Vida – Masquerade, a brand new EP from Alloa band Vida.

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Let’s face it, standing out from the crowd is not easy for a new guitar based Indie band. With talent, attitude and graft it’s not impossible though as Alloa band Vida have shown with the release of their new three track EP, Masquerade.

The Nineties influence is obvious here.  They come nowhere near falling in to the trap of mere pastiche though that can trip some new bands up.  There’s a swagger about this band as you would expect but there is also a freshness to their sound as well as darker elements at work making these three tracks a more than satisfying listen. As the singer requests a drugged up milk shake in opener Moloko Vellocet you’re left wondering what the narrator will be doing post song.

When I Call is probably the most accessible track here and the one most likely to have you hooked instantly.  It’s a wonderfully catchy piece, sure to have the crowd singing along when played live. The final track, Masquerade, is one that may need a couple of plays.  It will definitely reward the listener though and is a real sign of much more to come from these guys.  Joining a new band near the start of their journey is always an exciting prospect.  Vida may well be worth hitching a ride with.

The band launch the EP properly at King Tut’s, Glasgow on 5th November. It should be a memorable evening.

Download Masquerade Here.

Watch Video for ‘When I Call’ Here.

 

The Day the Banshees Split in Aberdeen

What a Line-Up

It’s almost inevitable that bands will eventually split up. However it would be hard to top the break-up of Siouxsie and the Banshees for sheer drama as it played out over a crazy day in Aberdeen.

The 7th of September 1979 would have been a momentous day for the band anyway. Their second album, Join Hands, was released that day to positive reviews. The day was to down in the bands history as memorable for rather less positive reasons though. The group, singer Siouxsie Sioux, bassist Steve Severin, guitarist John Mckay and drummer Kenny Morris had embarked on a tour to promote the album. There had already been a simmering tension between Siuoxsie and Severin on one side and Mckay and Morris on the other. It was to all boil over during a somewhat bad tempered record signing session in The Other Record shop on Aberdeen’s Union Street. (This was back in the days when record shops were a familiar sight on the High Street.)

Polydor had only sent a paltry amount of albums to the shop resulting in the bands management selling the shop owner a couple of hundred promo copies  to satisfy demand. Much to the shop owners dismay Mckay and Morris decided to hand out copies for free. Mckay also removed their own album from the shops turntable and replaced it with the Slits album. This lead to verbal and physical exchanges between the various band members and ended with Mckay and Morris storming out of the shop.

With a gig to be played at The Capitol you would expect that peace talks back at the bands hotel would have calmed things down. After all, as the saying goes, the show must go on. It didn’t turn out that way. The rebel pairs backstage passes were found wrapped round their pillows, their room unoccupied.

Apparently they had jumped in a cab and asked to be taken out of town. That turned out to be a few miles down the coast to Stonehaven where they hopped on to a train south, their Banshee careers abandoned in the Granite City.

Opening that night was Edinburgh band The Scars. They were followed onstage by The Cure who were asked to play a longer than usual set as the promoters tried to locate the long gone insurgents. As The Cure left the stage it was obvious that the Banshees could not perform.  An announcement was made over the public address system offering the crowd their money back.. The story could have ended there but Siouxsie Sioux stepped out of the back stage shadows to address the crowd. Her anger was clear as she embarked on a ferocious attack on her  former band mates.

“Two original members of the band are here tonight. Two art college students fucked off out of it. All I can say is we will be back here with some friends who have got some roots. If you’ve got one per cent of the aggression we feel towards them if you ever see them you have my blessings to beat the shit out of them.”

It must have been an electric moment for the crowd. There was more to come. The Cure returned to the stage to play a few more songs before announcing that they had a couple of special guests coming on. To tremendous cheers Siouxsie Sioux and Steve Severin reappeared with Siouxsie again taking to the mic  to condemn the deserters.

“I hope you realise these guys know nothing about the ‘Lord’s Prayer.’ It’ll probably be all the better for that. John and Kenny were doing it for the money and you can’t do a good ‘Lord’s Prayer’ with that attitude. We will be back!”

And that’s how the night ended,  with a rendition of the closing track from their new album. There are lots of things I love about this story. I love that rather than being the end of the band it acted as a catalyst to greater things. Ex Slits drummer Budgie was soon recruited with Robert Smith helping out on guitar on tour dates. The record shop rebellion sounds almost comical now, particularly McKay’s ditching of the Banshees own album for The Slits. It’s hard not to smile at the thought of two musicians jumping in to an Aberdeen taxi and asking to be taken out of town. And I love that despite participating in a part of musical history and witnessing a one off Cure/Banshees supergroup performance the canny Aberdonians still queued up at the end for a refund.

Dundee, The Sex Pistols and the Filth and the Fury.

The Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols

 

On the 12th of October 1976 the Sex Pistols played their only Scottish gig in Dundee as a young punk band intent on shaking up the establishment. They were to return to Scotland during the 1996 Filthy Lucre tour but it could be argued that by then they had effectively become their own tribute band. Their connection with Dundee is also notable however for two dates that they didn’t play in the city later in 1976.

It’s only too easy to believe that it’s forty years since Punk music started to move out of its London strongholds to take over the whole country given how much the social and cultural landscape has changed. In 1976 Dixon of Dock Green with its homespun wisdom had only just ended its long run. The Black and White Minstrel Show was seen as acceptable wholesome family fun and the F word had only been heard twice on National TV, both times on obscure late night arts programmes.

The Sex Pistols played at the Dundee College of Technology’s Union, more commonly known as the Bowling Alley by the locals. The band, still including original bass player and songwriter Glenn Matlock played that night to a mixed crowd. You might imagine a hall full of punks but outside of London the punk scene was very small. Most provincial crowds had  a majority of  curious long haired music fans, perfect for the young John Lydon to noise up.

On the 8th of October EMI had signed the Pistols and their first single, Anarchy in the UK was released on the 26th of November. Malcolm McLaren had put together a punk rock package tour to promote the record during which it was planned to play a second gig in Dundee, this time at the Caird Hall. The tour proved to be somewhat shambolic, a TV appearance on a tea time television show sparking a wave of outrage that was to see many of the gigs cancelled. The Dundee date was to be one of them but rather curiously we seem to have two dates for the gig that never was.

On the 1st of December the Sex Pistols appeared on Thames Television’s Today programme, a tea time show hosted by Bill Grundy. By the end of the live broadcast the use of the word fuck on national TV had doubled. The fallout from the show was to effectively end Grundy’s career and punk rock and the Sex Pistol’s in particular were to be on the receiving end of a media and political backlash. During the show Grundy had goaded both the band and their followers, the Bromley Contingent including Siuoxsie Sioux into bad language. It was an invitation they weren’t going to turn down. Despite the fact it was a show only being seen in London it caused outrage nationwide. The Daily Mirror couldn’t resist stoking the fire and their Filth and Fury headline has gone down in punk folklore.

Daily Mirror Outrage
Daily Mirror Outrage

The story in Dundee goes that the band were due to play at the Caird Hall that same night and that they had cancelled the gig in order to appear on TV. There are easily obtained facsimile posters for sale that seem to confirm that this was indeed the case.   Evidence elsewhere suggests otherwise though.

The New Musical Express had published the tour dates for the Anarchy in the UK tour on the 27th of November and it showed the Dundee gig as being due on the 16th of December. The Pistols had been rehearsing for these dates when the last minute call to replace label mates Queen, who had to cancel due to illness, on the Tonight Show came. The Anarchy Tour was originally to have seen the Ramones accompany the Sex Pistols as they travelled the UK but the American bands management pulled them out due to what they saw as rushed planning by Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren. It’s possible that the gig organisers had been giving a provisional date leading to the famous 1st of December Dundee posters being printed. The actual line up for the tour ended up as The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash and the Heartbreakers from the States.

As it was no further gig was to take place in Dundee. The high heid yins on the City Council decided that Punk should be effectively banned. It was a situation repeated all over the UK. At least though the former patrons of Dundee’s Bowling Alley have the satisfaction of knowing that the band did take to the stage there once giving them a small place in the history of a band that will continue to be talked about for decades to come.

Kat Healy. Wolf, A Five Track, Five Star Gem.

wolf

Wolf, a five track EP by Edinburgh singer-songwriter Kat Healy was released back in July. On Friday the title track was released as a single, hopefully giving a gentle nudge to those yet to discover this audio gem.

Following the death of her father in 2015 Kat sought solace in the beautiful Schwarzwald region of Germany, a place she had visited with her parents as a child. During what must have been an emotionally raw period the five songs that constitute Wolf were crafted. They were then recorded live over only two days after she returned to Scotland.

Given the background to the recording of Wolf you would be forgiven for expecting a consistently downbeat collection of songs. Yes, there is grief and melancholy here but the overall message is one of hope and belief in the resilience of the human spirit.

Healy’s delicate, vulnerable voice deftly translates the emotion expressed in her lyrics into sounds that can sometimes break your heart and often lift your spirits whilst cleansing your soul of cynicism towards a sometimes cruel world. Opening track Be Still Gentle and Kind will have you instantly captivated. Trust me, you will find it hard to tear yourself away until the final notes of closing track Highland Fairy Lullaby have faded away. The sparse piano and cello backing provide the perfect accompaniment to Kat’s remarkable voice proving that sometimes less is more. Pianist Thilo Pfander and cellist Graham Coe have to be commended for ensuring that Wolf is a totally satisfying experience for the listener.

I’ll steal shamelessly from her lyrics in Be Still Gentle and Kind here by saying that Kat Healy is a flower you can’t ignore. She will be playing several gigs over the coming weeks to promote Wolf. I’d urge anybody who can to get along and see her live.

John Robertson 03/10/2016

http://kathealymusic.com/

https://twitter.com/kathealymusic

 

 

TeenCanteen, Pure pop delight with a Scottish accent.

teen-album

Say it all With a Kiss – Teen Canteen

Since their formation in 2012, Glasgow band TeenCanteen have been steadily growing their fan base with their addictive form of sweet infectious Indie pop. Their diminutive front woman, Carla Easton has said previously that they didn’t want to release an album too soon in their career. With this sparkling debut they have proved that the wait was worthwhile .

Right from the off we are introduced to the bands trademark blend of synths and harmony vocals. We are in familiar girl group territory here but Carla and co frequently take us off in new directions. The opening tracks, including Sisters, Kung Fu Heartbeat and Roses are pure pop gems. However it is the four song sequence that follows that will have the listener playing this album in its entirety for weeks on end. Friends, Honey, How We Met (Cherry Pie) and Dancing see the band deploy every weapon at their disposal in a charm offensive guaranteed to win over the most cynical amongst us,  all delivered in a distinctive Scottish accent.  Gorgeous harmonies, memorable tunes and inventive lyrics grab your attention and refuse to let go.

The band are described on their own website as providing sticky cherry cola-kissed three part harmonies. In the wrong hands that could prove to be a sickly recipe. When a band are as sure footed as this over indulgence was never going to be an issue.

Rocking the Boat…Great Scottish Albums – Bandwagonesque by Teenage Fanclub

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There were more than a few decent albums released in 1991. Out of Time by REM, Trompe le Monde from the Pixies, Achtung Baby from a re-invented U2 and the behemoth that was Nirvana’s Nevermind all made their first appearance in that year. It was going to take something special for any album to hold their own amongst such strong competition. With the entry in to the fray in November 1991 of Bandwagonesque, Teenage Fanclub more than made their mark.

Every great album has a great opening track, The Concept sets us up perfectly for what is to come. From its opening couplet about a denim clad girl planning to buy some Status Quo records until the end of its fabulous extended guitar coda we are treated to over six minutes of pure power pop bliss. Second track, Satan, is a tease. Eighty two seconds of shambolic guitar thrashing seems to say, this is what we could do, now listen to what we are going to deliver. What follows is track after track of utter aural delight. The combination of great melody, delicious vocals, and snappy lyrics is irresistible. Even twenty five years on it still has the listener smiling frequently. Sometimes it’s knowingly as a familiar emotion is exposed. More often though it’s just a joyous reaction to the sheer audacious dumb fun of it all.

Tracks like ‘What you do to me’ perfectly brings to life the sheer wonder of falling in love. It’s done simply with a great tune, superb vocals and a lyric that barely lasts four lines. On Metal Baby the love-struck singer tells us ‘’I’m not the sort of person she’ll admit she knows, She’s not the sort of person as driven white as snow.’’ In two lines he hasn’t just introduced the characters, he has evoked memories of every high school movie you have ever seen. There is no happy ending for this mismatched pair though as our indie geek hero sees his metal head girl leave town with the band.

There may be some imperfections here. Sidewinder doesn’t quite meet the standards of classic tracks like Alcoholiday but it only serves to highlight just how high the band were setting the bar. It’s certainly not a groundbreaking album. Its influences are all too obvious here with The Beach Boys and The Byrds humming away in the background as Big Star dominates the foreground. However If the major requirement of a great album is to be packed with great songs, Bandwagonesque is up there with the best that a Scottish band has given us. Its reaches its 25th anniversary in November, the perfect excuse to give it another listen. Do it soon, you won’t be disappointed.