Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Album Review: You Already Know - Petrol Money

What's that, You Already Know's second album - Petrol Money - is out today? That can't be right, that would mean I'm incredibly late with a review. Oh, balls. Yes, once again I thought I had loads of time to write about an album before it was released, then got lazy. My apologies.

Now, this is going to be tricky. You see, I bloody love You Already Know. Debut album Stop Whispering was one of my top albums of 2009. I think I've been at every gig they've played in Glasgow since this time last year. The opening track from Petrol Money already made it into my favourite songs of last year. I put it on a mixtape (well, mix CD) and everything. Yeah, it would be fair to say I'm a fan. What's more is that nearly exactly a year ago (Record Store Day 2010, fact fans) I was handed a CD with demo versions of around half this album, so now a year on they've been listened to over and over, giving me plenty of time to fall in love with a lot of the songs here. After all that, can I write a fair review of Petrol Money, or will this just turn into a mildly embarrassing love letter to a band from a fan with a blog?

Can I do both? Petrol Money is, quite simply put, excellent. From the preamble above you could probably guess I'd say that, but I'm not making it up.

The album kicks off with the family friendly Let's Fuck, and instantly makes it's intentions clear. There will be huge, meaty riffs. Drums will pound and cymbals will crash. Things will get loud, make no mistake. Let's Fuck hardly seems like an offer, more like a demand. In case there was any doubt it is followed on the album by Goliath, which is every bit as massive as the name implies. For a moment things almost then get too literal, as The Stride comes along like a big swaggering beast, but that doesn't last long.
Amber Lamps feels like a breather compared to the relentless riffs that precede it. It is still a beast of a song, but one that plays more with melodies, wandering more into post rock territory. There's a return to the thrashier element on The Gush which in both name and song sounds filthy. The Gush probably describes this review too, doesn't it?

Meatshield is probably the pick of the album for me. Clocking in at around twice the length of the rest of the album, Meatshield is less immediate than the full on tracks, and much gentler than you might expect from the name, it is something quite glorious. The extra length allows the song to start off almost stripped back to nothing and slows the pace right down, before building gradually through the most blissful melodies. You know it will explode at some point, and after a few teases it does. It explodes gloriously, retaining those melodies, but allying them a wall of noise and fury that gives me goosebumps. Another change of pace gives a moment to recover, another moment of bliss, as the song builds to a dreamy conclusion. If you only listen to one thing on Petrol Money make it Meatshield. But why would you only listen to one thing?

Into and Over You keeps things a bit more restrained, while It Comes In Waves ends up being almost hypnotic, acting as a bit of gentle foreplay before Business Class rounds out the album by bringing back the noise in riotous style, blending funk, metal, and everything else they can think of until it reaches a furious climax.

Difficult second album? How do you follow a great debut? YAK make it look easy, by simply making an album even better than Stop Whispering. Oh, and once again they do it without a word. By the time you are a song or two in the lack of lyrics is an afterthought. The songs themselves are attention grabbing and engaging, even for someone like me who has spent far too much time learning the words to their favourite songs.

Petrol Money is a loud, shameless instrumental rock album, but crucial YAK know that making this kind of music is no excuse for turning out something stupid. In amongst the bludgeoning riffs there's a perfect understanding of rhythm and melody keeping things balanced and interesting. YAK know exactly what they are doing, and they do it oh so well.

I warned you I liked the album...

Petrol Money is available now, with a launch gig at the Cathouse on April 22nd.

You Already Know: Website - Facebook - Bandcamp

Monday, 18 April 2011

News & Bits - April 18th

As well as being a busy week for gigs (see the Gig Guide) it is also a hefty week for new releases, so those of you who are a bit skint might want to look away now. I'm skint, but I have to write this thing, so looking away isn't an option. The list of new releases also reminds me how far behind I've fallen with reviews. Oops.

New Releases:
I'll keep this brief, here's what is out this week.
Johnny Reb - The Portugal Years. Free download from Bandcamp.
Le Reno Amps - Appetite. Buy from Bandcamp, iTunes, shops.
Nevada Base - Love In My Mind single. Buy from iTunes
Panda Su - I Begin EP. Buy from iTunes. Also, help yourself to a free download of Alphabet Song from the EP here.
Pareto - Paint The Silver EP. Buy from iTunes.
Popcorn Fiend - PF/EP. Buy from Bandcamp.
The Ray Summers - Russian Tearoom. Buy from iTunes
So Many Animal Calls - Eulogy EP. Buy from Bandcamp.
St Deluxe - 10" Single. Buy in record shops, at gigs.
You Already Know - Petrol Money. Buy from Bandcamp, in shops.

Things About Words:
Valve is a new literary journal put together by a group of Strathclyde University honours students, mentored by Rodge Glass. Valve is a collection of fiction, poetry, journalism and art, and launches on June 16th. Ahead of the launch there is a showcase event taking place this Thursday at Mono in Glasgow, which promises reading, poetry, music and more. More info here.
You can find more details about Valve on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.
Words Per Minute will shortly be celebrating their first birthday! I remember going along to that first one, propping myself up in a corner, still horribly hungover from the aftermath of the first Aye Tunes Vs Peenko gig days before, not really knowing what to expect. I could claim that I was literally blown away, but that would be bad use of the word literally, so I'll leave such expressions to other blogs. I did however have a fantastic time at that, and many since. Any, to celebrate their first birthday the WPM team are inviting back some of their favourite performers of the first year, with the line up so far including Zorras, Adam Stafford, Kieran Hurley and Martin O'Connor. The birthday event takes place on May 8th at The Arches.

Tonight's Lykke Li gig at the Arches has been postponed due to a back injury. The gig will be rescheduled.
Guanoman continues to put his stuff on Bandcamp, all on a name your price basis.
Love, Susan released their new EP a few weeks ago, which is why it is down here and not up with the new releases. You can buy Look In The Mirror direct from the band here, or from the likes of eMusic and iTunes.
Tattie Records is a new Scottish DIY record label. Rather than wait until an entire album is ready, they will be releasing two track chunks in the build up. You can find more details on their website.
Plastic Animals release an EP in July. To tide you over until then they've put a new song, Maybe Tomorrow, on Bandcamp to download for free.
Raindeer has escaped from behind the Mitchell Museum drumkit. He has set himself the task of learning and recording a cover version every two weeks. You can watch/listen to/download his take on Roy Orbison here.
I have no idea who Phil the Skinny Pigeon is, but free download The Mice Will Pay was found on my regular Bandcamp trawls, and I quite like it. Download it here.
Colly Strings have released a new single, Take a Good Look, as a free download. You can find that, and more songs, here.
Blink 182 have rescheduled their summer tour dates. As a result they will no longer be playing at T in the Park. The Strokes, Slash and others have been added to the T line-up though.
Ah, visa issues, you rear your ugly head again. After messing up a few people's plans for SXSW visa problems have now hit Mogwai, causing them to reschedule the first week of their US tour.
LightGuides have signed to Alcopop! Records. Good for them! They'll be releasing a single in May and a mini-album in the summer.
Tom Vek will be playing The Classic Grand on June 14th. Tickets go on sale on Friday here. New single "A Chore" is also available right now from iTunes.

The Obligatory Dave Hughes News:
It is probably a good thing that I really enjoy Dave Hughses music, as he consistently gives me something to mention in this column, and it is always better to pimp tings I like. Anyway, this week's Hughes News is his Something Old, Something New project. Rather than retype everything I'll just send you to Dave's site and let him explain it. The first installment is here, but not for long.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

This Week's Gigs: 18th - 24th April

Ooh look, the sun is out. Instead I'm sat inside looking up gigs for you lot. You never say thanks, you never call, you never write. Not even a card in the post. Bunch of buggers.
Anyway, assuming you haven't spent all your money on vinyl during Record Store Day yesterday, there's a lot on this week worth going to. Also, don't forget you are allowed to spend all your money in records shops every day, so don't just do it the once then forget about them till next April.

Lykke Li, Sarah Blasko. The Arches.



Launch gig for the new Le Reno Amps album, Appetite. With that line up a good night is all but guaranteed.

Oh Friday, once again you are ripping the piss.

YAK launch their brilliant second album with a free gig in the Catty. Oh God, i have to go to the Cathouse. I also need to run away early for the next gig...
So many Animal Calls release their first proper EP on Monday, with a launch gig on Friday. Good.
The Ghosties. Classic Grand.
Bad McNulty. Maggie Mays.
RM Hubbert, Adam Stearns Band, Galoshins. Forest Cafe, Edinburgh.
Kitty the Lion. Electric Circus, Edinburgh
Sebastian Dangerfield, We See Lights, Adam Thompson (We Were Promised Jetpacks). Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh.
In case Edinburgh felt left out when it comes to launch gigs, here's one for the rather fab Sebastian Dangerfield EP.
The Bad Books. Nobles Bar.
There will be other bands playing, but I don't know who. Also, no link for The Bad Books as yet. This is their first gig, and one of the people in the band is the superbly awesome Mikey Morrison, formerly of Come on Gang!

You might think you'd get a break over the Easter weekend especially after that lengthly list of gigs on Friday. You'd be wrong.
Another Ides of Toad gig, and once again Matthew has a fine line-up.
Captain's Rest 3rd birthday Weekend. The Captain's Rest. 4pm - 1am.
The first day of the 3rd birthday of The Captain's Rest being under PCL's control. Line up includes: How Garbo Died, Mondegreen, Louise McVey and Cracks in the Concrete, Happy Vandals, Julia and the Doogans, Ben Butler and Mousepad, Wake the President.
Outstanding. St Deluxe have a new single out on 10" while Bronto will also be releasing their new 7" on the night too. Hello to me buying records I can't actually play then.
Fiction Faction. 13th Note.

Captain's Rest Birthday.
2nd day of the birthday weekend, with Kid Canaveral, Mitchell Museum (y'know it is almost a year since Peenko and I put those two on in this venue, doesn't time fly?), How To Swim, Heart Beats, theapplesofenergy, Dear Mountaineer.
This gig is being put together to raise funds and awareness for the Sexual Assault Victims Initiative, which you can find out more about at the link above.
Eddy & the T-Bolts, Bloodlunch, Southpaw, Buzzbomb. Nice n Sleazy.

Gig Review: Wide Days - Letters, PAWS, Rachel Sermanni, Withered Hand, Capitals, GoGoBot

I never made it along to Wide Days the other week. However, Fraser Doig did, and kindly sent over his report on the showcase gigs that took place in the evening to share. You can find more of Fraser's writing here.

In the wake of an informative, yet exhausting day at the seminar-laden Wide Days festival in Edinburgh, I donned my notebook and pen and set off into the throng, the smell of anticipation filling the air to the start of what promises to be a thoroughly canorous evening in the heart of Scotland’s capital city.

The first port of call is the amorously secluded Sneaky Pete’s. Snuggled in between the glowering, dark appendages of the Cowgate, the venue, despite it’s tiny 100 (barely) capacity, manages to mop up a swab of endless Scottish talent on a regular basis, and has bags of character. Tonight, it plays host to festival openers LETTERS, and the behemoth-driven scuzz trio, PAWS.

After a bit of a futz around LETTERS shuffle on to the stage (if you can call it that), eyes filled with the sight of a packed crowd, off-duty and ready to let loose. The quintet certainly didn’t digress from the task, providing punchy pop tunes and feisty summer jangles, soaked with clamorings that were resonant with inclinations of veteran Scottish indie maestros We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Next on the bill were Scotland’s answer to Dinosaur Jr. PAWS, who have been making (very loud) noises in the underground grunge movement of late, with impressive slots supporting heroes of the genus Yuck, Ty Segall and Wavves. From the moment Phillip Taylor’s fingers touched the strings of his cherry red “pussy-strat”, full on carnage was released, resulting in a barrage of sonic buzz that literally shook the walls and had my heart pumping. They hit the crowd for sixes by producing a scrummy torrent of fuzzy distortion out of their living,
breathing instruments. Powering through an electric body of some melodic tasters such as “Salem” off their ‘Mermaid’ EP, augmented by some visceral, face-numbing angst-y riffs, their feedback nourished set was a resounding success, leaving everyone exiting the club looking as though they’d just had the best sex of their lives.

The dying April sun finally making its bed behind the captivating architecture of Edinburgh city as I made my way along to our second venue in the twilight, eager to arrive at the penultimate Wide Days haunt, Cabaret Voltaire.

First to grace the stage in this 450 capacity stronghold was Highland-based songstress RACHEL SERMANNI. The 19 year old has already racked up a scorching resume; travelling the States at SXSW, supporting slots with KT Tunstall and Newton Faulkner, and peaking the interest of contemporaries Mumford and Sons to name a few of her accolades. It’s almost impossible not to
fall completely in love with Rachel, her sharp collection of lyrical, folk-infused ballads lay bare the soul of a genuine performer, who’s intricate finger-plucking radiates around the room creating a warm glow in everyone present.

Buzzed from his return from America and finally at liberty to put all that “visa crap” behind him, the tumultuous congregation greet Dan Willson, better known under the moniker Withered Hand on to the stage for his first post-SXSW appearance. Rather than opting for the more familiar lone performer guise, he is accompanied by several of his friends and colleagues, providing a grumbling bass line, adventurous bluegrass influences and subtle classical flavours to his euphonious endeavours. Those accustomed to his more weathered appearance may have been confused as to his newly groomed, clean shaven look, but these questions were soon buried as he unearths a story explaining that his former-self was “the spitting-image” of his US manager’s ex-wife. Withered Hand proved to be a strong favourite with the baying audience,
his quivering, spritely vocals turning heads from the back of the room, his whispered, clandestine lyrics delivered with all the intensity of a raging bonfire, cementing claims that this man’s songwriting abilities can be regarded in the same esteem as some of the other great enigmatic lyricists such as Daniel Johnston, who’s shadowy stylings have had more than a marginal influence on Mr. Willson.

Third stop off of the night was Electric Circus, a grimy looking bizarre-o club that was perfect for closing acts CAPITALS and GOGOBOT and a suitable finishing line to the evening’s palpable good-natured festivities.

A surprisingly minimal set-up commandeered by electro-pop group CAPITALS comprised of synths, guitar and vocals, that defied the dynamic and enriched sound they produced. Taut drum loops churned in with clobbering bass lines paved the way for Angus Carbarn’s ethereal vocals to gleam through, with a little touch of the Brandon Flowers inflection to it.

Now, if Glasgow-based GOGOBOTS know much about anything, the one thing they can do beyond a shadow of a doubt, is party. Taking their cues from the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Pendulum, they deliver a bombastic, emotionally driven wave of pure energy that floods the dark confines of the club inviting even the cynical naysayers to allow themselves a cheeky nod of the head.

The Wide Days festival is a great way for musicians and friends to share their knowledge and create a community of talent, a noble cause if ever there was one. Definitely pencilled in for next year.

Review by Fraser Doig.
PAWS photo by Tiffany Barber

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