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
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.
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.
Our final annual comes from Elba Sessions’ constant and reasoned voice; Phil. You will be well acquainted with him by now I’m sure. For those of you who are not: he is a man of great taste, intelligence, wit and charm. As a great driving force behind everything Elba I’ve found him to be exceptionally motivated and particularly good at knowing what buttons to push to get the most out of everyone he works with. It is holding all these elements together and only ever snapping when things have reached well passed boiling point which leads us to his alter ego. With a quiet and calm demeanor, a patience like no other, an ability to maintain organization even whilst working under potentially incendiary conditions and the occasional (and very understandable) melt down, who else could we select?
All that sucking up needed balancing out with something ridiculous. Ironically he will, of course, love this comparison. Here is Phil’s account of 2010:
Album of The Year – This is a tough one. There have been quite a lot of albums I’ve really liked over the course of the year and the title of ‘favourite’ constantly seems to change. I think ‘Method’ by Thirty Pounds of Bone gets the win though. It is an honest album and really nicely put together and produced. For the first couple of months, Los Campesinos! and Field Music would also be in with a shout as well as notable mentions for Chris T-T, Meursault, Super Adventure Club and The National.
Best Gig –There have been several people I have really enjoyed seeing this year, RM Hubbert, King James, Super Adventure Club (possibly the most fun that can be had watching a band, as well as the most jealous at how ridiculously good individually they are). Best gigs are usually defined for me by notable things or songs that were played. In that sense, there have been two or three great gigs for me in 2010. The National, which seems to be on everyone’s lips really stands out just for the whole occasion. Mr November, including a tour of the crowd by singer Matt Berninger, was a biiig standout as well as the completely unplugged sing-along to Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.
Also, on two occasions I’ve seen a band play a song this year that has just made the hairs on my neck stand up. When The Scottish Enlightenment bellowed into Little Sleep at the end of the set at their album launch in the 13th Note and when they played it at The Liquid Ship on one of our Elba gigs, i knew that there was something pretty special happening.
Favourite New Band(s) –Probably could make a lengthy list here but I’ll try to keep it short. Bella Ruse play the kind of sweet indie folk pop that I’m just a sucker for. I’ve also been digging Caitlin Rose, The Mariner’s Children and more locally Johnny Reb, She’s Hit, Yusuf Azak and The Douglas Firs.
Musical Memories of 2010 –Putting on some great bands at The Liquid Ship as part of our Elba Sessions gigs…Chris’ boundless enthusiasm for Springsteen…Kim’s boundless enthusiasm for music and her awesome writing…Kim and Chris’ support and patience when I get ‘the rage’… The National at the Academy…Willy Vlautin at the Captains Rest (if indeed that was this year)…The return of Le Reno Amps…Making some new musical acquaintances…oh, and being thanked in the sleeve notes for the Thirty Pounds of Bone album was pretty sweet.
Hopes/Plans (music) for 2011 –To kick on with Elba a lot more. I really want to get a good focus going on the blog, going for a bit of a wider viewpoint on the music we all love here at Elba rather than the same old. We’ll also get the Elba Sessions gigs going again in a few months, peepers on the lookout for bands to play already. I’m also looking forward to Dj’ing at the first BARmellodie night at Bloc on January 21st. Also, I want to start getting along to a lot more gigs and seeing some bands to get excited over.
So that’s us for 2010. Have a grand old time this evening! We wish you a bonne année and we will return before you have fully recovered fully from the celebrations.
This post is brought to you by some sticky, doughnut icing covered, fingers. Yum.
Optimo e-closio Kim: Sad sad sad sad news. I feel a lot like my Glasgow music institutions have been closing around me for a couple of years now. This one just seems too sad though. Where the heck is everyone gonna go on a Sunday night now? I just remember turning of age in the drinking manner of the word and my best friend and I having starry eyes when it came to Optimo.
Phil: I feel too old to comment. I mean going out on a Sunday night! Jeeeez! Seriously though, it seems like everything is shutting down to be replaced with things which are less good. Optimo is one of those institutions though, but I can’t help but wondering whether it became too big a thing? It seemed to start being populated by people who just thought that was the trendy place to go and they weren’t going for the music. That said it had a really large band of regular followers. It is sad though, the optimo dj’s spun some cracking tunes in their day.
K: Oh dear, I clearly have yet to learn that I’m too old to go out on a Sunday night. I just loved the astoundingly good tastes of Twitch and Wilkes. From bringing great acts to play the Subby to finding and/or reviving some astounding music, they were a class of their own. A real treasure. It’s true that all things must end and there is an air of inevitability about this news. I mostly worry about what we have to replace these guys right now. Someone put Dolby Anol on as residents somewhere. Keep me happy. It appears from the Optimo announcement that they are going to be doing occasional spots and help out with programming of events here and there, which is definitely good news.
Filmstars in music K: Well, I’ll try to not talk about the obvious just yet. Though I feel it might be necessary by the time we’re spoken of the truly terrible Marion Cottilard and Franz Ferdinand collab. What exactly is this? It’s something to do with Dior, yes? I’m sure I read that? Stereogum have the vid up just now. If you last the whole duration of the song I think you should get a prize.
P: Yuck. I had to turn off about 1 min 30, when it looked like the Robert Palmer ‘Addicted to Love’ video. I can’t make up my mind whether Franz and Marion Cottiard make a good match, instinct says yes, listening to this, it’s a no. It is interesting though how Hollywood stars are now becoming a lot more involved in music. Over the last couple of years there’s been Juliette Lewis, Minnie Driver, Scarlett Johannson and of course Elba fave Zooey Deschanel. Hmmm, all seems to be females, did Keanu’s Dogstar put all male filmstars off music?
K: Perhaps female actresses just get more attention in their musical pursuits? Jared Leto still has his band if that balances things out… not the best example I feel. Russel Crowe? Even worse. Joaquin Pheonix: rapper? Lets not go there. Juliette Lewis seems a lot more involved with The Licks than I’d believe any of the others to be (other than the lovely Zooey). Though, I am completely addicted to the Pete Yorn/Scarlett single Relator.
What we’re listening to so far this year K: I love Field Music. It had turned out to be my album I turn to when I’m not sure what sort of mood I’m in. They remind me a little of Of Montreal. Otherwise, I finally got a listen to The xx, which turned out to be the opposite of what I expected. I wasn’t prepared for how mellow and pleasant the record is. Joanna Newsom, of course, has been my little gem of the year so far. I won’t ramble on about her again. There’s a whole post should anyone wish to revisit my ode-ing.
P: I too love the Field Music album. I haven’t caught them live yet and I hear they are incredible in the flesh. The Los Campesinos! album is also very good, a lot more robust for want of another term than their last offering, which is no bad thing. I’m also liking the Lightspeed Champion album, it’s quite grand and theatrical in places. Looking through the Elba diary though there is loads of exciting things out over the coming months.
K: I think we’d both recommend Mitchell Museum right now (as Phil you nagged me until I listened to them), a free download is floating here waiting to make ears here, there and everywhere happy.
OH! Lest we forget, a little well done from us both to SeMPeR Fi for qualifying for the Area Final of Live and Unsigned held in Newcastle in April. A well deserved victory!
There’s been a whole load of stuff happening here at Elba Towers as well as happening everywhere else so I just thought I’d post a wee update…
We’ve been in the studio recording next months podcast with Martin John Henry (ex-De Rosa) and it’s gonna be a goodie. The double bill of October podcasts featuring Andrea Marini and Salon Society are still up on the myspace page for those who haven’t listened yet (note to self; do something about making them downloadable!).
Elba Studios‘ Stephen has been fairly busy in the studio recently whilst also masquerading as a keyboard virtuoso. He’s been practicing with the afore mentioned Salon Society for their album launch this coming FRIDAY (30/10) at Arta. We’ve been told rehearsals are coming on well and it should be a great show!
The second Elba Sessions Presents…evening on November 5th is all sorted and ready to go. We’re feeling super organised this time and still buzzing slightly after the last one! We’ve got a great line-up on the night featuring Julia and The Doogans, John Hinshelwood & Sandra Gellatly and Andrea Marini. It would be great to see some of you down at The Liquid Ship, after all it is a recession busting £0 to get in!
Myself and Chris Elba are off to see Chris T-T at Sleazies this week, really looking forward to it, some good local supports playing as well. Other notable gigs in the next 7 days are Camera Obscura + Emma Pollock at Barrowlands (29/10), Los Campesinos + Copy Haho + Sparky Deathcap at King Tuts and Glasgow PodcART’s big gig at The Classic Grand featuring Esperi, Debutant, Panda Su and Yahweh, who we caught at Sloans last night and were mightily impressed with!
Also, for everyone who likes a good freebie and hasn’t done so already, go here to download some tracks which The Scottish Enlightenment are just giving away!!!
Our Christmas album debate has now had a couple of responses, all bigging up LOW and in Al’s case, posting us a youtube video which is still chilling us to our very core…all very HO HO HO! Join in here…
P.S. We have just set up a facebook, if you have one too, just search facebook for Elba Sessions, be a fan!
P.P.S Muller Little Stars Jelly Pots are dynamite!