Wednesday, 30 November 2011

St, Andrews Day

The guys on the Save BBC Introducing in Scotland Facebook page did a mighty fine job of promoting the best of Scottish music, with 50 bands and 50 videos throughout the day.

I'm not quite on the same level of commitment at 22:45 at night, so here's a small selection of great Scottish music to celebrate St. Andrew's Day. Enjoy!

Songs for Strikers

Without getting too highbrow and political, I thought I'd put together a list of songs to show some support to those who went on strike today.

I could say a whole lot more, but I'll just let these guys say it instead...














Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Scottish Fiction November EP

On time for a change, you can now download the Scottish Fiction November EP for free.

This month's EP features the very talented The Spook School, the wonderfully skilled Wrongnote, the fantastically good If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now and the rather joyful The Lonely Boy

Download for free here and listen below. Also check out the '...We're Only Here For The Banter' sessions each artist did for the blog. And have a swatch at the excellent album art work. Thanks to Andrew Wilson for that.





The Spook School
Wrongnote
If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now
The Lonely Boy

...And Now For Something Completely Different - 28th November


Its baaaaaaaack!

After a few week's break the loveable '...And Now For Something Completely Different' feature makes a return. And what a return it was. It should be now surprise to hear me play David Bowie, afterall the Thin White Duke is one of the greatest recording artists of the last 40 years. But this track is something a little bit different (and brings back great memories!)

We're Only Here For The Banter - Lonely And Lola


Lonely And Lola are a musical duo made up of Sean Gilles and Lauren Reilly. Coming at your ear canals with melodic folk pop steeped in a deep sense of musical history, with influences such as Fleetwood Mac, Beach Boys and other '60's stalwarts. I was lucky enough to be joined by them on Pulse Community Radio recently, and extending their acts of generousity they have answered some questions. Have a gander.

Hello, how are you?

Sean. I'm very well thank you, just busy in studio trying to get our album finished

Lauren. Good, thank you :) Yeah, we're trying to get it completed as soon as possible so we can get it out there and hopefully spark some interest in the band.

Tell us a little bit about your music and your influences.

S. I'm majourly influenced mostly with 60's music. My biggest influence has got to be The Beatles. If it wasn't for hearing Sgt Pepper when I was 7 I would have never got into music. I also love Buddy Holly, The Doors, The Beach Boys, right up to Ryan Adams who I think is an incredible Singer/Songwriter.

L. I have quite a range of musical influences. When it comes to singing style, I adore some of the more old school artists like Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Julie London; I just love that rich sound they make, so simple yet so effective, and it was The Andrews sisters that introduced me to harmonies and what an incredible sound they can produce. Of the artists still around today though, I have to mention people like Regina Spektor, Joni Mitchell, She & Him... I could go on forever though, right to my downright guilty pleasures; Taylor Swift, Michael Bublé. .. I can't help myself!

How did the partnership of Lonely And Lola come about?

S. It came about when I wrote a song that was a duet with a female voice. Lauren had done stuff with The Lonely boy before so I asked her to come along and see if the song would work....and it did. It worked so well in fact I thought I have to make a band with just the two of us. So I wrote more songs with two vocals in it and now here we are.

L. Sean just wanted to find a ploy to spend time alone with me... Haha I'm joking, no, he sent me a text one day to see if I'd be interested and it started off just as a small project we played around with for a few months. It was after our first gig at the Edinburgh Festival; we did a 15 minute kind of teaser set to test the water, and everyone responded so well to us, that we realised we could be onto something and decided to give it a real try.

What's your song writing process like?

S. Usually I will write the song and then take it to Lauren then the two of us will sit down and work out some arrangement for it and then Lauren will work out her vocals and harmonies. Lauren's really good at coming up with harmonies.

L. Yeah, we've settled into that kind of process now where Sean comes to me with a song and I'll throw out my ideas, let him sing it to me and I'll work out where I fit in and my own melody to complement his or sometimes we'll decide that a particular song is more suited to one of us in particular and the other just supports with back up vocals or guitar, and in my case a tambourine!

What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?

L. I'd have to say our gig at the Troubadour Club down in London. We only had a couple of gigs under our belt as a duo at this point, Sean obviously has a lot of experience solo and with his band but I was still a newbie to the scene and it was quite daunting, I have to say; playing on the same stage that folk like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin once performed. It ended up being an amazing gig though, there was a great atmosphere held throughout the night, the audience were really on our side and it's the gig where I think we really started to come into ourselves; relax into our own style and enjoy the performance, it was a great achievement for us so early on.

If you could battle one other musical duo who would it be?

S.The two of us have thought hard about this and I think we are gonna go for Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks....Lauren will explain why...

L. Although we realise that Stevie could have me for breakfast haha, we figure that all we'd need to do is light a spark and leave those two to battle each other to the death! You know... "So guys, what was Go Your Own Way about..?" Easy.

What have you got planned for 2012?

S. Gonna try get more gigs, hopefully get on some tours and get our album done and dusted.

L. Yeah, just get as much experience behind us as possible, gain more support and get our album to as many people as possible and hope that someone sees something in us and likes us enough to take us further.

Any live dates coming up for those who want to see you live?

L. We're performing with lots of other bands as part of a charity gig at Maggie May's on December 7th, and there will also be a Christmas themed gig hopefully, although the date and location of which is still to be arranged so keep an eye on our website lonelyandlola.com or 'like' us on Facebook where we keep everyone posted.

What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

S. We have played with a lot of really good scottish acts. I'm loving a band called "She's hit" also a band called "suspire" Everyone should go check them out.

L. I'm brand new to the scene so I'm still discovering them as I go along, the ones who have most impressed me so far, other than who Sean's already mentioned, are Lou Hickey and Tragic O'Hara, both really talented and unique acts that deserve some credit.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

S.Thank you...its been a pleasure. I will let Lauren tell a joke cause mines are either not funny or rude.

L. Thank you for having us! Jeeeez, a joke that's neither rude or offensive....
How many ears has Captain Kirk got? Three: the left ear, the right ear and the final front ear....

Check out more from Lonely And Lola on their website and Facebook.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gig Review - Bwani Junction @ Bloc


Bwani Junction released their debut album 'Fully Cocked' on Monday 21st October and travelled along the M8 to give it a proper Glasgow release party at Bloc on Wednesday 23rd October.

First on the bill were Glasgow popsters The Dirty Demographic, who kicked things off on the third attempt. Vocalist and sporting a dashing vest top was Angus Munro, who along with Stefanie Lawrence serenaded us with glittery pop influenced songs. Second track was a wonderful little song about 'Lucky (The Matchmaking Wonderdog) where you can hear a little bit of Belle & Sebastian influence before kicking into full gear. Also given an airing was a newer laid back track 'Patchwork Heart'. The band have a sound that Elton John would be proud of, and with fantastic vocal range and performance from both singers, the crowd who had gathered certainly enjoyed the fun spirit of the show. Last track 'Little Time' was a real show stopper.

But luckily the show didn't stop because next up where The Seventeenth Century. The five piece had dove straight into proceedings, the opening number having a steady beat with raw strings over the top. Might have just been me, but the cornet solo in the next track reminded me slightly of the opening theme from Star Wars! Despite the thunderous drums, and emphatic efforts of lead singer Mark Brendan Farmer, who is sporting a rather nice set of braces, the band still maintain a very warm and homely sound. There's elements of Admiral Fallow sound in there, and the songs are well crafted, usually working up towards a climax. The rhythm section have no trouble making themselves heard over the din of the bar, which sadly did drown out a few of the more intimate moments. The closing track of a shortish set brings an eruption of cornet, violin, drums and even a few dance moves.

So it's onto the headliners, Bwani Junction who with the Afro-Caribbean sound get the party started straight away. Playing onstage in front of a huge cock drapped behind them (get your mind out the gutter, it's the picture at the top of the page) the band are keen to showcase songs from the brand spanking new album 'Fully Cocked'. It's easy to compare the sound to that of Vampire Weekend or Foals, and whilst there is a clear reggae tinge in the laid back basslines, Bwani Junction have a very unique sound. There's also room for a new song 'Neighbourhood Watch' which has a bit of a slower start than most of the set. As previously performed for Uncle Vic, a cover of The Pogues song 'Dirty Old Town' goes down well. At times it feels like I stumbled in a jam session such is the laid back vibe. 'Middle Meadow' goes down a treat, and the packed crowd at Bloc lap it up.

The album 'Fully Cocked' is out now and you can buy it here (Amazon), here (iTunes) or here (Avalanche)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

EP Review - Frightened Rabbit - A Frightened Rabbit EP


Those Frabbit lads are awfully thoughtful. Not being content with putting out a new EP on shiny 10" black vinyl (which you can buy from most good record shops or online here), they also made the three song EP available as a free download to all subscribers to their mailing list. Released on 31st October, it features three lovely songs steeped in that instantly recognisable Frightened Rabbit sound most of which were written on a bus. How's that for inspiration?

Scottish Winds

Never one to shy away from their Scottishness, the first track sums up the wonderful Scottish weather those of us who inhabit this little country north of the English border have come to know so well. Scott Hutcheson sings of "long Scottish winds" the kind that go right through you. It's a tune which would fit very well towards the end of an album, it reminds me of 'Poke' and 'Who'd You Kill Now?' off of The Midnight Organ Fight. The song itself has a steady beat throughout, nice simple guitar riff, stomping bass line and drums. Great to hear this live favourite get the full studio recording treatment.


Fuck This Place

A dream like song about the rigours of being lost and tired. It starts off with Hutchison's voice against a sole guitar with the occasional chord strummed. Featuring the first of two special guests, Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura joins in with her stipped back voice which has the warmth and comfort that the protagonist is crying out for. The song builds with about a third left, Hutcheson and Campbell exchanging refrains of "would you be good enough to take me home?", scuzzy effect treated guitars along with the keyboards close out the track which is the highlight of the EP.

The Work

Second guest appearance is from Scottish folk singer Archie Fisher. 'The Work' is another stripped back acoustic affair, similar in sound to the opener 'Scottish Winds'. The tracks sees Hutcheson and Fisher trades tales as young and old.

31 Songs (A Scottish Fiction Rip Off...) - Song 4

I feel like these days I'm offering an apology at the start of every blog post. It's true I've been rather tardy in my '31 Songs' efforts, but who am I to apologise to you? Okay, you're right insulting the readers never goes down well. Humblest apologies m'lud.

Song 4

The Guillemots - Made Up Love Song #43


From the moment those first two notes hit my eardrum, theres an image. An image so clear and crystal it has become forever intertwinned with this song. The image is a face, the face of my wife Heather. I'm not quite sure how the association began, but through mutual love of the song we chose 'Made Up Love Song #43' by Guillemots as our first dance at our wedding. Whilst discussing it, it was decided upon almost instantly. We knew that we didn't want to go down the route of cheesy cliched ballads, that we wanted something we could dance to, something quirky, something with a bit of life that represented the kind of people we were. Whether or not 'Made Up Love Song #43' does that, I'm not sure, but it certainly was different. One of the best things about it was that it gave me a chance to showcase this criminally under-rated band to others, afterall talking during the first dance at a wedding is pretty much a faux pas.

But more than it being my first dance, it has snuck it's way in to the classic title of 'our song'. The lyrics are nonsensical, yet endearing. "I love you through sparks and shining dragons I do" to me is the beauty of not being able to find the words to describe the how you feel about someone. The song is all about finding beauty in everything around us, about the mundane things "now there's poetry in an empty coke can". You know that feeling when your in love, that makes everything seem like it's from a cheesy 1950's cartoon? That's what this song captures for me. Even dull and grotesque things "burnt out caravan" have beauty when your in love.

There's another reading of the song that I also think holds some water. It's not my interpretation, but I've heard some argue that the song is actually a critique of modern day love songs. Too often we hear wishy washy songs, penned by a pop mogul or faceless writer, and sung by the latest boy/girl group to tug at our heart strings. Pathetic. Devoid of feelings or real emotion these songs could just a well be the nonsense that fills the lines of 'Made Up Love Song #43'. Even the title suggests that this is what it is, a made up love song. Not based on real emotions. As I said, a nice idea if true.

My favourite lyrics however is the second chorus, "you got me off the sofa, just sprang out of the air. The best things come from nowhere, I can't believe you care". This to me sums up how my relationship with my wife began, and the sheer disbelief I still harbour that such a wonderful person would want to be with me. The best things do indeed come from nowhere.

Musically, the song represents what the Guillemots do very well. Singer Fyfe Dangerfield has a pitch perfect voice, which delivers the verses softly, letting himself go in the second half of the song. The final chorus has such power behind his voice it sends tingles down my spine. Done live this is one of the finest vocal performances I've ever seen.

The song starts of with a melodic guitar riff and a simple rhythm tapped out on the high hat. The full power of the band kicks in after about a minute, full drums with a quirky kick, the guitar riffs kicks up a bit and soaring strings fly in between, tying the vocals and the music together. This energy is short lived, as things quiet down again at the 2 minutes 30 seconds mark, as the song fades out. It's part of what makes the song so special, it's such a beautiful piece of music, yet only last for a short fleeting moment.

I've spoke about music and memories before, and 'Made Up Love Song #43' will forever remind me of one person. And despite what may be going on in our relationship, because of the place that song has it has the amazing ability to bring back to the fore all the good things that exist between me and my wife. It's a shining beacon, a lighthouse, which clears everything else away, and makes me remember exactly why I love this person. She got me off the sofa, just sprung out of the air. The best things do indeed come from nowhere.

We're Only Here For The Banter - The Lonely Boy


The Lonely Boy is the stage name of Sean Gilles, who joined me on the Scottish Fiction show a few weeks ago. Sean was talking about his music and his influences and  has been kind enough to also complete a Q&A session for the blog. Have a read below and also listen again to the show to a special live performance of Michael Jackson's 'Dirty Diana'.

Hello, how are you?

Hello, I'm good! How are you?

I'm very well thanks. Tell us a wee bit about yourself.

Well The Lonely Boy is a solo project I've been working on, I tend to do all the music myself. I have a band for live performances. And the music varies, it's kind of rock, pop, experimental. I like a good long number, and I love how under The Lonely Boy name I can experiment. I'm not sure if that explains my music that well!

How does performing under a stage name work for you?

Well I used to perform under my own name as Sean G, because no one can pronounce Gilles. But I didn't like that because it was very personal. With the name The Lonely Boy it could be a band, it could be a solo project, you can get experimental, you can do so much with it rather than stuck with just your name.

How do you about transferring the music you make onto a live stage?

Well the easiest option is to do acoustic myself or sometimes with a mate who also plays guitar. Or I have got a band, drums, bass, lead guitar and rhythm. I don't go too mad in the studio that we can recreate it on stage. We change the tracks slightly, bring something a bit different to the live experience. I love it when bands go out to create something a bit different from just listening to the CD.

You've been involved in music for a while, how are you with getting up on stage and performing?

To be honest, I don't really like being on stage! I love being in the studio, writing music, and when it comes to performing I'll get up on stage and give it my best. What I like about The Lonely Boy is that it doesn't need to be all live performances, it could be a studio project.

How do you find being a solo artist as opposed to being in a band?

I love it, it's so much better. That's one of the reasons I went towards the solo stuff. In the studio it can get too many opinions going about, but by myself I can get a track done in an hour, two hours. But with a band it's a whole other story.

Who would you describe as your influences?

Biggest influences I would have to say, and lots of people will say this, but it has to be The Beatles. Ever since I was seven, I heard Sgt. Pepper and that was me hooked. But also Ryan Adams, love him as a singer songwriter, love the fact he does what he wants. I also tend towards the 1960's / 1950's, people like Buddy Holly.

What is your songwriting process like?

First you need to start by not attempting to write a song 'cause it will never happen. Every time I go sit down and think I'm going to write a song it never happens. It's gotta be that spur of the moment, playing chords and working out something nice, then start singing over it. I always write the music first and lyrics are always last. Sometimes I don't even write down lyrics, I've just made them up in my head and sung them so much that they are in my head.

I always find the simplest songs are the hardest to write. The ones of mine that you think are complicated I've wrote them in like 15 minutes, the wee simple ones can take forever. I've also got bits of paper everwhere, post it notes and stuff like that.

What could we expect to see from your live shows?

Well it depends. Acoustically I can do whatever I want, I wrote most of the tracks as acoustic tracks. With the band it's full of energy, especially one track 'End Of The Line' which takes a lot of energy, lots of shouting. I like gigs where you can see peoples heads starting to bop, and get involved.

What does 2012 hold for you?

The plan is being in the studio a lot, trying to record an album. Actually I've stupidly decided to record two albums, one under The Lonely Boy alias, the other with my other project Lonely And Lola. So it's good to be able to go between these two projects. And I want to try and get these albums done, and then start gigging again, hopefully get some good supports.

What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?

I'd probably say two years ago I did a west coast of America tour, from LA to San Diego and then all the way back up ago. I played the Viper Room in Los Angeles as well. I loved it, there was such a good vibe, it was so different to playing in Scotland. I always feel like with gigs in Scotland, because you do such a lot of them, it's often a case of texting your mates 'are you coming to my gig?' But when we went to Los Angeles we told a few people about our gig in the Viper Rooms and just through word of mouth we managed to pack out the venue.

What Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Some bands I've played with that I love would be Lou Hickey and Sonny Marvello. Also She's Hit, I went to see them a couple of months ago and loved them. Such a good atmosphere on stage, and they have that something, you should definitely go and see them.

Thanks very much for speaking to us!

Why not listen to the show again below? And also check out more from The Lonely Boy on his website and on Facebook?

Scottish Fiction 7th November 2011 by wilsonnj

Modern Classics - Sigur Ros - Takk


The latest episode of Modern Classics is now up and available to listen to again. Encouraged by my history of poor pronounciation, I decided to tackle one of the most beautiful albums released in the last ten years.

Have a listen to the show and enjoy Sigur Ros' 'Takk'.

Scottish Fiction Playlist - Monday 21th November

Curses! Curses and poppycock!

Monday night's show on Pulse Community Radio featured one of the best live performances we've had. Joining me in the studio were Sean Gilles and Lauren Reilly a.k.a. Lonely And Lola who shared some great music, jovial banter including why they could defeat Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in battle. And they also treated us to some fantastic live songs including an impromptu version of 'Happy Birthday'.

I've been troubled by technical difficulties in the past, but this time it's particularly galling as the live performance by Lonely And Lola was excellent. However the recording equipment decided to crash during the show, meaning unfortunately only those lucky enough to have heard the show will ever hear it. Sorry guys!

Here's the playlist in full from Monday night's show:

Lonely And Lola chose:

Lonely And Lola - Dont Go Changing
Tegan And Sara - The Con
Hall And Oates - You Make My Dreams
Simon And Garfunkel - A Hazy Shade Of Winter
Joni Mitchell - River
Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons - Walk Like A Man
The Beach Boys - God Only Knows

The rest of the show went something like this:

Wake The President - Elaine
The Shivers - Kisses
Wrongnote - You've Got Some Optic Nerve
The Spook School - Are You Who You Think You Are?
Ed Muirhead - Like Like Unlike, Tweet Tweet Share
Rob St. John - Sargasso Sea
Bottle Of Evil - The Boatman
The Celestians - Carriers
Maydays - Eternal Optimist
Honey - Nowhere Floating
Lil' Daggers - Dada Brown
Bwani Junction - Middle Meadow

Michael Cassidy - Videos

It takes a brave man to brace the cold air of a November evening in Glasgow sitting in the Necropolis playing songs. So let's thank our stars that Michael Cassidy is brave enough, or daft enough, to do just that!

Here's a few videos that have popped up over the past weeks, Michael took his guitar down to the Necropolis and armed with a camera (and a willing cameraman Frasier Urie) made a few videos. It should be no secret that I think Michael Cassidy's music is the bees knees and hopefully 2012 will see another live appearance on the show. In the meantime enough these videos, great songs and a great backdrop.

Michael Cassidy - Dance The Night Away (The Mavericks cover)


Michael Cassidy - Montpellier 


Michael Cassidy - 99 Red Balloons (Nena cover)


Check out Michael Cassidy on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Soundcloud.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Scottish Fiction Teaser

Guess who's back? Back again!

No not him. Me. Last week saw a rare break in the relentless drive to showcase great new Scottish music. So I'm back in style this week. Another guest live in the studio, joining me on Monday's show is Lonely And Lola who are picking the tracks for the first hour and talking about their music. Oh and some live songs to boot.

And here's a taste of what you might hear in the second hour of the show...


Tune in from 9pm tomorrow night, you know you want to...

98.4 FM
www.pulseonair.co.uk

We're Only Here For The Banter - If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now


If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now are a Glasgow band who staddled the line between Kate Bush and Tom Waits. With 3 EP's to their name, their latest offering 'A Room Dim At Noon' was released on 7th November.


Hello, how are you?

I'm very well :) I'm on holiday.

Tell us a little bit about your music and influences.

The songs are quite simple and I try, in keeping everything simple to generate a feeling of unrest and use unpleasant sounds, hopefully to pleasant effect... I like old singers and old songs like Sammy Davis Jnr, Liza Minelli, Elvis.

Scotland has a thriving music scene. How do you find being a part of that?

Its great because there's loads of folk to talk to and to go and see. We've recorded at the Green Door Studio and all the bands are amazing.

Which Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Sluts of Trust

What is your songwriting process like?

Just spending time in my living room. Trying to get an idea out of your head.

What could we expect to see/hear from your live shows?

Our live shows aim to be more theatrical than a simple gig format. We try and move about a bit on stage and our shows often include a dancer where space permits.

What does the rest of 2011/ the beginning of 2012 hold for you?

A christmas song with Black Jash, more recording with stranger sounds... some more harmonies. More shows hopefully in different places and a video!

Your third EP 'A Room Dim At Noon' is out now. How has your sound progressed since your last release?

During the recording process of this album I had a much more hands on approach. It's in a way less band based than the last albums as a few songs are solo and it's much more stripped back. Without going into loads of detail, I managed to get ideas in my head onto the recording far more than I ever have.

What's been your biggest achievement so far?

Music wise, this new album is. And otherwise, eating food!

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

I have two.

What do you call cheese that's not yours?
NACHO CHEESE!

What did the policeman say to his tummy?
You're under a vest!

YEAH!

You can check out more of If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and a lovely website. The EP 'A Room Dim At Noon' is available to buy from LOVE Music Glasgow and Avalanche Records Edinburgh as well as online via their website or iTunes.

Save BBC Introducing in Scotland Busk


Howdy everyone!

Most of you should be well aware of the ongoing petition and campaign to save BBC Introducing Scotland from proposed BBC cuts. The campaign has been well supported and if you haven't already done so add your name to the petition which will be submitted December 21st to the BBC Trust (http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/introducingscotland). There's also a Facebook page which is keeping right up to date with all the work being done and progress made (https://www.facebook.com/savebbcintroducing).

In the next stage of the campaign join the Save BBC Introducing In Scotland team TODAY from 1pm to 3pm for what is being called a protest busk outside BBC Scotland at Pacific Quay in Glasgow. It's a great opportunity to add your voice to the cause, and also to have a bit of fun with some live acoustic performances from Blochestra and Aerials Up.

Make sure to bring along banners, signs, healthy voices and some spare changes as there will be buckets for Children In Need as well. Also it will be outside so be prepared. The event is also to be as fun as possible so be prepared to get involved and keep spirits high.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Super Vinyl Adventure Club


I've been debating this idea for the Super Vinyl Adventure Club for a while now, for reasons that I'm sure you'll understand. But my reasoning for doing it is that online shops and shopping are becoming a stable fixture of buying vinyl whether we like it or not. So basically this post is to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of fuelling my record collection via the internet.

There are two types of online shops. Those that act as an online version of a real record shop, such as Rocks Mail Order which serves as an online shop for Glasgow based record shop LOVE Music. Then there are those which as only online, they have no physical building that you can browse through the racks of. Now the romantic side of record shops is that you get the interactive experience, and I've talked about my love of that in the past. So you might wonder, what's the point of an online store, where you don't get the smell of the sleeves in the racks, you don't get the music playing in the background, you don't get the chat and recommendations. Well here's my account of buying from Insularis Records.

Venue

The home page on Insularis Records website is extremely well put together. An iTunes style scroller displays new additions, a tweet feed lets you keep up with recent announcements, such as discount codes and competitions, and below that features quick link banners to recommended purchases. The website as a whole is very easy to navigate, and kudos must be given for placing a tab for Scottish Releases right at the front. This also showcases some great Scottish labels, including Song, By Toad Records, Chemikal Underground and more. So yes you don't the the satisifaction of trawling through racks, but you do get the ease of being able to find what you're looking for pretty much within a few clicks of your mouse.

So what other benefits is there to shopping online? You might think that you'd lose out on the customer service side of things, but I have to say the guys at Insularis are on the ball. Offering free shipping for orders over £50 thus encouraging you to spend that extra penny, and also offering regular discount codes. In fact I was rather impressed by the fact that they tweeted me the discount code which was specially reserved for the Scottish Independent Record Fair even though I couldn't make it along. They also keep you up to date with order confirmations, dispatch details and thank you emails, all of which I suppose are pretty much standard, but still nice to have.


Purchases

Remember Remember - The Quickening
Arctic Monkey's - Suck It And See
Fair Ohs - Everything Is Dancing
Male Bonding - Endless Now
Mogwai - Earth Division EP
The Avalances - Since I Left You

I'll be honest I'm not going to review all these, fair to say that they were all rather reasonably priced, certainly no more that one would pay in a shop, and all arrived in perfect condition. (I lied, have a read of a review of Mogwai's 'Eart Division' here.)

So all in all, I would certainly recommend Insularis Records for purchasing vinyl. My personal preference will always be the visit a record shop, trawl the racks and have the whole 'shop' experience. But it would be folly to overlook the benefits of buying online, and when the circumstances conspire to keep me housebound, then Insularis Records is a happy substitute.

Preview - RM Hubbert - 'Gus Am Bris An Latha'

Those of you who listen to my show on Pulse Community Radio may recall with some fondness a wonderful guest appearance from RM Hubbert a few months ago. (You can listen to the whole show again here.)

Well Hubby is going be releasing 'Thirteen Lost & Found' as the much anticipated follow up album to his beautiful debut 'First & Last' on 30th January 2012. To whet your appetite for this the guys at Chemikal have put out a sneak preview in the form of track 'Gus Am Bris An Latha' which is available to listen to here.

The track features John Ferguson and is instantly familiar as an RM Hubbert track, the intricate finger picking retained and backed up by a fuller sound provided by Ferguson. The last third of the song really kicks of and showcases Hubbert's excellent playing. Have a listen yourself and let your ears make up their own mind.

Other exciting RM Hubbert developments include the release of the album 'Thirteen Lost & Found' artwork and full tracklisting. Have a wee swatch below.



1. We Radioed (w/ Luke Sutherland)
2. Car Song (w/ Aidan Moffat & Alex Kapranos)
3. For Joe
4. Gus Am Bris An Latha (w/John Ferguson)
5. Sunbeam Melts The Hour (w/ Marion Kenny & Hanna Tuulikki)
6. V
7. Sandwalks (w/ Stevie Jones & Paul Savage)
8. Half Light (w/ Emma Pollock & Rafe Fitzpatrick)
9. Hungarian Notation (w/ Shane Connolly, Alex Kapranos & Michael John McCarthy)
10. Switches Part 2
11. The False Bride (w/ Alasdair Roberts)

(You can hear live versions of the tracks 'For Joe' and 'Switches Part 2' here, when Hubby performed the tracks live in the studio at Pulse Community Radio.)

We're Only Here For The Banter - Wrongnote


Wrongnote are a four piece from Glasgow who having formed originally in 2008 released their debut album 'Reach Out, Disconnect' on 24th December 2010. Since then the band have taken their blend of spiky punk infused rock to the BBC Introducing Stage at T In The Park this summer. The band kindly took some time to answer a few questions.

Hello, how are you?

Sean: Totally awesome. Just been woken up, in Paris, by a friend bringing me coffee and a croissant.

Callum: On the verge of breakdown. I genuinely thought these mini pancakes might cheer me up but they turned out to be just three more of God’s cruel empty promises.

Tell us a little bit about your music and influences.

Callum: We make cathartic outsider-rock. In terms of influence, it’s difficult to say as we each have very different musical tastes. The only artist we tend to agree on is Prince but, as far as sounding like him is concerned, it’s fair to say that we’re an historically poor attempt.

Sean: A historically, for fuck's sake. Anyway; I like Queen.

Callum: An historically is perfect form unless we all turned American.

Sean: On this issue, I'm with the yanks.

Scotland has a thriving music scene. How do you find being a part of that?

Sean: I hear this a lot and never really understand it. There are a lot of bands around, for sure, some of which are quite good, but isn't that true of most places?

Callum: Scenes are so often a self-perpetuating ideal wherein the promise of being a part of one disguises the harsher reality. There are many independent labels, venues, journalists and promoters who have aligned themselves with the ideals of an independent music scene as opposed to the traditional model of a music industry. This is a very good thing but such an ideal can easily be tainted by a system in which some of these labels, venues, journalists and promoters become self-imposed arbiters of taste and, consciously or unconsciously, replicate the industry model. In such a system, status easily becomes the sole currency and bands are, once again, commodities. I’ve seen too many really good Scottish bands end prematurely to realise that, while it may be a great place to be part of a scene, the reality of being in a band is unaltered. Ultimately, if you enjoy what you do, scenes are irrelevant.

Which Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Callum: Bronto Skylift, Woodenbox and Super Adventure Club. We've also had the pleasure of sharing a stage with the first two.

Sean: John MacFarlane/Sluts of Trust. Best thing in this town by a country mile.

Callum: The best thing in Paris?

What is your songwriting process like?

Callum: Terrifying. At first, there’s the rough idea for a song. Some chords and some basic vocals. From that moment, it’s a desperate war of contrition with hostage situations, Mexican stand offs and various other forms of brinksmanship, shouting, personal insults, violent outbursts and a sometimes desperate sense of inertia. Luckily, it tends to be worth the trouble.

Sean: Yeah, suffer for your art and all that.

What could we expect to see/hear from your live shows?

Callum: I’ve used these terms before but you can expect loud drums, fidgety bass, jazz chords and post-melody vocals.

Sean: Bit lazy, Callum.

Callum: Oh yeah. Sorry. I forgot the topless drummer. And no refunds.

What does the rest of 2011 hold for you?

Callum: We’ve been working on new material and will be recording some of it at the tail end of this year. Until then, we’re still promoting the album we released at the very beginning of this year.

What's been your biggest achievement so far?

Callum: It’s a tie between releasing our debut album and playing the BBC Introducing stage at T in the Park. Of course, we’re still in poverty and relatively unknown, but that has so far proved incapable of make us see sense and sto


Sean: The album, for sure. Figuring out how to make a proper record and doing so, on our own, without killing each other or splitting up was bloody heroic if you ask me.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

Q: How many scenesters does it take to change a light bulb?

A: All of them.

Thanks guys!

Check out more of Wrongnote on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Also you can buy the album 'Reach Out, Disconnect' here.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Scottish Fiction Playlist - Monday 7th November

I had the feeling that I was boring you all, so to soften the experience of listening to me for two hours I invited along a guest! A guest in the form of The Lonely Boy a.k.a. Sean Gillies.


Sean was talking about his music, his influences and choosing the music for the first hour of the show. Listen again to the show to hear this AND a special live performance of Michael Jackson's 'Dirty Diana'.

Sean's choices of songs were:

Buddy Holly - True Love Ways
Ryan Adams - Let It Ride
Jeff Buckley - Grace
The Doors - Strange Days
The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever
The Beach Boys - God Only Know

And nestled in amongst the chat and songs was an exclusive (I know! Pulse Community Radio and exclusive in the same sentence!) play of The Lonely Boy song 'End Of The Line' plus a stomping good cover of 'Dirty Diana'

The rest of the show went something like this.

Dum Dum Girls - Heartbeat (Take It Away)
Yusuf Azak - Soft Vision
The Moth And The Mirror - Everyone I Know
Three Blind Wolves - Emily Rose
R M Hubbert - Tipsy/Tapsy
Amber Wilson - Raise The Alarm
Remember Remember - Hey Zeus
Motorhead - Ace Of Spades
Monty Python - Lumberjack Song
The Jesus And Mary Chain - Just Like Honey
Air - Playgroud Love
The Spook School - History

Have a listen to the show again. Go on. (Due to some bloody bastards not deleting files off the computer the show stopped recording about an hour and a half in. Apologies about this.)

Scottish Fiction 7th November 2011 by scottishfiction

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Single Review - The Twilight Sad - Sick


'Sick' is the first single proper from The Twilight Sad's third LP 'No One Will Ever Know' which is due out on Fat Cat Records in February next year. It is available to pre-order now (here) and is being released on 7" vinyl (yah!) and also mp3 on Monday 14th November.

It's unmistakenly The Twilight Sad, afterall James Graham's hard, brooding west of Scotland vocals are as passionate as ever. Yet it's a different sound for the band as a whole, something they have promised so we shouldn't be surprised. The guitars have been dulled down a notch, a simple repeating riff holds the song together throughout it's 4 minutes 20 seconds. Behind it, and Graham's lyrics, are the soft sound of synths, which lend to an althogether more experimental sound. Comparisons have already been made to Radiohead, which is probably fair enough. Closer to home one could imagine this being nestled nicely in an Aeorogramme album without much difficulty.

The drums pick up midway through the song, and the synths take over as the main driver of the song. The lyrics themselves are typical Twilight Sad affair, introspective, haunting and depressingly beautiful with Graham beckoning "over the hill, over the hill we go."

Having listened to it about ten times now, I'm firmly satisfied that 'Sick' displays a step forward for The Twilight Sad. For old fans it will be a little different from what you've come to love, and it's bound to draw plenty more new fans into the fold. Bodes well for the rest of the album.


LP Review - The Moth & The Mirror - Honestly, This World


As far as supergroups go, you don't get a much more impressive than The Moth & The Mirror. Comprising of Louis Abbot (Admiral Fallow & Song Of Return), Gordon Skene (Frightened Rabbit), Stacey Sievwright (Arab Strap & The Reindeer Section), Kevin McCarvel, Iain Sandilands and Peter Murch. Given the personnel one would expect high things from their debut 'Honestly, This World', and those expectations are nurtured, kept warm and exceeded throughout the 10 tracks on this LP.

Album opener 'Everyone I Know' eases us gently into the album, dainty acoustic notes are picked on the guitar before the bass saddles in and Sievwright's enthralling vocals set the song in motion. Flitting between the soft and delicate sounds and a stronger sound filled with crashes of cymbals, Sievwright bemoans 'I don't have the heart for this', hinting perhaps at a greater underlying theme of apathy towards 'this world'.

Next track 'Soft Insides' is a simply affair, reverby guitar, sweet soaring vocals mixing with chimes and threatening to sweep the listener away on a boat by a river where tangerine people eat marshmallow pies. 'Fire' picks the pace up a bit, the unmistakable vocals of Abbot take the lead, his voice has a certain familiarity and warmth about it. Jaggy riffs rise up and puncture the melody, whilst Sievwright joins in to harmonise with the closing refrains which clocks up as the best moment on the album so far.

If you've been singing along then here's a pause for breathe, the dulcet floatly light 'Boxes' is something that wouldn't be amiss on a Kate Bush album, gentle, reflective and I've since discovered a song about suicide and the resulting fallout. Which kind of fits the structure of the song well, as halfway through it explodes unexpectedly into a full drum kit extravaganza, vocals kick up a notch, and a gutsy scuzzy guitar solo leads out back to a quiet ending. It's a beautifully crafted song, with layers of detail demanding your full attention.

'Beautiful Creature' is a short song, almost like an interlude, but certainly not a filler. At 1 minute 47 seconds, and one verse, with a lovely little bit of trumpet, it leads nicely into the title track 'Honestly, This World' which again showcases the intimate nature of The Moth & The Mirror's sound and their ability to keep that intimacy alive even when it sounds like the world is falling down around them. As noisy a song as their is on the album, 'Honestly, This World' shifts tempo and pace throughout, and is a live standout if you ever get the chance to see the band live.

'Hope Is An Anchor' creeps in with soft acoustic notes, much like the opening track. It has a rather strange structure, but is pulled off and builds towards a lovely instrumental section featuring Abbot's Admiral Fallow band mates Sarah Hayes on flute and Kevin Brolly on clarinet.

Lead single from the album 'Germany' is up next, and given that it's the track that really sold me on the band, it's no surprise I rate it up amongst the highlights of the album. A simple jerking rhythm throughout and wonderous harmonising, it's a pop song with attitude and just a little bit off the kilter. Which is a good thing.

Closing tracks 'Closing Doors' and 'Oceans & Waves' return to the softer approach seen on 'Soft Insides', the latter track is a perfect closer for this album, epitomising everything about The Moth & The Mirror's sound in one six and a half minute track. Definitely one of the albums of 2011.

Buy 'Honestly, This World' here. Check out The Moth & The Mirror's website too. And have a listen below.

Scottish Fiction Playlist - Monday 31st October

Last Monday night I gave myself the unenviable task of collating Scotland's Alternative Greatest Album. So many great songs and artists couldn't quite sneak into the two hour show. However, the show was full of great music. Check out the full playlist below and listen again.

Primal Scream - Loaded
We Were Promised Jetpacks - Quiet Little Voices
Teenage Fanclub - Sparky's Dream
Aztec Camera - Somewhere In My Heart
Biffy Clyro - Glitter And Trauma
Idlewild - You Held The World In Your Arms
Mogwai - Friends Of The Night
Arab Strap - (Afternoon) Soaps
Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
Franz Ferdinand - The Dark Of The Matinee
Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas
Admiral Fallow - These Barren Years
The Twilight Sad - That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy
Frightened Rabbit - My Backwards Walk
Boards Of Canada - An Eagle In Your Mind
The Beta Band - Assessment
Dananananaykroyd - Black Wax
Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy
Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Lounger
The Delgados - All You Need Is Hate
King Creosote - I'll Fly By The Seat Of My Pants
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Delilah
Travis - Tied To The '90's
Belle And Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap

Scottish Fiction - 31st October 2011 by scottishfiction

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

We're Only Here For The Banter - Spook School


Edinburgh four piece The Spook School have only been gracing us with their collective presence for less than one year. And yet I've been wanting to feature them on the blog since I first heard 'History' back in June. The fact that it's still one of my favourite songs of the year is testament to how good they are. But enough of the gushing praise, it's very unbecoming of me. The Spook School have a c-86, distorted twee pop sound, and have been steadily playing gigs across the central belt for the last couple of months now. Check out what Adam from the band had to say.

Hello, how are you?

I'm fine thank you. How are you? That's what you're supposed to say isn't it? It's not true though. I'm not fine at all. I've been sitting eating grapefruit segments out of a can whilst watching YouTube videos for 3 hours. It's not a good state of affairs.

Tell us a little bit about your music and influences.

We make simple indie-pop rock 'n roll music. Partly 'cause that's what we're in to and partly 'cause none of us can really play guitar. I think we sound a bit like if Buzzcocks were girls who lived by the seaside and were scared of talking to strangers. Suppose Shop Assistants, Television Personalities and that kind of stuff has quite an influence, but most of the time we're just trying to be David Bowie or Marc Bolan and failing. Lyrical themes tend to include cross-dressing, miscellaneous confectionery and the banality of conformity (that sounds like a really shit album title!). I always feel a bit out of my depth with these 'describe your music/influences' questions.

Scotland has a thriving music scene. How do you find being a part of that?

When we first started playing together and putting our stuff out there I kind of expected the 'music scene' folk to be a bit clique-ish and turn their noses up at us as some kind clueless group of amateurs. If anything we've found it to be the complete opposite. Everyone we've come into contact with has been really nice and friendly and helpful and brilliant. If it wasn't for the opportunities we've been offered by other bands and bloggers and studios and venues I think we'd still be pissing about making noise underneath a vegetarian café (if it hadn't gone bankrupt).

Which Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Oooh. There's too many. I've been listening to Bubblegum Lemonade a lot recently. He's brilliant (and we're playing before him at Glasgow Popfest. Eeek!). In general we've been introduced to quite a few really good bands we'd never heard of before as a result of being part of it all. Was very impressed with Edinburgh School for the Deaf when we played with them, and we're good friends with Be Like Pablo and Thank You So Nice. They're wonderful. I could go on for ages. There are so many great bands in Scotland at the moment. We've really picked a very busy playing field to go in to, but it's a very fun playing field. It's got swings and roundabouts and everything.

What is your songwriting process like?

It's all quite intuitive I guess. We know nothing about the theory or rules about song-writing, but I think it's better that way. Can't imagine The Velvet Underground ever sat round a table going “Lets write a song in 4/4 in the key of E that modulates in the third trimester” or whatever. Generally Naomi or I will have some chords and/or a cool riff with lyrics in a half-baked state. Then we'll try and play it with the whole band and see how it sounds. We're still making changes to songs we wrote over a year ago, so it can take a while to produce something that sounds remarkably simple (if you're us). But I think that's partly because we're learning so much at the moment.

You recently made your Glasgow debut at The Captain's Rest for Ayetunes Presents. How was the 'weegie' experience?

It was really cool. One of those experiences that makes you think “we're kind of almost actually a proper band”. Yeah, it was good. In fact I wrote one of our very non-regular blog posts about it here (http://thespookschool.com/2011/09/29/the-spook-school-went-to-glasgow/)

What could we expect to see/hear from your live shows?

Lots of noisy jingly-jangly guitars, Matt Damon abuse, some reverby ukulele stuff, stupid dancing and Niall’s chest. You can expect to have a lot of fun. At least we hope so. We always do.

I'm sooking up here, but 'History' is one of my favourite tracks of 2011 so far. Are there plans afoot for more releases?

Hahaha, thanks. We’re both honoured and slightly baffled. I'd really like to have more recordings, we're just kind of figuring it out how to do it so it'll sound half decent. I guess we don't spend as much time on it as we should. I for one seem to spend most of my time eating tinned fruit. If we had the cash, we'd be back in the studio quick as a flash. As it is we're currently trying out alternatives. You get all these people going “Young people can write and record whole albums without even leaving their bedrooms these days!” but these young people they talk about must be a lot more clever than us. We went round and did some 'as-live' recording with Nora at Henry's Cellar Bar a couple of weeks ago. So depending on how that sounds in the end, we might let folk have a little listen to it.

What does the rest of 2011 hold for you?

We've got a couple of gigs at the Wee Red Bar coming up that I think are going to be ace, then Glasgow Popfest which we've been excited about for months now.

Other than that I don't know really. Parties? Cakes? I imagine the government will continue to fuck people over, so we'll have to distract ourselves somehow. I'm thinking about building a scale model of the Taj Mahal out of spagetti. It will be quite tricky as there are lots of curved edges.

I might be presumptious here, but as you name check John Cleese in 'History', what's your favourite Monty Python sketch?

Think Anna's probably the biggest Python fan, so I'm perhaps the wrong person to ask about this. Although me and Naomi grew up in the village where Holy Grail was filmed, so have something of an affinity with that film. I really like their defence against fruit sketch, although clearly learned nothing from it given the current tinned fruit situation. Don't think John Cleese is my favourite though. I like Eric Idle. He has nice hair. Or at least did have.

What's been your biggest achievement so far?

Hmm... I think just people from proper bands and blogs and stuff saying they like what we're doing. I never expected that to happen. Getting asked to play Edinburgh Oxjam and Glasgow Popfest's quite an honour too. There was one gig that me and Niall played in dresses. That was quite an achievement I think.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

I would definitely care! I like this Tim Vine one:

"So I rang up a local building firm, I said 'I want a skip outside my house.' He said 'I'm not stopping you.' “

I like any skipping based joke really.

Thanks!

Direct yourself in a most direct way towards The Spook School's website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Phew that's a lot of stuff. Worth it though. 

Scottish Fiction October EP

Wah hey! It's time for another Scottish Fiction FREE EP! Been excited about this one since about two days into October, so I'm happy to finally release it upon the vaults of the internet.

As well as being a collection of terrific songs which together create a whirlwind of awesomeness, this month's EP also showcases some of the best Edinburgh has to offer, as each of our four participants are from Auld Reekie. Delightful stuff if you ask me! Click on the artists names below to be transported through IP addresses and web servers to that particular artists 'We're Only Here For The Banter' feature.

First up are Edinburgh five piece Trapped Mice, contributing a track off their last EP called 'Pointing And Shouting'.

Next are Plastic Animals who have been around for over five years now, and have released a swarm of recent stuff. 'Green Light' features on our EP.

Following them is Donna Maciocia who will have some brand spanking new material out soon. She has contributed a demo of the wonderful 'Fists At The Sky'.

And lastly are Supermarionation closing things off with the track 'The Paris Express'.

Enjoy! You can download the full EP for free here (also check out previous month's EP's available for free too), and also stream below.