Gig Review: Broken Records/Jesus H. Foxx/Withered Hand

broken-records

Broken Records/Jesus H.Foxx/Withered Hand

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh December 9, 2009

The last time I saw Broken Records at Cabaret Voltaire was August 2007. It was the first time I had encountered them, and they were there as the support act to Emma Pollock, then just about to release her debut solo album Watch The Fireworks. At first we gasped at how they could possibly manage to fit seven people on what is a tiny stage. Then we were blown away by the sound of a band later described by one monthly magazine (clue: it rhymes with ‘Poo’) as ‘what Nirvana would have sounded like if they’d formed in Belarus instead of Seattle. There are bands that have come along subsequently that have tried to persue similar terrain – check out the recent solo album by Wojtek Godzisz- but BR are perusing their own way through their musical life.

And the thing is, Broken Records have now got people from far and wide focusing on Edinburgh and realising that it has much to offer muscially as a city. Sure, history has seen Edinburgh giving the world Aberfeldy, Idlewild, the Fire Engines etc.. but Edinburgh now has a myriad of bands of many different styles kicking a serious amount of arse.*

And two of these bands are here in support tonight. To my shame, it’s the first time I have seen either of them, but it sure as heck will not be the last. First on are Withered Hand. Dan and assorted friends saw the release of their debut LP Good News this year on SL Records. Having released two EPS and the aforementioned album, it is clear that Dan has got into his stride and has written some amazing songs. ‘No Cigarettes’ ‘Religious Songs’ and special new Christmas song ‘It’s A Wonderful Lie’ (see link at the bottom) are fine, worthy additions to the scottish songbook of the decade.

Jesus H. Foxx are normally a seven piece, with two drummers. Tonight there’s just (ha!) the six of them. Their fine set open with ‘I’m Half The Man You Were’ from their fine EP Matter, released on Song, By Toad Records. Matthew from that fine blog and label joins Mrs. 17 Seconds and I and it’s clear he feels they’ve made a whole heap of progress since he first saw them. B-side to first 7″ ‘Tightt Ideas’ (sic) ‘This Is Not A Rental Car sounds particularly fine live, and they finish with ‘O Messy Life.’ Next year should see the release of their debut album. Put me down for a copy, folks.

By the time Broken Records come on, the place is heaving, and I suspect Cab Volt, as it’s known locally, could well have been sold out many times over. They open with ‘Nearly Home’ and it feels like the sound of heroes returning home. By the time they are onto their third song ‘If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This’ I’m almost as sweaty as Jamie is on stage, and rueing that I want to dance like a Cosack and there’s just no bloody space. ‘Wolves’ is fantastically intense. They finish with early single and album closer ‘Slow Parade’ and I’m reminded not only that this is many people’s album of the year but just how amazing a live band Broken Records are. They work in different environments and adjust accordingly -this is a totally different vibe to their gig earlier this year at the Queen’s Hall.

Except…it’s not quite the end. Tallah from Jesus H.Foxx comes on to join the band for an endearingly shambolic run-through the festive fave ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and even with the two of them reading the lyrics off sheets, nothing removes the magic. They finish, and the crowd patiently makes its’ way up to street level to the sound of Tom Waits’ ‘Christmas Card from A Hooker In Minneapolis.’

Broken Records said that this will be their last gig for a while as they intend to work on their sophomore album, due for release in September next year. Take as long as it takes, guys. We’ll wait.

Withered hand -‘It’s A Wonderful Lie.’ mp3

Jesus H. Foxx -‘I’m Half The Man You Were.’ mp3

Broken Records -‘If The News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It.’ mp3

*Meursault, X-Lion Tamer, Chris Bradley, eagleowl, Blueflint, Lord Rochester…

Album Review: Broken Records

broken-records

Broken Records -‘Until The Earth Begins To Part’ (4AD)

This debut album has certainly been anticipated for quite a while. In fact, as the band’s profile in Scotland has grown, it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that this is the most anticipated debut by a scottish act since Glasvegas. I first saw them supporting Emma Pollock as long ago as August 2007, and subsequently saw them supporting both Idlewild and Sons & Daughters. As well as being supported by this blog, Song, By Toad has also championed them for a long time; indeed, they were the first band to do a session for him.

Over the course of 2008, the band released three limited 7″ singles (still a handful of these available at Avalanche Records in Edinburgh if you act very quickly). In 2009, 4AD records announced one of the biggest coups of their thirty year existence, that they had signed Broken Records, along with The Big Pink and Camera Obscura.

With this anticipation, there’s always the horrible possibility that things could go horribly wrong. But the seven piece from Edinburgh are quietly very self-assured and have delivered a debut that is every bit as good as we could have hoped for and more. As I type this, I’m listening to it for the fourth time since the album dropped on the doromat yesterday. It’s one of those albums that stands up to repeated playing in a very short space of time.

Trying to pigeonhole Broken Records is a waste of time, when what you should be doing is just listening to them. With seven of them they can produce music to make you dance, or music to make you cry. They have, bizarrely, been compared to how Nirvana might have sounded if they’d been formed in belarus instead of Seattle. This is way off the mark. Over the course of ten songs, all stand alone, and all making up a piece of this body of work, consistently sound like few acts I’ve ever heard.

Certainly the use of violin and ‘cello makes for aspects of what are still lazily called ‘folk’ and (shudder) ‘world’ in 2009, but the passion is raw and honest enough for punk. So don’t waste your time trying to work out what it fits under, instead, enjoy what is some of the most exciting and energising MUSIC to come your way for many a year.

Without a doubt, a very strong contender for album of the year.

*****

Broken Records website/ Broken Records myspace

Broken Records -‘If Eilert Loevberg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This.’ mp3

Happy New Year

Hello all,

hope you had a good New Year’s Eve – I had a good one, but even though I don’t drink anymore I still feel exhausted. Ah well…

So what’s up for 2009? Musically, I’m predicting that guitar rock will take a back seat to more electronic sounds. At least, I am worn out with over-produced indie by numbers. It’s not big and it’s getting less and less clever.

As for what the blog offers, expect the usual mix of the painfully obscure and the wildly obvious, bizarre covers, videos, interviews, tips on up and coming bands, occasional updates on the progress of 17 Seconds Records and much more. Including my attempts to try and get to grips with the music that’s out there and succeeding to a limited extent.

I nearly meant it when I was going to call it a day back in December, fed up with the DMCA and their taking down of posts. However, I eventually came round to it, and will be moving this blog elsewhere very soon. Keep it tuned to 17 Seconds!

17 Seconds Records is in discussion with a couple of other bands we are trying to sign, we are also hoping to do another single with Aberfeldy, and will be issuing a download only single by the second act to sign to our label, Ex Lion Tamer called ‘Neon Hearts.’ If you haven’t downloaded the free ‘Christmas’ single ‘Life Support Machine’ here is another chance:

Ex Lion Tamer – ‘Life Support Machine.’ mp3

We are also hoping to finally have the 7″ vinyl for the Aberfeldy single which we have been waiting for from the pressing plant for ages…

And who will be the big acts of the next few months?

Florence and the Machine for certain…these are the two singles they released last year:

Florence and the Machine -‘Kiss With A Fist.’


Florence and the Machine -‘Kiss With A Fist.’ mp3

Florence and the Machine -‘Dog Days Are Over.’

Their singles have also included covers of Cold War Kids ‘Hospital Beds’ and Candi Staton’s ‘You’ve Got the Love’. If you like these tracks, please go and buy them!
Florence and the Machine -‘Dog Days are Over.’ mp3

Meanwhile, Broken Records‘ profile continues to rise. If this isn’t the year they rise to higher prominence then there really is no justice…

Broken Records -‘Slow Parade

Broken Records -‘Slow Parade.’ mp3

Broken Records -‘Lies.’

Broken Records -‘Lies.’ mp3

Meanwhile, speaking of great electronic stuff…Ladyhawke‘s self-titled debut will almost certainly dominate in 2009…or I give up. This lady, Pip Brown, is set to become one of New Zealand’s biggest pop acts ever.

Ladyhawke – ‘Paris is burning.’

Ladyhawke -‘Paris Is Burning.’ mp3

Like that? you’ll love this…

Ladyhawke -‘My Delirium.’


Ladyhawke -‘My Delirium.’ mp3

AS EVER, IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU HEAR, PLEASE SUPPORT THE ARTISTS. BUY THE MUSIC – ALL THESE TRACKS CAN BE FOUND ON EMUSIC AND ITUNES IF YOUR LOCAL RECORD SHOP DOES NOT HAVE THEM. THESE TRACKS ARE NOT HERE IN PLACE OF YOU BUYING THE MUSIC, THEY ARE HERE TO PROMOTE THE ARTISTS.

Gig review: Sons and Daughters/Black Kids/Broken Records

Gig review: Sons and Daughters/Black Kids/Broken Records

Edinburgh Queens’ Hall, February 16, 2008

My first gig of the year. Headlined by my favourite scottish act of the last few years, supported by one of my favourite bands to emerge on the web and opened by one of the best local bands. So good in theory as to be only possible to be let down in practice?

Well, fortunately for me, it was a fantastic night out with three great bands that I cannot wait to see again. Broken Records -soon to do a session for Radio 1’s Huw Stephens -opened. this was the third time I had seen them, and was yet again blown away. I am mystified as to how they are not signed, as I spent most of January saying on here. They simply go from strength to strength and songs like ‘if the news makes you sad, don;t watch it’ just grab you more evry time you hear them. Sooner or later, they will headline this place.

Florida’s Black Kids are due to release their first physical single ‘I’m Not going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’ in April, (it made my Festive Fifty of 2007) and having been supporting Sons & Daughters are now off on tour supporting Kate Nash. How do they measure up to the hype? Pretty damn well, actually. I had heard much of their stuff on mp3s, but live they move to a whole new level. It’s clear they’ve been listening to prime period prince and then run with the ideas they’ve had. They look cool as anything whihc helps too. Songs like ‘Listen To Your Body Tonight’ and ‘IUnderestimated My Charm Again’ are just even better live. Believe the hype, because they get even the traditionally staid edinburgh audience moving, and make me wonder how Sons & Daughters can top it.

This was the eighth time I had seen Sons and Daughters. Whilst my top performance of theirs had to be when they opened for Morrissey in Aberdeen in 2006, they still have it, and have just grown so much in confidence and stature since I saw them as third on the bill four and a half years ago. New album This Gift has seen them work with Bernard Butler and without compromising their sound or distinctiveness has helped take them to newer ground. As recent single ‘Darling’ illustrates, there is a ‘glam’ hint coming through previously only hinted at. Yet the crowd still call for old songs like Johnny Cash as well, but it’s clear that the band are moving and progressing onward. Three bands I would pay a tenner for to see on their own, never mind altogether!

Sons and Daughters – ‘Johnny Cash.’ mp3

Sons and Daughters -‘Dance Me In.’ mp3

Sons and Daughters’ MySpace is here

Black Kids’ MySpace is here

Broken Records’ Myspace is here

Gig review: Idlewild/Twilight Sad/Broken Records

Gig review: Idlewild/Twilight Sad/Broken Records

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, November 3, 2007

Great scottish acts I have seen on the bill together: Franz Ferdinand, Dogs Die In Hot Cars and Sons & Daughters at York Fibbers in October 2003. Fire Engines, Sons & Daughters and Aberfeldy at Edinburgh Liquid Rooms in December 2004. Aberfeldy, King Creosote and My Latest Novel at Edinburgh St. Bride’s Centre in April 2005…amongst many…and now this.

My first reaction, when Mrs. 17 Seconds and I arrive at Edinburgh’s Queen Hall, is ‘does no-one tell me anything? I knew that the Twilight Sad were supporting (hotly-tipped, mentioned on this blog, but as yet, unseen by me) but Broken Records, last seen supporting Emma Pollock at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire are here too? Just as well I rushed my long-suffering wife out of the house in time for the doors to open.

Seven piece Broken Records modestly describe themselves as ‘just a local, edinburgh band’ (just?! what do they think idlewild are, then?) but if they aren’t signed soon then something is wrong with this picture. Songs like ‘If the News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It’ and set closer ‘Slow Parade’ are songs that need to be heard. They take the passion of the Waterboys, and by mixing drones and good knows what else into it, make folk music for the 21st century. Despite seeming a little shy after their set when I approach them, this is serious music alchemy at work here. They are happy for me to post their songs on here and Mrs. 17 Seconds is already saying she wants to see them again. So do I. the singer’s voice is comparable to Jeff Buckley, not just in tone and quality, but in range, too. They deservedly win the audience over by the end of their all-too-brief set.

Glasgow’s Twilight Sad have set ears, minds and pulses racing with their debut album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters. This album should do well in the end of year polls, and not just in Scotland either. Live they make a glorious wave of noise to lose yourself in, and if titles like second song ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy’ might seem unwieldy on paper, they are a joy live and I am not disappointed. looking at my notes, I appear to have put down the comment ‘like mogwai, if singing were involved.’ * Joined by Alan and Rod from idlewild for the last couple of songs, the coverage that has been awarded them is deserved, and should continue to grow.

It’s now over ten years since I picked up Idlewild’s debut single ‘Queen Of the Troubled Teens.’ Now going for a fortune on 7″ (well, about £50/$100) the band have developed and grown over the years, even with a few line-up changes along the way. By the time they go into ‘You Held The World In Your Arms’ -as their second song-the crowd is going mental. Mrs. 17 Seconds has long held the gig that I took her to for her birthday in 2005 as one of her favourites (supported by Sons & Daughters and Foxface -another great scottish lineup. This is closely followed by ‘When I Argue I See Shapes’ and ‘No Emotion’ from their most recent album, Make Another World. This might not have been the commercial success that The Remote Part was, but this is no reflection on Idlewild themselves. And as Roddy notes, ‘It sold a lot of copies in Edinburgh.’ ‘Course it did, boys, we still see you as one of ours.

Although this is Idlewild’s greatest hits tour, it should be no surprise to anyone just how many hits they have had over the last ten years, which also took them onto TOTP (how long til that returns?). ‘Little discourage’ (still my favourite)’American English’ ‘Love Speeds Us From Loneliness’ ‘I am a message’ ‘Everyone Thinks That You’re So Fragile.’ all of them still magical. They bring on close friend of the band Gavin Fox for vocals on ‘El Capitan.’

Alas, this song is not completed as the venue is evacuated due to a fire alarm. all credit to Idlewild, though; as soon as the fire brigade have given the all-clear, they’re back on stage, and the magic means that the pace is not spoiled at all and the magic is recaptured (apart from the two ______s who then sat next to Mrs. 17 Seconds and talked throughout the rest of the gig. Guys, that’s what the pub’s for). ‘Roseability’ and ‘A Modern Way Of Letting Go’ remind us just how diverse the singles were in musical styles, not just the albums. They don’t go off for the encore, but stay on, playing ‘Quee Of the Troubled Teens’ (the only time I’ve ever heard them do it), bringing the Twilight Sad back for a gloriously ramshackle version of The ramones’ ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ and finish with ‘The Remote Part.’Even without Edwyn Morgan’s lines, this still gives you a shiver just thinking about it.

So another classic scots indie night out. A band still at the height of their creative powers, with two great acts following in their wake supporting. I was there, were you?

Idlewild -‘No Emotion.’ mp3 (from Make Another World, 2007) (via Yousendit)

Idlewild -‘El Capitan.’ mp3 (from Warnings/Promises, 2005) (Via Yousendit)

Idlewild -‘Satan Polaroid.’ mp3 (from Captain, mini-album, 1998) (Via Yousendit)

Idlewild’s official site is here

* yes, I am aware that there are human voices on Mogwai songs like ‘Dial:Revenge’ and ‘A Cheery Wave To Stranded Youngsters.’ You are very clever. Well done. They are largely instrumental, aren’t they, though? yes??

A sort of promo…

(More idlewild coming this way very soon i promise...)

I am still about to post my review of idlewild in Edinburgh the other night, which was great, but life has been kinda insanely busy here (just for a change).

Anyway, they had two fantastic support acts, so in anticipation of my review, a sampling of them both: The Twilight Sad and Broken Records.

Some excellent mp3s

Twilight Sad

Twilight Sad -‘Walking For Two Hours.’ mp3 (via Yousendit)

Twilight Sad -‘And She Would Darken The Memory.’ mp3 (via Yousendit)

Twilight Sad -‘That Summer At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy.’ mp3 (Via Yousendit)

Broken Records

Broken Records -‘Kathy.’ mp3 (via Yousendit)

Broken Records -‘Out On The Water.’ mp3 (Via Yousendit)

Broken Records -‘The Russian Song.’ mp3 (Via Yousendit)

And…I also interviewed Riley Briggs from Aberfeldy yesterday, who played me half a dozen new songs and told me what the band are up to, so watch this space…

Gig review: Emma Pollock/Broken Records

Gig Review: Emma Pollock/Broken Records

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, August 10, 2007

This was Emma Pollock’s second visit to Cabaret Voltaire in three months (read my review of the previous gig here. This time the venue seemed a little fuller and she seemed just as relaxed and assured as before.

Last time, she had been supported by the wonderful Katie Sutherland and Popup; this time she was supported by Edinburgh seven-piece Broken Records (OK, the cellist is from Germany). Broken Records could be described as being folk-rock, in the sense of folk meaning ‘music of the people’ and involving instruments like the violin and mandolin, rather than any ‘hey nonny nonny no!’ with people sticking fingers in their ears. They recently appeared at T in the Park on the T-Break stage, and look set to build upon this. Despite their singer’s nerves (he really doesn’t have to worry), they sound accomplished, which gigging is clearly adding to. They are unsigned and as yet, unmanaged, but if there is any justice in the world, this shouldn’t remain the case for long. They remind me of the Waterboys circa ‘A Pagan Place’ and my mate Mark reckons the singer reminds him of Lloyd Cole. The potential to be another Jeff Buckley is clearly there too. ‘If the news makes you sad, don’t watch it’ should be a single.

The last time I saw Emma Pollock, she seemed to have thrown off any ghosts that might have lingered from her previous band. She is even more confident than before, but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She has a great sense of banter with the audience, able to laugh and enjoy herself. As I mentioed last time, she deserves to be seen as being up there with not just the other famous front women of new label 4AD (Kim, Tanya and Kirstin), but also British mould breakers like PJ Harvey. ‘Adrenaline’ produces just that, the keyboard riff that should be as familiar as anything else you’ll hear on the radio by the end of the year. B-side ‘A Glorious Day’ delights live as well. ‘Limbs’ the free mp3 that has been doing the rounds for several months remains just her and her guitar, with the keyboard player, and gets lovelier with each listen. New single ‘Acid Test’ is more guitar driven than ‘Adrenaline,’ and also deserves to be high up there on end of year lists.

She encores with ‘The Optimist’ and once again, I go out into the night, my heart warmed, friends beside me converted, and waiting for her debut, Watch the Fireworks. The queen of the Scottish indie scene, who acts like one of the people.

Emma’s myspace site is here and here website is here.

Broken Records’ Myspace site is here, including 4 mp3s that can be downloaded. Go along and say hi to them all.

Emma Pollock -‘Limbs.’ mp3