage to exert enough control to clear the stage allowing the band to resume their set. They didn’t get much further before the fans took to the stage again, the whole group continuing to play the final song ‘Go Buddy Go’ as the punters jumped up and down beside them.

The legend is that the nights events were to result in the Council banning punk rock from the whole city. In reality here was never an official ban. However many pubs in the City felt unable to host punk nights due to the threat to their licence if there was any trouble. A few pubs such as The Burns Howff in the city centre and The Dounecastle out at Shawlands were happy to take the risk though. Any restrictions or unofficial ban that there was only lasted a few months with the Clash playing later that year at the Apollo.

The Stranglers also returned to Glasgow to play the Apollo, the councillors making an appearance in the balcony to keep an eye on things leading to Hugh Cornwell having a spotlight turned on them before the band played one of the songs from their debut album, ‘Ugly’. It was a suitably comical conclusion to what was really a rather ridiculous attempt to ban a specific  genre of music.

 

 

L-Space Provide a Brief Escape With New Track ‘Space Junk’

Released on the 16th of June, Space Junk is the latest song from the Scottish dream pop band L-Space. Initially a mixture of synths and delicate vocals the track builds up nicely towards a powerful guitar dominated climax providing four welcome minutes of escape from the worries of this world. The desire expressed in the lyrics to simply be able to float in to space is certainly an attractive one, with voice and instruments effectively combining together here to enhance the imagery.

Formed just last year L-Space released their debut EP Sol O in January. The band originally formed as a duo consisting of Lily Higham on vocals and Gordon Johnstone on guitars and synth. This year has seen the addition of Dickson Telfer on Bass with Maura Keane recruited for synth duties. As you would expect from a band with a Terry Pratchett inspired name their lyrics are firmly futuristic giving them the freedom to create their own world via their shifting electronic soundscape. It’s still very early days for L-Space but the evidence so far suggests they are building on strong foundations. With an appearance at the Mugstock Festival on the 29th of July already confirmed and more live dates to follow the summer should see them deservedly increase their following.

Check out Space Junk and other tracks on Soundcloud and Spotify.

Find out more at the bands website here.

L-Space can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Listen and share below.

Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours / Honeymoon -Savage Mansion’s New Single.

‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours’ b/w’ Honeymoon’ is the new single from Glasgow band Savage Mansion and was released on Lost Map records at the end of May. Lead by Craig Angus the band released a fine four track EP last year, ‘Everyone to the Savage Mansion.’ These two tracks more than deliver on the promise shown there.

‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours’ is driven along by a lazy guitar riff which suits the subject matter perfectly as Angus wonders whether we still interact with people around us as we did in our younger days. The songs slightly sideways observations will resonate with many as we try to decide if modern life is  rubbish or simply different.

‘Honeymoon’ is a glorious helter skelter of a song, the running time of just over a minute proving more than enough to get the job done. Brevity is a definite strength here, the songs infectious nature sure to have the listener pressing play again.

You can buy  ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours’ here.

To find out more about live gigs etc follow Savage Mansion on Facebook and Twitter.

Watch and share the video for ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours’ below.