Tag Archives: Catholic Action

Catholic Action – ‘Rita Ora / Breakfast’ [Luv Luv Luv]

Glaswegian rockers Catholic Action first buckled up their boots in late 2014 as Chris McCrory –drummer in underground faves Casual Sex, recruited Jamie Dubber (bass), Ryan Clark (drums) and Andrew Macpherson (guitar) for a glam rock knees up.

Their debut single ‘LUV’ earned them spots supporting both The Libertines and more recently Teenage Fanclub, whose pop classicism they wittily filter through the lense of Slade’s good-time stomp.

Their new single is double A-side ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Rita Ora’; the former is a riff fest with a fairly predictable “take my hand, take my advice” refrain, but the latter is far more interesting packing hand clap percussion and a maddening earworm of a riff, reminiscent of The Jam.

Don’t expect to learn a lot about the pop star behind hits like ‘Black Widow ‘and ‘How We Do’ from the Glaswegian boys – McCrory has suggested the name was chosen more for its duo syllabic qualities than any particular appreciation of the Jay Z protégé – but the peppy chant along chorus has all makings of a T-Rex smash.

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Words: Max Sefton

Catholic Action, The Pooches at Tut’s, 25/9/16

2016 has been a pretty exciting one for Catholic Action and as the year draws into its final few months they headline one of their hometown’s best-known venues on a rather understated Sunday night.

Tonight seems somewhat of a nod to future as the band play to a healthy crowd, however this isn’t one of just family, friends and Glasgow music people you would have seen at these guys shows six months ago, there’s a fair share of fresh faces out there; an encouraging sight in this reviewer’s eyes and surely the band alike.

Before all that we’re treated to the charming indie pop of The Pooches, who cast sunshine and misery in equal measure as James Hindle’s swooning chants set you off to sun kissed shores while remaining very routed in Glasgow.

It’s a fairly low-key support slot from one of the most endearing acts around just now, but that’s exactly what you want on a Sunday night like this, their set is hard not to like and while many have come here to see the headliners a fair few will have The Pooches jotted on their phone for next time.

Catholic Action take the stage with a real air of confidence, their glam tinged indie rock sound has set them out as one of the most captivating guitar led bands in the UK just now and their recent singles are just starting to get them recognition further afield, albeit aided by a track titled ‘Rita Ora’, which the pop star herself got behind.

It’s been interesting to see how this band has progressed and after a successful headline slot at Stereo just under a year ago you’d be forgiven for thinking that set in Tut’s doesn’t demonstrate a huge amount of progression.

Truth is that Stereo show was a band playing to their Glasgow crowd, tonight is set played in majority to a crowd that has built more organically; there’s no need to get everyone of your pals along as people will now show up anyway.

The ever engaging Chris McCrory rocks the usual glittered face and fronts the band in punchy fashion, which eventually erupts in a full on pit during ‘Rita Ora’, which McCrory quips “my mum started that”.

The set is as you’d want a rock show, Catholic Action take their already strong songs and package them into a polished performance that you’d happily keep wanting more from, and from the looks of tonight more is just around the corner.

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Words: Iain Dawson

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, 5/8/16

Day two of Belladrum begins with the most ungodly heatwave.

Baked alive in my tent overnight, I hit the site early to take in some of the smaller acts the festival has to offer, specifically on the XpoNorth curated Seedlings stage with all its welcome shade – and it’s not the best of starts.

Schnarff Schnarff

Darting along to the far larger Hothouse tent instead I find Electric Honey Record’s Schnarff Schnarff on peak form.

With little to no stage banter to distract from the music, frontman Myles Bonnar sneers into his mic, whipping it around his head like a deranged cowboy as his bandmates thrash away around him.

They’ve come a long way since I first saw them last year and latest single ‘This Is How We Get Some’ undoubtedly comes across live as the best thing they’ve produced yet; hopes are high for their debut later this year.

Due to a clash on the line-up, I’m forced to split the rest of my pre-main stage portion of the day in two, a problem which plagues pretty much every festivalgoer at some point.

Catholic Action (11)

The first of these two acts are up-and-coming glam rockers Catholic Action, decked out in face glitter and radiating ethereal grace.

The tent is packed full and with good reason: their brand of bright riffs and grooving bass lines is the perfect cure to any post-Thursday hangovers, and with the festival only just hitting its stride the crowd are in the mood to dance.

A new song is even jokingly dedicated to internet sensation Harambe, the Cincinnati gorilla killed after a three-year-old boy climbed into his enclosure; this is a band with its finger on the pulse.

The Vegan Leather (3)

After a bit of careful manoeuvring and a light jog, I also just about manage to catch fellow Paisley Buddies, The Vegan Leather, on the Bella Bar Bandstand stage (try saying that three times fast).

It’s unusual seeing them play in the sunshine and the speakers just about deafen everyone within a two-mile radius, but the art pop four-piece are undeniably smooth as ever, with a number of other bands from across the weekend making up a fair portion of the crowd.

Despite their restricted listing this year, you can thoroughly expect to see them jump up the line-up in festivals to come.

The LaFontaines (7)

Far and away the highlight of Belladrum 2016 for me, The LaFontaines are up next; fighting tooth and nail against technical issues, the band take the main stage late, without a banner, and with a faulty microphone which seems to cut out on a whim.

Frontman, Kerr Okan, is visibly annoyed by the sound problems despite encouragement from a deafening following and some might take his acerbic sense of humour as lashing out, straight up calling the crowd a “field of fucking thieves” for illegally downloading their debut Class.

Still, they excel through it all, delivering some of the best rap-infused rock the country has to offer, with sharp lyrics about growing up poor and incredible beats.

They come to a climax with Okan ditching his broken microphone and launching himself into the crowd for the last few songs, not just sticking to the safety of the barrier but making his way all the way up to the back of the arena to “sing with the crowd”.

So impressed am I by their main set that I forego a dinner break in favour of catching their ‘secret set’ in the ludicrously tiny Tomatin Bothy.

It’s an even more restrictive venue with a stage barely wide enough to hold a drum kit and no amplification to speak of but the party continues nonetheless, with the band blasting through fan-favourites such as ‘Under The Storm’ and ‘King’ as well as hearing requests for ridiculous covers such as ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’.

Drummer Jamie Keenan takes his moment in the spotlight also, using a borrowed guitar to play his viral version of the classic children’s song ‘You Cannae Shove Yer Granny Aff The Bus’, wittily retitled ‘Cannae Get Ma Granny Aff The Drugs’, which goes down a treat with the more hardcore among the audience.

It’s a pleasantly humble experience as Okan expresses his shock that anyone had shown up at all, and hangs back with his bandmates to take selfies, sign drumsticks and have a chat despite the rapidly declining weather.

Super Furry Animals (2)

Back on the main stage sub-headliners Super Furry Animals bring with them a strange sense of unreality.

Clad in his bright-red Power Rangers helmet, Gruff Rhys croons opener ‘Slow Life’ with a quiet intensity and goes through his usual routine of communicating with the audience via placards: “Applause” the first one reads in bold capitals, then “Louder” and finally “Ape Shit”.

It’s novel and entertaining for the first few tracks but as the rain gets ever heavier and the songs seem to slow down more and more, I begin to drop off; to the point where the pace and energy of ‘Golden Retriever’ and ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ almost make me think I’ve dozed off and missed another band coming on.

To be completely fair, the Chewbacca costumes they wear for the finale are hilarious, but they’re just not enough.

Two Door Cinema Club (4)

The final set of the Friday goes to Northern-Irish indie-rockers Two Door Cinema Club, and equally I don’t expect much from them.

On paper they seem the exact bland guitar-based boyband that swamped the charts a few years back and indeed some of their records can come across that way, but in the end I’m pleasantly surprised by their live show.

Backed by an impressive (but not distracting) array of screens, their back-catalogue proves to be surprisingly robust with chart hits ‘Undercover Martyn’, ‘Something Good Can Work’ and ‘What You Known’ holding up well in the six years since their release, and inspiring a huge throng of jumping fans.

Even relative mainstream unknowns ‘Next Year’ and ‘Sun’ impress, the former with its undulating guitar scales set to a fitting backdrop of computer code and the latter with an unexpected horn section beneath a shockingly catchy chorus.

There’s not much in the way of depth but the whole set is peppy and feel-good, leaving all but the most miserable punter smiling and dancing back to their campsite.

More Photos

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Words/Photos: Aimee Boyle

West End Festival All Dayer at Oran Mor, 19/6/16

So it’s another dad day and another all dayer at Oran Mor as part of the West End Festival, and while the line up today may not be quite as dad friendly as last year’s fare there is a host of local talent at various stages of their musical development on offer.

Lewis Capaldi

Arriving early we manage to catch Lewis Capaldi opening at the Whisky Bar and the gruff voiced singer-songwriter, who recently sold out his debut headline show at The Garage Attic, portrays plenty of attention grabbing presence.

The load bar is full of bustling punters out for lunch or beers with their dads, but it’s huge credit to Capaldi that he manages to hold his own in loud bar that many would fade away into.

Three Blind Wolves

In the Venue we pop down for the start of local folk rock favourites Three Blind Wolves, whose recent EP The Bridge ranks among the best things they’ve done yet, deliver their ever impressive live set as their rousing musicianship coupled with Ross Clark’s booming vocals is a great way to kick things off downstairs.

Martha Ffion

Alas this can only be a brief visit for the Wolves as the wonderful Martha Ffion is started upstairs in the gorgeous Auditorium.

As Ffion takes the stage early on in the day the beautiful venue is sadly a bit towards the empty side.

Nevertheless Ffion and her band make the most of the stunning venue, performing like the room is full and receiving loud cheers at the end of each song for her charming sugarcoated vocals.

Having built up a large repertoire of 60s fuzzy pop peppered singles it is clear the Irish-born songstress’ confidence and stage presence has grown since I saw her last allowing her to grip her audience’s attention throughout her set closing on the wonderfully touching ‘We Disappear’.

Be Charlotte

We arrive early to catch Withered Hand’s set but are disappointed to find out he is stuck in traffic so we make the decision to head back upstairs to catch the wonderful Be Charlotte.

Having seen young Charlotte Brimner perform multiple time in the last year, the latest being just yesterday for Detour’s Hug and Pint Birthday party, her set comes as no real surprise, but it’s huge credit to the sparkling Dundonian that her set remains as impressive as the first time I witnessed it.

From the beginning of single and opener ‘Discover’ to the end of the set Brimner possess an addictive quality that bursts with an innovative take on pop music that could and should see her to the very top.

Whether hitting out a potential chart banger, chanting almost spoken word eloquence or delivering gob smacking acapella in her unique yet completely stunning tones, it’s hard not to enjoy and become engulfed in her set.

As we cannot possibly drag ourselves away from Be Charlotte, when we manage to head back downstairs for a second attempt at Withered Hand, he’s just finishing his set, however personal favourite, ‘Religious Songs’ allows us a short yet excellent taster of exactly what Dan Wilson’s solo set has to offer.

Catholic Action

Up next are fuzzy-rockers Catholic Action who treat the crowd to a number of new tracks during their set.

Between tracks the band’s on stage repartee is extremely entertaining as frontman Chris McCrory half-joking states “this is a slow song so shut up” in a deadpan manner.

It doesn’t take long for the to band speed things up with a song about pop diva Rita Ora before finishing their set by giving it their all.

With a set that showcases Catholic Action’s musical ability as well diversity, it’s no surprise that their captivating laid back melodies, angsty lyrics and jangly guitar noise create one of the day’s most memorable sets.

De Rosa

In the Venue a wonderful twinkling misery hangs in the air, but despite the glum demeanor De Rosa are mesmerising, Martin John Henry’s heartfelt vocals are believable and hit just the right side of charming, while musically they deliver enough bounce to put a string in your step without becoming jolly.

De Rosa returned at last year’s all dayer with a long awaited bang and while new album Weem didn’t quite drown them in accolades in was a slow burner that cemented their place as a vital part of the scene in Scotland and this set only confirms that.

Pronto Mama

It’s withdrawn but encapsulating, cold yet welcoming; a delightful touch between the fun romps of Catholic Action and next up, upstairs Pronto Mama.

The best set of the day goes to the effortlessly cool Pronto Mama, who from the moment they take the stage grasp of the crowd’s attention.

Their catchy upbeat tracks make it hard to stop everyone from having a little dance, even the band themselves join in and it’s not long until bassist Michael Griffin’s glasses go flying off his face.

The highlight of their set however has to be the courageous acapella ‘Sentiment’, which gives the crowd the opportunity to catch their breath as the whole band come together to deliver the track in beautiful harmony.

Errors

Due to the early start we have to choose a moment to pop out for food, which unfortunately sees us missing all of Crash Club and the vast majority of the heavenly vocaled Rachel Sermanni’s set, however we are back well in time for downstairs’ headliners Errors.

There’s a wee “hello” for Steev Livingstone and we’re off into a haze of fazer ridden, building beats that layers up to points of pounding bass and huge euphoric rises.

The sparse reverb ridden vocals on the tracks from one last year’s stand out albums, Lease of Life, give a live feel not to far removed from the better end of Animal Collective’s solo material, i.e. Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, and as this melds into a cacophony of organic synth and bass from their familiar beat ridden post rock sound.

Tracks from last year’s more dreamy release seem at ease side by side with the driven guitars of their older material and it’s a pleasure to delve into; everything Errors seem to do seems to come off perfectly and as Livingstone dryly asks “have you enjoyed it?” the crowd respond unanimously only for him to come back in the same deadpan tone “good, we’ll play again… some other time”.

Let’s hope it’s not too far off.

So another successful day of music from the centre piece, musically at least, of the West End Festival and the perfect way to spend a Sunday with or without your dad.

More Photos

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Words: Iain Dawson/Jess Lavin
Photos: Aimee Boyle/Stewart Fullerton

XpoNorth Showcases, Inverness, 8/6/16

Lot’s of things have been said posted about XpoNorth, displaying different sides of the conference, from huge praise to scathing criticism; I have my own opinions on what is right and wrong about the music conference, but this is not the time for that, this is an opportunity to talk about all the wonderful acts witnessed during the showcase events in the evening.

My evening starts at the Ironworks for the opening party and fashion show and after a few beverages I’m in good spirits to catch the music on offer and head over to Hootenanny’s to see Posable Action Figures in action.

The groove laden Edinburgh duo don’t let down with a perfectly danceable set that keeps you nodding along as Gareth Goodlad’s vocals engage on pop-tinged rock edge without becoming too cheesy or glossy; these guys are well worth checking out.

Over at Deeno’s we witness the familiar sounds of WOMPS, to my surprise the sports bar turned venue is up there with the best sounding of the weekend as the band deliver their usual set of high octane, grunge tinged gems.

Their debut album, Our Fertile Forever, may not quite be my personal favourite of Ewan Grant’s back catalogue, but this trio more than pack a punch live as their experience as live act shines through above other acts at these showcases; it’s Ewan worst hair cut yet though.

Following WOMPS are Stornoway rockers The Broken Ravens, and sadly the five-piece play to a somewhat dispersing crowd.

In all honesty these guys are a few feet wide of what I’d usually go for, but their set tonight hits all the right buttons; there’s a refreshing lack of pretense to their rollicking classic metal sound, and further to that it’s fun and pretty good too.

The Broken Ravens are a solid band that doesn’t seem to take themselves too serious, they won’t be best band you’ll see this weekend, either creatively or technically, but they might just be the most entertaining.

Over at the Market Bar I meet a packed attic and my knee immediately smashes off a bench, leaving me hopping in excruciating pain while FOREIGNFOX’s Jonny Watt is right there in my face as the band deliver a rousing set in the tight, but probably best venue of the showcase.

These guys are always a solid proposition live and deliver an emotional roller coast of a set of heartfelt lyrics sung in Watt’s addictive Scottish tones, all set to indie-tinged post rock soundscapes that cry Jetpacks at their most fluent.

A wee dash over for my first visit to Blackfriars allows me to catch the end of Declan Welsh’s set for some well thought out tracks with plenty of indie rock oomph and flowing banter; tonight is probably not the best introduction to Welsh’s set, but It does more than enough to keep me enticed to hear more.

Back over at Deeno’s is possibly the surprise of the night as Elle Exxe’s set is stripped back to just her and her drummer; gone is the big hair and diva misnomer leaving an undeniable punk attitude that feels much more genuine, yet maintains all the irresistible pop undertones; this is second time we’ve caught Exxe at showcase shows this year, hopefully a homecoming tour will be on the cards soon.

The last set of the night may possibly be the best, or maybe the drink is starting to kick in, as upstairs at Madhatters Catholic Action deliver exactly what is expected of them, a highly infectious set of glam enthused indie rock hits that’re just what you need from a post midnight set, these guys are going places and rightfully so.

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Words: Iain Dawson

Catholic Action – ‘L.U.V’ [Luv Luv Luv]

‘L.U.V’ is the first release on label Luv Luv Luv Records by Catholic Action; repetition then.

‘L.U.V’ is night and day from band’s previous single, ‘The Real World’ (Fuzzkill Records), whereas that previous release was maybe a bit too close to bands like The Thrills (remember them?), ‘L.U.V’ is a completely new recording of the tune that came out on their split with Poor Things (Soon to be R.I.P).

This limited 7″ is a full proper studio effort and the vocals and everything else are all in the red.

The melody of Chris McCrory sounds incredibly polished, from the extent of touring the band has been doing their collective chops have clearly been honed.

It is a bright and bold recording, Ryan Clark’s glam stomp is reinforced with handclaps that add to the overall bounciness of the tune, and the rhythm section is completed with elements of The Fall in the bass department and the distorted bass interlude leads the track to its end.

What begins as a Yummy Fur type questioning itself solo ends with Thin Lizzy harmony guitars.

This does pose the question on what direction the band decide to go in, The Fall route of British indie guitar music or full on pop market guitar band.

Worth watching to see what happens as Catholic Action are really the only guitar band in Glasgow who are doing anything at the moment, really.

This flirtation with two different markets has been one of the elements of their development that has made the band so curious to watch.

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Words: Tony Macacrory

Tracks of 2015 (30-21)

30-21  –  20-11  –  10-1  –  EPs & albums

30 Washington Irving - We Are All Going To Die30 Washington Irving – We Are All Going To Die [Naked Emperor]

As the opening chords of ‘We Are All Going to Die’ begin, it becomes clear why Washington Irving is on the road to success. Written following a period of unrest between the band, ‘We Are All Going To Die’ perfectly blends an upbeat, almost frantic, tempo with an intense and meaningful choice of lyrics. Washington Irving have yet to write a song that doesn’t demand to be listened to, what emerges from this single in particular is the juxtaposition between a sense of isolation and togetherness.

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29 Ubre Blanca - The Sadist29 Ubre Blanca – The Sadist [Giallo Disco]

‘The Sadist’ that is worth the price of admission to Ubre Blanca similarly titled EP alone. A stunning track, beyond the sometimes (let us not kid ourselves) boring 80s synth OST type groups; Ubre Blanca stand out as they venture away from the midi life crisis and more into prog/organic sounds of dare I say fusion bands. The first generation that used synths in the studio as an instrument… not everything including the studio. The track has the atmospherics part then the “banger” part. Heavy on poppers and Roxy Music guitars live they have taken the best most primal elements of the live show and successfully released them to us… the grateful listener. (Paul Choi)

28 Mt. Doubt - SOAK28 Mt. Doubt – SOAK

Led by songwriter and producer Leo Bargery, Mt. Doubt released the beautifully atmospheric ‘SOAK’ earlier this year. The track is packed full of heartfelt melodies and the addition of indie-folk songstress Annie Booth’s gentle and charming vocals compliment Bargery’s to create captivating harmonies. The instrumentals compliment both the vocals and lyrics creating a soothing sound that continues to build throughout into a triumph finale. (Jess Lavin) (she smells)

27 King Eider - Fire27 King Eider – Fire

‘Fire’ sees King Eider reach a delirious and feverish level, the track breaks down for a sparkling interlude of piano and violin before grabbing us in with a threat to topple the senses, as vocals are harmonised to startling effect. King Eider took a leap of faith with this more driven sound from their modern twist on toe tapping folk-blues and it worked.

26 Foreignfox - Driving Drunk For Christmas 26 FOREIGNFOX – Driving Drunk For Christmas

Despite the Christmassy theme FOREIGNFOX’s latest release may not have been the jolly seasonal tune many expect to hear during the colder months; it explores relationship problems around the holidays and how they can lead to dire consequences, however the track does showcase both frontman’s Jonny Watt’s vocal range and songwriting skills as well as the band’s signature passionate and intense sound, making a favourite on my Christmas playlist. (Jess Lavin) is a goose

25 WHITE - Future Pleasures

25 WHITE – Future Pleasures [RCA]

2015 has been a great year for WHITE’s and ‘Future Pleasures’ was the jewel at the centre of it all. A host of airplay, a profile in NME and a record deal with Sony was all fuelled by this high-octane indie-funk romp that seeks to bottle some of the rays of sunlight. You can even successfully Google them now, well to a certain extent now.

24 Hudson Mohawke - Scud Books24 Hudson Mohawke – Scud Books [Warp]

Having worked with Kanye West and had music featured in Apple adverts and Grand Theft Auto V, it’s fair to say that Glaswegian producer Ross Birchard aka Hudson Mohawke can now boast an influential, global reputation. Much like fellow Scottish export GTA, he marries American ideas such as hip-hop with an unmistakable Scottish wry sense of humour and a humble, self-awareness of his impressive achievements. ‘Scud Books’ is an NBA-ready banger with a shot of euphoria in its bright, primary-coloured chords and melody. For every Scot sniggering at the title there is someone else in the world obliviously head banging to the hallmark brass booms that Birchard has forged into his indelible signature on electronic music. This track epitomises how Hudson Mohawke has became Scottish music’s success story; instead of breaking the national shackles that hold back others, he has inconspicuously circumvented ever being tied down. (Liam Gingell)

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23 The Lapelles - Seventeen23 The Lapelles – Seventeen

Fiery, energetic and exhilarating, The Lapelles are able, on stage and in the studio, to encapsulate both the highs and the lows of youth, not to mention the chaos in between. ‘Seventeen’ is a sterling effort, with its impressive instrumentation and strong vocals, one can only imagine how powerful it will be when performed live. The track, and shared single ‘Snakehips’, is a striking statement of intent from a band that is rapidly building a name for themselves.

22 Pinact - Anxiety22 Pinact – Anxiety [Kanine]

‘Anxiety’ is a track filled with ferocity from the very first riff. With lyrics that include “I don’t feel so hopeless anymore” it has everything you could want from a great punk rock song; a great drum beat, scratchy guitar riffs with the distorted guitars bringing the track to a defining close. A top class single featured on an excellent debut album, ‘Anxiety’ will make you rush to hear Stand Still and Rot in its entirety. (Lorne Gillies)

21 Catholic Action - L.U.V.21 Catholic Action – L.U.V. [FUZZKILL]

In a year where Catholic Action quite rightfully grasped their claim as one of the hottest properties in Scottish music just now, ‘L.U.V.’, from their Fuzzkill released split with Poor Things was the standout track. It finds its feet firmly in the danceable indie/alternative wave that took over the UK in the 00s, however the band’s affinity for heavier groups lives on in the crunching and wailing guitars that speckle the surface of the song. At points ‘L.U.V’ breaks out of its danceable groove to give way to more outlandish influences and even features homage to Thin Lizzy in the form of a guitar solo. 2016 looks to be Catholic Action’s year.

30-21  –  20-11  –  10-1  –  EPs & albums

Catholic Action – ‘The Real World’ [Fuzzkill]

Catholic Action is made up four young men led by Chris McCrory, formally of Male Pattern Band, drummer of much loved Casual Sex and Pinact.

They appear sleekish in black and their cassette single (now sold out) on Fuzzkill Records is more of the 70s, Thin Lizzy and Glitter Band sound that they filter their classic melodies through.

The Casual Sex link has proved vital to CA; they have utilised the same networks that were formed with that band – this is not a criticism it merely has accelerated the growth of a very good band.

Recordings with (members of The Coral) and praise from everyone from Fred Perry to Alex Kapranos has cemented them as one of the hottest prospects to come from Glasgow in recent years and the schooling from Casual Sex only stands to ensure that they live up to everything that is tagged on them.

‘Real World’ and ‘Andrew’ are a distinct change from the glam sound they have been pursuing, the latter being a chilled out instrumental on The La’s side of guitar music.

Words: Gayham Crisps

T in the Park 2015 (Saturday)

After a rather easy ride back the previous night, leaving before the full on headliners finished, we decide to opt into a car park a bit closer to the festival site; little did we know how much hassle this would cause, but more on that later.

Popping down to the media bit for the small portion of time that tins of T actually made it to the fridge I boost out just as quick to catch the openers at T Break.

AmatrArt provide a nice synth filled wash to ease us into proceedings, withplenty of quirky clicks that combine with pleasant pop sensibilities, making them stand out from the plethora of electronic indie rock acts trying to break just now.

At times they touch on soaring and rarely are they not engaging and the fact they drag down a moderate crowd, considering the gates only opened minutes before they took the stage, sits them in pretty good stead.

Opening the BBC Introducing Stage for the weekend is Edinburgh’s Stillhound, playing just there second ever gig – managing to get such a gig with so little live experience is impressive, however sharing a drummer with charming pop duo Honeyblood must have done them no harm.

Regardless their sound is full of fun slanted guitars and sparkling synths, and shows plenty of promise; for band that have only played together live on one other occasion the set is impressively polished as the they inject some future dance floor fillers into the early T in the Park afternoon, while showing a cool assurance in their second show that many band’s won’t get after a hundred.

I dash back over to T Break, thankfully less than an minutes jaunt away, for the start of Catholic Action, and after a promising few releases things are really starting to blossom for these guys.

Chris McCrory cuts a confident figure centre stage as they deservedly pull and successfully woo a healthy crowd with their scratchy melodics, bouncing energy and classic, sometimes almost chanted, addictive vocals.

McCrory loses himself from time to time behind his mop of hair, but there’s always a real assured vibe about his delivery, occasionally touching on a full blown rock star vibe; this has been said before, but from the rumours I’m hearing you may just have missed you last chance to see these guys in a small tent.

Catholic Action-2

Fast forward 90 minutes and the ever active McCrory, who has also produced a number of high quality records, as well as playing in multiple bands, is back on stage; this time he’s behind the kit, as him and guitar/vocalist Corrie Gillies take the stage for Pinact’s set.

Pinact have become renowned for their buzzing live shows and today’s set only justifies that; from the very off it’s a fully fuelled energy fest of fast, fun songs delivered with a joyous sneer.

They take pages from the lo-fi indie rock book, but add in all the better aspects of pop punk to deliver a never resting, explosive burst of fast, fussy, vibrant playing and urgent vocals that are enough to shake anyone from their hangover, if the first flat pint hasn’t helped.

My first taste of the bigger stages today comes over at the Radio 1 where one the most interesting pop emergences over the last year, Charli XCX, has already taken the stage.

Last year she held a fairly quiet early slot of the Main Stage and caused a stir, mainly down to her revealing attire, rather than her fresh pop hooks.

Today’s she commands a much larger crowd; gone is pretty much all of her fantastic, critically acclaimed, fairly under the mainstream radar, 2013 album True Romance and her massive hit for Icona Pop, ‘I Love It’, is relegated to a lower slot in her set, as in the last year this girl has really taken off.

Huge singles like the gloriously addictive ‘Doing It’ blasted her well into the public eye, and it fires an early dose of soaring pop brilliance over the mid afternoon crowd and makes sure last year’s questionable outfit is well forgotten.

Today she’s clad in a much less revealing zebra print two-piece, while her, all girl, band are all clad in silver in front a podium and a giant love heart sporting her latest album’s name, Sucker.

It was plain to see two years ago, when we caught her play in front of a hundred or so people in the ABC2, that she was set for bigger things and the fact she continues to push the boundaries of mainstream pop makes her one of the most exciting acts in the charts right now.

It’s still a bit early for the crowd to be in full flow today, or maybe they’ve just fled in fear that they won’t get away before this year’s most annoying band, Years & Years, take the stage.

Probably her most generic single to date, ‘Break The Rules’, receives the biggest reaction from the crowd, but as she demonstrates some impressive rap chops, taking Iggy’s part during ‘Fancy’, and closes on the huge sing-along that is ‘Boom Clap’ I’m left more than satisfied with my pop hit of the weekend.

Did I mention it’s been raining today, well it has on and off and it’s pelting it down when Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, from The Beautiful South, take the stage in the mobbed King Tut’s Tent, and it’s hard, for even those who’ve just stumbled in avoid getting wet, to suggest that this isn’t impressive stuff.

Both singers still possess impressive voices, and while I’m not as familiar with all the classics as a lot of the older faces around the tent, it’s still an engrossing set of catchy jangly pop numbers.

Still as the big hitters start to filter into the setm ‘Don’t Marry Her’, ‘Perfect 10’ and even some of Heaton’s Housemartins material, things seem to gain an added push, which makes this a much more memorable set that many would have had it marked down for.

If you’re not convinced by the end the of the impeccable, set closing accapella of ‘Caravan of Love’ that you’ve made the right choice coming here over Jessie J, then there’s something seriously wrong with you.

Paul Heaton Jacqui Abbott-8

A lull in the line up where the cringy voiced George Ezra takes the Main Stage, Enter Shikari bizarrely play Radio 1 (I was tempted to go see what the crowd is like) and those guys Jungle, that have that one song that’s quite good, but sounds like everything else they do, complete the larger stages and nothing that tickled my fancy hit the smaller ones, means it’s time for the compulsory visit to the Slam Tent.

Being honest, I had this slot penciled in anyway, Jackmaster b2b Joy Orbison is easily one of the stand out slots on a line up that always packed with some of techno’s bit hitters.

There’s something a bit off about the tent this year; in Balado it was always a trek away from everything, quite fittingly as for some the Slam Tent is a yearly pilgrimage to get off your face and have a good time and not for the younger ones wandering about to see some chart toting band.

This year it is right next to the Main Stage, less than a minutes walk, and when you walk in you notice instantly why this so wrong… There’s so many youngsters here.

Yeah you’re never too young to get into good tunes, and what’s on at the Slam Tent is generally miles ahead of the like of Guetta and Avicii, on the open air stages, in terms of sheer musicality, but when you consider the Slam Tent’s reputation it’s not something you want to mix with young teenagers; without going into detail it feels questionable to say the least.

The set however is blasting, as expected it’s to the heavier dance end of both individual’s sets, but the Slam Tent as laps it up despite it seeming much quieter than the den of noise it was in the past.

A jaunt back to the Tut’s Tent for the unrelenting brilliantness that is St. Vincent means walking through a field where The Script are mid set, a couple of hilarious pictures of my pal with her fingers in her ears and witnessing a few grown men singing along (shame on them) and we’re free and ready to experience one of the best acts on the whole bill.

Unsurprisingly Annie Clark and co. draw a relatively small crowd, it is T after all; but from the instant she emerges, looking like some crazy, hot, space robot lady, and blasts into ‘Marrow’ we don’t look back.

Like The War On Drugs yesterday, this isn’t the best place to see St. Vincent, regardless Clark is an insanely talented guitarist who crafts her songs in such a mesmerising way that it’s easy to get lost in her set, while her performance is clinically choreographed yet spectacular, something that has been an ever present since her time touring with David Bryne.

St. Vincent is someone that should be seem by the masses at festival’s of this size, but should isn’t good enough and as she tops her podium, giving a similar spiel about “freaks and others” that she did at her ABC gig back in August, it feels somewhat of an injustice.

Today’s set doesn’t quite have the full glitz of her venue sets and she doesn’t have any speakers to climb/fall off, but there’s enough to shake up excitement from any newbies that might have wandered in uninitiated.

There wasn’t much that could follow that for me, but my flat mate was up today and eager to relive her childhood, for which I was dragged along for the ride, meaning I was back at the Main Stage; albeit after struggling to stay above ground during a mass of congested people moving between stages in both directs.

I was never a fan of The Libertines, that said I had never given them much chance, of course I was aware of them, it was hard not to be growing up in a time when Pete Doherty was headline news every other day, but that aside I went to see them willing to be won over.

In short; I’m not, yes the crowd is massive and well up for it, belting out each song word for word, that’s what festival set’s are all about after all, and the band seem well into it Doherty and Carl Barat interacting like the best of pals, but it feels off, not necessarily the quality of the songs, but the sound seems washed out in the rainy field and it’s only the crowd’s unrelenting knowledge of every word that keeps it afloat.

It’s particularly noticeable when they play newer tracks and there’s no en mass crowd participation to back the band up, still the majority of the crowd seem to enjoy it and that’s the main thing, right?

A quick wander back over to T Break and the haze is beginning to come over me, I catch the end of Other Humans high octane set before it’s time to make a move and beat the traffic for another day.

Or so we thought! The car park is a mess and we had been directed to park on a hill earlier, despite our protests, so, after a good half hour trying to get up the hill and out of the mud, which needed four of us pushing in the end we get onto the flat.

Still, we need another set of people pushing to get us out causing much hilarity from the back of the car as sets of puzzled looking girls get hit with the line “Little Mix! Push the car!” and a rendition of Camera Obscura’s ‘Let’s Get Out of This Country’, with “country” naturally changed to “car park”, goes down a treat.

So, day two doesn’t go quite as smoothly, but we get home for a wee rest before the final day’s activities.

FridaySunday

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Bill Gray

The Growlers, Catholic Action at CCA, 2/5/15

By the time Catholic Action take the stage the CCA is beginning to fill up and the crowd seem restless.

The band open with a bang by launching into the stomping ‘L.U.V’ and the crowd appear instantly hooked.

Catholic Action has begun to create a buzz around Glasgow in recent months and it becomes obvious at gigs like this, when you can hear people talking about tracks by name or singing along.

Many of the band’s songs tread the line between Pavement’s more melodic work, Thin Lizzy’s harmonious guitar output and Franz Ferdinand’s knack for controlling a dancefloor.

Some of the slower, longer pieces seem to make the crowd a little restless however they more than make up for it before leaving the stage.

The Growlers emerge as twisted cabaret plays and the band come to life with an air of cool about them, enviable to bands playing far larger stages and selling far more tickets.

‘Big Toe’ is the first track that gets the crowd visibly invested; the creeping guitar lines frame the pounding rhythm section sublimely.

Throughout the night it seems to be the newer material that causes the crowd to get most excited, more than likely because of the critical praise the album garnered.

The band do play a wide selection of their work though mixing in old favourites such as ‘Acid Rain’, ‘Derka Blues’ and ‘Sea Lion Goth Blues’; leaving die-hard fans suitably satisfied.

The band embraces the slacker rock archetype, but they never seem to rely on it as much as some of their contemporaries do, they instead mix it with a suitable seasoning of country and surf influenced pieces.

‘Good Advice’ becomes one of the highlights of the night as the crowd scream the lyrics back at the band.

There are points when it feels as if the whole performance is going to go off the rails, but the band use this, the breakneck drumming and the blistering guitar solo to instead astonish the crowd rather than disappoint.

The band leave stage after a few more songs allowing ‘Love Test’s extended outro to serve as a platform to thank the crowd for coming.

As is normal in Glasgow, especially when a band of this calibre come to town they are not allowed to leave without an encore.

The band play a bombastic version of ‘Humdrum Blues’, which sounds suitably faster than it appears on record, however this just serves the song even more making for another highlight of the night.

The band close out their encore with the title track from their recent release, the disco influenced groove gets most of the crowd dancing and once again singing along.

Once again the band thanks the crowd for coming, praise the city and then leave.

While the band’s last appearance in the city was also brilliant it’s nicer to see them appearing in larger venues and to bigger crowds where they have ample room to entertain.

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Words: Phil Allen
Photos: Daphne Michalaki