Tag Archives: Glasgow music

Generation Belle & Sebastian

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Last week I went to the incredibly beautiful Isle of Skye. A six hour journey just to get there, we drove over 600 miles in total over four days – the island itself being bigger than we’d bargained for.  As you can imagine we were in need of driving music. My pal’s wee fiesta plays CDs only and it was mostly older albums we chose – Peter Bjorn and John, The Beatles, The Shins, The New Pornographers. Then we put on Belle & Sebastian. Listening to a mix of tracks made me think about how much of my life had been coloured by their music – lyrics that would always seem so wry and funny and booming choruses. Their voice – although it wasn’t ours – was superbly young and Scottish, paying as much attention to the mundane, comical and memorable details of life here as we were.

My friend pointed out they formed when we were twelve – a fact which blew my mind. I can’t remember when I started listening to them, their songs seemed to travel to me by osmosis – the radio, American films, a purchase in FOPP and beer-swilling house parties. They’ve also travelled the world with me, in Madrid a bartender played Boy with the Arab Strap as soon as he found out I was Scottish, I went to see them play live for the first time in Brooklyn, Write about Love came out at the exact time I was becoming disaffected with my office job.

Stringbean Jean and Lazy Line Painter Jane are now songs I’ll remember from driving on Skye and I know I’ll love them because of it.

 

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Quickbeam play…AC Acoustics

Glasgow quartet Quickbeam are a band I’ve followed for over a year now, after first seeing them play some stunning music – the dreamy ‘Seven Hundred Birds’ springs to mind – at a gig near Inverness. Describing themselves atmospheric/cinematic, their music is immersive, delicate and beautiful. They are on the cusp of releasing a beauty of a debut album, more on that below.

Guitarist and singer Andrew Thomson shares a musical treasure of his own, Scottish indie rock band AC Acoustics, for the Play a Song For Me archives.

Ac Acoustics

Quickbeam Play AC Acoustics – She Kills For Kicks 

There are many things that appeal to me about this track. I’m a sucker for its relentless simplicity and its unforgiving repetition of the vocal, string and drum phrases. There is also an overriding dark, almost ghostly atmospheric that is so apparent in a lot of their work. Its a track that I always feel should have been massive. AC Acoustics always had a reputation of being this incredibly unlucky band when it came to the music industry. Maybe so, but ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is a triumph as far as I’m concerned. It’s an anthem, albeit a dark one, but one that I often put on and never tire of. This is a band that I don’t want to be forgotten.

 I always admired Paul Campions lyrical style. It’s incredibly poetic, very often obscure and always flows beautifully. Equally it has a steam roller like unrelenting, unstoppable force that holds your ear and doesn’t let you turn away. ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is a great example of this. It just doesn’t stop, it wont allow it. Each verse joins with the previous through repetition of the last line which works perfectly.

 

For me, ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is the highlight of a wonderfully diverse and undoubtedly accomplished album. I always come back to this album and in particular this track. Although it is now around thirteen years old, and the band are long since split up, it still sounds so current. As does the whole album. Please come back AC Acoustics, for one last encore.

Quickbeam’s self titled album comes out on June 3rd, through Scottish label Comets and Cartwheels. Check out a sampler, new single ‘Immersed’ and  track I mentioned up there, ‘Seven Hundred Birds’.

For more visit the band here

Gareth Dickson Plays…Ned Collette

Let’s regale you with a tale music fans! I caught singer-songwriter Gareth Dickson at a recent Edinburgh house concert and was bowled over by the intricate, wistful worlds he conjured with his deft fingertips. An artist who demonstrates incredible skill, his songs have strikingly original compositions and are filled with intricate, mesmerising guitar work.

Here Gareth fills us in on an influence and friend, Australian singer-songwriter Ned Collette.

Gareth High Res

Gareth Dickson Plays…Ned Collette

I have chosen an Australian singer/songwriter called Ned Collette; you can start anywhere with him but if I had to pick a couple of tracks they would be Boulder and The Country With A Smile.

I met Ned in Australia when I was playing there in Vashti Bunyan‘s band. He and his girlfriend came up to me after the gig and we got talking. He told me he was a musician and was planning to come to Europe soon and we swapped email addresses.

For me it’s just great pop music, sometimes he reminds me a little of David Bowie, other times Leonard Cohen, but essentially he has his own voice. It’s usually catchy and melodic but there is always a depth to it as well.

True to his word he came to Europe and actually spent some time living in Glasgow. We met up a few times for a drink and he and his Ozzie pals are among the only people I’ve met who like beer more than Weegies do. I remember one of them in the kitchen at a party completely wasted with his mobile phone in an empty pint glass to act as a kind of bass boost for some awful techno he was dancing too. Hi-tech stuff. They have great phrases too, as anyone else who wasted a good part of their youth watching Neighbours and Home And Away already knows.

Find out more about Ned Collette here and check out a selection of Gareth’s music below! His live set is memorable, catch it if you can.

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.

On Rotation…The Phantom Band

I started to accept that I’m actually an insomniac when I read a collection of short stories on the topic – aptly called Bedlam – and a writer commented that with proper sleep she never would have penned a word. So hello the middle of night/morning, I’m listening to The Phantom Band’s 2009 album Checkmate Savage.

I can’t remember when and where I got the album, have a feeling it was in Avalanche Records on the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. I can remember I went backwards and discovered their second album, The Wants, first.

On this one I utterly adore Island, it still gives me goosebumps and could perhaps feature within my greatest songs of all time. There’s a sailing rhythm to the likes of Throwing Bones and I madly want to sing along to The Howling, it’s so effortlessly random. Not to like overhype it or anything, but in my book the Glasgow band’s musical work is innovative, original and built to last. Live, or relive the album

J