Category Archives: festivals

Monumental

Last night I went to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor collaborate with a dance company at the Edinburgh International Festival. I love the band and have wanted to see them live for a long time, there’s is the kind of music that moves you. The dancers stood on blocks and threw themselves around – rapidly, beautifully, uncomfortably. It was the kind of moment that makes you so grateful people defy instincts of convention and make art. It made me feel alive.

If you are anywhere near Edinburgh today I can’t recommend seeing it highly enough. Otherwise Godspeed.

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Olympic Swimmers Play…Richard Youngs

Right I’ll start here. I heard Olympic Swimmers at Christmas, when they released a song called ‘Where it Snows’: it’s delicate, beautiful and you can’t fail to love it. The first live outing I managed to catch was at Belladrum this August, a jubilant set showcasing tracks from their debut album No Flags will Fly.

After I accosted them at Bella, Simon Liddell from the band shared this suggestion, a sweepingly beautiful track by Richard Youngs.

RICHARD YOUNGS ‘Soon it Will Be Fire’, from the album Sapphie

I first heard Richard Youngs on a sampler CD from Indianna label Jagjaguwar. The track was ‘Soon it Will be Fire’ from the album Sapphie.’

‘I knew very little about him when I first heard his music, and was stunned to discover he was Glasgow based. I’ve rarely heard a record that comes close to this in it’s simplicity and fragile beauty. It’s almost difficult to listen to, as I know I will never be able to record anything that could touch it. Here are the reasons I keep going back to this record…

Simplicity: It’s just acoustic guitar and a vocal. As a musician, it’s a reminder not to overcook arrangements and saturate a song with different parts / instruments. Even his finger picking style is quite sparse (particularly in The Graze of Days), and the silence between notes plays as much of a part as the instrument itself. I read that the guitar he used is a battered old cheap classical. I like the idea that, to record an album, you would choose an instrument based on sentimentality, rather than tone (although to my ears, it sounds great anyway).

His voice: One of the most mournful, somewhere between Mark Kozelek and Efrim Menuck. The album was recorded in a flat, but the vocals are drenched in reverb throughout, sitting on top of the dry guitar. The most beautiful moments of the record occur when his voice cracks.

The songs last for ages! 3 tracks, 37 minutes…’

Olympic Swimmers released their debut album ‘No Flags will Fly’ earlier this year. The ten tracks are melodic, well crafted and filled with seraphic sounds, fronted by Susie Smillie’s unique vocal. Amongst them are the upbeat ‘Knots’, echoing ‘Apples and Pears’ and triumphant, choral closer ‘Mt Noah’.

Watch ‘Father Said’ at Belladrum…

and I know it’s not winter just yet, but the video for ‘Where it Snows’ makes pretty cool viewing at any time…

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 

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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.