So much music in March, so little time to listen to it, never mind write about it all. That’s my excuse for this appearing almost a quarter of the way into April. There was a great mixture of new material from some old musical heroes and some from welcome new faces. If I say that Lloyd Cole and Edwyn Collins haven’t made this roundup up you’ll realise that we are dealing with a month of the highest quality. Have no fear though, I would imagine those two legends will get a post all of their own before April is through.
However, that’s for later. What follows now is a bumper crop of great music, and at least one album that is simply triumphant. In fact, that’s the perfect place to start.
Steve Mason’s last album Boy’s Outside made my top five albums of 2010 but it was quite a straightforward pop album from someone who is known for using a wider pallet of sounds. His latest, Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time (see above), is as eclectic as it is sublime, recalling the best of The Beta Band while revealing something new with each listen. Usually when an album weighs in at 20 tracks long I fear that the quality will drop somewhere along the line, but Mason manages to make every song individual, yet part of the whole. If someone makes a better album than this in 2013 then we are in for a treat. This is Oh My Lord:
Another favourite band gave us a new album in March. Kid Canaveral, for it is they, released Now That You Are A Dancer, and it takes the guitar driven melancholic pop that we know and love, and beefs it up without losing those little moments that shimmer and shine, and which make them stand apart from other bands. This album accompanied the long overdue arrival of Spring, and it couldn’t have had a more apt soundtrack. This is the single, The Wrench:
You might think that with those two albums on repeat there wasn’t time to listen to much else, but you’d be wrong; they’re only the wonderful beginning. I was recommended Blue Rose Code by someone who thought that my love of beards and beautiful music meant I would find them irresistible, and of course they were right. Some of you know me too well. They touch upon some of my favourite music, a little Bonnie Prince Billie here, a touch of Richard Buckner there, perhaps just a splash of Iron and Wine. From their album North Ten this is Julie, and it is absolutely gorgeous:
If Celtic bluegrass is not your thing, then may I suggest you try some Edinburgh ska? Sea Bass Kid are a band who have shared stages with some of Scots Whay Hae’s favourite live acts, and after listening to these tracks I’m itching to see them live myself. With influences ranging from the music of the mariachi to The Specials, and an album coming soon, they are just a joy to listen to. Look-see for yourself:
And continuing the eclectic sounds, what about Atlas: Empire and their fabulous wall of sound. Yes, it is more men with beards, (you say that as if it’s a bad thing), but this is the most wonderfully epic piece of music I heard last month. This video is of them recording their EP Somnus, which promises to be rather special, and I can think of at least one person close to me who will get overly excited about the amount of effects pedals on show:
From the epic to a band who are about to release a single of pure pop. Where We Lay Our Heads are a Glasgow based band whose music reminds me of French Wives, Maple Leaves and even a little Kid Canaveral. This is their latest single, Keanu Leaves, (got to love that), and it has a bigger production than their previous work, but is all the better for it. Song of the month? If I had such a thing it would be damn close:
Glasgow based Bones On Show are the name which singer/songwriter Matthew Wood chooses to record under, and it is one which suits as there is a raw, exposed and brutally honest quality to his music that can feel like you’re intruding on someone’s private moments of despair, and who doesn’t like to do that if we’re being honest. This is You Were, and it will stay with you long after the song finishes:
Let’s shift gear once more and listen to some Stooges inspired rock from Edinburgh’s Quiet As A Mouse. This is their latest single An Accident Waiting To Happen (Awoo Woo Woo), which you can download for free during April, and which is a noisy joy:
I told you this was a bumper month, and it’s not finished yet. I’m going to leave you with two things of exquisite beauty, to borrow from David Simons. First is singer/songwriter Amy Duncan who has a voice that soothes and comforts in a way which most singers could only dream of. Her album Cycles Of Life comes out on the 15th April, and if it fulfils the promise of the single Navigating it will be one to treasure. Have a listen and relax:
And finally… I posted the Cairns String Quartet’s terrific cover of Chvrches The Mother We Share on Facebook at the beginning of March, and here they are again with their version of Kid Canaveral’s Low Winter Sun, the original of which appears on the aforementioned Now That You Are A Dancer. This isn’t just thrown together you know. If you like this then visit their YouTube channel for further delights:
And that’s your fill of March. April, show us your wares…