Beat The January Rhythm & Blues: A Preview Of Celtic Connections 2019…

“January, month of empty pockets! Let us endure this evil month…”, to quote the French writer Sidonie Gabrielle Colette (currently appearing at a cinema near you). This may be a touch dramatic, but you know what she’s getting at. For me, a year doesn’t get going properly til Celtic Connections begins. A festival that never fails to deliver, and which continues to grow in terms of number of gigs, breadth of music, and stature.

This year’s headliners and more well-kent attendees include Blue Rose Code, Judy Collins, Mariza, Sharon Shannon, Mull Historical Society, Rachel Sermanni & Jarlath Henderson, Seth Lakeman, and Karine Polwart, Kris Drever & Scottish Chamber Orchestra. There are also nights featuring or celebrating musical legends, including Ronnie Spector & The RonettesVan Morrison, John Martyn, Loudon Wainwright III, and, covering many of your favourite songs, Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook.

However, and as ever, we’d like to point you in the direction of lesser known gems which can be found at the festival. Some of the names below you may recognise from our regular music reviews, and they all are deserving of your attention. Each one promises an unforgettable night, and what more can you ask for in these early days of 2019?

You can peruse the full programme at your leisure at Celtic Connections, and receive all the up-to-date news by following the festival on Twitter, and Facebook.  But before you rush away here is the Scots Whay Hae! guide, (complete with links to further details + tickets). We’re calling it ‘the best of the rest of the fest’…

GOOSEBUMPS: 25 Years of Marina Records (Krach Auf Wiedersehen!) and Fenella

A Wesley Chung and Caitlin Buchanan

Last Night From Glasgow: The Gracious Losers and L-space (acoustic)

The Sweetheart Revue and Headcloud

Zoe Graham and John Edge & The Kings of Nowhere

Withered Hand

Broken Chanter and Jill O’Sullivan

Henry & Fleetwood

Carla J. Easton and Mark McGowan

Andrew Wasylyk and support

Olive Grove Records Showcase: Chrissy Barnacle, Pocket Knife, Moonsoup, Circle Meets Dot and Jared Celosse

Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert with Marry Waterson & Emily Barker

Hope to see you at at least one of the above…

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

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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… Continue reading

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

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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 residency 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…

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These music roundups often seem to throw up themes which are unintentional, but undeniable all the same. This latest batch of songs, when taken together, engender a reflective and almost melancholic mood, something which probably says more about your reviewer than the music itself. Again there is proof that singer/songwriters are in the ascendency, with a few band contributions to balance things out. But whether it’s folk, pop, indie rock, acoustic or electric, all of the following would be at home on an album called Now That’s What I Call Slightly Pensive Yet Still Sanguine

Zoe Bestel’s album Transcience came out last month on Last Night From Glasgow, and it’s rarely been off the SWH! turntable since. It’s a collection of songs which are aching in their beauty and fragility, yet there is a core strength and assuredness which makes you feel, if just while the record plays, that everything really is for the best in this best of all possible worlds, despite evidence to the contrary.

Musically, there are similarities with Stina Nordenstam, Emiliana Torrini, early Laura Veirs and late period Kate Bush, but Zoe Bestel is as original as they come, and as comfortable in her music as she is breathing. There is no artifice in evidence, just songs where the key is life. From Transcience, this is ‘Grey Skies’, and it makes all the above points, and more, better than I could ever manage:

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

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The hope is always that our monthly music reviews offer something of interest to all, but, without wanting to go overboard (although, “Why stop now?”, you may ask), this has been perhaps the most enjoyable to put together due to so much good music being released in the last month. It may be the multivitamins talking, but it feels like this could be the best New Musical Success…ever!

It’s certainly been difficult to reach a final eight. There’s some great tracks which just missed out, but hopefully that makes the final cut all the better. Featuring firm SWH! favourites, and with the warmest of welcomes to old friends and new, if there is a unifying theme to the music featured it is one of hope in these most difficult of times, and that should gladden your heart. But enough of this preamble – let the hyperbole begin!

Regular readers will know that our love for all things L-Space knows no bounds. They are a band who seem incapable of making anything other than magical music – a place where classic electronic pop meets the future. Their sound is as much influenced by movie soundtracks as other bands, lending it an epic, expansive feel which makes them stand out from the crowd. With each new release they give a glimpse of what is promising to be a wonderful bigger picture in the shape of their first album, due to be released on Last Night From Glasgow later in the year.

The latest single ‘Suneaters’ is the perfect example of this. Sci-fi dream pop at its finest, while it stands alone as a great single, when added to what has gone before, and what is surely to come, it only confirms L-Space as a band to see us through tough times. I’m a believer:

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

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This has been a summer of unexpected treats and great new music from the well-kent and the brand new. What you are about to listen to shows this off to full effect, but then we would say that. Suffice to say that it is all killer, no filler, and this list could have been twice the length it is. However, we prefer to keep things short and sweet.

To kick us off, it’s our album of the month, and one of the best of the year. It’s Sister John’s Returned From Sea, and it’s a delight from start to finish – a proper album where each track feeds into and enhances the rest. Comparisons can be made with the albums of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, but I was also put in mind of Conor Oberst, Micah P Hinson and even Joan Baez. If the music which has become know as Americana is your sort of thing then Sister John are the band for you. But you don’t need to take my word for it as they are undergoing a short tour, with The Braemar Gallery gig promising to be extra special, so get tickets while you can. In the meantime, this is ‘He Came Down’:

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

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The new music which made its way our way over the last month is as eclectic and unpredictable as the summer itself. There’s classic pop, alt rock, new wave, old faves, and some very welcome “new to SWH!” bands as well. It all adds up to a rather exciting soundtrack, one which will work especially well for those of you tramping up and down the streets of Edinburgh as many do this time of year. If that applies to you then SWH!’s Pick of The Fringe and Pick of The Book Festival may be of interest.

But no matter where you find yourself we hope you enjoy what you’re about to hear. Make sure you stay with it to the bottom of the page for not only one of the best songs of the summer, but a video which is a work of art in its own right.

We begin with Radiophonic Tuckshop, who are perhaps best described as an indie-pop supergroup with members whose roll call of bands includes Ette, The Martial Arts, The Owsley Sunshine, The Fast Camels and more. Their EP Running Commentary is out on Last Night From Glasgow. The title track shows that these are musicians steeped in the history of pop – opening with power chords which immediately give the listener context bringing to mind everyone from The Kinks to The Cars. The song moves on to channel Beatles and Beach Boys, but also classic Stiff Records artists such as Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and Elvis Costello. Radiophonic Tuckshop take all of their influences to make music which simultaneously sounds classic yet utterly contemporary. This is ‘Running Commentary’:

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

a4212747351_10Rounding up a year’s music, as we did in December, makes it feel like each year is self contained and we start afresh all over again, but in reality the music never stops and thank your lord for that. If January was anything to go by 2017 is going to be just as diverse and exciting as 2016 was, with this roundup featuring indie, pop, lo-fi electronica, alt-country and some amazing metal. As long as it’s good, it’ll find a home here.

Exhibit A. We’ve been waiting for new music from Campfires In Winter for what seems like an age, but I am delighted to say it has been well worth the wait. Appearing at the end of last year, ‘Free Me From The Howl’ is the first track from their soon to be released  debut album Ischaemia. It’s driven by a three pronged attack of drums, bass and guitar all of which support Robert Canavan’s plaintive vocals which are a perfect match to the lovelorn lyrics. It’s one of those records which helps to make sense of broken hearts and lost love – which we all need in our collection. And if you don’t right now, you will someday. It’s also got one of the best videos I have seen in some time:

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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

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…