Tag Archives: The Van T’s

T in the Park, 9/7/16

Day two and the bus issues don’t reoccur, we are however met with a rather more rain soaked affair after torrential rains last night hit the festival site hard, still the news that Tom Odell and Bay City Rollers have switched sets, meaning I get to see some our local heroes for a fun time later on, sets my spirits that little bit higher.

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Over at T Break Domiciles are already in action and the Fife based five-piece deliver a powerful garage tinged psych rock sound that sets the early mood and gets a few heads nodding, while also bringing a few familiar faces as it seems a large portion of Glasgow’s music scene has descended on Strathallan Castle.

There’s a hypnotic feel to Domiciles’ set that you would imagine would mesmerise in a packed venue, still the band adapt to the big stage admirably and play a set as loud as anything I’ve heard on T Break so far.

My first trip to the BBC Introducing stage is for the act that opens it, and it turns out to be the set of the weekend as CABBAGE open things in rip-roaring fashion; screeching guitars collide with powerful rhythms and an in your face sneery chanted vocal that serves up an attitude packed set from the Manchester five-piece.

Their vocalists’ look comes across a little John Cooper Clark dressed as the cast of Friends, with the baggy trousers, shirt and shades get up, still he possesses bags presence and it’s hard to take your eyes off him as he spouts highly satirical attacks on the flaws of the country right now.

There’s a distinct punk vibe to the whole set, from delivery down to lyrical content, and it’s a refreshing thing to see this kind music taking a stand on a stage at one of the UK’s biggest festivals.

A frontman switch and removal of the shades doesn’t quell the energy, and the alternative vocalist goes taps aff and delivers an almost half spoken half screeched track, before rocking on a jaunting rockabilly sounding track about “death to Donald Trump” that culminates in the singer rolling around screaming; enthralling stuff.

Back over at T Break and Redolent is already on, allowing their bizarrely sunny sounding, despite the overriding emo feel, tracks to float effortlessly across the crowd.

The Edinburgh four-piece seem comfortable on the bigger stage as twinkling guitars and bleepy synth loops build huge sounding instrumental tracks that sees the band at their upbeat, expansive post rock best.

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Following Redolent, other Edinburgh residents Mt. Doubt open their set with quite possibly their best track to date in the encapsulating, huge sounding ‘SOAK’ and it does the trick, engrossing the T Break crowd as the band, playing today as a full six-piece, sound massive and fill the tent with soaring synths and Leo Bargery’s enchanting bellow, which is complimented perfectly by Annie Booth’s dimension creating floaty vocal input.

Recent single ‘Afterglow’ follows in the same pop edged indie rock glory, it’s a real testament to Bargery’s songwriting that having only listened to their debut album, In Awe of Nothing, a handful of times that the words already seem to be sticking.

With a bit of luck these guys will continue to progress and could easily make the next step up at a festival like this.

At BBC Introducing I catch a flamboyant burst of The Mirror Trap, the show is full of flailing hands and camp hip shakes and while explosive at points, it does seem a bit too cheesy on the whole, so I head back over to T Break for JR Green’s guitar/accordion led set.

The Highlands based brother have a real modern take on what is essentially tradition music and chants of “my youth is on fire” have the potential to be a real festival staple.

The Green brothers possess a real likable quality that’s driven on by the addition of percussion that adds another bow to their already engaging quality, ‘Nigerian Princess’, from their debut EP Bring The Witch Doctor, is the set standout, but unfortunately the set is severely disturbed by the chatter of a Main Stage crowd sheltering from the rain; apparently Jess Glyne ain’t worth getting wet for.

Back at BBC Introducing and HQFU is blasting us with clattering, glitchy electronics and it would be a real defining set had the outside clatter not been more audible than the quieter portions of the set, as a result it feels like a constant fight for audibility between the promising producer and a set of dodgems; sad reality of playing a smaller stage at a big festival.

It’s a shame as this disturbance seems to really affect the set, which is full of blindingly glimmering beats that would ordinarily see many a dance floor filled, but today, well it’s ruined simply by proximity and despite a number of signs being handed out encouraging people further forward and perks things up a little, but this is one set we’ll have to put down for another day.

Be Charlotte’s set on the same stage suffers a similar fate and for a set that hosts a series of impressive acapella sections, it’s hard for the brash sounds of the shows not to disturb.

Shame because young Charlotte Brimner’s voice is spectacular, still it’s credit to her that she manages to raise her set above it and the dancier numbers shimmer above the mire.

The set itself is full of the ever impressive and chart teasing delights we’ve become accustomed to; go see her in a better setting, you will not be let down.

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The Van T’s seem to do no wrong these days, well drummer Shaun Hood’s hair and get up today is pretty questionable, but tonight they headline the BBC Introducing Stage and raise the volume up to levels that any outside disturbances are drowned out in fuzzy glory.

The four-piece has the same bounce they possessed when they played T Break last year and with impressive new EP, A Coming Of Age, in the bag, along with a couple of banging surfy garage tinged anthem singles this year is looking pretty rosy.

Tonight their set reflects exactly this as addictive harmonies and pounding rhythms punctuate reverberated guitars to produce a set that grasps your attention and never lets go.

And as the three glittered girls up front look as much the part as they sound it, and their drummer maybe even more so, it seems the only way is up.

Following this I drift off over to the King Tut’s Tent for a bit if the Rollers, get taught The Slosh and have a wonderful time; I also get pulled along to The 1975 and Catfish and Bottlemen but neither set catches me as anything of real note.

More Photos

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Cameron Brisbane

XpoNorth Showcases, Inverness, 9/6/16

The showcases for day two start once again in the Ironworks and this time the free drinks are coupled with music; firstly The Pictish Trail and as Johnny Lynch enters the stage air boxing you know you’re in for a treat.

This is first time I’ve managed to witness Johnny Lynch playing in a non solo capacity, tonight he’s joined by Tuff Love’s Suse Bear on synth and bass duties and it adds a real lift in Lynch’s musician offerings.

Gone is the 30-second song hilarity, but the same mid song banter keeps things light hearted amidst the uplifting but full on dream-ridden tracks that are delivered.

There’s a new album on the horizon and you get the impression this could be something really special with a full band behind it.

By the time tonight’s special guest, Rachel Sermanni, is introduced the networking event has become just that, and it’s difficult to hear most of Sermanni’s delicate, hypnotic and dreamy laments.

Sermanni nonetheless is an impressive artist, and while this isn’t the perfect setting we know all too well what she’s capable of.

Forever is a band that we thought had gone, well forever, and despite being booked on a few festival lineups I was still unconvinced as their online presence was still nil, but turns out they’re back and with a rather new direction.

The now trio have switched up to an enjoyably glitchy electronic sound, which flows nicely, however one thing is a constant and it’s something I’m still on the fence with and that’s the vocal

Thing is though, it’s one thing that is going to win or lose Forever fans, there’s no doubting the twitchy accented delivery is unique, but as I said of them in their previous incarnation, there’s a real touch of Marmite about it; I can’t decide where I love it or hate it, guess I’m waiting for new recorded material then…

The biggest clash of the showcases comes next and I find myself in a mad dash, attempting to visit three venues in 30 minutes to hopefully catch 15-minute bursts of three artists.

The first of these acts is also my first visit to cocktail bar come temporary acoustic venue Scotch and Rye for beautifully intricacies of Chrissy Barnacle.

Sadly most of Barnacle’s delightfully intricate guitars, Joanna Newsome touching extravagances and generally hilarious mid song banter is lost in the cacophony of the noisy cocktail bar, which seems to have become the go to venue for those not interested in the live music on offer.

Over at the Market Bar is a different matter, as everyone is crammed in to the tiny space solely to hear the music as Mt. Doubt delivers a set that’s warm and captivating, while also managing to grasp the hugeness of The National’s live set and somehow squeeze it in a cosy living room; these guys seem to be doing everything right just now and this set only cements that notion further.

Sadly my mad dash mission fails slightly as when I arrive at Hootenanny’s The Youth and Young have nearly finished.

It’s a slower number that the band haves chosen to close their generally rambunctious set, however this short glimpse they manage to maintain that high octane energy that their set has become renowned for; these guys are one of the best folk rock acts in Scotland right now and their live show is one of the main aspects in that.

Following this I decide to give Scotch and Rye another go, sadly this proves a larger futile trip as Laurence Made Me Cry suffers the same fate Chrissy Barnacle and no doubt everyone else in this venue had before her.

I do manage to squeeze close enough to the front to hear a little bit of her set over the mire and what I get a hint of Jo Whitby’s hypnotising array of soothing electronics and smooth, enchanting vocals, well worth seeing at a venue where you don’t have to make a concerted effort to hear her.

Following this I was initially torn on whether to catch Breakfast Muff or not having seen them a couple of times in the past week, however a combination of the drink taking effect and just the fact that they are bloody brilliant makes up my mind and they don’t let down pulling out what might just be the set of the weekend.

The trio’s instruments swapping high-energy riot pop is a joy to behold, and new track, sporting the repeated line of “you’re not a feminist”, stands out as a future mainstay in a set that’s just bags of punk tinged fun.

Upstairs at Madhatters and Halfrican keep that same high-octane punk touching energy running as their reverby pop ticks all the right, riotous boxes for this time of the evening.

Halfrican is fun, addictive and make you want to fucking move; they’ve been promising bigger things for some time now, hopefully that elusive album will appear soon.

Popping downstairs for The Van T’s and I’m greeted by a mobbed venue, so there’s absolutely no chance of the seeing the four-piece surf rockers, but they are rightfully the reason why this place is so packed as they quash the venue’s questionable sound to irrelevance with their fuzzy guitar sound that oozes as much rock ‘n’ roll attitude as it does pop chops; we can’t recommend these guys highly enough.

Back over at the Ironworks I find myself bewildered that the bar staff have deemed tins not allowed and decant their cans of Red Stripe into a plastic cup. I. Only. Bought. It. So. I. Could. Have. A. Can… Raging.

Still, that coupled with a rather underwhelming set from reformed 90s Glasgow guitar pop act Astrid are soon forgotten amidst a night crammed with some brilliant acts and plenty of great people.

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Words: Iain Dawson

The Van T’s – ‘Blood Orange’ [Bloc+]

The Van T’s new single ‘Blood Orange’ is an aromatic grunge blend with contemporary base notes.

The song expands its reach with each spray of the soothingly blasé chorus.

Often likened to surf rock there are elements that make you picture a skateboarder on a Californian boardwalk, however this track has more overcast grit to it and a Brighton pavement too slippy to skate on is more fitting.

What’s more is that where The Beach Boys may have found a washed up engagement ring these guys would find a shiny condom – certainly today I’d chose the latter.

‘Blood Orange’ is finely packaged and wrapped brilliantly like a Wolf Alice song.

The distorted guitars rise with energy and the powerful waves do not stop as the heft of the drums pick up the pace.

This song has a “hall ass” approach that does not apologise and the tempestuous guitar solo pulls the single round full swing, in a “pedal to the metal” manner.

The Van T’s are an extremely exciting band to listen to and the scent of success hovers in the air around them.

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Words: Mhairi MacDonald

Wide Days Showcases ft. Be Charlotte, Best Girl Athlete, Elle Exxe, Tongues, The Van T’s, Scumpulse

Having not made the conferences during the day due to work commitment I arrived at Wide Days for, well, the best bit.

Let’s face it people talking about the music industry can be very interesting and entertaining, and there were some topics on this year’s agenda which I would have very much like to have seen discussed, but it doesn’t beat seeing a top live act and this year there’s six on the bill across three venues and all for the wonderful price of nothing.

Arriving at The Pleasance just as one of Wide Days’ founders, Olaf Furniss, is finishing introducing the wonderful Be Charlotte; I’m equally as relieved not to miss her as I am surprised to see the act that I considered to have the most commercial potential on the bill on so early.

From the start young Charlotte Brimner possess a likeable swagger and her output oozes quality, whether it’s smashing a glimmeringly modern take on the pop song or mesmerising the crowd with a breath-taking accapella cut.

Granted the all-seated venue doesn’t suit the Be Charlotte sound, but she does herself more than justice, and had she been placed in a more fitting venue this set would be a real showstopper.

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Following on from Charlotte is another impressive young talent in Aberdeen’s Best Girl Athlete; last year’s Carve Every Word album was a beautiful crafted, emotionally powerful piece of work that elevated it to number two in our end of year lists, so finally seeing these songs live is a treat.

Fronted by Katie Buchan would teams up with a full band, including her father, Scottish folk musician CS Buchan, who helped compose the album, Best Girl Athlete sound pretty emphatic, despite Katie looking a touch on the nervous side, but for the teenager, who’s dad just bought her her first pint in a pub today, this will come as she grows into her live show.

All in all she deals with the set brilliantly, sounding much more composed than I could imagine many high schoolers would in her position; she even deals admirably with some awkward, yet amusing dad chat.

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A short jaunt over to La Belle Angele for London based popstress Elle Exxe, the third of four female fronted acts on the bill, something which has been made quite a lot of, and while admirable for giving a spotlight to some of the many great female fronted acts in Scotland stating you’re doing it does dim it somewhat; regardless, I can vouch that girls on this bill are here on merit and not just a token gesture.

One thing’s for sure Elle Exxe doesn’t hold back on her performance, at points her vocals seem to get lost in the mix, but so full on is this girl’s spiralling, riotous presence that you can’t tell if it’s intentional, just a poor mix or that she’s that into the performance that the mic isn’t quite making it to her mouth properly.

A London based musician, who already seems to have a solid footing in the industry seems an odd choice for Wide Days, but regardless of this Exxe, who seems much more genuine and lovely than her onstage pop diva persona may hint at, gives a performance that’s pure in-your-face theatre, over the top dancing and dirty pop beats that could be huge with the right breaks.

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Next up are Tongues who certainly have the knack for a catchy synth hook, they also deliver their material with such an engaging pop tinged attitude that they have the potential to skyrocket.

If this Glasgow-based four-piece can muster enough songs to match the best they deliver tonight then there will be no stopping them; there’s enough soaring “woahs” to keep the chart touting indie fans howling along and plenty of interesting touches to their song-writing and arrangements, who knows where they’ll end up next.

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Things start to blur into one once we arrive at Electric Circus, people have by now had enough beers to make the networking flow that much easier, still I’m delighted that The Van T’s are only just getting started when we arrive.

The band, we have been championing since very early on, show just why they’re getting all the attention, with a full on rock show filled with surfy goodness and the ever impressive harmonies of the Van Thompson twins, despite being severely dulled by the murky sound of Electric Circus.

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It’s safe to say that Scumpulse are the showcase wildcard and the black metal act soon have the younger, hipper members of the crowd heading towards the exit, or at least the bar.

That’s not to say they’re not good, they technically are excellent delivering easily the most complex set of the day with ounces of punk energy that goes down as well with their diehard fan as it does those that give into their relentless power for the evening; I resisted the urge to mosh or buy a t-shirt… quite a few didn’t.

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Jannica Honey

EPs of 2015 (10-1)

20-11  –  10-1  –  Tracks & albums

10 Turtle - Push10 Turtle – Push

Jon Cooper aka Turtle’s EP Push is titled as ambiguously as the music that inhabits it. It’s clean, but somehow gritty, it’s beautifully mixed and it happens to be just a great show on how to write ambient electronic music. ‘The River’ sounds like it should be accompanied by big waterfalls and David Attenborough’s voice, and there is no circumstance where this would be the result of music, which is anything other than enchanting. (Greg Murray)

9 Bella and the Bear - A Girl Called Bella9 Bella and the Bear – A Girl Called Bella

The second official EP from Ayr-based duo Bella and the Bear saw them return with a fresh outlook and a compelling sound. Their traditional acoustic sound offers immensely intricate and beautiful lyrics paired with engaging rhythmic guitar and powerful, while their Scottish roots are portrayed proudly through spoken word, which creates a rougher edge to the EP. There is a timeless feel to A Girl Called Bella, a sense of wonder and excitement paired with quiet melancholy; a rare find.

8 Sweaty Palms - Hollywood Wax8 Sweaty Palms – Hollywood Wax [FUZZKILL]

Hollywood Wax is a dark yet jaunty garage tinged tape that captures your attention and slowly grows til you’re hooked. Sweaty Palms draw from a host of styles, but have successfully managed to corner their own as Robbie Houston’s snarled vocals possess an unrelenting garage energy that combines with the band’s eerie hypnotic power, while a touch of joviality means they’re rightfully labeled ones to watch.

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4 Tuff Love - Dross7 Tuff Love – Dregs [Lost Map]

The first of two Tuff Love EPs, Dregs is an easy listening pop filled record with subtle undertones. Tuff Love describe their sound as “aggressively melodic” and over five tracks the listener is transported to a softer world filled with light drum and guitar beats mixed together with the duo’s soft harmonies. Following on from other EPs Junk and Dross, Dregs welcomes the idea of upbeat and infectiously catchy songs, mesmerising lyrics and gentle vocals, perfect that these songs now all feature on a full-length. (Lorne Gillies)

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6 Outblinker - Pink:Blue6 Outblinker – Pink/Blue [Good Grief/GabuAsso]

Outblinker’s first offering was delivered in the form of a two track EP that really packs a punch. The quintet combine crunching riffs alongside mesmerising synth into a 23-minute experience that you won’t forgot in a hurry. ‘Pink’ eases the listener in before unleashing a cathartic cacophony of battling sounds and timbres, whereas ‘Blue’, with its eerie tones and hypnotic synth, offers a more cinematic approach. (Jess Lavin)

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5 Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - DILF_77 Would Like To Chat5 Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – DILF_77 Would Like To Chat [Chemikal Underground]

Dilf_77 Would Like To Chat immediately dances into life and it’s a real change from Moffat and Wells’ usual bleak affair. Wells lays down a disco arrangement that just screams Nile Rogers alongside Moffat’s trademark bloke-ish vocals. Moffat described these tracks as “too unique” and “too cheery” to be included on a full album, and he’s not wrong, but you don’t miss the bleak bluntness that defines this partnership. This EP stands alone giving a glimpse into a sanguine side of the duo seldom seen.

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7 Tuff Love - Dregs4 Tuff Love – Dross [Lost Map]

It’s no surprise Tuff Love feature twice here with tunes packed with disjointed instrumentals, fuzzy thrills and distorted melodies Tuff Love are no strangers to the DIY ethic, the two-piece always manage to capture their raw and unpolished vibe without ever sounding shambolic – Dross being no exception. The EP perfectly captures the essence of the band’s tight live performance showcasing Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear’s velvety vocals as they create stunning harmonies that soar over expertly plucked strings. (Jess Lavin)

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1 Hector Bizerk - The Bell That Never Rang3 Hector Bizerk – The Bell That Never Rang

Hot on the heels of 2014’s sister EPs, The Bell That Never Rang  further cements Hector Bizerk’s reputation as the Scottish purveyors of rhythmic exploration and the honest and grim truth. While they have been developing this style for a few years, ‘Skin & Bone’ marks an evolutionary step as they adopt a pop chorus, while on ‘Rust Cohle’ Louie’s words are more biting and on target than ever. These EP’s have proven their ability; it is only a matter of time until a full-length album achieves the same effect. (Liam Gingell)

2 The Van T’s - Laguna Babe2 The Van T’s – Laguna Babe [Bloc+]

Laguna Babe is just a tremendous EP from the Van Thompson twins. There’s a real grunge attitude that underpins the new sound of the band, somewhat of a leap from the acoustic stuff of a couple of years ago. It seems after the musical journey they’ve been on they’ve arrived at the type of Pixies-esque tunes they were always destined to create. ‘Growler’ is an incredible opener that will hook you enough to ensure you cannot pull away from the rest of the EP and, as a whole, it is just a right good record. Last year was a great year for The Van T’s, but all the evidence suggests 2016 could be even better. (Jay Henderson)

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3 Dune Witch Trails - Waving At Airports1 Dune Witch Trails – Waving At Airports

Waving at Airports sets the scene perfectly for Dune Witch Trails to continue their ascendancy within the thriving landscape of Glasgow and beyond. It almost sounds a bit like a grittier sounding Japandroids – even typing that made me smile at the thought. There aren’t many bands that could pack so much feeling and so many sounds into less than 10 minutes, but Dune Witch Trails manage to do just that. Each song is just the right length to showcase many great ideas without ever becoming tedious, helping make Waving At Airports our number one EP of last year. (Andy McGonigle)

20-11  –  10-1  –  Tracks & albums

Tracks of 2015 (10-1)

30-21  –  20-11  –  10-1  –  EPs & albums

10 Martha Ffion - No Applause10 Martha Ffion – No Applause [Lost Map]

Offering a sweeter take on 60s rock Martha Ffion has managed to grab a lot of attention this year since we first caught her support Jessica Pratt in April. Blending lo-fi fuzz guitar, sleek vocals and poetic lyricism ‘No Applause’ offers the both raw edge and maturity some acts have spent years trying to perfect. From this single alone it is clear why Ffion’s originality has received so much praise during preceding months. She also filled in for Sugarhill Gang at Wickerman; quite the year. (Jess Lavin)

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9 Halfrican - Life Is Hard9 Halfrican – Life Is Hard [El Rancho]

Halfrican, the band that were best known for their matching shorts and mixing together fuzz, garage and 60s pop released their first official single ‘Life is Hard’ during the summer. Halfrican’s powerhouse guitar pop really packs a punch and forces the listener to give it their full attention, whereas the track’s surf-rock twang adds further depth to keep you interested. (Jess Lavin)

8 Le Thug - Basketball Land8 Le Thug – Basketball Land [Song, by Toad]

The elusive Le Thug re-emerged at the start of the year with their first formal release on Song, By Toad Records, though each of the 6 tracks on the EP is just as mesmerising as the one before, ‘Basketball Land’ is a clear standout as it really showcases Clio’s enchanting vocals, which match beautifully with the mix of pulsing drones and electronic flourishes. The track has a real dreamlike quality and is both extremely gripping and powerful without being forceful – never begging for your attention, but capable of engrossing you in its sound. (Jess Lavin)

7 The Van T’s - Growler7 The Van T’s – Growler [Bloc+]

In the summer of 2013 I caught an acoustic folk duo by the name of The Van T’s at the ABC – little did I know that by the end of 2015, they’d be amongst my favourite current Scottish bands. Nor did I realise the acoustic folk patter would be patched in favour of an incredible, raucous rock reminiscent of the likes of the Pixies and the Raveonettes. ‘Growler’ is perhaps the seminal moment of what has been a fantastic year for the Van Thompson twins – a ferocious track that perfectly purveys The Van T’s sound though its outstanding riffs and atmospheric lyrics. It’s an unstoppable force of a song that rightly deserves a place in any end-of-year list and reinforces the inarguable fact that the duo will be well worth watching in 2016 and beyond. (Jay Henderson)

6 Miaoux Miaoux - Luxury Discovery6 Miaoux Miaoux – Luxury Discovery [Chemikal Underground]

An unapologetically-catchy, impossible-not-to-dance-to electro-pop track that exists as the crowning glory of an album that will likely be reflected upon as one of Scotland’s finest of 2015. Put simply: you’d have to try really hard to not love it, and even harder to forcibly extract it from your brain. (Michael Maver)

5 WOMPS - Live A Little Less5 WOMPS – Live A Little Less [Damnably]

We have been covering the output of Ewan Grant for a long time at Rave Child, and the truly pleasant chap seems to finally be getting his deserved credit. Rising from the ashes of noisy and productive rockers, Algernon Doll, WOMPS have had an excellent first year playing shows across the globe and recording their debut single ‘Live A Little Less’ with garage production legend Steve Albini. The single has gone on to receive a vast amount of praise and it’s clear why as it perfectly mixes fuzzy, turbulent garage with meaningful lyrics and melodic harmonies. The duo seems to have found their road and is now hitting it at full pelt; expect big things from them in 2016. (Jess Lavin)

4 Kathryn Joseph - The Bird4 Kathryn Joseph – The Bird [Hits The Fan]

‘The Bird’ is a perfect example of how strong indie-folk can be – and not just in Scotland.  Kathryn Joseph is without doubt one of the diamonds among the plethora of unconvincing, pseudo-emotional acoustic-y acts that have been badly waltzing around the internet hay barn since Justin Vernon brilliantly set the pace with Bon Iver in 2008, and she does so in a way that gently reminds us all that art needn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) be a forced experience. Mixing metaphors aside, ‘The Bird’ blends familiar and melancholic piano tones with uniquely compelling rasped vocals to hugely emotional effect, and is a must listen. It helped her win a SAY award, too. (Greg Murray)

3 TeenCanteen - Sister3 TeenCanteen – Sister

TeenCanteen’s ‘Sister’ is captivating, it showcases the band’s ability to come out with a fighting spirit through an intense and driven sound. In 2015, the band also raised £3456.72 for Scottish Woman’s Aid at their ‘Girl Affect’ event, therefore it is easy to see that last year has been a successful year for the girls. They have much to be proud of from it, and ‘Sister’ can definitely be considered a highlight.

2 Best Girl Athlete - Seven Seconds2 Best Girl Athlete – Seven Seconds [Fit Like]

2015 was a pivotal year for the precociously talented Best Girl Athlete with a string of both local and far-flung gigs including a tour of North America, and the release of her album, Carve Every Word, which received an overwhelmingly positive critical response. ‘Seven Seconds’ is a highlight of the record, with its charming combination of upbeat pop, lyrics written with a twist of melancholy, and a lifted final section that catches the listener off guard. (Ellen Renton)

1 Hector Bizerk - Rust Cohle1 Hector Bizerk – Rust Cohle

In a year where Hector Bizerk were prolific as ever it was this number that shaded their almost as wonderful ‘They Made a Porno On A Mobile Phone & Everybody Laughed’ featuring Pronto Mama’s Marc Rooney. While the fanbase and the seaming mutual adoration between the two groups drove that track pretty far, it was the sheer sneery, hook of a sing-along of ‘Rust Cohle’ that made it the true standout in another successful year from Scotland’s best hip-hop act. The track named after Matthew McConaughey’s character in last year’s, equally as gripping, season of HBO drama True Detective, is darker than a lot of Hector’s previous material as an Americana guitar riff gives way to sharp synths, while Louie’s couplets are as well thought out as ever. Absolute beast of a track live too!

30-21  –  20-11  –  10-1  –  EPs & albums

The Van T’s – Laguna Babe [Bloc+]

Like most I’m disappointed to see summer drawing to a close, however The Van T’s energetic surf enthused garage rock EP helps take me back to sunnier days.

Title track ‘Laguna Babe’ begins with a relaxed sound, however it’s not long before the listener is ambushed by twin sisters and dual-frontwoman Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson screaming vocals chanting “Laguna Laguna Laguna Laguna hey babe,” though it’s the fast instrumentals that really makes this track stand out and help get it’s resentful message across.

‘Feel, Touch, Feel’ has the same bitter feel and racing sound, while closing track ‘Another Sun’ gives the listener an opportunity to catch their breath and really listen to the heartfelt meaning behind its lyrics.

I’ve restrained from mentioning opening track ‘Growler’ til now as it is the standout from the EP, showcasing both the twins’ style and talent.

Its impressive riffs, sublime harmonies, atmospheric lyrics and buckets of attitude make it stand out above the rest making it more than deserving of its recent praise.

The Van T’s are a band that just keep getting better and better, leaving their listeners craving more.

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Words: Jess Lavin

Honeyblood, Martha Ffion, The Van T’s at The Art School, 18/9/15

For anyone unaware, Honeyblood is a pop-duo who are riding high on a fuzzy wave; they have an excellently melodic debut album behind them (just now gearing up for number two) and last week took to Murrayfield to warm the stadium up for Foo Fighters.

Martha Ffion and The Van T’s have been invited to The Art School for the same reason this evening and having heard of both through various social media channels, but unwisely sleeping on actually bothering to check them out, I go to the venue ear-blind, hoping that they’ll impress.

The Van T's

The Van T’s are first to tackle a typically timid early audience that doesn’t really reciprocate the grungy, pummelling chugs of the young rockers, but everyone moves forward when asked anyway and the atmosphere slowly shifts to feel more open and welcoming.

Fronted by duel female vocals from the Thompson twins, the emphasis of their sound undeniably sways in favour of energy over bells-and-whistles musicianship, but this old school, punky approach is probably one of the reasons that attention has been finding its way to them.

In a (very American) word: badass.

The Van T’s are badass.

Martha Ffion

Martha Ffion then takes us from the 90’s to the 50’s and 60’s, with the kind of sugary rhythms that white suburbanites feared would turn their innocent children into Satan worshipping sex monsters.

In other words, Ffion’s fun and upbeat performance channels the spiritual soundtrack of a day void of responsibility at the beach.

Her backing band also deserve a mention for being polished and rough-round-the-edges at the same time, and they add a tonne to the vibe.

Honeyblood2

The atmosphere once again changes when Honeyblood grab their instruments and get going.

It’s an undeniable smack of headliner-ness that fills the air and even though the two supports did well, Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers show that the live chops developed over the weeks and months of touring can’t truly be honed any other way.

Tweeddale is a chirpy, natural frontwoman and she wails the first few words in ‘Fall Forever’ with shiver-inducing conviction.

This first song more or less encapsulates what Honeyblood’s sound is: sweet, riot girl vocals; punk drums; reverb and fuzz laden guitar.

It’s a bit of a shame, but the audience (myself included) largely don’t seem able to make the transition from the awkward observer to the participating jumper-arounder that would accompany the music so well (though kudos to the girl at the front going mental).

Honeyblood glide through their set with enthusiasm anyway and Tweeddale gets a laugh when she tells that the song ‘(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here’ is about Glasgow “in the sweetest way possible”.

They play some new songs too, and though there seems to be some apprehension about whether the crowd will like them or not, they take their winning formula and build on it in a way that shows definite progression without trying too hard to create something new and fresh.

‘Super Rat’ for me is the absolute highlight of tonight, starting off with a gentle swing and ending with an aggressive punch.

This is the first time I’ve seen the band so I didn’t hear them with the former and original drummer, but tonight Myers absolutely tears this track apart, thrashing away and putting herself ahead of any other rock drummers I’ve seen in recent memory.

It’s genuinely a very inspired performance that absolutely nails the balance between playing to add to the songs and sweeping the room with high-velocity fills that never seem self-indulgent.

So inspired in fact that Tweeddale has arranged to mark the one year anniversary of Myers joining with a cake and some socks adorned by cats and lightning bolts.

The show certainly isn’t short of quirks, with a third member even being plucked from the audience at one point to play tin whistle on a song.

Tweeddale exclaims how lame encores are before a solo performance of ‘Kissing on You’ and they end on a high of fuzzy rock with ‘No Spare Key’.

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Words: Greg Murray
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

Electric Fields, 29/8/15

The journey down to Electric Fields begins post 9am and a ‘Happy Bus’ from Buchanan Bus Station; how anyone can muster up the energy to be “happy” at this time in the morning is beyond me and the atmosphere on the bus is as you’d expect from bed missing music lovers with not to many getting mad for it from the off.

Arriving a good portion of time before the gates are officially opened, even after a lengthy toilet stop, you can’t help but feeling an extra hour in bed could have happened and with the promise of showers and the potential of thunder and lightning forecast it’s going to take that first beer to get things into gear.

Once in the queue things start to spark up, as the guys on the gates seem full of optimism and banter and waste no time jumping up the line to check bags in advance, speeding up entry.

Once we’re in a look at the fact that tokens that need to be purchased separately to exchange for drinks brings back horrific memories of queuing all day; but a cheeky six tokens for £20 offer, the beer being Innes & Gunn by the (cold) can and not the usual warm watered down piss you’d find at any other festival offering a similar policy, a lanyard for a sole quid and that the festival isn’t quite large enough, or it’s prepared well enough, to not have any queues of note leaves these initial quibbles at the gate.

The set up of Electric Fields is intriguing with the two main stages titled Carse Valley, a bizarre blow up effort, and The Arc sitting right next to each other in order maximise the amount of bands that can play, while the smaller To Lose La Trek uses the same music friendly set up of the larger ones in system used at a bigger scale in forward thinking international festivals like Primavera Sound.

FOREIGNFOX

I begin my day down at The Arc for Dunfermline’s brilliant FOREIGNFOX, who deliver a set full of storming indie rock with soaring hooks fronted by Jonny Watt’s distinctive Scottish twang that powers above the bold instrumentals.

Watt could be found later wandering around steaming firing a ravechild tote bag over folk’s head and other things, but more on that later; his band touch on the poppier side of post rock and the indulgent side of indie, but the crowd that have arrived on site early are won over confidently down at a side of the field that could have done with a few less tractors running over it, something I’ll learn more first hand later on (yeah I decked it!).

On the other side of the field is The Skinny Tent, and here we find the stage that boasts the best sound of the day, as the tent seems set up to perfection to host an array of loud, danceable and fun acts from Scotland and afar.

My first venture here is for Glasgow krautrock touting psycsters OUTBLINKER, who look a much more conventional band on a large stage than when they were crammed into The Hug and Pint’s tiny basement a few months ago, and it seems they take to the bigger space with ease despite its light and airy feel and green house-like qualities.

OUTBLINKER do generally need time to grow into a set and with only half an hour to play with they have to speed up this process; they do this to perfection building from swirling noise before a monster riff kicks in and they smash the possibilities wide open.

Technically this band is gobsmacking, and they’re driven by tight and emphatic rhythms from a drummer who delivers with real attention grabbing purpose.

They do enter a heavily distorted mid section that seems to build for a bit too long, but OUTBLINKER are still maybe a bit short on material, give then time and this could be one of the best live experiences you’ll get.

Randolphs Leap

Back over at The Arc we get our twee dose of the day (sorry guys), and the sun is out as Randolph’s Leap produce a set of infectious, brass enthused indie pop joy.

It’s endearing, uplifting stuff full of charming rhymes that really shouldn’t work; it’s the ideal sound to take a seat and relax to, shame the floor’s too wet.

Early afternoon and those promised showers seem an age away, and as singer Adam Ross expresses his regret for wearing a jacket someone for the audience shouts “take it off”, to which he obliges as the brass section provide obligatory strip tease music and the quip of the day comes in the form of “look out ladies he’s down to his woolly jumper”.

Pronto Mama

The big clash of the day comes at 2pm as enchanting indie rockers Catholic Action take to The Skinny Tent at the same time as the pop filled fun of Pronto Mama take to the inflatable Carse Valley stage; I go for the later due to the sunshine and an impatience waiting for The Skinny tent to get set up and I’m not let down as I’m met with a live sound that is just as engrossing as their records.

Pronto Mama’s sound is full of soul and comes with an enabling touch of brass and plenty of cheeky funk that sets a grove while withstanding becoming cheesy.

Pronto Mama impressively walk a slippery path with a sound that could so easily fall into the pitfalls of becoming like so many bland Scottish folk acts or go the other way turn into unabashed naff ska, instead they come out with something truly infectious and original in the early afternoon sun.

Their set is warm and engaging and as Hector Bizerk’s Louie stresses to me “they’re the most underrated band in Scotland,” I’m inclined to agree.

The Van Ts

A late addition to the line up in replacement for the ill KLOE, The Van T’s get the opportunity to thrive in the sunshine and thrive they do; their set is full of pure good times surf enthused garage rock that oozes rock’n’roll energy in a truly infectious manner.

The Thompson twin’s harmonies sparkle in the open air and there’s no denying they look cool as anyone on today’s bill; a more than adequate replacement for KLOE’s soaring pop.

Fat Goth

As The Van T’s finish you can hear the sheer power of Fat Goth from across the field as they take to The Skinny Tent and once I arrive in the tent they capture me instantly with their sneery, distressed and devastatingly loud performance.

It’s impressive stuff from the Dundee trio who produce a frantic display that acts as welcome escape from the sunshine soaked pop vibes outside.

They tear through classic metal sounding riffs with pounding rhythms and an addictive quality that is difficult to match.

Another blinding set from one of the best named bands in Scotland; throw in a bottle of Buckie and some incredible drummer faces and you’ve got one of the most emphatic sets of the day.

United Fruit

Following Fat Goth at The Skinny Tent isn’t an enviable task, but United Fruit are more than equipped to do so and release another ball of fury into the immaculate sounding tent.

United Fruit unleash another powerful set that has become typical of their intense live show; on record Iskandar Stewart’s occasionally touch on whiney, but live they’re strong, sneered chants that drive impressively over a pulverising instrumental assault.

Following them, on the same stage, I get to cover Happy Meals for the second time in just over a week and the duo produce a set that blows away their understated late afternoon appearance at Doune the Rabbit Hole the week before.

Shrouded in smoke they produce an indulgent set of lush organic synths that cruise beautifully into a tent that’s just starting to get its feet moving.

Towards the end of the set Suzi Rodden jumps into the crowd and prances about while partaking in some crazed dancing, all while delivering her endlessly adorable French vocals, while Lewis Cook adds the synths from the stage, creating a tent filling brilliance.

It’s pure indulgent fun from a band that seem to be pulling it all out the bag, except the compulsory toy you get with their namesake of course.

Indeed, the one let down of the festival is you struggle to find anything better than a Happy Meal to eat; the four vans only seem to cater for mediocre fast foods and veggie options which don’t expand much further than toasties, but still this is a festival in its infancy, the good food will come; next year please!

Miaoux Miaoux

Bumping into a few folk I only manage to catch Miaoux Miaoux from afar, still their infectious synth tones and stick in your head vocal hooks seem to spark through the festival site contagiously and start the evening portion of the festival with a dance as the potential for beer weariness rears its ugly head.

The Twilight Sad

Over at The Skinny Tent and it’s the turn of the secret guests, who the festival had revealed to anyone who had guessed from a rather creative image as The Twilight Sad earlier in the week.

In fact it’s just James and Andy producing a stripped back set, which on paper should showcase the raw emotion that comes across in James Graham’s powerful delivery; sadly although captivating in moments, it doesn’t quite hold the same effect without a blasting wall of sound behind it.

Still, for some ultra fans, including FOREIGNFOX’s Jonny Watt who exclaims he would “suck everyone of their dicks”, the set goes down a storm and there’s a humour rarely seen on stage from Graham stating “I wish Erasure were playing, it’d be much better than this miserable shit,” while exchanging chat with the crowd.

Over at Carse Valley Golden Teacher suffer an out of place set in early evening daylight; last week at Doune they set the place alight in the early hours of the morning, but playing a more restrained set at a more restrained hour doesn’t seem to suit them.

Although musically they are solid as ever, with on touch disco tingling beats, plenty of experimental flourishes and quirky dance moves that keep things interesting, it never really lifts beyond that; if this is your first experience of GT live don’t take it by the book, go check them out when they hit their stride best; in a post midnight slot when everyone has their dancing shoes on.

PAWS

Following the festival I had a slight misunderstanding with PAWS regarding a word being taken out of context, still that was quickly ironed out and their set begins over at The Arc with drummer, Josh’s stool breaking and what appears to be some jovial chat about it.

I later learn this to be more dangerous than I’d imaged and in hindsight it seems to take some of the drive out of a band that is usually a formidable live prospect, regardless they deliver the same infectious pop punk glory as ever, but seem to take a while to settle, while the sound being a touch quieter than you’d expect and the rather static audience do them no favours.

PAWS are best enjoyed at full pace and full volume, with that full on urgency that the trio have come to embody and install in their crowds; still, regardless of any grievances the set is still plenty of fun and a great way to spend the remainder of the disappearing daylight.

Hector Bizerk1

Back over at Carse Valley it’s the turn of potentially the most exciting act on the bill; Hector Bizerk start on a somewhat sombre tone, not that that’s a bad thing, still it’s one of those calm before storm things as before long, Louie, hood up and unphased, blasts into an all out lyrical assault.

This is a band at the top of their game, as Louie takes the crowd under his command and the band plough forward with precision and impressive zeal.

There’s another airing of their ‘Song 2’ cover, which Louie adds a touch of freestyle brilliance to before tracks like ‘Rust Cohle’ and ‘Columbus’ blow everything out the water; extraordinary stuff that only seems to be getting better.

Hearing The Xcerts from afar is more than enough, but thankfully Jonnie Common is taking the stage just over at the smaller To Lose La Trek, a stage I have wandered over to a couple of times, but have not had the chance to see a full set at due to distractions elsewhere.

Common is a far fly away from the painful sound at the main stage, and delivers a brilliantly cheeky performance in his own addictive sort of way.

His set is full of dry humour, clever synths and plenty of ‘give a fuck’ attitude and the healthy crowd seem to give his set that extra kick.

Common’s CARBS bandmate Jamie, aka MC ALMOND MILK, joins him for a few songs later on, showcasing some of his solo material in Common produced ‘How2B Cool in 2014’ as well as CARBS standout ‘Stick A Flake In Me (I’m Done)’, and it’s more addictive stuff, in a very geeky Scottish sort of way; this could be the most fun set of the day.

The Phantom Band

Back over at Carse Valley and The Phantom Band produce a barnstorming performance full of shiver inducing builds and Rick Anthony’s deep, velvety delivery; I’ve jokingly labelled these guys The Phantom Bland before now, but on this showing that label can go in the bin, The Phantom Grand it is then!

King Creosote

The beers have kicked and the long day is taking effect by the time headliner King Creosote takes to The Arc stage, but the singer seems to be in joyous spirits delivering a set choked with a warming beauty that emulates most of his back catalogue and more specifically last year’s standalone From Scotland With Love LP.

There’s no doubting he’s the stand out name on a bill crammed with emerging Scottish talent, the line up is nearly all Scottish barring a few exceptions in The Skinny Tent, but maybe seeing him in the sobering daylight might have been a more uplifting experience, but for those with more stamina, or maybe more time in their bed, than myself this should feel like the perfect end to one of Scotland’s most exciting upcoming festivals.

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

T in the Park 2015 (Sunday)

Sunday morning; we’re a couple of bodies light from last night, as a couple of my pals feel the excesses of yesterday a bit much to raise themselves from their bed, regardless those of us with a job to do make the trip up following the daily Greggs cure and the trip up is relatively easy going.

Opting to park near where we parked the first night, meant no issues with muddy hills tonight, but we were anticipating a reasonable amount of traffic tonight as people head home rather than camp another night another, plus there wouldn’t be any excessive head starts are one of the closers tonight is real attention grabber.

I arrive at T Break in time to catch the last part of Be Charlotte’s set; having given them a quick listen prior and having Louie from Hector Bizerk singing their praises at me the previous night, had me intrigued to see what they had to offer live.

Indeed Hector’s Audrey Tait is delivering some powerful rhythms for the innovative Charlotte; all the while sky-teasing synths come in behind a vocal that carries as much gritty attitude as it does technical brilliance.

In the short space of time I see them, she raps and sings with precision and struts the stage with a confident urban swagger and bags of gutsiness; plenty to look out for I reckon.

Wandering over to BBC Introducing and Tongues are already in full flow with powerfully backed tracks full of soaring synths and the occasional captivating harmony.

There’s some nice ideas here from the Glasgow boys, certainly enough to suggest they could be higher up the bill in years to come.

Next up is potentially my clash of the weekend as the chirpy fussy brilliance of The Van T’s at T Break crosses over with the wonderful Bdy_Prts’ set at BBC Introducing for all but five-minutes either side.

So, I start at T Break and it appears the Thompson twins have come a long way since I put them on at Broadcast over a year ago; they have acquired a shit load more presence, yet that fun filled surfy energy still emits from their set.

There’s even corners of their set that angle into full on riot grrrl power as there ‘boyfriends’ dance taps aff down the front; these girls have been coming to T for the last few years and they seem in their element a week or so after their 21st birthday’s.

The Van Ts-7 2

Having to miss the end of the set to catch the end of Bdy_Prts I’m severely hoping I haven’t made the wrong choice, but Jen and Jill never seem to let down.

The crowd is pretty sparse, but the duo is engaging as ever as they syncronise up, clad in the same pink and yellow skintight outfits they sported at The Hug and Pint launch a wee bit ago.

Indeed, each time I see these guys they seem to get more impressive, their set has gone from stripped back quirky harmonics to full on aural assault, all the while the girl’s impressive voices remain rightfully the focal point.

Even their banter is in sync as the duo, who seem clear as day to be best pals just having fun, deliver new single ‘Cold Shoulder’, which floats and weaves with their angelic vocals, backed with that extra push from a rhythm section that enhances their live set considerably; can’t wait to hear more.

Bdy-Prts-10

Next stop is the Tut’s Tent for Admiral Fallow, admittedly I’m not the best guy to be reviewing them as I’ve grown tired of this Scottish singer-songwriter, gone full blown big sounding indie folk band, still Louis Abbott and co. seem as strong as ever and their new material sounds comfortable in the set.

I don’t have to particular like it to say that they are fully entitled to the stature they have achieved in this ‘uplifting indie folk’ bracket, they do it as well as anyone else out there and will rightfully come away with plenty of praise.

After cutting about the press area for longer than anticipated I ample over for the latter stages of Idlewild’s set, and while admittedly they kind of bypassed my musical intake first time around, what I have heard of them has always been of considerable quality.

What the set does lack for me personally, which sadly is pretty essential during a festival like this, is a familiarity; for a band that hold this level of popularity you’d expect to recognise a few numbers, however the set passes by without much of an inkling.

Still, the set is solid and quashes and doubts about Idlewild’s live quality, with Roddy Woomble looking to have not aged a day in the afternoon sunshine of Strathallan.

At T Break Benjamin Booker pulls a fair crowd, and there’s plenty of snarly, guttural energy to them too, it’s deep south rock with plenty of twang and load of drive, that injects a level of power into proceedings before Modest Mouse’s airing over a Tut’s.

These guys have quite a formidable reputation and attract a much larger crowd than anticipated.

Still, despite the large crowd and Isaac Brock and co.’s powered, but disappointingly quiet, performance, this is a festival crowd and one that are hard to tap into unless you play the hits; ‘Float On’ predictably gets the biggest reaction, but this is another example of a band you need to see on a venue tour, on their own terms, rather than at a huge festival.

Cassels are couple of young boys, but their sound seems to pack a fair punch over at BBC Introducing as a cacophony of pummeling drums and crunching guitar form a formidable sound that could easily blast them into the public eye before long.

Indeed youth is their benefit, but admitting you’re in a “shitty mood” when on stage at T in the Park probably isn’t the best way to warm yourself to an audience mainly full of people chancing upon you.

Stumbling into T Break for a bit of Crash Club’s blasting electronics, which sounds massive and draws a big crowd, but still somehow feels like 90s lads throw back and being relatively underwhelmed by the over the top quirkiness of Spring Break it was time for The Prodigy.

By this time the weekend is taking affect, and the sleep deprivation isn’t helping the alcohol tolerance, but this is the kind of situation that is specifically designed for T in the Park.

We don’t manage to really get close enough to enjoy the full effects of the legendary dance aficionados, but still it’s powerful stuff that erupts with hits that you’d forgotten about, alongside ones you were waiting for; no wonder big Geoff Ellis made them the centre-piece of his speech at the line up launch all those months ago.

We have to dash 10-minutes from the end, some of us have work in the morning, but that’s not enough to miss the rush and we end up caught in traffic for what seems like forever; still it’s another enjoyable year.

Granted I didn’t see the campsite, but a few slight alterations in traffic organisation, parking and layout and things should be going swimmingly next year.

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Bill Gray