Tag Archives: Nieves

NIEVES – Exist and Expire

NIEVES is a four piece from Glasgow who released their debut self-titled EP in late 2014 (featuring the great ‘Straight Line’) and now, after racking up another EP and a sell-out show at King Tut’s, they are back with their debut album.

For a record that billed itself as indie-folk, tracks like ‘(You Will) Change’ and ‘A Beginning, A Middle’ have all the subtlety of a rocket propelled grenade.

The former sounds rather like a Celtic Coldplay with a reverb-soaked vocal, weighty piano chords and a huge climax, while the latter is sleek electro flecked rock with portentous lyrics straight from U2’s nineties reinvention.

For better or worse, the songs on Exist and Expire have been buffed and burnished until they are sleek and gigantic, carried along by driving piano.

When this works – the processed drums and piano of the imperious title track – the band sound unstoppable, when it doesn’t – or the songcraft takes a turn for the generic  –Exist and Expireis less successful.

The most apt comparison might be Fatherson, another band who started out channelling folkish intimacy but delivered an album which, while strong on its own merits, sacrificed subtlety on the altar of delivering a record that blew their songs up to the size of a super tanker.

With a mix of personal insights and narrative pieces, there is a nice variety to the songwriting and the group are clearly tight musicians, but a little intimacy wouldn’t go amiss.

Sadly there is no room for ‘Straight Line’ or their other great single ‘Broken Oars’ here, but for fans of Frightened Rabbit, Coldplay or The National, NIEVES certainly have something to offer.

Words: Max Sefton

NIEVES (album launch), The Youth and Young at The Hug and Pint, 24/2/18

Folk rock band The Youth and Young put a lot of energy and emotion in to their performance.

Supporting NIEVES at The Hug and Pint for their debut album launch they are all about big voices and harmonies.

Tightly packed on the stage singing songs of relationships, passion and feelings their intensity was infectious; The Youth and Young produce ballads of gentle folk rock with no hiding of their Scottish origins in the vocals, however their songs are not typically Scottish and have a more eclectic feel.

NIEVES have been hard at it producing their excellent debut album, Exist and Expire, for the past few months and by their own words a bigger and more elaborate sound has developed.

Having their origins in folk rock they are now a full-blown alt rock band in the best traditions of Scottish rock, up there with Frightened Rabbit, Admiral fallow and Fatherson.

It’s clear the guys have been working hard to develop their sound with Brendan Dafters taking up synthesiser as well as vocals and acoustic guitar, Martin Murray dancing manically playing the electric guitar, Herre de Leur on the keys and Ross Forsyth driving it all along with his dynamic drumming.

What is a top-level album was reproduced live with aplomb with a faultless performance full of highlights – the excellent title track ‘Exist and Expire’, ’Don’t Let Us Be Next’, ’Strangers Are Just People You Don’t Hate Yet’ in fact every song, including the encore ‘Winter’ a beefed up, lavish and more sophisticated version of the 2014 release.

Dafters takes great pleasure in allowing the sing along vocals of the audience to take over in this encore.

NIEVES deliver, and their more expansive, bigger sound, powerful vocals and captivating choruses take them to another level; this year will surely see them move in to the Scottish music elite.

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Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Photo Review: Saint Luke’s All Dayer, 6/8/17

The beautiful east end converted church venue Saint Luke’s and accompanying bar the Winged Ox play host to their second all dayer event that looks to become a fixture of the Glasgow music calendar.

With a host of local talent filling the bill it was a hot ticket on the weekend that many had travelled up north for Belladrum on and plenty were filling their day with music of a different sort at Optimo 20. We sent Kendall Wilson along who took shots of the majority of the bands on the bill to give you a taster of the festival:




Emme Woods

Miracle Glass Company

Campfires In Winter


The Great Albatross

Moonlight Zoo

Harry & The Hendersons

North Atlas

Ryan Joseph Burns

Nieves, Kyle Burgess (We Came From Wolves) at Broadcast, 9/12/16

Despite being a bit of a Grinch, and generally trying my damnedest to avoid all things Christmas, Nieves now annual festive show is an exception to the rule, and an emerging tradition I can totally get on board with.

After spending the best part of an hour ensnared in less than festive Friday night traffic I’m disappointed to have missed tonight’s first support act Jack James, who gets added to the bucket list for next year (because if the Nieves lads rate him he’ll be worth checking out).

I am however, just in time for Kyle Burgess, front man for Perth-based indie rock outfit We Came from Wolves, who tonight is stepping out of his comfort zone and playing a solo acoustic set, featuring pared-back versions of tracks from the band’s self-titled debut album.

More indie than rock this evening, Burgess confesses that he’s not sure how well this experiment will work, as Wolves’ material tend to be “fast, loud and power chord-y”.

It’s safe to say that despite his reservations the stripped-back set is a total pleasure, and after rattling through a number of album tracks, Burgess takes a moment to introduce We Came from Wolves new Christmas charity single ‘Better Than This’, a reworked version of ‘I Need Something’, which the band have released to help fundraise for Perthshire homelessness charity CATH; a cause well deserving of support.

With a massive gig supporting Fatherson in Middlesbrough lined up for early in the New Year, and their debut album in the pipeline, 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for Nieves, who have evidently been working their arses off on new material over the last few months.

The band kick off tonight’s headline set with previously un-played track ‘Predator’ before settling into well established ‘Black Tie’, an insightful, brutal rendering of the emotional turmoil experienced after the death of a loved one.

Incongruously, given the always dark nature of Nieves’ song writing, tonight’s stage is bedecked with tinsel, and frontman Brendan Dafters is sporting a rather fetching Santa hat, which in no way detracts from the fact that this is a band unafraid to tackle the grittiest of subject matter.

‘Dove’, released earlier this year, makes an excellent recent addition to the band’s live repertoire, and thanks to a belter of a chorus, combined with the now trademark interplay being Herre de Leur’s impeccable keys and Ross Forsyth’s considerable skills on percussion, even sees some guys slow-motion headbanging down the front.

After a brief comedic interlude whilst the band strong-arm guitarist Martin Murray into a pink My Little Pony Christmas T-shirt (who knew that was even a thing?), they launch into the world’s best, most miserable Christmas song.

Featuring lyrics “this year has been a bastard/ twelve months crawling on the floor”, ‘The Cure’ is surely on par with The Pogues for seasonal wretchedness.

One of the band’s many talents is their uncanny knack for communicating genuine emotion, without ever appearing trite.

This is particularly evident in ‘Broken Oars’; the storytelling of everyday tragedy, the type that affects us all, both horribly relatable and oddly comforting.

The final third of tonight’s set shifts focus towards new material, sharper and edgier than previous offerings, and no less scrupulously fashioned.

Coming with the caveat that “the words, music and names will probably all change” the band treat the now hooked crowd to three massive tracks, the last of which, as yet untitled, in particular piques my interest.

Despite declaring that if he drums too hard he’ll hit the really very low ceiling, Forsyth holds nothing back as an epic, monster of a drum intro drives the track forward; and, at its’ conclusion, when asked if they reckon that this one should make it on to the album, the answer from the crowd is a resounding yes.

Percussion continues to set the tone, as the band segue into gorgeous final track ‘Empty Book’ to end the evening on a high note… pun very much intended.

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Words: Kat McNicol

NIEVES, FOREIGNFOX, Courier’s Club at SWG3, 12/8/16

Thanks to getting hopelessly lost, first on the way to SWG3, and then again in the ladies, a Monty Hall-like puzzle, sadistically designed to confuse drunk gig goers, we are almost too late to catch first support act Courier’s Club tonight.

The track and a bit that we do hear sounds promising, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for future chances to give this band some proper attention.


Dunfermline based, alt-rock five-piece FOREIGNFOX are next up, and despite technical problems, combined with a slow to fill venue, their 45-minute set is impressive and indicative of exciting things to come.

As a result of the aforementioned tech issues, it’s virtually impossible to deduce the band’s song titles tonight.

This leads to some confusion over stand out ‘I Used to be a Belly Dancer/ Ballet Dancer/ Elephant’, all of which would be excellent options (Note it’s actually Belly Dancer).

Regardless, the track is a marathon; beginning with a stripped back, controlled vocal and poignant lyrics, before developing into a colossal, roaring crescendo.

New single ‘Bonfire’ is the band’s last track this evening and it sounds massive.

Here, reverb mingles with a vocal descant pitched impressively high above the melody line.

FOREIGNFOX have been carving out quite a name for themselves of late, and based on this performance, it’s easy to see why.

The headliners are looking to do something a bit different with tonight’s choice of venue, accurately describing the gig as ‘an intimate, warehouse show’.


Prior to their set there’s a bit of a love-in, which sees the NIEVES lads down the front cheering on the support in between chatting to pretty much everyone who walks through the door.

It’s heartening proof that the Glasgow foursome are not only talented, but also top blokes.

Contending with difficult acoustics (the downside to playing a cavernous warehouse) and technical glitches, NIEVES appear unfazed.

Frontman Brendan Dafters and drummer Ross Forsyth waste no time in cheerily ordering the crowd down to the front, and heckling those who are still trying to get away with lurking up the back.

The band kick things off with a brand new track, which I immediately want to listen to on repeat, before launching into their earlier material with previous single release ‘Black Tie’.

Sound continues to be something of a challenge throughout this track, however the inclusion of reworked, unaccompanied vocal sections from Dafters prove an interesting mix-up.

By the time NIEVES move on to ‘The Knot’, taken from their 2015 Matriarch EP, the crowd has fully warmed up, acoustics have improved, and everyone relaxes into a set which sees the band stretch themselves vocally and technically.

Tonight’s show celebrates the launch of new double A-side ‘Roughcast / Dove’.

It’s my first time hearing the tracks live, and most noticeable are the developments and expansion in NIEVES’ trademark style.

Whilst still driven by Herre de Leur’s intricately layered keys and, at times thunderous, percussion from Forsyth, the band have included just a hint of an electronic, atmospheric vibe, which sees Dafters set aside his acoustic guitar in favour of some more high-tech trickery.

‘Broken Oars’, released as a single in March this year, always hits hard and tonight is no exception.

Here, huge bass percussion drives the track, and the venue finally works to NIEVES’ advantage, as booming sound vibrates off the walls of the SWG3 cave.

Combined with Dafters’ most emotional vocal, and an excellent guitar part from Martin Murray, ‘Broken Oars’ is a beautifully painted tale of loss and heartache.

The band announce that the next track will be their “fake last song”, as they weren’t sure if they were going to do an encore or not.

It’s an as yet unnamed, brand new addition to their catalogue, and is a darker, heavier and unrestrained offering, which bodes well for things to come.

NIEVES’ actual last song ‘Empty Book’ has folk singing, swaying and winching left, right and centre.

This is absolute testament to the band, considering that the track is about drug abuse, and is lyrically uncompromisingly grim.

It’s really very difficult to accurately describe a NIEVES gig, as given the brutally dark lyrical content and heart-wrenching technical execution, one would be forgiven for expecting a downbeat and melancholy affair.

The band’s enthusiasm, and evident passion for what they are doing, makes for a far happier event and this is a night of joyful misery pop, if such a thing indeed exists.

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Words: Kat McNicol
Photos: Cameron Brisbane

Nieves – ‘Broken Oars’

Glasgow boys Nieves have become a firm favourite on my car stereo; the last year or so has seen them catapult on to the Scottish music scene with two excellent and well received EP’s and a couple of sell out shows at Tut’s.

Musically they are highly accomplished using a compelling mix of gritty, mature lyrics delivered on an angst ridden vocal juxtaposed with the soaring heart tug of melodic piano.

Latest single ‘Broken Oars’ carries on in this vein with the wonderfully live recorded piano taking a strong lead, before singer Brendan Dafter paints his lyrics onto the track.

A string section layers on to the track giving an impeccable warm depth to the song that requires the replay button to be continually pressed.

The song is a tale of the two loves in a women’s life, her father, then her husband and how the loss of one affects her relationship with the other.

As dark as it is this is best track Nieves have released upon us and it certainly won’t disappoint their growing army of fans.

Quality oozes from the speakers when the track plays and it’s no surprise that Nieves profile continues to build.

Surely a record label somewhere must be watching?

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Words: Peter Dorrington

Nieves, Akela at Tut’s, 18/12/15

Thanks to a typically manic last Friday before Christmas, I’d pretty much resigned myself to missing out on Nieves’ second sold out Tut’s gig of 2015.

Unwilling to admit defeat, I decide an eleventh hour dash through to Glasgow is worth a punt, and, with a little Wacky Races-esque driving, I arrive just in time to catch final support act of the night Akela.

A somewhat lack lustre set, played to a half empty and fairly subdued Tut’s has me briefly questioning if it has all been worth the effort, but the band pull it together in time for their last track, and with the venue filling up, a definite buzz is beginning to build.

During the following hiatus I have the unexpected pleasure of chatting to some of the main act’s family, who are understandably delighted by the Glasgow alt-folk four-piece’s burgeoning success.

Sleep deprivation and too much Red Bull leads to me getting ever so slightly carried away, and, somehow, I wind up enthusing on Nieves being “better than the Beatles”.

Happily, the band waste no time in getting things started, saving me from any further wild postulating.

Killing the lights, Nieves saunter on to the faintly ominous ‘Carol of the Bells’, setting the tone for this alternative Christmas party.

After opening with bittersweet ‘The Knot’, the set is disrupted by technical issues as drummer Ross Forsyth rips a massive hole in his snare.

Completely unfazed, the band fill the ensuing space with easy banter and, after a speedy re-ordering, lead vocalist Brendan Dafters and Herre de Leur on piano perform a beautifully stripped back acoustic version of ‘Legs and Arms’, effortlessly charming the crowd.

Fixer-extraordinaire Ryan receives a massive, and well deserved, roar from the room as he appears brandishing a new snare, and normal service is quickly resumed.

Rattling through recent EP Matriarch, in addition to their self-titled 2014 release, Nieves are composed and confident, and despite the often emotionally brutal nature of their lyrical content, the performance is unexpectedly upbeat.

Musically tight, the set showcases each member’s considerable talents in equal measure.

Blessed with an unforced (and very Scottish) brand of patter that more experienced artists struggle to achieve, Dafters is a natural frontman, as well as a skilled lead vocalist; his near painfully raw tones lending depth and sincerity to each new offering.

Recent drafts Forsyth and Martin Murray on guitar prove worthy additions to the original line-up, while de Leur’s intricately layered piano eloquently drives on tracks such as ‘Sirens’ and ‘Legs and Arms’.

Mixing things up with ‘The Cure’, quite possibly the world’s least Christmassy Christmas song, Nieves then close with ‘Empty Book’, a riotous burst of noise and energy. Thanking the crowd for their ongoing support, the band promise “big things” for 2016, and I have no doubt that they will deliver.

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Words: Kat McNicol

Nieves – Matriarch

It’s an unassailable fact that life can be pretty damn grim, and Glasgow alt-folk foursome Nieves certainly aren’t going to sugar coat things for us.

Instead, new EP Matriarch offers up an assiduous portrayal of the stark beauty to be found in sorrow, human shortfall, and those all too common grim realities.

On first play, Matriarch immediately draws the listener in, thanks in large part to lush, layered keys from Herre de Leur on piano.

Instrumentally beautiful, the record shifts seamlessly from one tumbling piano melody to another.

Merging this with skillfully placed percussion and guitar, from Ross Forsyth and Martin Murray respectively, Nieves create depth, and glimmers of light amidst the darkest of lyrical content.

The EP, demands closer attention and on more careful consideration, it is this lyrical content, and a remarkable vocal from frontman Brendan Dafters that sets this band apart.

Bringing power, raw emotion and sounding as though he’s breaking his fucking heart with every line, Dafters delivers a unique, and distinctively Scottish vocal.

Opening with ‘The Knot’ Nieves stick to well-versed tales of heartache and failed relationships, yet successfully steer clear of trite clichés.

Instead Dafters injects glimpses of dry humour, with lyrics “I got it tight at the breakfast table” certainly resonating with this Scot at least.

In comparison, ‘Empty Book’ and ‘Black Tie’ are far grittier affairs, tackling topics most shy away from, with sincerity and gravitas.

Although not easy or comfortable listening at times, the tracks are undeniably relatable, and refreshingly honest.

Stand out ‘Legs and Arms’ takes this honesty to another level; here, a heart-wrenching outpouring of guilt and grief is tempered beautifully by understated keys and a shift in focus to guitar instrumental, highlighting the band’s musical range.

While successfully circumventing the pitfalls of sounding overly polished or contrived, Matriarch is a self-assured and confident offering from the band, who will round off a successful 2015 with a headline at Tut’s in December.

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Words: Kat McNicol

Nieves – ‘Legs and Arms’

I’ve been awfully fond of Nieves ever since I heard their debut single ‘Winter’; as mixing up traditional folk with a modern indie twist and heart-wrenching lyrics is right up my street.

Originally a duo consisting of guitarist/vocalist Brendan Dafters and pianist Herre de Leur, Nieves have now picked up an additional two members in the form of second guitarist Martin Murray and drummer Ross Fosyth.

The new line-up is showcased well in new single ‘Legs and Arms’, which opens with Dafters’ stunning vocals against soft piano, a similar sound to their previous material, however as the percussion kicks in it’s a whole new story, which is just as enjoyable and gives Nieves the opportunity to really build up to a triumphant chorus.

Nieves are band that want you to, not only to hear the emotion in their music but, actually feel it as well, engrossing you in each single’s message.

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Words: Jess Lavin

Nieves – ‘Black Tie’

With their roots in acoustic folk, you’d be forgiven for not immediately recognising Nieves’ latest offering.

‘Black Tie’ is something of a sonic progression, but with a prominent use of dark, melancholic piano there are still at least some familiar focal points.

This is not to say that the aforementioned progression is inherently negative however.

The addition of a well-crafted beat and appropriately delicate guitar counter-melodies build upon the honest song writing, that may be expected of the Glasgow band to create a more modern and at times utterly euphoric sound.

No punches are pulled thematically or lyrically, and Brendan Dafters’ characteristically emotive voice sits in a space between sorrow and anger that lends the track a certain weight it may otherwise lack.

‘Black Tie’ is undoubtedly a positive evolution in the creative path of Nieves’, who will be self-releasing their second EP, Matriarch, this coming September, as well as performing live at the Belladrum (7-8 August) and Loopallu (25-26 September) festivals later this year.

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Words: Michael Mavor