Ah…Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.
Does this bring back great memories? I loved the song…just not the life at the time. Ah well…
I’ve blogged on here before now about just how awesome I think Sparrow and the Workshop are. They were great supporting Broken Records the other week and mrs. 17 Seconds is definitely up for seeing them again.
I have received a personal email from Jill O’Sullivan herself, referring to 17 seconds as one of their favourite blogs (flattery will get you everywhere!) and asking if I’d like to post a cover version they’ve done or host the video?
Well, why not both? As my Mum used to say, when offered the choice between cream or custard.
Sparrow and the Workshop -‘Just What I Needed.’ mp3
…and if you have yet to get their awesome debut Crystals Fall yet, SORT IT OUT.
Thirty years on, 4AD Records continues to find new and exciting artists to work with.
Their latest signing is Twin Shadow. Known to his Mum and Dad as George Lewis Jr, he will be releasing his debut album Forget on November 15 (which will be my 34th birthday, as it happens, although this may be a coincidence 😉 ).
This may sound a little poppier than some of the stuff that 4AD have produced but it connects well with their heritage of working with exciting acts, working with the artier crowd and producing awesome records. As a big fan of This Mortal Coil’s ‘Song To the Siren’ one of the most sublime recordings released EVER, he’s chuffed to be joioning the label.
This is the first track that has been made available; let me know what you think -and I’m looking forward to the album…
Well, it’s a busy few weeks ahead of us, and I’ve been interviewed about 17 Seconds Records again. This too will pass, but thank you Peenko!
I’ve mentioned it before but tomorrow night, The Last Battle have the album launch for their debut album Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea. Support comes from Glasgow’s magnificent Burnt Island and Edinburgh’s Matt Norris & The Moon.
And I will be DJing. Tickets are £5 advance, £6 on the door.
Sunday will see 17 Seconds Records at Independents’ day at the Barron Theatre in St. Andrew’s, Fife. Chris Bradley and The Last Battle join a bill that also includes Found, Kid Canaveral, Panda Su, Jo Mango, Iona Marshall and Oates Field. We’ll be selling 17 Seconds Records’ er, records, and CDs as well. It’s more than just a little satisfying to see our logo next to that of Chemikal Underground on the posters.
Next week The Last Battle will play the Sufjan Steves’ tribute night at Stereo, with other acts including Endor and Julia and the Doogans…
Meanwhile, on September 24 at the Freshers’ event at Edinburgh’s College of Art, X-Lion Tamer will be playing, with My Tiny Robots and The Machine Room.
Keep the music live folks (as the musician union used to say)!
The Vaselines/Haight-Astbury/Foxgang -Edinburgh Bongo Club, September 15, 2010
A pretty-muched packed crowd tonight at Edinburgh’s Bongo Club for what leaves a glow for some time to come.
First up are Glasgow’s Foxgang (not to be confused with Foxface, obviously) who have an excelent take on a post-pink sounds that already sounds uniquely their own. ‘Easyjet’ in particular sounds like The Fall meets Franz Ferdinand (with additional help from the Dexys Midnight Runners horn-section when you check it out on their myspace). This being Edinburgh, most of the crowd are too self-conscious to dance, but they win the crowd over, leaving me and many others wanting more.
Haight-Ashbury I first saw supporting The Waterboys three years ago. I thought they were great then -and I think they’re fantastic now. Though the name and part of the the sound nod to 60s San Francisco, there’s an appealing darkness here that also owes much to the proto-punk of the Stooges and The Velvet Underground. Recent single ‘Freeman Town’ encapsulates much of what they’re about: three people making a sound that sounds like there’s way more involved, great harmonies from the girls Jennifer and Kirsty Heather and awesome guitar work from Scott james. Their given surname is Ashbury, and they are all family, apparently.
This is the opening night of the Vaselines tour and the crowd are clearly delighted to see them. Some people probably did see them twenty years ago, but then there’s others a good decade younger than me. They open with ‘Oliver Twisted’ and then tear straight into ‘Molly’s Lips.’ It’s great stuff.
The new album, Sex With An X has generated some good reviews as you would expect, and it’ll be interesting to see whether there’ll be more of it included earlier on in the set on future dates on this tour. The likes of ‘The Devil’s Inside Me’, the album’s title track and ‘I Hate the 80s’ are all interspersed with the songs from the back catalogue. I genuinely think that even in self-conscious Edinburgh the crowd might even start dancing if there was room to do so…
The day after will see Edinburgh visited by the Pope, and while Eugene and Frances don’t comment on this, it’s clear that sex and religion still occupy an important part in the vaselines’ mindset, quite often in the same song, though in a rather different way from how Prince used to approach it circa Lovesexy. ‘God’s Coming to strike us down’ remarks Eugene before they tear into ‘Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam’*
It’s a show for happy fans, and I can only begin to imagine just how good things will be by the time they reach Glasgow on the tour. Whilst the album features Stevie Jackson and Bob Kildea from Belle & Sebastian, they are joined by two ‘Vaselines virgins’ as Frances McKee refers to them as, Gareth on bass and Paul on guitar, (no surnames apparently). There’s the right balance between the shambling sound of the records and being as tight as live band, and they’re even more powerful than when I saw them supporting Mudhoney last year.
Just as the Wedding Present still refuse to play encores, so the Vaslines cheerily mock it by pretending to disappear off stage but they’re straight on, and the version of ‘You Think You’re A Man’ rules, as ever. Great to have them with us again.
*For the last time: the Vaselines’ orginal title was this. It was the cover that changed the title to include ‘don’t.’ And yes, I know what their myspace says.
Broken Records -‘Let Me Come Home.’ (4AD)
Just a year or so after their debut album appeared, Broken Records return with their sophomore effort. The title Let Me Come Home certainly reflects many of the lyrical concerns of their new release, which in singer Jamie Sutherland’s own words saw him ‘thinking about whating on around me in the form of fears and concerns over making relationships work, and a need for security.’ Even before a note is heard -though doubtless by now you’ve heard the opening track ‘A Leaving Song’ as a free download -the album’s pedigree is impressive: it was produced by Tony Doogan (whose worked with other Scots acts like Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian and The Delgados) and the sleeve has been designed by Vaughan Oliver, whose been respnsible for many of 4AD’s sleeves.
The band have evolved over the three years since I first encountered them, supporting Emma Pollock at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire. A few weeks ago I saw them headline at the newly reopened Liquid Rooms. It was a truly phenomenal gig, and speaking to Jamie a few days later he told me he thought it was the best they had ever played.It also marked the last performance with the band of German ‘cellist Arne Kolb and bassist Dave ‘Gill’ Fothergill, the latte now replaced by Craig Ross.
What becomes clear very quickly is that this is not Until the Earth Begins To Part part 2. It still sounds like Broken Records and ‘Ailene’ is perhaps the closest sounding track here to their old record (I don’t mean this as a criticism, by the way). Jamie has spoken of having almost an obssession with films like Badlands, Rumblefish and East of Eden whilst making this album. This album feels almost filmlike in its’ delivery and execution. ‘I used to dream’ is particularly evocative of those films. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that if Wim Wenders were to make Paris, Texas now, he would look to Broken Records to do the soundtrack instead of Ry Cooder.
That said, songs like ‘You Know You’re Not Dead’ and first single ‘A Darkness Rises Up’ are uptempo numbers that show it is possible to do epic without being bombastic. Another highlight of the album is ‘Dia Dos Namarados!’ which features guest vocals from Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow and the Workshop.
The advent of the CD player -nearly thirty years ago now -meant that many bands felt pressured to use up all the available space. At thirty seven minutes, Broken Records use half that, and demonstrate that lightning has most definitely struck twice. Sure I’m a big fan. And the reason is, they’re a bloody fantastic band.
Let Me Come Home will be released on October 25 on 4AD.
The Vaselines -‘Sex With An X’ (Sub Pop)
It’s been (over)documeneted that the Vaselines were one of Kurt Cobain’s favourite bands. What continues to rankle is the people who comment that the band might have slipped into obscurity if it hadn’t been for Cobain, because, frankly, in the short period that they were together in the late eighties, the band that centered around Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly produced some very good stuff. One LP and two EPs, to be precise.
Since splitting in 1990, the pair have been involved in numerous other projects (I recommend Kelly’s Eugenius and his solo album, as well as Mckee’s Suckle), and have played together a few times. Finally, over twnety years since their first and so far only LP Dum Dum, comes Sex With An X.
And the nice thing is – it feels like they’re picking up exactly where they left off. Sure they weren’t the most accomplished or polished of bands on record, but that was never the point. They had a sense of ramshackle fun (they weren’t quite part of the c-86 movement), and lyrics that managed to be completely irreverent about sex and religion, quite often in the same song. This still remains, as typefied by the free track that’s been doing the rounds on the net for a while ‘I hate The 80s.’ ‘What do you know? You weren’t there!/it wasn’t all Duran Duran Duran Duran [sic]/You want the truth? Well, this is it/I hate the 80s, ‘cos the 80s were shit.’ No, it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s typical Vaselines and it feels like it’s twenty years ago. In a good way.
Their legend has grown in their absence – and they’re back to show that they’re just as important as many of the bands that Cobain claimed as an influence. How long they’ll work together is anyone’s guess, but this is a shambling indie-pop joy of an album. Oh, and the Vaselines 2010 sees our heroes Eugene and Frances backed on this album by Stevie Jackson and Bob Kildea from Belle & Sebastian on guitar and bass respectively, and the 1990s’ Michael McGaughrin on drums. What more could you ask for?
Sex With An X is out now on Sub Pop.
Admiralty Wireless -‘The Stories Sailors Tell’ (Tidbit)
Oh, Lordy. Another day, another singer-songwriter – or six – who have poured their heart, soul and quite probably their life savings into making an album that’s really not terribly interesting.
Admiralty Wireless is the work of Mark Lough, a Stirling-born singer-songwriter. He’s also a producer and engineer and he clearly knows his way around a recording studio. He lists albums like Sgt Pepper, A Night At The Opera and Abbey Road – all very much studio creations – as inspiring him. The result is that the album sounds fantastic, but the songs just really are not up to much – to the extent that they seem to have melted away to nothing before they have even finished.
It is one thing for people to be able to tell where your influences have come from – but it’s really important for any act to take those influences and run with them. Sure, it’s blatantly obvious that Muse, for one, have been listening to Queen and similar acts, but they’ve fashioned their own sound from it.
I’m not disputing Mr. Lough’s ability to find his way around a recording studio, but I think in terms of songwriting, he needs to find his own voice.
The Stories Sailors Tell is out now
Edinburgh three-piece Come On Gang! have been around for a while now, and I can only apologise for not having featured them sooner.
They are: Sarah Tanat-Jones (vocals and drumming), Mikey Morrison (guitar and vocals) and Rob Howell (bass). Their latest (third) single is a free download entitled ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’ which is a gorgeous slice of indie-pop that makes you want to jump around the bedroom (or indeed, wherever you so choose, I guess). They’re now working on ther debut album, which ‘Fortune’ is the awesome first track to appear.
You can hear it here…
and see the delightfully quirky video here….
-and to download the single for free sign up here
I’ve been an admirer of Penguins Kill Polar Bears for a while now, and gave them a spin on my radio show last month. Let’s meet ’em…
Introduce yourselves…who’s who in Penguins Kill Polar Bears?
We have Ben Proudlock on vocal and guitar duties, Fraser Sanaghan on lead guitar, Kieran McGuckian on drums and Gavin Cormack on Bass. Collectively we make up Penguins Kill Polar Bears.
How have things changed in the last three months for you?
We’ve been on the road a lot more playing shows all over the country. We released our debut EP in June and spent a lot of time afterwards playing shows to promote the EP. Our manager has been awesome and helped us out by booking some sweet shows in London and all over Scotland. We’re now in a place where we’re trying to refine our sound and work on some new material.
Who do you consider the most important people in having got you this far?
We’d be pretty lost without Murray [Reid, manager], he’s helped us raise our game to a new level and been a great friend and manager to us all. The boys from Light Guides have been awesome as well and helped us out where ever possible, they’re a great a band and everyone should give them a listen.
What’s been the best experience of performing live?
We always try and have the best experience when playing live. I think the best show to date that we’ve played would be our recent gig at King Tuts with Light Guides and Make Sparks. The place was packed with lots of new faces and old friends. We were definitely on a high when we got off the stage after that show.
…and the worst?
We had a pretty funny experience in Dundee on our headline tour. One of the local crazies managed to dart into the venue mid set and went leaping towards our merch. I saw the whole thing unfold in front and trying to hold in the laughter was a pretty hard experience. Luckily the promoter managed to grab the dude and eject him from the venue before he managed to cause any chaos.
Do you think the word ‘indie’ still means something in 2010 or is it just a description of a particular sound?
I think that the word indie has evolved to encompass all bands who go for the jingly guitar sound and live for being on the cover of NME. I always feel slightly weird when I try to describe the bands sound to someone. We’ve got a bit of an indie sound about us but the second you tell someone you’re in an indie band they seem to think you’re going to automatically sound like Oasis.
Which bands/artists have been the biggest influences for you as a band?
We’ve taken influences from bands such as The Appleseed Cast, Aereogramme, The Smashing Pumpkins and Manchester Orchestra. Our music tastes are all slightly varied so we all tend to bring different things to the table when we’re writing. We’re always trying to keep our sound fresh and interesting.
Which bands/artists would you most like to work with?
We’d love to play with The Unwinding Hours, The Appleseed Cast or Brand New i think. They’ve all provided much needed moments of inspiration for us and they’ve been helped influence the sound of the band in different ways.
What are your plans for the next six months? Will we get an album?
We’ll be playing shows up until mid December then taking a break until after January. We have some exciting things happening before 2011 though, such as a UK mini tour, support for The Twilight Sad and Errors, and there are a few other surprise supports on the way. Not to forget our next Edinburgh gig at The Wee Red Bar with Trapped in Kansas, then Roktoberfest for Oxjam in Glasgow on 31st October!
We’ve already started writing for the debut album due for release in June 2011 and have some interesting ideas.
Will you be playing outside of Scotland?
We’ll be hitting up London, Manchester, and Leeds in early November. England watch out!
Penguins Kill Polar Bears’ debut EP Dawn can be heard and bought from their bandcamp page.
Try this for starters:
For tourdates and live performances, check out their myspace page here
Thanks to manager Murray for passing on my questions and getting them back to me!