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

a3715261681_10To say we live in strange times is understatement veering towards sarcasm. I don’t wish to appear trite, but in the worst of times, for whatever reasons they may be, music in particular brings me comfort like nothing else can.

Feeling down? Listen to Smokey sing, Johnny play guitar, or Dylan do anything. It never fails me, and it hasn’t this time round. With that in mind, putting together this roundup of the best in new music from the last month has not simply been a pleasure but seriously uplifting. In short – I needed that.

First off, we have what I consider the pop song of the summer. Ette’s album Homemade Lemonade is out on the 22 July – and you really should get your order in now. But you don’t need to take my word for it as listening to ‘The Attack of the Glam Soul Cheerleaders (Parts 1 & 2)‘ will persuade you within the first 10 seconds. This is pop music at its very best, from the opening handclaps and keys, through the guitar riff which drives things alongside Carla J. Easton’s perfect bubblegum vocals, to the false ending and joyous wig-out which follows. It’s a reminder that the best pop music does not need a big production – it can spring from anyone and anywhere when the inspiration strikes. If Phil Spector had lived round our way, this is the sort of wall of sound he’d be making:

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3452021734/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/track=2148438149/transparent=true/

Ette headlined the Olive Grove Records Review at Oran Mor last month, which is one of the gigs of the year so far. No real surprise as it also featured Call To Mind, The Moth and The Mirror (and what a set that was) and the debut of The Royal Male, the solo venture from Woodenbox’s Ali Downer. The Royal Male’s album is Plastic Throne and the single is ‘Start When It’s Over’. Both have a wonderful mix of eclectic piano, understated horns, and a liberal sprinkling of whip-smart melodies reminiscent of Neil Hannon and Ben Folds. Having heard the whole album I can confirm it’s an absolute joy. The single alone brings a smile to my face every time I play it, which has been a lot. What say you?:

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2539166407/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/

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The Tracks Of My Year: The Best 10 Songs Of 2015 (+1)…

The-Duke-Detroit-Iconic

If you’re sick of end of year lists, look away now. Right, if you’re still with us we have the 10 best tracks reviewed on these pages this year, plus one bonus track which I’ll explain later, but, if you want to know why you should bother with this Top Ten, to quote Nigel Tufnel, “Well, it’s one better, isn’t it?”

2015 was a cracking year for new music, with certain themes emerging, and some memorable one-offs. The summer was one of glorious electronic-pop, then the nights got longer and the music more reflective, but along the way there was some old school indie, classic pop tunes, intriguing lo-fi electronica and a welcome slice of rock.

This list is more about individual tracks rather than albums (although you can hear a discussion on those on our forthcoming End of Year Podcast), and you can discover much more of the new music we covered on Scots Whay Hae! by listening to our Best of 2015 Spotify list.

Enough yacking, here’s the countdown, in chronological order, and what we thought about them at the time.

The Duke Detroit – Iconic

More classy sounds from the indie disco in the shape of The Duke, Detroit and their latest single, ‘Iconic’, which is not out till March but is too good not to mention right now. Drum machines, snare, handclaps, bass-lines to die for, and a guitar break that could have come from Nile Rodgers himself; what’s not to like? They’ve been good before, but this is the best thing I have heard from The Duke, Detroit yet and they are quickly becoming one of those bands whose new music you can’t wait for. You won’t be able to listen to this and not have something move when you least expect it:

https://soundcloud.com/thedukedetroit/iconic-2

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It’s The Not Quite The End Of The Year Show (Part 1): The Best New Music Of Recent Times (The Albums)…

Underccurents front for web mediumSince December will be full of those ‘best of the year’ lists which we love at Scots Whay Hae!, the best music from October and November is going to be brought together, then split apart into albums and singles as there have been plenty great examples of both in the last months of 2015.

First off are the albums, and if you’re wondering what to get any music lover for Christmas, there is something here for most tastes, including that rarest of beasts – a Christmas album you’ll want to listen to more than once, or at all for that matter.

Perversely, I’m going to start with an album you won’t actually be able to get your hands on until February of next year, but I’m going to flag it up now because you can contribute to help get it released by going to Pledge Music, where you can find out just what you could get for your money.  I also have to mention it because it is too good to keep to myself. The album is Undercurrents from Amy Duncan, and it is another collection of beautiful songs with the focus on Amy’s vocals, guitar, and wonderful strings. Songs such as ‘No Harvest’,  ‘Lights In The Houses’ and ‘Different Dimensions’ take her music in new directions,  but they are alongside more traditional songs like ‘The Truth Never Changes’ and ‘To The Shadow’.  I’ve been lucky enough to have had a copy of Undercurrents for a week now and it’s been played every night since. It’s perfect music for cold winter nights as it brings comfort and solace, mainly, but not solely, down to Amy Duncan’s voice which is a rare thing in that it soothes at the same time as it moves you.

This is music made by and for people who love melody and memorable tunes, and the results are wonderful.  The production by Calum Malcolm is understated allowing Duncan’s songs room to breathe and develop. This is a man who has worked with The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout, The Go-Betweens and Deacon Blue so you wouldn’t expect anything else, but the album also carries echoes of the best of the Finn brothers and Aimee Mann, and I can’t praise more highly than that. So, so good. This is ‘Different Dimensions’:

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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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