Album Review – The Last Battle

The Last Battle 2014

The Last Battle -‘Lay Your Burden Down.’ (Beard Of Truth)

Edinburgh’s The Last Battle, formed from the ashes of Thieves In Suits, managed the impressive feat of releasing their debut album Heart Of the Land, Soul Of The Sea a year to the day since their first gig. It was a stunning album, and the final ‘Soul Of The Sea’ remains one of the most beautiful songs ever to grace this scribe’s ears.

In the intervening years, there have been singles, EPs (check their bandcamp pageand line-up changes, but the thing that remains on their sophomore album is the vision of songwriter Scott Longmuir. The band have gigged with the likes of King Creosote, Withered Hand, Kid Canaveral, Meursault and eagleowl (if these names mean nothing to you, then for shame!). Without wishing to undersell their debut, that was a gorgeous lo-fi folk record; here they’ve worked with an outsider producer and shown that polish needn’t be a bad thing. It’s got the essence of The Last Battle but The Last Battle Version 2.0 shows that they can look to other influences without losing the sense of what it is that they are about.

Thus ‘You & Me’ shows a Vaselines’ influence, while ‘The Crunching’ shows drummer Liam O’Hare drawing on hip-hop influences. Another interim cover was Warren G’s ‘Regulate’ which they pulled off with aplomb, along with their take on Nirvana’s ‘Pennyroyal Tea.’ ‘Perfecting The Art (Of Saying Nothing’ and ‘Wherever Our Feet Take Us’ have already done the rounds as singles, and the end result is an album that is a confident leap on from their debut.

For too many years, Edinburgh has been perceived as playing second fiddle to Glasgow. No longer -and with their sophomore album, The Last Battle lead the charge. And as for a third album, in your own time, guys and girl, in your own time.


Lay Your Burden Down is out on Beard Of Truth on May 5.

Does there have to be a reason?


The weather has been – again -bloody awful. It frequently is in Scotland, which we moan about -and yet, sometimes it makes things utterly beautiful.

Eurythmics’ single ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’ was taken from their third album, Touch. While I’ve never really cared for the faux-Calypso of ‘Right By your Side’ but I do find ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’ utterly stunning.

The video was filmed in Orkney and according to Wikipedia ‘The music video, featuring both Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, was directed by Stewart, John Gerschfield and Jon Roseman, and released in December 1983, a month before the single came out. The video opens with a passing aerial shot of The Old Man of Hoy on the Island of Hoy in the Orkney Islands before transitioning to Lennox walking along the rocky shore and cliff top. She later explores a derelict cottage while wearing a nightgown and holding a lantern. Stewart stalks her with a video camera. In many scenes the two are filmed separately, then superimposed into the same frame. The result is that the viewer may perceive one as being a ghost in the world of the other.’

The song was later covered by the Associates’ Billy Mackenzie on his solo album Auchtermatic

Stream The Last Battle’s new album

The Last Battle 2014

It’s been a long time coming – but The Last Battle’s sophomore album Lay Your Burden Down will be released on May 5 through Beard Of Truth.

I’ll write a review next week, but for the meantime you should be aware that there are two launch gigs taking place next week.

The first takes place on May 1 at Glasgow’s THe Roxy 171 with support from solo sets from Meursault and Randolph’s Leap (I’ve championed both these acts on the blog over the years, so if you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to put this right), The second takes place on May 2 with support from J Wright Presents and Lidh at The Liquid Rooms. It will unquestionably be awesome.

And you can stream the album in its entirety below.

An update on my anti-touting petition

ticket touts

The English Cricketing Board gets tough. Time for music to do the same?

As regular readers (and those who get re-directed here by various tweets etc.. thank you) will know, in the last three weeks I have launched an anti-touting petition .

I was spurred into action by the Kate Bush tickets debacle, but it wasn’t about me failing to get tickets for Kate Bush. It’s about the way in which punters are fleeced by people who have no interest in the events other than a way to make a quick buck, with ridiculous mark-ups.

When I started the petition, Maria Miller was the Culture Secretary in the UK. Unless you take no interest in Politics (in which case, you are setting yourselves up to be completely exploited) you will have noticed she has resigned. The new Culture Secretary is Sajid Javid, or to give him his full title, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities.

So the petition is directed to him, rather than Prime Minister David Cameron. Within a matter of hours of Mr. Javid being appointed, it emerged that he had praised ticket touts as being ‘classic entrepeneurs.’ Now, I’m not a Tory voter – but I can imagine that there were those within his own party cringing at this. And whilst the eagle-eyed will point out that this has been attributed to him three years ago, he has not retracted it.

It’s not just about music – it’s about sport and theatre, too. Watch this summer as at major sporting events touts make a killing. This money won’t go to anyone but the touts. I’d be willing to be they won’t be paying tax on these earnings (remember how Al Capone was caught in the end?) I can understand that there are those people who buy a ticket and then cannot go, who want to get their money’s worth. Fine. But anyone who thinks that this is what ticket touts are doing…well, you probably fell for the ‘gullible’s just been taken out of the dictionary, too’ didn’t you?

It may seem hard to stop ticket touting. But just because there is a market for something, doesn’t make it it a case for so-called entrepeneurs to get involved. It exploits vulnerable punters and waving the touts along with the ‘well, if people are stupid enough to pay for it’ really doesn’t legitimise it. There might be a market for someone dealing drugs outside a primary school – but do you want people to do it? If people are always going to murder other people do we just decriminalise that on the grounds it’s probably going to happen anyway? Far-fetched examples, perhaps but relevant.

So, please, keep up the pressure. Sign the petition and spread the word. We can do this.

Interestingly, there has also been criticism this year of Record Store Day as people have sought to profit and make a killing as soon as possible without letting genuine fans get their hands on the merchandise. Paul Weller has already said he won’t be involved because of inflated prices – and The Quietus has published an excellent article on whether the day is in crisis.

If you would like to sign the petition, please follow this link. Please share and retweet

Album Review – Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies


Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies -‘Dissolver.’ (Monotreme)

Stumbleine’s debut album Spidderwebbed was a delicious mix of shoegazing and electronica when it appeared eighteen months ago. That was an album that was pretty easy to fall in love with. It was then announced that Stumbleine was collaborating with a singer called Violet Skies. Their first release together was this February’s 5-track EP Chasing Honeybees. That EP took a while to grow on me, but eventually it worked its charms on me.

None of the tracks from that EP appear on Dissolver, and while that means that this LP stands alone in its own right, I’ve given this several listens and somehow failed to connect with it. It’s not to say that it’s an bad record, because it isn’t, and there’s some nice enough bits like ‘Whirlpool’ which has been doing the rounds.

However, over the course of the ten tracks here, it just doesn’t make for a terribly convincing whole. Violet Skies’ voice is pleasant enough if not astonishing, and Stumbleine’s production as a whole is still pretty impressive. But when we know that Stumbleine is capable of producing something really special, it just seems to fall short.


Dissolver is released by Monotreme on April 21.

Album Review: Ben Watt

Ben Watt album

Ben Watt – ‘Hendra’ (Caroline International)

It’s been over thirty years since Ben Watt released his first solo album North Marine Drive, and here is his second. In the meantime, he’s been A DJ, writer and most famously one half of Everything But The Girl with his wife Tracey Thorn. Though she took lead vocals on most of EGBT’s material during the two decades they recorded, Watt took lead vocal a few times himself and has the voice to handle it (check out ‘The Night I Heard Caruso Sing’ from 1988’s Idlewild or ‘Talk To Me Like The Sea’ from 1991’s Worldwide.)

I have to confess that this album did take me a few listens to get into, but once I took it all in one go s opposed to dipping in a few times, it made perfect sense. No it doesn’t just pick up where his debut solo album left off there’s been too much water under the bridge for that – and yet, it does continue in the same vein. It features contributions from Bernard Butler, and Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson. The album’s standout track ‘The Levels’ features Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.

It’s a thing of beauty this album, a pastoral work that doffs its cap to the likes of Robert Wyatt (a previous Watt collaborator), Richard Thompson at his most soulful and even John Martin. At times melancholic and at others uplifting, it’s a strong, coherent piece of work -and if he’d like to deliver a third album like this, in his own time, I’m sure many people would welcome it. This humble scribe included…


Hendra is out now on Caroline International

Stream Hendra via Brooklyn Vegan

New video from The Horrors


As mentioned previously on here, The Horrors are to release their fourth album, Luminous on May 5.

They’d made streams available of this track ‘So Now You Know’ – but here is the full video in all its glory. Really rather upbeat and -well- lovely. It may or may not have been shot with the American market in mind, but don’t let your cynicism get in the way of enjoying it.

This has been described as the most anticipated album of 2014 by the NME. I don’t know that that necessarily applies to me (I’m more excited about the forthcoming albums from The Cure and Morrissey – but then I’m 37 not 17, so that may be more than just a little bit significant).

Twin Shadow reinvents the power ballad


I’ve featured Twin Shadow quite a few times here on 17 Seconds over the years, and ‘Five Seconds’ reached no.13 in my Festive Fifty in 2012. George Lewis Jr. has his own take on the 80’s, and as I commented back in 2012 around the time of his second album Confess, whilst it seems unlikely that 4AD would have put out records that sounded like his in the early 80s, somehow it makes perfect sense now.

The power ballad, that 80s musical movement of lighters in the air aloft of soft rock has given us his new single ‘To The Top’ which after a couple of plays I had to buy (lead by example). Turn it up, play it loud and go and buy. No-one talks about Hypnagogic pop anymore (least of all those who invented the concept), but it seems that AOR has become acceptable now.


‘To The Top’ is out now on 4AD.

The continuing story of The Pictish Trail


Pictured above is Johnny Lynch AKA The Pictish Trail. As you’re almost certainly aware (if you have followed the Scottish DiY scene at all in any way shape or form) he used to run the Fence label together with Kenny Anderson AKA King Creosote..

Johnny Lynch now runs Lost Map Records and has signed to Moshi Moshi Records in London. Having released Secret Soundz Vol. 1 & 2 separately in 2008 and 2012 respectively (read my review of Vol. 2 here), the two albums will be released as one package through Moshi Moshi on June 9.

‘Wait Until’ is the new single. He also headlines Big Day In at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus this Sunday (April 20).

For more forthcoming gigs see here, including in-stores over the next week or so and a full tour in May.

Album Review: Call To Mind

Call To Mind The Winter Is White

Call To Mind -‘The Winter Is White’ (Olive Grove Records)

Right from the word go, even when all you could hear of Call To Mind was via their Myspace site (hey, every self-respecting act had a Myspace site in 2008!), it was clear that they had something special. Two years later, when they delivered their debut, self-titled EP, that promise was delivered. And now, six years after they first graced my attention, they deliver their debut album.

Olive Grove Records have delivered a lot of fine material over the past few years, but to my mind, this is their finest release so far. It’s beautiful, and it needs to be heard. Sure, comparisons of this Highland band to the likes of Sigur Ros and The National may seem obvious, but that’s high praise and utterly, totally deserved.

This is music to lose and find yourself in, a record to be played again and again. From the opening of ‘A Family Sketch’ to the last notes of album closer ‘Chemotherapy’ the five piece barely put a foot out of place. The press release says they have a love of Scotland’s outdoors -and strange as it may sound, that spills into the music.

If you still think that epic and ethereal are buzzwords for good, please check this out. And if you care about hearing great acts, make sure you buy this.


The Winter Is White is released on Olive Grove Records on April 14.