LP Records Launch Night with The Great Albatross, American Clay, Codist at LP Records, 2/3/17

A gig with a couple of differences, this show is a record label launch and was set in a record shop – the record label in question is LP Records, the record shop in question is LP Records – for the sake of clarity, LP Records has launched a record label, it’s called LP Records, and the launch show was in LP Records – located near Kelvinbridge subway station.

The shop is brightly lit and extremely busy, I myself am squeezed into the back wall, squatting like a mother goose over a box of records trying hard not to incubate them.

This doesn’t bother me though as Codist kick things off with their well documented brand of fast, fun, dynamic rock that keeps you on your toes, the best place to be.

Codist stand apart from similar bands – local or otherwise – by virtue of their vocals; delivering soft and well-balanced harmonies over the top of some wonderfully complex guitar work.

The vocals readily deviate from the speedy and heavy music, keeping the surprises coming, dipping into various tropes from various sub-genres.

‘Vitamin D’ gets progressively wilder, faster and more impressive towards the end of the song, bringing it back down nicely to finish off; were the high and beautifully corniced ceilings a foot lower, they may well have been blown off.

Throughout the set there is an awful lot of feedback coming from the amp, but it is by no means grounds for demanding ones money back.

Phillip Ivers, the bands guitarist and lead vocalist told me afterwards that this was the only issue as far as he was concerned with the performance from the bands end; and that he tried to incorporate it into the noisiness that the band goes for.

I would be inclined to agree, the sound emanating from their side of the shop is not only huge but pleasing and complicated – they aren’t as nervous as they might have been in this unusual space, having played there before on Record Store Day last year (how they met LP Records head human Lorenzo).

Ivers commented that he thinks the audience would enjoy seeing these acts stripped down to their bare bones, making use not of a large stage and a sound guy, but some amps in a record shop; this is after I asked him how the more or less static crowd had enjoyed the night – when you’re a sardine in a can all you can do is bob your head.

This makes sense as well, since it is harder to put on a good performance without the bells and whistles and the crowd appreciates that.

Apart from being in a record shop in aid of a label launch, one remarkable thing about this gig for Codist is that they were playing even newer material than that coming out on the EP.

Having only written the lyrics a few days prior, Ivers was glad to remember all the lyrics.

One of the good things about events like these and the current ethos in the city is that if you don’t remember the lyrics, you’re unlikely to be smacked in the head with one of the shows free beer cans.

There is room to take risks, make mistakes and create, that is part of why there is so much amazing music coming out of the city these days.

Codist end with a slow, sweet song called ‘Shaky Cam’, which is played beautifully, drawing attention to another string in the band’s bow.

The drums throughout are particularly alluring, the slow show-stopper bursts back into motion and allows this talented outfit to show us their musical money one more time.

In between acts – and throughout them in fact – there is a convivial and communal atmosphere; nobody is there to cause any issues – perhaps on account of how exclusive an event this is.

Everyone is trying hard to socialise without moving a muscle as we are surrounded by expensive materials, machines and merchandise; nothing is broken, thankfully.

American Clay enter the fray to deliver an exciting and experimental set.

Drummer, Chris McKeown, is forever looking at the other band members, figuring out where they are and what they are doing so that he can drum accordingly.

Described as “the maths machine” to me by backing vocalist and guitarist Ross Stewart, he underwrites the cohesive and dynamic roar of the electric instruments; all of this is punctuated by the distinctive and wide ranging vocals.

When the vocals take a rest, the music fills the space with incredible, winding and pulsating soundscapes.

They play an upsettingly short set, but finish it in serious style, making subtle use of pedals throughout to extrapolate on the sound.

American Clay’s guitarist and frontman Martin Johnston is most readily recognised behind drums, but he is the face, voice and part guitarist in this outfit.

His voice is reflexive and capable of operating well on a number of registers, low to high, timid to intense.

Codist and American Clay have releases on the label coming up, as well as a simultaneous release of the same materials on 6131 Records, which is based out of Los Angeles, and their music suggests they are nothing short of deserving.

Another release on the label coming up is that of The Great Albatross – a vinyl no less… I hope they can find a shop to stock it in.

The Great Albatross – the brainchild of Wesley Chung, who sings and plays acoustic guitar alongside drummer Calum Scott and Alan Langdon on bass – takes to the stage.

Chung says that we should feel free to sit down if we want; but obviously no one does – there wouldn’t have been room to anyway.

Great Albatross deliver the lowest, lightest most acoustic music of the evening, under refined vocals with engaging lyrics.

The drums and bass wind lovingly around Chung’s music, adding power and rhythm when they are playing, and emotion and depth when they’re not.

When the bass and drums stop, the audience cannot help but be entranced by the acoustic guitar and gentle singing that stays behind.

When there is less noise to play with, it is important to be more sensitive with the elements that you have.

The Great Albatross show great skill in this area, controlling well for volume, timing and pitch, creating an atmosphere in the room.

If we had sat down it would have been nice; it’s a nice shop, with a nice crowd inside it, listening to nice music; oh, if it isn’t all so very nice.

Chung is from California, this was only apparent to me in his discourse between songs.

He says that he always allows a sense of place to be written into his music, and that this new one is influenced by the music, weather and landscape of Scotland – with the washed out reverb sound that he associates with Scottish music moving throughout.

Half of the new album was recorded here, half in the US, when he lets Americans listen to it, he says they comment on the difference as compared to that recorded solely in the States; this is truly a transatlantic project which – if anything like The Great Albatross live – is deserving of attention.

Having never heard The Great Albatross before, I was a little surprised considering it was a follow up to two noisy and fast acts.

This didn’t phase Chung though, who told me that he was used to it having been signed to Count Your Lucky Stars Records in the past, being one of two acoustic singer-songwriter type deals amidst such acts as Moving Mountains and Snowing – heavier beasts altogether.

Chung was signed to them when he lived in California, whilst they were based in Michigan – I am given to believe that these destinations are further apart than Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Chung loves the fact that the label he’s with now is based out of a record shop he frequents, since it’s round his corner.

It’s been good having something tangible and physical, Chung tells me; he likes Lorenzo – the owner of the shop and the head of the label – and his approach towards doing things, considering him a passionate music lover above all else.

Lorenzo – apparently – has a good handle on music and knows why it ought to be loved, for Chung – and the other bands – this constitutes a trustworthy individual to be involved your artistic development.

All three of the acts showcase music of a very high quality in each of their respective fields.

There is an atmosphere of passion, communal interest and enthusiasm which, combined with the unusual setting and fantastic music, makes for an exceptionally pleasant evening in an exceptionally pleasant shop.

There are fantastic records adorning the walls and shelves with posters of some old favourites hanging lovingly from the walls.

Keep your eyes trained on this shop to make sure you catch the next big thing happening there or coming out of LP Records; above all, support your local music industry.

Words: Paul Aitken

Photos: Christina Marie Riley

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