Saturday, 7 November 2009

Detour Podcast Launch Night

As I've said before, I prefer to leave gig guides to other sites that can do it better than me, but some things I'll post up here, mostly things I'm going to.

This is one I might not get to, but if I don't I'll be kicking myself.
The occasion of the night is, as the poster suggests, to launch the new Detour Podcast. The podcast itself sounds like something worth keeping an ear out for.
Even if it turns out rubbish, which I really doubt it will, Bronto Skylift and Lions.Chase.Tigers are both excellent bands, well worth seeing.

Detour Scotland Website - MySpace - Facebook

Friday, 6 November 2009

Kochka - Dacha/Summer House EP Review

Kochka are a band I've been meaning to write about for ages, but for on reason or another I've never quite gotten round to it. Since they are one of the bands playing Define Pop 2, and since they really cheered me up on a bad day by sending me badges, it's about time I finally gave them the coverage I've been intending to.

Kochka (Czech for "cat" I believe) are a four piece, formed in Glasgow. Made up of two girls and two boys - Sheryll, Mhairi , Stewart and Markk - they make music, funnily enough. Since forming in 2008 they've kept themselves busy gigging extensively, both on their own and supporting the likes of The Phantom Band, and slipping out a couple of EPs and a single. Second EP, Dacha/Summer House was released way back in August. I picked it up from eMusic on release, loved it, and promptly forgot to review it.

The Dacha/Summer House EP holds the distinction for the release I've taken the longest to get round to reviewing then. I'll point out now that that is no reflection on the quality of it - as the review will show - but is all down to my good old fashioned forgetfulness and circumstances too boring to detail.
The first thing that struck me about the EP was that even though it hadn't been that long since I'd gotten their previous release, The Dead Room Party single, they'd improved quite a bit, and I say that as someone who loved that earlier single (Sadly I don't have debut EP Numbers. Wonder if the band have any left they could sell me?). Maybe improved is the wrong word. If so, take your pick from evolved or matured instead. Stop looking at me like that, I've always said I'm rubbish at writing reviews... The other thing that struck me was that I was struck with a sudden urge to dance around the room. Good work by the songs, but not pretty for anyone who may have the misfortune to see my shimmy.

Right from the off lead track Cowards and Kings grabs you with a jangling, Television-esque guitar line, before Markk's distinctive vocals kick in. Next thing you know you've been dragged along for the ride through a song while changes direction several times and remains infectious throughout.
So far so good then, but things get even better with the next track, Dacha (In The Summer). Outstanding bass and percussion threaten to steal the show for a while before falling back around half way through to allow Stewie to take centre stage with his guitar. It brings about 50 different songs to the back of my head, just enough for me to think "that sounds a bit like..." before shoving them away before I can think of what. The lesson I'm taking from this is that it might remind me a bit of something, but it just sounds like Kochka.
Memory Box / Personal Effects has a darker tone to it, and a lot going on in the background. I swear there's a typewriter in there somewhere. It's a bit sleazy, very funky, and an awful lot excellent.
Finally Black Cat closes proceedings and goodness, they've quite possibly saved the best for last. Quite a trick considering the previous three songs, as you can hopefully tell, left quite an impression. Distorted guitars, Markk's vioce threatening to venture into Pixies territory, percussion all over the place tapping out a beat straight into your urge, defying you not to move.

All the songs from Dacha/Summer House - and a few not from it - can be heard on the band's MySpace. I urge you to have a listen.
Kochka don't do indie by the numbers. There music might initially sound simple enough, but that's all part of their diabolical plan to make your body move before you've noticed you aren't listening to another plain, run of the mill band. There's some fantastic musicianship going on in there, and careful or repeated listen will make you notice that things are a lot more complex than you initially thought. These aren't disposable, sing-along 3 minute pop songs, they are smart, sexy, funky and oh-so-groovy.
If listening at home close the curtains, make sure the dog isn't watching, and dance your arse off to this fantastic little EP.

For the next few days you can snag a free download of Man Of Letters here.
Find Kochka on MySpace -

Kochka's records are available at shows, in the usual independent shops, and to download from the like of eMusic and iTunes.
They play The Living Room stage of Define Pop 2 on Saturday Nov. 14, Sleazies in Glasgow on the 20th and in Stirling on Dec. 20th. Go see them.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Gig Review: Debutant, Esperi, Panda Su and Yahweh

Amidst the freezing cold winds, pouring rain and general miserableness on Sunday's weather there was one huge bright spot, the gig in The Classic Grand.
If you've been here at all in the last week you'll know all about it, but just in case you haven't, Glasgow PodcART put on a gig with four pretty swell acts. I went, rubbish weather and no money is a poor excuse for missing out on a line up like this -especially since I'd seen none of the acts before, and this is what I thought of it.

Taking the stage first was Debutant, AKA Phillip Quirie. Debutant's first song was marred by technicals issues. Fortunately that was sorted out quickly and the rest of the set, just one man, his guitar and his pedals, provided a fine start to the evening. Gentle and mellow but never becoming samey, up until King of Double Speak provides a surprisingly intense climax to the set. I think this might also have been the quietest gig audience I've ever come across too, as everyone stood (or sat) hushed, listening to Phillip go to work. One of the lyrics from one of the songs (sorry, the title escapes me, help very welcome!) was "You know I hang on every word you say", which pretty much summed up what I thought of Debutant.

Panda Su was up next and after the rotten job I did on her profile piece the other day (sorry again Su) her set was always going to be bombproof review-wise. Luckily for me I don't need to say nice things about it just to make up for being rubbish, since Panda Su were actually brilliant. Joining Su and her regular cohort Red was esperi's Chris on drums and later Jonnie Common, hopping up on stage at Su's invitation. Su promised to keep between song chatter was kept to a minimum, even though there was still more of than you'll get with many bands, due to Su being a bit under the weather, but any illness doesn't appear to have affected the performance. Panda Su's songs have an air of melancholy and fragility to them, but are delivered in a strong, confidence voice that can alternately put a smile on your face and a crack in your heart.
Also, you can't really complain about any band that has a front woman with panda face paint and a song about Prince Eric from the Littlest Mermaid, can you?
There's a little sample of Panda Su's set - Facts and Figures - recorded on the night by Glasgow Podcart here.

Tonight esperi was just Chris Lee-Marr and his selection of instruments, of which there were many. Beginning by inviting the audience in closer to the stage and assuring us he's "not that scary" Chris then abandoned the stage for his first song opting instead to quietly sing Home from atop a table, after which he admitted that maybe he is a bit scary after all. Having never seen esperi I didn't know what to expect from the set, but I think any expectations would have been blown anyway. It was incredibly engaging throughout, enchanting almost. On Cats And Dogs Chris went through God knows how many instruments, looping little bits as the song gradually builds. By my count Cats and Dogs clocked in at around 20 minutes long and throughout the full length never threatened to get stale or boring. It would be easy for this kind of thing to be performed too seriously, but thankfully Chris Lee-Marr isn't just a fantastic musician, he also has a sense of humour, so things never get too earnest. Tremendous stuff.

The final act was Yahweh, playing as a full band tonight, and elevating the noise levels in all the best ways. Main man Lewis Cook is probably sick and tired of people mentioning his youth, but I'm going to do it again anyway. For one so young not only do Cook's songs have incredible maturity, but he's comfortable on stage too. Add into that a tight live band and Yahweh are quite special live. I mentioned in my feature last week that I'm a big fan of the album, Tug of Love, I'm possibly an even bigger fan of the way the songs sound live now. Great songs, great band, great night!

Both Yahweh and esperi are performing at Define Pop 2, I can't wait to see them both at that.
Panda Su is back in Glasgow in December for the PodcART crew's Christmas Party, in a night that I won't be missing. Hopefully it won't be too long before Debutant pays Glasgow another visit too.

Lest I forget, Waves Below did a great job keeping the ambiance going between acts from the DJ booth.

Links: Glasgow PodcART - Oxjam - Debutant - Esperi - Panda Su - Waves Below - Yahweh

Monday, 2 November 2009

EP Review: Kid Canaveral - Left And Right

We've established that I'm not the best at keeping up on what I'm meant to be doing by now, so it should come as no surprise that I once again preface a review with an apology. Sorry to Kid Canaveral, who sent me over their new EP just before it's launch night weeks ago and it has taken me this long to get round to reviewing it.

There's something I knew already about Kid Canaveral from picking up their previous singles, and that is that they know their way around a catchy tune. The Left and Right EP reinforces this from the off, with the opening track after which the EP is named grabbing you instantly with it's killer hook, sweet harmonies, summery cheeriness and all round bouncy joy. Indie pop splendidness that reminds a bit of The Delgados (and being compared favourably to The Delgados is one of the highest compliments I can pay someone).

From there the songs change direction somewhat - no pigeonholing for this lot. Stretching the Line is still catchy as heck, but throws an electronic drum beat and some strings into the mix. Still cheery, still headboppy, but entirely different from Left and Right.

Finally Long in the Tooth closes the EP and is another shift in direction, leaving behind the bounciness for a more gentle, melancholic tone.

With just three tracks, the longest clocking in at three minutes long, the EP doesn't run any risk of outstaying it's welcome, but shifting the songs from out of your head will take considerably longer. Left and Right is a great little piece of work from a band who started off pretty damn good but continue to evolve and improve.

You can buy the EP, on cassette no less, direct from the band here. They'll give you a free download with the tape, so there's no need to panic that you won't be able to listen to it. If you just want the download the EP is also available from eMusic, iTunes etc.

Kid Canaveral play the upcoming Define Pop Festival II at The Flying Duck, so can we pretend I'm not horribly late with this review and I was just saving it to act as a Define pop preview? No? Oh ok then.

More on Define Pop Festival 2

I've mentioned the second Define Pop Festival a couple of times already, but now there's a wee poster to show you to go with it.
Some of the artists playing - Kid Canaveral, Esperi, The Morgue Party Candidate, Yahweh, Second Hand Marching Band - have featured on Aye Tunes before, others are scheduled to appear on here between now and the gig. I doubt I'll get round to everyone, but I'll try to do as many as I can.
Barring any hiccups I'll be attending both days, desperately trying not to drink too much so I can review it afterwards.

If you want any more details head on over to the Define Pop MySpace. If you ask nicely over there you might even be able to get tickets at a lower price than Tickets Scotland are asking.