Good lord, is that the time? Well I better crack on then. July was a riot of fun, sun, sight and sound round our way with lots of new folk in town for sports day and everything else that went with it. What was needed was the perfect summer soundtrack to match the madness, and this was it.
Fittingly, there was a lot of music looking at Scotland, and what it means to be Scottish, and more of that below, but I’m going to kick things off with the return of one of my favourite groups from recent years.
If you are going to call yourself Sonic Hearts Foundation you need to have the music to back it up. Have no fear, new single Afterlife proves that this is a band who don’t make promises they can’t keep. Sweeping and epic, just as I like it, they are not afraid to dream big and make the music to prove it. The video for Afterlife, and its sepia tinged nostalgia, is the perfect accompaniment to the soaring guitars and driving drums which are the foundation of the Foundation. Enjoy:
Roy Moller’s CV is one of impressive collaboration as well as memorable solo work. Meth O.D., Stevie Jackson, and Davy Henderson are just a few of the people with whom he has worked. One Domino is an album that shows off all his talents as a musician and songwriter, as well as his influences. Berlin period Bowie, Reed and Pop are all channelled, as well as the Sound of Young Scotland that was Postcard Records, particularly Orange Juice and Josef K. Elsewhere you can hear The Sparks and Talking Heads, but this is no exercise in musical nostalgia. Moller mixes all these influences together, and brings them right up to date. Here’s album opener Honey Berlin to make my point for me:
Central to the soundtrack of my summer so far has been Honeyblood and their album of the same name. That may be obvious to those who know me, but that’s for a reason. They remind me of some on my favourite bands of yore, bands I fell in love to and with. There’s some Strawberry Switchblade, Wild River Apples, Tallulah Gosh, The Go-Go’s, Marine Girls, Kenickie, Belly, Nut, Sons and Daughters, Camera Obscura – you get the idea, but that’s who I hear in their music and it is the company they deserve to keep. I haven’t been able to stay away for long from their songs despite all this stiff opposition. Do yourself a favour and get a copy of the album, and if I had to pick a favourite track – which is a bit like picking a favourite child – but if I had to, it would be Killer Bangs, so here it is:
I mentioned at the beginning that we’ve had a lot of music sent to the site in the last couple of months exploring Scotland and Scottishness, and most of it…how can I put this… Most of it is not good, either being mawkish, overly sentimental, or just too damn earnest and angry (Bing Hitler’s ‘Angry Corrie’ springs to mind). I like anger in music (it is an energy, after all), but you’ve got to have a tune, an argument, a memorable lyric, or at least a sense of humour. However, it is not all bad news, and here are two videos which have all of the above.
First off is Suffering From Scottishness by the downright braw Dumb Instrument, a band who give me a lift with everything they do. Their album, The Silent Beard is that rarest of beasts, an album of lovely melodies to accompany songs that raise a smile. This is also my favourite video in some time, with a wonderful cameo from Shug MacDiarmid. More of this type of thing:
Next up is Better Off Alone (A Love Song To Scottish Independence) by Callum Baird. The title had me worrying I was about to receive another history lesson or lecture, but it turns out to belong to a song which shows others how it should be done; accepting stereotypes and cliches for what they are, and playing with them while still making your point clearly and with passion and wit. This is what Billy Bragg does so well in his best songs, and that is high praise from me. Bunnets aff to you, Mr Baird. You have achieved what others have only dreamt of. What say the rest of you?:
Are you ready to rock? That’s nice, as now we feature the rather fine Dundee band, Scary People. It does appear that Dundee is a bit of a hotbed of heavy music at the moment, and I think a visit and a night out is in order very soon to hear it first hand. Scary People’s sound is a slice of psychedelic rock which grabs you from the opening chords and doesn’t let you go until you reach the other side. Here they are playing two songs at The Wickerman Festival on Tenement TV, including new single Guided By The Blind:
I’m going to finish with yet more visions of Scotland, but this time in the shape of the trailer for the forthcoming documentary, Where You’re Meant To Be which follows the trials and tribulations as Aidan Moffat stravaigs round Scotland with his band of troubadours, picking up fellow musicians along the way, and doing the show wherever would have them. There’s going to be a showing of the full film at the Barras on August 31st, and if it’s anything like the live gig there earlier this year it will be a riot. Here you are, and if you’re at work, you might want to turn the volume down or wait til you get home:
That’s it for July. Next month, something completely different…