Monday, 31 August 2009

On the radar: Randolph's Leap

Randolph's Leap

Play: Arachnagraphicagoraphobiopic

Play: Going Home

In the Glasgow music scene there’s not always much to set a fledging band apart from the rest. Randolph’s Leap are trying to combat this by bringing back “some of the romance of making music”.

The band consist of Adam Ross (guitar, vocals), Gareth Perrie (casiotone, guitar, vocals), Vicki Cole (bass, vocals), Iain Taylor (drums, vocals), Andy MacLellan (cello, vocals) and Colin Ross on violin.

With their instrumental sound, the six-piece play nicely on the ear with their lingering melodies, not a world apart from a folk sound but still ‘indie’ enough to capture the mainstream.

Speaking to Adam Ross about the band's plans for world domination turns out to be an interesting conversation – he claims that he was known to “whistle in the womb” as he explains the roots of the name Randolph’s Leap. “The name is pinched from a section of the River Findhorn near to my hometown of Nairn. Apparently a soldier leapt over the salmon-filled rapids in order to escape Randolph the Earl of Moray.”

The band in their current line-up have been around for about three years now, and even the quickest of glances at their MySpace highlights the creativity oozing out of their every pore, with a series of poetic stories feeding into their music.

Ross' exuberant style becomes clear when he goes on to explain his musical history: “My parents suspected potential musical aptitude so bought me a second-hand tuba," he says. "Unfortunately I kept falling inside. In school, a curious man named Calverto tried to teach me the cello but I didn’t speak his language. I began writing songs at the tail end of puberty. I am now 21. The other band members have latched onto me like disgusting leeches over the last couple of years…”

It’s nonsense of the best kind, and that pretty much sums up what you get with Randolph’s Leap – instead of the usual new band mumbo jumbo, this group has charisma, charm and a very defined and confident personality of their own. They’re nothing like some of the generic 'indie boy bands' we’re over-saturated with – and they don’t want to be either.

Citing The Divine Comedy, Edwyn Collins and Karl Pilkington as their influences, Ross explains that for him, “songwriting is one of the few things that my brain seems to be suited to."

"I’m usually happy enough with the results and don’t really question whether I’ve done it ‘right’ or not as long as it’s singable," he adds. "Whereas if I were to try and be a politician or a chef I’d constantly be doubting what it was I was saying or sautéing.”

Words: Clare Sinclair

Intrigued? Hear Randolph's Leap live at the Classic Grand, Glasgow on 12 Sep, with BMX Bandits and The Primary Five.

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Sunday, 30 August 2009

Radar recommends: 30 Aug - 5 Sep

Aidan Moffat
[Aidan Moffat: playing the Bongo Club on Thursday]

Have you noticed how summer already seems like a memory? It's the end of August and when we should still be able to sit in beer gardens and outdoor cafés all night, we're buying up winter coats instead. Some brave promoters are still putting on the odd al fresco shindig, but most sensible gigs are back where they belong: in sweaty basement bars. Time to emigrate...


Healthy Minds Collapse
Wednesday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £5
Grungy alternative rock from T in the Park and Wickerman favourites Healthy Minds Collapse.

Fudge Present: Tragic City Thieves, The Black Lights, Rise, Which Way Now
Saturday @ The Moorings / 8pm / £3
Metal, glam and classic rock feature this week in The Moorings' regular rock night.


The Shipping Forecast Garden Party

Sunday @ Pear Tree Courtyard /1pm / free
A sterling line-up made up of Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Zoey Van Goey, The Stormy Seas, Come In Tokyo, Ben TD and Ardent John. Let's just hope it doesn't rain.

Song, By Toad presents: Enfant Bastard, Ambulances, Art Fag
Sunday @ Sneaky Pete's / 8pm / £5
Expect plenty of gin-swigging and expletive-riddled tomfoolery from this rather fetching Song, By Toad shindig.

Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard, Withered Hand
Monday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £9
The delectable Withered Hand prop up poetic anti-folk ambassador Jeffrey Lewis who, lets face it, is a bit drab.

White Noise featuring X Lion Tamer
Tuesday @ Electric Circus / 8pm / £4
Tony Taylor's electro-pop fare is causing a buzz that isn't derived solely from the sound of a plugged in laptop.

**UtR's gig of the week**
The Skinny Dip: Aidan Moffat & The Best Ofs, Over the Wall, Rick Redbeard
Thursday @ The Bongo Club / 7.30pm / £10
Intriguingly curated line-up that finds Aidan Moffat's sleaze-rock outfit headlining a bill that also contains two of Scotland's most sought after upstarts.

Vacuum Spasm Babies, Sinner's Ensemble
Thursday @ Henry's Cellar Bar / 8pm / £4
Experimental rock throbbing from the curiously entitled headliners. Spinners Ensemble's country-blue murmuring provides the perfect undercard foil.

The Chap, Paper Planes
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £tbc
Abstract bleepery from London/Berlin outfit The Chap. Froth-rocking punk comes by way of UtR favourites Paper Planes

Frightened Rabbit
Saturday @ Electric Circus / 7pm /£6
Solo showing from Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison before he and his band jet off around the US of A.

Sebastian Dangerfield, Endor, Washington Irving
Saturday @ Maggie's Chamber / 7pm / £5
EP Launch from the wonderfully monikered local tunesmith with an ear for understated melody.


The Pastels and Tenniscoats
Wednesday @ Stereo / 8pm / £10
Glasgow's original indie stars in musical cahoots with Japanese kindred spirits Tenniscoats.

Bubblegum Records Launch Night
Thursday @ Stereo /7.30pm / £5
Head along to the Bubblegum Records Launch, where you can check out new bands Pink Kross, Lean Tales, The Just Joans, The Felt Tips and Miss Leggy Pee for a pop-indie evening.

The Lava Experiments
Friday @ Nice N Sleazy /7.30pm / £TBC
The electronica triplets celebrate their second EP in their scheduled trilogy of releases with their launch party.

Bronto Skylift
Friday @ Avalanche Records In Store / 4pm / Free
This punk grunge duo give a free in-store performance at Avalanche Records as a precursor to their EP release later in the week.

The Hardy Souls, The Rudiments, The Echo Session
Saturday @ 13th Note /4pm / £5
Back to traditional rock'n'roll with The Hardy Souls, supported by local band The Echo Session and American counterparts the Rudiments bringing a punk sound to the night.

Words: Billy Hamilton, Clare Sinclair, Jodi Mullen

What have we missed? Tell us below, or add it to our gig guide by emailing


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Friday, 28 August 2009

This week we have been mostly listening to...

Ordinary Allstars – I See

The Ordinary AllstarsHaving spent the last few days trying to make a podcast out of Scottish hip hop acts, we realised how little there were around worth playing. This makes the Ordinary Allstars all the more remarkable, as this track can hold its own in any company. With raspy vocals and slick production, MC Hasta and the troops have pulled off something rare – quality Scottish hip hop.

MySpace / UtR profile

Stevie Kearney

Roddy Hart - Dead of the Night

Roddy HartThe trouble with iTunes (oh, insert your computer-based music management system of choice) is that you have a tendency to add tracks and forget all about them until they pop up in shuffle mode one day. It took me a long time to place this slice of summery guitar-pop, because the last time I came across Roddy Hart he was playing a weekly acoustic Americana session in a Glasgow pub. If 'Dead of the Night' is anything to go by, second album Sign Language (due October) is going to be a stonker.


Lisa-Marie Ferla

Money Can't Buy Music – Thunder + Lightning

Money Can't Buy MusicA couple of weeks ago an album by a duo called Money Can't Buy Music winged its way onto the UtR desk. Whether the name is a knowing stab at the heart of the record industry or an attempt to put music on some kind of artistic pedestal is anyone's guess, but what is noteworthy here is that one half of MCBM is Gordon McIntrye of Edinburgh indie veterans ballboy. The album is a gentle thrum of autumnal soundscapes and brittle drums, while McIntyre - joined by Swedish singer Maja Mångård - observes Edinburgh life from his own detatched but curious stance.


Nick Mitchell

And So I Watch You From Afar - Set Guitars to Kill

ASIWYFAThey may not be Scottish but I was lucky enough to catch Belfast-based math-rock juggernaut And So I Watch You From Afar at Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh last weekend and was utterly blown away. The studio version of 'Set Guitars to Kill' doesn't nearly do justice to ASIWYFA's jaw-dropping live performance but it's still an absolute belter of a track.


Jodi Mullen

The Foundling Wheel - Mixed Minds and Missteps

The Foundling WheelSome weeks were made for The Foundling Wheel - this was most definitely one of them. With its pulsing drum undercurrent and peel of melting chimes, 'Mixed Minds and Missteps' catered for every vicissitude in the wayard roller coaster that was the last seven days. Played loud, it’s one of the most furious, grey-matter gnawing booms to emerge from Edinburgh in the last few years. But, de-volumised, a delicate tapestry of melody emerges that tugs heart strings and dampens tear ducts. Climaxing with a cacophonous flush of keys and beats, its one of those cuts that just makes everything better.


Billy Hamilton

What have you been mostly listening to this week? Tell us below...

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On the radar: The Pineapple Chunks

The Pineapple ChunksYou may not believe it, but getting the facts straight is a mantra that’s been drilled into the marrow of journalists since the rugrat days of hack school.

Sure, less scrupulous scribes at less scrupulous publications have refuted the pathway of morality, preferring to fish for sourceless quotes in their insatiable pursuit of circulation, but here at UtR we trade in one currency: the truth.

So when The Pineapple Chunks’ drummer Owen Williams tells us his band were formed “in 1985 as a Huey Lewis and The News tribute act”, the pinch of sodium chloride that usually accompanies our interviews was replaced with a ten tonne vat marked SAXA.

Play: Protest

You see, the Edinburgh quintet aren’t particularly serious when it comes to talking themselves up. In fact, when we settle down for our usual On the Radar natter, it quickly becomes apparent the group aren’t particularly serious about anything at all:

“[We make music] ‘cause it’s fun,” excites Williams. “Music is amazing, and we like to make it and play it front of other humans. Everyone should have a positive experience as much as possible. We think we make the kind of sound waves that help foster the feelings associated with positive vibes. It’s nice to get back to a child-like, animal state of being.”

This animal instinct is pitted at the heart of The Pineapple Chunks arrangements. At times taut and rampaging, at others ill-fitting and lucid, theirs is a sound that plastercasts 70s psychedelia with C86 sneaker-staring, jamming atop a scoffing iconoclastic narrative not far removed from Eddie Argos’ eye-rolled missives.

“We like to play with music, not just play it,” says Williams, riddling his way through the band’s MO. “Music is a creative force and we seem to be trying to tame it and control it. If you push it down on one side it just pops up on the other, so you have to jump, squeeze, shape, add and re-move because everything is different to each individual and to every moment. It’s about feelings and emotions. Its abstract. It’s a load of bollocks.”

Play: The Horror the Horror

Flushed out with creativity, it’s not surprising to learn The Pineapple Chunks dabble in a range of extra-curricular artistry: vocalist James Metcalfe has a portrait of Gregor Fisher up for a BP Portrait award; bass-player Judith Dodds does a sideline in bespoke T-shirts; guitarist Tim dabbles in oil painting; while Williams pummels drum-skins for a sprawl of local bands, including Rob St John and Benni Hemm Hemm.

So with their collective vision encapsulating a horizon of artistic endeavours, where do The Pineapple Chunks see their future lying?

“We already got to play with The Leg underneath a road so I think we can all die in a zen like universal of all encompassing, metaphysical peace,” babbles Williams. “Oh and we want to play a gig in Glasgow please, anyone, please, hello, anyone there? And we want to play a gig on a farm to only animals! We also don’t have any real proper good recordings, so we want to get into doing some of that.”

See The Pineapple Chunks live at the following shows:
27 Aug @ The Electric Circus, Edinburgh
8 Sep @ The Electric Circus, Edinburgh

Words: Billy Hamilton

The Pineapple Chunks: more bananas than pineapples? Let us know what you think below...

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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Under the Radar podcast #3

Podcast #3It's been a while 'in development' - or more accurately, 'on the backburner' - but at long last we present our third podcast to new music fans everywhere.

This time we paid a visit to Mr Stevie Kearney's home studio in Leith for the recording. Stevie is a regular UtR contributor and a genuine audio whizz, having presented his own shows on Fresh Air as well as setting up his own podcast over at Dylan and the Mule.

The third instalment is all about the music: we have an exclusive new track from Trapped in Kansas, a Springsteen cover by Beerjacket and new singles by UtR-featured Randan Discotheque and The Seventeenth Century.

On top of that, Stevie caught up with Edinburgh band White Heath for a chat at their recent EP launch, and there's more music from Glasgow/Dundee math rockers Popolo, a band we haven't featured yet (shock) in My Tiny Robots, and Small Town Boredom, the Paisely duo who were offered a record deal a couple of hours after appearing on UtR (yes, that's the sound of us patting our backs).

Hope you enjoy the show...

Play: Podcast #3

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Running order:
00:55: The Seventeenth Century - Roses in the Park
06:22: Beerjacket - Dancing in the Dark
10:15: Popolo - Or Optimism
13:45: Interview: White Heath
17:20: White Heath - Election Day
21:30: Trapped in Kansas - Carpathia
24:53: My Tiny Robots - Other People Matter
30:01: Randan Discotheque - Daily Record May 18th 1993
35:10: Small Town Boredom - White Cart Water

Words and podcast: Nick Mitchell, Stevie Kearney

Previous UtR podcasts

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The Shipping Forecast Garden Party

The Shipping Forecast Garden Party
[Little Pebble]

Relying on the Scottish weather is usually an act of sheer folly. But, for Shipping Forecast Garden Party (SFGP) organiser Dav MacNaughton, it’s integral to the success of his monthly music gathering.

“This is only our second show - another one we had planned was cancelled due to poor weather,” says McNaughton. “We had to cancel one show we were putting on with FOUND, Rozi Plain and We See Lights which was a bit gutting so lets pray for the sun.”

Based in the outdoor courtyard of Edinburgh’s Pear Tree bar, SFGP is a novel Sunday afternoon jamboree of music, barbecue and - luck prevailing - sunshine.

With a roster containing Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Zoey Van Goey, The Stormy Seas, Come In Tokyo, Ben TD and Ardent John, this month’s SFGP offers up a vibrant aural boost to the dissipating Fringe festivities.

“I'd love it if people did come down not only to support the band but also the event, that would make me chuffed to bits,” says McNaughton. “I think the fact it's an outdoor daytime event it should be a pretty chilled out fun day, I can't think of a better way so spend a Sunday than in a beer garden having a few beers with my pals and listening to some good music.”

And the shipping forecast for the day?

MacNaughton deadpans: “Hopefully pretty damned stormy.”

Words: Billy Hamilton

The Shipping Forecast Garden Party starts at 1pm on Sunday 30 August in the Pear Tree courtyard, Edinburgh. Admission is diddly-squat.

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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

On the radar: The Lava Experiments

The Lava Experiments

Play: The Release

Play: Piecing Memories Together

“We all have a unique musical fingerprint, and the reason I write the music I do is because it’s the type of music I want to hear.”

So says Fraser Rowan of Glasgow electronic three-piece The Lava Experiments. “Some choose to ignore it in favour of sounding like a specific genre or act. I write music to listen to it.”

And perfectionist Rowan has a tendency to listen to his music for “days on end, continually tweaking it and developing new versions”.

It’s a process mirrored in the development of his band since its inception as a solo project in 2005. Following the self-release of debut album Wavelength and some early live shows, Rowan added bass player Roddy Campbell to the mix. Securing the services of Alan Wond on drums at the tail end of 2008 completed the transformation from one-man bedroom project to fully-fledged live band, with Rory McGregor now on bass.

“Up until I caught UNKLE live at the ABC in 2007 on their War Stories tour, I was content to play laid-back electronic style soundscapes; just me and my guitar, my vocals and my laptop,” Rowan explains of the act’s evolution in sound. “That night at the ABC blew me away – those electronic pioneers were on stage with a band! They were brutal, heavy and irresistible.

“That was a life-changing moment – and why I decided to get a bass player and drummer on board.”

This month sees the release of 'Blackbody Vol. II' through Hanamuke. The second in what is intended to be a trilogy of EPs is a five-track slice of gorgeously cinematic electronica, reminiscent in places of Kraftwerk or a heavier Explosions in the Sky.

Opening track 'Piecing Memories Together' sets the scene with Rowan’s dreamy vocals and swirling synth building over delicate acoustic guitar and ambient drums. The vocals take a back seat on atmospheric 'Sun Flies', and 'River Shape' is an interlude of pure Sunday morning ambience. 'Ring to the Dark Place' and 'The Release' round the EP off in spectacular style, the latter a piece of dark, electronic shoegaze showing the versatility the additional band members have brought to the project.

“The structural style employed in our songs is the antithesis of the ‘intro, verse, chorus’ gubbins,” says Rowan. “Our tunes tend to start off quiet, gradual. Using repetition and introducing new parts from other instruments, each piece evolves – some further than others.

“This style was definitely borrowed from Loop and early Spiritualized. It has also resulted in comparisons to the likes of Explosions in the Sky and God Speed You Black Emperor and, although I don’t think we sound like them, I see where they come from.”

Rowan is proud to be a part of the Scottish music scene, describing it as “vibrant, varied and visceral. Fantastic and unparalleled too, but they don’t begin with V,” he quips. “We’ve had folks from across the world contacting us on MySpace wanting to know what’s in the water supply in Scotland as it’s producing such fantastic bands. The ones that make it are only the tip of the iceberg.

“In Glasgow in particular we are very lucky – every night of the week there is a variety of excellent bands playing in one of our fantastic small venues. It’s a privilege that you only realise when you are no longer here.”

Blackbody Vol. II is released on Monday, 31st August. The band will celebrate this second EP with a launch party at Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow on 4th September, and the final part of the trilogy is scheduled to follow next year.

Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla

Did The Lava Experiments cause a sonic eruption in your ears? Discuss...

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Monday, 24 August 2009

On the radar: Popolo


Play: Or Optimism

Play: Friendship Injection

Aside from forays into electronica, post-rock and metal, this blog has swayed towards bands with acoustic and/or folk tendencies.

This hasn't been any deliberate strategy on our part; it just so happens that some of the best new bands around these parts (and especially Edinburgh) are using folk elements in especially forward-thinking ways.

But there's another kind of music gaining traction in Scotland, one that can be heard in the slinky electronica of Errors or the disciplined dynamics of Galchen. However you want to describe it, it's music that aims not to soothe but to jolt, unsettle and excite.

Popolo's short, sharp guitar jams extend this style of unnerving dance-rock in another new direction. The quartet - based between Dundee and Glasgow due to work committments - accept that the reason they make music isn't to set the listener at ease, but neither are they aiming to blow minds.

Guitarist /synth player Tom Ogden: "We're playing music mainly because we're all good friends and thoroughly enjoy challenging music which is easy enough to swallow. It's a convenient way of hanging out as well as creating something worthwhile that hopefully people will enjoy."

PopoloTogether since January last year, Popolo are now being name-checked across the country as a band to watch, winning notable fans including artist David Shrigley, who gave them their very own logo »

The cartoonish, pop-art style suits a band with a sense of humour, and Popolo, who cite their influences as "all forms of techno, pushing the boundaries of fast food intake, post-gig-drive-home-sing-songs, 'Iron Man' by Black Sabbath and Fast Times at Ridgemont High" evidently like a laugh.

While the tracks posted above exude Popolo's almost robotic, no-nonsense essence, Ogden expects upcoming material to be a significant leap forward.

"We have very high hopes for the next batch of songs which will form our EP," he says. "We've started working on a couple of songs, one of which was demo'd in February, and it's coming along really well. The overall sound is far more powerful and as such everything that our earliest songs hinted at is exposed and exploited in a bigger way."

And Popolo are equally optimistic about the scene they're threatening to break out of.

"The Scottish music scene will almost always be at the vanguard in terms of the wider British scene and I think that's definitely true right now," Ogden says. "Bands like Findo Gask, The Ballad of Mable Wong, Errors and Copy Haho are pretty obvious examples of how strong it is right now."

Words: Nick Mitchell

Like what you hear? Catch Popolo live at the Captain's Rest, Glasgow on 19 Sep with Boycotts, and check their MySpace for future gig action.

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Sunday, 23 August 2009

Radar recommends: 23 - 29 August

We Were Promised Jetpacks
[We Were Promised Jetpacks: Milling about on Thursday]

Edinburgh and Glasgow always mop up the most gigs in Scotland, but usually we find a few in the likes of Aberdeen, Dundee or Inverness. Not so this week. Diddly squat.

If you don't believe us, leave a comment to tell us what we missed.


YourSound showcase: Mitchell Museum, RBRBR, Dupec
Sunday @ Cabaret Voltaire / £6 / 7pm
Three of our favourite Scottish bands on one bill. Mitchell Museum and RBRBR are dab hands with the synths, while Dupec are an all guns blazin' indie three-piece.

Neoviolet, Hannah O'Reilly, Jym Ponter and Come In Tokyo
Thursday @ The Ark / £4 / 7.30pm
Local bands, including hard-rocking duo Come in Tokyo.

Strike the Colours and Zoey Van Goey
Thursday @ Electric Circus / £4 / 7pm
Twee goodness, with Glasgow indie songstress Jenny Reeve's Strike the Colours and the finely-honed melodies of Zoey Van Goey.

Malcolm Middleton
Thursday @ Cabaret Voltaire / £12.50 / 7pm
Everyone's favourite miserablist stops by for the Edge Fest. But with talk of a hiatus, will this be his last show for a while?

Withered Hand, Meursault
Friday @ National Portrait Gallery / Free / 5pm
The lastest Rough Cut Nation gig comes from Edinburgh's Withered Hand, with a little help from friend and collaborator Neil Pennycook of Meursault.

Penny Black Remedy, The Red Well, Fanattica, The Stormy Seas
Saturday @ Henry's Cellar Bar / £5 / 8pm
A night of Balkan-ized tunes and bracing rock shanties.

Attic Lights, Sketches
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's / £7 / 7pm
Teenage Fanclub devotees Attic Lights haven't lived up to the early hype, so they have something to prove at this show.


Bill Callahan
Sunday @ Stereo / £12.50 / 8pm
Smoggy no more, the legendary lo-fi songwriter promotes one of this year’s best albums, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle.

Sleeping States, The Seventeenth Century, Andrea Malini
Monday @ Captain’s Rest / £6 / 8pm
Gorgeous, melancholy instrumentation from hotly-tipped Bella Union band. Support from Radar recommended folk The Seventeenth Century, and Andrea Marini.

Soulsavers ft. Mark Lanegan
Tuesday @ Oran Mor / £12.50 / 7.30pm
Dark electronic project featuring the former Screaming Trees frontman’s unmistakeable vocals.

**UtR's gig of the week**
We Were Promised Jetpacks, Some Young Pedro, Broken Records, Sparrow and the Workshop

Thursday @ The Mill (Oran Mor) / Free but ticketed / 8pm
Celebrating its first birthday, one of the better things corporate America has done for independent music welcomes back some favourite headliners and their own hot tips. Tickets are predictably like gold dust, but it’s sure to be a great night.

Proud Mary, John Rush, Majestic Dandelion, The Scuffers
Thursday @ ABC2 / £10 / 7pm
Up-and-coming Glasgow-based Americana from the Scuffers, kicking off a night in support of Proud Mary’s new album. Local acts John Rush and Majestic Dandelion complete the bill.

Run Toto Run, Maple Leaves, Sorren Maclean
Friday @ King Tut’s / £5 / 8.30pm
An eclectic line-up courtesy of Exposure Showcase, claiming to highlight the best of new bands across the UK. Run Toto Run make playful, sweet-voiced electropop while Maple Leaves’ summery folk has already come recommended. Mull-based singer-songwriter Maclean completes the line-up.

Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla, Nick Mitchell

What have we missed? Tell us below, or add it to our gig guide by emailing

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Friday, 21 August 2009

Tweet Nothings, feat. Young Fathers, Beerjacket, My Latest Novel

Tweet NothingsIt may be the quietest time of year for news but here at Under the Radar we're convinced that it's always Silly Season in the Scottish music scene. Once again we trawl the deepest depths of the Twitter ocean to bring you this week's Tweet Nothings...

Mogwai get political...
@plasmatron: Dear right wing Americans. The UK national health service is good because we don't let poor people die. You should try it sometime.

While Dananananakroyd invoke the number of the beast...
@dananananakroy: That was our 666th tweet. It smelt evil.

Young Fathers have discovered the caps lock key...

You Already Know celebrate the joys of small-town gigs...
@youalreadynews: Killie rocked, but had to boost off earlier than planned. Was a great night, the arena is a cracking wee pub-style venue. Now, some sleep.

After a summer of hard touring, Bronto Skylift lift the lid on their latest project...
@brontorawks: our EP is gettin gettin gettin there!

And Beerjacket is also letting the creative juices flow...
@beerjacket: is far from finished with 'Animosity'... but I feel the new songs coming. I can hear them too. I'm going to begin demoing them next week.

My Latest Novel get patriotic...
@mylatestnovel: Back my latest novels campaign for a new Scottish national anthem. let there be less english hating and more sunshine and more Leith.....

Unicorn Kid discovers the downside to being a 17-year-old music prodigy...
@unicornkid: I GOT ID'D. NO GOLD DUST FOR ME. ;(... Sneaked in, suck on that bouncer!

And finally, The Twilight Sad receive high praise indeed...
@thetwilightsad: we sound like "someone's funeral being petrol-bombed"

Words: Jodi Mullen

Play: Unicorn Kid - Lion Hat

Play: Dananananaykroyd - Pink Sabbath

Play: Twilight Sad - Reflection of the Television

Play: Bronto Skylift - Danny Glover Isn't Dead

Have we missed anything? Share any tweets that might have slipped our notice in the comments below...


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Thursday, 20 August 2009

Editorial: Can unsigned bands go it alone?

gramophoneRemember what music was like 'B.I.' (before internet, pictured right)? Before file sharing, iTunes, MP3 blogs, Last FM and Spotify, not to mention social networks like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

A time when the only outlets for new music were record shops, radio stations and gigs, and when bands were reliant on the music magazines and newspapers to spread the word on their latest single.

And what did these outlets have in common? They were easy to commercialize. CDs, radio playlists and gig tickets can all be quantified, controlled and monetized. Nothing slipped between the cracks, and the record labels were the custodians of the cashflow and the message, taking their sizeable cut of the profits.

How times change. In today's wired world a band can expose their first rudimentary recordings to the listening public within days or weeks of forming. Album sales have tanked, record shops have vanished and some of the best music magazines have ceased to exist (or remain relevant).

This would appear to indicate a power shift away from the corporations. But is it as simple as that, and is it really possible for a musician to achieve career-sustaining success without the backing of a record label?

Canadian band Metric decided to self-release their fourth album this year. Fantasies peaked at a respectable #6 in their native album chart, and guitarist Jimmy Shaw said at the time: "We might go down in flames, or it might be the best move ever. Either way it will have been on our terms, and that for us is success.”

And as The Guardian's music blog reported, London band The Boxer Rebellion recently self-released their comeback single 'Evacuate' and sold over half a million downloads on iTunes. That success led to a new kind of deal, not with a label but with retailer HMV. In effect, the high street chain invested in the band, paying for a physical release and funding the promotion in return for a cut of revenue and a string of exclusive in-store gigs.

The other side-stepping option is to set up your own label. The Futureheads' career may have gone off the boil, but a couple of years ago they set an example to other bands languishing on a major's roster by setting up Nul Records. True, they already had two records behind them, and most unsigned acts can't just summon such finance, but at least they showed that labels can be bypassed with a bit of hard work and self-belief.

Or can they? A popular path for many unsigned bands these days is to record a self-financed debut LP or EP, send it off to carefully chosen shops and journalists, and secretly hope that the word-of-mouth buzz reaches a label scout. Frightened Rabbit's Sing the Greys led to a deal with Fat Cat and the album's reissue, and it's doubtful whether the Scottish indie-rockers would have been able to achieve the transatlantic success they now enjoy without the marketeers, gig bookers and miscellaneous hype stirrers that a label can provide.

Alun WoodwardChemikal Underground founder and former Delgados man Alun Woodward (now flying solo as Lord Cut-Glass, pictured right) was pragmatic when we asked him whether bands can really do it themselves:

"I think the answer to the question is yes but only if you had a management company acting like a record company, in which case the answer is actually no, because you have basically started a new record label. As for a new band making an album, putting it up on iTunes and generating a career, I don't think it is feasible."

Another argument against self-releasing is based on perception. Often it's the most hard-working, self-promotional bands who become the most wearisome. We don't necessarily want to hear musicians tell us why we should buy their album. We just want them to get on with making music and let the media take care of the hyperbolic chatter.

It's something to do with protecting music's status as an artform, not an enterprise. Bands who ceaselessly promote themselves might attract the right kind of attention, but they also risk becoming public irritants.

Today there are more ways than ever of making a living out of music if you're good enough...

1. You can remain unsigned and retain complete independence, although you'll need to have a dedicated online fanbase and put in some hard graft of your own.

2. You can pay to record your first release with the hope that a discerning indie label comes along and sends you on your way to a wider audience.

3. If you have a blatantly commercial streak, you can hold out for one of the 'big four' (EMI/Sony/Universal/Warner) and sign away your credibility in exchange for corporate muscle and a fast track to the mainstream.

There is fourth option however. Forget the money, make the music you want to make, and to hell with the career plans.

Words: UtR

Can a band forge a career without a record label?
Are record labels hopelessly clinging on to an outdated business model?
Can endless self-promotion put you off an artist?


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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

On the radar: Brother Louis Collective

Brother Louis Collective

Play: Barren Years

Play: Squealing Pigs

Orchestral-folk combo Brother Louis Collective have been hauling their cargo of bittersweet, emotive pop tunes all over the Scottish music scene for about three years now.

The six-piece, led by ‘Brother’ Louis Abbott, perform in a number of other mainstay Glasgow bands including The Moth and the Mirror and alongside Anna Meldrum, who recently upgraded from solo to band status.

After releasing their first single 'These Barren Years' in March the band took to the studio to record a full-length album.

"We chose to record at Chem19, working with Paul 'Walnuts' Savage, and he was great at getting the best out of us," says guitarist Gordon Skene. "We did the drums and bass live, and seemed to race through everything else, it was a real breeze for the most part.

"The atmosphere in there is so relaxed, with daylight, and a fussball table. What more can you ask for? It felt like the best time to get this collection of songs committed to tape, so we got some money together and headed in and just got the job done."

On stage the band pick and mix instruments, switching between guitar, flute, clarinet, and upright bass. This plethora of instrumentation leads easily to comparisons with the endlessly referenced Arcade Fire. But if anything they’re a gentler version; just as passionate, but like a younger, more instantly likeable sibling. A Haribo Arcade Fire if you like.

It's the quality of the vocals and lyrics that sets Brother Louis Collective apart. Clever observations of life and love fall from Louis and female vocalist Sarah Hayes’ mouths with real warmth. In live favourite ‘Squealing Pigs’ there’s even a good, old-fashioned hoe-down in the mid-section.

After playing T in the Park’s T Break stage this summer the band are hoping to make some progress with their new recordings.

"It feels like our time to push things forward," Skene says. "Until now we've been playing carefully, treading water a little and finishing uni, working at jobs and all the rest of it.

"But now things in our personal lives are shaking up a bit we're hoping to make the most of it and get some good gigs, find somebody to put our record out, make a name for ourselves outside of Glasgow and Edinburgh."

Words: Aimi Gold

Like what you hear? Watch Brother Louis Collective live at An Tober, Isle of Mull on 21 Aug and a new venue TBC in Glasgow on 14 Sep. Check their MySpace for future dates.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Have your say... on the UtR forum

UtR forumThere's nothing like a good debate.

And whether the issue has been critical hatchet jobs or the death of music journalism, we've had a few here on UtR.

But comment threads under blog posts have their limitations. They're a bit transient; check back in a few days and they're likely to be well down the page, if not gone altogether.

So we've set up a forum page on Under the Radar, which will hopefully become an integral part of the site. The button is now up on the menu bar above, but if your mouse hand is feeling particularly lazy you can also get to it by clicking here.

To kick it off we've created threads on bands and gigs to watch out for, so expect a raft of unsigned musos and hype-hungry promoters to have their two cents' worth.

But - within the gargantuan expanse of the Scottish music scene - anything goes, so start your own topics, join the debate and keep it clean.

(There's no need to register but if you do you get to do cool stuff like change your avatar.)

Let battle commence...


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Sunday, 16 August 2009

Radar recommends: 16 - 22 August

Frightened Rabbit
[Frightened Rabbit: happy bunnies]

So the Scottish summer is in its last death throes and all we have to look forward to are shorter days and worse weather ahead, right? Wrong. Wrap up warm and get yourself down to one of the good-looking gigs happening in Scotland this week. One word of warning though: avoid Hampden Park like the plague on Tuesday.


The Fire and I
Friday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £4
Bathgate-based two-piece The Fire and I take their grungy power pop to the Granite City. One bass, one drumkit, a whole lot of noise.

Fudge Present: Element 106, Scandal Extracts, Ded Rabbit
Saturday @ The Moorings / 8pm / £3
Ear-splitting progressive death metal from local heroes Element 106. Lo-fi grunge rockers Scandal Extracts and Highland blues rock outfit Ded Rabbit round out one of the week's more eclectic gigs.


Sunday @ Bristo Hall / 11.30am - late / free
Okay, here goes...Wounded Knee, Tisso Lake, Hexicon, Jo Foster, Moustache of Insanity, Allo, Darlin', Withered Hand, Rob St. John, My Tiny Robots, Enfant Bastard, Come In Tokyo, The Pineapple Chunks, Meursault, The Leg. You know there's only one place to be this Sunday.

Broken Records
Monday @ Queen's Hall / 7pm/ £10
Heart-string plucking lilts and bombastic throbs of instrumentation from the 4AD-signed local boys.

Frightened Rabbit

Tuesday @ Queen's Hall / 7pm / £11
Frantic guitar caterwauling? Check. Mushy lyrics bellowed by Scottish brogue? Check. Borderline irksome sing-a-longs? Check. Yep, that must mean Frightened Rabbit are back in town folks. Support comes from Meursault.

Alex Cornish

Tuesday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / TBC
Acoustically strummed ballads from a man who continues to divide the UtR offices like a melody making fraction.

Snoopy!! The Musical
Wednesday (actually, every day until 21 August) @ Venue 45 / 10.35am / £6
Oh come on, don't be so po-faced. This is music. It's happening in Edinburgh. It gravitates around Snoopy. What's not to like?

The Phantom Band
Wednesday @ Electric Circus / 7pm / £8
Can't decide whether this mob are the next Beta Band or the next no-hit wonders? Here's your chance to decide.

Bang Bang Club: Paul Vickers & The Leg
Thursday@ Guilded Balloon / 12.30am / £7.50
Depending on which way you look at it, this is either a late or early showing from decibel-pushing psycho babblers Paul Vickers & The Leg.

Sparrow & The Workshop

Thursday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / tbc
Another chance to see one of Scotland's finest purveyors of woodland pop

cryoverbillionaires, The Strands, I See Shapes
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / tbc
We do like a spot of cryoverbillionaires' shake, rattle'n'rock here at UtR so this gig with The Strands and I See Shapes is just the ticket.

Zoey Van Goey
Saturday @ The National Portrait Gallery /5pm/Free
Sugar-coated folk-pop will be sprinkled all over the National Portrait Gallery by this long-touted Glasgow band. Be in attendance if you want a sweet little pick-me-up that could have you buzzing like a four-year-old who’s had his run of the treat cupboard.


Enfant Bastard, The Foundling Wheel, Asthmatic Astronaut
Tuesday @ Pivo Pivo / £3 / 8pm
A trio of Edinburgh acts invade Glasgow. Enfant Bastard and The Foundling Wheel make esoteric noise-core, while Asthmatic Astronaut deals in dark hip hop beats.

A Band Called Quinn
Thursday @ The Dive / 8pm / £5
One of the first bands 'on our radar', stylized glam rockers ABCQ launch their new single at this intimate gig.

Smiths/Morrissey Tribute Night
Friday @ King Tut's / £8 / 8.30pm
Even if you're not a devotee of Mozza, there's enough musical talent on offer at this charity gig night to entertain you, including UtR-tipped Miss the Occupier and Woodenbox With a Fistful of Fivers.

Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Ming Ming & the Ching Chings, French Wives and Sol Diablos
Friday @ Corinthian/Lite Bar / £5 (£4) / 8pm
On the same night those busy Woodenbox boys play another gig with two of our recommended bands in Ming Ming and French Wives, as well as Sol Diablos.

Words: Jodi Mullen, Billy Hamilton, Nick Mitchell, Aimi Gold

What have we missed? Tell us below, or add it to our gig guide by emailing

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Friday, 14 August 2009

This week we have been mostly listening to...

BeerjacketYou can't accuse us of being narrow in our tastes here at UtR. The first of our 'office stereo' blogs takes in a Springsteen cover, noisy post-rock, sweet girl-pop and star-gazing indie.

We may have our private little disagreements over which music to showcase, but this feature is an anything-goes platform where we'll all be talking individually about our favourite bands, must-hear tracks and guilty pleasures.

The question is, are you old enough to get the Fast Show reference in the headline? (Clue)

'Dancing in the Dark'

MySpace / UtR profile

Having featured Beerjacket in an On The Radar article a few months back, I've kept an ear out for him ever since. It turns out Rolling Stone were rather excited about this track of his, which certainly got my attention. A Springsteen cover by a Scottish solo artist sounds a potentially hazardous combination, but by keeping it simple and letting the quality of the song shine through, Mr Beerjacket has created something wonderfully infectious.

Stevie Kearney

What The Blood Revealed
'The Corporation As We Know It Is Dead, Dead, Dead


What The Blood RevealedDespite loving the band, I wasn't entirely convinced that What The Blood Revealed were the 'post-metal' act they labelled themselves. Post-rock with a bit of noise, maybe. Then I heard this riff-laden beast of a track.

It's got that slow lead up to a massive crescendo thing going on but with thumping bass and crashing drums and this monster guitar riff that just builds and builds. It's more Red Sparrowes or recent Pelican than Isis but that's no bad thing. Who knows, given time we might just see WTBR pop up on Southern Lord themselves.

Jodi Mullen

Pearl and the Puppets
'Because I Do'


Pearl and the PuppetsThere's something alluring about a singing voice that sounds like Jodie Foster's accent - and all week I've found myself humming and bopping along on the subway to this catchy upbeat yet chilled out tune. The innocent sound of Pearl’s voice combined with the sweet yet meaningful lyrics make this my tune of the week, and I can’t stop myself from pressing the repeat button.

Clare Sinclair

Cancel the Astronauts
'Love Somebody'

MySpace / UtR profile

Cancel the AstronautsWith noggin pounding and fingers twitching, my over-worked aches have this week been soothed by the sound of Cancel the Astronauts’ massaging jangles. Already regulars on our blog, the Edinburgh quartet effortlessly fashion out a soar-away pop opulence reminiscent of Gold Mother-era James. My chosen track, the synth riddled ‘Love Somebody’, finds the quartet at their most dextrous; initially passing off as a hand-holding melee of strum and percussion, this ebullient sheen soon fades away for a tragic tale of heartbroken rejection. Quite simply, magnificent.

Billy Hamilton

There Will Be Fireworks
'We Were A Roman Candle'

MySpace / UtR Profile

There Will Be FireworksProving that an appearance on STV's The Hour show need not spell career suicide, There Will Be Fireworks singer Nicky McManus told me after a recent gig that the band will soon be starting work on their second album. Personally I'm still not tiring of the self-titled debut, and just this morning their impassioned tones greatly improved my weary, rain-drenched walk to work. This song epitomises their boundless ambition, ranging from breathy atmospherics to cacophonous screaming.

Nick Mitchell

What have you been listening to this week? Tell us below...

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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

On the radar: The Occasional Flickers

The Occasional Flickers

Play: A word of your friend

In this day and age, sounding like Simon and Garfunkel is not the accolade it once was. And when your band originated in Greece and released its first record on a Peruvian label, such languid pigeonholing seems completely superfluous.

It’s safe to say The Occasional Flickers are no run-of-the-mill folk pop outfit. An all-star collection of Edinburgh’s talent, the band’s inner-core has been working on other projects for years.

Drummer Ryan Marinello is generally associated with My Tiny Robots; vocalist Ola Rek has her own audio/visual project Long Long Walk Home; trumpet and double bass maestro Ailig Thomas Hunter is a contemporary classical musician; and electric guitarist Bart Owl has been part of some of Edinburgh’s finest bands, most notably Under the Radar favourites Eagleowl.

Coming together with vocalist/guitarist and band vanguard Giorgos Bouras, this exceptional casting purveys a laid back sound of understated wonderment as The Occasional Flickers.

After starting the band in Athens, Greece way back in 2002, Bouras has, in Auld Reekie, found a fresh creative hub: “I moved to Edinburgh and last year we formed the current band,” says Bouras, “and, although so far it's me who writes the songs, everyone contributes their own parts.”

As Bouras sees it, each member being involved in another project can only be positive for The Occasional Flickers. He explains: “What I really like about the Edinburgh scene is that everyone seems to help each other by playing in each other's bands, going to each other's gigs, organising events together. The atmosphere is very encouraging."

The side-project nature of the band has created a queer sonic freedom; a sound not specific to any one scene. The band refer to their music as “timeless” and it’s an appellation that certainly trickles through tracks like 'A Word of your Friend', where a folk influenced homeliness lies central to its appeal.

Due to the disparate nature of the band’s make-up, prolific gigging is off the agenda for the immediate future. The priority is the production of their second album, which Bouras hopes to complete by September:

“Somehow, the fact that we are recording a second album is an achievement itself,” he says. “When I started I didn't expect that anyone but my close friends would get to hear my music. So knowing that there are a few people who like our music is enough to keep us going”

Signing off with a J.D. Salinger quote, Bouras quips: “The worst that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.”

With album number two almost in the can and gigs lined up for September, there’s little chance fans of The Occasional Flickers will be left even slightly unhappy.

Words: Stevie Kearney

The Occasional Flickers play Capitol in Glasgow on the 25th of September and Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s the following night. Their new album is due for release soon.

Play: Rucksack

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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Where they are now: The Second Hand Marching Band

The Second Hand Marching Band

Play: A Dance to Half Death

One of the suggestions which arose in the comments thread that followed our first editorial 'the sharp end of the hatchet job' a couple of weeks ago was that it's fine to introduce new bands, but wouldn't it be better to have a status check further down the line to find out which stage of world domination they've actually reached.

With this in mind we thought it was a good time to report on the current success of The Second Hand Marching Band. Billy profiled the fluid 22-piece ensemble (comprised of members of bands like Danananaykroyd, How to Swim and Eagleowl) back at the beginning of April, paying hommage to their "swaying, earthy orchestration and climatic post-rock".

Now it seems like everyone's talking about them. Last night they performed a live session on Vic Galloway's BBC Introducing radio show which included a cover of the At the Drive-in song 'One Armed Scissor'. The collective are gaining a bit of a reputation for their discerning indie covers after performing a version of 'Atlas' by Battles at the All Tomorrow's Parties film premiere in Edinburgh last month.

They have now sold all 150 copies of their excellent debut EP A Dance to Half Death, so the generous souls are giving it away as a free download.

You can watch the full spectacle of The Second Hand Marching Band live at the 13th Note, Glasgow this Saturday (15 Aug) and keep up-to-date with all their movements via Twitter.

World domination score: 5.5

Words: Nick Mitchell

Play: TSHMB - We Walk in the Room

Debate: tell us what you think of one of Scotland's biggest bands below...

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Monday, 10 August 2009

On the radar: Cybraphon

[Is it a wardrobe? Is it a band? No, it's Cybraphon!]

Play: The Balkan Bazaar

We like our web 2.0 here at Under the Radar. Almost as soon as we started the blog we got ourselves a MySpace page, a Twitter account and a Facebook group. (Did we ever mention our rather pointless Last FM profile too?)

Yes, we're well aware of the narcissism involved, but it genuinely cheers us when we get one more friend, follower or group member, and it's doubly nice when these folks start reading the blog and telling us what they think.

It turns out we're not alone in our hopeless dependency. Cybraphon, Scotland's first robotic band, is utterly hooked. We got in touch with the obsessive contraption to find out what makes it tick, chime and whir...

Hi Cybraphon, where are you at the moment?
"The Inspace Gallery, Edinburgh (Crichton Street)."

How long have you been making music?
"Only a few months as a full band."

Why the name Cybraphon?
"My creators named me 'Cybraphon' as it's unique, so that I can search for myself easily online."

What are your influences?
"The Orchestrion and player piano. Facebook, Google, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo . . ."

What do you think makes you different from anything else out there?
"I've got a really original look and sound: don't you think I'm much prettier than human bands?"

Of course. And what are your ambitions?
"I want what every band wants – a record deal, big budget music videos, world tours, fame, fortune and groupies."

[FOUND feat. Cybraphon session from Off the Beaten Tracks]

Cybraphon is the latest madcap project from FOUND, the Edinburgh band who like nothing better than exploring other areas of artistic practice. Last year the collective built a robot musical installation at Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, and Cybraphon, which won New Media Scotland's Alt-w award, is a natural progression.

I asked FOUND's Tommy Perman whether the antique-looking robot is a world first: "There are various other robot bands out there but to our knowledge Cybraphon is the first to play different music depending on its online popularity."

The good news for Cybraphon - whose components include an organ, cymbals, chimes, an Indian instrument called a Shruti box and a MacBook Pro - is that its online popularity is soaring. The perfect 'And finally...' slot filler, the 'Autonomous Emotional Robot Band' has already been picked up by TV networks and news sites across the world.

Perman is delighted with the hype. "We've been stunned by how well it's been received so far," he says. "The story got picked up by US geek magazine which lead to a CNN online feature. Since then it's gone global. Yesterday we discovered a hilarious feature that had run on a US cable TV channel. Watch it, it's phenomenally funny – it totally reminds me of a spoof from 'The Day Today' or 'Brass Eye'."

But Perman has ambitions as a human band too, and the possibility that Cybraphon might just overshadow FOUND is becoming a concern: "To be honest, we're becoming quite jealous of Cybraphon – it's already massively more popular on Facebook than FOUND and seems to have broken America without having to go anywhere. FOUND spent a great deal of money and effort going to SXSW earlier this year and are still relative unknowns! Little did we know that all we needed to do was build an emotional robot wardrobe."

Keep Cybraphon in a good mood by befriending it on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Vimeo, Flickr, and YouTube.

Words: Nick Mitchell

You can view Cybraphon at the Inspace Gallery until 5 September as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. FOUND will perform in a 'battle of the bands' with their creation this Thursday (13 Aug) from 8pm. To book your free place click here.

Play: Cuckoo Clock (Five Fifty Four)

Play: A Quiet Sadness

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Sunday, 9 August 2009

Radar recommends: 9 - 15 August

[Dollskabeat: playing support to Telepathe on Wednesday]

The size of this column seems to ebb and flow from week to week. Last week there was little musical sustenance for Scotland's music lovers; this week there's enough out there to give you a dose of heartburn if they're not careful. If you happen to live in the 'big two' that is...


The Lost Brothers, The Kays Lavelle
Sunday @ Sneaky Pete's £6 7pm
Melancholy folk from The Lost Brothers, with piano-led indie-rock from Edinburgh's Kays Lavelle.

Telepathe, Dollskabeat
Wednesday @ Sneaky Pete's £7 7pm
Trendier-than-thou Brooklyn electro dames roll into town, flanked by Edinburgh's own glitch queen, Dollskabeat.

This is Music: Dead Boy Robotics, The Foundling Wheel
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's 7pm £tbc
The August instalment of Auld Reekie's finest monthly gig night showcases the talents of two noise-inclined members of the Bear Scotland collective.

The GRV Fest: Ritalin Kids, Dupec, Boycotts, The Nature Boys
Friday @ The GRV £tbc 5pm onwards
The first night of The GRV's big bash is stuffed with local talent, including two of our favourites in Dupec and Boycotts.

The GRV Fest: The Debuts, Epic 26, OK Social Club, 10:04s, The Breech, Homework, The Steals
Saturday @ The GRV £tbc 3pm onwards
Day two of The GRV Fest is even bigger. Can you last the distance?

Young Fathers, Unicorn Kid
Saturday @ Cabaret Voltaire £7 8pm
Proving that Edinburgh's music scene is more diverse than first meets the eye, Young Fathers and Unicorn Kid bring bombastic hip hop and sugar-rich techno to the table respectively.


Stellar Sounds: Rio Callahan, Funksion, Federation of the Disco Pimp
Wednesday @ Glasgow Science Centre | £12 | 7pm
A gig with a difference this, given that it takes place in a planetarium. See Stevie's preview a few posts down the page.

The Mill: Maple Leaves, Panda Su
Thursday @ Òran Mór | Free but ticketed | 8pm
Delectable folk-flecked indie from two of Scotland's brightest acts.

Telepathe, RBRBR, Super Adventure Club
Thursday @ King Tut's | £7.50 | 8.30pm
The aforementioned Telepathe head west, bringing with them two of Edinburgh's best new bands as support.

Attic Lights, The Seers, Invisible Republic
Friday @ Stereo | £9 | 7pm
Fundraiser for the Scottish Epilepsy Initiative, headed up by the winsome indie-pop of Attic Lights.

Boycotts, French Wives, Kalla Heartshake
Saturday @ ABC2 | £5 | 7pm
Boycotts launch their eagerly anticipated EP at this gig, with excellent support from French Wives and Kalla Heartshake.

Múm, My Latest Novel
Saturday @ Òran Mór | £15 | 7pm
Exquisite electronica-tinged indie from Icelanders Múm, not to mention the forward thinking sounds of Greenock-based My Latest Novel.

The Second Hand Marching Band, Over the Wall
Saturday @ The 13th Note | £tbc | 9pm
We can't get enough of SHMB's heartfelt shanties - or Over the Wall's textured pop for that matter.

Words: Nick Mitchell

What have we missed? Tell us below, or add it to our gig guide by emailing

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Saturday, 8 August 2009

Tweet Nothings feat. Mogwai, Young Fathers, Findo Gask and many more

It's been a quiet week from Scottish bands with festivals at home and abroad eating up our songsters' precious time. But here at Under the Radar we've delved the murkiest depths of the internet to bring you the richest pickings from the Twitter grapevine this week.

Findo Gask don't beat about the Boosh...

@wearefindogask: If dreams came true? Noel Fielding looking into a mirror, punching his own reflection.

Pose Victorious aren't entirely convinced about the merits of a Scottish summer...
@Posevictorious: It's humbug time.

Just as sombre, Dananananakroyd announce that drummer John is feeling a bit poorly...
@dananananakroy: Sorry everyone, had to cancel remaining Australian shows - John broke his arm during the show in Sydney last night. Get better soon JBJ! x

Unicorn Kid considers the dangers of selling out...
@unicornkid: One of my remixes have apparently been rejected on the grounds of being 'too commerical', haha! Who would have thought.

Although Young Fathers are already a step ahead...
@Youngfathers: young fathers cooking show coming

But does Japan fear Mogwai?
@plasmatron: Heading out to Summersonic in Tokyo. Aphex and NIN are playing too. Its going to be a tough day for Japanese ears ;)

Calvin Harris finally produces something of note...
@calvinharris:I made an excellent bit of mashed potato though so it's not all bad

While Epic26 show their support for some of Scotland's more unorthodox venues...
@Epic26: Just heading to a meeting at Saughton prison ahead of our gig there on the 11th.

And finally, more schadenfreude from Findo Gask...
@wearefindogask: If dreams came true? Bono standing at a hole-in-the-wall cash machine, crying into it.

Words: Jodi Mullen (and Twitter)

Something missing? Any 140-character-or-less slices of genius we've missed out on this week? Do tell below...


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Friday, 7 August 2009

On the radar: Emily Scott

In this era of sleek pocket-sized design, the lurching double bass is a curious oddity. But when Emily Scott's the girl massaging sweet notes from its overbearing hull, you quickly realise it's not the size of the instrument that matters, it’s what you do with it.

As a composer of feather cushioned reveries, Scott certainly has a keen ear for the contrabass’s melodic complexities, but when it comes to manoeuvring the grandiose bulk she’s a little less willing:

“I ask myself why I'm doing what I'm doing a lot when I’m carrying my bass about at two in the morning,” she half-jokes. “I don’t feel a need to be heard or to make a point or anything, it’s just a really enjoyable thing to do. I see it like I’m making something, like when it was a rainy day when I was a kid and I’d get busy building with shiny paper and glue. Actually, I still do that.”

Such childish quirks are sprawled throughout Scott’s magnetic compositions. A former pre-school music and art teacher in New York, her songs are imbued with a sprite that could only ever emanate from the rabble of the playground. Yet behind this callow facade lurks a multi-skilled musician with an extraordinary deftness of touch.

“I'm a competent double-bassist,” she says reticently. “It's what I really love, but I compose mainly on the guitar and recently on piano as they're more logical for writing. My favourite ad-hoc instrument to date is an open jar of buttons I played on one of my new tracks. As I shook it through the song it sorted itself into order of size and then all these feathers and old stamps worked their way gradually right out of the jar and into my lap. It was a special moment, like a late night animation.”

Play: Don't You Tease Me

Scott's kooky idealism inevitably draws parallels with Soviet songstress Regina Spektor and a classically trained background further fans this suggestive flame. Yet, her wispy, skyward intone and organic vignettes suggest the overtures of Joni Mitchell played a greater part in shaping her sophomore long-player abcdefg...etc....

Unsurprisingly, Scott’s idea of inspiration is a smidgeon more abstract: “I like the cracks in the pavement, the tiny things that other people don't tend to notice - it comes from years of shoegazing,” she explains. “I think there is something in my music for anyone who wants to listen. I hope what I do is interesting; it's not there to blow anyone's mind, but it's quietly eclectic.”

The past 12 months have seen the Auld Reekie-dwelling Scott frequently collude with UtR favourite Rob St John and this Saturday (8 Aug) they’ll combine to play the unusual confines of Edinburgh’s National Portrait Gallery.

“It's a collaboration between the gallery, Avalanche records and the Rough Cut Nation art collective, who have an exhibition on during the festival,” says Scott of the unique showing. “It's always great to play in an interesting venue, and the connection with the art exhibition is an obvious draw. We're looking forward to a full band collaboration with Rob St John to fill out our usual line-up.”

This evasion of a comfort zone makes Emily Scott one of Edinburgh's most cherished musical possessions. Free from constraint, her unbridled approach to expressionism creates a sound that’s crisp, poignant and, perhaps most importantantly to Scott, liberating. It's the sort of freedom she's always sought:

“It's a challenge for me to play in a situation where not every single aspect of the performance is on the page, and then further removed by a conductor's interpretation," Scott reveals. "A classical education was an amazing opportunity, but not very realistic, and it's hard to let go of. I wish I'd had the common sense to be in a band when I was 13 like so many others - instead I was a total bubble-head.”

Words: Billy Hamilton

Play: Pageant Queen

Emily Scott plays the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh with Rob St John this Saturday (8 Aug) at 5pm. You can also catch her playing live at the following shows:

8 Aug @ Shakespeare's, Edinburgh (2pm)

18 Aug @ Medina, Edinburgh
19 Sep @ Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh

30 Sep @ Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

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Thursday, 6 August 2009

On the radar: Call To Mind

Call to Mind
[Picture: Steven Gallagher]

Play: All The Happiness In My Head

Some bands are all talk. They may not be able to further the evolution of music in any meaningful way, but catch their eye after a gig and they'll drone on for ten minutes about how they're getting a lot of hype and how a few record labels are sniffing around but how that doesn't matter y'know, 'cos it's all about the music.

It's a well-worn cliché, but other bands prefer to let their music do the talking, one being Call To Mind. Guitarist Jamie Ross explains their modus operandi: "We just like to keep our heads down and write and record and occasionally play gigs. It’s difficult sometimes when you are on your own (without a label) with day jobs etc, but our songs stand tall next to anyone’s."

That last declaration may carry more than an echo of the aforementioned ear-bending, but coming from one quarter of this Glasgow-via-Inverness group, it sounds much more like considered self-assurance.

Jamie, along with fellow Invernessians Martin Ross (vocals) and Andrew Masson (bass), lived in Glasgow long before Call To Mind's inception. They met drummer Joe Smillie through mutual friends - namely the guys from Barn Owl (who we featured last month) - and they've been making their slow-burning, progressive rock for about a year and a half now.

Having turned the heads of diverse taste-makers from Alan McGee to Glasgow PodcART, their music - imagine the kind of cast-adrift melodies favoured by Grizzly Bear stretched out onto a vast panoramic canvass - is surely deserving of a wider audience.

Although they cite their influences bluntly as "Kate Bush, Elbow, Super Furry Animals", Call To Mind are obviously passionate about their music: "We would still be hanging out listening to records or watching gigs and stuff if we weren't in a band," says Jamie.

The band's ambitions are similarly straightforward: "To get to that self-sustaining point anyone musically minded aims for," Jamie says, "whether that’s on someone’s label or on our own."

While they're still waiting on that record deal themselves, Call To Mind are full of admiration for some of their more established musical contemporaries. "There are some great bands that have broken through recently, Frightened Rabbit, The Phantom Band and The Twilight Sad being good examples," Jamie says. "Yet there are many gems under the soil with little or no backing behind them, like Yahweh, Barn Owl and Bronto Skylift." [Ahem, we've featured all three! - Ed]

And having left the Highlands behind, do they still consider it a good place for music?

"Inverness is always great when we play there," Jamie says. "Hootananny in particular is always thriving with something, whether it’s a folk, reggae or metal night or whatever. Glasgow is quite saturated with gigs on a nightly basis. In the North though, where there aren’t nearly as many gigs, the crowd are generally more responsive; bands from the Central Belt would be pleasantly surprised if they decided to venture up there."

Like what you hear? Watch Call To Mind live at the following shows:

28 Aug @ Wizard Festival, Aberdeenshire
31 Oct @ Hootenanny, Inverness

Words: Nick Mitchell

Play: Breathe

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Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Our picks for Belladrum Tartan Heart '09

Tartan Heart
[Seating is optional at Belladrum]

With RockNess, T in the Park and Wickerman finally out of the way, the Tartan Heart Festival at the Belladrum Estate near Inverness this weekend is the last major open-air event on the Scottish summer festival calender.

Now in its sixth year, Tartan Heart is a family-friendly alternative to its beer-soaked cousins further south. Not that copious amounts of drinking are by any means ruled out, but segregated 'family' and 'quiet' camping areas and free admission for children under 12 hint at a more relaxed atmosphere.

The music's not half bad either. While big names like Ocean Colour Scene and Toploader might not exactly set pulses racing, there's more than enough Scottish talent across the festival's six stages to make Tartan Heart well worth a weekend jaunt into the Highlands.

Broken RecordsEdinburgh's Broken Records are experiencing something of a second wind of late. An exuberant set at T in the Park last month revealed a band eager to let their scintillating live performances speak for themselves. Definitely one not to miss at the Garden Stage on Friday evening.

Bronto SkyliftTwo-man noise onslaught Bronto Skylift return to their northern homeland to appear on the HAIL Seedlings stage on Friday. What exactly Belladrum will make of their grungey racket remains to be seen but Bronto are indisputably one of the most visceral acts on the live scene at the moment.

Play: Bronto Skylift - Danny Glover Isn't Dead

DananananaykroydDananananaykroyd's legendary 'Wall of Cuddles' should prove a somewhat more enticing propect for those who like things a little less 'rawk' at the Hothouse Stage on Friday night. Despite their "fight pop" stylings, the undeniable feel-good factor surrounding the Glasgow outfit's anarchic live show will lend itself well to the laid-back vibes of Tartan Heart.

Since the time of writing, Dananananaykroyd have announced via Twitter that they have had to cancel their Belladrum appearance due to a stage-diving injury incurred by John Down Under. We wish him a speedy recovery.

parrow and the WorkshopSparrow and the Workshop have the unenviable task of opening the Hothouse Stage for business on Saturday afternoon but the Glasgow-based trio are well up to the task. Sparrow's ethereal, electrified folk rock is just the thing to soothe sore heads after the inevitable excesses of Friday night.

Unicorn KidAlso on Saturday, 17-year-old wunderkind Unicorn Kid, aka Oliver Sabin, brings his 8-bit electronica to the HAIL Seedlings stage. Sabin is something of an anomaly in a music scene dominated by guitar-driven acts of all shades but in a live setting his pulsating synth-pop crashes through genre boundaries in a frenzy of hyperactive euphoria.

Tartan Heart 2009 takes place on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 August at Beauly on the Belladrum Estate in Inverness-shire. Click here for ticket information.

Words: Jodi Mullen

Is this year's line-up good enough to tempt you to Belladrum?

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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Stars turn out for local bands

Rio Callahan
[Rio Callahan]

Ever fancied a gig under the stars but found the Scottish weather a little too unaccommodating? Well, Glasgow Science Centre’s Stellar Sounds may be the solution.

Set within the centre’s unique Planetarium, a constellation of local unsigned bands will showcase their unique sonic showers tomorrow night (5 Aug) and next Wednesday night (12 Aug).

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy and the Science Centre, a registered charity, has been running a series of events to tie in with the landmark year.

Joanne Foo, the centre’s Science Education Coordinator, says: “It has been a fantastic platform to encourage more people to try astronomy and science.”

"I’m a big fan of going to local, unsigned gigs," she continues. "I approached the different bands about the gigs and they were all really keen to play in such a unique and unusual venue. They didn’t take much convincing.”

The line-ups are as follows:

Wed 5 August:
Eoghan Colgan is an Irish singer-songwriter whose acoustic rock stylings are likely to provide for some contemplative moments staring at the stars.

An acoustic vibe for the evening will be provided by The Miss’s, who are Glasgow-based duo Michelle Low and Audrey Tait.

The Ads are the best-known band on the bill, with their lively indie rock reminiscent of Sons and Daughters.

Wed 12 August:
Formed late last year, Rio Callahan are a six-piece act with some talented and experienced musicians who have come together to create catchy melodies.

Funksion are a Paisley jam band who clearly revel in their lack of structure. Whilst they are certainly experimental, their screeching guitar work and epic solos promise to be a lot of fun.

The loudest noises of the evening are likely to come from Federation of the Disco Pimp, whose live sets manage to combine frenetic energy with a wicked sense of adventure.

There aren't many gigs where you get the chance to lie in a comfy seat, go backwards and forwards in time and view the sky from different places in the world.

Combined with some great unsigned talent, these gigs promise to be some of the most intriguing of the year.

Words: Stevie Kearney

The gigs take place at Glasgow Science Centre Planetarium on 5 and 12 August. Doors open 7:15pm for an 8pm start. Tickets are priced at £12 each of £20 for both nights and can be booked by calling 0871 540 1000. Over 16s only. Cash bar available.

For more information, visit

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Monday, 3 August 2009

On the radar: How to Swim

How To Swim

Play: From here to Dundee slash Eternity

'Eclectic' is a term synonymous with the music press. Depending on the writer, it can mean anything from slightly out of the mainstream to downright odd. Here at Under the Radar we love eclecticism, but even by our standards How to Swim are perilously close to the ‘odd’ end of the scale.

To confirm, the band’s MySpace claims they write songs about "corpses in underground stations, the disadvantages of partial blindness, love, death, sword-swallowers, deliberate disfigurement, anxiety and happiness".

Having played in various forms for nearly a decade, the Glasgow band have a revolving door policy on membership. Currently encompassing nine permanent members, their tune-making artillery includes trombones, cellos and even a glockenspiel.

As one Edinburgh promoter recently commented, “There are enough of them for half the capacity of the venue”. Presumably splitting the pay after a gig requires a keen grasp of mathematics.

Of the band’s early work, ‘Bones’ is an unequivocal highlight. Rousing and suitably bizarre, with roof raising vocal work, the cut finishes off with a minute of screeching mechanical noises. Taken from the brilliantly named ‘It stings when I’ EP, this is How to Swim in a nutshell.

Of course, the band are aware their style may be a hindrance as much as a help. “We’ve been playing in one form or another for almost a decade now, and it could be persuasively argued we’ve achieved remarkably little,” says vocalist Gregor Barclay. “We feel that it’s a compliment to us that we’re still about when so many of our turn-of-the-millennium contemporaries are dead and buried.”

The band’s latest material gives cause for great optimism. The release of ‘Genesis P and Me’ and ‘From here to Dundee slash Eternity’ signalled some of their most focused and accessible output and both now feature heavily as live set crowd pleasers.

A new album, called Retina (or More Fun than a Vat of Love), is due for completion by the end of the summer. Barclay says: “To be honest, we’ve been saying ‘Next year is our year’ for so long now, the phrase is beginning to lose all meaning, but with Retina, we feel we’ve got a record that can pull its weight.”

As a stark reminder of the challenges facing bands across Scotland’s musical spectrum, Barclay is realistic enough to know a long term goal is “to be able to make a record with someone else’s money”.

For those who have caught them live, How to Swim are already a cult favourite and their ‘eclectic’ sound gives reason for celebration. As Barclay happily puts it, “as a live act, when we’re good, we’re really good”.

Words: Steven Kearney

Play: Genesis P and Me

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Sunday, 2 August 2009

Radar recommends: 2 - 8 August

Is it us or does the start of the Fringe have a queer butterfly effect on the Scottish gig scene? Quite simply, there's very little that tickles the fancy of our ear canals outside thc capital this week. Still, like the dilligent scamps we are here at UtR, we've unearthed a few corkers amidst this midden o' dross...

Colin Clyne, Eskimo Blonde
Friday @ The Tunnels | 8pm| tbc
Stonehaven's Colin Clyne takes his acoustic-driven indie-pop up the A90 to the bright lights of Aberdeen ahead of a five night run at the Edinburgh Festival. Established local favourites Eskimo Blonde turn out in support.

Bronto Skylift
Saturday @ Café Drummonds | 8pm| tbc
Come for the beats, stay for the tinnitus as Glasgow-based noise rockers Bronto Skylift unleash their aural assault on the Granite City's collective eardrums.

Fudge presents: Eric Euan, Deadloss Superstar, Bloodnut
Saturday @ The Moorings | 8pm | £3
Punk-metallers Deadloss Superstar join post-hardcore upstarts Eric Euan for a night of raucous rock on Aberdeen's dockside. Bloodnut's brand of death 'n' roll, influenced by veteran Swedish death metal outfit Entombed, adds a bit of bite to the undercard.

All Day Event:
The Daze, Peg and the Bouffants, Colour Coded, Tango in the Attic, The New Times, Cha Cha Heels, Lord Luken, The New Tomorrow, The Loose Channels, The Myths, Root System
Sunday @ Doghouse | 5pm| £5
How many bands?! The Doghouse pulls out all the stops to host a shindig of epic proportions, featuring the cream of Tayside's music talent. Though quantity, rather than quality, seems to be the order of the day here, there's more than enough variety to keep even the most discerning muso happy.


The Llama Farm presents: Yahweh, Debutant, The Plastic Animals
Tuesday @ Henry's Cellar Bar | 8pm | £4
Edinburgh's newest gig night may have a Peruvian feel but the ethos is about supporting great local talent. And to prove they're up to the task, they've only gone and booked two of our favourite acts in Yahweh and Debutant, as well as no-fi Edinburgh band The Plastic Animals.

The Ray Summers, The King Hats
Thursday@ Cabaret Voltaire | 7pm | Free
Swamp rock sludging is the name of The Ray Summers' musical game, while The King Hats adopt a more Holy Bible-era Manics approach to melody making.

Woodpigeon, Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Rags and Feathers
Friday@ Sneaky Pete's | 7pm | £6.50
Despite Woodpigeon's delicious sonic melee, it's Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers that truly capture the attention at this Edge Festival-affiliated showing.

Trampoline presents The Radiation Line, The Kays Lavelle, Adam Stafford
Friday @ Wee Red Bar | 7pm | £5
The first of Trampoline's August quadruple serves up the exceptional psychedelic babbling of The Radiation Line and a return to the live fore for heroic Edinburgh tunesmiths The Kays Lavelle.

Trampoline presents Jonnie Common, Animal Magic Tricks, Conquering Animal Sounds
Saturday @ Wee Red Bar | 7pm | £5
Small Town Boredom corroborator Jonnie Common spearheads a magnificent triumvirate that also includes the erudite minimalism of Conquering Animal Sounds.

**UtR's Gig of the Week**

Emily Scott, Rob St John
Saturday @ National Portrait Gallery | 5pm | Free
We're always harping on about Rob St John's elegiac mastery here at UtR so this being our gig of the week shouldn't come as much surprise. But the added bonus of Emily Scott's sumptuous tones and the National Portrait Gallery's refined setting transcends this unique showing into a glorious can't be missed extravaganza.

Final Fantasy
Wednesday @ Classic Grand | 8pm | TBC
Not Scottish but still incredible, Polaris Prize-winning troubadour Owen Pallet brings Final Fantasy's demure swoons to the Classic Grand cove.

Silent Front, Super Adventure Club, Shield Your Eyes
Thursday @ Captain's Rest | 8pm | TBC
Super Adventure Club's exhilarating goth-rock-schlock somehow has to play support to two experimental London outfits of very little cop.

Beerjacket, The Seventeenth Century, The Secondhand Marching Band
Saturday @ King Tut's | 7.30pm | £5
Cor, this is a good 'un. Beerjacket's toyish mute-pop is a sound to be cherished, while the prelude of The Seventeenth Century and The Secondhand Marching Band commands equal reverence.

Bronto Skylift
Thursday @ Market Bar | 8pm| tbc
Bronto may have become Radar Recommends regulars over the last few weeks but this show is likely to be amongst the duo's most intense to date, as local lad Niall Strachan brings the noise back home to Inverness. Not to be missed.

Words: Billy Hamilton & Jodi Mullen

Disagree with our choices? Let us know below...

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Saturday, 1 August 2009

Tweet Nothings feat. Mogwai, The Dykeenies, Young Fathers and more...

The Scottish music scene's finest and brightest (and Glasvegas) can be an uncouth lot but never let it be said that UTR shirks when duty calls. This week we brave transvestitism, tinnitus and tattered trousers to bring you the latest from the Twitterverse.

Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite isn't bitter at all...
@plasmatron: #howtowinthemercury Don't start an influential, critically acclaimed & relatively successful instrumental band & release six albums.

The Dykneenies finally discover how their tunes make some of UTR's hacks feel...
@TheDykeenies: embarrassing illness program is making me want to pour the contents of my stomach all over my floor...

And Young Fathers rock out with their... well, not quite...
@Youngfathers: Party so hard that trouser ripped and had to perform in boxers...kayus cant be stopped...only @ a young fathers gig

Unicorn Kid proves you're never too young to experiment with cross-dressing...
@UnicornKid: This Right Guard women's deodorant is 'unscented' but I am now clearly reeking of vanilla.

While Idlewild live the rock 'n' roll high life...
@IdlewildtheBand: Wickerman was great, had beer with Billy Bragg and the Magic Numbers, good times....

Errors give My Bloody Valentine a run for their money...
@Weareerrors: 120db at truck! F**k you noise limits.

But is this post-rock self-indulgence or poor line-up management? You Already Know are giving nothing away...
@youalreadynews: Kilmarnock gig on sunday. Noon. Howard park. Supported by a boys choir. Bring it?

The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, Glasvegas say...
@glasvegas: in croke park with u2. theres a big f**kin spider looking thing in the middle of the park. looks mega

Tango in the Attic struggle with a moment of self-doubt...
@tangointheattic: Still getting to grips with Twitter... we're pretty dumb. Then off to the gym to pretend to do stuff for an hour.

And we journalists feel your pain, Danananaykroyd, believe me...
@dananananaykroy: Only thing dafter than our band name is the fact we can't fit all of it into our Twitter username, resulting in yet another wrong spelling.

Words: Jodi Mullen (and Twitter)

Any nuggets of wisdom that have somehow managed to escape our notice this week? Do share your favourite weekly tweets below...

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