EP review – Mogwai

mogwai-earth-division-ep

Mogwai -’Earth Division EP’ (Rock Action)

A mere six months after their seventh studio album, Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will, Mogwai give us another EP. Mogwai’s EP’s have often felt like separate entities in themselves, rather than simply being promotion for a parent album.

So it is the case here. Four excellent tracks, three that are quite mellow and -being Mogwai – one that is absolutely loud and mental (not ‘Like Herod’ mental; you can’t really repeat that!) Opener ‘Get To France’ initially seems sligt until a couple of plays latyer, you realise it’s the hook to get you in. ‘Hound Of Winter’ even has that rare occurence on a Mogwai release of any sort – vocals! ‘Drunk and Crazy’ is perhaps the outstanding track here, encapsulating all that is great about Mogwai in one track, and the EP is nicely rounded off with the reflective ‘Does This Always Happen?’

Every Mogwai album is still an event, and so it proves with their EPs. Long may their light shine.

****

The Earth Division EP is released on September 12 on Rock Action.

Stream the EP here

Presenting…Flying Man Shark

flying-man-shark

Flying Man Shark hail from Edinburgh.

They’re set to release their debut album in October – but being generous souls – they’ve made it available to download from their bandcamp for free now.

It is hard to find out much about them – no mention of who’s in the band on their myspace, for example. They have recorded it with one of Aberfeldy’s producers (but whether it was Calum Malcolm or Jim Sutherland) is not clear.

More info when I get it – why not just enjoy the music for now?

…is that autumn on the way?

autumn-light-on-edin-castle

David Campbell Autumn Light On Edinburgh Castle.

It’s still August, but today I actually drove to work – in daylight -with the car heater on. It was pretty cold all day…

The festival is coming to an end…another record-breaking year…too many people around to enjoy it properly, at times…

…but finally got to see Shonen Knife…and Sebadoh…and another act added to the roster at 17 Seconds Records…watch this space.

Ash’s 1998 LP Nu-Clear Sounds is not a classic, and contains way too much filler. This track, however, is taken from it, and remains one of the best things they have ever done. It’s the perfect autumn song. Despite the sadness in the air, and the sense of change, or maybe because of it, autumn is probably my favourite time of year.

Ash -’Folk Song.’ mp3

Album Review – Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

stephen-malkmus

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks -’Mirror Traffic.’ (Domino)

Three years since his last album under his own name, Real Emotional Trash, and a Pavement reunion later, Stephen Malkmus is back with his new album. And it’s great. Hallelujah!

What this album demonstrates is that – now amazingly aged forty-five – our hero has two awesome talents in particular. More often than not used together: a masterful grasp of the leftfield pop tune, and a way with a wonderfully nonsensical lyric. With regards to the latter, my favourite has got to be ‘One of us is a cigar stand/and the other a lovely blue incandescent guillotine’ (from ‘Type Slowly’ off Pavement’s Brighten The Corners), though I guess everyone’s got their own favourite.

In terms of lyrics to be remembered from this album I suspect it’s going to be the rather more straightforward ‘I know what the Senator wants/what the Senator wants is a blowjob’ from ‘Senator’. This is going to be changed to ‘corndog’ for the radio edit, apparently. The aforementioned ‘Senator’ and album opener ‘Tigers’ have already be doing the rounds as free mp3s ahead of the album’s release, They give a good example of how great the album is, as do ‘No One Is (As I Are Be)’ and ‘Forever 28.’

It’s now nearly twenty years since Pavement’s awesome debut Slanted and Enchanted. If it were ever doubted, Malkmus is more than just a mere Fall plagiarist, he is rightly revered as a legend on the indie scene and beyond.’

****

Mirror Traffic is out now on Domino

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Senator by DominoRecordCo

Album review – The Raincoats (re-issue)

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Raincoats -’Odyshape (re-issue).’ (WeThRee)

Having re-issued their seminal, eponymous debut on their own We ThRee label in 2009, the Raincoats now issue their sophomore album, now also celebrating its’ thirtieth anniversary.

It’s a very welcome re-appearance. Rather like with the Vaselines, there’s no doubt that the reason many people have picked up on them over the last twenty years is to do with the enthusiasm of a certain rock icon (clue: he died in 1994). And like with the Vaselines, patronage or not, it’s music that more people simple need to hear. The sheer ambition and scope of a track like ‘Shouting Out Loud’ as all the different facets mesh together. The tension of a song like ‘Only LOved At Night’ – which is reminiscent of their Rough Trade labelmates the Young Marble Giants.

There’s no doubt that the Raincoats’ music may appear cacophonous to the uninitiated.But the more you listen and take the time to appreciate, the more Odyshape reveals itself to be not just experimental but a very rewarding and enjoyable listen.

Like the debut, this is music that is deeply original music, thirty years on.It’s not polished and it’s all the better for it. While it may be less immediate on first hearing compared to the debut, ultimately Odyshape reveals itself to be the more rewarding listen.

*****

The Raincoats re-release Odyshape on WeThree on September 12.

Find more artists like The Raincoats at Myspace Music

Read my interview with The Raincoats here and the review of the re-issue of the debut here.

Album review – Beirut

beirut-the-rip-tide

Beirut – ‘The Rip Tide.’ (Pompeii)

Four years since their last album, Zach Condon and co. return to the fray with a long anticipated and highly anticipated new record. Two months ago, as the single ‘East Harlem’ appeared, it seemed that the wait might indeed have been worthwhile. And on listening to this record, it most definitely has been.

This is a very warm sounding record, right from the opening note’s of ‘A Candle’s Fire’ (am I the only person who hears this as a cousin of ‘Have you ever seen the rain?’ Er, probably. Anyway). It’s not just about the opening track and single, of course. ‘Goshen’ (actually the b-side to the single) is heartbreaking, and ‘Payne’s Bay’ reminds you just how awesome Beirut’s use of brass is.

It’s not perfect – the title track could do with being stripped of what sounds like a cheap eighties casio keyboard, which detracts, somewhat. No matter. It’s good to have them back, and this is an album that you should take the time to hear.

****

The Rip Tide is released on Pompeii on August 29.

Beirut – East Harlem by Revolver USA

Gig review – Sebadoh

Sebadoh/A Grave With No Name/Dead Slow

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, August 24.

Dead Slow start tonight’s show. Hailing from London, the two piece do an awesome take on the grunge/shoegaze soound which is rather good. They could certainly give Warpaint a run for their money.

Next up are A Grave With No Name. Fronted by the charismatic Alex Shields, it’s a surprise to discover (after the show and an internet trawl) that they are English too, because his look is straight outta 1990s American alt-rock. The Cab is getting so full that it’s impossible to get close and hear them inbetween songs, and I’m unable to report back what they played. What I do know is that I really loved it. The three piece are the missing link between Sebadoh and Neil Young circa Freedom/Ragged Glory with hints of the Pixies, Galaxie 500 and the Velvet Underground. How impressed am I by the two support bands? Let’s just say I picked up a CD and a 7″ from the merch stall – and am typing up this review having bought A Grave With No Name’s debut album A Grave With No Name off eMusic. It’s great, by the way.

Now before I cover the night’s main attraction: a gripe. I’m certainly not holding Sebadoh responsible for this, but it was impossible to see much of their set. Lots of us were rammed in the doorway -somebody somewhere should be hanging their head in shame at how crowded it was. Gripe over).

There is – no surprise here – a massive cheer as Lou Barlow and co take to the stage. They seem genuinely humbled. In a world first, considering they were meant to be on stage at 9PM, they are actually on stage at 8: 40. At the end of the gig, with the 10PM curfew strictly enforced, Lou tells us that it’s probably the most efficient Sebadoh show ever.

Now I’ve waited a long time to see Sebadoh -and even if wedged at the back I can barely see a bloody thing- it’s an awesome show. The band are on good form, at what is the end of their European tour. It would appear that there has been some drinking going on beforehand. Lou has been enjoying Jagermeister -’I'm in the home of scotch and I’m fuckin’ drinking Jagermeister!’ he quips.

But this should not give the impression of a band who aren’t on form. Because they are. And how. There’s lots of shouts for so many of the songs they have released over their career (and if anyone asks for anything by any of Lou’s other projects, I can’t hear it). Plenty of fast ones and a few slow ones too. In the case of ‘Soul and Fire’ quicker than it is on record, but it still works. And being as I got to hear ‘Not Too Amused’ ‘Ocean’ and ‘Rebound’ – to say nothing of ‘The Freed Pig’ whose complaining?

Not this happy punter!

960 by Dead Slow

A Grave With No Name -’And We Parted Ways At Mt. Jade.’ mp3

Sebadoh -’Rebound.’ mp3

Album Review – Isaac’s Aircraft

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Isaac’s Aircraft -’Two’s A Crowd.’ (Crash)

Straight outta, erm, Cambridge, Isaac’s Aircraft have produced a fully acoustic album. This is because, it transpires, that they couldn’t raise the £20K they needed to record an electric album. Adversity can prove beneficial in the long run – Peter Hook’s bass style dveloped because it was the only way he could hear himself on the bass he had.

So it’s possible that only time will tell whether this informs Isaac’s Aircraft’s style for the future. The bands that they most remind me of are Keane and The Feeling, around the time of their respective debut albums. There are some strong tracks here ‘She Is Moscow’ and the forthcoming single ‘Mathematics.’ ‘Good Man,’ on the other hand, sounds like the sort of thing you have heard performed in a million pubs performed live by earnest singer-songwriters who are going nowhere.

Very much the ‘nice’ singer-songwriter, piano-driven end of indie (where it almost isn’t, anymore), there’s some nice enough songs here. As with the aforementioned Feeling and Keane, there is a sense that the honesty and radio-friendly nature of the music may just prove too much for some…

***

Two’s A Crowd is out now on Crash

Stream tracks here

The Wildhouse

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It has been a quieter year for 17 Seconds Records, but that shouldn’t be taken as meaning that we’re no longer in existence. Oh no. And nor that any of the acts have just.

The Wildhouse have just produced this rather ace video for their track ‘Go’ from this year’s Good Morning, Captain.

This – if you still haven’t grabbed it – is the free download from the EP:

The Wildhouse -’Palatine.’ mp3

The Wildhouse’s forthcoming new album has just arrived at 17 Seconds HQ, so new that it hasn’t even entered the CD player yet.

But do watch this space…

A decade…

dj-ed-jupp1Like most folk in their mid-thirties, I guess I’ve done some things that make me look back and cringe.

But I’ve also taken chances on things, and look back and think ‘Well, that was a leap into the unknown – but it paid off.’

And one of those was moving to Edinburgh.

Ten years ago, I was really not sure where I was heading. I had spent five years studying full-time, which had awarded me a BA and Masters in Philosophy, and still left feeling that I wanted to do something musically related. A relationship had crashed and burned, leaving me in a state, and wondering what it was all about.

I spent a few weeks in London trying to get a job selling advertising space (why??? I honestly thought in my frazzled state that this would lead me to working for the NME or something similar). Instead I got interviews but no job in this field (thank God) and was filing, once again, for my Mum. So I went up for a week to Edinburgh to see my little brother who was acting and doing comedy in the Festival and studying (t)here.

I fell hook, line and sinker for Edinburgh. I’d visited before and loved it, and couldn’t work out how I could move here. After a few days, I arranged that I would sleep on my brother’s floor for six weeks, try and find and job and a place to live. I briefly returned to England to attend V2001 (so long ago that Muse were headlining the second stage), and grab some clothes. I arrived on August 20, 2001.

I barely knew anyone apart from my brother, and a people I’d met through him. I volunteered at the Edinburgh book festival and within three days was working in a call centre. I thought it would be a stop gap measure for a few weeks; in the end I would end up working there on and off for over two years. But I met some of my greatest friends in Edinburgh there. Amongst those who worked there were Deborah Arnott from Blueflint and Ken McIntosh from Aberfeldy (the latter then playing with his twin in Edinburgh’s greatest lost band, Wayne Paycheck).

And I started to find my feet. I did find somewhere to live – almost directly leading to me meeting my wife. I ended up doing all sorts of jobs from the bizarre (I still can’t believe I ever worked as a door-to door salesman) to the dream come true of finally working in a record shop (or three, if you want to be pedantic).

As the years went by, I trained as a teacher and taught for a few years, as well as doing bits of TEFL. And of course, I sauntered vaguely downwards (with apologies to Terry Pratchett) into the Edinburgh music scene. Whilst I’ve not really got a band together, I’ve had a fair amount of stuff published online, interviewed bands I could only have dreamt about and DJed. And I made many new friends -and against all odds – married and have a wonderful son, and two much adored (if rather indulged) cats. In the last few years I’ve become a Hibee (supporter of Hibernian football club – now who would have thought I’d get into going to the football?) And running my own club night or record label? the sort of thing that people back in England told me I’d never do? Hah!

It’s not all been plain sailing. I’ve lost twelve months in that time to depression, which is one of the most horrible -and still misunderstood illnesses – around. But I’ve got through it, thanks to Edinburgh folk, and most particuarly my wife, brother and parents and close Edinburgh friends (you know who you are).

Against all odds, I gave up smoking and drinking (so much for the ‘sick man of Europe’ tag). I feel very much at home here, even if I bristle about casual anti-English remarks. And this far into my life I’m still ‘yes to vinyl, no to meat.’ A pretty long phase, then.

So God bless all of you who’ve made me welcome. I’ve done some daft things – but this wasn’t one of them.

A sampling of an Edinburgh soundtrack…

Withered Hand -’Religious Songs.’ mp3

eagleowl -’Morpheus.’ mp3

Aberfeldy -’Claire.’ mp3

Last Battle -’Black Waterfall.’ mp3

X-Lion Tamer -’Hope.’ mp3

Blueflint -’Takes More Than A Little Time.’ mp3