A little later than in previous years, the 2013 winner of the Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites Award (or BAMS as it is known affectionately in some circles) was announced, with Chvrches taking the number one spot for their critically acclaimed album, ‘The Bones of What You Believe’.
The votes were cast by 40 writers from 29 different blogs and music sites with 164 different LP’s getting nods. As ever, it was nice to see a few of our picks making the top 10. Boards of Canada, The Pastels and my top pick Kid Canaveral to name a few. Here’s how the masses voted;
1. CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe (Virgin)
2. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic)
3. Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse (Song, By Toad)
4. Rick Redbeard – No Selfish Heart (Chemikal Underground)
5. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp)
6. The Pastels – Slow Summits (Domino)
7. The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
8. Steve Mason – Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time (Domino)
9. Kid Canaveral – Now That You Are A Dancer (Fence)
10. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus (ATP Recordings)
Here’s how your Elba writers voted;
1.Savages – Silence Yourself
2.Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
3.Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
4.My Bloody Valentine – mbv
5.RM Hubbert – Breaks and Bone
6.Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
7.Sparrow and The Workshop – Murderopolis
8.Bill Callahan – Dream River
9.Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
10.The Pastels – Slow Summits
1.Kid Canaveral – Now That You’re A Dancer
2.Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
3.Thirty Pounds of Bone – I Cannot Sing You Here, But For Songs Of Where
4.Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
5.Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
6.Sparrow & The Workshop – Murderopolis
7.The Pastels – Slow Summits
8.RM Hubbert – Breaks & Bone
9.Monoganon – Family
10. Fidlar – Fidlar
Winter is here, we’re thinking A LOT about our forthcoming gig calendar over the next few weeks, and our heads have been somewhat turned by the fact that it’s the season to be ok with listening to Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas output. As with tradition in this festive period, we’ve indulged…
The Twilight Sad – Cold Days From The Birdhouse 
Kim: As your mixtape makers will be attending The Twilight Sad’s first of two sold out shows playing debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters in King Tut’s, it feels important to honour this song. Yet, as I write this I can’t help but feel my attachment to Cold Days From The Birdhouse is a very personal one. I would prefer to not contextualise what the textures and lyrics of this song might have invoked in me back in 2007 but without doing so it’s difficult to express the song’s impact. So, I have aimed to identify some of the constructs that brought about my affinity to to Fourteen’s first track. The gentle and raw opening combines soft tones with an unrelenting note being bashed out on the piano. This serves as the perfect example of the juxtaposition present in near every facet of this song. That gentle opening changes to a deafening bulk. Lyrically almost every sentiment is met with hurt. I feel I can empirically and impersonally impart that James Graham has such great power in his voice that a vague lyric can sting as much as one of confession. We may be sobbing into our pints near the sound desk that Friday night.
Super Adventure Club – Fuck the Pop 
Phil: This track is Super Adventure Club all over. If you were lucky enough to witness a live show in their sadly shortened tenure, you will be familiar. Technically, outrageously awesome. I rarely attended a SAC show where I wasn’t in awe of how disgustingly proficient they were on their weapon of choice. They released their posthumous album this week on Armellodie. It’s bloody good. I hope we hear more, sometime in the future (despite posthum-ity). Just imagine a horse in a lab coat dancing, turn the volume up to 11 and this is Super Adventure Club at their best.
Kim: Every so often a little treat appears online. Bands are getting good at disseminating early versions of tracks, live material and album overflow. Sparrow & The Workshop made their track One Brush free to download last week, stating that they didn’t have room for it on this year’s Murderopolis. This song is all drums, distorted guitar and Jill O’Sullivan’s chant. It’s a piercing vocal. At just over two minutes it’s a brief, visceral listen that ends very abruptly. Cracking.
Neko Case – Man
Kim: Neko Case’s most recent album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, managed to overwhelm me this year despite my ridiculous levels of expectation. I’ve picked Man for this mixtape in which Neko explores her masculine side. After the show this weekend we hope to befriend Neko, whereupon she will invite us to live on her farm. There we will spend our days playing ditties on the piano in her kitchen, brushing Norman her horse, eating cereal and watching Adventure Time. It’s going to be swell.
Withered Hand – Black Tambourine 
Phil: A very late contender to song of the year. If you know me, and my fascination with all things Teenage Fanclub, you can probably see why I was so smitten here. It passed the pre-bath dance test with my 2 year old and Withered Hand is in my 6 year old nephew’ top 3 musicians (Euros and Pictish Trail are the other two, if you’re interested. Dude.) so there’s some other reasons why I’m drawn. He’s got a new album out next year and this little ray of sunshine is the ideal appetiser. Can’t wait!
Randolph’s Leap – One More Sleep ’til Christmas
Phil: Is there a more adorable band around here than Randolph’s Leap? No, probably not. They continue to display just what a solid band they are every year with release after release. This year they released an EP on Olive Grove Records, next year an album on Lost Map beckons. If you go to gigs regularly in Glasgow then you’ll have struggled to miss them, prolific is the best word. If you have missed them, then head along to George Square in Glasgow this Monday evening , hopefully they’ll play this little ditty. We’ll be standing with a mulled wine having a smile.
Freelance Whales – Winter Seeds
Phil: I feel a bit hypocritical here, but whilst we’re canvassing opinions on favourite albums and songs for our Elba Annual, I’m not sure you can actually have one truly favourite song, above all else. I’m more of the opinion that certain songs or albums fit an occasion, time or in this case, a season. Some songs evoke feelings and this, Winter Seeds by Queens’ Freelance Whales is cold weather music all over. Still, it makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.
Sufjan Stevens – Do You Hear What I Hear?
Kim: I’ve done it. I’ve gone too far. I’ve gone as indulgent as I can go this month. I knew that there was a chance that we might feature some festive music and I had nine minutes and fourteen seconds of trippy electronic Sufjan goodness in mind for the occasion. I was considering how to broach it’s inclusion just as Asthmatic Kitty’s Winter Sampler appeared. Whilst this track does not appear, Christmas Woman off of Silver and Gold does and it is just one of many excellent tracks from the AK roster available for free download. Chris Schlarb, Lily & Madeline, Fol Chen and Helado Negro all feature.
A week ago I found myself in conversation with Phil over his idea for a female playlist for Radio Elba. Somewhere between agreeing that it was a good idea and offering my assistance I ended up being responsible for making you a mixtape. Easy. Only, Phil then featured both of my favourite tracks by Wild Flag and La Sera on Four. Dilemma. Over the proceeding week I have chopped and changed, listened to Romance by Wild Flag on loop anyway, and come up with the below. It’s not who I consider to be the greatest female musicians of all time or the cream of new artists but more what I’ve got playing day to day. I’ve always had an eye for the ladies…
I find myself struggling to express how much I adore Merrill Garbus’ second album, W H O K I L L, but I do throw it at people’s ear-holes as often as I can to make up for that. My Country is a nice starting for my first mix as it belongs to an album that sits amongst my top three in 2011. The lyrics scream her questioning of the American dream and even caution about doing so ‘the worst thing about living a lie is just wondering when they’ll find out’ alongside a throbbing and insistent clash of sounds; listening is not optional.
THEESatisfaction – QueenS
I think the sun has been a good influence on Phil and I this last week. We’ve both turned to sunnier music. Hazy pop for Phil and meandering funk for myself. THEESatisfaction made up of Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White released their album awE naturalE on Sub Pop this week, hopefully reaching some ears a little further afar than their handmade CD albums could. An MP3 of QueenS can be found here
Sleigh Bells – Comeback Kid
There isn’t much I can tell you that you won’t already know about Sleigh Bells. They are entirely a guilty please of mine. I’m a sucker for a loud guitar and a lady; Karen O and Nick Zinner, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince/Jack White and now
Alexis Krauss and Derek Edward Miller.
Wild Flag – Something Came Over Me
As I mentioned, a previous mixtape featured Wild Flag’s Romance. However, their omission from this run of lady-leaden tracks would be insanity. Phil mentioned their supergroup status and I want to add that if I could steal any talent it would be Janet Weiss’. The unfamiliar should watch some Wild Flag and Sleater-Kinney live performances.
My Brightest Diamond – Escape Routes
Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond has been a constant on my playlists for years now. Her most recent album All Things Will Unwind sees her putting down her guitar and limiting herself to the pseudo-classical style she frequently uses to flesh out arrangements. The album title is explanatory and relevant to this point in her life and reflected in her studio content. This slightly more mellow tone could be a reflection of recent motherhood; something that I find nearly almost brings a change in the female musician’s musical texture. The tone may be softened but Shara’s lyrics remain exquisite and as sensual as ever.
Grass Widow – Disappearing Industries
Widow released their second album this week, having built their own label in order to do so. You can find another new track over on Soundcloud or the excellent Shadow from 2010’s Past Time here.
Lydia Loveless – Can’t Change Me
Another highlight of SXSW posted on blog after blog was the cowboy-booted Lydia Loveless. From the tracks I’ve dipped into she is a fresh and needed break to hazy surf and pop that I’m starting to tire of and doze off to.
Laura Marling – Salinas
If Laura Marling’s most recent album passed you by last year I would highly recommend it. This track in particular shows some really nice vocal developments. She seems to be pulling out a Dylan-esque recitative quite frequently. Lyrically, Salinas is all familial, traditional and identity themed. The scoring is lush; a richer Dear Prudence with a unrelenting banjo firmly planted to let you know that this is folk
Gillian Welch – Scarlet Town
The Harrow and The Harvest topped my end of year album list. Gillian Welch is the mistress of unsettling lyrics. I’m talking about women for this blog but this track would be nothing without Dave Rawlings insane guitar playing. Yes, I definitely want to be either Janet Weiss or Dave Rawlings.
Neko Case – Nothing To Remember
My stalking of Neko Case on Twitter alerted me to her involvement with The Hunger Games movie album tie in. I believe that only The Arcade Fire track appears at the end credits of the movie, the remaining songs must be those ‘from District 12 and beyond’ as per the soundtrack’s explanatory title. I am quite grateful for these ‘inspired by…’ numbers. Any new Neko Case material is a blessing. This was penned as Neko worked through writer’s block. This is what she considers to be a weak offering. If that’s not encouragement enough to go and seek out her material then let me try something else: GO AND LISTEN TO FURNACE ROOM LULLABY! Convinced? Good.
Here’s our irregular guide to what we’d go to if money were no object this week. Except of course that September appears to be ‘spend plenty money on gig month’ and I’m actually heading out to a gig this week, and next, and then a couple the week after… Tuesday (7th Sept) It appears Tuesday is the night this week that will drag me out of the house as me and Kim are off to the Oran Mor to see The New Pornographers. We are both pretty big fans of Neko ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR CS6 Case’s solo stuff so as well as an appearance from her I’m quite looking forward to seeing the band. My knowledge of TNP is patchy but I did really like the first half of their most recent album. It got a bit weird on Side B. Also… Emily Jane White/Julia and The Doogans at 13th Note – £6 – We don’t know much about Ms White but the 13th Note’s website describes her as folk/blues/gothic, which appeals. We do however know that we love Julia, and her Doogans. Wednesday (8th September) The completely mental but brilliant Super Adventure Club are playing at Bloc. Nuff said. Also, if you have some pennies saved up or are feeling a little flush, go and see the lovely Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan at the ABC. Thursday (9th September) There’s a pretty sweet looking gig over at the 13th Note again featuring some our previous guests at Elba. Kochka, Blue Sky Archives, Campfires In Winter and Jonathan Sebastian Knight set things rocking from 8pm. You can win a pair of tickets over at Aye Tunes. Friday (10th September) Upbeat popsters Kid Canaveral kick off the weekend with an appearance at The Captains Rest whilst in a secret location somewhere in Glasgow, there’s a nice wee line up including two of the most technically brilliant musicians we’ve had at Elba, RM Hubbert and Finn Lemarinel, along with noiserv and Esperi. You can get tickets here and find out the location of said secret hideout. Saturday (11th September) Well, you could just stay in today. There was plenty to do Tuesday to Friday!!!!