Tagged: rob st.john

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

I Made You A Mixtape…Twelve

As a fortnightly mixtape, we’ve found ourselves getting rather giddy days before we actually publish this post, and it’s because we’re so eager to share it. Isn’t that the point of a mixtape after all? Over the past few weeks we’ve been once again immersing ourselves in the latest sounds to come our way as we prepare for the weekend of gigging which is actually, already underway. Miaoux Miaoux last night, Pixies tonight and Shellac tomorrow, but for now, here’s our latest mix.

Book Group – Victory Lap

Phil: Gerry Loves Records have been quite a launchpad for artists over the last few years and I’d expect their latest release, a double A side from Edinburgh based Book Group, to lead on to bigger things for the band. The release comprises of two catchy as you like indie pop tunes which truth being told, I struggled to choose between for this mixtape. I’ve plumped with opener, and live favourite, Victory Lap, a rousing slacker-ish rock track which has had me humming the chorus in my head since I set my ears on it. The AA side is released on Nov 25th and they play a couple of launch shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh next week, details here.

Frightened Rabbit – The Modern Leper []

Phil: I mentioned the gigs which we are headed to this weekend. Last weekend however, there were a plethora of ‘epic rawk n roll’ shows going on in Glasgow, very few of which had tickled our fancy. However, I couldn’t help but have pangs of  jealousy as I saw the tweets come in about the Frightened Rabbit gig at the Academy. I would have dearly loved to have been there and seen them open with Holy, before moving on to this one, The Modern Leper, from 2008’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’.

The Nightingales – The Book of Right On [DOWNLOAD]

Kim: Last week something marvellous happened. The Nightingales, who I like to think of as the band who just keep coming back for more, made a song available for free download. The track they decided to gift to all was a cover of Joanna Newsom’s The Book of Right-On. What has been delivered is, I think, a really interesting study into how songs are perceived. I’m a huge fan of Newsom and I’ve had many conversations over whether her music is accessible and with how difficult people find her song-structure. In this rendition, there is so little melodic deviation from the original track and yet it feels like a song that’s too straightforward for The Nightingales. The lower register of the harp is used as a rooting bass line for this playful incarnation and the verses are so charming with the little percussive flares. Grab this one here and give the two a play, side by side.

Woven Tents – Kids In The Park []

Phil: Woven Tents are a band I know very little about but they provide one of the many excellent tracks which make up Dirty Beard Monthly’s first compilation. ‘Kids In The Park’ is a fuzzy psychadelic trip through jazz and rock and is the ideal buffer for the tracks which follow on the compilation, which you can download, for free! This track is taken from the recently released ‘Leave Your Monsters At Home‘ EP.

Water of Life – Liquid City/The Shellycoat []

Phil: Water of Life is a collaboration between musician Rob St.John and artist Tommy Perman (ex-FOUND) and is probably one of the most fascinating projects I’ve seen. The tracks were inspired and made by exploring the natural and unnatural water flows throughout Edinburgh. I can’t quite do the project justice here, but really, go, look, enjoy, wonder and immerse yourself in the website they’ve put together. There’s field recordings, some fantastic photography and words about their expeditions and I’ve already lost a fair few evenings getting lost in it all. Oh, and there’s a sound map. I.am.in.heaven.

‘Water of Life’ is released on December 9th as a Ltd Ed 7″ folio, including a 7″, essays and prints as well as a digital download of the tracks.

Miaoux Miaoux – Stop The Clocks []

Kim: This month the ListLive event in Stereo, which Elba are this very day recovering from, provided their platform to Chemikal Underground dance darling Miaoux Miaoux. Julian Corrie’s dreamy indie-electro music arrived last year on debut album Light of the North, which very deservedly made its way onto the Scottish Album of the Year longlist. Stop The Clocks is a song that pulls back from his playful electro-pop into something more emotional. As set closer it really cemented itself as a pivotal number. It opens on ringing fingerpicked electric guitar and a muted beat.  Julian’s voice is soft and pure here but his little percussive breaths break in and let you know that this song is not what you thought it was going to be.  When the synth appears it causes a great swell of breath to the lungs. This track is not overcomplicated in scoring. It does what it needs to. When the instrumental breaks it is time to dance, all the way to the crescendo and then through it, into the light.

Jo Mango – When We Lived in the Crook of a Tree []

Kim: Female artists telling grand stories are a great weakness of mine. Jo Mango’s upcoming EP When We Lived in the Crook of a Tree is a delicate weave of tales; threading myth, the mystical and the grim(m). After an early morning listen, I marked it as this year’s whimsical winter music. There will be nothing better than navigating icy paths to these sparkling tracks. The scoring on this title track is sparse to begin with and her voice is so fragile that you are left feeling vulnerable. The chorus is a pain-stricken mourning of the loss of a home and hideaway. By the time the sound fleshes out, you may very well be reduced to tears. When We Lived in the Crook of a Tree is being released by the lovely people over at Olive Grove Records on the 2nd December and Jo Mango plays The Glad Cafe on 14th December. She will also be appearing on the delectable Olive Grove label showcase in the Oran Mor on the 26th January as part of Celtic Connections.

Casual Sex – Soft School

Kim: Up and coming Casual Sex are back on home soil after a long and hard spell on the road supporting Franz Ferdinand. The Bastard Beat EP launch is tonight in Nice N Sleazy with support from noise monsters Halfrican and dirty synth duo Ubre Blanca. I’m a little bit obsessed with the Ubre track Taxed. It would be the perfect score to Snake Plissken’s Escape From Glasgow. I don’t think Kurt Russell would make it out alive. Picking a track of the headliner for this mix was a fucking good job to do. Casual Sex have amassed a tight little package of heavy surf-rock. There’s no wistfulness here, just jaggy 80s rock fitting for the titular act. Soft School was the b-side on the Stroh 80 single released earlier this year. Did I miss any innuendo?

Shellac – Canada

Kim: This weekend, Phil and myself have both opted for all out nostalgia with our gig choices. Where Phil will be listening to the sounds of Black Francis and his merry men (literally as, alas, there will be no Kim Deal – a deal breaker, personally), I will be off to SWG3 to be ear bashed by Shellac [of North America].  Shellac seem to illicit mad cackles from me. Their minimalist rock is unrelenting and it instills a craziness in my mood. Canada fits into what has become the place on the song list for my indulgent track. This is the track that will make no sense anywhere else on the mix so it gets jammed on at the end BECAUSE I LOVE IT and it just MUST be on the mix! I can think of only one other artist who might surpass the closing artists on these last three mixtapes for all out gushing. I wonder if I will find some tenuous reason to work them into a future mixtape. Watch this space.

I Made You A Mixtape…Twelve by Elbasessions on Mixcloud

The Pale Imitation Festival

If it wasn’t enough that we’d provided you with some decent looking festivals to check out this summer and that we weren’t already creating a list of the best jugglers, statues and street magicians for you to go and hurl coppers at in Edinburgh this August, then we’re completely spoiling you by telling you about The Pale Imitation Festival, also taking place in Edinburgh between the 1st and 31st of August.

Pale_Imitation_Digiflyer

Click above image to enlarge/see more clearly

The phrase ‘stellar line-up’ doesn’t even come close to describing the excellent bit of programming put together by Back Garden Promotions (or Matthew from Song, By Toad, Bart from Eagleowl, Neil from Meursault and Rob St.John). The festival will take place on selected dates throughout the month of August at Henry’s Cellar Bar and all the gigs cost a fiver to get in apart from the Malcolm Middleton, Ian Humberstone and Now Wakes The Sea gig, which is £7. Alternatively, you could just buy a season ticket for £25 and be done with it. I mean, you’ll struggle to find anything better to do in August.

Normally, I’d list a couple of the standouts in the line-up but I’d feel bad, because I’d be omitting so much* so it’s probably best that you get the run down from Song, By Toad who published this handy guide to each artist over on his blog.

Season and individual tickets can be bought over here.

* we totally think you should go and see Jonnie Common, FOUND, Plastic Animals, Deathcats, Siobhan Wilson, Sparrow & The Workshop, RM Hubbert, The Leg, Malcolm Middleton, Now Wakes The Sea, Rob St.John and Eagleowl though…

I Made You A Mixtape…Six

So far in this mixtape series, I have kind of steered clear of having any sort of theme on the mixtapes. This week however, is somewhat of an exception. The Scottish Album of the Year award was

launched this week and it immediately got me thinking of which Scottish album from 2011 would I want to win the award. I know people sometimes are quite quick to judge awards ceremonies and awards, particularly in Scotland, but this seems to be organised rather well and the prizes on offer are absolutely terrific. We have a huge amount of enthusiasm for the national music scene in Scotland and it’s great to see an award promising inclusion and most importantly, a celebration of Scottish music.

This weeks mixtape contains some tracks from a few of the albums which I really enjoyed in 2011. I say ‘enjoyed’ because I’m fully aware that some may not technically be the best albums but at the end of the day when I want something to listen to, I want it to be an enjoyable experience, and these albums gave me just that.

Also, I’m not 100% on criteria but there’s certainly a Scottish related element to all of the tracks included here. I’ve also tacked 3 or 4 songs on the end which do not fall into the category of Scottish Albums of 2011, but this is a mixtape, and I wanted them here!

Rob St.John – Your Phantom Limb from the album ‘Weald’

Kicking off controversially with one that I’m not sure is eligible, however, this album was released on an Edinburgh label (Song, By Toad) and Rob is a big part of the Edinburgh music scene, despite his roots being firmy south of the border. This album really knocked me for six. A really beautiful album and this track in particular was the first track I heard when released as a split 7″. It’s an album I rate very highly and this week in particular, when the snow fell, really set the scene perfectly.

Mike Nisbet – Not Long from the album ‘Vagrant’

Honestly, I should stop now. I’m pretty sure the percentage of posts we’ve written mentioning Mike Nisbet in the last year is topping the 70% mark. The truth is, a year ago when we got a sneak peak of the album, we were immediately smitten. It was one of the best and most heartfelt albums I’d heard in a long time and I was so pleased that late on in the year, people really started picking up on it. It’s not easy to self-release an album and this album really deserves some recognition. Beautiful is the only word…

Jonny – Waiting Around For You from the album ‘Jonny’

Another possibly contentious one. An album written by a Scotsman and a Welshman but really, it’s no ordinary Scotsman, it’s none other than Norman Blake from my favourite Scottish band of all time, Teenage Fanclub. This is a really good fun and upbeat album, well worth a listen if you’re looking for a smile.

The Hazey Janes – Paper Hearts from the album ‘The Winter That Was’

I just mentioned Teenage Fanclub and I put The Hazey Janes in a similar bracket in that if it’s sunny, and I’m looking for something to put a smile on my face, I’ll reach for The Hazey Janes, and they won’t disappoint. I was delighted to hear last year that they were releasing a record on Armellodie records and when released, it was a welcome return to form for a band who were out of the game for something of an enforced sabattical.

Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – The Copper Top from the album ‘Everything’s Getting Older’
This it seemed was a ubiquitous choice amongst Scottish media last year. A beautiful an emotive album of which this, was my stand-out track from the album. The video is also excellent and worth a watch

FOUND – Machine Age Dancing from the album ‘Factorycraft’

This album was released on Chemikal Underground early last year and is an excellently experimental album. They also released a single on Chocolate vinyl, which is always a win.

Le Reno Amps- Cottonmouth Rock from the album ‘Appetite’

Another band that we absolutely adore. Live, they are fairly unbeatable when they are on top of their game and whilst on a ‘break’ at the moment, we have everything crossed that come August, they might make a re-appearance.

This album was described by many as being full of different styles, which it is, but that doesn’t make it less endearing. This track is LRA at their glam inspired, duelling guitar best. As it’s been noticed, they can be a bit like marmite, and yes, we love them.

Strike The Colours – Safety In Numbers

I’ve come to the end of my selection from 2011’s albums and this track is from a band who I believe are due to release new material this year, Strike The Colours. ‘Safety In Numbers’ is from the brilliant ‘The Face That Sunk A Thousand Ships’ EP.

Cancel The Astronauts – The Hardest Thing

CTA are an Edinburgh band who seem to specialise in a ‘really poppy hook’ although, you might not get that from this track. I raved about their ‘Funny For A Girl’ EP a few years ago and they sent me their new single a few years and despite this track being completely different to the first two tracks on the EP, I really love this one! The single is called Intervention and can be found over here.

RM Hubbert – Gus Am Bris An Latha (with John Ferguson)

RM Hubbert’s new album ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ may be in quite a few album of the year polls come the end of 2012 and this track is one of my favourites from said album.

Loch Awe – How It Began

This song was one of my favourites from 2010 and I commented at the time how impressed I was with the EP which was recored in a matter of days. Loch Awe have come a long way since this song and EP, but it’s something I always revisit every now and again.

Rob St.John – Sargasso Sea – Free Download

A few weeks ago we mentioned the Rob St. John and Ian Humberstone split 7″ that recently came out on Song, By Toad Records.

The Rob St. John half of that release also doubled as the first single from his forthcoming album, Weald, which is out this

month. The second single from the album is now out and

in even better news, you can download it for free below.

Enjoy!

Rob St. John – Sargasso Sea by Song, by Toad

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