Scotland to BM’s knowledge has to date suffered from a bit of a dearth of maxi-membered female combos (if you leave out the SNO chorus), however this is about to change. Olive Grove records signings Skinnydipper have 7 (or possibly 8 on a good day) female members (on many, many instruments) and one bloke, on drums. It is a fairly unique proposition and one that has been getting them plenty of attention recently, the Vic Galloway show and the Evening Times being among those who have covered this EP launch.
BM was not even supposed to be here, taking a rare night off the relentless search for good music for that other relentless search for…a man. Stood up in Cheetah (bloody Grindr), all dressed up and nowhere to go, spotted (and that’s an unintentional Cheetah pun, readers, they just keep on coming) in the trusty Evening Times (that’s two mentions already so may as well do a shout-out to Eve Times columnist and double date comrade in arms Michelle McManus, only joking readers, that is BM’s credibility well and truly sunk…) that “post-indie girl-pop stringcore”(their own words) comb Skinnydipper were on in Stereo. It was on the way to the bus stop home so well, what the hang…turned out to be a good decision.
The heels were flipping killing me by this time as BM tottered down the stairs into the Stereo basement, where SD were already in full flight onstage. The usual nine-piece line-up was slightly diminished with one call-off/casualty, didn’t catch who or the reason, but the visual impact was still quite arresting, a bit like the Corrs * 3, with a lot of hair (in a good way, girls) and strings everywhere, although BM sincerely hopes the drummer does not hold any of the bonkers views of Mr Jim Corr, obviously all that time on tour with the sisters fried his brain, look him up people under “lizard conspiracy”, and we’re not talking Jim Morrison…) Sound mix was not bad considering the limitations of the venue and the combination of electric, acoustic and harmonies. A wee hint of Belle and Sebastian before they turned professional or possibly Second Hand Marching Band, probably the last en masse combo BM has seen in a small venue. We have drums, bass, guitar, cello, fiddle, vocals, vocals/keyboard and, oh that’s seven, there are some pillars in front of the stage so think we’ve lost someone, apologies…
So SD – tons of musical talent on the stage, they are a bit nervous but also funny, the songs range between delicate close-harmony and strings numbers (some Joanna Newsome tendencies, but again, in a good way) – many of these musicians are on-loan/moonlighting from other local combos, too many to mention here but check out the biog on the Olive Grove website.
There were also a couple of more anthemic tracks (when they plugged in the bass and the drummer got going) and BM even caught a hint of Biffy in one of the choruses, this can only be a good thing though – BM did spot one very well-known face in the crowd (won’t name-drop on this occasion), let’s just say BM doubts they are going to be short of bookings next year. And they are versatile enough for a few Celtic Connections support slots in the bigger venues, looking forward to it.
The gig was topped off (no encore, think they had run out of stuff to play!) by an explanation from one of the main vocalists (not going to name-check you all, it’s not even 8 in the morning as BM writes this and that would need a lot more coffee) about the history of the combo and reason for their current good spirits. The band started allegedly in some cupboard in the West End, with the guitarist (who writes the material) and one or maybe two vocalists, their chief obsession being the work of US film-maker Cameron Crowe. The first batch of songs they did were entirely named after lines/references in CC movies (Almost Famous, Jerry McGuire etc) although by the time of tonight’s gig only one of these survives, and they admit it was not the most viable strategy in pop. The icing on the cake however was that recently they sent some of the recent songs to CC and were rewarded with a “I love this” tweet from the great man. “Just about made my life” said the narrator tonight, to cheers and giggles from the audience. And this combo does giggle a lot, Betty is all for giggling and this was an unexpected but really enjoyable evening.