Neon Waltz are playing Beat Generator Live! In Dundee even as I type so this is really not much of a plug. Having seen their last show there, there’s no doubt that they have a lot of potential and I’d have liked to see how they’ve grown since last year.
If I don’t get to one of the shows, then my biggest regret will be missing the Stereogram Revue show – on Wednesday(2nd) in Edinburgh at the Voodoo Rooms and Thursday (3rd) in Glasgow at the CCA – both promoted by Sounds in the Suburbs.
The shows will showcase just about the entire Stereogram roster including big MPT favourites James King & the Lonewolves and the Cathode Ray as well as more recent discoveries such as Lola in Slacks, Roy Moeller and the very wonderful St Christopher Medal (more of whom hopefully in the not too distant future).
Thursday also sees Book Group make their Perth debut at the Green Room before a show at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on Friday. New single ‘The Late Show’ is out on download on Friday so keep an eye on their Bandcamp.
Finally on Friday 4th Randolph’s Leap return to Edinburgh for a show at Summerhall with support from Martha Ffion. With their new LP well advanced (I think) you should be able to hear a selection of songs from that record, some of which have already been played live.
Been a wee while since I enjoyed the full on Leap experience and given that MPK2 can attend this and it’s at the weekend, it might be the likeliest show I’ll get to this week.
Book Group / Supermoon / Hans Klammer – Electric Circus, Edinburgh – Thursday 19th November 2015
So which Book Group show to go to in the run of dates to promote new single ‘The Late Show’? In the end Edinburgh won out for the chance to finally see a Supermoon performance but I’m not going to deny that it was attractive to keep the option of also going to the Perth show next week.
First up though were Hans Klammer whose performance was a mix of triumph and disaster.
A triumph because of the music – in particular the second tune, an electro anthem of some class. The third song was also a triumph in the face of a complete equipment meltdown (the aforementioned disaster). Yet out of adversity the singer provided a terrific vocal performance which resembled Rick Redbeard.
An inspired anecdote about a squash tournament and a completely a capella vocal whilst the band packed away their gear behind him provided an unorthodox but satisfying conclusion to the set.
Probably not the way they intended to do so but unquestionably they made new friends.
By contrast Neil Pennycook’s solo Supermoon set was crisis free with the drama instead reserved for the music.
On this occasion Neil’s set was somewhat downbeat straying as close to folk as he’s done in a while. Of course whether or not this represented an accurate picture of what a full band Supermoon would sound like is highly debatable. But it was still a compelling performance.
What’s unquestionable is that with his singing and guitar playing few can match Neil’s intensity as a solo performer. I’m looking forward to following the next steps on his journey.
It was great to see Book Group playing another (nearly) hour long set in support of imminent digital single ‘The Late Show’ and they blasted through a dozen songs in that time with a real energy.
After tour dates down south the previous weekend, the set was clearly designed to be attention grabbing and aided by the Circus’s rather wild sound they certainly did that. So it was a loud show but none the worse for it (better that than too quiet).
Aside from the new single, perhaps the stand-out was ‘The Art of Underachieving’ the penultimate song in the set. It’s first half was as poppy as the set got before descending into a blizzard of guitars for the finale.
In amongst the up tempo numbers it was great to see ‘A Rough Wooing ‘ making a welcome return but by and large this was a dynamic fast paced performance.
Thursday demonstrated without doubt that they can now match the sort of quality over a dozen songs that they used to provide in half that time. Literally with songs to spare (and they even squeezed in a completely new tune).
Can’t wait for the album.
Book Group played:
1 Lowdown of a Loud Sound 2 Kickstart 3 Victory Lap 4 The Late Show 5 A Rough Wooing 6 Mayonnaise 7 Afterwards 8 Blister In The Sun 9 Year of the Cat 10 Actress/Model 11 The Art of Underachieving 12 Here Is Too Near
‘The Late Show’ is available on download from 4th December.
Book Group play
Perth, The Green Room – Thursday 3rd December
Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree – Friday 4th December
Mercury Rev / Nicole Atkins – The Art School, Glasgow
We’d rushed out to buy tickets for this show as soon it was announced, even before the new LP was out. And then I briefly wondered if we’d made a mistake. A little bit of context is needed to explain why.
Once upon a time Mercury Rev were my favourite live band bar none. But over the last 10 years or so with each record they’ve seemed less relevant to me. So it was a pleasant surprise when new album ‘The Light In You’ turned out to be their best since ‘All Is Dream’.
I always get a little bit worried when bands talk up their new record in terms of a recognised classic from the past but whilst ‘Deserter’s Songs’ seems to have been quoted a bit, if anything ‘The Light In You’ is the natural successor to ‘All Is Dream’.
At least half the songs on the record are really strong with ‘The Queen of Swans’ a classic that sounds exactly what you’d want from the Rev.
On the other hand, ‘Sunflower’ is as raucous a number as they’ve done in a couple of decades and ‘Rainy Day Record’ is one of the year’s classic pop songs.
So, adding in the band’s reputation as a brilliant live band, we headed out for (I think) my ninth Mercury Rev gig although only the second in 10 years, with higher expectations than I’d perhaps originally anticipated.
Opening act was Nicole Atkins a New Jersey girl with a big voice and reverb heavy guitar. She reckoned she had songs to depress us but she was definitely underselling herself more than a little. She closed with a cover of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ and that actually is a pretty fair representation of where her sound is at.
Other points of interest were that she tried to get the crowd to sing along to one tune and rather bizarrely she’s also married to a guy from Fife!
Jonathan, Grasshopper and co took to the stage to a backing tape which included themes from ‘The Queen of Swans’ which, sure enough, opened the set.
It was a massively impressive start with the live setting enhancing the tune and it started a run of songs, mixing new songs and old favourites, where they didn’t put a foot wrong. They also managed to spring some surprises along the way.
First of these was an admittedly gentle take on ‘Car Wash Hair’ (perhaps not that surprising since it saw service on the ‘Deserter’s Songs’ tour in 2011) but that was followed a couple of songs later by ‘Frittering’. ‘Frittering’!! Perhaps a little less dirgey than in the past hearing it again after all this time was a massive but pleasant shock.
‘You’re My Queen’ too surprised in demonstrating that the band retain the ability to transform pop songs into journeys into outer space with its extended psychedelic work-out.
For all that the old stuff was great, I should stress that throughout this section of the show the new songs more than held their own not least ‘Are You Ready?’.
But things dipped a little with ‘Diamonds’ the only tune culled from ‘The Secret Migration’, not an album I ever feel the need to go back to. It was immediately followed by the last new song of the night, ‘Central Park East’, not one of my favourites from the new record.
The finale though was special. ‘Holes’ is a stone cold classic and it was followed by a spooky ‘Tides of the Moon’ and an absolutely monstrous ‘Opus 40’ which ended as a blizzard of white noise. If anything this version was even fiercer than those in days of yore.
We got one encore, a fairly straight take on another classic from ‘Deserter’s Songs’ ‘Goddess on the Hiway’ and a wonderful ‘The Dark Is Rising’ although it perhaps teetered on the edge of overblown in its drawn out finale.
Even through the set stretched to 90 minutes I could have happily heard more particularly since there seemed to be some glaring omissions most notably ‘Rainy Day Record’. However that was our lot.
It was a great show but I’m still left a little disappointed that they didn’t play more of the new album. It would certainly be wrong to classify the Rev as a heritage act but the fact that they only played four songs from a strong new album was something of a disappointment.
Mercury Rev setlist
1 The Queen of Swans 2. The Funny Bird 3. Car Wash Hair 4. Autumn’s In The Air 5. Endlessly 6. Frittering 7. Are You Ready? 8. You’re My Queen 9. Diamonds 10. Central Park East 11. Holes 12. Tides of the Moon 13. Opus 40
14. Goddess on a Hiway 15. The Dark Is Rising
Note: I’ve seen two different versions of this online already but unless someone produces a recording of the show which proves to the contrary, I’m certain they didn’t play ‘Tonite It Shows’!
A brief look back on a very enjoyable Sunday evening.
I’m no afficiando of Vic Godard and Subway Sect but every time I’ve seen them they’ve put on a good show. Sunday night was no exception.
Indeed it wasn’t far off being as good as the legendary Dexter’s show a few years back when it looked at one point as if Vic was going to play all night.
He didn’t play all night on Sunday but the show had a nice flow to it building from a gentler start towards more of the punk era songs at the end of the set. Things really kicked off with instrumental ‘Imbalance’ through ‘Stool Pigeon’ to a scalding ‘Ambition’ to finish.
The encore was brief but rewarding – the Andy Williams version of the opening song in the set (‘I’ll Find Out Over Time’) and a quick blast through ‘Chainsmokin’’.
It’s a show that makes me want to go out and expand my limited Vic Godard collection and that can’t be a bad thing.
Support came from STOOR who played some of the highlights from the debut LP and even three new songs, the pick of which was probably the snappily titled ‘New Instrumental’ with its three false endings.
Stef had invited everyone to dance at the start and, you know, I came damn close. Every bit as good they’d been at the album launch in May.
Andy Wood had opened the show in his Hooker Without Jesus guise offering only up his voice and his words. Sometimes these took the form of the words from Hookers for Jesus songs but there were a couple of new pieces thrown in.
The pieces are all impressively different in tone, but many are laced with humour. Although his set was mostly spoken word, Andy showed a lot of guts to sing an unaccompanied ‘Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste’ to close with.
The show will take place on Saturday 23rd January at Beat Generator Live and will follow hard on the heels of the band’s third LP ‘Weem’ which will be released on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records the previous day (Friday 22nd).
After two critically acclaimed LPs on Chemikal Underground, ‘Mend’ in 2006 and ‘Prevention’ in 2009, the band split only to reconvene several years later.
Initially the band worked behind the scenes on recording their third LP returning to live performance with a show at Kid Canaveral’s Christmas Baubles in December 2013.
Shows have been intermittent since but the band are returning to full active duty with a string of Scottish dates to promote the new record.
Now officially a three piece, Martin John Henry (Guitar/vocals), James Woodside (bass) and Neil Woodside (drums), De Rosa have been joined on stage for this year’s shows by Gillian Fleetwood.
More info on the Dundee show on the Facebook event page.
Tickets are only available online for now here. More info on the show to follow.
The full list of De Rosa dates as its stands at the moment:
19th – Edinburgh, TBC
16th – Glasgow, Hug and Pint (as part of Celtic Connections)
23rd – Dundee, Beat Generator Live
30th – Edinburgh, Summerhall
31st – Aberdeen, Lemon Tree
Previously on MPT
Martin talks about the return of De Rosa (March 2012)
Glasgow’s Thula Borah have been on the MPT radar for the last few years and recently launched their new record ‘Hope For Disappointment’.
The band operate somewhere between rock and post-rock and HFD gives you a pretty good idea of their scope and, to these ears at least, marks a slightly different direction for the band.
Although only available on CD, the six tracks on ‘Hope …’ seem to have been sequenced specifically to suit a vinyl record with two distinct sides.
The three tracks on “Side 1” taken together make up the heaviest run of songs they’ve released to date.
Lead track ‘Bone Ships’ would be the obvious “single”. Its dreamy intro is deceptively short as a massive riff hammers in at the end of the first verse. Although they pull the same trick shortly afterwards you’re left hanging for further heavy gratification as the band build up the tension over the rest of the song before a glorious solo heralds (finally!) the return of that riff.
‘Estella’ keeps the adrenaline levels high with more crunching guitars and is a song that reminds me very much of the heavier side of NYC’s ‘The Big Sleep’. ‘Resonant Evil’ is the record’s only instrumental with its metallic riffing conjuring up strong memories of the late lamented ‘You Already Know’. At this point, on first listen, I did wonder if I was listening to a different band.
However “Side 2” sees the band ease back somewhat and return to more familiar guitar soundscapes. Nevertheless ‘I Never Made You Laugh’ manages to reach quite a crescendo from a typical quiet/loud dynamic.
Their Mogwai influences come to the fore on ‘Small Margins’, the music acting as a backing to (presumably) an audio extract whilst final track ‘Fairytale’ is a beautiful and haunting conclusion to the record.
Simply put ‘Hope For Disappointment’ is an exhilarating and affecting album of inventive guitar music, by turns assertive then introspective but never less than compelling. It’s also their best record to date.
With a run of shows to launch the record behind them Lloyd Fay (guitar/vocals) and Kev Heimann (guitars) took time to talk to MPT about what’s been happening with the band.
MPT: It’s been a couple of years since ‘Qualia’ when previously you’d managed a release every year – what have you guys been doing since then?
KH: “A couple of things just never went our way and that delayed the release.
“We actually started recording ‘Hope For Disappointment’ in May 2013 before the release of our previous album ‘Qualia’ and we put down the bulk of the EP but we decided to scrap it to work with Andy Miller again.
“We pretty much finished recording around summer 2014 but had some interest from a foreign label and some smaller local ones. We had lengthy talks with the foreign label about the release but it became too protracted and we would have had to further delay the release which we were not up for. The delay did give us the chance to get back into the studio and record another track for the EP, ‘I Never Made You Laugh’.
“It’s just been a very lengthy and at times frustrating process so it is great to finally have the EP out.”
MPT: The first three tracks on ‘Hope For Disappointment’ sound like a bit of a departure for the band in that they’re heavier and quite riff based. What inspired that approach and, in general, what sort of things (musical and non-musical) influenced the new record?
LF: “That’s interesting because there wasn’t anything conscious about that other than maybe placing the most aggressive songs towards the start of the EP.
“Whilst I’m a huge fan of heavy, riff based music I can’t say that it is something that has been strongly advocated that we move towards. These just happen to be, in our opinion, the best songs we have written over the past couple of years and hopefully the EP shows off some diversity in our sound too but I’m happy if our heavy side is coming to the forefront.
“I can’t think of any huge overarching themes or inspirations for the EP. Simon Baker’s book ‘Ancient Rome’ certainly had an impact on me when I was writing the lyrics for ‘Bone Ships’, perhaps for ‘Estella’ too in that there are ruminations on power corrupting in those songs.
“Music-wise, I can pick out the influence of Radiohead, Queens Of The Stone Age, Pelican, R.E.M., Mogwai and Sigur Ros. Some usual touchpoints but again, there was nothing I’m particularly conscious of us collectively listening to. For example, we all love Beck’s latest album but I’m not sure you’ll ever see that influence the music we release as Thula Borah. Then again, who knows!”
MPT: What is it that keeps you making music as Thula Borah?
LF: “I would say it is a compulsion. Beyond that it is quite hard to define. Certainly at this point in my life I can’t see me ever stopping writing songs and wanting to perform them. I suppose we have nothing to lose either. We have had some really nice feedback at our latest gigs too which always helps.”
MPT: What can folk expect from Thula Borah live shows?
LF: “Loud, heavy, intense music.
“Aside from our bassist Matt bobbing away I don’t think we are the most physically energetic band to watch .So in lieu of a good light show or visuals, which I really like playing alongside, I would say the audience should bring along a good imagination and just picture us flying through the crowd on harnesses whilst pyrotechnics shoot flamethrowers.
“We’re not a shoegaze band but looking back at footage of our gigs we do look down and at our fretboards a lot, so maybe we should start a genre called ‘fretgaze’.”
MPT: What are the plans for shows to promote the new release?
KH: “We’ve been playing a few shows around Scotland and we’ll hit the places we missed, Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee early next year. There are plans for an English tour next spring but we’ll see how that develops.”
MPT: Venues have been in the news recently with Venues Day – what are your favourite venues a) to play in and b) to see bands play?
LF: “I can confidently say our favourite venue to play is Nice N Sleazy, it is a great small venue and we have great memories of our gigs there.
“I realise being Glaswegian it is generally accepted that you should eulogise the Barrowlands as your favourite venue to see bands play and whilst I do like it I would also say personal favourites are Oran Mor and ABC2 can be nice for intimate gigs as well.”
MPT: How useful is social media in promoting a band these days?
LF: “Extremely useful. I would say it is indispensable. The music industry has gone through, and continues to go through, such a shift in the digital age that nevertheless I think is too early and too difficult to draw certain conclusions.
“I think you could say the internet has been a gift and a curse for music, but certainly in terms of promoting bands, social media is crucial in reaching people and it is pleasing how easy it is nowadays to reach people all around the world.”
MPT: What bands do you look up to at the moment, both from Scotland and further afield?
LF: “In terms of Scottish bands, although I probably mention them ad nauseam, it has to be Mogwai. We really respect how they have kept ploughing their furrow, doing their thing, whilst diversifying and developing their sound and just building their fan base to the extent I think you could say they are a genuinely successful band who haven’t compromised their artistry.
“Also, I really like and generally agree with what they say in interviews and they come across as really nice funny people.
“Further afield, predictably, I feel the same about Low and Sigur Ros, I generally find myself nodding in agreement when reading interviews with them and they seem nice, passionate folks.
“I don’t think we have too many musical heroes but without endorsing all the personal views held by these people I do respect the single mindedness of folk who are out there working prolifically to their artistic vision like Neil Young, Mark Kozelek, Ryan Adams etc.”
MPT: And finally a) what was the last show you were at and what was it like, and b) what’s been your favourite show that you’ve attended in 2015?
LF: “I was at Richard Hawley at the Barrowlands the other night, really on the strength of his previous album which surprised me with its heavy atmospherics. It was a great gig. His guitar tones are exquisite and the crowd was the right mix of reverential and rapturous.
“It was close to my favourite show of 2015 and finally seeing Mew this year comes very close too but I’m afraid I have to mention Mogwai again. Their 20th anniversary show at the Barrowlands this year was routinely brilliant, an awesome chronology that really showcased how consistently great they have been for a frightening number of years.”
‘Hope for Disappointment is available now from the band’s Bandcamp.
Here’s the video for the brilliant ‘Bone Ships’:
Thula Borah Facebook
Previously on MPT
Edinburgh E.P. launch live review
Thula Borah interview (May 2012)