Record Store Day 2015 live

tcr_180415_542s A belated round-up of MPT’s Saturday in Edinburgh for Record Store Day 2015.

Our decision to head over was a fairly late one so we left in a bit of a hurry to get through in time for an afternoon’s record shopping and live music.

Mrs MPT didn’t fancy the hike down (and ultimately back up) Leith Walk, so I left her to her own devices and headed down to Elvis Shakespeare for the Cathode Ray’s set. And it’s fair to say that Elvis Shakespeare is further down Leith Walk than I’d expected!

Once there, the band were terrific,playing eight songs mixing material from the excellent new LP ‘Infinite Variety’ with early singles.

There’s something sonically appealing to me about these sort of electric sets. It was certainly a bit lo-fi but you can really pick up a great vibe from being so close to the action. By the end of the show there were more folk outside the shop than actually in it!

With limited time, I confess I didn’t really have that much chance to explore all ES’s delights but did establish that, whilst the majority of the stock is second hand, there is a local acts section near the rear with new CDs and vinyl.

Having idiotically failed to pick up cash on the way down I was only able to scrape together enough coppers for a Geek Maggot Bingo E.P. I suspect I’ll spend more next time.

So back up the hill to the city centre and after hooking up with Mrs MPT again we headed to a busy Underground Solu’shn where, cash I acquired, I got a hold of the two main reasons for going through, the Tuff Love/Lazy Day split single as well as the Randolph’s Leap live LP.

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The intended live act was Tuff Love and it was just as well we were in plenty of time because they were started (and finished) before the anticipated start time! Their three songs set was all too brief but it was nevertheless a bit of a revelation to discover how well their songs transfer to an acoustic setting.

The records do revolve around Julie’s electric guitar normally but they sounded even dreamier and (appropriately enough on a sunny day) more summery than on record in this format.

With a bit of a gap til Adam from Randolph Leap’s set at the same shop, we had time to drop in on Avalanche’s new set-up at the Tron. After getting the Pixies’ ‘Doolittle live’ set it was back down Cockburn Street for a bit of a rake through the relevant sections of the racks at US where I didn’t manage to spend any more cash (although it’s probably more accurate to say that I resisted the temptation to do so.)

The appointed hour (or so we thought) came and went so it appeared we’d totally missed Mr Ross. Then 10 minutes late he arrived, with Pictish Trail in tow, somewhat breathless from a cross city yomp from Voxbox. Turned out in fact that he wasn’t due on until 6 pm which meant that after a quick chat we had to abandon the shop to go and catch our train back over the bridge.

So a disappointing end to the day but nevertheless a good afternoon out.

Here’s the Cathode Ray performing ‘Don’t Waste Your Words’ from the new LP live at Elvis Shakespeare on Saturday:

Give Me A Song Mate? – PAWS live

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PAWS – The Cool Cat Club, Beat Generator Live, Dundee – Friday 17th April 2015

Returning late from a family occasion I gave serious consideration to not going to this show on Friday not least because I knew that I was going to miss all of the new look Creeping Ivies set.

But even just seeing PAWS turned out to be a good decision because they were in absolutely blistering form.

I confess that I’ve never quite liked the records as much as I’d like to and the live shows are the reason why. For me the songs just come to life in a live environment and they seem particularly well suited to a club such as Beat Generator Live.

In just under an hour PAWS battered through songs old and new. Whilst the old favourites got great receptions it was actually the frantic new tune which encouraged the biggest mosh pit of the evening. The other song announced as new sounded like a bit of a change of direction for the band pushing them in a more restrained anthemic direction.

So they may have been the only band I managed to see but they were definitely worth the effort.

Other than missing the Ivies, the evening’s other big disappointment was the turnout – down noticeably on PAWS’ last appearance at the Cool Cat Club. Certainly there were other shows on in the city which will undoubtedly have diluted the audience but it’s becoming something of a depressing pattern – certainly at shows I’ve been to in the last 12 months or so.

Always A Thrill – PAWS interview

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2014 was quite a year for PAWS. After their debut Cool Cat Club performance in January, the band released their second album Youth Culture Forever on Fat Cat Records to great acclaim. Subsequently they dedicated themselves to thoroughly touring the arse off the record.

With demos recorded for album number three already, the band make a welcome return to the Cool Cat Club on Friday (17th April) with a show at Beat Generator Live.

Ahead of the show Andy caught up with Phillip from the band to look back on an eventful 12 months.

Andy: Hello how are things with you?

Phillip: “Hi! Things are very well, thank you!”

How did it feel to release your second album Youth Culture Forever last year and how do you feel it was received?

“Exciting. It was really exciting as we worked so hard making the album. Deciding to produce the record ourselves was a little scary at times because we felt a deal of expectation and pressure leading up to it coming out. But I’m so glad we just stuck true to the vision we had for the record and had faith in ourselves.

“It felt like it was received really well, even better than the first which was such a lovely feeling. We are really proud of it.”

You toured the album pretty extensively. What were the highlights of gigs in the wake of the album being released?

“Indeed. We toured for more than half of last year promoting YCF. All of it was such a highlight for me. Our US tour with our close friends We Are Scientists was such a fantastic experience.

“It was our fourth tour of the US so we all felt like a lot of cities were like another home as we’ve come to know so many places there.

“That tour was full of memorable moments. Hanging out with Ian Mackaye at Dischord House was a very, very special moment for the three of us.”

How do you find that audiences differ in different countries – if at all?

“I feel lucky because the overall majority of people that are at the shows we play are so sweet and kind. It always baffles me how lucky we are to have the fans that we have.

“Audiences vary place to place, naturally you know? But amidst all the subtle differences it always stands out to us that the people that come to see us and stick around to talk to us after are among the nicest people I’ve ever met. So grateful.”

Are you still as excited about playing live as before? Does it ever feel like a chore?

“Gets more exciting every time for me. That’s why we all play music, especially in this band. We all love playing our music live more than anything. Never a chore, always a thrill.”

Here’s the official video for ‘Tongues’ from that second album:

PAWS play the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live on Friday (17th) with support from the Creeping Ivies. More information here.

Advance tickets are available from Groucho’s or online here.

 

It’s All That We Have That Remains – The Cathode Ray LP review

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The Cathode Ray’s self titled debut was one of the unexpected surprises for MPT of 2012. Initially a collaboration between Jeremy Thoms and Paul Haig ‘The Cathode Ray’ was an Edinburgh take on New York music in the late 70s, both post punk and dance. However the delay of 6 years between the debut single and the album didn’t prepare me for quite how good it was, not least because Haig had left the band in the interim.

Fast forward three years and the Cathode Ray, now a regular quartet also including Steve Fraser (guitar), Neil Baldwin (bass) and David Mack (drums), are on the point of releasing their second album ‘Infinite Variety’ on Edinburgh’s ever reliable Stereogram Recordings. And, you know what? I reckon that it’s even better than the debut.

With Haig long gone, the new LP is based solely around the songwriting of Thoms. But even if a lot of the core influences remain pertinent, ‘Infinite Variety’ is no re-tread of the debut instead venturing far beyond the confines of the first record.

The press release might give a blow by blow indication of what to expect, but to be honest, I think that does the band something of a disservice. Listened to in the round, ‘Infinite Variety’ proves beyond doubt that the Cathode Ray are forging their own identity.

This is, perhaps, best illustrated by the fact that the record is book-ended by two tracks which share similar expansive structures unlike anything on the first record, albeit each is different in tone.

LP opener ‘Backed Up’ leads with scratchy guitars and minimal bass for two whole verses before exploding into a euphoric climax. The closing ‘Saving Grace’ kicks off with a gorgeous acoustic section before finding redemption in a slightly unsettling conclusion which reminds me of nothing less than dEUS’s ‘Dream Sequence #1’.

Anyone looking for the wired post punk guitars of the first record will still find them in abundance. Single ‘Resist’ owes as much to 70s Wire as to any New York influence whilst ‘Buck The Trend’ ploughs a similar furrow but adds a playful organ as the song picks up pace.

‘Buck The Trend’ would be one obvious choice as a follow-up single to ‘Resist’ but then so would the concise ‘Don’t Waste Your Words’ with its off beat guitars or the uplifting ‘This Force of Nature’. Which rather neatly illustrates that the Cathode Ray don’t lack for great tunes.

The Moroder-like intro and electro underpinning of the choruses mark out ‘Eureka Moment!’ as IV’s obvious dance track. It’s perhaps a shame then that it’s the one song that’s a bit of a disappointment as it doesn’t quite match up to the first record’s dance anthem ‘All My Highs’.

Across the diversity of material on display what ultimately really unifies the songs as the Cathode Ray is Thoms’s knack for a memorable chorus and the consistently inventive backing provided by Messrs Fraser, Baldwin and Mack.

These guys may deserve the veterans tag but, believe me, ‘Infinite Variety’ is an exhilarating roller-coaster ride through a multifaceted post-punk landscape.

‘Infinite Variety’ is released on Monday 20th April on Stereogram Recordings – pre-order it here.

The Cathode Ray launch the album with a special hometown show on Thursday 14th May at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh. Tickets are available here.

Before that the band play a special show at Elvis Shakespeare on Leith Walk, also in Edinburgh, for Record Store Day on Saturday 18th April.

Nothing on the Radio To Inspire Me – The Creeping Ivies interview

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The Creeping Ivies are one of my favourite bands (writes Andy Wood) and I’ve followed them with interest since their debut gig through several singles and E.P.’s and two excellent albums Stay Wild and Ghost World. The records are both absolutely fantastic, stripped down, primal but immensely tuneful as well. If you like your music raw and stripped down (and why shouldn’t you) then I can’t recommend these records highly enough.

Stay Wild captures the energy of their live set impeccably while being more than just an instant snap of the songs live while Ghost World began to push the sound into new places while still being recognisably The Creeping Ivies. Prior to the release of the second album stand-up drummer Duncan Destruction departed for pastures overseas and the album came out without much promotion or live shows which is a great shame as it is such a great record.

After a long period of silence and a move to Glasgow, Becca Murray added a drummer and bassist and launched The Creeping Ivies Mark II with shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh earlier this year which was cause for celebration around these parts. And even better is the fact that there is more to come with a new E.P. and further gigs including a return to The Cool Cat Club this month. So to celebrate, I interviewed lead Ivy, Becca Murray.

Hello, how are things with you?

“Things are pretty good, thanks for asking.”

There has been a bit of hiatus and a few changes to The Creeping Ivies line-up in the last year or so. Can you talk us through them please?

“Yeah, after Duncan left the band I knew I wanted a break just to do other things for a while and sort out what I wanted in terms of moving forward with everything. I moved to Glasgow last summer and didn’t do any music for about six months but I knew by the end of the year that I was itching to get back out there. I advertised and found a new drummer and bass player and began rehearsals right after the New Year and I’ve not looked back since.

How, if at all, has expanding the line-up changed things musically?

“Well, it’s changed to a degree in terms of there’s now a bass player and also the drummer plays a full kit so it’s a fuller sound but with the same sensibilities. I decided to write a whole new set for the band as it felt right, like a clean slate, so we already have around ten new songs. I feel like I’m constantly experimenting with song writing and varied influences anyway so I just go along creating instinctively. The rhythm section is really strong so I’m happy with it.

You’ve recently started gigging again with shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh. How did they go down and how does it feel to be playing live again?

“The first gig felt quite strange as it was just a few weeks after meeting and practicing but as soon as we had played it felt like we were a proper band, it all just gelled. Also, receiving great feedback from the audience was really encouraging. The Lux Lives gig was also great fun doing some rock n roll covers together.

Has moving to Glasgow changed things for you as both a song-writer and as a band?

“I don’t think it’s changed me as a song writer, only I seem to be writing more songs than ever at the moment. I generally feel more settled and focused and have an even stronger, renewed enthusiasm. I suppose it feels a little like a new band starting out and feeling excitement for the possibilities of the future.”

The title track to your second album Ghost World is being used in the soundtrack to a zombie movie, the spoof, The Walking Deceased. How did that come about and how do you feel about it?

“The director contacted me last year asking to use the song as he had recently discovered us and loved the album. It was an honour and quite exciting especially with being an unsigned band. One of the actors (Dave Sheridan) is in the film, who’s also in one of my favourite films ( Ghost World funnily enough) and he also sent me a message saying he loved our music which was really cool. I’ve not seen the film yet but it looks like good fun if you’re into zombies!

Stay Wild was released on the U.S. label Deadbeat but you released Ghost World yourselves. Why was that?

“Well, Ghost World was originally meant to be released on Dead Beat too – it’s part of the reason we recorded it. At the last minute the label pulled out and decided not to release it so they let us down with that. It was just before Duncan was due to leave, etc, so I knew we wouldn’t be able to really promote it as a band or anything anyway. It was just awkward timing which is a shame as I’m really proud of the album and hoping at some point to possibly re-release in physical form.

You’ve just released an E.P. of your solo project, Gold Furs. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

“Gold Furs is the name I use for solo, mostly acoustic stuff I do. I played a few gigs as Gold Furs before forming the Creeping Ivies and these were just a few acoustic songs I’d recorded myself around 2010. I’m quite fond of them so decided to publish them on Bandcamp. There may be a follow up with more recordings when I have time in between Ivies stuff.

What current bands and music rock your world at the moment?

“I try to listen to new music a lot and enjoy new mixes and podcasts of up and coming rock n roll and garage bands but mostly I’m stuck in the past. I’ve been listening to a lot of Dead Moon at the moment, Andre Williams, Max Richter and compilations of 20s and 30s jazz and blues.

Any plans for new releases from The Creeping Ivies in the coming months?

“We’ve just signed to Glasgow label ‘Flowers in the Dustbin’ and will release our next EP with them. We’re recording three new tracks at Green Door at the end of April and an EP will be released later in the year with a new video too. I’m really excited about the new songs and can’t wait to get them out there.”

Anything else you would like to add?

“Respect your parents and follow your dreams.”

From the Ghost World LP, here’s ‘What Would Joey Ramone Do?”:

Ghost World’ is available from the band’s Bandcamp.

The new look Creeping Ivies support PAWS at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Friday 17th April 2015. More info here – tickets for the show from Groucho’s in Dundee or online.

 

Back to Nature – Henry and Fleetwood interview

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One of the early treats of 2015 has been ‘On The Forest Floor’ the debut E.P. from Henry and Fleetwood a duo comprising Martin Henry from De Rosa and Gillian Fleetwood from the State Broadcasters.

The E.P. is the first substantial work Martin’s been involved with since his solo LP in 2011 and interestingly, it’s perhaps closer in tone to his previous work than the live performance we saw at Randolph’s Leap’s ICDTTM3 the other week. With just the two of them Martin and Gill’s played with a stately air of grace which perhaps owes more to Gill’s other band the State Broadcasters than to De Rosa.

On record however the extra instrumentation lends an extra scope to the songs whilst still recalling the quieter parts of Martin’s back catalogue. Overall though there’s a real sense of serenity in the songwriting.

There’s a strong connection in the songs to nature, explicit in the song titles with even the instrumental called ‘Timber’. Musically, second track ‘Forestry’ may be the key to the E.P. – the early part of the song is hushed but, with layered parts added throughout, it builds to a climax.

After their performance at ICDTTM3, I spoke to Martin and Gill about the forthcoming record and their plans for the near future.

First off we talked about how the collaboration had come about. Although they’d both moved in similar Glasgow music circles for a number of years, it took a Danish pianist (and a Scottish sound engineer) to introduce them as Gill explains:

“We’ve got quite a lot of mutual acquaintances but we didn’t know each other at all until we were touring with Agnes Obel.

“Andy Bush, who’s also in De Rosa, was her touring sound guy which was how I’d ended up touring with Agnes – through Andy.

“When we came to tour in the UK, we were thinking it was all going to be a bit of a slog. In general in Europe you’re much better looked after, the venues are beautiful, the staff are really nice but touring’s harder in the UK. So she was kind of dreading it.

“Andy suggested Martin and he came on board which was just brilliant because he’s got such a great way about him and just turned it into a much better thing than it would have been without him.

“He took the reigns as tour DJ and just repetitively nailed it. On tour you get these difficult dull moments or when you’ve played a good show and he would just have the right song. This guy just knows his music and it was absolutely brilliant.”

Martin also has positive memories of the tours in the U.K. and on mainland Europe with Agnes.

“It was a really nice experience getting to sleep between gigs rather than driving hundreds of miles. Gill was there and we bonded over music tastes, tastes in alcohol and stuff. It was good.

“We really just made friends and talked about working together.”

For a while, with Martin based in Sunderland and Gill busy with other projects, the opportunity to play music in the same room didn’t present itself. But Martin says that the willingness to collaborate wasn’t dimmed.

“We kept in touch and we realised that there was a possibility there that we could both explore areas that we hadn’t had a chance to in our bands.”

Gill agrees:

“We both had quite a lot of other plates spinning. I do quite a lot of traditional Scottish folk music and I write as well in a string group, more chamber music.

“So time is tricky but we’re both really dedicated to it now and this year we’re both putting it at the front of what we’re doing.”

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With a working relationship established an unusual opportunity presented itself as Martin recalls.

“There’s an estate up in the Morvern peninsula called Drimnin Estate. The people that own the estate had some lottery funding to develop an old chapel on the grounds that they would get various musicians and artists in to use the space.

“Up until that point, when we won the commission, they’d only had classical musicians so we were the first different act that they’d had.

“Basically you get the use of the church for the week to create and to play and rehearse then on the Friday night the whole community comes to watch what you’ve done and it was great. There were people of all ages and it was a lovely atmosphere.”

With this experience behind them, they both have definite ideas on how they’ve benefited from each other’s perspective.

Martin: “For me it was getting to look at traditional music and connecting with Scottish music a bit more.

“With Gill, as someone who’s been immersed in tradition and trad folk, she was maybe looking to push the boundaries a wee bit and how she could use her background and the harp a bit differently.”

Gill: “We’re both really into environment and how that shapes what we do. While we’re from really different backgrounds there is a lot of crossover so I think that finding those areas of common ground has become really interesting for us both because you think you kind of know stuff then you realise that you don’t! You meet someone who appears to be really different to you but in fact is coming at it from a different angle which is really inspiring and really refreshing as well.”

Martin also feels that working with Gill rather than the all male members of De Rosa has impacted on his writing.

“It’s a wee bit more optimistic but it’s maybe more romantic as well. I don’t know if it’s working with the male/female thing and I can be more relaxed and softer in my lyrics.”

Place has always been a vital component of Martin’s songwriting as reflected on the two De Rosa albums to date but, for ‘On The Forest Floor’, Martin reckons that his input takes inspiration from a different type of place.

“I think it’s more of an imagined place. It’s nothing new, but the yearning for wilderness and maybe the state of mind that you find in places that are rural and less populated. They’re probably the experiences that most connect you with the real world when you’re in places like that with close friends and loved ones.

“But it’s also about the imaginative potential and the poetic potential of those places.”

In terms of the new E.P. the material was well under way before the Drimnin adventure as Martin recounts.

“Gill and I had done a wee bit in Gargleblast studio in Hamilton and a wee bit at home. So the E.P. was kind of half developed at that point and we wrote a lot of new material there which is starting to be developed. The E.P. was finished after that.”

Gill is very proud of the record but feels that it’s just a starting point for Henry & Fleetwood.

“It’s good to get it out as it’s been finished for ages, as is so often the case with these things but I like it very much. I hadn’t listened to it for ages until it came back in print and I stuck it on and thought ‘this is cool’.

“It’s an interesting little nugget because originally those four songs were going to be the first four songs of the album. But the new stuff you heard tonight is quite different and is evolving. So it made sense to do this as a little nugget and the album will have a different feel.”

Although there’s an instrumental on the E.P., the fact that they played three instrumentals at the CCA doesn’t mean that H&F are going to be an alt folk take on Godspeed as Martin explains:

“Most of the stuff comes out of instrumentals, out of jams, messing about with loops and improvising. The vocals are written later so some of the stuff you’ve heard tonight might end up having vocals. We’re presenting stuff that’s really a work in progress at the moment as well.”

‘On The Forest Floor’ is coming out on Olive Grove Records and both are delighted about that if initially they didn’t think that it was likely, as Gill remembers.

“I’ve known Lloyd (Meredith) since the State Broadcasters album. At first I was like “I’m a music industry cynic, what does he want from us? Surely he can’t work for nothing!” But he really is that nice, he’s a total champ! He’s been super, super good to us.

“I sent him the E.P. because I knew that he’d like to hear it. But I also knew that he’s got so many things on his plate I didn’t expect him to come back and say that he’d like to work with us. So when he did, I kind of fell off my chair! But that’s how he works, if he’s into it, he’s into it.”

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Martin was equally pleased to work with Olive Grove.

“Gill’s band had worked with them and I know Lloyd well. I’m always really impressed with the effort that he puts in for his acts. I was just really happy that he wanted to work with us and I knew that he would do a great job with the E.P.”

With a record to promote, Martin and Gill have a series of live dates in the next couple of months, starting with a Glasgow launch for the E.P. which Martin is looking forward to.

“The launch is at the Glad Café is on Saturday the 11th. It’ll be pretty much the same set-up as tonight with just the two of us with maybe a couple of new things thrown in.”

The launch is the start of a run of dates as Gill describes.

“On the Sunday afternoon (12th) we’re doing a free little gig in the Braw Wee Emporium in the Barras Art and Design Centre at the back of the Barrowlands, which is my friend’s shop. Jennifer McGlone runs Glow Arts who do lots of really fantastic community arts projects. She also stocks an amazing selection of CDs.

“In May we’re playing at Brew at the Bog up in Inverness which is my hometown so I’m very excited about that. I’m doing that with the State Broadcasters as well so that’s going to be a fun weekend.

“Then we’re doing a fund raiser for Scottish Women’s Aid, I think, in May (at Summerhall in Edinburgh). That’s going to be really fun, we’ve to learn a cover of a song by a girl band. I don’t know what we’re going to do but I’m championing maybe ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’. So we’ve got a few irons in the fire just now. “

Martin explains that the run of dates is likely to be the last time that Henry & Fleetwood will be in the public eye for a while although, tantalisingly, he raises the prospect of playing live with others.

“After this burst of live stuff up until May, we’ll be concentrating on recording for a few months. We’re going to book some studio time quite soon to get the album done properly.

“But during that time when I’m recording with Gill I’ll hopefully be getting out with De Rosa and playing with those guys.”

It turns out that the aforementioned Braw Wee Emporium is more than just a shop for Henry & Fleetwood as Gill explains.

“We spend one night a week in the shop writing and we sit there and rehearse. It’s a great space because it’s really quiet. We’re trying to write this really quiet music and it’s good for us to break out of the normal rehearsal room things.

“I think it’s just nice to be in a different environment from the standard rock set-up where there’s other guys shouting and there’s macho stuff going on.”

‘On The Forest Floor’ is released on Monday 13th April by Olive Grove Records. You can pre-order the E.P. here or purchase it at one of the following live appearances:

Saturday 11th April – The Glad Café, Glasgow (E.P. launch) with support from Mayor Stubbs and Randolph’s Leap (solo) [More info]

Sunday 12th – The Braw Wee Emporium, Glasgow [More info]

Saturday 2nd/3rd May (day to be confirmed) – Brew at the Bog, Bogbain Farm, Inverness [more info]

Saturday 9th May – Summerhall, Edinburgh – Teen Canteen presents ‘The Girl Effect’ for Scottish Women’s Aid [more info]

Here’s the duo’s live performance of the E.P.’s title track on STV Glasgow’s ‘The Riverside Show’ the other night: