Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Gig Review: The Last Battle, Maple Leaves and Beneath Us, The Waves

Photo © 2010 Neil Thomas Douglas

Monday, April 12th 2010
Stereo, Glasgow

Maple Leaves, The Last Battle, and Beneath Us, The Waves

I hadn't really been planning on reviewing this gig, so being "off duty" meant I was having a beer or two. Lack of money meant there wasn't too much drinking, so hopefully things won't get too hazy...

Up first were The Last Battle. Or rather half of The Last Battle, some members having been lost to the dangers of drinking in the Sun. Seeing the band stripped back to just the three members possibly wasn't an ideal way to catch them live for the first time. They were fine, and the songs are great, but they'll hopefully not mind if I don't think they were firing on all cylinders last night.
Still, even a half decent Last Battle was more than good enough to keep me entertained, and eager to see the band again soon. This all sounds much less enthusiastic than it is meant to, I've realised. They were good! Also, the sound in Stereo was pretty much perfect, and stayed so all night, which was a lovely bonus.

Maple Leaves were up next, and surprisingly this was the first time I'd seen them too. They seem to have a fantastic ability to schedule gigs for nights when I'm either elsewhere, or too broke to leave the house, so it was great to finally catch them live.

Maple Leaves have a knack for writing upbeat, sunny folky pop songs that even if you haven't heard them before come across like a familiar friend that never fails to put a smile on your face.
Regular readers might have noticed that I'm a sucker for a sweet boy/girl harmony, something that Maple Leaves delivered in spades. Throwing in some instrument swapping along with the harmonies and gorgeous songs meant that Maple Leaves were right up my street. They are a band that it is physically impossible for me not to like, and they were on fine form.

Finally it was Beneath Us, The Waves - AKA Neil Milton - taking to the stage. I must be honest here, my main reason for planning to be off review duties was that I didn't know how this would go. I really enjoy the music that Neil makes - heck I'm even quoted on the gig poster saying as much - but the glacial, ambient soundscapes that he creates are something that I usually need to be in a certain frame of mind for, and I wasn't to sure how the music would translate into a live setting.

Obviously since I've ended up doing a review the music worked well, and any thoughts I had of having to smile through gritted teeth and feign enjoyment were dispelled quickly.

On stage Neil, his keyboard and gadgets were joined by a four piece string quartet,which went a long way to filling out the sound and keeping attention focused on the stage. Also joining in at one point were the aforementioned Maple Leaves, helping out on one song, and having a member - Julian - renamed Justin for the occasion.

The Beneath Us, The Waves songs were as beautiful as they always are, and happily worked well live, meaning I could go home happy.

Monday, 12 April 2010

This Week's Records

Right then, a fairly knackering gig guide got it's own post this week, so here's the new records out now.

Always Read The Label have their debut single out. You can buy Influence here on CD, or from all good download shops on, er, download.
Sparrow & The Workshop have their first proper album out. Crystal Falls is available to download now, with a physical release to follow.
Palace Ballet release their debut single, Gabriel/City of Lights. Since I'm useless I didn't get a chance to review this yet, and missed a chance to through in a plug for the single launch gig that happened last week. Oops. Anyway, you can get the single on iTunes and I'll try and find time to review it this week.
There's a new release from Dominic Martin, the East Glasgow Deep EP.
Oh, Peter Parker have a split single, with The Sexual Objects out. I managed to not know anything about that till I saw it, meaning I missed the launch gig last night. I've also learned that googling for "sexual objects" isn't for the faint hearted. Anyway, yes, Pretty Living/Outta Place Again is out now on 7" and download.
The Schnapps single mentioned and reviewed last week should be widely available today too.
The new EP by We Were Promised Jetpacks is released over here today, a few weeks after the US got it. The Last Place You'll Look features three new songs, and two reworkings of old ones. It is pretty excellent.
You Already Know have a special CD out on Saturday for Record Store Day, but you can see the gig guide for more into on that.
As I knew I would, I missed one this week. Factory Kids have a new EP out. They follow up their last release EP1 with the One EP. Try not to get confused.

Dammit, I was hoping to put of renewing my eMusic account for a few weeks, but there's more than enough out just today to mean I have to do it sooner than that.

As always give me a nudge if I've missed anything. Also, I do hate to ask, but if you are going to be buying any of this stuff off iTunes if you go through the wee link at the top of the sidebar on the right you'd be doing me a favour.

This Week's Gigs

I'll come back to the records this week, since right now I have no idea what is out today.

There's a lot of gigs this week. if I had money I'd barely be at home. Alas, I'm skint, so just get to moan about missing loads of stuff instead. Did no one get my memo asking for April to be a quiet month?

Tonight you have Maple Leaves, The Last Battle, and Beneath Us, The Waves at Stereo. Kick off is 9pm, cost is £5, and there's a quote from me on the poster. I'll be at this one, should anyone going along along want to buy a Peenko vs Aye Tunes ticket *hint hint*.

Alternatively tonight there's Chiledonia 8.8 at the Oran Mor. This event will take place in order to send aid to the many communities of Chile. The line up includes Ballboy, The Low Miffs, Kid Canaveral and loads more. More details here.

Tuesday has an Exposure Scotland showcase at Maggie May's. Playing on the night are Toy Fires, Call Me Ishmael and the rather fabulous Little Yellow Ukuleles.

There's another Exposure Scotland gig at the same place on Wednesday, with .Scores, The Darien Venture and Trapped In Kansas playing. That's a nice wee line-up.

Also on Wednesday The Classic Grand has a fantastic line up of bands. For £6 you can see Endor, Yahweh, Super Adventure Club and A Band Called Quinn. This is one I'm particularly annoyed I won't be going to.

Finally on Wednesday, because trying to be in just two places at once isn't enough, Shambles Miller is playing in Macsorleys.

Thursday has a wee bit of a special gig, taking place at King Tut's. It's a United Nations gig for Radio 1, hosted by Vic Galloway (who, much to my surprise and delight name dropped Aye Tunes in the News of the World yesterday), with Chickenhawk, Race Horses, And So I Watch You From Afar and The Phantom Band playing. Oh my. Tickets for this one are all gone, but if any Aye Tunes readers missed out, you could perhaps send me an email and you might find yourself with a ticket.

On Friday Pareto play a gig at The Courtyard in Glasgow to launch their new EP, Your Heart is Ready For Home. I liked the EP a whole lot more than I expected to.
Also on Friday Nice n Sleazy plays host to Schnapps, The Feuds and The Strange Boys.

Saturday has loads on.
It is Record Store Day, so get down to your local record shop and buy stuff. If anyone feels stupidly generous they can pick me up a copy of the new Arab Strap box set, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, which will be available for the day. It looks brilliant, as you'd expect from Chemikal Underground and Arab Strap.
Monorail and Avalanche in Glasgow will both be hosting live bands all day long, but the one I'm particularly excited about is the mighty You Already Know playing their fist gig in a while in Avalanche at about 5pm. YAK will also have a very limited edition CD on sale on Saturday, featuring cover versions of songs by Rage Against The Machine, Talking Heads, Far and Embrace.

Later on Saturday you get to play multiple choice with gigs. The Dirty Cuts are playing at Nice N Sleazy, FOUND play a free gig at SWG3 to celebrate moving their moody musical wardrobe Cybraphon to Glasgow, and the 13th Note has Lou Vargo, Evan Crichton and 3 other bands fighting for your attention.

On Sunday, you can have a nice wee lie down.

Album Review: RM Hubbert - First & Last

On the face of it an instrumental, flamenco tinged album by one man and his acoustic guitar, influenced by such cheery events as being diagnosed with chronic depression and the death of both parents doesn't really sound like the most appealing thing in the World. When the album is the first solo release by RM Hubbert, formerly of El Hombre Trajeado, big favourites of mine in the past, I've got more than enough goodwill to give it a chance.

The album has been around for a few months now, and has lived in my computer for a fair while too, where it has racked up a lot of plays, and keeps picking up more. It's an album I keep coming back to over again, unlike a lot of the music that comes my way.

Technically Hubbert is an incredibly good guitarist, but there's nothing showy or self indulgent about the music on the album. Instead the emotion of the songs shines through, whether it be happy or sad. It's wonderfully excecuted, brilliantly crafted and packed with soul and feeling.

Don't let the opening paragraph put you off or scare you away, First & Last is a gorgeous album, and well worth giving a try.

RM Hubbert: Website

First & Last is available now from Bandcamp. Both the download and regular CD versions are available on a name your price basis. You can stream the whole album there so there's no excuse not to have a wee listen at least.
<a href="http://rmhubbert.bandcamp.com/track/by-reference-2">By Reference by RM Hubbert</a>

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Single Review: Over The Wall - Settle Down

Over The Wall are a bit of an unusual band. There's just the two of them, but unlike most two pieces both Gav and Ben can be found at the front of the stage. Rather than one lurking behind a laptop in the dark as you'd expect both men have equal claim to being the frontman. All of which doesn't really have anything to do with their new single, other than the chemistry between the pair being obvious throughout.

Settle Down is one of those songs that clicks for me instantly. Kicking off with a drum beat that forces involuntary head bobbing and shouty vocals, before more and more layers creep in. If you aren't moving by the time the guitar and trumpet come in around halfway, you might actually be dead. Add to that some eminently sing along lyrics - the Go break free, it’s not your responsibility refrain has been stuck in my head all week - and this is gorgeous.
B-Side A History of British Welfarism 1945-1984 has been around for a while - a version was included on last year's Limbo Live compilation - but familiarity doesn't hurt it. Less upbeat and poppy than Settle Down it shows off another side of Over The Wall. It too has a massive chorus.
All in this is a brilliant single. Buy it.

Over The Wall: MySpace
Settle Down is released by Motive Sounds and available now on 7" from some record shops, or directly from here. The single is also available to download. Go get hold of their debut EP The Rise and Fall of Over The Wall while you are at it.