Tagged: meursault

Farewell, Bastard Mountain

Scottish indie supergroup, I’ll admit, is a phrase which makes me a bit uneasy. However, it seems to be the term that many have used to describe Bastard Mountain, a new band on the excellent Song, By Toad label featuring Neil Pennycook & Pete Harvey from Meursault, Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow & the Workshop, Rob St. John from eagleowl & Meursault, Rory Sutherland from Broken Records & Reuben Taylor from James Yorkston & the Athletes. (super, eh?) SbTR-A-030 Outer Sleeve EXI wonder though if supergroup is a bit of a disservice. I get connotations of an experimental ego-trip when I hear the phrase but this album doesn’t even come close to falling under that category. If this weren’t members of some of my favourite Scottish bands in recent years, I’d love the album exactly the same. It sounds like they’re are a band rather than loose collective, it references the styles of their own work and ultimately it’s a Bastard Mountain record, not a record by him, her and them. Neil Pennycook and Jill O’Sullivan’s voices sound like they were meant to be recorded together with each complimenting the other. The tracks were written both individually and brought together by all and astonishingly was done in such a short period of time.

We don’t review records much on Elba Sessions which on one hand is a shame but writing reviews is not our forte and we’d much rather not churn out the same cliched dross for every review, just for the sake of doing so. However, some records deserve column inches and that’s why we wanted to feature this record. Listen to the track below and make up your own mind. If you like it, then they’ll play a few gigs at the end of this month in London and Edinburgh. Sadly though, that’s where the supergroup element seems real because if you don’t catch them now then god knows when you might get a chance again…

You can buy the album, ‘Farewell, Bastard Mountain’ here

Bastard Mountain play

London – Shhh! Festival, Sat. 24th May. Tickets here.
Edinburgh – Queen’s Hall, Thu. 29th May. Tickets here

Today’s Pick In Edinburgh – 1/8/13

Where we pick one or maybe several things to check out in Edinburgh during the month of August [disclaimer: in the event of tardiness, don’t be fooled by the headline, it’s today cos we’re picking it today, rather than you should go today]

Two things to start off. Firstly, we’re probably thought of as a Glasgow blog. Predominantly yes, except one of our number now lives in Edinburgh, another has a sibling there and the other, well, they just like being social. Also, what’s with just being tied to one locale? Hell, we’re multi-national here at Elba.

Secondly, we’re just a music blog. Now, that’s a harder one to argue about but we don’t always have our ears buried in our ‘Beats by Dre‘ headphones, nor do we spend numerous hours per day fawning over our record collection (define numerous). No, we are also locked in a constant battle with each other about who will complete their world book challenge on goodreads first, we’ve been known to visit art installations, take photographs, cook and we all have a passion for sports, mostly American ones, oh and one of us likes baseball…

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So, in order to slightly dispel the above ‘myths’, we’re plumping for a play as todays pick. Well, maybe more a musical than play, in fact, it’s a lo-fi one at that and it stars a bit of a hero around these parts, Eddie Argos of ‘classic rock titans‘ Art Brut. Yeah, so not much of a departure from what we usually write about, well, we’ve got a month to work on a bit of variety.

‘The Islanders’, as we said, is a lo-fi musical centred on the retelling and reflection of a holiday which Argos, and the shows writer and co-star Amy Mason took in the late 90’s where storytelling and song attempt to make sense of young love, growing up and the Isle of Wight.

To accompany the show you can also get a rather cool Islanders graphic novel and soundtrack, featuring the shows third member, Jim Moray, over on their bandcamp page.

The Islanders is performed daily between the 1st and 25th of August (excl 12th) at 4pm (if you hurry, you can catch today!) in the Underbelly on the Cowgate. Tickets are £10 but there are a couple of 2for1 shows on the 5th and 6th. Tickets can be purchased through the fringe site.

Also, whilst we’re here, the fantastic Pale Imitation Festival that we spoke about last week kicks off tonight at Henry’s. Tonight’s bill features William Henry Miller (psssst, that’s Meursault), Jonnie Common and The Bad Books (another moniker). £5 in at 7pm.

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…

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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!

My Top 5 Albums of 2012 (and joint 6th's)

We usually do an Elba Annual in December where we ask people their ‘best of’s’ from throughout the year but seeing as we’ve had a particularly quiet year on here, we decided it probably was best to give it a miss and hopefully get it going again next year.

I did however, want to share my Top 5 albums of the year with you. I am asked each year by Peenko to submit my albums of the year for inclusion in the yearly BAMS (Blogs and Music Sites) list and this year when Lloyd from Peenko realised he’d run out of fingers to count up the albums, he called on me for my ninja spreadsheet skills. That list is still to be announced however, so I thought I’d get my list up before A) I forget and B) The BAMS list spoils my thunder.

Limiting albums to a Top ‘whatever’ is always quite hard I think. It depends on mood or the time of year, so in my Top 5, I could probably interchange about 3 of the 5 that are included below. In fact, in the three weeks since i sent over my albums of the year, I’ve changed the order in my head several times. However, I’ve gone with my original list but a few albums which on any other day would have made my Top 5 were;

6= Yusuf Azak – Go Native
6= The Pure Conjecture – Courgettes
6= Laurence & The Slab Boys – Lo-Fi Disgrace
6= Beach House – Bloom
6= RM Hubbert – Thirteen Lost & Found
6= Stars – The North
6= Randolph’s Leap – …and the Curse of the Haunted Headphones

But anyway, to the Top 5…

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5. Best Coast – The Other Place

“Summertime in 11 tracks”

 

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4. Francois & The Atlas Mountains – E Volo Love

“I find it hard not to love this album as it is but having seen them play live, it takes them to another level altogether. A highlight of 2012”

 

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3. Chris Devotion and The Expectations – Amalgamation and Capital

“heard it prior to 2012 (just) and it still gets frequently aired in my house. There’s no messing about here. Catchy, two minute rock n roll tunes.”

 

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2. Meursault – Something for the Weakened

“I loved Meursault’s first album. I love Meursault’s second album. ‘Settling’ = shivers”

 

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1. Django Django – Django Django

“Another that I can’t seem to put down. Just a really great listen that I never seem to tire of. Again, have seen them a couple of times over the last year and a bit and they are always excellent.”

when you get a song stuck in your head (Saint Max, Meursault and The Pure Conjecture)

for those moments you just can’t get that little ditty out of your head

We’re spoilt for new releases this week. All three of these tracks were released yesterday and they are all, at different points of the day, stuck in my head.

Saint Max and the Fanatics – Let Em’ Have It Sunshine

This one caught me completely off guard. Taken from their debut EP, this track has a raft of ska horns and lyrical chops to match. Apparently he’s not a real Saint either but I’m going to let him off because the whole EP

Next up, is Flittin’ by Meursault. To be honest, it’s the whole album here, not just this track. I made no secrets at just how much I loved Meursault’s previous release ‘All Creatures Will Make Merry’ and have been looking forward to ‘Something For the Weakened‘ for quite a while now. It is a little more polished and it is a little more epic but it’s still undeniably Meursault. This track Flittin’ and the grandiose ‘Settling’ are particular favourites.

Finally, we have ‘The Throat’ from The Pure Conjecture. I had no idea what to expect from this album at all, yet, when I heard this track I was immediately taken in by it. Again, the whole album is brilliant, but this track and opener ‘The Power of The Notes Is very Good’ are album stand-outs for me.

Hopefully a couple of these tracks will play on repeat in your head today.

Rob St. John & Ian Humberstone – Your Phantom Limb/House on the Hill

I sometimes find myself sceptical of a split single or EP. I find that on many occasions the bands don’t particularly compliment one another or they are completely different styles or just plainly that I like one band and not the other, probably with no real reason.

However, with the above release, I most definitely like the whole release. I’m familiar with Rob St.John by name and not a huge amount of his music and I’m not familiar with Ian Humberstone at all, although I get the feeling that shouldn’t be the case and it’s probably completely through fault of my own. There is a cohesion to the 7″ which kind of tallies up when I read the accompanying press release to find that the pair have collaborated together in the past and

that both tracks were recorded in Humberstone’s kitchen on a Tascam reel to reel.

There’s something about Ian Humberstone’s voice which reminds me a bit of Bill Callahan but I’m not really one for making observations and comparisons so we’ll leave it at that. It is a subtle and gently crafted release, both songs different but very much alike. It meanders along beautifully and if truth be told, I get a bit disappointed when we reach the end, although, I can always go back to the start and listen again.

The 7″ is available now from Song, By Toad records and various other outlets. You can peruse and make your purchase here.

‘Your Phantom Limb’ is the first single from Rob St John’s album which is due for release on Song, By Toad Records in November. He takes off to London, Oxford and lands back in Edinburgh for a couple of release shows. We’d like to point out here that if you are in London, he’s playing with the fantastic Birdengine, so it should be quite a gig. Full dates are below;

14th Oct London – King’s Place with Viking Moses and Birdengine
15th Oct Oxford – Modern Art Oxford with Viking Moses and Petrels
22nd Oct Edinburgh – Pilrig St. Paul’s with Meursault, eagleowl & Viking Moses

Rob St. John & Ian Humberstone Split 7″ by Song, by Toad

Do a little bit for Japan

I’m sure we’ve all seen the awful pictures and devastation that the earthquake and subsequent tsunami has caused over the last few weeks in Japan. We just wanted to highlight a couple of the many worthwhile fundraising efforts that are being made to help send a bit more aid to the region.

The good people over at Audio Antihero have released a compilation with a staggering 34 (THIRTY FOUR) tracks featuring the likes of Meursault, Nosferatu D2, Darren Hayman and Le Reno Amps. The donation for this album is as follows, straight from the horses mouth;

“It’s priced at £3.99

to those of you who can’t afford much and the ‘pay what you want’ option invites those of you with a little extra to dig a little deeper. Thank you”

The proceeds will be split between the following, Japan Society, Shelterbox, Red Cross, Save The Children and The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. You can buy the album, titled ‘Bob Hope Would…’ here

Meanwhile, on the live front here in Glasgow, there will be a fundraising gig for the Red Cross taking place at Stereo next Wednesday 30th March. The line up includes a Sparrow and The Workshop/Strike The Colours mash up with a Jill O’Sullivan and Jenny Reeve collaborative effort, Haight Ashbury and Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. Tickets are a fiver in and are likely to shift fast. You can buy in advance here.

Elba Annual 2010 – Phil (Elba)

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.