Last month was packed full of good new music and we have another impeccable post to prove it, with 8 examples of just what’s on offer. There are great singles, teaser’s of new releases, fantastic videos, a compilation of the best that Edinburgh has to offer, and an album which, as I write this, is fighting to be my album of the year, and winning.
As we approach that time of year when the inevitable, and some would say unnecessary, ‘best of 2013’ lists will start to be compiled, I realise that I’m in a bit of trouble as I’ve had at least half a dozen albums of 2013 so far, but it has been that kind of year.
The latest, (and greatest?) to receive the accolade is White Notes on Minor 9ths, which, if I was that kind of person, sounds as though it’s been written specifically to cater for my musical tastes. It comes from the beautiful mind of Chris Flew, and it has the feel of Elliot Smith, Craig Armstrong and The Blue Nile, and I would never type those words without thinking very carefully about it first.
With husky vocals, sparse piano, horns and just the suggestion of a string section, and featuring members of two of my favourite bands (The Seventeenth Century and Olympic Swimmers if you’re interested) this is singing, songwriting and playing of pure understated class. I know I have a tendency for hyperbole, but trust me on this one. Put aside some time to listen to the following and your life will be all the better for it:
One of the best songs so far this year has been What If? from Lorraine McCaulay and the Borderlands, which was featured in August’s roundup, and they’ve followed it up with the equally captivating Belong. One of my favourite bands is The Tiger Lillies, so I’m a sucker for accordion and left bank tendencies, and I was always likely to be on Lorraine McCaulay and the Borderlands side, but they tick so many of my musical boxes that I am already excited about what they’ll do next. Imagine, if you can, that early ’90s Tom Waits was Mary Margaret O’ Hara and he/she did an album of Kurt Weill covers and that’s close to what I hear. While you ponder that equation, this is Belong, it’s fantastic, and it also has a terrific video:
Next up are Honeyblood. If you were a fan of the none-so-indie C86 movement or the still lamented Sarah Records and their lo-fi output then I think you may fall in love with this band. I hear Talulah Gosh, early Primal Scream, The Shop Assistants, The Vaselines, Bis and even further back to Altered Images. All of these are very good things, and if you think so too then Honeyblood are for you. This is Bud:
Another band who have appeared on these pages before are The Deadline Shakes, and I can’t believe it’s been a year since they did so, which means I’ve been returning to them regularly throughout 2013. It seems they are one of those bands who cannot help but make music which you long to hear on the car radio, the sort of songs which make you go the long way home so you hear them in full. Have a listen and see what you think. This is Bright Spot In A Bad Year:
Campfires in Winter are back with a new single Picture Of Health. If previous releases wore their influences on their sleeves a little too readily, (although when those influences are as classy as Admiral Fallow and Frightened Rabbit, this isn’t really a problem), Picture of Health, the title track from their new EP, hints at them finding their own sound, and it just gets better with every play:
John Knox Sex Club have long been championed by Chris Ward of this parish, but I’ll admit they have passed me by until now. I think I was putting them off in the safe knowledge I would like them straight away. This is not only because Chris has impeccable taste, but also as they are on Gerry Loves Records, who are one of those labels which has become a guarantee of quality. I realise my points of reference this month are not exactly current, but there’s a touch of Devo, Gang of Four, The Chameleons and Edinburgh post-punk legends Scars. This is their latest single, Animals:
I often bang on about how much great music is being made in Scotland at the moment, and I hope this column proves it. Sometimes you are sent a compilation which handily makes the same point with more strength than I ever could, and such a recording is Capitalised: Tall Tales & Low Lives Of Edinburgh. Featuring bands such as The Durty Wurks, My Electric Love Affair and Black Riot Valves, this is a collection where every track is worthy of inclusion. There’s surf rock, psychedelia, power pop, and much more. My favourite track is Scott Wilson’s Dancin’ Round The Nails, but I’m sure you’ll find your own:
One of our podcast guests from earlier in the year was singer/songwriter Jack James, and you can still hear him playing and his chat now if you missed it, but he has promised us new material for the new year, and this trailer hints at what we can expect. If his previous work is any indicator, it will be a must hear:
That’s October for you. Best of 2013 lists, here I come…