Album Review – Dominic Waxing Lyrical

Dominic Waxing Lyrical -‘Rural Tonic.’ (Tenement Records)

There’s something quite refreshing about the songwriting of Dominic Harris. In as much as anything, it’s the way he thinks and writes out of the box. In a musical world with too many indentikit pop stars,and landfill indie failing to offer the alternative it thinks it does, this is much needed. Following on from 2015’s rather fine Woodland Casual album, here he delivers another collection of off-kilter, quirky but really rather wonderful songs from the Edinburgh man.

It’s a manic – yet an extremely literate album. It’s perhaps a gamble starting the album with ‘King’ – perhaps the most impenetrable song on the album, with its descending chromatic scales played glissando and frankly bonkers lyrics, of which ‘cross my arse with silver! Crown my cock with pearls!’ (sic) are the easiest to understand. Yet while repeated plays over several months haven’t quite revealed what the hell he’s going on about, it does seem to make sense (well, sort of) within the context of the album.

While many singer-songwriters will have a backing band of some description, what adds to the different flavour of this album is that there are, essentially, two. There’s Mr. McFall’s Chamber – who do much of the orchestral parts, and 17 Seconds favourites Aberfeldy. So the former bring alive the likes of ‘King’ and ‘Laika’; the melodic genius of the latter work their magic on tracks like ‘Susan Sontag’ and ‘River Styx.’

The long-defunct Melody Maker magazine described him as ‘DIY-baroque-folk’ which remains spectacularly accurate. A tonic for the troops, then? Indeed, and the rest of us.

****

Rural Tonic is out now on Tenement Records

 

 

Album Review – Dominic Waxing Lyrical

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Dominic Waxing Lyrical -‘Woodland Casual.’ (Tenement)

The return of Dominic Harris has been a longtime coming. It’s been nearly eighteen years since the Edinburgh artist released his debut, self-titled album (now going for quite a lot of money on discogs). Those gigs in the past reportedly included blood, nudity, police raids and ‘shoddy transvestisism’ amongst other things.

This album is more band-orientated, and sees him joined by labelmates Riley and Murray Briggs of Aberfeldy and George McFall of Clean George IV (now trading as CGIV); at live gigs Aberfeldy bassist Ken McIntosh has joined the lineup. The album launch a few months ago indicated that this sophomore album from the man once described as punk Jake Thackeray was special, now it gets a full release and it most definitely is.

Quirky and deliciously dark, the album features songs in Waltz-time that suggest Tim Burton shuld look no fruther for the man to write the soundtrack to his next film. With song titled including ‘Scarecrow’ ‘End of the world’ and ‘Hell On Earth’ you know this is no set of demos for the next One Direction album, but rather that of a master maverick songwriter at work. My personal favourite is the sinister waltz that is ‘Janitor’ – but amongst the other highlights are ‘Thursday (Searching)’ and ‘Nightwatchman.’

A gorgeously, dark cult treat.

****

Woodland Casual is released on February 2 by Tenement.

Christmas Posts 2012 #15

aberfeldy-logo

A few years back, I got a fair amount of abuse from regular readers for posting ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’ by Chris de Burgh on the blog. Fair enough if I had posted ‘The Lady In Red’ but no, people were not amused.

This I have posted before, but I love it and I will share it again. It’s Riley Briggs and Aberfeldy covering the song at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh, around 2008.

And if I still can’t find a stream of this, here’s a video of them covering ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ as made famous by Shaklin’ Stevens, at the Liquid Rooms in 2010.

Still think this would be an awesome AA-single…

Christmas Posts 2011 #25

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Never mind trying to post more new stuff this year, this was recorded in the last week!

A beautiful rendition of the Christmas carol, this also comes with extra information – such as the origin of the carol, what those three ships were, and how exactly sailing into Bethlehem may be a bit of poetic licence… Matt Norris play the Hogmanay celebrations on December 31, on the same stage as Primal Scream, Bombay Bicycle Club and Sons & Daughters.

I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In) by Matt Norris & the Moon

Meanwhile, although this stream is credited to Riley Briggs, this comes from a gig he and the other Aberfeldy members played at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh. This was around the time that 17 Seconds Records had issued their single ‘Claire.’ This is a cover of the Chris de Burgh Christmas perennial. It would be great to hear the version of ‘Merry Xmas Everyone’ (yes, the Shakin’ Stevens one) that they performed at the Voodoo Rooms last Christmas.

A spaceman came travelling by Riley Briggs

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

New Aberfeldy video

This arrived in my inbox in the last twenty-four hours…the fantastic video for Aberfeldy’s forthcoming single ‘Somewhere To Jump From.’

It’s the title track from their new album, which is very good indeed. See what you think…

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.

The very welcome return of Aberfeldy!

aberfeldy-tour-2010

Yes indeed!

Four years since their second album Do Whatever Turns You On, and nearly two years since they Christened 17 Seconds Records with the ‘Claire’ single, Aberfeldy return with their third album on August 23 on their own Tenement Records and a whole host of Scottish tour dates.

The album is entitled Somewhere To Jump From and the tracklisting is as follows:

Claire
Somewhere To Jump From
Malcolm
Mean Ol’ Misery
If I Were A Joiner
Turn the Record Over
In Denial
Lisa-marie
Talk Me Round
Wendy
Play The Music Loud
California, West Lothian
Credits

‘If I Were A Joiner’ and ‘Turn The Record Over’ can be heard streaming at Aberfeldy’s myspace. And yes, ‘Claire’ and ‘Talk me Round’ are the songs that we put out as 17 Seconds Records but these are new, different versions.

Good to have you back, guys!

17 Seconds Records’ update

limbo_a6zoey_color

Lots happening over the next couple of months with the label…

Over the next week alone, we have Chris Bradley doing a live session for Leith FM on Friday at 3PM (as it happens just three days after labelmates The Last Battle played!) and Chris will also be doing an instore at Avalanche Glasgow on April 7 at 5PM. Chris’ album At the Outpost came out on Monday and has some great praise, and is available online and at good indie shops, including Rough Trade, Avalanche, Coda, Underground Solush’n and now Fopp too! If you like things digital, try iTunes or eMusic. Please leave feedback!

The Dirty Cuts are back in the studio and over the next wee while they will be playing in Glasgow, London and Edinburgh – check their myspace for details. Their follow-up to debut single ‘2 Page Spread’ should be out very soon. As ever watch this space and hassle yr local station/indie club/blogger about them.

The next release from the label will be the ‘One EP’ by the Factory Kids. This will be available as a five-track download EP from all good download stores from April 12, and this is 17SEC18, our fourteenth musical release as a label. In the name of promotion and friendship (umm, or something) we’d like to offer ‘Factory Crease’ as a free download:

Factory Kids -‘Holiday Crease.’ mp3

Aberfeldy, Escape Act and The Wildhouse have all been getting studio tans (!), and both The Last Battle and David Scott albums should be out over the next few months. There will also be more stuff to come from X-Lion Tamer very soon…

If you read the post below you will see that we’re very involved with Tigerfest this year, with X-Lion Tamer, Chris Bradley, The Dirty Cuts, the Wildhouse and The Last Battle making appearances.

And before the month is out, a very special night at Limbo in Edinburgh. See the poster at the top!

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