Getting ready for August in Edinburgh


As you are probably aware, Edinburgh is host during August to an unbelievable amount of music, comedy, theatre etc.. under the heading of the Edinburgh International Festival and the even bigger Fringe festival.

Many, many wonderful things will be taking place – but if you fancied checking out the local music scene (and why wouldn’t you?) then you should be checking out the Pale Imitation Festival put together by Matthew Young, AKA Song, By Toad.

All the gigs, bar one, take place at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Morrison St, just off Lothian Rd, except for the Supermoon and Rob St. John one, which takes place at Summerhall (a block away from the south-east end of the Meadows). A number of the acts I have featured on this here blog over the years (including eagleowl, who topped the 17 Seconds Festive Fifty back in 2010),

Saturday 1st August – Numbers Are Futile, Beam, DTHPDL
Thursday 6th – Garden of Elks, Bat Bike, Passion Pusher
Saturday 8th – Sharptooth, Lush Purr, Breakfast Muff
Thursday 13th – Spinning Coin, Min Diesel, Dune Witch Trails
Saturday 15th – Save As Collective (featuring Jonnie Common, Glamour Muscle, River of Slime & MC Almond Milk)
Thursday 20th – eagleowl, Now Wakes the Sea, Faith Eliott
Saturday 22nd – Adam Stafford, Wolf, Tryptamines
Thursday 27th (at Summerhall) – Supermoon & Rob St. John
Saturday 29th – Happy Meals, Apostille, Clip Art

All the gigs start at half seven and are £5, with a season ticket available for £25. As Toad puts it ‘As the cherry on the top, the awesome Kitchen Disco will be DJing and providing free cakes for everyone on each and every night.’

You can get tickets online here

And Matthew has even put together this very handy playlist of all the bands playing.

What are you waiting for?

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.

New from eagleowl


Photograph by Neil Cammock

I’ve long-championed eagleowl on this blog -and indeed, ‘No Conjunction’ from their Into The Fold EP topped the 17 Seconds Festive Fifty in 2010.

They are shortly to release their long-awaited debut LP This Silent Year, which is coming out on the legendary Fence label on May 13. This is, in all seriousness, my personally most anticipated album of the year.

This is the first track to do the rounds from the album:

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

eagleowl vs. woodpigeon
not over
it’s so funny
soft process
too late in the day

Oh, and I’m putting them on with Wounded Knee at the Dalkeith Arts Centre on the edge of Edinburgh on June 26…

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

Avalanche Records to close?


Over the last few years, with Independent Record Stores struggling to keep their heads above water, Record Store Day has been promoted as an initiative to try and get more people into record shops. As has been pointed out on numerous occasions, this is only a success if it actually gets people into the shops more than on just one day a year. As Matthew at Song, By Toad pointed out ‘In a sense Record Store Day reminds me a little of Valentine’s Day or, to be a little more facetious, Don’t Beat Your Wife Day – yes the message is the right one, but what, only today? What about the other 364 days of the year?’ (There are some excellent posts on Song, By Toad about the pros and cons of Record Store Day – if you have not read them, I suggest you do so).

It is with sadness that I found out this morning that Avalanche Records in Edinburgh will be shutting on January 6 2013. Owner Kevin Buckle and I may have had some frank exchanges of views over the years, but I am a regular customer. It might be overegging the pudding to say that Avalanche (along with Fopp, in its’ pre-HMV incarnation) was one of the reasons I moved to Edinburgh, but it wasn’t something that put me off, shall we say. It has had a major impact on my music collection as somewhere to buy, sell and exchange music* and was one of the first places to stock physical releases that I put out through 17 Seconds Records.

There may be some glimmers of hope, but the prognosis is that things will have to change. As Kevin says in his statement: ‘ I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere and that date is Sunday January 6th 2013. I hope that by then there will be a plan but at worst I will simply close the shop and concentrate on expanding our online presence and pursuing other opportunities. I’ll always be keen to support Scottish artists but maybe the focus on how that is done will need to change. I’m happy to listen to all ideas of course. Avalanche is a fantastic shop window quite literally for Scottish artists and their music but sadly it is often taken for granted.

Up to that date I will need to take as much money as possible to catch up on just about everything (rent, rates, tax, record company bills etc) and therefore will have the sale I vowed I wouldn’t have. We are not short of stock and hopefully a sale when added to some Christmas business and the visitors here for the festive period will enable us to catch up. With the announcement that the new Frightened Rabbit album will be released on February 4th in an ideal world a new revitalised Avalanche would be in place by then but … unless there is a noticeable and prolonged improvement in business we simply can’t survive where we are.’

Read the full statement here

Avalanche have supported many Scottish artists particularly over the years. Not only did various members of bands work there at various points (including Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes, X-Lion Tamer, Broken Records and Usurper, and that’s just those I can think of off the top of my head) but it has given a platform for people to hear new stuff. And in the internet age that’s actually more important than ever. I helped out in the store last week -and yes, people do actually come in and ask for recommendations about scottish artists. Trust me, ‘customers also bought this’ on certain online and download stores really ISN’T the same thing.

The music industry is changing, and it’s far from only being the small indies who are struggling. But in a very real sense, the message is clear: ‘Use it -or you’ll lose it.’

Here’s a couple of bands who have benefited from exposure in Avalanche, but I could name many more labels and artists…

eagleowl -‘Blanket.’ mp3

Meursault -‘Crank Resolutions.’ mp3

Vaselines -‘Son Of A Gun.’ mp3

Mogwai -‘Rano Pano.’ mp3

*Do you honestly think I keep every single physical release I am sent? I’m not paid to write this blog!

A decade…

dj-ed-jupp1Like most folk in their mid-thirties, I guess I’ve done some things that make me look back and cringe.

But I’ve also taken chances on things, and look back and think ‘Well, that was a leap into the unknown – but it paid off.’

And one of those was moving to Edinburgh.

Ten years ago, I was really not sure where I was heading. I had spent five years studying full-time, which had awarded me a BA and Masters in Philosophy, and still left feeling that I wanted to do something musically related. A relationship had crashed and burned, leaving me in a state, and wondering what it was all about.

I spent a few weeks in London trying to get a job selling advertising space (why??? I honestly thought in my frazzled state that this would lead me to working for the NME or something similar). Instead I got interviews but no job in this field (thank God) and was filing, once again, for my Mum. So I went up for a week to Edinburgh to see my little brother who was acting and doing comedy in the Festival and studying (t)here.

I fell hook, line and sinker for Edinburgh. I’d visited before and loved it, and couldn’t work out how I could move here. After a few days, I arranged that I would sleep on my brother’s floor for six weeks, try and find and job and a place to live. I briefly returned to England to attend V2001 (so long ago that Muse were headlining the second stage), and grab some clothes. I arrived on August 20, 2001.

I barely knew anyone apart from my brother, and a people I’d met through him. I volunteered at the Edinburgh book festival and within three days was working in a call centre. I thought it would be a stop gap measure for a few weeks; in the end I would end up working there on and off for over two years. But I met some of my greatest friends in Edinburgh there. Amongst those who worked there were Deborah Arnott from Blueflint and Ken McIntosh from Aberfeldy (the latter then playing with his twin in Edinburgh’s greatest lost band, Wayne Paycheck).

And I started to find my feet. I did find somewhere to live – almost directly leading to me meeting my wife. I ended up doing all sorts of jobs from the bizarre (I still can’t believe I ever worked as a door-to door salesman) to the dream come true of finally working in a record shop (or three, if you want to be pedantic).

As the years went by, I trained as a teacher and taught for a few years, as well as doing bits of TEFL. And of course, I sauntered vaguely downwards (with apologies to Terry Pratchett) into the Edinburgh music scene. Whilst I’ve not really got a band together, I’ve had a fair amount of stuff published online, interviewed bands I could only have dreamt about and DJed. And I made many new friends -and against all odds – married and have a wonderful son, and two much adored (if rather indulged) cats. In the last few years I’ve become a Hibee (supporter of Hibernian football club – now who would have thought I’d get into going to the football?) And running my own club night or record label? the sort of thing that people back in England told me I’d never do? Hah!

It’s not all been plain sailing. I’ve lost twelve months in that time to depression, which is one of the most horrible -and still misunderstood illnesses – around. But I’ve got through it, thanks to Edinburgh folk, and most particuarly my wife, brother and parents and close Edinburgh friends (you know who you are).

Against all odds, I gave up smoking and drinking (so much for the ‘sick man of Europe’ tag). I feel very much at home here, even if I bristle about casual anti-English remarks. And this far into my life I’m still ‘yes to vinyl, no to meat.’ A pretty long phase, then.

So God bless all of you who’ve made me welcome. I’ve done some daft things – but this wasn’t one of them.

A sampling of an Edinburgh soundtrack…

Withered Hand -‘Religious Songs.’ mp3

eagleowl -‘Morpheus.’ mp3

Aberfeldy -‘Claire.’ mp3

Last Battle -‘Black Waterfall.’ mp3

X-Lion Tamer -‘Hope.’ mp3

Blueflint -‘Takes More Than A Little Time.’ mp3

So much news to share with you

Three very different but excellent bands I’ve been getting messages from in the last twenty four hours…

First of all, the French Wives…


An intriguing email in the overcrowded inbox from the French Wives yesterday with this press release:

” As of Monday 15th November, French Wives will be commencing a series of give aways.

Each Monday, for the foreseeable future we will be offering friends, fans and foes the opportunity to download one of the many French Wives recordings that we have accrued over the last 2 years for nowt. It occurred to us that between old songs, new songs, live songs or acoustic songs there is quite a collection that we’re sitting on and we’d like people to have it. Some are good, some are probably bad in hindsight but regardless, we’d like you to have them.

Each free download is going to be accompanied with a blog post on this here myspace with some information about the recording and weekly video content.

We realised that perhaps there are a lot of people who have just seen or heard of us recently and thought this would be a nice way of letting you hear other songs that would be new to you and if you’ve been sailing on the good ship French Wives since day one, think of it as a nice little reward for your loyalty/toil.


Every Monday swing by to pick up a free download, some insight and what I’m sure will be a HILARIOUS (probably not), unique (probably not) video…..

This series will be called The Home Fires…..

Keep them burning…..

French Wives….

If you haven’t heard them yet, check this out:

Next up: eagleowl will be supporting Broken Records on the scottish leg of their tour as well as doing some special shows of their own:

” We’re joining Broken Records for the Scottish leg of their UK tour – playing Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen this weekend. Friend, band mate and all round good egg Rob St John will also be playing a solo set to open. If you live in any these cities, it’d be very nice to see you.

Then we’ve three (3) more great shows in Edinburgh before the year’s out, each more exciting than the last – opening for Daniel, Fred & Julie (a new project featuring Julie Doiron. Swoon.), the Leith Tape Club Xmas special (on a boat!), and our own special Xmas show at Pilrig St Paul’s Church.

Our Xmas show is a ‘Stars in their Eyes’ special – where we will be dressing up and performing a set as one of our favorite bands. As will some other top Edinburgh acts. It’s going to be the best fun ever. You should probably come.

Then we’ll be hibernating for the rest of the winter.

Thanks for your time.
You complete me.


Find out more about those gigs here

Check out their Into the Fold EP, it’s amazing:

Then Tango in the Attic have a new single out next month called ‘Sketch by Quentin Blake.’

Stream it here:

Tango in the Attic – Sketch By Quentin Blake (single) by abadgeoffriendship

Retreat -definitely not a sign of weakness!


The Retreat Festival will take place in Edinburgh on August 28 and 29 this year.

Both Emily from Tracer Trails and Bart Owl of eagleowl fame have been in touch about this, it’s an awesome lineup with many acts I’ve featured here on 17 Seconds, such as Withered Hand (above), Wounded Knee, Meursault, Jesus H. Foxx and eagleowl. Whilst I won’t be able to attend it all (I’ve got tickets for Broken Records on the Saturday Night), I’m going to bust a gut to go and see at least some of it. I don’t want to rehash the press release, so I’ve cut and pasted it:

” Venerable DIY gig-putteronners Tracer Trails and The Gentle Invasion are thrilled to announce the third edition of Retreat!, a micro-festival celebrating Edinburgh’s contribution to the international pop underground.

Following on from previous years which have seen the festival occupy spaces in St John’s Church and the Bristo Hall, this year’s Retreat! will be a two-day event taking place in Pilrig St Paul’s Church Hall, on the boundary between Edinburgh and the City of Leith.

Retreat! was founded in 2008 to create space for Edinburgh acts amid the bustle of the festivals, and has evolved into a riotous A.G.M. for the capital’s independent pop scene.

In its inaugural year Retreat! encompassed nine events over three weeks; in 2009 it took the form of a giant celebratory all-dayer as part of the Forest Fringe. Retreat! 2010 is different again, a lost weekend when Edinburgh’s first XVI will perform in a deranged gala-day environment in which anything might happen and some things probably will.

Hosted by the incomparable Owen Curtis Williams (The Pineapple Chunks / drummer-about-town), and with stage design by Tessa Lynch, the only common thread in this vibrant melange is the organisers’ overwhelming respect for each act’s inimitable contribution to the international pop underground.

Retreat! stands for: –

• cheap cheap tickets
• all-ages admission
• the most extravagant staging and costumery no money can buy
• film screenings, record stalls, book stalls, and food!

Retreat! The Line-Up:-

7VWWVW (golden synth buzz and burr)
Benni Hemm Hemm (our icelandic friend and his big band)
Conquering Animal Sound (radio friendly unit shifters)
The Douglas Firs (snow-capped downbeat singalong)
eagleowl (fearsome slowcore foursome)
Enfant Bastard (brainless gameboy spraff)
FOUND (slick pop outfit)
Jesus H. Foxx (slacker-pop septet)
The Leg (dangerous panda-masked post-punk)
Meursault (tipped for the top)
Milk (sleazy glasgow supergroup)
Rob St John (resident ecologist)
Skeleton Bob (not a country band)
The Wee Rogue (sings the corries)
Withered Hand (badly lapsed antifolk)
Wounded Knee (loopy primitivist technocrat)”

Visit Retreat bandcamp page here for lots of excellent downloads.

Withered Hand -‘Religious Songs.’ mp3

Wounded Knee -‘Cold Enough To Snow.’ mp3

eagleowl -‘Morpheus.’ mp3

Jesus H. Foxx -‘Trying To Be Good.’ mp3

2010…so far


Me on the decks at Pin Ups, Glasgow

It’s been a great start to the year, musically, and I’ve been trying to hear as much stuff as I possibly can. There’s been some wonderful stuff, some not so good stuff -and no doubt some stuff that I’ll rant about, and yet possibly even change my mind about.

So what’s floated my boat this year so far? Well, I’ve really, really loved the latest eagleowl EP Into The Fold, the closing track ‘No Conjunction’ is without a doubt my song of the year so far. I’ve also been knocked for six by Delorean’s latest album, Subiza, and the Call to Mind EP, all of which got five stars here.

Sure, the scots have had some excellent albums so far this year, what with the sophomore from Meursault, All Creatures Will Make Merry, and debuts from Kid Canaveral and Mitchell Museum. To say nothing of a slew of excellent releases from the likes of Burnt Island, The Scottish Enlightenment, Cancel the astronauts and Fear the Fives.

Further afield, I’ve been loving The Drums, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Dum Dum Girls and the Soft Pack, and the Futureheads have returned with what is clearly their best record since their debut. It’s not all been indie round these parts, though, as you’ll see when I post my review of the latest M.I.A. album, and releases from Konono No.1, Four Tet and Yeasayer have also kept their place around here. I was less than impressed by latest offerings from the likes of The New Pornographers and The National, though…

There’s still another six months left to go, of course, but it’s been great, so far…

Delorean -‘Stay Close.’ mp3

Dum Dum Girls -‘Jail La La.’ mp3

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti -‘Round and Round.’ mp3

Meursault -‘Crank resolutions.’ mp3

The Drums -‘Let’s Go Surfing.’ mp3

Soft Pack -‘C’mon.’ mp3

Yeasayer -‘O.N.E.’ mp3

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

EP review – eagleowl


eagleowl -‘Into the Fold EP’ (Kilter)

oh, eagleowl, eagleowl, eagleowl.

…Where do I start?

I could speak with the envy, that this amazing band get this great coverage, worhsip and adulation, in Scotland and further afield. I could drop in -again – the fact that I used to work with vioinist Malcolm in Fopp six or seven years ago. Sulk that they’ve had a radio 1 session. But I’m genuinely pleased for them, and genuinely glad to see them doing well. Because they desreve every bit of praise that’s come their way and more.

Because – following on from their For The Thoughts You Never Had EP, and the ‘Sleep the Winter’ 7″, this third release from the Edinburgh band shows them continuing to grow and stretch their, er, well, wings (sorry). Over the course of the four songs, yet again Bart and the band break my heart. It’s simultaneously simple, yet heartbreaking, so straightforward and yet utterly complex. How do Bart, Clarissa, Malcolm (‘and more often than not’) Rob do it? the final, nearly ten minute track on the EP ‘the Conjunction’ is like being fed the whole of Low’s oeuvre in ten minutes, it’s so beautiful. Dammit, I’ve got a lump in my throat.

Every single one of these tracks is outstanding in its’ own right. eagleowl have upped their game, and if I run the risk of sounding sychophantic, so bloody well be it.


The Into the Fold EP will be released on May 3 on CD and download.

eagleowl -‘Morpheus.’ mp3

eagleowl’s website/eagleowl’s myspace