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
It’s been a busy old week for us. A couple of gigs, a couple of good new releases and quite a few drinks mixed in. As I write this, I feel that I’m treading a fine line between acceptable writing and potentially pissing off Sufjan (and he’s the last guy we want to upset), with our poor use of multiple tenses.
You see, I’ve already referred to Elba Sessions as we and also written I, so is this a one man blog masquerading as a we? No. There are three of us, and we contribute with varied regularity, so we feel okay about the use of we, I, us, them etc… We are often one, regularly two, but vary rarely three, however, over the past week we all managed to get in the same room together, and on that morning commute the day after, we remembered one of the reasons this happens with decreasing regularity! And the reason I bring all this up, is because this is a mixtape, a personal thing, made by one to give to another and the joy of us being a collective and also one being, is that we’ve made you a mixtape but you get the eclecticism of our musical tastes, which like a good venn diagram, overlaps.
And for the record this mixtape that I write of is put together by two, and we hope you love it…
Kim: When Honeyblood were snapped up by Fat Cat records, the song that enamoured us with them so, ‘Super Rat’, was swiftly taken down from their Soundcloud. However, we have been gifted with a beautiful little 7″ single that has lessened this blow almost entirely. Bittersweet ‘Bud’ was released this week and comes on a fitting pink vinyl. This song would be breaking my heart if I weren’t so fascinated with how Stina pronounces bud. Booooouuuud. Honeyblood play Broadcast on the 29th October.
Veronica Falls – My Heart Beats
Kim: Last Sunday ‘The Elba We’ found ourselves stood atop the benches in the basement furnace of Broadcast, swaying to Veronica Falls. This was definitely a different vibe to our last encounter with the band in the CCA. That was a decidedly rapt crowd; still and silent for the show. My pick of audience members this time around was the fellow giving the thumbs up to the bassist for the full show and yelling, thankfully between songs, “enjoy yourself!”
‘My Heart Beats’ from second album Waiting For Something To Happen brought a lot of energy and felt fitting for this mixtape. Single ‘Broken Toy’ was released on Monday and a limited edition 7″ of new song ‘Nobody There’ is down to the last copies. So, buy now or never.
Saint Max & The Fanatics – Conduit
Phil: I must admit, I’ve been excited about this album for quite sometime now. I’m guessing it’s about a year and a half since I first set ears on Max and I was hooked nearly straight away. I find quite often when picking an album track that I end up describing it as ‘the stand out track’, but not here. No, this album is packed full of absolute gems, every one an aural treat. There are horns, there are choppy guitars, there are clever lyrics, the arrangements are great and most of all, it was definitely worth the wait.
Los Campesinos! – What Death Leaves Behind
Phil: There is sometimes a bit of trepidation, I think, when a band releases a couple of albums, each one following a similar formula. You begin to worry a bit. I mean, when is that reggae phase going to kick in? You’ve enjoyed the first three albums because they were what first attracted you to the band, they retained familiarity, but with the news that a new album is due to be released, the fear sets in, surely this is when they decide they need to diversify to develop as a band? I’m thankful that with the new Los Campesinos! album, released next week, that there are no such worries. It’s an album that you feel comfortable with, it sounds exactly like a new LC! album should and long may they keep releasing them. They are an utter joy to listen to.
What Death Leaves Behind comes from the new album, No Blues, out next week
Naked – Lie Follows Lie
Phil: For the past couple of weeks The Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh has been staging ‘The Pleasance Sessions’, a collection of gigs curated by labels, promoters and other such organisations. This Saturday sees Edinburgh label Song, By Toad stage a label showcase with, well, quite a large amount of their roster playing, including this band, Naked. A three-piece, their music is eerie, hypnotic and totally uplifting. Naked are a bit different to what the label had been releasing so when ‘Lie Follows Lie was released, it somewhat grabbed my attention.
Lily & Madeline – In The Middle
Phil: Female vocalists eh? We seem drawn to them here at Elba. Case, Rose, Marshall, Marling. The list could, quite literally, go on. Lily & Madeline are signed to the continually superb Asthmatic Kitty Records and this track is from The Weight Of The Globe EP released earlier this year. The great news is that a long player comes out later this month. This is dreamy, shimmering and completely gorgeous.
Juana Molina – Sin Guia, No
Kim: This cyclical and hypnotic number from Juana Molina is taken from her sixth studio album Wed 21; due for release on the other side of this weekend. NPR have the album available to stream in advance right now and I highly recommend a listen. I find the distance of not knowing the lyrical content quite liberating, leaving me to enjoy the texture of sounds that she builds. This is all Juana. Voice, words, playing and production. If you like this, wait until you hear Eras!
Roman Nose – Bra-In-I-Ak
Kim: Let me set the scene: On a rainy Glasgow evening, Elba came together in a pungent dungeon, masked, high on the newly printed fabric over our faces and syrupy cider settling in our bellies. Roman Nose, appearing as part of the List Live series, were the pied pipers with their mass of serial dancers. The anonymity of the masked crowd (the cloth being bestowed on entrance) would be quite terrifying to an outsider but once you were one of them, all there was to do was bounce around to the hyper noise of the act. This track, taken from new EP Long Live the Revolver! is a wondrous piece of Space-Pop that shows the range of the noise bearers.
Factory Floor – Real Love (Optimo Remix)
Kim: In 2011 Factory Floor released a relentless synth and noise disco track called Real Love. It is something. Then Optimo took the song, slowed it down and started adding sounds that seem to pay respect to the literal name of the owners. It’s all pneumatic sounds, buzzing, sawing and thwacks. I picked up this 12″ at the Indie Label Market on its stop in the Barras Art & Design Centre, which was full of friendly faces and cake(!). I then played this mix innumerable times until 7am the following morning. That day spiralled somewhat out of control for me. I blame the excitement of cake, beer and records.
We’ve been under attack lately, some wee hacker type of thing invaded and tried to sell you all muscle enhancers and viagra. However, after some poking, prodding, umming and ah-ing we realised we weren’t cut out to sort it so we asked our friend Alan to fix it, and fix it he did, we think…Oh, and there was swearing too, lots of swearing, which brings me on nicely, to Beer vs Records.
*note: I love the whole idea of this. It is right up my strasse
Beer vs Records is a unique project from the ever excellent (and sometimes sweary) Song, By Toad Records and Barney’s Microbrewery in Edinburgh. The basic premise is that a 12″ of 8 tracks will be released on special edition clear red vinyl and will simultaneously be put head to head against a 4 pack of Barney’s Beer with each bottle containing a download code for two tracks. You get the same amount of music either way but what side do you fall on? Would you rather have a record you can touch and keep forever, or would you prefer to knock back a bottle of Magic Eye Red Rye and listen to the mp3’s of the tracks? I suspect that many will embrace both.
Le Thug Lager 4.8% ABV – Light straw coloured, smooth and a light fruity zing. A clean, dry, finish. Zed Penguin Pale Ale 3.8% ABV – Gold coloured, a good honest full-bodied pale ale with a subtle citrus & spicy hop finish. Magic Eye Red Rye 4.5% ABV – made with 2 types of rye malt & German melanoidinmalz. Copper/dark amber colour, with a crisp, toffee apple & fruity taste. Plastic Animals IPA 5% ABV – Light straw coloured, assertive bitterness, erupting with US style hop character.
We have first hand experience of the pedigree of both the label and the brewer here at Elba. We’ve raved many a time about a release on Song, By Toad and take our word for it, our better half’s have raved at us after a few too many Barney’s.
Beer vs Records will launch on Record Store Day (20th April).
Also, whilst we’re mentioning them, Song, By Toad will release the excellent new album ‘Murderopolis’ by Sparrow and the Workshop in May. You can pre-order it here.
Not forgetting about Barney’s, they
will be hosting Summer(Beer)hall on May 24th and 25th which will include brewery tours, music, bratwurst and pretty much anything you could want from an afternoon or evening enjoying some excellent craft beers. There’s much more info, and details of how to buy tickets here
Today’s track comes from Glasgow-based Yusuf Azak. We’ve long been fans of Yusuf, from his
self released free EP’s, to his debut long player ‘Turn On The Long Wire’ (Song, By Toad Records), we were delighted to hear that
he would be releasing a free EP this year called Prizefighter. Swim is track two on said EP and I believe at the time I said that the track was making me melt. It really is that lovely. You can download the whole EP on Yusuf’s bandcamp page and hear Swim for yourself, below.
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
There’s a couple of labels who when they release a new record i’ve always got a pretty good idea that before I’ve even heard it, I’m probably going to dig it. Song, By Toad Records definitely fit into this category, ever since they got me hooked with Meursault’s All Creatures Will Make Merry, there’s always been some anticipation whenever an email from SBT announcing a forthcoming release finds it’s way to my inbox. This is further backed up by my social networking declaration earlier in the year that King Post Kitch’s ‘Don’t Touch My Fucking Honeytone’ was a “bona-fide beezer!”
One of the latest releases on Song, By Toad Records is from Florida (yeah, Florida, in America, the land of the free, a long way from Leith) natives Lil’
Daggers, a move incidentally I think is to be applauded. Why in this digital age must we stick to releasing records by bands from our neighbourhood? The world’s a big, big place!
The simple facts are, this is a great EP. Lo-Fi in an ever so slightly polished way, catchy and there’s something about it which I can’t quite put my finger on, but it whispers some similarities to The Strokes first record. There’s also some hammond floating through the songs which gives it a bit of a psychadelic feel, maybe more California than the Florida Coast but it evokes a bit of sunshine either way so I guess that fits. It’s probably also why I like it so much.
…are just some of the novelty ways which bands have decided to release their new records over the last couple of months. I’m not sure if anyone has told their label bosses that
there’s a dodgy economic climate but fair play to them for injecting some fun into the whole event of releasing a record.
First up we have the now famed 7″ Chocolate Vinyl release from FOUND. There were only 50 copies of this up for grabs so I suspect not many of our readers own one but with the medium of youtube, you can watch Edinburgh band Eagleowl listen to and then eat the record here. I suspect the remaining 49 have gone the same way and been melted down for hot chocolate or something.
Keeping the theme with the edibles is the rather swish looking clear vinyl package from Japanese War Effort. The EP, Surrender to Summer which is out on Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad Records comes equipped with a bag of those lovely sweets that you see on the front cover. You can pick up a copy of the record here, it’s limited to 250 i think.
Rounding up this post on novelty releases is Glasgow’s Mitchell Museum who recently released their new single on a 16-note keyboard. The download code for said single is hidden inside the keyboard so you can either systematically dismantle the keyboard to preserve it or if you feel like smashing the living daylights out of it, get yourself a mallet from the shed, both methods are recommended on the Mitchell Museum website. There’s still a couple of them left here for a fiver.
The title says it all really, or maybe it doesn’t actually. If you scroll your mouse down you will see that the last time we posted,
it was still the month of March, and there was over a week left of that month. It’s not the case that we’ve been up to nothing mind you, life gets busy and sadly the things you love get pushed to the side a little bit. After all, it’s more important to be able to put sneakers on your kids’ feet right?!
When I say drought we’re talking strictly in a writing sense, getting the words into my keyboard so that they appear in wordpress and end up on the Elba blog. You see, this is a time issue, pure and simple. It’s not because there is a lack of things to write about, if I could pay myself a lovely salary I’d do it all day but needs must and off to work I go each day.
So here I am, finding time in my complete lack of time, to moan about not having the time to write. Kind of ironic, maybe I’ve just wasted a precious 200 words that could have been better spent giving a lot more attention to some of the things I’m sure I’ll go on to mention.
As I have said, there’s no lack at all of good things to write about. I’ve found an abundance of new things to listen to recently and I’ve also filled in a few gaps with old albums I’ve not ever had the chance or even inclination to listen to at the time. I found that I’m really liking the lo-fi/west coast (USA) type bands at the moment, y’know some of the bands who sounded like the kind of band my brother listened to in the early to mid nineties. Smith Westerns, Ringo Deathstarr, Girls (okay so this ones not just out but I’ve been listening to it for the last year), Lower Dens and have I rekindled my interest with Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Best Coast in anticipation of the former’s new album and latter’s gig at The Arches on the 27th of this month.
Talking of things I’m liking at the moment, I’ve received a couple of really great records in my emails recently that I really must mention.
The first EP in question here is The Whittling EP from Andrew Lindsay and The Coat Hooks. Chock full of jangly guitars and sing-a-long melodies it’s been the perfect listen for me on my way to the office in the morning. The Coat Hooks include, amongst others, Shambles Miller and Matthew of Elba favourites Loch Awe. If you fancy giving it a go, you can head over to their bandcamp where you can purchase either a digital copy of the album for £3 or a nicer wee package including badges, a note and some demos for a couple of quid more.
Knowing of my slight penchant for their music, Johnny Reb have sent me over their first album, or ‘debut exertions’ as they have put it. It was recorded in Portugal with Boz Boorer, him being Morrisey’s guitarist and that, and it will be released through their Bandcamp on April 18th. It really is rather excellent.
Also, if you’ve not yet picked up the Song, By Toad label sampler yet, you really should. It can be downloaded for free over here. My personal favourite is the Lach track. I’m looking forward to hearing that album when it comes out in July.
I’ve not just been hiding away listening to records though, I’ve been to a couple of cracking gigs by Deerhunter and Josh T.Pearson (Skinny Review Here) in the last couple of weeks and rather looking forward to seeing Marina Celeste and Best Coast over the next weeks.
Also coming up on the 21st this month, three days after the official release date, is the Le Reno Amps album launch at The Captain’s Rest. Not only are LRA playing, obviously, it’s a monstrous line-up completed by The Douglas Firs, Super Adventure Club and Galoshins. It will be awesomes!!!! You can stream or buy the album over here!
Anyways, we’ll be back again shortly with more stuff, hopefully in a more timeous manner giving a bit more focus to stuff.
We’ve had a couple of good nights with Yusuf at Elba this year, including an appearance at our birthday gig in October, and felt it was only right to include him in our Elba Annual for 2010. He released his debut album ‘Turn on The Long Wire‘ on Song, By Toad Records a couple of weeks ago and it’s an absolute gem. He’s also appearing live in session with Vic Galloway on the old wireless tonight (15th December).
I mentioned the other day that Matthew from Loch Awe was the fastest respondent in music. We’ll stick Yusuf at the other end of that scale, but it’s worth the wait!
Album Of The Year –‘Dark Night Of The Soul’ – Dangermouse and Sparklehorse. I had already listened to this loads before its official release. There’s some stunning songs on here, ‘star eyes’ stands out for me. Also, ‘Have One On Me’ – Joanna Newsom
Best Gig (Band) –I supported Lou Barlow at Stereo in Febuary and the crowd was excellent. Also Lou gave me permission to dive into his Budvars and camembert.
Best Gig (Other) –The Versus night at the Voodoo room, Edinburgh with Japanese War Effort, Dupec & Miaoux Miaoux. what happens here is the bands cover each others songs and collobarate at different points. along with some other guest slots, what you get is a night of continuous music with almost each song having a different line-up. with the acts being excellent, this was a really fresh approach to putting on a gig and made it very enjoyable.
Meursault’s Glasgow launch was superb. i seen then a couple of years ago at the flying duck with only a few people in the crowd, to see the Captains Rest packed out was very pleasing, and for me it was almost like a celebratory atmosphere. it was my first exposure to their full line-up including cello and the sound was huge.
Favourite New Bands –The Japanese War Effort. Great songs and prolific. I suggest you get the EP and mini album he has made available free to dowload from his Bandcamp Page here http://thejapanesewareffort.bandcamp.com/
I was also on the bill with Inspector Tapehead last week who played a great set.
Musical Memories of 2010 –The entrance music of the snooker players at the world masters. Mark King had ‘You Can Do It By (Put Your Back Into It)’ by Ice Cube. Marcu Fu had ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by Black Eyed Peas and Jimmy White had a Dire Straits song of some description. Biggest disappointment was Ronnie O’Sullivan walking on to a tune by The Hours. Ronnie we know you’re a genius but sort it out.
Hopes/Plans for 2011 –To get my new album ready pronto. Other than that; get back into the dating game and ease off on the dairy.
You can visit Yusuf here on his myspace page and get your hands on a copy of his album through Song, By Toad here.