Presenting…Aperture

aperture

Edinburgh four-piece Aperture are lead by vocalist Lisa McGlynn. Lisa was inspired to sing by her Uncle Pat who was rhythm guitarist in none other than The Bay City Rollers. The band also feature drummer Lachlan McIntosh, Gareth Noble on bass and John McRitchie on guitar.

Like many a fine Scottish rock band before them, they have been recording at the (in)famous Chem 19 studios in Hamilton; they have been working with Jamie Savage (younger brother of Paul), and are about to release their debut single ‘Good To Know You’/'Click’. This will be a self-release in March, check out the two tracks below. They’ve already earned comparisons to the likes of PJ Harvey and Siouxsie. There’s something very promising here -and thank God a submission that was not another overly earnest singer-songwriter or indie-by-numbers band!

Aperture play Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah hut on March 10.

Does there have to be a reason?

soapskin

Anja Plaschg, aka Soap&Skin, is an Austrian lass, who is shortly to release her new album Narrow on March 19.

It’s haunting as.

This track is doing the rounds and it is great.

And wait til you hear her cover of Desireless’ ‘Voyage Voyage’. Haunting doesn’t come close…

Gig Review – Michael Kiwanuka/The Staves

michael-kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka/The Staves

Electric Circus, Edinburgh, February 25

‘Hello, we’re The Staves and we’re going to play some songs,’ says Emily Stave, almost apologetically.

She needn’t have worried. When the three-piece Emily (vocals), Jessica (vocals, guitar) and Camilla (vocals, ukulele) open with their three- part harmonies a capella you coulod almost hear a pin drop. Not bad for a support act anywhere. They’ve recently released their debut EP, Mexico, and whilst they still seem nervous between songs, once they’re playing their nerves seem to drop away.

My friend Jared, who’s accompanied me to the gig describes them as if the Bronte sisters formed a band. Over the course of songs like ‘Tongue Behind My Teeth’ ‘Pay Us No Mind’ and ‘Mexico’ win over a packed-out crowd who seem to warm to them instantly. Given that Edinburgh is frantically busy, a result of the sodding Rugby being on yet again, they’re greeted well, and I suspect their return headlining slot in Edinburgh at The Pleasance will be well attended.

Michael Kiwanuka recently won the BBC Sound of 2012 Poll. He opens with his single ‘I’m Getting Ready’ shortly to be re-released. Not only do the crowd adore him from the moment he walks on, but he seems to have a voice that channels the very best of seventies soul – Messrs. Wonder, Gaye, Mayfield, Hayes, and perhaps most of all, Bill Withers. The handful of songs I had heard before the gig had inclined me to think of him as being just another slightly folky singer-songwriter, but there’s alchemy at work here. ‘Always Waiting’ for example has a country feel to it, and over the course of the gig, he reveals himself to be foremost a soul man, but with folk, country, blues, funk and even a bit of rock thrown in too. Those who see himas being another person in the vein of Ed Sheeran are just so…wrong.

His band are shit-hot too; particularly percussionist Hammadi, who is apparently just filling in for a few gigs, but who joins the others in making this feel like the nearest I am ever going to get to being at one of those 60s or 70s soul revues. ‘Burnt’ has a touch of the Junior Walkers about it, while ‘Rest’ is so beautiful I feel nstress free for the first time in months.

Playing ‘Home Again’, his recent hit single, he acknowledges that there are gigs where people are shouting for this song right from the beginning. It’s not representtative of all he has to offer (much in the same way that Harvest is only a tiny picture of what Neil young has offered in over forty years of recording). He finishes with a cover of ‘Bill Withers’ I DOn’t Know’ before coming on for an ecnore with a cover of Hendrix’s ‘May This Be Love.’

I went to my first gig nearly a quarter of a century ago. At the end of the gig, I tell his guitarist that this is, without a doubt, one of the top five gigs I have ever been too – and I mean it. When I meet Michael himself, I think I just about manage not to gush too much at him. I’m hoping his forthcoming debut Home Again does the justice to what is a fantastic live show, that leaves the crowd not only begging for more, but clearly very moved indeed.

17 Seconds and I’m over you…

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Yup, that really is in the lyrics.

By now, you really should have heard the excellent ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ as performed by Gotye featuring Kimbra. It has been a worldwide hit, proving that being successful does not always mean that something is rubbish. And do we reckon that the video is NSFW or not?

This rather fine remix dropped into my inbox today from Brian Matrix. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – but I’m really liking it.

See what YOU think…

What Damon did next

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A few days ago, it was the BRIT awards. For those who do not know, this is the British Music Industry Awards, which is largely for and about the industry, rather than artistic merit. However, Blur did win the outstanding achievement award, so I guess something went right, even if Kate Bush and PJ Harvey didn’t win awards they should have done. Ah well.

One of Damon Albarn’s other projects apart from Blur (along with writing Chinese Operas, film scores, making records in Africa etc..) is , of course, being part of the brains behind Gorillaz. He has collaborated with James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) and Andre 3000 (of Outkast) on a new track, being given away free, called ‘Do Ya Thing.’ It’s rather fine…

Follow this link to download the track

Meanwhile, Damon and Graham Coxon (who also has his own new solo album A+E out soon) performed this song at a Pre-BRITS gig on Sunday night. It’s called ‘Under the Westway’ and it’s absolutely beautiful.

The return of Willy Mason

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A few years back, when Willy Mason arrived with his debut album Where The Humans Eat, and particularly the single ‘Oxygen‘ got him a lot of positive coverage. New Dylan tags are about as much help now as they were since about, ooh, 1962 onwards, but he rightly attracted a lot of fans.

He’s now back with his third album and he will be supporting Ben Howard on his 19 date UK tour this November, so hopefully this coverage will bring him back into the public eye in the UK.

There’s no release date or tracklisting for the album yet, or even a title, come to that, but this track is pretty awesome. And it engages with you so well, you don’t even realise six minutes have gone by…

Stream the title track here:

…and go to his website to get the mp3

the return of Santigold (part 2)

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I’m seriously looking forward to Santigold’s forthcoming album Master Of My Believe. This track is the ‘official’ first single…

…but as you should hopefully be aware already, Santigold released a new track last month, entitled ‘Big Mouth’:

I’ve yet to find a tracklisting for this album, but these two tracks are seriously whetting my appetite. And they should be doing the same to you, too…

Presenting…This Silent Forest

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This Silent Forest are an excellent Scottish six-piece. They specialise in an epic-sounding indie-cum-folk melancholia -imagine Aereogramme meets Idlewild meets Broken Records.

They are (drum roll, please): Graeme Macdonald (vocals, guitar), Lesley Macdonald (violin, keyboards, vocals), Jamie Daisuke (vocals, guitar), Kevin Smith (bass, magic (er, so it says)), Iain Stewart (Drums, Faces, er, again…)), and Iona Bain (‘Cello, vocals).

They will be out on tour very soon across Scotland:

1st March – Su Casa, Ayr (Acoustic)
7th March – PJ Molloys, Dunfermline
9th March – Hootananny, Inverness
23rd March – Tunnels, Aberdeen (supporting Bwani Junction)*
24th March – The Captains Rest, Glasgow (support from We’re Only Afraid of NYC & Mike Nisbet)

*two excellent acts like this on the same bill. If you miss this gig and you live in Aberdeen, you’re an idiot.

And this is why you should go and check them out:

This is their song ‘Fight.’

This is their previous single ‘Falter Discover’

Their forthcoming single is called ‘Milk’…which you will just have to wait for! (Trust me, it’s worth it…)

EP review – Burial

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Burial -’Kindred EP’ (Hyperdub)

Good God.

There are no doubt those who will see the release of a three-track dubstep EP as being something not to worry their pretty little heads about, as they sit there wondering when guitar music is going to come back into vogue yet again.

Well, more fool them. Because this EP -which I suppose indeed IS a three track dubstep EP – is a phenomenal piece of work. It clocks in at thirty minutes, and it’s one of those releases that is rewarding, yet emotionally draining at the same time. Burial’s third album seems to have been a long time coming but the follow-up to 2007′s Untrue (my favourite album of that year) can take as long as it needs to when the enigmatic producer releases music as incredible as this.

The three tracks herein are smply stunning. Whilst it’s kind of amusing that the Hyperdub website has to put the explanatory ‘The skips and cut outs on the track ‘Ashtray Wasp’ are intentional’ the range of emotions that this music reaches is truly incredible. It manages to be music for the head and heart, and quite possibly the feet as well.

The aural equivalent of someone having their cake, eating it and making trifle out of it as well.

*****

Not ideal but links have been posted on Youtube to the tracks. This will let you stream them – I still implore you to go and buy these if you like what you hear!

Kindred

Loner

Ashtray Wasp

Album Review – Dodgy

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Dodgy -’Stand Upright In A Cool Place’ (Strike Back Records)

Nearly sixteen years since their third album, Free Peace Sweet, Dodgy are back together in their original line-up for their fourth album. It doesn’t pick up where they left off in 1997, when lead singer Nigel Clark left -and it’s all the better for it.

Interviewing drummer Mathew* Priest for this blog, he made it clear that they were older and they are three men in their forties. This album links with the Dodgy sound of yore, but there is no attempt to write another song in the vein of ‘Staying Out For The Summer’ or ‘In A Room.’ What comes to the fore more here is the melancholia that was often there beneath the surface in many of their hits in the 1990s.

Dodgy never sought to push the sonic envelope or repeatedly reinvent themselves – so it’s to their credit and respect that they have managed to convincingly evolve on this album. Comparisons might respectfully be drawn with both Crosby Stills Nash and Young or Fleet Foxes. The three-part harmonies are still here, thankfully, and there are some gorgeous tracks in the form of ‘What Became Of You,’ ‘Shadows’ and the single ‘What Became Of You.’

It may not spawn mega hits, festival singalongs or earn them a third NME front cover (though I could be wrong about all of these). What Dodgy have managed to do is to produce an album that they are rightly proud of, and I hope will capture the attention that it deserves.

****

Stand Upright In A Cool Place is released on Strike Back Records on February 20.

*yes, just one ‘t’