Friday, 29 January 2010

Radar recommends: 30 Jan - 5 Feb

Call To Mind
[Call To Mind play Edinburgh and Glasgow this week. Picture: Neale Smith]

Plan your gig-going with our pick of the week's finest live music nights...

The best...

Call To Mind, Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders
Saturday @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh / 7pm / £tbc
"Imagine the kind of cast-adrift melodies favoured by Grizzly Bear stretched out onto a vast panoramic canvass," we spraffed about Call To Mind last year. If this sounds like your tasse de thé, head down to Sneaky Pete's on Saturday.
Also playing Captain's Rest, Glasgow on Sunday

Hidden Door
Saturday / Sunday @ Roxy Art House, Edinburgh / 1pm - 12am / £9-£10
Leave your preconceptions at the door for this one. The first big event from the new team behind the Roxy, this multi-arts weekender will see the likes of Broken Records, Panda Su and Joseph Malik cosying up to a range of artists, poets and other such folk.

Celtic Connections: Chemikal Underground 15th Anniversary
Sunday @ ABC, Glasgow / 7pm / £15
We’ve written this one up before, but if there’s one show not to miss this weekend it’s this birthday bash for the legendary Glasgow label. With the hotly-tipped Zoey Van Goey and Phantom Band joining ex-Delgados Emma Pollock and Lord Cut-Glass, Aidan Moffat and the debut outing for The Unwinding Hours, it’s going to be one heck of a party.

Sick Kids Sunday 2
Sunday @ The GRV, Edinburgh / 1pm - 11pm / £8-£10
A great local cause and another fine array of native music-makers. Meursault? Check. James Yorkston playing the songs of Daniel Johnston? Check. Zoey Van Goey, Men Diamler, Martin John Henry, The Stormy Seas, eagleowl, Sparrow & The Workshop? Checkity check check.

David Bazan, Postdata
Tuesday @ Captain’s Rest, Glasgow / 8pm / £8
Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan releases his first album under his own name in the UK this month. Described as a “breakup album with God”, Curse Your Branches isn’t anything like as bleak as it sounds and this rare Scottish show should be a treat. Support from promising Canadian singer-songwriter Postdata.

The Seventeenth Century, Julia and the Doogans, Haight-Ashbury, Alan McKim
Thursday @ The Admiral Bar, Glasgow / 8pm / £6
Dreamy and delicious folk-rock featuring Under the Radar faves The Seventeenth Century and Julia and the Doogans.

Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers
Thursday @ The Tunnels, Aberdeen / 7.30pm / £tbc
When UtR spoke to this Glasgow band in November, they said: "We try to play a raucous live show to make our music different from how it is recorded." Aberdonians are advised to turn out and judge for themselves.
Also playing The Doghouse, Dundee on Wednesday

The rest...



Words: Lisa-Marie Ferla, Nick Mitchell

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

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Thursday, 28 January 2010

Festivals, mini-fests, multi-band spectacles...

Rupert ThomsonIt seems promoters in Scotland are becoming more ambitious. No longer satisfied with their monthly meat 'n' two veg nights of one/two/three bands, many are staging more imaginative formats and more expansive line-ups.

This weekend sees no less than four such events dominate Scotland's two big cities...

• Firstly, a daring one-off live music and arts event will take up residence in the capital, when Hidden Door marks the start of a new era at the Roxy Art House (formerly home to The Bowery). It will play host to around 40 bands, 50 artists, as well as a programme of short films and poetry.

The event was the subject of a feature in today's Scotsman, in which new Roxy artistic director Rupert Thomson (pictured) said his ambition is "to create an internationally recognised arts centre in Edinburgh". So why not pay a visit this weekend to see if the venture lives up to the hype?

• The second Sick Kids Sunday also takes place this weekend in the capital. The GRV will play host to a superb array of talent, including Meursault, James Yorkston (playing the songs of Daniel Johnson) and Sparrow and the Workshop. It's all for a vital and local cause, and with tickets at just £8 in advance, it should be a satisfying way to spend your Sunday.

• Hold on you Glasgow folks, don't leave yet. Would you really not want to know about the Chemikal Underground 15th anniversary event at Celtic Connections on Sunday at the ABC? Celebrate your city's finest record label with music from The Phantom Band, Aidan Moffat, Emma Pollock, Zoey Van Goey, Bill Wells and the debut outing of ex-Aereogramme duo The Unwinding Hours.

• On Saturday afternoon, the more folk-inclined among you can sit back, relax, sip a green tea or whatever beverage comes to hand, and listen to the mellow sounds of Pearl and the Puppets, Findlay Napier, Brother Louis Collective and Kitty the Lion at Hazy Recollections. It's at Stereo from 2.30pm.

• Last but not least, have you seen the line-up for the Fence Homegame yet? It looks amazing, but if you haven't got your ticket you'll need to rely on returns - they sold out in a matter of hours. Full line-up here.

So plenty of ambition from Scotland's music programmers. If only the bulk of it wasn't happening on one weekend...

Words: Nick Mitchell

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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

On the radar: Incrediboy and the Forget-Me-Nots

Incrediboy and the Forget-Me-Nots

Incrediboy and the Forget-Me-Nots - Cinderella


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Glasgow's own musical superhero - Incrediboy, and his group of instrument-slinging sidekicks, The Forget-Me-Nots.

"The name came from a woman I saw singing one night in a tiny bar in Glasgow" explains Incrediboy himself - or rather his Clark Kent alter-ego, Christopher Pranks.

"She was singing a song about "indestructaboy" and I thought something better as a name would be incrediboy, and at that point I thought, 'I will be Incrediboy'."

One swift change in a phonebox later, the band which had been Remarkable Rocket and the Jealous Moon Band became Incrediboy and the Forget-Me-Nots.

Their adventures first began a couple of years ago when Christopher, then a frustrated bassist "sick of waiting for guitarists to start writing songs", learned to play guitar and bought an eight-track.

Influenced by Bright Eyes, Elliot Smith, and other such talented wordsmiths, he began writing and recording dreamy, wistful folk pop in his bedroom. "I've always had more of a kinship with words rather than music, and these artist have such an unbelievable grasp of language," Christopher says. "Elliot Smith, in my eyes, is the best musician of our generation. To me he's all four Beatles in one body."

The band is now happily heading in a slightly different direction - with more input from the other members.

"Writing songs is much more of a collaborative experience these days", Christopher says. "Normally I have something in my head for each instrument, but the others are normally on the same page and if not, then the parts they introduce are better than what I've devised.

"We've been described as a folk-pop band with post-rock tendencies before, and I think that's pretty accurate. Recently there's a lot more energy to the songs, they are much more upbeat."

Plans are in place to record an EP in February which Christopher promises will include "a new song, untitled at present but probably the best we've every written."

Incrediboy and the Forget-Me-Nots - Tender is the Night


Their next challenge will be to top their first ever gig - at the Carling Academy with French Wives. "It's yet to be surpassed", says Christopher. "The Wives are a fantastic band, and we've been friends since the start. The success they're enjoying is nothing more than deserved."

Meanwhile, if you've every fancied being a superhero, the band is still on the lookout for a second guitarist. Those without big red flashing telephones or giant searchlights can get in touch via incrediboymusic@hotmail.co.uk.

Words: Elaine Liddle

Incrediboy and the Forget-Me-Nots play the Captain's Rest on Friday (29 Jan) with Laura Healy and Digital Dinosaur, from 8pm.

What do you think of this comic book collective? Let us know below...

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Monday, 25 January 2010

Live review: Versus

Versus

Thursday 21 January
The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh


On-stage hook-ups can have spectacularly varied results. From The Last Waltz to Band Aid to all those carefully brokered festival duets masquerading as spontaneous 'happenings', there have been good, bad and painful examples. But in its short stint Edinburgh’s Versus night has got the concept just about right: thoughtful curation, proper rehearsals, mutual respect and minimum ego.

eagleowlBut tonight in a busy Voodoo Rooms ballroom we aren't plunged head first into a multi-band spectacle, oh no. Instead the artists perform separate mini-sets as a gentle introduction to the daring experimentation to follow. And it doesn’t come much gentler than eagleowl. With the darkened room almost at capacity, it takes a few moments before most attendees notice that the gig is underway, with the Edinburgh band’s brooding post-folk (c.f. every article ever written about them) making a quiet, undramatic entrance. But Bart Owl (pictured, right) gradually pulls focus stage-ward with his transatlantic vocals and understated but purposeful guitar strumming, backed by Clarissa Cheong on double bass.

Oates FieldAlan Oates of Come in Tokyo makes his solo debut as Oates Field (left) next - although he starts this maiden gig unceremoniously, crouched down at the side of the stage where he tinkers with a tattered synth and loop pedals. It all comes together when he steps up and stomps out a rhythm out on the bass drum, adding direction to his ragged folk rock. A seasoned live musician with seemingly scant concern for the occasion, it feels as if you’ve walked in on a private rehearsal in his living room.

There’s no red carpet in sight for tonight’s headliners, Bafta winners Found (below), but they follow Oates without a hint of grand pretentions, dutifully adding their electro-fringed, funk-flecked fare to the night’s rarefied menu.

Versus

The Wee RogueAfter only one initial song they vacate the spotlight for the evening’s first special guest, The Wee Rogue (right). Reminding this writer of Mr Tumnus for a weird moment, the skinny, goatee'd Jamie O’Connor then locates himself nearer 60s America than Narnia with his finger-picked guitar and far-sighted delivery of a single “love song”.

A cover of eagleowl’s 'MF' delivered with relish by Oates Field follows, before Found return with a longer exposition of their assured folktronica. Ziggy Campbell pronounces his sabre-sharp lyrics with evident pleasure, while Kev Sim and Tommy Perman forge a torrent of drenched static, zinging FX and chugging bass. For a trio they emit a surprisingly complex, utterly composed sound.

DebutantThere’s an unintentional interval before special guest number two, which Oates fills with a spot of improv comedy, and it’s to Phillip Quirie’s credit that he manages to shrug off Oates' playful jibes about his spaghetti junction of pedals and hooded jumper as he sets up his gear. Once he gets going, Meursault member Quirie, here tonight as Debutant (left), quickly draws the room deep into his shimmering, stormy realm. It’s his second effort, 'Thirst', that emerges as a highlight, not just from his brief set but the whole evening.

From here on in the 'versus' clause comes into full effect, with eagleowl, Found and Oates Field massing on stage as a kind of shambling supergroup, their mission to find new perspectives in each other's songs. For the most part they achieve this; each musician eyeing one other intently, studying the shifts and pauses and showing the kind of cohesion that must have required real preparation. The sedate pace of the eagleowl material benefits from Found’s box of digital tricks, and they consciously alternate between styles, from three-minute crescendos to American radio rock to segments of unrestrained jamming.

Ziggy CampbellBut with so many cooks crowding over the broth pot, at times it does go off the boil. There are at least two songs which fall flat, prompting the less attentive in the audience to restart their (no doubt essential) conversations.

Despite the downturn, the last song of the night, a version of eagleowl’s normally undulating 'Blanket' (but this time driven by a thumping beat straight from the subwoofer of your local boy racer) builds and builds to a magnificent climax, as if to reaffirm that, despite the risks involved, the pay-off on offer with such boundary-pushing is undoubtedly worthwhile.

Whoever they choose for the next Versus will have high standards to uphold.

Words: Nick Mitchell
Photos: Julia Stryj

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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Drumroll, please... It's the Scottish music photo of 2009

We want to take this opportunity to congratulate photographer Su Anderson, who yesterday won The Pop Cop's second annual Scottish music photo competition.

Su covered the the BBC Introducing and T Break stages at T in the Park for Under the Radar last year, and it was this image of a typically wild Dananananaykroyd show which judge Harry Benson (Scotland's most famous living photographer, no less) picked out as the best of 2009.

Dananananaykroyd

Su describes how the photo came to be: "It was my first time seeing Dananananaykroyd live. I knew they were an an enthusiastic band, to put it mildly, but I didn't realise it would be quite so energetic. The two singers really played up to the crowd, taking turns flinging themselves around the stage and jumping into the pit area - one almost landing on my camera gear. The barricade between the stage and the throng of sunburned festival-goers had a ledge around it wide enough for someone to stand on. The singer climbed onto it and so did I, and I shot several frames, but this was the only one where his face was visible. They really were one of the funnest bands I've ever shot, giving me a wealth of options, but this one is my favourite."

Harry Benson said: "The photograph is real and not altered in Photoshop, and I like that straightforward approach. The photographer is right in the middle of the action, which is where the photographer should be."

Read The Pop Cop's article in full and see the runners-up here.

As a bonus here is the slideshow of some of Su's T in the Park pictures which we published last July (with music by Findo Gask) ...

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Friday, 22 January 2010

Radar recommends: 23 - 29 January

North Atlantic Oscillation
[North Atlantic Oscillation: limbering up for Limbo on Friday]

Plan your gig-going with our pick of the week's choicest live music nights...

The best...

John Knox Sex Club, Baby Boyz
Saturday @ The Ferry, Glasgow / 8pm / £6
Not your typical wide-eyed indie-pop band, The JKSC inflict moody, clanging blues riffs and deranged vocals on anyone who'll listen. Will you?

Burns Night Celebration: Broken Records, Woodenbox With A Firstful of Fivers, Whisky Kiss
Sunday @ King Tuts, Glasgow / 8.30pm / £12
More Scottish than a ginger man in a kilt shouting 'freedom', drinking whisky and killing a haggis with his bare hands. What a lovely patriotic way to celebrate the Bard.

Marble Valley
Tuesday @ Nice'n'Sleazys, Glasgow / 7.30pm / £TBC
In advance of their much-anticipated return, Pavement drummer Steve West shows his vocal worth.

The Foundling Wheel, Smack Van, Ian Ryan
Wednesday @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh / 8pm / £3
The Foundling Wheel is a solo project with a difference: a one-man, bass guitar-wielding, beat-programming, noise-fuelled rammy. And then some.

The Mill: The Seventeenth Century, There Will be Fireworks
Thursday @ Oran Mor / 7.30pm / Free but ticketed
Gilt-edged, mellifluous folk-rock from the highly rated Seventeenth Century. There Will Be Fireworks? Apparently a few folk rate them too.

The Low Anthem
Thursday @ The Old Fruitmarket / 9pm / £16
Lovely Celtic Connections ditty. Beautiful pop in a beautiful building. It’s gonna be special guys.

Limbo: North Atlantic Oscillation, Simon Doherty and Louise McVey & The Cracks In the Concrete
Friday @ The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh / £5 / 8pm
Limbo had a healthy effect on the Edinburgh scene over the past two years, so locals will be happy about its imminent return. The night may have gone from weekly Thursdays to monthly Fridays, but their band booking policy looks as infallible as ever.

Adam Green
Friday @ Stereo / 7pm / £10
Get your skinny jeans and white plimsoles on and boost your indie credentials with a trip to see the manly half of The Mouldy Peaches solo. Sweet.

The Lava Experiments
Friday @ The 13th Note, Glasgow / £5 / 8.30pm
To quote ourselves, The Lava Experiments make "gorgeously cinematic electronica, reminiscent in places of Kraftwerk or a heavier Explosions in the Sky". They launch a new EP of remixes at this gig, for which they enlisted the help of Dans Le Sac, Pumajaw and Betamax Warriors.

The rest...



Words: Aimi Gold, Nick Mitchell

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

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

On the radar: Django Django

Django Django

Django Django: Love's Dart


Even in our digitised world there hasn't been much in the way of biographical backstory to be gleaned by typing Django Django into your search engine of choice, save for an art-filled MySpace page, a stated admiration of Joe Meek and a loose Scottish connection. It would seem 'the band so good they named themselves twice' prefer to lay low.

But when I get in touch with drummer Dave MacLean to try and find out more about this elusive quartet I learn that he can physically do little else right now. "2010 is off to false start because I've been in bed the whole year so far with swine flu! But when I get back to London it's going to be very busy."

Like countless bands before them, three quarters of Django Django met at art school - in Edinburgh, to be precise - but it wasn't until they hit the Big Smoke that it started happening for them as a band.

"Edinburgh was great, it's a great city to be a student in," says Dave (who also goes by the DJ moniker Hugo Paris. "I always knew we would do the band thing properly but it took us years to get round to it. Somehow we all ended up moving to London for different reasons and the band gradually came together, starting off with Vinnie [Neff] and myself recording songs in my flat after work. We brought in Tommy [Grace] and Jim [Dixon] to go live and become a real band."

Together, the four sound like what might happen if you took the seeds of pop music to another planet and let them grow independently for a decade or two. That's not to make the grandiloquent claim that it's like nothing else ever recorded; rather that it's wide-ranging, not a little skewed, and mostly ignorant of current trends or fads.

Django Django: Storm


Take 'Storm', for instance. There's a hint of Spector Sound about the insistent, pitched drumbeat, a touch of 60s yé-yé in the jazzy guitars and a smidgen of the Beta Band's nonchalant croon in the vocals. Or 'Love's Dart', with its burnt wood guitar riff and clip-clop coconut rhythm, like the soundtrack to the weirdest western you've (n)ever seen. Or there's the thumping remix ('re-version' would be a better word) of Clock Opera's 'White Noise'.

But being hard to define, to sum up, is surely a good thing for a musician? "Yes I suppose it is," Dave says. "Again it's not something we've contrived, it's just that we're into loads of different styles of music so we draw influences from a pretty eclectic range of stuff. That tends to mean that each song sounds a bit different from the last but for us that's the fun of making music... seeing what you come up with next without worrying if it sounds like this or that."

Django Django

Neither do they fret much about their identity, but despite the fact that they're now embedded in the east London scene, they still feel the pull of home. "My family are in Fife and Tommy's are in Edinburgh so we come back pretty regularly," Dave says. "London is great but for me and Tommy Scotland is our home and we'll end up back here. We've only done a couple of gigs north of the border but we're back up in March to play the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh and Fence Homegame in Fife so we're looking forward to that."

First on Dave's to-do list for 2010 is shaking off his swine flu affliction, but looking farther ahead, he sees a busy agenda looming on the horizon. "First we're mastering the next single 'Wor' and getting that out," he says. "At the same time an American release of our first single is due out, then lots of gigs... we're off to SXSW which is great. Then when we're back we'll be concentrating on finishing the album. We also have some exciting remix projects on the go so we'll have to somehow find time for that... so it's shaping up to be a pretty busy year for us."

With the chatter about this eccentric act growing steadily, you might stumble across the words Django Django more and more. New bands take note: name yourself twice, and double the hype.

Words: Nick Mitchell

Django Django play the Fence Homegame and the Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh on 13 March.

Django Django: Skies Over Cairo

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Monday, 18 January 2010

Live review: Trampoline

Wee Red Bar

The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh
Saturday 16 January

Tonight, the Wee Red feels more like a sit-down session than a gig. Lounged-out upholstery speckles the venue and scores of incoming punters are making best use of the situation by parking their posteriors and slurping slowly on cheap ale. Perhaps it’s an indictment of the Edinburgh music scene’s languid start to 2010, but the lethargy that permeates Trampoline’s first outing of the year is almost tangible.

Thomas WesternSome sympathy, then, must be lent to Thomas Western. The uphill battle of stirring the sleepy masses is challenging enough. To do it armed with just an acoustic guitar and a frail, threadbare voice borders on lunacy. Yet Western is nothing if not persistent and he gets to work belting out polished, folksy matter like a bull-headed street preacher oblivious to his surroundings.

The trouble with such brittle laments is that they’re the perfect accompaniment for idle chit-chat. And as the Derby-born songwriter coos through a set of muted reflection the escalating hum of conversation drowns out his tender tones. Such gentle purring will always find a home in Edinburgh’s troubadour-hugging bosom, but Western’s downtrodden songsmithery and reticent mannerisms lack the sufficient hypnosis to engage attention, never mind clear the cobwebs of the post-festive period malaise.

Over the WallFortunately, Over the Wall are on hand to shake off the slumber. Bleeding positivity, the Glasgow duo of Ben Hillman and Gav Prentice launch into an ebullient indie pop spectacle that resuscitates the comatosed crowd. Squeezing out hyperactive, synth-spangled romps like they’ve sniffed an ounce of aural laxative, the spectrum of keys, brass and guitar played at breakneck speed is an irresistible kickstart that finally lifts the Wee Red to its feet.

This shot of adrenaline is underpinned by a craft that belies the pairing’s delinquent playfulness. Cornerstoned by generous slivers of melody layered over complex rhythms, the band’s meticulous arrangements make a mockery of their self-effacing claims. Closing number 'Thurso' is a prime example of this embellished guile: slow paced and preening, it takes shape as a trumpeting crescendo that has palms clapping, feet stomping and hearts racing. It's all to the beat of a band, undoubtedly, on the rise.

How To SwimWith ear-canals fully lubricated, an air of expectancy greets the arrival of headliners How to Swim. Jostling for space on the Wee Red’s not-inconsiderable floor, the nine-sided ensemble din like no-one else. A plunder of brass, string and percussion detonates as an avant-garde trill; below this wall of instrumentation lies Ink Wilson’s unmistakable crow, desperate to orchestrate cohesion amidst the chaos.

It’s an exhilarating trip that spoons myriad styles into one brilliant, bubbling pot. Trouble is, there’s just too many cooks stirring in too many ingredients. There’s no doubting the quality of the compositions – each is an intelligent slab of voluptuous art-pop - but the sheer scope feels disorientating and overwhelming. By constantly showcasing the entire suite of instruments, the set becomes a dishevelled sprawl that loses focus and, sadly, becomes ineffectual. For sure, How to Swim have created an impenetrable sonic shield, but tonight they could benefit from letting a few people in.

As the final notes fade from stage to be replaced by the sound of bombastic applause, one thing is achingly clear: In the space of just three hours, Edinburgh’s live music scene has finally kicked into gear.

Words: Billy Hamilton
Photos: Su Anderson

Over The Wall

Over The Wall

How To Swim

How To Swim

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Friday, 15 January 2010

Radar recommends: 16 - 22 January

Over the Wall
[Over the Wall: testing out the Trampoline on Saturday]


Please bear with us while we try out a yet another format to our weekly gig round-up...

Radar Recommends started out as a small selection of the best gigs in Scotland. Then its scope got wider with less critique. Now we're aiming for the middle ground.

Every Friday we'll write short previews about the most eye-catching gigs of the week ahead, then give you the bigger picture with the calendar below.

If we're inundated with complaints we will, of course, change it back.


A Scottish Songbook
Saturday @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall / 7.30pm / £16 - £20
Among the array of Celtic Connections options this week, this one could be pretty interesting. The festival directors have chosen classics and hidden gems from the vast archives of Scottish songwriting, for performers including Emma Pollock, King Creosote and Kris Drever.

Trampoline: How To Swim, Over the Wall, Thomas Western
Saturday @ Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh / 7pm / £5
Yet another tip-top line-up from Trampoline. How to Swim and Thomas Western both featured here in 2009, and we hope to put right the Over the Wall omission very soon. Because they're superb.

St Deluxe, Stuart Braithwaite, Will Carruthers (DJ set), Joe Foster (DJ set)
Sunday @ Mono, Glasgow / 7pm / Free
Noisy, fuzzy St Deluxe and a solo set by the Mogwai man makes for an excellent free night out at the launch of a touring exhibition of work by artist Natty Brooker (best known for his collaborations with Spacemen 3 and Spiritualzed).

Comanechi, Divorce, Holy Mountain
Monday @ Captain's Rest, Glasgow / 8pm / £5
Ear-ringing should come as standard as Londoners Comanechi are suitably teamed with shouty Glaswegians Divorce – definitely one to see – and heavy improvisation from duo Holy Mountain.
Also playing Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Vivian Girls, St Deluxe
Wednesday 20th @ Captains Rest, Glasgow / 7.30pm / £8
Everyone’s favourite chick-filled Brooklyn three-piece return to Glasgow as part of their UK tour. Delightfully messy, sunny pop-rock, even better live. Support from similarly Nirvanafuzz-laden locals, St Deluxe. Surf’s up.

Versus: Eagleowl, Found, Oates Field
Thursday @ Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh / 8.30pm / £5
Through its spirit of open collaboration, Versus has quickly positioned itself as one of the capital's most exciting live music nights. This combination of eagleowl and Found is the sonic equivalent of mixing Scotch broth with skittles, so we can only assume the mysterious Oates Field are bringing some heavy-duty condiments.

Baroness, Titus Gein
Thursday @ Nice'n'Sleazy, Glasgow / 7.30pm / £10
Sci-fi prog fun is back on the menu as Titus Gein return to support the rather more serious, grand and impressive Baroness who are touring their Blue Record of last year.

The Real McKenzies, The Plimptons
Friday @ Stereo, Glasgow / 8pm / £7
Not sure about the prospect of seven kilted Canadian punk rockers, but The Plimptons, who recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary, are always good for a fun set.



Words: Elaine Liddle, Lauren Mayberry, Nick Mitchell

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

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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Newsflash: Going for a gong

Dananananaykroyd
[Dananananaykroyd: in the running for award. Photo: Su Anderson]

In an attempt to stave off the general ennui of the first few weeks of the year, when we're all coming to terms with the return to work/school/studies and the weather's still pelting us with sub-zero sleet, people make up awards.

Have a glitzy, booze-fuelled party and cheer up, the thinking goes.

Earlier this week we told you about the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (see below), and today we've got wind of a few more.

Radio station Xfm have launched their New Music Awards for 2010, which considers any bands who have released a debut album over the past year. You can vote for whoever you like here, but they have published a list of suggestions, which includes Scots acts Broken Records, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Wake the President and Dananananaykroyd.

But as long as La Roux doesn't win we'll be happy.

In other award-related news, Under the Radar is up for another gong, in the Scotblog Awards 2010. As anyone could nominate anyone, there's a massive longlist of 142 Scottish blogs, and you can vote for as many as you like. Other music sites in the running include The Pop Cop, Peenko and Aye Tunes.

Cast your vote here.

And finally... Celtic Connections starts in Glasgow today, with over 200 artists set to take the stage over the next fortnight. There are opportunities aplenty to discover new talent, especially at the Danny Kyle Open Stage, and we'll pick a few of our favourites in Radar Recommends this week and next.

Got any other Scottish music news tips? Send them to utr.scotsman@gmail.com or get in touch via Twitter

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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Newsflash: Eurosonic | SL Records | Festivals latest | alt.music awards

WWPJPScots bands at Eurosonic

Two of Scotland's most blogged-about bands will be playing a music industry conference in Holland this week that acts as a showcase for summer festival bookers across Europe.

A disproportionately high number of agents, promoters and bookers will be in the crowd when Broken Records and We Were Promised Jetpacks (pictured) ply their live wares at the Eurosonic conference in Groningen, which takes place from Thursday to Saturday.

WWPJPDevelopments at SL Records

Edinburgh-based SL Records have announced that they're now working with local anti-folk dude, Les Enfant Bastard. They have three of the songwriter's lo-fi albums available and reveal that he's currently working on a new, Gameboy-inspired LP. More info here.

In other SL-related news, Paul Vickers and The Leg are to return with a new album in February. Itchy Grumble is billed, intriguingly, as "a rock opera album concept; an epic in which an immortal anti-hero is given the task of revolving a lighthouse on the Firth of Forth."

You can listen to some of the album tracks on the SL Records site.

Festivals off

After a grim year for Scotland's major music festivals in 2009, it looks like 2010 isn't going to be a whole lot better. Connect, Outsider, Big in Falkirk, Live at Loch Lomond and EH1 are among festivals shelved in the wake of poor ticket sales and funding problems. The more established events, including T in the Park, Rock Ness, Wickerman and Belladrum, are to go ahead as planned.

Full story in The Scotsman.

Stag & DaggerFestivals on

But it's not all bad news, especially if you prefer a smaller-scale festival experience. Two such events which debuted in Glasgow last year are set to make their return. Stag & Dagger, a one-night, multi-venue event which last year featured the likes of Cold War Kids and The Phantom Band, returns on Saturday 22 May. And Hinterland, a similar event over two days which had well-documented problems with ticket sales, makes a surprising return, but (perhaps having learned their lesson) takes place on a single weekend day, Saturday 3 April.

And that's not all. Edinburgh gets in on the action with a brand new mini arts festival at the end of this month. Hidden Door takes over the Roxy Art House and The Bowery with a wide selection of leftfield delights, from the bright electro of RBRBR to the anarchic racket of The Leg.

Polls open in alt music awards

Promoter Richy Muirhead has launched his Scottish Alternative Music Awards for 2010. Anyone can vote in the four rock-focussed categories, with bands featured including UtR-tipped names like Trapped in Kansas, Bronto Skylift and The Darien Venture. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Classic Grand, Glasgow on 24 February. More info here.

Words: Nick Mitchell

Got any other Scottish music news tips? Send them to utr.scotsman@gmail.com or get in touch via Twitter

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Monday, 11 January 2010

Live review: We Sink Ships

The 13th Note, Glasgow
Friday 8 January


Tonight brings both celebration and sadness for We Sink Ships. Ostensibly a launch party for WSS Radio, the Glasgow based art and music collective’s new podcast series, the gig was also a farewell to the duo’s Neil Milton – whose contributions will now come from his new home in Warsaw.

It may mark a new chapter in We Sink Ships history but this promising line-up boasts some familiar names. Euan McMeeken opens without his Kays Lavelle cohorts, performing solo material as well as stripped-down versions of tracks from the septet’s upcoming debut album.

Without his colleagues, McMeeken’s music is a different beast – fragile, simple, like the sound of a Christmas card-perfect snow scene. It sounds like the city looks tonight – delicate flurries of piano notes fall like snowflakes and McMeeken’s voice is whispery and emotive despite microphone problems.

If McMeeken’s music is all Scottish winter love songs then Iceland’s Benni Hemm Hemm is going to see your silly Scottish winters and raise you some arctic permafrost. “I might be making fun of you for thinking this is cold,” says band foreman Benedict Hermmannson, introducing a song he claims is about “when you’re trapped inside because of the weather and the only thing to do is attack your loved ones’”

Sporting a reindeer emblazoned novelty sweater, he sings in a mixture of heavily-accented English and Icelandic with the benefit of brass accompaniment from the Second Hand Marching Band. Although the set dips a little in the middle, by the end voice and instruments combine in a way which can only be described as joyous.

Is it cliché now to joke that the Second Hand Marching Band are getting too big for the ‘Note? It’s just that when part of your improvised instrumentation involves your ukulele player using the ceiling as percussion it’s one that’s hard to avoid. There isn’t much that can be said about the many-headed group that we haven’t said before, unless it’s to remark that live their sound is even more charmingly ramshackle than it is on record.

While tracks from early EPs still dominate the set, new material sounds promising - there’s a gentle sea-shanty style song, with sweet male-female vocals, and the epic 'A Hurricane, A Thunderstorm' which closes the set. This is supposed to be the band’s last show for a few months, while they disappear to work on more recordings, and it’s a good note to end on.

We Sink Ships will appear every Tuesday on Radio Magnetic with top fives, sets from Neil Milton and Heidi Kuisma and guest DJs, as well as the podcasted return of Milton’s Too Many Fireworks label.

Words and photos: Lisa Marie Ferla

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Friday, 8 January 2010

Radar recommends: 9 - 15 January

Radar Recommends is back from its Christmas vacation and is - conversely - slimmer than ever.

The first weeks of the year are always quiet on the social front so this is another condensed version of the gig guide.

Glaswegians will at least be treated to the folky charms of Celtic Connections for a fortnight from next Thurday, and the Danny Kyle Open Stage is of particular interest to those in search of a discovery or two.

But apart from that it's slim pickings, save for the likes of Super Adventure Club (pictured)...

Saturday 9th

Jackie Treehorn, Liars Dice @ Moorings Bar, Aberdeen, 8pm, £3
Jonathan Carr, Heart Beats, Gallus Fever @ King Tut's, Glasgow, 8.30pm, £5

Monday 11th

Michael Simons @ Tchai Ovna, Glasgow, 8pm, £2
Jackie Treehorn @ Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, 8pm, £tbc

Tuesday 12th

Jackie Treehorn, Vasquez @ The 13th Note, Glasgow, 8pm, £4

Wednesday 13th

An Evening With Henry Rollins @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 7pm, £17.50

Thursday 14th

Ten Tracks Presents: Super Adventure Club @ Stereo, Glasgow, 8pm, £1
A Band Called Quinn @ King Tut's, Glasgow, 8.30pm, £5
The Mill: I See Shapes, Belgrade @ Oran Mor, Glasgow, 7pm, Free but ticketed

Friday 15th

The Ordinary Allstars @ The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, midnight - 3am
Come On Gang, Little Doses, Lean Tales, Around Zero @ Capitol, Glasgow, 8pm, £tbc
Danny Kyle's Open Stage (Celtic Connections) @ Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 5pm, Free


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

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Editorial: The tipping point

John McCririckIf you're an avid consumer of music journalism you could be forgiven at this time of year for picturing every blogger and critic to look like John McCririck.

OK, maybe they don't look like the Ascot-frequenting eccentric, but they're all having a go at being excitable tipsters.

Perhaps the most high profile formcard for the year ahead is the BBC's Sound of 2010, which today crowned Ellie Goulding as the artist primed for stardom. Having already vented about the selection process behind their shortlist, I'll refrain from any more cynicism now, but the comment from Drunk Country on our original editorial is worth a read.

Over the festive period a few of our writers offered their own Scottish tips for 2010, but we have refrained from compiling a thorough run-down or poll of the most exciting acts of the moment.

Why? Because that's essentially what we've been doing for the past year anyway. The bands and artists we have profiled have been emergent by definition, the vast majority of them unsigned. If 2009 was the year of their formation, or the year they started gigging or self-released an EP, perhaps 2010 is the year they'll 'make it' - and I'll let you be the judge of what 'making it' entails.

Some of our choices from the class of 2009 - Withered Hand, North Atlantic Oscillation, There Will Be Fireworks, Copy Haho, Panda Su, to name a select few - are already growing their audience beyond the cosy confines of the Scottish scene. Others will undoubtedly come to nothing and fade back into obscurity. As any pundit will tell you though, that's the risk you take in this game.

But like everyone else, we can't resist the appeal of the crystal ball, so I'll add a few more new names that have recently appeared as blips on our collective radar:

Django Django
Nomogram
The Last Battle
Midnight Lion
miaoux miaoux
Three Blind Wolves (Ross Clark's renamed band)

Who are you tipping for 2010? Do you actually look like John McCririck? Let us know...

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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Elaine Liddle: My tip for 2010

The Unwinding HoursI find it hard to explain quite how much I loved Aereogramme. But simply put, it was a sad, sad day when they played their last gig.

So when a little item appeared on a Chemikal Underground mailout earlier this year along the lines of "Craig B's been working on some new stuff", it was like a whacking great jolt of excitement.

The Unwinding Hours, as you'll know from their UtR profile in November, is a new project from Craig B and Iain Cook, debuting at Celtic Connections Chemikal showcase on 31 January; just typing those words brings a buzz to my fingers.

I can't pretend to know if they will make it big, but I do feel they fully deserve to.

The Unwinding Hours: Knut


Who is your tip for 2010? Comment now or forever hold your peace...

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Friday, 1 January 2010

Craig Dickson: My tip for 2010

Come On Gang

Edinburgh's Come On Gang had a good 2009, winning hearts and minds all over with their own style of ragged pop-rock. A successful string of appearances at festivals such as Rockness, Reading & Leeds and T in the Park in the summer is already behind them, as well as a spot at Texas' SXSW showcase in March.

They play catchy melody-centred pop with a bit of edge, the kind of accessible indie that could quite easily garner mainstream attention. They may hardly be undiscovered, but I’ll be surprised if 2010 doesn’t see this trio take another step up the ladder to wider exposure.



Who is your tip for 2010? Let us know below...

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