Amy Duncan – The Hidden World

On her previous six albums  Amy Duncan set a consistently high standard.  We know to expect glorious vocals, smart lyrics and first-class musicianship.  On latest release, The Hidden World, we have all that and more.

The title track kicks things off and it sets the scene perfectly for the song cycle that follows. There is a distinctly dream like feel to the song as it contemplates the way barriers, put up to protect ourselves, end up restricting our horizons. It’s a constant theme throughout the album, the prescience hard to ignore as we contemplate the current lock-down period and beyond.

Next up is Labyrinth.  It’s description of tantalising opportunities, briefly glimpsed and rarely grabbed is totally captivating. It is worth noting that Labyrinth is one of three tracks from the album which have had video releases.  Created by animator Tracy Foster they provide a wonderful visual accompaniment to Amy Duncan’s voice.

It would be almost unfair to single out one track as a highlight. Medusa, A Forest and the haunting Butterfly are all songs that will linger long in the mind. The album closer, Make it Good provides a fittingly hopeful finale to what is a decidedly uplifting and beautiful  album.

The Hidden World is an album to be listened to from start to finish. There really is no filler here, the synergy of this collection testament to the care that has been taken putting the songs together.

Find out more by visiting  amyduncan.co.uk

The Hidden World is available don Bandcamp 

You can also find Amy Duncan on Twitter and Facebook

Bokka – Roll Down the Hill

Released back in March, Run Down the Hill is a five track EP from Polish dream pop purveyors Bokka. Made up of five tracks, three of them cover versions, it finds the band at their most playful.

Formed in 2013, Bokka found early success with their first single, Town of Strangers.  Taken from their eponymous debut album it enabled the band to quickly establish themselves on the Polish music scene and garnered attention from further afield.  Right from the start Bokka insisted on keeping the names of the band members secret and let the music speak for itself. , It is a decision that makes their live performances all the more more intriguing as the group take to the stage in disguise. Bokka have since recorded two further albums, both well worth seeking out.

The opening track here  is a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s version of 1966 song Bang Bang.  It’s a wonderfully atmospheric take on one of the poppiest murder ballads ever released.

Next up is a cover of Joy Division’s all-time classic Love will Tear us Apart. When approaching a cover version it can be all too easy to compare it to the definitive original version and ask ‘Why?’  It’s much more fun though to go in with an open mind and say ‘’Why not?   The band have performed the song several times live and once you listen to their take on the song it’s easy to understand why their fans were clamouring for them to release a studio version.

The final two tracks are rearrangements of the band’s own songs. Too Far Too Close is taken from 2015 release Don’t Kiss and Tell whilst 2018’s Life on Planet B was the original home for Take my Hand. Both songs have been given a harder edge to the point where it is tempting to say that the band have effectively given us cover versions of their own songs.

If you aren’t familiar with Bokka then Roll down the Hill serves as a useful introduction and will hopefully have you giving their albums a whirl. This is the sound of a band having  great fun messing around with some songs they obviously have a great deal of affection for and certainly worthy of adding to your collection.

Roll Down the Hill is available on all the usual platforms, find out more by clicking here.

You can find out more by connecting with Bokka on Facebook. 

 

Locked Hands – The Getting By

The rather splendid new single from Locked Hands, The Getting By, is one of those   tracks that seems to resonate with the strange times we are living in right now.

Reminiscent of Bowie at his most contemplative, the plaintive vocal tells of the cruel torment that anxiety can cause. As the song develops the atmospheric musical backdrop cleverly mimics the lyrics as the initial onset of anxiety develops from a trickle in to an overwhelming flood.

The Getting By is both beautiful and haunting. You certainly won’t be filing it under easy listening. However as lock down fears give way to moments of anxiety for many of us, whether brief or sustained, it’s a comfort to know that you are not facing them alone. This song is the musical arm around the shoulder that we all need occasionally.

The Getting By has been released by Errant Media and is available on soundcloud and all the usual streaming services.

Get the latest from  Locked Hands  on Twitter.

 

The Nickajack Men – Consistent Ignorance

 

Consistent Ignorance is the new song from Falkirk’s The Nickajack Men.  Filmed and recorded live at Stirling’s Tolbooth Studio it’s a welcome respite from yet another lockdown Friday.

Running at just under four minutes this is  a glorious piece of indie rock which, not content with hooking you in instantly, improves with every repeat listening.  There is also a wonderful moment near the start of the video when the band appear lined up,  It’s sure to raise a smile.

Whilst you can detect the sounds of bands such as The Only Ones and The Replacement bluesed up with the Rolling Stones in their DNA the Nickajack Men have managed to carve out a distinctive sound for themselves. Hopefully we do not have to wait too long for a full album to appear.

You can check out the song on Tolbooth Projection’s youtube channel HERE.  It’s well worth subscribing whilst you are there as well.

You can get the latest from the  The Nickajack Men on Facebook and Twitter. 

Good Dog – Floating / Bumblebee

Released yesterday on Lost Map records, Floating / Bumblebee is the new double A side single from Good Dog, the alter ego of Pictish Trail   band member Susan Bear.

If this lock-down period has you yearning for something different to lift the mood then forget the wine sozzled purchases from Amazon and treat yourself to these two slices of delightful Indie Pop.

Floating has it all, glorious vocals and a musical backdrop which rewards you more with every listen. The instrumental Bumblebee more than lives up to its double A side status as it takes you on a sonic journey you will not want to end.

These tracks serve as a taster to the album Creature, due out on May 22nd. Mark that down in your diary, we should be in for a real treat.

You can buy this Double A side buy  on bandcamp HERE

Get the latest from Good Dog on Facebook.

Floating / Bumblebee is available on the usual streaming services.

Fistymuffs – We Fight

About Time, the 2018 debut EP from Fistymuffs, was so full of energy it practically vibrated. It’s good to find that during the intervening period none of that initial fire has dimmed.

We Fight contains another  four fine songs from the band.  Whilst still providing some of the rawest post punk moments you will hear, there is more subtlety at work here  with songs heading off in directions you don’t quite expect.

Opener Hey You! is a straight out Riot Grrl call to arms.  There is no intro, all niceties are dispensed with as the band drag you straight in to their world.  Singer Ashley Stein will have you feeling like you are being dragged into a vortex with her insistent ‘Listen to me’ refrain. It’s more than slightly unsettling and  compulsive listening.

Next up is Gentrification of Leith, a song inspired by the Save Leith Walk campaign, launched after property developers submitted plans to demolish a row of sandstone buildings including the much loved music venue Leith Depot. This may be a protest song but the band don’t resort to mere  preaching here, rather they deliver their message against a pleasingly trippy musical backdrop.

Riots Not Diets puts the diet industry firmly in the band’s sights and they continually hit the target. The constant change of pace is inspired as the track veers from anger to frustration and back with visits to several points in between.

The final track Survivors Write History (there is also a Radio Edit version present) is the most melodic song on the EP and packs the biggest emotional punch. It’s possibly unfair to single out a highlight when each song is so strong but for me, this was it, an absolute triumph.

We Fight showcases a band who hold nothing back. Please check them out on bandcamp where you can buy the EP and some rather wonderful merchandise as well.  And if you are new to the band you should definitely check out previous EP,  About Time.

Fistymuffs are Ashley Stein on Vocals and Bass, Suky Goodfellow on Guitar and Vocals and Nikki Fox on Drums.

You can buy We Fight here. 

Send the band some love on Twitter,

And check out the latest Fistymuff news on Facebook. 

Refloating The Boat

I was going to start this by saying that a few months ago I decided to take a short break from the Barley Boat.  I am not so sure nearly eighteen months counts as a few though, so I ditched that. They say time passes quicker as you age.  Well given that I am now older than Methuselah’s Nan it is  whizzing by me at a fair rate of knots and that is as close to an excuse as I can come up with. 

Up until a few months ago my intention had been to leave things dormant for a while longer then sink the boat completely.  Then this bloody virus happened and it was time to rethink everything.

So, for better or worse it is back.  Hopefully I can provide a little bit of encouragement to bands and singers out there at a difficult time, and help to shine a light on some wonderful music.

If you are playing online gigs please let me know so I can help spread the word. Genre or where you are based does not matter, absolutely anything goes on the Barley Boat.

If you have heard some amazing stuff and want to write a review yourself then please get in touch and we could possibly find a home for it on the Barley Boat.  How about an article on a band/gig/album that has made a huge impression on you>

Please help spread the word far and wide and please contact me on admin@thebarleyboat.com.

John 

 

 

Lisa Kowalski -New Single ‘I Do.’

We highlighted young Paisley singer songwriter Lisa Kowalski last year as one to watch following the release of her four track EP, ‘Free Spirits’.  It’s good to see her back with her recently released single ‘I Do.’

A raw and honest account of love gone wrong, the singers plaintive voice is complimented well by pianist Mark Bovee and Tim Allen on mandolin. Emma Durkan’s fiddle playing cranks up the emotional impact of the song rather nicely, particularly as the track nears the end. It’s another well delivered piece from this hard working young artist, both heartbreaking and beautiful. Still only 18, Lisa Kowalski continues to impress.

You can find out more about Lisa Kowalski by visiting her Facebook page here.

Or catch her latest tweets here.

‘I Do’ is available on all the usual platforms. I’d urge you to go and check it out and while you are at it give last year ‘Free Spirits’ EP a listen.

Little Love and the Friendly Vibes spread the love along Leith Walk with their new video.

It was way back in June that I managed to catch Little Love and the Friendly Vibes doing their stuff at a sun kissed Leith festival. They delivered a cracking set that day with one of the highlights being their single Italian Leather jacket.  The recent release of a fun to watch video to accompany that song certainly brightens up the dull October days we find ourselves in now.

The opening scene sees frontman Euan Weddell buying a leather jacket from a charity shop, the garment instantly transforming him in to a man confident enough to dance down Leith walk wearing flares. (And that has to be one the benchmark measures of just how high confidence levels can reach.) The video is a total blast as passers-by swoon over him and join him on his journey.

There is so much here to make the watcher smile and at times laugh out loud. Leonora Winstanley apparently wrote the Italian lyrics using Google translate. La consegna è eccellente.  Bass player Steve Little’s appearance half way though proceedings provides another wonderful moment. It’s hard not to smile as he tells us that he’s ‘had a lot of fun in the back of a van.’

Video director Graham Bodenham, the band’s drummer, has delivered the perfect  accompaniment to what is a rather splendid rhythm driven song.  Watch it and you will be left feeling a lot of love for Little Love and the Friendly Vibes.  You may also find yourself driven towards the local charity shop in search of an Italian leather jacket of your own.

Find out more by visiting the bands Facebook and Twitter pages.

Catch the video below.

 

The Hector Collectors -Remember The Hector Collectors?

With their latest release, The Hector Collectors waste no time at all in getting down to  business with the album title itself aping the plethora of click bait headlines that litter the internet.

‘Remember the Hector Collectors?…you won’t believe what they sound like now’   serves up twelve tracks of instantly likeable indie pop, packed full of humour and smart observation. There are several laugh out loud moments, more than a few serious points made and most importantly, some damn fine tunes.

An early highlight is the wonderfully titled ‘It Takes a Lot to Laugh, it Takes a 25 Minute Response Video to DESTROY your Argument.’ With a catchy chorus and clever lyrics taking a swipe at internet behaviour it sets the template for much of what follows.

‘Bullies’ provides real food for thought, the breezy soundtrack allowing the message to get through without ever appearing preachy. ‘Just Lovely’ is a fun list of things that may or may not be lovely. The singers reaction to his wife getting tickets to see Sarah Millican is one of the best gags on the album, one of many great one liners on this track alone.

‘Overton Window’ takes a wry look at today’s  confusing political scene with the singer initially celebrating how the slightly bonkers has now become mainstream before bemoaning the fact that everything has moved to an even crazier place than even he had imagined.

‘Edgelords’ was released as a single a couple of months back, a great choice as it served as the perfect pointer to an album which simply doesn’t have a bad track on it. Things are brought to a conclusion with the enjoyably odd ‘Leeson Windfarm.’ Unlike the rest of the album it is a  rather dark affair but it works wonderfully  as a full stop to what has gone before.

For more information including how to buy the album, why not  follow the band on Twitter ?

Check out the video for Edgelords below.