Tag Archives: Jonnie Common

Tracks of 2017 (50-41)

50. Stillhound – ‘X, Y & Dread’

‘X, Y & Dread’ is a very stylish song, which is very sparing with its sound, never over-doing anything, with electronic sounds range from punchy and in your face – perhaps even discordant – to subtle, nuanced and quiet. Stillhound have a distinct style, which this release suggests is developing into maturity.

49. The Great Albatross – ‘An Evening’ [LP]

‘An Evening’ saw light of day before The Great Albatross’ superb full length, Asleep In The Kaatskills, and gave us a taster of what to expect through a warm, tender beauty of a track that draws influences from songwriter Wesley Chung’s American indie rock past and his new home of Glasgow, while the addition of backing vocals from Jo Mango are a delight in themself.

48. Meursault – ‘Klopfgeist’ [Song, by Toad]

Much like a few tracks on this list picking picking a track from an album proved difficult, in this case Meursault’s sublime I Will Kill Again. ‘Klopfgeist’ is a hypnotic track that builds from a ghostly opening to a warm piano line and Neil Pennycook’s impressive vocals. It’s a shiver inducing track when heard by itself, but do yourself a favour and listen to it as part of the bigger picture.

47. Reverieme (Louise Connell) – ‘Ten Feet Tall’

As soon as the opening drum fill kicks the track into life, ‘Ten Feet Tall’ sounds as massive as it’s title would suggest. It wouldn’t sound out of place on Ryan Adams’ earlier work, with thunderous guitars crashing over a piercing organ wail as Reverieme’s, aka Louise Connell, gorgeous vocal flutters between tender beauty, and soaring grandiosity.

46. K Anderson – ‘Cluttered’

In a track that focuses on the cloudy section of relationship where you can’t quite tell if it’s something substantial or just a fling K Anderson has taken a step away from his regular material with a track that oozes pop sensibilities , while maintaining his wry witticisms. It’s an undeniably catchy affair with bassy squelch and plucky guitars that digs right in and has you tapping your feet without even knowing it.

45. Best Girl Athlete – ‘Cigarette Dreams’ [Fitlike]

It was difficult to pick a standout from Best Girl Athlete’s self titled second album, but in the end we’ve plumbed for the cinematic 90s acoustic dreamy pur your heart out along stunner  ‘Cigarette Dreams’. Katie Buchan’s soulful voice is hear accompanied by sweeping strings to give as good a taste as any of this fantastic release.

44. Bystandereffect – ‘Old Cramps T Shirt’

Bystandereffect is, if nothing else, unique, and ‘Old Cramps T Shirt’ is a haunting, bizarre, dream-like experimental single. Filled with unusual production techniques and effects, this single is rhythmic, versatile and enjoyable, whetting the appetite for any releases suggesting the “electronic sludge” outfit – as they refer to themselves as – has a lot of ammunition. Not showy or contrived but loose and airy, as creepy vocal work cascades over the unusual electronic elements nicely, generating something seldom heard.

43. Pictish Trail – ‘Strange Sun’ [Lost Map]

‘Strange Sun’ is almost objectively original; in terms of lyrics, atmosphere, theme and the use of instruments, this is a mature and out of the ordinary effort. A dreamy, creeping and sprawling piece, this is a bold single that wanders lovingly through decades of influence; packaging together something simultaneously light and dark, jovial and serious. This is the basis for art and – love it or hate it or something in-between it – should be respected in the music industry.

42. Sun Rose – ‘Smirk’ [Last Night From Glasgow]

Sun Rose emerged out of the ashes of Nevada Base this year with debut single ‘Smirk’, a rejuvenation of 80s synth with a nice Glaswegian twist. The track is so characteristic of 80s electronic synth its like a flashback, a friendly nostalgia that brings on inadvertent toe tapping and head nodding; it’s difficult to stay still when you hear this one play. At first ‘Smirk’ appears deceivingly simple, but in fact offers a much more interesting and complex weave of musicality; a spectacle to behold.

41. Jonnie Common – ‘Restless’ [Song, by Toad]

Questioning, dissatisfaction with the milieu and poking at working life are all themes of this single from Jonnie Common. A master of word play and poetic prowess, Common meanders through ideas about the world and dreams of what could be; it’s a light-hearted soundtrack formed around some deep ideas. The track starts like a laidback stroll on a Sunday afternoon, the soft drum brushes paint a calmness that juxtaposes the ‘Restless’ sentiment of the tune itself. Arpeggiated chords frame sweet melodies that feature electronic blips, this neat addition makes everything that little bit more playful.

Jonnie Common – ‘Restless’ [Song, by Toad]

Questioning, dissatisfaction with the milieu and poking at working life are all themes of this single from Jonnie Common.

A master of word play and poetic prowess, Common meanders through ideas about the world and dreams of what could be; it’s a light-hearted soundtrack formed around some deep ideas.

The track starts like a laidback stroll on a Sunday afternoon, the soft drum brushes paint a calmness that juxtaposes the ‘Restless’ sentiment of the tune itself.

Arpeggiated chords frame sweet melodies that feature electronic blips, this neat addition makes everything that little bit more playful.

On the B-side, the C Duncan remix is equally enchanting, Common chose C Duncan as it was at one of his shows he first played the track live.

The rap-esque features shine in the backdrop of mellow brass melodies and at the end, in acapella form, the lyrics are emboldened by the surrounding silence.

‘Restless’ is an insight on the many good things that might come from Jonnie Common.

Words: Rachel Cunningham

BBC Radio 6 Music Festival Fringe Song, By Toad Showcase with Meursault, Jonnie Common, Siobhan Wilson at The Glad Cafe, 23/3/17

Song, By Toad’s showcase at The Glad Cafe features three of the label’s roster performing a Fringe show of the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival.

Opening the night, the sound of Siobhan Wilson’s soft, soulful voice gets things off the ground.

She plays with a unique deftness, her electric guitar’s clear, low tone works with delicate melodies sung in an often oscillating and breathy style, sounding something like a mixture of Françoise Hardy and Anaïs Mitchell.

The set finishes and I’m wishing she’d keep playing, Wilson’s recently started to work more with Song, By Toad and has an album coming out that we’re looking forward to hearing.

The second set of the night finds Jonnie Common in spirited form; he’s a humorous and talented man with an array of intricate samples at his fingertips and feet.

He plays guitar and is joined by a friend arriving in a sweat to accompany him on flugelhorn, at intervals throughout the set, he tunes his guitar while the sound of an orchestra is played through the speakers, and apologises for this, blaming Kurt Cobain for the amount of tuning needed on a Jagstang.

There’s an understated version of the song ‘Shark’ played at the end of the set that includes a sound bite of Lauren Laverne doing the “it’s a secret” line, which goes down quite well.

While there’s a lot of humour, in his lyrics and in the dynamics of the music, Common’s a sharp writer and skilful musician for sure.

Meursault is something else; they begin with feedback screeching through the room before curtailing into the set.

Neil Pennycook’s idiosyncratic reckless abandon is something that makes you feel like you have no idea what will happen next, the climatic end of ‘By Gaslight’ sees Pennycook’s guitar on the floor while he careers up and down the fret board with his foot, singing the repetitive final lines of the song in a mantra-like frenzy before saying something like “sorry, seemed to lose myself a bit” once the music quietens.

The set is mostly made from songs from their 2016 EP Simple Is Good and new album I Will Kill Again, though an amazing rendition of ‘Flittin’ from 2012’s Something for the Weakened makes its way in there.

When they play ‘Simple Is Good’ it’s like a moment of calm in the storm, a few times Pennycook signals to the sound guy to completely cut the sound so as to perform acoustically, as the band make use of the upright piano that sits just off the stage.

At one point Pennycook is lying across piano and accordion player Reuben Taylor, bending over backwards and singing his heart out, later on, he’s handed his guitar to a crowd member and gone over to sing into the inside of the piano.

The whole set is fuelled with uninhibited and compelling music and just before the band start their encore, the bass player quips that the show could do with some more passion, which draws a laugh from the crowd.

They play us out with Neil Young and Crazy Horse-esque looseness and I’m still buzzing on the bus home.

Words: Jason Riddell
Photos: Kendall Wilson

Electric Fields, 29/8/15

The journey down to Electric Fields begins post 9am and a ‘Happy Bus’ from Buchanan Bus Station; how anyone can muster up the energy to be “happy” at this time in the morning is beyond me and the atmosphere on the bus is as you’d expect from bed missing music lovers with not to many getting mad for it from the off.

Arriving a good portion of time before the gates are officially opened, even after a lengthy toilet stop, you can’t help but feeling an extra hour in bed could have happened and with the promise of showers and the potential of thunder and lightning forecast it’s going to take that first beer to get things into gear.

Once in the queue things start to spark up, as the guys on the gates seem full of optimism and banter and waste no time jumping up the line to check bags in advance, speeding up entry.

Once we’re in a look at the fact that tokens that need to be purchased separately to exchange for drinks brings back horrific memories of queuing all day; but a cheeky six tokens for £20 offer, the beer being Innes & Gunn by the (cold) can and not the usual warm watered down piss you’d find at any other festival offering a similar policy, a lanyard for a sole quid and that the festival isn’t quite large enough, or it’s prepared well enough, to not have any queues of note leaves these initial quibbles at the gate.

The set up of Electric Fields is intriguing with the two main stages titled Carse Valley, a bizarre blow up effort, and The Arc sitting right next to each other in order maximise the amount of bands that can play, while the smaller To Lose La Trek uses the same music friendly set up of the larger ones in system used at a bigger scale in forward thinking international festivals like Primavera Sound.

FOREIGNFOX

I begin my day down at The Arc for Dunfermline’s brilliant FOREIGNFOX, who deliver a set full of storming indie rock with soaring hooks fronted by Jonny Watt’s distinctive Scottish twang that powers above the bold instrumentals.

Watt could be found later wandering around steaming firing a ravechild tote bag over folk’s head and other things, but more on that later; his band touch on the poppier side of post rock and the indulgent side of indie, but the crowd that have arrived on site early are won over confidently down at a side of the field that could have done with a few less tractors running over it, something I’ll learn more first hand later on (yeah I decked it!).

On the other side of the field is The Skinny Tent, and here we find the stage that boasts the best sound of the day, as the tent seems set up to perfection to host an array of loud, danceable and fun acts from Scotland and afar.

My first venture here is for Glasgow krautrock touting psycsters OUTBLINKER, who look a much more conventional band on a large stage than when they were crammed into The Hug and Pint’s tiny basement a few months ago, and it seems they take to the bigger space with ease despite its light and airy feel and green house-like qualities.

OUTBLINKER do generally need time to grow into a set and with only half an hour to play with they have to speed up this process; they do this to perfection building from swirling noise before a monster riff kicks in and they smash the possibilities wide open.

Technically this band is gobsmacking, and they’re driven by tight and emphatic rhythms from a drummer who delivers with real attention grabbing purpose.

They do enter a heavily distorted mid section that seems to build for a bit too long, but OUTBLINKER are still maybe a bit short on material, give then time and this could be one of the best live experiences you’ll get.

Randolphs Leap

Back over at The Arc we get our twee dose of the day (sorry guys), and the sun is out as Randolph’s Leap produce a set of infectious, brass enthused indie pop joy.

It’s endearing, uplifting stuff full of charming rhymes that really shouldn’t work; it’s the ideal sound to take a seat and relax to, shame the floor’s too wet.

Early afternoon and those promised showers seem an age away, and as singer Adam Ross expresses his regret for wearing a jacket someone for the audience shouts “take it off”, to which he obliges as the brass section provide obligatory strip tease music and the quip of the day comes in the form of “look out ladies he’s down to his woolly jumper”.

Pronto Mama

The big clash of the day comes at 2pm as enchanting indie rockers Catholic Action take to The Skinny Tent at the same time as the pop filled fun of Pronto Mama take to the inflatable Carse Valley stage; I go for the later due to the sunshine and an impatience waiting for The Skinny tent to get set up and I’m not let down as I’m met with a live sound that is just as engrossing as their records.

Pronto Mama’s sound is full of soul and comes with an enabling touch of brass and plenty of cheeky funk that sets a grove while withstanding becoming cheesy.

Pronto Mama impressively walk a slippery path with a sound that could so easily fall into the pitfalls of becoming like so many bland Scottish folk acts or go the other way turn into unabashed naff ska, instead they come out with something truly infectious and original in the early afternoon sun.

Their set is warm and engaging and as Hector Bizerk’s Louie stresses to me “they’re the most underrated band in Scotland,” I’m inclined to agree.

The Van Ts

A late addition to the line up in replacement for the ill KLOE, The Van T’s get the opportunity to thrive in the sunshine and thrive they do; their set is full of pure good times surf enthused garage rock that oozes rock’n’roll energy in a truly infectious manner.

The Thompson twin’s harmonies sparkle in the open air and there’s no denying they look cool as anyone on today’s bill; a more than adequate replacement for KLOE’s soaring pop.

Fat Goth

As The Van T’s finish you can hear the sheer power of Fat Goth from across the field as they take to The Skinny Tent and once I arrive in the tent they capture me instantly with their sneery, distressed and devastatingly loud performance.

It’s impressive stuff from the Dundee trio who produce a frantic display that acts as welcome escape from the sunshine soaked pop vibes outside.

They tear through classic metal sounding riffs with pounding rhythms and an addictive quality that is difficult to match.

Another blinding set from one of the best named bands in Scotland; throw in a bottle of Buckie and some incredible drummer faces and you’ve got one of the most emphatic sets of the day.

United Fruit

Following Fat Goth at The Skinny Tent isn’t an enviable task, but United Fruit are more than equipped to do so and release another ball of fury into the immaculate sounding tent.

United Fruit unleash another powerful set that has become typical of their intense live show; on record Iskandar Stewart’s occasionally touch on whiney, but live they’re strong, sneered chants that drive impressively over a pulverising instrumental assault.

Following them, on the same stage, I get to cover Happy Meals for the second time in just over a week and the duo produce a set that blows away their understated late afternoon appearance at Doune the Rabbit Hole the week before.

Shrouded in smoke they produce an indulgent set of lush organic synths that cruise beautifully into a tent that’s just starting to get its feet moving.

Towards the end of the set Suzi Rodden jumps into the crowd and prances about while partaking in some crazed dancing, all while delivering her endlessly adorable French vocals, while Lewis Cook adds the synths from the stage, creating a tent filling brilliance.

It’s pure indulgent fun from a band that seem to be pulling it all out the bag, except the compulsory toy you get with their namesake of course.

Indeed, the one let down of the festival is you struggle to find anything better than a Happy Meal to eat; the four vans only seem to cater for mediocre fast foods and veggie options which don’t expand much further than toasties, but still this is a festival in its infancy, the good food will come; next year please!

Miaoux Miaoux

Bumping into a few folk I only manage to catch Miaoux Miaoux from afar, still their infectious synth tones and stick in your head vocal hooks seem to spark through the festival site contagiously and start the evening portion of the festival with a dance as the potential for beer weariness rears its ugly head.

The Twilight Sad

Over at The Skinny Tent and it’s the turn of the secret guests, who the festival had revealed to anyone who had guessed from a rather creative image as The Twilight Sad earlier in the week.

In fact it’s just James and Andy producing a stripped back set, which on paper should showcase the raw emotion that comes across in James Graham’s powerful delivery; sadly although captivating in moments, it doesn’t quite hold the same effect without a blasting wall of sound behind it.

Still, for some ultra fans, including FOREIGNFOX’s Jonny Watt who exclaims he would “suck everyone of their dicks”, the set goes down a storm and there’s a humour rarely seen on stage from Graham stating “I wish Erasure were playing, it’d be much better than this miserable shit,” while exchanging chat with the crowd.

Over at Carse Valley Golden Teacher suffer an out of place set in early evening daylight; last week at Doune they set the place alight in the early hours of the morning, but playing a more restrained set at a more restrained hour doesn’t seem to suit them.

Although musically they are solid as ever, with on touch disco tingling beats, plenty of experimental flourishes and quirky dance moves that keep things interesting, it never really lifts beyond that; if this is your first experience of GT live don’t take it by the book, go check them out when they hit their stride best; in a post midnight slot when everyone has their dancing shoes on.

PAWS

Following the festival I had a slight misunderstanding with PAWS regarding a word being taken out of context, still that was quickly ironed out and their set begins over at The Arc with drummer, Josh’s stool breaking and what appears to be some jovial chat about it.

I later learn this to be more dangerous than I’d imaged and in hindsight it seems to take some of the drive out of a band that is usually a formidable live prospect, regardless they deliver the same infectious pop punk glory as ever, but seem to take a while to settle, while the sound being a touch quieter than you’d expect and the rather static audience do them no favours.

PAWS are best enjoyed at full pace and full volume, with that full on urgency that the trio have come to embody and install in their crowds; still, regardless of any grievances the set is still plenty of fun and a great way to spend the remainder of the disappearing daylight.

Hector Bizerk1

Back over at Carse Valley it’s the turn of potentially the most exciting act on the bill; Hector Bizerk start on a somewhat sombre tone, not that that’s a bad thing, still it’s one of those calm before storm things as before long, Louie, hood up and unphased, blasts into an all out lyrical assault.

This is a band at the top of their game, as Louie takes the crowd under his command and the band plough forward with precision and impressive zeal.

There’s another airing of their ‘Song 2’ cover, which Louie adds a touch of freestyle brilliance to before tracks like ‘Rust Cohle’ and ‘Columbus’ blow everything out the water; extraordinary stuff that only seems to be getting better.

Hearing The Xcerts from afar is more than enough, but thankfully Jonnie Common is taking the stage just over at the smaller To Lose La Trek, a stage I have wandered over to a couple of times, but have not had the chance to see a full set at due to distractions elsewhere.

Common is a far fly away from the painful sound at the main stage, and delivers a brilliantly cheeky performance in his own addictive sort of way.

His set is full of dry humour, clever synths and plenty of ‘give a fuck’ attitude and the healthy crowd seem to give his set that extra kick.

Common’s CARBS bandmate Jamie, aka MC ALMOND MILK, joins him for a few songs later on, showcasing some of his solo material in Common produced ‘How2B Cool in 2014’ as well as CARBS standout ‘Stick A Flake In Me (I’m Done)’, and it’s more addictive stuff, in a very geeky Scottish sort of way; this could be the most fun set of the day.

The Phantom Band

Back over at Carse Valley and The Phantom Band produce a barnstorming performance full of shiver inducing builds and Rick Anthony’s deep, velvety delivery; I’ve jokingly labelled these guys The Phantom Bland before now, but on this showing that label can go in the bin, The Phantom Grand it is then!

King Creosote

The beers have kicked and the long day is taking effect by the time headliner King Creosote takes to The Arc stage, but the singer seems to be in joyous spirits delivering a set choked with a warming beauty that emulates most of his back catalogue and more specifically last year’s standalone From Scotland With Love LP.

There’s no doubting he’s the stand out name on a bill crammed with emerging Scottish talent, the line up is nearly all Scottish barring a few exceptions in The Skinny Tent, but maybe seeing him in the sobering daylight might have been a more uplifting experience, but for those with more stamina, or maybe more time in their bed, than myself this should feel like the perfect end to one of Scotland’s most exciting upcoming festivals.

More Photos

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163992623″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

Album of 2014

Andrew Person & Lovers Turn To Monsters – Everything We Miss17 Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters – Everything We Miss [Common]

A combination of two endearing singer-songwriters, brought together under the umbrella of Common Records in the dismal Glaswegian rain, resulting in an equally endearing collection of tracks. Taking a song each throughout the track listing, the single ‘Juan Antonio’ is a standout track in an octet of tracks that will coax out a tear if you let them. (Kyle McCormick)

[review]

Fat-Suit – Jugaad17 Fat-Suit – Jugaad [Equinox]

With a 15 strong collective of highly trained musicians, in the later part of 2014 Fat-Suit released an instrumental album of innumerable sounds and styles all expertly welded together. Tight grooves splashed with influences from traditional Scottish music and a heavy emphasis on jazz and experimenting ensures that Jugaad is a big, unique flag planted firmly in a Scottish music scene which is very lucky to have Fat-Suit in its midst. (Greg Murray)

[review]

National Jazz Trio of Scotland – Standards Volume III17 National Jazz Trio of Scotland – Standards: Volume III [Karoke Kalk]

Bill Wells has made his name by his collaborations and his experimentations, which often take him to pry the envelope of pop music to great result, at first, Standards: Volume III could appear to be a glossy but unwavering pop album, but upon repeated listens this record is a richly endearing effort for fans and casual listeners alike.

[review]

The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads17 The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads [Domino]

Amphetamine Ballads does take some warming to, but after a number of listens and a full appreciation of its delightfully refined latter half, this album is undoubtedly one to be treasured if it appeals to your sense of artistry.

[review]

Withered Hand – New Gods15 Withered Hand – New Gods [Fortuna Pop]

New Gods might at first fool you as sounding like inoffensive dentist-waiting-room shmooth-fm folk-pop; clean but still sensibly naturalistic production, tons of hooks, catchy choruses, acoustic guitars and simple song structures; yet lurking in the lyrics there’s an extremity of emotional tension that swings between stark ugly introspection on one hand and manic optimism on the other.

[review]

Andrew Montgomery – Ruled By Dreams15 Andrew Montgomery – Ruled By Dreams

Former Geneva vocalist Andrew Montgomery went solo with Ruled By Dreams, and has successfully created an album that showcases his writing strengths, both musically and lyrically.

[review]

Thin Privilege - Thin Privilege12 Thin Privilege – Thin Privilege [Struggletown]

For me, Thin Privilege is the band of 2014. With their intense live show alienating crowds’ left, right and centre, I had very high hopes for this record and was not disappointed. This noisy, duel bass assault of an album really grasps the energy of what this very short-lived band was. (Iain Gillon)

[review]

Jonnie Common – Trapped In Amber12 Jonnie Common – Trapped In Amber [Song, by Toad]

Bizarre in all the right places, in all the right ways, Trapped In Amber is perhaps best described as “bizarre pop” as a direct consequence. Pleasingly simple soundscapes provide the backdrop to lyrics that span the board from drama to comedy, with hints of balladry (‘Fractal’), hip-hop (‘Crumbs’) and amazement (‘Binary 101’) all contributing to a record of abundant imagination. (Kyle McCormick)

[review]

Young Fathers – Dead12 Young Fathers – Dead [Anticon/Big Dada]

2014 was Young Fathers’ year, taking home award after award with critical acclaim following them at every turn. Dead was the centre piece of it all, an intoxicating multicultural record that took elements of hip-hop, electronica and pop and put Scottish music firmly back on the musical map.

Rustie – Green Language11 Rustie – Green Language [Warp]

Rustie deserves every single bit of credit that comes his way, while fellow Glaswegian label mate Hudson Mohawke jets off with the glamorous names, Rustie has stuck to his guns and make a record that feels like natural progression. Green Language has all of Rustie’s punch and some very special moments, still we can’t help feel his best is yet to come and we can’t wait.

Beerjacket – Darling Darkness10 Beerjacket – Darling Darkness

Darling Darkness makes for a relaxing listen, but there’s more to it. There’s a depth and texture that goes beyond your ordinary singer songwriter. To mark 10 years of Beerjacket, Peter Kelly has released a beautiful, cosy, folk masterpiece. (Alisa Wylie)

The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave8 The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave [FatCat]

One of the years later releases but well worth the wait, aside from their debut it could be their best yet. The production values like always are superb and the songs reek of melancholic angst and pain just what you’d expect from Scotland’s gloomiest export. The album deserves all the praise it gets. (Phil Allen)

[review]

Mogwai – Rave Tapes8 Mogwai – Rave Tapes [Rock Action]

A lush set of songs that breathe a warm melancholia; flourishes of ambient and electro sounds underpinned by one of the great guitar arsenals in all of music. (Brendan Sloan)

[review]

Stanley Odd – A Thing Brand New7 Stanley Odd – A Thing Brand New [A Modern Way]

The Edinburgh sextet’s third album sees them at their creative best, with their usual concoctions of politics, pop culture and poetry shifted into the next razor sharp gear. Tackling issues of parenthood and imperialism, likely catalysed by recent arrivals and national political awakenings, among other things, A Thing Brand New is thought-provoking and head-nodding perfection. (Kyle McCormick)

[review]

Fatherson – I Am An Island6 Fatherson – I Am An Island [A Modern Way]

Incredible, conceptual debut from a band that looks set to take off in a big way in 2015. Sounds absolutely massive. (Alisa Wylie)

[review]

PAWS – Youth Culture Forever4 PAWS – Youth Culture Forever [FatCat]

Youth Culture Forever might be the perfect follow up to Cokefloat! It takes its predecessors themes and then follows up on them, while also covering some new ground; plus the production is a serious step up and it shows. (Phil Allen)

[review]

Deathcats – All Hail Deathcats4 Deathcats– All Hail Deathcats [Fuzzkill]

I never thought Deathcats would get a full LP release, 2014 truly was a brilliant year for Scottish music. From the get go Deathcats display a penchant for crafting some of the most infuriatingly brilliant melodies in recent memory. Aside from this it’s great to see the band really test their limits and put some of their live show into the record with the great linking sections between songs. (Phil Allen)

[review]

Algernon Doll – Omphalic3 Algernon Doll – Omphalic [Struggletown]

Emo/alt-rock is a genre I that I don’t often indulge in anymore but every so often something pops up which shakes me from that angsty slumber and reminds me that it’s still possible to create original and awesome sounding music in that style. Ewan Grant’s Algernon Doll and their album Omphalic is the perfect example of this, and legendary producer Steve Albini will no doubt help them carry their momentum into next year, with their fourth release in as many years. (Greg Murray)

[review]

King Creosote – From Scotland With Love2 King Creosote – From Scotland With Love [Domino]

A stirring celebration of Scottish pride and resolve; a profoundly evocative album, which handles its subject matter with gentle reverence. This record is nothing less than a masterpiece, and its release saw it receive the critical acclaim that it rightly deserves. The album provided an evocative accompaniment to Virginia Heath’s documentary of the same title, although despite its status as a soundtrack, it is a piece of art in its own right (Brendan Sloan/Ellen Renton)

[review]

Honeyblood – Honeyblood1 Honeyblood – Honeyblood [FatCat]

Glaswegian duo Honeyblood’s self-titled debut unleashes a wave of emotionally aggressive lyrics mixed with sweet melodies and harmonies reminiscent 90s grunge and fitting to their name. The band’s stripped back and minimal setup is compelling, allowing vocalist Stina Tweeddale to showcase her enchanting voice. (Jess Lavin)

[review]

Tracks of 2014

Atom Tree – ‘Sinner’19 Atom Tree – ‘Sinner’ [Hotgem]

The opening track of the Glasgow electronic trio’s latest EP, Clouds, introduced us to vocalist Julie Knox, who’s powerful and emotive voice slides brilliantly into Atom Tree’s deep synthpop, alerting people the trio on a much bigger scale than before, and rightfully so.

Call To Mind – ‘Breathe’19 Call To Mind – ‘Breathe’ [Olive Grove]

Beautiful and euphoric, Call To Mind’s musical masterpiece is the crowning jewel of their debut album, and with accenting piano and sultry vocals, it is everything that Coldplay think they are, but infinitely better. (Kyle McCormick)

The Duke, Detriot – ‘Accerate’19 The Duke, Detroit – ‘Accelerate’ [Deaf By Stereo]

The Duke, Detroit’s sleek and stylish single threw us, spinning and stumbling back in time to the mid-80s, but they managed to bring it back to life without sounding like poor mimics of the past.

[review]

Owl John__Frightened_Rabbit_Side__Project-750x018 Owl John – ‘Los Angeles, Be Kind’ [Atlantic]

Drawing from Scott Hutchison’s emigration to California, the video starts with footage of Scotland, which slowly blends into the bright, optimistic lights of L.A, and probably says more of this achingly melancholy song than a simple review could. (Greg Murray)

Hudson Mohawke – ‘Chimes’16 Hudson Mohawke – ‘Chimes’ [Warp]

HuMo keeps getting bigger and bigger and with a glorious homecoming at East End Social’s Last Big Weekend and this release on Warp it seems his momentum is still building.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/159827700″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Mogwai-Rave-Tapes-608x60816 Mogwai – ‘Remurdered’ [Rock Action]

2014 saw Glasgow’s post rock behemoths shift away their meatier riffage of recent years and move towards a chilling atmospheric vive, they’re still loud though and the asphyxiating ‘Remurdered’ is one of the best examples of their recent work.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/116512325″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Vasa – ‘Not A Cop’13 Vasa – ‘Not A Cop’

Intricate and captivating, Vasa’s stand-alone single has an unrelenting urgency at its core, but with layers of percussion and masterful guitars cleverly bolted on, ‘Not A Cop’ shines a light on a promising future. (Kyle McCormick)

[review]

The Twilight Sad – ‘Last January’13 The Twilight Sad – ‘Last January’ [FatCat]

Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave was heralded as a return to form for one of Scotland’s most powerful yet emotionally draining live acts and ‘Last January’ was the pick of bunch.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/166950606″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Jonnie Common – ‘Shark’13 Jonnie Common – ‘Shark’ [Song, By Toad]

Burning slowly, ‘Shark’ sees Jonnie Common’s songwriting at a conversational high, built on a foundation of electronics and ingenuity, the canned laughter at the end knows how good it is. (Kyle McCormick)

PAWS – ‘Owl Talons Clenching My Heart’12 PAWS – ‘Owls Talons Clenching My Heart’ [FatCat]

A prime example of PAWS expanded song writing, the cello-laced ‘Owls Talons Clenching My Heart’ pulses solidly along on to Phillip Taylor’s stories of heartache. (Greg Murray)

King Creosote – ‘Something To Believe In’10 King Creosote – ‘Something To Believe In’ [Domino]

The pinnacle of the From Scotland with Love record (no mean feat), ‘Something To Believe In’ combines true and traditional folk with honest lyrics and a painful poignancy. (Ellen Renton)

Skinny Dipper – ‘Hospital Bed’10 Skinny Dipper – ‘Hospital Bed’ [Olive Grove]

Haunting and heart breaking, ‘Hospital Bed’ might just be one of the most beautiful vocals of the year, never mind just in Scotland. (Ellen Renton)

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/162697377″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

TeenCanteen – ‘You’re Still Mine’9 TeenCanteen – ‘You’re Still Mine’ [S.W.A.L.K]

Sickly sweet vocals and throbbing synths add playful finger-clicking and loving harmonies to make TeenCanteen’s single a loveable release and introduction to the gifted quartet. (Kyle McCormick)

[review]

Owl John__Frightened_Rabbit_Side__Project-750x08 Owl John – ‘Hate Music’ [Atlantic]

‘Hate Music’ is a cathartic, slide-guitar-and-overdrive pedaled song, which Scott Hutchison claims Frightened Rabbit wouldn’t get away with, about the strains and the bitter tastes left by his revered band and the industry they operated in consistently for ten years. (Greg Murray)

John Knox Sex Club – ‘Minotaur’7 John Knox Sex Club – ‘Minotaur’ [Instinctive Racoon]

Primal and raucous, John Knox Sex Club captures everything they are infamous for in this track, with measured execution descending into enjoyable chaos. (Kyle McCormick)

Tijuana Bibles-500x3726 Tijuana Bibles – ‘Crucifixion’ [Dead Beet]

Tijuana Bibles continue to prove that few bands can write snarling rock classics as well as them. ‘Crucifixion’ has a southern rock swagger that you can’t help bob your head along to, the chorus hook is sublime and the guitar solo is a piece of melodic genius. (Phil Allen)

[review]

Tuff Love – ‘Sweet Discontent’5 Tuff Love – ‘Sweet Discontent’ [Lost Map]

This track was almost everyone’s first introduction to Tuff Love and we immediately fell for the vocal harmonies and that breakneck drumming. It’s no wonder this track garnered them a lot of attention it sounds like effortless genius in the form of a song. (Phil Allen)

Deathcats – ‘Saturday Night Golden Retriever’4 Deathcats – ‘Saturday Night Golden Retriever’ [Fuzzkill]

Sure the bassline sounds like Black Flag but what an intro. Taken from the bands only debut, and looking likely to be only, length album this cut is perhaps one of their most exciting punk throw downs, however it’s given Deathcats patented surf rock treatment with plenty of great backing vocals. (Phil Allen)

Stanley Odd – ‘Son, I Voted Yes’3 Stanley Odd – ‘Son, I Voted Yes’ [A Modern Way]

Stanley Odd’s endearing referendum anthem is made bittersweet given the eventual outcome, but its message of hope and positivity still rings true in a country forging towards a better future. (Kyle McCormick)

unknown2 APACHE DARLING – ‘More Than Me’

The comparisons to CHVRCHES must get tiresome, but one thing that APACHE DARLING does share with the band is their potential for success. ‘More Than Me’ is cool, catchy and clever, and undoubtedly one of Glasgow’s best exports of 2014. (Ellen Renton)

[review]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/150415810″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Honeyblood – ‘Killer Bangs’1 Honeyblood – ‘Killer Bangs’ [FatCat]

Sweet melodies and some of the crunchiest guitars recorded are staples of ‘Killer Bangs’. It’s hard to believe a two-piece can sound this massive even if it is a studio recording. (Phil Allen)

[review]

Jonnie Common – Trapped In Amber [Song, by Toad]

To sum up Jonnie Common’s latest album Trapped In Amber, eccentric would be the first word which springs to mind as all the unwritten musical rules of structure and consistency are broken, in a brilliant way.

Opener ‘Guesty’ is a 25-second recording of Common mixing speech with wavering vocals about the guest list, presumably to his show, an intriguing beginning that throws the listener into what is to be expected.

There are similar tracks on the album, which at first appear to be strange and unexpected, such as ‘EDC’, which features a recording of an answer machine message from a woman addressing Common about the picking up of “the hedgehogs”.

Although this sounds like a peculiar thing to place in the middle of an album, it is amusing and fits in well with the general odd impression of the album.

We are first introduced to the musical direction of the album with second track, ‘Shark’, featuring prominent tribal drumming and cymbal crashes alongside the continuous mix of talking and singing from Common, plus the distorted use of electric guitar and keyboard.

The lyrics appear to celebrate youth, which is accentuated by the freedom of the music to which they are accompanied.

Tracks such as ‘Binary’ and ‘Crumbs’ follow a similar style, as they are examples of the experimentation with various sounds that the album includes.

While the tracks previously mentioned highlight the eccentricity of the music, there are various songs which contain deeper lyrics, ‘So and So’ being an example of this, as this poignant, stripped back track is thrown amongst a mix of bizarre musical experimentation.

You are one in a million, sings Common throughout the dreamy and calm ‘Fractal’, which appears in stark contrast to what has previously been heardm, while ‘Better Man’ conveys Common’s ability to combine both these calm and experimental aspects.

This track initially presents itself as a dance track, with repeated and hypnotic bass featured from the beginning, withI bet with your help, I could be a better man repeated throughout the track, helping to enhance the dance feel within it.

However, as the track progresses, a distorted female voice appears and sends it in a completely different direction, adding a very surreal turn within it.

Although this may appear to be overwhelming, this surprising addition showcases Common’s ability to place his own stamp on what initially appears to be an archetypal dance track.

Trapped In Amber is a clear example of Common’s freedom of expression within his music, through his experimentation with many different sounds and arrangements, while also including songs that are both lyrically moving and musically fascinating.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/161317639″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=true&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Words: Orla Brady