Yup, the modern day answer to Robert Burns – and I mean that most sincerely, folks, Aidan Moffat returns with a new album, entitled How To Get To Heaven From Scotland. First up is this free single download ‘Big Blonde’ which mentions sitting in a garage on woodlands Road, something I’ve done in Glasgow before now. Oh well, there you go…
According to the press bumpf : ‘[the best-ofs] not really a band, so much as “an open-door club where anyone with a talent for something I like the sound of is welcome.” There’s no line-up in any traditional sense and members will come and go according to their availability, but for this album, the band includes Stevie Jones (Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan’s band) and Alun Woodward (ex-Delgados / Lord Cut-Glass). How To Get To Heaven From Scotland was recorded simultaneously with I Can Hear Your Heart, but, says Aidan, “the Best-Ofs one needed longer on the hob.”
Two years back, the 1990s delighted with their debut Cookies. A fiery, fabulous confection of an album, tunes like ‘You Made Me Like It’ and ‘You’re Supposed To Be My Friend’ might have been outsold by the Fratellis, but those who heard them knew this was a band to get excited about. the fact that they had links with the glitterati of Scotland’s indie scene inevitable made them cooler.
Anyway, they’re now just about to release their second album through Rough Trade entitled Kicks on March 23 and they have released this track entitled ‘The Box’ (no, definitely not the Orbital track). This is a cool track, singalong like you’d expect – but also slower than some of the stuff you might expect.
Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern -‘Pram Town.’ (Track and Field)
As I’ve noted before, Darren Hayman is so prolific a songwriter that he makes Mark E. Smith look like the Blue Nile. After a very busy 2008, here comes his long-promised ‘Folk Opera.’ It’s a treat and a half, one of those records that you want to play again and again (I only iPoded my review copy two days ago and according to my iTunes account this is now the fifth time I’ve played it).
Hayman is an Essex man…er, stop stereotyping, and just listen, alright? This is not an album about XR3is or people sneering at them (hello, Morrissey). Rather, it’s a reflection on the post-war new towns, like Pram Town itself, Harlow, from a man, Hayman, who grew up in a nearby town, Brentwood. In his own words, he loves and hates these towns. It deals with two characters who live there.
So is it a concept album? I guess (I just keep thinking of the worst excesses of prog whenever someone uses that phrase, and it’s more than thrity years since punk came to wash it away). Is it a folksy, rootsy album? Again, sort of…not like last year’s bluegrass album, this is a folksy and pastoral album. There’s moments of loveliness that have just a whiff of Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. In terms of its’ reflection on life in England, perhaps it’s reference points might be the Kinks’ Villlage Green Preservation Society, in terms of escape the first three Suede albums, and for on the heart English honesty, The Streets’ Original Pirate Material. Though it sounds like none of those records. Maybe a slight nod to some of the stuff that Richard Thompson and Saint Etienne have produced…damn it, I’m clucthing at straws and similes here.
But it is Hayman firing on all cylinders. Whilst last year’s compilation of his Holiday EPs felt like a compilation of sketches, this is a fully realised beautiful piece of work, and not just the cover which evokes a beauty out of the aesthetic of town planning. This is an album which rates as one of the best I’ve heard this year, and confirms Hayman as a treasure.
Darren Hayman -‘Pram Town
These mp3s are linked to his site. Darren says these are low quality mp3s, but i guess if you like them you’ll go and buy the album, won’t you?
The day job has required lots of marking, which has brought untold stresses with it.
The selling of records continues apace – I found myself trudging around Glasgow today with business partner and a heavy box of 7″s.
But there are now lots of places you can buy the single in Edinburgh and Glasgow with more to come. I even bumped into Matthew from Song, By Toad when I popped into Avalanche in Edinburgh at the end of the day.
There will be exciting reviews, music etc.. to come….I haven’t forgotten my blog and its’ loyal readers, I promise.
I had Ride on in the car over to Glasgow.
They still sound fab…
Ride -‘Chelsea Girl.’
…though this might be my favourite Ride track, and nothing to do with the Smashing Pumpkins song of the same name…
I was given a copy of this a few months ago by Ken MacIntosh, Aberfeldy bass player and a personal friend who features on this record. This started out as a project involving two friends, Andrew McKay (banjo and vocals) and and Jack Richold (violin and vocals). They bought in Ken, Scots folk legend Kris Drever and Iain Stoddart (one time drummer for Aberfeldy and Win). It wowed me then; it blows me away now.
Considering that this release is six tracks and twenty minutes long, it’s pretty damn near perfect. Between them, they don’t put a foot wrong. It’s simply a beuatiful, gorgeous release, that has great songs and sweet bluegrass.
120 words isn’t enough…so all I can say is: go and check out this little gem. The last time a release this short moved me so much was Love the Cup by Sons & Daughters. Yes, it’ s that good.
Somewhere over the last few days, I notched up more than 750 posts. Which is quite impressive considering just how close this blog came to getting knocked on the head a few months back.
But seriously, I’m glad I didn’t, because there are so many bands out there that I want to write about, and one of them is the Gillyflowers.
Fronted by Kirsten Adamson, they are an Edinburgh-based band who seem to have emerged fully formed. They consist of : Kirsten ‘The Boss’ Adamson on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Phil ‘ Fastest fingers in the East ‘ Hopwood on Lead Guitar, Kelso ‘ The cigarrette machine ‘ on Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals, Arron ‘ The muncher ‘ on Drums and Jenni ‘ The voice double ‘ Hopwood on Backing Vocals.
They have been working with Riley Briggs from Aberfeldy on songs which he handed to me on a CD-R a couple of days before their Christmas gigs and told me I needed to hear them. He was not wrong. A few days later I saw them support Aberfeldy at their Edinburgh show and was blown away. Surely it cannot be long before a record label snaps them up. See them while you can still see the whites of their eyes. If your heart doesn’t melt, ask your doctor for a transplant. Actually, no, ask for an electric shock. then go back and listen to the Gillyflowers.
I think you will be impressed by what you hear. Check out their myspace and make friends with them. Tell ’em I sent you…
OK, I have written about Bricolage before on here, but with their debut album out next month, now is the time to big them up again.
As I noted yesterday, there is no sound more 2009 than the sound of 1982. Bricolage have been compared to the sound of Postcard records in 1982, and the spirit of that is all over the four singles they have released so far. They will be releasing their self-titled debut on Slumberland in February.
There is something that affirms your faith in human nature and in music hearing these songs. And in these dark times, that’s exactly what we need.
Download the free mp3 at the bottom of this post, go and buy their other singles (try eMusic and iTunes) and get ready for the album which will be out next month. I’m going to run off down the road bouncing to them on my iPod. It may be January, but I feel like Spring isn’t far away when I hear Bricolage.
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart -‘The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’ (Fortuna Pop!)
So…it here it comes, one of the anticipated releases on the indie underground. After an EP and a handful of singles over the course of more than a year, the debut LP from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, How does it measure up?
The first thing to say is that this album is a wonderful mix of contrasts that, somehow, come together rather wonderfully. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s part of an ‘alternative’ pop trajectory that begins with the Velvet Underground’s first album and continues through seminal debuts by The Pastels, The Wedding Present and the Jesus and Mary Chain, on through Nirvana and then Belle and Sebastian. Yet it also sounds as fresh as a daisy, as oppposed to tired ‘heard it all before riffs and beats.’ And if you thought after last single ‘Everything With You’ that it was My Bloody Valentine guitars all the way, then ‘A Teenager in Love’ has echoes of eighties synthpop, and as we all know by now, there ain’t no sound more 2009 than 1982.
The band hail from New York City but this is an album that feels like it’s spiritual home is Glasgow. Does this not compute at all? Well, there are few albums that evoke New York more than Lou Reed’s Transformer and that was recorded in London. It just sums it all up the contrasts…yet what cannot be disputed is that this is an album that you cannot fail to fall in love with. There’s guitar fuzz, drums that echo Bobby Gillespie and Mo Tucker and vocals that remind you of summer days and feeling like anything is possible.
Finally, it remains inevitable that it will be loved across the blogosphere, the hip record shops and the indier-than-thou fanzines – but wouldn’t it be great if it became the commercial breakthorugh that it deserves to be.
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart will be released on February 3 through Fortuna Pop.