Top musicians explore mental health in Scotland

Nice place for working on an album - Rossie Ochil in Perthshire

A GROUP of prominent Scottish musicians have
been busy writing an album of songs to
promote awareness of mental health issues.
The songwriters – including Emma Pollock and
James Yorkston from Idlewild – spent a week in
February collaborating on the album at Rossie Ochil,
in Perthshire.
The project, in particular, aims to help promote
the work of Breathing Space and is being part-sponsored
by the phone line and website service.
The musicians will now head to the studio to
record the songs and the album will be released
later in the year.
Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones, who is leading the
project, said: “We’ve just done the writing session.
It’s coming together really well and we should have
16 good songs.
“The last day of the songwriting collaboration we
had snow and had to cut the session short – we
had to get out while we could.
“We’ve given a deadline of April to get a rough
demo of the finished songs. We’ll rehearse in May
and record in June. The album should be ready by
Other musicians involved in the project include
James Graham (Twilight Sad), Scott Hutchinson
(Frightened Rabbit), Alasdair Roberts and Karine
The project has grown out of the successful
Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival
(SMHAFF) and follows several years of using music
to raise awareness of mental health issues through
live music performances.
The album will form the basis of two
performances, in Glasgow and Edinburgh, during
the SMHAFF in October 2010 and a launch event
will take place during September 2010.
This year’s project will focus on childhood as a
creative theme. The project is aimed primarily at
young adults.

One for me and Blimpy!


Tin asked me to have a listen to These New Puritans and kindly dropped a load of their stuff into the Box for me.

Anyway, I downloaded them and sorted them into the two albums that they have released to date, Beat Pyramid and Hidden.

I listened to both twice at work today, in between other things. I find that listening to new stuff this way is quite helpful. The first time, you don’t think that anything will stick but the second time around I find I remember bits.

I will admit to knowing nothing about the band at all, I had to look on Wikipedia for information. So, they come from Southend-on-Sea. That always reminds me of 70s pub rock, the Kursaal Flyers in particular. Apparently, the Kursaal , which was an amusement park and funfair, isn’t there anymore.

Anyway, let’s move on to These New Puritans. Described as “art rock” and “prog”, I was actually quite surprised by their earlier album, Beat Pyramid, which is a mix of post punk spiky rhythms, loops and drum and bass beats and not at all proggish or art rocky. The first time, I will admit to not liking it but it grew on me a bit. The thing that lets it down, I think, is that it all sounds very derivative and not particularly focused. It has highs and lows, In places it reminds me strongly of the Gang Of Four, the Au Pairs and The Raincoats, with a few bits of PiL and Joy Division thrown into the blend, with the afore-mentioned loops and beats from drum and bass. The one thing it does sound, I think, is young, as in a bit unformed and juvenile, not grown up and properly developed.

The second album, Hidden, is a very different beast. It is a far more mature piece of work and one that probably does deserve the art rock label. It is quite pretentious in places, pretentious as in meaning that it has pretensions to be taken seriously compared to their first album, I think. It has orchestration, woodwind instruments and a choir. It still has the beats and loops but it seems to live in a place where Animal Collective has been hanging out. The writing is a lot smarter, more coherent and the music seems to be a lot more focused. The album is a lot less like a sampler of styles. It sounds like a conceived artefact, which makes it much more listenable, I think.

Not sure anything has yet wormed its way into my ear yet, but I shall carry on listening to them, because I think that they are worth getting to know.

Anyway, as a taster, here’s a track from their second album;

“We Want War by These New Puritans”

Carole’s New Quiz

OK, so now we are all getting settled in the new house, perhaps it is time for a QUIZ!

So, usual thing, 10 tracks, artist and song title please.

I am sure that Blimpy has valuable ‘Spill points for the lucky winner.

If not, there are virtual Crackerjack (CRACKERJACK!) pencils for everyone who gets one right.

Good Luck!

Continue reading

Bill devotes his life to dance

What with our Japanese connections and the forthcoming Scottish music Blimpfest, I thought you’d like to read THIS article I saw in the local paper. It had a rather splendid photo with it of Bill with an important-looking Japanese scroll, but unfortunately that picture’s not on the paper’s website, so I found one of a much younger Bill from somewhere else.


Though I no longer participate in the weekly RR circus I do usually scan through it and I particularly look forward to the off-topic themes that always develop, usually about noonish Sunday and they run through the week. It’s the best part of the entire slog and I feel a kinship with many of the posters, and of course most of them live here also. This weeks discussion re. sci-fi lit; leading to Vonnegut, leading to Desden and WW2 with insightful contributions from gremlin,webcore and others relating pop music to Vonnegut et al.
This gave me an idea for a topic here..
I don’t view the Spill as exclusively a music blog, for me it’s a window into pop culture and contemporary life outside the US, there’s much more here than pop music. I used to teach, my wife also teaches, world history to high school students, and she frequently brings specialty speakers to her classroom to give the students a wider understanding of the topics.
An aside, she was recently in trouble with the local muslim community, or at least with one member because they didn’t approve of the Palestinian speaker she’d invited and in the past has had similar problems with the Jewish community also related to her inviting Palestinians.
But that’s neither here nor there, back to pop culture, my idea was that were I a teacher in this, our hypothetical internet classroom,and I was teaching on the subject of popular culture past and present to adolescent students and I issued an invitation to any and all of you to be guest lecturers, giving you a total free hand to interpret ‘pop culture’ in anyway you choose and to discuss anything you wish on that topic: what would you choose to do? What to you reflects popular culture in all it’s manifestations and what’s worth talking about and how would you illustrate it?
Our hypothetical classroom is fully equipped with all media mod cons, you may use any format you choose to both present and illustrate your topic. You have one hour. We will need a theme, a rough outline and a list of the materials you would use. Anybody want to play this game and generate a bit of discussion?