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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Five Alive: The Best New Music From May…

This month’s roundup is defined by great songs and packed full of glittering pop music of various shapes and sounds. Maybe it’s the summer kicking out my SAD, but everything you’re about to hear lifts the heart and clears the head, with each track a reminder of why I fell in love with music in the first place. It’s always a pleasure to put these roundups together, but this month is something very special. Don’t believe me? You will.

The first two songs feature two of Scotland’s great voices. As I’m sure you know, Joe McAlinden was the frontman of Superstar who, with 18 Carat, Palm Tree and Phat Dat, made three of the best albums of the late ’90s which should have made them bigger than they were. McAlinden is now the driving force behind Linden, and the new album Rest And Be Thankful shows that there are few things better in this world than his plaintive, elegiac vocals married to the melancholic pop songs of which he is a master. Here’s the title track, and it will make you smile just as it breaks your heart:

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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