Thursday, 30 April 2009

On the radar: Galchen


Hinterland Preview

If there was a European City of Instrumental Post-Rock, Glasgow would have to be first choice to host. Without reeling off the same old names, let's just say that Scotland's biggest city has a fine tradition of vocal-free, dynamic-heavy guitar music. And ship building, apparently.

The latest apprentices of the former industry are experimental three-piece Galchen.

It's not often that a cursory listen to a band's MySpace makes you stop what you're doing, turn up the volume and take a mental note of their name. But despite the lack of vocals and song titles, that's exactly what the unsigned Galchen's music did for us at Under the Radar. The wide-screen ambition of their electronica-based post-rock verges on awe-inspiring.

So it hardly needs to be reiterated that Galchen's show at Pivo Pivo should be an essential stop-off for any intrepid Hinterland navigator. We asked Peter Kelly of the band what to expect from them.

"For Hinterland we will be playing some new songs that we are aiming to record sometime this year. Some nice slow moving ones and some pure heavy bangin' ones sprinkled with a bit of ambience.

"Hinterland is a great idea for the Glasgow scene," he continues. "There are so many bands in Glasgow with varied styles and also a dedicated audience to go with it. They could have made it a night longer with the amount of bands playing but it looks like it has already made an impact on press and radio."

Who else are they keen to watch at the festival?

"It sucks we are on at the same time as Desalvo or I would go and see them," Peter replies. "Maybe The Fall. That's about it for me."

And beyond Hinterland?

"We hope to go back to Germany this summer," Peter says. "Also some recording. We are in the process of writing just now but it's difficult with jobs trying to find time for it."

Play: Galchen - Track 09

Intrigued? Watch Galchen at Hinterland: Tonight (Thu 30), 8.50pm at Pivo Pivo.

- Nick Mitchell

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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

On the radar: Ming Ming & The Ching Chings

Ming Ming & The Ching Chings

Hinterland Preview

Despite the imbecilic moniker, Ming Ming & the Ching Chings are a band that demand to be taken seriously.

Over the past 12 months, the Glasgow quartet’s adrenaline fuelled rockabilly-disco-punk racket has been hyperdriving its way through the ear canals of Central Belt punters.

Orchestrated by Craig Wilson’s howling shrill, Ming Ming fuse the visceral horror-schlock stomping of The Cramps with Josef K’s iconoclastic rumbling to produce a sound that’s rawer than an acid burn laceration.

Their live shows are a mesmerising proposition, seething with a discord that verges on mindless euphoria, and with a debut recording not far from fruition, UtR reckons their Hinterland set may well be the start of something very special.

Try as we might, it seems we're destined never to forget the name Ming Ming & The Ching Chings.

Play: Ming Ming & The Ching Chings - Show Off

Watch Ming Ming & The Ching Chings at Hinterland: Downstairs at Classic Grand, Friday, 8.50pm.

- Billy Hamilton

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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

On the radar: Futuristic Retro Champions

Futuristic Retro Champions

Hinterland Preview

Are we on the verge of a pop renaissance? Is pop finally hitting back after several years of landfill indie/rock domination?

Maybe, but here's a caveat for you: when I say 'pop' I don't mean the most statistically popular, because that would entail dross like Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson. No, I mean the pop sensibility folks; that kaleidoscopic, instantaneous appeal that needn't be a byword for mindless chart-bating.

Recently, acts like Bat For Lashes, Ladyhawke and Neon Neon have been making pop music of longevity and quality, but what about here in our so-called dour wee nation?

UtR spoke to Harry 'H Bomb' Weeks, guitarist and laptop prodder in one of Scotland's most colourful bands (despite what the above photo suggests), Futuristic Retro Champions, on the eve of their show at Hinterland...

What can we expect from Futuristic Retro Champions at Hinterland?
[Harry]: You should brace yourself for some big, loud, silly and shouty pop music. Our aim for this gig is to persuade indie kids that listening to Kylie Minogue is NEVER a bad thing. Carla (our keyboardist and main songwriter) is a pop encyclopaedia and I think that indie/rock bands could learn a lot from the songwriting in pop music. So hopefully you can expect some cracking pop songs, played in a suitably over-excitable manner.

Play: Futuristic Retro Champions - You Make My Heart

What do you think of Hinterland and the Scottish music scene more generally?
I'm a big fan of Hinterland 'cos it means bands like us can tell people that we're playing a festival with Metronomy. Also, because we're playing last at the Admiral I can tell my mum that we're headlining and its only half a lie! Scottish music-wise, we've never felt hugely involved in a 'scene', I'm not even sure if there is one. But there are some ace bands kicking about. Dirty Summer have been going for a while now and are still only about 14. They are awesome, they're album is a big loud, shouty, amazing mess.

Who else will you be trying to see at the festival?
I'm really glad we're playing at the same venue as Sugar Crisis, I've wanted to see them for ages, but never managed it. Also Juno, who I think are on at Classic Grand [downstairs, Friday, 7.45pm - ed], they are friends of ours, and don't play all that often. I'm noticing a proper pop trend in my selection of bands! I'll balance that out by saying Damn Shames, even though I won't get to see them. We're playing with them the night before though...

What's on the cards for the band? Any releases planned?
We have an EP that we did for our gig in London with The Vaselines last month. It's five songs on a CD-R with some very snazzy artwork and some felt-tip pen drawings on each CD so you can put it on eBay when we get famous. Apart from that, we have some gigs around Scotland, and really want to go back to London again, 'cos that was ridiculous fun.

Have ridiculous fun yourself by watching Futuristic Retro Champions at Hinterland, at The Admiral, Friday, 9.50pm.

- Nick Mitchell

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Sunday, 26 April 2009

On the radar: Geordi la Force

Geordi La ForceHinterland Preview

Like a firework that lights the sky a mile-wide in circumference, Geordi La Force is an artist with the ability to entertain and excite in equal measure.

Just one of the musical delicacies that make up the eclectic banquet that is Hinterland, this one man/guitar/laptop combo provides songs that not only capture your ears but whose witty titles swindle your laughter too.

‘The Baguette of Phil Collins’ is not just a hint at his humour but a song that you know you will want to witness live: systematically defined beats and savage, wolfish guitar riffs.

He says of his inspirations: "I think it is a funny world we live in and there are a lot of things to laugh and poke fun at. I could try to call my songs something meaningful but it is instrumental so where does the meaning come from?"

Find out the meaning behind Geordi la Force for yourself in Glasgow this week.

Play: Geordi la Force - The Baguette of Phil Collins

Intrigued? Watch Geordi la Force live at Hinterland, downstairs at Classic Grand, Glasgow on Thursday at 8.15pm.

- Halina Rifai

[Photograph: Alistair Burton]
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Hinterland 2009: The Interview

For many, the idea of a Scottish festival at the tail-end of April is as preposterous as it is horrifying. After all, the driving rain of the Scottish summer is daunting enough, never mind having to wade through a springtime shower of snow, sleet and/or hail to see some band you’re not really that keen on.

But what if that festival was scattered across a myriad of indoor venues? What if you could go for a number two without having to immerse your derrière in bowl of stagnant faecal matter? And what if you could see some of your favourite bands without developing trenchfoot?

Well, if that sounds like your idea of festival nirvana then Hinterland 2009 is definitely for you. Spreading 100 bands over 20 Glasgow venues, this two-day jamboree of music and art (yes, there’s visual creativity going on in there too) will blend a plethora of renowned UK acts with Scotland’s hippest young tune-smugglers.

Having whetted UtR’s rather pernickety appetite with a cracking line up, we’ll be fanfaring some of our favourite home-grown participants during the run-up to Hinterland 2009’s curtain-raising night. And to kick-off our week of Hinterland-induced wordsmithery, we caught up with founder Mike Oman to get his take on the ensuing festivities.

It’s a very exciting and, in many ways, unique festival you’ve created. When did you come up with the idea for Hinterland?
Mike Oman [MO]: After the end of Triptych I felt there was a gap for an event such as Hinterland but with a slightly more band focussed approach.

How does the name ‘Hinterland’ relate to the festival's mantra?
[MO]: It took us ages but we felt it reflected what we wanted to achieve which is showcasing acts/musicians you might not have heard of.

Hinterland’s broader in scale than your average festival. How long did it take to organise?
[MO]: Too long! We've been working on Hinterland since August but the time has gone very quickly as you can imagine.

There must have been a few difficulties getting 20 venues to agree to be involved. What were the main challenges you’ve faced?
[MO]: Obviously with any event there's always issues but all the venues have been brilliant. I think the main thing we had to make sure everyone understood was the fact that it was a one ticket all access event.

Why did you think a multi-venue festival was the way forward? How does Hinterland benefit the punters?
[MO]: I think the benefits, especially in Glasgow, is that you won’t get too wet. It's a more intimate affair and provides an opportunity to see potentially, some of the industry's breakthrough acts in smaller surroundings.

Does the rise of the multi-venue festival spell the end of an era for that old jowly dinosaur the UK summer festival?
[MO]: Not at all, you can’t beat the experience of T in the Park, Glastonbury etc and they are treated as mini holidays to an extent. Hinterland is cheaper for the punter due to its location etc so it's an alternative rather than a solution.

And how did you choose the Scottish bands that are playing?
[MO]: We have a committee of industry movers and shakers who've nominated the acts that are playing.

What opportunities do you think Hinterland offers these local bands?
[MO]: It presents an opportunity to not only be billed and perform alongside acts who are potentially larger in profile but also raises their own profile both locally and nationally.

And what opportunities do you think Hinterland offers grassroots music in Glasgow?
[MO]: It has the potential to provide a platform for acts of various sizes to reach a larger audience.

Who are you most excited about seeing perform at Hinterland and why?
[MO]: A three-way tie between The Invisible because I think they're going to be huge very soon, Dan Black because he's potentially our next male popstar in the making and We Were Promised Jetpacks because I’ve never seen them live yet.

Not announcing the venues for the bands until the opening night seems a bit risky. why did you decide to do that?
[MO]: It's more fun.

What do you hope people take from this year’s Hinterland festival?
[MO]: To enjoy themselves and see some unknown acts and memorable performances.

What are your plans for the future with Hinterland?
[MO]: To establish itself on the live music calendar and hopefully become an event that people attend to see amazing breakthrough acts.

So would it be possible that Hinterland could be franchised to other cities?
[MO]: I don’t see why not, but we're focusing on Glasgow at the moment.

And finally, if there’s one piece of advice you could give UtR readers about how best to enjoy Hinterland what would it be?
[MO]: Open yours ears and minds and it'll all make sense in the end.

Hinterland runs from 30 April to 1 May 2009 in various venues around Glasgow. Tickets for the event are £42 for a 2 day standard ticket/£23.50 for a 1 day ticket and can be bought directly from the Hinterland 2009 website.

The full line up, as well as additional information, can be found here.

- Billy Hamilton


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Friday, 24 April 2009

On the radar: Findo Gask

Findo Gask

There’s a general consensus that Glasgow quartet Findo Gask are a band on the brink. But just what they’re on the brink of depends entirely on your own predilections.

For the luddites, their Casiotone-skittered kaleidoscopes border on irksome pastiche; too cluttered and hyperactive to ever make the grade. Yet, more dynamic sorts [and you can count UtR amongst them] believe the group’s transcendental Poptronica is ready to perforate the lugholes of the unassuming UK public.

Ever the progressives, Findo Gask are already setting out a plan to bridge the divide: “We hope our music has the potential to be liked by a wide range of people despite its strangeness - a top ten hit would be the icing on the cake,” says bassist Gregory Williams.

Play: Findo Gask - One Eight Zero

Formed just two years ago, the band have indented the Scottish music scene with smoulders of zigzagging electronica and Indie-Pop melodies. Their debut single, the thrilling algorithmic hip shaker 'Va Va Va', was an instant classic, with Radio 2 luminaries Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie decreeing it “astonishingly good.” High praise, indeed.

So what makes Findo Gask stand out from today’s identikit tunesmugglers with a penchant for synthesisers? “As Gavin [Thomson – Keyboards] once said, it's about going to the periphery of music and bringing ideas back to the middle,” explains Williams. “We try to use diverse sets of sounds to squeeze a lot of ideas into what is essentially pop music. We hope that this characterizes the music as innovative.”

The vibrant illumination of Findo Gask’s sound is reminiscent of a modern day Orange Juice, but underneath this feel good sensibility lurks an ear for meticulous compositions: “The Beach Boys have been an inspiration to us in terms of song-writing and arrangement," says Williams. "Brian Wilson's harmonic intuition combines wonderfully with his ability to make melodies both complex and immediately accessible...We like to think our music can do a lot of different things between out and out banging to soft and tender.”

And variety is exactly what Findo Gask offer. Not only are they traders in delectable Electro-Pop ditties, but they also do a mean sideline in club friendly remixes, notably jiving up cuts for Bloc Party, Psapp and Yoko Ono (yes, apparently she makes music).

As for the future, Findo Gask wish only for simple pleasures: “The immediate aim for all of us is to be able to make music full time, giving us the ability to pursue all creative urges. It would be brilliant to be able to travel with our music, to meet and make friends with music lovers and lovely people in far away places.”

Intrigued? Discover Findo Gask for yourself at the following shows:

25 Apr: Greenside Hotel, Leeds
12 May: The Captain’s Rest, Glasgow
18 Jul: Narc Fest 09, Newcastle

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Thursday, 23 April 2009

Newsflash: Limbo launches first in series of live albums

Limbo liveOf all the promoters staging live music in Scotland, few can claim to have worked as tirelessly as Limbo over the past year and a half.

The 'live music dance party' hosts three bands a week in the plush setting of Edinburgh's Voodoo Rooms, and its two head honchos, Dave Cummings and Andy Richardson, have been recording it all for the first of a series of live albums. UtR asked Cummings about his plans.

How did you choose which bands to include?

Purely on the basis of which recordings made sense. We've recorded about 120 bands now and these are just some of the first that we mixed down properly over the first six months. Volume 2 will come out in June and once again it will include a wide variety of different bands, including some of the early recordings which we've not mixed down properly yet.

What are your ambitions for the album?

Limbo Live is an ongoing project to document a Scottish music scene that is currently punching way above its weight. In this respect, series such as Live at the Blue Note were definitely an inspiration. We'll be putting out new volumes as often as we can. From another angle, the series also gives bands an opportunity to get their music to a much wider audience more quickly. We can get very good recordings much more straightforwardly than having to go into a studio. We'll see how this one fairs but we're confident of the fact that it will have wide appeal because of the quality of the recordings.

What's the tracklisting?

1) Zoey Van Goey - City Is Exploding
2) FOUND - When You Fall
3) Punch & The Apostles - Asylum
4) Meursault - Pissing On Bonfires / Kissing With Tongues

5) Sparrow & The Workshop - Last Chance

6) Isosceles - Get Your Hands Off
7) Over The Wall - A History of British Welfarism 1945-1984

8) A-lix - Never Grow

9) Cancel The Astronauts - Slow Dance At The Disco

10) Thieves In Suits - Clockwork

11) Come On Gang! - Spinning Room
12) Kid Canaveral - Second Time Around
13) Haight-Ashbury - Favourite Song
14) Night Noise Team - Menolick

When is it coming out?

Limbo Live Volume 01 launches tonight (23 April) at Limbo. Nine of the bands on the CD will be playing in collaborative and experimental ways at the launch event.

Where will it be available from? and 'all good record shops'.

The Limbo Live launch takes place tonight (23 April, Doors 8pm, £5) at The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh. Playing live in some shape or form will be Meursault, Sparrow and the Workshop, Isosceles, Over the Wall, A-Lix, Theives in Suits, Kid Canaveral, Haight-Ashbury and Cancel the Astronauts. There will also be an after-party at Sick Note, Cabaret Voltaire, with the Black Spring DJs playing a headline DJ set (11pm-3am, free entry).

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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Newsflash: Jetpacks launch UK tour

Scotland’s latest dispatch of heroic tunesmiths, the mightily monikered We Were Promised Jetpacks, will embark on their first major UK tour this summer.

Coinciding with the 4 May release of single 'Quiet Little Voices' and the June-time follow up of their much anticipated debut LP These Four Walls, the Fatcat-signed quartet will stop in at a slew of Scottish cities, including two stints at this month’s Hinterland Festival.

Dates are as follows:

30 Apr - Hinterland Festival, Glasgow
1 May - Hinterland Festival, Glasgow
14 May - Water Margin, Brighton (FatCat Showcase - Great Escape Festival)
15 May - DrownedinSound Stage, Brighton (Great Escape Festival)
23 May - Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool (supporting Sky Larkin)
09 Jun - Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
10 Jun - Doghouse, Dundee
15 Jun - King Tuts, Glasgow
16 Jun - Night & Day, Manchester
17 Jun - Bodega, Nottingham
18 Jun - The Lexington, London
19 Jun - The Cockpit, Leeds
20 Jun - The Head of Steam, Newcastle
28 June - Outsider Festival, Rothiemurchus – Cairngorms National Park
24 July - Wickerman Festival, Dundrennan

UtR has had a sneak preview of These Four Walls and it’s safe to say it’ll be trimming the top of every tastemaking hitlist come the end of the year.

In the meantime, to keep your lugholes nicely oiled in anticipation, we’ve got our paws on a stream of We Were Promised Jetpack’s veracious new single 'Quiet Little Voices'. So sit back, relax and let these Jetpacks take off...

Play: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Quiet Little Voices

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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Scot-ify your Spotify

Scotland on Spotify

As you're reading a blog about music, chances are you will know about Spotify. In fact, chances are you'll have downloaded it, and chances are you're listening to your favourite artist's back catalogue right now.

Either that or one of those friendly adverts narrated by 'Roberta' that cannily pop up at sparse enough intervals to keep us recession-hit misers listening for nada.

The 'free' music streaming service has taken the online world by storm, so in keeping with our twin interests in Scottish music and digital innovation (remember our token Twitter gesture last month?), we've created a Scottish Spotify playlist.

Find it here: spotify:user:nickmitchell:playlist:1Ofg0XxMSNx6etfwfGrelG

This is certainly not a definitive list, and is informed by personal taste rather than encyclopaedic breadth - which basically means you won't find any Del Amitri or Deacon Blue.

But if you have suggestions on what would improve it, let us know below. We're especially keen to know if there are any lesser known, up and coming bands on Spotify that we've missed.


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Sunday, 19 April 2009

On the radar: John B McKenna

John B McKenna

John B McKenna is a curious sort.

Blessed with an innate understanding of melody and visuals, the 21-year-old Glaswegian has always appeared somewhat reluctant to make his mark on the local scene; forever veiled behind an array of abstract pseudonyms and ad-hoc ensembles.

But, slowly, things have started to change. By setting out under his own name with a band of four behind him, McKenna’s finally taken charge of his own destiny.

“Recently we have formed a full band line-up for the music I previously performed solo - under the name Monoganon,” explains McKenna. “So the last three months we have been in a small practise space under the Kingston Bridge, where no-one can hear us scream, practising harmonies and the like.”

Play: John B McKenna - Keep Me In The Dark

Citing the likes of Neil Young, Grandaddy, Nirvana and Bruce Springsteen (“The Boss was the bane of my childhood excursions with the family," he bemoans) as influences, McKenna’s music is in many ways predictable; his pensive, self-interrogating lyrics are strewn across a patchwork of creeping acoustic guitar.

Yet the fortitude of his laconic brogue and tumbling strums dispels any fears of pointless retreading. This is a man set entirely on progress, be it via an eye for the abstract (see his website's striking robo-retro design) or an ear for the beautiful (his free to download demos are a stellar indication of his talents).

Play: John B McKenna - Monomania

McKenna, however, seems unsure as to where destiny lies: “I don't know exactly what we are doing, yet,” he says reservedly. “There is a world of ways we could go all ending in different achievements - one of them could be finding the musical elixir of life. I'd like to say we could achieve that but I don't want to limit our ambition with that as the ultimate goal.”

He may not know it, but for John B McKenna the possibilities are endless.

- Billy Hamilton

Tell us what you think of John B McKenna and his pursuit of life's musical elixir below...

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Saturday, 18 April 2009

Radar recommends: 19 - 25 April

[Meursault: playing support at Sneaky Pete's on Wednesday]

Compared to last week's meagre pickings, we've got a banquet of quality giggage coming up over the next seven days. But with great choice comes great indecision, so which delectable aural treat are you going to tuck into? Go on, be gluttonous, you know you want to...

Haight Ashbury, Suplex the Kid, The Works and Chris Crosbie
Sun 19 Apr, Maggie May's, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £5
Haight Ashbury don't just wear their influences on their sleeves; they have them painted on their faces (that's still a metaphor by the way), plundering as they do the music and vibe of late '60s West Coast hippy-dom before it turned sour. Expect psychedelic guitars and possibly even some unashamed sitar usage. [NM]

Das Filth and Bronto Skylift
Mon 20 Apr, Captain's Rest, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, FREE
Das Filth are appropriately named, because their music is a grubby, snarling rabble of guttural riffs, incessant synths and spat-out lyrics. Get down and dirty at this their single launch, where they're supported by the equally in-yer-face duo, Bronto Skylift. Rawk! [NM]

**UtR's gig of the week**
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Concern, Meursault
Wed 22 Apr, Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm, £7
Yet another triumph for the folk at Sneaky Pete's this week. Casiotone For the Painfully Alone's lo-fi scuffling and morbid tale-telling is sure to appeal to any beard stroking afficionado worth his oversized specs. With support coming from mercurial Edinburgh crowers Meursault (you know, the band EVERYONE's talking about right now?), this night's sure to be a sell out. Best get your running shoes on, then. [BH]

Duty Free presents Popup, Alan Bissett (spoken word), Futuristic Retro Champs, Kirstin Inness (spoken word)
Thu 23 Apr, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm, FREE
Narrated by a brogue so dense it makes James Graham seem refined, Popup's fleet-footed ditties remain a sadly unexplored trove on Scotland's rich musical landscape. But, with any luck, this Duty Free showing alongside the retro-tastic Futuristic Retro Champs (aided by an interlude or two from a duo of fine local wordsmiths) will encourage local lugs to finally succumb to the Glasgow quintet's ravishing indie-pop clattering. [BH]

Zarif, Dead Boy Robotics, Popolo, Keser
Thu 23 Apr, Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm, £5
Hotly tipped as a bright eyed chart-topper of the future, part-Scot/part-Londonite starlet Zarif brings her sassy brand of feel good pop to Edinburgh's dankly-lit Cowgate. Already a firm favourite of daytime radio playlists across the land, the Groove Armada/The Rakes collaborator will need to be at her peak to outgun the primary coloured electro-screeching from supporting trio Dead Boy Robotics, Popolo and Keser. [BH]

The Hand & Ichi and Jo Foster
Thur 23 Apr, Tchai Ovna, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £2
Female singer-songwriters don't come more delicate than Fence Collective member Jo Foster. But what she lacks in gusto she more than makes up for in lyrical and vocal guile. Fresh from her Homegame appearance, here she plays support to Bristol folkie duo The Hand & Ichi. [NM]

Stripped Back for Malawi: The Vaselines, Malcolm Middleton, Aidan John Moffat and Bridget Storm
Fri 24 Apr, Oran Mor, Glasgow. Doors 7pm, £10
OK, a line-up of such established greats normally wouldn't fall 'under the radar', but since this gig is in aid of the Zomba Orphan Project in Malawi, and since the bill includes three of the greatest Scottish acts of recent history, we couldn't resist giving it an honorary mention. [NM]

- Billy Hamilton / Nick Mitchell

What do you think of our selections? (Dis)agree? Comment below...

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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Bringing it all back Home

As the Fence Collective's much-loved musical jamboree takes over Anstruther for a sixth year, dedicated fan Milo McLaughlin tells us what to expect


Anstruther is a tiny fishing village in Fife which is renowned both for the best fish suppers in Scotland and for being the unlikely HQ of Fence Records. Alternately described as a record label and a collective, Fence’s ‘forget the music industry, let’s just make great music and let people come to us’ ethos comes to a head this weekend when around 700 fans descend on the area for their annual Homegame Festival. In fact this will be the biggest year of the festival since it began in 2004, when it started off with the capacity for only 115 people (and has promptly sold out ever since).

The Fence community is headed up by King Creosote, The Pictish Trail and their pal James Yorkston, all of whom are outstanding songwriters and performers who will be amongst the must-see acts this weekend. But the wider collective includes bands on other labels and from wide and far, so expect a massive variety of musical styles on the line-up – it’s not all chin-stroking folk you know.

Play: The Pictish Trail - I Don't Know Where To Begin

As well as the Fence head honchos, some of the expected highlights of this year include sets by Found, David Thomas Broughton, Malcolm Middleton, Chemikal Underground’s latest signing the Phantom Band and a solo acoustic performance by Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison. There will also be a special set of Daniel Johnston covers by James Yorkston and Adrian Crowley, who have recorded an EP together especially for the occasion. And of course let’s not forget the lesser known but no less essential Fence acts who include Rozi Plain, HMS Ginafore and Gummi Bako amongst their number.

Play: Rob St John - Like Alchemy

It’s also great to see UtR favourites Withered Hand, Meursault, Eagleowl and Rob St. John representing Edinburgh’s burgeoning music scene, and some brilliant musicians we’ve only just discovered like Men Diamler, Animal Magic Tricks and Panda Su. Phew!

It may be short notice, but we like to keep you on your toes – so if you’re a spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type person there are still last-minute tickets available (and details of the full line-up) over at Accommodation may be thin on the ground at this point but hey, surely a line-up this good is worth sleeping on the beach for? Your intrepid UtR correspondent hopes to see you there.

Play: Panda Su - Moviegoer

The Homegame takes place in Anstruther, Fife, 17 - 19 April.

Are you planning to go? Who are you looking forward to seeing?
Reading this after the event? Have fun?

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On the radar: Gavin Gordon

Gavin GordonGavin Gordon first caught our attention just over a year ago with his fully-formed songwriting and the kind of spectral, bluesy guitar playing to make Seasick Steve blush behind his beard.

A trip to Cabaret Voltaire to see him play live only confirmed our first impressions: he had the audience's undivided attention throughout an enthralling solo performance (no mean feat for a supporting artist when most early arrivals usually prefer to chat noisily at the bar. Grrr.).

But since then the MySpace site of this Glasgow native has shown little sign of activity, so we caught up with him for an update.

"At the moment I'm finishing my album," he says. "It's been a hard slog but it's nearly done. After that's done I'm going to do more stripped-down stuff with my acoustic guitar, because I'll need a 20-piece band to play the songs the way they are on the album! Or a powerful laptop."

Play: Gavin Gordon - I'm In

Gordon should know a thing or two about laptops, because he explores an utterly different musical realm - ambient techno - with his side-project Aeons. It may well have been this versatility that led Gordon to an intriguing collaboration:

"I've also finished working on an album with Mock & Toof which is just about in the can, and that should be coming out on DFA Records later this year, all going well. It sounds great; they are really good producers. They have a quirky and original sound. Polly from Pollyester sings on the album as well, though there are no duets with me and her, sadly."

Anything else to add?

"I have a techno gig in May so I'm doing some new tunes for that in the free time I can find. I like to keep it busy though."

Play: Gavin Gordon - Burn The Sun

Gavin Gordon performs as Aeons at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow on 5 May.

- Nick Mitchell

Like what you hear? Let us know your thoughts...

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

On the radar: Mitchell Museum

Mitchell Museum

Ever since Merriweather Post Pavilion mainlined into the public sphere, the music press's haggard scribes have prefixed every avant-garde pop ensemble with one languid tagline: ‘the next Animal Collective’.

It was inevitable, really. Those wilting quills needed fresh meat to replace New Rave’s demise and, let’s face it, ‘the next Pigeon Detectives’ just wouldn’t pass muster with trend-hopping hepcats.

Yet many of these knob-twiddling upstarts find the bar of expectation set too high for an inaugural leap. Not Glasgow quartet Mitchell Museum, however:

“We’re very flattered that people compare us to [Animal Collective],” says band frontman Cammy Macfarlane. “I think that we’re kind of a hard band to categorise. We don’t sound exactly like Animal Collective, but I do think that since they’ve started attracting a larger audience they’ve become a good reference point for people that haven’t heard us before.”

Play: Mitchell Museum - Extra Lives

But the comparison is unavoidable. Mitchell Museum’s aural tidings are a whirlpool of melody swooshing giddily against inane dog-yelped lyrics and frantic percussive swathes that pummel solar plexus’ into a nervous, twitching pulp. Sound familiar?

Despite such damning indictments, Mcfarlane maintains the band’s inspirations are more opaque: “I’m probably mostly influenced by the day to day things that happen to my friends and family,” he insists. “I’ve started to feel like whenever I play a new demo to somebody that I should issue a disclaimer that reads: ‘Don’t worry. I didn’t write this song about you.’ Everyone seems a bit worried that I’m writing about them. Maybe I am….they’ll never know.”

Formed little more than a year ago, Mitchell Museum are now one of Scotland’s most innovative new acts. Mcfarlane attributes this ascendancy to the band's unique blend of instrumentation: “We use gas canisters as musical instruments [drums] - I’ve not heard of another band doing that yet,” he says. “We use a lot of unusual instruments in our recordings but we’ve yet to bring the gas canister to a live gig...I think there might be a health and safety issue.”

Play: Mitchell Museum - Take the Tongue Out

Currently gestating in the bowels of Glasgow’s Lofi Studios, Mitchell Museum’s debut LP looks set to alleviate everyday toils when it drops later this year. “Essentially we want to entertain people...,” explains Mcfarlane. “We would like to be the kind of band that helps people forget about forget their boss shouting at them at the end of a long day - I think that we can achieve that.”

- Billy Hamilton

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Monday, 13 April 2009

Newsflash: Tigerfest '09 line-up announced

Tigerfest is always greeted by us here at UtR with the sort of delirious whooping and cheering normally reserved for American sporting events.

So, with oversized finger ready to be pointed and waggled, we’re delighted to tell you the month-long, Scotland-wide (i.e, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dunfermline) festival’s May line-up has just been announced and, boy, does it look like a cracker.

Combining an array of dazzling Scottish acts with some of the finest artists from around the globe, Tigerfest is set to be one of the most effervescent draws on the festival circuit.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at this stellar roster of talent:

Wed 6 May: Amusement Parks On Fire , The Gothenburg Address, Cabaret Voltaire. 7pm, £8
Thur 7 May : Meursault , Inspector Tapehead , The Japanese War Effort (Song:bytoad):, Bowery. 8pm, £5
Fri 8 May: Aberfeldy , Ex Lion Tamer (17seconds , ZekePromotions), Cabaret Voltaire. 7pm, £10
Sat 9 May: Ordinary Allstars , SupersonicSims , B-burg DJset (Fallen Apple Events), Cabaret Voltaire. 7pm, £7
Sun 10 May: The Stantons , The Gillyflowers , Le Reno Amps (Duty Free) , Cabaret Voltaire. 7pm, free

Dunfermline (all shows at Carnegie Hall)
Wed 13 May: James Yorkston , Lisa Knapp. 7.30pm, £10
Thu 14 May: Cruiser , Found , Swimmer One. 7.30pm, £6
Fri 15 May: ballboy , Audrey Sings Nico , The Rosie Thomas Project , Saint Jude's Infirmary. 7.30pm, £6
Sat 16 May: Lord Cut-Glass , De Rosa , Angil + The Hiddentracks. 7.30pm, £6

Thu 21 May
: Alasdair Roberts , Kitchen Cynics , Amber Wilson (IMP) Tunnels. 8pm, £8 , £6
Sun 24 May: King Creosote,The Pictish Trail , Player Piano (IMP) Lemon Tree. 7.30pm, £14

More information can be found on the Tigerfest website.

And here's a video of Carnegie Hall opener James Yorkston to keep you on tenterhooks:

Are you as excited about this as we are? Let us know below...

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On the radar: My Cousin I Bid You Farewell

Jonathan SellarThere are times when artists neither move or inspire us, but then, as if from nowhere, that one inestimable sound emerges from the masses.

With My Cousin I Bid You Farewell [MCIBYF] you can sit clouded in their songs for hours. It's as uplifting and infatuating as being in love

Formed and based in Glasgow, the five-piece - spearheaded by Jonathan Sellar's captivating and unforgettable voice - performed their first gig for the BBC in late 2008 and have gone on to gain a dedicated following.

The name itself is enticing; a mirage of seduction, it sparks a curiosity that makes you want to find out every detail about them.

Our featured cut, 'The Contented Hearts', is like the opening of a stadium show - you can already imagine crowds singing with drunken glee. Yet, there's a range of shy personalities in the band who shine through the music, orchestrated with huge voices and bursting hearts.

Play: MCIBYF - The Contented Hearts

Sellar describes how his passion started: "I have been writing songs since I was 14 and I can’t help it. I write them all the time. There is a deep Scottish influence in my art, the way I sing and the way I arrange songs. Everything from Midge Ure to Rod Stewart has influenced me in some way. I grew up listening to albums rather than artists."

Reminiscent of Arcade Fire with undertones of Bruce Springsteen, MCIBYF's haunting darkness adds to these influences and it just works.

On the future, Sellar says: "We are going to play a lot more and make an album. The current line-up of the band has only been together since February as it has taken me a while to find like-minded fools."

People talk about falling in love at first sight; we fell in love at first listen. UtR are now head over heels.

Discover MCIBYF for yourself at one of the following shows:

16 April: Limbo @ The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
16 May: Cassette, Glasgow
17 June: Captain's Rest, Glasgow

- Halina Rifai

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Saturday, 11 April 2009

Radar recommends: 12 - 18 April

Young Fathers
[Young Fathers: playing King Tut's on Friday]

After the copious delights of the past couple of weeks, things slow down on the gig front this week. But we've still managed to select a few choice nights to keep you busy.

Oso, Enemies and Super Adventure Club
Monday 13 Apr, Cassette, Glasgow, FREE, Doors 8pm
Respect to Oso. The polyrhythmic Californians have packed six (yes, six) Scottish dates into their UK jaunt, and this one could well be the highlight, because sharing the bill are UtR favourites Super Adventure Club. [NM]

Play: SAC - Tommy Sheridan

Withered Hand, Ray Rumours, Francois
Mon 13 April, The Bowery, Edinburgh. Doors 7.30pm, £5
We can’t tell you much about support acts Ray Rumours and Francois, but we do know Withered Hand (aka Dan Wilson) are absolutely sublime. Skewering crisp melodies with arresting experimentation, Wilson’s textured folk canters are a dichotomous sonic treat that never fail to captivate the ear-canals. Backed by myriad local luminaries, it’s also an ideal opportunity to spot a few Auld Reekie celebrities. [BH]

Wine, Women and Song featuring L-Marie, Jake Cogan, Nuala Kennedy
Wed 15 April, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh. Doors 7.30pm, £8
A new night on the Edinburgh circuit, Wine, Women and Song’s raison d’etre is to highlight the fairer sex's musical virtues. This inaugural eve sees a sterling line-up of nu-soul cooer Lizzie-Marie, Edinburgh songstress Jake Corgan and folk hustler Nuala Kennedy appropriate the Voodoo Rooms' ballroom. Here come the girls? You bet. [BH]

**UtR's gig of the week**
We Are Trapped in Kansas, The Darien Venture and Esperi
Thursday 16 Apr, Captain's Rest, Glasgow, £tbc, Doors 8pm
This night of semi-experimental sounds is headed by Scotland's most accomplished math rock act (and there aren't too many of those at the last count), We Are Trapped in Kansas, and bolstered by the poppier Darien Venture and recent UtR stars Esperi. [NM]

Play: Esperi - Proverb

Limbo featuring Marina and The Diamonds, My Cousin I Bid You Farewell
Thursday 16 April, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh. Doors 8pm, £4
In a week where Edinburgh gig pickings are slimmer than Kate Moss on Atkins, it’s left to old faithful Limbo to once again produce the goods. On the cusp of a major league breakthrough, Marina and The Diamonds’ acrobatic trinkets soar skywards with the grace of Kate Bush and the brazen intensity of Bat for Lashes. Supported by My Cousin I Bid You Farewell (soon to be ‘on the radar’), this is sure to be another corking Limbo showing. [BH]

Esser, Young Fathers and Jesus H Foxx

Friday 17 Apr, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, £6, Doors 8.30pm
Young London trendy Ben Esser headlines this gig at Tut's, but it's the supporting acts we're more interested in. Young Fathers are leading the way for Scottish hip-hop in their own blistering style, while Jesus H Foxx are finally set to deliver on the hype with a new EP. [NM]

The Sexual Objects
Saturday 18 Apr, Mono, Glasgow, FREE, Noon-Midnight
To mark Record Store Day, the muso haven that is Monorail plays host to live music and DJs in an all-day event. Don't miss The Sexual Objects at 7pm, the enigmatic group fronted by ex-Fire Engines veteran Davey Henderson. More info here. [NM]

Goodbye Lenin, Sebastian Dangerfield, The Byrons
Saturday 18 April, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm, £5
We’re suckers for an old-fashion slosh of indie here at UtR and, fortunately for us, that’s exactly what this trio of Edinburgh-based miscreants do best. Radiohead (well, Ed O'Brien) commended riff-mongers Goodbye Lenin are the vanguards of a night that showcases the exuberant guitar flutterings of Sebastian Dangerfield and The Byrons’ caged-beast schlock ‘n’ roll. Definitely one for Converse loving indie-aficionados. [BH]

- Billy Hamilton & Nick Mitchell

Have we missed something? Let us know below...

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Friday, 10 April 2009

On the radar: Be A Familiar

Be A Familiar
[Photograph: Gordon Burniston]

With clusters of electro-bending art school ensembles roaming Scotland’s musical pastures, it’s increasingly difficult to find a worthy representative of the country’s best known aural delicacy: jangling indie pop.

Induced by the early 80s sound of Orange Juice and Alan Horne’s Postcard Records, Scotland’s standing in the music world has been built on a foundation of contagious guitar hooks and bookish lyrics. But few contenders have lately stepped up to take the mantle from early-noughties forebears Franz Ferdinand and Belle & Sebastian.

Finally, one has arrived: Glasgow's Be A Familiar are here to revive the genre’s wilting flame.

Play: Be A Familiar - Splinters

Composed by a soirée of tender instrumentation, the septet’s melodies may not jingle quite like a pocket full of New Pop but there’s an underlying feyness that renders them unmistakeably Scottish.

Founding member Calum Morrison (drums) tells UtR about Be A Familiar’s reason for being: “Bands with a great sense of melody had a significant influence on us, and primarily bands that know when and where to keep things simple. There were a lot of bands over-complicating things for a while... [Forming Be A Familiar] was a chance for us to create something bold and colourful which we felt was lacking at the time and we were really excited about writing new music. “

This excitement quickly transformed into reality, with the band last year playing T in the Park after just seven shows before embarking on a tour of both Germany and Ireland.

“I guess the fact that there are seven of us on stage sparks immediate attention,” explains Calum when discussing their expedited success. “For us it's about the strength of melody, the boy/girl harmonies and the rich wall of sound made up of many different elements that provide depth and feeling. We play every show like it's our last and hit out a lot of energy.”

Play: Be A Familiar - Lil

Despite hot footing a few steps on the escalator to the top, Be a Familiar are realistic enough to realise there’s a lot of graft ahead, particularly if it means seducing your other half:

“It would be wrong to suggest that we could become the biggest band in the world or anything daft like that, but we do believe that we write songs that will make people think ‘Fuck that's good, I'll check them out a bit further’,” says Calum. “In honesty, this band has confidence enough to believe we can become one of your favourite bands - or at least your girlfriend’s favourite!”

Intrigued? Discover Be A Familiar for yourself at the following shows:

24 Apr @ Harleys, Bathgate
25 Apr @ Mad Hatters, Inverness
26 Apr @ Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
27 Apr @ King Tut's, Glasgow
1 May @ Pivo Pivo (Hinterland Festival), Glasgow

- Billy Hamilton

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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Make a date with our Gig Calendar

Gig calendarWith weekly, monthly, one-off and semi-regular gig nights clogging Scotland's pubs, clubs and venues, it's difficult to stay up-to-date with what's on tonight never mind next week.

How often do you notice one of your favourite up-and-coming bands are playing near you, the only problem being that the gig was last week, making your attendance impossible (unless you happen to own a De Lorean with a flux capacitor)?

So wouldn't it make sense to compile all the best Scottish gigs in one place, I hear you cry in melodramatic despair?

Well, yes of course it would, and that's why we've created the Under the Radar gig calendar.

As the more web-savvy of you might notice, it runs through Google's calendar system, which allows us to open it up to promoters and bands to add their own events.

We hope it will become a definitive, one-stop guide to planning your live music intake, and a useful shop window for Scotland's tireless promoters to plug their shows.

If you'd like to add an event, contact us at and we'll set you on your way.

What do you think? Genius idea or as practical as a chocolate teacup? Comment below people...


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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

On the radar: Esperi

EsperiSurprises keep life interesting, and this fact hasn't been lost on Chris Lee-Marr, singer-songwriter behind Carnoustie folk collective Esperi. There are no guarantees when it comes to their live show, and Lee-Marr believes it's this spontaneity that sets them apart:

"There is some obvious stuff [that makes us different], like I play bells with my feet whilst singing and playing guitar, and we use some interesting homemade instruments and a hydrophone, but also the fact that the live setup is always in constant flux.

"I play a lot of solo performances but also duets or there may be three, four or five of us using drums, harp, cello and bass with all the percussive and electronic trimmings."

Play: Esperi - Proverb

This seems to be what makes Esperi tick: the ability to shapeshift to suit their surroundings; a creative freedom that doesn't place too much stock in the conventions of music-making. They have been together three years now, and as well as Chris, Esperi includes his wife Cat and fellow members of The A Forest, Starling, Bullet Hell and Nomogram.

Lee-Marr cites his main influences as Mice Parade, Joanna Newsom, Adem and Iron and Wine, who he values for their "good musicianship and interesting approach". And with such experimental post-folk now seemingly leading the way, what does he make of the current Scottish music scene?

"I think it's great. All the bands we've played shows with recently (Meursault, De Rosa, Yahweh, Brother Louis Collective, The Kays Lavelle, Panda Su) have all been great and it's been a real pleasure performing alongside them."

Esperi currently have an EP out called 21:21 and are in the process of making their first album.

Play: Esperi - Dialled

Discover Esperi for yourself at one of the following shows:

13 April: Drouthy Neebor's, Dundee
16 April: Captain's Rest, Glasgow
24 April: Kinloch Arms, Carnoustie

- Nick Mitchell

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Newsflash: The Twilight Sad plot live return, finalise second album

The Twilight Sad

The Twilight Sad, Kilsyth's finest ear-blasting post-rockers, have announced their live return with a series of shows in May.

James Graham & co are currently putting the finishing touches to the follow-up to their debut LP Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, one of the standout albums of 2007 and an awesome mix of thundering guitar squalls, plaintive alt-folk and West Coast angst.

The band then jet off to America in support of Mogwai at the end of this month, but will return to our shores in May for what will surely be a thrilling series of dates across the UK.

Their Glasgow show forms part of the excellent mini-fest, Stag & Dagger, which moves north from London for the first time. We'll have more features on this nearer the time.

May dates are as follows:

Wed 13: Birmingham Rainbow
Thur 14: The Great Escape @ Brighton Water Margin
Fri 15: Cardiff Barfly
Sun 17: Oxford Bullingdon Arms
Mon 18: Nottingham Bodega
Tues 19: Southampton Joiners
Wed 20: Bristol Fleece
Thur 21: London Stag & Dagger
Fri 22: Leeds Stag & Dagger
Sat 23: Glasgow Stag & Dagger

Video: The Twilight Sad perform live in Aberdeen last year:

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Monday, 6 April 2009

On the radar: The Second Hand Marching Band

The Second Hand Marching Band

In a world where big is best but supersize is better, it seems strange that few acts exceeding the token four-member blueprint ever make the grade.

Perhaps it’s down to a lack of focal point, or maybe it’s just that most voluptuously numbered acts are cut from the same threadbare cloth as I’m from Barcelona and Polyphonic Spree? Either way, it’s difficult to think of many copiously membered bands who’ve achieved a success beyond freakish cult status.

The Second Hand Marching Band [TSHMB] may just change all that.

A fluid 22-piece ensemble made up of myriad groups from across the central belt [including Danananaykroyd, How to Swim and Q Without U], TSHMB’s traversing folk shanties are a thrilling skewer of swaying, earthy orchestration and climatic post-rock played the only way possible: at booming decibels.

Play: TSHMB - A Dance to Half Death

Accordion player Peter Liddle says of the band’s purpose: “We're doing what we do because every country should have a ridiculously sized indie/folk ensemble that actually play instruments and have songs. We want to create the overwhelming feelings in post-rock music with folk instruments as well as make dancing songs.”

They may be voluptuous in body but that doesn’t stop TSHMB producing deeply affective laments dextrous enough to flutter the strings of the heart and scuff up soles on the dance floor in one fell, melodic swoop.

Play: TSHMB - We Walk in the Room

Blessed with an array of instrumentation and a diverse cross section of inspirations, TSHMB are innately aware of the vantage point their girth provides: “Our band is different because we can produce a sound that other bands can't,” explains Pete. “We have different instruments and they can make a beautiful chorus that isn't possible on guitars.”

As for the future? Well, it’s all systems go according to Peter: “We want to make a few good recordings and we want our band to shape the scene here because, between us, our [20+] bands can share things a bit better and help each other with recordings.”

- Billy Hamilton

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Newsflash: Dananananoutnow!

One of our favourite new(ish) bands from Scotland (or anywhere for that matter), the massively monikered Dananananaykroyd, drop their highly anticipated debut album today.

For a band with the combined energy of Douneray and Sellafield (without the poisonous side-effects) and a prankster attitude that extends to their online forays, it's quite fitting that they've called it Hey Everyone!

So if you're feeling like a blast of fight pop, or thrash punk, or whatever you want to call their frenetic sound, you can buy the album here. As a tribute, here's the video to recent single Pink Sabbath:

Their official album launch is tonight at The Arches in Glasgow, and they play Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh tomorrow night.

Before we're accused of acting as Dananana's PR agent, we'd better inform you of what else is hitting shops as we type.

Well, keep your eyes peeled and your ears alert for a new single from Jesus H Foxx, an EP from Copy Haho, an album from Big Ned and, looking ahead, a single from Broken Records on May 11th - the title track from their upcoming album Until the Earth Begins to Part. We can hardly wait either.

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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Radar recommends: 5 - 11 April

Dead Boy Robotics
[Dead Boy Robotics: appearing at Limbo this week]

In the second instalment of our weekly gigs round-up we've broadened our scope beyond Auld Reekie to take in the best gigs wherever they are in the country. You'll notice that when we say 'country' we mean Edinburgh and Glasgow, but we did look for noteworthy gigs elsewhere without much success. Care to prove us wrong? Leave a comment below.

Fangs, Boycotts, Unicorn Kid and Findo Gask
Sun 5 Apr, King Tut's, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £tbc
Since their ill-fated attempt to win the praise of Alex James and the rest of the 'expert' judges on a certain TV 'talent' show, Fangs are back doing what they do best: strutting their flamboyant electro-punk stuff. And there's plenty more on offer: the urgent energy of Boycotts, teenage electro whizz Unicorn Kid and the toybox 'tronica of Findo Gask. [NM]

Remember Remember and Matt Elliott
Mon 6 Apr, Cassette, Glasgow. Doors 9pm, £3
Whoever said sellotape couldn't be a musical instrument (and someone must have) never heard Remember Remember. Graeme Ronald crafts his delicate songs from whatever comes to hand, and does it live, in front of your eyes, with loop pedals! At this gig he's playing with cosmopolitan troubadour Matt Elliott. [NM]

Tues 7 Apr, Cabaret Volitaire, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm, £7
In all honesty, Dananana’s epileptic thrash-rock should only appeal to a niche fitting few. But so infectious are the Glasgow ensemble’s lives shows, not to mention last year’s brilliant Sissy Hits EP, that the buzz around their debut long-player Hey Everyone! has reverberated like a beehive in a megaphone. So, the day after the record drops UtR advises you get your derrière down to Cabaret Voltaire to find out just what all the fuss is about – you won’t be disappointed. [BH]

Limbo featuring Paul Vickers & The Leg, Electronicat, Dead Boy Robotics
Thurs 9 Apr, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh. Doors 8pm, £4
As ever, Limbo pulls out all the stops with this exceptionally coined line-up. Headlined by abstract proto-punk yelpers Paul Vickers (last seen by UtR dressed in full panda bear attire) & the Leg, the undercard juxtaposes renowned Berliner Electronicat’s effects-skewered swathes against the throttling two-pronged synth assault of local lads Dead Boy Robotics. In short, this is going to be one hell of an evening. [BH]

[Dead Boy Robotics - Cloud Sequence Animals]

**UtR's gig of the week**
This Is Music: Chutes, The French Quarter
Fri 10th Apr, Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh. Doors 8pm , £3
A mainstay on the Edinburgh circuit for over two years, promoters This Is Music have put together a couple of Scotland’s finest young bands for this show. Teetering on the verge of a breakthrough for what’s seemed like aeons, Edinburgh five-piece Chutes are a maelstrom of taut melody and doom-saying lyrics that ignites the dancefloor like a guitar-slewing Molotov cocktail. More sombre but no less incessant, Tillicoultry quartet The French Quarter melt post-rock compositions with sloping, brush struck refrains to create a sound that, although innately Scottish, is utterly unique. [BH]

Glasgow PodcART presents Burning Codes, Robyn G Shiels and Yahweh

Sat 11 Apr, Stereo, Glasgow. Doors 7.30pm, £6
Like UtR, the people at Glasgow PodcART know a good thing when they hear it, and their podcast is an essential (and funny-as-hell) listen. Here they stage a showcase that spans the Irish sea, bringing you the best of Belfast (wistful one-time Snow Patrol cohort Burning Codes and the distinctive drawl of Robyn G Shiels) and Glasgow (one of the discoveries of the year in Yahweh, who we recently featured). [NM]

[Yahweh: The Wee Ending]

Aerials Presents: Great Eskimo Hoax, San Sebastian and Nacional
Sat 11 April, Cassette, Glasgow, £tbc
Combining Foals-y guitar interplay with winning harmonies, Great Eskimo Hoax are a pleasure to behold, and for this gig they are supported by two quality Scottish bands. San Sebastian make brooding, magnetic post-rock soundscapes, while Nacional bring their grandstanding indie home from SXSW. [NM]

Paper Planes, Foundling Wheel, Kung Fu, The Planes
Sat 11 Apr, Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm, £4
Sneaky Pete’s has become the place to be seen in Edinburgh these days and this ear-bleeding evening of noise mongers is no exception. Glasgow outfit Paper Planes are the big draw; spanking out a splurge of party hard art-punk a la Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But, before that, the Foundling Wheel’s Ted Koterwas will penetrate nervous systems with an agitated clash of electronica that besieges like a category five hurricane. Supported by The Planes and Kung Fu, this is a night to be heard and not scene. [BH]

[The Foundling Wheel - Out To See]

- Billy Hamilton & Nick Mitchell

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Thursday, 2 April 2009

On the radar: Rob St. John

Rob St John
Photograph: Ian Humberstone

Edinburgh’s music scene has been gathering momentum with such pace it could be pushing for a spot in the British sprinting team come the London Olympics.

Yet despite the spotlighting of bands like, the 4AD-signed, Broken Records and Song By Toad starlets Meursault, there remains a few uncovered gems in Auld Reekie’s buxom underground.

Rather perplexingly, Rob St. John [RSJ] is not one of those rough-edged diamonds - it’s six.

A fully functioning ensemble operating under the birth title of its song-writing vanguard, the sextet produces lilting folk compositions more brittle than a porcelain doll and just as expertly crafted.

Rob St. John, himself, tells UtR: “We try to play folk-based songs using interesting and unusual acoustic instruments - saw, harmonium, autoharp - highly influenced by minimalist, ambient and post-rock music. We’re interested in playing songs that have a great hook or melody, are orchestrated interestingly and are never over crowded by unnecessary instrumentation.”

Rob St. John - The Shipping Forecast from Song, by Toad.

Live, RSJ are simply pulse-stopping. Rob’s quivering intone coils around audiences like a wreath, while his cohorts [including members of local heroes eagleowl, Emily Scott , The Great Bear and Pineapple Chunks] tenderly orchestrate a graveyard of spellbinding, organic melody.

Rob St John - Like Alchemy

Refreshingly without motive, it seems RSJ make music for music’s sake. “Everyone has their own projects and we play primarily for fun, with no auspices or ego, and certainly no aspirations for fame,” explains Rob. “The fun of playing music where we are just now is that we get to travel to places to play shows with good and interesting people, hearing great music, and not losing too much money. If anyone enjoys what we’re doing, that’s a bonus.”

As an industrious part of Edinburgh’s subculture over the last five years, Rob’s buoyed by the Capital’s current musical rejuvenation: “It’s a fantastic place to be. I’d really recommend folk to look out for the burgeoning DIY scene in Edinburgh just now,” he enthuses. “I’m interested to see how the cross-over success of people like Broken Records, and the possible subsequent music press focus on Edinburgh will impact what’s going on. I think there’s such a diverse range of stuff going on just now that lazy, outside journalism and attempts to pigeonhole a ‘scene’ will fall very wide of the mark.“

Rob St John - Paper Ships

Discover Rob St. John for yourself at the following shows:

4 Apr @ The Bowery, Edinburgh
17 Apr @ Waid Academy (Fence Homegame), Anstruther
2 May @ Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh

By Billy Hamilton

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UtR newsflash: (Another) new gig night for Edinburgh


More proof of Edinburgh's burgeoning music scene arrives with the news of a brand new weekly gig night. The fact that Maggie's Chamber takes its name from a Kings of Leon song underpins the accessible nature of this free gig showcase, which launches this Friday (3rd April) in the 17th Century loft space above the Three Sisters pub on the Cowgate.

And what more apt way to kick off such a night than with the launch of an EP called Drinking Den, by local rockers Rieser? They will be ably supported by I Hear Echos and Ben Sturrock, so if you're not otherwise engaged by any of the other live music delights on offer (see Billy's gig guide), get down to Maggie's Chamber from 9pm.

Rieser - Drinking Den

Rieser - The Actor

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