Tag Archives: The Amazing Snakeheads

Album of 2014

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

Rustie – Green Language11 Rustie – Green Language [Warp]

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

Beerjacket – Darling Darkness10 Beerjacket – Darling Darkness

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

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

Algernon Doll – Omphalic3 Algernon Doll – Omphalic [Struggletown]

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

[review]

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

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

[review]

Honeyblood – Honeyblood1 Honeyblood – Honeyblood [FatCat]

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

[review]

The Amazing Snakeheads at The Art School, 11/10/14

Common conventions suggest a publishing of live performance should follow certain regular formulas; track by track blow of proceedings, perhaps a smattering of crowd approval/indifference, critique of artist performance and sound within the venue perhaps? And why not some cheap and lazy comparisons to the legends of yesteryear just for good measure.

However, such supposed conventions are there to be torn down and why waste a mere formula on band deserving of so much more.

Quite early into proceedings, or rather almost immediately this reviewer took the unprecedented step of refraining from further note taking, whether it be mentally or otherwise.

All that feels appropriate is to stress to everyone and anyone that they MUST see The Amazing Snakeheads.

While admittedly rough and ready, they have yet to display any evidence of snake like qualities but amazing actually may not even be doing the band justice, particularly in a live setting.

Without wanting it to appear blatant I am on the payroll of the band its pretty simple: The Amazing Snakeheads are the real deal and deserve your attention, its no exaggeration to suggest they could be the biggest thing to come out of this here bonnie land since the Franz first landed more than ten years ago.

Like Franz Ferdinand before them, the band are now signed to Domino and this year released debut album Amphetamine Ballads, and since then it appears frontman Dale Barclay is the sole survivor of that recorded output.

His manic behaviour at The Art School includes several attempts to climb the amps and introduce himself to the crowd via the mode of crowd surfing.

The ‘taps’ are ‘aff’ and fuelled by Glasgow’s favourite tonic wine Barclay and his gang sear through a pulsating set which allows everyone to forgive them for appearing a half hour late, indeed the only complaint left to make is the non appearance of ‘Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby’ on the set, which by the way guys, is just too good to not be given an airing.

Screeching through tall tales about knifes and vampires the band bruise The Art School for around an hour with a prowling intensity that belies their one album status, from start (with Barclay nosediving into yours truly) to finish (“here we, here we fucking go”) there is a menace and air of violence, which is soaked up by a chaotic public only too willing to venture down this darkened alleyway.

Anyway, I’ve said too much already, chuck all pretensions out the window and go and see them right now.

More Photos

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Words: Andy Quigley
Photos: Ruta Karolyte

T in the Park, Saturday, 12/7/14

Day two of the final weekend in Balado is more typical fair, in terms of Scottish weather at least, as the drizzly conditions descend over the well loved fields latest chart sensation Kiesza treats those early risers to a catchy synchronised dance filled rendition of number one single ‘Hideaway’, I wander past on route to T Break to catch the end Glasgow based Perth boys We Came From Wolves.

When I get there, arriving early today still doesn’t quite cut it for getting in on time due to the overwhelming popularity of Saturday day tickets, it doesn’t surprise to find a bigger than usual crowd sheltering from the rain, regardless the band seem to be hitting a chord with their fast paced, clap along, pop tinged jaggy rock sound.

I only get to see around one and a half songs but it’s certainly enough to peak my attention for the next time they’re playing back home; it’s then time to head back over to the media tent to gage the days events after early rush.

In the midst of the confusion I manage to somehow miss bolshy funfair popsters The Moon Kids, but do manage to at least see the second half of The Stranglers, or one half of The Stranglers depending on how you see it, and although the veteran rockers may not be the best choice for the youngsters they go down well with the Balado regulars and ‘No More Heroes’ ticks another big track of the ‘seen live’ list.

Over at Radio One Sophie Ellis-Bextor gives us a few disco tinged pop numbers spaced out by some rather whimsical newer efforts, while making us feel old by stating this is her first T in the Park since 1998, when you take a glance at her back catalogue this is pretty hard to believe since her rise to fame through Spiller number one single ‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)’ was only in 2000.

Still wether Sophie thinks she’s older than she actually is, 35 incidentally and looking good for it, it’s a fun filled set, but her dancing in a pretty much see through negligee, albeit a little more tasteful that Charli XCX yesterday, feels a touch inappropriate.

Still the afore mention Spiller single, a cover of Moloko’s ‘Sing It Back’ and her best known solo effort ‘Murder On The Dance Floor’ boost up the disco vibes and get the good times feeling flowing before as and Sophie herself puts it: “like Mary Poppins I fly away”.

Back over at the Main Stage the dubstep infected pop of Katy B is a graspingly infectious follow up, as the Londoner’s distinct accent washes over gathering crowd, who’re enjoying a rare dry spell.

B is joined by four black and white clad dancers and puts on a very active display, strutting and skipping around the stage while giving us her enjoyable pop tinged spin on many London based dance movements.

Her more urban effected tracks get the biggest reaction this afternoon, as break out 2010 singles ‘Katy On A Mission’ and ‘Lights On’ spark a massive reaction from the ever growing Main Stage audience.

Over at T Break I catch two non ‘T Break’ acts back to back, the first of which is Berkshire raised, pixie cropped teenager Chloe Howl who twitches around the stage in almost hyperactive fashion, while delivering some shimmering electronic pop in her distinct southern English accent.

She’s certainly not off putting for those sheltering from the weather and with a major label behind her it wouldn’t be a surprise if this girl was massive in years in come.

The infectious pop rock of Aussie’s The Jezabels follows at the same stage, and the band who have been making waves on touring with Depeche Mode and the Pixies do themselves no harm today as singer Hayley Mary flows across the stage delivering powerful vocals akin to Stevie Nicks in delivery, while also managing to hit high notes Kate Bush would be proud of.

Chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” from the crowd are shunned by the band not wanting to stereotyped like their countrymen in the crowd, instead they move through a set of building rockers that would have people of all ages hooked.

Mary gives her fellow Aussie’s a slightly back handed nod by saying “thanks for the flag but put it down now”, before giving a nod to September’s referendum and then finishing on the soaring ‘A Little Piece’.

It’s then time to play count the bucket hats as Manchester Britpop forerunners and T in the Park regulars James deliver the typical fun filled singalong as hits like ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Laid’ ring around the festival well after the set is done.

Over at BBC Introducing, a stage featuring less Scottish acts than it did last year, possibly down to the acts that got a shot at Big Weekend in Glasgow back in May, Dundee’s Copper Lungs play to a mobbed tent and look like they’re in their element.

The four-piece’s pop edged post-hardcore sounds perfectly at home in these surroundings and with room to spare, live all the whiney edges of the records that make them somewhat of a acquired taste are shaved off and the raw energetic performance is a joy to behold, enough to convince anyone that if they continue on the same projectory they’ll get to play bigger stages than this in years to come.

The Amazing Snakeheads close off Introducing tonight and the band that are so often given the Marmite description prove that whether you love them or hate them they’re certainly not dull with performance that riles the crowd into sheer frenzy.

It’s high octane stuff from start to finish as Dale Barclay’s sneery punk delivery and maddened grin are offset perfectly by William Coombe’s bouncing bass and slithering movements, it’s in your face psychedelic rock that moves from rockabilly to punk in the blink of an eye and would scare many watching Rudimental over at the Main Stage.

But as Barclay swigs a bottle of Buckfast and passes to along the front row and mosh pits break loose, these Glasgow boys prove they are anything but boring.

Next up is the most difficult choice of the evening as Pharrell Williams and The Human League’s set run into one another, but as Pharrell has a good 20-minute start on the Sheffield new wavers we start off at the Main Stage and see how it goes.

As you would expect it’s infectious stuff and Pharrell in that now iconic hat struts around the stage knowing just how cool he is opening with Daft Punk’s ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’; it’s amazing to consider Pharrell’s back catalogue and still hard to believe that he’s in his 40s, but as the torrential rain blasts down Pharrell’s funk filled festival friendly set is exactly what is needed.

A quick rendition of Nelly’s ‘Hot In Herre’ from his production back catalogue heats things up before the man of the moment lifts the crowd again, recognising the horrid condition and shouting “you are officially here to party” before introducing a couple of N.E.R.D numbers.

Giving a nod to the crowd’s “relentless Scottish energy” Pharrell introducing his dance crew, The Babes, who break loose as we get a run through or some of Pharrell’s biggest production hits, including Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollerback Girl’ and Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop Like It’s Hot’, before performing Robin Thicke’s anthem ‘Blurred Lines’.

As I make my way over towards the King Tut’s Tent Pharrell brings Pinkie on stage, a girl who he announces “beat cancer” and as she receives a tearful hug from Virginia born superstar it’s a moment to step back to take check of what happening before ‘Happy’ launches the crowd to feverous joy once again.

Still as good as Pharrell is, nothing could quite prepare you for the glory of The Human League, who stamp their mark on the festival and leave the Arctic Monkeys with a lot to do if they want the glory of being Yorkshire’s favourite sons in Balado this weekend.

After getting a touch carried away with the hit after hit of Pharrell I arrive a good portion into their set, something instantly regreted as I arrive to the new wave glory of ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, which proves just how good Phil Oakey and co are some 37-years in their career.

The packed tent is electric and the crowd are hanging off every word in a sheer party atmosphere, the huge cheer for “this is a song by my friend Giorgio Moroder” is glorious as Oakey’s track with the Italo disco legend ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ produces an emphatic dance along that is only topped by the the crowd singing every word to iconic hit ‘Don’t You Want Me’ before Oakey had even picked up the mike again.

The singalong continues long after the band have left the stage, but leaves a somewhat odd feeling that the should be headliners have already happened.

Like last night I end my night on a triple bill of T Break, starting with the glitchy electronic of Glasgow trio Atom Tree, and after only forming a year ago their beautiful soundscapes are getting the justification they deserve much sooner than expected.

It’s a somewhat no frills live performance as the band let their haunting pulses do the talking, vocalist Julie Knox is almost stranded behind a table as she takes to synth duties when she could provide the act with a focal point that would add that extra element.

Still, after a hesitant start Knox’s sultry vocals are as captivating as the electronics, at time channeling Beach House’s Victoria Legrand as you lose yourself in a glistening electro daze.

It’s a whole different escape as Dundee’s Fat Goth prepare to take their stage, their press shot appearing on the screens looking much like something Dick Valentine would come away with; yes it’s brash, hilarious and rock ‘n’ roll, everything that the band themselves portray in vast quantities, they must not take themselves too seriously with a moniker such as Fat Goth, right?

They even have their own entrance music, it’s wonderfully theatrical stuff even before the band start blasting their heavy metal riffs and infectiously urgent delivery as their tongue in cheek attitude makes them all the more likeable as people show face that wouldn’t necessarily listen to a band with such a heavy sound.

They don’t quite have the stage banter that you would expect from other bands of their ilk, but hilarity aside there’s distinct quality to these Dundonian’s output that would hook any adamant heavy metal fans as easily as it would someone looking for something a little more jovial than Elbow’s rather dull alt rock seemingly as performed by the cast of Shameless just outside.

Edinburgh’s guitar-laptop/drums duo Birdhead close off T Break on Saturday night with some pulsing bolshie krautrock inspired grooves and sparing but hooky shouted vocals from engaging frontman Stephen Donkin.

These guys manage to pull a bigger crowd than Tuff Love did last night, but it’s still not enough to do them justice as they sound massive for a duo and their uptempo sound in entrancing and much better than anything else on offer at the three big stages.

It is worth noting that as the rain hits us at it’s heaviest Calvin Harris brings Will Smith on stage to introduce him, not something that I manage to see but the Fresh Prince doesn’t perform any of his own hits so we’re putting that down as a let down avoided rather than some missed fun.

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Bill Gray

The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads [Domino]

From the record label that brought you arguably the most lauded album of last year – Arctic Monkey’s AM – going by the end of year lists alone, comes the debut album from the rambunctious Glaswegian outfit The Amazing Snakeheads.

As the trio’s Facebook description simply puts, “Don’t judge a book…” some words to take heed of as the record’s opener ‘I’m A Vampire’ jars your expectations with a healthy of dose of Dale Barclay’s venomous vocals (unless you’re already familiar that is).

The first half of the record swaggers along in a haze of aurally offensive vocal deliveries and laboured yet determined musical arrangements; if the band’s black and white press photos didn’t scream “cult British gangster film villains” enough, then this album as the soundtrack is sure to seal the rather slanderous deal.

That’s not at all to say that Amphetamine Ballads is an awful record, it just takes some warming to is all and following a number of listens and a full appreciation of its delightfully refined latter half, this album is undoubtedly one to be treasured if it appeals to your sense of artistry.

“Refined” here, relating to the album’s second half, refers to the lavish instrumentation compared with previous tracks, as flourishes of brass lift The Amazing Snakeheads brash musical trade to something all the more sultry.

An unavoidable characteristic of Amphetamine Ballads, and The Amazing Snakeheads in general, is that guttural Glaswegian twang of Barclay, which has a recognisability akin to Aidan Moffat or even The Twilight Sad’s James Graham, unfortunately it’s infinitely more likely to be a “Marmite affair” in this case.

A bipolar record, of anguished lows and soared highs, The Amazing Snakeheads’ debut is set to divide critics and fans due to the uncompromising delivery, however on the grounds of musical merit and ingenuity (and the epic proportions of penultimate track ‘Heading For Heartbreak’) alone this is a assured debut that will likely plant the trio on the side of the fence where the grass is very much greener.

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Words: Kyle McCormick