Album Review: Sparrow and the Workshop


Sparrow and the Workshop -‘Murderopolis’ (Song, By Toad Records)

This is the third album by Glasgow’s Sparrow and the Workshop and their first for Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad Records. Lead by Belfast-born and Chicago-raised Jill O’Sullivan this new record sees the band developing further and hopefully about to achieve the success they have always deserved, with what is their most accessible and best album to date.

Earlier records had more of a folky feel, while this one sees them still sounding nicely dark, but with a more rocky feel, with a touch of glam (though definitely not glam rock). But think PJ Harvey circa To Bring You My Love or Cat Power when she’s not in meltdown mode, and you’re…well, a little bit closer to seeing how great this record is.

The band have been deservedly getting more coverage with the two lead-off singles from this album, the welcome return that was ‘Shock Shock’ and the even better ‘The Faster You Spin.’It’s not just about the singles, though, the opening ‘Valley of Death’ and ‘Darkness’ get the record off to a very fine start that continues through most of the record.


Murderopolis is released on Song, By Toad Records on May 27.

New Sparrow and the Workshop video

Sparrow and the Workshop are set to release their third album, Murderopolis next week. The video for ‘The Faster You Spin’ can be seen at the top. It really has to be seen to be believed.

Oh, and the album is the finest record they have made so far. And it’s out on Song, By Toad Records.

They are also playing the following dates:

13th June: LeithLate (afterparty)Edinburgh –Tickets
14th June: Neu! Reekie! 34 – The Poetry Club (next to SWG3), Glasgow – Tickets
22nd June: Insider Festival,Aviemore – Tickets
24th June: The Lexington, London – Tickets
28th June: Stockton Calling Festival, Stockton on Tees – Tickets

The return of…Sparrow and the Workshop


I’ve featured Sparrow and the Workshop in times past, they’ve made my Festive Fifty and it’s great to report that ahead of their third album, they are releasing their new single via 17 Seconds Pals Song, By Toad!

They’re picking up radio play for this, too, which always feels nice when it’s a) bands you like b) people you’ve championed and c )coming out on a friendly record label. They’ve always been good, and they’ve evolved, less folky than the sound on their first two records, if this track’s anything to go by…

It’s called ‘Shock Shock’ and it’s out on Song, By Toad Records on March 11:

Not only that, but Song, By Toad records have released a sampler for 2013 of what they’re up to. And it is lip-smackingly good…

An awesome cover for Sunday


I’ve blogged on here before now about just how awesome I think Sparrow and the Workshop are. They were great supporting Broken Records the other week and mrs. 17 Seconds is definitely up for seeing them again.

I have received a personal email from Jill O’Sullivan herself, referring to 17 seconds as one of their favourite blogs (flattery will get you everywhere!) and asking if I’d like to post a cover version they’ve done or host the video?

Well, why not both? As my Mum used to say, when offered the choice between cream or custard.

Sparrow and the Workshop -‘Just What I Needed.’ mp3

…and if you have yet to get their awesome debut Crystals Fall yet, SORT IT OUT.

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