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?) I 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
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.
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, but maybe you should go today…]
Today is a good day to be a music lover in Edinburgh, maybe less so if you are a promoter. We’ve found four gigs, each, one we’re desperate to be at, all taking place in our capital city tonight.
Kid Canaveral have released one of my favourite albums of the year so far and they play their biggest headline show to date in Edinburgh at The Liquid Rooms, ably supported by Edinburgh stalwarts, Ballboy and the excellent Campfires in Winter. Doors for this one are at 7pm, with Campfires in Winter on shortly afterwards.
Next up, at the Queens Hall this time is Withered Hand’s festival show featuring a pretty tasty line up of King Creosote, Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines) and the Second Hand Marching Band. A couple of tickets are still left online for this one here.
Not much needs to be said on these pages about how good we think the line-up for the Pale Imitation Festival at Henry’s is, and tonight is probably our pick of it’s run of shows with a line-up of Sparrow & The Workshop, Siobhan Wilson and The Rosy Crucifixion. This one starts at 7:00 and tickets can still be had for it.
Last but by no means least, and Elba’s destination for the evening, takes us to the Electric Circus for a show by Art Brut. Having released their first album in 2005 with a ‘best of’ released this year, they make a long-awaited return after a quiet few years. There is absolutely no doubt that this gig won’t be a blast.
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]
A short and sweet (and FREE) pick today. Siobhan Wilson, whose EP ‘Glorified Demons’ has quite literally been melting us over the past wee while, is playing a free set at the BBC Potterrow site tonight at 8pm. The BBC Pink tent is unticketed so all you need to do is just turn up but we promise you, it’s very unlikely you’ll be disappointed. If you miss out on her tonight though, she is playing at the Pale Imitation Festival this Saturday (more about the glorious 10th later this week) with Sparrow and the Workshop and The Rosy Crucifixion.
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.
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…
Of course, you probably know already but last night, RM Hubbert’s ‘Thirteen Lost and Found’ won this year’s Scottish Album of the Year award. We’re over the moon here at Elba as Hubby is someone we’ve got to know through our long forgotten recorded sessions and also the gigs (what a line up!) at the dearly departed Liquid Ship. There has been much written about how deserving a winner the album was and we can only echo those sentiments but we’d also agree with Hubby that there is so much great music being made in Scotland that many of the shortlisted, and longlisted albums, would be worthy of the crown. Of the final ten, there were several that different parts of us were rooting for, which shows the strength of the entrants.
Indeed, we’re already a touch giddy at the prospect of who might be in with a chance of winning next year’s prize with the first six months of 2013 already stuimulating our listening with offerings from Rick Redbeard, Sparrow and the Workshop, The Pastels, Kid Canaveral, The Pictish Trail and Boards of Canada. Not to mention the six months of the year still remaining. And you never know, RM Hubbert might just be in with a shout next year too…
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 had fun putting a wee video together last month when Andrea Marini was in
the studio, so our resident Steven Spielberg whipped out the camera again when Sparrow & The Workshop came a calling last week to film them playing ‘Old Habits’ from the album Spitting Daggers. We hope you enjoy. The full interview and tracks will be up in audio format as soon as!
I’m sure we’ve all seen the awful pictures and devastation that the earthquake and subsequent tsunami has caused over the last few weeks in Japan. We just wanted to highlight a couple of the many worthwhile fundraising efforts that are being made to help send a bit more aid to the region.
The good people over at Audio Antihero have released a compilation with a staggering 34 (THIRTY FOUR) tracks featuring the likes of Meursault, Nosferatu D2, Darren Hayman and Le Reno Amps. The donation for this album is as follows, straight from the horses mouth;
“It’s priced at £3.99
to those of you who can’t afford much and the ‘pay what you want’ option invites those of you with a little extra to dig a little deeper. Thank you”
The proceeds will be split between the following, Japan Society, Shelterbox, Red Cross, Save The Children and The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. You can buy the album, titled ‘Bob Hope Would…’ here
Meanwhile, on the live front here in Glasgow, there will be a fundraising gig for the Red Cross taking place at Stereo next Wednesday 30th March. The line up includes a Sparrow and The Workshop/Strike The Colours mash up with a Jill O’Sullivan and Jenny Reeve collaborative effort, Haight Ashbury and Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. Tickets are a fiver in and are likely to shift fast. You can buy in advance here.