I guess something was bound to give, and the musical roundup for February was one of those things as we just didn’t get around to posting it before now. For those waiting, especially the musicians featured, sincere apologies, but it’s here and now, and hopefully worth the wait as it features songs to make you think, to make you move, laugh, cry, and think again.
There are long and eagerly-awaited debuts, superb sophomore offerings, old friends doing new things, and new friends introducing themselves in style. Once again it highlights just how strong and diverse music is at the moment. If you don’t find something to love below then, quite frankly, and with respect, the problem may be yours.
We’re going to kick off with an album destined to be one of the best of this year, and for many to come. Spinning Coin are back with their second album, Hyacinth, and if you like your indie pop spiky, layered and lush then this is the record for you.
With memorable melodies and refrains, driven drums underpinning jangling guitars, and with Sean Armstrong’s unmistakeable vocals, it is simultaneously melancholy yet utterly joyous, and already sounds like a classic. This is an album you have been waiting for, even if you didn’t realise it. From Hyacinth this is ‘Ghosting’.
We are always looking for new and exciting music, and that’s why we have fallen hard for our friends, the dead, the new project from Ronan Francis Doran. The ‘spilled wine’ EP showcases his offbeat and striking songs. The influences are the best of Americana alt-country – Callahan, Kozlek, Oldham and Merritt to name just a few – with the introduction of jazz rhythms and beat lyrics which bring to mind mid-period Tom Waits and even the good Captain Beefheart. It’s a heady mix which stands apart from anything else out there, and is all the better for it. This is ‘spilled wine‘.
While we’re talking jazz, the quality of the music being made in Scotland right now is quite astonishing. We have featured bands and musicians such as Megan Airlie, Fat-suit, Kitti, Timmy Allen, and Angus Munro, on these pages before, and there are others who will undoubtedly feature in the near future (including later in this review).
The next to do so are Mezcla, whose album Shoot The Moon is out now. The music is classic jazz-funk with the focus on the former, bringing to mind the ’80s albums of Miles Davis, the brothers Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and even the legendary Roy Ayers. If you aren’t familiar with their work then it’s no problem. Have a listen to Mezcla’s recent single ‘Volta‘ which shows their incredible musicianship at its finest.
Fife soul/funk band The Passing Sages would have been right at home on the stage of Studio 54, fitting a set inbetween The Pointer Sisters and Diana Ross. Their dedication and determination to make great dance music is clear, and they won’t be happy until you too clap your hands and stamp your feet.
The single ‘Destiny’ is the perfect example of this. It’s one of those tracks which works its way into your head and heart and refuses to leave. As close to a musical guarantee to lift spirits as I can think of, it feels like this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. You dancing?
We’re staying on the dancefloor with SWH! favourites HYTTS who have had their track ‘Bullet’ remixed by Paul Woolford, and it will take many back to the great House records of the late -’80s & ’90s, when few looked good on the dancefloor and just didn’t care. Capturing the euphoria of a great night out (or in!) it’s rare for a record to take you back, way back, yet still feel completely contemporary and fresh but that’s what HYTTS have managed to do. Tune in, turn on, and drop out.
A night spent in the company of Tom McGuire and the Brassholes is one of the finer things in life as they have quickly gained the well-deserved reputation as one of the best live bands around. If, and when, you get the chance to see them play then don’t miss out as their brand of funk-fusion is as exciting as it is unexpected, with no two gigs the same, and their love of playing clear for all to see.
The recent single ‘Caveman‘ sees them in more reflective mood than usual, with no mentions for the likes of ‘Rad Santa’ or ‘Ric Flair’. It’s at the more soulful end of what they do, and showcases McGuire’s soaring vocals to full effect. The Brassholes sing the blues, and it’s rarely sounded as affecting. Are you ready to be heartbroken?
SWH! are going to make the claim that Steven Lindsay is one of the great Scottish singers and we’re about to give you a strong argument as to why that is, but if you want proof here and now go straight to the video below as it makes the point better than anyone ever could.
Lead singer with The Big Dish, one Scotland’s finest from the 1980s and contemporaries of Friends Again, Love & Money, The Bathers, and Hipsway, (to name just a few), Lindsay later went on to release two of the most underrated albums of the ’00s in Exit Music and Kite, recordings with which every music lover should be familiar.
Lindsay is just one of the incredible line-up of guest vocalists on Paul McGeechan’s second Starless album, Earthbound, which will be out on Last Night From Glasgow in May, and which promises to be exceptional. Here is Lindsay covering his own song ‘Breakdown’. And I would just like to say – we told you.
Talking of great singers, we are going to end this review in some style. The term ‘eagerly awaited’ is one which you often see used, and overused, in reviews just like this one, but whenever you spoke to fellow followers of Scottish music over the last few years a name kept cropping up again and again when discussing whose music we were all waiting for. The name was Cara Rose.
One of the most engaging and charismatic live performers around, Cara Rose has been honing her craft live over the years with songs that are clearly personal and which evince an honesty and depth of feeling that is rare. Then you have that voice – a thing of beauty which hints at strength and fragility at the same time. This is the debut single ‘Learn To Speak‘, and, boy, has it been worth the wait.
March’s review will swiftly follow from this one, this time on time – we promise. In the meantime you can keep up with the best new music on a weekly basis with the SWH! Radio New Music Monday Playlist which is posted every Monday, 5pm. Always good, and often great, it’s the soundtrack your week deserves.