Another Quiet Night Out In Dundee

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OK, looking back at last night, let’s concentrate on the positives.

First the bands – as well as being brilliant acts both Tuff Love and Bruising were an absolute joy to deal with.

Tuff Love seem to get better every time I see them and last night was no exception. Mixing up recorded tracks from the E.P.s and split single with just as good new songs, they demonstrated just how much terrific material they have and sounded tremendous.

Arms politely twisted to do an encore they played another new song ‘Duke’ which already sounds like it’s going to be a set highlight for the foreseeable future. In fact after the show Suse did promise an album before too long – can’t wait!

Sometimes you hear a couple of songs from a band which sound great but when you see them live – that’s all they’ve got. That emphatically wasn’t the case with Bruising who were everything I could have hoped for on the basis of songs like ‘Can’t You Feel’ and ‘Talk About Death’.

They performed a really strong set to back up the handful of tunes that they’ve released so far and they’re amazingly well behaved house guests as well!

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A big thank you to Andy for stepping in to open the show at very short notice – A Hooker Without Jesus indeed. It wasn’t at all surprising that the Hookers for Jesus material worked so well as spoken word but in amongst everything else it said a lot for Andy that he pulled it off given that it was probably extra stress that he could have done without.

That the bands sounded so good was entirely due to the efforts of Scotty Russell who did a fantastic job with the sound and played a huge part in making the evening such a musical success. Thanks, Scotty.

Thanks also to Alan Wilson for his help in getting another impressive slot in the Courier for the Tuff Love interview last week.

Thanks to Mrs MPT for the “Manic Pop Catering” which was appreciated by everyone and to the staff at Drouthy’s too for letting us run the show.

Finally, a big, heartfelt, thanks to our small but perfectly formed and extremely appreciative audience. Turn-outs like that can be quite disheartening but the fact that everyone there enjoyed themselves did help ease the pain.

You’ve got one last chance to catch Tuff Love and Bruising tomorrow night (Saturday 30th) at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen where they’re joined by Miaoux Miaoux. That’s a seriously impressive bill.

Here’s the MPT element of last night’s playlist (pre-bands):

Lioness – Blood Indians
Frack – STOOR
Safari – Breeders
Here Is Too Near – Book Group
National Sunday Law – The Paranoid Style
Jumpers – Sleater-Kinney
Drive Blind – Ride
Under A Rock –Waxahatchee
Horsehoe – Withered Hand
Blue Line – Let’s Active
Eyes So Bright – Cate Le Bon
Split Your Ends – Wire
Bright Yellow Gun – Throwing Muses
Felxi Baumgartner – Memory Man
Actor Out of Work – St Vincent
Atheist Money – Adam Stafford
Dust In The Gold Sack – Swearin’
Hard Light – Band of Susans
In My Head – Vladimir
Girls Like US – PINS

Tonight – Tuff Love and Bruising! at Drouthys in Dundee

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Daunting But Really Great – Bruising interview

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At times the Scottish scene seems a little … insular. Whilst I don’t think I’ve met a band who didn’t want to play further afield, a combination of geography and economics tends to limit any ambitions in all but the most determined.

A corollary of that is that bands of a similar level from down south rarely make the trip up here, at least not across my radar. WHich is  a shame because the bands I have seen (e.g. These Single Spies, Tigercats to name but two) tend to be rgeat.

So it’s a delight to be involved in a small way in helping with that sort of exchange with Thursday’s Tuff Love show in Dundee. Because thanks to the efforts of Johnny Lynch of Lost Map, tour support is Bruising – all the way from Leeds.

With only a handful of tracks available to date, Bruising probably don’t have much of a profile up here yet. But I strongly suspect that will change after the 4 dates this week.

Their wonderful track on a Beech Coma compilation tape (‘Can’t You Feel’) is one of my favourite songs of the year and further evidence of their promise came with their two tracks on the Art Is Hard 12” compilation Family Portrait pt II.

So ahead of this week’s shows Ben from the band gave MPT an idea of what Scottish audiences can expect from Bruising live.

“Bruising are Naomi Baguley who plays guitar and sings and Ben Lewis who plays guitar. We write and record everything together and are joined by our good pals James and Jack for live shows!

“Naomi and I met on a night out at The Cockpit in Leeds (RIP) – We got chatting about music (I was wearing a Perfect Pussy tee, Naomi is a fan, that was how the conversation started) – After a few facebook messages we started swapping song ideas and then finally got together and actually wrote some stuff.”

Ben is a little self effacing when describing what Bruising might sound like.

“Erm, Pixies and Weezer rip offs maybe? It’s just pop music, we love big pop songs so I guess it’s just that covered in fuzz and guitar riffs. Kinda poppy, fuzzy, dreamy, slightly noisy indie rock.”

It’s fair to say that many of Bruising’s influences are American as Ben explans.

“For me I’m a massive Weezer and Pavement fan, really big into Guided By Voices as well, a lot of early/mid 90s bands. Naomi is big into Lemonheads and Teenage Fanclub, then we both really love more recent stuff like Swearin, Waxahatchee, Trust Fund, Frankie Cosmos. And Taylor Swift, lots and lots of Taylor Swift.”

With the band starting to come together in rehearsals a name was needed. Ben is candid about what inspired their choice of name.

“I’m not wholly sure to be honest. I think I’d had a bank of band names I liked and this was one of them.

“For some solo stuff I did I’d had the thought of Cruising, but that’s a bit suspect sounding so I guess it could have stemmed from there?”

Bruising are a relatively new band but the first half of 2015 has already been quite a busy time for the duo.

“Yeah we put our first demo online in November last year and playing our first shows in January. We got asked to play for DIY magazine in London and figured we should probably do a little Leeds show before that one. So we put together a night with our friends Bloody Knees at a little bar in Leeds. It was fun.”

As mentioned above Bruising have put out tracks so far on a couple of compilations by different labels. Ben explained how the link-ups with Beech Coma and Art Is Hard came about.

“Our friend Harry who runs Beech Coma (an ace little tape label) asked if we’d put a song on one of his tapes. He’s a great guy and has been mega supportive since day 1 so we really wanted to do that.

“Then Art Is Hard got in touch. They’re a label we both really love and were into wayyy before being in the band. So being asked to do a release with them, especially alongside Abattoir Blues and Fruit bomb who are both great, was a real pleasure.

“I think for both us it’s just been really nice to work with both labels cos they’ve got a really nice scene of bands affiliated with them. Just loads of good people making really good music, it’s nice to be a part of.”

The Art is Hard compilation gave Bruising their first taste of touring which led to Ben’s favourite band moment so far.

“We just did a little tour with Abattoir Blues and Fruit Bomb for the AIH release, I think for me that’s been the highlight, getting to hang out with friends and play some great shows.

“We also just played live at leeds and ended up playing at Leeds Met Uni to about 1000 people, which was pretty daunting but really great too.”

Having been to Leeds for a handful of gigs (admittedly not to see local bands) I was interested to hear about Bruising’s peers and whether or not there’s a Leeds scene. It seems there is!

“It’s ace, there’s a load of bands at the top of the tree doing really well, Hookworms, Eagulls, PABH, Menace Beach and then loads of great smaller stuff and everyone’s just pals. It’s lovely. Everyone goes to each other’s shows and supports each other, it’s a nice place to be making music.”

In the circumstances it only seemed fair to ask Ben to recommend some of his pals.

“Menace Beach, Finnmark, The Orielles (kinda leeds), Walleater, Exit Earth. Our bassist James plays guitar in an awesome band called Don’t who are kind of Pavementy, slacker, laid back indie rock. And Jack our drummer plays in a couple of bands including Irk who are a really great noise rock band, Jesus Lizard/Drive Like Jehu type thing.”

Their soon to be touring partners figure highly in Bruising’s Scottish playlist.

“Tuff Love are mega, we’re super excited for these shows. I saw C Duncan the other day as well, he’s really great. The Vaselines, they’re Scottish right? And Life Without Buildings? I guess more recently, Honeyblood are really great, PAWS too. The Proclaimers, obviously.”

Um, obviously! Moving on, quickly, Bruising’s plans for the rest of 2015 are fairly straightforward.

“Write more, record more, release more, gig more!”

To conclude, it may simply be my problem but I had to ask Ben – can anyone can actually type Bruising without first typing Brusiing? He seems to suffer the same affliction as this scribe.

“NOPE, NEVER BEEN DONE, NEVER WILL BE.”

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Bruising support Tuff Love on their upcoming Scottish dates including Thursday’s date (28th May) at Drouthy’s in Dundee. More info here. Advance tickets available from Groucho’s or online here.

If you’ve not heard it, here’s the aforementioned ‘Can’t You Feel’:

The full list of dates is:

Wednesday 27th – Summerhall, Edinburgh

Thursday 28th – Drouthy’s, Dundee

Friday 29th – Glasgow, The Glad Café (as part of GoldFlakePaint’s Sucker Punch Festival)

Saturday 30th – Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree

Beech Coma Volume 3 is available on cassette (but only 32 left!) here whilst Art Is Hard’s ‘Family Portrait pt II’ is available on 12″ here.

Fun, Noise and Awkward Chat – Tuff Love interview

DEC- 2014  - LONDON : Artist:Tuff Love. Band members Julie Eisenstein and Susan Bear. ( Photograph by Graeme Robertson)

Tuff Love  – LONDON, December 2014
( Photograph by Graeme Robertson)

Good things, it seem, keep happening for Tuff Love.

Starting with signing to Lost Map around 18 months ago, the Glasgow band seem to have been on a startling upward curve ever since. Another remarkable milestone is being chosen for the coveted support slot for Ride on the UK dates of their comeback tour this weekend – starting this evening at the legendary Barrowlands.

Ahead of that tour and with a mini Scottish tour (which touches down at Drouthy’s in Dundee on Thursday 28th) following hard on its heels Julie and Suse reflected on a hectic six months since their last Dundee show.

But in truth there was only really one place to start.

“We’re so, so excited to be playing with Ride, we reaallly love their music! It came about through Tom from a promoter called Eat Your Own Ears who put us forward for the support slot. THANKS TOM! And of course, the ever hard-working Johnny Lynch! They’re big venues, so it’ll be quite a new experience for us, but we can’t wait!”

If the Ride shows are the band’s highest profile exposure to date, it’s fair to say that they are only the culmination of months of hard work.

“Since the show in November, we’ve released our second EP – ‘Dross’. We’ve made a music video for the second single of the EP, ‘That’s Right’, and we just finished a two week tour of the UK!”

Tuff Love have been fortunate in that, right from the start, they’ve been blessed with positive coverage and the duo confirm that the latest records have also been met with approval.

“We’ve had really good responses from people about the new stuff. We played a few shows on Record Store Day to celebrate Record Store Day and the split single we did with Lazy Day. I think a few people bought the record, so that’s a good sign :)”

That record came about as a consequence of the band’s networking with like-minded bands.

“We’d heard a few Lazy Day songs online and had asked them to play with us at the London launch for ‘Dross’. We’d had this song, ‘Groucho’ floating about for a while, and wanted to do something with it, so we thought it might be fun to do a one off single.

“We love Tilly’s songs so we asked her if she’d be up for releasing something with us. Thankfully she was!”

The recent English dates helped build the band’s ever growing following.

“The tour last month was ace. The shows were much busier than we expected – we didn’t really think people would come – and everyone was really nice. All the promoters were really great too, and we got to go to places we’d never been.”

The tour also offered an opportunity to see other bands around the country and Julie and Suse are enthusiastic about many of the bands that they played with

“We saw lots of great music during our last tour. A couple of the bands that come to mind are Jump the Shark who we played with in Birmingham and Belladonnas who we played with in Guildford.”

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Tuff Love acoustic on RSD15

The duo reckon there’s a simple formula to getting the band noticed.

“Make as much music as possible and pester people to listen. Send emails! It’s really nice playing gigs where there’s a good atmosphere and they’re not necessarily the biggest ones or the ones where you get paid. So I suppose if people are enthusiastic about the music and they want to put on a show, then that’s a good start.”

The band performed acoustically on Record Store Day – which was initially something of a surprise to this listener given how energetic the live shows are. But it’s something Tuff Love would like to do more of in future.

“We love playing acoustic actually. It’s really nice playing quieter gigs occasionally. Especially because neither of us have particularly powerful voices so it’s a treat to be able to hear ourselves. “

If the next couple of weeks will be given over to live shows, the hard work will continue away from the public eye after that.

“We’re recording at the moment and we should have another release coming in the next few months.

“A debut album is coming. We’re writing songs pretty relentlessly, so it could happen at any time!”

Looking forward to the Dundee show, they’re clear on what the upcoming shows will deliver.

“People should expect fun, noise and awkward chat. And music!”

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Tuff Love play Drouthy’s in Dundee, with support from Bruising, on Thursday 28th March in an MPT co-promoted gig with the Cool Cat Club. More info here. Advance tickets available from Groucho’s or online here.

The complete list of dates on the Scottish tour is:

Wednesday 27th – Edinburgh, Summerhall

Thursday 28th – Dundee, Drouthy’s

Friday 29th – Glasgow, The Glad Café (as part of GoldFlakePaint’s Suckerpunch Festival)

Saturday 30th – Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree

Here’s the video for the first track from the ‘Dross’ E.P.:

What You See Is What You Get – Book Group

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Malka / Book Group / Little Anchors – Duke’s Corner, Dundee – 20th May 2015

Even allowing for the fact that I’m getting old 9 pm is a ridiculously hard core time to be starting a gig on a school night. I didn’t have any chance of lasting the pace til the end of this show but it’s fair to say that I wasn’t alone in that regard as the crowd noticeably thinned during the course of the evening.

The principal reason for going was, of course, to see Book Group for the first time in nearly 6 months. And it was a much changed set from last time out. Never a band to rest on their laurels, they engaged forward gear fairly decisively last night opening with no fewer than 5 unrecorded songs.

Three of these songs had been aired at the tail end of last year but there were a couple of tunes completely new to me – the extended opener and the danceable ‘Opening Night’.

The only old tunes were effectively the hits – ‘Year of the Cat’, ‘Here Is Too Near’ and ‘Victory Lap’ bringing the set to a fine conclusion.

The preponderance of new tunes prevented this being a classic but I think next time might be.

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Little Anchors had opened the show. The tags they seem to have acquired worried me a little that and were pretty decent even if they perhaps leant closer to the heavier end of their influences. But there were times too when they conjured up pleasing hazy noise. Worth looking out for.

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Little Anchors

Sadly Malka suffered from the late hour in that I only hung around for a couple of tunes. Whilst definitely a band who are outwith this site’s usual terms of reference, I actually enjoyed what I heard and might explore further. When I’m less tired!

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Malka

Book Group played:

1. Season of Screams  2. Mayonnaise  3. Kickstart  4. The Art of Underachieving  5. Opening Night  6. Year of the Cat  7. Here Is Too Near  8. Victory Lap

Photos from the show here.

Worth The Wait – The Cathode Ray live

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The Cathode Ray / A Modern Masquerade – ‘Infinite Variety’ LP Launch – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh – Thursday 14th May 2015

One of my regrets over the last few years is that I’d not managed to catch the Cathode Ray live properly. Certainly last month’s Record Store Day performance was pretty good but I didn’t manage to catch a proper Cathode Ray show until Thursday’s album launch at the Voodoo Rooms. It was worth the wait.

Infinite Variety’ is already one of my favourite albums of the year drawing on the band’s post-punk influences but mixing these up with a range of new influences so it was no surprise that the live show was just as good mixing old songs and new.

‘Backed Up’ is an effective first track on the record and its live incarnation worked at least as well to open the show. The low key intro drew the audience in for that exquisite technicolour explosion midway through. The band were off and running immediately launched into their recent, frantic, single ‘Resist’.

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The rest of the set drew from both albums and the first (non-LP) single, ably demonstrating that the Cathode Ray have plenty of great material to fit into an hour.

Both sides of the debut single were given an airing with set closer ‘What’s It All About?’ sounding massive and several levels above the recorded version. Choice cuts from the debut LP included a ferocious ‘Patience Is A Virtue’ and the wonderful ‘Train’ whilst, of the new material, ‘Don’t Waste Your Words’ and ‘Nowhere At All’ were highlights.

It was still a bit of a surprise that some of my favourite tracks from the new record didn’t make the cut – no ‘Buck The Trend’ nor ‘This Force of Nature’  (both surely candidates for future singles) whilst the biggest disappointment was that epic album closer ‘Saving Grace’ wasn’t included (its absence apparently due to the band not having quite nailed it in rehearsals yet.)

It helps of course to have such an experienced all round band but there’s no doubting the key role that be-shaded guitarist Steve Fraser plays on stage. Whilst his parts were based on those on the record they certainly weren’t intended to replicate it note for note lending the show a little bit of unpredictability.

Called back to the stage after ‘What’s It All About?’, Jeremy admitted that they’d played all the songs that they knew so the band ripped through an impressive repeat of ‘Resist’ to finish.

This may have been the band’s first gig in two and a half years but it certainly didn’t show and I certainly hope it won’t be long before I get the chance to catch them live again.

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A Modern Masquerade

Unfortunately I wanted to like the much younger support A Modern Masquerade more than I did. A three piece most of the songs featured voice, guitar and drums although, for some, the singer supplied additional guitar.

They’re very much in that vein of heavy, slightly edgy, ever so slightly bluesy rock that is in vogue just now. In such a set-up the guitar plays a key role and it certainly helps them that the guitarist is extremely talented equally happy throwing out chunky riffs or playing some of the more fiddly bits.

For all that there’s plenty to admire in their performance they’re not quite my thing but nevertheless were not a bad way to pass half an hour.

The Cathode Ray setlist:

1. Backed Up 2. Resist 3. Lost and Found 4. The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul 5. Train 6. Don’t Waste Your Words 7. Around 8. Mind 9. Patience Is A Virtue 10. Nowhere At All 11. Get A Way 12. What’s It All About?

Encore

13. Resist

The Cathode Ray’s second LP ‘Infinite Variety’ is out now on Stereogram Recordings.

A second single from the album, ‘Buck The Trend’ is released on 1st June.

A Modern Masquerade’s debut single ‘In The Bad Books’ is out now. More info here.