Friday, 26 February 2010

Friday Freebies

Since Peenko is off on holiday this week I'm picking up the Friday Freebies baton while he hurtles down snowy hills. He culd have gone skiing on my street, it's bloody covered in snow.
If it's great, you're welcome. If it's rubbish, blame him. If it doesn't appear at the right time, blame Blogger for seemingly ignoring me when i schedule something.

We Were Promised Jetpacks:
While they are swanning off around America, We Were Promised Jetpacks are also getting a new EP ready for release. Titled The Last Place You’ll Look , you can download lead track A Far Cry here (via Stereogum)

Aidan Moffat:
For no apparent reason, Aidan has covered an old Calypso song called Monkey Talk, which you can download for nowt here.

Chemikal Underground:
Subscribe to the Chemikal mailing list to pick up two new free tracks (and get access to a few older ones too). On offer at the moment are a remix of the Adrian Crowley song The Beekeeper's Wife, and an exclusive track by The Radar Brother from their forthcoming The Illustrated Garden album. Sign up to the mailing list here.

Their new covers EP, Camp Rock, can be had for nothing from Bandcamp.

Conquering Animal Sound:
To celebrate their live podcast recording this afternoon, Glasgow podcart have made Conquering Animal Sound's complete live set from December's Trampoline All Day event available. You can stream it over at the PodcART website here, or download it from iTunes like you would the regular Podcast.

The Void:
From Friday 6pm til Sunday midnight The Void will be giving away their 'We'll Make Our History' EP for FREE on download along with some other B-Sides. Keep an eye on their MySpace for the link, since I might be offline most of the weekend. Update - here's the link for downloads -

Alex Gardner:
If you want something a bit more polished then you can get a free track from Alex Gardner. Pop along to his website and sign up to the mailing list for a free download of There Goes My Heart.

The Boy Who Trapped The Sun: Home - EP Review

The Boy Who Trapped The Sun - real name Colin Macleod - is already starting to make waves, with a publishing deal with Universal and a record deal with Geffen under his belt already. Not bad going for a youngster fro Lewis, admittedly.

How do the songs stand up to the buzz though? Well, that depends on what you come in expecting. If you trust the comparisons to Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Nick Drake or even Bon Iver you might find this EP a let down. If you ignore them, and try not to pay too much attention to the nu-folk tag The Boy has been picking up then there's some beautiful stuff.

Title track Home sound nothing like any of those artists above. If it sounds like anything, it's more like a really good song of an early Gomez album, right down to the distorted vocal break near the end. There's nothing wrong with that in my eyes (or ears), or with the song. Just, y'know, don't try to sell me a Gomez single in a Johnny Cash sleeve.
In the Dark has a bit of a Nick Drake feel to it in tone admittedly. Stripped back to vocals and acoustic guitar the song gives The Boy a chance to show off his talents with both to good effect.
The Fox is a warm, gentle ballad that floats along pleasantly, without really doing anything new or surprising. That's ok too, it's nice enough. Much the same can be said about the EP's closing track Change the Clocks. It's a well crafted and extremely well performed song, but it's in too much in danger of drifting off into background music rather than demanding "hey you, listen to me!".
Sandwiched between those two tracks is Lying To Get On Your Good Side, co-written with Ed Harcourt who shares vocal duties, which is much better. Combing across like a bunch of things thrown into a blender - a pinch of Radiohead, a dose of The Who's "Boris The Spider" - the results are quite wonderful. Playful and witty, with a off kilter, sinister undertone it, like Home, genuinely captures your interest for the entirety of the song.

There's wonderful songs on this EP, but I'm not so sure about the PR. An acoustic guitar doesn't turn you into a folk singer, Nu or otherwise. Acoustic rock might be a term that scares some people off, or makes Mojo magazine prick up it's ears, but it's a more apt description for what's going on here to me.
Leaving that aside though, The Boy Who Trapped The Sun is a gifted songwriter and an excellent musician, and Home is a fine taster for his upcoming album. Just try not to have any preconceptions of what you think the EP will sound like and you just might enjoy it that bit more.

The Home EP is released through Chess Club on March 1st.

The Boy Who Trapped The Sun - MySpace
The Boy Who Trapped the Sun - Home - EP

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks: Album Review

Following up an album as critically acclaimed as Midnight Organ Fight was always going to be a tall order, so who can blame Frightened Rabbit for taking their time in doing so. Doubly so given how critics do so love to break down the same darlings that they've built up. Now that the new album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, is imminent it's time to see how Scott Hutchison and crew have done.

Right from the off any fears that the band will have changed their sound or approach to appeal to a wider audience can be dismissed, there's as much here for long term fans as for newcomers. The songs might be a bit grander and a bit less sweary, but the songwriting and craft remains top notch.

Album opener Things is a bit of a low key beginning, and one of the songs that took me longest to warm to, possibly because it sounds pretty much like nothing I've heard from Frightened Rabbit. After that it's straight into first single Swim Until You Can't See Land. This wasn't a song that knocked my socks off when released as a single, but as part of the album as a whole it fares a lot better. Ironic then that the opposite applies to second single Nothing Like You. On it's own it's frantic, fast paced and catchy. In the context of the album though it feels out of place and less effective. Still a great single, mind you.

Sandwiched between the two singles is my favourite part of the album. The Loneliness and the Scream with it's handclaps and woah-oh-oh-oh's has "live favourite" stamped all over it, and is the first moment on the album that made me feel I was listening to something a bit special. It's followed up immediately by another belter in The Wrestle. Driven by a simple riff, it's an uplifting little moment that is just, for want of a better word, lovely. Skip The Youth follows and is a mini epic. Building from a lengthy instrumental to a rousing sing along ending, it's another highlight.

It's at this point that the album falters a little. As mentioned Nothing Like You feels out of place here, and it's followed by Man/Bag of Sand - something of a reprise of Swim Until You Can - which doesn't really do anything for me. It works as an album track, just leaves me cold.
Foot Shooter is another song I've not yet warmed to. It feels very anthemic and is very well executed, it just doesn't really do it for me.

From there on in though the album doesn't put a foot wrong. Not Miserable is possibly the albums best point lyrically, and sounds the most personal. Living In Colour is already becoming a live favourite and it's plain why - thumping drums that demand foot stomping, soaring strings, and a killer hook, before fading out with keyboards. Album closer Yes I Would is, again, one that grew on me after a few listens. It might pass you by at first, but after a few listens it's gentle beauty is impossible to resist. It's like ending the album with a hug.

The Winter of Mixed Drinks is an album that took me a few listens to really warm to, had I reviewed it after a single listen through I doubt I'd have been anywhere near as positive about it. It's an album that rewards repeated listens and it is also very much an album, not just a random selection of eleven songs. It isn't the Midnight Organ Fight II, but then it was never going to be.
Neither is The winter of Mixed Drinks a perfect album, but it's a very, very good one, and one deserving of pushing the band towards a newer, bigger audience.

Frightened Rabbit: Website - MySpace

The Winter of Mixed Drinks is released by Fat Cat Records on March 1st in the UK and Europe, March 9th in the US.
Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Single Review - The Paraffins: Something Good

Some things are just fun. This single by The Paraffins is one of those things.

Leading off with the electro-pop, low budget, super catchy Something Good, it takes mere seconds for a smile to cross my face.
By the time you get halfway through, just in time for the gloriously shout along chorus, you'll probably either be in love or have already decided this isn't your thing. It's my kind of thing though, and therefore brilliant. Backing vocals on that chorus - go on, yell along, you know you want to - are credited to The Petrochemical Arms, who have a few familiar Second Hand Marching Band members in their number.

B-side Little Crunchy Surprises is like an advertising jingle on acid. Clocking in a 1:15 long, it certainly can't be accused of outstaying it's welcome. You know all those adverts on TV at the moment that feel the need to be incredibly annoying to worm their way into your head? Every time one comes on listen to little Crunchy Surprises instead, it's a much more entertaining experience, and won't kill any enjoyment of opera forever either.

Rounding off the single is a remix of Something Good, by Ben Butler & Mousepad. Not much to say about this really, remixes are near impossible for me to review unless they are (a) awful or (b) drastic reworkings of the original song. The remix here certainly isn't awful, so it has that in it's favour. It doesn't do anything drastic either, beefing up the electro and being pleasantly bleepy.

All in, Something Good certainly lives up to it's title.

Officially, Something Good is released on March 22nd. However, it is available already on eMusic and iTunes, so you don't need to wait till then.

The Paraffins - Something Good - EP

The Paraffins: MySpace - Website

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

This Week's Thing - Part 2

I ran out of time to cover the gigs and other goings on yesterday, so here it is today.

We Sink Ships have a new exhibit online. Launched yesterday Elements: Fire is available to view on their website from February 22nd until 11th April. Elements: Fire", combines 12 photographs from Heidi Kuisma and Neil Milton to create 12 ethereal interpretations of fire. These images are accompanied by a new piece of music by Milton's "beneath us, the waves" music project and by a poem by the duo's friend, Rhys Baker - also of the band Wild Dogs In Winter.

Busy busy busy. Usual disclaimer - there's loads more on than what I'm listing here.
Wednesday has the Scottish Alternative Music Awards Ceremony. It's on at The Classic Grand, with an early kick off - doors are at 6.30. Remember and dress nice. As well as the awards there will be live sets from Make Sparks, This Familiar Smile, The Lafontaines & Bronto Skylift.
Lions.Chase.Tigers have a few gigs this week. On Thursday they are performing live for Stirling's Air3 Radio, Friday they are in Inverness and on Saturday they play Aberdeen with There Will Be Fireworks.
Fresh from releasing their new single yesterday Errors head off on a UK tour this week, starting with Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry on Thursday.
On Friday Glasgow Podcart are doing a live recording of their podcast. Playing live are Make Sparks (busy boys) and Conquering Animal Sound. It takes place at Creation Studios on Trongate at 3pm.
On Saturday there's several gigs fighting for your attention. Zoobizaretta play the Oran Mor, while the Classic Grand has Oliver Stays (and Kochka, I think) supporting Doll And The Kicks. Elsewhere Pooch are taking over at Bloc. As if that wasn't enough We're Only Afraid of NYC are supporting Kong at The Captain's Rest.
Bringing February to a close on Sunday we have Oliver Stays again, playing at Hurleys in Bathgate.
Sunday night in Glasgow is possibly my gig of the week, as Nice N Sleazy plays host to the triple bill of Vendor Defender, Young Aviators and Mickey 9's.

Monday, 22 February 2010

This Week's Thing

More singles this week than ten minutes before kicking out time at the dancing, so let's just get to it.

Errors release their new single - A Rumour In Africa - today on Rock Action. Their second album is pretty highly anticipated round here. The single is available as a download and a pretty coloured 7". Unlike the last time I mentioned this, I've got the date right this time, and it really is out today.
Frightened Rabbit release the second single from the Winter of Mixed Drinks - Nothing Like You - on Fat Cat. I reviewed this a few weeks ago and rather enjoyed it. Album review coming up sometime this week. Again, it's available on 7" or to download.
Spaghetti Anywhere's self titled debut EP comes out today too. You might remember that I loved it. Released by Toy Soldier Records, it's available as a 10" (with a free CD, I believe) and a download. You can buy the vinyl here.
And So i Watch You From Afar might not be Scottish, but they are awesome. Their Letters EP has been available at shows for a while, but I just spotted it as a new addition to eMusic, so there's no excuse not to have a copy.
Kathryn Williams also isn't scottish, but her new album The Quickening is - once you get past horrible thoughts of Highlander sequels - very good. That's out on One Little Indian today too.
Chris Bradley has a new single, Waltzing, out. It's download only, released by 17 Seconds Records. They've been busy recently haven't they? A new album from Bradley follows at the end of march.

I'm running a bit short on time today, so the gigs and stuff will get a seperate post tomorrow.

King Post Kitsch - EP Review

This week might be quite review heavy, as I try and get caught up on everything I should have done but put off before we venture into a new month. So if you don't like my reviews, you might want to avoid me this week. I might fail to get anything done as usual though, we'll see.

First on the list of something I've been meaning to get posted for ages is the debut release from King Post Kitsch. It's been out for a while, but better late than never eh?
King Post Kitsch is a London based Scot, and due to my inability to write "Kitsch", he's giving my spellchecker a major workout.
The self titled EP has three tracks, and they all sound really different from each other, ruining any chance I have of blagging my way through the review.
Opener Alaska kicks off with a swirling organ sound and a vocal that's almost Beatles like. Psychedelic, catchy and with a fantastic sample about the presence of bears in Alaska, it makes for a fine start.
Modern Times is a real shift in gears, driven by discordant piano, with a bit of minimalist guitar and bass. It's a song with a great feeling of unease, completely different in both style and tone from the other two songs.
Closer Fante's Last Stand is a sweet, gentle little tune for the most part, shaken up a bit with electric guitar riffing that all at once sounds out of place and absolutely perfect. There's a bit of a Bon Iver feel about this one, and it's really quite gorgeous.

Since the EP can be had for free you'd won't be losing out on anything if you give it a try. And give it a try you should. I really liked it, I hope you do too.

King Post Kitsch: Bandcamp - Website - MySpace

<a href="">Alaska by King Post Kitsch</a>

Sunday, 21 February 2010

We're Only Afraid of NYC - Zero Point Two EP Review

Ever since stumbling across the band supporting Mitchell Museum in the middle of last year we've been rather fond of We're Only Afraid of NYC round Aye Tunes way, so much so that they got on the list of bands worth watching this year, so the news that their Zero Point One EP would be followed up quickly with this release was very welcome.

Of course, after all that I really hoped the EP would be good. Is it? Well, it's a free download, so you can easily go and find out for yourself. If you need a bit of convincing though, I'll have a go.

The opening salvo of Where We Go At Night and It's Tidal is loud and insistent, all guitar but with no shortage of melody. It might come as a surprise then when the following track, Leader, is gentle, with melodica and vocals rather than guitar driving the song, but it's a very welcome change, and gives the band a chance to show off a different style, one which works just as well as the more indie rock style on some of the songs.
With Bullets brings those driving guitars back, but keeps them balances with quiet parts, giving a nice contrast, before everything builds to a crescendo, before fading out softly.
Finally, Run With Heart is another change of gears. Out with the electric guitars and distortion, in with the acoustic guitar for a song stripped back to it's bare bones. With just vocals and acoustic guitar on show, both have to be strong or everything falls apart, happily both are rock solid, closing the EP out with a soft, tender song.

To answer the is it good question then? As that wee nodding dog likes to say, oh yes.

Zero Point Two is available now as a free download from We're Only Afraid of NYC's Bandcamp page. Previous EP Zero Point One is still available there too.

We're Only Afraid of NYC: Bandcamp - MySpace - Facebook