Tag Archives: Skinny Dipper

The Great Albatross (album launch), Skinny Dipper, Fiskur at The Glad Cafe, 12/5/17

Tonight is in aid of the launch of the debut Great Albatross record Asleep in the Kaatskills on LP Records.

The room is already quite full before anyone has taken the stage; there are eleven instruments up there, as many pedals and half as many amps – I’m no mathematician, but that’s a lot of stuff for making noise with.

One person comes on stage and picks up one instrument, to bring us the debut performance of Fiskur an acoustic singer-songwriter act from Ross Clark, former front man of the recently disbanded Three Blind Wolves.

Fiskur presents some original, well-timed and expectation diverting music, starting with a distinctly lonesome and slow song with a south-western feel.

Many of Fiskur’s songs were written whilst fishing, with fiskur being an Icelandic word for fish, and we are enlightened as to what a slob trout is, a brown river trout that turns silver when it meets the sea.

Clark plays ‘I Turn Silver’, which starts off faster and lighter, but remember what I said about diverted expectations? Fiskur songs are full of brief gear changes, but not the type that grind your gearbox, these subtle shifts highlight and emphasise the depth of the songs.

In the third song, a delay pedal is introduced and utilised masterfully, with great subtlety, after the introduction of this pedal – or pedals – it is continually employed throughout the rest of the performance.

The fusion of organic and electronic guitar music is inspired and culminates in some very interesting and emotionally potent music, the vocals have a classical as well as contemporary and emotional quality, they are powerful without pretension.

Skinny Dipper take to the stage, all eight of them, and you would think they would involve most of the on-stage instruments being used but no, half of the musicians bring their own; a trumpet, a violin, a cello and a tambourine enter the instrumental mix.

The vocal harmonies from the three main singers are wonderfully diverse and distinctive; these are complimented by the evangelical lightness of the music.

Skinny Dipper’s diverse, professional and synergetic musicality is infectiously delightful and difficult to dislike.

A slow song wanders in and is gently encouraged by the sequential introduction of the myriad instruments.

A member of Skinny Dipper who is currently on maternity leave is asked to join the band on stage for a choir driven song of fantastic quality.

Somewhere between where the piano meets the strings ahead of the three-piece rock band at the back, under the soft rain of vocal harmonic you find Skinny Dipper… giving it plenty.

The last time I caught The Great Albatross at the launch of LP Records there were three band members, now there are five.

This brings an increased vitality and energy to the performance, which in no way undercuts the bands subtle and masterful approach.

As with last time, the respective volume of the instruments works delightfully to create a cohesive and alluring overarching sound throughout the set.

“Stay hydrated and bend your knees” is the punk-rock advice dispensed by frontman and brain of The Great Albatross, Wesley Chung.

Throughout the set – apart from when Chung dons the acoustic guitar – three electric guitars are used and this symphony allows an impressive harmonic and melodic spectrum to pour forward, carried by the wind of a constantly evolving bass-line and crashing against the rocks of timely, tight and well controlled drum work.

On top of all this, the wide-ranging register of Chung’s voice adds impassioned emotion to the songs.

The last time I spoke to Chung he told me that this is truly a transatlantic project, being recorded between California and Glasgow; this aspect of the work is evident, gratifying and powerfully relatable.

There is an encore of all things, a very genuine one, for which Chung is genuinely surprised.

They play ‘When I Wake’, which was written during a lot of toing-and-froing between here and California, “so it’s a nice one to end on”, says Chung, and he is not wrong, not by a long shot.

The energy with which set is played is higher than expected, but it matches the high energy of this fantastically joyous evening.

What characterises each of the bands on the bill tonight is character, originality, intelligence and heart.

All three acts are charming in their own distinct way, but come together to create a genuinely memorable and wonderfully enjoyable evening.

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Words: Paul Aitken

EPs of 2014

Daniel Mutch – Remedy & Therapy18 Daniel Mutch – Remedy & Therapy

With Remedy & Therapy, Mutch has managed to present us with five remarkable tracks well worth spilling out of any speaker or set of headphones over the winter period and we’d be fools not to oblige.


So Many Animal Calls – Burden18 So Many Animal Calls – Burden [Bloc+]

So Many Animal Calls are most definitely back, and they state their intent from the off on Burden, with huge sounding guitars and some well thought out, melodic bridge sections. This is a coming of age of So Many Animal Calls, who’s first EP since 2011’s Eulogy is a fine showing of the unique brand of Scottish indie they’re trying to create.


Foreign Skies – This Human Error18 Foreign Skies – This Human Error

This Human Error is a fierce and talented post-rock torrent that will not leave anyone indifferent. Foreign Skies is one of the best new bands that could be added to this already massive musical Scottish layer’s cake.


The Great Albatross – Roots14 The Great Albatross – Roots [Count Your Lucky Stars]

Originally from the USA, Wesley Chung of The Great Albatross has been seen bringing his fantastic acoustic music round Glasgow over the last year or so. His debut EP is something that not enough people are talking about; featuring some the of the most fantastic acoustic tracks, with great songwriting and a great voice, The Great Albatross is really something to check out. (Iain Gillon)

Happy Meals – Apero14 Happy Meals – Apero [Night School]

Where Happy Meals’ debut release Apéro differs from their kid targeting meal namesake by providing all the fun and colour without any nastiness. From first listen the organic natural vibe stands out, distinguishing Happy Meals from a majority of lo-fi electronic acts, whose identities often feel too contrived to have any soul.


Bellow Below – BIG WHOOP14 Bellow Below – Big Whoop[Good Grief]

Following a brief absence, Bellow Below return with a second serving of atmospheric math-rock, in the guise of Big Whoop. Continuing the themes of previous EP, Hooks, in less immediate terms, the band expertly weaves intricate rhythms and melodies with floating vocals throughout. (Kyle McCormick)


The Monty Hall Problem – Holy14 The Monty Hall Problem – Holy

Holy continued the Glasgow four-piece’s reverberated rock n’ roll momentum, while a couple of high profile support slots will have done their popularity no harm at all.


Machines In Heaven – Hindu Milk10 Machines In Heaven – Hindu Milk [Hotgem]

Hindu Milk is a clutter of weird bleeps and bloops tidied into the shape of an awesome electronic EP. While label mates Atom Tree took a more commercial route for their own latest release, Machines in Heaven went in the opposite direction and created something that sounds like a particularly melodic and rhythm-heavy 90’s Gameboy game dipped in production knowledge and a songwriter’s imagination; strange and joyous. (Greg Murray)


Skinny Dipper – Masks10 Skinny Dipper – Masks [Olive Grove]

Skinny Dipper are “Almost a girl band” because eight of their nine members are female, including their incredible vocalists who supply harmonies in abundance on this EP. In terms of composition you could draw similarities with the traditional aspect of Fat-Suit, this being owed to the jubilant and emotional sounding strings which contribute to an EP that is everything you could want from a Scottish indie-folk-almost-girl-band; really, really beautiful. (Greg Murray)


Cara Mitchell – Afraid of the Dark10 Cara Mitchell – Afraid of the Dark [AGP]

Folk tales that occupy a sparse and beautiful landscape; Mitchell’s hushed vocals and expressive lyrics combine to enchanting effect. (Brendan Sloan)


Hector Bizerk – The Fish That Never Swam10 Hector Bizerk – The Fish That Never Swam

From supporting Public Enemy to putting on their own club night, Hector Bizerk have always blazed a trail for Scottish hip hop and now with added bass and horns they might just be the soundtrack to its Saturday night out.


Polarnecks – Never Heard of Sports9 Polarnecks – Never Heard of Sports

I feel like the title might be a play on words/reference to Modern Baseball, although I can’t be sure; if it is, then it works. They do share a sound, although Polarnecks are heavier and less whiney. Polarnecks sound like everyone’s first favourite band; it’ll be interesting to see how they progress next year. (Alisa Wylie)


Poor Frisco – Poor Frisco8 Poor Frisco – Poor Frisco

On their eponymous EP, Poor Frisco find themselves channeling classic era Guided By Voices, commendable indeed; a tight and melodious band set firmly in the classic indie rock mold. (Brendan Sloan)


Nieves – Nieves7 Nieves – Nieves

Nieves first self-titled EP offers listeners a beautifully simple and stripped back record with mature honest lyrics sung in a warm authentic Scottish accent alongside an enchanting piano and softly plucked guitar. The simplicity of this record is what makes it so captivating allowing Brendan Dafters beautiful vocals and heartfelt lyrics get the attention they deserve. (Jess Lavin)



Come Cut Me Open has most of the things I love about music in it: slow guitars, haunting vocals and a hell of an atmosphere. The pace of the album is also a big selling point, if most bands were to write songs like these they’d probably try to speed them up, the fact SHARPTOOTH haven’t done this adds to the EP and makes them stand out from the crowd a bit. (Phil Allen)


Atom Tree – Clouds4 Atom Tree – Clouds [Hotgem]

A classy and assured young act, producing sounds that are both intimate and expansive. (Brendan Sloan)


Great Cop – Stay Human4 Great Cop – Stay Human [Struggletown]

I had heard about these guys for a while and I’d always meant to check them out; listening to Stay Human makes me wish I’d done so sooner. It’s a great introduction to the band and pulls you in right away. Though there are only three songs, it’s rammed full of big riffs and staunch vocals; cathartic, obviously Scottish, grimey – but not dirty – punk; also fucking great. (Alisa Wylie)


Cutty’s Gym – Sick Glass3 Cutty’s Gym – Sick Glass [Bloc+]

Without uttering a word, Cutty’s Gym portrays an unavoidable air of immediacy and anger in their debut EP. Building a following from a string of sweaty live shows, these four tracks present the band as a more exciting, yet wordless, Royal Blood, set to blister into the instrumental big leagues. (Kyle McCormick)


Tuff Love – Junk2 Tuff Love – Junk [Lost Map]

Junk is a masterpiece of pop and sublime vocal harmonies; the tracks are sparse but everything about every track is memorable. Everything holds together so well and Tuff Love have crafted one of the finest EPs to come from Scotland this year, let’s hope the follow up is just as good. (Phil Allen)


Pronto Mama – Niche Market1 Pronto Mama – Niche Market [Instinctive Racoon]

Pronto Mama is a band capable of leaving great mood. Niche Market is packed full of charming harmonies, hearty melodies and cheerful brass sure to warm your heart and leave with a smile on your face. (Jess Lavin)


Tracks of 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

unknown2 APACHE DARLING – ‘More Than Me’

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


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

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


MILK Halloween Party ft. Halfrican, Skinny Dipper at Flat 0/1, 29/10/14

Halloween is an intreguing time of year to see live music and always seems to bring the best out in a live show, so the MILK girls have made a return to bring us one more of what usually is their most riotous gig of the year.

I’m near the back of the room as Glasgow nine-piece folk popsters Skinny Dipper take the stage, they’re all dressed as crayons each with their own colourful cone shaped hat.

Their set is all very charming with the very cutesy costumes merging in nicely with their darling folk pop sound.

Still within the clatter of the notoriously poor sounding venue, the girls’ (and guy) pop sound comes across delightful enough, feeling almost like a whimsical Scottish folk revival at times.

Halfrican are up next, and a few people have ran up the road from The Black Lips set at Stereo to see them, and they don’t disappoint with hilarity from the off as the trio attempt some Bay City Rollers covers, while dressed as the glam rock heros with frontman Sancho Buna reciting “we are the Bay City Rollers from Livingston” on a regular basis.

Albeit the look comes of a touch more 80s tennis player crossed with crap clown (although drummer Jackson Marlette makes an honourable attempt after attacking a pair of pjs with scisssors frantically as the start of the night), but the fuzz filled sound is loud and invigurating as they blast through a set of face paced surfy licks, intercrossed with Rollers covers injecting an element of humour, well it cracked me up (and seemingly bassist Paul Choi too) at points anyway.

Halloween may well be a couple of nights away, but as Flat 0/1 clears out and Glasgow’s up and coming electro wizard Giant Fang takes to the decks, really check out his own material, we are shown once more that MILK really know how to put on a memorable night.

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Beth Chalmers

Skinny Dipper – Masks [Olive Grove]

Newly signed to Glasgow independent label Olive Grove Records, Skinny Dipper comprises of members from a catalogue of bands (Randolph’s Leap, Aerials Up, Quickbeam and Trapped In Kansas).

Collaborating on folk-tinged pop that uplifts through a gentle, ambling inter-change between the nine musicians, recent release Masks is a refined collection of Scot-folk songs.

The sweet quality of ‘Hospital Bed’s harmonies layer more like a classic Highland ballad/dance with a to and fro-ing quality, glorious falsetto vocal and strings harmonize with the building of drums to a calm climax.

For a band with nine members, the songs naturally take on a collaborative structure, on ‘The Kids Are Alright’ the soft lulling pace balanced between violin, tentative guitar and clear vocal bind the emotive purpose of each song so they blur the lines between instrument and vocal, all a vehicle for storytelling and expression.

Available on 12-inch vinyl and download, the release comes at the perfect moment for when the weather dips and hot toddies are the brew of choice.

There’s a cleansing quality to the purity of the melodies that transverse the EP, complimented by the kicking percussion, instrumental moments created on songs like ‘Cellphone’ call to mind bands like Yo La Tengo that do the whole sprawling, atmospheric juncture in the middle of a release so well.

Rather than jar with the rest of the EP, it offers a reprise from the constructed and shows the band aren’t constrained by their evident musical expertise.

Blending the purer elements of folk, indie and pop as a vehicle of their expression Skinny Dipper are not only musicians, but storytellers who have crafted a flawless EP.

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Words: Heather O’Donnell

Label Focus: Olive Grove Records

Having two of Scotland’s top bloggers behind a record label seems to make a lot of sense, but when Lloyd Meredith (Peenko) and Halina Rifai (Podcart) started Olive Grove back in the summer of 2010 they were just dipping their toe in.

Fast forward four years and they’re pretty well established and putting out records in pretty regular fashion, all the while sticking to the principles they set out with to remain non-profit and to provide a platform for the bands they like to make it to the next level.

When I caught up with Lloyd on his lunch break from his day job, that he tells me is too dull to discuss, I was interested to find out how Olive Grove came about and what does the future hold for the label that has launched the likes of Randolph’s Leap and The Moth and the Mirror.

As both Halina and Lloyd had been pretty intertwined with the Scottish music scene for years previous the two were quite familiar with each other, but it still came out of the blue when Halina phoned Lloyd one July night and said “I want to start a label, and I want to start it with you”.

At this point Lloyd had just been made redundant , so as he puts it “I had a bit of money and time to play with”.

“We got together and came up with an ethos, basically we decided that we’d release the bands we liked to almost provide a stepping stone to something bigger and we wouldn’t take any money from it, so it was basically just an extension of our blogs, cos it’s for the love of the music essentially.”

He laughs as he makes this statement, throwing in a “fucking stupid idea” and a “four years later we’re still not taking any money”, but that’s not to say he’s not happy with what he’s doing, running a record label for the love of the music has its rewards, but there is a lot of work to be done for no financial gains – it’s a frustrating life for people who dedicate a lot of time to help promote the music they love.

However, back in 2010 Lloyd had just done a show with Randolph’s Leap, who he now manages despite them leaving Olive Grove for well respected Eigg based label Lost Map, and it just so happened that they’d just recorded an EP, “so, we met up with them and asked if they wanted us to put it out, I helped fund that one and that’s how it started”.

From then on they did a Christmas single with Esperi and their first full length the following year with The Son(s), who Lloyd had gotten to know through the Peenko: “I’d done interviews with them but I’d never met the guy, I only actually met him about two years after we put the album out but we’ve met and we’re quite good friends now”.

Following that the releases rolled in, Pensioner, The Moth and the Mirror, Jo Mango, State Broadcasters, Woodenbox, Call To Mind and as I write this they’ve released Skinny Dipper’s debut EP.

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At the time of our chat though it was Call to Mind who were fresh off the press with their full length The Winter Is White, and Lloyd just off the back of catching them at T in the Park states “I felt so bad cos it was at that point that it was so hot outside and you didn’t really want to go into the tent… they sounded great though”.

Over the four years Olive Grove has been on the go it has developed gradually to a point where it’s doing “reasonably well”, bands now know the label and should have a reasonable idea of the sort of sounds they release, generally stuff with folky, indie twinge to it, so they get approached on a fairly regular basis about putting things out, but Lloyd is the first to point out that they’re more of a facilitator, aside from the occasional release where the label has recouped expenses most of the releases are down to the bands own budget, but whether they can afford a full PR scheme or a run on vinyl or just a straight forward release with the duo using their own, pretty substantial contact lists to promote the record, if it’s something the two of them feel strongly enough about they are happy to put it out.

Still, with two individuals known for there strong opinions on the music picture in Glasgow there are bound to be cases where they disagree on a certain act, and Lloyd is happy to admit to this though doesn’t want to site any specific occasions.

“Sometimes we’ve had to knock bands that’d I’d really have liked to work with and vice-versa, basically we both had to agree otherwise it wasn’t going to happen.

“I lean more towards the folky pop sort of sound and Halina likes the rocky bands so there are a few that we had to leave, that we individually thought would have been good.”

Still, their existing relationship with the scene sets them in good stead, indeed Lloyd states that most of the acts Olive Grove has put out have had an existing relationship with at least one of them through their blogs, they do have an email address managed by Halina for demos, but Lloyd doesn’t seem to think this has came to fruition as any the label’s releases, still, the defining statement must be “we won’t want to work with them unless we both love their music, you’re not going to give up time basically for nothing if it’s for something you don’t like.”

And of course the bands these guys like should already know they like them, as they will have written or spoken about them at one point or another in connection with their sites, that along with the very cohesive sound that the label portrays, which seems to stem more from Lloyd’s tastes: “Halina likes more rocky stuff, which I’m not so much into anymore but I guess I’m more of a driving force when it comes to these kind of things.”

Still, he’s eager to point out that having bands with sounds that meld together on the same bill nicely has provided a few positives for the label, the seemingly endless cross collaborations between the acts on the label, label acts successfully touring together and a couple of label showcases (at Oran Mor for Celtic Connections and at Insider Festival) have demonstrated this superbly.

“I know it sounds wanky but I like to look at it like a family,” states Lloyd after listing off all the various connections between the acts he’s put his time behind, but it is a nice way to put it,  the togetherness and willingness to put these bands together on a label you would assume makes it that much easier for the bands connected with the label.

“Who’s sold the most? Who’s got the biggest dick?” quips Lloyd when talking about the biggest success story of the label, but these are things that are difficult to measure, and not ones you want to single out, especially when he’s put so much time and effort into the output of these acts.

“They all have different sections of being my favourite, The Moth and the Mirror album was phenomenal and blew up out of all proportions, we were promoting that over in America too, so it was going crazy over there, we just got such an amazing buzz from them.

“Having Jo Mango, who’s already well established, her album did ridiculously well in terms of what we’ve done, we released an album by Woodenbox who are one of my favourite bands, I remember when my daughter was born, listening to their first album on repeat and then two year’s later we’re releasing their next album, but the obvious one is to say Randolph’s Leap cos I’ve been there since the start, they’re my babies.”

Having all the acts from Scotland is also an active call from the label and a logical one, they’re following was already primarily Scottish and as Olive Grove has grown their fan base has become even more identified with the Scottish folk pop sound, but that’s not to say they don’t get people listening and ordering the records all over the world or acts from other countries approaching them, but as Lloyd puts it: “trying to pitch a band from outside Scotland to Scottish people when you don’t really know them would be difficult, I’m quite happy in my own wee Scottish bubble”.

Despite Olive Grove records being purchased around the world the best order for Lloyd personally was perhaps the closest to home: “I think the coolest thing for me was someone ordered The Moth and the Mirror album and literally he lived six doors down from me, I’d never met him in my life and I was like ‘someone in my street buying my albums!’, so I posted it through his door and left him a note, and eventually got to know him later.”

Talking about the worst thing about running a record label Lloyd is quick to give a pearl of wisdom about starting your own label: “I think anyone thinking of starting a record label has to be aware that you spend half your life in a post office queuing to post things, that’s what I spend my lunch times doing, most of the time.”

But moving away from the negatives I ask Lloyd to give us the defining moment for him in Olive Grove’s lifespan:

“We did the showcase for Celtic Connections at Oran Mor and we got pretty much all the bands on the label to play live, so we had Call To Mind, Jo Mango, State Broadcasters, Woodenbox and Moth and the Mirror all playing the same bill and we sold that one out.

“For me that took seven to eight-months planning and organising, so to pull it off and pack it out just meant a hell of a lot to me, but even small things, daft things like radio sessions, The Moth and the Mirror got album of the month in The Skinny, which was amazing, but for me the Celtic Connections thing stands out, plus we did a similar one the year before at Insider, we took over the Main Stage there for a bit and that was a pretty cool.”

So, what’s next for Olive Grove, for Lloyd, as Halina takes a step back from the label for a while, there does seem to be a few things on the horizon but it does seem to more of a case of keep doing what he’s been doing.

“We’re in new territory at the moment where we’re releasing a second album with a band, so I’m listening to The Son(s) record and bits of the new Woodenbox record and thinking hurry up I want to get it out, obviously if a bigger fish comes along in the meantime I’m not saying we’d happily give them away, but I’d be really chuffed if it gets them up a level, but if not they’re staying with us and that’s all good.

“We’re also doing a Jo Mango remix album, it’s kind of nuts, she’s been talking about it for a while, it’s basically the full album Murmuration but it’s going to be called Transformuration, we’re going to do a limited run of that for Cassette Store Day, but basically I’ve said whoever comes with a finished album first gets release first.”

So, basically get your boots on guys and get the albums ready, Lloyd’s waiting ready and willing to wait in the post office for you.

Read the ravechild review of Olive Grove’s Celtic Connections Showcase at Oran Mor

Ravechild reviews for Olive Grove releases:

Woodenbox King LiarWoodenbox End GameThe State BroadcastersRandolp's Leapjo mangoJo Mango - MurmurationCall-To-Mind-A-Family-Sketch-300x300

What the artists said:

The Moth and the Mirror: “Halina and Lloyd have been like loving and supportive foster parents to us, they took us in and looked after us, never asking anything in return, we have been lazy louts… I don’t think we’ve cleaned the dishes once!

“They are really an amazing example of how nurturing the Scottish music scene can be, in the face of recession and a topsy-turvy music industry, pure love of music still exists in the hearts of the Grovers; they’re the best!”

The Son(s): “Lloyd and Halina should be so proud of what they’ve achieved with Olive Grove, running a DIY label takes lots of enthusiasm, energy and lots of time, it’s the sort of thing that tends to naturally take a back seat as the rest of life butts in, so DIY labels don’t always live long or fruitful lives.

“Setting up a label, helping wee bands like ours make and release records – that’s hard work, having a growing stable of great musicians, regularly releasing good records – that’s impressive, but keeping going nearly five years with the same love and exuberance they had at the start…. that’s something much more; bless both their hearts.”

Jo Mango: “Olive Grove records have been the most unique and dream-like of partners in releasing our music, their non-commercial ethos and their commitment to the music itself and its producers (and listeners) rather than the machinations of the industry is something that is so rare it seems almost inexplicable.”

Woodenbox: “We have always enjoyed a DIY approach to releasing music, the only problem with being totally DIY is you need to be good at constantly driving all the elements to keep things moving forward.

“Olive Grove have a really great ethos in what they release and the methods of support they provide, I am proud to be associated with that passion and believe those guys are well driven in helping to push projects through that might get neglected if it were left solely to the musicians and bands.”

Call To Mind: “I’m thinking back almost a year ago, just as things were building up to the announcement that we’d be joining Olive Grove, it was very exciting, especially since we’d been talking about releasing a record with Halina and Lloyd for some time.

“Within our band, we knew about the folks already on the Olive Grove roster – lots of favourites, hidden gems and songs we loved.

“The common denominator with both Halina and Lloyd is their absolute passion for all things relating to new music: whether its talking about bands, gigs, new sounds – you can’t help but be infected by their enthusiasm.

“They’re really personable people, often an overlooked trait I feel, and that was a big attraction for us really wanting to do something with Olive Grove.

“I’ve always found them both to be really encouraging and engaged when it comes to our own stuff, certainly for a time when as a band we were slightly rudderless in what we were doing, I can point to a few instances, whether it was a chat at a chance meeting in town or an email, where some positive words resonated and made me think.

“They probably don’t know that, but even very little things can help to cast aside any doubts that folk have in them from time to time.”

“They are both a valued soundboard for ideas and things too (nobody wears green T-shirts!), a lot of the gig slots and festivals we managed to play over the summer have squarely been thanks to them chipping away for us, which has been amazing.

“When we’ve had good write-ups in the press or little bits of airplay here and there, I like to think we’re making in-roads to paying them back, helping push the Olive Grove label name where we can too.”

The State Broadcasters: “We were really delighted when Lloyd and Halina agreed to work with us, I’d become aware of them through the blogs and through their work with Randolph’s Leap and really admired their commitment to the music they loved.

“This commitment hasn’t waned over the last few years either, and the way Lloyd is able to get through an almost superhuman to-do list (with the label, Randolph’s Leap, being a family man and having a complicated job that I don’t understand) is testament to that.

“It has been wonderful being part of a label alongside such great musicians and people too, the label has fostered a lovely community spirit – the fact we love playing gigs together, guesting on each others’ projects, going to each others’ gigs, it really feels special.

“I just hope Lloyd and Halina like our next album – I don’t think any other label would be both charming and as indulgent of our glacial pace of activity!”

Words: Iain Dawson

Skinny Dipper, Call To Mind, Chrissy Barnacle at Stereo, 12/9/14

Almost an all girl band (bar the male drummer), tonight Skinny Dipper play Stereo to launch their debut EP Masks .

First support act Chrissy Barnacle takes the stage to sing her strangely compelling self penned songs while strumming beautifully on a classical guitar, her songs tell bizarre tales of skeletons in love and of people copulating on rat infested doomed cruise ships but her music, voice and song writing are wonderfully engaging.

Her talent is not to be doubted with her well crafted songs taking on a journey going from soft and giving in to frantic in seconds, there is definitely a touch of Bjork about this Cambuslang lass both in her lyrics and voice and “kooky” would be a fair way to describe her, but hey, personally I want to see more.

Call to Mind, a quintet hailing from Inverness, have been widely well received in the music press on the back of their album Winter is White, musically they produce a full sound that is complex, layered and at times psychedelic.

Lead singer Martin Ross sat at the side of the stage playing keyboards, he has a soft voice which is unfortunately lost among the sound tonight, however it’s clear to see the direction and quality of this band and they will be worth seeing in a venue that better suits them.

If the support acts were the soup and starter then gorging on the main course is a pleasure, Skinny Dipper cram the stage with talented musicians, with a cello, violin and trumpet featuring in their line up borrowing  bodies from excellent bands such as Blochestra and Randolph’s Leap to name but two.

Canadian lead singer’s Alex Kentzel’s voice is simply a thing of beauty, her delivery is romantic and effortless and is harmonised to perfection by others within the group.

In new single ‘Landing’ these rich harmonies twinned with jaunty violin move the song swiftly along at a galloping pace from wonderfully loving and warm to toe tapping brilliance.

Keyboardist Gillian Higgins takes a turn on lead vocals to give us the simple and moving ‘The Kids are Moving On’, her sweet and impressive vocal range lends depth and clarity to a simple love song that had the audience spell bound.

Highlight of the night ‘Hospital Bed’ features soft flirting harmonies and an intoxicating melody that cradle the crowd and envelope them in an earthy goodness, the song’s twisted into a complex thing of compelling beauty featuring every member of the band culminating in a crescendo of folky perfection.

It’s hard to pigeon hole this band into a particular genre, but easy to see how they fit snugly into the Olive Grove stable with other modern folk stalwarts like Randolph’s Leap, what I can say is it’s mid September and this, to date, was my favourite gig of the year.

In a previous incarnation they named the band after a film from director Cameron Crow, with all their song titles being lines from his movies, recently he heard their EP and contacted the band via twitter saying “holy shit, these songs are crazy good.” 

Cameron Crow does not lie!

More Photos

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Words/Photos: Peter Dorrington