On her previous six albums Amy Duncan set a consistently high standard. We know to expect glorious vocals, smart lyrics and first-class musicianship. On latest release, The Hidden World, we have all that and more.
The title track kicks things off and it sets the scene perfectly for the song cycle that follows. There is a distinctly dream like feel to the song as it contemplates the way barriers, put up to protect ourselves, end up restricting our horizons. It’s a constant theme throughout the album, the prescience hard to ignore as we contemplate the current lock-down period and beyond.
Next up is Labyrinth. It’s description of tantalising opportunities, briefly glimpsed and rarely grabbed is totally captivating. It is worth noting that Labyrinth is one of three tracks from the album which have had video releases. Created by animator Tracy Foster they provide a wonderful visual accompaniment to Amy Duncan’s voice.
It would be almost unfair to single out one track as a highlight. Medusa, A Forest and the haunting Butterfly are all songs that will linger long in the mind. The album closer, Make it Good provides a fittingly hopeful finale to what is a decidedly uplifting and beautiful album.
The Hidden World is an album to be listened to from start to finish. There really is no filler here, the synergy of this collection testament to the care that has been taken putting the songs together.
Find out more by visiting amyduncan.co.uk
The Hidden World is available don Bandcamp
You can also find Amy Duncan on Twitter and Facebook
Released yesterday on Lost Map records, Floating / Bumblebee is the new double A side single from Good Dog, the alter ego of Pictish Trail band member Susan Bear.
If this lock-down period has you yearning for something different to lift the mood then forget the wine sozzled purchases from Amazon and treat yourself to these two slices of delightful Indie Pop.
Floating has it all, glorious vocals and a musical backdrop which rewards you more with every listen. The instrumental Bumblebee more than lives up to its double A side status as it takes you on a sonic journey you will not want to end.
These tracks serve as a taster to the album Creature, due out on May 22nd. Mark that down in your diary, we should be in for a real treat.
You can buy this Double A side buy on bandcamp HERE
Get the latest from Good Dog on Facebook.
Floating / Bumblebee is available on the usual streaming services.
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.
‘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.
Permo, the debut album from Glasgow five piece band Spinning Coin is an album of contrasts as dreamy indie pop songs alternate with spikier more punk like offerings. It’s an approach that could prove divisive but actually works well here.
Opening track ‘Raining on Hope Street’ appeared as a single back in February. At the time it was described here as an early contender for single of the year and for me, it’s still right up there. Melodic and gentle with a reassuring message, it’s followed by ‘Tin,’ an altogether edgier offering which sets the pattern for the rest of the album.
The twin pronged attack is down to the respective styles of the bands two songwriters, Jack Mellin and Sean Armstrong. Mellin delivers songs that owe more to Seattle than Bellshill whilst Armstrong channels the brighter elements of classic Scottish Indie. Along with Rachel Taylor they also rotate vocal duties. Some of the vocal interplay between Taylor and Mellin in particular carries echoes of the Vaselines at their best.
It would be all too easy to seperate Mellin as the political one from Armstrong as the more personal one but the band manages to blend both these elements in to one coherently positive message. If only our politicians could remember that the real focus of their profession should not be on economics or systems of Government or divisive point scoring but on providing a sense of contentment and acceptance for all. Add that simple message to what are some great tunes and it makes Permo an accomplished debut album. There’s much more to come from Spinning Coin, that’s for sure.
For more info check out Spinning Coin on Facebook.
Or catch up on with them Twitter.
As if waking up and realising that it’s Friday wasn’t enough The Just Joans have only gone and released a new single today, their first for several years.
‘No Longer Young Enough’ is four and a half minutes of indie-pop wonderfulness that is destined to be played on repeat by all who hear it. The sharp punchy intro instantly demands attention, picking the listener up before Katie Pope’s sweet vocal kicks in. With a classic girl group style singalong chorus giving the bittersweet lyrics a saccharine coating it’s a highly infectious offering that doesn’t falter from start to finish. Innocence collides with world weary self awareness and joy meets pathos as everything is neatly underpinned by a healthy dollop of humour.
If this perfectly paced track and the accompanying flip side, ‘Breakfast for our Tea’ are anything to go by then the album due for release later in the year is going to be an absolute belter. Give your ears a treat and head here to purchase what is a triumphant return.
‘No Longer Young Enough’ is also available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc
For more info catch up with the Just Joans on twitter and facebook.
Amongst the acts scheduled to appear at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival next week are Jenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter. With both artists involved in a multitude of other projects their appearance as a duo should be keenly anticipated. It also provides the perfect excuse, if one were needed, to take a closer look at their rather excellent album, ‘Bound.’
Released at the end of 2016, ‘Bound’ from Jenn & Laura-Beth is one of those albums that will sound fresh and new no matter how many times you play it. Having worked together for over eight years as stalwarts of the folk scene you would expect there to be a high level of understanding between the pair. They deliver on that promise and much more. The combination of Jenn Butterworth’s guitar and Laura-Beth Salter’s mandolin playing takes on an almost magical quality. With both musicians’ masters of their instruments, the understanding between them and subtlety of touch creates a remarkable sense of synergy throughout the entire eleven tracks. The same thing is true of the vocals. Whether they are singing individually or harmonising, the results are never less than uplifting.
A mixture of self-penned tunes and cover versions, ‘Bound’ has been recorded as the tracks would be played live. With playing this good there really is no need for any additional studio trickery. Opener ‘Let the Sunshine Down on Me’ should be more than enough to get most listeners hooked. ‘The Braver One’ written by Laura-Beth Salter demonstrates perfectly why no additional instruments were required, Jen Butterworth’s guitar ably carrying out the duties of an entire rhythm section.
The beautiful rendition of Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Wings On my Heel’ is an absolute delight, the unfussy instrumental backing allowing the vocals to shine brightly. Instrumental tracks such as ‘1, 2, 3, 4 / Joseph Salters’ are wonderful wee musical journeys which will leave the listener in no hurry to reach their destination.
An atmospheric cover of Mindy Smith’s ‘Come to Jesus’ closes the album. It’s a gorgeous end to a collection which screams quality from start to finish, a genre crossing joy to spend time with.
You can purchase ‘Bound’ here.
Get the latest from Jenn and Laura-Beth on Twitter
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.
Spinning Coin, a four piece band from Glasgow, released their eponymous EP on FuzzKill records back in 2015. Five tracks of melodic indie pop, it was a more than encouraging debut. Last year’s offering, Albany, released on the Pastels’ Geographic label was further proof that this was going to be a band worth listening to.
Their latest single, Raining on Hope Street may well be the most glorious slice of indie pop you will hear all year. Blending both strength and vulnerability together comfortably in just over two minutes is no mean feat yet Spinning Coin manage it with a subtleness of touch that makes it look easy. It’s a track that not only hooks you in from the intro but also rewards repeat listening as further layers reveal themselves. The vocals here are delicious, the guitars constantly surprising. The synergy present lifts everything to another level.
As so many of us feel the need to take shelter from an increasingly right wing political shit storm any message of hope is welcome. Listening to Raining on Hope Street is like getting a reassuring arm around the shoulder. Really, what more could you ask for?
Raining on Hope Street is available digitally now, physical copies will be available from the 24th of March, pre-order it HERE.
Hugh Kelly’s new single, The Double, was released on the 17th of November. We may have come slightly late to the party here, don’t you make the same mistake. Those of you are familiar with Mr Kelly will know to expect bluesy soulful vocals delivered at high intensity. The added ingredient here is an extra injection of pop sensibility compared to his previously released tracks. However it’s still all about that wonderful warm voice. The backing is fairly minimal but what there is does a good job of helping the song become planted inside your head. There really is no messing about here, an instrumental intro is ditched as the vocal kicks in instantly and we are off on a three minute journey that flows along nicely and will leave you wanting to start it all over again.
Hugh Kelly has been gigging heavily throughout this year. Combine that work ethic with the potential on show here and if there is any justice we will be seeing him going on to bigger things.
The Double can be purchased HERE.
Please take the time to visit Hugh Kelly’s website.