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.