Siobhan Miller @The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen 30/06/2017

We reviewed Siobhan Millers latest album ‘Strata’ back in March so it was great to be able to catch her live at the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen as part of the Silver City Stramash festival. Drawing mainly on songs from ‘Strata’ Miller and her rather excellent band thoroughly entertained the full house from start to finish. Kicking off with, ‘Banks of Newfoundland,’ the singers captivating voice filling the venue beautifully. An early highlight was a wonderful version of ‘Green Grow the Rashes’ with Miller proving that Burns is not just for January.

After a short break Miller returned to the stage to deliver a rousing version of Ed Pickford’s ‘Pound a Week Rise.’  Delivered with passion and integrity it was one of the standout moments of the evening. ‘Aged and Mellow’ saw Miller in playful mood, the sultry tongue in cheek style raising many a smile throughout the room. Dylan cover ‘One too Many Mornings’ was a joy and proof that choosing it as the lead single from the album was a wise choice. Miller closed proceedings with ‘TheRamblin’ Rover’, a suitably upbeat end to what had been a very satisfying set.

You can read The Barley Boat’s review of Siobhan Millers latest album ‘Strata’ here.

For more info visit www.siobhanmiller.com

 

 

 

 

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  The disingenuous dog whistle spreading of prejudice has now been replaced by giant billboard posters and shouty mainstream media headlines as the hard right become increasingly emboldened in the post-Brexit world.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

The Glass Factory -The New Album from Frantic Chant

 

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.

 

Pocketful of Sand – The brand new video from Kathy Muir

 

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 deliver a satisfying debut.

 

 

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.

Antidote by Amy Duncan, An album for our times.

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.