Friday, 30 October 2009

On the radar: My Tiny Robots

My Tiny Robots

Play: Other People Matter

Some bands appear to do everything right but, when the proverbial push comes to shove, fail to light up the stage. Thankfully, Edinburgh trio My Tiny Robots [MTR] are not one of these bands.

Comprised of frontman Dylan Childs and multi-instrumentalists Ryan Marinello (also of Occasional Flickers fame) and Russell Williams, MTR illuminate the ear-sockets with a forever sought but rarely captured trait: charisma.

Underpinned by a playful sense of humour, there’s an astonishing diversity to MTR’s songs. Childs notes: “We always find it reassuring that any comparisons to other bands tend to differ wildly according to the songs that people have heard at any given time."

A trip to the band’s MySpace confirms this, with the punkish shards of live favourite The Haircut Song juxtaposing against a bizarre cover of Greece staple You’re The One That I Want. It’s a contrast that typifies MTR’s refusal to take life too seriously.

So far, the band’s output has consisted of EPs, with their first release, Some of my Best Ideas, put out on their own label Kraken Records. There are plans afoot to release two more EPs in the spring, but the ultimate aim, according to Childs, “is to make an album or two that we are all really proud of”.

He adds: “None of us has aspirations of world domination, but any time someone you don't know comes up to you in the street to tell you they think one of your songs is amazing rates pretty highly.”

MTR typify the DIY scene in Scotland by making much of their music at home, although they admit to problems when it comes to the practicalities:

“Recording is often hampered by trying to cram one normal person and two 6' 5" - but slim - people into a tiny spare room to share one of the two mics without banging their heads on a cabin bed,” says Childs.

Describing the Edinburgh scene of five years ago as “Glasgow's fractious and incoherent cousin”, Childs is keen to hail the impact of bands like Meursault, Withered Hand and Jesus H Foxx in breaking new ground for the east coast.

Going hand in hand with this new-music revolution, Childs attributes “some brilliant independent promoters, three times the decent venues of five years ago and bloggers that people actually read” to the success of the scene.

As one of Auld Reekie’s most popular live acts, MTR are a band that understands the need to entertain. But if there’s any doubt about their musical acumen, one listen to Other People Matter will end the debate. It’s not just Edinburgh that needs bands like this; it’s the whole goddamn country.

Words: Stevie Kearney

My Tiny Robots play Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on November the 5th

Play: Kenny Rogers (Scent Of A Woman)

Play: l.i.d.l acoustic

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Thursday, 29 October 2009

Check the label: The Instinctive Racoon

The Instinctive Raccoon

Play: French Wives - Dog Fight

Nature or nurture?

The Instinctive Racoon
boss Jamie Webster is a fan of both. After naming his indie label in honour of TV hero David Attenborough, Webster decided to go on and nurture some local talent in his home city of Glasgow.

Founded in 2007, The Instinctive Racoon’s inaugural release was Ross Clark’s debut EP, Anthems in Clams. Since then the label has reeled out four more gorgeous records, including singles by Washington Irving and The French Wives and two more of Clark’s efforts.

Alongside these, Webster promotes sold out local shows on both sides of the M8 under the guise of his Racoon-shaped brainchild.

“I pick acts that excite me and that I believe have potential to develop whilst being conscious of not expanding too quickly,” he explains. "There isn't a specific genre that I adhere to. I think it’s important that we have diversity both in our live shows and our roster to keep the public interested in what we’re doing.”

And to top off this beehive of industry, The Instinctive Racoon also runs a monthly club night called Thankyou Frankley at Glasgow post-grad clubhouse Research Club.

Clearly passionate about the Scottish music scene, Webster’s aim is uncomplicated and true: to work with new bands he enjoys. He says: “Bands I like just now are Over The Wall and John Knox Sex Club. I have worked with both bands before on live shows and will continue to do so.”

Words: Aimi Gold

Instinctive Racoon’s next shows are ‘Thankyou Frankley’ at the Research Club on 31 October and 1 November at Sneaky Pete’s to launch The French Wives Single.

Play: French Wives - Halloween

Play: John Knox Sex Club - John the Revelator

Play: Washington Irving - It Creeps

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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Under the Radar podcast #5

Podcast #5...or, the one where we headed down to Oxjam Edinburgh, grabbed a few bands in various states of inebriation and recorded the results, with a few songs thrown in for good measure.

We have interviews with Meursault, Boycotts, Dead Boy Robotics, The Little Kicks, Jesus H Foxx and Y'All is Fantasy Island which we've stitched together quite simply in the order they happened.

Stevie, our Bowery correspondent, chatted to three of the bands at that venue, while Billy caught up with Dead Boy Robotics after their Cab Vol set and Nick spoke to Boycotts backstage at the same venue and The Little Kicks later on outside the 'aftershow' party.

Listen for tales of yacht sailing off the coast of Barcelona, Aberdonians "trying harder" out of town, and the conundrum of how to fit seven band members into one tour van (answer: tow a trailer).

Play: Podcast #5

Running order:
00:07: Interview: Dead Boy Robotics
04:57: Dead Boy Robotics - All Sixes & Sevens
09:22: Interview: Y'All is Fantasy Island
10:52: Y'All is Fantasy Island - With Hand Claps
14:26: Interview: Boycotts
18:20: Boycotts - Luella & Lies
21:33: Interview: Jesus H Foxx
24:22: Jesus H Foxx - I'm Half the Man You Were
27:32: Interview: Meursault
30:14: Meursault - A Few Kind Words
33:17: Interview: The Little Kicks
37:22: The Little Kicks - We Came Alive

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Podcast: Stevie Kearney, Billy Hamilton, Nick Mitchell

Previous UtR podcasts

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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

In pictures: Oxjam Edinburgh

On Friday a few of us sampled the musical delicacies of Oxjam's Edinburgh takeover. Tomorrow we'll publish a podcast with our interviews from the night, but before that here's a chance to relive the occasion in pictures, courtesy of the talented photographers who helped us out.

Tip: click the icon in the bottom right for full-screen view.

Photographs: Lauren Hunter, Nick Mailer, Luke Joyce
Soundtrack: Meursault

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Sunday, 25 October 2009

Radar recommends: 25 - 31 Oct

Camera Obscura
[Camera Obscura: homecoming gig on Thursday]

If you attended some of the many Oxjam gigs over the weekend, then you probably just want a week of rest and recuperation. Yes, it took its boozy toll on us UtR writers too.

But if you missed out - or if you just have more youthful get-up-and-go than us - then here is our guide to this week's live music...

Oxjam Aberdeen
Sunday @ various venues / from 1pm / £9 (£7)
The granite city gets its share of Oxjam festivities. See our preview below.

White Noise: Be A Familiar, I See Shapes
Tuesday @ Electric Circus / 8.30pm / Free
Excellent indie-pop septet Be A Familiar roll into town along with Greenock band I See Shapes. As usual, the gig starts at 10pm after the quiz. Free entry for quiz players.

Bowerbirds, Eagleowl
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £10
John Darnielle’s favourite Americana band have been touring with a drummer called Matt Damron in their native US. I thought it would make a funny anecdote until I realised I’d misread the name. Also playing Captain's Rest on Saturday with Olympic Swimmers.

Grouper, Debutant, Esperi
Saturday @ Wee Red Bar / 7pm / £5
All the way from Portland, Oregon comes sedate songstress Grouper, with two UtR-tipped acts in support.

Bombskare, Mystery Juice, Stanley Odd
Saturday @ Picture House / 7pm / £8
Sure, this is an oddly curated line-up (ska, rockabilly and rap?), but it's all for charity.

Our Ladies of Sorrow, The Leg, Art Fag
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £5
A night of weird-out sounds from these esoteric Edinburghers.

Satuday @ Bannerman's / 9pm / £5
Toast Halloween with one of Edinburgh's few 80s indie survivors.

Ten Tracks' Electric Café: Dead Civilised
Saturday @ The Roxy Arthouse / 7pm / £9
More ghoulish high jinks from the Ten Tracks crew, along with top drawer music from the likes of The Black Cat, Joe Acheson Quartet, Yahweh, The Gothenburg Address and Saint Jude's Infirmary.

Oxjam Glasgow Takeover
Tonight (Sunday) @ various venues (see our full preview below)
Bands still to perform as part of the multi-venue charity extravaganza include Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, Tempercalm, Ming Ming and the Ching Chings, Be A Familiar and The French Wives.

Cassidy, Three Blind Wolves, Brother Louis Collective
Sunday @ King Tuts / 8pm / £6
Single launch for acoustic guitar wielding bearded men x 4. Support from Ross Clark’s newly named band and beautiful harmony projectors featured here last month.

Edwyn Collins
Sunday @ O2 ABC / 7pm / £18
Get your vitamin C fix of goodness from this Orange Juice famed solo artist.

Tonight (Sunday) @ The Arches / 7pm / £15
If you’re not Oxjamming tonight, you could catch this enigmatic French superstar blog band and their great shades.

Therapy, Ricky Warwick
Tuesday and Wednesday @ King Tut’s / 8pm / £14
A slice of 90s nostalgia from the hardest-working band in alternative metal.

The Young Republic, Don’t Move
Wednesday @ Nice n Sleazy / 7.30pm / £8
Folk-pop Tennessee six-piece touring in support of gorgeous new album, Balletesque. Support Don’t Move! play bluegrass-influenced rock.

Our Brother The Native
Tuesday @ Captain’s Rest / 8pm / £tbc
Neo-soul fusion from One Little Indian signings.

**UtR's gig of the week**
Camera Obscura, Emma Pollock, Magic Arm
Thursday @ Barrowlands / 7pm / £12.50
Support from a former Delgado at Glasgow’s greatest venue makes this a homecoming show not to be missed from the city’s finest indiepop heroes.

Futuristic Retro Champions, The Cinnamons
Thursday @ The Admiral / 8pm / £5
One from the East. One from the West. In the West.

17 Seconds Records: Chris Bradley, X-Lion Tamer, Dirty Cuts, Escape Act
Friday @ 13th Note / 9pm / £tbc
East coast up-and-coming label shows off its signings, including Aberfeldy’s Chris Bradley and X-Lion Tamer’s poppy electrics.

Pin Up Frights ft. RBRBR, The Plimptons, Louise Against The Elements, Louise McVey and Cracks in the Concrete
Friday @ Flying Duck
A dreadful pun but a stellar lineup from one of Glasgow’s finest club nights, promising dance-rock, comedy indie and delicious gothic horror.

Ghouls Aloud ft. Isa and the Filthy Tongues, XMRV, The Number, Galoshins
Saturday @ Pivo Pivo / 8pm / £tbc
With a name like that, it has to be another Halloween “spook”-tacular at Pivo Pivo. Respected local dark rockers Isa and the Filthy Tongues top the bill.

Los Campesinos!, Copy Haho, Sparky Deathcap
Saturday @ King Tut’s / 8.30pm / £8
Gloriously poptastic tweeness from Cardiff’s finest. The fabulous Copy Haho and Sparky Deathcap add more colour to the night.

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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Saturday, 24 October 2009

Oxjam hits Aberdeen


So far the Aberdeen Oxjammers have held a Guitar Hero competition, taken over one of the city’s Dirty Hearts club nights and busked up the top of Ben Nevis.

Well, we say 'busked', but they organised sponsorship beforehand, because you can't always rely on passing hikers to chuck the odd coin in a guitar case.

The organisers believe that The Big Takeover, their flagship one-day multi venue event on October 25th, will be one of the biggest in the country. Seven of the city's venues are taking part with 20 bands all donating their time, including local stalwart Gerry Jablonski with his blues band, fun Americana types Captain Face and scene regulars The Marionettes, as well as an all-day busk on Belmont Street

Laura Darnell of the Aberdeen Oxjam team believes that there’s something for everyone and that this year is easily the best yet: "As for comparing it to previous years, there is no comparison. This year is bigger, better and should be huge!"

Words: Andrew Learmonth

The full roster of bands:

Brightstone / Headlight / Indikoda / Cheyenne Plains / The Clunk Funk Band / Incrediboy and the Forget Me Nots / Jake Taylor / Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band / The Marionettes / The Catch / Sonic Templars / Captain Face / The Form / Engraved / Shotgun Dawn / 3 Seasons / Shy & DRS / MC Mad Mickey / Amanda Duncan / Ross McKenzie

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Friday, 23 October 2009

Oxjam: Five must-see bands

Trapped in Kansas
[Trapped in Kansas]

As you'll have hardly failed to notice if you're a regular reader, this weekend's live music calendar in Scotland is dominated by Oxjam.

Like other multi-venue festivals, seeing all the bands you want to see is practically impossible without some sort of teleportation machine.

And since we don't want you to end up like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, here are our top five picks (that definitely don't clash)...

Conquering Animal Sound
Edinburgh (City Café), Friday, 4.10pm
Play: Your Friends, Conquering Animal Sound

What we said: "Recalling the minimalistic dalliances of Scandinavian progressives Múm, CAS are quite unlike anything you’ll hear in Scotland today."

Edinburgh (The Bowery), Friday, 10pm
Play: William Henry Miller Pt1

What we said: "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."

Glasgow (Sloan's), Saturday, 8.40pm
Play: Laps(e)

What we said: "For a bedroom recording the Yahweh album is an alt-folk revelation, combining the wry lyricism of Arab Strap with subtle bursts of electronica and sampling."

French Wives
Glasgow (The Admiral), Sunday, 7.15pm
Play: Halloween

What we said: "Overflowing with melody, their songs flutter the heart strings with grace and vigour; swooshing from dainty canticle to pulsing anthem without the bat of an indie-rock eyelid."

Trapped in Kansas
Glasgow (The Admiral), Sunday, 11.45pm
Play: Carpathia

What we said: "The guitar lines bleed off in countless directions like dabs of watercolour paint, while the rhythm slinks through unfathomable shifts and progressions."

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Thursday, 22 October 2009

On the radar: Jesus H Foxx

Jesus H Foxx

Play: I'm Not Half the Man You Were

Play: Trying To Be Good

Following on from the recent theme of great bands with baffling names, Jesus H Foxx are certainly a band who merit attention.

Having recently signed to Song, by Toad records in Edinburgh, the post punk outfit can claim with confidence, in the face of a global downturn, that their stock is very much on the rise.

Playing as part of The Bowery’s Oxjam contribution this Friday (23rd), the Foxx will be joined by UtR tipped Occasional Flickers, local indie survivors Y’All is Fantasy Island and the prodigiously talented and completely unavoidable Meursault in what promises to be one of the highlights of the festival.

As well as a mouth-watering line-up, the venue itself is a huge part of the appeal for bands. “We're really passionate about that place," says Foxx frontman Michael Hunter. "I think it's far and away the best venue in the city. It has a really singular and perfectly realised aesthetic, it's truly independent, and it's just a wonderful place to hang out. We've played a lot there this year, and it's really had an impact on our sound. We've learned the value of space and reverb, of playing with the acoustics of the venue.”

The last Oxjam fundraiser the band played was a March gig at The Bowery, in conjunction with Ten Tracks. Hunter describes this gig as pivotal to the band’s current success, as it was the first show played in their current seven-piece format and is largely credited as the gig which brought them to the attention of Song, by Toad’s Matthew Young, who had already snapped up Meursault.

“Working with Matthew has been a mixture of fun, opportunity and gin headaches, all of which have been of great help to us. He's managing to get our stuff out to a much wider audience, which we are very thankful for”, adds Hunter.

What though of the name Jesus H Foxx? Hunter explains all: “’Jesus f**king fox’ is a little known expression for surprise or incomprehension I think I heard in Boston. The ‘H’ comes from the Blues Brothers film. The second X in “Foxx” was a typo. An aesthetically pleasing typo”.

So there. Glad we solved that one for you. Be baffled no longer.

Words: Stevie Kearney

Jesus H Foxx’s EP is now available from Song, by Toad.

They also play the Electric Circus in Edinburgh with Good Shoes and Copy Haho on the 26th of November, then they support We Were Promised Jetpacks at King Tut’s in Glasgow on the 29th of November.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Oxjam in Glasgow: 102 bands in two nights

[Yahweh. Photograph by Andrea Heins]

The sheer scale of Glasgow’s Oxjam Takeover is a daunting proposition. With over 100 bands playing a slew of venues across city in just 48 hours, the co-ordination required to maximise this two-day aural extravaganza will rival that of an Olympic standard synchronised swimming troupe.

Of course, in these capitalist climes where value for money is the whole enchilada, Oxjam’s west coast roster of tune-chugging rapscallions is the musical equivalent of a five fingered discount at Harrods - thrilling fun, with the added knowledge that you’re benefiting a greater good by not lining the pockets of an intolerably rich buffoon.

Mhairi Love, Glasgow volunteer Oxjam Regional Manager, says of the two day shindig: “In Glasgow we are spoiled for choice when it comes to music. It’s fantastic to be able to use the talent of local musicians to help raise so much money to fight poverty, and put on a great show at the same time. I’m really excited about our multi venue event. We have a great line up ranging from local talent to living legends.”

She’s not wrong. The parts that make up Glasgow Oxjam’s whole gleam with musical brilliance. A number of UtR favourites decorate this glittering roll call, including The Seventeenth Century, Barn Owl and the always exceptional Yaweh.

But really, Oxjam is not about the bands, the venues or, indeed, the price. No folks, [Ruffles up hair and puts on best Bob Geldof-at-his-most-stoic tone] this is about music and people uniting to make a difference in a world that can be achingly unjust. And, for this reason alone, you need to be there.

Words: Billy Hamilton

Oxjam Glasgow takes place this Saturday (24th) and Sunday (25th). Tickets are £8 and are available here.

The current line-up (subject to change) is as follows:

Venues 1-8

1. 13th Note (Acoustic Riot Stage) 3pm-11.30pm
Dave Hughes and the Renegade Folk Punk Band
Roscoe Vacant
El Bastardos
Judith Harron
Jimmy Richards
Billy Liar
Roberto Cassani
The Moth and the Mirror
Shambles Miller

2. Metropolitan 3pm-6pm
Martin John Henry (De Rosa)
Mike Nisbet
Jamie Keenan
Ben Chaddock

3.ABC - Polar Bar 3pm-6pm
Brother Louis Collective
John B McKenna
Full House
Mike and Solveig

4.Panoptican 6pm-8.30pm
Johnny Jack
Paul McGranaghan
Pure Brass
Compere TBC

5.Blackfriars 6pm-10pm
The Xcerts
Cuba Cuba
The LaFontaines
Atlas Skye
The Marder
Young States

6.The V Club 6pm-12.00am
My Cousin I Bid You Farewell
Young States
Maple Leaves
Odeon Beat Club
Hidden Masters

7.The Vale 7pm-11.30pm
Vendor Defender
Ben TD
Gong Fei
The Reveres

8. Sloans (The Skinny Stage) 7pm-12am
Strike the Colours
Zoey Van Goey
The Low Miffs
Le Reno Amps
The Seventeenth Century

Venues 9-15

9.Brunswick Hotel Penthouse Suite
Emma Curran
Andrea Marini
Kristina Cox
Jamie Marshall
David Bova
Mark McCabe

10.Pivo Pivo 2pm-11.30
Tango in the Attic
The Deals
The Dull Fudds
Big Ned
Bwani Junction
Wilson Tan
Eddy and the T Bolts
The Black Delorean
The 123s
Three Blind Wolves
The Deneros
The Cellophanes

11.The Admiral 6pm-3am
Trapped in Kansas
The Social Services
Haight Ashbury
The Apologists
Alex Wayt
The French Wives

12. Capitol 6pm-12am
Ming Ming and the Ching Chings
Call Me Ishmael
Barn Owl
Maple Leaves
Casino Brag
Man at the Window

13. McChuills 5.00pm-10.30pm
Nine Circles
My Actions Your Exit
Little Eskimos
Bad Day?
Albino Monk
Fanzine Hero
The Dirt

14.Mono 6pm-12am
Attic Lights
El Dog
United Fruit
The Mode
The Meatmen
Man at the Window

15.Basuro Blanco(Brunswick Hotel basement) till 2am
Jan Cree
Gareth Whitehead
My Evil Twin
Chris Coulston

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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

On the radar: Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers

Olympic Swimmers

Play: Heart Attack

Play: Hang the Noose

What makes a good band name? Well, according to Ali Downer of the splendidly-named central Scotland country-rock collective Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, it’s the opportunity to annoy the naysayers.

“I had made a recording called Woodenbox and played some wee affairs under that alias,” he explains. “When the rest of the guys came on board we wrote some new songs and changed some of the older ones.

“We came up with a bit of a country thing and decided to call ourselves Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers – it was a bit of a laugh really but it’s stuck because a few people didn’t like it and that made it somehow more appealing for us.”

Downer and his bandmates Nick Dudman (drums/ukelele), Fraser McKirdy (bass/organ), Phil Cardwell (trumpet), Jordan Croan (electric guitar) and Sam Evans (sax) have gone from strength to strength and have built up a reputation for their raucous live shows since getting together at the beginning of 2008. This month sees the band take in some venues in Northern England – but they’re still managing to fit in a show as part of Oxjam’s Edinburgh Takeover.

“Oxfam is the undisputed king of charity music outlets and we are happy to be associated with the good name,” says Downer. “We played at Gimme Shelter last year too, and really loved the vibe.

“I hope there is a bit of cash available for the charity, and we will be doing our bit by having free CDs for people who come to the show.”

The band’s two-piece brass section is among the many things that set them apart from many bands in the local scene. “Ultimately we want to create something different,” Downer explains.

“It’s great writing songs and pulling them together as a band then trying different ways of playing and recording them.

“We try to play a raucous live show to make our music different from how it is recorded too – we wanna have a different vibe.”

The band count themselves as big fans of experimental folk and blues acts such as Captain Beefheart and Dr Dog; and closer to home The Phantom Band. “They’re an inspiring, phenomenal force,” says Downer .

“I love music that uses harmony and interesting uses of instrumentation,” he adds.

“I became obsessed with the Serge Leone films a few years ago and the soundtracks by Ennio Morricone were so inspiring. I went out and bought the soundtracks on record and through of making a wee side project of music like that – the tracks I came up with ended up just becoming hybrids that we play in the band.”

Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers have recently finished recording their debut album, which will be released at the beginning of 2010. “It’s a good year to release an album, and we’re really excited to get it out there,” says Downer.

Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla

See the band play their Oxjam gig at Sneaky Pete's on Friday (23rd) at 9.15pm.

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Monday, 19 October 2009

Auld Reekie set for Oxjam Takeover

OxjamAll this week we'll be previewing the Oxjam festivities. First up, Billy Hamilton looks at the Edinburgh billing...

Edinburgh’s music scene has mushroomed so quickly over the past twelve months that this week’s Oxjam jamboree could moonlight as a who’s who of Auld Reekie’s musical glitterati.

With over 20 bands playing five venues throughout the city, the Oxfam-affiliated Oxjam Takeover offers punters the chance to familiarise themselves with the grassroots of Edinburgh’s expansive musical lawn, while chipping in to help the world’s poorest communities fight mother nature’s ire at the effects of badly planned mass-industrialisation, better known as climate change.

Ali Millar, Edinburgh Oxjam’s Regional Manager, says: “Oxjam Edinburgh 09 forms just one part of a movement taking place throughout the country. Here in Edinburgh we are lucky to have such a great musical community who are keen to come forward and help Oxfam to fight poverty. It’s a great way to raise money, have a good time and promote the talent that there is in the city at the moment.”

A smattering of worthy bands such as the omnipotent Meursault, Frightened Rabbit, Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Deadboy Robotics and Conquering Animal Sound have signed up to help promote the Oxjam cause.

Gigs are strewn across Cabaret Voltaire, Sneaky Pete’s, The Bowery, The Wee Red Bar and The City Cafe, and with a sling of scene-friendly local faces turning their hands to the wheels of steel the fun a frivolity is set to last all night.

Jamie Scott, one half of Conquering Animal Sound, explains his reason for getting involved.“Oxfam, to me, is one of the most fundamentally important charities we have... In addition to campaigning against the arms trade or social inequality, Oxfam and charities like it can be found in places where governments and politicians have failed their people, providing and caring for those who need it most. As a student in a prosperous western nation, I am very aware of how much better off I am than the vast majority of people on the planet, and it shames me to admit that I do very little to address this."

He continues: "In playing Oxjam, hopefuly I am in someway addressing my lack of charitable work and donations, and helping others to do so as well. It is all too easy to avoid charity workers in the street with sign up sheets or collection buckets, but when Oxjam comes right to our doors, into our social spaces, into our music, where these issues should rightly be, the least we can do is be part of it in some way."

Words: Billy Hamilton

Oxjam Edinburgh takes place on Friday 23 October 2009. Tickets are £7 and can be bought here.

The current line-up (which is subject to change) is as follows:

City Café
Conquering Animal Sound 4.10-4.55
Paper Beats Rock 6.30 - 7.15
The Last Battle 5.20 - 6.05
Pose Victorious 7.40 - 8.25
Le Reno Amps 8.50 - 9.45
Come on Gang 10 - 10.45

Sneaky Pete's
Chutes 7 - 7.40
The Little Kicks 8.05 - 8.50
Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers 9.15 - 10

Wee Red Bar
Snide Rhythms 7 - 7.40
The Shellsuit Massacre 8.05 - 8.50
My Electric Love Affair 9.15 - 10

The Bowery
The Occasional Flickers 6.30 - 7.15
Y'all is Fantasy Island 8.25 - 8.50
Jesus H Foxx 9.35 - 10
Meursault 10 - 10.45

Cabaret Voltaire
Dead Boy Robotics 5.45 - 6.30
Boycotts 6.55 - 7.40
Three Blind Wolves 8.05 - 8.50
Frightened Rabbit (Scott solo) 9.15 - 10

And if you can't wait till Friday there is an Oxjam preview gig at Sneaky Pete's tonight (Monday) with Super Adventure Club, Shields Up and Cuddly Shark.

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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Radar recommends: 18 - 24 Oct

My Latest Novel
[My Latest Novel: playing Edinburgh on Saturday]

Oxjam hovers over the end of this week's live music calendar like the alien mothership in Independence Day. We'll be closely encountering the multi-legged charity festival during the rest of the week, but before that here are a few gigs where you can splash the cash without any worthy intentions...

Edwyn Collins, The 1990s
Sunday @ The Lemon Tree / 7.30pm / £15
One of the few Scottish pop stars of the 1980s with his credibility intact, former Orange Juice man Collins is joined by jingly-jangly popsters The 1990s. Touring the Highlands and Islands during the rest of the week, and playing

Everything Everything, Findo Gask, North Atlantic Oscillation, Kocha
Wednesday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £5
Mancunian band on tour, with eye-catching support in the shape of UtR faves Findo Gask, North Atlantic Oscillation and Kochka. Also playing Cab Vol, Edinburgh on Tuesday.

James Yorkston & The Big Eyes Family Players
Monday @ The Bongo Club / 7.30pm / £12.50
The Fence stalwart's tour rolls into the capital.

Bat for Lashes, Yeasayer
Tuesday @ HMV Picture House / 7pm / £17
New age pop pixie Natasha Khan tours her Two Suns album, with support from Brooklyn's finest sonic explorers, Yeasayer. Also playing ABC, Glasgow on Monday.

Thursday @ The Ark / 7pm / £8
Maps is Mercury nominated electro dude James Chapman. Quite a coup for The Ark.

**UtR's gig of the week**
My Latest Novel
Saturday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £9
Stunning indie rock from the west coast. If you're not knackered from Oxjam the previous night, this should be worth making the effort for.

Dirty Bingo vs Loud & Quiet Tour: Crocodiles, Divorce, Golden Grrrls, She’s Hit
Monday @ Stereo / 7pm / £tbc
Touted toothy San Diego duo swim over with their brand of electronic rock. If you get into them now you can say … I was into them before … blah blah blah. Couple of Scottish bands in support, including She’s Hit who we were into before ... blah blah blah.

Jon Allen, The Boy Who Trapped the Sun
Wednesday @ King Tuts / 9pm / £8
Bluesy acoustic fare from main act and London based Scots lovely Colin MacLeod.

Basshunter (really? - Ed)
Wednesday @ O2 Academy / 7pm / £21.50
If you want to know what it feels like to spend your money on the worst Eurodance cretin, here’s your opportunity.

Fleetwood Mac
Thursday @ SECC / 7pm / Sold out
4/5th - an almost reunion is good enough for me. Stevie Nicks and co present their beautiful back catalogue that includes songs you’ll remember from your childhood like Rhiannon, Little Lies and The Chain.

The Mill: Light Guides, Pacific Theatre
Thursday @ Oran Mor / 7pm / Free
Pepper your evening with new music at The Mill.

Johnny Flynn
Thursday @ Nice’n’Sleazy / 7.30pm / £9
A wee solo-burst from the male Laura Marling before he jaunts off to support Noah and the Whale.

ATP film screening, feat. Les Savy Fav
Saturday @ O2 ABC / 7pm doors – film starts 8.15pm sharp / £10
ATP and Warp Films showcase their Butlins-style festival film with music from the brilliant art rockers.

Words: Aimi Gold, Nick Mitchell

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

For all your Oxjam information check back tomorrow and the rest of this week...

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Friday, 16 October 2009

... and back to the music

As we mull over the reaction to yesterday's Editorial, I thought it might be wise to turn the focus back to the music. Us bloggers have a vampiric allergy to the spotlight, y'see.

So how about some Friday freebies?

MCIBYFJonathan from My Cousin I Bid You Farewell (right), who we interviewed back in April, got in touch yesterday to tell us about his new pet project:

"I am recording live acoustic covers at home and giving them away for free. I don't know how many I will record or when I will stop but I am going to be recording them as often as possible for the foreseeable future, basically until I run out of songs I enjoy singing. I only have one mic so it is very lof-i and lots of fun."

It's called, aptly, Songs I love but I didn't write, and you can download the first two covers here. MCIBYF are playing live at Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh tonight.

The Scottish EnlightenmentWe also heard from David of Dunfermline/Aberdeen group The Scottish Enlightenment (right). They are offering three tracks from their upcoming album St Thomas (no release date yet) for free download. Get your grubby mits on them here.

If you like that, they're playing a gig with the brilliant Mitchell Museum at Edinburgh's Electric Circus on Tuesday.

As for tonight, in Edinburgh there are recommended gigs at the Wee Red Bar (Black International), Sneaky Pete's (see above), The Bowery (Panda Su), while in Glasgow Colin McIntyre is doing his solo thing at Stereo with Washington Irving.

Tomorrow, Edinburghers should head to Sneaky Pete's for Vessels and The Kays Lavelle, while Weegies are advised to check out Findo Gask's second 'Crufts' night, with guests Copy Haho and Isosceles at Nice'n'Sleazy's.

More events are on our gig guide.

Before we sign off for the weekend, let us know what music is on your stereo/MP3 player/gramophone this fine autumn day...

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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Editorial: How many new bands is too many?

Anonymous band

Disclaimer: This article is an unashamed act of navel-gazing.

When we started blogging here on UtR, we didn't really think we'd be a likely target for criticism.

We don't publish reviews, so there's no chance of the increasingly common online backlash to a hatchet job, and we don't fawn over established acts, so no-one can accuse us of any commercial bias.

No, we entered into this with our consciences clear and an unassuming goal: to offer a platform for the best new music in Scotland. Gee shucks.

How naïve we were. In the blogosphere no-one is exempt from potshots, and so, when we came across a post on one of Scotland's most established music blogs, The Pop Cop, which derided our choice of acts, it sparked our curiosity.

We were keen to find out why Mr Pop Cop had become "disillusioned" with UtR, so we asked him to expand on his comments with a guest blog post. Here we offer up his argument in full, followed by our response.

The Pop CopThe Pop Cop writes...

This month is a significant one for The Pop Cop as it marks the first birthday of the Music Alliance Pact. MAP is an international group of bloggers who each month simultaneously post a list of freely downloadable tracks by their countries' best new acts, with one suggestion from each MAP member.

My job is to pick a Scottish song worthy of sharing with a global, music-hungry audience once a month, and it struck me that one cracking new act a month from Scotland is as much as I could ever hope to find these days.

To put it bluntly, there is a very limited amount of spread-the-word music being made in this country at the moment by up-and-coming artists, despite the fact I check out every single band recommendation, MySpace link and email tip-off that comes my way.

That is why I was shocked when I heard that Under the Radar are on course to have featured 100 bands on their 'on the radar' pieces in its first year of existence.

As thorough as UtR is in promoting the underground music scene in Scotland, I find myself becoming increasingly disillusioned by what they deem blogworthy talent. It doesn't matter how they spin it, the frequency of UtR's artist profiles - usually two or three per week - is done so at the expense of quality control, not with their writing (which is top-notch) but with the new acts they choose to feature. The overwhelming majority fall in the 'average to alright' category.

It's the equivalent of going to the casino and putting your chips on all 37 slots on the roulette wheel - you're guaranteed to land on the winner but you'll also back an awful lot of losers. If you think that’s harsh, ask yourself this question - of all the streaming songs featured on UtR, how many do you listen to more than once?

While it's undeniably heartening that Scotland's underground music scene is given such significant coverage, UtR do their readers a disservice by taking such a rose-tinted view of it.

Of course, UtR isn't coming out and declaring that every single band they write about is the best thing ever, but by making their 'on the radar' pieces so frequent, they have little choice but to give average Scottish acts a platform they haven't earned.

You're probably wondering why I care so much, especially as I have my own music blog to write about whoever I think does deserve the attention. Well, I also regard myself as a reader of UtR, and as a reader, I find it disheartening to constantly sift through mediocre songs on a website whose motto is "showcasing the best unsigned bands".

UtR reckon there are 100 up-and-coming artists worth hearing each year in Scotland. I think there are 12.

I long for the day when I can go the UtR site and just know that this new act I'm reading about for the first time must be amazing - simply because they have made it onto 'on the radar'. Now, wouldn't that be something special?

Under the RadarUtR replies...

The Pop Cop makes several points, but the thrust of his argument is that Scotland's music scene isn't productive enough to warrant anything more than one band worth writing about per month.

We respectfully disagree. In seven months we have published more than 60 profiles, and have rejected far more enquiries after a swift listen. So far we have yet to feel stretched, or under any pressure to feature a band just to plug a gap in our schedule. Nor did we set out with any bands-per-month target (a whole new meaning for BPM). The frequency of acts on UtR grew out of a natural reflection of what we were listening to and being exposed to on a weekly basis. Simple as that.

And we're not alone in our "rose-tinted" view of music in Scotland right now. It's surely no coincidence that The List's Exposure feature has picked up the pace this year, or that Glasgow Podcart introduces many more bands than we do on its weekly podcast, or that The Skinny is stepping up its emphasis on homegrown talent, on top of sites like Song, by Toad, Ten Tracks, Off the Beaten Tracks and The Kiosque. Granted, not all of the above focus solely on Scotland, but they're all based here and set aside more than a fair share for our native music-makers.

But what really struck us was the accusation that we have done all this "at the expense of quality control". We don't begrudge an honest opinion - and we hope this editorial proves that we encourage them - but there are two problems with making this assumption:

1. It's subjective. As is musical taste. Does a music website or magazine exist where you enjoy every recommended band? We have six regular writers with their own preferences, covering anything from electronica to indie-pop to post-rock. We assume each of our readers also has their own preferences. We guarantee that you won't like everything on the blog. There, we said it, and we're perversely proud of that fact.

2. The alternative, to follow The Pop Cop's logic, would be to enforce UN-style bureaucracy over our editorial policy. We'd have to organise meetings where we all sit around and debate whether a band is good enough for the blog. Weirdly, that sounds like fun, but in reality everything would be vetoed, and you, dear reader, would never get to make your own mind up because we'd never publish anything.

No, we operate a benign dictatorship here at UtR. The writers pitch something, we take a listen, and if it's genuinely original or just damn good, it enters the queue for publication.

The final problem we have with the complaint (and yes, this is beginning to sound like legalese) is the roulette analogy. You play the roulette to win, and The Pop Cop implies that we stand to gain if an act we have featured makes a breakthrough.

Nonsense. We're not doing this for self-congratulation. And we've been in the music hack game long enough to know that rewards, whatever form they take, are reserved for a select few. Sure, it would be a nice validation of our efforts if a band did achieve success on the back of an UtR profile, but that is certainly not the fundamental purpose.

Despite our little disagreement, we're still grateful for The Pop Cop's feedback, and perhaps there are issues we do need to address or things we should be doing differently. As ever, we keep an open mind, so on that note, we invite your comments...

Does Scotland produce more than 12 blogworthy bands a year?
Have we sacrificed our quality control?
Which UtR-featured acts made you sit up and take notice?

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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

On the radar: Conquering Animal Sound

Conquering Animal Sound
[Picture by Lauren Hunter]

The modern age of electronic riposte is hard on us sensitive scribes. Instead of being met with a flush of thank yous and courtesy ales, a 500 word feature on a non-established local band now tends to be battered and bruised by misinformed, grammatically lacking diatribes lambasting writers for daring to use words exceeding two syllables.

It’s these callous, avatar-fronted dressing downs that leave many wondering what the point is; perhaps our hard-thought wordsmithery could be put to better use in a world that trades in cold currency rather than blunt putdowns? But then, as if from nowhere, a band like Conquering Animal Sound (CAS) comes along.

The Edinburgh-based duo of Jamie Scott and Anneke Kampman yield a sound that has us music hacks dusting off our superlative shorts and slipping on a pair of verbosely-lined plimsolls for some much needed linguistic acrobatics. Playful, memorable and absolutely endearing, their effects-speckled lullabies are what taste-making rags sodden their tighty-whities over.

Although formed during a university music class a year ago, this stirring sonic delicacy was borne more from gawky social commonality than musical acumen: “I recall seeing this really tall guy at uni one day, looking awkward whilst being forced to play some horrendous song for an exam,” explains Kampman of CAS’s formulation. “I felt constantly embarrassed in my first year at university and, thus, felt an affinity there.”

The bond is obvious. Kampman’s gorgeous intone floats telepathically into the tapestry of guitar and loops created by Scott. Recalling the minimalistic dalliances of Scandinavian progressives Múm, CAS are quite unlike anything you’ll hear in Scotland today. Which, it turns out, is entirely the point:

“My own aesthetics and tastes dictate that I try to create stuff that I haven't heard before,” says Scott. “I know that’s a pretty bold statement to make, as the subtext would suggest that I think we are unique, and obviously we aren't. But as long as I feel like I'm making a concerted effort to create something original and un-generic, then I'm happy.”

Kampman agrees: “I would say that we are interested in similar things musically. The idea of creating landscapes is a prevalent feature which drives our music forward. Some of my favorite music is very simple and I admire the ability that some artists have to create a visual scene, and a myth that surrounds their music. I love techno, the way it encapsulates the nature of industry so honestly.”

The idea of techno foraging a pathway for CAS to stroll seems preposterous, particularly given their knack for pin-dropping harmonies. Yet their slow-scaling arrangements are built on the sort of repetition that, if the rpm was upped a notch or three, could captivate any disco-biscuit chomping dancefloor.

“Personally, I'd describe our music as electronic, but not in the conventional sense of electronic music,” reasons Scott. “Because our instruments are mostly rudimentary - aside from a beautiful big harp - and because we don't have any nice synths or drum machines, our music sounds at once rough and lush. We can throw a lot of different paint at the canvas without worrying about breaking convention as we have no concept of what the Animal Sound actually is. Our material seems to be evolving all the time, and that excites me.”

With Kampman taking the lead in Haftor Medbøe Group and Scott fronting The Japanese War Effort, CAS’s segue into the Scottish music scene has been as slow-creeping as their music. So what’s in the CAS store-cupboard for the future?

“To go on tour and to make a few nice releases on nice little labels,” heartens Kampman. Scott, however, is slightly more pragmatic: “A smooth soundcheck. We've yet to have one.”

Words: Billy Hamilton

The Conquering Animal Sound debut mixtape (streamed here) is available to download for free from the MySpace now, or is on cassette, available at shows.

Play: Your Friends, Conquering Animal Sound

You can see the band play at the following shows:
23 Oct @ City Cafe, Edinburgh
20 Nov @ The Bowery, Edinburgh

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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Radar recommends: 11 - 17 Oct

[Girls are coming to Scotland this week]

It has been an undertaking of epic proportions, literally days in preparation. A feat of human skill and musical taste, a testament to the art of cutting, pasting and formatting. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the guide to this week's live music...

Unkle Bob, Panda Su, Stanley
Sunday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £6
Local promoter Vocoustics puts together another rather good line-up with Glasgow-based Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack stars Unkle Bob headlining. Support from the brilliant Panda Su and quirky showstoppers Stanley.

Doll & The Kicks, Atlas Skye, Farewell Singapore
Wednesday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £5
Morrissey likes Doll & The Kicks so much that he asked them to support him on his next tour. But don’t go along to the Tunnels expecting them to sound like the Smiths. Expect loudness, attitude, sexiness and a lot of talent. The sort of gig that the Tunnels was made for.

James Yorkston & The Big Eyes Family Players, Mary Hampton, David A Jaycock
Thursday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £12
Fence Collective stalwart, creator of one of 2008’s best albums and the headliner of this rather amazing gig being put on by Interesting Music Promotions, a group of lovely people dedicated to putting on really good nights. Also playing The Arches, Glasgow on Friday.

Findo Gask, State of Affairs
Friday @ The Corn Exchange / 8pm / £7
We called them a band on the brink six months ago, and since then they’ve pretty much been all over that brink and have had a heap more praise thrown on to them. Findo Gask play Cupar’s Corn Exchange as part of the Cupar Arts Festival.

Dolls & The Kicks, Come On Gang
Monday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £6
Forever-tipped Edinburgh popsters Come On Gang play second fiddle to another ten-a-penny indie schlock ensemble from south of the border. It's just nae right... [Our writers are allowed to disagree sometimes - Ed]

The Japanese War Effort
Monday @ Traverse Bar / 7pm / Free
An intriguing setting in which one of Edinburgh's most ambitious and captivating performers will ply his trade.

Haight Ashbury, Delta Machine
Tuesday @ Electric Circus / 10pm / £4
Ethereal indie fare from a band that's titillated the ear-canals of many a mainstream hack.

**UtR's gig of the week**
Girls, Swanton Bombs, St Jude's Infirmary
Wednesday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £6
According to the blogosphere, Girls are the stateside Glasvegas. There's nothing like kicking a band before they've even begun, eh? Info on Glasgow gig below.

Scrap Brain, Red Light District, Green Man Running
Wednesday @ Bannermans / 8pm / £4
Twitchy clattering from brilliant post-punk femme Scrap Brain.

The Mill: Meursault, The Red Well
Thursday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7.30pm / Free
Another day, another show from the hardest working (and probably best) band in Edinburgh, Meursault.

Colin MacIntyre
Thursday @ Voodoo Rooms / 7.30pm / £10
Mull Historical Society foreman fashions out his usual rush of infectious, slightly off-kilter ditties.

Black International, Rollor, Young Spooks
Friday @ Wee Red Bar / 7pm / Free
Expect a raucous, black hearted clatter from the exhilarating Black International. Support comes from the equally ear-bleeding Rollor and Young Spooks.

Stricken City, North Atlantic Oscillation, My Cousin I Bid You Farewell
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £5
Despite Stricken City's vaccuous endeavours, the inclusion of two UtR favourites makes this a show not to be missed.

Panda Su, The Last Battle
Friday @ The Bowery / 7.30pm / £5
We like pandas and one of us is married to a girl named Su. Hence, this will likely be a very good gig.

Some Brave Apollo, The Gothenburg Address
Saturday @ The Wee Red Bar / 7pm / £3
With a debut album on the way, expect The Gothenburg Address to be firing up their throttle, ready to take on the world.

Vessels, The Kays Lavelle
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £5
Vessels freestyling throb will be expertly scaffolded by the autumnal reveries of The Kays Lavelle.

Teitur, Brother Louis Collective, The Little Kicks
Monday @ Brel / 7.15pm / £8
Intriguing and just lovely singer-songwriter Teitur Lassen shows off new album All My Mistakes. Show up in time for UtR-tipped acts Brother Louis Collective and Aberdonian four-piece The Little Kicks.

Richard Hawley, Smoke Fairies
Monday @ The Old Fruitmarket / 8pm / £19.50
Former Pulp and Longpigs man sings odes to Sheffield in his crooner style.

The Slits, Pens, Peter Parker
Tuesday @ Stereo / 7.30pm / £11
Original punks The Slits haven't tarnished their legend in the style of Johnny "butter adverts" Rotten. They host a female-fronted night with new London pop types Pens and Glasgow's own spiderman obsessives Peter Parker.

Girls, Swanton Bombs, Lad Lazarus, Barn Owl
Tuesday @ Captain's Rest / 8pm / £5
Same deal as Edinburgh, except this time support comes from locals Lad Lazarus and UtR-tipped Barn Owl.

The Big Pink, Amazing Baby
Wednesday @ King Tuts / 8.30pm / £8
Latest vogue-ish hipsters The Big Pink (you know the one that goes 'Domino-oes, domino-oes, domino-oes') try to live up to the hype at Tuts.

Glasgow Podcart Live Session: Julia & The Doogans, Louise McVey & Cracks in the Concrete
Thursday @ The 13th Note / 9pm / £tbc
You'll have read all about Julia & The Doogans on UtR last week, no? Now's your chance to see what the fuss is all about, plus more beautiful female vocals from Louise McVey.

Super Furry Animals, The Phantom Band
Thursday @ ABC / 7pm / £20
The Welsh wonders are back with Dark Days/Light Years and suitable support from The Phantom Band. It'll be colourful.

Cats on Ladders, Jack James
Thursday @ The Drawing Room / 8pm / Free
Cats on Ladders (sounds like a health and safety risk to me) are having a busy week - you can also hear their boy-girl, fancy drumming, acoustic stuff at Bloc and Tchai Ovna - but try them on for free tonight and see songwriter Jack James into the bargain.

Colin MacIntyre, Washington Irving, Alan McKim
Friday @ Stereo / 7.30pm / £9
The Mull Historical Society man has decided it's better just to use his own name. And why not? It's a perfectly pleasant name. Folky pop collective Washington Irving are also worth showing early for.

Brendan Benson
Saturday @ Oran Mor / 7pm / £10.50
Jack White's Raconteur pal returns to his solo roots for new album My Old, Familiar Friend.

Crufts 2: Findo Gask, Copy Haho, Isoceles
Saturday @ Nice'n'Sleazy / 7.30pm / £4
Those Findo Gask dudes prove they have super taste again by inviting Copy Haho and Isoceles to their second Crufts monthly residency at Sleazy's.

I Like Trains, The Kabeedies, Swimming, Holy Mountain
Saturday @ King Tuts / 8.30pm / £7
If you like your rock epic and extravagant these Leeds boys are just the ticket.

Words: Billy Hamilton, Elaine Liddle, Andrew Learmonth

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


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Friday, 9 October 2009

On the radar: Olympic Swimmers

Olympic Swimmers

Play: Father Said

Play: I Won't Sleep

Changing your name in the pursuit of fame is fairly common.

There was a really rubbish advert recently (I think it was for Norwich Union) where they had celebrities appear to talk about how they would never have made it big had they not made up a new moniker.

Anyway, Olympic Swimmers, formally Hindle Wakes, rebranded for less grandiose reasons.

“We started this band under the name Hindle Wakes,” explains guitarist Simon Liddell.

“Most other bands seem to find it remarkably easy to settle on a name, but it became a bit of a burden to spell out Hindle Wakes so we picked Olympic Swimmers this summer.”

The band formed in 2008 and in true Glasgow member-swapping style, a number of them play with other staples of the music scene.

“Some of us moonlight in other bands,” says Liddell. “Be it as full-time members in Take A Worm For A Walk Week, Piano Bar Fight and Black Rat Death Squad, or as part-timers, fillers-in, hired-hands, hangers-on etc.”

With strong connections to The Delgados - two of the band play with Emma Pollock and they recently recorded with Paul Savage at Chem 19 - comparisons would be easy to make.

That said, they do have an audible connection to the Glasgow indie heroes with lead singer Suzie Liddle’s vocal tone and rhythm striking a real likeness, and recent recording 'I Won’t Sleep' showing they’ve got pools full of the melancholy lyrical attractiveness that made The Delgados so enjoyable.

The Savage recordings are to be used in a double A-side single which is due for release through Glasgow indie label Predestination Records on 19th October in advance of a run of dates supporting Idlewild and a home gig at the Captain’s Rest on October 31st.

According to Norwich Union (or is that Aviva?) changing your name gives you direct access to success, so I would suggest catching them then before they get too big to play Scotland.

Either that or invest in some life insurance. Damn adverts.

Words: Aimi Gold

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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Under the Radar podcast #4.5

Podcast #4.5A couple of months back we pondered the question of whether an unsigned band can achieve a reasonable degree of success without the backing of industry 'pros'.

At the time it seemed to hit a nerve with our readers, prompting you to wade in with some very well-informed, illuminating comments (for the interweb at least).

Unfortunately we never got round to pursuing the issue in the podcasts which have followed, so to make amends, we asked UtR contributor Stevie Kearney to go out and investigate the DIY issue in a bit more depth. (No, he didn't go undercover at Homebase, before someone tries that one.)

Stevie spoke to Peter Kelly, who has tasted a few crumbs of success from the top table in his guise as Rolling Stone-touted Beerjacket, although the Glasgow singer-songwriter has some scathing words for the record industry big-wigs.

Stevie also chatted to someone who knows a thing or two about the kind of well-intentioned, small-scale operations we discussed in the editorial. Tallah Brash is the newest addition to the ever-expanding Edinburgh band Jesus H. Foxx, who have been championed by the tireless blog/label Song, by Toad.

Because it doesn't run to the normal 40-odd rambling minutes and is instead an opinion-packed package, we've stopped short of branding it podcast #5. Instead we opted for the ingenious title of ... podcast #4.5.

(Dis)agree with the points made? Join the debate below...

Play: Podcast #4.5

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

Podcast: Stevie Kearney

Listen to Stevie's own podcast at Dylan and the Mule

Previous UtR podcasts

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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Check the label: Bedevil

BedevilBedevil founder John Wills has a challenge for bands thinking of approaching his label: bring something new.

"I worked in a record shop in London in the early '80s. Nearly every week, there would be a new band that was totally unlike anything that had gone before," Wills says.

"Think about it - Joy Division, The Fall, The Slits - even in the charts you had the New Romantic stuff. Like it or hate it, it was 100% original. To be innovative was really important to musicians. I really want to encourage that way of thinking again."

With the brand new label, he wants to provide "a resource for bands whose first priority is to be interesting and individual with a community, rather than competitive spirit."

As drummer in Loop from 1987, Wills himself was in a group which sounded like nothing else - and for the last decade he has been working with Pinkie Maclure in the similarly adventurous and critically lauded Pumajaw.

An amicable split with Fire, which put out the band's Favourites retrospective earlier this year, opened the door to set up Bedevil.

"It's been something I have been thinking about for a long time" Wills says. "The whole digital release thing has put the power back in the hands of the musicians and I think large record companies will soon be relevant to just the middle of the road. There are exceptions, but really all the big players want hits and that's it."

But with digital downloads, and plenty of advice for fledgling musicians available online, Wills says the positive is that it's "never been easier" for bands to release their own tracks:

"My advice is to ask questions. Nobody will expect you to know everything. When Rough Trade first started to release singles, the bands would write down all the information about the costs and who they used to make the record on the sleeve. This spurred other bands to release their own music as the whole thing was demystified.

"Helping and talking to other small labels is the answer to making your label a success," Wills adds.

PumajawPumajaw's single 'Featherdown Quilt' - which will be a download-only release on 2 November - was recorded and mixed at home by Wills. He promises "a departure from our last album for sure, but it is much more exciting for us. It's fun and energetic".

Future plans include a follow-up single in the new year, and a Pumajaw album in spring.

In the meantime, anyone interested in joining in the Bedevil revolution can email Wills on

Words: Elaine Liddle

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Monday, 5 October 2009

On the radar: Julia and the Doogans

Julia and the Doogans

Play: Hummingbird

Play: New York

Gritty Glasgow’s sectarian rivalry would seem like the unlikeliest of subject matter for a multi-instrumental folk project, but in a delicate, winsome song that is their home city’s namesake Julia and the Doogans have managed to achieve just that.

The local seven-piece – who count flute, cello and banjo among their instrumental roster – have been winning over fans across the city in the past few months with their quietly charming repertoire.

Julia Doogan is the honey-voiced songstress behind the project – who, despite the name’s familial illusions, aren’t all related. “The name’s been kicking about for a while – it was something a college lecturer came up with on the spur of the moment back when introducing another band I was a part of, and it’s just stuck as time has went on,” she explains.

“At first, the band came about because I wanted a band to back my music but as time has went on it has evolved into much more,” she adds. “The reason we all do it is because we enjoy music. We also bring out the best in each other creatively, and have a good time together as both musicians and friends.”

The band’s original line-up (Julia on vocals, guitar and banjo with Alan Daly on vocals and guitar, Renata Pilikinaité on cello, flautist Carolann Mullin and Tada Labudis on drums and percussion) have performed together for just under a year, with additions along the way in the form of Jennifer Hamilton on piano, and Ian Clyne on bass.

The band count “melody-driven” bands and artists such as Aberfeldy, Sufjan Stevens and Angus and Julia Stone among their influences, as well as “everyday life, and a lot of people-watching!”

Big fans of their peers in the local music scene, Julia says: “It’s a good place to be starting out like we are – everyone we meet is really supportive and the more you get into it the more it becomes a bit like an office Christmas party, where everybody knows or knows of each other and just has a good time.”

Of their “organic” sound, Julia says: “A few of us are more classically trained than others and we all have an appreciation for orchestral instruments and music.

“I don’t think we are massively unique but we aim for simplicity with every song.”

The band are “concentrating on playing shows and being creative” at the moment, with shows planned at the Captain’s Rest, King Tut’s and a live session for Glasgow PodcART on the agenda for October and November – but Julia promises “more writing and recording” ahead.

Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla

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Sunday, 4 October 2009

Radar recommends: 4 - 10 Oct

Over the Wall
[Over the Wall, playing The Skinny's Birthday Party. Image: David Forcier]

In true Scottish style, we seem to have left our damp squib of a summer behind, skipped over autumn and plunged headfirst into the tree-bending winds and Arctic chills of winter.

On the bright side, at least 'fashion scarves' can now serve a practical purpose, and we can all converge at the nearest gig venue to huddle together like penguins and maybe even watch a decent band...

Sky Larkin, Copy Haho, Marionettes
Monday @ Cafe Drummonds / 8pm / £6
Still promoting their album six months after its release, Leeds band Sky Larkin come to Aberdeen with support from the very tight Stonehaven boys Copy Haho and Killers-like Marionettes.

Cats & Cats & Cats, Greater The Shadow, Katerwaul, Free Korps
Monday @ The Tunnels / 7.30pm / £5
Ahead of the release of their new single Staines band Cats & Cats & Cats travel north with support from the brilliant Aberdeen band Katerwaul, as well as Greater the Shadow and Free Korps in this rather epic line up.

Three Blind Wolves, Washington Irving
Thursday @ Snafu / 10pm / £3/£2
A busy, busy week in Aberdeen with Bloc Party, Turin Brakes and Nerina Pallot but the cool kids will be going to the Dirty Hearts Club to see Ross Clark's newly renamed band play some top class alt-folk.

RBRBR, Call To Mind
Thursday @ The Doghouse / 8pm / £5
Edinburgh electro five-piece come to Dundee supported by the rather beautiful sounds of Call To Mind.

Dizzee Rascal
Sunday @ HMV Picture House / 7pm / £17.50
He's just a rascal, a sell-out rascal.

Indian Red Lopez
Tuesday @ The GRV / 7pm / Free
Aberdonian band with "great tunes, clever lyrics and top class musicianship." According to us.

Cats & Cats & Cats, There Will Be Fireworks, Free Korps
Tuesday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £6
Every old spinster's dream scenario are also London indie types, but we're more interested in one of 2009's finest new bands, There Will Be Fireworks.

Mudhoney, The Vaselines, St Deluxe
Friday @ HMV Picture House / 7pm / £17.50
Pretend it's 1992 all over again. And don't say you're too young to remember 1992.

This is Music: Jesus H. Foxx, Boycotts
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's / 8pm / £3
A night of clattering punk-funk and sharp garage rock as these Edinburgh and Glasgow bands go head to head.

Micachu & the Shapes, The Invisible
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £6.50
Quirky pop from these mega-hyped Londoners.

Ten Tracks
Saturday @ Electric Circus / 11pm - 3am / £6
Scotland's version of iTunes hosts its own gig night, featuring Popscure and The Vangelis.

The xx
Monday @ The Captain’s Rest / 8pm / Sold out
Gothy, moody, minimal-electro; were you cool enough to buy a ticket in advance? Me neither, wow – you think the hype is unfounded too. We’re so similar.

Sky Larkin, Copy Haho
Tuesday @ Classic Grand (2nd Floor) / 7pm / £7
Can’t think of anything good that comes from Leeds? (Don’t you dare say Chris Moyles.) Meet Sky Larkin, a bit Pretty Girls Make Graves, a lot awesome. With Copy Haho in support the night can only go well.

The Mill: United Fruit, Orko
Thursday @ Oran Mor / 7pm / Free but ticketed
We’re in a recession. This is free. You should go.

Kill it Kid, Sparrow and the Workshop
Thursday @ The Captain’s Rest / 7.30pm / £6
Kill your Thursday by kindly treating it to this combo of Arcade Fire likened headliner and Glasgow based folk-pop support. Also playing Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh on Wednesday.

J. Tillman
Friday @ Nice’n’Sleazy / 9pm / £TBC
Bluesy, soul solo show by one quarter of Fleet Foxes.

Fiery Furnaces, French Wives
Saturday @ Nice’n’Sleazys / 7.30pm / £8.50
Boy/Girl Indie Rock served up on American and Scottish platters.

**UtR's gig of the week**
The Skinny and Ten Tracks Twisted Kids Birthday Party
Saturday @ The Arches / 10pm-3am / £7
A proper celebration; P.A.R.T.Y through to the wee hours with Meursault, The Blessings, Over the Wall, RBRBR and a whole host of DJs.

Words: Aimi Gold, Nick Mitchell, Andrew Learmonth

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

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Friday, 2 October 2009

On the radar: Citizens

[Image: Takeshi Suga c/o The Skinny]

Play: Shit Whistler

Play: Don't Be Late

Play: Melted

In the pitfall-strewn realm of band nomenclature, Citizens is about as safe as it gets. It's on a par with Canada's Women, New York's Men and San Francisco's Girls in the non-descript stakes.

But then that's entirely the point.

"It's simple, unassuming, and gives people no preconceptions about us," explains singer/guitarist Craig McIntyre.

And it suits their music too. Citizens avoid things like subtlety, poetry and harmony; instead the Glasgow trio take a direct aim at your lugholes with maxed-out, clenched-fist post-hardcore rock. But before you indie fans go scurrying back to your Bon Iver LP, take heed: Citizens may rock hard, but they do so with inventiveness and guile.

Not convinced? Just listen to the disconnected interplay between guitar and bass on 'Shit Whistler', or the full-tilt, At the Drive-In style chopped-up rhythm of 'Melted'.

Craig maintains that the last thing they are is straight-forward - "we're not quite anything, it's hard to place us" - and says that their influences range from "hardcore, indie, jazz and folk" to "black metal, doom, grind and good films".

Since January, Citizens (completed by Owen Batchelor on bass/vocals and Iain Stewart on drums) have ingratiated themselves with their native city's rock scene by adopting a simple gameplan: "We all enjoy playing music that's interesting for us to play, and that we would listen to ourselves."

The eagle-eyed among you may have picked up on at least one of the above names. Newest recruit Iain has been enjoying hype a-plenty as the pummelling sticks man with Bronto Skylift, while Owen has played bass with Jackie Onassis (the band, not the one-time First Lady).

While they may be well-kent faces on the local live scene, they have already gigged around the UK and aren't setting their horizons too close to home: "It's cool here, there's good bands and some good promoters but we enjoy going down south to play a lot too," Craig says.

Try Smiling EPTrue to the DIY ethos we're keen to shout about here on UtR, Citizens have already released an EP called Try Smiling (pictured, right) on their own Wolf Among Wolves label (available here), and Craig reveals that there's more where that came from: "Citizens will release something else either at the end of this year or start of next."

Whether you remember the name or not, there should be ample opportunity to apply for Citizen-ship in the next few months.

Words: Nick Mitchell

Like what you hear? Catch Citizens live at the following dates:

4 Nov @ Cardigan Arms, Leeds (with Boanthrope)
5 Nov @ Retro Bar, Manchester (with Boanthrope)
9 Nov O’Henry's, Glasgow (with Boanthrope)
19 Nov Captain's Rest, Glasgow
2 Dec @ Captains Rest (with Lords)

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Thursday, 1 October 2009

Halls of fame: Barrowland Ballroom

Barrowland Ballroom

When we were planning this new series celebrating the best Scottish venues, there was only one place we could start. The Barrowland Ballroom (more commonly shortened to 'the Barrowland') in Glasgow's East End is as iconic as many of the bands and artists who have played there.

With its sticky marshmallow-soft floors that bounce with the crowd, to the stars on the roof and the staff in their tabards that seem to have worked there since it was built in the 1930s, the Barrowland has housed many a favourite gig for many a music fan.

It's rough yet reliable and far more enjoyable to visit than its commercial branded sisters.

Mike Bailey from Bailey & the Fault played the Barrowland in 2007, and remembers the occasion well:

"I still remember looking out and seeing friends and peers in the audience, their faces beaming with encouragement and pride – helping me realise, in that moment, exactly what I was accomplishing. It was an incredible night, both for me personally and for the band.

"Every young musician in Glasgow, probably even the whole of Scotland, dreams of playing the Barrowlands. From an early age I watched many of my ‘heroes’ throw it down on that stage – the stars on the ceiling, the sticky, plastic cup covered floor, but most importantly the incredible atmosphere, alive with an indescribable warmth.

"Looking out at the crowd in THAT venue is something truly special, and my memories of that performance will stay with me forever. The crowd give back everything they are given and more. Good people for good music. That’s all any of us could ask for.

A few UtR writers share their Barras memories...

Elaine Liddle: 2005. A roomful of uncharacteristically cheerful gothy people, staring reverently in awe at Trent Reznor. It was the first time Nince Inch Nails had been here for about a decade so the air was almost crackling with excitement and total hero worship.

We were behind an absolute tank of a man who became a legend by helping the entire crowd around him to stay standing. Trent bitched about the fact that not enough people loved The Fragile before 'Starf***ers'. Aaron North from Icarus Line was the guitarist and fired himself off the stage into the crowd at the end, landing on my friend's head.

Lisa-Marie Ferla: My favourite Barrowlands experience was probably the first time I went to a gig on my own - it was to see Ryan Adams, who as anyone who knows me will tell you is my fave (shameless plug), and my sister was meant to be coming with me but because she was ill I punted her ticket to a tout and chatted up some boys to wriggle my way to the front. Ryan was drunk on champagne and walked along the barrier, and somebody threw a Celtic shirt on the stage but security wouldn't let me take a picture. I then had to explain to the band why half the crowd booed when the boys and I waited outside till 1am to meet them.

Aimi Gold: After spending a year travelling solo I returned to Glasgow brimming with nostalgia and looking to party with old friends. Fever to Tell had been the soundtrack to my first year in Glasgow and I was excited to have tickets to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Barrowlands.

Sitting on my best friend's shoulders singing along to Maps gave me an overwhelming sense of belonging. The venue is comforting, its history and worn furnishings make it like going to your Gran's house for tea and it totally made me glad to be home. Yuck.

Words: Aimi Gold

Where: Barrowland Ballroom, 244 Gallowgate, Glasgow


What's your favourite venue in Scotland? Which venue should we feature next?

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