Gig Review: Adrian Crowley/Star Wheel Press

Adrian Crowley/Star Wheel Press

Edinburgh Electric Circus, May 10

It’s a Friday night in old Edinburgh, and it’s a pleasant surprise to discover that the support act to Adrian Crowley is the acclaimed Aberfeldy band Star Wheel Press. Their album Life Cycle Of A Falling Bird
picked up some high profile fans back in 2011, and what imp[resses about the six piece band live is their larger-than-life (in the best possible way) frontman Ryan Hannigan.

Right from the off on show opener ‘Hey Lord (An Existential Enquiry), his personality wins over the small crowd (apart from the stag party sitting getting drunk in the corner, but he’s far more generous about them than the audience and bar staff), coming on like a Scottish Tom Waits.He’s a great raceonteur, telling us about how he had a dream about the Scottish Music Industry being run by the mafia and also reading us renaissance literature. But as well as this there’s songs like the fantastic ‘Being Michael Jackson’s Son’ and the finishing ‘Subbuteo’ (no, not the Admiral Fallow song!) to show how flaming excellent they are.

Galway’s Adrian Crowley is on the penultimate night of his tour, which started back in September. He’s been touring the really rather fine I See Three Birds Flying, his first album for the mighty Chemikal Underground and his sixth album in total.

Armed with just his electric guitar and effects pedals that are used to gorgeous effect, with just a few picked chords he manages to shush the crowd. It’s beautiful and sad, but what could make for a difficult set in any circumstance is balanced with the fact that his humour is so warm.

Anecdotes about people grumbling about him putting his guitars on seats in busy trains are moments of lightness (light and shade? perhaps) in amongst songs like ‘Alice Among The Pines’ ‘The Beekeeper’s Wife’ and ‘Long Distance Swimmer.’ It may be sad music, but it’s also not depressing in in his hands/voice/guitars/whatever.

A rather excellent night out…

Album Review: eagleowl


eagleowl -‘This Silent Year’ (Fence)

It feels like this has been a long time coming. eagleowl formed back in 2005, and in that time, their recorded output has amounted to two EPs and one single. But as a cliche-speaker will tell you, it’s quality not quantity, and there’s been an ever-growing number of us who have been waiting for This Silent Year.

Listening to this album, I tried to explain to my wife -who likes them, too – why I think eagleowl are so special. In some ways, when I heard their Into The Fold EP in 2010, its’ sheer completeness was overwhelming. In some ways, it was the final piece of the jigsaw falling into place; that if I couldn’t write songs like this, it was best to leave it to the experts. Bart Owl, his trusty sidekicks double bassist Clarissa Cheong and violinist Malcolm Benzie (and an ever-expanding band) on delivering this album -finally!- prove most definitely that they are the experts.

If eagleowl have their detractors (fools!) who argue that they simply follow the path of Low and (Smog), then those detractors miss the point. Because the gestation of this record has produced a record that sees them spreading their, umm, wings musically further than ever before. ‘Summerschool’ opens with feedback, yet progresses into a song that sounds more alt-country than anything they have produced so far. There’s collaboration with Woodpigeon on the appropriately entitled ‘eagleowl vs. woodpigeon’ (not to be confused with ‘Woodpigeon vs. eagleowl’ on Woodpigeon’s Die Stadt Muzikanten). It sounds like eagleowl and it’s as good as a debut as we had hoped for. And there’s even the most gentle of profane humour on ‘It’s So Funny’ which manages to mock Cliff Richard (you’ll have to listen to the track to find out why).

So. We’d love a sophomore album, folks, but in your own time…


This Silent Year is released on Fence on May 13.

The return of Editors

After a four-year absence and a line-up change, The Editors are preparing to release their fourth album The Weight Of Your Love on July 1.

First single ‘A Ton Of Love’ sounds like The Editors, but -and here’s the rub- it also sounds like the effects of recording in Nashville have filtered through. Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams have joined the band following the departure of founding member Chris Urbanowicz – get your ears and eyes around the first fruits to appear.


The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

“The Weight”
“A Ton of Love”
“What Is This Thing Called Love”
“Two Hearted Spider”
“The Phone Book”
“Bird of Prey”

Presenting…Deap Vally


Reportedly having met at a needlework class, Deap Vally are the rock’n’roll duo of Lindsey Troy (guitar, vocals) and Julie Edwards (drums). Seemingly beloved of hipsters – don’t let that put you off, as the tracks I have heard so far suggest that they could kick any hipsters butt from here to Goa (or wherever they’re going on holiday before YOU do).

About half a dozen tracks can be streamed over at Spotify, including this, the forthcoming single ‘Baby I Call Hell.’

Their debut album is called Sistronix, it’s out on June 24 and this is the tracklisting:

End Of The World
Baby I Call Hell
Walk Of Shame
Gonna Make My Own Money
Your Love
Bad For My Body
Women Of Intention
Raw Material
Six Feet Under

…let me know what you think.

Album Review: Thirty Pounds Of Bone


Thirty Pounds Of Bone -‘I Cannot Sing You Here, But For Songs Of Where.’ (Armellodie)

The third album from Johnny Lamb is a beautiful, lo-fi folky treat. Released through Armellodie, who have been consistently been releasing great records for several years now, the record sees him using and – this is meant as a compliment – abusing and subverting folk traditions.

So, no, this is not another bloody singer-songwriter record (Thank God). His interest is in place and the idea of how the folksong must change for its time; a very loud raspberry at those who felt (and for all I know still feel – blokes with fuck-awful jumpers and an obsession with real ale) that folksongs should only be sung a capella in the original native accents.

The worlds of folk drone and Kevin Shields might seem worlds apart – but on this album they make sense. And lyrically Mr. Lamb is trying to work out where he stands in the world. It sounds like a lonely journey at times -but one we would be advised to try and share.

You don’t need to counsel or advise, just listen…


I Cannot Sing You Here, But For Songs Of Where is out now on Armellodie.

Single Review: Rob St. John


Rob St. John -‘Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey’/’Shallow Grey.’ (Song, By Toad Records)

I’ve long been a supporter of Rob St. John and his album Weald in 2011 was a fine thing indeed.

This is his first release since that debut album (though he also performs as part of eagleowl, who are about to drop their utterly brilliant debut on Fence any day now). It’s two rather fine folk songs, both of them now over a hundred years old, on one slab of 7″ vinyl, and they are utterly beautiful. ‘Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey’ is a Lancastrian song originally sung to Cecil Sharp (a man to whom English folk music owes more than possibly be imagined) in 1905. It’s described as being ‘a song of the Industrial Revolution: crumbling mill towns butting up against moorland and trees growing out of chimneys.’ Meanwhile, the b-side (or is that AA? It’s hard to know in the digital age, and I may be the only person left who still cares about such things), ‘Shallow Grey’ is a West Indian sea shanty collected by H.E. Piggott and Percy Grainger from the singing of John Perring in Dartmouth, Devon in 1908. Whether these songs are a century plus old or not, even at face value the package is a thing of beauty.

Limited to 250 copies (I have Rob St. John singles limited to 100!) track it down and check it out. You may not hear something so beautiful and heartbreaking this year.


Album Review: Savages


Savages -‘Silence Yourself’ (Pop Noire/Matador)

Bloody hell.

The hotly anticipated debut from Savages does not disappoint. Not one iota.

‘Sounds like a bloody racket!’ quipped one of my colleagues as the pre-release album stream thundered out of the computer speakers at work.

Yes. It is a bloody racket. It’s dark, powerful, uncompromising music -and all the better for it. It’s menacing. Drenched in feedback. It does not care what you think. The promise that was hinted at on last year’s ‘Husbands’/’Flying To Berlin’ debut single is here in spades.

This is an album to be played loud. This is an album that some won’t be able to handle. This is an album that follows in the footsteps of a heritage of bands like The Slits, The Raincoats, Throwing Muses and Sleater-Kinney, amongst others, whilst not necessarily sounding all that much like any of those bands.

Bugger believing the hype. Savages are here in your face, and taking no prisoners.

Are you up for the ride?


Silence Yourself is released on Pop Noire/Matador on May 6.

Ahead of the album release, the album can be streamed over at the band’s website.