Yeah so, a few weeks back we had another gig and it was awesome. The bands were great, we sold out the Wee Red Bar and everything, and everyone had a spectacular night.
There was a the ragged folk of Jamie from Broken Records, upbeat pop fun with Sebastian Dangerfield, dischordant noise from Edinburgh School for the Deaf and guitar-smashing drama (and a whole lot more) from PAWS.
Also on board was intrepid photographer Erlend Barclay to capture the evening in photos. The results are below, and I think they sum up the evening rather nicely!
Sorry about the length of the post, but we hope you enjoy the visuals.
Not content with packing the bill with some of the finest local talent, we’re delighted to announce that Broken Records frontman Jamie Sutherland has joined the line-up of The Tidal Wave of Indifference Presents on February 25.
Taking time out from writing a new album, Jamie will kick things off with a short solo set of new songs and old, setting the scene nicely for the rest of the night.
With Sebastian Dangerfield, Edinburgh School for the Deaf and PAWS also on the bill you’d be batshit crazy to miss this one.
Tickets are available now from Avalanche Records and Brown Paper Tickets. Might we suggest that now might be a good time to get one to avoid the feeling of crushing disappointment that would come with missing out?
Everyone loves free stuff. Everyone also loves strawberries.
So when news of a hitherto unknown band called Strawberry Ocean Sea firing three songs up on their website for free download broke, the Tidal Wave of Indifference turned to thoughts of dessert, milkshakes and tennis.
Once we woke up from that delicious dream, we remembered that there were some tunes available for zero pence and rushed over to get them.
The results were a very pleasant surprise. The tunes definitely play more to the expansive-sounding ‘ocean sea’ part of their name rather than anything too sickly sweet.
Enough is Never Enough and Under the Moonlight carry the melancholic melody of a Scottish Echo and the Bunnymen while Today’s the Day has a clear nod to Arcade Fire’s Wake Up, a comparison that may be a little passé these days, but one that’s still weighty and evocative.
The five-piece are Glasgow based and made up by Jonny Skinner (vocals/guitar), Greg Kenney (Guitar), Richie Bell (bass/backing vocals), Stu Kennedy (keys/synths/backing vocals) and Cobo Boyle (drums).
I caught up with Jonny to find out a wee bit more.
Our sound is a mix of anger, boredom, desperation and hope.
What are the key influences on your sound?
Great name – both sweet and epic-sounding. How did you come up with it?
We came up with the name because I kept having a recurring dream about a place where you can do what you want and be happy and have hope and belief. In my mind it looks like a Strawberry Ocean Sea, so that’s what I called us.
How did you guys get together?
We’ve all known each other a long time, so we’ve always been together. The band’s an extension of our friendship.
You’ve put some free tracks up on your site – any more formal releases planned?
We’re also going back into record at the start of April and we’re gonna put the songs out as a single or EP. So listen out.
You can get these tunes for nada over at the band’s website with a wee sneak preview below.
There’s a few shows coming up too, including an appearance at Edinburgh’s Maggie’s Chamber on Saturday (ok, tomorrow) at 9.40 as part of the controversial Haddowfest, so if you’ve got your ticket sorted already you should pop along. If you don’t you’re missing out on sets by Broken Records, Laki Mera, Kitty the Lion and loads more. There isn’t even an obligation to see Razorlight, so go, aye?
April 8, Whitburn Welfare
April 23, Glasgow Classic Grand (part of Easter Fest)
May 28 Under the Moonlight, their own night at Stereo in Glasgow.
Now that my Annual Xmas Album Countdown has been announced, this feels like a good time to reflect on what others have been saying.
Magazine-wise the unashamedly mainstream Q made a good choice with Arcade Fire while both Uncut and the Skinny plumped for Joanna Newsom’s latest opus, which I’m slightly ashamed to say I haven’t heard yet.
NME made a brave, surprising and very welcome choice by picking out These New Puritans and overall, their list wasn’t bad. I actually find the NME’s list to be usually pretty good, despite the guff they cover through the year and this Christmas was no different.
Of the big websites, Drowned in Sound made a very obscure choice with Emeralds and Pitchfork opted for Kanye West, a result which both baffles and fascinates me, not being a fan of the self-important jackass. But who am I to argue – muso scientists Metacritic also have his latest album sitting top of the pile for 2010.
But what of Scotland?
Well, I was privileged to take part in the second annual BAMS vote. That’s Bloggers and Music Sites to the likes of you. My top five albums post should be an obvious signpost to who I voted for – my choices didn’t win but a couple did rather well, with The National running out clear winners. Here’s the top 30 in full:
1. The National – High Violet
2. Admiral Fallow – Boots Met My Face
3. Meursault – All Creatures Will Make Merry
4. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
5. Kid Canaveral – Shouting at Wildlife
6. The Phantom Band – The Wants
7. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
8. The Last Battle – Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea
9. Broken Records – Let Me Come Home
10. Bronto Skylift – The White Crow
11. Beach House – Teen Dream
12. The Fire & I – Stampede Finale
13. Sufjan Stevens – Age Of Adz
14. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
15. Best Coast – Crazy For You
16. Mitchell Museum – The Peters Port Memorial Service
17. Teenage Fanclub – Shadows
18. The Scottish Enlightenment – St Thomas
19. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
20. Jonsi – Go
21. RM Hubbert – First & Last
22. Errors – Come Down With Me
23. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
24. Sleigh Bells – Treats
25. The Boy Who Trapped The Sun – Fireplace
26. Micah P Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs
27. Bruce Springsteen – The Promise
28. How To Swim – Retina (Or More Fun Than A Vat Of Love)
29. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
30. Silver Columns – Yes and Dance
The National were overcome with joy and told poll compiler and Scottish blogging demi-god Peenko: “That’s great news. Thanks for the support!” Ummm. Ok.
Alongside yours truly, the other sites that took part are as follows:
- Peenko doesn’t just co-ordinate the BAMS, he does his own list too
- Our man in Korea, Scrawls & Bawls continues to stalk a fast-rising American indie rock band but likes some other stuff too and has also evoked the spirit of Peel with a Festive Forty where you might recognise one of the guest contributors
- Kowalskiy was still counting down his list at the time of writing.
At the time of going to press, Last Year’s Girl hadn’t yet published her chart but if I were a betting man, I’d stick a few quid on the National figuring highly; and while Matthew from Song, By Toad dithers over his personal choices, he’s calling on readers to nominate their favourites.
On a different footing, my regular podcast contributor Slide Into My Hand has posted a Christmas special here. He’ll be talking about – and playing – his favourite tracks of the year and there’ll be tunes from Mogwai, Cee Lo Green, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Beach Boys, These New Puritans, PJ Harvey and loads more.
Finally, there won’t be a chart on Radar, but they’ll be publishing nominations from their contributors (including moi) for their bands and gigs of the year in the coming days.
Right that’s just about me. I’m about to go into hibernation with my ladies until the New Year – a period which will be sadly sullied by coming into the office. Before I pull the shutters down, here’s some festive cheer courtesy of my favourite Christmas movie of all time – Die Hard.
I’d say it’s been a vintage year for quality music. Before I get into this year’s top five, here’s another 25 that didn’t quick make the list but all come highly recommended by the Tidal Wave of Indifference:
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
Beach House – Teen Dream
Bear in Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth
Broken Records - Let Me Come Home
Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Burns Unit - Side Show
Die! Die! Die! – Form
Field Music - Field Music (Measure)
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Here We Go Magic - Pigeons
The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
I Build Collapsible Mountains - A Month of Lost Memories
James Yuill - Movement in a Storm
Les Savy Fav - Root for Ruin
Liars – Sisterworld
Maps and Atlases - Perch Patchwork
Mimas - Lifejackets
Mitchell Museum - The Peters Port Memorial Service
No Age - Everything in Between
PVT - Church With No Magic
The Scottish Enlightenment - St Thomas
Serena-Maneesh - No 2: Abyss in B Minor
UNKLE - Where Did The Night Fall
The Unwinding Hours - The Unwinding Hours
Yeasayer - Odd Blood
I could name plenty more but if I did I’d be sailing dangerously close to ‘just naming every album I picked up this year’ territory. Anyways…
5. Caribou – Swim
Swim by name, Swim by nature. Aquatic references were all over electronic wizard Dan Snaith’s latest record, reviewed in full here. For me this took electronic music somewhere entirely new and cemented Caribou’s reputation as one of its leading lights.
4. The Last Battle – Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea
Ah, of course. There had to be a record by a relatively unknown downbeat Scottish folk troupe near the top of the list didn’t there? The debut album by Leith’s Last Battle, reviewed in full here was the pick of the bunch and a band I’d love to see reach beyond the Scottish scene. This is a particularly lo-fi video from their in-store performance in Edinburgh’s Avalanche a few months back - I was there but mercifully, I’m just out of shot.
3. Foals – Total Life Forever
Foals could easily have slipped my attention altogether. I passed on their debut Antidotes, dismissing them as NME fodder, but thankfully airplay for Spanish Sahara and Miami prompted me to investigate further and thank god I did. Total Life Forever has depth – both musical and emotional – intricate arrangements and, in Blue Blood, probably the song of the year.
2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
I liked 2007’s Neon Bible but there’s no doubting this is a vast improvement on an album that disappointed many. Described as bloated by some, lacklustre by others, I went into considerable depth about how much I liked it on its release. My opinion hasn’t changed – I still think it’s absolutely brilliant.
1. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
It was always going to be one hell of an album to pip Arcade Fire to the top. And well, here it is. By blending the best elements of indie pop, shoegaze and minimalist electronica into a single record, Bradford Cox has created his masterpiece. An absolute must buy for all music fans. You can read my full review here.
So that’s it for another year. I’ll be doing a bit of a round up of what other sites are saying in the next days, plus a look ahead to 2011. Now it’s over to you – aside from Dundonian mouthpiece Stevie, you’ve all been suspiciously quiet so far – I normally expect a significant amount of piss-taking every year I do this and the list wouldn’t be complete without them, so bring the comments on!!!
Album of the Week: Broken Records – Let Me Come Home
Building a band up to be the next big thing before knocking them down mere months later is a music journalism cliché but it still happens rather a lot.
More often than not it’s down to over-excitable hacks having to hastily backtrack when they realise the acts they’ve bigged up are in fact utter toss, but there are less deserving casualties.
Take Edinburgh’s Broken Records, for example. The toast of Auld Reekie’s music scene, a festival fixture and with numerous publications, including the NME queuing up to heap praise on them in 2007-2008.
But when their debut album was released in early ’09 it was shat upon from a great height, with a particularly harsh review in The Skinny almost causing a local rammy.
Now I liked the album, but have to admit it wasn’t everything I’d hoped it would be. This was probably down to a sense of over-familiarity with the songs, overly fussy production tempering the bluster of their live shows and perhaps an eventual realisation that on top of five or six great songs there was a wodge of filler.
That said, I felt they had been harshly treated and am pleased to see that they’re back with a new album, radio airplay and some glowing reviews of Let Me Come Home, and I’m about to add to that growing pile.
Let Me Come Home has been described as a rockier album than Until the Earth Begins to Part but I have to disagree – if anything, it’s more measured in its approach. The loose cannon energy of older numbers A Good Reason and If the News Makes You Sad Don’t Watch was breathtaking. But the pacier numbers here – A Darkness Rises Up and You Know You’re Not Dead are kept on a firm leash and don’t quite hit the ‘ceilidh at the gates of Hell’* feel of previous work.
It’s not that they’re holding anything back, however. I’m sensing a more mature approach to their songwriting, the band having been wounded by previous injustices and now happier to just be themselves, rather than try to live up to their fast and furious folk band persona.
A Leaving Song is the perfect opener – reflective of lyric, and gently paced but with an undercurrent of pounding drums. Jamie Sutherland demonstrates his range of powerful vocals through the album and finds the perfect foil in Sparrow and the Workshop’s Jill O’Sullivan on the haunting Dia Dos Namorados (Day of the Enamoured if you don’t speak Spanish).
Perhaps the ‘rockier’ description comes from guitars being higher up in the mix, thanks to Tony Doogan’s production, no surprise when you spot Mogwai on his CV, but there are no walls of noise here. Songs like The Motorcycle Boy Reigns and Ailene demonstrate that emotive indie rock doesn’t have to be insipid dross like some of the wet blanket bands that have been propelled to wider success.
It’s stirring stuff all the way through. Subtle flecks of cello, violin and piano show that their rootsy, ahem, roots have not been forgotten either.
Broken Records have shown on Let Me Come Home that all that early hype was not without justification and that the band have a bright future.
Jamie Sutherland was happy to answer a few questions about the album and didn’t shy away from talking about their previous troubles…
Many of the songs on the first album had clearly been kicking about for a few years – how did it feel to start afresh with a new batch of tunes?
It’s always exciting to have a new batch of songs, as certainly after two years of touring the songs off the last album, it was starting to feel as if we were going through the motions a little. I think we are all really excited about getting out and playing these songs to people, and the new directions we can take the live set.
Until the Earth Begins to Part was unfairly maligned in some publications. Do you feel you have something to prove?
I think we were all a little stung by some of the criticism that came our way from the first album. I think this happened for a variety of reasons, but mainly through bad timing. We had some contractual wranglings before we signed to 4AD, and this slowed up bringing out the record for about six months, by which time people were looking to different bands such as Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective, which we didn’t really fit into. I can certainly see some flaws in the first record, but in my opinion, I still feel it was a really good first record to bring out, and I’ll always be proud of it. I don’t feel we have anything to prove, as critics and the public will always have their own agenda on how they perceive a record, so I think you just have to put your head down and work, and with a little luck people will like it!
There’s obviously been some changes in personnel. Were Arne (Kolb – cello) and David (Fothergill – bass) involved with the new album? Does the line-up feel pretty settled now?
We recorded the album as the original seven piece, as we didn’t know Arne was leaving at the time, and Gill was still serving his extended notice (I think it was nine months!). Particularily the bass on the new record sounds fantastic, so it was always going to be tough to replace the guys. I think the thing we have always been is friends foremost and band second, so to look to my left onstage and not see Gill and Arne for the first time in four years was a strange thing, but we are lucky enough to have another good mate fill their boots in Craig, who brings a host of other stuff to the band. I think we are now pretty settled, but at some point down the line I would like to expand again. I’ve always loved big bands, and making a lot of noise, so we’ll see. Depends if we can afford anyone else!
There’s certainly a different feel to the album – was there a particular pervading influence during the recording process?
I think when I listen to the first record, the thing it is missing is the rock band element of the live show. We certainly have always meant to be a loud proposition, and certainly when we are labeled as folk it causes some gritted teeth, as I personally don’t see it, so I think the overriding feeling doing the second record was to readjust perceptions of us. As our manager put it, “turning down the orchestra a little and turning up the guitar!”
The album is out now on 4AD and single A Darkness Rises Up is all over 6 Music.
*Not sure where this quote came from – possibly the NME – but it was particularly apt.
Album of the Week: The Last Battle – Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea
Edinburgh hasn’t been so awash with folk bands since before Burke and Hare sniffed their first fresh cadaver.
From the Balkan Bluster of Broken Records to Meursault’s lo-fi variant to Aberfeldy, before someone told them that synth-pop was a smart career move, Auld Reekie is currently stuffed with acts who shun amps in favour of mandolins and violins.
And that’s where The Last Battle come in. Barely a year on from their debut gig in Leith’s wonderful Pond bar, here’s the debut album from the six-piece, recorded entirely in bass player Paul Barrett’s living room.
For all their DIY ethos – self produced, out on the small-scale 17 Seconds label, it’s an incredibly mature and coherent record, loosely based around the story of two lovers unable to be together.
I’ve never really bought into the idea of concept albums – they’re often utterly pretentious affairs, or even worse, mask a lack of creative musical ideas by dreaming up an unnecessary narrative.
Mercifully, neither is the case here. Heart of the Land… is an album with tunes, soul and emotional intelligence.
The single Ruins is a wee beauty, built on a gentle electric guitar riff (a rarity across the album’s ten tracks) and blessed with a lyrical bleakness lurking behind a truly catchy tune. Try listening to Take my hand and walk with me/And leave behind the relics of our old selves/Forget about the sadness in those ruins without thinking “awwww…”
They’re nautical types too. Lifejackets has obvious seaworthy themes at its heart, while Cutlass, named after the pirate’s chib of choice, is the most raucous thing here, a rollicking sea shanty, surely fuelled by one or two bottles of rum.
Scott Longmuir’s voice is gentle, melodic and entirely suited to the music which is at times so delicate that it’s a struggle to picture as many as six people making it. He’s backed all the way through by the warm harmonies of Arwen Duncan who sounds like she belongs in a fantastical literary epic.
It’s the second half of the record that will really raise your eyebrows or drop your jaw, depending on how you react to hearing wonderful music for the first time.
After Cutlass we get Whisky!!, a document of a journey over hills to the sea, presumably fuelled by a dram or two. It’s worth raising a glass to.
Any Ocean (there’s that bloody water again) features Bart Owl from under-appreciated local heroes Eagleowl on guitar, and through its largely instrumental run time you’ll get the ebb and flow of someone like Explosions in the Sky.
Finally, the unmistakable voice of Meursault’s Neil Pennycook haunts Soul of the Sea, which just about puts the tin lid on it.
I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who’s had the album for a while but has struggled to listen to it in the right environment until now. Perhaps for that reason, it’s taken me a while to really ‘get’ it, but I’m glad I’ve truly given it my fullest attention.
I caught up with Scott Longmuir for a chat last week and here’s what he had to say:
You’re following a strong recent tradition of Edinburgh folk-influenced bands – what marks you out from the rest?
I think a lot of the folk-influenced bands in Edinburgh tend to lean more to the traditional side of things, or what some would call “Teuterish Music” [I think he means what I'd call Teuchtar, but what do I know? - Immigrant Ed], either that or they incorporate electronics. We’re not very Teuterish and our songs are very concise and to the point and very pop-like in their arrangements. A journalist once commented that some of our songs had an almost Velvet Underground feel to them, which I totally got – some of them repeat the same chord patterns and rhythms in an almost ramshackle cycle.
The Last Battle
Getting an album out so soon after your first gig is quite an achievement, What’s next for The Last Battle?
I think when you take into account our situation – some of us are at uni, some have jobs, Myself and Ella [Duncan - Glockenspiel] have a baby together - then it is quite an achievement. Throw in the fact that we’ve gigged constantly since our first show in October 2009 and it makes you wonder how we’ve managed to record anything at all. As for what’s next, we’ve just signed with Select Booking Agency who look after Kid Canaveral and Tango In The Attic, so we’re looking forward to them booking a tour for us to promote the album later in the year.
You recently had a launch party for the album at The Roxy in Edinburgh. How did it go?
The album launch was a nerve-racking affair. We all sat at the door panicking that no one was going to appear, doors were at 7pm, and even at 8pm it was empty, then low and behold by the end of Mat Norris’ set the place was bustling. Subsequently by the time we went on at 10pm it had sold out! All in all we had a fantastic night! Still getting over it!
With Silverchair mercifully out of commission, the time’s right for another band named after a Narnia book to come to the fore. Will you be bowing out in 10 years as a band called, say… Dawn Treader puts their first single out?
We’ll be bowing out and managing Dawn Treader in ten years time! Also keep an eye out for solo artist Prince Caspian in 2020 – your kids are going to love him.
Have a listen to Ruins here:
You can order the album from www.thelastbattleuk.co.uk, download from iTunes or have a rummage in your local record shop (although good luck with this last one if you’re not in Scotland!)
The path to fame and fortune is littered with the corpses of promising Scottish indie bands.
My Latest Novel left it too long between two – admittedly excellent – albums and the momentum they built up evaporated quicker than you could say ‘Caledonian Arcade Fire’.
Aberfeldy shed members at an alarming rate and the follow-up to 2004′s folk-pop classic Young Forever was something of a dud.
De Rosa called it a day before last year’s Prevention even had a time to register on the public’s radar, never mind nestle at the top of our ‘best of’ lists.
And Broken Records appear to have faltered after releasing a so-so debut album.
So what now for Frightened Rabbit, Selkirk’s finest and creators of my hands down favourite album of 2008, The Midnight Organ Fight?
With contemporaries the Phantom Band, Errors and the Twilight Sad probably a bit too left field to truly cross over, Scott Hutchison and co now seem to be Scotland’s great white hope.
Pre-release chatter for third album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, was of a bigger sound, songs for stadiums and comparisons to Sn*w P*tr*l and C*ldpl*y.
So should we be worried?
Should we fuck. The Winter of Mixed Drinks is an absolute treasure.
Sure, these songs are better produced, but Frightened Rabbit have maintained a genuine sense of intimacy about the whole thing. The Midnight Organ Fight wasn’t without its singalong choruses either, it’s just that here, they really soar.
And Gary Lightbody and Chris Martin shouldn’t lose any sleep just yet. The comparisons are ill-founded, but I can imagine that playing venues the size of the Queen’s Hall (I had the pleasure of attending last summer’s landmark gig) will become the norm for Frightened Rabbit, as opposed to pokey, glorified pubs.
So, what’s on offer here? Why should you go out and buy The Winter of Mixed Drinks?
Each of its 10 ‘proper’ songs are blssed with beautiful melodies. Scott’s vocals are heartfelt and swoonsome. If, after 2 mins 45 seconds of the Loneliness and the Scream, you are not covered in goosebumps, you really ought to check your pulse.
Frightened Rabbit storm Fort William
Swim Until You Can’t See Land was a slowburning teaser but I can now acknowledge that it’s chorus is truly wonderful. And it’s not the only tune here with an aqueous theme. After Floating in the Forth saw Scott deciding against a watery grave at the end of Midnight Organ Fight, The Wrestle and FootShooter also evoke strong thoughts of large bodies of water.
Epic centrepiece Skip the Youth builds ominously before crashing to earth and then crackling into life once more with multi-layered melodies. By the time it climaxes, it has become a pounding, rhythmic beast of a song – and possible the best thing they’ve ever done.
Musically, there’s not a massive progression, but something has certainly been added to give them that bigger sound I’ve mentioned. Perhaps it is just better production, maybe it’s down to them now being a five-piece. But the guitars now chime louder, arrangements are tighter and the percussion veers from the delicate to the thunderous.
Anyone who’s been following my tweets over the last nine months will know that I’ve been droning on about Frightened Rabbit for ages. But now there’s no excuse not to be listening.