Gig Review – Broken Records

Broken Records – Summerhall, Edinburgh, April 26, 2018

Addressing the crowd during this gig, Broken Records frontman Jamie Sutherland tells us that the band’s fourth and latest album What We Might Know was actually made in 2016, and that, therefore, they’ve been sitting on it for a long time. With over a decade having passed since those early gigs and singles prior to signing to 4AD for two albums, they’ve grown older. ‘I never envisaged making a record about approaching middle-age and it’s almost a bitter pill to swallow!’ he tells us.

Of course, that makes it sound like the album and gig are a downer. And they’re so not. If you’ve heard the album, the band sound reinvigorated (no mean feat, considering they didn’t sound tired on any of their records). As this is an album launch, tonight’s sixteen song (count ’em!) set is primarily concerned with the new album. As they rip into ‘Let The Right One In’ it’s so easy to get swept away by the sheer weight of emotion on offer for your aural pleasure. By the time it’s over, Jamie has broken half of the strings on his acoustic guitar. He doesn’t do anything as rockist as replace them for the set.

Curiously, while many bands keep trying to add more and more to their sound as the years go by, Broken Records have actually stripped things right down. The cinematic flourishes which characterised those two 4AD albums at the turn of the decade have gone. When the set finishes with their debut’s opener ‘Nearly Home’ (the only song from that album to get an airing tonight) it gently reminds us just how far they’ve come. Rory Sutherland does still play violin for some of the tracks, but these days he’s far more likely to be playing keyboards on stage.

Bruce Springsteen remains a big influences on Jamie’s writing, minus the bombast, but the band are finding their own type of epic. The single ‘They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone’ should be lighting up festival stages from Boston to Belarus if there was any justice (we all know that when it comes to music, sadly, there often isn’t). There’s other influences creeping in, too – Jamie tells us that ‘To Be Free’ was an attempt to write a song in the vein of Sam Cooke.

What We Might Now reminds those who may have forgotten just how ruddy great Broken Records are. Live there are so many songs that are just begging to be heard – ‘Open Ground,’ ‘The Inbetween’ and ‘Clarity.’ Our ears ring as we walk off into the night, but truly it was worth it.


Album Review – Broken Records

Broken Records – ‘What We Might Know’ (J Sharp Records)

I first encountered Edinburgh’s Broken Records over a decade ago. They were supporting Emma Pollock at the city’s Cabaret Voltaire venue, and there seemed almost too many of them for the stage – seven at the time. They were absolutely fantastic and I saw them numerous times supporting and headlining. They issued several singles and then signed to 4AD, who issued their first two albums, 2009’s Until The Earth Begins To Part and 2010’s Let Me Come Home. Their third album, Weights & Pulleys was released on their own J Sharp Records in 2014, and now, are after a hiatus they have given What We Might Know, again on their own label.

The album opens with the stirring ‘They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone’ and ‘Let The Right One In’ which feel like a call to arms. It must be observed that they’ve never sounded so consistently upbeat on record. That’s not to say they’ve sounded miserable for their career, but the euphoria and energy within is infectious, as typified by a track like ‘The Inbetween’ which explodes like a firework display. A slower, more reflective track like ‘Anytime’ still exudes warmth.

Broken Records have sensibly avoided repeating themselves over the years, and there’s new influences that aren’t discernible on earlier recordings, or if so, much more discreetly. ‘Perfect Hollow Love’ and ‘Someday You’ll Remember Me’ sound like New Order meeting Out Of Time-era R.E.M. with a hint of soul, and while still recognisably Broken Records, it is great to hear them investigating new avenues and incorporating them into their music.

While they’ve always had an ‘epic’ sound to proceedings, if you compare this album to their debut, the sweeping strings have moved away. They still sound like a band who should be filling huge venues on a regular basis, but the early description of them sounding like if ‘Nirvana came from Belaruse’ is not accurate of Broken Records 2018.

That night I saw them in 2007, there was a sense that this was a band who were special. Despite lineup changes, the core essence of this wonderful band remains. Come gather round people, wherever you roam, and admit that Broken Records are as good as they’ve ever been, and still deserving of a big(ger) audience. Despite the time between albums, it has been put to good use, and the final effect is of a band who still have a good deal to offer listeners, as well as explorations of their own…

What We Might Know is out now on J Sharp Records


The return of Broken Records

Having championed them on this blog since 2007, every time there is a new Broken Records release I want to get up and cheer. Should a forty-something man behave this way? Ach, who cares. Broken Records will shortly release their fourth album What We Might Know, on March 30.

The first track from the album is entitled ‘They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone’ – and whether or not you have seen the video or heard the track, you can view it just here:

The band will be playing the following tour dates:

March 31 – Lexington, London

April 21 – Church, Dundee

April 26 – Summerhall, Edinburgh

April 27 – Tolbooth, Stirling

April 28 – Lemon Tree, Aberdeen

The album cover looks like this…

…and the album tracklist is as follows:

  1. They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone
  2. Let The Right One In
  3. Open Ground
  4. The Inbetween
  5. Anytime
  6. Perfect Hollow Love
  7. When All Of This Is Done
  8. So Free
  9. Clarity.
  10. Someday You’ll Remember Me
  11. What We Might Know

17 Seconds Christmas Posts 2014 part 4

I’ve been giving coverage to Broken Records for almost as long as this blog has been going (starting with a review for an early support slot back in August 2007), and it has been absolutely great to see them back with their third album Weights and Pulleys this year. From that album ‘Toska’ made my annual Festive 50, which I published yesterday.

They’ve made a free Christmas single available to download ‘My Beer Drunk Soul Is Sadder Than All The Dead Christmas Trees In The World.’ You can download and stream it at the top of this page. It’s always great to have new additions to the Christmas mixtape…

Gig Review – Broken Records

Broken Records, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, August 2.

I have seen Broken Records live so many times I’ve lost count. So yes, I should probably declare at the start that I am a bit of a fan…

The thing is, they have earned that fandom so totally. The reality is that they are a truly original sounding band. Sure there are plenty of bands that mix folk and rock sounds – yet none do it quite like Broken Records do. Tonight’s gig, at the start of the Edinburgh fringe and a whole host of great acts playing this venue alone over the next month (Meursault, Withered Hand, RM Hubbert with Emma Polloc k and to top it off, Richard Thompson) there’s a buzz about the place. Edinburgh is where Broken Records are from, after all, so this is a homecoming gig, and I sense that there’s a number of people here tonight who have watched them evolve and prosper over the course of three fine albums, several singles and many fine gigs.

Yes, the lineup has changed but it’s very much as a band that we see Broken Records. Jamie Sutherland leads his men with style and panache but watching his brother Rory and Ian Turnbull effortlessly swap instruments remains thrilling, not least when you know that something special is on its way yet again. There’s now two drummers, and a gorgeous mix of strings and brass is still something great to encounter. There’s no need to waste time sneering at the dull likes of Mumford & Sons, when Broken Records show how it could be done.

There was a gap of four years til the release of this year’s Weights & Pulleys album, and if I’ve not lived with these songs as long as the previous work, it’s simply down to time. The likes of ‘Toska’ and ‘So Long, So Late’ fit in effortlessly with the back catalogue. And as for finishing their first set with ‘Nearly Home’ (an album opener that’s as majestic as The Cure’s ‘Plainsong’) and then come on to start the encore with early single ‘Slow Parade’ is a reminder of a series of awesome concerts here in their hometown over the last seven years.

Long may they run.

Album Review – Broken Records


Broken Records -‘Weights and Pulleys.’ (J Sharp Records)

Nearly seven years ago, my first encounter with Broken Records was when all seven of them (as there were, then) walked on stage at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire and I wondered how they were all going to fit. That night they were supporting the newly solo Emma Pollock – and although they were unsigned, it was clear there was something truly great about them.

Fast forward seven years. The band released two fantastic albums through 4AD, then things went rather quiet. But last year there were stirrings, followed by the release earlier this year of a new EP, Toska. And now, four years since their sophomore album, Let Me Come Home, they drop their third album.

It’s reassuring to say that they still sound like Broken Records (once memorably described as being like if Nirvana came from Belarus), they’ve continued to progress and this album has been worth the four year wait. By the end of the opening track ‘Ditty (We Weren’t Ready)’ it’s clear that whatever they’ve been up to in the meantime, they’re back and firing on all cylinders.

It always pained me that they weren’t bigger than they were. Whilst Stadia and arenas are fairly soulless places to watch live music (and to perform as well, I suspect) in my head they were a band who deserved to amass the sort of fanbase to fill those sort of places. And there’s still time for them to do that. It’s impressive to hear a band who can do epic so well and not sound pompous or smug.

Welcome back, boys.


Weights And Pulleys is out now on J Smith Records

The return of Broken Records


I can’t claim to have been the first blogger to have written about Broken Records, but I first wrote about them back in August 2007, when they appeared as the support to Emma Pollock at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire. Over the last six years I’ve seen them many times (I did try to count earlier, and it’s well over half a dozen) and they have been responsible for two utterly brilliant albums in Until The Earth Begins To Part and Let Me Come Home. The former topped my end of year list in 2009 and the latter no.3 in 2010.

So yes, I am a confirmed fan.

And now more good news. March 24 will see the release of the four-track Toska EP, comprising the title track, along with ‘See You On The Way Down’ ‘Ward 3 and ‘Revival.’ Believe me, this is a rleease you will want to own.

For now, they have made the title track available to stream here.

Their new album Weights and Pulleys will follow in May…

Broken Records’ new video


There’s now just one week to go until the release of Broken Records’ excellent sophomore album, Let Me Come Home.

I posted my review a few weeks ago, and I’ve been rather chuffed that the band have linked to it on emails they have sent out.

Today sees the release of the first single from the album, entitled ‘A Darkness Rises Up’ which comes complete with this rather awesome video:

You really should have heard the opening song by now, but if not…

Album review – Broken Records


Broken Records -‘Let Me Come Home.’ (4AD)

Just a year or so after their debut album appeared, Broken Records return with their sophomore effort. The title Let Me Come Home certainly reflects many of the lyrical concerns of their new release, which in singer Jamie Sutherland’s own words saw him ‘thinking about whating on around me in the form of fears and concerns over making relationships work, and a need for security.’ Even before a note is heard -though doubtless by now you’ve heard the opening track ‘A Leaving Song’ as a free download -the album’s pedigree is impressive: it was produced by Tony Doogan (whose worked with other Scots acts like Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian and The Delgados) and the sleeve has been designed by Vaughan Oliver, whose been respnsible for many of 4AD’s sleeves.

The band have evolved over the three years since I first encountered them, supporting Emma Pollock at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire. A few weeks ago I saw them headline at the newly reopened Liquid Rooms. It was a truly phenomenal gig, and speaking to Jamie a few days later he told me he thought it was the best they had ever played.It also marked the last performance with the band of German ‘cellist Arne Kolb and bassist Dave ‘Gill’ Fothergill, the latte now replaced by Craig Ross.

What becomes clear very quickly is that this is not Until the Earth Begins To Part part 2. It still sounds like Broken Records and ‘Ailene’ is perhaps the closest sounding track here to their old record (I don’t mean this as a criticism, by the way). Jamie has spoken of having almost an obssession with films like Badlands, Rumblefish and East of Eden whilst making this album. This album feels almost filmlike in its’ delivery and execution. ‘I used to dream’ is particularly evocative of those films. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that if Wim Wenders were to make Paris, Texas now, he would look to Broken Records to do the soundtrack instead of Ry Cooder.

That said, songs like ‘You Know You’re Not Dead’ and first single ‘A Darkness Rises Up’ are uptempo numbers that show it is possible to do epic without being bombastic. Another highlight of the album is ‘Dia Dos Namarados!’ which features guest vocals from Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow and the Workshop.

The advent of the CD player -nearly thirty years ago now -meant that many bands felt pressured to use up all the available space. At thirty seven minutes, Broken Records use half that, and demonstrate that lightning has most definitely struck twice. Sure I’m a big fan. And the reason is, they’re a bloody fantastic band.


Let Me Come Home will be released on October 25 on 4AD.

Gig review: Broken Records/Sparrow and the Workshop


Picture courtesy of Dylan. Many thanks for letting me use this!

Broken Records/Sparrow and the Workshop, Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh, August 28, 2010.

It’s been a while since I was at the Liquid Rooms. The venue has just opened after refurbishment following the fire in Christmas 2008, which badly burnt the restaurant upstairs and the ensuing water damage affected the Liquid Rooms. But it’s great to see one of Edinburgh’s best venues up and running once more, a place where I have been more times than I can count in the nine years since I moved to Edinburgh, seeing many great acts as support and headliners: Aberfeldy, Hundred Reasons, Cooper Temple Clause, The Rakes, British Sea Power, Franz Ferdinand, Sons & Daughters, Glasvegas…

…and it’s fitting that I should be here with my wife watching Broken Records. By my calculations, it’s the sixth time I’ve seen them, three years to the month since Mrs. 17 Seconds and I saw them supporting Emma Pollock at Cabaret Voltaire. Then they were unsigned, now they are a headline act, about to release their second album on the mighty 4AD.

First up, the support act are the wonderful Sparrow and the Workshop. The Glasgow-based three-piece issued a fine debut in Crystals Fall in April and I hope to see them live again very soon. Interviewing Belfast-born, Chicago-raised singer Jill O’Sullivan a few months ago, she talked very warmly of the Edinburgh music scene. She told me how she met drummer Nick whilst stayiong in London and feeling lonely in London. I’m sorry she had such a miserable-sounding time there for the sounds of it, but grateful that this three-piece have come together to produce such brilliant music. It’s clear that the band are hugely grateful to Broken Records for taking them out on tour the first time. Their country-spaghetti-western feel (and I mean that as a compliment) wins the crowd over, with songs like ‘Crystals’ and ‘Into The Wild.’

Broken Records’ lead singer Jamie Sutherland talks about tonight as being a ‘happy sad occasion.’ Sad, in the sense that Gill Dave ‘Gill’ Fothergill is leaving for ‘pastures new’ (or returning to the world of work, depending on which source you find on google!) and ‘cellist Arne Kolb is returning to Germany for ‘reasons of love.’ So it’s an emotion-packed show, which is utterly, utterly euphoric. The set is interspersed with tracks from the new album Let Me Come Home and the record of of last year, Until The Earth Begins To Part. Jill O’Sullivan adds her bewitching vocals to one track which is one of those moments.

And over a year since the release of their debut record, still it weaves its’ magic. Mrs. 17 Seconds woke up early to listen to it this morning. I sat down to play it before lunch again. It’s still so sweet and fresh. Jamie dedicates ‘Wolves’ to Graeme from the Kays Lavelle for coming to see them and not Phoenix. (No contest, certainly not in this house.) Arne’s ‘cello on ‘If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This’ is described as being his finest hour with the band, and it most certainly is. Debut single ‘If The News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It’ and album opener ‘Nearly Home’ threaten to bring the roof off all over again.

They encore with a version of ‘Slow Parade’ which is more Buckley-esque than the album version (both Buckleys, since you ask). And we walk home, still on a high the next morning.

To download ‘A leaving Song’ from the forthcoming sign up for the mailing list here.

Broken Records -‘Until the Earth Begins To Part.’ mp3

Sparrow and the Workshop -‘The Gun.’ mp3