Big yins

3rd October 2013

‘Somewhere Else’ is the new EP from symphonic metal collective Garden. It could well be described as a sequel to their self-titled 2012 EP (more…)

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13th September 2013

As far as debut albums go, this is definitely one for any music lover who enjoys an extra shot of blues in their rock and roll (more…)

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5th September 2010

The press release for this album describes The Zephyrs as “psychedellic magicians”. While many press releases are a complete load of rubbish and hyperbole, this is actually completely accurate and spot on.

The band’s fifth album, and a return after a hiatus of a few years, this album is little short of magical. Imagine a band who set up camp along the borders alt. country, shoegazing, the best traditions of Scottish indie -and remembered to write songs along the way. That’s The Zephyrs on this album. It’s an album that I’ve played a lot and will continue to do so for a long time to come. It grabs you right from the opening track ‘Creative Faith’ and holds you until the closing ‘Sole in The Machine [sic].’

Featuring contributions from, amongst others, Mogwai’s Barry Burns and Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys, who appear on second track ‘Wet Outside Dry In Here’ this is an incredibly strong album. Do not let it pass under your radar. Stop it; ask it its purpose and join the journey…

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2nd September 2010

So, four years since their second long-player Do Whatever Turns You On, and the sixth since debut Young Forever, Aberfeldy release their third album. It’s been documented that the inbetween years have seen lineup changes, being dropped by Rough Trade, and having their songs used in adverts for all manner of products, but I know I speak for many when I say that this album has been eagerly awaited for a very long time.

Many of these songs have been present in their live sets for some time – and indeed, I was privileged to hear some of these songs played by frontman Riley Briggs in demo form when I interviewed him three years ago. And two of the songs – album opener ‘Claire’ and ‘Talk Me Round’ in different form made up the very first release on 17 Seconds Records. ‘Malcolm’ the single has evolved over time -but the ’spot the sixties reference game’ that started when they played it live still remains fun. And ‘In Denial’ has to be one of the best songs Riley Briggs has ever written.

One of the things that rankled as an Aberfeldy fan was the way that they were constantly compared to a certain Glaswegian band. But considering Riley and drummer brother Murray once played together in a Devo covers act, the sense of playing with and subverting pop on ‘Turn The Record Over’ and ‘Lisa Marie’ comes through more strongly than ever. Though seen as Riley Briggs’ vehicle, they definitely play as a band. As well as the aforementioned Briggs brothers, and Ken MacIntosh, the lineup includes guitarist Chris Bradley, who co-produced the album with Riley; and Kirsten Adamson, daughter of Stuart, and leader of Edinburgh’s Gillyflowers.

And instead of writing credits, the final song ‘credits’ is just that: a rollcall of credits for the album. It sums up what I’ve long thought: that Aberfeldy’s sense of humour has been downplayed, but it is now here for the world to see. There will be those who say that it doesn’t sound like Young Forever. No, it doesn’t – it doesn’t need to! It’s been a while in the making, but this third album shows just how vital Aberfeldy remain.

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1st September 2010

Given that Mogwai have a (well-deserved) reputation for awesome live shows, it’s perhaps a little odd that this is their first live album, a mere fifteen years into their career. No matter. When it’s as good as Special Moves, it really is worth it.

It really is worth getting the vinyl box set (I’m going to starve for the next month and it will be worth it) – or the deluxe download package in order to hear the whole thing. Like the best live albums, it is not just a simple replaying of the albums, but shows just how great the band are live, and is a great album in its’ own right. ‘Like Herod’ still make you jump at THAT point (it is possibly the audio equivalent of that scene in Carrie.

All five of their studio albums from the last thirteen years or so are represented, rather than just being based on one or two albums. This album is yet more proof – if confirmation were needed by now – that Mogwai really are one of the best acts of the last twenty years. A new album is due next year – bring it on…

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28th August 2010

After five years of bedding themselves into the mainstay of the Scottish live music scene, Figure 5, are set to spread their blend of original psychedelic pop on the rest of the world with Bonfire, their exciting debut album which signals a more mature sound from the Glasgow band.
Opener ‘Secrets & Lies’ is like a quirky Scottish spaghetti western soundtrack and sets the tone for what is overall an enjoyable album. The band are big on retro sounds but they have stamped their own character on each track to bring it bang into this century.
They are well honed in writing anthemic catchy choruses such as the “Gie’s a break, I’m only young” ‘Part of The Problem’, the foot tapping Never Believe and the sea-shanty-esque ‘Rock Of Gibraltar’, all falling into this category. ‘Don’t Lock Me Out’ is chugging King Creosote meets Gunfight At The O.K Corral, meanwhile ‘Barrett’ has the same pop sound which made fellow Glasgow band The Fratellis rise to fame.
The only disappointment came with weak finale ‘Outside’. It’s a change of pace but with a chunky back catalogue of cracking tunes such as ‘Nitty Gritty,’, perhaps one of the older Figure 5 classics would have been a more fitting send-off for this class act.

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27th August 2010

Edinburgh five piece Miyagi are now onto their third album. Whilst it is stating the obvious to report that they are another bunch of Scots with a deep love of the music of West Coast America of the sixties and seventies, do not fall into the trap of assuming that they are mere copyists.

Because Miyagi definitely aren’t copyists. they respect their influences and are building upon them. So whilst there’s very nice harmonies, they also take in the influence of classic sixties soul and psychedelia. Perhaps on the first play I thought tracks like ‘Little Pink Dress’ were familiar, but there is something here that keeps pulling you back to play the album again. It may take a few listens, but it’s an album that’s definitely were spending time with, and getting to know. Believe me, you’ll want to.

It’s warm album, and good knows the weather in Scotland is such that we need that, even (!) in August. It’s fun -and it doesn’t tax you. Think I’ll go and investigate those earlier albums now…

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21st August 2010

Pop with an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Mitchell Museum have crafted an ear-boggling slab of extravagant pop bliss. Unforgiving eccentricity leaps forth from the stereo with every turn. Opening salvo of ‘We Won 2nd Prize’ and recent single, ‘Warning Bells’ set the bar with a cock-sure swagger, the latter’s bombastic drums and stirring guitars drive forth, with a chorus so ear-tickling, this reviewer had to skip it back not once, not twice, but three times before forging on. An act of foolishness considering the musical jollies that ensued. ‘Take The Tongue Out’, ‘Mission 1’ and ‘Tiger Heartbeat’ proving that a bellyful of organised-melodic-chaos, coupled with a sprinkle of surreal imagery is a riveting combo, like a T-bone steak – bloody is best – and peppercorn sauce, it’s a perfect pairing.
Time and again, the album delivers an abundance of ideas and a depth of intelligence to challenge any of the band’s notable musical influences, think Of Montreal, WHY?, or a budget Flaming Lips and your head’s in the right space, but to compare Mitchell Museum directly to any singular band or record however would be doing them an injustice.
The album’s title derives from the town on the Isle of Benebecula in Scotland where vocalist and song-writer Cammy MacFarlane was shipped out to live as a kid by his parents, where he was treated for ‘losing his mind’. Whether he found his mind is anyone’s guess but he certainly didn’t lose his creative spirit or imagination, he’s definitely got those, and they’re right here for us all to marvel.

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11th August 2010

At a mere £3, and serving as an introduction to 23 bands, it seems almost ungrateful to say anything bad about Premeditation Records’ third label sampler. However, this compilation suffers from a fairly major flaw – a lot of the bands sound awfully similar.

Admittedly, this is an issue with all compilations from record labels – the realisation that the majority of bands on any imprint are there because they fit in, and it’s a realisation that becomes a little tiring when they are presented one after another. Variety is, after all, the spice of life, and this compilation is a little on the mild side in patches.

As such, the high points of this mix are those bands who fall somewhat outside the label’s crunchy and metallic comfort zone, and offer something a little more off-beat. Edinburgh’s Super Adventure Club stand out with their wild time changes and yelping vocals, and while they clearly owe Mike Patton and Mr Bungle an enormous debt, there are far worse people to be in musical hock to. Meanwhile, Dundonians Laeto are a reminder that, when used correctly, ‘emo’ needn’t be a dirty word, their surging guitars reminiscent of the likes of Jimmy Eat World or Joan of Arc.

These two bands, flanked by solid efforts from Olympic Swimmers and Titus Gein among others, help to lift the whole group, and mark Premeditation out as a label with decent taste. Three quid for an introduction to their work seems like a perfectly fair deal to me.

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19th July 2010

The much awaited A Garden at the Top of the Tree is a mixture of friendly bubble-pop, mingled with relaxed indie folk that creates an emotive yet optimistic sound that is difficult to come by. Fraser, the Scottish indie quartet, has certainly done a good job with this album, producing a clean and energetic sound that keeps you singing along. The first track ‘Always Only You’ is one of my favourites, with laid back low beats and snare drums peppered between minimal lyrics. This immediately listenable combination creates a relaxed feel to start off the album. This continues throughout until another of my favourite tracks, ‘Boubalina Sunshine’ kicks in and immediately the listener is transported back to the 60s with swing-pop and jazz vibes, reminiscent of the Beach Boys. There are a whirlwind of surprises in the album with jazz and swing notes here and there, it will appeal to most people with its easy listening qualities. This isn’t a bad thing as far as I’m concerned, and its upbeat yet laid back feel will certainly brighten your day.

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