New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

41991035_634367113627219_1117289214673682432_n.jpg

It’s been a hell of a year for Scottish music so far, with many, many great albums (from the likes of Zoe Bestel, Roberts/Skuse/McGuinness, Modern Studies, The Scottish Enlightenment, Kathryn Joseph, L-Space, The Gracious Losers, Carla J. Easton, Starry Skies, & I could go on) and with the promise of more on the way. There’s also been a fantastic SAY Awards, all of the incarnations of Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop (exhibition, book, radio, TV and podcast), and then there’s the recent announcement of the nominees for the SAMA Awards, which again show the depth and breadth of talent around.

Add to that some amazing live gigs and we can only reach the conclusion that we are in something of a Golden Age. The music you’re about to hear only makes that argument stronger. It’s a mixture of the new to SWH! and the welcome return of old favourites, just as it should be. There is diversity, style and craft on show – and an unshakeable sense that for most of them they are only just getting started. This is the story…

We’re going to open with Hairband. If they are not the best live band in Scotland at the moment, then they are so close as to require a photo finish. With their self-titled debut EP out on Monorail Records they prove that their inimitable sound works just as well recorded. It is a sublime record – funky indie-pop which is tight yet loose, and harmonious in every sense of the word. This is clearly a band having the time of their lives playing together. Put simply, Hairband make the world a better place to be, and don’t we all need that right now? From Hairband, this is ‘Flying’:

Every so often a record arrives which takes your breath away, and that was the case with Vive La Rose‘s album For She Who Hangs The Moonso much so that I got in touch with David Luximon-Herbert (for it is he) to arrange to record a podcast as I want to discuss this beautiful music that he has made. If something can be said to be an instant classic then For She Who Hangs The Moon is exactly that.

Soulful, bittersweet, fragile, yet with a power that is undeniable – it’s similar in tone to the music of Blue Rose Code, Boo Hewerdine, and even Martin Stephenson (with or without the Daintees). As I said at the top of the page, this has been an incredible year for Scottish music, and albums in particular, but this may just be the best of the bunch. From For She Who Hangs The Moon this is ‘Schiehallion’, but believe me – it is only a small, if perfectly formed, part of the bigger story:

There are few people’s musical opinions who I respect more than Podcart’s Halina Rafai, so when she suggested I listen to OK Button‘s debut single ‘The Message’ there was no fear at all that it was going to be anything other than excellent. It’s ethereal electropop with a sting in the tale, and reminds me of some of my favourite records of the ’90s and ’00s. There’s some Morcheeba, a little Zero 7, early Goldfrapp, & Nightmares on Wax, but it’s fresh as an April morning. One listen will not be enough, trust me. I’m well into double figures, and it’s not going to stop there.

Sometimes you hear one song from a band and you just know that we are in for something very special indeed. In recent times that has happened with SWH! favourites L-Space and Half Formed Things, and was proved right with both. I feel exactly the same way about ‘The Message’ and OK Button. But listen for yourself and you’ll see I’m no’ havering:

Next up are Pelts and their double A-Side single ‘Who Could Love Me Now?/Another Place’, two great tracks which show that this is a band who understand exactly who they are, and what they do. And they do it so well. There’s the classic Glasgow indie dream pop of Camera Obscura, The Pastels, The Gentle Waves, but also wider influences such as Trembling Blue Stars, Tallulah Gosh and Mojave 3. Look at those names – I don’t use them lightly, but it proves that Pelts are doing something very special indeed. This is ‘Who Could Love Me Now?’, but please go and listen to ‘Another Place’ as well. Don’t miss out:

Returning to these pages after too long away, Gary Stewart is back with a new album Oh My Weary WorldAs he proved previously with Mr​.​Gary Stewart & The Tin Foil Collective he is one of the finest singer-songwriters around, with a classic style reminiscent of Paul Simon, James Taylor, Neil Young, Jackson Browne – only the very best.

The title track, ‘Oh My Weary World’ is out now, and it gives you a taste of the rest of the record which is just packed with great songs, each one as good as the next. For those of you as yet unfamiliar with Gary Stewart’s work, this could just be the start of a beautiful relationship. This is ‘Oh My Weary World’:

One of the best gigs of last month was one of Last Night From Glasgow’s now legendary evenings. They put on three of their acts at Glasgow’s Old Hairdressers as part of the ‘3 Bands Tour‘ to promote single releases from the aforementioned L-Space, the equally fabulous Cloth, and in between the two were Domiciles, one of the latest LNFG signings (although it’s not easy to keep up with that situation at the moment!). It was a phenomenal night, with very different bands complementing each other perfectly.

Around a year ago SWH!’s Braemar branch got in touch to say we had to listen to Domiciles as they were the best new band they had heard in ages. They were right. Their sound plays with loops, effects and rhythms (they have the best drummer I have seen in some time), and they bring to mind early Verve, Chapterhouse, and the mighty Ride, sending me back to listen to all three. This is music to lose yourself in, and here’s ‘Only You‘ to prove it. Great music will always win out, and that’s what Domiciles are all about:

Raise your glasses and let the sky be black with hats for Beerjacket has returned, and the 0014433979_10fact that he is releasing his latest album Silver Cords on Scottish Fiction as a CD, but also with an accompanying book, (right) – well, nothing makes us happier. The first song released from it is ‘Cord‘ and from the opening familiar guitar sound and Peter Kelly’s unmistakable vocals it’s like he has never been away.

As you’ll have seen already we like to offer musical comparisons to give you an idea as to what a song or band sound like. Well ‘Cord’ sounds like no one else but Beerjacket, so the simplest thing to do is listen for yourself and find out just what that means. This is ‘Cord’:

You can contact SWH! in a multitude of ways to tell us about your music, most of which are listed somewhere to the right of this review. I promise we will always get back to you, even if it takes a while. Blaire Mackenzie did just that on Facebook. He’s the drummer with Gordon James and The Power and he thought we might like their new single ‘In Beauty & Form’. He was right, and so will you.

It’s a heartbreaking song which more than matches its enigmatic title. With harmonies, wonderful acoustics and precision playing all round, it sounds at once timeless but unlike what anyone else is doing at the moment, and that’s a very good thing. It’s also the perfect place to end such a varied and righteous music review as it will send you on your way with a skip in your step and a song in your heart. This song, to be precise – this is ‘In Beauty & Form’ and it’s gorgeous:

That’s yer whack for this month, but come back soon when more new music will be waiting for you…

The Music Man: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Vic Galloway…

DomOgcBWwAAmJh6.jpg-large.jpegFor our 100th podcast we thought long and hard about who to ask and we kept coming back to one name, Mr Vic Galloway. With the recent publication of his superb book Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop, written to coincide with the National Museum of Scotland’s exhibition and the TV show of the same name, it seems fitting to talk to a man who helps shape the nation’s musical tastes.

Ali headed down Leith Walk to one of Edinburgh’s finest live venues and bars, The Leith Depot, to meet Vic and what followed was a fascinating chat about the genesis of the book, the structure, what Vic wanted to achieve and if he believes he did so, the joys of  record shops, the spirit of radio, the importance of indie record labels, the SAY Awards, and so much more – including mentions for The Dog Faced Hermans and TTF!

Vic’s radio shows, along with those of Roddy Hart and Nicola Meighan, are a sign of just how healthy the state of the nation is musically, and it was an absolute pleasure to talk all about it. We hope you enjoy  listening to the chat as much as we did recording it.

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back catalogue of podcasts for you to discover (99, to be exact). If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). You can also download the podcast 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:

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to listen to any of our 100 podcasts.

Tour De Force: A Review Of Scottish Opera’s Opera Highlights…

Opera-Highlights-image-900x540.jpg

For the last few years Scottish Opera have been taking to the highways and byways of Scotland with their Opera Highlights show. Last night was the premiere of the 2018 show, and it’s safe to say that they have surpassed themselves, with director Daisy Evans putting together the perfect programme to introduce opera to those who may not be familiar with the genre, while keeping the die-hard fans happy – and how.

The structure could not have been more suitable. A lone woman (non-singing actor Hannah Birkin) sits on stage at her laptop as the audience enter. The music began with an eclectic and entertaining run through a selection of tunes played by Jonathon Swinard, the show’s musical director. Then the four singers arrived, dressed unmistakably in the individual colours of the Google sign. They take the mystery woman, and the audience, through a tour de force of opera, answering, as they go, the most commonly asked questions by those for whom the ways of opera are a mystery.

The promise of a mixture of the old and new was upheld, with works from the well kent likes of Mozart, Handel, Beethoven, Britten, and Gilbert & Sullivan, but also a new work from Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Samuel Bordoli. The performances, from Soprano Sofia TroncosoMezzo-soprano Sarah Champion, Tenor Richard Pinkstone, and Baritone Dawid Kimberg, were superb across the board. It is incredibly moving, and exciting, to be in a small theatre when talent like this is on stage. You realise that it is not simply the singing which makes a great opera singer, it is in the acting and the interaction, with each other but, most importantly, with the audience.

Handling the comedy and tragedy, and everything in between, in fine style, these performers had their audience in the palms of their collective hands. There were laughs, tears, and at times a revered silence with nary a rustle of a caramel wrapper to break the spell. I have seen the last two Opera Highlights shows, and this was the best yet. The good news is, wherever you are in the country, you don’t need to miss out as they head from Glasgow to hit the road, starting in Ayr on the 22nd. For the full list of dates, and how to buy tickets, go to the bottom of this page. Opera Highlights was the most fun I’ve had in a theatre for some time and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here’s the trailer to explain more:

You can follow Scottish Opera in all the usual ways, on FacebookInstagram,  TwitterYoutube and, most appropriately, Spotify.

Here are some images from the show, with thanks to Scottish Opera and Credit to Sally Jubb Photography:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

OPERA HIGHLIGHTS – Touring Scotland Autumn 2018 

Gaiety Theatre AYR Sat 22 Sep BOOK TICKETS

Craigmonie Centre DRUMNADROCHIT Tue 25 Sep BOOK TICKETS

Wick High School WICK Thu 27 Sep BOOK TICKETS

Forres Town Hall  FORRES Sun 30 Sep BOOK TICKETS

The Macphail Centre ULLAPOOL Tue 2 Oct BOOK TICKETS

An Lanntair STORNOWAY Thu 4 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Aros Centre PORTREE Sat 6 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Memorial Hall LANARK Tue 9 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Victoria Hall Helensburgh HELENSBURGH Thu 11 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Gardyne Theatre DUNDEE Sat 13 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Inverurie Town Hall INVERURIE Tue 16 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Mearns Academy LAURENCEKIRK Thu 18 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Joan Knight Studio, Perth Theatre PERTH Sat 20 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Theatre Royal Dumfries DUMFRIES Tue 23 Oct BOOK TICKETS

The Brunton MUSSELBURGH Thu 25 Oct BOOK TICKETS

The Byre Theatre ST ANDREW Sat 27 Oct BOOK TICKETS

Pop Life: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Carla J. Easton…

a4136536009_10.jpg

For the latest SWH! podcast Ali caught up with musician Carla J. Easton to talk about her new album Impossible Stuff, which is released on the 5th October on Olive Grove Records.

As well as explaining the Canadian roots of the record, and how time spent in residencyimgID106497291.jpg.gallery there changed her life, she also talks about the importance of home, her many collaborations, her musical history, Teen Canteen (right), Ette, and the documentary she is working on with Blair Young about women pioneers of Scottish pop.

Carla is one of the most innovative and interesting musicians working today and it was a pleasure to talk to her and get a better understanding of how and why she does what she does. If you love music you just have to take a listen, but it’s also a fascinating insight as to what is involved in the artistic process. Continue reading

New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

image2.jpg

The evocative seasonal change from summer to autumn needs a suitable soundtrack to match, and I think SWH! can provide just that. It’s another strong selection which once again proves that we are living in good times when it comes to Scottish music. We have the return of old friends under new names, debut appearances, new discoveries, and the reissue of a lost classic. Coming from all over Scotland there’s electronica, indie pop & rock, Americana, country, soul, harmonies and heartbreak, and some of the finest songwriting you’ll find anywhere. If any or all of that appeals to you, read on…

Allan J. Swan has been making music for many years in various shapes and sizes, not least with the mighty, and much missed, YAK. His latest release comes under the wonderfully monikered Bang Bang Cannoli. The album is called Something Better, and this first release, ‘Oblivion Now’, is a taste of what’s to come. An old school electronic track which gently builds, adding strings and drums as it does so, with Swan’s understated and plaintive vocals, it’s where Vangelis meets Aidan Moffat, or if Tangerine Dream were fronted by Stuart Braithwaite. Swan identifies himself as “..one of many bald beardy suicidally depressed men that has blundered about in the Glasgow music scene for the last 20 years.” There may be many, but few make music as good as this. This is ‘Oblivion Now’:

Continue reading

Scots Whay Hae! Presents… Starry Skies’ new single & video, ‘Starry Skies’

ss_ss.jpg

Against all odds, and just when we need it most, kindness is having a welcome renaissance, at least in terms of our culture. At this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, talking about his collection of essays The Passion Of Harry Bingo, journalist Peter Ross explained that the key to his work is kindness. He never belittles or condescends to those who he writes about, no matter how alternative their lifestyles or interests may appear. From S&M clubs to the subject of self-harm, Ross approaches his interviewees from a position of empathy and understanding.

It’s refreshing to hear, and other examples can be found in the work of Grammy winning singer/producer Adam Bainbridge, who is better know as Kindness, and in recent books by Helen Taylor and Helen McClory. What unites them is a desire to understand the choices and lifestyles of others, and include them in any conversation – benevolance without patronization. In short, and in the words of Abraham Lincoln, the theme is, “Be excellent to each other”.

To those you can add the forthcoming Starry Skies’ album Be Kind which is out in UnknownOctober on Fox Star Records. Starry Skies are a bit of a Supergroup, as well as a super group, with members of Sister John, The Gracious Losers, and Attic Lights involved, as well as a various guest appearances when playing live. They are ably led by singer-songwriter Warren McIntyre,  a man who has played with legendary bands The Ducks, The Moondials, and many more. This is a band of multi-talents who come together to make a greater whole. Continue reading

New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

e083bf7b3cf900da6ea545d654fe440eb33926ca.jpeg

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’:

Continue reading

The Write Stuff: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 (+1) Picks Of The Edinburgh International Book Festival…

programme_cropped.png

From the 11th – 27th August in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square Gardens (and George Street) once again becomes the place for book lovers to meet, greet, and be merry as the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes up its annual residence. It’s always an oasis of calm and conversation in a city gone daft, and it is one of SWH!’s favourite places to be.

There’s a lot of great events to choose from, so to help you find something just for you here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten Picks of what to see at this year’s book festival (with a bonus extra because you’re special).

67dac432Robin Robertson, Sat 11 Aug 12:00 – 13:00 – The Spiegeltent
A renowned poet whose work often hauntingly evokes the lives of Scottish outsiders, Robin Robertson strikes out with a breathtaking new project, The Long Take. In this verse novel, Walker is a war veteran from Nova Scotia who sets out for Los Angeles in 1948. Robertson’s book demonstrates the origins of ‘noir’, presented here with period filmic and musical accompaniment.

And you can read the SWH! review of The Long Take here. Continue reading

Fine & Dandy: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Visits Aberdeen…

sdr

Charley, Jon, Shane, Ali, & a hawk

After our recent Dundee podcast Ali moves up the coast to Aberdeen to talk to Charley Buchan from Fitlike Records (as recently featured on Radio 4’s Notes From A Musical Island), writer Shane Strachan, and arts blogger Jon Reid, otherwise known as Mood Of Collapse,

The three talk about the changes in, and challenges for, Aberdeen’s arts and cultural community, the influence of the city’s educational and civic insitutions, the importance of spaces and places, graduate and talent drain, what inspires them to do what they do, and their hope for what happens next. It’s an impassioned and inspiring chat about the past, present and future for the arts in Aberdeen.

During the hour there are mentions for Nuart Aberdeen, Gray’s School Of ArtJamie Dyer, 10Ft Tall Theatre, Painted Doors, Fat Hippy Records, Kathryn Joseph, Aberdeen Art Gallery, University of Aberdeen’s Creative Writing MLitt, the SAY Award long-listed Best Girl Athlete, Peacock Visual Arts, The Lemon Tree, The Blue Lamp, Iona Fyfe, and many more. Thanks to artist Mary Butterworth for putting up with us and taking the picture at the top of the page, and to Charley for being the perfect host. Continue reading

This Is The Story: A Review Of Vic Galloway’s Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop…

DSC_0792.jpg

Currently running at The National Museum of Scotland is Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop exhibition, on till the 25th November this year. It’s an admirably exhaustive celebration of Scottish pop from the ’50s till the present day. With a wide range of exhibits, memorabilia and video footage, I highly recommend anyone with an interest attend, but make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to take it all in. There are also related events throughout its run, including Key Note Sessions, Film Showings, Free Fringe Music, some Late-Night’s at the museum, as well as various playlists put together by the great and the good for your pleasure.

To accompany the exhibition Vic Galloway has written a book of the same name, and there is surely no one better placed to do so. It would have been easy to put together a “Scottish Pop by numbers” publication that does little more than name names and places, but Galloway is too steeped in the music – too much of a fan – to do that. This is his world and he wants to share it with you.

The book is an unashamed celebration of the music which has provided the soundtrack to much of our lives, one which is packed full of incidents and anecdotes, and even if you know some of the story I guarantee you won’t know it all. It was the earlier years of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, which was mostly new to me, and it was fascinating to learn more about Lonnie Donnegan, Frankie Miller, Stone The Crows, and the early careers of Alex Harvey and Rab Noakes, as well as hearing about The Beatstalkers, The McKinleys and The Sutherland Brothers for the first time. Continue reading