This month’s reviews of last month’s music is a real mixed bag, with songs and sounds sharing few things in common expect good tunes and marvellous melodies. Single visions, collaborations, supergroups and super groups, all find a home here and now, with plenty to consider from well kent faces and the unfamiliar, and two, yes two, legendary bands back to near their best. As always, there should be something here for most tastes, but enough of this unnecessary preamble, let’s crack on as we’re all busy people.
First off is the video of a track you can hear at the beginning of our most recent podcast with Olive Grove records’ Lloyd Meredith. Skinny Dipper are the latest signing to Olive Grove, and their new EP, Masks, is yet another example of the great music that is to be found on that label. If you want to hear how Cameron Crowe became a fan, you’ll have to listen to the aforementioned pod (I’ll make it easy for you, it’s near there end), but never mind the ex-Mr Nancy Wilson, I have a feeling you’ll fall for them all by yourself. From Masks, with harmonies and melodies to die for, this is Landing:
One of the best bands of the last few years, both on record but particularly live, are PAWS, and we have featured them many times on these pages. Ryan Drever from PAWS, and sometime Scots Whay Hae! contributor, is also involved in Garden of Elks, and we were intrigued, excited and expectant to hear what their new material was going to be like. We have to wait no longer as they have released the excellent single, YOOP. They describe it as “…a song about love, existentialism and friendship. Maybe”. I’ll describe it as a classic slice of power pop which picks you up, shakes you around some, and then discards you at the end. Best noise of last month? Definitely:
Insect Heroes are one of those difficult to pin down bands, but I love a challenge. They have a new album, Apocalypso, out on Lost Maps, and a single to boot. It’s called King Fabulous and is the infectious feel good anthem of the month. I can imagine singing along to this at the top of my voice as I drive along, but then again I don’t have kids, so maybe not advisable for everyone. You can have a listen and make your own mind up. They make the sort of interesting, individual and downright odd pop music that is one of the great things in life. Think Super Furry Animals, The Divine Comedy, Space, Gorky’s or the legendary Half Man Half Biscuit and you’ll get some idea of what to expect, but not the whole story. There’s also a cracking video to go with the single which will inspire you to dance on the nearest hillside. In fact, it is heartening to see that every video featured in this month’s roundup is a belter at a time when it is difficult to get them seen. Some of us appreciate the effort. This is King Fabulous:
New music from The Vaselines is always cause for cheer, and Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee are back with more classic west coast indie pop. The album V for Vaselines is a must have, and if you want a taste of it and what the band continue to do better than almost anyone else, then the perfect place to start is with their latest single High Tide Low Tide, which, luckily, I have right here, accompanied by another video which is going to make your day:
“Young Parisians are so French, they love Patty Smith”, sang a young Adam Ant. It looks as though that least one of those assertions could apply to Happy Meals, a Glasgow band who, if their song Altered Images is anything to go by, are quite taken with the French, but whose sound is more Balearic than Bercy or Bellahouston, (I’ve no idea where they’re from, but I’ll always sacrifice accuracy for alliteration). This was one of those unexpected treats which comes along far too rarely, a piece of music which reminds you to broaden your horizons as well as dig out things you haven’t listened to in years. Musically, as well as early electronic pop and European House, you can also hear more recent music such as Metronomy and Summer Camp; or at least I could. Altered Images immediately puts forthcoming album Apero (out on Nov 3rd) to the top of any must get list. Sheer class:
Andrew Montgomery has released a second single from his new album Ruled By Dreams, (out now). It is called Sorry Someday and it is another example of a musician at the peak of his powers. Montgomery makes beautifully crafted pop music that too few do any more. If you’re a fan of Paddy McAloon, Boo Hewerdine or even Donald Fagen you’ll find something to admire here. But with his distinctive vocals, Ruled By Dreams puts me in mind of another great Scottish voice, Steven Lindsay (once of The Big Dish, whose albums Kite and Exit Music should be sought out if you haven’t heard them). This is Sorry Someday, and a video, with its Patrick Bateman overtones, which is pretty memorable as well:
Then there’s the return of little know pop combo, Simple Minds. Few bands go from critical heroes to musical zeroes as quickly as happened to the Minds. New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) was one of Melody Maker’s albums of the year in 1982, and remains one of the great Scottish albums, and by that time they also had an amazing back catalogue that included Life In A Day, Real to Real Cacophony, Empires and Dance, Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call which are all well worth a listen. But as they got bigger, the production got grander and the drums got louder (and the shirts got blousier) they began to lose favour critically, although still selling out stadia around the world, and by the time of earnest bombast such as Belfast Child and the honking Mandela Day they were pariah’s in the music press, and those shimmering glory days had been largely forgotten. Even though they continued to make music, few were listening.
But, hang on; they’re back, and it’s sort of like the last 30 years didn’t happen as they return with a single which could easily have been a track on New Gold Dream; in fact if you sing the guitar part of Someone, Somewhere in Summertime over it you’ll see what I mean. It also has a darker feel which suits them now they are of a certain age. There’s certainly a touch of the John Carpenter about it which can only be a good thing. Anyway, I think this is cracking return to form, and although many will not be prepared to overlook past sins, I’m looking forward to the new album, Big Music, which is out in November. This is Honest Town
That’s yer lot for this month, and already I can tell you next month’s roundup is going to be a belter, with new releases from two of Scots Whay Hae!’s favourite musicians. Who are they, and what have they done? You’ll have to tune in next month to find out. See you then…