Wednesday, 30 December 2009

EP Review - second hand marching band: grit and determination

As I mentioned last week, there's a new Second Hand Marching Band EP out. Since there's very little new around, and since you don't have much longer to get your mitts on a copy and since I've done nothing since Christmas and don't want to fall back into my lazy ways, here's a wee review of it.

The EP has four winter themed songs, and kicks off with Bonbon, a cheery wee upbeat number. Lots going on, as is to be expected, without sounding busy. Good start, it's the ever so slightly chaotic, raucous kind of fun I like. You can have a listen to that below.
From there, things take a shift in tone, with more gentle and melancholic sounding songs rounding out the EP.
Second song, title track Grit and Determination, manages to be incredibly sweet without being sugary. It's more sparse sounding - conjuring up images of leafless trees covered in snow, although that could be just because that's what I saw out my window earlier - gradually adding layers to reach a crescendo. Very charming, sweet and uplifting.
My Gift is Waiting makes good use of boy/girl duelling vocals and harmonies to build mood over a barely there backdrop of piano and horns.
Next Year brings in layers of instrumentals and vocals again for another song of love and new beginnings.

All in it's a great little EP, and at a mere three quid well worth getting your hands on a copy before New Year. It's also a nice reminder that there's more to the band than the novelty of cramming as many bodies as possible on a stage. When I've written about the Second Hand Marching Band before I tend to focus on that myself, and the mildly chaotic air that comes with them playing the more upbeat songs live. That's a bit unfair as there's really solid, well crafted songs in their repertoire, played by excellent musicians. I'll try to be more balanced next time they crop up in my live reviews.

The Second hand Marching Band play King Tut's on December 30th (which because I kept getting distracted writing this is now today, rather than tomorrow as planned) along with The Seventeenth Century and We're Only Afraid of NYC. It'll be really good, you should go.
If you can't, then you can catch them again on January 8th at The 13th Note for the launch of the We Sink Ships radio show on Radio Magnetic. That'll be good too.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

Want all the Christmas songs collected together in one post? Well ok then, consider this your present. There's even an extra song.

1st - Miss The Occupier - Christmas Wrapping
2nd - Campfires in Winter - Christmas Song
3rd - Arab Strap - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
4th - Teenage Fanclub - Christmas Eve
5th - There Will Be Fireworks - In Excelsis Deo
6th - Frightened Rabbit - It's Christmas So We'll Stop (2007)
7th - El Dog - Let It Snow
8th - Mitchell Museum - Stop The Cavalry
9th - Cocteau Twins - Winter Wonderland
10th - Paul Vickers and The Leg - I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas
11th - Withered Hand - It's A Wonderful Lie
12th - Recording The Impossible - Silent Night
13th - Synonym - Festiv’ Biznis (Santa’s Goin’ Crazy)
14th - Dawn of the Replicants - Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time
15th - Camera Obscura - Little Donkey
16th - Belle & Sebastian - Are You Coming Over For Christmas?
17th - Dan Lyth - She Spent Thirty
18th - Idlewild - Mistletoe And Wine
19th - Macabre Scene - Last Christmas
20th - Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Christmas
21st - Cancel the Astronauts - Dead By Christmas
22nd - A Band Called Quinn - Snowbus
23rd - The Morgue Party Candidate - I Seen Mummy Kissing Santa Claus
24th - The Cinematics - Japanese Snow Queen
24h Bonus - De Rosa - Under The Stairs (Christmas Reverie) Demo Version
25th - Camera Obscura - The Blizzard

Happy Christmas (or other holiday of your choice) everyone. Please remember, Aye Tunes isn't just for Christmas, so keep coming back. Unless you dislike me, then you are excused.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 24

Phew, it's the last day of this, so I don't have to keep digging for more songs. Got any suggestions for anything else I can do to force me to make a post every day? There probably won't be anything too exciting posted here over the next day or two, so don't feel bad if you don't visit.

Today's Christmas song is a last minute entry from The Cinematics. They had a new album out a couple of months ago. I wasn't in love with it, but it's not bad.

The Cinematics - Japanese Snow Queen
Cinematics website

Ah heck, it's Christmas, so have another song too:
De Rosa: Under The Stairs (Christmas Reverie) Demo Version

If you are after another freebie song, Kid Canaveral are giving away Good Morning, a taster of the album they'll be releasing next year. It isn't Christmassy, but it is fab, so go get it.

I'll be wandering the streets and pubs of Glasgow later today, so if anyone is at a loose end from about 2pm for a while, give me a shout.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Second Hand Marching Band release new single

Only available between 23rd of December and 1st of January 2010. We'll make you a CD and you'll get your own numbered hand made copy. There will probably only be a few dozen made so it might be pure special.
It's a quiet time for new releases, obviously, so might as well flag up good ones as they happen.
We here at Aye Tunes (well, me, no one else works here) love The Second Hand Marching Band, so new material from them is smashing.
As stated in their description above, this new CD is only available for about a week, so get your skates on if you want a copy.
See below to have a wee listen and to get your hands on a copy. Your £3 gets you a CD and a download too.

Christmas Songs - Day 23

Nearly finished. I'm quite chuffed and surprised that I've got a post up ever day as planned.

Today's song is a home demo that I pestered Ross from The Morgue Party Candidate into sending over. If you haven't heard of the band before, I'll direct you to a wee bit I wrote about them earlier in the year here.

The Morgue Party Candidate MySpace
You can also grab their Good Morning, Good Night EP for nothing here.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 22

Getting close to the end of the Christmas songs series now, obviously.
I'm going to need something to replace it by next week, any suggestions?

Today's song was was supposed to be It's Christmas Time by A Band Called Quinn, until I found out that after being available free last year it's been reissued as a single this week, which scuppered that plan. Instead you can have another equally festive track from that free EP.

A Band Called Quinn - MySpace

Monday, 21 December 2009

Best of 2009: Glasgow PodcART

Taking a wee break from the albums I've loved this year to talk about something else that's been a massive influence on both me and the blog. This time you can actually accuse me of writing nice stuff about my pals, but they deserve it.

In case you haven't heard of them, Glasgow PodcART are a team of Glasgow based music fanatics, who put together a weekly podcast laying music from both signed and unsigned artists and lots, lots more. So far, so simple. What makes the weekly podcasts must listens for me isn't just the music, but the people involved.

I was a bit of a late comer to the PodcART, only starting to listen at around episode 20 after seeing the name in Hinterland brochures. Within my first few weeks of listening I was introduced to the concept of Pooching the band, had Trapped in Kansas become forever known to me as Pumped in Venice, listened in on a conversation about porno boots for transvestites and heard something which - no matter how hard I try - I'll never be able to forget involving a glass Irn Bru bottle. Oh, and I heard an absolute ton of cracking music.

To say that listening to Glasgow PodcART has introduced me to new bands would be a massive understatement. Not every song or band is a winner with me, I'd be a bit worried if they were - but the good to bad ratio is heavily weighted in favour of the good. Without them I'd probably not have caught on to half the bands that have featured on Aye Tunes over the past six months, at least not nearly as quickly. I treat it as a good sign that I've upped my game when more of the bands featured now are ones I'm familiar with, but pretty much every week there's still something new to me, and for that I can't thank them PodcART team enough.

Aside from the music there's another thing I love about the PodcART, and that's the banter between whatever team members are taking part in any given week. I've had to stop listening when I'm on public transport, as there's almost always at least one moment every week where I'll uncontrollably laugh out loud. Often while thinking "that's just wrong" at the same time.
Listening to the team in conversation their enthusiasm for music and what they are doing is obvious, and infectious.

Since I generally attend gigs on my own, none of my pals are really into the same things as me and I don't want to be responsible for them having a lousy night out seeing bands that only I want to see, the Podcart team have been handy there too, since they often provide someone for me to talk to when I'm out and about on my own. They really are a lovely bunch of people.

More recently they've been responsible for some of my favourite gigs of the year, from the New Artists Showcase gig in November to their monthly live session gigs in The 13th Note. I know I'm not the only one who counts last week's Christmas party as a highlight of my year either.

All in all, if you have ears I highly recommend listening to the PodcART. Thanks Ally, Halina, Louise, Nicola and Sean for excellent entertainment, long may it continue.

Christmas Songs - Day 21

Just a few days to go. I really should have planned something special for Christmas Day, but as yet I haven't.
Or have I, and just want it to be a surprise?

Today's song comes from Cancel The Astronauts, just because I like them and haven't found an excuse to feature them for ages.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Best of 2009: Beerjacket - Animosity

It seems somewhat fitting to me that the first album I reviewed over here ends up being my favourite album of the year. Even if I did and still do hate the review I wrote.

As I mentioned in the Top 10 post, Animosity took the top spot for more than just musical reasons. The release of Animosity was another thing that coincided with my birthday this year, and was an album that helped me get my act together round here and attempt to do more writing.
The Beerjacket gig I went to back at the start of August is pretty significant too, it was the first of my "at least one gig every week" quest, which I've kept up until now. I'm having a break this week, incidentally. Basically, if you don't like my writing, blame Beerjacket!

Even without the personal stuff the musical reasons for Animosity topping my list are pretty compelling on their own.
Over the course of the year Animosity is probably the album I've come back and listened to in it's entirety the most. It's hard just pick one song from it that stands out - Drum maybe peeks it's head above the others as a favourite - as the entire album is consistently solid.

Deceptively simple, with for the most part just one man and his guitar, Beerjacket songs are beautifully crafted and performed, with lyrics that are never trite or forced. From that point of view it's a little disappointing that a lot of the exposure Peter got this year came from his Dancing in the Dark cover. On the other hand, here's hoping that hearing that will have sent people to check out original Beerjacket songs.

Now to address the elephant in the room from that old review of mine: Elliott Smith. I got a bit stuck on that last time round, so this time I'll just say that Beerjacket songs remind me quite a lot of sitting and listening to my old Elliott Smith albums. To me that's great, Smith is one of my favourite songwriters. Beerjacket does have a stronger voice though.

Now, why not head on over to Peenko's Blog where you'll find a Beerjacket interview and as a Christmas bonus, all the demos for Animosity available for download?

Beerjacket - Animosity

Christmas Songs - Day 20

Did you know that the number of posts this month is higher than the number of posts I made here in the whole first year Aye Tunes was around? Now you do.
Did you care? Probably not.

We're in to the home stretch with the Christmas songs, so if there's anything you desperatly want to hear, or if there's a song you want to contribute, get it in quickly.
Today's song comes from the still much missed Dogs Die in Hot Cars.

Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Christmas

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 19

Day 19, seriously? Jeepers, December is flying past.

Once again a song came to my attention after a couple of these posts and promptly kicked it's way in to the front of the queue today. Not only is it cracking, but, well, if you watch the video (it's after the jump if you are reading the blog front page. Actually, you might need to view the whole post to get the embedded music player too, sorry.) you'll see why I got all excited.
I've missed Macabre Scene the last few times they've played, but the twice I saw them before I was dead impressed (I said so on the blog too, do a wee search if you want to read for yourself) so hopefully it won't be too long before I can catch them again.

I must confess to having a bit of a liking for this song anyway, being of a certain ages and apparently a bit of a sentimental girl. Go ahead and mock me, you know it is a Christmas Classic.

Macabre Scene MySpace

And the video:

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 18

Wee bit later than normal with the Christmas song today, since I forget to schedule it.
This means that I can tell you a little bit about the wonderful night I had last night at the Glasgow PodcART Christmas Party. Panda Su, The Darien Venture, Kid Canaveral and Tokyo Knife Attack all played, and were all brilliant. Some lovely Christmas cover versions were played too, which was obviously a winner with me.
Met up with a good bunch of the people that have kept me entertained this year, as well as ssome new ones. And of course, me and Peenko danced like buffoons to Kid Canaveral. As the PodcART folk might say, ooft.

Today's song comes from Idlewild. They give Cliff Richard a metaphorical kicking in this one.

Idlewild - Misletoe And Wine

Idlewild Website

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Best of 2009: You Already Know - Stop Whispering

I slacked off a bit from getting back to writing about my picks for albums of the year, but I'm getting back to it a bit now, starting with this one.

I've mentioned previously on Aye Tunes that instrumental bands tend to be tough for me to get on board with, mainly due to having seen and heard so many rubbish ones over the past year or two. Imagine my surprise then when I fell in love with not one, but two of them over the course of this year.

Stop Whispering is the debut album by You Already Know, recorded upstairs in Avalanche Records in Glasgow. Funnily enough, to me at least, there was a launch gig for it on my 30th birthday.
Words like "epic" and "incredible" are terribly over used, but they do fit the way I feel about this album. The songs hit all the right buttons for me, ranging from spine tingling and melodic one minute, to ear scorching riffs the next, and back again.

It can be hard for me to fall in love with songs without lyrics to latch on to, but with this album You Already Know kick that straight out the window. The way the songs build and climax grab me instantly, and take me on a ride I never want to get off.

Seeing the band, after missing out on several opportunities earlier in the year, last week in the cramped confines of Glasgow's 13th Note showed that not only do YAK work for me on record, but they also, pardon my french, fucking nail it live. My round up of the gig afterwards on Twitter was "You Already Know just had rough sex with my ears, and they loved it, the sluts", which is a very, very good thing indeed.

Stop Whispering is nothing short of glorious, and gives me chills every time I listen to it.
Visit their Website and MySpace to have a listen and find out how to buy a copy.
Also, if you swing by the I Need Musik website you can get hold of the song below and a couple of others for free.

Fireworks For New Beginnings (Alternative Mix)

You Already Know - Website - MySpace
You Already Know

The Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites Awards (The Scottish BAMS Awards) 2009

A wee while back Peenko sounded me out about a mass poll by all us Scottish types to put together a top 20 albums of the year. Unlike plans I hatch in pubs, he actually put it all together.
So now the votes have been cast and counted, it's time to announce the winner.

Andy from The Phantom Band had this to say: "This makes us feel very honoured because the opinion of people out there giving opinions is what matters most, rather than the financially influenced press. It always amazes me that people would take it upon themselves to go out and champion a band or an album or a band for no material gain, but it gives me faith in human nature. Blogs and reviews have been the only advertising we've ever had. Apart from all those people who got online and promoted us, we'd like to thank those little almost-stale doughnuts you get in big tubs from Sainsburys for keeping us fat during the recording. We obviously also have our Producer Paul Savage and the wonderful people at Chemikal Underground to thank for letting us do what we want. These guys are the quiet heroes of Scottish music for sure."

The full top 20 is:
1. The Phantom Band - Checkmate Savage
2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

3. De Rosa - Prevention

4. King Creosote - Flick the V's

5. Withered Hand - Good News

6. The Twilight Sad - Forget The Night Ahead

7. We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls

8. Beerjacket - Animosity

9. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

10. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

11. My Latest Novel - Deaths and Entrances

12. Malcolm Middleton - Waxing Gibbous

13. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - s/t

14. You Already Know - s/t

15. Broken Records - Until the Earth Begins to Part

16. The XX - s/t

17. The Antlers - Hospice

18. Sufjan Stevens - The BQE

19. And So I Watch You From Afar

20. Wilco - The Album

Taking place in the voting were 17 Seconds, Me, Dear Scotland, Earz Mag, Elba Sessions, Glasgow Podcart, Hooligans Lament, Jim Gellatly, JocknRoll, Jockrock, Kowalskiy, Last Years Girl, Love Shack Baby, Manic Pop Thrills, My Portiswasp Says, Off the Beaten Tracks, The Pop Cop, Products of a Gaseous Brain, Song By Toad, The Blues Bunny, The Daily Growl, The Spill, The Steinberg Principle, The Vinyl Villain, Under the Radar and of course Peenko. All sites worth visiting.

Christmas Songs - Day 17

Today's song comes from Dan Lyth, taken from his new Christmas album The Fat Man and Baby Boy.
Have a wee listen below, and if you like it you can go get a swanky CD, plus a download of the full album, from the links below.
Thanks to Jocknroll for the tip on this one.

Dan Lyth - She Spent Thirty
<a href="">She Spent Thirty by Dan Lyth</a>

Dan Lyth Website

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 16

Before I get into today's song, just a reminder that the eagleowl single Sleep the Winter is out now, and is fantastic. Playing around with link things at the moment, if I've done it right there's a link to buy it from iTunes somewhere below. The band will get more money if you get the download from their Bandcamp page though.
eagleowl - Sleep the Winter (single) - Sleep the Winter
I caught eagleowl on Monday in The 13th Note, it was very good. If I can think of more than "very good" to say about it I'll attempt a wee review.

Onwards to our Christmas song then. Today comes from Belle & Sebastian. Picking a Christmas song for them isn't easy, as there's loads. It ended up being a lucky dip, and this is what came out.

Belle & Sebastian - Are You Coming Over For Christmas?

Belle and Sebastian Website

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Doing Some Last Minute Shopping?

Alright, I'm aware this is completely shameless, but hey, worth a try.

If you've got a bit of last minute shopping to try and squeeze in, and are going to be doing it online, how about doing it through one of these links so I get a wee bit of extra beer money for myself?
Below are links for Amazon, and over on the right there's wee adverts for HMV, eMusic and iTunes.

Shameless, crass advertising over, cheers.

Christmas Songs - Day 15

There's something about Christmas and Camera Obscura that seems to me like they are a perfect fit for each other.
Their recently released Christmas single, a cover of Jim Reeves' The Blizzard does nothing to change my mind about that. Since that only came out last week I won't be posting it, maybe next year.
Instead we are going back a few years for a Christmas classic recorded live round at John Peel's house.

Camera Obscura - Little Donkey

Ahh, it's like being back in Primary School, except much less tuneless.

Camera Obscura Website

Monday, 14 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 14

We make our final festive visit to Paul Vickers territory today, as we finally get back round to Dawn of the Replicants.
As I mentioned before, I was really into this band a while back, round about the time of their debut album One Head, Two Arms, Two Legs. Also, fun fact, I used to talk a bit with co-founder Roger Simian in, of all places, a 2000AD newsgroup, many years ago.
The band did four sessions for the late, great John Peel, and you can (and should) listen to all of them here.

As for today's song... Well, this is a song which actually had the ability to make me violent. Years of working in retail, and therefore years of hearing it about a dozen times a day for all of November and December, will do that to you. Oddly enough, all other Christmas songs I'm fine with, even though I've similarly heard them a million times, it's just this one that makes me want to punch people in the throat.
Fortunately, the Dawn of the Replicants version doesn't make me want to punch folk, though it can't quite redeem the song entirely.

Dawn of the Replicants - Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time

Dawn of the Replicants - Website - MySpace

Remember, you can easily find all the previous Christmas songs by clicking on the cunningly named "Christmas" label at the bottom of the posts.
There'll be a big list of all the songs once I'm finished too.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 13

Just past the halfway point of our countdown to Christmas. I'm starting to run out of songs now, so any suggestions, send them over.

Today's song comes from Synonym, which is a project by You Already Know's Allan Swan.

Synonym - Festiv’ Biznis (Santa’s Goin’ Crazy)

Head over to the I Need Musik website to grab two more tracks from the single, and a whole load of other stuff, for free.

Synonym MySpace

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 12

We are back to another Paul Vickers project today. This one beats the heck out of Dawn of the Replicants and Paul Vickers and The Leg for oddness too.
Recording The Impossible describe them self as being "inspired by the likes of Ivor Cutler, the Jerky Boys, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Chris Morris and Tom Waits", so you should probably be able to tell you won't be in for something dull and mundane really. Today's Christmas song of choice is there, well, unique, take on good old Silent Night.

Recording The Impossible - Silent Night

Recording The Impossible - Website - MySpace - SL Records Bio

Friday, 11 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 11

It seems every time I schedule these for a few days in advance, something new turns up in my inbox. Like tonight, just after I'd set up posts to take us through the weekend, I got an email alerting to me something else.
That isn't a complaint, it is huge fun getting new Christmas songs, it just means I'm often not sure what I have scheduled for when by the time I'm done!

Today's last minute entry comes from Withered Hand, Dan Willson.

Go over to the Withered Hand Website to grab It's A Wonderful Lie.

‘It’s A Wonderful Lie’ was recorded by Benni Hemm Hemm and features Rory from Broken Records and Chris from Meursault.

The Withered Hand album Good News is likely to feature on many people's Top 10 albums of the year lists. It missed out on mine mainly because I didn't get round to buying it until just recently. It is really good though.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 10

After a couple of hiccups over the past few days we are back on schedule.

Up until a few years back I'd never heard this song in my life. It's been around for way over 50 years, originally performed by Gayla Peevey. I was introduced to it by an American friend, so either I just didn't pay attention, or it's more popular there than here.

Paul Vickers is best known to me as one of Dawn of the Replicants. I was really into them about ten years ago, before losing track of them somewhat. They were a great band, impossible to categorise. We'll be hearing more from them in a couple of days actually.

Paul Vickers and The Leg are similarly difficult to describe, so I'll cop out by not even trying.

Paul Vickers and The Leg - I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas

Paul Vickers and The Leg MySpace - SL Records Page

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 9

Messed up my scheduling of posts, so today's Christmas song is a bit later than normal.
You do forgive me, right?

Today is another cover version. The Cocteu Twins do a rather fine version of both Winter Wonderland and Frosty The Snowman, but for now I'm going with the former.

Cocteau Twins - Winter Wonderland


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Best of 2009 - The Aye Tunes Top 10 Albums

The plan with this was to write a bit about all the albums before I published the final top 10, but time and laziness have gone against me, and if I try to write about everything then I'll keep changing my mind and never get the list done.
Instead, here's the top 10 with a couple of comments, and I'll get back to writing a bit about them all, and maybe a few that missed out, over the coming days and weeks.

The list has gone through umpteen different permutations since I started thinking about it, and has been complicated slightly by a good bunch of the stuff I've loved most this year being a single or EP rather than an album.I had to leave out a whole bunch of records I loved, and tried not to be influenced by other lists.
You can let me know what you think of my choices.

Before I can change my mind again, here's my top 10, after the jump:

Aye Tunes - Too Nice, Again

Hi everyone.
I just wanted to take a little time to say a huge thank you to all of you who stopped by to read me ranting at the weekend. An even bigger thanks to everyone who gave me feedback, both positive and negative.
Although I'm not very keen on getting emails insulting me I'm glad I had a chance to open up a wee bit of debate, and mostly to explain a bit more about why I do this, and how I do this.

It was genuinely touching to get so many comments and emails over the weekend. Whether they were encouraging or pointing out things I should work on, they were all appreciated. I can assure you that having set up this blog ages ago and then taking so long to actually do much with it I won't be losing interest or going away anywhere any time soon. You can decide for yourself whether that is good news or not.

Thanks again to everyone who left a comment or sent an email.

Christmas Songs - Day 8

First of all, because I don't think I'll be doing a review of it (thank goodness I hear you say) The Gothenburg Address were absolutely outstanding last night. And no, they aren't my pals, I even buggered off last night before I could talk to any of them.

It seems every time I build up a few of these posts someone else puts out a new Christmas song to disrupt my planning, like this one.

I couldn't slot it in any earlier than today, so here's Mitchell Museum, doing Stop The Cavalry. Normally I can hear this song maybe twice over Christmas and enjoy it, any more than that and it starts to do my head in. So far I'm enjoying Mitchell Museum's version, we'll see if I can still say the same in a few weeks.

Now working again, with a button to download it and everything!

Stop the cavalry by mitchellmuseum

Mitchell Museum MySpace

Coming up later today, (maybe, I need to update yesterday's this week's things post with new releases first) is the Aye Tunes Top 10 albums of 2009. Alright, it'll probably be tomorrow to be honest...

Monday, 7 December 2009

This Week's Stuff

It's getting into a slow time of year for records, but a really busy time for gigs, so for the next few weeks this'll probably be quite lopsided.
Meursault have a pair of double A-side 7" singles out, featuring new recordings of William Henry Miller Parts One and Two along with A Few Kind Words and the Dirt & the Roots from Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues. These have been on sale at gigs recently You should be able to pick those up in your local independent record shop, or at the Song, by Toad Records website. They are also available as a download too, for those of us without record players. Available from iTunes, eMusic and the like.
Today's Christmas Song of choice, El Dog's cover of Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, is as mentioned previously available today, for the wallet pleasing price of free.
Camera Obscura have a Christmassy single out today too, a cover of the Jim Reeves song The Blizzard, backed with Swans from their last album My Maudlin Career.
He Slept on 57's Turn Your Back On All We Know EP is available on iTunes from today.
The Gothenburg Address album is available on all good download sites now. For a CD, go here.

I mentioned these two last week, but here's a reminder anyway. Monday December 7th, that's tonight, sees The Gothenburg Address launch their critically acclaimed debut album with a gig in Mono. Support comes from The Bucky rage and Loss Leader, with Aiden Moffat doing some DJing for good measure. You du not want to miss the Gothenburg Address album, you can order it here if you can't make the gig.
He Slept on 57 and City of Statues are also playing on the 7th at King Tut's.
On Thursday Malcolm Middleton brings his Long Dark Night tour to the Òran Mór. Support comes from some chap named Aidan Moffat.
You Already Know play their final gig of the year on Friday, in the 13th Note. Having missed their last Glasgow gig, I've been eagerly awaiting this one, and only being trapped under something heavy, or worse, will keep me from going.
If you like crap, well beyond their prime rock, then The Stereophonics are playing at the Classic Grand on Saturday. You need to win a competition to go.

The Edinburgh people have a few belters to look forward to this week.
On Friday eagleowl launch their new single, Sleep The Winter, with a gig in The Bowery. Glasgow folks, we get a single launch gig too, on Monday the 14th in the 13th Note. You might remember that I rather enjoyed that single.
On Saturday there is not only the Trampoline All Day shindig, but also the Song, by Toad Christmas Party. If you want to go to Trampoline, then on to the Song, by Toad bash, tell them at the door you'll only be there for a while and Euan will let you in a wee bit cheaper. Both have cracking line ups, and you can get hours of good live music for hardly any money. Your liver might hate you though.
The Aye Tunes Christmas Party won't be a patch on either of those, since it will mostly be me having a few pints in a pub on my own.

Christmas Songs - Day 7

Today's offering comes from El Dog, offering up their take on Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, available as a free download below.

El Dog - Let It Snow by Lo-Five Records

Here's the video too:

El Dog

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 6

Carrying on with this till I run out of songs.

Today it is the turn of Frightened Rabbit, who if you haven't been paying attention are quite popular round Aye Tunes towers.

It's Christmas So We'll Stop has been released twice in different versions, back in 2007 and again in 2008. I've plumped for the 2007 version for this post. No real reason why. If I panic I might end up using 2008's version later in the month too.

Frightened Rabbit - It's Christmas So We'll Stop (2007)

Frightened Rabbit MySpace

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Aye Tunes - Too Nice?

Almost wrote this post last night after drinking a significant amount of tequila, but thought better of it, and wrote a surprisingly coherent album review instead. Tonight I'm sober, but I'm going to go ahead with the post anyway, even though it might come back to haunt me.

If you read my blathering on Twitter - and if you don't you aren't really missing much, but why not? - you might have heard me mention an email I got yesterday relating to Aye Tunes. On one hand this was nice, as I don't get very much in the way of comments or feedback round here. On the other hand, as it called me a variety of names and had a go at me, it was a bit less fun.
In between the cursing at me, there were a couple of reasonable points raised, so I'm using it as an excuse to have a wee vent and address a few things. Names have been taken out to protect the innocent and guilty alike, quotes from the email are in italics, and I've edited out most of the swearing. I did leave some in though, so be warned. And away we go!

Christmas Songs - Day 5

Day five, and due to scheduling issues, a song that's already appeared on a million other places before I've been able to slot it in. That'll teach me to plan ahead!

Today's offering is a brand new free download Christmas song by There Will Be Fireworks, a band who blew me away twice live this year, and whose debut album is still slugging it out for inclusion on my top ten of the year.

There Will Be Fireworks - In Excelsis Deo

Album Review: Isa & The Filthy Tongues - Dark Passenger

Recently I've found myself with a bit of extra cash floating around in my Paypal account, annoyingly while I'm skint in the real World, and so I've been doing a bit of impulse music buying with it. Long story short, that's why I've got a copy of the new Isa & the Filthy Tongues album a bit ahead of it's proper release in January of next year.

On Friday I got an email accusing me of being too nice in my reviews and this seems like a good chance to put the accusation to the test. You see, Isa & The Filthy Tongues aren't really a band I'm a huge fan of. Obviously I enjoy a fair amount of their stuff, otherwise I wouldn't have been on their mailing list to find out about their new album in the first place, however in the past they've also done a bit that's left me decidedly cold. Also, they aren't friends or relations, so I've got no bias coming in to the album, other than hoping it was worth my money. I'll be impartial all the way.

Jim's Killer kicks things off, sounding little bit Echo and the Bunnymen, a bit Jesus and Mary Chain. That's fine with me, I like both those bands and this is a good, solid song. Although it brings The Bunnymen and The Mary Chain to mind, it doesn't sound like a rip off, helped out in part by pleasingly moody and husky female vocals from Stacey Chavis. I tend to look favourably on songs with my name in them, but as this is mostly about someone called Jim dieing in a fire, I'm slightly frightened. Not a bad start though.

New Town Killers, co-written with Richard Jobson for his film of the same name, comes up next. This song has been about for ages, and is one I've heard before. I didn't pay an awful lot of attention to it before, and right now I'm wondering why. It's actually a beauty. Martin Metcalfe contributes the majority of the vocals, which doesn't leave Chavis with an awful lot to do, but does give some nice melodies between the two of them. Two tracks in and I'm enjoying this a lot.
I'm not going to do the rest track by track, apart from anything else it is almost 3am and I do like to sleep sometimes. For the same reason I won't, at least for now, touch the second disc, featuring mainly remixes of tracks that appeared on previous album Addiction.

The Mary Chain and Bunnymen reminders remain present for much of the album, but not enough to distract from what Isa & The Filthy Tongues are doing here. There's a hint of Pixies mixed in there too. I don't mean to sound like this is a sound-a-like album, it most certainly isn't, it's just that a lot of music reminds me of other music, and sometimes I get a wee bit stuck on that. Big Blue, for example, is another gem, with a chugging bass line, and gorgeous surfish guitar.

The rest of the album might not throw up much in the way of surprises, but remains at the very least good, with a few more belters in there, like Memories, and the bluesy swagger of Beautiful Girl. I'm not always a massive fan of the lyrics, but when I'm not the music is generally god enough to carry them. Oh, and I might be a little bit in love with Call Me.

So, there we go. Even coming into the album with no bias or agenda I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Boiled down to the simple question of was it worth my money the answer is a quite resounding yes, and that's all I really care about.

I'll pay a bit more attention to Isa & the Filthy Tongues after this.

Isa & the Filthy Tongues - MySpace - Website

The special double CD version of the album, the one I impulse bought (#199 out of 200 fact fans, got in there just in time), is now sold out. You can however order a regular single CD edition here.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Gig Review: The Whisky Works, Trapped In Kansas

Thursday, December 3rd 2009.
The Whisky Works and Trapped In Kansas, The Mill at Òran Mór, Glasgow.

I did say I wasn't going to review every single gig I go to, but I could do with a break from writing up my favourite albums - lots of half finished posts and headaches - so last night's gig is getting a quick write up.

I'd been looking forward to this gig for a while, I think I'd grabbed tickets almost immediately after the became available on The Mill website. I hadn't counted on my poor financial planning meaning it would use up every bit of my remaining cash to get there, although by this point I should have known better. Happily it was worth it, it was even worth the long walk home from the centre of Paisley to the arse end, where I live.

I hadn't seen The Whisky Works before, but I did pick up their debut EP when it was released. To be honest, I wasn't completely convinced by it. While it was mostly enjoyable, there were a few bits that left me cold. Nonetheless, they were a band I'd fancied catching for a while.
I'm very glad I caught them now. Having not seen the band before, I can't say what effect the recent addition of a new bassist, Ross Jenkins - also of Hey Vampires, but the band sounded fantastic. Energetic, moledic, engaging and loud. All those issues I had with their songs on the EP were gone live too. Really very impressed.

Incidentally, I've just realised one of the reasons I wasn't completely sold on the EP, Deficit Attention Program, that The Whisky Works released earlier this year is that the copy I got from eMusic skips all over the place. What I though were weirdly arranged and repetitive bits are actually screwed up mp3s. Oops!

I could have sworn I'd written about Trapped In Kansas before over here, but looking back it seems that other than mentioning a few of their gigs, I haven't. I'll rectify that more fully sometime soon. Last time I saw them, a while back in The Flying Duck, I was shaking off a cold, so wasn't in the best of form for judging bands. However what I heard that night, along with the songs I'd heard previously and since, were more than enough to rocket them up my bands to keep an eye on list. Thus, getting to see them again last night was something I was rather excited about.
I wasn't alone in that either, there were a whole score of familiar faces in the crowd last night. I dare say none of us went home disappointed. Well, except perhaps the member of Team PodcART who wanted five more songs, but if you ask me being left wanting more is far, far better than a band that outstay their welcome.
Trapped in Kansas make songs that are all at once complex and intricate, yet crowd pleasing and catchy, showing that you don't need to dumb things down to get the audience singing along.
A special mention also has to go to Finn Le Marinel's vocals. They are distincive, beautiful and are one of many things that helps this band, for me, stand out from the pack.

At a few recent gigs at The Mill I've noticed a few issues with the sound, but happily there were none noticable last night, both bands sounded great. Good night? As that wee nodding dog off the telly might say, oh yes.

The Whisky Works MySpace
Trapped In Kansas MySpace

Christmas Songs - Day 4

Day 4 and I'm not bored with this yet (admittedly that's because I wrote all the posts on Tuesday and scheduled them rather than writing them day by day), so hopefully you aren't either.

Today Teenage Fanclub get a turn. I won't hear a bad word said about Teenage Fanclub, they've made some of my favourite songs. Their Christmas offering comes from an old XFM compilation album, It's A Cool, Cool, Christmas. It was for charity, but now seems to be out of print, so I don't need to feel too guilty about posting a song off it.

Teenage Fanclub - Christmas Eve

Teenage Fanclub Website

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 3

Another day, another Christmas song.

Not just another song, but one of my favourite bands ever doing it too.
Recorded for a BBC session along with two of their own songs and a Sugababes cover, with backing vocals from Lauren Laverne. It's one you might want to miss if you've recently been dumped.

Arab Strap - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Best of 2009: The Phantom Band - Checkmate Savage

Before I put out any kind of Best of 2009 list I plan to write a bit about some of my favourite albums of the year. Re-reviewing a couple, but mostly - because for the first half of this year at least Aye Tunes was shit at reviews - reviewing them for the first time, even if they've been out for ages. I'm not touching albums of the decade, I think my brain would explode if I tried.

Waaaay back in January I got all excited about the debut album by a Scottish band I'd spent a chunk of 2007 and all of 2008 stalking, catching live as much as I could and playing the Hell out of the one single of theirs I owned. That debut release was Checkmate Savage by The Phantom Band. To say it was long awaited by me is a bit of an understatement, ever since catching the band supporting Mother & The Addicts in August 2007, while they were still unsigned and everything, I'd been desperate to hear more from them.

Thankfully when the album eventually hit in January it didn't let me down. Every time I'd seen the band they sounded a bit better and by the time I got to hear the songs recorded they sounded fantastic. Despite my familiarity with some of the songs from live shows the whole album sounded fresh to me. Nearly 12 months it still sounds fresh with each listen, and there has been a lot of them over the course of this year.

I'm fairly sure there's a rule that when talking about The Phantom Band you have to talk about Krautrock, and it does rear it's head a few times throughout the album, especially on Crocodiles, but it is just one of many influences and styles that crop up throughout. The swampy rhythms and occasional staggering riff grab hold of you, hold on and take you along for the ride.

Checkmate Savage is an assured, mature debut, no jitters by a band finding their feet are noticeable to me. I'm sure having veteran producer Paul Savage on board helped with that, but nonetheless, it's a fine debut that never fails to be rewarding and lives up to it's ambition.

My only issue with it is that having lived with the earlier single version of Throwing Bones for so long (it was named one of my favourite tracks of 2007 on one of my old blogs), the new version on the album still doesn't feel quite right to me. A minor quibble at best, other than that the ablum remains one of my favourites of the year.

The Phantom Band - Folk Song Oblivion

The Phantom Band MySpace

Christmas Songs - Day 2

Originally something else was scheduled for day two, but after Boab from Campfires in Winter sent me this over I decided I couldn't hold it back, I'd be cheating mankind if they had to wait.
Well alright, maybe not, but the song did make me laugh hysterically for quite some time.
If Boab doesn't mind, I'll quote his description of the song - "it's about 2 guys getting pished, one of them decides to burn down the tree and pretends to be a bear and asks the other one to join him. It's a lot of shite." Me, I think it might well be my new favourite Christmas song.

Campfires in Winter - Christmas Song

It doesn't represent the music Campfires in Winter make in the slightest though, it was something they put together as a pisstake, for a laugh. It does that job nicely, but get yourself round to their MySpace to hear what they normally do, and get a better understanding of why Glasgow Podcart recently raved about them.

Campfires In Winter MySpace

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Christmas Songs - Day 1

Well, it is the first of December, which means you get to open the first door on your advent calendar.
On my old blogs I used to run a musical advent calendar, where for each day of December up until Christmas Day I'd post a wee Christmas song. This year I don't think I'll be doing that, but I will be posting a few.
If I can find 24 good seasonal songs by Scottish artists, then I'll go for the full on Advent calendar, but I've only got about 10 so far. Suggestions are welcome!

To kick off proceedings I've picked out one of my favourite Christmas songs, reworked by a fabulous Scottish band. Miss the Occupier recorded Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses for a Vic Galloway session last year. It is, of course, wonderful.

Miss The Occupier - Christmas Wrapping

Miss The Occupier MySpace

Monday, 30 November 2009

Gig Review - Second Hand Marching Band, Benni Hemm Hemm, Applesofenergy, Meursault

Stereo, Glasgow - November 29th 2009

Sunday night saw a wonderful little line up put together by From A Stolen Sea and I was fortunate enough to be invited along to review things. So it was that wrapped up nice and warm I headed down to Stereo to catch some bands and indulge myself in a couple of drinks with the good Mr. Peenko.

The Second Hand Marching Band kicked off the night, and were as fun as always. I've seen them quite a few times now and it says something for them that each time I can hear a little something that I've not noticed before, a bit like when like a film, but are rewarded with bits you've missed upon rewatching. I'm always quite surprised and equally impressed that a band this size, despite the air of impending chaos, are really pretty tight on stage. Part of the fun of seeing them is you feel that you are just one bum note away from catastrophe, but the bum note never comes. It's always a pleasure seeing the Second Hand Marching Band, they never fail to put a smile on my face.

Benni Hemm Hemm were entirely new to me. Their website claims that the band has around 300 members, which is quite frankly just showing off. Rather than trying to pack 300 people on stage frontman Benedikt H. Hermannsson instead brought along a stripped back line up, and teamed up with some Second Hand Marching Band members for his set. Starting off with a song which was, I'm told, sung backwards in Icelandic (and if it turns out it wasn't, I was lied to) is an interesting way to set out your stall. Despite my initial doubts, and a struggle to stop thinking of Denace The Menace due to Benedit's red & black stripey jumper, Benni Hemm Hemm won me over pretty quickly. If you can imagine something like Belle and Sebastian, The Flaming Lips and Sigur Ros (of course) put through a blender you wouldn't be too far off. Let's hope the 300 people thing didn't give the Second Hand Marching Band any ideas though.

theapplesofenergy was a bit of a reviewer's nightmare, in a really good way. Considering that Steven Gribbin's experimental project is the main reason I got invited along, I'll clearly need to try to work my way through the nightmare a bit better than that though!
After the multiple members of the preceding two bands it must have felt a bit lonely up there as Steven took to the stage on his own, but his one man show didn't need any help from others. theapplesofenergy music goes for the kind of ambient, experimental soundscape style of music that I wouldn't generally seek out on my own, usually I'd need a nudge to get me to listen. Having been given that nudge a little while ago I'm very glad I got it. The style of music is most likely quite divisive love it or hate it material, but after the performance of last night I'm planting my flag firmly in the love it category. I'm aware I'm glossing over the actual music here, but that's simply because it isn't something I can accurately describe in text. Steven mixes guitars, drums and electronics, and mixes up musical styles too. There are tones and echos of numerous different bands in theapplesofenergy sound, but none that ever force their way to the forefront, leaving theapplesofenergy to sound like, simply put, theapplesofenergy, not anyone else.

Finally the evening draws to a close with Meursault. This is my first experience of the band live, lie so many other bands something has always gotten in the way of me catching them before. Glad I finally put that right. Sometimes I find myself admiring more than enjoying Meursault on record, not often, but just sometimes. I'm never sure why, I like their songs and think they are a fantastic band, I just occasionally have an odd disconnect with the recorded product. I'm pleased to say that I had no such issues with their set in Stereo though. In fact let's not mince words, I didn't just enjoy it, I was blown away by how good they were. You probably don't need me to tell you that Meursault are a great band, that Phillip Quire, the one member of the band I have seen before as Debutant, is a wonderful guitarist, or that Neil Pennycook has a spine tingling, booming foghorn of a voice, but I will anyway. Tonight everything combines perfectly as the hushed crowd gathers round to watch and listen to a band that are surely set for great things. Beautiful, wonderful stuff.

After that it's back on with the coat and a return to the freezing weather, Only this time the bitter cold is fought off by the warmth inside me that comes from seeing four cracking acts.

This Week's Happenings

Happy St Andrew's Day people. Time for the usual Monday round up of what's out and what gigs look good this week.

Night Noise Team release their debut single, Menolick, as a download. It's a new version of the song that appeared on the first Night Noise Team album, a live version also appeared on the Limbo Live Vol. 1 compilation. You can find it at all the usual download places, iTunes, Amazon etc.
The Wildhouse have an EP out, released by our pals 17 Seconds Records. Precise Running Order - The Wildhouse Sampler compiles tracks from The Wildhouse's two previous albums, both due to be reissued by 17 Seconds in 2010, and another track, Ficca. This one is slated for a review some time this week, so check back if you want to now what I thought of it.
Tango In The Attic release a new single too, Seven Second Stare. Check the usual download places for that too, and here's another handy Amazon link, because I'm clearly shameless this week.
Duelling Winos released a single at the tail end of last week, but I forgot to flag it up in last week's round up, so I'm doing that now. Someday/One For The Weekend was released on Friday, and all proceeds from it go to Teenage Cancer Trust.
We Were Promised Jetpacks, fresh from playing King Tut's last night, release a double A-side single, It's Thunder And It's Lightening/Ships With Holes Will Sink.

Trapped In Kansas and The Whisky Works are both big favourites round here, and both bands share the bill on Thursday at the Oran Mor as part of The Mill gigs. Text MILL62K to 82500 for tickets.
Strictly speaking this one should go in next week's round up, but just so you have plenty of notice, I'm throwing it in a week early too. Monday December 7th sees The Gothenburg Address launch their critically acclaimed debut album with a gig in Mono. Support comes from The Bucky rage and Loss Leader, with Aiden Moffat doing some DJing for good measure. You du not want to miss the Gothenburg Address album, you can order it here if you can't make the gig.
He Slept on 57 and City of Statues are also playing on the 7th at King Tut's.

As usual, give me a shout if I've missed anything.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

EP Review: Sparrow and the Workshop - Into The Wild

Monday saw the release of the second EP by Glasgow based but hailing from all over the place three piece Sparrow and the Workshop. Since I really enjoyed their last EP (or are the mini albums? I'm not sure) Sleight of Hand, I picked up the new one too and now, somewhat obviously, I'm going to write about it a wee bit.

First of all Into The Wild, like Sleight of Hand was, is really good.
The band have a real chemistry together, which is obvious right from the off on opener You’ve Got It All. Jill O'Sullivan has a really powerful, but never overpowering, country tinged voice which is nicely complimented by Gregor Donaldson's vocal contribution.
The songs are dramatic, melodic and unpredictable, often taking twists and turns in the instrumentation that you never saw coming. Add all the parts together and you get something quite thrilling

Swam Like Sharks is probably my favourite of the songs on offer here, starting out gently, before morphing into something altogether rougher. It's only a slight nudge away from being all out metal at times, and all the better for it. There's not a bad song in the bunch, and enough variety across the seven tracks to show that Sparrow and the Workshop won't be going short of ideas any time soon.

As is befitting of a band with members hailing from America and Wales, as well as a Scot, there's no chance of Sparrow and the Workshop ever being tagged as just another Scottish band. Their sound is very distinctive, and stands out a mile from the also rans. They are one of those bands who bring to mind plenty of other songs and other bands, without ever sounding like anyone but themselves.

Into The Wild more than delivers on the promise of Sleight of Hand. Now, can we have something longer next time please?

Sparrow and the Workshop MySpace

Into The Wild is available as a download now from all the usual places. A physical release is due to follow on November 30th. Sparrow and the Workshop have a few gigs coming up, including a freebie in Glasgow for The Mill. Check their MySpace for full dates.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

SXSW Announce Scottish Showcase Bands

South By Southwest have announced a list of their showcase acts for the 2010 festival.
Scottish bands playing include:
Broken Records
Frightened Rabbit
The Law
Tommy Reilly
Trembling Bells
Twin Atlantic
The View

Bit of a mixed bag, frankly...

Loch Lomond/The Builders and the Butchers - Split 12"

As promised, I'm attacking my inbox and doing all that stuff I was meant to do ages ago, but forgot about.

I'm not going to claim this is a review, because I don't have an awful lot to say about it, but I will throw in a wee bit.
Before that i should really tell you what I'm talking about first, shouldn't I? Well, it's a slightly unusual release in that it's a vinyl split 12". It's hard to make a 12" CD or download after all, although if you buy the 12" you will get a CDr thrown in, which is handy for folk like me that don't have working record players anymore.
The bands involved are Loch Lomond & The Builders and the Butchers, each contributing four songs. Neither of them are Scottish (although with that name Loch Lomond can at least claim a connection), hailing instead from Portland over in the good ole US of A. Why am I covering the release then? Well firstly because I'm allowed to write about stuff that isn't Scottish if I want, I'm not under a trade embargo you cheeky git, but mostly because the 12" is released over here by Song, by Toad Records. So there.

Both bands featured here are new to me, but after hearing this I'll be doing a bit of hunting down of their other stuff now.
Loch Lomond's songs are both gentle and lovely yet also at times a bit creepy and sinister. In that way they remind me a bit of Lambchop, even though the two sound nothing like each other.
The Builders and the Butchers are a bit rowdier, but the songs are just as good. Their first songs throws a bit of a mariachi flair into proceedings, before Vampire Flair, which you can sample below, goes off in another direction, almost putting me in mind of The Pogues.
Any release that can make me think of both Lambchop and The Pogues is a sure fire winner in my book.

The 12" has a very pretty drawing by Matthew of Song, by Toad on the front too.

Loch Lomond - A Field Report
The Builders & the Butchers - Vampire Lake

Buy from Song, by Toad Records

Album Review - Cuddly Shark

First of all, Cuddly Shark is a brilliant name, therefor to pull off such a name, your band has to be pretty great too. Good thing that Cuddly Shark manage it then. I've had this album a few weeks, and it that time it's had plenty of listens, but as is the way with me it has taken this long for me to get round to writing up a review.

Cuddly Shark caught my attention earlier this year with a trio of very promising singles, some tracks from them make a reappearance here on the album, so I was rather looking forwards to hearing this self titled debut album.

Right from the off the album grabs you and yells in your face, opening track Bowl of Cherries is all thrashy, shouty vocals and even - hurrah - hand claps. I'm a sucker for hand claps, ever since Kenickie released Come Out 2Nite.
From there on in the album is packed with fantastic riffs, razor sharp lyrics and most of all a massive sense of humour, at time the lyrics are so tongue in cheek it's amazing anyone can actually sing them.
Influences are worn of sleeves, but Cuddly Shark have so many different influences that throwing them all together brings out something quite special.
It isn't all manic riffs and shouted vocals either, the band switch things up often enough to keep things from getting stale, showing on Whiteoaks that they can be tender as well as tongue in cheek, and throwing in a cover of old country song Boney Fingers for good measure.

Along with all that this album contains both my favourite celebrity diss of the year with "Jamie Foxx on Later With Jools Holland", and my favourite sweary moment of the year on last single "The Sheriff of Aspen Bay".
AND there's an old fashioned hidden track at the end.

Brilliant stuff quite frankly. Cuddly Shark are clearly having a fantastic time on this record, and so am I.
The album might not have been out for long, but it has already forced it's way into my favourites of 2009.

As a wee sampler here's Cuddly Jim, which was a b-side to The Sheriff of Aspen Bay single. I'm picking this instead of something from the album because (a) it is fab, and the album tracks can be heard on MySpace and (b) it's got my name in it, obviously.

Download Cuddly Shark - Cuddly Jim

Cuddly Shark MySpace - Website
Buy the album here.

Monday, 23 November 2009

This Week's Thing

You know the deal with this post by now. Records out this week, a few gigs I like the look of and so on. It's essentially my shopping list.

Starting off with a freebie, Steve Mason (The Beta Band/King Biscuit Time) has a single out, called All Come Down. You can buy it, but it's also available as a free download here.
Sparrow and the Workshop follow up last week's download single with a new EP, Into the Wild. Digital release is today, CDs will be out next week.
eMusic has a reissue of Malcolm Middleton's Waxing Gibbous, which includes his "girl band" covers of The Saturdays, Girls Aloud, Ladyhawke and Joan Osbourne. The extra songs are also available without the album, on the Girl Band Pop Songs EP.
Some Scottish wummin off the telly has an album out too I think. Haven't heard much about it, don't expect it to shift many copies.

I'm not expecting to be out this week, in a desperate attempt to save money, so I haven't paid a whole lot of attention. Still, there's a couple that are tempting me.
On Thursday Make Sparks launch their new EP with a gig at Bar Bloc. Support comes from Little Yellow Ukuleles I mostly missed Make Sparks when they played Define Pop 2, so I might try and catch them this time.
Pin Up Nights takes place on Friday and it is having it's 6th birthday to boot. Playing live are The Dirty Cuts, Always Me, Me, Me as well as a pair of Aye Tunes favourites in We're Only Afraid of NYC and Mitchell Museum.
Our other good looking gig this week is on Sunday. The Second Hand Marching Band, Benni Hemm Hemm, theapplesofenergy and Meursault are playing at Stereo. Looks like a good one.
If you are in Dundee or thereabouts on Sunday, why not go along to the latest Manic Pop Thrills Presents night? There's more bands Aye Tunes love playing, like Kid Canaveral and Panda Su.
Also at the weekend there's all that Homecoming stuff going on. Tickets should be easy to get, if you fancy it. I'm still half expecting it to be downsized into taking place at the train station next to the SECC.

On The Blog:
This week I'll attempt to pick out anything in my email I've been meaning to cover but have forgotten about, and possibly catch up on some reviews. There's a vague plan to revive the old A-Z that fell apart back in May, and sometime over the next few weeks I'll be writing about some of my favourite releases of the year. You can make your own Al Megrahi jokes regarding that last one.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Single Review - eagleowl: Sleep The Winter

Somewhat luckily for me I came to the eagleowl party quite late. While all the people that have loved them since their last release, For The Thoughts You Never Had, have had to wait ages for a follow up I only got that EP recently, when the band offered it as a free download (which you can find here) so my wait for new material hasn't been long at all.

Even without the long wait, I was still terribly excited when the new single popped up in my inbox a bit ahead of release.

First reaction? Pretty much just "wow". Followed a few listens later by "this is bloody gorgeous".
I've listened to the single quite a few times since last night, and those two reactions haven't changed. These songs are bloody gorgeous.
On A-Side Sleep The Winter Bart's cracked voice is complimented perfectly by Clarissa's sweet, gentle tones. Likewise guitar and strings work perfectly together. What starts off dark and broody soon becomes warm and uplifting around halfway through, all courtesy of just a few simple changes.
B-Side Laughter is no less gorgeous. Again it keeps things simple, there's no histrionics, no showing off, just a great song.

Your one word review? Back to that first impression then. Wow. You'll struggle to find a more perfect seasonal release.
Now, like all the cool kids who picked up the first EP way back last year, I'm eagerly awaiting more new material from eagleowl. With a second EP due next year, hopefully the wait won't be too long...

The Sleep The Winter 7” single will be launched with a show at The Bowery (2 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9SU) on Friday, December 11th. Doors open at 7.30, entry is £5, and early arrival is strongly advised, so’s not to miss the amazing special guests.
From December 14th the single will be available from select independent record stores, and to order via and You also can listen to and buy it below.

eagleowl MySpace

<a href="">Sleep the Winter by eagleowl</a>