Tag Archives: scottish music

Biffy Clyro & Me

Biffy

Tonight I’m going to Glasgow for Biffy Clyro, the Scottish rock band I’ve loved for almost a decade. When it comes to the escalating success of musicians I can be stubborn, originally refusing to buy a ticket based on it being their only Glasgow gig, on a Monday and at an arena venue. I still believe this to be a poor effort.

392

The reason I’m going? Double album Opposites came out and I hands down love it.  In no particular order  here is a personally annotated journey through the Biffy back catalogue, hope you enjoy the music.

Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies

When I was twenty three I’d come back from spending a year teaching in China, then rocketing round the country looking for ‘a job in media’. Of course I ended up at home in Inverness, working for my Dad in an office. The highlight of my day was walking from one office to another to pick up the mail as I had the time to listen to one song. On a whim I’d bought Puzzle, from the first time I heard this song I was addicted to the album.  It’s a modern classic and the beginning still gives me goosebumps.

27

With any band I start to like it’s important to go back to the beginning. 27 is from Biffy’s first album Blackened Sky, there’s also a really nice B side from the record called Hope For an Angel.

Glitter & Trauma

A considered track from 2004 release Infinity Land, Simon Neil’s offbeat lyrical charm is a winner.

Justboy

My sister was introduced to Biffy after a Rockness slot, during which they were LOUD, the crowd was mental, it was kind of an off day. She trusted my judgement enough to go to a Corn Exchange show that August, this song now reminds me of the many times we’ve seen them together.

Whose Got a Match

One of the highlights of their live set and another track from Puzzle.

Folding Stars

A really beautiful song from Puzzle, lyrically it’s one of my top picks.

Biblical

The current epic hit from Opposites was my favourite track from first listen.

Finally I wanted to share ‘The Fog’ from Opposites, but I can’t find a version of it online. The melody is really beautiful.

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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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Playing with Matches

Music fans: you are in for a treat. Recently I was sent an EP from mysterious musician Matchsticker Maker, containing three low-fi songs which are entirely bewitching.  Here he talks about four treasured musicians, just make sure you get to the bottom…

Matchstick Maker Plays…

Stanley

A band from Aberdeen that I know almost nothing about and have never seen live, but whose album “Animals With Amazing Disguises” is incredible. It’s some of the most invigorating and exciting sounds I’ve heard in ages, plus the guy’s voice is heart-stoppingly rich. Check out the album opener “Join Hands” and try to get your vocal chords around the top notes near the end. 
Late one night in May I was driving in the middle of nowhere way up North, with a late sunset burning on the horizon, I switched on the radio right in the middle of that song “Join Hands”. I’d never heard it before, didn’t know who the band was but I genuinely had to stop the car when I heard that melody, and then it turned out to be a live session! Fearless vocals, mind blown. Then they did a brilliant Goldfrapp cover.
(I love this live version)

 

Jonnie Common

I somehow stumbled across the album “Master Of None” just as it came out which is quite rare for me, but I immediately loved it and have pretty much played the vinyl to scratch-laden death since. It’s just great catchy, witty and interesting songs, the track “Hand-Hand” contains the lyric “I can’t skateboard to save my life, but I like to imagine what kind of bizarre scenario might involve me having to do so”… you can’t beat that…  

I was playing at the Jura Festival a few weeks ago and on the Sunday morning someone mentioned that night’s gig involved “Jonnie-something-or-other”. I managed to sneak in to see his set and it was even better than I’d imagined, in a village hall next to the distillery, tiny crowd, cabaret seating, candles, one man and an omni-chord – as far as pleasant surprises go it was way up there. If you’ve got any sense at all, go and see him live.

 

Dead Man’s Waltz

A folk-noir band from Skye. I’ve seen a few great live shows from these guys but the most memorable was when I supported their album launch during a stormy October night in an old stone barn on Skye, a perfect setting for their bleak and majestic soundtrack… (some poetic license and/or altered perception might have influenced that memory a bit but it’s definitely fairly accurate.) 

 

Check out the video for “Swings and Roundabouts”
and Emmeline…

and find their album here

Ben Sollee

I’m amazed he isn’t far more well-known than he is. He’s an American cello-playing singer-songwriter from Kentucky, which is different, and his songwriting is charmingly eclectic & just fantastic. He’s just released his fourth album but I first heard him when a friend played me the song “Panning For Gold” a year or so ago from his 2008 album “Learning to Bend”. The whole idea of the song is beautiful (imagining god as an old man with dementia) and musically it’s heart breakingly intimate.

 

 

Of them all of those above I find Mr Sollee a standout, beautiful song.

And don’t forget to check out the Matchsticker Maker EP right here” The songs were bubbling around in my subconscious for a wee while so, while a storm whipped up outside, I sat by the stove in my wee cottage and recorded them with one mic and a battered old guitar I was given about 10 years ago.” In particular I find Evergreen to be a timeless, beautiful piece of music.

 

 

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:

Conquering Animal Sound Play…Stephan Bodzin

Glasgow duo Conquering Animal Sound, who are James Scott and Anneke Kampman,  made me think twice about techno. Never particularly my genre of choice their dazzling tracks are pretty enthralling, so I was pretty keen to see who they themselves would rate highly.

Stephan Bodzin’s “Liebe Ist…”

Anneke and I regularly wax lyrical about this album in interviews. It’s easily one of my very favourite records, and I’m sure that as
long as people are asking us “What are your influences?” I’ll be giving this album a mention. It’s entirely instrumental, it’s dark,
minimal techno, and it’s very, very repetitive, but the layers of rhythm, texture and melody that it contains are breathtaking at times, and I defy you to put on any of the tracks and fail to be moved by it.

Eye opening stuff!

After the success of last year’s Kammerspiel Conquering Animal Sound are busy working on their next album, hurrah! You can find them on tumblr

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

Call to Mind are playing…Pandit

Call to Mind are, if you don’t already know them, simply worth checking out. The Glasgow based four piece have been making self-tagged ‘glacial pop’ for several years, an atmospheric blend of electronic sounds and sultry vocals. Their debut LP is due out in 2012.

Martin from the band suggested a track from Pandit, a gem of a discovery and incidentally perfect Sunday morning listening.

Pandit- Kathryn My Love

Pandit is Lance Smith from Lumberton in Texas. He records everything from his home studio. His ‘Steady Nerves and a Strong Heart’ EP is rather lovely.

Listen to the Latest Call to Mind EP below, or downloaded it at Bandcamp for free!