Saturday, 17 December 2011

Advent Calendar - Day Seventeen: The Phantom Band

Oops, this was meant to be yesterday's song so I could fit in a gig plug, but, err, I forgot.
All is not lost though, as The Phantom Band's Phestive Phantomime continues at Stereo tonight! If you're quick there should still be a few tickets left, try TicketWeb, Monorail, or chance your arm on the door if you are feeling particularly daring.

Recorded for Vic Galloway's final Radio 1 show last year, The Phantom Band, who performed The Howling from their debut album Checkmate Savage in a very special style. Strictly speaking it isn't a Christmas song, but it is really good, so shut up.

The Phantom Band: Website

Advent Calendar - Day Seventeen: Touch N Go!

Touch N Go is someone else, but I'm not sure I'm meant to say who. I'll leave it a mystery so I don't risk a kicking.

The blurb goes: "The heroic Mickey Touch returns with a triumphant ode to the Baby Jesus recorded especially for Christmas 2011 all around the world."

If taken seriously this is not one of the better Christmas songs you'll hear on the blog. Don't take it seriously, or don't say you weren't warned.

Touch N Go! "The Story Of The Baby Jesus" XMAS SINGLE by ineedmusik

Friday, 16 December 2011

Advent Calendar - Day Sixteen: Scottish Fiction

I'd hoped to do something along these lines myself this year, but response to my requests and pestering was, at best, lukewarm, so nothing came of it.

Not to worry though, as Neil over at Scottish Fiction managed to be a better motivator than I, and put together a charity Christmas compilation of his own. A minimum donation of £2 gets your seven tracks, from Lonely and Lola, Ed Muirhead, The Spook School (yay!), Linzi Murphy, Evil Hand (yay!), The Dirty Demographic and Lovers Turn To Monsters (him again? Yay anyway!), with money raised going to Shelter.
Stream the EP below, and head over to Bandcamp to buy a copy.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Best Albums of 2011: 10 - 1

Top ten Aye Tunes albums of the year time. I can stop listing things and try to reintroduce myself to society after this.
Same disclaimers as yesterday:
  1. best just means my favourite, you are allowed to disagree without either of us being wrong.
  2. I've not heard every blooming album released this year.
You can find a bunch of other albums I liked that didn't quite make the top twenty here, and numbers twenty to eleven here.

10. United Fruit - Fault Lines

Noisy? Check. Frantic? Check. Awesome? Double check. Fault Lines is an adrenaline rush in music form. Full review from earlier in the year here.
Buy: Bandcamp - Bigcartel

9. FOUND - Factorycraft

One of the year's more fun albums, Factorycraft saw a slimmed down FOUND take a less experimental approach to their music, thought there was that edible 7", and deliver a pile of cracking pop songs in the process. Jam packed with hooks and sing along lyrics, Factorycraft does the simple things very well, and makes the difficult things seem easy.  It still goes a bit wonky and off kilter at points, and never gets dull. The end result is about as addictive as whatever drug is particularly addictive these days, but much better for you.
Buy: Chemikal - Amazon - iTunes

8. John Knox Sex Club - Raise Ravens

I can't tell you if I agree or not with the regular description of the John Knox Sex Club as "the best live band in Scotland" since I haven't seen them since some time last year - I know, poor show Jim - but I can tell you their second album, Raise Ravens, was one of the best released this year. Although folk is the simplest tag to apply, the music is regularly much more muscular and powerful than the folk label usually implies. Gentle laments trade places with growled vocals and distorted guitars, before the growls turn melodic, all with a sinister, menacing undercurrent. This is an intense and at times downright creepy album, blending the tradition with the modern, steeped in atmosphere. It is almost impossible not to get lost in, absorbed by Raise Ravens.
Buy: Bandcamp

7. You Already Know - Petrol Money

The first You Already Know album made my Best of 2009 list, and anyone that has been unfortunate enough to have put up with me talking about the band any time since won't be all that surprised that second album Stop Whispering is one of my favourites this year. More glorious noise. Also in The Gush/Meatshield.Into And Over You/It Comes In Waves this is the album with the filthiest sounding track progression of the year. Full review here. You Already Know have split now, but Petrol Money was a fine parting gift.
Buy: Bandcamp

6. Nicola Roberts - Cindarella's Eyes

Come ahead, I'm ready for you. A damn fine leftfield pop album, good lyrics, more effing, blinding and anger than you'd expect and much more interesting musically than some weedy indie nonsense. A regular listen, and a thoroughly enjoyable one too.
Buy: Amazon - iTunes

5. Monoganon - Songs To Swim To

My, that's a handsome cock. I've been a fan of John B. McKenna for a while, admittedly in part because he used to sell me beer while working in the pubs of Glasgow, but also for his music. Songs To Swim To is, by a distance, the best thing John and his band have released I think. Also, despite all my protests, proof that I've not entirely shunned folky poppy stuff this year.
Buy Vinyl/Free Download: Winning Sperm Party

4. Kochka - The Entropic Biopic of a Quixotic Psychotic

Still not sure about the title, but everything else about this album I love. Coming on like a demented funfair, complete with Markk Donnelly's attempt - a worrying successful attempt at that - at channeling a mad carnival barker, this is pretty much unlike anything else I've heard coming from Scotland this year. Addictive, fun, and nigh on impossible not to dance to, it took ages to get a debut album from Kochka but the result made the wait instantly forgivable.
Buy: Bandcamp

3. Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel

When Kammerspiel was released at the start of the year I'd been looking forward to it a lot on the basis of what I'd heard from Conquering Animal Sound on record and on stage before, and the album didn't disappoint. Roughly a full year on from my first listen to the album I'm nowhere near tired of it yet. More blethering in the form of a review here.
Buy: Gizeh -  iTunes

2. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Everything's Getting Older

I wasn't overwhelmed when Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat collaborated at Chemikal Underground's 15th anniversary gig back at the start of 2010, things verging a little too close to The Fast Show's jazz club at times for me, so I wasn't too sure what I'd think of the album that eventually followed. Teaser tracks A Short Song To The Moon and The Copper Top immediately dismissed any fears I had, and made me wonder if my ears had been working properly that night at the ABC.
The collaboration seemed to bring out the best in each other. Arguably Aidan's best work as a lyricist, finding new ways to break your heart and make you laugh, allied with Wells's subtle, measured compositions add up to something a wee bit special. Although as filthy as you'd expect from Moffat in parts, a lot of the album provokes genuine emotion and is mature and measured, the end result is pretty damn great.
Buy: Chemikal - Amazon - iTunes

1. Adam Stafford - Build a Harbour Immediately

I got a copy of Build A Harbour Immediately quite early last year from Adam Stafford, after I'd half joking complained to him that Lloyd from Peenko wouldn't shut up about how good it was having received a copy before me. I then spent several months trying not to annoy everyone I know by telling them how brilliant this album was, but no they couldn't buy it yet and no they can't have a copy off me. I think eventually Matthew Healy from Loch Awe was about ready to kill me.
Having alienated all of our friends that just left Peenko and myself repeating to each other how bloody marvelous an album this was. Then, one night in April, we were drunk together, and hatched a plan. One more Aye Tunes Vs Peenko gig, and we'd beg Adam to make it his album launch. He agreed, and then we had the fun of having to not annoy people by telling everyone about the launch gig for this amazing album that was still two-three months away. Anyway, the gig came round eventually, we spent a night with massive smiles on our faces, and we finally had people to agree with us that yes, Build A Harbour Immediately is indeed a pretty ace album, and we smiled some more.
It was at the album launch that I heard a description of the album far better than any I could come up with when Julian Corrie - Miaoux Miaoux - described it as "starts off fairly normal, then it just melts". Can't put it any better than that really.
At the halfway point of the album with Shot Down You Summer Wannabes - which was one of my favourite songs of 2010, and sold me on Adam solo in the first place - things take a turn for the unconventional. The guitars drop out, replaced with vocal loops, layers of noise, beatboxing, and all manner of lunacy. And it's brilliant.
That was all a terribly long way of saying "best album of the year" but yes, Build a Harbour Immediately is the best album of the year.
Buy: Bandcamp

That concludes our best albums of 2011, you may now begin pointing, laughing, disagreeing, or swearing never to return.

You can buy some, if not all, of these records from Monorail and Love Music in Glasgow too. Shops are nice, you get to talk to people in them. Some shops and some people are rubbish though, so you can also buy a lot of these from Insularis Records from the comfort of your own home, without even putting on clean clothes.

Advent Calendar - Day Fifteen: Neil Milton

I'm going to let Neil do the honours of introducing this one, just because his email made me laugh out loud when I read it.
"I've arranged a preposterous string quartet version of Wham's Last Christmas. I'm not really sure why - I hate the song."

I appreciate Neil's level of dedication to supplying Christmas songs - even ones he hates - to the masses* Me? I quite like Last Christmas.
*4 people who read this nonsense.

Here's Neil's version of Last Christmas then.
Last Christmas by neilmilton

Neil Milton: Website - Facebook - Soundcloud

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Best Albums of 2011: 20 - 11

MORE LISTS! Yes, list season continues, as I fight with borderline obsessive compulsive disorder and an overwhelming need to rank things using a system that makes no real sense and changes every ten or fifteen minutes.
Two disclaimers
  1. best just means my favourite, you are allowed to disagree without either of us being wrong.
  2. I've not heard every blooming album released this year.
Onward then, to the first batch of my twenty favourite albums of the year. You can find a bunch of other albums I liked that didn't quite make the cut here.
In reverse order, like some kind of fancy countdown, here's numbers twenty to eleven:

20. Fay Wrays - Strange Confessor

Noisy Americans. This was another one that came from the random blog submissions pile that i listened to loads, but never really did anything about writing up. We've long established that I'm useless though. Not quite sure why Strange Confessor ended up clicking with with me, but it did.
Fay Wrays - Paper Tiger Meets The Straw Man
Download Strange Confessor: Bandcamp

19. Zoey Van Goey - Propeller Versus Wings

I've had a wee bit of a Zoey Van Goey bandcrush thing going on this year, as they've generally done a bunch of stuff that has left me smiling like a fool. They started off that trend early in the year with their second album, Propeller Versus Wings. Playful, witty, fun, and with more hooks than the average fisherman, it's a pretty easy album to fall for. Also "I am drunk and on a ladder" is the finest opening line in a song in ages.
Zoey Van Goey - My Aviator
Buy Propeller Versus Wings: Chemikal - Amazon - iTunes

18. King Post Kitsch - The Party's Over

I'd been looking forward to this album for ages, such was my enjoyment of the first, and following King Post Kitsch EP. The Party's Over didn't disappoint. At times a fuzzy garage rock album, at times something more psychedelic  sometimes dreamy pop, occasionally all and none of these things, all excellent.
King Post Kitsch - Fante's Last Stand
Buy The Party's Over: Song, by Toad - Amazon - iTunes

17. Sparrow and the Workshop - Spitting Daggers

Picking up where they left off with Crystals Fall, Sparrow and the Workshop remain one of the more interesting sounding bands around. They are a bit more muscular sounding and in your face this time round, and none the worse for it. An album with swagger and stomp, balanced with moment of graceful calm and tenderness.
Sparrow and the Workshop - Snakes In the Grass
Buy Spitting Daggers: Sparrow and the WorkshopAmazon - iTunes

16. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

You pretty much know what you are going to get with Mogwai, and this was the best thing they've have done in years. Up until they released the Earth Division EP later in the year, which was also excellent, but isn't an album. George Square Thatcher Death Party is the best song title of 2011 too.
Buy Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will: Mogwai Shop - Amazon - iTunes

15. Remember Remember - The Quickening

This is an album I can never quite find the words to properly describe, so I'll leave it at this: blooming gorgeous.
Buy The Quickening: Amazon - iTunes

14. Take A Worm For A Walk Week - T.A.W.F.A.W.W.

As I've mentioned before, this year I've mostly been enjoying loud things. T.A.W.F.A.W.W. delivered in spades. A brutal and aggressive half hour of music that left more of an impression than the metaphorical Mouldmaster to the thigh on a frosty morning.
Buy T.A.W.F.A.W.W.: Bandcamp - Bigcartel

13. Martin John Henry - The Other Half of Everything.

I still miss De Rosa, but getting an excellent solo album from Martin this year lessened the nostalgia considerably. As I said when the album came out, if you can listen to Ribbon on a Bough without your head bobbing check your pulse, you might be dead. Martin is one of the best songwriters in Scotland, and it is a joy to have him back on record.
Buy The Other Half of Everything: Bandcamp

12. Doctors & Dealers - Every Sinner Has A Future

The second Sparrow on the chart, Doctors & Dealers being mainly the work of Sweden's Sparrow Lindgren, Every Sinner Has A Future balances light and shade wonderfully. Tales of heartbreak and depression lurk behind pop songs, with a playful sense of humour lurking round the corner to save things getting too dark.
Doctors & Dealers - Carpet Burn
Buy Every Sinner Has A Future: Amazon - iTunes

11. Black International - In Debt

Internal debate ahoy over whether to include this album or not. In the end it came down to the same old thing, I became quite friendly with Black International and got them to do a gig for me after falling for their music, not before, so In Debt can go on the list for the right reasons. Every song has something that catches my attention, and the whole album has been subjected to more listens than just about anything else to come my way this year. Also good and noisy, with some properly excellent drumming.
Read more about the album in Black International's track by track guide here.
Buy In Debt: Bandcamp

We'll be back tomorrow with the final countdown, the top ten Aye Tunes albums of 2011.

Advent Calendar - Day Fourteen: Lovers Turn To Monsters

We had Lovers Turn To Monsters in the Advent Calendar just last week, but promised then that Kyle was working on a new Christmas EP, and would be turning up again.

Well, Feed My Christmas Time is finished and available, and I'm a man of my word (unless I've promised to review something) here's Lovers Turn To Monsters again.

The Christmas EP is a pay what you want download from Bandcamp, and if you have a look in the files after downloading you'll find out how to get a copy of last year's Lovers Turn To Monsters Christmas EP too, in case you missed it first time round.

Lovers Turn To Monsters: Facebook - Bandcamp

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Best Albums of 2011 - Bubbling Under

It is December, I write a music blog, that means it is list season. That time of year when the blogging community spend too long trying to remember what albums came out this year, which ones were good, which ones were rubbish, which ones it is cool to like, which ones we haven't heard but have to pretend we have, and so on.
It is also the time of year that we all suppress a snigger while looking at other people's best of lists while saying to ourselves "REALLY? That album was SHITE!", and silently judging each other's taste in music.
It's a fun time of year.
I've been obsessing over my list for too long already, trying to cut it down into a manageable length, and having the nagging feeling that I've missed something out.
Eventually I decided to pick a Top Twenty to run as my best of, but since I liked more than twenty albums this year, and since I don't know what the difference between #33 and #45 in a top 50 is, here's a bunch of albums that I want to mention somehow, and on a different day could easily have swapped places with something in the Top 20. Go ahead and start judging me, just remember that "best" always means "favourite" really.

In no particular order, The Aye Tunes Best of the Rest Albums 2011

Scroobius Pip - Distraction Pieces
Quantum Leap reference in the first song equals instant inclusion. That and Death of the Journalist, which has been one of my favourite songs of the year, even if I'm one of the targets. The rest of the album is pretty swell too.
Dad Rocks! - Mount Modern
Suffering slightly from only having been released fairly recently, Mount Modern is an album that started off good, and grows on me a bit more with each listen. Had it had more time it would rank higher, but as it is still a gorgeous thing, and worth a few of your pounds.
Eureka Machines - Champion The Underdog.
Power-Pop Punk from Leeds. Their first album won an Aye Tunes award back in the days when no one read the blog (no, not yesterday you cheeky bugger) and this, their second album, is no slouch either.
The Antlers - Burst Apart.
Never quite fell in love with the whole thing, and less taken with this than I was with Hospice, but there's some really great bits on there.
Le Reno Amps - Appetite.
We've swapped some pandas for Al Nero now I think, but before the band went on hiatus they gave us a new, really good, album.
Something Beginning With L - Beautiful Ground.
A right good debut album, this .Fuzzy, poppy, shoegazey, and fragile all at once, tis a lovely wee thing.
the douglas firs - Happy As a Windless Flag.
It was a good year for releases from Armellodie Records really, this was another fab album from their stable
Milk Maid - Yucca.
Scummy sounding lo-fi rock that sounds like it cost about a fiver to record? Yes please. Not as good as PAWS but.
Edinburgh School For The Deaf - New Youth Bible
Album opener Of Scottish Blood and Sympathy gets things off to a great start, from there it gets a wee bit rough in spots, but ace in others, certainly a good enough album to be included in here.
Comply Or Die - Depths.
One of far too few albums that I actually got round to reviewing this year, and one of several that took advantage of me being a bit sick of acoustic folky stuff - though there's plenty of that in my end of year lists too - by making an almighty exciting noise.
Loney Dear - Hall Music
Fragile, melancholy, and quite gorgeous. Not the most immediate of albums, but a good one.
The Moth And The Mirror - Honestly, This World
The Sons(s) - The Son(s)
I may have mentally marked The Son(s) and The Moth and the Mirror down slightly in the year end ranking because both were released by my pals, Olive Grove Records. Both are smashing albums.
Piet Haag - Countryside Walks With Piet Haag
Very little amused me this year as much as this did, so it's in.
The Great I Am - Real Capital
Another I actually remembered to review. Real Capital is a very schizophrenic album, swapping from electro to folky from song to song, but that just endeared it to me even more. The Great I Am have switched names to Machines In Heaven now, but are still making wonderful noises.
Evil Hand - Huldra
A bit dreamy, a bit shoegazey, entirely gorgeous. One of the hardest albums to omit from the top 20 really. Ask me again another day and it would be in there.
Tiny Birds - Hymns For the Careless
"Sad songs with happy music". I touched on Tiny Birds a bit (that sounds slightly wrong) in one of my wanders down south earlier in the year, and the album is still one I keep going back to regularly.
The Wiggle Room - I Presume
Really, really enjoyable pop. One of my favourite albums that randomly popped up in my inbox this year that I'm kicking myself for glossing over until now.
I Build Collapsible Mountains - The Spectator & The Art
In a year when I largely got bored of "man with guitar" music, I Build Collapsible Mountains still produced something good enough to remind me that there are tremendous artists out there doing that thing.
Trips and Falls - People Have To be Told
Song, by Toad Records released an awful lot of good stuff this year. This Trips and Falls album is awfully good. Smart, witty, and sounds great, what's not to like?
Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls
It's a bit jangly and twee at times, but that's fine with me. It's a fun album, and there's some lovely boy/girl harmonies in there, which I'm always a sucker for.
Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers - Luck
Imagine Glasvegas weren't shite. That doesn't have a lot to do with this album, but imagine it anyway, just to make yourself feel better. Anyway, filthy sounding doom-wop from a man and band that sound like they could crush you like a paper cup and thoroughly enjoy doing so. Brilliant then.
Zombie Girlfriend - Music For Porn
MORE lo-fi noise pop? Oh go on then. I know virtually nothing about Zombie Girlfriend other than there is two of them, they come from Hungary, and they please my ears. That's more than enough information for me.
Loch Lomond - Little Me Will Start a Storm
Chemikal Underground released a lot of good albums this year, including this one from Portland's Loch Lomond.
Luke Haines - 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s & Early '80s.
I like Luke Haines, I like wrestling, how could I not like a concept album about British wrestling in the '70s and '80s? There's plenty of ways I could have hated it I'm sure, none of them came to pass though. It's a weird beast, but a good one.
Come On Gang! - Strike a Match
Quite willing to admit to the inclusion of Strike a Match being one tinged with bias and nostalgia, since Come On Gang did an Aye Tunes Vs Peenko gig, then had Peenko and I along to DJ at their last gig. Not entirely a nostalgic entry though, as there's some right good stuff on the album anyway.
Dead Boy Robotics - Dead Boy Robotics
A very late entry to the list, on account of it having only just been released. If I'd sepnt more than a week or two with my copy it might have ranked higher, but as it is it deserves inclusion somewhere. I particularly like it when they get all shouty.

So, there you go. Most albums are available to buy from Amazon, HMV and iTunes.
My twenty favourite albums will follow in a few days.

Advent Calendar: Day Thirteen - Trapped Mice

Hooray, we're now past the halfway point in the advent calendar! The end is in sight.

Today's post is a special one, we've got a wee exclusive! Last year Trapped Mice donated the song God Is Here to the advent calendar, and this is still the only place you can get that song. This year they've donated another exclusive track too, accepting a challenge I made on Twitter for someone to do a cover version of a song I love. Apparently God is Here will be getting its first live outing on Thursday, download it below if you missed it last year.
This year's Aye Tunes exclusive is Trapped Mice covering, and giving a reworking to, Low's Just Like Christmas.

Trapped Mice - God Is Here
Trapped Mice - Just Like Christmas (Low Cover)

Trapped Mice play at The Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh on Thursday the 15th, with Supermarionation and Plastic Animals. There's the promise of mince pies, and a three way Rock Paper Scissors contest to decide the running order for the night. Doors open at 7, entry is £4, and you'll want to get along sharp for the battle.

Trapped Mice: Bandcamp - Facebook

Advent Calendar: Day Thirteen - The Banana Sessions

Advance warning, I've got the cold again, posts for the next few days might be half arsed and rubbish...

The Banana Sessions launch their debut album, Mixtape, this Sunday - the 18th - at The Bongo Club in Edinburgh. The album is available to pre-order from Bandcamp now.

Here's a festive tune from them to go with the plug.
01 Don't Lose Your Mind (It's Christmas Time!) by The Banana Sessions

The Banana Sessions: Website - Bandcamp - Facebook

Monday, 12 December 2011

Advent Calendar - Day Twelve: Advances In Mathematics

Oops, rather late with today's Advent Calendar installment, aren't I? Better have something good to make up for it then. Let me have a root around my metaphorical bag of stuff....

Ah yes, Advances In Mathematics! Today sees the first release from the Manchester band, with the Sad Xmas Present EP. I've been listening to this a fair bit in the past couple of weeks, and now that Sad Xmas Present is available to all, it is as good a release as any to use for the advent calendar today.

The Sad Xmas Present EP is available on limited CD, or as a free download from Bandcamp.

Apparently the ‘Sad Christmas Present’ in question is the Tremelo pedal guitarist Ben Ambridge asked for 4 years ago. It features heavily in the song that carries its name.

For good measure, here's a video too:

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Advent Calendar - Day Eleven: Yossarian

Tim London is a many of many names and talents, but for today he is going under the name Yossarian for his entry into the advent calendar.

Mr Xmas reminds me a bit of Madness, which is rarely a bad thing. It's loads of fun, grab it down below.

Yossarian - Mr Xmas

Tim London: Website - Music - Bandcamp

Advent Calendar: Day Eleven - How To Swim

How To Swim can always be counted on to deliver a Christmas present, and this year is no exception.
A Minor Key Christmas is available as a free download from Bandcamp, and you can listen to it below. It features two new songs, and a cover of the one Christmas song that makes me want to commit mass murder, Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime. How To Swim's version is much less murder inspiring, so well done to them for that. Have a wee poke around their Bandcamp for more stuff too, including the Christmas EP they did last year.

How To Swim have a wee festive gig coming up too, which is why I'd held back on posting this till now. The gig takes place on Friday December 16th at Nice & Sleazy, with How To Swim supported by The Store Keys and Adam Stearns. It'll cost you a fiver to get in.

Behold, a poster.
How To Swim: Bandcamp - Facebook