Thursday, 20 May 2010

T-Break Announced

I haven't been paying much attention to T in the Park to be honest. I fear I'm too old for it now, and the main line up does nothing to convince me, or even think a little bit, that I'm missing out on anything by not paying attention.

However, tonight (or this morning for most people reading this) saw the line up for the T-Break stage announced, and there;s some really, really good bands involved.
Here;s the full line-up:

I'm of course delighted for all the bands who have been chosen to play at T-break this year, but I'm particularly happy for about half of them who have featured in one form or anther on this blog over the last year or so, and doubly happy for Mitchell Museum, who in one fell swoop have gone from playing a gig for a couple of guys that had no idea how to put on a gig to one of the major summer festivals.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Loch Lomond - Night Bats EP Review

Loch Lomond might have a Scottish name, but they hail from Portland, which is somewhere over in that America place. They also pronounce their name funny. They are over in the UK at the moment though, doing a little tour to coincide with the release of this EP on Song, by Toad Records, which is why they are getting a mention round here today.

Well, that and the simple matter that the EP is really good, it doesn't matter where good stuff comes from. Loch Lomond are a band that first came to my attention after a previous release on Song. by Toad, a split 12" with The Builders & The Butchers, which I liked enough to send me scurrying to eMusic to find more from the bands. I picked up Night Bats then, but as I say, it has just been released over here by Song, by Toad.

Loch Lomond would fit in pretty nicely over this side of the pond if they ever fancy a move actually, since they do a good line in the sort of indie, folky sound that's always popular round here. I get the feeling that if you enjoy the likes of Sparrow & The Workshop then you'll rather enjoy Loch Lomond too.

Opening track Ghost of an Earthworm could happily rename itself Ghost of an Earworm without any problems, it is as perfectly sculpted a folk pop song as any you'll hear, which lodged itself in my brain rapidly and won't leave. Plus, it has handclaps. I'm a sucker for handclaps.
The EP gets off to a great start then, and doesn't really let up from there on in. Title track Night Bats isn't as immediate, being a more laid back affair that sneaks up on you rather than forces itself on you, but it is no less gorgeous, and makes for a nice change of pace. Particularly as the tempo is upped again by Spine (MMIX) a deceptively simple sounding song that stomps along, slows down a bit, then builds to a glorious climax.

Saving the best for last, the EP closes with Wax and Wire, my favourite of an excellent selection. Mixing a bit of everything - strings, piano, excellent harmonies, even a bit of birdsong - into the song yet remaining sparse and open sounding Wax and Wire is just gorgeous, a song that leaves my spine tingling a little, and my day much better for having heard it.

Loch Lomond have a few gigs over the rest of the week around the UK which should be well worth catching, visit their MySpace or Song, by Toad for all the details.

Loch Lomond - MySpace

The Scottish Enlightenment - Pascal EP

I mentioned this last week in the new releases round up, but this is the first that I've managed to batter through laziness to write a wee bit more about it.

The Scottish Enlightenment first came to my attention around October last year when, apparently after a lengthy hiatus, they posted a few tracks as a free download, and I was pointed in their direction. The freebies were excellent, and the band were filed away in my head as one to keep an eye out for.

When I heard they had an EP of songs that wouldn't be on their upcoming album ready to go I was eagerly anticipating it then, even more so when some friends got their mitts on review copies and taunted me with how good it sounded. I waited impatiently on release, even going so far as checking to see if the label Armellodie would sneak it out early like they've done with the last couple of Super Adventure Club releases, every day for the week before release.

When I'm that hyped up for a release it would be really easy to be let down by it. Especially considering that the EP was to be composed of songs that hadn't for whatever reason made the cut for the album. Let's not beat around the bush and get straight to it, the Pascal EP is no collection of duff songs, it's gorgeous, and more than lived up to the expectations I had heaped upon it.

The whole thing can be sampled using the wee player at the bottom of the post, so I won't bother telling you what it sounds like, you can spare 20 minutes some time and find out for yourself.

If you are like me the dreamy, slow paced melodies will quickly have you hooked, and thinking something along the lines of "if this is the stuff that didn't make the album, how bloody good is it going to be?". All Homemade Things is one of the best songs I've heard all year. Simple, understated, and a bit brilliant. But there I go, raising my expectations again. Somehow I don't think I'm going to be let down.
If you aren't like me and find yourself unimpressed, well, you are of course entitled to your opinion, just know that it is wrong, sorry.

The Scottish Enlightenment: Website - Bandcamp

The Scottish Enlightenment's Pascal EP is released by Armellodie Records and available now.

Monday, 17 May 2010

This Week's Records

It's a good week for singles, but there's a cracking album out too. Here's the new releases.

Night Noise Team - You Won (single) Touched on this one in the round up reviews the other week. It's a big disco dancefloor monster, and gets a large Aye Tunes stamp of approval. Released today through all the usual download places, and Bandcamp.

French Wives - Me Vs Me (single) We like this one a lot too. New single from the band that make me sing songs on the night bus, available on CD and download. Why not go along to LOVEmusic later today to see the band do an instore performance and buy the single there?

Camera Obscura - The Nights Are Cold (single) Twee pop loveliness, as usual. The A-side is a cover of the Richard Hawley song, while the flip side has a remix of The Sweetest Thing by Hawley himself. Out on 7" and download.

The Whisky Works - Electric (single) Ahead of the (re)release of their debut mini album next week, here's a new single. This is the song I didn't like until it turned out all the things I disliked about it were due to a faulty mp3 file, and the song is pretty good, really.

Silver Columns - Cavalier (single) Another teaser for the upcoming Silver Columns album, with a couple of remixes thrown in for good measure. Out on 12" and download.

Crow Road - What Your Hand Can't Hold (single) Available from Wednesday, when there's also a launch gig for the single.

The Red Show - EP (EP, obviously) Not actually a new release, but this is as good a time and place to mention it as any. Over on their (very swanky) website The Red Show are offering a chance to buy their next EP in advance of it being recorded. In return you'll get the new EP as soon as it is done and a download of their last EP, along with some other unspecified goodies.

The Kays Lavelle - Be Still This Gentle Morning (album) Oops, I've still not written my review of this, have I? Short version then - it is really very good. Should be available from record shops across the land on CD, and a download option is on the way too, keep an eye on Wiseblood Industries for more info and buying options.

Maxwell Panther - Lovers reBEL (album) Another album from the prolific and endearingly lo-fi Mr Panther. Available as a pay what you like download on Bandcamp.

I think that's the lot for this week, tell me if I missed anything.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Haftor Medbøe Group - A Box of Monkeys - EP Review

Normally when I write the word jazz it will be followed by an expletive, so I was as surprised as anyone when I bought this EP (or is it a mini-album? I never know) on impulse a little while back.
Heidi Kuisma of We Sink Ships had pointed me in the direction of the promo video for As Time Spins Backwards, one of the songs from this album and I was quite taken. Even though I knew I shouldn't be buying stuff after midnight on a Saturday night, although for once I was doing it while sober, a bit of listening around convinced me that parting with my five quid would be worth it.

I wasn't wrong. Yes, it is absolutely a jazz album, but it isn't impenetrable or over indulgent, and at no point did I think of any expletives to use against it while listening to it. There's plenty of genre mashing in there if you need to rationalise it to yourself.
That being said the standout moments for me are the ones with vocals, like As Time Spins Backwards, the song that hooked me in the first place. Give me a break, you know how frightened I get when I move outside my comfort zone!

Vocals on the album come from Anneke Kampman, half of Conquering Animal Sound. If you've been paying attention round here you'll probably have noticed that that band have quickly become a big favourite of mine, and I just plain love Anneke's vocals, both there and here. Coupled with interesting but again never over indulgent arrangements, and strong melodies everything comes together nicely.

Don't get me wrong, the instrumentals - which outnumber the vocal ones if you want a count - are pretty gorgeous too, and more Boards of Canada than Jazz Club. Opening track Pneumatic is a little bit too frantic for me, but still has plenty in it I enjoyed, while the other two are much more laid back affairs, and more to my liking.
A Box of Monkeys won't be to everyone's tastes, but if you leave your preconceptions at the door and give it a try you might find yourself pleasantly surprised, just like I was.

Have a listen to As Time Spins Backward and see what you think.

Haftor Medbøe Group: Website - MySpace
A Box of Monkeys is available directly from Fabrikant Records, and from the usual download places.

Haftor Medboe Group - A Box of Monkeys

This Week's Gigs: 17-23rd May

Gig guide time, always exciting. No? Oh shush.
As usual, if there's something you want to see included on the gig list just drop me a line. Telling me on Thursday or Friday the week before the gig usually works well.

Monday 17th:
Not much on, that I can see, so pop down to LOVEmusic (what used to be Avalanche in Glasgow) to catch French Wives doing a short set to launch their excellent new single. I'll try not to sing along.
The Cheek, Miniature Dinosaurs. King Tut's, Glasgow.
Later you could always head along to this. Don't know much (anything actually) about The Cheek, but support band Miniature Dinosaurs are pretty good fun. Tickets are £5 here, if you hurry.

Tuesday 18th:
The Red Show, Glasgow Glam Bangers, Charles Randolph Rivers’ Slim Rhythm Revue and Little Eye. BOX, Glasgow, Free.
Three bands I know nothing about, and The Red Show, who I quite dig. At the bargain price of free it's worth risking if you need a gig on Tuesday.

Wednesday 19th:
Song, by Toad Showcase: Loch Lomond, Johnnie Common and Meursault. Mono, Glasgow.
Mr. Toad comes to Glasgow. Making the Edinburgh to Glasgow journey look irrelevant are Loch Lomond, over from Portland in that big America place. Joining them on the bill are two more of the Song, by Toad roster, including Meursault who I always find excellent live.

Crow Road, The Seventeenth Century. Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow.
Crow Road are launching their new single, and are one of many bands this week to have got themselves a right good support band.

It's also my pal Justin's birthday on Wednesday, so if you see us around feel free to buy him a pint.

Thursday 20th:
I always complain there's no good gigs happening in Paisley, finally there's something to shut me up this week. With a line-up boasting a ton of bands, the UWS Union Music Festival takes place at the Paisley Student Union on Thursday from 5pm. Entrance is only £2, and you don't have to be a student to go. Go here for more details, and if anyone wants to buy me a drink that would be lovely, I'll protect you from neds.

Lots on elsewhere too...
Tigerfest moves on to its second stage, leaving Edinburgh behind for Dunfermline for the next few nights. Full details here.

The Whisky Works, LightGuides & Pareto. Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow. 8pm, £5.
The Whisky Works launch their mini album, and rope in some fab friends to support. Funny story: I picked up the mini album a while back and thought that the new single, Electric, was ok, but terribly repetitive with no pay off. When I finally caught the band live it turned out my mp3 is wonky, and loops a couple of times during the song before cutting off before the end. That explained that then.

Glasgow PodcART Live Session: Stanley Odd + Bigg Taj
The PodcART crew spread their wings for a hip hop session. Admission is by invite only, visit the Podcart website for details on how to get in.

Lafaro, Always Read the Label. Captain's Rest, Glasgow.
Norn Iron's LaFaro are out and about touring their recently released debut album. Support comes from local lads Always Read The Label. Rifftastic.

Friday 21st:
Tigerfest reaches Aberdeen too, with quite frankly awesome The Unwinding Hours playing at the Tunnels.

The Dirty Cuts, The Paraffins, Palace Ballet and Canary Warfare. 13th Note, Glasgow.
Yet another bill packed with bands Aye Tunes likes. Clearly there's a conspiracy to seperate Jim from all his cash this week.

Mix Up Mayhem 2: Boygirlanimalcolour, Call Me Ishmael, Little Yellow Ukuleles and Gav Galloway. Creation Studios, Glasgow. Free entry, buy a food voucher and you can BYOB.
See? More evidence. Bands do a bit of their own stuff, a cover of the other bands, and a cover of something else.

Saturday 22nd:
Stag & Dagger takes place across Glasgow, you can see who, where and when in my post a couple of days ago.

Night Noise Team, Paul Vickers & The Leg and Little Kicks. Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh.
For those of you of an Edinburgh persuassion you could skip along to this. It's a launch gig for the new Night Noise Team single, which is a cracking tune. Also, Paul Vickers & The Leg are mental.

Ace City Racers, Suplex The Kid, Lords of Bastard and Serf. Flying Duck, Glasgow.
The latest Ducksoup night at The Flying Duck boasts a fine line-up. Doors open at 7.30, £5 in.

Sunday 23rd:
RBRBR and Horse Meat Disco, Devil Disco at The Bongo Club, Edinburgh.
Dance your face off to this pair, but watch out for RBRBR's ninja.

Digging Your Scene Live: You Already Know, Trapped in Kansas, Sugar Crisis & 1 more TBC. Creation Studios, Glasgow. 2pm start, tickets £5 from LOVEmusic.
Right away in the shape of YAK and Trapped in Kansas you have two Aye Tunes endorsed bands. TiK made my Tips for 2010 list, while YAK made one of my favourite albums of last year (and snuck me some demos of album #2, which sound cracking). Add in a cool wee place and a host of other things going on during the day and this promises to be pretty awesome.

bis, Peter Parker. Stereo, Glasgow.
The one and only bis play a one off Scottish date on another reunion, with support from the splendid Peter Parker.

Lloyd, you've been warned, not a word in the comments.