Category Archives: Edinburgh

Songs of the Year: 2013

550723_386804838011029_2051299246_n

Right now it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m up, thinking about all the music that meant a lot to me this year. Personally it’s been a year of flux and over the last few months I haven’t been able to keep up writing as I would have liked, let alone include so many of the great year end releases. So to round things off in a semi-reasonable fashion – and  before we plunge into January – here are a few of the songs I’ve loved along the way…some old, some new, all worth a listen.

Videos included at the bottom and there’s a Spotify playlist here with some more tracks

  • Dark Dark Dark ‘Patsy Cline’ 2013 was the year I discovered the stirring, intense folk of US band Dark Dark Dark. Lyrically their songs are stunning. This one resonated on a personal level, it’s poignant without being self-pitying and I’ll always remember it. 
  • Damien Jurado ‘Yuma Arizona’ I posted this song for my friends on their wedding day, it’s an older track but so incredibly pretty. I think I heard it covered live, one of my favourite ways to discover sometimes overlooked or forgotten tracks. 
  • Low ‘So Blue’ The first time I heard this song, from ‘The Invisible Way’, I was sucked in to how insanely powerful it was…for that reason it stayed with me
  • Frightened Rabbit ‘The Oil Slick’ When it comes to Frabbits I’m a massive fan girl. This is my favourite track on their 2013 release ‘Pedestrian Verse’ 
  • Melt Yourself Down ‘Fix My Life’ This is song is completely crazy, an erratic blend between gypsy jazz and dance – synths, brass and whoops all the way. It never fails to cheer me.
  • James Brown ‘I’ll Go Crazy’ I love James Brown but I’d never heard this song. It is INCREDIBLE. 
  • Fleetwood Mac ‘Go Your Own Way’ – Fleetwood Mac are a band I go back to time and time again, I beliver this song to be one of the greats.
  • Bob Dylan ‘Hurricane’/Daft Punk ‘Get Lucky’ – An unlikely combination I’ve included both of these because my friend plays them on guitar and we all sing. Those moments are the best, I wish I could bottle them. 
  • Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky/Yo La Tengo – I’m not going to choose anything in particular from these three, except to say they make for the best studying/working music I’ve ever found.
  • Lau ‘Throwing Pennies’ – Oh how I love Lau. The Scottish folk trio fuse traditional folk influences with an Orcadian beautiful vocal, original melodies and experimentation. 
  • Hiss Golden Messenger ‘Drum’ – I got this on my ipod about a month ago, such a sweet and uplifting song.
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Swim and Sleep Like a Shark’ – Eeeek I like this band a lot.  It reminds me of sitting with my very good friend, saying very little.

That’s what’s in my mind right now…happy new year when it comes!

Advertisements

I Really Want A Record Player

vintage1

I’ll warn you straight up this is a majorly self indulgent blog post. I really want a record player. GASP. I don’t have one already? No, I’ve been strongly aligned to the humble CD for the past decade, I like that they are more stackable (there I said it) and I don’t have to stand up to flip sides. I know the sounds better on vinyl yada yada, the real reason I’m changing now is there are some many less collectable releases on CD, and no download codes when you purchase. Itunes is no longer my friend, following a change in it’s privacy terms it won’t recognise new items. Typing it in song by song would make my soul cry. So music lovers that’s it, now I really want a record player and ideally your help in choosing one. Old or new? What to look for? Does it matter?  In return here are the first three things I’d like to buy on vinyl…

Rodriguez ‘Cold Fact’

I cried watching documentary Searching for Sugarman on the plane to Thailand. I love that someone could be so humble in the face of so much new found fame. This song in particular makes me really happy.

Devendra Banhart ‘Mala’

I like this latest release from Devendra Banhart a lot. That’s all.

Willis Earl Beal ‘Wavering Lines’

Beaaaaaautiful.

PS – if there are adverts below they are nothing to do with me, it’s a new WordPress thing I believe meaning you have to pay to keep things ad free.

Cool Things I Found

A few cool things I wanted to share with you this week

The Joy Of A House Concert

I went to an amazing house concert in Edinburgh last week and it occurred to me how valuable it is to have that type of small, informal space for musicians to play in. It felt just like a really friendly community of people who love music and get to witness nicely intimate performances.  I wish the council system here was more supportive, my understanding is they’re trying to shut down shows on the grounds that’s it’s ‘a venue’. The organisers don’t make any money, sell any drinks (you take your own) or receive complaints from the neighbours and they clearly invest a huge amount of their own time in creating events and giving musicians exposure. We’re supposed to be the ‘cultural capital’ of the world, it’s so sad seeing grassroots arts events disappear all the time. From a music fan’s perspective I think house concerts often happen organically for musicians and without knowing where to go it becomes an experience we can be locked out off.

Read more on the Soundhouse website, here’s a clip from one of their upcoming acts.

Almost at the same time I was mailed with the news Damien Jurado is doing a series of house concerts in America. I suppose these are different shows in the sense of being outwardly publicised and ticketed but I’m pleased it’s becoming a trend artists of his calibre are supporting.

Fleetwood Mac’s New Song

Aaaaw ain’t it catchy? Skip the chat and Sad Angel is the first track to be shared from Fleetwood Mac’s upcoming EP. They’re also playing Glasgow in October – points for not skipping Scotland off the map.

A band called Mice Parade

I discovered Mice Parade on my weekly reading of the excellent Said the Gramophone blog. So far I know only that their album Candela came out on Fatcat in March and I like their music, in particular the live tracks below. Take the journey with me…

Cool Things I Found

It’s only Tuesday but the weather in Edinburgh is shocking this week, the kind of winds that whip round your face, bring freezing rain/sleet/snow and make sure you never see the sky. Here is a round up of some things which have made my week metaphorically brighter…

www.fleamarketfunk.com
http://www.fleamarketfunk.com

Fleamarket Funk Mixes

For no particular reason I’ve been in to discovering blogs dedicated to soul and funk music lately and Brooklyn based Fleamarket Funk has superb monthly mixes to get your ears into. Check them out on the blog’s Mixcloud page.

People Who Go the Extra Mile

Image from www.dustandgrooves.com
Image from http://www.dustandgrooves.com

I love people. I read this Dust and Grooves feature on Patrice Calliet, a Parisian record collector, and absolutely wished I had met him. Together with the writer they created this impromptu art exhibition outside his house, who does that happen to? Read the full article here.

Ernest Hemingway Booting Beer

734599_10100463144611891_1695767083_n

My friend posted this, allegedly Hemingway’s favourite picture of himself – booting a can of beer. Very cool.

Arran Arctic Plays…Buffy Sainte-Marie

With the catchy, winter appropriate alias of Arran Arctic ‘D.I.Y. pop, folk and electronica’ musician Arran Southall is a man who hails from Northern Ireland and now lives in Edinburgh. He contacted me with his new album, titled Like Lovers, a lovely collection of delicate, experimental tracks often with an orchestral depth, which will capture your attention.

You can stream it in full the bottom of this post, first he’ll tell you about a classic influence and a little piece of musical history…

The Artist: Buffy Sainte-Marie

The Album: Illuminations 

Not On Vinyl

I first came across Buffy Sainte-Marie and her album Illuminations on Stuart Maconie’s great BBC 6 Music Show The Freak Show (the best weird and wonderful music you’ll find on a weekly basis) and I was blown away by her cover of Leonard Cohen’s God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot. I got my spade out and dug a little deeper into her history and back catalogue. And she’s just amazing! Her career spans 5 decades, she’s won an Oscar and she even appeared on Sesame Street for a while!

Illuminations is a departure from her usual folk, soul and rock output and actually alienated a number of her fans when it came out in 1969. The record sees Sainte-Marie electronically manipulating both her guitar and vocals to create a sparsely populated eerie landscape. 

But there are also a number of rocky foot stampers such as ‘He’s a Keeper of the Fire‘, which have caused some to retrospectively christen the album the first “goth” record!

I just love this album and have championed it before on the excellent blog Scots Whay Hae!. It’s appeal is not only because of the fantastic tunes but also because of the balls it must have taken to make and put out there. Everyone needs a bit of Buffy Sainte-Marie in their lives.

About-Image

Arran’s album Like Lovers can be streamed and purchased on his bandcamp, his personable and playful website – from which I pinched the above illustration – is also well worth checking out. Choral title track ‘Like Lovers’ is a highlight, fusing a boy/girl vocal with an almost cinematic soundscape, there’s lots of tinkling goodness in the fleeting ‘Wound’ and climatic  lullaby ‘Slumber’.

A low key, monochromatic video for bewitching earworm ‘Covers’….

 

 

Ring Around the Records

Superb Sounds for Saturday

The Babies

It’s so nice when you listen to something new which is genuinely brilliant. Discovered these guys, The Babies, through Brooklyn Vegan and listened to their new album Our House on a Hill, which you can stream in full at Spin. They’re made up of ex-Vivian Girls and Woods members plus bassist Brian Schleyer and the guitar on the track below, Get Lost, is insane.

Godspeed

Having a down day, or in need of some instrumental listening…these Canadian progressive-rock stalwarts are an excellent remedy.

Do Say Make Think

Of the same Canadian rock ilk as Godspeed, couldn’t not share.

 

M83 – Teen Angst

TUNE. Of the popular electronic variety.

 

RNDM – Walking Through New York

Another chance discovery, ‘Random’ is a new collaboration between Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and drummer Richard Stuverud. I found this track via One Little Indian Records and believe it to be great.

Woodenbox Play…One Day as a Lion

Howdy music fans! If it’s your first time here Play a Song for Me is a place where great musicians suggest great music…

Today it comes from Glasgow/Edinburgh based Woodenbox, a folk/rock collective who are also one of the best live bands around. If you don’t believe me go to a show, the music is loud and infectious and people will be dancing.  Having seen them at a couple of festivals their album Home and The Wild Hunt reminds me of summer, great times kicking back in the sunshine.

So let’s serve up a musical treat, a track from the mighty One Day as a Lion, courtesy of drummer Nick…

Play me…One Day as a Lion 

Image

I’m a huge fan of Rage Against the Machine, let’s face it they are fucking awesome. But that chapter of history is over now. Whilst Tim Tom and Brad went on to form Audioslave with Chris Cornell, front man Zack appeared to have gone into musical hiding. He collaborated with DJ shadow some years back, and also with Roni Size… both sounded awesome. But I was most excited when I stumbled upon this little cracker. Featuring John Theodore from The Mars Volta, whom I regard as one of the most exciting drummers around these days…its just a great combination. Dirty pounding drums, a fender rhodes plugged into a marshall amp, and Zack’s trademark vocal style… I love it.

It’s better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a lamb

Woodenbox release a new six track EP ‘The Vanishing Act’ on 4th June and here’s a taster…

Also check out the single ‘Everyone Has a Price’, a darkly tinged circus flavoured affair.

Check out http://www.wdnbx.com/ for details of where you can catch the band live.

Plum Plays…a little bit of Grimes

I discovered Edinburgh artist Plum after meeting her alter ego Shona Maguire at a music related shindig in Edinburgh. I love that whenever someone sends you their music you never know what to expect, her album was unexpectedly refreshing: a blend of well executed songcraft, delicate vocals and electro production it’s an all round quite bewitching showcase.

Plum Plays…Grimes, Be a Body

Continue reading Plum Plays…a little bit of Grimes

My little sister loves…Nina Nesbitt

Image
Lynn Bell Loves…Nina Nesbitt

There are a couple of reasons I started blogging about music in particular, one of the biggest ones is my little sister Lynn. I share great musical things with her that she ends up loving and might not have found otherwise. I thought if I could do that for more people – help aid brilliant discoveries – it would be pretty good use of time.

We’ve been to see a lot of music together and she has just moved to Glasgow, so I’m sure there will be plenty more gigs a-comin. She loves Scottish singer Nina Nesbitt…here’s why.

Image

It’s kind of a funny one as last year I was reviewing a band, Dead Man’s Waltz for The List, at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh and got chatting to a photographer who was raving about this girl. Enjoy!

Coming in the not too distant future, for which band my big sister uttered the words “I haven’t loved a band this much since Boyzone.”

x

Kid Canaveral…Go Bananas!

I discovered Edinburgh band Kid Canaveral later than most folk, actually not through music but because I met one of them (*ref the smiley chap below). I do however believe them to be on the cusp of greatness, the more I listen to their album Shouting and Wildlife the more I like it – in three words it’s bouncy, summery and undeniably Scottish. I put ‘You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night’ whenever I have that lurching morning-after-a-few-too-many feeling: it always makes me smile.

KC’s David McGregor talks through his musical picks (yeah tried to reel him in – but he just kept throwing songs out there!)

If only everyone had my million dollar smile

I couldn’t decide. So, I did a short playlist. Not for Spotify, though. That is the devil.

St Patrick – James Yorkston and the Athletes

James Yorkston’s debut album, Moving Up Country, is being re-released in a deluxe double disc edition to mark its 10th Anniversary. It never goes unlistened to for long, but I put it on recently whilst driving through the Highlands, taking it in from start to finish, having been prompted by the news that it was a decade old. It is a flawless record. There isn’t a part of it I would change, and St Patrick is an incredible composition that is entirely typical of the record. It has a subtle, yet devastating lyric and a pop hook that any chart hit would regard jealously. If I ever write anything with half as much heart or wit as JY, I’ll give up music, a satisfied man.

Early That Night – Standard Fare

Standard Fare are my favourite pop band. They released their second album, Out of Sight, Out of Town, a few months ago and this song is one of the quieter moments from it. Emma Kupa has a way with words, and a way with their delivery. This, combined with the dreamy reverb of Dan Howe’s guitar, may make this an atypical representation of the band’s usual high energy indiepop bent, but it is a beautiful inclusion as the penultimate track on the record. You should buy it. And their first one.

Birdhouse in your Soul – They Might Be Giants

This is the best song ever written. You can try and argue with me, but you’d only be woefully incorrect.



Bloodless – Fever Fever

I first heard Fever Fever in the car park of Waterloo Cycles in Austin, Texas (ClassicI’m-a-total-wank, opening anecdote). We’d just played in the sweltering heat and I was trying to find shelter and water after three outdoor, daytime shows taking their toll on my shite Scottish complexion. Then Fever Fever came on and snapped me out of my sunstroke. They’re from Norwich and they’re fucking loud. They’re also really, really good. It was a genuine pleasure to watch Rosie play her guitar by standing on it. I managed to see them in London last week and it was even better than before. So, have this – the title track from their Bloodless EP. It’s a belter.

Birdhouse in Your Soul reminds me of being really little, eating an ice lolly in drizzly Scottish rain.

As I up so ridiculously early for Saturday here’s an appropriate number from Kid Canaveral, Good Morning – a Peenko Session!

Check out more at http://www.kidcanaveral.co.uk a second album is in the pipeline *Excited Face*