The best new music from February has been tough to narrow down to something manageable. Just when I think I’ve got a final selection, something else springs to mind. There was fantastic new material from new friends and old, and that’s just the Scottish stuff. Add to the following great albums from Beck, Neneh Cherry, The Woodentops (!) and Dean Wareham, and a remastered edition of The Blue Nile’s third album, Peace at Last, and February is looking like it will be remembered as a high point of 2014.
You want proof…can you handle the proof…? Of course you can, and we start with someone who has regularly featured on these pages over the years. The person is Alasdair Roberts, one of the great folk musicians who is determined not only to bring his music to the present, but who is equally determined that we should not forget the past. His latest collaboration is as part of The Furrow Collective, alongside Emily Portman, Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton.
The album, At Our Next Meeting, is a terrific collection of some of the more quirky and obscure Scottish and English folk ballads, and it is a reminder, as if one were needed, that if you want death, deception, love and regret then no form of music delivers like folk. If you aren’t normally someone who would listen to more traditional folk music, then I highly recommend this to you. It is quite gorgeous. This is I’d Rather Be Tending My Sheep:
Another band who have featured on Scots Whay Hae! over the years, although not as frequently as Roberts, are Night Noise Team. I’m a big fan of electronica, as my record collection will attest, and there are few who do it better, and whose new releases I look forward to more than Night Noise Team. They haven’t let me down with their latest single The Enemy, Time, and here it is:
Vigo Thieves are a band new to me, although I feel that is my fault. Their latest single This Love is a great slab of Power Pop (caps intended) and it is accompanied by a video which is properly dramatic and involving, which is great to see. This is the sort of song that you listen to once and think that’s it. But I can promise you that’s not the case, and you’ll return to it again and again. Here’s that video:
Let’s go back to ballads, and bring them right up to date. Sometimes all you need is an aching melody and a voice to match, and that’s what Laura Corrigan provides on her new album Milovaig. Acoustic guitar, piano, percussion and the mere suggestion of something more modern combine with Corrigan’s haunting vocals to leave you enraptured and intrigued. Take a listen, you’ll be glad you did:
During our recent podcast with Vic Galloway we asked about up and coming musicians to look out for, and near the top of his suggestions was Edinburgh based singer Law, who has been playing live recently with Young Fathers, and who makes some of the best music about just now (for those of a certain age, imagine Tricky’s Maxinquaye album if Martina Topley-Bird sang lead on every track). Hear what I mean here, this is Haters:
In the past few years few singer/songwriters have made an impact on the Scottish music scene as Withered Hand. This is someone who knows the value of a great song, and knows how to deliver. He’s been away too long, but now he’s back with a new album New Gods. This is the sort of indie music that few make anymore, low-fi and low key, reminiscent of the jangle-pop bands of the late 80s. There will always be a place in my heart for music like this, so thank the lord Withered Hand is around to make it: Here’s a brief trailer for the album:
I’m going to finish with yet another Scots Whay Hae! favourite of recent months, Lorraine McCauley and the Borderlands. It is no lie to say that I haven’t heard a duff note from them yet, and for Valentine’s Day they released their latest single Big Love. Shot on Portobello Beach (in front of The Espy, where we have interviewed writer Doug Johnstone in the past, podcast fans), it is another slice of classic and classy pop music. They really are bloody marvellous you know. Here’s Big Love and the very lovely video:
That’s yer whack. Bring it on March…