Tagged: Paul Buchanan

Elba Annual 2013 – Jo Mango

This December, this very day, we bring you the return of the Elba Annual! For this first annual post of 2013, we were very lucky to get some insight from Jo Mango. Jo’s career is something of wonder consisting of a great collection of material alongside regular collaboration work, including a recurring presence in the band of modern folk heroine Vashti Bunyan. Her beautiful EP When We Lived in the Crook of a Tree is released today on Olive Grove Records and we featured the title track on our most recent mixtape. I recommend this EP most highly. It has a storytelling quality that immerses you completely in the song; the vocals, lyrics, scoring and production all contribute to this. It’s a succinct little listen that is as close to perfection as you can get. Jo’s account of 2013, much like her songwriting, is very compelling. There’s also a little bit of news regarding what’s to come in 2014. Did I say little? I meant huge. A huge bit of news!

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Album of the Year

White Lighter – Typhoon.

I’m probably doing that classic thing here that big groups of people voting on best albums of the year always do, which is picking the most recent! But I think I’m mostly picking this album because of the experience that went along with it. Sometimes, as the years go by, you begin to feel like the magic and the energy of really being a crazy fight-to-the-death spend-your-last-pound suffer-the-post-gig-blues-for-a-month fan of music can wane a wee bit. Or it seems like it was a long time since you last heard an album that spun you round with how much you’d never heard anything like it before. So when you have a special moment with an album, it becomes a bit more precious. I really love the songwriting of Typhoon. I listened over and over again to their previous EPs etc. (the lyric writing in a song like “Sickness Unto Death is just amazing). So I was really waiting for their new album to come out. When it did, I made myself wait, like a little kid, until the CD from their Bandcamp arrived through the post from America. The day that it did, I took a really long bus journey with my headphones on and listened to it through twice on my headphones, in my own little world. It was like drinking a long cold drink just to sit and listen. I’ll admit I hadn’t done that in a long time. And the sun was a low winter sun that made wonderful patterns on the windows as a tiny moth walked back and forth across it while I listened. I nodded my head as they sang: “I will try to hold it, I will try to keep the moment, like a photograph of the sunset, like a little kid with a bug net, like a dying man, I swear.”

Song of the Year

Frightened Rabbit – Nitrous Gas

I really hate picking favourite songs. Eeek. I think it’s just impossible. There are too many of them! And they all serve a different purpose for a different time in your life, don’t they? However, if I have to choose, then I thought I should probably choose a song that compelled me to put it on repeat, that I could listen to tens of times in a row and still enjoy. Well… I use the word ‘enjoy’ loosely! Because this is such a sad sad song. But there’s something just so compelling about ‘Nitrous Gas’ by Frightened Rabbit. Those low voices, and the vocal harmonies are beautiful. The chord choices are perfect. It’s transfixing.

Best Gig You Played

Oh, the best gig has to be one of the shows we did in Japan. The engagement of the crowds with the music on that tour was extraordinary – it was such active listening that it felt like the music was being pulled from us. All the shows were brilliant, especially the night we played for Pastel Records in Osaka and one at the gorgeous Hi Fi Cafe in Kyoto (where Paul Buchanan was playing on the stereo when we first visited). But I think the stand-out show was out in the countryside in Ukiha – a really small town surrounded by fruit tree orchards and rice fields. Water/Wood Records and the band AutumnLeaf along with their family and friends put on the show, which was held in an old Japanese Medicine Museum. Apart from the giant bugs that fell from the wooden ceiling onto the stage while we performed (it was so quiet that you could REALLY hear a bug drop… ugh!), it was a perfect night. After the show we all sat down to a massive plate of sushi and fried lotus root, and communicated somehow in broken English/Japanese and laughed through the early hours. We slept on the floor in a hundred year old Japanese house with wood carved screen panels, Shinto shrines in the corner, and no bath (because we use the hot springs from the mountains). Altogether beautiful really!

Best Gig You Saw

I really did NOT go to enough gigs this year. But stand out shows have to be the set that Japanese band “Alps” (maarupus) did at our Kyoto show. Their music is so unbelievably delicate and quiet, and they have no idea how talented they are! I tried to record them on video on my iPhone, but you can’t hear them, because they were too quiet even for the microphone to pick up! The other one that sticks out in my mind was a two-piece version of Prehistoric Friends, with Casio keyboard and Viola. What a genius combination that is. And the show (at the Old Hairdressers) was for a homelessness charity too.

Any Musical Thoughts to share on the Year 2013

2013 was a year I tried to collaborate more, to let go and say yes to things, to give things a go. So I think the results of that when they come out in 2014 will be my vocals or contributions cropping up in lots of different places. I’m looking forward to that.

What does 2014 Have In Store for You

Ok… I’m going to say it out loud, put it out there, and therefore it has to be true. A NEW ALBUM!!! I really need to pull my socks up and get faster at writing albums. 6 years between albums is not acceptable! (Maybe playing in Vashti Bunyan’s band, something rubbed off on me, I don’t know). So we’ve got three songs at least ready to be recorded. And the ideas are coming. I’m thinking this album is going to be more of a pick-me-up. I need to write songs to cheer me (after listening to Nitrous Gas on repeat, obviously!!), so that’s what I’m aiming for. I also hear that Vashti is in the studio at the moment, so I’m hoping that she might have me back to play some shows with her if she takes that back out on the road in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy the EP (and potentially a remix album/EP too).

Jo Mango plays The Glad Cafe on 14th December with Call To Mind and Behold, the Old Bear. Tickets are available here.

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!