Once again we bring your attention and urge you to have your SAY in this year’s Scottish Album of the Year voting. This is your very last chance to shout loud and make it known which of the longlist you think is deserving of going on to the prestigious shortlist as winner of the public vote. We’re not about swaying your vote one way or the other, after all we’re still not sure which box we’ll be ticking. We’ve listed the 20 albums below but you can get much more info over on the SAY Award page, as well as voting links for each album. The clock is ticking. You have until midnight tonight!
The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads
Belle and Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
Blue Rose Code – The Ballads of Peckham Rye
Errors – Lease of Life
Fatherson – I Am An Island
Happy Meals – Apèro
Honeyblood – Honeyblood
Idlewild – Everything Ever Written
Kathryn Joseph – Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled
King Creosote – From Scotland With Love
Mike Vass – In The Wake Of Neil Gunn
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love
PAWS – Youth Culture Forever
The Phantom Band – Strange Friend
Slam – Reverse Proceed
Treacherous Orchestra – Grind
The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave
Withered Hand – New Gods
Young Fathers – DEAD
I reckon well over 50% of blogs have some sort of post on there somewhere which says “it’s been ages since I wrote”, just like a letter to your primary school penpal. To be honest, 50% of the writing on this blog probably carries that message in some sort of way! However, life does get busy and you’ve got to pick and choose your moments. The good ship Elba is no longer manned by energetic spring chickens (if it ever was) but we are still unwavering in our love for music in it’s many forms.
The ‘getting older’ and time aspect of music has really got me thinking lately. I’ve always maintained that I probably had an earlier introduction to certain types of music than I maybe should have. As a child 8 years the junior of my sibling I would always look up to them and try to be like them. At that age, the main thing you can do is like the same things as them. Luckily my elder brother was a total muso (there has to be a better way of saying that) and was always buying new tapes, then CD’s then vinyl. I’d consume loads of it, not knowing what it was I was listening to but finding out years later just what an impact it had on me. I begun to join all the dots.
Now that I’ve arrived in my early 30’s, I’ve forged my own paths through new music, amassed my own library of sounds and attended more than my fair share of musical events. I also now find myself looking at the beginning of the calendar year and wondering which albums have a 25th anniversary in the offing so I can see which bands I can cross of the bucket list. Of course, I know that I’ll have an ally in my brother who I can go and see them with, always asking the same question, “Did you think when you were 17 that you’d go and see Dinosaur Jr play in the Arches in 20 years? Or EPMD. Or the Jesus and Mary Chain.”
I’ve even looked ahead to think, how old will I be when ‘x album’ is 25? However, something seems to be taking hold and anniversary shows no longer seem to be confined to 25 years. No, in the last few months I’ve started seeing 15 year anniversary shows for albums. Albums which were a big part of me growing older yet I don’t immediately feel full of nostalgia. 15 years doesn’t really sound like a suitable point for a celebration? It’s not one of those landmark ages, like 25 is. It gets me wondering, is it as simple as these musicians wanting to ‘flog another horse’ again because they’ve no longer got new stuff to tour and need the bucks, or is it more probable that music has changed dramatically in the last 10-15 years so records now have a shorter shelf life? Records which are released now need to be immediate. Consumers download it, listen to it and in many cases, it’s then forgotten about. The album is less revered than it used to be. Music is so much more accessible and more people are able to find a wider selection of listening. No longer does everyone just have the choice of the top 20 in Our Price. In having a wider choice of listening, the amount of people behind one album will diminish or you’ll move on to the next new thing before the last album has achieved legendary status in your collection.
Two such 15 year anniversary shows which I’ve notably seen advertised recently were for Badly Drawn Boy’s ‘Hour of the Bewilderbeast’ and the Polyphonic Spree’s uplifting debut ‘The Beginning Stages of…’. In a heartbeat I bought tickets for the latter for their live show at the QMU (not all that long ago, honest!) was really a musical highlight in my life. However, it got me thinking later that 15 year anniversaries sounded odd. Was it that long ago? Am I getting old?! There’s no doubting the two albums are both excellent works but it is probably an indicator of how music has changed that come the 25th anniversary of these two albums there would be less than sufficient interest to make a tour happen. We know that music has changed but I do worry that we place less value and meaning on the albums which we enjoy.
Looking ahead through my gig calendar I see a few anniversaries on the horizon. Notably in June, the celebration of Mogwai at the Barrowlands and Nas playing Illmatic. However, if nostalgia isn’t for you, there is still plenty to be getting on with.
In June thee mighty Bdy_Prts will play Stereo on Friday 12th of June in what promises to be the perfect way to boogie yourself into the weekend.
And if you’re looking for something a bit different where culture meets fashion and music, then grab a ticket for the next Lighthouse Late event which happens on Friday 29th May. Musical treats are abound from Prides, KLOE and the irrepressible Nicola Meighan (DJ) as well as an upcycling t-shirt workshop, an Instagram photo booth and the Tea green Summer Makers market. Throw in a couple of treats from Innis & Gunn and Brugal Rum and it sounds like a pretty good way to spend payday. The fun kicks off at 7:30pm.
Each year we cobble together some words on the winner of the ‘BAMS’ album of the year award and as all music fans do, lament the fact that our top ten didn’t exactly match the eventual top 10. That said, we’ve loved nearly all the winners of the BAMS so far, from The Phantom Band through to Meursault, the associated writers of the BAMS can be justly proud of their choices. In awarding the 2014 award to the sublime ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave’ by The Twilight Sad, Elba feel a little bit of kinship with our fellow writers, this album also was our personal favourite of the last year. That connection continues with no less then five more of the Elba top 10, making the BAMS list.
However, don’t allow that to make you think that a small pool of albums were chosen this year. Music, well certainly releases were in rude health last year, personally, we could have picked twenty albums to give nods to but within the BAMS voting, 192 different albums received votes. That’s 8 more than in 2013. The 37 writers who voted, chose 27 different albums as their favourite of 2014 with 10 albums receiving multiple ‘number 1 votes’. Of course, lists are subjective but for another year, Elba were very pleased to be a small part in awarding an accolade to a very deserving album.
The BAMS Top 10 2014
1. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave
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
In case you missed it, the longlist for this year’s Scottish Album of the Year was announced a couple of weeks ago and as usual there is no shortage of talent on display. Whether it be Frightened Rabbit’s anthemic ‘Pedestrian Verse‘, Tommy Smith’s National Jazz Orchestra’s homage to Duke Ellington, ‘In the Spirit of Duke‘ or Mogwai’s brooding score to Les Revenants, there is a bit of everything on the longlist of 20.
I probably sound like a broken record (saves this sentence again for 2015), but i genuinely look forward to the longlist being announced every year. Not just because there are albums that I hope will be on there but also because there’s often a few albums which I’ve either never heard of or just not paid enough attention to which I’ll then go and give a proper listen to. This year is no exception. Of course, readers of this blog will have guessed that we’re very happy to see Kid Canaveral’s ‘Now That You Are A Dancer‘, The Pastels’ ‘Slow Summits‘, Rick Redbeard’s ‘No Selfish Heart‘ and ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest‘ by Boards of Canada on the list. However, we’re also delighted to see another stack of albums there, ripe to fall in love with or just give a bit more listening to.
At the end of the day, the SAY Award will go to one winner, but the fact that these 20 albums have shone through the hundreds of albums released in this country, is quite the achievement in itself.
This year’s longlist is as follows;
Adam Holmes and the Embers – Heirs and Graces
Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse
Biffy Clyro – Opposites
Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
Camera Obscura – Desire Lines
CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe
Dunedin Consort (Dir. John Butt) – J. S. Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos
Edwyn Collins – Understated
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
Hector Bizerk – Nobody Seen Nothing
Kid Canaveral – Now That You Are a Dancer
Mogwai – Les Revenants
Rick Redbeard – No Selfish Heart
RM Hubbert – Breaks & Bone
Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire – Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire
Scottish Chamber Orchestra (R. Ticciati) – Berlioz: Les Nuit D’été
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra – In The Spirit Of Duke
Steve Mason – Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time
The Pastels – Slow Summits
Young Fathers – Tape Two
Currently the SAY website is streaming a longlisted album a day on their website. A public vote will follow for 72 hours starting on May 28th.
Sold out shows seem to be the order of this last week. I’m a little sore about not getting a Bill Callahan ticket for this Saturday’s Celtic Connections appearance. Similar tardiness led to missing out on The National’s docu-tour-fam-dram Mistaken For Strangers at the Glasgow Music and Film Festival, which has a delightful musical accompaniment from the second artist on this, our newest mixtape. Not all is lost though because many a Celtic Connections show has been enjoyed by ourselves, including a couple courtesy of BBC Scotland’s live sessions, plus payday rolled around and now there’s a stack of gig tickets waiting to be taken and torn, leaving stubs to be used as bookmarks. Does anyone else do that, or is it just we two (potentially three)?
Mogwai – Hexon Bogon 
Kim: Mogwai made the top ten!
Mogwai made the top ten!
Mogwai made the top ten!
The band’s scoring of Les Revenants may have been a catalyst for recent popularity, amongst which this week there has been a sold out show at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as well as their single cask whisky selling out at The Good Spirit Co. Whatever the instigator, it is overdue and long may it continue. Enjoy the swift dramatic rumble of Rave Tapes’ album art-track Hexon Bogon.
Mogwai made the top ten!
Rozi Plain – Humans 
Kim: The last entry I made on Elba was a post packed full of information about the Glasgow Music and Film Festival. There was so much detail that the articulation of my overall enthusiasm may have been drowned out. It’s not often that my giddy chatter will be interrupted by such seriousness but I’ll allow it once again here. One of the most desirable events, as expected, was Mistaken For Strangers at The Glad Cafe. Lost Map Records’ Rozi Plain will play after the screening. Alas it’s now sold out but if you are unfamiliar with last year’s Joined Sometimes Unjoined then Humans should unite you.
Richmond Fontaine – Moving Back Home #2
Phil: This weeks excuse to shoehorn an old Richmond Fontaine track on to the mixtape comes in the form of a new piece of writing. Willy Vlautin, frontman of RF has just had his 4th book, ‘The Free’ published in the US and UK so I thought it was a good excuse to put on one of my favourite tracks. Vlautin’s writing is pretty reminiscent of his songwriting, tales of America set against (mostly) bleak backgrounds. I love reading his books and strangely, for all the gloom and hardship that he writes about, it really makes me want to go on a midwest road trip. Not only is his fourth book released this year, his first book, The Motel Life, has been made into a film. You can see the trailer here.
Kid Canaveral – Who Would Want to be Loved – 
Phil: I’m still muddling through my albums of 2013 for the Scottish BAMS vote and Kid Canaveral’s ‘Now That You’re A Dancer’ is sure to be in the reckoning. They’re releasing this track on hot pink heart shaped vinyl and if that wasn’t romantic enough, they’re having a Lumber Party at Stereo on February 14th ably assisted by Lost Map label mates, Randolph’s Leap, Malcolm Middleton and on the wheels of steel, The Twilight Sad. Hawt!
Pixies – Greens and Blues
Phil: People seem to be a bit down on the Pixies at the moment. Lamenting the passing of a bass player named Kim, saying they aren’t what they were, yes, there may be some truth in these statements but I couldn’t help listening to their latest EP and thinking that this unashamedly poppy hum-along wouldn’t have been out of place when they were in their celebrated prime. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would have been an indie club floorfiller.
Joanna Gruesome – Wussy Void 
Kim: Hey dreamy vocals over punky sounds. You please me. The Weird Sister LP is rich with such style and also has a track entitled Lemonade Grrrl, which has my heart aflutter. Wussy Plain is toned down Joanna Gruesome and still tries to rip apart your eardrums on the chorus. Joanna Gruesome play alongside Speedy Ortiz and Pinact on 15 February at Broadcast. Ear protection is advisable.
PLANK! -Aphidelity 
Kim: Procrastination has its value. I have discovered that when reading through guidelines and policy gets you down, Twitter is always there to while away the hours. I think it was the artist name and title that first stirred me into further investigation. Then I saw the artwork and HOLY CRAP I WANT TO SEE THAT MOVIE WHERE A GIANT BUG DESTROYS A CITY TO A SCORE OF INTERGALACTIC PROGGY-KRAUT-DISCO! So, PLANK! have written a Moroder meets Murphy instrumental. Now we just need a modern day Carpenter (this might not delight many but Rodriguez springs to mind) to make that film.
We continue our collaborative mixtape making this week with number eleven in the series. It has been a fortnight of fewer gig trips, though not of lesser bands. We have a stack of tickets for approaching shows so some down time was definitely required. To achieve this, we have been putting our feet up and indulging in some lazy Sunday listening sessions, aided by some fantastic record re-issues. One of us jumped aboard the great unstoppable music bandwagon thanks to some great artistry and direction for a live music video. We both have unashamedly been overexposing ourselves to this fortnight’s tracks and we’re already stacking songs for the next mix.
The two of Elba that bring you Eleven have been bullying the other into listening to whatever each is excited about for more years than we’d care to count now. Well, I bully. Phil is patient and understanding when three weeks after he told me about a band I appear sporting a band tee or tote, demanding we go to see them on whatever dreary, rain-sodden Glasgow weeknight they might be playing. These mixtapes are turning into an endless and beautiful discussion for Elba and have us appreciating music both near and far. Hopefully they will fall on open ears.
Just Handshakes – London Bound
Phil: I have a really bad habit of storing up music, be it things that were sent to me, or stuff that I buy. Months will go past before I remember I have it. That happened with this track, well, the whole single. I acquired it on I forget who’s recommendation but it’s bloody good and to be quite honest would have been ideal in the warm summer months. It’s sweet indie pop at it’s very best. And being that it’s November, the band are giving away their track of the same name free, for the rest of the month.
La Sera – Please Be My Third Eye
Kim: Elba’s love of Kickball Katy Goodman should be no mystery. La Sera have stolen and broken our hearts on a previous mixtape. We’ve been charmed by her tour photos and updates over the course of their current US tour. I’d advise following Katy on whatever online stalking means that you prefer to accompany a listen of her sophomore pop-punk singalong. I’ve returned to Sees The Light and have been bopping about my flat (in the fashion of dance trendsetter Greta Gerwig) with a gigantic grin on my face.
Poor Things – Morgan
Kim: Phil would probably be better to put across his thoughts on Morgan as his reaction to it has just been lovely. Poor Things are a Glasgow indie jangly pop-rock trio that invoke the spirit of Steven Malkmus and Teenage Fanclub. The upbeat guitars and melodic vocals have won us completely. Those chorus ‘ooohs’ and that guitar break just tip this track into the ‘on constantly’ (aka mixtape) pile. Poor Things play 13th Note on 20th November.
Monoganon – Best Pals
Phil: It struck me the other week that we’re all going to start trying to pick our albums of the year again soon. This year has flown by, it feels like it wasn’t that long since I did last year’s and now that merry-go-round is imminent again. It’s often quite easy, on early listens to a really good album, to proclaim it as probably one of the albums of the year, but I really think with Family, Monoganon have nailed it. It’s certainly going to be right up there on many peoples lists. And with tracks like this, why the hell not?
Blood Relatives – A Murder Of Crows
Phil: I have been waiting impatiently for this album to be released for a very long time and I’m pleased to report that when it arrived it had all the indie-folk-pop hooks that I could have wanted. Pretty much every song is memorable and this one reminds me a bit of Sons and Daughters. I think it’s the ‘oh oh ohhhhhhhhhhs…’. Blood Relatives play RBS Museum Lates in Edinburgh tonight.
Siobhan Wilson – Laugh Or Die
Phil: There are some tracks I find hard to write about. There’s not much I can say about this one other than I was completely and utterly smitten the first time I heard it and I still love it more each time I hear it. In fact, I think me and this track will just get a room.
Mogwai – Remurdered
Kim: I’ve already dedicated a post to this track. It was my musical highlight of last week. Mogwai continue their ingenious trail through music with first offering off of next year’s The Rave Tapes. That three minute mark is joyous. I will leave it at that before I turn into a squealing fan-girl.
David Bowie – Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA)
Kim: The David Bowie Love Is Lost remix is finally available for ownership. I have abused the Soundcloud of this track since it was revealed in October. This is not a track that should require any further exposure but I would be amiss not to include it on this mixtape. DFA hero and centre of the shining LCD Soundsystem (we miss you!) disco ball James Murphy honours the great Steve Reich via handclap in his remix of David Bowie song Love Is Lost. It sounds like something that could never top its description. Guess what? Yup. So, if I manage to play a part in bringing this mix to just one more person in the world, I’ll be happy. Despacio, the custom built soundsystem made and helmed by Mr Murphy and 2manydjs, is setting up in London late December. Oh! How I wish I were going.
I like my title for these words. If you consider that a first listen of the band would be to be Mogwai-ed. There would be no state of undoing. But redoing? Huh. I’m not certain. I’m quite sure that you can’t be Remurdered, in medical terms anyway. What a name though. The first sound of The Rave Tapes came on Monday and can be heard below, courtesy of Rock Action.
There are signature Mogwai noises. It’s a teasing build. There are little flares of guitar, the way Mogwai do them best. Where other guitarists would cease their melodic song, here more thought is added; an answer to the question being posed. The percussion jumps in as it pleases. Then, after three minutes of beautiful and sinister sound the moment comes that will have you devoted. Nothing else will matter to you but this song for at least four days*. Oh and at 3:20 you will find the sound that will deafen you when this track is played live.
Mogwai have announced live dates, beginning in the new year after an ATP appearance, including Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 28th January 2014 as part of Celtic Connections.
The band’s twitter is promising even more news in mere hours. This leaves a little time to head to the band’s website and get a free copy of Remurdered. The Rave Tapes is available for pre-order now and will be released on 20th January 2014.
* based on the number of days that have passed since the test group** first listened to the track
This year sees the inaugural award of The Scottish Album of The Year. With just days until the longlist is whittled down to a shortlist, the general public are being given a chance to have their say with a nomination for one album to go on the judges final list.
…seems to be all that we’re about here at Elba recently! However, we feel it’s fully justified, after all, Kim is still giddy from their show at Paisley Town Hall and has had plenty good stuff to say about their new album. I myself will admit to being more unfamiliar with them than I should be but I’ve resolved with Kim that this will change!
Anyway, we were sent this rather lovely video of them playing Rano Pano recently, for BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway Show.