Album Review – Emma Pollock


Emma Pollock -‘In Search Of Harperfield.’ (Chemikal Underground)

This year marks twenty-one years since Emma Pollock co-founded the legendary Scottish label Chemikal Underground, and released her first record as part of the seminal Scottish band The Delgados ‘Monica Webster.’ And yet with the release of this, her third solo album, and first solo album in six years, she shows that musically she is not harking back to the past but rather moving forward in the present.

That said, it’s a record that’s shaped by her family history, and she makes sense of it in the here and now. The first track to do the rounds was ‘Parks And Recreation’, which recalls the teenage experience of just wanting to enjoy life in the local park, without the local bullies spoiling it for everyone. That’s not the only reference to history here.

The title refers to the very first home that her Parents, Kathleen and Guy Pollock bought a few years before she was born. The man on the front of the album sleeve is her father, working on the land. Pollock has acknowledged that the death of her mother and her father’s illness have shaped this album.

Musically, this might just be the most accomplished album she has been involved in since The Delgados’ The Great Eastern. It’s shaped by the gorgeous arrangements of Malcolm Lindsay and Pollock’s
husband Paul Savage which add yet another depth to the record, in the same affecting way that Dave Fridmann’s production on the aforementioned Eastern album revealed new textures to the band’s sound. Like all skilled artists, there’s a number of songs that stand out on their own merits (were she in the unenviable position of being on a major, the A&R guys would be able to hear loads of singles on
the record), and amongst the highlights are album opener ‘Cannot Keep A Secret’, the devastating ‘Intermission’ and ‘Alabaster.’

So a happy coming of age to her recording career and record label running then, and what better way to mark it than with the release of this album?


In Search Of Harperfield is out now on Chemikal Underground

And from the archives, an interview I did with Emma Pollock back in 2007

The return of Emma Pollock

Emma Pollock

Hello, and a Happy New Year from 17 Seconds!

Emma Pollock will release her third solo album In Search Of Harperfield on January 29. Following the demise of The Delgados in 2005, it’s her third solo album, following on from 2007’s Watch The Fireworksand 2010’s The Law Of Large Numbers. This year also marks the 21st anniversary of Chemikal Underground, the seminal Scottish indie label she co-formed in 1995.

The first single to be released from the album is ‘Parks and Recreation.’ To be released on January 22, it captures her younger self involved with fights down the local park, trying to decide whether to fight or flight is the best response, when all she’d rather do is feed the swans or play basketball.

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Cannot Keep A Secret
2. Don’t Make Me Wait
3. Alabaster
4. Clemency
5. Intermission
6. Parks and Recreation
7. Vacant Stare
8. In The Company Of The Damned
9. Dark Skies
10. Monster In The Pack
11. Old Ghosts

In Search Of Harperfield is released by Chemikal Underground on January 29.

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.’

John Peel remembered


Tomorrow marks seven years since legendary DJ John Peel died.

In my opinion -and many others – the greatest radio DJ who ever lived.

The man who championed so many styles of music, who gave coverage to bands as diverse as Napalm Death, Kelis and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, would have been seventy-two. His attitude was ‘I just want to hear something I haven’t heard before’ -and one I hold myself.

So, while there will be more stuff happening tomorrow, here for tonight are a handful of cover versions recorded as sessions for his Radio 1 show. Enjoy.

Nick Cave -‘I Put A Spell On You (Screaming Jay Hawkins cover, Peel session 1984).’ mp3

Shop Assistants -‘Ace Of Spades (Motorhead cover, Peel session 1986).’ mp3

Cat Power -‘Wonderwall (Oasis cover, Peel session 2000.)’ mp3

Six By Seven -‘Heldon (David Bowie cover sung in German, Peel session 1999)’ mp3

The Sisters Of Mercy -‘Emma (Hot Chocolate cover, Peel session 1984).’ mp3

There will be John Peel-related goodness on Fresh Air tomorrow evening too…

In honour of Rabbie Burns


I have made some odd decisions in life -but something I am very glad I did was to move to Scotland, ten years ago this August.

Robert Burns was Scotland’s national poet, and very much a hero still. he’s probably best known for writing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ but he also wrote many other fine numbers, including ‘My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose’ ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’ and the epic ‘Tam O’Shanter.’

So as today is January 25 -Burns Night in Scotland and in Scottish communities across the world – I give you four of Burns’ best known songs, done by Scots artists.

Delgados -‘A Parcel Of Rogues.’ mp3

ballboy -‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘I Love My Jean.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘A Red, Red Rose.’ mp3

One thing i would love to post here -but have no knowledge of any footage in audio or video form is of Belle and Sebastian performing in Sweden singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. In Swedish. As you do…

…so that was the noughties!


Tippi the cat wearily surveys the vinyl from her perch

There are pedantic sods out there who will say that the next decade doesn’t start until 2011…umm, too bad.

It’s been a busy decade with highs and lows, and soundtracked by some amazing stuff. Odd, considering that at the start of 2000, I was wondering whether I was being left behing as I failed to get into Nu-metal or garage. Thankfully, there’s been lots of brilliant stuff.


Highs: Getting married; moving to Scotland; being my brother’s best man at his wedding; becoming an uncle; getting cats; finally getting to work in a record shop; the invention of the iPod; meeting wonderful new friends in Scotland; the critical re-evaluation of The Cure; starting a blog that’s allowed me to interview people and get free music and into gigs for free; getting a Masters Degree; becoming a fully qualified teacher; Edinburgh’s music scene flourishing; getting to DJ again; going to New York -twice!; seeing my brother’s career in comedy and acting take off; the resurgence of post-punk and its’ infleunce on contemporary indie; setting up my own record label; Obama’s election; Great TV in the form of Life On Mars, The Office, CSI; ‘world’ cinema playing in multiplexes; successfully giving up smoking and drinking; nights out in Edinburgh and Glasgow; The Wire magazine; American Hip Hop and R&B; Grime; Dubstep; Kate Bush finally releasing a new album; finally having my own car; getting to see the likes of the Pixies (twice!), Blondie, Television (Twice!), Dead Kennedys, Julian Cope, Elvis Costello, Nick Cave (also twice!), Morrissey (three times), U2, Lou Reed…

Lows: Death of our beloved Jake the cat; black dog; the NME’s decline for much of the decade; people who showed they could not be trusted; the loss of three music venues in Edinburgh (La Belle Angele, The Venue, The Liquid Rooms); Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; Labour letting us down; George W. Bush’s administration impacting on life here; the BNP; Tommy Sheridan proving to be human after all; the frightening prospect of a Tory Victory in 2010; the continued existence of racism, homophobia and domestic violence (and fuckwits who label any attempt to challenge this as political correctness gone mad)…

There’s been so much music that it’s hard to rank it all – this is just a handful of what’s floated my boat this decade.

The Delgados -‘No Danger.’ mp3

Gnarls Barkley -‘Crazy.’ mp3

The Bug -‘Angry.’ mp3

CSS – ‘Let’s Make Love and Listen To Death From Above.’ mp3

Franz Ferdinand -‘Shopping For Blood.’ mp3

Beyonce -‘Crazy In Love.’ mp3

LCD Soundsystem -‘Losing My Edge.’ mp3

Burial -‘Archangel.’ mp3

Santogold -‘My Superman.’ mp3

Low – ‘California.’ mp3

>Usher -‘Yeah.’ mp3

The Rapture – ‘House Of Jealous Lovers.’ mp3

Radio 4 -‘Dance To the Underground.’ mp3

Interpol -‘NYC.’ mp3

Missy Elliott -‘Get UR Freak On.’ mp3

Estelle -‘American Boy (featuring Kanye West).’ mp3

Skream -‘Midnight Request Line.’ mp3

This is by no means a complete list; I’ve intentionally left out anything from this year. The list could also include M.I.A.; White Stripes; Strokes; Yeah Yeah Yeahs; The Libertines; Dizzee Dascal; Arctic Monkeys; Outkast; System Of A Down; Calexico; Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy; Kylie; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds… and many of the scottish bands I’ve championed – and those I have signed.

Happy New Year!


33 1/3 Part 6


The Delgados -‘The Great Eastern’ (Chemikal Underground, 2000)

The Delgados third album, The Great Eastern was released in 2000. It wasn’t the album that got me into them -that was their sophomore release, Peloton, a couple of years previously. But it was the album where the fantastic four, Emma Pollock, Alun Woodward, Paul Savage and Stewart Henderson truly reached their peak.

How much do I love this album? The best album of 2000? Obviously. The best album of the decade? Well, it’s my favourite. My favourite album by my favourite Scottish band? Unquestionably. My favourite Scottish album ever? Too right.

This album is utterly, utterly sublime. It’s completely scottish, folky and indie and even psychedelic. This scottishness might seem to be in spite the fact that it was recorded in Upstate New York with Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips). Then again, Transformer is totally New York and that was recorded in London, so that proves nothing.

It’s a ten track album, that just begs to be played again and again. It’s widely seen as their best record, and it’s nothing short of frustrating that despite the plaudits it got, it still didn’t bring the band the recognition they clearly deserved. Listen to the opening brass on album opener ‘The Past that Suits You Best,’ the dreamlike state of ‘American Trilogy’ or the killer bass line that forms the long, drawn-out coda to ‘No Danger.’

It formed the soundtrack to living in a damp Cambrdige bedsit, as I tried to work out if I wanted to be a teacher or not. Then I moved to Scotland, eventually setting up my own record label, dreaming that it could be as cool as the one the Delgados released this on, their own. It’s been an album that has stayed with me through the many highs and lows of this decade, through rain or shine, euphoria and despair. What more can I ask?

The Delgados -‘Accused Of Stealing.’ mp3

The Delgados -‘No Danger.’ mp3

Too much time on their hands?

…well, maybe, but having seen these on the NME website, I felt I had to post these here.

First up, I know mash-ups are, like, sooo 2001 but this is actually pretty good. Nirvana meet Rick Astley.

Yes, you did read that right.

Meanwhile, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you will be aware that Noel Gallagher has walked out of Oasis.

Yes, I know…and didn’t your mother ever tell you to cover your mouth when you yawn ? (Mine did)

Anyway, this video proves, conclusively, that Oasis’ problems included their fans.

A quick blast…


Inspired covers are always good.

Tonight was blown away – yet again! – by Ex Lion tamer’s fantastic take on ‘Tugboat’ by Galaxie 500.

Hopefully one day that will be available to buy, in the meantime…

J Mascis and his merry men take on The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven.’

Dinosaur Jr -‘Just Like Heaven (Cure cover).’ mp3

…and yes, it does end that abruptly!

More from Aidan Moffat


Yup, the modern day answer to Robert Burns – and I mean that most sincerely, folks, Aidan Moffat returns with a new album, entitled How To Get To Heaven From Scotland. First up is this free single download ‘Big Blonde’ which mentions sitting in a garage on woodlands Road, something I’ve done in Glasgow before now. Oh well, there you go…

According to the press bumpf : ‘[the best-ofs] not really a band, so much as “an open-door club where anyone with a talent for something I like the sound of is welcome.” There’s no line-up in any traditional sense and members will come and go according to their availability, but for this album, the band includes Stevie Jones (Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan’s band) and Alun Woodward (ex-Delgados / Lord Cut-Glass). How To Get To Heaven From Scotland was recorded simultaneously with I Can Hear Your Heart, but, says Aidan, “the Best-Ofs one needed longer on the hob.”

Aidan Moffat and the Best-Ofs -‘Big Blonde.’ mp3

Oh, and the video is here:

As always, let me know what you think!

Aidan Moffat website