The continued rise of Chvrches

Chvrches - Elliot Lee Hazel

Following on two excellent singles released in the last year ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Recover’, Chvrches have announced that they will release their third single ‘Gun’ on July 15, both as download bundles on heavyweight 12″ vinyl, pink no less! It’s an awesome tune, which you can stream below.

Whilst there’s no release date for an LP yet, the band – Iain Cook, Lauren Mayberry and Martin Doherty – have seen their profile continue to rise, and performances at T in the Park and Reading and Leeds, amongst others, should see a continuation of this upward trajectory. They deserve it.

Album Review: Sparrow and the Workshop


Sparrow and the Workshop -‘Murderopolis’ (Song, By Toad Records)

This is the third album by Glasgow’s Sparrow and the Workshop and their first for Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad Records. Lead by Belfast-born and Chicago-raised Jill O’Sullivan this new record sees the band developing further and hopefully about to achieve the success they have always deserved, with what is their most accessible and best album to date.

Earlier records had more of a folky feel, while this one sees them still sounding nicely dark, but with a more rocky feel, with a touch of glam (though definitely not glam rock). But think PJ Harvey circa To Bring You My Love or Cat Power when she’s not in meltdown mode, and you’re…well, a little bit closer to seeing how great this record is.

The band have been deservedly getting more coverage with the two lead-off singles from this album, the welcome return that was ‘Shock Shock’ and the even better ‘The Faster You Spin.’It’s not just about the singles, though, the opening ‘Valley of Death’ and ‘Darkness’ get the record off to a very fine start that continues through most of the record.


Murderopolis is released on Song, By Toad Records on May 27.

Album Review: Laura Marling


Laura Marling -‘Once I Was An Eagle’ (Virgin)

My first encounter with Laura Marling was back in 2009, when I saw her supporting Daniel Johnston. I hadn’t heard her debut record Alas I Cannot Swim at that point but I was impressed enough by what I heard. However, when I did hear her solo records I didn’t really connect with them. I went through some years of being swamped in submissions of singer-songwriters, to the point that I was turned off musically by those of either sex.

In fact I horrified one friend when I dismissed Ms. Marling and said ‘Look! I’ve still got my Joni Mitchell records.’ Well, sorry Amanda and sorry Laura Marling, because it would appear I have done you a great disservice. I started to wonder if this album might be more up my street when I heard the first track to do the rounds from this record ‘Master Hunter.’

And then the album arrived. And with the opening salvo of ‘Take The Night Off’ and ‘I Was An Eagle’ that this album, recorded with Ethan Johns it’s really not another singer-songwriter record. There’s a toughness here, and yet a dreaminess at the same time. Proof that intensity does not mean that you have to put the amps up to 11.

And I’ve gone back to listen to this album again, and I’m impressed by how good it is. Like a lot of records, it does dip a little about two-thirds of the way through, and (maybe this is to do with being a child of the vinyl-era, when albums tended to be shorter), but it regains it’s stride on the last two tracks ‘Little Bird’ and ‘Saved These Words.’

It’s a fair cop, guv…I was wrong.


Once I Was An Eagle is out on Virgin on May 27.

Stream the album before release over at the Guardian

New Sparrow and the Workshop video

Sparrow and the Workshop are set to release their third album, Murderopolis next week. The video for ‘The Faster You Spin’ can be seen at the top. It really has to be seen to be believed.

Oh, and the album is the finest record they have made so far. And it’s out on Song, By Toad Records.

They are also playing the following dates:

13th June: LeithLate (afterparty)Edinburgh –Tickets
14th June: Neu! Reekie! 34 – The Poetry Club (next to SWG3), Glasgow – Tickets
22nd June: Insider Festival,Aviemore – Tickets
24th June: The Lexington, London – Tickets
28th June: Stockton Calling Festival, Stockton on Tees – Tickets

Still here – sod you, hackers!


A few days ago this blog was attacked by a hacker who managed to bring it down.

I’m now back and hopefully with fewer problems.

I’d posted this video the other day, in one of my ongoing ‘Does There Have To Be A Reason?’ things.

Northern Ireland’s Therapy? are still going strong, you should give ‘Screamager’ a listen and then go and buy (and listen to as well, obviously) their awesome Troublegum LP from 1994.

* Thanks to the person who left me feedback saying how great Troublegum is, the entire post disappeared, but I wanted you to know I agree with you!

Album Review: The National


The National -‘Trouble Will Find Me.’ (4AD)

For whatever reason, I seemed to be about the only person who couldn’t connect with The National’s last album, High Violet. So it is with delight that I can announce that I have well and truly fallen in love with Trouble Will Find Me.

In fact, you know you’re onto a good thing with an album when you want to play the album again before you’ve even finished it. I’ve got a whole heap of albums to work through, and this album tempts me : ‘they can wait another day. Enjoy me again.’

‘Demons’ is the first track from the album to do the rounds, but it’s one of many excellent tracks on here, like the opener ‘I Should Live In Salt’ and ‘Fireproof.’ The whole album is sublime, and in fact, I knew I was falling for it when I kept trying to find negatives to balance the review…To hell with it. Superb, sublime and even when it’s melancholy, it’s not drag-you-down depressing.

So, a major thumbs-up from me. Go and check it out.


Trouble Will Find Me is released by 4AD on May 20.

The return of Camera Obscura


Any new release from Camera Obscura is always a cause for celebration, and so it is that the band have annoucned that June will see the release of their fifth album (and second for 4AD) Desire Lines.

Recent single ‘Do It Again’ is an upbeat affair…

…meanwhile, ‘Fifth In Line To the Throne’ features Neko Case on backing vocals and is almost unbearably sad.

Camera Obscura -‘Fifth In Line To the Throne.’ mp3

According to the press bumf, the band’s singer Traceyanne Campbell has said ”Fifth In Line To The Throne’ is a song about someone in a seemingly perfect relationship but there is a dark underside to it. We wanted to sound menacing and give folks the creeps. I believe Princess Beatrice is fifth in line by the way.”
The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Intro
2. This Is Love (Feels Alright)
3. Troublemaker
4. William’s Heart
5. New Year’s Resolution
6. Do It Again
7. Cri Du Coeur
8. Every Weekday
9. Fifth In Line To The Throne
10. I Missed Your Party
11. Break It To Me Gently
12. Desire Lines

Presenting…Atlas Genius


Atlas Genius are a duo, of two brothers from Adelaide, Australia: Keith (vocals and guitars) and Michael Jeffery (drums). While most bands end up in the studio after having gigged for a while, in their case they seem to have done things a little differently. They built their own studio where they could write and record music for their newly formed band 3 years before they even played their first live show as Atlas Genius.

And this week, their first album When It Was Now, has been released in the UK. It dropped into the 17 Seconds inbox last night and the tracks that I have heard so far are mighty fine. The weather in Scotland may still be positively wintry (I mean, dammit, it’s only halfway through May) but when you hear their music, it feels like Spring and Summer are with you.

There’s no UK dates that I can see as yet, but here’s a couple of tracks to whet your appetite.

‘Centered On You’


Meanwhile, unless you’ve no interest in modern music and/or have been under a rock for the last month, you’ll know that Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky from their forthcoming album Random Access Memories is pretty much unavoidable right now.

And a cover of the XX’s ‘Islands’ to whet your appetite yet further!

This Friday Night in Edinburgh!


This Friday night will see a gig I was supposed to be putting on at the Dalkeith Arts Centre moved to Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire.

Midas Fall will be making their return to Edinburgh, to play their first gig here for nearly three years. With them will be Tom Morris from Her Name Is Call playing a solo set, and up and coming Edinburgh band Glassbooks.

Midas Fall released their sophomore album Wilderness last month (Read review here) and rather fine it is too.

Glassbooks, who I profiled back in January are in the middle of exams, but are taking a break to play this gig.

Be there!

Album Review: By The Rivers


By The Rivers-‘By the Rivers’ (Kompyla Records)

If on paper, By The Rivers might not sound a great proposition (six young white guys playing reggae) a quick blast of their music blasts away your preconceptions AND prejudices. I think I was in a cynical, grumpy mood (just for a change) when this first popped into my inbox. Within a short space of time I was genuinely uplifted.

The band take their name not from a Boney M ‘classic’ (*cough*) but because the band were formed by two guys from Leicester named after rivers, Nile Barrow and Jordan Birtles. Expanded to a six-piece, right from the off with opener ‘Vulture’ this album makes you long for proper weather and a decent summer.

And hell, even if it doesn’t shine out there (and this is Scotland I’m writing in), By The Rivers are a joy, Goddamit. In a just world, this sparkling debut would be the sound of summer. This can be an unjust world, but I’m going to do my bit and play this loud…


By The Rivers is out now on Kompyla

An interview with By The Rivers will appear here shortly.