Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Under the Radar podcast #2

Under the Radar PodcastLast month the famously provocative former NME writer Steven 'Swells' Wells died aged 49 after a battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma disease. His passing has led many to comment on the present state of music journalism and lament its apparent lack of authority and credibility, as a legion of bloggers threaten to swipe away the mantle of influence.

For our second podcast we investigate the situation in depth, enlisting viewpoints from both sides of the journos vs bloggers divide.

Billy has spoken to Mike Diver, former Drowned in Sound reviewer-in-chief and now online editor at Clash Magazine, and Matthew Young, the passionate blogger behind the influential, Edinburgh-based Song by Toad. Their answers make for a fascinating dissection of the future of music writing.

What's more, we have tracks by a fine array of UtR-tipped bands, including There Will Be Fireworks and Cancel the Astronauts, and we look forward to T in the Park with music from My Cousin I Bid You Farewell, Dead Boy Robotics and Tango in the Attic.

Enjoy, and let us know where you stand on the journo/blogger debate below...

Play: Podcast #2


Under the Radar podcast #2
(Right click and choose 'Save Target As' to save to your computer)

You can subscribe to the Under the Radar podcast at this link.

Running order:
01:20: There Will Be Fireworks - Foreign Thoughts
05:49: Cancel the Astronauts - Late in the City
10:34: Special report: music journalism v blogging (Mike Diver / Matthew Young)
20:18: Second Hand Marching Band - A Dance to Half Death
26:37: My Cousin I Bid You Farewell - The Contented Hearts
30:00: Dead Boy Robotics - We Drown Ourselves
32:59: Tango in the Attic - Jackanory

Words and Podcast: Billy Hamilton, Nick Mitchell

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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Radar recommends: 28 June - 4 July

There Will Be Fireworks
[There Will Be Fireworks: lighting the fuse on their debut album this week]

So farewell then, Michael Jackson. The twinkle-toed king of pop, who played Scotland just once at Glasgow Green in 1992, is no more. The question is, will any of our nation's up and coming musicians have a go at a Jacko cover this week? You'll have to get out there and find out for yourself.


Aberdeen

The Muscle Club, Get In Get Out, Come On Gang, :cryoverbillionaires
Wednesday @ Tunnels. Doors £
Welsh quartet headline, with support from local act Get In Get Out and highly touted Scots bands Come on Gang and :cryoverbillionaires.


Dundee

Unicorn Kid, I Wish I Was Weaver
Wednesday @ The Doghouse. Doors 6pm, £5
Sugar-fuelled electro-trancey-pop from teenage sensation Oliver Sabin, plus support from Arbroath-based I Wish I Was Weaver.

The Boycotts, Ross Clark and the Scarves Go Missing
Friday @ The Doghouse. Doors 8pm, £5.
The Boycotts’ hook infused indie-pop is as moreish as candyfloss, while UtR-touted RC&tSGM (nice acronym eh?) ply an eclectic brand of Americana.


Edinburgh

Duty Free: Lost Knives, Dupec
Sunday @ Cabaret Voltaire. Doors 7pm, £free
Mancunian pop from Lost Knives, plus talented Edinburgh indie-rockers Dupec, who we featured on this here blog last month.

I Heart Hirsohima, The Pineapple Chunks
Tuesday @ The Bowery. Doors 7.30pm, £6
Aussie slacker-rock from Hiroshima, with support from fruity Edinburghers The Pineapple Chunks.

We See Lights
Thursday @ Wee Red Bar. Doors 8pm, £4
We See Lights are "connected by the Forth River" and make chiming, folky indie.

Brother Louis Collective, Little Kicks, Saint Jude's Infirmary
Thursday @ Sneaky Pete's. Doors 7pm, £5.
Brother Louis Collective do polished indie with a Scottish accent, flute and piano, and will play the T Break tent at a certain festival next month. What's more, you get to see a band we recommended only last week, Aberdeen's Little Kicks, and perennial local favourites St Jude's.

The Skinny Dip: The Twilight Sad, Adam Stafford, The Foundling Wheel
Thursday @ Bongo Club. Doors 7.30pm, £10
We can hardly stop listening to the two new tracks that have appeared on The Twilight Sad's MySpace of late, and with a hugely anticipated album on the way, this is a real coup for The Skinny's fledgling gig night. As if that wasn't enough, you also get a solo set from Y'All is Fantasy Island's Adam Stafford and experimental sounds from The Foundling Wheel.

Dog Tired
Friday @ Bannermans. Doors 9pm, £free
For thrashing, shouty tattooed heavy metal, you can't beat Dog Tired. Screaming guitars, thrumming bass complimented by comprehensible lyrics - what more could a metalhead ask for? Well, a debut album due to be released this year is one thing, and a gig which promises a 'groove-ridden, train wreck of a sound' is another. An unrelenting, driving cacophony of pure noise should top that off nicely. Dog Tired are playing Bannerman's with Battle of the War Machines. Yes, you will want to start a pit, so get your metal groove on and check them out. [KS]

:cryoverbillionaires
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's. Doors 7pm, £5
:cryoverbillionaires mix it up a bit; a psychedelic wall of sound battling with hints of dance, drum and bass and topped off with swooping choruses. Add to this their lyrical soundness and impressive skill when it comes to musical experimentation, and you have a band not to be ignored. [KS]

Neoviolet
Saturday @ The Ark Doors 7.30pm, £4
Neoviolet are an indie rock three-piece with a lightly folky tinge. Slowly but surely making their mark across Edinburgh's pubs and clubs, they combine relaxing, jangling guitars with intense, angsty lyrics. If you're a fan of pitch-perfect harmonies and fancy blending this with a smooth undertone of cello, then catch the band at the Ark on 4th July for a reassuringly laid-back gig from a band who have very much found and filled their chilled-out niche. [KS]


Glasgow

Limbo: Zoey Van Goey, Isosceles, Punch And The Apostles, Haight-Ashbury, A-lix, Cancel The Astronauts and Thieves In Suits
Sunday @ Stereo. Doors 8pm, £5
The lauded Edinburgh gig night moves west for a one-off special to give their recent live album an official launch in Glasgow, with a line-up that reads like a who's who of emergent Scottish indie-pop talent.

Jocasta Sleeps
Sunday @ Nice'n'Sleazy. Doors 7.30pm, £tbc
Glasgow alt-rockers launch their new single 'Crayfish'.

The Darien Venture, We Are Trapped In Kansas, We Hung Your Leader and City of Statues
Sunday @ The Twisted Wheel. Doors 8pm, £free
The Darien Venture are in the melodic indie-punk racket, and they are joined by the superb math-rock outfit Trapped in Kansas, blistering rockers WHYL and City of Statues.

**UtR's gig of the week**
There Will Be Fireworks, Lions.Chase.Tigers, We Hung Your Leader
Wednesday @ Nice'n'Sleazy. Doors 7.30pm, £5
The thrilling TWBF launch their jaw-droppingly good self-titled debut album, with support from one of our favourites, Lions.Chase.Tigers, and the aforementioned We Hung Your Leader.

*Check the blog this week for an exclusive track-by-track album preview from Fireworks singer Nicholas McManus.

Jocky Ventakaram and The Mickey 9s
Friday @ Pivo Pivo. Doors 8pm, £3/2
Album launch for the enigmatic, Malcolm Middleton-influenced Ventakaram.


Words: Nick Mitchell, Kirstyn Smith

What have we missed? Tell us below, or add it to our gig guide by emailing utr.scotsman@gmail.com

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Saturday, 27 June 2009

Tweet Nothings, feat. Frightened Rabbit, The Vaselines, De Rosa

Tweet NothingsWe could sense the anticipation building in the blogosphere, but the wait is over. It's time for part deux of our now regular (until the sheer inanity of it all hits us like a Tyson uppercut to the chin) Twitter round-up. This week: band news, recommendations and even a spot of film criticism.


Tango in the Attic have a hair-raising time in Stirling...
@TangointheAttic: Just back from Cape in Stirling - fun gig, the mics gave us all electric shocks! Ouch!"

Miss the Occupier set up Twitter account, fail to tweet...
@MisstheOccupier: "______________"

Come on John B McKenna! We're not as bright as you...
@JohnBMcKenna: "Annona humboldtii Dunal [Monogr. Anonac. 64, t. 3. 1817] (= Annona humboldtiana Kunth)"

Frightened Rabbit threaten to go all Big Brother on us...
@FRabbits: "Getting a camera tomorrow so we might film ourselves making dinner if that's ok with you? Suggestions for ingredients welcome..."

While My Latest Novel threaten to go all rap on us...
@MyLatestNovel: "On the way home from our session for Marc Riley on 6Music. Felt good. Real good. In the hood. Don't be rude."

Jonathon of My Cousin I Bid You Farewell consults his inner film critic...
@mcibyf: "Michael Bay needs an editor badly. Seriously. I completely lost interest. I miss the theme tune too. 'Transformers! Robots in Disguise!"

We Were Promised Jetpacks big up their Mancunian contemporaries...
@wwpj: "In case anyone was curious, Tell You So by The Longcut is the best song ever."

The Gothenburg Address make a half-hearted attempt at a gig plug...
@gothenaddy: "playing 13th Note this wednesday .. come doon .. unless your at the ATP premiere .. which would be understandable .. "

The Vaselines have some good news...
@the_vaselines: "We've been writing new tunes this evening. Cant wait to finish them so we can play them for you. Soon."

While De Rosa have some bad news...
@wearederosa: "To all who listened. De Rosa has come to an end. If you liked our music or came to see us play we'd like to thank you all. Goodbye, De Rosa."

Words: Nick Mitchell (and Twitter)

Musicians of Scotland: Tweet something interesting/funny/newsworthy this week and you too could feature in Tweet Nothings. Just think how proud your Mum will be.

Spotted any other tweeting gems we've missed out on? Share your favourite weekly tweets with us below...

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Friday, 26 June 2009

On the radar: Beerjacket

Beerjacket
[Beerjacket photographed by Lisa-Marie Ferla]

Play: Drum


Becoming a singer/songwriter, on the face of it, seems easy. Get a guitar, learn a few minor chords, let some feelings out.

However, once you have seen it done well, you realise how much talent is actually required. There is no hiding place when you do everything on your own, and there are few in Scotland right now who do it better than Peter Kelly.

Beerjacket, the name of Kelly’s homemade solo project, very nearly disappeared soon after it began. It started in 2004 “as a goodbye to music...a bitter farewell show”, after which he planned to stop for good. Thankfully, enough people liked the show to keep the project alive and, five years on, Beerjacket is still going.

Although he plays most of his live shows in Glasgow, Kelly says he can’t claim to be a Glasgow musician as he doesn’t spend much time there. Instead, “Beerjacket happens alone in a toy room in Lanarkshire,” he says.

His most recent album, Animosity, is a return to simplicity after Kelly felt previous work had become overcomplicated. The songs have the classic singer/songwriter appeal: simultaneously sad and uplifting. ‘Violent’ and ‘Drum’ perfectly sum up the honest tone of the album, whilst ‘The Gun’ is moralistic without any accompanying righteousness.

The album attains considerable diversity in its ten tracks too, especially on ‘Evil Air’, which adds colourful bluesy edges thanks to some neat slide guitar work.

The stripped-down, back to basics approach is certainly noticeable; Kelly describes his set-up as “one the most primitive you’re likely to find – acoustic guitar, vocal and foot-stomped tambourine”. The one-to-one feel of this minimal intervention policy gives his lyrics more immediacy.

There is also something hugely appealing about an artist who has decided to go it alone. As Kelly says, “I have opened for many of my heroes like Feist, The National, Kristin Hersh, Rilo Kiley and Arab Strap, released six albums and received airplay all over the world. And all this without a manager, PR, publisher, record label, agent or other band members to thank or blame.”

Kelly is also keen to praise those he has worked with: “I’ve been fortunate in playing with many of my influences. They have all inspired me”. The Second Hand Marching Band opened a show for him recently and also played along on a Beerjacket cover, which pleased Kelly to the extent that he forgot the words to his own song.

If comparisons are to be made, then the most obvious, in terms of style, seems to be Elliott Smith. But the tagline of ‘the new Elliott Smith’ has weighed heavily, usually unhelpfully, on many artists before. Kelly’s work stands alone perfectly well.

In a cluttered genre, Beerjacket has emerged as one of Scotland’s best singer/songwriters. Going it alone is a brave decision, but his work demands recognition. Wherever he goes next, it is sure to be well worth following.

The new Beerjacket album Animosity was released digitally on 8th June on iTunes, eMusic, LaLa and Amazon MP3. A limited edition digipack CD of the album will be in independent record shops soon.

Play: Violent


Words: Stevie Kearney

What do you think of one of Scotland's best new singer/songwriters? Discuss...

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In pictures: All Tomorrow's Parties film premiere / Mogwai



The Edinburgh International Film Festival embraced its musical side on Wednesday night, with the UK premiere of All Tomorrow's Parties, a documentary that lovingly edited down over 200 hours of fans' footage from the festival of the same name, and featured the likes of Belle & Sebastian, The Boredoms, Nick Cave and John Cooper Clarke.

Along with a range of Butlins-style entertainment (bingo, donkeys, cabaret etc) presented by Future Cinema at the HMV Picture House, Glasgow post-rockers Mogwai played a mesmerising live set after the film that included tracks like Hunted By a Freak and Glasgow Mega Snake.

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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Full Metal Racket: An introduction to Scottish metal, part two

Bonesaw
[Bonesaw]

Jodi Mullen returns with the second installment of his introductory guide to the more extreme forms of rock music in Scotland, from folk/battle to drone/doom, with a few choice recommendations thrown in.

Warning: if you think Muse are too 'rawk', you may want to go away until normal indie-centric programming is resumed tomorrow. Feeling brave? Read on...


Somehow, in spite of all the apathy and adversity, metal in Scotland has not only survived and endured, it has thrived. Each of our major cities has a rich and vibrant metal underground, focused around a handful of venues and extremely dedicated fan communities. Glasgow is the undisputed jewel in Scottish metal's spiked crown, being the home of perhaps our most successful metal act, Man Must Die (more below) and a regular stop-over for the metal world's biggest touring acts. The city is also home to bands that span the full spectrum of subgenres: death metallers Madman is Absolute, folk/battle metal outfit Alba Gu Brath and black metal titans Daemonolith are just a few acts out of dozens.

Play: Madman is Absolute - Resolution


As well as a plethora of rock and metal bars, Glasgow plays host to a number of small to medium-sized venues that specialise in the most extreme forms of music. Ivory Blacks, The Cathouse, Captain's Rest and Maggie May's form the backbone of the city's gigging circuit for metal acts, though many more venues feature prominently too.

The metal scene in Edinburgh perhaps isn't quite as vibrant, particularly with the announcement last month that popular rock and metal club Studio 24 was set to lose its license. Bannerman's remains a favourite for extreme acts and regularly hosts shows with some of the most interesting and varied lineups around. While the capital may not have quite the same number of metal bands as Glasgow, it is home to some of the more eclectic bands in the Scottish underground, including drone/doom instrumental act Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead.

Proving perhaps that there is something about the frozen north that brings out the metal spirit, Aberdeen has one of Scotland's longest established scenes, with venues like The Moorings becoming institutions in their own right alongside the likes of Moshulu and The Tunnels. Local favourites Black Atom seem to have been on the verge of becoming the next big thing for well over half a decade while death metal outfit Bonesaw are one of the country's most brutal acts. Meanwhile, Ascension, one of Scotland's finest power metal acts split their time between Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Play: Bonesaw - Necrosexual


Outside the big three cities, smaller scenes exist in Dundee - home to traditional metallers Swordmaster - Perth and Inverness with various other acts coming from small towns all over the country, including What The Blood Revealed, a post-metal act who call Irvine, Ayrshire their home.

Over the next few months, Under the Radar will be examining Scotland's emerging metal scene in detail, starting out with a look at the country's ferocious death metal community next month. In the meantime though, we introduce two of the very best homegrown acts who are currently flying the flag for Scottish metal around Europe...


Alestorm

AlestormWith the release of their second album, Black Sails at Midnight, Perth's Alestorm look set to become the latest Scottish act to make it big on the international metal scene. Branding themselves "True Scottish Pirate Metal", the four-piece play upbeat, traditional heavy metal with strong influences from the worlds of power metal and folk music. Alestorm revel in their ludicrously over-the-top buccaneer image; band members take to the stage dressed as pirates and song titles like 'Wenches and Mead' and 'Keelhauled' are the order of the day, though a reworking of 'Flower of Scotland' has been known to creep onto live setlists every now and then. Signed to Austrian independent metal label Napalm Records, Alestorm will join legendary Finnish folk-metallers Korpiklaani on the Paganfest tour of Europe this autumn.

Man Must Die

Man Must DieFour young men from Glasgow with a penchant for loud noise and violence? Who would have thought it? Man Must Die's star has been in the ascendancy for several years now, during which time the band has landed much coveted support slots with the likes of Kataklysm and Aborted but forthcoming album No Tolerance For Imperfection will hopefully see them becoming one of death metal's leading lights in their own right. Driven by crushing riffs, Man Must Die's brand of death metal is unrelentingly brutal and aggressive and frequently delves into the kind of grisly lyrical subject matter for which the genre has become infamous. Matters of taste aside though, one can't help but admire some of the virtuoso musicianship on display as the band push their instruments and themselves to new heights of extremity.

Words: Jodi Mullen

Metal: music to your ears or unbearable racket? Discuss...

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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

On the radar: Dead Boy Robotics

Dead Boy Robotics

Play: We Drown Ourselves (Cartographer Exhales)


Today's rock stars take themselves way too seriously.

There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with po-faced tune-smugglers turning pious philanthropists, it’s just that some folk should really stick to what they do best - isn’t that right Messers Yorke and Hewson?

Thankfully, Edinburgh’s Dead Boy Robotics [DBR] have no desire to save the world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: “We're cyborgs sent from the future to terminate Sarah Connor,” jests non-android frontman Gregor McMillan. “We got a bit sidetracked by music though. We'll have a cameo in Terminator 5.”

Despite this screwball front, a steely determination has underlined DBR’s progress since McMillan and comrade-in-tune Mike Bryant first converged in 2007. Bound by the idea of making guitars squeal like Gameboys, the duo have rapidly escalated from late night drone to melody laced avant-gardism and cemented themselves as one of the capital’s most alluring live spectacles.

“I guess it's the need to always be doing something creative,” says McMillan , musing over DBR’s raison d’être. We've both been involved in art or music some way or another since high school. I don't think that need will ever go away. Making music together is just one of the ways we fill that need.”

But it’s not just music they create; it’s wonky sonic sears that hit home with bullwhip precision. A cross-sworded cluster of palpitating electronica and dissipating pummel, DBR tip their hats to the likes of Animal Collective and, fellow decibel-hunters, HEALTH while retaining their own inimitable persona.

Not that McMillan considers DBR to be a unique proposition: “I see similarities in our music with lots of bands we listen to so I couldn't confidently say we were different from anything else out there,” he states modestly. “Although it may not be obvious we've a very experimental band, always playing with sounds and texture... Our next song might be a Casio-rap song or a screamy-folk ditty, although thinking about it, they both sound terrible. I guess that makes us different.”

As an essential cog in Edinburgh’s much touted Bear Scotland, DBR are vehement flag bearers for the local scene: “It's a very exciting time for Scottish music,” enthuses McMillan. “There's so many wonderful people and creative minds making music out there. All the Bear Scotland bands [Meursault, Withered Hand, Foundling Wheel & Enfant Bastard] are doing something important right now and are magical live.”

With DBR’s own aural magic set to sprinkle over this year’s T in the Park, McMillan’s hoping the Balado jamboree will bring with it a little consistency: “We can be really shambolic one gig and note perfect the next but always entertaining - we hope,” he explains. “If something goes wrong we'll just make a joke of it and keep going. The majority of our set will be new songs so it will be great to play them over a huge PA. We're there to have fun and that's the main thing.”

Like what you hear? Catch Dead Boy Robotics at the following shows:

25 Jun @ 13th Note, Glasgow
10 Jul @ T in the Park, Balado
24 Jul @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh

Play: As Children We Fear The Dark (part 1)


Words: Billy Hamilton

Are you going to see these music making machines at TITP? Let us know below...

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Full Metal Racket: An introduction to Scottish metal, part one

Alestorm
[Alestorm: 'pirate metal' from Perth]

Metal is a much maligned, often ignored genre, with a public image soured by the sweaty whiff of ageing men with long hair and leather jackets. So to counter this injustice, Under the Radar has recruited metal obsessive Jodi Mullen as our brand new metal columnist/blogger/reporter.

In part one of his introduction today he argues the case for metal in general, before he launches into a comprehensive guide to the best Scottish metal bands in part two.

***

Almost since its inception 40 years ago, heavy metal has been considered the ugly red-headed stepchild of the music industry. Often scorned and always misunderstood by the mainstream music press, the genre has largely been left to forge its own path over the last two decades, driven more by musical innovation and an obsessive fanbase than by critical or commercial pressures.

And in the underground, metal has remained one of the most creative and inventive forms of modern music, propelled by cultural and ideological movements over the last twenty five years. Musicians have pushed themselves, their instruments and even conventional definitions of what counts as music in an effort to push back sonic boundaries and explore the furthest depths of extremity. The genre has even expanded to take in influences from classical music, folk and jazz. Under the radar of the mainstream music press, a global metal underground has spawned, reaching from Scandinavia to South America and Tokyo to Tayside.

Few will deny that trying to pin down exactly what metal is and define precise relationships between its countless sub-genres is a difficult task at best and downright impossible at worst. Similarly, it's difficult to speak of a metal scene in Scotland at all without taking into account the almost mind-boggling degree of fragmentation and cross-pollination of sub-genres that makes extreme metal so dynamic and yet so confusing at the same time. Even within individual Scottish cities, the metal community can be split in ways that reflect historic ideological and stylistic differences between sub-genres, with some sub-communities almost totally estranged from others.

Naturally this fragmentation of audiences and performers alike causes headaches for promoters. While some sub-genres may be collectively interpreted as a continuum of extremity - most notably the progression from thrash to death metal to grindcore - and lend themselves to broadly similar audiences, other acts are so isolated from the rest of the scene, both musically and ideologically, that attempting to fit them together on the same bill tends to be a risky and haphazard affair. Though many progressive and post-metal acts can happily slot into a standard rock running order as an exotic curiosity, the sonic and philosophical nihilism of black metal and the full-body assault on the senses that is drone are are so alienated from accepted musical aesthetics as to make them seemingly impossible to fit onto a bill.

Unlike parts of mainland Europe where metal is firmly entrenched in popular culture and is a regular presence both in the charts and on mainstream radio - particularly in Scandinavia, Germany and Greece - the British and Scottish public have long remained uneasy about the genre as a whole, particularly in a live context. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to acceptance is the sheer extremity of the music itself. Even for many of Scotland's most adventurous and enlightened gig-goers, the fact remains that a steady diet of blast beats, guttural howls and downtuned guitars does not a good Friday night make.

Metal also has something of an image problem and though personal experience would suggest that this is, for the most part, an unjustified and puerile stereotype perpetuated by an unsympathetic media, the antiquated notion of grimy bars populated by leather-clad men with a penchant for long hair, beards and casual violence remains. The upshot is that many of Scotland's most popular smaller venues are off limits to all but the most prestigious of unsigned metal acts, making it more difficult for bands to gain exposure and offset the numerous negative connotations the genre has managed to pick up over the years, deservedly or otherwise.

MastodonPress coverage of metal tends to be erratic, at best. Mainstream publications occassiaonally adopt poster boys for the inventiveness of genre as a whole, Mastodon (pictured, right), Isis and Sunn O))) being the most recent examples of this particular phenomenon. Much of the rest of the time, however, music journalists prefer to give metal a wide berth, only occasionally descending from their ivory towers to pass judgement on the latest release from Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer or some other behemoth of yesteryear and roll out the same tired old cliches about men in their forties trying to recapture teenage glories.

In Scotland, metal coverage in the mainstream media has begun to gradually improve over the last year or so but all too often exciting and innovative bands go uncovered, even when on the verge of reaching critical mass internationally. Perth 'pirate metal' pioneers Alestorm have been a regular fixture in the likes of Terrorizer and Zero Tolerance, Britain's two most respected specialist extreme metal magazines, for well over two years and appeared at some of Europe's most prestigious metal festivals last summer yet only recently received their first feature piece in The List.

Here at Under the Radar, however, we aim to showcase the best of Scotland's underground metal talent over the coming months, taking in everything from black metal to grindcore in our quest to discover why this most-maligned of genres is at the forefront of musical innovation north of the border.

Read the second part of Jodi's report on Thursday...

Metal: criminally ignored or rightfully panned? Discuss...

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De Rosa call it a day

De Rosa

Apparently people close to the band have known for some time, but today Lanarkshire band De Rosa announced to the world via Twitter that they have decided to split:

"To all who listened. De Rosa has come to an end. If you liked our music or came to see us play we'd like to thank you all. Goodbye, De Rosa."

The Chemikal Underground-signed act had already cancelled appearances at Hinterland and a festival in Spain earlier this year due to "unforseen personal circumstances", but the news of their decision will no doubt come as a shock to fans.

De Rosa had been gaining steady acclaim in the wake of their first two albums, Mend and Prevention, and had recently supported Doves for part of their UK tour.

We wish the De Rosa guys all the best for the future.

And as a tribute, here's the video of the track Camera from a few years back:



Words: Nick Mitchell

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Monday, 22 June 2009

On the radar: Big Wave

Big Wave

Play: Why Not Know


Haddington based four-piece Big Wave have been together, on and off, for five years and are something a bit different from our regular content here on Under the Radar.

Big Wave are, shall we say, a bit older than most of the bands currently gigging their way around Edinburgh. Lead singer Mike Cullen even jokes that guitar and mandolin player Wesley Bradd was only recruited as, “a statistical need to bring down the average age”.

Wisecracks aside, frontman Cullen has a very interesting background. Having left school at 16 to work as an electrician in a coal mine, he later returned to education to gain a degree in linguistics from Edinburgh University. Writing plays was the next calling, winning a Fringe First award in 1997 and also becoming writer in residence at the capital’s Traverse Theatre. In addition, Cullen has written for television, creating the series Donovan and writing eight episodes of Scottish favourite Taggart.

So, how does this literary background affect his work? “Perhaps our songs achieve a literal edge that sets them apart from others," says Cullen. “I'm generally driven in all of my writing by a desire to comment on major moral or political issues in the modern world, particularly concerning those aspects of the human race I find disturbing or wrong.”

And with age comes wisdom; Big Wave are not afraid to tackle big issues in their songs. At the recent Meadows Festival, their announcement that the next track would be a protest song was greeted with jubilation by one inebriated section of the crowd, despite not knowing what the band were protesting about. It seems there is an appetite for protest, in any form.

Citing influences such as Roxy Music, The Jam, Thin Lizzy and Morrisey, some of Big Wave’s work has the classic rock 'n' roll feel of the Rolling Stones, with Bradd’s mandolin work adding a bit of an REM feel to proceedings. It is a genre which is largely ignored by the music press these days, but there is nothing like feel good rock'n'roll to bring a smile to your face.

As an experienced figure on the local music scene, Cullen is critical of the 'pay to play' culture which he sees emerging, where "bands are being exploited, in that nobody has to pay for a band, because they all want to play, and they'll do it for free, as we do, because we all love it”.

Cullen has seen first hand, through theatre and television, how funding can help the arts: “It would be good to see some arts council funding for venues that are dedicated to putting on music for music’s sake.”

Until then, Big Wave will continue doing what they love. In their own words: “We honestly do it for the sake of making music; we're not driven by the usual ambitions of fame, or wealth, or even politics, despite some of our material being quite political. We want to be a good band, and probably have enough experience now to be able to judge what that is”.

Big Wave are due to release their debut album later this year.

Intrigued? Watch Big Wave live at The Ark, Edinburgh on 17 July.

Words: Stevie Kearney

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Sunday, 21 June 2009

Radar recommends: 21-27 June

Paper Planes
[Paper Planes: gliding into Stereo on Saturday]

Like last week when we trialled our bigger, longer, uncut gig round-up for the first time, we've gone for the wide-screen approach once again. Here you'll find everything from hyperactive electro-pop to brooding singer-songwriters, with some disco-punk thrown in, so there's no excuses for staying in and watching Big Brother - not that there ever is.


Aberdeen

Unicorn Kid,Soft Toy Emergency, Get in Get Out
Wednesday@ Moshulu. Doors 7pm, £5

Digitised hyperactivity from this sickeningly gifted Auld Reekie school-kid. He’s got a pretty nifty taste in head gear too.

The Debuts, Free Korps
Friday@ Moshulu. Doors 7.30pm, £5
Wonky, synth-infused indie rock from this anthem-hankering Edinburgh outfit who recall The Jam and, more awkwardly, The View. A good or bad thing? You decide...

Edinburgh

Tenteleni Charity Fundraiser: My Kappa Roots, We See Lights, Seven Deadly Sins
Sunday @ Cabaret Voltaire. Doors 7pm, £5
A delectable soiree of local songsmiths, all in the name of charity. Can’t really grumble at that can you?

Limbo: Joe Gideon & The Shark, Sarah & The Snakes, Paper Planes, Duke Garwood Thursday @ Voodoo Rooms. Doors 8pm, £6
The final Limbo before the lads take a well-earned summer sojourn is shaping up to be a scorcher, abounding with babbling pslams (Joe Gideon...) and cranked-up sonics (Sarah & The Snakes, Paper Planes). Trust us, you don’t want to miss this curtain closing spectacular.

The Boycotts, King Hats, The Marvels
Thursday @ Sneaky Pete’s. Doors 7pm, £TBC
The Boycotts’ hook infused indie-pop is as moreish as candyfloss, while The King Hats fashion out angular throbs that recall early-days Placebo. All in all, an intriguing juxtaposition.

Jocasta Sleeps, Curators, Cielo Drive
Friday @ Sneaky Pete’s. Doors 7pm, £5
Expect a wash of rankled guitars and heart-felt crooning from decibel-fondling Glaswegians Jocasta Sleeps. Edinburgh’s Curators and Cielo Drive provide less polished but equally as frenetic support.


Glasgow

The Moth & the Mirror, Endor and Hindle Wakes
Monday @ Captain's Rest. Doors 8pm, £4
Quirky collective The Moth & the Mirror include members of Make Model and Brother Louis Collective, and vocalist Stacey once introduced Arab Strap to their feminine side. Indie-folk stylings from Endor and Hindle Wakes.

Codes in the Clouds, Soothsayer, Hen Night and Katerwaul
Tuesday @ The 13th Note Café. Doors 9pm, £4
In the mood for dynamic-heavy, air-cracking post-rock? Then Kent's Codes in the Clouds are the band for you. Of the support, Soothsayer are more melodic, Hen Night make scuzzy grunge-punk (not karaoke music as you might expect) while Aberdeen's Katerwaul indulge in off-key twinklings and shuddering guitar blasts.

De Rosa
Tuesday @ Oran Mor. Doors 7.30pm, £6
The latest Chemikal-championed band perform tracks from their two superb albums.
*Update* According to this Drowned in Sound message thread, De Rosa have split up, and fans can claim refunds for this gig. Sad news.

The Gothenburg Address, Tempercalm, The Colin Hunter Band and What the Blood Revealed
Wednesday @ The 13th Note Café. Doors 9pm, £4/£3
We like The Gothenburg Address. They make chilly, ethereal soundscapes.

**UtR's gig of the week**
Ross Clark & The Scarfs Go Missing, Sparrow & the Workshop, There Will be Fireworks
Wednesday @ Oran Mor. Doors 7.30pm, £5
We praised Ross Clark's "eclectic brand of Americana" a while back, and here he heads up a stonking bill. Sparrow & the Workshop are winning plaudits from all and sundry for their modern country & western, and TWBF are a band not to miss, with a sound that roams from plaintive paeans to stratospheric guitars.

Union of Knives, Ming Ming & the Ching Chings, Indian Red Lopez
Thursday @ King Tut's. Doors 8.30pm, £7
Dirty electro rock is the order of the day from Union of Knives; the Ming Mings are one of our own UtR bands (we claim them all y'see) and Indian Red Lopez are an Aberdeen band who make lean indie-dance with processed beats.

Wake the President, Peter Parker
Friday @ Captain's Rest. Doors 8pm, £4
Calling all fans of chiming guitars, post-punk intellect and wry lyricism: go see Wake the President. Peter Parker, meanwhile, are a primitive, raucous all-girl punk-pop trio.

Pinup Nights Festival: Nevada Base, Lost Knives, RBRBR, MJ Hibbett
Friday @ The Flying Duck. Doors 9pm, £5
Guitars and synths collide in the clinical stylings of Nevada Base, Lost Knives are a thumping Mancunian quartet, and Edinburghers RBRBR make synth-pop with a sense of humour.

Lord Cut-Glass
Saturday @ King Tut's. Doors 8.30pm, £8
Former Delgados man Alun Woodward's latest musical project. Read The Scotsman's interview here.

Paper Planes, Pooch, French Wives
Saturday @ Stereo. Doors 8pm, £5
Not one, not two, but three UtR bands on one bill. Wowza. Read more here, here and here.


Stirling

Tango in the Attic
Sunday @ Cape. Doors 8pm, £tbc
Before they get their big 'T Break' at a certain music festival, Glenrothes' finest band since, er, Sergeant, preview their boptastic, Vampire Weekend-esque wares.

Malcolm Middleton
Friday @ Tolbooth. Doors 8pm, £12/10
We can never resist plugging one of Malcy's shows, especially since the one-time Arab Strap man has vowed to put a hold on his solo career after this album and this could be your last chance to see him for a while. Unless you live in Aberdeen, where he plays The Tunnels the following night.

Words: Nick Mitchell, Billy Hamilton

What have we missed? Tell us below, or add it to our gig guide by emailing utr.scotsman@gmail.com

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Saturday, 20 June 2009

Tweet nothings, feat. Camera Obscura, Dananananaykroyd, The Twilight Sad

Tweet Nothings
With the world living in a nutshell of 140 character statements, getting to the good stuff can be a laborious chore - particularly if, like us, your mum has posted her 1000th account of the cat's bowel movements. But never fear dear reader, we here at UtR have sifted through the Twitter tripe to bring to you an essential weekly round-up of your favourite musical miscreants' idle-thumbed tweets....


Camera Obscura get narcissistic regret...
@camera_obscura: "so. watching yourself on telly is like watching yourself on youtube or looking in the mirror. but worse."

A less than explanatory Dananananaykroyd say adios to bassist Laura...
@dananananaykroy: "Eh, aye, so.. yeah."

The mighty Cancel The Astronauts get some overdue media lovin'...
@canceltheastros: "Tom Robinson's playing us on BBC Introducing tonight! And Steve Lamacq's playing a clip of Fanclub on his show. On Radio 1. That's mental."

Debutant slowly fathoms Twitter and all its meaningless glory...
@debutantmusic: "Twitter confuses me. I wish I was more technology savvy. How do I direct a tweet at a particular person? Technology really is wasted on me".

Best web 2.0-speak ramble of the week comes from Findo Gask...
@wearefindogask: "Hey internet ppz, practice today was an "EPIC FAIL". Hilariously graceless reworks of popular rock songs then sausages".

Edinburgh's The Banana Sessions look for some fee-less PR...
@bananasessions: "We need some snappy way to describe what we sound like... Any suggestions? Multi genre hybrids allowed. Answers on a tweet...".

Pooch give us a fascinating insight into to the culinary habits of a disco-punk band:
@poochtheband: "Having pizza before playin sleazys...roddy + steve have used 'my dad rocks' half price vouchers. Not enjoying being a wife!"

We Are The Physics take the tone down...
@wearethephysics:"We're all going round to Michaelguitar's house tonight to record a song about dildonics. We'll let you know the euphoric results".

While The Twilight Sad find themselves pigeonholed in the UK's biggest weekly music rag...
@thetwilightsad: "
the nme describe us as "awe-metal" and say our epic angst comes from "the fear of cocktail parties or of group oral sex."

to which the Twilight boys retort...
@thetwilightsad: "
we're big fans of both "cocktail parties" and "group oral sex."

And finally...

To fuzz, or not to fuzz? That was RBRBR's dilemma of the week...
@RBRBR: "
Sorry, in a band of 5, would a fourth beard be a beard too many?"

Words: Billy Hamilton (and Twitter)

Spotted any other tweeting gems we've missed out on? Share your favourite weekly tweets with us below...

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Friday, 19 June 2009

On the radar: The Little Kicks

The Little Kicks

Play: Don't Give Up So Easily


The internet may have changed the way people listen to music, but when Aberdeen band The Little Kicks were devising their debut album, they looked to the past for a template.

"We're treating it like an old vinyl LP with two sides - five songs on each side, no longer than 50 minutes and every song to be a winner," says singer Steven Milne.

"People's attention span is small now - iPod culture - so I guess our thinking isn't going with the trend, but we all feel there's nothing better than finding a great album with good songs that flow as an album should, and not just the singles with shitloads of filler in between."

The tight-knit quartet have steadily built a reputation as ones to watch over the past few years, and said debut album, Boxing Clever, has been delayed by near incessant gigging.

"We've been concentrating on writing and recording for the last, well ages," Steven admits. "Last year we said we'd just record and not gig but then we did a heap of gigs and festivals and a wee tour or two. It seems whenever we're meant to be on a break to work on material we always get offered really good gigs so we come out of hiding then retreat again - constantly."

But between October last year and April they finally managed to find the time for their long-awaited LP, and it was worth it: Boxing Clever is an accomplished, melodic collection of high-end, upbeat guitar-pop songs; a record that dips its toe in both carefree joie-de-vivre and heartfelt expressiveness.

Steven is keen to get out and tour it: "I certainly feel like we are playing our best material now and its just up to us to put the work in, gig our asses off and convert the masses if possible. It certainly sounds more productive than waiting for something to happen - I think bands can achieve a lot themselves now."

But is it more difficult for an Aberdeen band to achieve as much as their less remote contemporaries? "It probably is but you can work around it," Steven says. "I mean, there are no industry people up here to speak of so you really have to play out of town if you're going to get noticed. But Glasgow and Edinburgh aren't that far away, we happily drive down and back the same night to do shows and keep work commitments too. It's a stress and you're tired but if you want the benefit you have to do it."

Intrigued? Watch The Little Kicks live at the following dates:

23 Jun @ Bar 99, Aberdeen (acoustic)
2 Jul @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh (full band acoustic set)
4 Jul @ Bangers and Mash @ 93 Feet East, London

Boxing Clever is available now from One Up and HMV (Aberdeen) and Avalanche (Edinburgh/Glasgow), and can be ordered online here

Play: I Know It's Over


Play: We Came Alive


Words: Nick Mitchell

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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Lights, camera, guitars... action!



The Edinburgh International Film Festival launched yesterday, and while it is mainly the realm of the cineaste, this year there are a couple of events to get us music fans salivating too.

The big news is the UK premiere of All Tomorrow's Parties. This documentary about the indie connoisseurs' festival of choice is a celebration of everything that's non-corporate and a bit dishevelled about the Butlins-based getaway. It has been lovingly compiled from Super-8, camcorder and mobile phone footage and includes performances from Sonic Youth, Daniel Johnson, Slint, and Scotland's own Mogwai and Belle and Sebastian.

You can watch it on 25 June at 6pm at the Filmhouse (£8.50/£7.50). But we recommend you opt for something a bit more special. The premiere screening is the day before (24 June) at the HMV Picture House, which will become "a 50s holiday camp dreamland" for one night only, with a top secret live music guest performing after the film. It starts at 8pm and tickets cost £18.50.

And just to show that the festival hasn't neglected the music scene on its own doorstep, another event, called Playing With the Past, is a selection of short films from the Scottish Screen archive, set to music by local heroes Found, Meursault and eagleowl. It's on at The Pleasance on 26 June, 8pm, tickets priced £6.50/£5.50.

Tickets for all EIFF events can be purchased here.

Play: eagleowl - Blanket


Words: Nick Mitchell

Any guesses who the top secret guest might be?

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

On the radar: :cryoverbillionaires

cryoverbillionaires

Play: Atlantic Banks


Glasgow's burgeoning music scene flows with nuggets of unadulterated pleasure emerging from its various nooks and crannies. :cryoverbillionaires are no exception: not only a damn good band, but also hardcore supporters of the scene.

“[The Glasgow music scene is] very promising - there are so many bands out there with lots to offer. We've always loved Glasgow as a city for music,” says group frontman Darrell Wilson.

A three-piece alt-rock outfit, :cryoverbillionaires consists of Wilson, his cousin Craig Brown, (bass, backing vox) and Danny Murray (drums, backing vox).

Wilson maintains it was “inevitable” the trio would end up playing together: “We absolutely love music,” he enthuses. “We got into going to live gigs when we were younger. The thought of being on stage performing to hundreds was unreal.”

This verve overflows into their music, which is unique without being too try-hard; different but not alienating. Their persistent rock is flavoured with elements of dance and seasoned with a determined rhythm section

Unafraid to experiment with unusual instruments and effects, Wilson attribute this to the band’s unique edge: “We all play various instruments and we're not afraid to stray from the original idea for the band.”

Despite such experimental tendencies, a steady stage presence compliments their solid wall of sound: colourful melody and the echoey drawl that constitutes vocals often jostling for position. Their dramatic mélange of fast/slow, loud/quiet, renders each song continually intriguing while Turbo Rat distortion effects add a hint of psychedelia.

Citing Death Cab for Cutie lyricist Ben Gibbard as an influence, Wilson is quick to return to more local climes by paying homage to Ayrshire behemoths Biffy Clyro: “We have been influenced by them and the way they progressed as a Scottish band. Their music is absolutely genius.”

More than happy to laud lesser-known locals like Wehungyourleader and Jocasta Sleeps, Wilson reserves his highest praise for Under the Radar favourites lions.chase.tigers: “We have lots of respect for these boys, as they helped us fit in when we moved to Glasgow,” he explains. "They're not only the nicest guys you'll meet, their live set will blow you away."

:cryoverbillionaires are currently touring the Central Belt with fellow budding group The Void, and with many more gigs lined up over the coming months, rest assured that this is one local band who deserve to go on to bigger things.

Like what you hear? Watch :cryoverbillionaires live at the following shows:

1 Jul @ The Tunnels, Aberdeen
4 Jul @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
14 Jul @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh
23 Jul @ Mad Hatter's, Inverness

Words: Kirstyn Smith

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

More T Break bands announced

The Phantom Band
[Balado-bound: The Phantom Band]

T in the Park organisers today announced further additions to this year's T Break stage, which aims to give a boost to unsigned and up and coming music.

The newbies on the bill are:

General Fiasco
Pearl & The Puppets
The Phantom Band
Sucioperro
Jill Jackson
Priscilla Ahn
Healthy Minds Collapse
Hip Parade
Wallis Bird
1990s
Bronto Skylift
Paper Planes
Pulled Apart By Horses
Cassidy
The Big Pink
Iain Archer
We Were Promised Jetpacks
Tommy Reilly

Eyebrows will no doubt be raised at the inclusion of more established bands like the Jetpacks and 1990s, but this kind of thing is nothing new if you recall last year, when both The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit were chosen to play at T Break.

Already announced for T Break were: Barn Owl, Brother Louis, Collective, Dead Boy Robotics, G1ft, Gong Fei, Homework, Little Eskimos, Maple Leaves, Mike Nisbet, Ming Ming and the Ching Chings, My Cousin I Bid You Farewell, Punch and the Apostles, Tango in the Attic, The French Quarter, We Are Trapped in Kansas.

Words: Nick Mitchell

What do you think of the new additions? Tell us below...

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Monday, 15 June 2009

On the radar: Debutant

Debutant

Play: Thirst


The DIY ethos isn't just about buying bathroom fittings from B&Q. It's also being taken to heart by some of Scotland's most interesting new artists. Cynics might say that it boils down to the fact that a record label isn't willing to do the dirty work for them, but in truth, a new wave of bands who aren't just chasing a record deal are injecting a shot of vitality into Scottish music.

No-one appreciates this more than Phillip Quirie, an Aberdonian who goes by the stage name Debutant. "I'm very interested in musicians and bands who take things into their own hands and don't just wait for things to 'happen' for them," he says. "The whole DIY ethos is something I am hugely influenced by and relate to. I just go out there and get on with it. I've been very fortunate to meet and befriend a handful of like-minded fellow musicians during my time on the road so far, and these people are some of my biggest friends and influences."

Debutant started out as a bedroom recording project for Phillip in late 2007, and since then he has been generating much admiration in his home town and beyond for what he calls his "shimmering, atmospheric one-man dream-pop soundscapes."

Influenced by a leftfield range of artists that includes Eluvium, Slowdive and Mogwai, Debutant is the latest exponent of the loop pedal, which Phillip uses to stunning effect to create glacial, transcendent post-rock that almost seems to slow your pulse and raise hairs on your neck. Like recent UtR-featured act The Japanese War Effort, the loop effect can reap rich rewards for a solo act like Debutant.

"It's often been said to me that it's impressive how 'big' one man can sound with just a guitar in his hands and a microphone at his mouth," Phillip says. "But I owe a lot of that to my trusted loop-pedal. I think one of the main things that sets apart the Debutant stuff is that it underlines the fact that music doesn't necessarily have to be complex, difficult or technical in order to sound good. For me, listening to music can be a very emotional experience and so long as my music conveys that to other people, then it need not be technical or complex – merely simple and effective."

Phillip is planning to relocate to Edinburgh in the summer, and he has mixed feelings about the music scene in Aberdeen. "Like all scenes, it has more than it's fair share of average, poor or irrelevant bands and artists, but there are also some extremely talented musicians in the city who receive embarrassingly little coverage from the national media," he says. "However, on the flip side of this, it could be argued that the scene in Aberdeen doesn't really merit any attention from the media because the scene itself is a bit stale - there is a severe lack of cohesion and support amongst many of the bands.

He continues: "Bands and musicians don't generally seem to attend gigs by other local musicians on a regular basis, so friendships are difficult to strike up and maintain. In fact, if anything, I always feel like there is a sense of competition amongst some of the local bands and it's often quite upsetting - people get so wrapped up in their own musical output that they fail to support or recognise others'."

In Edinburgh Phillip may find a more receptive DIY scene for his music. Conscious of the fact that more people are starting to take notice, he's also planning to record an EP over the summer and is plotting a UK tour in October. Record labels? Who needs 'em?

Watch Debutant live at the following dates:

16 Jun @ The Tunnels, Aberdeen (with Viking Moses, Golden Ghost)
6 Jul @ The 13th Note, Glasgow (We Sink Ships exhibition launch)
29 Aug @ Botanic Gardens, Dundee (n_ilk Festival)
16 Oct @ Market Bar, Inverness (with Esperi)
Check the MySpace for further tour details

Play: Means to an End


Words: Nick Mitchell

What do you think of Debutant and the Aberdeen music scene? Discuss...

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Sunday, 14 June 2009

Radar recommends: 14 - 20 June

Meursault
[Meursault: playing Sneaky Pete's on Saturday]

We're doing things a bit differently this week. Instead of a select handful of shows, we're trying to broaden the scope by including everything (yes, EVERYTHING) that takes our fancy in Scotland over the next week. And because writing full previews about each and every band would lead to a novel-length blog, we'll keep it brief. It's the info you want, after all. Or is it? Let us know below...

Aberdeen

Viking Moses, Golden Ghosts, Debutant
Tuesday @ The Tunnels. Doors 8pm, £6
Viking Moses is a Missouri-born electro folkster on the go since 1996. Get there early for the sublime dream pop stylings of Debutant, who we'll be featuring on the blog very soon.

Play: Debutant - Thirst



Edinburgh

Sol, Storm in a D Cup, The Merchants, Pose Victorious, Black Sea Sailors
Sunday @ The Ark. Doors 8.45, £3
Sol mix driving rock with strong pop sensibilities, Storm in a D Cup are an all-girl rock group whose eclectic style jumps from grunge to punk to goth, Glaswegians The Merchants play brash traditional punk with ska influences while Pose Victorious are a modern, anthemic indie rock outfit. Black Sea Sailors, meanwhile, play catchy indie pop but are otherwise something of an unknown quantity.

Viking Moses, Golden Ghost, Tissø Lake, Rob St John
Monday @ The Bowery. Doors 7.30pm, £6
The Viking Moses tour hits Auld Reekie. Support from UtR's own guest blogger Rob St John and another member of the Fife:Kills collective, Tissø Lake.

Tissø Lake
Tuesday @ Elvis Shakespeare. Doors 1.30pm, FREE
If you didn't get enough of them last night, Tissø Lake play a free show at the rather wonderful Elvis Shakespeare shop on Leith Walk.

The Xcerts, Computers, The Morgue Party Candidate
Wednesday @ Cabaret Voltaire. Doors 7pm, £5
Aberdeen-born trio The Xcerts continue their UK tour in support of debut album In the Cold Wind We Smile.

Limbo/Irregular: Modernaire
Thursday @ Voodoo Rooms. Doors 8.30pm, £7
The latest collaboration between the Limbo guys and Canongate Books, featuring Mancunian band Modernaire and guest writer types.

The Leg (album launch)
Thursday @ Sneaky Pete's. Doors 7pm, £tbc
Even without drawling frontman Paul Vickers, The Leg are a fearsomely potent proposition. The masked maniacs launch their album at this show, with support from Enfant Bastard.

Jesus H.Foxx, One Inch Volcano, Katy Bar the Door, 19 Folds
Friday @ The Bowery. Doors 7.30pm, £5
Jesus H. Foxx are a fast-rising Edinburgh band, while Dundee is represented by edgy trio Once Inch Volcano and post-rockers Katy Bar the Door. Local fledglings 19 Folds also make an appearance.

Lords of Bastard, Deadotter, Jackal-headed God of the Dead
Friday @ Bannermans. Doors 9pm, £4
Sludge rockers Lords of Bastard return to the capital with an all new line-up, fronting a bill of some of the grimiest acts Scotland has to offer. Deadotter, from Paisley, bring post-rock influences to the party while still managing to jam out psychedelic, cathartic walls of noise. Edinburgh's Jackal-headed Guard of the Dead, meanwhile, are a doom metal act inspired by budget horror flicks and the literary works of H. P. Lovecraft.

**UtR's gig of the week**
Meursault, Yahweh

Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's. Doors 7pm, £6
New night Brown Bear has some great line-ups planned over the summer, and none moreso than this coming Saturday, with everyone's favourite laptop-folk (lap-folk or folk-top? Vote now) band Meursault. Even more exciting is that Edinburgh punters will finally get a chance to hear Yahweh, one of UtR's favourite bands, up close and personal.

Play: Yahweh: Laps(e)



Glasgow

Das Filth, Punto the Feef
Sunday @ Box. Doors 8pm, free
Glasgow's Das Filth are one of the more eclectic bands on the Scottish scene, adding synths and disco beats to post-punk. On paper, this kind of sonic anathema just shouldn't work but, somehow, it does. Punto the Feef, also from Glasgow, are an alternative rock outfit with an experimental edge.

Luxury Car
Sunday @ 13th Note, Glasgow. Doors 7.30pm, £3/4
Luxury Car are two Perth brothers who make German-influenced electronic pop and are signed to the Edinburgh-based Biphonic label.

We Were Promised Jetpacks, Over The Wall, Lyons
Monday @ King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £6
The Jetpacks' ascent shows no signs of running out of gas, so don't miss the launch of their debut album These Four Walls. Excellent support comes from electro-popsters Over The Wall and Glaswegian duo Lyons.

Play: WWPJ - Quiet Little Voices


My Cousin I Bid You Farewell
Wednesday @ Captain's Rest, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £tbc
A certified UtR favourite. Back in April we said their music was "as uplifting and infatuating as being in love". Singletons also welcome.

Beerjacket, French Wives
Wednesday @ Oran Mor, Glasgow. Doors 7.30pm, £5
Beerkjacket has already played support to an array of big-hitters, from The National to British Sea Power. We should really have had him on the blog by now. As for French Wives, Billy recently wrote that "their songs flutter the heart strings with grace and vigour." Nice.

Play: French Wives - Your Friends and Mine


How To Swim, Jesus H Foxx
Thursday @ 13th Note, Glasgow. Doors 9pm, £4
You may not learn the front crawl at a How To Swim show, but you will get a lesson in full-on orchestral pop. Busy week for The Foxx!

You Already Know (album launch), with Le Reno Amps, Bronto Skylift, Deadotter
Thursday @ Stereo, Glasgow. Doors 7.30pm, £tbc
You may or may not already know about Glasgow band You Already Know, but why not become better acquainted with their progressive rock at this launch show for debut album Stop Whispering. Not a bad support billing either.


Words: Nick Mitchell, Jodi Mullen

What have we missed? Tell us below, or add it to our gig guide by emailing utr.scotsman@gmail.com

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Friday, 12 June 2009

On the radar: There Will Be Fireworks



Play: Foreign Thoughts


Scotland has a knack for producing bands of enormous sound. Acts such as The Twilight Sad and Mogwai have paved the way for others to blast into the mainstream. From north to south and east to west, heroic conversations are being had to their songs.

Hailing from Glasgow, There Will Be Fireworks promise to be the next such band, having already turned the head of DJ impresario Steve Lamacq. Together for little over a year, it's remarkable just how revered the quintet have become.

Vocalist and guitarist Nicholas McManus confirms a few of their native influences: ‘We all like stuff like Mogwai, Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit, LCD Soundsystem. We all like The Knife as well. I don't know how much any of them influenced us because we never take a conscious starting point for a song, but I reckon the post-rock influences are probably quite apparent."

UtR's featured track, Foreign Thoughts, is one of their most rousing tracks. From the initial bar to the last buzz of distortion, it's pure musical heroin. There's an addictive pushing and pulling at the start that's like two magnetised symbols clashing together. Aided by McManus' emotive delivery, the track builds to a crescendo that makes you want to sing as loud as your lungs will let you.

And what sets There Will Be Fireworks apart from their contemporaries? "We try not to be confined by any genre, so hopefully we sound a bit different because of that," explains McManus. "Some of our songs are little scuzzy discordant pop songs like Foreign Thoughts, some are really heavy and dense and some are totally sparse."

He continues: "Our initial intention was to take post-rock textures and sounds but to put them to use in what are, essentially, really simple pop or folk songs. We always knew we were going to have lyrics as well - we never wanted to be purely instrumental - so hopefully there's something a little unusual in the marrying of post-rock dynamics and narrative lyrics... I don't know if that really makes us different, but it might do!"

Due for release at the start of next month, the band's debut LP will surely mark them out as Scotland's latest epically inclined guitar heroes. Mark our words, There Will Be Fireworks are an act to keep a close eye on.

Intrigued? Watch There Will Be Fireworks live at the following dates:

24 Jun @ Oran Mor, Glasgow
1 July @ Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow [album launch]
14 July @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh


Words: Halina Rifai

There Will Be Fireworks' self-titled debut album is released on 1 July. Check back here for an exclusive track-by-track breakdown from the band themselves in the week before its release.

What you think of these Scottish sparklers? Let us know below...

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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Guest blogger: Rob St John

With bands sprawled across every inch of its rugged landscape, Scotland's music scene is practically bursting at the seams. And making up this amply endowed trove is a microcosm of scenes fizzing with ingenuity, activity and, most importantly, great music.

So far we've introduced you to an array of tunesmiths at the fulcrum of this creative hive, but we've ventured one step further and bartered you the inside line straight from the main players themselves. Once a month (or twice if things go to plan), a prominent artist will offer you a unique insight into what makes their scene seen; musing over the minutiae and pondering the possibilities.

For our inaugural feature, UtR could think of no one it would rather have wax lyrical about Edinburgh's anthill-like DIY scene than the ever-brilliant Rob St. John. So without further ado, we'll leave you in the more than capable hands of this exquisite local songwriter...


*****

When asked to write this piece, my initial feeling was that I’m not nearly qualified enough to describe what’s happening in Edinburgh right now. But maybe that illustrates how healthy things are at the moment.

Compared to when I arrived in the city five years ago, there’s now such a wealth and diversity of music happening that what I see as the ‘Edinburgh music scene’ will undoubtedly be different to what others see it as. To me, it’s the independent, creative and DIY ethos adopted by a lot of Edinburgh musicians that's currently inspiring and uniting a raft of exciting music.

I suppose it depends where your ambitions lie, but to book and play shows and tours you’re proud of - independently of booking agents, managers and the rest - is a liberating experience. Independence seems to spark a whole seam of creativity in many bands, like My Kappa Roots’ overlap between film and music; Withered Hand’s comics and drawings; and the whole cottage industry created by FOUND.

Along with My Kappa Roots, eagleowl, Randan Discotheque, The Great Bear and The Wee Rogue we began putting records out under the Fife Kills: label in 2006. Again, I think having full independent control of your recording, packaging and distribution (with no one else taking a cut!), yet to be associated with a bunch of people successfully doing the same thing, is really healthy and creative– even it does mean a hell of a lot of stamping CDs and trips to the Post Office!

Rob St John and his catThe influence of Tracer Trails promotions on what’s happening in Edinburgh can’t be underestimated. From 2006 they brought a succession of acts such as Viking Moses, Jeff Lewis, Diane Cluck, David Thomas Broughton, Tissø Lake and a lot more to play interesting venues in Edinburgh (disused churches, galleries, etc). It really demystified the process of booking and playing gigs, showing how both the band and promoter can successfully operate on a DIY basis.

It showed that it could be as simple as if your band played well and were decent enough to be around, then you’d be invited back. To see how touring bands used this to keep a friendly promoter or venue contact in most towns was inspiring. It also brought together a whole bunch of similarly minded people who were living under that hackneyed cliché of a year or two ago that ‘Edinburgh has no music scene’.

I and a lot of others would look to Fence, and at people like K and Marriage Records in the USA (people I was getting increasingly exposed to through Tracer Trails) and see that to have a cohesiveness, overlap and interchange of ideas between bands and promoters - what Dan Withered Hand calls his‘support network - could only be a healthy thing. And so it has proved - the success of Withered Hand, Meursault, FOUND and Broken Records is both well-deserved and exciting.

But, whilst overground success is excellent, I wouldn’t point to it alone as the barometer of how healthy things are just now. Instead, I think it’s telling that so many small, independent shows are being well-attended by an appreciative audience; that there’s an abundance of creative new bands regularly being started, and new venues like the wonderful Bowery opening to accommodate it all.

Crucially, there’s a real sense of openness, co-operation and goodwill between everyone involved, making Edinburgh a really exciting and creative place to be a musician.

Words: Rob St John

Play: Rob St John - Paper Ships


Play: Rob St John - Like Alchemy

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Revealed: Edge festival line-up

Malcolm Middleton
[Malcolm Middleton: playing in Edinburgh this August]

The Edge Festival, formerly known as T on the Fringe, today announced its line-up for 2009.

The main draw for many will be ex-Talking Heads man David Byrne, who recently wowed fans in Glasgow during his Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno world tour.

The other big-hitters are The Streets and The Stranglers, while acts further down the bill include Múm, Enter Shikari, Mumford & Sons, The Bluetones, Amanda Palmer, Andrew Bird, Emiliana Torrini and Foy Vance.

The Scottish quota isn't particularly expansive, but it is stylistically eclectic: Calvin Harris, Malcolm Middleton, Young Fathers, Unicorn Kid, Broken Records and Frightened Rabbit.

There is also a showcase for YourSound, the new talent initiative from King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, so perhaps there will be a few more UtR favourites in the mix come August.

Gigs are scheduled from August 8-27 at venues including the Playhouse, HMV Picture House, Sneaky Pete's, Studio 24, Cabaret Voltaire, Queen's Hall and the Corn Exchange.

Words: Nick Mitchell

What do you think of the line-up? Cutting-edge or in need of a sharpening?

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On the radar: The Ordinary Allstars

The Ordinary Allstars

Play: I Don't Like Hip Hop (Live)


Edinburgh hip-hop. It just doesn’t sound right, does it?

Built on a foundation of archaic patronage and private school opulence, the capital’s reputation for embracing modernity is woefully lacking. To Auld Reekie’s haute-culture, progress is a stinking wretch of a word; safety is the name of the game.

But deep within the city’s underbelly a revolution is gestating. Led by the hyper driven beats of NME darlings Young Fathers, a scene that was all but dead has filled its lungs and clenched its fists. Edinburgh hip-hop is ready for the fight.

At the fore of this rejuvenation is The Ordinary Allstars, an outfit determined to use geographical preconceptions to their advantage:

“People don’t really expect hip-hop to come out of Scotland, but that can give you some freedom because you don’t have the same traditional stereotypes to follow or adhere to,” explains rhyme-spitter-in-chief MC Hasta. “That’s the beauty of it, we can use it as a template to communicate in the way we want, without necessarily having the same rules to follow as you would elsewhere."

An old-school group with new-school ideas, The Ordinary Allstars cast hooks so big they could slay a Great White. Despite this polished veneer, there’s no sign of the chauvinistic bravado attributed to the genre's more renowned figureheads.

“Of course it’s gonna sound clichéd, but we genuinely started out just writing and playing for our own amusement, with no pressure at all,” enthuses Hasta. “Even though we’re starting to take it a bit more seriously, it’s still just a chance to really have fun with the music, and enjoy performing what we like. There’s nothing better than seeing people reacting positively to what you’re doing”

Born from a long-term writing partnership between Hasta and (the wonderfully monikered) Fuzz, the quintet’s current incarnation has been in operation for six months. Since then, their live shows have mesmerised audiences via a medium that’s too often lacking in modern-era hip-hop: instruments.

“I don’t think too many people are making hip-hop live any more…but we’re still rocking up with old-fashioned instruments,” blurts Hasta. “On stage that adds more of a dynamic than having just a vocalist with a backing track or DJ – you’re seeing the music being created right in front of you and that’s exciting. It’s funny, ‘cos you wouldn’t say that was a difference in a lot of genres, but with hip-hop it really is.”

In terms of future ambitions, Hasta remains typically realistic: “I want a Mercury Music Prize,” he jests. “But really, it would be nice to tour around a bit, see some cool places and put out some records that people are keen to have in their collection.”

It may sit unsteady with the Edinburgh elite, but The Ordinary Allstars could well be the city’s safest bet.

Words: Billy Hamilton

What do you make of the Scottish hip-hop scene? Criminally overlooked or justifiably ignored?

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Tuesday, 9 June 2009

In pictures: My Latest Novel / Copy Haho / Mitchell Museum



Black Tape, the Edinburgh 'anyone-can-DJ' night, went out with a bang on Friday with sets from three of Scotland's most hotly tipped bands, and we were there with a camera.

Headlining was My Latest Novel, the ambitious Greenock-based band who recently released their second album Deaths and Entrances to wide-spread acclaim.

That alone would have justified the ticket price, but also on the bill were Copy Haho, the frenetic Stonehaven band who have been making UK-sized waves, and Mitchell Museum, the giddily experimental Glaswegians who are no strangers to this blog.

Black Tape regulars will be relieved to know that the people behind the night are launching a new, free monthly clubnight at Sneaky Pete's on Friday 3 July. Details here.

Pictures: Nic Rue (nicrue.carbonmade.com)

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Competition: Win VIP passes for RockNess

RockNess

RockNess is set to kick off the summer festival season in style, with a fantastic line-up which includes heavyweights like The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx and the Flaming Lips, as well as hot Scottish bands like The Aliens and Frightened Rabbit.

Carling, the official beer of RockNess, is bringing back its highly acclaimed Cold Beer Amnesty and this year it's going to be bigger, better and colder than ever.

At the Cold Beer Amnesty, festival goers can relax and enjoy a perfectly chilled beer with their mates by swapping ANY unopened can of warm beer for an ice cold can of Carling.

Carling is offering one lucky winner a pair of VIP weekend tickets to Rock Ness Festival.

Visit Carling.com and Rockness.co.uk for further information.

Question: Which beer will be offering Cold Beer Amnesty at Rock Ness this year?

Click here to email your answer


All entries must be received by 5pm on Wednesday June 10, 2009.

Terms & Conditions: All entrants must be aged 18 years or over. One winner will receive – 2 x 1 VIP weekend tickets (no camping included).

Prize supplied by Molson Coors (UK) Ltd. The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.

The prize will be awarded to the first correct entry drawn at random on 11th June, 2009. The winner will be notified by phone on Thursday 11th June, 2009. Employees (or their immediate relatives) of Molson Coors (UK) Ltd. or The Scotsman Publications Limited may NOT enter.

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Monday, 8 June 2009

On the radar: Withered Hand



Play: No Cigarettes


“A triumph of invention over ability” said a review of Dan Willson’s early work with former band Peanut. Well, no more, as his current incarnation, Withered Hand, starts to grow in stature. After his recent set on BBC 6Music, Withered Hand is hot property.

Now working as a solo singer/songwriter, with a little help from various friends for his live act (including members of Meursault, St. Jude’s Infirmary and eagleowl), Withered Hand has a new EP readied, entitled ‘You’re Not Alone’.

The record has been produced by Kenny Anderson of King Creosote fame and was recorded in a hall in the Fence folk hotbed of Anstruther. “For me, that is one of the biggest rewards of doing this, playing alongside friends and hearing my songs in a new light,” Willson says. The much anticipated debut album, aided by legendary American producer Kramer, is out in September.

At times painfully honest and introspective, Willson’s folk pop style marks him as an artist with a lot to say, and someone who manages to speak with a refreshing intelligence, placing him at the pinnacle of Edinburgh’s live music scene as a true must-see act.

Typically reclusive, fame now seems to be seeking Willson out, whether he wishes it or not. Sometimes talent wins out. Sighted last weekend in an impromptu performance alongside Meursault at the Meadows Festival, affectionately described by the aforementioned band’s lead singer Neil Pennycook as “ramshackle”, few would have realised the recent clamour surrounding the shy looking lad clutching a bag full of Gregg’s pasties, but Dan Willson is not your typical fame-seeking star.

2008’s Religious Songs EP gained Withered Hand wide ranging acclaim, but it was his early DIY records posted on the internet which led to him performing on the same bills as the likes of Frightened Rabbit, James Yorkston and Malcolm Middleton.

Based in Edinburgh for the last 13 years, Willson is quick to proclaim his love for the city, but admits to initially being “terrified of microphones”. Asked why he makes music, he states simply: “Because I can't really stop. I have tried. It is my way of making sense of being here. I used to draw a lot more and now I write songs. I have to have some kind of creative outlet otherwise I'm hell to be around”.

Willson says that his songs are “really just the sound of somebody who never thought they could ever do this, playing within their limitations. I would describe my songs as just a collection of my thoughts, with melodies that probably occurred to me in the grocery store or cycling home, sung as best I can over a bunch of chords”.

With typical modesty, Willson describes his sound as something which comes from within: “Apart from that it’s all the same twelve notes over and over again, like everything else”.

But it's really not just like anything else. It is the culmination of one of Scotland’s brightest singer/songwriter's talents; thoughtful, refreshing and full of insight. The new album promises to be something well worth the wait. You may have problems avoiding Withered Hand in the near future. And quite rightly so.

Words: Stevie Kearney

Withered Hand launches his new EP at Electric Circus, Edinburgh on 9 June, with special guests Benni Hemm Hemm, Emily Scott and Sebastian Fors. Willson also plays a solo acoustic set at Flying Duck, Glasgow on 13 June.

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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Radar recommends: 7 - 13 June

Miss The Occupier
[Miss The Occupier: playing The Twisted Wheel on Sunday]

In the past we've been guilty of catering only to the gig-goers of Edinburgh and Glasgow in these here Radar Recommends. Granted, that's because 95% of the best gigs take place in Scotland's 'big two'. But we don't want to be seen as narrow-minded Central Belters (especially when one of us hails from wind-battered Thurso), so this week we've tried to cast our nets a bit wider.

Miss the Occupier, Come in Tokyo, We, The Last Men
Sun 7 Jun, The Twisted Wheel, Glasgow. Doors 7pm, FREE
Widely touted as one of Scotland's most exciting bands, Miss the Occupier make clattering, vampish alt-rock in the style of Sonic Youth and Sleater Kinney. We featured them on the eve of their Hinterland show, and this date, with support from bluesy Edinburghers Come In Tokyo and local hardcore trio We, The Last Men, promises to be unmissable. [NM]

Play: Miss The Occupier - Whilst I Stared


Teitur, The Seventeenth Century, Empires
Sun 7 Jun, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £8
The Faroe Islands may be just beyone our musical radar, but that doesn't mean we can't recommend you head along to this gig by Teitur, an inventive singer-songwriter who opened for Radiohead at the Roskilde festival last year. Especially when he's playing with recent UtR stars The Seventeenth Century and Glasgow rockers Empires. [NM]

Play: The Seventeenth Century - Traffic


The Void, cryoverbillionaires
Tue 9 Jun, The Tunnels , Aberdeen. Doors 8pm, £tbc
Big, swooping indie always has a place on the UtR stereo and The Void are quickly becoming regulars on our shamefully beat-up tape deck. Both anthemic and anathemic, the Glasgow/Edinburgh ensemble produce effervescent, guitar driven totems tinged with sleek college rock production. No stranger to these pages, the hard-working cryoverbillionaires expel chiming chasms of riff across taut, hairpin percussion to produce a sound that quivers neck hairs and shudders the soul. [BH]

Unicorn Kid, Soft Toy Emergency, Crayons, Skitten
Tue 9 Jun, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £tbc
Not since The Proclaimers wrote a song about that very long walk has Leith known a success story like that of Unicorn Kid. 17-year-old Oliver Sabin is the epitome of the bedroom DJ, except he also has a nationwide and American tour lined up and is fast becoming a worldwide hit with his ringtone-friendly electro-pop. [NM]

We Were Promised Jetpacks
Wed 10 Jun, Doghouse, Dundee, 8pm
If it’s indie-pop you’re after then look no further than the spikey guitar riffs of We Were Promised Jetpacks. The quartet's new album These Four Walls is due out on 15 June and has been produced by Ken Thomas, who has previously worked with the Sigur Ros and David Bowie. Featuring guitar driven pop ranging from 70s influences such as the legendary Gang of Four to more modern tracks reminiscent of British Sea Power, their sound blends seamlessly over Adam Thompson’s distinctly Scottish vocals. [SK]

Play: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Quiet Little Voices



Punch and the Apostles

Thu 11 Jun, Captain’s Rest, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £3
If you're in Glasgow this Thursday evening, head along to Captain’s Rest to catch the wonderful Punch and the Apostles, who will be performing a new show complete with visuals by Graham Tiler. For the uninitiated, Punch and the Apostles bring a frenetic energy to their live set with stylings not unlike a mid-80s freak show era Tom Waits crossed with some Balkan plate smashing. A mysterious and eclectic band, fans of the musically diverse will be delighted to find something macabre straight out of the leftfield. [SK]

Trampoline featuring Meursault, Wounded Knee, The Foundling Wheel
Sat 13 Jun, The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm, £5
Another month, another stellar line-up at Trampoline. Local luminaries Meursault need little introduction, their startling folk-tronica having already broached public consciousness over the last 12 months. Less renowned, the hymnal rabble of Wounded Knee and The Foundling Wheel's serrated electro-bending are just as beguiling; both beginning to ripple waves of interest in Edinburgh's oceanic scene. [BH]

Woodenbox With a Fistful of Fivers, Wilson Tan, The Parsonage
Sat 13 Jun, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow. Doors 8pm, £tbc
You only need to ponder their name for a moment to realise that Woodenbox With a Fistful of Fivers are more than a little indebted to one Ennio Morricone. There's a distinct Wild West feel to their trumpet-led folk-rock, so get your Winklepickers out and mosey on down to Tut's for on Saturday, where you'll hear more Americana stylings from Wilson Tan and The Parsonage. [NM]

Words: Stevie Kearney, Billy Hamilton, Nick Mitchell

Have we missed something? Tell us about it below, or add it to the gig guide...

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Friday, 5 June 2009

Off the Beaten Tracks: Reinventing the music video





It's fun to mess with the formula. For music videos, that means forgetting the two tired modes that have dominated our screens for years: the live concert film and the MTV-style promo.

And for one new Edinburgh-based project, that means using the city around them to its fullest extent.

Off the Beaten Tracks, "a musical project in unusual surroundings", was devised by locals Andy and Alex last year, and has become an inspired collaboration between the city's many nooks, crannies and vistas, and its buzzing music scene.

There were precedents for this concept though: "We were both fans of websites like La Blogotheque in France, and the Black Cab Sessions, and we'd both separately been looking for something fun to do, and over a fairly chance conversation it turned out we were already thinking on the same lines. Truth be told, there was also beer involved, but uncharacteristically, we actually followed through on it."





To date, those unusual surroundings have centred on medieval Royal Mile closes and a trip to the Homegame festival in Anstruther, and the duo say that the decisions aren't always easy: "Usually we just have a row, and it depends on who gives in first. It's not like we're stuck for choice, though. Edinburgh's full of amazing looking spots. We'll tend to have a couple of locations in mind, and the bands usually chip in too, so it's usually fairly straightforward."

There have been five OtBT sessions so far, so I'm interested to know how the bands have responded to the project. "The gear we use is all uniformly tiny - both cameras are about the size of a mobile phone - so they usually look at us like we're mental, but once they see it's all done in decent HD, with digital sound and some half-decent editing and so on, then they're really positive. They've all seemed to really like the results, and we like to think that our occasional technical incompetence - Alex repeatedly standing in front of the camera, Andy falling in rivers - is part of our charm, so hopefully they enjoy the day too. Most of the bands we've filmed so far have never done any kind of recording outside a studio, so they normally get really into the spirit of the odd locations."





There is currently an abundance of quality bands around the Central Belt and beyond, so they must be busy compiling their wishlist? "We're musical tarts, we'll do almost any kind of band. The nice thing about doing this is that it's really been a leveller - every band who's played has been on equal terms with the others, irrespective of size or success. Each one, be it a local unsigned act, or an international signed band, has been a similarly cool experience to watch. Once we get past a couple of niggling little technical details, we do really want to work out a way of getting some electronic or hip-hop acts done. We've already recorded soon-to-be-realeased sessions with Randan Discotheque, Jesus H. Foxx, Honeytrap, FOUND and have a couple of others lined up this month including The Thermals. But if either The Hold Steady (says Andy) or Aretha Franklin (says Alex) are reading, we'd be happy to hear from them."

And in the future they're keen to branch out: "Aside from squeezing bigger and bigger bands into smaller and smaller places, we'd really like to do some events, hosting really small live shows in oddball one-off locations. We've got some ideas for that for the summer, so we'll see. We'd also like to get other people involved in other spots - it doesn't cost a huge amount to get set up with the gear, and we'd love to see other people doing it in other cities."

Words: Nick Mitchell

Under the Radar will keep you up-to-date with future OtBT sessions, and you can browse their archives at offthebeatentracks.tv

Are you in favour of making musicians brave the Scottish weather for their art? Discuss...

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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Revealed: T Break '09 winners

T Break When it comes to getting yourself noticed, few showcases are as effective for Scotland's unsigned musical talent as T Break. Every year at T in the Park, Scotland's biggest music bash, the winning bands are rewarded with a set in the T Break tent, in front of a whole host of potential new fans, music writers and industry scouts.

Almost 1,400 entries have been whittled down to just 16 by the judging panel, so here we reveal each winning act, with a few words on where they're from, what's been said so far, what they sound like, and how many MySpace hits they have (just as an at-a-glance indication of their current status).



Tango in the Attic

From? Glenrothes, Fife
Hype? "The more I hear from them, the higher I rate them" - Vic Galloway, Radio 1
Sound? Vampire Weekend with Fife accents
MySpace hits: 68,244


Little Eskimos

From? Alloa/Yetts O Muckhart/Stirling
Hype? "We haven't stopped listening to the music since we've been off tour" - MySpace comment
Sound? Brash, wide-eyed indie-rock songs
MySpace hits: 23,434


Mike Nisbet

From? Oban, now Glasgow
Hype? "Your set was ace last night" - MySpace comment
Sound? Wearily uplifting singer-songwriter in the Stephen Fretwell mould
MySpace hits: 13,308


My Cousin I Bid You Farewell

From? Glasgow
Hype? "You can already imagine crowds singing with drunken glee" - Us
Sound? Unashamedly huge rock music with a delicate heart
MySpace hits: 39,639

Play: The Contented Hearts



The French Quarter

From? Stirling
Hype? "This band create the big sonic soundscapes loved by later Radiohead albums" - Daily Record
Sound? Brooding, ambitious post-rock of the quiet-loud-quiet variety
MySpace hits: 37,131


Punch and the Apostles

From? Glasgow
Hype? "One of the best live bands in the world right now" - Jim Gellatly, Radio Scotland
Sound? Stomping olde-world blues and folk, with sax and accordion
MySpace hits: 44,857


Ming Ming and the Ching Chings

From? Glasgow
Hype? "Ming Ming fuse the visceral horror-schlock stomping of The Cramps with Josef K's iconoclastic rumbling" - Us
Sound? See above, with added adrenalin
MySpace hits: 20,285

Play: Show Off



Dead Boy Robotics

From? Edinburgh
Hype? "Two fellas construct something wonderful out of the dance/ noise/punk/electro sound they’ve been building" - The List
Sound? Synth-fuelled electro for the XBox generation
MySpace hits: 12,133

Play: Cloud Sequence Animals



Barn Owl

From? Glasgow
Hype? "You write lovely songs" - MySpace comment [And we've been meaning to feature them on the blog for ages - Ed]
Sound? Indie for grown-ups, with handclaps and stirring crescendos
MySpace hits: 35,342


We Are Trapped in Kansas

From? Ayr
Hype? "Scotland's most accomplished math rock act" - Us
Sound? Intricate, spindly guitars underscore yearning vocals
MySpace hits: 74,458


G1ft

From? Glasgow
Hype? "Shimmy Shake is big bro, like the eastern vibe" - MySpace comment
Sound? Ballsy hip hop with an exotic edge
MySpace hits: 14,294


Maple Leaves

From? Glasgow
Hype? "Nice harmonies you've got" - MySpace comment
Sound? Achingly sweet indie-pop with girl-boy harmonies
MySpace hits: 7,080


Gong Fei

From? Dundee
Hype? "Punky indie nonsense, for fans of Mclusky, Shellac, Hot Club De Paris" - Promoter
Sound? Skewed, propulsive indie-punk
MySpace hits: 5,177


Homework

From? Edinburgh
Hype? "Great gig there lads" - MySpace comment
Sound? Bass-heavy electro-rock crossover
MySpace hits: 3,273


Brother Louis Collective

From? Glasgow
Hype? "Louis and his collective are surely destined for a larger stage" - Sunday Mail
Sound? Polished indie with a Scottish accent, flute and piano
MySpace hits: 47,746


Popolo

From? Dundee/Glasgow/St. Andrews
Hype? "Incorporate dance music theory with rock practice to create concise blasts of breakneck pop" - TenTracks.co.uk
Sound? Math rock ambitions meet off-kilter guitars
MySpace hits: 36,145


T in the Park takes place at Balado, near Kinross, 10-12 July

Words: Nick Mitchell

What do you make of the T Break winners? Discuss...

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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

On the radar: French Wives

Pinning down French Wives should be easy. The Glasgow quintet’s instrumentally vast symphonies saunter with a grandeur that can be described in just two words: Arcade Fire.

Yet, perhaps in spite of such predictable pigeonholing, French Wives insist there’s more than just an overt set of influences at their core. Frontman Stuart Dougan explains: “We're all into varied genres, ranging from conventional indie through to electronica, but it's probably to our advantage as it gives our music a little bit more depth.”

Play: Your Friends and Mine


Depth’s certainly not something you could accuse French Wives of lacking. Overflowing with melody, their songs flutter the heart strings with grace and vigour; swooshing from dainty canticle to pulsing anthem without the bat of an indie-rock eyelid.

Only a year old, this fledgling outfit create soundscapes that surpass those of more roadtested acts. Their philosophy, however, remains refreshingly spritely: “We want to make our mums proud,” half jokes Dougan. “We'd also like to write songs that people will relate to. I know it sounds obvious, but it's more difficult than most people think."

That difficulty lies in proving there’s something more than mere bandwagon-hopping. It’s a feat Dougan believes his band are more than capable of achieving. “We really enjoy pushing ourselves to write better songs and we love performing our own music to people,“ he exclaims. “We like to think we put on an entertaining and energetic live show, and feel that compared to other bands our songwriting and arrangements can hold the attention of even the drunkest of hecklers.”

Firmly embedded within the Scottish music scene’s nurturing bosom, Dougan maintain a sensible head when it comes to grandstanding its rejuvenation. “There's certainly a lot of lovely people and it's good that Scottish music is starting to get a bit more attention,” he explains. “That being said there's only a handfull of Scottish band's that I really enjoy.”

As for the future, a depleted French Wives are looking forward to finally firing on all cylinders: “Our guitarist Scott has been studying in America for the last five months,” says Dougan. “This has hindered us slightly but he'll be back in Glasgow next week which we're very excited about.”

It seems it's full steam ahead for French Wives.

Catch them live at the following gigs:

3 Jun @ Captain’s Rest, Glasgow
11 Jun @ Go North Festival

13 Jun @ Rockness Festival
17 Jun @ Oran Mor, Glasgow
6 Jul @ King Tuts, Glasgow

Words: Billy Hamilton

Play: Halloween


The next Arcade Fire or something more? Let us know what you think...

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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

In pictures: Mitchell Museum / Cats in Paris




One of our favourite Glasgow bands, the kaleidoscopic Mitchell Museum, played the Duty Free night at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh last Saturday (23 May). They were sharing a bill with the equally colourful Manchester band Cats in Paris, and UtR was on hand with a camera.

Play: Mitchell Museum - Take the Tongue Out


Pictures: Nic Rue (nicrue.carbonmade.com)

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Monday, 1 June 2009

On the radar: Hey Vampires

Hey Vampires

Play: Heartbeats


Reports of punk's demise have been greatly exaggerated. While the genre’s never reclaimed the mainstream notoriety of the late 1970s, a succession of acts have kept the flame burning brightly in the underground. And with bands like Glasgow's Hey Vampires at the forefront of a thriving local scene, it's clear punk is, emphatically, not dead.

Since forming in early 2008, the band have lost no time in getting down to making a name for themselves through good, old fashioned hard work. Within the space of six months they'd established themselves as one of the most energetic acts on the Glasgow live circuit, managing to write and record enough material to release their eponymous debut EP.

Bassist and frontman Chris McGlynn explains the drive behind the band's formidable work ethic: "When we met up, the idea straight away was just to write some songs and get on stage as soon as we could. The whole playing live thing, meeting other people, new friends, finding new music; it's just really appealing to all of us, finding like-minded people who're interested in the same ideas that you are."

Though Hey Vampires label their eclectic brand of noise as 'dancepunk', in truth their sound lies closer to the legendary post-hardcore pioneers that McGlynn acknowledges as the band's main influences. From the mid-1980s, acts like These Arms Are Snakes and Fugazi began to build upon the foundation of hardcore punk, itself a refinement of late-1970s punk, adding extra layers of melody and technical precision to the genre's characteristic speed and fury.

And, while the complexity and creative expression of post-hardcore is all present and correct in Hey Vampires' output, the band loses none of the raw energy that made punk so compelling. Live shows are wonderfully chaotic cauldrons of noise and flailing limbs, as the foursome's enthusiasm inevitably spills over into the crowd.

For Hey Vampires, leading by example from the stage is what it's all about. McGlynn firmly believes the band can "make people realise that they can do it too - pick up an instrument, form a band, book a tour, get a CD out." He adds: "I think that to me is what punk music is all about, that DIY community spirit amongst bands. More than getting famous, getting on MTV Cribs, that's what I'd like to inspire."

And if Glasgow's thriving punk scene is any indication, he may just be on to something. Bronto Skylift, Citizens, United Fruit, Das Filth and Jackie Onassis all share Hey Vampires' DIY ethos, as do the hardened Glaswegian punk fans who brave hail, rain and stale beer to turn out to see these local acts play.

This year has already seen the release of the band's second EP, 'Problems, Solve Yourselves', on Two Tick Records and they recently recorded a live session on the Vic Galloway Show on BBC Radio 1. With a tour of the English east coast lined up in early June, a slew of Scottish shows throughout the summer and rumours of new material being just over the horizon, Hey Vampires look certain to be very busy for quite some time to come.

Words: Jodi Mullen

Play: Why So Forlorn


Did punk ever really die? Did it ever really live? Let us know what you think below...

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