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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.