Tag Archives: The Great Albatross

Various Artists – Scottish Indie Sampler Vol.3 [GoldMold]

GoldMold’s Indie Samplersseek and draw some of the nation’s best DIY talents together and give them an audience.

Pooling from a collection of different independent labels each time, the results are unfailingly eclectic and inventive.

The third entry is no exception.

This time drawing on talents provided by LP Records, winning sperm party, Lost Map, Olive Grove Records and OVA MATA, Scottish Indie Sampler Vol.3as a whole is wildly experimental, adventurous and ambitious.

Not everything works but not everything should, and the best cuts off GoldMold’s latest showcase are genuinely mesmerising.

Featuring talent from a wide spectrum of genres ordered by label rather than curated by sound, but there is a definite electronic zone somewhere in the middle, with tracks 8 to 11 following the same futuristic thread.

It begins with the hazy, white noise infested weirdness of Tulip Tulen’s ‘Superman’ before moving into the otherworldly, arcade game sounds of Tenhead’s ‘Teeca’.

The pick of the bunch, though, is undoubtedly Firestations’ ‘Build a Building’, which offers a slower, lyrical musing on the state of things backed by an eerie handclap chorus.

Sitting separate on the tracklist, Banana Oil’s ‘Zephyr Song’ and George Bruce’s ‘Blue Night’ are cut from the same jazz cloth: the former offering a sultry mix of horns, smoky bass and rapid snare drums, while the latter opts for a quieter, more stripped back piano bar riff dripping with melancholy and moonlight.

The undeniable outlier even on such a varied record is Kabobo’s ‘Dis is Sheet’, which begins like an answer to the question “What if your parents were right when they said all your music was just shouting?” and eventually descends into a heavy metal interpretation of The Simpson’s “annoyed grunt” instruction.

Over on the indie/alt-rock side of things Sulka merge a rough guitar-drum combo with sweet, far-off vocals for ‘No One’, while In Posterface offer the excellent, Pixies-influenced ‘It’s Terminal’.

Pocket Knife’s impossibly charming, sun-dappled ‘Fish Song’ plays offbeat lyrics in sugary sweet, lullabyish tones to create a musical equivalent to the visual style of a Wes Anderson movie.

The trio provided by LP Records provide a powerful close with The Great Albatross’ rustic ’20 Years of Slumber’ and American Clay’s ‘Second Son’, the latter offering an excellent display of the Scottish voice’s signature ability to dive between high-pitched highland yelps and guttural low growls.

Rounded out by Codist’s ‘Shaky Cam’, it begins with talk-through vocals over a lilting guitar and sounds like sinking half-defeated into bed at the end of a hard day. As the drums begin to rumble in and the guitars start to shred and shriek, the song snarls triumphantly out of its malaise.

It difficult to sum up a record composed of such disparate parts.

It contains the good, the bad and the ugly of Scotland’s independent scene and a number of tracks which could be aptly described as at least two out of the three.

The takeaway is a handful of new bands to follow and an increased respect for the quality of the country’s DIY musicians.

As far as GoldMold goes, that’s got to be mission accomplished.

Words: Ross McIndoe

Tracks of 2017 (50-41)

50. Stillhound – ‘X, Y & Dread’

‘X, Y & Dread’ is a very stylish song, which is very sparing with its sound, never over-doing anything, with electronic sounds range from punchy and in your face – perhaps even discordant – to subtle, nuanced and quiet. Stillhound have a distinct style, which this release suggests is developing into maturity.

49. The Great Albatross – ‘An Evening’ [LP]

‘An Evening’ saw light of day before The Great Albatross’ superb full length, Asleep In The Kaatskills, and gave us a taster of what to expect through a warm, tender beauty of a track that draws influences from songwriter Wesley Chung’s American indie rock past and his new home of Glasgow, while the addition of backing vocals from Jo Mango are a delight in themself.

48. Meursault – ‘Klopfgeist’ [Song, by Toad]

Much like a few tracks on this list picking picking a track from an album proved difficult, in this case Meursault’s sublime I Will Kill Again. ‘Klopfgeist’ is a hypnotic track that builds from a ghostly opening to a warm piano line and Neil Pennycook’s impressive vocals. It’s a shiver inducing track when heard by itself, but do yourself a favour and listen to it as part of the bigger picture.

47. Reverieme (Louise Connell) – ‘Ten Feet Tall’

As soon as the opening drum fill kicks the track into life, ‘Ten Feet Tall’ sounds as massive as it’s title would suggest. It wouldn’t sound out of place on Ryan Adams’ earlier work, with thunderous guitars crashing over a piercing organ wail as Reverieme’s, aka Louise Connell, gorgeous vocal flutters between tender beauty, and soaring grandiosity.

46. K Anderson – ‘Cluttered’

In a track that focuses on the cloudy section of relationship where you can’t quite tell if it’s something substantial or just a fling K Anderson has taken a step away from his regular material with a track that oozes pop sensibilities , while maintaining his wry witticisms. It’s an undeniably catchy affair with bassy squelch and plucky guitars that digs right in and has you tapping your feet without even knowing it.

45. Best Girl Athlete – ‘Cigarette Dreams’ [Fitlike]

It was difficult to pick a standout from Best Girl Athlete’s self titled second album, but in the end we’ve plumbed for the cinematic 90s acoustic dreamy pur your heart out along stunner  ‘Cigarette Dreams’. Katie Buchan’s soulful voice is hear accompanied by sweeping strings to give as good a taste as any of this fantastic release.

44. Bystandereffect – ‘Old Cramps T Shirt’

Bystandereffect is, if nothing else, unique, and ‘Old Cramps T Shirt’ is a haunting, bizarre, dream-like experimental single. Filled with unusual production techniques and effects, this single is rhythmic, versatile and enjoyable, whetting the appetite for any releases suggesting the “electronic sludge” outfit – as they refer to themselves as – has a lot of ammunition. Not showy or contrived but loose and airy, as creepy vocal work cascades over the unusual electronic elements nicely, generating something seldom heard.

43. Pictish Trail – ‘Strange Sun’ [Lost Map]

‘Strange Sun’ is almost objectively original; in terms of lyrics, atmosphere, theme and the use of instruments, this is a mature and out of the ordinary effort. A dreamy, creeping and sprawling piece, this is a bold single that wanders lovingly through decades of influence; packaging together something simultaneously light and dark, jovial and serious. This is the basis for art and – love it or hate it or something in-between it – should be respected in the music industry.

42. Sun Rose – ‘Smirk’ [Last Night From Glasgow]

Sun Rose emerged out of the ashes of Nevada Base this year with debut single ‘Smirk’, a rejuvenation of 80s synth with a nice Glaswegian twist. The track is so characteristic of 80s electronic synth its like a flashback, a friendly nostalgia that brings on inadvertent toe tapping and head nodding; it’s difficult to stay still when you hear this one play. At first ‘Smirk’ appears deceivingly simple, but in fact offers a much more interesting and complex weave of musicality; a spectacle to behold.

41. Jonnie Common – ‘Restless’ [Song, by Toad]

Questioning, dissatisfaction with the milieu and poking at working life are all themes of this single from Jonnie Common. A master of word play and poetic prowess, Common meanders through ideas about the world and dreams of what could be; it’s a light-hearted soundtrack formed around some deep ideas. The track starts like a laidback stroll on a Sunday afternoon, the soft drum brushes paint a calmness that juxtaposes the ‘Restless’ sentiment of the tune itself. Arpeggiated chords frame sweet melodies that feature electronic blips, this neat addition makes everything that little bit more playful.

Albums of 2017 (20-11)

Albums 30-21 – 20-11 – 10-1 EPs 30-2120-1110-1

20. And Yet It Moves – Free Pass To The Future

With And Yet It Moves you never knew what to expect, from jaw dropping experimental jam-like frenzies to full on aural assaults they are the ever encapsulating live band led by a frontman in Dale Barclay that you just can’t take your eyes off. On record that don’t quite carry that same presence, but is Free Pass To The Future they channel their all encompassing live show as best to can on record, giving touches of every genre you can imagine with a raw energy that explodes him intense bursts of power.

19. MC Almond Milk – Full Day, Cool Times

The postman from sunny Govan returned with the excellent Full Day, Cool Times, that through a number of ups and downs, show a real insight into the mind of this exciting MC. MC Almond Milk mixes wittily crafted lyrics, cheekily Scottish references with at times dreamy at others full on party beats. Lyrically Full Day, Cool Times sees the Glasgow MC take a sardonic look at youth culture, go on a nostalgic journey through his past, as we see him try to make sense of culture and himself. It’s a joyous listen from a very funny yet also very socially aware individual and is well worth delving into.

18. Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun [Rock Action]

Whether crashing tides of art-rock drums over scintillating melodies on ‘Brain Sweeties’, or returning to the familiar slow build of a classic Mogwai anthem on ‘Coolverine’, this record solidifies a leanness of sound that sometimes bursts into reflective expanse. The nebulous haze of intense guitars recedes in gentler clefts of quiet chorale (‘1000 Foot Face’), while tracks like ‘Don’t Believe the Fife’ pound through the sublime intensity that Mogwai do best.

17. The Cosmic Dead – Psych Is Dead [Riot Season]

The Cosmic Dead’s sixth slab of music in recent years opens with a meditative trance, a wash of modulating drone pushed alone with a jarring sparse bass groove bringing to mind the brittle dry tones of Slint’s Spiderland. This is on top of waves and gargles of synth mixed with the effected guitars, the tropical watery arpeggios bring the refreshment to the scene created. This pleasance this comes to an end as the temperature rises to that of a burning comet heading straight for the listener’s temples. Links to their live set can be heard in the closer ‘#FW’, where after the howl of what sounds like “fuck Westminster” the headbanger material comes out; the riff gather a playful side as a bit crushed hooks is typed out as the record draws to a close.

16. The Great Albatross – Asleep In The Kaatskills [LP]

Recorded over four years in various bedrooms in Scotland and California Asleep in the Kaatskills by The Great Albatross is a tremendously coherent and enjoyable album, worth more than the sum of its parts, failing at no point to impress, falling at no point into a pigeonhole and feeling at all times extremely professional. Despite embracing a number of popular sounds and dimensions, the album has a lot of originality, it is experimental without sacrificing its cohesiveness or purpose. Neither too light nor too dark, not too happy or sad, neither too serious nor too jovial, too simple or too complex, the catchy parts aren’t too sickly and the record has popular appeal without sacrificing an ounce of integrity; it is highly emotional but not sappy; combined, the balance of these aspects makes an exceptional debut, incorporating a wide variety of instruments in sensational harmony.

15. Catholic Action – In Memory Of [Modern Sky]

Catholic Action built a stellar reputation over a few years and their debut LP demonstrates their knack for killer choruses, it’s a remarkably well put together collection, with crisp, bright production and a multitude of hooks ringing out like church bells. At their best Catholic Action channel both the humour and the classic power pop songwriting of bands like Cheap Trick or The Cars and it’s when Catholic Action compress themselves into these compact forms that the best moments on In Memory Of arise. It might not be the most coherent album you’ll hear but it full of such joy enthused tracks that it has to be considered one of Scotland’s best in 2017.

14. Annie Booth – An Unforgiving Light [Scottish Fiction/Last Night From Glasgow]

Edinburgh based artist Annie Booth has received critical acclaim and continued to impress in her new release An Unforgiving Light. Booth is on point with not only her song writing, but her capacity to communicate many deep sentiments through her work. An Unforgiving Light will at points send shivers down your spine with beautifully concocted mellow numbers, but Booth shows mastery in her capacity for crossing many plains of musical forms using punchy lyrics, calypso like guitar at points to keep the piece both catchy and addictively pleasing to the ear, all the while Booth’s voice is showcased in her ability to move seamlessly across octaves while maintaining accuracy in pitch and harmony. An Unforgiving Light is the perfect combination of musicianship, meaningful lyrics and originality while still being comforting.

13. Sister John – Returned From Sea [Last Night From Glasgow]

Sister John has spend the last year meticulously constructing a grown up record that touches on pastoral folk to put together a beautiful record with conscientious craftsmanship. Even when the arrangements are sparse, light and airy, they are impeccably constructed; layered up and mixed together. The promotional material for the record makes the bold claim that this is a record that would sit comfortably alongside such classics as Neil Young’s Harvest, The Band’s Music From Big Pink, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours or Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate; the highest compliment you can pay Returned From Sea is that after a few listens this comparison no longer seems so far-fetched.

12. Monoganon – Killmens [Lost Map]

Killmens was another record that maybe hasn’t quite had the chance to settle in before putting this list together, such was the proportions of John B McKenna’s double record opeth that it was huge listen that just gets better on further listens. Monoganon has always been an exciting artist, but with Killmens it appears McKenna has hit real odyssey territory as he breaks down and blows apart basic masculinity and leaves us with an expansive psych pop gem that we won’t stop playing for some time to come.

11. Banana Oil – Banana Oil [Winning Sperm Party]

Banana Oil were an expected yet absolutely intoxicating surprise for 2018, the trio of Joe Howe (Ben Butler & Mousepad), Niall Morris (Sham Gate, LYLO) and Laurie Pitt (Golden Teacher, The Modern Institute) brought about a jazz fuelled post punk explosion, full of entrancing grooves and a raw unpolished edge.

Albums 30-21 – 20-11 – 10-1

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

Ten acts to check out at Tenement Trail 2017

Tenement Trail is back for another year and as they spread a ridiculous amount of bands over 10 venues and over nine hours we made some hard choices for who we think you should go see:

Catholic Action
King Tut’s, 11.15-11.45

This one promises to be a packed one so get yourself along early, not only cos Catholic Action are the last band at the whole festival and have a whole time slot to themselves, but also cos they’re one of the hottest property’s in the UK just now. The Glasgow four-piece are less than a month away from releasing their debut album and from the exuberant, glam tinged guitar pop the have unleashed to date the full could be the thing that ushers them to the huge audiences that have been edging to for a while.

Shredd
Flat 0/1, 9.45-10.15

With a live set that goes from Ty Seagall channeling garage pop to full on heavy riffage Shredd have carved out a reputation for themselves as one of the best live acts in Scotland just now. Expect to see the band being surfed over your head at some point; expect to have the time of your life.

Spinning Coin
Nice N Sleazy, 9.30-10

Spinning Coin’s DIY pop aesthetic has you falling in love with it from the instant you hear it. From luscious melodies to hazy garage, the somewhat Glasgow indie supergroup adds to the right amount of nostalgia and nods to their home town to have you flustered and the lovingly crafted songwriting does the rest.

The Great Albatross
Broadcast, 9-9.30

Wesley Chung’s subtle and beautiful acoustic tracks have been brought to real life as a full five-piece band now puts together The Great Albatross. His recorded material is a transfixing road trip of coherent splendor, however live there’s something vital about the tracks that give them a true glory.

Calva Louise
The Priory, 8.15-8.45

Based in London, but hailing from France, Venezuela and New Zealand, Calva Louise is a band with a high octane, punk attitude of a live show. They may only have a limited amount of music available online, however their surfy shredding, garage rock riffs and squealing guitars make them a live prospect not to be missed.

Edwin Organ
The Garage Attic Bar, 7.45-8.15

Variation is key to Edwin Organ’s sound, still everything he touches comes out golden, his slick, but not unbearably polished production gives his head nodding organic left-field electronica a real desirable sheen. At points it’s super catchy at others a welcoming hug that fuses soul and jazz elements with obvious dance knowledge.

ST. MARTiiNS
Nice N Sleazy, 7.30-8

I’ve not had the opportunity to see ST. MARTiiNS in a live setting as of yet, but their luscious dreamy pop sound has me more than looking to change this this weekend. From our previous reports you could see a set of tropical sunshine or sultry wonder, but either way this duo are definitely ones to keep your eyes peeled for.

Emme Woods
The Garage, 6.30-7

Emme Woods is a talented and witty songwriter with an addictively gruff vocal that transforms her live show from a punk show to a pink swilling blues-rock powerhouse. She also has her wee dog on stage with at all times, you had us at Bubbles!

Wuh Oh
Nice N Sleazy, 5.30-6

While Pete Ferguson aka Wuh Oh’s recorded material is a headily eclectic array of catchy samples, glitchy synths and a peculiar yet entrancing set of time signatures, his live performance takes up a notch both musically and in his bewitching presence; it’s playful, infectious and will get you dancing well worth catching.

Stevie Parker
Broadcast, 5-5.30

Reports would suggest that Stevie Parker’s live show is an immersive, mesmeric experience and that’s what we fully expect from her recorded material, a delicately crafted emotional repertoire powered by Parker’s rich haunted tones that soar with enviable ethereal qualities.

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

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

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

Sinderins

Rascalton

LUCIA

Emme Woods

Miracle Glass Company

Campfires In Winter

NIEVES

The Great Albatross

Moonlight Zoo

Harry & The Hendersons

North Atlas

Ryan Joseph Burns

The Great Albatross – Asleep in the Kaatskills [LP]

I make it my policy in writing reviews to be as honest as I can without deliberately offending anyone.

With that philosophy in mind, I feel it necessary to share that I was not expecting to enjoy Asleep in the Kaatskills by The Great Albatross as much as I do.

I knew that I liked the artist and that the band are good live, but I did not expect to be so transfixed by the release and to find it so endearing on so many levels.

It is very much worth exploring for yourself, it is of a very high quality in a number of respects.

Most importantly it is a collection of tremendously coherent and enjoyable songs that come together to create a tremendously coherent and enjoyable album, worth more than the sum of its parts.

I caught up with the head of The Great Albatross, Wesley Chung, who explained that the album was recorded over four years in various bedrooms in Scotland and California – something that he thinks contributed to the warmth of the albums sound; the comfortable familiarity of the surroundings.

Perhaps that aspect of the recording also contributed to the exploration of various tempos, styles, tropes and approaches in the development of the album.

Asleep in the Kaatskills fails at no point to impress, falls at no point into a pigeonhole and feels at all times to be extremely professional.

The music is able to move closer or further away from these its variously employed aspects wonderfully, allowing each song to be distinct from the rest but also form part of an overarching thematic narrative.

The songs are not too similar nor too different, conferring an endearing integrity and a graceful reminder of the musicality behind this work.

Despite embracing a number of popular sounds and dimensions, the album has a lot of originality, it is experimental without sacrificing its cohesiveness or purpose.

The various times and places that the album has been recorded across also likely lends it its variety and originality.

I’ve seen The Great Albatross live twice, in two different forms (once with three musicians and once with five – employing no less than three electric guitars at times) I have previously commented on the profundity of the nuance and subtlety that the act is capable of.

Come to think of it, their live performance to release Asleep in the Kaatskills made for a fantastic evening; all of the acts were good and the venue is lovely, but The Great Albatross really brought it home with a subtle and lasting quality.

This subtle, lasting quality has – I feel – been successfully instilled into the album; there are a lot of albums of similar decibel range that I can listen to a few times and then forget about – I don’t expect this to be the case here.

The album is neither too light nor too dark, not too happy or sad, neither too serious nor too jovial, too simple or too complex.

The catchy parts aren’t too sickly and the record has popular appeal without sacrificing an ounce of integrity; it is highly emotional but not sappy.

Combined, the balance of these aspects makes for what I would consider an exceptional debut, incorporating a wide variety of instruments in sensational harmony.

Chung tells me that – with the album being released here on LP Records based in Glasgow – there has been tremendous support for it, whilst it seems to be going down quite well across the pond as well.

The Great Albatross has all the qualities of folk-rock American song writing that I love without any crassness, hyper-emotionality or sentimentality that many of their contemporary artists can be guilty of.

Boris Smile – Wesley’s old band – provided Count Your Lucky Stars Records with their fourth release.

He said that with Count Your Lucky Stars, the album and the label steadily grew in popularity with the upswing of “emo” (quotation marks his, not mine).

He said it was like riding a wave, not dissimilarly to the wave riding he perceives himself to be doing with The Great Albatross, on LP Records in Glasgow with Codist and American Clay.

Having listened to and enjoyed some Boris Smile, I might comment that the level of musical and lyrical maturity displayed seems higher with The Great Albatross.

Chung told me – in answer to a rubbish interview question – that the album might be best enjoyed as part of a road trip in any season other than winter – “it isn’t a winter album”, says Chung.

The album wanders out to leave you to it with ‘When I Wake’.

It is only at the end of the album that one might expect to be rewarded with an overarching satisfaction with the release, perhaps like a good road trip it is only when it is finished that you appreciate it for what it was.

In this case, the road trip is a good album.

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Words: Paul Aitken

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

LP Records Launch Night with The Great Albatross, American Clay, Codist at LP Records, 2/3/17

A gig with a couple of differences, this show is a record label launch and was set in a record shop – the record label in question is LP Records, the record shop in question is LP Records – for the sake of clarity, LP Records has launched a record label, it’s called LP Records, and the launch show was in LP Records – located near Kelvinbridge subway station.

The shop is brightly lit and extremely busy, I myself am squeezed into the back wall, squatting like a mother goose over a box of records trying hard not to incubate them.

This doesn’t bother me though as Codist kick things off with their well documented brand of fast, fun, dynamic rock that keeps you on your toes, the best place to be.

Codist stand apart from similar bands – local or otherwise – by virtue of their vocals; delivering soft and well-balanced harmonies over the top of some wonderfully complex guitar work.

The vocals readily deviate from the speedy and heavy music, keeping the surprises coming, dipping into various tropes from various sub-genres.

‘Vitamin D’ gets progressively wilder, faster and more impressive towards the end of the song, bringing it back down nicely to finish off; were the high and beautifully corniced ceilings a foot lower, they may well have been blown off.

Throughout the set there is an awful lot of feedback coming from the amp, but it is by no means grounds for demanding ones money back.

Phillip Ivers, the bands guitarist and lead vocalist told me afterwards that this was the only issue as far as he was concerned with the performance from the bands end; and that he tried to incorporate it into the noisiness that the band goes for.

I would be inclined to agree, the sound emanating from their side of the shop is not only huge but pleasing and complicated – they aren’t as nervous as they might have been in this unusual space, having played there before on Record Store Day last year (how they met LP Records head human Lorenzo).

Ivers commented that he thinks the audience would enjoy seeing these acts stripped down to their bare bones, making use not of a large stage and a sound guy, but some amps in a record shop; this is after I asked him how the more or less static crowd had enjoyed the night – when you’re a sardine in a can all you can do is bob your head.

This makes sense as well, since it is harder to put on a good performance without the bells and whistles and the crowd appreciates that.

Apart from being in a record shop in aid of a label launch, one remarkable thing about this gig for Codist is that they were playing even newer material than that coming out on the EP.

Having only written the lyrics a few days prior, Ivers was glad to remember all the lyrics.

One of the good things about events like these and the current ethos in the city is that if you don’t remember the lyrics, you’re unlikely to be smacked in the head with one of the shows free beer cans.

There is room to take risks, make mistakes and create, that is part of why there is so much amazing music coming out of the city these days.

Codist end with a slow, sweet song called ‘Shaky Cam’, which is played beautifully, drawing attention to another string in the band’s bow.

The drums throughout are particularly alluring, the slow show-stopper bursts back into motion and allows this talented outfit to show us their musical money one more time.

In between acts – and throughout them in fact – there is a convivial and communal atmosphere; nobody is there to cause any issues – perhaps on account of how exclusive an event this is.

Everyone is trying hard to socialise without moving a muscle as we are surrounded by expensive materials, machines and merchandise; nothing is broken, thankfully.

American Clay enter the fray to deliver an exciting and experimental set.

Drummer, Chris McKeown, is forever looking at the other band members, figuring out where they are and what they are doing so that he can drum accordingly.

Described as “the maths machine” to me by backing vocalist and guitarist Ross Stewart, he underwrites the cohesive and dynamic roar of the electric instruments; all of this is punctuated by the distinctive and wide ranging vocals.

When the vocals take a rest, the music fills the space with incredible, winding and pulsating soundscapes.

They play an upsettingly short set, but finish it in serious style, making subtle use of pedals throughout to extrapolate on the sound.

American Clay’s guitarist and frontman Martin Johnston is most readily recognised behind drums, but he is the face, voice and part guitarist in this outfit.

His voice is reflexive and capable of operating well on a number of registers, low to high, timid to intense.

Codist and American Clay have releases on the label coming up, as well as a simultaneous release of the same materials on 6131 Records, which is based out of Los Angeles, and their music suggests they are nothing short of deserving.

Another release on the label coming up is that of The Great Albatross – a vinyl no less… I hope they can find a shop to stock it in.

The Great Albatross – the brainchild of Wesley Chung, who sings and plays acoustic guitar alongside drummer Calum Scott and Alan Langdon on bass – takes to the stage.

Chung says that we should feel free to sit down if we want; but obviously no one does – there wouldn’t have been room to anyway.

Great Albatross deliver the lowest, lightest most acoustic music of the evening, under refined vocals with engaging lyrics.

The drums and bass wind lovingly around Chung’s music, adding power and rhythm when they are playing, and emotion and depth when they’re not.

When the bass and drums stop, the audience cannot help but be entranced by the acoustic guitar and gentle singing that stays behind.

When there is less noise to play with, it is important to be more sensitive with the elements that you have.

The Great Albatross show great skill in this area, controlling well for volume, timing and pitch, creating an atmosphere in the room.

If we had sat down it would have been nice; it’s a nice shop, with a nice crowd inside it, listening to nice music; oh, if it isn’t all so very nice.

Chung is from California, this was only apparent to me in his discourse between songs.

He says that he always allows a sense of place to be written into his music, and that this new one is influenced by the music, weather and landscape of Scotland – with the washed out reverb sound that he associates with Scottish music moving throughout.

Half of the new album was recorded here, half in the US, when he lets Americans listen to it, he says they comment on the difference as compared to that recorded solely in the States; this is truly a transatlantic project which – if anything like The Great Albatross live – is deserving of attention.

Having never heard The Great Albatross before, I was a little surprised considering it was a follow up to two noisy and fast acts.

This didn’t phase Chung though, who told me that he was used to it having been signed to Count Your Lucky Stars Records in the past, being one of two acoustic singer-songwriter type deals amidst such acts as Moving Mountains and Snowing – heavier beasts altogether.

Chung was signed to them when he lived in California, whilst they were based in Michigan – I am given to believe that these destinations are further apart than Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Chung loves the fact that the label he’s with now is based out of a record shop he frequents, since it’s round his corner.

It’s been good having something tangible and physical, Chung tells me; he likes Lorenzo – the owner of the shop and the head of the label – and his approach towards doing things, considering him a passionate music lover above all else.

Lorenzo – apparently – has a good handle on music and knows why it ought to be loved, for Chung – and the other bands – this constitutes a trustworthy individual to be involved your artistic development.

All three of the acts showcase music of a very high quality in each of their respective fields.

There is an atmosphere of passion, communal interest and enthusiasm which, combined with the unusual setting and fantastic music, makes for an exceptionally pleasant evening in an exceptionally pleasant shop.

There are fantastic records adorning the walls and shelves with posters of some old favourites hanging lovingly from the walls.

Keep your eyes trained on this shop to make sure you catch the next big thing happening there or coming out of LP Records; above all, support your local music industry.

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Words: Paul Aitken

Photos: Christina Marie Riley

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.

[review]

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.

[review]

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.

[review]

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.

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]

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.

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]

SHARPTOOTH – Come Cut Me Open4 SHARPTOOTH – Come Cut Me Open [NUMBER4DOOR]

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)

[review]

Atom Tree – Clouds4 Atom Tree – Clouds [Hotgem]

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

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]

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)

[review]