Album Review – The Unwinding Hours


The Unwinding Hours -‘The Unwinding Hours (Chemikal Underground).’

Fifteen years into their existence, Glasgow’s Chemikal Underground label continue to put out music that makes you realise just how essential they are to the development of music in Scotland and further afield. It may even make sense to speak of there beinga ‘Chemikal Underground aesthetic’ and the latest release from The Unwinding Hours is a welcome addition to a fine catalogue that includes some of the greatest albums of the last fifteen years, period.

That’s not to say that the debut from the Unwinding Hours is going over old ground. Far from it. As has been documented over the last month, The Unwinding Hours is a project from Iain Cook and Craig B of the much-missed Aereogramme. Nut to dismiss this simply as Arereogramme part 2 would be to miss the point. The Unwinding Hours are a great act in their own right, and the whispers about how good this album is are getting louder and louder.

It starts off with the fantastic ‘Knut’ which has beeen doing the rounds as a free download for sometime now. The greatest track of the year so far, it is indicative of how strong the album is, but is far from being followed by a succession of songs that sound exactly like it. ‘Tightrope’ is gently anthemic and ‘Solstice’ has hints of electronica. Yet still the power of the full-on from a whisper to a scream crescendoes makes its’ presence felt, as does the beautiful sadness that hangs over

Perhaps what makes this album so special is that rather than being conceived as a result of a few jams or hastily written songs, it had a slow and gentle gestation period. Bizarrely, when Craig started writing the songs he wasn’t even expecting a commercial release. Now there are tentative plans for a second album.

On the evidence of this, yes please, and in your own time, guys. If this isn’t a frequent appearance on the end of year best-of lists, then people have no ears.

The Unwinding Hours -‘Knut.’ mp3

The Unwinding Hours is out now on CD and download on Chemikal Underground. The vinyl will be available from March 15.

The Unwinding Hours’ website/The Unwinding Hours myspace

Thank crunchie it’s Friday


…does there have to be a reason? Just fancied posting some great covers, frankly.

New Age Steppers -‘Fade Away (Junior Byles cover).’ mp3

Schneider TM -‘The Light 3000 (The Smiths cover).’ mp3

Teenage Fanclub -‘Nothing To be Done (Pastels cover).’ mp3

X-Lion Tamer -‘Starsign (Teenage Fanclub cover).’ mp3

Biffy Clyro-‘Umbrella (Rihanna cover).’ mp3

Cud -‘You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover).’ mp3

Voxtrot -‘Love Vigilantes (New Order cover).’mp3

Kaiser Chiefs -‘Golden Skans (Klaxons cover).’ mp3

The Streets -‘Your Song (Elton John cover).’ mp3

My Bloody Valentine -‘We Have All The Time In the World (Louis Armstrong cover).’ mp3



The return of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club


Back in 2002, on the NME Bratbus tour in Glasgow, I saw Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They performed a set so intensive and brilliant that I was moved to decide I was going to burn my entire music collection when I got home to Edinburgh. I sobered up over the course of the train journey home, but they blew me away and had I been writing this blog then, their debut would have topped the album chart that year.

Since then…well, I never loved the successive albums as much as the first but there were unquestionably moments of genius along the way. The main thing about BRMC was seeing them live (apart from the time they and Interpol supported U2. It was wrong watching both of those bands a) in a stadium, b) in daylight and c) not headlining).

Anyway, they are back to kick a serious amount of arse if this track is anything to go by, taken from their new album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -‘Conscience Killer.’ mp3

Album Review – Ruth Theodore


Ruth Theodore -‘White Holes Of Mole Hills.’ (River Rat Records)

The follow-up to her critically acclaimed album Worm Food, this demonstrates that Ruth Theodore is unquestionably a talented performer and someone who is certainly determined to challenge perceptions of what a female folk-singer might be like. This album has some fantastic arrangements on it and a delivery that gives the impression that on a stage she is absolutely spellbinding. The guitar playing is pretty powerful, too.

So far, so good. The problem is that while she exudes passion and charisma from every pore in her performance, this doesn’t really translate to the first part of the record, and I must confess to having had to listen to this album in chunks rather than being able to take it all in one sitting. It is, at times, a little too clever for its’ own good. In trying to play with the idea of conventional songwriting – no bad thing in itself, and a fairly laudable aim – it can make it a little hard to approach this as an album. Mercifully short on the histrionics that let down many singer-songwriters (we feel your pain – literally -IN OUR EARS), it’s so impassioned and dreamy that there are times this record could make the most twee of twee-pop kids want to grate kittens.

There are many performers who tread the very thin line between kooky and creative. Thing is, for my money, I love Kate Bush and Bjork, and have a lot of time for the likes of Joanna Newsom and Tori Amos. And depressingly, the song that appeals the most is that comapartively stripped down ‘The Evolution Of Mr. Charisma.’

I don’t dispute that Ms. Theodore is clearly a talented, gifted and original performer. But in terms of making a studio album to listen to at home, car on the iPod etc.., this falls short of the mark.


Ruth Theodore’s myspace

Album Review – Efterklang


Efterklang -‘Magic Chairs.’ (4AD)

This is the Danish band’s third album, and their first for their new label, 4AD. This is a beautiful album that is at once epic and yet subtle, epic without the bombast, if you like. Right from the opening track ‘Modern Drift’ the scene is set: simple and effective pop melodies that are joyous yet with an underlying current of sadness underneath.

Like many of the best albums, this is an album that begs for repeated playing. This is not because it’s hard to get into – on the contrary – but because the subtlety of the musical layers means that each successive play reveals something previously unheard. Thomas Husmer’s trumpet playing is a delight yet it’s so gently mixed in that it gently eases a song such as ‘Alike’ into being, rather than birthing it kicking and screaming.

Rather like fellow Danes Mew, Efterklang appear to be playing a genre of music that we might almost be tempted to call post-rock pop, if it wasn’t for the fact that the concept sounds so much like citrus mixed with dairy. But it’s the inventiveness of post-rock – a fairly anti-single type of music mixed with the structure of a good classic pop song -and few musics are as single friendly as pop music. Fans of Broken Records (now labelmates of Efterklang) may find much to enjoy here as well, in terms of music that is orchestral, yet a thousand miles away from the syrupy MOR that usually implies.

Oh, sod it, it’s a bloody great album. Just make sure you hear it!


Efterklang -‘Modern Drift.’ mp3

Efterklang’s website/Efterklang’s myspace

The Wildhouse album (re-)releases!


Yup, the Wildhouse re-release their debut and sophomore albums through 17 Seconds Records today. Hyenas and Poet:Saint are now available through iTunes, eMusic and all good download stores.

This marks the first album releases on the label, as well as releases no.10 and no.11, so it is a significant point for us.

Check out these free samples and go and buy the albums!

The Wildhouse -‘Hope Is How You Control Me.’ mp3

The Wildhouse -‘Coffin Factory.’ mp3

The Wildhouse’s myspace

A round up of some great new Scottish music


Just as it says on the tin, folks. The fact that I’m doing this together should not be taken as me trying to do the bands concerned down by featuring them together, but rather that I’m trying to spread the word.

X-Lion Tamer you almost certainly know by now. He did a session for Vic Galloway on Radio One the other night, including three of his own songs and a cover of ‘Starsign’ by Teenage Fanclub. Like all the best acts, the three songs of his own that Tony plays ‘I Sais Stop’ ‘Neon Hearts’ and ‘Life Support Machine’ are hugely diffreent to what they sound like on his EP. Peenko Blog are hosting it here:

X-Lion Tamer on Peenko blog

I’ve featured Mitchell Museum on here before. They are soon to release their debut album The Peters Port Memorial Service and are giving away some older stuff for free, six tracks in all, via their Bandcamp page. This six track EP is called ‘We Lost First Prize.’

Go here!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned Annie Stevenson, who have now made their demo available to download for free from their Last FM page. Four tracks in all, and very good it is too!

Annie Stevenson’s Last FM page

Galleries were also played on Vic Galloway the other night, and if you haven’t downloaded their free EP shame on you!

Go here

Oliver Stays are a new band formed from the ashes of Jocasta Sleeps, Drive-By Argument and Atlas Skye. They’ve only been together since November but their myspace shows that this is a band with promise, make sure you hear them now! Jim over at Aye Tunes is also championing them.

Oliver Stays’ myspace

The Kays Lavelle are soon to release their debut album – entitled Be Still This Gentle Morning – this track is available as a free download and it’s ace. One of my favourite tracks this year. As John Peel used to say, ‘this track fades in slowly.’

The Kays Lavelle -‘The Hours.’ mp3

Thanks due to Aye Tunes, Peenko and Song, By Toad for all keeping me on my toes when it comes to new scottish music!

Presenting…the Unwinding Hours


Two days before Valentine’s day, I have fallen head over heels in love.

‘Knut’ by the Unwinding Hours is the best track I have heard so far this year.

That’s not hyperbole, just honest fact. It’s how I feel. It’s epic, beautiful and needs to be heard.

Iain b and Craig Cook were together for ten years in the fantastic and criminally underrated Aereogramme. These Glasgow lads are now collaborating together again, and are just about to release their first self-titled album this coming Monday.

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Knut
2. Tightrope
3. Little One
4. There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone
5. Solstice
6. Peaceful Liquid Shell
7. Child
8. Traces
9. Annie Jane
10. The Final Hour

Unwinding Hours -‘Knut.’ mp3

Their website is live from Monday, and there’s another lovely track on their myspace which is the demo of ‘Solstice.’ There’s not a lot more info out there that I can find at the moment – two upcoming gigs in Glasgow and they played their first gig together as the Unwinding Hours at Celtic Connections in Glasgow last month.

Oh, and on the basis of ‘Knut’ the album is going to be a stormer. Get out there and get it! (come Monday, obviously)

Congratulations to X-Lion Tamer!


Tony Lion Tamer became the first one of our acts to do a radio session since signing to the label (though Escape Act did one before they signed to us), with Vic Galloway for radio 1 in Scotland last night.

Click here to be able to listen to Tony in session doing three of his own songs -and his excellent cover of ‘Starsign’ by Teengage Fanclub, which always goes down a storm at gigs. As he says himself, it’s done in a handbag house style. Vic Galloway has been very supportive of 17 Seconds Records, also playing Chris Bradley last week and being one of the first DJs to play our stuff -ever- when he played ‘Claire’ by Aberfeldy when we first started. (Would be great to have mp3s of this if anyone happened to get them).

UPDATE: I know it took ages for this to get updated but it is working – and Vic and Tony are very nice about the label. It’s an excellent show anyway, and this show alone features music from the likes of Mitchell Museum, ardentjohn, Stanley Odd, Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers, Galleries and Withered hand, all of whom I have chamopioned on this blog.

It’s a busy month for the label with gigs in Scotland, England and Ireland (see the myspace page for more details), the release next week of our first two albums by the Wildhouse, and Chris Bradley’s next single ‘Waltzing’ the week after.

Become a fan of the label on facebook, on myspace, and say hello if you’re on Last FM. (We haven’t bothered with Twitter or Bebo).

We are still waiting for our music to be on Spotify, though we signed the contract flippin’ ages ago.

Free 17 Seconds records mp3s here, by the likes of X-Lion Tamer, Dirty Cuts, Factory Kids, Chris Bradley and the Wildhouse.

…and this is the video for the forthcoming Chris Bradley single ‘Waltzing.’

The return of Steve Mason


The man behind the Beta Band, who has also recorded as King Biscuit Time (check out 2000’s awesome No Style EP, if you haven’t already), will be back with a new album in May co-produced by Richard X. The album is entitled Boys Outside
and is released through Domino imprint Double Six.

The Beta Band may be consigned to history, alas, but the free track that’s been made availbale is a beuatiful and sublime piece of work that bodes extremely well for the forthcoming album. Whereas some of his solo work has been more elctronica-related this sees him goes back to basics.

The tracklisting for Boys Outside can be found here, while a feature on Mason can be foundhere.

Steve Mason -‘All Come Down.’ mp3