Time to feature some of my favorite music of 2012. There is usually a band with connections to Scotland on my YE list and this year will be no exception. Thanks to the most awesome music blog, 17 Seconds, blogger Ed gave me a fantastic tip to check out Laurence and the Slab Boys. “Laurence” is from The Cinematics, with whom you may be familiar.
I’ve hesitated a few times since getting hooked on their album, Lo-fi Disgrace, on how to (or how not to) describe their sound to friends. There’s a shoegaze vibe, but for a couple weeks it really bugged me whose voice he reminded me…it really drove me crazy. I hate to say that for fear if you’re reading this you might write them off as not having their own merit. In reality I would say they’ve created a hybrid sound. For several reasons I find the album a nice collection of familiarity. Deep into the album I hear Joy Division and there are a couple other singers that come to mind – I’ll let you decide. All are good traits and the songwriting is solid.
The youtube track I’ve chosen is more on the dreamy, shoegaze spectrum. The song doesn’t represent the whole album; it’s intended just to give you a taste. Let me know in the comments if you hear any other famous-sounding voices that I haven’t mentioned. (The album is available via their Bandcamp store.)
You can watch the band perform “Mushroom” via YouTube.
Here’s a new band I’ve been listening to lately. Hailing from Glasgow, they have supported top acts such as Glasvegas and Frightened Rabbit. From the handful of blog posts I’ve read Three Blind Wolves have been compared to My Morning Jacket and Mumford & Sons among others.
After giving their 6-track album (released in March), The Sound of the Storm, further listens I am going to throw in my own “sound alike” comparison. Normally I hate to do that when writing about a new band. But this has been bugging me. I think because the album’s vibe reminds me of a local artist, Arthur Dodge. We used to catch Arthur along with his band, The Horsefeathers, pretty often. I guess because of all the great memories I have of hanging out listening to them I’ve painted them brighter in my mind. Recently I got out a couple of his albums and the just don’t sound like I remember the tracks sounding in person.
Guess that’s bound to happen sometimes. Anyway I think the singer’s voice (of Three Blind Wolves) reminds me more of Noah and the Whale. Take a listen for yourself and leave a comment what artist you hear when you check out the band.
Listen to tracks via:
Sounds like it. Reports are coming in that Bobby Gillespie has approached Glasvegas singer, James Allan, to contribute to a Suicide cover track.
The recording may make it on a commemorative EP in the works to mark the 70th birthday of Suicide frontman, Alan Vega. In the meantime I found a cool piece on Glasvegas from the Boston Globe. Rab Allan takes time out to explain the musical attributes and influences that make up the band. Good stuff!
Since I’ve moved to a different office I’ve been spending a lot more time tuned in to internet radio the past few weeks. And I’ve noticed that I’m actually enjoying listening to radio again. It helps to find a station that has songs you like in rotation!
Late last week while I was dog-sitting a few of the songs in that rotation would come to mind while we’d go walking. The one that stands out at the forefront? Mistress Mabel – the new on by The Fratellis. Can’t get it out of my head. And don’t want to for that matter!
Here’s a recent clip of the band playing the track live on the Jools Holland show. Take note of the flag on the drum kit – nice touch, guys!
There are always several considerations to be made when you’re compiling a list. Everyone knows you need some qualifiers.
On my way to work this morning I grabbed a couple Gun cds along with El Presidente. The latter became an immediate favorite of mine from the get-go. It has energy and attitude. But everything keeps pointing to that being their one and only album. Can I safely list them on my ‘Favorite Scottish Bands’ list?
If so, this is the order I’m feeling today:
- (The Mighty, Mighty) Primal Scream
- Simple Minds
- Jesus and Mary Chain
- El Presidente
- Cocteau Twins
- The Shamen
- The Close Lobsters
- Aztec Camera
Now here’s where I meander – I won’t consider De Rosa (whose debut I luv) until I hear their next album. Yet I don’t hesitate including El Prez. Another band I have a ‘wait and see’ attitude on is Franz Ferdinand. Saw them live & that really boosted what I thought of them, but just putting on their CDs doesn’t do as much for me.
There Will Be Fireworks, Scotland
Status: Unsigned (*gasp*)
I think you’ll agree that it’s a crime this band isn’t signed. They’ve been on my list to check out and I have been pleasantly mesmerized since doing so. They bring a ‘classic’ modern rock sound to the current indie soundscapes. It’s a perfect blend that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Three songs are currently posted and each one is can stand on its own. After a few listens I wonder if the ‘classic’ element I mention above is due to the similarity in vocals to Paul Westerberg. Quite honestly it’s not a distraction at all. Their songwriting draws me in.
I say we all try to give this band a boost – anything from passing along their MySpace to your friends, adding them as a friend…just something to give them some added exposure.
In honor of this Scottish celebration…let us not forget to rock out. Here are a few videos that have special meaning to me and each band has roots in Scotland.
1. Gun – “Shame on You” First band up is Gun. A big stadium band in the 80s/90s. They broke through in the US with “Better Days” – this particular video gives you a feel of their stadium days. They wrote a lot of fantastic songs. Funny enough when I saw them they played a Metallica cover…and sounded just as heavy. It was a treat. One of the Gizzi’s is now the lead singer in El Presidente (another Scottish band that rocks).
2. Shamen – “Ebeneezer Goode” I fell head over heels with the Shamen during the European dance era of the early 90s. I will never forget just being entranced by MTV Europe when I visited while this was the trend…such fun music (even though it was a bit forgettable).
3. Simple Minds – “See The Lights” I have a ton of SMinds stories, but I’ll leave you with this. There is more than one reason that Jim Kerr has always done so well with the ladies. There are a lot of things I like about this band and this video displays many of them: it makes me think of the Scottish countryside, the sound of Charlie’s guitar, and watching Jim’s dramatics always puts a smile on my face.
4. Primal Scream – “Jailbird” (live) Primal Scream are at their best live; I hope I can experience that once before I die. No list would be complete without their inclusion.
They say you should learn something new every day…today I learned that Billy Boyd (one of the Hobbits) has a band, Beecake. I doubt if they become one of my Featured Bands, but they played a gig for charity recently. (Maybe I’ll learn something more substantial as the day moves on.)
Next up is a feature on Emma Pollock (I’m telling you guys you should pick up her new album) from The Independent. She explains why it was important to release her new music on a different label than Chemikal Underground, which she co-founded with her fellow Delgados. And speaking of Chemikal Underground, they’ve received a grant from the Scottish Music Futures Fund along with several other labels and music-related companies. I admire how Scotland is such a fierce little country – this effort is a great way to protect their own with jobs and at the same time help to grow Scottish music that deserves recognition.
On to pop culture…whether you have read any Ian Rankin novels or not, I think you will enjoy this piece from The List. Rankin is usually a good interview with little insights into culture and how it affects his writing as well as his day-to-day life.
And if all this is making you consider planning a break to Scotland to experience it for yourself, you might want to pick up the The Rough Guide to the World. The book hails Glasgow as “Europe’s secret capital of rock music”. Who can argue that? If you decide to grab some music while you’re there then you’ll want to check out this guide to second hand shops. I’ve always wanted to celebrate Hogmanay in Edinburgh - it’s just been announced that this year’s performers are Calvin Harris, Kasabian and Idlewild.
I’d say it’s Scottish theme day what with the posting on Emma Pollack and now this list of “Worst Scottish Records” but if you know me, you know that most days have a wee bit of a Scots’ theme!
A couple of guys started a site to spur the debate of great and not-so-great music hailing from Scotland. The site is called Jock ‘n’ Roll and it’s full of fun info and stats. The media has picked up on the results of the ‘Worst’ list and I’m more than surprised with the ‘Scream’s latest coming in at #10. Huh. Anyway, here’s the list as voted by parties interested enough to cast a vote:
1 Texas – White on Blonde (1997)
2 Wet Wet Wet – Popped In, Souled Out (1987)
3 Sheena Easton – Fabulous (2000)
4 The Fratellis – Costello Music (2006)
5 Sandi Thom – Smile…It Confuses People (2006)
6 Deacon Blue – Raintown (1987)
7 Michelle (McManus) – The Meaning of Love (2004)*
8 Wet Wet Wet – Picture This (1995)
9 The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith (1988)
10 Primal Scream – Riot City Blues (2006)
If you have time you really should check out their site guide. They list and explain who they consider and don’t consider Scottish…it’s so funny! They’ll keep you on your toes. For instance, The Eurythmics don’t count on the chart due to only one member being from Scotland. Snow Patrol doesn’t count either – as they put it “they couldn’t be any more Irish if they were Guinness”. But Franz Ferdinand does count because…well, they just do!
I usually don’t have time to explore new releases the minute they come out. There are a great number that slip through the cracks…like this one. I made my way over to Emma’s MySpace this week & took the time to listen to those tracks posted. Love them. Downloaded the album last night and it feels like fresh air.
Too early to tell whether it will appear in my year-end list, but it has made its way to my car which is a good sign. She’s opening up for The New Pornographers right now. Aversion had a nice feature on her if you’d like to see what she’s been up to since the Delgados broke up.