What a cracking October it’s been for music. There was one of the gigs of the year when Aye Tunes and Peenko faced off for their annual clash, this time with the added might of Scottish Fiction, with a line up that included Scots Whay Hae! favourites French Wives, Cancel the Astronauts and also, new to me, although it turns out not completely, the excellent Bad Books. Anyone who says there’s not enough good live music out there is just not looking hard enough.
In terms of recorded material, the month saw a new act on a label that never lets me down, some musical heroes, a couple of eclectic new bands, some limited edition live releases, and two albums which are already vying as being best of the year. One raucous, one pure bliss, they have worked together after a yin/yang fashion to help me through the month.
The first of those albums is long awaited. When I heard that Olive Grove had signed up Jo Mango I thought that is a perfect coupling in that they both appear to believe in the power of music to move. Then I discovered that her album, Murmuration, was to be produced by Adem and all bets were off. I am a sucker for singers who sound as if they’re about to break, or are already in pieces, people such as David Sylvian, Stina Nordenstam, Paul Buchanan, Rosie Thomas and Arran Arctic. Mango has this quality, and the pared down music matches her vocals beautifully. This is truly a collection of songs to treasure.
From the album this is The Black Sun, and it makes the bottom lip quiver every time:
But man cannot live by melancholy alone, and the other album that’s been on repeat this month, and which will be with me for the rest of the year, is Cokefloat! by PAWS. From the first few bars of Catherine 1956 I knew I was in for a treat. What does it sound like? Well it’s the sort of surf punk that bands such as Husker Du used to do, and that’s spectacularly high praise in my ears. I should carry copies of Cokefloat! and Murmuration with me at all times so that when people ask that ridiculous question, ‘What kind of music do you like’ I can hand them over and say ‘I like this’.
This is one of best tracks from Cokefloat!, it’s Miss American Bookworm:
One of the pleasures of writing this blog has been to discover artists whose tastes seem to match my own. From the off, when Sean Ormsby of Permwhale Recordings sent me music from his own band Night Noise Team, I thought this was someone who had a real pop sensibility but who would refuse to release anything that could be described as bland. And if I could play a note I’d like to think that’s how I would be. This is from his latest signings, Collar Up, and it’s quite wonderful. It’s called Tonight:
And now to The Deadly Winters who have their EP Raise the Coin out now. It is a collection of original compositions which look to Scotland’s, often dark, history. But this is no simple venture into the past, their music has a real energy that lifts them above a lot of modern folk music. I was reminded of Steve Earle or even Richard Thompson in places. If you only buy one folk EP this month, I suggest you make it Raise the Coin:
The Unwinding Hours have risen from the lamented ashes of Aereogramme, and their album Afterlives is one you should own. But I picked up their live tour EP this month, as well as a similar live release from R.M. Hubbert and Emma Pollock. It’s an interesting move from Chemical Underground to release limited edition live EPs (only 1000 each in these cases), but it sees the return of recorded live music, and that seems to have died on its arse in recent years, so surely this is a good thing. This is one of the tracks on the album, it’s called Find My Way Home:
I’m going to finish with one of my favourite things in the world, The BMX Bandits. One of my most fondly remembered TV moments was Duglas Stewart on 80s indie music show FSD showing viewers his toy collection and his electronic fish in his bedroom, dressed in a wonderful lilac shirt and neckerchief combo. Since then the various incarnations of the band have had two uniting themes, Duglas, and the fact they make great music. These are inseparable. In my world, if you are tired of the BMX Bandits you are tired of life, and they have a new album out to prove my point. From BMX Bandits in Space (about time), this is Listen to Some Music:
STOP PRESS: I’ve just found that Duglas clip on YouTube, and it also has the Bandits covering the Beastie Boys, and Glasgow’s greatest ever skiffle group, featuring Keith Warwick on vocals, Ray Gunn and the Rockets. (Hey, Andy. Remember this?) This is gold, I tells ye: