This is proving to be a summer of love with a soundtrack to match. With incredible albums already from SWH! favourites Modern Studies, The Scottish Enlightenment, Tracyanne & Danny, Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert, and Kathryn Joseph (more of which below), and the promise of releases from The Gracious Losers, The Starry Skies, L-Space, and Carla J. Easton this long hot summer is shaping up to be a memorable one in terms of Scottish music. You want proof? Keep on reading and be convinced.
I first heard Lynnie Carson at one of Warren McIntyre’s Seven Song Clubs which are held at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre every month. It was a solo set and I was immediately blown away. Her voice has a warmth which is rare and welcome, and this is to the fore on her latest single ‘Love Is’, which she recorded with her band, the excellently monikered Hawking Gimmicks, made up of some fantastic musicians as was shown with their set at the recent Seven Song Club Weekender where they were a highlight. If you get the chance to see Lynnie, either on her own or with the band, don’t miss it as this is someone with music in her very bones, and the love she has for what she does is infectious. This is ‘Love Is’:
Continuing the theme of love, (and great singers), Josephine Sillars & The Manic Pixie Dreams have their new single ‘Is It Love’ out on Undercurrent Records. It opens with very cool strings and percussion, not dissimilar to Roxy Music’s classic ‘Dance Away’, before Sillar’s vocals arrive to break your heart as she questions all she has been told about love and finds the answers wanting. Uplifting pop with a dark underbelly, it’s a cracking song which promises great things. The launch of the single is at Broadcast in Glasgow tonight (18/08) supported by Freakwave and the fabulous Caitlin Buchanan, and all profits from the show are going to Glasgow Rapecrisis. Even if you can’t make it you can go to their JustGiving page and make a welcome donation to this vital cause. This is ‘Is It Love?:
Holy Smokes Records has long been one of those labels whose releases have a guaranteed mark of quality. Their latest arrives in the form of Awkward Family Portraits‘ single ‘Baby Blue’, featuring the considerable talents of Cara Rose. It’s another winning slice of rock ‘n’ roll like they just don’t make any more, complete with brushes on the drums, bottleneck, double bass, and a suitably twangy guitar solo. The appearance of Rose is inspired as she lifts the record to new heights with her unmistakable vocals. You can hear that I’m right for yourself at Glasgow’s Mono on September the 14th where the band will be supported by label mates The Shivering Sheiks. See you there, but in the meantime this is ‘Baby Blue’:
Now it’s time to bring the funk and there are few who do this as well as James Brown Is Annie, adding to life’s rich tapestry in their own inimitable way. At times like these we often need lifting, and they are a band who do just that. Their latest single, ‘Five Up High’, is out now sounding like a cross between The Average White Band and The Fun Loving Criminals, and it’s as much fun as that sounds and more. James Brown Is Annie have made a long, hot summer even hotter. Cracking video as well. This is ‘Five Up High’:
One of the joys of doing these reviews is discovering a band new to SWH! who blow us away on the first listen. That was the case with Glasgow’s Verse Metrics and their single ‘The Nightmares Leave Us All Inoperational’, which takes its influences, (I can hear Death Cab For Cutie, Band Of Horses and even a little Wild Beasts, others have mentioned Interpol, Manchester Orchestra and Frightened Rabbit) and moulds them into something new and fresh. Indie rock is a genre of music where it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd, but Verse Metrics do just that by being more experimental than most bands, as well as tackling serious subjects in their lyrics, and in singer Robert Dick they have a frontman with a voice which is rather special. This is ‘The Nightmares Leave Us All Inoperational’:
Adding to the feeling that this is a summer to love is the fact that Nicola Meighan‘s fantastic Friday night radio show on Radio Scotland has returned. If you haven’t yet listened do yourself a favour, and remember it’s on iPlayer waiting for you during the week. On it Nicola plays a heady mix of classics and new music, and you’re more than likely to come across something which is new to you. Exhibit A – in July she played Kapil Seshasayee‘s ‘The Agitprop’ from his forthcoming album A Sacred Bore. It sounds like Pre-Millennium Tension era Tricky meets early Human League, with Seshasayee’s soulful vocals to the fore, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting songs of the year so far. I can’t wait to hear the rest and what he does next. From A Sacred Bore, this is ‘The Agitprop’:
I wrote this review last as I want to get it right. It’s important to me. It’s never easy to follow-up a success, and that’s what Kathryn Joseph was faced with after her SAY Award winning record bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled. It was a record which shook Scottish music and to say it mattered to many is an understatement. Of course she’s been busy, among other things collaborating with R.M. Hubbert and working on the excellent Out Lines album Conflats, but her next solo record has been eagerly awaited.
That wait is over as From When I Wake The Want Is is now with us, and it’s been well worth it. Joseph’s music achieves the perfect balance between fragility and strength, and it makes the listener reflect on their own, and that is a rare achievement. There’s emotional truth and honesty, and a depth of feeling, which provokes a reaction that is visceral, and almost physical. It’s similar to the reaction I have reading Jenni Fagan‘s poetry, or Anneliese Mackintosh‘s stories. Kathryn Joseph is one of those musicians who comes along all too rarely and she should be celebrated and she should be cherished. From the album this is the title track, ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’:
That’s yer whack for this month. But come back soon for more of the best in new music…