Tag Archives: Vasa

Vasa – Colours [Black Sheep]

Vasa are unlike any other band you will year, and that is meant as a compliment of the highest order.

Colours is the culmination of over three hard years of work from the Glasgow quartet whose frenetic upbeat instrumental rock sticks out from the crowd as one of the standout releases of the year.

From the first song to the last, Colours is unforgiving and relentless.

This record takes you on a journey full of colour and variety, showcasing instrumental rock at its very best.

There is so much going on throughout that it may seem daunting to unexpected ears, however I urge you to stick with it, after the first few minutes its clear what Vasa are going for here.

‘Fat Ronaldo’ provides an early highlight, the complex guitar riffs intertwine seamlessly at an ear piercing volume and frequency, yet somehow remain as catchy as anything in the top 40.

The rhythm section plays an equally as important role in moving this behemoth of a track forward.

The combination of huge half time drums and massive six string bass sound provide an extremely heavy backdrop for the splashes of guitar brilliance.

‘Punched’ sees yet more pulverising cymbals before a neat reverse delay riff creeps in, providing a moment of respite amongst this colourful battle.

It showcases another side to Vasa that is every bit as essential to their sound as the heavier songs.

‘The Angry Dome’ is perhaps the best example of both elements of Vasa’s sound; the dreamy, hard hitting intro riff gives way to an even more dream like reverb soaked section, in which there is so much going on you barely realise there isn’t any vocals as a central melodic focus.

‘Poseidon’s Kiss’ finishes the album with six-minutes of absolutely epic proportions; in a genre that is often dismissed as boring or “samey” Vasa have managed to carve out a unique and exciting sound that will engage everyone from serious post rock fans to fans of any rock music whatsoever.

They miraculously manage to make their music sound Scottish without any vocals, now that is a real talent!

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Words: Andy McGonigle

Tracks of 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unknown2 APACHE DARLING – ‘More Than Me’

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

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

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

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Various Artists – Bloc+ Compilation #1 [Bloc+]

Bar Bloc have released the first of four free compilation albums via their Bloc+ label featuring a showcase of innovative artists.

The compilation was born from the venues commitment to nurturing up and coming bands that are struggling to get their music out there due to the pressures of the industry.

The bar runs an abundance of initiatives to help local bands such as; subsiding the loans of touring vans and the Bloc+Music label, which gives artists complete creative freedom to counteract the restrictions that new bands encounter with major labels.

The Bloc+ compilation series is yet another way in which the bar provides their financial support to give a platform to the most talented and inspiring musicians that have graced their stage and whose sound they want to be heard by a bigger audience.

The album features an eclectic mix of artists and genres, which manifests together to create an image of the current underground scene that Scotland has to offer.

Kicking off with Adam Strafford’s ‘Vanishing Tanks’, the award winning short film and solo artist, allows mystical vocal arrangements to perfectly start the album off.

Next up is the Deathcats with ‘Solid’, which epitomises their dreamy, surf rock, punk sound and ‘Fossils’ by Tetra that mixes electronic beats over a solid foundation of rock principles.

What makes the compilation so unique is the wide variety of purely instrumental bands that are on show; ‘Basehead’ by Cuttys Gym, ‘Not a Cop’ by Vasa, ‘Trich’ by Young Philadelphia and the pun-filled ‘Generic Clapton’ by The Gastric Band.

These purely instrumental tracks weave intricate drum loops over massive hooks and rhythms that produce the perfectly complex math rock to dance to.

The tone is brought down a notch with alternative rockers Verse Metrics with their sombre ‘Aches’ and Thula Borah’s ‘Bone Ships’ that both encompass sultry lyrics with melancholic guitars.

A surprise highlight is ‘When The Girl Comes To Town’ by Chris Devotion and The Expectations, which is a joyous lyrical ode nestled among a juxtaposition of the bubbly and the edgy.

If you are sick of current musical offerings and are seeking some grassroots music from a grassroots label, then look no further than the Bloc+ compilations as the label has offered a smorgasbord of new music, with three more offerings still to come.

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Words: Katharine Gemmell

Algernon Doll (Album Launch), Vasa, Wolves at Heart, Lost Limbs at Broadcast, 21/6/14

Lost Limbs open tonight’s show with a loud, abrasive, and complex sound that falls somewhere between the scream revival sound which has swept over the alternative scene and math-rock.

Tonight they’re enjoyable but nothing really stands out, perhaps this is down to them being so earlier in their lifecycle, we can only wait and see.

Next band Wolves At Heart have more than made their stamp on the local pop punk scene, although I’m sure they’d argue they’ve not.

Tonight they are without their regular drummer, so are joined by Bear Arms’ Dean Louden, who has filled almost every position in the band (except vocals) in the past and the chemistry between the members shines through as they confidently play through their set, which is a mix between older, and energetic California-esque pop punk with upbeat lyrics and major chords and darker new material.

As Vasa set their equipment up it becomes evident their sound is going to be vast and they immediately grab your attention, as the venue quickly fills to capacity for the instrumental quartet.

A crowd member of the crowd exclaims “this is fucking insane”, and that’s probably the best way to describe their set, it’s bursting with passion, intensity, and sheer power, Vasa are one of the best post-rock band’s Scotland has ever saw.

Algernon Doll begin with ‘Split Milk Perfume’, the opening track of the album they’re launching tonight, Omphalic, and immediately it’s obvious the band are well rehearsed.

The diversity of the genres within the songs themselves is the most impressive thing about Ewan Grant’s songwriting, the perfectly crafted songs cut across genres which keeps the audience’s attention focused on the music.

As the set goes on the band’s confidence grows, the rhythm section allowing Grant to throw his heart into his music.

The band don’t throw themselves across the stage, they don’t have to, they throw their passion into the songs, and in the case of Grant into his feedback and reverb soaked guitar.

Grant stays in the same position throughout the set, focused solely on the music, the crowd remain with him for every second.

His control of his pedals and his amp’s sounds truly is his secret weapon, he is absolutely immersed in the sound he is producing.

Algernon Doll, the once bedroom project, are really something to be admired, although only three musicians are on stage, it sounds double that.

Solid basslines and dynamic drumming accompany Grant, which allow him the leeway to shape his beautifully sweet vocals around the unique way he plays his guitar.

Latest single ‘Suicide’ is warmly welcomed, it’s a song which belongs in this kind of venue; clangy guitar tones and sombre lyrics feel right in a dark basement.

The only drawback from the set is at times it feels like the band don’t really know how to end their songs, which is a shame as everything else is perfected, but Algernon Doll, in general, have their sound nailed and the addition of a new song, which is yet to even be recorded (probably part of the upcoming Steve Albini produced effort – excited much?) shows Grant has no intention of stopping.

More Photos

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Words: Joshua Campbell
Photos: Andy Mills

Vasa – ‘Not A Cop’

The name Vasa has crossed everyone lips since their debut EP Never Have Dreams was released in 2012.

Since then they have capitalised on the fantastic reception the EP received and have made a name for themselves supporting the likes of Maybeshewill and Deafheaven as well as playing T In The Park.

‘Not A Cop’ is the first release since the EP and starts with an intricate ostinato on guitar, which is soon accompanied by the other parts of Vasa.

The following section consists of three distinct melodies that works in perfect unison that create the vast abstract soundscape sounds straight out of a 80s sci-fi.

This interlude serves as a perfect introduction to ‘Not A Cop’ as it grabs your attention with its expertly crafted sound.

Before long though Vasa plunges you into a discordian guitar driven melody that they have become renown for as we see a progression from the record.

This section alternates between the atmospheric guitar driven riff to a section largely led by Alex Gordon’s drum grooves that are blended seamlessly together.

During the progression of this section we see cameo appearances of Vasa’s members lead the melody with their own solos, the distinct and catchy bassline of John Niblock standing out as the most impressive.

A sudden change drives us into a completely different section that shows Vasa at their strongest, a complex arrangement of layers that create the soaring and melodic driving rock that demonstrates they have mastered their craft since their previous release.

The intricate guitar works of Blaine Thompson and Scott Coupar create the interesting and absorbing melodies that drive the tracks promise.

This section is broken by the many nuisances that drive a constant interest in the record before finishing on the guitar driven riff that should hope to drive the crowds wild in a live situation.

B-side ‘Something Awful’ strikes a more sombre tone, on first impressions the guitar lead reminds of Hell is for Heroes, Hundred Reasons and other bands from the early 2000s.

This track progresses into the a section that features as its highlight a heavily effected guitar style wail melody that only adds to the atmosphere of the track.

With these sections repeated we are then led into a build up that is followed by a climatic end of complex melodies and driving guitars that only reinforce that Vasa are masters of driving, motivating instrumental rock.

Since the release of Never Have Dreams you would be forgiven for thinking that Vasa peaked too early and that future releases could not improve on what is already an incredible sound.

‘Not A Cop’ looks to push the boundaries of expectations held to Vasa, there is more refinement, control and mastery of complex emotional harmonies in this record showing us that these guys are not done surprising us and only look to advance their foothold as one of the leading instrumental bands in Scotland.

Words: Euan Coe