All posts by John Robertson

Spinning Coin – Permo

Permo, the debut album from Glasgow five piece band Spinning Coin is an album of contrasts as dreamy indie pop songs alternate with spikier more punk like offerings.  It’s an approach that could prove divisive but actually works well here.

Opening track ‘Raining on Hope Street’ appeared as a single back in February.  At the time it was described here as an early contender for single of the year and for me, it’s still right up there.  Melodic and gentle with a reassuring message, it’s followed by ‘Tin,’ an altogether edgier offering which sets the pattern for the rest of the album.

The twin pronged attack is down to the respective styles of the bands two songwriters, Jack Mellin and Sean Armstrong.  Mellin delivers songs that owe more to Seattle than Bellshill whilst Armstrong channels the brighter elements of classic Scottish Indie. Along with Rachel Taylor they also rotate vocal duties. Some of the vocal interplay between Taylor and Mellin in particular carries echoes of the Vaselines at their best.

It would be all too easy to seperate  Mellin as the political one from Armstrong as the more personal one but the band manages to blend both these elements in to one coherently positive message.   If only our politicians could remember that the real focus of their profession should not be on economics or systems of Government or divisive point scoring but on providing a sense of contentment and acceptance for all.  Add that simple message to what are some great tunes and it makes Permo an accomplished debut album.  There’s much more to come from Spinning Coin, that’s for sure.

For more info check out Spinning Coin on Facebook.

Or catch up on with them Twitter.

 

Rosie Bans -Identify Yourself.

If you don’t follow Rosie Bans yet via her social media outlets then you have been missing out.  Follow her on twitter and you are treated to a mixture of informative and sometimes random wee gems, often accompanied by some of the wittiest use of swear words you will ever read.

Her numerous Facebook live gigs quickly become addictive viewing. Ban’s stream of consciousness introductions often last longer than the songs themselves yet they are never less than endearing, frequently very funny, but above all honest.

And it’s her absolute honesty that makes her debut album ‘Identify Yourself’ stand out from the crowd. Delivered over a superior sophisti-pop background  her lyrics are sharp, witty and totally uncompromising.

Rosie Bans demonstrates perfectly that music doesn’t have to be aggressive to be packed full of attitude.  Listen to ‘No Apologies’ and be glad you are not the target of her ire. On ‘I Won’t Fade into the Shade’ she is at her most pugnacious during the quieter passages making her message even more powerful.

What can’t be underestimated as you listen to the eleven tracks here is the power of her voice. She seems to use her punchy keyboard playing to drive herself to sometimes unexpected areas without anything ever feeling forced or over wrought.

There are several twists and turns as you move through the tracks. The sitar laden ‘Bloodlines’ is one of several highlights, the beauty of Ban’s vocals shining brightly.  Album closer ‘Doing it for the Love’ sees Rosie Bans deliver her personal musical manifesto and there really can be no doubting that she is motivated by the love of her craft.  It all comes back to that word, honesty.

‘Identify Yourself’ is a wonderful collection of songs, you should check it out as soon as you can.

For more info visit rosiebans.com

And you really should follow her on Twitter.

And don’t forget Facebook.

 

Catching up with Motion.

Motion released their self-titled EP back in August.  With so much great music of all genres coming out of Scotland just now you may well have missed it. No matter, now is as good a time as ever to catch up with the Edinburgh three piece.

Motion are Paul Band on vocals and guitar, Lee Shand on bass and Robbie Thomson on drums. Their tripped out indie rock is heavily influenced by the classic sounds of Manchester.  When following in the footsteps of giants such as New Order and The Stone Roses it can be hard for a band to get their own distinct musical message across.  Thankfully Motion manage to chuck enough of their own personality in to the mix to make things interesting.

Out of the four tracks ‘Myths’ is probably the highlight, justifying the decision to open with it.  However there’s more than enough going on in the other three tracks to hold your attention. ‘Into the Lense’ sees Paul Band delivering some wonderfully cynical lyrics.

 ‘Who’ slows things down slightly , the repetitive opening riff giving way to a psyched out groove and an echo laden vocal which carries the listener along easily.  ‘Everything’ feels slightly heavier than the preceding three tracks as it brings things to a close.  It’s going to be interesting to see if this band can deliver on their ample potential

Next up for Motion is a gig supporting Noah Noah at Edinburgh’s Mash House on the 24th of November, a date well worth adding to your diary.

For more details visit www.facebook.com/motionmusicHQ

Motion are also on Twitter.

 

Findlay Napier’s Latest Release – Glasgow

Findlay Napier moved from his childhood home of Grantown-on Spey to the city of his birth, twenty years ago.  His latest release, Glasgow, pays tribute to the place which has become home.  With its mix of finely crafted originals and astutely chosen cover songs Napier has managed to capture the timeless essence of one of the world’s great Cities.

The opening track, ‘Young Goths in the Necropolis’ is the perfect introduction to Napier’s slightly skewed storytelling style. Opening with an affectionate nod towards the ‘weirdo’s’ who hang about Glasgow’s own city of the dead, the vivid imagery will stay with you long after the song has ended.

It’s a strong start and what follows does not disappoint. Whether it is tales of the homeless (Wire Burners) or poignant stories of days gone by at the dancing (The Locarno, Sauchiehall Street 1928), Glasgow repeatedly hits the mark.  On ‘There’s More to Building Ships’ Napier reminds us of the human cost behind the romantic images of long gone ships being launched on to the Clyde.  The singers carefully controlled anger makes it all the more powerful.

No album about Glasgow would be complete without a healthy dose of humour and Napier’s cover of Michael Marra’s ‘King Kong’s Visit to Glasgow’ provides plenty. The final track, ‘Blue Lagoon’ is a love song set in the city centre chippy of that name. If you are going to fall in love in Glasgow I really couldn’t think of a more perfect place.

Glasgow is available to buy here and at all the usual outlets.

For more info visit www.findlaynapier.com

Adam Holmes and The Embers – Midnight Milk

Midnight Milk, the third album from Adam Holmes and the Embers, sees the Edinburgh based musician draw on ingredients from around the globe to deliver some wonderfully blended soul infused tunes. There’s no shortage of sunshine throughout this album, whether it comes via the calypso styled ‘No Man is an Island’ or the ska inflected rhythms of ‘Big Blue Sun.’

Opening track ‘When Will I be Free’ starts things of in an unexpected manner with hip hop style scratches and a spoken word vocal. The choir sung chorus provides the necessary balance, setting the scene for what follows.

On ‘Don’t Worry’ an Afro beat  backing proves the perfect accompaniment to the comforting lyrics.  As Adam Holmes sings ‘everything will be OK’ you know it will be as his mellow voice flows from the speakers and wraps you in the warmest of embraces.

There is a constant theme of reassurance throughout Midnight Milk, a welcome reminder that there is plenty to be grateful for in this world.   The instrumental ‘5 Years’ provides a moment of quiet contemplation as its piano based melody unfolds, slowing things down nicely before the final two tracks.

‘Whatever You Do’ is doused with melancholy yet still offers solace in the face of life’s challenges.  The final track ‘Can You Feel the Fire Inside’ is one of the highlights, its spiritual feel providing the natural conclusion to what has come before.

Midnight Milk is a long lazy river of an album.  The warm undercurrents pull you along gently, inducing  what can only be  described as a strong sense of contentment and hope.  It’s a beautiful collection of songs that deserves all the accolades that will surely come its way.

For more info visit adamholmesandtheembers.com

Adam Holmes is on Facebook and Twitter. 

It’s All About That Betty and the Bass

Released on the 15th of September, Bad Magic Tricks Pt 1 is the new EP from Edinburgh trio Betty and the Bass. On their social media pages they describe their sound as country grunge sweetness. That works well as an intro. In order to get the full story though you have to listen to them as they demonstrate themselves to be smarter than the average indie band.

Opening track ‘Another Life’ sees the band get very quickly in to a driving groove which serves as the perfect accompaniment to Lyndsey Craig’s remarkable vocals. You can try and singalong but you are never too sure which direction she is going to head off in. The slower paced ‘EGD’ cements the impression that this band are a force to be reckoned with.  However it is on ‘Bruised Lit a Peach’ that the band shine the brightest.  Inventive and compelling throughout, it’s one of the most satisfying indie-rock tracks of the year.

*Spoiler Alert.* Things are brought to a conclusion with a somewhat demented ‘hidden’ track. I listened to it whilst in a state of confusion caused by severe sleep deprivation and it all made perfect sense. I’m not sure if I should be worried about that or not.

With Bad Magic Tricks Pt 1, Betty and the Bass have certainly served notice that they are one to watch and a band you really should make the effort to catch  live at the earliest opportunity.

Betty and the Bass are on Twitter and Facebook.

Buy Bad Magic Tricks Part 1 here.

Also available to listen to on Spotify.

 

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.