Category Archives: Music

Betty and the Bass – Monk’s Blood

Last year’s EP from Betty and the Bass,  Bad Magic Tricks Part 1,  was one of my favourite releases of the year. So it was a real pleasure to catch them live at the Leith Festival at the start of June. It may have been a short appearance but there were plenty of highlights as this talented trio served up a tasty wee set. Singer Lyndsey Craig exuded bags of attitude as she fronted the band with effortless cool whilst the interplay between bassist and drummer demonstrated just how tight a gang this group are.

A hefty swig by the singer from a bottle of a well-known tonic wine served as an introduction to new track Monk’s Blood. Released on video at the start of May it’s another piece of indie magic from the band. A gentle start soon gives way to a livelier ska infused vibe as the track progresses towards a riotous conclusion. The accompanying video of the band goofing around in various places in Leith only adds to the fun. It comes at a surprise to see that the track runs for nearly five minutes as it really flies by.

Check out the video and add it to your summer playlist now, you won’t regret it.

Follow Betty and the Bass on Twitter here. 

And on Facebook here. 

Catch the video on YouTube below.

 

Me for Queen – Loose End

Released on the 1st of June, Loose End is the new single from Me for Queen. The title track from an album due later in the year, Loose End deserves to be a part of everyone’s summer soundtrack.

Me for Queen is the alter ego of Mary Erskine.  Raised in Fife with a blues guitarist Father and herself classically trained it’s perhaps no surprise that her music can’t easily be slotted in to any musical pigeon hole.

Loose End dispenses with an intro, the vocal kicking in straight away, the warm soulful folky vibe proving to be utterly captivating from start to finish. There are several neat changes of pace here and the chorus is an absolute delight.   If this song is a sign of things to come then the album is going to be an absolute belter.

Click here to listen to and BUY Loose End by Me for Queen

Follow Me for Queen on Twitter.

Get more info on Me for Queen from Facebook. 

Little Love and the Friendly Vibes at Leith Festival

The sun was shining down on Leith festival as Little Love and the Friendly Vibes prepared to deliver their set. Looking like they had just rolled out of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine their laid back demeanour disappeared as soon the opening chords of first song Fictional Girls rang out. It looked like co-vocalist Leonara Winstanley had been plugged in to the mains along with the amps as she was instantly transformed in to a vigorous ball of energy.

Sounding like a cross between the Buzzcocks and The B52’s,  their enthusiasm was impossible to resist from the start. High Maintenance, a song from their album ‘The Same…..Only Worse’ proved to be even better than the rather excellent studio version. . Heads Down, Thumbs Up saw Leonara make one of many forays in to the crowd, the stage proving too small to contain her remarkable energy. The bands certainly weren’t taking themselves too seriously. Guitarist and lead vocalist Euan Weddel’s occasional guitar hero antics in front of the stage were tremendous fun to watch, one of many things about the groups’ performance that left all those watching smiling broadly.

New single Italian Leather Jacket was possibly the high point of their afternoon as the band really got in to their groove. Things were brought to an all too early finish with a storming version of Banter Enhancer. They are appearing at Edinburgh’s Canal festival on the 16th June. Get yourself there if you can, you are guaranteed to have a good time.

Find out more at Little Love and the Friendly Vibes Facebook page.

And why not follow them on Twitter?

 

 

One to catch this month……Voicex

If you only go to one gig this month then do yourself a huge favour and catch Voicex making their live debut at the Voodoo rooms in Edinburgh on the 18th of May.   Made up of former members of The Scars and Boots for Dancing we are talking Scottish post punk royalty at work here.  Add performance poet and Fistymuffs member Suky Goodfellow on voice and things become a bit more than simply interesting

On songs such as The Immortals and Never the band deliver a rich sonic canvas for Goodfellow to paint over with her distinctive strong, direct vocal delivery. The results are powerful, passionate and at times slightly unhinged. In other words the noise they make is simply irresistible.

Support comes from The Ferramoans and The Fakes. And all for only £7.  Bargain.

You can buy tickets by clicking here.

Voicex are on Twitter and Facebook.

Checkout the video for Never below.

Errant Boy – We Like You

‘We Like You’ is the latest track from Edinburgh’s Errant Boy. Released today it’s a neatly served slice of jangly indie pop. The jaunty guitar and drums drive things along nicely from start to finish.  Yet again Errant Boy’s lyrics invite you to see the world from their somewhat crooked viewpoint, the distinctive vocal delivery casting dark shadows under the light of the backing track.

Be warned, this track is a serious grower, one more play will not be enough.  With an album due later in the year ’We Like You’ is a more than decent appetiser which will leave you wanting to hear much more.

Checkout Errant Boy’s Facebook page for more info.

 

 

L-Space – Suneaters

It’s hard to believe that L-Space were only formed in the latter part of 2016 given the total self-assurance they bring to  what they are doing. Previous tracks from the dream pop band have seen them conjure up a remarkably vivid alternative sonic universe, a place made more attractive by the realisation that weirdness is never too far away.

Now signed to the wonderfully named ‘Last Night From Glasgow’ label their new single ‘Suneaters’ sees the band continue to take large strides forward. The slow burning start provides space for Lily Higham’s alluring otherworldly vocal to hook you in to the bands vision of a better future, a world where the big energy companies have been consigned to history as we harness the pure clean energy of the sun.

What really impresses here is how the track builds perfectly, layers are added seamlessly before the track reaches a wonderful guitar driven climax which should have you punching the air with delight. With an album release planned for later in the year, 2018 could prove to be a big year for L-Space and on the evidence so far, they deserve all the plaudits that are sure to be headed their way.

Check out the bands website for more info.

Watch the  video for Suneaters below.

Gentlemen Jackals – The Open Door Within Your Mind

‘The Open Door Within Your Mind’, the debut EP from Fife band Gentlemen Jackals, is a wonderfully infectious collection of songs. Imagine classic rock with added Indie swagger, seasoned with hints of seventies metal, all underpinned by a captivating rhythmic groove and you will have some idea of what this band sounds like. Their influences may be retro but the five songs here sound fresh and unique.

Opening track ‘Heathens + Broken Hymns’ is a real attention grabber.  There’s no way you can stay still while listening to this slice of superior power pop. This band’s rhythm section are incredibly tight, the strong foundations allowing everything else to flow easily.

‘Preachers Son’ is a driving rocker. Its snappy intro sets the scene nicely for some crashing guitar work and a real singalong vocal.  The fast and furious finale is guaranteed to leave you breathless. Things are slowed down slightly on ‘Out of Reach’, a more jangly indie sound than what has come before. It’s a neat change of pace and further demonstration of this bands awareness of what it takes to keep the listener interested.

‘Wisdom to the Wise’ is another confident indie rocker with several twists and turns packed in to its three minute running time. Things are brought to an end with ‘Waiting for the Day’, a track that begins with echoes of Simple Minds at their best before the band morph in to their own singular sound. It’s a strong finish to what is a solid, bright collection of songs.  There is much promise on show here. On the evidence of this EP it’s odds on that Gentlemen Jackals will continue to deliver.  You can help them to do that by purchasing this EP.

Gentlemen Jackals are Mark Wilson on Guitar and Vocals, Craig McMahon on Lead Guitar,  Scott Thomson on Bass and Backing Vocals and Douglas Harden on Drums.

Find out more by following them on Facebook.

Or catch up with them on Twitter.

Yvonne Lyon – Metanoia

I have to admit that February has taken me by surprise. January has passed so quickly, driven along by the usual contradictory post festive season mix of happiness, melancholy, confidence, self-doubt, gloom and optimism.

Thankfully the current Scottish music scene can only encourage the latter feeling of optimism as musicians of all genres continue to contribute to what feels like something of a cultural high point.  There has been a lot of new music delivered already this year but I make no apologies for breaking my silence in 2018 by taking a look at Yvonne Lyon’s latest work, Metanoia which was released in November of last year. It is an album that I have returned to repeatedly over the past month and it proved to be the perfect antidote to the January blues.

 The album’s title, Metanoia, comes from a Greek word which refers to the process of changing your outlook after a spiritual experience or period of reflection. With its mixture of new songs and older songs revisited Lyon has delivered a coherent collection which provides plenty of surprises as it runs its course.

Opening track ‘Where the Poor Find Gold’ certainly grabs attention with its driving country-folk rhythm. It’s a strong start so it is good to say that what follows is even better. There are moments of reflection on tracks such as ‘Someday.’  The synths and beats of ‘Hope’ provide the perfect backdrop for Lyon’s dreamy vocal and is one of many highlights.  There is real defiance here too on ‘Sweetest Freedom’, a anthem for those who believe the good guys will eventually win, no matter what is thrown at them.

There is a strong case for saying that Yvonne Lyon saved the best for last when listening to closing track ‘Gigha.’  Situated just off the coast of Kintyre, Gigha is one of Scotland’s smaller inhabited Islands.  It’s a place I have been lucky enough to observe many times during the ferry crossing to Islay from Kennacraig.  Its familiar shoreline takes on many different guises depending on the weather, the state of the sea or the season.  Yet  with only piano, fiddle and that remarkable voice Yvonne Lyon manages to conjure up a wonderfully atmospheric picture of just what makes ‘Gods Island’ so special.

 Metanoia is one of those rare albums that rewards repeat listening with something new every time. You really can’t ask for more than that can you?

Learn more by visiting yvonnelyonmusic.com

 

This is Not Another Best of List.

It’s only natural to take a look back over the past twelve months at this time of year so it is gratifying to be able to reflect on what has been a golden year for new Scottish music. Whether it is established artists releasing fresh material or new talent introducing themselves  the Scottish music scene really is in a rude state of health across all genres.

 With ‘Best of 2017’ lists coming out on a daily basis I was briefly tempted to produce my own but given that my favourite album or track of the year changes on a daily basis it would be a pointless task.

So instead here’s a wee look back at some of the music that caught my attention during the past year. If it leads to memories being jogged or curiosity being stirred enough to seek out and buy the music mentioned then so much the better,

The release of Spinning Coins single, ‘Raining on Hope Street’ provided some real cheer during a gloomy February.  They ended this year on a high as well with the release of their debut album ‘Permo’, delivering on the promise shown. It’s heartening to see yet another Scottish band bringing something fresh, new and distinctive to the table.

Dundee’s own Charlotte Brimner, better known as Be Charlotte continued to impress during 2017.  This is a performer that really has to be seen live.  Despite her tender years she has already gigged extensively, something that is reflected in her strong stage presence.  Smart lyrics and heady pop music delivered in a truly distinctive style should see this artist destined for bigger things.

February also saw the release of folk singer Siobhan Miller’s album ‘Strata.’  A beautifully sung collection of songs that have inspired the singers own musical journey, it was a delight from start to finish. Her cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘One too Many Mornings’ was just one highlight amongst many.

Released on her own Ragged Records imprint at the end of March, Adriana Spina’s ‘Let out the Dark’ was a well-crafted album, full of intelligent grown up lyrics.  Her commentary on the refugee crisis, See Another Day’ was raw and emotional.  Don’t Recognise Me’ was a real cry of love for her childhood and she even managed to fit a Christmas song, ‘Sparkle’ , in to the mix.

The soundtrack for April was enhanced by Wojtek the Bear’s EP ‘Second Nature.’ Their brand of indie-pop is quite simply addictive, one listen was never going to be enough. Pick of the tracks was ‘Trivial Pursuit’ with lead singer Tam Killean looking back at his younger self and bemoaning the mistakes he had made. The band also tackled the dysfunctional relationship that we Scots have with alcohol on ‘Badge of Honour.’  The melodic lightness of touch made sure things never got too dark though.

Amy Duncan’s latest offering, Antidote, was delivered in May.  It’s theme of battling with personal adversity seemed to reflect today’s uncertain world. Antidote is one of those albums that just has to be listened to from beginning to end as Duncan took the listener on an intense musical journey.  Emotional and atmospheric throughout, it succeeded in leaving the listener with a sense of hope, a more than welcome gift from the singer

Also in May, Kathy Muir, a Scot based in America, released ‘Pocketful of Sand,’ a song based on a childhood memory. The accompanying video was the result of a collaboration across social media with the Korean sketch artist Jun (Sean) Sung Hyun. It wasn’t to be the last we would hear from Muir this year with a four track EP 2 + 2 = 4 released by the prolific artist in August.  Word is that she will be returning home to Edinburgh permanently early in the New Year.  Hopefully that will mean a chance to catch her live in her homeland.

Good Morning Easter Road, an EP from Leith based Lou Mclean first saw the light of day in June. Warm, witty, feisty and always entertaining it could only leave the listener wanting more.  Lou Mclean’s storytelling skills are remarkable and they were showcased brilliantly on ‘Green Shirt, Blue Eyes.’  The singer was also wonderfully combative on ‘Poets and Flat Caps.’ It’s fair to say that she doesn’t pull her punches as she homes in on her targets.  Quite simply a superb wee collection of songs.

September saw the much awaited debut album from Caithness band Neon Waltz released and it did not disappoint. Strange Hymns  grabbed the listener right from the off, the ten tracks holding you tight until it was time to start all over again. Its hook laden songs revealed more with each subsequent listen and could only be hailed as a triumph.

L-Space released several tracks during the year with ‘Aloe’, a dark tale of someone becoming a giant metal bird released in early September.  A wonderfully menacing track, L-Space are well on the way to creating their own distinctive musical universe.  Recently signed to innovative Glasgow label, Last Night From Glasgow, an album is due next year. From what we have heard so far it’s certainly one to look forward to.

Also in September, Errant Boy gave us their latest skewed take on the world with a taster from a forthcoming album, ‘Means.’  It was three minutes of disorientating madness with a truly unique chorus. Hopefully we don’t have to travel too far in to 2018 before we get to hear the new album.

Findlay Napier released ‘Glasgow’ in September, an evocative tribute to the place he calls home. With its mix of well-chosen covers and image laden original songs Napier more than did justice to the dear green place. The perfect blend of warmth, humour, nostalgia and occasional anger present throughout saw the singer capture the heart and spirit of a great City.

Late October saw Rosie Bans release her superior sophisti-pop album, Identify Yourself.  It’s an outstanding collection of lyrically honest songs with the singer in fine voice throughout, her punchy keyboard style taking her to places you wouldn’t expect. With so many highlights it’s maybe not fair to single one out but on the sitar laden ‘Bloodlines’ you can hear Rosie Bans voice is at its most beautiful.

What’s really remarkable is there is so many more artists I could have mentioned, I really have only scratched the surface here. First Tiger may have released Dedicated in late 2016 but it was one of my most listened to albums of 2017.  Declan Welsh served up a brilliantly furious slice of agitpop with ‘No Pasaran’, his Socialist heart pinned firmly to his sleeve.   Stephen McLaren proved that the protest song is not dead with his Indy anthem ‘No More (Say Yes.) It’s worth noting that some of the most exciting and innovative music came from artists associated with the traditional scene, Ross Ainslie’s album ‘Sanctuary’ being just one example.

All in all it’s been a good musical year, roll on the next one.

 

John R.

Stephen McLaren – Have a Happy Hardcore Christmas

Stephen McLaren has taken all the traditional components of the Christmas single, mixed them up,  added a huge dollop of humour and reassembled them  to produce his own wonderfully skewed  festive song, ‘Have a Happy Hardcore Christmas.’

The accompanying video has to be seen to be believed.  At around the thirty second mark the drugs had obviously kicked in as my sense of wellbeing was topped off by a jaw breaking grin.  After sixty seconds I was singing along and shaking my imaginary Santa hat vigorously. It was also around then that I remembered I hadn’t actually taken any drugs.

Do yourself a favour, check out the video, download the song and Have a Happy Hardcore Christmas.

Follow Stephen McLaren on Twitter for more info.

Or Facebook.