Forthcoming at Dalkeith Arts Centre


Just one of the bands coming to Dalkeith over the next few months…

As part of the day job working for Library Services, I am involved in putting on some gigs at Dalkeith Arts Centre, just south of Edinburgh.

In the last three months of 2012 we had King Creosote, Bwani Junction and The Last Battle, and looking ahead to the next five months we have the following:

March 20: Cancel the Astronauts + Carter Damm + Testing the Water

May 15: Sophie Bancroft and Tom Lyne Duo & Kevin Mackenzie

May 17: Midas Fall + Tom Morris (Her Name is Calla) + Glassbooks

May 29: Blueflint (playing two sets)

June 26: eagleowl & Wounded Knee

Tickets are all £7 (£5 concessions). I’ve supported many of these acts on these pages before (I even used to work alongside members of eagleowl and Blueflint and indeed Wounded Knee himself!)

Cancel The Astronauts Bandcamp

Carter Damm bandcamp

Sophie Bancroft soundcloud

Midas Fall soundcloud

Glassbooks bandcamp

Blueflint soundcloud

eagleowl bandcamp

Wounded Knee bandcamp

Interview: Cancel The Astronauts


Back in September, Cancel The Astronauts released their very fine debut album Animal Love Match. We tried to set up an interview…and eventually, it happened!

17 Seconds: Please introduce yourselves

Matthew Riley: We are Cancel the Astronauts, an indie-pop band from Edinburgh who are slowly trying to become a bit less pop and a bit more indie. Individually are names are, in order of handsomeness, Matthew Riley (MR). There are four other members of the band, who in the interests of accuracy I will call Kieran McCaffrey (KM), Michael Craig, Neil Davidson and Chris Kay. They play the instruments that I don’t play, which is mostly most of them and sometimes all of them: guitar, synth, bass and drums.

KM: Hello.

17 Seconds: How did the band come together?

MR: Kieran, Michael and me went to school together and moved up to Edinburgh at the same time for university. We all lived together in second year and we started making music together. Me and Kieran had been writing songs together for various ‘bands’, none of which ever did any gigs. ‘Rehearsals’ for these ‘bands’ often involved ordering Chinese from Hurlford’s finest takeaway (5-star?) and watching films. It was only really after we moved up to Edinburgh that we started to take it in any way seriously.

KM: It was the Peking Star, was the Hurlford takeaway. The Five Star is in nearby overspill town, Kilmarnock. It’s quite an arrogant name for a takeaway though, isn’t it? Five Star. I’ll decide! It was pretty good.

17 Seconds: Who are your influences?

MR: 90’s Britpop.

KM: 00’s Scotpop.

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

MR: Getting paid is quite unusual.

KM: As a veteran of over twelve gigs by now, I can’t think of a single thing. That’s depressing. I fell over on stage one time, but that was more embarrassing than strange. I’m blanking here. Move on!

17 Seconds: Do you read your press? If not, why?

MR: Yes, when we get any. I’m an extremely vain and self-centred person and I love to know what people think about us, good or bad. Unfortunately most people don’t seem to think about us at all, but when they do the press has pretty much always been good. It’s encouraging when people don’t think you’re completely shit.

KM: We’re cursed by our easily searchable name — nobody wants to actually cancel the proper astronauts, and nor should they. But if opinion ever started to sway that way, we’d know about it first. We do all our (cough) PR ourselves though, so most of our press comes from people we’ve personally sent promo cds to or have been emailing or otherwise dancing in front of. This mean we get to be vain and sad and read everything anyone’s ever written about us and pretend we’re just being diligent PR bods.

17 Seconds: Do you think the word ‘indie’ still means something in 2012? If so, what?

MR: Somewhere in the mid-to-late 00’s it came to mean guitar music played by five guys in skinny haircuts, but I suppose it’s actual meaning has been massively diluted since the 80’s, when independent bands and record companies began to make successful, commercial music without major label support. I would say we’re indie because we’re 5 guys who make guitar music (although we don’t have skinny haircuts) and because the music we make is completely independent- it’s recorded, produced, released, promoted and paid for by us and us alone. We don’t even have a little micro-label to help us. We’re actually the most independent band I know of! I’m not particularly proud of this fact- I’d be happy to sign to Parlophone for a million bucks. I think then that ‘indie’ has more relevance now than it has for many, many years, although it’s definitely more accurate now as a philosophy or a circumstance than as an indicator of musical style.

KM: You could argue that our methods are more DIY than indie, but we describe ourselves as ‘indie-pop’ rather than ‘DIY-pop’ because DIY seems to speak to an aesthetic we’re not a part of (or are we, nowadays? And etc…). I suppose indie works as a sorta useful but ultimately reductive nod towards what we sound like. Genre labels are confusing. I don’t use them on my computer.

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

MR: I would like The Smiths to reform and cover ‘I Hate You All And I Wish You Were Dead.’

KM: We got an email once from a teenager asking for the lyrics to Fanclub because his school band wanted to cover it. I don’t think it ever came to anything, but I would have liked to have heard that. Inspiring the next generation and all that.

17 Seconds: What are your favourite albums?

MR: Prepare yourself for some VERY boring choices: Automatic For The People by REM, Definitely Maybe by Oasis, A Rush Of Blood To The Head by Coldplay, Strangeways Here We Come by The Smiths, and Different Class by Pulp. I’m falling asleep just writing them down.

KM: Boring! Mine are In Rainbows by Radiohead, Rounds by Four Tet, The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit, St. Thomas by The Scottish Enlightenment, and High Violet by The National.

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

MR: I’d dig a very big hole in a very hot country with Cheryl Tweedy, and I’d let her do most of the work.

KM: I think she goes by Cheryl Cole, and I have to question your motivations. I’m going to plump for noted recording artist Scarlett Johansson.

17 Seconds: What are your plans for the next year?

MR: I’m going to release 4 solo albums (you heard it here first) and Cancel the Astronauts are going to write the greatest album the world has ever heard. One so good it will make your ears bleed piss and push A Rush Of Blood To The Head by Coldplay out of your Top 5 list.

KM: Somewhere in the guts of my guitar a loose connection is playing occasional havoc at pivotal times. I should probably fix it.

Animal Love Match is out now on Riley Records

Album Review: Cancel The Astronauts


Cancel The Astronauts -‘Animal Love Match’ (Riley Records)

Over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed the slow but steady stream of EPs and singles put out by Edinburgh’s fine indie-pop band Cancel The Astronauts. The release of their debut album Animal Love Match is a cause for celebration, delivering on the promise of those earlier releases by producing a fantastic album. And all the more impressive as a debut.

Including two earlier singles ‘Intervention’ and ‘Seven Vices’ the end result is an album which is impressive from start to finish. As you’d expect from a band who released a song called ‘I Am The President Of Your Fanclub (And Last Night I Followed You Home)’ there is a degree of humour and fun here, without being irritatingly twee. Yet they can also do epic anthems without descending into bombast or ever trying to sound like any anaemic indie stadium fillers [fill in name of your choice].

So yes, they are local (to me) -but I have no hesitation in recommending this album to people who enjoy fantastic music. It’s about to hit the shops a week ahead of the new Mumford & Sons album, and it would be great if CTA got the amount of coverage that album will.


Animal Love Match is released on Riley Records on September 17.

You really should try buying this album from your local independent record shop first and foremost. If you can’t get to one, you can order it from the band themselves

The album launch on Saturday has been cancelled but will hopefully be rescheduled for November…

Live on Fresh Air!

Yup, online, live at Fresh AIr

I will be updating as we go along.

1. Blur ‘Under the Westway.’
2. RM Hubbert ‘Car Song.’
3. Nico ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine.’ Cover version of the week
4. The Last Battle ‘ Breathe Bones, Beathe (session track).’
5. Scars ‘Your Attention Please.’ (Gone but not forgotten).
6. Bwani Junction ‘She Ain’t Saying No.’
7. The Last Battle ‘Hope Is Gold (session track).’ Buy the original version from their bandcamp here
8. Carter Damm ‘Clowning (demo).’
9. Stanley Odd ‘Get Out Ma Headspace.’
10. The Last Battle ‘The Butterfly Song (session track).’
11. The Last Battle ‘Ruins (session track).’
12. Cancel The Atronauts ‘I Sold My Soul (And This Is All I Got).’

17 Seconds Radio Show


OK folks, there will be another radio show from me this week at 7-8PM on Fresh Air
this coming Thursday.

This was last week’s show -here’s the tracklisting again, and if you wish to listen to it, it’s there below:

1. Dead Can Dance ‘Children Of The Sun.’
2. Kate Bush ‘Running Up That Hill.’
3. Twin Shadow ‘Five Seconds.’
4. We Are The Physics ‘Applied Robotics.’
5. Aggi Doom ‘Bring Me The Head.’
6. Shamen ‘Jesus Loves Amerika.’ ‘Gone but not forgotten.’
7. Soap&Skin ‘Wonder.’
8. Cancel The Astronauts ‘Making Dynamite.’ Album of the month Animal Love Match
9. Matt Norris and the Moon ‘Roots Below.’
10. The Delgados ‘Mr. Blue Sky.’ ‘Cover version of the week.’
11. Grimes ‘Genesis.’
12. Antony & the Johnsons ‘Cut The World.’

Single review – Cancel the Astronauts


Cancel the Astronauts -‘Seven Vices.’ (self-released)

Following on from their brilliant debut EP in 2009 – I Am The President Of Your Fanclub (And Last Night I Followed You Home) – and last year’s equally brilliant Funny For A Girl – here comes the third release from Edinburgh’s Cancel the Astronauts.

I know I’m not the only one who wishes that their material was a little more frequent, but when it arrives it feels like it’s been worth the wait. Over the course of the three tracks ‘Seven Vices’ ‘Something Approaching’ and ‘Playing Hard to Get’ the band continue to perfect their gorgeous anthemic indie-pop. What they continue to demonstrate is that if you are doing a release then every track should be worthwhile.

Another strong release from this band. No matter how long the wait for their next release, I’m sure it will be worth it. Surely the world should be theirs for the taking?


Out now via their Bandcamp

Those two earlier EPs:

Live dates:

Cancel The Astronauts play:

September 12 – Glasgow University Central Debating Chamber (Yes -TONIGHT!!)
September 14 – Notting Hill Arts Club, London
September 16 – Wilmington Arms, London
September 17 – Mello Mello, Liverpool
September 18 – The Tyne Bar, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

EP review – Cancel the astronauts


Cancel The Astronauts -‘Funny For A Girl EP’ (Riley Records)

Following on from last year’s rather fine ‘I am the President Of Your Fanclub And Last Night I Followed You Home’ the Edinburgh five-piece have returned five another five track EP. It’s a winner that shows how they have developed, and if you’ve been enjoying the recent debut album from Kid Canaveral, then I’m pretty sure you’ll love this too.

Is there something different about an EP to a single? Well, I still maintain that there is, or at least should be. Namely that a) you get more tunes for your money’s worth, and that more than one track therein should be on a par with the lead track. Ride’s first four EPs understood this…umm, twenty years ago now, and for their first eighteen months so did Oasis. Because what counts here is that every single track is excellent, and if I love ‘Funny For A Girl’ the most, then I also think that the sad but sublime ‘Standing Still’ and the closing ‘Listen’ are awesome as well.

Check it out for yourselves. Listen to the EP and then go and buy it. For just more a little more than the price of a cup of coffee this is a release you’ll want to play for a long time to come.


<a href="">Funny For A Girl by Cancel The Astronauts</a>

Cancel The Astronauts’ website/Cancel The Astronauts’ myspace

The band have generously given me two copies to give away, so email me at for the chance to win the EP on CD. Closing date is July 18.