EP review – Astral Planes

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Astral Planes -‘Sit Down Child’ (Say Dirty/Lucky Number Nine)

…so, anyway.

A few weeks ago I was DJing at PinUps in Glasgow and then sat drinking with Matt and Billy from the Dirty Cuts (as you do). At some point during the night, I vaguely remember Matt telling me that the Paper Planes had changed their name, which lead to some stupid trivia comment from me about how Sleeper used to be called Surrender Dorothy, until they discovered there were lots of bands with that name, and I used to have a crush on Louise Wener fifteen years ago…and forgot what and why Paper Planes had changed their name and what to.

Anyway. Within a few days, those rather lovely folk at Say Dirty/Lucky Number Nine have sent me a copy of the latest EP from Paper Planes, and it transpires they’re now called Astral Planes. Whilst I’m not sure about the name, I am however very much convinced about this six track EP, and that this is a band who are going places.

Last year’s debut single ‘Doris Day’ -with it’s catchy chant of ‘How Absurd! How Obscene!’ reduced to four syllabes gave the impression of a band who did an excellent line in scots garage meets dirty US Country. Well, they do…but they have got so many other tricks up their sleeve. Follow-up single ‘the Sway’ isn’t here but its’ superior AA ‘disconnected I Know’ is- and shows that they can do classic pop, too.

There’s six tracks here, and seventeen minutes of music. The opening two seconds of opening track ‘Shut the Door’ wrongfoot you, in a brilliant way, rather like that scene from Carrie gets you every time. I’ve played this EP several times today, and I want to hear it again.

Awesome.

****1/2

Sit Down Child is released on June 14 on Say Dirty/Lucky Number Nine. The two singles ‘Doris Day’ and ‘Sway’ are available on download (credited to Paper Planes).

Astral planes’ myspace

Ian Curtis remembered

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Tomorrow -May 18 – marks thirty years since the death of Ian Curtis, frontman of Joy Division. As has been documented numerous times, he died by his own hand at his Macclesfield home, aged just twenty-three.

Whilst there are unquestionably aspects of his life that make me uncomfortable (the fact he voted Tory, his treatment of his wife Deborah, to name but two), he was an unquestionably talented lyricist and performer. ‘Why is the bedroom so cold?’/You turned away on your side?’ seemed like someone had read my diary many years ago, on more than one occasion. His influence on the indie/alternative scene and all it spawned is undeniable; but The Cure and U2 took notes and set out to take his musical vision out of the dank clubs and onto the world’s stadia. Curtis was the inspiration behind The Crow comic and later film (with a few notes to Robert Smith and Peter Murphy, I think!) ‘Here are the young men, the weight on their shoulders,’ sang Curtis on ‘Decades,’ the closing track on their second and final album, Closer.

I was only three when he died; but just as kids I taught idolised Kurt Cobain, so the music of Joy Division’s brief career, burned so very, very brightly. Just as the lyric in Nirvana’s ‘Come As you Are’ ‘Well, I swear that I don’t have a gun’ was unbearably poignant when Cobain killed himself, so Curtis’ ‘New Dawn Fades’ with its’ icy ‘A loaded gun won’t set you free…so you say’ makes you wonder whetehr it was part of a gameplan.

This is my favourite song ever. A sound that encapsulates the sound that ice makes as it forms on water. Possibly.

As I get older, perhaps I find the way in which a young, tragic death is sold as a romantic ideal increasingly ridiculous; at best naive, at worst crass. But let’s say goodbye to the Cult of Ian Curtis: Young, Tragic Suicide and treasure him as the lyrical genius he so clearly was.

Joy Division -‘Atmosphere.’ mp3

Album Review: Kill The Captains

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Kill The Captains -‘Fun Anxiety.’ (Armellodie)

I really hadn’t been sure at all that I was going to like this album a few months ago. When the first single off the album ‘Rummy’ dropped on the mat at 17 Seconds Towers, it didn’t do much for me.

Yet the album has had a considerable amount of play over the last few weeks, growing on me with each listen, and I’ve even grown to quite like the aforementioned single. The Sheffield-based four piece have given us an album that manages to take notes from math-rock type bands like Shellac and Future Of the Left, whilst also exuding the fun of bands like supergrass. I’d be reluctant to say pop-punk, because that would be frankly inaccurate.

Over the course of the twelve tracks herein, the stall is set out for a band who give the impression that they’ll be awesome live and have the inventiveness and the potential to develop over the course of successive albums, rather than simply repeating themselves over and over again. I’m kicking myslef over my initial reluctance, because this is really a very impressive album.

Kill the Captains join Super Adventure Club, The Scottish Enlightenment and Cuddly Shark in showing Armellodie to be one of Scotland’s greatest contemporary labels.

****

Fun Anxiety is out now.

Kill The Captains -‘Spot The Leopard.’ mp3

(Try this!)

Kill the Captains’ website/Kill the Captains’ myspace

Not again…

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Yet again, another excellent blog has fallen foul of some American’s with a taste for blood and litigation, and not a bloody clue about how to go about promoting music in this day and age.

This time, the casualty is Jason over at The Pop Cop, who came a cropper relating to tracks that he posted over two years ago. You can read the appalling story here.

It is unbelievable that mp3 blogs that are supporting up and coming bands and an industry that has much to blame for its’ own suffering should persecute those who are supporting bands by posting one or two mp3s. As a record company owner -and a tiny one at that -I’m ecstatic whenever someone writes about music that I have put out, and I’m proud to include Jason in that. It’s not even a request for an mp3 to be removed -every blogger has that disclaimer up, but that three years of Jason’s intellectual property has been removed. Pretty disgusting.

What I am really chuffed about is that lots of the blogging community in Scotland have come together and are blogging about this and supporting Jason. People including Jock’n’Roll, Aye Tunes, and Peenko to name but three, What is really needed is some kind of ‘Go stuff the DMCA-they are a bunch of money-grabbing ****s who don’t know shit about music’ organisation, but that may have to wait another day.

It seems some people still do not realise that mp3 blogs are keeping the music biz aliove, and that established acts need them just as much as new acts -one PR guy has been trying to arrange for me to do an interview with none other than Jim Kerr (yes, frontman of Simple Minds) for several weeks. VENCEREMOS!

Join the Facebook group and support Jason.

Crass -‘Do they Owe Us A Living?’

EP Review – RBRBR

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One of the band…possibly…

RBRBR -‘The Bobby Masicks EP’ (Euphonios)

Amongst those discovered and promoted by Euphonios in recent years is the fantastic Unicorn Kid, now signed to Ministry Of Sound.

I’m hoping that lightning has indeed struck twice, because this release from Edinburgh’s RBRBR is similarly fun electronica. Like the aforementioned Unicorn Kid, this is as addictive as E-number filled sweets. Or imagine Hot Chip if they took themselves less seriously and had more of a sense of fun. Over the course of these four tracks, this EP suggests that this band have a bright future ahead of them, and I’ll be watching what they do next with a great deal of interest.

All four tracks are great, the band members seem to be heading for a degree of anonymity (they list their members as 1! 2!! 3!!! 4!!!! 5!!!!!) and I can’t wait to see them live. These giys are making floor fillers on their own terms, and there’s not much more you can ask for. Edinburgh’s music scene is in the ascendant again, and these guys are right up there with the best of them.

****

The Bobby Masicks EP is out now on Euphonios. Steam it on their myspace and then go and buy it!

Last Battle EXCLUSIVE

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The first fruits of the forthcoming Last Battle album Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea was handed to me at last night’s gig (where they played with Chris Bradley and the Dirty Cuts, as part of Tigerfest) and it’s called ‘Black Waterfall.’

The first downloadable single will be called ‘Ruins’ and should be out in the next two months. The album is pencilled in for a September release on 17 Seconds Records. We’re very excited…

Last Battle -‘Black Waterfall.’ mp3

UPDATE: This is not going to be on the album, but it is a gorgeous track and I think you will love it anyway. Thanks to Ali and Dylan for playing it on their radio show today, along with X-Lion Tamer!

This may be democracy…

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…but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it, or like it.

Scotland is still suffering the effects of the last Tory administration.

To quote the Proclaimers -‘What do you do when democracy fails you?’

Depeche Mode -‘Master and servant.’ mp3

The return of the Scottish Enlightenment

scottish-enlightenment

Three years ago, one of the acts I championed were Dunfermline’s The Scottish Enlightenment. They released a fine three track EP called Eyes -and whilst I would see occasional references to them in gig listings, I was left wondering whether they would follow that EP up.

Well, they have -and this five track EP is called the Pascal EP and it’s excellent (****). Also championed by Matthew over at Song, By Toad, (who played them on his show) this EP is five magnifiecently moody pieces of prime scots indie. Armellodie Records have done themselves proud yet again (and this having just released the debut from Kill The Captains and the latest Super Adventure Club album too, to say nothing of the fine Cuddly Shark album). The thought persists that if Biffy Clyro can go top five, why not the Scottish Enlightenment?

Reportedly these songs haven’t made the forthcoming album. My brain’s aching at the thought of just how good it might be…

Another EP and their debut album are to follow this year. In the meantime, enjoy this:

The Scottish Enlightenment -‘All Homemade Things.’ mp3

The last call!

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OK folks, tis the last reminder I will post, but Tigerfest is underway, and tonight and Thursday are the 17 Seconds Records nights in Edinburgh.

£6 a throw, and with X-Lion Tamer, The Wildhouse and White Heath (not ours, but fabulous anyway!) tonight and Chris Bradley, the Dirty Cuts and the Last battle on Thursday…what more could you ask for?

X-Lion Tamer -‘Life Support Machine.’ mp3

The Wildhouse -‘Ficca.’ mp3

Dirty Cuts -‘Lips.’ mp3

Chris Bradley -‘Hide & Seek.’ mp3

The Last Battle -‘Nature’s Glorious Rage.’ mp3

What next? What now?

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One of these men on the left is technically still Prime Minister. One got the most votes but not the majority needed. And one holds the balance of power.

It’s a very confusing time here in the UK.

The General Election was two days ago, people are trying to sort out deals, and no-one’s feeling like they really got the result they wanted. (Apart from the far right taking a hammering, thank God). An American journalist said he thought it was more confusing than the rules of cricket -well, it seems like a lot of people are confused.

*Sigh*

This seems oddly appropriate. We don’t know whether to laugh, sigh, or despair. I’ve mostly had the Radio on in the car trying to work out what’s happening. Except no-one knows.

Billy Bragg -‘Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards.’ mp3

‘If you’ve got a blacklist, I wana be on it.’ And so say all of us…