Music Industry conferences seem to be becoming more of a fixture than previous and it’s good to see that it’s not just the big cities who are holding them. It’s also good to see the quality of the speakers who are travelling to share some advice and words of wisdom.
On March 14/15, Perth will play host to the Words + Music Expo at the Perth Concert Hall and will encompass discussion panels, workshops, practical advice as well as some showcase performances and some special guest appearances.
Amongst the speakers will be Stewart Henderson (Chemikal Underground/SMIA), Rod Jones (Idlewild) and Paul Downie (Comets & Cartwheels). You can view the full programme over on the Words + Music website.
As well as the nitty gritty business stuff during the day, there are a series of showcase gigs on the Friday and Saturday nights. Elba favourites Poor Things play a showcase gig as well as Pinact, Lidh, Randolph’s Leap and the formidable looking Saturday night at Greyfriars bill, headed up by Alasdair Roberts and Siobhan Wilson. They’ve also just announced that RM Hubbert & Emma Pollock will be doing a turn on the Friday!
Each year I look forward to Celtic Connections. Each year I tell friends that the line-up is great. Each year I say I’m going to this that and the next thing. Each year I fail to get my act together sufficiently. Each year I only scratch the surface. Each year I vow that next year, I’ll make more of an effort. So this year, I’m going to put together a handy list of some of the things I’m hoping to go to. The festival starts this Thursday, the 16th of January and if the selections below pique your interest enough there is a feast of gigs over on the festival website.
Fri 17th January – Mull Historical Society @ The Arches
Colin MacIntyre’s Mull Historical Society are a long time favourite and have several songs that I’m personally very fond of. This gig will see the performance of his 2001 debut album ‘Loss’, in full.
Tues 21st January – RM Hubbert w/ Aidan Moffat @ The Mitchell Library
Were we a lads mag, there’s a high chance that Hubby would have been our man of the year in 2013, alas we’re not, therefore he’ll just have to settle for being a good dude. Having followed up his SAY Award winning album ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ with the equally excellent ‘Breaks & Bone’, this will be Hubby’s biggest Glasgow headline show to date. Aided and abetted by the mischevious storytelling of Aidan Moffat, this is a Tuesday night at the library you won’t want to miss.
Sat 25th January – The New Mendicants @ The Arches
Ahead of the release of their debut album, adopted Ontarians Joe Pernice (The Pernice Brothers) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) take to the Celtic Connections stage with new material and one would hope some tracks from their back catalogues. As a big Teenage Fanclub fan, only wild horses will keep me away from this one.
Sun 26th January – Olive Grove Showcase @ Oran Mor
An evening curated by local bloggers turned label bosses, the line up here not only includes a very rare performance by The Moth & The Mirror, but also performances by Elba favourites Randolph’s Leap, Jo Mango, and The State Broadcasters.
Mon 27th January – Bobby Womack @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
I first came across Bobby Womack on an old blaxploitation compilation which included his song ‘Across 110th Street’. In the last few years he’s become more of a household name after a guest slot on the Gorillaz ‘Plastic Beach’ record which has invigorated Womack, now in his 7th Decade in music.
Sat 1st February – Bill Callahan @ O2 ABC
Hands down the sweatiest gig I’ve ever been too was Bill Callahan at Stereo a few years back. Seems an odd statement, of course, there was no wild mosh pit but combine a midsummer date with a room full of jumpers and beards, and you’ll get why the temperature was so high. Heat aside, Callahan was an excellent performer that evening and IS an excellent songwriter, from Smog to his solo records, so it’s unsurprising that so many people I know snapped tickets up for his straight away.
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.
Where we pick one or maybe several things to check out in Edinburgh during the month of August [disclaimer: in the event of tardiness or over-eagerness, don’t be fooled by the headline, it’s today cos we’re picking it today, rather than you should go today]
After a bit of art and comedy we’re back in more familiar waters with today’s pick, which is the excellent looking Edinburgh Night, put on by music industry brain-boxes, Born To Be Wide.
Taking place at Electric Circus, the night has an interesting format with several bands and a plethora of guest DJ’s. The night follows an interesting format of 10 minute live sets every half hour, punctuated by DJ sets from some well-known faces from the local music scene, including Elba pals Nicola Meighan (The List/The Herald) and Lloyd Meredith (Olive Grove Records). The musical line-up ain’t too shabby either with sets from Randolph’s Leap, Gastric Band, past Elba podcastee A.J. Roach and Scotland’s only and probably best Grandaddy tribute band, Grand Laddie (Bart Eagleowl and friends) and several more.
However, possibly the great thing about the gig, well, after the excellent music, is the fact that you can buy a ticket here, right now, for only £3! Even better than that though, is that if you visit their Facebook event page, share it and then post your top 4 Edinburgh tracks on their event page wall, they’ll let you in free. Can’t sniff at that on a Sunday night on the first weekend of the festival!
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.
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.
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…
5. Best Coast – The Other Place
“Summertime in 11 tracks”
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”
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.”
2. Meursault – Something for the Weakened
“I loved Meursault’s first album. I love Meursault’s second album. ‘Settling’ = shivers”
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.”
It’s maybe just me, but this would make an excellent title for a Scooby Doo episode. Excellent name aside, this is a wee gem of a homemade record which has found itself a limited casette release on Peenko Records. And when I say limited, i think there is only 20 or 30 available. For those who are either not lucky enough to grab a tape before they sell out or for those firmly now rooted in the digital age, there will of course also be a download option.
I believe this was predominantly a collection of bedroom recordings made by frontman Adam Ross but the lo-fi almost ramshackle sound of it, coupled with RL’s fairly unique lyrics make this a really endearing listen.
My first encounter with Randolph’s Leap was a few years ago with a song called Cassie O’Tone which I’m pleased to say is included on this album. It still contains some of my favourite lyrics;
I sit here in
the bath and pretend i’m doing the luge
I keep misjudging corners and break my skulll in two
fantasies are failures then what hope has real life got
The album is released on Monday and if you want to try them for yourself you can download Dying In My Sleep over on Randolph’s Leap’s bandcamp page. You can also catch them play in Glasgow tomorrow night (Feb 18th) at the Captains Rest where they will supported by Donna Maciocia and Kith & Kin. There is also possibly another very special guest but we’ve got no idea who that could be.
I was thinking yesterday, it’s about time that we probably wrote about some music on here rather than just put up nice photos. A quick word on the photos though, in case you were wondering. There’s no big explanation for them, the thing is, we like taking photos (we’re learning how to be better at doing it) and the blog is a bit of a hobby for myself, Chris and Kim so we thought we’d try and incorporate a few photos that we feel represent us or where we are. It’s doubly (is that a word?) cool for us just now though, cos’ Chris is away seeing Europe and North America and it gives us an excuse to follow his progress. We’re hoping he picks up some good music on the way too, just so his trip isn’t a complete waste of time…
So, to business, or to a good gig and pretty poster…
Sometimes if I hear about a band, where they’re from and find out what label they are on, I’m more likely to prick up my ears and take interest, not always mind but sometimes. Anyway, so I
keep hearing the name The Shivers and think, they sound like they’re from Brooklyn or Queens or something (which they are, Queens to be exact), there’s a chance I’ll like them, then when I hear about them again, it’s in a totally different context, The Shivers have signed to Fence Records. Now, I know that i like the sound of a band called The Shivers from Queens and I know I definitely like the output of Fence Records so I figure this is going to be good. And it is…
They are playing a pile of dates around the UK and more closer to Elba’s home they will be playing a gig run by our pal Peenko at Mono in Glasgow on November the 7th (pretty poster above). Support will come in the familiar form of Randolph’s Leap and less familiar to me, but becoming ever more familiar Where We Lay Our Heads. Tickets are £5.
Randolph’s Leap, after selling out their first EP ‘Battleships & Kettle Chips’, have now released a double A-side single titled ‘Counting Sheep’. It came out today on Olive Grove Records and can be bought from the usual download outlets, links are at the bottom of the page.
To go along with the single release they are having a wee party to celebrate at Mono tomorrow night (17th May). Joining them on the bill are Burnt Island and the brilliant
Moth & The Mirror. I had just been thinking recently that I hadn’t seen the Moth & The Mirror’s name about recently so it was good to see them on the lineup!!
So, the weekend is once again upon us and we’ve decided here at Elba that it’s a weekend worthy frittering away the few remaining pennies that we carry in our pockets, before an eagerly anticipated payday!
This year’s Glasgow Film Festival launched last night and there is loads to get your teeth into over the next few weeks (see Kim’s preview here). A quick glance around Elba’s schedules shows that the Film & Music festival will be keeping us entertained over the next few weeks but you should check out the full programme as there are a few gems in there. This weekends showings of Faust/Alex Smoke, Howl and the aural assault of 65days of static appear to be highlights you might want to check out.
Tonight sees the return for a second month of the Barmellodie night at Bloc in Glasgow. We had a hoot last month spinning some tunes after great sets by Battery Face, The Douglas Firs and Le Reno Amps. Highlights included Kim getting a high five for playing Sonic Youth and Pavement ‘filling’ the dancefloor! Tonight’s music comes from The Scottish Enlightenment, Randolph’s Leap and Thirty Pounds of Bone who we won’t stop urging you to check out. He really is that blody good! Post band entertainment is provided by the Podcart DJ’s.
Enjoy your weekend whatever you may do and feel free to add any other things people should check out in the comments below!!