I have to admit that the release of Frantic Chant’s latest album The Glass Factory at the end of February totally passed me by. The good news is catching up with it over the past few days has been a wholly gratifying experience. There’s a lot to catch up with. Weighing in at a hefty 21 tracks and over 70 minutes long it certainly demands a wee bit of commitment from the listener. Here’s the thing though, once you get hooked in to Frantic Chant’s world via the atmospheric opening track ‘A Descending Journey’ don’t be surprised to find yourself holding on tight for the entire trip.
The Leith based band describe themselves as a psychedelicious rock’n’roll band. The emphasis is firmly on the psychedelic with the degree of acid tinged weirdness veering between slightly trippy and full on Kentucky fried brain. Things never get too dark though with humour prevalent throughout. If there is an award up for grabs for the most bat shit crazy track title of the year then you may as well hand it now to ‘Mushroom Jim and the Planet of the Funky Apes.’
There is much to love here. On such a long album there is an ever present danger of imminent boredom but it is adroitly averted by frequent injections of inventiveness taking things on an unexpected diversion. Frantic Chant tread an admirably singular path which will probably unfairly preclude them from world domination. It’s a shame, I’d love to know just what type of world they’d rule over.
You can buy The Glass Factory here.
Indulge in some tweetery with Frantic Chant here.
Or you could take a trip in to their Facebook kingdom.
Watch the YouTube video for Swing to the Left from the album below.
It’s been a busy few weeks for US based singer songwriter Kathy Muir. A couple of weeks ago she was in Scotland making a rare homeland appearance at the Tartan Ribbon Project benefit night in Oxgangs, the area of Edinburgh she spent her childhood in. Now safely back over the pond, today sees the release of her latest song ‘Pocketful of Sand’. Whilst the song is more than strong enough to stand up on its own the accompanying video has been produced as an integral part of the project. It’s an accomplished piece of work , the audio and visual elements blending together seamlessly.
Inspired by a childhood memory ‘Pocketful of Sand’ is a classic case of more is less, the sparse piano backing echoing the evocative images of simpler times conjured up by Muir’s lyrics. There is a real sense of the singer sharing something deeply personal here whilst reminding us how a simple gesture can be amongst our greatest gifts. Muir’s endearing vocal delivery is certainly enhanced by the understated piano work with praise due to Keira Osment for her subtle contribution.
The video itself is the work of South Korean sketch artist Jun (‘Sean’) Sung Hyun. Recruited by Muir via Instagram, where she had been a long-time fan of his work, his powerful time lapse images are totally captivating. Working from images suggested by Kathy Muir on a Pinterest storyboard it’s a wonderful illustration of what collaboration across continents via social media can achieve. It’s obvious that ‘Pocketful of Sand’ has been a real labour of love for the singer, hopefully it gains the widespread attention it deserves.
You can buy Pocketful of Sand on itunes
Or listen to it on Spotify.
Or buy and listen to it on Soundcloud.
For more info click here.
Check out more work from artist Jun Sung Hyun on Instagram where he posts as @uniquelab
Great Albatross are the collaborative vehicle set up by leader A. Wesley Chung to deliver his own brand of indie tinged folk music. With Chung at the centre of a revolving cast of supporting musicians it’s an approach that promises to keep things constantly refreshed. Their debut album, Asleep in the Kaatskills, has just been released on Glasgow based LP records and it does not disappoint.
Opening track ‘Messenger’ has a dreamlike quality. Short and sweet, it is swiftly followed by ‘The Honeymoon’s Over.’ Driven along by acoustic guitar the track smoothly changes up a gear as things become just that wee bit livelier. The is a country element present throughout but no more so than on ‘Now There’s You’, another up-tempo offering.
The sense of confusion that can sometimes overwhelm an individual as they contemplate love, family and friendship permeates the entire album. ‘Summers Gone’ describes perfectly those feelings of isolation and weariness that can strike us all. ‘Table for Five’ is a beautiful take on vulnerability and self-doubt, the vocal hovering perfectly over the instrumental accompaniment.
Whilst the lyrics are often melancholy Chung never lets the mood become maudlin. As he sings ‘We’re small but our voice is loud’ near the end of the album’s title track he shares an uplifting moment of defiance with his listeners. ‘Asleep in the Kaatskills’ is a wonderfully constructed album that deserves to be listened to in it’s entirety. Atmospheric and emotional yet also joyous at times, it’s a musical journey you will want to take again and again and again
For more info on Great Albatross visit them on Facebook.
You can buy Asleep in the Kaatskills here.
Sometimes an album appears at just the right time. Antidote, the sixth album from Amy Duncan is just such a collection. Primarily a group of songs about a personal battle with adversity, the lyrics here contain metaphors and images which chime perfectly with the fears and anxieties that today’s increasingly uncertain world generates in us all.
‘Steady the Bow’ sets the tone perfectly for what is to follow, Amy Duncan’s voice appears immediately, the accompanying instruments perfectly reflecting the mood of the lyrics as the song ebbs and flows. ‘The Journey’ is mesmerising, from the opening sound of birdsong until the singer alights from her journey, voice and instruments blending flawlessly. Sounds recorded on the streets of Edinburgh are used throughout the album and the effects are startling, the sonic landscape being increased exponentially. If the opening line on ‘Severed Head’ seems childlike, the grisly follow up will certainly grab your attention. It’s something that happens frequently, you never really know just where Amy Duncan is going to take us.
There is darkness but it is more than countered by the frequent signposts towards the light and this is what makes this such a satisfying album to listen to. It ends with the title track and it leaves you in no doubt that there is always hope, the vivid image of green pushing up through the gaps in the concrete sure to linger long in the mind.
The honesty of the lyrics and the accomplished delivery of the songs marks this album out as something rather special. The beautifully ethereal atmosphere wraps around you like a comfort blanket as Amy Duncan tackles universal real world emotional issues. The perfect Antidote? It’s certainly close.
You can buy Antidote here.
To find out more visit Amy Duncan’s website here.
Or visit her Facebook page.
Or if Twitter is your thing click here.
Sink a Few Drams with The Coaltown Daisies
The Whisky Song by The Coaltown Daisies is one of those tunes that makes you smile from start to finish. It gained a lot of positive attention after the accompanying video appeared as a CalMac Culture Music entry and deservedly so. A raucous mix of the band playing live and mugging it up for the camera mixed in with shots of Islay it’s a total joy. One memorable scene sees Nigel Morris and the rest of the Islay Pipe band make a pub appearance as the party reaches full swing. It captures the atmosphere of an island in full on ceilidh mode beautifully. Recently announced as the official theme song for World Whisky Day 2017, ‘The Whisky Song’ will surely be providing the musical accompaniment to many an island gathering this summer.
Please check out the bands website here for more details.
You can also love the Coaltown Daisies on Facebook or catch up with their tweeted words of wisdom here.
Music, Art and Heritage Meet on Canna
It’s unlikely that you would find yourself just passing the pier waiting room on the Hebridean island of Canna. However a new multi-media installation celebrating the Canna Sound Archive Collection deserves to see it added as a destination for many an island hopper this year. A collaboration between musician Yvonne Lyon, artist Anne McKay, archivist Fiona Mackenzie and the islanders it should prove more than worth the ferry trip from Mallaig.
As a taster check out the video for ‘Centre of my World.’ Inspired by a comment from the late Margaret Faye Shaw, its evocative sense of time and place is truly heart-warming, Yvonne Lyon’s warm voice providing an effective bridge between the old and new. It will have you browsing the ferry timetables hoping to experience more.
For more details of an outstanding project click here.
Orkney Folk Festival 2017
Sticking with the island theme it’s not long now until the Orkney Folk Festival commences. With events planned at a multitude of venues around the islands it’s the perfect excuse to visit one of the friendliest places on the planet. Running from the 25th to the 28th of May it boasts a strong and diverse line up including Eddi Reader, Elephant Sessions, Kris Drever and Iona Fyffe amongst others.
For ticket availability etc visit the festival website.