New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

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It’s been a hell of a year for Scottish music so far, with many, many great albums (from the likes of Zoe Bestel, Roberts/Skuse/McGuinness, Modern Studies, The Scottish Enlightenment, Kathryn Joseph, L-Space, The Gracious Losers, Carla J. Easton, Starry Skies, & I could go on) and with the promise of more on the way. There’s also been a fantastic SAY Awards, all of the incarnations of Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop (exhibition, book, radio, TV and podcast), and then there’s the recent announcement of the nominees for the SAMA Awards, which again show the depth and breadth of talent around.

Add to that some amazing live gigs and we can only reach the conclusion that we are in something of a Golden Age. The music you’re about to hear only makes that argument stronger. It’s a mixture of the new to SWH! and the welcome return of old favourites, just as it should be. There is diversity, style and craft on show – and an unshakeable sense that for most of them they are only just getting started. This is the story…

We’re going to open with Hairband. If they are not the best live band in Scotland at the moment, then they are so close as to require a photo finish. With their self-titled debut EP out on Monorail Records they prove that their inimitable sound works just as well recorded. It is a sublime record – funky indie-pop which is tight yet loose, and harmonious in every sense of the word. This is clearly a band having the time of their lives playing together. Put simply, Hairband make the world a better place to be, and don’t we all need that right now? From Hairband, this is ‘Flying’:

Every so often a record arrives which takes your breath away, and that was the case with Vive La Rose‘s album For She Who Hangs The Moonso much so that I got in touch with David Luximon-Herbert (for it is he) to arrange to record a podcast as I want to discuss this beautiful music that he has made. If something can be said to be an instant classic then For She Who Hangs The Moon is exactly that.

Soulful, bittersweet, fragile, yet with a power that is undeniable – it’s similar in tone to the music of Blue Rose Code, Boo Hewerdine, and even Martin Stephenson (with or without the Daintees). As I said at the top of the page, this has been an incredible year for Scottish music, and albums in particular, but this may just be the best of the bunch. From For She Who Hangs The Moon this is ‘Schiehallion’, but believe me – it is only a small, if perfectly formed, part of the bigger story:

There are few people’s musical opinions who I respect more than Podcart’s Halina Rafai, so when she suggested I listen to OK Button‘s debut single ‘The Message’ there was no fear at all that it was going to be anything other than excellent. It’s ethereal electropop with a sting in the tale, and reminds me of some of my favourite records of the ’90s and ’00s. There’s some Morcheeba, a little Zero 7, early Goldfrapp, & Nightmares on Wax, but it’s fresh as an April morning. One listen will not be enough, trust me. I’m well into double figures, and it’s not going to stop there.

Sometimes you hear one song from a band and you just know that we are in for something very special indeed. In recent times that has happened with SWH! favourites L-Space and Half Formed Things, and was proved right with both. I feel exactly the same way about ‘The Message’ and OK Button. But listen for yourself and you’ll see I’m no’ havering:

Next up are Pelts and their double A-Side single ‘Who Could Love Me Now?/Another Place’, two great tracks which show that this is a band who understand exactly who they are, and what they do. And they do it so well. There’s the classic Glasgow indie dream pop of Camera Obscura, The Pastels, The Gentle Waves, but also wider influences such as Trembling Blue Stars, Tallulah Gosh and Mojave 3. Look at those names – I don’t use them lightly, but it proves that Pelts are doing something very special indeed. This is ‘Who Could Love Me Now?’, but please go and listen to ‘Another Place’ as well. Don’t miss out:

Returning to these pages after too long away, Gary Stewart is back with a new album Oh My Weary WorldAs he proved previously with Mr​.​Gary Stewart & The Tin Foil Collective he is one of the finest singer-songwriters around, with a classic style reminiscent of Paul Simon, James Taylor, Neil Young, Jackson Browne – only the very best.

The title track, ‘Oh My Weary World’ is out now, and it gives you a taste of the rest of the record which is just packed with great songs, each one as good as the next. For those of you as yet unfamiliar with Gary Stewart’s work, this could just be the start of a beautiful relationship. This is ‘Oh My Weary World’:

One of the best gigs of last month was one of Last Night From Glasgow’s now legendary evenings. They put on three of their acts at Glasgow’s Old Hairdressers as part of the ‘3 Bands Tour‘ to promote single releases from the aforementioned L-Space, the equally fabulous Cloth, and in between the two were Domiciles, one of the latest LNFG signings (although it’s not easy to keep up with that situation at the moment!). It was a phenomenal night, with very different bands complementing each other perfectly.

Around a year ago SWH!’s Braemar branch got in touch to say we had to listen to Domiciles as they were the best new band they had heard in ages. They were right. Their sound plays with loops, effects and rhythms (they have the best drummer I have seen in some time), and they bring to mind early Verve, Chapterhouse, and the mighty Ride, sending me back to listen to all three. This is music to lose yourself in, and here’s ‘Only You‘ to prove it. Great music will always win out, and that’s what Domiciles are all about:

Raise your glasses and let the sky be black with hats for Beerjacket has returned, and the 0014433979_10fact that he is releasing his latest album Silver Cords on Scottish Fiction as a CD, but also with an accompanying book, (right) – well, nothing makes us happier. The first song released from it is ‘Cord‘ and from the opening familiar guitar sound and Peter Kelly’s unmistakable vocals it’s like he has never been away.

As you’ll have seen already we like to offer musical comparisons to give you an idea as to what a song or band sound like. Well ‘Cord’ sounds like no one else but Beerjacket, so the simplest thing to do is listen for yourself and find out just what that means. This is ‘Cord’:

You can contact SWH! in a multitude of ways to tell us about your music, most of which are listed somewhere to the right of this review. I promise we will always get back to you, even if it takes a while. Blaire Mackenzie did just that on Facebook. He’s the drummer with Gordon James and The Power and he thought we might like their new single ‘In Beauty & Form’. He was right, and so will you.

It’s a heartbreaking song which more than matches its enigmatic title. With harmonies, wonderful acoustics and precision playing all round, it sounds at once timeless but unlike what anyone else is doing at the moment, and that’s a very good thing. It’s also the perfect place to end such a varied and righteous music review as it will send you on your way with a skip in your step and a song in your heart. This song, to be precise – this is ‘In Beauty & Form’ and it’s gorgeous:

That’s yer whack for this month, but come back soon when more new music will be waiting for you…

Growing Pains: A Review Of Daniel Shand’s Crocodile…

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There are few more difficult aspects for an adult writer to get right than the voice of a child. Often they are given speech patterns which are older in tone and content than the intended age. In recent years, however, Scottish writing has had quite a few examples where a young central character’s voice, accents and actions have been utterly believable. They include Ross Sayer’s Mary’s The Name, Helen MacKinven’s Talk Of The Toun and P.K. Lynch’s Armadillos, and to those you can add Daniel Shand’s latest novel Crocodile, published by Sandstone Press.

It’s the story of Chloe who has come to stay with her grandparents very much against her will. It unfolds that this is an arrangement between Angie, (the girl’s mother), and her elderly and estranged parents. It’s an uneasy alliance which means that although the latter get to spend time with their granddaughter, and Angie gets the break from the responsibilities and burden of being a parent which she feels she needs, they all realise that this is far from an ideal situation. As a result Chloe’s wishes are of little consequence and she has to find ways to cope. She literally dreams of life back with her mother, remembering a version of events which she may be viewing through rose-tinted spectacles married to a lack of understanding of the adult world that comes with youth. What remains of her naiveté is all too soon lost.

After initial resistance Chloe begins to make a life in her new surroundings, finding some comfort in the well-meaning kindness of her grandparents and their neighbours, and making friends with Ally, Chris, and Darryl – a local gang of fellow outsiders who would not be out-of-place in a Stephen King novel. After initial mutual suspicion and even resentment, the four build dens, climb trees, get drunk, and become as thick as thieves. It’s a familiar and beautifully told tale which will have you reminiscing on your own childhood – the good, bad, and ugly. Just when things are settling down for Chloe (or “the girl” as she is known for most of the book) events conspire against her, both deliberate and accidental, which brings disruption and turmoil to her life once more.

Without giving away spoilers, it is the reappearance of her mother in Chloe’s life which throws everything in the air. As we get to know more about Angie it becomes clear that she is the immature one in this family – displaying selfishness, jealousy, insecurity and anger, often in a single sentence. It is strongly hinted that there is something in her own childhood, an event from her past, which could be at the root of this self-destructive behaviour which, in turn, is having such a detrimental effect on her daughter. And so it goes – familial secrets and lies raise their ugly heads as events progress, and everyone has to reflect on their actions, and inaction, to try to work out how they can move on, if that’s possible.

Daniel Shand’s debut, Fallow, won the Betty Trask Prize garnering acclaim from the likes of Alan Warner, Allan Massie, Joanne Harris and Rodge Glass. It’s often difficult to follow such success but he has done so by writing a coming-of-age novel which doesn’t pull its punches, beautifully setting out an individual childhood which will resonate with readers. Where Shand really shines is in the construction of his dramatis personae. He uses an economy of language to get to the heart of what makes his characters tick – a look, a touch, a stray thought, a wordless tantrum. By examining all too familiar failings, and the tricks the mind often plays to justify and even forgive them, he gives insight into the human psyche which does not always make for an easy read, but which is never less than a compelling one. With Crocodile Daniel Shand has cemented his position as one of Scotland’s finest and original literary voices.

Daniel Shand’s Crocodile is published by Sandstone Press.

The Music Man: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Vic Galloway…

DomOgcBWwAAmJh6.jpg-large.jpegFor our 100th podcast we thought long and hard about who to ask and we kept coming back to one name, Mr Vic Galloway. With the recent publication of his superb book Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop, written to coincide with the National Museum of Scotland’s exhibition and the TV show of the same name, it seems fitting to talk to a man who helps shape the nation’s musical tastes.

Ali headed down Leith Walk to one of Edinburgh’s finest live venues and bars, The Leith Depot, to meet Vic and what followed was a fascinating chat about the genesis of the book, the structure, what Vic wanted to achieve and if he believes he did so, the joys of  record shops, the spirit of radio, the importance of indie record labels, the SAY Awards, and so much more – including mentions for The Dog Faced Hermans and TTF!

Vic’s radio shows, along with those of Roddy Hart and Nicola Meighan, are a sign of just how healthy the state of the nation is musically, and it was an absolute pleasure to talk all about it. We hope you enjoy  listening to the chat as much as we did recording it.

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back catalogue of podcasts for you to discover (99, to be exact). If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to listen to any of our 100 podcasts.

Old Morality: A Review Of Charles E. McGarry’s The Shadow Of The Black Earl…

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One of the most welcome literary surprises of last year was Charles E. McGarry’s novel The Ghost Of Helen Addison. It introduced the world to private investigator, and bon viveur, Leo Moran, whose gift of second sight is both a blessing and a curse. To say this is a Glaswegian gumshoe with a difference is ridiculous understatement writ large. Quite simply, you will never have met a character like Leo Moran. In the SWH! review we said, “With The Ghost Of Helen Addison Charles E. McGarry has presented a new voice to Scottish crime fiction, and a memorable character to match. I’m looking forward to seeing how these novels develop…”. Well, look no further as the man is back in The Shadow Of The Black Earl.

If you liked the first Leo Moran mystery you are going to love this one. After a particularly upsetting funeral the dapper detective goes to stay with his now firm friend, the extravagantly named Fordyce Greatorix, at his family home of Biggnarbriggs Hall. There he encounters a range of eccentric characters who would not be out-of-place in an Agatha Christie novel. What unfolds is a whodunit which delves into the world of the occult, masonic and pagan rituals, and police corruption, as well as touching on every one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and then coming up with a few more. If you didn’t read the previous novel you may think this is business as usual in terms of Scottish crime fiction. You’d be wrong. With this second outing what’s now clear is that Leo Moran mysteries are something entirely different altogether.

One of the most welcome things that McGarry does is to take Leo around the country to solve crimes in Scotland’s lesser known locations. The Ghost Of Helen Addison was set in Argyll, and this time round he finds himself in deepest, and, quite literally, darkest Galloway. It’s an inspired setting which adds an instant atmosphere to proceedings, in no small part due to the rich literary history of the area. Think of the supernatural Border tales of James Hogg, such as The Brownie of Bodsbeck and the epic The Three Perils of Man, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s superb short stories ‘Markheim’ and ‘Thrawn Janet’, as well as his masterpiece of a novel The Master of Ballantrae. All of these have a strong sense of a place where religion and superstition clash, and there is no doubt McGarry taps into this.

But, perhaps surprisingly, it’s another well kent Border writer who I was reminded of when reading The Shadow Of The Black Earl, and that is the Great Waldo himself. It’s not just the place which brings Walter Scott to mind, (he spent most of his time on the other side of the M74, so to speak), or that Briggnarbriggs Hall has more than a hint of Scott’s beloved Abbotsford about it in its grandeur and folly. It’s not even that the title has overtones of Scott’s 1816 novel The Black Dwarf. Comparisons are to be found in McGarry’s writing as well. Going against the grain of most modern fiction, never mind crime, this is a writer who will not be rushed. As with Scott he refuses to hurry matters, enjoying the diversions his characters make along the way. The idea that every sentence has to be a punch, or that action is all, is anathema. Like his protagonist, McGarry would far rather his reader stop and smell the roses.

His descriptions of the surroundings are often extensive, verging on the purple at times, but they completely suit the people and places depicted. In terms of the detective work think of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes’ novels, or even G. K. Chesterton’s tales of Father Brown. There is something distinctly out of time about the Leo Moran mysteries. In fact it is easy to forget you are in a contemporary novel until mentions of mobile phones and Facebook profiles break the spell. It’s another sign that this is a writer doing something different. You might even think he’s deliberately out to subvert the crime genre. Taking a Glasgwegian PI away from the side of the Clyde is just the start.

There is little doubt that McGarry has developed as a writer from The Ghost Of Helen Addison. This time round there are less detailed depictions of what Leo eats and what he wears, which personally I missed as I love food and clothes, but I think it was the right decision in terms of moving the plot along. More importantly, he makes far better use of his female characters in this novel, his relationship with Elaine central to proceedings. I would love to see even more of Stephanie – the one friend who seems to have his number – as I think they would make a memorable double act. Perhaps that’s being kept for Leo Moran’s third mystery. I certainly hope there is one. A character as ineffaceable and distinct as Leo Moran deserves a long literary life, and that goes doubly for Charles E. McGarry.

The Shadow Of The Black Earl is out now and is published by Polygon Books.

Tour De Force: A Review Of Scottish Opera’s Opera Highlights…

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For the last few years Scottish Opera have been taking to the highways and byways of Scotland with their Opera Highlights show. Last night was the premiere of the 2018 show, and it’s safe to say that they have surpassed themselves, with director Daisy Evans putting together the perfect programme to introduce opera to those who may not be familiar with the genre, while keeping the die-hard fans happy – and how.

The structure could not have been more suitable. A lone woman (non-singing actor Hannah Birkin) sits on stage at her laptop as the audience enter. The music began with an eclectic and entertaining run through a selection of tunes played by Jonathon Swinard, the show’s musical director. Then the four singers arrived, dressed unmistakably in the individual colours of the Google sign. They take the mystery woman, and the audience, through a tour de force of opera, answering, as they go, the most commonly asked questions by those for whom the ways of opera are a mystery.

The promise of a mixture of the old and new was upheld, with works from the well kent likes of Mozart, Handel, Beethoven, Britten, and Gilbert & Sullivan, but also a new work from Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Samuel Bordoli. The performances, from Soprano Sofia TroncosoMezzo-soprano Sarah Champion, Tenor Richard Pinkstone, and Baritone Dawid Kimberg, were superb across the board. It is incredibly moving, and exciting, to be in a small theatre when talent like this is on stage. You realise that it is not simply the singing which makes a great opera singer, it is in the acting and the interaction, with each other but, most importantly, with the audience.

Handling the comedy and tragedy, and everything in between, in fine style, these performers had their audience in the palms of their collective hands. There were laughs, tears, and at times a revered silence with nary a rustle of a caramel wrapper to break the spell. I have seen the last two Opera Highlights shows, and this was the best yet. The good news is, wherever you are in the country, you don’t need to miss out as they head from Glasgow to hit the road, starting in Ayr on the 22nd. For the full list of dates, and how to buy tickets, go to the bottom of this page. Opera Highlights was the most fun I’ve had in a theatre for some time and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here’s the trailer to explain more:

You can follow Scottish Opera in all the usual ways, on FacebookInstagram,  TwitterYoutube and, most appropriately, Spotify.

Here are some images from the show, with thanks to Scottish Opera and Credit to Sally Jubb Photography:

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OPERA HIGHLIGHTS – Touring Scotland Autumn 2018 

Gaiety Theatre AYR Sat 22 Sep BOOK TICKETS

Craigmonie Centre DRUMNADROCHIT Tue 25 Sep BOOK TICKETS

Wick High School WICK Thu 27 Sep BOOK TICKETS

Forres Town Hall  FORRES Sun 30 Sep BOOK TICKETS

The Macphail Centre ULLAPOOL Tue 2 Oct BOOK TICKETS

An Lanntair STORNOWAY Thu 4 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Aros Centre PORTREE Sat 6 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Memorial Hall LANARK Tue 9 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Victoria Hall Helensburgh HELENSBURGH Thu 11 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Gardyne Theatre DUNDEE Sat 13 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Inverurie Town Hall INVERURIE Tue 16 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Mearns Academy LAURENCEKIRK Thu 18 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Joan Knight Studio, Perth Theatre PERTH Sat 20 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Theatre Royal Dumfries DUMFRIES Tue 23 Oct BOOK TICKETS

The Brunton MUSSELBURGH Thu 25 Oct BOOK TICKETS

The Byre Theatre ST ANDREW Sat 27 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Holiday From Hell: A Review Of Jonathan Whitelaw’s Hellcorp…

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If it’s true that the Devil has all the best tunes, He (and it’s almost always a He) tends to get all the best films, plays and books as well – with one notable exception. Milton, Marlowe, Goethe, and Byron all depicted versions of Satan/Mephistopheles/Lucifer, and in the last 100 years the representations are innumerable.

One regular narrative trope is where the Devil leaves Hell to visit us here on Earth, notably in films such as The Omen, Angel Heart and even The Witches Of Eastwick. The stories range from the sublime, (Dennis Potter’s Brimstone & Treacle), through the mawkish (Meet Joe Black), to the ridiculous, (God help us, Little Nicky – if you ever needed proof that neither deity exists then that film is surely it).

Jonathan Whitelaw‘s latest novel, Hellcorp, takes the above idea, runs with it, and has great fun with it. Whitelaw quotes Mark Twain at the beginning of the book, “Go to Heaven for the climate. Hell for the company.”, which gets to the heart of our fascination with all things Hellish – it’s where the fun is to be had. The reason that endures is a whole other conversation.

Hellcorp opens with our anti-hero in consultation with the Pope. He wants to make Hell legitimate, and feels that in the Pope there is a man (and in this case it IS always a man) who should understand. This desire for change is rooted  in an unshakeable feeling that He is in a rut – His unreciprocated lusting after His secretary, Alice, (particularly poignant in the current climate), only exacerbating the feeling.

Constantly being the bad guy has taken its toll. He decides that His work is now so well-understood, so set in stone, that it can be carried out in His absence. To this end He sets up a company, the titular Hellcorp, which can handle things while He takes a well-earned vacation. The only problem is approval for leave is needed from His line-manager, who just happens to be God, and there are conditions. He can have a holiday as long as He solves a mystery which has even the Almighty stumped.

After some fairly one-sided negotiations, the Devil finds himself in Glasgow – where better to blend in? – where he awakes on an operating table. There He meets Jill Gideon. She will become the Watson to His Sherlock as they traverse the city trying to solve ever evolving crimes, although perhaps Moonlighting‘s David Addison and Maddie Hayes is a better comparison as the two constantly, and entertainingly, bicker and fall out. Questions of faith, (although not as you might think), trust, guilt and revenge are explored, but with an unusual theological bent.

The unconventional detectives find themselves coming into contact with a host of Glaswegian ne’er-do-wells, as well as Demons – the two often indistinguishable. These are individuals who make even the Devil shake his head in disbelief. What becomes clear is that Jill’s role in this tale is central, and as her desire for retribution becomes stronger, so her partner, unexpectedly, becomes almost valorous – a twist which no one sees coming.

Hellcorp brings to mind John Niven’s The Second Coming, (where God takes a holiday, leaving his son, JC, in charge), Alasdair Gray’s Fleck, (his take on Goethe’s Faust), but also the political tribulations and machinations of Yes Minister, Powell & Pressburger’s A Matter Of Life & Death, and even Andy Hamilton’s excellent radio comedy Old Harry’s Game.

It is yet another example of the innovation and diversity in evidence in the sometimes maligned genre that is Scottish crime fiction. In recent years we have had books from writers as distinct as Graeme Macrae Burnet, Graham Lironi, Louise Welsh, Douglas Skelton, Doug Johnstone, Denise Mina, Manda Scott, Charles E. McGarry, and Stuart David, among many others. All these writers are markedly different from one another, and to them you can add Jonathan Whitelaw. If you have read the above review and come to the conclusion that Hellcorp is not for you then I have failed you. Buy it, read it, and if you don’t then Hell mend you.

Hellcorp is published by Urbane Publications.

An Indelible Event: A Review Of Donald S. Murray’s As The Women Lay Dreaming…

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It’s a well-worn argument, but the lack of Scottish history taught in schools has undoubtedly had a negative affect on the Scottish cultural psyche. To quote Sam Henry (then President of Scottish Association of Teachers of History) in The Scotsman in 2005 this situation means, “we are not doing justice to pupils and their grasp of their own heritage and their ability to come to terms with the world.” I won’t go into it much further here, except to say that a prime example of such gaps in many people’s knowledge of Scottish history, outside of the Highlands and Islands, is the sinking of HMY Iolaire on 1st January 1919 off the port of Stornaway. It was one of the worst maritime disasters in United Kingdom waters with over 200 out of the 283 aboard dying. They were returning from the First World War, so close to home they could almost touch it. The very definition of a national tragedy.

The first I heard of it was in song (in my mid-30s) and I found it embarrassing that was the case, if understandable. However, learning about it in this way does suggest that such stories told artfully can help fill in those gaps in people’s knowledge and awareness. So it is with Donald S. Murray’s new novel As The Women Lay Dreaming (Saraband Books) which gave me an insight into the Iolaire disaster which no history book could manage, in a manner similar to the way Iain Crichton Smith’s novel Consider the Lilies gives perspective to, and understanding of, the Highland Clearances. Murray’s is a powerful book, one which tells of a survivors’ story and the effect such a terrible event can have even through the generations. Continue reading

Pop Life: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Carla J. Easton…

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For the latest SWH! podcast Ali caught up with musician Carla J. Easton to talk about her new album Impossible Stuff, which is released on the 5th October on Olive Grove Records.

As well as explaining the Canadian roots of the record, and how time spent in residencyimgID106497291.jpg.gallery there changed her life, she also talks about the importance of home, her many collaborations, her musical history, Teen Canteen (right), Ette, and the documentary she is working on with Blair Young about women pioneers of Scottish pop.

Carla is one of the most innovative and interesting musicians working today and it was a pleasure to talk to her and get a better understanding of how and why she does what she does. If you love music you just have to take a listen, but it’s also a fascinating insight as to what is involved in the artistic process. Continue reading

New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

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The evocative seasonal change from summer to autumn needs a suitable soundtrack to match, and I think SWH! can provide just that. It’s another strong selection which once again proves that we are living in good times when it comes to Scottish music. We have the return of old friends under new names, debut appearances, new discoveries, and the reissue of a lost classic. Coming from all over Scotland there’s electronica, indie pop & rock, Americana, country, soul, harmonies and heartbreak, and some of the finest songwriting you’ll find anywhere. If any or all of that appeals to you, read on…

Allan J. Swan has been making music for many years in various shapes and sizes, not least with the mighty, and much missed, YAK. His latest release comes under the wonderfully monikered Bang Bang Cannoli. The album is called Something Better, and this first release, ‘Oblivion Now’, is a taste of what’s to come. An old school electronic track which gently builds, adding strings and drums as it does so, with Swan’s understated and plaintive vocals, it’s where Vangelis meets Aidan Moffat, or if Tangerine Dream were fronted by Stuart Braithwaite. Swan identifies himself as “..one of many bald beardy suicidally depressed men that has blundered about in the Glasgow music scene for the last 20 years.” There may be many, but few make music as good as this. This is ‘Oblivion Now’:

Continue reading

A Life In Film: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To May Miles Thomas…

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4oyoqq68z6zvhepr87pdFor the latest podcast Ali spoke to writer & director May Miles Thomas (left) about her incredible film Voyageuse and the issues and themes it addresses, such as family, sibling rivalry, ageing, grief, and much, much more.

During their chat the two also discuss different approaches to making film, May’s previous projects, using setbacks as inspiration, the problem in getting heard in a crowded market, and the primary importance of story in her work.

It’s a fantastic listen, one which is essential for anyone who is interested, not only in the process and reality of filmmaking, but all aspects of creating art in Scotland. There is also mention of Hitler, satanism in Glasgow, Sian Philips, and the CIA. What more could you want from a podcast?

If you are in London on Friday 14th you can see Voyageuse on the big screen as it is showing at the Picturehouse Central, when there will also be a Q&A with May Miles Thomas and Dame Sian Philips. For everyone else, you can watch the full film over at Vimeo as well as view the trailers for other productions from Thomas’ Elemental Films, and the full-length version of the much discussed The Devil’s Plantation. If you visit the latter’s website you will find all the information you need to follow in Harry Bell’s footsteps (and for that to make sense you’ll have to listen to the podcast first). In the meantime, here’s the trailer for Voyaguese: Continue reading