Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Unwinding Hours - The Unwinding Hours.

Aereogramme have an extremely loyal cult following in Scotland. It’s hard to go to an indie rock gig in Edinburgh or Glasgow and not bump into someone wearing a ten year old Aereogramme t-shirt. Their fans stayed loyal as their sound softened, and then they suddenly disbanded in 2007. Those loyal fans can breathe a sign of relief – or yelp of excitement – as vocalist Craig B and multi-instrumentalist Iain Cook have paired up as The Unwinding Hours.

Opening track ‘Knut’ is an epic, yet slow burning post-rock classic. Building up from timid vocals, slow drums, swirling guitar and piano to a full-blown crescendo of noise and earnest vocals. With quiet to loud dynamics being Aereogramme’s forte, The Unwinding Hours are perhaps a more restrained version of that. ‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone’ demonstrates the maturity adopted by the band, starting of as a heartfelt lament with lush strings which are replaced later in the song with spectral guitars and heavy distortion. ‘Solstice’ witnesses Craig B’s lyrical ability at it’s very best, it is also shows how The Unwinding Hours are a completely new band, rather than Aereogramme Mk II. The simple guitar/piano/vocal combination again demonstrates the maturity behind this album, when before the pair may have tried to over-complicated songs.

The Unwinding Hours also has its pop moments, with ‘Peaceful Liquid Cell’ veering into that territory, with its repetitive hooks complimented by dark synth effects.

Closing track ‘The Final Hour’ was written on Aereogramme’s final US tour and definitely indicates that The Unwinding Hours is a new chapter, rather than a continuation. Although the new incarnation is not a million miles away from its predecessor, it is definitely uniquely its own, often eclipsing its previous chapter. Aereogramme is dead. Long live The Unwinding Hours.

Originally written for The Line Of Best Fit

Panda Su/Julia and The Doogans/Sophie's Pigeons at Brel

Walking into Ashton Lane you would think you would be forgiven for thinking you were in continental Europe. Cobbled roads, fairy lights hangings across the top of the lane, wonderfully quaint buildings. The location of the gig compliments the bands playing to varying degrees.

Shuffling in late, my friend and I feel it polite to stand at the back, we are promptly told to sit at the front by Sophie's Pigeons front-woman, Sophie Nelson, who throughout the gig would laugh during songs, sing Sharika and generally have a good time. It rubbed off on me, as I was the only person in the crowd joining in a falsetto sing-a-long. The three piece from Manchester thundered through their set with their feel good bastardisation of Regina Spektor crossed with some disco biscuits. Their cover of 'She Wolf' by Sharika was a personal highlight, with Nelson's vocals yelping, while she demonstrated some top notch piano tinkering. They finished up with 'Boring Fucking Cunts' which I can only assume was aimed at the lackluster crowd, who were very reluctant to join in with anything that the band requested them to (apart from me, of course, always one to make a 'Stupid Fucking Cunt' out of myself).

Next up were Julia and The Doogans, a Glasgow five-piece whose foot is very much in the folk camp. Julia's vocals are reminiscent of Amy Millan (Stars, Broken Social Scene) and tonight she demonstrates her ability to transfer her songs into a live setting. Songs such as 'New York City' and 'Borderline' are almost lullaby-like, accenting the sleepy venue and crowd perfectly. Flanked by a cello and flute, The Doogans add depth and extra warmth to Julia's already soothing vocals. Many people in the crowd had their heads in their hands when Julia started her rendition of 'The Scientist' by Coldplay. This snobbery came back to bite them, as Julia nailed it, making it sound like just another Julia and The Doogans song. Lovely stuff.

Panda Su took to the stage next, I was excited to see her live as it was, shockingly, my first time. I was disappointed that she wasn't donning her panda face paint tonight, as I love a good bit of gimmickry. Su was backed by her usual accomplices Red and drummer Chris. Her blend of folk-pop had highlights such as the superb 'Eric is Dead' and a new working of 'Moviegoer'. I couldn't help feeling that through her set Panda Su were playing with a certain amount of restraint. As soon as a song seemed like it was about to climax, it didn't, and I was left waiting for the killer punch. This could have been due to the subdued crowd, with the sitting arrangement giving the venue a definite jazz bar feel. However, Panda Su are going to be massive, I have no doubt about that. With one of their songs about to be featured on 'a lesbian sex scene' (I presume they meant Skins), and an excellent e.p to boot, Panda Su have all the makings of a band who could actually transfer success into the charts. I just hope the next time I see them, the rest of the set grabs me like 'Eric is Dead' does.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Band to Watch - Shooting Stansfield

Taking their name from Gary Oldman's character in Léon, Edinbugh band Shooting Stansfield's emotive indie is much more of a reluctant hug rather than a murderous hitman. Forming in September of last year, the band has wasted no time in recording their debut EP, 'Human Static' at The Wee Red Bar with Alex Fenton.

The title track starts off as an indie folk lament, erupting into a plethora of catchy guitar hooks and sing a long choruses. It reminds me of fellow Scots There Will Be Fireworks, but less post-rock driven. Singer Stewart Douglas' distinctive vocals compliment the accompanying driving bass and drums and swirling guitars from Stephen Whipp, Craig Robertson and David Steel, perfectly. This is again demonstrated in the slow building song 'Pulse', which again takes influence from several bands in the Scottish scene (Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Idlewild), combining heartfelt lyrics with soaring guitars.

One thing I can take from my introduction to Shooting Stansfield, is that they show how Scottish bands are now looking to home-based bands more than ever for inspiration, and the results are compelling to say the least. If the band can build upon their sound and become a serious live force, then I predict big things for these guys.

Shooting Stansfield - Human Static

Shooting Stansfield - Pulse

Forthcoming debut EP 'Human Static' is launched on 4th March at Sneaky Pete's, with support sets from Windlestray and Birdhead.

Monday, 15 February 2010

HF@D Presents... Scottish Compilation Volume 1

Music in Scotland is extremely healthy at the moment, not enough people realise that. To demonstrate the caliber of up and coming bands in Scotland I've compiled a free and legal album to download. As well as home-based bands, it features Scottish bands based elsewhere (Spaghetti Anywhere, King Post Kitsch), established Scottish bands (Meursault, eagleowl, Copy Haho), some exclusives (The Last Battle, How To Swim, Kays Lavelle) and some bands I just think are great. Stick these 17 tracks in your ears, and remember, most of the bands have an album or an e.p available, so try and support the artists. A big thanks to all the bands for agreeing to be on it.

Download album here (zip. file via Mediafire)

Track Listing
Spaghetti Anywhere- Super Special
Meursault- The Furnace
The Last Battle- Oh Best Beloved.
Mitchell Museum - Tiger Heartbeat
How To Swim - Diego
The Kays Lavelle - The Hours
Copy Haho - Pulling Push Ups
Julia and The Doogans - New York City
The French Wives - Your Friends and Mine
Randolph's Leap - Cassie O'Tone
eagleowl - Laughter
Debutant - King Of Doublespeak
Ambulances - Cease To Exist (Steven Mason Remix)
King Post Kitsch - Fante's Last Stand
Incrediboy and The Forget Me Nots - Cinderella
Miniature Dinosaurs - (I Want To Watch) Top Gear
The French Quarter - Time To Leave

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Music Lyric Interpertation #4- 'Put A Donk On It' - Blackout Crew

Donk [doh-ink]
donk.ed,, donk.less

1. A sub-genre of bouncy house, a genre of music which makes your ears infertile.
2. A bass sound used in songs exclusively listened to by people called Daz, or Baz, or Gaz, while they drive their Honda Civics or Vauxhall Novas around in a circle in a Tesco car-park. It is an example of onomatopoeia.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Hrtbrk Mix

Firstly, there is this, so that I don't depress everyone;

IT'S A YOUNG TOPLESS CHRISTOPHER WALKEN! If that doesn't make you happy, then you are dead inside.

Here are some sad songs I've been listening to over the last few days. Listening to music is a cathartic experience for me when I'm down in the dumps, so I hope this helps someone else. That is some Dr. Phil shit right there.

The Hrtbrk Mix

Download the whole thing here [right click and 'save as' for the internet dummies]

1. Sunset Rubdown - A Day In The Graveyard II
2. Justin Vernon - Easy
3. Unwinding Hours - There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone
4. Thomas Western - Your Front Door
5. Frightened Rabbit - Good Arms vs Bad Arms
6. Meursault - A Small Stretch Of Land
7. Last Battle - Oh Best Beloved
8. Why? - Good Friday
9. Avett Brothers - November Blue
10. Perfume Genius - Look Out, Look Out
11. Mountain Goats - Love Love Love
12. Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
13. Biffy Clyro - Drop It

Poem of the Week #3- 'Twat' by John Cooper Clarke

John Cooper Clarke is one of the best British lyricists ever. His spoken word pieces have had a heavy influence on several bands, most noticeably The Arctic Monkeys. He has struggled with drug abuse all his life, but this makes his piece even more endearing. Not that I condone drug abuse, unless it is the drug of love. 'Twat' is a scathing attack on someone Cooper Clarke doesn't seem like very much. I would post one of his funnier, cheerier poems, but they just don't have the same killer punch as 'Twat'.

Like a Night Club in the morning, you’re the bitter end.
Like a recently disinfected shit-house, you’re clean round the bend.
You give me the horrors
too bad to be true
All of my tomorrow’s
are lousy coz of you.

You put the Shat in Shatter
Put the Pain in Spain
Your germs are splattered about
Your face is just a stain

You’re certainly no raver, commonly known as a drag.
Do us all a favour, here... wear this polythene bag.

You’re like a dose of scabies,
I’ve got you under my skin.
You make life a fairy tale... Grimm!

People mention murder, the moment you arrive.
I’d consider killing you if I thought you were alive.
You’ve got this slippery quality,
it makes me think of phlegm,
and a dual personality
I hate both of them.

Your bad breath, vamps disease, destruction, and decay.
Please, please, please, please, take yourself away.
Like a death a birthday party,
you ruin all the fun.
Like a sucked and spat our smartie,
you’re no use to anyone.
Like the shadow of the guillotine
on a dead consumptive’s face.
Speaking as an outsider,
what do you think of the human race

You went to a progressive psychiatrist.
He recommended suicide...
before scratching your bad name off his list,
and pointing the way outside.

You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart.
You’re heading for a breakdown,
better pull yourself apart.

Your dirty name gets passed about when something goes amiss.
Your attitudes are platitudes,
just make me wanna piss.

What kind of creature bore you
Was is some kind of bat
They can’t find a good word for you,
but I can...

Whatever, Trevor.