Category: stuff

reminiscing and some things what are going to be on

I reckon well over 50% of blogs have some sort of post on there somewhere which says “it’s been ages since I wrote”, just like a letter to your primary school penpal. To be honest, 50% of the writing on this blog probably carries that message in some sort of way! However, life does get busy and you’ve got to pick and choose your moments. The good ship Elba is no longer manned by energetic spring chickens (if it ever was) but we are still unwavering in our love for music in it’s many forms.

The ‘getting older’ and time aspect of music has really got me thinking lately. I’ve always maintained that I probably had an earlier introduction to certain types of music than I maybe should have. As a child 8 years the junior of my sibling I would always look up to them and try to be like them. At that age, the main thing you can do is like the same things as them. Luckily my elder brother was a total muso (there has to be a better way of saying that) and was always buying new tapes, then CD’s then vinyl. I’d consume loads of it, not knowing what it was I was listening to but finding out years later just what an impact it had on me. I begun to join all the dots.

Now that I’ve arrived in my early 30’s, I’ve forged my own paths through new music, amassed my own library of sounds and attended more than my fair share of musical events. I also now find myself looking at the beginning of the calendar year and wondering which albums have a 25th anniversary in the offing so I can see which bands I can cross of the bucket list. Of course, I know that I’ll have an ally in my brother who I can go and see them with, always asking the same question, “Did you think when you were 17 that you’d go and see Dinosaur Jr play in the Arches in 20 years? Or EPMD. Or the Jesus and Mary Chain.”

I’ve even looked ahead to think, how old will I be when ‘x album’ is 25? However, something seems to be taking hold and anniversary shows no longer seem to be confined to 25 years. No, in the last few months I’ve started seeing 15 year anniversary shows for albums. Albums which were a big part of me growing older yet I don’t immediately feel full of nostalgia. 15 years doesn’t really sound like a suitable point for a celebration? It’s not one of those landmark ages, like 25 is. It gets me wondering, is it as simple as these musicians wanting to ‘flog another horse’ again because they’ve no longer got new stuff to tour and need the bucks, or is it more probable that music has changed dramatically in the last 10-15 years so records now have a shorter shelf life? Records which are released now need to be immediate. Consumers download it, listen to it and in many cases, it’s then forgotten about. The album is less revered than it used to be. Music is so much more accessible and more people are able to find a wider selection of listening. No longer does everyone just have the choice of the top 20 in Our Price. In having a wider choice of listening, the amount of people behind one album will diminish or you’ll move on to the next new thing before the last album has achieved legendary status in your collection.

Two such 15 year anniversary shows which I’ve notably seen advertised recently were for Badly Drawn Boy’s ‘Hour of the Bewilderbeast’ and the Polyphonic Spree’s uplifting debut ‘The Beginning Stages of…’. In a heartbeat I bought tickets for the latter for their live show at the QMU (not all that long ago, honest!) was really a musical highlight in my life. However, it got me thinking later that 15 year anniversaries sounded odd. Was it that long ago? Am I getting old?! There’s no doubting the two albums are both excellent works but it is probably an indicator of how music has changed that come the 25th anniversary of these two albums there would be less than sufficient interest to make a tour happen. We know that music has changed but I do worry that we place less value and meaning on the albums which we enjoy.

Looking ahead through my gig calendar I see a few anniversaries on the horizon. Notably in June, the celebration of Mogwai at the Barrowlands and Nas playing Illmatic. However, if nostalgia isn’t for you, there is still plenty to be getting on with.

In June thee mighty Bdy_Prts will play Stereo on Friday 12th of June in what promises to be the perfect way to boogie yourself into the weekend.

And if you’re looking for something a bit different where culture meets fashion and music, then grab a ticket for the next Lighthouse Late event which happens on Friday 29th May. Musical treats are abound from Prides, KLOE and the irrepressible Nicola Meighan (DJ) as well as an upcycling t-shirt workshop, an Instagram photo booth and the Tea green Summer Makers market. Throw in a couple of treats from Innis & Gunn and Brugal Rum and it sounds like a pretty good way to spend payday. The fun kicks off at 7:30pm.

Art is Hard’s Pizza Club

Pizza ClubA slice of pizza in your inbox on a fornightly basis? SOLD! Sadly though, we don’t have those capabilities yet, but we can join Art is Hard Records’ Pizza Club, so called because, well, who doesn’t love pizza on a Friday? As Art is Hard put it, “The conventional methods of releasing music are pretty much fucked” so they’ve decided, after a year hiatus, to relaunch their fortnightly pizza club. It’s simple really, sign up for the club, anything from the free subscription to £125 and you’ll get a new single sent to you each week plus some extras if you’ve gone for one of the paid packages. Each single will be released as a strictly limited 5″ pizza single, in a pizza box (obviously), but if you’ve just signed up for free, you’ll get an mp3 emailed to you on every second Friday.

All the info for signing up is on the Pizza Club tumblr page and if you are a bit worried that signing up for free means the download won’t be quality, then take it from us, that AIH seem to have impeccable musical chops, in fact, the first release, embedded below, is a beauty. I’d never heard of Falmouth’s ‘Goddam Nobody’ before but I was totally sold on this fuzz-pop ballad. Go forth, seek it out. Join a singles club this year!

Celtic Connections 2014

Each year I look forward to Celtic Connections. Each year I tell friends that the line-up is great. Each year I say I’m going to this that and the next thing. Each year I fail to get my act together sufficiently. Each year I only scratch the surface. Each year I vow that next year, I’ll make more of an effort. So this year, I’m going to put together a handy list of some of the things I’m hoping to go to. The festival starts this Thursday, the 16th of January and if the selections below pique your interest enough there is a feast of gigs over on the festival website.

Fri 17th January – Mull Historical Society @ The Arches
Colin MacIntyre’s Mull Historical Society are a long time favourite and have several songs that I’m personally very fond of. This gig will see the performance of his 2001 debut album ‘Loss’, in full.

Tues 21st January – RM Hubbert w/ Aidan Moffat @ The Mitchell Library
Were we a lads mag, there’s a high chance that Hubby would have been our man of the year in 2013, alas we’re not, therefore he’ll just have to settle for being a good dude. Having followed up his SAY Award winning album ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ with the equally excellent ‘Breaks & Bone’, this will be Hubby’s biggest Glasgow headline show to date. Aided and abetted by the mischevious storytelling of Aidan Moffat, this is a Tuesday night at the library you won’t want to miss.

Sat 25th January – The New Mendicants @ The Arches
Ahead of the release of their debut album, adopted Ontarians Joe Pernice (The Pernice Brothers) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) take to the Celtic Connections stage with new material and one would hope some tracks from their back catalogues. As a big Teenage Fanclub fan, only wild horses will keep me away from this one.

Sun 26th January – Olive Grove Showcase @ Oran Mor
An evening curated by local bloggers turned label bosses, the line up here not only includes a very rare performance by The Moth & The Mirror, but also performances by Elba favourites Randolph’s Leap, Jo Mango, and The State Broadcasters.

Mon 27th January – Bobby Womack @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
I first came across Bobby Womack on an old blaxploitation compilation which included his song ‘Across 110th Street’. In the last few years he’s become more of a household name after a guest slot on the Gorillaz ‘Plastic Beach’ record which has invigorated Womack, now in his 7th Decade in music.

Sat 1st February – Bill Callahan @ O2 ABC
Hands down the sweatiest gig I’ve ever been too was Bill Callahan at Stereo a few years back. Seems an odd statement, of course, there was no wild mosh pit but combine a midsummer date with a room full of jumpers and beards, and you’ll get why the temperature was so high. Heat aside, Callahan was an excellent performer that evening and IS an excellent songwriter, from Smog to his solo records, so it’s unsurprising that so many people I know snapped tickets up for his straight away.

Sampling Samplers 13-14

‘Tis (has been) the season to download free samplers from labels, ‘zines and other such online outlets. So as well as unwrapping Christmas presents, we’ve been unzipping folders best essay writing service reviews of mp3’s and giving them a listen, and the nice thing that we’ve found, is that it makes you remember some of the great music from last year as well as getting you excited for the year ahead.

Case in point #1 comes from Armellodie Records [FREE SAMPLER HERE]. An assortment of what’s to come as well as some older gems and some ‘rarities’, make this a pleasing listen. I hadn’t listened to The Douglas Firs or Conor Mason in a while and it was very nice to become more acquainted with their newest signing, Appletop. They’re from France, which the label tells us most helpfully, is in Europe. The following track has really whet my appetite for their album, which will be released in March.

Another album that I’m rather looking forward to, which is due out this year, is by Now Wakes The Sea. We put on what I think was their first gig as NWTS back in 2010 and I still remember some of the cool shit they did with noises and looping a transistor radio with a cassette player (i think that’s what it was anyway). They’ll be releasing the follow up to ‘Fluoxetine Morning’ this year on Edinburgh’s mini50 records who handily also give you a bit of an insight into their label with a sampler [DOWNLOAD HERE]

Another local label dishing out the free stuff (well, this one came out in Nov) is Olive Grove Records [FREE SAMPLER] who seem to be going from strength to strength, indeed, their release of Jo Mango’s ‘When We Lived In The Crook of a Tree’ EP and her subsequent performance of it at The Glad Cafe were two highlights of a very good musical year for us at Elba in 2013. In fact, if you’d like to see this sampler in the flesh (sort of), then the Olive Grove roster will be putting on a label showcase at the Oran Mor on January 25th. (Yeah, we know this track is not on the sampler!)

Finally, we couldn’t really leave it without mentioning the ever delightful Asthmatic Kitty seasonal sampler. Just look at the cat gif on the download page! [FREE DOWNLOAD HERE]

The Pale Imitation Festival

If it wasn’t enough that we’d provided you with some decent looking festivals to check out this summer and that we weren’t already creating a list of the best jugglers, statues and street magicians for you to go and hurl coppers at in Edinburgh this August, then we’re completely spoiling you by telling you about The Pale Imitation Festival, also taking place in Edinburgh between the 1st and 31st of August.

Pale_Imitation_Digiflyer

Click above image to enlarge/see more clearly

The phrase ‘stellar line-up’ doesn’t even come close to describing the excellent bit of programming put together by Back Garden Promotions (or Matthew from Song, By Toad, Bart from Eagleowl, Neil from Meursault and Rob St.John). The festival will take place on selected dates throughout the month of August at Henry’s Cellar Bar and all the gigs cost a fiver to get in apart from the Malcolm Middleton, Ian Humberstone and Now Wakes The Sea gig, which is £7. Alternatively, you could just buy a season ticket for £25 and be done with it. I mean, you’ll struggle to find anything better to do in August.

Normally, I’d list a couple of the standouts in the line-up but I’d feel bad, because I’d be omitting so much* so it’s probably best that you get the run down from Song, By Toad who published this handy guide to each artist over on his blog.

Season and individual tickets can be bought over here.

* we totally think you should go and see Jonnie Common, FOUND, Plastic Animals, Deathcats, Siobhan Wilson, Sparrow & The Workshop, RM Hubbert, The Leg, Malcolm Middleton, Now Wakes The Sea, Rob St.John and Eagleowl though…

Concert to Save the Sighthill Stone Circle

5rul

As far as good local causes and good local line up’s go, you’d have to travel far or wait a long time to top next Saturday’s Concert to Save the Sighthill Stone Circle. Featuring a line up including RM Hubbert, Aidan Moffat, Stuart Braithwaite, Eugene Kelly and special guests The Twilight Sad, to name but a few, the gig will take place over two performance rooms at multi-arts venue Platform in Glasgow’s Easterhouse on Saturday 27th July.

The Sighthill stones, built in 1979, were the first astronomically aligned stones in the UK for over 3500 years. They currently sit on a site earmarked for redevelopment and the campaigners are hoping to ‘raise awareness of the circle as an asset for the existing and future community in Sighthill, and to secure its future as an integral part of the proposed regeneration of the area‘.

Tickets for the gig are priced £6 and are available from Mono or Tickets Scotland. A bus will also run, leaving Mono at 4:30pm (Doors 5pm) returning after the last performance around 11pm.

You can sign the petition here and read more about the circle here.

Cairn String Quartet

Cairn pic 1[2]

I’m not all that knowledgeable about classical or orchestral music but I’ve dabbled in some listening and I’ve got composers I like and different musical periods I prefer to others. String music is a particular preference of mine and indeed this crosses over to the the taste in music you’d probably expect from someone writing on this blog. Many people think it’s crazy that Sufjan Stevens’ ‘The BQE’ is one of my favourite pieces of his work.

It is to my liking then, that I hear of the Cairn String Quartet and their take on the popular music of Scotland. Their recent release ‘quartet quickies‘ features tracks from Kid Canaveral, Chvrches and Camera Obscura, however the pick of the bunch is their take on ‘Leslie’ by King Creosote. It’s a nice arrangement which the vocals of Kenny Anderson would fit on top of perfectly.

Tonight (27th June), the Cairn String Quartet take to the King Tuts stage, apparently as the first act of their musical ilk to do so. They will be ‘backed up’ on vocals with various special guests including the aforementioned Kid Canaveral and Fat Goth. I believe there are still a couple of tickets available which are £6.

Also, as part of the Scottish Album of the Year awards, the Cairn String Quartet recorded a version of each of the ten shortlisted musicians songs. You can view Django Django’s, ‘Introduction’ and the eventual SAY Award winner, RM Hubbert’s ‘We Radioed’ below or go and watch all ten over on the SAY Award youtube page.

And the winner is…

Of course, you probably know already but last night, RM Hubbert’s ‘Thirteen Lost and Found’ won this year’s Scottish Album of the Year award. We’re over the moon here at Elba as Hubby is someone we’ve got to know through our long forgotten recorded sessions and also the gigs (what a line up!) at the dearly departed Liquid Ship. There has been much written about how deserving a winner the album was and we can only echo those sentiments but we’d also agree with Hubby that there is so much great music being made in Scotland that many of the shortlisted, and longlisted albums, would be worthy of the crown. Of the final ten, there were several that different parts of us were rooting for, which shows the strength of the entrants.

Indeed, we’re already a touch giddy at the prospect of who might be in with a chance of winning next year’s prize with the first six months of 2013 already stuimulating our listening with offerings from Rick Redbeard, Sparrow and the Workshop, The Pastels, Kid Canaveral, The Pictish Trail and Boards of Canada. Not to mention the six months of the year still remaining. And you never know, RM Hubbert might just be in with a shout next year too…

10 of the best

In keeping with tradition, we might seem a little ‘off the pulse’ here. In fact, that’s maybe a disservice, we were very much ON the pulse of this one, we were just a little tardy putting it in to words.

Of course, I’m sure you’ve all now heard about the ten albums who have been shortlisted for this years’ Scottish Album of the Year Award. I’ll list them below just in case you haven’t seen the list.

The Final 10

Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts In Snow
Django Django – Django Django
Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry
Karine Polwart – Traces
Lau – Race The Loser
Meursault – Something For The Weakened
Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
RM Hubbert – Thirteen Lost & Found
Stanley Odd – Reject
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know (Public Vote Winner)

There was also the small matter of the art commission prize which is one of the elements of the award that I have always quite liked. A lot of discussion in the aftermath of the announcement of the final ten has centered around the album as an artform, and the artwork commission feeds nicely into this sense of what an album and a body of music is. This year the commission was shared by Emma Reid and Gregor Henderson who have been tasked with creating artwork for each of the shortlisted artists. You can view all 8 of the finalists work in the CCA’s Intermedia Gallery until the 22nd of June. Gregor’s submission can be seen below…

Gregor-Morrison-Untitled-carved-found-wooden-door
Picture taken from sayaward.com
 

This year marks the second year that the awards have run and it very much feels like this year has been a year of education, with the organisers keen to share the different ideas people have about what makes an album. Indeed, there have been some fascinating pieces written over on the SAY Award website on this very topic.

I often find that music splits opinion like no other subject. We all know exactly what we like and there is so much of it out there to choose from, we can’t possibly like everything. We have all turned up our noses at someones musical taste at some point in our life and whilst there’s probably a lot of music we don’t think is very good, I personally couldn’t say with much certainty, hand on heart, that another person’s opinion of a piece of music was rubbish. Maybe I’m being too nice? I often regard music as rubbish to friends. I’m the master of the loud sigh, my eyebrows are often raised in mocking judgement, but again, it’s in the direction of people I know. If someone likes something that I don’t, then fair do’s, they are unlikely to look back with sentiment on a Jesus Jones record like I might, just as I’m unlikely to see the appeal in a teenage attachment to Placebo. They were rubbish though? Right?

The point I am making, in a roundabout fashion, is that there are 10 albums on the above shortlist and they have divided opinion. Everyone always thinks there’s something better that could be on ‘the list’, but the emphasis this year seems to be on the album as an artform, and if anyone can truly tell me that they know of one perfect body of work that wouldn’t divide opinion, then you’re a better man than I. That’s why I think the above list is great. I know I don’t have the perfect taste in music so it’s a good sign that there are albums in the 10 that I completely adore, as well as ones that I can see the merits in (yes, I’m sitting on the fence), yet I know aren’t for me. These 10 artist have done fantastically well in getting to this stage, indeed as have the other ten that made the longlist, and I couldn’t possibly begrudge any of them success, should their name be read out as the winner on June 20th. Y’know, if RM Hubbert, Meursault, Human Don’t Be Angry or Django Django were to win, it wouldn’t be too bad, eh? It would keep certainly keep this camper happy.

The winners of the SAY Award will be announced on June 20th at the Barrowlands in Glasgow

Scottish Album of the Year 2013 – Longlist Announced

SAYaward

About a year ago we reported on the announcement of a new award for Scottish music, The Scottish Album of the Year, or the SAY Award as it went on to be better known. We even did a nifty wee mixtape with some of our favourites from the previous year along with a few other noteworthy tracks, one of which, being that we bear an uncanny resemblance to Nostradamus, is on an album announced in this year’s longlist. The beautiful ‘Gus Am Bris An Latha’ features on RM Hubbert’s sophomore album ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ and it appears in this year’s longlist alongside 19 other Scottish albums from 2012.

The thing that I personally liked about last year’s awards

were that there was such diversity in the longlist that I ended up hearing albums that I probably never would have given a listen to. I’m glad to see the diversity is still there alongside some of my personal favourites from last year. The aforementioned ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ by RM Hubbert, Meursault’s ‘Something for the Weakened’ and Django Django’s eponymous debut.

The full list…

Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts In Snow
Auntie Flo – Future Rhythm Machine
Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Dam Mantle – Brothers Fowl
Django Django – Django Django
Duncan Chisholm – Affric
Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events
Errors – Have Some Faith In Magic
Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry
Karine Polwart – Traces
Konrad Wiszniewski & Euan Stevenson – New Focus
Lau – Race The Loser
Meursault – Something For The Weakened
Miaoux Miaoux – Light of the North
Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
PAWS – Cokefloat!
RM Hubbert – Thirteen Lost & Found
Stanley Odd – Reject
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
The Unwinding Hours – Afterlives

All 20 albums will be available to stream at some point over the next month before a 24 hour public vote to determine the shortlist on May 27th. The shortlisted ten will then be announced on May the 30th before the winner is announced at a ceremony in Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom.

Hopefully, if they have the capability this year, we’ll have the sidebar widget on the Elba site again, where you’ll be able to stream the album of the day. So, go forth, study up on the longlist and don’t forget to make your vote count on May 27th!