Gig reviews

17th June 2010

The Stow College record label Electric Honey has, over the years, brought to our ears many delights from bands such as Belle and Sebastian, Wake the President, Biffy Clyro and now Woodenbox. Sadly, the night at King Tut’s, designed to showcase three of their latest signings, is overshadowed by flyers and posters everywhere alerting the audience to its possible demise as Stow College faces curriculum changes. A petition is duly signed, and I certainly hope that this Glasgow stalwart is not forced to stop pressing records of the quality we’ve come to expect.

Now, at this point I could go into a rant about educational policy, but I shall move onto the music, which is a pleasure. Woodenbox are always a joy to behold, their energetic performances getting feet shifting and hands clapping from the off. They play quality Americana alt-country on acoustic guitars, Ali Downer’s raw vocals lifting above the sticky air, and letting us forget the rather poor game of football shown beforehand in the bar. My head bobs along throughout, and I find myself longing for a bourbon, a porch and a balmy firefly night. They’re not quite as raucous tonight as they can be, but the mix of trumpet, guitars and spirit blend to make me smile.

After the show, their manager Guillaume announces they’re off to play a ‘secret show’ in the Halt, and this hard-working troupe will follow it by heading to Rockness tomorrow. Their summer is filled with dates, so if you get the chance, aim to catch them – a perfect festival band.

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12th June 2010

For a local act in a support slot the Captain’s Rest is surprisingly full. With many of the audience seated on the floor right up to the stage the mood is intimate but electric. From the moment the band take the stage you feel as if you’ve stumbled upon something very special cocooned away from the world outside.

Seated centre stage behind a table laden with sequencers, drum machines and loop pedals, Lewis ‘Yahweh’ Cook weaves melodies, clicks and beats around his delicate songs while his bandmates watch his every move, their accompaniment floating behind his voice and guitar. The set is heavy on new material – a taster of his forthcoming second album – and without any huge leaps in any direction it is reassuringly several steps ahead of everything he has done before, particularly in terms of his lyrics. On his new single a stream of dreamy and wordy imagery gives way to a stab at its own ridiculousness with the kiss off line “I guess that’s what happens when you study a degree in philosophy.” It’s refreshingly self-deprecating and brings a smile to the assembled faces.

Given that his debut album Tug Of Love was very much a solo piece and, for all its live instrumentation, almost claustrophobic in its production, I was sceptical about how he would recreate his sound live. But on the whole it works. Where things do become a little ramshackle it adds to the overall atmosphere rather than falling flat. The drone of violin and melodica wheezing to and fro builds walls of sound so thin it seems they might crumple at any second.

While the band hold it together well, their set is at its best when combined with Lewis’ electronic side. The intricacies of his programming, his restrained use of effects and the raw beats somehow just work with his folkie song writing, both touching and absorbing at the same time.

While so many Scottish artists fall so easily into dirge by keeping the emotion levels at full throttle, Yahweh sidesteps this quite deftly, drawing you in with the inventiveness of his arrangements. More than anything tonight you are struck by the sheer talent in this man. With something of a Scottish Sparklehorse about him Yahweh has a bright future in the very particular groove he is carving out for himself. I’m sure the best has yet to come.

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12th June 2010

There’s few sadder things in life than watching an elderly family dog in its final years, no longer young and sprightly, reduced from formerly boisterous greetings, rushing down the hall, paws scampering against wooden floors, to a raising of the head in weary reverence, coupled with a few limp wags of the tail. It’s hard not to feel a similar sadness watching Teenage Fanclub tonight.

We all know that this band’s best years are behind them, though we are careful to voice it too casually because it’s such a painful admission, but the lethargic delivery of this performance was downright upsetting. We should still be able to cling to the great memories and be reminded of why we are here, because we love the bright guitar-pop melodies and utter refusal to deviate from such a watertight, brilliant formula, but lamentably often there was no urgency, no excitement.

This is partly down to some substandard sound-checking. Set opener ‘Start Again’ doubles as sage advice as Norman Blake’s vocals struggle to be heard and volume levels have to be quickly adjusted. It’s all the more disappointing when in contrast with the odd euphoric high. ‘The Concept’ gets a suitably rapturous response, as of course does pretty much anything from Grand Prix, including the great-regardless-of-circumstance ‘About You’. And lined up against all the past classics it’s clear that new single ‘Baby Lee’ belongs in the pantheon of excellent Teenage Fanclub singles.

It should all be like this but it’s not, and the whole experience is quite underwhelming. Material from new album Shadows stands up quite well, but it’s only been on sale for a couple of days and it’s obvious that most of the crowd just can’t get as excited over it. The set-list was as good as anyone could have hoped for, just the execution that faltered. All that’s left to do now is go home, put on Bandwagonesque and cry into a pillow, reminiscing about happier times.

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17th June 2009

Nom – Nom (Nommusic)
I first heard Joe McAlinden sing as part of ‘Smiles and Good Vibes’ back in 1995 or thereabouts. (more…)

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17th June 2009

The work of an Edinburgh-based songwriter and his band, the songs on Romantic Fiction are designed to surprise the listener (more…)

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17th June 2009

Money Can’t Buy Music / theonewhoflew
Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
“You’re a NICER audience than Glasgow was.” intones Chris Flew. “Er, is that a compliment?” responds Jackson Flew? (more…)

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17th June 2009

Squander Pilots / Genaro / Laki Mera
Dunfermline Montys (is this music? night)
‘Folktronica’ is for what is a ‘new’ artform, already an over-used term, but Laki Mera have been saddled with it, probably by some lazy journalist or other. (more…)

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17th June 2009

[cayto] / L Casio Immunitas
Glasgow ABC2
Having never been to the ABC since it (re)opened (I recall a visit to the cinema to see Alien in the 80s), it’s an odd experience. (more…)

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17th June 2009

Fuck-Off Machete
Glasgow ABC2

I was quite taken aback to see Fuck-Off Machete on the bill supporting Architecture in Helsinki. The last time I saw them they were doing the stoner-rock thing, all Desert Sessions riffs and PJ Harvey purrs, far off from the antipodean headliner’s brass-inflected pop jigging. It’s not quite the Locus supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but it seems like a weird one.
Introducing the band with the portetous words “we are Fuck-Off Machete” in a voice of apparent innocence, singer/bassist Nashii sets the tone of subversion, and the band go on to flesh it out with some purely rock riffing and banging. Innocence is out the window like the obligatory TV in a hotel: Fuck-Off Machete are pure rock’n’roll, with the usual hypermasculine showiness bypassed for Nashii’s feminine cool.
It doesn’t take much of this before the wisdom behind their support slot becomes apparent. While their sound still draws from that distinctively stoner-rock pool of head-nodding riffs and muddied rumbling bass, the Machete seems to have eased off a little. moving into much more pop-inflected territory. Their songs deal in the kind of epic dynamics you’d associate with the REM stable, calling on a louder riff here and a kicked-up chorus there. Of course that’s not to say they’ve turned into jangle pop, hell no: the guitar tones still metallic and the bass is still malevolent. But these sounds are used to create a more pop-inflected version of their previous selves, assuming a trajectory similar to that of QOTSA, although the more nuanced vocals allow the Glasgow band a bit more control over the beast of rock that they contain.
As a result, we get a fitting support slot that demonstrates a new degree of potential for Fuck-Off Machete.

(Gary Thoms)

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17th June 2009

Carling East Meets West
Glasgow heat

Tonight was suppose to have been bound for a night of musical prowess and talent. Instead we got the same old, same old – yes that’s right… the band with the most tickets sold for the event tonight at the Barrowlands would progress to the final in Edinburgh next month. No matter how bollock-droppingly good you were unless you get all your friends to buy a ticket to come along, you had no chance of progressing. But then, no pay, no play.
Anyway enough of my corporate bickering, to the music. The first of the seven bands playing tonight were The Scruffs – a 5-piece from Barrhead who look young enough to fear Hearts manager Graham Rix.
Incidentally they sound older than they look, with stadium filling 70’s rock riffs beaten out by a statuesque, baby-faced slash. EHHHHHPWWAAAAWAWA goes the guitar during opener ‘Set Me Free’, a homage to Led Zeppelin rawk. This is kind of ruined by the singer’s goofy dancing – think a more camp Ian Curtis and you have nailed it. If Geek rock was fucked in the head with an axe and injected with heroin you would get The Scuffs. Just wait till they finish school, this is a band to look out for.
Up next was All My Logic, a band used to playing battle of the bands having battled their way through to play the T-break stage at T in the park earlier in the year. The 3-piece from Ayrshire are a more melodic Biffy Clyro but with a singer who looks like Charlie Simpson out of Fightstar, which is apparently a good thing – according to the blonde standing beside me, “Cos he is fooking hott man”. Looks aside they are actually a decent band, and they really should have been one of the bands to have gone through to the final – obviously they didn’t bring tractors full of people up from Ayrshire for support.
If you like your rock bands to look like they come from the 70’s but sound like thee olde britpop 90’s then the Skint Flints are for you. They are infectious pop at its most lethal brain numbingly best, with choruses of “Tra La La” and “Sha la la’s” it makes ‘Mmbop’ seem less annoying. That said they do get a whole crowd chanting along – even the Goth kids in the darkened corner of the room. Even on my way home I could still hear the echoes of it run circles in my head. A good pop band but nothing too special, although they would make a great support band on the take that reunion gig – the singer sounds the double of Take That reject Robbie Williams.
Old Fidel himself would be disappointed at the 4th band on tonight for (A) being named Castro and (B) because they are very conformist – they sound like every other rock band. However, saying that jet have done well for themselves.But they did have the biggest crowd of the night, which meant it was easy sailing for these boys into the next round – obviously the judges either liked crap ‘samey’ indie bands or they liked the sound of money in the till.
However, the next band on were near polar opposite from just being an indie-schmindie, run of the mill band. Pylot are in fact RAWWWWWWKK!!!
They are a heavy metal band in its true form – ear-bashing guitars,chest crushing base, ear bleeding howls and of course a prick of a front-man. The yelps and squeals made for uneasy listening but the sheer volume and power of the rest of the band made up for it and led pilot into the final in Edinburgh, where am sure they will, “FAWWKING RAWKKK YEAHHH”.
Up next were the D-Karts – they played, sounded like the Bee Gees with some bongos, and left. Yawwwn. But luckily for this slowly fatiguing crowd, the last band up were the best by miles. Kobai easily brushed by the other contenders in this battle of the bands after just one song. They were tight and confident – playing only 4 songs to impress the judges. The sound like early 90’s dance music getting a broken old guitar shoved down its throat. Kobai are definitely ones to watch.
So there we had it our four finalists from the west – Kobai, Skint Flints, Castro and Pylot. Judges may or may not have been swayed by the money (surely “talent”? – Ed); however, in my eyes/ears All My Logic should have gone through too. But hey, maybe I’m wrong.
(Jamie Crossan)

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