Gig Review: Meursault/Found/Withered Hand

Meursault/Found/Withered Hand

Edinburgh Liquid Rooms, April 26

Put on as part of Haddowfest, even before a note had been played, on paper this was a fantastic gig featuring three of Edinburgh’s finest acts. And given the profile that both Meursault and Withered Hand now have – having headlined the much bigger Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh in their own respective rights- at this point in their respective careers it could be argued that this was an intimate gig.

Doors were at seven so I was aghast to arrive at twenty-past seven to find Dan Willson and his band well into their set. Focusing on new songs, they sounded brilliant, and when the long-awaited follow-up to Good News appears, don’t expect it simply to be part 2 on the evidence of tonight.

‘Hi, we’re Found…we think.’ Found have parted company with bassist Tommy Perman, but the new look, two-piece band are now trading in rather fine analogue electronica. Their most recent album, 2011’s Factorycraft saw them reaching new heights critically and commercially, so let us hope that they continue. ‘Bangin’ has been the description of their recent shows -and I would agree.

Neil Pennycook and his merry men take to stage with a reminder from the compere that they have been longlisted for the Scottish Album Of The Year Award, alongside obvious pals like Paws, Errors and RM Hubbert and commercial heavyweights like Calvin Harris and Emelie Sandé. To my shame, I hadn’t seen a full band show from Meursault before, but I’m in quite a hurry to see them again. If their third album, Something For The Weakened demonstrated that they had evolved from folk-meets-electronica (don’t you dare call them folktronica!), then live this is one step even further. Opening with ‘Flittin’ they show that actually they can rock -but on their own terms.

This is perhaps best demonstrated by ‘Crank Resolutions’ which live is more in keeping with the magnificent melancholia of The Blue Nile or Mogwai. It’s not to say that Meursault are a miserable band -live on stage Neil Pennycook is on fine form, and quite the cheery bloke. He even dedicates ‘Dull Spark’ to Oskar ‘who is four today!’ Between their first album in 2008 Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues and the present there’s an impressive trajectory, and it will be interesting to see what Neil and co. do next. THere will be an ever-growing crowd of obnservers waiting, too…

The long overdue return of Black Sabbath


Where exactly did heavy metal begin? The phrase is said to begin with the line in Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild’. There’s certain bands that laid the groundwork for it in the sixties, amongst which Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience would be forerunners, and The Who (‘My Generation’ and ‘Substitute’), early stuff by The Kinks (‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘All Day And All Of the Night’), and even The Beatles (‘Revolution’ and ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy).’

However, perhaps the band with the most claim to have truly invented heavy metal is Birmingham’s Black Sabbath.* And this year sees the release of 13, the first album in 35 years to reunite singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tommy Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler (drummer Bill Ward has been replaced by Rage Against The Machine’s Brad Wilk).

My favourite Sabbath albums are probably still Black Sabbath and Paranoid, though I enjoy Sabbath Bloody Sabbath as well. To list all the bands who have been influenced by Black Sabbath would take a long time, but when you consider sources as diverse as Slipknot and The Cardigans** have claimed them as an inspiration, that shows the length of the appeal of a band that the critics of the time hated. You can hear them on stoner metal bands, goth bands (well over a decade before goth rock was even termed), grunge, thrash, death…

The album tracklisting is as follows:

‘End Of The Beginning’
‘God is Dead?’
‘Age Of Reason’
‘Live Forever’
‘Damaged Soul’
‘Dear Father’

The bonus deluxe edition tracks are:

‘Peace of Mind’

Stream the awesome first single ‘God Is Dead?’ (note the significance of the question mark).

*yes, I’m aware of the importance of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but Sabbath consolidated the whole thing, frankly.

** yes, really. The Swedish band covered ‘Iron Man’ ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ and ‘Changes.’

The return of Mick Harvey


Mick Harvey has certainly had a pretty interesting life. Starting off alongside Nick Cave in The Boys Next Door, which then morphed into The Birthday, he then joined Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 1983, for much of the next twenty-five years and played pretty much most of the instruments in the band at one time or another.

He also worked with PJ Harvey on Let England Shake, one of the best records of this century. She’s one of the collaborators on his new, sixth solo album, which is out next week, entitled FOUR (Acts Of Love). This is a song cycle, actually divided into three parts. As well as PJ Harvey on ‘Glorious’ there are four cover versions on the record; The Saints’ ‘The Story of Love’, Van Morrison’s ‘The Way Young Lovers Do’, Exuma’s ‘Summertime in New York’ and Roy Orbison’s ‘Wild Hearts (Run Out of Time).’

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Praise the Earth (Wheels of Amber and Gold)
2. Glorious
3. Midnight on the Ramparts
4. Summertime in New York
5. Where There’s Smoke (before)

6. God Made the Hammer
7. I Wish That I Were Stone
8. The Way Young Lovers Do
9. A Drop, An Ocean
10. The Story of Love

11. Where There’s Smoke (after)
12. Wild Hearts
13. Fairy Dust
14. Praise the Earth (An Ephemeral Play)

From Act 2, you can download the rather gorgeous ‘I Wish That I Were Stone’ which is only a minute and a half long, and yet, really rather moorish…

Presenting…Harvey Lanes


Harvey Lanes is the Edinburgh band, led by multi-instrumentalist Tim Young. Formerly known as Chancer, he has been tipped by Vic Galloway from BBC Scotland, and also appeared on the most recent album by UNKLE.

In his own words, a full length, self produced album has emerged from the depths of some hard drives, and will be released on May 1 on the band’s own label, Curved. There’s a jazzy, trippy feel to these which makes me want to investigate further.

The album’s called Sines, and I think it’s fair to say that if you’ve enjoyed work by the likes UNKLE, then I think you’ll enjoy this, too. If you only have time to check out one track, go for ‘Planting’ which manages to cover an impressive amount of ground in six and a half minutes…

Forthcoming from Scott Walker


I don’t normally run many news pieces in here, but when there’s a box set coming of the first five Scott Walker albums, that’s worth shouting about, right?

Right. Scott: The Collection 1967-1970 contains his first five solo albums (Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3, Scott 4 and Til The Band Comes In). Amazing pieces of work in their own right, and with awesome songs on it. It’s out on June 3.

I think I picked up on Scott Walker in my mid-twenties, as I was working my way through the influences. He’d been a big influence on David Bowie, Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope. Plus I’d loved Marc Almond’s cover of ‘Jacky’
, which was a hit in 1991. This wasn’t a Walker original, but he’d made it his own, and Almond’s cover, looking back, is just as much a tribute to Walker as Jacques Brel, the author.

You can see the tracklisting here.

Meanwhile, here’s a few videos for songs from the collection. Enjoy.

From Scott ‘Amsterdam.’

From Scott 2 ‘Plastic Palace People.’

From Scott 3 ‘Winter Night’

From Scott 4 ‘The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)’

From Til The Band Comes In ‘The War Is Over (Sleepers).’



All these years later, there are still a handful of labels who, no matter who they signed, the fact that that their back catalogue and history is so strong, I have to check it out.

I’d include the following on that list: Chemikal Underground, Warp, Matador…and obviously 4AD.

The latest signing to the label is an artist called Sohn (pronounced Sonn), which I have to confess was a new one on me, but the following is seriously awesome electronica. Actually, seriously awesome, full stop. However he is -and the press release tells me selected info, this artist who escaped London for Vienna, whoever they are (for all I know, it could be a fat , balding man in his late seventies or a skinny hipster in his early twenties has a knack for making extremely emotional music) is producing great stuff.

Check these out, from before he signed to 4AD. If you only have time for one track, I suggest ‘Warnings.’

As I mentioned earlier, he has signed to 4AD and his first single for the label is ‘Bloodflows.’

PS – this Guardian article may answer some of my (and your questions)

The return of Daft Punk


Do statistics tell us anything about how good music actually is?

Well, probably not if you consider the very lowly chart placings for some of the greatest albums ever (Astral Weeks, The Velvet Underground & Nico etc.. etc..) but consider this:
The awesome new single from Daft Punk, ‘Get Lucky’ has broken streaming records and has also shot straight into no.3 in the UK charts after only being on sale for two days.

Taken from their forthcoming fourth album Random Access Memories, the single not only features vocals from Pharrell Williams but disco legend Nile Rodgers (without whom, the lives of so many acts, including Queen, Madonna and pretty much all hip-hop would have turned out very differently) on guitar.

Bring on May 20, say I but for now, listen to this and then go and buy it.

More from Lana Del Rey


Barely a few weeks have passed since Lana Del Rey’s cover version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel#2’ started doing the rounds. But there is now an equally good cover -IMHO- of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Summer Wine.’

This time, the song and video feature her boyfriend James-Barrie O’Neill of Kassidy fame.

The original can be heard below:

You can read about ‘Summer Wine’ – nothing to do with the long-running Last Of The Summer Wine, by the way – over at Wiki.

Other cover versions that I’d like her to consider are ‘Some Velvet Morning’ ‘ Nights In White Satin’ and ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’…

Gig review: Peace/Superfood


Edinburgh Electric Circus, April 17.

At the start of 2013, there was much hope from certain sections that 2013 would see a return to guitar-based music (witness the fawning adoration laid at the door of Palma Violets, if you can have missed it). I’m no longer of an age where I perceive it as guitar fans vs. pop music, but in the (very subjective) view of good vs. bad music. Peace have had a lot of bigging-up from the media, their debut album In Love has been hailed by the music press and the album debuted in the top 20. The gig is either sold out or pretty close, and it’s packed to the rafters. Largely by people young enough to be my children…

Superfood have, according to my research, built up a profile in their hometown of Birmingham and are yet to sign to anyone. Peace reportedly have a bandcrush on them, but the problem is that there’s precious little to get excited about them on tonight’s showing at least. Within five minutes, my +1 for the night has decided that a) their bass player is cute (she is) and b) that the singer’s hairline is receeding (inclined to agree). The music is just more indie-by-numbers. Sorry guys (and gal) I don’t care who your celeb fans are, you’re going to have to try harder than this.

The crowd goes mental when Peace walk on, and it becomes pretty clear that despite the ‘no crowd-surfing’ signs up, there are some people in here who are just not going to listen. To the uninitiated, Peace are 90s influenced (the opening track on their debut is called ‘Higher Than The Sun’) and my +1 and I agree in the car on the way home that there’s definitely a Pink Floyd meets Libertines thing going on here as well.

I’m not so completely au fait with the debut as yet, but listening to it again afterwards I think I hear more originality on the album than I do live. For the moment. There’s not necessarily a huge amount of substance – but maybe there doesn’t need to be. Hearing the crowd singing along with ‘Float Forever’ it suggests that are very definitely breaking through and making an impact. They can write anthems, and if they can make a crowd behave like this, it’s clear that the next time they come to Scotland they will be able to play far bigger venues than The Arches or The Electric Circus (no, I’m not slagging those venues, just pointing out that they are on an upward curve).

Songs like ‘Toxic’ and ‘Scumbag’ hit the spot, too, and if the +1 isn’t won over, there’s plenty of folk who are…

Interview: Trwbador

trwabdor Out
Fabulous Welsh duo Trwbador tell 17 Seconds what makes them tick…

Please introduce yourselves

We’re Trwbador, a producing/songwriting duo from mid Wales.

How did the band come together?

We both lived in the same area, both moved to the city and started making music together then we both moved back from the city to rural Wales. We were both producers and songwriters wanting similar things.

Who are your influences?

Owain: Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Marvin Gaye, Air, Wu-Tang, Broadcast, Kate Bush, Fugazi, Steve Reich and Jao Gilberto….That’ll do for now!

Angharad: Minimalism, Classic FM, Tumblr Images, Video Games and Chihuahuas.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a gig?

At one of our first gigs, there was a man on the floor making out with a plastic robot toy dinosaur.

Do you read your press? If not, why?

I do (Angharad) but Owain doesn’t, He doesn’t like reading about his work in case it affects things we are working on at that moment or in the future, however that aspect does not bother me as I need to be aware where we sit for our label work.

Do you think the word ‘indie’ still means something in 2013? If so, what?

Owain: I associate it with guitar music, but I guess it should mean music released ‘independently’. It’s the word ‘Unsigned’ that is harder to define nowadays, for instance; where do you draw the line? You see in festival competitions etc, and radio shows etc, for unsigned artists it’s usually the ones who can afford PR that get places.

Who would you most like to cover one of your songs, and which one?

Fugazi- Red Handkerchiefs

What are your favourite albums?

Stan Getz and João GilbertoGetz/Gilberto, Finest Ego Faces Vol.4, Steve Reich Music for 18 musicians, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci Sleep/Holiday, James Yorkston Year of The Leopard, Kate Bush Never Forever

If you could work with one other musical act, alive or dead, who would it be?


What are your plans for the next twelve months?

To write and record the second album, find a few more people to work alongside, do another tour in August 2013, and release another ‘Owlet Music Compilation’.

Trwbador’s self-titled album has now been put back to April 29 (Owlet Music), but you can stream it below.