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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.