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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. They’ll Rock Your World. Eels @ Glasgow ABC

Knuckles, The Chet & E giving it large.

Knuckles, The Chet & E giving it large.

 

It doesn’t seem that long since Mark Everett last toured here, but hell, I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to see this band play again. They are here for the No Mean City Festival, but reading between the lines, these guys just love playing together and have a short UK tour to tie in with their festival commitments.

The evening’s entertainment gets off to a predictably unexpected start: bouncers insist that we retreat from the stage to make room for what appears to be a bunch of Virgin cabin crew complete with wheelie cases, but turns out to be a burlesque troupe. I must confess that this didn’t entirely throw me as I had seen them a few years back in Lisbon where the first support act was a ventriloquist. The whole thing passes off in entertaining enough fashion, with the su[pport baton passed to Misty Miller, fully clothed and sporting a Telecaster. Her main inspirations would appear to be PJ Harvey and her former drummer who provides ample subject material for her love songs. I liked her guitar playing which was a mixture of delicacy and dirty open chord distortion.

E

E

 

Eels take the stage in regulation Adidas track suits, beards and sunglasses, with E sporting a somewhat ill-advised headband. Regular followers will be aware of Mark Everett’s whimsical attitude to pleasing audiences. Who can forget the post Blinking Lights tour, a noise-fest that would try the patience of the most ardent fan (and happened to be the ladyllama’s introduction to the band, which had her questioning my sanity). Tonight however we are in safe hands, with a set largely hewn for Wonderful Glorious with a smattering of oldies from Hombre Lobo (Fresh Blood & Tremendous Dynamite), Shootenanny! (Saturday Morning & Dirty Girl) and Electro-Shock Blues ( Climbing Up To The Moon), interspersed with good humoured joshing and band hugs for all concerned. It is rare to see a band enjoy themselves as thoroughly as these guys and the playing is bone-crunchingly tight; a total of three guitarists including The Chet ably driven along by Big Al (the lady llama prefers Kool G Murder, who she claims was “looking at” her in Lisbon!) and the excellent Knuckles. They would certainly be my nomination for best covers act and tonight they excel with a blistering take on Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well and a fabulous and faithful take on the Stones’ Beast of Burden – Amy would surely approve,

 

E in the zone and impervious to distraction.

E in the zone and impervious to distraction.

 

After the usual encores the band return after lights up with a kick ass Dog Faced Boy, accompanied by the burlesque troupe, this time fully clothed. A good time was had by all.

Rockpool Hospital

So I was down the road in the East Neuk over the weekend, celebrating the non-demise of Fence Records, at an all-dayer in Crail. It was really nice to see some new local bands & performers under the Fence umbrella; the amazing Lidh being one of them. Anyway, she has handily just released a new EP and a video to go with the lead track “Rockpool Hospital”. It’s a bit of an earworm, very moreish, very pretty & happy and the video is tons of fun (show your small children!).  Hope you like it. Lidh’s website is here.

Nile Rodgers & Jean Pierre Muller: An Indigo Night in F

Edinburgh has played host to many artistic collaborations over the years, with none more intriguing than the 7×7 project between artist Jean Pierre Muller and seven musicians: Nile Rodgers, Robert Wyatt, Mulatu Astatke, Archie Shepp, Sean O’Hagan, Kassin and Terry Riley. The project commenced last year at the Summerhall venue with the creation by Jean Pierre of a street of individual houses to explore with the soundscape provided by his seven collaborators.

Last weekend saw a further development with Muller and Rodgers presenting their Indigo night in F – a broadening of the artwork, live performance and some engaging storytelling, drawing on Rodgers’ life story and career which had been joyously detailed in his recent autobiography.

The two tiered stage is bare and the soundtrack is 30’s jazz, a nod to their Harlem Nights sub-theme. Gradually the stage is filled with a series of pop-art style cut-outs and then Muller arrives at the easel to paint an introduction in art and words using a stencil to link the various ‘F’s: freedom, family, fate, frustration and so on. Nile Rodgers then appears between the cut-outs to introduce the first of the pre-recorded movements – a very contemporary sound with the sort of insistent groove and vocoder work one could readily associate with his most recent collaborators.

Rodgers’ storytelling is vivid and what a tale he has to tell, having been raised by hippy heroin addicts, he joined the Black Panthers and played in the house band at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre. A life-size cut-out of the late Bernard Edwards is placed beside him as he introduces us to the collaborator with whom he became musically inseparable. What Rodgers brought to the table with melodies was matched by Edwards’ gift for arrangement, and we get a fantastic insight into their talent for creating music that appears on the surface to be simple and sing along, but is awash with innovation, jazz chords and a love of chromatics.

A series of terrific stories about Grace Jones, Club 54 and Diana Ross is interspersed with solo runs through Good Times/Rappers Delight, Upside Down and the fabulous Thinking About You and some entertaining banter with Muller, still at the easel on the upper tier. Towards the end of the performance Rodgers (thankfully) narrowly avoids decapitation as a mobile of Cab Calloway’s head – which was suspended from the ceiling – slips its mooring and crashes down onto the microphone.

The two artists are presenting this project as a work in progress, and have been in negotiations about taking the project further. The mix of pop-art, hit music and the pair’s engaging personalities are certainly a winning combination and it is a measure of the man that Rodgers has made the time to see this project through at a time when his currency is so high. Mamma Mia is certainly ain’t and, whatever happens, if you get the opportunity to see it just go!

EOTWQ…is woozily romantic

I’m trapped in an abandoned building

Come find me now

We’ll hide out

We’ll speak in our secret tongues

Will you come back to my corner

Spent too long alone tonight

Would you come brighten my corner

A lit torch to the woodpile high

My current earworm is the Frightened Rabbit song, above, I love the you-and-me-against-the world lyrics, a bit soppy maybe but it’s the certain romance that appeals to me, I’ve always believed companionship to be the most important thing – so here are the woozy romantic questions:

1. What’s the sweetest, or most romantic thing you’ve ever done? 

2. What’s the sweetest, or most romantic thing that’s been done in your direction? 

3. What’s your favourite thing to take the edge off? 

4. Did you ever run away anywhere? Where did you go, how far did you get, were you with anyone? 

5. I know I banned music questions from EOTWQ, but what’s your favourite romantic lyric? 

kisses xx

Scots indie goes…..POP!

Chvrches

 

As we’ve not had a post for today, I thought I’d sneak one in before bedtime. “The Mother We Share” by Chvrches has snuck up on me, catching it on the radio, then finding out that there’s some ‘Spill Scots indie faves in the band, specifically one former Twilight Sad member, and one from DsD’s besties list, the mighty Aereogramme. There may well be a glut of bad 80s influenced electropop kicking about at the moment, but this is simply a fab song, with a wee hint of the old Scots melancholic beauty to boot.

New Steve Mason – “Fight Them Back”

Former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason’s 2010 album was voted best of the year in the ‘Spill album of the year awards, and now he’s back with a follow up. In revolutionary mode, “Fight Them Back” is primo Mason, with the signature dual vocal melody outro in place and a scathing Tony Blair sample to finish with. I bloody love it, goosebumps time, and yeah it’s about time the corrupt capitalist system got a boot in the face.

A Fence Post

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I think my love of Fence Records is shared by a good few ‘Spillers, so let’s draw some festive attention to a new release from them. It’s a split 7″ with previews from two of Fence’s top artists of their forthcoming LPs. The Pictish Trail has moved to the Isle of Eigg and has finally managed to follow up his amazing Secret Sounds Vol 1 in his Eigg caravan. That’s him there with his new flock. “The Handstand Crowd” is a slow burn beauty with King Creosote on the accordion. It’s not as immediate as the sublime “Michael Rocket”, a contender for tune of the year (if it’s not in Saneshane’s Festive ‘Spill I will be very surprised) from a few months back, but it is lovely. I saw Pictish play live last, backed by Eigg’s own metal band Massacre Cave (not bad considering Eigg has a population of just over 100), and it was stupendous. They really were his (metal) Crazy Horse.

The flip is new material from Kid Canaveral, which I am so glad to hear. I love them, I really do. A long time coming, but well worth the wait. Yearning, anthemic, fab, and gets better with each listen. It tackles the current drawing in of the light hours up here in Scotland as we descend into another dark season of the soul.

Strings Attached

My friends in The Electric String Orchestra put on a big show in Glasgow a few months back, which I was lucky enough to catch on camera. They do rock n roll & popular covers with a 12 piece orchestra (Bowie, Muse, Lady GaGa, GnR, King Creosote etc) and have guest singers also (Emma Pollock, Twilight Sad still to come, I will post when they’re ready!).

This clip is of fine Highlands folk singer Rachel Sermanni performing one of her songs, Rachel has gone down well on The ‘Spill previously, so I thought you may like to see this.

And after the jump, Britney Spears gets tackled.  Continue reading

Hardcore, hardcore, listen to the crowd roar

Withered Hand: ‘spill favourites usually pedalling atheist hymns hit the button marked Ramones with help from Rozi Plain and the Hefner chap , hardcore hardcore listen to the crowd roar – this ain’t no mindless mediocrity Mr Wilson. -insert smiley happy face icon here to denote maximum enjoyment-.

12 for 2012 No. 6: Smackvan

I know absolutely nothing about Smackvan, but I’m sure as anything I’m going to try and find out more about their late-night, miserablist, slowcore, Becktonian, Scots amblings in 2012. It doesn’t help either that their record label has called it a day and deleted their website with it. However I do know that this song is just fantastic.

Thanks to Matthew at Song, By Toad Records for pointing this one out to me.

12 for 2012 No 1: Rachel Sermanni

I’ve been keeping an eye on Rachel Sermanni for a wee while now, and she’s come up with the goods – some slightly schizo twitchy folk disturbia from the deepest darkest forests of the Scottish Highlands. It may only be a hundred miles north of where I live, but it’s another world – a godless, dark wasteland of wild-eyed beasts dancing with the devil in the woods.

Happy Birthday DarceysDad !

This is to celebrate the birthday of a most sociable recommender. It marks DsD’s broad-minded but sometimes baffled engagement with the music known as Jazz, and the Scottish connection with St Andrew’s Day.  So, here’s the astonishing Rufus Harley, playing John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, on the bagpipes. I hope others will join in the good wishes, and maybe even post something DsD will like.  Happy Birthday DarceysDad !

it is not as bad as you think ! ! !

HoshinoSakura

The Oates Field – Wild Oates

I hadn’t heard of The Oates Field and still wouldn’t know of them were it not for a lil’ serendipity. I was due to review another act playing at the Edinburgh Fringe, which unfortunately had to cancel due to illness. The other musicians booked to perform included Alan Oates, and this is his newly released album.

The Oates Field is Alan Oates who writes and plays pretty much everything with Iona Marshall on backing vocals and Chris Lowrie on the drums. Oates is a regular on the Fence Collective’s live scene – a Fife based community of musicians regularly collaborating amongst themselves, moving between folk, indie and electronica.

The imprint of both Fife and Fence is evident lyrically and in ambience on Wild Oates which has a  broad range for what is a pastoral album in the true sense (Oates lives in Leith on the outskirts of Edinburgh). The arrangements are mainly based around Oates’ Lo-Fi guitar sounds but the use of electronica is sparing and effective and the whole album has an accomplished loose feel and open sound.

Life, Fife is an uplifting celebration of the music scene, Nature takes us on a trip to the countryside, Watches muses on the passing of time and has a great groove and The End of The Show which closes the album opens with a soundscape echoing the Boards of Canada. The four tracks are on the player below – please listen to the whole lot.

Llama verdict: a wiggle of both ears, lots of eyelash batting followed by a joyous trot around the enclosure.

Wild Oates is released today

http://www.the oatesfield.com

A Fright At The Museum

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A visitor returning to the newly refurbished National Museum of Scotland would certainly be taken aback: how the hell do I get in and why are there so many people in here on such a beautiful day? I used to walk past it on my way home from work. They had late opening on a Tuesday and if it was raining I would go in for a wander. It was badly lit, badly organised and there had been repeated attempts to modernise which were utterly useless.

There was however a masterplan to put things right: the neighbouring site was to become home to the Museum of Scotland and it would eventually link to the original Venetian inspired Victorian building. So out went the flea-bitten taxidermy, fusty display cases, stupid mezzanine levels and water features and in came the clarity of a well designed space and the second most important thing in a museum: light.

The entrance has been reworked so you go in at basement level and walk up to the splendour of the Grand Gallery which was bathed with dazzling sunlight on Saturday, the day after it had re-opened. The place was packed out so we only got about halfway around the exhibits.

Being a relatively small museum it keeps the quality up and the repetition down so it’s a child friendly place. The galleries have been opened up vertically to create neck-craning spaces filled with suspended exhibits. There are good exhibits on the ancient world and on design in the home. You can go up to a rooftop terrace for lunch and a fantastic viewing platform giving great views of the city. And it’s all free!

Tin Croc

Aiden & Malcolm make new music, but don’t call it Arab Strap – it’s just a Slow Club cover. Meanwhile Scott & Tracyanne have a shot at making Frightened Camera, or Obscurabbits, if you please. I realise that this doesn’t make much sense to most ‘Spillers, but I have about a billion new ‘Spill posts to read having been away for a couple of weeks – you busy bees!

Well done Kenny!

I’m sure that all of ‘Spilldom knows that King Creosote is one of my utter favourite singers, so I’m exceedingly pleased he’s been nominated for this year’s Mercury Music prize for his “Diamond Mine” album, a collaboration with Jon Hopkins. The last time I saw Kenny he was singing by the creels at Crail harbour, a fishing village just down the coast from where I live, and the album that’s been nominated is a concept record in the form of a postcard from a Fife coastal village – so well done to KC, and big up the East Neuk of Fife, Fence Records, and all that sail in her!

 

2010 ‘Spill album of the year – Dub version!

Steve Mason, who won the coveted ‘Spill album of the year 2010 for “Boys Outside” has gone and made a dub version, of the whole album. In cahoots with legendary producer Dennis Bovell (Linton Kwesi Johnson, I-Roy Janet Kay, The Pop Group, Orange Juice, The Slits) to boot.

Here’s a preview from “Ghosts Outside”

I always liked “No Protection” the Mad Professor dub album of Massive Attack’s “Protection” record more than the original, doncha know?

A Wee Chat With: Reverieme

Reverieme plays amazing pop music,  which hasn’t been off my stereo over the last few months. I was blown away after hearing one particular song (“Get To Know Me” – a well-recieved former Earworm on The ‘Spill) and charmed by the handwritten note that came with the CD once I’d ordered it from her bandcamp page. Reverieme is Louise Connell whose immensely catchy, multi-layered pop with a literary bent to it, has been an utter breath of fresh air to my ears. In the following interview you can find out how she narrowly avoided making a Stephen King concept record, lifts the lid on Airdrie’s hidden world, and why she’s more than likely to be singing about 1930s syphilis outbreaks – you can also hear a couple of tracks too!

1. “Get To Know Me” seems to have quite a story behind it – like the perspective it’s written from, could you say some more about it? 

I am a little infamous for loving gender mix-ups in music, whether that’s in the look of an act (Katie Sketch springs to mind), the vocal style (Antony Hegarty’s voice is particularly beautiful), or in the lyrical perspective (which is the only one I can manage without making any major life-changing decisions) so I suppose ‘Get to Know Me’ is one manifestation of that! It was also a reaction to being labelled ‘twee’ an awful lot. I thought, ‘if they want saccharine, I’ll give them saccharine!’ (incidentally, I am not entirely sure who ‘they’ are – I fear some paranoid delusion had led me to project my own anxieties on to some entirely innocent parties) which, of course, backfired as it is now my trademark song, or whatever the equivalent is for an unknown artist with no trademark anything. After some deep, meaningful soul-searching, however, I came to terms with the fact that I am utterly and inescapably twee and should just stop being such an arse about it.

“Get To Know Me” 

2. The album has got a diverse and wide ranging sound & instrumentation, and a lot of interesting bits of production throughout. How did this come about, is it in the studio or was this all planned out before you went to record it? I guess I’m kinda asking about your writing & recording process. 

Pretty much all production credit would have to go to David Anderson, producer extraordinaire. My own influence went as far as writing, recording, saying yes when things sounded good, and saying no when I couldn’t get my tiny mind around some suggestions. My creative direction went along the lines of wittering on about how much I loved pop and suggesting artists and albums whose production I admired. You know you’re on to a good thing when your dual suggestion of The Dresden Dolls and Crowded House doesn’t immediately get you laughed out of the room.

3. I’ve never been to Airdrie, what’s it like there? 

There’s nowhere better if you need a greetings card or a trip to the tanning beds! Let the record show that I didn’t actually suggest money laundering, I merely commented on the sheer volume of card and tanning shops in such a small, lightly populated area.

“Weans”

4. I can hear hints of a few bands in there – like Camera Obscura here and there and also bizarrely Malcolm Middleton on “Perfect In Theory” – what are your influences? 

I like to think of ‘Perfect in Theory’ as David’s wee pop punk baby on the album (if you can erase the creepy images that idea may connote) although I definitely see where you’re coming from. I really like Camera Obscura as well but funnily enough didn’t start listening to them ‘til after the album was written and recorded, although I am in complete agreement with the comparisons (perhaps the influence crept in by osmosis?). But I digress! I think artists like Jenny Lewis (and Rilo Kiley) and M. Ward, who you could say are on the country side of indie-pop, have been a big influence. Books, also, I’d have written about a tenth of what I have so far if it wasn’t for all the awesome things I’ve read (and I’d have written about a hundred times what I have so far if I could read more than a page a day).

5. Is “Ma Bear” about anyone in particular, how did they react when they heard it? 

I’m afraid this is going to be the most incredibly dull and uninteresting answer to a question that could have yielded such juicy goss. The song is actually about a short story by one of my favourite writers, James T. Farrell (most famous for the Studs Lonigan trilogy, as if anyone cared). You will never feel more despondent about life than after reading some Farrell and the story on which ‘Ma Bear’ is based is no exception. I won’t spoil it for you, since I’m sure my description has already got you rushing out to Waterstones, but it depicts an incredibly unhappy marriage and explores the ever-so cheery topics of backstreet abortions and syphilis in 1930s America. I fear I have not translated these themes quite so successfully through my own interpretation.

6. Anyone you’re listening to that you’d like to recommend? 

Oh yes, some wee gems! Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks have just released their first EP, ‘The Whittling’, and it is so absolutely brilliant (incidentally, Andrew did a load of backing vocals for Melodies but of course that’s not why I like his music – that’s because of his rad hair). Other favourites are Shambles Miller, who is hilarious live so do attend a show if you can, and the many projects of the very talented Matthew Healy (including Loch Awe).

7. Whatcha got planned next? 

I’m hoping to get some nice gigs around Scotland planned for the summer with some of the aforementioned acts (who have yet to be asked formally!). I’ll be playing at Bloc at the end of May also, supporting the mighty Beerjacket in what may seem like an Airdrie theme night. Aside from gigs, I’m hoping to get a few low-fi recordings together for a new EP to be released at the end of summer. Unfortunately this is very dependent on a massive improvement in my music production skills.

8. You’ve got quite a way with a lyric, what are some of the themes you write about? 

 Since I’m incredibly dull and my personal life doesn’t offer up a great deal of source material, a lot of my songs will wind up being inspired by my favourite films and books (though, fortunately, the Stephen King concept record has been avoided thus far). Nowadays I try to avoid anything overly sentimental, I would much rather sing about (any pathetically limited grasp I have of) science and philosophy than try to force anything too corny. I hope I don’t sound too silly saying that, though, especially when my music really does sound pitifully sentimental and precious a lot of the time!

Reverieme’s “Melodies” album is only £5 for CD & download from her bandcamp page, and I thoroughly recommend you get one before the ltd edition of 100 sells out, you also get a wee badge with a cow on it – oh yes! 

Top Ten Albums Of 2010 – Part Four

Here we are then, the best two records of the last twelve months, it’s been stupidly hard to choose placings between these two records but it had to be done, so….

2. “I Speak Because I Can” – Laura Marling

The ‘Spill were one of the first music sites to write about Laura Marling, nearly three years ago, and in that time she hasn’t put a foot wrong or released a bad song. Her second LP has been christened “not bloody Marling again” by Mrs McF, and found Laura losing any timidness evident on the first album with a strong, emotional and unique voice.

“I Speak Because I Can” is a big rock wolf disguised in an acoustic folky woolly jumper; the title track is below.

1. “Method” – 30 Pounds Of Bone

I went a bit bonkers and declared this album of the year a month ago, so it’s probably not any surprise to see it here. “Method” is a mix of heart rending broken down folk and guitar freakouts hiding the beautiful pop songs, but that’s the way I like it.  A lost-at-sea classic. Listen to his reinterpretation of the folk standard “All For Me Grogg” below, and weep…

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Top Ten Albums of 2010 – Part Three

We’re getting closer, here’s four and three.

4. “Nothing Hurts” – Male Bonding

Male Bonding’s LP is the musical equivalent of comfort food for me. In the early 90s they would’ve been called “noiseniks” and I probably would’ve crowd surfed as they supported the Senseless Things at the New Cross Chimney & Bracket. It’s 29 minutes and 13 tracks of fuzzed out alt pop, stolen Nirvana basslines, joyous backing vocals, lo-fi feedback, battered drumkits, vague singing, incessant riffage, tropical top end – basically everything that’s actually any good about 3 guys with guitar, bass n drums – but stuff that’s been forgotten ever since bloody britpop happened.

3. “Winter Of Mixed Drinks” – Frightened Rabbit

It’s always hard to get the follow up to a record you hold dear, as it can never be as good as what you have in your head and your heart. It took a while – and perseverance- but I came round to the new record, and now I bloody love it. BLOODY LOVE IT!

Top Ten Albums Of 2010 – Part Two

Here’s my seven to five!

7. “Boys Outside” – Steve Mason

The former Beta Band singer’s first release under his own name, a very enjoyable collection that veers from polished pop songs to space dub reggae – all topped with the unique Mason vocal touch.

6. “Phosphene Dream” – The Black Angels

My fave modern heavy deavy psyche rockers went pop with this, their third LP, throwing in some 60s garage nuggets amongst the usual skull crushing i’m stuck in a foxhole in ‘Nam paranoid drone antics. “River Of Blood”, below, falls into the latter category however – yikes!

5. “Subjection” – Your Loyal Subjects

Guitar and drums haven’t sounded this good for bloody ages. Heavy mental action from the band no-one’s calling “Viking Bolt”. Nice sleeve that too…