‘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]
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.
It is the season for dipping your toe into some new music. Summer samplers seem to be popping up everywhere. One that covers almost all bases and never falters on quality is the Asthmatic Kitty Digital Summer Sampler.
Asthmatic Kitty is the home of Sufjan Stevens and My Brightest Diamond. If you are not familiar with their wider catalogue then this is the perfect opportunity to remedy that by immersing yourself in this collection of artists. The beauty of this sampler is that it really does feel like a mix tape; like someone’s summer playlist rather than a clunky collection of new music. The contributions are not artists with approaching releases alone. Instead there are musicians whose last release may have been in the fall of 2012 but that sit beautifully within the mix.
Heraldo Negro’s jarring synth sashay Dance Ghost is a fitting opening. The South Florida resident of Ecuadorian descent has recorded sunshine on this track. If this is warming then Lily & Madeline’s Back to the River, from their debut EP The Weight of the World, will cool you back down again. The purest of vocals are backed by the simple yet rich tones of their alt folk arrangement of this hymnal. Other notable appearances include Fol Chen with tracks 200 Words and I.O.U. shining out. I defer to their bio to summarise: they ‘created their sound from field recordings and an electronic junk drawer, splicing compound beats and sending warped vocal transmissions.’ My kind of folk. Raymond Byron’s Death Shaker is built on the foundations of some very addictive bass notes that scrape as close to the ground as your can go. On top of all of this Asthmatic Kitty have thrown in a couple of Shannon Stephens tracks too. In her hands songwriting is at its most beautiful. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy agrees; a cover by him having led to some collaboration between the two.
The label’s uncompromising taste has given the gift of a summer soundtrack and it’s free! Warning: you will find yourself buying a stack of records after you play this collection.