SAY Award Shortlist vote and #pets4votes scandal…

We mentioned in our round up of this years Scottish Album of the Year long list nominees that a public vote would take place to fill one of the shortlisted finalist spots. Well, the public vote is now upon us and we’re about (checks watch) halfway through the voting period.

Until 11:59 on Wednesday, you can pick your favourite from the long listed albums on the SAY website. The winner of this vote will be shortlised as a finalist along with the judging panel’s other 9 choices.

Now, we are all too aware that we shouldn’t try to influence your vote, after all, there’s several great albums on that longlist, but please don’t be sucked in by the latest #pets4votes scandal on twitter…

pets4votes

Farewell, Bastard Mountain

Scottish indie supergroup, I’ll admit, is a phrase which makes me a bit uneasy. However, it seems to be the term that many have used to describe Bastard Mountain, a new band on the excellent Song, By Toad label featuring Neil Pennycook & Pete Harvey from Meursault, Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow & the Workshop, Rob St. John from eagleowl & Meursault, Rory Sutherland from Broken Records & Reuben Taylor from James Yorkston & the Athletes. (super, eh?) SbTR-A-030 Outer Sleeve EXI wonder though if supergroup is a bit of a disservice. I get connotations of an experimental ego-trip when I hear the phrase but this album doesn’t even come close to falling under that category. If this weren’t members of some of my favourite Scottish bands in recent years, I’d love the album exactly the same. It sounds like they’re are a band rather than loose collective, it references the styles of their own work and ultimately it’s a Bastard Mountain record, not a record by him, her and them. Neil Pennycook and Jill O’Sullivan’s voices sound like they were meant to be recorded together with each complimenting the other. The tracks were written both individually and brought together by all and astonishingly was done in such a short period of time.

We don’t review records much on Elba Sessions which on one hand is a shame but writing reviews is not our forte and we’d much rather not churn out the same cliched dross for every review, just for the sake of doing so. However, some records deserve column inches and that’s why we wanted to feature this record. Listen to the track below and make up your own mind. If you like it, then they’ll play a few gigs at the end of this month in London and Edinburgh. Sadly though, that’s where the supergroup element seems real because if you don’t catch them now then god knows when you might get a chance again…

You can buy the album, ‘Farewell, Bastard Mountain’ here

Bastard Mountain play

London – Shhh! Festival, Sat. 24th May. Tickets here.
Edinburgh – Queen’s Hall, Thu. 29th May. Tickets here

Scottish Album of The Year Award 2014 Longlist

say logo In case you missed it, the longlist for this year’s Scottish Album of the Year was announced a couple of weeks ago and as usual there is no shortage of talent on display. Whether it be Frightened Rabbit’s anthemic ‘Pedestrian Verse‘, Tommy Smith’s National Jazz Orchestra’s homage to Duke Ellington, ‘In the Spirit of Duke‘ or Mogwai’s brooding score to Les Revenants, there is a bit of everything on the longlist of 20.

I probably sound like a broken record (saves this sentence again for 2015), but i genuinely look forward to the longlist being announced every year. Not just because there are albums that I hope will be on there but also because there’s often a few albums which I’ve either never heard of or just not paid enough attention to which I’ll then go and give a proper listen to. This year is no exception. Of course, readers of this blog will have guessed that we’re very happy to see Kid Canaveral’s ‘Now That You Are A Dancer‘, The Pastels’ ‘Slow Summits‘, Rick Redbeard’s ‘No Selfish Heart‘ and ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest‘ by Boards of Canada on the list. However, we’re also delighted to see another stack of albums there, ripe to fall in love with or just give a bit more listening to.

At the end of the day, the SAY Award will go to one winner, but the fact that these 20 albums have shone through the hundreds of albums released in this country, is quite the achievement in itself.

This year’s longlist is as follows;

Adam Holmes and the Embers – Heirs and Graces
Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse
Biffy Clyro – Opposites
Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
Camera Obscura – Desire Lines
CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe
Dunedin Consort (Dir. John Butt) – J. S. Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos
Edwyn Collins – Understated
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
Hector Bizerk – Nobody Seen Nothing
Kid Canaveral – Now That You Are a Dancer
Mogwai – Les Revenants
Rick Redbeard – No Selfish Heart
RM Hubbert – Breaks & Bone
Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire – Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire
Scottish Chamber Orchestra (R. Ticciati) – Berlioz: Les Nuit D’été
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra – In The Spirit Of Duke
Steve Mason – Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time
The Pastels – Slow Summits
Young Fathers – Tape Two

Currently the SAY website is streaming a longlisted album a day on their website. A public vote will follow for 72 hours starting on May 28th.

Process

Where You’re Meant To Be

I’ve become quite fond of Scotland lately. I mean, I’ve lived here all my life but growing up in Aberdeen, things just felt a bit more insular. Age of course has a part to play, you can’t just go roaming about the lochs of the West coast as a 13 year old, that is unless you want to get the emergency services in a fluster.

I’ve lived in cities or large-ish towns all my life and I’m now settled in Glasgow. I’m a little bit older now (with responsibilities) and I’ve got the ability to explore a bit more. Whether it be a family holiday in the East Neuk of Fife, a stormy, but gorgeous traverse of West coast peninsulas or a weekend catching up with friends in Edinburgh, this country has got the ability to make my heart grow warmer with each and every adventure, and often my first thought is my soundtrack to those visits.

Music is a constant in my life. I’m humming something when I wake up and I usually have something stuck in my head by the time I go to sleep at night. Often, I’ll associate songs with places that I’ve been or I find that when I hear something I’ll think to myself, that music really sounds like a particular place. Is that odd? Do other people do that? Tell me that when you hear The Pastels that it doesn’t make you yearn for Glasgow’s fading autumn sunlight? Just me?

And of course, this brief ode to, well, me travelling about Scotland with music in my ears is going somewhere. A film, doing a very similar thing but y’know properly and probably not in a Fiesta with suspension problems listening to songs on an old iPod or CD player, has been announced as part of the Glasgow 2014 cultural programme.

Photo by Neale Smith
Photo by Neale Smith

‘Where You’re Meant to Be’ sees filmmaker Paul Fegan, you might know him from ‘The Copper Top‘ video or pigeon fancying short ‘Pouters’, team up with Scottish cult-pop raconteur Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap) to explore Scotland’s musical and storytelling traditions. They’ll be going on a road trip with an accompanying troupe which includes, James Graham (The Twilight Sad), Jenny Reeve (Bdy_Prts) and Stevie Jones (Alasdair Roberts, Arab Strap, Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat et al.) for a set of concerts in places from Aberdeen to Oban and Loch Ness to Glasgow’s famous Barrowlands.

The gigs will have their roots in tradition with songs sung, tales told and merriment had (complimentary whisky drams will help that) and they take place at a series of iconic Scottish venues and locations.

19 April Port of Ness (Lewis) Ness Social Club 9pm
23 April (TONIGHT!) Faslane Peace Camp 7pm
25 April Aberdeen Blue Lamp 8pm
26 April Cullerlie Farm Park 7.30pm
27 April Edinburgh Caves 7.30pm
9 May Drumnadrochit Village Hall 7.30pm
10 May Lerags Kilbride Church Yard, Oban 7.30pm
17 May Glasgow Barrowland 7pm

You can check on ticket availability on the Where Your Meant To Be page.

The film is due to be released in late summer and promises a “life-affirming, intimate and irreverent tribute to Scotland, its stories, its songs and its people – and it offers a modern, vital take on an oral tradition that has endured for centuries, and which continues to influence our national identity”

I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

Head over to the East End Social

ee socThe East End Social is a new music and community engagement programme based in the east end of Glasgow. Principally run by Chemikal Underground with support from the 2014 Commonwealth cultural programme, the social has already lined up an impressive list of events with many more to be announced.

Despite having arguably Glasgow’s best venue, the Barrowlands, on it’s doorstep, the east end seems to be crying out for a more organised and varied music scene and the East End social appears to be the perfect hub for this. Taking in several venues around the east end including Rutherglen Town Hall, Platform (Easterhouse), the afore mentioned Barrowland ballroom and what appears to be the social’s ‘home base’, The Bowler’s Bar in Bridgeton, the East End social already has a wide and varied programme of events. Whether you’re after some Sunday afternoon jazz, a bit of Ghanaian kologo or a day chilling in front of a Reggae soundsystem, the East End social seem to have it covered. There will also be a set of intimate gigs hosted by BBC radio’s Vic Galloway as well as current Scottish album of the year winner RM Hubbert, who will be playing, along with friends, at Rutherglen Town Hall.

With loads more to be announced, you might want to keep your eyes pointed eastwards.

East End Social website

East End social on Facebook

East End social on Twitter

Interview: Appletop

All the way from Toulon, in the sun-kissed South of France, Appletop have been pleasing our ears lately with their forthcoming album, Brave Mountains which will be released through Armellodie Records, on March 10th. Drawing on influences from Teenage Fanclub to Pavement, this is alt-rock at it’s most catchy. It’s easy to see why not only I love it, but also why 6music have taken an interest too.

Appletop - Promo 3

We had a chat to singer Pierre (in impressive written English, très bien!) who told us a bit about their music, their forthcoming album release and details of a Glasgow gig which is happening in April (further details to follow soon). You can also grab yourself a download of Madonna in Love, taken from their forthcoming album, at the bottom of the interview.

This is your first UK release, how long have you guys been making music together, and how did you meet?

We have been making music together for a looong time. We’ve been friends since high school, and released our first EPs in 2008/2009 and our debut album in 2010. Quite a classic story. Friends before bandmates, meeting at schools and gigs we were going to.

What’s your local music scene like?

It’s…unexpected. In the south of France, there is not quite a genuine rock n roll tradition. To be honest, not many people are into indie music or just music (if they are, it’s mainly reggae/rap), so it’s quite hard to find an audience, and in this respect, we’ve been relatively lucky I’d say. On the other hand, we’ve seen some quite amazing bands (in quite different styles), coming from our hometown, writing/playing fantastic music : Mina May, Mystik Motorcycles, Hifiklub, Tatiana Sauvage and Bokanosvky. Well, okay, even if they have remained (for now) rather confidential, these are brilliant bands, we grew up amongst them, which is definitely an inspiration.

On top of this, we now have good festivals, and in particular two great festivals directly in our hometown (Midi Festival and Rockorama) with outstanding line-ups every year.

You’re co-releasing the album on A Quick One Records in France and Armellodie in the UK. How did the link with Armellodie come up and why did you want to work with them?

Our first album was released on quite respected French label, but for reasons beyond our control it closed. At the same time, we were playing our first gigs in the UK, and somehow, we felt like we really wanted to give it try over there. Olivier Cancellieri (bass), who has also been mixing most of the album, is a total nerd. He’s often buying and selling gear online, and I think at some point he traded something with Scott Maple from Armellodie, and we started checking out their roster, so finally sent some sounds. They were cool enough to give us a shot.

We reckon we can hear a bit of Teenage Fanclub in your sound, which for us is never a bad thing. Are they an influence? Who else influences your musical style?

There is probably no point hiding that we are HUGE Teenage Fanclub/Pixies/Breeders fans. Well, we grew up in the 90′s, and it’s definitely the kind of music we all love, and where we met. At the same time, I don’t think we are really trying to write/play/produce music from the 90′s. We don’t make music to pay tribute to the past. To us, we are just trying to make music we like, it’s not like we thought about it and gathered saying “let’s make this kind of music”. Its just what happened, it’s selfish : us making music we like!

What are you listening to right now?

We all really dug the latest Mac Demarco, all three of us fell in love with St Vincent, so we’ve been checking out her new album. I heard Olivier (Cancellieri, Bass) is into Holograms, and Nicolas (Faou, drums) really enjoyed the latest Kurt Vile and Violators. (I also recently discovered Vampire Weekend, years later, so it’s a bit in my ears right now)

Have you got any plans to visit the UK? What about a summer holiday to Scotland?

This is happening pretty soon. I heard we might play Glasgow on Monday April 14th – check out www.appletop.eu, we’ll put that on very soon!

Finally, we have to ask, where does the name come from?

This is too silly to give an honest answer. For the most curious reader, the answer is inside our new album “Brave Mountains”, so I guess if you purchase it, you’ll know. HA! (Or maybe I’m just lying, and then you’ll never know. I guess you’ll just have to give it a try)

Brave Mountains is released by Armellodie Records on March 10th. You can pre order your copy here.

Appletop will also be playing in Glasgow on April 14th but as this is just ‘hot of the press’ news, we’re not entirely sure of all the details, I think it’ll be in The Roxy though! So yeah, keep your eyes peeled and definitely go along.

Words + Music

_Horsecross-prods-WAM-full

I’m all for a bit of education. If someone has done something remotely cool that I might be interested in also doing, then I’d like to know how they did it. Music Industry conferences seem to be becoming more of a fixture than previous and it’s good to see that it’s not just the big cities who are holding them. It’s also good to see the quality of the speakers who are travelling to share some advice and words of wisdom.

On March 14/15, Perth will play host to the Words + Music Expo at the Perth Concert Hall and will encompass discussion panels, workshops, practical advice as well as some showcase performances and some special guest appearances.

Amongst the speakers will be Stewart Henderson (Chemikal Underground/SMIA), Rod Jones (Idlewild) and Paul Downie (Comets & Cartwheels). You can view the full programme over on the Words + Music website.

As well as the nitty gritty business stuff during the day, there are a series of showcase gigs on the Friday and Saturday nights. Elba favourites Poor Things play a showcase gig as well as Pinact, Lidh, Randolph’s Leap and the formidable looking Saturday night at Greyfriars bill, headed up by Alasdair Roberts and Siobhan Wilson. They’ve also just announced that RM Hubbert & Emma Pollock will be doing a turn on the Friday!

Delegate passes are available from the Perth Concert Hall site.

The Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites Award 2013 (The Scottish BAMS)

A little later than in previous years, the 2013 winner of the Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites Award (or BAMS as it is known affectionately in some circles) was announced, with Chvrches taking the number one spot for their critically acclaimed album, ‘The Bones of What You Believe’.

The votes were cast by 40 writers from 29 different blogs and music sites with 164 different LP’s getting nods. As ever, it was nice to see a few of our picks making the top 10. Boards of Canada, The Pastels and my top pick Kid Canaveral to name a few. Here’s how the masses voted;

1. CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe (Virgin)
2. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic)
3. Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse (Song, By Toad)
4. Rick Redbeard – No Selfish Heart (Chemikal Underground)
5. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp)
6. The Pastels – Slow Summits (Domino)
7. The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
8. Steve Mason – Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time (Domino)
9. Kid Canaveral – Now That You Are A Dancer (Fence)
10. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus (ATP Recordings)

Here’s how your Elba writers voted;

Kim

1.Savages – Silence Yourself
2.Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
3.Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
4.My Bloody Valentine – mbv
5.RM Hubbert – Breaks and Bone
6.Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
7.Sparrow and The Workshop – Murderopolis
8.Bill Callahan – Dream River
9.Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
10.The Pastels – Slow Summits

Phil

1.Kid Canaveral – Now That You’re A Dancer
2.Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
3.Thirty Pounds of Bone – I Cannot Sing You Here, But For Songs Of Where
4.Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
5.Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
6.Sparrow & The Workshop – Murderopolis
7.The Pastels – Slow Summits
8.RM Hubbert – Breaks & Bone
9.Monoganon – Family
10. Fidlar – Fidlar

The massed writers are as follows;

Almost Predictable, Almost
Avalanche Records
Detour
Elba Sessions
Everything Flows
For Malcontents
Vic Galloway
Jim Gellatly
Glasgow Podcart
The Herald (Alan Morrison)
Houdi
Is This Music?
Jock’n’roll
Jockrock
La Terrasse
Last Year’s Girl
Manic Pop Thrills
Net Sounds Unsigned
The Pop Cop
Radar
Rave Child
Marion Scott
Scottish Fiction
The Skinny
Song, By Toad
The Spill
Tenement TV
The Tidal Wave of Indifference
TYCI

Stag & Dagger Festival 2014

STAG_2014_ART_2nd-507x714

Stag & Dagger is back in Glasgow this May, a few weeks earlier than usual and this time on a Sunday rather than a Saturday, taking advantage of the Bank Holiday weekend. An excellent bit of planning. We’ve mentioned before how fond we are of multi-site city-fests and I’ve looked forward to Stag & Dagger each year it has taken place. Over the years we have seen memorable sets from Django Django, Willy Mason, The Phantom Band, Linden, Hot Panda and Bill Ryder Jones.

This year, split between the ABC, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Broadcast, the CCA and the newly-reopened Art School, acts already announced include Los Campesinos!, Albert Hammond Jr, Courtney Barnett, The Hold Steady, Arc Iris, Laurel Halo and Lanterns On The Lake. More acts will be announced soon but limited earlybird tickets will be available from today.

I made you a mixtape…fifteen

Sold out shows seem to be the order of this last week. I’m a little sore about not getting a Bill Callahan ticket for this Saturday’s Celtic Connections appearance. Similar tardiness led to missing out on The National’s docu-tour-fam-dram Mistaken For Strangers at the Glasgow Music and Film Festival, which has a delightful musical accompaniment from the second artist on this, our newest mixtape. Not all is lost though because many a Celtic Connections show has been enjoyed by ourselves, including a couple courtesy of BBC Scotland’s live sessions, plus payday rolled around and now there’s a stack of gig tickets waiting to be taken and torn, leaving stubs to be used as bookmarks. Does anyone else do that, or is it just we two (potentially three)?

Mogwai – Hexon Bogon [BUY]

Kim: Mogwai made the top ten!

Mogwai made the top ten!

Mogwai made the top ten!

The band’s scoring of Les Revenants may have been a catalyst for recent popularity, amongst which this week there has been a sold out show at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as well as their single cask whisky selling out at The Good Spirit Co. Whatever the instigator, it is overdue and long may it continue. Enjoy the swift dramatic rumble of Rave Tapes’ album art-track Hexon Bogon.

Mogwai made the top ten!

Rozi Plain – Humans [BUY]

Kim: The last entry I made on Elba was a post packed full of information about the Glasgow Music and Film Festival. There was so much detail that the articulation of my overall enthusiasm may have been drowned out. It’s not often that my giddy chatter will be interrupted by such seriousness but I’ll allow it once again here. One of the most desirable events, as expected, was Mistaken For Strangers at The Glad Cafe. Lost Map Records’ Rozi Plain will play after the screening. Alas it’s now sold out but if you are unfamiliar with last year’s Joined Sometimes Unjoined then Humans should unite you.

Richmond Fontaine – Moving Back Home #2

Phil: This weeks excuse to shoehorn an old Richmond Fontaine track on to the mixtape comes in the form of a new piece of writing. Willy Vlautin, frontman of RF has just had his 4th book, ‘The Free’ published in the US and UK so I thought it was a good excuse to put on one of my favourite tracks. Vlautin’s writing is pretty reminiscent of his songwriting, tales of America set against (mostly) bleak backgrounds. I love reading his books and strangely, for all the gloom and hardship that he writes about, it really makes me want to go on a midwest road trip. Not only is his fourth book released this year, his first book, The Motel Life, has been made into a film. You can see the trailer here.

Kid Canaveral – Who Would Want to be Loved – [BUY]

Phil: I’m still muddling through my albums of 2013 for the Scottish BAMS vote and Kid Canaveral’s ‘Now That You’re A Dancer’ is sure to be in the reckoning. They’re releasing this track on hot pink heart shaped vinyl and if that wasn’t romantic enough, they’re having a Lumber Party at Stereo on February 14th ably assisted by Lost Map label mates, Randolph’s Leap, Malcolm Middleton and on the wheels of steel, The Twilight Sad. Hawt!

Pixies – Greens and Blues

Phil: People seem to be a bit down on the Pixies at the moment. Lamenting the passing of a bass player named Kim, saying they aren’t what they were, yes, there may be some truth in these statements but I couldn’t help listening to their latest EP and thinking that this unashamedly poppy hum-along wouldn’t have been out of place when they were in their celebrated prime. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would have been an indie club floorfiller.

Joanna Gruesome – Wussy Void [BUY]

Kim: Hey dreamy vocals over punky sounds. You please me. The Weird Sister LP is rich with such style and also has a track entitled Lemonade Grrrl, which has my heart aflutter. Wussy Plain is toned down Joanna Gruesome and still tries to rip apart your eardrums on the chorus. Joanna Gruesome play alongside Speedy Ortiz and Pinact on 15 February at Broadcast. Ear protection is advisable.

PLANK! -Aphidelity [BUY]

Kim: Procrastination has its value. I have discovered that when reading through guidelines and policy gets you down, Twitter is always there to while away the hours. I think it was the artist name and title that first stirred me into further investigation. Then I saw the artwork and HOLY CRAP I WANT TO SEE THAT MOVIE WHERE A GIANT BUG DESTROYS A CITY TO A SCORE OF INTERGALACTIC PROGGY-KRAUT-DISCO! So, PLANK! have written a Moroder meets Murphy instrumental. Now we just need a modern day Carpenter (this might not delight many but Rodriguez springs to mind) to make that film.

I made you a mixtape…fifteen by Elbasessions on Mixcloud