This month’s roundup is defined by great songs and packed full of glittering pop music of various shapes and sounds. Maybe it’s the summer kicking out my SAD, but everything you’re about to hear lifts the heart and clears the head, with each track a reminder of why I fell in love with music in the first place. It’s always a pleasure to put these roundups together, but this month is something very special. Don’t believe me? You will.
The first two songs feature two of Scotland’s great voices. As I’m sure you know, Joe McAlinden was the frontman of Superstar who, with 18 Carat, Palm Tree and Phat Dat, made three of the best albums of the late ’90s which should have made them bigger than they were. McAlinden is now the driving force behind Linden, and the new album Rest And Be Thankful shows that there are few things better in this world than his plaintive, elegiac vocals married to the melancholic pop songs of which he is a master. Here’s the title track, and it will make you smile just as it breaks your heart:
June 2014’s roundup included the debut single from WHITE, ‘Living Fiction’ and it promised great things. Well one of those great things has arrived in the perfectly formed shape of their new single ‘Future Pleasures’. It is a piece of new-wave reminiscent of The Monochrome Set, Gang of Four or Scritti Politti with added funk. If the idea of Magazine with Nile Rodgers on guitar and Billy Mackenzie on vocals appeals then this is for you, with Leo Condie once more proving he is a singer who is impossible to ignore. Sheer class and verging on the addictive, it’s easily one of the best songs of 2015 so far:
As you listen to more and more music it is only natural that you can feel you’ve heard it all before, but the next song blew me away on first listen. We’ve already featured The Duke Detroit on these pages, most recently with their superb single ‘Iconic’. If ‘Iconic’ was all about the night, their latest single, ‘Summer’s Come’ is the perfect soundtrack to the perfect summer’s day. Lazy, hazy and verging on the crazy, it slowly builds, without you being aware of it, to reach inspirational and dizzying heights. It’s the best song PIL never wrote. I was going to tell you to pay attention to The Duke, Detroit, as this is a band growing into something very special, but after listening to ‘Iconic’ and ‘Summer’s Come’ back-to-back, I’m going to suggest they’re already there:
Summer is the time when psychedelia seems to make the most sense, perhaps due to the length of the days and the heat of the night as it is music which refuses to be hurried. A great example comes in the shape of Numbers Are Futile and their new album Sunlight On Black Horizon which recalls the psych rock of the ’60s and ’70s, as well as the shoegazing movement of the ’90s. There are strings, harpsichord, and driving drums, as you would expect, but layered with distorted keyboards and electronica. This is music to lose yourself in for days at a time. From the album, this is ‘The Great Chimera’:
More mind-expanding sounds from Andrew R Burns & The Tropicanas, whose new EP Dreamslop is reminiscent of the best of the Northern psychedelia of bands such as The Icicle Works, The La’s, Julian Cope and early The Stone Roses. With ’90’s nostalgia in the air, this may be perfect timing for this release, but it is no mere trip down memory lane. Dreamslop has an indie aesthetic which makes it stand apart, with chiming guitars and soulful, mournful, vocals. Late afternoon in the park, this will do nicely:
So far it’s been a fairly upbeat soundtrack to a summer’s day, but the sun’s got to set sometime, and the perfect accompaniment to that is surely John Mulhearn’s Tak from the EP Mountains And Molehills. Although it’s an unwieldy term, this is folktronica at its finest, and it’s a match to anything in this genre coming from Scandinavia or elsewhere. Although there is the influence of post rock and ambient music, Mulhearn is steeped in the traditions of Scottish folk music, and is determined to take it to new places without losing sight of its roots, or respect for the instruments. Understated yet powerful, John Mulhearn’s music creates a soundscape that is his alone:
Sometimes I get to the end of these roundups and think, “I may have gone a bit overboard there” with some of the praise, but I easily get excited and enthused. Having listened to all of the above songs multiple times, I’ll stand by every word. For me, that’s summer in six songs. I’m off to start all over again…
Scots Whay Hae! now has a Facebook page dedicated to music only, and you can have a browse here.