Saturday, 12 March 2011

Track By Track: Black International - In Debt

Way back towards the tail end of last year Black International were roped in to be one of my rare interview guinea pigs. At the time they mentioned that they were working on finishing off their debut album. Well that album, In Debt, is now all finished and released, so I roped Black International's Stewart Allen in to coming back to tell us all about it.
Due to me being (a) lazy and (b) rubbish I've yet to write a review for the album, but I wouldn't have asked Black International for a track by track run down if I didn't like it.

Thanks to the magic of Bandcamp embeds you can listen to the whole album as you read too. If you like it, buy it. Now, read on to learn about the mysteries of the Brazilian Trilogy, and other things.

A Million Mouths

This song probably had the longest gestation period of anything we’ve written, as I was terrified that I couldn't think of any lyrics for it, and always felt ill whenever I contemplated doing them. I think we started rehearsing this in 2008 before temporarily abandoning it, but the general chord sequence may have been kicking around for two or three years before that. We finished it a week before recording started. Nail biting, etc.


I can’t remember much about the process of writing this one, but the basic structure was finished before I took it to the rest of the band, which is quite unusual for us these days. Believe it or not, we had a sort of Sly & the Family Stone thing in mind when we were arranging it, which I think shows in the rhythm section. Imagine there are trumpets and grunts on it and you’ll see what I mean.

Dread (Excerpt)

The ‘excerpt’ in the title refers to the introduction, which was originally a complete song but wasn't very good, so we binned most of it and bolted it onto another song. The first of what I’ll call the Brazilian Trilogy, as it was written on a little Spanish classical guitar I got from a charity shop while I sat around trying to copy Jorge Ben.

The lyric idea owes a little bit to McCarthy’s Charles Windsor, but doesn’t have quite the same level of joyous nose thumbing. I’d say it was supposed to be ‘darkly comic’, if I were a bit more of a twat.

Word Virus

Imagine my disappointment upon finding out that the title was subconsciously pinched from a William Burroughs book. I thought I’d struck gold, but alas, he’d beaten me to it. Still, at least it was Burroughs and not Enid fucking Blyton.

This one was written extremely quickly in rehearsal, and I finished off the lyrics at work the next day when I was supposed to be doing some dull task or other. If my former boss is reading (doubtful), I’m sure he’ll be pleased.

Know You Exist

Originally this had the somewhat childish working title of ‘Sonic Urethra’ when I first started it, as it sounded a bit like… actually, do I even have to explain that? It doesn't sound like Sonic Youth anymore. Musically it was very much a collaborative effort, if it’d been left up to me it would have been a shapeless twenty-minute drone. Luckily Craig has a good ear for structuring stuff.

I can’t say for sure, but the “Here’s your hair shirt, son” line was probably cribbed from the title of a Birthday Party song, called (strangely enough) The Hair Shirt. I was in a bit of an odd place when I wrote these lyrics, but it’s ALL FUCKING FINE NOW OK?


Does what it says in the title. We just fancied having a bit of breathing space and dividing the album in two, so did this one evening near the end of mixing. I could give a proper in-depth description of how it was made, but nobody wants to read that shit.

The City Is Dead

This song dates back to around 2007 along with Monument and You Can Trust Me, so I can’t really remember much about its inception. It’s supposed to be a rockabilly type thing, but has been put through our patented ‘bombastic washing machine’ and the colours have run a little bit.

Lyrically it’s a bit of a jumble, but I suppose it’s about dropping out of repetitive cycles of living and doing something fun instead. We’re deep, man, what can I say?


Again, it was written a while ago and my memory is hazy… I remember doing some of the lyrics in a bar on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh one Saturday afternoon. Spot the deliberate mistake, metallurgy fans.

Idle Worship

The second of the Brazilian Trilogy, I’d have thought it was quite obvious in this instance. Close your eyes, visualise it slowed down, samba rhythm, acoustic guitar, singing in Portuguese… You could almost be mugging tourists in São Paolo!

Feed Me Rhetoric

Brazilian #3 (sounds like a humiliating waxing routine). I’m doing my best Jim Morrison croon on this one. Should I buy a pair of leather trousers, hmm? Call myself ‘The Crocodile Baron’ or something? Anyway, Lovely Latin drumming from Craig I must proclaim, and it seems to be a firm live favourite with audiences, so we hardly ever play it.

And yes, I know how ‘rhetoric’ should be pronounced, but it doesn’t fit in that way. So fuck off.

You Can Trust Me

This started out as a little folky number but when we began working on it properly we focussed it through a Birthday Party-esque prism and noised it up a bit. Are you still reading this? If I were you I’d have gone home ages ago. You really are a glutton for punishment.

In Debt is out now. You can buy it from Bandcamp - where you can get fancy CDs and T-shirts as well as a download - and the usual digital outlets, like iTunes and eMusic.

If you are reading this on Saturday then it isn't too late to make it to a Black International album launch gig. They play The Admiral in Glasgow tonight with Rollor, Ex-Men and fellow Aye Tunes interview victims Male Pattern Band. Doors are at 7pm and if you stick around afterwards you'll get free entry to the Pretty Ugly club.

Black International: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Bandcamp

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Gig Review: Admiral Fallow, Olympic Swimmers

Admiral Fallow, Olympic Swimmers.
The Arches, Glasgow.
2nd March 2011.

The anticipation for the Admiral Fallow gig has been building for a number of months now with regular twitter updates and pub chats, have you got your tickets yet was the talk. The gig was so popular it was moved to the Big Arch and eventually sold out on the night with a lucky few managing to get the last tickets on the door.

The night opened with Glasgow based band Olympic Swimmers, a new band to me but I had been reassured that they were right up my street. Named in Radar as band to watch in 2010 the band didn’t disappoint. This five piece is headed up by Susie Smillie on vocals provided a great set to warm up the night, the arch busy with an appreciative audience. The other members of the band providing a great backdrop for her vocals, playing a mix of mellow arrangements to more indie rock. The only criticisms I have is one not being able to see the band due to the amount of smoke and dark lighting on stage, and not being able to hear the vocals clear over the top of the rest of the band, but I will be looking out for their next gig and hunting down their two EPs recordings.

After a quick dash to the bar at approximately 9.30pm on Wednesday the 2nd of March I fell in love with a whole band, well to be honest I was a fan before but this confirmed it. The cheers went up as Admiral Fallow took the stage and opened with ‘Dead Leg’ from their first album ‘Boots Met My Face’. The band fronted by Louis Abbott on vocals and guitar were instantly on top form for their hometown gig. The band had the amazing The Admiral Fallow Brass section; any band with live brass gets me every time providing beautiful harmony to back the songs. As well as playing through the tracks from their debut album the guys took the opportunity to introduce some new material for their Glasgow audience, starting off with new song Paper Trench and then the fantastic The Way You were raised later on in the set. Fans of the album will not be disappointed with the new material. The lovely Sarah Hayes took the lead vocals to sing the stunning ‘Bomb Through The Town’, when the audience hushed to listen closely was just another highlight of this performance.

The band built up the audiences anticipation finishing their set with ‘Squealing Pigs’ that confirmed itself as the bands anthem with the whole room singing the chorus back to them and dancing along. But of course that was not the end as after much enthusiastic applause Louis returned to the stage with his guitar to do a solo cover of the Elbow classic ‘Switching Off’ executed beautifully just before the rest of the guys rejoined him on stage for one final set ‘Old Ballons’ before sending the audience off buzzing with excitement, or maybe that was just me...

Review by Jennifer McGlone of Glow Arts for Aye Tunes.
Photo by Claire Thomson for Catthouse.

Monday, 7 March 2011

News & Bits - March 7th

This went pretty well last week, so I'll do it again.
Here's some random news, and stuff.

Withered Hand is having some issues getting a Visa to travel to South By Southwest. Apparently someone thinks that he is not a musician of "extraordinary ability". This is clearly nonsense. So, any diplomats out there able to lend a (ahem) hand?

Applications are open for this year's t Break stage at T in the Park. Details here.

I mentioned the Monoganon album launch at Mono tonight in the gig guide this week, so may as well go ahead and point out that the album is availale now as a free download from Winning Sperm Party.

Trapped Mice, who played the first Aye Tunes Presents gig back in January, have just released their second EP. You can buy Waving & Pointing at Bandcamp, and pick up some other downloads while you are there. One a semi-related note, I should probably start thinking about putting on another gig.

Blue Sky Archives also have their second EP out now. \\Plural is available from Bandcamp.

The Son(s) release their self titled debut album today. You can get it from all the usual online places, and buy it in some real shops too, like Avalanche in Edinburgh, or LOVEmusic and Monorail in Glasgow. The album is good.

The A Forest have taken their sweet time in releasing their long promised debut album, but release it they finally have. You can buy it here.

Andrew Lindsay & The Coat Hooks have a new EP ready to go too. The Whittling isn't out until March 21st, but you can hear and pre-order it now over at Bandcamp.

Yet more EP releases! PAWS have a brilliant new one. My Parents Said We Can't See Each Other Anymore was launched in a very sweaty Captain's rest on Friday. You can get a copy here, and LOVEmusic in Glasgow should have some too.

Admiral Fallow's excellent debut album Boots Met My Face has be re-released, with a new bonus track. Refreshingly, rather than annoy those of us who bought the album first time round, you can grab the new track - The Sad Clown Cast - for free (and buy the album if you don't have it already) from Bandcamp.

FOUND release a new single, Machine Age Dancing. You can buy it in shops and on the internet. New album Factorycraft follows next week.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

This Week's Gigs: 7th - 13th March

There's a few less gigs on than usual this week by the looks of it, but what it lacks it sheer overwhelming quantity is more than made up for in quality. My wallet is unhappy though.
There's a lot of launch gigs again, as well as one farewell this week.

Monoganon. Mono.
Album launch gig for the Monoganon album, Songs To Swim To. I've not gotten round to writing up an album review as yet, but the short version goes something like this - buy album, go to gig, enjoy. Songs To Swim To is really, really good. Don't take my word for it, you can stream it at the link above.

Juan Pablo, Julia and the Doogans, Steven Milne (The Little Kicks), Becca Fox. Captain's Rest.
Launch gig for the new Juan Pablo EP, Loose Lips Sink Ships.

Oh No Oh My. Nice N Sleazy.
This is a pretty last minute gig, so I have no idea who is supporting.

Usually at a folky type gig like this there's at least one person on the bill that I really don't care for. Nice to see this one making an exception then, as everyone involved is really quite splendid indeed.

The final Y'all Is Fantasy Island gig. Sad times. If you can get there then go, give them a worthy send off.
Another good one for the Edinburgh folks, as Black International launch their debut album, In Debt. It is good, you should think about buying one here.

Glasgow leg of the album launch tour. As mentioned above, the album is good. Going to the gig will also get you into the Pretty Ugly club night afterwards.
More launching.
Yet more launching, as PKPB finish off their tour to promote Vessels and Veins, their new EP.

Words Per Minute 10. The Arches, 4-7pm.