The brain child of Over The Wall’s Wav Prentice ULTRAS’ debut record caught our ears through its wide ranging influences, colourful tones and Prentice’s ever enthusiastic impassioned delivery.
The band formerly known as Nevada Base finally got round to putting out an album in 2018 and it’s one that was worth waiting for, it’s an emphatic display electronic pop music that shines with a vital energy that we have now come to expect from LNFG releases.
We’ve come to accept December ’91 as a warm and traditionally folky artist, with a dark and subtle back hand that creeps around a lot of the songs, and some embarrassingly if not upsettingly frank lyrics. Starin’ At The Freaks is much lighter in tone than his previous releases and has a little less crude lyricism, delivering the artist’s best work to date This album seems like a step in a more commercially viable direction for the artist, but this comes without a sacrifice of quality and integrity. There are meaningful twangs of Americana, a well balanced mixture of classical and contemporary elements and a lack of seriousness – with some swearing, morbidity and crassness thrown in for good measure.
Glasgow’s State Broadcasters third record, A Different Past is a record that tries on everyone’s clothes from Teenage Fanclub’s buttoned down power-pop shirt to King Creosote’s rain-lashed greatcoat to the glossy sheen of Dear Catastrophe Waitress era Belle and Sebastian. There’s the sense that each track is part of a wider project, serving to highlight a different facet of the whole, that despite their disparate styles and influences there’s a sense of a common project here and it lends the record a thoughtful feel despite its more outré stylings. A Different Past comes with a manifesto: “embrace the world we live in today rather than revisiting and revising memories of our youth and trying to convince ourselves it really was all great fun,” with State Broadcasters, at least you’ll know there is always something fresh and new around the corner.
Folk rockers Washington Irving returned with another album of emotional highs and lows, this time delving into the bloody battles of WWI as inspiration for a set of songs that seek to catalogue love, misery and dread. Having played with Glasgow’s kings of anthemic melancholy Frightened Rabbit as well as the likes of Titus Andronicus and Wintersleep, the gang know how to match their miserabilism to rollocking tunes and August 1914 is certainly their heaviest and least folk-inflected set to date. Appropriately given the newly beefed up sound, August 1914 may well also be the group’s darkest set of material so far, from shout along first single ‘We Are All Going to Die’ to the stormy ‘Petrograd’, and when the tracks spark to life there’s a fiery intensity that few current Scottish bands can match, most notably on the brilliant and righteously angry ‘Faslane Forever’. To make August 1914, Washington Irving travelled to New York seeking new horizons; we’re lucky to have them back.
Siobhan Wilson’s There Are No Saints starts off with its titular track, a saintly track that sets the scene beautifully and topically for a particularly nuanced, bold, intelligent and endearing album. What it does extremely well is meld contemporary and classical elements with respect, restraint and understanding; delivering one of the best debut albums we’ve heard recently. For such a highly artistic album, it is not alienating or difficult to engage with; there is no sense of snobbery here. There is nothing about this album that occurs in a particularly linear, predictable or boring way, it is exceptionally progressive and evolving.
Campfires In Winter debut album took some time in coming, as such it came at a time when the Croy four-piece are familiar faces on the Glasgow indie rock scene. Ischaemia, the follow up to a multitude of singles and EPs over the past few years, is an interesting synthesis of the sounds they have tried on over the last half a decade. Campfires have built a reputation for emotional live performances that blur the line between windswept folk rock and soaring shoegaze, on Ischaemia they brush up against these constraints with a record that pushes their sound in some more experimental directions, in a record that thrives on brains and a dark humoured outlook on the world.
We were late to the game for Ross Wilson, aka Blue Rose Code’s acclaimed new album, and as a result maybe it wasn’t given a fair roll of the dice. Still, on the short time we had to spin in was an enchanting experience as Wilson sheds his past and looks to the future in true beautiful terms.
Fuzzystar is the moniker of Andy Thomson and friends, an Edinburgh based gang trafficking in buzzy indie pop; Telegraphing is their debut record and it’s a ten track, tune packed blast that delivers reverb stricken off-kilter indie pop at it’s best. At points the guitar is big and crunchy at others it’s sleek, while Thomson’s weary vocals lead the way, Telegraphing is a layered, fuzz packed beauty that will have your heart captured in no time.
Katie Buchan, aka Best Girl Athlete, followed up 2015’s Carve Every Word with her new self-titled album, which includes an eclectic mix of tracks displaying her strength in producing a strong and diverse range of music displaying real growth both musically, and lyrically. The album is stronger and sounds a great deal more confident as Buchan plays around with an interesting mix of genres and styles. Best Girl Athlete has moved into a more mature and complete space, through her alluring vocals and striking lyrics that shape each track and with this exceptionally well shaped album shows Buchan’s growing strength as an independent artist, promising impressive things to come in the future.