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

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Most of our music reviews are a mixed bag when it comes to style and content, but the one you are about to experience definitely has a theme. It features great singers and great songs – deceptively simple yet they are all the more powerful for the manner they are produced and presented. This is music which stays with you longer after the last note sounds. Put simply, all of the people you are about to hear – they mean it, man.

Stay on till the end for a bonus track which is a fitting conclusion to this review. It’s not just thrown together, you know…

Alasdair Roberts has featured on these pages many times before, either for one of his many solo projects or in collaboration with others, such as with Ross Whyte, and The Furrow Collective. The latest of the latter sees him alongside composer Amble Skuse and Concerto Caledonia head-honcho David McGuinness for the album What News which the three played in full at the launch at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe. Roberts is known for staying faithful to the folk traditions, but this latest record, with McGuinness’s wonderful piano and Skuse’s understated electronica, breathes new life into old songs.

To my untutored ear, there is something about the loops of all three which works together beautifully – the structure and format of the ballads enhanced and developed by the new accompaniment, and lending the stories themselves extra strength and vigour. Whatever the reason, the result is a quite remarkable record – one of the best of the year, and one of the best of Roberts’ career to date. I urge you to seek it out, and if you get the chance to see them live then make sure you book your seats in good time. To give you a taste as to what to expect, this is ‘The Fair Flower Of Northumberland’:

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The Hills Are Alive: Hit The North For Gigs At The Gallery…

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Want to see some of your favourite musicians in one of the most beautiful locations in Scotland? I know I do, and now we both can as The Braemar Gallery will be host to a series of gigs in the second half of 2017. After the success of the appearance of WHYTE, other musicians have decided that the idea of playing intimate gigs against the backdrop of Royal Deeside is too good an opportunity to pass up.

They begin with Mark W. Georgsson and Barrie-James on the 26th July. Mark has featured in a few of SWH!’s musical roundups, and Barrie-James O’Neill will be known to many as the one-time singer of Kassidy. Together they promise to kick off the Gigs in the Gallery in style. As a taste, here’s Mark with ‘A Banjo Lament’:

Next, on August 2nd, Louise Bichan and Conor Hearn are in town. Conor is perhaps best know as one-third of Maryland based TriHearn, a trio which also includes his siblings Caitlin and Brendan, and it’s a real treat to have him playing some Scottish shows. Louise’s Out Of My Own Light album is one of the best of the last 12 months, and was rightly long-listed for this year’s SAY Award. Here is just a sample of the beautiful music you can expect:

On September 11th, US indie musician and comic book artist Jeffrey Lewis will appear with The Burning Hell. This is a rare chance to see a genuine musical pioneer who has influenced some of the your favourite musicians, you just may not realise it. A modern day Jonathan Richman, Lewis is one not to miss. Here he is with ‘Broken, Broken, Broken, Heart’:

Scottish musicians Salt House will be in the house on October 26th with their fantastic brand of alt-folk music. This promises to be the perfect mix of music and venue, as their sound is a blend of contemporary and traditional, much like the Braemar Gallery itself. Here they are with ‘The Road Not Taken’:

Lizabett Russo is another who has featured on the pages of SWH! before, with her album The Burning Mountain featuring in the best of 2016 music roundup. She’ll be appearing with one of Scotland’s greatest guitarists, and best-kept musical secrets, Graeme Stephen on 24th November. This will prove to be a night to remember, so get in early for tickets. To whet your appetite, here’s the title track of ‘The Burning Mountain’:

Finally for 2017, at least at the time of writing, Alasdair Roberts returns to Braemar on December 1st for a gallery gig. He was there in the summer of 2015 in collaboration with Ross Whyte for The New Approaches To Traditional Music project. A musician who is much in demand, it’s always a treat to see and hear Alasdair play. Here he is with ‘Pangs’, from his 2017 album of the same name:

I hope you agree that these are events which are well worth the extra effort to get to, and I hope to see a few of you there.

For further information you can follow Braemar Gallery on Facebook and Twitter, and can reserve tickets by emailing info @braemargallery.co.uk

If you can’t make any of them this time around then dinnae fash – there are due to be further Gigs in the Gallery in 2018.

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January Jonesing: The Best New Music From Last Month…

Some of Scots Whay Hae!’s favourite bands brought out brand new material last month, many of whom have appeared on these pages before, but I make no apologies for this…although even typing that sentence feels like doing just that.

In the last few years January has become a surprisingly good month for new music, when previously it was hard to find. Whatever the reason for this, it’s good news for the soundtrack to cold winter nights. In this month’s roundup there is music to match the weather, some to get you through the arse end of winter, and even some with a reminder of what summer’s all about; something to match all moods and tastes.

First off, we have a new solo record from Alasdair Roberts, (with a fine portrait from fellow Alasdair, Gray, on the cover). In recent years, Roberts has probably been better known for his collaborations with the likes of The Furrow Collective, Robin Robertson, R.M. Hubbert, and many, many more from what must be a substantial phone book. Last year he featured on the Scots Whay Hae! podcast with another collaborator, the composer Ross Whyte, and you can still hear their chat here. Continue reading