• Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers - Home And The Wildhunt

    20 jui. 2010, 21h37m

    A short recommendation for you this evening.

    Glasgow Podcart and Song By Toad recommended them, thus sheeplike I bought the album - albeit about two months later. I refer of course to Home and the Wildhunt, by WOODENBOX with A Fistful of Fivers. They're playing Falkland’s Big Tent festival this weekend, and the set should be fun.

    They're another band with decidedly folky overtones, but not at all in the Meursault fashion of yestereve. We're talking altogether more upbeat, with more horns and stuff. According to Under The Radar, the album is heavily influenced by Ennio Morricone, which you can tell when you know. Yes, I realise that statement is ridiculous. But also, the vocals in track two, Life from Above, are seriously reminiscent of Randy Newman. In a good way.

    Why not have a listen to Draw a Line on a podcast, as I did, and see whether you want to hear more.
  • Meursault - All Creatures Make Merry

    19 jui. 2010, 20h41m

    Meursault work in HMV. Well, some of them do. And it turns out that’s a pretty good way of making sure your second album is prominently displayed around the ground floor, which in turn is a good way of persuading myself and abgb to buy it on impulse.

    I won’t lie, Pissing On Bonfires / Kissing With Tongues was a pretty excellent debut to have to follow. But All Creatures Make Merry defiantly refuses to conform to the ‘difficult second album’ stereotype. Unless you don’t like low-fi, reverby guitars layered together with strings, electronica and folky vocals.* But if you don’t like those, why are you even listening to this band in the first place? Fewl.

    Actually, listening now as I am to What You Don’t Have, Meursault would provide you with a great segue if for some reason you were trying to surreptitiously get someone into post rock. You could sort of lull them in with this, then get your Mogwai on, then bob’s your uncle. Red Sparowes and Yndi Halda for all.

    In other news, singer Neil Pennycook apparently recorded the whole thing in Stockbridge, which is basically where I am typing this right now! Almost. Plus Another starts out with some definite horn voice that will surely be the stuff of legend in an imminent period of time. And they’ve recommended lots of lovely music for you to listen to in the sleeve notes, some of which I have heard and some I huvnae. Which is nice, I think. The Edinburgh indie music scene has a closeness which I find endearing.

    *The BBC of all places informs me that I am to refer to this style as folktronica, like what Adem and Tunng do sometimes. Sounds a bit lame to me, but once upon a time I pshawed the concept of a genre called math rock and boy, do I regret that. (Clue – no.)
  • Cuddly Shark

    18 jui. 2010, 11h29m

    Ever bought a CD because this one time you read a review in The Herald that mentioned an excellent track name and you thought, “no way could this be a negative financial transaction on my part!”?

    My one is Cuddly Shark’s self titled CD, Cuddly Shark. The track in question was Jamie Foxx on Later With Jools Holland(I Heard You Sing The Worst Song I Ever Heard) – although since purchasing the album I have discovered that the part in parentheses isn’t actually part of the song title. It is a line from it though.

    Some of the songs I particularly enjoy are Woody Woodpecker, Boney Fingers and the hidden track at the end. There are lots of influences in there, but none are worn on the band’s sleeve, they are seamlessly incorporated. To put them in context, when listen to them you’ll get a whiff of Pixies, a hint of McClusky, and the odd pinch of The Stooges here and there.

    If you still aren’t convinced, apparently the band are from Elgin, and I have it on authority that all the sexiest people come from there. OK, it may be true that I have not met any of these adonises personally, but I know a woman who has which is basically the same thing.

    FYI MadameBellamy – no Scottish accents. If anything there’s a folky American twang. But in a fun way.
  • Kid Canaveral - Shouting At Wildlife

    17 jui. 2010, 21h58m

    Do you remember indie? Do you remember pop?

    Try getting your claws on come honest-to-crikey indie pop, revived for your information by Edinburgh-based foursome Kid Canaveral.
    Shouting at Wildlife is the band’s long awaited debut album, and it’s 38 minutes of delicious musical abandon. You needn’t take my word for it - everybody says so, from The List to The Skinny to basically the entire Scottish music blogging scene (which you may know is a vast and sprawling beast indeed). And it’s DJ Vic Galloway’s album of the month for July, which is NOW!

    They've got synths! They've got la's! They've got catchy hooks! If you liked This Gift by Sons and Daughters, or guitar pop in the 1980s, this is the CD for you. Equally if you like dancing, fun, or the summer, I would recommend this album.

    There are happy songs, then more serious stuff as if to prove there are hidden depths beneath the pop perfection swirling on the surface. I'd probably have been quite happy with a whole album of 'Cursing Your Apples', but I was surprised and excited by tracks like 'Quiet Things are Quiet Now', which is unlike anything I've heard from Kid C before, as well as the 80s-tastic 'Talk and Talk'.

    So go on, support your local music scene and download / get the CD of Shouting At Wildlife today. If you don’t enjoy this much needed dosage of musical sunshine, you’ve got no soul. And are probably a witch.
  • Justin Bieber

    3 juin 2010, 22h04m

    There is but one tween girl I see at work who is yet to succumb to the vice-like grip of Bieber fever. The rest of them love him to the point of madness. One gives me regular updates on the shrine she has been creating at home. I've kept old magazines back to help her, in fact. What a despicable facilitator I am.

    Anyway, by and large these are quite nice kids, which is a shame because from what I can gather he's an annoying little toerag with some worryingly misogynistic tendencies. Have you seen the music video for Baby? Of course not, you are a discerning human person. But I get up of a morning to do half an hour of soul destroying cycling on my flatmate's exercise bike and have been known to whack on MTV Hits to accompany me, so I've seen it Twice. (Twice). And I am here to tell you that Sir Justin of Bieber has all the makings of a sex pest.

    The video opens inoffensively enough at the bowling alley, which segregates girls and boys as is traditional. Bieber sizes up the fillies for a few moments before selecting his favourite to show off at. Then, with what I assume is supposed to be a cheeky wink he bowls a strike as if to say "phwoar (or whatever the American equivalent is - probably 'damn' but pronounced 'day-um'), I'd knock her pins down." By which he means penetrate her. Sexwise.

    The girl in question, or 'Chosen One' as Bieber likes to think of her, responds by knocking all of her pins down in one go also. She thereby squashes him and his child-size libido. Naturally this only serves to make her more attractive, seeing as he can usually get any girl he wants merely by entering the room.

    He proceeds to embark upon a campaign of fear to get the girl, grabbing her by the lapels and pulling her towards him when she avoids his attempts to engage her gaze. When she pushes him away he continues to invade her space, plucking at her sleeve and following her around the room like a clingy toddler being left at nursery for the first time. At one stage he even does a sausage roll across a pool table to get to her more quickly, rudely disrupting a game in the process. She remains stonily disinterested, but for how long?

    As he proceeds to take over the entire bowling alley, pitting his crew against hers in a breakdance battle and posing all over the alleys so nobody can bowl anymore, it seems that the horror has made her hysterical. She appears to be constantly on the verge of breaking out in giggles. Or maybe she is coming round to his way of thinking? Surely not. This must be Stockholm Syndrome.

    It is about this time that Ludacris gets involved, talking about his first love, who he met at the tender age of thirteen. The fact he is reliving this whilst hanging around a bowling alley with a bunch of twelve year olds could be construed as sinister, were it not counterbalanced by the fact that at one stage he gets the Bieber in a headlock. It seems that only death will release all those kids from the bowling alley, and better it be the one death of Bieber by headlock than about a hundred breakdancing themselves to oblivion in a bizarre homage to The Red Shoes.
  • Hockey - Mind Chaos

    23 mai 2010, 19h49m

    Mind Chaos, the debut by Charming Carmen and the Hobnailed Bombadiers, is excellent.

    It's also by a band from Oregon called Hockey - the opening sentence was a cunning ruse to see whether you were paying attention. I presume you passed. Well done.

    abgb and I actually tried to see them play their live instruments in a gig at Cab Vol last September, but it sold out. How rude. I was surprised at the time, as I didn't think they were particularly well known - I personally found them by googling what gigs were happening in Edinburgh in September.

    Having failed to see them play, I promptly forgot all about them. Out of sight, out of mind. But having remembered, I've been listening to their CD on repeat. That's right pop pickers, it is literally good enough to put on more than once.

    The main thing I like about Mind Chaos is that it cheers me up. It reminds me of banter on the beach in St Andrews after exams are over, and has me tapping my feet and nodding my head along on the bus on the way to work. I don't like my job and I hate mornings, so it's pretty exciting to be buoyed into a good mood by tracks like Too Fake and Song Away. It's also a brilliant accompaniment for the beautiful weather we've had this week. Stonkin.
  • Charlemagne: By The Sword And The Cross

    21 mai 2010, 19h45m

    Christopher Lee? Christopher Lee-gend more like! Cause he's a total legend, yeah? No? You're right. I'll work on that.

    But seriously. What other 80 year old would record a metal CD? Much less a concept album about a 9th century Frankish king. If your granddad had the opportunity to do that, he probably wouldn't. He'd be all sitting in his favourite chair eating werther's originals, turning down his hearing aid before asking wearily, 'who is Charlemagne anyway? Some foreign type?'

    That's right, your granddad is a sweet scoffing racist.

    Christopher Lee isn't. He's a god among men.

    Lyrically, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross is pretty atrocious. It mostly sounds like the characters are reading a history book along to the music. This leads to a worrying number of attempts to achieve rhyme where there is none, and some very odd metric shenanigans.

    Having said that, it's compelling listening.

    The album starts with Charlemagne on his deathbed and looks back over his life in five acts. This consisted of offending other kings, killing Saxons for refusing Christianity, and getting it awn with his lovely wife. (Well, this album claims he only had eyes for one. But history - and wiki answer - suggest this was not the case. That guy had all the sex.)

    Anyway, I digress, as usual. This epic album features an orchestra, a couple of metal bands, and even Lee's own daughter as a narrator (she's not as epic as her dad, but you can't have everything). And there's what sounds like some amazing synth action in ACT III: The Bloody Verdict of Verden - it's like being in a King's Quest game.

    Overall, the CD is flawed but brilliant. You should listen to it now.
  • I Don't Know Where To Begin...

    4 mai 2010, 22h27m

    All my friends totally <3 The Pictish Trail.

    Well, that’s not strictly true. Madame Bellamy doesn’t really care for men singing with Scottish accents for a start. And I suppose there are a few people about who didn’t go to university in Fife, or take an interest in the live music scene there, and some of them probably don’t know who he is. But they ought to. He’s been on the The Culture Show, doncha know. Since when was that not mainstream enough?!

    Anyway, it occurred to me a couple of months ago that I’d only actually head one track by Mr Trail (Into The Smoke, which featured on a mix CD ominously titled The Soundtrack To Your Breakdown); despite lots of my friends and enemies singing his praises in what can only be described as a cacophonous din, AND living with a bass player who is on his record label.

    “Gor blimey,” I said to myself in my best Dundonian brogue (the shoe, not the accent), “that’s an oversight and no mistake.”

    So I had a listen to 2008's Secret Soundz, not really sure what to expect. Just because everybody likes him doesn’t mean they talk in potted reviews of his music. That would be lame...

    ...Unlike the CD!!!!!!!1 lol (did you enjoy that neat segue? Amazing, wasn't it.) Anyway, there is the succinct-est review you ever did see here, which encapsulates many of my feelings on the subject, but essentially my friends were right. Well done them.

    Plus, The Skinny hailed it as 'joyously schizophrenic'. Which is a good phrase. Just sayin'.
  • A Fever You Can't Sweat Out

    3 mai 2010, 21h23m

    Panic! at the Disco eh. They’re fun.

    I only have the one album, A FEVER YOU CAN’T SWEAT OUT, and I’m not entirely sure how that came about. Drunken torrenting, maybe.

    Anyway it was released like, five years ago and you've probably forgotten all about it by now. Although according to Wikipedia, it’s “a modern phenomenon in youth culture”. So maybe not.

    There are strings! There are synths! There are even a few bars of ragtime piano in the mix. I’m unclear as to how much musical ability is involved in doing what they do, but they write some catchy tunes. For an emo band.

    Lyrically they make little to no sense, and vocally they sound a lot like Fall Out Boy. They certainly have Fall Out Boy’s attitude towards syntax. Oooh, I went there. Wherever that was.

    But, are they the sort of group who take themselves seriously, or are they being a bit tongue in cheek? I like to think the latter, based on occasional lyrics like “Well we're just a wet dream for the webzine / Make us it, make us hip, make us scene.” Quite sarky. Then as if to prove the point, they follow with “Just for the record / The weather today / is slightly sarcastic / with a good chance of / A. Indifference or B./ Disinterest, in what the critics say.”

    It’s as if they knew they’d inspire a Pitchfork bitchfest and got in there first with a resounding ‘fuck you’. A very healthy attitude, in my view.

    Give this CD a listen. Although to put it in some kind of context before you do that, it's on the same sort of level as MCR's I'm Not OK. So steer clear if you are the type of muso whose head is too far up your own arse to occasionally enjoy something stupid.
  • Gotta Have Coffee (a first impression of Efterklang)

    12 avr. 2010, 22h33m

    I've been listening to Efterklang today for the sole reason that the singles reviewer in April's Skinny refused to say anything about them on the grounds that "they don't need any help."

    This sort of implies they are mega famous and popular, with all the limos and the bitches and whatnot. But I'm not convinced that this is the case. They are a Danish band who formed ten years ago, and they've hardly broken into the mainstream. I don't think they've even had any songs on BBC idents. Fail.

    The album I have mostly been listening to (well, a couple of times) is their second one, Parades. It's quite nice. I've noted down favourable comparisons to The Polyphonic Spree, Maps, and somewhat obviously Sigur Rós (although to be fair there is a lot of that high pitched squeaking going on).

    My only gripe, according to my trusty notebook, is that they are piss poor wake you up on the morning commute music - "no substitute for coffee", I have scrawled.

    So now I might listen to the new album, the Blyton-ly titled Magic Chairs in the hope it'll send me off to sleep.