Immediately, ‘Whatever Helps’ shows off a more darker tone than Siobhan Wilson’s earlier, more twee-sounding material; the delicately soft vocal remain, but it is now layered, and more ominous sounding. An ode to fighting against a lost love, and the depression that comes with it, the lack of a backing band on the track allows Wilson’s gorgeous voice to drift like a lonely stranger passing through the night.
‘1995’ is a nostalgic journey through summers filled with dirty gutties and bowl cuts that will have anyone of a certain age and disposition grabbing a bottle of Devon’s finest tonic wine and heading for a park with Oasis blaring on their Walkman. As the story continues from 1995 to 2015, the narrative goes through the ups and downs of life and growing up; the craft is how the beat and music becomes more frantic during the less pleasant parts of Almond Milk’s formative years and relaxes when he raps about the good times.
Written about the barriers we put up between ourselves and others to feel better/more comfortable when in fact it makes us more distant than ever ‘Chasm’ is a lyric-driven beauty that builds over a chirpy alt-rock enthused rhythms as Annie Booth’s warm silky voice teases over the top in a conversational yet heartfelt tone. On her EP three years ago Booth displayed a knack for cleverly written songs, but there was a raw element about the release the has been honed in on here, clearly her experiences with in Mt. Doubt have evolved her sound, making her not just one to look out for in the Scottish folk scene but on a much wider scale, both musically and geographically.
‘Lord’ offered the first taste of Young Fathers’ third record and what have they given us? Is it a call for redemption? Or a message from another plane? Whatever it is, it’s proof that Young Fathers are still a band like no other, because in the best way possible, it sounds like several different songs at once. One song is a gentle, baby’s own piano, one part a gospel choir of harshly treated vocals, one part bleak electronics evoking a droning cello or a glass wall vibrating. It’s Dante’s Divine Comedy in a song and the sign of an act that still has no shortage of ways to confound, an intriguing scene setter for where the trio might go next.
Lifting you beyond the rain drenched dreariness of Glasgow’s synonymous party street that we can only assume these guys are named after, West Princes brought beautifully warm breeze with ‘Wet Bark Is A Slug’. The first taste of released material from these guys is subtle yet playful number that gives us a taste of band who are likely to have a big 2018.
‘Rooftops’ is an upbeat slice of electronic indie-pop reminiscent of Robyn or La Roux; warm chords power a rising melody line that sounds like Marina & the Diamonds are shaping for a big-lunged chorus as O’Sullivan and Reeve knit their voices together for an impossibly catchy refrain. There’s a touch of Jenny Lewis to the lovelorn chorus “the pieces of my heart are falling from the rooftops” but for song that seems knitted together from a handful of different sections, it’s the lush call and response finale that lingers long in the memory.
‘Tourists’ is a story about Leo Bargery’s fear of flying with a tone is tongue and cheek, while the melody is a smooth, free-flowing mantra. The composition is sincere but the sentiment more jovial, Bargery’s voice has the capacity for wandering through low tones, luring you into a peaceful hum, before leaping up an octave or two. It’s got a hummable chorus, that plays darkly humorous lyrics off giant guitar chords and some neat female backing vocals, from Annie Booth, as Bargery contemplates whether he might be happier in ‘Southend in Sea’ and deploys the rather smart line “my aversion to aviation, keeps my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds”.
‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ is a fleshy piece of pragmatic laziness, emitting imaginary craft and an unquestionable attitude that textures the track throughout. Launching into a distinctive and highly melodic guitar line, which quickly establishes a prominent radiance; the deadened drums provoke a sense of moody-solace, lifting appropriately. ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ is a serious slab of attractive songwriting, non-pretentious and thought provoking, excitingly hopeful.
Bluebirds have developed a reputation as being a must-see live act, and ‘Subcultural Love’ certainly shows off an intensity that very few bands are able to capture. ‘Subcultural Love’ is dark and unnerving, drawing the listener into a five minute bind with no respite. Vocalist Daniel Telford’s Nick Cave-esque snarl guides the track murkily, before the track crashes into cacophonous life, as he howls “we need to see some more skin”.
The supergroup of sorts comprised of James Graham of The Twilight Sad, Kathryn Joseph, and Marcus Mackay captured a mesmerisingly gritty, undoubtedly Scottish record in Confrats and lead single ‘Buried Lines’ was the pick of the bunch. The track is a strikingly hypnotic stroll through a mysterious setting, as Graham’s distinctive Scottish vocals intertwine with Joseph’s elegant yet gritty delivery over powerful brooding production.