Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow’

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Back in the day – this would be late 1983 or early 1984  – I had worked as a rep for Virgin Records the label.  Those were the days when Virgin were churning out band after band, some of them better than others – The Records,  The Motors, Japan, XTC and Magazine were among the better options on offer.  Having come back from the latest Meeting at which there was no doubt but to get out there and mercilessly plug the latest Culture Club album, But at that time there was a new Glaswegian band called The Blue Nile who had made one indie single that sank without trace and whose records Virgin Records were now distributing.

The Blue Nile’s debut album was – ‘A Walk across the Rooftops’.  With lots of synths, clattering electronic percussion, chugging guitars, angst-ridden male singer – but somehow The Blue Nile had taken all these ingredients and turned them into something that was utterly unique.  Where other synth-laden bands would just come off sounding cold and mechanical, The Blue Nile had somehow contrived to suffuse their electronic tableaux with warmth and humanity.

In early ’84, ‘Rooftops’ felt like a great record, though not without its moments of indecision, but the remarkable thing is that it still sounds nearly as good today, nearly 30 years later.  It wasn’t really the singles from the album – Stay’ and ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’ that made it sound so different to everything else; they were great singles that barely shaved the Top 40, but there were so many others like that at the time, seemingly unable to deflect public attention away from Boy George.

It was more the tracks that you had to revisit – the ones with lengthy silences in the middle of them and seemingly endless echoing fades, songs that sounded like they were recorded in the dimly-lit halls of an empty railway station at 3:30 am – songs like the title track and ‘Easter Parade’ or like ‘Heatwave’, that slowly built powerful castles in the night-time air out of the thinnest of preambles. And then there’s ‘Tinseltown‘……

One of my all-time favourites songs, if anything, whilst ‘Stay‘ has faded in my affections over the years, ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’ is still a song I probably love even more now than when I first heard it.

Like many bands that emerged after punk, The Blue Nile are defined by their limitations. Vocalist and guitarist Paul Buchanan later said told The Independent: “I’ve always found it strange that people missed the ‘punk’ aspect of A Walk Across the Rooftops. We were living in a flat in Glasgow with no hot water. We barely knew what we were doing and that was very liberating.” Buchanan’s guitar skills were limited, and the trio didn’t have a drummer, so the trio built around the assets they did have; Buchanan’s soulful voice, and Robert Bell and Paul Joseph Moore’s keyboards and synthesizers.

While 1980s synth-pop hasn’t always dated well, The Blue Nile’s classy, shimmering music has aged gracefully. Bell and Moore’s arrangements are almost symphonic in their carefully constructed grandeur. Buchanan’s yearning voice adds a human element, similar to contemporaries like Peter Gabriel or Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis.

The Blue Nile in the early days….no-one was doing anything like this, except maybe Japan, and their knowing orientalisms were maybe just a little too arch and self-conscious to have the same impact.  Interestingly, once Japan had split, David Sylvian headed off into similar territory and his 1986 album ‘Gone to Earth’ sails through Blue Nile waters at times.

Of course, I duly proceeded to bore everyone about the Blue Nile and was almost willing their singles into the top Forty, but somehow it never really happened. ‘Rooftops’ remained frozen in time as one of the great ‘one-off’ albums of the era.

Hats had a troubled gestation, after touring 1984’s debut A Walk Across the Rooftops, The Blue Nile were sent straight back into the studio to record a followup. Without material, the group spent almost three years (!) recording without result. They were forced to vacate the studio for another band, and returned to Glasgow where Buchanan was able to overcome his writer’s block. Despite the five year gap between albums, and all of the studio time, Buchanan later claimed that half of Hats was recorded in a week.

Now, amazingly, finally, after most of us had given up on them, The Blue Nile had a new album out!  ‘Hats’ was the album I thought I’d never see and it was seriously good as well – probably lacking a stand-out track like ‘Tinseltown‘, but a bit more consistent overall.  Paul Buchanan’s achingly poignant voice and elliptical lyrics found nuggets of meaning in the elusive minutiae of everyday life. These were songs of loss and yearning and if you could almost make a case for ‘Rooftops‘ being an album of teenage wonderment, then it was equally possible that ‘Hats’  had us nicely settled down with a significant other and travelling the night-time highways.

The next album just reinforced it worked for me, it seemed that The Blue Nile in the autumn of 1990, with ‘Hats’ well-established on the playlist – came news that The Blue Nile were touring the UK. When Paul Buchanan finally spoke to the crowd, you could hear knuckle-cracking tension in every syllable  but every hesitant sentence was greeted with shouts of encouragement, applause, laughter and sheer outbursts of joy. It could be argued that The Blue Nile’s music is perhaps more ‘electronically assisted’ than other bands, with its samples and banks of electronic gizmos, but the sound was crisp, the performance right on the money and Buchanan’s voice the central rock on which waves of sound crashed throughout the performance.

Buchanan’s good at deflating his own romanticism. ‘Saturday Night’ could easily turn into a mushy love song, but his image of “an ordinary girl” grounds the song in reality. The strings don’t arrive until halfway through, and cascade all over an already beautiful song.

Another 6 years to 1996 and another Blue Nile album; different this time, with Buchanan’s acoustic guitar at the forefront and again the eerie feeling that the band and the lives they were living somehow paralleled my own.   Peace at last’ was the album, less feted by the critics than its predecessors, but still a worthy successor to ‘Hats’.  Here were songs about the sweet tedium of family life, the feeling of having settled. Still, there was Body and Soul’ another Blue Nile anthem.

And so to ‘High’, the Blue Nile’s 2004 release, an album which seemed to aim for the purely electronic tones of the first two records.  The lyrical undercurrent is more mixed on this album, with songs about commitment and staying power, but also tales of loss and of travel and with at least one landmark song, ‘Because of Toledo’.  It’s another excellent album , filled with light and shade and the slow turning of the seasons. Four albums in 21 years.

In 2006, Paul Buchanan toured as a solo act, with Robert Bell on bass (and other musicians), but without P.J. Moore, then the Buchanan/Bell duo + band toured again in 2007 & 2008, this time as The Blue Nile, but again without Moore.

So perhaps we can hope for some new Blue Nile material soon. The Blue Nile are famous for their lack of productivity. The Glasgow-based group were formed in 1981 and effectively broke up by 2006, and released a mere four albums during their quarter century tenure.

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Glasgow is a special place, and the bands it produces are often very special.  The Yummy Fur are no exception, if you haven’t listened to them before then do.  There’s lots of great 90’s indie on display here and Piggy Wings is an excellent greatest hits compilation.  Besides, if it’s good enough for John Peel, then it’s good enough for us.

Singer / guitarist, John McKeown, fronted the band from their 1992 inception (scores of cartoon melodies under a minute long delivered at high velocity) until their demise in 1999. Along the way they recorded three albums: Night Club (1996), Male Shadow at Three O’Clock (1998) and Sexy World (1999). Firm favourites of John Peel, they recorded two sessions for the much revered DJ and regularly featured on his show.

The Yummy Fur were a Glasgow based art-rock group who existed between 1992-99. Throughout their existence they were led by vocalist/guitarist John McKeown, with a host of collaborators and co-conspirators over the years.

Taken from Piggy Wings – the best of The Yummy Fur Out 18th October 2019 on Rock Action Records

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Glasgow-based songwriter Molly Linen is too release a pair of tracks that are set to feature on her debut EP, “Outside”, available from on Lost Map Records. Ahead of the release this week, Molly has shared the latest track lifted from the record, “When They Didn’t Care”.

Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Molly has suggested When They Didn’t Care is about, “worrying too much about what other people think, and the moment you realise that they don’t actually really care”. While the realisation that someone doesn’t care at all can be crushing, it can also be liberating, freeing you from trying too hard to impress, as Molly sings, “rows of everything you want to show, thinking always of what they can know”. Musically, it might be Molly’s most ambitious production to date, as the prominent bass melds into the steady rhythms of guitar and drums; it’s a track with as much in common with Ultimate Painting or Amber Arcades as it does with the folky comparisons she’s received previously.

Further fire for the growing evidence that Molly’s debut EP might just be the year’s finest to date.

Molly Linen is a Shropshire-born, Glasgow-based songwriter and guitarist. Her beguiling voice is both emotive yet serene recalling the dulcet whispered tones of Cat Power, layered upon melodic guitar lines which draw influence from artist such as Devon Sproule and Nick Drake. Linen’s latest single ‘When They Didn’t Care’ touches on,  The single follows the release of Linen’s wonderfully received debut single ‘Away’ (May 2019), which was described as “remarkably mature, so beautifully focused, and so frightfully exciting” by influential blog For The Rabbits, with radio play from the likes of BBC 6Music (Gideon Coe) and BBC Radio Scotland (Vic Galloway and Roddy Hart). Whilst at Spotify the single was added to several high-profile playlists including NPR’s .

The Outside EP, from which both singles are taken, is a collection of accomplished, atmospheric and personal songs written in, and inspired by, Linen’s life in rural Shropshire and the West End of Glasgow where the EP was recorded. As Linen expands “Some of the songs on the Outside EP reflect on my personal experiences of being out in nature and feeling the many emotional benefits, whilst others are observations of being in particular environments and noticing small details.” The Outside EP was written by Molly Linen (guitar/vocals) and features Beth Chalmers (keyboard, harmonium and vocals), Liam Chapman (drums, synth and vocals) and Gemma Fleet (bass). It was recorded by Ronan Fay at Green Door Studios, Glasgow,

Outside EP is out today via Lost Map Records.

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Having already received support from Clash, BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and M Magazine, Glaswegian five-piece Acrylic return with another melodic indie anthem ‘Post Punk For The Abyss’ bursting with jangling guitars and well-crafted vocals.

When asked about the inspiration behind the track, Acrylic’s lead vocalist Andreas stated “Post Punk For The Abyss was born out of a playlist of post-punk revival songs made for me by a friend, Joe, who features on the cover artwork for the single. I was quite down at the time and he thought it would cheer me up. The lyrics reference various songs and artists from the playlist; Iceage, Ought, New Order. It’s an homage to them and a toast to feeling good again”.

Band Members
Andreas , Ross, Ruairidh, Lewis, Jack
released June 14th, 2019

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Scottish Fiction are proud to present tonic youth, the brand new single from Glasgow four-piece Wojtek the Bear. “Tonic Youth” is the first of four singles being released by Wojtek the Bear during 2019, which will be collected on a limited edition 10” vinyl, old names for new shapes, in the autumn.

Coming straight off the back of their well received debut album, a talent for being unreasonable, Glasgow’s Wojtek the Bear have wasted no time in getting back into the studio to furnish us with fresh music for 2019. Recording in the legendary Chem 19 with producer Jamie Savage [The Twilight Sad, Miaoux Miaoux, The Phantom Band, RM Hubbert], the band, with chiming melodies, pulsing bassline and swirling guitars, aim for that musical sweet spot between Camera Obscura’s Lloyd I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken and Real Estate’s It’s Real.

Of the track, lead singer Tam Killean reveals; “When I first moved into Glasgow in my early 20’s I quickly encountered people at parties I’d never been exposed to before; kids who’d never worked a day in their life, spent their summers in Val-d’Isére or Biarritz and all seemed to have fucking ponies. This song is about how initially on coming into contact with them I had a bit of a crisis of confidence, thinking that I’d wasted my life by just getting absolutely smashed from the age of 15 onwards.”

released May 3rd, 2019

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After the success of 2017’s There Are No Saints, things just seem to keep getting more and more exciting for this Scottish songwriter, Siobhan Wilson. Siobhan was recently granted a PRS Momentum Music Fund grant, had her song featured on prime time television, and appeared in session on BBC Scotland. All of which might just seem like a sideshow to the upcoming moment of excitement that will be the May release of her upcoming album, “The Departure”.

Ahead of The Departure’s release, Siobhan has this week shared her, “defiant hymn to female empowerment”, April. The track, perhaps unsurprisingly from the title, focuses on the idea of re-birth, and regeneration, and how that gives us all a chance to decide who we want to be; tough, beautiful, even both, as Siobhan sings, “be a mountain if you want…or a mountain flower”. Of the track, Siobhan suggests, “It’s my way of trying to send a direct message out to do whatever the hell you want with your body, your time, and make your own decisions about your life.” Some of the possibilities Siobhan points out seem quite generic, ideas that could be aimed at anyone and everyone, however others feel deeply personal, there’s a certain sense of the pressure women are under to be mothers, and her own desires, to be loud, to fear failure and to embrace success, “you make your own rules, you break the ones you choose”. Siobhan Wilson is walking her own musical path, and sounding this exciting that’s exactly how it should be.

The Departure is out May 10th via Suffering Fools Records.

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Shady Cow is proud to present this very special band on their ‘Run Around The Sun’ album tour. The band are super proud to announce that their second record “Run Around The Sun” will be out May 31st on Rock Action Recordsand Merge Records. Even more excited to release the new song ‘The Conversation’ into the world! Watch the video here.

The band are to play Rough Trade Records on Saturday 8TH June, promoted by Fan Club Records. Pre-order an Album/ Ticket and collect your copy on the day of this live show for FREE ENTRY.

Sacred Paws have a natural inclination not to take things too seriously. You can hear it all the way through a conversation with its two members, guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Eilidh Rodgers, punctuated by rolls of giggles and thoughtful pauses, and you can hear it in the light touch they bring to their music, a jangly blend of indie-pop full of fizzing world rhythms and bright horns.”

Taken from the new album Run Around The Sun out 31st May 2019 via Rock Action Records and Merge Records.

Fan Club’s focus is to promote women-identifying and non-binary artists, designers, musicians and creatives, whilst hanging out and making friends in a safe space, whilst dancing and drinking to a genre-clashing soundtrack of women and non-binary musicians.

They will be selling their ‘zines and other fabulous wares on the night!

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The Vaselines formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1986. Following the release of two EPs, Son of a Gun and Dying for It, and the first and only full-length album, Dum-Dum, in 1989, the band split up. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was a big fan of the band, and covered three of their songs: “Molly’s Lips”, “Son of a Gun” and “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”. He also named his daughter after McKee.

Following a post-Vaselines break, she began making music with Vaselines bass player James Seenan, writing material of a more-mellow flavour. These songs were released under the name Suckle, initially coming out on 4AD Records offshoot Detox Artefacts. This coincided with a John Peel session.

Against Nurture, the only Suckle long player, was released in 2000 on Chemikal Underground.

On 10th April 2006, Frances McKee released her first solo album, “Sunny Moon”.

In the summer of 2006, Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly took to the stage together for the first time since 1990, to perform a set of The Vaselines songs, as part of a joint tour to promote their individual solo albums. This led to The Vaselines reforming on 24 April 2008 for a charity show for the Malawi Orphan Support group at Glasgow’s MONO venue.

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Since 2008, The Vaselines have continued to perform around the world, with members of Belle & Sebastian supporting their live set. On 5th May 2009, Sub Pop released Enter the Vaselines. A deluxe-edition reissue of the 1992 Sub Pop release, it includes remastered versions of the band’s two EPs, album, as well as demos and live recordings from 1986 and 1988.

The Vaseline’s most recent album, V for Vaselines, was self-released in 2014 on the band’s own label, Rosary Music, in order to maintain creative control.

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Glasgow’s Acrylic prepare to kick start 2019 with the release of their infectious new single ‘I’ve Got Too Many Friends’, which came out 11th January 2019.

The single is a soaring slice of indie rock from the offset, filled with jangling hooks, sweeping guitars and effortless harmonies throughout. Frontman Andreas Chrsitodoulidis’ rich, baritone vocal feels instantly reminiscent of the likes of The National’s Matthew Berninger, giving the track an undeniably defiant and endearing sound. Talking about the single, Andreas elaborates “’I’ve Got Too Many Friends’ is about feeling as though you’ve found yourself in an ideal situation, with all the pieces falling together, and knowing that you’re still going to mess it up. It’s about a rift developing in a relationship and explores the naive idea that sex will resolve your issues, even though it will, in fact, be a colourless and sad affair and will most likely send you straight to the abyss.

released January 11, 2019
All lyrics and music by Acrylic

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Formed back in 2014 following the demise of their previous band Golden Grrrls, Sacred Paws are a band who are steadily making impressive waves. Their 2017 debut album, Strike A Match, saw the duo bag the prestigious Scottish Album Of The Year prize, tour across Europe and receive near universal critical acclaim. They made the probably sensible decision not to rush a follow-up out into the world, and thankfully the wait seems to be drawing towards a close with the release this week of a brand new track, “Brush Your Hair”.

In many ways, “Brush Your Hair” picks up where the band left-off, the intricate guitar work, perfect vocal harmonies and infectious rhythms remain; equal part punkish energy, artsy experimentation and perhaps most crucially, a lot of fun. It’s near impossible not to have a good time listening to Sacred Paws, we find our feet involuntarily twitching with the snare drum, our knees shimmying in time to the rapid-fire guitar work. With the promise of more news to come soon, Sacred Paws could just be the sound of 2019.

Brush Your Hair is out now via Rock Action Records.