Scottish Fiction Christmas Party with FOREIGNFOX, Mt. Doubt, ACRYLIC, wojtek the bear at The Hug and Pint, 22/12/17

Mulled Buckfast and Christmas cookies are the order of the day as things get warm and festive in the sold out Hug and Pint basement for the sold out Scottish Fiction Christmas party, which features pretty much the full roster of the former radio show, podcast, blog come record label and gives a delightful alternative to the big Honeyblood Christmas party happening across town.

Unluckily for us we don’t quite arrive in time to catch the delightful Annie Booth, but from a listen to her recently released album, An Unforgiving Light, we’ve missed something quite special, luckily there’s a couple more chances to catch Booth is action tonight although not performing her solo material.

 

Local four-piece wojtek the bear are tonight’s secret act and it come as no huge surprise when the cat is let out the bag that their upcoming debut album will be released via Scottish Fiction in 2018, this is the first time we’ve caught them live but we’ve become more than familiar with their melodic indie rock sound over the last twelve months or so.

The band delivers deep, yet sad tracks delivered in a reflective yet uplifting tilt that fills the basement with a warm sentiment.

Vocalist Tam Killean’s songs take a typically Scottish miserablist stance, setting a bar as he quips “if you thought Annie was sad then listen to this one”, before they move into another number that throws atmospheric post rock blankets over indie folk touched floorings, for a tasty ethereal pop edged picnic to be laid on top.

The band then call Annie Booth back on stage and give her another shot at putting her vocals centre stage on a stripped back, as yet unreleased number that hits the saddest spots, before they close on ‘Waves’, which brings back a welcome groove and ends on heart-warming note before we head off too sample the cookies on offer (Lori’s cookies were better, sorry Neil).

ACRYLIC is a name that has been banded about for a few years now, as the Edinburgh five-piece have teased us with a number of high quality atmospheric pop single since they came through the Hit the Road academy and the young lads, who are also set to release their debut album with Scottish Fiction in 2018, are quite probably the smoothest act on the bill.

They kick of with a number that harks back to New Romantics pop, it’s dark brooding yet sun kissed and they have a frontman with an undoubtable stage aura, as he hugs the mic with his soulful, brooding croon.

‘Coast’ takes the tempo up a notch blasting the basement with buoyant 80s sunshine from five guys that probably weren’t even born when that decade ended.

As their set progresses they keep getting better as they engulf us is soaring beauty; this is young band with bags of talent that look destined for a bright future.

Mt. Doubt is a band that have been biding their time, while being ultra productive over the last few years, two EPs in 2017 have seen them progress as a live act and be remarkably consistent in their recorded music.

Leo Bargery’s voice is booming beast that just levitates you to another realm, but it’s the innovative musicality that has progressed under the Scottish Fiction guide that has brought them to a position of one of the most promising acts in Scotland today; they’ve done the ground work, the future has something very positive around the corner.

Tonight they don’t even need to play their standout single ‘Soak’, from 2016’s In Awe of Nothing, to leave the busy basement in a gobsmacked silence.

Choosing a delicate closer that allows the raw strength of Bargery’s vocals and the angelic backing from Annie Booth, who’s back as part of the full band, to shine; it’s not the most pop you’ll hear from these guys but for pure beauty you’ll struggle to find better

As good as the this line-up is FOREIGNFOX were the only headliner, Johnny Watt’s vocals just soar over the crowd with his thick Scottish twang and powerhouse presence, while the band’s hugely uplifting sound drowns in as much misery as it does uplift to chant along anthems.

‘Light Off, Carry Me Home’ was the gem in this year’s I Used To Be A Belly Dancer EP and hits the roof in a live setting and is followed by new track entitled ‘Birthday Flowers’, which draws a hauntingly Scottish tone before hitting their groove in a more familiar fashion, while adding more electronic elements that may eventually be a path that this Dunfermline five-piece take to set them apart from their contemporaries.

On record they’ve always been an intriguing listen but in a live setting it’s Watt’s vocals that drive this band; so raw, so much feeling, so close to home, yet so uplifting that you can belt them back with vigour.

And they couldn’t leave us without a Christmas song, albeit possibly the dourest one you’ve ever hear, as ‘Driving Drunk for Christmas’ gets a deserved airing; as snow machine peppers the crowd you have that festive feeling in your stomach and we get ready for a wee dance as Scottish Fiction’s Neil Wilson gets set up for a wee DJ set with the ever delightful Wesley Shearer.

Words: Iain Dawson

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