Blimpy’s Best LPs of 2014 go up to 11 – Part three

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4. “United Ghosts”United Ghosts 

Poppy hooky shoegaze with dual male/female vocals. There needs to be some sort of internet widget where this stuff gets posted straight to my door without me even hearing it first.

joint 3rd. “New Gods”Withered Hand

Dan’s long awaited follow up to Good News (his first record which was my favourite of 2009) was a worryingly together effort with a backing cast of Scots indie royalty behind him (King Creosote, Eugene Kelly, Frightened Rabbit to mention a few). The old bumbling charm has diminished a bit, the songs are bigger and looking out rather than in. I think the album just lacked a “No Cigarettes” or “Love In The Time Of Ecstasy” and time had increased my expectations to silly levels. It’s a great record, don’t get me wrong.

joint 3rd. “St Vincent”St Vincent

I like my pop music like I like my coffee: bonkers & unpredictable, taut & skewed, arty & twisted (never ask me to make coffee). It’s Madonna brought up on Talking Heads rather than disco. An incredible record from an incredible talent, and had I picked it up earlier in the year it may well have been higher up the list.

Blimpy’s Best LPs of 2014 go up to 11 – Part one

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End of year lists for a music geek like me are the equivalent of the “hurts in good way” duality of S&M, right ‘Spillers? Right? No, come back! Um…anyway my list goes up to 11, mainly because of the first choice.

11. “Everything Will Be Alright In The End”Weezer

My secret weapons at “work” over the last year or so have been coffee and perky helpings of Weezer’s dumbest big rockest tunes, and their latest album was a return to form with some ridiculously huge unapologetic bangers on it  and a three part rock ‘suite” to finish the LP.

10. “Burn Your FIre For No Witness”Angel Olsen

Angel turned out a record that stylistically was all over the place but held together by a distinct voice.

9. “God’s Dream”Ringo Deathstarr

This was an EP really, unless you count the extra tracks that Japan got, but acted as a good signpost towards the LP I hope they make next of big-thinking-stadium-shoegaze-1992-pumpkins-rock. The dude from Swervedriver popped up, and a non-classic Pumpkin too.

8. “From Scotland With Love”King Creosote

Specially written to soundtrack a lovely film made from archive footage of Scotland, this was prime Kenny through & through.

You like real music, don’t you? Like Pussy Riot or Louis Armstrong?

The East Neuk of Fife, down the coast from where I live, is a funny old place. Everything is tiny and the rappers are eggs or potatoes if you squint; living in a dolls’ house means less time spent cleaning. The name slaters for woodlice travelled to Australia too. Put another twig on the fire, the nights are fair drawing in.

Village People

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Some of you may know that I help put on gigs in our village’s community centre, so I thought I would share some of the homegrown talents of Newport-on-Tay. 

First of all is Sonny Carntyne who are an echo-rock 4/5 piece who make great songs in the vein of The National or Interpol with a deep musical intensity & evocative lyrics.

Their “Retreat” EP is up on band camp for a pay-what-you-like arrangement here

Then there is St Kilda Mailboat, who have been wowing crowds with post apocalyptic skiffle songs about David Niven, Heebie-geebies, cats called Michael Stipe, and a tune called Mini Wham Bar Rampage where they pelt the unsuspecting audience with mini Wham Bars.

And thirdly we have Seven Sons who play americana tinged folk with lovely harmonies & are very engaging live to boot!

So, open up your village hall, be merry & please share in the comments what’s going on in your neck o’ the woods!

Blimpy’s Best Long Playing Records of The Year

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In a slight break from tradition, I’m sticking to the vinyl that I bought this year (sorry Crocodiles & Mikal Cronin, your records were great too, I just don’t own them yet!) – Here’s a not-particularly ordered list!

1. “The Bones Of What You Believe”Chrvrches. Unstoppable song writing from these Glaswegians, a pop heart shot through with a bullet of the all important Scots melancholy. Mighty non-cheesy 80s synths abound.

2. “Modern Vampires Of The City”Vampire Weekend. Good golly there’s a plethora of cracking & clever tunes on here, as the VW begin to contemplate their mortality & place in the world.

3. “A Sea Of Spilt Peas”Courtney Barnett. Bob Dylan, Lou Reed & Kurt Cobain as seen through the lens of a slightly bonkers, mildy stoned Australian singer.

4. “Pedestrian Verse”Frightened  Rabbit. The fourth good record in a row from Selkirk’s finest.

5. “Dream Cave” - Cloud Control. Skewed psych-pop from more Aussies (what do they put in their water over there?)

6. “Hobo Rocket”Pond. Heavy deavy psyche nonsense lifting bits of Zep and Bowie, sounds like it was knocked off in an evening. Australian. Bonza.

7. “II” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Tripped out rambling 60sesque psyche pop from a bunch of long haired freaks. Not Australian!!! What??!

8. “Secret Soundz Vol 2″ – Pictish Trail. I think I may have put this in last year’s list too, but as it officially came out this year…

9. “Now That You Are A Dancer”Kid Canaveral. More indie pop perfection from the brawsome foursome, now with added shoegaze & epicosity.

10. “EP 1″Pixies. Not technically an LP, but I did play the heck out of it. 3 amazing songs, one ok song. No Kim. Still a good deal.

I’d be interested in seeing your lists, so if you can’t be bothered to do a full post, please put top 3s/5s/10s/100s in the comments! I love lists!

Yo Llama! Yotanka! Edinburgh Festival Social Review Mash-up.

The Bow Bar retains its poise despite the gurning

The Bow Bar retains its poise despite the gurning

The Bow Bar is turning into a veritable honey trap for Spillers of late. Last month’s victim was Tatanka Yotanka who braved the throngs for a couple of swift pints prior to Barb Jungr at the Queen’s Hall, while I bolted for the door just in time to see Coriolanus at The Playhouse. Conversation ran the full spectrum from what ails to Grauniad, to the art of cabinetmaking and the joys of London life. Anyway, here is our round up of some of what we saw in Edinburgh 2013.

The Beijing People’s Art Theatre had a unique take on staging Shakespeare, employing TWO heavy metal bands (Miserable Faith and Suffering, death metal but turned down from 11 on this occasion)  in their production of Coriolanus. I had studied the play for the Irish equivalent of the A levels, and it seemed an odd choice for the Chinese Ministry of Culture to get involved in. what the implications of political power being exerted from the bottom up, and there is a telling comment about the difficulty in reasserting power once it has been ceded to the people. An entertaining evening, somewhat tempered by a lack of any menace in a 100 strong chorus.

The Summerhall venue had a terrifically varied programme this year. Song Noir by Pumajaw  brought a Lynchian approach to cabaret from Pinkie McClure and John Wills (ex-Loop), the highlight was an inspired take on the Peter Gunn theme with Maclure taking Mancini’s riff while Wells conducts a mash-up of what could be Dazed & Confused era Jimmy Page v The Prodigy. One of sport’s great rivalries forms the backdrop to Jamie Wood’s Beating McEnroe, an entertaining and immersive story of bitter defeat as tasted by his six year-old self. The yin and yang of Wood’s battles with his older brother are projected – sometimes literally – onto the epic Borg/McEnroe clash. A dollop of slapstick and the help of some only too willing members of the audience make for a startlingly bonkers finale with loss avenged in Wood’s inimitable hands-on fashion.

Pippa Bailey’s Biding Time (Remix) is a beguiling multi-media exploration of the battle between art and commerce. First performed in 1987, it has been revived and remixed in a collaboration with Louise Quinn (and A Band Called Quinn), film-maker Uisdean Murray and Grid Iron’s Ben Harrison and benefits enormously from advances in technology over the last quarter of a century. Music and sound production are delivered to the audience via silent disco headphones, making the experience unworldly yet hyper-real. Louise Quinn’s songs and performance are strong in their own right and the production benefits from the story’s parallels with her surreal experiences in the music industry. I understand that this production will be touring next year, so it may be coming your way.

Off to the Scottish National Gallery on Princes Street where you can still catch the Peter Doig exhibition until the 3rd of November.  Doig has been fairly and squarely reclaimed  for Scotland on the basis of being born and resident in Edinburgh until the age of three but in truth he’s been elsewhere for most of his life; Trinidad and Canada  before art school in London and then retracing his steps back to Trinidad, painting all the while.  The exhibition title ‘No Foreign Lands’ reflects that journey and, coming as it does from fellow Auld Reekian (“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only…”) Robert Louis Stevenson, it bolsters the Scottish connection.

The show is of works from the last ten years in Trinidad.  Doig works a lot from photographs of scenes that resonate with him so there are quite often various versions of, or excerpts from the same subject and this show is a chance to see a few pairings of these which is a bonus.  Doig is a figurative, painterly painter who revels both in the medium and the depth of art history at his disposal, happy to quote at will from a range of other artists.  If you have even the most cursory knowledge of painting over the last century and a bit you’ll soon have at least half a dozen names in your head as points of reference and the notes by the paintings are not shy of listing them either.  Mine were Gaugin, Rothko, Bacon, Manet, Caulfield, Hopper and Jasper Johns for starters. This isn’t to suggest that the work is simply derivative, a better analogy would be with sampling in music; a painterly riff here, a structural backbeat there, a high class guest on backing vocals.

An enjoyable show and certainly recommended if you can get there in the next eight weeks. Many large scale pieces which range from decoratively atmospheric to deeply engaging.  A room of hand painted posters for film shows from which you can trace the graphic tendencies of some of the larger stuff, plenty of his working out in the form of sketches and photographs.  It may be his method of working from an already captured image but the most moving of these works have that veiled quality of a moment of dreamtime, the kind of sepia distance in which you feel you are reaching back to engage with something already lost to you.

Barb Jungr at Queens Hall was a night approaching perfection.  She’s been touring her ‘Stockport to Memphis’ album set for much of this year and I’ve caught it in various smaller venues.  Here we and accompanist Simon Wallace were blessed with a fabulous grand piano, a beautiful acoustic and Barb singing with the freedom and inspiration that comes from being on top of your game.  One of those nights where audience and performer conspire to make the silences as important and moving as the songs. Here’s Barb talking about Stockport to Memphis.

Tatanka’s reason for being in Edinburgh this year in particular was to support the young folk from Shatter-point Theatre who were breaking their Fringe duck and presented eight nights of improvised comedy under the name of A League of Ordinary Gentlemen – What Happens Next? A well tested format of building an hour long show from audience suggestions was given added momentum by youthful vigour, irreverence and liberal silliness.  Highlights included the pirates from Jersey chancing on the land of the Beyoncés, captured here in glorious Dimmovision by TYTV.

That concludes the report from the Edinburgh jury. Join us next year for some art, larks and of course beer.