Tag Archives: Scottish Music

Roddy Woomble - Listen To Keep cover

Roddy Woomble – Listen To Keep (Reveal)

Roddy Woomble - Listen To Keep cover

Roddy Woomble returns with his 3rd solo effort ‘Listen To Keep‘ which will be released via Reveal Records on the 4th of March.

The overall composition of the album benefits from a settled line up, as opposed to the revolving door of musicians that made up 2011′s The Impossible Song.  The line up is a reflection of his touring crew of Sorren Maclean (Guitar), Seonaid Aitken (Violin, Keys), Gavin Fox (Bass) and the addition of drummer Danny Grant.

Listen to Keep is a confident affair throughout, and comes across completely as a group of musicians comfortable with each other and playing to the best of their abilities.

Idlewild are one of my favourite ever bands, and Roddy’s solo recordings maintain a prominent place in my regular listening, but I’ve sometimes found opening salvos of any new material fairly heavy going.  Often this is the best way though as you’re paid back for your investment in the time it takes to gain a level of familiarity with the work.  Woomble appears to be the master of this, knowing one way or another you’ll come round to his way of thinking, even if it does take a bit of time.  I found this new album one of the more accessible offerings of anything he has done in recent times.

The album has a really nice variation, from the laid back pensive tunes like ‘Making Myths’ and ‘Listen To Keep’ you’ll suddenly have your lethargic chair kicked from under you with outright toe tappers like ‘The Last One of my Kind‘ and ‘Trouble Your Door’.  The ever blossoming writing relationship between Woomble and Maclean is undoubtedly a great new partnership in Scottish music and hopefully one that sticks around in some form for year to come.

There is an underlying theme in the album, with Woomble revisiting the idea of luck on multiple occasions.  I’m no expert but I’d say that certainly Idlewild suffered from bad luck to a certain extent.  For a band of that talent with the wealth of superb material they had to call upon, commercially at least they weren’t as successful as they deserved.  Woomble may be dwelling on this, and he’d have good reason to think he didn’t have the luck he deserved.

The recording sounds more like a band than any of Woomble’s previous solo outing, with the closeness of relationships and group of people attain when out on tour, this is hardly any surprise, and the material sounds all the better for it.  My only criticism is that at times I found myself wanting the recorded versions of the songs to mirror the warmth of the live performance  but in some tracks I was left feeling that it was lacking…a guitar part too quiet or backing vocals almost inaudible, that when played live had made the song shine.

One thing you can’t deny is the quality of Woomble’s voice, now shed of angst it has taken on a wiser, more mature tone that you can’t help but drift away in your own thoughts while listening to it.

Buy the album direct from Reveal using the links below.

CD: http://www.reveal-store.com/product.php?id=311&categoryid=23 shipping NOW!

Vinyl: http://www.reveal-store.com/product.php?id=314&categoryid=23

Roddy Woomble - Listen To Keep cover art

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

 

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

Marvel Heights - Band pic 1

Interview: Marvel Heights

We sent over a bunch of questions for Marvel Heights to answer, to coincide with their release of their debut EP ‘Make No Waves’ (http://cleanslatemusic.org/2012/01/25/ep-review-marvel-heights-make-no-waves/).  Singer Sarah Dyer kindly sent them back just in time for it all to be published on Burns Night.

Clean Slate Music: For those who won’t be familiar with you yet, please introduce yourselves and what Marvel Heights is all about?

Marvel Heights: We started writing our own music while still in school, but since we’ve had a few member changes and really evolved – the five of us have grown up a lot too. We think we bring a lot of honest but powerful energy to our shows, and we differentiate ourselves from other local bands with our differing influences within the band. These go from The Strokes to Sigor Ros to Taking Back Sunday.

CSM:It’s an interesting band name is there a story behind the name?

MH: We really wish there was! It really just came from having to choose a name in about say, ten minutes to enter a talent show, and our singer Sarah suggested Marvel, relating to the comics. We’ve never really looked back since, it stuck, as it was pretty different to other names we had heard. It would feel strange to be called something else, it’s got so much history as we came up with it when we were so young.

CSM: Make No Waves is your debut EP, which is a real cracker, is it everything you hoped it would be?

MH: We’re really very happy with the E.P, as we got to work with producer Chris Gordon, who just understood exactly what we wanted to say. The songs all relate to us coming together as a band, and the territory that comes with. That’s when it all gels, when the vibes are all right, the songs make sense musically and lyrically for us.

CSM: The Scottish music scene is amazing at the moment with bands like Biffy, Twin Atlantic and The Xcerts leading the way, how big an inspiration is this to you guys?

MH: People really underestimate Scottish bands, but with such bands as the ones you’ve named, the scene has never been stronger, which is great for bands trying to make their mark. It’s just the beginning, which is a great inspiration for us.

CSM: Any plans to tour south of the border?

MH: For sure. The plan is to play as many Scottish shows as we can, hopefully this will give us more confidence playing down south, where the competition really heats up.

CSM: You seem to be in a nice little group of bands coming through with others like So Many Animal Calls, Lightguides, Make Sparks, The King Hats and Part Wind Part Wolf to name but a few.  Is there a good camaraderie between bands?

MH: There’s definitely an energy shared yes! They all have that in common, it’s a real show, and I think everyone relates to that. We recently played with Carnivores at King Tut’s along with So Many Animal Calls, and Kenny had some interesting vocal warm ups that we joined in on…guy has a set of lungs!

CSM: Do you have plans to record a full album soon?

MH: Eventually we’d love to, right now it’s about just playing as many shows as we can, it’s what we love doing most.

CSM: Finally hopes for 2012?

MH: As long as folks keep coming to the gigs, we’re pretty happy! We hope everyone loves it as much as we love doing it.

Thanks to the band for taking the time to answer the questions.  I can feel a trip up to Scotland soon to take in a show.