The return of Seafieldroad


I got an email today from Andrew Eaton-Lewis, who performs as Seafieldroad and also as one half of Swimmer One. Ironically, for someone who until recently was a journalist for the Scotsman, he was the very first person I interviewed for this blog.

Having released a rather fine album as Seafieldroad back in 2010 (read the review here), he’s due to release his next album The Winter of 88 this October. Between now and then there’s quite a few things happening in Scotland which will see people’s eyes on this fair country, not least the Commonwealth Games and the Scottish Independence referendum.

In his email, he spoke of how his stance on how he was going to vote in the referendum has changed, and his surprise that not many people were writing songs about it.

So Andrew did! It’s taken from his forthcoming album and it’s entitled ‘This Road Won’t Build Itself.’

You can read the lyrics below, it’s the last two verses that particularly resonate with this writer:

My wife and I are way off the map
We’re building a country completely from scratch
We won’t get to live there, we’re sad about that
But it will be better than anything we had
when we were kids

And everyone round here is building it too
They’ve got tools to work with, they know what to do
They just need the courage to see it through
And not be ground down by the lies and abuse
when we were kids

This road won’t build itself
Pick up your spade, pick up your axe
There’s hope on the horizon
But only if we walk there

This road won’t build itself
Pick up your spade, pick up your axe
Put houses up along the way
A place to keep our children safe

They’ll tell you you don’t need to
This road’s already built
Your houses are right here
Put down your spade, put down your axe

But look at the fear on their faces
The grey hairs and the bruises
Their houses are collapsing
And they’re still painting over the cracks

Presenting…Whatever Gets You Through The Night


This was in my inbox this evening when I came home. It’s an album called Whatever Gets You through The Night, and it comes out on November 5 on Biphonic Records (home to Swimmer One and Seafieldroad).

Sixteen tracks in total, this was a live show that took place at the Arches in Glasgow back in June of this year.. This is the accompanying album – 16 brand new songs inspired by the hours between midnight and 4am, by a cross section of Scottish musicians.

And when I say cross-section, it’s Ricky Ross (of Deacon Blue) on the same album as Wounded Knee, Errors on the same album as Rachel Sermanni, Eugene Kelly as Meursault. Lots of 17 Seconds favourites, Swimmer One and Emma Pollock were the first acts I ever interviewed for the blog, over five years ago. There’s a feature over at The Skinny which explains how it came together.

Stream it below, you can also download the Swimmer One track for free.

Album review – Seafieldroad


Seafieldroad -‘There are No Maps for This Part Of The City’ (Biphonic)

Seafieldroad is the project of Andrew Eaton, lead singer with Scotland’s Swimmer One. Having released two albums with them, he has unleashed his debut solo record, and it is unquestionably the best thing he has ever done.

Different from the electro-stylings of Swimmer One (which is not to detract their work over the last decade), I perhaps shouldn’t start off by comparing it to other albums, but when you see the ones I do, you will understand:

Brian Eno’s Music For Airports. The Blue Nile’s Hats. Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. Yes. That good, that special. In a word: pastoral. Working with orchestral scoring from Pete Harvey (Meursault, the Leg), this album is sublime from the opening and wonderfully titled ‘Brian Wilson Karaoke’ to the closing ‘Fucking Manchester’ (which, despite its’ title, is still heartbreaking).

Released at the end of November, I’m hoping that, nonetheless, this will appear on the year’s end best of lists, because it really deserves to be there.


There Are No Maps For This Part Of The City is out now on Biphonic.

Stream two tracks here

Album Review – Swimmer One


Swimmer One -Dead Orchestras’ (Biphonic)

Swimmer One first appeared on the radar around seven years ago with the release of two excellent EPs entitled We Just Make Music For Ourselves and Come On, Let’s Go!. Their debut album The Regional Variations was released in 2007, and around that time they became the first band I ever interviewed for this blog.

Now here’s time for an honest confession: I liked the debut album, gave it the thumbs up, but deep down I never quite felt it lived up to the first two EPs. But Dead Orchestras has been on the iPod since it first arrived here at 17 Seconds Records, and I think it will stay on there for quite some time. Now a three piece with the addition in 2007 of Laura Cameron Lewis joining Hamish Brown and Andrew Eaton, this second album sees them firing on all cylinders and delivering an album that may have had a long gestation period but it’s been worth it.

When I interviewed the band, they spoke of their love for the original work of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), particularly classic albums like Architecture & Morality. And in Dead Orchestras, Swimmer One have produced an album with a sound that is distinctively theirs (and which I for one think Snow Patrol have tried to rip off with their ‘Just Say Yes’ single). See like with the aforementioned OMD, the likes of the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode, and more recently, X-Lion Tamer, Swimmer One have shown that electro-pop does not have to be a slight thing, but a thing of real beauty. ‘Pop’ as oppsed to rock has seemed less serious, less worthy, and if it’s sought acceptance, it’s had to beg to be taken under the label of electronica or some other in the hope that it will make it okay. Not here. This is pure pop, in the best sense of the word.

From the opening title track, this is an album that draws you in, on its’ own terms. With songs like ‘This Club Is For Everyone, Even You’ and ‘Psychogeography’ the luscious pop within cannot fail to warm even the coldest of hearts. This is the album Swimmer One have wanted to make, and they’ve definitely delivered it.


Dead Orchestras is released on Biphonic on May 31.

Swimmer One – This Club Is For Everybody, Even You by Biphonic Records

Swimmer One – Psychogeography by Biphonic Records

Read more about the songs on the album

Some covers for Friday – The return!


Haven’t done this in ages…so why not?

No theme, just some good cover versions!

Lightspeed Champion -‘Back To Black (Amy Winehouse cover).’ mp3

Cat Power -‘Wonderwall (Oasis cover).’ mp3

CSS -‘One Way Or Another (Blondie cover).’ mp3

Carter USM -‘Rent (Pet Shop Boys cover).’ mp3

Wedding Present -‘Back For Good (Take That cover).’ mp3

X-Lion Tamer -‘Tugboat (Galaxie 500 cover).’ mp3

This Mortal Coil -‘I Am the Cosmos (Chris Bell cover).’ mp3

Bauhaus -‘Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie cover).’ mp3

BMX Bandits -‘Love ‘n’ Mercy (Live) (Brian Wilson cover).’ mp3

Swimmer One -‘Cloudbusting (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

Enjoy, folks! xx

Some covers for Sunday night


Yup, a quick fun post of cover versions…

First up, posted these before but two great and very different versions of one of the best songs of the decade:

Manic Street Preachers -‘Umbrella.’ mp3

Biffy Clyro -‘Umbrella.’ mp3

Meanwhile…I posted Voxtrot’s cover version of ‘Love Vigilantes’ by New Order a couple of weeks ago; here are two other takes:

Hungry Lucy -‘Love Vigilantes (New Order cover).’ mp3

Laura Cantrell -‘Love Vigilantes (New Order cover).’ mp3

And almost New Order…three takes on foreerunner Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ by two different acts…

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra -‘Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover).’ mp3

Swans -‘Love Will Tear Us Apart (Jarboe vocal).’ mp3

Swans -‘Love Will Tear Us Apart (Gira vocal).’ mp3

Finally, let’s finish off with some Kate Bush covers…

Placebo -‘Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

Swimmer One -‘Cloudbusting (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

The Futureheads -‘The Hounds Of Love (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

China Drum -‘Wuthering Heights (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

One of my favourite cover versions at the moment is X-Lion Tamer’s take on ‘Tugboat’ by Galaxie 500, available from all good download stores now…

Album Review: Swimmer One

Album Review: Swimmer One -‘The Regional Variations.’ (Biphonic)

And it’s here at last! The debut album from Swimmer One has been four years in the making, but I hope when you hear it you will feel it has been worth the wait. They’ve been fed up with people comparing them to New Order, and listening to this album, it’s clear that all they have in common is sounding a bit electronic (as opposed to Electronic, obviously). These eleven songs build on the promise of their two early singles to show how beautiful sadness can be, and how wonderful Swimmer One are. This is the aural equivalent of a walk that enables you to see how wonderful the world is. Gorgeous, gentle electronic pop music that is heartfelt without being sappy, and yields more with every listen. Please make ‘Largs Hum’ a single, guys!


Hear Swimmer One here

Read my Interview with Swimmer One here

Interview: Swimmer One

It’s heartening to see in an age when so much stuff brands itself independent, be it in sound or attitude, that the spirit of that much (ab)used adjective lives on. One band who truly exemplify the independent ethos, in a very twenty-first century way are Swimmer One. Not in a pathetic, snobby way, but independent in that not only do they run their own label, Biphonic, but they play live when they want to, and all on their own terms. Andrew Eaton and Hamish Brown still hold day jobs, Hamish as a writer for a scottish newspaper. After years of rock-stars who are so up their own backsides, who ooze fake modesty and arrogance out of every pore, and think ‘meaning it, maaan!’ is ripping off Johnny Rotten circa 1977, Swimmer One in the own words of their debut release ‘we just make music for Ourselves.’ And they really do mean it.

Four years have passed since they put out the aforementioned single, and it’s equally brilliant follow-up ‘Come on, let’s go!’. In that time they have also put out a digital-only single ‘Largs Hum/Cloudbusting’ the latter a cover of the Kate Bush song, and featuring guest vocals from Cora Bissett. This September will see the release of their debut album The Regional Variations.

Utterly wowed by all I had heard of the music, I had arranged to call Andrew at home. To his credit, not only was he in, but he chatted for half an hour about the band, scottish conspiracy theories, Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark, and much more besides…

I ask how come The Regional Variations has taken so long. He groans, politely, and I feel bad for asking. ‘It takes time to get things right,’ he points out. With both him and Hamish having full-time jobs and living in different cities it’s clear that this is not a band like The Beatles in Help! ‘ If you add up all the time [that they have spent making the album], it’s probably only a few months.’ He is at pains to point out that it’s not like The Stone Roses’ Second Coming, which was years in the making with the band working flat-out on it, or Chinese Democracy, the Guns’n’ Roses album, first scheduled for release over a decade ago.

Being on your own record label minimises, or rather, removes entirely, annoying A&R types and others, hanging around the stuio moaning that they ‘Can’t hear a single.’ How does running Biphonic affect them making music? ‘It’s a very small concern. It was set up originally just to put our first single.’ In turn though, this lead to then putting out the debut album by Perth’s Luxury Car. ‘What time we have spare tends to go into our own music or helping Luxury Car.’

One of the many things about Swimmer One that I love is their website, which is fantastic, not only just for finding out about their music and biography, but also for Andrew and Hamish’s writing. ‘Largs Hum’ which works it’s way around Scotland, is described as an attempt to create a Scottish conspiracy theory (see more here). I can’t resist asking him whether he thinks that Scotland needs more conspiracy theories.

‘I said it in a slightly throwaway way!’ he says, slightly bemused. But he goes on to explain what the Largs Hum is. ‘It’s low Frequency Noise which gives people headaches. It’s a metaphor for people feeling that they’re going mad, and people not believing them. It’s one variety of the ‘hum’ which happens in various places around the world.’ ‘Conspiracy theories always have holes in their theories that they fill with paranoia,’ he observes.

Talking about Scotland leads me to jump a few questions ahead of what I had planned to ask: Does he think that Scotland is essential to the sound of Swimmer One?
‘I like Scotland and I call it my home,’ he says, though he points out that he’s orginally from Carlisle, which is England (give or take about ten miles). ‘[The sound] is drawn from being on the edge of things. You often feel that you’re on the edge-hence Regional Variations.’ I say that it reminds me of the work of Alan Warner, who wrote Morvern Cellar. But he’s not snide about other places, he just knows where he’s most comfortable. ‘I like London more, because I live here.’

Scotland has always had a very fertile music scene, removed from London, which has been much highlighted over the last decade, particularly due to Belle and Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand. Does he see Swimmer One as being part of a scottish scene? ‘Not really! We just sit in our cupboard and make music.’ Andrew adds that when people talk about the scottish scene, they are usually talking about Glasgow, rather than Edinburgh. ‘There’s a sense of community in Glasgow.’ He mentions the Reindeer Section, the Glasgow indie supergroup helmed by Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, until Snow Patrol went massive, and he doesn’t see Swimmer One as part of this.

Unlike many bands, who gig as often as they can, Swimmer One’s live appearances have tended to be sporadic. I ask him why this is. ‘A lot of things…part of it is due to the kind of fan we have…it doesn’t work well in a little venue with a little PA.’ He says that with all the computers and electronics involved in Swimmer One’s music there is not going to be a Swimmer One Unplugged set. ‘We enjoy being in the studio most. It’s something that we have to do. The gigs we’ve enjoyed most were gigs that weren’t really gigs.’ He mentions an appearance as part of a theatre show at the Arches in Glasgow that he really enjoyed. Modest to the last, he adds ‘We’re not that good, really, live…only in particular circumstances.’

On the band’s website, he talks about a dream he had about Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Does he worry about how success might affect Swimmer One? ‘We’re a long way from having that kind of success! The bands we admire are pop bands doing it on their own terms.’ He cites Roxy Music and Pulp as examples of this. ‘They did it on their own terms. Everybody else came to them. OMD did dilute what they did. They made the decision to sell lots of records. After Dazzleships [OMD’S fourth album), they seemed to lose their way.’ My anxiety [in the dream] was that I was too hard on them. I had this picture of them being quite frustrated artistically. Maybe they really like those records,’ he says thoughtfully.

As a journalist, he interviewed Pete Waterman. His comment on this shows Andrew as the thinker he is, rather than as a jaded, cynical hack, or snobby musician. ‘He loves music, he just has very conservative taste.’ We talk about how Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who are still viewed as pariahs, were responsible for some fantastic singles, Bananarama’s ‘Venus’ and Dead Or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record).’ Great Pop Songs, that didn’t need to be cool, they just were.

Andrew says that there probably won’t be any physical singles off The Regional Variations, though he mentions that he has a great idea for ‘Balance Company’ one of the tracks on their MySpace page. The ‘short films’ made for their first two singles were brilliant, and I can’t wait.

Swimmer One. Independent in the truest sense of the world. Making Music For Themselves (but we’re privileged to hear it). Refreshingly anti-snob. This is how music in the twenty-first century should be.

Swimmer One’s website is here and their MySpace is here. To hear four tracls off their album go here and to download the ‘Largs Hum/Cloudbusting’ single for free from Dogbox records, go here.

Swimmer One

Hi there,
first of all, sorry to anyone who tried to download the echo and the Bunnymen mp3s unsuccessfully. No idea what was happening there, but anyway…

Here are the first two lead tracks of the two eps (so far) by Edinburgh’s Swimmer One. they should have an album out sometime this year, and of you like this, they also have more music over at their MySpace and Website

Swimmer One-‘We Just Make Music For Ourselves.’ mp3

Swimmer One-‘Come On, Let’s Go!’ mp3

As always, if you like what you hear, please go and buy the singles, either from their website or your local shop (record shop that is, not greengrocer).

Ten Scottish bands for today

(A shot of Aberfeldy live last October. One of the bands you need in your life).

Okay, having done ten tracks last time, this time I thought I would point you in the direction of ten scottish bands you ought to hear.

This is not a definitive list, either of my own making or anyone else’s, but it’s 10 from a selection on my Myspace page that I would like to point you in the direction of. Some of these bands I have written about here, others I haven’t -yet!- so this should serve as an introduction.

Just in case anyone is very highly strung out there, this is not to slag off anyone, but highlight some great bands who are – by and large – active today, and is in no way a slight to The Associates, The Delgados (my favourite ever scottish band), Josef K, Aztec Camera, The Skids, Franz Ferdinand, Arab Strap, Belle and Sebastian…but you need to hear these guys and gals too:

Aberfeldy official site myspace

Ballboy official site myspace

The Cinematics official site myspace

The Fire Engines official site myspace

Mother and the addicts official site myspace

My Latest Novel official site myspace

Odeon Beat Club official site myspace

Sons and Daughters official site myspace

Swimmer One official site myspace

X-Vectors official site myspace

All of these acts have tracks for you to hear on their myspace pages, and many have mp3s for you to download, either on their mypsace page or on their own web pages.

Happy listening, and happy discovering!

Remember: artists cannot survive on goodwill alone. If you like what you hear, please, Please, PLEASE support them. Buy their music, go to the gigs, tell your friends about them. Snobbery and elitism is for losers.

BTW, two more Scottish based blogs you should check out: The Face Of Today and And Before The First Kiss.