Glasgow does a good line in noisy and lo-fi music with the likes of Pinact and Halfrican blazing a trail for those who like their music sweaty, aggressive and delivered in explosive bursts of aggression and frustration to grim basements and gnarly clubs and Dune Witch Trails do a good job of picking up the baton.
From the clunky title to the five tracks fuzzily recorded and dispatched in under ten minutes, it’s fair to say that no one in Dune Witch Trails is planning a career for themselves as the next Chris Martin.
‘Good Will Come To You’ is a garage rock riot recalling cult heroes The Exploding Hearts, that manages to snatch a singalong melody and bolt it into the chassis of a grubby touring van and the rest of the EP is equally likeably lo-fi.
There’s obviously some cache in not going the pop song route on every track and the admirably obtuse ‘Cat Called Rover’ and the ragged ‘Gravity Expert ‘ demonstrate that punk rock fires are still burning here.
‘Magic Ball’ gives the greatest deference to conventional song structures and on balance its the better track, despite never deviating from the DWT masterplan of saying everything they need to say in less than 120 seconds and getting the fuck out.
Finally, the last and most intriguing track is ‘Radio Silence Radio Star’, which sounds like it has been beamed from some awful parallel universe where Bowie’s ‘Starman’ drifts off into space, gradually losing oxygen and disappearing into the heart of a black hole.
With its echoing gothic drawl, it’s a real shift in tone from the rest of the EP and a potential signifier for dark places Dune Witch Trails might choose to travel next.
If you think J Mascis is the Pope of pent up frustration then Dune Witch Trails will fit you like a stained and sweaty plaid shirt, and they’ve even got some surprises up their sleeves.
Jon Cooper aka Turtle’s EP Push is titled as ambiguously as the music that inhabits it. It’s clean, but somehow gritty, it’s beautifully mixed and it happens to be just a great show on how to write ambient electronic music. ‘The River’ sounds like it should be accompanied by big waterfalls and David Attenborough’s voice, and there is no circumstance where this would be the result of music, which is anything other than enchanting. (Greg Murray)
9 Bella and the Bear – A Girl Called Bella
The second official EP from Ayr-based duo Bella and the Bear saw them return with a fresh outlook and a compelling sound. Their traditional acoustic sound offers immensely intricate and beautiful lyrics paired with engaging rhythmic guitar and powerful, while their Scottish roots are portrayed proudly through spoken word, which creates a rougher edge to the EP. There is a timeless feel to A Girl Called Bella, a sense of wonder and excitement paired with quiet melancholy; a rare find.
8 Sweaty Palms – Hollywood Wax [FUZZKILL]
Hollywood Wax is a dark yet jaunty garage tinged tape that captures your attention and slowly grows til you’re hooked. Sweaty Palms draw from a host of styles, but have successfully managed to corner their own as Robbie Houston’s snarled vocals possess an unrelenting garage energy that combines with the band’s eerie hypnotic power, while a touch of joviality means they’re rightfully labeled ones to watch.
The first of two Tuff Love EPs, Dregs is an easy listening pop filled record with subtle undertones. Tuff Love describe their sound as “aggressively melodic” and over five tracks the listener is transported to a softer world filled with light drum and guitar beats mixed together with the duo’s soft harmonies. Following on from other EPs Junk and Dross, Dregs welcomes the idea of upbeat and infectiously catchy songs, mesmerising lyrics and gentle vocals, perfect that these songs now all feature on a full-length. (Lorne Gillies)
Outblinker’s first offering was delivered in the form of a two track EP that really packs a punch. The quintet combine crunching riffs alongside mesmerising synth into a 23-minute experience that you won’t forgot in a hurry. ‘Pink’ eases the listener in before unleashing a cathartic cacophony of battling sounds and timbres, whereas ‘Blue’, with its eerie tones and hypnotic synth, offers a more cinematic approach. (Jess Lavin)
5 Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – DILF_77 Would Like To Chat [Chemikal Underground]
Dilf_77 Would Like To Chat immediately dances into life and it’s a real change from Moffat and Wells’ usual bleak affair. Wells lays down a disco arrangement that just screams Nile Rogers alongside Moffat’s trademark bloke-ish vocals. Moffat described these tracks as “too unique” and “too cheery” to be included on a full album, and he’s not wrong, but you don’t miss the bleak bluntness that defines this partnership. This EP stands alone giving a glimpse into a sanguine side of the duo seldom seen.
It’s no surprise Tuff Love feature twice here with tunes packed with disjointed instrumentals, fuzzy thrills and distorted melodies Tuff Love are no strangers to the DIY ethic, the two-piece always manage to capture their raw and unpolished vibe without ever sounding shambolic – Dross being no exception. The EP perfectly captures the essence of the band’s tight live performance showcasing Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear’s velvety vocals as they create stunning harmonies that soar over expertly plucked strings. (Jess Lavin)
Hot on the heels of 2014’s sister EPs, The Bell That Never Rang further cements Hector Bizerk’s reputation as the Scottish purveyors of rhythmic exploration and the honest and grim truth. While they have been developing this style for a few years, ‘Skin & Bone’ marks an evolutionary step as they adopt a pop chorus, while on ‘Rust Cohle’ Louie’s words are more biting and on target than ever. These EP’s have proven their ability; it is only a matter of time until a full-length album achieves the same effect. (Liam Gingell)
2 The Van T’s – Laguna Babe [Bloc+]
Laguna Babe is just a tremendous EP from the Van Thompson twins. There’s a real grunge attitude that underpins the new sound of the band, somewhat of a leap from the acoustic stuff of a couple of years ago. It seems after the musical journey they’ve been on they’ve arrived at the type of Pixies-esque tunes they were always destined to create. ‘Growler’ is an incredible opener that will hook you enough to ensure you cannot pull away from the rest of the EP and, as a whole, it is just a right good record. Last year was a great year for The Van T’s, but all the evidence suggests 2016 could be even better. (Jay Henderson)
Waving at Airports sets the scene perfectly for Dune Witch Trails to continue their ascendancy within the thriving landscape of Glasgow and beyond. It almost sounds a bit like a grittier sounding Japandroids – even typing that made me smile at the thought. There aren’t many bands that could pack so much feeling and so many sounds into less than 10 minutes, but Dune Witch Trails manage to do just that. Each song is just the right length to showcase many great ideas without ever becoming tedious, helping make Waving At Airports our number one EP of last year. (Andy McGonigle)
Eerie harmonic vocals combine with jangling rhythmic guitar to produce elusive lo-fi sounds in ‘Duke’, arguably the pick of the tracks featured on two wondrous EPs fro Tuff Love in 2015. The lyrics are meshed in amongst distorted melodies, the chorus is catchy, but not so infectious that you won’t want to set your player to repeat. What’s most impressive with Tuff Love is their ability to craft expert musicality and sophistication while sounding like a comforting dream-cloud and ‘Duke’ is prime example of this. (Rachel Cunningham)
19 SACRED PAWS – Vince [Rock Action]
SACRED PAWS deliver short, sharp blows in the offbeat ‘Vince’, which feels a little raw, but this only adds to the band’s charm and personality. The girls mix cross-rhythms and shimmering guitar to create an energetic melody, which they impressively manage to not only keep up with, but also delicately arrange, multi-layered vocals that end in superb harmonies. The track’s post-punk, poly-rhythmic approach to percussion really packs a punch! (Jess Lavin)
The dreamy passages of Louise Connell aka Reverieme’s Or Else The Light EP was a hauntingly wonderful depiction of love and loss and the strummed ukulele of ‘Plankton’ shone out at the release’s standout. You can’t help but be arrested by the expression in Connell’s voice, a heart wrenching juxtaposition of defeat and hope. Her declaration that the song’s afflatus is “…so much like a planktonic woman” is a devastating indictment aimed to show how passivity can be as damaging as jealousy and similar emotions within any relationship.
17 Adam Stafford – Atheist Money [Song, by Toad]
It may have came out early in 2015, but as with the majority of Adam Stafford’s releases ‘Atheist Money’ stayed in the memory well up to the end of the year and will continue this with its feature on 2016 full length Taser Revelations. Stafford is always one for the finer details and this is no different, ‘Atheist Money’ is full of the all the wonder and beauty you’d expect as churning loops build up to spectacular heights and soar back down; powerful, powerful stuff.
The opener and stand out track on Cal Donelly aka Youngstrr Joey’s Cheerleader, release earlier in the year, ‘Michael’ possesses rumbling lo-fi guitars and a chorus that will be stuck in your head for days. It’s not entirely clear who exactly Donelly’s Michael is, but that’s the beauty of it – everyone has their own version of Michael who they want to show them “how to be cool”.
15 Hudson Mohawke – Ryderz [Warp]
It’s no surprise that HudMo’s ended up with two tracks in this list, Lantern was positively hoatching with potential bangers and ‘Ryderz’ could easily be the pick of the bunch, as Birchard builds on a D.J. Rogers soul cut and lets it be, well for a minute or so, before he demonstrates just why he’s one of the best maximalist producers out there right now, bringing out every tool in his electronic box to produce a piece of wonder that drops perfectly out of nowhere and has you screaming “watch out for the ryderz” at the top of your lungs.
14 CARBS – Stick A Flake In Me (I’m Done) [Save As]
Never would I have thought “Mr. Whippy” and “Margaret Thatcher” be paired in a sentence. This is just one of the many elegantly constructed lines in ‘Stick a Flake in Me (I’m Done)’ that has been cased in a re-worked version of an old ice cream van theme tune. The child-like perspective pairs well with the Gameboy-style melody, which is magically presented in a series of syncopated beats and pleasing harmonies. CARBS’ single is a playful gem that will take the edge of any bad day and give you a wee education in ice cream to boot. (Rachel Cunningham)
13 BDY_PRTS – Cold Shoulder
‘Cold Shoulder’ presents a sleek, fresh and futuristic pop sound; essentially the antithesis of most things Scottish. Regardless, Jill and Jenny sing with their accents proudly on show like weird, Caledonian android sisters (despite one of them having a noticeable, yet beautiful American twang). It begins with minimal percussive drum machine elements bouncing around under crunchy power chords before sprawling into a distant and expansive chorus section that conjures the imagine of Neo-Glasgow invented in the mind of a manga artist. While the vocal harmonies are notably affecting and effective, the single’s standout feature is its marriage of raw analog guitars with clean and clinical digital production; this painterly sound choice creates interesting dynamics above the simple song form. BDY_PRTS have a sound unlike any other band this year and ‘Cold Shoulder’ exemplifies this achievement. (Liam Gingell)
At the tail end of 2014 we caught Man of Moon for the first time, playing to a smattering of people as the opening act for Merchandise at Stereo, even then their intelligent slow burning grooves and guarded yet gritty vocals were impressive. This year they seem to have come on leaps and bounds and debut single ‘The Road’ is the jewel in the band’s year, the building instrumentals crash into huge noise, in as catchy and addictive a way as possible and has us eagerly waiting for more in 2016.
11 Dune Witch Trails – Goldenrod Cigar
‘Goldenrod Cigar’ is completely symbolic of what Dune Witch Trails do so well. The loose off kilter guitars lay the foundation for the equally as slack vocal delivery. Clocking in at just over two minutes, it captivates you in its organised mayhem and simplicity. Dune Witch Trails are one of the most exciting guitar bands out at the moment and ‘Goldenrod Cigar’ is the perfect introduction.
Guitar bands are having a great time of it here in Glasgow, and no I don’t just mean Twin Atlantic and Fatherson.
There is a great underbelly of punky, catchy and utterly brilliant guitar bands that are slowly feeding into the mainstream consciousness.
Dune Witch Trails are one such band, melting lo-fi guitar tones with poppy sensibilities perfectly; they seem to capture all that is exciting in Glasgow just now.
First track ‘Birthday Pitch’ comes straight in with the lo-fi vibe we all love, Kieran Thomas’ vocals crack just the right amount whilst still remaining melodic throughout.
The way Dune Witch Trails go from broody alt rock to full on lo-fi pop goodness is staggering.
One of the best things about this band and indeed this whole EP is the exciting and varied take on what they are doing; no two songs carry the exact same vibe.
Based on Waving at Airports, the musical talent of Dune Witch Trails can’t be doubted; ‘Goldenrod Cigar’ sees a completely different vocal delivery from the rest of the record, but it works equally as well.
It almost sounds a bit like a grittier sounding Japandroids – even typing that made me smile at the thought.
There aren’t many bands that could pack so much feeling and so many sounds into less than 10 minutes, but Dune Witch Trails manage to do just that.
Each song is just the right length to showcase many great ideas without ever becoming tedious.
Waving at Airports sets the scene perfectly for Dune Witch Trails to continue their ascendancy within the thriving landscape of Glasgow and beyond.
Dune Witch Trials begin their set with loose and rough dream-pop feel, however this is short lived as their second track crashes in with much heavier sound, shaking the venue awake.
During their set the band continue to switch between these dynamics, each track is kept short and snappy, but allows exactly enough time to showcase their unique and brilliant instrumental skill without being too flashy.
Despite seeing PAWS live on multiple occasions, I am yet to see Phillip Taylor perform a solo set and, therefore, I’m extremely excited for what’s in store.
Tonight his set consists of stripped back versions of PAWS songs with a cover of The Lemonheads’ ‘My Drug Buddy’ thrown in for good measure.
As much as I enjoy PAWS’ highly energetic full band set it’s nice to have the opportunity to hear their tracks in a different fashion, which allows you to really hear Taylor’s superb song-writing skill.
However, it is all too clear that Taylor is frustrated by the lack of crowd participation during tonight’s show despite all his efforts to engage with them.
Halfrican arrival on stage changes the atmosphere as they begin their energetic set in their statement shorts.
This is Halfrican’s first gig as a four-piece, but the new additions, Kevin Frew has returned to drums as ‘Jet’ Jackson has more important things to focus on, seem to mirror the same hyperactive and lively stage presence of the rest of the band.
On stage Halfrican give it their all during their set, treating the crowd to a number of previously released tracks such as ‘Down To Fuck’ and ‘Life Is Hard’ as well new songs like ‘In For The Kill’, all of which are extremely enjoyable to watch.
The now packed venue is eagerly awaiting tonight’s headliners WOMPS and from the moment they take the stage it is clear why.
WOMPS fill the room with the sound of pounding percussion and heavy riffs, creating an epic wall of sound before frontman Ewan Grant’s heartfelt vocals kick-in.
It is clear from tonight why this band have managed to pick up support from the likes of NME online, The Skinny, Clash Magazine, Artrocker, BBC Radio 1 and more as they showcase a number of potential hits.
Despite their new record not arriving in time for tonight’s launch, it is clear the three-piece are in high spirits and extremely grateful for the turnout in the venue making tonight’s set one of their best yet.
Tonight is yet another launch from ravechild favourites the super prolific Fuzzkill Records, and another outstanding bill choked with sunshine begging, fuzzed up lo-fi pop tunes with a little surprise in the middle and a slightly darker twist at the end.
Opening proceedings is the sparky melodies and charming pop energy of Dune Witch Trails, who offer plenty to bop along to from beneath layers of fuzz and meandering basslines.
The nonchalant vocals from Kieran Thomas crack with attitude, but succeed into lulling you into a false sense of security before the band unleash speedy pop waves that drag you onto a sun kissed beach, despite this being one of the coldest nights Glasgow’s had in a while.
DWT successfully switch between a fiery hardcore energy, strutting lo-fi pop and dreary yet addictively spangly alt rock that lifts you out of your seat ready for a sing-along; which indeed one of the BIN MEN does, joining the band onstage, before an unnerving intro brings in the brilliant ‘Goldenrod Cigar’.
It’s a short, but uplifting set from a band with one of the most impressive releases to come of Glasgow this year and as Thomas downs his guitar and struts the stage with a far away look in his eye you know there’s more to come.
Up next is, familiar faces to a Fuzzkill night, The Shithawks and the Dundee trio deliver a set of roaring fury, with screaming guitars and garage-y vocals that emit a pure rock’n’roll vibe more familiar to the dirty south of the States than Tayside.
It’s not all just raucous energy with these guys though, there’s plenty of groove embedded into their set that gets your feet tapping; an always welcome addition to these shows.
The somewhat spanner in the works to your usual bill from one of our favourite record labels are the BIN MEN, and the stoner rap duo’s rowdy stage manner, infectious energy and sheer hilarity goes down a treat, bringing the audience down to front as they spit throw away yet brilliant bravado filled lyrics over dirty hip-hop beats.
There’s a shout out to the Antique Pony album, which is released this evening, before the duo go on a full tirade against said band, most of whom I’m told are present, it’s all tongue to cheek stuff though as the BIN MEN set the octane high with aggressively delivered shout of “Antique Pony we’re gonna kill you”.
It’s a short, but immensely engrossing set from a duo whose aggressive stage manner is only topped by their ridiculous subject matter; tracks titles like ‘If You Sellin Tickets You A Bitch’, ‘KP Snacks’ and ‘I’m Never Going To Pay Back My Student Loan’ may well give you a idea of what these guys are about – make sure to see them at the next opportunity you get.
Then we’ve left with the headliners, tonight launching their Hollywood Wax EP, who has the unenviable task of following up the musical destruction left by the BIN MEN.
Thankfully the Glasgow four-piece are more than on their game and deliver a set that showcases their talent for creating a dark yet jaunty garage tinged sound that captures the basement’s attention with ease; that’s if it wasn’t already caught by bassist, Shaun Montgomery’s outlandish tartan trouser/waistcoat combo.
Sweaty Palms have been praised for drawing from a host of different styles, being labelled things like ‘garage goth’ and ‘sad surf’, both of which are apt at points this evening, and at times there’s even a fuzzy psychedelia about them.
Indeed Robbie Houston’s snarled vocals possess that unrelenting garage energy of Bobby Gillespie at his best and on occasion that sneery edge of a Yummy Fur era John McKeown, only with lyrics more fitting to 2015 than the 1990s (couldn’t resist).
They succeed easily in drowning the Note’s tiny basement in sound and have an eerie power that hypnotises the basement before unleashing it into a mini mospit; they occasionally touch a little heavier than a listen to their tape may suggest, still there’s enough joviality in the snarled lyrics and infectious energy that keep the set just about in the light and not the dergy darkness their jarring guitars are dragging you too.
It’s a compelling set from a band with a bright future, and yet another successful Fuzzkill launch.