Friday, 26 March 2010

Radar recommends: 27 March - 2 April

We Were Promised Jetpacks
[We Were Promised Jetpacks: descending on Edinburgh on Sunday]

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

Ten Tracks presents... The Verden Whistle Test
Saturday @ Verden Studios, Portobello, Edinburgh / 6pm / £10
You're probably too young to know what The Old Grey Whistle Test was... So, this is a special, intimate studio gig that's all being filmed, featuring the likes of UtR faves Over The Wall, Dead Boy Robotics, Esperi, Fur Hood and John B McKenna. There are only 100 tickets on offer and everyone gets a free DVD. More info here.

La La Vasques, Golden Grrrls, Girls Names
Sunday @ The 13th Note, Glasgow / 9pm / £tbc
What do you get when you mix cool girls with fuzzed out shoegazy style? Perhaps something like these bands. And that's something pretty good.

Haddow Fest
Sunday @ various venues, Edinburgh / 1pm - 12am / £20 (£15 in advance)
Glasgow may have Hinterland and Stag and Dagger, but now Edinburgh has its own multi-venue gig sprawl. Haddow Fest has rounded up a batch of indie-rock bands to entertain the masses, including the likes of Idlewild, My Latest Novel and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Check the website for more information and stage times.

RM Hubbert
Sunday @ Slow Club, The Flying Duck, Glasgow / 8pm / Free
Ex-El Hombre Trajeado man RM shows off his fingerpicking skills with an instrumental guitar set, hopefully with a few pieces from his stunning First&Last album. What a pleasant way to spend a Sunday evening.

The Besnard Lakes, Wolf People, Olympic Swimmers
Sunday @ Captain's Rest / 8pm / £8
Proving that matrimony and work can mix, Montreal's The Besnard Lakes have won over many fans with their sweeping indie rock. Get there early for UtR-featured Olympic Swimmers.

Benni Hemm Hemm, Rachel Sermanni, Graham McGeoch
Tuesday @ Bloc, Glasgow / 9pm / Free
Benedikt Hermann Hermannsson, going by the altogether easier to pronounce name of Benni Hemm Hemm, has brought the gift of excellent folksy pop from Iceland to his adoptive home of Glasgow. Get a free taste tonight as he plus band launch the Retaliate EP.
Also playing The Roxy Art House, Edinburgh on Monday

Dam Mantle, Fox Gut Daata
Friday @ Glasgow Social Centre, Osborne Street / 8pm / £5
Dam Mantle launches a new EP with suitable support from Fox Gut Daata. If you like your beats and blips on the interesting side you should head along. Plus DJ sets from Cry Parrot and Halleluwah Hits.

The Twilight Sad, The Unwinding Hours
Friday @ ABC, Glasgow / 7pm / £10
Just in case you thought The Twilight Sad's live show was lacking a few decibels (you fool!), the Kilsyth band will play this gig with an extra PA, achieving so-called "quadraphonic" sound. Hold on to your hats, and make sure you check out the sublime Unwinding Hours.
Also playing The Warehouse, Aberdeen on Thursday

Conquering Animal Sound, Debutant, Wounded Knee
Friday @ Roxy Art House, Edinburgh / 7pm / £5
Hardly a week goes by where we don't mention a gig by one of these hard-working tunesmiths. Maybe tunesmith is the wrong word, because all three acts like to break conventions however and whenever they can.

Words: Elaine Liddle, Nick Mitchell

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Monday, 8 March 2010

Newsbits: From 'Scottish krautrock' to Tweet music

Mitchell Museum
[Mitchell Museum: set to entertain the Twitterers of Edinburgh]

Tweet music
The Edinburgh Twestival, the capital's meet-up for those who prefer to live their life in 140 characters, has unveiled its musical line-up. Glasgow's madcap experimentalists Mitchell Museum and new Edinburgh outfit Pose Victorious will entertain the iPhone-clutching audience, with DJ sets from George Wallace and members of Idlewild. It takes place on Thursday 25 March at the new Ghillie Dhu venue in the west end of the city. More acts are expected to be announced this week.

And in case you didn't already know, the generous Mitchell Museum are giving away their new EP We Lost First Prize on their new website.

Frabbits burrow through blogosphere
Frightened Rabbit's third album The Winter of Mixed Drinks was unveiled to the world last week, and we've been interested in the way it's been received outside Scotland's cosy bosom. For instance, self-styled Twitter reviewer (and respected rock critic too, it has to be said) Chris Weingarten, tweeted this on his @1000timesyes account: "Arcade Fire-ready hooks, given a lovely new life as Scottish krautrock.#7.5"

And since "Scottish krautrock" only returns 94 hits on Google, it looks as if we have a new genre on our hands.

In other FatCat news, the label's other Scottish high-fliers The Twilight Sad have been announced as main support for Biffy Clyro's UK tour next month, which includes a date at Perth on 29 April.

Silver Columns 'unmasked'
Not since Burial's shadowy presence on the London dub scene has there been so much Guess Who?-style whisperings over an anonymous musician... Silver Columns set tongues a-wagging late last year with their slinky electro beats lighting up Hype Machine's blog barometer. But in case you didn't hear via Twitter, the protagonists behind the project are none other than Fence Collective co-founder Johnny "The Pictish Trail" Lynch and Adem, the man behind the Takes covers album.

The duo have an upcoming 12" single called 'Cavalier' that's due out on 19 April via Moshi Moshi, and with both halves playing Fence Homegame this weekend, we're hoping for an impromptu show in Anstruther.

Peter Bjorn & John - It Don't Move Me (Silver Columns remix)

Belle & Sebastian set for return
Scots twee-pop legends Belle & Sebastian are set to return from their very long hiatus. In a message sent out to their mailing list, the band said that they have been writing new songs in Glasgow recently and are about to head to Los Angeles to record a new album. But if you want to see them live this summer, you'll have to travel, as the only festival dates announced so far are in Scandinavia and Japan - although more could well be added.

Back to the Futureheads
The Futureheads, the forgotten-but-not-gone Sunderland outfit that once broached the Top 40’s upper echelons with a Kate Bush cover will headline The Mills’ (sort of) two-year birthday bash in Glasgow. The shindig takes place in Oran Mor on Thursday, 29 April, with local tune-churners Lions.Chase.Tigers and Admiral Fallow propping up the bill. In just a couple of years The Mill has seen over 200 acts playing stages in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Given how little most of us achieve in our early years – being unable able to go to the bathroom independent of Pampers Ultra and having no vocabulary beyond ‘waaah’ –it’s an impressive feat. Tickets for the night are £5 and can be found here.

Making Tracks
The good people at TenTracks have launched yet more luscious bundles of music for your listening pleasure. For just a pound you can hear ten specially selected tracks (there’s no subtlety in the name, is there?) from Leith Records that includes such esteemed acts as Over the Wall, the 10:04’s and Come On Gang. For another 100 pence you can own a tasty selection of cuts from last month’s wonderful Hidden Door festival, that includes a ‘hidden mic’ piece composed of conversational clips taken throughout the day.

Meursault? More so
Can’t wait until 24 May to get your paws on Meursault’s new longplayer All Creatures Will Make Merry? Well, if you’re attending the launch nights in Glasgow (Captain’s Rest, 7 Apr) or Edinburgh (Cabaret Voltaire, 10 Apr) you’ll be able pick up a sneaky limited edition pre-launch copy if you pre-order at Song By Toad records here. Based on the band’s recent live excursions with Xiu Xiu, ACWMM (how’s that for an acronym...) looks set to be more volumised than Pissing on Bonfires..., with frontman Neil Pennycook describing the sound as ‘epic lo-fi’, which strikes us a bit of an oxymoron. Anyway, on the back of the new album the Auld Reekie quintet will be jetsetting around Europe in the hope of finally getting the acclaim the deserve.

Mark Linkous RIP
In much, much more sombre news, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Mark Linkous committed suicide on Saturday. As the man behind the wonderful Sparklehorse, Linkous released four albums of extraordinary psych-folk. He also produced Daniel Johnston’s 2003 album Fear Yourself and collaborated with Danger Mouse on Dark Night of the Soul. A statement from Linkous’ family said: “It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and family member, Mark Linkous, took his own life today. We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts. May his journey be peaceful, happy and free. There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you.” A tragically depressing day for music.

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Friday, 11 December 2009

Radar recommends: 12 - 18 Dec

The Twilight Sad
[The Twilight Sad: bringing the festive decibels to Edinburgh and Glasgow]

Status Quo are rocking all over Scotland this week (well, Aberdeen and Glasgow to be precise), so surely there's nothing more to be said for live music over the next seven days? What can possibly survive in the wake of the ponytailed rock gods, you ask?

Well, if Francis Rossi & co don't satisfy your cultural appetite (and what's wrong with you?), then you can at least take your pick from this lot...

Luke Leighfield
Wednesday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £5
Piano-based pop from the globe-trotting 22-year-old, in support of his recently release pay-what-you-like download album Have You Got Heart?
Also playing Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh on Thursday

Findo Gask, Popolo
Saturday @ Dukes Corner / 8pm / £5
Glasgow's deranged electronic pop purveyors ply their trade at the Dukes on Saturday, with support from highly rated Popolo. Bring your dancing shoes.

Dividing the Line, Proceed, Paradian
Sunday @ Dexters / 8pm / £6
A night of screamo-emo action at Dexter's as part of the 'Fezant is Present Tour'. There will be shredding riffs (and shredded fringes).

Trampoline All Day Event: Mitchell Museum, Lyons, Jonnie Common, Debutant, The Scottish Enlightenment, Jill Leighton, Esperi, Lady North, Conquering Animal Sound
Saturday @ Wee Red Bar / 2pm / £5 (£3)
Over the past few months we have recommended no fewer than six of the acts on this all-dayer from Trampoline, so all that's left to say is get down there if you want to hear some of the best new music in Scotland. Simple really.

Hey Enemy, Gatechien, The Fatalists
Monday @ Sneaky Petes / 7pm / £4
Post-punk beats from London's Hey Enemy on tour with twisted French duo Gatechien. Support from local noiseniks The Fatalists
Also at The Tunnels, Aberdeen on Sunday

The Pineapple Chunks, The Leg
Tuesday @ Wee Red Bar / 7pm / free
You'd be hard pressed to find a more gloriously ramshackle, insane gig than this eccentric pairing of Edinburgh bands.

**UtR's gig of the week**
The Twilight Sad
Tuesday @ Voodoo Rooms / 7.30pm / SOLD OUT
Fresh from taking on the USA yet again, the strangely uplifting home-grown miserablists play a pre-Christmas show. If you have a ticket, enjoy, if you don't, too bad.
Also playing Nice'n'Sleazy, Glasgow on Wednesday

Little Comets
Wednesday @ Cab Vol / 7pm / £7
Recent Columbia signings Little Comets bring their major label alt-pop up the road from Newcastle, with support from local indie-rockers The Debuts.

Pulled Apart By Horses, Taking Chase
Wednesday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £6
Energetic and highly-rated hardcore from Leeds' Pulled Apart By Horses with support from Edinburgh's own melodic rockers Taking Chase. Lots of ruckus in one very small room.

Hardcore Christmas Party: The Colour Pink Is Gay, Corpses, Shields Up, Hey Vampires, Fights & Fires
Friday @ Bannermans / 8pm / £6
Good value hardcore punk rock christmas bonanza featuring some of Scotland's freshest talent, plus Worcester's Fights and Fires.
Also at Nice N Sleazy in Glasgow on Thursday 17th

The Phantom Band, Lord Cutglass, Sparrow and the Workshop
Saturday @ The Arches / 7pm / £10
Chemikal Underground double whammy as the Phantom Band celebrate having one of the albums of 2009 in Checkmate Savage.

Remember Remember, Happy Particles, Cheer
Saturday @ CCA / 8pm / £4
The lovely Remember Remember wants to say Merry Christmas - and how better than to share beautiful looping tinkly tunes in a party with the equally pretty Happy Particles.

eagleowl, Woodenbox, Withered Hand
Monday @ 13th Note / 9pm / £tbc
E(e)agleowl have a very nice new single called 'Sleep the Winter' which they are launching in Glasgow on Monday. Dan of Withered Hand and Ali of Woodenbox are both keeping it solo in their support slots.

Paper Planes, Peter Parker, Symbolics
Thursday @ Pollokshields Burgh Hall / 8pm / £3
Lucky Number Nine and Say Dirty records team up for a Christmas piss-up in the southside - with UtR-loved Paper Planes and added DJ action from Chris 'Beans' Geddes and Andrew 'Divine' Symington.

Panda Su, Kid Canaveral, The Darien Venture, Tokyo Knife Attack
Thursday @ 13th Note / 9pm / £tbc
Those Glasgow PodcART chaps have good taste, eh? And not just because it's similar to ours. Proceeds from this festive frenzy go to the Yorkhill hospital Christmas fund - which should give you a warm seasonal glow.

Big Ned, Nacional, Black Jash, If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now
Friday @ Captain's Rest / 8pm / £1
"Doom'n'roll" Stooges-esque topless cowboy fun from Big Ned, for the Green Door studios birthday bash.

Words: Craig Dickson, Elaine Liddle

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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Under the Radar podcast #6

Podcast #6Christmas. It might be chilly outside but it's hardly the coolest time of the year is it? We over-indulge in party snacks, strange, once-yearly liqueurs (eggnog?!) and belt-busting meals, before battening down the hatches on our little cocoons of reliable family customs, TV drowse-athons and enough lighting effects to melt Greenland. In short, the carving knife is all that's cutting edge about Yule-tide.

So it pleases us at UtR to know that the young hipsters and hipstresses of the Scottish music scene are equally predictable at this time of the year. Don't believe us?

Well, Billy caught up with a quintet of his favourite music makers for some festive banter, and was treated along the way to a poorly executed version of The Waitresses' Christmas Wrapping, a shameless plug for Terry's Chocolate Orange and the earth-shatteringly weird coincidence that two separate musos both long for one of those tiny screwdriver sets in their Christmas cracker.

Panda Su, French Wives, Conquering Animal Sound, Dead Boy Robotics and Cancel the Astronauts... we're looking at you.

We also asked a few more of our favourite acts of 2009 to contribute either Christmas-themed - or just plain new - songs, and eagleowl, The Last Battle, There Will Be Fireworks and Tokyo Knife Attack duly obliged.

Again, the sound quality isn't perfect, but rest assured that top of our list for Santa this year is some professional recording gear. Hope you enjoy it anyway...

Play: Podcast #6

Running order:
00:54: There Will Be Fireworks: In Excelius Deo
07:10: Interview: Panda Su
10:32: Panda Su - Eric Is Dead
15:44: Tokyo Knife Attack - Invisible Sister
20:15: Interview: French Wives
23:30: French Wives - Me vs Me
28:04: eagleowl - Sleep the Winter
34:09: Interview: Conquering Animal Sound
37:48: Conquering Animal Sound - Where The Wild Things Are
42:22: Interview: Dead Boy Robotics
44:31: Death Ohh Eff - Me and Fift (Dead Boy Robotics remix)
48:22: The Last Battle - Once Upon A Boxing Day
54:14: Interview: Cancel The Astronauts
57:27: Cancel the Astronauts - Funny For A Girl

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Podcast: Billy Hamilton, Nick Mitchell

Previous UtR podcasts

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Radar recommends: 20 - 26 Nov

Findo Gask
[Findo Gask: bringing their own version of Crufts to Sleazy's on Saturday]

If you live in certain parts of the country, venturing out to a gig is probably the last thing on your agenda, nevermind the fact that you'd need to build some kind of Noah's Arc contraption to go anywhere. But for the rest of us, if you don't mind the whipping wind and lashing rain (and living in Scotland you should be used to it by now) here's this week's gig guide...


The Slipper Room – Mr Choade’s Wild Ride
Monday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £5
Something a bit different for Aberdeen on a Monday night. The driving force behind the New York Burlesque scene brings a house band made up of members of Belle & Sebastien, the Vaselines and Teenage Fanclub.

Bo Ningen, Amber Pilot, Sarah J Tingle
Wednesday @ The Tunnels / 8pm / £5
Japanese punk rock that The Observer once described as being somewhere between wolves and Nintendo. Supported ably by the quite exciting Amber Pilot and the brilliantly versatile Sarah J Tingle.

Fat Hippy Showcase
Friday @ Café Drummonds / 7.30pm / £3
Local label Fat Hippy put on another night of local talent made up of acts on their roster or who’ve impressed them suitably when using their fine recording studio. Hardest working man in Aberdeen and possessor of a fine voice Nicky Powell headlines with support from Turning 13 and the Marionettes.


Charity Baw
Saturday @ Roxy Art House / 7pm / £10
Raising more cash for Oxfam, this packed line-up of talent includes The Real Tuesday Weld, Aberfeldy, Withered Hand, The Parsonage, Come On Gang!, Big Ned, Little Eskimos and Benni Hemm Hemm. Radio 1's Vic Galloway, The Pictish Trail, On the Fly and Paul Vickers will be DJing. Optional fancy dress theme: Ball Boys and Belles of the Ball.

Field Music, Snide Rhythms, Epic 26
Sunday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £6.50
Acclaimed experimental indie from North East England.
Also playing Captain's Rest, Glasgow on Saturday.

Good Shoes, Copy Haho, Jesus H Foxx
Thursday @ Electric Circus / 7pm / £8
Copy Haho are cadging a lift around the UK from this London band in November, and for their Edinburgh show they've booked recent UtR stars Jesus H Foxx.
Also playing King Tuts, Glasgow on Tuesday.

Futuristic Retro Champions, Vendor Defendor, Death Trap City
Friday @ Sneaky Pete's / 7pm / £4
Brighten up your Freitag with indie-pop from the headlining Champs.

Tango in the Attic, Pose Victorious
Friday @ Cabaret Voltaire / 7pm / £5
Upbeat indie-pop in the vein of Vampire Weekend - with Fife accents.


**UtR's gig of the week**
Crufts: Yellow Magic Orchestra Tribute
Saturday @ Nice'n'Sleazy / 7.30pm / £tbc
Findo Gask's residency pays homage to the Japanese act, with sets from UtR favourite Tokyo Knife Attack and Adult Emergency.

Aurora Stands In Snow, Conquering Animal Sound
Saturday @ The 13th Note / 9pm / £tbc
If you missed their early and curtailed Oxjam show, here's a chance to get acquainted with the understated allure of Conquering Animal Sound. Aurora Stands In Snow seem to be kindred spirits, judging by their MySpace.

The Little Kicks
Sunday @ Nice'n'Sleazy / 7.30pm / £tbc
Aberdonian indie-pop band who we recently interviewed on our Oxjam podcast while inebriated.

Burnt Island, Rick Redbeard, The Starlets, Autistic Angus
Thursday @ Captain's Rest / 8pm / £tbc
No, their not a tribute to the Fife seaside town. They're the band fronted by novelist Rodge Glass. Support from Phantom Band singer Rick Redbeard and a mystery act with a very un-PC name.

The Pastels, 1990s, Golden Grrrls
Friday @ King Tuts / 8.30pm / £12.50
Glasgow indie stalwarts bring their twee fare to Tuts.

Words: 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, 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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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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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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Monday, 20 July 2009

Trampoline: fest within a fest

The Kays Lavelle
[The Kays Lavelle: playing the Wee Red on 7 Aug]

To counteract the imminent invasion of London-luvvies and pitiful art-school drop-outs, those thoughtful folk at Trampoline have laid on a series of exquisite August gigs at Edinburgh’s Wee Red.

With a roster that includes sonic-deities like Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Conquering Animal Sound, The Kays Lavelle and Found’s Ziggy Campbell, the four show run is a tune-strewn who’s who of Scotland’s finest melody makers.

Trampoline organiser Euan McMeeken says of the event: “I thought it would be great if Trampoline could be part of the festival (in a way) and push local bands onto a wider audience than normal. The way it's worked out, you get the four Trampoline shows on 7, 8, 14 and 15 [of August] so it's going to be a wicked two weekends of music for sure.”

McMeeken continues: “It’s very difficult for local promoters to find venues during the festival. As a result, local artists often miss out on good gigs during a period where the potential to be heard is massive. I've always thought it's wrong that the festival doesn't cater enough for the people that drive this city's music scene during the rest of the year.”

Spread across two weekends and costing just five of your finest pounds, Trampoline’s August showing offers a modicum of integrity within the Fringe’s wallet-emptying ‘get ‘em in, turn ‘em out’ philosophy.

Still don’t believe us? Well, we’ll leave the final word to the man who knows best:

“People should come firstly because the line-ups are great. But they should also come and support their local music scene,” McMeeken says. “People always bemoan the fact that there’s no local shows during August. I know there’s a lot on offer during the festival, but it would be great to think that the Trampoline shows will be on the minds of people when they are trying to decide what to do. They won’t be disappointed.”

Tickets for each show at the Wee Red are £5 and can be bought on the night.

The full Trampoline line-up is:

7 Aug: Wiseblood Industries showcase: Adam Stafford, The Radiation Line and The Kays Lavelle
8 Aug: Jonnie Common, Conquering Animal Sound and one act TBC
14 Aug: Ziggy Campbell, Golden Ghost and Yusuf Azak
15 Aug: Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Lovers Turn To Monsters and Shenandoah Davis.

Words: Billy Hamilton

Spotted any other musical gems at this year’s Fringe? Let us know below...

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