Tagged: Karine Polwart

Field Music (the venue, not the band)

Please note that I love Field Music (the band) but today I choose to talk about the sport of enjoying music out on a vast grassy space. Here there would be a lovely photo of some grass but apparently uploading images is threatening to overheat my crank-powered macbook. Hi ho.

The summer months prompt sensory nostalgia for me. There is a late evening sun, which at the right point has a glow that will ever remind me of a day running about amidst a war with water. I was quite the trooper at seven years of age. Armed with my fifty pence squirt gun, I took out an array of enemies from Aunt, to Nana, to Sister in the rose-edged quadrangle of battlefield to be conquered. Alas, my hopes plunged from vast heights that day, like the full pot of cold water that my cousin dunked over my head with her foot of advantage. I felt such a sun-induced headiness of heroism, which was quickly replaced with the sobering chill of being soaked to the bone; a fitting parallel to the fading haze of a cooling summer night.

Over the last week the temperature has fluctuated and the threatening clouds linger to punctuate the ‘Scottish summer’ . This transports me elsewhere, into not a single memory but an amassed and inseparable collection of experience. There is a smell from drying disturbed grass that appears in, yet feels so displaced within, the city. It is that of fresh and still air that I associate with the first draw of breath in the waking hours of a festival. That cleansing inhalation provides resuscitation after the Antipodean experience of an overheated or frozen night in a tent (there is rarely ground between these opposing extremes), whilst your body retaliates against your mild poisoning of it with copious amounts of… whatever. This is the scent and taste of being ready to start anew.

Scotland’s festivals are providing grounds that could be the potential for either of the above summers. If, like the man at the helm of Elba, you have a child or, like myself, you are still mentally a child there are festivals such as The Kelburn Garden Party that promise fine music, food, drink and adventures that cater to a generous age range. Their musical agenda is to the left but they have opted for fun and friendly. The line up shouts summer party – you know that back garden barbecue kind – with Mr Scruff and Trojan Soundsystem headlining their Viewpoint stage. They have a roster of funk, reggae, electro and plonky guitars that would have me basking delightfully with a craft ale of local origin in hand. As for the family friendly element, Kelburn boasts adventure assault courses, a falconry and secret woodland trails. The premiering event is set within the reachable location of Kelburn Castle, near Largs on the 6th and 7th of July.

The Insider returns to Inshriach House in Aviemore this weekend, kicking off on the 21st of June with a line up that I want to cuddle. I do. I just want to grab ahold of it and snuggle right in. Excuse the list-mania that’s about to follow but it’s the most simple way to announce my joy and not spend hours proclaiming the talent and value of the artists involved. With a deep breath and great honour, I would like to rattle off the following: Washington Irving, Sparrow and the Workshop, Matthew Herbert, Miaoux Miaoux, Randolph’s Leap, Karine Polwart, Paws, Super Adventure Club, Stealing Sheep, Blood Relatives. That’s barely the bulk! It’s a line up that is evocative of an alternative and folk craft and will call to a sub-sect of listener. There’s a good balance of softness and punch across the weekend. Then there’s the food. Oh, the food. More listing(!): The Painting School, Harajuku Kitchen, Wild Rover Food, Artisan Roast, SMOAK, Woodburns Pizza, Inshriach Cake Shop and The Travelling Tearoom. Go and peruse the site for more details on the artists and food and no doubt you’ll be booking a last minute ticket.

Doune The Rabbit Hole has absolutely no filler. In my eyes, it is the leanest festival there is. It is the Venison of festivals. Clinic and The Pastels, whose new album Slow Summits is tickling the inner ears of we at Elba, sell this weekend at Cardross Estate alone. With a billing that boasts, for instance, Alasdair Roberts, Meursault and Rozi Plain on top of this, I find myself willing to follow any rabbit ‘Doune’ any hole for such listening privilege providing its timekeeping is adequate. If you can’t make it along to that on the 22nd to 25th August there is a nifty little tour a(rabbits)foot. Doune presents The Music Tapes featuring Julian Koster of Neutral Milk Hotel on four stops with some varied support slots. It commences on the 22nd at Nice ‘N’ Sleazy with Eagleowl’s lo-fi providing warm up.

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We are spoiled in Scotland. The above, I would hope, will go some ways to helping you to remember that we are surrounded by nature, by our preserved historical grounds, by our ceaseless and unrelenting talent and by excellent product that is all within arm’s reach. I find myself reflecting on it every time it stops raining.

 

*In your face laptop: I can still link to photos!

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!