Tag Archives: Savage Mansion

Track of 2017 (30-21)

30. Siobhan Wilson – ‘Whatever Helps’ [Song, by Toad]

Immediately, ‘Whatever Helps’ shows off a more darker tone than Siobhan Wilson’s earlier, more twee-sounding material; the delicately soft vocal remain, but it is now layered, and more ominous sounding. An ode to fighting against a lost love, and the depression that comes with it, the lack of a backing band on the track allows Wilson’s gorgeous voice to drift like a lonely stranger passing through the night.

29. MC Almond Milk – ‘1995’ [Save As]

‘1995’ is a nostalgic journey through summers filled with dirty gutties and bowl cuts that will have anyone of a certain age and disposition grabbing a bottle of Devon’s finest tonic wine and heading for a park with Oasis blaring on their Walkman. As the story continues from 1995 to 2015, the narrative goes through the ups and downs of life and growing up; the craft is how the beat and music becomes more frantic during the less pleasant parts of Almond Milk’s formative years and relaxes when he raps about the good times.

28. Annie Booth – ‘Chasm’ [Scottish Fiction/Last Night From Glasgow]

Written about the barriers we put up between ourselves and others to feel better/more comfortable when in fact it makes us more distant than ever ‘Chasm’ is a lyric-driven beauty that builds over a chirpy alt-rock enthused rhythms as Annie Booth’s warm silky voice teases over the top in a conversational yet heartfelt tone. On her EP three years ago Booth displayed a knack for cleverly written songs, but there was a raw element about the release the has been honed in on here, clearly her experiences with in Mt. Doubt have evolved her sound, making her not just one to look out for in the Scottish folk scene but on a much wider scale, both musically and geographically.

27. Young Fathers – ‘Lord’

‘Lord’ offered the first taste of Young Fathers’ third record and what have they given us? Is it a call for redemption? Or a message from another plane? Whatever it is, it’s proof that Young Fathers are still a band like no other, because in the best way possible, it sounds like several different songs at once. One song is a gentle, baby’s own piano, one part a gospel choir of harshly treated vocals, one part bleak electronics evoking a droning cello or a glass wall vibrating. It’s Dante’s Divine Comedy in a song and the sign of an act that still has no shortage of ways to confound, an intriguing scene setter for where the trio might go next.

26. West Princes – ‘Wet Bark Is A Slug’ [vodoidARCHIVE]

Lifting you beyond the rain drenched dreariness of Glasgow’s synonymous party street that we can only assume these guys are named after, West Princes brought beautifully warm breeze with ‘Wet Bark Is A Slug’. The first taste of released material from these guys is subtle yet playful number that gives us a taste of band who are likely to have a big 2018.

25. BDY_PRTS – ‘Rooftops’ [Aggrocat]

‘Rooftops’ is an upbeat slice of electronic indie-pop reminiscent of Robyn or La Roux; warm chords power a rising melody line that sounds like Marina & the Diamonds are shaping for a big-lunged chorus as O’Sullivan and Reeve knit their voices together for an impossibly catchy refrain. There’s a touch of Jenny Lewis to the lovelorn chorus “the pieces of my heart are falling from the rooftops” but for song that seems knitted together from a handful of different sections, it’s the lush call and response finale that lingers long in the memory.

24. Mt. Doubt – ‘Tourists’ [Scottish Fiction]

‘Tourists’ is a story about Leo Bargery’s fear of flying with a tone is tongue and cheek, while the melody is a smooth, free-flowing mantra. The composition is sincere but the sentiment more jovial, Bargery’s voice has the capacity for wandering through low tones, luring you into a peaceful hum, before leaping up an octave or two. It’s got a hummable chorus, that plays darkly humorous lyrics off giant guitar chords and some neat female backing vocals, from Annie Booth, as Bargery contemplates whether he might be happier in ‘Southend in Sea’ and deploys the rather smart line “my aversion to aviation, keeps my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds”.

23. Savage Mansion – ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ [Lost Map]

‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ is a fleshy piece of pragmatic laziness, emitting imaginary craft and an unquestionable attitude that textures the track throughout. Launching into a distinctive and highly melodic guitar line, which quickly establishes a prominent radiance; the deadened drums provoke a sense of moody-solace, lifting appropriately. ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ is a serious slab of attractive songwriting, non-pretentious and thought provoking, excitingly hopeful.

22. Bluebirds – ‘Subcultural Love’

Bluebirds have developed a reputation as being a must-see live act, and ‘Subcultural Love’ certainly shows off an intensity that very few bands are able to capture. ‘Subcultural Love’ is dark and unnerving, drawing the listener into a five minute bind with no respite. Vocalist Daniel Telford’s Nick Cave-esque snarl guides the track murkily, before the track crashes into cacophonous life, as he howls “we need to see some more skin”.

21. Out Lines – ‘Buried Guns’ [Rock Action]

The supergroup of sorts comprised of James Graham of The Twilight Sad, Kathryn Joseph, and Marcus Mackay captured a mesmerisingly gritty, undoubtedly Scottish record in Confrats and lead single ‘Buried Lines’ was the pick of the bunch. The track is a strikingly hypnotic stroll through a mysterious setting, as Graham’s distinctive Scottish vocals intertwine with Joseph’s elegant yet gritty delivery over powerful brooding production.

Tenement Trail 2017

Down early for 2017’s edition of Tenement Trail and Edinburgh’s CHEAP TEETH play to a busy but relatively relaxed Broadcast basement.

At points their music lends itself to the restrained atmosphere with subdued alt rock vibes, at others they move to gruffly sneered indie chant alongs.

There’s glimpses of the band blowing you away with powerful flourishes, however for the most part it’s lackadaisical, stoner tinged rock with a hint of lad generation about it, nice start to what promises to be a busy day.

Tenement Trail is synonymous with mad dashes to get to see as much as possible and with the forewarning that entry will depend on capacity of venues and with fifteen minute walks between some venues you have to time your journeys accordingly.

Early in the day the mad dashes aren’t so much of a problem, but the basements of Broadcast and Sleazy’s do reach capacity a few times before the bigger venues open their doors.

Fauves are next door and keep the chilled vibes to a packed basement theme going, but add a touch more sunshine to proceedings with their warming dream pop back drops, casual presence and off kilter charismatic vocal delivery.

It’s a set full of charming passages and uplifting highs, as the keys force you into a woozy sway, the guitar licks some tropical heat in and the vocals range, from high hooky sections to soulful dream filled beauty, has you engrossed.

In Broadcast Savage Mansion take the stage to Kurt Angle’s theme music, and before the urge to chant “you suck” becomes unmanageable they are off, upping the ante with their churning pop sound.

At points it’s proper hooky power pop as Craig Angus’ drawl journalistic lyrics sets them apart from their peers.

The delivery may be thick and fast, but Savage Mansion deliver the kind of set you can easily imagine crowds bigger than this chanting along to before losing it to super fun chorus hooks.

The first major movement of the day finds us down in Flat 0/1, and the tight squeeze of a venue hosts Tamzene, whose haunting vocals are backed only by gentle piano chords and a touch of backing vocal creating a mesmerising misery that entrances the crowd.

The Highlander, now based in Leeds, has the kind of voice that could pack a real punch and blast an arena, but here she uses it to caress and distil that power and deliver some truly beautiful ballads and lullabies that leaves the room silenced.

Sam Fender has a cheeky lad Geordie presence about him and as he croons “I’m a millennial” over an overly prominent bass drum, you get the impression he could be playing to packed venues bigger than Sleazy’s basement before long, the fact last time he was in Glasgow someone said he looked like Justin Bieber is enlightening, as it’s pretty difficult to make him out in the rammed pub, but gives the impression he has the image to go with tunes.

His vocal range is displayed emphatically here, even touching on his lookalike’s pop chops at points, while he can do edgy indie rock blasts and huge festival sing-alongs too; musically there’s an overriding glitchy electronic vibe that carries Fender’s sound further than your average rock band, while they are perfectly capable of going full on rock band or stripping it back too.

Three spaces of The Garage are used today, and each one of their spaces, while ideal for viewing the stage, sound a bit sparse and baron, while their policy of pat downs at 5pm at a communal fun festival is a bit intrusive.

Regardless this doesn’t deter Van Ives, who we forgo the temptations of Stevie Parker for as more the festival starts to spread out a bit; the duo fronted by former Bella and the Bear man Stuart Ramage, who were formed out of playing around with old video tapes, utilise clever samples, keys ranging from gentle to twinkling with a heavy hit of bass, all topped by passionate soulful vocal delivery and subtle guitars.

Ranging from grand, orchestral sounds to glitchy experimental organic beauty, with the occasional soaring section of pure pounding glory, the band do plenty to keep us excited.

As they close on ‘Pyramid’ with just a soft rhythm behind Ramage’s vocal it’s enough to have you shivering, before a soaring scape comes in the bass shudders the room and you’re left with a sense of something special just round the corner.

Wuh Oh is a different vibe completely as the whole set, minus a minor sound mix up, has a fluidity the emits through the man onstage; shimmering funk pop samples move freely into seemingly improvised key movements before the samples kick back in.

This is the kind of music that could so easily be played straight through a laptop, after the painstaking crafting process that is, however its credit to Pete Ferguson that he’s introduced his own live elements and all the while remaining an endless focal point of hyperactive sleaze filled dance moves.

The music hits apocalyptic heights, introducing elements of hip hop and a shuddering bass, all the while keeping a haunting refrain and of course never losing that level of liquid flow that emanates through the whole set.

After a break that unfortunately means missing Tongues and Emme Woods, we find ourselves back on it for the end of Anteros’ energetic pop rock set in a busy ABC2.

From the short burst we get a hit of high octane pop fun and a singer that possess an old school punk presence, strutting about the stage sneering and purring out tracks that emit as much attitude as they do pop chops.

ST.MARTiiNS start off on a quiet haunting number before upping the pace with warm soaring guitar lines; the vocal delivery exudes a dark pop glory, hooky yet shrouded in a sultry gothic shadow that lingers throughout their sound.

Still despite this dark element, their sound is full of bouncy rhythms and shimmery licks that are a lot of fun creating an almost oxymoronic feeling to their sound, it’s like being out in the sunshine but without the daylight and they’re all the more intriguing for it.

As they grow into their set they engulf the basement, and while we may try to categorise their sound they’re just bloody good.

As I arrive upstairs in The Garage’s Attic Bar, minus any pat downs this time, I find a whispering, shuddering wonky sound hit me as Edwin Organ’s soulful delivery comes backed by a cacophony of electronic touches and emerges basked in quality.

This is the kind of act that you can never predict and as he runs off stage to find his Mac charger mid set he hits us with surprising bravado before slipping back into a luscious maximal beauty of another track, the set continues with some trippy lounge feels, more dance floor teasing flurries and that smooth vocal; this deserves more than just the smattering of people gathered in this small room.

To my surprise/disappointment I get into The Priory’s tiny space for Calva Louise (disappointment as this place should be overflowing), but even with the small amount of people gathered in front me catching a glimpse of the band proves a task.

Sadly the volume levels in the basement aren’t up to full so the band’s hooky gothic garage pop isn’t as powerful sounding as it should, this is in no way down to the band who play through bouncing pop tracks and haunting fast screeching numbers with much more confidence than most bands would with only one track in the public domain.

With an addictive singer who delivers on chirpy pop to gritty garage delivery just as well, and a sound that just transmits energy into their audience, Calva Louise is a band that will make packed out basement shows their irresistible staple.

The Big Moon take the honour of being the biggest acts I see today, well in the biggest space anyway, and play to a sizeable crowd in The Garage’s main venue, and grasp people in with an attitude drenched pop rock sound that, woos with a charming presence and holds on with some finely crafted, bombastic tracks.

I only catch the last few numbers, but as the singer prowls the front of the crowd on ‘Bonfire’ you can see why they have gathered such a crowd – delightful sun touched stuff.

Arriving in Broadcast for The Great Albatross you’re hit by how sparse the basement is, but as the set progresses a few more filter in.

Unfortunately you can’t talk about this set without mentioning the outright disrespect for both band and audience from those gathered on the side bench, who shout over the band and drunkenly chant football songs when asked to quieten down, the band try their best to ignore this but it leaves a lingering awkwardness that’s hard to ignore.

That aside when the band are in full stride they produce tracks of unabashed beauty that are drowned in the sadness their recorded work possess in abundance, their live sound feels just as special, as once those causing the noise are dispensed the tracks soar through the basement like a cosy alt rock cushion, melting you down and charming you back to life.

Next door there’s a bigger crowd, but it’s saddening to see Sleazy’s not packed to the brim for Spinning Coin, who ounce for ounce are one of the best bands on the bill.

They’re one of those bands the just exude warm fussy vibes, it’s all lo-if pop sunshine, whether sneered and fast or slow jangly and sun kissed its all just coated in an addictive drizzle that keeps you swaying and hooked in for more.

They’re such a joy that whoever takes the lead vocal duties, whether it be Sean Armstrong’s dulcet indie pop tones, Jack Mellin’s gravely garagey pop delivery or Cal Donnely’s shouty attitude drenched vocals, it’s all got the same pull.

The band go past their allotted time slot, but after a chant of “one more tune” and them closing the venue for the night they get the go ahead for one more and recent single ‘Raining on Hope Street’ makes for a more than welcome encore.

Following that we’re left with a small gap as the venues start closing their doors meaning getting into the final few places becomes more and more difficult, but the time we get to Tut’s there’s already one-in-one-out for Catholic Action’s set, which is still more than 10-minutes off starting.

Still, it’s no surprise as this is a band that have been slowly garnering attention and acclaim for a while now, and with their debut album just a around the corner what better way to introduce it than a closing slot at Tenement Trail.

The four-piece take the stage to Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ and from then on it seems like single after single as the band roll through glammed up indie rock tracks that prove bigger earworms that we expected from a few recorded listens.

We have said in the past that Catholic Action are “the only guitar band in Glasgow who are doing anything at the moment” and more recently suggested they may be the saviours of the British guitar group, and while the former was 18-months ago, and bit of a knowing extreme, with the later they may well still be – they have all the pop chops to be huge, while lack all the dross laddish vibes that have dominated the mainstream guitar band for too long.

Catholic Action produce fun, well crafted tracks that have everything right, with a bit of luck for them and some for ourselves this will just be the end the beginning and the start of something big.

More Photos

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

Savage Mansion – ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ [Lost Map]

Lost Map postcard release from Savage Mansion, ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours’ is a fleshy piece of pragmatic laziness, emitting imaginary craft and an unquestionable attitude that textures the track throughout.

Launching into a distinctive and highly melodic guitar line, which quickly establishes a prominent radiance; the deadened drums provoke a sense of moody-solace, lifting appropriately.

The bass provides a real interesting layer to the track, giving fibre and stability – weaving guitar lines extenuate the sulky vocal, leaving opportunity for the main vocal to hang back, allowing the instrumentation to fasten down on the overall feel.

‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ is a serious slab of attractive songwriting, non-pretentious and thought provoking – excitingly hopeful.

Words: John Houston

Ones to Watch: Electric Fields 2017

Electric Fields was one of the highlights of last year’s festival season, a bargain price and some stellar acts combined with a fully fledged but also kid friendly festival atmosphere to make it a festival that won’t have many people saying no to.

This year they look to capitalise on the absense of T in the Park, albeit the Glasgow based replacement TRNSMT seems to have been a huge success, but not quite the same market as Electric Fields in aiming at.

This year’s headliners, the even dependable and super popular Frightened Rabbit will have everyone crying, cheering and singing along while Dizzee Rascal will almost undoubtedly bring the party closing Saturday night’s activities.

Add to that a stellar backing cast of superb acts that make up the mainstage stage and other stage headliner affairs; over the Atlantic Band of Horses would headline a festival of this size, while The Jesus and Mary and Arab Strap’s reputations are formidable.

Our ones to watch are coming from further down the bill looking at local up and comers and smaller touring acts.

Friday:

Marnie (Main Stage 16.15)

Glasgow based Helen Marnie may be better known for her work Liverpool electro-pop maestros Ladytron, but her solo work is every bit as glimmering. Her latest album Strange Words and Weird Wars is a breezy joy that thrills on a pop level without ever becoming too easy.

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Anna Meredith (Discover Stage 18.30)

Last years SAY Award winner is a special talent, the composer, performer and musician seem to emerge into the pop world out of the blue with her Varmints album last year, an all encompassing release that saw jazz and electronic sounds combined to make a record of bewildering propositions that is even better experienced in a live setting.

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And Yet It Moves (Redeemer Stage 19.00)

And Yet It Moves have been bubbling away for over a year now, evolving, engulfing and enhancing with each visit, they seem a different band at every visit. The now Berlin based band led by the powerful live presence of Dale Barclay are set to take the festival stage as their own, expect something haunting, something powerful, something that you won’t forget in a hurry.

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Modern Studies (Discover Stage 14.30)

Steeped in rural folk, chamber pop super group from Perthshire-via-Glasgow-via Yorkshire Modern Studies paint delicate experimental landscapes that hypnotise and engross. They’re a band that promise lots and seem set to deliver, Electric Fields may provide the stage their beautiful recorded music needs.

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Savage Mansion (Redeemer Stage 16.00)

One of the biggest prospects of Scottish guitar music at present Savage Mansion are band that individually have cut their teeth in a collection of impressive acts, but seem to have came together to create something that captures the moment with sultry beauty. The four-piece deliver fuzzy guitars, bouncy drums and catchy basslines coupled with Craig Angus’ (formerly of Poor Things) coolly delivered, conversational vocals that give an effortless pop aesthetic and chilled out reflection that recall the like of Parquet Courts and Mac DeMarco.

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Saturday

Aldous Harding (Discover Stage 15.15)

Compelling and theatrical New Zealander Aldous Harding has the sort of bewitching live show that will leave you lost for words. The recently signed to 4AD performer’s show can be as powerful as it is delicate, and her captivating charm and atmospheric tracks will be well worth getting along for.

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Sacred Paws (Main Stage 13.30)

Another SAY Award winner, this time the current holders Sacred Paws bring a fun energy to any stage, Rachel Aggs’ undeniable talent and unique tropical guitar sound has been a fixture of her work for years now and Sacred Paws are every bit as exciting as her other projects Shopping and Trash Kit. Add Eilidh Rodgers’ playful percussion and interweaving backing vocals, plus a touch of subtle brass you’ve got a band that can bring the sunshine to any festival.

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Whyte Horses (Main Stage 14.30)

Enigmatic psych group Whyte Horses have a eclectic array of influences, filtering through a modernist take of fuzzy tropical sounds, Krautrock vibes, 60s girl group pop, psychedelia and much more Whyte Horses present a spirally sound that will sending you away to dreamy hypnotic daze while having all the pop presence to keep the energy flowing. Initially imaged as the band to complete the catalogue of band leader Dom Thomas’ Finders Keepers label the band have evolved into something that simply can’t just remain a side project.

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Edwin Organ (Redeemer Stage 15.00)

Variation seems to be key to Edwin Organ’s game, still everything he touches seems to come out golden, his slick, but not unbearably polished production gives his head nodding organic left-field electronica. At points it’s super catchy at others a welcoming hug that fuses soul and jazz elements with obvious dance knowledge, expect to get lost in this one.

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Brat and the Bonemen (Discover Stage 12.00)

We don’t know much about these guys and have heard very little, but what we have heard for the Dumfries & Galloway based act suggests that they’ll be an explosive live act that expel a raucous distorted post punk energy that will be brimming with attitude.

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And some honourable mentions go to This Is The Kit, Skjor, Stillhound, Future Get Down.

And here’s some of the bigger acts on the bill that we think are definitely worth getting down for: Glass Animals, Real Estate, Foxygen, Nothing, Car Seat Headrest, Shogun, British Sea Power.

FUZZKILL presents Shredd (single launch), Fruit Tones (EP launch), Breakfast MUFF, Savage Mansion at The Old Hairdressers, 8/4/17

Savage Mansion break into a dreamy and familiar seeming song, reeking of various decades past but brought up to speed with their lively, contemporary approach; consistent but ever-changing, familiar but novel.

This dichotomy between new and old is mirrored by nothing better than the facial hair from left to right.

Mutton chopped funky man Jamie Dubber wanders up and down the bass ponderingly, bouncing each track gleefully along the instrument.

On the other side of the stage, guitarist Andrew Macpherson sports a more contemporary fashion, in musical style and facial hair.

In the middle stands frontman and project foreman Craig Angus, playing simple but highly endearing guitar hooks earlier on in the set.

Both guitarists take their opportunity to show us some serious skills, while Taylor Stewart adds vocals to a number of choruses as well as to periods of general voco-musical madness spattered throughout the set, while managing to drain respectable amounts of beer from his glass in between songs.

It will be exciting to see how Savage Mansion develop over the next few years, their stylistic range is great and the vocals are very adaptable, varying in greater degrees between songs rather than within them – which is in no way a criticism, it keeps the set lively, unpredictable and engaging.

Breakfast MUFF take to the stage next to open with a song ostensibly about hating a subjects guts; it’s fun, energetic and dynamic, not unlike the band.

Simone and Eilidh are on the vocals for this number, synchronising and harmonising well whether their approach is punky and abrasive or melodic and soft.

Breakfast MUFF’s constituent members swap instruments and vocal roles readily, at least four times throughout the set.

This lends the band an integral dynamic; imbuing each member with a sense of each instrument and what is going on throughout the set at all times.

All are vocalists and multi-instrumentalists who seem to know every part of each song – not just their own, which comes across in their synchrony.

The last time I saw Breakfast MUFF – just across the alley in support of The Hotelier – I commented that I found some of their songs a little twee.

I wouldn’t level that criticism this time; their songs have simple hooks but are never boring, they are fast, fun, popping, well-conceived, dynamic, evolving and technically impressive.

Next up to is Manchester’s Fruit Tones, who’re are a lot more methodical and archaic in their sound than the previous bands, this is not to say that they don’t have their own distinct sound; they do, and it is lasting, timely and worth hearing.

Breakfast MUFF’s Simone plays drums for them, as if she hadn’t done enough.

They play a new song, complete with blinding guitar hooks, proudly audible basslines and Simone’s tight, cymbal laden drum work.

The vocals have an immortal edge which echoes of ages past whilst being extremely relevant.

The set is rounded out with some furious guitar work, setting the stage well for the act we’ve all been waiting for.

Shredd bring every inch of the energy and style that they commit to record to their live performance and then some.

The reverberated vocals permeate through the melodic and fuzzy garage superbly.

A mosh-pit starts almost as suddenly as the set.

Their energy is unavoidable, although why you might wish to avoid it is unknown.

The crowd is electrified, they came here to see Shredd and they do not disappoint.

Shredd are not over-reliant on any one element, but use them all to create an intoxicating compound of pure gold.

Their live performance is replete with pulsing waves of psychedelia and wild garage jams that combine to bring about tonight’s highlight.

A new song entitled ‘What’s This I See?’ typifies the bands exuberance, unmistakable style and sheer unadulterated talent – there’s even a drop of crowd surfing.

The vocal harmonies are quite unique for this style of music, whilst the drummer is a frantic wildcard.

When there are no vocals, the three face each other and go hell for leather, putting the work in.

The drums are great, the bass is great, the guitar is great and the vocals are great; Shredd are great, is what I am getting at I guess.

The crowd gets a little too lively for its own good, with people being burst all over the place and falling onto the stage, with some attempts at crowd surfing going less than well.

The Old Hairdressers isn’t big enough for this crowd and Shredd, great though it is.

They play ‘Hideout’, a song which, when I reviewed their EP, I challenged anyone to stay still during and I am happy to report that nobody was able to, what an example of a great song.

They play ‘Cobra’ last, their new single, which the night is centred around is another example of a great song, their bassist Mark Macdonald is raised aloft to surf the crowd whilst walloping out with the songs challenging lines.

Forgive me for all my superlative adjectives, Shredd are just brilliant live – go and see them at your earliest convenience and whilst tickets are still cheap.

More Photos

Words: Paul Aitken
Photos: Allan Lewis

Savage Mansion – Everyone to the Savage Mansion [Cool Your Jets]

The debut EP from Savage Mansion, led by Craig Angus (formerly of Poor Things) and members of fellow Glasgow band, Catholic Action, is a wistful slice of indie rock in the tradition of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star.

Released appropriately at the start of autumn, the EP is brushed by the dying but lovely leaves of schoolyard nostalgia, like pages from a diary.

Fuzzy guitars, bouncy drums and catchy basslines give each song a garage rock feel, and Angus’ coolly delivered, conversational vocals lend to the songs a winning, Mac DeMarco balance of chilled out reflection and intimate confession.

The EP is tinged with that sense of quarter-life crisis (“everything I do/I’m a nervous wreck/I’m waiting on a sign”), where one retreats into the pastel-hazed land of childhood to seek meaning in a world that’s grown increasingly complicated, and Savage Mansion’s effortless pop aesthetic readily suits this exploration.

Opening track ‘Trouble in Paradise’ hints at the difficulty of returning to your hometown as an adult: “no more comfort in this town/my old friends they’re not around”; it’s this realisation of isolation, of things moving on irrevocably, which lends a melancholy tone to the EP.

On ‘Trouble in Paradise’, Angus name drops The Velvet Underground and Scott Walker as favourite musicians once listened to in the comfort of his teenage bedroom, and certainly there’s something of Lou Reed in Angus’ slightly husky and restrained yet no less powerful delivery, as well as a hint of the ballad-like pop music of early Walker throughout the EP.

‘Elwood’ is a groovier number, which starts confidently with a jangly, syncopated rhythm and slips between the slower pre-chorus, rolling yet understated guitar solo and this central cadence, its catchy jaggedness complimenting the song’s address to and indeed dismissal of a former friend/classmate, whose grownup life is a perpetual spectacle of trouble: “we said hello at the supermarket last year/and I hope it is the last time”.

Lead single, ‘Bring Down the City Hall’ is appropriately accompanied with a nostalgic Super 8 style video, where footage slips between clips of the band playing casually and scenes of countryside and town which are often in movement (seen from a plane or bicycle), suggesting the struggle to pin things down in memory.

‘Bring Down the City Hall’ is an existential reflection on past and present, trying to make sense of change in the context of the event that opens the song: “my old nemesis approached me and apologised for/kicking me in the ass in 2005”.

Angus negotiates the implications of this apology by exploring various childhood memories from the perspective of adulthood: “I was younger then, so dissatisfied/and I hoped I’d be better, I really tried”; yet this mature perception of his younger self doesn’t bring enlightenment or change in the present.

As the 2005 reference makes clear, this is a song about millennial melancholy; although Angus makes no direct reference to collective experience, we can read its expression of twenty-something stasis and frustration (“the clock ticks but time stands still/I shave my face but time stands still”) as partly the post-recession sense of being letdown by the world, the generational burden of useless degrees and dead-end jobs.

Still, there’s a kind of roguish joy to be found amidst this despondency.

Musically, the song has a playful, light and almost surf rock touch, structured around clean guitars, steady drums and a rising and falling bass riff which suits the song’s bittersweet mood.

It sums up well an EP which perfectly combines the Belle & Sebastian legacy of storytelling pop with a fuzzy brand of catchy indie rock, led by the lyrical charisma of Angus, whose doleful yet endearing vocals leave us with an impression of whimsical yet addictive intensity.

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Words: Maria Sledmere