Tag Archives: Withered Hand

EPs of 2017 (20-11)

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

20. GURL+++ – Nerv00se

Nerv00se is the latest peek into the mind of Aberdeen based producer GURL+++, and it’s an interesting piece. The genre defying release utilises heavily cut up vocals, elements of hip-hop, dance and house, with more ambient twist of sleepy keyboard and clunky bass. Nerv00se ends with a real feeling of saying goodbye and closing the door on something; a fitting end to a complex and interesting record.

19. Monkoora – Nuclear BB [Hot Gem]

Monkoora’s Nuclear BB was a entrancing mix of pop production, harsh notes and seething lyrics, but it all comes out rosy in this dynamic EP. It’s a genre spanning affair that takes elements hip-hop, ambient techno and ethereal folk to name a few, throw into the mix some haunting harmonies and the chaotic edge of an artist willing to speak her mind and you’ve got a release that won’t be easily forgotten.

18. Cameron Roxburgh – Outside

Cameron Roxburgh aim to bring experimentalism and something new to the traditional singer-songwriter milieu and this new addition to the duo’s already stellar set of records will challenge your conception of music and offer a change to everyone who dares explore Outside. There’s magic in the clarity of Roxburgh’s words and a deep connection through his disinhibition, even his mum and dad get a mention in ‘+up’, as skillful fingers create a resonating, memorable experience. Outside is full of complexity and yet packed with witty anecdotes for even the most skeptical listener to enjoy, a masterpiece to behold.

17. L-space – Sol 0

Sci-fi influenced dream pop act L-space came to our attention this year and Sol 0 was one release of a few that caught our attention with synth driven tracks full of ethereal harmonies and dreamy guitar.

16. Life Model – Lucky [Frux Tapes]

Lucky was a dose of simmering guitars and blissful dream pop energy and sets Life Model aside as one of the most exciting guitar pop bands in Scotland. Sophie Evans’ sassy, charismatic delivery is matched every step by Chris Smyth’s dynamic arrangements. Life Model are band that had grown impressively of the last few years and it’s great to hear their output coming to fruition on record.

15. Mt. Doubt – The Loneliness of the TV Watchers /  Moon Landings [Scottish Fiction]

We couldn’t separate Mt. Doubt’s two EP releases in 2017 so we have fired them into together, collectively they have shown Mt. Doubt’s growth as a band as the feel like a group effort and these releases gives the listener plenty of meaty sounds to get stuck into. Leo Bargery’s booming, yet melancholy vocals stay front and centre but it’s the beautifully constructed tracks are increasing becoming just as important. This is a band with plenty of ambition and with a growing confidence are pushing in all the right directs.

14. Codist – Porcelain Boy [LP]

Listening to Codist’s Porcelain Boy will cause your head to move in every conceivable direction, instead of just the traditional up and down. All of these head movements are in the affirmative, as Codist exceeds the expectations of anyone familiar with them unveiling this powerfully cool, technically brilliant and acoustically pleasing EP. Porcelain Boy carrys tropes from myriad times, places and styles and masterfully packages them together in a surprising and original way; without ever being boring, predictable or twee. Unpredictable without being chaotic and impressive without feeling overdone, Codist spay homage to a great wealth of well-loved styles, presenting a fun-filled and seriously talented band with nowhere to go but up.

13. TeenCanteen – Sirens [Last Night From Glasgow]

With rebellious lyrics and a playful, pop-influenced sound, alongside Carla J. Easton’s distinct vocals, Sirens maintains the high standard that TeenCanteen have set out for themselves, giving an excellent insight into the eclectic ability of the band.

12. Bluebirds – There Is No God

After the spectacular self-immolation of notorious rockers The Amazing Snakeheads, there’s a gap in the market for some grimy, gory Scottish rock and straight out the coffin Bluebirds seem like possible contenders. There is No God is five-tracks of grotty, shambling post-punk propelled by the sort of funereal organ and scene chewing vocals that would even Nick Cave would probably write off as “a bit much”. It’s not music for the faint hearted, channelling the B-movie vibes of The Cramps and the livewire energy of Fat White Family with abandon; there’s an unhinged energy to Bluebirds that is impossible to fake.

11. Withered Hand and A Singer of Songs – Among Horses I [Son Canciones]

After a good wait following his 2014 release, New Gods, Withered Hand returned after spending a week on a farm in Catalonia with A Singer Of Songs’ Lieven Scheerlinck and together the duo have have delivered an EP that has shown a clear progression in sound, with a complex, sunkissed record that doesn’t lose the wit and lightheartedness of his previous work.

Glorious Traces Legacy: Withered Hand at The Glad Cafe, 22/12/17

The first in a new series of family-friendly matinee shows titled Glorious Traces Legacy, organised by The Glad Cafe and The Glad Foundation in association with Creative Scotland, this afternoon’s Withered Hand gig is just the fuzzy glimpse of sweet community and sweeter spirit to set you off on your festive holidays.

Recalling my own first gigs as a child of single digits, I remember being more interested in pulling apart the beads on my mother’s bracelet, probably, than looking up at what was happening onstage.

The challenge for Glorious Traces, then, is inevitably going to be a case of attention: how to keep a room full of babies and toddlers quiet enough to deliver a set, especially when it’s hard enough sometimes to negotiate a loudly drunken crowd of adults?

For Withered Hand’s Dan Wilson, however, the question of attention is half the fun.

With a primary school teacher’s inquisitive ease, Wilson strikes up many a conversation with his pint-sized audience, encouraging heckling and posing deep questions about the universe.

Amid ponderous exchanges about “shoes from Mars” and a sprinkling of festive chat, Wilson delivers an hour’s worth of beautiful, candid songs drawn from both older material and 2014’s New Gods.

Opening with ‘No Cigarettes’, “a sad song about a pantomime horse”, the wistful escapism of his lyrics (“think me and you could maybe use a lost weekend / I’ve been losing all my friends”) effortlessly captures that bittersweet sense of lovelorn loneliness that often haunts the holiday season.

A lot of Withered Hand songs are the soundtrack to your twenties: to being out of sync with the world, clinging to old lovers, feeling like you’re always performing a perfect self and stumbling clumsily over the performance, failing to paper the cracks.

Listening to them in this cosy environment, surrounded by indie-loving families rustling bags of organic candy just a few days before Christmas, I’m struck with the sense that there’s this way through all the sad songs: the loneliness is peppered with energy and hope, the gurgle of a wee kid who’s learning the value of endurance and patience and genuine love.

Explaining the boxing analogy behind ‘Horseshoe’, Wilson talks about being in love as a feeling of invincibility, like you could knock out anything and anyone, like someone put a horseshoe in your glove.

This message of power persists as Wilson also admits to the kids he was once kicked out of the school choir, and when he reminds the audience to not let people grind you down, to pursue your dreams anyway, someone wryly chips in: “are you addressing the adults now?”

Any scepticism I might’ve had about the logistics of a children’s matinee gig were blown away by the natural rapport Wilson establishes with his audience, and the lovely vertiginous effect of innocence and experience brought together so warmly.

Whether artfully switching up the fruitier lyrics of ‘Cornflake’ for the comparatively wholesome “I’d do anything for chips and cider”, or singing about painting the lustre on the sun, it’s clear Wilson has a child’s eye for tenderness, sentiment and humour too.

“The most important thing about Christmas is that we love each other,” he says, halfway into the set, a priest making his earnest, endearing sermon—“but also the presents, of course the presents.”

The shiny fat cherry on top of the Christmas cake is the set’s closer, an original Christmas song called ‘Real Snow’ which asks us to be here, in the present, looking up and enjoying the free gifts of the world as we try and unplug ourselves from machines, huddled against coal-effect fires and feeling okay about not knowing what will happen tomorrow.

When Christmas is often shoved down your throat, imploring us to be happy and in love and grateful for everything, it’s nice sometimes to lean back into uncertainty, to admit the soft bright experience of the year’s close as this precious and communal thing, that doesn’t have to mean anything more than in its own fleeting joy.

Words: Maria Sledmere

Withered Hand, a Singer of Songs, Martha Ffion at The Hug and Pint, 7/5/17

Dan Wilson of Withered Hand is absolutely one of the most interesting songwriters around; he recently collaborated to write and record with Barcelona-based a Singer of Songs during a week at an organic farm ‘in the middle of nowhere’ near Barcelona.

Over three dates in Edinburgh, Crail and Glasgow, the two launched the resulting EP Among Horses, which was released via Spanish label Son Canciones on May 5.

Martha Ffion opens the gig with a wonderful solo set; without a band, the bones of her songs and especially her lyrics, seem to stand out a little bit more.

There’s a bitter sweetness in her words and the way they’re sung that gives Ffion’s songwriting this mournfully sarcastic bite beneath her soothing, sugary melodies.

Her set was kind of unflinching, while singing about feelings being consequential, and with lyrics like, “it must have been so hard for you with all the growing up you had to do” and “missing you, like I’m supposed to,” this element of directness in Ffion’s music along with the cushioning of her gently lilting vocals and almost doo-wop style, is an intriguing combination, and it was cool to see her playing her songs solo.

A Singer of Songs then plays a set of songs that are thoughtful and raw; his music mixes nostalgia and honesty with slow Americana-type melodies.

In between songs he makes jokes and shares intimate stories about his songwriting experiences, which the crowd seem to enjoy.

At the end of the set Withered Hand and he play two songs that feature on their collaborative EP, which goes down well, it is evident that a Singer of Songs is an very able guitar player, and his voice is strong over inventive songs about disappointing relationships.

The fact he’s found a way to make music from some of these situations is laudable, I would be curious to hear him again with a full band.

Withered Hand headlines the show and also plays solo, until the last few songs where Leven of a Singer of Songs joins in for some older material as well as for the new material from the Among Horses EP.

There is something affecting in Withered Hand songs that seems undemanding but intricate in its expression; his guitar work is excellent, the talent Wilson has in his voice and lyrics gives the heavyhearted topics he writes about some kind of grace, as he handles metaphors alongside frank, emotive statements in an insightful way.

At one point in the set he mentions having a sore throat, but what was unfortunate for his throat and health turned out to be quite fortunate in the manner that songs like ‘California’, with its desperate sounding chorus “I keep sippin’ on the tussin like I’m sick again” and ‘Horseshoe’, from last album New Gods, which seem to gain something from his strained vocals – not to mention it results in some really lovely moments of audience participation.

The set includes songs like ‘No Cigarettes’ and ‘Religious Songs’, a crowd favourite, which Wilson jokes to only be using a setlist so he wouldn’t forget to play.

It is an exceptional gig. If you haven’t heard Withered Hand before, please do look him up, have a listen or go to a show.

Words: Jason Riddell
Photos: Claire Heimlich

West End Festival All Dayer at Oran Mor, 19/6/16

So it’s another dad day and another all dayer at Oran Mor as part of the West End Festival, and while the line up today may not be quite as dad friendly as last year’s fare there is a host of local talent at various stages of their musical development on offer.

Lewis Capaldi

Arriving early we manage to catch Lewis Capaldi opening at the Whisky Bar and the gruff voiced singer-songwriter, who recently sold out his debut headline show at The Garage Attic, portrays plenty of attention grabbing presence.

The load bar is full of bustling punters out for lunch or beers with their dads, but it’s huge credit to Capaldi that he manages to hold his own in loud bar that many would fade away into.

Three Blind Wolves

In the Venue we pop down for the start of local folk rock favourites Three Blind Wolves, whose recent EP The Bridge ranks among the best things they’ve done yet, deliver their ever impressive live set as their rousing musicianship coupled with Ross Clark’s booming vocals is a great way to kick things off downstairs.

Martha Ffion

Alas this can only be a brief visit for the Wolves as the wonderful Martha Ffion is started upstairs in the gorgeous Auditorium.

As Ffion takes the stage early on in the day the beautiful venue is sadly a bit towards the empty side.

Nevertheless Ffion and her band make the most of the stunning venue, performing like the room is full and receiving loud cheers at the end of each song for her charming sugarcoated vocals.

Having built up a large repertoire of 60s fuzzy pop peppered singles it is clear the Irish-born songstress’ confidence and stage presence has grown since I saw her last allowing her to grip her audience’s attention throughout her set closing on the wonderfully touching ‘We Disappear’.

Be Charlotte

We arrive early to catch Withered Hand’s set but are disappointed to find out he is stuck in traffic so we make the decision to head back upstairs to catch the wonderful Be Charlotte.

Having seen young Charlotte Brimner perform multiple time in the last year, the latest being just yesterday for Detour’s Hug and Pint Birthday party, her set comes as no real surprise, but it’s huge credit to the sparkling Dundonian that her set remains as impressive as the first time I witnessed it.

From the beginning of single and opener ‘Discover’ to the end of the set Brimner possess an addictive quality that bursts with an innovative take on pop music that could and should see her to the very top.

Whether hitting out a potential chart banger, chanting almost spoken word eloquence or delivering gob smacking acapella in her unique yet completely stunning tones, it’s hard not to enjoy and become engulfed in her set.

As we cannot possibly drag ourselves away from Be Charlotte, when we manage to head back downstairs for a second attempt at Withered Hand, he’s just finishing his set, however personal favourite, ‘Religious Songs’ allows us a short yet excellent taster of exactly what Dan Wilson’s solo set has to offer.

Catholic Action

Up next are fuzzy-rockers Catholic Action who treat the crowd to a number of new tracks during their set.

Between tracks the band’s on stage repartee is extremely entertaining as frontman Chris McCrory half-joking states “this is a slow song so shut up” in a deadpan manner.

It doesn’t take long for the to band speed things up with a song about pop diva Rita Ora before finishing their set by giving it their all.

With a set that showcases Catholic Action’s musical ability as well diversity, it’s no surprise that their captivating laid back melodies, angsty lyrics and jangly guitar noise create one of the day’s most memorable sets.

De Rosa

In the Venue a wonderful twinkling misery hangs in the air, but despite the glum demeanor De Rosa are mesmerising, Martin John Henry’s heartfelt vocals are believable and hit just the right side of charming, while musically they deliver enough bounce to put a string in your step without becoming jolly.

De Rosa returned at last year’s all dayer with a long awaited bang and while new album Weem didn’t quite drown them in accolades in was a slow burner that cemented their place as a vital part of the scene in Scotland and this set only confirms that.

Pronto Mama

It’s withdrawn but encapsulating, cold yet welcoming; a delightful touch between the fun romps of Catholic Action and next up, upstairs Pronto Mama.

The best set of the day goes to the effortlessly cool Pronto Mama, who from the moment they take the stage grasp of the crowd’s attention.

Their catchy upbeat tracks make it hard to stop everyone from having a little dance, even the band themselves join in and it’s not long until bassist Michael Griffin’s glasses go flying off his face.

The highlight of their set however has to be the courageous acapella ‘Sentiment’, which gives the crowd the opportunity to catch their breath as the whole band come together to deliver the track in beautiful harmony.

Errors

Due to the early start we have to choose a moment to pop out for food, which unfortunately sees us missing all of Crash Club and the vast majority of the heavenly vocaled Rachel Sermanni’s set, however we are back well in time for downstairs’ headliners Errors.

There’s a wee “hello” for Steev Livingstone and we’re off into a haze of fazer ridden, building beats that layers up to points of pounding bass and huge euphoric rises.

The sparse reverb ridden vocals on the tracks from one last year’s stand out albums, Lease of Life, give a live feel not to far removed from the better end of Animal Collective’s solo material, i.e. Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, and as this melds into a cacophony of organic synth and bass from their familiar beat ridden post rock sound.

Tracks from last year’s more dreamy release seem at ease side by side with the driven guitars of their older material and it’s a pleasure to delve into; everything Errors seem to do seems to come off perfectly and as Livingstone dryly asks “have you enjoyed it?” the crowd respond unanimously only for him to come back in the same deadpan tone “good, we’ll play again… some other time”.

Let’s hope it’s not too far off.

So another successful day of music from the centre piece, musically at least, of the West End Festival and the perfect way to spend a Sunday with or without your dad.

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Words: Iain Dawson/Jess Lavin
Photos: Aimee Boyle/Stewart Fullerton

Celtic Connections: James Yorkston, The Pictish Trail, Withered Hand at Mitchell Library, 28/1/16

Tonight’s Celtic Connections show sees three excellent Scottish songwriters – James Yorkston, The Pictish Trail aka Johnny Lynch and Withered Hand aka Dan Wilson – come together in harmony.

Rather than play their sets one after the other, the three songwriters sit onstage together, adding extra instrumentation to one another’s songs and bantering away amiably.

There’s an immense amount of pleasure to be had in their easy camaraderie and the contrasting styles onstage: Yorkston is the most talkative; technically gifted and more traditional in his approach to folk music, weaving tales of shipwrecks and lighthouses over adeptly fingerpicked guitar, Lynch is warm and avuncular and the most left-field leaping off into abstract folktronica, while Wilson is appealingly clumsy, fidgeting awkwardly but professing that he is having a great time.

The set meanders all over the place as the trio take turns to take the lead, but this is all part of the charm.

Yorkston’s ‘Shipwreckers’ is a dark ballad written during a stay in Cork, but the seriousness is undercut by a comedic riff from Lynch about meeting Cliff Richard on a train that almost reduces Yorkston to tears of laughter, while Wilson’s ‘California’ is a strange tale of cough syrup abuse with a catchy Teenage Fanclub-esque guitar figure

‘Believe Me I Know’ was Lynch’s contribution to Jo Mango’s recent collaboration EP, a rumination on the environmental impact of a life on the road from the ex-Fence records boss, who has since relocated to Eigg.

Amidst these reflections on the more challenging aspects of human nature, there’s plenty of fun though.

It might not all be “constant bangers” as Lynch jokingly suggests, but there’s plenty to like in his experimental folktronica, Yorkston’s ambitious harmonies and Wilson’s “religious song about masturbating on a futon”.

Such is their amity that Lynch feels comfortable dropping a verse from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air into Yorkston’s ‘The Lighthouse’, while in the second half of the set Wilson is cajoled into doing the robot.

Describing one track as being inspired by the movie Fargo, you’re never quite sure to what extent, Lynch, the joker, is taking the piss, but just when you think the whole thing might deteriorate into silliness he busts out a stirring solo cover of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ that beautifully captures the romantic sentiment of the original.

Three original characters, one perfect venue and a spirit of good natured collaboration; Celtic Connections carries on being full of treasures.

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Words: Max Sefton

Wickerman (Saturday), 25/7/15

Saturday got underway in earnest with RM Hubbert on the main stage; I arrive, a little late, to him announcing: “Radio One won’t play pop songs about depression…”

He describes ‘Bolt’ as a more upbeat number (facetiously described as his attempt to get mainstream radio plays), but it is followed by what, in his own words, is a sad song.

He dedicates it to his late father-in-law who he reveals had a major influence on his own life, relating that loss to the loss that the festival has been enduring this year.

It’s a beautiful sentiment, one reflected by Hubbert’s sensitive and gentle mastery of the fret-board, and only reaffirms why Hubbert, a previous SAY award winner, is such a gift to the Scottish music scene.

The set ends with ‘Car Song’, where Hubbert is normally accompanied by Aidan Moffat (who he guesses is still in bed); what I find surprising is how vocally similar the two are – as when he sings Moffat’s part, it really is uncanny.

witheredhand04Withered Hand is an artist who I have not seen live in some time – in fact it was just before he released his first album, Good News, in 2008 that I was engrossed by his live performance.

It was, therefore, with much excitement that I made my way towards the Scooter tent, only to find he was already half-way through his second song (it turned out that all the acts for Saturday had been brought forward 15 minutes to allow for the Wickerman Burning at midnight – making all our schedules incorrect).

Third song in he plays ‘New Dawn’, an imposing and up-tempo number that begins to stir the crowd.

Wearing a trucker cap, with a Black Sabbath T-shirt, it’s clear Withered Hand has gone through a bit of a change since last seeing him.

Brimming with confidence and heading a tight, five-piece band the new dynamic has introduced greater complexity and ambition from his older writing.

A good example of this is ‘Love in the time of Ecstasy’, where the slow, solo build up gradually builds to glorious cacophony integrating the plethora of sound that the five can produce.

It feels like a different song in this context, an upbeat gospel-inspired song that bares some resemblance to The Eels live version of ‘Climbing to the Moon’.

After a huge response from a now full Scooter tent, we are introduced to a newer track, ‘Horseshoe’, followed by original break-through hit, ‘Religious Songs’ (dedicated to all the Pagans on site).

The song order alone shows how far Withered Hand has come, his stagecraft is considered and routinely accessible.

This sometimes seems to feel almost at odds with the original awkward, theological and sexually obsessed roots of the material – lines such as “I beat myself off when I sleep on your Futon,” are now sung like proud anthems of personal revelation by a devout group of fans; in short it all works wonderfully.

Mere moments from the Scooter tent, Emma Pollock takes the stage in the Phoenix tent – 15 minutes early of course.

She admits that this was a bit of a homecoming as she had lived in Castle Douglas for six years and completed her sixth year of school at Kirkcudbright Academy.

The surrounds are somewhat distant from her spiraling, sun-drenched Californian sound, and despite being in a dark tent, the weather seems to be obliging, bestowing some golden shafts through the open spaces of the tent.

The stand out track in the set is ‘Red Orange Green’, which she plays shortly after introducing her new backing drummer.

Generating excitement on the Summerisle stage, Neneh Cherry seems ready to capitalise on the improved weather conditions.

Her Saturday evening starts with some poetry, as she floats onto the stage, immaculately presented, easily winning the award for best shoes on show.

She decides not to reflect the clement weather, plunging straight into ‘Blank Project’, a dark, moody track, seemingly inspired by elements of contemporary German sound and production, typical of her new approach to music.

It’s hard to fault, her movements are perfectly timed to the bass-driven percussive elements and it immediately sends a signal to the crowd – this will not be an exercise in 90s synth pop nostalgia; quite right.

Despite thoughtfully enjoying Neneh Cherry’s set – it felt as though we had been denied some upbeat, sunny festival vibes.

jimmycliff07It was a fleeting concern as next up on the main stage is Jimmy Cliff.

Needing no introduction, and before he even arrives, the Summerilse stage is as busy as I have ever seen it.

The crowd eagerly anticipates Cliff’s arrival and he does not disappoint.

Soon into his set, ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ lifts the atmosphere and hordes of people are up and dancing – providing an upbeat festival sound, a sound which Cliff provides with suitable aplomb and the audience welcome with joyous revelry.

Hit after hit surge festival goers into action – not since Chic played two years ago have I witnessed such an optimism in a Wickerman crowd and by the time he finishes with the eternally enlivening ‘Wonderful World, Beautiful People’ spirits have well and truly been lifted.

Sharing a similar trajectory as WHITE, who entertained on the previous night, C Duncan is currently riding high on a wave of promise.

Unlike WHITE he has a lot of songs (a product of a very busy year) to draw upon; the twenty five year old Glaswegian is becoming a radio favourite and he fills the small Solus tent within minutes.

His magnetism is evidenced in opening song ‘Far’, a steady, lilting sound, accompanied by whistling harmonies that immediately reminds me of Sufjan Stevens early album Seven Swans.

In recording, the soloist has a multi-layered approach and live, in the tailored confines of the tent, he manages to reproduce it with a well-rehearsed group.

His sound is full of craft and intrigue, during ‘Here to There’ he manages to get a very excited (and lubricated) Blochestra to kick off with contagious dancing.

He finishes on a high, with the singular Garden’, particularly impressive.

C Duncan has a well-developed and distinctive sound – and undoubtedly shines as one of the big hits of this year’s Wickerman.

For the final act of the festival I decided to avoid main stage headliners Example and DJ Wire in favour of fierce Glasgow five-piece Outblinker in the Solus tent.

They, like Ubre Blanca the night before, deal exclusively in sustained, immersive instrumentals and I was excited to see them, as a few weeks earlier I had documented a live session with them and was eager to refamiliarise myself with their live output.

They do not disappoint – opening with ‘Pink, they demonstrate tight intricacy with assailing blasts.

They are a collective of some very talented musicians and they power though their (regrettably short) set goading the crowd’s excitement for the Wickerman Burning.

I feel however, as I felt to a certain extent with Ubre Blanca, that this type of sound doesn’t lend itself well to a short (30 minute) set in a festival environment.

Their music is long and enveloping, demanding attention – definitely one to check out in a dark, beer-stained venue!

wickermanburning05
The festival ends with the annual burning of the Wickerman; as always the firework display is outstanding, although unlike previous years the organisers had decided to leave the main stage empty forgoing acts like Public Service Broadcast and Utah Saints who had played that slot before.

Overall, the festival is a hit for me; I’ve always thought that the smaller tents of this festival had more fascination, showing a more esoteric breadth of talent than the main stage and with the addition of the Pheonix tent it felt like another step forward in this respect.

Problems with the scheduling and weaker Summerisle acts can be easily fixed for next year, and I am convinced that these issues are in part influenced by the trauma the organisers have had to undergo this year.

Next year the Wickerman will be entering its fifteenth year, and I believe that after this year of transition, the long-term improvements will be felt, and enjoyed by larger numbers than ever.

More Photos

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Words/Photos: Gordon Ballantyne

Randolph’s Leap’s I Can’t Dance To This Music Anymore at CCA, 21/3/15

Having the chance to grab a chat with Adam Ross, lead singer of Randolph’s Leap at their CCA “festival in a can,” event reaffirmed the amazing culture of music currently circulating in Glasgow.

Where else can you go to an all day gig crammed with great bands like Randolph’s Leap and Withered Hand amongst many others for the measly sum of fifteen quid? That doesn’t even pay a kid into a football game these days!

Ross explains that the original concept, this being the third incarnation of the gig, was developed in conjunction Lost Map Records as an opportunity to provide a cheap platform to showcase bands to the public without the expense of a promoter.

Fittingly the title track of the gig is firmly a fans favourite and has become somewhat of an anthem and the good news for Randolph’s Leap fans is that a new ten-track studio album has been recorded.

Ross tells us this will have a live energy feel to it and a recorded live mini album, Most Clunkey, will be released for record store day in April.

Anyway onto the gig; arriving at half past five I catch offensively funny comedian Richard Brown, who introduces eagleowl, a five-piece outfit boasting an impressive string section of violin, cello and double bass the Edinburgh band produce a lo-fi electric folk sound.

Beautifully layered their music is dramatic and theatrical with gentle harmonised vocals that breathe life in to melancholy lyrics.

The six song set flies by, with new song ‘Summer School’ being a highlight, this band are a delight with a down beat style and an infinite sadness about their music; perfectly suited to intimate venues and well worth searching out.

Comedian Josie Long compares the second half of the show and her well-received quirky observational humour and duo Henry and Fleetwood are next to take the stage, with an acoustic blend of guitar and, believe it or not, harp.

What follows can only be described as utterly compelling as the pair combine to produce a dream like floating sound, with gentle plucked harp providing melody and bass and clever loops giving a full band sound.

With a mixture of instrumental tracks and songs with impeccably harmonised vocals they weave a thread of flawless earthy folk that had the audience silently spell bound.

They could only improve for me by dropping the instrumentals and singing all their tracks.

Withered Hand follow and quickly and with power engage the audience; flipping between poignant and intense, while singing and comedic and irreverent between tunes, he compels the audience to drink in his performance.

And drink we do, lapping him up as we are left punch drunk at his sarcastic and wistful lyrics.

The anthemic sing-along ‘Horseshoe’ goes down a storm and other tracks from latest album New Gods further cement his growing reputation as one of the finest live folksters around.

And with that Randolph’s Leap cram their massive ensemble onto the stage with a rush of energy that can only come with a band at the top of their game.

Energy can be the only word used to describe their performance as they burst into ‘Isle of Love’ with Hammond organ, trumpet and trombone blaring and lead singer Ross dressed as a sea captain gleefully proclaiming to the audience that he looked like a, well a rude word for lady parts!

40-minutes of purposefully twee and camp Scottish front room party madness follows and it is perfectly clear who the majority of the audience are here to see.

With blaring trumpet intros providing octane like fuel to the audience and songs bubbling over with humour and charisma it is easy to slip into a few beers and loose once self in the moment.

A great combinations of bands and comedians provided a character filled cheap night entertainment and Lost Map and Randolph’s Leap should be applauded for providing it.

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Words: Peter Dorrington
Photos: Bill Gray

Album of 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rustie – Green Language11 Rustie – Green Language [Warp]

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

Beerjacket – Darling Darkness10 Beerjacket – Darling Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Algernon Doll – Omphalic3 Algernon Doll – Omphalic [Struggletown]

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

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

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

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Honeyblood – Honeyblood1 Honeyblood – Honeyblood [FatCat]

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

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Withered Hand – New Gods [Fortuna Pop]

The instant comparison that springs to mind here is ‘All Things Must Pass’ – like George Harrison’s opus, the music might at first fool you as sounding like inoffensive dentist-waiting-room shmooth-fm folk-pop; clean but still sensibly naturalistic production, tons of hooks, catchy choruses, acoustic guitars and simple song structures; yet lurking in the lyrics there’s an extremity of emotional tension that swings between stark ugly introspection on one hand and manic optimism on the other.

The autobiographical storytelling of ‘Love Over Desire’, ‘King of Hollywood’ and ‘California’ read like a musical travelogue, a sort of concept album-within-an-album retelling the day to day experiences of a Scottish musician touring America, a stranger in a strange land.

In some songs, especially when the focus moves away from these engaging narratives, the anti-folk cliché of saturnine self depreciation does get a bit overused (“gie yersel a shake”, as my dad would say) but overall these moments are saved by their intelligence and humour, as well as the underlying sense of defiant hope that lingers on throughout.

And, it seems that Withered Hand does indeed gie himsel the proverbial shake, as the album ends with the triumphant rallying cry ‘We Are Not Alone’, complete with ‘Hey Jude’-esque la-along; maybe he’s more Paul after all?

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Words: CR Sanderson