Tag Archives: a Singer of Songs

EPs of 2017 (20-11)

Albums 30-21 – 20-11 – 10-1 EPs 30-2120-1110-1

20. GURL+++ – Nerv00se

Nerv00se is the latest peek into the mind of Aberdeen based producer GURL+++, and it’s an interesting piece. The genre defying release utilises heavily cut up vocals, elements of hip-hop, dance and house, with more ambient twist of sleepy keyboard and clunky bass. Nerv00se ends with a real feeling of saying goodbye and closing the door on something; a fitting end to a complex and interesting record.

19. Monkoora – Nuclear BB [Hot Gem]

Monkoora’s Nuclear BB was a entrancing mix of pop production, harsh notes and seething lyrics, but it all comes out rosy in this dynamic EP. It’s a genre spanning affair that takes elements hip-hop, ambient techno and ethereal folk to name a few, throw into the mix some haunting harmonies and the chaotic edge of an artist willing to speak her mind and you’ve got a release that won’t be easily forgotten.

18. Cameron Roxburgh – Outside

Cameron Roxburgh aim to bring experimentalism and something new to the traditional singer-songwriter milieu and this new addition to the duo’s already stellar set of records will challenge your conception of music and offer a change to everyone who dares explore Outside. There’s magic in the clarity of Roxburgh’s words and a deep connection through his disinhibition, even his mum and dad get a mention in ‘+up’, as skillful fingers create a resonating, memorable experience. Outside is full of complexity and yet packed with witty anecdotes for even the most skeptical listener to enjoy, a masterpiece to behold.

17. L-space – Sol 0

Sci-fi influenced dream pop act L-space came to our attention this year and Sol 0 was one release of a few that caught our attention with synth driven tracks full of ethereal harmonies and dreamy guitar.

16. Life Model – Lucky [Frux Tapes]

Lucky was a dose of simmering guitars and blissful dream pop energy and sets Life Model aside as one of the most exciting guitar pop bands in Scotland. Sophie Evans’ sassy, charismatic delivery is matched every step by Chris Smyth’s dynamic arrangements. Life Model are band that had grown impressively of the last few years and it’s great to hear their output coming to fruition on record.

15. Mt. Doubt – The Loneliness of the TV Watchers /  Moon Landings [Scottish Fiction]

We couldn’t separate Mt. Doubt’s two EP releases in 2017 so we have fired them into together, collectively they have shown Mt. Doubt’s growth as a band as the feel like a group effort and these releases gives the listener plenty of meaty sounds to get stuck into. Leo Bargery’s booming, yet melancholy vocals stay front and centre but it’s the beautifully constructed tracks are increasing becoming just as important. This is a band with plenty of ambition and with a growing confidence are pushing in all the right directs.

14. Codist – Porcelain Boy [LP]

Listening to Codist’s Porcelain Boy will cause your head to move in every conceivable direction, instead of just the traditional up and down. All of these head movements are in the affirmative, as Codist exceeds the expectations of anyone familiar with them unveiling this powerfully cool, technically brilliant and acoustically pleasing EP. Porcelain Boy carrys tropes from myriad times, places and styles and masterfully packages them together in a surprising and original way; without ever being boring, predictable or twee. Unpredictable without being chaotic and impressive without feeling overdone, Codist spay homage to a great wealth of well-loved styles, presenting a fun-filled and seriously talented band with nowhere to go but up.

13. TeenCanteen – Sirens [Last Night From Glasgow]

With rebellious lyrics and a playful, pop-influenced sound, alongside Carla J. Easton’s distinct vocals, Sirens maintains the high standard that TeenCanteen have set out for themselves, giving an excellent insight into the eclectic ability of the band.

12. Bluebirds – There Is No God

After the spectacular self-immolation of notorious rockers The Amazing Snakeheads, there’s a gap in the market for some grimy, gory Scottish rock and straight out the coffin Bluebirds seem like possible contenders. There is No God is five-tracks of grotty, shambling post-punk propelled by the sort of funereal organ and scene chewing vocals that would even Nick Cave would probably write off as “a bit much”. It’s not music for the faint hearted, channelling the B-movie vibes of The Cramps and the livewire energy of Fat White Family with abandon; there’s an unhinged energy to Bluebirds that is impossible to fake.

11. Withered Hand and A Singer of Songs – Among Horses I [Son Canciones]

After a good wait following his 2014 release, New Gods, Withered Hand returned after spending a week on a farm in Catalonia with A Singer Of Songs’ Lieven Scheerlinck and together the duo have have delivered an EP that has shown a clear progression in sound, with a complex, sunkissed record that doesn’t lose the wit and lightheartedness of his previous work.

Withered Hand, a Singer of Songs, Martha Ffion at The Hug and Pint, 7/5/17

Dan Wilson of Withered Hand is absolutely one of the most interesting songwriters around; he recently collaborated to write and record with Barcelona-based a Singer of Songs during a week at an organic farm ‘in the middle of nowhere’ near Barcelona.

Over three dates in Edinburgh, Crail and Glasgow, the two launched the resulting EP Among Horses, which was released via Spanish label Son Canciones on May 5.

Martha Ffion opens the gig with a wonderful solo set; without a band, the bones of her songs and especially her lyrics, seem to stand out a little bit more.

There’s a bitter sweetness in her words and the way they’re sung that gives Ffion’s songwriting this mournfully sarcastic bite beneath her soothing, sugary melodies.

Her set was kind of unflinching, while singing about feelings being consequential, and with lyrics like, “it must have been so hard for you with all the growing up you had to do” and “missing you, like I’m supposed to,” this element of directness in Ffion’s music along with the cushioning of her gently lilting vocals and almost doo-wop style, is an intriguing combination, and it was cool to see her playing her songs solo.

A Singer of Songs then plays a set of songs that are thoughtful and raw; his music mixes nostalgia and honesty with slow Americana-type melodies.

In between songs he makes jokes and shares intimate stories about his songwriting experiences, which the crowd seem to enjoy.

At the end of the set Withered Hand and he play two songs that feature on their collaborative EP, which goes down well, it is evident that a Singer of Songs is an very able guitar player, and his voice is strong over inventive songs about disappointing relationships.

The fact he’s found a way to make music from some of these situations is laudable, I would be curious to hear him again with a full band.

Withered Hand headlines the show and also plays solo, until the last few songs where Leven of a Singer of Songs joins in for some older material as well as for the new material from the Among Horses EP.

There is something affecting in Withered Hand songs that seems undemanding but intricate in its expression; his guitar work is excellent, the talent Wilson has in his voice and lyrics gives the heavyhearted topics he writes about some kind of grace, as he handles metaphors alongside frank, emotive statements in an insightful way.

At one point in the set he mentions having a sore throat, but what was unfortunate for his throat and health turned out to be quite fortunate in the manner that songs like ‘California’, with its desperate sounding chorus “I keep sippin’ on the tussin like I’m sick again” and ‘Horseshoe’, from last album New Gods, which seem to gain something from his strained vocals – not to mention it results in some really lovely moments of audience participation.

The set includes songs like ‘No Cigarettes’ and ‘Religious Songs’, a crowd favourite, which Wilson jokes to only be using a setlist so he wouldn’t forget to play.

It is an exceptional gig. If you haven’t heard Withered Hand before, please do look him up, have a listen or go to a show.

Words: Jason Riddell
Photos: Claire Heimlich