Tag Archives: Kathryn Joseph

Stag & Dagger, 30/4/17

Perhaps the most highly anticipated annual event on Glasgow’s musical calendar, Stag & Dagger heralds in the start of the festival season and once again floods Sauchiehall Street’s venues with an array of excellent talent.

Over the years, the festival has put on up-and-coming acts in intimate venues before they have exploded, with the likes of Royal Blood and Catfish & The Bottlemen having played pre-stardom sets at the festival in recent years.

As the festival takes place over six venues and eight stages, we take on reviewing tasks as a duo in an aim to cover all of the best offerings Stag & Dagger has to offer

An early stage time at an all-day festival can be a hindrance to artists who often are subjected to empty venues as audiences try to pace themselves – not here.

As LUCIA takes the stage for her early afternoon set (14.45), the Broadcast basement is packed to the rafters, and her brand of catchy punk sets a high standard from the off.

Her raspy vocals shine on the swaggering ‘What Am I’ before ending her short and sweet set on the riotous ‘Saturday Is Dead’.

The venue stays equally as mobbed as Shredd follow her and it’s Shredd by name, shred by nature as the three-piece make an absolute racket, making noise that sounds at least twice the sum of their parts.

Their set peaks on the excellent ‘I’ll Leave It’, sounding like The Vines in their heyday.

With more venues starting to open as we draw into the later portion of the afternoon, there’s more competition to attract crowds, however absolutely no one gives up their coveted spot in Broadcast for Rascalton.

One of the most hotly-tipped acts in Scotland at the moment, they are greeted with frenzied “RAS-CAL-TON! RAS-CAL-TON!” chants as they come onstage, and they haven’t even finished their first song by the time crowd surfers appear overhead.

The four-piece sound like Terry Hall fronting The Clash and the likes of ‘Hey Hottie’ and set closer ‘This Is It’ (where they are joined by Baby Strange frontman Johnny Madden) are indie anthems in waiting.

Immediately following them next door a cacophony of noise has another packed crowd witnessing a band that certainly has us excited in Edinburgh’s Bluebirds.

Regardless of the volume, and there definitely is volume, there is a real melody to them that runs through the four-piece, while pounding rhythm’s and Daniel Telford’s snarled vocals come up front and centre giving a punk edge to their heavier end of post rock sound.

Bluebirds carry a real confidence in their presence, and with their debut single, ‘Subcultural Love’ just out they could be onto a winner with Telford’s vocals at times taking a haunting reverberated spoken word format, akin to what we’ve come to expect from Dale Barclay in both Amazing Snakeheads and more recently in And Yet It Moves, before diving head first into powerful sections, backed by rhythms that stay clearly in place and keep their urgent tracks from tipping over the edge.

There is a massive queue outside the ABC as the excitement builds for The Vegan Leather, granted the venue isn’t quite open yet.

The band specialise in finely crafted effervescent electro-pop, and have everyone in the ABC2 dancing from the off.

In fact, the only person enjoying themselves more than the crowd, is frontman Gianluca Bernacchi, who has a smile plastered on his face throughout.

The Vegan Leather is The 1975 that it’s cool to like; fun, smart and accessible, their set is just one big party, and this is them just getting started – they play a midnight set at Broadcast later this evening.

It is then up the hill to the Vic Bar at The Art School for Roxy Agogo.

Fresh from being on lead guitar duties for LUCIA earlier this afternoon, Agogo and his two-piece backing band, featuring Christopher Ballantyne of The Lapelles, immerse themselves into their set of avant-garde performance art.

Agogo wishes the packed crowd luck early on, and his indulgent set is often a difficult listen; he does manage to sound refreshingly original as a result though.

‘When You Dress Up’ is a sleazy romp, before the immense ‘Crocod!les’ shocks everyone into submission as Agogo shrieks “I NEED SOME ATTENTION!” with the urgency of a man demanding his audience’s full undivided focus.

Meanwhile back down at Broadcast Berlin duo, touring as four-piece, Gurr become one of the highlights of the festival with a sparky dose of 60s girl group wonder that comes with a heavy dose of the 90s thrown in.

The fronting duo, Andreya and Laura Lee, are dripping with an addictive attitude as they tear through fast paced numbers even throwing in a chorus of ‘Hollaback Girl’ before launching into another charmer.

Gurr are fast, fun and completely endearing, the duo give a real engaging presence complete with welcoming smiles, cemented at the moment they request the crowd move forward and the crowd take the cue without a beat of hesitation.

Their surf tinged pop is just the dose for the early evening, as we start to move into regular gig times, and even if some mid song banter seems to get a little lost, the girl’s likeability wins through and we’re left with a truly rewarding set.

After making the dash up the hill to The Art School only to find that Shogun’s set has been canceled, there isn’t a better alternative than Artificial Pleasure down in The Priory’s dark, dingy basement.

If The Vegan Leather are The 1975 it’s cool to like, then Artificial Pleasure could become what The 1975 wish they were; their groove laden electro-artpop, complete with Phil McDonnell’s warbling falsetto are much grander than the setting forgives, indeed the frontman challenges people to dance with “if you dare”, in the tightly packed space.

Their sound packs all the indie dancefloor filling vibes you could wish for and McDonnell’s heavily accented banter is engaging in its crowd praising, which results in heckles of “fuck Newcastle” echoing around the venue.

Gang Of Youths are one of the surprise of the day; playing their brand of anthemic indie-rock, the Australian’s absolutely smash it.

They use their time onstage as a platform for some politically inspired rants, with frontman David Le’aupepe preaching “if you’re scared, I’m scared too”.

There’s a feeling of unanimous uplift in the atmosphere, also in the literal sense as Le’aupepe dives into the crowd and lifts people in the air as they end on single ‘Magnolia’, and the cacophonous ‘Vital Signs’.

The floorspace isn’t heaving by the time Marnie takes the stage in The Art School’s Assembly Room space, but it should be as the Ladytron singer’s set is shimmering in all the right ways; on point drumming from Jonny Scott, ethereal synths courtesy of Sarah J Stanley aka HQFU, and those dream glossed vocals that allow everything to soar in this space.

Marnie’s second solo outing, Strange Words and Weird Wars, is due very soon and given the chance to breathe there’s no reason why this collection of up-tempo dream pop won’t be as successful as her full band’s material; Marnie and her sound is effortlessly cool feeling in this space and leave those that have made it up the hill in a tranced daze.

Back at Broadcast and we have a distinctly less upbeat vibe from London trio Girl Ray, still Poppy Hankin’s distinctive Nico tinged vocals and the band’s lo-fi pop sound is a real warmer, possessing a timeless feel that’s hard to achieve.

Their sound draws a lot from the heartbreak hits of C86 indie pop; the twinkling keys, bouncy rhythmns and high lovelorn vocal passages, however it is when the slightly accented vocals dip into Hankin’s enriched deeper range that lift them beyond just an indie pop band to something a bit special.

A jump next door and Calva Louise start their set to a sadly sparse crowd, but the London based trio, who hail from Venezuela, France and New Zealand, and only have one track available online to date do not let this phase them, blasting though high octane garage rock riffs, crashing cymbals and squealing guitars that keep anyone that does wanders in firmly staying there.

Frontwoman Jess Allanic’s manic facial expressions almost match her vocal delivery and her on point surfy guitar shredding is seriously impressive, there’s plenty of reasons why Calva Louise have been hotly tipped for 2017 and it’s plain to see from their set today.

Calva Louise presented the one big clash of the festival with them taking the stage the same time as 2015 SAY Award winner Kathryn Joseph, lucky there’s two of us ay?

There are very few singer-songwriters on this year’s bill, and Joseph’s diversity to the rest of the lineup and clashes with some of the festival’s bigger names means that the CCA is barely half full, however this just adds to the beauty and intimacy that makes the Aberdonian so great.

Joseph is still surprised at how many people have turned up, and she can’t contain her excitement at playing a Wurlitzer piano for the first time live.

The natural reverb from her instrument adds depth to the likes of a hauntingly beautiful rendition of ‘The Bird’ and stark ‘The Blood’.

The venue is deathly silent throughout her performance, people scared to even take a breath so as not to interrupt the ambience, emanating from the songstress’ gazely stare.

Kathryn Joseph is easily one of the highlights of the festival, and to be lucky enough to witness her perform in such an intimate setting is a privilege.

Talking of highlights, up in the Vic Let’s Eat Grandma are about to take the stage, and the incredibly young duo, who met aged four, started making music together at 13 and now, just four years later are on a mission to transform pop music, sure create a sound that simmers the room to a hush.

Whether the crowd don’t know quite what to make of the girls or are just dumbstruck by the talent on show is debatable, however one thing is for sure, Let’s Eat Grandma produce music that is way beyond their years as delicate and haunting ethereal electronics, match with subtle guitars and laptop beats allowing the girl’s vocals to shimmer.

Bizarrely both girls disappear off stage after the first song, but after sorting/locating what they needed they return with a xylophone opened track that is linked up with sharp keyboard chords, giving way to a pounding beat, cue dancing as the teenagers set a real swagger before breaking out a ukulele and then a clarinet, neither of which break the vibe of the track instead creating an interesting instrumental dynamic to the duo’s set.

Still, as much as their multi-instrumental forays work and are impressive, it’s in their more straight forward moments that this duo shine most, that said when they introduce a saxophone you can’t help be impressed again, however in moments when it’s just them with a beat, keys and dual vocals that come across as the most impressive.

There’s something wonderfully eclectic about these girl’s, they’ve been accused of being too dead-pan in their delivery and indeed they don’t utter a word to the audience until the very end of the set, but things like starting songs laid flat on their backs, engaging in handclapping routines mid track and posing in sitting positions simply staring at the audience come across more as an interesting curio that standoffish.

You do get the impression it would come across as annoying if the music doesn’t work, but it does, and if these girls can harness the special talents they have at the tender age of 17 there could be very, very big things to come.

Entering the mix upstairs one of the festival’s big hitters has already started his set, still probably three hours earlier than would be prime for a Gold Panda set, yet he already has the room drenched in powerful beats as he bobs away seemingly entranced by the creation of his intricate sound.

Club atmosphere’s can’t really be expected pre-11pm but this is as close as we’re going to get here and Gold Panda doesn’t let the illusion go as soaring electronics are enhanced by bleeps and beats that get every part of you moving, while engaging visuals keep a focal point behind, his hunched busy presence.

In terms of music this year’s Stag & Dagger is another success, with Scottish music lovers being spoiled with a plethora of excellent sets over the course of the twelve-hour extravaganza; the countdown has already begun to Stag & Dagger 2018.

More Photos

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/274235630″ 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: Graham McCusker/Iain Dawson
Photos: Allan Lewis/Stewart Fullerton

Kathryn Joseph – ‘the blood / the coming’ [Hits The Fan]

When listening to a Kathryn Joseph record, the world slows down; time gives way to an ethereal pause, filled so graciously by Joseph’s gossamer trills, the slow, sad shimmers of piano.

After the critical success of her 2015 debut, bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled, this single release (along with a new batch of special edition vinyl) is a real treat, offering a perfect slice of Joseph’s distinctive talent.

There is a vulnerability to the way Joseph spins the fine filaments of her voice around gradually accumulating piano notes, her lyrics painting a shadowy membrane (“like a light out in the dark / darker hold of darker parts”) which gives way to raw honesty.

While Joseph’s voice is often, and quite rightly, compared to Joanna Newsom’s, her wispy style of articulation is less brightly melodic, and instead works more softly through the offering of images (“grow / a baby / in her”) – sometimes clear, sometimes nebulous – which accumulate and fade like the leaves she describes in ‘the coming’.

At times, the pureness of Joseph’s voice becomes a Björk-like crooning instrument, playing through a haunting layer of echoes which flesh out the songs with ghostly encounters: minor chords rippling over suspended notes and quietly shivering snares, which add a tinge of dramatic impact but never at the expense of delicacy.

There’s a certain claustrophobia to ‘the blood’ and ‘the coming’; while they subtly build and reach a certain emotional pitch, they refuse to reach the sort of sonorous expression which would give full release to the subject matter.

Instead, fittingly, the songs seem always imminently on the point of both climax and silence, the wavering, faint vibrato of Joseph’s voice on ‘the coming’ leads us through a series of pauses which draw us closer into her intimate world, but never offer a point of epiphany, where we might seek freedom from the heartbreaking intensity.

Each track fades gradually, like ink flowering across a plane of water; never quite reaching closure but rather faltering out as if unfinished, suggesting something of the sense of openness, of something still to come, a future light in the dark.

Here’s hoping it’s another record for 2017.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220724436″ 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: Maria Sledmere

Albums of 2015 (20-11)

20-11  –  10-1  –  Tracks & EPs

20 December ’91 - Quebec20 December ’91 – Quebec [Gold Mold]

Probably the only album to make this year’s lists recorded on a mobile phone, Quebec showcases both December ’91’s musicianship and originality. Raw, simple but excellently put together December 91’s music clearly serves as an outlet for his emotions as it touches on a number of personal matters, which are delivered in an equally heartfelt manner. (Jess Lavin)

19 Antique Pony - unalbum19 Antique Pony – unalbum

Completely unique and utterly, strangely, bewitchingly triumphant; unalbum features vocoders, discordant melodies, funk, surf guitar, jarring and angular riffs… and yet it all flows. They may as well be called Unique Pony because there’s bugger all else out there quite like this, not capable of producing such a cohesive blend from wildly divergent ingredients anyway.

18 Idlewild - Everything Ever Written18 Idlewild – Everything Ever Written [Empty Words]

Everything Ever Written encapsulates Idlewild in 2015, the Fugazi fuelled alt rock angst of 100 Broken Windows may be missing, but it more than makes up for it in melodic depth. A surprising, poetic, folk tinged collection of songs that are so well rounded it’s hard to pick a favourite. Idlewild have matured at the same rate as their fans and this record satisfies the huge Scottish rock/pop void left since Readers & Writers. (Andy McGonigle)

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/185112505″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

17 Admiral Fallow - Tiny Rewards17 Admiral Fallow – Tiny Rewards [Nettwerk]

Admiral Fallow’s third album Tiny Rewards, is quite simply brilliant. Released three years after their second album, this new collection of songs unravels a band that has come of age. Tiny Rewards is an epiphanic record that fills you with joy; it is also tender, contemplative and intelligent. (Tina Koenig)

16 Lovers Turn To Monsters - Hard To Be Around16 Lovers Turn To Monsters – Hard To Be Around

Fresh and eccentric, delicate and intimate, Hard To Be Around works as a sneak peek into Kyle Wood’s psyche. The album is an obscure trip down the singer’s brightest and darkest sides, mystically keeping you on the edge of your seat after every track. An absolute delight if your mainstream conscious is switched off; a rare piece of raw music, which will provoke emotions in whoever dares to listen.

15 Pinact - Stand Still and Rot15 Pinact – Stand Still and Rot [Kanine]

With their debut LP Pinact have produced a piece of work that fully realises their significant talents. Stand Still and Rot is full of bluster and grace, exploring notions of uncertainty, joy and boredom, spiked with corrosive volume and sweetened with heartening melodies. The album is full of instantly likeable and catchy moments, loads of classy touches and tons more, including more hooks and big choruses than you can shake a stick at.

14 Young Fathers - White Men Are Black Men Too14 Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too [Big Dada]

After winning the Mercury Prize for their 2014 album Dead, Young Fathers immediately travelled to Berlin to finish recording its follow up: White Men Are Black Men Too. The difference in the two albums is night and day. Whilst Dead was polished and gleamed with pop sensibility, WMABMT features lo-fi, raw production that makes use of rattling drum machines and scratchy, hollering vocals. Young Fathers may be the most innovative music group in Scotland, and go about it in a damn cool way. (Greg Murray)

13 Apostille - Powerless13 Apostille – Powerless [Night School]

Powerless. Horrible. Dark. Depressing. Makes you want to kill yourself, but that is the point. Everything is fucked so why not listen to this as you stare at the clock, waiting for it to end… (Paul Choi)

12 Rustie - EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE12 Rustie – EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE [Warp]

It could be said that 2015 was a rough year for Russell Whyte, aka Rustie, with the producer announcing a break from live shows due to “addition and mental health problems”, however one particular high point was the release of EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE; an album that saw him head back his raw beginnings. The album saw Rustie take full creative control, and when we say full we mean FULL; everything here was done by Rustie from the beats to the production to the vocal samples! It may not be the adrenaline pumping club effort many wanted, but it is a highly detailed maximalist release that demonstrates the producer’s prowess. Hopefully he’s not off too long.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/231186412″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

11 Kathryn Joseph - Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled11 Kathryn Joseph – Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled [Hits The Fan]

Kathryn Joseph was undoubtedly one of 2015’s greatest success stories, with the release of Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I Have Spilled propelling her to the forefront of the Scottish scene. Produced with simplicity, honesty and an instantly recognisable vocal, this album served as a perfect introduction to an artist who we are most definitely going to be hearing a lot more from in times to come. (Ellen Renton)

20-11  –  10-1  –  Tracks & EPs

Tracks of 2015 (10-1)

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

10 Martha Ffion - No Applause10 Martha Ffion – No Applause [Lost Map]

Offering a sweeter take on 60s rock Martha Ffion has managed to grab a lot of attention this year since we first caught her support Jessica Pratt in April. Blending lo-fi fuzz guitar, sleek vocals and poetic lyricism ‘No Applause’ offers the both raw edge and maturity some acts have spent years trying to perfect. From this single alone it is clear why Ffion’s originality has received so much praise during preceding months. She also filled in for Sugarhill Gang at Wickerman; quite the year. (Jess Lavin)

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207018341″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

9 Halfrican - Life Is Hard9 Halfrican – Life Is Hard [El Rancho]

Halfrican, the band that were best known for their matching shorts and mixing together fuzz, garage and 60s pop released their first official single ‘Life is Hard’ during the summer. Halfrican’s powerhouse guitar pop really packs a punch and forces the listener to give it their full attention, whereas the track’s surf-rock twang adds further depth to keep you interested. (Jess Lavin)

8 Le Thug - Basketball Land8 Le Thug – Basketball Land [Song, by Toad]

The elusive Le Thug re-emerged at the start of the year with their first formal release on Song, By Toad Records, though each of the 6 tracks on the EP is just as mesmerising as the one before, ‘Basketball Land’ is a clear standout as it really showcases Clio’s enchanting vocals, which match beautifully with the mix of pulsing drones and electronic flourishes. The track has a real dreamlike quality and is both extremely gripping and powerful without being forceful – never begging for your attention, but capable of engrossing you in its sound. (Jess Lavin)

7 The Van T’s - Growler7 The Van T’s – Growler [Bloc+]

In the summer of 2013 I caught an acoustic folk duo by the name of The Van T’s at the ABC – little did I know that by the end of 2015, they’d be amongst my favourite current Scottish bands. Nor did I realise the acoustic folk patter would be patched in favour of an incredible, raucous rock reminiscent of the likes of the Pixies and the Raveonettes. ‘Growler’ is perhaps the seminal moment of what has been a fantastic year for the Van Thompson twins – a ferocious track that perfectly purveys The Van T’s sound though its outstanding riffs and atmospheric lyrics. It’s an unstoppable force of a song that rightly deserves a place in any end-of-year list and reinforces the inarguable fact that the duo will be well worth watching in 2016 and beyond. (Jay Henderson)

6 Miaoux Miaoux - Luxury Discovery6 Miaoux Miaoux – Luxury Discovery [Chemikal Underground]

An unapologetically-catchy, impossible-not-to-dance-to electro-pop track that exists as the crowning glory of an album that will likely be reflected upon as one of Scotland’s finest of 2015. Put simply: you’d have to try really hard to not love it, and even harder to forcibly extract it from your brain. (Michael Maver)

5 WOMPS - Live A Little Less5 WOMPS – Live A Little Less [Damnably]

We have been covering the output of Ewan Grant for a long time at Rave Child, and the truly pleasant chap seems to finally be getting his deserved credit. Rising from the ashes of noisy and productive rockers, Algernon Doll, WOMPS have had an excellent first year playing shows across the globe and recording their debut single ‘Live A Little Less’ with garage production legend Steve Albini. The single has gone on to receive a vast amount of praise and it’s clear why as it perfectly mixes fuzzy, turbulent garage with meaningful lyrics and melodic harmonies. The duo seems to have found their road and is now hitting it at full pelt; expect big things from them in 2016. (Jess Lavin)

4 Kathryn Joseph - The Bird4 Kathryn Joseph – The Bird [Hits The Fan]

‘The Bird’ is a perfect example of how strong indie-folk can be – and not just in Scotland.  Kathryn Joseph is without doubt one of the diamonds among the plethora of unconvincing, pseudo-emotional acoustic-y acts that have been badly waltzing around the internet hay barn since Justin Vernon brilliantly set the pace with Bon Iver in 2008, and she does so in a way that gently reminds us all that art needn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) be a forced experience. Mixing metaphors aside, ‘The Bird’ blends familiar and melancholic piano tones with uniquely compelling rasped vocals to hugely emotional effect, and is a must listen. It helped her win a SAY award, too. (Greg Murray)

3 TeenCanteen - Sister3 TeenCanteen – Sister

TeenCanteen’s ‘Sister’ is captivating, it showcases the band’s ability to come out with a fighting spirit through an intense and driven sound. In 2015, the band also raised £3456.72 for Scottish Woman’s Aid at their ‘Girl Affect’ event, therefore it is easy to see that last year has been a successful year for the girls. They have much to be proud of from it, and ‘Sister’ can definitely be considered a highlight.

2 Best Girl Athlete - Seven Seconds2 Best Girl Athlete – Seven Seconds [Fit Like]

2015 was a pivotal year for the precociously talented Best Girl Athlete with a string of both local and far-flung gigs including a tour of North America, and the release of her album, Carve Every Word, which received an overwhelmingly positive critical response. ‘Seven Seconds’ is a highlight of the record, with its charming combination of upbeat pop, lyrics written with a twist of melancholy, and a lifted final section that catches the listener off guard. (Ellen Renton)

1 Hector Bizerk - Rust Cohle1 Hector Bizerk – Rust Cohle

In a year where Hector Bizerk were prolific as ever it was this number that shaded their almost as wonderful ‘They Made a Porno On A Mobile Phone & Everybody Laughed’ featuring Pronto Mama’s Marc Rooney. While the fanbase and the seaming mutual adoration between the two groups drove that track pretty far, it was the sheer sneery, hook of a sing-along of ‘Rust Cohle’ that made it the true standout in another successful year from Scotland’s best hip-hop act. The track named after Matthew McConaughey’s character in last year’s, equally as gripping, season of HBO drama True Detective, is darker than a lot of Hector’s previous material as an Americana guitar riff gives way to sharp synths, while Louie’s couplets are as well thought out as ever. Absolute beast of a track live too!

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

Kathryn Joseph – ‘The Bird/The Worm’

I happened to be reading a blog post by Aziz Ansari for his writer friend, Harris Wittels, who died young recently when I stuck on ‘The Bird’ by Kathryn Joseph to listen to for the first time.

It’s a piano song by a clearly very talented composer who almost certainly didn’t have the death of a little-known comedy writer in mind when she wrote it, but it shyly sidles up to the bitter side of Ansari’s sweet eulogy in quite a sad and fitting way.

My point is, like that blog post, ‘The Bird’ is completely honest in its emotion.

Not just lyrically but instrumentally (instrumentally in particular even), with trudging drums accompanying Joseph’s raspy, sometimes-indistinguishable vocals and her arresting, deep piano playing underpinning it all.

‘The Worm’ is the second part of the single and it seems to run with the concept of two halves.

Much the same but much the different, we hear the same instruments build another emotive song, which successfully connects itself to and separates itself from ‘The Bird’ in all the most perfect and subtly-un-pinpoint-able ways.

‘The Bird/The Worm’ seems to be an exercise in sincere moment capturing, and I guarantee most music-lovers would gain something positive from a couple of listens.

They both seem to end dead in their tracks, which I really hope is symbolic of something.

Words: Greg Murray

Wickerman (Friday), 24/7/15

We were told that Wickerman Festival 2015 was the year of the Phoenix, a year of transition and change.

On arrival that change doesn’t seem apparent – the festival layout is pretty much the same as it has been in years before (aside from the installation of the new ‘Phoenix’ tent).

The bars, festivities and traders are pretty much unchanged too and even the lineup does not signal a rapid departure from years past.

So far, so familiar.

The festival organisers have had a troubled year; the passing of founder and creator Jamie Gilroy, along with health concerns over his replacement – daughter Jennie Camm – have most certainly had an impact on this years festival.

Loyal revealers were asked to wear waistcoats in respect of Jamie Gilroy – the man who, over 14 years, furthered this festival into a, annual highlight of the Scottish music scene.

To kick off Friday we begin at the Acoustic Village to see ‘3000 Trees, The Death of William Macrae’ by Andy Paterson.

It’s a one-man monologue about pro-independence campaigner William Macrae and the unlikely circumstances of his death.

The extremely talented Paterson delivers a provocative and vindictive Memento Mori, portraying Macrae as a self-loathing, sexually repressed alcoholic wallowing in regret and bitterness.

The Friday was set to move up a gear with the prospective performance by expected crowd pleasers Sugarhill Gang, unfortunately due to the recent death of a band member it was announced that they would not be appearing at this year’s festival and would be replaced by Martha Ffion.

Ffion attempts to conjure the sultry gloss of 1960s pop acts such as Nancy Sinatra and in standout track ‘No Applause’, manages to invoke impressions of Angel Olsen to it, but despite all this her short set is overshadowed by the disappointment that she is, in fact, not the Sugarhill Gang.

It’s an unlikely criticism that Ffion was probably not expecting to endure pre-festival; she does, however, manage to step up to the mark and I can’t wait to see her in a more receptive setting.

Amidst the mid-afternoon optimism of the Phoenix tent, the increasingly well-established Kathryn Joseph sits in calm preparation.

Joseph, who was victorious in this year’s SAY award for Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I Have Spilled, opens with the instantly recognisable, ethereal track ‘The Bird’.

On stage she is accompanied by percussionist Marcus MacKay, and as Joseph hovers delicately across her beautiful and expansive compositions, crowds are unconsciously drawn into the aural tranquility of the large tent, and many of these present will no doubt leave converts to the fragile and reflective tones set within.

Only yards away – but musically sequestered – White take their place in the Solus tent; there is an awful lot of hype surrounding this band at the moment – and with good reason.

Comprising three past members of Kassidy along with vocalist Leo Condie and drummer Kirstin Lynn, White have an instant style and a swagger, which could be identified, in part, as a product of maturity in the music industry.

Their image is bold, but they have a lot more to offer musically.

Three tracks into the set, ‘Future Pleasures’ really compounds the sense of dynamism and expression intrinsic to the band’s sound.

It’s a boisterous and hedonistic tune, which, when further reinforced by Anonymous acts, leaves no one in any doubt that Glasgow may have produced another band who can deliver expansive and well-crafted pop music.

ubreblanca02 2

Next up in the Solus tent are Glasgow duo Ubre Blanca; they benefit from White’s tent-filling exploits, but manage to immediately infuse their set with the energy required to keep the pre-formed crowd engrossed.

Comprising of Joel Stone on synth/guitar and Andy Brown on drums, Ubre Blanca serve up a balance of soundscape and rhythmic pattern, which imposes itself throughout the confines of the tent.

Loud and progressive, Ubre Blanca hold the crowd’s interest with a playful announcement heralding the fact that their second number – “will be our last tune”.

Confused and questioning my own sense of time and space I ask the sound engineer for clarification I am told that this would in fact be their last tune, however it comes in at an extensive 18 minutes.

Friday headliners The Waterboys take to the Summerisle stage and open with classic rebel-rouser ‘Fisherman’s Blues’, which seems a perfect song for Wickerman, ensconced as it is in the environs of Kirkcudbrightshire, a region holding a deeply felt and proud fishing heritage.

A strong, nippy wind further echoes the sea-faring tradition and similarly those present don’t allow a bit of weather to put a holt to after dark festivities.

They play a long set that is already 15-minutes behind schedule by the time they perform a slow tempo, and somewhat alien rendition of ‘Whole of the Moon’ to those audience members who had braved the increasing sou’wester.

After hours, comfort is found in the Acoustic Village where acts continue late into the night.

One such band is Glasgow natives Woodwife, who are a relatively new band who have respectfully worn waistcoats in honour of Jamie Gilroy, and their overall appearance speaks appropriately of pagan overtones.

They are fronted by Freya Giles who has great vocal range, and she benefits from the completeness of the sound, emboldened by perfectly measured harmonies and fluid percussive envelopment.

They finish with a pounding rendition of Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Wanna Make it Wit Chu’ – it’s a spirited end to a day in which the gathering momentum took hold of all those gathered on site.

More Photos

Words/Photos: Gordon Ballantyne

West End Festival All Dayer at Oran Mor, 21/6/15

After worrying about whether or not I would be able to see the majority of the great bands playing across Oran Mor’s three stages, I was extremely pleased to see that the running order would allow me to move almost effortlessly between stages, hardly missing a second of each set.

My early arrival gives me plenty of time to soak up the breath-taking interior of the venue’s main auditorium before finding a decent spot in the already packed out room to watch the incredible Kathryn Joseph.

I am lucky enough to have seen Joseph perform two amazing sets at this year’s Wide Days and Xpo North and therefore already know I am in for a treat.

The crowd eagerly await the arrival of this year’s Scottish Album of the Year award winner, who captivates everyone in the room from the moment she steps on stage.

Joseph’s stage presence and musical style fits the venue perfectly, creating a truly enchanting performance.

Hanging on upstairs the hotly anticipated return of De Rosa is next, and after six years absence the return of Martin Henry and co. is one that’s more than welcome and a massive coup for Oran Mor to pull off, on a Father’s Day that sees a heavy amount of dads along for what we have to say is a very ‘dad friendly’ line up.

Still, while the audience makes me feel young I am still old enough to remember De Rosa first time round (unlike my fellow reviewer), their two, Chemy released, albums Mend and Prevention are among the highest regarded by the label and rightfully so as their highly intelligent brand of genre bending indie rock is still as fresh sounding as ever near a decade on.

Today they may be on early on in the day, but the hefty crowd lap up material from their two albums to date and while the band start to hit their, seemingly more refined than ever, stride it becomes clear that we may well be in for a treat with album number three, which is promised later this year.

It is then time to move downstairs to catch Man Of Moon; having heard so much about this band over the last few months I was eager to see them live.

The basement venue is packed and makes me question whether such a new band has ever played to a crowd of this size before, however the size of the crowd doesn’t seem to effect them as they showcase their unique sound and tight live set, making it clear they’re one to watch over the next couple of months.

Remember Remember_WestEndAllDayer_Euan_006

Back upstairs there’s a sense of a spark in the air, this is the moment the a lot of today’s crowd are here for; just this moment – the last Remember Remember show, and the mix of joy, filled with loss is quickly turned on its head by the band’s shimmering performance.

Graeme Ronald has been a hive of activity in Glasgow’s music scene for years, flitting between bands honing his trade, but RR always seems to be the culmination of that; their expansive arrangements don’t have you shoegazing like so many instrumental Glasgow bands would, instead they have you looking to the skies, or in this case the beautiful Alasdair Gray mural, as they twinkle and spark with unletting joy.

There’s a knowing smile on the band’s faces too, Ronald is entering a different chapter of his life; recently married, child on the way and a move to America imminent, so perhaps this is the best time to call it a day.

Whether it’s failing to bust a glitter gun of flinging cardboard boxes that spell out the band’s name into the audience, they seem at a real ease and as the crowd collect the boxes and spell out the name back to them it’s just a sheer delight to be here; Remember Remeember it’s been a please to have you.

Moving downstairs again we move ever so slightly away from the dad heavy set, although it can’t be argued that the charms of Tuff Love don’t extend over multiple age brackets.

I’ve made it consistently well known that I think these guys are great, their warm, fussy 90s vibing indie pop is a joy to behold both live and on record; the sweet harmonies and cheerful bounce of their tunes never fails to drag a smile onto your face.

Today is maybe lost a bit in downstairs chatter, but as Suse attempts to construct the most pathetic wall of death ever seen, it appears they’re taking everything in good heart; these guys’ trajectory is only elevating, we can only wait in anticipation of what they do next, I’m sure it’ll be a joy.

After both of us sadly failing to catch Hubby, next up is Edinburgh’s Stanley Odd, who make sure everyone in the room is having fun from the off.

They treat the crowd to a number of both old and new tracks including the upbeat ‘Chase Yirself’ and slower new single ‘Monsoon Season’ before ending with crowd pleaser ‘Son, I Voted Yes’.

The band are keen to get everyone moving, cheering and singing along and the crowd are more than happy to oblige making Stanley Odd’s set extremely entertaining to watch; made only better by Solareye’s fantastically chirpy stage presence and Veronika Electonika’s stunning vocals.

Stanley Odd_WestEndAllDayer_Euan_001

I head back upstairs to catch We Were Promised Jetpacks’ ‘relaxed’ set, featuring a number of less often played live tracks including a number of b-sides.

Even though it is nice to see another side to Jetpacks, tonight doesn’t seem to quite work when compared to their normally riotous live set; they seem to be lacking the energy they usually possess and are a sobering come down after Stanley Odd’s adrenaline filled sing-along.

By this point in the day things seem to be lingering, a huge crowd is gathered downstairs for Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat, but finding a comfortable spot to watch Moffat’s legendary tales becomes difficult and the beauty of Wells’ arrangements become somewhat lost at the back of the room.

Upstairs it’s a similar scenario for The Phantom Band, the band who are generally a formidable and inspiring live experience seem to be grasping at nothing when trying to draw a reaction from a beer weary Sunday evening crowd, and despite Rick Anthony’s best efforts their set fades somewhat in comparison to those earlier performances.

All in all though another successful West End Festival All Dayer from Oran Mor cementing itself as one of the centrepieces of the whole festival.

More Photos

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/63321466″ 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: Jess Lavin/Iain Dawson
Photos: Euan Robertson/Stewart Fullerton