Tag Archives: Scotland

So Many Animal Calls- She Was Speaking From The Bottom Of The Sea cover artwork

New Single: So Many Animal Calls – She Was Speaking From The Bottom Of The Sea

One of our sure-fire tips for greatness in 2013 and beyond; So Many Animal Calls look set to finish the year how they began, with the release of another brilliant single.

With less hooks and more melody than the previous release ‘Traps’ the new single ‘She Was Speaking From The Bottom Of The Sea’ which is released on the 3/12 via Overlook Records shows another side to the band and one that highlights that this is a band with a full arsenal of styles and influences ready to mix it with the very best of Scottish rock.

The single is also the lead track from the bands forthcoming EP ‘Almost Something Is Better Than Nothing’ due out in March 2013.

Their début single sold out on physical format really quickly and this one will be no different so get in early when it’s released.

Here’s the video for the track

french-wives-dream-of-the-inbetween-album-artwork

Album Review: French Wives – Dream of the Inbetween (Electric Honey)

Usually when being sent albums to review you have a week (if you’re lucky) on the general release.  This doesn’t give much time to get to grips with what you’re reviewing, which leads to sometimes your true opinion (good or bad) being forsaken for publishing ahead or on the day of release.  Happily this current album ‘Dream Of The Inbetween’ by Scottish indie darlings French Wives was sent to me a full 3 months before its scheduled release on the 7th of May.  I’m publishing this review quite ahead of time purely for the reason I need to put it to bed so I can carry on with other releases I’ve been sent.  If I don’t get this one out of my system, there is a chance I will listen to nothing else for months.  Personally I’d be blissfully happy with that outcome, however in the interest of covering as many releases as I can it kind of holds one back.

French Wives, if you aren’t familiar with them are a five piece comprising of Stuart Dougan (vocals/guitars), Chris Barclay (bass/vocals), Siobhan Anderson (violin/vocals), Scott MacPherson (guitar/vocals) and Jonny Smith (drums/vocals) formed via mutual friends while at university.  Hailing from Scotland, they are another notch on the bedpost of amazing acts to emerge from north of the border.  Despite concentrating on building their fan base locally they have amassed a number of noteworthy support slots since their 2008 inception (Bombay Bicycle Club, The Mystery Jets and Two Door Cinema Club to name but a few).  Their label Electric Honey is responsible for past releases of Scottish luminaries like Biffy Clyro, Belle & Sebastien and Snow Patrol, certainly good company to keep.

On to the album ‘Dream of the Inbetween’ first impressions are pleasing, the opening tracks ‘Modern Columns’ and recent single ‘Numbers’ have an instant appeal, very easy to listen.  Vocalist Stuart Dougan has a lovely warmth about his voice, a heady mix of Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Editors Tom Smith.  Musically it’s very anthemic, huge choruses and tight rhythms are cleverly woven with that new folk/rock combo that Idlewild were so successful with on ‘Post Electric Blues’ courtesy of some lovely Fiddle work by Siobhan Anderson.

Once you start clocking up the miles with this album the more subtle tracks start to dominate.  There’s the beautiful semi-title track ‘The Inbetween’ is something akin to Coldplay’s ‘Parachutes’ very short, very beautiful and leaves you wanting that song or melody to be expanded into a full song.  Where Coldplay didn’t capitalise on this, French Wives pull no punches reprising the mantra like lyrics of ‘The Inbetween’ in the stand out track on the album ‘Younger’.  What this shows me is that although the album is a collection of wonderful individual songs, it was written as an album and has a wonderful flow as a result, something not achieved by many bands.

Although not really breaking any new ground with ‘Dream of the Inbetween’ what French Wives have done is take their time to produce the album.  They’ve obviously drawn on their influences, but have completely raised the bar.  This is stellar stuff and if there is any justice in this business, this album will sell by the bucket load.  I look at what Elbow are doing and they are incredible successful, albeit they manage to produce 1 or 2 good songs per album that get stunning amounts of radio time, this is a gem from start to finish.  It’s well polished without being over done, it’s inventive with wonderful melodies and great lyrics, it has choruses galore that will be no doubt bellowed back at the band at gigs all over the land this year.

Quite possibly the best album this year, if not this decade.  It’s a keeper that I can now settle down and just bask in the beauty of rather than critique.  Something this good merits worldwide attention, a band like this just needs a bit of luck now and to be backed by the right people on the radio….Zane Lowe I’m looking at you pal!

Rating: 10/10

Tracks:
1. Modern Columns
2. Numbers
3. Back Breaker
4. The Inbetween
5. Me vs. Me
6. Sleep Tight
7. Halloween
8. Month of Sundays
9. Younger
10. The Sickness

Released: 7th May 2012

Label: Electric Honey

Format: CD / Download

For fans of: Elbow, Snow Patrol, Editors, Idlewild

French Wives on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frenchwives
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/frenchwives
Official: http://frenchwives.co.uk/

Get a free copy of one of the best songs ever ‘Younger’ here: http://frenchwives.bandcamp.com/album/younger-single

 

Rachel Sermanni. Picture by Paul Campbell

EP Review: Rachel Sermanni – Black Currents EP

The Scottish National Lottery works in a slightly different way to the televised one you may be familiar with. There’s no Dale Winton, no Lancelot, no big money balls. There is simply a cave somewhere in the Highlands, where a magical bearded troll casts a spell on a lucky soul every day, giving them an inordinate amount of talent, creativity and a guitar. I looked for that cave when I was last in the Highlands, but it’s a big place and all I found was an old campfire, Polish shop keepers and one red rubber glove (you never find a pair do you?). One certainty is that spell must have been cast on Rachel Sermanni, because she has that inordinate amount of talent, cave loads of creativity and, yes, even a guitar. Maybe even two.

Black Currents is Sermanni’s most recent release. Having now listened to her prior release, the wonderful Bothy Sessions EP, there is a higher polish to this. These songs are more thoughtfully crafted, more certain of their intent and follow more closely in the same direction. Sermanni is carving a niche for herself, with a talent that belies her years. Leading track “Breathe Easy” begins with the woody pluck of a double bass, the first sign of the cleverly orchestrated sting accompaniment, used to great effect on this track and elsewhere. Sermanni’s breathy delivery rises and falls throughout, building with the strings to a triumphant finish.

Next up is, for me, the crowning glory of the release; “The Fog”. This really is one hell of a tune, showing off Rachel’s vocal range and nuances to the full. There is a darkness to this, but not a malevolence, more a feeling that there’s something in the air, much like the title. The guitar melody dances mischievously along, whilst the violins weave a tentative, eerie sonic web. The Fog manages to be both musically and lyrically dramatic and is by far the most accomplished arrangement here. This will leave you utterly spellbound.

The title track has a slightly different feel, there’s still that pensive dark side to it, but it’s how Sermanni toys with that dark side that gives each track it’s own personality. Black Current reminds me of Scott Matthews’ early efforts somewhat, with that occasional continental flavour to the melody. Once again, there’s a maturity and versatility on show that someone who has barely seen two decades pass by shouldn’t posses.

To close proceedings, we are left with “Song To A Fox”. This is such a dynamic, emotive song, with some beautiful vocal harmonies and a truly haunting string section. As I listen to it whilst writing this, I’m once again struck by the journey this EP takes you on. There are twists and turns to rival anything else out there.

Intelligent songwriting, coupled with superb musicianship has yielded a real gem in Black Currents. The contributors should all take a well deserved bow. The day after seeing Sermanni live, supporting Fink, I listened to this EP thirteen times in a row. Thirteen times. That’s a lot of times in a row, by anyone’s reckoning. Suffice to say, it’s a particularly captivating way for anyone to spend 16.2 minutes. I had no idea I was into double figures, as the relativity of time had long since left me behind. I’d recommend being lulled gently into the evening by this EP to anyone. An uncommon blend of heartfelt sentiment and coquettish darkness; if this doesn’t pluck and strum you into submission, then you might get a visit from an angry Scottish Lottery Troll, with some questions he wants answers to. You don’t want that, do you?

The King Hats - First Light EP cover

EP Review: The King Hats – First Light (Mantelpiece Recordings)

I came across The King Hats while searching associated artists of bands like Twin Atlantic, Lightguides etc.  I’m rather glad I did.  While most bands in Scotland seem to (quite rightly) taking their cue from bands like Biffy Clyro, these boys are producing raw indie rock that’s more reminiscent of Idlewild when they first burst onto the scene with Captain and Hope Is Important.

Recorded in the band’s flat, that low-fi sound really rings though and suits the style of music they are trying to create down to a tee.  A combination of sharp lyrics, killer hooks and driving rhythms fuel the majority of tracks with the relentless pace only dropping occasionally.

‘Victoria’s Secret’, the first track on the EP is absolutely HUGE, it cleverly draws the listener in to a false sense of security with its relatively softly paced opening intro and first verse before it all kicks off.  The track is a beautiful mix of this suppressed melodic verse and full on indie punk during the mantra like choruses.  It’ll only take a few listens before you’re screaming out “YOU MEAN THE WORLD TO ME”.

The pace is kept up with ‘I Smell A Rat’, again a great contrast with the frantic guitars and Lead Singer Alan Power’s almost lackadaisical vocals which get more energetic as the track evolves.

‘Happy New Year’ relates an incident that happened to Power the night before New Year, when he was found naked on the bathroom floor by his (then) girlfriend after passing out from over indulgence.  The song is an homage to her for saving his life.

‘It Feels Like I’m Falling’ has a wonderful pace to it, and starts off with a brief respite from the previous songs onslaught….it doesn’t last long though before we’re off again.  As with the first track it’s a great mixed bag of subdued bubbling under verse to stomp on the overdrive pedal and hang your balls out loud chorus.

Slightly more downbeat than the previous tracks on the EP but with no less vitriol.  Full of angst, crashing drums and slamming guitars this is how to close your debut EP.

And that’s it……oh wait, not it’s not.  If you buy the CD version of the EP you will be treated to 2 more tracks.  ‘Brand New’ and ‘Time in Japan’.  I’m going to keep my thoughts on these a secret, to hopefully encourage you to go and buy it :)

Rating: 9/10
Best Track: It Feels Like I’m Falling
For Fans of: Idlewild, Reuben, The Xcerts, (early) Green Day

Tracklist:

1. Victoria’s Secret
2. I Smell A Rat
3. Happy New Year
4. It Feels Like I’m Falling
5. 6/8
6. Brand New*
7. Time In Japan*
(*CD only bonus tracks)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thekinghats

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thekinghats

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/thekinghats

Buy the EP on CD: http://www.facebook.com/thekinghats?sk=app_150178545006427

Buy the EP Digitally: http://thekinghats.bandcamp.com/album/first-light