Wednesday, 30 September 2009

On the radar: The Colourful Band

The Colourful

Play: Easter Road

Play: Leavin New York

Albums centred on a particular city can be tricky - they tend to exclude those unfamiliar with the locale in question.

But spread the scope of your songwriting across a few well known places and throw in some themes which will resonate with anyone and you have the potential for broader success.

Step forward Ian McKelvie, a West coaster who moved East, spent a thoroughly miserable time in Fife and then settled happily in Edinburgh. He is the singer and songwriter behind The Colourful Band. And it is the historic capital city of our proud wee nation where the majority of the songs on The Colourful EP are based.

Although the band formed just a year ago, all three members have been friends for over a decade. The aim, according to McKelvie, is “really about trying to make a record with a little help from my friends”.

The EP, released earlier this year, features upbeat tales about life on 'Easter Road', late night festival shenanigans and reflections from abroad, including 'Leavin’ New York', which evokes the familiar feeling of being a stranger in a big city. Much of the writing comes from McKelvie’s ability to use travel and times of solitude as a departure point for inspiration and creativity.

"After graduating, I led a fairly solitary life for the best part of a year in a one horse town in Fife, living on my own and doing a job I wasn’t enjoying," McKelvie recalls. "So the loneliness and isolation were kept out with the cold by playing and singing."

After a chance encounter at an open mic night in Edinburgh’s Whistlebinkies, McKelvie was invited to play a venue in New York by an audience member who happened to own a bar in the Big Apple. “I never played his bar but I did play the open mic night at CBGB’s," he says. "Standing on the corner of 113th and Broadway gave me the inspiration for the song 'Leavin’ New York'. When I got back to Edinburgh I wrote the words down as soon as I got home.”

The sound of The Colourful Band is heavily influenced by folk music and a sense of place. “Folk songs tend to be written about people or places," McKelvie notes. "So that’s why I often use my surroundings to inspire me, and sometimes it is cities, sometimes just situations. At the time of writing most of the songs for what would become The Colourful EP I was listening to a lot of folk music, and living in Edinburgh.”

With soothing, folky finger-picking, upbeat riffs and McKelvie’s voice as soft and comforting as velvet underwear, The Colourful Band have charm in abundance. For those of us stuck at home in these financially dark times, McKelvie’s music can do our travelling for us, whilst providing a timely reminder of why home is so special after all.

Words: Stevie Kearney

Like what you hear? Watch The Colourful Band live at The Leith Tape Club, Iso Bar, Leith this Thursday (1 Oct), with Men Diamler, Animal Magic Tricks and Little Pebble.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Check the label: Lucky Number Nine

The Colourful EPIn the first in our new series of record label profiles, Elaine Liddle speaks to the man behind Lucky Number Nine...

It's notoriously difficult to agree on a good band name. It turns out that naming a record label is tricky too.

Even more so if your chosen title's already taken by one of the Stone Roses. "I was trying to come up with a name and quite liked North Country Records - but I Googled it and John Squire had it" explains Stevie McCaffrey, founder of Glasgow-based Lucky Number Nine [LNN] records.

"In my frustration, I named the label after the song I was listening to at that moment. I nicked it from Moldy Peaches."

Dave Beaton joined as a partner, Liz Eeuwes to contribute artwork and Stuart Purcell to pitch in with press, and in September 2007 LNN released The Metro-gnomes' I Have a Photograph EP.

An exciting and prolific two years since has seen co-releases with Say Dirty Records (Zoey Van Goey, Peter Parker) and Electric Honey (Wake the President, Je Suis Animal) as well as singles by Golden Ghost, Symbolics, Mike Hastings & Solveig Askvik and Punch & the Apostles.

Play: Punch & the Apostles - I'm a Hobo

Punch & the Apostles - I'm a Hobo"The accepted practice for starting a label seems to be to pick a genre, stick to it and forge a niche in the market, but we aren't trying to make a living out of it so we have the freedom to showcase any act we like," says Stevie.

"Scotland has loads of talented musicians playing many different styles of music. Our Seven Inch Club singles series seemed a good way to feature as many as possible.

"Picking the bands is always done after seeing them live - sometimes recommended by friends, but for the most part luck and coincidence has led to us finding them".

The next release - in conjunction with Say Dirty Records - is single 'Doris Day' from UtR-tipped Paper Planes, available on October 12th on 7" and download.

Play: Paper Planes - Doris Day

"I really love Paper Planes," Stevie enthuses. "They have loads of great tracks, are amazing live and are nice folk too."

Rags & FeathersThe label's sole LP thus far is by Rags & Feathers - former Dead Fly Buchowski member Tom Davis plus friends - which Stevie is "really proud of. Tom's a great lyricist and there's not one mediocre song on there".

Stevie also runs gig night Silence Can Break Your Heart - "a good way to see the bands I like or have heard good things about. I'm studying, working and running the label, so I don't get to gigs very much," he admits.

"It's been great as we've found two bands through it - Peter Parker and Paper Planes".

Words: Elaine Liddle

The Paper Planes singles launch is at the Grand Ole Opry on Oct 8 with She's Hit and DJ sets from Gerry Love and Stephen Pastel.

Silence Can Break Your Heart presents Wave Pictures, Stanley Brinks and Freschard at Mono on Oct 19.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Radar recommends: 27 Sep - 3 Oct

[Kochka: launching their second EP at Mono on Thursday]

It's Sunday. Perhaps you're still in bed nursing a hangover. Or maybe you're surrounded by the papers and coffee. Or idly browsing your friends' Facebook updates.

Whatever you're doing, it can't be that important. So go and grab your diary and take note of which gigs to attend this week...

Strike the Colours, Zoey Van Goey
Sunday @ Electric Circus / 7pm / £4
The twee-meter will probably self-combust at this leg of these two bands' joint UK tour. Also playing Stereo, Glasgow on Friday.

Trapped in Kansas - CANCELLED, Glasgow gig still on
Wednesday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £tbc
One of the most talked about bands in Scotland at the moment, and rightly so. Also playing Stirling Uni on Thursday and the Flying Duck, Glasgow on Friday.

The Mill: Be A Familiar, Cancel the Astronauts
Thursday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / Free but ticketed
We were wondering if straight-up indie-pop bands still existed. This gig may be the proof.

Stanley Odd
Friday @ The GRV / 7pm / £5
The latest act to come off Scotland's small but diverse hip hop production line.

Bloc Party, Grammatics
Saturday @ HMV Picture House / 7pm / £22.50
Never heard of 'em. Much kop?

The Low Miffs & Malcolm Ross
Sunday @ Nice N Sleazy's / 7.30pm / £tbc
Killer kitsch guitar pop - 80s indie legend joins forces with the energetic Miffs.

**UtR's gig of the week**
Kochka (EP launch)
Thursday @ Mono / 8pm / £tbc
The Glasgow/Falkirk/Stirling/Perth/York band (how the heck do they rehearse?) launch their Dacha/Summerhouse EP, with help from Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones (his first ever solo gig), The John Langan Band and Errors' Stephen Livingstone on the decks.

Any Color Black, RBRBR, Fridge Magnets, Skitten
Friday @ Captain's Rest / 8pm / £tbc
Pull some shapes (the more angular the better) at this Friday night electro-frazzled party.

Three Blind Wolves, The John Knox Sex Club, Martin John Henry
Saturday @ Captain's Rest / 7.30pm / £4
Three Blind Wolves used to be Ross Clark & the Scarves Go Missing but have opted for a more equalitarian name now. Support from the enigmatically brilliant John Knox Sex Club and former De Rosa frontman Martin John Henry.

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 25 September 2009

On the radar: 7VWWVW


Play: Eagle Diary

Play: Old Man of the Woods

Mammals are everywhere. You’re one, I’m one and they’re a group of them; only upside-down and back-to-front.

Lost yet? Let me fill you in.

265 million years ago mammals made their earth debut, and about 264,999,999 years later four men from Edinburgh decided to form a band and name it after the most dominant species on earth.

Simple enough, only not. Other wise bandits had chosen the name before them, and being rather fond of it they decided to keep it, albeit in a rather cryptic fashion.

Thus 7VWWVW was born.

Sounding like a quirky Boards of Canada, 7VWWVW make music "using synthesisers from the misty past".

“We're not really into computers and that funny stuff," says one of the mammals, Nick Munro. "We prefer to play the instruments and compose as a band and that's probably what gives us our unique sound.

“We have the sloppiness of humans playing keyboards rather than the robotic accuracy of music created and cut and pasted on a 'puter.”

7VWWVW is a real, living arts collective. They work with visual artists to create backdrops to their gigs, they run a vinyl record label called Crystal Wish, on which they put out records by their ‘talented pals’, and they like to produce soundtracks to films and animations.

Going into hibernation over the winter, they plan to start work on their second LP. “We record to tape, as live as possible," says Munro, "and we value the fact that our recorded music can be accurately reproduced live. We don't overdub and layer up like crazy, nuh uh son. It’s craft!”

7VWWVW don’t play live that often. You’ll have to be a predator and keep a watch on their MySpace if you want to catch them, and if you red-blooded mammals can’t wait that long, take a bite of their first recorded album for free here.

Words: Aimi Gold

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Ladyfest: The girls are back in town...

LadyfestThere’s plenty of girl-friendly action in the capital this weekend, as Edinburgh Ladyfest gears up for a four-day extravaganza. Back for a second year, the festival promises comedy, music, art, skill sharing – and punk knitting.

If you haven’t yet heard, Ladyfest is a global movement showcasing female artists and performers. There have been over 100 Ladyfests around the world since 2000 – non-profit, feminist events organised mainly by women.

Marylou Anderson was among Edinburgh Ladyfest’s founders back in 2007. “I have always been interested in music and art and feminism, and at the time I was feeling quite isolated because I’d just had my son,” she explains.

“I really wanted to connect with other women, talk about women in art and society at large and see if we could put on some women-centred events," she continues. "Through Ladyfest and the activities of the groups affiliated to the Edinburgh Feminist Network a new kind of women’s community has started to grow and it’s great to be a part of that.”

Ladyfest 2009 gets going tonight (Thursday) with comedy at Edinburgh City Club from Sian Bevan and Liz Ely. On Friday evening the emphasis is on DIY, as the zinesters and performance poets of Sister Spit: The Next Generation take over the Big Red Door, Lady Lawson Street.

The Bowery on Roxburgh Place is the place to be on Saturday: by day you’ll find workshops on life drawing, dance, comedy, blogging and even how to make your own herbal tea; while night time will see an eclectic mix of talent take to the stage – including Sellotape, sound poetry and storytelling from Zorras and folk from Jo Foster and Hailey Beavis.

Play: Jo Foster - Madelaina

After all that Sunday will demand a day of rest, so join the girls for a gallery walk and coffee. The weekend will finish with a film screening at the Brass Monkey.

Since this is a music blog, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t ask Marylou about the line-up for Ladyfest’s Big Gig at the Bowery. “Jo Foster has been a great supporter of Ladyfest – she was also one of only a handful of women playing at the brilliant Retreat festival this year,” says Marylou. “On one hand Jo and Withered Hand are my favourite local acts, but on the other hand for sheer vibrancy, attitude and life you can’t beat the hollerback of Viki Sellotape!

“Next year we’re planning a Youth Ladyfest rock camp – so watch this space!”

Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla

Events are free or individually priced, with a £10 weekend ticket providing access across the festival. Find out more at

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Under the Radar podcast #4

Podcast #4It may be old news now, but the ripples of record sales set in motion by the Mercury Music Prize are still being felt across the industry.

Following our editorial on the subject a couple of weeks ago, we discuss the outcome (or more accurately, Billy enters rant mode!), and we try to figure out whether the whole concept of music awards has any value at all.

As if that wasn't enough to tempt you to download/ press play/do whatever it is you do with a podcast, we also have a great selection of tuneage.

There's the new single from The Low Miffs' collaboration with former Orange Juice / Josef K legend Malcolm Ross, a fresh cut from Glasgow hardcore rockers Citizens, a taster of North Atlantic Oscillation's long-awaited debut album, as well as acts we've played host to on the blog in recent weeks: Tokyo Knife Attack, The Pineapple Chunks and The John Knox Sex Club.

Enjoy the show...

Play: Podcast #4

iTunes Subscribe on iTunes
iTunes Download as MP3
iTunes Subscribe with RSS

Running order:
00:12: Malcolm Ross and the Low Miffs - Cressida
04:34: Tokyo Knife Attack - Another One Falls
09:43: The Pineapple Chunks - The Horror The Horror
13:44: Mercury Music Prize chat
19:17: Errors - Salut France
22:42: North Atlantic Oscillation - 77 Hours
27:46: Citizens - Shit Whistler
32:20: The John Knox Sex Club - John the Revelator

Words and blether: Nick Mitchell, Billy Hamilton

Previous UtR podcasts

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

On the radar: White Heath

White Heath

Play: Election Day

Play: 7.38am

An intense gigging schedule over recent months can be taken as proof that Edinburgh’s White Heath are prepared to put in the hard work to back up their considerable early promise.

The city’s Forest Cafe saw the band become regulars during the hyper competitive month of August. Normally the clamour of the Edinburgh Festival forces most local musicians to take the month off, when faced with the annual invasion of public school children and their modern day hip hop influenced adaptations of Hamlet.

Thankfully, with all five band members having recently graduated from Edinburgh University, their focus is now on the music. Aside from a concerted effort to gig whenever and wherever, what makes White Heath distinctive is the range of influences in their work.

"Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and The Band were pretty much what I was raised on by my parents,” says lead singer Sean Watson. “But Shoubhik and Alastair particularly have strong classical influences like Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler”.

This contrast in musical backgrounds is complimented by Adam Pearson on guitar and Mark Rowley on bass trombone. “I wouldn't overemphasise our use of instruments as something which makes us different though,” adds Watson. “We don't think we are cleverer or more innovative than anyone else because we use a bass trombone rather than a bass guitar.”

White Heath’s sound can range from classical to gospel at times, but has a rigid indie backbone. Most of their tracks begin slowly and build over running times often approaching seven or eight minutes, giving an epic feel to proceedings.

The band’s EP launch at the Forest Café was blighted by an unfortunate off-night for the venue’s sound man, but their live shows are always energetic, eclectic and have earned them rave reviews. Their material seems barely beyond the embryonic stage in terms of where it could go from here, but the quality is already evident.

Of the new material on The Sea Wall EP, '7:38am' plays like an indie version of Elvis Costello and 'Election Day' is only rivalled by the same song’s acoustic version (available on their MySpace) as their finest song to date.

When prodded to reveal the band’s creative process, Watson replies: “Individually we all write, but when the band writes and performs together it becomes unique and a very different animal. If anyone isn't playing it sounds and feels very different. I don't think if anyone were to leave the band we would look to replace them and merely substitute someone on their instrument.”

White Heath are young and handsome enough to appeal to the mainstream - and certainly talented enough to appeal to the more fickle alternative market. They are one of the Scottish independent music scene’s best chances of a successful crossover act with the potential to be commercially successful and, crucially for them, maintain the respect of their peers.

Words: Stevie Kearney

White Heath’s EP ‘The Sea Wall’ is available now through their MySpace page.

Intrigued? Watch White Heath live at Maggie May’s, Glasgow on 1 Oct.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Radar recommends: 20 - 26 Sep

French Wives
[French Wives: playing Sneaky Pete's on Saturday]

We've been busy recording our latest podcast today, hence the later-than-usual appearance of the weekly gig guide. Apologies for the disruption, normal service will be resumed now. Please remember to take all your bags and possessions with you. Ticket barriers are in operation.

Confused? I know I am.

Trapped in Kansas, Cast of the Capital, El Dog
Wednesday @ The Tunnels / 7.30pm / £4
We've already called Trapped in Kansas 'Scotland's most accomplished math rock act'. They'll be playing with Aberdeen upstarts Cast of the Capital in this Freshers' week gig which is open to people who aren't even Freshers. Such equality!

Right Hand Left, Jack Butler
Thursday @ Snafu / 9pm / £4/3
A little bit Franz Ferdinand, a little bit Television and a little bit something of their own. One of the best live bands in Aberdeen headline this week's Dirty Hearts Club.

Friday @ Dexter's Lounge Bar / 8pm / £tbc
According to the band they try to write a great rock song before they 'Sucio' it. You can hear another reason why there must be something in the water in Ayr as Sucioperro play Dundee.

Drever, McCusker & Woomble, Heidi Talbot, Boo Hewerdine
Monday @ Brunton Theatre / 7.30pm / £13.50 (£11.50)
Folkster trio led by the shaggy-haired Idlewild frontman.

The Pineapple Chunks
, Jesus H Foxx

Wednesday @ Wee Red Bar / 7.30pm / Free
Huey Lewis and the News tribute band The Pineapple Chunks are joined by Edinburgh punk-funkers Jesus H Foxx.

Jeniferever, Midas Fall, Beerjacket
Thursday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £9
Swedish post-rock from Jeniferever, while Glasgow's fast-rising Beerjacket will be strumming along in support.

**UtR's gig of the week**
French Wives, The Occasional Flickers, Cancel the Astronauts
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £5
If you want a taste of some of the best new music Scotland has to offer, look no further.

The Low Miffs & Malcolm Ross
Saturday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £tbc
Whether it's The Low Miffs and Malcolm Ross or Malcolm Ross and the Low Miffs, one thing is clear: this gig will feature both the Low Miffs and Malcolm Ross, and comes highly recommended.

Ladyfest: Sellotape, Zorras, Hailey Beavis, Jo Foster
Saturday @ The Bowery / 7.30pm / £3
All the ladies of the world... diverse bill of local female-fronted acts join forces. Watch out men!

David Thomas Broughton, Twi the Humble Feather
Tuesday @ Captain’s Rest / 8pm / £tbc
Experimental folk, making use of samples and found sounds. Also playing on Wednesday at Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh.

The Atlas Skye, The Darien Venture
Thursday @ The Mill (Oran Mor) / 8pm / FREE
Darkly melodic local rock and roll from Atlas Skye, paired with The Darien Venture’s sonic explosion.

Fuck Buttons
Thursday @ Stereo / 8pm / £8.50
Beats, blips and noise from naughtily-named experimental Brighton duo.

Le Reno Amps, Super Adventure Club, Peter Parker, The Elvis Suicide
Thursday @ 13th Note / 9pm / £tbc
Melodic punk from Glasgow underground superstars. The madcap world of Super Adventure Club provide support, along with Peter Parker and The Elvis Suicide.

Sunny Govan Community Radio Fundraiser
Thursday @ Fairfield WMC / 7.30pm / £5
Five acts for five pounds in support of Govan’s community radio station. The Hellfire Club, ID Parade, Ballachulish Hellhounds, Alkotron and Stephen Maguire provide the entertainment.

Wounded Knee
Thursday @ Box / 8pm / FREE
Under the Radar favourite hits the west coast this week!

Chuck Prophet, Otis Gibbs
Friday @ King Tut’s / 8.30pm / £13.50
Aware that describing a band as the missing link between Big Star and the Replacements is going to endear them to nobody but me, let’s just say that Chuck Prophet’s sound is classic Americana-infused rock. Support from the deliciously gravel-voiced Otis Gibbs.

GGI Festival
Saturday and Sunday @ Stereo / 2pm / £12 (day), £20 (weekend)
Two-day punk extravaganza showcases local talent alongside bands from further afield. Catch Fleas and Lice (the band, not a reflection on the venue) with Poison Sisters and The Bucky Rage on Saturday, while The Plimptons and The Amphetameanies are among the draws on Sunday.

Slow Club, Cate Le Bon, Young States
Saturday @ Classic Grand / 7pm / £7
Hotly tipped harmonious boy-girl indiefolk duo. Cate Le Bon is a Welsh singer-songwriter with a voice like Nico, while Young States complete the bill with gorgeous, local pop in the Frightened Rabbit vein.

Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla, Andrew Learmonth, Nick Mitchell

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 18 September 2009

On the radar: Tokyo Knife Attack

Tokyo Knife AttackConfession time. I love Synthpop. Especially early Synthpop, and especially anything that Giorgio Moroder had a hand in, from the Donna Summer anthem 'I Feel Love' to the ridiculously decadent Scarface soundtrack.

In the intervening 30 years, the once revolutionary synthesizer has endured changing fads and fashions, but now Synthpop is firmly back in vogue, with hyped acts like M83, Passion Pit and Cut Copy turning back the clock on those days of primitive electronics.

Too young to enjoy the 1980s to its fullest, the young Craig Bell was nevertheless taking his first steps in music making: "I was about seven when I got my first tape recorder. I occasionally still find old tapes at my folks' house full of wonky noises, screaming and the kind of weird lyrics that only a kid could come up with."

That could be quite a listen, but now Bell, under the name Tokyo Knife Attack ("it's a syntax thing"), has honed his own take on Synthpop into a bold, beat-heavy barrage that will bring a smile to the faces of Moroder disciples and techno lovers alike.

Play: Another One Falls

"Making music is a compulsion for me," Bell says. "When I'm away from my lovely machines and instruments I start to get agitated and pine for them. I hate going on holiday."

That may be so, but TKA would make for the ideal holiday soundtrack; it's good time music, harking back to those pre-recession days of unchecked hedonism and shoulder-perched boomboxes.

"There was a period in the late 70s and 80s when pop acts seemed to be given space to experiment and grow by their labels, at a time when technology was changing the way music was made and recorded," Bell says of his influences. "I love so many acts from this era: Kraftwerk, OMD, Devo, Giorgio Moroder, Roxy, Phil Oakey to name but a few."

But Bell didn't always ride on the electro side of the pop tracks. "My first experience of the Scottish music scene was Glasgow in the mid 90s," he says. "I played sax in a band and would gig with and go to watch other bands like Urusei Yatsura, Mogwai, The Blisters/TheKarelia, Eska, The Yummy Fur, The Delgados, Appendix Out... the city seemed rich with talent, albeit mostly rock bands.

"Over the next ten years there wasn't that much live music that held my interest and I gravitated towards clubs and electronic music," Bell adds. "I'm glad to say that recently the music scene seems to have burst back to life with great bands from all over Scotland making all kinds of genre defying music with all sorts of instruments and machines. I don't know how it happened, but I'm glad it did."

With new tracks in the offing, autumn gigs booked and the search on for a new label, Tokyo Knife Attack is set to add his own sound to the "genre defying" Scottish scene. Bring on the Synthpop revival I say.

Words: Nick Mitchell

Play: Cool Kids

You can listen to a few more TKA tracks here

Like what you hear? Watch TKA at the following shows:
21 Nov @ Nice'n'Sleazy, Glasgow (with Findo Gask and Adult Emergency)
27 Nov @ The Tunnels, Aberdeen

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Guest blogger: Jenny Soep on the art of gig-going

[All images are copyright (c) Jenny Soep,
Music: Cancel the Astronauts - 'Love Somebody']

Gig reviewers are easy to spot. They stand at the back with an eyebrow arched, casting furtive glances around the room for fellow scribes to conspire with, while intermittently scratching out illegible hieroglyphics on a dog-eared notepad.

But a gig illustrator? That would be even more conspicuous. Artist
Jenny Soep doesn't mind the attention though, and for the past couple of years she has set out to capture the excitement of live music in a series of impressionistic drawings.

A showcase of her work is above, and here she explains why she does it...

Jenny Soep at ConnectThe first time I drew live music was in 2000 at the Dundee Jazz Festival. I'm a sucker for good jazz and since I couldn't join in, I drew my experience of it instead.

The idea came from being moved by music and wanting to translate my experience of it into a drawing. I'm amazed how different types of music can incite different reactions/emotions in people and I wanted to see if I could express or capture that by drawing it as it's being performed. I believe the sensibilities of art and music go hand in hand.

I like to think I've created a little niche for myself, though it can get very claustrophobic at times.

The reaction from bands has been varied, though mostly bemusedly positive. I used to draw from the audience/mosh pit. Now I'm normally in the press pit drawing, although I was up on stage with Maximo Park at their last gig in Glasgow. They knew I was coming, but expected me to arrive with an easel and canvas. Hah, maybe one day, but not usually a thing I could get away with in the confines of the press pit!

I was drawing Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard after going to Jeff's lecture on The Watchmen comic (which was great). Jeff asked when my anthology was going to come out.

But my favourite experience this year was drawing David Byrne at his Glasgow show back in March. He's got the drawings up on his website.

Words: Jenny Soep
Photograph: Stephan Rambow

See more of Jenny's work on her blog at

There is a Multimedia Expo event on 14 Oct, 6pm at the Music Library, Edinburgh with live music by Edinburgh band Found, live drawings/animations/projections - and drawings by the audience are encouraged! Free but ticketed Email

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

On the radar: El Dog

El Dog

Play: If That Was The Last That We Met

Play: Shirley

Sometimes things take a while to come around.

Glasgow four-piece El Dog, for example, have been around for six years. But in the past 12 months, a highlight of which was the release of their debut album The Lamps of Terrahead, the band’s name has started cropping up time and again on bills – things are gradually picking up pace.

The LP, produced by former Aereogramme guitarist Iain Cook and dubbed by the band as “twelve short films for your ears”, takes its cues as much from the movies as it does from the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins. 'Cinematic' is an apt description for its epic, foraying tunes.

Granted, expansive, melodic post-rock might not be much of a new thing to Scottish music fans, but the group’s passionate live shows make it feel fresh and exciting once more.

Guitarist and singer Bob Rafferty says audiences can expect “a good, fun show". He continues: "Our music can be quite emotional, heartfelt and a bit serious. But we don’t take ourselves too seriously – so we have a bit of fun onstage”.

Indeed, the boys aren’t too shy as performers – it was a birthday celebration ending in public nudity which first brought the band together. “It was at Nice’n’Sleazy’s open mic night – it was my birthday and I was a bit merry," Rafferty explains. "My friend got me up onstage and asked the audience to shout out things for me to do. This ended up with me dancing, naked except for a shoe to try and protect my modesty. It was after this that I got talking to the other guys and somehow the band was formed."

If that hasn’t put you off, El Dog play at the Tunnels in Aberdeen with three of Scotland's most promising rock acts in Trapped in Kansas, The Darien Venture and Cast of the Capital on September 23.

Words: Elaine Liddle

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Guest blogger: James Graham previews the new Twilight Sad LP

James GrahamSo pervasive have The Twilight Sad been over the past few years it's difficult to think of them as a one album band. Yet that's exactly what the Kilsyth quartet are - well, for the next three weeks anyway.

So, before the October release of the bleakly entitled Forget the Night Ahead, band frontman James Graham takes us through a track-by-track account of that 'difficult' second album....

Reflection Of The Television

This song wasn’t fully formed until we went into the studio. We had the vocal melody and a basic guitar line. It was one of those songs where you take it into the studio and you don’t really know what’s going to happen with it, which is pretty exciting and scary at the same time. Fortunately for us it turned out pretty good and as soon as it all came together we knew it was going to be at the start of the album. The drums are pretty huge and lyrically it revolves around the lyric "There's people downstairs, I’m more than a fighter you know" - take from that what you will.

I Became A Prostitute

This song was pretty much fully formed when we took it into the studio. We knew it would be the first single taken from the album. It was probably not a great idea to call it 'I Became A Prostitute' for stuff like radio, press etc. To be honest I don’t see what the fuss is, it is the politically correct term for a lady of the night. The title has no sexual connotations, it’s a metaphor for becoming something that you don’t want to become and there is nothing you can do about it.

Seven Years Of Letters
This was one of the first songs we wrote for the album and is the second single (19 October). It’s got our first guitar solo I think, well as close as we can get to having a guitar solo in a song. The lyrics in the song revolve around running away from things and people. It’s a song that we have played live for about a year now and always seemed to go down well at gigs, especially on our tour of America with Mogwai.

Made To Disappear
This song has the album title in the lyrics and really came together in the studio. I don’t really remember writing it, but it was always going to be on the record. This song probably has the darkest lyrics on the album.

Scissors is an instrumental. Don’t really know what instruments are on it, it’s pretty intense and one of my favourites on the album, as I don’t sing on it. We felt it was important to have instrumentals that helped the album flow and so it was more than just a collection of songs.

The Twilight Sad - Forget the Night AheadThe Room
This was originally untitled '27' from our The Twilight Sad Killed My Parents And Hit The Road EP for the two Mogwai tours we did. It was the first song written for this record and has taken many forms over its two years of existence. We knew it was a good song but it took us some time to realize that we just had to let the song speak for itself instead of trying to complicate it. It was written during a particularly dark time as well.

That Birthday Present
It’s the fastest song we have ever written and will probably ever write. It features Laura from My Latest Novel on violin. It’s the complete opposite to ‘The Room’ as it hits you between the eyes straight away with the noise. It’s probably one of my favourite songs to play live.

Floorboards Under The Bed
This started off as two separate songs. We decided to piece them together and it turned out to be one of the most claustrophobic songs we have. It starts of with me walking about the studio singing on my own and closes with a piano instrumental and noise. Laura also helps out again on the violin.

This was probably the last song we wrote for the album. It has overlapping vocal melodies and again was just an idea before it became its fully formed self in the studio. Again the lyrics are pretty dark, with lines about "burying people" and "feeding them to dogs". The main lyric is "you and I".

The Neighbours Can’t Breathe
This song was again taken from The Twilight Sad Killed My Parents And Hit The Road EP. On that it was a live version, it’s one of the first songs that we played live from this record and hasn’t really changed too much since then. We added some keys and changed the drum pattern a little. The song title is a lyric from the song and I think it’s the first time we have done that. The vocals have a different affect on this song to the rest of the album as well.

At The Burnside
This song was always going to finish the album. The lyrics revolve around a story that my dad told me and I related that back to my situation at the time. The drums are heavily distorted and I am pretty sure that Mark is hitting some fire extinguishers in the background. It opens and closes with a dark piano line. It was the perfect way to end this album in my eyes.

Words: James Graham
Photograph: Su Anderson

The Twilight Sad's second album Forget the Night Ahead is released on 5 October through Fatcat.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Monday, 14 September 2009

On the radar: Maple Leaves

Maple Leaves

Play: Easy Speak

Play: Kirsty

It’s unusual for a six month old band to make waves in the music industry's oceanic depths, but T in the Park (TITP) darlings Maple Leaves are perilously close to stirring up a storm.

Despite their numerically-bereft framework, the Glasgow trio of Anna Miles, Julian Corrie and Graeme Thomson sure drum up a helluva racket, albeit a melodious one:

“Being just a three-piece, we make a lot musically out of little, swapping instruments where necessary," explains Miles. "We’ve been commended for writing songs that are unashamedly melodic and accessible. They don’t lack complexity but, where some bands maybe over-complicate things, we find there’s nothing like a good harmony and a summery melody to fill a room with good feeling.”

This simple approach is what makes their music so easy to embrace, with Miles counting their influences as, “fantastic storytellers like The Magnetic Fields, The Mountain Goats, The Shins, The Dodos, The National, Belle and Sebastian, along with the people in our lives who we know and love. Oh, and sushi. Definitely sushi.”

Despite the pressures that come with shooting for the stratosphere, the band remain reassuringly untarnished, coming across a genuinely nice and passionate musicians. In fact, they’re very much like their music - down to earth. Or, as Miles puts it, “[we’re] just enjoying making and performing music together, attracting as big an audience as we can”.

With a performance on the T Break stage at this year’s TITP coming so early in their careers and a new EP about to appear, we’ll no doubt be hearing a lot more from Maple Leaves in the coming months.

And their thoughts on the current Scottish music scene? “It’s an embarrassment of riches really," chirps Miles. "So much great stuff has come out of Scotland in the last few years. Glasgow’s scene, in particular, is an inspiration – it’s easy to discover a new talent every other weekend! We’ve enjoyed playing gigs with a lot of great new local bands, like My Latest Novel, Zoey Van Goey and French Wives. It’s a joy to be part of it.”

As for the moniker, it seems there’s no overt Canadian patronage. Nope, it’s all down to a certain Swedish songsmith: “It’s the name of a song by indie troubadour Jens Lekman who we are all fans of," Miles explains. "We're not actually Canadian - although do enjoy the odd pancake with maple syrup every now and then.”

Words: Clare Sinclair

Like what you hear? Watch Maple Leaves live at the Captain’s Rest, Glasgow on 23 Sep, and the Oxjam Music Festival, Merchant City, Glasgow on 24 Sep.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Radar recommends: 13 - 19 Sep

Findo Gask
[Findo Gask at Sleazy's on Saturday: "Imagine Crufts but with just men"]

It doesn't really come under our purview (a Malcolm Tucker reference there folks), but last week we mentioned a certain midweek football game. So we should probably let all you sports-hating music fans know what happened.

Scotland lost - in that valiant, heads-held-high style of losing we specialize in. And now with nothing but the depressing prospect of two big Glasgow teams battering wee diddy teams week in week out for the next year, at least we can console ourselves with plenty of live music...

Hip Parade, Colour Coded, The New Times
Friday @ Fat Sam's / 8pm / £6
Tabloid-friendly rock schlock. Not exactly recommended but the good people of Dundee need something.

Jeremy Jay, Tissø Lake, The Colourful Band
Monday @ The Bowery / 7pm / £7
Californian Jeremy Jay does the whole frail-voiced, affirming thing, and does it very well.

Second Hand Marching Band, Withered Hand, Wounded Knee
Wednesday @ Wee Red Bar / 7.30pm / £4 (£3)
One question arises from this: how do you fit Scotland's biggest indie marching band into the Wee Red Bar? Turn up to find out, and witness two of Edinburgh's most interesting songwriters in support.

Banjo or Freakout, Dead Boy Robotics
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £5
London-based Italian Alessio Natalizia goes by the name of Banjo or Freakout and does lo-fi covers of Burial and LCD Soundsystem. DBR need no introduction to readers of this blog.

Gang Of Four
Friday @ HMV Picture House / 7pm / £18.50
The original post-punk iconoclasts return. Well, half of them do anyway, to play their best album, Entertainment! Also playing ABC, Glasgow on Saturday.

Emily Scott, Beerjacket, Julia and the Doogans
Saturday @ Wee Red Bar / 7.30pm / £7
Trampoline presents a night of stellar acoustic talent, with UtR-tipped Emily Scott and Beerjacket, plus the moonlit lullabies of Julia and the Doogans.

The OK Social Club, Black Alley Screens, Sebastian Dangerfield
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £5
Scuzzy indie rock from The OK Social Club, with local support.

Brother Louis Collective
Monday @ Capitol / 7pm / £tbc
Please your ears by getting them near this orchestral-pop marvel. Featured a few weeks ago right here; check it.

Theoretical Girl, Tango in the Attic
Monday @ Captains Rest / 8pm / £5
Posh sounding chamber-pop hottie swims up from London to hook up with a few boys from Glenrothes. Sounds like a match made in personal ad heaven.

Aidez Moi, Cursive Hearts, Clear Air Turbulence
Tuesday @ Nice'n'Sleazy / 7.30pm / £4
Keyboard-wielding, electro-loving, post-industrial Aidez Moi - describe them however you like and enjoy the pop tunes.

Clara Belle, Earl Grey & The Loose Leaves, D Bass Collective
Wednesday @ Nice'n'Sleazy / 7.30pm / £tbc
Scottish/Japanese Clara Belle's sweet voice captures the heart with delicate melodies strummed along by ukelele. Expect things to get jazzy with tea-obsessed Earl Grey and multi-member D Bass Collective.

Codeine Velvet Club
Wednesday @ Classic Grand / 7.30pm / £8
Jon Fratelli takes time from his day-job and pairs up with cabaret-loving singer and Glasgow Club Noir regular Lou Hickey.

Times New Viking, Copy Haho, Mellifluous, Surreal Knights
Thursday @ Nice'n'Sleazy / 7.30pm / £7
Fuzzy, loud and fun lo-fi rock from Ohio's Times New Viking perfectly complemented by indie/pop fun from Copy Haho.

Cassidy, Three Blind Wolves, Paper Planes
Thursday @ Oran Mor / 6pm / Free

They've got wood; and they're not afraid to use it. All acoustic four piece joined by a couple of Glasgow's darlings. FYInteresting information, Three Blind Wolves were formally Ross Clark and the Scarfs Go Missing.

Sugar Crisis
Thursday @ The Apple Store / 7pm / Free
Glasgow duo Sugar Crisis offer a taste of their sweeter than sweet electro-pop (think Bis but even more hyper) with this free in-store gig.

Come on Gang!
Thursday @ Captains Rest / 8pm / £tbc
Come on then! What are you waiting for? Like you have anything better to do on a Thursday night than get a little closer to this sexy three-piece.

Zoey Van Goey
Friday @ Oran Mor / 7pm / £6
Recent Chemikal Underground signings Zoey Van Goey play from their acclaimed debut album.

Charlotte Hatherley
Friday @ King Tuts / 7pm / £7
Out of the Ashes... hmmm... might just stay well clear of that pun. Sometime Bat for Lashes guitarist, multi-instrumentalist brings it to Glasgow solo-style.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band, The Declining Winter, Second Hand Marching Band, Burnt Island
Friday @ Captain's Rest / 7.30pm / £5
The live arm of Is This Music? returns with New York's Phenomenal Handclap Band, plus UtR favourites the Second Hand Marching Band and the melodic Burnt Island, a musical venture from author Rodge Glass.

Our Lunar Activities
Saturday @ King Tuts / 8pm / £5
Placebo rip off or not Placebo rip off, if you have yet to see this band you should. Even if it's just for the plain fact that they have been around for so long.

Boycotts, The King Hats, Popolo
Saturday @ Captains Rest / 8pm / £tbc
Boycotts are celebrating a birthday and everyone's invited. If you want to see the best new music from Scotland get there sharp.

Stereo Open Day: Correcto, Jacob Yates & the Pearly Gate Lockpickers, Tut Vu Vu, DeSalvo, Fox Gut Daata, Gummy Stumps, Furhood, Schnapps, Peter Parker, Chlorinide and Nanobots
Saturday @ Stereo / 3pm / £5
With this lineup, Stereo and organisers Huntleys & Palmers Audio Club are really spoiling us. All day sharp post-punk/"Doom wop"/screamy masked terror/MCs/rock'n'roll/etc fun for a bargain price.

Sounds in the Sububs: The State Broadcasters and Vinny Peculiar
Saturday @ The Woodend Tennis and Bowling Club / 8pm / £7
This Jordanhill venue might be out of the way but it's worth the trip to hear this Americana-inspired six-piece, playing from debut album The Ship and The Iceberg.

**UtR's gig of the week**
Crufts #1: Findo Gask, The Happy Particles, Popolo
Saturday @ Nice'n'Sleazy / 7.30pm / £4
Former UtR guest bloggers Findo Gask present the first of four monthly nights at Sleazy's. Members of Remember Remember, Stapleton and Simplestorm make up The Happy Particles and UtR-tipped Popolo join the bill. Top dog.

Words: Elaine Liddle, Aimi Gold, Nick Mitchell

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

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 11 September 2009

On the radar: Casino Brag

Casino Brag

Play: A Fair Escape

Play: Stop Go Stop (You Could Be Out There)

Having existed for a mere 12 months, Casino Brag are relative newbies when compared to longer-toothed west-coast luminaries.

But the foursome of Paul Mclean, John Paul Dunne, Graeme Ellis and David Richards have already made a significant dent in the Glasgow scene.

Citing early 80s chromatic post punk and Britpop's glitterati sheen as influences, the quartet have set about creating one of Glasgow's most unique sounds: pounding drum and bass reel-in disco funk grooves. Richards' chanting drawl recalls The Stranglers’ Hugh Cornwell at his most acrid; while a squall of FX-riddled guitar emits, as Richards puts it, "quite a spacey sound”.

“When the band first started we had a different guitarist and he quite liked a flutter,” says Richards of the band's punt-friendly moniker. “[We] would often go up to the casino and he even went over to Las Vegas a couple of times. On his last visit he told me about a card game called Casino Brag and the both of us said that would make a great band name.”

This year the band played the Box’s 'The Next Big Thing' at Glasgow's O2 Academy, their biggest gig to date, and have built on this with a haul of shows up and down the Sauchiehall Street scene, building up a feverous band of followers along the way.

Like most of the artists we've spoken to recently, Richards is impressed by the current Scottish music scene: “I love it. I’m from England originally and I love how many bands here sing with their own accent…most of what I listen to at present are local bands, " he excites. "I wrote a blog on MySpace just the other day about all the music that’s interesting me in and around Glasgow just now…we’re so often impressed with the bands we play alongside at shows.”

Having made a name for themselves in Glasgow, the lads have set their sights on broaching a wider audience: “We believe we can build a bigger fan base outside of the Glasgow area and maybe further," Richards says. "A single release is definitely coming up in Autumn. After that, hopefully work with a label to put an album out.”

And let’s not forget the blueprint for every new band: "Oh yeah, and of course world domination is always good."

Words: Clare Sinclair

Catch Casino Brag at the following shows:
19 Sep @ Dirty Martini's, Kilmarnock
23 Sep @ King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
22 Oct @ Capitol, Glasgow

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

So who will be the next Scottish Mercury winner?

Speech Debelle

The odds of a Scottish act reclaiming the Mercury Music Prize would appear to be at an all-time low.

After handing the gong to a bunch of grizzly Northerners last year, the judges reverted to type and bestowed the £20K cheque upon the talented but hardly groundbreaking rapper Speech Debelle (above) last night.

And Glasvegas frontman James Allan couldn't even be bothered to show up.

But on the other hand, if the type of winner does really run in cycles, that could mean that a Scottish win is in the pipeline. First it was Primal Scream in 1992, then a long gap until Franz Ferdinand in 2004, but who will be our nation's next media dahlings?

UtR writers offer their tips...

We Were Promised Jetpacks We Were Promised Jetpacks - nominated by Aimi Gold

We Were Promised Jetpacks can multi-task.

Like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time, the Jetpacks have managed the tough task of tapping into the UK and American market simultaneously; making fans and selling albums on both sides of the Atlantic.

Their beautiful debut album These Four Walls gut-punches with emotionally driven lyrics and music that compliments, rich in dynamics and confident in delivery. Opening track 'Thunder and Lightning' is a statement that demands attention, with vocalist Adam Thompson's performance sung and shouted with obvious passion.

In quieter moments, such as 'This is my house, this is my home', the album shimmers with stunning melody and subtle guitar hooks.

Accessible without trying to be, We Were Promised Jetpacks should be given every accolade that raises their profile and ensures These Four Walls reaches every house in the country.

Play: Quiet Little Voices

Broken RecordsBroken Records - nominated by Andrew Learmonth

Apart from great songs and great musicianship, what Broken Records have that makes them potential Mercury winners is commercial appeal.

Until The Earth Begins To Part (UTEBTP) is an album like Elbow's Mercury-winning Seldom Seen Kid. Those already aware of the band love them wholeheartedly, but UTEBTP is a record that can induce plenty of potential converts.

It's clever, affecting, complicated music they write, not introspective self indulgent nonsense. That doesn’t stop them being a band who would be equally at home on the playlist of Radio 1, 2 and 6, and there's probably some folky, world music show on Radio 3 that they could be shoe horned into.

The true test of any song on any album is how it would sound on the radio. ‘If The News Make You Sad...’ sounds amazing.

Play: If The News Makes You Sad Don't Watch It

BeerjacketBeerjacket - nominated by Elaine Liddle

Alongside the token jazz act of the year, the Mercury judges have often seen fit to shine a light on solo singer-songwriters. Granted, it's not since Badly Drawn Boy in 2000 that someone of this ilk has won, but take a look back at almost any year in the last decade and you'll spot one: Laura Marling in 2008, Fionn Regan in 2007, Seth Lakeman in 2005.

The styles might differ but the common thread is of solitary, guitar-strumming writers stringing their emotions into a well-crafted song. Beerjacket certainly has that in hand on latest album Animosity. Meanwhile his Springsteen-covering ways have brought Peter Kelly the attention of a wider audience in recent months, just the kind of buzz Mercury judges adore.

And can't you just picture Lauren Laverne smiling over 'Dancing in the Dark' during one of those awkward nominee interviews they show on BBC2 before the announcement is made?

Play: Drum

Maple LeavesMaple Leaves - nominated by Clare Sinclair

Having adorned the T Break stage after just three months of being and armed with the sort of summery melodies and harmonies that leave you with no choice but to sing along to, who else could storm future Mercurys Award shows but Glasgow triad Maple Leaves?

Not every three-piece can make such a big, voluptuous sound, and it’s their sheer musicality that does it for me every time. Having been spotted so quickly in their careers, and with an eagerly anticipated EP due for release this autumn, this is a band capable of taking us back to the roots of music, much like Belle & Sebastian once did.

Play: Easy Speak

MeursaultMeursault - nominated by Stevie Kearney

On sheer omnipresence alone, Meursault deserve an award. There is a credible rumour doing the rounds that the Edinburgh band have pioneered cloning technology and there are actually seven Meursaults – one for each day of the week.

Other than their ferocious schedule, there are lots of reasons to love this band. Last year’s Pissing on Bonfires, Kissing with Tongues was a superb mixture of structured songwriting and strange electronic noises, which may be just the right combination to appeal to the Mercury judging panel. The new material currently doing the rounds at their many gigs is, in a word, awesome.

With the backing of Song, by Toad records and plans afoot to tour a little further from home, next year should, if there is a God, see Meursault break into the mainstream both in the UK and abroad. Like a favoured son leaving home, Meursault need to be packed off into the big bad world. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Play: A Few Kind Words

Withered HandWithered Hand - nominated by Lisa-Marie Ferla

Okay, I'll admit it: on first listen, the odds look steep. Scratchy vocals which could at best be described as eccentric, lo-fi production; lyrics which reference loneliness, depression, religious guilt and masturbation... Withered Hand is hardly a mass-market proposition.

A listen to debut album Good News however reveals an accomplished singer-songwriter in his Sunday best, face washed and long hair tucked behind ears. It's just as clever, just as raw - but laced with moments of sublime singalong harmony which couldn't help but raise a smile in the grumpiest of judging panels.

Every one of these lists needs a singer-songwriter, and you'd be hard placed to find a better one in Scotland than Dan Willson. Antony and the Johnsons' strangled frog vocals took the Mercury crown, Badly Drawn Boy strummed and hummed his way to the prize - if there was any justice, Withered Hand should too.

Play: No Cigarettes

Wounded KneeWounded Knee - nominated by Billy Hamilton

The roll call for this year’s Mercury Music Prize suggests the odds of Drew Wright (AKA Wounded Knee) one day emerging victorious with a cheque for £20K are fairly slim. But, think about it: is it really that preposterous?

Sure, his freeform expressionism is hardly in keeping with the mainstream-manicuring of the modern day; then again didn’t Talvin Singh (who?) encounter the same protestations?

Likewise, Wright’s indecipherable intone may seem too obscure for the MP3-attuned masses, but , let’s face it, Dizzee Rascal’s elocution left a lot to be desired.

And as for being from north of the border? Well, if a transvestite American can win it then, hell, surely a robe-adorning Scot with a penchant for hymnal skatting [keep it clean gents] is in with a chance?

In fact, the more I think about it the more it becomes clear: Wounded Knee is a shoe-in for the Mercury Music Prize.

ErrorsErrors - nominated by Nick Mitchell

The precedents for an instrumental electronica Mercury winner are practically non-existent - unless you somehow squish Roni Size's hyper-speed D'n'B into that particular musical cookie cutter ... maybe not.

But that surely means that Errors' time is ripe for some breakthrough recognition.

Last year's ungrammatically-titled debut LP It's not something but it is like whatever - and indeed the How Clean is Your Acid House? EP that preceded it - were both thrilling portals into their unique sound world, lying somewhere on a weird continuum between Warp Records and Mogwai.

The Rock Action-signed Glasgow quartet are currently busying themselves with album number two, and you can bet they'll be pushing their abstract yet danceable crossover jams even further forward.

If Led Bib can make the shortlist this year, then why not Errors for 2010?

Play: Salut France

Do you have a future Mercury tip? Let's be hearing it...

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Editorial: Is there any point in music awards?

La Roux / Glasvegas / Speech Debelle

So it’s Mercury Music Prize (or Barclaycard Mercury Prize, if you wish to be pedantic) time again and, as ever, expletive-riddled rants that usually begin with “I can’t believe..." and end with "...Glasvegas/Kasabian/La Roux?!!?!!?” are spooled out across the country.

But what’s been gnarling our bark here at UtR towers isn’t so much the line-up itself, as the whole damn point of music awards. On one hand they’re a ‘celebration of music’, a veritable banquet of the best tune-churners around. But on the other, well, all they do is reinforce the stranglehold of commercialism, forcing acts to play ball or die in a cocoon of uncooperative insularity.

So, with our feathers firmly ruffled, we put forward our arguments for and against the never dying beast that is the music awards ceremony...

"The Mercury at least registers a pulse of vitality"


By Nick Mitchell

The big gripe that’s always slung at the Mercury Music Prize is that it’s blatantly tokenistic in its cover-all-bases approach. If a contemporary jazz trio are nominated then that’s the ‘token jazz’ slot filled, and the same applies to the ‘token classical’ composer or the ‘token urban’ rapper.

But while the box-ticking nature of the shortlist comes across like the overtly liberal narcissism it undoubtedly is, I would argue that the Mercury winners, on the other hand, are refreshingly unpredictable.

Roni SizeHow often do the bookies’ favourites actually triumph anyway? How often are you shocked, blind-sided or just baffled by the name that’s plucked from the envelope by a gurning Jools Holland? So this isn’t always a good thing: Roni Size (right) somehow won with his D’n’B breaks album New Forms in the same year that Radiohead were a shoe-in with OK Computer, an album often voted the best of the 1990s by critics and fans alike.

But no matter, because compared to the artistic flatline that runs through the sales-driven Brits, NMEs, MOBOs et al, the Mercury at least registers a pulse of vitality.

And to those who say the Mercury judging panel is too elitist, middle-class or London-centric, well you’re probably right on all three counts. They will comprise of the usual 40-something, self-congratulatory, media-savvy types we see cropping up on BBC4 music docs or in Observer picture bylines.

But while you might expect such a gaggle of chin-strokers to be insular or stuffy, and just plump for the last cool-sounding CD they heard at their friend’s dinner party in Primrose Hill, I actually think that Mercury panels have shown a remarkably open mind in years gone by.

The aforementioned genre diversity is one argument for this, and the southern bias claim is refuted by the fact that Scottish (or at least part-Scottish) bands have won twice: Primal Scream in 1992 and Franz Ferdinand in 2004.

In 2009 I'd argue the Mercury Prize has never been so important. We are in a recession. Record sales are in freefall and could sorely do with the boost. More importantly though, the endangered creature that is the British music journalist needs something to write about; a big, daft, glitzy party to make them feel important again, and unlimited free booze to consume. They’ll be out of their jobs this time next year, so who could deny them one last, all expenses paid blow-out?

On that note, perhaps someone should establish a Scottish version. And invite us.

"There’s no need for artists to tussle like leotard-wearing Neanderthals"


By Billy Hamilton

My gripe with music awards isn’t the mutual back-slapping that accompanies these gong bestowing jamborees. Nor is it the self-congratulatory high fives dispensed by industry executives who've craftily wheeled in a few more bucks during notoriously dry months. In fact, my rancour isn’t even concerned with ex-Kenickie wench Lauren Lavern (below) fronting almost every music ceremony in the UK like a cod-faced Jonathan Ross.

Lauren LaverneNo, I’m afraid my pique is gunning for the concept itself.

Y’see, the notion of music as a competition is absurd; a complete abstraction that defies logic. Think of the most successful scenes of the last five years - Baltimore, Montreal, LA, Glasgow. All unmistakably different in both lifespan and ethos, but all founded on one common denominator: an industrious hub created by a core of interlocking bands. There was no rung-climbing aspirations, no overbearing hegemony that dictated the needy few; each was fashioned by a united collective progressing towards a single goal.

So why forge a competition from it?

There’s no need for artists to tussle like leotard-wearing Neanderthals pantomimically playing out a musical Royal Rumble. Challenge each other by all means, but to go mano-a-mano for an award that, ultimately, does nothing but dissipate credibility and alienate fans is beguiling at best, bilious at worst. And, before you ask, yes, these bands have to agree (and many times pay) to be nominated. Awards ceremonies are not the natural order of things.

Let’s be clear, I’m no naive young pup with a rouge-tinted view of the industry. I know money keeps the big four [EMI, Warner, Sony and Universal] on their pedestal; which in turn ensures bands like Glasvegas and Kasabian maintain their penchant for humdrum space filler; which then feeds the PR men, DJs, hacks and whoever else slavers after crumbs from the top table.

But when even the Mercury prize – an award once considered the leftfield better of the Brits’ archetypal bumchumming – nuzzles up with a former sponsor of England's premier football league, the aching reality of these self-serving reacharounds becomes all too clear. Tonight’s winners will be the music industry's Manchester United; a band gearing up for bigger battles at home and abroad. The rest? Well, we all know what happened to Newcastle United last season.

Music awards: good or bad? You tell us...

And if you're really bothered at all, join us on Twitter tonight for a good old moan as the result is announced. Follow @under_the_radar

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Monday, 7 September 2009

VERSUS: Meursault vs The Foundling Wheel vs Dead Boy Robotics

Ground-breaking live music night Versus returns on Thursday 10 September with a trio of our favourite BEAR Scotland noise-mongers – Meursault, The Foundling Wheel and Dead Boy Robotics – gearing up to grapple track-to-track in the Voodoo Rooms’ shadowed cove.

Ted Koterwas, organiser of the first Versus event in March, has joined forces with Dave Cumings, co-creator of Edinburgh’s Limbo, to create a bi-monthly sound explosion that takes three bands and one stage and turns them into a lug-ringing racket.

“Versus capitalises on the notion of conflict, and then subverts it,” explains Koterwas. “It starts with a duelling concept, where bands go track for track, but then evolves. We are encouraging bands to collaborate on songs as well as alternate, so you can expect a number of songs to be played by new configurations of the bands involved."

This triangular tussle juxtaposes UtR’s favourte alt. folk heroes Meursault against the incessant bit-crushing of The Foundling Wheel and Dead Boy Robotics’ robotic discord. As a special treat for eager punters, rumour has it the triad will be joined by a number of esteemed local musical dignitaries throughout the night. That’s just between you and us though, right?

Aimed at appealing to both the competitive and collaborative spirits of bands, Versus is set to produce a bombastic throb of sound that’s a refreshing antidote to the folky whispers often emanating from Auld Reekie’s streets.

As Koterwas puts it: “We aim to curate some truly innovative combinations of bands from different genres and styles and really challenge them to either find common ground or revel in the ensuing conflict - hopefully a bit of both.”

A step into the unknown, Versus really could go either way. And you know what? That's what makes it so very special.

Words: Billy Hamilton

Versus is on at The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh at 8pm, Thursday 10 September. Tickets are £5 on the door.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

On the radar: The John Knox Sex Club

The John Knox Sex Club
[The John Knox Sex Club, drawn live by Jenny Soep]

Play: The Devil is in your hand and I'm going to f**k it out

Play: John the Revelator

The John Knox Sex Club are a band without an agenda.

Built, in part, from members of long-rested Glasgow favourite Piano Bar Fight and Washington Irving, they make music for no other reason than to play live.

“We have just finished recording three songs at Chem 19,” says singer Sean Cumming. “When we first started the band, I didn't really want to record anything. It was always meant to be a live thing and nothing else.

"That might seem odd in a culture where bands seem to rush from the practice room into a studio to cut a demo to get gigs in order to get a deal, in order to 'make it’ but I don't see the band as a money earner, I think the name has put paid to any chance of that. I just really love performing."

Cumming’s onstage persona is that of a sin-purging preacher. His poetic, traditional, Scottish-laced vocals are spat out with a firey-tongue and a pointed finger. The rest of the band are just as chaotic; summoning an assault on the ears that winks at a range of comparisons, from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to Dananananaykroyd, but pulls on nothing specific.

“I’m not worried about being different," Cumming states. "I suppose it's for other people to decide if we are interesting, different, original, etc, or just another bunch of whiney, white guys with guitars.

“I would say that we aren't afraid to make mistakes, to be unprofessional, to improvise, to cover songs. I hope we convey something during our performance that stays with people after: be that the sense of joy I feel playing or something in the lyrics that resonates, or anything at all - positive or negative.”

At their recent gig at the National Portrait Gallery, they had music illustrator Jenny Soep draw them live, with the images projected on to the wall. The gallery itself, with no stage and recently painted in an eclectic fashion by young artists, was a fitting setting for a band who like to play at audience level.

Cumming enjoys such occasions: “I really love playing unusual one-off gigs. We would really like in future to play all our gigs on the floor in the crowd, although this might not be possible.

“We have other ludicrous ideas but I will keep them under my hat for now. I'm really looking forward to working on and playing some new material and possibly more recording. Beyond that there is no great plan.”

Words: Aimi Gold

Intrigued? Watch The John Knox Sex Club live at the Captain's Rest, Glasgow on 3 Oct.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Radar recommends: 6 - 12 Sep

Versus: Thursday @ Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms,
[Photos by Nic Rue, Loraine Ross & David Forcier]

With the World Cup now only a team ranked 3rd in the world (that's a whole 27 places above Burley's bruisers) and a play off win away, this week could gravitate around celebration or, as is more likely come 9.30pm on Wednesday, drowning sorrows. Either way, there's a veritable feast of giggage about to cater for every emotional vagary...


Willard Grant Conspiracy, Doghouse Roses
Tuesday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £10/8
Bit Johnny Cash, bit John Cale. Americana, improvisation and top notch musicianship in Aberdeen this Tuesday comes courtesy of Robert Fisher’s Californian group. Support from Glasgow’s Doghouse Heroes.

Le Reno Amps
Thursday @ SNAFU / 9pm / £4
Ahead of their EP launch Glasgow indie types Le Reno Amps play Dirty Hearts Club. Support from The Marionettes.

Twin Atlantic, Avoid the Morning
Saturday @ Moshulu / 7.30pm / £7.50
Crowd-surfing weegie rockers juxtapose visceral guitars against pneumatic drums to make em a thrilling clatter. Also playing The Ironworks, Inverness on Friday.

Finley Quaye
Wednesday @ Doghouse / 8pm / £12
Edinburgh born reggae rapscallion, best know for his much loved 1997 LP Maverik A Strike, fashions out more of the same beats and gibberish.

You Me At Six
Friday @ Fat Sam's / 7.30pm / £10
Kerrang! friendly punk-rock-schlock from this grammatically incorrect Weybridge outfit.

The Wildhouse, The Strangers Almanac, Gong Fei, One Inch Volcano
Saturday @ Drouthy’s / 8.30pm / Free
The Wildhouse have been described as one of Dundee’s best live bands and they’ll be headlining this Fresher’s week special.

Dan Costello, Wounded Knee
Monday @ The Bowery / 7.30pm / £5
Dan Costello's anti-folk missives are supported by the mesmerising cyclical chants of Wounded Knee at this post-festival reopening of Edinburgh's indie epicentre.

White Noise featuring The Pineapple Chunks
Tuesday @ The Electric Circus / 8pm / £4
The screwball ensemble ply their madcap melodic trade at this outstanding gig/club night.

Twestival: Epic 26, Chutes
Thursday @ The Electric Circus / 7pm / £tbc
Two of Auld Reekie's perennial mainstay's turn out their rambunctious guitar fare for, eh, Twitter and charity, apparently. Whatever happened to MySpace?

The Void, Make Sparks
Thursday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £3
EP launch for sprightly indie upstarts The Void - they sound a little like We Were Promised Jetpacks with more chutzpah.

VERSUS: Meursault vs The Foundling Wheel vs Dead Boy Robotics
Thursday @ The Voodoo Rooms / 8pm / £5
Not so much a gig, as a concept: Three bands, one stage and A LOT of noise. This is going to be one helluva show and, rumour has it, a number of local luminaries will be joining the BEAR Scotland triumvirate throughout the night.

Neko Case
Friday @ The Voodoo Rooms / £12.50 / £12.50
Anyone else love The New Pornographers but find Ms Case a little humdrum? No? Just me then...

Rock Chick Night: Scrap Brain, Storm in a D Cup, Sonorous Breaks, Dead on the Live Wire, Cherenkov Drive, The Number , Seafield Foxes
Friday @ Henry's Cellar Bar / 7pm / £4
Neko Case wouldn't last one second amidst this seven band smattering of hard rocking femme fatales.

This Is Music:
Come On Gang, Dupec, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's / 8pm / £5
A typically fine billing from the guys and gals at This is Music. Big dinosaurs to. Always nice.

Jesus H. Foxx, Some Young Pedro
Saturday @ The Bowery / 7.30pm / £5
EP launch for the Song, By Toad stabled Foxx outfit with support coming from the enthralling Some Young Pedro.

Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper
Tuesday @ O2 Academy / 7pm / Sold Out
Has the appeal of Fleet Foxes finally soured after last year's collective media fawning? Find out at this gig. Or don't, because it's sold out.

Bronto Skylift
Wednesday @ 13th Note / 9pm / £tbc
Awesomely abrasive noise combo. Hard to believe there are only two of 'em.

Okkervil River
Wednesday @ Oran Mor / 7.00pm / £12.50
Must be Autumn again. It's time for Texan folk-punk stars Okkervil River's annual Glasgow visit.

Dupec, Pose Victorious, White Heath
Thursday @ Pivo Pivo / 8pm / £3
Three of Edinburgh's brightest bands roll up in Glasgow. This one definitely has the UtR seal of approval.

Sunset Rubdown, Mitchell Museum, North Atlantic Oscillation
Thursday @ Stereo / tbc / £tbc
Hyped Canadian indie types, with two former UtR-featured bands in tow.

Glasgow Twestival
Thursday @ The Living Room / 7pm / £10
Status update: At Glasgow Twestival, watching Panda Su, Pooch and Any Color Black, and tapping away on my iPhone. Geeky fun but it's all for charity.

BMX Bandits, The Primary 5 and Randolph's Leap
Saturday @ Classic Grand / 7pm / £8
Indie veterans BMX Bandits, with support from recent UtR stars, the eccentric Randolph's Leap.

Words: Nick Mitchell, Billy Hamilton, Andrew Learmonth

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


Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Tweet Nothings, feat. Alex Kapranos, The Vaselines, Yahweh

Tweet NothingsOur Twitter stalking column (now shamelessly ripped off by The Guardian) returns, and this time there's environmental rightousness, studio-based poetry and swine flu. Damned swine flu.

Amy MacDonald plays the eco warrior card...
@AmyMacdonald1: i'm watching sky news. I'm absolutely horrified at what they do to the dolphins in Japan. It's barbaric.

While Camera Obscura reveal the dangers of a green lifestyle...
@camera_obscura_: Went to the bottle bank and got chased by nesting wasps. And they say recycling makes you feel better about yourself.

Franz Ferdinand singer (if indeed it is he) takes the whole Twitter brevity ethos to heart...
@alkapranos: A gig. That'll do.

Remember Remember pray for some cross pollination of the musical kind...
@Rmmbr_Rmmbr: I heard that Utah Saints chose their name as they wanted to be close to U2 in the CD's hoping some R.E.M. fans'll be as dumb

Could The Vaselines be any more indie?
@the_vaselines: We mixed two new Vaselines songs with Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub last night then listened to Orange Juice on repeat. Blue Boy!

Frightened Rabbit haven't forgotten how to be modest in their pursuit of world domination...
@FRabbits: Thanks to all who were at QH on Tues night. You humbled us beyond words!!!

No such deference from We Are The Physics...
@wearethephysics: Studio today. Recording. It'll be the best song ever. Might not finish it though because it'll make your record collection redundant.

Beerjacket makes album recording sound like a pregnant woman's water breaking...
@Beerjacket: Oh my goodness, I think there's going to be another Beerjacket album really soon. Why wait? The songs are coming really fast. Demoing now.

Probably best that Yahweh cancelled last week's gig. Get well soon...
@yahwehtheband: I have swine flu. it's shite.

How to Swim demand answers on postcards. Or in tweets...
@howtoswim: When to launch a record? How long to sit on it before launching it? How quick is too quick? How near to Xmas is too near to Xmas? ...phew.

And finally, The Gothenburg Address add some poetry to geeky studio techniques...
@gothenaddy: Putting on layers like its wintertime ..

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


Bookmark and Share

Friday, 4 September 2009

On the radar: Indian Red Lopez

Indian Red Lopez

Play: An Iron Fist

Play: Ropes

Chances are you'll have heard of Peterhead either because it's Europe's largest white fish port, or because it has one of Britain’s largest prisons for sex offenders.

What you might not know is that it’s also a breeding ground for some very exciting music. Indian Red Lopez (IRL), who take their name from the film Sleepers, got together in their current line-up last November and released their debut EP Castles Incomplete earlier this year.

Produced by the Fence Collective’s On The Fly, in what few reviews the EP has had there have already been comparisons to the solo work of Thom Yorke.

Straight from the off with opener 'Ropes' - already one of the finest songs of this year - you'll have your mind haunted by the voice of singer Michael Chang. It's backed up by great tunes, clever lyrics and top class musicianship.

The band cite their influences as everything from Joy Division, The National and King Creosote to derelict buildings and open skies. Chang says they can be inspired by "the simplest, sometimes trivial things to people and places we love. It's an all encompassing thing really, from everything to nothing."

IRL are also firm believers in giving their punters a show. You can expect visuals, projectors, original artwork. "It's a necessary compulsion," Chang says. "Because we love music, and we love art, and we love film and literature, we have always wanted to combine our ideas in these various mediums and be creative. We’re all naturally quite creative people and enjoy taking different ideas from different mediums and creating one idea from them, expressed in a variety of forms."

They’ll soon be leaving Aberdeenshire and playing more gigs in the Central Belt, as well as recording more tracks in the next few months. They also have gigs in London, France and Holland to look forward to, so expect big things from Peterhead's latest claim to fame.

Words: Andrew Learmonth

Like what you hear? Watch IRL live at the following gigs:

21 Sep and 25 Sep @ Cafe Drummonds, Aberdeen
4 Oct @ The Greenside, Glenrothes
5 Oct @ Bloc, Glasgow
6 Oct @ The GRV, Edinburgh
7 Oct @ Death Disco, London

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

On the Radar: She’s Hit

She's Hit
[Photograph: John R Spiers]


Play: She Slips She Slides

Sleazy, sweaty and feedback-heavy, Glasgow-based garage punk act She’s Hit are the perfect soundtrack to those darker days that herald the end of summer.

David "Div" Wilson, Michael "Mikhail" Hanson, Philip McLellan and Cameron "Cammy" Wilson have been playing the city’s seedier basements for around nine months, and their baby-faced looks belie the darkness of their sound.

“We’re doing what we’re doing because we feel that there aren’t a large quantity of bands doing what we are, especially in Glasgow. What we do just kind of… feels a bit different,” explains David. “It’s quite hard to find a lot of bands that we’re really into – there are a few, Paper Planes being the best currently.

“We’ve not really encountered many other local bands like us. We put a lot of energy and forwardness into our shows – that’s not to say you don’t encounter that elsewhere, it’s just we feel that performance is parallel to the sound that comes across.”

Drawing inspiration from feedback-ridden garage punk such as the Jesus and Mary Chain, Suicide, the Cramps and XTRMNTR-period Primal Scream, even the band’s name hints at their influences. “When we were picking the name, The Birthday Party – Nick Cave’s project after the Boys Next Door – were our newest obsession,” says David. “'She’s Hit' is one of their songs, and it just seemed to fit.”

Although that sparse, retro feel sets their music apart, the band are not without more contemporary pleasures. “The Raveonettes, the Kills, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, A Place To Bury Strangers… really just all beautiful pop that has individuality and oddity about it,” David muses.

The boys are currently working on an EP, due out early next year on local label/promoter Flowers in the Dustbin. “It’ll be around four tracks, 'RE:PEATER' and 'She Slips' included, and then a remix of one or two of the tracks. Should be interesting,” says David.

The band have a couple of shows coming up in September, which you can check out – along with a selection of Spotify playlists – on their MySpace page.

Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla

Like what you hear? Watch She's Hit live at the following dates:

11 Sep @ Flying Duck, Glasgow
17 Sep @ Captain's Rest, Glasgow

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Where they are now: Galchen

GalchenOf all the acts we've featured on the blog to date (and that's 66 and counting), Galchen are definitely one of my personal favourites.

While their complex, warped post-rock compositions are unlikely to make them the next chart-surfing sensations, it's the kind of music you can listen to on repeat and barely tire of it. Like the best instrumental rock, it just sounds good.

When we profiled them before their set at the Hinterland festival in May, they said they were in the process of writing and recording, but that the daily work grind was getting in the way.

With a headline show at the Tapped clubnight this week (billing: "for those who like their music innovative, forward thinking and vital"), we thought the time was ripe for an update.

Simon (no surname provided - they're a mysterious sort) explains their work pattern: "Writing the album has been and still is the priority for this year. Writing pieces of music tends to be a long process, not having a record label looking over our shoulder means there is no pressure to rush things."

And there is an interesting piece of news to report: "We have also added to our ranks in the past couple of months. Ged, who is a long time friend of the band has come onboard to look after live keyboards, samples and all things electronic. It's exciting to hear and will give us an extra dimension during live shows."

Are the band looking forward to playing live after a short hiatus?

"With regards to the gig itself, it gives us an opportunity to road test new songs - and member!" says Simon. "Plus Gail has been busy creating a new set of visuals which look bloody brilliant as ever. We have fond memories of the venue having played one of our favourite ever gigs at last year's Sauchiehall Crawl."

Words: Nick Mitchell

Galchen play Tapped @ The V Club, Glasgow this Thursday (3 Sep). The night runs from 11pm until 3am with Galchen on stage at 12.30am.

Play: Track Nine

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share