A Year of Listening Scottishly – February

So that’s one sixth of the year gone already and another month of listening Scottishly behind me.

For the benefit of those of you who have not been following every post on Facebook, waiting eagerly for each successive day’s slice of Scottish pop heaven, here’s February’s list:

1 Danny Wilson Davy
2 Aztec Camera Stray
3 Twin Atlantic Brothers And Sisters
4 King Creosote You’ve No Clue Do You?
5 Idlewild Love Steals Us From Loneliness
6 Del Amitri Heard Through A Wall
7 The Blue Nile Downtown Lights
8 Altered Images Love To Stay
9 Belle & Sebastian The Boys Are Back In Town (Live)
10 Trashcan Sinatras White Horses
11 Camera Obscura Modern Girl
12 Aztec Camera Jump
13 God Help The Girl Funny Little Frog
14 Orange Juice L.O.V.E. Love
15 Teenage Fanclub Here Comes Your Man
16 Close Lobsters I Kiss The Flower In Bloom
17 Ballboy Donald In The Bushes With A Bag Of Glue
18 Franz Ferdinand Darts Of Pleasure
19 Cocteau Twins Musette And Drums
20 Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan Come Undone
21 Eurythmics There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)
22 The Pastels Up For A Bit
23 Trashcan Sinatras Weightlifting
24 Peatbog Faeries The Naughty Step
25 Roddy Frame English Garden
26 Big Country In A Big Country
27 Mogwai This Messiah Needs Watching
28 Belle & Sebastian Fox In The Snow

I particularly enjoyed ‘covers’ week which presented me with an additional challenge and led me to the discovery of Teenage Fanclub’s excellent version of The PixiesHere Comes Your Man – further themed weeks are in the pipeline.

It’s certainly no struggle finding suitable material and while of course the list is inevitably going to be skewed in favour of my own 1980s, indie-pop leanings, I’ve been trying to mix it up a bit, dipping my toe into the murky waters of folk music for example, and I intend to continue to push the boundaries of my comfort zone as the year progresses. I’m grateful for any suggestions (I’m not taking requests as such – yet!) but please don’t ask for any Nazareth as a Glesga’ Kiss offends…

One thing that’s become very apparent is the dearth of suitable Scottish music dating from before the mid-to-late 1970s and it raises an interesting question. Why did the 1960s pop revolution (apparently) not take hold in Scotland? Both Glasgow and Edinburgh (and Aberdeen and Dundee for that matter) seem like perfect breeding grounds for the sort of guitar-based rhythm and blues/pop bands which sprung up in their hundreds south of the border, but I’m struggling to find anything worthy of inclusion. It’s almost as if the entire nation spent twenty years listening to what was going on elsewhere, taking it all in and quietly, secretively perfecting its pop sensibilities, before handing Edwyn Collins a guitar and a microphone and saying, ‘Go on. You know what to do…’

Of course I may be wrong and there may be some excellent 1960s/early 70s material waiting to be discovered. But that’s for another month.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of highlights from February’s posts…

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!