Rounding up a year’s music, as we did in December, makes it feel like each year is self contained and we start afresh all over again, but in reality the music never stops and thank your lord for that. If January was anything to go by 2017 is going to be just as diverse and exciting as 2016 was, with this roundup featuring indie, pop, lo-fi electronica, alt-country and some amazing metal. As long as it’s good, it’ll find a home here.
Exhibit A. We’ve been waiting for new music from Campfires In Winter for what seems like an age, but I am delighted to say it has been well worth the wait. Appearing at the end of last year, ‘Free Me From The Howl’ is the first track from their soon to be released debut album Ischaemia. It’s driven by a three pronged attack of drums, bass and guitar all of which support Robert Canavan’s plaintive vocals which are a perfect match to the lovelorn lyrics. It’s one of those records which helps to make sense of broken hearts and lost love – which we all need in our collection. And if you don’t right now, you will someday. It’s also got one of the best videos I have seen in some time:
Another welcome return to these pages comes in the understated and elegiac form of The Color Waves, who are Alison Eales and Garry Hoggan. They make gorgeous dreampop which manages to lift your spirits as it breaks your heart, and their new single simply confirms this. The tracks are ‘Play Along’ and ‘The Sky I Saw’. Both are beautiful, but the latter, with Eales’ unforgettable and affecting vocal, is my favourite song of the year so far. Over the years there has been a lot of music which has followed a pattern of quiet – quiet – loud. Well The Color Waves are all quiet and all the better for it. Inviting you to move closer to the speaker, they put an arm around your shoulder and sing just for you. Listen to them here and now and see if I’m not right. But I can assure you I am:
As I hope everyone is aware, we at Scots Whay Hae! are a forward-looking, positive thinking and carefree bunch, usually facing the day with a spring in our step and our hats on the sides of our collective heads, but it’s been tough to maintain that recently. There are times, and these are times, when you need a band and a song who will sort things out for you, and, at least for a short while, make things all right. Yakima are that band, and ‘Wabi Sabi’ is that song, from their forthcoming single Medicine For Family Entertainment. Sounding like the cooler and less-uptight young cousins of The Afghan Whigs, or a less cynical Buffalo Tom, this is a song guaranteed to brighten your day or your money back*. I suspect Yakima have an excellent record collection from which they have learned some important lessons and used them to make something brand spanking new and all of their own:
*(This is clearly not a binding promise – clearly).
Just because it’s the new year doesn’t mean we’re going to stop singing the praises of Last Night from Glasgow, because the great records keep on coming. You can still hear our podcast with Ian Smith and Murray Easton from the label, but you’ll also hear some music from Mark W. Georgsson. Well, his debut album Faces And Places is out now and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a proper collection of songs, each one feeding into and enhancing the others. This is how albums should be, and it has rarely been off my record player since it came out. Sounds too good to be true? See for yourself. This is ‘Oh My Dear Friend’, and it’s only a part of the even greater whole:
We get a lot of music sent to Scots Whay Hae! and we are so appreciative that people take the bother to get in touch. Every track is listened to and considered. The great thing about the breadth of music that we get sent is that expectations are not only challenged, but often rightly dumped on their head. When Ged Cartwright sent us music from his “one-man metal project” A Cunning Man I assumed it wouldn’t make the final cut as metal is a genre which no-one here listens to that much. But one play of the EP ‘Practical Applications Of Theurgy’ made it clear this was too good to ignore. I’m going to try to avoid dipping into the big book of metal clichés, but the sound is modern, heavy power-prog. Do you know what, it’s just awesome in the true meaning of the word. As the late-great George Michael said, with pride, “listen without prejudice” and I doubt it will be the only time you do. This is music which demands your attention:
Here’s a tip for you. If you start your song with a reading of Hugh MacDiarmid’s ‘The Bonnie Broukit Bairn’, one of the great poems from one of our greatest poets, you are always going to find favour here. But St Christopher Medal‘s song ‘Wayne Moon Pilot‘ stands on its own and is sheer class from start to finish. It’s easily as good as the best alt-country records you know and love, such as those made by the likes of Giant Sand, Uncle Tupelo and Jay Farrar. In fact, imagine Peter Capaldi fronting Lambchop and you have a fair idea of what you are about to hear. Understated yet epic, it promises even greater things to come. Watch this space:
When we interviewed Stephen McLaren and Sean Ormsby from Errant Media last year, Stephen spoke about the solo material he was working on. The first example of this is ‘We Used To Go Raving’, a wonderfully nostalgic track for a misspent youth which would not be out-of-place on the soundtrack to T2 Trainspotting as it shares that film’s sense of looking back to move forward. The classic House piano underpins Stephen’s understated yet evocative vocals, sounding not unlike the great Pete Wylie. In fact, ‘We Used To Go Raving’, could be seen as a ‘Story Of The Blues’ for today, which makes it a great thing. It’s not only about missing youth, it’s about loss and longing – regrets and unfulfilled possibilities. The more listens you give it, the better if gets. Great video from Jordon Yorkston as well:
We’ve already got some great music lined up for the next roundup, but you’ll have to meet us back here to find out the who, what and why. See you then.