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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  The disingenuous dog whistle spreading of prejudice has now been replaced by giant billboard posters and shouty mainstream media headlines as the hard right become increasingly emboldened in the post-Brexit world.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.

Good Morning Easter Road – The New EP from Lou Mclean.


Good Morning Easter Road is the new EP from Leith based singer songwriter Lou Mclean. It’s a diverse collection,  joyous, occasionally bleak yet always heartfelt and often genuinely moving.

Things kick off with’ Empty Cans.’ Accompanied only by her acoustic guitar it’s a wry commentary on a relationship gone wrong. The narrator won’t be broken though, as the story unfolds a spirited air of defiance replaces failed attempts to soothe the heartache with alcohol. ‘Bedtime Reading’ is a wonderful mix of comedy and shrewd observation. The songs punchline is set up beautifully as the singer shuns ‘piss ups and kissing’ for the joys of literature and cheese toasties.

The mood changes completely on ‘Play Dead’ as a much darker story of an abusive relationship is played out. It makes for uncomfortable listening as self doubt leads to denial.

‘Green Shirt, Blue Eyes’ is a wonderful piece of storytelling. It begins as one of the pacier tracks as the singer acts on her friends advice to head out on the town and get on with life. Things take a magical turn with an encounter in a Leith pub and as we hear the line, ‘then in you rolled, delayed by a last minute goal’ things don’t just slow down, for a split second the action seems to stop. It’s a wonderfully cinematic moment, the scene burned in to the mind like a screenshot. As the song drifts to a dreamy conclusion it should leave even the most cynical heart that little bit warmer.

Final track ‘Poets and Flat Caps’ sees the singer in combative mood and Mclean hits several bullseyes with her acerbic put downs. Impassioned, witty and distinctly uncompromising it would be fair to say that the singer had saved the best for last.

it is always thrilling hearing an artist in the early stages of their musical journey. With ‘Good Morning Easter Road’ Lou Mclean has certainly whetted the appetite for more with more than enough potential shown across these five tracks to suggest a bright future ahead.

The EP is officialy launched at Leith Depot on Thursday 8th June.

Buy, Buy, Buy it HERE.

Follow Lou Mclean on Twitter.

Or catch up with all the latest from Lou Mclean on Facebook.

For The Islands They Sing

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 get the latest from the Coaltown Daisies on Facebook 


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.

Lullaby by Tamzene, the first release from Belladrum Records.

Belladrum Festival has firmly established itself as one of Scotland’s friendliest festivals of the summer. The vibrant mix of strong headliners and up and coming artists appearing against a Highland backdrop makes for one of the more keenly anticipated events on the calendar. Therefore the appearance of new label Belladrum Records, an offshoot of the festival, seem like a natural progression and certainly a more than welcome event. Their first release is the single ‘Lullaby’ from local singer-songwriter Tamzene.

Hailing from Cromarty, her debut offering is a very enjoyable piece of sweet as honey soul pop music. With the sure touch of Joe McAlinden in charge of production the song flows along at just the right pace. The voice and piano intro hooks  you straight in before the deft addition of more layers helps things to peak nicely, everything eventually coming back down to a poignant and satisfying conclusion.

First impressions really do count so it is good to be able to say that this one scores highly. Hopefully we will be hearing a lot more from Tamzene and Belladrum Records.

Lullaby is available on  various digital platforms including itunes.

For more details visit Belladrum records Facebook page.

You can check out the video for Lullaby below, share and spread the word.

Wotjek the Bear – New EP Second Nature

It would be hard not to fall in love with Glasgow four piece Wojtek the Bear after listening to their recently released EP Second Nature. Named after the famous World War 2 soldier bear there is nothing grizzly about this band. Their melodic shimmering sound coupled with some wonderfully perceptive lyrics makes for an instantly addictive indie-pop cocktail.

The opening track ‘Trivial Pursuit’ is the pick of this strong quartet of songs. As lead singer Tam Killean bemoans the mistakes made by his younger self against a jangly musical backdrop many listeners  will recognise the sense of regret that can strike us all as we realise that at some point we really do have to grow up.  Second track, ‘Badge of Honour’ makes some telling points about the peculiar relationship that we Scots have with alcohol. We knows it’s not big and it’s not clever yet when it comes to booze there is barely concealed admiration for the last man standing.  There is a nice lightness of touch about things here though. On ‘Bookcase’ we’re told that the singer’s heart is in the right place, ‘just to the left behind my ribs.’

Second Nature’s mix of witty, often wistful lyrics and mood capturing melodies offers a welcome chance to enjoy the warmth of shared experiences.  It really is too good an offer to refuse.

Second Nature is available now on itunes, Deezer and Spotify.

You can like the band a lot on Facebook.

Follow their twittery updates here.

And watch the rather superb video for Trivial Pursuit below.

Snippets – Lonnie Donegan, Iona Fyfe and Stuart Adamson

Lonnie Donegan
Sixty years ago today Lonnie Donegan was sitting on top of the charts for the first time with his skiffle version of Cumberland Gap. Born Anthony James Donegan in Bridgeton, Glasgow he was to spearhead the do it yourself skiffle movement that was to inspire countless young British groups including the Quarrymen, later to become the Beatles. He adopted his stage name after opening for American bluesman Lonnie Johnson. His first hit came in 1956, an up tempo version of Rock Island Line, an American folk song previously covered by Leadbelly. It was the start of a run of consecutive hit singles that was to see him become the most successful British recording artist prior to the Beatles hitting the scene. In later years he became a producer and also released several novelty records including My Old Man’s A Dustman. Many artists have gone on record to emphasise the influence he had on their nascent careers including members of the Beatles, Roger Daltrey and former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. Lonnie Donegan died in November 2002. His influence on the development of popular music lives on and will continue to resonate for as long as young musicians are starting out with nothing more than a few chords, cheap instruments and a love of what has gone before.

Iona Fyfe
There’s only a few days left to run on Iona Fyfe’s crowdfunding appeal for her debut album. Her interpretations of the traditional ballads of the North East of Scotland have already seen her gather a legion of fans. Scheduled for release early next year it will be one worth looking out for. You can help fund what is sure to be a beautiful album by following the link below.

Link to crowdfunding page.

Stuart Adamson
Stuart Adamson, founder of The Skids and Big Country would have been 59 years old today. It is really hard to believe it is over 15 years since he passed away. One of the most talented guitarists of his generation his truly unique sound will never be forgotten.


Vukovi – A Bright Shining Debut.

It’s been nearly a month now since Vukovi released their self-titled debut album. If you want your rock albums to leave you breathless and gasping for more then Vukovi do not disappoint. There is no gentle introduction, opening track ‘La DI Da’ grabs you by the scruff of the neck and takes you on a ride you won’t want to get off in a hurry. Everything that you would expect to find in a superior pop rock album is here. Crunching guitars, killer riffs, intelligent lyrics, some subtle synth sounds to add a wee bit of spice and topping it all off an idiosyncratic lead singer who quite simply demands your attention. Janine Shilstone is, in turns, belligerent, gentle, aggressive, subtle, occasionally scary and never less than captivating.

The songs are of a consistently high standard with ‘Weirdo’, ‘Prey’, ‘Bouncy Castle’ and the aforementioned ‘La Di Da’ being particular highlights. There is some seriously heavy rock here and it is lifted well above the norm by the bands well-honed pop sensibilities. The blend of infectious melodies and surprising twists and turns delivered with energetic bravura provides something that is never less than good fun. When the world seems dull and grey the best anti-dote is often a dose of quirky rock music in glorious technicolour and that’s just what Vukovi have given us.  Treat yourself by adding it to your collection.

Buy a real life hold in your hand copy of the album here.

Or if  filling your lugs is more than enough buy here.