Category Archives: Glasgow

Pick Of The Past

This is little Play a Song For Me’s 100th wordpress post! A tiny figure for some, for me an occasion akin to getting an ice cream on a sunny day.

For those of you who are new to the blog musicians I discover share suggestions of new, rare and important artists/songs/albums. Along the way other things have also evolved – I invent sporadic new features (for the last month I’ve been posting a happy song every day), review new material and spraff on about new discoveries. Other folks stories are at the heart of why I’ve kept up the writing, I always love reading submissions and love to see that people still reading them.

End ramble: to celebrate and in case you missed them here are some great picks. Click the links to take you to the full articles and music!

The Son(s) recommend Richard Swift and Tim Weary
The Son(s) recommend Richard Swift and Tim Weary

The Son(s) Play…Tim Weary & Richard Swift 

The first ever post I received was from Karl of The Son(s), whose music is beautiful.

Mike!

Mike Nisbet Plays…Townes Van Zandt

I’m slightly ashamed to say I’d never heard of Townes Van Zandt before this post from Mike, who himself is supremely talented. Check out the full read here.

Tommy-Johnson_ALCORUB_Delta-Haze

Adam Stafford Plays…Tommy Johnson

A personal story you’ll remember, a blues record you’ll love. Adam has a new album coming out really soon and it’s a beauty. Keep your eye on Song By Toad for more.

photo

Olympic Swimmers Play…Richard Youngs 

Without a doubt my favourite picture submitted, Glasgow’s Olympic Swimmers wrote a beautiful piece on Richard Youngs.

Early Birds

Human Pyramids Play…Mum

A close contender in the picture stakes, Human Pyramids shared a love of the glacial Mum.

IMG_0103

State Broadcasters Play…The Bhundu Boys

The tragic story of The Bhundu Boys, retold by Glasgow’s State Broadcasters.

Have a root around for many more great things in the friends and contributors section. Listen, discover, enjoy.

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One for the Week…Rick Redbeard

No Selfish Heart
No Selfish Heart

I waaaaay late in posting this, but as the album itself took eight years to complete I figure you can forgive my current blogging pace (akin to that of a tortoise’s steps). I first heard Rick Redbeard‘s album No Selfish Heart in December, it already reminds me of Scottish winters and the kind of lamentable snowfall that covered Edinburgh in waves.

Released with the monochrome artwork above last month I believe it’s had much acclaim already and it’s also on one of my favourite Scottish labels, Chemikal Underground.

You Need To Know

It’s the first solo LP from Phantom Band frontman Rick Anthony, a rich collection of mostly love songs, full of emotion, wise words and discovery. Sounding like a refresh of old celtic ballads it’s often thankfully simple his deep, distinctive vocal and moving lyrics are commendable.

Top Tracks

  • Kelvingrove –  originally a folk song which Rick learnt along the way, his version is a love song like nothing I’ve ever heard, plush violin meets distinctive Scottish songcraft
  • Now We’re Dancing – originally released on a spilt single with Adam Stafford it’s a clickety, wry beauty
  • Wildlove – Like a lullaby, it will raise a smile
  • No Selfish Heart – This could be my most favoured track on the album, it feels fresh and poignant plus I love the tune.

Listen when…

You’re in need of something pretty, at the coast on a chilly day or sitting my the fire in a log cabin (as we all do of an evening).

Rating

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State Broadcasters Play…The Bhundu Boys

State Broadcasters are a six-piece band from Glasgow who I’ve only come to know in the last year or so…

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/319435_341047375976874_1351713165_n.jpg

…although they actually first formed first back in 2004. Released on the fairly wonderful Scottish label Olive Grove Records the band’s newly released album Ghosts We Must Carry is the type of music you’ll want to sink right in to, dusky voices, melodic strings and quite simply endearing songs.

Following a Play a Song For Me plea Pete from the band was kind enough to share a musical memory with us…

The Artist: The Bhundu Boys

The Album: Shabini

When I was young our dad used to play us The Bhundu Boys in the car. They’re a band from Zimbabwe who play this beautiful jangly pop music that is about as catchy as anything you’ll ever hear. Their guitar lines manage to be both intricate and simple at the same time, and their vocal harmonies are gorgeous. John Peel was a huge fan – there’s a lovely story Andy Kershaw has about them going to see a Bhundu Boys gig and Peel crying through the whole show because he thought it was so wonderful. I think hearing their music has had a massive influence on the way I make and enjoy music: I love a major key, and sunny jangly pop songs. I’m pretty sure my love of The Smiths and The Beach Boys can be traced back to hearing the Bhundus in the car when I was 4. 

The story of the band is extremely sad. Their early records are full of exuberance and celebrate a bright and optimistic future for Zimbabwe, – when Mugabe took control of the country after the civil war he was seen as a good leader, someone who would take the country forward. But as time passed parallels can be drawn between Zimbabwe and the band themselves. Most of the original Bhundu Boys lineup are now dead – the lead singer committed suicide, and 3 others died of AIDS related illness.  The only founder member still performing is the guitarist Rise Kagona, who now lives near Edinburgh. He hasn’t been able to return to Zimbabwe for years and doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as he deserves for his music – he’s one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen and if there were any justice would be playing huge sold out rooms.  I’d urge you to go and see him play – it’s a totally joyous way to spend an evening.

The thing I personally love most about Pete’s suggestion is that I doubt I’d have thought of picking up this record and it’s quite far away from what I’ve fallen in the pattern of listening to, but I love how vibrant and sunshiney the songs feel and hear echoes of their influence in work by many other artists. As a random aside also read that they labelled their style ‘jit’, love the word and being a massive fan of watching performances on vintage telly, thought you might enjoy this treasure

Here’s a wee bit of Rise Kagona for good measure, playing with Scottish musician Doug Veitch.  I also found a great Guardian interview

As for State Broadcasters you can stream their second full length album below, purchase from their bandcamp and check them out all over the wonder woven internet. Ghosts We Must Carry highlights include comfort laden single ‘Trespassers’, the delicately melodic ‘The Only One’ and opener ‘The Only Way Home’.

Eugene Twist Plays…Mose Allison

A tragedy befell me last week. I woke up, got up and my laptop would not turn on. If you’ve ever been there you might follow my exact train of thought: that is EVERYTHING I own!! And no I don’t have it backed up, idiotic as that might be. So while I have been dreaming of finally buying a Macbook and trying to retrieve all my data it’s been a bit hard to post this up – a sublime discovery from Glasgow solo talent Eugene Twist.

With his stunning eight track album The Boy Who Had Everything notching up a fair amount of acclaim Mr Twist is an artist I was excited to feature, here’s his eloquent take on a little listened to Mose Allison track, minimalist, carefully crafted jazz…

EUGENE TWIST PLAYS…MOSE ALLISON

Thumbs up for Mose pals

Someone once said Mose Allison was cool before Dylan was cool. I first heard him on the documentary ‘Ever Since I Stole The Blues’, which features everyone from Frank Black of the Pixies to Van Morrison confirming his significant and varied influence. He is revered in certain circles, yet it amazes me how many musicians and musos I speak to haven’t heard of him. He’s always operated within jazz and blues – I’m no aficionado but to my ear he’s one of the greatest pianists to straddle these idioms in terms of ideas and technicality. However, this is just a platform for what comes next: a voice, narrative and songwriting approach that feel exclusively his own…

 
The Style: A lazy, prolonged, Mississippi drawl, steeped in the kind of profound blues that makes you want to kick a tin can around a deserted street with your hands in your pockets, somehow feeling OK about the weight of the world being on your shoulders.
 
The Attitude: Mose is very much an existentialist who brings a deadpan (almost Scottish) sense of humour to mortality, poverty and loneliness. His lyrics more than anything take the sentiment of the blues to another level, where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Song titles such as ‘What Do You Do After You Ruin Your Life’ – a case in point.
 

The Legacy: Mose’s journey bridges legendary and cult figure. He’s an extremely humble dude. I saw him play the Fruitmarket in Glasgow a while ago, he came on in jeans and bright white trainers, sat his fleece on top of the piano lid and started playing. I wasn’t surprised to hear that a friend saw him play in Pizza Express a few years ago and there’s videos on youtube of him playing to just a handful of people, amazing considering his influence on everyone from Jools Holland to Bono. Someone’s uploaded to youtube the song of his I’d like to share – it’s had less plays than my own youtube tracks…

 

So I’d like to share ‘Hello There Universe’. Like all great music in its intangible power, this puts me in a place transcendent of time and lets me float through the cosmos whenever I hear it. Without appearing retroist, something about the vocal and delivery still feels aesthetically fresh too. Enjoy.

I did a little rooting around myself and discovered that Mose Allison wrote loads of material which has been covered by other bands, just one being The Clash who featured this jazz led track – Look Here – on their album Sandinista!

Once you are done going through Mose Allison’s back catalogue get Eugene’s album on rotation! With a gravely voice his songs bleed into retro styles, echoing of the likes of The Beatles, Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan. A record which is diverse in delivery it swerves from the jive friendly ‘If There’s Love Where I’m Going’, heart fuelled ‘It’s Down to You’ and melodrama ‘The Boy Who Had Everything’: picture painting lyrics, psychedelic guitar riffs and ska fuelled melodies all to follow.

Watch the brilliantly vintage vibed video for ‘Bohemian Hotline’ here…

If you listen to one thing this week…make it Sucioperro

More precisely the new Sucioperro album Fused.  I’m in the middle of a hyper busy week which means I’m not going to say much at the Ayrshire trio’s latest effort, other than it’s some mightly addictive rock -yaaaaaaaaaaaaaasss! Available in independent music stores everywhere and of course to stream below.

Video for the quite brilliant ‘To Nothing’…

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…

Le Thug Play…Tim Hecker, further & Machines in Heaven

Glasgow duo Le Thug are a band I’d definitely say shouldn’t be judged by their name, just if you were thinking about it. Great instrumental can be a tricky thing to crack and judging by the ear-catching track ‘Sport’ they’ve started with a mighty fine crack at it.

Here they share the love with their Play a Song for Me selection of great music!

Le Thug’s Chilling Selection!

Ravedeath 1972 – Tim Hecker

Electronic but in no way artificial, on this album Hecker creates searing soundscapes which naturally mesmerize you with their intensity.  His Glasgow gig in May at St Andrews in the Square was equally captivating.  Sitting in darkness, on temporarily assembled pews in a converted church seemed the perfect environment for hearing his music at tremendous volume.  As religious an experience as I’ve ever had anyway.

She Lives by the Castle 2 – further

further are a 90s lo-fi American indie guitar band.  I think they contained member/s that went on to form Beachwood Sparks but I much prefer the further material to Beachwood Sparks.  This tune is probably one of my favourites of all time and I’d like others to hear it too.  Guitar is sublime. Outro amazing.  

Machines in Heaven

Machines in Heaven are a Glasgow band who make tremendous post-electronica-dreamcore music .  I just made that genre up, so for a better description of how they sound listen to this superb demo track from their forthcoming album.  In fact, listen to the whole Soundcloud, its really rather good.

Listen to Le Thug’s track Sport right here, part of a forthcoming free EP  Ripping, which will be released shortly.

If you listen to one thing this week…Make it Remember Remember

Hello August!

I saw Remember Remember live for the first time at Thistly Fest last Saturday and sat contentedly silent for the whole set…here’s why I love the Graeme Ronald’s instrumental ensemble:

              Because they’re not afraid of the xylophone             

              Because they have a great drummer   

              Because of the spacey samples

              Because of the really pretty video for ‘Scottish Widows’

              Because their album The Quickening was remixed by Phantom Band and Errors

              Because when you start listening to them you forget where you are

              Because their music is downright magical

Phantom Band remix of Unclean Powers taken from the remix record The Mixening (The Quickening Remixed):

The aforementioned pretty video for Scottish Widows:

Yusuf Azak Plays…The Velvet Underground

Yusuf Azak is a talented Glasgow based singer songwriter, whose debut album was released on Edinburgh’s Song By Toad label last year, following some self released EPs.  He got in touch with me about the follow-up EP, Prizefighter, four songs which showcase his enviable songcraft and a gorgeous vocal.

Yusuf shared a classic influence as his song of choice, and here’s why…

The Velvet Underground…The Velvet Underground & Nico 

Now listen here folks, when I heard ‘Heroin’ by The Velvet Underground, I was at the tender age of 12, and I lost it. Completely f**kin lost it.  Very naive about it’s lyrical content but I was still delighted at finding this band, and it was definitely a world apart from anything I had heard on The Chart Show.  At the time I just considered the album, The Velvet Underground & Nico,  generally as sixties music, but it took a few years to appreciate it’s experimental approach.  I usually try to sneak it on at any social occasion, or at work, and it still props up on playlists in the house.  I only avoid it when I’m hungover.

The songwriting itself can be very traditional but the drones and the ramshackle performance send it in another direction.  I was really drawn in by the vocals and later on I began to appreciate the unpolished production, especially when I started doing my own recordings on tape machines.  There’s obvious noise right from the start, and lots of warm distortion all over the record; instruments are out of time, and out of tune and nobody seemed to care.  It has a real nihilistic element and it never seems unnatural; and I still find it very infectious.

I fell in love with The Velvet Underground when I was young too, because a boy I liked thought they were the shit. My favourite mix CD used to feature ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and ‘Sunday Morning’, and a great live version of ‘I’m waiting for the Man’.

Here’s ‘Heroin’ with footage from Andy Warhol’s Symphony of Sound, you can also watch an incredible acoustic performance of it here.

I think you can hear their influence in Yusuf’s latest track ‘Immunity or Rescue’ and style as a musician generally, they shared a pared down emotive simplicity.

And you can download his Prizefighter EP for free via bandcamp!  ‘Swim’ is an absolute stunner.