After a muscially quietish August, September made up for it with a vengeance. Last month saw some of the best music of the year so far; from expected sources and well kent faces, but also from some lesser known, and even unknown artists, at least on these pages.
I think you’ll find the quality is staggeringly high, and the stuff that didn’t make the cut is worthy of a column all of its own. As always, the following has been carefully, and at times brutally, edited to bring you only the very best of the new music from the month, and there is no better place to start than with the new album from Mr. Gary Stewart and The Tin Foil Collective.
Gary Stewart has featured on these pages before, and the consistency and quality of his music is hugely impressive. Influences I can pick out include Billy Bragg, Simon and Garfunkel, James Yorkston and John Martyn, and there’s lots more I’ve yet to unpack. Every song on Fool’s Gold, for that is the album’s name, is a belter, and it’s rare to listen to such a collection and there not be a hint of filler. Stewart is in serious danger of becoming one of my favourite artists, but you can make up your own mind. This is Fool’s Gold:
The fact that Fool’s Gold managed to knock the next album off top billing shows how highly I rate it. If you love your music I’m sure you already love Chvrches, and their album The Bones Of What You Believe is not simply one of the best albums of September, but of 2013, and will surely be hanging around in those end of the decade roundups when the time comes. Last weekend I was in Sweden and this was the soundtrack to that trip, which somehow made perfect sense. Very much of its time, yet immediately classic, there are few things better in this life than great pop music, and this is great pop music. This is opening track The Mother We Share:
More pop now from Scarlet Shift, with a single which sees Vukovi’s Janine Shilstone guesting. The single is Clouds, it’s from their debut album Found, has the best video from the last month, and when you put all of that together, it makes the world a better place. If this doesn’t make you smile then we may have to have words. This is Clouds:
Another band who make a welcome return to these pages are The Deadly Winters, who have a new album out now. It’s called Away Boys, Away, and it is full of songs which set intricate stories to great music. There is some fantastic folk music being made in Scotland at the moment, from the likes of Trembling Bells, Karine Polwart, Blue Rose Code, and many more, and The Deadly Winters are as good as anyone out there in terms of songwriting and playing. Have a listen, I think you’ll see I speak the truth:
It is becoming increasingly apparent that R.M. Hubbert is one of those rare musicians simply incapable of making a bad record. Everything I have heard him do, whether on record or live, has been memorable, and his latest album, Breaks and Bones, doesn’t spoil that run. It’s a record which is instantly recognisable as Hubbert, and that makes it all the more welcoming. There are a select band of musicians whose new work I always eagerly look forward to, while still regularly playing what went before. Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits are two which spring to mind, and that’s where R.M. Hubbert now resides. Quietly, almost unnoticed, he has become one of those people whose music is part of the soundtrack to my life. This is the first single from the album, and it’s called Bolt:
It’s odd to get asked to review a band who no longer exist, but that’s what happened last recently. The band were Electric Alice, and it is a crying shame that they are no longer around as their EP The Electric Alice Experiment is some of the best rock ‘n’ roll noise I have heard for a while. It reminds me of The Rezillos, The Cramps, the best of the 1980’s Psychobilly scene, The Stooges and the MC5. You get the idea. So RIP Electric Alice, we hardly knew you. But if you’re going to go out, you may as well do it in style:
From the slightly ridiculous, in the best possible sense, to the absolutely sublime. If R.M. Hubbert doesn’t make bad records, then the same must be said of Bill Wells. Best known more recently for collaborating with Aidan Moffat, his 2002 album Also In White is one of my all time favourites. He is also part of The National Jazz Trio of Scotland, and they have just released Standards Vol II. It is understated and gorgeous from start to finish, and if the thought of jazz brings you out in hives, then trust me, you need not fear. Just go with it. This is a live version of Miyuki played at Celtic Connections:
September…phew, what a scorcher. I’ve already received some amazing music which will be in the running for the October roundup. But there’s still plenty of time if you want to be considered…
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