Stranger Than Fiction: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Documentary Maker Lou McLoughlan…

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The latest podcast has Ali talking to director and cinematographer Lou McLoughlan. We could pretend that it has been perfectly timed to coincide with the first week of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, but in all honesty it’s an interview we’ve been trying to organise ever since watching Lou’s fantastic feature documentary 16 Years Till Summer, one of the best films of 2016.

You can read the Scots Whay Hae! review here, and see the trailer at the foot of this post, but it’s worth listening to the director talk about the making of it first as it will add to the viewing experience, and spoilers are carefully avoided.

The two also talk about the practicalities and difficulties of making documentaries, and then with getting them to an audience, particularly a Scottish one.

There is also chat about Scottish storytelling, the Highlands and Islands as a ‘seductive space’, the importance of music to a film, how filming real life will always offer up the unexpected, and much, much more. Continue reading

Last Night, They Said: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Last Night From Glasgow…

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Mark W. Georgsson: The Ballad Of The Nearly Man

In our first podcast of 2017, Ali talks to Ian Smith and Murray Easton, two of the founding members of record label Last Night From Glasgow.

Starting with their first release, Mark W. Georgsson’s single ‘The Ballad Of The Nearly Man’, they went on to give us some of the best records of 2016 from the likes of Emme Woods, Stephen Solo, Teen Canteen, Be Charlotte and BooHooHoo.

Along the way they have built up a loyal and faithful following all of whom who are made to feel part of the ever-growing LNFG family. Continue reading

Prestige & Prejudice: A Review Of Kevin MacNeil’s The Brilliant & Forever…*

6e359-kevinmacneilIt seemed apt to be reading Kevin MacNeil’s novel The Brilliant & Forever the week of the announcement of this year’s Man Booker Prize. The hoopla and hurrah that surrounds such awards was felt more keenly than usual due to Glasgow writer Graeme Macrae Burnet’s being shortlisted for the novel His Bloody Project, published by Scottish independent Saraband Books. As with those heady days when Scotland made football World Cup Finals, here was someone to cheer for.

With wall-to-wall media coverage, including prime-time TV shows detailing the runners and riders as well as the result, it can be argued that the importance of winning, or being listed, while understandable is out of proportion. The danger is that an award itself becomes more important than the books and the writing. But while the importance of the Man Booker, and others of its ilk, may appear to be increasing year on year it’s nothing when compared to the high-stakes involved with ‘The Brilliant & Forever’.

Tellingly set on an island, a place where “everyone – human and alpaca alike – wants to be a writer”, the novel’s title refers to a yearly literary event and competition “where reputations are made and writers unmade”. The stakes are high, and those nominated have to compete for a panel of judges, as well as the all-important ‘People’s Decision’. The whole population attends, and bets are placed on who wins, and who may lose. Continue reading

Scots Whay Hae!’s Alternative Hogmanay Night In, 2016…

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Once again Montgomery Scott raises a glass to see out the old year and ring in the new and that means it’s time for Scots Whay Hae!’s annual selection of New Year’s Eve treats. It’s an alternative to the Hogmanay telly, so if there’s little you fancy on the box this might be more to your liking.

There’s audio, video, music, comedy, documentary, drama, and more involving some of our favourite folk, including The Blue Nile, Robbie Coltrane, John Byrne, David Hayman, Ette, Peter Ross, The Primevals, and Lomond Campbell. That’s quite a lot to get through, so without further ado….

Perhaps the least surprising recommendation to regular readers will be journalist Ken Sweeney’s documentary on The Blue Nile (which he talked about in detail to the Glasgowist). He starts at the band’s very beginning, and tries to understand why, with a mere four albums to their name in 20 years, they are so beloved by some, yet unheard of or ignored by others. If you are in the latter camp and would like to know more about them then I can recommend Allan Brown’s Nileism: The Strange Course Of The Blue Nilebut not before you listen to the following – and, more importantly, their music. It just may change your life:

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That Was The Year That Was: It’s The Best Of 2016 Podcast – Part Two (Music)…

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year From Scots Whay Hae!

In this, Part II of our end of year podcast Ali, Chris and Wesley concentrate on the best music of 2016, both recorded and live. Even our sound-guru, Ian, chips in. It’s been a cracking year for new music. As you may suspect, we start with the best from Scotland before beginning a wide-ranging discussion as to what has been on offer from elsewhere.

As well as our personal choices we talk about the rise of rise of indie record labels and how important they have become. Names such as Olive Grove Records, Song, by Toad, Errant Media and Last Night From Glasgow are home to a lot of the music and musicians under discussion, which sort of makes our point for us. There is some annual Kanye chat, a tribute to Bowie, and we name Teen Canteen and Ette singer/songwriter Carla J. Easton as our Woman Of The Year for being involved in not one, but two of the best records of 2016. If you want to hear a lot of the music that we talk about, there is a Scots Whay Hay Best of 2016 Spotify Playlist.

In case you missed it, Part I looked back at film and books from the last 12 months, and you can still hear that now, as well as indulge yourself in our extensive back catalogue of over 70 podcasts.

If you aren’t yet a subscriber to the SWH! podcast you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes or by RSS. You can also download it by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

And that’s all from us in terms of podcasts for the year, although we are crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s on a few exciting ones for the new year. Before then there will be our alternative Hogmanay Hootenanny which will offer something different from the usual TV fare. All the best from Ian, Ali, Chris & Wesley. God bless us, everyone…

Poetry, Prose & Parasols: A Review Of Umbrellas Of Edinburgh…

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A good anthology is a wonderful thing, bringing together often diverse writers united under a theme or concept. I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading two very fine examples alongside one another, both of which use place as their subject, but the approach to the very different locations sets them apart and makes them interesting to compare.

One is The Book Of Iona, a collection edited by Professor Robert Crawford, which looks at the literary history as well as the geography of this iconic island, featuring writers as diverse as William Shakespeare, Sara Lodge, Edwin Morgan and Queen Victoria, and there will be a review of this in 2017.

The other is Umbrellas Of Edinburgh, and it concentrates on the there and now. The premise is simple, with various writers invited to “choose a location in Edinburgh and write about it.” What this allows is a wide range of voices and perspectives lending this book a variety which arguably gives the most complete and rounded depiction of this famous city to date. The more iconic landmarks and locations are present, but so are those places the tourists rarely tread. Continue reading

That Was The Year That Was: It’s The Best Of 2016 Podcast – Part One…

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Three Men & Some Books

For our end of year podcast, Ali and Ian were once again joined by irregular podcast guest and resident film expert Chris Ward and Scottish music man manager Wesley Shearer. As the coffee flowed so did the chat and in the end we ran well over the two hour mark, so we’ve decided to split the podcast into two parts.

This is Part I, where we concentrate on the films and books of 2016, and give you recommendations about the best of both. We also talk about the marketing of movies, why films and buffets don’t mix, the career of Isabelle Hupert, the importance of independent publishers, the welcome return of Alasdair Gray, James Kelman at 70 and much, much more.  We also name Booker shortlisted writer Graeme Macrae Burnet as our Man Of The Year. All that in just over an hour.

Part II will concentrate on all things musical, and will be in your inbox by Christmas Eve. Think of it as an early Christmas pressie – perfect for wrapping last-minute gifts to.

If you aren’t yet a subscriber to the SWH! podcast you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes or by RSS where there’s a sizeable back catalogue waiting for your listening pleasure.

You can also download it by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

We hope you enjoyed that and I’ll see you back here soon for Part II…

The Tracks Of My Year: SWH!’s 10 Best Songs Of 2016…

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Looking back, as is everyone’s wont at this time of year, two things in particular are striking about 2016 in music. There was the continued rise and success of the independent record label, especially Last Night From Glasgow, Song, by Toad, Olive Grove Records and Errant Media, and it was a year of classic albums, from the triumphant return of Teenage FanclubMogwai, King Creosote and Kid Canaveral, through the mostly excellent SAY Award nominees, to those released by the artists below.

These are our choices for the 10 best songs reviewed on these pages this year. As ever, it’s a list which focuses on individual tracks, but if you like what you hear you should investigate further as most of them are to be found on equally awesome albums.

If you aren’t sated by what follows you can discover more of the new music we covered on Scots Whay Hae! by listening to our Best of 2016 Spotify list.

But enough preamble, here’s the countdown listed in chronological order and what we thought about them at the time, with a few relevant updates…

Errant Boy – Black Dress, Black Cab

Errant Boy are another who have recently featured on those pages. That’s because we like to be surprised and delighted, and it appears that the ability to do both is in Errants Boy’s DNA. This is their latest single, ‘Black Dress, Black Cab’, and it demands repeated listenings as it takes you to different places every time. The song moves from menace to magic and back again in a single line, with layered acoustics and vocals which seem to pull you in opposite directions. It reminds me of The Woodentops in the sense that what you are listening to is way more complex than you initially believe, and that’s a great thing. I feel I could write a short essay on this song. I’ve been listening to it a lot. Can you tell?

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The Good Word: Scots Whay Hae!’s Best Books Of 2016…

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It’s the time for ‘Books Of The Year’ lists and we like to think that Scots Whay Hae!’s selection for 2016, while small, is beautifully formed and well worthy of your attention.

These are the books which stood out against a lot of stiff and perhaps better known competition. The list could have been longer but we like to stick to a traditional Top Ten. Consisting mostly of novels, with one remarkable collection of short stories, and one unforgettable musical (auto)biography, these are the books which have left their mark. Here’s what we thought at the time:

51xve7sbigl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Young Soul Rebels – Stuart Cosgrove

Stuart Cosgrove writes as he broadcasts – eloquently, forcefully and at pace, and as such he makes persuasive and forceful arguments. If you have a music fan in your life, then I would suggest this book is the perfect gift. If they are a soul fan, then it is a must. Anyone who has ever pored over liner notes, obsessed over b-sides, searched out limited editions and rarities, or cued hours for tickets or entry will recognise themselves at least in part on the page, no matter what their musical tastes. Stuart Cosgrove is here to remind you that while music may not be a matter of life and death (and there are poignant reminders of that in Young Soul Rebels) it certainly makes the former worth living. Continue reading

New Musical Success: The Best New Music From Autumn…

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As the nights draw in and the heating comes on, it’s a good time to begin to take stock of the year and how it is shaping up for music. Looking back over SWH!’s musical roundups of 2016 to date there is little doubt that it has been one of the most interesting and varied of recent times, and it  has no intention of stopping now.

So far the most notable rends have been left-field and/or ambient electronica, the reappearance of the singer/songwriter, the more traditional end of the folk spectrum, (great band name, ahoy!), and lashings of wonderful classic and classy pop music. The following roundup suggests that admittedly simplistic breakdown is not too far from the mark. It is also looking like the year the Scottish independent record label roared, (more of which at a later date), and there is further evidence of this in the music that follows.

First up we have the new album from The Furrow Collective, who set the bar high for contemporary trad/folk music, presenting their often dark material with wonderful understated playing and pin-sharp harmonies. The Collective are Rachel Newton, Emily Portman, Lucy Farell, and Alasdair Roberts (a previous podcast guest), and if you have felt in the past that folk music isn’t for you, and I know there are a few of you out there, then this is the record to change that. You want proof? Of course you do, so here they are with ‘Wild Hog In The Woods’ which also has perhaps the best video of the year:

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