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

a3916926716_16Every summer needs a great soundtrack, and this year’s starts right here and now. The following review is an eclectic mix which includes the welcome return of the firmest of favourites when it comes to indie-pop, melancholic electronic beauty, harmonies to die for, potential global pop/rock anthems, singer/songwriting at its very finest, and some intriguing spoken word from one of Scotland’s best writers. If you don’t find something for you then you might just be in the wrong place, but trust me…you will.

We are going to start with the welcome return of BMX Bandits with their album Forever. For the last 30 years their music has been, in this ever-changin’ world in which we live in, one of the few things on which you can rely. The BMX Bandits have been responsible for so many great songs and records that some may be in danger of taking them for granted. Let’s not, as this is music which is timeless and to be treasured.

From the opener ‘My Girl Midge’ we are back in Duglas T. Stewart’s world where love is looked at from all angles – on-high, down-low, and everywhere in-between. It’s where hopeless romantics have their hearts mended, broken, and mended once more to a soundtrack with melodies which Bacharach and David would die for, and with Chloe Philip’s vocals and keyboards adding another dimension to make the music even richer. Other highlights are ‘Love Me ‘Til My Heart Stops’, ‘How Not To Care’, a wonderful version of ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story, and the beautiful ‘That Lonely Feeling’ which you can hear right here and now. Out now, BMX Bandits’ Forever is already one of the albums of the year. Don’t miss out:

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New Musical Success: The Best New Music From The Last Month…

star-500x500As William Michael Albert Broad would put it, “It’s hot in the city…tonight”, and there is little doubt that can have an effect on your listening habits. But it’s not all pinky blue skies and sunshine supermen in terms of what’s made the roundup of the best new music from the last month.

There is a reassuring balance between light and shade, which might lead the naive to believe that these roundups were not just thrown together, but were, in fact carefully planned and curated.

First off we have a strong contender for album of the year. Due to such ephemeral matters as questions of personal taste, it may not be your album of the year, but I can guarantee you that when the nights are fair drawing in it will remain one of mine.

Imagine someone writes a collection of poignant and moving songs, then gets some of your favourite singers to sing them, and what you have is the new R.M. Hubbert album Telling The Trees as mentioned in last month’s roundup. For two such records to come along in consecutive months seems like an over withdrawal in the karma bank (we’ll pay, we’ll pay), but that’s what has happened.

Starless, whose self-titled album is out now, is the latest project from ex-Love and Money man Paul McGeechan and has, among others, The Bathers’ Chris Thomson, The Lotus Project’s Marie Claire Lee, Julie Fowlis and Paul Buchanan singing vocals on various tracks, each one of whom are among my favourite singers.

However, the real treat for me is the overdue return of Gwen Stewart, singer in legendary bands such as Wild River Apples and Sugartown, and who is in possession of one of Scotland’s great voices. She sings on the 2.03 minute ‘Yellow Midnight’ and it’s hugely exciting to have her back, if only for a such a short while.  With that line-up, Mr McGeechan is spoiling us, and every one should realise it.

I could have written this month’s roundup on Starless alone, breaking it down track by track, but that’s not what we’re here for, and there is other great music on its way. However, I wanted to get across why this album means so much to me and has touched me so profoundly. It’s not just that as a collection it is reminiscent of Craig Armstrong at his very best. It’s not purely because every track is unforgettable but, when taken together, works towards a much greater whole. It’s not as simple as those singers and the songs, even. It’s because this is the sound of my music – it’s in my bones. Always has been, and always will.

Featuring the heavenly voice of the aforementioned Chris Thomson, this is ‘Misty Nights’, and if it makes you feel as it does me, we’re going to get on just fine:

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Errant Souls: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks Music & More With Errant Media…

Errant Media logoAfter a short break Spring break the Scots Whay Hae! podcast is back for Series 3 with a whole new line-up of guests and themed specials for your pleasure.

This first episode sees Ali head down Leith Walk to talk with Sean Ormsby and Stephen McLaren from Edinburgh record label Errant Media, on which they release as Sean’s Errant Boy, together as Shards, and, in the near future, Stephen’s new solo material.

The two talk about the pleasure of collaboration, the enduring importance of songs, and why melancholy and euphoria are the perfect musical partners. De Rosa, The Divine Comedy, Pony Club and Young Fathers get a lot of love as influences and inspirations are discussed, as is the best, and possibly only, reason for making music in the first place.

In Scots Whay Hae’s opinion, Sean and Stephen have been involved with some of the best music of the last few years, both together and individually, and if the new material is anything to go by that’s not going to change any Errant Boy A Wayward Mirror Album Cover arttime soon. If you are interested in the realities and practicalities of not only writing great songs, but getting them released, then this is a must hear podcast. But then we would say that, wouldn’t we?

This Saturday (23/4) sees the launch of Errant Boy’s album A Wayward Mirror, which is, I promise you, one of the best things you’ll here this year.  It’s at new Edinburgh venue Leith Depot, where Sean and Stephen are planning to hold regular musical events, details of which are on the pod. Continue reading

August Celebrations: The Best New Music From Last Month…

11987130_895633983854688_5423182070524420920_nOften when reviewing the month’s best music themes emerge or certain styles are prominent. So far this has been a summer where great pop-music has prevailed, particularly of the electronic variety, and there is one of the best examples of that to come shortly, but in August music with a bit of bite was in evidence, and more than a touch of melancholy.

Maybe it’s just me, but the following sounds like the perfect soundtrack to the end of summer.

We’re going to kick things off with a something a little different from The Deadline Shakes who have, with just a few releases to their name, quickly become one of my favourite bands of the day. They have already released one of the best singles of the year with April’s ‘Phonecalls In The Bath’ and they’ve only gone and done it again with ‘Frozen Out’. They make multi-layered music which ebbs and flows, sounding at once familiar and yet as fresh as…well, as a summer’s day, and this is a superb example of that. Some bands go through whole careers and don’t sound as effortless as this, with everything working together just as it should. Their debut album Zealots is out in November, but until then enjoy ‘Frozen Out’ which is a double A-side single with the equally strong ‘Sweeten The Deal’. Prepare to be dazzled:

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April’s Guys: The Best New Music From Last Month…

I apologise for being a bit later than normal with this, but I seemed to go on a week’s holiday by mistake. Won’t happen again. Anyway, welcome to the best new music from April of which there was quite a lot. As well as what follows, we had the long list of this year’s Scottish Album of The Year Awards (more of which below) which once again highlighted how deep and wide and tall Scottish music is at the moment.

Last month saw a lot of electric dreams, melancholic musings, and moving melodies. A track which exhibits the latter two comes from The Deadline Shakes with their new single ‘Phonecalls In The Bath’. Always an interesting band, this shows a real leap forward in their songwriting and confidence in their music. Starting slowly it builds to reach epic proportions while never going over the top, and is packed so full of hooks you could do yourself an injury. Classic pop in the tradition of The Go Betweens, The Woodentops, Camper Van Beethoven and Sugar, this gets better with every listen and for me is the first classic pop song of summer 2015. Sun out, windows down, this is the perfect accompaniment. Good work fellas. Have a listen for yourself:

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