Good things come in threes…

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A good day for 17 Seconds Records.

First of all, the Last Battle have made a Free Live EP available via their bandcamp called ‘A Wee Red tale.’ (17SEC22)

Featuring three live tracks recorded at the single launch for ‘Ruins’ last monht, it really sounds awesome.

Not only that, but X-Lion Tamer‘s single ‘Hope’ is available to download from iTunes as of now (17SEC23). Oh, and Vic Galloway played it on Radio Scotland tonight as one of his ‘Future Scottish Anthems.’ Which was great!

Hope you’re well…I’m tired and really needing to sleeeepppp….zzzzz

Gig review: Broken Records/Sparrow and the Workshop

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Picture courtesy of Dylan. Many thanks for letting me use this!

Broken Records/Sparrow and the Workshop, Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh, August 28, 2010.

It’s been a while since I was at the Liquid Rooms. The venue has just opened after refurbishment following the fire in Christmas 2008, which badly burnt the restaurant upstairs and the ensuing water damage affected the Liquid Rooms. But it’s great to see one of Edinburgh’s best venues up and running once more, a place where I have been more times than I can count in the nine years since I moved to Edinburgh, seeing many great acts as support and headliners: Aberfeldy, Hundred Reasons, Cooper Temple Clause, The Rakes, British Sea Power, Franz Ferdinand, Sons & Daughters, Glasvegas…

…and it’s fitting that I should be here with my wife watching Broken Records. By my calculations, it’s the sixth time I’ve seen them, three years to the month since Mrs. 17 Seconds and I saw them supporting Emma Pollock at Cabaret Voltaire. Then they were unsigned, now they are a headline act, about to release their second album on the mighty 4AD.

First up, the support act are the wonderful Sparrow and the Workshop. The Glasgow-based three-piece issued a fine debut in Crystals Fall in April and I hope to see them live again very soon. Interviewing Belfast-born, Chicago-raised singer Jill O’Sullivan a few months ago, she talked very warmly of the Edinburgh music scene. She told me how she met drummer Nick whilst stayiong in London and feeling lonely in London. I’m sorry she had such a miserable-sounding time there for the sounds of it, but grateful that this three-piece have come together to produce such brilliant music. It’s clear that the band are hugely grateful to Broken Records for taking them out on tour the first time. Their country-spaghetti-western feel (and I mean that as a compliment) wins the crowd over, with songs like ‘Crystals’ and ‘Into The Wild.’

Broken Records’ lead singer Jamie Sutherland talks about tonight as being a ‘happy sad occasion.’ Sad, in the sense that Gill Dave ‘Gill’ Fothergill is leaving for ‘pastures new’ (or returning to the world of work, depending on which source you find on google!) and ‘cellist Arne Kolb is returning to Germany for ‘reasons of love.’ So it’s an emotion-packed show, which is utterly, utterly euphoric. The set is interspersed with tracks from the new album Let Me Come Home and the record of of last year, Until The Earth Begins To Part. Jill O’Sullivan adds her bewitching vocals to one track which is one of those moments.

And over a year since the release of their debut record, still it weaves its’ magic. Mrs. 17 Seconds woke up early to listen to it this morning. I sat down to play it before lunch again. It’s still so sweet and fresh. Jamie dedicates ‘Wolves’ to Graeme from the Kays Lavelle for coming to see them and not Phoenix. (No contest, certainly not in this house.) Arne’s ‘cello on ‘If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This’ is described as being his finest hour with the band, and it most certainly is. Debut single ‘If The News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It’ and album opener ‘Nearly Home’ threaten to bring the roof off all over again.

They encore with a version of ‘Slow Parade’ which is more Buckley-esque than the album version (both Buckleys, since you ask). And we walk home, still on a high the next morning.

To download ‘A leaving Song’ from the forthcoming sign up for the mailing list here.

Broken Records -’Until the Earth Begins To Part.’ mp3

Sparrow and the Workshop -’The Gun.’ mp3

Album review – Miyagi

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Miyagi – ‘Electrosaurus’ (Slow Train Records)

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 defintely were spending time with, and getting to know. Believe me, you’ll want to.

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

****

Electrosaurus is out now on Slow Train records

Miyagi – ‘Alaska.’ mp3

Miyagi’s website/Miyagi’s myspace

Last Battle exclusive…and an interview with yours truly

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The Last Battle will release their debut album Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea on 17 Seconds Records on October 4. If you listened to my show on Fresh Air last night you will have heard a stunning live version of ‘Soul of the sea’ from their single launch at the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh on July 1.

The album launch is September 18, and for now treat your ears to this:

The Last Battle -’Cutlass.’ mp3

Meanwhile, there is an interview with yours truly here! at The Scotsman’s blog.

Live on Fresh Air!

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Live on Fresh Air!

1. She’s Hit ‘Re: Peater.’
2. Album of the month Aberfeldy Somewhere to jump from. Aberfeldy ‘Claire’
3. Miniature Dinosaurs ‘Cold Shoulder.’
4. Meursault ‘Crank Resolutions.’
5. X-Lion Tamer ‘Hope.’
6. Not Squares ‘Release the bees.’
7. Funeral Club ‘Whiskey & Clyde.’
8. Last Battle ‘Soul of the Sea.’ (Live at the Wee Red Bar, July 1, 2010)
9. Gone but not forgotten: Orange Juice ‘Felicity.’
10. For a Minor Reflection ‘Dansi dans.’
11. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes ‘Home.’
12. Cover version of the week: Felix Kubin ‘Hello.’ (Originally performed by Lionel Richie).
13. Jesus H. Foxx ‘Trying to be good.’
14. Schnapps ‘Cross Dresser.’
15. Entrailicus ‘Urban Sprawl.’
16. Sparrow and the workshop ‘The Gun.’
17. The Cure ‘Inbetween days.’

Getting ready…

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…for my last Fresh Air radio show.

It’s been fun, and I’m hoping to make a return to the station come October when they broadcast again.

This week I will have live music from X-Lion Tamer, ‘gone but not forgotten’ is Orange Juice, and there’ll be another cover version of the week. Also a final track from the album of the month by Aberfeldy and my little brother’s going to put in an apperaance as well.

I’ve loved playing a whole host of new(ish) scottish bands and this week will be no exception, including the likes of Ming Ming and the Ching Chings, She’s Hit, and Midas Fall.

White Heath -’Election Day (Live for 17 Seconds).’ mp3

X-Lion Tamer -’Starsign (Vic Galloway session).’ mp3

Orange Juice – about bleedin’ time!

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I got a long email today from Domino Records, talking about one of their new releases.

The release in question is Coals To Newcastle, an excellent complete covering of Orange Juice’s career from 1979-1984. It’s out on November 7 in the UK, and consists of 6CDs and a DVD.

One man who has done an excellent post on it is my friend Jim over at the Vinyl Villain who has turned a press release into a labour of love (and whose brains Domino have been picking to put this together, properly).

So read what Jim has to say (you should read this blog every day anyway), and whet your appetite with a couple of OJ tracks. It’s been a crying shame that so much of their back catalogue has been unavailable for so long.

Orange Juice -’Blue Boy.’ mp3

Orange Juice -’Consolation Prize.’ mp3

Orange Juice -’Rip It up.’ mp3

Orange Juice will also be my ‘Gone but not forgotten’ band on my radio show on Fresh Air this Thursday. I won’t be playing one of these three tracks but a different one…

Spoofs -admit it, you’re laughing too!

You’d have to be one of theose idiots who writes to NME grumbling when it’s not an indie band on the cover not to love ‘New York State of Mind’ by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.

But it’s funny watching this spoof…

…unless you reckon you are really from there and feel that it’s not accurate. Welcome back Goldie Lookin’ Chain!

…and whilst I’ve never been a fan of Chris Moyles, this take on ‘California Girls’ redone as ‘Wolverhampton Girls’ is pretty cool.

…and yes, I know these have been doing the rounds for a while, but why not?

Album Review – For a Minor Reflection

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For A Minor Reflection – ‘Heading Towards Chaos.’ (self-released/through Proper Music distribution)

‘Age ain’t nothing but a number’ as Aaliyah once sang. Well, maybe, but that still doesn’t mean that it’s not very impressive that the four men who make up For A Minor Reflection are only aged twenty and this is their second album.

Hailiing from Reykjavik, Iceland, these guys have released a sophomore album that is one of the most beautiful things to gace my ears this year. Sure people will make comparisons with Sigur Ros because they’re Icelandic and post-rock, but they also doff their caps to the likes of Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Mogwai.

Over the course of ten tracks and fifty one minutes these guys show that you don’t need vocals to keep the attention up, and more it’s the thrill of listening to what they will do next. The centrepiece of the album is ‘Sjáumst Í Virginíu’ which clocks in at fourteen and a half minutes but that shouldn’t give the impression that this descends into self-indulgence. because -no mean feat, this – it never does. Not for a single second.

Sure, we may have heard beautiful shimmering post-rock meets shoegazing before; and the fact that a band is Icelandic is no longer unusual either. What is amazing is that such a beautiful album can exist. Thank heavens it does. If this does not appear in best of lists at the end of the year, then shame on the bloggers, music press, radio staff and anyone else who considers themselves tastemakers, frankly.

****1/2

Heading Towards Chaos will be released on September 6, 2010.

For A Minor Reflection website//For a Minor Reflection myspace

Album review – Aberfeldy

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Aberfeldy -’Somewhere to jump from.’ (Tenement Records)

So, four years since their second album Do Whatever Turns You On, and now sixth since their 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 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. 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 wrankled 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 band, 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 rolecall 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.

****1/2

Somewhere to jump from will be released on August 23.

Aberfeldy -’In Denial.’ mp3

Aberfeldy’s website/Aberfeldy’s myspace

Somewhere To Jump From is my album of the month on Fresh Air.