Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow’

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Scottish alt-rock quartet The Van T’s return with a buzzing new single, the ‘Seeing Stars’. The fuzz-laden ode to self-preservation is out today via 7 West Music. The Van T’s are the West of Scotland 4-piece comprised of Chloe Van Thompson (vocals, guitar), Hannah Van Thompson (vocals guitar), Joanne Forbes (bass) and Shaun Hood (drums).

Produced by Margo Bloom at Hermitage Studios, the reverb-driven track serves as a taster of their upcoming EP. Charmingly caustic and confident, The Van T’s manifest the pursuit of happiness into a soaring dreamscape of vocal harmonies, percussion and lyrics that speak to existential becoming.

“I wrote ‘Seeing Stars’ off the back of an ongoing battle with mental health issues,” explains Hannah Van Thompson. “After a year-long slump I started off with the lyrics ‘I want to believe in something inside me’. It started off as words on paper and grew arms and legs until eventually I had a song. I’m happy with the way the music itself resonates a sense of growth in strength. I wanted the song to be punchy and bright, it sort of reflects the way I want to progress in getting better. I hope those who have the same issues can relate to this song.”

The Van T’s Released on: 2020-06-19
Band Members
Chloe Van Thompson,
Hannah Van Thompson,
Joanne Forbes,
Shaun Hood,

As made clear already by widely-spread preview track “Kill It In The Morning” and first single “Sick,” The Twilight Sad’s third full-length, No One Can Ever Know, marks a sonic shift for the band. Freshly inspired by a listening diet of Cabaret Voltaire, Can, Liars, Magazine, Autechre, and Public Image Limited, the band turn to a dark, synth-heavy sound for No One Can Ever Know; the resulting LP shares thematic and sonic space with the most innovative offerings from Depeche Mode, The Cure, or even Nine Inch Nails. “We wanted to be a lot more spontaneous, get outside our comfort zone – not to fall back into repeating what we’ve done previously,” explains guitarist Andy MacFarlane. “So we moved to London for a month to record at The Pool and got Andrew Weatherall involved to bounce ideas off and to generally reassure us of the direction we were already progressing in – toward a sparser sound, with a colder, slightly militant feel.”

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Under the guidance of Weatherall the band experimented with vintage analogue synths – borrowed from producer Ben Hillier – to work on the core sounds they wanted, finding further inspiration in the distinctive production style of innovators like Factory Records’ Martin Hannett and Cluster‘s Conny Plank.

Originally Released February 6th, 2012

We have been talking about recording a live album for a long time. We think this is the best we’ve been playing as a live band and wanted to document that. With five albums of material we felt now was the time.
Over the past few months we were figuring out how to release the album and then covid-19/lockdown/gig cancellations happened. We quickly decided that we would release the album digitally on a pay what you want basis. The reason behind this is that we know that financially it is a worrying time for a lot of people and for ourselves included. We wanted to make sure we could give everyone who likes our band one of our gigs live in their living room as we can’t be out in the world playing gigs right now.

We wanted to make sure that anyone who wants the album can afford it as well. I hope everyone is doing okay. I hope this helps. The title of our last album It Won/t Be Like This All the Time has been living with me for the past three/four years and right now that sentiment feels stronger than ever. We’ll get through this together.
Sending our love to you and all the health services around the world.

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On what was originally to be the date of the first of two nights at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom, The Twilight Sad release It Won/t Be Like This All the Time Live: a momentous collection of live recordings captured across the band’s 2019 tours, one of the busiest years to date for a group well used to the live circuit.
released April 16th, 2020 The Twilight Sad  – James, Andy, Johnny, Brendan & Seb,

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It’s not very zeitgeisty for bands to unironically shred these days. It’s a welcome shakeup when bands revolt against the simplistic, reverb-drenched plucks that characterize much of the popular indie world—as long as they’re not swapping them for something much worse, like insufferable classic rock revivalism or the radio rock wasteland of “whoa-oh-oh’s,” embodied by bands like Imagine Dragons or Bastille. Glasgow’s Catholic Action are a case study in how to subvert those conventions, while simultaneously making something seemingly fresh. They stitch together pop, punk, indie, glam and garage rock, always with bold guitars at the center, but most crucially, there’s a contagious bounciness to their music. The four-piece band released their debut album, In Memory Of, back in 2017, and it was a frequently amusing, occasionally dark collection of hopped-up pop songs with knobby guitar tones. It was also one of those records that made you remember what it was like to actually hear irresistibly hummable basslines in guitar songs that are decidedly not funky indie-pop or stark post-punk.

On their 2020 follow-up “Celebrated By Strangers”, the four-piece led by singer, guitarist and producer Chris McCrory, are firing on all cylinders again, ready to remind you that guitar solos still rule—if they’re as interesting and well-executed as these, that is. While their debut album delivered its fair share of peculiarities, Celebrated By Strangers is peppered with even more moments of unexpected zest.

Catholic Action – Celebrated by Strangers

It would be fair to say that Celebrated By Strangers, the second album from Glasgow’s Catholic Action, has had a complex gestation, with recordings sessions for the record dating back to at least 2017. While promoting their debut record In Memory Of, singer and guitarist Chris McCrory told us that he wanted the follow-up “to change what it means to be in a guitar band” and feature My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields on guitar. This is not that record. After all, the biggest change here isn’t sonic but the frontman’s own decision to confront injustice and let rip.

Musically Catholic Action are still deeply indebted to the sound of classic rockers like Status Quo, The Cars and T. Rex with opener Grange Hell’s noisy intro giving way to two minutes of jittery power-pop and several tracks featuring guitar solos worthy of striking a pose to.

Lyrically though they have pushed on a long way from their debut. Almost every track here has some kind of political message. Lead single One of Us is a noisy masses-against-the-classes throw down with McCrory proclaiming himself ‘the welfare son of a welfare son’. It’s a track that the singer describes as “written as a direct response to what I see happening in the UK – a country ravaged by poverty and a disintegrating social fabric of increasingly isolated and intoxicated people.”

Elsewhere from the sprightly indie disco of People Don’t Protest Enough to the closing Four Guitars (For Scottish Independence), McCrory sees the state of the world and decides he’s had enough. While there is a debate to had over whether retro rock is the most progressive or convincing medium with which to sell this message, his commitment and zeal is impressive.

They’ve not forgotten how to write a melody either. Another Name For Loneliness has a swooping vocal and a keyboard line that threatens to resolve into a David Bowie song at any second, while Sign Here is an explosive ballad that seems to address exploitation in the music business.

At times it feels like a strange fusion of medium and message but it’s a triumph that Catholic Action manage to imbue an increasingly staid format with some revolutionary zeal.

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As we continue to mourn the loss of Andy Gill, the celebration of his band’s influence on young groups within and outside of his native UK continues on with every dancy post-punk album that creeps into our most listened to Spotify playlists. Shopping have been in such playlists for five years or so now, and the release date for their fourth album may just be the balm we need for the Gang-of-Four-sized hole in our hearts.

The London-formed trio of guitarist Rachel Aggs (now based in Glasgow), drummer Andrew Milk (yep, also Glasgow), and bassist Billy Easter (a newly christened Angeleno) are the rare kind of supergroup that works; it seems like a shared passion for new wave has inspired a chaotic camaraderie often defined by their penchant for stepping on each other’s toes. At times their staccato instrumentation is met with agreeable vocal harmonies, though it seems more common that the trio find themselves singing over each other.

One such song from “All or Nothing”—out today—is “No Apologies,” which Easter describes as being about “intense indecision and feeling like you’re being pulled in several different directions emotionally.” Summarizing much of the group’s back catalog, she explains: “We all sing at the same time in parts of this song, and for me that also reflects the noise that can fill your head during times of high emotion.”

For more insight on each individual track from all three band members, read on for the descriptive track-by-track below. All or Nothing is out now via FatCat Records

1. “All or Nothing”

Rachel: We wrote this song when we had some days off tour in Seattle, staying with a friend of a friend who happened to have a really nice practice space in his basement. I remember coming up with the main guitar riff, and Andrew instantly came in with this drum part that started on the second beat of it—I find it so satisfying to play, that drum beat, and the way Billy’s bassline drops in with it has such a cool kick to it. We wrote the second part as a totally separate song and then smashed them together. Our songwriting method is pretty chaotic that way.

2. “Initiative”

Rachel: This one came out pretty fully formed. Sometimes that just happens! We played it on tour in Germany and I tried out various weird lyrics on stage, I figured a German-speaking audience wouldn’t judge us too harshly for talking a small amount of nonsense whilst I figured out what I wanted to sing about. When we were mixing in LA with Nick Sylvester, we added the rolling Moog baseline in the chorus, because he was like, “We need to make the chorus really explode,” and we loved it instantly. It,s a frustrated song about responsibility and blame, it’s pretty angry, but it has this groove that propels you forward.

Billy: The bassline for this one also came to me while we were in the Seattle basement. It’s kinda frenetic, I was feeling very excited/anxious and I think it shows in the sound we produced. It was also a few days before we performed to the biggest ever crowd at San Francisco Pride, a very exciting time!

3. “Follow Me”

Rachel: This song began life reacting to the experience of literally being followed around a shop by a security guard, thinking about surveillance and profiling, what do you represent as a person of color or part or a counterculture or wearing a hoodie—what does it take for a person to look suspect or visible and how does it feel to be that person?

Billy: We couldn’t ignore that the words “Follow me” also hold another meaning with regards to social media, personal brands, and cults of personality, though. It’s also about feeling aware that the image you are projecting online is often distorted/amped up/unreal, but (especially as a band or a musician) you are still benefiting from that illusion. There is something sexy about this deceptive power play. The thrill of the chase, knowing that someone is thinking about or watching you. “CCTV is living for me.” We complain constantly about breaches of privacy and surveillance culture, but part of us also loves the attention. I remember writing this being really fun, we were dancing around a lot.

4. “No Apologies”

Andrew: Deciding to make significant changes in your life can be a complicated struggle with yourself, your self-doubt, and saboteur. Nothing is ever truly black and white. This song is about that internal struggle with your own choices. How do you weigh up what you have to gain against what you will inevitably lose? Fragile relationships are strained and broken, risks are calculated and taken, but it’s always a leap into the unknown.

5. “For Your Pleasure”

Rachel: This one’s about the feeling of constantly longing for something that is just out of reach, or that you can’t yet name. “What you see is what you get”—the feeling that doing something reckless or satisfying in the moment will bring you some kind of transcendent joy when really you will probably just end up with a hangover or a lingering sense of regret. Being in a loving relationship but still having nagging thoughts about the thrill of having a crush/dreaming of other realities and choices you could have made. I was really learning on the spot when it came to the synth on this song but I remember we really wanted that propulsive, arpeggiated sound and I was so pleased with myself when I figured out how to do it. Billy and our friend Lessa Millet made an awesome video for this song with loads of fabulous friends at the dance party of our dreams…

Billy: I would love this song to be a queer dance anthem! So Lessa and I went with that theme when making the video for the song. It was really fun!

Andrew: I started a Hi-NRG club night with a friend in Glasgow about a year ago and have been pretty obsessed with arpeggiated synth and octave jumping so was really pleased with the heavily ’80s disco vibe we created with this track. It has a really satisfying outro that reaches a kind of fever pitch.

6. “About You”

Rachel: I really love how this song starts out pretty sparse and odd, but then takes this unexpected melodic turn at the end—it felt pretty different to anything we’ve done in the past, a lot sweeter sounding.

Billy: I feel like this is kinda the sad love song of the album, again maybe about feeling happy but needing more. I really love it, I think it’s the most “beautiful” song we have ever written, and I feel a real surge of emotion when the song builds towards the end.

7. “Lies”

Andrew: This one was about being true to yourself and valuing that in others. About not being able to stand by while a friend or loved one is undervaluing themselves/not being true to themselves and/or putting themselves into situations that you know are toxic/harmful.

8. “Expert Advice”

Andrew: Truth is a difficult concept to hold onto in this day and age—“Can you rely on this narration?” How much of what we hear and read in the media is a story tailored to our own pre-existing biases? In the limited dealings we’ve had with media it’s hard to not subconsciously tailor our own responses to fit our own story as a band—when, in reality, your conception of who you are/what you do and for what reasons can change from moment to moment. We all sing on this one which always feels awesome, that the three of us felt inspired to relate to the track.

Billy: For me this can also apply to personal relationships, when we tailor ourselves or play a role that we think will make other people accept and love us.

9. “Body Clock”

Rachel: This guitar riff is so stupid we still refer to it as “Rock Song,” and we couldnt really take it seirously for a while. When we played it to Davey Warsop, who recorded the album, he liked it so much that he convinced us it could actually be a proper song, but it didn’t get a real name ’til right before we mastered the album.

10. “Trust in Us”

Andrew: I liked how the wording can put you in mind of a hypothetical person in position of power, and also a tongue in cheek way of talking about our band. As in, “We are on album four now and you can trust in us, dear listener.”

Band Members
Billy Easter, Andrew Milk, Rachel Aggs
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it’s extraordinary to recall that Stone The Crows survived a mere three years.

The band were formed after the passionate vocal style of dynamic singer Maggie Bell was introduced to Les Harvey by his elder brother Alex Harvey. After playing together in the Kinning Park Ramblers, they called their next band Power but was renamed Stone the Crows  by Led Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant. The band’s first two albums were recorded with the original line up and Bell’s vocals were described as being similar to Janis Joplin’s.

But Maggie Bell and Leslie Harvey had both been working long and hard before their latest venture finally took shape, way back in 1969. They deserved the success that finally came their way. Their blues-based rock was imbued with that extra power and authentic flavour that sprang from their tough Glasgowegian roots.

The band was co-managed by Grant and Mark London. London was associated with pop star Lulu as the co-writer of her signature song, “To Sir With Love” . London had also managed the predecessor band Cartoone, in which Peter Grant had a financial interest and had featured Les Harvey on guitar. Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch would subsequently replace the main songwriter Harvey as lead guitarist, following Harvey’s on-stage death by electrocution at Swansea’s Top Rank Suite in May 1972. Ironically Stone The Crows greatest triumph was in the summer of 1972 when Maggie’s determination led the band through success headlining at the Crystal Palace Garden Party and Lincoln Festival and a wonderful received autumn tour. Sadly not even that could hold the band together, After Harvey’s death the band reconsidered their direction Stone the Crows ultimately broke up in June 1973, and Peter Grant continued to manage Maggie Bell’s career. Guided by Grant, Bell subsequently recorded two solo albums, Queen of the Night (1974) and Suicide Sal (1975).

Bell is also known for her session work on Rod Stewart’s album Every Picture Tells a Story (1971), in particular her co-lead vocal with Stewart on the album’s title track.

Jimmy McCulloch joined Paul McCartney’s group Wings,

Stone the Crows (1970)

Stone The Crows‘ (Polydor) was produced by Mark London and released in 1970. Jimmy Dewar shared some vocal duties with Maggie and co-wrote the material. “We recorded the album in Advision studios, London, with Jimmy Dewar and John McGinnis. Jimmy was a great singer and he sounded a bit like David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears. We shared the vocals on that album and we made a great team.”

One of their first collective pieces was opening cut ‘The Touch Of Your Loving Hand.’ Says Maggie: “That was a really melodic piece and could have been done by a big band. It’s a song that could still be performed today and wouldn’t seem out of place. It was done in the style of Ray Charles or Roberta Flack. There is a great guitar solo on this by Leslie.” ‘Raining In Your Heart‘ was by Jimmy Dewar and it was quite an up tempo thing with lots of breaks and cymbal crashes.”

Most of the album material was a regular part of their stage set including the bluesy ‘Blind Man.’ Maggie re-recorded this in November, 1996 during sessions for the ‘History Of The British Blues‘ an album produced by Pete BrownJack BrucePeter GreenMick Taylor and Big Jim Sullivan are all on the album intended as a tribute to the late blues harp player Cyril Davies.

Says Maggie: ‘Blind Man‘ is a traditional song that Josh White used to perform. It’s a real blues song. One of the reasons I got into black music was from listening to Josh White.”

Another ‘cover’ on ‘Stone The Crows‘ is The Beatles‘ ‘Fool On The Hill‘ and explains Maggie: “I always wanted to do this because it’s got great lyrics. We didn’t really do it like the Beatles but I remember Petula Clark once said it was the finest version she’d ever heard!”

I Saw America‘ is a massive epic that covered side two of the original vinyl album. It was born out of the band’s first trip to America and was intended as a tribute to that great country. Some U.S. record executive however thought it was a rather odd idea.

Maggie: “It’s in four parts and starts off with the different States we visited, from the Deep South to California. Musically we tried to describe how we felt about the different places. It’s like a musical travelogue! Other members of the band had been to the States before, but it was my first trip. It was a strange situation though, because the American record people said: ‘but why do you want to write a song about America?’ They seemed to think only Americans should write about their country!”

Album sales weren’t huge but as Maggie says: “It did all right and enabled us to make another couple of albums.”

Ode to John Law (1970)

After their second effort ‘Ode To John Law‘ (1970), John McGinnis and Jimmy Dewar quit and were replaced by Steve Thompson (bass) and Ronnie Leahy (keyboards).

The next album ‘Teenage Licks‘ (1971), proved to be their most successful and from then on Stone The Crows played all the major rock festivals. Maggie won the Best Female Vocalist award in the annual Melody Maker readers poll and with her raunchy, sincere style she was hailed by many critics as the natural successor to Janis Joplin. Things were looking good, then just when it seemed international stardom beckoned, Leslie Harvey was electrocuted and died on stage, before a gig at Swansea’s Top Rank Ballroom. It happened during a sound check when Les touched a ‘live’ mike and his guitar at the same time. The band were devastated and never really recovered from the blow. But for the moment, they decided to carry on.

Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac was a possible replacement. He spent some time rehearsing with them for a major rock festival. Two days before the show he rang to say he couldn’t make it. Steve Howe of Yes helped out, then another young Scottish guitarist, Jimmy Mcculloch came in to help finish off the fourth album ‘Ontinuous Performance‘ (1972).

Stone The Crows hadn’t really written anything before we did our first album, so I think our music was very good for the times. When you consider it was all done 25 years ago, it doesn’t sound too bad!”

Teenage Licks (1971)

This third album from Scotland’s Stone the Crows was as close to hitting on all cylinders as they ever came in the studio. With some personnel changes following Ode to John Law (a new bassist and keyboard player), they powered through the disc, with “Big Jim Salter,” “I May Be Right I May Be Wrong,” and their version of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” being the absolute standouts.

The figureheads of vocalist Maggie Bell and guitarist Les Harvey had never sounded better as they worked in a pure rock vein, abandoning the blues aspect of their sound (Indeed, “Aileen Mochree” took them into Gaelic, a pleasant, brief side track) — check “Mr. Wizard” to get a good picture of where they were really headed. Of course, it wasn’t a one-dimensional sound; the keyboard-dominated “Seven Lakes” was full of pseudo-classical portentousness, almost de rigeur for the period. But it was when they rocked that Stone the Crows were at their best, and with this album they seemed truly poised to move up to the big time.

Ontinuous Performance (1972)

Much of Ontinuous Performance was already in the can when guitarist Les Harvey was tragically electrocuted onstage on May 3rd, 1972. The band brought in young guitar wiz Jimmy McCullough (ex-Thunderclap Newman) to take his place, but really, in a band like this, no one could have filled his shoes — a listen to Harvey’s guitar work on the instrumental “King Tut” shows how far he’d come, and how integral his particular style of playing was to the band’s sound.

Ironically, out of tragedy came a brief moment of success, as “Good Time Girl,” released as a single (and, except for gender, it was a perfect Rod Stewart song) hit #12 on the U.K. singles chart. But there was also a return to their blues roots with the acoustic “Penicillin Blues,” while “One More Chance” offered Maggie Bell an opportunity to show her soulful vocal chops. However, they blew it during the nine minutes of “Niagara,” a piece that, it sounded, was never finished before release. It was would have impossible for the band to let go of Harvey without a song, and it comes at the end of the disc, the ballad “Sunset Cowboy,” which is touching and heartfelt.

After this record the disheartened band broke up.

Jimmy did his best but the heart had gone out of the group, and they finally broke up in 1973. Jimmy went on to play with Paul McCartney’s Wings while Colin Allen, their drummer, joined Focus. Maggie released two well received solo albums produced by Jerry Wexler, ‘Queen Of The Night,'(1973), and ‘Suicide Sal’ (1975).

Maggie Bell now lives in Rotterdam, Holland, and is still singing and recording. In 1995 she did a tour of Scotland with the old Alex Harvey Band which went down a storm. She also toured with Chris Farlowe for three years. “I have been keeping busy. I could never give this business up!” She says.

Stone The Crows were a great band and we had some wonderful times on the road. We toured with Roxy MusicDavid Bowie and Marc Bolan, and in the States we played alongside Frank ZappaEdgar Winter and the MC5.

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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.

Rockact106

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.