Does there have to be a reason?


So, Frank Ocean has come out, rather publicly, over the last couple of weeks -and seems to be getting lots of positivity as a result.

He is, however, first and foremost a musician. And Channel Orange, his debut album is ace, and this is the outstanding cut from it: ‘Pyramids.’

Please take the time to listen to the ten minutes of this, it’s definitely worth it.

…and this ain’t bad either:

Album Review: The Very Best


The Very Best -‘MTMTMK.’ (Moshi Moshi)

The signs before I got this album were very strong indeed. Not only were the two tracks that did the rounds first ‘Yoshua Alikuti’ and ‘Kondaine’ pretty bloody amazing, but the videos that accompanied them were amazing as well. Then the album turned up, and showed itself to be a worthy successor to their 2009 debut, The Warm Heart Of Africa.

Since the debut came out Etienne Trot has left the group, so they are now a duo, Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and London-based Swedish producer Johan Hugo. Yes, this album may seem a little dancier than their previous album, but it is my pleasure to be able to report that the album builds upon the foundations of the debut.

There’s an impressive cast list that includes not only Baaba Maal, K’naan and Amadou & Miriam, but also, erm, Bruno Mars on ‘We OK.’ This is an album for the heart, as much as the feet and the ears. I can’t dance for toffee, but this album makes me wish I could. It’s not a plundering of African sounds for Western audiences any more than their debut was, but it is a welcome dash of sunshine, especially when we’ve had so little of it in Scotland so far this summer.

So addictive is this album that I’ve had it on repeated play on more than one occasion. Whatever the weather, get this on your stereo.


MTMTMK is out now on Moshi Moshi

Welcome back to the Vinyl Villain

One of my all time favourite blogs is The Vinyl Villain.

Written by JC aka the Vinyl Villain in Glasgow, it’s been going nearly as long as 17 Seconds. He’s given lots of support to me as a blogger, and valuable coverage to the label.

He’s informed me about lots of stuff, old and new, and put me up and his place in Glasgow one night after a memorable Edwyn Collins gig at the ABC.

Amongst the stuff he has told me about are Father Sculptor, so this is a repeat post of something I wrote earlier this year, that I found out about because of JC:


Scottish band Father Sculptor have just released their debut single this week as a free download.

Now, I say free download -which is lovely because it’s always nice to be able to get stuff for free. But the reality is that this two track single ‘Ember’/’Blue’ is so gorgeous and so utterly wonderful that I would have been prepared to pay money for it.

It’s thanks to JC over at The Vinyl Villain that I picked up on it. He says they remind him of Sire-era James (i.e. Stutter and Stripmining LPs) and also one of the great Scottish lost bands, Geneva. I couldn’t agree more – there is something wonderful and exciting about their melancholic, ethereal rock, that isn’t shoegazing (not that there’s anything wrong with that) that makes me want to play these two tracks again and again.

I can’t seem to find out much more about them other than that they hail from Glasgow. So for all I know they could be sixty-something convicts or a bunch of rich teenagers who have made this with Mummy and Daddy’s chequebook. It’s irrelevant, really. Take this at face value and take it to your hearts. They’re getting some great press across the blogs and it’s entirely deserved.*

These are two earlier tracks from their bandcamp page.

* I later received a very nice email from the band in which they stated: ‘For the record we are a happy medium between 60 something convicts & rich teenagers.’

Happy Birthday to…the blog!

Yup, it is six years since I made my first awkward forays into the world of blogging.

Since then, there have been gig nights, the label and records downloads and CDs, DJing, interviews and lots of fun and stress as a result.

In the last year I’ve even been able to interview (amongst others) Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, Bwani Junction, The Raincoats, Dweezil Zappa and Roy Harper. Sure there’s a list as long as your arm of people I’d love to interview, but I think if someone had told me six years ago when I started all this that I’d get to do this, I wouldn’t have dared believe them.

and in that time, I’ve married the wonderful Mrs. 17 Seconds (we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary yesterday) and welcomes our son Master 17 Seconds into the world too.

You may have noticed that there tends to be fewer mp3s than there used to be. Like many blogs, I have come increasingly under fire from sinitser organisations who do not reply to my emails (nevermind take notice of the disclaimers), and on many occasions had links removed that I actually have the music to under licence!

Anyway, thanks to those of you still reading -and it still gives me pleasure. Feedback is allways nice, btw, boys and girls 😉

Album Review: Owen McAulay


Owen McAulay-‘Time.’ (sans-culottes)

There is a peculiarly Scottish melancholy that I have tuned into over the course of eleven years of living here. I hear it in the music of eagleowl, Meursault, Idlewild, Arab Strap (and their associated projects), and perhaps most of all, Mogwai. As an outsider who has come to call Scotland home, I wonder if it is to do with the weather as much as the way Calvinism slips into the water like a particularly vicious form of something (something that has nowt to do with religion, God or society and everything to do with the need to feel bad about yourself, I find myself thinking in my darker moments).

And I hear this melancholy in this solo work of Smackvan’s Owen McAulay. It is a thing of beauty, not a thing of wallowing in it. A beautifully stripped down work, performed almost entirely by the man himself. It hangs together as a very coherent body of work (no mean feat considering it came together between 2005 and 2012). For much of the album I had a lump in my throat – so sad, yet so utterly compelling a piece of work.

And there’s lyrics that in the hands of so many would seem utterly trite, for example on ‘All Is Fine’ we hear:
‘My daughter has a child
I have a grandson and I’m happy
He looks at me and smiles’

In the context of this album, it offers a glimmer of home, of hope, and is genuinely warm, something few could actually pull off.

I can’t claim to know much of his work before, but on the strength of this amazing record I want to get my hands on everything he’s done.

A contender for album of the year, out of over 200 I have heard so far in 2012. Beg, steal or borrow a copy, but I really think you should buy it. And listen to it. Lots. Lots and lots…


Time is out now on sans-culottes

Stream at CD Baby.

You can buy it from there, and you should also check your local independent record store if you live in Scotland for it

Presenting…Young Romance


I think I mentioned the other week that I was doing some writing for both Never Enough Notes and God Is In The TV? Well, this band, Young Romance, are a tip I picked up from the latter.

Young Romance are a two piece act, with Paolo Ruiu on guitar, and Claire Heywood, who plays drums and sings. They have just made their third single available as a free download, and it is heartbreakingly brilliant. They take the c-86 indiepop template and run with it. And make you fall in love and break your heart, all within the space of a single song.

No, just because they have a girl on drums it does NOT mean they sound like THe White Stripes or The Carpenters. Got past that lazy stereotype? Good. Now let yourself be blown away by this:

This is an earlier track, ‘Swollen Hearts, Bitten Tongues’:

My new favourite band. Beautiful, gorgeous stuff. Turn it up. Loud. Put them on the mixtape you make for the boy or girl you fancy. Spread the word in any way you can.

The return of Dead Can Dance


For a label that has given so many extraordinary bands over the years, the duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry-better known as Dead Can Dance- couldn’t have been signed to anyone else other than 4AD in the 1980s. Often lumped in with the goth scene, the duo might have been gothic sounding, but they were beyond pop music. Not in a snobby way, but they seemed to be from another time, another place altogether. Were they folk, modern classical or just simply unclassifiable?

After their last album, 1996’s Spiritchaser, the pair went their separate ways, but continued to work on music. Gerrard’s most high profile work to date is probably the soundtrack to the Russell Crowe film Gladiator. It would be nice to hope that there were folk who were intrigued and delighted enough by that album to go and investigate further…

They are now back working together, and signed to PIAS, and about to release their first album in sixteen years, Anastasis. the tracklisting to which is as follows:


1. Children Of The Sun
2. Anabasis
3. Agape
4. Amnesia
5. Kiko
6. Opium
7. Return Of The She-King
8. All In Good Time

Amnesia has been made available as a free track to download. ON the basis of this alone, it’s time to start getting very excited very soon…

Stream the track here

Download the track, free and legally, below

Does there have to be a reason?


Spoek Mathambo deserves a proper introduction and he’ll hopefully be getting a piece on here very soon.

For now, check out his astonishing reworking of Joy Division’s ‘She’s Lost Control’ and a video that could have been directed by Anton Corbijn himself.

…and when you want to buy it, it’s on his 2010 album Mshini Wam.

Presenting…Tamara Schlesinger


Lead singer with London-based 6 Day Riot, Glasgow-born Tamara Schlesinger is shortly to release her new solo album The Procession, on August 6. This will come out via her own label, tantrum Records.

The first track to do the rounds is the single ‘Again.’ A deceptively simple song, built around looped a capella vocals, it is curiously addictive, and it feels like something is missing when it stops playing. It bodes well for the album, and shows why she’s made an impact on the folk scene as well as the indie scene.

The album, incidently, was funded by Creative Scotland. The album saw her record in her native Glasgow for the first time and experiment with a new sound and a new way of working, namely the aforementioned weaving of a capella vocals and working with what is hinted as being the cream of Scotland’s musicians. Check out ‘Again’ here: