A song for the day of the Scottish Referendum

At the time of writing I have still never been sent any tunes calling for a ‘no’ vote in the Scottish Referendum.

One tune I have been sent is from White Heath (who I have featured on the blog many times in the past) and their interpretation of Dougie MacLean’s ‘Caledonia’. You can stream it below:

In their own words ‘We proudly present our version of a modern classic of Scottish song; Caledonia. In response to the Referendum we wanted to add our voices to the outpouring of support for the Yes campaign, not only from artists and musicians, but from the grassroots. Caledonia is a song which captures where we are personally as a group of musicians; it is familiar to us, part of a shared recent history, but it also captures the mood of a people, and the spirit of their convictions. The sentiments and the musical landscape at play are part of the national character. We wanted to shine light on the bent of some of the Dougie MacLean’s gorgeously dark words, often skipped over by the rousing chorus and capture the raw and spontaneous energy that is manifesting itself in Scotland right now as people wake up to the incredible opportunity that lies before them. A people discovering politics again. Four nations and an island separately and together finding voice. A timely and honest self-examination, in which we find our body politic rotting, reminding us of the transience of our limbs, and therefore the importance of the legacy we leave etched before us; the vitality of seizing moments to realise seismic change. Our faults, our strengths, our possibilities. ‘Our multiform’ as Hugh MacDiarmid put it. Caledonia is not Scotland. It is an imagined time, an imagined place. It is a longing and love for someone and something that could be, given time, graft and will.’

Album Review – Ally Kerr

Ally Kerr -’Viva Melodia.’ (Much Obliged/Shellshock)

As a reviewer, I get sent more music than I can possibly listen to. Not least because when an album as lovely and beautiful as this, it tends to get many listens. And deservedly so.

While Ally Kerr was a new name to me, this is something that I am rectifying. It’s his third album, and his first for six years, during which time he has been building up his profile, particularly in Asia. There’s something magical and mysterious at work here, and his gorgeous songwriting deserves comparisons to the likes of the classic Scots indie pop which he is predictably compared to.

Right from the off, album opener ‘Everything I’ve Learned I Have Forgotten’ sets the tone for a collection of well-crafted and lovingly arranged album. Other highlights include ‘Safe From You’ and ’5am’ – and the magnificent melancholy deserves to be the soundtrack of your autumn.

****

Viva Melodia is out now on Much Obliged/Shellshock

The return of BMX Bandits

BMX Bandits

Yup! They’re back with their first music in a couple of years.

In the words of the great [I have met him, he is a lovely bloke] Duglas T. Stewart ‘My Girl Midge was recorded by David Scott [The Pearlfishers] and me on August 27th on David’s home studio. It is a song about loss and heartbreak but I wanted it to be more than just another sad song. I wanted the song to be filled with the light of love and for it not to be maudlin. There are too many maudlin, self pitying songs out there and often I can’t hear very much love in them. There is sadness in this song but I hope people can have a little dance to it or at least a smile.’

When I contacted him to ask if there was a new BMX Bandits album on the way, Duglas said it was just this for now – but this free download is a welcome addition to their catalogue, particularly on what is a very wet and foggy day here in Scotland.

To download the single go to Elefant Records’ website and simply enter the code 028ENHYJYV61

Here is also a link to one of the earliest interviews I ever did for the website, with Duglas himself

The return of The Cure!

At some point this year, The Cure (my all-time favourite band, and whose second album gives this blog its name) will release their fourteenth album 4:14 Scream.

In the meantime, this video is doing the rounds of them covering The Beatles ‘Hello Goodbye’ for a forthcoming tribute album to Paul McCartney entitled The Art of McCartney (and the tracklisting for that can be found here). It’s a faithful cover, featuring James McCartney on keyboards and yet it is unmistakeably The Cure.

The bonus disc features Robert Smith covering ‘C Moon’ though I’ve yet to find any evidence of that on the web, apart from a listing…

Album Review – New Model Army

New Model Army Wine and Blood

New Model Army -’Between Wine And Blood.’ (Attack Attack)

Between Wine And Blood follows New Model Army’s last album Between Dog And Wolf almost exactly a year to its release date. That album – rightly – got not only some of their best reviews ever – but also saw them getting their highest chart positions in many years.

Between Wine And Blood is a package to two halves. The second half is a series of live performances recorded in England and mainland Europe. To my ears the finest new version on here is ‘Horsemen’ which closed last year’s album, and still contains the same urgency. Whether leading New Model Army (as he has done for thirty-four years) or solo, Justin Sullivan is a compelling performer and these live performances give an insight into why they maintain a very loyal following and why their last album did so well.

It is, however, the first part of the album that’s the main reason for buying this album. It’s a six track mini-album, recorded earlier this year when drummer Michael Dean was unable to play shows. It’s prime New Model Army, from opening ‘According To You’ (which – again- reminds me that one of the many refreshing things about New Model Army was their positivity) to the closing ‘Sunrise.’ I kept trying to decide which was the standout track here and decided ultimately to admire the whole. There’s a number of excellent additions to the New Model Army songbook here – and a reminder that while the mainstream music press may have treated them shoddily, their fanbase continues to grow and remain loyal. And once more, the record features fantastic artwork from longterm collaborator Joolz Denby.

****

Between Wine And Blood is out now on Attack Attack.

Simple Minds return with a brilliant new track

There’s another world, probably many, but the one I think of at this present moment in time is the one whereby Simple Minds remain the more adventurous and experimental compared to U2.

If you’re scoffing at this, then the chances are you haven’t heard Simple Minds’ early stuff – but records like Life In A Day, Reel To Reel Cacophony and Empires And Dance show the sign of a band who had far more in common with arthouses than stadia.

They’re shortly to return with a new album Big Music, due out in November- and this is the first song from it: ‘Blindfolded.’ Frankly, I can live without the overblown likes of ‘She’s A River’ and ‘Belfast Child’ but this is the Minds re-discovering why, thirty years ago, they really were vital.

A nice piece of music for a Sunday

What makes for perfect Sunday listening? Early albums by Belle & Sebastian. Aretha Franklin, whether singing soul or gospel (although not duetting with George Michael or Eurythmics).

Oh, and this: ‘Lark Ascending’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Just…perfect. Make sixteen minutes to listen to this. You won’t regret it -and if you do, more fool you.

A new single from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

It’s now thirty years since Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds emerged with their debut album, From Her To Eternity.

September 19 will see the release of a documentary on Cave entitled 20,000 Days On Earth. A new song has been revealed alongside this, entitled ‘Give Us A Kiss’ which was recorded during the sessions for last year’s Push The Sky Away sessions. It’s now available as a single and also features an awesome live recording of ‘Jubilee Street,’ one of the outstanding tracks from that album from the Sydney Opera House.

The trailer for 20,000 Days On Earth can be seen below:

Stanley Odd on Scottish Independence

In less than two weeks’ time (September 18) Scotland will hold a referendum on Independence. Trying to get unbiased and balanced views from either side has become difficult in Scotland, and whatever happens on that date, you can bet your bottom dollar that the shouting, posturing and hand-wringing will not be over.

I’ve long championed Edinburgh Hip-hop act Stanley Odd on these pages (and you can read an interview with them here. They have recorded a new song (with an awesome take on the notion of a lyric video) entitled ‘Son I Voted Yes.

Stanley Odd will join an awesome lineup that includes the likes of 17 Seconds favourites including Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai and Twilight Sad at ‘A Night For Scotland’ which takes place at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on September 14. Tickets for that event have been selling like hot cakes, but it may be worth trying…

Stanley Odd are touring in November, too:

Sat 15th Nov – Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree
Fri 21st Nov – Edinburgh, Liquid Room
Tue 25th Nov – London, Barfly
Fri 28th Nov – Inverness, Ironworks
Sat 13th Dec – Glasgow, The Garage
Oh, and if anyone asks me why I haven’t featured a ‘no’ event or songs on here – I haven’t been sent any.

First new music from Aphex Twin in years!

It’s been a very long time coming.

But after 13 years, Richard D. James AKA Aphex Twin has shared some new music with us, entitled ”mini pops 67 (source field mix)’ which you can stream above.

It’s the first track to do the rounds from his forthcoming new album, which is entitled Syro and comes out via Warp on September 22.

I like this new track – yes it sounds like him, and whilst it’s not a mindblower like ‘Windowlicker’ or ‘Come To Daddy,’ anyone who is familiar with his work knows that one track is unlikely ever to be typical of an album.

The album tracklisting, according to Amazon, is as follows:

1. Minipops 67 (120.2) Source Field Mix) (Aka the Manchester Track)
2. XMAS_EVET10 (120) (Thanaton3 Mix)
3. Produk 29 (101)
4. 4 Bit 9d Api+e+6 (126.26)
5. 180db_ (130)
6. CIRCLONT6A (141.98) (Syrobonkus Mix)
7. Fz Pseudotimestretch+e+3 (138.85)
8. CIRCLONT14 (152.97) (Shrymoming Mix)
9. Syro U473t8+e (141.98) (Piezoluminescence Mix)
10. PAPAT4 (155) (Pineal Mix)
11. S950tx16wasr10 (163.97) (Earth Portal Mix)
12. Aisatsana (102)

(I say according to Amazon, because there’s no way most humans are capable of making sense of all of that!)