Bizarre Music Show Performances #2



Fish loses his voice. A disaster for playing live, perhaps, but not a problem on Top Of The Pops.

Their big hit of the year was ‘Kayleigh,’ also taken from the Misplaced Childhood album. I can’t stand that song, though when I was a teacher I knew many girls who were named by their parents after that song.

Never met a girl called Lavender. Knew quite a few blokes who who these military jackets (though possibly more in homage to Pete Doherty, though).

…and how much was this performance indebted to Bob Dylan? Just a tad…

Bizarre Music Show performances #1


I was listening to Liz Kershaw’s show on BBC6Music earlier on today. She was asking for people’s memories of Top Of The Pops.

This came to mind. In the early 1990s, Top Of The Pops was somewhat bemused by dance music, and with a new rule that insisted bands had to sing live, dance acts struggled. The point was that people could dance, rather than their musical ability.

Acts like The Orb were one stage further, there were no vocals, so this was the performance of ‘Blue Room in 1992.

Oh, and although the single was forty minutes long unedited, the Beeb only gave us three minutes worth.

The continued rise of Hiatus


Cyrus Shahrad, maker of the Festive Fifty no.1 last year ‘Insurrection’, records as Hiatus. He has been responsible not only for some fine music, but also videos in the promos for ‘Save Yourself‘ and the aforementioned ‘Insurrection‘ (the latter featuring the vocal talents of none other than Linton Kwesi Johnson. Videos that move this writer to tears.

However, me blubbing at videos on YouTube aside, as it became clear when I interviewed him last year, Mr. Shahrad is not a man to let the grass grow beneath his feet.

He has just released the mightily fine three-track EP Change Up. This features vocal talents from his friend Matt Falloon of Smoke Feathers. The two of them have known each other for many years -and in fact were in a band together at University called Holy Smoke, which also featured none other than Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip on guitar.

This is the video for Change Up: narrative, and not a little sad, but not without hope, either:

Stream the whole EP here. Seriously. What else were you going to do with the next fifteen minutes?

The View return – with NSFW video


I was quite into The View on the basis of their first couple of singles ‘Wasted Little DJs’ and ‘Superstar Tradesman.’ I still play those songs occasionally, and I gave the thumbs up to the debut album on this blog, over five years ago.

Time passes, fashions change (traitor sneer) – but The View are still here. They are shortly to release their fourth album Cheeky For A Reason on July 9, through Cooking Vinyl.

The first single ‘How Long’ is one of the best things they have done in a long while. The video is quite eye-opening. This is perhaps the third interestingly NSFW music video in almost as many months (following Liars and Spiritualized).

For a really interesting experience, watch the video with the sound off first and then with it on.

Just saying.

The return of The Last Battle (part 2)


As mentioned earlier this month, The Last Battle have been back in the studio working on their sophomore album. The first fruits of these sessions is a new single ‘Hope Is Gold’ which is out now, available to download from their bandcamp for the princely sum of 79p. That’s a bargain for two tracks, especially when they are as good as these two.

A-side ‘Hope Is Gold’ showcases the fantastic vocal interplay between Scott Longmuir and Arwen Duncan once more, as well as introducing the band’s violinist Jonathan. B-side ‘The Crunching’ is also extremely good indeed. In the best possible way very different from anything else they have done before, and far more post-punk and less folk than anything I have heard them do before…

The launch night for the single takes place on June 22 at Pilrig St Paul’s Church Hall in Leith, with support from William Henry Miller, Star Wheel Press and Where We Lay Our Heads.

Amongst the other forthcoming live dates they have are LeithLate 2 at Elvis Shakespeare on Leith Walk, Edinburgh on June 28,where they will be playing with Edinburgh School For The Deaf and Blueflint.

Album Review: Louise McVey and Cracks In The Concrete


Louise McVey and Cracks In The Concrete -‘Love Lust Tales’ (Flying Teeth Records)

Come on in. Sit down, and admire the gloom and the cobwebs.

Is that a shiver down your spine?

Are you –quite sure– that you’re not alone?

Are you sitting rather unnervedly? Then Louise McVey and Cracks In The Concrete will begin.

I make no apologies for the theatrics. Shut your eyes. This is music to unsettle, and thrill you. No schlocky horror here, but think PJ Harvey circa To Bring You My Love, Carla Buzolich’s work as Evangelista, Kate Bush when she’s at her most chilling (more ‘Infact Kiss’ than ‘Rubberband Girl.’) ‘Let me dream, let me dream,’ she sings on ‘Your Skies’. These are dreams are the most fantastical of nightmares.

It’s gothic as distinct from goth rock, less Sisters Of Mercy and more Great Expectations and The Turn Of The Screw. It’s deeply disturbing musically, not least because of its freeness. With the discordance here, you can imagine a major A&R sucking their teeth and going ‘I don’t hear a single.’

…But: did you hear that? Was that a crack in the floorboards on the album or somewhere else?

One of the most original, unsettling and creative records you’re likely to hear this year.


Love Lust Tales is released on Flying Teeth Records on June 15.

Preview the album here

The return of the Pet Shop Boys


I’m not sure quite where it happened – I might be willing to suggest around the era of Highway 61 Revisited/Pet Sounds -that Rock and Pop seemed to get separated. The end result was that ‘rock’ was perceived as intelligent and serious, while ‘pop’ was considered lightweight, disposable and fluffy.

I beg to differ. And exhibit A for the defence are The Pet Shop Boys. It’s now thirty years since they formed -and they are due to release their eleventh album, Elysium, in September.

For those of you wondering if that isn’t, in fact, a Fields Of The Nephilim album -well, almost, Elizium, was Carl McCoy and co’s third album, back in 1991. I think, on the basis of this track ‘Invisible’ it is clear that the PSBs have not gone goth, but are continuing to produce intelligent pop – in no derogatory way whatsoever. This video was made in Los Angeles artist/film-maker Brian Bress and the album was recorded there, too. Don’t just listen, watch!

Album Review: Jupiter


Jupiter-‘Juicy Lucy’ (Grand Blanc)

Jupiter are an Anglo-French duo Amélie and Quarles, who are based in Paris but met in London. According to legend (well, the press release 😉 ) they met on a dance-floor which emptied when the DJ played Junior’s ‘Mama Used To Say.’

Well, the hipsters might not have liked it (but they’re superficial idiots and the world ‘s better off without them, right), but it brought our two heroes together. Their first single, ‘Starlighter’ closes this collection, but it’s their recent single ‘One Oh Six’ which opens it, and really sets the tone.

In the late 1990s, Air and Daft Punk radically changed the way that French pop music was perceived in the UK. This may follow in that vein, but there’s a link back to 70s classic disco (think Chic, Sister Sledge et al). It’s minus the cheese and too-knowing irony, and instead what we have is an album that’s perfect for summer days and those hot summer nights.

Wella, wella, wella HOO! Tell me more. Released in the same week as the debut album from POP ETC.. (see review below) the two albums are spiritual and aesthetic cousins. Nearly forty years since George McRae’s ‘Rock Your Baby’ appeared, Disco is still with us and still evolving. The jocks may wish to destroy it, the hipsters may want to know if they’re allowed to like it -but if you want to hear something great, tilt your ears this way.


Juicy Lucy is released on Grand Blanc on June 11.

Album Review: Pop etc..


Pop etc.. -‘Pop etc..’ (Rough Trade)

What’s in a name? Well, apparently, the California trio used to go by the name The Morning Benders (apparently Bender isn’t pejorative slang for homosexual in all parts of the world). Now, I haven’t heard their previous work, so I’m pretty much coming to this fresh and taking it at face value.

And several listens in, I am hugely enjoying this. The album cover may be some wry comment on whether labels mean anything; this music might have been considered avant garde at one point, pop at another, electronica at yet another point. It is, however, hugely enjoyable. And it’s lovely and summery.

That, of course, can depend where you are (it’s well into June and here in Scotland at best it’s been humid and overcast), but this hits the mark for a gorgeous, summer-suitable album. Sharp and clever, without showing off, tunes like ‘Everything Is Gone,’ ‘Back To Your Heart’ and the opening ‘New Life’ are particularly excellent tracks on what is a very fine album indeed. ‘R.Y.B.’ is perhaps a bit below par, perhaps (like a demo for a boyband, but we’ll let that pass).

Call it what you want, call the band what you want, the main point is that you can track it down and get this on your stereo.


POP ETC.. is released on Rough Trade on June 11.

Stream the album here