Tag Archives: music

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…

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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…

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

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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.

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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*

The Last Battle are playing…John Knox Sex Club

Edinburgh’s The Last Battle arrived on my musical radar last year with ‘365 days’, one of the only original New Year songs I could find from a Scottish band (yes folks, they all went for Christmas). The band have a new album coming out later this year, and have just announced the single ‘Hope is Gold’ will be released on June 18th, with at launch night at Pilrig Church.

Singer and guitarist Scott Longmuir talks about a discovery of last year (deftly drawn and modelled by his wee son Oskar)

John Knox Sex Club, Kiss The Dirt
From their album Raise Ravens

I started seeing JKSC’s name getting knocked around on blogs and gig listings well over a year ago. Shamefully I paid them no attention, and rather stupidly it was because of their name; I instantly assumed they were some kind of Glaswegian trendy ironic joke band, so, like a fool, ignored them. (I will never do this again).

In September last year a friend of mine directed me to the opening song on their album ‘Raise Ravens’. He told me I had to listen to it. At 12 minutes long. I thought there was no way I was going to listen to it all the way to the end, but I did, and every minute of it drew me in and thrilled me to bits. It reminds me of early Danananankroyd (who I used to love) only with folk sensibilities and manic violin. It’s equally bonkers & amp; brilliant.

The Last Battle enlisted a violinist (the lovely Jon) into the band around about the same time I heard JKSC, but I can’t say for sure if it was before or after my ears met them.At Christmas we all made ‘secret santa’ mix cd’s for each other and I had to make one for Jon. ‘Kiss The Dirt’ was the closing song and the only one Jon enquired about weeks later. I also bought the album for our bassist Paul’s birthday, and reluctantly handed it over as I wanted to keep it for myself!

Some of us finally got to see them live not too long ago. They opened with ‘Kiss The Dirt’ and blew me away. They were brilliant that night.

Anyway, all I can say is go go buy their album from their band camp page or local record store; it comes in a lovely handmade sleeve, and it’s brilliant, worth the money for ‘Kiss The Dirt’ alone.

I was in two minds on including what is quite a plug there, but I have to say I agree.

Listen to The Last Battle’s Springwell EP here, it’s also brilliant. If you don’t live in Edinburgh, all I can say is think about coming for the music, there are some great things happening…