Elba have been quiet as the proverbial mouse this year but we’ve been making plenty of noise elsewhere. Travelling to all corners of this wonderful country we call home having been invited on a musical journey as well as going coast to coast on the other side of the Atlantic, we’ve pretty much exhausted ourselves to the point of when we did actually have a minute to ourselves, we had no energy to share our thoughts. Gladly though, 2014 has again been an excellent year for music, both locally and within our wider universe.
As well as a raft of albums that we’ll hold dear to our heart for many a year to come, we’ve experienced some gigs and musical moments which will live long in the memory. Too many to mention all of, and some maybe a bit too personal to share.
We started the year off in wonder at Mogwai’s ‘Rave Tapes’ album and were lucky enough to squeeze into the CCA for an intimate performance by the band, that was broadcast live for Vic Galloway’s Celtic Connections special. We ended the year in equally mindblowing style listening again and again to the ‘tour de force’ which is The Twilight Sad’s ‘Nobody Wants To Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave’ which was followed up by a breathtaking and emotional show at the ABC.
Along the way, we had a ball at some of Glasgow’s best ‘day-fests’. Stag & Dagger saw great performances by Honeyblood, Courtney Barnett, Jungle and Los Campesinos!, whilst in the fading summer there was nowhere we’d have rather been than at the East End Social’s Last Big Weekend. Mogwai (again), Honeyblood (again), The Wedding Present, Swervedriver and The Twilight Sad (again) closing out an excellent programme of events.
Some of our favourite local labels once again released a catalogue of gems. In the East, Song, By Toad released great albums by Bastard Mountain and Jonnie Common, whilst in the West, albums by Dan Lyth, Chris Devotion & The Expectations and The Hazey Janes made it another top quality year in the Armellodie stable.
2014 started with lots of ambition and positivity and whilst it ended in near burn-out, we had a great rollercoaster ride in between with things that we wont forget.
2015 is just around the corner and once again we have plans, we want to shout a little bit more about music, so how about we talk a little bit more next year?
Elba’s Albums of 2014
10. Sound of Yell – Brocken Spectre
9. Bastard Mountain – Farewell, Bastard Mountain
8. Remember Remember – Forgetting the Present
7. Withered Hand – New Gods
6. Dan Lyth & The Euphrates – Benthic Lines
5. The Phantom Band – Strange Friend
4. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
3. Mogwai – Rave Tapes
2. Honeyblood – Honeyblood
1. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave
Invigorated after the new year? Nope, us either. To do lists are growing by the second and whilst good times are afoot there’s also a bit of trepidation around here about just where we’ll start? Thankfully, music seems to bring us a bit of respite so we’ve chucked together a menagerie of tunes that are helping us get into gear for 2014.
Malcolm Middleton – Red Travellin’ Socks 
Kim: If there were ever a song to make me light of step, it’s Red Travellin’ Socks. Amidst a haze of trekking around Scotland to work on far too many gigs over a short space of time, I have a very vivid memory of watching Malky and band play this live. Some uptempo honesty regarding the tidal push and pull of life on the road was elevated with added violin at the time. As noted above, we’re needing a bit of momentum right now and this is the perfect instigator. Malcolm will be bringing his mostly melancholy sound to Celtic Connections, playing Platform on 25th of January.
The New Medicants – This Time
Phil: As we alluded to on Monday’s post, The New Mendicants hit Glasgow next weekend as part of Celtic Connections, this track is taken from their Australia EP out last year. Their new album is released on January 27th, two days after they play the aforementioned gig at The Arches.
FOUND – Mullokian (Toad Session)
Kim: Song By Toad Records are celebrating five years of releases with a very special . Amongst the mass of material contained on the five 12″ albums is a Toad Session recording of FOUND’s debut single Mullokian. It’s a soothing rendition with beautiful rippling guitar; stripped back for the tech tinkers. This was the song that began my love for FOUND. This love can be traced all the way back to 2006 when I was, in my ever delicate manner, shoving the song in the face of Mr Elba (Author’s note: Phil, this is your name now so please expect to be addressed thusly forevermore). Such Elba history makes for a more than solid reason for inclusion on our current mixtape.
RM Hubbert – Bolt
Phil: A favourite track from 2013, ‘Bolt’ was taken from RM Hubbert’s third album, Breaks and Bone. It’s a reply to a Nicola Roberts song don’t you know which incidentally Hubbert will advise that everyone should own, along with any Minutemen album. RM Hubbert plays the Mitchell Library next Tuesday as part of Celtic Connections
Phil: Armellodie Records’ latest signing Appletop, are French. They also seem to like Pavement and Teenage Fanclub. You should probably know this pleases me greatly. With a hummable chorus, this song hasn’t left my head so far this year. I’m really looking forward to their album which is due out in spring.
Tideland – Dinosaur
Phil: There’s not too much that I know about Tideland, but I’ve been really enjoying their punky slacker rock sounds over the last few weeks. Hailing from Sterling, Virginia, Tideland released their album, ‘Lull’, on Russian Winter Records last year. Dinosaur is one of several tracks I could have put on the mixtape but being that my compadre, Kim, has a bit of a thing for dinosaurs, this was the obvious choice.
Janelle Monáe (feat. Prince) – Give Em What They Love
Kim: I am intensely drawn to Janelle Monáe’s artistry. There is an almost extinct ambiguity in contemporary music between performing persona and personal life. Where there have been pushes and prods by the media to pinpoint if any of her lyricism is reflective of her character, Monáe has managed to retain a great amount of mystery. Gender and sexuality load what she creates, more so here than on most other tracks. Just as Eryka Badu brought such energy to Q.U.E.E.N., Prince helps to layer on the filth in Give Em What They Love. The bass and melodic synch are core in the first half of this song before it breaks and you can happily lose your shit over the joy of brass, organ, solo guitar and some controlled yells and rasps from The Electric Lady herself. The track flutters out on an orchestral coda, the suite nature of Monáe’s debut returning once again on the 2013 sophomore album.
Winter is here, we’re thinking A LOT about our forthcoming gig calendar over the next few weeks, and our heads have been somewhat turned by the fact that it’s the season to be ok with listening to Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas output. As with tradition in this festive period, we’ve indulged…
The Twilight Sad – Cold Days From The Birdhouse 
Kim: As your mixtape makers will be attending The Twilight Sad’s first of two sold out shows playing debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters in King Tut’s, it feels important to honour this song. Yet, as I write this I can’t help but feel my attachment to Cold Days From The Birdhouse is a very personal one. I would prefer to not contextualise what the textures and lyrics of this song might have invoked in me back in 2007 but without doing so it’s difficult to express the song’s impact. So, I have aimed to identify some of the constructs that brought about my affinity to to Fourteen’s first track. The gentle and raw opening combines soft tones with an unrelenting note being bashed out on the piano. This serves as the perfect example of the juxtaposition present in near every facet of this song. That gentle opening changes to a deafening bulk. Lyrically almost every sentiment is met with hurt. I feel I can empirically and impersonally impart that James Graham has such great power in his voice that a vague lyric can sting as much as one of confession. We may be sobbing into our pints near the sound desk that Friday night.
Super Adventure Club – Fuck the Pop 
Phil: This track is Super Adventure Club all over. If you were lucky enough to witness a live show in their sadly shortened tenure, you will be familiar. Technically, outrageously awesome. I rarely attended a SAC show where I wasn’t in awe of how disgustingly proficient they were on their weapon of choice. They released their posthumous album this week on Armellodie. It’s bloody good. I hope we hear more, sometime in the future (despite posthum-ity). Just imagine a horse in a lab coat dancing, turn the volume up to 11 and this is Super Adventure Club at their best.
Kim: Every so often a little treat appears online. Bands are getting good at disseminating early versions of tracks, live material and album overflow. Sparrow & The Workshop made their track One Brush free to download last week, stating that they didn’t have room for it on this year’s Murderopolis. This song is all drums, distorted guitar and Jill O’Sullivan’s chant. It’s a piercing vocal. At just over two minutes it’s a brief, visceral listen that ends very abruptly. Cracking.
Neko Case – Man
Kim: Neko Case’s most recent album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, managed to overwhelm me this year despite my ridiculous levels of expectation. I’ve picked Man for this mixtape in which Neko explores her masculine side. After the show this weekend we hope to befriend Neko, whereupon she will invite us to live on her farm. There we will spend our days playing ditties on the piano in her kitchen, brushing Norman her horse, eating cereal and watching Adventure Time. It’s going to be swell.
Withered Hand – Black Tambourine 
Phil: A very late contender to song of the year. If you know me, and my fascination with all things Teenage Fanclub, you can probably see why I was so smitten here. It passed the pre-bath dance test with my 2 year old and Withered Hand is in my 6 year old nephew’ top 3 musicians (Euros and Pictish Trail are the other two, if you’re interested. Dude.) so there’s some other reasons why I’m drawn. He’s got a new album out next year and this little ray of sunshine is the ideal appetiser. Can’t wait!
Randolph’s Leap – One More Sleep ’til Christmas
Phil: Is there a more adorable band around here than Randolph’s Leap? No, probably not. They continue to display just what a solid band they are every year with release after release. This year they released an EP on Olive Grove Records, next year an album on Lost Map beckons. If you go to gigs regularly in Glasgow then you’ll have struggled to miss them, prolific is the best word. If you have missed them, then head along to George Square in Glasgow this Monday evening , hopefully they’ll play this little ditty. We’ll be standing with a mulled wine having a smile.
Freelance Whales – Winter Seeds
Phil: I feel a bit hypocritical here, but whilst we’re canvassing opinions on favourite albums and songs for our Elba Annual, I’m not sure you can actually have one truly favourite song, above all else. I’m more of the opinion that certain songs or albums fit an occasion, time or in this case, a season. Some songs evoke feelings and this, Winter Seeds by Queens’ Freelance Whales is cold weather music all over. Still, it makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.
Sufjan Stevens – Do You Hear What I Hear?
Kim: I’ve done it. I’ve gone too far. I’ve gone as indulgent as I can go this month. I knew that there was a chance that we might feature some festive music and I had nine minutes and fourteen seconds of trippy electronic Sufjan goodness in mind for the occasion. I was considering how to broach it’s inclusion just as Asthmatic Kitty’s Winter Sampler appeared. Whilst this track does not appear, Christmas Woman off of Silver and Gold does and it is just one of many excellent tracks from the AK roster available for free download. Chris Schlarb, Lily & Madeline, Fol Chen and Helado Negro all feature.
It’s been a busy old week for us. A couple of gigs, a couple of good new releases and quite a few drinks mixed in. As I write this, I feel that I’m treading a fine line between acceptable writing and potentially pissing off Sufjan (and he’s the last guy we want to upset), with our poor use of multiple tenses.
You see, I’ve already referred to Elba Sessions as we and also written I, so is this a one man blog masquerading as a we? No. There are three of us, and we contribute with varied regularity, so we feel okay about the use of we, I, us, them etc… We are often one, regularly two, but vary rarely three, however, over the past week we all managed to get in the same room together, and on that morning commute the day after, we remembered one of the reasons this happens with decreasing regularity! And the reason I bring all this up, is because this is a mixtape, a personal thing, made by one to give to another and the joy of us being a collective and also one being, is that we’ve made you a mixtape but you get the eclecticism of our musical tastes, which like a good venn diagram, overlaps.
And for the record this mixtape that I write of is put together by two, and we hope you love it…
Kim: When Honeyblood were snapped up by Fat Cat records, the song that enamoured us with them so, ‘Super Rat’, was swiftly taken down from their Soundcloud. However, we have been gifted with a beautiful little 7″ single that has lessened this blow almost entirely. Bittersweet ‘Bud’ was released this week and comes on a fitting pink vinyl. This song would be breaking my heart if I weren’t so fascinated with how Stina pronounces bud. Booooouuuud. Honeyblood play Broadcast on the 29th October.
Veronica Falls – My Heart Beats
Kim: Last Sunday ‘The Elba We’ found ourselves stood atop the benches in the basement furnace of Broadcast, swaying to Veronica Falls. This was definitely a different vibe to our last encounter with the band in the CCA. That was a decidedly rapt crowd; still and silent for the show. My pick of audience members this time around was the fellow giving the thumbs up to the bassist for the full show and yelling, thankfully between songs, “enjoy yourself!”
‘My Heart Beats’ from second album Waiting For Something To Happen brought a lot of energy and felt fitting for this mixtape. Single ‘Broken Toy’ was released on Monday and a limited edition 7″ of new song ‘Nobody There’ is down to the last copies. So, buy now or never.
Saint Max & The Fanatics – Conduit
Phil: I must admit, I’ve been excited about this album for quite sometime now. I’m guessing it’s about a year and a half since I first set ears on Max and I was hooked nearly straight away. I find quite often when picking an album track that I end up describing it as ‘the stand out track’, but not here. No, this album is packed full of absolute gems, every one an aural treat. There are horns, there are choppy guitars, there are clever lyrics, the arrangements are great and most of all, it was definitely worth the wait.
Los Campesinos! – What Death Leaves Behind
Phil: There is sometimes a bit of trepidation, I think, when a band releases a couple of albums, each one following a similar formula. You begin to worry a bit. I mean, when is that reggae phase going to kick in? You’ve enjoyed the first three albums because they were what first attracted you to the band, they retained familiarity, but with the news that a new album is due to be released, the fear sets in, surely this is when they decide they need to diversify to develop as a band? I’m thankful that with the new Los Campesinos! album, released next week, that there are no such worries. It’s an album that you feel comfortable with, it sounds exactly like a new LC! album should and long may they keep releasing them. They are an utter joy to listen to.
What Death Leaves Behind comes from the new album, No Blues, out next week
Naked – Lie Follows Lie
Phil: For the past couple of weeks The Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh has been staging ‘The Pleasance Sessions’, a collection of gigs curated by labels, promoters and other such organisations. This Saturday sees Edinburgh label Song, By Toad stage a label showcase with, well, quite a large amount of their roster playing, including this band, Naked. A three-piece, their music is eerie, hypnotic and totally uplifting. Naked are a bit different to what the label had been releasing so when ‘Lie Follows Lie was released, it somewhat grabbed my attention.
Lily & Madeline – In The Middle
Phil: Female vocalists eh? We seem drawn to them here at Elba. Case, Rose, Marshall, Marling. The list could, quite literally, go on. Lily & Madeline are signed to the continually superb Asthmatic Kitty Records and this track is from The Weight Of The Globe EP released earlier this year. The great news is that a long player comes out later this month. This is dreamy, shimmering and completely gorgeous.
Juana Molina – Sin Guia, No
Kim: This cyclical and hypnotic number from Juana Molina is taken from her sixth studio album Wed 21; due for release on the other side of this weekend. NPR have the album available to stream in advance right now and I highly recommend a listen. I find the distance of not knowing the lyrical content quite liberating, leaving me to enjoy the texture of sounds that she builds. This is all Juana. Voice, words, playing and production. If you like this, wait until you hear Eras!
Roman Nose – Bra-In-I-Ak
Kim: Let me set the scene: On a rainy Glasgow evening, Elba came together in a pungent dungeon, masked, high on the newly printed fabric over our faces and syrupy cider settling in our bellies. Roman Nose, appearing as part of the List Live series, were the pied pipers with their mass of serial dancers. The anonymity of the masked crowd (the cloth being bestowed on entrance) would be quite terrifying to an outsider but once you were one of them, all there was to do was bounce around to the hyper noise of the act. This track, taken from new EP Long Live the Revolver! is a wondrous piece of Space-Pop that shows the range of the noise bearers.
Factory Floor – Real Love (Optimo Remix)
Kim: In 2011 Factory Floor released a relentless synth and noise disco track called Real Love. It is something. Then Optimo took the song, slowed it down and started adding sounds that seem to pay respect to the literal name of the owners. It’s all pneumatic sounds, buzzing, sawing and thwacks. I picked up this 12″ at the Indie Label Market on its stop in the Barras Art & Design Centre, which was full of friendly faces and cake(!). I then played this mix innumerable times until 7am the following morning. That day spiralled somewhat out of control for me. I blame the excitement of cake, beer and records.
Where we pick one or maybe several things to check out in Edinburgh during the month of August [disclaimer: in the event of tardiness or over-eagerness, don’t be fooled by the headline, it’s today cos we’re picking it today, rather than you should go today, but maybe you should go today…]
What else could possibly be our pick today? Yep, our bff’s 4eva at Armellodie Records begin their annual label jaunt with a show at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh tonight, before pulling into Glasgow and Dundee for more shows later in the week, before returning to Edinburgh and Glasgow again in the coming weeks with a different line-up. Phew.
Tonight’s line up is eclectic yet as perfectly matched as the label itself with sets from Cuddly Shark, Galoshins, Super Adventure Club and Thirty Pounds of Bone, who will be backed by a band, of sorts. Tickets are £5 on the door and the entertainment starts sometime after 7:30pm.
Not bad poster eh? And the line-up isn’t too shabby either. Our chums at Armellodie hit the road in a couple of days with eight bands from their roster, seeing the sights of Bonnie Scotland. The tour kicks off this Thursday in Edinburgh’s Wee Red Bar with sets from newest signings Trapped Mice, The Douglas Firs and Super Adventure Club. 6 more dates over the next nine days take in Dundee, Glasgow twice, Aberdeen, Lossiemouth and Elgin featuring label mates Cuddly Shark, Le Reno Amps, The Scottish Enlightenment, The Hazey Janes and Chris Devotion & The Expectations. The full details are at the end of this post.
If that news wasn’t enough to to make you get yourself out to see some live music, maybe this excellent EP from Kowalskiy featuring all 8 bands, might convince you.
I’m going to three of the gigs so I might just see you there.
SupervAdventure Club + The Douglas Firs + Trapped Mice
Wee Red Bar, College of Art, Edinburgh
Thursday 2nd August 2012
The Hazey Janes + Le Reno Amps + Cuddly Shark
Duke’s Corner, Dundee
Friday 3rd August 2012
Le Reno Amps + Cuddly Shark + The Scottish Enlightenment + Trapped Mice
Nice n Sleazys, Glasgow
Saturday 4th August 2012
Super Adventure Club + The Hazey
Janes + Chris Devotion & The Expectations
Art School, Glasgow
Wednesday 8th August 2012
Le Reno Amps + The Hazey Janes + Chris Devotion & The Expectations + Cuddly Shark
Thursday 9th August 2012
Chris Devotion & The Expectations + Cuddly Shark + Le Reno Amps
The Steamboat, Lossiemouth
Friday 10th August 2012
Cuddly Shark + Le Reno Amps + Chris Devotion & The Expectations
The Thunderton, Elgin
Saturday 11th August 2012
I mentioned earlier this week that we would be sharing some details of a gig we were helping to put on, so here it is!
We’re donning our Armellodie tin hats for this one, and doing our best not to get in the way, to help launch the new album from The Hazey Janes. The Dundee band are about to launch their new album and when Armellodie came a calling (whilst General Al is fighting the good fight in China), looking for an extra pair of hands to help out with the Glasgow leg of the album launch there was no way we’d refuse and what better way than to celebrate than have a wee party at the Captain’s Rest.
If a bit of ‘beefed up’ sunny power pop sounds like your bag, then this gig is more than up your street, and being that it’ll be mid-October, who wouldn’t want a bit of sunshine in the evening? As the label say ‘they’re like Big Star on steroids’. Nuff said…
The Hazey Janes will be joined on the night by local band The Brazen Cars and Loudon, who we featured at Elba Sessions Presents…probably around a year ago now.
The gig, as you’ll see from the lovely poster above, takes place on October 18th at the Captains Rest which precedes the release of the ‘The Winter That Was’ on October 24th.
You can download the lead single ‘Carmelite’ from The Winter That Was below.
It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to a track on my ipod then gone back and re-played it 4 or 5 times in a row. It’s not for lack of good music either, the recent Turntable Kitchen playlist has been on repeat for the last few weeks but there’s 20 tracks there, so you’re getting a bit of variance.
However, this morning, the only thing that stopped me playing the latest Hazey Janes track ‘Carmelite’ was that I arrived in the office.
I was maybe overly-excited when Al from Armellodie told me that The Hazey Janes were going to be next band to release a record on the label. They’re one my favourite Scottish bands and
nobody does sunny indie pop songs better. My only issue is that their two and half minute songs are so good that I’m left disappointed that they only last for two and a half minutes. A minor gripe I assure you.
You can download the new single ‘Carmelite’ for free below from the Armellodie soundcloud player.
The Hazey Janes will release the album on October 24th. Can’t wait to hear it!
This Friday sees the penultimate Barmellodie night in it’s current run at Bloc.
The line up includes Kill The Captains from Sheffield, a pretty formidable act live, expect plenty noise and energy. We caught up with them about a year ago when they released their album and it’s good to
see them heading back to Glasgow.
Joining KTC on the bill are Popcorn Fiend, fresh from their EP launch at the Captains Rest last month. They’ve got a song called ‘A Fucking Epiphany’, which is good enough for me!
Also playing on the night are Pensioner, Vendor Defender were due to play but have now decided to call it a day so excuse them from the attached poster. If that wasn’t enough, Jim from Aye Tunes will be spinning Skee Lo on the decks after the bands, it’s free before 11pm and only £2 thereafter which you really can’t argue with!!
11pm Popcorn Fiend
11.45pm Kill The Captains
1:15 til close Dancing/Fighting/Jim Ayetunes and ArmelloDJ’s.
It’s that time of the month again where we give a wee nod to our buddies over at Armellodie and mention this months Barmellodie residency at Bloc in Glasgow.
This months musical shenanigans come in the shape of jazz/rock/pop adventurers ‘Super Adventure Club’. If you haven’t seen SAC play, prepare to be dazzled and wonder just how the three of them could actually be that darn good! They are going to be playing their debut
album ‘Chalk Horror!’ in it’s entirety.
Musical interludes on the evening will also come in the shape of The Brazen Cars, Hagana and From Paris to Prison.
Also, there’s usually a guest DJ but it seems the guys at Armellodie were either a bit worried about Aye Tunes playing Skee Lo or they knew that nothing was going to better our effort from January along with the choices of Crash Test Dummies and Dire Straits from last months post-gig resident.
Barmellodie takes over Bar Bloc this Friday (18th March). It’s Free until 11pm and then £2 thereafter.